Sword vs. Pen

The summer break is winding down, and soon it will be time to get back to whatever it is I ought to be doing here. Meanwhile, though, our friend Bill Vallicella is already back in harness, and has put up two brief items touching on the plight of the desaparecida Molly Norris, who was driven into hiding five years ago for sharia violations she committed right here in the U.S. of A. The unfortunate Ms. Norris is all but forgotten by now — mention her name to the person on your left and see if you get anything but a blank look — but she bloody well shouldn’t be.

Bill’s posts are here and here.

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Light the Blue Touch-Paper, and Stand Well Back

Well! It looks as if Hillary Clinton is, with a big speech tomorrow evening, about to put the “Alt-Right” front and center in national politics (and into the minds of millions of Americans who previously had no inkling of it). I wonder what she imagines is going to happen.

Pass the popcorn!

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Risky Business

From NightWatch:

Syria-Syria Kurds-US: On 19 August, the Syrian air force conducted the first air attacks and Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militiamen in Hasakah Governate. Ground fighting intensified late on the 19th when Kurdish YPG fighters battled Syrian forces.

“The clashes continue in areas inside the city today (20 August). There were military operations,” a Kurdish official said.

On the 19th, also for the first time, US combat aircraft flew what the Pentagon called protective patrols around Hasakah to prevent Syrian jets from attacking US special forces personnel, who are operating on the ground with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Comment: The Syrian Kurdish militias are the major component of the SDF. The US protective patrols are the first sorties of their kind in the war.

This bears watching. Given that the Syrian Air Force are essentially Russian proxies at this point, there is the potential for some serious awkwardness here.

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Rashomon

Shot.

Chaser.

A Difference Without a Division

With the increasingly documented genetic reality of human biodiversity washing over the gunwales of Utopian universalism, there’s a word on the rise in liberal circles: essentialism. It’s used to make a retreat from discredited Lewontinian denial of genetic differences, without really ceding any ideological ground. In effect it says:

“OK, OK — we’ll admit that there actually are genetic differences between human groups. [Soon, as the evidence becomes completely overwhelming, we’ll be denying that we ever denied it!] But you’re still racist to think that genetic differences would have any sort of real-world consequences.”

The foundation is cracking a little here, because the Left is terribly fond of “born that way” arguments when they can get any traction from them. But if that’s the case — that some human characteristics are inborn, and therefore not the product of culture or “nurture” — then the only way to argue consistently against salient statistical variation of innate characteristics among distinct human groups is to deny that those groups are really genetically distinct at all. But it’s becoming more and more obvious that that’s no longer a defensible position — an obvious refutation of it is the fact that companies like 23 and Me can pin down your race and ancestry very well indeed from a DNA sample.

So: what’s a goodthinkful Progressive to do? Easy: concede genetic diversity, but call thinking-that-it-matters “essentialism”, and squint your eyes and Hope Real Hard.

Here’s a good example from The Forward:

…the evidence that HBD proponents adduce shows only that different genetic populations are just that: different. That’s certainly not news to geneticists, and it’s rather intuitive for the rest of us.

“Rather intuitive”, is it, now? Funny, I’ve been paying attention long enough to remember the idea being received rather differently, not so long ago. But as Schopenhauer explained, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

A little further on:

The weight of scientific evidence supports the reality of relative genetic difference, but not the essentialist divisions that form the basis for race theory — and the racist agenda of the alt-right.

There it is, nature-lovers: the squid, retreating, emits a puff of ink. The differences, we must reluctantly admit, are real, but not the “essentialist divisions”.

“Essentialist”. Keep an ear out for it!

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Quid Quo, Bro

We’re still on summer break for a few more weeks, and I’ve been paying little attention to the news. One thing that did catch my eye, though, was the emerging story of the Obama administration’s $400-million ransom payment to Iran a while back — paid in a great pile of foreign currency, and brought in on an unmarked airplane. (Tehran waited for it to arrive before releasing the hostages.)

I figured that the legal scholar Andrew McCarthy would have something to say about this fishy-sounding payoff, and about Mr. Obama’s tortuous explanation of how there was of course nothing to see here, folks. And sure enough, he published an analysis back on August 6th. Read it here.

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Back To the Old Drawing Board

Over the transom today from our commenter Henry: an article about the failure of nature to deliver the heavy particles that physicists have been predicting for decades.

One possible explanation: perhaps the world is simply odder than we can imagine.

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Eeeewwww

Well, it’s nice to be back home, except for the fact that this grotesque presidential campaign is still going on. Donald Trump finds new ways every day to let the Democrats and the press distract the nation’s attention from the oozing, Lovecraftian horror that is Hillary Clinton; today, apparently, was no exception. How easily she would be beaten if Mr. Trump could just apply a little discipline to his pie-hole!

Ah, well. We may yet drive “Mrs. Clinton” (as she calls her current humanoid form) back to her lair in the Stygian darkness whence she sprang; November is still some way off, and a lot can happen between now and then.

Meanwhile, my man Buchanan’s been on a roll. Here he is, talking about isolationism.

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Homeward Bound

We’re on our way back to the States — between flights at the moment, in Dusseldorf.

I’ve been almost completely out of touch, but even over here the coming U.S. election seems to be attracting a lot of attention.

With that in mind, then, here are a couple of interesting links that have come my way in the last week or so: first, a brief interview with a prominent Russia-watcher, and second, Ryan Landry’s thoughts on Trump as “Manchurian candidate”.

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Proof Of Concept

We’re still in Vienna; heading back to the States on Saturday.

What a calm and orderly place this is! It may be otherwise in corners of the city we haven’t visited, but so far as I can tell Vienna, and the other little Austrian towns we’ve been to, are everything you’d imagine: polite, law-abiding, efficient, and clean (not fussily so, but enough to make it clear to Entropy that he is not at all welcome here). The people are always friendly, without being intrusively familiar, and share a wry sense of humor that is in evidence all around.

Order matters here. Everyone understands intuitively that there are protocols in place that make things work smoothly and easily for everyone, and that such systems break down rapidly when sufficient numbers of defectors fail to honor them.

One example: I was driving on one of the highways the other day and noticed several times that when someone is driving too slowly in the left lane, other drivers will never pass him on the right, even if the right lane is wide open. Instead they will pull up uncomfortably close behind and flash their lights until the slow driver moves over. (If you relied on that in the U.S., you’d never get anywhere, and you might even get yourself a firsthand experience of “road rage”.)

Another example, and perhaps the most indicative of the difference between America and Austria, is the rail-system protocol. You buy a ticket for your train, or a weekly pass for the subways and trams, and then you just get on and go. I have never once seen anyone ask passengers to show their tickets; nor has my daughter, who lives here. This is a system ripe for abuse, and mass defection would doubtless be fatal to its economic survival — but it just hums along. Imagine trying such an arrangement in New York!

I think it’s safe to say that a major reason all of this is possible is that, despite the chaos afflicting other parts of the Continent, Vienna is still a very homogeneous, and very European, place: most of those living here who are not themselves Austrian are from other parts of eastern Europe (in particular, from other parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, of which Vienna was the capital). They have a great deal of culture and history in common, and assimilate easily. The place has all the ingredients for a high-trust, low-time-preference, safe and productive community. I can easily see why it is so often ranked the best city in the world to live in.

