Ibiza Isn’t the Only Place Where the Tourists are Hated

In the Balearic Islands, along with other parts of Spain, the locals have had enough:

More than 500 people have taken to the streets to protest against the impact of overtourism in Ibiza – the first rally of its kind on the Balearic island famed for its hedonistic 24-hour lifestyle.

The rally, organised by local pressure group Prou!, took place on Vara de Rey in Ibiza Town last Friday. Protesters decried the privatisation of beaches, party boats, the rise in crime, the increase in rental prices and noise pollution. Some held placards reading “For Sale”.

They’re not the first–back home in South Florida, we hated tourists too.  Instead of dealing with people from the UK, France and Germany, we had to bear the brunt from other strange places, like NY and NJ

We didn’t protest, however: we just worked as hard as we could to relieve them of their money and be rude to them in the process.  What a country!

The Matter of Women Pilots Should Have Been Settled in the 1930’s

The Daily Beast correctly notes the achievement of Southwest pilot Tammy Jo Shults but with the usual caveat:

Just how masterfully Tammie Jo Shults, the pilot of the badly crippled Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, handled the problem of an engine exploding at 30,000 feet is winning admiration from thousands of her fellow pilots—and should finally help to temper the hubris of what has been a notoriously testosterone-charged profession.

That last point was settled a long time ago, as I noted here:

One of the more interesting parts of our story concerns the substantial number of women who flew and took parts in the competitions that Chet coordinated. This is not just a “hindsight” kind of thing; it garnered a good deal of attention at the time as well.

Aviation was still a new technology in the 1930’s, and attitudes about “roles” weren’t as fixed about flying as they were about other activities. Moreover many of the women who flew came from the upper reaches of society, which put the whole role of women in a different light than elsewhere.

When we think of women’s aviation in those times, we usually think of Amelia Earhart.  But there were many other women who achieved great things in the pilot’s seat: as I noted here, in the lead-up to the May 1934 Langley Day air show in Washington, my grandfather hosted “…a reception at the Willard Hotel in honour of Laura Ingalls, the New Jersey “society girl” who had just (22 April 1934) come from setting a world’s record by flying 15,000 miles from the U.S. to South America and back, which included crossing the Andes Mountains.”

As Camille Paglia noted, the 1920’s and 1930’s were indeed the “favourite period” of feminism, with plenty of lessons for us now.

At Last, the Best Solution for Scooter Libby

It took long enough:

President Donald Trump is poised to pardon Scooter J. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to sources familiar with the president’s thinking.

The president has already signed off on the pardon, which is something he has been considering for several months, sources told ABC News.

This case has always bothered me deeply, as I expressed in 2007:

President Bush’s decision to extend executive clemency to Scooter Libby is a sensible way to resolve what has been one of the most dangerous prosecutions in recent memory.

The job of a prosecutor is to obtain convictions for crimes committed, not to manufacture them and then send people to prison.  The most recent “celebrity” example of the latter is the Duke lacrosse case, and mercifully Mike Nifong is finding out the hard way that this isn’t the way to obtain convictions.

Things like this make the Fifth Amendment a dead letter.  Won’t cooperate?  Obstruction of justice.  Have a slip of memory?  Perjury.

Although executive clemency was a sensible solution, pardoning him is the best.   But George Bush was too anal for a pardon; that same anality got us the quest for “democracy in the Middle East” with even worse consequences.

Today once again we’re in a “moral crusade/throw them in jail” mode.  The last time our country had a nervous breakdown we went through Watergate, and what was best solved through political action ended up being a legal and media circus.  That engendered much of the cynicism of the 1970’s.  I don’t think this current cycle of Trump derangement is going to end any better, even if the left achieves their political and legal goals in the short term.

Rubbish like this makes living in this country a distasteful business, but alas we are too blind to see it.

Why the Spanish Civil War is Still Important

The history of the Twentieth Century is one written in blood.  Between two world wars, the procession of genocides from Armenia to Stalin to the Holocaust, China and the Killing Fields, millions seemed to vanish for causes that are better hated than understood.  Is there one conflict that we can look at than encapsulates the century better than others?  Although it’s forgotten outside its home country today, I think it’s fair to say that the Spanish Civil War should top the list.  Just about every ideology that dominated the century was represented there, either by Spanish adherents, foreign ones, or both.  And the combination of the conflict’s intensity and the tendency of the participants to romanticise their own cause and demonise their opponents’ certainly has lessons for our own polarised society today.

