The Cathedral of May

A day celebrated here each year, as the fullest glory of springtime. The long and painful summer is coming, and fast, but for now there remain some good days ahead.

I've only seen one hummingbird this year, so far. The wife is worried that they might have had some sort of die-off event. I wonder if the truth isn't just that the flowers are so rich this year that so far they have seen no need to approach the feeders.

UPDATE: Many people are reminding me that today is also the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. Another thing to celebrate!

The Most Honest Speech of the Year

According to Vox, the only time Obama's really honest with us is when he pretends to be joking.

Self-Defense is Not the Issue

A blogger called Justin Curmi is writing about the Bill of Rights. He proposes an interesting lens: that controversies about the Constitution be re-evaluated in the light of the Preamble's "Five Aims." The blogger apparently has dyslexia, so let us excuse minor errors in spelling and grammar. He says that we should ask of any proposed reading the following questions:
Does is promote Justice?
Does it ensure domestic Tranquility?
Does it ensure the common defence?
Does it promote the general Welfare?
Does it secure the Blessings of our Liberty and Posterity?
So when he gets to the 2nd Amendment, he finds that there is clearly a right to keep and bear arms. However, he says, these arms should be kept only for the purpose of revolution. Self-defense should be illegal.
The main problem with the notion of self-defense is it imposes on justice, for everyone has the right for a fair trial. Therefore, using a firearm to defend oneself is not legal because if the attacker is killed, he or she is devoid of his or her rights. In addition, one’s mental capacity is a major factor in deciding whether a man or woman has the right to have a firearm.
This is not a terribly-well considered position. First of all, the right to defend one's self is fundamental to the first of the five aims -- the promotion of justice. How can it be just to ask someone to suffer assault, rape, or murder so that they do not deny their murderer or rapist the right to a fair trial? In fact, the right not to be murdered or assaulted is more basic than the right to a fair trial before being punished for one's murders or assaults. This can be seen by a simple thought experiment: in an ideally just world, no one would receive a fair trial for murder because no one would commit murder. However, in the same ideally just world, everyone would have their right not to be murdered actively respected. Thus, the right to a fair trial only comes into play when something has gone wrong. The right not to be murdered is merely a statement of what the ideally just condition would be.

Nevertheless, self-defense is not the real point of the 2nd Amendment at all. The real point of the 2nd Amendment is just what it says -- the security of a free state. A distributed defensive capacity among the citizenry is the best guarantee of a free state, and the state of freedom, against several common threats. It represents a better defense against many forms of terrorism than other options, such as massive surveillance of the population or a vast increase in police controls, because it better respects the state of freedom. It also means that terrorists (to include mass shooters of any stripe) have a harder time predicting where they will encounter resistance.

Thus, the carrying and use of arms defensively ensures all five of the "Five Aims." It promotes justice by reducing the incidence of violations of justice like murder and assault. It helps to ensure domestic Tranquility by making crime more dangerous and costly, which reduces crime rates. It is all about the common defense. The reduction in crime and increase in justice promotes the general welfare. And, compared with increased government control of our lives, it protects our free state against common dangers in a manner more consistent with securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

When you stop your own murderer, it's only by-the-way that you're defending yourself. What you're really defending is the common peace and lawful order. You're doing a just and good thing that will improve the whole society. It is always right to defend a citizen from being murdered, after all. It's merely incidental that the citizen happens to be yourself.

A Brutal Assessment

A book review of a new history of Clinton and Obama's time together is not complimentary. Well, not to the subjects of the history. The review is quite complimentary of the book.
There are many in-depth books dealing with individual aspects of U.S. foreign policy in recent years, but for a single work encompassing the Obama administration’s engagement with the world, it is hard to imagine one better. From the Arab Spring to the resurgence of Russia to the Iran nuclear deal, Landler reveals a president obsessed with making history, and a secretary of state weighing every move in light of her personal advancement. Really, “Alter Egos” could just be called “Egos.”


