Bouncing off highs

With any luck, Dorian could turn out to be a fish storm: those tracks keep drifting east.  Even my neighbors with a nervous eye out on their upcoming trip to D.C. may luck out.  As my husband says, get ready for a lot of frantic TV anchormen urging everyone to watch out for rip currents, the last refuge of a disappointed weather program producer.

There's still that interesting green model that wants the storm to do a loop-de-loop over Okeefenokee, and the standard "what if it just never turns again" reality-check model, with Biloxi in its sights.

This time of year the relentless bright sunny hot days get a little old, but I'll say one thing for them:  if you have a high-pressure area parked over you, you're not getting a hurricane.

Wretchard: China's Communists vs. Western Elites

It's closer than it ought to be.
As Gilder notes "In a just system of growth, business must be open to bankruptcy as well as to profit. When government puts its thumb on the scales of justice, manipulating money through guarantees and other exercises of power designed to stimulate economic growth or protect assets, it stultifies this learning process." He says that like it's a bad thing -- which it is -- but politicians are falling all over themselves to do it.

Such a system can determine who gets a bailout from the Fed and who gets a diploma from de Blasio's diversity schools but generates little information about who can turn a profit and which students will be the next Einstein. By destroying the measuring stick, defining money as a function of government decisions and competence as a consequence of political correctness, the Western elites have created an artificial, gradually shrinking world.
Wretchard is always worth reading.

Ranger School

It was all true, and then some.
...she lost a member of the platoon. In fact, the missing soldier was so thoroughly separated from the rest of his platoon that the RIs had to shut down the entire mission, telling the platoon to go to sleep where they were while the RIs searched for the missing candidate. The platoon never had the chance even to attempt its assigned mission. But the candidate who had served as platoon sergeant, despite a failure in her performance that ended the mission, received a passing grade.


Ranger Instructor 1: Female got a “go” last night. I was out there. She shouldn’t have. But it happened and [redacted]

Ranger Instructor 2: Why did she get a go then?

Ranger Instructor 1: I was out there until actions on [that is, the raid or ambush the platoon was supposed to conduct]. Never happened because they missed their hit time. 1SG recocked them [that is, reset the mission conditions and gave them the chance to start over]. That never happened because she gave abad head count three times. We finally realized their [sic] was a missing student.

Ranger Instructor 1: Had to lock the [platoon] down and find this kid.

Ranger Instructor 3: That’s a definite go haha


Ranger Instructor B: It’s all [b*******]. On 8-35 [the mission they were on], they walk [sic] the road back into camp under RI control [that is, RIs took over from the candidate leadership and led the platoon to its destination on an open road rather than through the woods]

Ranger Instructor B: And lost a Ranger


An RI with firsthand knowledge of the candidate’s evaluation explains, “During clearance of the [objective], she lost control of her squad, leading to fratricide” (i.e. leading to what would have been a friendly-fire incident if live rounds were being used in a non-training environment.) Understandably, this normally earns a failing grade (an “immediate no-go”). But it didn’t here.
This was, remember, the third attempt for these three would-be Rangers; they'd already failed out twice before. On the third go-round, word came down that they were to be passed even in spite of massive and potentially fatal errors.

The author adds, "It is important to emphasize that those whom I interviewed expressed admiration for the graduating females’ grit and perseverance and were not critical of the female candidates’ character or commitment. The officers and enlisted soldiers I spoke to uniformly respected the female candidates’ efforts and willingness to put themselves through the rigors of Ranger training."

That said, standards were suppressed -- and critics were silenced -- in order to obtain politically correct results. This will have deadly results eventually, which is why the training is so severe. As you will recall, the Marine Corps' study was similarly ignroed, and they were forced to proceed in spite of the clear findings.

An Unfair Criticism from VDH

"What is the alternative to Trump?" he asks. He begins with a very fair criticism -- of Trump, no less.
No president for the past 19 years has sought to offer any remotely sane budget. And with still relatively low interest rates, massive federal spending, a $22 trillion national debt, and an annual deficit of nearly $1 trillion, it is hard to imagine, in extremis, that there remains any notion of “stimulus” or “pump-priming” left.

Yet we hear little about such financial profligacy.

