Political Philosophy and Honor

The American Mind just re-posted an interesting essay by this title, by one of Leo Strauss's students, Harry V. Jaffa. Below is their introduction to the essay. Click over to read it.

This September, the American Political Science Association gave its annual Leo Strauss Award for best doctoral dissertation in political philosophy to Elena Gambino for her “‘Presence in Our Own Land:’ Second Wave Feminism and the Lesbian Body Politic.” When the award was founded, Strauss’s student and Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute Harry V. Jaffa wrote that “the prize will…discourage, rather than encourage the emulation of Leo Strauss.” Jaffa is quite roundly vindicated by this latest development, and so we reprint here his essay, originally published in Modern Age, Vol. 21, No. 4, Fall 1977 and reprinted as the appendix to How to Think About the American Revolution (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 1978) and again in Crisis of the Strauss Divided: Essays on Leo Strauss and Straussianism, East and West (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012).–Eds.

And it introduced me to a new word:

meliorism (n)

1. The belief that the human condition can be improved through concerted effort.

2. The belief that there is an inherent tendency toward progress or improvement in the human condition.

Parents Just Don't Understand

And neither do some Senators.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY) says it's total BS that the Progressive-Democrat-proposed $1 trillion in Federal Wuhan Virus stimulus monies aimed at State and local governments would benefit public sector unions. Whether public sector unions should or should not benefit is a separate matter.

I'm being generous, though, in suggesting that such an intelligent woman actually misunderstands.

Adding a trillion dollars, or any amount of money, to a budget means—work with me, now—that budget has those added dollars to spend. Earmark the trillion for specific purposes, or bar it from being used for public unions. Do that by sending the money as cash and tracking serial numbers. That still lets the recipient government move a different [trillion] of dollars from a different part of its budget to benefit its public unions. That's the fungibility of money. It can be moved around.

Then the Senator said this in all seriousness:

We need to fund government so that we can continue to grow the economy….

Here are the Constitutionally authorized reasons for funding the government:

to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States

Nothing in there about "growing the economy," not even under that general Welfare part. What is the general Welfare of the United States is explicitly defined by the clauses of the rest of Article I, Section 8.

Indeed, as has been demonstrated over the course of our history and across a broad range of nations, the way to grow the economy is to have a free market, capitalist economy with minimal government involvement.

In fine, the State and local governments don't need the stimulus money; they need to step back, (in many cases) end the lockdowns, and let the private economy function.

Eric Hines

2020 Democrats Vs. 2016 Democrats


End Threats to Pack the USSC?

 I've been thinking about Democratic threats to add seats to the USSC so they can fill them with progressive justices, and I wonder if the best solution is to end that idea with a Constitutional amendment setting a specific number of justices.

That number wouldn't have to be 9. Back in 2018, Glenn Reynolds suggested 59, with the new 50 being chosen by the states' governors and confirmed by the Senate.

But the point would be to stop this "We'll pack the courts!" nonsense.

So what do you think?


We'd all be lucky to have a birthday greeting recorded for us by Mark Steyn.

Blackberry Smoke

 Apparently these guys have been playing for 20 years, but I only recently heard of them.

Amish Trump Parade

Not the Bee (the Babylon Bee's real news sister site) has video of the Amish turning out on horseback and in carriages in a pro-Trump parade. It's short and kinda fun, if you are into horses and Trump, or the Amish.

Get the Supreme Court back up to 9

This is the plainest and most sensible treatment I've seen of the issue whether the President should nominate, and the Senate leadership should immediately try to confirm, a replacement for the Supreme Court seat vacted by Justice Ginsberg's death.

Love this guy

Thomas Sowell via AceHQ:
Prices are important not because money is considered paramount but because prices are a fast and effective conveyor of information through a vast society in which fragmented knowledge must be coordinated.

You may be onto something

A NatureIndex article explores the problem that "scientific" writing is increasingly impenetrable.
“It is also worth considering the importance of comprehensibility of scientific texts in light of the recent controversy regarding the reproducibility of science,” they add. “Reproducibility requires that findings can be verified independently. To achieve this, reporting of methods and results must be sufficiently understandable.”
To which the authors of several recent articles replied, "Your tiny minds cannot hope to refute our elite brilliance.  You must bow to the science, and send us more grant money."

