"An Originalist Victory"

 From City Journal

Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are no more. Like Plessy v. Ferguson before them, Roe and Casey were constitutionally and morally indefensible from the day they were decided, yet they endured for generations, becoming the foundation of a mass political movement that did all it could to prevent their overruling. Thus, like the overruling of Plessy, the overruling of Roe and Casey was by no means inevitable; it was the result of a half-century of disciplined, persistent, and prudent political, legal, and religious effort. The victory in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was earned by the coalition of teachers and students, priests and parishioners, lawyers and politicians, who, through efforts as humble as parish potlucks and as prominent as federal litigation, brought about the most important legal and human rights achievement in America since Brown v. Board of Education.

The analogy I would have thought more proper is to Dred Scott. The twin abortion decisions adopted a similar logic, after all: that there was a class of human beings, X, whose rights or interests another class of human beings, Y, did not have to respect. Rather, Y as a class was entitled to dispose of a member of X in whom they stood in the right kind of ownership relation in order to further their own interests. "My body, my choice" as a slogan disposes of the idea that there is another body to be considered, or another being: it asserts that only the one kind of being really exists or really matters.

All my life I have heard versions of the argument that only women should really be consulted about abortion: "No uterus, no opinion." Yet to accept this is to make a core philosophical error, one warned against since at least Aristotle: no one should serve as the judge in their own case. Women are of course very deeply interested in the disposition of this question of abortion rights. It is that very interest that makes it hard for them to render a just verdict, which by the nature of justice ought to be disinterested. The Viking-age hero Egil Skallagrimsson, offered the opportunity to judge in his own case, settled everything in favor of his family; here, everything was settled by class Y in the interest of class Y, and the interests of class X were completely obliterated. Abortion was acceptable all the way to the moment of birth, and arguments were increasingly being offered that it really ought to be acceptable even after. 

Now the matter remains unsettled, but it is at least open to the people -- all the people, and not only the interested class -- to debate and consider how to proceed. This seems to me to be right and proper. In this matter I have no more say than any other citizen; I can offer philosophical accounts of what seems right, but each of you will have to judge and vote and advocate accordingly. It will doubtless be done in ways I think wrong, as is usually true on every question, because democracy depends on a common opinion and the opinions of most people are not generally given to philosophical rigor. 

Yet at least it will be the common sense of communities that decides this question, and not that of an interested class or an elite among the judiciary. Perhaps few will prove to be truly disinterested; likely different communities will arrive at widely different judgments. Such is life. Justice is more likely, all the same, now that the matter is before the people broadly and not only the few.

Irony and Qatari Perfidy

Al Jazeera English is at least partially an information operation designed to divide America, one of several such operations being run by the nation of Qatar. This nation presents itself as an ally of the United States, but it is constantly working to harm us and advance its own interests. 

The beauty of being a propaganda operation is that you don't have to have any devotion to consistency or principle; any stick will do to beat your opponent. Consider this feminist writing against her own country in this particular outlet:
In a tribute to the tight weave of religious fanaticism, patriotism, and similarly noxious elements in a country supposedly predicated on the separation of church and state.... Again, the “taking of innocent human life” has long been America’s game – just Google the words “US bombs hospital in Afghanistan”. Of course, there has been plenty of innocent post-embryonic life taken on the domestic scene, as well – and not just in extrajudicial police killings of Black people and Native Americans. As it turns out, poverty is also deadly in the US.
Now Qatar infamously shelters Muslim Brotherhood leadership and serves as a workaround/agent for the Iranian mullahs, with whom they share certain economic interests related to the natural gas field they both sit atop. They thus enable religious fanaticism and the terrorism associated with (and funded by) it. 

Meanwhile, they actually enslave the majority of their population: 88% of the people who live in Qatar are 'contract labor,' often contracted under false promises and with their passports seized. Poverty can be fatal anywhere, but in Qatar the poor are worked to death in the heat. Being an ethnic minority in Qatar likewise entails being a slave. 

