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    The Trump Preference Cascade is Moving Along.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th April 2016 (All posts by )

    rally

    Earlier in the year, I predicted that a preference cascade is forming around Trump.

    “This illustrates, in a mild way, the reason why totalitarian regimes collapse so suddenly. (Click here for a more complex analysis of this and related
    issues). Such regimes have little legitimacy, but they spend a lot of effort making sure that citizens don’t realize the extent to which their fellow-citizens dislike the regime. If the secret police and the censors are doing their job, 99% of the populace can hate the regime and be ready to revolt against it – but no revolt will occur because no one realizes that everyone else feels the same way.

    We are in a similar period right now. No one wants to put a Trump bumper sticker on their car because it seems an invitation to vandalism.

    Siva is accused of slashing the tires of a Ford Focus and pouring yogurt into the car’s open sunroof while it was parked at a Gig Harbor Fred Meyer.

    Police say Siva told them he attacked the vehicle because of the Trump sticker on the rear bumper. Siva allegedly told police he considered the sticker a “hate symbol” and vandalizing the car “improved the community.”

    The victim of the crime is considered to be at fault because his bumper sticker was a “hate symbol.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Immigration, Trump | 35 Comments »

    Why Importing Foreign Doctors May Not Solve the Shortage.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 17th April 2016 (All posts by )

    MoS2 Template Master

    The coming doctor shortage that I have previously written about might be dealt with as Canada did with theirs some years ago, by importing foreign medical graduates. Britain has adopted a similar plan as thousands of younger doctors plan to leave Britain.

    How is the plan to import foreign doctors working out ?

    Not very well.

    Nearly three-quarters of doctors struck off the medical register in Britain are foreign, according to shocking figures uncovered in a Mail on Sunday investigation.
    Medics who trained overseas have been banned from practising for a series of shocking blunders and misdemeanours.
    Cases include an Indian GP who ran an immigration scam from his surgery, a Ghanaian neurosurgeon who pretended he had removed a patient’s brain tumour, and a Malaysian doctor who used 007-style watches to secretly film intimate examinations with his female patients.

    First of all, foreign medical schools are often limited in real experience and students often graduate with nothing beyond classroom lectures.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Education, Health Care, Immigration, Medicine | 15 Comments »

    New Developments between Israel and the Saudis.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th April 2016 (All posts by )

    Saudi Egypt

    Obama has pretty much abandoned the Sunni Arabs in the Middle East in favor of Iran. This has been noticed, of course, and some new alliances may be forming.

    Egypt’s April 9 announcement of the transfer of two islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabian sovereignty came as a complete surprise to many in the Middle East. The only country that was not surprised was Israel. A top-level official in Jerusalem told Al-Monitor on April 12 that Israel had been privy to the secret negotiations.

    The islands have a history that is interesting.

    These islands originally belonged to Saudi Arabia, which transferred them to Egypt in 1950 as part of the effort to strangle Israel from the south, and prevent the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from taking control of them. Israel embarked on two wars (the Sinai War in 1956 and the Six Day War in 1967) for navigation rights in the Red Sea. It took over these islands twice, but then returned them to Egypt both times. Now events have come full circle, and the Egyptians are returning the islands to their original owner, Saudi Arabia.

    And Israel is privy to the negotiations and approves.

    In the past, several proposals were raised regarding regional land swaps, with the goal of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The framework is, in principle, simple: Egypt would enlarge Gaza southward and allow the Gaza Strip’s Palestinians more open space and breathing room. In exchange for this territory, Egypt would receive from Israel a narrow strip the length of the borderline between the two countries, the Israeli Negev desert region from Egyptian Sinai. The Palestinians, in contrast, would transfer the West Bank settlement blocs to Israel. Jordan could also join such an initiative; it could contribute territories of its own and receive others in exchange. To date, this approach was categorically disqualified by the Egyptians in the Hosni Mubarak era. Now that it seems that territorial transfer has become a viable possibility under the new conditions of the Middle East, the idea of Israeli-Egyptian territorial swaps are also reopened; in the past, these land swap possibilities fired the imaginations of many in the region. In his day, former head of Israel’s National Security Council Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland led a regional initiative on the subject. But he was stymied by Egypt.

    Moving Gaza away from Israel would solve the rocket problem and the terrorist problem.

    In light of America distancing itself from the region and the cold shoulder that Egypt has received from Washington in recent years, Saudi assistance and Israeli support to Egypt are viewed as critical to Sisi’s continued grip on the regime. And to complicate the situation even more, we can add the reconciliation attempts between Israel and Turkey; these have continued for many long months in marathon negotiations between the sides.

