A Forest in Romania

If I ever get out there, I’ll want to visit this place.

Worst Putin stooge ever

Don Surber tries to understand the received wisdom:
Having endured 3 years of this conspiracy theory by the tinfoil-hatted mainstream pundits, I am left with 10 questions.
Why did Putin want to Make America Great Again?
Why did Putin want America to rollback unnecessary regulations?
Why did Putin want Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, and 50 new conservative judges on America's appellate courts?
Why did Putin want our personal income and corporate tax rates cut?
Why did Putin want our unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%?
Why did Putin want us to become a net exporter of oil for the first time in 70 years?
Why did Putin want us to replace our broken fences with a 30-foot wall along the Mexican border?
Why did Putin want us to renegotiate trade deals, and to walk away from TPP and the Paris Climate Thingamabob?
Why did Putin want us to move our embassy to Jerusalem?
And lastly, why did Putin want us to impose more economic sanctions on Russia?
I am beginning to think that President Trump is as big a failure at being a puppet as he is a failure at being Hitler.

Don't call my bluff

I didn't see this tactic coming:
Senate Democrats are quietly talking about asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to hold articles of impeachment in the House until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agrees to a fair rules package for a Senate trial.
Senate Democrats explained that this is their only chance to exert leverage over Mitch McConnell, who has his caucus completely lined up and won't need to get the consent of any intransigent Dems to whatever trial procedure he chooses to jam through on short notice.

Senate Dems to McConnell:  "Why, if you don't promise to make the Senate impeachment trial procedure less of a kangaroo court than we just inflicted on the country in the House, we'll . . . we'll . . . we'll get our House Dem colleagues to refuse to approve the articles of impeachment in the full House vote, that's what we'll do. Then where will you be?"

Situations like this make me think of the old joke about the missionaries being fattened up for the cannibal pot.  Told that their skins will be used to make canoes, one of them grabs a fork, pierces his arms and legs repeatedly, and yells "I'll fix your darn canoe!"

On the other hand, if Pelosi were looking for an excuse for a mercy killing for the articles of impeachment . . . .  But nah.  For all the talk about not whipping the vote, she must know what a disaster a down-vote in the full House would be.  They'd be lining up to use that new 988 number.  At least if this absurd business goes to trial, they can blame their loss on the Republican trial procedure, and in that light, the more rushed and unfair the better.  After all, the Dems' holding the initial investigation in a darkened dungeon did immeasurable good for the President.


Common Military Terminology Explained

Language warning.

House Judiciary Committee Approves 2 Articles of Impeachment

According to USA Today:

WASHINGTON – For the third time U.S. history, the House of Representatives will vote on the impeachment of a president after the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Friday.

The committee voted along party lines to approve both impeachment articles following a marathon hearing that went late into Thursday evening.

The articles – one on President Donald Trump's alleged abuse of power and the other on obstruction of Congress during the impeachment inquiry -- were both approved in separate votes by a 23-17 margin with Democrats for and Republicans against.

What are your predictions? I think the House Democrats will make the vote on the best day for their primaries to make the best political use of something they know will fail in the Senate, and they will impeach on a party-line vote. But I'm sleep-deprived at the moment, so you shouldn't listen to me.

How about you? What do you think will happen next?

Witness protection

Now it's not enough to leave California, you have to change your identity and avoid ever doing business with anyone there again.


One of the most fun parts of a blowout conservative election is the editorial scrambling and the losers' bitter explanations for their failure.  Yesterday brought us the priceless "We won the argument, if not the election," which has to be up there with "I can't imagine how he got elected, no one I know voted for him."

There's also the 2016 Krugman Pronouncement:  this unexpected trouncing of my allies spells doom for the economy.  We may never recover.  Last week's UK editorials had largely given up on Labor's victory, so they spent a lot of time worrying that the Conservatives wouldn't command a convincing majority.  Maybe they would try and fail to cobble together a coalition.

