“Hate” Is a Crutch


I am confident that people who know me in real life will tell you that, while I exhibit at least the usual complement of flaws, odd quirks, and irritating peccadilloes, being hateful is not numbered among them. That’s probably because I’ve been fortunate, and can’t think of anyone who has seriously wronged me or wronged someone I love. Hate simply isn’t an emotion I experience, and the word is not one I use.

I would like to believe that this is true of most people — that they don’t really feel hate much, if at all — and that the word is too casually used.


Silence Is Consent


We know that President Trump relies heavily on the feedback he gets from MAGA rally crowds. If Second Amendment voters are keeping silent on gun control and just cheering at Trump’s rallies, he reasonably believes he has them on his side. So it is a great shame on every gun owner who showed up at the New Hampshire Trump reelection rally unprepared, with several friends, to start chanting “Keep Your Word!” That sound of silence was reasonably taken by President Trump as confirmation that he could talk his 2016 voters into any position he takes in 2019.


The Boycott Wars


View original artwork here.


Does the Constitution Need Reformation or Restoration?


reform or restore constitutionThere is a long-simmering fight on the right between those who urge a convention of the states, under Article V of the Constitution of the United States, and those who urge active resistance at every level of government to nullify unconstitutional actions by every branch of government. The former argue for reformation of the Constitution, while the latter argue for restoration of the Constitution as currently written. Both have merits, both are sincere, and both do not say enough. What follows is a brief outline of some contentions and a suggested common flaw with a common, but very hard, solution.



How to Build a Computer 35: Anisotropic Etching


Last time we talked about how to make tiny little holes in silicon using harsh acids. Wet etching is fine and all, but sometimes you just can’t make a feature small enough. You’re limited by the aspect ratio. That is, how wide it is versus how tall it is. A post hole has a high aspect ratio because it’s much deeper than it is wide. A strip mine is a pretty low aspect ratio hole. The difficulty with making high aspect ratio holes in your silicon is that your etchant is going to etch down, yes, but it’s also going to etch towards the sides.

Before we get into dry etching there’s one more trick for making an anisotropic (uh, it etches downward quicker than it goes sideways. Literally the word means not-the-same-in-all-directions.) wet etch. What happens if you do your etching with a strong base instead of a strong acid? As it turns out, and for no reason, I’ve managed to determine, a strong base will etch one crystal face preferentially.


Can Trump Solve the Chinese Puzzle?


Xi puzzle“Facts don’t care about your feelings,” as Ben Shapiro is wont to say. Indeed, John Adams admonishes us: “facts are very stubborn things.” In the midst of all the virtual ink spillage, and pundit and politico posturing, the inconvenient truth is that Hong Kong is a city in communist China. This unfeeling and stubborn fact fundamentally limits what the United States, any other nation, and people inside Hong Kong can do to affect conditions on the ground. Yet, there may be a move, within the larger Chinese puzzle, that President Trump can play now that might slow Hong Kong’s descent into normal Chinese city status.

Cautionary Tales of Careless Words:


Group Writing: Raging Storms


When the rain falls gently, soothing the leaves on trees, darkening the streets slowly, satisfying the thirst of eager flowers, I welcome those soft showers. But my experience with the “raining cats and dogs” variety of storms has been terrifying, and I could definitely do without them. Unfortunately, nature will have her way.

Three terrifying experiences that have never been duplicated came to mind when I thought of raining cats and dogs. The first was on a cross-country drive, and we were on a Texas highway. My husband drove one car and I drove the other, as we were in the process of moving from CA to MA. We amused ourselves by taking turns being in front, and to make sure I didn’t get sleepy, he would occasionally call me on my cellphone. (This was in 2006* when you couldn’t get arrested for using a cellphone while driving.)


Netanyahu Stands up to Omar and Tlaib


At least someone has decided to stand up to Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib’s anti-Semitic and anti-Israel agenda. It’s clear that our Congress will not.

