"Crying Fowl"

The headline's terrible pun is not the worst thing about this story.

Raising Standards

The Army has introduced an "Expert Soldier's Badge." At first the idea received a lot of mockery from infantrymen of my acquaintance because they expected it to be analogous to the "Combat Action Badge," which allowed non-infantry soldiers to obtain something like the "Combat Infantryman Badge," the analog in this case being the "Expert Infantryman Badge."

However, the new badge is proving to be a genuinely good idea, as shown by the fact that soldiers are failing to earn it.
Once a season when those not assigned to the infantry branch could sit back and watch their 11-series counterparts slog around with rucksacks and face paint as they performed a (mandatory) evaluation of their skills- the dreaded EIB.

No more, however. With the introduction of the Expert Soldier Badge (the Combat Action Badge’s equivalent to the Expert Infantry Badge and Expert Field Medical Badge), troops of all MOSs will now how to suffer through trials and field problems in order to prove their worth.

So far, it seems, that is a pretty tall order.

According to Military.com, of the 95 soldiers who began Expert Soldier Badge testing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA, on Sunday, only three remained by Thursday.

Between the fitness test and land navigation (day and night) it appears that well over half the participants were either physically unfit or unable to read a map, with 59 participants being cut on the first day of testing.

“Either you meet the standard or you do not meet the standard … and that is the way it should be,” Command Sgt. Major Edward Mitchell, CSM for the Army’s Center for Initial Military Training.

Of the three Soldiers who remain, none are ranked below sergeant- an E-5, an E-6 and an O-3 remain.
I'm a fan of the new Army Combat Fitness Test for similar reasons. The high failure rate is a good sign, not a bad sign.

I believe the same thing about the failure rates at universities; a university whose four-year graduation rate is much above 50% is probably not in fact a very good school, no matter how highly it is rated or how glorious its reputation. True challenge is what produces the virtues that allow people to rise to the top. The more certain success in a task, the less virtue likely developed in its pursuit.

So good for the Army. Now keep it up.

An Eventful, Uneventful Day

It's amazing to watch reactions to today's impeachment hearings; both sides are sure the game is over, and their side won. Neither side won, or really even moved the ball today. We did get more confirmation that the government isn't really under the control of elected officials anymore, and that's the central problem this whole affair has underlined.

Anyway I spent the day in beautiful Western North Carolina, where the people are friendly and no one ever mentions politics. I met a guy called "Swagnar" who decorates his wine shop with runes, and his very nice assistant Liz who was fascinated to hear about the process of making mead. My wife discussed art with various people, that being her thing. We began laying in supplies for a pie-heavy Thanksgiving, which by request of the eaters is likely to be slim on traditional elements in favor of many desserts.

Hey, we're the adults now. We can do whatever we want.

I guess there was another Democratic debate, but I can't be bothered with it. There's already no candidate I want to be the next President; in fact, I'm pretty sure I don't want another President at all. At some point I'll have to take an interest in trying to limit the damage, but there's no good to be had from this process any longer. It's all about trying to limit the harm it does.

On which subject, I have to change health care plans again. None of the plans available are remotely affordable, not now that the government has taken it all over. Does anyone know of a good alternative, maybe a co-op? Some of you have said you liked those things in the past, and if there's a good one that might serve my part of the country, I'm ready to stop paying the price of a new car every year for coverage with a deductible that's the size of a good used motorcycle. Nothing's been so devastating to our family's wealth than these attempts to make health care 'affordable.' I haven't seen a doctor since 2014, but I've paid many tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of being able to pay only several more thousand dollars a year if I need to do.

That's moxie

It can't be easy explaining to people why they'd want to move to South Dakota, but one advertising company grasped the nettle:
Enter the state's new advertising campaign. It starts about as far from the target market of South Dakota as possible — on Mars.
"Mars," the commercial begins. "The air: not breathable. The surface: cold and barren. But thousands are lining up for a chance to go and never come back."
Cut to images of South Dakota as the narrator continues:
"South Dakota. Progressive. Productive. And abundant in oxygen. Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota?"
The final graphic reads: "South Dakota. Plenty of jobs. Plenty of air."
This is all background to more current messaging efforts, in which the South Dakota governor reassures citizens, "Meth.  We're on it."

Grave Concerns

Politico worries that the Supreme may dump the task of legislating onto Congress.

Watch Out for the Traumatized

Vice News reports on a study on mass shooters.
A new Department of Justice-funded study of all mass shootings — killings of four or more people in a public place — since 1966 found that the shooters typically have an experience with childhood trauma, a personal crisis or specific grievance, and a “script” or examples that validate their feelings or provide a roadmap. And then there’s the fourth thing: access to a firearm.
That last one is an example of what philosophers call "trivially true," i.e., a truth easily arrived at because of the definition of the class. Obviously, in a study of mass shooters, access to a firearm is going to prove to be one of the things they had. I've often argued that we're rather lucky that our mass killers use firearms as opposed to bombs, which are easily made (in Iraq, 'home made explosive' was readily mixed by children using common household chemicals) and often kill vastly more people than a shooter can manage. This decision to focus on the class of 'shooters' rather than the class of 'killers' tends to lead people to believe that if you could eliminate guns, the problem could be solved 'as it has been in civilized countries,' but Denmark recently closed its border with Sweden over the mass bombing problem.

The problem generalizes. Richard Fernandez recently pointed out that the biggest mass killings used fire, which is quite simply deployed by anyone. Trucks, as were used in the Nice attack in France, are also both more deadly than guns and nearly impossible to ban from cities: without trucks to carry in the food every day, the city could not exist. You could go back to horses, I suppose: have the truckers stage up in yards outside the city center, transfer their goods to carts, and have the horses pull them into town for distribution. That's a pretty costly solution for the problem of mass killings, which are statistically tiny even though they are emotionally disturbing to observe.

So if technology is not the right place to focus, that brings us to the other three factors:

1) Childhood trauma,

2) A 'personal crisis or specific grievance,' and,

3) A validating script.

The third factor is probably intractable in the age of the Internet, and at least in America it has to be balanced against protected liberties. For example, the 'jihadist' ideology taught by the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) can be contested, but it has to be conceptually severed from the protected freedom of religion, including the practice of Islam. Yet the conceptual roots of 'jihadism' are in the faith, and will come to be known to anyone who studies it closely; and anyone who studies the great scholars of Islam will find much support for the idea. Avicenna, that great philosopher, describes jihad as a kind of double good in his Metaphysics of the Healing, because it brings one closer to God's will while also providing you access to practical goods like slaves captured in the war. The philosopher Averroes, in a reflection on Plato's Republic, agrees with Plato that the best kind of women should be admitted to a kind of equality with the best kind of men, and that this equality means that they should be allowed to join in jihad and the taking of slaves and wealth. The Reliance of the Traveler, one of the great medieval works of Islamic jurisprudence, is a favorite example of Andy McCarthy's (who came to know it while prosecuting the World Trade Center bomber, an earlier example of mass killings by bomb).

Apart from not suppressing Islam, you can't suppress (and ought to encourage) the study of Avicenna, especially. In any case, the 'road map' certainly can't be suppressed without trying to drive Islam out of the world. The best you can do is to acknowledge it, and work with those within the community of Muslims who oppose people pursuing violent jihad to try to convince as many people as possible that it's not a legitimate path. Ultimately, though, some will be convinced, and in part because the other side probably has a better case to make about what Muhammad and his companions really meant; certainly about what the great philosophers of his tradition meant. The case is easier when the other side doesn't have a better argument, as is true for example of Klan-type movements that are based on nonsensical readings of science and demonstrably bad readings of history. But then, too, the road to success doesn't lie through suppressing the 'road map,' but in engaging it to illuminate its problems.