    A highly placed Israeli official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the Egyptians don’t want to see the Turks in the Gaza Strip, and are strongly opposed to a rapprochement between Jerusalem and Ankara.

    The Turks may have enough trouble with Syria and the Kurds to keep them busy. Meanwhile, a new alliance may be appearing as Obama arms Iran.

    Another factor may be the new Israeli natural gas supplies.

    There are even more interesting possibilities.

    On this background, a revolutionary concept has been floated recently regarding the establishment of artificial islands opposite Israel’s coast; these would host the state’s main infrastructure facilities. The idea was proposed by two close Netanyahu associates. One is Shaul Chorev, who until recently headed Israel’s Atomic Energy Committee and was a former brigadier general in the navy, and the other is Zvi Marom, founder and chief executive of the Israeli technology firm BATM Advanced Communications. Netanyahu worked under Marom after Netanyahu lost the 1999 elections; since then, the two are considered to be close associates.

    The artificial-island proposal contains an additional, even touchier idea: the option for civil nuclear energy in Israel.

    Interesting times in the Middle East now that Obama has abandoned the Sunnis and Israel.

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Obama | 1 Comment »

    A pretty good analysis of Trump/Cruz by Rush Limbaugh.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th April 2016 (All posts by )

    cruz-cheating

    I usually don’t listen to Limbaugh as the timing doesn’t work for me. I did come across this transcript and it seems to be pretty accurate as to what is going on.

    The party is never going to write themselves out of control of this process. So when that happens, oh, panic sets in! So reason that Trump ends up here with essentially a 22% bonus in delegates is because the Republican Party set it up so that the front-runner gets bonuses for being the front-runner, ’cause they thought they were gonna be in charge of who the front-runner ended up be.

    They wire it or try to in a lot of ways. The problem is, they’re working four years in advance and they’re always basing rules on what went wrong the last time.

    Rule 40 was directed at Ron Paul in 2012.

    The problem now is to stop Trump. How to do that ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Politics, Polls | 28 Comments »

    Feminism and Victimhood Culture.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 8th April 2016 (All posts by )

    We are living an age when any reference to women runs the risk of violating the “victimhood” rights of feminist women.

    What is “Victimhood?” It was explained by two sociologists in 2014.

    We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.

    The “Honor Culture” requires that one avenge insults to preserve honor. The law and third parties are avoided and this culture is typical of areas where law and authority is mostly absent. A classic example is the American West in the Age of the Frontier. As law and authority became available, the culture gradually changed to one of The Culture of Dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling. Lawyers have made this culture ubiquitous, even in war.

    Now, we have a new phenomenon.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Feminism, Morality and Philosphy, Personal Narrative, Philosophy, Politics | 14 Comments »

    Government, the things we do together.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 6th April 2016 (All posts by )

    cal

    Barack Obama is fond of describing government this way.

    As President Obama said the other day, those who start businesses succeed because of their individual initiative – their drive, hard work, and creativity. But there are critical actions we must take to support businesses and encourage new ones – that means we need the best infrastructure, a good education system, and affordable, domestic sources of clean energy. Those are investments we make not as individuals, but as Americans, and our nation benefits from them.

    That was a reaction to Romney’s criticism of his silly comment.

    I prefer the quote attributed to Washington.

    “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence,—it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

    Now, we see a new imposition.

    The Department of Labor says its so-called fiduciary rule will make financial advisers act in the best interests of clients. What Labor doesn’t say is that the rule carries such enormous potential legal liability and demands such a high standard of care that many advisers will shun non-affluent accounts. Middle-income investors may be forced to look elsewhere for financial advice even as Team Obama is enabling a raft of new government-run competitors for retirement savings. This is no coincidence.

    Labor’s new rule will start biting in January as the President is leaving office. Under the rule, financial firms advising workers moving money out of company 401(k) plans into Individual Retirement Accounts will have to follow the new higher standards. But Labor has already proposed waivers from the federal Erisa law so new state-run retirement plans don’t have the same regulatory burden as private employers do.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Capitalism, Economics & Finance, Public Finance | 7 Comments »

    The Doctor Shortage revisited.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st April 2016 (All posts by )

    33 - Lister

    I have previously written posts about a coming doctor shortage.

    They assume that primary care will be delivered by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. They are probably correct as we see with the new Wal Mart primary care clinics.

    The company has opened five primary care locations in South Carolina and Texas, and plans to open a sixth clinic in Palestine, Tex., on Friday and another six by the end of the year. The clinics, it says, can offer a broader range of services, like chronic disease management, than the 100 or so acute care clinics leased by hospital operators at Walmarts across the country. Unlike CVS or Walgreens, which also offer some similar services, or Costco, which offers eye care, Walmart is marketing itself as a primary medical provider.

