Let us probe the silent places,


Let us seek what luck betide us;

Let us journey to a lonely land I know.

Mardi Gras

I have a friend out in New Orleans whom I keep intending to visit before he moves on in his life. I'd love to see the parades once in my life, and to celebrate the occasion with him.

Tonight is the last few hours before the beginning of the Great Fast of Lent. One of the tremendously healthy things about the Church is its maintenance of this concept of a yearly fast. Feasting and fasting are both healthy, if they are done in their right hour. Lent is a time to tame passions, to regulate habits, and to reconsider the ways in which you are not living in a virtuous way.

For that reason it can be unpleasant. After all, you are giving up pleasures for a relatively long time, especially if they are habitual pleasures. I'm going to give you Kant's remarks on this matter this year. He was writing against "monkish asceticism," of which I have a different opinion. But he also gives you cause to focus on cheer [Ak. 6:485]:
But such punishment [as asceticism] is a contradiction (because punishment must always be imposed by another); moreover, it cannot produce the cheerfulness that accompanies virtue, but rather brings with it secret hatred for virtue's command. -- Ethical gymnastics, therefore, consists only in combating natural impulses sufficiently to be able to master them when a situation comes up in which they threaten morality; hence it makes one valiant and cheerful in the consciousness of one's restored freedom.
That's a big part of what we are doing in the season in the wilderness: discovering a restored freedom from habits that threaten virtue. As Tex says, the locus of control is the self. For an hour -- for forty days and nights -- we demonstrate it to ourselves.

In doing so, we recover our freedom.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. There remains one last feast first. Go enjoy it.

Noli Me Tangere

This video includes a long reflection from Benjamin Franklin on an early symbol and motto adopted by American Marines. But don't forget the older connections: to the national motto of Scotland which gave us the Declaration of Arbroath, and to John 20:17.

Puppet Show

Some of those Clinton emails reveal an interesting relationship with the press.

More from Haidt

I was unaware of how angry he is about the condition of the universities.
JOHN LEO: So you got a lot of attention.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Since Halloween, especially. Look, I graduated from Yale in ’85. Yale is very devoted to social justice. It’s very devoted to affirmative action. Now no place is perfect. But it’s probably among the best places in the country. And to have protesters saying it’s such a thoroughly racist place that it needs a total reformation – they call the protest group ”Next Yale”– they demand “Next Yale”!... And these were not requests. This was not a discussion. This was framed as an ultimatum given to the president – and they gave him I think six days to respond, or else. And I am just so horrified that the president of Yale, Peter Salovey, responded by the deadline. And when he responded, he did not say, on the one hand, the protesters have good points; on the other hand, we also need to guarantee free speech; and, by the way, it’s not appropriate to scream obscenities at professors.

JOHN LEO: Or the threat to one professor: “We know where you live”?

JONATHAN HAIDT: I didn’t even know about that. The president was supposed to be the grown-up in the room. He was supposed to show some wisdom, some balance, and some strength. And so we’ve seen, basically what can really only be called Maoist moral bullying – am we saw it very clearly at Claremont McKenna.... As far as I’m concerned, “Next Yale” can go find its own “Next Alumni.” I don’t plan to give to Yale ever again, unless it reverses course.

JOHN LEO; How did they cut themselves off?

JONATHAN HAIDT: They’re so devoted to social justice, and they have accepted the rule that you can never, ever blame victims, so if a group of victims makes demands, you cannot argue back. You must accept the demands.... Anthro[pology] is completely lost. I mean, it’s really militant activists. They’ve taken the first step towards censoring Israel. They’re not going to have anything to do with Israeli scholars any more. So it’s now – it’s the seventh victim group. For many years now, there have been six sacred groups. You know, the big three are African-Americans, women and LGBT. That’s where most of the action is. Then there are three other groups: Latinos, Native Americans….

JOHN LEO: You have to say Latinx now.

JONATHAN HAIDT: I do not intend to say that. Latinos, Native Americans, and people with disabilities. So those are the six that have been there for a while. But now we have a seventh–Muslims. Something like 70 or 75 percent of America is now in a protected group. This is a disaster for social science because social science is really hard to begin with. And now you have to try to explain social problems without saying anything that casts any blame on any member of a protected group.
Somewhat like myself, he has no obvious recourse to politics -- he says that he no longer considers himself a Democrat, but is horrified by the Republican party as well. Maybe he'll join me in voting for Jim Webb, if he decides to run as an independent. That would make two of us, plus I think Webb has a large family. We could break into the double digits.

