In Flanders Fields

Poppy Fields

It’s hard to believe that in two years, it will have been a full century since the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the armistice was signed, silencing finally the guns and ending the Great War. Almost a century ago, my paternal grandfather, a recent immigrant from what is now Poland, was sent back to Europe to fight in it. Unfortunately, the war’s end only planted the seeds for another worse one, and a little over two decades later, his only child, my father, at the age of eighteen, flew in a B-25 Mitchell bomber to Italy via Ascension Island to man a radio and waist gun in it.

No one who fought in the first one is any longer with us, and the ranks of those who fought in the second one are rapidly diminishing, as it too passes out of living memory. I didn’t serve, but if I had, I’d have wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force (my prescription for eyeglasses in the third grade put an end to that). But I remain grateful to all who have.

I hope that one of Trump’s highest priorities is to fix the VA system, the lack of addressing which is one of the many things for which Barack Obama would be ashamed, if he had any shame. And if you want to see how a single-payer government healthcare system would work, just ask a vet.

[Update a while later]

The Washington Examiner agrees with me on the latter point:

Now that the long, bitter 2016 election is over, Americans are free to stop thinking about the VA scandal as a partisan issue. It’s a new day, and partisans need not become defensive about the agency’s disgraceful treatment and broken promises.

Vets will now turn to President-elect Trump with their concerns. He won many of their votes because he was willing to shine a light on the problem, rather than dismiss it, as his opponent did, as “not widespread.”

“The VA is, really you could say is almost a corrupt enterprise,” Trump declared at one point. At another: “Our vets, our most cherished people, thousands of people are dying waiting on line to see a doctor.” His simple promise: “We are going to make it efficient and good.”

Let’s hope he does. Bold words will not be enough. We sincerely hope Trump follows through ruthlessly on this promise. If so, he will have done the nation a true and necessary service, and he will deserve the gratitude even of the tens of millions who voted against him.

We’ll see.

Orion

The slow, inevitable death begins:

Entering into the transition period between presidents, NASA’s administrator, Charles Bolden, has encouraged the next White House administration to continue support for Orion and the Space Launch System rocket, which account for more than $3 billion annually. Congress, too, has expressed a strong interest in continuing work on these vehicles.

However one source told Ars that it may become necessary to choose either the Orion capsule or NASA rocket in the coming years as the space agency looks to pare back its budget, and this might necessitate going to a less expensive, more privately developed vehicle. “Look,” this source said, “if you have to cancel a program, this is a responsible way of lining up a replacement.”

It will be a bloody political battle, but ultimately, SLS won’t be far behind.

Political Ignorance

It’s time to start taking it seriously:

You don’t have to be a libertarian skeptic about government to worry about political ignorance. Indeed, the greater the role you want democratic government to play in society, the more you have reason to worry about the quality of voter decision-making. The more powerful the state is, the greater the harm it can cause if ignorant voters entrust that power to the wrong hands. Here too, the rise of Trump is a warning we should take seriously. He is not the first or (most likely) the last demagogue of his kind.

I have long argued that we can best alleviate the dangers of political ignorance by limiting and decentralizing the power of government, and enabling people to make more decisions by “voting with their feet” rather than at the ballot box. Foot voters deciding where they want to live or making choices in the private sector have much stronger incentives to become well-informed than ballot box voters do. There is much we can do to enhance opportunities for foot voting, particularly among the poor and disadvantaged. Limiting and decentralizing government power could also reduce the enormous scope and complexity of the modern state, which make it virtually impossible for voters to keep track of more than a small fraction of its activities.

But I am open to considering a variety of other possible strategies for addressing the problem, including voter education initiatives, and “sortition,” directly incentivizing citizens to increase their knowledge, among others. Perhaps the best approach to is a combination of different measures, not relying on some one silver bullet.

A large part of the problem is the public-education system (and academia), which is doing a terrible job of explaining civics (and history), because the Left finds an ignorant populace not only convenient, but essential.

Post-Election Thoughts

In no particular order:

1) Despite his “approval rating,” this was an utter repudiation of the last eight years (and to a lesser degree, the previous eight years under Bush). Trump is Obama’s “legacy.”

2) I hope, and even expect, that Giuliani will be the next AG. He will take the handcuffs off the FBI, and finally get to the bottom of all of the Obama lawlessness as well as hers. In the spirit of reconciliation, Trump should offer her a pardon, on condition they shut down the foundation, and she exit our lives.

3) There will obviously be no post-election confirmation of Garland. Ginsburg and Breyer will probably be rethinking their retirement plans.

4) I assume that House Republicans have a repeal and replace plan to give to Trump in January.

5) Expect a flurry of executive orders undoing much of Obama’s lawlessness in the first week.

More anon.

[Update a few minutes later]

Will “liberals” finally discover the appeal of limited government?

[Update a few minutes later]

Predictably, embittered Democrats engage in racist outbursts. Well, this is nothing new; they have historically been the party of racism.

[Update a couple minutes later]

[Update a couple more minutes later]

Would’t accepting a last-minute pardon from Obama be a tacit admission that someone did something wrong? That’s why Nixon didn’t necessarily want one.

[Update a while later]

It occurs to me that now that the crime family has no favors to offer, the donations to the Clinton Crime Foundation will start to, or immediately dry up.

[Late-morning update]

Yes, a large part of Trump’s appeal is a backlash against the fascism of political correctness.

Off The Air

For those wondering, I flew from LA to Dallas on Thursday, and drove down to Austin, to attend the New Worlds Conference. Patricia flew in to Austin on Saturday, and we’re spending a couple days in Texas Hill Country. I’m sitting in a little house we rented in Comfort, overlooking a creek and deer in a natural meadow across it. A couple of them came up to the window last night and looked in. Between funerals and family visits, and house renovation, it’s the first real vacation we’ve had in a while.

I should be back in the saddle (so to speak) on Wednesday, surveying the aftermath of the electoral disaster to come (regardless of the outcome).

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!