Love in the Midwest

I guess there’s something to be said for Texas. 

Navy Beats Army

It’s an upset, but I suppose it’s not a surprise. Army couldn’t even beat Afghanistan this year. 

Language Warning

Today I was traveling down the highway and I turned on the radio -- always a mistake -- and heard some kind of 'country' on the broadcast that was half hip-hop. Now I like hip-hop; there's a lot to admire in the best of it, especially in terms of poetry, although here too I tend to like the older artists than the newer ones. That's probably just generational, or mostly: music in general has been getting objectively worse for a while.

All the same, it reminded me of this Dale Watson tune I haven't posted because of its foul language. I don't know why I try to maintain standards about that; I've long belonged to communities, both here and in Iraq, where good men frequently resorted to strong language. I won't claim that I don't occasionally use it myself for emphasis. Maybe just because it's a marker for standing for something; John Wayne used it once in a while, but only just once in a while when it really belonged.

Anyway, here's Dale, who is a great singer songwriter and has a good point about what's getting sold to us these days.

Instapundit: Self-Described Cabal Must Answer

Ideally, I guess. Good luck making them.

I'd be satisfied if they'd learn a pragmatic lesson. Their way doesn't work. Their idea that they're the right ones to be in charge is therefore manifestly false. I imagine it's hard to let go of power, prestige, and the money that come with them. But they have proven that they are not the right ones to lead. If they could accept that and get out of the way, I'd be happy to waive vengeance. 

Bob Dole Got There First

In his final letter, he anticipated the Babylon Bee. 

Dead Skunks in the Middle of the Road

If you ask Wikipedia, this is a novelty song. But I don't think that's fair. It's a song that celebrates a very common experience on which we do not adequately reflect. There's a big deal about how many animals we kill every year on the highway; and it's a big deal for the skunk. Passing one of these corpses on the road, a motorcyclist at least is inclined to reflect that it's but for the grace of God, as they say, that we go there. 

So good for Loudon Wainwright the Third, which is a very august name for someone singing about dead skunks on the highway. He's from North Carolina, originally, but apparently a hippie family that was mostly about yoga. His business, that. 

Proposed: A Typology of Conspiracies

A woman named Abbie Richards has proposed this typology of conspiracy theories, from wild-sounding things that turn out to be unquestionably true to things she thinks are detached from reality. She has a plausible topline that all the worst ones are anti-Semitic, although I am going to disagreee with one of her examples there.

Now there is going to be some debate about some of these. Obviously she puts 'The Election Was Stolen' in the "dangerous to yourself and others" category, which indeed it may be -- dangerous, that is, to yourself and others. It may nevertheless be true. I'm sure she doesn't believe it is at all true, but I think that some versions of that theory are not only plausible but likely. We've discussed that at length here: it definitely appears that the election was conducted illegally and unconstitutionally, and in ways that disabled fraud protections. Every audit or hearing in every affected state has found numbers of probably or definitely fraudulent votes well outside the margin of victory, and a Time magazine article has interviewed those who hired 'armies' of partisan poll workers to count votes.

So I'd say that one is no higher than blue, at least in some forms. The forms being put forward by some people who allege secret servers in Italy or wherever may well be much less well-grounded.

In her top category, I would dispute that the use of the phrase "Cultural Marxism" is necessarily anti-Semitic, and definitely not a conspiracy theory. Most people who use the phrase probably don't actually know who the Frankfurt school members are, or that they were Jews. More, they're not objecting to anything essentially Jewish about the school: they're objecting to the Marxism, which is formally material atheism. 

And it's not a conspiracy theory that these people existed and published works expressing thoughts and ideas that could be fairly characterized as a sort of Marxism applied to cultural issues. You can go read the books at the library. Objecting to a set of published ideas is not a conspiracy theory, and it's not anti-Semitic if your objection is to the ideas and not the people (who aren't all that Jewish anyway if they're Marxists, which involves a denial of the God of Israel). 