On Secret Law

I am this afternoon reading an excellent piece called “Coming to Terms with Secret Law” by Dakota S. Rudesill (hat tip to the Federation of American Scientist's Secrecy News). Does the United States have secret laws -- laws kept secret from the public until and unless they are enforced upon us? Yes, Rudesill determines, the evidence suggests that they most likely do.

Is that a problem for the idea of law?
To begin, to have force of law a purported legal instrument must have the quality of what Aquinas termed “a rule and measure” with “the power of obligating.”279 H.L.A. Hart similarly conceives of law in terms of “rules of obligation,”280 while Lon Fuller makes the presence of rules – as opposed to ad hoc adjudication – as a requirement without which a legal system fails.281 Jeremy Waldron observes that “The main demand that law makes on us as subjects is that we comply with it.”282 All of these varying but similar law-as-rule formulations necessitate some level of publication – that is, sharing with officials administering and overseeing it, and sharing with the people who are (and whose government is) subject to it. Lacking publicity, a secret law becomes entirely specific to an individual or institution, one that by definition has both the power to create and remove it. An unpublished law therefore is mere recording of a potentially ephemeral guideline by an entity that is a law unto itself. Law loses its Thomistic essence as a rule, and with that loss also loses its capacity to limit.

... As Kafka posited, it would also over time also take on that appearance: people would come to doubt the existence of the unpublished “secret code” of laws and decide that the law instead is whatever the governing regime does.283 In theory and in practice, law that is entirely unpublished (for example, not even shared with other agencies) decays from the category of law to mere fact.
Is it a problem for the Constitution?
The Constitution is a national security document, written in the wake of the war that won the country its independence. It was significantly motivated by enormous concern among the Framers about the central government’s weakness under the Articles of Confederation compared to foreign empires and the risk of liberty-imperiling war among the states. It provided the central government for the first time the taxing and conscription powers to create a standing army and a single President to direct it. The Constitution is therefore fairly assessed by Akhil Amar as “a war machine” 288 (but not only that). Taken as a whole, the Constitution endeavored to craft a federal governing structure that was strong enough to deter external and prevent internal war, but sufficiently limited through lateral and vertical federalism and individual liberties that its own powers and the ambitions of officeholders would not imperil liberty.289

In this context, one could imagine a Constitution replete with references to secrecy, including the creation of secret laws. Hamilton argued for the controversial proposition of a single national chief executive by emphasizing that such an individual would bring the unity of command and effort to deal with national security threats, acting as necessary with “decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch.” 290 And yet, the text, structure, and history of the Constitution are hostile to it.
So, what should we do about it? That discussion begins on page 83. Abolishing secret law is one of the options he considers, but not the only one: perhaps by 'grim necessity' we have to live with it for national security reasons, as some argue. It's an interesting discussion that I don't intend to excerpt.

I tend to think that the philosophical and Constitutional problems are more than adequate to decide us here, but ironically there are some among you more inclined to the 'grim necessity' view than am I. I look forward to your thoughts.

The Onion on New Hampshire

Drawing tens of thousands of residents out of their homes and businesses to stare upward into the sky, Hillary Clinton’s colossal, floating campaign headquarters reportedly moved into position over New Hampshire this morning, casting the entire state into darkness.... “It finally came to a stop an hour or so ago. But its engines just keep whirring constantly, rattling the house. My kids won’t stop crying.”

"Hamilton, an American Musical"

So, apparently this is for real. Yes, Alexander Hamilton. Yes, it's done in hip-hop.

No Love for Jacksonians

Via AVI's comments section, an article by Emily Ekins and Jonathan Haidt on how to apply their proposed division of 'moral tastes' to the Presidential campaign. They call this Moral Foundations Theory, and I assume it is well enough known to anyone who spent time at Cassandra's place or who currently does at AVI's. If that isn't you, there's an adequate introduction to the theory in the article.

What strikes me immediately about their study is that they ran these three traits together "for simplicity's sake."
Loyalty/betrayal: We keep track of who is "us" and who is not; we enjoy tribal rituals, and we hate traitors.

Authority/subversion: We value order and hierarchy; we dislike those who undermine legitimate authority and sow chaos.

Sanctity/degradation: We have a sense that some things are elevated and pure and must be kept protected from the degradation and profanity of everyday life. (This foundation is best seen among religious conservatives, but you can find it on the left as well, particularly on issues related to environmentalism.)
They say that they ran these three things together as an average for the purposes of their study because, taken together, they are the 'foundation of social conservatism.'

You probably all know what I'm going to say about this, but I'll say it anyway. In the interest of reaching younger readers, I'll explain the position using memes I have recently seen on Facebook.

