Saturday, September 29, 2012


Peter Beinart's Sloppy History

I read Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's recent speech in the UN. I liked it very much and to say it outclassed our President's apologia pro vita Islamica is to damn it with faint praise. Not everyone liked it, however, including the fading boy wonder, Peter Beinart, who writes about the speech here.

Netaznyahu's position is that mutual assured destruction (MAD), which is credited with keeping the Cold War from ever getting nuclear hot, won't work with Iran. Unlike the Soviets and Chi-Coms, they are not rational actors in Tehran; and indeed they look upon the assured retaliation for an Iranian nuclear strike on Tel Aviv, and perhaps on Israel's capital, Jerusalem, as well, as the thing necessary to return the 12th Imam and assure Islamic supremacy over all the world.

As far-fetched as that sounds, I believe it is all true. That is, Iranians in charge believe it, not that the 12th Imam will return after Israel nukes most Iranian cities in retaliation for its first strike on Israel. Iran is willing to take the hits, however. Iran will not be prevented from using a nuclear weapon because of its assured destruction thereafter. MAD won't work on Islamic extremists who, on a microscale, are willing to end their own life merely to kill one or two Israelis with a car bomb or a bomb vest, or to kill other Muslims with whom they disagree for that matter. Because MAD won't work, Israel has to prevent Iran from getting the fissionable materials for an atomic weapon.

Beinart's  piece is titled "Bibi's Botched History Lesson" but rather than talk about the gist of the talk, as one would expect would be appropriate given the severity of the problem, a looming second Shoah, Beinart dabbles ineffectively in revisionist history on minor points Netanyahu made. Behold.

Netanyahu approvingly cited NATO, whose charter “made clear that an attack on one member would be considered an attack on all.” According to Bibi, “NATO’s red line helped keep the peace in Europe for nearly half a century.” Yes, but NATO established a red line against Soviet attack. If the USSR invaded West Berlin, to use the most often-discussed scenario, the United States would be obligated to come to West Germany’s defense. What NATO self-consciously did not do was draw a red line against a Soviet bomb.

Peter says "Yes, but..." to Bibi's abbreviated history of the Cold Car but then quibbles that it is not an exact fit to current events. Wow, way to catch Netanyahu botching history, Peter. You da man!

But when the NATO charter was signed in April, 1949, the Soviets were about 4 months from exploding their first atomic bomb. (Our intelligence services thought it would be much later, wrongly, as usual). There really was no time to formulate a preventative strike on the USSR's nuclear bomb making. There were two military powers then, America and the USSR. We had nuclear weapons and had used them but under Truman, after the victory over Japan, we had developed an illogical, short-term destructive aversion to using them again. We were not going to prevent the USSR from getting a nuclear weapon, NATO or no NATO. But none of Beinart's criticism indicates that Bibi got his Cold War history wrong. Let's move on.

Netanyahu may believe that NATO’s policies of containment and deterrence won’t work against Tehran because its leaders—unlike Stalin and Mao—are bloodthirsty tyrants who sometimes speak in messianic, apocalyptic terms. But people whose historical memory extends beyond breakfast should remember that NATO’s “red line” was not the equivalent of preventative war; it was the alternative to preventative war.

This is either poorly written or poorly thought out. I think the latter. We wouldn't strike the USSR or China to prevent them joining the nuclear club, but we would strike their cities massively if they used a weapon against any NATO member nation. How is that policy of massive retaliation not the equivalent of a preventative war, that is, preventing them from attacking NATO by threatening retaliation? It is the equivalent, Peter, not the alternative. It's just not preventing them from attacking by nuking their bomb making facilities so that they have no nuclear weapons with which to attack. Whether we attacked the USSR or China before they acquired nuclear weapons to prevent that from happening or we attacked them only after they actually used the weapons, we're still attacking, and we're attacking (or threatening to) in order to prevent a Communist attack on NATO nations. It is preventative war both before or after the other nations get nukes, both are designed to prevent a nuclear attack. The only difference, and it's a minor difference, is in the timing, before they acquire or after they use the acquired weapons. Saying the meaningless timing makes such an attack the "alternative to preventative war" is sloppy thinking at best. There's more, unfortunately.

Similarly, Netanyahu told his U.N. audience, “President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban missile crisis.” Yes, but Kennedy also conducted secret diplomacy with Nikita Khrushchev, which led not only to the Soviets ceasing their nuclear missile construction in Cuba, but to the U.S. removing its nuclear missiles from Turkey.

Again with the "Yes, but..." So rather than botching the Cold War history, Netanyahu gets it right but doesn't mention what Beinart thinks he should have mentioned. Well, if Netanyahu had been delivering a lecture in history to students, rather than giving a policy speech at the UN, he might have mentioned Kennedy's shameful 'tit for tat' through back channels with Gromyko. But that detail of history is pretty moot now that we won the Cold War more than 20 years ago; and it is clearly not applicable to the threat of a nuclear Iran because there are no back channels to exploit diplomatically. There is no 'tit for tat' Israel can give to prevent the Jew hating Muslims in Tehran from destroying Israel. The whole point of the speech was that what worked in the Cold War won't work against Iran. Was Beinart not listening?

So after saying the Netanyahu got his Cold War history right, Beinart pretends Netanyahu has been in error and was in even greater error later in the speech by Beinart's saying:

But Netanyahu’s deepest misreading of the cold war is more subtle.