Attempts to suppress the 'road map,' meanwhile, run into First Amendment free speech protections. New Zealand made it a criminal offense to share recordings and videos and manifestos from the Christchurch shooter; that's an affront to basic liberty that cannot be tolerated. In Europe, meanwhile, they've apparently decided that the bigger threat is that people will draw conclusions hostile to Islam, and end up trying to suppress not the road map that's causing the bombings, but the one that could potentially cause anti-Muslim violence. All of these things are out of order with human liberty, and to be rejected. Even if you didn't reject them, though, you would find them ineffective without a more general abandonment of the ideals of self-government: you will have to suppress the press talking about these things (and so convince the press that it is unethical to do their actual job as journalists, and then suppress those members of the press who continue to do it). But the courts are going to end up trying some of these mass killing cases, so you'll end up having to suppress citizen knowledge of the facts of cases in open court. That ends up damaging the rights of the accused, who cannot rely on a secret court to also be a fair court; and it destroys our ability to keep tabs on the government, which destroys self-government as a basic idea.

So Factor Three is probably not going to be where we make much progress. You can try to educate people out of these road maps, but you can't eliminate them.

Factor Two is a universal human experience. You can look for people who are undergoing a personal crisis, and potentially make some progress by making help available to people in getting through such crises as they occur. You can't eliminate crises, though, nor grievances either.

So that leads us to Factor One: childhood trauma. Here we readily identify a specific class of people who could be subject to greater scrutiny as potential mass killers. That is to say that, recognizing them as having been victimized once, we shall be sure to continue to victimize them by treating them as dangerous hazards who can't be trusted as much as other people. Even if that conclusion were true (and these killers are so small a percentage of society that it probably isn't even true), it would be fundamentally unjust to punish people for having been traumatized.

Since it is the only thing that is really likely to work, though, injustice is the most probable outcome of future government action on this issue. My sense is that we have much more to fear from any government attempts to address mass killings than we have to fear from the tiny number of killers, bad as they are.

Another Good Guy with a Gun

According to USAToday:

DUNCAN, Oklahoma – Three people were killed Monday in a shooting outside a Walmart that ended when a bystander pointed a gun at the shooter, police and a witness said.

...

Duncan resident Aaron Helton, an Army veteran, said he was at the Walmart at about 9:45 a.m. local time when he heard nine shots and saw the gunman, gun in hand. Another man walked up, put a pistol to the gunman’s head and told him to stop shooting, Helton said.

Helton said he saw the gunman was turning the gun on himself and looked away. Police did not immediately confirm reports that the shooter took his own life.
But the shooter is dead.

This will be chalked up by many (such as OK State Rep. Forrest Bennett (D)) as another example of gun violence, which it is, but it will not be chalked up by many of the same people as another example of armed citizens stopping murderers.

The Birth of Dragons

It came earlier than history believes, but what else would you expect about dragons than that they are ancient?

Fake vs. Real News

Fake News (BB): "Josef Stalin Warns Democrats May Be Going Too Far Left."

That wouldn't matter even if it were true, though, because -- Real News -- young people don't generally know who Stalin was. "A poll of 16-24 year-olds found that 28 per cent had never heard of Stalin, almost half had never heard of Lenin and 70% had never heard of Mao Tse Tung ["Zedong," usually, since the PRC prefers the Pinyin system of romanization to the older Wade-Giles. --Grim]."

An allied poll reveals either a complete failure of the educational system, or else a complete success by Communists in corrupting it.
The new data show that 64% of Gen Z and 70% of millennials say they’re likely to vote for a socialist. Meanwhile, 20% of millennials think the Communist Manifesto “better guarantees freedom and equality” than the Declaration of Independence.

Bizarrely, 36% view communism favorably, and 15% think the world would be better off if the Soviet Union still existed. And 22% of millennials think “society would be better if all private property was abolished,” while 35% view Marxism favorably.
You kids keep your eyes on Hong Kong.

Unscience

G.K. Chesterton in a biography of G.F. Watts:
[The real result of the great rise of science] would painfully appear to be that whereas men in the earlier times said unscientific things with the vagueness of gossip and legend, they now say unscientific things with the plainness and the certainty of science.

Sword Find in Czech Republic

It is a Bronze Age piece, which is rare for swords. It's beautiful, especially given that it is over three thousand years old.

Solomon keeps punching on the Ukraine story

Former Ambassador Yovanovitch must wish there was some way to muzzle investigative reporter John Solomon.

Wretchard on Barr’s Speech

A declaration of revolution, he thinks.

Sounding the Alarm

Strange that this sort of talk should happen the same week as the impeachment hearings go public.
Former President Barack Obama offered an unusual warning to the Democratic primary field on Friday evening, cautioning the candidates not to move too far to the left in their policy proposals, even as he sought to reassure a party establishment worried about the electoral strength of their historically large primary field....

[H]e also raised concerns about some of the liberal ideas being promoted by some candidates, citing health care and immigration as issues where the proposals may have gone further than public opinion.

While Mr. Obama did not single out any specific primary candidate or policy proposal, he cautioned that the universe of voters that could support a Democratic candidate — Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans — are not driven by the same views reflected on “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” or “the activist wing of our party.”

“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality,” Mr. Obama said. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”
That doesn't sound like the voice of a party on the cusp of historic victory.

We can be heroes

Yovanovitch's testimony was appalling generally, but for bad taste, it was hard to equal her evocation of the heroism of the Americans left to die in Benghazi. Powerline sums it up:
And we are Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Patrick Smith, Ty Woods, and Glen Doherty—people rightly called heroes for their ultimate sacrifice to this nation’s foreign policy interests in Libya, eight years ago.
We honor these individuals. They represent each one of you here—and every American. These courageous individuals were attacked because they symbolized America.
As Tonto asked the Lone Ranger when he announced that “We’re surrounded” (by Indians), “What you mean ‘we,’ kemosabe?”
By the same token, I thought, Yovanovitch might have observed:
We are Alger Hiss, who used his State Department post to serve the Soviet Union at great risk to his own career. He had the stubborn courage to lie about it to the end of his life.
We are Julian Wadleigh, Laurence Duggan, and Noel Field, who also spied for the Soviet Union from inside the State Department.
We are former State Department officer Kendall Myers, who continued the tradition in a later generation by giving highly sensitive diplomatic secrets to Cuba.
This functionary, who as even her fluffers admit served at the pleasure of the chief executive, wasn't even fired. She still works for the State Department in a cushy job at Georgetown.

The fourth branch of government

From Ace of Spades HQ:
The old common wisdom was that the 'Deep State' was just a kwazy konspiracy theory cooked up by kooky konservatives from their paranoid, delusional fantasies. But, upon further reflection, the Deep State is apparently the fourth branch of government, not mentioned in the US Constitution, but nevertheless real and necessary; a bulwark, if you will, that protects the perks, privileges and prerogatives of an unaccountable, bureaucratic elite against American citizens who have the insolence to believe that they're entitled to participate in constitutionally mandated elections."

. . . because eminent domain

This is an interesting citation of authority for limited free speech.

Metabolic signatures on Mars?

