Thursday, January 31, 2008


Bold Prediction of an Iminent New Ice Age

I'm not just being contrarian to say, starting now, global temperatures, as measured from space, will not only fail to rise, as they have been failing to rise during the past near decade, but they will actually start to fall. How can I make such a prediction in the face of universal acceptance of anthropogenic global warming? Easy--the sun is much more than likely to be going into a dim phase now. Let's start at the beginning.

All life depends on the sun and the fact that our water (and even our CO2) is not frozen as ice is because the sun produces sufficient radiation to warm our planet to the point where most water is still liquid. Every change in radiation output of the sun has a corresponding effect back here on Earth. Even though sun spots are dark, the intense radiation around them actually increases net output; so, more sun spots historically has meant higher temperatures and vice versa. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere doesn't really matter. Over the past 400,000 years, with close inspection of the Russian's Vostok Station Antarctic ice cores, the rise in CO2 concentration followed the rise in temperature, not the opposite as Nobel Prize winning scientist self promoter All Gore says. So, if the concentration of atmospheric CO2 followed the rise or fall of mean temperatures, that means something else was causing the rise or fall in global temperature. I nominate the sun.

Scientists still debate what was the cause of the Mideval Warm Period (what we used to call the Little Optimum), but nearly everyone seems to be on board with what caused the Little Ice Age, lack of sunspots.The cause was the Maunder Minimum--the period 1645 to 1715 during which there were hardly any sun spots. There have been other minimums (like the Dalton Minimum from 1800 to 1810) which were followed by very cold winters (as Napolean learned to his detriment in Russia in 1812).

The number important in observing the sun's activity (and ultimately heat to Earth) is the flux density value. I have no idea what that is, but I can read what others say. Apparently, the lower the number the lower the magnetic activity and thus the less numbers of sun spots and a cooler sun and then Earth. The scientists note over the normal 11 year sun spot cycles the numbers go generally between 64 and 268. Numbers in the 70s mean really low activity and ultimately less warmth. We're just starting a new cycle, where the number of this flux thing (and then the number of sunspots) should be increasing. So, how can it be ready to get colder if the number of sun spots is about to increase? Well, the Canadian Space Agency (who knew they had one?) is reporting a flux density number of 73.6. That's really low for this point in the cycle. Burrr. I can feel the chill winds start to blow (really--it's darned cold today here in Denver). Unless that value changes quickly and substantially, it may well be going to get a little more chilly soon. That is, of course, unless the CO2 concentration we're pumping up is staving off the already overdue cooling and reglaciation, which is an idea well known to some science fiction writers.

(h/t Brits at Their Best via Instapundit)



This Day in the History of Being Misinformed by the Media

On this day in 1968, the Viet Cong, as we had been hoping and praying for, came out and fought a stand-up war. A 19 man squad from the Saigon cadre breached the outside wall of our embassy there but did not get into the building (the History Channel web site gets this little fact wrong), Their officers were killed at the beginning and those left milled about aimlessly on the grounds for hours until a more heavily armed reaction force arrived and all but one of the surviving VC were killed. To the left is one of that victorious squad.
In fact, we killed Viet Cong at such a rate that they had fleeting success only in Hue, which was retaken in February. The VC were not a factor in the war after Tet. Despite the extremely one sided victory for the good guys, somehow, mainly by the way our success was covered by the media, the idea that the Viet Cong could stage a large scale attack, albeit a complete fiasco, morphed into the idea that they were successful and we were losing. General Westmoreland was invited to ask for more troops, which he did for the very sound tactical reason that it was just the right time to surge, exploit the weakness of the VC, and win the war in months. However, he was sacked for asking for more troops and replaced by General Creighton Abrams who did more with less and all but won the war against the invading NVA regulars by the time our last combat troops left in 1973.

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Thought of the Day

The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.

P.J. O'Rourke


Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Paul Campos' Selective Memory Loss

Sorry, Tony, I couldn't not comment.

Paul Campos, lefty Property Law Professor and rapidly becoming a sad cliche of a clueless lefty op-ed writer for the Rocky Mountain News, has a doozy of a column today. It's titled Millions Going Hungry, which would be true about the World at large but is an outright lie about the poor in America. Their worse problem is obesity from too much to eat (although not enough of it 'healthy').

What got Campos' so-called creative juices flowing was an article by Megan McArdle, not a Republican, in the center-left magazine The Atlantic, who dared to oppose liberal dogma and say just that fact in her short and to the point article a few days ago.

After the usual ad hominem attack, here about the 'privileged' and 'clueless' Ms. McArdle's upper West Side origins, Campos gets to the thin support for his position that the poor in America are starving to death slowly. Here we go.

Nearly three in 10 American households live on yearly incomes of less than $25,000. And more than 40 million Americans live in households that must get by
on less than $15,000 per year. Ten million American children live in "food insecure" homes, where finding the means to keep hunger at bay is a constant battle.

Household income is misleading--the preferred figure is for family income (or so says Mike Rosen just now) or even better 'consumption' numbers give a more realistic picture. Reported income, however, is only part of what 30% of America lives on as will be discussed below. 40 million Americans do not 'get by' on less than $15,000 per year, the poor have a near downpour of both public and private welfare-like help, which is part of the source of the obesity problem. Again this will be discussed below. "Food insecurity" is a governmental newspeak term which does not mean actual hunger. It's worrying about what one will eat (or the manner in which one will get it), not whether one will eat. A multi-billionaire worrying if there's any white asparagus available is food insecure. So is the working poor single mom worrying whether to go with hamburger helper or tuna helper. Someone who is debating whether to get food stamps or not can also be counted as food insecure. The term is nearly meaningless in the field of inquiry regarding actual (and daily) hunger, as it has next to nothing to do with it. Indeed, 'food insecurity' is clearly classified as different from hunger and the government makes no pretense (as the Professor does) that it is nearly the same thing or at least a precursor of hunger (through the 'daily battle' to keep it at bay). The Professor then plays his trump card.

Consider a divorced mother of two small children, who works full time but earns only $300 a week. Again, in America today there is nothing at all unusual about such circumstances. What can one say about the money-sheltered ignorance that fails to comprehend that such a woman will sometimes have to choose between going hungry, or fixing the car, or buying her children medicine, or paying the heat bill?
It's easy and natural to use the divorced mother with two children as an example because the leading identifiable group among the poor is recently divorced women with children. The Professor assures us that $300 a week is not at all unusual. Lie. The mean weekly wage up in Boulder, where the Professor works, is not $7.47 per hour but $23.53 per hour. There certainly are people earning just above minimum wage but they are not the usual. But the work the typical divorced mother of two is doing is not the end of income available to her. She would have been awarded both maintenance and child support. Let's say, however, her ex is a deadbeat. Here are the federal programs available to her (just off the top of my head, mind you, not an exhaustive list and I'm not even mentioning the numerous local charities or state programs).
  1. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) which replaced the venerable AFDC

  2. Food Stamps

  3. Section 8 housing vouchers

  4. Medicaid

  5. Earned Income Credit
How did the Professor forget these other forms of income? What could account for his selective memory loss? Sorry, Professor, that was weak, weak support for your hysterical reaction to Ms. McArdle, and so incomplete as to be worthless for the real world. He's not finished, however.