We may never understand the motivations of these orcas

These justice-involved young orcas need to turn their lives around. It's not impossible to imagine, scientists tell us, that their coordinated group behavior is purposeful. We might say "orca-strated." It's important to look at the root causes:
But orcas are still captured by whalers in some regions and sold for consumption or captivity, while others get caught in fishing nets and gear. In areas with high boat traffic, toxic waste, increased underwater noise pollution and a higher risk of collisions are all threats to these sea mammals.
After the coronavirus pandemic hit, nationwide lockdowns and restricted economic activity provided a temporary reprieve — and some are hypothesizing that orcas are just “pissed off” that humans are back in their waters.
“If we are talking about whether killer whales have the wherewithal and the cognitive capacity to intentionally strike out at someone, or to be angry, or to really know what they are doing, I would have to say the answer is yes...."

A Man I Understand

 "On the Meaning of an Oath," or, why a man who decided he could never become an American is a closer brother than many who do bear the title. 

William Barr makes heads explode

Daniel J. Flynn:
Aside from the truth, the consistent chord Barr struck involves process, a concept foreign to ends-justify-the-means fanatics. The people deputize their representatives and not strangers in lab coats to make rules, cops and not protesters to enforce rules, and the attorney general appointed by the president and not faceless bureaucrats to run the Department of Justice.

The Abraham Accord

Matthew Continetti sees signs of foreign policy sanity breaking out in the Democratic party:
The irony is that Trump's opponents are ready to accept this "very positive thing" despite warning against and objecting to the policies that contributed to it. Through his personal relationship with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump reaffirmed that there is "no daylight" between the United States and Israel after an eight-year caesura. He defied conventional wisdom when he moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, when he withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, when he cut off aid to the Palestinians, when he recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and when he ordered the lethal strike against Qassem Soleimani. But the catastrophes that the foreign policy establishment predicted would follow each of these measures never materialized. What emerged instead were the Abraham Accords and a growing alliance against Iran.
It is in the realm of foreign policy that Trump's deviations from political norms have had the most positive and irreversible consequences. If he becomes president, Joe Biden may mistakenly try to revive the chances for Palestinian statehood by getting tough on the Israelis. He may attempt to resuscitate the moribund Iran deal. But it is highly doubtful that he will rescind the Abraham Accords, or withdraw recognition of Israel's Golan sovereignty, or return the U.S. embassy to Tel Aviv. He won't have the support for such decisions. And he won't have any good reason to make them. Anyone who has read the news lately understands that a strong and engaged Israel is good for security. Her enemies are our enemies.
I doubt his conclusion about a Biden administration. My prediction is that Pelosi would wait for Biden to go down for his nap, send a boatload of aid to Iran's nuclear program, then find an open bomb salon that could outfit her with a Palestinian suicide vest.


Recall that Oracle and ByteDance have a proposal on the table for Oracle to take a minority partnership position in ByteDance's TikTok.  In response to objections to that, some

Trump administration officials are looking to give American investors a majority share of the company that will take over the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok[.]

Senators Marco Rubio (R, FL), Rick Scott (R, FL), Thom Tillis (R, NC), Roger Wicker (R, MI), Dan Sullivan (R, AK), and John Cornyn (R, TX), object to that, too.

Any deal between an American company and ByteDance must ensure that TikTok's US operations, data, and algorithms are entirely outside the control of ByteDance or any Chinese-state directed actors, including any entity that can be compelled by Chinese law to turn over or access US consumer data.

The Senators are absolutely correct. Any fraction of ownership by a People's Republic of China company that's greater than zero is too much; giving, as it would, the PRC's intelligence community access to all the data TikTok scoops up from the individuals and businesses that use it.

That intelligence access, too, was explicitly made an on-demand access by a PRC law enacted in 2017.

Eric Hines

When people take your mea culpa seriously

Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber announced recently that Princeton was a hotbed of racism, perhaps forgetting that that would actually be illegal. In response, the U.S. Department of Education has opened a formal Title VI inquiry.
Eisgruber has put Princeton in a box. It either must formally admit to engaging in unlawful discrimination, which might well result in serious financial penalties, or it must admit, in effect, that Eisgruber was blowing smoke when he copped to systemic racism at Princeton — an admission that surely would enrage the militant students and alumni Eisgruber has been working so hard to appease.


I cannot recommend this book about the Great Flood stories highly enough.  I'm only a little over halfway through, perhaps because I have it in Audiobook form, and the mosquitos that were mysteriously absent for a year or more are back in vicious multitudes.  But try these paragraphs from early in the book and see if the author is not irresistible:

In 1985 a cuneiform tablet was brought in to the British Museum by a member of the public for identification and explanation. This is in itself was nothing out of the ordinary, as answering public enquiries has always been a standard curatorial responsibility, and an exciting one to boot, for a curator never knows what might come through the door (especially where cuneiform tablets are involved).
On this occasion the member of the public was already known to me, for he had been in with Babylonian objects several times before. His name was Douglas Simmonds, and he owned a collection of miscellaneous objects and antiquities that he had inherited form his father, Leonard, Simmonds. Leonard had a lifelong eye open for curiosities, and, as a member of the RAF, was stationed in the Near East around the end of the Second World War, acquiring interesting bits and pieces of teablets at the same time. His collection included items from Egypt and China as well as from ancient Mesopotamia, among which were included cylinder seals--Douglas's personal favourite--and a handful of clay tablets. It was just such a selection of artefacts that he brought to show me on that particular afternoon.
I was more taken aback than I can say to discover that one of his cuneiform tablets was a copy of the Babylonian Flood Story.
Making this identification was not such a great achievement, because the opening lines ('Wall, wall! Reed wall, Reed wall! Atrahasis...") were about as famous as they could possibly be: other copies of the Flood Story in cuneiform had been found since Smith's time, and even a first-year student of Assyriology would have identified it on the spot. The trouble was that as one read down the inscribed surface of the unbaked tabley things got harder, and turning it over to confront the reverse for the first time was a cause for despair. I explained that it would take many hours to wrestle meaning from the broken signs, but Douglas would not by any means leave his tablet with me. As a matter of fact, he did not even seem to be especially excited at the announcement that his tablet was a Highly Important Document of the Highest Possible Interest and he quite failed to observe that I was wobbly with desire to get on with deciphering it. He blithely repacked his flood tablet and the two or three round school tablets that accompanied them and more or less bade me good day.
This Douglas Simmonds was an unusual person. Gruff, non-communicative and to me largely unfathomable, he had a conspicuously large head housing a large measure of intelligence. It was only afterwards that I learned he had been a famous child actor in a British television series entitled Here Come the Double Deckers, and that he was a more than able mathematician and a man of many other parts. The above programme was entirely new to me, as I grew to manhood in a house without television, but it must be recorded that when I gave my first lecture on the findings from this tablet and mentioned the Double Decker series a lady jumped out of her chair with excitement and wanted to know all about Douglas rather than the tablet.

It's a puzzlement

 Minneapolis city council ponders the deep question "where did all the police go?"

Jim Treacher's take on it:  remember when it was wrong to complain that you couldn't get enough police protection?

Couple Misapprehensions

…in an otherwisewell-intended and worthy effort. California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) wants to make it possible for prison inmates who have been trained in firefighting and have place[d] themselves in danger assisting firefighters to defend the life and property of Californians to join fire departments after they've been released from prison.

Some of you know that I am a firm believer in rehabilitation and redemption, and this move would open one path to each of those.

There are a couple of tweaks, though, that are necessary for making this a truly effective move. One is this: Newsom has signed into law

legislation allowing inmate firefighters to get their criminal records dismissed so they can qualify for civilian firefighting jobs after they are released.

The dismissal opens the door for model inmate firefighters to qualify for paramedic certification, a requirement for civilian fire departments. Currently, those with convictions are barred by state law from becoming an EMT.

I don't agree, generally, with expunging criminal records when the crimes were committed by adults. In this sort of case, though, it would be appropriate to seal an (ex-)felon's record so he can apply to a fire department.

A better option, however, would be to alter the State's law regarding EMT eligibility to permit ex-felons otherwise trained as firefighters (even if trained while in prison) to become EMTs for the purpose of joining a fire department as a firefighter. (And, if that works out after some number of years of empirical observation, expanding the eligibility of ex-felons to become EMTs more generally.)

The other is one of mindset.

Inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter[.]

Rather, inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the opportunity to later become a professional firefighter. No one has a right to any particular job, or career, or avocation. All of us do have a right to opportunity. 

Eric Hines

Sure he's awful, but look at his cool crew!

 How to get the kids excited about Biden:

He came up with what NextGen now calls “the Democratic Avengers,” after the Marvel movie featuring an ensemble of superheroes. The idea is that by voting for Biden, you’re voting not just for him; you’re voting for all of the Democrats—many of them cool and hip!—that Biden will have in his orbit. Biden might borrow policies from Warren, for example, or have Sanders as an adviser. “If he is elected, it won’t just be Joe Biden,” this message reads. “Biden has pledged to build an administration filled with progressive leaders, experts, and activists from inside and outside of politics.”
This idea went over really well, according to Wessel and Baumann. In the focus groups, one white Millennial said “the saving grace of this (potential) presidency would be his crew. If he actually chooses true progressives and activists, I will be surprised but happy to admit I misjudged him.”
I have to admit that in 2016 I was more interested in candidate Trump's Supreme Court picks than in himself.

Not a good look

 More accidental destruction of Crossfire Hurricane records.  "Like with a cloth?"

Police face deteriorating job conditions

Goat invades cop car, trashes it, head-butts deputy, and eats her paperwork.

