No extra notes this morning. A red-eye to Denver and then an early flight to Des Moines beckons, and I’ve other work to get to before heading to the airport. So stand ready! Here comes the Wednesday usual.
No extra notes this morning. A red-eye to Denver and then an early flight to Des Moines beckons, and I’ve other work to get to before heading to the airport. So stand ready! Here comes the Wednesday usual.
Well, maybe recent history. There certainly have been important elections in the past, and some of those really only became apparent in hindsight. Just off the top of my head, I can think of two Presidential elections that, had they gone the other way, would have led the nation down a distinctly different path, those being the elections of 1860 and 1864.
But, yeah, 2024 is going to be an interesting one. In The Claremont Review of Books, scribe Jeffrey H. Anderson has some thoughts on the matter that I found interesting.
So far, this has been the “briar patch” election. Democrats, desperate to run against Donald Trump because he’s the one candidate they think Joe Biden can beat, have cheered on Democratic prosecutors who have issued myriad indictments against the former president. They are effectively saying, “Please, Republicans, whatever you do, please don’t nominate Donald Trump!” Republican voters, angered by these politically motivated indictments, are responding, “We’ll show you, Democrats. We’ll nominate Donald Trump!”
Disclaimer: I can find someone’s remarks interesting without necessarily agreeing with them. I’m not convinced, at this early stage of the game (and I remind you all, not one primary vote has yet been cast) that Donald Trump is the sure loser the Left makes him out to be, especially after some recently-released swing state polls. And Mr. Anderson throws in a cautionary note on that score as well:
The result, however, might not work out as well for the Democrats as Br’er Rabbit’s trickery did against Br’er Fox. Biden is such a weak candidate—with a vice president who’s even weaker—that Trump just might win. Then again, maybe the Democrats are secretly fine with that result, too. Rather than giving voters four more years to sour on Biden as he moves into his mid-80s, they might figure that a Trump win would bring them a more satisfying victory in the long run—four more years to stoke and cultivate the faculty-lounge Left, while still remaining confident that independents’ inevitable backlash against Trump would yield a big Democratic victory in 2028.
Remember what I said only moments ago? About not one primary vote having yet been cast? It’s not impossible that the whole applecart may yet be upset, and that upset might just begin on November 30th.
On November 30, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and California Governor Gavin Newsom are scheduled to compete in a nationally televised, 90-minute, one-on-one Fox News debate moderated by Sean Hannity. This debate—between the governors of two of the nation’s three largest states, one a presidential candidate, the other supposedly not—is itself a sign of the campaign’s peculiarity. The very fact that it is slated to occur represents a serious anomaly. Yet it has the potential to alter the race. Featuring two men in their prime (DeSantis is 45, Newsom 56), the showdown will contrast DeSantis’s pro-Main Street, “we’re open for business” governance in the Sunshine State with Newsom’s fondness for authoritarian lockdowns and mandates in the Golden State. If either (or both) of their performances generates a great deal of buzz—a sense of “I wish these two guys (or one of them) would be on the ballot in November”—then it could help reshuffle the race on the Republican side or, on the Democratic side, focus the pressure on Biden to exit the stage.
There will be a sharp contrast here, not only between Republican DeSantis, who oversees one of the brightest economies in the nation and Gavin Newsom, who ruined San Francisco before going on to ruin California; no, the real contrast will be between these two younger men vs. a befuddled, confused, dementia-addled octogenarian President and a former President who, while still active and pretty sharp, is nevertheless in his late seventies.
That’s a pretty interesting contrast, and the news and punditry cycles in the days following that debate should be interesting.
And, of course, we can add President Trump’s legal problems into the mix. The Constitution lays out the qualifications for President, and there’s nothing in there about legal charges pending or convicted; he could, arguably, be elected while sitting in a jail cell, then pardon himself after his inauguration, although the Supreme Court may have to rule on that last part; there is sure as hell no precedent.