The president liked running foreign policy out of the West Wing, Landler explains, and “Clinton had trouble penetrating Obama’s clannish inner circle.” That inner circle was devoted to finding symbolic, legacy-building opportunities for the boss. Ben Rhodes, Obama’s foreign policy whisperer, regarded outreach to closed societies such as Cuba as “exactly what a history-making president like Obama should be doing,” Landler writes, and threw himself into secret negotiations with Havana. Obama saw the Iran nuclear agreement as a once-in-a-generation achievement and pursued it accordingly. And he fretted that historians would remember him for the wrong thing. “I don’t want to be just remembered as the drone president,” he said to a top adviser in 2012.
Obama's disastrous legacy in foreign policy has grown more and more clear as we have neared the end of his presidency. It's easy to see why. If one's motivating foreign policy principle is self-aggrandizement, everything else is to be sacrificed so that you can have a complimentary footnote in the books to be written after you die.

The irony is that, in fact, history will remember Obama as the president who unraveled the world and left it on fire. And the drone president, of course.

Another CAS Option: Erik Prince's "Thrush"

War is Boring describes it as a "fighting crop-duster." But if the enemy has no air force -- and no MANPADS, as Eric Blair notes -- why wouldn't this be a smart idea?

Oh, Come On!

Fortune: Only one in six F-35s can take off in recent testing exercise.

Friday Night AMV

A State Alchemist has to be hardcore.

This series was interesting in that its' magic had a real cost.

Motherhood is Service

In response to this foolishness about 'me-ternity leave,' I just want to link to a post from 2009. That's why we do it this way, and not some other way.

SFC Martland Update

Good to see the Army do the right thing by Green Beret Charles Martland. Spreading core American values like not raping children is well within the mission of the US Special Forces.

I say "core American values" rather than "universal human values" because, while you'd think this was the sort of thing people would just understand, Afghanistan proves that it isn't quite.

Boy Shoots Home Invader

A young man in Alabama, aged 11, shot a home intruder near Talladega. Something similar happened when I was growing up. I described the case eleven years ago.
In those days, Forsyth County was entirely rural. In the southern and eastern parts, it was cattle country, with green and rolling pastures being the main feature of the land. In the northwestern part of the county, it was timberland, and forestry was the main industry. A modestly large county, nevertheless there were often only two deputy sheriffs on duty at any shift. There was no other law, and not much need for any, but on the rare occasion that anything bad happened -- whether a fire or a car wreck or whatever -- they called out the volunteer Firemen to lend some extra, uniformed hands.

So this one day, just about six miles from my own childhood house, a couple of fifth grade kids were returning from their afternoon's sport: shooting their .22 rifles. It was probably target shooting rather than squirrel hunting, but either was a common passtime. They came out of the backcountry and onto their red-dirt road, and started walking home.

Passing a neighbor's house, they saw a couple of men they didn't recognize taking things out of it and loading it into a strange car. The two boys -- fifth graders, now -- yelled at the strangers to demand an answer as to why they were taking their neighbors' stuff. One of the men pulled a gun, and shot at them.

Well, he missed. They didn't, returning the fire with their rifles and getting him through the stomach. He and his friend panicked, but found themselves cut off from their car by the fusilade. One of the boys ran down a powerline cut to get to a bigger road, to flag help. The other tried to keep the strangers pinned.

The two strangers managed to break into a truck that was at the house they were robbing, and they went barreling down the road. However, the kid who went for help found some, and soon the Volunteer Fire Department had cut off all the local roads. By the time the deputy got there, Volunteers were standing in the middle of the roads with shotguns. Nobody had to go get one -- they were in the truck gun rack, in case they were needed.

After the two men drove off in the stolen truck, meanwhile, the other kid went home and informed his family of the robbery. They, along with their other neighbors, got into their trucks and went hunting. They recognized the stolen truck easily -- it belonged to their neighbor, after all -- and ran it off the road. The wounded man gave in at once, but the other one tried to escape into the woods. They chased him down and beat him with sticks until he surrendered.

