Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!



And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


Luke 2:8-14

Sunday, December 23, 2018

End of The Weekly Standard (II)


In which we discover that “Get Woke, go broke” also applies to TruCons.

In Defense of Philip Anschutz

Truth to tell, Anschutz is not all that different from the benefactors who subsidize Commentary, National Review, National Affairs, and other conservative opinion journals. Most are wealthy individuals who made fortunes in finance or in business and contribute substantial sums to keep these publications going. No one forces them to do it; they make these contributions of time and money as a way of investing in the moral capital of the system that made their fortunes possible in the first place.

Many of those benefactors make business decisions every day as to whether or not to sustain investments in their enterprises, or to pull out of them. Some have withdrawn support from newspapers and opinion magazines when they disagreed with their editorial positions or did not think they could sustain themselves. Does this mean that they are cruel and insensitive people? Many on the Left would say “yes” because to them all wealthy people are suspect. It is surprising to hear “conservatives” imply judgments along similar lines. If this is what these editors think of Anschutz, what must they think of the donors who sustain their own enterprises?

The editors of The Weekly Standard had every right, perhaps a duty, to follow their principles regardless of costs, but it is most ungracious of them and their friends to insist that Philip Anschutz was obliged to pick up their tab.
When TWS decided that #NeverTrump was to be their their enduring brand they they created two strategic problems for themselves. The quality of the product declined and they entered a market crowded with competing offerings.

It does not require a marketing degree to know there would never be a large audience for a conservative magazine with a single-minded mission to bring down a right-leaning president. That audience was more or less what the editors banked on when they embarked on their anti-Trump editorial position even before he took the oath of office.

As the editors soon discovered, the market for their re-tailored magazine was an exceedingly small one. As one wag commented, “why should conservatives pay good money for The Weekly Standard when CNN and the Washington Post will call us fascists for free.” That is harsh, but not all that wide of the mark. Conservatives did not subscribe to the Standard in order to read what their neighbors were hearing on CNN or reading in the New York Times.
The magazine which was once astute and thoughtful became increasingly shrill and predictable.

Orange man bad
Orange Man Bad
Orange Man Bad!
ORANGE MAN BAD!!

For those with long memories, its final years have a certain irony. David Frum in his 2003 screed against anti-war right-wingers wrote:

They began by hating the neoconservatives. They came to hate their party and this president. They have finished by hating their country.
Of Kristol and his allies one might say that they began by hating Candidate Trump. They came to hate the party and activists that nominated him. They became filled with contempt and hostility for their fellow citizens who had the effrontery to vote against the preferences of The Weekly Standard. They finished by hating the man who gave them millions to publish their magazine.

Previously:

The end of The Weekly Standard


Friday, December 21, 2018

Sometimes history isn't forgotten -- it's buried


An insightful review of two books on Jonestown.

Drinking the Kool-Aid

The horrific Jonestown massacre was the largest loss of civilian life in American history prior to 9/11 and remains the largest mass suicide in modern times. Yet the fortieth anniversary of the historic tragedy in Guyana went largely unnoticed. It is as if the maniacal cult leader, Jim Jones—founder of the so-called Peoples Temple—never existed and his grotesque handiwork never happened.

This is by design. Americans are still fascinated by Charles Manson’s murderous crime spree in the late 1960s, and popular culture dwells on other cult leaders, such as David Koresh, whose followers perished in a fiery shootout with federal officers in 1993.
...
All violent crime is heinous, but why have the media tended to ignore the epic villainy of Jim Jones while endlessly harping on incidents such as the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard and the 2015 church shooting by deranged loner Dylann Roof ? Why are largely defunct groups such as Aryan Nations and the KKK tirelessly publicized, while key details of the deadliest cult in American history are swept under the rug—conveniently ignored? The short answer is: ideology. Jones was a radical leftist, and when based in San Francisco he oversaw a formidable political organization that catered to numerous Democratic candidates and elected officials, who embraced him warmly. Jones was a darling of many prominent liberal politicians, up to the macabre end.

Then—poof!—Jones suddenly disappeared down the memory hole.
Popular history -- like media narratives -- is built on the re-tellings; truth often has little involvement. In the re-telling what is left out is often as important ans what is included.

Santayana famously said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but even worse than forgetting the past is deliberately distorting it. Jones is forgotten, or the facts willfully misrepresented, because the truth is painful to the left. To the extent Jones is recalled at all, he is depicted as a well-meaning religious leader who succumbed to madness after moving his flock to a communal sanctuary in the rain forest. This account is a fabrication, providing cover for his countless enablers and defenders, who have largely avoided culpability for their ignominious role in the monstrous tragedy.
Related:

A significant but almost forgotten anniversary



Thursday, December 20, 2018

Tucker Carlson:Quite the transformation


I never would have guessed that Tucker Carlson, of all resercons and Fredocons would have been the guy to break ranks with Conservative, Inc.

But he did, and that marks him as an honest man with more courage than we usually see in Washington.

His new book is the next must read.

He discusses it on a couple of interviews with CSPAN

Here he is with Brian Lamb.



He also did an interview for After Words

Watch the videos and it is no surprise why he is the second most hated man in Washington right now. He asks dangerous questions. And he is not prepared to take the usual BS an an answer.




Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Solzhenitsyn at 100


The American Spectator with a nice appreciation of the man and his importance:

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Centenary

And just as it took many, over decades, to resist and finally exhaust and defeat the Soviet tyranny and confound its imperial ambitions, it took years and decades to defeat the ideas the ideology if you prefer on which it was based. And if there was one champion who defeated communism, who demonstrated the rot at its core, it was a man born a hundred years today, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
****
The importance of his writing cannot be overstated. What remained of a fellow-traveling intellectual class in the West was shaken. Especially when The Gulag Archipelago began to appear in translation (it was first published in a Russian edition in France), it had the effect of an intellectual neutron bomb: fellow-travelers stayed alive, but the mental universe they had lived by was shattered.
I doubt that any other modern writer lived so eventful a life. Before his books made him famous he had served as a Red Army officer in the final offensives that smashed the Third Reich and as a zek in the Gulag for the crime of criticizing Stalin.

All this before he was 30.

As Christopher Hitchens wrote:

Every now and then it happens. The state or the system encounters an individual who, bafflingly, maddeningly, absurdly, cannot be broken. Should they manage to survive, such heroes have a good chance of outliving the state or the system that so grossly underestimated them.
One caveat is in order. TAS notes that Solzhenitsyn was first celebrated in the West, then denounced, and finally ignored. They then add:

If it is any consolation, and it should not be, he was welcomed back to Russia when he returned after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and lived there until the end of his long life, in 2008, without scarcely more honor than he had found during most of his years in Vermont.
Both Gorbachev and Yeltsin tried to give Solzhenitsyn the highest awards their government could offer. He refused them. He accepted a state prize from Putin. When he died in 2007 thousands turned out to pay their respects (including the President of Russia). To mark his centenary, Putin himself unveiled a statue of Solzhenitsyn in Moscow.

In February 2019 an opera based on One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich will premier at the famous Bolshoi theater.

His son Ignat is the musical director and guest conductor.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The end of The Weekly Standard


From Ace:

Weekly Standard Shuts Down

Take ownership of your failure, Bill, Steve, and John. You put people out of work for Christmas through a combination of ego, obsession, and heedless incompetence so rank it reaches the levels of true immorality.
Daniel McCarthy:

Don’t blame Trump for the demise of the Weekly Standard

If the Weekly Standard closes down by year’s end, as is widely expected and as Spectator USA first reported, the country will have lost one of its few remaining writer’s magazines. But for most people, the caliber of writing from Andrew Ferguson or Christopher Caldwell or Matt Labash is not what stands out about the Weekly Standard. Its reputation is tied to the Iraq War and to its founding editor’s reinvention of himself as the most acerbic NeverTrumper on Twitter. The latter has led the New York Times and other outlets to blame the closed-mindedness of conservatives toward criticism of Trump for the magazine’s demise.
John Podhoretz is on Twitter spinning a conspiracy theory blaming the death of TWS on some evil corporate minion who convinced Philip Anschutz to pass on the chance to make some money off the red-ink drenched magazine and to kill it outright as an act of pettiness and spite.

It’s about as plausible as most conspiracy theories. McCarthy is quite good on this point:

Allow me to offer some perspective as a former editor and longtime staffer for a conservative magazine that opposed a Republican president from its very beginning. The American Conservative was launched in 2002 because no other conservative magazine on the East Coast was willing to publish much criticism of George W. Bush or the Iraq War. The situation was considerably worse then for NeverBush conservatives than it is today for a NeverTrumper, not least because in 2002, George W. Bush and his foreign policy enjoyed wide support among elite liberals as well as Republicans.

President Trump and the conservatives who support him did not kill the Weekly Standard. Its flawed business model was the culprit.

His analysis of why killing TWS made business sense is on point so RTWT.

So we have two choices, it appears, when it comes to JPod’s dark fantasies. 1. After a half-century in the magazine business, he knows nothing about the economics of the industry or its business models. 2. He knows but is obscuring the truth to score points on behalf of his friends at TWS.

Ace is equally dismissive of Podhoretz’s desperate attempts to shift the blame away from Kristol, Hayes, et. al.

Isn't this part of the cycle of creative destruction of capitalism you defend and claim is central to conservative identitarianism? Wasn't the candidate you loved in 2012, Mitt Romney, a practitioner of just this sort of wring-inefficiencies-out-of-the-market-by-breaking-down-nonperforming-companies-and-selling-their-useful-parts capitalism?

You're not very good capitalists if you suddenly start whining "Oh no, capitalistic profit-seeking and inefficiency-eliminating hurts when it happens to you! No fair, no fair! Make the bad men stop!"

You guys can't talk like Gordon Gecko when it's someone else getting a pink slip but then whine like Michael Moore when it's you.

There are bad guys here -- but they're not Clarity Media, who kept this sinking ship afloat with bales of money for a long time.
Most Never Trump conservatives are more restrained than JPod and stick to two main themes. First, that the loss of TWS is a loss for intellectual diversity (a theme echoed by the MSM at large.) Second, as natural scolds, they make a big show of tone-policing those online conservatives who are gleefully spiking the football on the news. They proffer concern for those who have lost jobs right before Christmas. Unlike Ace, they concentrate their fire on people like Kurt Schlichter while ignoring those whose hubris and incompetence cost those people their jobs.