This is CNN

 The best line:  

“You cannot be elected president of the United States without CNN.”
CNN is happy to help get you elected as long as you play ball! Politics no issue. True, it's Michael Cohen talking to Jeff Zucker, but you don't have to take the word of either of them, because it's on tape.

Enid & Geraint


Enid & Geraint

Once strong, from solid
Camelot he came
Glory with him, Geraint,
Whose sword tamed the wild.
Fabled the fortune he won,
Fame, and a wife.

The beasts he battled
With horn and lance;
Stood farms where fens lay.
When bandits returned
To old beast-holds
Geraint gave them the same.

And then long peace,
Purchased by the manful blade.
Light delights filled it,
Tournaments softened, tempered
By ladies; in peace lingers
the dream of safety.

They dreamed together. Darkness
Gathered on the old wood,
Wild things troubled the edges,
Then crept closer.
The whispers of weakness
Are echoed with evil.

At last even Enid
Whose eyes are as dusk
Looked on her Lord
And weighed him wanting.
Her gaze gored him:
He dressed in red-rust mail.

And put her on palfrey
To ride before or beside
And they went to the wilds,
Which were no longer
So far. Ill-used,
His sword hung beside.

By the long wood, where
Once he laid pastures,
The knight halted, horsed,
Gazing on the grim trees.
He opened his helm
Beholding a bandit realm.

Enid cried at the charge
Of a criminal clad in mail!
The Lord turned his horse,
Set his untended shield:
There lacked time, there
Lacked thought for more.

Villanous lance licked the
Ancient shield. It split,
Broke, that badge of the knight!
The spearhead searched
Old, rust-red mail.
Geraint awoke.

Master and black mount
Rediscovered their rich love,
And armor, though old
Though red with thick rust,
Broke the felon blade.
The spear to-brast, shattered.

And now Enid sees
In Geraint's cold eyes
What shivers her to the spine.
And now his hand
Draws the ill-used sword:
Ill-used, but well-forged.

And the shock from the spear-break
Rang from bandit-towers
Rattled the wood, and the world!
Men dwelt there in wonder.
Who had heard that tone?
They did not remember that sound.

His best spear broken
On old, rusted mail,
The felon sought his forest.
Enid's dusk eyes sense
The strength of old steel:
Geraint grips his reins.

And he winds his old horn,
And he spurs his proud horse,
And the wood to his wrath trembles.
And every bird
From the wild forest flies,
But the Ravens.


I'm watching the President's Michigan rally, where he just warned the crowd that, if Biden is elected, far-left lunatics won't only be running Democratic cities, they'll be in charge of the DOJ, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court.

"Fake but Accurate" News

More from Neo's commenters, on the Jeffrey Goldberg travesty, which has been convincingly denied but still "rings true," which is the important part:


As another commenter said, it's fish bait.  If it gets viewers to click, who cares whether anyone believes it?

According to my anonymous sources, Dan Rather doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.  What is truth but a gut feeling that serves a purpose?

Meanwhile, Portland tries to recruit cops

 But the recruiting program is not going well.  This link is to the backstory for the video:

Mayor lies, city dies

The Rochester police force's leadership just resigned en masse, on principle.

As one of Neo's commenters said, the next time there's a drug-crazed guy out there endangering himself and others, Mayor Lovely Warren can go out there and deal with him personally.

My bipolar nephew is well known to the local police, who are kind to him when he's out of control.  Even so, he nearly died from aspiration-induced pneumonia after one of his dissolutions.  Being that mentally ill is deadly dangerous no matter how careful the police are, and that's before you get to the danger of being shot to prevent your doing something even more awful.  It's not to get better if we chase off all the police officers who possess either integrity or a self-preservation instinct.

Still Here, Huh?

So it’s been about a month, and I see that you’re still coming by thanks to Tex. It occurred to me that I should drop in to prepare the “Enid & Geraint” post on 9/11. 

Here’s a few shots to reward your loyalty, and give you a sense of what I’ve been doing instead of blogging. 


The guttering flame of academic freedom

But Yale appears to be keeping at least a couple of candles lit, to judge from the response of the dean of the School of Public Health to heretical statements by its epidemiologist Harvey Risch about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine:

“A bureaucracy that’s in bed with other forces that are causing them to make decisions that are not based on the science — that is killing Americans.”
Back in July, Sten H. Vermund, the dean of the Yale School of Public Health, defended Risch from criticism for findings that don’t correspond to mainstream opinion. “I have championed maintaining open academic discourse, including what some may view as unpopular voices. The tradition of academia is that faculty may do research, interpret their work, and disseminate their findings.”
“If persons disagree with Dr. Risch’s review of the literature, it would be advisable to disseminate the alternative scientific interpretations, perhaps through letters or other publications with alternative viewpoints to the American Journal of Epidemiology, Newsweek, or other outlets,” he added. “My role as Dean is not to suppress the work of the faculty, but rather, to support the academic freedom of our faculty, whether it is in the mainstream of thinking or is contrarian.”