Probably the best single volume work on the subject in English is Hugh Thomas’ The Spanish Civil War.  He later acted as an adviser to Margaret Thatcher.  Most of what follows is derived from this work.

The existence of Spanish Latin America, from the Rio Bravo del Norte to the Tierra del Fuego–and beyond–is a testament to Spain as a world power for three centuries.  Napoleon’s invasion, with the loss of most of the American colonies, put it into more than a century of instability, ranging from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy to succession disputes (the Carlists) to the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and finally to the Spanish Republic, which was established in 1931.

Through all of this, like France and Italy, Spain was a country with a wide variety of political parties, a system which tended towards fragmentation.  On the left were the Socialists, Anarchists, Communists (whose role increased as the war progressed) and other parties supporting the Republic.  On the right were Catholic parties (CEDA,) Monarchists and Carlists, Falangists and Agrarians.  There were some parties in the centre.  Complicating the scene (then and now) were the regional parties, primarily the Catalan and Basque parties, which themselves had an ideological range.  The one thing that Spanish parties had in common was a intensity of commitment to their cause that was extremely bore-sighted, first figuratively and soon literally in the war.

Most Americans will be surprised that Anarchism was a serious political movement, associating it as a fringe terrorist group involved with the assassination of President William McKinley.  In Spain it certainly was serious; the idea that we didn’t have to have a government had traction.  As Thomas explains:

To these a great new truth seem to have been proclaimed.  The State, being based upon ideas of obedience and authority, was morally evil.  In its place, there should be self-governing bodies–municipalities, professions, or other societies–which would make voluntary pacts with each other.  Criminals would be punished by the censure of public opinion.

The last point indicates that they were waiting for the advent of social media…the Anarchists on the one hand and the Socialists and Communists on the other had a great deal of bad blood between them going back to Marx and Bakunin, and this conflict bedeviled the Republic’s war effort when crunch time came.

With a Republic came a constitution, and at this point the Republican-Socialist majority made a strategic error: they decided to make the document a political one, embodying their own idea rather than creating a document acceptable to a broad range of Spaniards.  No where was that more evident than in its anticlerical clauses regarding the Catholic Church: religious education was ended, the Jesuits were banished, no more payment of salaries to priests (which were compensation for the seizure of the Church’s lands in the last century,) etc.   Overplaying one’s hand is a hallmark of religious conflicts; that was certainly the case in France, but in Spain the shoe was on the other foot.  One tireless advocate of these measures–even in face of opposition in his own coalition–was Prime Minister Manuel Azaña, who would play such a large role in the coming civil war.

Some of Azaña’s confidence that he would succeed in his quest–a quest whose genesis came from his own bad experiences in the Catholic educational system–came from the desultory way in which Spaniards related to the Church.  In 1931 only about a third of Spaniards were practicing Catholics, this in the home country of the Inquisition.  But under that low level, Spaniards wrapped their identity as such with the Church, and same Church was an instrument of social justice in many instances.  In their hard-line anti-clerical policies Azaña and his allies made unnecessary enemies which would come back to haunt them on the battlefield.

The next four years were times of conflict and instability that rivalled France’s Fourth Republic (to say nothing of postwar Italy.)  The elections of February 1936 brought a strong majority to the Republican Popular Front.  The right felt it had been cornered.  In July, part of the military rose at two ends of the Republic: in Spanish Morocco and the Canary Islands, under Francisco Franco, and in the North, under Emilio Mola.  The Spanish Civil War had begun.

From a military standpoint, as was the case with its American counterpart, the war was the steady advance of one side (in this case the Nationalists, eventually under Franco) and the steady retreat of the other (the Republicans, with Azaña as its president at the start.  As also with that war, the details in between were complicated, and only a cursory summary can be done here.

The basic reason why the Nationalists won the Spanish Civil War was that their military organisation was superior and coherent.  The Nationalists had a real army; in the early stages, the Republicans had a collection of political militias.  Only as the war progressed did Soviet and Communist influence help to weld the Republican military together, and by then it was too late.  This was also reflected politically; the Anarchists, Socialists, Communists, Catalan and Basque nationalists and other made for a fragmented scene that consistently undermined the Republic’s attempts at a united front.  They spent a great deal of energy fighting each other, and this contributed to the Republic’s defeat.  That result is always the great “Antifa” fear, one that dominates their thinking to this day.