Last month, a visit to Israel by these two lawmakers had been approved. Just two days before the trip, however, both women announced that they planned to use the trip to promote the Boycott-Divest-Sanction (BDS) movement, an international effort to cripple the Israeli economy and delegitimize the Jewish state. When their agenda became clear, Israel enforced a law passed in 2017 which prohibits entry to those who promote boycotting the country. Foreign Minister Israel Katz spoke out supporting the ban–referring to their support of BDS, terrorism and minimizing the Holocaust:


“Everybody Knew”/”Nobody Knew”


You’ve read the conventional wisdom, and it usually has some truth in it. “Until December 7, 1941, nobody knew that America would get dragged into World War II.” “The A-bombing of Nagasaki was cruel and unnecessary—everybody knew the Japanese were ready to surrender after Hiroshima.” “On October 4, 1957, the Soviets stunned the world. Nobody knew they were on the brink of launching the Earth’s first artificial moon.”

You’ve read the confident cynics, too. “Everybody knew John F. Kennedy was having extramarital affairs.” “Everyone knew the reason Nixon ‘killed’ Apollo was that he was jealous of JFK’s role in starting it.” And of course, “Everybody in Hollywood knew about Harvey Weinstein. They had to know.”


ACF #28: Scarface


The podcast’s going back to the great De Palma–our fifth, after The Untouchables, Blow Out, Body Double, and Carlito’s Way. You’ve got Al Pacino, cocaine, Miami, an Oliver Stone script, and the ’80s: So naturally everything goes crazy and turns into a tragedy. Scarface is both a rebuke to liberals who look at criminals as mere victims and to conservatives who look at them as failures. American liberalism–Jimmy Carter–invites immigrants on moral grounds; conservatism–capitalism–invites workers on economic grounds. But Scarface escapes both morality and business, revealing the weaknesses of an American society that cannot deal with the poor or with narco-capitalism.


Hong Kong Sings the American Song of Freedom, While China Prepares an Attack


China seems poised to engage in a crackdown on Hong Kong, with troops massing on the Hong Kong border and police (controlled and supported by Beijing) violently removing protesters from the Hong Kong airport that they have occupied over the last two days. I have spent a lot of time on radio over the years talking about China; how its government runs and military acts, and the issues of its citizens. And I have repeatedly discussed how we, as Americans, should never think of China on any sort of equivalent footing: Never think of a Communist nation as in any way equal to a free nation.

Radical environmentalists – which include major swaths of the progressive party in the US – often laud China for their Green innovations and clean mass transit. But China is responsible for some of the worst pollution on Earth.


Quote of the Day: Fighting Back


“Christine Blasey may have been sexually assaulted, he said, but not by him, adding that he intended no ill will to her or her family. ‘The other night Ashley and my daughter Liza said their prayers, and little Liza—all of ten years old—said to Ashley, ‘We should pray for the woman.’ That’s a lot of wisdom from a ten-year-old. We mean no ill will,’ he said, choking up. The hearing room was full of people crying. Kavanaugh’s parents were there to support him and could barely maintain their composure. Watching their anguish over their only son’s ordeal was brutal for the other members of Kavanaugh’s team.” — Justice Brett Kavanaugh, from Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino

The last thing that most of us would wish for is to re-experience that moment when we watched the devastation that the Democrats tried to inflict on the life of Brett Kavanaugh. When he choked up, I felt tears in my eyes. My heart ached for him, for his family and friends and even for the country. How had we come to this moment?


An Economic Lesson Worth Remembering: Communism Was Pretty Terrible


Much of my writing is about the transformative power of innovative, market capitalism. But maybe it would be worthwhile to expend a few more words on the alternative. What about the terrible history of centrally planned economies? Apparently, the great lessons from those experiences must be relearned. I mean, clearly the message isn’t getting through when some folks — as I’ve seen on Twitter — can look at a chart showing the steep decline in global poverty and view it as an endorsement of the Chinese communist party rather than market reforms and decentralization.


More Rats! And Racism?