NASA's Curiosity Mars is sending back surprising data about seasonal atmospheric oxygen and methane cycles.  Apparently this doesn't necessarily establish the presence of life, even simple microbial life, but it's awfully interesting.  This article mentioned that there's such a thing as abiotic processes that can yield both oxygen and methane.  Through the magic of Google, it's possible to ask, what kinds of abiotic processes do we know about that can produce methane?  How about oxygen?  It turns out there are some; geological "serpentinization" is believed to produce methane, and ultraviolet light can knock oxygen loose from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Still, something shot down that Mars Rover.  I blame the Ukranians.  Or was it the Russians?  I keep losing track.

Speaking of nations about which I know less than I should, this list of ten nations that no longer exist was fascinating.  Experimental republics do rise and fall, and not only because they are conquered by Martians or the alt-right.

Keeping our eye on the ball

From Steve Cortes at Real Clear Politics:
[T]he vast majority of Americans quickly tire of a deep dive into an unknown cast of characters enmeshed in a country far away that has little import for America.
To this point, there is only one salient question: Was the information Donald Trump requested from Ukraine’s president useful to the American people? If so, then additional benefits to his 2020 campaign are incidental and immaterial. As a steward of the hard-earned tax money of the American people, the president requested an investigation into corruption in a country rife with fraud. He did not mandate a pre-determined outcome. If the Ukrainians’ inquiry additionally happened to uncover underhandedness on the part of the past vice president of the United States, surely such information would be vital to American voters. Stick to this one question.
The money shot: "Was the information Donald Trump requested from Ukraine’s president useful to the American people? If so, then additional benefits to his 2020 campaign are incidental and immaterial."

To put it in the reverse terms: a sitting president can't be obstructed from doing something because it might have an ancillary effect on a political rival. Much if not all of what a president does in office inevitably affects either his ability to stay in office or the fortunes of his political allies. Tough. What's he supposed to do, avoid any policy that might depress the success of the Democratic Party?  In a million years, would Trump's opponents advocate applying this standard to a Democratic president?  We couldn't even get them interested in why it was wrong to turn the IRS loose on a partisan witch-hunt against conservative non-profits.

Ukraine is a "strategic partner" of the Biden Family trust fund

I wouldn't want to get Mark Steyn on my bad side.
In a functioning system, the head of the government sets foreign policy and the diplomats enact it. So naturally there's not a chance of that in Washington. When Taylor and Kent whine that there seemed to be a "shadow foreign policy", the shadow is theirs; they spent a day testifying that everything had been going ticketty-boo for decades just as they'd always done things - and then Trump came along and took a different view. Oh, my! Anyone would think that, as Barack Obama once proposed, "elections have consequences".
But the piece is really worth reading for the rant about silly ambassador names. Spurgeon? Seriously? Spurgeon, Jr., for all love?

What was that about Burisma again?

A good summary from Sheryl Attkinson of the only part of the impeachment testimony that bore on what would be the nub of the controversy if sane people were running the show.
George Kent, Deputy Asst. Secretary of State testified that the Obama administration pressed Ukraine to investigate the Ukrainian energy company Burisma long before President Trump sought an investigation.
Kent agrees today that Burisma should be “fully investigated,” as President Trump has asked.
Kent explained the history of Burisma corruption. He alleged that Burisma CEO Mykola Zlochevsky, formerly part of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government (2010-2012), was guilty of self dealing and corruption. Zlochevsky then went on to found Burisma, the largest private gas company in that nation.
Kent stated that in December 2014, a bribe was paid within Ukraine to make an investigation into Zlochevsky’s crimes “go away.” Kent says the bribed official fled Ukraine as the U.S. pressed Ukrainian officials to answer why prosecutors closed the case.
Read the whole thing, there's lots more.

Construction

We're hip-deep in construction, but this part is just about finished now:  an outdoor kitchen with a cooking hearth and a bread oven.

I've been developing a natural wild-yeast starter, too.  The flavor's good, but the rising power needs more time to develop, or I need to modify my proofing times, or both.  This morning's experiment was a bit of a brick, but it has a great flavor.  I made this one in the ordinary house oven, because the outdoor masonry is still drying.  Soon we'll get started out there experimenting with pizza and bread.



Who stiffed the Ukraine?

Miranda Devine tries to sort out how Trump became the big meanie in Ukrainian-U.S. relations:
[T]here was something missing in [the two House Intelligence Committee witnesses’] description of “alarm” at the withholding of US military aid to Ukraine.
For all their concern about Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia, they were remarkably sanguine about the Obama administration’s inaction after Russia annexed Crimea and began aggressing into eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko went to Washington and begged for military assistance but the Obama-Biden administration refused, out of deference to Moscow.
Poroshenko complained at the time: “one cannot win a war with blankets.”
This was surely the low point of Ukrainian-US relations, not Trump’s phone call in July.
Despite the witnesses’ dissatisfaction with President Trump’s Ukraine policy, it was President Trump who approved the supply of weapons to Ukraine.
So if concern for Ukraine is not the real motivation behind the diplomatic community’s alarm about Trump, all that’s left is protecting the Bidens.
Without a real whistleblower we can only think the worst.
It's conceivable that the quid pro quo Biden bragged about on video had to do with concern over corruption that a Ukrainian prosecutor was failing to investigate, not corruption that he was threatening to investigate.  It's even possible that Biden didn't think any of the un-investigated corruption involved his family, though the second part at the very least paints him as oblivious. If that's the case, though, what I'm seeing is Trump jumping to a fairly natural conclusion after seeing Biden's videotaped statement, and wishing someone would look into it long enough to give us a clue what was going on.

That's not "digging up dirt" on a political rival or anyone else. That's following up on an obvious red flag, in this case one pertaining to the actions of someone who at the time was serving as vice president of the United States. If the Ukrainian government had come back with a credible explanation that exonerates Biden, that should have been the end of it. Instead we have a lot of hysterical shrieking that amounts to saying the chief executive of the United States is not even justified in asking the question.

It's not exactly the GPS Fusion approach, is it? Trump didn't hint around that he'd be pretty happy if someone cooked up a bogus dossier and leaked it to a compliant media.  "Will no one bring me dirt on this turbulent candidate?" Instead, Trump said someone ought to ask a question about the backdrop to a public statement by a then-high-ranking U.S. official.  Frankly, someone still should.  If it happened the way Biden and his surrogates claim, it should pretty easy to establish with witnesses and documents.

From 1973


The Roads Least Traveled

Linda Poon at CityLab reports that the GPS company Geotab did something cool. They analyzed their traffic data and produced an interactive map of the least-traveled roads in the US. Their links open up Google street views of each one.

Alaska, North and South Dakota, Montana, and Nevada have the top 10 stretches of road least-traveled, but there's something there for all of the states. Great pics of the 10 most scenic at the site.

Plausible!

Jimbo: The Deep State Exists

Uncle Jimbo of BLACKFIVE fame wrote a piece for the Federalist under his real (and more professional) name, Jim Hanson.
Vindman gave the game away with his prepared testimony. He believes the permanent bureaucracy should reign supreme, and if some elected politician gets crosswise with the solons of the state, then they must act. So he did, as he detailed in his prepared statement and testimony to Congress. From the statement: “In the Spring of 2019, I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency. This narrative was harmful to U.S. government policy.”

There is a lot of wrong in those two sentences, which profoundly illustrate the fundamental flaw Vindman and his fellow Deep Staters operate under. The interagency he mentions is a collection of staff from the major agencies like the State Department, Department of Defense, and intelligence agencies, who meet to coordinate and plan implementation of policy. They most certainly are not supposed to decide what policy the United States will follow.... [despite] his belief that they are the ones whose opinions matter and anyone acting outside of that is acting against U.S. interests. Even if that conflicted with the policy of his superiors all the way up to the president, Vindman and the Deep State would decide what “advanced U.S. policy interests.”