Yeah, so subtle only the giant intellect of Peter Beinhart can see it. Lord knows no one else actually versed in history can. But what is the subtle misreading? Beinart talks about the correctly anti-Communist Republicans as if they were fools (and before 1972 there were plenty of rabidly anti-Communist Democrats who were also correct in their opposition to that evil philosophy). Peter, I don't know if you've been keeping up on current events but we won the Cold War. We won it because we did a lot and sacrificed a lot in order to win it. The Soviet Union did not crash and burn in 1989 because of enmity with Tito or the Chi-Coms or differences between the Stalinists and the Leninists or Tortskyites, but because we showed resolve with actions. We showed that we were willing to prevent the spread of International Socialism with troops and weapons and many thousands of dead and maimed Americans and that we were willing to pay the fiscal price for weapons that the USSR just could not match. I'll get to Beinart's dangerous naivete about Islam at a later date. Let's just look at what he says next.

None of this is to suggest that Netanyahu is wrong to worry about a nuclear Iran. Where he’s wrong is in forgetting that Israel’s foe is one particular regime, influenced by ideology, to be sure, but also representing various national traditions and interests.

So, not wrong again in the main tenant, but wrong to think Israel's foe is more than just Iran? This is both a straw man argument and utterly trivial. Does Israel not have deadly earnest enemies other than Iran? Of course they do. Are these serious enemies Muslim? Of course they are. But is the nearest existential threat to Israel Iran with a nuclear weapon? Yes, of course. So, did Netanyahu say anything to indicate that his focus for the speech was with Islam in general rather than Iran in particular? Well, no he didn't, which is why Beinart's criticism is merely straw man here. Jeez Louise, Beinart, can you not say something directly about the speech which is worthy of our consideration and commensurate with the threat of a second Holocaust?

The short answer is no.

By turning Israel’s foe from a nasty government into a demonic ideology, he’s forgetting that even the most evil of regimes (Stalin’s Soviet Union, for instance) have rational security concerns, and that understanding them is critical to keeping the peace.
 The whole point is that the Soviets were rational but that Iran is not, because of the crazy 12th Imam belief (and an implacable desire to kill all Jews (just like the NAZIs had)). Where we could and did rely on MAD to prevent an attack after the Communists developed nuclear weapons, we can't do that with Iran because MAD won't deter them.

If Benjamin Netanyahu really understood the history of the cold war, he’d realize that he’s treading the path of those American leaders whose grandiose ideological formulations concealed their deep ignorance of the countries against which they waged war.

Well, the ignorant Americans with grandiose ideological formulations Beinart is now so disdainful of managed to prevent nuclear war 66 years and win the Cold War and break up the Soviet Union to less threatening detritus. Not bad for ignoramuses. I'd much rather be led by them than by the oh so preciously 'smart' current lefty intelligentsia as evidenced by Beinart, and I'm sorry to say, our soon to be lame duck President as well. Beinart and Obama wouldn't together amount to a pimple on McNamara's butt, much less a microscopic protuberance on Winston Churchill's ass. When Netanyahu is forced (by the West's irrational and feckless inaction) to take the regrettable, but required, steps rightly to prevent a nuclear Iran, I'm thinking he'll be more regarded as Churchill than any other Prime Minister still around. Anyone care to bet against me?


Friday, September 28, 2012


Andrew Humor



Ironic War Photos

A messenger pigeon is released in 1918 out of a porthole (with sliding cover) of the door of the right sponson of a Mark V British WWI tank, almost certainly a 'male' verison, with a ball mounted Hotchkiss machine gun and another I can't identify (probably a .303) visible.



Well Equipped Enemy

Waffen SS late in WWII. The tank is the Panzerkampfwagen V, the Panther, one of the better tanks in the war. Two of the guys in the center carry the superb MG 42 on straps slung over their shoulders. Notice the ammo boxes at the feet of guys in the front. The handles on the top were at the side rather than the middle, so by putting the sides with the handles next to the other, one hand could carry two boxes easily. The guy in the center back, under the tank's gun has a Panzerfaust over his shoulder but I can't tell the size of the shaped charge warhead, as it's obscurred. The guy in front under the gun of the tank has an STG 44 and the guy to the left of him is carrying one too even though you can't see it.  The slightly curved broad magazines he's carrying in a cloth pouch on his stomach only fit the STG.

These guys were ready to rumble.

If the German soldiers and particularly the Waffen SS had not served an incredibly evil regime, we would still be talking about their bravery, competence and elan. As it is, we just call them NAZIs. There is no worse epithet.


Thursday, September 27, 2012


Do the Right Thing

General Anton Dostler being tied to a stake for execution by firing squad on Dec. 1, 1945 in Aversa, Italy. Dostler had been convicted of war crimes by an American tribunal. He had ordered the execution of 15 captured Americans soldiers who, in uniform, landed behind German lines in order to blow up a train tunnel. You can view a video of his execution here. This was the first Allied war crime trial. Dostler's defense, Superior Orders, was that he was only passing along an order of another general. This "I was only following orders" was here seriously undercut by the fact that an officer under him, Alexander, Prince of Dohna-Schlobitten, one of the last Germans flown out of Stalingrad, had refused to sign the execution order and was dismissed from the Wehrmacht for insubordination. Dohna lived to be 97, dying in 1997. Dostler didn't make it to 1946.