    This is all well and good. What happens when a patient comes in with a serious condition ?

    The health policy “experts” have been concerned to train “lesser licensed practitioners” and have pretty much ignored primary care MDs except to burden them with clumsy electronic medical record systems that take up time and make life miserable.

    I repeatedly ask medical students if they would choose a career in primary care if it would completely erase their student loan debt. A few hands go up, but not many. In fact, for a while now, the federal government has dedicated millions of dollars to repaying loans for students who choose primary care. Yet residency match numbers show that the percentage of students choosing primary care is not increasing. Though loan forgiveness is a step in the right direction, medical students realize that by choosing a more lucrative specialty, they can pay off their loans just fine.

    I proposed years ago, a health reform that resembled that of France where medical school is free. It could be arranged that service in primary care, low income clinics would give credit against student loans. Nothing happened. Except physician income has declined. And tuition has increased.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Education, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, Medicine | 19 Comments »

    Unions and Robots.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th March 2016 (All posts by )

    port

    California has now decided to impose a a $15 per hour minimum wage on its remaining business economy.

    Denial of consequences is an important part of left wing philosophy.

    “California’s proposal would be the highest minimum wage we have seen in the United States, and because of California’s sheer size, it would cover the largest number of workers,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley center. “This is a very big deal for low-wage workers in California, for their families and for their children.”

    Implicit in all the assumptions is the belief that employers will not adjust by reducing the number of minimum wage employees they have.

    The UC Berkeley estimate also includes some who earn slightly more than the lowest wage and stand to benefit from a ripple effect as businesses dole out raises to try to maintain a pay scale based on experience, Jacobs said.

    If Brown’s plan passes, 5.6 million low-wage workers would earn $20 billion more in wages by 2023, according to the UC Berkeley analysis. It assumed no net jobs would be lost as businesses look to trim costs.

    The experience in other places has not been positive.

    Even a former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, has cautioned recently that “a $15-an-hour national minimum wage would put us in uncharted waters, and risk undesirable and unintended consequences.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Economics & Finance, Politics | 27 Comments »

    Another step for Craig Venter.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 24th March 2016 (All posts by )

    cell

    I have previously posted about Venter’s work with synthetic organisms.

    While I was digesting this new material, Craig Venter was making the Gene VII book obsolete. He set up a new company to compete with the Human Genome Project The result is well described in The Genome War by James Shreeve who was given access to Venter but less to the government funded project. This year, Venter’s autobiography was published and his plans for the future are described.

    The links are at the original article which is from 2007.

    Now, his group has progressed to a synthetic bacterium.

    Using the first synthetic cell, Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 (created by this same team in 2010), JCVI-syn3.0 was developed through a design, build, and test process using genes from JCVI-syn1.0. The new minimal synthetic cell contains 531,560 base pairs and just 473 genes, making it the smallest genome of any organism that can be grown in laboratory media. Of these genes 149 are of unknown biological function. By comparison the first synthetic cell, M. mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 has 1.08 million base pairs and 901 genes.

    A paper describing this research is being published in the March 25th print version of the journal Science by lead authors Clyde A. Hutchison, III, Ph.D. and Ray-Yuan Chuang, Ph.D., senior author J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., and senior team of Hamilton O. Smith, MD, Daniel G. Gibson, Ph.D., and John I. Glass, Ph.D.

    This is huge news and will take years to develop.

    The most surprising result of their work—and perhaps the most sobering one for the rest of the field: The team still doesn’t understand what 31 percent of the essential genes do in even the simplest organism, to say nothing of a human genome. It’s a development Venter called “very humbling.”

    “We are probably at the 1 percent level in understanding the human genome,” said Clyde Hutchison III, a distinguished professor at the Venter Institute.

    That lack of knowledge isn’t standing in the way of entrepreneurs. Biology has been “hot and heavy” since the development of a molecular tool that makes gene editing easy, Hutchison explained. Scientists might be able to remove disease-causing genes or even determine a baby’s eye color. This technology, known as CRISPR/Cas-9, has alarmed many inside and outside the research community, who fear it may be used on the human genome before its effects are understood, with unforeseen results.

    If he does another public seminar, I hope my friend Bradley can get me a ticket. I am now reading Lewin’s Genes XI, although he seems to be no longer the editor.

    I hope I can wade through it. Sometimes, as knowledge progresses, it becomes simpler. I hope so.

