How does a government act when it genuinely wants its existing labor force to thrive?  From a Claremont article about Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán:
“[W]e want a Hungarian Hungary and a European Europe,” he said. So he sought alternatives to Muslim migration that would allow him to keep Hungary’s full-employment economy from stoking inflation. He has stepped up efforts at reintegrating into the economy the backward but considerably more fecund Roma minority. He has lowered the minimum school-leaving age from 18 to 16. He has remobilized retired people. He has pushed the unemployed onto workfare.
And he has made it possible for the German factories that are the backbone of Hungary’s manufacturing economy to ask for up to 400 hours of paid overtime from their workers annually. So short of labor is Hungary that two strikes in January 2019—one in the 4,000-strong Mercedes plant in Kecskemét, one at the vast Audi plant in Györ, with 13,000 employees—ended with 20% and 18% raises for workers, respectively. In the past year Hungary has (very discreetly) offered residence to Venezuelan refugees of Hungarian background. And Orbán has drawn up a plan offering a $30,000 loan to first-time mothers that gets written off when the mother bears a third child, and grants every woman who raises four children an exemption from income tax for the rest of her life.

Beautiful, Warlike Music

The 1982 Conan the Barbarian movie transcends its genre at times, and in several ways, but never more than in the beauty of the score.

Someone made a good decision in hiring a real composer to write a real composition. It raises the movie -- sometimes good, often clever, sometimes silly -- fully into the realm of art.

Glenn Reynolds is Right

The Sage of Knoxville:
BETTER THAT THEY SHOULD BE VICTIMS? Students who tackle shooters die as heroes. Some experts worry ‘we’re setting our kids up to be martyrs.’ “”We’re asking children to make executive decisions, life-and-death decisions.” We’re not asking them to. Life is forcing them to. And this isn’t unusual, but rather — since these “children” are teenagers — the norm for human existence. You could join the Roman legions at 14.

It is?

@Comey: "Reasonable," "totally normal step" to plant undercover sources in a political campaign.
Was that supposed to be reassuring, hoss?


A response to the Defend/Defeat piece that Google hated so much.
I welcome the determination of Williams and the Claremont Institute to protect the nation against the deleterious ideas and illiberal political aims of the purveyors of identity politics and political correctness. But I worry that the Claremont campaign proceeds from a flawed understanding of the ideas Williams hope to defeat and misconstrues the imperatives of prudence arising from the regime he wishes to preserve.

It is a theoretical and rhetorical error, I believe, to liken multiculturalism to slavery and communism.... the ideas that Williams groups under the multiculturalism label present an incoherent cluster of demands for power by resentful members of the elite which masquerade as a quest for social justice by the disadvantaged.
That's OK, because the bulk of Americans are now too badly educated to recognize incoherence. They're ripe for the picking.

Big if True

The claims in this piece are explosive.
[Concerns that the Steele memorandum had many false claims] were flagged in a typed memo and in handwritten notes taken by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec on Oct. 11, 2016.

Her observations were recorded exactly 10 days before the FBI used Steele and his infamous dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the campaign’s contacts with Russia in search of a now debunked collusion theory.

It is important to note that the FBI swore on Oct. 21, 2016, to the FISA judges that Steele’s “reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings” and the FBI has determined him to be “reliable” and was “unaware of any derogatory information pertaining” to their informant, who simultaneously worked for Fusion GPS, the firm paid by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign to find Russian dirt on Trump....

[Kavalec] quoted Steele as saying, “Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami,” according to a copy of her summary memo obtained under open records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United. Kavalec bluntly debunked that assertion in a bracketed comment: “It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami.”

Kavalec, two days later and well before the FISA warrant was issued, forwarded her typed summary to other government officials. The State Department has redacted the names and agencies of everyone she alerted. It is unlikely that her concerns failed to reach the FBI.
Emphasis added.

John Kerry and the Logan Act

Way back in 2004, when this blog was still young, I wrote a piece on John Kerry breaking the Logan Act. At that time I didn't realize that the Logan Act was a dead letter, nor that John Kerry's entire career was built on Logan Act violations and, indeed, outright treason in Paris when he met with the North Vietnamese to negotiate, while a serving naval officer, without the permission of his chain of command. Even then I knew Kerry wouldn't be prosecuted for it.

Sally Q. Yates apparently knew something else, because she used the Logan Act to go after Michael Flynn and George Papadapolous. The Mueller report scuttles the law, though, making clear that it is a baseless and probably unconstitutional law that has never been enforced in 200 years.

Today President Trump stated that John Kerry should probably be prosecuted, because he's actively working to prevent diplomatic engagement between the United States and Iran. Well, he won't be. The man has made his whole life out of this particular sort of perfidy. In just this way he rose to Senator, Secretary of State, and almost -- very nearly -- President of the United States. Treason prospers.