In the end, refusing to recognize that every day millions of Americans go hungry because they can't afford enough to eat is another way of promoting the idea that we need no longer worry much about the problems of the poor.

Millions going hungry every day? Campos, as usual, supplies not a single statistic. Are there any statistics to support his statement? Well, no...I mean, there are statistics, but they don't support what Campos said. Only 4% of American households are classified as having very low food security and of those less than a quarter, that is, less than 1% of American households, report to the U.S. Government that someone there did not eat for a whole day three or more times in a year. So someone in 1,100,000 households missed at least nine meals in a year and somehow survived.

This is different from the consumption figures from the USDA. According to the USDA, nutrition among the poor is about the same as among the middle class. Among the poor, American poor that is, 92% reported that they always had enough food. 6% reported that they sometimes didn't have all they wanted and 1.5% reported they often didn't have all they wanted. (Although they still had enough to live on).

Daily hunger for millions in America, my ever-expanding ass.



This Day in the History of How the Mighty Have Fallen

On this day in 1649, the king of England, Charles I, having lost his throne in the first English Civil War and been found thereafter guilty of high treason, had his head chopped off, in one swift stroke, in London. England was without a monarch until the Restoration in 1660.
This German print to the left shows the deed was done with an ax rather than the sword usually reserved for nobility. They must have really hated Charles I, although it is more likely that the print is wrong as Cromwell allowed the king's head to be sewn back on for burial.

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Thought of the Day

Credo ego Amorem primum apud homines carnificinam commentum.


I believe love first devised torture for men.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008


This Day in the History of Great Black Comedies

On this day in 1964, one of Stanley Kubrick's greatest films, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb opened in theaters across the nation. If you haven't seen it, you should. Peter Sellers played three parts including the title role (which was probably a composite of Herman Kahn and Wernher von Braun, with perhaps a little Edward Teller and Henry Kissinger thrown in). My emerging favorite of the three, however, is the President, Merkin Muffley (a merkin is a pubic wig and the muff is the part of the woman Playboy didn't show back then). Kubrick was calling the guy a pussy--and he was. He also looked a great deal like Adlai Stevenson, the two time Democratic loser to President Eisenhower. Ah, it all makes sense now. Slim Pickens, Sterling Hayden and George C. Scott have their finest cinematic moments. Hayden as General Jack D. Ripper, starts WWIII for what was then straight John Birch Society platform, the fluoridation of water as a Communist plot. Scott, as General Buck Turgidson, gives the greatest realpolitik speech ever given--"Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks." and Pickens, as Major T.J. "King" Kong rides the bomb to its target of opportunity like the cowboy he really was, an image hard to banish from ones memory.



Thought of the Day

The college idealists who fill the ranks of the environmental movement seem willing to do absolutely anything to save the biosphere, except take science courses and learn something about it.

P.J. O'Rourke


Monday, January 28, 2008


This Day in the History of Tastes of the Future

On this day in 1871, Paris fell during the Franco-Prussian War and France lost the war, although the peace treaty would not be signed until May. The country of Germany was a full 10 days old at the time and although Prussia clearly spearheaded this war, the actions of Germany in its figurative crib was a clear harbinger of what would be the bulk of early 20th Century European history, little of it good.



Thought of the Day

This is—the great story here [regarding President Clinton's sexual liaisons with Monica Lewinsky] for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president. A few journalists have kind of caught on to it and explained it. But it has not yet been fully revealed to the American public. And actually, you know, in a bizarre sort of way, this may do it.

Hillary Clinton January 27, 1998.


Sunday, January 27, 2008


Movie Update

I went back to see Cloverfield a second time. It's not worth a return trip as you're distant and removed the second time--much less fun. I did however see something fall from the sky and splash into the Atlantic (where last time I just barely noticed the splash) in the Coney Island sea shot. It's much more satisfying to me to think it's an alien rather than a previously unknown sea creature, just for standing up to the military so well. Not a sea creature. The movie has made, according to Box Office Mojo, $64,000,000. That's pretty good. It had a huge drop off from its opening week, just over $12,000,000 in the second week. That's not so good. I guess there are just so many fans of invulnerable giant monster destroying New York City movies out there.



This Day in the History of Sad Discoveries

On this day in 1945, Soviet forces advancing through Poland towards Germany captured the town Oświęcim and liberated the three nearly empty main camps (Konzentrationslager) nearby; the administrative center, called Auschwitz by the Germans, which had originally served as a prisoner of war camp for Polish and Soviet soldiers, the workcamp named Monowitz and the deathcamp named Birkenau, where the Nazis murdered, mainly with poisonous gas, at least 1.5 million men, women and children, including more than a million Jews.



Thought of the Day

The free market is ugly and stupid, like going to the mall; the unfree market is just as ugly and just as stupid, except there is nothing in the mall and if you don't go there they shoot you.

P.J. O'Rourke


Saturday, January 26, 2008


This Day in the History of Hard Lessons for Poland

On this day in 1934, officials from Nazi Germany and Poland signed a ten-year non-aggression pact. The really amazing thing is that over half the term of the treaty went by before the Nazis broke it.

We're big time anti-Nazis at this site (because we think the left is very, very dangerous)

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Thought of the Day

To grasp the true meaning of socialism, imagine a world where everything is designed by the post office, even the sleaze.

P.J. O'Rourke


Friday, January 25, 2008


Long Book Review

Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg

Subtitle: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

Short review:

Really good. Mostly.

Long Review:

The historical fact that fascists were socialists, were clearly a product of the left (nationalistic as opposed to the international socialism of Communism) is knowledge hidden in plain sight. The Nazis were bold enough to leave behind the gigantic clue of their name. However, most people are ignorant of this historical fact and have severe trouble getting their minds around it, even when it's brought to their attention. Most of us at this site have had the fact clearly in our minds for about 20 years now, Diomedes longer than I have. And, for me, it was learning, from Diomedes, (and then finally accepting) this fact which was a sine qua non for my migration to the right. Jonah Goldberg, who is a superb writer and a pedigreed center righter (he is the son of conservative stalwart Lucianne Goldberg) who 'blogs' at NRO (the Corner) and has a column in the Los Angeles Times, of all places, has shown himself to be a witty, down to earth sort of guy, a little geeky (he likes Battlestar Galactica and Cloverfield) but able to pierce the densest lefty persiflage with a single, well-turned phrase. We are indebted to him for this well end-noted, very approachable, meditative historical treatise on the essential fact about fascism. I'm going to quote liberally from the book. These are but nibbles of the greater feast awaiting anyone who reads it.

Discussing how the left has purged the bad socialists from their history and actually use the phrase fascist (and German form Nazi) wrongly but exclusively for conservatives with whom they disagree, Jonah pens this inescapable fact of history (from p. 9):

Before the war, fascism was widely viewed as a progressive social movement with many liberal and left-wing adherents in Europe and the United States; the horror of the Holocaust completely changed our view of fascism as something uniquely evil and ineluctably bound up with extreme nationalism, paranoia, and genocidal racism. After the war, the American progressives who had praised Mussolini and even looked sympathetically at Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s had to distance themselves from the horrors of Nazism. Accordingly, leftist intellectuals redefined fascism as "right-wing" and projected their own sins onto conservatism, even as they continued to borrow heavily from fascist and pre-fascist thought.

