Thunder in the Smokies

Maggie Valley. Not the greatest rally ever, but it’s good to see people getting back to life. 

A beautiful Shovelhead, named after the distinctive Harley engine. The engine is cast iron, and it was the last one Harley made that you could tear all the way down at a campsite or in a hotel room with a tool bag. The downside was that you probably had to. 

Mascots abound. 

One of the Mad Max bikes. 

Changing Gears


Do it yourself

We Could Use a Few Warrior Bishops...


No, this wasn't actually worn by a 13th century bishop into battle, but it's incredible craftsmanship and artistry regardless, and I love the implications of the whole project.  The man who made it is quite a talented armorer, it's worth scrolling through his facebook feed to see more of his work.

Politics and the Digital: A Theory

Now this is a thesis worth discussing.
Theorists of technology are becoming the most significant sources of political ideas; theorists of politics are becoming incapable of understanding significant technological ideas.

Unschooled in perceiving the development of digital technology for what it is, political leaders now frenetically throw around appeals to concepts—slogans, “values,” “ideals”—that have come unglued from the reality formed by our surrounding digital environment.... [These] destabilizing trends raise (significantly) two linked issues, one more abstract and one more particular. First, is the Western political tradition obsolete? Second, is America, because of its regime, worth the trouble of trying to preserve?

It's a longer argument, but if any of you are drawn into it I'd like to discuss it with you. Just to raise one point that he only briefly mentions, digital pornography seems to me to be at the back of this explosion of genders. In the digital world, and only there, these things can seem as if they have some reality: it might carry a kind of sense to say that one is a 'pansexual otherkin,' because as a search term that (and maybe only that) reliably hooks you up with content that floats your boat. The digital space creates its own reality, and people who live more or less exclusively in it can come to believe that reality is more meaningful than the physical one. 

That kind of thing leads to a basic disruption of the categories of ordinary life in the physical world, especially when it passes into political organizing. Whereas it was once obvious that one is male or female -- indeed, one's physical body knows what it is and broadcasts it to everyone else via pheromones -- the departure from the physical reality into the digital one creates an alienation and detachment from the physical constraints. 

Yet the digital identifiers don't carry meaning the way the embodied reality does. 

Whiteness is evil, but deprogram the evil, and whiteness is empty—hollow, meaningless, obsolete. We already see the same experience at work with maleness: deprogram the evil that defines it, according to the vanguard Left, and what is left is a disgusting, disenchanted neuter. Take away fatherhood (patriarchy), priesthood (molestation), military or law enforcement service (racism), business leadership (capitalist greed), and what is left is a civilization of post-boys, autogynephilic, cripplingly awkward, knowingly purposeless....

This leads to a politics, but not one of equality as you might expect. Discovering all previously powerful categories to be empty in the new reality, you might think they would simply be jettisoned in favor of a kind of perfect equality: everyone is the same, they just have different tastes.  As the article goes on to explore, that is not at all what is happening; perhaps, the author suggests, America can salvage what is becoming in the minds of our youth. 

Federalist 46 on the Present Question

Do you need F-15s and nukes to move against the government, or might rifles do in a pinch? The 'blood of patriots and tyrants' bit that Joe Biden is rejecting is from Thomas Jefferson, so let's see what James Madison has to say.

The only refuge left for those who prophecy the downfall of the state governments, is the visionary supposition that the federal government may previously accumulate a military force for the projects of ambition. The reasonings contained in these papers must have been employed to little purpose indeed, if it could be necessary now to disprove the reality of this danger. That the people and the states should for a sufficient period of time elect an uninterrupted succession of men ready to betray both; that the traitors should throughout this period, uniformly and systematically pursue some fixed plan for the extension of the military establishment; that the governments and the people of the states should silently and patiently behold the gathering storm, and continue to supply the materials, until it should be prepared to burst on their own heads, must appear to every one more like the incoherent dreams of a delirious jealousy, or the misjudged exaggerations of a counterfeit zeal, than like the sober apprehensions of genuine patriotism.

OK, well, Madison got that one wrong.  

Extravagant as the supposition is, let it however be made. Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the state governments with the people on their side would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield in the United States an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops.