Nor will one prosper greatly as a feminist in Qatar, not to put too fine a point on it. Not unless you're a useful tool for propaganda, that is

The description of patriotism as a 'noxious element' is a sign of mental unhealth, but in addition it is deeply ironic in Al Jazeera, which exists to serve the patriotic purpose of pursuing its homeland's national interests. 

I suppose this sort of person has always been with us; Lenin spoke about them and how useful they were. Still, the lack of self-awareness and the inability to recognize irony is stunning.

Ethnographic Arms

Via Raven, a thread of remarkable photography. The Arabs in particular often have romantic forms of dress and armament, but the photos are all interesting.

Cowardly law firms

I wish these guys well in their new firms.

End of Roe

I have not had a chance to read the decision yet, let alone the concurrences and dissent, but if you wish to discuss it in the meantime here is a space.

UPDATE: The Justice Department is appalled and determined to do everything it can to oppose this decision.

UPDATE: Seen on FB.

Electoral Fraud, or Good Governance?

If you've been following the January 6th hearings -- which I have, dutifully -- you are aware that they have become a pageant of establishment Republicans and career bureaucrats lining up to support the Democratic establishment's narrative. The media has also lined up to help; it was the lead story in the Washington Post and NYT this morning, although even the WSJ and the LA Times could barely bother to notice it. Trump's claims are 'baseless,' 'false,' and 'unfounded'; and his attempt to get the Justice Department to look at them is 'an attempt to corrupt the Justice Department' and an attack on democracy (although it's hard to imagine what else a President should do who really believes a crime has been committed than to ask the police to look into it; or how much less corrupt one could easily be than to accept their refusal to pursue it and give over to the other guy as scheduled).

The idea that the election was not illegally and therefore unconstitutionally conducted is so rooted and reinforced that one might begin to doubt the evidence of one's eyes. However, D29 points out that the evidence of one's eyes continues if one knows where to look.

  • In the midst of a labor crisis, the Department of Labor boasted that it was turning 2,300 American Job Centers previously focused on helping displaced workers find jobs into hubs of political activism. These new federally funded voter registration agencies were given guidance about how to bring in organizations to conduct “voter outreach.”
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services likewise announced plans to turn community health centers into voter registration agencies, using thousands of health care facilities to focus on voter registration and turnout.
  • The Housing and Urban Development Department sent notice to public housing authorities that they should begin voter registration drives and participation activities. Previously, officials had been barred from electoral activities because they receive federal funding.
  • “It is presumed residents of public housing might disproportionately vote Democrat. … The executive order targets people receiving government benefits who might think their benefits depend on one party in power,” Stewart Whitson, legal director for the Foundation for Government Accountability, told the Daily Signal.
  • The Department of Education sent “dear colleague” letters to universities, telling them that Federal Work Study funds could now be used to support voter registration activities, contrary to previous guidance. The change was made without having gone through any rulemaking process to allow the change.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it’s using its child nutrition programs to push voter registration and enlisting state, local, and federally funded employees to implement voter registration drives in local schools.
  • The Commerce Department produced a massive, 113-page report which likely took four agency officials many hours to generate. It directs local voting board members about polling stations and poll worker training.

Of course it is good that citizens should vote, if they are interested, engaged and educated -- and if indeed they really exist, and are in fact citizens. There's nothing in principle wrong with voter education and registration; it could be good governance. Yet it does look like the safeguards are being voided once again, and activity previously forbidden on ethical grounds is becoming mandatory. 

"With Nation Divided"

The AP is not outright activist as CNN has become, but this reporting is tendentious.
In a major expansion of gun rights after a series of mass shootings, the Supreme Court said Thursday that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, a ruling likely to lead to more people legally armed. The decision came out as Congress and states debate gun-control legislation.

About one-quarter of the U.S. population lives in states expected to be affected by the ruling, which struck down a New York gun law. The high court’s first major gun decision in more than a decade split the court 6-3, with the court’s conservatives in the majority and liberals in dissent.

