Firewood Work Continues

Yesterday I had occasion to look back at a bunch of old pictures from twenty years ago, trying to find a particular photo I remembered. I was struck by how much my life has followed the patterns I adopted in that period of adulthood. In my early twenties and teenage years I lived at home and went to school, and my father set the rhythm of our lives. By my mid-twenties, however, I had moved out and begun to explore things; I moved to Savannah in pursuit of a woman, married her, we went to grad school (her in fine arts, myself in history) and then moved to China and had adventures. After I returned, though, we settled down into a life that is recognizably similar to that which came afterwards.

This is true in spite of the fact that many major changes happened in the subsequent period. We had our son, I went to war (three times, once as a correspondent for the Long War Journal to the Special Operations Task Force - Philippines, and then twice to Iraq as a participant in the conflict). We moved many times, shifted from renting to owning a home, sold homes and moved twice more. I sought and obtained a doctorate in philosophy. I published books and many essays. My father died, I took up firefighting and wilderness rescue, I learned to ride a horse and rode almost every day for more than a year, I learned to ride motorcycles and still ride every day or nearly so.

Yet I see a clear picture of life in the pictures of me standing beside stacks of firewood, the pictures of me working on various trucks, and the pictures of me hiking or camping in the wilderness. Mostly the cold months have been heated with firewood, which is a rhythm of its own. We are a little behind this year due to a minor injury that kept me from starting for a couple of months. I prefer when wood is cut and split in the spring, cured through the summer and early autumn, and ready to warm you by Christmas. This year I am still splitting in August, though some of it has been split since May. For about a quarter of each year one is bucking wood some days and splitting on others. Today my now-adult son and I split some fine straight-grained red oak, and it will burn beautifully in the cold months.

The trucks always need work, too; it's always one thing or another. Today I intend to change the coil pack on my Jeep, which still has a cylinder that is firing improperly in spite of new plugs and plug wires. My Ford is having powertrain issues that are computer- and sensor-related. I can diagnose those with an OBD-II cord and my laptop, which is new. I've changed two tires in the last few weeks, oil and filters also. 

And always there are the mountains, which with one exception our moves have kept us as close to as possible. Now we are right up among them. The air is clean and the people are fewer. Wild animals make better neighbors, both because they are less offensive and because you can always eat them if they ever do become a problem. 

SCOTUS as Arms Race

Both sides are scrambling to secure the court, reports MSN. The piece opens with a stunning admission.
Heaven was so close Mark Tushnet could feel the years rolling off him.

Tushnet was a 70-year-old Harvard Law professor in 2016, but he evinced the youthful zeal of a Harvard undergraduate when he published a manifesto that May encouraging his fellow progressives to start imagining the possibilities of a reinvigorated progressive jurisprudence that would be ushered in by Hillary Clinton. Adverse precedents “overruled at the first opportunity.” Judicial nominees in the mold of Thurgood Marshall. Defeated social conservatives treated like the losers in World War II. The days of “looking over [your] shoulders” in fear of the conservative bogeyman are over, he exhorted. The time for “abandoning defensive crouch liberal constitutionalism,” as he titled his blog post, had come.
Treating your fellow Americans as conquered enemies, yes, obviously. In the present moment, with the left in such high dudgeon about 'overturning stare decisis,' it is amazing to see in print an admission that a top priority was to "overrule [disfavored precedents] at the first opportunity.' That's Heller, at least, as core a decision for the other side as Roe was for theirs. 

All this in defense of a move to 'abandon... liberal constitutionalism.' If you are willing to abandon liberal constitutionalism from the left, what you mean is that you are abandoning constitutionalism

These moves aim at pure power. They are antithetical to our tradition, and yet all I hear is talk of 'defending our democracy' and 'rule of law.' 

Soothing Propaganda

NPR reports that a third of Americans lack confidence in our election system, but that number can be reduced if one tells them soothing tales before asking the question.
The organization's research started with a control group of voters, and asked them whether they agreed or disagreed with this statement: "Overall, I trust the process for counting votes in our elections."

Initially, 63% of voters said they did.