Mr. Anderson concludes:
So, if this presidential campaign hasn’t been interesting enough for you thus far, stay tuned—a lot of twists and turns could well be ahead. While this race may prove to be dismaying for the republic, the last thing it should be is boring.
Chimps, our closest genetic relatives, are mean critters. They conduct inter-tribal warfare, they kill members of enemy tribes -even the infants – and they indulge in cannibalism. I’m not sure what that says about us, but now we find out that chimpanzee warfare tactics are more complex than we thought – they actually conduct reconnaissance.
Researchers said on Thursday they have documented the tactical use of elevated terrain in warfare situations while observing on a daily basis two neighboring communities of wild western chimpanzees in Tai National Park for three years.
Information obtained during hilltop reconnaissance shaped whether the chimpanzees made forays into enemy territory, the study found, with these apes appearing more apt to do so when the risk of confrontation was lower. The study, the researchers said, records for the first time the use of this age-old human military strategy by our species’ closest living relatives.
“It shows sophisticated cognitive and cooperative skills to anticipate where and when to go, and to act upon gathered information in a safe way,” said University of Cambridge biological anthropologist Sylvain Lemoine, lead author of the study published in the journal PLOS Biology.
I’ve sat face to face with an adult male chimp at the Honolulu Zoo (there was a thick sheet of plexiglass between us) and have also had occasion to interact with a young female orangutan close up. Both experiences were interesting in the extreme. Looking into the eyes of an ape isn’t like looking at a dog or cat, but neither is it like looking into another humans’ eyes. There is more behind an ape’s eyes than just a “dumb animal,” but not quite up to the human level. It’s a weird kind of uncanny valley effect.
And chimps, especially, are disturbingly like us, from their gestures to their facial expressions to their social interactions. Chimps laugh, they hold hands, they hug – and they kill each other.
As I said, they are our closest genetic relatives. And maybe they are more like us than we’d like to admit – or, in some cases, (I could point out recent events in the Middle East) it may be that we are more like them than should make us comfortable.
I’m going to expand on some deep thoughts I presented a few years back, thoughts that I just had occasion to recall during a discussion with a buddy the other day. To put it simply: Should dueling be legal?
I’m not talking about sparring on Twitter or in the comments section of some news story. I’m talking honest to gosh, 18th century-style, pistols at ten paces dueling.
Dueling has been illegal everywhere in the United States, indeed in most of the Western world since the early 19th century at least. But let’s set aside our ingrained prejudices for a moment and ask ourselves, in a society that honestly and completely exists under the concept of liberty – should it be?
Let’s say two men (or women, or one of each, whatever) have a serious disagreement, one which cannot be reconciled by any normal means. Courts have been unable to arrive at a settlement acceptable to both. Counsel has failed. They are well and truly at loggerheads.
So, both of them, as capable, competent, consenting adults, in full possession of their faculties, agree to pistols at sunrise to settle the dispute. They meet in a field with their seconds, who oversee the loading of the pistols; they take their places, step away from each other on the count and, when indicated, turn and fire. One is killed, the other emerges the victor.
I’d use these, just for the sake of tradition.
Now – answer me this – what crime has been committed?
Oh, yes, I know there is a statutory crime committed. But has there been a moral crime? Both parties went into the affair knowing that death was a likely outcome. I’ve read that back when the code duello was more commonly practiced, it was considered the gentlemanly thing to do to just pink your opponent in the arm or leg and claim victory without fatality, but fatal injuries were a normal outcome; it even happened to one of the more famous of our Founding Fathers.
But even in the event of a fatality – what qualifies this as a crime? Both parties agreed to the duel. Both parties know the likely outcome. Both parties are, presumably, competent to make the decision. If we are truly to be a society that values personal liberty, we must also be a society that allows people to face the likely consequences of that liberty. Dueling may be an extreme example of that, but it’s no less a valid one.