Broadly, though, I think she's not too far off. Tim Pool points out that she had to drop "Bill Gates is Microchipping People' because that one turns out to be true; sadly, instead of moving it to the green sector she left it off the list. It's an interesting and useful idea, trying to sort these in terms of which ones are really true, plausibly true, or wildly untrue. What do you think about all this? Are there any you'd move up, or down, on the chart?

UPDATE: On reflection, I think there are several top level items that are in no way essentially anti-Jewish; a few of them are barely or not conspiracy theories. There’s definitely a push by trans activists, who clearly do have an agenda; you can object to the ideas they’re advancing without ever having a thought about Jews enter your mind. They’re not even obviously related topics, since Judaism has a traditional sexual law very similar to Catholicism and not all that different from Islam. So this topline category may need examination. 

That’s a Bold Strategy, Cotton

Biden administration to advise Ukraine to surrender disputed territories to Russia. 

A Sword of Orkney

Not in the best of shape after a thousand years, but they can do a lot with X-rays now. 

Technically A Subversive Message

A boat in a holiday parade is disqualified for “an overt political message.”

Conan the Existantialist

Another essay on REH’s Barbarian, this one by a British comedian. Well, and a general appreciation for Howard’s work:
The Jacobean 1936 cowboy yarn The Vultures of Whapeton is, as John Clute points out in the introduction to Penguin’s Heroes In The Wind selection, “ostensibly a Western tale but… we are left with a sense of the profound entrapping starkness of the world … the tale systematically strips every character of any pretence that their ‘civilisation’ is anything but a sham.”

Its not as good as Joel’s but it’s another perspective— and one that tries to be fair.  

Brooks: "Conservatism is Dead"

David Brooks has penned an article in which he tries to explain what he understands the great conservative thinkers to be saying, and why he thinks contemporary Republicans are far from their philosophical roots. This sort of project is nearly always worthwhile -- understanding any of the grand philosophical traditions, I mean, whether you end up agreeing with it or not. 

It strikes me that Brooks sees conservatism as having two specific insights that I tend to think of as being in competition rather than alignment. 

1) The first of these is against central planning: the kind of order that arises naturally from freedom will pragmatically work better than any centrally planned effort, no matter how well-intentioned. This is the insight that favors capitalism over communism, local control over central control, etc. I would not necessarily call this strain 'conservative,' although conservatives often do approve of free(r) markets: but insofar as it is to be so named, it is because it is an observation about how reality works and an acceptance of the limits it imposes on us. Even if you want to help people, you have to recognize that government can't do it very well and will usually make things worse if it tries too hard. It is better to allow people to be free to help themselves, and thus un-directed by central institutions.

2) The second insight -- which I would have tended to describe as 'conservative' more than the first one -- is that people are shaped by institutions, and it is therefore important that these institutions be kept healthy and effective. Brooks is right to note that the Marine Corps makes Marines because it trains the whole mind and body, and as an institution it upholds and enforces certain values. The Catholic Church used to be the standard example here: it has a moral doctrine, training facilities, rituals, sacraments, and other things that raise children and turn them into Catholics. In turn, the whole of what we call 'the West' ends up having been in a sense the product of the Church, such as she once was.

The way I've set this up, you can see why I think of these as being in tension with each other. One of these traditions warns against grand institutions of significant power over human life; the other tradition goes about trying to set them up and empower them over very broad swathes of life. 

For Brooks, the hinge that holds them together is a distrust of human reason.
One camp, which we associate with the French Enlightenment, put its faith in reason. Some thought a decent social order can be built when primitive passions like religious zeal are marginalized and tamed; when individuals are educated to use their highest faculty, reason, to pursue their enlightened self-interest; and when government organizes society using the tools of science.