Not a word comes from Trump’s critics about the need for Social Security or Medicare reform to ensure the long-term viability of each — other than the Democrats’ promises to extend such financially shaky programs to millions of new clients well beyond the current retiring Baby Boomer cohorts who are already taxing the limits of the system.
I have occasionally noted in this space that I would like to hear a plan to save the Medicare We Have before we float plans for Medicare For All, but so far none have been forthcoming. I am forced to conclude that our two largest generations, who drive most of our politics, are satisfied with the arc toward failure. The Boomers who are still the frontrunners know there's enough for their generation; and the Millennials just beginning to assume office aren't interested in saving programs they can't imagine surviving long enough to serve them.

Anyway, VDH goes on to this:
To counter every signature Trump issue, there is almost no rational alternative advanced.... Instead of vague socialist bombast and promises, where is the actual detailed progressive version of the Contract with America, so voters can read it, digest it, and then decide whether it is superior or inferior to the status quo since 2017?
There's certainly been plenty of vague bombast, but there is actually a detailed set of plans on offer from Elizabeth Warren. They include the following:

* A wealth tax;

* New taxes on corporations, as well as mandates that would force them to put some of their workers on the boards;

* An 'economic patriotism' plan built around 'corporate citizenship' that is, if we are honest, fascist in Mussolini's specific sense of the term ("Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.");

* Essentially every kind of gun control anyone has thought of as an option;

* A plan to eliminate the Electoral College;

* A housing assistance plan that reads as if it were written to satisfy the criticisms raised by Ta-Nehisi Coates;

* Black reparations;

* Native American reparations;

* Gay reparations;

* Female reparations, these to be extracted from their future employers;

* College student reparations;

* Punishment for hospitals with high maternity death rates ("What could possibly go wrong? Well, the hospitals may have no control over the things that are causing the disparity. Yet hospitals that serve large numbers of black women will lose funding."); also, universal child care;

* A plan to boost immigration by decriminalizing currently-illegal entry;

* A plan to shut down mining and other wealth-extraction from public lands;

* ...and numerous other plans.

In fact, the only thing she seems to have no formal plan to do is reforming health care generally. I'm sure it's on her list of things to do, but it's not something she's explained exactly how she'd do.

She's got a pretty sweeping agenda, and I notice that she hasn't spelled it out at her campaign website in anything like the detail she has done elsewhere. It's at least as transformative as anything Obama imagined.

Military Citizenship

If there's one thing the military needs, it's more paperwork.
"The policy change explains that we will not consider children who live abroad with their parents to be residing in the United States even if their parents are U.S. government employees or U.S. service members stationed outside of the United States, and as a result, these children will no longer be considered to have acquired citizenship automatically," USCIS spokesperson Meredith Parker told Task & Purpose.

"For them to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship, their U.S. citizen parent must apply for citizenship on their behalf."

The process under INA 322 must be completed before the child's 18th birthday.
So are they considered 'natural born' citizens for the purpose of running for President? I suppose there's no actual legal standard for that, since there's 'no controlling legal authority.'

A Brexit Gamble

A surprising constitutional maneuver in the UK has people over there a little stirred up.
Prorogation, which suspends parliament from sitting in a period it might otherwise be expected to sit, is an accepted right of a sitting government. But it has never been applied in a manner such as this: as a means of denying parliamentary action opposed by the government. Johnson denies that this is his intent, but few believe him.

By sending members of parliament back to their constituencies in early September and then returning them on Oct. 14th, Johnson has significantly shortened the time they will have to pass legislative alternatives to his Brexit plan. With a final European Council meeting scheduled for Oct. 17th, unless an emergency follow up meeting is held, European leaders will have to accept Johnson's proposals to avoid a no-deal Brexit, or else accept a no-deal Brexit as is.
Good luck, says I.

'Fastest Woman On Four Wheels' Killed in Land Speed Record Attempt

I don't follow the sport and had never heard of her, but she was apparently something else. Her shakedown run went over 483 miles per hour.

The first absolute land speed record, in case you were curious, was a bit over 39 miles an hour. Things have changed since 1894.

Rest in peace, brave lady.

Gillette: You Know What's Awsome? Traditional Masculinity.

Ride the Rotating Earth

Freezing the position of the Milky Way yields interesting results.

Of Course, Of Course

Footage from the camera outside Epstein's cell is "unusable."

Trump "proposal" to nuke hurricanes is "racist."

