Full Circle

Readers will recall that I’ve often suggested that Trump learned political rhetoric from his time with the World Wrestling Federation (later “Entertainment”). Just read the mean tweets in the voice and with the beats of Hulk Hogan, I’d advise; then they won’t seem scary, but will be recognizable as the theatre that they are. 


Hulk Hogan is a character played by a gentleman named Terry Gene Bollea, but it is the character speaking on stage. The theatre is now part of the nonfiction, for better or for worse. At least in professional wrestling, violence is performance rather than actual assassination attempts. Look out for Bernie Sanders with that steel chair.

The Hand of God

Author Lincoln Brown is having similar thoughts to the ones that have been troubling me. The piece is raw and painful, questing after the justice of things like this. 
But what about Corey Comperatore, a loving and devoted husband, father, and public servant? Was it God's plan for him to die? 

For every person who is saved from cancer by the power of prayer, there are thousands for whom those prayers are never answered. When we were in Cambodia, I witnessed more than the horrific effects of human trafficking. We visited some of the Killing Fields....
I understand: my best friend is dying of stage four cancer at a very young age. I watched my father die too, and he was a brave and faithful man, one who saved lives, a firefighter, a volunteer. 

We are told that death has been conquered, and therefore perhaps it is of no real concern. That's hard to accept as people who have to die, and who have seen the effect of death on those we love. Yet, like Jules in the movie, I think you can't help but acknowledge the miracle. I don't understand it, but I can't deny it.

Fear

I have been to war three times. I’ve been mortared, rocketed, machine-gunned and shot at with Kalashnikovs. I once stood a bear off its kill to force him to let us pass on a trail. I ride motorcycles almost every day. 

The clear footstep of God is the scariest thing I have ever seen.

When my grandmother was buried, child me asked why anyone would fear God, as the scripture said. I know now. God getting involved is terrifying. 

People say to pray for the nation. I’m not the sort to say things like that. But I am praying. 

RIP Newhart

We loved you anyway, you SOB. 

Spam

Gringo alerted me that a comment of his had disappeared. I checked the spam folder of the blog, and found that many of our comments have been automatically assigned to that by Google -- including some of mine! I have restored all the ones I recognize (except Greg's, who really is spam and should go bother someone else). If you notice a comment disappearing, ping me and I'll fix it.

This is getting annoying, Google. The whole purpose of Blogger, when it was new, was to serve as a host for free speech. Go **** yourselves. Having money doesn't make you right. We'll say what we want, one way or another. 

Always loved Sarah Isgur

She tweets: "MSNBC’s bewildering coverage of the RNC this week is further proof that the left leaves elite universities and institutions with no clue about what conservatives believe or why. Whereas conservative students leave college being able to speak fluent liberal."

Good Lord



Conspiracy theories and all that, but it's actually worse if this really was the product of extensive, institutional failure. It'd be better if there was a plot! This indicates the complete failure of all of our institutions... er, as did the Afghanistan situation, the "pier" to Gaza, the border situation, oh good gracious. The whole thing needs to be torn down and replaced, or not replaced where it's not helpful.

More Glorious Behavior

So undercover cops need to drink to keep their cover. However
The Pagan's MC are accusing the cops of excessive force, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution after a confrontation in a bar suddenly degenerated into violence caused by cops who had been drinking for hours.

Maybe all this secret police stuff is not befitting of a free society. 

Corporate Interactions

I had a meeting today with a team led by a former SFOD-D operator and Silver Star awardee. He opened by questioning whether I would be able to make our upcoming in-person meeting from “prison,” and then asserting that “you look like you’re ready to murder somebody.”

I responded, “Every day all day,” which he loved. However, I had to circle back with the team to explain some cultural differences between their world and the world of the American infantry. 

Pulp Fiction

It’s hard to avoid Jules’ conclusion. The way the film was portrayed out of sequence masks that Jules’ conversion also saves his life. His faith does. 

It’s terrifying to think that God would take the side of so flawed a vessel; or to think that God would be so directly involved in human affairs at all. It’s obvious why Vincent rejects the idea. To do otherwise is to admit the existence of a far greater power. 

Dragon’s Breath


View from my front porch. 


Then This Happened...

...at the Republican Convention in Milwaukee, per @DanScavino via @cdrsalamander (I don't seem able to post X videos): 

https://x.com/DanScavino/status/1813067403703820757 

BZ, indeed. 

Eric Hines

Safety first

I held off on posting this, because it referred to an ABC News interview I couldn't at first find in the original, and I feared it must be satire or a hoax. At the 1:50 mark in this ABC News interview with the Director of the Secret Service, Kimberly Cheatle, she explains that the roof from which a young man shot former President Trump on Saturday was not manned by law enforcement because the sloped roof was considered too dangerous for security personnel.

Honestly, I'm still wondering if it could be a clever fake. Could she really have said this on camera? Perhaps next she could reconsider whether live ammunition should be issued to SS personnel. Someone could put an eye out with one of those things.

I wish I could still post images here, to show a comparison between the roof Crooks shot from and the roof the counter-sniper shot from after Crooks opened fire. Both look to be about 3 in 12 slope.

Couldn't agree more

I'm a big believer in price signals and a big doubter on erasing them.
Cities have used rent control for decades as a way to keep renters from experiencing the price signals of bad policies enacted by local and state politicians, and it's been a disaster without escape all along.
Prices are the balance between supply and demand.

You can lower demand by creating alternatives. You can raise supply by removing obstacles to the natural tendency for supply to flow in wherever prices are rising. But a sure way to crash supply is to react to high prices by capping them in order to pander to voters who are deserting you in droves. It's an especially unsavory form of pandering when the price shocks your voters are experiencing result from your own boneheaded economic policy, but President Unity likely couldn't have understood economic principles even in what passed for his cognitive prime.

"Affordable" housing is meaningless if it's unavailable at the state-mandated price, just like "affordable" healthcare.

That’s All Right


 

Hillbilly for (V) President

I have not read Vance's book nor followed his career, so I don't have a highly informed opinion on his selection as Trump's VP nominee. In the spirit of all the recent talk about 'representation' and 'feeling seen,' it is kind of nice to see someone who will self-appellate as an Appalachian on a major ticket. 

That doesn't make him a good choice, of course. Probably many of you have better information about that.

Were I advising Donald Trump, I would have suggested to him that he make a self-defensive nomination of somebody so crazy that any future assassins would think twice about taking a shot at Trump himself. All public information makes this shooter look like a loner, but Dad29's original remarks that led us to talk about assassination before the attempt happened was about Deep State concerns on Trump prompting them to take a shot at him. "Did the CIA kill JFK?" was a question a lot of people asked for many years. Similar people might wonder about a young man with no obvious connections, possessed of the perfect demographics to offend no protected group, getting to an unprotected rooftop with a short clear shot that he was allowed to take before being immediately killed so he couldn't talk.

I'm not saying that it was a conspiracy. That would be paranoid. I'm just saying that a Presidential candidate might pick a VP whose personality made a strong argument against anyone taking another shot. He might also want to hire some private professionals to bolster his government-provided security, which would be prudent rather than paranoid given how badly the USSS performed in this case.

Experimental Photo Editing

Yesterday’s ride back from the Games was hot and hazy, so the photographs of long distance shots were blurry at the horizon. Normally I wouldn’t heavily edit photos, but I found that by lowering the light level and boosting the saturation I could restore the outer line of vision. They look different from the way they looked to the naked eyes, but you can get the longer ranges. 

Jack Smith isn't special

Judge Cannon has dismissed the Florida documents case on the ground, as set forth in Justice Thomas's recent concurring opinion, that Jack Smith's appointment as special counsel was unconstitutional.

Heroes and Volunteers

The WSJ:
A volunteer firefighter died saving his family from the shots fired by Trump’s would-be assassin.

Here is their major citation, which unlike the Journal is not behind a paywall. 

The Grandfather Games

Grandfather Mountain

The Parade of Tartans

An Impromptu Mead Hall

Mead Horns

My wife has discovered that she likes the mead that I brew here at the Hall. So, I bought her as a present the central horn today at the Games. It’s more her size than the big ones, and also more elegant as befits her. 

GoFundMe for grieving Butler families

I saw the link last night and contributed when it was up to only about $85K of its $1MM goal. Today it's pushing $2MM.

Maybe not the effect they're hoping for

From Salena Zito, who was on the podium:
Earlier that afternoon, before the shooting that left two people dead including the gunman, I asked an 11-year-old: “Is this your first Trump rally?”
“Yeah,” he smiled, “but it’s not going to be my last.”

New lows in "journalism"

From The American Conservative:
Caution is in order when such shocking news breaks quickly. But the immediate response from some of the nation’s most biggest news outlets wasn’t cautious; it was unserious. An early Washington Post headline already subject to ridicule on Twitter by 6:33 p.m. declared “Trump taken away after loud noises at rally.” Minutes earlier, a CNN headline had announced, “Secret Service rushes Trump off stage after he falls at rally.” Reason magazine’s Billy Binion tweeted that “using cautious phrasing before all the information is known is good, actually.” Yes, it is, but “loud noises” and “Trump…falls at rally” plumb depths of journalistic malpractice unfathomed even by such earlier CNN and Washington Post absurdities as “Fiery but mostly peaceful protests” and “austere religious scholar.” The “cautious” way to report the story would be to refer to “apparent” or “possible” shots or an assassination attempt. Many phrases could have been appropriate, but not “loud noises” or “falls at rally.”

Fight

Trying to post an image, but getting weird obstruction from Google, which shows that I'm signed in but keeps asking me to sign in. Scroll down through this to see the "Fight" content.
Trump yelling 'Fight, fight," after getting grazed by a bullet in the ear, an inch from ending his life.
No panic. No crawling on his knees to safety. The man stands up, faces the crowd, and yells 'fight.'
I suppose they'll find a way to construe that as a criminal incitement to riot again.

Pretty Morning for a Ride

According to the Havamal dictum that you don’t praise a day until evening, today was a good day. 

Up by Craggy Gardens.

Near Mt. Mitchell.

My son.

Three Knobs.

Sons of Confederate Veterans “Mechanized Cavalry” in the background at Grandfather Mountain. We also ran into the Blue Knights MC, a law enforcement club. 

Hobbit Mellow Mushroom in Blowing Rock.


Missed it by That Much


Just the other day we were talking about Trump needing to fear assassination. I figured someone would try to kill him sooner or later. There’s so much intense hate and fear that it was inevitable. 

Aiming for the head, they clearly meant it. Just got nervous and screwed up the kill shot. Alternatively, perhaps they’re not a real shooter. 

This would be a great time for the media to engage in some sober reflection about their fear mongering. I doubt they will. 

Signs from the Road

I recall that AVI visited Craggy Gardens on a recent trip. Maybe he’ll link his post in the comments. 

The “Federal Facility” they are threatening me with five years in prison for entering without removal of my belt knife is a gift shop.

Apparently they think motorcycle pipes are like Jake brakes.

There is exactly one book in the Philosophy section, and it’s on psychology.

On the other hand, this is the best selection of “Witchy stickers” that I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s the only one I’ve ever seen.

Now you’re talking.

On the Road

Highway 281 could use some attention, NCDOT

My son and I are riding up to the Grandfather Mountain Scottish Highland Games. There may be posts from the road. 

Happy 12th of July

 


It's not just the brain pudding

As Kim Strassel points out, it's the abysmal policies:
Don’t forget how a man pushing 80 came to office. The 2020 Democratic primary was dominated by candidates vying to curry favor with a rising progressive left. Worried that Bernie Sanders would kill a chance at the White House, voters turned to the only fixture who claimed to be moderate. He was a two-time presidential primary loser, as old as Methuselah, and slipping even then, but whatever. He was deemed the only candidate able to beat Donald Trump, which was probably true. Even four years ago, the party understood pure progressivism to be a political liability.
That self-preservation went out the window when Mr. Biden gave full rein to the Sanders platform. Blowout spending fueled the worst inflation in 40 years. Open borders caused a migrant flood that is overwhelming cities in red and blue states alike. A climate agenda fed higher energy prices and grid instability and squelched consumer choice. Washington made common cause with progressive prosecutors who enabled a crime wave in major cities. A “foreign policy for the middle class”—whatever that means—emboldened America’s adversaries.
The president who ran on uniting the country and restoring “standards and norms” also bowed to the far left’s worldview that the ends justify the means. The Justice Department signed on to the progressive lawfare campaign, unleashing criminal prosecutions against Mr. Trump and fueling fury among Republicans. Independents and moderates look with unease on actions the courts found unlawful—Covid mandates, student-loan forgiveness, environmental policy—and Democratic promises to pack the Supreme Court and federalize election law.

Terrorists!

Fort Liberty (known as Fort Bragg until this administration) is training its gate guards on threats. 


Not fake news: FT Liberty Public Affairs has issued a statement about it via their Facebook page and Twitter page

Farcical Reagan

As the editor points out in commentary to a link Tex posted in the comments, there's an exception on the subject of immigration; but in general, the effect of Trump on the Republican agenda has been one of moderating its crusader positions in favor of a federalist approach of letting different states do different things

It's not just abortion, which the Republican party now no longer pledges to see banned nationwide; it's also gun rights, which are now mentioned only once in passing. There's no national agenda to expand them, or to nominate judges who will defend them, or to have nationwide concealed carry reciprocity nor Constitutional carry. With my carry license from North Carolina, I can carry freely in 38 states; in a few of the remaining states, it's a felony for me to do so. Trump doesn't care about that, and isn't planning to devote time or energy to it.

He's also expressed public derision for the Heritage Foundation's Project 2025, which has sourced some fifty-thousand plus loyalists who are ready and vetted to go to work for him. (I've heard good things about this from Jim Hanson, who has discussed the program with Heritage; I haven't personally done so.) Trump's first term was bedeviled by personnel problems of exactly the sort they are trying to help him avoid, but for now he just seems to want to avoid anything that scares the normals.

He may also possibly fear assassination, which is a live possibility if people consider him the tyrannical threat he's painted as in the media. However, Democrats know that's not really true, as we saw Joe Biden admitting yesterday, and as a new article says many Democrats admit privately. Trump was himself a New York Democrat most of his life, and his positions -- soft on abortion, soft on guns, focused on improving the economy and bringing in prosperity -- are something like the consensus positions of the 80s and 90s that were his real heyday. 

On the 'history repeats itself, the second time as farce' model, Trump can be seen as the farcical version of Reagan. Reagan was soft on guns too: the main check on people buying automatic weapons isn't the 1930s NFA, which allows it with extra background checks and permits, but a Reagan-era law that requires that all such weapons for sale privately be manufactured before 1986. As time goes on, that means that practically there are fewer and fewer available for purchase, and they are more and more expensive. Reagan was rhetorically strong on abortion but appointed the justice who wrote Casey, and he himself had signed legislation as governor of California that allowed abortion to 20 weeks. 

So New York or California values, married to occasionally strong rhetoric but lacking in conviction practically. Trump may share Reagan's suspicion of the Federal Government now that he's been subjected to its harassment, but he isn't philosophically opposed to a strong central government exercising power in the same way; my only hope there is that he will end up dismantling a lot of the parts that need it out of personal animus. 

Not exactly the 'Hitler in waiting' we are daily promised in the media. Of course, the media treated Reagan much the same way; you'd have thought he was going to destroy the world any second now if you listened to them. 

NC Board of Elections

The North Carolina Board of Elections has decided not to allow three third parties on the ballot for the general election this year — but they are making room for the Constitution Party. 

So, all three parties that give Democratic voters an option (RFK’s, Cornel West’s, and the Green Party) will be omitted from the ballot. The one party likely to draw from the Republican vote will be included. They had earlier added the Libertarians and No Labels. 

The BoE is controlled by Democrats because the Governor, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat. 

Topsy-turvy world

Articles like this Guardian piece confuse me. The authors seem to be serious, but there's such a looking-glass quality to the arguments and assumptions. They're alarmed that the new Republican platform, attributed to Trump, is moderate and popular, which makes it dangerous, because people might like it. They complain that Trump is adoping policies and positions that by rights belong to Democrats; they're apparently unaware that it's been a long time since Democrats pursued those policies.
Rather than running on the Biden administration’s oversight of job growth in distressed areas and its new industrial policy, liberals seem content to do battle on the cultural front. This discursive failing has allowed common sense policies that are more reflective of the governing practice of today’s Democratic party – from defending the social safety net to growing manufacturing jobs – to become rebranded as the bread-and-butter of the Republican party.
The Biden administration has been pursuing job growth in distressed areas and a new industrial policy?
In power, it’s likely that Trump will once again betray his working-class supporters and govern like a typical business conservative, because he is utterly committed to more tax cuts and weakening trade unions.
The authors appear unaware of the appeal to current working-class supporters of policies like reasonable tax rates and curbs on corrupt trade unions.

They complain that Trump was supposed to destroy the Republican Party, but instead he made it stronger.
And in office, he reassured establishment figures by coupling largely symbolic protectionist measures with the deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy that one would have expected from a Mitt Romney administration.
In what universe? Where do they get these ideas about what a man like Romney would have done in office?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they're so baffled. They don't seem able to look at anything outside their own heads.

A Happier Conan


I built that toy for him when he was a little puppy

Against World-Changers

The NYT explains France:
A coarsening of public discourse and contempt for mainstream parties have politicians on both sides denouncing what they say are extreme positions by their opponents, analysts say.
They draw this subhead from a man they interviewed:
Wojciech Przybylski, president of Res Publica Foundation, a research group in Warsaw, said there had been a coarsening of political discourse and a growing contempt on both ends of the spectrum for mainstream forces.

That, he said, reminded him of Poland between the world wars, when the far left and the far right rallied, sometimes violently, against the central government.

Today, he said, both “are united against globalization and claim to be defending the so-called average man against elites.”
The loss of confidence in what they are calling "mainstream" parties was well-earned. These include both of our parties as well as they do Macron's or Merkel's. As Richard Fernandez writes, these parties internationally are trying to commit humanity to one of the greatest gambles humanity has ever taken. And they're doing it by force, against the will of the majority of humanity as well as their citizenries. 
Yet food redesign is not the almost painless step it is made out to be but rather a wrenching change for almost everyone involved in agriculture, as shown by 2024 European farmers' protests. Chief among the grievances were proposed environmental regulations (such as a carbon tax, pesticide bans, nitrogen emissions curbs, and restrictions on water and land usage) that are part of the "nature positive" agriculture initiative. The resulting protests ultimately led to the fall of many governments throughout the continent. "Angry farmers are reshaping Europe," proclaims the New York Times, "as the far right senses an opportunity".
“The graduates of elite schools that run this country have no idea about farm life, or even what a day’s labor feels like,” Mr. Monnery said. “They’re perched up there, the successors to our royal family, Macron chief among them."
Is this a case of rural know-nothings resenting their betters or are the farmers right to resist? Because 37 percent of the world's land area is devoted to agriculture, employs a quarter of the global workforce and encompasses so many varied ecosystems and social milieus, changing the way multitudes of people produce food is perhaps the greatest social engineering project in history.

No government has a mandate for that. No ordinary election could generate such a mandate in any event: all elections are for is to decide who will govern the existing polity. Elections by nature are more conservative, as they presume that the incoming party will govern an existing order. This sort of total reform of society requires at minimum something like a constitutional convention; more likely, a revolutionary war. 

So you have people, ordinary people who really are 'mainstream' in the proper sense of the term, looking at other options that will resist this revolutionary war that is being fought against them. The radicals are really the conservatives: they both propose to resist that revolution, whether from the right or from the left. The coarsening of discourse is the effect of ordinary people, who aren't so refined as the Wise, getting dragged into politics because their worlds are being destroyed by those who have made politics their profession.

Meanwhile the NYT and its ilk are in no position to talk about coarsening discourse. They're the ones who painted Mitt Romney as a dog-abusing misogynistic monster. I don't like Mitt Romney at all, but he's clearly one of that refined-discourse order, the sort of person who takes jobs with international organizations and addresses them fluently in their native French. You're the ones, liberal journalists, who coarsened the discourse in ways that ended up radicalizing the populace. It's at least as much your fault as anyone's. I can't open a paper today without reading about how your opponents are all racists and haters and liars, led by a "felon." It's the twilight of democracy if you don't get your way!

Even Joe Biden doesn't see it that way, as John Stewart points out (the whole video is a stinging indictment of the Biden campaign, without being an endorsement of Trump).


If you don't like this, stop using political power to destroy your own civilizations. As long as the political professionals keep doing that, they're going to run into opposition. They deserve to run into opposition. It is vital and important that they be opposed and defeated. 

It's also important who does it -- the Communist Party in France is one of those claiming that they'll be the successful destroyers, a claim that their résumé does at least support. You definitely don't want to be ruled by Communists, whose very similar effort to reform farming led to some 30-60 million deaths in China alone. Hopefully beating the world-changers can be done without committing yourself to another world-changing philosophy with no better track record of avoiding massive human misery. Still, it's no surprise that there's a unifying call to defeat these 'mainstream' parties from both left and right. They deserve to be defeated. 

Good!

A series of pre-election lawsuits against bad voting practices has been initiated by the GOP. This is one of the things that was missing in 2020, meaning that after the election courts mostly dismissed lawsuits about bad practices as laches, 'too late.' These may well be dismissed as unripe, meaning 'too early.' However, they may not all be; and if they are, at least when they're brought up again after the election it will be harder to just rule them too late since an earlier court will have explicitly told them to wait. 

Unfortunately, in the current environment lawsuits will have to accompany major elections all the time. This has been a longstanding practice on the other side, where voter ID rules or other election security practices are routinely subject to lawsuits to try to get a court to suspend them. It's not usually the DNC but an allied 'civil rights' group, claiming that the intent is not ballot security but disenfranchisement of a class of voters. It's about time that election security advocates got in the game, because they've been getting drug over the coals by similar practices for decades.

Dog Wanting Rescue

Don’t be so dramatic, Conan. It’s just a bath.

Dog rescue

Inspiring before and after pictures of our most recent dog rescue: 58 lbs., which was skeletal, to 89 lbs., which appears to be his ideal weight:
He's about to start heartworm treatment, but in about 2-3 months he'll be available for adoption. The rescue group for which I'm fostering him would like to place him somewhere a little further north. He has beautiful indoor and outdoor manners with people, other dogs, and cats, but is a large vigorous animal who would be happiest somewhere he could run around outdoors in a cooler climate. The rescue group pays for transport.

I was feeding this guy 16 cups of food a day when he arrived in April or May. I tapered him off as he recovered, and he's eating 4 cups a day now.

What'd'ja Expect?

DB: "President who dropped Afghans from sky asks why you thought Gaza pier would go any better."

Liberal Language

I really like our local paper, the Smoky Mountain News, in spite of its very clear liberal bent. They do good journalism and get the facts right. It is wearisome having every single story described in that liberal context, but compared to the way that far wealthier outfits don't even bother to get the facts right, it's good for what journalism has become. 

The problem is that the profession has become such an echo chamber that they can't even be fair when they're trying to be fair. It's not as if they don't make an effort to be. They just can't.

For example, here's a story about the abortion issue. The headline is  as "Roundtable sheds light on threat to abortion care." So (a) the opposing view is a threat, and (b) abortion isn't just abortion, it's a form of "care." The story is literally an attempt to describe a roundtable that discusses the issue, and the news involves giving the views of each side. And they try:
Right to life advocates view abortion as an attack on human life.
It's not the opinion, i.e. 'view,' of right to life advocates that abortion is an attack on human life. It is an indisputable fact that abortion necessarily involves the destruction of a human life. The view is that it is wrong to destroy an innocent human life absent some very compelling reason to do so -- usually even right to life advocates are willing to accept genuine medical necessities arising from things like intratubal pregnancies, where a refusal to perform the abortion would not save the baby but would ensure the death of the mother. 

You don't have to take that view, but you can't reasonably reject the fact

A lot of right-to-life advocates even think that rape and/or incest are good enough reasons to allow killing the innocent human being. The guy they are citing as an example, Mark Robinson, takes that view. They credit him for that view, and say he has "softened" his stance over time. Softness and caring are on the pro-killing side. Hardness and uncaring is, unconsciously I believe, associated with the side that is opposed to the killing of human beings. 

Here's another story where they legitimately are trying to be fair, and just can't quite. This one is about the new Pride festival in Haywood County's seat of Waynesville, for some reason scheduled after Pride month. (The one in Sylva is much later still -- they've taken over Labor Day weekend for it, even though Labor Day was a good left-wing cause already. The burly union man has been getting less and less popular among this crowd for a generation or so, though once the mainstay of their political influence.)
For many, a Pride festival is a fairly straightforward event, a celebration of unity among people marginalized for who they are and who they love. But in a purer sense, Haywood County’s historic first Pride festival and a competing prayer meeting held the night before were both compelling exercises of constitutionally protected rights, suggesting maybe — just maybe — that Americans can, in fact, disagree without being disagreeable.
That's not a bad opening. It does suggest that the normal opinion, "for many," is that Pride is "straightforward" and about love. It does allow the "competing prayer meeting" to exist in an permissible category of constitutional activity that can even be respectful. 

They go on to frame the story in terms of the one LGBTQ advocate who showed up to the prayer meeting, and offered a biblical citation in support of her position -- a citation they don't bother to quote, but that they do praise as a "courageous speech." Later on they mention it involved citations from Acts 10, but they don't offer the citations or the argument so that it might be evaluated. Why would you? They don't quote anyone else's biblical citations either; the only approved use of biblical citations is to defend left-wing political positions, and it's not really important whether those citations are plausibly constructed. Nobody serious believes in the Bible anyway, not really

They did quote her as saying "I just wanted to offer it to you, with an open heart, to consider that maybe that which you are calling 'unclean' God does not call 'unclean.'" Thus, I'm guessing it was this passage:
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

So the argument would be something like: just as God can make clean for eating animals that the Jews were previously told in clear scripture were unclean, so too God could make homosexuality clean even though earlier scripture held that it was not clean. 

It's a reasonable parallel. One could argue that no similar vision has been sent to a prophet to inform them of the new status of the previously unclean, but who knows if that's true or not? It's very hard to identify true prophets, and we haven't necessarily heard if God sent that message to one. The argument does show that the clearly and demonstrably unclean has been made clean once; why couldn't it happen twice? 

The piece would have been stronger if the journalists had included that argument, without becoming an editorial because it would have just been straight news about what the advocate said at the prayer meeting. But they didn't include it, because it never occurred to them to think that a biblical argument was actually important. 

The piece goes on to talk about the Pride festival, giving parts of what it calls the "rousing speech." Again, language on their side is "courageous" and "rousing." The other side is mostly quoted as warning itself not to be hateful, which shows that side is constantly tempted to hate. 

It's a good newspaper, really. We're lucky to have it. They're trying their best, too. They just can't do it.

That's OK, We'll Just Vote Again

It's an interesting feature of the French constitution that the loss of an election can allow the sitting-but-just-voted-against President to call for another election immediately. This time they got a more palatable result to the elites: instead of a right-wing government, they'll have a coalition with their very hard left. Whatever it takes to keep the right wing out of power! They could have voted ten more times if necessary.

UPDATE: See discussion for further clarification of French election laws.

Bikeriders: The Song.


 

The band Lucero wrote a song about the book, The Bikeriders, back in 2005. Unsurprisingly, it was included in the movie soundtrack. It’s a good song and the pictures in the video are actually from the book.

News of a more local sort

This is the difference a small path divergence can make for a small tropical system: A much weakened Beryl took steady aim for several days at an area just south of the Mexican border. Then for a day or two the forecast pointed right at my home, before it started to drift further up the coast on Thursday. At that point I released my reservation with a contractor to put up my storm shutters, even knowing that I'm still convalescing and couldn't do it alone, while Greg's back (though improving) wouldn't permit him to help at all. Friday the track wobbled between us and further east.

On Saturday I managed to get two strapping young men out here to pull lawn furniture and some potted plants into the garage, but I released them as well without making them stay to put a shutter even on a big double door that opens inward and gave us the worst time during Harvey.

In the end, the storm has set sail for tiny Palacios, halfway to Houston from here. It may briefly regain hurricane status and make landfall with 75-85mph winds, heading almost directly for the coastal and isolated South Texas Nuclear Plant on its way to College Station and then Texarkana, missing both Houston and Dallas.

On this map, our little peninsula is just west of the first bay shown east of Corpus Christi, called "Espiritu Santo." (Our bay, Copano, is too small to show up here; not even Corpus's much bigger bay is visible. Landfall is expected just east of Matagorda Bay, the large bay down the coast from Houston's Galveston Bay.) Here at home, we'll likely get some light wind and, if we're lucky, 2-3 inches of rain.

Greg is dutifully but gingerly doing his PT. Knock on wood, it seems he may not need surgery, if his little enzymes continue to eat up the bits of extruded disc. Considering that he's been out of commission for two months, that's surprising but welcome news, like this storm track and minor intensity.

A Different Perspective: The Bikeriders


 I saw the Bikeriders today and my reaction to the movie was a bit different than Grim’s. As Grim pointed out, the movie is based on Danny Lyon’s photobook, The Bikeriders and you have to understand it in that context. The movie provides a pretty fair dramatization of the book.  

The movie tells the story of the founding, and dark metamorphosis, of the Vandals Motorcycle Club, a fictional representation of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club that was the focus of the book. The movie tells the story through the experiences of Johnny (the club president), Benny (Johnny’s right-hand man), and Kathy (Benny's wife). These characters were actually in Danny Lyon’s book and provided some of the recollections he included. Consequently, I didn’t find it odd that the Kathy character narrated some, by no means all, of the plot. That is not inconsistent with the book.     

Kathy is the perfect character to provide the narration she does at different times throughout the movie. While she is closely associated with the club, she is not a member. She is not an outsider but neither is she an insider. She shares the values and aspirations of mainstream society (a stable family life and respectability) while simultaneously being immersed in the biker culture (riding and hard partying) due to her marriage to Benny.  Consequently, her character provides a both a contrast to, and a bridge between, biker culture and mainstream American society.

In many ways, the male lead of the movie is actually Johnny, played by Tom Hardy. At least he was my favorite character. He represents the original biker culture and ethos while providing the order, discipline, and leadership necessary to forge a group of outcasts into a functioning organization. His story illustrates the fall of the original, post WWII, 1% motorcycle club culture and its replacement with the much darker variant that emerged in the 60’s. Anyone interested in learning about the original motorcycle club culture should read The Original Wild Ones: Tales of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club

I don’t agree with Grim’s assessment of the Benny character played by Austin Butler. His character doesn’t lack agency, in fact, his refusal to surrender it is the central theme of his story. Benny represents the contradiction at the heart of motorcycle club life. On one hand he seeks the total freedom the motorcycle club sells itself as representing. On the other hand, the club is making increased demands on him that will strip that freedom away. Johnny wants Benny to take over leadership of the club but Benny refuses because doing so will replace his freedom with responsibility. Kathy wants him to leave the club as it becomes more violent and drug influenced but he also rejects her demands because doing so would also surrender his freedom.

Grim said that “In the movie the ending of that story is very sad, even though (or partly because) the lovebirds escape to a 'happy' life without motorcycles, brotherhood, honor or valor.” I didn’t see it that way. Benny didn’t leave the club until after the club abandons brotherhood, honor, and valor.  Once the club became a criminal organization that had no issue with killing its own members it ceased to be the club Benny joined and Johnny founded.  When the club chose a new darker path that Benny was unwilling to follow, honor demanded that he leave.   

Grim claims the script writer denied the characters agency due to the choices they made. Once again, I disagree. The story told through the characters of Johnny, Benny, and Kathy track the experience of Danny Lyon as recounted in his book. He actually became a patched member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club but eventually left the club due to the very dark and violent direction the club eventually followed. As I said at the beginning of this review, you have to understand the movie in the context of the book upon which it is based.

I do agree with Grim’s statement that the movie is a “Strong drama, and a good study of an earlier set of generations.” I highly recommend the movie.  

Another Federal Victory

Dad29 sends this news of an FBI victory over a Nazi motorcycle club — one that they themselves founded. 

Apparently, someone in the FBI had the idea of merging a domestic terrorism case with a biker case. Killian planted the idea in Kreis’s head to start a neo-Nazi motorcycle club, the 1st SS Kavallerie Brigade Motorcycle Division—named after a horse-mounted unit of Nazi Germany’s Waffen-SS….

So they couldn’t get the Outlaws MC to have anything to do with this. They clearly want there to be Nazi MCs. I guess they watch old movies where the bikers wear Nazi emblems, without grasping that they meant something different by them. They had these things as war trophies, either their own or from friends who passed them down. They weren’t declaring allegiance to the enemy, they were counting coup and showing brotherhood with their own. Since that generation, the usage has fallen away. There is no longing for Nazi-themed clubs, which is why they had to build one.

But they want the American right to be Nazis, so they just keep believing. They convinced dude to set one up, in partnership with him, and then they had a state attorney knock it down.

We decided to strike against the Kavallerie Brigade by bringing these heavy-duty drug charges to shut the active members down,” Foster reportedly said, bragging about shutting down an FBI front group.

Emphasis added both times. 

So just remember that anyone who wants you to join them in celebrating Nazis is a Fed. Anyone who wants to talk even in theory about the potential need for bombs is a Fed. Anyone who wants to speculate about using guns to stage attacks is a Fed. 

This is basically the same story as several other stories we’ve seen lately. The secret police are working hard, which may not be obvious from all the Hamas-friendly groups running around. 

Tangled web

It's no picnic keeping straight the ostensible reasons for denying Kamala Harris a shot at the top position in the White House. Sure, there's the obvious problem that she's an unpleasant fool. But then how to explain how she ended up as VP in the first place? No one wants to admit explicitly that she has literally zero redeeming qualities beyond checking intersection boxes, still less that her appeal (like that of her boss before her, to a lesser extent) was the in terrorem effect of imagining the impact of the sitting president's exit. And yet that seems to be the exact corner they're backed into.

OK, say Harris is great but doesn't appeal to the foolish masses, though party leaders assert their sophisticated ability to appreciate her privately. So how come no one thinks it would be a good idea to put her on a new ticket under Newson or Whitmer as VP? She's so unelectable that she'd drag down the newly anointed candidate for the top position?

Knock her leadership experience? True, she was an undistinguished senator, but she has been VP for four years. The problem there is that she has been sidelined as VP even more, perhaps, than the usual hapless possessor of that office. "Groomed for the top seat" she is not, even in the context of a top spot that for several years has been filled by various unelected flacks, in short anyone or everyone but the technical holder to that position. But calling attention to Harris's hollow title doesn't do much to pander to the black or female vote, or the lack of seriousness of an administration or a party who couldn't face up to the real danger that an unusually elderly president might not make it even through his first term.

Black Turlogh

Here are a pair of articles about one of Robert E. Howard’s lesser-known heroes, Turlogh Dubh O’Brien. “Dubh” is Gaelic for “black”; with reference to the previous post, the name “Douglas” is an anglicized version of “Dubhglas,” which translates literally as “Blackwater.”

Modern readers usually forget that the Cimmerians were supposed to have been the ancestors of the Scottish Highlanders and Irish Gaels. The movies often use the term “Northman,” which was originally used for the Norse of Norway. Even when Howard wants to write about the Vikings, he usually introduces a Gaelic leader, more often Cormac Mac Art. (The Vikings, meanwhile, were Danes in those stories).

Privateers

There’s no ‘constitutional right’ at work here, in spite of the headline, but you can get Congress’ permission.
It may not get much publicity, but there it is, smack-dab in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution: Congress has the power to grant citizens “letters of marque and reprisal.” Meaning that, with Congress’s permission, private citizens can load weapons onto their fishing boats, head out to the high seas, capture enemy vessels, and keep the booty. Back in the day, these patriotic pirates were known as “privateers.” At the start of the Revolutionary War, America had a meager navy, so we had to rely on these privateers, who captured nearly two thousand British vessels and confiscated vast amounts of food, uniforms, weapons, and barrels of sherry....

The Founding Fathers were big fans of privateers. Late in life, John Adams wrote glowingly about the 1775 Massachusetts law that first legalized them, calling it “one of the most important documents in history. The Declaration of Independence is a brimborion in comparison with it.”

The author is playing this for laughs, while trying to make the point that originalist thinking is foolish. 

For several minutes, we spoke about originalism and the Constitution. Though it’s obscure, the privateering clause highlights that this document—for all its brilliance and prescience—was written in a vastly different time. Some passages—such as those about the “blessings of liberty” and “equal protection”—are timeless. But others are clearly the product of the eighteenth century.
He would not know this, but there has been quite a lot of recent thought given to restoring privateering. During the early phases of the Global War on Terror, it was regularly discussed as a way of making the market work against the problem. Not just at sea, either: just as land-based forms were used in the 19th century, known as ‘filibusters,’ so too there was considerable thought given to licensing private armies with similar privileges to seize prizes to fight terrorist forces in Africa and elsewhere. 

Probably the best known example is Erik Prince of Blackwater fame, who proposed doing exactly that in Africa and in Ukraine. In the end the government decided that it preferred to keep direct control over armed forces, but consider how poorly that strategy ultimately fared. Really the Russian government did what Prince wanted with the Wagner group, fairly successfully. Those forces proved unreliable against American-backed irregulars in Syria, and haven’t been effective in Ukraine, but they were pretty effective against Islamist irregulars across Africa. 

China, meanwhile, is effectively using a ’gray zone fleet’ of fishing privateers to war against the Philippines over control of the sea lanes and fishing areas. It’s proving quite difficult to contest effectively. Privateers are in play right now. 

Less piratical but still more on the side of militia forces, several US States maintain naval militia to this day. 

It may be that walking around in a tricorn hat and writing petitions with a quill pen s carrying a lot of the weight of making this originalist idea seem dated. With a little more attention, like other constitutional matters it too proves to be of continuing interest. 

Spangled


 

Red, White, and Blue breakfast with huckleberry jam. 

Independence Day

The wife and I rode over to the unincorporated village of Cashiers for their fireworks show. Cashiers is an interesting little mountain town. It has no government, but somehow has a fully-funded independent rescue service, fire department, and ambulance service. It only has seven hundred residents, but this time of year there's about twenty-five thousand people there on vacation in condos or second homes. It's a very pleasant little town, which enjoys its anarchy so much that it turned down an invitation from the state legislature to formally re-incorporate. 

Fireworks were pleasant and plentiful, and then we rode home. It's a promising start to the Independence Day holiday, which we will be celebrating intensely as always. It's the most wonderful time of the year.


Brought to you from the other half of the Range 15 team, the ones who don't sell coffee these days.

Like a Fox


I was introduced to this song at a very young age by Banks & Shane, the band from Atlanta. For many years I didn’t understand it at all. My limited understanding of women forbade it. 

In a way it is really only now that I understand the song. I suppose it is amazing that I maintained such a naive view of women until my 50th year. Maybe I have mostly just known good and virtuous women. 

Fist-Fighting

There's probably something healthy about fighting that our society refuses to accept. At a recent concert out Texas way a young singer named Miranda Lambert broke up a fight between some female fans (verbally), and then had the wisdom to set terms for when fighting was allowed during her set. Like G. K. Chesterton said about Christianity, it has the wisdom to divide the world in recognition of human nature: "Here you can swagger, there you can grovel." 
Any one might say that we should be neither quite miserable nor quite happy. But to find out how far one MAY be quite miserable without making it impossible to be quite happy—that was a discovery in psychology. Any one might say, “Neither swagger nor grovel”; and it would have been a limit. But to say, “Here you can swagger and there you can grovel”—that was an emancipation.

One of the thing about The Bikeriders movie that is striking is how little violence is in it -- and the worst of that either from those completely outside motorcycle culture, or those from the younger generation who had been explicitly rejected as unworthy for the culture and who found a way to worm their way in anyway. Early in the film Johnny faces a challenge, and asks if it should be answered with fists or knives. "Well, I don't want to kill you," the other man says, so they just fight with fists. Likewise in a later brawl, Johnny spends his time either trying to avoid it or breaking it up, and all the sides drink beer and become friends afterwards. There's another scene of drunken brawling, but it's just for fun. Nobody is really trying to hurt anybody.

In my generation, the great film was Fight Club. That film (and its earlier book) supposed that the way the culture had changed to forbid fighting had caused a kind of real psychic damage to young men. The earlier age depicted in the newer film allowed younger men to brawl on the weekends, under the eyes and guidance of older men who didn't anymore wish to, then go back to work on Monday. 

Fight Club suggests that the popularity of the fight, once released, will ennoble the men so that they can overthrow the whole world and end a civilization that hates them. The Bikeriders thinks they'll keep steady jobs if you just let them be themselves and don't make a big thing about the occasional fistfight. They're just blue collar guys, working things out for themselves. They'll be back on Monday to drive the truck or turn the wrench or whatever.

Maybe we shouldn't make such a big deal about it. The law says it's all 'simple assault' and subject to arrest and court intervention, but it really shouldn't be. No harm, no foul: and mostly, there's not really any harm. We're probably better off if we make room for it, especially for those who choose fists over knives, and leave the guns alone.

A Moment of Equality

For one brief shining moment, the Democratic Party treats its own just as shabbily as it treats everyone else. 
Multiple committee members on the call, most granted anonymity to talk about the private discussion, described feeling like they were being gaslighted.... Harrison offered what they described as a rosy assessment of Biden’s path forward. The chat function was disabled and there were no questions allowed.

Even the Inner Party eventually isn’t trusted.  

UPDATE: The first Democratic Congressman calls on Biden to withdraw.  

"Chevron deference" primer

Glen Reynolds sorts out some of the ignorant raving about the recent "power grab" that reversed the Chevron deference doctrine. What the Supreme Court ruled is that Congress passes laws, the executive branch enforces them as written, and courts kick them back to Congress if they're ambiguous and need to be amended. If executive-branch bureaucrats find a statute's actual words ill-suited to whatever their newest enforcement crusade is in any particular year, the cure is to get Congress to use better words.

The way statists are squawking, you'd think the only question worth asking is whether a particular crop of bureaucrats is pursuing a good policy. To the contrary, it's equally important how policy is set and who has the Constitutional power to contest it.

This is much like the caterwauling over whether Supreme Court decisions promote good policy in a particular area of controversy. Unless the policy is enshrined in the Constitution or a law properly enacted by Congress, it's not the point in a Supreme Court decision. That Court is charged with ensuring that, if the Constitution or a statute is at fault, it must be amended legally. Not overturned by mobs in the street or jackbooted bureaucrats, but voted on by elected officials according to well-understood rules and precedents. That's the "rule of law," no matter how unhappy it makes the New York Times.

Immune-ish

Ed Morrissey has a pretty good summary of today's Supreme Court's ruling on Trump's immunity claims. Much of what is alleged against him fails before an immunity defense, such as anything in his core Constitutional duties, and most of what could conceivably be called his official duties, subject to a certain amount of potential rebuttal. Some of the allegations, however, could be considered outside his official duties, depending on how the evidence works out.

Justice Thomas would have thrown out the entire prosecution on the ground that the special counsel appointment was unauthorized, but he appears to have no allies on this issue.

Good plan

From Holly MathNerd's Substack:
If Trump has the sense to refuse another debate and simply run ads from this one, he will probably win decisively. He should release a statement referring to the Axios report in which Biden staffers describe Biden as only cognizant from 10am to 4pm and stating simply: “President Trump’s commitment to fair play precludes him from debating President Biden after sundown. If President Biden’s team would like to schedule a daytime debate to permit him to participate during his hours of best cognizance, we are amenable to that.” It would have the predictable seismic effect without risking any need to actually have a second debate.
More hot takes: Politico cited this "research" as concluding that
President Biden was hurt badly by the debate, but Donald Trump didn’t benefit on any measure, except the vote.
This after roughly 100% of the MSM reported the debate as a kind of bad night for the incumbent, but one marked primarily by a million unidentified lies from the ex-President. To be fair, it was hard to tell whether most of the gibberish emitted from the incumbent could be fairly described as a lie, or even an opinion, but it would have been reassuring if the MSM had been capable of criticizing the startling claims that no servicemen had died under the incumbent's watch, and that the Border Patrol supports his policies. Luckily, however, his poor debate performance affected nothing but the "vote"--apparently to be distinguished from "the official ballot count we plan to announce later."

Movie Review: The Bikeriders

Today my wife and son and I all went to see The Bikeriders. It's loosely based on a photo-book of the same name, which was an older locution for what we call "bikers." The movie has some interesting qualities. 

One of them is that the two leads have almost nothing to do with the plot. The male lead is almost inconsequential to the movie; he's there to serve as the love interest for the female lead, whose role is to narrate the plot rather than to much participate in it. That's a very strange structure for a movie; at one point I realized that the male lead was just sitting around watching things happen, and not actually participating in the action in any meaningful way.

That said, the movie offers a helpful study of how motorcycle culture evolved in America. I thought a particularly insightful note was about how the club split, not formally but informally, into the beer-drinkers and the pot-smokers. This was roughly generational: the World War II era bikers were rowdy beer-drinking men, but the Vietnam-era veterans had often experienced psychedelic drugs. They also had two very different experiences of their society's embrace of them and what they'd done, and you can see how the older generation finds the newer one wilder and increasingly impossible to control. 

The trick the movie plays on audiences of young people is that the 'young people' who are impossible to control are the Baby Boomers; this device is a way of helping today's young see how wild the Boomer generation was when it was young. These days Boomers are in the minds of the young stereotypically hidebound and devoted to the older America, but in 1969 the story was rather different. The eroticism of the male and female leads is really doing nothing but drawing the young audience members into the plot, which is about how two older Americas interacted with each other as much as it is about the evolution of motorcycle clubs. 

In the movie the ending of that story is very sad, even though (or partly because) the lovebirds escape to a 'happy' life without motorcycles, brotherhood, honor or valor. Partly that is why the ending is sad; partly it is a measure of the lack of agency the lead characters actually have. A character devoted to honor, who defended brotherhood with valor, would have had the agency the author of the script decided to deny to his characters. Yet the club ends up losing those qualities too, as the older generation fails to enforce or explain them and the younger one doesn’t understand them. In the broader world outside the movie also, the older generation was not able to convey its values to the younger generation in a way that would defend those values. This is the tragedy.

A consequence of having the female lead serve as the narrator is to make an essentially masculine story -- all the club members are male -- be told in a way that is accessible to women. It also points up how bad the earlier generation is at expressing their feelings: the president of the club, Johnny, is incapable of saying what he means much of the time, and only under great duress can admit his needs and limitations. When the time comes to say goodbye, he can't do that at all. Asked a second time by the female narrator why he's come by to see her for no reason that is apparent to her, he just reiterates that he doesn't need anything. 

Strong drama, and a good study of an earlier set of generations. Watch everyone except for the two people you're being led to believe are the core of the story and you'll find there is a lot to learn.