Another camp, which we associate with the Scottish or British Enlightenment of David Hume and Adam Smith, did not believe that human reason is powerful enough to control human selfishness; most of the time our reason merely rationalizes our selfishness. They did not believe that individual reason is powerful enough even to comprehend the world around us, let alone enable leaders to engineer society from the top down. “We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason, because we suspect that this stock in each man is small,” Burke wrote in Reflections on the Revolution in France.
It's not just selfishness that is the problem: as Brooks noted in his opening, central planning does not work even in cases where the very best intentions are involved. Brooks names the public housing crisis, which ended up being a nightmare in which people were trapped. You will recall, dear reader, our reading of Plato's Laws last winter: the final institution the Athenian wanted to set up was a nocturnal secret police council with plenary power over all aspects of citizen lives, to force them to live the virtuous lives that were surely going to be the happiest of all possible lives -- in the best of all possible communities, one designed from the ground up to produce happy and virtuous people.

So this is conservatism as he understands it, which he calls 'true' conservatism: a humble and modest arrangement that recognizes our limits, builds institutions but changes them only slowly, and trusts that our parents and grandparents passed on wise arrangements for the most part. Don't try to plan a whole society; let the church do part of the work, the family another, the Marine Corps a third, and the government strictly speaking a very small portion where it is absolutely necessary.

Now our institutions are looking pretty sick these days, but that's not the part that bothers Brooks. The part that bothers him is that conservatism turns out to be immoral and anti-American -- at least in his telling. First he identifies flaws within conservative tendencies:
I realized that every worldview has the vices of its virtues. Conservatives are supposed to be epistemologically modest—but in real life, this modesty can turn into a brutish anti-intellectualism, a contempt for learning and expertise. Conservatives are supposed to prize local community—but this orientation can turn into narrow parochialism, can produce xenophobic and racist animosity toward immigrants, a tribal hostility toward outsiders, and a paranoid response when confronted with even a hint of diversity and pluralism. Conservatives are supposed to cherish moral formation—but this emphasis can turn into a rigid and self-righteous moralism, a tendency to see all social change as evidence of moral decline and social menace. Finally, conservatives are supposed to revere the past—but this reverence for what was can turn into an abject deference to whoever holds power.
Then he charges American conservatism with being a kind of contradiction in terms, because 'America' as he sees it is about change and dynamism, and conservatism is about looking backwards to the best of our history.
I confess that I’ve come to wonder if the tension between “America” and “conservatism” is just too great. Maybe it’s impossible to hold together a movement that is both backward-looking and forward-looking, both in love with stability and addicted to change, both go-go materialist and morally rooted.
So here we come to the part that he would have been better off not having written, which is the part where he tries to talk about Donald Trump. Brooks and his class hate Trump so much that they can't see him remotely clearly. Brooks charges Trump with being backward-looking ("Make America Great Again") but doesn't see that Trump is the one who forced through the Space Force. Brooks cites Reagan's "Star Wars" program as an example of the kind of thing he likes, but can't see that this man he doesn't like was at the forefront of the same kind of program to force the slow-evolving military to make strides in space.

Thus, I'm going to ignore the parts about Trump and talk about the other aspect: conservative immorality.
Conservatism makes sense only when it is trying to preserve social conditions that are basically healthy. America’s racial arrangements are fundamentally unjust. To be conservative on racial matters is a moral crime. 
Now as I was saying a moment ago, I think a lot of our institutions are badly damaged at this point. Conservativism only makes sense when it is trying to preserve healthy conditions, including healthy institutions. Maybe you don't think race is the area where it's inherently immoral to try to conserve things, but it should be easy to see the point by picking an example of an unhealthy institution whose preservation actively causes harm. The Federal government is full of them; pick your favorite one, and you can see the logic of the point he is making even if you disagree about race in America. 

