Data on Total Death

A report archived from Johns Hopkins student newspaper: total death statistics aren’t up this year, as increased deaths from the virus are matched with declining deaths from every other cause. 

The death of journalism

It is a strange place, indeed, where news reporters can editorialize but op-ed editorials cannot.

A Fine Part

James via AVI:
In King Lear (III:vii) there is a man who is such a minor character that Shakespeare has not given him even a name: he is merely ‘First Servant’. All the characters around him – Regan, Cornwall, and Edmund – have fine, long term plans. They think they know how the story is going to end, and they are quite wrong. The servant has no such delusions. He has no notion how the play is going to go. But he understands the present scene. He sees an abomination (the blinding of old Gloucester) taking place. He will not stand it. His sword is out and pointed as his master’s breast in a moment: then Regan stabs him dead from behind. That is his whole part: eight lines all told. But if it were real life and not a play, that is the part it would be best to have acted.
Yes, just so.

An Ode to the Road and its Joys

Happy Thanksgiving

This year I’m making just a turkey breast. Quick meal for only three people this year; no holiday travel, either. It’s not that I am virtuous, but everyone is either too far or too old this year.

I am going to make a traditional pound cake. One pound each butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. No salt, baking powder, soda, or flavoring. My grandmother used to make them. Hers were always good. 

Some Anomalies

I'm a fair hand at calculating odds in common gambling games, but some of you are more skilled at mathematics than myself. Have a look at this and see what you think of it. 

Michael Flynn Pardoned

In a particularly grueling miscarriage of justice, retired general Michael Flynn had to be pardoned for a crime of which he was innocent. Investigated by the FBI at the behest of President Obama, who decided for some reason that Flynn was a Russian spy, Flynn was cleared of all charges as a result of the investigation. The FBI closed the case.

He was prosecuted anyway by a politicized Department of Justice, which nevertheless failed to produce the only piece of evidence it allegedly had against him. That evidence would have been the original "302" form showing that the FBI agents who interviewed him thought that he'd lied to them -- about a case in which the FBI had already cleared him. No such 302 was ever produced, allegedly being lost, but we do have one that we happen to know was edited long after the fact by disgraced liar and political agent Peter Strzok. We know this because he discussed it in unencrypted text messages with his lover, also-married disgraced former prosecutor Lisa Page. 

After a financially ruinous prosecution in which the FBI/DOJ produced almost none of the exculpatory evidence that the law requires them to produce -- including the record of the investigation that completely cleared him on all charges -- Flynn's sorry lawyers convinced him to plead guilty. This was done in such a way that the DOJ and his sorry lawyers (perhaps motivated by one of their partners, a former Obama attorney general) made an illegal deal to hide the agreement not to prosecute Flynn's son from the judge! Not only did the judge lack the information he needed to discern whether the guilty plea was coerced, anyone against whom Flynn later might have testified as a result of the deal would have been denied their constitutional right to know of the deal so they could raise it as a defense against the value of his testimony.

That judge -- a personal friend of Obama's, it turns out -- wasn't upset about the fact that the law firm and the DOJ conspired to hide these facts from him in violation of the law. His ire was for Flynn, whom he accused of selling out his country even though the DOJ had never even attempted to charge Flynn with that. What they charged him with was perjury for "lying" to the FBI (in the vanished 302), and a paperwork violation for which the FBI investigation had already cleared him. 

(They cleared him of the FARA violation because he had in fact filed paperwork with the government under another act, on the advice of lawyers he hired specifically to help him meet the legal reporting requirements -- thus, he had not tried to hide his lobbying work for a NATO ally, and clearly they could not s how criminal intent. DOJ knew all of that and made him plead guilty to it anyway, if he wanted them not to send his son to prison on trumped-up charges too.)

Then we spent a year while Flynn's new lawyer, Sidney Powell, managed to get all the exculpatory information illegally hidden from him in the first place. None of it convinced the judge one bit to let Flynn withdraw the coerced guilty plea, nor to accept the DOJ's determination that it should probably actually drop those baseless charges after all. Ordered to drop the charges by the DC Court of Appeals in a three-judge ruling, the judge instead sought en banc approval to continue the case. He was granted it, provided he would dispose of the matter with "dispatch." That was now several months ago, and instead of disposing of the case he has been dragging it out towards an obvious intent to sentence Flynn in spite of his innocence.

What this case shows is how completely distorted our system has become. The FBI needs to be disbanded; all the lawyers involved except Powell need to be disbarred, if not horsewhipped. The judge should be impeached, and many of those involved should be prosecuted.

But instead what we'll get is a pardon for Flynn, which the judge will probably try to find some way to challenge in court. Whether or not he succeeds, the news media and the Democratic Party (but I repeat myself) will continue to speak of Flynn as if he had been convicted of the crimes of which they imagined he was guilty for the rest of his life and beyond. 

What a disgusting ending to an infuriating persecution of a good and decent man, one whose work in military intelligence was known to me and respected by me at the height of his career. 

What’s Big and Red and Bad for Your Teeth?


On Godot

Or, as it is alternatively spelled, “FBI.”

...The evidence shows that the FBI is one of many institutions that no longer belong to the American public. Rather, its job is to protect and advance the privileges and interests of an increasingly powerful class of elites who draw their wealth and prestige from their relationships with corrupt foreign entities. And that’s why it appears the FBI didn’t investigate Hunter Biden’s laptop, but buried it.
He provides many more examples. The evidence is clear: they do not work for us.