Projection is the key thought there, something that should cause current leftists to pause but which, in my experience, only results in an irrational denial from cognitive dissonance.

Jonah traces the fascism created by Mussolini back to the first fascist movement, the French Revolution, and prior to that carefully defines the term fascism in the context of its historical and intellectual origins. And that history and those origins are all, ALL on the left. Here is the shortest definition he gets behind (from p. 2 and scholar Emilio Gentile):

A mass movement that combines different classes but is prevalently of the middle classes, which sees itself as having a mission of national regeneration, is in a state of war with its adversaries and seeks a monopoly of power by using terror, parliamentary tactics and compromise to create a new regime, destroying democracy.
Here is how Goldberg himself defines fascism as (from p. 23):

...a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives.

What Italian Fascism and German National Socialism have to do with modern American conservative thinking is clearly nothing. Jonah writes cogently (from p. 61):
If we put aside for a moment the question of whether Hitlerism was a
phenomenon of the right, what is indisputable is that Hitler was in no way conservative--a point scholars careful with their words always underscore. Certainly, to suggest that Hitler was a conservative in any sense related to American conservatism is lunacy. American conservatives seek to preserve both traditional values and the classical liberal creed enshrined in the Constitution. American conservatism straddles these to distinct but overlapping libertarian and traditionalist strains, whereas Hitler despised both of them.

Jonah's often repeated vision of the modern American version of fascism, what he somewhat redundantly (but necessarily) calls liberal fascism, comes from what George Carlin once said on Bill Maher's nearly unwatchable show on HBO, that fascism will come to America not with brownshirts and jack-boots but with Nike sneakers and a smiley face. The cover art is that statement made visual.

Despite the oft invoked statement: 'It can't happen here,' the book shows clearly that fascism did in fact take root in America and not only under the Wilson administration, the only Democrat president (other than Grover Cleveland) between the end of the Civil War and 1933, even though it was plainest under Wilson. I learned a lot about the excesses of the American Protective League, more history hiding in plain sight. Of ultimately less interest to me was the connection to fascism of America's next Democratic president after Wilson, FDR. No sane, reasonably well educated person really doubts that socialism was inherent to the New Deal. It was cool, however, to see the connection the NRA stylized eagle logo had to fascism's more famous symbols. More grist for the mill.

The book became much more interesting to me once it discusses periods when I was alive and aware, namely, regarding 1960s radicalism, which was all lefty and essentially fascist. Jonah draws a singularly sharp distinction between right and left during the last few years of the 1960s (from p. 197)

Meanwhile, what of the supposedly fascistic American right? While the New Left relentlessly denounced the founding fathers as racist white males and even
mainstream liberals ridiculed the idea that the text of the Constitution had any relevance for modern society, conservatives were launching an extensive project to restore the proper place of the Constitution in American life. No leading conservative scholar or intellectual celebrated fascist themes or ideas. No leading conservative denigrated the inherent classical liberalism of the United States' political system. To the contrary, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, Jr., and the conservatives around National Review dedicated themselves to restoring the classically liberal vision of the founders.

Fascist scum!

The book also shines when Kennedy and his vice president are discussed. On page 202, Jonah writes that news of a Dallas school reacting to Kennedy's death with cheers was false. I hesitate to tell him this, but I was in a military school in the deep South then and I clearly recall hearing cheers at the news in my school that November day. So maybe not so false after all. Here is Jonah's keen insight into the origin of the conspiracy industry which grew up surrounding Kennedy's assassination (from p. 203):

The fact that Oswald was a communist quickly changed from an inconvenience to proof of something even more sinister. How, liberals asked, could a card-carrying Marxist murder a liberal titan on the side of social progress? The fact that Kennedy was a raging anti-communist seemed not to register, perhaps because liberals had convinced themselves, in the wake of the McCarthy era, that the real threat to liberty must always come from the right. Oswald's Marxism sent liberals into even deeper denial, their only choice other than to abandon anti-anti-communism. And so, over the course of the 1960s, the conspiracy theories metastasized, and the Marxist gunman became a patsy.

Johnson, as the book shows, did what Kennedy probably would not have done, that is, support, in the form of the Great Society legislation, the progressive state-olatry which is quintessential fascism, but nice.

In these chapters, along with history of the Cornell take-over (which had escaped my notice) is this little know inconvenient fact about the HUAC (from p. 224):

There is a modern notion that liberals didn't disapprove of or oppose anti-communism; they just opposed McCarthyite excesses. The problem is that communists and liberals have always made allowances for McCarthyite tactics when it is one of their enemies getting grilled. The House Un-American Activities Committee, after all, was founded by a progressive Democrat, Samuel Dickstein, to investigate German sympathizers. During the barely remembered "Brown scare" of the 1940s, everyone from real Nazi supporters--the German-American Bund, for example--to misguided isolationists was targeted and harassed...

One might excuse such tactics as a necessary evil in the fight against Nazism. But the more poignant hypocrisy is that American communists did the same thing to other American communists. The Smith Act, which made it illegal to belong to an organization that advocated the overthrow of the United States, was a linchpin of American fascism, according to many leftists. But American communists themselves used the Smith Act to get American Trotskyites arrested during the war.

With the modern left's obsession with conservative hypocrisy, it's good to be reminded of its as often as possible.

Of particular interest to the modern conservative reader is the tactic, which started during the 1960s, to pigeon hole conservatives with the fascist label as described by Jonah (from p. 237):

Conservatives were caught in a trap. If you rejected the concept of the omnipotent state, it was proof that you hated those whom government sought to help. And the only way to prove you didn't hate them--whoever "they" were--was to support government intervention (or "affirmative action," in Kennedy's phrase) on their behalf. The idea of a "good conservative" was oxymoronic. Conservatism by definition "holds us back"--leaves some "behind"--when we all know that the solution to every problem lies just around the corner.

Even Ann Coulter would tip her hat to that subtle use of sarcasm. But there's more of what Laura Ingraham plays fight sounds to on her radio show (from p. 244):

The American right is constantly required to own the darkest chapters in the country's history: the accommodation of segregationism, McCarthyite excesses, isolationism prior to World War II, and so on. Rarely mentioned is the liberal side of these stories, in which the Democratic Party was the home to Jim Crow for a century; in which American liberalism was at least as isolationist as
American conservatism; in which the progressive Red Scare made McCarthyism look like an Oxford Union debate; in which successive Democratic presidents ordered such things as the detention of Japanese-Americans. sweeping domestic surveillance, and the (justified) use of horrific weapons on Japan; and in which Moscow-loyal communists "named names" of heretical Trotskyites.

