Tanassee Gap

South into Transylvania County.

North towards the Parkway. 

A brief break at a taproom on the south end of NC 215.

UPDATE: Afterwards I rode up 215 to the top where the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses it. I there encountered a stranded motorcyclist. Part of the unwritten Biker Code is to always assist motorcyclists who are having mechanical trouble and never to leave one stranded. (A helmet positioned behind a bike on the side of the road is a sign of distress.) Fortunately, between my toolkit and my Kabar we were able to get him back underway.

View from the top of the rock. 

Outrageous 'Justice'

 Via Raven, an outrageous story. It's in Reason magazine, not a particularly hot-headed place.

The prosecutors, who were found to have committed substantial misconduct throughout the case... held [defendant Esformes] without bond in the years leading up to his trial, placing him in solitary.... [He] was not convicted of the most serious charges leveled against him.... [s]o his 20-year sentence—handed down by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola of the Southern District of Florida—may appear grossly disproportionate to his convictions. 

Until you realize the judge explicitly punished Esformes for charges on which the jury hung.

That is not an error. "When somebody gets sentenced [at the federal level]…they get sentenced on all charges, even the ones they're acquitted on, [as long as] they get convicted on one count," says Brett Tolman, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah who is now the executive director of Right on Crime. It is a little-known, jaw-dropping part of the legal system: Federal judges are, in effect, not obligated to abide by a jury's verdict at sentencing. 

His sentence was commuted by the Trump administration after he had served four and a half years in prison. But!

Esformes... is facing an even stranger ordeal: someone whose sentence was commuted and will soon go back on trial—for charges on which he was already punished. 

Central to the most rudimentary understanding of the U.S. legal system is the protection defendants are promised against double jeopardy—the safeguard that prohibits prosecutors from trying and punishing you multiple times for the same crime. 

Esformes' second prosecution "directly violates the double jeopardy clause," says Tolman.... Jackson agrees. "If you walk through the facts, it's clearly double jeopardy," she says. "The judge on the record at sentencing used the hung conduct as part of his sentence…. That sentence was then commuted by President Trump."...

s presents a question for the Department of Justice: How can it proceed with the prosecution against him when he was already sentenced, and had that sentence commuted, for the charges it wants to retry?

Some in the government are trying to answer that. "I [am inquiring] as to how the United States Department of Justice could believe that any further prosecution of Mr. Esformes on charges for which he was already tried, sentenced and granted clemency by the President of the United States could possibly be constitutionally permitted, and in all events a proper use of United States government resources?" asked Sen. Mike Lee (R–Utah) in a recent letter to Attorney General Garland.

The query has yet to receive a response. 

Is there any part of this system that still works remotely the way it was supposed to work? Are there any Constitutional principles left that still function?  

More Geneaology

The discussion of genealogy interested several of you, so here's a piece Dad29 sent me yesterday on the Celtic influence on the American South in the early period. The link with the Highland Charge is a frequent claim I have always found persuasive, although that link -- like all of this stuff -- is debatable and subject to alternative explanations.

The Irish did very well in the South compared to the majority of them who migrated north; the South welcomed them as white men, because the deadly threat posed by slavery meant that only the black/white division mattered. In the North, they were often not as readily accepted into the general population.

My ancestors were all in what became the United States before the Revolution, and passed into Tennessee in the first generation of Americans to do so. Most of them came from Scotland, but the names include Welsh, obviously Norse derived names like Thurman, as well as plenty of Duncans and others with obviously Scottish names. Very Celtic, if one accepts that the Scottish Vikings were also strongly Celtic. 

The article also admits Joel's consideration that at least part of the Scottish Borders were strongly Anglo-Saxon, which made an additional admixture.


The son of a Communist endorses defunding the FBI, which ruined his father’s life. 

Lefty Frizzell

I don't think I've seen Lefty here before, though maybe I've missed him or forgotten. In the early 1950s he was probably as popular as Hank Williams, but that doesn't seem to have lasted.

He wrote this first one, which I'm sure you've heard covered by others:

According to Wikipedia, Lefty toured with Hank and later pulled a teenaged Merle Haggard on stage and handed him his custom Gibson J-200 guitar. Merle says that was the first guitar he played on a professional stage. Many years later, after Lefty passed away and the guitar had been displayed for some time at the Country Music Hall of Fame, it was auctioned off and Merle Haggard bought it. Roy Orbison was also a big fan.