San Francisco is a special place

The rules for government workers aren't quite the same as for the rest of you people, because trust the science.

The "R" word

Old and busted:  mostly peaceful protests.

New and chic:  radical protest tactics.

Some wishful thinking in the WaPo:
It also moves the needle of what is considered a peaceful protest. . . .

That may be true, depending on what ordinary voters think of WaPo's latest effort to avoid the word "riots."  Personally, I'm looking forward to President Trump's re-election after an evening of mostly successful D attempts to lock up electoral votes.

The face of the movement

Matt Taibbi warns: "If no one in the party says anything, Trump will argue, with some justice, this is the true face of his opposition."

This new Trump campaign ad makes the point visually in about 30 seconds.

It's like a giant vending machine

 A fully automated stop'n'rob store lets you in with a smartphone swipe and checks you out the same way.  No one gets a part-time job operating it, but on the other hand no one gets shot and killed, either.  The whole thing folds up into a nearly impregnable containing-shipping steel box and can be deployed with minimal risk even into an area populated with youths who need to turn their lives around, temporarily engaged in undocumented shopping and reparations programs.

When peace intensifies into violence

 Watching different movies:

On August 31st The Point, CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza’s newsletter, ran with the headline “‘Protests’ or ‘riots?’ It makes a BIG difference.” Cillizza can’t have thought very hard about the photograph he chose to feature: two law enforcement officers in full riot gear stand by a hulking truck labelled “SHERIFF” while a building in the background goes entirely up in flames. The orange light of the fire engulfs the whole frame of the picture. It sure doesn’t look like a protest—even one that’s only mostly peaceful. Yet that’s the spin Cillizza pushes. Anything else is a vast right-wing conspiracy: “Trump’s efforts to label what is happening in major cities as ‘riots’ speaks at least somewhat to his desperation, politically speaking, at the moment,” writes Cillizza in the missive. The bad man is just trying to scare us. Everything is fine. Pay no attention to the man behind the flaming curtain.
Subjects on the right, meanwhile, receive none of the sympathy and credulity afforded to our mostly peaceful arsonists. It was apparently necessary for the CBS News report mentioned above to remind us that the left-wing protestors “include moms and veterans,” but no such human casting of right-leaning protestors can be found in any major outlet. In fact, the New York Times practically presents the last 3 months as a bit of lighthearted roughhousing between benevolent demonstrators and police. “But in recent days,” the report goes on, “the protests in Portland and in Kenosha, Wis., have taken a more perilous turn — right-wing activists have arrived, many carrying firearms, and they are bent on countering the racial justice protests with an opposing vision of America.”

I worry about the backlash

 Please observe rioting safety protocols.

Portland keeps getting weirder

Yesterday the "100% Antifa" fellow who had previously been identified from video as the shooter of the "Patriot Prayer" anti-Antifa protester in Portland several days ago broadcast an interview claiming he shot the Patriot Prayer fellow in self-defense.  Last night U.S. Marshals tried to arrest him and returned fire when he began shooting at them.  Now he's dead, too.

It's hard to find any coverage of the event that doesn't identify the Patriot Prayer guy as a "far-right protester."  Maybe "far right" is fair, but it sure looks as though he was walking quietly down the street, having incautiously found himself separated from his friends, and was shot in cold blood after someone called out "We got two right here."  I guess we'll never know what the self-defense argument was going to look like once it got developed.

No U.S. Marshals were injured.

Notes from the underground

Don't try this at home.

What are school taxes for again?

Way to convince me that schools are mostly a childcare program operated by a government monopoly:  complain that the big problem with shuttering the schools is that parents don't know where to park their kids during the day.

Some enterprising school systems have stepped up their game:
Perhaps the most puzzling option, at least for parents, has been the opening of day camps in public schools and other spaces. In addition to public schools, 28 states and the District of Columbia now have YMCAs that operate virtual-learning labs for small cohorts of school-age kids.
These labs and camps operate very much like schools. Kids come in wearing masks, work all day on a computer, and then do an enrichment activity before returning home. To reduce the risk of infection, they don’t intermingle with other cohorts or eat in cafeterias. But there is a twist: Parents pay for this privilege. Judging by local news stories, the rate is about $100 to $200 a week.