Across the street from the court, lawmakers at the Capitol sped toward passage of gun legislation prompted by recent massacres in Texas, New York and California. Senators cleared the way for the measure, modest in scope but still the most far-reaching in decades.

Also Thursday, underscoring the nation’s deep divisions over the issue, the sister of a 9-year-old girl killed in the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, pleaded with state lawmakers to pass gun legislation.

It's already a problem to link the court case to the actions in the legislatures. The court wasn't ruling on 'guns' per se, but on a particular controversy brought before it that has nothing to do with the particular bloody shirt the reporter wants to wave. The issue was specifically about law-abiding citizens who belonged to a shooting club, all of whom have perfectly exemplary records as citizens, who objected to not being able to transport their firearms for shooting matches and similar purposes. 

The legislatures can consider the one matter, the court was asked to consider a particular other matter. It ended up doing so on principled grounds that apply broadly, but there is no reason that a court case arising from the facts in New York city five years ago should be decided based on the passions of a moment in time five years later. 

Also, why would this ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States only affect states containing "about one-quarter of the U.S. population"? Rulings by this court affect all states and all Americans. 

What the reporter means to say is that only one-quarter of the population lives in states that don't already comply with the general principle that you can carry a firearm in public as an ordinary matter. That means that three-quarters of us already do live with the rules the Supreme Court acknowledged today. Most of us live in areas with much lower crime rates, including gun crime rates, than in those areas pondered by the reporter -- places like Chicago, D.C., New York, or Los Angeles. These include major metropolitan areas as well as rural paradises like my own. 

In point of fact, though the headline describes the nation as 'divided,' the division has a clear majority/minority split that runs against her favored position. My firearms carry permit is recognized by 38 states including my own. 

38 states is, coincidentally, the number required to call a constitutional convention, propose a new amendment to the Constitution, and then ratify it. It is the three-quarters supermajority that the Founders pondered as sufficient to justify altering the basic law. The Supreme Court has done nothing but bring the outlier minority into line with the general consensus of the United States of America. 

That's a painful process, as few know better than citizens of the South, which has so often been the object of the Supreme Court's edifying attentions. However, it is widely admitted these days that for the most part those painful adjustments have been to the general benefit and improved morals. In the fullness of time, it may be that these minority states will likewise come to see the wisdom of respecting the genuine dignity, and encouraging the martial virtues, of their citizens. 