Eventually, word of this got back to the deputy, who headed over to collect the prisoners. He, poor fellow, missed all the excitement but still got to write the report.

I'm told that was the last robbery in that end of the county for quite a little while.
Fifth graders are typically about eleven, I think.

Just War and Polite Philosophy

A professor of philosophy from Brown University, one Nomy Arpaly, argues that philosophy justifies rudeness in much the same way that war justifies violence.
It is a big part of moral behavior in ordinary situations not to kill people. Yet the morally healthy inhibition against killing people has to be lost, of necessity, in war—even in a morally justified war. It is a big part of politeness—not in the sense of using the right fork, but in the sense of civility—in ordinary situations not to tell another person that she is wrong and misguided about something she cares a lot about, or that she cares about being right about. For brevity’s sake, let’s just say it’s a big part of politeness or civility not to correct people. Yet the civilized inhibition against correcting people has to be lost, of necessity, in a philosophical argument.
The way she frames this is in terms of 'inhibition loss,' whereby one 'loses' the usual inhibition against killing/rudeness, and thus is in danger of losing other inhibitions along the way. She thinks the position of women in philosophy can be substantially improved simply by limiting the amount of rudeness in the discussion to 'no more than what is necessary,' in much the same way that Just War prohibitions against indiscriminate killing are helpful in preventing wars from being worse than they must be.

My experience is that polite philosophical discussion is not only possible, it's the case -- unless by "rudeness" you mean the odd thing she is framing as rude, the questioning of people's beliefs. Philosophy conferences are sometimes heated, but usually are extraordinarily polite. Philosophy conferences are also a great place to see things questioned all the way down to the ground. You will see people's entire belief systems destroyed in front of an audience, at times, but almost never in a way we would ordinarily describe as rude. It's only rude if you think it's improper to destroy ideas people care about. Sometimes, though, they're bad ideas.

Indeed, Arpaly's own work questions two of philosophy's most basic assumptions, the centrality of reason to morality and of deliberation to reason. Her opening example makes more sense if you read it in the context of that questioning.
I’ll never forget the old guy who asked me, at an APA interview: “suppose I wanted to slap you, and suppose I wanted to slap you because I thought you were giving us really bad answers, and I mistakenly believed that by slapping you I’ll bring out the best in you. Am I blameworthy?”.

When he said “suppose I wanted to slap you”, his butt actually left his chair for a moment and his hand was mimicking a slap in the air.
This turns out to be a highly relevant question, if desire ought to override reason in the way she is arguing it sometimes should. The prohibitions against violence (including all the ones in Just War theory) are rational principles. They arise not in the heat of the moment, but from abstracting away from the real situations of war to try to find ways in which these situations are alike. Those ways in which many different situations are alike are called "universals" by most philosophers -- I often say they are, properly speaking, analogies -- and the universals are rational objects. The reason we can craft general rules governing very different wars in different times and places is because of rational deliberation of this kind.

The assumption that such rationally derived rules should govern these interactions is just what she is questioning: sometimes, instead of favoring rationally derived rules, we should listen to our desires. She is proposing a system for doing that and suggesting we would be better off, at least sometimes, if we followed our hearts. Thus the question: what if my heart leads me to violence? Doesn't allowing desires to override rationally-derived rules weaken protections against violence, especially in cases where her proposed system seems to justify substituting desires for the rules derived in rational deliberation?

It's a good question. The fact that she wants to analogize the situation to Just War only makes it a better question. It seems as if a model like hers is going to need very strong rules to prevent licensing violence -- and, by extension, many other kinds of passionate behavior. Otherwise she will have to accept being slapped by someone who really has a desire to do it that is grounded in the right way for her system. Presumably, she is not willing to be slapped. Indeed, she finds even the pantomime of a slapping so objectionable that she's remembered it for years as a clear example of something offensive in philosophy. She is writing a piece specifically to call us not to do such things. To say that another way, she is proposing rules governing desired behavior, to be applied to situations like 'philosophical discussion' in general.