Jonah has a good overview of the left's embrace of eugenics, far beyond Margaret Sanger's well documented desire to have less dark skinned Americans through birth control, but to the point where Hitler was learning evil ways from us. Here's Jonah on the modern artifacts in the left's thinking from the early eugenicists (from p. 254):
Progressivism was born of the fascist moment and has never faced up to its inheritance. Today's liberals have inherited progressive prejudice wholesale,
believing that traditionalists and religious conservatives are dangerous threats
to progress. But this assumption means that liberals are blind to fascistic threats from their own ranks.

Meanwhile, conservative religious and political dogma--under relentless attack from the left--may be the single greatest bulwark against eugenic schemes. Who rejects cloning most forcefully? Who is more troubled by euthanasia, abortion, and playing God in the laboratory? Good dogma is the most powerful inhibiting influence against bad ideas and the only guarantor that men will act on good ones. A conservative nation that seriously wondered if destroying a blastocyst is murder would not wonder at all whether it is murder to kill an eight-and-a-half-month-old fetus, let alone a "defective" infant.

When the book turns to Hillary Clinton (in her own chapter) and to modern times, it is much less like a history book and more like an NRO opinion piece, a well reasoned, generally dead on opinion piece. Behold (from p. 360 et seq.):

The simple fact of the matter is this: liberals are the aggressors in the
culture wars. Why this should seem a controversial point is somewhat baffling. It is manifestly clear that traditionalists are defending their way of life against the so-called forces of progress. When feminist groups finally persuaded the courts to force the Virginia Military Institute to accept women, who was the aggressor? Whose values were being imposed? Which side's activists boast of being "agents of change"? My point is not that the forces of change are always wrong. Far from it. My point is that the left is dishonest when it pretends that it is not in the business of imposing its values on others.

...there's a larger point behind the effort to cast opponents of change as fascists: to make change itself the natural order by ridiculing the very notionof a natural order. The underlying dogma of those movies is that social and gender roles are not fixed, that tradition, religion, and natural law have no binding power or authority over the individual's will to power, and that the day we make the mistake of thinking otherwise was the day we took a tragic Wrong Turn.

After discussing the Nazi Kulturkampf, Jonah pens his most controversial statement regarding the modern cultural war by the left (from p. 368):
The white male is the Jew of liberal fascism.

That single sentence is apparently sticking in the craw of nearly every lefty aware of it. The truth no doubt hurts. Jonah has plenty of ammunition to support that statement, unnecessary for those who take an interest in the recent political sphere.

Here's another solid complaint about liberal tactics and an explanation for the necessity of the book (from p. 392 et seq.):

Ever since I joined the public conversation as a conservative writer, I've been called a fascist and a Nazi by smug, liberal know-nothings, sublimely confident of the truth of their ill-informed prejudices. Responding to this slander is, as a point of personal privilege alone, a worthwhile endeavor. More important, as a conservative I actually believe that that conservative policies will be better for America. From school choice to free markets to advancing democracy around the world, I believe that conservatives are, for the most part, correct. When conservative proposals are rebuffed with insinuations of fascist motives, it not only cheapens public discourse but also helps beat back much-needed reforms, and it does so not through argument but through intimidation. Surely, it is no small matter that our public discourse is corrupted in this way and I have written this book largely to set the record straight and to educate myself--and others--about the real meaning and nature of fascism.

Here's a Parthian shot regarding the left's smiley-face fascism (from p. 393):

Many progressives seem to think we can transform America into a vast
college campus where food, shelter, and recreation are all provided for us and the only crime is to be mean to somebody else, particularly a minority.

A palpable hit, there. But Jonah does not only criticize the left. In the section on the real fascistic tendencies of the Republican party lately, he does not hold back. Indeed, both the difficult-for-me-to-describe Pat Buchannan and our current president come under cogent, deserved criticism near the end of the book. Disguised as such criticism is this long, actual restatement of the essential anti-fascism Creed of modern conservatism (from p. 402 et seq.):

What many conservatives, including Bush and Buchannan, fail to grasp is that conservatism is neither identity politics for Christian and/or white people
nor right-wing Progressivism. Rather, it is opposition to all forms of political
religion. It is a rejection of the idea that politics can be redemptive. It is the conviction that a properly ordered republic has a government of limited ambition. A conservative in Portugal may want to conserve the monarchy. A conservative in China is determined to preserve the prerogatives of the Communist Party. But in America, as Friedrich Hayek and others have noted, a conservative is one who protects and defends what are considered liberal institutions in Europe but largely conservative ones in America: private property, free markets, individual liberty, freedom of conscience, and the rights of communities to determine for themselves how they will live within these guidelines. This is why conservatism, classical liberalism, libertarianism and Whiggism are different flags for the only truly radical political revolution in a thousand years. The American founding stands within this tradition, and modern conservatives seek to advance and defend it. American conservatives are opposed on principal to neither change nor progress; no conservative today wishes to restore slavery or get rid of paper money. But what the conservative understands is that progress comes from working out inconsistencies within our tradition, not by throwing it away.

If only someone would run on the planks of that platform!

Liberal Fascism can provide one with a slow, careful, pleasurable read. We here at XDA are grateful for the additional ammunition against the smug, liberal know-nothings who throw the term fascist and Nazi at the wrong side of the political axis. Or should I say political aisle? A lot of conservative books I buy end up, read once, on the bookshelf. This one, I believe, will be often referred to.



This Day in the History of Searching for Effective Generals

On this day in 1863, General Joseph Hooker replaced General Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac. Better, but not good enough. One of the South's greatest victories, at Chancellorsville, was against Fighting Joe, whose forces then outnumbered the Army of Northern Virginia 2 to 1. We do have a verbal remnant of his tenure as general of the Army of the Potomac, using the term 'hookers' for prostitutes. The general imported them from D.C. for his men and the grateful troops, knowing what side of the toast the butter was on, started calling them hookers. The name stuck.
Possibly not the historical legacy he was hoping for.



Thought of the Day

Health care is too expensive, so the Clinton administration is putting a high-powered coporate lawyer -- Hillary -- in charge of making it cheaper. (This is what I always do when I want to spend less money -- hire a lawyer from Yale.) If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.

P.J. O'Rourke


Thursday, January 24, 2008


Is There Life on Mars?

No, of course not. What are you, nuts?

First there was the face (left) which turned out to be nothing but a mesa like hill when we took photos with greater resolution (below).

Now there's the goddess (below) in a photograph with great resolution. Whoa! Except here is the full photograph (click on the second photo below to make it as large as possible--the 'figure' is in the lower left corner) and you can tell the thing is about 2 inches tall. Not the magnificent artifact of the lost Martian civilization we were all hoping for.

It's a wind sculpted pebble.




Even Saddam Wanted The World To Think He Had WMD's......