    “These cells would be a very, very useful chassis for many industrial applications, from medicine to biochemicals, biofuels, nutrition, and agriculture,” said Dan Gibson, a top scientist at both Venter’s research institute and his company, Synthetic Genomics Inc. Ultimately, the group wants to understand the tiny genetic framework well enough to use it as a biological foundation for more complex organisms that could address many of the world’s ills. Once each essential gene’s function is identified, scientists can build an effective computer model of it; from there, they can simulate how best to go about “adding pathways for the production of useful products,” they wrote.

    I will be following this story closely, if I can only understand it.

    Posted in Book Notes, Miscellaneous, Science | 5 Comments »

    What I Saw at the Revolution.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 21st March 2016 (All posts by )

    Zulu Dawn

    News from the front today. First, Glenn Reynolds explains where Trump came from.

    The thing is, we had that movement. It was the Tea Party movement. Unlike Brooks, I actually ventured out to “intermingle” with Tea Partiers at various events that I covered for PJTV.com, contributing commentary to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Examiner. As I reported from one event in Nashville, “Pundits claim the tea partiers are angry — and they are — but the most striking thing about the atmosphere in Nashville was how cheerful everyone seemed to be. I spoke with dozens of people, and the responses were surprisingly similar. Hardly any had ever been involved in politics before. Having gotten started, they were finding it to be not just worthwhile, but actually fun. Laughter rang out frequently, and when new-media mogul Andrew Breitbart held forth on a TV interview, a crowd gathered and broke into spontaneous applause. A year ago (2009), many told me, they were depressed about the future of America. Watching television pundits talk about President Obama’s transformative plans for big government, they felt alone, isolated and helpless.

    Bingo !

    Now, we have Act Two. Will Hillary’s “Thin Blue Line of rust belt states hold ?

    Lt William Vereker, on a routine patrol from the British camp at Isandlwana looked down into the Ngwebeni valley to find it boiling with the hitherto unseen main Zulu Army of 20,000 men.

    As in 1879 the political scouts are rushing back to inform the camp of the unanticipated development. Shocked but still undaunted, the pundits remain confident that the threat can be stopped by the Democrat “Blue Wall” in the industrial and upper Midwest. There, media artillery and the technologically superior liberal ground game are expected to hold the line against the angry white voter.

    Read the rest, as Glenn says.

    Now, we have the horrified GOPe. To Peter Wehner, Trump is the scary black face in the forest.

    It is stunning to contemplate, particularly for those of us who are lifelong Republicans, but we now live in a time when the organizing principle that runs through the campaign of the Republican Party’s likely nominee isn’t adherence to a political philosophy — Mr. Trump has no discernible political philosophy — but an encouragement to political violence.

    Mr. Trump’s supporters will dismiss this as hyperbole, but it is the only reasonable conclusion that his vivid, undisguised words allow for. As the examples pile up, we should not become inured to them. “I’d like to punch him in the face,” Mr. Trump said about a protester in Nevada. (“In the old days,” Mr. Trump fondly recalled, protesters would be “carried out in a stretcher.”)

    OMG! What happened to “hit back twice as hard!” or “Bring a gun to a knife fight?” Rudeness will not be tolerated in the GOPe.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Immigration, Islam, Leftism, Politics, Trump | 32 Comments »

    An update to growing up in Chicago.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th March 2016 (All posts by )

    Last summer I posted a couple of columns on growing up in Chicago in the 1940s.

    My family history is a story of Chicago as my mother was born there and her parents met in Aurora, a suburb where my grandfather’s sister ran a boarding house. My grandmother lived there while working as a supervisor in a corset factory after she had moved to Chicago from Canada. My grandfather, Joseph Mileham, was a railroad engineer, the equivalent at the time of an airline pilot. My father’s family were farmers and lived 60 miles from Chicago. He and my mother met in Chicago when they were both working at a music company. They had a typical long Depression courtship which included a trip to California by my mother after she lost her mother and brother the same year, 1926.

    My growing up was an almost idyllic childhood, although of course it had its moments.

    The house I grew up in is shown here.

    paxton

    That photo was taken a few years ago. I took a more recent one a few years ago and the owner of the house, a black guy about 35, came out to see who I was. He insisted on taking me on a tour. He was quite proud of it. He asked if I could send him photos of the house when we lived there. Here are a few more of them.

    Now, that neighborhood was the subject of a feature story in the Chicago Tribune today.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Human Behavior | 8 Comments »

    A long hot summer is coming.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th March 2016 (All posts by )

    trump rally

    UPDATE:

    The Telegraph Gets it.