If it does need such rules, though, doesn't that undermine her whole model? Such rules are rational, and are being derived at a deliberative distance. Moral behavior ends up primarily involving containing such desires according to rationally-derived rules that come from deliberation. She just wants different rules, presumably ones that allow for the indulging of desires she approves of more often than is permitted by the rules we have now.

The fact that we can see that comes from the question. It suggests that her basic model is flawed, all the way to the ground. It's an insightful point. I wonder if she has a response, beyond the objection that it was rude.

"This is the fire pit you are looking for"

Another Ancient CAS Plane That Is Better Than The F-35

The real competitor to the A-10 is not the F-35, but the fifty-year-old Vietnam-era OV-10 Bronco.
To test whether the more than 50-year-old plane still had some fight in it, US Central Command (CENTCOM) sent two OV-10s to Iraq, where they flew 120 combat missions as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, with a 99% success rate.... Capable of carrying 3,000 pounds of ordinance, the Bronco can carry an overwhelming assortment of firepower for it’s small size, including either four 7.62mm machine guns, four .50 caliber machine guns, or a pair of 20mm cannons in addition to a loadout of rockets, missiles, and bombs as needed for the day’s mission...

One more fun trick the OV-10 does it drop a 5-man Special Forces ODA out the back.
Quite a bit of video at the link.

It lacks the A-10's survivability, but it does have a lot more flexibility. Boeing has been thinking about restarting production anyway, as it's cheap enough that lots of countries can afford it. As the initial article points out, it only costs $1,000 an hour to operate, compared with $40,000 for an F-15 (another fighter commonly bought by Third World American allies). For sake of comparison, the A-10 comes in at $11,500, and the F-35 at $39,000 an hour (well, or so they say -- when they get them working, we'll see what the cost really is). So the OV-10 is even cheaper to operate than a Predator drone.

"Pillars of Dishonesty"

An insightful comment on the state of the Presidential race.

Let's Have A Song

Yeah, I know it's Wednesday.


This guy really is good.


Sculptures on the Hebrides, or "he-brides," as they are sometimes mockingly named at Scottish Highland Games.

Of Course Spanking Works

The problem with this study making the rounds is that it assumes that spanking is supposed to generate obedience. Who wants to raise children who are obedient? What we want to raise is children who are self-sufficient and who don't cause us problems. They are children who learn to deal with power structures and pursue their own interests accordingly.

Which is exactly what the study says spanked children are like. They are capable of wielding deception, they are capable of wielding violence in their own interests, and they are capable of pretending to go-along-and-get-along when they aren't in positions of power.

They're Odysseus, in other words.

This is the matter of Plato's Hippias Minor, which treats the question of whether Odysseus or Achilles was the greater hero. The usual position of historians and philosophers is that this is a very unimportant dialogue, with a silly argument, that we might even doubt was Platonic except that Aristotle confirms that Plato wrote it.

That's not right at all. The point is that Plato was teaching the Athens that killed him that Socrates was a kind of Odysseus. Aristotle takes the 'simple' reductio argument of this dialogue seriously enough that he responds to it in the Nicomachean Ethics. This is very serious stuff.

What kind of a child are you trying to raise? An obedient one? Or Odysseus?


A ticket we talked about back in March has become a reality today. Good, I suppose. Certainly the best thing left out there.

High-Speed Dalai Lama

He operates, bro.

Apparently he really did say the thing about how it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. Everything else is just internet awesomeness.

Some appropriate music. And by 'appropriate,' I mean appropriate for this. NSFW.

Another Example of Tex's Kind of "Lesson"

The Pentagon has decided to test the A-10 against the F-35 in the role of close air support, to see which platform really serves the needs of forces on the ground best. Hot Air reports:
First, though, the Pentagon has to get its F-35s working properly. Tritten notes that the latest in a long series of “glitches” involves its radar system, which randomly stops functioning and requires rebooting in flight. That could complicate comparative war-gaming — as well as potentially put pilots and ground personnel at greater risk. It’s hard to run a test between an operational and well-known system and a mock-up.
No, it isn't. Far from 'complicating' the test, I think it simplifies it a great deal.

