Real freedom means letting the right people call the shots

Free speech is killing us.

I would have linked to the NYT version, but I'm allergic to their site.  I thought you might enjoy the Babylon Bee version more, anyway.

Getting a handle on the numbers

A Streiff article at RedState charts the average compensation for outside directors at the world's largest oil and gas companies.
Burisma is not quite 1/4 the size of the smallest company on this list. The group of smallest companies pays between $285-$330,000 per year for a non-employee director. Hunter Biden was paid $600,000 (at least) for being a board member of a company whose language he did not speak, whose home country he’d never lived in, and which was in an industry about which Hunter Biden was pig-ignorant.... [N]on-employee directors were paid in a combination of cash and stock, often as much as 60% stock. Biden was paid in 100% cash. 

Permit this, forbid that

Since what's permitted and what's forbidden shows no persuasive pattern of effects that actually improve anything, I'm assuming it's largely the Leninist game of who/whom.  James Lileks does a scorching job on crazy California approaches to the kind of social calamities we couldn't possibly interfere with lest we become callous tyrants, versus virtue-signaling bans on every kind of peripheral nonsense you can imagine.
[T]he real issue is the lack of “affordable housing,” by which they mean housing that can be secured by someone with no means of support who is incapable of holding a job, or spends all their money on intoxicants. Since they have no homes with flush toilets, they use the streets. Good liberals with “Resist!” bumperstickers sulk over stories about typhus-ridden fecal deposits, and wish the one-party government would Do Something. Otherwise they will vote out the ideologically interchangeable politicians and put in some other ideologically interchangeable politicians.
In a similar vein, "But Panera cares."


Amazon is working on a new Tolkien-themed show. Naturally, the demands for a female Gandalf have begun to crop up.

Carrying the water, drinking the water

Glen Reynolds writes on the origin and destiny of the Tea Party.

This week's issue in my county is a desalination plant that's going through the state permit process in nearby Corpus Christi.  There are a few genuinely thorny issues about how to site the plant, but much of the public commentary is starting to sound to me like Reynolds's contrast between makers and takers.  People seem to have no idea where the things they consume come from.  The trees that were felled to make a site for their own home years ago mean nothing, but the next guy is a criminal for altering a pristine landscape to build something new on land his hyper-virtuous neighbors couldn't be bother to buy and keep as a preserve on their own nickel.  Their drinking water comes from an RO plant that treats brackish groundwater, but no evil corporation should be able to build a desalination facility to serve a new industry, though it relies on exactly the same RO technology.  Where do these people send their wastewater?  They neither know nor care.  The other guy's waste is always the issue.

Outdoor Life Reviews

A fellow who says he'd like to be called JRS wrote to ask to have his blog linked, which I've done under 'Other Halls.' It's not a traditional blog, actually, but a website that collects his reviews of various things related to outdoor life. I looked over his knife reviews and they seemed well-ordered. Likely the others are as well, but judge for yourselves.

Flashback to the Old Hall

Continuing the recent tradition in which only the satirical news makes any real sense, "Nation Longs For More Civilized Age When Politicians Settled Disputes With Pistols."

That was an issue when Grim's Hall was young, way back in 2004. The Honorable Zell Miller had expressed regret that duels were no longer legal, which the media -- then as now dishonest -- chose to interpret as him having challenged a man to a duel.
There really is something to be said for a return to duelling [s.i.c. -- apparently in 2004 I didn't know how to spell a word I had nevertheless used many times. -Grim]. Even the reminder of the institution, though, is clarifying. Consider the "Go to Hell, Zell," John Kerry Infant creeper, for those who think that American life isn't sufficiently profane for children. This shirt allows those of a particularly cowardly persuasion to express obscenity without fear of retribution. No reasonable person would take the baby to task (the baby would be just as happy if the creeper said "Vote Bush, 2004," or said nothing and was decorated only with carrot stains). No decent man would engage the parent in front of the child, as anyone bent out of shape enough to dress an infant in such garb would surely cause a scene upsetting to the innocent....

The image of the crossed pistols reminds us that men used to take responsibility for their words -- that the things they said were things they would risk death to defend....

How many times have I had to hear people toss around the words "lie!" or "liar!" in this election? It seems to be the very first line of defense, when anyone says anything you'd rather not believe. Not only do these people hide behind children, they sound like children. They spit deadly insults freely, knowing that they can never be called to account.

The end of the duel may have brought some good effects, but it has also ended the culture of responsibility that went with it. No one is called to account for their slander. That John Kerry of the VVAW is a candidate for the highest office in the land says this as truly as anything.

I'm with Zell. It is a shame that duels are no longer legal. Duels were private wars, and like wars they could be just. Like wars, for all the harm they did, they often did more good. In a world fallen from hope of perfection, that may be the best you can ask.
Like all of us, I was 15 years younger when I wrote that. I am sure I was hotter of head in those days, but I believe the younger Grim was right. "Liar! Liar!" has been replaced with "Traitor! Traitor!," and the hiding behind children is as prominent a feature today as then.

We should return to the duel. It would restore some manners around here, and drive the loud-mouthed cowards out of the places of power and authority they have so long now occupied.