But when another group of voters was asked the same question after reading a statement that included things like "political candidates can challenge election results. But our system requires proof and following the law" and "let's keep improving our elections and make them more fair, equal, and transparent" that number went up to 72% of voters.
Now, if you watched how this actually went down in 2020-2021, you saw that the statement being presented to soothe voters' concerns is not accurate. Courts outright refused to hear the challenges raised by candidates on standing grounds, and therefore never examined evidence to see if there was proof. It turns out you can't challenge an election that hasn't taken place yet because you have no standing, having not yet suffered any harm. You can't challenge one that has taken place because it's too late now (laches). You can't challenge one once the votes are certified because the matter is already decided (moot).

A state government lacks standing to object to other states adopting fraudulent processes, because those other states are sovereign. The legislature of that same state lacks standing as well. The President of the United States lacks standing in his own election, and so does any legal interest group that might try.

This is true even when there is prima facie evidence such as in Atlanta; the courts found no one with standing, the Justice Department held no investigation, and all we got was a single guy testifying before the January 6th committee a year and a half later that he'd looked into it and everything was fine. That in no way constitutes a process for actually challenging an election in a way to do anything about it, even if you can show initial evidence that suggests there's reason to look deeply.

As for being able to challenge the election if one 'follows the law,' the Wisconsin Supreme Court found that its own election was illegal and unconstitutional -- but no challenges were heard in time to do anything about it. Nor will that small matter apparently affect the next election, which the executive branch is intending to run the same way regardless of the other two branches. Orders from the legislature are set aside, and the ruling of the court ignored, by an unelected committee appointed by the governor.

As a consequence, I find the NPR result depressing rather than reassuring. If just speaking some soothing but false words is enough to move the needle that much, many people don't really care. They just want the worrisome thing to go away, and are prepared to believe any calming narrative no matter how manifestly false it has proven to be.

Greetings, Fellow Extremists

I have both the Gadsden Flag and the Betsy Ross flag hanging in my basement, along with a collection of other Revolutionary War flags. 

As I was saying at D29's place yesterday, it's really striking that they have added the ANCAP flag to this list of 'militant violent extremists.' "[ANCAPs] believe in the Nonaggression Principle. It’s a core value of the movement. The only way they’re a threat of violence is if you are the aggressor." 

Lawsuits and Referenda on Abortion

The fallout of Dobbs is that the issue moves back to the democratic branches, but also that executive actions to advance a favored position become important. The Justice Department is suing to block an Idaho law that they say does not adequately protect the lives of vulnerable women:
Garland said that while the law provides an exception in order to prevent the death of a pregnant woman, "it includes no exception for cases in which the abortion is necessary to prevent serious jeopardy to the woman's health."

I think there is both a genuine concern here and also a politically motivated move. On the one hand, there are reports that doctors are delaying carrying out an abortion up until the point that a woman's life is obviously and incontestably endangered even though it is obvious much earlier that this point is going to be reached. There is no reason to delay what is ultimately going to be necessary, making the woman run risks and suffer just to provide a blanket to protect doctors in court. Some women may risk dying or suffering irreparable harm over that, and it's not ultimately going to save the life of the child. It's pointless and either cruel or cowardly to push suffering onto the woman in order to protect the doctor's career. 

On the other hand, creating a broad exception will end up excusing a number of cases that are fringe or vague cases. This is clearly part of the intent, given that the real desire is to have abortion legal (and paid for by taxpayers) in all cases whatsoever. This is on the same principle Richard the Lionheart cited in assigning Friar Tuck his bucks:

“I understand thee,” said the King, “and the Holy Clerk shall have a grant of vert and venison in my woods of Warncliffe. Mark, however, I will but assign thee three bucks every season; but if that do not prove an apology for thy slaying thirty, I am no Christian knight nor true king.”

Even so, I'm inclined to view this as an acceptable solution. Even if they manage the tenfold increase of 'medically necessary' abortions that the King expected from the Friar and his bucks, genuinely necessary cases are estimated at two percent. (This figure is hotly contested by activists on both sides, in and out of 'expert' NGOs; but it is somewhere between less than one percent and maybe three percent.) If you get to twenty percent, that still is a vast improvement over where we were before Dobbs, as the remaining eighty percent will be capable of being regulated according to democratically-enacted law.