(CBS) Saddam Hussein initially didn't think the U.S. would invade Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction, so he kept the fact that he had none a secret to prevent an Iranian invasion he believed could happen. The Iraqi dictator revealed this thinking to George Piro, the FBI agent assigned to interrogate him after his capture. Piro, in his first television interview, relays this and other revelations to 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley this Sunday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. Piro spent almost seven months debriefing Saddam in a plan based on winning his confidence by convincing him that Piro was an important envoy who answered to President Bush. This and being Saddam's sole provider of items like writing materials and toiletries made the toppled Iraqi president open up to Piro, a Lebanese-American and one of the few FBI agents who spoke Arabic. "He told me he initially miscalculated... President Bush’s intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998...a four-day aerial attack," says Piro. "He survived that one and he was willing to accept that type of attack." "He didn't believe the U.S. would invade?" asks Pelley, "No, not initially," answers Piro. Once the invasion was certain, says Piro, Saddam asked his generals if they could hold the invaders for two weeks. "And at that point, it would go into what he called the secret war," Piro tells Pelley. But Piro isn’t convinced that the insurgency was Saddam's plan. "Well, he would like to take credit for the insurgency," says Piro. Saddam still wouldn't admit he had no weapons of mass destruction, even when it was obvious there would be military action against him because of the perception he did. Because, says Piro, "For him, it was critical that he was seen as still the strong, defiant Saddam. He thought that [faking having the weapons] would prevent the Iranians from reinvading Iraq," he tells Pelley. He also intended and had the wherewithal to restart the weapons program. "Saddam] still had the engineers. The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there," says Piro. "He wanted to pursue all of WMD…to reconstitute his entire WMD program." This included chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, Piro says. Saddam bragged that he changed his routine and security to elude capture. "What he wanted to really illustrate is…how he was able to outsmart us," says Piro. "He told me he changed…the way he traveled. He got rid of his normal vehicles. He got rid of the protective detail that he traveled with, really just to change his signature." It took nine months to finally capture Saddam, but U.S. calculations on where he might be early on turned out to be accurate. Saddam was at Dora Farms early in the war when the known presidential site was targeted with tons of bombs and many missiles. "He said it in a kind of a bragging fashion that he was there, but that we missed him. He wasn't bothered by the fact that he was there," Piro tells Pelley.


This Day in the History of Islam

On this day in 661, Caliph Ali ibn Abu Talib, son-in-law of Mohammed (PBUH), was assassinated and his followers thereafter started their own Muslim group. This was the start of the Shi'ite/Sunni split in Islam. One of the things that has kept the split alive, and deadly, is that most Shia (the new group) are Persian while most Sunni are Arabs. Before we Christians, however, look down our nose at the poor, benighted Muslim who have spilled so much blood over so little, we would do well to recall the Thirty Years War and the centuries of bloodshed between Catholic and Protestant which has only recently quieted down. I've been both Catholic and Protestant and there is not a dime's worth of difference between those two large branches of the Christian religion, certainly nothing worth killing someone over.



Thought of the Day

You can't get good chinese takeout in China and cuban cigars are rationed in Cuba. That's all you need to know about communism.

P.J. O'Rourke


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


This Day in the History of Correcting Big Mistakes Way Too Late

On this day in 1865, General John Bell Hood was removed as commander of the Army of Tennessee. He had asked to be removed weeks earlier. Hood had fought well during the Seven Days and at Antietam. There are historians who think he saved Lee with a well timed counter-attack during the latter battle. He was a non-factor in the next two battles where he was severely wounded at Gettysburg and lost a leg at Chickamauga. He should not have been placed in charge of the 65,000 strong Army of Tennessee in July, 1864 because he didn't get the political situation (as the man he replaced, General Joseph Johnston, did). The South had merely not to lose big, while continuing to bleed the Yankees, and the Copperhead Democrats would win the November elections and quit the war. As was his idiom, however, he attacked and attacked and attacked and lost every time. With the victory he handed the North at Atlanta, Lincoln held on in the elections. But Hood wasn't finished. He lost badly at Franklin and at Nashville and by the time he was removed the once proud Army of Tennessee had at most 18,000 men many combat ineffective.



Thought of the Day

A cult is a religion with no political power.

Tom Wolfe


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


This Day in the History of Poorly Reasoned Decisions

On this day in 1973, The Supreme Court delivered its decision in Roe v. Wade which held that states could not ban abortions in the first trimesters of pregnancy due to a woman's right to privacy. There is no such right in the Constitution and no such right existed in the late 18th Century to come under the unnamed rights recognized by the 9th and 10th Amendments. I have been all over the board about abortion but have finally arrived at this position: Human life starts at conception but doesn't have any Constitutional rights until birth. That makes abortion immoral but not illegal. Still, I would ban it if I could figure out a way to stop abortion without killing more women, which I can't. Hollywood could help with more pro-life movies.



Thought of the Day

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Monday, January 21, 2008


This Day in the History of Forgiving the Shirkers Who Tresspass Against Us

On this day in 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardoned unconditionally the several hundred thousand Viet Nam era draft dodgers, nearly 100,000 of which had fled the country, mostly to Canada. Modern lefties are very hard on those who did not serve actively in Viet Nam in the 60s and 70s, calling them 'chickenhawks,' however it was the lefty ideal to avoid the draft and a lefty who pardoned those who did; additionally, the last Democrat president avoided the draft illegally. Both President Bush and his last opponent Senator Kerry (D-MA) avoided the draft by joining the reserves of the air force and navy respectively. Kerry's outfit was nationalized and he went to war. Bush's outfit was not. What a chickenhawk!



Thought of the Day

Maximum in eo vitium est, qui non melioribus vult placere, sed pluribus.

Seneca the Younger

His greatest fault was his desire not to please the best people, but to please the most.


Sunday, January 20, 2008


This Day in the History of Evil

On this day in 1942, when how the war would end had recently, dramatically become no longer really in doubt, Reinhard Heydrich, along with Adolph Eichmann, the recording secretary of the meeting, and 13 other National Socialist officials met for 85 minutes at a villa (still extant) in Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin, and discussed and decided Die Endlösung der Judenfrage, the final solution to the Jewish question. Various proposals were discussed, including mass sterilization (using X-Rays) and deportation to Madagascar. Heydrich proposed simply transporting Jews from every corner Europe to concentration camps in Poland and working them to death. Most thought this was a good idea but too slow. Although the word "extermination" was never uttered during the meeting, the implication was clear; anyone who survived the egregious conditions of a work camp would be "treated accordingly." The final solution became murder on an industrial scale; the method was to be asphyxiation, at first with carbon monoxide from idling engines and then with more active killing gasses, the most used was Zyklon B (hydrocianic acid) which proved the most efficient means of killing large groups of people at one time. It is difficult to imagine a more heinous, cold bloodedly evil decision.



Thought of the Day

Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood.

William Penn


Saturday, January 19, 2008


Friday Movie Reviews (Catch-up Edition)

Saw Cloverfield just now and No Country for Old Men and Charlie Wilson's War a bit ago. Here are the 8 word reviews followed by longer ones below for true fans.

Cloverfield--Blair Witch Project meets Miracle Mile versus Godzilla.

No Country for Old Men--Intense and well-made, exciting, violent, but ultimately pointless.

Charlie Wilson's War--Good movie but not history, Reagan loosed Stingers.

