January 17th, 2018

Stormy Daniels told tales of Trump

Not only is Trump cognitively challenged and ill and old and crazy, but he had an affair with a porn star (“Stormy Daniels”) eleven years ago.

Hey, why not?

Except that maybe he didn’t. Just like maybe he’s not cognitively challenged or crazy or ill—and the “old” part is a matter of which side of 70 the viewer may be on.


The White House, Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and Daniels have all denied that she was paid off for her silence or that the sex ever happened. In a January 10 statement released by Cohen on her behalf, Daniels said that any allegations that she and Trump had a sexual relationship were “completely false.”

That’s now. Back then (“then” being 2011, about five years after the alleged affair happened) Daniels sang a different tune. Is she telling the truth now, or was she then?

The more important question being, “At this point, does anyone care?”

Is there anyone in America who doesn’t know that Trump has a history of infidelity? Whether he was unfaithful to Melania or just his previous wives, and with whom (especially when a private citizen, as in 2006), who would be surprised to hear it was true? His history of infidelity was factored in by Americans when they voted for him.

On the other hand, according to what I’m reading about what Daniels said back then in her interview, if you take it as true (although there’s no particular reason to), Trump comes out smelling like a rose compared to poor Aziz Ansari:

She described the sex as “textbook generic.”

In the print version of the magazine, Daniels expanded further, describing the sex as “nothing crazy. It was one position, what you would expect someone his age to do.”

Once again, Trump the billionaire turns out to represent middle America!

More here:

A source tells The Daily Beast that the full, unedited interview that will run later this week is 5,500 words of “cray.” Daniels didn’t leave much out in describing the affair, which involved a few more encounters in the months following their first tryst in Tahoe.

According to the source, the transcript contains details of “[w]hat he’s like in bed, pillow talk, she talks about what he’s like down there…”

What would really drive the left crazy is if Trump’s brags about “down there” turn out to be true or even somewhat true. And they couldn’t really challenge Daniels on the subject, because women always tell the truth, right? Right? What’s more, as a porn star she’s somewhat of an expert on the matter of “down there.”

Various media outlets had declined to run the story earlier. That’s how shaky it must be. For example, “The Daily Beast was also chasing the story last fall, but, like several other outlets, was unable to lock it down.”

Daniels is a Republican, by the way.

January 17th, 2018

Comment editing

Hey folks, for all of you (including Geoffrey Britain, who made the request today) who’ve been wanting the ability to edit your comments, I just installed a plug-in that lets you do it for five minutes after the comment is first posted. Enjoy! Now, no more excuses for typos 🙂 .

[ADDENDUM: I’m informed by GB that the corrected text doesn’t appear on the blog immediately, but it does show up after a short while.]

January 17th, 2018

If you like schadenfreud , you’ll love this

Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power talk about their experiences on election night, when they had assembled a large group of other liberals and Obama officials to watch the returns and joyously celebrate Hillary Clinton’s election to the presidency. To top it all off, the event was recorded, and it seems that this documentary will someday be available to the public (I’m not completely sure about that last part—but it was filmed by HBO, and so my guess is that it will be aired).

I predict that more conservatives will want to see it than Democrats, just to savor the deliciouds schadenfreude.

But strangely enough, I’m more into identifying with Rhodes and Power. No, not with their politics, but with their stunned disbelief. If you’d had a camera on me that night, it would have recorded a strange sight indeed. I don’t remember exactly—I was in a kind of fog of shock—but there was a lot of pacing around, shaking my head, startled exclamations that I couldn’t f-ing believe it, phone calls to various people, and staring at the TV in disbelief, all interspersed with a slowly dawning joy that Hillary Clinton would never be president, which balanced with my fear of the unknown with Trump.

So I can identify with a portion of what Ben Rhodes says here, strangely enough, although other parts are the opposite of my feelings that election night. I’ve bolded the places where he describes what I felt, too:

As people who know me know, probably to a fault, I am usually not without thoughts and words. But you know, I think—I kept trying—beginning to say something, and the film shows that basically I can’t speak, because anything I was going to say was just going to be kind of a lame rationalization.

