Monday, April 28, 2014

Standing in Line

USA Today writes:

Despite losses at federal district and appeals courts, groups including the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners Foundation back the effort by New Jersey gun owners to legalize gun possession outside the home.

Not quite. The appeals court score is presently the Second and Fourth against the Seventh and a three-judge panel of the Ninth.

But the article is mostly an idiotic attempt to pass off a former SCOTUS judge's opinion that we change the existing wording of the Second Amendment as relevant to what the actual SCOTUS rules on the actual Constitution.

The Ninth Circuit is presently considering whether to allow the state of California and HCI to "intervene" in the case Peruta vs. San Diego for the purpose of requesting an "en banc" (full circuit) review of the panel's ruling. Basically, the panel had ruled against the San Diego sheriff's policy of only issuing carry licenses to individuals facing an extraordinary threat, beyond that suffered by the general population, to their physical safety. The sheriff's office, while not reversing its policy until the District Court determines the specific remedy in light of the Circuit's finding, has elected not to appeal the Circuit's decision. In order for the case to proceed any further, someone has to take over the sheriff's role as the defendant, a role for which the state and HCI have volunteered.

I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that the sheriff's policy was a good-faith interpretation of the intent of state law, and in fact the plaintiff is not contesting the state's intervention. It is contesting, and in its brief totally eviscerates, HCI's claim to standing to intervene. It is gratifying to watch a liberal group on the receiving end of standing rules that normally handicap conservatives in cases from California's failure to defend its prohibition on gay marriage to 0bama's serial lawlessness. If anything, HCI's case is far weaker than ours. Notwithstanding the law's intent, the San Diego sheriff has full operational discretion over the policy at issue. It could, in fact, have adopted a shall-issue policy much as, say, the El Paso County sheriff had adopted one in the '90s prior to Colorado's passage of a shall-issue concealed carry law. For the San Diego sheriff to choose not to defend it's own policy is very different for the executive branch of government's subverting the will of the legislature, or the people. It will be interesting to see if the standard suddenly gets lowered for HCI's benefit.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thoughts on the German Homeschool Family Case

On the German homeschool refugee case: I agree with everything EW has written here, and will express my satisfaction that under the weight of public pressure the DHS has reversed itself and granted the family asylum status. And I also believe the case was correctly decided.

In the context of a middle-class country, and in particular one where the public education system has become a vehicle for uniform and specific official hostility to the values of a plurality (if no longer a majority) of the families whose children it purports to serve, the right of families to homeschool or otherwise privately educate their children should be legally recognized. America has come to respect this right; Germany, to its discredit, has not, and given the family's well-documented and widely-reported struggle with the German authorities, and given as well that there are no countervailing factors that would prevent them from making a positive contribution to America, the DHS should have granted them permission to stay.

But the asylum process is rife with enough fraud as it is. Consider homeschooling in the context of a developing rather than an already-developed country. It may be the case that a poor country, with no agenda other than providing for the education of the populace, establishes compulsory education with no homeschooling exception on the not-unreasonable fear that such an exception would be widely abused to keep children working in the family chum-grinding business (let's say). It may be that there are families in our under-developed country for whom public school would be a gross imposition for religious or other reasons, and a well-managed asylum program would look honestly at this question. Are your reasons for wanting to homeschool specific or general? Do you have an individualized history of being legally pursued by your home government? Are you otherwise assimiliable into American society?

But I really don't want the judiciary trying to impose those kinds of rules, because it's so easy to predict the result: every subject of the poor country with the least interest in immigrating to the U.S. would have presumptive right of entry into America. All they would have to do is claim that they want to homeschool their children! Now the SCOTUS might hand down rules by which such claims might be evaluated, but granting any kind of substantive right of asylum to foreigners would still present a huge difficulty in managing the immigration on behalf of American values and interests. Yes, I know: 0bama's not doing that, but then it wouldn't irrespective of a contrary decision. And some future administration might now be allowed to.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Alpha Beta in Film

I watched the movie Rush, Ron Howard’s mostly true account of the 1976 Formula One season and its principal antagonists, McLaren’s English racer James Hunt and Ferrari’s Austrian driver Niki Lauda.