I'm not quite sure what he intends to capture when he says 'to be conservative on race,' except that he then cites William F. Buckley. I agree that trying to return to 1960s social structures around race would be a moral crime; but I'm not aware of anyone who wishes to do that, nor any argument for doing it being made by anyone anywhere. The heat of our discussions about race masks the fact that mostly people want to do right by each other, as per a recent discussion:
Grim: The thing about CRT that people don't get is that it has to be false to be functional. If America were really a racist plot, pointing out the ways that its structures keep down black people wouldn't have any effect. Nobody in the Jim Crow South was going to be shocked or moved by pointing out that grandfather clauses and such depressed the black vote: everyone understood that was the whole purpose of them.

So when CRT comes up with a criticism of American society being unfair and Americans rush to fix it, that is itself proof that the assumptions of CRT are false. And good that they are. Americans are mostly decent people who want to treat each other decently, and will try to be fair wherever they can see a fair way.
There is a sense, then, that being unwilling to change -- or wedded to institutions that are no longer healthy and wise -- can be inherently immoral. I do not think this is nearly the problem that Brooks does, partly because human nature includes death. There is simply no possibility of continuing forever along the same line, because the people who grew up with conditions that made that line seem sensible die and younger people have known other problems. Even in strict institutions, there is always a sense of changing (or falling away, to put it more conservatively: to return to the Marine Corps, every generation of it speaks of how the Old Corps was versus how soft it is now, though probably no one really wants to go back to Vietnam War era brutality by drill instructors, even if they think they might like to return to 1990s-era levels). 

Brooks also says that economics has played a role in the decline of American conservatism, where he is suddenly seeing the tension I opened with between the two strands he is trying to tie together. 
The right’s focus shifted from wisdom and ethics to self-interest and economic growth. As George F. Will noted in 1984, an imbalance emerged between the “political order’s meticulous concern for material well-being and its fastidious withdrawal from concern for the inner lives and moral character of citizens.” The purpose of the right became maximum individual freedom, and especially economic freedom, without much of a view of what that freedom was for, nor much concern for what held societies together.
In fact this tension strikes me as much more basic, and explains why those ideas don't naturally belong together. Conservatives who really believe in (1) can tolerate institutions only insofar as they are absolutely free to join or leave them (even if you only get to choose every four years, in the case of the USMC). It does not make sense to set up powerful overarching institutions to shape character if they are going to display the kind of benightedness characteristic of large bureaucracies. Families should be free from state control as much as possible, in every way possible. If they find an institution valuable, like a church, they can join it and stay in it for as long as it continues to be useful to them. 

(This is why I have come to think of myself as less a conservative and more of an anarchist, as Tolkien said of himself when he was getting older. The more I see of institutions, the less I think they can be trusted -- at least at scale, when it gets beyond you and a few of your friends from the community who see eye-to-eye. I can think of very few of our national institutions that have not become corrupted, as have our major cities and many state governments -- and, well, many small towns and local governments too. Keeping these things as small as possible, and as weak as possible, at least has the benefit of limiting the power of corruption over everyone's life. But this is meant to be about Brooks' essay, not my own thoughts.)

What Brooks says is the biggest decline in conservatism he calls "spiritual," although he does not mean religious at all. He means that we aren't as patriotic as once. He correctly sees that as a result of a movement from the left at once to denigrate and dominate American institutions: 
For centuries, American and British conservatives were grateful to have inherited such glorious legacies, knew that there were sacred things to be preserved in each national tradition, and understood that social change had to unfold within the existing guardrails of what already was. 
By 2016, that confidence was in tatters. Communities were falling apart, families were breaking up, America was fragmenting. Whole regions had been left behind, and many elite institutions had shifted sharply left and driven conservatives from their ranks.

Oddly, though, his criticism is not for those who are denigrating or destroying American institutions, while purging them of their ideological enemies. He is offended by those who wanted to fight back, which he sees as dirty and ugly, a 'shadow conservatism' unlike his own. "As long as the warrior ethos dominates the GOP, brutality will be admired over benevolence, propaganda over discourse, confrontation over conservatism, dehumanization over dignity."