CNBC worried earlier this week that the pound wouldn't fully recover from damaged inflicted by the recent parliamentary stalemate.  Ink was lavished over the danger that businesses wouldn't invest in an atmosphere of uncertainty over their beloved EU.  Interested readers of that CNBC analysis may glance at the bottom of the page and find today's update:  sterling surges on historic BoJo win.  The author can't help speculating, though, on how this stunning turn of events might still give a little hope that the Brexit stalemate could still drag itself along by its fingernails:
The analyst added that if a big majority over all other parties is realized then Johnson may now have the scope to “ignore the Brexiteers in his party and provide businesses with some certainty by quickly extending the transition period.”
I'm sure that's what the surging sterling tells us about what business investors--and voters--want to see: a further extended "transition" period.  The whole thing has simply been too rushed and abrupt.  On the other hand, from Johnson's victory speech this morning:
"And with this mandate and this majority we will at last be able to do what?" (Crowd shouts "Get Brexit done".)
By the way, all 18 Brexit defectors lost their seats. There's a convincing mandate for delay for you.

Meanwhile, the execrable anti-semite Communist Corbyn says he will resign, but not right away.  Certainly before the next election, but he's taking some time for "reflection."  Not to be outdone, everyone's favorite spybuster, Christopher Steele, announces that BoJo is a Russian asset.  As Sarah Hoyt says, in the future we'll all be Russian spies for 15 minutes.


The voters have reinforced the government’s clarity over in the UK. Good for them — the chaos will be over, at least. The Resistance was firmly defeated.

Scotland may go independent, and Ireland may unify at long last. A general victory for many good causes.

Just for Fun: A British Vocal Coach Reacts to the Hu

It has the Hu, Tolkein comparisons, and a bubbly young London voice coach reacting to hearing Mongolian throat singing for the first time. Enjoy!

Or, you know, skip it if you're not in to bubbly.

Update: I think English translations have been added to all of the Hu's official videos. Interesting stuff.

A Lot Hangs

Virginia’s New Democratic government will be a lesson to the nation. Which lesson they choose to teach will be one of the major determinants of how 2020 breaks in purple states.


Andy McCarthy on the unwillingness to draw obvious conclusions:  We may never know the motive of those people in the FBI.

A followup from another Powerline post:
Consider one example of the misconduct Horowitz identified. An FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, obtained information that Carter Page, the subject of a FISA order, had gathered intelligence about Russia for that agency and was reliable — a fact that would cut against the notion that Page was working for the Russians. Clinesmith doctored the email conveying this information. He inserted the words “not a source,” even though he had been told that Page was a source.
Clinesmith then passed the doctored email on to the FBI agent who was assigned to affirm under oath the FBI’s allegations to the FISA court. That agent had told Clinesmith that he wanted “a definitive answer to whether Page had ever been a source for another U.S. government agency before he signed the final renewal application.” By doctoring the email, Clinesmith definitively gave the agent an answer he knew was wrong.
We know from direct evidence that Clinesmith was aligned with the resistance to Trump. However, even without that direct evidence, one should conclude, absent a satisfactory explanation for the doctoring, that Clinesmith doctored it intentionally and for a bad motive. Even without direct evidence of bias, one should conclude that Clinesmith was out to get Trump.
These are good points, highlighting the problem of how to address the shocking failures in the FBI and DOJ in the FISA warrant abuse uncovered in Crossfire Hurricane. Were the failures incompetent, or corrupt? That determination makes a difference in how you might craft reform measures.

Incompetence is something fairly easily addressed in performance reviews involving a record of success and a record of violations of policies that have been demonstrated to result in success without injustice or scandal in past investigations. Corruption might instead entail discovering whether someone's otherwise inexplicable mix of failures and successes in achieving law enforcement goals that held up on appeal corresponded with a pattern of various illicit motives. Was the agent taking bribes? Was he a victim of extortion? Was he a political operative? Was he an agent of a foreign power?  Was he merely ambitious, unprincipled, and willing to do whatever his superiors wanted?--in which case the inquiry shifts to the motives of the superiors.  Right up the chain of command.

We can't always roll our eyes and say we can never look into another person's soul and determine a motives with certainty.  A glaring pattern of failures may be exactly what points us to criminal violations.

They've never heard of it either

The Bee:  Trump's popularity surges as nation discovers he obstructed Congress.

The Interdependence of Nature and Nurture

This topic comes up regularly at the Hall, so I've been looking into it. As far as I can tell, the common view among geneticists, psychologists, evolutionary biologists, etc., seems to be that nature and nurture are interdependent.

