Stand back, I'll handle this

A commenter at Maggie's Farm nailed socialism, the system that correctly identifies capitalism as so effective that only the experts can be allowed to operate it:
The left wants socialism which of course still must depend on capitalism but where only the state gets to practice capitalism.

Waylon Jennings on a Friday Night

This Vegan Thing Is Getting Out of Hand

I can almost see threatening a stranger who is cooking meat if you're a vegan, or some non-Italian if you're a leftist who thinks they're guilty of cultural appropriation, but your own mother for making the sauce you were raised on?
The meaty dish, ragù, is an Italian staple, but it was enough to set off a massive disturbance that ended with the mother being threatened with a kitchen knife by her vegan daughter, an Italian court heard.

The daughter told a court she’d long had “no sensory nor olfactory contact” with animal products before she went back to living with her mother.

Frustrated by the smell of meat sauce simmering for hours in their small apartment, the vegan woman grabbed a knife and threatened her mother.

“If you won’t stop on your own then I’ll make you stop. Quit making ragù, or I’ll stab you in the stomach,” she said, according to the mum’s civil complaint.
I might have to make some tonight myself, in appropriational solidarity.

Tribal Epistemology

Vox is worried about you.
Conservatives have descended almost entirely into what I call “tribal epistemology,” wherein the distinction between what is good for the tribe and what is true collapses entirely — in which “true” simply comes to mean “our narrative.” They do not defer to any transpartisan standards of evidence or reasoning; they do not believe any such standards exist. Attempts to invoke such standards are, in their view, just one side’s way of trying to outmaneuver the other....

The two sides share almost no factual premises, so they are no longer able to coherently argue with each other. Their enmity is total, and the country is becoming ungovernable. Politics is becoming a pure contest of wills, of power.

That’s the crisis. I first wrote about it in reference to Robert Mueller’s investigation, raising the question: What if Mueller uncovers rock-solid evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians or committed financial crimes, and ... it just doesn’t matter? What if he finds something, but the Americans who get their news from conservative media simply never find out about it? What then?
The thing is, I read liberal stuff all the time. I know what they think and why. Do they have any idea what I think, or why? I'm pretty sure not.

That aside, it's a hard problem to address. The post two down from this one links an article that gives some pretty solid reasons to doubt their claims to knowledge from journalism, which I don't think they've adequately considered. FOX News may be no better, but that doesn't answer our epistemological problem: it just leaves us with two sets of wrong information. Blogs were supposed to be the answer, or a part of the answer, because they'd allow people with direct knowledge to comment on the facts. Sometimes that works -- sometimes even Twitter manages that, in spite of its poisonous atmosphere and algorithms designed to elevate people who are part of the problem over the small person with few followers but direct knowledge. Blogs are better than algorithmic sites for getting this right, but finding the right blog in a timely way can be a hard problem too.

The Feast of All Saints

Today is the feast day for all saints, but originally especially for martyrs. I wonder what the Church's position is on the Jewish victims of the weekend's shooting? They are not Christians, obviously, and thus not Christian martyrs; they certainly are martyrs for their own faith. Jews have a special status that I don't quite understand. But if this statement the Vatican put out in 2015 is accurate, I'm not supposed to understand it:
How God will save the Jews if they do not explicitly believe in Christ is "an unfathomable divine mystery," but one which must be affirmed since Catholics believe that God is faithful to his promises and therefore never revoked his covenant with the Jewish people, it says.
The ability to appeal to 'unfathomable mystery' is one of the explanatory advantages of religion, although one finds it in philosophy too: Kant's noumena are essentially the real facts about the world, which are by the nature of human experience unfathomable and destined to remain mysteries. Kant's got a pretty good argument for this, so the fact that one must sometimes admit unfathomable mysteries into one's ontology shouldn't be upsetting even to quite rational thinkers.

In any case it's on my mind, although I haven't written about it here before now. Perhaps this is even the right day for it.

A Good Piece on Turkey

Lee Smith points out that the Turks have been acting like the Harlem Globetrotters against America's press, which has willingly taken the role of the Washington Generals.
The U.S. media meshed seamlessly with Turkish information operations because our journalists have become habituated to their new role as political assets. For two years the press has been breathlessly reporting thousands of stories sourced to unnamed U.S. officials and promising that the latest development—Russiagate, Stormygate, etc.—was certain to topple President Donald Trump. Whether you admire or disdain the so-called #resistance, the fact is that a press labeling itself as such on Twitter is one less interested in reporting facts than shaping political outcomes....