Where does a Jacksonian stand on loyalty versus betrayal?

Where does a Jacksonian stand on sanctity?

Where does a Jacksonian stand on authority?

And one more that's NSFW below the jump.  The point is, if you run these things together, you've missed the point for a major part of the American political tradition.  It's not a dead letter, either.  I've seen all these memes on Facebook in the last few weeks.

Call a Marine

A little Saturday night entertainment for you. The language is on the coarse side ...

What? It's Sunday? Well ...

Speaking of a "No Whiners!" Approach to the World

Matt Walsh writes:

America Is Falling Apart And It’s Your Fault

When deciding who to blame for the current state of affairs in our country, we always run through a familiar list of shadowy villains: the “system,” the “establishment,” politicians, lobbyists, the schools, the media, etc. These are fine suspects in their own right, but I find it ridiculous that, somehow, we skip right over the first and most dastardly culprit: ourselves.

We never blame us, do we? We always get off the hook. All of the misery and misfortune in our culture have been hoist upon us from Washington, D.C. and Hollywood and Ivory Towers, and none of it from us, we claim. We’re victims. We had no say in any of this at all, according to us.

Well, at the risk of alienating literally every single person reading this, I’d like to suggest that you are an adult and a voter, and this is your fault. And mine. And your mother’s. And your neighbor Jim’s. And all of our accomplices who generally make up the club known as “We The People.”

And there're 26 more paragraphs, and one hypothetical dialogue, more where that came from.

Stonehenge as Tomb

More women than men seem to be buried there, so far at least.

Obama as Gollum

Wretchard writes:
It may be that provided no Biblical disasters happen that Obama will be remembered kindly by history as the man who exposed America's weaknesses while essentially dodging the bullet. Perhaps the 8 years will be just bad enough to serve as an innoculation; to make America realize the folly of its ways without enduring the harsh vae victis that typically accompanies such lessons.

Bad things occasionally have a way of turning into something positive, provided one survives them long enough to see the benefits. The reason for this deserves some thought. Most readers are familiar with the accidentally heroic role played by Gollum in the plotline Lord of the Rings. It was not Frodo who destroyed the Ring, but Gollum who through his own incompetence tripped over the edge of the abyss and fulfilled the Quest. .
Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. ... Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.
And so it did. But why does accidental heroism exist?
Tolkien's answer to that question is not obvious, though it is clear. I mean by that remark that it is clear what Tolkien thought, but in the story no mechanism is given nor more than barely suggested. The answer is obscure, not obvious, in the tale. You have to read the Silmarillion, and particularly the Ainulindalë, to understand what Tolkien thought was at work. It is a metaphysical picture most aligned, oddly enough, with Hinduism. It is like the message of the Bhagavad Gita except that the ultimate being is much more active in Tolkien's view. The discord of evil wills is answered by the divine, woven back into the thread of the whole so that it only deepens the beauty of creation.

Tolkien was extremely well-read -- I continue to discover how well-read, as it is rare that I read an ancient or Medieval primary source without realizing that he read it first. He read the Pre-Socratics, I am sure, and preferred among them Heraclitus: for Heraclitus said, in an idea that Christians would later adapt, that everything comes to be in accordance with Logos. Tolkien left us a sign of this in the way he describes the creative element of the divine being in his stories as "the Secret Fire" or "the Flame Imperishable." Heraclitus also held that fire, of the elements, was the true arche.

That is not the answer Wretchard gives. He credits another divine being, Randomius Factoria, the Lady of Fate. Yet he seems to credit her in her bright aspect: Agatha Tyche, also known as Eutykhia, the goddess of good luck. I love that goddess myself, but she like we is a part of creation. Her powers are granted, like ours, even if they are greater than our own.

Romans and Christians

I don't think these are the usual production companies, but the trailers look interesting enough. Curious that two such movies are coming out so very close together. They look like they used the same prop house.

"The Young Messiah"


Young Women are Clueless Followers of What's Popular with Boys Says... Gloria Steinem?!?

It's the best she can come up with, apparently to explain why women under thirty favor Sanders over Clinton by massive percentages.
“Women get more radical as we get older,” she said, explaining that women lose power as they age while men gain it, and feeling oppressed radicalizes you. Steinem did not explain why she felt Clinton was a more radical choice for the nomination than Sanders. Instead, the activist who once declared Sanders an “honorary woman” told Maher, “When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie?'” Maher immediately realized her statement would be a controversial one — and, indeed, it has already drawn anger from young, female Sanders supporters on social media.
"Steinem did not explain why she felt Clinton was a more radical choice for the nomination than Sanders." Nice.