With that in mind — of course, readers, I won’t miss an opportunity to slip you a red pill whenever possible — I have for you an excellent essay on why high diversity destroys social capital. It starts with a quote from Robert Putnam’s now-famous 2007 paper “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century”:

…inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbors, regardless of the colour of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, to give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television…

The essay then builds an argument based on the philosopher Ruth Millikan’s work on the contextual and developmental foundations of meaning.

Read it in three parts, here, here, and here.

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Right, Then

Now that all the fuss is over, it’s time to relax a little. The lovely Nina and I will be here in the heart of Europe for another week or so, and may do a little touring around. After that is August, when this blog traditionally goes mostly silent for a summer break.

I’m sure the world will continue going to hell in all the usual ways, and the nation will continue to pull apart along its unbridgeable fault-lines. I will probably put up a post now and then, but a little unplugging and R&R is in order, I think.

Thank you all as always, and thank you especially for all your happy messages about the birth of little Liam! I feel richly blessed.

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Liam Brendan Wright

With his mother, our daughter Chloe, about an hour ago.

IMG-20160728-WA0003

A very happy day for us all.

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Notes From Abroad

We’re still in Austria (and will be until the 6th). It’s hot over here, but from what I gather it’s much worse back home.

It’s nice to be here — Vienna is, as everyone knows, a gracious and beautiful city. One of the first things you notice, though, is how unhurried it feels. In New York everyone seems to have twice as many things to do as they can fit into a single day, whereas in Vienna the ratio is apparently a perfect 1:1.

Vienna also seems, so far, almost completely untouched by the madness swirling around the world. That can’t last long, but with my daughter and her husband living here, I’m certainly grateful for as long as it does.

One feature of the city I hadn’t known about before is what’s called the Alte Donau — an oxbow lake created by the re-routing of the Danube in the 1870s. The water is clear and clean, and the lake is a delightful recreational oasis. We spent yesterday afternoon there boating and swimming.

I’ve been a little out of touch, but the political scene back home seems to have been particularly entertaining this past week. Thanks to Wikileaks having revealed the enormity of the DNC’s collusion with the media against the Sanders campaign, the Clinton coalition seems weaker than ever, and it appears that the Democrat convention has got off to a rocky start. Perhaps the best part of all was the public defenestration of the loathsome Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is out at last as the DNC chairwoman. (For you aficionados of political sleaze, how’s this: DWS rigs the primaries for Hillary, gets thrown under the bus for it, then Hillary pays her off with a campaign-staff appointment. There is no longer even a pretense of honest politics on the American Left these days, nor the least effort by the mainstream media to conceal their allegiances.)

I’ve written often that democracy in America was a nice try that has pretty much run its course; it seems now that millions of Democrats are starting to realize what a sham the whole thing is. Does anyone really believe that the Clinton candidacy — in which she never had more than one serious opponent, against whom the system was rigged from the beginning — is somehow the organic expression of the will of “the People”? Can there be any doubt any longer, for any American citizen, that your infinitesimal slice of sovereignty is worth, in any rational accounting, exactly nothing?

Meanwhile, Germany has suffered several jihadi attacks just in the past week or so, several of which were perpetrated by “refugees” admitted to the country by the arch-ethnomasochist Angela Merkel. The people here are in greater and greater numbers coming to understand the magnitude of their folly, far too late.

That’s all for now, I think. We are still on grandson watch; our daughter’s due-date has already come and gone.

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Service Notice, and Open Thread 18

The lovely Nina and I are off to Vienna this evening, where our daughter is due to give birth to our first grandson. Things may be a little quiet around here until we get back, in early August — though I expect I’ll put up a post or two from over there.

If my tone seems a tad subdued regarding some of our more frequent topics, it’s probably because I don’t want to get arrested. (Last I heard, Austria had no First Amendment, and a lot of increasingly irritated voices that need tamping down.)

Feel free to chat amongst yourselves till I get back.

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Duh

Over the transom today from our reader Henry is this piece by Thomas Sowell. The points it makes are utterly simple and obvious — and utterly at odds not only with our prevailing social orthodoxy, but with the stated policies of the Obama administration, and even the recent jurisprudence of our Supreme Court.

How long can a society persist in denying the plainest and most self-evident realities? For far longer, it seems, than you would ever have thought possible, if you were an intelligent person raised at any time in history prior to the last half-century.

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The Siege of Istanbul

I’m off to Vienna later this week; it seems timely.

After the Turks were driven back from the heart of Europe, progressive modernism gradually expanded its range. The Sublime Porte’s senescence deepened — the shrinking Ottoman Empire began to be known as “the sick man of Europe” — and finally the unthinkable happened: the last of the Ottoman sultans, Mehmed VI, fled Turkey in 1922, bringing to an end an Islamic imperium that had lasted over six centuries, and that at its height stretched from Algiers to the Persian Gulf, from Budapest to the Horn of Africa, and that girdled most of the Mediterranean and all of the Black Sea. Once, Islam’s scimitars had cut a bloody path all the way to Vienna; now Europe, at least in the form of secular modernization, had taken Byzantium once again.

It was always a fragile conquest, though. Islam, even when it appears subdued, is a sullen and resentful subject that chafes and grumbles under secular rule. The ascendant empire of progressive Westernizing modernity seemed for some time, however, to be consolidating its hold on its newly conquered territory: if you look at pictures from Tehran or Kabul from the 1960’s — particularly photographs with young women in them — you might think you were looking at any European city.

But that veneer of modernity was only held in place by the pressure of power — in Iran, by the power of the U.S.-backed Shah, and in Turkey, by the power of the Kemalist military, who in the second half of the twentieth century staged repeated coups to preserve the artificial secular order against the relentless organic force of Islam.

Now it is universalist Western progressivism that is the “sick man”. It is dying of what I have called ACIDS — Acquired Cultural Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. The disease has rendered it unable to make the necessary discriminations — between food and poison, friend and foe, and Self and Other — that any living system must make in order to survive.

The collapse of empires is centripetal, and so the empire of modernity began to fail at its edges. There could never have been a secular Turkey without a strong secular West to act as the seat of empire, but now progressive Europe itself is dying of its inability to maintain its external membrane — which has led, quite naturally and predictably, to an opportunistic infection by alien pathogens.

As secular universalism dies in Europe and Turkey, it will be replaced — as we see already beginning to happen — by the older, organic order that it, for a time, so successfully overwhelmed. This weekend’s events in Turkey will mark, I think, the end of Europe’s century-long ideological occupation of what was once the heart of the Muslim world. That ideology will not even occupy Europe, I think, for much longer — though whether it will be succeeded there by a resurgent and virile identitarianism, or by exhaustion and dhimmitude, remains to be seen.

Expansion, contraction, rise and fall, back and forth — from Suleiman the Magnificent at the gates of Vienna, to miniskirts in Kabul; from Mehmet to Ataturk to Erdogan — where will the pendulum swing to now?

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When You Strike At The King…

The coup in Turkey has failed. Naturally, Mr. Erdogan is consolidating his power, and is rounding up his enemies. The fog is still thick, though.

Was it a false-flag job? Erdogan is blaming the exiled dawa jihadist Fethullah Gülen — who, from his compound in Pennsylvania, leads a large and subversive faction in Turkey. Some reports have suggested that the coup was attempted in haste because word had leaked out of an impending purge of Gülenists in the military.

