July 17, 2018
— Open Blogger
“It was chaos. I was just treading water; things just didn’t feel good. There were so many students, and so much going on, that it was impossible for me to reach them.” Quamiir Trice
“One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.” Thomas Sowell
“No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.”Thomas Sowellmore...
July 21, 2018
— Open Blogger G'mornin' 'Rons & Ettes. Let's take a peek at a few things that didn't get their fair share of attention at the AoSHQ this past week. more...
July 18, 2018
— Open Blogger The media and the sillies don't like admitting this, and Mueller doesn't draw much attention to it himself in his indictment. But he does mention it on page 13.
Don't expect to see this on CNN.
Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election wasn't as one-sided as Special Counsel Robert Mueller charges in his latest indictment.
"RNC emails were stolen through the same spearphishing scams used against Democrats," a senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the investigation told RealClearInvestigations. "In fact, prominent Republicans were targeted and similarly victimized by the disclosure of sensitive emails during the campaign."
The indictment acknowledges this on page 13: "The Conspirators also released documents they had stolen in other spearphishing operations, including those they had conducted in 2015 that collected emails from individuals affiliated with the Republican Party."
But that is the only mention of Russian attacks against Republicans in the 29-page indictment that focuses on the targeting and victimization of key Democrats...
In fact, U.S. intelligence officials say the attackers penetrated GOP organizations at both the national and state levels, as well as the individual level, and successfully "exfiltrate" Republican emails during the 2016 election cycle. They add that Trump officials themselves were targeted by Russian intelligence late in 2016, often by phishing schemes, in which fraudulent emails seemingly from trusted sources (e.g. the government, banks or Google) are sent to gain access to personal information.
Mueller's office would not say whether the criminal breaches of GOP organizations carried out by the same bad Russian actors were investigated by his team with the same level of forensic analysis and scrutiny as the Democrat-related cybercrimes.
"We'll decline to comment beyond the indictment," Special Counsel's Office spokesman Peter Carr said.
Yeah, I'll bet you decline to comment.
Read the whole thing.
— Open Blogger The basic tension in US foreign policy theorizing is between moralism and realism. Moralism is an idealistic position that urges that we bear any burden in support of liberty. Realism is a far less idealistic position that says we'll ask ourselves -- realistically -- how much of a burden we're willing to bear in support of liberty.
There is virtually no one who is a 100% moralist and virtually no one who is a 100% realist. Virtually everyone is a mix, somewhere on the spectrum between these two poles.
The disputes come not between absolute moralists, who don't exist in any large numbers, and absolute realists, who likewise don't exist in large numbers, but between those who urge a more moralistic foreign policy, and those who ure a more realistic one.
Though those urging for more moralism are still informed by realism and those urging realism are still animated by moralism.
It's a question of degree.
My diagnosis of the foreign policy establishment's and neocons' analysis of foreign policy is that they view things through an almost purely moral lens, as if it's dirty and grubby to even consider pesky little questions like "What realistically can be done to vindicate this moral right? What can reasonably be asked of the American people to vindicate this moral right?"
And I would argue that the foreign policy establishment, and the neocons who dominate the foreign policy establishment's right-hand wing, are far too devoted to a risibly moralistic concept of foreign policy that results in immoral and perverse outcomes.
Let's look at the Ukraine.
Ukraine has always been dominated by Russia. Russia colonized it. Russia annexed it. Russia suppressed Ukrainians' own language as well as its (Christian) church.
I've known some Ukranian-Americans, and they were flag-waving patriots of both America and their beloved Ukraine. They loved Reagan, because Reagan understood Soviet evil -- an evil Ukranians had been suffering under for their entire lives.
The Ukrainians have long wished for true freedom from the bullying (and worse) of their large, powerful, evil neighbor.
And they have every moral right to that freedom.
The trouble is, while they have every moral right, they do not have the physical might to be totally free of Russia's domination.
Ukraine, while formally an independent country since it broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991, continued suffering under Russian domination. Technically they were independent -- but Russia acted as a cynical colonial power interfering in Ukrainian political decisions and thwarting the will of this long-oppressed people.
In 2013, the so-called Euromaidan Revolution began.
You can read up on that as you like, but the major thrust is that Ukraine wanted to join the EU. They wanted to align themselves with free Europe, and distance themselves from Russian control.
So they kicked out the Russian puppet president of Ukraine.
Russia didn't like that. And the threat of a Russian invasion loomed.
The EU and the United States had different reactions to the Ukraine's morally-righteous but politically-provocative actions.
The EU understood that it was a nation of self-interested pacifists who would not under any circumstances do much of anything -- apart from issuing communiques and the like -- to guarantee the Ukraine's political independence and territorial integrity. Basically, the EU counselled the Ukraine to go very slow and not upset too many Russian applecarts.
Cowardly? Maybe. But while they could be accused of physical cowardice they can't be accused of the cowardice of lying to themselves. They knew damn well they would not lift a finger to help Ukraine should Russia invade, and they said so pretty clearly.
So they told Ukraine to not do anything so provocative in declaring their independence from the Russian empire that the Russian empire would reassert its dominance.
They did not lie to themselves about their willingness to fight for Ukraine, and so they did not lie to the Ukraine, either.
On the other hand, there's Barack Obama. The man who would, by the very power of the charisms God granted him, cause the oceans to recede by the power of his arrogant gaze alone.
Remember Victoria Nuland's "Fuck the EU!" phone call that leaked?
Well, the "Fuck the EU" concerned the EU's cautious, go-slow urgings. The US chose to ignore misgivings about a possible Russian invasion and encouraged the Ukraine to get into a fight with Russia that they could not win.
Well, the Ukraine got into that fight -- presumably expecting help from the US, which had encouraged it to get into a fight with Russia.
And guess how much the US helped?
Almost none at all, of course. We did the same things the EU was prepared to do -- issue Stinging Rebukes and Harshly Worded Statements.
But when the Russians began sending mercenaries and special forces troops over the border to pretend to be "native Ukrainians fighting to stay aligned with their historical oppressor Russia," what did we do, beyond offering some sweet words of support?
Nothing. We sent in some medical aid and other non-military aid.
