The money follows the student

This is a good round-up article about the recent smashing success of the school choice platform in Texas and the likely effects in other states. Some rare good news.

"No Evidence"

In an article about Biden's D-Day speech, the Washington Post has this paragraph:
Trump has sought to spin around concerns about his authoritarian instincts by accusing Biden of acting like a dictator or undermining democracy. He has repeatedly accused Biden of spearheading political prosecutions, though there is no evidence of White House involvement in the four criminal cases against Trump.

This has become a favorite locution since the 2020 election, about which we were endlessly told that there was "no evidence" of fraud or bad practices. In fact there is nearly endless evidence about it; what there wasn't was a formal inquiry that could turn evidence into proof. This is because courts resolved questions on issues like standing or timing, avoiding evidentiary hearings. But we never had proof that Saddam stole his 97% victories either; we just had evidence, evidence of exactly the same kind as we have about 2020.

As for these trials, there is also evidence that the Biden administration is involved

The House Judiciary Committee is investigating a top prosecutor on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against former President Trump for his past work as a senior Justice Department official during the Biden administration. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is demanding that Attorney General Merrick Garland turn over records related to the employment of Bragg prosecutor Matthew Colangelo amid a "perception" of coordination. 

The Post knows about this, because they wrote a story claiming to debunk what they described as a "theory." 

Among them: the idea that President Biden’s Justice Department was involved in the successful Manhattan criminal prosecution of Trump. (Trump was found guilty of 34 felony counts last week.) Trump has long blamed Biden for this prosecution, without any evidence.

The evidence that Garland didn't dispatch him to assist is, by the way, that Garland denies it. Of course you should believe the word of a public servant like Garland, or any FBI or ATF agent for that matter. So there's no evidence for the 'theory,' but Garland's denial is firm evidence. 

It's science, you know. Political science.

80 Years On

AI Cowboy

Out at the Cowboy State Daily, regular columnist Rod Miller had an AI produce this week's column after studying his style. 

I've been considering that as an experiment, but I can see from his results that it's not quite time yet.

Another Stupid Train Idea

The love affair with spending vast sums of money on trains nobody will ride continues. Asheville is in the early (but still expensive!) planning stages of adding an Amtrak spur line for tourism. It'll take many years and cost a fortune, but if all that money is spent we can expect the following travel times: 
Salisbury to Asheville
Train: 3 hours and 35 minutes
Car: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Bus: 3 hours and 30 minutes 
Raleigh to Asheville
Train: 6 hours and 47 minutes
Car: 3 hours and 50 minutes
Bus: 6 hours and 20 minutes 
Charlotte to Asheville
Train: 4 hours and 26 minutes
Car: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Bus: 2 hours and 55 minutes

So it's objectively worse on every option, as well as extremely expensive. (They're not even offering a comparison to flight times: Charlotte to Asheville is a route I fly regularly, and it takes about 30 minutes although you have to factor in security and other things too.) But it's a train, and good people love trains. 

Look, I like riding on trains too. It's peaceful and kind of a pleasant throwback to an earlier time. However, this isn't Europe, and trains just aren't practical in most of America. 

Virtue and Physical Fitness

Occasionally one reads columns like this one that suggest that physical fitness is somehow related to politics. 
OK, this is going to sound a little hypocritical, as I have hard-recommended every activity and pursuit, every wellness wheeze and rejuvenation exercise the modern world has dreamed up.... at some time or another, I have insisted to anyone who will listen that it’s only their failure to incorporate, say, a horse into their weekly schedule that is standing between them and their best self.
As a matter of fact, I have also written extensively about the importance of horses to achieving one's best self. It's been a while since it was a regular topic, but at one time that was a major focus of the blog. What I thought it inculcated was courage, not recklessness; gentleness, and the compassion necessary to understand a very different kind of mind and build trust with it; honor, to ride with other people as well as with your horse; and a capacity for building each of these virtues that can become a skill at building virtue itself. 

She worries that it might bring traits that she finds objectionable in politics.
The mechanism is incredibly simple: you embark on this voyage of self-improvement, and more or less immediately see results. You feel stronger and more energetic, probably your mood lifts, and pretty soon you think you are master of your own destiny. You’re still not, by the way: destiny does not care about your step count. But until that fact catches up with you, which it may never, there you are, high on self-righteousness. You can tell this has happened to you when you start inhaling performatively, like the hero of an Ayn Rand novel.