In fact, what you do or what happens to you can change your genes or change how they influence you. Smoking damages your genes, for example. Children who grow up in isolation, denied any socialization, will effectively have very low IQs, for another.

The following "Lost Lectures" discussion by Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics Steve Jones explains this reasonably well, I think.

We also know that which groups of genes become active can depend entirely on the environment the organism exists in, including the social environment.

Here's a TED Talk by neuroscientist Gene Robinson about his research on bees, genetics, and social environment that discusses this.

My current hypothesis is that the free will vs. determinism debate will play out the same way. To paraphrase Forrest Gump's conclusion on this matter, maybe it's both, happening at the same time. But, I would shape that a little by saying, maybe it's both, interacting with each other continuously.

If you're interested, here's another TED Talk by human evolutionary biologist Irene Gallego Romero. She has further interesting examples, but this is mostly a reiteration of the two above.

A Small Matter

Rep. Mark Meadows -- my Congressman, as it happens -- notes an interesting exchange in the Horowitz hearing:
Cruz: “A lawyer at the FBI creates fraudulent evidence, alters an email that is in turn used as the basis for a sworn statement to the court that the court relies on. Am I stating that accurately?"

Horowitz: "That's correct. That's what occurred"
That's kind of a problem.

NAS Pilots: Arm Us

You're planning to trust them with F-18s, why not a 9mm?

Realization dawns

I'm starting to conclude that Adam Schiff has been lying about, well, everything, all along.  As in practically every word out of his mouth, for years now.  Not just judgment calls, but bright-line facts.

Not Everyone Has Classification Authority

As PJ Media helpfully points out -- Schiff is claiming to have classified some House Intelligence memoranda. Under what authority would he be doing that? There's a complete list of people with original classification authority here. They're all Executive Branch. Who delegated authority to a Congressman?

Did anyone?

A Reason(able) Assumption

On the Horowitz findings:
The FBI investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia was not politically motivated, but agents involved in the probe made significant and appalling mistakes.

These mistakes should terrify all Americans....

The IG report is a wakeup call: for Republicans who foolishly claimed the FBI's secretive spying process was necessary and unthreatening, for anti-Trump media pundits who uncritically parroted the talking points of top officials, and for any Americans who still think it is worth trading away their liberties. If government agents were this sloppy during a politically charged investigation that they knew would put their entire apparatus under the spotlight, it's safe to assume their normal conduct is even worse.
"Mistakes" is a bit generous, I think. We may see the actions otherwise characterized when the criminal investigation into them comes due.

Fatal Eruption Without Warning in NZ

Five are confirmed dead and several more are missing after a sudden volcanic eruption at a tourist destination on White Island, New Zealand.

Tell Me Another One

Headline: “ Judge Discovers Gun Safety Groups Don’t Offer Gun Safety Classes.”

It’s the “War Games” school of gun safety: the only winning move is not to play.

The stuff I predicted just hasn't happened yet

Hey, it works for climatistas.  The Manhattan Contrarian, noting with dismay the Democrat assumption that government spending is economically expansionary, takes on an economist whose career was marked by nothing more strongly than the failure of every prediction he ever made.  But his equations were great.
"When this war [World War II] comes to an end, more than one out of every two workers will depend directly or indirectly upon military orders. We shall have some 10 million service men to throw on the labor market. We shall have to face a difficult reconversion period during which current goods cannot be produced and layoffs may be great. Nor will the technical necessity for reconversion necessarily generate much investment outlay in the critical period under discussion whatever its later potentialities. The final conclusion to be drawn from our experience at the end of the last war is inescapable--were the war to end suddenly within the next 6 months, were we again planning to wind up our war effort in the greatest haste, to demobilize our armed forces, to liquidate price controls, to shift from astronomical deficits to even the large deficits of the thirties--then there would be ushered in the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced.”
In fact, after the war, government spending fell 61%, and the result was an economic boom. Economist David Henderson calls Samuelson’s prediction of a post-war depression the single most disastrously wrong economic prediction ever.

FISA Courts and Judicial Deference

I'm far from the only one who objects to these Star Chamber FISA Courts. So does Angelo Codevilla, of whom some of you have heard.  His piece also provides an interesting bit of history regarding FISA.