Vindman also took action warning Ukrainian officials he spoke to: “I would tell them to not interfere — not get involved in U.S. domestic politics.”

This was after Vindman says he had determined the calls for an investigation into election interference and anything related to Burisma corruption and the Bidens equaled President Trump trying to get Ukraine to interfere in U.S. politics. He was actively undermining what he believes is the president’s chosen policy—not because it is illegal, but because he disagrees with it and doesn’t think it is important.

That is far beyond Vindman’s duties or authority, and in applying his opinion and actions to counter the president’s goals, Vindman may be violating Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which covers insubordination to the president and other named officials.

This is insubordination and malfeasance, and likely punishable under several sections of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
How they'll howl if he gets prosecuted by a court martial.

How America Ends

An interesting essay, in that it is from the left-leaning perspective, but is trying to grapple with the anger being provoked by intentional changes in American demographics.
"The stakes in this battle on the right are much higher than the next election. If Republican voters can’t be convinced that democratic elections will continue to offer them a viable path to victory, that they can thrive within a diversifying nation, and that even in defeat their basic rights will be protected, then Trumpism will extend long after Trump leaves office—and our democracy will suffer for it."
It would be easier for people on the right to believe that their basic rights will be protected in defeat if the folks on the left would quit running on, inter alia, the following things:

* First Amendment-violating bans on 'hate speech';

* First Amendment-violating use of the courts to sue religious organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor to compel violation of their religion;

* Similar suits and laws aimed to destroy people for living by religious principles that defy sexual liberality;

* The complete elimination of the Second Amendment as a governing principle, without the bother of repealing it;

* Allowing sanctuary cities and states to violate Federal law at will, and dissolving agencies meant to enforce those laws, while at the same time constructing all new laws to bind actual American citizens.

In fairness the author does mention 'the excesses of the left,' but mostly seems to mean Antifa. It's the ordinary establishment left, and for that matter their allies among ordinary establishment Republicans, that are driving the bus.

Impeachment: Over/Under on a Senate Trial?

On the one hand, the movement to impeach the President began the moment he was elected; it is clear that the prior administration put steps into place, and left some stay-behind loyalists, precisely to figure out how to take down the incoming administration. Examples include Sally Yates, the so-called 'whistleblower' whom I won't name mostly because his name is too long to type, the FBI/DOJ lovers, and so forth and so on; the executive order allowing the alleged evidence on Russia to be promulgated much more widely than usual; the ongoing FISA applications to continue to allow spying on the incoming administration. Given the level of commitment, it's hard to imagine they will wave off now.

On the other hand, if this goes to the Senate, they lose control of it. Republicans get to subpoena witnesses and ask whatever they want of them. Ukraine seems to be where many of the bodies are buried: not just Hunter Biden but Nancy Pelosi's son, Mitt Romney's son, John Kerry's son all have similar jobs, and Biden's success at using aid-money as a lever to force them to fire that prosecutor netted the replacement who torpedoed Paul Manafort during the height of the 2016 election, while Manafort was the Republican campaign manager. I wouldn't want to draw attention to Ukraine with the 2020 election just around the corner, not if I was an establishment politician.

So will they pull the trigger? At The Hill, Jonathan Turley wonders.

Slipping new ideas into unwilling minds

This interview with the host of the Legal Insurrection blog starts with a good summary of the Oberlin collage defamation case, but perhaps even more interesting--and heartening--is the blogger's account of how he got some students at Vassar to hear his views on the First Amendment.  He appealed to their natural desire to be free from all kinds of intrusion, as protected by other parts of the Bill of Rights, then drew their attention to the importance of freedom of speech.

"That's Weird"

The most exciting words in science are occurring on Mars.

Feminist Pragmatists

A friend of mine self-describes this way, and is excited about this philosophical conference. I certainly think that pragmatism is the viable way to approach feminism if anything is; a focus on whether or not the theories lead to better practical results makes sense to me. Pragmatism is an essentially American philosophical school, oddly enough (from my perspective) associated with late-19th century progressivism. I'm not sure how well progressivisim has ever worked out, although in fairness in the 19th century it hadn't yet been tried to any degree. The inability to re-evaluate assumptions in the light of subsequent experience suggests to me a basic failure in the ability of people to apply "pragmatism" to ideological preferences.

Still, just because execution is bad doesn't mean the theory is wrong. I'm all for pragmatism for those who can be pragmatic. Or as a different friend of mine used to say, "I believe you should try pragmatism, but if it doesn't work out try something else."

Bee Stings

After the Bee perfectly parodied my internal dialog about Ben Shapiro steamrolling snowflakes, I was hesitant to return to America's paper of record.

But I'm not as bad as this guy ... Man In Critical Condition After Hearing Slightly Differing Viewpoint

There is also the obligatory article, Spare Empty Podium Expected To Win Democratic Debates By Wide Margin. Truth? Satire? Who can tell?

And finally a straight news story: Nation's Gen Xers Announce Plan To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Watching Boomers, Millennials Tear Each Other To Shreds.

Although I should keep my mouth shut, I do have a suggestion about that. I think we've all become familiar with the millenials' retort, "OK, Boomer." The Blogfather has started using "OK, Millenial" in reply. But, really, that just doesn't roll off the tongue very well. Can we call them Millys?

What!? I think that's very helpful!

For Grim

This might be outside your normal wheelhouse, but I can think of at least three things in this video that would appeal to you:

Happy Veterans' Day

All the best to all of you Veterans who keep making America a better place even after honorable service.

Oaths of office

If you want to be a socialist dictator for life, aren't you supposed to have the military in your pocket?  Bolivian president Evo Morales has stepped down after a friendly chat with the nation's "army chief," in which it was suggested that some aspects of the recent election tally didn't look entirely kosher.  And also that Mr. Morales's allies' homes were being burnt down, but mostly that the homes were being burnt down.  Morales took the well-meant advice and resigned.

I admit that this part gave me pause:
However, the Cuban and Venezuelan leaders - who had previously voiced their support for Mr Morales - condemned the events as a "coup".
I guess they'd know one when they see it.  It wasn't a coup earlier, though, when Morales got a friendly court to throw out term limits.

I'd sure rather see political change happen without the intervention of the military.  I'll be watching nervously to see whether Bolivia can get its civil act together.  It will be good to see the military refuse to support a sham election, but this is playing with fire:  undermining faith in elections to the point where violent uprisings seem like the only answer.  Note to future tyrants:  if you can't get the real consent of the people, at least remember to corrupt the military.

Blessings of the day to our own uncorrupted military.  Too often we take their honor for granted.

In other news, progressives cheer as more Americans are taught to cower at the sound of gunfire.  Way to keep those tyrants in check, unarmed protesters!

Happy Birthday, Marines

I was just last night at a charity ball for a MARSOC-focused charity. It was part of what took me to the DC Metroplex. Thankfully it is now over; it was a black-tie event that went from 1700 until nearly midnight. Indeed, Marines present were openly plotting to transition right into Birthday celebrations at the stroke of midnight. The Birthday, though technically almost over, will likely be a going concern well into the AM for many Marines.

Have a happy one.