"We were outgunned"

Sometimes spouting two contradictory rationales, without making any attempt to reconcile them honestly by trading off risks and benefits, leaves you in a really tough spot:

[B]ig-city mayors including Atlanta’s Keisha Lance Bottoms, New York’s Bill de Blasio, and Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot face a daunting challenge. They have to navigate two problems at the same time: reining in overpolicing while also preventing underpolicing, the consequences of which are every bit as dire. And a great many lives are riding on how well they pull that off.

It's almost as if lying to people and betraying their trust ensured they won't be there for you the next time you need them.  Life is terribly unfair for people who think they can do what they like and still count on commandeering the heartfelt efforts of their neighbors.

A former Seattle police officer who was on the force during the consent-decree period explained how this dynamic often played out. . . . Among the elements of the city’s consent decree was a broadened definition of “use of force,” which required reporting even an arrestee’s complaint that handcuffs had caused physical pain. The decree also put in place an early-warning system for officers racking up use-of-force incidents at a high rate. Many officers concluded that it wasn’t worth the hassle to arrest someone for relatively minor offenses, such as public disturbance or loitering, the former officer said.
“I made two arrests two days in a row one week, and both turned into paperwork cluster****s,” the former officer said. “When you’ve accumulated two or three use-of-force complaints in a week, you’ll say, ‘I just need to stop. I need to stop doing this.’” Among the sort of policing that fell away, the former officer said, was officers’ routine sweeps of areas where drug users congregated, to check their names for outstanding warrants, which would often net suspects in local burglaries. Meanwhile, he said, several dozen of the department’s more proactive-minded officers responded to the new rules and paperwork by simply deciding to “lateral out” to a job in another police department.
The article goes on to argue that voluntary, institutional moderation of stringent "broken window" policing does not result in crime waves, but informal rank-and-file pullbacks responding to overpunishment of police in "excessive force" incidents do. After the Freddie Gray crisis in Baltimore in 2015,
the underpolicing was so conspicuous that even some community activists who had long pushed for more restrained policing were left desperate as violence rose in their neighborhoods. “We saw a pullback in this community for over a month where it was up to the community to police the community. And quite frankly, we were outgunned,” the West Baltimore community organizer Ray Kelly told me in 2018. In fact, the violence got so out of hand—a 62 percent increase in homicides over the year before—that even some street-level drug dealers were pleading for greater police presence. One police commander, Melvin Russell, told New York in 2015 that he’d been approached by a drug dealer in the same area where Freddie Gray had been arrested, who asked him to send a message back to the police commissioner. “We know they still mad at us,” the dealer said. “We p***ed at them. But we need our police.”
The effect of police demoralization is slow to dissipate, and even slower if the igniting incident leaves behind ambiguous police-control protocols under which officers never know what misstep will end their careers and expose them to criminal prosecution.
In Baltimore, the pullback has persisted five years later, in an evolved form. The resentment that police harbored over the charges against the six officers has dissipated; none of the cases ended with a conviction. Now, the veteran officer said, the continued decline in arrest rates and proactive-policing levels are driven more by uncertainty over what is allowed under the city’s new consent decree, even after multiple training sessions. Some of the sessions have been useful, the officer said—for instance, on the rules regarding searches and seizures. But officers are still uncertain about the expanded use-of-force definitions, he said, which include forcible handcuffing, as in Seattle, and about when and how they are allowed to clear crowds from major drug corners. So they often choose to simply drive by them. “The officers are confused. I have no idea what I can do and what I can’t do, and I’ve been an officer for 20 years,” he said. “The good members of the community want us to do our job. But the small number of noisy people who are getting in trouble over and over are out there dictating policy to the detriment of the city.”
Police officers don't want to die in service of the desire of party bosses to have the hard issues both ways.

Political permission slips

Neo has a post up about trends in sociopathic behavior that features a brief excerpt from a YouTube interview with a lawyer named Robert Barnes, addressing the best explanation for Antifa outbreaks.  He studied peaks and troughs of violent Klan behavior between 1870 and 1960 and concluded, first, that it's primarily a function of sociopathy, for which racism is just the handy excuse, and second, that it rises and falls with what he calls "political permission slips."  He believes that the incidence of sociopathy in humans is fairly stable over time, and found you could best match the changing pattern of politicized violence by examining the message put out by people in positions of political prominence.  In the case of the Klan, the key was local White Citizens Councils.  In the case of Antifa, the key is the Democratic Party leadership.