The Spanish Civil War became a proxy war for the various powers in Europe, themselves preparing for the much greater war that was coming.  It wasn’t a straightforward or uniform process.  Starting with the Nationalists, the one power that was “all in” for Franco was Italy, who contributed more support than just about anyone else.  Much of this support left something to be desired of; Franco, for example, wished that he could sent the Italian ground troops back, finding them as useless as Hitler shortly did.  Hitler and the Germans used the Condor Legion as a military experiment for their equipment and strategy, which they put to use in Poland and France.  Their support of the Nationalists was not entirely enthusiastic; at one point Hitler wished that the Republicans would win to crush the Catholic Church, for him a desired result.

The Republic’s foreign aid was, if anything, more desultory than the Nationalists.  The power that corresponded to Italy for the Republic was the Soviet Union, although their aid was sidetracked from time to time by events at home, namely Stalin’s purges and then the pact with Germany.  They also used that aid to forward the Communist’s status in the Republic, usually at the expense of the Anarchists.  As far as Britain and France were concerned, the 1930’s were the “decade of indecision.”  As one right-wing French paper observed, how was France (then under Leon Blum) supposed to help the Spanish Republic if they couldn’t keep the Germans from reoccupying the Rhineland?  Ultimately these two lead the Non-Intervention movement, which included Germany and Italy, and this amounted to having two foxes guard two chicken coops.  In any case their lack of support for the Republic was one cause of its defeat.

But the Spanish Civil War was the golden age of “volunteers,” from all over Europe and the US.  Not even World War II excited intellectuals and writers from these places like this conflict did, and many of them fought–and died–for the Republic.  The International Brigades were the stuff of legend, a phenomenon recently replicated in Syria (which is a good recent analogy for the brutality of the Spanish conflict, at the opposite end of the Mediterranean.)

Mentioning brutality brings up the subject of the atrocities, and there were plenty.  Most people think of Guernica, whose bombing was a complete waste in every sense of the word.  (Guernica is the sacred city of the Basques, with its tree, the way the Basques look at it echoes something out of J.R.R. Tolkien.)  The majority of the brutality, however, was more direct and personal.  The rule on both sides was to shoot first, no questions later.  The difference between the two sides was the context of the brutality.  The Republicans kicked off things with a massacre of Catholic religious and the destruction of churches.  Later the Communists would import techniques of torture and execution from the Soviet Union.   In executing most of the pre-war right-wing leadership, the Republicans did Franco a favour by clearing the field of most of his potential political rivals when the war was done.  The Nationalists did their dirty work, as with the fighting, in a more methodical manner.  The brutality of each side sickened their respective intellectuals, which is more than one could say for their foreign counterparts.

Although the Nationalists became the champions of Catholic religion in Spain, that process was not instantaneous.  Franco was indifferent to the faith (his wife, however, was not.)  The Falange was largely secular; the existence of a secular right was certainly a reality in those days and is becoming one again with the alt-right movement.  The use of Catholicism to bind the Nationalists together was a process encouraged by the conflict, another by-product of the Republic’s overreach in that regard.

Franco’s ultimate victory–just before the outbreak of World War II–was followed by his neutrality.  For all of his faults, Franco had no territorial ambitions beyond Spain and its existing colonies (Morocco had furnished him some of his toughest fighters) and was a profoundly cautious man.  Hitler tried to get him to join the Axis, but his was one of the few people who stiffed Hitler and got away with it.

After Franco’s death, Spain finally got a constitutional monarchy with a Republican political bent.  Franco got what the Romans called damnatio memoriae, he cannot be mentioned.   For the most part the social issues that helped push Spain leftward have been resolved in the modern welfare state, with the good and bad that goes with that.  But issues such as Basque and Catalan separatism–and of course the perennial issue of the Catholic Church–still remind us that the issues for which 600,000 people died are still very much with it.

And not just for Spain either.  It is hard to convey the relevance of the Spanish Civil War in a piece this short.  The polarisation, the heated rhetoric, the refusal for anyone to see the broader picture–all of these things are very much with us, and if we do not take some lessons from Spain’s experience–the most riveting single story of the Twentieth Century–than we risk having our own nation go down the same road.