Repealing FISA will not fix the problems it has caused, but it would stop making them worse.

Certainly, but it also doesn't go far enough.

Repealing FISA needs to repeal, explicitly, and in its own section of the Act of Repeal, the FISA Courts, if only for the sake of public psychology and assurance.

But that's not enough, either; there needs to be a precedential correction, and that will require a cultural change in the society of personnel populating our Article III judicial system.

Judicial deference--that system wherein judges meekly surrender their Constitutional position as a coequal branch of our Federal government and explicitly subordinate themselves to another coequal branch, and worse, to the several subordinate formations of that coequal branch--must come to an end.  (Judicial deference, by that abrogation of coequality, is itself unconstitutional, but that's for a separate writing.)  Travesties like Chevron Deference and all of its several variations--every single one of them--need to be reversed. Not tweaked, like Brown did with Plessy, but reversed. Done away with. Bluntly and pithily; only a sentence or two would be necessary.  Reversal of those precedents are the beginnings of the necessary precedential correction.  The act of reversal, with the necessary plain language, would be the beginning of the necessary cultural change.  This may be beginning in other matters regarding other liberties, but the move needs to broaden and the pace quicken.

Pre-authorize surveillance by the Executive Branch? We already have that mechanism: the 4th Amendment. Within that, our Article III courts already have mechanisms for keeping Warrants and subpoenas secret until the police powers are ready to execute them--right down to no-knock warrants (of some practical utility but questionable constitutionality). Our Article III courts already have mechanisms for conducting secret hearings and sealing records so long, and for as long, as all parties to a case agree to the secrecy.

Eric Hines

The news we hear

Can you remember the stories that most caught your attention throughout 2019?  Looking at this list, I'm drawing some blanks.  I had to Google it to remind myself how upset everyone got over Trump's suggestion that the Squad might want to consider living in some other country they don't hate as much as this one.

Progressives and conservatives both reliably paid attention to Dorian's devastating landfall in the Bahamas, and (to my surprise) they both put the "national emergency at the Mexican border" in second place in their remembered attention.  I couldn't even remember which national emergency that was.

After that, the Jussie Smollett "fake news" story captured a lot of attention on both sides of the aisle, as did the somewhat related "you can't believe anything the powers-that-be tell you" story of Epstein's death.

Right-leaning Americans remember a lot about a state-of-the-union address that left-leaners tuned out completely, focussing instead on various shootings and Trump's attacks on John McCain.  The right noticed the shootings, but less urgently, and tuned out the McCain furor completely.

Both sides noticed the Varsity Blues controversy; I remembered it, too, but had forgotten that the college-admission fraud cases were popularly called that after a TV show of the same name, which I had never heard of before this happened.

Below all these stories in the attention cascade on both sides came the scintillating impeachment story. Kind of amazing, considering it's not even over yet, and already a yawner.  Yeah, yeah, you're finally impeaching him, let us know when Nancy Pelosi puts on an orange robe and lights herself on fire on the capital steps.

There was a government shutdown in there somewhere. I'd already forgotten about it, but partisans on both sides noticed it about equally, more or less at the same rate that they noticed state abortion restrictions, which I did remember.

After that, on the left, people noticed that Biden was in the race, while people on the right noticed that Biden was always sniffing women and children's hair. There were some Mexican tariff threats. Michael Cohen testified before someone or other and said something.

Somewhere in this middle-lower tier, people on the right noticed that Mueller issued a report, but it fell off the radar on the left.  For comparison, in my husband's and my life, the Mueller report probably tops the list, followed by the attempted use of the Ukraine phone call to defibrillate the clinically dead Russia hoax story, perhaps followed by the outstanding economic news.

When you've lost Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone has demonstrated its willingness to print nearly anything, but even Matt Taibbi can't swallow this week's raft of relieved MSM pronouncements that the IG report validated their worldviews:
No matter what people think the political meaning of the Horowitz report might be, reporters who read it will know: Anybody who touched this [Russia hoax] nonsense in print should be embarrassed.