Arab papers are widely known as platforms for the views or goals of a particular regime, political figure, or intelligence service. It’s not a free press in any meaningful sense. But taking these many outlets as a whole, it’s possible to piece together a relatively accurate picture of the political game board.... U.S. reporting about the disappearance and death of an Arab journalist who pleaded for media transparency in his own society marks another chapter in the ongoing transformation of what was once the freest press in the world: America’s.
They sometimes also fall for sucker plays even when they aren't trying to do so. But even then, they rarely correct themselves once it becomes obvious they were played. For example:
A gullible and inexperienced press corps can’t help but be taken advantage of by savvy political operatives, especially when they’re working in foreign lands. Most reporters don’t know Arabic, which is why the press mistranslated, for instance, a statement from the Saudi Justice Ministry saying that it had received the Turkish government’s claims that the Khashoggi murder was premeditated and was further investigating. The press reported instead that the Saudis had admitted it was premeditated.
I'll bet you've heard that claim if you've been following the case at all, and not the clarification (emphasis added).

The Feast of the Dead

Apparently the dead like chocolate and peanut butter.

Happy Halloween!

Selective Demons

CNN’s Lemon:

“We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them."


UPDATE: An additional wrinkle to Lemon's comments: "'There is no travel ban on them... They had the Muslim ban; there is no white-guy ban,' he added. 'So what do we do about that?'"

It's hard to know where to start with this. There was no "Muslim ban"; there was a temporary ban on entry from certain countries, identified by the Obama administration, but hardly including all of (or even the majority of) the Muslim world. Second, it was a bar on entry for non-citizens, who have no right to enter the United States. Lemon is talking about a bar on travel for citizens, who do have a right to come home if they should go abroad. The US ban didn't interfere with anyone's travel around their own nation, either, which Lemon sounds as if he might like to do.

His comments are not only outrageously biased, they're ill-informed and ignorant of basic facts. Why is this guy on television?

Early Thoughts on Birthright Citizenship

I don't want to fall into the trap of discussing an issue as if I had an authoritative opinion when it's still quite early. This one is breaking today, but it's in reference to a piece Michael Anton published back in July. Anton published a response to criticisms of his idea in another venue a bit later.

One thing that seems clear to me is that an Executive Order isn't adequate for this action. Andy McCarthy gives a good account of why it wouldn't be:
The problem as I see it is twofold. First, the legal landscape is not limited to the 14th Amendment. Congress has enacted a statute, Section 1401 of the immigration and naturalization laws (Title 8, U.S. Code). In pertinent part, it appears merely to codify in statutory law what the 14th Amendment says: included among U.S. citizens is any “person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” But that means the issue is not just what jurisdiction was understood to mean in 1868 when the 14th Amendment was adopted, but what it meant in 1952, when the statute defining U.S. citizenship was enacted (it has been amended several times since then).

Secondly, even assuming the meaning was the same, Congress’s codification of the 14th Amendment — which it did not need to do — is a strong expression of Congress’s intent to exercise its constitutional authority to set the terms of citizenship.
I think that's roughly right on both points, although I'd suggest that the 1952 statute can't override the 1868 Constitutional Amendment's meaning -- otherwise we could by statute redefine any Constitutional term. Congress can't re-issue the Third Amendment by statute with a legislative statement to the effect that "quartering shall only mean permanent residence of troops in private homes, i.e., greater than ten years' duration," and thereby remove the Third's prohibition. Thus, the 1952 understanding can only alter the 1868 understanding in a fairly limited way; Congress might broaden the Third's protections, as by forbidding 'quartering' within 100 yards of a private home, but not limit it. Here, Congress might not be able to alter the 1868 understanding at all by mere statute.

However, SCOTUS might find that the 1868 understanding wasn't so obvious that a later Congress acting in accord with a later President might not define it more clearly. If so, then what the Congress of 1952 can do, the Congress of 2018 or 2019 can also do. Sen. Graham is proposing to get the ball rolling on that. If the Republican Congress hands Trump a bill that reinterprets this clause formally, and he signs it into law, that would do whatever the 1952 law did to define the terms.