One of the best mistakes ever

Did Gorbachev really believe people would stay in East Germany after the wall came down, and he told the soldiers not to shoot?
Shouldn’t we have understood the hollowness of the Soviet system from the moment the wall went up in 1961? If the Soviet Empire had been founded on an ideology, a belief, a hope for a better society, it would not have been necessary to build a wall, surrounded by barbed wire and explosive mines, to prevent East Germans from leaving. The wall had no other significance than to evoke and reinforce fear in the subjects of the empire and among Communist leaders themselves; if they had once believed their Marxist vulgate, the wall proved, starting in 1961, that they no longer believed it. Neither did Stalin in the 1930s, since his essential contribution to the Soviet system (and later, by contagion, the Chinese and the Cuban experiments in inhumanity) was to institutionalize fear, with prison camps, phony trials, arbitrary arrests, and the denunciation of everyone by everyone.
* * *
Communism has been an actual belief primarily in free countries.... Communism only works, it seems, where it is not applied.
Thirty years after the wall came down, some believe that the event has not lived up to its promise. Well—explain that to the Poles, the Baltic peoples, and the Ukrainians! Another quarrel also divides historians: did the wall fall, or was it destroyed—and if destroyed, by whom? By heroes seeking freedom, by brave people seeking bananas, by the preaching of Pope John Paul II, by the prescient 1987 speech of Ronald Reagan in Berlin—“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”? As often happens in history, major events grow out of multiple influences. But of all these factors, the most improbable was Gorbachev’s instructing his troops, “Don’t shoot.” He thought that he was reinventing socialism with a human face. The Soviet Empire was destroyed by the only one of its leaders who believed that real socialism could exist without fear—a fatal, fortunate error.

Stay Alert, Trust No One, Keep Your Weapon Handy

H/t Raven, we are reminded that this can be an axe.

Cold Mountain

Since Tex posted that trailer, with its atrocious Hollywood attempts at Southern accents, I thought I should point out that I was at Cold Mountain just the other day. Here it is:


North Carolina sent more people to the war than any other state, and on both sides. Important raids and battles happened there, but not near Cold Mountain. It was too remote to fight over.

I don't even know where to start

If your community can't rise to the challenge of some turkeys, maybe it's time to turn the town over to them.



Review: “One Child Nation”

A truly horrifying film, it seems.

The Crazy Years

On outsourcing our brain functions a little more than is strictly necessary:
Independent and dependent variables are not tools for a cloistered elite. The scientific method is not secret knowledge for the clergy. Measurements of temperatures and trace gases, of sunspots and glacial accretion are not mysteries understood only by the privileged. We used to know that education and knowledge were more valuable than gold because any person with either could exploit those who lacked them both. It has never been easier to use an elementary education to understand the world around us, yet never have more people clamored for an intellectual aristocracy to do our thinking for us.

Learning from failure

I'm looking forward to reading a new Powerline-recommended book by John Tamny, "They're Both Wrong," which promises to poke holes in conventional wisdom on both sides of the political aisle.  I had to stop while still in the Foreword to quote from John Tierney, who argues that what distinguishes capitalists from bureaucrats is that they're punished for failure and therefore learn from it:
As Tamny explains, the populist revolts in the United States and other countries are not driven by a disdain for science or learning. The populists don't object to expertise in itself, but rather to the mistakes that conceited experts keep foisting on the public.... Tamny keenly appreciates the original definition of "conventional wisdom," John Kenneth Galbraith's term for beliefs that are popular not because they're correct, but because they're comfortable--and comfortable for the right people in power.


"Cuba without the sun"

Conrad Black is confident that British voters don't really want to make their political and economic life even drearier.
Unless the British voters plumb a new depth in perversity, Mr. Johnson should win a sizable majority, little of the London financial industry will depart, and there will be a thunderous in-rush of capital investment to celebrate Britain’s increasing proximity to the United States and reconfirmation as a low-tax country, especially the rejection of the Labor Party’s outright advocacy of widespread nationalization of industry, sharply higher taxes in upper personal income brackets, increased powers to organized labour, and wild fiscal incontinence.

Welcome Back, Cassandra

I was amused to see her getting away with just slipping back into the comments here, but it's a sufficiently momentous event that it deserves recognition. Our old friend has decided to spend some time with us, much to my great happiness. Give her an appropriate welcome.

The hits keep on coming

Ace of Spades HQ notes that Christopher Steele has a new hoax out.

Pssh... Okay, Boomer.

Just read what this hateful, racist, transphobic jerk dared to say about woke culture!

Honoring Rick Rescorla

I was pleased to see this.

If only

You Owe Us Eight Bucks. We'll Take Your Home Instead.

The state government of Michigan commits a tremendous moral wrong, but not a crime.

The Worst Mistake

If the American Revolution devastated the globe, as per the book reviewed a few days ago, it wasn't the first time: civilization itself was the first, and worst, mistake.
All this cave painting, migrating, and repainting of newly found caves came to an end roughly twelve thousand years ago, with what has been applauded as the “Neolithic Revolution.” Lacking pack animals and perhaps tired of walking, humans began to settle down in villages and eventually walled cities; they invented agriculture and domesticated many of the wild animals whose ancestors had figured so prominently in cave art. They learned to weave, brew beer, smelt ore, and craft ever-sharper blades.

But whatever comforts sedentism brought came at a terrible price: property, in the form of stored grain and edible herds, segmented societies into classes—a process anthropologists prudently term “social stratification”—and seduced humans into warfare. War led to the institution of slavery, especially for the women of the defeated side (defeated males were usually slaughtered) and stamped the entire female gender with the stigma attached to concubines and domestic servants. Men did better, at least a few of them, with the most outstanding commanders rising to the status of kings and eventually emperors. Wherever sedentism and agriculture took hold, from China to South and Central America, coercion by the powerful replaced cooperation among equals. In Jared Diamond’s blunt assessment, the Neolithic Revolution was “the worst mistake in the history of the human race.”
Her thesis about the cave paintings, by the way, is that they were admirations of beings much more powerful than humans were at that time. Humans posed no threats to bison and lions, so they adored them from afar, effacing themselves but drawing the megafauna with loving attention. It was the attitude of 'meat that knows it is meat,' a kind of humility to which she would like humanity to return.

Ranger Up: "If Not Us, Who?"

Good boy

The Sonoran murders were unspeakable, but this story deserves our attention.

The Life Of An Agent (Az ügynök élete)

Grim's post with a link to a piece about a KGB training manual reminded me to share with you all something I came across in Budapest this past Summer at Memento Park, where many of the Soviet era statues and monuments were moved for display.  They also have a recreated barrack from an internment camp (which was in August, appropriately unbearably hot), within which they have exhibited a brief history of the Communist era in Hungary, along with the history of the park itself, and a small theater room running the movie "The Life of an Agent" on a loop.  It's an interesting film.  It seems to be a compilation of training film clips from various periods in the communist era, for the AVH (Pre 1956) and the Interior Ministry (After the '56 revolution).  It's kind of a fun, yet sobering reminder of how a totalitarian society operates.  Of course, today there's no need for such an apparatus. We have social media and digital traces for governments to surveil us, if they like.  Enjoy.

Feasting Abroad

Our friend and Chicago Boyz blogger David Foster joined me today at Hill Country Barbecue, D.C. This is my favorite restaurant in the city. Bands traveling from the Austin area up to New York City to perform often stop in and play on the way up or the way back, so there are great live music performances in the evenings on a regular basis. The meat is fantastic, and when there isn't live music there's still pretty good music on the sound system.

Plus, it's one of the few places in D.C. that has made a point of refusing to unseat people for their political views, so it's an authentically American joint.

We had a good meal and conversation. I don't think he'll contradict me in recommending the place to any of you who pass through town.

Bee Stung ...

I think I've heard it said in a movie that every con has a mark, and if you don't know who the mark is, it's you. Or maybe it was the sucker in a poker game. Either way.