So. Should dueling be legalized? If, in a society based first and foremost on the principle of individual liberty, two parties agree to settle their differences in one-on-one mortal combat, knowing the outcome is likely to be at least one of them shuffling off the mortal coil, then what role does government play in preventing them from so doing?
Obviously there would have to be some limits. You could scarcely allow a duel between two people using nuclear weapons as the weapon of choice, for example. I’d be willing to consider the following restrictions:
The trouble here is as with so many things; the limits here would have to be legislated, and as it is the nature of government to grow ever larger and more intrusive, eventually the code duello would be so full of requirements and conditions as to be useless, kind of like the tax code. Really, it would be better to have the government as completely divorced as possible from the process. The only law that applies would be contract law.
“But Animal,” some might ask, “wouldn’t a duel have the possibility of setting off a vendetta, say between two families?”
“Sure,” I’d reply, “…and as long as all parties agree to the code duello and the likely consequences, and follow the guidelines and rules applying, then, fine. I really have very little problem with families who are so prickly that they can’t settle their differences by non-legal means thinning themselves out thusly, and besides, you can only have the duel if both parties agree; this makes it pretty easy to break the chain.”
“Even so,” the questioners go on, “wouldn’t you have the possibility of a revenge killing outside the code duello system?”
“Again, sure,” I’d reply, “…and that would be a crime, to be dealt with by the legal system just like any other premeditated murder.”
“But… wouldn’t this disproportionately affect (insert name of particular aggrieved community/ethnicity/religion/whatever here)?”
“Probably. So what?”
“What about the families they leave behind? Their children! Think of their children!”
“It’s not my place to think about their children; it’s their damn place to think of their children. So, they leave behind some orphans? Not my circus, not my monkeys.”
“But wait,” comes one final question, “…what about the Non-Aggression Principle?”
“That’s an interesting one. It seems to me that both parties are initiating aggression in unison, by prior agreement under conditions also agreed to. So, yes, both parties are violating the NAP – and neither are. As the initiation is simultaneous – say, five paces, turn and fire – then both are initiating, and both are responding. You can make an argument here that the NAP doesn’t apply.”
It’s a pretty problem.
Of course, this is just an intellectual exercise, and it’s unlikely in the extreme that dueling will ever be legalized, anywhere, in our modern era and, honestly, one would hope that civilized people have better ways to resolve their differences.
But the veneer of civilization is pretty damn thin. If things ever got to the point where trial by arms was again an acceptable way to settle differences, it would be best to have some kind of guidelines around how to conduct those trials.
More to the point, I find the moral question interesting. It seems to me that a duel is morally acceptable if both parties are competent adults, fully informed, and willing to sign on to a legally binding agreement to enter into mortal combat.
Loyal sidekick Rat had a tag for, and was seeking out, a fat cow elk for the freezer, while I just hung out with only a sidearm, soaking up the scenery. Rat was unsuccessful in bringing in a freezer-filler, and the weather turned on us Friday night; Grand County went from warm and sunny to snowy and cold.
This isn’t unusual in the Colorado Rockies in late October. Saturday morning, opening morning in fact, we woke up to snow, which continued through that day and into Sunday morning.
It was a pleasant outing nonetheless. My grandfather always used to say, “it’s not about whether you bring anything home. It’s about being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine.”
As usual, Grandpa was right.
Interesting to note that the weather in our Susitna Valley home were more clement than the Gore Range during this time.
At any rate, a good time was had by all involved. Regular posts will resume tomorrow.
A recent piece I stumbled across, combined with the fire-hose stream of news out of the Middle East, has me thinking about fear, the nature of fear, and the fear that the Hamas assholes kicking up their heels in Gaza and Israel, or someone like them, might hurt or kill us or those we love. I don’t think it’s an irrational fear completely; I don’t waste a lot of brain run-time worrying about it myself, as I doubt any fundamentalist Islamic shitbirds are going to go poking around in the rural Alaska woods looking for trouble and, even if they did, they wouldn’t last long against a bunch of heavily armed Alaskans.
