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 Some have withdrawn support from newspapers and opinion magazines when they disagreed with their editorial positions or did not think they could sustain themselves.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!

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.


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.

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


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.”

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.


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.

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.


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.

Thinking about thinking, creativity and, innovation

#ad #ad

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?