(I will pause for the laughter to die down at the idea that the GOP politicians are dominated by a warrior ethos.)

This is where Brooks, like David French, have lost their ability to relate to the ordinary people in the American conservative movement. Brooks now says he will be a moderate Democrat; French we discussed recently. Ultimately they would rather not fight for the culture, thinking it ugly to do so. It's a focus on 'toughness' for French; it is 'volkish' politics for Brooks (a strange thing to claim in nearly the same breath as noticing that American conservatives he dislikes admire Viktor Orban, who shares no volk with almost any of them). 

Ultimately a more useful reflection might begin with the question of what one ought to do in the face of a long, disciplined assault on your beloved legacy. If conservatism can only be moral if it has a healthy set of institutions to preserve, such undermining ought to be seen as a serious problem. At some point it does make the project of conservation unsustainable; maybe we're over the wall on that already. As they destroy statues of Lincoln and Washington as well as Jefferson or Robert E. Lee, as they purge not just universities or newspapers but every major corporation of once-ordinary expressions of American patriotism, well of course over time people are going to feel besieged. They are besieged. 

One might try to fight for them to have a space within these institutions to be as they were without being driven out or destroyed. If that won't happen, well, then the institutions are going to cross the line beyond which they cannot and ought not be defended -- if, indeed, they haven't already. 

One might also try to set up new institutions. This is sometimes suggested as a voluntary project like the Benedict Option, and other times as a more emphatic program like the Declaration of Independence option. This, though, would require more of a warrior ethics (an actual one, in fact) than any of the combative language that bothers Brooks. 

That is not a concern for him, though, as he has left the program. Ultimately I think he made a key error in his understanding of conservative philosophy, but an even worse one in his understanding of just what kind of response is required for what he calls the 'spiritual' problem. If America isn't worth fighting for with a warrior ethic, what is? Your church? Only your family and friends? Where will you find enough friends, then, to make a stand?

Projecting Weakness

The NYT is worried that the Biden administration is projecting weakness on Ukraine and elsewhere. That's true, although I find their description of the causes a little wild-eyed.
If you were a foreign leader hostile to the United States — sitting in, say, Moscow or Beijing — how would you view the U.S. today?

You would know that it has conducted two largely failed wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, over the past 20 years and that many Americans have no interest in fighting another faraway conflict with a fuzzy connection to national security.

You would know that the U.S. itself can’t seem to decide how strongly it feels about democracy, with a former president and his allies around the country mimicking the playbook of autocrats willing to subvert election results.

And you would know that the U.S. is so politically polarized that many voters and members of Congress may not rally around a president even during a foreign crisis. Americans, after all, have reacted to the pandemic with division and anger, which has fueled widespread refusal to take lifesaving vaccines and continuing chaos in schools.

Given all of this, you might not be feeling especially intimidated by the U.S.
So, the weakness is coming from the military and the political right, is it? Not from the White House at all?

Well, as to 'can't seem to decide how strongly it feels about democracy,' a hearing in Wisconsin today is revealing that there are serious problems with the practice of democracy there -- problems that citizen journalists are bringing to your attention, because the news media (including the NYT) refuses to discuss it. Just exactly the Americans they are implying 'may not care about democracy' are the ones most personally and vigorously trying to bring about accountability to this system so that democracy might be restored. 

A handful of legislators in the affected states are beating themselves black and blue to try to fix the problems with our democracy. I've been writing about the problems with voting machines since 2018. There is every reason to believe that the system is being badly run on purpose, just because of a desire by the powerful to subvert election results -- and not by protesting them or even rioting about them, but by inserting fake votes into the system in large enough numbers to overturn the lawful results. 