Inescapably, you start to situate other people’s problems within their failure to be as fit as you. This is particularly true if you don’t know them and they’re just a bunch of numbers. All those statistics – depressed people, obese people, people with IBS – imagine how much better they would be if only they took responsibility for their health, the way that you have.
There's always a correlation/causation issue with things like physical fitness and, say, disease; maybe people who are healthier are more likely to engage in physical activities than those who are less healthy to begin with, say. On the other hand, some causal events like stronger bones from strength training and stronger hearts from cardio are provable, and these seem to have follow-on causal effects on health. Likewise, it's pretty clear that exercise both teaches the body to adapt to stress and encourages it to produce higher levels of its own antioxidants. 

Still, what she's really worried about is that you might blame people for their bad luck if they aren't also physically fit. That's fair to some degree, and something to consider.

On the other hand, she is wrong about the nature of virtue. 
I realise it’s not really a question of an unwitting slide into fascism, hastened by a treadmill. It’s more that there is a fixed amount of excellence in any self, and the more you spend on your biceps, the less you have for your personality. 
It's only true that there's a zero-sum game insofar as you're spending all your time building virtue; then you might be building one sort or another. No one, however, is 100% focused on virtue-building. There's always capacity for more.

Rather, virtue building is a skill that you can learn, and you learn it by practice just like you do any of the virtues. Like many things in Aristotle, this is a matter that is conceptually severable even though as a matter of fact the activities are the same. I mean that you practice horseback riding (say) and you develop skill at horseback riding, but also courage, and gentleness, and the rest. Severably, you are learning how to build virtues by building all these virtues. When you want to build another one, you will have greater skill at the business of building any sort of virtue.

The question of what kind of morals one should have thus also ends up being severable. Whatever kind they ought to be, building the moral virtues to support successful practice of those things is just another virtue you can learn. If you've been developing your skills at virtue-building, it'll be easier and you will likely be more successful. All sorts of physical fitness can help with this (although you should be careful of ones that produce concussions, like boxing, where the negative physical effects on cognition may outweigh the virtue-building). It's good for you all the way around.


How is it that this spectacular event occurred 20 years, and I never heard a whisper of it? You'd think it would have been all anyone talked about for weeks.

Who's the Threat?

Maxine Waters: “I am going to spend some time with the criminal justice system, with the justice system, asking them, ‘Tell us what’s going on with the domestic terrorists. Are they preparing a civil war against us? Should we be concerned about our safety? What is he doing with this divisive language? It is dangerous, and we’re going to have to make sure that we understand, uh, that we’re not at risk with this man talkin’ in the way that he’s doing.'” 

Emphasis added. 


INSURRECTION: Anti-Israel protesters burn UC Berkeley police vehicle with ‘incendiary device’ in ‘retaliation’ for arrests. Have you noticed that MAGA people don’t “retaliate” for arrests?

Related: Yale students call for ‘open intifada,’ say activists should ‘escalate disruption’ and ‘paralyze all aspects of normal life.’

Berkeley and Yale students are aspirants to the ruling class, and usually also children of it; they're not a threat even if they actually firebomb police. The ones you've got to watch are the ones who aren't already powerful and privileged. 

UPDATE: Ayaan Hirsi Ali argues that those students are part of active subversion on the Soviet model.

Living in the West in 1983, Bezmenov gave a lecture in which he explained “Psychological Warfare, Subversion, and the Control of Society.” It begins:

Subversion refers to a process by which the values and principles of an established system are contradicted or reversed in an attempt to sabotage the existing social order and its structures of power, authority, tradition, hierarchy, and social norms. It involves a systematic attempt to overthrow or undermine a government or political system, often carried out by persons working secretly from within. Subversion is used as a tool to achieve political goals because it generally carries less risk, cost, and difficulty as opposed to open belligerency. The act of subversion can lead to the destruction or damage of an established system or government. In the context of ideological subversion, subversion aims to gradually change the perception and values of a society, ultimately leading to the undermining of its existing systems and beliefs.

The accompanying chart would seem to locate us in the "destabilization" phase, which last 2-5 years; ours started in 2020 with the BLM protests/riots and the Covid lockdowns (which, one recalls, made exceptions for the BLM protests), and now continues with these pro-Hamas protests. Assuming the chart were accurate, the next phase is 'crisis' (2-6 months) followed by Big Brother cementing its gains into a new, normalized system.

"I am not saying that Bezmenov’s formulation explains all that we are seeing. It clearly does not address all the West’s problems," she writes. "But once I immersed myself in his formulation, many of the topsy-turvy developments in our institutions fell into place."

Well, or it could be paranoia, which is to be staunchly resisted. But the riots are real enough, and the government continues not to enforce the laws upon them -- though they maintain a weather eye for any counterrevolutionaries that might emerge on the other side. Perhaps that's just a coincidence, though, class privilege playing out as I was discussing in the original post.