As Ace notes, there was not much concern from those quarters when Lee Smith and others lost jobs and platforms as a result of the NeverTrumpers scorched earth campaign to “rule or ruin” the conservative movement. Further, many of these conservative “leaders” who bemoan the unseemliness of celebrating Wm. Kristol’s epic fail were once giddy when they contemplated purging “Trumpers” after the 2016 election.

These “leaders” strike a pose of compassionate concern for TWS staffers. I doubt they would have done so to Trump supporters had Hillary won in 2016.

So, for these “conservative” “leaders” it just comes down to Lenin’s question: “Who, whom?”
As for “diversity of thought” let’s not forget how TWS alum David Frum handled criticism of Bush 43’s war of choice against Iraq. He did not debate critics like Robert Novak or The American Conservative. He declared them “Unpatriotic” and “defeatist.” His attacks on Novak were particularly shameless.

As Novak wrote in his memoirs:

Frum represents a body of conservative opinion that wants to delegitimize criticism from the Right of policy that has led to war against Iraq
Wm. Kristol, whom Novak thought was a friend, supported Frum and refused to defend Novak publically. He never spoke to Novak again and went so far as to side with Wilson and Plame in that long-ago imbroglio.

Note well, that the voices in the MSM decrying the loss of TWS and the resulting decline in diversity of opinions were not nearly so vocal when Kevin Williamson was tossed out by The Atlantic.

Let’s exit on this:

The Veiled Anti-American Sentiment Of Open Borders Politicians

BILL KRISTOL SAYS ‘LAZY’ WHITE WORKING CLASS SHOULD BE REPLACED BY ‘NEW AMERICANS’





Thursday, December 13, 2018

The continuing appeal of the hive mind


The mindset of the men who presume the right to rule over us.

This is from the always informative Economic Principals

A Worldly Philosopher (or Two) at 100

Asimov is said to have written or edited 500 books. The best-known among them are science fiction. The ones that had the greatest influence on some young economists have been collected as the Foundation trilogy, an ingenious space opera on whose large canvas George Lucas’s Star Wars films are partly based. Asimov’s novels turn on applications of psychohistory, a rigorous social science that has emerged in the distant future, to reverse an impending slow descent into barbarism of an immense galactic empire.

Hal Varian. Google’s chief economists, relates the effect of Asimov’s vision of philosophical history on him, at 14. “It was about a future where social science had become an exact science, and you could mathematically model human behavior. When I got to MIT, I realized that mathematically modeling human behavior was called economics. It shaped my whole life.”

Or see Paul Krugman’s 2012 essay in The Guardian: “There are certain novels that can shape a teenage boy’s life. For some, it’s Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged; for others it’s Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings…. But for me, of course, it was neither. My Book – the one that has stayed with me for four-and-a-half decades – is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, written when Asimov was barely out of his teens himself. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a square-jawed individualist or join a heroic quest; I grew up wanting to be Hari Seldon, using my understanding of the mathematics of human behavior to save civilization.”
Related:

The birth of the hive mind

Sometimes it seems that all worthwhile social commentary is really just elaborations on G. K. Chesterton

The Hive mind revisited


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Sometimes bureaucratic failures have a body count


Air Force had 4 chances to stop Texas church shooter from buying guns, missed each one: IG report
Just like Nidal Hasan and Ft. Hood.

Before that there was Dean Melberg and the Fairchild AFB murders.

The military policeman who ended the shooting has written an informative book on the murders, the killer, and the aftermath.

He discussed the book and the incident on this podcast. Highly recommended.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, many defended the police non-response by claiming that no one armed with just a pistol could stop a mass killer who was armed with a semi-automatic rifle. At Fairchild AFB, SSgt. Andy Brown did just that. At a range of seventy yards he fired four shots, hit Melberg with two of them. One was a head shot that ended the fight.

There are a bunch of people who are alive today because SSgt. Brown was the man on the scene on 20 June 1994.

In a healthy media culture Brown would be as famous as David Hogg.

Exit question: why did the command failures at Fairchild get ignored while those at Tailhook were front page news for years and years?

Is it for the same reason that the Parkland and Charleston church shootings have received 100 times the attention given to Sutherland Springs church murders?



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

An Attorney-General walks into a jail - in handcuffs


A complete crap-show and the media is in the middle of it.

The Backstory: How Kathleen Kane became the 'architect of her own ruin'
This podcast is informative on multiple levels:

Porn, leaks and petty politics
Kane went from a dark horse in the 2012 Democratic primary to rising star in the party (she drew more votes than Barack Obama in the 2012 general election) to star of a reality version of "Orange is the New Black." All this in less than six years.

To make everything even more twisted, the prime agent of her downfall was a fellow democrat-the DA in Philadelphia - who is himself now in jail for corruption while in office.

Until her indictment, the she waged a vendetta against critics and former aides in the press thanks to journalists who were willing to use unnamed sources in frontpage articles.

The Clinton's make an appearance in the story but not in the Narrative

Kane owed her rapid rise to her status as a Friend of Bill and former campaign worker for Hilary. Bill Clinton came to campaign for her in 2012 and most observers credit that with boosting her to the top of a crowded primary field.