Performatively pious Congressperson turns out to be a hypocrite who doesn't want to discuss 'personal life.'

Well, these things are just to be expected.

Nine Diabolic Questions

I found another of Tex's crew. It's not a bad piece, especially once the questions are answered.

Fake News Today

MS: "List: Lines from The Princess Bride that Double as Comments on Freshman Composition Papers."

BB: "Bernie Sanders Arrives In Hong Kong To Lecture Protesters On How Good They Have It Under Communism."

DB: "Guam Finally Capsizes."

TO: "School Administration Reminds Female Students Bulletproof Vests Must Cover Midriff."

Cf. this video:

As The Onion reminds us, there's some female agency involved in all this.

Would You Describe This "Problem" As Sort Of Like A "Burden"?

Headline: "Biden: Racism in US is institutional, ‘white man’s problem’"

Ordo Militaris

Via Douglas, a Catholic 'private military company' with Crusader themes. In principle, the idea of forming an order of knighthood to combat the extensive persecution of Christians worldwide right now seems reasonable to me; and incorporating as a private entity seems rational given that the Church is currently disinclined (especially the Pope!) to anything remotely resembling a real fighting order. Whether or not this particular organization has anything like the capacity to accomplish those goals is not known to me.

They do have a holy rule, which makes them similar to numerous orders of knighthood established during the Crusader period and the period of the Reconquista. Two points that refer to secular realities strike me: that those who held military rank should serve in the Order with the same rank they held in the secular military service; and that those who are wealthy enough to provide their own expenses shall enjoy greater honor than those who depend on the Order to pay their way and/or their salary. Those are the sorts of practicalities that historically bedeviled religious orders, a kind of recognition that the nobility and the wealthy aren't quite prepared to surrender all of their privileges in order to follow God. But the verse says 'if you want to be perfect,' which is more than most of us even want.

Related to our recent discussion, it looks as if they have a Twitter account that was mysteriously temporarily deleted during a Congressional hearing relevant to them.

I'll open the floor to discussion, both of the idea in general and the particular example.

Viking Themed Crosswalk Lights

Via our old friend DL Sly, a whimsical story.

Social Media Building Chinese-Style "Social Credit" System

Well, of course they are. They helped build China's.
Crimes are punished outside the legal system, which means no presumption of innocence, no legal representation, no judge, no jury, and often no appeal. In other words, it’s an alternative legal system where the accused have fewer rights.

Social credit systems are an end-run around the pesky complications of the legal system. Unlike China’s government policy, the social credit system emerging in the U.S. is enforced by private companies. If the public objects to how these laws are enforced, it can’t elect new rule-makers.

An increasing number of societal “privileges” related to transportation, accommodations, communications, and the rates we pay for services (like insurance) are either controlled by technology companies or affected by how we use technology services. And Silicon Valley’s rules for being allowed to use their services are getting stricter.

If current trends hold, it’s possible that in the future a majority of misdemeanors and even some felonies will be punished not by Washington, D.C., but by Silicon Valley. It’s a slippery slope away from democracy and toward corporatocracy.

In other words, in the future, law enforcement may be determined less by the Constitution and legal code, and more by end-user license agreements.
One way of controlling this is to have the government insist that Americans' rights be in no way limited by corporations, and to establish protections that would void any "license agreement" that abridged such rights. That, however, depends on the government being a limit on corporations rather than aligning with them. The alignment of corporate and government power is quite likely, given the resources corporations have, and the benefit to overweening politicians of being able to have a compliant corporation enforce limits on the citizenry that the Constitution would not allow.

Victims of Journalism

Journalists, of course.
“...using journalistic techniques to target journalists and news organizations as retribution for — or as a warning not to pursue — coverage critical of the president is fundamentally different from the well-established role of the news media in scrutinizing people in positions of power,” wrote reporters Jeremy Peters and Kenneth Vogel.

Appalachian Orpheus

Anna and Elizabeth are the two women in the "Old Churchyard" video.  Besides singing, they make these hand-cranked cartoons and puppet shows.  Their art is a river of life.

The Orpheus legend is very old.  His music is so beautiful that the rocks and trees dance around him, and he can raise the dead, but he arouses the jealousy of the gods.  Like most stories about the war between life and death, it comes in versions with both sad and happy endings.  One of the modern versions, "Black Orpheus," has both: