19 May 2016

Douthat: Best Case

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19 May 2016

Why Trump Cannot Be Identified Ideologically

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19 May 2016

Boris Johnson, the Winner

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) and Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is the winner of The Spectator’s President Erdogan Offensive Poetry competition, initiated by the Spectator in response to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attempt to persuade the German government to prosecute a German comedian for Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan,, a March 17th satiric music video mocking the Turkish president’s suppression of free speech.

There was a young fellow from Ankara

Who was a terrific wankerer

Till he sowed his wild oats

With the help of a goat

But he didn’t even stop to thankera.

Congratulations to Boris!

19 May 2016

Reminding Trump Supporters: Trump Is Not a Conservative

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Gerard van der Leun yesterday reached down into a comment thread at to pull out this pearl of wisdom from artfldgr:

Remind me again where Trump, at least currently, is not a conservative?

Taxes, check.
Deficit, check.
Immigration, check.
Sanctuary cities, check.
Strong defense, check.
Supreme Court, check.
Veterans, check.
Common core, check.
Iran deal, check.
Israel, check.
Healthcare, check.
Pro-life, check….
Oh, yes, Planned Parenthood.

Taxes ? Healthcare? Trump is on the record on both sides on nearly all of these issues but, although he does talk about reducing some taxes on businesses and lowering the top tax rate, he has also been promising to raise taxes on the wealthy, and he has, more decisively than on any other issue than the Wall, come out for single-payer Universal Health Care. “I’m going to take care of everybody. … The government’s gonna pay for it.” (Breitbart)

Immigration? Well, Trump plans to build that ridiculous and symbolically-atrocious Wall, and I believe he would probably do that, but he also (unrealistically) has promised to deport 12 million people. The vision of weeping women and crying children being herded at bayonet-point to deportation cattle cars probably does please some of the Alt-Right Nativist crowd, but artfldgr is overlooking the fact that Trump has also, in the course of making those promises, repeatedly also promised that “the good ones,” i.e. the illegal immigrants lacking criminal records, would be allowed to return on “an expedited basis.” (Hot Air)

Pro-Life? Planned Parenthood? Well, the old, pre-presidential candidate Donald Trump was a basically religion-free, high-living playboy, who was, as of 1999, “very pro-choice” and probably a donor to Planned Parenthood. (On the Issues) What with running for the GOP nomination and all that The Donald “has evolved.” But he hasn’t evolved so much that he did not have five different positions on abortion in three days.

The argument that Trumpshirts most commonly employ in demanding that more discriminating conservatives should fall in line and start supporting Trump has to do with the alleged superiority of his Supreme Court appointments to Hillary’s, and just yesterday Trump released a list. That list was a good list, but… did that list really mean anything?

Ilya Somin, this morning, responded, pointing out that you just cannot trust Donald Trump about those appointments, any more than you can trust him on anything else:

I see little cause for rejoicing. That’s because there is little reason to believe that Trump will actually stick to the list. A list released as an obvious campaign ploy is a far less compelling indication of Trump’s intentions than his many years of commitment to using the power of government to censor his critics, and trampling on constitutional property rights. Just last week, he threatened to use the IRS to harass the owner of the Washington Post if that paper continues to cover him in ways he dislikes. Unlike on many other questions, on these two Trump has been remarkably consistent since long before he ran for president. Trump also plans to undermine the Constitution in numerous other ways.

When he discovers that most, if not all, the people on the list would be at odds with his longstanding commitments, a President Trump could decide to nominate other jurists, who are more in line with his own longstanding preferences. And he could easily find any number of excuses for deviating from the list.

Longstanding commitments count for more as an indication of Trump’s (or any candidate’s) real intentions than campaign ploys. Moreover, as co-blogger Orin Kerr points out, Trump admits that the list is not a true commitment but merely one that he plans to use as a “guide” because it is “representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value.” A “plan” to use the list as a “guide” is not the same thing as a commitment to choose only people whose names appear on the list.

In sum, we should not be fooled. Trump’s list is not a true commitment, and it does not outweigh a consistent record of opposing important constitutional rights and limitations on government power. There is still every reason for principled advocates of limited government to continue to oppose Trump.

Strong Defense? Under Trump, it’ll be Yuge. It’ll be the greatest, the absolutely best Defense. Trump will have a wonderful Defense. After all, he was sent as a teenager to military school, and he has the equivalent of combat experience, he has assured us:

Draft-dodger Donald Trump once said that the danger he faced from getting sexually transmitted diseases was his own “personal Vietnam.”

