Saturday, April 30, 2016

Europe's terror threat: Beyond self-radicalized lone wolves


This is an excellent piece of reporting by the BBC

Europe's Terror Networks
It's a little less than a half hour and well worth the listen.

Three items really caught my attention:

1. ISIS has a logistical system set up in Europe. They have found ways to move explosives and firearms and get them into the hands of their operatives.

2. As was the case in Mumbai (2008) the November 2015 attacks in Paris utilized multiple, simultaneous attacks so that police and counter-terror forces would be dispersed and unable to mount a quick, overwhelming response.

3. The killers studied their targets. They obtained detailed floorplans of the theater and set up an ambush in the alley outside one of the main avenues escape.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reading and liberty


Why the best way to honor Frederick Douglass is to read a good book

Is the Future of Reading at Risk?

Some educators are beginning to worry that the wired generation is going to give up serious reading altogether. Judging from our experience here at St. John’s, the future of reading is not at risk. Our students prove every day that it’s perfectly possible to be fully plugged in and at the same time to be absorbed by the greatest books ever written. And that’s a good thing, because the art of reading is critical to our freedom and our happiness.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gleichschaltung and the erosion of liberty


Ran across this old item by Ed Driscoll. Even more relevant today:

From Gaius Gracchus to the Gleichschaltung

Gleichschaltung is a German word (in case you couldn’t have guessed) borrowed from electrical engineering. It means “coordination.” The German National Socialists (Nazis) used the concept to get every institution to sing from the same hymnal. If a fraternity or business embraced Nazism, it could stay “independent.” If it rejected Nazism, it was crushed or bent to the state’s ideology. Meanwhile, every branch of government was charged with not merely doing its job but advancing the official state ideology.

Now, contemporary liberalism is not an evil ideology. Its intentions aren’t evil or even fruitfully comparable to Hitlerism. But there is a liberal Gleichschaltung all the same. Every institution must be on the same page. Every agency must advance the liberal agenda.
(The quoted passage is from Jonah Goldberg)

UPDATE:

This is a great article by Robert D. Kaplan:

The Post-Imperial Moment
This seems to fit quite well with the Goldberg quote:

Witness the Islamic State, which does not represent Islam per se, but Islam combusting with the tyrannical conformity and mass hysteria of the Internet and social media.


Halsey and Nimitz: Leadership and loyalty


Chester Nimitz and William Halsey were as different as two admirals could be. Nimitz was a submariner while Halsey was a carrier commander AND a carrier pilot. Where Nimitz was quiet and outwardly serene even in moments of intense stress, Halsey was loud and profane. Yet in the dark days of 1942 they forged a winning partnership in the Pacific. After Pearl Harbor, when Admiral Nimitz took over command of the Pacific Fleet, he quickly realized that the one carrier admiral he could trust with any mission was Bill Halsey
Edwin Hoyt, Closing the Circle
Nimitz gave Halsey perhaps the two toughest mission of the Pacific War: The Doolittle Raid and the defense of Guadalcanal when the issue was truly in doubt. His trust was amply repaid. In the Solomons Halsey bloodied the Japanese Navy, held Guadalcanal, and began the long advance toward Tokyo Bay.

So, of course, Nimitz was on Team Halsey in 1942 and 1943.

I am more impressed with his actions later in the war and in the post-war period. Victory not only has a hundred fathers, it also brings forth a thousand quibblers and scribblers and ankle-biters. Halsey was (and is) a frequent target for that crowd.

We lack eyewitness records of what happened next, but we know that Halsey barged into the CinCPac conference that day or the next and cleared the air by sounding off loudly, and no doubt profanely, against the defeatism he found. He then and there permanently endeared himself to his commander in chief by backing him and the raiding plan to the hilt. Because he was a vice admiral and Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force, and was liked and respected by all, his words carried decisive weight. Long afterward, when Halsey came under criticism, Nimitz recalled this difficult period and refused to participate in the general censure. "Bill Halsey came to my support and offered to lead the attack", he said. "I'll not be a party to any enterprise than can hurt the reputation of a man like that
E. B Potter, Nimitz

Supporting the man who supported you even when you no longer need his support. That’s loyalty. And without reciprocal loyalty, real leadership is impossible.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lessons in Leadership: Admiral William Halsey


Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery noted that there is one acid test for leadership:

A leader must have infectious optimism. The final test of a leader is the feeling you have when you leave his presence after a conference. Have you a feeling of uplift and confidence?
By that measure, Admiral William F Halsey qualifies as one of the greatest military leaders in our history. No matter what else he did, the man could inspire confidence and optimism.