End result? Russian mercenaries and special forces operators faked an "indigenous uprising," killed a lot of Ukrainians, shot down a passenger jet, seized control centers in the Crimea, staged a "referendum" on whether Crimean wanted to stay in Ukraine or annex themselves to Russia.
Spoiler alert on how that turned out: Armed Russian mercenaries were manning the polling places. Do the math.
In the end, the Ukrainian rebellion was met with fire and slaughter and put down. Ukraine's subordinate position to the Russian empire was reinforced. And the most strategically important part of Ukraine decided to re-join Russia in a vote that was totally fair and free of coercion.
The Ukraine is in no better a position than it was before the Revolution, except that more Ukrainians are dead and that a major part of Ukraine is now Russia.
Here's a question: Between the EU response -- go slow, do not start a fight we are unwilling to help you in -- and the US response -- go fast, start a fight, we'll be with you all the way (except we won't be at all) -- which was the more "moral" response?
The EU response looks less moral at first glance. After all, they were basically telling the Ukraine to continue putting up with a substantial amount of Russian interference and domination.
The US response looks more moral, but only at first glance. We pushed for the Best of All Possible Worlds solution. Declare your independence from Russia and align yourself with the peaceful nations of Europe.
But when the perfectly-predictable happened -- when Russia invaded with professional troops pretending to be Ukrainian freedom fighters -- we let them get slaughtered and set them down a path where they actually came out of the conflict in a worse position than they had begun it.
So which was more moral? I know it must have felt super-good when Victoria Nuland said "Fuck the EU!" and urged Ukraine to fight for its independence.
But how did it feel in the months and years that followed, with Ukrainians being bombed and shot and passenger jets being shot from the sky?
A policy impulse -- I think "impulse" is the right word here, because I can't ascribe to it enough actual thinking to call it a "philosophy" -- that felt good when announced, that felt good when it cost nothing at all, actually wound up feeling not so good at all when people started getting killed and Ukraine looked to America for actual support, support that would actually cost America something, and America said, "Here's a sternly worded letter of reprimand for the Russian mercenaries murdering you."
That's not moral.
Morality comes after wisdom, and wisdom can only be had if someone is honest with themselves about what burdens they're actually willing to bear -- not just the burdens they're glad to rhetorically claim they'll bear -- and what costs they're willing to pay.
People who lie to themselves about what they're willing to do are not wise, and, because they're not wise, they also can't really be moral. And their ill-wisdom can often lead to immoral outcomes, as they promiscuously make promises they've never thought very hard about and therefore feel free to shed at earliest convenience.
America has a limited appetite for war. Americans will go to war, but they do reach a point of exhaustion with war after some number of years.
It is silly to pretend this fact away in order to count oneself as "idealistic." People who ignore reality are not "idealistic;" they're just cowards afraid to face reality.
The fact is that Americans are tired of war and it is dangerous to write checks on America's war-fighting account that it might not be willing to cover.
The fact is that one of America's two main political parties is always willing to be part of a war at the Fun Part of the war -- the declaration of war part, the first-easy-victories part -- but which abandons every war it votes for when it sees any small political advantage in doing so.
Joe Biden, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and many other Democrat Senators voted for the War in Iraq. Within three years, they were screaming that Bush "lied us into war" and that we must withdraw immediately.
It is insane to pretend this away. If you know Democrats will give you initial support for a war they'll happily vote you into, when doing so grants them political advantage, and then savagely turn on that war the moment they get political advantage from that, it is lunacy to even count them as allies in war.
By the way: The NeverTrumpers who sometimes claim "At least Hillary Clinton would have been better on foreign policy?" Yes, of course. The same Hillary Clinton who voted for the War in Iraq to show how tough she would be as a president, and then agitated to abandon troops in the field when she realized that opposing the war would boost her chances of becoming president.
Yeah, we need that kind of patriot as President, rather than the unamerican, immoral Trump.
In 2008, Obama campaigned on the idea that he would somehow both withdraw from Iraq and yet also "win" Iraq by withdrawing.
I was incensed by this; it was so obviously, transparently a lie and a dodge. He wasn't planning to "win" anything; he just wanted to bug out. I was angry at the media for never challenging his "Win by Withdrawing" claims and pissed off at Americans for believing this bullshit.
But they voted him into office anyway, and by decent margins. I realized that Americans weren't really tricked by Obama; rather, Obama told them a lie that they knew was a lie but they wanted some "out" to pretend they were honoring the sacrifice of the already-dead while also bugging out of Iraq.
So Obama pretended he would "win" the war in Iraq, and the American public pretended to believe him.
They really didn't.
But they did want out of the war, one way or the other, either stated forthrightly or crabwalked dishonestly, and they voted for Obama, and they voted for the dishonest crabwalk way of abandoning Iraq.
And it was their right to make that choice. Every people has a right to decide how much of war's burdens it's willing to bear.
But they did make that choice, and we cannot pretend that they didn't, and we cannot pretend that Americans' appetite for war is as limitless as internet bloviators' capacity for self-aggrandizement.
When we think of war, we must assume that Democrats and therefore 45% of the country will turn on that war by the next midterm or presidential election. The war must therefore be either a very short one, all wrapped up before the Democrats execute their predictable turn against it, or slightly longer, but still short enough to keep the support of 55% of the public, most Republicans and most independents too, and the length of the war must not be so long as to cause that support to flee as well.
These are the realistic limitations we face on America's war-making capacity.
Again, it is not "idealistic" or "moral" to pretend these limitations away. Running from reality is like running from any other obstacle: a sign of cowardice (moral, intellectual, and psychological in this case), and not a sign of "idealism" and certainly not a sign of "courage."
Wars are not #Hashtag campaigns, with an almost non-existent cost but a big boost of dopamine for Retweeting Justice. They are not just another venue for Virtue Signalling on Twitter.
I tweeted support of Montenegro on Twitter. Look at what a #Braveheart I am.
Wars have real costs and therefore they have real limitations. We do not do our war-fighters or our fellow Americans any favors by ignoring those limitations and refusing to know ourselves, to know, realistically, what we are willing to do and what we are not willing to do, how long we're willing to fight for and when we're likely to bug out and leave our allies or even our soldiers in the field without support.