Meanwhile an anti-abortion referendum in Kansas of all places went down in flames yesterday. Returning the issue to democracy means accepting democratic results, and abortion is always very popular once people have had it for a while -- even Ireland is not likely to go back to banning it. It's just so convenient to be able to make a daunting 20-year challenge, which entails heavy responsibility and permanent physical changes to your own body, go away like it never existed. There's no guarantee of success without a lot of moral work to convince people to accept the arguments against the practice. You can't skip the philosophy and go straight to force: that's now how democracy works.

More Wiped Phones

Not just the Secret Service, now the Department of Defense appears to have wiped phone and text records of those responsible for deploying the National Guard on January 6th. Why the Guard was not deployed is a major question we've been asking here since before January 6th, and certainly since then -- it was obvious that there was a significant potential for disorder given the nearby mass rally to protest the very thing going on inside Congress right then. Finding out why the Capitol was left unprotected is going to be harder given this apparently intentional destruction of the relevant public records.


Japan is having a strange problem with its monkeys. For some reason this kind of thing doesn't happen in the USA; I assume the reason is related to the fact that they've had to hire specialists with tranquilizer guns to address the matter. This is the sort of job Americans would handle themselves. 

Against Public Education

 Quilette has an article on the challenges facing public education.

This past May, my community sought to fill four open school board seats.... It quickly became apparent that nearly all of the candidate platforms fit neatly into one of two distorted worldviews: either that of the MSNBC viewer or the Fox News viewer.... each platform simply revealed how little was understood about the real challenges facing public education and youth culture more broadly.

Last week we had a runoff election for the school board locally which mirrored this concern exactly. These are officially nonpartisan positions. Nevertheless, one candidate ran on rainbows and talk of 'equity' and 'school safety,' and she was backed by the local Democratic Party. The other one said nothing much about education, but a lot about Jesus. She was backed by the Republicans.

Rainbow lady won, but because she's the incumbent that means nothing will change. Recent graduates I know personally can't do math and lack basic English skills such as knowing the difference between "your" and "you're." The institution is an embarrassing failure. 

The Quilette piece suggests the problem is one of mental health among the youth. Maybe that's part of it; but part of it is the need to burn this institution of American public education to the ground, so that something more fertile can be grown upon its ashes.

End Run Around the Electoral College?

Andrew Morgan at the Federalist writes:

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It has been enacted by 15 state legislatures plus Washington, D.C., and passed in 41 legislative chambers in 24 states. For the proposal to become the law of the land, enough states totaling at least 270 electoral votes would be required to enact the law, and states would then commit their electoral votes to the candidate with the most popular votes nationally, regardless of which candidate won at the state level.

The states that have enacted the compact represent 195 electoral votes: Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, California, New York, and the District of Columbia. States with passage in one chamber include Arkansas, Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Successful passage in all of these states represents 283 electoral votes, enough to change the law and make our presidential election decided via popular vote rather than the Electoral College. 

Goodbye Uhura

She and we would have agreed partially at best, but she meant well and did well by her own lights. Goodnight, dear lady. 


There’s a re-vote on Monday in the Senate on this legislation to help veterans with issues from burn pits. I myself burned many reams of classified documents in our burn pits in Iraq. I have no issues from it, but many of my brothers in arms do. 

If there’s a good reason for not passing this legislation I don’t know of it. It’s Republicans holding it up after having originally voted for it in majority. You might call your worthless, corrupt Senators and ask them to do the right thing for once. Or else, if you know a good reason they shouldn’t, explain it below. 

PSA: Men, Please Avoid Sex With Other Men

If you can manage to be attracted to other men, which I find hard to imagine, I can see why you might want to engage in this practice: the male sex drive is such that you could be having sex all the time if only you wanted to have sex with men instead of women. There is the difficulty that only women are in any way attractive, but I hear that some of you have managed to overcome this hurdle somehow. Nevertheless, it is dangerous to your health.

People will lie to you about that, but not me. You can probably avoid both AIDS and Monkeypox through the simple (though not easy) precaution of having sex only when you can find a woman who is willing. If you can create a monogamous and stable relationship with this woman, your risk falls to almost zero.