We never gave the Superior Orders defense much weight in any of the war crime tribunals dealing with WWII war crimes. It is never a lawful order to commit a war crime. It's a tough choice for those being ordered to do such things, however. Since Nuremburg, however, the Superior Orders defense has been at times more effective, as with Lt. Calley after the 1968 massacre at Me Lei.


Monday, September 24, 2012


A Voice from a Planet We Don't Live on

Andrew Sullivan, the excitable boy of political musings and amateur gynecologist, and a person I used to read every day, has a somewhat far-fetched premise to his long, and not that distinguished, article in Newsweek (yes, it still somehow exists) but which I read on the Daily Beast here.

He thinks President Obama is the Democrat's Reagan.


It doesn't appear to be a parody.

First, he thinks Obama is going to win; that, in and of itself, is Reaganlike, he thinks (and yes, he's aware Bill Clinton won two terms). But there's more.

Obama has been playing a long, strategic game from the very start—a long game that will only truly pay off if he gets eight full years to see it through. That game is not only changing America. It may also bring his opposition, the GOP, back to the center, just as Reagan indelibly moved the Democrats away from the far left.
What? The Democrats have moved ever leftward since '72, and '81-'89 is in that period. Obama has polarized us to the extent that the Tea Party arose to fight the "squishy" Republicans and stop sending big spenders of other people's money to Washington with an R behind their name. Moving the Republican party to the center is about as far from what has happened as is possible to describe. In other words, wrong again, Andrew.

Looking back, of course, the comparison between Obama and Reagan seems -absurd (sic)...

Blind hog finding an acorn.

Nonetheless, the administration has soldiered on since 2010, and the tally of achievements is formidable: the near-obliteration of al Qaeda, democratic revolutions in the Arab world that George Bush could only have dreamed of, the re-regulation of Wall Street after the 2008 crash, stimulus investments in infrastructure and clean energy, powerful new fuel-emission standards along with a record level of independence from foreign oil, and, most critically, health-care reform.

Only on Planet Democrat are these achievements. We Republicans and the nation as a whole (except for some Democrats) like it that the President ordered the killing of Bin Laden and is obliterating the homes of suspected terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen, along with everyone inside the houses. But obliterating al Qaeda he isn't. Just ask Ambassador Stevens. Oh that's right, he can't answer because he and three other Americans were murdered by a co-ordinated al Qaeda attack on 9/11/12 in Libya's second capital. What democratic revolutions in the Arab world? Do you mean the Arab Spring which allowed hardcore Islamic extremists to take over formerly somewhat sane nations? Before, the powerful rulers kept the Islamacists from doing what they do and now they are gone, replaced with the tyranny of Islamacist rule. (Sorry, women and homosexuals, you are in for some very hard times in Egypt, etc.) This is an achievement? There were no stimulus investments in infrastructure. Even Obama has admitted this. Unfortunately, "clean energy" (like with Solyndra) is merely wasted taxpayer money. The reason we are getting more independent from foreign oil is because of the non-recovery to the recession--we are using less and thus importing less (some achievement); and the oil and gas we do produce is despite what the Obama administration does, not because of it. Obamacare is not healthcare reform, but another unfunded entitlement we can not afford. Not one of these is an achievement or anything, Osama's death excepted, to be proud of.

He's right to say an Obama win will seal Obamacare as the law of the land, but that's something the majority of Americans who don't like Obamacare should consider when they vote. Now or never, America.

As to the vaunted second term of Obama, he will not have the House (Bill Crystal's fears and Nancy Pelosi's fever dreams notwithstanding) and should not have the Senate (although a Republican takeover there is less likely than a few months ago). In any event, with a decidedly minority position in the House and at best a closely divided Senate, Obama's chances of any further legislative 'achievements' are exceedingly small.

I won't go into the pie in the sky hopes Sullivan has for compormise and recovery. They are not realistic with the sort of non-leadership the current administration has provided. Let's end with his second recounting of achievements:

But in a first term, he ended the Iraq War on schedule, headed off a second Great Depression, presided over much more robust private-sector job growth in his recovery than George W. Bush did in his, saved the American automobile industry, ended torture, and saw his own party embrace full marriage equality and integrate gays into the military.
President Obama didn't end the Iraq War (Gulf War II); George Bush (son) did with the gutsy surge which all but wiped out al Quada in Iraq. All Obama has done is claimed credit for nothing he did and, worse, he has jeopardized Bush's, our victory, by failing to negtiate a meaningful military co-operation agrement. There are few of us in the know who credit the President with saving us from a fiscal calamity; the worst of the financial crisis was over when Obama took office and his actions after that have only worsened the recovery, not aided it. Obam has barely made it back to even for the jobs lost. Bush is a plus 4.4 million jobs for his 8 years and Obama is a plus 300,000 for his 4. How is that more? Ford was not saved or 'rescued". Chrysler was not saved, but went into bankruptcy and the remnants were bought up by competitor Fiat, along with the Union and the US government. GM was not saved but underwent bankruptcy and now the U.S. Treasury wrongly owns some substantial share (around 60%) of the still slowly declining business. There was no torture to end. Waterboarding, which is routinely done to our own soldiers and sailors during SERE training, is not torture. If it never started, it wasn't ended. And is it better to blow up a suspected terrorist with all his family than to put a wet towel on his face for a few seconds? I'd say ask the blown up terrorists, but that's futile. We already know what the "tortured" 3 terrorists say: Thanks for giving us an excuse to spill our guts. We'll leave off discussing the homosexual issues that are so near to Sullivan's heart but I couldn't care less about. OK, one last comment. Marriage equality? Don't make me laugh. Homosexual men can marry women just as heterosexual men can, they just don't want to.