The wrong kind of why

Don't get me wrong, I like scientists to go around asking "why."  But if they're to be successful scientists, they have to development an instinct for the most productive why-questions.  This isn't one:
To provide an example of the role that white empiricism plays in physics, I discuss the current debate in string theory about postempiricism, motivated in part by a question: why are string theorists calling for an end to empiricism rather than an end to racial hegemony?
As Powerline says, it's hard to see this as anything but an embarrassing excuse for an unsuccessful career.

Is This a Blow to Determinism?

This is a story that's interesting enough in itself, but the ramifications philosophically are quite profound. A man who had a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia now carries *only* the DNA of his donor within his sperm cells.  Recent decades since the discovery of DNA has seen an understanding of it grow up that it contains the plans for making us who we are- a pretty deterministic model if taken at face value.  But how much of us is determined (or at least influenced) by DNA and how much goes beyond that- either as 'nurture' or something metaphysical?  It would have really gotten interesting if he'd had children after treatment, but that's no longer possible as he's had a vasectomy after his second child.  This case will certainly create more questions than it answers.

A Gun Measure I Might Be Able to Get Behind

In light of some recent posts, I thought I'd share this idea I ran across on Twitter.  It has merits.

The Wanderer's Hávamál: A Brief Review

My copy of Dr. Jackson Crawford's Hávamál arrived recently. Here he is introducing the work and giving an argument for why you should read it.

Crawford accepts that the Hávamál can be fairly critiqued as 'cynical.' Instead of 'cynical,' I would describe it as 'pragmatic.' Pragmatism is a highly defensible philosophical position. Formally, it's also a characteristically American one; the frame of it was only spelled out in the late 19th century.
Rather, this points to a current of American thought that, in the years just after the Civil War, blossomed into a formal school of philosophy. This school is called Pragmatism, and it has always been a characteristically American school of thought. Pragmatism is what the American founding showed that the French one did not. Pragmatism holds to the the maxim that all ideas should be tested against their practical consequences. Ideas that do not work out should be abandoned. Ideas that reliably produce bad consequences are bad ideas; in formal applications of the philosophy, they can even be said to be false ideas.

This current of thought explains why the American project succeeded while the French one fell into tyranny. Even when dealing with direct challenges to America’s founding principles, American thinkers responded to those challenges with a careful eye to the real-world consequences of their decisions. The American principles were realized, slowly: slavery was in fact banished, its replacements in Jim Crow and lynching eventually defeated. For those who favor a more principled response to evils like slavery, note that this insistence on considering the practical consequence is one of the principles of Pragmatism. The question How can this work? has to be considered, and the consequences weighed.

But what about the rights that come from the Creator? It might seem that Pragmatism is a challenge to religion, as it looks to the world instead of to God for the test of its ideas. It is certainly compatible with secular philosophy, but what about the Declaration of Independence? I would argue that Pragmatism makes room for religion as well: if God made the world, then to learn the rules of the world is to learn something about the world’s maker. (This approach to religion is called ‘natural theology.’) The only sort of religion that is ruled out by Pragmatism is the sort whose dogma reliably leads to practical disasters. The same is true of ideas in politics, economics, or other fields. Americans are characteristically interested in what works.
I have argued that Aristotle is already pragmatic, in a way that is rarely recognized. In the beginning of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle points out that the lessons of ethics are not certain truths like one finds in the proofs of strict logic. A rich man may be destroyed by his wealth; a brave man may be destroyed just because his courage drives him into places where danger is highest. Nevertheless, for the most part, wealth helps you attain your ends; courage helps you excel in whatever you are trying to do. These things are virtues, in other words, because they work. They work in the world.

It is interesting to find a god who is interested in pragmatics. That's an issue for another day, but it is characteristic of Odin in a way that it is not of almost any other god in any of the many stories that the many nations have told about gods. Zeus or Athena has a role to play in a greater order; the various Hindu gods are just actors in a great script playing out in the dream of the one great God. Odin cares a lot about what works. He has some very good advice to offer.

Ultimately I am not well-fitted to critique Dr. Crawford's translation. My Old Norse is entirely self-taught, as is my Old English and Middle English. His scholarship on this matter passes mine. However, I do have many previous translations of this work to compare against him. In the places where I feared he might give a soft translation in order to appeal to current tastes, he does not. That suggests he is being honest, as I was prepared to believe from having appreciated his scholarship on other questions heretofore.