Elevator pitch

I'm working on a Gutenberg project about the sources and meanings of Indo-European names, and have come to the section on the Nibelung myth cycle, with a really handy thumbnail sketch:
The great Teutonic legend, holding the same place as the deeds of Hercules, Theseus, and the Argonauts did in Greece, or those of Fionn with the Gael, is the story of the Nibelung. How old it may be is past computation, but it was apparently common to the whole Gothic race, since names connected with it come from Spain, Lombardy, and France: fragments of the story are traceable in England and the Faroe Islands, and the whole is told at length in Germany, Norway, and Denmark. Each of these three latter countries claim vehemently to have originated the romance, but there is little doubt that it was one of the original imaginations of the entire race, and that each division moulded the framework their own way, though with a general likeness.
* * *
The tale is begun by the Norwegian Volsunga Saga, and, about half way through, it is taken up by the Danish Vilkina and Niflung Saga, and by the German Nibelungenlied, and it is finished by numerous Danish ballads and German tales, songs, and poems, with the sort of inconsistencies always to be found in popular versions of ancient myths, but with the same main incidents.
The story, as it begins in the Volsunga Saga, relates that there were three brothers, Fafner, Reginn, and Audvar, or Ottur.... Transforming himself into the beast that bears his name, for the convenience of catching himself a fish dinner, Ottur was killed, in this shape, by Loki. The father and the other brothers insisted that, by way of compensation, in the Teutonic fashion, Loki should fill the dead otter's skin with treasure, which he accomplished, but laid the treasure under the curse, that it should do no good to its owner. Accordingly, the amount excited the avarice of Fafner, and after murdering his father, he transformed himself into a dragon, and kept watch over the treasure, to prevent Reginn from obtaining it.
* * *
The main points in Siegfried's story are that he was the son of Siegmund the Volsung, and of Queen Sigelind; born, according to the Book of Heroes, under the same circumstances as Perdita, in the Winter's Tale; put, by way of cradle, into a drinking-glass, and accidentally thrown into the river, where he was picked up by the smith Mimir, and educated by him. In the Book of Heroes he is so strong that he caught the lions in the woods and hung them over his castle wall by their tails. Reginn incited him to fight with and slay the dragon, Fafner, and obtain the treasure, including the tarn-cap of invisibility. Also, on roasting and eating the heart of Fafner, he became able to understand the language of the birds. And by a bath in the blood he was made invulnerable, except where a leaf had unfortunately adhered to his skin, between his shoulders, and given him, like Achilles and Diarmaid, a mortal spot. His first discovery from the song of a bird was that Reginn meant to murder him at once; he therefore forestalled his intentions, and took possession of the fatal gift, thus incurring the curse. The Book of Heroes calls him Siegfried the horny, and introduces him at the court of the German favourite, Theodoric, and the Nibelungenlied separates the dragon from the treasure, and omits most of the marvellous in the obtaining it.
His next exploit was the rescue and awakening of Brynhild; but he fell into a magic state of oblivion as to all that had passed with her, when he presented himself at the court of Wurms, and became the husband of Gudrun, or Chriemhild, as a recompense for having, by means of his tarn-cap, enabled Gunnar to overcome the resistance of Brynhilda herself, and obliged her to become his submissive bride. Revelations made by the two ladies, when in a passion, led to vengeance being treacherously wreaked upon Siegfried, who was pierced in his vulnerable spot while he was lying down on his face to drink from a fountain during a hunting party in the forest. The remainder of the history is the vengeance taken for his death; and the North further holds that his child, Aslaug, was left the sole survivor of the race, and finally married Ragner Lodbrog, whence her descendants always trace their pedigree from Sigurdr Fafner's bane.

Keep _And_ Bear

Yes, obviously.
"In this case, petitioners and respondents agree that ordinary, law-abiding citizens have a similar right to carry handguns publicly for their self-defense. We too agree, and now hold, consistent with Heller and McDonald, that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the Court's opinion. "Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution."
The right to keep and bear arms is fundamental to human dignity. To say to someone that they are not entitled to defend their lives lest they harm someone else is to elevate the dignity of 'someone else' over the dignity of the person being stripped of a right to self-defense. To say that you have the right to defend yourself but not the right to the tools that would make such a defense practicable is to say that you don't really have the right after all -- somewhat like a right to freedom of the press, but a prohibition on presses and similar technologies.

Likewise citizenship: to say that you are 'a citizen' but obligated to remain disarmed under the unchallengeable power of armed agents of the state is to say that you are in fact a subject.  Citizenship is only meaningful if the citizenry retains the power the Declaration of Independence asserts is its natural right, that is, the right to reject a government that has turned tyrannical and to replace it in spite of that government's own preference to remain in power. 

The rifle makes the citizen, as it makes the dignified human being whose life is valuable enough to merit protection even if that protection entails dangers and risks. 

Anti-Semites Abound!

I won twenty dollars today off a professor I know who took this piece, published at Volokh, to be anti-Semitic. I wagered it would prove to be self-deprecating humor by another Jew; the author proves to be a board member of the Jewish Center for Religious Liberty. He's apparently drawn fire from progressive faculty before, who have trouble telling the difference between jokes like "Two Jews, three opinions" and actual anti-Semitism. 

That was my tip-off, actually. I have heard that joke before, and from very proud Jews; it's not really self-deprecation, either, because they're honestly and legitimately proud of their cultural disposition towards fractious, vigorous intellectual debate. As I've said about religion and jokes before, religious jokes are great as long as they're offered in the right spirit. That spirit is the one that jokes from a place of love for the thing being joked about.