Who knows? Not me. Both stories seem plausible. If I were Erdogan, and wanted to make a truly effective purge, I’d want to get public sympathy on my side, and what better way to do so than to fake a coup first, and blame it on Gülen? But the other account — that leaders of a Gülenist faction in the Turkish military got wind of a coming purge, and figured that a coup, however ill-prepared, was a better chance than waiting for the axe to fall — makes sense too.

Learn more about Mr. Gülen here.

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The Ankara Reichstag?

By now you have heard that there has been a coup attempt in Turkey. The situation is still chaotic, but it appears that in Istanbul at least, the coup is failing, with soldiers surrendering their weapons to police. President Erdogan was reported earlier to have left the country, but now we hear he is in Istanbul.

What to expect next, if the coup fails (which I think it will*): Erdogan will declare emergency powers. It would be almost without historical precedent for him not to do so. Moreover, he would be a fool not to do so, and he is not a fool. (“Never let a crisis go to waste.”)

I would not be surprised to learn that this was a false-flag operation, though of course that’s pure speculation. Erdogan, who is no secularist, once said that “democracy is like a train; you get off once you have reached your destination.” Perhaps he decided to take the express.

We live in interesting times.

*Note: why did I think, almost from the beginning, that the coup would fail? Because as far as I could tell, the rebels did not control the media quickly and completely. That suggested that they were not well-organized enough to succeed — or that the coup was never intended to succeed.

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Mr. Nice Guy

Yet another jihadi massacre in France last night. Eighty-four are dead as I write; the number will rise. What can I say that I haven’t said before?

Not to worry, though — the Huffington Post has the answer:

 
Yup, we’ve got ’em right where we want ’em. Some prayers, a hashtag or two, lots of flowers and candles, and maybe a visit by David Crosby or Judy Collins ought to finish this whole thing off.

What will actually happen: Fear will win, peace will lose.

I’ll say something I have said before: to allow mass immigration of Muslims is the stupidest and most irreversibly self-destructive thing that any Western nation can do.

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Science!

Some science items for today:

With race front and center in every news cycle, it’s good to be prepared for encounters with those who insist that race is “only a social construct” (many of whom also spend all their waking hours totting up accounts of how one race is doing compared to another). Readers of this blog will know that our editorial position is quite the opposite: that cultures are part of the “extended phenotype” of different human populations, and so it’s more accurate to say that societies are racial constructs, rather than the other way round. (This is because, as John Derbyshire has succinctly put it, different human groups “are bound to express different statistical patterns on any heritable traits, which would include traits of behavior, intelligence, and personality.”)

You may run into a particular, brainy subset of such people who will, in support of their belief in human universalism, produce Richard Lewontin’s famous observation that genetic markers vary more within populations than between them. This is true — but it misses the point so dramatically that the wishful generalization he erected upon it has now come to be known as Lewontin’s Fallacy. (You might also hear about Stephen Jay Gould’s antiracist tract The Mismeasure of Man, which has now been so thoroughly discredited that it is held up as a sterling example of exactly the sort of scientific bias that the book had purported to expose.)

The problem with Lewontin’s claim is that it examines only particular genetic markers, which indeed can vary broadly within groups. What it overlooks, though, is that what distinguishes populations are correlations between large numbers of markers — and when one surveys the genome more inclusively, populations are easily differentiated by these patterns of correlation. (Which is, of course, exactly what you’d expect: given the obvious differences in their phenotypes, it would be odd indeed if there weren’t a consistent way to distinguish, say, a Korean’s genome from a Dinka’s.)

Here, then, courtesy of the Unz Review, are two good items on Lewontin’s Fallacy, from Peter Frost and Razib Khan.

Perhaps the simplest argument against Lewontin’s Fallacy is to point out that if what he says is true, then it should be well-nigh impossible to determine population-group ancestry by DNA — but of course companies like 23 And Me do this very successfully, with ever-increasing precision.

Race is fluid, and like everything else in Nature it has fuzzy edges, but it is most certainly real. It is no more of a “social construct” than sex, or intelligence. But do keep in mind, as the tireless scholar hbd*chick reminds us:

there’s more to human biodiversity than just racial differences!

Next up, here’s a related item about genetics and parenting.

Moving on to other topics, here’s something I hadn’t heard about before: hyperuniformity. The messy boundary between order and chaos is an interesting place.

Here’s a puzzling item for you: a man with almost no brain at all. (He’s no genius, but to quote Dr. Johnson: “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”)

Finally, with hat-tips to our commenter Henry, here are two items: Global E-mail Patterns Reveal “Clash of Civilizations”, and a new theory of life.

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The Problem

Scott Adams (a keen observer whom you may know as the creator of Dilbert) offers an interesting explanation as to why the Democrat-Republican dispute over gun control is so intractable:

On average, Democrats (that’s my team*) use guns for shooting the innocent. We call that crime.

On average, Republicans use guns for sporting purposes and self-defense.

If you don’t believe me, you can check the statistics on the Internet that don’t exist. At least I couldn’t find any that looked credible.

But we do know that race and poverty are correlated. And we know that poverty and crime are correlated. And we know that race and political affiliation are correlated. Therefore, my team (Clinton) is more likely to use guns to shoot innocent people, whereas the other team (Trump) is more likely to use guns for sporting and defense.

That’s a gross generalization. Obviously. Your town might be totally different.

So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.”

It’s a simplification, yes — but like all helpful simplifications, it picks out natural categories very effectively, and does a lot of heavy lifting. Read the rest here.

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Obama Consoles A Grieving Nation

Absolutely shameless race-baiting and anti-gun demagoguery by Barack Obama today as he spoke in Dallas, ostensibly to mourn the racially motivated murder of five white police officers by a black assassin.

What a crabbed and venomous man he is. What a pestilence he is on the nation he despises.

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For All You Logolepts

With a hat tip to our man Mangan, here’s a little vocabulary test.

Race, Violence, and the Police

Despite more than seven years of enlightened rule by a saintly mixed-race President, race relations in America seem worse than ever. Celebrities take to the national airwaves to blame “whiteness” for all the world’s ills, and in particular for all the frustrations, disappointments, and social afflictions of everyone who isn’t white. Moreover, if you were to gather your information only from mainstream media, movies and plays, academic curricula, best-selling books, and political speeches, you would have no doubt that violence and brutality are, in overwhelming proportions, committed by whites against blacks, and especially by white policemen. The reason for this is, in the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates, the greatest writer of the last several centuries, that the deepest yearning of whiteness — indeed, almost the only thing that gives white people’s lives any meaning or purpose at all — is to “shatter black bodies”. (If so, it’s hard to imagine how, for example, Sweden kept itself going all those years, but with the way things are going in Sweden now, I suppose that before long the question will be moot.)

The numbers, however, tell a different story. One researcher who has taken on the thankless task of digging into them is Heather Mac Donald. A recent item at The Daily Wire summarizes some of her findings: police killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks in 2015; the percentage of white and Hispanic deaths that are caused by police is three times higher than the rate for blacks; the fact that unarmed blacks are more likely to be killed by police is due to their penchant for assaulting officers, violently resisting arrest, and the unfortunate fact that in dense, crime-ridden neighborhoods, innocent bystanders are much more likely to be hit by stray police bullets; black and Hispanic officers are more likely to shoot at black people than white officers are, and are more than three times more likely to fire their guns at a crime scene; and a police officer is eighteen times more likely to be killed by a black person than an unarmed black person is to be killed by police.