The Clinton-connection has been memory-holed. Inconvenient to the various Narratives in play in this the Current Year.

The Penn State triangulation

In her campaign, Kane pulled off a neat trick of triangulation worthy of the Clintons.

In 2012 the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the Penn State's connection to it was an all-consuming story here in the commonwealth. Her predecessor as AG, Tom Corbett, had overseen the investigation that brought the scandal to light. Corbett was the sitting governor and a Republican.

By carefully tailoring her message, Kane managed to appeal to two completely separate groups of voters. To PSU alums and supporters of Joe Paterno she seemed to suggest that Corbett had engaged in a vendetta against the university and the legendary coach. To the haters of Penn State and the hard left, she suggested that Corbett had been slow to move against Sandusky because he was a Republican, and, hence un-Woke and corrupt.

It was a neat trick. Kane, for all her failings and weakneses, was a adept campaigner

Why "media ethics" is a joke - "We don't care about the felony or abuse of power if it helps us sell newspapers."

As mentioned, Kane's vendettas were played out on the pages of the newspapers. She is in jail today because she leaked grand jury testimony to a Philadelphia paper in an attempt to discredit a critic.

NB: That paper is still proud of the fact that they never revealed their source EVEN WHEN IT WAS CLEAR THAT THAT SOURCE WAS PROBABLY WORKING ON BEHALF OF THE COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY GENERAL AND WAS BREAKING THE LAW.

In short, to get the story they agreed to ignore the crimes that put Kane in a jail cell.

How many other felonies are covered-up so journalists can make money and win prizes?

As noted here many moons ago:

A reliable and trustworthy source is someone willing to break trust with his or her colleagues and betray the confidences of their friends.
Or as army intelligence officer Col. Stuart A. Herrington wrote:

In the unique world occupied by our media colleagues, trusted government civil servants who betray sensitive information are First Amendment heroes.
Related:

Why 'investigative journalism' is problematic

Feet of clay and heads of stone


Saturday, December 08, 2018

Religion and the Nazis


This sounds like an interesting and important book.

NEW AGE AND THE NAZIS

If the Nazis did not carry out their crimes as integral and predictable expressions of Western Civilization and Christian theology, what did ground them? What were their guiding beliefs and principles? The extent to which Nazism was informed by neo-paganism is made clear in Eric Kurlander's 2017 book Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, published by Yale University Press. Hitler's Monsters is a dense, ambitious, scholarly tome. There are over one hundred pages of footnotes and bibliography. Kurlander acknowledges that previous authors have documented Nazism's involvement with New Age ideas and practices, and he draws on these authors' work. Kurlander also acknowledges that without the perfect storm of historical circumstances exploited by Hitler, including Germany's defeat in WW I, the punitive Versailles Treaty, and the Depression, Nazism probably never would have risen to power. And Kurlander notes that New Age beliefs don't cause a believer to become a Nazi. But Kurlander is unafraid to state the importance of his research. "No mass political movement drew as consciously or consistently as the Nazis on … occultism and … pagan, New Age, and Eastern religions, folklore, mythology … Without understanding this relationship between Nazism and the supernatural, one cannot fully understand the history of the Third Reich … Hitler's Monsters is the first book to address this rich, fascinating, often extraordinary relationship from the party's origins to the end of the Second World War … the Third Reich would have been highly improbable without a widespread penchant for supernatural thinking."
You can get a sense of what the Nazis believed by walking through any given New Age store. On such a visit, you will encounter astrology, reincarnation, hypnotism, Chinese massage, and yoga how-to books, next to homeopathic flower "cures," vegetarian recipes, and magical gardening manuals advising you to harvest your crops in tune with the movement of celestial bodies. There will be alternative histories of the universe and planet Earth, including books about the lost city of Atlantis. For teens, there will be lurid witch, vampire and werewolf novels.
****
Top Nazis were not only not believing Christians, they were anti-Christian and determined to extirpate Christianity from their Reich. As Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach said, "the destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as a purpose of the National Socialist movement." Alfred Rosenberg dreamed of a day when "Nordic sagas and fairy tales will take the place of the Old Testament stories of pimps and cattle dealers." Nazism's anti-Christian, pagan worldview was obvious to contemporaries. Christopher Dawson, "the greatest English-speaking Catholic historian of the twentieth century," warned in 1935 that Nazism could "develop a mythology and ethic" that may "take the place of Christian theology and Christian ethics." On January 13, 2002, Joe Sharkey, writing in The New York Times, reported on then-recently released documents outlining "How Hitler's Forces Planned to Destroy German Christianity."


Friday, December 07, 2018

Pearl Harbor


This book demolishes many of the myths that have grown up around the attack.

You can listen to the "fireside chat" FDR gave to the nation on 9 December 1941 (here).

Two articles that examine the nature and causes of the intelligence failure:

How the Japanese Did it

Pearl Harbor's Overlooked Answer



Thursday, December 06, 2018

The real Bletchley Park


Bletchley Park: Britain's wartime intelligence factory

It certainly wasn't the case that Turing alone cracked Enigma, any more than there was a single Enigma to be cracked.