Something Worth Celebrating: Speaker Hastert Goes to Prison

If only we were as good as holding powerful members of the Executive's party to the law. If only it were as good at enforcing the law on well-connected major donors.

Still, it's not nothing to see a former Speaker of the House brought to heel for serious violations of the law.

From the Onion

Headline: "Study Finds Controlled Washington, D.C. Wildfires Crucial For Restoring Healthy Political Environment."

More Fun With Physics

My wife was driving and I was passengering on our way back from the store.  As we came over an overpass, the speed limit changed sharply from 50mph to 35mph, with effect directly at the bottom of the hill that was the overpass.  My wife commented that it's hard to decelerate that much on a downhill run of that distance.  I suggested that she not decelerate.

Her response was that there might be a cop with a radar gun, and then came the fun with physics.

I suggested that she accelerate instead of decelerate; after all, once she achieves a certain speed, she'd get past the cop's radar gun before it could trigger.  In fact, the task would be a bit simpler since the cop's radar gun's photons would have to make a round trip over the same distance my wife and I would need to cover only once.

Furthermore, having achieved that certain speed, she'd likely get abeam the cop's radar gun before she'd left the overpass hilltop.  From that, any causality problems ensuing from the cop choosing to trigger his radar gun anyway would be on the cop—textbook police brutality.

As my wife put it, #photonlivesmatter.

Eric Hines

The Candidate For Those Who Respect Women

Headline: "Hillary supporters take down Bernie FB pages in coordinated porn attack."

From the article:
According to eyewitness reports, the pages were flooded with pornographic images in coordinated fashion and then flagged for obscene content, prompting Facebook to remove them.

"We had what looked like a kiddie porn posted in one of our groups today,” said Sanders supporter Erica Libenow, according to "I reported that one. Seriously made me want to vomit.”

At least one Facebook user linked to the pro-Hillary Clinton group Bros 4 Hillary was reported to have participated in the attacks.
Kiddie porn. How is it that Hillary Clinton's supporters even have kiddie porn to use as a weapon? It's illegal even to possess (and rightly so).

The Devil You Say

John F. Kerry and his wife have millions in off-shore tax havens? That's the least surprising news story of the year.

Vietnam Marines Reuinte to Recreate Surfing Photo

It's kind of a fun photo, even.
It would be two years they would spend together, both in training in combat. Subjected to horrific conditions and intense combat two of them earned Purple Hearts- all of them carried the scars of war.

“We had the tools. We had the training,” DeVenezia said. “But nothing trains you for your first combat. Nothing. Zero.”

Following the end of their 13 month tours, the all went their separate ways and fell out of touch.
It's been fifty years, and they look pretty good all things considered.

On the Perils of Civilian Control of the Military

We all know what the advantages are. They have been drilled into us, and into the professional military, so thoroughly that -- as this author points out -- none of the flag officers have resigned in protest over Secretary Ray Mabus' savaging of the Navy and Marine Corps. The weakness created by Mabus' leadership has proven provocative, as American weakness often does:
In recent days, Russian fighter-bombers have done barrel rolls within ca. 30 feet of our planes and ships inside international waters. Such reckless behavior (no doubt part of Putin's plan to ratchet up the level of intimidation) leaves little to no room for error and focuses one's mind on the possibility of a tragic international incident, even war. But as the Army chief-of-staff testified recently before the Senate Armed Services Committee, if it ever came to war with Putin's Russia, we'd most likely get the short end of the stick.

Such is the state of America's armed forces under Barack Obama and Ray Mabus.
It would be ironic if we fell into war with Russia just because of civilian control of the military -- if the fact that the particular civilians given control understood and appreciated the Navy's culture so little turned out to be the thing that brought the war. It would be a bitter irony indeed.

Bright Flash of Light

It is possible to reason to an understanding of when life begins.