Let's start with Cloverfield. Loved it. LOVED IT! And I would have hated another remake of Godzilla. The use of the video camera, no name actors, no music until well into the credits, no explanation from a scientist or a voice over, created a very easy suspension of disbelief (if I can use that phrase without rancor after Hillary Clinton used it to insult General Petraeus) which suspension is absolutely key to enjoying this flick. I was so with those SoHo yuppies as they entered a nearly surrealistic world where an alien looking giant monster is attacking New York City. It is an exciting amusement park ride.

The team that brought it to the screen is producer J.J. Abrams (who has done a lot in Hollywood, including writing Armageddon and Mission Impossible III and creating Lost); second tier director Matt Reeves, who directed The Pallbearer 12 years ago and retreated into TV thereafter and writer Drew Goddard, who wrote for Josh Whedon stuff (not Firefly) and also for Lost and Alias. Abrams has said the monster is a deep sea baby which as 'slept' for a 100,000 years. Not a chance. For one thing, it is too dense to be aquatic (a direct hit from a ton bomb on its back does nothing, absolutely nothing but piss it off). Second, in the final scene on the tape (not recorded over by Hud) when the two lovers were at Coney Island, something large pretty clearly falls from the sky and lands in the ocean way off to the left. There was a 'viral' internet publicity project which utilized two of Abrams' 'creations' Slusho and Tagruato, but I think those were head fakes, just as the name of the movie was a concealing code they apparently decided to stick with.

Besides the overwhelming mystery of the monster, there is the mystery of the parasitic crab monsters. What, in fact, does their bite do to you? Everyone says it's a rip off from Alien, but I saw it as an execution by military in hazmat suits. Something nasty happens from the bite for sure. The first 20 minutes were there to let you know the characters who will try to survive, but I didn't care for any of them. I admired the pluck of Rob Hawkins but that was about it. Marlene showed some grit but was too much a sour girl to like; the other good looking ones were uni- dimensional. They and the video camera (with an atomic battery I conclude) could take an awful lot of punishment and not be hurt at all, much like the monster. The movie was about perfect length, that is, short, but you ought to stay for the credits--is it 'Help us!' of 'It's still alive'? I couldn't tell. Of note to local types is the fact that Hud was played by an East High School grad (following in the footsteps of Pam Grier and Don Cheadle).

The idea that the Soviet misadventure in Afghanistan both brought down the Soviet Union and caused the rise of Muslim extremism is tenuous history at best. It's pop psychobabblehistory. Although, it certainly did not help the creaking old empire to lose big to the wily Pushtun and we should have been doing a lot more to help the Mujaheddin from the beginning. Mike Nichols directed and Aaron Sorkin developed (60 Minutes producer) George Crile's book of the same name into a screen play. With those three lefties at the creative helm, it's no wonder that President Reagan isn't mentioned once in the film. Sorkin, you might recall, wrote A Few Good Men, Malice and The American President before going to television with Sports Night, The West Wing and his personal Waterloo, Studio 60 which barely lasted a season. Many of those created the alternate reality of a Democrat president where there actually was none. This movie is in that same alternate reality where the Carter failed presidency apparently lasted until 1989. It is true that we didn't take care of our good will in Afghanistan but the Afghans themselves destroyed the part of their country not destroyed by the Russians with a brutal civil war that only ended with the rise of the horrible Taliban (still extant, unfortunately). Not our fault (or our problem absent Osama bin Laden). Tom Hanks, as the title character, is good, but not great; Julia Roberts is pretty good but her character is not a stretch for her, I believe. However, it is homely actor Philip Seymour Hoffman who, as usual, steals nearly every scene he is in as CIA 'maverick' Gust Avrakotos.

Here's the straight dope on the Stinger missiles, et al. Reagan first mentioned using Stingers against Soviet aircraft a few weeks after the Soviets invaded, in late December, 1979. He suggested early on that we funnel the weapons through Pakistan. He also signed the document (still fully redacted), NSDD 166, which released the Stingers into the arms pipeline to Afghanistan--not Charlie Wilson (one of the dying breed of Scoop Jackson Democrats) nor President Carter, but Ronald Reagan and his administration including, importantly enough, CIA head Bill Casey and NSA Bill Clark. Close watchers of this film might well go "who?" That's the film's major and lasting failure.

Still, it is a funny, well paced pleasure, testimony to the skills of Mike Nichols and Aaron Sorkin, but not their politics. See it and then read some real history.

I've saved the best for last. Like a lot of the Coen brothers' efforts, No Country for Old Men is a serious movie and one that should only get better with time and repeated viewing, unlike Fargo, which was best once, but more like The Big Lebowski, which really grows on you. It is all about guns and killing. I should have loved it, but I didn't. I had instead an empty feeling, and not a good empty feeling at that. I think the main source of the emptiness is the writer of the book on which the film is based, Cormac McCarthy, who is a bit overrated in my book. Is this just a mythical story of the wild west lawlessness of the drug trade in west Texas in 1980? Is it an exegesis on violence itself? Is it a deep meditation on the human condition? Is it, as my son suggested (out of left field) an allegory about United States foreign policy? I don't know. That's not a good thing.

There is a major mystery before the dream descriptions which end the thing. We know that evil incarnate Bardem kills the wife (why check his shoes for blood if he spared her like one of the gas retailers?) and gets the money, but how does he escape from Tommy Lee Jones in the hotel room where Josh Brolin bought it? I have no freakin' idea. Some people don't believe he was actually in there but it was Jones' nightmare that he was. Then why see Jones' reflection in the metal of the lock if it is just an idea from Jones? My eldest suggested that he hid under the bed. I'm willing to believe that, but I have no reason to. Why not just kill Tommy Lee? He's killed about 20 guys already, some of them for no apparent reason, none at all.

I'm not happy about the car accident either--is it a fate versus chance thing made real or karma for the killer? Again no idea. I'm still feeling bad, after nearly 30 human deaths, about the gutshot pronghorn Brolin failed to follow, so the violence apparently hit me like a feather pillow. That can't be good either. There were a few things I thought were difficult to believe: The silenced shotgun; the idea Bardem's ass was so narrow he could get the cuffs in front of him with no visible problem; and why Woody didn't fetch the money as soon as he found it--what, did he want to change his shoes? Really dumb. I don't know why Bardem kills the two guys at the 'mess'. I don't know who they are. I don't know why Stephen Root (from Dodgeball) sends Woody to kill Bardem. And I especially don't know what the two dreams Tommy Lee narates to Molly, at the end of the film, mean. The redeeming fact is that I want to.

It is a disturbing, gritty, tense, real and surreal film with big aspirations and possibly the substance to fulfill them. A must see movie, even if you don't like it.



This Day in the History of Forgiving Those Who Tresspass Against Us

On this day in 1977, President Ford pardoned Iva Toguri D'Aquino, one of several of the golden throated women who broadcast propaganda for the Japanese and who were each known as "Tokyo Rose".



Thought of the Day

Nothing you can't spell will ever work.

Will Rogers


Friday, January 18, 2008


This Day in the History of Ultimately No Big Deals

On this day in 1871, William of Prussia was crowned the first German emperor.

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Thought of the Day

It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it.