And when, in reality, you know, sometimes things are just terrible. And I think that that two layers of feelings that I had after the election, one is just on a very personal level, you know, we just spent ten years—you’re watching the film, it’s like watching yourself run the 26-mile marathon, and to just feel—and President Obama used to describe it as we’re going to hand off the baton. And it’s like you could see someone reaching back to take the baton, and suddenly nobody is there.

Because, personally, you’re feeling like, ‘well, all these things I worked on, what’s going to happen to them?’ And this sense of, you know, you put all this time and effort and caring into different things that are now going to be threatened or attacked or undermined in some ways, it was powerful. But then, more broadly, I think, beyond just me personally was the sense of the unknown.

I mean, that’s why I didn’t have anything to say. Like, if Jeb Bush was elected president, or even Marco Rubio, you know, I wouldn’t have liked that, but I could have foreseen what was going to happen, and what that was going to look like.

What’s more, what Rhodes says about watching his work being undone is exactly and precisely what conservatives felt during the Obama era. Hey Ben, I feel your pain—actually, I felt your pain, and someday I may feel it again at the next election, depending on how it goes. I’m sure that people who actually worked on these things—for example, many of the military members who fought to secure Iraq or those who helped them—felt even worse than I did when they watched Obama give them away. The message is that what’s done can be undone.

One difference, of course, is that Democrats thought they not only had this one in the bag and that the baton would be handed off safely and easily to relay runner Hillary, but they thought they had established supreme dominance in the presidential electoral race and would never again be defeated by the upstart GOP, and that the least likely person in the world to accomplish that defeat would be Donald Trump. So their shock was doubled, tripled, quadrupled by their arrogance.

There are parts of the interview where Rhodes and Power seem to me to be sincerely self-deluded (as opposed to just spinning, which they’re also fully capable of) in their perception of what happened during the Obama administration and what has happened during Trump’s tenure so far in the international arena:

Well, I think that there’s something very, very different about President Obama investing in alliances, building a hyper-charged different kind of relationship with China and with India, and then drawing on that political capital to get them to do more in the international system, than holding our allies in contempt, ripping up international treaties, showing our word means nothing, and then demanding that people do what we say.

Or maybe the difference that when Obama “held our allies in contempt, ripped up international treaties, and showed our word meant nothing,” he didn’t “demand that people do what we say.” In fact, the “holding our allies in contempt and ripping up treaties” part was so commonplace for Obama that it received a name pretty early on in his presidency: the Obama doctrine.

And by the way, I’m curious: which allies does Trump hold in contempt? And which treaties has he ripped up?

See this. And the Paris climate agreement, which he did pull out of, was no treaty. Trump hasn’t even pulled out of the Iran deal yet, which also isn’t a treaty, and which was entered into by Obama without a majority in Congress approving.

January 17th, 2018

The new blog design is actually being worked on

Remember, many months ago, I mentioned I was trying to redesign the blog? At the same time, the person who had been helping me with that sort of thing for many years said he couldn’t do it any more. I tried hiring someone (or some group), but I either never heard back from people (maybe I was too small a job?), or what they offered for the money wasn’t all that much help. I still may have to fall back on that, but I’ve been trying to do it on my own.

That’s pretty funny, if you know how non-tech-savvy I ordinarily am. That said, because I’ve been blogging all these years I’ve been forced to learn far more than I knew before about the tech side of the internet and things like code. That doesn’t mean I know all that much, though, and when I look at some pages that are supposedly for beginners but don’t really begin at the beginning, my eyes start glazing over.

To top it all off, when you change what WordPress calls “themes,” although you can try out a new theme with a handy device they have that fits your existing blog to it, all changes you make are temporary unless you go live with it. I’ve spent many a less-than-ecstatic hour—many—learning how to use the system, trying out theme after theme, and almost all my work gets lost each time except for some code that I’ve saved elsewhere, such as the code for the Paypal button. It’s frustrating and exceptionally time-consuming, although educational.

There’s a way you can save your work, but only if you’re modifying a theme that you’ve already taken live on the blog. I don’t want to do that, because it’s so painfully slow for me, and the blog would lose some functionality in the meantime.

But I’m getting close, really really close. I’ve learned a lot. I believe I’ve chosen a theme that preserves much of the clean simple look and many of the functions of this theme, plus a few added ones. I’m also planning, as I said a while back, to de-emphasize the “neocon” part of the blog and have a slightly different name, although it will be recognizable as me. But the old URL will still direct people here, plus a new URL.