He thinks Obama has done a grand job and ought to be re-elected. I can think of no greater evidence of his inability to see things clearly.


Sunday, September 23, 2012



I'm listening to the talking heads on the Sunday shows. I'm really sick of one argument/apology the Democrats always trot out. Of course, they say, we're better off now than when we were losing 850,000 jobs a month.

Listen, we have a semi-capitalistic system ('semi' because the government is too deeply imbedded in the private markets, usually as a stumbling block) and that system has a business cycle. We have steady to very good growth punctuated by short periods of rapid decline. They used to be called panics, then depressions and now recessions. But as deep as the recession is, almost every time the recovery is just as steep as the decline was (V-shaped--sometimes U-shaped). But this 'recovery' is L-shaped, that is, the recovery is almost non-existent. Yes, we are no longer in a recession but we are not recovering.


Strictly because of the idiotic policies of the current administration. We do need some hope and change and Obama has shown himself incapable of providing either.

It's the same for the "we have created 4.something million jobs..." Well, no, there has been a reinstatement of the jobs lost during the recession, but we're barely back to even, much less in a solid growth period, as is usual, and there is little prospect under this Administration that we'll ever get there, to a normal recovery.

The recession Reagan had in the second year of his first administration was just as bad as the one our President never stops whining about and the net creation of jobs under Reagan was an astounding 16.7 million over 8 years. Beat that, Obama.


Saturday, September 22, 2012


Beating Up on the Dead

I just finished the late Stieg Larson's The Girl Who Played with Fire which I was eager to read after finishing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last week, which I was eager to read because I so liked the American movie version of it (especially the part from when she borrows the money from Daniel Craig until she pays him back--that is film-making of the highest order). I haven't seen the Swedish versions but I hear they are good too. Some say better.

Brief criticism of the first book ... Dragon Tattoo: If someone is sending you the same framed pressed flowers that your missing niece sent you before she went missing, it's much more rational to think that she's alive than to think her uncaught killer is torturing you psychologically. Rational and right. The book starts off with a stumble but doesn't seem to miss a step afterwards.

...with Fire is not quite as good but it certainly was a more compelling read as I had not seen it as a faithfully rendered movie. Here's the rub:

Stieg doesn't seem to know sh*t about guns and bullets. Let's start with the first firearm stumble, shall we.

He writes in Chapter 11 (on page 218 of my paperback) that:

"Bloomkvist thought it looked like a Colt .45 Magnum--the  kind of weapon used to murder Olof Palme.*"

First, there is no such thing as a Colt .45 Magnum. There is a Colt .45 (the 1911), but saying a Colt .45 is often shorthand for a number of pistols using .45 APC (Automatic Colt Pistol), a round designed in 1904 by gun genius John Moses Browning. It's a cartridge with a big heavy bullet with lots of powder behind it, a real man-stopper. There was no need to make it a Magnum and it's not. The .357 Magnum, developed in the 30's, is a more powerful round actually, in foot pounds, but it's not thought to be as deadly (because the diameter of the bullet is not as wide as Browning's bullet and so the transfer of the foot pounds to flesh and bone, and the resulting wound channel, is not as bad in the .357 Magnum). You don't want to get hit by either round.

Second, no one knows what sort of weapon was used to kill Prime Minister Palme in 1986. The gun was never recovered, nor were any shell casings. The bullets were determined to be .357 Magnums, but a lot of guns shoot .357 Magnum, not just a Colt not-a-.45 Magnum, like the Python. They assume it was a revolver and not an automatic because no casings were recovered and no one who witnessed it talked about the gunman reaching down to recover shell casings. The case remains unsolved because after convicting someone for the assassination, the appeals court freed him in that goofy appeal/second trial European jurists seem to be so fond of. Moving on.

On my page 239 (Chapter 13) the otherwise admirable Inspector Bublanski says:

"A Colt Magnum is a damned cowboy pistol that ought to be banned outright."


Then there's the interminable misinformation about "hunting ammunition." Larson writes, starting on page 240:

There are two types of ammunition: Hard, full-metal jacketed bullets that go straight through the body and cause comparatively modest damage, and soft ammunition that expands in the body on impact and does enormous damage...The latter type is called hunting ammunition, and its objective is to cause massive bleeding. It is considered more humane when hunting moose, since the aim is to put the prey down as quickly and as painlessly as possible. But hunting ammunition is forbidden for use in war by international law...

The real problem here is the switch from pistol rounds to hunting moose (which we would call elk, don't ask) which would almost never be done with pistol rounds. Of course military rounds are supposed to be full metal jacket for supposedly humane reasons (see here) but we use soft point or hollow point rifle rounds to kill game humanely (the opposite of what is considered humane for humans, don't ask).  We use hollow point pistol rounds to kill people quickly (for self defense) but we don't hunt people and we don't call hollow point ammunition "hunting ammunition." We don't hunt with pistol rounds (at least not the smaller caliber ones Stieg mentions in the ellipsis of the quote above). We American gun nuts do not call hollow point pistol bullets "hunting ammunition." I don't believe anyone actually does.