You can read the whole thing here. Read also this speech, given by Ms. Mac Donald at Hillsdale college back in April, and her February Washington Post essay on unarmed police-shooting victims.

Meanwhile, eighty-two people were shot in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend. Fourteen died.

Churchill said: “You must look at the facts, because they look at you.” As a nation, we have embarked on a disastrous departure from reason and wisdom — or even numerical truth — regarding race and violence. When truth becomes taboo — such as the unwelcome truths that underlie the persistent difficulties and disparities haunting race relations in America — then wisdom dies, and our stress and strife are sure to worsen.

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Comey Testifies

I watched with considerable interest James Comey’s appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today. The reason, of course was his recent recommendation not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for: knowingly and intentionally using a private and unsecure email server to conduct State Department business, putting classified information on it (some of which was classified at the highest level of secrecy), exposing this material to hostile actors, putting national security at risk, refusing to cooperate with the State Department’s Inspector General when his office tried to investigate, destroying thousands of emails after an inquiry was already underway (and deleting them so carefully that even the FBI’s forensic experts were unable to recover them), lying about having handed over all of her work emails, and lying about just about everything else having to do with the affair, including lying under oath. (He had some ‘splainin’ to do.)

Let me say first of all that this is an impressive man. He is obviously of high intelligence. He is poised, and he speaks very plainly. It is easy to understand why so many people hold him in such high esteem.

One of the things that he said today, many times, is that he was not interfered with in any way by anyone. If he is a liar, he is a very good one. My inclination at this point is to believe him.

Having already discussed the points Mr. Comey made in his original statement, I won’t rehash them here, except to focus on his reason for not recommending prosecution. The charge that seems most self-evidently applicable is that of gross negligence under the Espionage Act (specifically, 18 U.S. Code § 793 (f)). Director Comey made it very clear indeed that Mrs. Clinton was negligent in her handling of extremely sensitive material. There can also be no doubt that anyone in her position would know very well that there are strict protocols for handling such information — protocols that she clearly, and willfully, ignored.

So why not recommend filing criminal charges, given the facts and the law? Mr. Comey’s answer was that he could not find a clear precedent for such a prosecution.

In purely logical terms, this would make all prosecution impossible, as the first prosecution under any criminal statute is necessarily without precedent. Mr. Comey instead focused on the fact that he could not find “clear evidence” of criminal intent. This seems odd, as it is abundantly clear that Mrs. Clinton intended to create the conditions that put secure material at risk; she was offered a secure State Department email system to use for her business, and refused to do so, opting instead to use an unsecure server in her basement. Mr. Comey himself said that “any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position” should have known this was wrong, and very badly so; this appears to leave us only the two conclusions that Mrs. Clinton is not a reasonable person, or that she knew it was wrong.

Which seems more likely to you, readers? That Hillary Clinton is not a reasonable person, or that she is a person who would knowingly do something wrong?

Mr. Comey also said that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring this case, but since his remarks many have come forward to say they most certainly would. (See, for example, this sequence of posts by the noted Federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, here, here, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/437566/director-comeys-concession-states-prosecute-negligent-homicide?target=author&tid=900151, and here.)

Why, then? If we assume (a) that Mr. Comey is a man of expert competence, (b) that he was not bribed or blackmailed by the Clintons or the Obama apparatus, and (c) that Mrs. Clinton was obviously negligent (at the very least) with her handling of sensitive material entrusted to her care, in violation of Federal law, why would he find such a tortured way to avoid dropping the hammer?

I’ve heard a lot of ideas about this, but I think the most plausible one — several people have expressed it — is that he simply did not want the FBI, and in particular James Comey, to be the one to bring about such an enormous political cataclysm, one that would deflect the course of history. Charles Krauthammer said it well, I think:

When Chief Justice John Roberts used a tortured, logic-defying argument to uphold Obamacare, he was subjected to similar accusations of bad faith. My view was that, as guardian of the Supreme Court’s public standing, he thought the issue too momentous — and the implications for the country too large — to hinge on a decision of the court. Especially after Bush v. Gore, Roberts wanted to keep the court from overturning the political branches on so monumental a piece of social legislation.

I would suggest that Comey’s thinking, whether conscious or not, was similar: He did not want the FBI director to end up as the arbiter of the 2016 presidential election. If Clinton were not a presumptive presidential nominee but simply a retired secretary of state, he might well have made a different recommendation.

Prosecuting under current circumstances would have upended and redirected an already year-long presidential-selection process. In my view, Comey didn’t want to be remembered as the man who irreversibly altered the course of American political history.

And with no guarantee that the prosecution would succeed, moreover. Imagine that scenario: You knock out of the race the most likely next president — and she ultimately gets acquitted! Imagine how Comey goes down in history under those circumstances.

I admit I’m giving Comey the benefit of the doubt. But the best way I can reconcile his reputation for integrity with the grating illogic of his Clinton decision is by presuming that he didn’t want to make history.

I don’t endorse his decision. (Nor did I Roberts’s.) But I think I understand it.

Of course, all of this depends on whether you believe Mr. Comey’s repeated assertion that he was not following orders. But if you do, the other options are few — because his recommendation is incomprehensible. (His one other comment about not recommending charges was that he bent over backward to avoid the appearance of “celebrity hunting” — but of course what he did was to give the even more toxic appearance of deference to power. What he is supposed to do, of course, is simply to enforce the law, without regard to any of that.)

One further note: it became clear in today’s testimony that Mrs. Clinton lied under oath to Congress back in October about what was on her server. Mr. Comey more or less agreed that this is so, but said he hadn’t investigated that, because Congress hadn’t asked him to. I imagine that now they will.

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You Owe Them Nothing

FBI director Comey has just given a statement on his agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified email.

We read (my emphasis):

Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.

Got that? Just to be clear, here’s what 18 U.S. Code § 793 says about negligence:

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document… relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Note: “…through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody…”; “…having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust…”

On even the most charitable (and completely, utterly, laughably implausible) interpretation — that Mrs. Clinton simply had no idea she was doing anything wrong — has she not amply satisfied these criteria?

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.

Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.

While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.

With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.

About what we had expected. But then:

Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.

Recall that just above, Director Comey said that it was a felony to “mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way“. So why does intent matter? And even if it does, can anyone doubt that Hillary Clinton intentionally, by approving, creating, and using her own private and unsecured server, removed classified documents from their “proper place of custody”?

How do you square this circle? How can Director Comey, after laying out the criteria for prosecution, then reading us a damning litany of gross malfeasance that would have any of the rest of us clapped in irons, say that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case”? The FBI’s focus on intent is as we see above, irrelevant. The only possible explanation here is politics and power. (And as one online commenter said about Mrs. Clinton in the wake of the FBI’s account of her behavior, “only her withered husk of a soul is preventing her from bowing out of the race in shame.”)