BB-Snopes Feud Continues

Headline: "Snopes Rates the Devil's Lies as 'Mostly True.'"
Satan claimed that eating a particular fruit would not cause anyone to die, but would instead grant them an improved understanding of moral issues. According to Snopes’ assessment, while consuming the fruit has been followed by billions and billions of deaths, those casualties were more of an indirect result, while the part about gaining knowledge of good and evil was generally accurate. They also checked all the lies Satan told Jesus while He was being tempted in the desert and pointed out that he did quote Scripture, albeit out of context, earning the Prince of Darkness another "Mostly True" rating.

From the Duffel

US Army to drop ‘US’ from name over past links to slavery

Acting Secretary of Army Ryan McCarthy told reporters that former NFL quarterback and Army historian Colin Kaepernick had recently found countless examples of troubling behavior engaged in by the United States, including racism, slavery, genocide, and inappropriate touching.

“After examining the evidence presented by Mister Kaepernick, we decided we cannot ask our soldiers of color to wear the name of a country which enslaved their ancestors or tell our LGBTTQQIAAP service members to display the flag of the place which enacted Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” McCarthy said.

Kaepernick is currently leading another internal Army investigation over historical links between the United States and a white supremacist group called The Confederate States of America.

Mom Of Four Goes To SERE School, Gets Amazing Sleep

That Doesn't Make Any Sense

The Sage of Knoxville runs some speculation on what's going on with this Ukraine business.
“Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire,” read the headline on the article by Kenneth P. Vogel and David Stern. “Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton,” said the subhead of the article, which was published shortly before Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

The authors reported that Ukrainian government officials “helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers” with the goal of “advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.”

With the benefit of hindsight and the results of the Mueller investigation, it’s now clear that there was no evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia. What is not clear and what demands further investigation is how this baseless claim managed to consume the first two years of an American presidency.
We need to get to the bottom of this — and the fear that we will is why the Democrats and their press enablers are getting so crazy.
If all the bodies are buried in Ukraine, why would they be impeaching Trump on a Ukraine question? Why not pick anything else, since apparently the facts aren't that important to the question of whether or not to impeach -- after all, Pelosi didn't want to wait one day for the transcript before announcing the launch of her inquiry. Impeach him on emoluments, let everyone argue about whether foreign diplomats electing to stay in his hotel provides some kind of illicit bribery. For goodness sake, don't lead the media's gaze over to Ukraine. Americans are pretty insular, and won't look at faraway nations with foreign languages if you don't make them look.

Yet they clearly chose to do so, and went to some trouble to do it.

Youths who need to turn their lives around

Minneapolis's city council openly blames police for any street violence that might be said to discourage taxpayers from coming downtown to spend money.
Even in the wake of the most recent homicides and other violent incidents, City Council members are clinging to their leftist illusions. Thus, one Council member says the Council is trying to do “a better job with our youth violence intervention strategies to support the youth who are in the downtown area between 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.” I don’t think most residents believe the problem is that criminals who are wandering the streets in the middle of the night lack “support.”
And they'll probably want federal tax money support when their downtown sports arenas fail because all those terrible racists refuses to drive in from the suburbs any more.

I worked with a woman who was sexually abused in youth by her brother.  Years later she summoned up the courage to upbraid her mother for turning a blind eye.  "Oh, that's awful," her mother agreed.  "I wish I had known about it at the time.  I could have gotten help for your brother."

No room for you in me

Gary Saul Morson is at it again, elucidating the peculiar evil that is Leninism. In a new essay, he notes that terrorist totalitarianism were not necessary evils to Lenin but laudable goals in their own right. He often punished underlings for coming up short in the article of ruthlessness. He held that all morals qualms must be eliminated in favor of effective force in aid of universal compliance. Though his soviet empire was toppled, the habit of thought endures:
The same logic applied to rights. On paper, the Soviet Constitution of 1936 guaranteed more rights than any other state in the world. I recall a Soviet citizen telling me that people in the ussr had absolute freedom of speech—so long as they did not lie. I recalled this curious concept of freedom when a student defended complete freedom of speech except for hate speech—and hate speech included anything he disagreed with. Whatever did not seem hateful was actually a “dog-whistle.”
I'm proofing a collection of arguments between Roger Williams and Cotton Mather from the early 17th century. Williams asserts that it's wrong to force a man's conscience. Mather replies serenely that he agrees, unless the erring citizen persists in error after repeated expostulations, at which point he is sinning against his own conscience and is fair game for torture and murder.

The eternal task of civilization is to find a way to honor other people's freedom without signing one's own death warrant. Lenin wasn't interested in any of that. As Maxim Gorky quipped, "Lenin 'in general' loved people but . . . his love looked far ahead, through the mists of hatred." He much preferred dead people to free ones, not just because they were safer but because they weren't entirely under his thumb:  because they were not himself. It's as if he were literally Milton's Satan. And he, of course, is what lies ahead for us whenever we can't bear making room in the world for anything but ourselves.
Recently Attorney General William Barr asked how his critics would have reacted had the FBI secretly interfered with the Obama campaign: “What if the shoe were on the other foot?” From a Leninist perspective, this question demonstrates befuddlement. In his book Terrorism and Communism, Trotsky imagines “the high priests of liberalism” asking how Bolshevik use of arbitrary power differs from tsarist practices. Trotsky sneers:
You do not understand this, holy men? We shall explain it to you. The terror of Tsarism was directed against the proletariat. . . . Our Extraordinary Commissions shoot landlords, capitalists, and generals . . . . Do you grasp this—distinction? For us Communists it is quite sufficient.
What is reprehensible for them is proper for us, and that’s all there is to it. For a Leninist, the shoe is never on the other foot because he has no other foot.