Near the start of Chapter 24, beginning on page 451, Lisbeth is torturing someone for information and has found the victim's (a bad guy) Colt 1911 Government. Better. But then the she menaces him with it and "... she took out the magazine and filled it with rounds. She shoved it back in and cocked the weapon."

OK. He's talking not about a revolver but an automatic. Once the cartridges are in the removable box magazine, and the magazine is inserted into the handle of the pistol, the slide must be pulled back manually and released to seat the top round of the magazine into the chamber, ready to fire. Racking back the slide automatically cocks the weapon (pushes back the hammer to the firing position). We call that "chambering a round" and it is different from cocking the hammer, that is, pulling it back to click into ready-to-fire full cock. (We needn't get into half cock here). Lisabeth does not create a pistol she could fire with the described actions. I doubt that was her intention.

It's a small mis-step but we in the know notice and wonder, what else did he get wrong?

Later, near the climax, on page 593, Larson gets it exactly right,

...she took out Nieminen's Polish P-83 Wanad. She ejected the magazine and checked that nothing was blocking the bolt or the bore. She did a blind fire. She had six rounds of 9 mm Makarov. That should be enough. She shoved the magazine back in place and chambered a round. (Emphasis added).

See, that wasn't so hard, was it? We call pulling the trigger on an empty chamber a "dry fire" but I don't know what they say in Sweden. She should have made sure the chamber was empty with a visual inspection before she dry fired. Removing the magazine does nothing to any round already in the chamber, as Terry Kath found out.

There's a minor mistake about the number of rounds the rare and useless 1911 chambered in 9 mm carries, but I'll stop quibbling.

I'll finish with her reaction to her wounds. She is hit three times--the first hits her in the hip and spins her off balance but she feels no pain. OK. The second causes her paralyzing pain and the third round hits her in the head and takes her out (sorry for the spoiler--get over it). But she's shot with a .22. I've been shot with a .22 and there is no spinning and no pain. Bobby Kennedy was shot with a .22 in the head and he spoke for a while and died almost a full day later.

I'm just saying, I'm not buying it.

Really sorry for the spoiler.

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Thought of the Day

If they lie, you can’t trust them. That’s a fairly straightforward rule. It is certainly the one that trial lawyers bank on.

It is not a hard and fast rule. A person may shade the truth for various reasons: vanity, personal allegiances, financial incentives, etc. Usually, once you figure out the relevant motivation, you can sort out on what matters he is probably credible and what he is prone to lie about. Sometimes, though, the story is so unbelievable, so insulting to the intelligence, that a rational juror knows it is best to discount all of the testimony — or, worse, to conclude that the truth is likely the opposite of the witness’s desperate version.


The Obama administration is the witness whose testimony a jury would discount out of hand.

Andrew McCarthy


Thursday, September 20, 2012


Thought of the Day

(h/t Instapundit)


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Thought of the Day


Monday, September 17, 2012


Naivete on Steroids

I wrote about an unfortunate column of liberal Republican William Saletan last week here. He's back for more.

Here is his new column. Opening paragraph:

Dear Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Jews,
You’re living in the age of the Internet. Your religion will be mocked, and the mockery will find its way to you. Get over it.

OK. Let's look at the list of religions to whom he addresses his "cool it" message back to front. Jews get their religion mocked. Really? I thought it was just plain old Anti-Semitism or Anti-Zionism. I guess some Jewish comedians do mock their own religion. Can't recall a non-Jew doing the same, but perhaps my memory is faulty. In any event if we were to mock the Jewish religion, what would be the reaction? I'm pretty sure it would be nothing at all. If the mockery is truly anti-semitic, then you might get a letter from the ADL, but I'm seriously doubting that Mossad agents would be dispatched to silence you for mere mockery of a religion. Here, let me try it: Isn't it silly to use a block of wood for a "lens" on your forehead. What moron thought up that one?

I'm not trembling.

Hindus get their religion mocked? Again, I guess. A friend never says the word "Hindu" without proceeding it with "monkey worshiping" so I guess they are in for some ribbing here and there. What has been their reaction to this mockery of their religion? Nothing again? Aren't the Hindus pacifists? Do they even have an anti-defamation league? A mossad? It's my guess that they don't actually care if you mock their religion, at the very most, they might not think you are a good person to do so. Would they attack you in the streets? Not a chance, I think.

Christians get mocked all the time. Especially here in America. Devout Catholics and evangelicals (along with Southern men) are mocked all the time with full impunity. You know examples of it, I don't even have to begin to give examples. And what is the reaction? Visits by the new Knights Templar? Rioting in front of the mockers' homes or businesses? Obviously not.

OK. Now what happens when you mock the Muslim religion? They try to kill you in response. They riot and kill. They rage. You are brought up on charges of hate speech in Canada. You, recently, are whisked off to the police station for questioning here in America. It's an awful and violent reaction.

So, as they say on Sesame Street, one of the four addressees is not like the other. Why do you think Mr. Saletan includes the other religions alongside of Islam in his calling for calm? Is he equating the need for calm among all four? Is he equating Islam with the other three regarding violent reactions to religious mockery? Well, yes he is. And he looks stupid doing it.

