Rolled Turkey

We've eaten a lot of turkey over the years, so much so that it's not an exciting meal even on Thanksgiving. In lean years we'd buy frozen turkeys after Christmas, when the price would hit annual lows, and store twelve or fourteen of them in our big freezer. That works out to about one a month, and turkeys take a while to eat, so at this point I'm not generally fired up to have turkey ever at all.

So I'm going to try something very different this year. Here's a French fellow explaining the concept with a chicken, but it'll work on a turkey too.

With an interesting stuffing and some decent spices, that might make for something a little less dull than another roast turkey.

America, Republic and Empire

Quite a remarkable piece of thought-provoking writing. Dr. Codevilla, for those of you who know his work.

John Soloman Again

Tex mentioned him the other day. He's no longer employed by any reputable journalistic outlet as far as I can tell, and The Hill is 'reviewing' his earlier reports. In these intensely partisan times, that could mean that he's been publishing accurate information that defies the media's preferred narrative and that of their political allies; it could also mean that he's violated standards in a way that should be a serious concern to readers. I'm not sure which is the case, or if it's a mixture of both.

In any case, he has a blog now. If you're interested in his side of the story, that's where you can find it.

The NYT Against Impeachment

Not the NYT itself, not as a corporate body, but they did publish an opinion piece against it. Good for them: it's more than I expected. It's a pretty good piece.
Mr. Trump’s opponents treat norms as if they were laws. But Mr. Trump openly campaigned in 2016 as someone who would rescind the nonlegal norms of American politics. He said he would “drain the swamp.” Washington’s traditional way of doing business, the legal but corrupt trade in money and influence, was something he was elected to attack. He has only contributed to the problem in the eyes of his critics, but for supporters the goal remains the same.

Mr. Trump was also elected to transform America’s foreign relations. The nation’s leadership in both parties and the Civil Service had embroiled the country in endless wars and a string of humiliations. That Mr. Trump considers officials serving in places like Ukraine to be part of the problem he was elected to solve is no secret. The testimony such officials have so far offered during impeachment hearings bears him out: Their view of American objectives is different from his....

Testimony at this week’s impeachment hearings from Gordon Sondland and other witnesses only underscores the point: President Trump believed it was right to call for Ukraine’s new president, elected on an anti-corruption agenda, to dig into and make public the links between his country, its government, its oligarchs and oil companies, and American political figures like the Bidens. The questions he was pursuing were bigger than the 2020 election.
If the investigations he was pursuing were reasonably indicated by the facts, it's not wrong to have asked for them even if it also benefits him politically (and then only in theory, contingent on the increasingly-unlikely success of Joe Biden in becoming his opponent). All of the witnesses this week agreed that the Hunter Biden matter created at least an appearance of conflict of interest; given Joe Biden's position as a high public official, and the direct relationship between himself and firing the man prosecuting his son's company, that seems correct. If there is a clear appearance of a conflict of interest, what could be more proper than to ask for it to be investigated to clear up whether there was wrongdoing? We have a treaty with Ukraine governing just that kind of investigation, one that was signed by Bill Clinton and that Joe Biden himself voted to ratify.

I hear Fiona Hill loud and clear when she says she was angry when she discovered that the President had set up a parallel process to her own integrated, complex interagency process -- one that was operating without coordinating with them and pursuing goals she and others in the interagency thought unwise and even against American interests. I can understand how that would make you angry. In Iraq once we found out accidentally that Division had sent a guy who reported directly to the Commanding General to meddle in a matter likely to produce violence in our AO, without anyone telling us or warning us. Of course we were understandably angry about that, and the complaint is a rational one -- in our case, it put our lives and our people's lives at risk, just through a lack of coordination. Anger is a reasonable response in such a case.

Nobody thought, though, that the Commanding General should be relieved over it. Clearly he had authority to do it. Clearly here, too, the President has authority to override the interagency, or even just to ignore the interagency. The chain of command does not place the consensus of the bureaucracies over the elected president. As the author of this piece says, too, this particular president was elected precisely on the argument that the bureaucracies needed to be drained of influence. That's what he said he was going to do if elected, and he was -- like it or not, and many of us would have preferred someone else, in my case Jim Webb. Our preferred candidates made arguments too, and they didn't win.

UPDATE: The Nation also publishes an article against.

The Mysterious Case of Carter Page

One of the shoes we've been waiting to see drop in the "Russia Russia Russia!" case was that of Carter Page, the guy against whom the FISA warrant was actually issued. What's been quite mysterious about his case is the complete lack of charges brought against him for anything at all. The government convinced the FISC that he was dangerous enough to require a robust intelligence collection effort, which allowed them to intercept every communication he had with anyone, and all of their communications as well. The Mueller team prosecuted crimes aggressively, whether or not they were actually related to Russia -- indeed, the folks who went to jail all went down for something else.

So why was Carter Page never charged with anything? Surely, in collecting all of his communications, they must have found something? Surely they'd charge him with anything at all to justify the collection effort, rather than leave it looking as if the very collection effort hadn't proven justified by the facts?

Now we get some evidence for the first time about what's been going on with him.
Horowitz reportedly found that the FBI employee who modified the FISA document falsely stated that he had "documentation to back up a claim he had made in discussions with the Justice Department about the factual basis" for the FISA warrant application, the Post reported. Then, the FBI employee allegedly "altered an email" to substantiate his inaccurate version of events. The employee has since been forced out of the bureau.

In its initial 2016 FISA warrant application, the FBI flatly called Page "an agent of a foreign power."

Sources told Fox News last month that U.S. Attorney John Durham's separate, ongoing probe into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct in the run-up to the 2016 election through the spring of 2017 has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation -- and that Horowitz's report will shed light on why Durham's probe has become a criminal inquiry.
This will be interesting.

Boys Need Fathers

Two pieces on the same subject, both by women. One of them is by Shireen Qudosi, who works on counter-extremism projects and thus naturally connects the issue to that of the mass killing problem. Some of you mentioned lack of fathers in the comments to that post, so here's some additional support for your ideas. (Here's more.)

The second is from Belinda Brown in the UK. I'm not very convinced by some of her evidence about the difference between boys and girls -- if girls 'don't want any conflict' and 'try to be equals' and 'forget who won' in conflicts between themselves, I've never noticed it, but I have noticed girls forming intense friendships that fall apart and never recover over internal conflicts. I've also noticed girls forming larger cliques with rigid hierarchies. Although actually her structure is ambiguous enough that I'm not sure if she means 'girls' or 'female chimpanzees' in that section, so perhaps it holds for chimps. In any case, her real topic is boys, and what she says there is more interesting.

Both of the pieces reference mythic-language books about the meaning of manhood, both of which have the word "Warrior" in the title. My sense is that it is society's attempts to get rid of the warrior aspects that is causing a lot of the problems for boys and men; perhaps it lies at the back of the whole of the problem.

"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, 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.


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.