Death Prayers

Raven's suggestion of last week that we should have prayers for dying well got me to thinking of good examples. Our culture is not rich with them. One example that came to mind was the 1999 film 13th Warrior. Ironically, perhaps, both of the prayers are not Christian; both are nevertheless excellent.

Both are also too long. These are prayers to say when you have time. But an abbreviated version might do well.

Oddly Enough, The Answer Proves to Be "Yes!"

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, I guess.

Odd, I Haven't Heard Much About That

A school shooter in Colorado turns out to be a "juvenile female, transitioning to male." Or, as the UK Metro puts it, a "schoolboy."
Sources told the station that the unnamed boy’s motive went ‘beyond bullying and involved revenge and anger towards others at the school,’ adding ‘that at least one of the suspects was involved in legal and illegal drug use and had been in therapy.’
Yes, well, the legal drugs will have been hormone injections -- testosterone, especially. What might be the psychological effects of injecting lots and lots of testosterone into someone who is already unstable enough to feel they need "therapy," and who also uses illegal drugs?

The Harms of Immigration to Migrants

A piece on the hardships it creates for migrants themselves begins with an admonition.
In a recent interview with a French magazine, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said it is wrong to use the gospel to defend illegal immigration. The reason many priests, bishops, and cardinals will not say so is because they are “afraid of being frowned upon, of being seen as reactionaries.”

Sarah is not afraid of that. “It is better to help people flourish in their culture than to encourage them to come to a Europe in full decadence,” he said. “It is a false exegesis to use the word of God to promote migration. God never wanted these heartbreaks.”
In Europe, a lot of immigrants are from the Islamic world. I've spent a lot of time listening to Muslims talk about all this, and they are keenly aware of that decadence. It is their most legitimate complaint against the West, the degree to which the decadent parts of our culture corrupt their own.

Of course, some of that bleeds over into areas where they are assigning the name of 'decadence' to things like allowing women to walk around with their hair showing. You'd think there would be a happy middle ground between purdah and public grotesques, but perhaps there is not. Free individuals may choose to do right, which is the blessing of liberty; but they may also choose to do wrong, which is part of the price.

In any case, I'm glad to hear a Cardinal point out that this is a misuse of the gospels.

Contempt versus Contempt

Attorney General Barr was held in contempt today by the House Judiciary Committee for not doing something he is legally forbidden from doing, according to a law passed by Congress. The law states that knowingly violating the rules pertaining to grand jury secrecy may be "punished as contempt of court."

There's a rock and a hard place for you: choose either contempt of Congress or contempt of court. Barr made the right decision, though, because Congress in the current moment merits contempt. My former Congressman says as much himself.

Battle Axes and Boat Axes

A fun article on the history of the axe in Scandinavia. They still do a great job. The best axes I've ever owned are made by Gränsfors Bruk. They take an edge so sharp that you're liable to cut yourself by looking at it.

One I don't have but might like to own is the "Gränsfors Outdoor Axe," whose description I find amusing. "The Gränsfors Outdoor Axe was developed with the help of survival expert Lars Fält, and is ideal for those who want to use an axe in different ways when out and about in the countryside." Why yes, I can think of "different ways" I might use such an axe "while out and about in the countryside."

Flaming madness

I knew I was in trouble when I read this summary of the Fed's reluctance to transform the U.S. monetary policy in preparedness for possible future climate-change shocks:
[A]ccording to the Fed, severe weather isn’t new and climate change isn’t their responsibility. The American agencies that oversee the financial system have decided to ignore climate change. . . .
nodded in relieved agreement, then noticed that it was the furious summary of a Hawaii senator who pronounced it "garbage." And noticed that it was featured in a Wall Street Journal article that seemed to agree with the honorable senator, in part because:
Research from some regional Fed banks has pointed to considerable disruption in coming years if nothing is done to mitigate rising global temperatures, which scientists broadly agree are driven by human activity.
The devil you say!  Research points to a future problem if nothing is done?  Do these awful conservatives want us to ignore research about the future now?  I realize the existing climate data don't yet support the catastrophic predictions placed before a breathless public over the last two decades, but if you research the future instead of letting yourself be distracted by the boring present and past, you can see there is some very alarming news out there.  Something's got to be done.  Each federal agency must stand by to do its part.