I've seen this argument floated as recently as this week. How many brigades can be fielded, given that it will take several per city? Having controlled the cities, how will you ensure the food and other logistics that would be required to sustain them will be coming from the countryside? Could you control the countryside instead with the relatively small number of troops under arms, even if they all chose to obey orders rather than revolt against tyranny? 

Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.

Ah, yes. That's come up this week as well. 

And it is not certain that with this aid alone, they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will, and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned, in spite of the legions which surround it. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors.

Madison thinks it's not going to be close. Maybe some of that political prudence I've been suggesting to the government would be wise after all.  

Buck Dancing


If you're not from the Appalachians, you may not know about Buck Dancing. Here's an old gentleman demonstrating. 


Some Useful Outlets on the Right

A general problem facing people on the right who are concerned about the direction of the nation is that most of the power in media lies with their opponents. Even on the right, there is a sharp division; older once-powerful publications like National Review are not as vibrant as once. They still manage sharp criticisms, but their positive program is limited. Thus, I would like to lay out a few places where I think vibrant thought on the right is still occurring. 

One of the best publications working today is The American Mind, which is a production of the Claremont Institute. They have a major section they call "Salvos: The Counterrevolution," which includes important articles on the subject from some dynamic thinkers on the right. Their "Memos" are more diffuse, but touch on numerous important topics. In the other direction, their "Features" include larger-scale projects on different topics of importance. I'm particularly interested in the "Redrawing the Lines" feature, begun by Michael Anton but now including a number of essays on the subject of how America could be improved -- and peacefully -- by a process of re-drawing how states and localities work. I think they may be the best thing going for presenting a positive program of reform.

Human Events was once Reagan's favorite journal of conservative opinion. It has since ceased to publish a print edition, and changed hands a few times. The current leadership is young, daring, and willing to entertain ideas that are both radical and yet aimed at the best in the American tradition. They also have an aggressive editorial staff and process, which aims at ensuring quality of published pieces. That's unusual these days by itself. 

American Greatness is more Trumpist (although VDH publishes there, providing some overlap with NR), but definitely worth following. Julie Kelly (mentioned below) is a voice worthy of attention. She is perhaps the only person who seems committed to fighting for the rights of those arrested regarding the January 6th incursion, initially a dubious proposition made worthy by the inexcusable government behavior in those cases. 

I imagine the field has shifted from publications like these to podcasts, but as you all are aware, I hate podcasts. Useful suggestions welcome in the comments. 

UPDATE: The Federalist is a good place too, more news oriented than the others but still analytical.

There Are No Rogue Gun Dealers

Having spent my adult life among the community, I can state with confidence that I've never met a licensed gun dealer who fits the Biden description. Statistics bear out that this is a non-issue.
A 2016 survey, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics under DOJ, of federal and state inmates found that the overwhelming majority of inmates who used a gun while committing their crimes didn't buy their weapon from a licensed dealer. 

"Among prisoners who possessed a gun during their offense, 90% did not obtain it from a retail source," which includes flea markets and pawn shops, in addition to licensed gun dealers, Department of Justice statisticians noted in a 2019 analysis of that data. Roughly 7% obtained their guns directly from licensed dealers, the analysis noted. 

"Of the approximate 7% that purchased their weapon through an FFL [federal firearms licensee], almost 100% of those sales were completed in compliance with the laws and regulations that govern the sale of a firearm, meaning at the time they purchased the firearm, they were most likely not prohibited from doing so[,]"
I suppose I'd rather they devoted their attention to this issue than others, however, since their renewed attention will produce no substantial changes. 

UPDATE: Inconceivable!

Maoist Self-Criticism in US Federal Court

 "My lawyer has given me names of books and movies to help me see what life is like for others in our country. I’ve learned that even though we live in a wonderful country things still need to improve. People of all colors should feel as safe as I do to walk down the street.”

That passage is part book report, part white privilege mea culpa submitted to a federal court this month by Anna Morgan-Lloyd... 49-year-old grandmother of five... who has a clean criminal record[. She] pleaded guilty to one count of “parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building”—but not before she consented to undergo a reeducation exercise at the urging of her court-appointed lawyer....