And in any case, breaking an Enigma 'user group' was only the first stage. It enabled messages to be read, but what did the messages mean? The men and women of Bletchley Park could only find out by painstakingly synthesising and analysing thousands of decoded messages. This in turn meant that they had to develop a complex data management operation, mainly based on cross-referenced card indexes that were sometimes filed in shoeboxes. It also demanded that they created an intelligence assessment function, so that they could produce something useable to the Allies' military commanders.
Previously in these pages

Winston Churchill and the Secret World

Understanding intelligence

Britian's secret weapon in the war against Hitler

Intelligence Stovepipes: They're a feature, not a bug

You can't expect much history in "historical dramas" when SJWs are in charge
Also good to see a good man get the credit he is due:

It was the task of handling huge volumes of Enigma decrypts so that solid military intelligence could be produced that made Gordon Welchman a key figure at Bletchley Park. A Cambridge mathematician, like his more famous colleague Alan Turing, Welchman devised the system that was to process thousands of messages each day - from interception through to decryption, translation and analysis.


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

The con that destroyed the quality of work life for millions


"Mr. Pym is a man of rigid morality - except, of course, as regards his professions, whose essence is to tell plausible lies for money ."
Dorothy L. Sayers, Murder Must Advertise
Former CEO of Steelcase admits that the 'open office' hype was just a way for bean counters to save money. From the Freakonomics podcast:

DUBNER: So Steelcase was regarded as a great company to work for, which, I'm guessing, you had a little something to do with. And you were regarded as - the Wall Street Journal called you,"a pioneer of the open office," and it really did change the way that we began to think about how an office should look and feel and work. So first of all, persuade me that the notion of the open office wasn't just a commercial idea to encourage every company in America and the world to redo their offices so that you could sell more furniture. And there's nothing wrong with that.

HACKETT: No, no, no. I'm going to endorse that notion, but I was not the father of it. By the time I came in as C.E.O. in the late 80's, Herman Miller, Inc. was really the early purveyor of the open office, and it came from Germany. And the real movement really started here in New York. As the rents went up, it allowed you to get more density. That was really the underlying thing.

If I want to take credit for a movement, it was shifting the amount of space that you actually devoted to cubicles, and moving that to teams. So I call that "The shift between I and we." But to make team spaces really cool and attractive, we had to do some unique things that weren't being done.
Once again, the corollary to Conquest's First Law holds true:

In a business context Conquest's Law suggests that those who promote the Next New Thing-- be they consultants, IT salesmen, journalists, or would-be gurus-- fall into one of two categories:

1. Ignorant, naive amateurs whose knowledge of the subject is superficial but whose enthusiasm is genuine.

2. Cynical hucksters who know better but hope their audience does not.
Related:

Thinking about thinking, creativity and, innovation


Monday, December 03, 2018

This is why Charles C. W. Cooke is the best thing about National Review


From his review of Max Boot's latest book:

Flight from the Deplorables

[B]y the end of his book, it has become painfully clear that Boot has sacrificed very little by walking away from the GOP. As he was before his great awakening, Boot remains a non-religious, pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, socially liberal, pro–New Deal “Eisenhower Republican” who considers that climate change requires harsh government action; hopes for strict gun control, including a ban on “assault weapons”; remains warm toward markets and trade; and favors an aggressive and interventionist foreign policy. Which . . . well, makes him precisely the sort of the person who would have been able to weather a Hillary Clinton presidency without too much fear — or, given her more hawkish instincts and views on abortion, guns, religious liberty, and welfare spending, would have arguably preferred it.
That Max Boot is a mendacious, mediocre hack is one thing -- and a pretty small thing at that.

The bigger questions-- the far more interesting and important question-- is how did he ever get inside Conservative, Inc. in the first place? Why would anyone running a "conservative" publication hire such a slippery, pedestrian, not very conservative polemicist to write for them?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Some people never learn


The People's Temple is not the only murderous cult that earned praise from California Gov. Jerry Brown. When he ran for Mayor of Oakland, he also ozied up to Yusef Bey and the Your Black Muslim Bakery.

The bakery was an off-shoot of the Nation of Islam which mixed murder with child-rape. While praised as a model for economic self-help, it relied on funding from California's social welfare system and various forms of fraud. Like the People's Temple, the majority of the victims were poor African-Americans.

Brown was not alone in his support for the YBMB and the Bey family. Ron Dellums -- an extremely left-wing Congressman who became mayor of Oakland after Brown -- was another. So was Dellums's successor and former aid Rep. Barbara Lee.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Myth-busting


Daniel Flynn is doing good work

Mythology As History

The troubled man who murdered Harvey Milk and George Moscone killed them over a petty grievance, not anti-gay bigotry.
Quite similar to the murder of Matthew Shepard and the false narrative that took hold

Sadly, I doubt that Flynn's work will make a dent on the mythology. When the MSM finds a useful Narrative the facts are unimportant.

Monday, November 26, 2018

' . . . chance favors only the prepared mind.'


The LAPD set out to catch one serial killer, and inadvertently caught a different one.

How LAPD's "Closers" Nabbed the Westside Rapist

The police were using a DNA dragnet to find the Grim Sleeper. In so doing, they caught John Floyd Thomas aka The Westside Rapist.