I'm not against moralism in foreign policy, but honesty is an important part of morality, and being honest with ourselves about what we're personally willing to do, and what we believe our fellow Americans are willing to do, is a critical part of the candid thinking necessary for a moral, and realistic, foreign policy. One that doesn't start a lot of wars and leave them half-finished.
Wars can be left half-finished, but the dead they leave behind are all-the-way dead. I'd like to avoid more half-finished wars and more all-the-way dead Americans.
And I think an important part of avoiding half-finished, lost wars is admitting that the years between 2003 and 2016 did in fact happen -- they weren't just a bad dream, I assure you -- and we have to heed the lessons that those years taught us.
Or that those years should have taught us, at least.
— Open Blogger Not a cuck.
A Supreme Court confirmation fight always raises constitutional hopes and stokes constitutional fears. With one more justice, they'll repeal Obamacare! If they get one more justice, they'll overturn Roe v. Wade ! To arms!
These periodic, now-inevitable freak-outs are a sad by-product of our country's drift away from political rule and over-investiture of power in the judiciary. But happily, the most urgent constitutional challenge of our time needn't wait on a court ruling. Each political branch of government has the constitutional authority needed to fix it.
I refer, here, to ending birthright citizenship.
The notion that simply being born within the geographical limits of the United States automatically confers U.S. citizenship is an absurdity -- historically, constitutionally, philosophically and practically.
Constitutional scholar Edward Erler has shown that the entire case for birthright citizenship is based on a deliberate misreading of the 14th Amendment. The purpose of that amendment was to resolve the question of citizenship for newly freed slaves. Following the Civil War, some in the South insisted that states had the right to deny citizenship to freedmen. In support, they cited 1857's disgraceful Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, which held that no black American could ever be a citizen of the United States.
A constitutional amendment was thus necessary to overturn Dred Scott and to define the precise meaning of American citizenship.
Some will argue that the Supreme Court has already settled this issue, establishing birthright citizenship in United States v. Wong Kim Ark. But this is wrong. The court has only ruled that children of legal residents are citizens. That doesn't change the status of children born to people living here illegally.
The problem can be fixed easily. Congress could clarify legislatively that the children of noncitizens are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and thus not citizens under the 14th Amendment. But given the open-borders enthusiasm of congressional leaders of both parties, that's unlikely.
It falls, then, to Trump. An executive order could specify to federal agencies that the children of noncitizens are not citizens.
Birthright citizenship was a mistake whose time has gone.
Although the courts would surely rule such an EO unconstitutional, Anton seems to be proposing that Trump dare them to so rule it, and he also seems to be arguing that the President, who is a co-equal partner with the Courts, insist that his authority is just as strong as the courts', and basically take the Jacksonian position vis a vis the courts. (IIRC: "The courts have made their ruling; now let them enforce it.")
Seems a bit unlikely, but I like where his head's at.
— Open Blogger Background: Sorry for not including this. Last night, Tucker Carlson asked Trump why his (Carlson's) son should die to protect new NATO signatory Montengero. Trump expressed a lot of doubt about going to war for Montenegro.
The usual neocon suspects -- Noah Rothman, David French, etc., as well as the suddenly gung-ho-to-kill-Russkies socialist left -- are foaming about even asking serious questions about what America would actually do if Russia invaded Montenegro.
While they fulminate and salivate, I can't help noticing that Russia did in fact invade another country that the US made security guarantees to, and the US did nothing much about it, and they themselves did not advocate for War in the Ukraine. Almost as if their mouths are writing a lot of checks their asses (and political viability) can't cover.
So I do think it's fair to ask what, realistically, the US is willing to do when faced with the possibility of a war with Russia.
One big problem I have with Trump's answer is that he's talking about a country we've already made a part of NATO. Not a wise decision -- but that ship has sailed. We already made that guarantee.
However, I do think it's worth talking about this question so that we stop making guarantees to everyone in the world, and maybe get more realistic about what we'd actually do if Russia invaded a country that wasn't a part of the core original treaty group of Western Europe. Our lack of resolve in the Ukraine suggests that the American foreign policy establishment likes making guarantees it has virtually no intention of ever honoring.
If we're going to be serious about treaty commitments, then we have to be serious about all treaty commitments -- the commitments where there's an actual invasion going on that legally requires US action, now, and not just those more-fun-to-chat-about hypothetical future invasions.
Which are safer to discuss politically, of course, because no US troops are currently demanded for the cause.
In the meantime, the unchastened neocons choose to selectively forget that the United States made security guarantees to Ukraine, promising to protect it in case of Russian invasion, and we have chosen to ignore those obligations.
And I don't hear the neocons squawking much about that. Because, to honor those obligations would require immediate US entry into a war against Russia, which would be incredibly unpopular.
So instead they jerk themselves off about fantasy future hypotheticals about Montenegro.
How about talking about the obligations we're currently in default of honoring, neocons?
The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances refers to three identical political agreements signed at the OSCE conference in Budapest, Hungary on 5 December 1994, providing security assurances by its signatories relating to the accession of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland, and the United States Of America. China and France gave somewhat weaker individual assurances in separate documents.
The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
As a result, between 1994 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons. Before that, Ukraine had the world's third largest nuclear weapons stockpile, of which Ukraine had physical if not operational control....
Following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, the US, Canada, the UK, along with other countries, stated that Russian involvement was a breach of its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum, a Memorandum transmitted to the United Nations under the signature of Sergei Lavrov, amongst others, and in violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The US asked Ukraine to give up its huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons in exchange for guarantees that we would protect their independence and territorial integrity from Russian interference or invasion.
Russia has interfered and has, for all practical purposes, invaded.
So why aren't the neocons demanding a declaration of war against Russia?
Oh, for the usual reasons. They're not serious people. They like talking tough but they understand that their prescriptions are wildly unpopular, so they don't really push very hard for much action; they mostly just play the weakling's favorite game talking the toughest without actually trying to get into a fight.
One trick the necons are trying right now is arguing that by making guarantees that we will fight wars on behalf of people they know damn well we will not fight on behalf of, we will somehow actually avoid fighting on behalf of the people we're not going to fight on behalf of in any situation.
First of all, this more of Obama's Red Line strategy -- and the neocons are nothing at all like Obama, they'll assure you.
Claiming you have a "Red Line" which you will go to war to defend while knowing you will not go to war to defend that Red Line projects weakness, not strength.
Second, telling people to get on board with a treaty that requires them to go to war to defend another country actually reduces the chances of having to go to war at all fails, intentionally, to prepare the country for the idea that seriously, this treaty means you have to go to war if the other state invokes its rights under the treaty.
It's like getting someone to sign a contract and agree to a contract provision against their own interest by telling them that the contract provision will never actually be enforced, and is just required to be in the contract to "satisfy shareholders."
I've heard this bullshit personally. Pro-Tip: Any contract provision adverse to you should be read as really, really real, and you should only sign if you are very comfortable having that same adverse provision applied in full against you.
Merely hoping and praying it will never be used against you is a legally ruinous strategy.
That said: If the war salesmen are telling people the treaty guarantees will not be invoked, then how can you actually try to invoke them later?
The whole point of a contract -- or a treaty -- is to have a meeting of minds on key points, actual in-fact agreement as to the terms; the neocons' hucksterism in selling Americans on treaty obligations they claim Americans will never actually be obliged to honor is dishonest -- and the American people would rightly refuse to honor such an obligation if demanded later, noting, correctly, that the people pushing on this them told them that they'd never have to actually go to war if they signed this document saying they'd go to war.
Finally -- how does making such guarantees for Montenegro reduce the chances that Russia will actually invade Montenegro when Russia has actually invaded Ukraine and we're already currently dishonoring our obligations to come to Urkaine's defense?
If we're not serious about honoring our obligations in Ukraine -- which the tough-talking neocon Chairborne Rangers are quite happy to be unserious about -- why would Montenegro assume we're any more serious?
Why would Russia assume we're serious about Montenegro if not serious about Ukraine?
So get to agitating for full war, Neocons. Your Sacred Principles demand nothing less. The only way to insure peace for Montenegro in the future is to declare war in Ukraine in the now.
Finally, a little history lesson: the other thing the unchastened, never-learn-a-thing neocons are claiming is that the only defense against war is a series of defensive treaties in which we all guarantee to go to war on each other's behalf. This will prevent war, the theory goes, because the treaty system promises such incalculably dire consequences -- a whole world at war for invading Montenegro -- that no one would actually dare to set off the spark that sets the war on fire.
This is true -- sometimes. Sometimes, the threat of the whole world going to war over a small territorial dispute in a tiny Balkans state does in fact stay everyone's hand from taking the action that will plunge us into war.
On the other hand, sometimes a complex web of treaties and defensive alliances actually causes the entire world to go to war when Russia infringes upon the territorial integrity of a small Balkans region country.
It was called the Great War. World War One. People assumed that the web of treaties in which half of Europe pledged itself to defend the tiny Balkan region state of Serbia and the other half of Europe was pledged to assist the German Central Powers and Austro-Hungary in their attempt to punish Serbia for its role (whatever that might be) in the death of the Archduke Ferdinand.
So it's not quite true to say sprawling networks of alliances always prevent catastrophically large conflagrations. It's not even true of the Balkans region, or of countries sometimes known as Yugoslavia.
Sometimes you can forestall war by making war such an unimaginably large disaster that people refrain from war.
But sometimes this doesn't work, and instead the system of alliances and ententes delivers to you the same unimaginably large disaster you were using as a chit to scare people away from a much smaller war.
One last point: They say, correctly, that when you pass a law, you should accept the fact that this law is so critical that you are willing to empower agents of the state to straight-up shoot and kill people to enforce that law.
You should not have any illusions about this; a law is, unavoidably, Force and Coercion, and when you pass a law, you must make sure that it is important enough a thing to make the killing of citizens who may disagree with that law an acceptable casualty.
The same is obviously true of treaty obligations: One must ask, before entering a war alliance, if the interests to be advanced are actually worth killing a lot of people, and sacrificing a lot of our own countrymen.
And they should be sold to our countrymen as they actually are: as formal, legal, moral guarantees that we will sacrifice our own sons for the sake of the alliance.
And people need to be told that, and have it explained to them why this alliance really is that important, to require the sacrifice of our sons.
It is unserious to present war alliances as only proofs against war. A serious and honest commentator must also tell people that this obligation to go to war for another country may very well obligate us to go to war for another country.
Selling a war alliance as a clever method of avoiding all war is the work of a dishonest swindler selling unfavorable contract terms to someone by lying about what those terms actually are.
So sure: Let's have an honest discussion about which countries we are willing to go to war for, and which we are not.
We're apparently unwilling to go to war for Ukraine. Until Trump, we weren't even willing to provide Ukraine with lethal aid with which to defend themselves; but obviously, both before Trump and after Trump, we're not willing to go to actual war for them.
Which the self-righteous, we'll-fight-our-enemies-to-the-last-man-from-the-non-political-classes neocons are perfectly fine with (given that none of them utters a peep about honoring our Sacred Obligations in Ukraine).
Which other countries are we not willing to sacrifice the last non-DC-resident-life for? Any others? Or is it just Ukraine?
More: How About Turkey? Are We Willing to Really Go to War on Behalf of the Islamist Country and NATO Member Turkey?
Question: given the discussion surrounding Russia, Montenegro, and Article 5 of NATO, if Israel were to strike Turkish vessels or assets providing material support to Hamas or other terrorist entities, would the U.S. be required to militarily defend Turkey? Why or why not?— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) July 18, 2018
— Open Blogger Steven Green thinks the last part is the most important:
As I wrote yesterday (linked above):
That Android phone in your pocket is a virtual spy, reporting back to Menlo Park on your every click, swipe, app, data, photo, email, physical location, etc. All in the name of showing you ads, which Google sells for a LOT of money. And it doesn't matter whether your phone is a Samsung, Huawei, LG, or one of Google's own Pixel phones. Because Google controls the default apps, which is what most people use.
Apple has spent the last couple of years touting (and improving upon) iOS's privacy features. Android phonemakers like Samsung have a hard time competing on privacy, because Google's default apps are, as I described yesterday, digital spies. But now Samsung, Huawei, LG, et al, can ditch Google's apps in favor of their own, and if they choose, take on Apple directly when it comes to protecting consumer privacy.
I'm not saying they necessarily will, but now at least they have the opportunity.
So this decision is a big win for Android OEMs, it heats up the competitive pressure on Apple (which has grown lackadaisical on some of its software quality), and gives Android owners the chance to perhaps take some of their personal privacy back from Google.
— Open Blogger
This Republican Congress has proven incapable of fulfilling the Founders design that Ambition must ... counteract ambition. All who believe in this countrys values must vote for Democrats this fall. Policy differences dont matter right now. History has its eyes on us.— James Comey (@Comey) July 18, 2018
July 21, 2018
— Open Blogger
Happy Saturday, Gardeners and Friends of Gardeners! Well, the Monsoon Season is here in the San Joaquin Valley, which generally means humidity, a few clouds and high temperatures, typically without the threat of flooding common in Arizona and Nevada this time of year. Miserable. It's enough to make me think about gardening at night. The photo above is from another place where it is hot and humid in summer, Brookgreen Gardens near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Looks like a great place to visit. more...
— Open Blogger
Okay, a pile of dirt is involved, but this does not qualify as urban gardening. It is called 'Resistencia'. Video below the fold. David Thompson posted a longer video of a similar performance here. You might like to take a look through the comments.
You see, Ms Lopez describes her mission as nothing less than "expanding the consciousness of human beings." As will doubtless become clear.
She seems to like the pose above. Dirt, water, who knows which medium will inspire her, and us, next? You may need to scroll past some other works of art to reach her interaction with water.
By way of contrast, in case you missed it earlier, VDH discusses the history of The Good Populism in ancient Greece and beyond. (H/T Maggie's Farm) He notes the importance of middle class agrarians to the emergence of democracy. Agrarians who produced something more tangible than the art featured today. When nature cooperated, anyway. Farmers, gardeners, those types.
July 18, 2018
— Open Blogger
Four Officers Of The Amsterdam Coopers' And Wine-Rackers' Guild
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout
It just occurred to me why I enjoy the Dutch masters so much; their work exudes a warmth, not necessarily from the subjects (these guys need to relax and imbibe!), but from the colors and the contrast.
By the way, my original choice for this fine morning after the storm was an El Greco depicting Christ driving the traders from the temple. I recently saw it at The National Gallery in London, and it was spectacular. But I could not find a reproduction that did it justice. Even on the museum's own website was a poor, sad facsimile of a glorious and energetic painting.
The moral of the story is: Get thee to a museum! I'm not sure why museums get such a bad rap, although it is at least in part because many of us were dragged to them as kids and were forced to treat them as cathedrals, where one speaks in hushed tones and all must be reverent at all times, worshiping at the altar of great art.
That's crap. I have had the opportunity to wander through a large number of museums around the world, often alone (the best way!), and I have found that the best way to enjoy art is to look at the stuff that piques my interest and just glance at the stuff that doesn't. So what if you don't like what the art historians say is great. The real crap has been filtered out by history and collectors over the centuries (that's why there is so much absolute shit modern art), so it's a fair bet that most of what is in the museum is going to be at the very least a reasonably good piece.
So...what caught my eye in this piece? The little mutant bat-like dog in the lower left corner. I got a chuckle out of it, then looked at the rest of the painting and immediately thought of a cobloggers meeting just before the first bottle is opened.
Art may be great, but that doesn't mean that it has to be serious. By all means look at the weird animals and finely formed racks and weird feet and cool weapons and great sunsets and strange, six-fingered hands and....
You get the point.
July 19, 2018
— Open Blogger
This is idiocy on a grand scale. And cultural genocide. And part of the long game played by the Left. And there is a soupcon of marketing and virtue-signaling bullshit, since "Bonobos" is clearly not going to produce clothing that fits every "man," because that would include women who claim to be men, and that would needlessly complicate their supply chain, cutting into their profits. But mostly it is antithetical to reality and clear language.
If every man is defined as masculine, then the word will have no meaning, and that is certainly not the case. Not all men are masculine, and in fact, not all men are "men." The obvious goal here is to water down traditional roles and blur the lines between effete, cowardly, weak XY humans and those who rise to the historical (and probably genetic) role of the real man, which these fools conflate with their own dislike of masculinity, probably because they fall short of the traditional measures, and they talk like fags and their shit is all retarded.
The limited definition of masculine is a problem. Instead of asking men to fit into a preconceived notion of being a man, lets evolve the definition and create a world where every man fits. #EvolveTheDefinition— Bonobos (@Bonobos) July 18, 2018
By the way, the front page of their website has only Black men as models. That is clearly racist, with the undeniable connection between bonobos (a species of great ape) and the models. Intentional or not it is a macro-aggression that should be addressed by the resignation of the CEO. more...
July 20, 2018
— Open Blogger
Ilya Yefimovich Repin
Kerensky died in exile, only because the Bolsheviks were not quite as well organized as they would be later on.
Isn't socialism grand?
July 19, 2018
— Open Blogger
July 18, 2018
— Open Blogger
Good morning kids. Midweek and as the dust settles from the fallout over the PDT/Putin Helsinki summit, what's coming into sharp focus (as most of you already knew as you were watching it) is that the reaction to the summit, and in particular, the press conference was staged, rehearsed, pre-digested agitprop. No matter what the President said at that presser, be it critical or conciliatory towards Mr. Putin and Russia, it would have been blasted. "But, but, but muh Pootinz!" Feh.
After a year-and-a-half witch hunt trying to prove that Russia minimally somehow rigged our 2016 presidential election and maximally did it in cahoots with President Trump to install him in the Oval Office - with absolutely ZERO proof and the reputations of our LE and intel agencies and above all their leaders in tatters - this was a shamelessly desperate gambit on the part of the Democrat-Left-Media complex to maneuver him into some sort of rhetorical trap that they could then use as proof. It failed. And in spectacular fashion. Lemme 'splain you. Actually, I'll let Limbaugh do it.
