Monday Open Comments

Sign Posted at Fort Davis High School, Fort Davis, Texas

Bulldog is the pseudonym of a veteran contributor at the website, Maggie’s Farm.  He lives and works in New York City and is one of those rare species of conservatives in Manhattan.  Below are excerpts from his powerful broadside against the prevailing media fueled reaction to the shooting in Florida.

One more shooting.  One more chance for the Progressives to screech and whine about gun control.  I’m really tired of this cycle.  Progressives complain about the cycle, too, because they want action, and they want it now.  In 3 weeks they’ll be bored again, or outraged about something new such as the fact that Trump doesn’t have a dog and doesn’t seem to care for them.  Progressive try to make it seem like those of us who actually support freedom and the Constitution are uncaring, because we don’t do something other than the one thing they deride – “Thoughts and Prayers”.  I’ve noticed some are taking a new tack.  Not necessarily better.  Like every other event, they trot out the same emotions, same flawed statistics, bizarre comparisons to nations without cultures remotely similar to ours, and then one or two tricks.  Progressives are not old dogs.  They are young dogs and haven’t learned that new tricks aren’t necessarily smarter or better.

I wrote about mass shootings, and school shootings in particular, slightly over 5 years ago.  Have my views changed since then, and the presumed thousands of mass shootings that Progressives point out?  No.  Not in the least.  Does the fact this involved children change my views?  Nope.  Am I cold and heartless?  No.  I’m just rational.  Gun control won’t stop this.  People who want to kill will kill and they will use whatever method they can.  The Progressive argument is “with guns, you can kill MORE” and that’s just not proven to be true.  It’s an assumption based on incomplete data sets.  What is the real issue that needs to be discussed after a shooting and the outrage is building?


Right now, everyone feels so bad for the families of the victims they aren’t stopping to think about the potential impact of the policies they want to implement to stop these shootings.  Let’s ignore the fact that shootings are in decline, and run with the misguided Progressive belief that they are getting worse.  The reality is that stopping guns won’t stop killings, let alone mass killings.  These are disturbed people.  They will find a way to do what they want.  The proper question is related to how can we identify and stop these potential events prior to them happening? We can’t just toss threatening people in jail.  And we can’t use mental illness as a defining point for gun sales.  After all, we’ve seen several regimes use political affiliations as indicators of mental illness, and even in the US some prominent politicians, celebrities, and activists have made claims that Republicans, climate skeptics, Trump voters, and a host of other types of people are ‘mentally ill’, so you see how this can be a problem.  Any defining term about “mental illness” will have to have clear exclusions for political affiliation.

Thursday Open Comments

Charles Dickens’ unfettered joy at first arriving in Boston Harbor in 1842 reads like Ebenezer Scrooge’s awakening on Christmas morning. Biographer Peter Ackroyd reports that he flew up the steps of the Tremont House Hotel, sprang into the hall, and greeted a curious throng with a bright “Here we are!” He took to the streets that twinkling midnight in his shaggy fur coat, galloping over frozen snow, shouting out the names on shop signs, pulling bell-handles of doors as he passed—giddy with laughter—and even screamed with (one imagines) astonishment and delight at the sight of the old South Church. He had set at last upon the shores of “the Republic of my imagination.”

Americans returned the adoration,

He wrote his best friend, John Forster, that he didn’t know how to describe “the crowds that pour in and out the whole day; of the people that line the streets when I go out; of the cheering when I went to the theatre; of the copies of verse, letters of congratulations, welcomes of all kinds, balls, dinners, assemblies without end?” When Bostonians renamed their city “Boz-town,” New Yorkers determined to “outdollar . . . and outshine them.”

This was to be a very short romance,

American Notes for General Circulation, his scathing travelogue published on his return to England, did nothing to heal the rift. Dickens blasted America as a scam on a national scale. Instead of a democratic land of opportunity he described a land of opportunists—a nation of self-interested grubbers who cared only for politics and money—pretending at liberty and equality while condoning slavery, and a press “pimping and pandering for all degrees of vicious taste, and gorging with coined lies.” For good measure, he tossed in that nowhere else on the whole earth was there a nation of “so many intensified bores” entirely unable to laugh at themselves.

In addition to the travelogue, Dickens wrote a novel upon his return from the States and provoked an entire nation,

Americans hated them both. “We are all described as a filthy, gormandizing race,” raged an article in the Courier and Enquirer, calling Dickens a “low-bred scullion . . . who for more than half his life has lived in the stews of London.” The New York Herald called American Notes “The most trashy . . . most contemptible . . . the essence of balderdash reduced to the last drop of silliness and inanity.” Even Dickens’ friend, Thomas Carlyle, wrote that he “caused all Yankee-doodledom to blaze up like one universal soda bottle.”