In case you need a hint, though, it turns out that nature provides a big one.



Fantasy economics

A college loses its shirt playing around with expensive, subsidized green energy initiatives. One administrator commented, "They are not a good teaching tool if they are not working.” I disagree.

Status quo

Here's what Europeans say about why all the business innovation seems to be coming from the U.S. The article concludes with the interesting observation that, even in the U.S., the innovation comes disproportionately from first-generation offspring of immigrants.

When Should Felons Have Voting Rights Restored?

Hot Air has a poll on the subject. It's an interesting question, I suppose.

If laws are just, then obedience to the law is an important part of one's duty. Where laws are unjust, disobedience of the law is often obedience to duty. Any violation of the law can be said to be a felony by whoever makes the law; and in a corrupt system, they are likely to make more felonious the most virtuous violations. There will still be thieves and robbers in the worst society, but political prisoners will pay a higher price the worse the corruption becomes.

So, when should felons be allowed to vote? There's no single answer, is there? It depends on whether what they did was a crime that would be universally recognized, or a crime against the politics of the corrupt. They may be morally unfit to ever vote. They may also be your best guides.


The Art of Manliness has a post on the subject of alpha wolves. It's insightful.
Popular culture soon took this conception of the alpha wolf, along with the whole alpha vs beta distinction, and applied it to humans — especially men. Hence, the idea that to be an alpha male, you’ve got to take no prisoners, f*** s*** up each and every day, take what’s yours, and never say sorry.

There’s just one problem with this idea.

The research it’s based on turned out to be hugely flawed....

For most of the 20th century, researchers believed that gray wolf packs formed each winter among independent and unrelated wolves that lived near each other. They had reached this conclusion from observing groups of wolves that had been taken from various zoos and thrown together in captivity.

Under these circumstances, researchers observed that wolves would organize the pack hierarchy based on physical aggression and dominance. The alpha male wolf, indeed, was the wolf that kicked ass and took names....

Instead of forming packs of unrelated individuals, in which alphas compete to rise to the top, researchers discovered that wild wolf packs actually consist of little nuclear wolf families. Wolves are in fact a generally monogamous species, in which males and females pair off and mate for life.... by virtue of being parents, and leading their “subordinate” children, the mates represent a pair of “alphas.” The alpha male, or papa wolf, sits at the top of the male hierarchy in the family and the alpha female, or mamma wolf, sits atop the female hierarchy in the family.

In other words, male alpha wolves don’t gain their status through aggression and the dominance of other males, but because the other wolves in the pack are his mate and kiddos. He’s the pack patriarch. The Pater Familias. Dear Old Dad.

And like any good family man, a male alpha wolf protects his family and treats them with kindness, generosity, and love.
I don't know why this wasn't obvious from the beginning, but it should have been. Something about the 20th century really let people buy into some strange notions about the world and how it works. Urbanization? The rise of psychology, with its assumption that our real motivations are hidden and mysterious?

Go to the Wild and you find the truth. You might die, of course. But you'll learn something.

What Did She Say?

During a Thursday discussion in Connecticut on gun violence, Hillary Clinton agreed with an audience member that “joining a gang is like having a family.” Then she suggested an alternative: “positive gangs.”
You mean like a militia?

The Suicide of a Nation

It is not like Vesuvius destroying Pompeii, writes Joel D. Hirst.
No, national suicide is a much longer process – not product of any one moment. But instead one bad idea, upon another, upon another and another and another and another and the wheels that move the country began to grind slower and slower; rust covering their once shiny facades. Revolution – cold and angry. Hate, as a political strategy. Law, used to divide and conquer. Regulation used to punish. Elections used to cement dictatorship. Corruption bleeding out the lifeblood in drips, filling the buckets of a successive line of bureaucrats before they are destroyed, only to be replaced time and again....