I think when Rod Rosenstein went out and announced this indictment, and then admitted that no votes were affected by this Russian meddling - that the outcome of not a single election was affected by what these Russians are alleged to do in this indictment - it caused a panic to ripple throughout the deep state, throughout the Democrat Party and the media. I think it was seen as, "Oh, my God. Mueller doesn't have the goods!" I think these people have believed...
They've gone to bed every night and they've gotten up every morning believing that Mueller has the smoking gun - that Mueller, even if he doesn't have it, that he's going to say he does. Mueller has been the singular hope in which the deep state's desire to get rid of Trump has been invested. Mueller was gonna find something. His 13 anti-Trump lawyers? They were gonna find collusion. They were gonna find something.
Here comes this indictment, and it finds nothing - and in effect, may actually signal the end of the Mueller investigation. Rosenstein made it plain: Nothing in this indictment, nothing alleged to have occurred by these defendants affected the outcome of a single election. Many people thought that the Mueller indictment announcement was yet another nail in the Trump coffin. I think it's the opposite.
I think it was a cold shock to the system that Mueller doesn't have anything, because there isn't anything speaking of evidence of collusion - and then Mueller handed this case off to a division of the Justice Department where it's never gonna be seen. This case has been tossed out.
This case... Rosenstein announced that Mueller is sending this case to the counterintelligence investigative department in the justice department. Where they do not investigate crimes!...There are no crimes in counterintelligence investigations, and that's where this case has been sent...
...And then Trump had the audacity at that press conference yesterday to ask everybody about the Democrat server? That's where the hacking took place, and that's where the collusion took place. It's all on the Democrat side. All of this is falling apart, and the chances that all these people are gonna be exposed is causing them to panic. I have very little doubt about that.
QED. Look we can talk all we want about, well, Trump shouldn't have been so conciliatory to Putin and this and that and so forth and so on. But for crying out loud, a) it's a diplomatic meeting, not a weigh-in before a boxing match where you hope someone throws a punch and b) we don't know what was said behind closed doors despite the fact that now the desperate Dems lead by the jiz-lipped Kennedy spawn wants PDT's interpreter brought before Congress and forced to cough up the conversation. Unreal (as in all-too real). Finally, it's actions that speak louder than words. PDT is strengthening our ties with former East Bloc nations that rightfully fear the bear, he's countered Obama and installed missile defense batteries inside Poland, he's scrapped the disastrous Iran nuke treaty (Iran being a key client state of Russia) and now has the regime on the ropes and our oil production has Mr. Putin virtually begging us to cut back. Yup. Donald Trump is a deep-cover Russian agent. Has been for decades. Sheesh.
And as far as the "treasonous" act of criticizing our intel community in front of the world, these are the same people who have been colluding to actually steal the election for Hillary and steal the Presidency from PDT and the American people. The decent, honorable members of that community notwithstanding (wherever they're hiding), to hell with them. They and the Democrat-Left-Media complex right here in our own nation - our fellow countrymen (spit) - are the worst threat this nation faces.
Speaking of our brave, fearless, incorruptible defenders of the realm and justice, is Gummy-Boo-Boo Page about to flip and rat out her "lover" Strzok? Devin Nunes is pissed that the FBI and DoJ are completely stonewalling the investigation in the hopes that the Democrats retake the House and then kill it for good, from the day-ending-in-"Y" department David Corn is a laughable hack, and Emmett Tyrrell over at the Spectator has had enough and wants PDT to declassify all the document related to this shit-show. Politically, it opens him up to obstruction of justice charges but I think it's safe to say that the base and a growing number of heretofore disinterested and/or undecideds or even disaffected Dems are now on the side of "teflon Don."
Speaking of interfering in elections, recall it was Obama who meddled in Israel's election in a bid to oust Netanyahu - and on our dime no less. Meanwhile, the question remains who was the "foreign entity" linked to Hillary in the server debacle? The world wonders...
On to politics where that living symbol of truth, justice and the American way James Comey is urging Americans to vote Democrat this November. Yup, that'll go over well in most of the nation. Meanwhile, tender comrade, Democrat-Socialite Alexandria "Loopy Velez" Occasional-Cortex is urging mostly peaceful civil unrest at non-zebra ICE stations, border crossings and airports. Although she's gone wobbly on Joo-baiting and Israel-bashing, she's cocksure Capitalism will bite the dust. And soon. Two good links on the hard left race to the bottom that the Democrat Party is undertaking, and as IBD points out, this is not a new phenomenon. We call Ocasio-Cortez a crackpot and rightly so, but this dame scares me, not in and of herself, but as a possible harbinger of things to come, especially if we do not take back the education of the next generation of American schoolchildren. I'm of two minds on her and what she indicates. Yes, I think it's a very good thing that the Dems douse themselves in rhetorical gasoline and toss a rhetorical match on themselves. When the mask slips and they expose themselves as who and what they are, the reaction is generally revulsion and repulsion. And yet, too many young people (and old enough to know better older adults) think socialism is the wave of the future despite human waste - bipedal, political and fecal - in America's cities as well as 100+ years of gulags, mass graves and gas chambers around the world. Also, what is considered extreme and unacceptable somehow within an ever-shortening span of time becomes the norm (see: homo marriage, transsexualism, etc.). I suppose the bottom line is we're in the center of it all and it's going to take a bit of time and distance to see how these sea changes, especially on the Left, are going to shake out. No matter what, the election and presidency of PDT is going to cause a sea change politically and culturally here and abroad. No doubt about it.
Circling back to immigration and amnesty, and it kind of ties in with my commentary on the nation's trajectory, while San Fran-shithole is in a mad rush to register illegal aliens to vote, deep blue Washington State will have the anti-sanctuary laws on the ballot this November. Recall California's Prop-8 marriage law which actually passed and then was rejected in the courts. Also recall the purging of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich for being outed, if you will, for contributing to it. I expect doxxing galore if this thing passes. On a related note, the IRS has issued a ruling preventing the release of donor lists. Meh, I'm sure a Deep State embed "resistance fighter" will release the names and addresses, just like that NYU lecturer Lavigne did with ICE/Border Patrol agents.