But some folks worry more. And turns out that it might be a rational fear (or, at least, not completely irrational), statistics aside.
In the U.S., about one in three people are worried about being the victim of a terrorist attack. In Europe, terrorism consistently makes it onto lists of people’s biggest concerns, and it was Europeans’ #1 concern in 2016 and 2017. Even if people aren’t in “terror,” they are anxious about it, and their behaviors have adapted to this anxiety. Most people believe life has permanently changed since 9/11. For Israelis, life may have permanently changed following the events of October 7, 2023.
How justified is this fear of terrorism? One line of argument is that it’s not justified at all.
It claims there are bigger and far more dangerous threats to our everyday lives. For example, in Europe, you are 50 times more likely to die in a bike accident, 85 times more likely to die in a heat wave, and over 4,000 times more likely to die in a car crash than die from an act of terrorism. According to this line of reasoning, our fear of terrorism is engineered by a sensationalist media and psychological biases. A sober risk assessment shows us that fear of terrorism is irrational.
But, according to a new paper by philosopher Eran Fish, the fear of terrorism is not unreasonable at all. There are perfectly justifiable reasons for why we should fear terrorists more than car crashes.
Here are those three reasons, abridged a little so as not to blow up the post; do go to the article linked above and read it all.
The first line of Fish’s argument stems from the idea that we are justified in fearing things that have an element of danger that is random and non-discriminate.
Terrorism can be that (it can also be directed against specific military or, more often, political targets) but it can also be purely random; like Hamas targeting various Israeli kibbutzim for no reason other than they were within paraglider range of Gaza.
Fish’s second line of argument is that terrorism is an intentional act that can be prevented. Car crashes are accidents. While heart disease and cancer make up more than 50% of all deaths worldwide (which is far, far more than the deaths caused by terrorism), these aren’t entirely preventable. Someday, you’re going to die of something — might as well be cancer. Natural deaths are a natural part of life.
But terror attacks aren’t. They can be prevented – mostly by killing terrorists – but the tactic will probably never go away completely. Islamist nutbars aren’t the first people to use terror as a tactic, and they won’t be the last.
Fish’s third line of argument is that it is reasonable to fear insecurity, particularly when the people you put in charge of protecting you (namely, the government) fail to do so.
That’s certainly a fair point – if you are one of those people who relies on government to keep you safe. In America, we have a different way to maintain our own security. Remember when I said I wasn’t too concerned about Islamist nutbars trying to shoot up our Alaskan woods? Because these people are essentially cowards, and won’t go anywhere where they may feel threatened themselves.
But it’s still, even so, a fair point. One of the few legitimate roles of government is to keep other people from hurting us or taking our stuff. Terrorists operate in those thin areas where government, for one reason or another, is unwilling, unable or simply unprepared to provide that protection. That, whether it be in Israel or Chicago, is unsettling to lots of people, and no, that’s not an irrational viewpoint.
Now then: Sure, many Republicans and libertarians are also Christians. That’s fine; most of both also believe the First Amendment codifies freedom of conscience for a reason. But, some folks occasionally forget that some of us aren’t Christians. Townhall’s Jeff Davidson has some thoughts. So do I.
It happens so often that I am amazed when the contrary occurs. I am at a gathering of Republicans/Conservatives, and someone gives the benediction. This could happen at a luncheon, certainly at a dinner, and other types of gatherings. Usually, these prayers are only a couple of minutes in length. Then, after all has been said, the speaker adds a final sentence, “In Jesus’ name do we pray.”
I’m not the first to observe that Republicans and Conservatives have better programs and policies and a firm grasp of what actually helps the nation, but they have lousy messaging. The Democrats have harmful programs and policies but better messaging. They know how to twist and turn a phrase. Consider the difference between the terms “pro-abortion” and “pro-choice.”
When it comes to benedictions, conservatives can enhance their phrasing. Rebel is all you want, but citing the name of Jesus in the benediction is unnecessary. Once you say, “Heavenly Father,” or “God,” or “the Lord,” that is more than enough for a benediction in front of a group.
I have no idea what Jeff Davidson’s religious convictions are; he doesn’t mention them, and in any case it’s none of my damn business, and sort of irrelevant to the point he’s making.
But my own convictions are well-known. I’m an atheist, and very upfront about it. Bear in mind that I’m not a militant atheist; that seems to be the province of leftist atheists, to want to belittle believers or force them to silence. There is an old saw that says “If a conservative is an atheist, he doesn’t go to church. If a liberal is an atheist, he tries to get all mention of religion removed from public life.” My observation is that this is generally accurate. Furthermore, I’ve never harbored any notions that I was smart enough to tell anyone what to do or think. Robert Heinlein once wrote that his father had taught him to “…mind my own business, and always cut the cards,” and I think that’s a good general operating principle.
Mr. Davidson is not talking about religion so much as messaging, and making sure to consider the increasing numbers of Hindus, and Buddhists, and other religious groups entering the conservative movement. It’s not a bad thing to remember, the concept of the non-denominational prayer; military chaplains have been doing it for many years.
Food for thought, certainly.
Last Monday was, of course, Labor Day, and while I tend to shy away from too much serious discussion on holidays, I did come across a good piece on some disturbing trends. I thought it was worth highlighting here.
Unfortunately, the evidence is clear that working-aged men are not doing well at all. Across the board, they are suffering a generational decline in quality jobs and falling out of the labor force in staggering numbers. These problems have grim consequences, not just for men, but for women, children and our nation as a whole.
Read the whole thing. Give it some thought. Now then…
Here’s the thing; I don’t think Joe Biden knows he’s lying. I don’t think he’s mentally competent enough to understand the difference.
Radioactive boars. Yes, really. See the full write up at the RedState link below.
MSNBC’s War on Truth. That’s something of an understatement.
Note: Thanks to a really good suggestion that I should have thought of myself, I’ll now start noting here which of these are VIP (pay-walled) stories.
Bob Dylan, America’s Songwriter, has crossed a lot of genres in his sixty-plus year career. Folk, rock, gospel, even country (see his album Nashville Skyline) and more, the Maestro covers them all.
One of my favorite bits of his work almost takes the form of a hymnal, that being the 1967 song I Shall Be Released. Here, then, is that tune; enjoy.
It’s Labor Day, and so I’ll make this brief. (I’m also making it brief because the family and friends we had visiting are flying back early this AM, and because Mrs. Animal departed yesterday for a visit with her parents, and it’s been a busy weekend.)
I will say only this: Thanks for paying attention to the labor I’ve put into producing what I can only hope is entertaining material (as well as the usual displays of the Feminine Aesthetic) on this site. Thanks also to those of you who have gone over and taken a look at my RedState stuff. I wish all of you True Believers a restful and happy Labor Day, and we will resume normal posts tomorrow!
Special programming note! Tonight I’ll be live-blogging the first GOP Presidential primary debate with some of my colleagues over at RedState, from 9PM to 11PM EDT (5PM to 7PM here in the Great Land). Join us over there for the best blow-by-blow coverage!
Presented without comment:
— New York Post (@nypost) August 16, 2023
Dismantle The Inflation Reduction Act! (We should be so lucky.)
Salon’s Amanda Marcotte (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot. And again; the second one is stupid even for Amanda Marcotte, a serial idiot.
I’m not sure what to say about this song, except that the song got a lot of radio play back in the mid-Eighties, and MTV, back when they were actually about music, played the video a fair bit. OMC was, as I recall, a one-hit wonder, but How Bizarre at least was catchy. Here it is, then – enjoy.