    Middle America is besieged by radical, anti-American voices trying to drown out alternative opinion. Shutting down a Trump rally won’t silence Trumpism. On the contrary, it affirms it. Why does the Left continue to make this mistake?
    Trump’s views are unconstitutional, illiberal and sometimes they trigger hate. But he did not take America to war in Iraq on flimsy evidence, establish Guantanamo in contravention of human rights law or licence the torture of enemy combatants.
    Trump’s political style bears comparison not with Mussolini but George C Wallace, who ran for the presidency in 1968 and 1972 on a conservative populist ticket. Protestors turned up to his rallies, too – and he loved it. Wallace perfected the anti-hippie zinger. When kids shouted “F**k Wallace!” he replied: “Why don’t you try learnin’ some other four letter words – like W.A.S.H. and W.O.R.K.?” The confrontations added to the Alabamian’s appeal, confirming him as “the only guy willing to take on the mob”.

    I worry about the comparison and hope it is not too accurate.

    Last night, the Trump rally in Chicago after rioters invaded the hall and threatened to rush the stage.

    Last night saw unprecedented scenes inside the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion between an anti-Trump mob and Chicagoans who came to hear the Republican front-runner speak.
    While outside, an impatient group of thousands more massed. Temperatures rose.
    Multiple law enforcement sources told DailyMail.com that there was a credible threat against Trump from groups of protesters who planned to storm the stage.

    I watched some of the TV coverage and the protestors seemed to be a combination of blacks and white “Bernie” sign carrying student age people. There were a few fist fights but the vast majority of the capacity crowd filed out peacefully and drove home. I was struck by the quiet cooperation of the rally goers and the taunting celebration of the rioters.

    This will be a long hot summer. Last weekend saw 22 shootings in Chicago’s black neighborhoods. St Louis saw protestors at that Trump rally and there is another big rally scheduled in Ohio tonight.

    The political world holds its breath for Saturday’s Ohio rally after Donald Trump’s Chicago event last night went into melt down after bloody brawls and loud demonstrations broke out, amid simmering racial tensions.
    As the dust settles in Chicago, hundreds gather in Wright Brothers Aero Hangar for the Republican candidate’s first official address since last night’s fracas.
    Supporters were queuing from midnight last night, according to local reports, where there is a heavy police presence and the venue is said to be ‘at capacity’.
    Today’s event is arguably the most anticipated of the entire primaries following yesterday’s unprecedented scenes.
    The Donald tweeted this much-needed message of encouragement as the crowds anticipate his arrival: ‘The rally in Cincinnati is ON. Media put out false reports that it was cancelled. Will be great – love you Ohio!’

    It will be interesting to see if the rioters can create the same disturbance. In Chicago, local politicians helped organize the riot.

    Bernie-Sanders-supporters-Chicago-pic

    Yes, it did and some of them are elected officials. Some are old experienced terrorists, like Bill Ayers who was there.

    Ted Cruz managed to look creepy.

    Ted Cruz: Ted Cruz is responding to Donald Trump’s cancellation of his Chicago rally, saying the billionaire has created ‘an environment that encourages this sort of nasty discourse.’ The Texas senator is calling it a ‘sad day.’
    He says, ‘Political discourse should occur in this country without the threat of violence, without anger and rage and hatred directed at each other.’
    Cruz says blame for the events in downtown Chicago rests with the protesters but ‘in any campaign responsibility starts at the top.’
    Cruz says, ‘When the candidate urges supporters to engage in physical violence, to punch people in the face, the predictable consequence of that is that is escalates. Today is unlikely to be the last such incidence.

    An invitation ?

    Posted in Chicagoania, Civil Society, Elections, Leftism, Trump | 49 Comments »

    More on where Trump came from.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th March 2016 (All posts by )

    There is increasing panic among the GOPe about the possibility that Trump could win the nomination. The “Anyone But Trump” fixation is obsessing the usual suspects.

    Megan McArdle: As I see it, there are basically three strategies you can follow:

    Anyone but Trump: It doesn’t matter, as long as you vote against Trump. Democrats in open primary states can play, too.
    Vote the leader: Pick the winner in your state, and force the nomination selection to the convention.
    Attempt to generate an actual alternative front-runner by voting for the national poll leader, or the most plausible candidate — probably Marco Rubio, given that he seems to have the most support from the highest number of GOP coalitions, but possibly Ted Cruz, since he appears to be the next most appealing to Trump voters.
    I’ll just start by asking: Which of these would someone follow if their main priority is to defeat Trump? Or am I thinking about it all wrong?

    Sean Trende: No, I think you have it basically right. I actually think that, for now, their best chance lies behind Door No. 2.

    Why are the elites so obsessed with keeping Trump away from the levers of power ? This is not limited to the USA. Germany is having its own voter revolt.