The military, meanwhile, turns out to be very badly led. This is astonishing, in a way, because for so long it looked like the last functional organization in the Federal government. Yet in another way it is unsurprising: in 1998, The Pentagon Wars mocked the corrupt and broken military acquisition process. This has only worsened with time.
While China builds its fleet at a rapid pace, lead ships of new U.S. Navy classes have had lengthy delays. To provide perspective, from Pearl Harbor to the surrender of Japan was 1,375 days. As of Nov. 29, 2021, it has been 1,885 days since Zumwalt was commissioned and 1,601 days since Ford was commissioned and neither has deployed.
Partly that lack of deployability comes from the fact that the Navy continues to tinker with the mission, exactly the way that the Bradly Fighting Vehicle became... well, something very different from what it was supposed to be.

Nevertheless the military is made of of very fine fighting men and women, who have carried out every mission they were asked to execute even with poorly designed fighting vehicles or ships that have no ammunition for their main gun. Oh, didn't I mention that aspect of the Zumwalt class? Yeah, there's no ammo for it. Actually there soon will be no guns, either; the Navy is ripping them out, even though they were the original design feature the destroyer was built around.

These fine fighting men and women won every conflict at or above the squad level in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The disastrous withdrawals from both places -- the Afghan one more spectacularly disastrous, but the Iraq withdrawal also badly managed and leading to the rise of ISIS -- were the fault of higher headquarters, the White House, and the State Department. (Particularly in Iraq's case, State failures were at the core of why that withdrawal was mismanaged, precipitous, and led to instability.) The actual boys on the ground performed extremely well for two decades, but looking at their leadership has to be emboldening for Beijing and Moscow.

It's going to be a tough few years for American allies like Taiwan, or even Japan or South Korea. If we do want to help Taiwan, we should begin by convincing Taiwan to pass a Second Amendment -- and then start shipping them rifles. If every man and woman were armed, it would be a lot less digestible for a hungry China.  Ukraine is on its own, in spite of American promises to the contrary. There's no way that this leadership is going to bail them out, or even could if it wanted to try.

UPDATE: That Wisconsin hearing produced smoking gun evidence of a cash-for-get-out-the-vote scheme; 157,000 voters have the same voter registration number. 

Guy Clark

Strangely I don't think I've ever mentioned Guy Clark before, or put up any of his music. Spotify came up with these two songs in a daily playlist for me, and I got to thinking how interesting the music is. The first one is a simple story about a man who loves a woman honestly, which is the best and only real way to love; the second is about leaving the city. It reminds me of an exchange from Paint Your Wagon. Lee Marvin's character says, "There’s two kinds of people, them goin’ somewhere and them goin’ nowhere,'" drawing an objection from the mayor until he explains that going to a place that could be called nowhere was the desirable part. 

UPDATE: This one goes nicely with the last post. 

Technology Worsens

In general we expect technology to improve over time. However, there are examples of older technologies that are actually superior to what replaced them, in some ways or in total. The appliances of my grandfather's generation may still be chugging along, but nothing built since the 1970s lasts so long. Some people would say that record players produce superior experiences of music compared with tape decks or CDs or even digital recordings. The automatic transmission is a miraculous technology, but there's something to be said for a stick shift. 

Sometimes, technology worsens on purpose.
Buried deep within the massive infrastructure legislation recently signed by President Joe Biden is a little-noticed “safety” measure that will take effect in five years. Marketed to Congress as a benign tool to help prevent drunk driving, the measure will mandate that automobile manufacturers build into every car what amounts to a “vehicle kill switch.”

As has become standard for legislative mandates passed by Congress, this measure is disturbingly short on details. What we do know is that the “safety” device must “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”...

First, use of the word “passively” suggests the system will always be on and constantly monitoring the vehicle. Secondly, the system must connect to the vehicle’s operational controls, so as to disable the vehicle either before driving or during, when impairment is detected. Thirdly, it will be an “open” system, or at least one with a backdoor, meaning authorized (or unauthorized) third-parties can remotely access the system’s data at any time.