Her attorney and the government seem pleased with Lloyd’s reformation. “Though she supported the past president in January, she totally accepts President Biden as the leader of our country,” Shaner wrote to the court. “She has worked hard to come to terms with what she believed before January 6th, 2021 and what she has learned since then.” 

I suppose it is similar to the fake jailhouse conversions lots of prisoners claim to have experienced while awaiting sentencing. The analogy is not exact, of course; there is a substantial change between 'totally accepting the authority of God' and 'totally accepting the authority of Joe Biden.' 

Shame on the government for engaging in this, and shame on the unworthy judge presiding over it. 

UPDATE: Julie Kelly points out that, 'in the other America,' 50% of Portland riot charges have now been dismissed. Nobody's being asked to read defenses of America or capitalism.

This is a perversion of the idea of equality under the law, but it is also a perversion of the whole idea of prosecution of violations of the law. Anti-patriots who wish to destroy America are let to go free; patriots are forced to recant their patriotism in order to receive reduced sentences. The government has become its own enemy. 

Orwell and Diversity

Judicial Watch announced today that it received 111 pages of records from Wellesley Public Schools in Massachusetts which confirm the use of “affinity spaces” that divide students and staff based on race as a priority and objective of the school district’s “diversity, equity and inclusion” plan.

Emphasis added. 

An Enigma Haunts America

Whatever could be behind this mysterious surge in murderous crime, which is striking Democrat-controlled cities all across America? City governments are at a loss. We may never know what is causing this inexplicable thing. 

An Insight on Political Violence

This post from Insty tonight is three years old, but the intervening three years have confirmed this insight
A friend of mine who is a political activist said something interesting the other day, and that was for most people on the left political violence is a knob, and they can turn the heat up and down, with things like protests, and riots, all the way up to destruction of property, and sometimes murder… But for the vast majority of folks on the right, it’s an off and on switch. 

We've seen that rheostat function at work over the last year. BLM/Antifa have gone all the way to setting Federal buildings on fire and burning police stations, sometimes lowering to marches that cut off interstates, sometimes raising to beating people in the streets (or even murder). 

People on the right are still thinking we'll hold some forensic audits, after which we'll have the evidence to pursue a new round of court cases and legislative actions, maybe some elections in 2022 or 2024. Whereas BLM and Antifa enjoy widespread support on the left, the much-smaller right-leaning groups like the Proud Boys are broadly disdained as drunken yahoos rather than ideological allies. 

The switch has still not been flipped. The political right is communitarian. If it flips the switch, it'll flip it all together at once. Church groups and communities, not tiny activist groups, will be the mechanisms. State governments will start lining up with it because, well, what choice would they have? 

That's what keeps them up at night, I guess. There's still time, though, for the government to discover a workable prudence that could let us stumble through all this peacefully. Let those audits happen. Let the court cases occur. Legislative processes are functioning even now. Give it time, government. If you don't force the issue through foolish action, in time it will work itself out. 

A Jacksonian Party

Here is something I wrote in 2004, a very long time ago. I am less sanguine now than once about our ability to reform terror states -- almost successful in Iraq, but not; never close to successful in Afghanistan. Otherwise, I still think the ideas are basically sound.
If it comes to that, I will start a new party myself--I think we will call ourselves the Jacksonian Party. I mean, of course, James Jackson, and therefore a Jeffersonian party; but people who like Andrew Jackson will be welcome too. It's a big tent for American Classical Liberals, and ought to be able to pull from Republicans as well as Democrats. It will be founded on the real, and honorable, left of American culture: Jefferson's vision, which James Jackson shared, and for which he fought so valiantly.
It is that left which does not merely idolize the poor, but upholds them and finds ways to make them powerful. The support of unions is one way. Another is by supporting their right to bear arms, so that they do not rely upon a distant and disinterested state for their personal security or that of their families. Even in the city, the state is distant when the bandit is already in your home. Furthermore, and more importantly, an armed citizen is not merely more independent of the state. He is personally capable of defending the state, the lawful order, and the common peace, wherever he goes. Whether it is felons or terrorists who threaten that order and that peace, he is ready. The disarmed citizen is a ward of the state. The Armed citizen is its guardian. The state is his to uphold.