    The anti-immigrant AFD – Alternative for Germany – party has scored massive gains in municipal weekend elections which reflect growing public anger at the refugee policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
    The polls for councils in the state of Hesse saw the AFD make significant inroads on the two main established parties – Merkel’s conservative CDU and the centre-left SPD – to come in third with 13.2 percent of the vote, knocking the environmental Greens into fourth place.
    Frankfurt CDU politician Markus Frank said: ‘The preliminary result of the AfD is frightening. I had expected a maximum five percent.’

    Where does this voter anger come from ?

    Maybe it is one manifestation of the Principle Agent Problem.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Elections, Europe, Immigration, Trump | 70 Comments »

    The Romney Speech

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 3rd March 2016 (All posts by )

    romney

    I did not watch Romney’s speech attacking Trump but have seen short excerpts and comments about it. I think it was a catastrophic mistake by Romney and has ended any future he might have in the GOP. Had he stayed neutral, with perhaps some comments about what is important in a Republican president, his role might be intact. But nobody, especially Mitt, can out insult Trump. It was a foolish lapse of judgement.

    I read a blog every day written by a retired Foreign Service Officer, who calls it Diplomad 2.0, and it has commenters from other diplomatic services. His reaction to Romney’s speech is interesting.

    I like Romney. I think him a decent man, and one who would have been a very good president. Our country and the West would be in much better shape today if Romney had won in 2012. I had a very minor role on Romney’s foreign policy team and did my best from my lowly position to get the campaign to sharpen its message on foreign affairs, especially on Benghazi–to no avail.

    What follows is revealing in the explanation for Romney’s failure as a candidate.

    His campaign was dominated by “the oh-so-clever-ones” who think things to death, and analyze until they paralyze. The papers we sent up to Romney were wordy “on the one hand, but on the other hand” expositions of little to no use in a campaign. They read like something written for a transition team, not a campaign team. It was impossible to get Romney’s main handlers to recommend that he go after Obama and Clinton hard on Benghazi and the rest of the misadministration’s foreign policy disasters. They thought that was “too politicizing” and “unbecoming.” Well, what happened, happened.

    Romney now comes out and attacks the probably GOP nominee in terms he would never have used on Obama and probably Hillary.

    The result ?

    The punchline. I had been sitting uncomfortably on the fence re the GOP candidates. After listening to the Romney speech and the other “establishment” types, and hearing the anchor pundits, the pundit anchors, and all the other assorted wise ones, I have jumped off the fence. I have landed in Trump’s farm. He is not perfect, far from it. I might even change my mind, but for now I support Trump.

    I don’t know if Trump will be terrible; I do know that what we have right now is horrible beyond words. I can’t bear the thought of a Hillary presidency.

    I kind of feel the same way. Trump’s weakest point is foreign policy and here is a guy with years of experience all over the world, who thinks he is better than Hillary and might be OK.

    Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Elections, Trump | 47 Comments »

    The Transformation of Economics.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st March 2016 (All posts by )

    A great piece in the Wall Street Journal today about what has happened to Economics and Economics education.

    I took an Economics class in college in 1957 and it changed me to a Republican. My first vote was for Richard Nixon in 1960. My family was furious as they thought we were related to the Boston Kennedys and they had always been Democrats. I wonder if an Economics class would have that effect today?

    And that political economy and my assessment of it has changed over a career spanning more than half a century. Here are five developments I would emphasize:

    I agree with his appraisal.

    1. Diminishing returns to research. A core economic principle is the Law of Diminishing Returns. If you add more resources, such as labor, to fixed quantities of another resource, such as land, output eventually rises by smaller and smaller amounts. That applies—with a vengeance—to academic research. Teaching loads have fallen dramatically (although the Education Department, which probably can tell you how many Hispanic female anthropologists there are teaching in Arkansas, does not publish regular teaching-load statistics), ostensibly to allow more research. But the 50th paper on a topic seldom adds as much understanding as the first or second.

    This has been characteristic of Medicine, as well as other academic subjects.

    Emory University’s Mark Bauerlein once showed that scholarly papers on Shakespeare averaged about 1,000 a year—three a day. Who reads them? How much does a typical paper add at the margin to the insights that Shakespeare gave us 400 years ago?

    That isn’t all he has shown.

    The attitude touches the President’s favorite pastime. Tevi Troy reported in Commentary how much Obama enjoys television, particularly SportsCenter and the middlebrow series Homeland and Mad Men. The New York Times added Breaking Bad and The Wire in its article “Obama’s TV Picks: Anything Edgy, with Hints of Reality,” and while it warned of the foolishness of “psychoanalyzing” a president based on “the books he reads or the music he listens to or the television shows he watches,” the story mentions not a single book. One would expect Marxists, feminists, queer theorists, post-colonialists, anti-imperialists, and media theorists to chide Obama for his bourgeois, masculinist taste, but as far as I know they have remained silent.

