28 Jun 2022

Mark Helprin’s Birthday

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A 2014 interview.

He turns 75 today. If anyone thinks the novel is dead, he should just go read:

28 Jun 2022

Touché!

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27 Jun 2022

Exactly!

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I used to defend legalized abortion. As time went by, I, too, found it impossible to be on the same side as these people who are utterly indifferent to Constitutional fidelity, Federalism, or the democratic process, as long as they get their way.

I’m fairly callous and unsentimental about babies, but even I started having problems with viable babies torn to pieces or left to die. Everybody should have problems with Planned Parenthood making money selling chopped-up baby parts. It reached a point in recent years where American Society as desired by our liberal friends could compete in lack of regard for human life with the Aztec Empire.

They really deserved to lose this one.

HT: Vanderleun.

27 Jun 2022

How Smart Are the Lefties?

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Not very, as the tweet above demonstrates. Defenseless? That tweet’s author seems to have no clue how many guns there are in rural America and how many people prepared to use them. Not to mention, how many backhoes.

26 Jun 2022

If The Original Top Gun Had Been Made Today…

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25 Jun 2022

Roe Goes Down

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Roger Brooke Taney, Chief Justice of the United States March 28, 1836 — Oct 12, 1864, Author of Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1856).

The post-WWII Conservative Movement’s greatest accomplishment has clearly been elevating jurisprudential reasoning and debate at law schools and the Supreme Court sometimes from the level of “penumbras” and intuitions to a level of serious engagement with the Constitution and the intent of the framers.

Yesterday’s Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, 597 U.S deserves to be welcomed and applauded as a victory for the Constitution and the Rule of Law, regardless of one’s views as to desirability of access to abortion.

As a matter of fact, I personally think legal abortion was a good thing practically. Legal abortion was one of the few ways our Society’s policies were eugenic. I think it is hard to dispute that fewer women so wicked, or simply so morally obtuse, as to be willing to kill their own babies, reproducing has to be a Good Thing. Legal abortion undoubtedly also resulted in fewer criminals, fewer people living in dependency on Welfare, and fewer democrat voters. The argument from Utility is all in favor of Abortion.

Desirable as better eugenic outcomes may be, nonetheless, the integrity of our governmental processes and fidelity to the Rule of Law are more important.

The issue of Abortion is a classic instance, resembling a number of major public issues in the past on which the country was deeply, and fairly evenly, divided. The issue of Slavery in the 19th Century was, of course, the classic paradigm issue of the kind.

Justice Blackmun, in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), followed the precise example of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in his Dred Scott decision, by attempting to resolve finally a fractious, painful national quarrel by usurpative judicial fiat.

Supreme Court majorities experience a temptation to assume dictatorial powers precisely in the kinds of rare cases which evoke the deepest national passions and on which the opposing factions are both sufficiently strong as to preclude the near-term victory of either nationally. It is in just such hard cases that partisan Court majorities are prone to step forward highhandedly to try to impose a nation-wide consensus otherwise unachievable.

Dred Scott, predictably, inflamed Abolitionist sentiments in the North and was responded to with Nullification and open resistance. The Dred Scott decision, in fact, played a significant role in deepening the divisions leading ultimately to the Civil War that finally settled the issue of Slavery at the cost of many billions of dollars and the lives of two and a half per cent of the entire national population.

Removing decisions people care about deeply from elected legislatures accountable to the voters and substituting judicial fiat fundamentally violates the democratic process and denies the whole idea of Federalism. We hold elections so voters have the opportunity to express their policy preferences via the choice of their representatives in the legislatures. And the whole point of there being individual states is to allow different local cultures with different opinions and different ideals to make their own rules.

The 20th Century Supreme Court was no more entitled to tell strongly religious states they must countenance Abortion than the 19th Century Supreme Court was to tell citizens of New England and Midwestern states that they must become slave catchers.

Judicial Overreach is highly likely to fail in its intent to resolve a contest permanently. On the contrary, it is much more likely to embitter and more deeply arouse the losers to carry on the battle via electoral politics and thereby it politicizes judicial appointments. Judicial Overreach is inevitably inflammatory and divisive as well as corrosive to the competitive relationship between the rival parties. Just look at what has happened in Senate confirmations of Supreme Court nominees in the decades since Roe was decided.

Roe’s downfall, therefore, is a happy moment in our country’s history, proving thereby that, despite all, the American system of government really can function properly from time to time.

In response to all the caterwalling and references to back alley abortions, one can respond: This isn’t 1922. Safe and reliable birth control is readily available. There is in general no necessity for women to fall back on Abortion.

And, in any event, Abortion laws are obviously going to vary greatly, reflecting the extreme difference, state to state, in culture, religion, and moral opinions. If you want an abortion, you can always hop on a bus and travel to the nearest blue state.

24 Jun 2022

The Arsenal of Democracy Is Running Low

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The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) warns that the US had better start rethinking the downsizing of its Defense Industries and Stockpiles.

