Category Archives: Popular Culture

Bump Stocks

They’re not worth banning, but no one really cares about them that much:

Bump stocks, says Mr. Valone, “are an amusement, because they don’t under normal circumstances turn an AR-15 or another rifle into a killing machine, because you can’t hit anything with it. Only when you are presented 400 yards away with a field of uninterrupted humanity would something like that even be effective.”

Hard cases make for bad law.

Writing The Future

Over at The Weekly Standard, I remember Jerry Pournelle:

…he had an outsized influence on U.S. space and defense policy. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, he and others would gather at Niven’s home in Tarzana, California, to hammer out policy recommendations. These meetings evolved into something more formal, the Citizens’ Advisory Council on National Space Policy, which Pournelle chaired. In addition to several science fiction authors, the group included Buzz Aldrin and a handful of other astronauts, retired military officers like Army General Danny Graham, and several figures from the aerospace industry. (I was too junior to be invited, but my then-boss at the Aerospace Corporation participated.) Congressman Newt Gingrich was involved, too. The group recommended to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger the commencement of a missile-defense program, a proposal that helped inspire President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983. To the extent that the prospect of American missile-defense technology hastened the end of the Cold War—by making it plain to Soviet leaders that mutually assured destruction would no longer be mutual—Pournelle can be said to have played a small but not insignificant part in nudging the world toward freedom.

RTWT, despite the fact that I wrote it.

Trump And The NFL

The politicization of everything. When the personal becomes political, when you can’t watch sportsball without politics being interjected, you are well down the road of totalitarianism. I have a crazy idea: I don’t have to choose sides. The protesting players are terrible, and Trump is terrible.

One other point: I see a lot of nonsense on Twitter and in other places that they are just “standing up for their First Amendment rights.” I find this kind of ignorance infuriating. As I tweeted repeatedly over the weekend, this has absolutely nothing to do with the First Amendment, or the Constitution at all. The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law.” Congress has made no law. The fact that Trump was Trump doesn’t change that, even though a president who understands the role of the president wouldn’t have stuck his oar in.

They have a right to protest, but they don’t have a right to make millions throwing and catching footballs. The NFL has a right to fine them, and owners have a right to can them. Freedom of expression doesn’t mean freedom from consequences for it. I’ve personally paid a heavy financial price for expressing my opinions publicly, in that I’ve essentially been blackballed by the main cost-plus space industry. I accept that as the price I have to pay for protesting the continuous waste of taxpayer funds and the continuing crippling of our space capabilities. I have no sympathy for second-rate washed-up spoiled children like Colin Kaepernick and his ilk. But I’m sure that I’ll be called a racist for that.

[Noon update]

[Update a few minutes later]

In Trump versus the NFL, we’re all losers:

Everything about the political dynamic suggests that we could be heading toward an escalation where the NFL protests now become more broadly about Trump. And, as I said up top, there’s no obvious off-ramp here. If you’re a player kneeling because the justice system is screwed up, when do you stop kneeling? Because it’s going to be screwed up for a long time. And if you’re kneeling because Trump is president, that’s got a ways to go, too.

In a perfect world, a presidential response would be something like:

The players can do what they like. We should all want the justice system to work as well as possible. We should understand that it will never be perfect, but will not wave away its failings as inconsequential. We’re all God’s children and I invite you to consider that standing during our national anthem is a symbol of how we remain united in pursuit of ever-greater liberty.

But Trump doesn’t do presidential, at least not often, and never off the cuff.

[Tuesday-morning update]

Red Team, Blue Team? Start your own team:

I’m not on the Blue Team. I’m not on the Red Team. I’m on my team.

Occasionally, I’ll exploit the Reds or Blues to advance my aims in, well, making America great again. But I refuse to surrender my individuality to be an extra in someone else’s movie. As the decades of DC failure have shown us time and again, none of these politicians consider themselves to be on my team. I’m just returning the favor.

Republican leaders will like me if I vote for them. Celebrities will like me if I buy tickets. But neither views me as an equal, just a pawn from which they extract money and power. Those days are long gone.

I look at it this way, in sports and in life: When I see the two teams battling on a football field, I’m not going to passively cheer them from the stands. Instead, I’ll head over to the basketball court to see if I can start my own game. And, to be honest, once the hoops scene gets too crowded, I’ll walk down to the baseball field and try starting a game there.

Politicians are just temp employees we hire to do our bidding. If they suck, we fire them. They aren’t gods we bow to or team owners issuing orders. We’re Americans, dammit.

Celebrities are court jesters we pay to amuse us. When they get too mouthy, we kick them out of the dining hall. That’s the beauty of capitalism.

So, if any of our so-called elites want me to join their team, no thanks. I simply have better things to do.

So do I. Yes, I blew up in comments last night. And I’ll happily do it again any time someone demands that I have to blindly support an anal orifice, whether it’s the one in the White House, or the rich BLM knee takers on the football fields.

Trump’s Art Of The Deal

Thoughts from Jonah Goldberg, with which I completely agree:

I am coming around to the position that the vast bulk of punditry in defense of Donald Trump is little different from hepatoscopy, chiromancy, tasseography, and other “sciences” that imbue essentially random phenomena with deep and prophetic significance (this is not to say that orbistry, the practice of explaining everything weird in this crazy world, is not 100 percent correct).

Let’s just look at the past week. On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to “immediately terminate” the DACA program if elected. In June, he flipped and said it would stay in place. Going into this week, the White House signaled that it would get rid of the program. On Tuesday, Trump’s attorney general came out and declared that the program was unconstitutional. And, in a move I praised, Trump said that he would give the task of dealing with the issue to Congress. But, after watching negative TV coverage and bristling at Barack Obama’s criticism, Trump flopped. In a tweet, Trump suggested he wants Congress to legalize the program, not get rid of it. And if Congress failed, he might have to “revisit” the issue, implying that Trump might use the same unconstitutional measures Obama used.

Now, in fairness to Trump, he’s always been torn on the issue, and rightly so. Deporting the “Dreamers” is a terrible idea. But the position of most immigration hawks has always been that we should trade some form of amnesty in exchange for serious border-security measures and/or implementation of E-verify or similar steps.

So, let’s consider instead the other big news this week. President Trump threw Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and the House Freedom Caucus under the bus to cut a deal with “Chuck and Nancy” on a short-term extension of the debt ceiling. Wait, scratch that. He didn’t “cut a deal” with the Democrats, he simply took their first offer in exchange for . . . nothing. He took a “deal” to get Harvey relief passed despite the fact that Harvey relief would have passed anyway. This was not The Art of the Deal. It was — to borrow a phrase from Seth Mandel — The Art of the Kneel.

Trump kicked the can to December, when his leverage will be weaker, apparently in a glandular act of spite against McConnell and Ryan. John Boehner was hounded out of office by tea-party types for even considering cutting far better debt-ceiling deals with Barack Obama. In both of these cases, the response from legions of Trumpers was rapturous approval of his genius and/or his willingness to punish McConnell and Ryan.

It’s almost as though his vaunted ability to do deals is highly overrated.

Also, read on for a devastating critique of Rachel Maddow’s misleading history of the Wilson administration.