    Obama’s taste runs more to sports and rap music.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Big Government, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Leftism, Politics | 17 Comments »

    A Preference Cascade is Forming.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 26th February 2016 (All posts by )

    trump

    Glenn Reynolds has known about this for a long time.

    “This illustrates, in a mild way, the reason why totalitarian regimes collapse so suddenly. (Click here for a more complex analysis of this and related
    issues)
    . Such regimes have little legitimacy, but they spend a lot of effort making sure that citizens don’t realize the extent to which their fellow-citizens dislike the regime. If the secret police and the censors are doing their job, 99% of the populace can hate the regime and be ready to revolt against it – but no revolt will occur because no one realizes that everyone else feels the same way.

    Peggy Noonan has written about it several times.

    But in my experience any nonpolitical person on the street, when asked who will win, not only knows but gets a look as if you’re teasing him. Trump, they say.

    I had such a conversation again Tuesday with a friend who repairs shoes in a shop on Lexington Avenue. Jimmy asked me, conversationally, what was going to happen. I deflected and asked who he thinks is going to win. “Troomp!” He’s a very nice man, an elderly, old-school Italian-American, but I saw impatience flick across his face: Aren’t you supposed to know these things?

    In America now only normal people are capable of seeing the obvious.

    This is something I have been looking at for a while.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Culture, Elections, Politics, Trump | 56 Comments »

    What should the next President be like ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 20th February 2016 (All posts by )

    trumpmugger

    This is not the same as who the President should be. Richard Fernandez has some ideas on what he (or she) should be like.

    let me suggest that only four things matter in selecting a man (or woman) to face a challenge whose present dimensions cannot be predicted. For purposes of debate, let these four qualities in descending order of importance be:

    1.An ability to face the facts, however unpleasant they may be.

    Yes, this is critical and we have had enough of liars and careerists. Is Trump a liar ? I don’t know.

    2. An unswerving patriotism. This is not the same as a sincere feeling of love or empathy for America, though that is good. In this context it means the willingness to share the fate of the principals of which he is an agent.

    Yes, we are ruled these days by elites who do not plan to share any pain. This is unrealistic but they have been raised to believe they can avoid unpleasant reality. What do we do about this ?

    3. Nerve. This is the quality of grace under pressure who no one, unless he has the misfortune to be tested, can be sure he possesses.

    Yes, the only real test is the reality and then it is too late. A few have tried to analyze this, and it is not easy.

    some individuals did not panic because their body naturally protected them.
    Unlike the majority of people who were flooded with a stress hormone, they had much lower levels and also showed signs of another hormone that actually calmed them down.

    He referred to Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of the aeroplane that was successfully landed on the Hudson River in New York last month, as an example.

    “There are some individuals who when confronted with extreme stress their hormone profile is rather unique,” he said.

    “It doesn’t reach the same peak as the rest of us. So we’re all ready to scream in our chairs, but there are certain individuals who just don’t get as stressed.

    “Their stress hormones are lower and the peptides that down-regulate that stress are higher, so you can see in action the hormonal regular system really hitting overdrive.

    “Certain people are cooler under pressure and they perform very, very well during these periods of time.”

    In his novel, Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer, the author was critical of men in combat who had no fear. They are abnormal and dangerous. Still, Hemingway defined courage as “Grace under Pressure,” and that implied that fear was still present.

    In the movie “Patton” an incident was described in which George S Patton Jr attacked three men who he believed to be kidnapping a woman.

    patton

    Does Trump look like the young Patton ? They seem to have similar expressions.

    My own life has been lived as a surgeon and there are surgeons who take beta blockers to deal with tremors caused by high levels of stress hormones. I have never had a problem with anxiety during surgery but, of course, I am not the one under the knife.

    4. Intelligence. This is important, because it determines basic competence. But it surprisingly the least important attribute in this list. Intelligence, though rare, is not nearly as hard to find as the 3 characteristics above. You can find staffers who can give you intelligent advice. You cannot find staff to give you a character that you do not possess.

    This is so obvious that it should not need to be said but we are ruled by staffers.

    What do we make of all this ? I don’t know. Trump is an interesting character and I have no idea how he would function as president. I do think we might get a chance to find out. We should know more in a few weeks.

    Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Trump | 67 Comments »

    Trump and China

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 15th February 2016 (All posts by )

    sse-stock

    Trump has, famously, gone after China on its trade policy.