The Core Problem With Liberal Arts Curricula/Degrees

I’ve taken flak for saying this in other contexts, but this comment on a frustrated history PhD’s failure to land a tenure-track position hits the nail on the head:

my own experience has been very similar although now i’m glad that i left the humanities and i believe that the humanities themselves should be completely erased as actual graduate disciplines. so many wasted minds, so much wasted capital for really very little societal value and much much grief to very smart individuals only to keep up a very vague idea that a university teaches you “how to think” or how to “read” or “how to write.”

the irony is that, given the current way in which most writing and reading occurs, taking a humanities course in milton, cervantes, or baudelaire may actually make you a worse writer and reader for today’s environment… but i digress.

i encourage you to think of this as an opportunity and to go outside of the field completely. i myself am now a software engineer although i once did a phd in comparative literature. it is possible to change, and it can be very fulfilling.

Painting Ourselves Into a Corner on Porn

Ross Douthat’s idea to ban porn is entirely sensible:

In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine there is a long profile of a new kind of pedagogy unique to our particular stage of civilization. It’s called “porn literacy,” and it involves explaining to young people whose sexual coming-of-age is being mediated by watching online gangbangs that actually hard-core pornography is not an appropriate guide to how the sexes should relate.

For anyone who grew up with the ideals of post-sexual revolution liberalism, there is a striking pathos to these educators’ efforts. The sex education programs in my mostly liberal schools featured a touching faith from the adults in charge that they were engaged in a great work of enlightenment, that with the right curricula they could roll back the forces of repression and make sexuality a place of egalitarian pleasure and safety for us all.

Although he puts it differently, Douthat has put his finger on the central dilemma of feminism and the #MeToo movement: when you live in a society whose elites believe that the central purpose in life is to get laid, high, or drunk, getting away from anything that encourages sexual activity simply cannot happen, or life loses its significance.  As a consequence they have painted themselves into a corner, and are not big enough to either admit it or seek alliances (which Douthat recalls from the 1980’s) with people who have common cause on at least this issue.

Is Going to a Canadian Style Immigration System That Bad?

While most Americans were bracing themselves for Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address (which turned out reasonably,) I got myself into a Facebook argument with the most bilious person I know about immigration policy.  During that dialogue I stated my preference for a Canadian (the Aussies use a similar system) immigration system which uses points to favour immigrants which, in the opinion of the government, would contribute most to the betterment of the country.  This usually means those with more education and income potential, as opposed to the “Emma Lazarus” dream we usually see in the US.

There was a time when such a proposal would have gone down well with progressives in the US, for two main reasons.

First, it’s Canadian.  Our elites have been holding up places like Canada and Western Europe as a model for us as long as I can remember.  They have universal health care; we don’t.  They have strict gun control, we don’t.  They have lots of paid family leave and holiday; we don’t.  And so on…remoulding this country in the image and likeness of places like this has been a long-time dream for many progressives, at least up to now.

The second is that it would skew our immigration towards more educated people.  Our elites constantly hold up people with high intelligence and as many degrees as Dr. Fahrenheit as the ideal; the more people like this we can attract, the happier they should be.

It would make sense that the left should then be the first to propose such a system.  But they haven’t: Donald Trump did, and reiterated that proposal in his SOTU address.  Personally I’m surprised that he did this; I would think his base would react badly to it, having been pummeled by legions of “pointy-headed,” overeducated elites and with little stomach for more.  Donald Trump, however, not only knows how to play to his base; he knows when they’re not paying attention, and this is one of those times.

My bilious opponent was unreceptive to such an idea; she changed the subject and then blasted me for my disinterest in DACA (I am fine with the legalisation on the table, actually.)  I think her idea on this exemplifies the apparent volte-face of the left on the subject, which has its roots in more recent history.

First, the obvious: they’re thinking, if Donald Trump proposed it, it must be bad.  For people who style themselves as reason- and reality-based, this is pretty stupid.  Everything they look at is through the lens of Trump even though the law passed (if the opposite of progress gets moving) will be in place after he is gone (kinda like the ACA and BHO, and we see how that’s come out.)

Second, it would dilute the large numbers of unskilled people coming in who, in their mind, would automatically vote Democrat if they achieved citizenship (and, in some places, before then.)  In addition to an abuse of the electoral system, this is a monument to their inability to “close the deal” with the American people.  If the ten trillion in debt the illustrious BHO borrowed couldn’t buy off the population, how can they expect to hold new people?

Third, I think the traditional Europhile nature of our “knowledge classes” has been diluted by years of multiculturalism.  About the only countries that get that treatment any more on a routine basis are the Scandinavian ones, and honestly Canada, Australia and the UK are better comparisons for many reasons.  Conservative people decry the fact that people in the West don’t believe in Christendom any more, but really they don’t believe in the secular replacement either!