The headlines from the usual Cathedral organs pass over the litany — in the hope that it will recede from memory — and focus on the FBI’s recommendation. Today, President Obama is out on the campaign trail with Mrs. Clinton; he left on this outing even before Mr. Comey delivered his remarks. Would he have done so if he hadn’t known what was coming?

The mask, and the gloves, are off. All pretense of rule of law, representative government, Constitutional order, and respect for the intelligence and opinions of the American people are now publicly shredded. Power is everything — and the Clintons, and the Obama DOJ, have it. They are mocking us, taunting us, jeering at us. We ask for justice and accountability — and they laugh, and snap their fingers in our faces. What are you going to do about it, American citizens?

Here’s one polemic response, posted yesterday by Kurt Schlichter. (It was also linked to by our commenter Whitewall in our previous thread.)

This is how public trust — and, as night follows day, public order — die.

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Happy Fourth!

Here we are again: Independence Day!

The future of the Republic is perhaps more uncertain than it has been at any time since the Civil War. To quote one insightful observer:

More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves in the meanwhile, though. Our annual parade here in Wellfleet was, comfortingly, just the same as always: everything a small-town Independence Day celebration ought to be.

Raise a glass to the great American experiment; let us hope it can still be saved.

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Service Notice

Things might be quiet here for the next few days — the lovely Nina and I are entertaining guests over the Independence Day weekend, and “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind” will forbid my spending hours banging away at the computer.

Feel free to chat amongst yourselves, of course.

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The Stock In Each Man Is Small

“You see, Sir, that in this enlightened age I am bold enough to confess that we are generally men of untaught feelings: that, instead of casting away all our old prejudices, we cherish them to a very considerable degree; and, to take more shame to ourselves, we cherish them because they are prejudices; and the longer they have lasted, and the more generally they have prevailed, the more we cherish them. We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that the stock in each man is small, and that the individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages.”

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790

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More on Brexit

Our previous post on diversity and Britain’s E.U. referendum drew comments both pro- and anti-Brexit.

One charge was that the issue was “decided by the old but it will affect the young.” Yes, the old voted Leave. They did so as a matter of duty and honor, and out of reverence for the sovereignty and institutions of their great and ancient nation. (These being utterly unknown concepts to modern youth, who know their past only insofar as they have been taught to despise it, it isn’t surprising to hear them grumble; expressing grievance is more or less all they are trained to do anyway.)

Another was that the shakeup would have negative economic consequences. Indeed it will. It is understandable that for those who imagine all the world’s people to be perfectly alike and interchangeable, and to whom the very concept of a nation as anything more than a border with an economy is an embarrassing relic of benighted times, economics would be all that matters. But there are those who see nations as the sovereign homelands of particular peoples, and as sheltered havens for the expressions of their unique and precious cultures, traditions, and folkways — and for such people, the idea of selling their children’s right of self-determination to faraway busybodies for twenty pieces of silver was never worth the gain. They took this last chance to reclaim and secure their heritage.

One commenter said: “You can’t have a world-class economy based on tourism, Marmite, and Stilton cheese.” But if that is all England has to offer, then what, exactly, are they offering the E.U.? Is the point here that England is useless and spent, incapable of producing anything that anyone wants, and so its people should be glad to exchange their self-determination for alms in their dotage? What a miserable and insulting vision of a great nation and people. Any Englishman told that this is why he should prefer remaining in the E.U. should spit in his interlocutor’s eye.

In the same comment, we read that “[i]n a globalized world, you can either have prosperity or you can try to go it alone, outside of trade blocs and multilateral groups.”

I have two responses to that. First of all, there is no reason that an emancipated U.K. can’t make trading arrangements as its people see fit — as of course they will.

Second, this comment assumes that a “globalized world” is both desirable and inevitable. It is neither, and the U.K.’s departure from the suffocating regulatory apparatus of the E.U. is a sign that globalism is crumbling. Moreover, engineers who design and troubleshoot complex systems know all too well that to-tight “coupling” is at the root of most catastrophic failures; the tight coupling of globalization makes the world system far more brittle and subject to chain-reaction disasters of every kind, from disease to terrorism to economic collapse.

But it’s really pointless to bicker about this. Your view of Brexit, like so much else, will depend on your axioms, and neither side is likely to persuade the other. As seems true of every aspect of politics today, Brexit exposed the yawning fissure between two wholly incommensurable visions of Western civilization. It is a pity that we live in such fractured times, but here we are.

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Good Diversity, Bad Diversity

Much is being made of the Brexit vote as symptomatic of a rising tide of nationalism. So it is, and so much the better. Anyone who appreciates diversity — the glorious variety of human cultures, customs, and folkways — should applaud, not condemn, the natural human yearning of every people to have a homeland in which their culture can express itself freely and organically.

Where the things that make up a culture — language, moral intuitions, history, folklore, ritual, manners, customs, and all the other idioms that make the world a diverse and interesting place — are broadly shared by a nation’s citizens, then private life and the civil society naturally flow together, social harmony and public trust increase, political faction declines, and liberty — by which I mean the perception of liberty, which is its most meaningful measure — increases. If, by contrast, every nation on earth becomes a chaotic congeries of every culture, then none of those cultures can achieve its full expression, because it collides in the public square with every other culture. What remains of public life is a ‘metaculture‘ stripped to its lowest common denominator. As more — and more alien — cultures are added to the mix, that denominator is driven lower and lower, toward our most basic animal commonalities.

If, then, you really wish to see Diversity as it should be seen, in all its splendor, let every people have a homeland! As everyone everywhere used to understand, that’s what travel is for. And when you are weary of travel, the best part is: there’s no place like home.

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Another One Bites The Dust

I was very sorry yesterday to hear that yet another New York recording studio — Manhattan Sound Recording — will be closing its doors at the end of the month.

As some of you may know, before shifting my focus to software development a few years back, I made my living as a recording engineer (a partial list of my engineering credits is here). MSR — originally Right Track, then Legacy — was always one of my two favorite “big rooms” in the city, if not the world (the other being my alma mater Power Station, which still survives under the name Avatar). I made dozens of records there. The quality of the acoustic spaces, the equipment, the technical maintenance, and the staff were always absolutely top-notch. (You can see some photos of the place here.)

My friend Dave Amlen, whose first venture was another excellent Midtown facility called Sound on Sound, merged his business with Right Track about ten years ago — at which point it was renamed Legacy — then took complete control a few years later. But the studio’s location — on West 48th Street near Times Square — has proved to be a fatal liability: there has been large-scale construction all around for years now, and the noise has made recording impossible.

Thank you, Dave, for giving us, for so many years, such outstanding facilities in which to make music. Only a studio owner who truly loves and understands the arcane craft of record-making could have given us what you did. I’m glad to hear you are planning to open another space in the next year or so, and I look forward to settling in and pushing up the faders.

Read more about MSR and its owner here.

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Independence Day!

The U.K. votes Leave. A great and ancient nation reclaims its sovereignty and its honor, with a great big middle finger to bureaucratic globalism (and some well-deserved mud in Barack Obama’s eye).

To be honest, I didn’t think they still had it in them.

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Banging Their Spoons

Time to stick a fork in, America. Today we have a sit-in in the House of Representatives. A sit-in. (Next they will hold their breaths until they die, and then we’ll be sorry!)

Maybe they should have been given a trigger warning.