Theories crumble, but good observations never fade.
Harlow Shapley (astronomer)
The big break in the case came because a detective took special care to collect and preserve trace evidence in case forensic science ever began using DNA to solve crimes. He did this long before such evidence had ever been used in court.

Then a crucial coincidence occurred, the kind of thing that would give Harry Bosch pause: It was 1976, and Manchester saw a magazine article about the science of DNA technology. “It was something pretty new,” Manchester says today. In fact, most cops then relied on crime-scene analysis as rudimentary as grade-school math: spraying Luminol to locate fingerprints, and identifying blood types and groups.

Influenced by the fascinating magazine piece, Manchester did something odd for those times: He insisted that the Los Angeles County autopsy technicians save as much human detritus and trace evidence found at the McKeown crime scene as possible. His unusual request would prove instrumental in solving the dust-gathering case, retrieved from a police evidence shelf by Bengtson and his partner Vivian Flores three decades later.
This is another serial killer who does not fit the popular image. Time and again on TV and in movies we’ve seen a cop or a profiler harangue their boss or other authority figure:

This guy is out there. He’s killed before. He will kill again, and he will keep on killing until somebody stops him.

The cinematic predator either won’t stop because he is arrogant or he can’t stop because he has an overwhelming compulsion to kill. An orgy of violence builds until the brave and brilliant hero (or heroine) finally brings the killer to justice.
Yet, in the last decade we’ve seen something completely different. Killers like the Grim Sleeper, BTK, or the Golden State Killer all have gone on long hiatuses or stopped killing completely.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A significant but almost forgotten anniversary


Forty years ago, the world was trying to come to terms with the horrifying news out of Guyana

The People's Temple Massacre is the worst mass murder of US citizens excepting only 9-11. The anniversary passed without much press attention. A new book on Jim Jones and his cult-prison may tell us why this crime has been so effectively memory-holed.

City Journal reviewed the book:

Jim Jones, Made in San Francisco

Forty years after the Jonestown massacre, a new book chronicles the deep ties between the depraved cult leader and prominent Democratic politicians.

Flynn does a good job of laying out the social and political landscape of the Bay Area in the late seventies and situating the bizarre respect that the Jones cult received within the general fruitiness of the era. Jim Jones’s Bay Area was the same milieu that gave rise to the Zodiac killer, the lost-in-time Zebra murders, and the depredations of the Symbionese Liberation Army.
***
At the same time, Jim Jones’s connection to mainstream Democratic politics has been suppressed. He and the Peoples Temple, which exalted racial diversity and social justice, have been cast as harrowing examples of Christian religious extremism, though Jones preached atheism and ordered his followers to use the Bible as toilet paper. A roster of leaders who remain dominant figures in California politics today embraced Jones publically. Jerry Brown, then and now governor of the state, approvingly visited the Peoples Temple, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, who ascended to the mayoralty upon Moscone’s assassination, joined the Board of Supervisors in honoring Jones.
Then there is this gem from the "mentor" of CA senator and 2020 Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris:

Willie Brown, longtime speaker of the California state assembly, a mayor of San Francisco, and the mentor of Senator Kamala Harris, was especially lavish in his praise of Jones, calling him “a combination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Albert Einstein, and Chairman Mao.”
An article by Daniel Flynn on Jim Jones and his enablers:

Jim Jones’s Tenured Apologist
A recent discussion on KQED with several People's Temple members who survived:

The Tragedy of Jonestown, 40 Years Later
Leave it to the Huffington Post to find a way to smear Trump with the deeds of demented, mass murdering leftists:

40 Years After The Jonestown Massacre, We Haven’t Learned Its Lessons
NPR tried to do the same thing but with a little more subtlety.

40 Years Later, Jonestown Offers A Lesson In Demagoguery


Friday, November 23, 2018

Thought for the season


And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tarawa-- 75 years ago


On this day in 1943 the US Marines invaded the Tarawa atoll in the Gilbert Islands. For the Marines and Navy, this was the first great battle in the Central Pacific offensive.

Col. Joseph H. Alexander:

The vast oceanic expanses of Micronesia also dictated a change in naval tactics. Most of the previous amphibious assaults in the Solomons and New Guinea had been executed against large land masses which offered penetration by surprise at undefended points. These scenarios featured relatively short distances between launch bases and target objectives, often short enough to enable a shore-to-shore landing without amphibious transports. After Guadalcanal, American commanders in the South and Southwest Pacific theaters conducted every amphibious landing fully within the protective umbrella of land-based air support.

These conditions were generally absent in the Central Pacific. Operation Galvanic, the campaign to seize the Gilberts, would feature unprecedented advances in long-range, fast carrier strike forces; large-scale, self-sustaining amphibious expeditionary units; and mobile logistic squadrons designed to sustain the momentum of those new forces. Admiral Nimitz was forming the elements of a 'sea-going blitzkrieg' that would hold tremendous significance for the outcome of the Pacific War. But much would ride on the amphibious seizure of Tarawa.
The main island, Betio, was heavily fortified. No larger than Central Park, the 4,500 defenders had constructed a dense network of pillboxes and trenches. As Alexander notes, “Yard for yard, Betio was the toughest fortified position the Marines would ever face." The Japanese commander, Rear Admiral Keiji Shibasaki announced to his men "A million men cannot take Tarawa in a hundred years"

The 2d Marines took Betio in four days.