The point of all of this is to make it easier to view the blog on mobile devices and to (hopefully!) modernize it in such a way that it won’t be subject to glitches every time they update WordPress or for random reasons. The theme I have now is very antiquated and not “supported” anymore, as the saying goes.

So let me know once again if there’s any feature the blog doesn’t have that you’ve been hungering for. I asked that once before but it was a while ago. I don’t make any promises about whether I can or will implement the particular thing you ask, but I’ll take it all under consideration.

When I say I’m getting close, that doesn’t mean “tomorrow.” It doesn’t even mean “this week,” most likely. But in a couple of weeks I think it will happen.

January 16th, 2018

Trump must have gotten the answers through an earpiece

I’m sure that’s the explanation for this:

President Trump’s physician said Tuesday that the president received a perfect score on a cognitive test designed to screen for neurological impairment, which the military doctor said was evidence that Mr. Trump does not suffer from mental issues that prevent him from functioning in office.

“There’s no indication whatsoever that he has any cognitive issues,” Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy and the White House physician, told reporters on Tuesday. “I’ve found no reason whatsoever to think the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought processes.”

Dr. Jackson said that a cognitive test was not indicated for Mr. Trump when the president underwent his annual physical on Friday, but that he conducted one anyway because the president requested it after questions from critics about his mental abilities. He said Mr. Trump received a score of 30 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, a well-known test used by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and other hospitals.

The president’s doctor said Mr. Trump’s overall health was “excellent,”…

Or maybe Trump sent in a double to take the test. Or someone sent him the questions in advice?

There must be some explanation. There must.

January 16th, 2018

Earth pyramids

Ever hear of earth pyramids? I hadn’t.

I thought it was some sort of spoof when I first saw these photos. Maybe an old April Fools’ prank? But they are real:

At many places across South Tyrol, in northern Italy, one can see a peculiar geological formation called “earth pyramids”. They consist of tall cone-shaped pillars made of clay, with a boulder resting on top.

These unusual structures started forming from moraine clay soil left behind after the last Ice Age when the glaciers melted away. In dry condition the soil is hard as stone, but as soon as it rains, it turns into a soft muddy mass, starts sliding, and forms large slopes 10 to 15 meters steep. When the rainy season starts, these slopes erode away. But when there are rocks in the mud, the clay soil underneath these rocks stays protected from the rain. So, while the surrounding material is continually carried off with the rain, the protected pillars rise out of the ground to form majestic earth pyramids. It can take hundreds to thousands of years for these pyramids to form.

More here.

Why are these not exceptionally famous the world over? Well, somebody’s heard of them, because they have their own Trip Advisor page.

January 16th, 2018

Here’s my advice, Grace

“Grace” is not actually her name. But she’s the woman whose tell-all story of a bad date with comedian Aziz Ansari (nope, never heard of him before, but I sure have now) has gone viral.

I’m not at all sure I’d recommend that you read it, because it will probably enrage you and sadden you in equal measure, and it feels like a terrible invasion of privacy—Ansari’s privacy, that is. It is very graphic and very cruel, but I guess all celebrities are fair game now to the MeToo crowd.

The story exhibits the same problems that were apparent from early in the history of this movement: the strange lack of agency of women who think of themselves as strong and able to function in the world.

In other words: Dear Grace and others with similar tales, if you mean “no,” say it. And then act it out. Get up, get dressed, get going. Why so tongue-tied? Why expect a man to read your mind when you are sending the most mixed signals possible—going to his apartment on a first date, taking off your clothes, etc. etc. and so forth, and expecting him to understand that your “yes” means “no” and your “not this moment but maybe later” means “never”?

And while we’re on the subject—what on earth did you expect from this encounter? You didn’t know this guy, except his public persona in various roles. If you engage in casual sex with someone you don’t know, it just might not go very well.

Young women today are not all like Grace. I know plenty of them who are not. But something has gone horribly, horribly wrong with a lot of young women, some combination of feminism and leftism and the sexual revolution and hookup culture and widespread divorce and the self-esteem movement and trophies for everyone and—have I missed anything?

January 16th, 2018

Immigrants: where they come from, or who they are?