Ron Howard deftly executes a stunning movie turnabout.  When the film opens, we the audience are led to believe we are watching a movie that back in the 80s would have starred Tom Cruise playing the dashing by-the-seat-of-his-pants racecar driver / fighter pilot facing a generic ice-in-his-veins opponent. And in the hands of Chris Hemsworth, Hunt is exactly that. But slowly, the movie reveals itself to be every bit the story of Hunt's careful, calculating, rat-faced opponent (Daniel Bruhl).

This is no mere good-guy-bad-guy story; rather, it is a remarkable demonstration of the upsides and downsides of alpha and beta personalities. Hunt was handsome and charming, here and in real life. He also drank heavily, abused drugs, drove away his wife (into the arms of Richard Burton) with his verbal abuse and shameless philandering. In other words, all alpha, zero beta. This stands in contrast to Lauda, a man who wasn't much to look at even before the accident that left his face a mass of scar tissue. He was also singularly lacking in social grace, telling even his friends and colleagues without restraint what he thought of them (apparently, not much). He obsessed over the minutiae of automotive engineering, to his racing success. A nerd, in other words. But in the movie, he and his wife are loyal and protective of each other. (In real life, this is more mixed: his fifteen-year marriage had to survive at least one affair that produced an illegitimate son.)

Howard's account of Lauda's initial courtship (if you can call it that) is one of the most compelling demonstrations of "nerd game" I have seen in a movie. Niki hitches a ride with Marlene after a party and promptly starts telling her everything wrong with her car's engine based on the sound. Marlene, who doesn't follow Formula One, is clearly put out at the presumption of this little man, and doesn't give him any credit when the car duly breaks down. But the ice starts to melt when they are picked up by a couple of racing fans who recognize him and prevail upon him to drive their car the rest of the way; she warms up once his fame and driving skills have been demonstrated.

This film is relatively unusual for Ron Howard in the level of profanity, nudity and explicit sex. But here we see the turnabout: initially enticing, Howard shows it to be empty and destructive.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Double Standards (again)

I watched the 2011 movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, based on the John le Carré novel written before he became quite so consumed with his own Left-wing politics.  As a young man, I had tried to watch the Alec Guinness miniseries, but didn’t have the attention span.  Happily, this movie moves at a better clip.  The movie and book is a fictional retelling of hunt for the Cambridge Five.

One of the more bracing moments of the movie is when the staff of “The Circus” (MI-6)’s Russian Section breaks into a spirited rendition of the Soviet National Anthem, led by a Santa Claus wearing a Lenin mask:

from “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

I laughed out loud at the sheer give-a-sh!t ballsiness of ironically singing the national anthem of your mortal enemies for entertainment at your annual Christmas Party.  But . . . I can’t help notice that while Soviet era art is treated as harmless kitsch, it would be hard to find any portrayal of, say, WWII analysts singing Deutschlandlied, let alone the Horst Wessel Song, to similarly humorous effect.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Define "Intolerance"

Ross writes

Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.)


Let's count the problems:

  • First, "gayness" as the cultural expression of homosexuality is probably a could deal less than a century old. Indeed, homosexuality itself, understood as a full-time condition, isn't much older than that. So this "thousands of years' worth" business is at best an order-of-magnitude exaggeration with respect to "gay people".

  • To homosexuality's modern cheerleaders, of course, the notion of "gay people" is indivisible from the specific homosexual acts enjoined in the Bible. Social conservatives in my lifetime have resisted this indivisibility, either from an effort to "hate the sin, love the sinner" or, in the more fundamentalist case, from denial of such a full-time condition. (This second has never been especially plausible to me. While I can appreciate the difficulty that the "natural" existence of particular predispositions -- homosexuality, pedophilia, kleptomania, etc. -- to commit evil acts poses for the Christian understanding of sin, I also know from my own felt experience that something is organically different about people with such predispositions.) I assume that Ross, as a Christian so-con, would at some level align himself with the first of these motivations were he not obligated by his standing with the New York Times to play the ball where they've placed it.

    But in light of scripture, what accommodations to homosexuals, if indeed that is what he means by "charity", does Ross believe Christians, as Christians, should have made but didn't?

  • But let us concede that Sodomites, where their activities have become known, have occasionally been treated roughly. This rough treatment has not been confined to Christian cultures, nor is it unique to homosexuality. All cultures attempt to discourage behavior seen as anti-social. I fear Ross is falling into the liberal trap wherein every folk wisdom or cultural antibody not precisely aligned with the priorities of present-day Leftism is by default laid at the feet of Christianity. Now for those for whom "Gay Rights" is a vehicle for their war on normal Americans, this default is a feature, not a bug. But for everyone else, I invite you to find an anti-gay hate crime -- and good luck finding one -- that was motivated by Christianity.