Speaking of cancerous, fascistic worms destroying and destabilizing free speech and enterprise, in all the kerfuffle over Helsinki did you hear about this Twitter terrorist Matt Rivitz? Evidently he has led this anonymous mass drive to destroy Breitbart and Laura Ingraham, among others. He should only get back 10-fold what he has put out there. And whilst on the subject of socialist media, there was a hearing about regulating Facebook and social media censorship which the Dems, led by shambling sack of lipids Gerrold Nadler tried to use as a platform to bash the President. He failed. That said, an anti-Facebook group which has among others Linda "Hamas-Louse" Sarsour as its leaders, displayed propaganda posters that are right out of Nazi Germany. This is YOUR Democrat party, Lefties.
In other news, Blue States are going to sue to overturn PDT's new tax rule limiting deductions of state taxes on Federal returns, the $15 minimum wage is killing New York City's restaurant industry (shocked!), John Stossel in a short film utterly destroying the plastic straw ban insanity, Netflix's woes offer a real world lesson in the free market sure to be lost on Occasional-Cortex and lastly Mandalay Bay is preemptively suing 1,000 victims of last year's mass shooting, in order to somehow protect them from having to pay them out. I can argue with myself back and forth about liability but the optics of this, which shouldn't necessarily count, just look terrible. Ugh.
Anyway, links from around the world, across the nation and up your street. Have a better one and remain blessed.
SPYGATE, MUELLER WITCH HUNT, DEEP STATE
CLINTON SCANDALS, OBAMA SCANDALS, DEMOCRAT SCANDALS
POLITICS, 2018 MIDTERMS
FIRST AMENDMENT, FAKE NEWS
BRETT KAVANAUGH SCOTUS CONFIRMATION
FOREIGN POLICY, INTERNATIONAL
DEFENSE, MILITARY AFFAIRS
ISLAM, TERRORISM, SHARIA, DHIMMITUDE
THE ECONOMY, STUPID
DOMESTIC POLICY, COURTS, BUREAUCRACY
RED-GREENS, CLIMATE CHANGE, LYSENKOISM
CULTURE WARS, HITHER and YON
July 21, 2018
— Open Blogger
The Saturday Night Joke
A young ventriloquist touring Norway puts on a show in a small fishing town. With his dummy on his knee, he starts going through his usual dumb blonde jokes.
Suddenly, a blonde woman in the fourth row stands up and starts shouting, "I've heard enough of your stupid blonde jokes. What makes you think you can stereotype Norwegian blonde women that way? What does the color of a woman's hair have to do with her worth as a human being? It’s men like you who keep women like me from being respected at work and in the community, and from reaching our full potential as people. It’s people like you that make others think that all blondes are dumb! You and your kind continue to perpetuate discrimination against not only blondes, but women in general, pathetically all in the name of humor!"
The embarrassed ventriloquist begins to apologize, and the blonde interrupts yelling, "You stay out of this! I'm talking to that little shit on your lap."
July 17, 2018
And Open Thread
— Open Blogger Yesterday the Usual Suspects -- the twitter circle-jerk Smart Set of people who have proven for years they are not terribly smart at all -- were so a-quiver over a story that alleged Russian agent Mariia Butina had met with a US presidential candidate that they nearly vibrated themselves to an adjacent alternate plane of existence.
I wanted to write about this, but I didn't, because I'm exhausted by them. They have literally exhausted me with their daily freak-outs and Two Minute Hates.
But what I wanted to write was the following:
1. You seem to be convinced that because a spy attempted to make contact with a US person, that US person is therefore guilty of some crime. Are you naive enough to believe that foreign intelligence services don't routinely attempt to make contact with US citizens? Are you vicious enough to claim that any of these thousands of people so-contacted every year should be accused of being spies?
You are aware, of course, that foreign intelligence services attempting to make some kind of low-level, preparatory contact with a target is a common event, whereas the target's agreement to become a spy or trait is a rather rare event, right?
2. Aren't you just jumping to the conclusion that your beloved, cherished Conspiracy Theory urges you towards -- that the candidate in question must be Trump and that the Trump must be a spy because come on, All the Famous People on Twitter know he's a spy?
If Jim Hoft or one of the deplorables you routinely mock in your daily Best Twitter Fwiendz circle-jerk were leaping to such an agrees-with-my-bias conclusion about Barack Obama, wouldn't you mock him as a true-believing zealot?
What makes you any different, apart from your claim that you are different -- better, in fact?
I wanted to write that, but I didn't, because they are tirelessly shrill in their denunciations and unfounded accusations, and you never know who the next person they'll accuse of being a RUSSIAN SPY might be.
Well, it turns out the candidate that Mariia Butina contacted wasn't Trump -- it was Scott Walker. Who is not a spy, because the Daily Twitter Circle-Jerk doesn't think he's a spy, and therefore the Daily Twitter Circle-Jerk's previous "logic" -- if a Russian attempts to contact you, you must be a spy -- is now switched to the "OFF" position.
What will you say now about Scott Walker? What if someone on the left accuses someone you support of being a RUSSIAN SPY based on such thin evidence?
What will you say, given that you've already endorsed precisely this stupid, retarded, utterly non-elite idea that anyone contacted by a foreign national must be some kind of asset for the government of that foreign national?
And indeed -- the left is in fact now accusing Scott Walker of "Borscht Politics:"
In other herring-scented news, it seems that there are hundreds of very weird and wonderful photos of Mariia Butina, the Russian gun-moll whom the FBI busted Monday on criminal lobbying charges, floating around the Intertoobz. I mean, really. Check some of these out.
Oops, sorry. That's Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, and recently appointed midwest sales director for the Foxconn Company, grinning his fool head off with Ms. Butina. From the Capital-Times:
Butina wrote on her Russian-language blog (translated via Google Translate) that meeting Walker "will remain in my memory forever."
"With genuine interest and ready to ask a question on the topic of Russian-American relations, I went to him. And then something happened that I did not expect: the first words in many, many days in Russian, I heard from the future nominee in the US presidency from the Republican Party, who, having learned that I from Russia with a smile said 'Hello!', And during the conversation he remembered another word: 'Thank you!'" Butina wrote.
