Monday, January 29, 2018

This is still good advice

There is no panacea for peace that can be written out in a formula like a doctor’s prescription. But one can set down a series of practical points—elementary principles drawn from the sum of human experience in all times. Study war and learn from its history. Keep strong, if possible. In any case, keep cool. Have unlimited patience. Never corner an opponent and always assist him to save his face. Put yourself in his shoes—so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid self-righteousness like the devil—nothing is so self-blinding. Cure yourself of two commonly fatal delusions—the idea of victory and the idea that war cannot be limited
B H Liddell-Hart, Deterent or Defense (1960)

The Thucydides trap and the Korean conundrum

Sad but true

Friday, January 26, 2018

When justice loses to Social Justice

The Netflix series “The Keepers” has brought attention to the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik. In all the commentary on the series and the case I’ve not seen any mention of one particularly salient fact: Sister Cathy’s murder is less likely to be solved because it occurred in Maryland.

In the Free State the politicians surrendered to the SJWs and rejected useful crime solving tools.

Familial DNA testing has already led to the capture of killers who have long eluded justice. It was instrumental in identifying Lonnie Franklin, Jr. as the Grim Sleeper serial killer in Los Angeles.

Maryland has made it illegal for police to use it.


Maryland and the District of Columbia are the only United States jurisdictions that have banned the use of familial DNA searches in investigations and prosecutions.5 Maryland was the first jurisdiction to pass the ban in 2008, followed by the District of Columbia. Conversely, California, New York, Colorado, Florida, and Virginia have adopted laws to allow limited use of familial DNA investigations. Many other states allow familial searches without legislative imprimatur.

So why has Maryland outlawed the use of familial DNA when so many other jurisdictions are moving towards the use of familial DNA searching? Maryland's movement to ban familial DNA searches was led by Stephen B. Mercer, then in private practice and now the Chief of the Forensics Division of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Don’t confuse us with the facts

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.
Saul Bellow, To Jerusalem and Back
I’ve written before about the role respected experts played in the ritual child abuse panic of the 1980s and 1990s. (cf. “They trusted the experts") At the heart of many of these cases were “victims” who “recovered” suppressed memories with the help of therapists. These new “memories” then were recounted in court where judges and juries accepted them as conclusive evidence.

Eventually courts came to realize that recovered memories were dangerously problematic. Serious scholars destroyed what little scientific support the concept once had. Most of the convictions were overturned.

It seemed that rationality had reasserted itself.

I ran across this Weekly Standard article from 2003 which struck exactly that optimistic note:

The End of a Delusion

AT THE END of the nineteenth century, Sigmund Freud--ever anxious to present an overarching, universal explanation for mental unrest--suggested that "repressed memories" of childhood sexual abuse are a common cause of adult mental disorders.

He quickly abandoned the idea (replacing it with the concept of infantile sexuality) when he saw that it harmed rather than helped his patients. But such ideas seem to have lives of their own, and a hundred years after Freud first proposed it, the idea of repressed memories rose again in new and even gaudier clothing. Grown beyond Freud's unadorned view of domestic misconduct, it came to include beliefs that many of these sexual traumas--which the troubled patients' shocked minds had repressed--took place during Satanic rituals and experiments aboard alien spacecraft.

It is today almost impossible to understand how anyone ever believed this absurd and ridiculous notion, but it was less than a decade ago that the idea was flourishing in America. The American psychiatric and psychological establishment bears a shame that will be hard ever to wash away. Thousands of patients--thousands of sick, damaged people who had come to medical professionals for help--were destructively misdirected into trolling through their pasts in search of hidden sexual trauma. By the late 1980s, wards and clinics in university psychiatric departments, eminent hospitals, and even the National Institute of Mental Health were devoted to uncovering these repressed memories.

The craze for this psychiatric madness was never universal, and, to their credit, some theorists and practicing psychiatrists resisted the practices and ideas in what Frederick Crews aptly dubbed the "memory wars." The importance of Richard J. McNally's new book "Remembering Trauma" lies not just in the superb and definitive survey McNally makes of the history of repressed memories, but also in what the book stands for: "Remembering Trauma" is the monument built to mark the end of the memory wars. The repressed-memory diagnosis has finally been repressed.