Clinton really is more radical, though, because she's radically corrupt and criminal. Ideology isn't the whole party.

I really went to watch this video because it was advertised as having her talk about Islam and women with Mahr, who is not a nice guy but is at least a consistent critic of religious extremism in any form. It's there (scroll to 7:10), but along the way you get insights like this one and "home, actually, is the most dangerous place for women." Well, and everyone else: we spend most of our time there. Also: "All monotheism is a problem.... I can't handle any monotheism." Well, OK, but you should probably read Avicenna... and Plotinus... and Plato on Parminides... all of whom reason to it, three of them well before monotheism was a major force in the world. We also learn from Gloria Steinem, by the way, that Mohammed's first wife was a "real estate agent."

Mahr comes out swinging, as much as one honorably can against a lady of her age, and gets her to admit that for everyone who was on the side of civil rights in the '60s, anti-shariah-law should be the cause of the current age. That's huge.

Oscar Live Action Shorts Well Worth Seeing

Last night I went to see the Oscar-nominated short movies. I'm always a bit wary of these things; you never know what you're going to see. But I was pleasantly surprised by all of them. None were objectionable, though some were hard to watch. I have tried to avoid any spoilers in my reviews below.

Ave Maria humorously explores faith and ethnicity through the experience of an observant Jewish man who accidentally wrecks into the statue of Mary at an Arab Catholic convent in the West Bank. He tries to get the help of the nuns to get back into Israeli territory before nightfall.

Day One is a gut-wrenching movie about a female Afghan interpreter working for the US Army in Afghanistan. It focuses on the cultural dimensions of the conflict rather than the fighting itself, and the director, who served there in 2009, says the movie was inspired by the interpreter who worked with his unit.

Everything Will Be Okay was hard to watch, but I think it says something important about the Western world's approach to family and the casualties of that approach. I can't think of much more to say about it that doesn't give something away, and I'm glad I saw it cold. That said, the woman I saw these with did not care for this one at all.

Shok is about two Albanian boys who are close friends and how they react to the Serbian occupation of their town in Kosovo. It is very well done, but it is not a mood-lifting film.

Finally, Stutterer ... Like Everything Will Be Okay, I feel that if I say very much about this movie, it will spoil it. It is about a typographer with a severe stutter, it's good, and I'm glad I saw it.

UPDATE: I've edited my comments on Shok and Stutterer to make them a bit more descriptive. I don't think I've spoiled anything.

It looks like these will be available on the various streaming services on February 23.

Free Longer Reads for Common Ground

Continuing my "Common Ground" project, the following are all in the public domain and can be downloaded for free. I've included links to the Wikipedia articles for these documents as a starting point for understanding their context, history, influence, etc. The articles generally offer a summary as well, though it's Wikipedia, so I can't guarantee they're good summaries. I've also linked the Wikipedia pages for the authors.

A Radical and yet Familiar Take on Consent

In his novel Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, Richard Bach argues that by staying in this world, we consent to everything that happens to us, no matter how horrible.

Although expanded to include everything in life, it is a similar argument to the one that, by staying within the territory of a nation, you consent to its government and everything that government does.

Some of the same back-and-forth from that thread would work very well here. When I argued against the claim of consent to government by pointing out there is no better place to go, or that it's quite expensive to move to another nation or might not be legally or physically possible, or that consent doesn't work that way with anything else, the reply was, essentially, "That's your problem."

The reply Bach might make to objections to his idea of consent is the same. If you haven't stepped in front of a fast-moving freight train or eaten a bullet, you have chosen to be here. You know what can happen in this world, you've read the news about cancer, hurricanes, rape, genocide, and all of the other evils that can befall people here, and you've chosen to stay and take those risks. Therefore, you have consented to whatever happens to you.

There is no whining in Mr. Bach's world.