Could it be, as leftists are arguing, that it's really President Trump who hands out the permission slips to white nationalists, who are stirring up violence among mostly peaceful but fiery protesters?  Daniel Greenberg notes Joe Biden's recent speech claiming something of the sort, in which Biden argues that there were no riots when he was in the White House.  Greenberg counters that there were no riots, except when there were riots, and asks:  If the current riots are Trump's fault, whose fault were the Ferguson riots?  Who misreports racially charged incidents so that riots are in full force before anyone even has a chance to examine the evidence and figure out who did what?  Who painted Trayvon Martin as a small, innocent 12-year-old murdered without provocation by a "white Hispanic"?  Who perpetrated the myth that a Ferguson cop shot Michael Brown while he had his hands up in an unthreatening posture?  Who pushes the narrative of vague "systemic racism" when nothing about a particular incident supports the charge of individual racism?

Who preaches violence?

How to destroy a chameleon

Powerline muses on the exhausting life of someone who tries to curry favor by matching a constantly shifting milieu.

The thing about chameleons is that they mostly work only against a solid background. Franklin Roosevelt loved the joke about how he once placed a pet chameleon against a plaid background: “The chameleon died.” Trump is the ideal plaid background against which to place Biden, which is why Democrats are spinning so furiously to get Biden out of debating Trump.

Courage is contagious

Rasmussen noticed that its usual polling competitors have been strangely reluctant to post the usual polling updates since the party conventions.  It suspects that left-biased pollsters don't want to give Trump supporters the sense that public opinion is shifting their way, for fear of inspiring their courage to take a public stand in an era of violent retribution on the streets.  American Thinker agrees that it's very dangerous when even a few begin to take a stand, linking to this classic scene:

Effective politics, effective citizenship

 A Trump-campaign-endorsed group called "Black Voices for Trump" is moving in to clean up riot-ravaged neighborhoods.

Exit, Voice and Loyalty

In part because of my county's local upheaval, but also because of the national balkanization, I've been reflecting on Albert Hirschman's 1970 "Exit, Voice and Loyalty."  The thesis is that if people don't feel they have a way to influence a response to an institution's problems (voice), they'll vote with their feet (exit).  Loyalty discourages exit, but can be built only by supporting voice.  I guess you could say voice = loyalty and gag = exit.

It works for me.  If I feel I can speak up and achieve healthy change, I'm not only more likely to stick around, I'm also more committed to the institution.  Remember a time you've had a problem with a merchant, which was promptly fixed when you spoke up.  Not only do you not take your business elsewhere, you're positively warm about sticking with the store and recommending it to your friends.  It works that way for local government, too, not to mention clubs, friends, and marriages:  any conflict successfully resolved makes you want to stick around.  A silent resentment festers until one day you hit the road.  In the meantime, the attitude tends to be "Fine, be that way, but you'd better not count on me for anything, because, oh, are you listening now that you need something from me?"

If you block both exit and voice, you not only forfeit loyalty, you back people into a corner in which sullen disengagement or even violence will seem the only choices.

Back to our regularly scheduled darkness


On a lighter note

 My pastor's hair isn't anything like any of these, nor is his theology, thank goodness.

This is a bad idea

The little people

Salena Zito continues her valuable and nearly solo effort to listen to what real voters think. I read constantly that it's intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that Trump is incompetent, dishonest, and divisively racist. Clearly I lack the imagination to understand how anyone reaches these positions, and I take some comfort from the fact that a large swathe of voters are as puzzled as I am.

Mahoning Valley, Ohio, suffered when a GM plant was shut down. Biden's campaign blames President Trump, just as it blames him for COVID deaths and the lockdown's brutal destruction of jobs--but voters don't necessarily see it that way, according to Paul Sracic, a political science professor at Youngstown State University:

“These voters are not hung up on how Trump talks," said Sracic. "He delivered on the issue that they care about: trade. On that issue, he is the most honest politician that they’ve ever heard.”
* * *
“Ironically, the closing of a manufacturing plant might actually increase support for Trump’s anti-globalization message,” he said. "This also goes to COVID-19. To argue that Trump is to blame for the explosion of cases and deaths in the U.S. assumes that Americans agree on a way that the virus could have been stopped. Masks and lockdowns, however, remain hugely controversial."
Sracic says the national press located far from this region and national Democrats holed up in the same bubble see a floundering president too preoccupied with bashing his opponents on Twitter to deal with a national crisis such as COVID-19, his supporters in the Mahoning Valley and in similar places may see a president who, for the first time in their lives, says what they believe about globalization and has actually delivered on some of his explicit promises.
“Democrats seem to think they steal these voters back by arguing, on the one hand, that Trump is incompetent, and on the other hand, that Democrats also want to protect American jobs and have a better plan [than] Trump. These are going to be hard sells,” said Sracic.
“How was renegotiating NAFTA to provide more protection for labor incompetent? Because it didn’t go far enough? Is a politician like Joe Biden who voted for NAFTA, been in government for nearly 50 years, eight as Vice-President, while never changing a word of NAFTA, going to be able to make this argument effectively and believably?” Sracic wonders, adding: “The result could be even more votes for Trump.”