Another matter: we need a renewed focus on the rights and duties of the citizen, so that the poor will understand the power they already have by statute, but have forgotten how to wield. Consider jury nullification. Special interests may write the laws, but we have every right to make exceptions. The powerful and the rich do not sit in judgement over us: we judge ourselves.

Another matter: the defense and support of small businesses, who are the "Yeoman Farmers" of the city. No man is freer than he who employs himself, whether it is the owner of his own land, or the owner of his own shop. If we are going to fiddle with tax policy, let's fiddle with it in a way that encourages and supports small businesses and farmers.

Another matter: education culture. Private-sector unions are a defense for the poor, but public-sector unions are the enemy of everyone outside themselves. Private-sector unions encourage profit sharing, but there is no profit in the public sector--there is only tax money, which must be drawn from the poor as from the rich, and which is drawn at the point of a gun. Restraining public spending is a civil rights issue. The less money you must send to the government, the more you can use to build your own personal capital, and pull yourself up from poverty.

On the same topic, educators should themselves be educated. This should be a real education on the topic they intend to teach, not an education in "educational theory." No one needs that. By the time they are prepared to teach, they have had the most practical education in educating--they have attended twelve years of public school, four years of college, and have at some point had the practical apprenticeship of being an teacher's aide and a student teacher. They have seen education done for more than a decade, have a number of working models in mind, and have practiced the art themselves. What they need is to know their subject matter. We need historians teaching History, and mathematicians teaching math. A large majority of the public is being educated by people whose knowledge of a given subject is no greater than the textbooks they have been assigned. They can't enlarge upon the text, and they can't tell the students when the text goes wrong.

In foreign policy: we should recognize that international terrorist organizations actually are subject to an existing international law: the law of the sea. Precisely like the roving bands of brigands and pirates of the 1600s and 1700s, they are organized against civilization, travel through multiple jurisdictions and through lawless areas alike. They are not combatants of any state, and are protected therefore by neither the Geneva Conventions nor the rules of war. Like pirates, they are subject to summary execution by the officers of any nation that comes into control of them; or by interrogation and some more merciful response, if we prefer and at our discretion. This brutality on the part of civilized men is justified for the exact reason it was justified of old: the threat these bands pose to the transportation infrastructure is a dagger at the heart of civilization. We cannot maintain our cities, our populations, our ability to combat disease or famine, or our relative freedom from total war over resources, without the massive but fragile transportation capacity we have developed.

This is not idle or of small importance. A small increase in transport costs kills at the margins--for example, aid to Africa is reduced as it is more expensive to transport, but resources are fixed. A large increase threatens civilization itself. Our cities do not contain enough food to feed the populace for more than about three days. That is no problem; more food is coming. But if the ability to transport that food is severely harmed--starvation, and in many regions of the world, disease. A serious disruption could unleash a resource war by nations that see mass starvation if they don't capture food, oil, and other needful things. Such a disruption is possible if these terror groups continue their infiltration of the West, and come into possession of WMD.

For that reason, the reform of terror-sponsor states is paramount. So is the reform of failed states that are not necessarily terror-sponsors, but where terrorists are able to travel freely due to bribes of local officials or through outright lawlessness. So long as we can do so while maintaining an all-volunteer force, the United States ought to feel free to act on these places one by one. This has the practical matter, for a Jacksonian party, of bringing liberty and strength to the poor and unfree abroad exactly as we wish to do at home.

There are other matters, but this is enough for now.

After another nearly two decades of public education, it may be that there are no longer enough Americans who have any idea what the old values were -- let alone who value them. Yet that does not make those values wrong. It simply reinforces what we already know, i.e., our education systems have failed this country comprehensively.

She Coulda Been a Contender

Meet Kuinini ‘Nini’ Manumua, the woman who spent her young life training to go to the Olympics and would have done so this year except she was replaced by a transgender athlete from New Zealand. Nini was competing for Tonga this year, although she has competed for the USA in earlier youth sports having dual nationality. 

I too might be able to compete in the Olympics in the squat event, if only I identified as female. Here's the comparison changing out only male vs. female lifts. 