It was no cake walk. The architect of the assault plan, Col. David Shoup, noted in his combat note book: “With God and the U.S. Navy in direct support of the 2d MarDiv there was never any doubt that we would get Betio. For several hours, however, there was considerable haggling over the exact price we were to pay for it.”

Five thousand men came ashore on the first day. By sundown they had suffered 30% casualties. One thousand Americans died and another 2,300 were wounded in three days of fighting.

Col. Joseph Alexander:

The Guadalcanal campaign had cost a comparable amount of Marine casualties over six months; Tarawa’s losses occurred in a period of 76 hours.
The American public was shocked at the high cost of taking such a small speck of land.

Shocked, but not deterred. Alexander:

Once the American public came to deal with the shock of the bodies floating in the shallows along Red Beach, the national mood became one of grim determination.
That resolution represented doom for Japan. Her war strategy was premised entirely on the idea the Americans would tire of the war and refuse to pay the price to roll back Tokyo’s conquests. This, in turn, would open the way to a negotiated settlement. Tarawa demonstrated that this premise was a pipe dream.

Later invasions in the Marshalls and Marianas benefited greatly from the lessons learned at Tarawa. At those battles, the Navy and Marines went into action with better doctrine, better weapons, and superior numbers. On Betio, they depended on guts, courage, and the initiative of enlisted men and junior officers.

Two telling sketches from Robert Leckie. The first from the day of the invasion:

In another Amtrack was a stocky corporal named John Joseph Spillane, a youngster who had a big-league throwing arm and the fielding ability which had brought Yankee and Cardinal scouts around to talk to his father. The Old Lady and Corporal Spillane went into Betio in the first wave, a load of riflemen crouching below her gunwales, a thick coat of hand-fashioned steel armor around her unlovely hull. Then she came under the sea wall and the Japanese began lobbing grenades into her.

The first came in hissing and smoking and Corporal Spillane dove for it. He trapped it and pegged it in a single, swift practiced motion. Another. Spillane picked it off in mid-air and hurled it back. There were screams. There were no more machine-gun bullets rattling against The Old Lady's sides. Two more smoking grenades end-over-ended into the amtrack. Spillane nailed both and flipped them on the sea wall. The assault troops watched him in fascination. And then the sixth one came in and Spillane again fielded and threw.

But this one exploded.

Johnny Spillane was hammered to his knees. His helmet was dented. There was shrapnel in his right side, his neck, his right hip, and there was crimson spouting from the pulp that had been his right hand.

But the assault troops had vaulted onto the beach and were scrambling for the sea wall. Though Johnny Spillane's baseball career was over, he had bought these riflemen precious time, and he was satisfied to know it as he called, 'Let's get outta here,' to his driver and the squat gray amphibian backed out into the water to take him out to the transport where the doctor would amputate his right hand at the wrist.
On 24 November, Marine Generals Holland Smith and Julian Smith toured Tarawa:

The generals Smith began to tour the island. Even Julian Smith, who had been on Betio since November 22, was stunned by what he saw. Both generals understood at last why pillboxes and blockhouses which had withstood bombs and shells had eventually fallen. Within each of them lay a half-dozen or more dead Japanese, their bodies sprawled around those of three or four Marines. Julian Smith's men had jumped inside to fight it out at muzzle range.

Many of the pillboxes were made of five sides, each ten feet long, with a pair of entrances shielded against shrapnel by buffer tiers. Each side was made of two layers of coconut logs eight inches in diameter, hooked together with clamps and railroad spikes, with sand poured between each layer. The roof was built of two similar layers of coconut logs. Over this was a double steel turret, two sheathings of quarter-inch steel rounded off to deflect shells. Over this was three feet of sand.

'By God!' Howlin' Mad exclaimed. 'The Germans never built anything like this in France. No wonder these bastards were sitting back here laughing at us. They never dreamed the marines could take this island, and they were laughing at what would happen to us when we tried it'. Howlin' Mad shook his head in disbelief. 'How did they do it, Julian?', he began, and then, below and above the sea wall he found his answer.

Below it as many as 300 American bodies floated on that abundant tide. Above it, leaning against it in death, was the body of a young Marine. His right arm was still flung across the top of the sea wall. A few inches from his fingers stood a little blue-and-white flag. It was a beach marker. It told succeeding waves where they should land. The Marine had planted it there with his life, and now it spoke such eloquent reply to that question of a moment ago that both generals turned away from it in tears.

'Julian,' Howlin' Mad Smith went on in soft amendment-- 'how can such men be defeated?'

The week after the landing Time magazine pronounced its verdict on the battle. The sentiment was correct but not in the way Time intended:

Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of Concord Bridge, the Bon Homme Richard, the Alamo, Little Big Horn and Belleau Wood. The name was “Tarawa.”
Tarawa deserves to be remembered with those other battles. The thing is, America no longer cares much about remembering the heroes who came before us.

Related:

'We Were Going to Win . . . or Die There'

Tarawa II: Learning and doing

Nimitz


Monday, November 19, 2018

Why the MSM can’t reform itself


Trapped in a Deep Blue bubble and blinded by overweening self-regard

The chief theoretical organ of the MSM comforts the journalists who read it: “It’s not you, it’s them”

How did Republicans learn to hate the news media?

