Russia vs. America: Two Views from the Left

Noam Chomsky vs. Thomas O. Melia push opposite lines on whether America is worse or better than Russia in terms of interference with elections. Chomsky points out that, in addition to electoral manipulation efforts by the CIA and others, America just overthrows countries and replaces their whole governments sometimes; Melia says much of what people like Chomsky are pointing to are efforts to improve democracy, and shouldn't be put in the same category as the CIA's activities (which he admits occur).

Chomsky dodges the fact that Russia also replaces governments it doesn't care for if it can, and has for decades; and just conquers nearby territories, sometimes, if it wants to do so. But there is a basic point here about which Melia is right that goes beyond that. America still has an ideology to push, which is liberty -- personal freedom, democracy, and the economic freedoms of capitalism. We'll see if that agenda survives the American Left's response to the Trump administration, but for now it is still what America does. Russia used to have an ideology when it was the Soviet Union; now it is just a gangster state trying to take for itself what it can. (Ironically, given the facts of the Communist ideology, this represents a substantial improvement in the character of the Russian state.)

America probably does interfere with other countries governance more often than Russia, and to a greater degree. It does so, however, in pursuit of a vision of the good. Is that adequate to excuse its violations of the sovereignty of other nations? That's a question that would require a lot of groundwork to explore.

Economics and Feminism

A very serious lecture, brought to you by Christina Hoff Sommers.

I think the basic assumption that bothers me most is that economists should somehow be in charge of something. She clearly views the profession of economist as being rightly of tremendous importance in shaping the world and ensuring just outcomes. In fact, economists just study what other people do and make theories about why it worked out that way. Some of these theories are better than others, but attempts to use economic theories to guide economic outcomes inevitably leads to worse economic outcomes. (For women, too.) Economists should stick to studying and thinking, and never be asked to run anything.

God Save the Queen

Johnny Rotten defends Donald Trump.

Because of Course

Tony Podesta was given immunity, to testify against a Trump campaign guy (Manafort).

As Ace says:
Meanwhile, Mueller has given yet another Hillary Clinton associate immunity, because Hillary Clinton associates are never prosecuted for crimes, only given immunity for them. Only people running against Hillary are prosecuted.
A similar rule: only judges appointed by Clinton or Obama hear Trump-prosecution-related cases.

Trailer for "Mayans MC"

This show is a spinoff of the famous 'Sons of Anarchy,' which had a great second season* from my perspective; I won't speak to the rest of the series. But this spinoff is worth giving a chance because it features Vincent Vargas of Range 15 / Art 15 fame. He's a great guy, and I hope whatever he works on does well.

* You might object, on moral grounds, to a show that glamorizes gangsters to whatever degree. There's an argument on that point at the link from the history of American cinema, and the crucial role that gangster movies have played precisely in dramatizing morality in the American context.


Speaking of Range 15 vets and new videos, here's Nick Palmisciano of Ranger Up's new project.

The Skills Gap

The CEO of Lockheed Martin, whose piece here was pushed out by the White House via its Twitter account, has some thoughts on how to address the skills gap within the context of helping American workers.

A glimmer

I give this Dutch writer a bit of credit for acknowledging that not all skepticism of popular scientific orthodoxy is an artifact of conservative troglodytism. He forces himself to admit that skepticism of GM foods and vaccines can come from all ranges of the political spectrum--implicitly even the left, though he never comes right out and says so.  Instead, he notes that suspicion about vaccines correlates with concerns about the morality of naturalness, while suspicion about GM foods is associated with ignorance.  He throws "religiousness" in there, but appears to means something like concerns about morality in general, and notes that whatever it is he's measuring probably is confounded with general ignorance.

Climate change skepticism, however, clearly has no explanation other than political conservatism. I doubt the writer even entertains the private suspicion that anyone with his eyes open would be a bit skeptical of many aspects of climate alarmism, and that the common thread there is the political bias (hint: not conservative) that prevents nearly everyone he associates with from closely examining the subject.

The writer finds it natural to gauge trust in science in large part on the basis of how enthusiastically someone supports federal financing of scientists.  How else would you know, right?

Even a Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut Now and Then

Ted Rall, very much not my favorite cartoonist, finds a point:

A Partial Answer to the Previous Question

James Comey:
All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall. Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.
Really? Anyone who votes Republican this fall is un-American, according to the former head of the FBI?

UPDATE: Is Joe Lieberman un-American too? He's arguing against voting for the Democratic nominee this year.

Who Do They Think They Work For?

A question that has been much on my mind lately as well.
Who Do These Guys Think They Work For?
What was fascinating about Strzok’s behavior and demeanor last week was his defiant, smug, arrogant, biased, catch-me-if-you-can attitude. It was almost as if he felt he was protected and above the law, but most assuredly, he felt he was untouchable and above Congress.

Yet the FBI, as a division of the Department of Justice, is subject to the oversight of Congress. Congress established the Justice Department in 1789—and it could unmake the Justice Department if it wanted. Congress provides funding that allows the department and the bureau to operate, and Congress has not only the right to oversee the actions of the FBI but also the obligation to ensure the bureau acts within its legal authority. What we saw Thursday was a smug bureaucrat who clearly has forgotten that in a constitutional republic, power flows from the people to their duly elected representatives who are to do the people’s business, which includes funding—with the people’s tax dollars—the various departments and agencies, followed by oversight of those departments.

So when you see Justice Department lawyers and federal agents arrogantly suggest that Congress go pound sand and wait around for the FBI, they’re not just telling Congress off: they’re telling the people off. They’re also communicating that an institution, a creation of our constitutional government, is greater than the Constitution and more sovereign than the sovereign people.
There is more, but that is for me the central point.