Robert E. Lee (after Fredericksburg)


Thursday, January 17, 2008


Anomaly of Anomalies

I've spent some time watching the northern sea ice rebound from the Summer low (and the record Antarctic sea ice melt away in the Southern Hemisphere Summer) over at the University of Illinois's site called The Cryosphere Today. I have no real doubt about the accuracy of the data there. Or rather I should say 'had.' Both the 365 day graph, left, and the long 28 year account below have the Northern Hemisphere sea ice (I use that term because they chart areas outside the Arctic Ocean) as about .8 or .9 million square kilometers down from the normal as shown by satellite measurement between 1979 and the year 2000. OK.

However, the site has subdivided the Northern Hemisphere sea ice regions into 12 areas of sea ice which the site also charts individually; and if you add the local areas which are down, take away from that sum the areas where the ice amount is above the 'normal,' the figure is .56. That's a big difference from between .8 and .9. Too big, in my mind, for the error to be conducive to further belief in the accuracy of the site. I'll see if I can get an answer from them about this anomaly and report back.
UPDATE: In what I think is good news, I note that the 356 day chart shows that the sea ice area is now well above 12 million square km, where last year, at this time, it was well below that number. Good recovery from Summer indeed.



The Finale of the Dirty Bomber

On Tuesday, Muslim terrorist supporter (and cause celebre for the left) Abdullah al-Muhajir, aka Jose Padilla, was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of 30 years to life for his activities as a terrorist supporter and conspirator (and not for the dirty bomb conspiracy) for which he faced trial (and was convicted) last August.



This Day in the History of Democratic Liars

On this day in 1998, President Clinton lied his ass off under oath about the numerous sexual liaisons he had with White House intern and employee Monica Lewinsky, denying he ever had any sexual relationship with her when the truth was she blew him more than a dozen times in and around the oval office.



Thought of the Day

Pauci dinoscere possunt vera bona atque illis multum diversa; nocitura toga, nocitura petuntur militia.


Few can distinguish between true good and its many opposites; in toga and in uniform, we seek out what will harm us.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Who is This Uncommitted Person?

Hillary Clinton was the only serious name on the ballot in the Michigan Democratic Primary and write-ins were not allowed. So it seemed a safe bet she would win (much safer than predicting Romney over McCain). However, 40% voted for uncommitted rather than for her, and of that number a large number were black. Indeed, the black Democratic (redundant, I know) vote split 70-30 for uncommitted. If that's the split in South Carolina, Obama is right back into it.



This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 27 B.C., the Republic ended and the Empire and the Pax Romana began as the Senate proclaimed Ocatavian Rome's first Emperor "Augustus." Then things got really interesting.

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Thought of the Day

Folks, I'm just going to tell you something. If cheap unskilled labor is what this country needs to continue to be the major player in the world that it is, if cheap unskilled labor is precisely the key to continued prosperity and economic growth and the maintenance of our superpower status, then Mexico ought to be right behind us, because they lead the world in it. Every nation that has cheap, unskilled labor ought to be threatening our status as world superpower. I've never heard anything more absurd. I have never heard anything more insulting, that without cheap labor, we can't survive as we have always known the United States to be.

Rush Limbaugh



CIA, Rodriguez and " Implicit Support "

Via Captain Ed

Did The Buck Stop With Rodriguez?
The videotapes containing interrogations of al-Qaeda terrorists, including depictions of waterboarding, got destroyed because the man who ordered the action believed he had "implicit support" to do so from the CIA, according to his lawyer. Jose Rodriguez acted on requests from the CIA station chief in Bangkok to resolve the status of the tapes before the chief's retirement. After consultations with CIA lawyers and other officials in the agency, Rodriguez believed he could act to destroy the tapes and all of the evidence they contained:

In late 2005, the retiring CIA station chief in Bangkok sent a classified cable to his superiors in Langley asking if he could destroy videotapes recorded at a secret CIA prison in Thailand that in part portrayed intelligence officers using simulated drowning to extract information from suspected al-Qaeda members.
The tapes had been sitting in the station chief's safe, in the U.S. Embassy compound, for nearly three years. Although those involved in the interrogations had pushed for the tapes' destruction in those years and a secret debate about it had twice reached the White House, CIA officials had not acted on those requests. This time was different.
The CIA had a new director and an acting general counsel, neither of whom sought to block the destruction of the tapes, according to agency officials. The station chief was insistent because he was retiring and wanted to resolve the matter before he left, the officials said. And in November 2005, a published report that detailed a secret CIA prison system provoked an international outcry.
Those three circumstances pushed the CIA's then-director of clandestine operations, Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., to act against the earlier advice of at least five senior CIA and White House officials, who had counseled the agency since 2003 that the tapes should be preserved. Rodriguez consulted CIA lawyers and officials, who told him that he had the legal right to order the destruction. In his view, he received their implicit support to do so, according to his attorney, Robert S. Bennett.

Implicit support? That's an interesting term to use when defending someone over a potentially criminal act. Bennett's construction appears to concede that Rodriguez never sought approval for his actions, or at least never got explicit approval for the destruction of the tapes. It makes it sound like Rodriguez made the decision and that the responsibility ends at his desk.
If this is the best that Rodriguez can do, don't expect him to get immunity soon. Congress and the Department of Justice won't grant immunity unless they have a probability of going higher up the food chain at the CIA. This statement essentially concedes that on the question of the destruction of the tapes, at least, no one can go any higher than Rodriguez -- which will certainly disappoint those who wanted the scandal to reach into the Oval Office, or at least Blair House.
However, another question exists. The CIA materially misrepresented the facts when it denied having any recordings of interrogations to the court in the Zacarias Moussaoui case, and potentially to Congress as well when it began looking into waterboarding as an interrogation practice. That is where the obstruction of justice claims rest, and Rodriguez' statement indicates that plenty of people at the CIA knew about those tapes -- including its legal counsel. On that question, the DoJ may want Rodriguez' cooperation, and may have to pay for it with immunity, or at least a plea bargain.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Even More About the Arctic Ocean Ice Cap

As you can see from the photo, at the end of this Summer, the ice cap had melted a lot (look at the photo on the left--the sea ice is purple). Indeed, the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was at a minimum since we could see the thing from space. Now the area of concern, near the pole, is 100% back. Check out the graph below. So was last Summer a case of 'No harm, no foul'? Or was it a harbinger of a blue ocean Arctic in Summer in the semi-near future?



Thought of the Day

All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.

M. C. Richards


Monday, January 14, 2008


Thought of the Day

Any community's arm of force - military, police, security - needs people in it who can do necessary evil, and yet not be made evil by it. To do only the necessary and no more. To constantly question the assumptions, to stop the slide into atrocity.

Lois McMaster Bujold


Thursday, January 10, 2008


Thought of the Day

If the human mind was simple enough to understand, we'd be too simple to understand it.

Emerson Pugh


Wednesday, January 09, 2008


A Closer Look at the Arctic Ocean

The Cryosphere Today website covers the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans' sea ice and says in the north it's about .6 million square miles below the 20 year normal (as measured since 1979 by satellite). So is that generally less sea ice throughout the Arctic Ocean or is it specifically in one or two areas?