RatsThe left has settled on the election strategy of screaming “racist, racist, racist” at President Trump and any who dare show any support for him. It need not be true if it works, as Senator Harry Reid shamelessly admitted after smearing Mitt Romney into defeat. Yelling “that’s racist!” is also a defensive move by Democrats, fearful of President Trump showing they no longer have a monopoly on peoples’ votes based on skin color. President Trump can win bigly in the 2020 election, and put his tormentors on the back foot now, if he simply goes on offense, keeping his promises made in on Trump’s New Deal for Black America. In so doing, he can make a substantial positive difference in the lives of forgotten and exploited Americans, cleaning up the rats, and the dirty rotten rats in local and state governments.

Rats and Dirty Rotten Rats


Israeli Lessons for Mass Shootings


The recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, have given rise to an anguished national discussion over how to best respond to domestic terror. There is an aching awareness that punishing individual criminals after the fact is, to invoke the famous Churchill phrase, too little, too late. The social objective is to prevent these useless deaths from ever happening, which is why choosing the proper mix of preventive measures is rightly the central topic of debate.

Yet it is precisely on these questions that people who share a common end have the greatest disagreement. There is no single metric that can determine the optimal strategy for harm prevention. But that does not stop the introduction of a vast number of ingenious approaches to solve the problem. Today, most of the proposed solutions are top-down. They seek to prevent violent individuals from getting their hands on guns, often forgetting that determined killers can resort to cars, bombs, and even knives. My approach is the opposite. Any mass killer is a random outlier whom it is rarely possible to identify in advance. I think that it is impossible to do anything more that will prevent these people, or indeed anyone else intent on wreaking havoc, from obtaining weapons.


Law Talk Q&A


It’s August, which means it’s time to open up the faculty lounge to listener questions. On the next episode of the Law Talk podcast (now a production of The Hoover Institution!), Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo will take your questions on matters of law, policy, politics, or whatever happens to interest you (though if one of you asks Richard a question about Roman riparian law, so help me God…).

Post your questions in the thread below and a selection of the best ones will be featured in our upcoming episode.


Senator Sanders: Are You Lying or Merely a Sap?


In our preferred world, politics would revolve around intelligent argumentation, clever rhetoric, and appropriate deference would be given to facts. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. The world we live in is more dominated by popularity and personality than it is by principle.

This reality is why Bernie Sanders is still a contender to win the Democrat Presidential nomination. How has he gotten this far? By promising his followers a bribe. The opening bid? Forgiveness of all student loan debt. But that’s merely an aperitif; a foretaste of the giant enchilada Senator Bern has promised everybody in the form of free healthcare for all.


Concealed Carry: It’s Time


Shooting a gun never appealed to me prior to five years ago. My attitude towards guns has shifted to a point where it seems natural and necessary to have one.

When my husband pressed me to have a gun in the house, I resisted for a few years. We live in a gated community, and having a gun in the house seemed excessive. I didn’t object to guns, per se, but I also didn’t much appreciate them. Since my husband was so determined to have one, given there has been minor crime in our development, I agreed. His first gun was a Glock 19. It felt heavy and intimidating to me, but I wasn’t going to use it—until my husband expressed his desire for me to learn how to use it, since it was going to be in the house. (Reflecting on his rationale, I don’t find it very persuasive, since I am rarely here without him!) But I finally tried it out at the first gun range which we joined.


It Could Be Suicide or Murder. But Incompetence Is a Certainty.


A question that @paddysiochain has asked needs to be answered: Is it even possible that Jeffrey Epstein was an actual suicide? Sure it is. Anyone remember the Baader-Meinhof gang? German terrorists of the Seventies, a cross between Antifa and the Manson family. Their leaders were caught and mysteriously committed suicide in jail. Almost everyone who’s seen the subsequent evidence says that it’s airtight: they really did commit suicide. But they were so high profile, and suicide seemingly so improbable, that on that day and for decades after, the hard Left and the hard Right don’t believe it.