Fed Chairman Powell doesn't actually adopt the bare-knuckled rhetorical style of the Hawaiian senator's summary.  Instead, he seems to be trying to smooth this panic over rather than talking plain sense to spooked, irrational people who probably would only become more hysterical in the presence of declarative statements in plain English. He makes some friendly noise about how severe weather events sometimes have an impact on the economy, and the Fed stands ready to take them into account, as usual, if they happen at some point. He also "played down climate-change issues as a high-priority issue for monetary policy." What criminal lassitude! Doesn't he know that
Some regional Fed leaders have said the central bank may need to take on the issue more aggressively, as some central banks in Europe are doing. Philadelphia Fed leader Patrick Harker said last November that “there is no question we’re going to have to start factoring this more and more” into how the central bank thinks about the future of the economy.
Well, I'm second to none in my admiration for European economic policy, and I'm all for factoring things into how we think about the future of stuff, and aggressive action is always best even if you don't know quite what to do.  Nevertheless, I found the following foot-dragging approach a bit easier to understand:
Others at the Fed believe climate change isn’t something that matters much for monetary policy. “It’s hard for me to imagine the climate changing sufficiently to affect the next three to five years and how we look at the potential growth rate of the U.S. economy,” Minneapolis Fed leader Neel Kashkari said in a March interview.
It looks like we've got some virtuous, caring people who find it easy to imagine how something might have an effect on something else, even if they find it hard to let us know what they're imagining about it these days and why we should care. Then we have some bad people who are finding whatever it is rather harder to imagine, and who in any case can't see that anyone has entrusted them with the task of letting their minds wander in those regions, lost, let alone jacking with the nation's monetary policy in an effort to have an effect on something that may or may not happen according to predictive models that have failed abjectly over the last 20 years.

But . . . but . . . what about preparedness? Really, if these guys must engage in preparedness, I'd rather they geared up to combat the known, predictable, and even currently tangible effects of redistributivist socialist nonsense in aid of further nonsense.

So Much To Do

This one is about the passing of time, and the weight of it amid so many things to do. The song is a kind of miracle, because it conveys all that in just three minutes.

I think the effect comes from the subtle hinge in the music that begins at 1:27, in which there is an orchestral swell in what has heretofore been a very simple song about very ordinary things. It's brief, but the effect is transformative. The song is suddenly not the same, not at all.

The Irish punk band Flogging Molly achieved a similar effect in "Death Valley Queen," this time at 2:29 into a four-minute song. They are less subtle, but they're a punk rock band. In this case, they do it through a simplicity, followed by a swell.

Both songs, in their way, convey emotion with power through these alterations and contrasts.

Income Inequality Falling Without Getting Poor

The usual way that those concerned about 'income inequality' try to reduce it is by raising taxes on the prosperous, thus forcibly lowering the ceiling. The current economic growth is showing a better way: raising the floor.

No More Bans on Ancient Technology

A New Jersey politician wants to ban bags. Paper, plastic, whatever. Plastic straws of course, too. The UK is strongly considering banning knives with points, including the most common chef knives in the world. Pretty much every kitchen has an 8 to 11 inch chef's knife with a point. There's a good reason for that. These knives are extremely useful for a broad range of daily cooking tasks.

The plastic bans at least point at something novel. You could plausibly argue that plastic poses a unique technological risk that we are only now beginning to appreciate. But societies somehow managed to co-exist with the near-universal possession of knives for thousands of years. You can surely figure this out without banning the things.

Maybe we should have a ban on politicians. At least the ones who want more bans.

Georgia to Enact "Heartbeat" Bill

Governor Kemp has decided to sign the "Heartbeat" legislation passed by the Georgia legislature. He'll sign it tomorrow, though it won't go into effect right away due to the way Georgia law operates. The law intends to ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected in the child; it will of course immediately be challenged in court once it comes into effect, and we'll see what becomes of that.

Planned Parenthood is protesting tomorrow, also of course. I notice that their new banner features a hijabi as the central figure, which is remarkable. Islamic opinions on abortion are generally moderate compared to American positions, holding neither that abortion should be always forbidden nor, as Planned Parenthood would have it, permissable to the moment of birth (or even after). But this is just left-leaning virtue signalling, not theology; Planned Parenthood wants to signal support for diversity as well as abortion.

Defend / Defeat

If you didn't read the essay "Defend America -- Defeat Multiculturalism" when I linked it a week or so ago, you might want to before it's gone. Google has demanded the essay's removal from the internet.

Don't Boss Him, Don't Cross Him

This was the album that Willie Nelson put out when he finally got full creative control of his work.

The studio didn't like it, but it was a blockbuster success. It's one of the core albums of the inception of Outlaw Country. If you've never given it a half an hour, you might want to do.

Welcome to Cinco de Drinko

Be sure to avoid cultural appropriation during any festivities today. Remember that your own culture is already a festival of conviviality!

Actually, I guess the buccaneers were also busily appropriating stuff from the Spanish... who had been appropriating it from the Incas and the Aztecs... who had been appropriating it from weaker tribe nations... hmm. Perhaps a 'festival of appropriation' is what's been going on all along.


A Clancy Brother trying on a North Carolina accent. He gets it about right, for the mountain folk.

It's funny about the mountain folk, because they diverge from the typical Southern accent quite a bit. In the valley they say "Ya'll," like anywhere in the South; but in the mountains, they say "You'uns" for the same purpose.