That might be nothing at all; SCOTUS may well say that mere legislation can't alter an amendment's terms, and that it feels that there is a clear enough record of intent from 1868 to apply. That's originalism, which many of us have long argued for as a judicial philosophy. You have to take the good and the bad of that. Birthright citizenship may simply be something we're stuck with pending a new Constitutional convention. Perhaps not, especially if they find the 1868 language unclear or in need of further exposition from the legislature. I think this expresses the range of constitutional possibilities.

Social Contract

Jeff Sessions responds to protesters: "I don't believe there's anything in my theology that says a secular nationstate cannot have lawful laws to control immigration ... not immoral, not indecent and not unkind to state what your laws are and then set about to enforce them"
There's a reasonable argument that the 'social contract' we hear about is not a defensible philosophical concept: most of us never asked to join the polity, never consented to the terms (which pre-existed us), and probably joined as a consequence of a decision made by some ancestor of ours rather than by ourselves alone. There are several approaches to the consequences of that argument.

But one class of people do explicitly consent to join something like the 'social contract' of a nation, and that is the class of first-generation immigrants to that nation. They really are making an election to join a polity, and presumably this entails a contract they personally make with that polity to abide by its terms.

It's not unreasonable for a nation to refuse to accept those who will not make this contract, and abide by it. Why on earth would they do so? Yet, as Sessions' reply suggests, the public discussion has run entirely in the other direction. He is defending the idea that he isn't religiously required to accept people who reject the terms of the contract; that morality doesn't obligate a polity to accept people who refuse any obligation to abide by its terms.

That's madness, yet it has clearly passed into the realm of commonly held opinion.

Who's in charge of you, anyway?

From Jim Geraghty:
What do the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, the Florida mail-bomber, the angry young man who drove a van into a crowd on a Toronto street in April, and last year’s shooter at the congressional baseball field have in common?
* * *
It’s almost always the same, isn’t it? Few or no friends, no relationships, estranged from family, difficulty holding down a job, and a lot of time spent online on chat boards and sites that reinforce growing paranoia, scapegoating, and hatred. It’s safe to assume this shooter’s life, like the others, did not turn out the way that he had hoped.
All of these men shared an inability to face the possibility that the problems in their life were a result of their own decisions and actions. They retreated to the flattering conclusion that only a vast conspiracy of powerful forces could possibly have brought them to this state of perpetual disappointment.
The good news is that very few of us walk around thinking like this. If all it took to turn someone into a homicidal maniac was a Donald Trump speech, or a Bernie Sanders speech, or an anti-Semitic website, or a rant against women, then the world would be nonstop massacres.
* * *
But if one of the preeminent arguments in our society about the power of the individual — whether we are the captains of our fate and masters of our soul, or whether the quality of our lives is heavily determined by broader societal factors outside of our individual ability to control, influence, or overcome — then the conspiracy theorists are just a more extreme form of a pretty widespread anti-individualist philosophy.

Archaeologists Discover 15,500 Year-Old Weapons in America

Early photograph:

No, not really: these were spears.

Merkel Out

The EU project has been holed by BREXIT, but even more by the fallout from Merkel's decision to throw open the floodgates where refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere were concerned. For years she's been trying to put that genie back in the bottle. Now she's preparing to step down and leave those problems to somebody else.

Brazil Gets On The Tropical Trump Train

A decisive win for a candidate who got stabbed, then won anyway. It’s kind of like that time Teddy Roosevelt got shot by a would-be assassin, but stayed to finish his speech.

UPDATE: Police in Brazil have begun raiding college classrooms, seeking electioneering materials that Brazilian law forbids in those settings.
The raids are part a supposed attempt to stop illegal electoral advertising. Brazilian election law prohibits electoral publicity in public spaces. However, many of the confiscated materials do not mention candidates. Among such confiscated materials are a flag for the Universidade Federal Fluminense reading “UFF School of Law - Anti-Fascist” and flyers titled “Manifest in Defense of Democracy and Public Universities.”
I happen to have a couple of friends who are Brazilian academics, at least one of whom has been posting some of these materials online. Here's a screenshot. Look familiar?

The major difference between this flag and the one used in the US is that this one foregrounds the red. It is a more honest flag, in other words.