More tunes below the fold. 

Six Billion Dollars

It's only market capitalization. That stuff is fairy gold. The real problem is they aren't selling beer, either. 

Comedians used to make fun of Donald Trump because he lost money running a casino. I agree, that's funny stuff. It'd be like losing money running an insurance company or a government. Losing money running one of the world's biggest beer companies, though? That's above and beyond.

Two Surprising Stories

It's been a while since I posted anything from Sose the Ghost, but this piece struck me. It compares the stories of David Allan Coe and Danny Trejo. I had not realized that both were at one point slated for the death penalty. 

You don't necessarily want to reason from outliers like these: most people who end up being nominated for the death penalty are unlikely to reform themselves and turn out to be great artists. Nevertheless both of these are cases in which the genetic background looks stacked against them: they came from poor backgrounds with early exposure to crime as a way of making a living, ended up in serious and repeated trouble with the law, and yet turned their lives around and became something grand. David Allan Coe is regularly featured here for his music. Trejo also appears occasionally, especially for his good heart and patriotic outlook.

'The race isn't always to the swift, but that's the way to bet.' Still, it's good to remember that sometimes the door swings the other way too.

How Long?

In the last post, I mentioned that enmity has lingered since at least the 90s. I was thinking of active government enmity, but the cultural enmity is older. Joe Bob Briggs dates the cultural issue to the shift in Hollywood from using as de facto enemies either Native Americans or Nazis, to using rednecks because everyone else could agree to hate them.

An obvious example of that is in 1969's Easy Rider, a transformational year in Hollywood. (Little Big Man, one of the strongest examples of Hollywood rethinking its position on the US cavalry vs. the Native Americans, was being filmed that year; it came out in 1970.) Florida rednecks (they usually call themselves "crackers" in Florida) foolishly stunt with a shotgun, accidentally killing a biker they just meant to scare. They then intentionally murder the second one to avoid being caught.

This distances itself from the treatment similar folks had received in Thunder Road (1958), where they were heroic rascals dodging revenuers. (This treatment would reappear during the later 1970s, when countercultural forces acknowledged the Duke Boys, the Convoy, and the Bandit as obvious cultural allies.) If you saw a character in a movie who was Southern, country, Conservative, or obviously Christian, they were most likely going to be a bad guy. 

Nevertheless it wasn't until the Clinton administration that I think this new class that came of age in 1969 felt comfortable going all-in on destroying the traditional American culture. There had been outspoken feminists suing to prevent private clubs from being all-male, successfully insofar as they could show that there were potential business advantages to be had from membership, for quite some time. Bill Clinton had run, however, as a man who could bring the Reagan Democrats home to the Democratic Party -- which he did, winning Georgia in 1992, and then sold all their blue-collar jobs to NAFTA. Hostility to Reagan among the Wise had been intense, but the ordinary American was respected because his or her vote was needed. 

The shift to center-left politics under Clinton hardened substantially during the Bush administration, but even by the 1990s Married with Children regularly showcased the ways in which a blue-collar white male was being run down by every sort of powerful actor in society. Waylon Jennings, who was the troubadour playing the guitar in Dukes of Hazzard, appeared in one episode (available on YT in German or Spanish, but not English) to explain to Al Bundy that "nothing" could be done about the destruction of his way of life, but to enjoy his remaining time on earth: "The only thing wrong with being a dinosaur is there ain't a future in it." 

All this intensified culturally during the Bush administration, and sprang into outright governmental hostility towards ordinary Americans in the Obama administration. The Trump administration didn't even provide a break: the President spoke kindly of ordinary Americans, but "The Resistance" began treating Americans of that ilk as the chiefest danger facing the government. Under the Biden regime, it has only intensified -- spies in church, as we were discussing. 

Keeping Enemies

This is an observation that sounds like a reliable indicator of genuine privilege.

…the observation from William Dean Howells that the problem for a critic isn’t making enemies but keeping them...

I get the point, but none of us have trouble keeping enemies. We have been the declared enemies of the powerful since at least the 90s. I mean that they declared enmity for us; and they have never wavered. 

From a piece on the expansion of the surveillance state, in which the American government proves to have turned its formidable intelligence and influence apparatus against its own people. 

Joe Biden Praises the Scots-Irish

You probably won’t read this in an American paper, and the speech was carefully given overseas. Specifically, in Ulster. 
The family ties the pride in those Ulster Scots immigrants, those those Ulster Scots immigrants who helped found and build my country, they run very deep, very deep. 

Men born in Ulster are among those who signed the Declaration of Independence in the United States pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honour for freedom’s cause. 

The man who printed the revolutionary document was John Dunlap. He hailed from County Tyrone. And countless, countless others established new lives of opportunity across the Atlantic. Planting farms, founding communities, starting businesses, never forgetting their connection to this island. 

As a matter of fact as you walk into my office, the Oval Office, in the US capital, guess what? You know who founded and designed and built the White House? An Irishman. That’s not a joke. Not a joke. Passing it down generation after generation. 

Your history is our history. But even more importantly your future is America’s future. 

7 Revelations in the US Intelligence Leak

An insider I talked to this week characterized this as "worse than Manning," a locution that I notice avoids assigning a first name to the infamous traitor.  

(My personal opinion is that he shall always be Bradley Manning, precisely because a traitor like him doesn't deserve to have his preferences respected. In this I suppose I reprise Kant's opinions, expressed in Metaphysics of Morals 6:334, in which he discussed two Jacobites one of whose preferences about punishment deserves respect, and the other not, because the better man was "acquainted with something that he values more highly than life, namely honor, while the scoundrel considers it better to live in shame than not at all." Ironically this meant assigning death to both men, also an appropriate punishment for Manning. But I digress.)

Of these, the most significant in terms of the outcome in Ukraine is that their air defenses are about to be exhausted.  Russia would have won this war on the first stroke if they had been able to establish air superiority in the American way. They reportedly lost two companies of paratroopers to having their planes shot down en route to the drop zone, and their advance was on all sides bedeviled by not being in control of the skies. If that changes, Ukraine is not going to win -- regardless of the outcome of their spring offensive, which now has to be reshuffled at the last minute because the details were exposed.

The skeptics have often overstated their case, sometimes because they are leaning on pro-Russian sources in order to find anyone independent of the groupthink that has overtaken all American and prominent Western media. Unfortunately, that means absorbing also some of the Russian messaging, which finds its way into such sources even where they attempt independence. The fog of war has been itself here, as always, but there is no getting around the fact that the war has been fought mostly on Ukrainian territory, and it is Ukrainian infrastructure that has suffered. To some degree the West can backfill munitions, if it has factories or stockpiles (which it doesn't for Soviet-era air defense missiles); it can't replace the power grid. 

Discuss, if you like. I suspect things are far more dire even than these leaked reports suggest, as the pressure to produce positive thinking in US intelligence is higher than ever (witness Afghanistan).

Spies in the Church

This has a kind of Reformation-era feel. 

Justice through Pardons

Probably many of you remember this case.
On Friday, 37-year-old Army sergeant Daniel Perry was found guilty of fatally shooting Garrett Foster, an Air Force veteran and BLM protester.

Perry’s defense lawyers say he shot Foster in self-defense at a demonstration in downtown Austin, Texas, on July 25, 2020.

Texts from Perry in which he wrote he “might have to kill a few people” who were “rioting” outside his apartment were used in the trial, which began on March 27.

He said he felt threatened after 28-year-old Foster pointed his AK-47 at him, though witnesses said they never saw Foster raise his weapon.

I was of course not there, but I notice that witnesses 'never seeing' things at these kinds of events is a common defensive strategy. There's a case in Atlanta right now around the so-called "Cop City" protests where a Georgia State Trooper was actually shot, and the witnesses -- who are mostly members of various activist groups and anarchist circles -- claim that they never saw a gun, so the cop must have been shot by one of his own. The police say they recovered his gun, can show that he purchased it, and that forensics establish that it was definitely the one that shot the trooper. The protesters say that they haven't seen or independently verified the police's forensics, so they will continue to hold that the trooper was shot by other cops.

It's possible. In the old days we would go to court and hash it out, trusting the jury to make a fair decision. In the current climate, juries and jury pools are selected for being subject to confirmation bias -- and so are prosecutors. Here as in the DC cases we've been watching, the prosecutor from Austin is biased and the jury pool draws from the most left-wing community in Texas.

