Of Course: In Germany She's Defenseless

It should be a source of shame to Germans that their refugee policy has made present-day Iraq seem safer to those most victimized by ISIS.
A Yazidi teenager who was kidnapped by ISIS in 2014 and sold as a sex slave fled to Germany after escaping the clutches of an Islamic State jihadist. It was in the Western country where she again encountered her captor who sold her into slavery.

Ashwaq Haji, 19, was so traumatized over seeing the man on two occasions that she returned to Northern Iraq, France 24 reported.... “First, I thought it’s him. Abu Humam. But then I thought that can’t be possible,” she said in an interview, after encountering the man in 2016.

Haji said she saw him a second time earlier this year and he approached her.

“He told me he was Abu Humam. I told him I didn’t know him, and then he started talking to me in Arabic,” Haji said, adding that he asked her if she is Ashwaq. “He told me: ‘Don’t lie, I know very well that you’re Ashwaq.'”

She then said the man told her he knows she lives with her brother and mother and even repeated her address.

She moved back to Iraq with family to avoid seeing her captor again but they live in fear because he has family in Baghdad, Haji said....

She also said German police were not too helpful when she reported the incident.

“The police told me that he is also a refugee, just like me, and that they could not do anything about it,” Haji said.
At least in Iraq she can keep a Kalashnikov to hand. And if the police there get their hands on a former member of ISIS, they aren't too gentle about it.

Privacy as Weapon

Headline: "Meet the Special Counsel Team: So Careful They Won’t Even Disclose Their Shake Shack Orders."

Competing story, same case:
The judge will hold a hearing on a motion by CNN and media organizations to unseal the names and addresses of jurors as well as other parts of the trial that are currently secret.

“A thirsty press is essential in a free country,” the Judge said in announcing the hearing.
Is it usual for the court to consider making the names and addresses of jurors known to the press while the jury is still deliberating? Have I missed this feature of our legal system?

UPDATE: Judge denies motion.
The judge in Paul Manafort’s fraud trial said Friday he has received threats over the case. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III made the comments as the jury deliberated for the second day, and as he rejected a motion to release information about the jurors. He said he's confident the jurors would be threatened as well if their information was public.

Ellis said that because of the threats against him, he travels with U.S. Marshals.

“The Marshals go where I go,” Ellis said.


I typically despise governing by budgetary tricks, but at least this one is working in our favor.
Using an obscure budget rule, administration officials are planning to freeze billions of dollars in the State Department’s international assistance budget — just long enough so the funds will expire. The current plan involves about $3 billion, though officials are said to have discussed as much as $5 billion.

The White House plans to submit the package of so-called rescissions in the coming days, which triggers an automatic freeze on those funds for 45 days. The cuts would largely come from the U.S. funding for the United Nations, according to the aide.

With exactly 45 days left in fiscal 2018, the State Department wouldn't be able to use those funds even if Congress rejects the request because those dollars will have expired by Oct. 1.
What a shame it would be if the United Nations received less of our money.

Bad Reasons

So let's say that I have a legitimate authority of some sort; perhaps as a leader of a social group like the Rotary Club, it's my job to review arrangements we've made with other groups (perhaps to rent space for an event), to ensure that we are obeying the letter of the law. Now say that I find that one of our arrangements violates the law. It is within the scope of my legitimate authority to cancel that arrangement. Indeed, it is arguably my duty to do so.

What, though, if it happens to be that the arrangement in question is one that (a) I vocally disapproved of, and that (b) benefited someone I am known to despise? Does the fact that I didn't want to do it to begin with abrogate my duty -- or even my legitimate power -- to cancel the agreement? Does the fact that I might wish to harm someone I dislike outweigh the duty, or make illegitimate the otherwise legitimate authority to ensure adherence to the law?