So if you are interested in some Yule readings, as opposed to specifically Christmas ones, here is one you might consider. Jólnir is one of the names of Odin, with 'Yule' being derived from the antecedent syllable.

You might of course consider it unhealthy to look into the pagan ancestry, but I do not. Tolkien did; and the One who made all things made these things too. That point to the side, I recommend the book to those who are interested in such matters.

Dersh Weighs In

Professor Alan Dershowitz is negatively impressed.
Neither of these proposed articles satisfy the express constitutional criteria for an impeachment, which are limited to “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Neither are high or low crimes or misdemeanors. Neither are mentioned within the Constitution.

Both are so vague and open ended that they could be applied in partisan fashion by a majority of the House against almost any president from the opposing party. Both are precisely what the Framers had rejected at their Constitutional Convention. Both raise the “greatest danger,” in the words of Alexander Hamilton, that the decision to impeach will be based on the “comparative strength of parties,” rather than on “innocence or guilt.”

That danger is now coming to pass, as House Democrats seek for the first time in American history to impeach a president without having at least some bipartisan support in Congress. Nor can they find any support in the words of the Constitution, or in the history of its adoption....

In doing this, they follow the view of Representative Maxine Waters who infamously declared that, when it comes to impeachment, “there is no law.”
Ironically, "rule of law" has been one of the biggest talking points by Democrats supporting impeachment. It is correct to say that there is a basic American principle that "no one is above the law." They apparently forget the principle that no one is beneath it, either.

UPDATE: In fairness, the Progs aren't satisfied either. Then again, when are they ever?

No Politics at the Family Feast

It's bad manners, and Americans by and large didn't put up with it. Good for us.

New Jersey Knows Terrorism

Details are still emerging, but increasingly this shooting today looks like an attack that targeted the Jewish community. They are, of course, disarmed and defenseless under New Jersey law.

UPDATE:  The New York Times story about the following paragraph was apparently entirely wrong on the facts.

Coincidentally, President Trump signed an order today that protects Jews as "a nation" in addition to as a religious minority. There's a bit of upset about that, based on a refusal to recognize that "a nation" is an equivocal term. It does usually refer to one's citizenship, though not always (as e.g. US nationals from American Samoa, who may not be citizens); but in this case it refers to the ancient ambition of a culture that defines a people, rather than to citizenship in a secular polity. Not only here; one may speak of a nation that is not established formally, e.g. Kurdistan, and then refer to 'the Kurdish nation' without referring to either an extant polity or a legally-recognized form of citizenship. One can be both a member of 'the Kurdish nation' and also, by legal citizenship, an American.

There are bad people out there. Not many, and to avoid overreaction it's important to recognize how safe almost all of America is almost all of the time. Still, take care of each other, and be ready if circumstances call you to serve.

Barr: Trump Campaign was "Clearly Spied Upon"

He's extremely clear about how the Carter Page bit ties in to the campaign, even though Page had left the campaign.

He Did What Now?

It's election day in the UK.
Johnson ploughed a British flag-themed digger, marked "Get Brexit done", through a styrofoam wall with "gridlock" written on it, in a bid to ram home his core message in time for Thursday's snap vote.
Now that I've seen the picture I think I understand what that sentence is intended to mean, but the first time through I was a little lost.

Or You Could _Not_ Register It

With respect to Virginians, it's helpful that they're going to be such a powerful good example next year before the 2020 elections.
“In this case, the governor’s assault weapons ban will include a grandfather clause for individuals who already own assault weapons, with the requirement they register their weapons before the end of a designated grace period,” Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said in a statement Monday evening.
I don't live in Virginia, but I can assure you that I will not be registering any firearms with any governments at any point. Defiance of unconstitutional laws is an important part of the duty of a citizen.

Wings of Gold

Naval aviators refer to their flight wings in this way. Pensacola is the location of Naval aviator flight training. Last week's attack by a Saudi national at Pensacola killed three naval aviators in training. Today, all three were posthumously awarded their wings out of respect for "exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil."

I'm confused

An all-girl troop that's part of the Boy Scouts, but they do things completely separate from the boys and no boys are allowed?  As they're saying on my FB feed, "that just sounds like the Girls Scouts with extra steps."