Harsh critique of the performances of Clinton and the debate moderator:
. . . it’s not surprising that several other follow-up probes were not attempted.
Probes such as, “Secretary Clinton, if you are the candidate who gets things done, how do you explain your failure to get ClintonCare into law in the 1990s and President Obama’s success in getting HIS plan through the political process? Did you learn anything from that?”
Or, “Secretary Clinton, don’t you really want to get to the same place that Senator Sanders wants to go, but you just can’t figure out how to do it? Or risk arguing for it full-strength before getting elected?”
After the opening flurry over whether we will get to single-payer full-strength, or on the installment plan, the debate moved over to more of Clinton’s comparative strengths on foreign policy experience (if not demonstrated success). And I appreciated the brief nap time.
A few style points along the way. Clinton worked hard to smile more, be less shrill, and stifle her inner school principal/prison matron. (“Must control fist” should have popped up periodically as a cartoon caption above her head). She usually succeeded at this. Sanders injected noticeably several bows toward African-American voters (looking beyond New Hampshire, toward future primary weaknesses), in comments about the death penalty and a couple of other issues.
The Clintonesque laundry list of government interventions everywhere came out at the very end of the debate (so much to do, so little of everyone else’s money to conscript and so little time for her one-way dialog/lecture to conduct….). One of the great howlers was Clinton’s expression of deep concern for the plight of small business. So different from Hillary, circa 1993. Remember this golden oldie: “I can’t be responsible for every under-capitalized small business in America.”
I say sign this guy up as a moderator.

In Mother Russia, Disco Goes Clubbing on YOU

In fairness, I saw a very similar scene once in Charlotte, North Carolina. Except instead of 'refugees' harassing women, it was a pack of what are sometimes referred to as 'Yankees.' The most aggressive one got as far as lecturing a woman, "Listen, b****, I'm from the Bronx and..." before an impromptu citizens' committee formed to explain the error of their ways.

There weren't 51 of them, though. There were about five.

"Right to Repair"

Say you buy an appliance, it lasts through the warranty period, but then a little while afterward it breaks. Happens all the time, right? So you call the company you bought it from, and they say, "Of course we'll fix it! But since it's out of warranty, there will be a significant repair charge..." and then name a gigantic figure.

"Feh!" you say. "I'll just fix it myself." So you go to buy parts and... can't, because the manufacturer controls production of repair parts and will only sell to their licensed techs. So you go to a junkyard, find a suitably similar model, strip out the parts you need, and go to repair the appliance -- only to discover, after you've installed the replacement parts, that you can't reset the equipment to operate with the new parts without a password encoded into the electronics by the manufacturer. Will they give it to you? No, but you're still free to bring the appliance in to be serviced -- for the original extravagant quote.

That's what this article is about.

Failing this, I wonder if there would be a sufficient market for manufacturers of goods that didn't do these things. I like being able to fix my own cars, motorcycles, stoves, and things like that. Partially, I just like to maximize my independence as a human being. Increasingly, though, that means sticking to really old objects. My truck is twenty years old, but I can fix most things on it if they break. I can also modify it if I want it to work a little differently.

For a certain percentage of people, that's a major thing we really want from a product. If I buy it, I want to own it. I don't want to lease use of it, with an obligation to return to you for repairs and a prohibition against modifying it. I don't want to find out that it has some secret components in it designed to make sure the seller retains ownership over some core critical function. I want to own the things I buy.

These days, that mostly means buying old stuff that was made before the current craze at retaining hidden control over end-users. I wonder if there's enough demand that there would be a market for manufacturers to cater to us.

Oh, Really?

From tonight's debate, Mrs. Clinton: "If you’ve got something to say, say it directly. You will not find that I have ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation I have received."

That's funny, because I was just reading this article about weapons deals to countries that donated to you:
Israeli officials were agitated, reportedly complaining to the Obama administration that this substantial enhancement to Saudi air power risked disrupting the region's fragile balance of power. The deal appeared to collide with the State Department’s documented concerns about the repressive policies of the Saudi royal family.

But now, in late 2011, Hillary Clinton’s State Department was formally clearing the sale, asserting that it was in the national interest. At a press conference in Washington to announce the department’s approval, an assistant secretary of state, Andrew Shapiro, declared that the deal had been “a top priority” for Clinton personally....

Under Clinton's leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure -- derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) -- represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.
The evidence strongly suggests that you traded access to American weapons for large cash donations. I'd be surprised if a little investigation didn't turn up very similar acts of corruption with donors here at home, too.

A Female Muslim Challenges President Obama

Shireen Qudosi did not appreciate the President's chosen symbolism.
Yesterday, at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, the audience for President Obama’s speech reflected an Islamist’s vision of today’s Muslim-American community. That setting, promoted by the media and the White House, was meant to teach the American people—and, certainly, the growing number of Muslims in America—what an authentic Muslim looks like. It was a collection of hijab-clad women and long-bearded, severe-faced men.

