Mimsy Were the Borogoves

For the wisdom of the wise are the criterion of your madness.

The institutional forgetfulness of the press—Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

A killer in Texas murdered at least 26 church-goers, and was stopped from killing more only because a bystander was armed with an AR-15. Before we even knew how the killer acquired his weapon or his victims, the left was already trying to disarm the Good Samaritan.

After California’s San Bernardino terrorist attack, I wrote a post asking, what is the left’s real goal when criminals ignore the law and the left asks for more restrictions against non-criminals? The accompanying meme image was gallows humor at best, but given the left’s response to the Sutherland Springs murders it sounds prophetic.

The church shooter disobeyed the law by purchasing the gun. He disobeyed the law against murder. He could have been stopped by the government1 but the nature of government is to be more effective against the law-abiding than against criminals. He was finally stopped by a bystander who legally owned an AR-15. The left’s solution? Ban the bystander’s firearm. That, they say, will solve the problem.

What the hell problem are they trying to solve?

After the Las Vegas shooting, I quoted Chesterton about utopians assuming the greatest difficulty—that criminals break the law, in this case—as fixed, and then working toward pointless solutions that don’t address that greatest difficulty. They’re doing the same thing now. Laws can only affect the law-abiding. Gun control would only have helped the killer continue his spree, by disarming the bystander who stopped him.

This is obvious from the evidence, and yet they keep trying to push solutions that haven’t worked in the past and objectively would not work now.

Was Weinstein treated better than Spacey because his accusers were women?—Tuesday, November 7th, 2017
Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey

“Hey, I’ve got something to show you.”

I recently saw this complaint about how the accusations against Kevin Spacey were handled vs. the accusations against Harvey Weinstein:

Interesting how one man accuses Kevin Spacey and immediately everyone believes him, and takes KS’s TV show away, and decries what a terrible asshole he is—and all of that happens in a DAY

Meanwhile dozens of women had to accuse Cosby or Weinstein over the course of decades before anyone took notice

And dozens of women have accused Trump and he’s the GD MFing president

WHAT IF WE BELIEVED WOMEN LIKE THAT, EH?

This is making an unwarranted assumption: the writer is assuming that Kevin Spacey has not been accused before and has not had those accusations covered up and/or ignored just as the accusations against Weinstein were. This assumption is wrong. Just as the Weinstein deluge came only after one accusation finally made it through Hollywood’s protective shield, the same is happening to Spacey. Kevin Spacey has been at the center of rumors for years, just as Weinstein was; possibly even worse rumors than Weinstein, involving underage orgy after-parties. The history of accusations against Spacey is very similar to the history of accusations against Weinstein, but with men instead of women and sex parties instead of workplace harassment. The culture of deception is the same one that protected Weinstein.

The first I heard Spacey’s name in connection with sexual harassment was back in 2014 when Bryan Singer was accused—by a man—of sexual harassment. That accusation hasn’t affected Singer’s standing in Hollywood either, at least not over the long term.

National Sandwich Day: Whole Wheat Sesame Bread—Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Today might be Hallowe’en, but this Friday, National Sandwich Day is again upon us. So to counter the gooey candies get ready for a fresh sandwich on by making this hearty bread.

For anyone who was in Ithaca, New York in the eighties, one cookbook was on almost every shelf: Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. The Moosewood Restaurant was a bit too expensive to be a regular habit for me at the time, but it was definitely an interesting place.

The sesame-lemon bread in Broccoli Forest is also interesting, not least of which because I could pretty much never make it come out. But then, I pretty much couldn’t make any bread recipe come out consistently well until I got a bread machine.

Still, when I tried to make this one in the bread machine, it turned out almost as bad as if I made it by hand. Particularly, when I compared it to some other recipes, the liquid content seems awfully low. So I experimented a bit, and came up with this variation that works in my bread machine and is perfect for toast and for sandwiches.

Toasted sesame seeds

If you have a toaster oven, it is the perfect place to toast sesame seeds. It will take only a minute or so. Err on the side of undertoasting, not overtoasting.

The order of ingredients here isn’t just the standard liquids-first that bread machines require. Most importantly, measure the one tablespoon of oil first so that the three tablespoons of honey will easily slip from the spoon. And grind the seeds dry. Otherwise, they will stick to the sides of whatever you’re using to grind them; once they are ground, add the oil.1

The total sesame seeds in this recipe is a half cup: a sixth plus a third equals a half. So if you are starting with untoasted sesame seeds, you can toast half a cup all at once, and then remove a sixth to grind and pour the rest into the bread machine at the appropriate time.