In my defense – weak though it may be – I tried to fight the suicide the whole time; in one way or another. I suppose I still do, my writing as a last line of resistance. But like Dagny Taggert I found there was nothing to push against – it was all a gooey mess of resentment and excuses. “You shouldn’t do that.” I have said. And again, “That law will not work,” and “this election will bring no freedom,” while also, “what you plan will not bring prosperity – and the only equality you will find will be in the bread line.” And I was not alone; an army of people smarter than me pointed out publically in journals and discussion forums and on the televisions screens and community meetings and in political campaigns that the result would only be collective national suicide. Nobody was listening.

So I wandered off. I helped Uganda recover after a 25 year civil war – emptying out the camps and getting people back living again. I helped return democracy to Mali, and cemented a national peace process. I wrote three novels. I moved, and moved, and moved again. I loved my wife; we took vacations. We visited Marrakesh, and Cairo, and Zanzibar and Portugal and the Grand Canyon. We had surgeries. I had a son. We taught our son to sit up, to crawl, to walk and to run; to sing and scream and say words like “chlorophyll” and “photosynthesis”. To name the planets one by one, to write his name.

All the while the agonizingly slow suicide continued.
Which nation do you think he means? Read the rest.

Enter the Gladiators

Paglia again:
[College students today have] no sense of the great patterns of world history, the rise and fall of civilisations like Babylon and Rome that became very sexually tolerant, and then fell. If you’ve had no exposure to that, you can honestly believe that ‘There is progress all around us and we are moving to an ideal state of culture, where we all hold hands and everyone is accepted for what they are … and the environment will be pure…’ – a magical utopian view that we are marching to perfection. And the sign of this progress is toleration – of the educated class – for homosexuality, or for changing gender, or whatever.

“To me it’s a sign of the opposite, it’s symptomatic of a civilisation just before it falls: ‘we’ are very tolerant, not passionate, but there are bands of vandals and destroyers circling around the edge of our civilisation who will bring it down.”
As if to further advance the similarity between ourselves and the fall of the Roman Republic, gladiatorial games are set to resume.

Webb on Jackson

A defense of a President recently treated as indefensible:
A product of the Scots-Irish migration from war-torn Ulster into the Appalachian Mountains, his father died before he was born. His mother and both brothers died in the Revolutionary War, where he himself became a wounded combat veteran by age 13.... like other plantation owners such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, owned slaves...

As president, Jackson ordered the removal of Indian tribes east of the Mississippi to lands west of the river. This approach, supported by a string of presidents, including Jefferson and John Quincy Adams, was a disaster, resulting in the Trail of Tears where thousands died. But was its motivation genocidal? Robert Remini, Jackson’s most prominent biographer, wrote that his intent was to end the increasingly bloody Indian Wars and to protect the Indians from certain annihilation at the hands of an ever-expanding frontier population. Indeed, it would be difficult to call someone genocidal when years before, after one bloody fight, he brought an orphaned Native American baby from the battlefield to his home in Tennessee and raised him as his son.

Today’s schoolchildren should know and appreciate that Jackson’s July 1832 veto of legislation renewing the charter of the monopolistic Second National Bank prevented the creation of a permanent aristocracy in our country... Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Vernon Louis Parrington called this veto “perhaps the most courageous act in our political history.”

Just as significantly, in November 1832, South Carolina threatened to secede from the Union. Jackson put a strong military force in position... Wisely, South Carolina did not call Jackson’s bluff, and civil war was averted for another 28 years.
Once again, I'm sorry to see that Webb didn't do better in the primary. This willingness to stand up for those normally told to shut up and sit down is refreshing.

Trump the End of Conservatism?

I've said before I'll vote for Trump if he's the nominee in order to stop Hillary. Ben Shapiro disagrees with my position.

There is an argument to be made for supporting Trump to stop Hillary. ... Hillary will be a guaranteed horror show, but she’ll be a typical corrupt leftist Democrat we can fight from the outside, not a wild-eyed tyrant with whom we must be forced into alliance. As Alexander Hamilton – you know, the guy from the musical! – once said, “If we must have an enemy at the head of government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible.”