In a 1997 interview with shock jock Howard Stern, Trump talked about how he had been “lucky” not to have contracted diseases when he was sleeping around.

“I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era,” Trump said in a video that resurfaced Tuesday on Buzzfeed, “It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

Some may be uneasy, of course, entrusting Defense decisions to a guy who doesn’t actually know what the nuclear triad is.

Israel? Well, Trump has doubtless promised to be a friend to Israel. (He certainly is not going to offend Jewish voters in New York City.) But… Trump has also associated himself with Isolationism, and invoked the (thoroughly discredited) pre-WWII America First movement. There obviously a certain large quantity of historical illiteracy at work here, but that kind of talk was quite adequate to alarm a large number of US allies (Reuters) including Israel (Haaretz).

Basically, when you come right down to it, Trump has been on both sides of most issues. Trump has only the dimmest understanding of policy issues. Trump is poorly educated, not well-informed, and un-intellectual by temperament. Trump is unprincipled. He values fame, money, and success, and he is indifferent to ideology and ideas. Trump is very, very obviously extremely selfish and the crassest kind of pragmatist. He isn’t conservative, because he isn’t anything in the political ideology department. He is just for Trump. If he slipped into office, Donald Trump would have a great time. He’d bang more White House interns than Bill Clinton ever did, possibly occasionally on live television. He would feather his own nest, and he’d do things for people in a position to assist him or the Trump Empire.

He would probably forget everything on artfldgr’s list the morning after the Inauguration, and when it came time to appoint the next Supreme Court justice, he’d be about as likely to name his sister, former Apprentice Omarosa, Judge Judy, or Kim Kardashian as anybody on the list some right-wing expert drafted for him to release yesterday. By then, Trump will have forgotten all about that list and lost the original copy. He will have completely different fish to fry, and he will no longer need your vote. Once he no longer needs you, the Art of the Deal says you are irrelevant.

18 May 2016

The Bridgeport Rig

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The Bridgeport Rig was patented by Louis S. Flatau of Pittsburg, Texas in 1882 and manufactured by the Bridgeport Gun Implement Co., of Bridgeport, Connecticut. One’s Colt Peacemaker could be drawn quicker by simply sliding it in a straight line forward from its clip, and it could even be fired potentially faster still by leaving it attached and just swiveling the gun.

I’ve heard of this before, but Fred Sinclair has some details I didn’t know. Apparently, they actually sold 500 of the rigs to the US Army. It’s not hard to see that soldiers wouldn’t like them. A Bridgeport Rig could be just the thing tucked away under your long coat for a night gambling in the town saloon, but it would be a trifle insecure, bouncing around on top of a horse, and for field duty you’d want a holster with a flap, not an arrangement that left your expensive revolver completely exposed to the weather.


Elmer Keith wore a Bridgeport rig as did James Gillett when he was Marshall of El Paso, Texas in the 1880s; it is sometimes referred to as the “Gillett Rig” for this reason.

18 May 2016

Iowahawk Shares My Opinion of Alt-Right

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18 May 2016

New Casanova

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Anton Raphael Mengs, Giacomo Casanova, 1760, Current Location Unknown

David Coward celebrates the appearance of the Gallimard’s Pléiade first three volumes of a new, unexpurgated and annotated (French language) edition of the 12-volume memoirs of the 18th Century most renowned “Man of the World” in the Times Literary Supplement.

Casanova’s detailed recollections of half a century of restless activity is one of literature’s frankest and most honest self-portraits. He was not without vanity but in his writing he is open about his qualities and failings. He emerges as a man of many contradictions: a freethinker and staunch Catholic, a sceptical rationalist and a practising necromancer, a free spirit and establishment boot-licker, a man of principle and an opportunist, a scoundrel, a snob, both coward and hero, at ease with persons of every class, generous, mean, clever and stupid, a cheat who was gullible, a con man who was easily fooled.