Turns out it's in a few areas with the rest about normal or even above normal (Hudson Bay and the sea between Baffin Island and Greenland have more sea ice than usual). The main areas with less ice are north or east of Siberia and the worst place for sea ice is the Barents Sea, a triangle of ocean between the easternmost part of Norway, Svalbard Island and Novaya Zemlya. That area is .35 million square miles below normal, roughly half of the negative anomaly. Why?

I have no clue.

I do notice that the sea ice graph and the anomaly graph were in synch but are now generally mirror images of one another. What's up with that?

Most of the other graphs don't look like that.



Thought of the Day

Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.

Edward R. Murrow


Tuesday, January 08, 2008


WaPo and WSJ actually agree..Dems Clueless on Iraq

Via Captain Ed

WaPo, WSJ Agree: Democrats Clueless On Iraq
How often do the editorial boards of the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal not only agree, but coincide on foreign policy? Rarely enough so that today's twin broadsides on the Democratic presidential contenders is worthy of special notice. Both editorial boards scold the Democrats for not only getting Iraq wrong, but also for seriously misrepresenting the progress achieved through the surge.
The Post's criticisms get tart indeed:

A reasonable response to these facts might involve an acknowledgment of the remarkable military progress, coupled with a reminder that the final goal of the surge set out by President Bush -- political accords among Iraq's competing factions -- has not been reached. (That happens to be our reaction to a campaign that we greeted with skepticism a year ago.) It also would involve a willingness by the candidates to reconsider their long-standing plans to carry out a rapid withdrawal of remaining U.S. forces in Iraq as soon as they become president -- a step that would almost certainly reverse the progress that has been made.
What Ms. Clinton, Mr. Obama, John Edwards and Bill Richardson instead offered was an exclusive focus on the Iraqi political failures -- coupled with a blizzard of assertions about the war that were at best unfounded and in several cases simply false. Mr. Obama led the way, claiming that Sunni tribes in Anbar province joined forces with U.S. troops against al-Qaeda in response to the Democratic victory in the 2006 elections -- a far-fetched assertion for which he offered no evidence.
Mr. Obama acknowledged some reduction of violence, but said he had predicted that adding troops would have that effect. In fact, on Jan. 8, 2007, he said that in the absence of political progress, "I don't think 15,000 or 20,000 more troops is going to make a difference in Iraq and in Baghdad." He also said he saw "no evidence that additional American troops would change the behavior of Iraqi sectarian politicians and make them start reining in violence by members of their religious groups." Ms. Clinton, for her part, refused to retract a statement she made in September, when she said it would require "a suspension of disbelief" to believe that the surge was working.

In fact, the Journal notes that only after it became clear that the US would not follow the Democratic policies of defeat and retreat did the Anbar sheikhs sign onto the Awakening in full:

But the Sunni Awakening, as it is called, with its fall in bloodshed, occurred only after the Anbar Sunnis were convinced that the U.S. troops would not abandon them to al Qaeda in Iraq. Sunni sheiks have said explicitly it was the new U.S. policy of sustaining the offensive against AQI that made it possible for them to resist the jihadists. The U.S. military has supported the spread of these "awakening councils" in other areas of Iraq. It is navel-gazing in the extreme for Mr. Obama to suggest U.S. Congressional elections caused this turn.

Both Obama and Clinton have track records on the surge and Iraq that they have to explain away with half-truths and foggy memories. As the Post noted, both of them tried to push an unconstitutional hijacking of military command from the executive to the legislature. Not only should they answer for their wrong-headedness on policy, but they should also be forced to explain whether they would as President allow Congress to intrude on the role of Commander in Chief so baldly and illegally.

The Journal wonders whether these candidates have become so self-contained that they think they can say anything on national TV and get away with it. The Journal forgets that the candidates right now are speaking to only the true believers in the primary process. They're playing sing-along on defeatism, and no one wants to hear that the Left had it wrong all along. Hillary's refusal to retract her "willing suspension of disbelief" comment underscores the willing suspension of reality that the anti-war activists on the Left have promoted.
This, of course, is hardly new. What's new is that the Post, an establishment center-left paper, has come to the same conclusion as the Journal.


Beauty of the Local System

Jupiter and its moon Io in a composite photo. On Io there is a volcanic eruption going on (red dot at about 4 o'clock) with a blue plume above it.



This Day in the History of Democratic Sisyphean Projects

On this day in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. 44 years later, the percentage of poor is exactly the same as it was at at that time, but the American taxpayers are out $11 Trillion, with a T. While the standard of living of most of the poor in America is about the same as the lower middle class in the rest of the world, nothing Johnson did or started caused that.



Thought of the Day

Fretting about overpopulation is a perfect guilt-free—indeed, sanctimonious—way for “progressives” to be racists.

P. J. O’Rourke


Sunday, January 06, 2008


Thought of the Day

I think the fact of the matter is that Sen. Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn't work out, in which case she says she has nothing to do with it. There is no doubt that Bill Clinton had faith in her and consulted with her on issues, in the same way that I would consult with Michelle, if there were issues. On the other had, I don't think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States Senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I've done.

Barack Obama

(There's a reason this guy is headed for the Democratic nomination).


Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Report on the American War Dead in Iraq and Afghanistan

Things have gotten much, much better. As announced by the Department of Defense during the month of December 2007, 21 Americans in the armed forces died in Iraq and 5 in Afghanistan for a total of 26, less than one a day. Here's the breakdown.

In Iraq, 10 died from IED explosions, one was killed in a accident (in Kuwait), three from non combat causes, one from what was only called enemy actions, and two, Austin Pratt and Peter Neesley, in situations which are being investigated. Only four were killed by small arms. That is not a lot of combat any way you look at it.

In Afghanistan, three were killed by IEDs, one died from a non combat related illness and one from a non combat cause. That's almost no combat at all.

No women died but we lost three officers--Captain Adam Snyder, 1st Lt. Jeremy Ray and Captain Rowdy Inman.

Yeah, the surge change in tactics has failed and the Taliban is poised to retake Afghanistan.

It is incredible to me that there are sentient Americans (all on the Left, apparently) who believe those false talking points. It's a wilful ignorance. There is no other way to explain it.



Thought of the Day

It looks like the Soviet approach to science is taking over the US now. Climate scientists are going to have to choose sides in scientific debates based not on empirical evidence subjected to the scientific method, but on whether they want to succeed in their careers. Want a life? Say global warming is real. Want to end up working as a substitute science teacher? Say what you really think.

Steve H. at Hog on Ice


Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Thought of the Day

When conservatives talk about supporting the troops, they mean doing everything possible to help them win the war they're fighting. Liberals never seem to talk about victory, but rather see "support" as turning soldiers and veterans into another victim group, dependent on government health and welfare services.

Will it work? So far, at least, I think a large majority of our service personnel think of themselves as warriors rather than participants in a social welfare program. But there is a certain logic to the Democrats' approach: if one's only concern is the safety of the troops, the simple solution is never to fight. And if, like most liberals, you have no intention of ever fighting, then you might as well take credit for keeping the troops safe. But that isn't what most Americans, or most soldiers, have in mind when they think of an effective military.

John Hinderaker


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