The war in Ukraine has proven that the age of industrial warfare is still here. The massive consumption of equipment, vehicles and ammunition requires a large-scale industrial base for resupply – quantity still has a quality of its own. The mass scale combat has pitted 250,000 Ukrainian soldiers, together with 450,000 recently mobilised citizen soldiers against about 200,000 Russian and separatist troops. The effort to arm, feed and supply these armies is a monumental task. Ammunition resupply is particularly onerous. For Ukraine, compounding this task are Russian deep fires capabilities, which target Ukrainian military industry and transportation networks throughout the depth of the country. The Russian army has also suffered from Ukrainian cross-border attacks and acts of sabotage, but at a smaller scale. The rate of ammunition and equipment consumption in Ukraine can only be sustained by a large-scale industrial base.

This reality should be a concrete warning to Western countries, who have scaled down military industrial capacity and sacrificed scale and effectiveness for efficiency. This strategy relies on flawed assumptions about the future of war, and has been influenced by both the bureaucratic culture in Western governments and the legacy of low-intensity conflicts. Currently, the West may not have the industrial capacity to fight a large-scale war. If the US government is planning to once again become the arsenal of democracy, then the existing capabilities of the US military-industrial base and the core assumptions that have driven its development need to be re-examined. Read the rest of this entry »

23 Jun 2022

Sightly Overmatched

HT: Karen L. Myers.

23 Jun 2022

Defense With Roman Candles

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HT: Vanderleun.

21 Jun 2022

Die Zwölftonmethode

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HT: Karen L. Myers.

19 Jun 2022

27-Year-Old’s Paintings Recently Sold for Seven Figures

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Anna Weyant.

As Spring Auction Sales reports come in, the art world is suddenly agog at Anna Weyant’s sudden ascent.

WSJ:

On the night artist Anna Weyant’s work debuted at Christie’s, the 27-year-old painter was too nervous to attend or even watch the livestream. Instead, Ms. Weyant holed up in her small Manhattan apartment and listened to a calming app on her cellphone until a friend texted with news.

“Summertime,” Ms. Weyant’s portrait of a woman with long, flowing hair that the artist had sold for around $12,000 two years before, resold for $1.5 million, five times its high estimate.

It has been a rocket-fueled rise to the top of the contemporary art world for Ms. Weyant—and far from her unassuming start in Calgary, Canada. Spotted on Instagram three years ago and quickly vouched for by a savvy handful of artists, dealers and advisers, Ms. Weyant is now internationally coveted for her paintings of vulnerable girls and mischievous women in sharply lit, old-master hues. Imagine Botticelli as a millennial, whose porcelain-skin beauties also pop one leg high like the Victoria Beckham meme or sport gold necklaces that read, “Ride or Die.”

Ms. Weyant’s oeuvre of roughly 50 paintings has already filtered into the hands of top collectors such as investor Glenn Fuhrman and plastic surgeon Stafford Broumand. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art recently exhibited her work in a group show, and former Venice Biennale curator Francesco Bonami said he predicts she will make her own Biennale appearance soon, which would be another career milestone.

As is, demand for her art outstrips her supply: The waiting list to buy one of her paintings, dealers say, is at least 200 names long. And last month she teamed up with the biggest art gallery of them all, Gagosian. … Read the rest of this entry »

17 Jun 2022

Progressive Employees Wrote Letter of Protest at Elon Musk’s SpaceX Company

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The Verge gleefully reported yesterday on an “open letter” written by SpaceX employees and circulated on the company’s internal chat system, criticizing Elon Musk’s public statements and urging “the company to better address executive leadership behavior as well as sexual harassment complaints.”

An open letter to SpaceX decrying CEO Elon Musk’s recent behavior has sparked open discussion among the company’s employees in an internal chat system. Employees are being encouraged to sign onto the letter’s suggestions, either publicly or anonymously, with a signed version of the letter to be delivered to the desk of SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell.

The letter, reviewed by The Verge, describes how Musk’s actions and the recent allegations of sexual harassment against him are negatively affecting SpaceX’s reputation. The document claims that employees “across the spectra of gender, ethnicity, seniority, and technical roles have collaborated on” writing the letter. It’s not known which SpaceX employees wrote the letter; the employees who posted the letter in the internal chat system have not responded to requests for comment.

“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,” the letter states. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX — every Tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company. It is critical to make clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, our mission, or our values.”

RTWT

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And today, the Wall Street Journal reported on the company’s response:

SpaceX fired several employees involved in a letter that criticized Chief Executive Elon Musk and the way the company applies internal rules, according to an email to staff from SpaceX’s president and people familiar with it.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, said the company conducted an investigation and decided to terminate a number of employees who participated in the effort, according to the email, a copy of which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Her email didn’t say how many people the company let go, and that number couldn’t immediately be determined.

RTWT

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