I read the article "Libs Triggered After Ben Shapiro LITERALLY STEAMROLLS A Bunch Of SNOWFLAKE College Students" at the nation's paper of record and, though I laughed, couldn't figure out who the target of their parody was. Remembering those sage words of advice from a movie I think I saw once, I've decided it has to be me.

Graphs like this:

"Often, [Shapiro] philosophically steamrolls them, crushing them with facts and logic. But this time, he literally steamrolled them with a 15,000-pound road roller. That's right: Shapiro rented a giant steamroller and went to town!

"Go Shappy! Go Shappy!"

could have been stolen right from my mind! I would absolutely cheer like that if Shapiro went after a triggered snowflake with a steamroller. There are more examples, but it would be too creepy to quote them all.

The only question now is -- Is the Babylon Bee reading my mind or planting the thoughts there?

The USSR Leads the World in Steel Production

... and other ways Lies Don't Work, otherwise known as "it's really not a good idea to silence the feedback signal," from Sarah Hoyt:
Well, now I think about it, most feedback is annoying.
Economics is full of it — as are other economic systems — and humans find it so annoying they have devised various means of shutting it down, and then become puzzled and do crazy stuff when the system goes out of control.

People Learned About Her Record as a Prosecutor?

Politico ponders a question: How did Kamala Harris go from 'the female Obama' to fifth place?

I mean, for me it was her record as a prosecutor. You want to take a former prosecutor who held back exculpatory information even in death row cases, and put her in charge of the secret police? Thanks but no thanks.
Harris undermined her national introduction with costly flubs on health care, feeding a critique that she lacks a strong ideological core and plays to opinion polls and the desires of rich donors. She was vague or noncommittal on question after question from voters at campaign stops. She leaned on verbal crutches instead of hammering her main points in high-profile TV moments. The deliberate, evidence-intensive way she arrives at decisions—one of her potential strengths in a matchup with Trump—often made her look wobbly and unprepared.

Harris today has another explanation for her inability to get voters to see her as the next president: what she’s calling the “donkey in the room.” Before a few hundred people on a chilly October night in the Des Moines suburb of Ankeny, surrounded by hay bales and framed by the Iowa flag, she wondered aloud: “Is America ready for that? Are they ready for a woman of color to be president?
So nothing about "she proved to be a tyrant who couldn't be trusted with power"? I'm pretty sure she got explicitly dinged for that in the debates by Tulsi Gabbard. Not even a mention? (When the piece gets to her prosecutorial record, it describes her as "cautious," and accuses Tulsi of 'lacking context' or being 'misleading.')

"Go East! Go East!"

I'm still ruminating about the level of panic I detected in an old friend when we caught up with each other at a reunion of four former colleagues a couple of weeks ago.  She was genuinely distressed to hear I could possibly be a Trump supporter, and obviously also quite seriously alarmed by talk of the end of the world from climate change.  This is an intelligent, well-educated, strong-minded woman.  My own distress stems from how easy it seems to be for our own friends, neighbors, and relatives to go so far off the deep end.

For a tale of irrational panic, it's hard to beat James Thurber's account in "My Life and Hard Times" of the Great Easter Flood of 1913, in which the residents of Columbus, Ohio, somehow got the idea an upstream dam had failed, releasing floodwaters that were about to engulf them.  Thousands of people hit the streets and stampeded.  We're only superficially rational in a pinch.

I ran across this reference in the comments section to an Althouse piece about anti-Trumpers who find the prospect of his second term "literally unthinkable."  "Who are these people," some of them wondered, "who support Trump?"  One commenter mused, "Oh, I don't know, a bunch of deplorables, about 60M, give or take."  He thought it was odd so many anti-Trumpers never seemed to have met one, there being, you know, quite a few around.  Another commenter suggested that the right response on the morning after Election Day 2020 would be to run outside shouting "Go East! Go East!" in the manner of the terrified residents of 1913 Columbus.

While we're waiting for the collapse of civilization, here are two enchanting images.  First, Kurt Suzuki in a MAGA hat at the prow of the Titanic shouting "I'm King of the World!" with the Racist-Homophobe-in-Chief embracing him fondly.


I assume Mr. Suzuki is looking to be traded to a team in flyover country.  Speaking of which, here is a gem from Twitter:  a small storm of derision triggered by some poor schmuck who posted a snapshot aerial view of farmland, with the puzzled comment that it was pretty, but he had no idea why it looked all patchworky and rectangular like that--thus demonstrating once and for all why we have the Electoral College.  One commenter suggested the strange look was because flyover country doesn't get broadband reception and is permanently pixilated.  Another mourned the necessity to chop up the ground like that just to grow food, instead of producing it in grocery stores the way they did in her blue-model city.



A Field Guide to Prospective Traitors

Via Wretchard, a KGB manual for identifying those likely to turn. Disaffected officials are the big target: "losers who think they are winners because they hang on to important positions."

"The Evil Repercussions of the American Revolution"

The NYT reviews a book subtitled How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe. Although the reviewer calls the piece "enthralling," he does admit that there is a reliance on a kind of 'butterfly effect' that readers might find unconvincing. By the conclusion there is simply not a conviction in the case. The reviewer writes:
This is a pity. Having proposed such an audacious thesis, and collected a lot of interesting but not self-evidently cohesive or decisive information, the book needs to draw its ideas together and make its case that the American Revolution devastated the globe. As it is, though much of the material here is lively, enjoyable and compelling, the thesis is not persuasive.
Well, maybe the next time. We'll keep trying the case until we get the right result. That's how things are done, right?

If property is theft, theft is woke

The Atlantic takes a story about neighbors collaborating with surveillance devices, a "Nextdoor" neighborhood website, and cooperation with the police to stop a string of petty doorstep thefts, and turns it into an exposé of plutocratic racism in San Franscisco.  The "porch pirate" is amazed that society got it together to stop her, as frankly am I.  The writer clearly thinks we should concentrate on large financial frauds and let the minor stuff go, because the offender doesn't have a nice life, what with the drug addiction and all, so what's she supposed to do but steal?  Society has left her few options.  "Who is she supposed to steal from, if not from us?"

We used to own the Mammoth Megaphone!

Robert Reich is in anguish over how somebody ejected his beloved media from its gatekeeper seat.  While you weren't paying attention, Facebook and Twitter became uncontested conduits for Trump's lies to 65 million people.  Stop laughing.  It's serious business!  Even the evil Fox News reaches only a few million daily.  I blame myself.  I had no idea Facebook and Twitter were in the bag for conservatives.
Antitrust should be used against Facebook and Twitter. They should be broken up.
So instead of two mammoth megaphones trumpeting Trump’s lies, or those of any similarly truth-challenged successor, the public will have more diverse sources of information, some of which will expose the lies.
Now, this isn't a bad idea in itself. It's just a couple of decades late, and backwards. No doubt some self-knowledge will creep into Reich's psyche soon.  Any day now he could remember both the text and the rationale of the First Amendment.

Who does he think he is?

Vindman is a little concerned. WaPo reports somberly that
he was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy....
What's next? An attempt by the guy in the Oval Office to exercise the veto power? When will the Resistance wake up to this cancer on the Republic?

Nacho candidate

From the Bee:
U.S.—Presidential candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke has announced he is dropping out of the presidential race so that he can spend more time taking guns away from his family. “I’ve been so focused on grabbing the guns of strangers,” O’Rourke told the press, “that I’ve neglected taking away the guns of those closest to me.”

New scandal

I have irrefutable proof that the White House photoshopped this publicity shot.


