Fake news

As Mollie Hemingway says, if a poll shows that 53% of D's, 79% of I's, and 92% of R's believe the press lies to us on purpose, and then the press reports only that 92% of Rs don't trust them, that's an example of fake news right there.

The figure works out to 72% of everyone put together.  The press couldn't even get the support of a majority of Democrats, for Pete's sake.  CNN's ratings have dropped below those of the Food Channel.  Yet somehow commentators don't conclude that Trump gets support from people disgusted with the press, they conclude people are disgusted with the press because Trump undermined their sterling reputation.

Update:  Sheryl Attkisson's 52 times the press misrepresented the news about President Trump.

Be careful whom you sue

Mueller's PR stunt of filing charges against Russian companies unexpectedly pitted him against flesh-eating lawyers for a client with nothing to lose.  The prosecution is horrified by the prospect of having to turn over Brady material to the defendants.

Candlemakers vs. the Sun

Basquiat poked fun at protectionist trade policies by pretending to petition on behalf of French candlemakers for an end to the importation of below-cost sunlight.  The only flaw I can find in his argument is that we can't see any plausible way one of our trade competitors can cut off our sunlight after we come to depend on it.

Lately, if I understand the President properly, he's taken to saying he'd actually prefer zero tariffs, and is imposing tariffs only to show other countries the cost of the ones they impose on us.  Is this really like saying we should shut out the sun because other countries are doing the same to themselves?

Whether this really is a flaw in the President's economic theory or not, however, it does seem as though the strategy can work.  Trading partners do respond to the threat of tariffs, sometimes, by agreeing to moderate their own.

The Flight 93 Campaign

I missed this Michael Anton essay from shortly before the 2016 election:
2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.
Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.
To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic. The stakes can’t be that high because they are never that high—except perhaps in the pages of Gibbon.
The story has a happy ending:
Michael Anton ... was a senior contributing editor of American Greatness from July 2016 until January 2017. He currently serves as deputy assistant to the president for strategic communications on the National Security Council.

Wild Irish Rose

Some of you might be celebrating a bit this weekend. Here's a faithful companion for you... well, a companion, in any case.

There's too many of these songs to include them all. Some are old, and some are very sad, but it's a well-known theme.

Another narrative buster

The man early reports were itching to identify as some kind of alt-right NRA nut shooting up the liberal press turns out to be a shotgun-toting guy with a Hispanic surname, no obvious political connection, basically a disturbed young man with a history of scary obsessions.  Here's the lawsuit that started his vendetta against the Annapolis newspaper in 2011.  He believed the newspaper painted him in an unfair light after his guilty plea on an internet harassment charge.  His terrified harassment target has long since moved out of state and sleeps with a gun by her bed.  It's a shame no one at the newspaper office was similarly armed.

As ithers see us

HotAir looks at a poll on how Rs and Ds misperceive each other:

If you replace "Agnositcs or atheists" with "unaffiliated," the Rs are a little less off:  the portion of Ds would be 26%.

Might Be Fun

An alternative reality fiction called Vikingverse. I don’t know anything about it beyond what’s at that page, but it could be of interest to some.

Am I ever out of it

Real Clear listed 19 female characters that "changed TV or movies forever."  I'm kind of into this sort of thing, but I'd never heard of a surprising number of them:

1.  Princess Leia, Star Wars: OK, I at least noticed her as an early attempt at a female who was more than a prize or a McGuffin.

2.  Jane the Virgin: I may have heard of her, not sure.

3.  Clair Huxtable: I've heard of her but never watched The Cosby Show that I can recall.

4.  Mary Richards: I did watch some Mary Tyler Moore show episodes as a kid.  Did they fill me with the conviction that I could make it on my own?  I can't recall.  I guess it's possible.

5.  Sophia Burset, Orange Is the New Black: Heard of it but never watched it, no idea who she is.

6.  Jessica Huang, Fresh Off the Boat: Never heard of it or her.

7.  Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games: I think I watched it, but it made so little impression I'm unsure.

8.  Annie Hall, Annie Hall: I certainly remember her.  Perhaps she made an impact as a not-entirely-unfair take-down of a bit of a ditz who was afraid of spiders and ended up the kept woman of some soulless Hollywood mogul.