The union that isn't

This is what can happen when a group of people realize that their ostensible allies can't wait to put a knife in their backs.
The National ICE Council says its members are sick of being labeled Nazis and racists by fellow unionists and is filing charges with the Labor Department to seek financial autonomy from its parent unions, the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Government Employees.
The council says it cannot get adequate representation from the two organizations, which “foster hate and prejudice” against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and have backed political candidates who call for defunding ICE — essentially advocating for the erasure of the 7,600 jobs the council represents. The council accuses the two labor groups of holding ICE employees captive. It says the parent unions, wanting to garner “partisan political favor” from the administration, refuse to let the employees manage their own affairs but won’t advocate for them.
“AFGE and the AFL-CIO became far-left organizations a long time ago,” Chris Crane, the council’s president, told The Washington Times. “They don’t care about workers. They only care about their far-left agendas and politics. The corruption and misspending in the organization is out of control. ICE employees want no part in it.”

Senator Actually Works for 5 Hours

...declares national emergency.

The Fed Has Surprises Coming

J. P. Morgan's discussion of forthcoming Fed policies leads with Ezekiel 25:17.

The NYT's daily morning reader was all about this subject as well. Inflation must come down; that means demand must be destroyed. That means higher interest rates, which will increase unemployment, which will destroy demand. It's going to suck, especially for you people who don't work for a central bank.


The Summer Solstice came at 5:14 AM today, beneath an alignment of all the visible planets. I happened to be awake for that, and it is quite a show. The planetary conjuction continues until the 27th.

Flavors of crooks

We watched 1981's "Absence of Malice" last night and were struck by what an innocent time it was. The plot turns on a strategic leak of a federal investigation, along with warrantless wiretaps, all intended to pressure someone who wasn't a real suspect into finking on some of his mobbed-up family members. There is a well-known climactic scene in which Wilford Brimley, an Asst. AG, shows up and shuts down the freak show with some scathing rebukes and pink slips for federal underlings who break the law. ("You're no presidential appointment. You work for me.") It's a very old-fashioned "the grownups are still in charge" moment.

The plot doesn't call for anyone even to be aware of anyone else's party affiliation, though the chief crooked fed does make a point of resenting the crime family's role in the suppression of unions. The journalists are treated with kid gloves, exquisitely aware of the inevitability of causing collateral damage with their courageous crusade to publish the truth, but also bravely willing to face their own moral failings in striking this balance.

A more prescient scene was the climax of 1975's "Three Days of the Condor," after Robert Redford has risked his life getting the incriminating files to the New York Times, and creepy spook Cliff Robertson asks him, "What if they won't publish it?"

These screenwriters wouldn't have known what to make of Rathergate, not to mention Russiagate, NYT vs. Project Veritas, or the recent poo-flinging at Wapo.

Since it’s Juneteenth

UPDATE: The Orthosphere on the traditions of a holiday that is new to many outside Texas. I recall it being celebrated in Atlanta thirty years ago, but then went more than two decades without hearing it mentioned after I moved out of that city.

An “anvil” was a volley of gunfire.  I have found no discussion of the word, but the usage was clearly Southern and my guess is that “anvil” was a corruption of the word enfilade.

That sounds plausible, and is a nice preservation of the linkage between the rifle and individual democratic liberty.

Happy Father's Day

A number of you, like myself, are fathers. If you're like me, you forgot this day existed until you woke up this morning and saw somebody post it on Facebook. Fatherhood is not much celebrated in America today; indeed parenthood is not greatly appreciated by our cultural guardians, and fatherhood is both unacceptably masculine and indicative of some sort of biological binary that one might not be perfectly capable of transcending in the name of 'gender identity.' I suppose we shall hear even less about it in the future.

Still, fatherhood is a proud service that when done well provides lasting benefits to those who receive its service. It can also nurture important virtues in the man himself. As such it is worthy, quite apart from also being necessary to the survival of humanity and any sort of civilization.

Well done, ye who have done well.

Good reflexes

This could have ended worse. Hatchet Guy had recently been released from jail in the Chicago area.