How do we keep this from happening again?—Friday, October 6th, 2017

Imagine this: you’re a police chief or an FBI district chief, and you get a notice from the automated warning system: a man who has twice been investigated because he threatened a terrorist attack has just bought a couple of firearms.

Do you investigate? Of course you do. And when you investigate, you find out that he also tried to buy body armor.

There is no question that you will act immediately to stop this terrorist attack before it happens.

This is the way that the Pulse nightclub attack should have been stopped. In the immediate aftermath, the left tried to turn the attack into a call for more gun control, but when the facts came out it turned out the terrorist would not have been affected by more gun control. He didn’t want to commit a gun crime. He wanted to kill people at a gay bar.

But also when the facts came out, we discovered that law enforcement should have been warned about him ahead of time. The terrorist had twice been investigated for threatening terrorism. The investigation came up inconclusive, with, according to the authorities, not enough evidence to put him in jail or even put him on the no-fly list. But it certainly seemed that there was enough to keep him on the lesser watch list that notifies law enforcement whenever there’s further suspicious activity.

Unfortunately, he was removed from that list.1 So law enforcement was never notified. Conservatives suggested fixing that; the NRA suggested fixing that; the people who had been calling for more gun control moved on to something else. If this has been fixed, I’m unaware of it; FBI Director Comey publicly stated that he didn’t think anything needed to be fixed, once it came out that it was the FBI that had removed the terrorist from the notification list.

The same is true of the Charleston church murderer last December. The law already should have kept him from buying his gun and should have notified law enforcement that he tried, because he had a previous felony narcotics charge against him. But laws to keep people with a record from buying guns don’t work if the records themselves aren’t appropriately handled. There was an obvious fix that would have stopped that shooting, and it did not involve new gun bans. But, again, if it’s been implemented, I’m not aware of it, although at least this time Comey didn’t act as though they’d done nothing wrong.

Does Hurricane Harvey support socialism in Texas?—Wednesday, August 30th, 2017
Hurricane Harvey socialism

Just before midnight on Sunday, while Hurricane Harvey was still raging through Texas and Louisiana, an acquaintance posted this on Facebook:

Everyone OK with using socialism to help clean up Harvey, or should we let the free market take care of it? Asking for a friend.

This is the essence of socialism: a protection racket on behalf of national-level socialist policies. Government takes resources from Peter and from Paul. Paul undergoes a disaster. The left asks, during a disaster, would Paul rather rely on his own resources and on whatever Peter can offer, or on the government? They ask this knowing that the government already has both Paul’s resources and Peter’s. The question is corrupt on its face. It reveals socialism as, literally, mafia-style government.

The non-corrupt formulation would be, would you rather we gave you and Peter all of your resources back, and let you keep them all in the future, and rely on voluntary assistance during this disaster? Or would you prefer that we provide assistance using whatever is left after we pay all the bureaucrats managing your assistance, after we buy things you don’t need because we don’t know your needs as well as you do, after we ignore corruption because it isn’t our money, after all, after we tell Peter to go away because he doesn’t have the right permits?

The free market is people working together without force. As a Texan1, I think it’d be a great idea to let Texans and anyone else who wants to provide assistance freely opt out of the federal taxes that pay for what the left is here calling socialism. Charity at the point of a gun is not charity. It is corruption to take taxes from people at the threat of prison and call it charity.

The Ultimate Government Accountability Reform—Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
California Proposition 8 county results

Which parts of California really agree with secession.

Californians want one. Texans think they can get one at any time, but would prefer California go first. Glenn Reynolds writes that only losers want one.

I think it would make the ultimate accountability reform.

What I’m talking about is state-level secession. It should be very difficult to secede, and it should require a supermajority vote of the state’s citizens, but having a clear, reasonable process in place for secession would make for the ultimate heads-up not just to politicians but to voters in the rest of the country that the population of entire state thinks the national government is wronging them, and badly.

This is not something that’s going to happen now. California isn’t going to leave over Trump. California needs the possibility that the federal government will bail them out in order to keep getting loans to pay off their spending. The California secession referendum could hit 100% and the California courts will still find a way to keep it from happening. And Texas doesn’t want to leave—we still think the constitution can work, if we give it a chance.