An assumption that goes with the story of s***holeGate is that what Trump was saying was “Let’s favor people from Norway over people from s***hole countries like Haiti and in Africa.” That makes him a racist and a mean one at that, in the eyes of the MSM and a great many people who read it.

I happened across the following interview with Tom Cotton. He was at that meeting, and he has a different impression about what was said. His answer goes to the actual issues involved (amazing, isn’t it?) rather than semantics: the question of whether Trump is judging people by national origin or by each person’s individual characteristics, beliefs, and skills, and which is a more desirable way to go about setting up an immigration policy. It went like this:

According to that, it was Durbin and Graham who wanted to continue the program of favoritism based on national origins, and Trump who wants to end it and substitute skills-based admission policies. This is congruent with Trump’s public utterances as well as being congruent with Durbin and Graham’s policy positions.

So what Trump may have actually said was something like this: Why would we want to favor people from certain countries, in particular from certain s***hole [or some other pejorative word] countries like Haiti? Hey, if you’re going to favor a country, why not Norway instead, a first-world country? (That’s what’s known as a rhetorical question). And then Trump might have continued with something like: It’s all the wrong way to go, favoring one country over another—as I’ve said repeatedly, we need a completely different, skills-based system.

And Durbin (and perhaps Graham) started salivating at the thought that he now could get some aides together and “brief” them (so that they could tell the press) on the fact that in the meeting, Trump had called some mostly-black nations “s***holes” and said we should favor Norwegians! Hey, what a racist moron that Trump is!

I think that’s probably very very close to what actually happened.

January 15th, 2018

Playing telephone: are we tired of s***holeGate yet?

I am sorely tired of it.

On the other hand, it raises so many fascinating issues that it’s hard to keep from mulling it over once again.

Fortunately, a lot of other people have done the legwork so I’ll link to them in a moment.

But first I want to emphasize a couple of things that I think have gotten lost in the shuffle. The first is that the original WaPo story rested on the word of “several” anonymous people (I later heard it was two, but I’m not sure of that) who were not at the meeting with Trump but were “briefed” on it later. What they told the WaPo was what they had been told by others about what Trump had said (since then there’s been a great deal of back-and-forth disagreement by people who were at the meeting about what may or may not have been said, but I’m talking about the original story).

To the best of my recollection, that didn’t used to be the standard for journalism. It’s basically a little game of political telephone. Perhaps the WaPo likes to play games of telephone (especially against the right and/or Trump). But personally, I don’t, and it doesn’t matter who is being quoted or misquoted, or what party that person might be from.

One of the activities that led to my political change was the fact that I could find people’s actual words online—the complete text of a speech, for example—and could come to my own conclusions about what that person had really said rather than to rely on what the MSM (or some other informant with a bone to pick) had told me the person had said. I was naive enough at the beginning to be surprised to learn that my favorite news outlets quite often twisted or in some way misrepresented the words of people they didn’t like. But long long ago that ceased surprising me.

So, what did Trump actually say about Haitians or Norwegians or the people of other unspecified failed countries in Africa? We don’t know, you don’t know, the WaPo doesn’t know. I can think of innocuous ways to interpret the reports and I can think of ways that make Trump look very bad. But I wouldn’t trust Dick Durbin or the WaPo or the anonymous telephone-game players—or President Trump, either—on the matter.

One reason is that people often lie to serve their own interests or what they think is in their party’s political interests. Another is that people often are very poor reporters on what they said or what another person said. I’ve noticed it in my private life. I noticed it when working with people. I’ve noticed it with friends. I’ve noticed it and noticed it and noticed it. It’s the reason I often wish I had an audiotape of various exchanges, in order to solve the argument. But most of the time we don’t.

Trump needs to know that from now on he should either not meet privately with political opponents or he should tape everything (I think the latter is by far the best solution, and apparently they’ve begun to do it with interviews with reporters—see this).

But why don’t most Americans know not to trust games of telephone from either side? Is it because people tend to believe what they want to believe?

For what it’s worth, here’s what the WaPo was told by their anonymous informants who didn’t hear it themselves:

Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday. The president, according to a White House official, also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt that they help the United States economically.

In addition, the president singled out Haiti, telling lawmakers that immigrants from that country must be left out of any deal, these people said.