4 Years of Waiting for Godot

First we waited for ... was it Jeff Sessions? Then Barr, then Durham, now Powell, er, the Kraken, oh, no, it's Rudy Giuliani. Maybe first it was Roberts?

But always some shocking revelation and a grand vindication was / is just around the corner. But, we never seem to get to the corner, the shocking revelation is put on ice, the vindication is moved to a later, unspecified date in the future. The Kraken feels like it is slowly sinking silently below the sable waves, if it was ever there at all.

Or maybe the Kraken is what has hold of Durham, of Barr, maybe previously of many others who seemingly could have stepped up and delivered some measure of justice but did not.

This battle is not quite over, so there is hope. There is a fight still.

But it's beginning to feel like our position is being overrun. Our media is full of reports of victories coming soon, of being in the vicinity of vindication, like good propaganda shoring up the morale of a beleaguered army. Their media is full of derision for what they believe are, or fervently desire to be, or are determined to turn into, right-wing hallucinations. Some allies are fleeing for safety, casting away their arms and uniforms, while the Left draws up its firing squads, as they always do.

Yes, yes, it's always darkest before the dawn and all that. All that. Still, I have barely any faith remaining in our federal "justice" system, legislative or executive or judicial, when it comes to anything political, and night could be just falling. Anything after civil twilight is just dark, you know.

But this is only a political war, right now, so we'll all live, whether we win or lose. Thus we get to ask, and we will be required to answer, what next? What next?

I don't expect any answers, really. We each will have our own. And all this is just my musing on the dark waters as the ship steams on toward some unknown shore. I guess it's all part of the grand adventure, and adventures always have dragons and whatnot, eh? Well, where did I put my whetstone?

Studying Problems

It’s pretty easy to get grants for studies of man-made environmental devastation. So why does this clear case of Soviet destruction not get much study?

When Gill asked the team why they weren’t conducting fieldwork at the Aral Sea, they responded: “Are you crazy? No way! It’s too remote and dangerous there, you can’t really collect any data, and it’s so treacherous if you go there you could die!”

Give Me Back My Bullets

 Justin Johnson covers Lynyrd Skynyrd on an appropriate instrument:

The Hound of the Hall is Dead

We saved him from a kill shelter back in 2008. I knew I was going back to Iraq, and had been looking for a dog to leave with my family while I was gone again. I had met many and none were right. They were taking me out to see a beagle they thought I'd like, and there was this other dog in a cage along the walls. I said, "What about that one?" They said, "You don't want that one." But I knew I did, as soon as I saw him.

He was the best dog I've ever had, and I've had some great ones. None were so eager to please, or so intent on being good. He wasn't always in spite of his heart; he killed chickens and cats and kittens, and didn't really understand why he shouldn't. He killed racoons, including a rabid one, and once ran down and killed a deer -- and then brought it to me. I came home that day and he was sitting on the back porch, proud as could be, with a deer propped up between his front paws as a gift for me. 

He watched my family while I was at war, and was my most faithful companion for years and years. I hoped he would pass peacefully in his sleep, but he didn't, and it fell to me to do what I greatly wished I would never have to do. I couldn't send him to die in among strangers in a place that smelled like medicine. When the last day came and he could no longer enjoy even the sun on his fur, when every breath was a labor and the cancer had hold of him, I did what had to be done. 

Such is life, and death. I don't understand why the world was made this way. I am grateful for our time together, though. I raised a mighty cairn over him.

Who's safe now?

More wisdom from our betters at Politico: Suddenly the allure of safe spaces is tarnished. Who would have thought that wrongthinking people might find a safe space to share ideas, without even petitioning the legislature or their college presidents for permission, armed guards at the perimeter, and suitable social annihilation for transgressors, not to mention pillows and plushy stuffed comfort animals? Parler is terrifying the people who cheered on Twitter and Facebook for silencing all the bad voices:
The set-up gives MAGA conservatives an easy way to simply dismiss the post-election beliefs of the public at large, the widely accepted reports in mainstream news outlets and the word of experts and even some government officials.
I'm speechless. There are people who dismiss beliefs of the public? Who doubt the widely accepted reports of the MSM? . . . the word of experts and even some government officials? Can't these people simply be locked up and shot?

Hispanic panic

I've lost count of the articles published in the last couple of weeks about the collapse of the craziest face of the Progressive movement in some of its most promising former strongholds. At Politico, Mark Caputo reports on the carnage:
Giancarlo Sopo, one of the Trump campaign's Hispanic communication strategists, who used to be a Democrat, said he has doubts about his former party’s ability to learn from Trump’s gains.
"Many Hispanics view the Democrats and their allies as moralistic snobs,” Sopo said. “No one wants to come home after a long day of work to be wokesplained that they need to change their language, stop buying Goya, and that they're bad people if they're concerned about border security.”
Maybe the damage wasn't enough this time to lose Biden the election, assuming he did win it, but 2022 looms:
“I’m worried that there is a chink in that armor — that what Trump did sends a signal that now allows more Latinos to feel like they have permission to think about the Republicans, that’s it’s perhaps socially acceptable to do so,” [said Carlos Odio, a Democratic co-founder of the Hispanic research firm EquisLabs]. “Right now, I think like, it's still limited ... but nobody knows how it’s going to play out.”
It's unbelievably dangerous to give people permission to think--almost as dangerous as it is to imply that they need your permission.