Epstein’s world collapsed faster and more comprehensively than Harvey Weinstein’s. After his arrest, he was incredulous that he wasn’t offered a bail deal. He’d never see freedom again, let alone Lolita Island. Yes, I could see him as a suicide. Maybe. But…




RatsRats and violence in Baltimore, as in other cities, are indicators of basic civil society and local government breakdown. President Trump, as a developer between New York and New Jersey, has a long memory of stories that fed his tweets about Congressman Elijah Cummings’ hometown. This is not dinner-time viewing, but it is a fair sampling of local Baltimore stories since 2013. If you find the following a bit much, I note that cats chase rats, and you can chase the images here with a wonderful cat tale: “The Mother.”

The Atlantic had this 2014 story of an independent photojournalist documenting neglect of entire blocks of empty buildings:


Restoring the Patriarchy?


I think it would be a good idea. Oh, not the legal aspects of it: with two narrow exceptions, I think men and women should be treated the same under the law. Rather, I think we should restore the cultural aspect of patriarchy, the idea that the father has a special authority and a special responsibility within the home, and that men, in general, have special obligations within society.

Men are, in general, more powerful (by which I mean more powerful than women; all the comparatives here refer to men relative to women because there are only two kinds, male and female). Men do most of the creating and most of the destroying, impose most of the structure, cause most of the mayhem. Men are the principal actors in society by virtue of their greater drive and aggression and strength, their lesser interest in people, their greater interest in things and in the manipulation and control of things.


ACF #27: Oldboy


Here’s another Eastern classic–after Kurosawa, a modern Korean movie by Park Chan-wook. George Dunn and Peter Paik and I discuss Oldboy, the centerpiece of the Vengeance trilogy, which won Park the Palme d’Or in Cannes. Korea’s transformation into a prosperous democracy and Oh Dae Su’s transformation into a superman go together to first conceal and then reveal the dark secret at the foundation of civil society: The sacred law on which politics is based is the family, which must obey public laws. This is tragedy in a modern setting, moving between the epitome of wealth and the underworld of crime, incredibly violent, but also strangely hopeful about the possibility of reestablishing civilization.


Quote of the Day: How Jews Harm Other Jews


“Dare I say it? I must. I implore Jews to stop fighting with one another. Even if we disagree, we must try to do so respectfully, soulfully. I am psychologically very sensitive to Jewish self-hatred and anti-Semitism within the Diaspora. I fear it may very well function as a fifth column. I do not, however, think that other Jews are my enemies. It is important for Jews to remember this. Even if all Jews saw eye-to-eye on everything, we would still have real enemies whose goal in life is to kill us and to drive a Jewish presence out of the Middle East.” — Phyllis Chesler, The New Anti-Semitism

I saw Phyllis Chesler give a talk at a conference in St. Petersburg, FL, several years ago. It was a conference on Islamism; unfortunately, they haven’t held the conference again. Some great people were there, whose warnings were prescient, many of which have manifested in the years since.


Gaslighting: The Lies Media Tells About Donald Trump


Lies have been told. And those lies about President Trump – pushed by media and celebrities and political elites – have been allowed to take hold in America. And we must put an end to them. A decent society demands that lies be called out and corrected. And those who lie must be called out and admonished.

There are people out there who don’t like Donald Trump. There are people out there who don’t like what Donald Trump says or tweets. Those people exist, and those feelings are pretty normal; you aren’t going to like every person and you’re not going to like what every person has to say. If you dislike the President, however, to the point you proactively and aggressively lie about what it is he said to move your agenda? That is obscene. It is gaslighting.


Strong, Sensible, Domestic Security Policy


Bill of Rights and TrumpPresident Trump ran and won on a strong, sensible Second Amendment policy. He knew the issue was so important, that he made it the subject of his second position paper for the 2016 campaign.* He, his aides, his supporters, and the GOP need to dust that document off and go on offense this next week. Here is how such a Trumpian approach is a winner in American politics.

The 2016 election hinged on several states in the Rust Belt. Salena Zito and Brad Todd documented the surprising voting demographics that came through for President Trump. One of these groups was labeled “girl gun power.”** These were Millennial to Gen X women who had the strongest belief of any demographic group that they had the undeniable right to decide for themselves what kind of firearm was appropriate for their home defense. The NRA very effectively focussed advertising to them, and they chose guns over genital solidarity, even after the Billy Bush tape.