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Not Bad!

Donald Trump just gave a corking good speech. Say what you will about the man — and I’d probably agree with much of it — this is invigorating stuff, and refreshing to hear. Perhaps most importantly, he has Hillary Clinton dead to rights.

Read it here.

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War-War

Pat Buchanan is a rare voice for restraint in military adventurism. In a strong essay, published yesterday, he pushes back against the idea of going to war against Syria.

A long excerpt (link added):

Some 50 State Department officials have signed a memo calling on President Obama to launch air and missile strikes on the Damascus regime of Bashar Assad.

A “judicious use of stand-off and air weapons,” they claim, “would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process.”

In brief, to strengthen the hand of our diplomats and show we mean business, we should start bombing and killing Syrian soldiers.

Yet Syria has not attacked us. And Congress has not declared war on Syria, or authorized an attack. Where do these State hawks think President Obama gets the authority to launch a war on Syria?

Does State consider the Constitution to be purely advisory when it grants Congress the sole power to declare war? Was not waging aggressive war the principal charge against the Nazis at Nuremberg?

If U.S. bombs and missiles rain down on Damascus, to the cheers of the C-Street Pattons, what do we do if Bashar Assad’s allies Iran and Hezbollah retaliate with Benghazi-type attacks on U.S. diplomats across the Middle East? What do we do if Syrian missiles and Russian planes starting shooting down U.S. planes?

Go to war with Hezbollah, Iran and Russia?

Assume U.S. strikes break Syria’s regime and Assad falls and flees. Who fills the power vacuum in Damascus, if not the most ruthless of the terrorist forces in that country, al-Nusra and ISIS?

Should ISIS reach Damascus first, and a slaughter of Alawites and Christians ensue, would we send an American army to save them?

According to CIA Director John Brennan, ISIS is spreading and coming to Europe and America. Does it make sense then that we would launch air and missile strikes against a Syrian regime and army that is today the last line of defense between ISIS and Damascus?

Does anyone think these things through?

Wherever, across the Middle East, we have plunged in to wage war — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria — people continue to suffer and die, and we are ensnared.

Have we not fought enough wars in this Godforsaken region?

Last week, Russian planes launched air strikes on the rebels in Syria whom we have been arming and training to overthrow Assad.

Said John Kerry, “Russia needs to understand that our patience is not infinite.” But why are we arming rebels to overthrow Assad?

Who rises if he falls? Moscow’s alliance with Damascus goes back decades. Syria provides Russia with a naval base in the Mediterranean. Vladimir Putin’s support for the embattled Syrian regime in the civil war being waged against it is legal under international law.

It is our policy that appears questionable.

Where did Obama get the right to arm and train rebels to dump over the Damascus regime? Did Congress authorize this insurrection? Or is this just another CIA-National Endowment for Democracy project?

Why are we trying to bring down Assad, anyhow?

U.S. foreign policy today seems unthinking, reactive, impulsive.

Sounds correct to me. (It might not have, 13 years ago — but history has since added some new pages to its lesson-book, and I am older, wiser, and better-educated now than I was then.)

Read the whole thing here.

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Vote Leave!

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial today calling (unsurprisingly, given that it is the globalist WSJ we are talking about here) for the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union.

The reasons they give are mostly to do with interests other than those of the U.K. itself:

While we hope Britain votes to remain in the European Union, the reasons have less to do with the sturdy British than with the damage an exit could do to a Europe that is failing to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

America’s interests lie in a free and prosperous Europe, and we’ve long thought this is best served with Britain as part of the European Union to balance France and Germany. The British look west across the Atlantic more than continentals, and the Brits have largely been a voice of reason in Europe’s councils.

Certainly true: by my lights, the Brits have been a voice of reason, for the most part, always and everywhere. But as the son of British expats, and as a former citizen of the Commonwealth, I want the British to do what’s best for themselves. And as an ardent supporter of every people’s wish to live in a homeland that expresses their own “extended phenotype“, and as someone with a visceral revulsion for universalist, power-centralizing, power-seeking busybodies, I welcome the prospect that Brexit would, in the WSJ’s words, “be a blow to the confidence and coherence of Europe”. “Europe”, to the WSJ, simply means the E.U., and such a “blow” to that malevolent organization would, rather, be a welcome indication of the growing confidence of the several European peoples that they have the right — nay, the duty), to their ancient heritage and folkways — to stand on their own, and to live under their own rules, rather than the suffocating authority of an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels. If Brexit were to begin a cascade of similar referenda throughout Europe, so much the better. Whether, as the WSJ points out, much of Britain’s problems have to do with local politics rather than with E.U. diktats, is immaterial; Brexit will at least open up the possibility for them to solve them, or not, as the British see fit.

(Unsurprisingly, the WSJ dismisses any concern about immigration.)

It is amusing that the WSJ begins its piece with this:

The British people go to the polls Thursday in their most important vote since they elected Margaret Thatcher in 1979.

Here, thanks to Frontpage, is Mrs. Thatcher on the topic.

Nations feel comfortable in their own nationhood. Pride enables you to do things you otherwise might not be able to do. Europe should be each group in its own national identity. Don’t try to extinguish that. If you try to push people into a mold, you’ll create resentment, and you’re creating it now.

That was in 1992. Were the great lady alive today, she’d be saying: “LEAVE!!”

The WSJ piece is behind a paywall. To read it, do this:

Open an “incognito” browser window, go to Google, and put some of the text in quotes, e.g. “the reasons have less to do with the sturdy British”. Open the WSJ link in the search results. (They’ll probably catch on to this backdoor eventually, but they haven’t yet.)

Finally, with a hat-tip to our friend David Duff, see also this piece from National Review.

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Delivering Us Bound To Our Foe

I do enjoy a good polemic, and Fred Reed’s rants are among the best. His response to the recent act of jihad in Orlando is a fine specimen.

Some excerpts:

Orlando? So what else is new? Why the excitement? I am puzzled that everyone is distraught over a perfectly ordinary act of terrorism by a perfectly ordinary Muslim terrorist. We have seen these attacks before and will see them again. They grow monotonous, like car crashes. They are as interesting as a commercial break.

Why the surprise? We know Muslims kill Christians. We know they stone adulteresses to death. We know they drive airplanes into buildings. We know they mutilate women. We know they bomb airliners. We know they destroy historic monuments. We know they kill their daughters for losing their virginity. We know they kill homosexuals. We know they make coordinated mass attacks on cities. We know they are incompatible with societies of the First World. We know they have no respect for our laws. We know they hate us.

Knowing all of this, what do we do? Why…of course! What else? We import more of them. Nothing could make more sense. Ten thousand Syrians, coming to your neighborhood. Thank you, Obama. Thank you in advance, Hillary.

More precisely, Hussein Obama imports them. A black President with Islamic roots, barely American, who dislikes white people and recruits immigrants of his two ethnicities as hard as he can. We get utterly unassimilable Somalis in Minnesota, and all the Muslims he can find. Fifty gay men have just paid the price.