Doubtless there's some adjustment for age, but setting the female lifting category to 18-23, I still rate better than 99.99% 'of lifters weighing 240 pounds,' which relatively few women do with a high muscle/fat ratio. That's got to be close to the Olympic level (whereas 98% simply is not, and the best lifters outweigh me by quite a bit anyway). 

Better luck in four years. Maybe by then the madness will have passed, and the young lady will still only be 25. 

UPDATE: Shows you what I know about the Olympics, which have never interested me. Apparently they don't do the squat at the Olympics. Who'd have thought you'd leave out the most basic strength lift from competition? But it's not a thing.

Here are some women who are squatting at the top of the game, and as I suspected, the top of the game is in the 600-700 pound range. That's absolutely admirable and they work hard to get there, but the top male range is hundreds of pounds heavier. Either let's throw out the sex/gender divisions once and for all, and let the best man win; or let's keep the women's division for women, who are physically quite different. 

A Footnote to History

Thanks to 9/11, the 1993 attempt to blow up the World Trade Center is little-remembered today. However, at the time it was one of the most significant terror attacks in U.S. history, killing six people and injuring more than a thousand. If the bomb had succeeded in its intended purpose, toppling the North Tower into the South, it might have claimed tens of thousands of lives.

What is even less well-known, though, is that the bomb that nearly murdered tens of thousands was built with the help of an FBI informant

In fairness they usually try to roll people up at the 'I know a guy who can sell you explosives' stage these days.

Ballad of the Grey Berets

It hasn't been written yet, and given the era it will probably be autotuned, but the USAF now has a new kind of elite operator: Special Reconnaissance Airmen, distinguished in uniform by a grey beret.

Late Republic Nonsense

My friend David Reaboi has started a new Substack, which I guess is kind of like a blog and kind of like a subscription newsletter. It's called Late Republic Nonsense, and focuses more on art and culture than on politics. 

Dave is a big mid-century guy and hugely knowledgeable about jazz music especially. Jazz is not one of my interests, although much of it is pleasant enough and I can admire what was involved in the artistry. If it happens to be one of your interests, or if you're simply a lover of mid-20th century culture, cinema, music, and art, you might want to subscribe to Late Republic Nonsense. If you just want to try it out, there's a free option as well. 

Spiraling Violence in American Cities

The decision by prosecutors to increase the prosecution of police while voiding the prosecutions of looters is going to prove disastrous. 

In addition to the new threat of prosecution, police face an increased willingness among the population to simply kill them. Police killed by homicide are up over 40% this year from last year. It's a small denominator, so the big percentage increase only represents an extra eleven homicides. Still, the trend is even more ominous:

2021: 38 homicides
2020: 27 ""
2019: 24 ""
2018: 33 ""
2017: 22 ""

The stats for overall police deaths, higher obviously than deaths by homicide, are at the link. 

This is combined with cultural fragmentation, which is being pursued intentionally by the Federal government not only under the leadership of the current administration but by the bureaucracy even in spite of the Trump administration's attempt at pushback. The result is, inter alia, that this weekend when Juneteenth celebrations collided with Puerto Rico Day celebration, a couple was dragged out of their car and executed in the street. (The video at the link ought to be shocking, but it would be a good idea to watch it to prepare yourselves for what is coming in this country.)

Atlanta's mayor has an answer: the Republicans lifted COVID restrictions too early and also Georgia has lax gun laws in her opinion. They are the same gun laws Georgia has had, though, in what was until recently a two-decade halving of the violent crime rate. The spike in violent crime doesn't appear even to correlate with the lifting of COVID restrictions, but more with the imposition of them. Even that correlation is probably not causative, as the real issue is unrelated.

Readers know that I love the absence of the police locally; there are none, and I want none. That's an effective solution in an environment like this one. Citizens can self-police effectively, free of onerous government regulations and irksome petty laws. 

Cities are another animal. They're an objectively worse place to live, albeit with theaters and better restaurants. Who wants to go to the theater in a war zone, though? 

An Auspicious Day

Today happens to be the summer solstice (just a bit before midnight), Father’s Day, my anniversary, and an important family birthday. My son presented me with this gift for the occasion:

I assume that it needs no introduction in this crowd