When does it start to be a person, again?

Disney's Star-Wars-universe show "The Mandalorian" is enjoyable science fiction, but it ain't very woke. A recent storyline involved adorable Baby Yoda, who is always hungry, filching and devouring some of the incubated eggs of a minor character who's trying to reunite with her husband and prevent the extinction of her species. Twitter took to its fainting couch.

I don't get the outrage. He wasn't selling them for parts, was he?

Different aims, same tools

From "The Woke Supremacy" by Evan Sayet:
The Russian Socialists chose gulags and work camps, permanent confinement to mental institutions, and exile to frozen tundra. The German socialists opted for the more efficient and effective gas chambers and ovens, while the Chinese socialists, seeking to save on infrastructure and material costs, went with mass starvation and other low-tech means.
While these kinds of atrocities are typically blamed on the ideologies of these various Socialist entities--giving comfort to some that "this time," with today's Socialists embracing a different ideology, things will somehow be different--the fact is that gulags, death camps, and killing fields are not ideologically driven. Who is sent to them is.

We were blind, how can we contrive to stay blind?

I find articles like this hilarious.  This one at least tries to figure out what it means to have been so completely wrong about what so many voters think.  The author even proposes to view some of President Trump's achievements honestly, painful as that is.  In the end, though, he just moans about how wrong all those bad voters are, especially when there are so many of them.

Some of these numbers seem a little fishy

 Powerline has a good statistical analysis up.

And again, red flags are not proof of fraud, but they're a sure sign that some serious investigation is in order.  Listen to the experts on this.

Trust the experts, or else

Pandemic Hypocrites Produce Pandemic Cynics.  Also known as the "Boy Who Cried Wolf" syndrome. I think COVID really is a wolf, but if people in power lie about it enough, they'll erode the public's willingness to obey edicts, even if some of the edicts would turn out to be a pretty good idea once we actually talked about it respectfully and honestly.

I've been deluged with arguments this week from people who blame practically everything that has gone wrong in the U.S. in 2020 on President Trump's crime of not taking COVID seriously enough. It's impossible to engage them in a discussion of any action he took that supposedly stemmed from this improper attitude, or of a result that credibly followed from the action. Instead I hear claims that, if the President had made people understand how seriously they must take the danger, we would somehow have handled better the convulsive rush to universal mail-in voting.  If I object that the big problems were not just the difficulty of imposing enough antifraud measure but the concerted opposition to antifraud measures as a cruel and unconstitutional burden on the franchise, I get back an argument that somehow this would have resolved itself reasonably if Orange Man hadn't poisoned the well of public discussion.

Similarly, all the jobs lost? Somehow his fault for not talking the virus seriously. The 200K-plus deaths? Somehow there would have been fewer. Not up for discussion, it's intuitively obvious to the most casual observer. Riots? Arson? Murder? Catch-and-release perpetrators of same? Major problem: his attitude:

(1) Doubt in the public mind.

(2) . . . ?

(3) Bad result.

My own view, of course, is that's it's a lot easier to make the case that, if COVID-restraining measures really aren't working as well as they might in a perfect world, a large part of the explanation is that people are going through the motions on measures they don't believe in, at least in part because reminds them of hearing that eggs are good, then bad, then good for your health. It doesn't help when the most prominent and powerful voices for the most personally costly containment measures treat them with contempt in their own lives whenever they're inconvenient.

At least when President Trump sheds doubt on the effectiveness of a measure, he's acting consistently with his stated beliefs. What I hear him saying is, sure the virus can be dangerous, but some dangers have to be faced. We don't necessarily have a choice of a world in which we can eliminate the danger without bringing on consequences that are even more damaging. We wish we had that option, but acknowledging that we may not is not the same as wanting to kill Grandma. Nor am I entitled to believe that half the country is guilty of attempted murder because they're not as convinced as their not-very-trustworthy betters wish they were.

There Are No General Laws of History

 AVI had a post the other day citing an article from the Economist about this same guy; I find this version from the Atlantic more interesting. I disagree sharply with his basic approach, although his five year estimate sounds plausible. Joseph Schumpeter made the same argument in the latter part of his life -- I had thought it was earlier, but the discussion is from 1975.

Marx, of course, thought so too -- for different reasons, he regarded the socialist revolution as inevitable. 

Really, though, Nietzsche pegged this mechanism in his lifetime too. Absent God to admire, and absent divine assurance of one's dignity and ultimate ascension, human beings resent each other for their own failures. An elite that has nowhere to go be elite (and large student loans they can't pay back) is likely to resent everything and everyone they see as keeping themselves out of power. It's the way they keep from having to blame themselves.

Come to think of it, Aristotle has a bit to say about this in his Politics, too.

Yet even though this issue recurs throughout our history, and has occurred to great thinkers in several ages, I still reject the notion that Peter Turchin is putting forward. There are no general laws to history. 