I said that I’m surprised that Trump proposed this.  But if he believes he’ll get more immigration from Norway, he’s badly mistaken; he’s likely to get more from India, China and Iran than any place in Western Europe.  Perhaps, in this case, ignorance is bliss.

It’s also bliss for his base: what will happen with more merit-base immigration is the importation of a new elite which will crowd his base into an underclass.  As David “Spengler” Goldman put it a long time ago, the children of the soccer moms will be serving tea to the children of the tiger moms.

At this point I’m not prepared to predict how or whether this “critical moment” will come to a legislative resolution.  I wasn’t optimistic about a new tax law but we got one anyway. Maybe we’ll take a cue from our neighbour to the north and maybe we won’t.  On this topic we could do a lot worse, and given the current state of our political system, one can never count worse out.

The Real Problem with Prosperity Teaching Isn’t Theological (Well, not entirely…)

There’s a well-known Anglican “divine” (to use the old term) in this country who’s engaged in a Facebook campaign/rant (take your pick) about African faith declarations and the popularity of prosperity teaching.  It’s gone on for some time, and the fact that he’s Reformed only adds to the persistence.  (Maybe he’s also trying to prove that doctrine, but that’s another post…)

Readers of this blog know that an family heritage snob like me doesn’t have much use for prosperity teaching as it is currently propagated by the arrivistes on this side of the Atlantic.  And that may be a big part of our Anglican divine’s problem: Episcopal churches in this Republic have traditionally been the church home of people who really don’t need “name it and claim it” or “blab it and grab it” because they already have it and know how to get it by other means.  I suspect that Anglican churches have inherited many of these people and have attracted more to their ranks, which is why it’s easy for Anglican and Episcopal divines to sniff at others not so well endowed.

But to turn sniffing into heresy hunting is a game-changer.  It’s easy if you’re a hammer to see everything else as a nail; it’s easy if you’re a minister of the Gospel to see everything that doesn’t square with what you know to be true as heresy, especially when you’ve been pummeled by the stuff from the Episcopal left.  It’s also easy to miss the forest for the trees, and I think objectors to prosperity teaching have done just that.  The real problem with prosperity teaching isn’t theological, but it’s wrapped up with the whole theodicy issue.

I’ve discussed this before, but the core problem is that Americans in particular have been drilled in the idea that life is supposed to be a “bowl of cherries” and that they’re not supposed to experience adversity or pain.  That’s an interesting idea in a country where interpersonal relationships (like marriage and parenting) are so unstable and thus cause pain by themselves.  That’s had a great deal of fallout, I’ll mentioned two examples.

The first is the opioid crisis.  Boomers act like this is something new, but face it: the generation committed to “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” put drugs front and center in life.  But why?  Why are Americans so prone to taking drugs, and have been for the last 50+ years?  Some of that blame must be put squarely on the drug companies themselves.  Leaving out the scourge of prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, so many over-the-counter drugs were sold on the idea of “take a pill, you don’t have to feel pain, everything will be fine.”  That’s a powerful concept for drugs both legal, illegal and those in transition.  But it’s left a wreckage.

The second is prosperity teaching itself.  You never learn to appreciate the “positive confession” movement until you’ve been subjected to the “negative confession” one.  But prosperity teaching here pushes very strongly the idea of the pain-free, adversity-free life, especially for people who have been primed for that idea by their culture.

And that’s where the Africans come in.  Prosperity teaching has an obvious appeal in a place as poor as Africa.  But my exposure to the Africans tells me that for the most part they haven’t bought into the pain-free, adversity-free mentality that we have here in the U.S.  Their daily life and bad actors such as Boko Haram only reinforce reality in a way that most Americans find incomprehensible.

So what’s a Christian to do?  The first thing is to define the extremes, and see what’s in the middle.  We’ve seen one extreme, the adversity-free idea.  The other is that we should just tough everything out in life and do it ourselves.  The problem with that is that it basically leaves God out as our ultimate source and strength.  A good example of that is the “Contract on the Episcopalians, ” where the promises of God were replaced by what we promised to do.

Somewhere between these two extremes is reality, that we live in a fallen world, that our God as given us the promise of eternity, that bad things happen but ultimately that the life that God has given us is good.

Finding a middle ground on anything these days isn’t easy.  In this case, however, it is both Biblical and necessary.

My Response to Twitter’s Paranoia About the Russians

Yesterday I received the following in my inbox from Twitter:

As part of our recent work to understand Russian-linked activities on Twitter during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we identified and suspended a number of accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency.

Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing you because we have reason to believe that you either followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked content from these accounts during the election period. This is purely for your own information purposes, and is not related to a security concern for your account.

We are sharing this information so that you can learn more about these accounts and the nature of the Russian propaganda effort. You can see examples of content from these suspended accounts on our blog if you’re interested.

My response is simple: I really don’t care.

Our elites’ paranoia about the Russians and their influence mirrors that of Joe McCarthy in the 1950’s.  They do not understand that we are the strongest state and that the success or failure of these United States is strictly in our own hands, or those within who own and operate us.  To say otherwise is blame shifting, and those who believe everything bad that happens to them is someone else’s fault are inherent failures.

Those who control social media have finally woken up to the fact that some who use their media for their own purpose are existential threats to them (or at least they think they are.)  The result of this will be the suppression of free speech on these media.  This has been coming for some time and will only get worse.  Those who have put all their eggs in the social media basket and get crossways with the gatekeepers will find this out the hard way.

As far as “fake news” is concerned, after watching the gorgeous show called Shen Yun one evening I told my wife that “It’s all propaganda.”  I had seen it from the other side (Shen Yun is an effort by the Chinese religious group Falun Gong, which the government hates.)  It’s just too bad that the propaganda war Twitter is so paranoid about can’t be conducted with such beauty.

Chelsea Manning, the Perfect Democrat

Buried in all the other excitement this week was the announcement that Chelsea Manning, the transgendered Wikileaker, is running for the Senate in Maryland as a Democrat.  This announcement has gotten a great deal of adverse press from the right, but I think we need to stop and look at this in more detail.

First, the transgendered business: we need to face reality that, as long as we live in a society where one’s life is defined by one’s sexual activity, it not being optional or restrictable, this will happen, because it’s easy in a society as obsessed with conformity as ours to find oneself cornered by that obsession.  If we address the underlying cause, we will be closer to resolution, although it’s a steep uphill climb.

Turning to the leaker business, many Republicans and conservatives simply regard Manning as a traitor.  In this case that assessment really shouldn’t matter: it isn’t the job of Maryland Republicans to vote for a Democrat anyway.  Manning’s first contest is in the Democrat primary, and it’s here that things really get complicated.  He is the perfect Democrat in a party which loves perfection until it doesn’t.

I am one of those people who still think that the phrase “patriotic liberal” is an oxymoron.  Liberals (or leftists) are supposed to be internationalists.  They’re always telling us that other countries are better because they have things like lots of paid leave and holiday, universal health care, better educational systems, lower defence budgets, etc.  If other places are really better than we are, why be loyal to this one?

Our society, however, is highly duplicitous; liberals are glad to be internationalists as long as it suits them.  When it doesn’t suit them is when they get into power; all of a sudden, they become very patriotic, because it’s suddenly their country, and we’re all supposed to love it and be loyal to it even as they change its very nature.  That was very much on display during the years when Barack Obama was President.  He was obsessed with leaks and secrecy (as James Rosen found out) and even with those in the media who simply wanted to report the facts (as Sharyl Attkisson found out.)  Obama never pardoned Manning, he only commuted his sentence, probably as a sop to those in his party who, although wrong, are at least consistent.

And then there’s the matter of secrets themselves.  The simple truth is that our government keeps too many and collects too much information.  How much good it does is debatable; the Soviets’ intelligence gathering apparatus didn’t prevent the collapse of the USSR, and it’s not obvious that we’re looking at what we know with any more understanding than they did.  Our Congress supinely renews legislation to extend their powers to do so.  In reality, they’ve breached the “safeguards” built into this kind of legislation before, they can collect pretty much what they want and bury it in the classification system.

It’s interesting that some of Manning’s statements about the bureaucracy and security apparatus could have just as easily come out of an alt-right person.  Our political spectrum is actually circular; if those on either side of the ring gap could cut a deal with each other, things would be very shaken up in our society.

My guess is that Manning’s campaign won’t get any further than Code Pink’s Cindy Sheehan’s did against Nancy Pelosi.  Since the days of George McGovern, the Democrat party has been the home of people like Manning until it isn’t, and it isn’t when job security and power are on the line.  That’s especially true in Maryland; like Northern Virginia, which has pushed that state purple, the DC suburbs’ bureaucracy dwellers will probably look at Manning as an existential threat.  But such areas, to paraphrase Portfirio Diaz, are so far from God, so close to Washington, and Manning will find out that the proximity to Washington will, for the moment, trump the distance from God.