Sadly, there are no final victories in the war between rational thought and pseudoscience. Oprah, after all, did more than anyone to promote the Recovered Memory movement and now our cultural elite want to make her president.
Or take the Netflix series “the Keepers” which was nominated for an Emmy in the Documentary category. Ostensibly about the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik in Baltimore in 1969, it devotes much of its running time to horrific stories of sexual abuse suffered by students at Keough High School. The perpetrators were an organized ring which included priests, policemen, and other powerful men in the city.

“The Keepers” wants us to believe that Sister Cathy was murdered because she was going to expose the abuse. Her murder is unsolved, of course, because the perpetrators of the abuse included powerful figures who could quash the investigation.

And at the center of the revelations are witnesses who came forward after undergoing recovered memory therapy.

The Dangerously Misleading Narrative Of "The Keepers"
Or, to put it another way, the critics and pundits lavished praise on a TV series that depends solely on pseudoscience for its grand narrative and emotional punch.
They even persist in their praise when physical evidence undercuts the narrative.

Exhumed priest’s DNA doesn’t match evidence in case of ‘Sister Cathy’ slaying from 1969
Some might wonder why the MSM showed such vigor in refuting the conspiracy theories about Comet Ping Pong and Pizzagate and yet heaped praise on a TV series that was based on similar conspiracy theories and speculation.

But remember. They are “elite” and expert so shut up and listen.

Friday, January 19, 2018

"... who controls the present controls the past."

Continuing the theme of re-writing history, Steve Sailer has a couple of good posts.

Retconning History

Jim Crow South Versus Hitler
We have a big problem in America. It is not that most of our citizens don't know much about history. It's that they think they have a deep understanding of our past based on the 2-dimensional morality plays they see in movies and on TV or (more rarely) read in novels.

The IYIs in the MSM bubble know they are smarter and better informed than the yokels in Sh!thol, Wisconsin. After all, they read Philip Roth and Watch "Man in the High Castle."


The Politics Below the History

Thursday, January 18, 2018

As their Weemsy takes them

A follow-on to the previous post:

Female-Driven WWII Spy Thriller in the Works From 'Equity,' 'Queen of Katwe' Producers (Exclusive)

The real-life drama will center on Vera Atkins, the British intelligence officer who recruited for Winston Churchill and oversaw the secret agents who parachuted into France to sabotage the Nazis.

The spy recruiter is at the heart of a new female-driven World War II spy thriller, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively. Sarah Megan Thomas who created, produced and starred in the story of last year's Wall Street thriller Equity wrote the project's script and will produce the real-life drama with Lydia Dean Pilcher, who will direct. Casting is currently underway, and principal photography is set to begin in the spring.

Based on true events, the as-yet untitled pic tells the story of Atkins, known for recruiting, training and supervising the British secret agents who parachuted into France to sabotage the Nazis during World War II. She was widely believed to have inspired the James Bond character of Miss Moneypenny.

The film centers on Atkins as a crafty spy recruiter with a secret of her own, as she selects two of the first women of the Special Operations Executive, also known as Winston Churchill’s "secret army" a pacifist of Indian descent and a daring American who is challenged, but undaunted, by a disability. These civilian women form an unlikely sisterhood while entangled in dangerous missions to turn the tide of the war.
The SOE field agents were unquestionably brave. As for the rest of this PR copy, well, it’s PR copy: lies told in pursuit of profit.

It is especially galling to see Vera Atkins included in this roll call of heroes. She was no lion; she was one of the blundering donkeys who squandered their lives. Vera Atkins did not drop into Occupied France to fight Nazis; she was behind a desk in London.

She was also a manipulative liar who may have compromised or betrayed SOE operations as she pursued her own, still-murky agenda.