The choreographed scene didn’t represent American Muslim immigrants like me—reformers, humanists, and critical thinkers—who find no place in Islamist mosques in this country, and are shunned by similarly Islamist pressure groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
She takes a few paragraphs to note the connection of that particular mosque not only to the Muslim Brotherhood but to al Qaeda. Then, she challenges the President's conception of his agenda here:
Sabah Muktar, the bright young college student who introduced Obama, whom the president applauded for pursuing an education and acceptance in an American community, wouldn’t be seen as an equal within her own mosque nor be given space equal to those granted to men. There would be no opportunity for voicing herself or engaging in dialogue during Friday’s khutbah. The heartfelt speech Muktar gave in front of a diverse audience of men and women wouldn’t exist in that mosque outside the vacuum of a presidential visit. Her voice would never be heard.

Obama speaks of the “threats and harassment of Muslim-American [that] have surged,” but he doesn’t speak of the threats and harassment that come from within our own community that silence the debate within Islam that has been an organic part of the faith up until the last 50 years.


As Muslim-Americans, we don’t need our ego stroked; we need our egos challenged. Obama spoke of Muslim excellence and heroism in everyday life, but the greatest act of Muslim heroism today is to tackle a decrepit faith.
As I suggested below, though, the real agenda of the speech was completely unspoken. The President's remarks were aimed not at the congregation, but at the American people. But the real purpose of the visit was outreach to the Brotherhood itself. It was a foreign policy speech that never mentioned foreign policy.

Shireen Qudosi isn't on that agenda. She has no power to help quell the crises in the Middle East, which President Obama desperately wants to subside. He is looking for partners over there, and he's willing to sacrifice some things over here in order to get them. Qudosi and Muktar's interests are among those things.

The NRA Wins Again

This time in Maryland, where the "assault weapons ban" was ruled to be in violation of the 2nd Amendment.

UPDATE: HuffPo: "People Have a 'Fundamental Right' to Own Assault Weapons, Court Rules."

Clinton for Prison Update

Representative Chris Stewart says of the Clinton emails, "“They do reveal classified methods, they do reveal classified sources, and they do reveal human assets."

Problem Solved!

You know, it's embarrassing that only half of the illegal immigrants ordered to appear for hearings show up. What can we do to stop that from happening?
Undocumented immigrants are no longer given a "notice to appear" order, because they simply ignore them. Judd said that border agents jokingly refer to the NTAs as "notices to disappear."

He said the the new policy "makes mandatory the release, without an NTA, of any person arrested by the Border Patrol for being in the country illegally, as long as they do not have a previous felony arrest conviction and as long as they claim to have been continuously in the United States since January of 2014."
And you thought the Federal government never really solves the problems it takes on.

Sheriff Defends Oregon Occupation

Sheriff David Clarke has a radio show. He recently devoted it to laying out what he thinks is a rational case that the Oregon affair was justified and appropriate. In his opinion, the Federal government was not only overbearing, it was acting well beyond its mandate and in a way that suggests that no rational negotiation was possible. If you remain interested in the case, you can listen to the radio broadcast at the link.

Play Time's Over

Now you know women are in the combat arms for real.

Live long and shoot first

I saw an ad for a t-shirt the other day: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but a hollow point expands on impact."

"Return of Kings" Runs and Hides

Mysteriously, they felt they might not be safe in their gatherings designed to strip the protections against violence from others.

It Depends on What the Meaning of "Islam" Is...

Mr. Obama has elected to visit a mosque with Muslim Brotherhood and known terrorist connections, in order to explain to us -- while ostensibly speaking to the congregation -- that Muslims deserve more respect. It is indeed important to show proper respect to people, and we would be remiss not to notice that there are Muslim Americans who deserve our uttermost.

The problem is that he is quite selective in whom he is prepared to consider a Muslim. As this Power Line article points out, he seems to read the most troublesome actors out of the faith. His Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, has been going so far as to assert that such terrorists are "apostates," meaning that their behavior has actually thrust them outside of the faith from the perspective of the United States government.
On Twitter, Nasser Weddady, a popular online activist who grew up in Syria, mocked Kerry for his comment. Wedaddy and others also jokingly suggested that Kerry was a "takfiri," a word used to describe a Sunni Muslim who accuses others of apostasy.

I'm confused, I thought John Kerry is a roman catholic. Has he converted to Islam without telling us?

— weddady (@weddady) February 2, 2016

I wanna know how the US ended up with a takfiri Shaikh running the state department..