  • And it's not just hate crimes. In point of fact, if Western Christendom has routinely enforced the Biblically-required penalty for homosexual sex, I am not aware of it. I assume that Douthat is acknowledging Uganda here, but at least two objections come to mind: (1) it is strictly the anti-Christian opportunism of the Leftist media (but I repeat myself) to blame "Christianity" rather than "Africa"; and (2) I would not assume that the practice of homosexual sex in Africa maps all that well onto American-style "gayness" (and indeed I'm not even sure that what goes on in America is exactly the way "gayness" is marketed by the Leftist media -- dang, there I go again!) So while I leave to Uganda how best to deal with the challenges that beset it, I would not recommend their policies for the U.S. But then, what mainstream so-con has?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Incongruities

Am I the only one that sees a disconnect between this story:

CO Fired After Raising Funds From Strip Clubs

Stars and Stripes | Feb 19, 2014 | by Audrea Huff

The commanding officer and master chief of a Florida-based Navy missile unit have been relieved of their duties after an investigation found that adult-entertainment businesses were solicited in a fundraising effort for a Navy Submarine Ball, the Navy said Tuesday.

In a news release, the Navy said that [Naval Ordnance Test Unit at Cape Canaveral, Fla commander Capt. John P.] Heatherington affiliated the service with "businesses that are not representative" of the Navy or the Department of Defense's standards. He was relieved "due to loss of confidence in his ability to command and for promoting an unprofessional command climate," the release said.

and this one?

Gay, Lesbian Troops Perform in Drag at Fundraiser

Stars and Stripes | Mar 03, 2014 | by Travis J. Tritten

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa -- Since the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, U.S. military bases have hosted a gay marriage ceremonies and a potluck gatherings. But on Saturday, servicemembers here may have been the first to take to the stage and perform as drag queens on a military installation in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.

Drag queens and drag kings, to be precise.

Six servicemembers -- gay, lesbian and straight -- donned heavy makeup to dance and lip sync songs such as "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" for a raucous capacity crowd at the Rocker NCO Club at Kadena Air Base. The event was a fundraiser for the recently formed Okinawa chapter of OutServe-SLDN, which is the largest nonprofit advocate for the military's LGBT community.

Monday, April 07, 2014

A True Flag

Steve passes on speculation:

Almost every Ukrainian I spoke with speculated that Moscow is secretly supporting Right Sector in an attempt to both destabilize the weak government in Kiev and provide a pretext for further meddling – the tried and true tactic of provokatsiya, or provocation, which Moscow has been using since the early Bolshevik period to deceive its adversaries and earn sympathy among credulous Westerners.

Maybe. But I see couple of problems:

First, the evidence he presents amounts to so much grassy knollism. The official history of origins of Right Sector is that it is a coalition of groups with long-standing nationalist pedigree. And without commenting on Steve's recent efforts to rehabilitate conspiracy theories in general, it's difficult to believe that with as much skullduggery as the State Department and CIA put into Ukraine, up to and possibly including the overthrow of its elected government, nobody discovered out its "real" patrons, if real they be. (Alternatively, if the CIA knows it's a false flag operation, it would be in the administrations interest to tell the world.)

But more to the point, if Right Sector really were Russian agents provocteur, wouldn't they be more . . . obviously bad? On the contrary, their propaganda videos are far more inspiring to me personally than either the Russian or EU oligarchs vying for control of Ukraine's economy. Yes, I get that their aesthetic is as garlic to our globalized vampiric elites -- hell, the Tea Party is garlic to our vampiric elites -- but wouldn't they want to be more openly anti-semitic or anti-Russian rather than disavowing racism?

I suppose you could argue that this is all part of the plan: dog whistles to New York banksters paralyze more substantial support to Ukraine while making Obama look weak and vacillating to everybody else. But if Russia was that smart, they wouldn't have lost Ukraine to begin with.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Asians and AA

Via Steve, Asian state senators in California beat back affirmative action:

To get on the ballot, the amendment needed the support of the Legislature. Among those voting yes in January were Sens. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). But after complaints from "thousands of people," those senators sent a letter to Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) this month asking him to postpone action. "As lifelong advocates for the Asian American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children," they wrote.

Obviously, I am opposed to affirmative action. Without endorsing any specific set of "meritocratic" criteria, racial affirmative action is almost certainly inefficient, lacks transparency in its implementation, and its costs have heretofore been borne predominantly by white gentiles. But as the UC admissions data make clear, there aren't enough of those left in the UC system to be displaced by the desired number of underperforming Hispanics. Asian numbers will have to fall.

But while I should be grateful for their opposition to affirmative action, the straightforward ethnic self-interest on which California's Asian politicians grounded that opposition reinforces the point I made about Asian immigration: how is increasing the numbers of ethnocentric minorities in America in the interest of my children and their future?

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Who's Side?

Via Ross, Robert Kagan:

A majority of Americans . . . may want what Obama so far has been giving them. But they’re not proud of it, and they’re not grateful to him for giving them what they want.

… To follow a leader to triumph inspires loyalty, gratitude and affection. Following a leader in retreat inspires no such emotions.

. . . vs. Daniel Larison:

Obama may be closer to the public’s preferences than his hawkish critics are, but on multiple issues he has still been far more hawkish or assertive than the public wants.

Ross opines:

[R]ather than trying to read the public’s response in ideological terms, maybe it’s more reasonable to look at what [Syria and Snowden] had in common: They both made the White House look incompetent.

There is some truth in all three of these analyses, and I will offer a fourth. Larison is correct that our experience in Afghanistan and Iraq has dampened our foreign adventurism, but it is too much to hope that it has extinguished it; that, unfortunately, will require much more than a couple of grinding, dead-end conflicts. Nothing short of a WWII-level defeat as Germany and Japan suffered it would fundamentally alter the American character, a character with an interventionist enthusiasm going back through both world wars and the Spanish American War to the Civil War. So Kagan is in that sense correct: The public may choose an isolationist turn, but few will love it.

Which begs the question: are we actually getting isolationism? Or just impotent failure. In this sense Ross is correct: Americans hate failure, and love victory. (I suspect that Americans are not alone in this sentiment.) But Ross misses what makes the Obama administration's foreign policy so appalling to isolationists and interventionists alike: it isn't so much that he has objectively failed (although that may be true), it's that it he has staked so much rhetorical ground that he hasn't delivered.

Let me reach for an analogy. As my readers are aware, the Speakership of John Boehner is almost universally reviled across the political spectrum; it likely survives only because the revilers have different visions of what we want to replace it. Speaking for myself and many members of the TEA party / alt-right / conservative insurgency, the central component of our Boehner-bashing is his continual flirtation with amnesty for illegal aliens.
Now, objectively, a Boehner defender (or rather, a hypothetical Boehner defender, since I haven't actually read an actual Boehner defender) might point out that the fact amnesty is not already law can be credited to Boehner. This has the benefit of being true insofar as there are sufficient number of Republican quislings to give the Democrats sufficient votes to pass amnesty in an up-or-down vote, a vote that Boehner has personally prevented. Certainly, this is the perspective of amnesty advocates who blame Boehner for its thus-far failure. And yet . . . Boehner's periodic professions of fealty to the idea of amnesty, while doing nothing for his standing among amnesty supporters, robs him of any credit from those of who are afraid of what he might evenutally do.

A similar dynamic is at work on perceptions of Obama's foreign policy. Yes, he ultimately didn't bomb Syria, but his rhetoric last summer was premised on the idea that intervention would be a worthwhile enterprise, and in the context of the recent thrust of our policy it certainly lent credence to the expectation (and fear) that intervention would be forthcoming. And it's precisely that uncertainty created by the disjunction between rhetoric and action that earns him contempt across the board. If you're Kagan, he's a coward. If you're Larison, he's an imperialist, however temporarily frustrated. If you're Douthat, he's a failure.

I should acknowledge here that I don't have access to all the information that either Boehner or Obama has. Boehner may know or believe that the amnesty feignts are necessary to preserve that fraction of Wall Street money that flows to Republican campaigns. Obama may know or believe that his bluffs are necessary to make the Syrians behave better. But the public wants to know: what side are you on? We isolationists want a president who says, "We wish the people of Syria (and Ukraine, and Libya, and Egypt, and Kosovo) well, and will pursue peaceful resolutions to all conflicts diplomatically, but otherwise don't involve ourselves in the civil wars of places where our interest and influence are limited." But we never get that. We get thundering statements about how this or that foreign conduct is "unacceptable", and always seem at the brink of another grinding, dead-end conflict.