"We talked about Russia, I did not hear any aggression towards our country, the president or my compatriots," Butina wrote about her conversation with Walker. "How to know, maybe such meetings are the beginning of a new dialogue between Russia and the US and back from the Cold War to the peaceful existence of the two great powers ?!"
Confronted with this memento of the lovely time they had together, Walker had his spokescritter issue the following lame-ass statement to The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Walker spokesman Brian Reisinger said by email that while Walker was in Tennessee, he "appeared in an atrium area while waiting to deliver his remarks, where event attendees had the chance to say hello. There were thousands of people at the convention and many of them approached the governor and asked to say hello and take a photo with him."
Just a friendly guy, our Scottie.
Something truly stinks of borscht in Wisconsin politics. Besides Walker, there are dozens of photos showing former Milwaukee County sheriff--and full-time Happy Meal medal recipientDavid Clarke enjoying the hospitality in Moscow, and Wisconsin Senator Ron (Shreds of Freedom) Johnson was one of those senators who spent the past Fourth of July in Russia.
That's from Esquire Magazine, by the way. Not a huge or well-respected media outfit, but a bit more important than the low-level blogs the Smart Set usually spends its time dunking on.
Now that the Very Liberal Republican Wing has approved of precisely this sort of smear tactic when deployed against Trump -- how exactly can they argue against it when it's used against Scott Walker and Ron Johnson? ( I assume the Smart Set agrees that David Clarke IS in fact a RUSSIAN SPY, because the Smart Set doesn't like him, and anyone the Smart Set doesn't like is a RUSSIAN SPY.)
So congrats on pouring gasoline on the Red-baiting, witch-hunting fire, Social Justice Warriors of the Nominal Right.
So, Smart Set: are you going to actually going to be smart one of these days or is it all going to be this InfoWars-level retarded shit from you from here on out?
The Smart Set spent all of 2003-2012 calling people unamerican for disagreeing with them on Iraq. To my discredit, I joined them in that.
But I've learned, since then. The Smart Set is too smart to ever learn anything from anything.
They only had one trick back then, and they only have one trick now.
— Open Blogger
I heard something about an All-Star Game.
Here's your chance to talk baseball.
— Open Blogger Why so Socialist?
n his first major speech since leaving office, former President Barack Obama endorsed the idea of providing a universal basic income.
Speaking at the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in South Africa on Tuesday, Obama raised the notion of guaranteed income as a way to reduce what he called "yawning disparities" in wealth, education, and security across different socioeconomic groups.
"It's not just money that a job provides," said Obama. "It provides dignity and structure and a sense of place and a sense of purpose. So we're going to have to consider new ways of thinking about these problems, like a universal income, review of our workweek, how we retrain our young people, how we make everybody an entrepreneur at some level. But we're going have to worry about economics if we want to get democracy back on track."
Um, a job provides dignity because the worker knows he's doing something productive, and it provides structure because employment usually requires a start time. Paying someone for nothing at all cannot provide dignity, as the recipient of the dole understands he's not doing anything productive, and cannot provide structure, except that twice a month, maybe, he feels he should probably go over to the check-cashing place to cash his welfare check.
Oh, and by the way: Soak the rich.
He additionally called on the rich to support higher taxation, saying that "you don't have to take a vow of poverty just to say 'let me help out a few of these folks.'
Obama's totally not socialist, though. Neither is the Democrat Party. Ignore the actual announced socialists running as "Democrat Socialists." Claims that there are Democrats running as Socialists are Racist Unfacts which Snopes has debunked.*
* As well as the Weekly Standard's Snopes-like FaceBook-friendly "fact-checker."
— Open Blogger
FBI and DOJ are putting all their chips on Republicans losing the House so that their Democratic allies can shut down the longstanding Intelligence Committee probe, which has unearthed information disputing claims of collusion in recent months. https://t.co/04DrTak9xa— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) July 17, 2018
Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), in a wide-ranging audio interview with his House colleague Rep. Sean Duffy (R., Wis.), accused top officials at the FBI and DOJ of "putting all their chips on the Republicans losing the House" so that their Democratic allies can "shut down" the longstanding Intelligence Committee probe, which has unearthed information disputing claims of collusion in recent months.
Rep. Duffy interviewed Rep. Nunes for an upcoming episode of Duffy's podcast, "Plaidcast."
Nunes also lashed out at the U.S. media, accusing "90 percent" of reporters covering the Russia probe of being "essentially an arm of the Democratic party," according to an advance copy of the interview shared with the Washington Free Beacon.
Speaking of Ben Smith:
Buzzfeed is being sued for publishing the Steele Dossier (or is that the Blumenthal/Shearer dossier, rewritten by Steele to make it less obvious this was a Hillary Clinton conspiracy theory?) which claimed that a Russian businessman was involved in the Podesta/DNC hack. He's claiming that Buzzfeed, therefore, defamed him, by publishing allegations they didn't bother to confirm.
Well, the feds indicted 12 Russians for that hack -- and this Russian businessman wasn't mentioned at all.
A Russian tech executive suing BuzzFeed News over the Steele dossier says he is vindicated by special counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of 12 Russian nationals allegedly involved in cyber attacks against Democrats.
Aleksej Gubarev, the executive, says Mueller's indictment shows he was not involved in hacks of Democratic National Committee emails, as the dossier alleges.
He has filed defamation lawsuits against BuzzFeed News, the websites editor, Ben Smith and dossier author Christopher Steele. BuzzFeed published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017. Steele, a former British spy, compiled the dossier as part of an anti-Trump research project funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign.
"This is a complete and utter vindication of our clients," Gubarev's attorney Val Gurvits said of the Mueller indictment.
Maybe Buzzfeed Ben should worry about his own trash-site's journalistic standards and worry less about the Daily Caller's.
Oh: Representative Ratcliffe says that Lisa Page admitted the texts she and Peter Strzok exchanged meant exactly what they seemed to mean, rather than resorting to Strzok's dishonest "By 'We'll stop it' I meant the American voter would stop it" bullshit:
Rep. John Ratcliffe reveals Lisa Page admitted her text messages with Peter Strzok mean exactly what they say, contrary to Strzoks testimony pic.twitter.com/Ne21aWa8HJ— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) July 17, 2018
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