On Saturday, Abbott wrote Texas has one of the nation’s “strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive district attorney.”

Noting that, unlike other states, the governor in Texas is only allowed to act on a recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, Abbott said he had already “made (the pardon) request and instructed the Board to expedite its review.”

Abbott also noted he’s “already prioritized reining in rogue district attorneys,” likely referring to Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza.

This points to a failure of trust in our system so basic as to make certain areas very dangerous even to visit. Armed and violent riots are being coupled with an official system of punishing not the rioters, but anyone who defends themselves. This was prominent in Venezuela, where roving gangs loyal to the Communist government were enforcers of terror, protected by the law rather than restrained by it.  

Conan Report

I took the dog to his first VFD meeting and training session, which was on the setting up of helicopter landing zones for extractions. As you know, this is something that comes up from time to time and it's important for younger or newer members to learn. 

He was a big hit with the firefighters, although being a puppy he slept through most of it. I did pass him off to our training captain to hold for a little while during my turn at operating some of the equipment. She enjoyed the opportunity to hold a puppy. 

Stop the bleed

Speaking of rescue, a neighbor recently lost control of a power tool of some kind and gashed his leg badly, apparently at least knicking the femoral artery. A volunteer fireman across the street arrived quickly and used a "Stop the Bleed" kit and recent "Stop the Bleed" training to control a fairly dramatic hemorrhage. Although the nearest hospital is nearly an hour away, our neighbor was treated successfully and is home and doing well.

The news inspired me to put a "Stop the Bleed" kit in our kitchen and to read up on the controversy over tourniquet use. The "North American Rescue Tourniquet" is said to enjoy a good reputation. The manufacturer's website had a link to an article discussing tourniquet use throughout history, ending with this (paraphrased) summary of the current thinking:
Normally, we should leave tourniquet use to civilian or military personnel with proper training. Most hemorrhages even from amputation can be controlled with direct pressure, elevation, and packing of the wound.
Having said that, no patient should bleed out because we're afraid of a tourniquet. The complications from tourniquet use can be very serious indeed, but not in comparison with death. A tourniquet is a viable backup measure even for amateurs if other strategies aren't enough to save life, especially if transport to a hospital must be delayed.
If the safety of the patient or of caregivers requires emergency movement, use a tourniquet to control a life-threatening hemorrhage, but reevaluate it ASAP once in safety.
Place the tourniquet about a palm's width "upstream" (proximal, not distal) from the wound, or more if necessary to avoid a joint. If there is an impaled object, don't let the tourniquet press down on any part of it.
Remove all clothing from under the tourniquet (note that your first-aid kit should include fabric shears), and leave the tourniquet exposed, with no bandage wrapped over it. Mark the presence of the tourniquet prominently, including the time it was applied (note that your kit should include a Magic Marker to write on a bandage away from the tourniquet but easily visible to the next worker). Tell a conscious patient to inform every medical worker he comes in contact with when the tourniquet was applied.
Generally, you may need to tighten a tourniquet in the field but should almost never loosen it. Tighten the tourniquet if the wound continues to bleed below the pressure point, other than oozing from exposed marrow. Do not loosen a tourniquet in the field in any of these situations: (1) obvious signs of shock, (2) amputation, (3) resumed hemorrhage upon trial release of the tourniquet, or (4) (in a long-term emergency rescue) after the tourniquet has been in place for 6 hours. Even if hemorrhage no longer is an immediate danger, restoring long-blocked flow to blood-starved tissues can cause deadly problems that require more intensive medical care than you can possibly give in the field.

From Raven: Snowboarding Rescue

Look how just a little preparation allows one man to save another from a tree well. 

Rites of Spring

My congregation is pretty elderly, but at Easter we get a pretty good crop of young people. Our pastor brings out a plain wood cross with some wore netting on it and asks the kids to come up and help cover it in blooms.
We often have a baptism, too, and this morning was no exception:
A good Easter hymn.

An Easter Joy

By chance coincidence, AVI just had a post last week about this in which he wisely warned against such things. An ancient inscription I also saw last week says likewise:

I  am in tears, while carrying you to your last resting place as much as I rejoiced when bringing you home in my own hands fifteen years ago.

So I am fairly warned. 

Happy Easter

It’s a glorious morning in South Carolina. May your feast day be wonderful. 


Turtle on the Catawba.