I definitely do not want one of these. I don't really want a car that thinks for itself at all. Anti-lock brakes are great and all, but almost everything that can be computerized on a car does not need to be and -- in my opinion -- ought not to be.  Cars can still do everything a car needs to do without a computer hooked to it.

An example of an older, superior technology.

The FBI Is At It Again

This is a friendly story to the accused and at a friendly outlet, but the FBI hasn't exactly been racking up reasons to trust them just lately. 

We really should repeal that law. It's been widely misapplied for political purposes for years now. 

(H/t: D29)

Puppet stage II

I finished the second of the puppet stages. They're dry enough now that I can spray both of them with an archival non-yellowing varnish and get them packed and shipped to Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, my attention has turned to painting a series of Christmas tree ornaments with animals playing musical instruments, of which I've completed these two. They're about 3 inches wide.

Pearl Harbor Day

We remember in honor of our parents or grandparents. When we are gone, maybe our children will remember. Once our ancestors did mighty things in response to a great provocation. It was long ago now, but they were great deeds. 


This bears some looking into. It's not the "dark side," by the way. The Moon doesn't have a dark side any more than the Earth does. It has a side that's permanently facing Earth and one that's permanently not, but all surfaces of the Moon have two weeks of day alternating with two weeks of night.

...and Bob Wills Music

 I never have had Lone Star Beer. I need to rectify that before I die. 

Panic in Washington

Claire McCaskill nags the Justice Department to hurry up and prosecute Trump for something so he can't run again. 

That doesn't sound like someone who is confident about the future. Using prosecution as a political weapon is tyrannical, something that one would wisely reflect on long before beginning. She doesn't want reflection. She wants haste.

Oh, That’s Mean

BB: “Bob Dole Switches To Democrat Party."

Ongoing Genocide

We hear so much about slavery in the 19th century, racism in American history, and the genocide versus the Native Americans. Yet there is an ongoing genocide in China, and it draws half measures at best

If you think this kind of thing is evil and want to fight it, fight the one you could possibly stop. The one that's happening right this second. That one. 


Scientists begin to get excited.

One-way lurch setting

Powerline recently posted a video by the newest "mini-Trump" French presidential candidate, an immigration skeptic (i.e., racist omniphobe unperson) about whom the bien-pensants are in full meltdown mode. Today's followup notes the NYT's somber warnings:
The Times considers it paradoxical that a Jew of North African descent whose ancestors arrived in France only 70 years ago should be a French nationalist. These same journalists can’t understand why most Hispanic American citizens are hostile toward illegal immigration.
Already this man without a party has illustrated just how far France has lurched to the right.
As a friend notes, no one ever lurches to the left.

Daddy Was

Wasn’t he just?

Col. Shames, Last of WWII "Band of Brothers," Passes

According to Breitbart:

Col. Edward Shames, final surviving member of the World War II parachute infantry regiment known as the “Band of Brothers” which inspired the HBO miniseries and book of the same name, died Friday. He was 99.

According to his obituary posted by the Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory and quoted by Breitbart:

He made his first combat jump into Normandy on D-Day as part of Operation Overlord. He volunteered for Operation Pegasus and then fought with Easy Company in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne.


When Germany surrendered, Ed and his men of Easy Company entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest where Ed managed to acquire a few bottles of cognac, a label indicating they were ‘for the Fuhrer’s use only.’ Later, he would use the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah.

Here is Col. Shames talking about his experiences:


I'm not much impressed with David French lately; his criticism of Kyle Rittenhouse showed that he doesn't understand citizenship, let alone heroism. In his latest piece, though, he raises a reasonable point: his sort did fairly well during the Cold War, in contests with the Soviets, and advanced the ball to some degree for a time during the Reagan era in other ways as well. 