9.  Letty Ortiz, Fast and Furious:  I'm almost sure I watched this movie, but I retain no memory of her.

10.  Coffy, Coffy:  Never heard of it or her.

11.  Elle Woods, Legally Blonde:  I'll give them this one.

12.  Hermione Granger, Harry Potter:  I at least noticed her, without experiencing much impact.

13.  Annalise Keating, How to Get Away with Murder:  Never heard of it or her.

14.  Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman:  I know the character but not the movie.  Not particularly my thing, even as a kid when the comics were popular.

15.  Olivia Pope, Scandal:  Never heard of it or her.

16.  Mulan, Mulan:  I've heard of her, never saw it, can't remember what it's about.

17.  Rebecca Bunch, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend:  Never heard of it or her.

18.  Minda Lahiri, The Mindy Project:  Never heard of it or her.

19.  Ellen Ripley, Alien:  I'll give them this one.  I genuinely identified with her.

No Sarah Connor?  Emma Peel?  The Geena Davis character in The Long Kiss Goodnight?  Not even, maybe, G.I. Jane?  I was quite taken with the Patricia Arquette character in True Romance, as well as Riff Randell from Rock'n'Roll High School, even Rosalind Franklin in The Race for the Double Helix. I am truly a lost demographic.

Goodnight, Anthony Kennedy

The Justice is retiring at the end of July. If the Republicans in the Senate can get their act together, they should have plenty of time to confirm President Trump's chosen replacement.

Soon we will hear the sound of lamentations.




Where did the union money go again?

HotAir helps us with the hard math:
If you want a better look at how “balanced” things are in terms of union support for Democrats and Republicans, why don’t we just look at the entity being sued in this Supreme Court case? It’s the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). How well do they spread their money around between the two parties? For that answer, we need look no further than Open Secrets to see what proportions of the more than $10M they spent in the 2015/2016 election cycle they spent where. Let’s take a peek at their outside money spent for or against candidates in those years, shall we?
Independent Expenditures: $8,340,618
For Democrats: $2,661,233
Against Democrats: $0
For Republicans: $0
Against Republicans: $7,562,498
Electioneering Communications: $0
Communication Costs: $1,883,204
Let’s see… the total spent for Democrats or against Republicans adds up to $10,223,731. And the amount spent for Republicans or against Democrats adds up to… hang on. Let me get my calculator out here. (carry the two…. six gozinta 14…) There we go. It adds up to zero. Zilch. Nada. In more technical terms found in post-graduate math classes, that’s known as bupkis.
So would you care to explain to me once more how this is an issue which hits both parties? I’m a bit slow and wasn’t really a math major so you may have to use small words.

Maxine Waters, campaign gold

I really thought Maxine Waters was giving Trump a gift earlier this week.  I keep saying, "Louder, and in front of more cameras!"

When socialism works

Tim Worstall argues that socialism can work as long as it's voluntary.  (I've always said it works great under my roof.)
But the two important words there are voluntary and sometimes.
For example, an employee-owned integrated steel company is going to be a rare beast. It’s unlikely that 10,000 workers are going to have a couple of billion in capital to build one, and if they did, they’d be fools not to diversify.
Employee ownership should, in theory, work well when it is human capital that is the vital ingredient in the recipe, but less so when it is physical such which matters.
The voluntary part should be obvious. If people desire to organize themselves into less and more communal forms of production, then good luck to them.
... What we need is a method of sorting through what works best when—and that’s where the market comes in.
The decision about what is the best form for a specific task is not something to be derived from theory in advance—it’s emergent from market competition.
There's that crazy notion again: finding out what works.

Not Winning in Reality

Five years and change in Federal prison for one Reality Winner.

I hate to see a free person reduced to chains and cages. I wish we had a better system for the few laws we really need to enforce, and fewer laws by far that demand to be enforced. Nevertheless, there are some laws that any nation has to enforce if it is to remain free and sovereign. It has to defend its borders, and it has to punish treason. Five years in prison is not a gentle punishment, but once this would have been seen as a capital crime.

What doesn't kill us

The New York Times is admirably upbeat about how unions will emerge from the destruction of their extortion-and-bribery circular financing system stronger than ever before.  "The more you tighten your grip, Lord Vader . . . ."  According to the Grey Lady,
Still, the more interesting question is whether the unions, whatever the blow to their ranks and finances, will be substantially weaker.
Union leaders insist that they won’t — that the crisis posed by the case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has brought more cohesion and energy to their ranks.
“No one wanted this case,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “But the gestalt around the country has been to turn an existential threat into an opportunity to engage with our members like never before.”
That's the spirit.  It was never about the money!  Now that we can't force you to give us money, can we engage?