What we do know is that Atkins was not a British citizen when she went to work for SOE. She was born in Romania which made her an enemy alien when that country joined the Axis in November 1940. By law she should have been in an internment camp instead of working in a secret intelligence organization. We also know that she had contact with both Nazi and Soviet intelligence operatives during the war. Finally, we know that as she worked diligently to hide the true story of SOE’s failings she also worked to hide her own past and actions from historians and journalists.

So why present her as some sort of super spy?

Part of the reason is the shared interest of our Intellectual-Yet-Idiots and the popular press. Both groups want “news” that creates a sensation. For the MSM, Atkin’s story is irresistible. What editor can reject a story that can be headlined “The Real Life Miss Moneypenny Who Defeated Hitler” or “Meet the Women Who Helped Win D-Day”?

The press is highly-attuned to our prevailing sensibilities. We desperately want to believe that the virtuous, solely because they are virtuous, will triumph over evil. We work hard to ignore the key lesson of World War Two:

Moral righteousness alone does not win battles. Evil causes do not necessarily carry the seeds of their own destruction. Once engaged, even just wars have to be won-- or lost-- on the battlefield
Murray and Millet, A War to be Won
The male and female officers of SOE were undoubtedly patriotic and were heart-breakingly brave. Nevertheless, Sir John Keegan’s verdict still stands:

SOE was inefficient as an organization, unnecessarily dangerous to work for, ineffective in its pursuit of its aims, and counter-productive in the results achieved
For the IYI’s sensation comes from the transgressive and the critical. A good story is one that upends conventional narratives or which undermines any of the traditional centers of authority. Vera Atkins ceases to be a historical figure with a factual biography and instead becomes an improvised weapon to crush the Patriarchy and Destroy Sexists.

“Dear Bros: James Bond wasn’t real, but Miss Moneypenny was … and she was more badass than you can Imagine.”

Atkins is also IYI bait because she can be portrayed as a victim of anti-semitism, of xenophobia, of sexism, and of Cold War paranoia.

The perfect icon for the Salon crowd in the #MeToo era.

What no one inside the Bubble seems to notice is that their IYI-approved popular history ends up looking a lot like the stories of Parson Weems.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The real “Lions led by donkeys”

Historians have long since demolished the myth that the immense casualty rolls on the Western Front were due to the stupidity of the British generals. (cf. World War One: Getting past the myths).

If any organization deserves to be described as “lions led by donkeys” it is the British Special Operations Executive in World War Two. Tasked by Churchill with “setting Europe ablaze” after the British army was thrown off the Continent in 1940, SOE combined awe-inspiring bravery in the front ranks with arrogant blundering on the part of the top leadership.

Sir John Keegan:

SOE was inefficient as an organization, unnecessarily dangerous to work for, ineffective in its pursuit of its aims, and counter-productive in the results achieved.
The SOE networks in France and the Netherlands were penetrated by Nazi counterintelligence. London headquarters ignored every warning and continued to send agents into the waiting arms of the Gestapo.

Keegan argues that SOE was doomed to failure because liberal Britain led by a romantic Churchill could not comprehend the brutal efficiency of the Nazi security regime or the willingness of millions of Europeans to accommodate the occupiers. (Nora Inayat Khan, for instance, was captured because a French woman wanted revenge on a romantic rival.)

Despite the many courageous acts by SOE officers and their French allies, the actual results were at best mixed, perhaps negative. For all the daring acts of sabotage carried out, SOE and the Resistance rarely were more than an inconvenience to the Wehrmacht.

The best evidence for this is the fact that in June 1944 none of the sixty German divisions in France were assigned to internal security/anti-partisan duties. The German and French police forces handled this role and were effective in it.

MI6 -- Britain’s foreign intelligence service was a staunch opponent of SOE. They had good reasons to be. While the sabotage operations had little effect on the Wehrmacht’s effectiveness, they did draw intense police attention. This, in turn, limited the ability of MI6 agents to collect and transmit the intelligence that was needed by Allied armies after D-Day.

SOE leadership did excel in two things.

They were quite adept at public relations. The operations of the once secret organization were quickly immortalized in books and films. When necessary they were prepared to falsify the record in order to create successes where reality provided only failure and disaster. (The head of the French section, Maurice Buckmaster, worked as a PR agent for Ford Motors before and after his stint in Special Operations.)