For many Republicans, the existence of a liberal media bias is an established fact, like the temperature at which water freezes. Attacks by Donald Trump, like the one he made last week on CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, resonate loudly with his base. Scores of opinion polls show that Republicans think journalists favor Democrats and oppose the GOP. A late-2017 Cato Institute survey found that 63 percent of Republicans believe that journalists are an “enemy of the American people,” reiterating a charge that first came from Trump.

My father didn’t want to hear any evidence that contradicted his views, and neither do today’s Republican media haters. The hallmark of a prejudice is that you don’t have to prove it: You just know it.
Ten or fifteen years ago, this article would have made for a good fisking. But what’s the point?

The people who read blogs which fisk journalists have been convinced (correctly in my opinion) that Marco Rubio was right:

The Democrats have the ultimate ‘super PAC’; it’s called the mainstream media.
The MSM, for its part, has never been willing to engage its critics on the Right. To protect its monopoly on “explanation space” they prefer to dismiss opposing arguments rather than engage them.

The article strikes all the boring tropes we’ve heard for ages: Nixon Agnew and Fox News Bad! Edward R. Murrow Good! Joe McCarthy Very Bad! Richard Hofstadter Very Good! Orange Man and his Deplorables Very Very Bad!

As I said, the author wants his readers to feel good about themselves by assuring them that it is their critics who are the problem. There is no need for reform since they are good enough, they are smart enough and doggone it, [the respectable] people like them.

Related:

Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect

Max Peak MSM Blue Bubble

What you see when you connect the dots

Why do journalists love twitter and hate blogging?

Journalists and Twitter redux

They still don’t get it


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Modern architecture


When ideology trumps ability and artistic vision

Authoritarianism in Cement and Steel

The ideals of the modernists? Totalitarianism and the view of Man as a termite or even bacterium was implicit in everything that they said and every­thing that they did: and again, I do not see how anybody could fail to see a totalitarian sensibility in their architecture. Le Corbusier detested the street because it escaped the supposedly “rational” control of the bureaucratic planner. The very year after four million people had fled the advancing Nazis, he saw fit in a little book to advocate the expulsion of millions of people from Paris because he, the great architect, saw no reason why they should be there. He wanted to park them instead in the countryside so that they could hew wood and draw water, as was (in his elevated opinion) their proper destiny. If this is idealism, I’ll have none of it.
….
The charge against modernism is not that it represented a changeCurl is specifically an admirer of all the great and varied architectural achievements of the past, not only European, and has published widely on thembut that it represented a revolutionary change for the worse, a destructive force such that a single one of its productions could (and often did) ruin a townscape built up over centuries. It was this egotistical indifference to what already existed, as well as utter lack of humanity, that was so aesthetically, and one might add psychologically, devastating in England and elsewhere.
Indifference? Or an unthinking hostility to what already exists married to an overwhelming Will to Power?

Robert Conquest:

'Intelligentsia' is, of course, a Russian word. The condition of being an intelligent was defined not by intelligence but by the acceptance of the Idea -- so given, with the capital letter, and defined as the total destruction of the existing order and its replacement by a perfect society run by none other than the intelligentsia.
Roger Scruton:

Architects, who once were servants of the people who employed them, and conscious contributors to a shared public space, have rebranded themselves as self-expressive artists, whose works are not designed to fit in to a prior urban fabric, but to stand out as tributes to the creative urge that gave rise to them. Their meaning is not "we" but "I," and the "I" in question gets bigger with every new design.

Gehry belongs to a small and exclusive club of "starchitects," who specialize in designing buildings that stand out from their surroundings, so as to shock the passerby and become causes célèbres. They thrive on controversy, since it enables them to posture as original artists in a world of ignorant philistines. And their contempt for ordinary opinion is amplified by all attempts to prevent them from achieving their primary purpose, which is to scatter our cities with blemishes that bear their unmistakable trademark. Most of these starchitects -- Daniel Libeskind, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas -h ave equipped themselves with a store of pretentious gobbledygook, with which to explain their genius to those who are otherwise unable to perceive it. And when people are spending public money they will be easily influenced by gobbledygook that flatters them into believing that they are spending it on some original and world-changing masterpiece.
GK Chesterton:

Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which your are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked. ... It may be that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal and that you are a paralytic.
Anthony Daniels:

The word intellectual, by the way, does not imply high intellect, which the holy trinity of modernism, Gropius, Mies and Corbusier, certainly did not possess. What they possessed instead were psychopathic ambition, ruthlessness and a talent for self-promotion.
Tom Wolfe:

Le Corbusier's instincts for the compund era were flawless. Early on, he seemed to comprehend what became an axiom of artistic competition in the twentieth century. Namely, that the ambitious young artist must join a 'movement,' a 'school' an ism-- which is to say, a compound. He is either willing to join a clerisy and subscribe to its codes and theories or he gives up all hope of prestige.
Lionel Trilling:

Ideology is not the product of thought; it is the habit or the ritual of showing respect for certain formulas to which, for various reasons having to do with emotional safety, we have very strong ties and of whose meaning and consequences in actuality we have no clear understanding
Related:

The Birth of the Hive mind

The Hive mind revisited