Getting Excited About Smaller Government

Democrats everywhere have suddenly gotten the bug! Instead of hearing about what parts of the state they want to expand or deepen, Democrats everywhere are talking about what they want to abolish.


They haven't gotten as far as an "Abolish" hashtag yet, but the discussion on #ElectoralCollege is pretty negative too.

The other Loretta Lynch bombshell

I thought the rap against former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was the July 2016 tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton, at which they would like us to think they discussed nail polish and fantasy football rather than how to save the Clinton campaign from the email scandal. Inspector General Horowitz tells us, however, that the Russians ostensibly intercepted a Debbie Wasserman-Schultz email to a Soros operative.  In the email, DWS supposedly quoted Lynch's assurances to the Clinton campaign that the feds would go easy on Hillary Clinton:
What is known, based on press leaks and a letter Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sent Lynch, is that in March 2016, the FBI received a batch of hacked documents from U.S. intelligence agencies that had access to stolen emails stored on Russian networks. One of the intercepted documents revealed an alleged email from then-DNC Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz to an operative working for billionaire Democratic fundraiser George Soros. It claimed Lynch had assured the Clinton campaign that investigators and prosecutors would go easy on the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee regarding her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state. Lynch allegedly made the promise directly to Clinton political director Amanda Renteria.
The FBI apparently took the document seriously but never interviewed anyone named in it until Clinton’s case was closed by Comey in July 2016. The next month, the FBI quizzed Lynch informally about the allegations. Comey reportedly also confronted the attorney general with the sensitive document and was told to leave her office after getting a frosty reception. No other parties mentioned in the document have been interviewed by the FBI.
The current theory is that it was this intercepted transmission, rather than the tarmac meeting, that led Comey to go off the reservation and cut Lynch out of the loop in his decision to go public with investigations of Clinton.  He claims to have begun worrying about Lynch in September 2015, when she asked him not to refer publicly to an "investigation" of Clinton but instead to call it a "matter."  Comey presumably didn't know any more than we now know whether the intercepted message was real or a fabricated Russian ruse, but he obviously found it credible enough to support his pre-existing doubts about Lynch.

I don't know quite what to think of Comey.  The man blew his ethical obligations six ways from Sunday, but he does not seem to have been operating as a straightforward Clinton or even Democratic operative.  I wonder if even he knows exactly what he was up to.  My guess is Lynch did, though.

Pelosi's likely successor loses his NY primary

This is a race I haven't followed at all, but the people who have been paying attention seem shocked. Her politics are abhorrent to me, of course, but I always enjoy seeing the outspent candidate come from behind to win, particularly if the incumbent couldn't be bothered to attend two primary debates. And if you're going to be a socialist, just go ahead and be a socialist, enough with the camouflage.

Another Paper on Trygvasson

This site has some entertaining papers.

BREXIT Bill Becomes Law in UK

The UK has recently proven that it has a lot more problems than EU membership, but this is a step forward.
Speaker John Bercow said the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which repeals the 1972 European Communities Act through which Britain became a member of the bloc, had received royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II.

The bill transfers decades of European law onto British statute books, and also enshrines Brexit day in British law as March 29, 2019 at 11pm (2300 GMT) -- midnight Brussels time.... Eurosceptics celebrated the passing of the bill through parliament last week as proof that, despite continuing uncertainty in the negotiations with Brussels, Brexit was happening.

"Lest anyone is in any doubt, the chances of Britain not leaving the EU are now zero," International Trade Minister Liam Fox said.
I'm fairly Bayesian about probability theory. I'll accept that the probability is zero when the countervailing probability has risen to one, i.e., when it's happened and not before.

Now on to Scotland's next independence referendum. Smaller government isn't always better government, but that's the way to bet.

Even Sweden Questions the Welfare State

It’s depicted as ‘nationalism,’ and maybe; but it’s not expansionist or aggressive. ’Of course we all want to help people, and we realize we are lucky. But keeping Sweden a good place to live means protecting its wealth and culture.’