His entire article is about the deadly and violent so-called reaction to the silly internet movie mocking the Prophet (PBUH). It's all about the Muslims being violent and murderous. No Christian, Hindu or Jewish violence and rage is mentioned (probably because there isn't any). He does provide links to mockery of other religions (except Islam--hmmmm). Then there is the big "Why can't we all just get along" finish.

The hatred and bloodshed will go on until you stop taking the bait. Mockery of your prophet on a computer with an Internet address somewhere in the world can no longer be your master. Nor can the puppet clerics who tell you to respond with violence. Lay down your stones and your anger. Go home and pray. God is too great to be troubled by the insults of fools. Follow Him.

Doesn't Islamic law require faithful Muslims to kill (by stoning) those who mock Mohammed (B&PBUH) or offend the faithful? So the bloodshed and hatred exists not because the Muslims are "taking the bait" but because they are fulfilling the dictates of their religion, right?

Here is some real mocking (but of Mr. Saletan) from a different blogger, Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess, who writes after quoting a bit more than I did of Saletan's opening:

Come on, why be "inclusive"?
I tease a Christian friend about believing in god. He teases me about not believing in god.
I mock the ridiculousness of circumcision with some regularity.
I have no fear that some Schlomo Glickstein and his mob of yeshiva students are going to drag me out of my house, rape me, and murder me for it.
Islam COMMANDS the death of those who mock Islam, Allah, or Mohammed, be they infidels or Muslims. (And the death of infidels in general, along with the installation of The New Caliphate around the globe. And you can probably guess that TNC won't be democratic or very nice to women, gays, or those not worshipping Allah.)

Good stuff.

Saletan has gone from bad to ridiculously stupid in about a week.


Sunday, September 16, 2012


Thought of the Day

Any Jews who now vote for Obama are “useful idiots” beyond anything ever conceived by Lenin.

Roger Simon (the good one)


Friday, September 14, 2012


What's on TV

I think Bruce Springsteen wrote a song with the repeated line: 57 channels and nothing on. Well, we're way, way past that now. If Springsteen wrote the song now he'd have to sing: 572 channels and nothing on.

Here, in no particular order, is what I look forward to and watch:

1) Breaking Bad. I didn't like it at first but I think it's become quite good lately. I am a firm member of the Kill Skyler Now club. Seriously, two in the back of the head. She's not even hot.

2) Mad Men. I've been a fan from the start. I have an edge on a lot of viewers in that I was alive during the time it inhabits and can remember it. I was 10 in '63. It seems they are having script problems lately, but I'm eager to see next season.

3) Walking Dead. I know it's slow, slow, slow unless they are shooting ghouls in the head. But I hope that they'll stop talking about their feelings soon and start shooting more ghouls in the head. My advice to the survivors: Go to a class III gun shop and get some suppressors. My advice to the directors and producers: Kill Carl now. Seriously, eaten by ghouls in the very next episode. What happens to him in Walking Dead 7 is not sufficient.

4) Boardwalk Empire. I think they are going to miss Michael Pitt but Buscemi and Mcdonald are enough. I love Jack Huston as the severely wounded WWI killer vet. His role should expand to fill the void left by Jimmy Darmody's murder and I want to see him turn into a sort of Bardem in No Country for Old Men character--deadly and implacable.

5) Homeland. This copy of an Israeli series doesn't quite translate. Why would collateral damage in a rational attempt to take out an effectively deadly terrorist master turn a good American Marine traitor? It wouldn't. The premise is liberal claptrap. But I still like it.

6) Game of Thrones. I've read all the novels. Hard to believe that a fantasy drama where they all talk like the people who work in Renaissance Fairs could be so good, but it is. The last few episodes seemed Readers Digest Condensed Versions but Dinklage is the glue that keeps the series going. There has been a huge drop off in the number of bare female breasts lately. They need to remedy that.

I'm told I'm missing the boat with: Misfits, Spartacus, Parks and Recreation and Community. Oh well, there are only so many hours in a day.

Guilty pleasures: Person of Interest, Big Bang Theory and Castle.

Shows I've given up on: Sons of Anarchy and Weeds (was ever a less likable group of people on for 100 episodes?)

Shows I should give up on: True Blood, Dexter and Dr. Who.


Thursday, September 13, 2012


Failing to Understand the Whole Picture

I don't know who self-described "liberal Republican" William Saletan is, but here is what he wrote about a statement of the Cairo Embassy this week and Mitt Romney's response thereto.

Here is Ace of Spades thoughts on what William Saletan wrote. Well worth the effort to read it all.

It's interesting to me that the link Mr. Saletan has in his article to the original statement from the Embassy goes nowhere. That means that some people in the Embassy are attempting to erase the initial comment, to erase history. Too bad for them that the internet rarely forgets. Here's the part of the statement that gets under the skin of Ace and me.

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions....We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others. (Emphasis added.)
Name anyone in the Embassy in Cairo, or in the entire diplomatic corps, or in the whole of the State Department, or in the whole of the current federal government who has ever condemned a single effort of anyone to offend Catholics or evangelical Christians.

[crickets chirping]

Ace limits his piece to anti-Christian art, but Piss Christ and the elephant feces Madonna with porn pasted on are low hanging fruit.

Let's get to efforts, primarily on the left, to offend Catholics or evangelical Christians who take Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 seriously. Generally, those who believe homosexuality is a sin are called the stupid neologism homophobic. It's not a compliment.