On 13 April 1942 the USS Enterprise and her escorts rendezvoused with the USS Hornet carrying the Doolittle raiders. Bill Halsey took to the ship’s loud speaker and announced: “This force is bound for Tokyo.”

And the men on board cheered.

They had seen the smoking ruins of the US battle fleet in Pearl Harbor. They knew that the Japanese Empire was sweeping across Asia and the Pacific. Singapore had fallen. American forces had just surrendered on Bataan.

Now the old man on the bull horn said that this small task force of two fragile carriers and a dozen light escorts was heading right to the center of the empire.

And the sailors and flyers cheered.

Infectious optimism indeed.

The informality of his approach to command and his carelessness worried his senior staff and led to serious errors, but the air crews and the lower deck would do anything for him and probably gave him more than they gave any other commander. He was always on their side, the very model of a sailor’s admiral.
Dan van der Vat, The Pacific Campaign
One does not become a “sailor’s admiral” overnight. Halsey had earned his men’s trust through a hundred gestures and actions.

One day he won the training squadron emblem for stupidity: the Flying Jackass, a large aluminum likeness of a donkey, awarded to anyone who broke a safety regulation. He wore it for two weeks until another student pilot won it away from him. Beut he insisted on keeping that particular badge. When he took command of the Saratoga, he said, he would hang it on the bulkhead of his cabin. Any time he got ready to raise hell with some pilot for an infraction of rules, he was going to look at that Flying Jackass and think twice.

Such tales began the legend of Bill Halsey, the only really flying commander of a carrier, and the true aviators got to love him. When he took over his carrier, he continued to add to bits to the legend. From the Saratoga he went to the Enterprise, one of the new carriers of the fleet, as commander of Carrier Division Two [COMCARDIV Two] and he was promoted to admiral. One day a young officer made an error that delayed the launch of planes. Admiral King was present at the time, and King was a noted disciplinarian (who put an end to the advancement of one naval captain because he ran a cruiser aground in a fog trying to get King back to Washington to make an appointment).

'Who was responsible for the delay?' King demanded by signal, and on the bridge of the Enterprise souls quaked as the message was taken to Admiral Halsey's bridge.

'COMCARDIVE Two', was the reply.

There was no further word from the flagship. But on board the Enterprise the story went from keel to masthead. Admiral Halsey was the sort of officer who protected his men, it said
Edwin Hoyt, Closing the Circle

The US Navy of 1942 still operated under the Prohibition imposed on it by Woodrow Wilson. Halsey had no time for such nonsense when his flyers were fighting and dying. He ordered gallons of bourbon for his flight surgeons should they wish to ‘prescribe’ it for pilots. Not everyone in Washington was happy with his action but as Hoyt notes, “a fighting admiral was not to be gainsaid in 1942, when there were so few of them, and Halsey had his way."

Halsey also shows us that real leaders also make invaluable subordinates:

Hoyt:

After Pearl Harbor, when Admiral Nimitz took over command of the Pacific Fleet, he quickly realized that the one carrier admiral he could trust with any mission was Bill Halsey
And this:

Bloch pressed his views on Nimitz, both in conference and in private. In effect, he put an avuncular arm around Nimitz's shoulder and proceeded to tell him how to run the war. Nimitz considered himself fully competent to do the job without such tutelage, but he was at a disadvantage because most of the air officers agreed with Bloch, and Nimitz was not an aviator and had never commanded carriers.

On Wednesday, January 7, the Enterprise force returned to Pearl from patrol and its commander, crusty warrior VAdmn Halsey, came ashore. Halsey's ferocious scowl, which announced to all that he hated the enemy like sin, could not conceal a twinkle in his eye that bespoke his affection for his fellow sailor's, particularly those who served under him.

We lack eyewitness records of what happened next, but we know that Halsey barged into the CinCPac conference that day or the next and cleared the air by sounding off loudly, and no doubt profanely, against the defeatism he found. He then and there permanently endeared hismself to his commander in chief by backing him and the raiding plan to the hilt. Because he was a vice admiral and Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force, and was liked and respected by all, his words carried decisive weight.

E. B Potter, Nimitz


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Let's make America great like this again.


I loved this documentary. Learned alot about eastern railroads and urban architecture.

American Experience:The Rise and Fall of Penn Station

One key quote from architecture critic Paul Goldberger:

Pennsylvania Station is one of the greatest symbols of monumental public space that any American city has ever had. It ennobles the acts of daily life. It makes every citizen feel important.
I like the idea that beautiful public spaces and buildings can ennoble small daily tasks and chores.