Wretchard has lately been employing a shipwreck metaphor. He mixes it a bit, but there are good insights there.

Mitch McConnell: "You're welcome"

The Supreme Court, freshly joined by Neil Gorsuch, rules in favor of President Trump's travel ban 5-4.

Fluid messages

Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.

This would be nice

Insulin dependence is no picnic.  We may be on the path to an oral insulin-delivery system that solves at least two huge problems:  the resistance to multiple daily injections and injectable insulin's critically short shelf-life even when refrigeration is available.

Showing up in fly-over country

From a North Dakota Rep.:
Nearly one-third of the Democrats now serving in the U.S. House of Representatives come from just two states, California and New York.

Careful what you ask for

“So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.” ...

Olav Trygvasson and Violent Conversion

An essay.


The Border Patrol's parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, has stopped referring migrants with children for prosecution. They claim the 'zero tolerance' policy is still in effect, but since they have been ordered not to separate parents and children, and since there is no legal way to hold the children under existing law and jurisprudence for more than 20 days, they simply cannot do everything they've been told to do.

One might think that this is a sort-of mutiny at CBP, but it's really just a basic contradiction in their orders. They're ordered to arrest everyone and hold them for prosecution; they're also ordered not to separate the alleged parents from their children. They can't do both of these things, so they're failing. Failure is what will usually happen when one programs any system to do contradictory things.

I rather liked Dianne Feinstein's bill on this issue, by the way, because it would have built a similar contradiction into nearly all Federal law enforcement. Anywhere within 100 miles of a border or port of entry, such as an international airport, Federal agents would have been barred from separating parents from their children -- "parents," not "illegal immigrant parents" or anything similar. Pretty much all Americans with children would have been liberated from obedience to Federal laws in one fell swoop.

The head of CBP says he's working to 'develop a plan' on this issue, but I'll be surprised if he can come up with one. New orders will need to be written, preferably by the legislature, that redoes this tangle of old laws and court rulings and newer executive orders.

Security vs. Law Enforcement

A surprisingly philosophical account of the distinction, and why the border crises must be solved as a species of the former.

Soccer Editorial Comment

For those of you following the World Cup, this, which my wife ran across:

Interviewer: "Do you think Brazil's 1970 team can beat today's Argentina?"

Pelé: "Yes."

Interviewer: "By how much?"

Pelé: "1-0"

Interviewer: "That's it?"

Pelé: "Well, most of us are over 75 years old now."


Eric Hines

Thinking Things Through

In 2006, I wrote a piece diagnosing what I thought was going wrong with the country. It was called "Time for a Change." It was a very long piece, but it was built around the idea that the Federal institutions were failing and exposing key fault lines in the nation. We got through the rest of the Bush administration and all of Obama's without reaching the point of absolute failure, but the stresses identified mostly kept growing. Now, with even USA Today publishing pieces that openly wonder about civil war, I wonder how much longer before the shear forces tear us apart.

These days, after twelve years' more experience, I would name mostly different solutions than the ones that seemed plausible to me then. One area where I still think the solutions look similar is the problem posed by the Federal judiciary, and its penchant for imposing one-sized-fits-all solutions on a divided America. That's where so much of the tension is coming from. If we could fix that, we could live together in peace on most issues.

Consider a point Gringo made in the comments below, on the issue of Lexington, VA. I pointed out that Lexington is a town with a particularly unwelcoming structure for 'woke' politics. He responded:
Lexington city voted ~2:1 for Hillary, while Rockridge County voted ~2:1 for Trump. Which gives me the impression the restaurant won't lose much business.
If that's true, then even in the reddest parts of America many cities are blue. And that seems right, because the same holds for towns like Birmingham, Alabama; or Athens, Georgia.

There are a few issues, like immigration, where ending one-size-fits-all can't solve our problems. Yet there are very many issues where a solution that allowed rural areas to have different laws from urban ones would greatly reduce the tensions facing the nation.

Of course, that requires a change to the Constitution, which requires a supermajority of states to go along with it. It's a hard pull to get there in a nation so divided and whose divisions are so contemptuous of each other.

Rumbles in the Forest

"Is America headed to a civil war" asks... USA Today. Well, it's the Sage of Knoxville writing in the pages of USA Today, but the editors agreed to publish the piece. That this newspaper of all of them would carry a piece warning about a potentially imminent civil war suggests to me that the idea is now completely mainstream.

