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.


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.


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.