Second, SOE did a bang up job burying the true history of their wartime activities. Records were destroyed; others were sealed for decades. The official history was careful to omit inconvenient facts. When all else failed, SOE and the political leaders of Britain simply lied and dissembled.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The problem of the press in five tweets

Item one:

A propagandist like Willi Muenzenberg could say exactly the same thing. And that’s a problem.

Item two:
Fire and Fury is a big story, guys, because me and my buddies want it to be a big story!

If the MSM wants to regain some credibility, maybe they should stop relating everything to a kid’s book.

D.C. Treats Midnight Release of Wolff’s Book on Trump Like ‘Harry Potter’ Event
Item three:
The Stephen Miller story is one of the most absurd things I’ve seen in the reporting of this tabloid-gossip-masquerading-as-Very-Important-Journalism.

Stephen Miller is many things; stupid is not one of them. This can be easily verified by checking out the columns he wrote as an undergraduate at Duke defending the lacrosse players during the rape hoax.

As K. C. Johnson noted:

Miller's commentary, along with that of Kristin Butler, has given the Chronicle the best op-ed coverage of all aspects of the case of any newspaper in the country. It is something for which a college newspaper should be extraordinarily proud.
Miller was a frequent warm-up speaker speaker at Trump rallies during the 2016 campaign. And who can forget the epic press conference when he owned CNN’s Jim Acosta and reduced that “reporter” to reading second-rate doggerel off of his smart phone.

Well, apparently, Comcast/NBC’s ace reporter Katy Tur can forget.

As old gloomy Arthur was want to say “Intellect is invisible to the man who has none.”

Remember the old days when the MSM maintained that they were trust-worthy because they had layers of editors and fact-checkers? Now we have establishment reporters endorsing palpably absurd stories from a writer with a checkered history of truthfulness.

What Caused Michael Wolff’s Strange And Provably False Attack On Stephen Miller?

Item four:
Here is our thoroughly modern journalism-- equal parts Truthiness and a fervent “I want to believe”.

This concerns CNN’s resident media critic, Trump scourge, amateur psychologist, and Jon Stewart fan boy.
Stelter’s concern is not that Wolff’s gossipy opus falls short of the journalistic standards Stelter purports to espouse. No, his concern is that the errors of Fire and Fury will undercut the anti-Trump message.

Gee, I wonder why?

CNN’s War On Trump Is Going Swimmingly
A long time ago I asked this question:

Is Brian Stelter clever and dishonest or is he stupid and completely lacking in self-awareness?
Turns out he’s just a grubby little careerist doing his best to please boss man Jeff Zucker.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Why the Pearl Harbor attack succeeded

Good discussion on the unavoidable conceptual limitations of intelligence analysis that made surprise highly likely on 7 December 1941.

Pearl Harbor's Overlooked Answer

Accurately assessing a potential enemy threat hinges on one’s appreciation of the enemy’s capabilities. If you don’t know what your adversary can do, it is nearly impossible to predict likely operational targets or ways to forestall attacks. In the case of the Pearl Harbor attack, the U.S. Navy had no real inkling of Japanese carrier warfare capabilities and therefore could not accurately assess likely operational targets. Not only that, but Japan’s carrier force—known as Kido Butai —was evolving so quickly on the eve of the Pacific war that almost no naval intelligence organ would have been able to track, internalize, and gauge those capabilities. An all-encompassing answer to the reasons for Japan’s surprise is elusive. But examining the extraordinarily rapid development of Japan’s carrier force in late 1941 reveals a stark picture of the U.S. Navy’s odds of being able to understand the type of foe it was going up against.

The most important facet of the Japanese attack—the thing that made it so stunning—was the sheer number of aircraft involved. The Japanese did not just assault Pearl Harbor; they simultaneously hit every major airfield across the breadth of Oahu—Ewa Mooring Mast Field, Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor, Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Wheeler Field, Hickam Field, and others—to remove American airpower as a threat to Kido Butai ’s carriers. Simultaneously hitting so many targets required massive numbers of planes—183 and 171 in the two attack waves. That was unprecedented.

In fact, Kido Butai was a truly revolutionary weapon system for its time because it embodied the conceptual leap from single-carrier to coordinated multicarrier operations. Kido Butai ’s ascendancy would last only about six months before it was permanently mauled at the Battle of Midway, but during that time there was nothing else like it. The U.S. Navy would not acquire a similar sophistication until roughly late 1943—more than two years later
As Hayek said: "Without a theory, the facts are silent." And the US Navy did not have the theory that could have lead analysts to "connect the dots" in such away as to predict a carrier strike on Pearl Harbor.

The author covers this ground here is a pretty good lecture for those youngins' who prefer to take three times as long to learn half as much.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Intense media scrutiny is reserved for Enemies of the Party

Hollywood royalty giggle at child rape. And the press does not care.

Enemies get deep dives and heavy-duty investigative reporting.

But only enemies.

A naif might expect that this story from 2013 would get a re-visit in the post-Weinstein era.

Sacred Scroll: Transcript of the George Lucas/Steven Spielberg Chat Where They Hashed out Raiders of the Lost Ark

George Lucas: I was thinking that this old guy could have been the mentor. He could have known this little girl when she was just a kid. Had an affair with her when she was eleven.
Lawrence Kasdan: And he was forty-two.
George Lucas: He hasn’t seen her in twelve years. Now she’s twenty-two. It’s a real strange relationship.
Steven Spielberg: She had better be older than twenty-two.
George Lucas: He’s thirty-five, and he knew her ten years ago when he was twenty-five and she was only twelve. It would be amusing to make her slightly young at the time.
Steven Spielberg: And promiscuous. She came onto him.
George Lucas: Fifteen is right on the edge. I know it’s an outrageous idea, but it is interesting. Once she’s sixteen or seventeen it’s not interesting anymore.
To George Lucas, the origins of the Indiana Jones-Marion relationship is not "interesting anymore" if she was sixteen.

And note, Spielberg was ready with the excuse of child predators every where: "she wanted it."

Sure it's an old story, but the internet is forever and everywhere. It's not as if reporters would have to trek to some remote archive to read the transcript.

And it is "newsy" given the flood of revelations out of Hollywood. Plus there's a new Star Wars movie out and Spielberg has a new movie in the theaters.

Why transformation efforts fail (redux)

From Bain and Co.:

When the Front Line Should Lead a Major Transformation

A Bain & Company survey of 250 large companies executing transformations found that only 12% actually achieved what they set out to accomplish. Some 38% failed by a wide margin, capturing less than half of the value they initially targeted. And 50% settled for a significant dilution of results. The disturbing implication: Over time, too many organizations unwittingly wind up accepting mediocre performance.
I've blogged about this before:

Why corporate change is hard and failure almost inevitable I

Why corporate change is hard and failure almost inevitable II

Why corporate change is hard and failure almost inevitable III

Waiting for our Clausewitz I

Waiting for our Clausewitz II

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Old spy cases never die

"There's no statute of limitations on counterespionage, none at all."
William Hood, Cry Spy
The British government as released a trove of files that bear on some old spy cases.

The Unbelievable Story of How the CIA Helped Foil a Russian Spy Ring in London
Newly released documents reveal a real-life plot that seems ripped from a Cold War novel.

It’s an interesting story that provides a look inside intelligence operations during the Cold War.

The Portland spy case was another black eye for the British Security services.

Embarrassingly for MI5, the agency discovered that Houghton had previously been on its radar and it had made serious errors about him. In 1956, MI5 had been asked for security concerns about Houghton working at the UDE and was even sent a report from Houghton’s wife warning that he was revealing classified information. At the time, MI5’s vetting section had erroneously concluded, without serious investigation, that Mrs. Houghton was claiming this out of spite because their marriage was breaking up a striking failure for MI5.
In truth, the Soviets displayed something resembling contempt for British counter-intelligence at this time.