… From the standpoint of a curmudgeon, to which ashen-souled tribe I belong, the events in Orlando provide the gray satisfaction of confirmation. We in our dismal trade derive no joy from unavoidable sufferings springing from the routine malice of existence—cancer, automobile wrecks, birth defects—but we thrive on the self-inflicted, on the finger-hammerings accompanied by cries of “Ouch!” We observe that Muslims are nothing but trouble anywhere, so we import Muslims. We observe that diversity is the chief source of bitter strife in the world, so we open the borders. When seeking employees, we deliberately hire people who can’t do the job. In our universities we purposely admit those who neither can nor want to learn. Then, when the obvious, the predictable, indeed the inevitable unexpectedly occurs, we insist that it really didn’t, or shouldn’t have, or wouldn’t have, or something, and do it again. In its way it is wonderfully funny.

Unless of course you are among the dead.

Not funny at all, really, to me, but perhaps I am not yet quite as ashen-souled as Mr. Reed. I will say, though, that I feel something of his “gray satisfaction” whenever the Gods Of The Copybook Headings limp up to explain it all once more — but that’s only because I can’t help hoping that finally, some day, we will learn our lesson. (I realize that may be unduly optimistic; it’s starting to look as if no amount of knuckle-rapping is going to get what’s left of this civilization to pay attention in class.)

See also this fine bit of obvious common sense from Thomas Sowell:

Is diversity our strength? Or anybody’s strength, anywhere in the world? Does Japan’s homogeneous population cause the Japanese to suffer? Have the Balkans been blessed by their heterogeneity — or does the very word “Balkanization” remind us of centuries of strife, bloodshed and unspeakable atrocities, extending into our own times? Has Europe become a safer place after importing vast numbers of people from the Middle East, with cultures hostile to the fundamental values of Western civilization?

The answers to Mr. Sowell’s questions, of course, are: no, no, no, no/yes, and no. Read the rest here.

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Returning Fire

With a hat-tip to Bill V, here’s an outstanding essay on “gun control”, written by firearms expert Larry Correia in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre a few years ago. Will it change anyone’s mind? If good sense like this doesn’t, then nothing will. Send it to your friends.

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The True Believer

I just ran across some remarks made a few years ago by globalist uplifter Ottmar Edenhofer, then co-chair of the U.N.’s IPCC Working Group III. This is hardly current, but it’s instructive enough that I thought I’d post it anyway:

So far economic growth has gone hand in hand with the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. One percent growth means one percent more emissions. The historic memory of mankind remembers: In order to get rich one has to burn coal, oil or gas. And therefore, the emerging economies fear CO2 emission limits.

Right. Access to cheap, reliable, abundant, portable energy is essential for everything we have come to think of as modern life: clean water, transportation, effective medical care, economic security, productive agriculture, heating and air-conditioning, mitigation of natural disasters, and much more. It is impossible for emerging nations to lift themselves out of poverty without it.

There is no historical precedent and no region in the world that has decoupled its economic growth from emissions.

In other words: Here is something that appears to have been true, without exception, always and everywhere. Any sane person would take that as a very big hint. Not these blokes, though.

…[O]ne must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy… One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore…

Right, then. Thought so. Thank you.

.

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Feugh!

Here’s the latest from John Schindler on the Clinton email investigation. The skulduggery and conflicts of interest at the highest level of government is — well, I was about to say “astonishing”, but it really isn’t that at all. Dispiriting, at the very least.

That President Obama actually saw fit to endorse this woman, given the state of this investigation and the seriousness of the malfeasance being examined — that’s mighty dispiriting too. But this is what democracy becomes, as the culture decays.

A constitutional question: can a sitting President pardon herself? (It would obviously be an outrage, and violative of the most basic feature of the social contract, namely that a person may not be the judge in his own cause — but is it forbidden?) Imagine what will happen, both publicly and behind the scenes, if charges are brought after Mrs. Clinton is elected and inaugurated. (For that matter, imagine what’s happening behind the scenes right now.)

Monarchy’s looking better and better all the time.

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You Can’t Have Everything

Here’s the gay political gadfly Milo Yiannopolous on the Orlando atrocity (my emphasis):

“I’m not talking about Islamists. I’m not talking about terrorists. I’m not talking about radical Islam. I’m talking about mainstream Muslim culture. There are eleven Muslim countries in which I could be killed for being a homosexual. The state penalty is death. One hundred million people live in countries where the penalty for homosexuality is death. This is not radical Islam. This is mainstream Muslim society. Look what’s happening in Sweden. Look what’s happening anywhere in Germany, anywhere there are large influxes of a Muslim population. Things don’t end well for women and gays. The left has got to make a decision. Either they want female emancipation and it wants gay rights or it wants Islam. It’s got to pick.

This aired on a local CBS station. Good to see.

Also, the hornets are buzzing again for “gun control”. Here and here and here are some responses. (Just for the sake of balance, you understand.)

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The Generic Version

Here’s a video that will change the way you look at… videos that will change the way you look at things.

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, Neither Let It Be Afraid

I write a lot about the desperate fix we’re in, and how we got here. I know many of you who visit here are worried and upset about it all. I understand: once you see how broken our civilization is, you can’t unsee it. It becomes very easy just to dwell on it all, and to become very alienated, bitter, and angry.

Please remember this: there is a very great deal of beauty still alive in this world; there is love and friendship and art and music and everything else that makes life worth living. All I want is to know how we got to the predicament we are in, to understand what makes for happy, harmonious and flourishing societies, and to recognize what is worth cherishing and preserving as we move forward into uncertain times. But even in these discouraging days, it’s important to focus on what’s good and right and positive, and to include as much of that in our lives as we can.

We have a choice when we look at the world: we can focus only on what is wrong, and from there it is easy to descend into fury and darkness. But who wants a life like that? Not me, and not, I think, you. Yes, pursue understanding, but also: pursue virtue. Be of good cheer, and help the people around you however you can. Pursue happiness, and good company, and love.

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Worlds In Collision

By now you’ve heard about the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The killer was a Muslim named Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, from a family of Afghan immigrants. As I write, 50 people have died (including the jihadi himself). The count will almost certainly rise, as many are gravely wounded.

Nobody should be surprised by this, and it’s hard for me to think of anything to say that shouldn’t already be obvious. The obvious is now taboo in the West, however, and so I will say a few obvious things:

Many are scurrying to make this a gun-control issue. It is not. Americans have owned guns — lots of guns — throughout the nation’s history, and gun laws were formerly far more lax than they are now. I grew up in rural western New Jersey. Everyone had guns, generally completely unsecured, yet somehow we didn’t slaughter each other. Even today, Vermont, which has almost no gun laws at all, has one of the lowest gun-homicide rates in the nation. Homicide rates have fallen for decades, even as millions and millions of guns have been added to the nation’s private collections. Subtract the gun-homicide rates among urban blacks and Hispanics, and the U.S. gun-homicide rate drops to European levels.

Moreover, the shooting in Orlando, like so many other spree killings, happened in a place where guns are already illegal. Would-be mass shooters know that when they target a “gun-free zone” they will be able to run up the body count before they are stopped. The Pulse nightclub — like Virginia Tech, or that Colorado theater — was one of these soft targets.

In a post about a year ago, I wrote this:

…as someone who has spent his adult life troubleshooting complex systems, I can say this with confidence: unless and until you understand what really causes a problem, you will never reliably fix it.

If you see a system beginning to fail, you must ask yourself: what has changed? If you are asking this about the state of Western society, and particularly American culture, one thing should be very clear: it is not access to guns.