"Trump is Right to Doubt Obama Intelligence Community"

A piece by a right-leaning journalist named Jordan Schachtel. I met him once on one of my trips to DC, and he struck me as committed to the mission of journalism, by which I mean that he's definitely trying to advance his political agenda (which is at the core of journalism: 'comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable'), but that he's not willing to sell out his credibility to do it. If he publishes something, he has some reason to think it's defensible.

That said, the Nunes report concluded many of the same things as the Obama-era "consensus" report, which were reaffirmed by the recent indictments announced by Rosenstein. The timing of the announcement of those indictments is surely political, and intended to bracket the President during his Helsinki meeting: indictments that will never lead to arrests, such as these, could be announced at any time or never. The President's refusal to be bracketed in this way by publicly doubting the community attempting the bracket is going to cost him politically, but makes a kind of sense. Yet the similarity of the Nunes report's findings mean that the facts are probably not going to stray too far from the ones laid out in the indictments.

What that says to me is that there's a real attempt by the so-called "Deep State" to break out of its constitutional limits, and control the man whom the voters via the Electoral College appointed over them. Their refusal to investigate the servers, mentioned by the President in his controversial answers yesterday, is proof that they are defying the constitutional order. The move to bracket a president in foreign policy is out or order, no matter how much wiser the lesser bureaucrats in fact may be than the President. Even if their assumption of superiority is entirely correct, this is not their proper role.

It also says to me that the President should probably climb down a bit on his rhetoric, and accept that the question of Russian attempts at meddling is reasonably settled. The fact that they tried these various methods of influencing our elections is as reasonably well established as it probably can be in such a contentious environment, and there is a severable question of securing our elections that should be taken seriously apart from the machinations of the insurgent bureaucrats. Both problems need solutions, not one or the other.

UPDATE: See discussion in comments on the division; the President seems to be 'revising and extending his remarks' along these lines in front of Congress today.

Cyberpunk 2020

It's just about on schedule.

Calls for a Coup

This isn't even the first time.

Anarchy as God's Law

This is an interesting argument, not so much the Biblical interpretation as the basic claim that Ancient Israel represents an anarchy made possible by the moral law codified by Moses et al. He goes on to suggest a religious interpretation of history in which having a king is a kind of divine punishment made necessary by the lack of the internal moral code that would enable society to function without a king; and having 'the stranger among you rise up to rule over you' is an even harsher punishment arising from an even deeper rejection of the moral law.

So the thing to aspire to is something close to anarchy; and the way to get there is through genuinely moral behavior, so that internal restraints take the place of externally imposed controls. I certainly like the idea. I wonder how plausible it is, however. My internal moral restraints won't stop a foreign army from rolling over me. Internal moral restraints might, if they are held widely by the population rather than by an individual, enable the kind of political friendship that would allow us to pull together to defy a foreign invader without needing a powerful government to direct the effort.

Of course, the kind of resistance that would enable would be insurgent, and therefore would resemble a slow repulse of a conquering power rather than the ability to prevent the conquest. Consider Scotland in its war of independence from 1286-1320s, say: think of the army that knelt at Bannockburn before Edward II: "They ask mercy, king, but not of you." So you still end up with the ultimate punishment of being ruled by the stranger, but with a means to restore the blessed condition of independence.

The Scots happened to do this in part by choosing a king, rather than accepting the one they were told was appointed over them: and that idea that a people had the right to choose a king was revolutionary in itself, at the time. It was an important step on the road to America, and to wherever the road leads after America.

Obama Apologizes for his "Utter Lack of Shame"

At least, I assume that's what he meant to say here. I'm still enjoying that plan he told me over and over that I could keep, except that it was canceled and the closest equivalent now costs me five times what the old one used to cost.

FOX News Grills Putin

One thing I noticed in yesterday's press conference is that the Russian media was there to advance their national agenda, while the American media was there to put their President on the spot. They succeeded in doing that, and he answered in a way that was as bad a fit as possible for the context he was in. He'll pay a price for that, I imagine, although raising the issue of why the Department of Justice won't examine the DNC or Congressional servers in that context may force an actual answer to the question.

FOX News, though, sent Chris Wallace to advance the American agenda in another context. He was quite effective, though Putin remains a master of propaganda.

Snitch culture

A pseudonymous ex-SJW writes about how the mob he helped create came for him:
Within the world created by the various apps I used, I got plenty of shares and retweets. But this masked how ineffective I had become outside, in the real world. The only causes I was actually contributing to were the causes of mobbing and public shaming. Real change does not stem from these tactics. They only cause division, alienation, and bitterness.

Neo-Neocon: Strzok and the Otter Defense

I think Neo-Neocon has correctly identified Strzok's inspiration for his performance before Congress.

What they been sayin

The press seems more impressed with the information in the Mueller indictments than they did when it came out in a Nunes report.

It's worse than we thought

The Babylon Bee discovers the real scandal.


What do fathers do for their children? Hardly anything, we’ve learned.
Children with involved fathers are less likely to break the law and drop out of school. Guided by close relationships with their dads, these kids disproportionately grow up to avoid risky sex, pursue healthy relationships, and hold down high-paying jobs. They’re unlikely to become homeless or rely on welfare and more likely to have higher IQ scores than their peers by age three. Longer term, they suffer from fewer psychological problems and may be less prone to obesity.
It’s like these masculine hangers-on in the childrearing process don’t appreciate that they are useless. Can’t they just make way?