Philosophically, the way to talk about this is the concept of 'overdetermination.' Overdetermination occurs when there are more causes in evidence than are necessary to drive the effect. For example, say a big rock doesn't float up off the bottom of the ocean both because it is too heavy to rise off the ground, and also because there is a sufficient weight of water atop it to hold it in place. If you removed the water, the rock still wouldn't rise off the ground. But if you (somehow) reduced the mass of the rock enough that it might get blown around by the wind, it still wouldn't move if the water remained in place. More than one sufficient cause is present to explain the effect.

This is sometimes thought to be a problem by philosophers (what isn't?). After all, an effect should have a sufficient cause; to say that something is overdetermined is to be unable to say what the cause 'really' is. Thus, to return to the Rotary Club example, in order to determine if I am or am not engaged in the legitimate use of authority, we need to determine if I am 'really' motivated by my duty, or by my animus.

That is the subject of David French's article today.
Only a blindly dedicated partisan would claim that lying to Congress doesn’t raise concerns about an official’s truthfulness and character. If that was the true reason for revoking Brennan’s security clearance, then he should absorb the blow, move on, and consider himself fortunate. He’s faced only minimal sanction for a serious offense.

But what if that’s not the real reason he lost his clearance? What if the real reason is the one articulated by President Trump himself in an interview with the Wall Street Journal? There, Trump decried the “rigged witch hunt,” declared that “these people led it,” and added that “it’s something that had to be done.”
This same habit of mind is behind the whole 'obstruction of justice' claim around the Comey firing, as well as the defeated lawsuits aiming to block Trump's temporary travel ban on certain named countries. Does a President have legitimate authority to fire the FBI director, especially given the abuses and failures chronicled by the Rosenstein memo? Of course! Was the firing thus legitimate? We've had more than a year of investigations aimed at determining the 'real' reason for the firing, and if that somehow eliminates the legitimacy of a clearly authorized action.

Same with the travel ban, as the Supreme Court agreed. The President clearly has legitimate statutory authority to do what he was doing; he also could be said, based on public statements, to have an animus at work. If we can show that his 'real' reason are rooted in the animus, does that make illegitimate the clearly legal and authorized action?

So too with border enforcement, etc.

As the rock example shows, though, my sense is that these overdetermination cases shouldn't be viewed this way. You could argue that it is 'really' the weight of the rock that is the cause of it being on the ocean's floor, as when it first fell into the ocean the the weight of the water wasn't on top of it yet. But that doesn't explain the 'real' cause of it staying on the floor now, only of it arriving there in the first place. Nor is it important to do so, since doing so requires disposing of a part of the truth of the matter. It is neither 'really' the case that the rock is held in place by its mass (plus gravitational attraction to the planet), nor by the weight of the water. You could remove either one of these things and the rock would remain in the same place. (Insofar as anything is ever in 'the same place,' given that planets spin around suns that spin around galaxy centers, etc; but to speak plainly, as we usually do.) What is 'really' at work is that both things have happened, and either of them suffices. It's not important to say which one is the 'real' cause.

What that means for actions from authority, I think, is that an action is legitimate if you can strip away the bad reason and still find a sufficient cause. You might caution a President against firing someone under these circumstances, but you shouldn't take him to court for doing it.

That is not to say that these aren't dangerous waters. The way to address them is to reconsider the scope of granted authorities, restricting it where it has been unwisely granted. Ultimately the security clearance is similar to the military commission in that both are rooted in special trust and confidence. The reason to permit former officials to retain a clearance is that you might want to ask them for advice or commentary on the problems you face, based on how those problems looked in their era. If you have lost all confidence in the person, such that you'd never consider asking them for advice, there is no reason for them to retain their clearance.

Yet that does point up the problem. A military commission explicitly states that it is founded on the special trust and confidence of the President. What if a President decides he cannot repose his (or her) special trust or confidence in political opponents? Such a President would have legitimate authority to revoke the commissions of all such opponents, thus purging military leadership for political reasons. Is that a wise power to invest in any President? It has worked so far, but it might be worth reconsidering.

Good Night, Ms. Franklin

Though I always think of Aretha Franklin first in connection with The Blues Brothers, she was a stellar performer. I learned today that she once stepped in for Pavarotti to sing a particularly difficult aria. While her style of music was never my favorite, I have to respect anyone who develops their capacities so thoroughly.

"What I Meant Was..."

An attempt at damage control doesn't work very well. There's a world of difference between "America was never that great" and "America is great, but could yet reach its full greatness."

Sweden Going Nationalist

The refusal by political elites to take cultural concerns seriously continues to provoke citizens. Sweden is one of the Scandinavian models for our own progressives, yet SWEXIT seems to be at hand. Do progressives think they can avoid provoking a similar reaction here, if it can't be avoided even in Scandinavia itself?

The headline writer attempts the usual trick of implying this is just a species of racism by altering a quote in the article for the headline. The headline reads, "I'm not a racist, but...", which might be read to imply that in fact the speaker really is a racist. What the speaker actually said is, "I'm not a racist because...." That's a different thought process. (UPDATE: Actually, it appears there are claims of both kinds in the article; my mistake.)

New Poll on Media Trust

According to CNN (so is it fake?), 51% of Republicans would say that the news media is the enemy of the people:

The poll from Quinnipiac University showed 51% of GOP respondents identified with President Donald Trump's "enemy of the people" line -- a result that reflected an ongoing partisan breakdown on the validity of the press.

If we change the wording to "certain news organizations are the enemy of the American people," then it jumps to 81% of Republicans.

Jesus Hanged Between Thieves

The Church is once again forced to face up to what it has recently allowed itself to become. There is no conclusion possible but that much of the hierarchy did more than look away from evil, but actively embraced it.

"Where Bikers Stare at Cowboys, Who are Laughing at the Hippies..."

"...who are praying they'll get out of here alive."

Washington Post: 'We have never seen a biker rally before.'

What do you want? The cartoon nipples are covered by the handguns. It'd pass Facebook's community standards.

Good Night, V. S. Naipaul

The famous author died two days ago, I have just learned. He has been mentioned in this space at least three times, most importantly to me because he wrote about the place where I grew up and a friend of my family. He wrote about them at a difficult moment, and was fair in his treatment. That is far more than most people were who spoke of that place at that time, and I have always appreciated it.

He also appeared here when he condemned the Islamic State. In addition to my own writings, Gringo mentioned his work in a series of comments on Communism and Catholicism in Latin America.

The obituary in the first link, above, celebrates him as savagely devoted to the truth, unsentimental and yet capable of great tenderness. This allowed him to think and to say powerful things. He lived and died an honest man, and few indeed can say that.

Who's doing the colluding, again?

RealClearInvestigation's Lee Smith continues to do good work on this.  More here.

A Historical Joke

This was billed as ‘the greatest joke you’ll never get,” but I assume all of you will get it.

Time Cop: I know you sent me back in time to kill baby Hitler, but I killed Woodrow Wilson instead.

Time Cop Chief: Who is baby Hitler?

Backwards on the Hurdy-Gurdy

This is said to be a medieval tune, but I haven't heard it before in decades of listening to early music. It's got an interesting structure, and I had no idea that you could do the trick with the backwards cranking of the hurdy-gurdy.

On Hardware Stores

I'm fairly certain that the local hardware store is a place where the denizens of the Hall feel familiar and comfortable.  Likely, it was also an important part of our youthful formation.  I remember going to the local hardware store with Dad, always eager to go look in the knife display to gaze longingly at the Buck knives,

or see what was new in the power tool section before going further in to get what we came for.  Here in the city, it was less a social environment than I'm sure it is elsewhere, but it was surely more social than many other places in the city.  Something about seeking help finding the part you needed or often the advice you needed to complete your home repair or project made for good neighborly connections in the course of that conversation.  In that vein, this is an excellent piece looking at the place of the local hardware store in American culture and society.