The “deal,” by the way, was a reference to a deal that favors and encourages immigration from certain countries at the expense of other countries.

Not even Trump was talking about banning anyone, and he wasn’t talking about race. He was talking about economics and education—even according to those anonymous informants who are certainly not his fans. He was talking about whether we should favor and encourage more immigration from failed and depressed countries.

For the newest developments, here’s my roundup for today:

William Jacobson on why Durbin did what he did, and on Durbin’s history of lying.

More along those lines here.

Did Trump say “s***hole”?

And here, from the post I just linked, is one of the more bleakly humorous exchanges I’ve seen since this whole mess began:

A preface: all porn performers are described as “porn stars,” much as all models now seem to be supermodels, but [Jenna] Jameson really was a star. As such, she made a lot of money, got married and had a kid or two. And she turns out to be a conservative who is active on Twitter.

So: Sally Kohn, who I take it is a somebody on Twitter, tweeted this:

To which Ms. Jameson retorted:

By the way, the Salvadorans came here in 2001 because of earthquakes in the country, under a program labeled “temporary.” There was never any guarantee of staying, although:

“The past practice of allowing foreign nationals to remain in the United States long after an initial emergency in their home countries has ended has undermined the integrity of the program and essentially made the ‘temporary’ protected status a front operation for backdoor permanent immigration,” said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, which favors less immigration overall.

Hard to argue that this is exactly what’s happened. A “temporary” program is wink-wink temporary. What’s more, no one is being expelled at this point; the status doesn’t change until 2019. Also:

A senior administration official briefing reporters on the decision said it was based on the status of El Salvador’s recovery from the 2001 earthquakes. The country has received millions of dollars in aid and rebuilt schools, homes and hospitals, the official said.

In the past two years, the United States has repatriated 39,000 Salvadorans, showing the ability of El Salvador to absorb an influx, the official said.

The government of El Salvador said on Monday that it was glad the administration decided to at least leave the program in place until September 2019.

“El Salvador’s Foreign Ministry lobbied heavily for the interests of our fellow citizens,” the government said in a statement, adding that it would continue to search for alternatives and seek action by the U.S. Congress to protect the migrants.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce had urged the government to extend TPS protections for Salvadorans, Haitians and Hondurans, saying “the loss of employment authorization for these populations would adversely impact several key industries,” including “construction, food processing, hospitality, and home healthcare services.”

All Congress has to do is pass a bill to protect the Salvadorans and make their status permanent. It has a lot of time in which to do it.

January 15th, 2018

As I said, we’re in the very best of hands

I titled my previous post about the nuclear alert in Hawaii “Reassuring evidence that we’re in the best of hands.” Well, there’s more evidence [hat tip: commenter “Ann”]:

Around 8:05 a.m., the Hawaii emergency employee initiated the internal test, according to a timeline released by the state. From a drop-down menu on a computer program, he saw two options: “Test missile alert” and “Missile alert.” He was supposed to choose the former; as much of the world now knows, he chose the latter, an initiation of a real-life missile alert…

Part of what worsened the situation Saturday was that there was no system in place at the state emergency agency for correcting the error, [Hawaii Emergency Management Agency] spokesmansaid. The state agency had standing permission through FEMA to use civil warning systems to send out the missile alert — but not to send out a subsequent false alarm alert, he said.

FUBAR. FUBAR. If you don’t know what that means, you can look it up.

Who is writing this software? Who is approving it?

You know, when I go to some shlocky webpage by mistake and I want to leave, they almost always ask me “Do you really want to leave our wonderful site and miss all the great bargains here?” before they’ll release me. In other words, there’s at least a two-step process for getting out, and sometimes even more. And even at bona fide sites—for example, when I want to delete spam at Yahoo mail—it requires a two-step process in order to do it. They basically say something like, “Are you sure?”

I realize that with a nuclear alert, time is of the essence. But a delay of a second or two in alerting the whole state that they’re about to die seems like a small price to pay in order to make sure it doesn’t get announced in error. But somehow, that never occurred to anyone—or if it did occur, it was decided in favor of a simple one-step process subject to error.

And then—no way to inform the state’s citizens that it was a false alarm. If anyone has had any dire health consequences as a result of the prolonged terror the state’s residents and their loved ones had to endure, I bet there’ll be some lawsuits down the road.