He goes on to make the case that by allying ourselves with Trump, we will be complicit in his distortions of the Conservative ethos and the hollowing out of the Conservative movement, which would do more damage than a Hillary presidency.

I don't know if Shapiro's right, or my instinct to oppose Hillary is right, or what. I'm hoping for a contested convention, but I question that as well. Shouldn't the guy with the most votes get the nomination? Do I support the kind of backroom deals I have strongly opposed in the past just to get my preferred result of someone besides Trump?

As the political season grows long, the one thing I am increasingly sure of is that this is possibly the most absurd position we could have found ourselves in.

Write-in campaign for Conan, anyone?

Common Ground for Conservatives

The Intercollegiate Review recently republished Frank S. Meyer's "What All Conservatives Can Agree On". This is from an analysis of the 1964 book What Is Conservatism? which is a collection of essays by Conservative thinkers and which Meyer edited.

He lists the following, though he goes into much more detail in the article:

1. An objective moral order

2. The human person as the center of political and social thought

3. A distaste for the use of state power to enforce ideological patterns upon human beings

4. A rejection of social engineering, or the "planned" society

5. The spirit of the Constitution of the United States as originally conceived, especially the division of powers between state and federal governments and between the three branches of the federal government

6. A devotion to Western civilization and an awareness of the need to defend it

Meyer claims the differences within Conservatism are primarily matters of emphasis. This does seem a good summary to me. Any thoughts?

On Literature

Dana Gioia (pronounced joy-uh), former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and award-winning poet, was interviewed on the Federalist Radio Hour recently. If you are interested in what has happened to the arts in the US over the last 30 years, it's an interesting interview.

Gioia is a bit of a rebel. He has criticized modern poetry as being written by professional poets for professional poets instead of for the culture. In turn, many modern poets have criticized him. He is part of a movement which tends to use traditional rhyme and meter and write to appeal to the average person, in the vein of Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.

On a related note, Stephanie Cohen at Acculturated writes about schools, teachers, and others who are trying to turn back the tide of eliminating serious literature from the K-12 curriculum.
In the late 1890s, American high school English curricula regularly listed works by Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Alexander Pope, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, William Shakespeare, Daniel Webster, John Milton, William Bryant and Geoffrey Chaucer. Such authors were not just for those headed off to college. Students destined for workrooms—such as those who attended a manual training high school in Denver, Colorado—were still tasked with a similar English curriculum.
Sunday is the Ace of Spades book club day. A number of published authors read AoS, and here they are at the Book Horde. AoS has their own page at Good Reads as well, where you can see what they are currently reading (The Abolition of Man), see the votes for their next book, and, if you join, check out their bookshelf, discussions, etc.

As Breitbart was fond of saying, politics is downstream from culture.

Mattis Rejects Presidential Run, Reminds Us Why We Wanted Him

An excellent address on foreign policy, which shows a clear grasp of the issues entirely absent from the current administration. The man is tempered, serious, rational, and avoids insulting those with whom he disagrees because it isn't necessary. He's right, and they're wrong, and he knows it.

Jerusalem: Massive Greek Fortress Discovered

Now that's good news, I'd have to say.


The Feast of St. George

A depiction of the Saint in Jerusalem.

St. George is a martyr, but more famously if less historically certainly a dragonslayer.
There are several stories about George fighting dragons, but in the Western version, a dragon or crocodile made its nest at a spring that provided water to Silene, believed to be modern-day Lcyrene in Libya.

The people were unable to collect water and so attempted to remove the dragon from its nest on several ocassions. It would temporarily leave its nest when they offered it a sheep each day, until the sheep disappeared and the people were distraught.

This was when they decided that a maiden would be just as effective as sending a sheep. The townspeople chose the victim by drawing straws. This continued until one day the princess' straw was drawn.

The monarch begged for her to be spared but the people would not have it. She was offered to the dragon, but before she could be devoured, George appeared. He faced the dragon, protected himself with the sign of the Cross, and slayed the dragon.

After saving the town, the citizens abandoned their paganism and were all converted to Christianity.