After their arrest, the Krogers’ fingerprints were sent to the FBI, who established their real identity as Morris and Lona Cohen, known to be two of the Kremlin’s most important underground assets in the Cold War. The Cohens were American-born KGB illegals in the United States, who had operated with an array of key underground Soviet agents, including the celebrated illegal William Fisher, who lived under an alias, “Rudolf Abel.” They had also acted as KGB couriers, passing top-secret intelligence on U.S. atomic research from agents including Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. After the Rosenbergs’ arrest, followed by their trial and execution for espionage in the U.S. in 1952, the KGB spirited the Cohens out of the United States, slipping through the FBI’s hands. Now-available Soviet intelligence material shows the KGB gave them New Zealand passports. In 1954 the Cohens arrived in Britain to begin their new life, and espionage career, as the Krogers.
The KGB obtained the fake passports from Paddy Costelloa New Zealand diplomat who was a graduate of Cambridge University where he ran in the same communist circles as Phlby, Burgess, et. al.

FBI agent Robert Lamphere noted the Zelig-like propinquity of the Cohen/Krogers:

A Philby-network man issued passports for the Cohens, who were involved with Colonel Abel, Gordon Lonsdale, and possibly with the Rosenbergs.
Sending the Cohens to Britain seems highly risky on two counts.

1. They were directly associated with at least three* spy networks known to the US/UK security services: The Cambridge Ring, the Rosenbergs, and Rudolph Abel. If the FBI or MI5 followed the right thread from any of these cases they might track down the Cohens. That in turn, could jeopardized high-value operations currently underway in Britain.

Gordon Lonsdale/Konon Molody was a decidedly high-value asset. According to the Soviet archives, he was the first Soviet “illegal” to operate in Great Britain since the 1930s.

* Lona Cohen worked with a fourth network that stole atomic secrets in New Mexico. However, the FBI did not learn of this network for decades.

2. If captured, the Cohens had many secrets to bargain with should they put self-preservation ahead of ideological loyalty.

Yet the KGB sent them to London to work near the center of a majr, on-going, and prouctive operation. This suggests that the Soviets were confident that MI5 was too inept to be a danger to the Cohens and other traitors ( the polite Narrative) or that the KGB/GRU had sources within MI5 who could protect the spies. (The Chapman Pincher theory).

The Soviets usually took great pains to protect their agents and to ensure operational security. For instance, when Ursula Kuczynski Hamburger Beurton (SONJA) was sent to Moscow for training, she was ordered to leave her son behind. Her superiors feared that the boy would learn Russian words which might someday betray SONIA’s cover story that she was merely a Jewish refugee from Germany.

When Walter Krivitsky defected and was interrogated by MI5, the Soviets ceased all contacted with their Cambridge spies until they were sure that those agents were not compromised by the revelations. The same thing happened when Elizabeth Bentley went to the FBI in 1945.

The Soviet intelligence agencies were usually patient and careful. So it seems significant that they were willing to put the Cohens to work in London so quickly.

And they were not wrong. MI5 did not break the case (despite their subsequent claims to Parliament and the press). The Portland spies were discovered thanks to the defection of a Polish intelligence officer, Michael Goleniewski to CIA.

To add insult to injury, MI5 even accepted “Gordon Lonsdale” as a true identity until an FBI investigation revealed that the Canadian Gordon Lonsdale was actually the Russian Konon Molody.


First rule of counterintelligence: never say never

Who will watch the Watchers?

Why Comey-Mueller fan-boys are more dangerous than Trump

Debra Saunders:

Bundy Mistrial Highlights Why the Right Distrusts the Feds

As Washington conservatives question whether partisan FBI officials working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have stacked the deck against President Donald Trump, a criminal case in Las Vegas points to the sort of federal prosecutorial abuses that give the right cause for paranoia.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the infamous 2014 Bunkerville standoff case against rancher Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and co-defendant Ryan Payne, on the grounds that federal prosecutors improperly withheld evidence.
Here's a video from 2014 so this is not a recent issue:

Book TV

The author's a good follow on Twitter.

The author's book: