The week in pictures

PS, Our little non-hurricane mostly passed through during the night. We had 4.2 inches yesterday, bringing our September total to 15-1/2. Not a problem here at Chez Tex, of course, where we have learned that weather continues to happen.

Vote Cimmerian Party


Haga Widely Available This Week

This Better Not Be Haga

A mysterious letter semi-surfaces, occasioning a cryptic comment from a Senator, who passed it to the FBI, who passed it to the White House....
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) dismissed the controversy on Twitter.

“Let me get this straight: this is [a] statement about [a] secret letter regarding a secret matter and an unidentified person. Right."

The "Basic Instinct" Defense

As I remember the movie, Sharon Stone's character says she'd have to be an idiot to write a book about killing someone and then kill them in just that way. This perversely then serves as a defense against the charge.

Turns out real life works that way sometimes too.


Pennsylvania is not the place I would have thought this would start, but there it is.
A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House would prohibit enforcement of some federal gun control laws. Passage of this bill would take a big step toward making Pennsylvania a sanctuary state for gun owners.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R- Cranberry Township) introduced House Bill 357 (HB357) on Sept. 5, with 41 bipartisan cosponsors. Titled the “Right to Bear Arms Protection Act, the bill would declare any Federal law which attempts to register, restrict or ban a firearm, or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm,
“unenforceable within the borders of this Commonwealth.” This restriction would apply to both federal and state agents....

The federal government relies heavily on state cooperation to implement and enforce almost all of its laws, regulations and acts – including gun control. By simply withdrawing this necessary cooperation, states and localities can nullify in effect many federal actions. As noted by the National Governor’s Association during the partial government shutdown of 2013, “states are partners with the federal government on most federal programs.”
It's not like they're starting the pick-and-choose-the-laws-you'll-enforce "sanctuary" thing.

Two-edged leaks

From RealClearInvestigations:
Another recent Times story that has raised eybrows is its Sept. 1 account of the FBI’s efforts to recruit Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch close to Putin, as an informant. Published just days after the release of documents showing that the DOJ’s Bruce Ohr was in close contact with Christopher Steele, who was employed by Deripaska’s London lawyer, the Times story reports that the FBI operation included Ohr and Steele. According to the Times, Deripaska was one among half a dozen Putin associates that the FBI attempted to recruit for the purpose of reporting on Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
A congressional Republican source who spoke to RCI on the condition of anonymity is skeptical of the Times’ account. “The takeaway is that in trying to flip a Putin-allied oligarch, the FBI told Putin that they’re investigating his interference in the 2016 elections. That is not a good look. It looks like the story they’re trying to bury is that in the period leading up to the FBI’s using the dossier to get a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign, a senior DOJ official whose wife [Nellie Ohr] worked on the dossier is meeting with the author of the dossier, who works for a Putin ally.”


AVI has some thoughts on this idea that a 25% share of a population is enough to move it. I'll just add this data point.

Do voters care about the Supreme Court?

Surprisingly enough, it seems they do:
“It’s really not a top-of-mind thing for people on the street,” said Barrett Kaiser, a Democratic strategist in Montana. “The guys sitting on the barstool right now are talking about the harvest and hunting season and could care less about inside baseball in Washington, D.C.”
A Democratic strategist in Indiana agreed. “I’m not sure people [were] watching hearings as intently,” said Robin Winston, former chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party. Both strategists said the final vote would likely play a role for voters, although probably not as a make-or-break issue.
Some of the polling in some of these states, however, suggests otherwise. A Trafalgar Group survey over the summer showed Manchin with a 29-point lead over Republican Patrick Morrisey -- as long as he voted for Kavanaugh. Conversely, the poll showed Manchin’s lead narrowing to only two percentage points if Manchin did not vote for Trump’s nominee.

A Wild 9/11 Anniversary

A section of headlines on Drudge from yesterday:

Be careful out there, ok?

UPDATE: Violent threats aimed at Sen. Collins and her staff.

The Logan Act Is or Isn't A Thing?

After having used the Logan Act as a pretext for the whole Russia investigation, you'd think that our friends on the left would be more sensitive to actual violations of it.

National Emergencies at the Stately Speed of Bureaucracy

A new executive order:
The executive order, signed just two months ahead of the November's midterms elections, addresses not only interference with campaign and election infrastructure, but also propaganda efforts.

The order, which is considered a national emergency due to sanctions authority requirements, instructs the Office of National Intelligence and the intelligence community to conduct regular assessments about potential foreign interference in elections.

The process, according to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and White House national security adviser John Bolton, would take a total of 90 days.
So, you might ask, the election's in two months, but in three months we'll have an assessment of whether or not anyone is trying to interfere?

Oh, no. No, the 90 days doesn't start until after the election.
Following Election Day, the intelligence community would have 45 days to collect data and assess whether interference had occurred.

At that point, the agencies would pass the findings to the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security, where officials would have 45 days to make their assessment based on the intelligence information, and decide whether to pass sanctions on potential actors, countries, or institutions that participated in potential interference.
Shouldn't we be doing this now, in the hope of preventing foreign interference in our elections?

Not Looking Good By Comparison

It's a bad deal when the Catholic Church's sex scandals compare unfavorably to those of the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader. Trying to get one's wife to wear a blindfold is downright tame. Swinging with the maid, well, isn't he entitled to another few wives anyway?

Meanwhile at the Vatican:
Satan is working to uncover the sins of bishops so that they will be visible and a cause of scandal, Pope Francis said during his homily at Mass on Tuesday.

“This is good to remember, in these times in which it seems that the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible, in order to scandalize the people. The Great Accuser, as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, 'roams the earth looking for someone to accuse'."
People might be scandalized by the uncovering of sins, but the real scandal is occasioned by the Church helping wicked priests to avoid accountability for the crimes.


This story was re-posted because of yesterday's anniversary. If you want to revisit something inspiring, it's a good choice.

Lies and Chardonnay

Senator Kamala Harris, who like Senator Booker is using the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings to grand-stand in pursuit of higher office, put out a deceptively edited video that she chose to describe as a "dog whistle." In fact, the claim she was deceptively trying to attribute to Judge Kavanaugh was merely used during his description of the plaintiff's claims; he was not endorsing their description, merely describing what they said was the issue. Politifact, not always a friend to the Republican party, reviewed Sen. Harris' claim and labeled it clearly false.

What do you do when you're caught in a lie? Apologize? Promise to do better?

Of course not. You call for supporting fire from someone with no ethical issues that would stop them from endorsing your lies.

I hope that the Democrats realize that President Trump's vulnerabilities are his refusal to show proper respect for others, and his penchant for being completely careless about the truth. Trump wins in spite of these qualities, not because of them. He wins because he is the only candidate on the field who is on the side of ordinary people, rather than a card-carrying member of an elite that despises ordinary people. That is why he gets as much of a pass as he does for the things that people hate about his manner. If Democrats could be on the side of the people, honestly and respectfully, they'd clean up.

Instead, Democrats seem to have decided that deception and disrespect are Trump's sources of strength. They have gone beyond carelessness about the truth, and seek to surpass him by direct and intentional lies.

Madison and Mob Rule

A pretty good piece. You may not agree precisely with his description of the problem set, but his solutions include some ideas that we all believe in -- especially Federalism and constitutional education, i.e., civics.
To combat the power of factions, the Founders believed the people had to be educated about the structures of government in particular. “A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both,” Madison wrote in 1822, supporting the Kentucky legislature’s “Plan of Education embracing every class of Citizens.” In urging Congress to create a national university in 1796, George Washington said: “A primary object of such a national institution should be the education of our youth in the science of government.”

The civics half of the educational equation is crucial. Recent studies have suggested that higher education can polarize citizens rather than ensuring the rule of reason: Highly educated liberals become more liberal, and highly educated conservatives more conservative. At the same time, the National Assessment of Educational Progress has found that citizens, whether liberal or conservative, who are educated about constitutional checks on direct democracy, such as an independent judiciary, are more likely to express trust in the courts and less likely to call for judicial impeachment or for overturning unpopular Supreme Court decisions.
Well, at least 'overturning them via constant re-litigation.' Stability is helpful, but a bad decision needs to be addressed. Understanding the constitutional mechanisms allows us to do that in a way that is more likely to be accepted as legitimate.

Federalism, meanwhile, remains a core part of the solution. However, I've become convinced that we also need a way to create a distinction between urban and rural that has constitutional force. It seems that we have two modes of life here that are fundamentally incompatible, not only in their desires but in their needs. Ensuring that the cities can't impose their will on the countryside, and vice versa, might lower the temperature a lot.

The Mustache Isn't Playing

National Security Adviser John Bolton threatens to arrest any International Criminal Court judges who try American soldiers for actions in Afghanistan. As a power move, that's the kind of thing that the kids today call "alpha" or "baller." It's certainly the sort of thing that a dominant power would do. And it is true, as Bolton says, that the ICC isn't accountable to Americans or really to anyone: it's the kind of unelected international elites that the Trump administration was elected to oppose. Americans have a right to be tried by a jury of their peers, not by strangers and foreigners but by their fellow citizens.

That said, I have not been impressed lately by our system's success at holding its members to account. If we're going to be credible here, we need to do a good job of ensuring that we uphold our own rules and laws. The military justice system as I've observed it probably does this better than the rest of our so-called justice systems, to be fair.

Enid & Geraint

Per custom, today's only post will be a republishing of the 9/11 poem.

Enid & Geraint

Once strong, from solid
Camelot he came
Glory with him, Geraint,
Whose sword tamed the wild.
Fabled the fortune he won,
Fame, and a wife.
The beasts he battled
With horn and lance;
Stood farms where fens lay.
When bandits returned
To old beast-holds
Geraint gave them the same.

And then long peace,
Purchased by the manful blade.
Light delights filled it,
Tournaments softened, tempered
By ladies; in peace lingers
the dream of safety.

They dreamed together. Darkness
Gathered on the old wood,
Wild things troubled the edges,
Then crept closer.
The whispers of weakness
Are echoed with evil.

At last even Enid
Whose eyes are as dusk
Looked on her Lord
And weighed him wanting.
Her gaze gored him:
He dressed in red-rust mail.

And put her on palfrey
To ride before or beside
And they went to the wilds,
Which were no longer
So far. Ill-used,
His sword hung beside.

By the long wood, where
Once he laid pastures,
The knight halted, horsed,
Gazing on the grim trees.
He opened his helm
Beholding a bandit realm.

Enid cried at the charge
Of a criminal clad in mail!
The Lord turned his horse,
Set his untended shield:
There lacked time, there
Lacked thought for more.

Villanous lance licked the
Ancient shield. It split,
Broke, that badge of the knight!
The spearhead searched
Old, rust-red mail.
Geraint awoke.

Master and black mount
Rediscovered their rich love,
And armor, though old
Though red with thick rust,
Broke the felon blade.
The spear to-brast, shattered.

And now Enid sees
In Geraint's cold eyes
What shivers her to the spine.
And now his hand
Draws the ill-used sword:
Ill-used, but well-forged.

And the shock from the spear-break
Rang from bandit-towers
Rattled the wood, and the world!
Men dwelt there in wonder.
Who had heard that tone?
They did not remember that sound.

His best spear broken
On old, rusted mail,
The felon sought his forest.
Enid's dusk eyes sense
The strength of old steel:
Geraint grips his reins.

And he winds his old horn,
And he spurs his proud horse,
And the wood to his wrath trembles.
And every bird
From the wild forest flies,
But the Ravens.

Substantial Police Brutality Against Innocent Veteran Alleged

The way the man tells the story, he was set upon by two thieves and went out of his way not to shoot to kill. Prosecutors charged him with attempted murder anyway, and held him for three years awaiting trial -- much of it in solitary. When a jury finally got the case, they backed him completely. Now, he's suing over the way he was mistreated.
Johnson's lawsuit also makes a startling claim -- that when he complained about all that time in solitary, guards beat him.

"They immediately cuffed me," said Johnson. "As soon as I was cuffed that's when they began to, you know, they beat me up."...

His lawsuit says Johnson tried to warn jail officials about one guard who would "sadistically and maliciously abuse" prisoners: "I'm the one who wrote a grievance on Lubrin saying that if you don't stop this guy, he's gonna kill someone."

His lawyer says, just one month after Johnson filed that grievance, Officer Jereh Lubrin and two other guards beat a mentally-ill inmate, Michael Tyree, to death. The officers were convicted of second degree murder.
These kinds of cases undermine trust and faith in government.

Pay Me My Money

A claimant for a prize around establishing the identity of Arthur.

Sniff tests

This is a happy development:  it looks as though people really are trying to do something about the replicability crisis in psychological studies.  One tool that's proving useful is a "trading market," in which a lot of independent analysts make online bets about which studies will replicate, using subjective tools they might have hesitated to use in public or formal settings.
What clues were the traders looking for? Some said that they considered a study’s sample size: Small studies will more likely produce false positives than bigger ones. Some looked at a common statistical metric called the P value. If a result has a P value that’s less than 0.05, it’s said to be statistically significant, or positive. And if a study contains lots of P values that just skate under this threshold, it’s a possible sign that the authors committed “p-hacking”—that is, they futzed with their experiment or their data until they got “positive” but potentially misleading results. Signs like this can be ambiguous, and “scientists are usually reluctant to lob around claims of p-hacking when they see them,” says Sanjay Srivastava from the University of Oregon. “But if you are just quietly placing bets, those are things you’d look at.
Beyond statistical issues, it strikes me that several of the studies that didn’t replicate have another quality in common: newsworthiness. They reported cute, attention-grabbing, whoa-if-true results that conform to the biases of at least some parts of society.