What about Mr. Saletan? Has he ever tried to hurt the religious feelings of Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin? Has he ever written anything that would offend such Christian believers?

Well there's this:

The Vatican's new policy on gay priests has been leaked. Officially, it proposes the incorrigibility of deeply rooted gay tendencies. Unofficially, it exposes the deeply rooted, incorrigible antigay tendencies of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI.
Is "deeply rooted, incorrigible antigay tendencies" something to make the current Pope feel good about himself, or is it something bound to hurt his feelings? It's actually pretty tame criticism compared to the hatred from the left, as shown in the efforts in California to shut up supporters of Proposition 8, for example.

But my point is not to try to dredge up hypocrisy from Mr. Saletan but to point out that condemning some speaker for offending someone's feelings, even their religious feelings, cannot be squared with the American concept of free speech. If you can only speak things that will not offend believers, then you are not free to speak your mind. It's really just that simple.

What gets to Ace and me is the horrible misconception our current government (and, alas, Mr. Saletan) seem to have about our First Amendment's guarantee of speech free from government censorship.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Thought of the Day



Lack of Resolve

As the "revolutionary" leadership in Iran did in 1979, the Muslims in Libya and Egypt have sized up the backbone of the American President and his feckless administration and decided that they can do what they want to us with impunity. They have attacked our embassy in Cairo and consular offices in Bengazi and killed the Ambassador to Libya and 3 of the staff. This is normally considered to be an act of war for which the strongest of reprisals is necessary to prevent the tactic from spreading. So what do we do?

Issue this disgraceful apology:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others
It's "abuse" of free speech because it hurts someone's feelings? These guys have no idea what the First Amendment means.

The left is beside itself for future President Romney's statement:

I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

And they are calling on the Republicans not to politicize the foreign attack on our property and personnel there.

But isn't an attack on our Embassies and Consular offices by foreign nationals already a political act?

I mean it's not like it's some force of nature, like a storm or a flood; that would be beyond the pale to politicize.


Thursday, September 06, 2012


Doing the Arithmetic Bill Clinton Won't Do

Here is a transcript of former President Clinton's long but generally interesting speech at the Democratic Convention last night. He talked about the Republicans living in an alternative universe. Funny, those are just the words Anderson Cooper applied to DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz lying about the botched, three-times-the-charm vote to add back in God and Jerusalem to the Democrat's party platform. (Who took them out in the first place?) That's the place I generally think too many Democrat thinkers inhabit. See here. Then Big Dog Bill talked about arithmetic. In Arkansas, he said, where he was a country boy (he just cannot stop lying), people thought two plus two was four. Tough to fault the Arkansas citizens' high skill at math. He said then:

 President Obama's plan cuts the debt, honors our values, brightens the future of our children, our families, and our nation. It's a heck of a lot better. It passes the arithmetic test and, far more important, it passes the values test.
What plan? His not-one-person-voted-for-it budget? Cuts the debt; are you freakin' kidding me? Passes the arithmetic test? But Bill Clinton had already said the following, to put it all in perspective regarding Republicans governing:

... they'll just explode the debt and weaken the economy, and they'll destroy the federal government's ability to help you by letting interest gobble up all your tax payments.
   Don't you ever forget, when you hear them talking about this, that Republican economic policies quadrupled the national debt before I took office, in the 12 years before I took office and doubled the debt in the eight years after I left, because it defied arithmetic.
OK. He's right about the danger of piling on too much debt, although the warning is a tad late. When interest rates rise, our incredible federal debt will metaphorically gobble us all up.

But what about the quadrupling and doubling? Well, right again. But first a caveat. The House starts all spending bills and the House and Senate pass all tax bills. During the past 32 years, the times when the House, Senate and Presidency are all controlled by one party were rare and fleeting. So it's not fair to blame the President for overspending which the Democrat controlled House and Senate pass. Nor is it fair to give him credit for what the better budgets the Republican controlled House and Senate accomplish. After all, the President is doing little but signing the bills. That said, however, let's pretend, along with Bill Clinton, that Republican economic policies are in full sway while Republicans are President and Democratic economic policies are in full control while Democrats are President.

When Ronald Reagan became President, the national debt was roughly S1.14 Trillion. By the time the first President Bush ended his only term, 12 years later, the national debt was about $4.41 Trillion. That's just short of quadrupling, but close enough for government work. But what then was the average deficit spending during the 12 years of Reagan/Bush presidencies? Well, if my math is as good as an Arkansas country boy's, the deficit spending averages about $275 Billion/yr. That ain't so good.

How about for Clinton? He started with about $4.41 Trillion and ended with about $5.81 Trillion. That's roughly $173 Billion/yr of average deficit spending. That's better, but it's still deficit spending.

The second President Bush started with about $5.81 Trillion and ended with roughly $10.43 Trillion. That is not really a doubling but why quibble and it averages out to roughly $655 Billion/yr. That's pretty bad.

But what has President Obama done? Well, the national debt is now approaching $16 Trillion and it's not a full four years. He's only increased it by about $5 Trillion which is no doubling or quadrupling, but it is overspending at about $1.25 Trillion/yr. That is more deficit spending per year under President Obama than the 200 plus years of accumulated federal debt when President Reagan took office. That's amazingly bad.