Michael Goodwin, like many commentators this week, sees a preference cascade building over revulsion for the pretense rioters, looters, arsonists, and murders are "protestors."  Then he touched on an issue that's puzzled me for a long time:

A laughably biased [Saturday NYT] story on the campaign dynamics called the president’s handling of the coronavirus the most important issue and reduced crime to a “wedge” issue, meaning it is divisive without being significant.
In every election someone complains that an opponent's effective issue is only a "wedge" issue. Goodwin explains the implication well:  the issue doesn't deserve attention, but inexplicably is costing votes on one's preferred side. So what do we mean by insignificant? Obviously the issue is significant enough to a lot of voters to make them switch sides over it. All that's left is the complaint that those bad voters are switching sides over an issue we good guys are convinced is "insignificant." Well, keep that attitude up and see how it works for you.

Every time the mask slips on the Marxism that increasingly motivates the mainstream Democratic Party, I'm torn between a hope and a fear.  The hope is that normal people will turn their backs once and for all.  The fear is that fewer and fewer people seem to understand what's wrong with Marxism.  The execrable Vicki Osterweil isn't beating around the bush:
[Looting] does a number of important things. It gets people what they need for free immediately, which means that they are capable of living and reproducing their lives without having to rely on jobs or a wage—which, during COVID times, is widely unreliable or, particularly in these communities is often not available, or it comes at great risk. That's looting's most basic tactical power as a political mode of action.
It also attacks the very way in which food and things are distributed. It attacks the idea of property, and it attacks the idea that in order for someone to have a roof over their head or have a meal ticket, they have to work for a boss, in order to buy things that people just like them somewhere else in the world had to make under the same conditions. It points to the way in which that's unjust. And the reason that the world is organized that way, obviously, is for the profit of the people who own the stores and the factories. So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.
Osterweil defends looting on the ground that not only should people not be put to the pain of paying for what they need, they shouldn't even have to pay for whatever they want.  By paying, all they're doing is supporting the same system that forced distant strangers to make the goodies as a condition of receiving a living wage.  In the socialist paradise, distant strangers would satisfy our desire for widescreen TVs out of solidarity, and we would naturally reciprocate.  A century of murder and famine will never convince Osterweil that she's a deadly raving fool, or many voters that they should never cast a ballot for any party that doesn't ride her out of town on a rail.

More panic about blind spots

A lot of people are getting that sinking feeling, apparently.  Here's another NYT piece from someone who just noticed that you can find out a lot about what those "silent majority" voters think if you look at their unfashionable Facebook pages instead of spending all your time on Twitter.   (I won't link to the NYT, but you can find this article by searching for "What If Facebook Is the Real Silent Majority?" 

Listen, liberals. If you don’t think Donald Trump can get re-elected in November, you need to spend more time on Facebook.
They're just now learning that it can be frustrating to deal with a media machine hostile to one's own narrative:
Pro-Trump political influencers have spent years building a well-oiled media machine that swarms around every major news story, creating a torrent of viral commentary that reliably drowns out both the mainstream media and the liberal opposition.
The result is a kind of parallel media universe that left-of-center Facebook users may never encounter, but that has been stunningly effective in shaping its own version of reality. Inside the right-wing Facebook bubble, President Trump’s response to Covid-19 has been strong and effective, Joe Biden is barely capable of forming sentences, and Black Lives Matter is a dangerous group of violent looters.

Um, well, yeah. 

Maybe Mr. Trump’s “silent majority,” in other words, only seems silent because we’re not looking at their Facebook feeds.
“We live in two different countries right now,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital strategist and digital director of Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign. Facebook’s media ecosystem, he said, is “a huge blind spot for people who are up to speed on what’s on the front page of The New York Times and what’s leading the hour on CNN.”
The closing argument is that right-wingers have an unfair advantage in emotional engagement, and Facebook doesn't help censor them enough.

Chaser from the Atlantic:
After the 2016 election, the Times admitted that it had somehow missed the story, and it earnestly set about at self-correction. Like many other outlets, the paper sent reporters to talk to Americans who had put Trump in the White House. It was a new beat, almost a foreign bureau—heartland reporting—but that focus soon faded as the president’s daily depredations consumed the media’s attention. This election year, news organizations grown more activist might miss the story again, this time on principle—as they avoid stories that don’t support their preferred narrative. Trump supporters are hoping for it. . . . Nothing will harm a campaign like the wishful thinking, fearful hesitation, or sheer complacency that fails to address what voters can plainly see.
As Glenn Reynolds warns nearly every day, though, don't get cocky.