— weddady (@weddady) February 2, 2016
ISIS and al Qaeda in Iraq are takfiri, which is one of the things that most outraged the Sunni tribes over there. They did not much like being told that they weren't real Muslims. At least ISIS is headed by an actual Islamic cleric, rather than a jackass like John Kerry... well, OK, I suppose Baghdadi is both a real Islamic cleric and a jackass. To say that he's an apostate is to jump in where other Muslims fear to tread. The Fiqh Council of North America (another Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, although one that is exceedingly polite, no friend of ISIS, and with its own thoughts on Islam's place in America) holds that it is only God's business. This extends not only to groups like ISIS but to even to Christians or atheists.
Rejection of belief in God will surely have consequences in the afterlife. However, it is up to God to determine these consequences. Such future determination has no bearing on the respect of the humanity of every person in this life. After all, the human is a free agent, and as such each is individually responsible before God for his/her belief and moral choices. A person can be held accountable in this life only if such a moral choice infringes on the rights of individual or society such as the commission of crimes or acts of aggression. In other words, no human is entitled to dehumanize or punish another on the sole ground that the later is following a different religion or no religion at all. This value implies that peaceful co-existence among followers of all religions and respecting their humanity is not only possible, but also mandated in the Qur’an.
That sounds great, and it is my sincere hope that they really mean it. The Brotherhood has a history, though. It's not just how they acted following their ascension to power in Egypt after the Arab Spring. They were organizing for revolution before the outbreak of WWII. They fielded battalions during WWII on the Nazi side -- not that they were pro-Nazi so much as anti-British, resenting the British colonial period, but they did share some anti-Jewish opinions with the Germans. They switched to unconventional warfare tactics following Rommel's defeat. They assassinated the Prime Minister and attempted to kill members of the Royalist government after the war. They assisted Nasser in his successful coup. Ten minutes later, they started trying to overthrow Nasser. Every time somebody else is stronger, they talk about culture and sport and the nobility of morals; every time they get a shot at power, it's bombs and mob violence.

Nevertheless, the United States executive has a long and interesting relationship with the Brotherhood -- one dating to Eisenhower, but carried on by each successive President until George W. Bush broke it up after the 9/11 attacks. The selection of this particular mosque was not, as Investors Business Daily suggests, a failure of vetting. It was not, as Power Line suggests, willful blindness. It is a message, one of many this President has sent:

UPDATE: Friendly fire from the NYT.

UPDATE: More friendly fire, this time from a Muslim writer who urges his co-religionists to abandon the Muslim Brotherhood's project of 'restoring the caliphate' forever.

Conflict of Interest

Andrew McCarthy writes:
I believe some, if not all, of the communications between Obama and Clinton should be classified. To classify them now, however, would imply wrongdoing on both their parts since they knew they were communicating via private, unsecured e-mail. Essentially, Obama is invoking executive privilege because the effect of doing so — viz., non-disclosure of the e-mails — is the same as the effect of classifying them would be . . . but without the embarrassment that classifying them would entail.
Now we come to the rub: it's not just that the President is protecting his party's nominee. His own gross negligence in allowing her to get away with it might rise to the level of a crime.

An insurance story that isn't a disaster

Much as I despise my new HMO Obamacare policy, which I never, ever wanted, I have to admit they came through for me on cataract surgery this week, even though the surgeon, the facility, and the anesthesiologist were out of network: completely covered. I feel compelled in fairness to acknowledge this success. On the medical front, I dreaded yesterday's operation, but it turned out to be a complete piece of cake. By yesterday evening I already could see better in the new right eye than in the left, after relying almost exclusively on the left eye for some time now and sort of editing out input from the right. I have better distance vision without glasses in the new eye than I have with glasses in the left. I asked the doc to bias my new lens in favor of near vision; he believes that by this evening the swelling will abate and I'll be able to read without glasses, as I almost can already. Medical intervention is getting impressive in many ways.

Concealed Carry Saves a Deputy

Son has a moustache, too.
“I’m alive today because of him,” the deputy, 23-year-old Dylan Dorris said Wednesday, reflecting on the events surrounding a disturbance call outside a Bastrop County gas station Jan. 16. “There are no words to explain it. He’s such an outstanding citizen. He’s here for our country, our community and you really feel the love.”
Ideally, this is how it works.

What if the 2nd Were Repealed?

A thought experiment.
As a legislator and I am always interested in people’s opinions. This is a thought experiment; a hypothetical. There are no right or wrong answers.

* What would you do if all of the requirements of Article V of the Constitution were met and the Second Amendment was repealed?
* What would you do if the Second Amendment was effectively repealed by a US Supreme Court ruling that the right to bear arms does apply to an individual, but only individuals in a militia?
* If the defense of the Second Amendment rests in reference to the Constitution as it stands now, what argument would you use if the Constitution was changed to no longer protect the individual right to bear arms?
* As a law abiding gun owner, would you give up your guns?
* What do you think would happen to violent crime rates, accidental shootings and suicides?
* Would you follow the new law of the land that was legitimately established, just as laws allowing the possession of a firearm have been legitimately established?