Three perspectives on the IG report

The Inspector General's perspective is that, in pursuing the FISA warrants against Carter Page, the FBI committed 17 significant errors and omissions.  This is in addition to many errors in the "Woods Procedures" that are designed to ensure that a confidential human source's otherwise unverified stories are at least vetted in by specific statements from the source's FBI handler concerning his experience with the source. In this case, the FISA application inexplicably included statements that Steele's handler did not and would not support.

The IG calls these “serious performance failures" and found "unsatisfactory" the explanations it received for the lapses. Nevertheless, the IG cannot quite bring himself to conclude that all these inexplicable errors can be attributed to political bias. Nor is he prepared to "speculate" whether the higher-ups who were duped by the errors of subordinates would have approved the FISA applications if they hadn't been misled. It's hard to understand why he would need to speculate. Why not ask the higher-ups directly: would you still have approved the applications, knowing what your subordinates misled you about? Why or why not?

Attorney General Barr and U.S. Attorney Durham already have weighed in with alternative views. Barr stated:
The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken. It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration. In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source. The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory. While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.
Durham stated:
[Unlike the IG investigation], our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.

Up the Militia

A proposal to arm (nearly) all Americans.

Inspector General Report

The Federalist raises some issues, first:
These admissions should outrage Americans: The FBI is intentionally failing to document confidential sources’ credibility and reliability problems so defense attorneys do not learn of them! Or, as the IG report concluded, “by withholding potentially critical information from validation reports, the FBI runs the risks that (1) prosecutors may not have complete and reliable information when a CHS serves as a witness and, thus, may have difficulties complying with their discovery obligations.”
Indeed, you can’t meet your obligations to disclose exculpatory information if there is a systematic avoidance of documenting that information.

Read the rest.

Grinding Bones

What could be better for the hound of the Hall than to grind bones by the fire as the evenings run toward Yule?

Gentlemen, we cannot afford a salt-shaker gap

Business Insider must be angling for a Pulitzer with its new expose on condiment equality in Trump's America.

Down the memory hole

Embedded in this South Carolina article is a video of a CNN video of an interview Friday morning with House Majority Whip Clyburn saying he won't "whip" a vote on impeachment. Oddly enough, CNN has scrubbed both the Clyburn video and its transcript from its website. Links from other sites now show up as broken. A search on the CNN site turns up nothing for any Clyburn interview in the last few days or any article mentioning Clyburn and impeachment this month. The video link embedded above is a "share" from a Washington Examiner article, but I can't embed it because noting I can do will call it up from a YouTube search bar. I'll be interested to see if the link continues working.

Come to think of it, has anyone done a wellness check on Clyburn since Friday?

The interview suggests that Clyburn has recently noticed that impeachment might be divisive. Shoot, if the Ds had known that I'm sure they'd never have pursued it in the first place.


Congress is nonfunctional so this probably has no chance of passage, but it's definitely correct on the merits.
On Tuesday, Marshall introduced the Home Defense and Competitive Shooting Act of 2019. This would change provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) that put extra restrictions on the ownership of short-barreled rifles—that is, rifles* with a barrel shorter than 16″ in length or that have a total length of less than 26″.

The NFA requires owners of short-barreled rifles to register them with the federal government; they must also pay a one-time $200 excise tax per gun. If Marshall's bill becomes law, these extra requirements would disappear; short-barreled rifles* would be regulated under the same rules as semiautomatic rifles....

Gun lobbying groups have praised Marshall's bill for, as Gun Owners of America (GOA) puts it, attempting to undo the "egregiously unconstitutional registration, taxation, and regulation of short-barreled rifles." GOA is joined by the National Rifle Association, which supported the NFA back in 1934 but now backs Marshall's bill.
As the article points out, this law affects all sorts of rifles -- break action, lever action, and so on. This bit Steve McQueen at one point in his storied career, when his 'Mare's Leg' prop cost his studio a small fortune in ATF fees. Weirdly, as the Wiki article goes on to explain, it's perfectly legal to manufacture the same rifle as a pistol, rather than making a rifle and then cutting it down.

The NFA is probably unconstitutional front-to-back, of course, but the courts aren't there yet. Getting there, maybe.