When you alter a formerly organic and mostly homogeneous society by introducing large, and largely unassimilable, alien populations with wholly incompatible ideologies, folkways, biases, religions, axioms, customs, and tribal affinities, the effects will be disharmony, loss of social cohesion, erosion of public trust, faction, disintegration of civil society, and conflict. When one of those populations is Islamic, that conflict will almost certainly include violence and terrorism. Duh.

Am I wrong? Am I being mean to Islam? Thought experiment: Imagine what the world would be like if Islam simply did not exist. Imagine Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan. Imagine Europe. Imagine Lower Manhattan. Imagine London, Brussels, Paris, Marseille. Imagine this page not existing. Imagine your airport. Imagine your daily paper. Imagine the Pulse nightclub.

Too unrealistic? OK, then: at the very least, imagine what the West might have been like without a half-century of mass Muslim immigration. Imagine Islam in Islamic countries, and Westerners in Western countries. We had that choice, and we blew it.

Taboo, taboo. I really shouldn’t be saying these things!

OK, I will say this, then: how many conflicting ideas can you hold in your head at once? Here is a tricky triad. See if you can make it all hang together:

1) Our society should celebrate, and encourage, sexual diversity in all its forms of expression.

2) Our society should celebrate, and encourage, multicultural diversity in all its forms of expression.

3) Our society should celebrate, and encourage, peace and harmony and happiness.

Like I said: tricky! This will be on the final. Don’t forget to show your work.

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Name That Blog

I’m thinking of changing the title of this blog. It seemed apt eleven years ago, when I had no idea what the focus would be, but now I’m getting tired of it.

That said, it’s just an itch at this point; maybe I will leave it alone. Comments? Suggestions?

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Trump and Curiel

I know I’m late to the game here, but I find this ginned-up outrage over Donald Trump’s comment about Judge Curiel tremendously irritating. I would chalk it all up to mere cognitive dissonance, of the sort that is essential to maintaining a modern Leftist worldview, but it is really nothing more than another salvo in a hot propaganda war. That many soi-disant conservatives have piled on makes it all the worse. I understand the natural conservative impulse for civility and decorum very well indeed — I feel it strongly myself, and Donald Trump’s habitual coarseness bothers me too — but the stakes are high here, and they are missing the real point in all of this, and choosing the wrong side.

It is a hobby-horse of the Left that race and heritage have a permanent and irresistible effect on one’s worldview. For example, the United Church of Christ — an influential mainline Protestant organization — recently published a list of “10 ways you can actively reject your white privilege.” Rule #10 says:

Recognize that you’re still racist. No matter what.

That’s because you’re white. Period.

Look at the aporetic collection of propositions the Left insists on:

1) Race is purely a social construct, with no underlying reality.

2) To assume, merely because of his race, that any individual instantiates any particular cognitive or behavioral properties is racism.

3) Racism is a very great evil, perhaps the greatest evil.

4) White people are all racist: not because of any remediable beliefs or behaviors, but intrinsically and forever, because of their race.

From which it follows, of course, that:

5) White people are irremediably evil.

Much has been made of Sonia Sotomayor’s comments on diversity in the courts. In 2001, the future Justice gave a speech at the annual Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley. (Her remarks there were transcribed by the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal.) Among other things, Ms. Sotomayor said (my emphasis):

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle.

I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

Included therein are the following assertions:

1) Judging is not, contrary to what we would like to imagine, impartial. Our personal differences will affect our judgment.

2) Those personal differences are due not only to our cultural embedding and affiliation, but may also be innate (or, in Ms. Sotomayor’s word, “physiological”).

3) “Wisdom” — which is what we seek above all in judges — is not an objectively existing singularity upon which all lines converge, but varies according to the innate and cultural starting-points from which one begins the process of reason.

4) A Latina judge will, in some cases, therefore reach a different conclusion from a white male.

5) That conclusion will, according to the biases, preferences, axioms, and tribal affinities of Sonia Sotomayor, be better that whatever a white male would have done.

There is also a sixth assertion, over which the official organs and supplicants of our modern liberal secular religion swooned with approval:

6) To install a Latina judge on the basis of this argument is therefore a blow against white, male hegemony, and a great leap Forward in our society’s moral progress.

We could argue about Ms. Sotomayor’s assertions on their merits. (I certainly agree with some of them myself.) We like to imagine that the judiciary is impartial and wholly rational; that it is, as in John Roberts’ words, just an umpire calling balls and strikes strictly according to the law. But Ms. Sotomayor is right: there can never be a universal definition of “wise”. (I’ll note, in passing, that this piece of meta-wisdom probably comes as close to universality as it’s possible to get.) She is also right, I think, that “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences… our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.” Indeed, her stated opinions lead quite naturally — perhaps inexorably — to a conclusion that I’ve expressed before in these pages: the conclusion that, rather than race being a social construct, societies are racial constructs.

If Ms. Sotomayor is right, then the extent to which it is possible for judicial wisdom to harmonize with ambient cultural wisdom depends, quite obviously, on the unity of the culture itself. As the culture fragments and disintegrates, a necessary consequence is that the judiciary increasingly becomes a battleground-by-proxy for the factions, tensions, and incompatible worldviews that divide the nation as a whole. The West is very far along, now, in that mortiferous sequence.

All that Donald Trump has done here is to take up Ms. Sotomayor’s principles and to apply them consistently to Judge Curiel. Why, then, is Ms. Sotomayor celebrated, and Mr. Trump reviled? Given Mr. Curiel’s tribal and political sympathies — of which he has made no secret — it is entirely reasonable to think that he would have profound antipathy to a presidential candidate who has spoken so frankly against the very causes that Judge Curiel so actively supports.

Mr. Trump is a blunt man; it seems often that he has no unexpressed thoughts, which is hardly an asset in a statesman. But he is also, in his way, a man of sharp discernment (can one be both blunt and sharp at the same time?), and his disregard of bien-pensant fictions, and his willingness to express unsayable truths, are the basis of his broad appeal. Mr. Trump might easily have found less controversial ways to approach Judge Curiel’s almost certain bias in the case against him, and his remarks have alienated many Republicans who might otherwise have supported him. But his brazen disregard for taboo will almost certainly increase the passion of those who support him as a disruptor of the sclerotic political and cultural status quo.

I’m fond of quoting George Orwell. Here’s another:

In times of universal deceit, speaking the truth is a revolutionary act.

Sadly, we live in such times.

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After the Storm

A brisk cold front blew through the Outer Cape late this afternoon, with dark clouds and heavy rain. As the front went past, just before sunset, the sky opened up on the western horizon, out over Cape Cod Bay. I went out to have a look.

The first thing I saw was a magnificent double rainbow. The sun was low in the sky, and so the rainbow made a mighty arc that seemed to stretch most of the way to the zenith. (No comment from you science geeks; I already know that the primary arc of a rainbow is at 42° from the antisolar point.) It was so big, though, that I couldn’t get it all at once with the camera in my phone.

My first stop was Powers Landing, on Wellfleet Harbor. Here’s the center of that rainbow’s arc:

 

Read More »

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Goodbye, Columbus

Cambridge, Massachusetts, today joined the list of communities that have renamed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

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Pleasant Dreams

A shocking story from USA Today.