Country boy arithmetic is enlightening, isn't it? Bill Clinton is too smart actually to go through the numbers as I just have. He's trying to help Obama get re-elected.


Sunday, September 02, 2012


Hoping for Accuracy

Here is the screen shot of our thin skinned President responding to the somewhat weird performance of Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair at the RNC.

Look at the brass plaque on the back of the chair. Note the dates-- 2009-2013. Hope it's true. I think it will be, but why does the President put it down in metal (not stone)?



Dismal Chart of the Day

This was in the ever less read LA Times so it's probably not right wing propaganda. See how the unemployment peaks just above 10% and then meanders down to just above 8%, that decline is not the result of ever more jobs, it's almost entirely the result of people giving up the search. Therefore, they are not counted in the numbers of those employed or seeking employment. The number counted in the work force continues to decline since the start of the last recession. Indeed, the number of Americans in the work force is far fewer now than when President Obama took office.

In 2009, the number of people not in the workforce was 81,659,000. Now it's 86,828,000, according to government statistics. That's over five million Americans who could work but are not. If we counted the drop-outs and never-entered graduates, the unemployment rate would be around 11%.

The answer to President Reagan's question as a candidate (are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?) has to be in the negative for most people, both regarding employment and median income.

That's not so good for the President.



VJ Day

I grow old learning new stuff every day.

Here is the wikipedia list of the the most decorated ships in the United States Navy (during WWII).

Enterprise (CV 6) is number one, of course, with 20 battle stars, the Presidential Unit Citation (PUC), and the Navy Unit Commendation (NUC). (We should be very ashamed that this ship was broken up while an undistinguished battleship, the Alabama (BB 60), became a museum). Below is a photo of a Japanese bomb hit on its deck in '42.

And there tied for 7th (along with 6 other valiant ships), with 16 battle stars and the PUC, is the destroyer on which my father served, the USS Buchanan (DD 484).

Huh. Who knew?

The slim black things in between the stacks are the torpedo tubes. That was my dad's job--he was the officer in charge of those but by the time he got in the war the Japanese surface fleet had been effectively eliminated so he never fired them. This photo was taken from the Wasp (CV 7) a little over a month before it was sunk by the Japanese submarine I-19 in September, 1942.


Saturday, September 01, 2012


This is How it's Done

In sharp contrast to Keller and his ilk, the following is how you properly make and document a "He didn't say that" charge.

In Charlottesville, VA last Wednesday, President Obama petulantly said this:

Sometimes they just make things up. But they’ve got a bunch of folks who can write $10 million checks, and they’ll just keep on running them,” he said. “I mean, somebody was challenging one of their ads — they made it up — about work and welfare. And every outlet said this is just not true. And they were asked about it and they said — one of their campaign people said, ‘We won’t have the fact-checkers dictate our campaign. We will not let the truth get in the way.’ (Emphasis added).
Well, no, the campaign person, Neil Newhouse, didn't say that. Here is what he said:

These fact-checkers come to those ads with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs. We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.
 Mr. Newhouse did not say: We will not let get truth get in the way. He did not even imply it in what he said. He's quoted here and here and and here and by the "paper of record," the NYT here. Not a one says "We will not let the truth get in the way." Not one.

The President is making stuff up. He's lying in order to accuse his political opponents of, er, lying. My finely tuned ability to detect irony tells me it is off the freakin' charts here.

See, you document what the speaker claimed was said, then you document what actually was said (making sure that what you quote does not contain what you are claiming was not said--this is an important step which the Democrats seem to be skipping) and then you present your contention fully and properly documented. It's really not that hard.

 (h/t Mark Hemingway)

UPDATE: The paper of record, the NYT, just comes out and says that Mr. Newhouse did not say "We will not let truth get in the way" here. Of course, it's buried as the last sentence of the piece. Here's my logical set piece: The President complains that his opponents are fibbing, making things up and lying about his record in office. During this whining he says a Republican said something he did not say (this is where the NYT exits the analysis). Therefore he is lying about what the Republican said.

Lies about people allegedly lying, so you have both mendacity and projection. Or actually a trifecta of whining, lying and projection. This is not the campaign of a man confident in his re-election. He and I agree on that at least.



I Know Why the Democrats Are Mad at Mitt

There are whole pieces being written about the pause and sortof smirk during his acceptance speech Mitt Romney took and displayed after he pointed out that Obama in a speech 4 years ago said his ascendance meant the rising of World sea level would start to slow and the Earth would start to heal.

Romney promised merely to help Americans and their families.

Romney's best line kinda punctured Obama's only real talent, his ability to spout lefty gibberish in a kind of modified bombast without cracking up, or letting the mask slip too often.

But I know why this line and pause for comedic effect has gotten the Democrats' goats. Obama's prediction that his election would cause the sea's rise to begin to slow is about the only prediction Obama's gotten right. The seas normal, tiny, late-interglacial rise has indeed slowed down.

(h/t Real Science)



Tooting My Own Horn Again

Here is Tim Worstall at Forbes writing about the implications of Michael Mann's threatened, but not yet realized, suit for libel against Mark Steyn and the National Review. The date of his article, in which he features the bad legal strategy of Oscar Wilde, is August 24, 2012.

Here is my posting on the subject on July 27, 2012.

Great minds and all that.

The parallel is pretty obvious.
Professor Mann will be a complete pussy if he doesn't follow through with his threat and sue the pants off his defamers.


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