I care about the opinions of citizens of America; I would like thoughtful comments in the comment section about what law abiding gun owners would do if the Second Amendment were repealed or if the SCOTUS issued a new ruling reversing the Constitutionality of the individual right to bear arms.
You can read the answers at the link, but it might be better to give your own in the comments.

Wanted: Independent Prosecutor

The current Secretary of State also sent SECRET information over an unclassified account... to the former Secretary of State.

Somebody's got to clean this mess up, and it can't be someone who reports to any administration. The current administration won't do it, and an opposition administration would be accused of partisan punishment. We need an independent prosecutor dedicated to cleaning house.

Failing that, you know, there's good odds you're putting it in front of Ted Cruz next spring. So maybe if you're the administration you'd like an independent prosecutor, all things considered.

24 March is Sine Day

All right, boys, we just have to get from now until then: the Georgia Legislature's both houses have set the 'without a day' adjournment that marks the end of the 40 day term. Keep watch on them until that day, and we'll be free for a year.

Medical marijuana still seems to have a good chance of being passed in some form this year. Casinos, not so much, but they're still alive.

There's a semi-new gun bill, too: campus carry is back for another try. Georgia's universities are pretty set against it, though, and it'll have a tough fight getting through the Leg in the teeth of opposition from the administrations and police departments of all our major colleges. They can't stop a school shooting in a "gun free zone," but those are statistically rare. From day to day, they want the right to run you off campus (or into jail) if they catch you with a gun.

Chris Kyle Day

This is the second annual Chris Kyle Day in Texas, honoring the 'American Sniper' for his courage on the battlefield and his work with injured veterans back home. I don't do a lot of annual memorial posts -- really just one on 9/11, as a rule -- but I missed it last year when the Texas governor first made it real. It's a good idea, and a worthy addition to the calendar.

From "Avilion," by Sallie Bridges

Written in 1864, this poem pictures a visit to the island of Avalon, given in an alternative spelling, to visit Arthur and -- surprisingly -- Guinevere. I don't know enough about the author, one Sallie Bridges, to do her justice. She wrote a lot of Arthurian poetry, and was apparently inspired by Tennyson. Here is an excerpt describing what she thought it might be like to approach the island:
I turn'd towards the glories of the sky.
The slanting rays shot up the azure arch
In silver streaks that waned in motes away,
Tinging the fleecy clouds with rainbow hues;
We sail'd on golden ripples, whose light foam
Died on th' horizon's verge, where, half in heaven,
A purple island hung with rosy shores;
While stretching off on either side there shone
White lustrous mountains edged with peaks of fire.
We came anear at last. Delicious airs
Play'd o'er my brow, that brought a faint, rare sound
Of distant harmony; while through my limbs
New vigor ran, that sent the dancing blood
Tingling in languid veins, as each heart-throb
More quick and eager with expectance grew.
In buoyant feelings I had long forgot,
My youth and hope came back to me once more;
And, like the slow uprising of a mist,
There roll'd away the darkness that was laid
Between my mind and things I strove to solve;
Deep, secret meanings dawn'd upon my brain,
That had been dull'd with dust, but in this clime
Saw clear the hidden truth. Sorrow and pain,
That woke such wild, blind prayers, look'd only now
As ministers to purify desire;
And e'en the earth's great riddle that we beat
Rebellious will 'gainst, -- ah! I may not show
What grand significance e'en evil took!

I'm All For Learning Experiences

A pro-rape activist -- no, really -- is organizing events in 43 countries.
Valizadeh argued on his blog last year that rape should be legal on private property.

“By attempting to teach men not to rape, what we have actually done is teach women not to care about being raped, not to protect themselves from easily preventable acts, and not to take responsibility for their actions,” he wrote at the time. “I thought about this problem and am sure I have the solution: make rape legal if done on private property.”

“I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds,” Valizadeh said.
I don't agree, but I do have a modest counter-offer. How about if we make it legal to beat people who advocate for legalized rape, provided that it's done on private property? I think it could be a real learning experience that would teach an important lesson about the underlying principle at work in anti-rape laws. I suspect they would discover a new appreciation for that principle from the experience, one that could settle this debate once and for all.

Coin-Toss in Iowa

Apparently an important part of the process of apportioning delegates. Clinton won a... surprising number of them.

I guess tossing a coin, if it is an honest coin, is as good a way of picking a President as anything. We just need a more random process for determining among whom the coin is choosing to go with it.

UPDATE: C-SPAN reports Clinton fraud in Polk County (which, by the way, is a huge county).