Never mind

HotAir reports that the "anonymous" whistleblower no longer wants to testify in the House's secret Star Chamber proceedings. It also points out, however, that the Schiff Show won't always be in charge of all the decisions about who gets to testify:
If Democrats vote to impeach Trump, a trial must begin in the Senate, where Republicans will control all of the processes that Schiff currently controls. It’s all but certain that Senate Republicans will take a very keen interest in just how this all started, and might start issuing subpoenas to House attorneys to testify as to their contacts with this whistleblower. They could also subpoena the whistleblower himself, although certain safeguards would still apply, but it might be sufficient to force transparency on House committee staffers in establishing who participated in this whistleblowing, at what time, and for what purpose.
At any rate, the fact that Democrats no longer want the whistleblower to participate in this process is not going to deter Republicans from pursuing this issue. In fact, it might just raise a big red flag for Lindsey Graham when — or if — he gets the case.
Maybe the plan is never actually to vote to impeach, but only to spend the entire time between now and November 2020 calling witnesses in secret and selectively releasing portions of their testimony. That's going to form an interesting counterpoint to the long-awaited Horowitz IG report and whatever indictments John Durham plans to hand down.

Can this marriage be saved?

From Stephen Kruiser at PJ Media:
Face it, we don't like each other much anymore, the Right and Left in America. We've been heading toward this for a while. I blame Hillary Clinton, partially because she's so adept at being unlikeable, but mostly because I believe she is more than likely Satan's latest incarnation on Earth.

Never never never never

On a recommendation from Maggie's Farm, I've been reading the recently deceased Vladimir Bukosvky's "To Build a Castle," about the astonishing success of resistance against Soviet totalitarianism even in the grimmest of prisons and work camps.
“The implacable force of one man’s refusal to submit” could, Bukovsky wrote, weaken the force of the leviathan, which rested “not [on] rifles … tanks, [nor] atom bombs [but] on public obedience.”
With such a thought, maybe he was crazy, you might say. But, having won his freedom, he outlived the Soviet Union by 30 years — not nearly enough for those of us privileged to know him or the millions of others forever in his debt.
Bukovsky and his fellow political prisoners resisted all day, every day, in the tiny ways they had available. They never rested.
The old jailers used to sigh, "You're hopelessly spoiled. Now, twenty years ago...." But we too were nothing like the rabbits who died without a murmur. We had grasped the great truth that it was not rifles, not tanks and not atom bombs that created power, nor upon them that power rested. Power depended upon public obedience, upon a willingness to submit. Therefore each individual who refused to submit to force reduced that force by one 250-millionth of its sum. We had been schooled by our participation in the civil rights movement, we had received an excellent education in the camps, and we knew of the implacable force of one man's refusal to submit. The authorities knew it too. They had long since abandoned any idea of basing their calculations on Communist dogma. They no longer demanded of people a belief in the radian future--all they needed was submission.
As Churchill said,
[S]urely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished.... But instead our country stood in the gap.


Another interesting read this week:  James E. Mitchell's "Enhanced Interrogation."  Diane Feinstein doesn't come off well, but the author has good things to say about John Durham.  Mitchell is the man you've probably seen quoted as reporting KSM's astonishment that the "cowboy" George Bush didn't treat 9/11 as a law-enforcement matter, but instead took decisive action to disrupt al Qaeda's follow-up plans.

"The signal is coming from inside the house"

... As Glen Reynolds like to say. Californians naturally blame Republican policies for the collapse of their public systems, and even gloat that the Reagan Library, threatened by wildfire, is about to get its comeuppance. In case you're wondering, though, that's totally not hate speech. Everything is either woke or hate, and this obviously is woke.

DC Metropolitan Axis

Here I am once again. I’ll be in town until 10 November, if any of you are looking to meet up.

Katie, We Hardly Knew Ya

I actually only first heard of her when the story broke about her having multiple affairs with both sexes, while naked bong-smoking and nude hair brushing.  And now she’s already gone, just as she promised to be the most entertaining Congressperson since I can’t say when.

Nice of her to blame misogyny for her downfall, though. It was the affair with the female staffer by a female Congressperson that got noted female Nancy Pelosi to demand her resignation. I didn’t ask her to leave. I’d have rather she stayed. You can’t pay for entertainment like that, and it’s not like her district is apt to send anyone better.

Oh well.

ISIS to Review Institutional Culture Following Baghdadi Suicide

Via Tex, a post from the DB.

Also on topic, the BB offers an updated style guide for news organizations.

The Roots of California's Energy Problems Go Back Decades

Tex presented a couple of theories she'd come across about California's utility problems that have led to blackouts in much of Northern California.  One not so good, and the other started to get at the real issues- but it goes back much further than that.  I came across this thread of tweets by Mike Shellenberger, who is an interesting fellow- He's a lauded environmentalist (Time Magazine Hero of the Environment 2008), and now runs "Environmental Progress", an organization that promotes Nuclear power as a major force in clean energy.
"And so et al used renewables as public relations cover in order to kill the only technology, nuclear, that can replace fossil fuels, in large measure to protect their own family's oil monopoly, in addition to fear-mongering about nuclear for 40+ years."
There's too much in the thread for me to put it here, but it gets into Jerry Brown's first term, and the relationship of personal and oil interests in killing nuclear power, and promoting unreliable and impotent renewables instead.

He's coming out with a book next year that will go in depth, but the thread should give you a sense of what it's about.

The Great Cattle Raid of Eastern Lakes

Apparently a common and ongoing practice in South Sudan.
In South Sudan, brideprices may be anything from 30 to 300 cows. “For young men, the acquisition of so many cattle through legitimate means is nearly impossible,” write Ms Hudson and Ms Matfess. The alternative is to steal a herd from the tribe next door. In a country awash with arms, such cattle raids are as bloody as they are frequent. “7 killed, 10 others wounded in cattle raid in Eastern Lakes,” reads a typical headline in This Day, a South Sudanese paper. The article describes how “armed youths from neighbouring communities” stole 58 cows, leaving seven people—and 38 cows—shot dead “in tragic crossfire”.

Thousands of South Sudanese are killed in cattle raids every year. “When you have cows, the first thing you must do is get a gun. If you don’t have a gun, people will take your cows,” says Jok, a 30-year-old cattle herder in Wau, a South Sudanese city. He is only carrying a machete, but he says his brothers have guns.

Jok loves cows. “They give you milk, and you can marry with them,” he smiles.
It sounded cooler when Cúchulainn was doing it.

Is It Behind the Guillotine?

Marxist financial advice.

Operation Kayla Mueller

According to the New York Post:

The military operation targeting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named for Kayla Mueller, the humanitarian aid worker the terrorist leader captured and tortured until her death in 2015.

...
Mueller, of Prescott, Ariz., was 25 when she was taken captive by ISIS in August 2013 after crossing the Turkish border into Syria to visit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo. She was held for 18 months before her death was announced in 2015.
An appropriate name for such an operation.

Ranger Up marks the occasion as well.

Update: USA Today has an interview with Mueller's parents, a sad but satisfying exchange.

Disturbing news regarding the "hero dog" of the al-Baghdadi raid.

Courtesy of the Babylon Bee

Riding Report

Saw another bear today, smaller than the last one. Classic shape and colors, black with a tan muzzle. I'd estimate 225-250 pounds, whereas I think the fellow from the Mexican restaurant was north of 350.

The light and the color of the leaves today was as fine as I've ever seen it. You get a real sense of verticality riding up and down these mountain roads, as you see ridges that you then descend in amongst, or rise back out of again. The weather was warm enough to ride without gloves, though as the afternoon lengthened I added a long-sleeved shirt.