Sadly, he then departs into a criticism of toughness as a masculine virtue. Worse, he decides to fight it from the (friendly to Atlantic readers) ground of criticizing Donald Trump. This is a sideshow; the discussion that is worth having is whether or not the elite approach to conflict with the left is still capable of advancing any balls, or indeed if it has any to advance.

This is the meat of the argument, dispensing with that part that is personal criticism.
Indeed, the logic of the movement presses toward direct action. If you tell enough people that the future of the country is at stake, that their political opponents have corrupted democracy, and that only the truly tough have what it takes to save the nation, then speeches about unmanly ideologies will never be enough. Trolling on Twitter will, ironically, come to look like a hollow remedy, itself a form of weakness.

Thus we see the increased prevalence of open-carried AR-15s at public protests, the increased number of unlawful threats hurled at political opponents, and outbreaks of actual political violence, including the large-scale violence of January 6.

One of the most dangerous developments in our contentious times has been a growth in radical ideologies bolstered by radical intellectuals who often treat decency and even peace as impediments to justice. The riots that ripped through American cities were inexcusable expressions of political fury (and sometimes pure nihilism) that were too often rationalized, excused, and sometimes even celebrated. The author and academic Freddie deBoer has compiled a depressing list of articles, essays, and interviews in prominent publications excusing and justifying violent civil unrest.

The right-wing cult of toughness, in its distinctly Trumpist version, is no exception to this trend. When it is drained of limiting principles and tied to a man who would rather seek to upend our nation’s constitutional order than relinquish power, then the threat to the republic is plain. That threat will remain until the supposedly weak classical liberals on the left and the right do what they’ve always done at their best—rally in defense of liberty, the rule of law, and the American order itself.
I'm not sure what to make of the treatment here. David French doesn't like AR-15s; well, he's wrong there, but the open carry of them at protests is being done on both sides. These demonstrations look very different. In Richmond, VA in 2018 some 22,000 armed citizens showed up to protest a raft of gun rights infringements proposed by the governor. As no less than Reuters reports, "Despite fears that neo-Nazis or other extremists would piggyback on the Richmond rally to stoke unrest... [there was] just one arrest, a 21-year-old woman taken into custody for wearing a bandana over her face after twice being warned that masks were not allowed."

On the left, just a week ago we saw masked men with guns openly intimidating a jury in Georgia -- not, as it turned out, that it was necessary. They would have gotten their way without such things. Yet here, too, French is missing the point. He wants to equate the January 6th riot with the whole history of riots across America, and the ongoing lawlessness. We already know that January 6th featured many Federal informants and agents, though, actively encouraging violent acts -- and a Capitol Police force of 2,000 who did not deploy adequate forces, and a National Guard that stood aside for reasons yet to be revealed. 

Ultimately, the government ought to live in fear of what the citizens might do if it misbehaves. That's the only way to avoid governments that are ready to engage in democide and concentration camps. They should worry the whole time they are in power about what we might do if they cross the line. Then, perhaps, they might govern within the lines instead of well outside them.

Citizens still need to be accountable for how they protest, with arms or without. All the same, as the Declaration of Independence states, we ultimately have the right to do away with this or any government if it betrays its duty. It is wise and proper that this right is backed up by the means to make it real.

Single Action

If you're following the Alec Baldwin story, what he's saying about what happened doesn't make much sense. The weapon he used to shoot the two women was a single action revolver. I carry these myself sometimes, especially for horseback riding when there's just a chance I might get thrown if the horse should panic (which might be occasioned by a stick on the trail it mistakes for a snake, horses being unreasonable animals). The modern single action revolver is about the safest firearm you can carry. It will not go off by accident.

This is because you have to cock the hammer before the trigger does any useful thing. Once the hammer is cocked, the trigger has to be used to release the hammer to decock the revolver, or to fire it. But until it is cocked, the revolver isn't going to do anything at all unless you throw it in a fire.

The only way the revolver might have fired without him pulling the trigger is if a sear broke internally, but that's almost impossible. These things are made out of cold-rolled steel.