How long did the scare last? Way too long: thirty-eight minutes.

Across Hawaii on Sunday, people spoke about gathering their families for what they thought would be their last moments, until the “false alarm” announcement went out…

Neil Abercrombie, the previous governor, whom Mr. Ige defeated in a Democratic primary in 2014, called the episode “a monumental example of failure of leadership — incredible.”

“It’s beyond incompetent,” he said. “It is stunning. It should have been rescinded instantly.”…

The Pacific Command first told Hawaii media that there was no approaching ballistic missile at 8:23 a.m. — about 13 minutes after Hawaii sent out the alert.

Of course, Trump is really to blame:

January 15th, 2018

On building walls

There are walls, and then there are walls.

Robert Frost wrote:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

Originally, I had thought to offer just an excerpt from the poem. But then I decided to put the whole thing up there because—as so often is the case with Frost—there’s so much food for thought in it. The speaker in “Mending Wall” is someone who represents the view that walls might not be a good thing to have. His neighbor represents the more conservative view, in the old-timey—not necessarily political—sense of “traditionalist.”

The two lines in the poem that made me think of it recently are these: “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/What I was walling in or walling out…” Indeed, that’s an important distinction that many people who are part of the “don’t love a wall” political contingent forget when it suits their purposes.

Now, I can’t say I always love a wall. But I’m New Englander enough to know that good fences ordinarily do make good neighbors—or, rather, they can help keep goodish neighbors from going bad.

Walls mark boundaries and help avoid disputes. Walls are also symbolic in terms of personal boundaries—in other words, “don’t get so close that I feel smothered by you; I require some privacy.” Neighbors are often so close physically that each can feel invaded by the other if they aren’t careful to respect personal boundaries as well as property ones.

Different areas of the country and the world have different standards and customs about this. In New England, we’re known for being a bit standoffish. That can be bad when you’re new in the neighborhood and expecting the welcome wagon. It can be good if you’re a bit reserved and like your privacy. But fences don’t keep people from being close if they want to be.

Which brings us, of course, to countries. The “walling in or walling out” distinction is all-important there, and often glossed over by the left. Berlin Wall, border wall with Mexico, Israel/Palestinian wall—all the same, all pernicious. The left would like you (or the US, or Israel) to be forced to have your boundaries overstepped, although at the same time they’re not above living in gated communities themselves.

The Berlin Wall was to keep people inside a country, not out. The purpose was to make the country itself—East Germany—a prison, and escape punishable by death. The purpose was to end liberty for its own citizens.

Building a border wall to keep people from another country out, on the other hand, is protective. One can argue with whether it’s necessary or not in any given case. But it is well within the rights of any country to build one, and it does not change the rights or restrict the liberty of its own citizens. The only thing it does is protect the country’s territory from people from an adjacent country who want to enter without permission of the host country. And for the most part, those people are also still free to visit that country and even to emigrate there if they follow the rules of the country they want to enter.

Seems pretty reasonable to me.

Such boundary walls are actually quite common around the world, as you can see, and there are myriad reasons for having them (scroll down at the link for the very long list). Is it only the US that’s not allowed to have a wall?

[NOTE: By the way, regarding whether an actual wall could be built along the entire border, I tackled that question in August of 2015.]

January 13th, 2018

Reassuring evidence that we’re in the best of hands


Reports of an alert about a missile threat to Hawaii ricocheted across social media Saturday and caused anxiety in the state. But authorities said the alert was false and sent as an error…


Well, I’m used to ignoring a great deal of what my computers tell me: Your phone is infected by a virus and unless you go here something terrible will happen etc. etc. etc…

But man, that must have been a scary thing to receive. It’s frightening even to think that it takes some error like this to correct such glaring flaws in the system:

Hawaii’s Governor David Ige, who said he was meeting with authorities to determine what caused the alert, said on remarks broadcast on CNN that an employee had pressed the wrong button. “This change in shift routine happens three times a day, seven days a week, 365 days out of the year. For the most part it occurs flawlessly. There was an error today and we will be investigating and changing procedure so that we can avoid this from ever happening again,” Ige said.

Seems to have been a local Hawaii thing. Gremlins?

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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