The basic idea Marx adopted from Hegel was that reality evolves along a set path, which is pre-determined because its evolution is logical. In other words, since each step follows logically, each step has to happen and will happen in a certain way. Thus, Marx believed he could predict the future (at least a few steps out) by understanding the logic at work. He also believed that he and his followers could bring about this future by understanding the process and working towards making the next step come true.

That is the basic connection with revolutionary politics. Later Communists were trying to bring about revolution because they believed that capitalism (the ‘thesis’) would fall into revolutionary conflict as it impoverished most people to enrich only some (the ‘antithesis’). The synthesis position, which they called ‘Socialism,’ was something they were working to bring about. Since the violent revolution was a necessary logical step between capitalism and socialism, it was to be pursued ardently. (The Nazis, of course, are “National Socialists,” different from Communists but possessed of the same basic idea about how to proceed).

Now, the important thing is that Marx was wrong (and Hegel probably was too). It turns out that history and economics don’t follow pre-set, logically-determined paths. Countries like the UK and the US adopted different approaches to synthesizing the goods of capitalism with the harms that can follow from it. Other countries found other ways still. It turns out that it is not true that very smart people can ‘see’ the future, and thus it is unlikely that rushing into revolutionary wars is wise because you can’t really be sure of how well they will turn out.

However, you can see how attractive is the idea that smart people could ‘see’ the future and bring about wonderful changes through their brilliance and courage. For more than a century now, people who thought themselves smarter than most others around them have been enamored of the idea.

There are no laws binding us to this future. We may get there; we may certainly get to a war over the issue of whether we get there. It is not ordained, however. We can pick a different road.

Since when did disagreement become "disrespectful"?

 I was recently in a disagreement with a friend of mine (friend of a friend, more accurately) on social media (he posted something I disagreed with on his wall).  Nothing acrimonious, just we see things differently on that particular topic.  This friend happens to be black.  Another friend of mine who also knows the one I'm disagreeing with came into the conversation with "Mike, sometimes we as white people need to just listen to people of color and not speak."

By Foreign Standards

The NYT sends out a morning email, which this morning is trying to browbeat Trump into conceding the election. (Gore, of course, didn't concede in 2000 until mid-December, which they fail to mention.) "A president is trying to undo an election result: How would you describe that situation in another country?"

Well, if a President in a foreign country were asking for recounts and audits of suspicious votes, I don't think I'd call it anything except the election process playing out. Those are ordinary enough things in close races or races with questions about their conduct.

Fair enough, though: what would we say about an election like this if it happened in a foreign country? It happens that the State Department had a report on an election in Ukraine that it called "rigged." Streiff at RedState, a fellow I've met once and know to be a veteran of unimpeachable taste in Scotch, reports.

You can read the State Department report in their official archives here. Among the reasons they thought the vote was rigged were "Illegal Use of Absentee Ballots (massive electoral fraud was committed through the illegal use of absentee voter certificates).... Opposition Observers Ejected.... North Korean-Style Turnout in the East: (Turnout in the pro-Yanukovych eastern oblasts was unnaturally high)... Mobile Ballot Box Fraud.... Computer Data Allegedly Altered To Favor Yanukovych..."

So basically everything that Trump's lawyers have sworn affidavits for in their appeals to the courts, in other words.

Apparently we call that "rigged."  Well, G. W. Bush's State Department did, anyway.

A Small Matter of Formalities

What's the difference anyway? It's all rhetoric, these days, a few old-fashioned folks aside. 

Happy Veteran’s Day

I salute those of honorable service. Thank you all. 

Happy Birthday Marines

 245 years, if my math is right. 


Rode to Gatlinburg this weekend through the Newfound Gap. 

I think this haunted house has been there since I was a boy. If it’s the same one, it has a balcony that is hinged to “fall” an inch or so when you walk out on it. Gives kids quite a jump. 

These ridgeline houses were all destroyed in a recent fire. I have a cousin who is doing well for himself rebuilding, as he is one of the few civil engineers who understands how to build here.  

It’s a tourist town. Lots of fake moonshine and fake everything. The best pizza in town really is, though: it’s the Mellow Mushroom, since 1974 makers of the Southern style of American pizza. 

The great thing about Gatlinburg is that it presses right up to the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can ride down into town, eat at the Mellow Mushroom, get back on your bike, and be in the woods again in less than two minutes. 

There’s more traffic in the park than elsewhere in the mountains, but the views are pretty. 

Mean tweets

Stacey Lennox on the Lincoln Project:
The most puzzling thing about the Lincoln Project crowd is that they have never succinctly articulated exactly which of President Trump’s policies they disagreed with. Was it the judges with fidelity to the Constitution? The tax reform that favored investment? We’ve been pursuing peace in the Middle East my entire life, and the first real gains have been in the last few months. Energy independence and deregulation unleashed the economy and gave us leverage globally.

Freedom is still worth pursuing

I'm taking a break from putting up "Celebrate! Unite!" signs in my front yard to read Jay Valentine's hope for success in various legal challenges to widespread vote fraud.  May some of it be true, and may we all support the legal challenges with money, attention, and refusal to be silenced.