If his bouncing optimism makes him such an engaging picaro, his observant eye and openness to experience qualify him to be an exceptional witness to the world of the Enlightenment. Casanova was comfortable with himself and at home wherever he went. Rome, Vienna, Prague and Paris were stops on a circuit frequented by the same church dignitaries, ambassadors and bankers, the same travelling merchants, actors and singers and the same cast of itinerant scoundrels, prostitutes and outcasts. His Europe was cosmopolitan vertically and horizontally, a permanent travelling circus where high and low rubbed elbows in the same salons, gambling houses, theatres and bagnios. His stamina was phenomenal and not limited to his endless machinations and amours. He crisscrossed Europe from Venice to Moscow to Paris and Madrid covering many thousands of miles in unsprung, unheated coaches on unmade roads at 6 miles an hour. A modest day’s travel in a carriage meant five or six hours’ trundling towards a night’s lodging in a flea-bitten inn. Yet he loved to travel. Travel offered adventure, new sights, the chance of meeting new people and, not least, time to keep up with his reading. In 1759, in a chaise from Paris to Amiens, for example, he read d’Holbach’s deterministic essay, De l’Esprit. He did not think much of it.

Intellectual curiosity and an appetite for books led him to an eclectic view of the world derived from writers ancient (from which he quoted constantly) and modern. He drew his moral ideas from Horace and Pierre Gassendi, and his rational view of God’s universe from Locke, Newton and their Enlightenment successors. He never developed a philosophy of his own, but was quick to see the flaws in the philosophies of others. He told Voltaire to his face that his war on superstition was wrong-headed: teach a man to believe in nothing and he will, as Chesterton would later observe, believe in anything. Rare among his contemporaries, he saw that Rousseau was a masochist who planned a world tailored to suit his failings. Politically, he loved kings, but conceded that whatever the regime the common people invariably suffer. He loathed the French Revolution, which destroyed his world, and hated the violent terrorist Robes­pierre whom he regarded as the fundamentalist spawn of the disturbed “visionary”, Rousseau.

18 May 2016

“Students Create ‘Healing’ Space to Recover from a Speech They Didn’t Even Attend “

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Katherine Timpf, at National Review, reports on a new record in something-or-other set by students at Cal State-LA.

Students at California State University–Los Angeles have set up a “healing” space to deal with pain they were caused by having Ben Shapiro speak on campus — even though that speech was three months ago and most of them didn’t even go.

“On February 25th, our campus experienced immense hurt and trauma,” states the description for the event, which will take place on Tuesday night.

“Almost two months later, students are still feeling the emotional, mental, and physical effects that this event posed, and nothing has been done to facilitate our healing,” it continues. “How can we help each other heal and move forward? How were you affected emotionally, physically, psychologically?”

Here’s the real kicker: According to Young Americans for Freedom program officer Amy Lutz, who attended the event, most — maybe even all — of the kids involved in this event didn’t even go to the damn speech.

18 May 2016

The Horror, The Horror!

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18 May 2016

And Who Can Blame Her?

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Richmond Times-Dispatch, 17 May 2016:

NOLAND, Mary Anne Alfriend. Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the age of 68. Born in Danville, Va., Mary Anne was a graduate of Douglas Freeman High School (1966) and the University of Virginia School of Nursing (1970). A faithful child of God, Mary Anne devoted her life to sharing the love she received from Christ with all whose lives she touched as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend and nurse. Mary Anne was predeceased by her father, Kyle T. Alfriend Jr. and Esther G. Alfriend of Richmond. She is survived by her husband, Jim; sister, Esther; and brothers, Terry (Bonnie) and Mac (Carole). She was a mother to three sons, Jake (Stormy), Josh (Amy) and David (Katie); and she was “Grammy” to 10 beloved grandchildren. A visitation will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 903 Forest Ave., in Henrico. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, May 18, 1 p.m., with a reception to follow, also at Trinity UMC. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to CARITAS, P.O. Box 25790, Richmond, Va. 23260 (www.caritasva.org).

17 May 2016

Know-Nothing-ism Redivivus

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Roger Cohen finds that everything old is new again: both the anti-immigrant passion of the late-1840s-early-1850s American Party and the America First isolationist movement of the late 1930s. Like Protectionism (which has been discredited for decades and decades after the Smoot-Hawley Tariff provoked a universal trade war which played an important role in the world-wide Great Depression), Nativism and Isolationism have been for a very long time looked upon as discredited political positions, which it would be intrinsically disgraceful and discrediting to embrace.

Donald Trump proved that none of the three grave historic fallacies of American politics was a third rail that killed candidacies any longer. His supporters in general didn’t know their history and didn’t care.

On the evidence, ethnocentrism is a pretty basic human instinct. Band together with your own. Keep the outsider down or out. In the 1850s, at another moment of American unease, the Know-Nothings swept Massachusetts and won mayoral elections in Philadelphia and Washington on a nativist platform to “purify” national politics by stopping the influx of Irish and German Catholics.

