This is bravery

NFL Prospect Gives Up Chance at Millions to Join Navy SEALs

Boston College Eagles wide receiver Alex Amidon has decided to pass up a shot at a lucrative NFL career to focus on his dreams of becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL. He finished his BC career with 191 receptions for 2,792 yards and 15 touchdowns. Amidon set school records for receiving yards in a season, as well as most receptions and receiving yards in a career.

It is true that Amidon would not have been an early round pick, but this is much braver than a Michael Sam press conference.


Tweets of the day

Simultaneous tweets this evening…unbelievable!

More shale drilling coming to Louisiana soon?

Landowners here in northwest Louisiana have done well from development of the Haynesville shale formation. Haynesville is primarily a natural gas formation, however, and with the boom in supply and slow development of the liquified natural gas export market, drilling has slowed to a crawl.

The middle of the state may soon be getting into the drilling boom soon, with development of the Tuscaloosa Marine shale formation. This article was mostly about exploratory drilling in western Mississippi, but the formation extends all the way across the middle of Louisiana. Estimated to hold 7 billion barrels of light sweet crude, the formation could be as productive as Bakken or Eagle Ford.

Faster, please.


The Ukraine situation has just gotten really interesting

Jacob and I have broad-ranging geopolitical conversations occasionally, and I have always blithely assured him that we would never have a war with Russia or China. I think I said, “The US does not need all of those tanks we have in Germany; Russia is no longer a threat to invade our allies.” If our current leadership does not grow a spine (or even if it does), I may have to eat my words with a side order of crow.

The Ukraine is a former Soviet republic, positioned between Russia and the rest of Europe. The name literally means “Borderland”. After the Soviet empire breakup, Ukraine retained close ties with Moscow. The eastern and southern parts of the country is largely (but not entirely) Russian by ethnicity and language. Russia maintains a large naval base on the Black Sea in Crimea, the southern section of Ukraine.

Problems arose when Ukraine negotiated ties with the European Union. Vladimir Putin objected, and the Ukrainian president unilaterally cancelled the agreement with the EU. Western Ukrainians rose up in protest, leading to the bloody fighting in the streets of Kiev (or Kyiv, however you want to spell it), and the ouster of the Ukrainian president.

Now there are “armed, uniformed men” forcefully occupying airports in Crimea. Is Russia invading the Ukraine? Why should it matter to us here in the United States? Sounds like a local problem to be solved by the principals in the area, right? Not so fast…

Enter the “Budapest Memorandum”. In 1994, the US and Great Britain felt it would be unwise to leave those old Soviet nuclear weapons lying around in the Ukraine, so Bill Clinton and John Major agreed to defend Ukraine if it were ever invaded. So the Ukraine gave up its nukes.

Putin has now installed 150,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders after the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych by pro-European protesters.

What’s next? Do we go to war with Russia? Nope, says the Obama administration, this is not an invasion, “this is an uncontested arrival of troops”. How Orwellian, rather like “kinetic military action” in Libya.

Here is the irony. Remember that vice presidential candidate who was “clueless about foreign policy”? A Sarah Palin quote from Oct. 22, 2008:

“After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.”

In 2012, Mitt Romney called Russia “our number one geopolitical threat”. He was widely ridiculed, and President Obama responded, “The 1980’s called…they want their foreign policy back.”

We find ourselves in this situation due to the disastrous foreign policy adventures of the current administration over the past five years. Obama’s feckless handling of various world events emboldened Vladimir Putin, culminating in the Syrian chemical weapons debacle. Does Putin think the US will follow through with its warnings against interference in the Ukraine? We shall see.

What is needed now is some very strong diplomatic activity. But we are not exactly negotiating from a position of strength, as did President Reagan with Mikhail Gorbachev. My prediction is that the US will do nothing, Putin will gain strength, and America will lose valuable influence in world affairs.


Not safe to display American flag in American high school?

Via The Volokh Conspiracy, now at The Washington Post.

On May 5, 2010, a group of students were told by the administration at Live Oaks High School in California that they could not wear shirts displaying the US flag; they were told to remove the shirts, turn them inside out, or go home, for their own safety. Apparently there were other students at the school who were offended by the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. Indeed, there had been an incident the previous year involving threatened violence against students displaying the American flag, and the 2010 group were later threatened by text message and telephone.

A lawsuit against the school district ensued, and yesterday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the school’s decision to forbid wearing the US flag on Cinco de Mayo (Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School Dist. .

The court points out that the rights of students in public high schools are limited — under the Supreme Court’s decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. School Dist. (1969), student speech could be restricted if “school authorities [can reasonably] forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities” stemming from the speech. And on the facts of this case, the court concludes, there was reason to think that the wearing of the T-shirts would lead to disruption.

From the Court’s decision:
Here, both the specific events of May 5, 2010, and the pattern of which those events were a part made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real. We hold that school officials, namely Rodriguez[the school’s assistant principal], did not act unconstitutionally, under either the First Amendment or Article I, § 2(a) of the California Constitution, in asking students to turn their shirts inside out, remove them, or leave school for the day with an excused absence in order to prevent substantial disruption or violence at school.

Professor Volokh:
This is a classic “heckler’s veto” — thugs threatening to attack the speaker, and government officials suppressing the speech to prevent such violence. “Heckler’s vetoes” are generally not allowed under First Amendment law; the government should generally protect the speaker and threaten to arrest the thugs, not suppress the speaker’s speech. But under Tinker‘s “forecast substantial disruption” test, such a heckler’s veto is indeed allowed.

Yet even if the judges are right, the situation in the school seems very bad. Somehow, we’ve reached the point that students can’t safely display the American flag in an American school, because of a fear that other students will attack them for it — and the school feels unable to prevent such attacks (by punishing the threateners and the attackers, and by teaching students tolerance for other students’ speech). Something is badly wrong, whether such an incident happens on May 5 or any other day.
And this is especially so because behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated.

Divided America