Somewhere we got the idea that to be egalitarian one also had to be ruthlessly utilitarian or even tawdry.

Today's history nugget


Somerset County thus would gain the ill-fated distinction of having committed two sets of brothers to the gallows. There were three sets of brothers executed in public hangings in Pennsylvania prior to 1834...

From 1834 to 1906, five pairs of brothers were executed privately or within county jails. The Nicelys and the Roddys were among this group
.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

From my recent reading


Al Lawrence was astonished. 'I was bowled right over for two reasons., he recalled. 'The first thing that hits me is that Chuck isn't surprised if he walks into a room and sees an angel in there. And then he isn't surprised when the angel he sees has dark skin. So I said to myself, Wow! I mean, I am black but have never envisaged seeing a black angel. In my mind angels are always white. But There's Chuck who's telling me he's seen a black angel'


Friday, April 15, 2016

The Wild, Wild West really wasn't so wild


The reason the gunfight in Tombstone had drawn such attention was because such things rarely occurred. Drunks shot each other and lawmen chased down badmen, but marshals just never walked down the streets and shot it out with unconvicted and unindicted suspects.
Casey Tefertiller, Wyatt Earp
Compared to Chicago or Baltimore, we should start calling it the Mild Mild West.

But then what would the hoplophobes use as a talking point?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

From the annals of faulty forecasting


[Dwight] Macdonald went on to attack Wolfe's mannerist style, skewer his penchant for 'elaboration rather than development' and speculate that 'Wolfe will not be read with pleasure, or at all, years from now, and perhaps not even next year.'
March Weingarten, The Gang that Wouldn't Write Straight
That was in the NYRB in 1965

He was wrong. Big time.

Wolfe does not win literary prizes and is despised by many of the biggest names in the literary pantheon. (Check out "My Three Stooges" in Hooking Up). But Wolfe has this going for him: if the mark of greatness is having something to say about "where we are and where we are going", he trumps everybody on the list. Does anyone in Denver look up from her Sunday paper and say "this sounds just like a John Updike novel"? How many people turn on the cable news programs and think "Is Philip Roth scripting this"? Yet from Tawana Brawley to the Duke Lacrosse case, Tom Wolfe scouted the territory before anyone else.




Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More proof the MSM is in the tank for Hillary


Follow the money is just so 20th century.....

.... at least when the money flows to Team Clinton

This deserves to be a bigger story.

Panama Papers Reveal Clinton’s Kremlin Connection

John and Tony Podesta aren’t fooling anyone

The revelations of the so-called Panama Papers that are roiling the world’s political and financial elites this week include important facts about Team Clinton. This unprecedented trove of documents purloined from a shady Panama law firm that arranged tax havens, and perhaps money laundering, for the globe’s super-rich includes juicy insights into how Russia’s elite hides its ill-gotten wealth.

Almost lost among the many revelations is the fact that Russia’s biggest bank uses The Podesta Group as its lobbyist in Washington, DC. Though hardly a household name, this firm is well known inside the Beltway, not least because its CEO is Tony Podesta, one of the best-connected Democratic machers in the country. He founded the firm in 1998 with his brother John, formerly chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, then counselor to President Barack Obama, Mr. Podesta is the very definition of a Democratic insider. Outsiders engage the Podestas and their well-connected lobbying firm to improve their image and get access to Democratic bigwigs.
...

John and Tony Podesta aren’t fooling anyone with this ruse. They are lobbyists for Vladimir Putin’s personal bank of choice, an arm of his Kremlin and its intelligence services. Since the brothers Podesta are presumably destined for very high-level White House jobs next January if the Democrats triumph in November at the polls, their relationship with Sberbank is something they—and Hillary Clinton—need to explain to the public.
RTWT and follow the author on twitter.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Those who forget history . . .


Those who followed thought they understood Europe and Germany's future place in it better than Bismarck. But they understood nothing. They busily engaged in disconnected and aggressive policies that led much of the rest of Europe to perceive Germany as a threat, drove Republican France and Tsarist Russia into an alliance that eventually attracted the British, and tied the German state to the irresponsible and decaying Austro-Hungarian Empire. In effect, while Germany was steadily becoming more powerful in its economic and military strength, its flawed strategic policies were creating an anti-German alliance system of even greater strength.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

First as tragedy, then as farce


Sir Edward Grey, Britain's Foreign Secretary in the years before WWI:

The German Emperor is ageing me; he is like a battleship with steam up and screws going, but with no rudder, and he will run into something some day and cause a catastrophe.