Good day.


Wolf Lake.

Two great theories

We're all wondering how California could have painted itself into such a lurid corner on a lot of subjects, the most recently obvious one being a dramatic failure of the power grid.  USA Today helpfully quotes two citizens--one famous and one not--who are floating explanations that surely will catch on.  First,
For San Francisco resident and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, the blame lies at the doorstep of the White House. He says, "We can't solve this within the Golden State. We are in a fight for our lives, and the president isn't doing anything to help us. In fact, he's making things worse."
Mr. Steyer offers no explanation for his theory, which perhaps needs none. Second,
Susan Smith, [a] resident of Shasta County, where 40,000 PG+E customers had their power turned off, has lived through tornadoes and hurricanes but has never dealt with as many outages as she has since moving from Texas [clue alert].... "If PG+E doesn't have faith in themselves that they can't withstand a wind storm, then they need to go out of business," Smith says Sunday while charging her phone at a community resource center set up in her hometown of Anderson.
Well, PG+E is in its second bankruptcy of the last two decades, so we'll see, but the special thing about state-regulated monopolies is that they generally don't go out of business no matter how fantastically they fail. It's kind of why people go for the monopoly gig in the first place.  In any case, while PG+E can expect limited sympathy considering whom it's in bed with, it is now and ever has been the truth that when a heavily state-regulated monopoly does a bad job, it might be a good idea to consider the barking-mad regulatory system it lives under. It's freaking California, after all, and when you untether a company from market forces by granting it monopoly status, all you have left for protection is the gummint.  That's the state gummint, by the way, the one answerable to California voters, not the Bad Orange Man in Washington.

Major Gabbard Worries the Democratic Establishment

She's only polling around three percent for now, but her attacks on Hillary Clinton -- and her heresy on abortion as well as foreign wars -- seem to have scared the party into backing her primary opponent.

She responded by declaring she wouldn't seek re-election to her House seat at all, but would focus on becoming President. That's shaken them up a bit.

So she's now a right-winger! A Russian Spy!

They're sounding a little bit crazy these days. I wonder if they're aware of the tinge of hysteria that is creeping into their collective voice.

Double-plus un-education

I know this has been going on for a while, but don't we detect a kind of end-stage frantic spiraling climax? If I understand correctly--however unlikely that be in light of my pathetic loyalty to stale intellectual customs that are destroying the world and literally (srsly you guyz) killing otherkin students of all otherilks--this seems to be the plan:
(1) “redesigning assessment ecologies,” and quite a few “dimension-based rubrics."
(2) ???
(3) righteous emancipation and “inclusive excellence.”
So allrighty then.

The Flynn case keeps making me angrier

Flynn's new counsel is tearing the prosecutors up with demands for copies of exculpatory documents.  They should be terrified of this woman.

They live for this

Give a dog something to do that he's all in for.  You can get amazing photos.

Nakba!

The Durham inquiry into the Russiagate conspiracy turns into a formal criminal investigation -- of the investigators of the Russiagate conspiracy.

My faith in the Department of Justice is not so very great that I have high hopes here, but I certainly long to see justice done in this matter. Good hunting, but be transparent and open with the people, and let the chips fall where they may.

Toto Reference from the DB

Headline: "U.S. General blessed the rains down in AFRICOM."

Ironically, the actual AFRICOM headquarters is in Stuttgart, Germany. They probably have rain there too.

Betting against mistakes

I'm liking this guy Matt Levine, who writes for Bloomberg:
Neumann, the founder of WeWork, will walk away from this corporate bonfire with a billion dollars and a bunch of fancy houses. His great-grandchildren will be prominent philanthropists with their names on museums and universities, the strange origin of their fortunes long forgotten. Neumann did a certain sort of capitalism—one with some cachet at HBS!—as well as anyone has ever done it. It is one thing to build a successful company that creates a lot of value and take some of that value for yourself; Neumann created a company that destroyed value at a blistering pace and nonetheless extracted a billion dollars for himself. He lit $10 billion of SoftBank’s money on fire and then went back to them and demanded a 10% commission. What an absolute legend.
As a friend I spent time with last week at a small reunion used to say, "Hey, when did I fall off the fast track?"

The Codevilla Tapes

Some of you will be interested in this.

Mountain Dining

Stopped for dinner at a little Mexican place last night. Apparently I wasn’t the only “Beorn” to think of it.


I’m guessing he’s been a regular visitor. Big sleek fellow with a very glossy coat. Not unfriendly.

Impeachment Replays

William Mattox, of the James Madison Institute, has an interesting idea.

An acquittal should allow a president to run for a third term.

Not a bad one, either.

Eric Hines

Remind me again what these cities have in common?

Again, h/t Instapundit:  top honors for rat infestation go to Chicago, then L.A., with New York, San Francisco, etc., bringing up the rear.

Alliances as a means, not an end

Loyalty and faithfulness to commitments are good things, but nations aren't people. George Washington warned us that
“habitual hatred or a habitual fondness” turns a nation into “a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.”
That's not to say that a nation should lead other nations on, then disappoint them, only that it should think carefully about what it commits to.  In other words, exhibit a little impulse control.

But what did you MEAN by that?

And they say BoJo is rash:
Which brings me back to Alexander and his knot. For the plan of Boris Johnson is not just the bold one. It is the only answer that can stop the courts, MPs, and others from doing for the rest of our natural lives what they would very happily do. Which is to continue to stand before the 2016 result and insist either that it cannot be acted upon or that it should not be acted upon. The media version of this is to pretend that it is not clear what the British people meant when they voted to leave the EU. Somehow it would have been completely plain if we had asked to remain.

Two good ones from Instapundit

Ad Hominem as a Cognitive Bias

Ad hominem is one of the more common informal fallacies, but I have decided that it is also a significant cognitive bias. A cognitive bias is a mode of thought that speeds analysis but tends to lead to errors. A famous one is the availability heuristic, the tendency to make judgments on available information rather than seeking fuller information. For example, I might decide to adopt a new diet because I've seen it depicted favorably in television shows and news programs. Those positive depictions are available without further work. However, further study might show that the new diet was much more questionably beneficial, or even harmful.

Another famous one is the confirmation bias, in which I am inclined to approve information that supports what I already believe to be the case (and to discount evidence that suggests I might be wrong). This one is a very powerful bias that affects everyone, no matter how careful a thinker they may be. It is very difficult to correct for it.

The ad hominem bias, another heuristic bias, which I am proposing works like this: it is easier to understand a known individual's bad qualities than to understand a complex situation in which they are involved. If a bad quality attributed to the known individual can reasonably be inferred to be the cause of a bad but complex situation, the ad hominem heuristic occurs when you make that easy move.

The ad hominem cognitive bias is similar to the availability heuristic in that it works on information that is already available, partly in order to avoid the difficulty of understanding the complex situation. However, it is also similar to confirmation bias in that you believe the bad attribution you yourself are making just because you already believe the person is bad. It is more complicated than the other two, however, in that -- because this is your own attribution, and you therefore believe it -- the new, probably false belief gets filed as further evidence of the bad quality of the person you dislike or hate. The ad hominem heuristic thus contains a feedback loop in which it strengthens itself the more often it occurs; and since it is a cognitive bias and thus likely to lead to error, that means you tend to drift further and further away from what is really true.

In extreme cases, all the problems in your world can end up seeming to be the fault of this one pernicious individual. If only he (or she) could be removed, the improvement would be systemic and massive. This kind of belief can justify many sorts of extreme conclusions, or even violence against the hated individual.

Perhaps it has a name already.