Expel New York

Long time blogger Don Surber advocates this -- I assume facetiously -- as part of a clean-up program. He ran a poll at the end that showed supermajority support among his readership for this, and majority support for giving Mexico back California. This is not the first time this suggestion has been made; Business Insider (clearly facetiously) found that seven states might be expelled to general pleasure (and not the ones I would have expected).

On the non-facetious side, Reason magazine found that a quarter of voters wanted to extract their own state from the union. They then polled about everybody else's state.
Of the 17 percent who thought that was a fine idea, there was an overwhelming favorite for who gets tossed from the moving vehicle: California.

Yes, the Golden State was the choice of a whopping 53 percent of respondents who thought yanking a star off the flag would make the world a better place.

New York came in second with 25 percent of votes, and Texas was third at 20 percent.

I don't know why anybody would want rid of Texas. The Reason article also links a very helpful map ranking the states by freedom (New Hampshire is #1: Live Free or Die!).

The thing is, we don't actually have a mechanism for any of this. We have very clear standards for admitting new states. There's no apparent mechanism for releasing states that want to leave, or expelling states against their will. 

A political project of mine is to restore the defunct state of Franklin, made up of parts of Western North Carolina and East Tennessee. Franklin would be pose a challenge to New Hampshire's #1 ranking as freest state, as the political culture of Appalachia has little enough use for governments. There is a constitutional mechanism for that, though it's a long shot: it needs approval by both houses of Congress as well as both the NC and TN legislatures. 

A Rainbow Sunset

The Sacred Flame

I suppose we'll continue the Pride Month series as long as it remains interesting. Today's entry is from D29.
So who are the martyrs of Uganda?  Now, that's a story you won't hear in these times, at least not from Fr. James Martin, SJ.
I'd never heard it from anybody, but even left-leaning Wikipedia agrees on the details. 
When preparations were completed and the day had come for the execution on 3 June 1886, Lwanga was separated from the others by the Guardian of the Sacred Flame for private execution, in keeping with custom. As he was being burnt, Lwanga said to the Guardian, "It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me."

Twelve Catholic boys and men and nine Anglicans were then burnt alive. Another Catholic, Mbaga Tuzinde, was clubbed to death for refusing to renounce Christianity, and his body was thrown into the furnace to be burned along with those of Lwanga and the others. The fury of the king was particularly inflamed against the Christians because they refused to participate in sexual acts with him.

I suppose it's a sort-of equality to recognize that homosexuals can be just as bad as anyone else. In any case, today is the feast day. 


"Doesn't appear the DOD ever publicized it."

Yeah, that's how JSOC works. 

Still the King

To round out the Texas Playboys discussions we've had lately, I'd like to point out an album that Spotify introduced to me this week. The whole thing is on YouTube.


Continuing the unexpected Pride Month series, an article (h/t Instapundit) about a university chancellor who lost his job* due to making pornography.
A statement from Universities of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman said that Chancellor Joe Gow was terminated on Dec. 27 following a unanimous vote from the UW Board of Regents.

“In recent days, we learned of specific conduct by Dr. Gow that has subjected the university to significant reputational harm,” Rothman said. “His actions were abhorrent.”

UW System Regent President Karen Walsh echoed this sentiment in a statement, saying Gow showed “reckless disregard for the role he was entrusted with,”  and that the board is “alarmed, and disgusted, by his actions, which were wholly and undeniably inconsistent with his role as chancellor.”

The firing comes after it was discovered that Gow had been producing and publishing pornographic content with his wife. The couple posts explicit content on X and porn websites, and hosts a YouTube channel called “Sexy Healthy Cooking,” which shows videos of them cooking alongside other porn actors and actresses.

The couple have also published two books under the pseudonyms Geri and Jay Hart, which they note “are the pen names of a married woman and man who serve in executive positions at two well-known organizations in the U.S.” on their Amazon author biography. 
I'm wondering what the community standard for "abhorrent" is at the University of Wisconsin; maybe D29 can comment on that. Naked cooking sounds pretty mild given the kinds of things that porn now embraces. Obviously I haven't seen their pornography, so maybe it's worse than it sounds. The books they have listed on Amazon sound like endorsements of open marriages, which while definitely not in the spirit of the institution of marriage is still on the conservative side for pornography.
Gow maintains that his actions are protected by the First Amendment, especially since he allegedly did not mention his position with the university during his pornographic work. 
Probably the 1A doesn't protect you from being fired by a private employer for your speech, but a state university is in a dubious middle position. 

* Lost his job as chancellor: as punishment he'll be 'transitioning' into a faculty role, where he can spend more time with students. Somehow this makes sense to people.