Papist influence was then the perceived scourge through which the Know-Nothing movement, as the Native American Party (later the American Party) was commonly known, built its following. Today the supposed threat is Muslim and Mexican infiltration. Or so Donald Trump, the de facto Republican presidential candidate, would have us believe in his “America First” program.

A know-nothing tide is upon us. Tribal politics, anchored in tribal media, has made knowing nothing a badge of honor. Ignorance, loudly declaimed, is an attribute, especially if allied to celebrity. Facts are dispensable baggage. To display knowledge, the acquisition of which takes time, is tantamount to showing too much respect for the opposition tribe, who know nothing anyway.

Any slogan can be reworked, I guess. America First has a long, unhappy history, the America First Committee having pressed the view that the United States should stay out of the war to defeat Fascism in World War II. …

Well, America First is back, tweaked as Trump’s we-won’t-be-suckers-anymore ideology. …

The know-nothings are on the march. But of course they must know something. Millions of people who vote for Trump cannot be wrong. Perhaps their core idea, along with the unchanging appeal of ethnocentrism, is that politics no longer really matter. Celebrity matters.

Power centers are elsewhere — in financial systems, corporations, technology, networks — that long since dispensed with borders. That being the case, loudmouthed, isolationist trumpery may just be a sideshow, an American exercise in après-moi-le-déluge escapism.

Read the whole thing.

17 May 2016

Werner Herzog Brand Canned Goods



17 May 2016

“It’s Over Gandalf. We Need to Unite Behind Saruman to Save Middle Earth from Sauron!”

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Greywolfe359, at Daily Kos, explains the necessity of uniting behind the only possible leader (even though that leader, too, might be evil) in order to avoid the rise to power of a leader we know to be evil. He obviously was addressing lefties supporting Hillary in order to stop Trump, but it works pretty nicely the other way, too, doesn’t it?

Gandalf failed. He got his ass locked up atop Saruman’s tower when he foolishly defied the head of the… council of wizards. And now that he’s locked up it’s not like some eagle is going to magically appear and rescue him. It’s over. And now Saruman is our only hope against Sauron.

We need to stop saying nasty things about Saruman or it will be difficult to rally the people of Middle Earth to his side. Here are some things we should no longer mention, or if we do, we should put a positive spin on them so people will still see Saruman is our only hope.

    Saruman’s Environmental Record: While it is true that Saruman has supported clear cutting huge ancient forests, and while an old hippie tree hugger like Treebeard might tell you lots of those trees were his friends, we ARE talking about trees here. And sure, Gandalf has a much better record on the environment but he’s done now. It’s time to focus on how much worse Sauron’s environmental record is. I mean, have you seen Mordor?

    Saruman’s Being in League With the Dark Lord: Okay, okay. It’s true. Saruman did [invite Sauron to his] wedding. But that was a LONG time ago when Sauron still had both eyes. And fake hair. It’s also true that Saruman may have promised to do the dark lord’s bidding and to find the ring of power and give it to Sauron. But c’mon! You know Saruman was just doing that because he plans to ultimately betray Sauron after he’s done betraying us!

    Saruman Actively Seeks Out the Ring of Power, and the Ring of Power Has Only One Master and Is Evil. Gandalf says that is evidence you have to refuse to have anything at all to do with the Super PrACious at all. His biggest criticism of Saruman is that Saruman plans to try and use the ring. But that’s just an artful smear on Gandalf’s part, implying that Saruman doesn’t have the integrity to be totally uninfluenced by the speaking fees one ring once he accepts it!

    Saruman Has Instigated Pre-Emptive War That Has Killed Thousands: Look, he only did that to prove his loyalty and toughness to Sauron so he could get some of that sweet, sweet ring of power. You know, the power we can totally trust him to use AGAINST Sauron later. Sometimes you have to burn a few villages in Rohan to save the world. Besides, it was all a misunderstanding. Saruman glimpsed in the palantir and thought he saw a spear of mass destruction being constructed at Helm’s Deep. Cause you can totally trust what Sauron chooses to show you in the palantir.

So now you all have your talking points. Let’s get out there and whip up support for Saruman! Saruman is the wisest and most powerful of the wizards and has the most experience! Saruman will not be influenced at all by the Super PrACious ring of power and will instead use its might to betray the one who made it. He totally is going to betray Sauron and not us.

Read the whole thing.

17 May 2016

Large, Dead Anaconda Video

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A video featuring a very large, dead anaconda turned up on Facebook today via an Oriental source. It certainly looks real.

I found another version with a slightly different view of the critter.

Via Creepy Basement.

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