Read the whole thing to find out why this sequence of events, this one man against America battle, nearly bankrupted Charles Dickens and inspired the publication of A Christmas Carol.

Wednesday Open Comments

“Roper” by Dan Lesovsky

Starting in March 2016, I do minimal edits on my rodeo galleries.  This allows me to get the photos uploaded much quicker for you to view.  Once photos are selected for purchase, there is a 4-day proof hold where I go in and do final edits that will look like the photos I post on my Instagram and Facebook feed.

I currently shoot California High School Rodeo District 9 rodeos from Sept through May and Tehachapi Mountain Rodeo Association Jr Rodeos from May through August.  In between, I will shoot TMRA Bad Bulls and anything else I can fit in my schedule.

He has some great photos in his galleries.  Go take a look.

Tuesday’s Remembering Nino Open Comments

Antonin Gregory Scalia 

Two years ago, out near the Marfa Lights, east of the Mexican border, on the Cibolo Creek Ranch, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died.  He was born in New Jersey on March 11, 1936 and died in Texas on February 13, 2016.

Justice Scalia was never at a loss for words on the bench. He asked many questions and was sometimes brutally forceful in persuading both petitioner and respondent attorneys to fall in line with his legal conclusions. Justice Scalia’s questioning was meticulous, exploring the nuances of legal text, while his comments were often bludgeoning. He also possessed a sense of humor that caused the courtroom to erupt in laughter on a regular basis. Furthermore, the witty and thorough writing Justice Scalia honed while on the D.C. Circuit carried over to the Supreme Court. He wrote more concurring opinions than any other justice in Supreme Court history, and is third for most dissenting opinions. His opinions were expertly written, but his tone could sometimes be considered crass or offensive. Sometimes, his memorable quips even make headlines (e.g., his dissent in King v. Burwell in 2015, the “Obamacare” case, included references to “pure applesauce,” “jiggery-pokery,” and “SCOTUScare”).

A few days after his death, the Law and Liberty website organized a symposium on Scalia with six contributing legal scholars.  A couple of samples:

Ralph A. Rossum

In 1987, a year after Antonin Scalia’s confirmation as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, only 7 percent of the briefs filed before the Supreme Court made an originalist argument. Twenty years later, 35 percent did so. This is no accident.

Scalia joined a Supreme Court whose members were generally results-oriented, embracing some notion of a “Living Constitution”—the belief that the founding charter is essentially an empty vessel into which they could pour whatever new wine they wished. They saw the Constitution as having no permanent or fixed meaning but rather as a living, evolving document that must be interpreted to conform to the times. Justice Scalia utterly rejected that view. He insisted instead that the times must conform to the Constitution, and he pulled the Court (initially single-handedly, later in tandem with Justice Clarence Thomas) in an originalist direction.

Hadley Arkes

He never quite took my point that this was indeed what the “natural law” was about—not some high-minded “theory” hovering above the earth, but the axioms of reason as they bear on our practical judgments of right and wrong. We would persistently joust with each other over “natural law,” and yet on one issue after another, he was the justice who spoke my mind in the case at hand, whether it was the defense of the child in the womb, the preservation of marriage, a respect for federalism and the separation of powers, or the rejection of racial preferences in assigning benefits and disabilities to people solely on the basis of their race. And so when the Court issued an opinion and he was in dissent, I would begin by reading his dissent first. I would take that as the argument that the opinion for the majority would have to beat.



Monday North Korea Open Comments

The North Korean cheerleaders (read: daughters of the elite on a charm offensive or else) have gotten quite a bit of attention. It seems that even cheering their teams on require highly choreographed moves and doll-like smiles. From what I’ve read, they are escorted everywhere, and do not engage in conversation.

Stepford Wives, the sequel.

Thursday Nihilism Open Comments

As Calvin explained to Hobbes in the comic strip:

People always make the mistake of thinking art is created for them. But really, art is a private language for sophisticates to congratulate themselves on their superiority to the rest of the world. As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.

David Thompson, the Canadian writer, provides us with perfect examples of works of nothingness in place of art.  Behold Sandrine Schaefer, winner of the 2015 Foster Prize from the Institute of Contemporary Art of Boston.  This is called Bear Breath.  I think the wooden coat hanger is a fine artistic flourish.

More of this brilliant nothingness, no doubt funded directly and indirectly, by taxpayer’s money.

HereHere. and this one is really good.