But having a clear and reasonable secession process in place would also elevate the discussion of why the people of a state want to secede, and that would, in turn, influence the behavior of federal politicians to the better. President Trump will tell you this: when partners in an enterprise have the option of leaving the enterprise, the rest of the partners have an incentive to please the disappointed parties.

To deal, in other words.

I suggest a constitutional amendment requiring something along the lines of:

  1. A two-thirds supermajority of the state’s legislature, signed by the governor.
  2. A waiting period of six to twelve months, followed by:
  3. A two-thirds supermajority referendum.

Step one will require that the reasons for secession be part of the state’s regular election process. The state legislature can start the process on their own, or they might add additional requirements, such as an initial referendum to gauge the will of the voters.

Step two will give the state and the national government an opportunity to both fix their differences, and/or to decide on the nature of the break.

Step three will ensure that the vast majority of the state’s voters desire a break with the national government. You want a supermajority so that next year the majority still agrees.

A direct line to the Charlottesville riots… from 1938—Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The correct response to the Charlottesville riots is to arrest the perpetrators, give them a fair trial, and put the guilty in jail.

It is the same as the correct response to the violent rioters in cities across the United States since last year’s election, and the violent rioters who “protest” when a speaker the left disagrees with is invited to speak at a college.

Police have literally been asked to stand down in some cases and let the rioters attack and destroy, as in Baltimore last year.

That we haven’t followed the correct response in those cases is why we have the Charlottesville riots.1 There is a direct line from the previous riots to this one. It runs from Seattle through Tucson, Dallas, and through every other violent left-wing fascist rally since the election last year. The direct line is the unwillingness of the authorities to arrest, charge, and imprison violent thugs rather than just make token statements and maybe arrest a handful.

Leftist “protestors” have been burning, stoning, beating people up, and even killing police officers for almost a year. The press hasn’t tied these rioters to the violent rhetoric of leftist politicians; they’ve gone out of their way to exonerate the actual rioters. So take it with a grain of salt that supposedly-right violence2 now has “a direct line to the president”.

I have often said that we shouldn’t have laws we aren’t willing to enforce; conversely, we should enforce the laws we have unless we are willing to repeal them. I can see no reason to repeal the laws against assault, arson, and murder.

When violent thugs see that they can get away with violence by coloring it as protest, it’s no surprise that you get more violent riots.

Community health acts to improve Obamacare—Wednesday, August 9th, 2017
Parkview Hospital Emergency

For years, Republicans have campaigned on one thing: the insane damage that the Unaffordable Care Act is causing to health care. The insane prices that people who don’t get their coverage from employers have to pay for health coverage, due to Obamacare.

And they failed to pass reform, partly because they tried to pass a huge complicated mess that did not state clearly what the benefits were. Politicians were able to hide behind platitudes, ignoring the real issue: the ACA has vastly increased the cost of health coverage, and vastly reduced the quality.

Even Democrats in congress recognize just how expensive ACA plans have become, and freak out when it looks like they might have to follow the same rules we do when paying for it. They’re also now talking about bipartisan ways of fixing the mess that Obamacare created.

Here’s my suggestion: one page bills that clearly state the benefit of that particular provision. Make it very clear what the anti-reformers are voting against, and make it very easy for their opponents to hand out the exact text of what was voted against and say, this is what they were voting against. This isn’t a summary, this is literally the bill that they refused to pass.

“All it does is let you have the same benefits businesses do, all it does is give you choice, all it does is bring innovation, and my opponent refused to let you have that opportunity. Here, you can read the bill yourself. Yes, the actual bill.”

The personal health savings parity and portability act

The main reason that health coverage is not portable is that employer-provided coverage gets tax benefits that private coverage does not. When your employer docks your pay to pay for your health coverage, that comes out before taxes. When you pay for coverage out of pocket, it comes after taxes. That makes a big difference, big enough that it isn’t worth it for you to have portable coverage.1

This system is crazy. If you got the same tax break on coverage you want that you get on coverage your employer chooses for you, you might be more inclined to carry your custom coverage from job to job. I know very well I would have. I looked into it, but it made no economic sense due to the insane privileging of employers docking my pay to choose coverage for me.

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