Who knows? We might catch up to Mexico in political assassinations sooner than anyone thinks.

UPDATE: Calls for more.

Interesting Point

A former lawyer (J.D. cum laude, according to her bio), writes in defense of the 'separation of parents and kids is bad' thesis -- but without exception.
Indeed, studies show that maternal separation is a major stressor even in newborn infants. And fifty years of social science evidence teach us that, on average, children separated from one or both biological parents fare worse, across virtually every measurable indicator, than children who have not been separated from their own married parents.

Given how crucial intact families are to human flourishing, it is appalling that a purportedly pro-life and pro-family Trump administration would use any measure of its discretion to rip families apart. But I would also note that many of those loudly championing children at the border take an incompatible position when children are separated from their parents under other circumstances.

Children’s need for their parents in cases of intentional single-parenthood, divorce, surrogacy, and abortion, is no different than the needs of the children at the U.S. border. In these cases, though, the same needs of children to be raised by those who are most likely to fully invest, care for, and protect them — their biological parents — are ignored.

This is not to say, such as in the case of most adoptive parents, that there are not heroic individuals out there who have stepped up to give non-biological children the best life possible under what would otherwise be extremely difficult circumstances. This is also not to say that divorce is never warranted — although modern attitudes about the purposes of marriage and the no-fault system have overwhelmingly been a bust for children.

The 1970s models of thinking that “children are resilient” in the face of divorce has given way: “The myth of the good divorce has not stood up well in the face of sustained social scientific inquiry – especially when one considers the welfare of children exposed to their parents’ divorces,” observes University of Virginia sociologist Bradford Wilcox.
She goes on to more anecdotal examples, which are not to my thinking as strong. But there's an interesting point there, one that echoes a line of thought that Chesterton advanced. Chesterton is so frequently on the side of the contemporary Right that it is easy to think he isn't going to be very challenging for an intellectual on that side of the fence. Yet he is not always so, and this favoring of the family over capitalism is one of the ways in which he is not:
If it be true that Socialism attacks the Family in theory, it is far more certain that Capitalism attacks it in practice...So the factory is destroying the Family in fact; and need depend on no poor mad theorist who dreams of destroying it in fancy.
This is from a piece called "The Superstition of Divorce," written at a time when widespread divorce was more theoretical than actual. The Right has moved on from that ground, for the most part; this one former attorney being a rare exception.

How Are Things South of the Border?

Headline: "Extraordinary moment Mexico arrests town's ENTIRE police force of 28 officers 'over murder of a mayoral candidate' amid country's bloodiest election campaign."

120 candidates have been murdered since September. This one was a rather extraordinary moment -- the assassin just walked up and shot him in the back of the head, and then walked freely away. But it's only one of three such murders in the last week or so.

Fun with neologisms

Zero Hedge introduced me to two new words this morning.  I fell for them briefly, then realized they are both amusing examples of turning the tables in the endless propaganda effort to coin words containing unexamined and unearned insults.

One was "pedophrasty," literally meaning not much more than "verbal expressions involving children," but in context the callous use of children as political cannon fodder, as in "How can we ever arrest adults who have a connection of any kind to children who would not be able to accompany them into a jail cell?"

The other was "bigoteering. " I particularly like that one, because I've long been interested in what happened to the word "profit" when it was transformed into "profiteering."  Originally "eer"was fairly neutral suffix along the lines of "-er" or "-or," meaning "person who engages in."  Some time back, it became a little shady.  If the Royal Navy is honorable but letters of marque are not far removed from piracy, then the suspect "private" easily becomes "privateer."  If profit becomes a filthy enough concept, "profiteering" acquires a sneering veneer.  Soon any word can be similar sullied by adding "-eer," so it seems fair that unscrupulous scandal-mongers (mongeers?) should be pilloried with the term "bigoteering," with its hint of using imaginary bigotry in others for one's own personal gain.  So we might also have "ecologeering" and "equiteering."

Fun with curve-fitting

These are the great results you can get if you look backwards at brief intervals of data and don't check your results by hypothesizing a causal mechanism, making a prediction, and finding out whether your curves match into the future.  For instance, there is an uncanny ten-year correlation between the number of letters in the winning word in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the number of people killed by venomous spiders.