    In January 2000, President Bill Clinton boldly promised China’s inclusion in the World Trade Organization (WTO) “is a good deal for America. Our products will gain better access to China’s market, and every sector from agriculture, to telecommunications, to automobiles. But China gains no new market access to the United States.” None of what President Clinton promised came true. Since China joined the WTO, Americans have witnessed the closure of more than 50,000 factories and the loss of tens of millions of jobs. It was not a good deal for America then and it’s a bad deal now. It is a typical example of how politicians in Washington have failed our country.

    There is an interesting analysis of China’s stumbling economy in the Observer today.

    Here is a top ten guide for the perplexed.

    Central Planning: Central planning, central planning. The history of the abject failure the Soviet Union’s five-year plans should tell you everything. Command and control economies that report to one man (in a nation of 1.3 billion people) are doomed from the start. Top down economic decisions often look bold and start out highly stimulative, but then degenerate into inefficiency, waste, politics and fraud.

    Political Corruption: As the command and control economy generates liquidity, the demand and direction of the distributed capital becomes a political tussle. Decisions on how much steel, cement, coal, glass solar panels, high speed trains and shopping malls—in short everything—are not done in China as a cost benefit analysis by risk capital, a job difficult enough in itself. (Witness the capitalist economies’ booms and busts.) In China, this liquidity was allocated by political muscle, massive bribery and kickbacks, rather than economic justifications.

    Basic Gangsterism: Counterfeiting, knockoffs, copyright infringement, theft of intellectual property – these were a part of the booster rockets of China’s economic rise. It was all supposed to go away after China joined the WTO in 2001. It didn’t. It just became more institutionalized. Foreign companies needed Chinese “partners” in auto production, healthcare and technology. These “partners” crippled the potential productivity of the investments and led to frequent disputes and even more corruption… as in the GlaxoSmithKline scandals.

    There are a total of nine reasons, many addressed in Trump’s piece above.

    Now, the economy of China may be in free fall.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in China, Crony Capitalism, Politics, Trump | 5 Comments »

    Trump Rampant.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 10th February 2016 (All posts by )

    I have been thinking about the Donald Trump Phenomenon for a while.

    I have been mulling Revolution since last summer.

    UPDATE: I am amazed but Peggy Noonan gets it !

    I have thought for some time that there’s a kind of soft French Revolution going on in America, with the angry and blocked beginning to push hard against an oblivious elite. It is not only political. Yes, it is about the Democratic National Committee, that house of hacks, and about a Republican establishment owned by the donor class. But establishment journalism, which for eight months has been simultaneously at Donald Trump’s feet (“Of course you can call us on your cell from the bathtub for your Sunday show interview!”) and at his throat (“Trump supporters, many of whom are nativists and nationalists . . .”) is being rebelled against too. Their old standing as guides and gatekeepers? Gone, and not only because of multiplying platforms. Gloria Steinem thought she owned feminism, thought she was feminism. She doesn’t and isn’t. The Clintons thought they owned the party—they don’t. Hedge-funders thought they owned the GOP. Too bad they forgot to buy the base!

    Read the whole column if you have access.

    The GOP Congress has been a huge disappointment.

    At this this time in history the Left may be correct about what truly matters. The institutional Republicans are still playing the game of administration. By contrast Obama is playing the game of revolution. By slow degrees the entire political system is coming around to Obama’s point of view. Perhaps this is no ordinary time. When Hillary calls Republicans “terrorists” and Obama calls them “crazies”; when Sanders and Trump are outflanking the established wings of their respective parties, each of these in its own way suggests the emphasis of the next ten years will not be on public administration but on determining the power relationships within America and among the countries of the world.

    The Constitution says that Spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and the Ways and Means Committee is supposed to write those bills. It has not been happening even as the GOP has taken Congress.

    To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

    So, we now have Donald Trump, who has almost no supporters known to GOP officials in New Hampshire where he just won the primary with 35% of the vote in a large field.

    During that state GOP meeting a couple of weeks ago, I asked former Gov. John Sununu, a man with a lifetime of knowledge about New Hampshire politics, if he knew any Trump supporters. Sununu pondered the question for a minute and said he thought a man who lived down the street from him might be for Trump.

    Immediately after the story was published, I got an email from a real estate executive and former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives named Lou Gargiulo, who happens to live down the street from Sununu. “I’m the guy!” Gargiulo told me. “Not only do I support Mr. Trump, I am the Rockingham County chairman of his campaign. The governor would be shocked to know that many of his other neighbors are Trump supporters as well.”

    What a surprise ! Pauline Kael would be shocked.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Christianity, Elections, Immigration, Politics, Religion, Trump | 33 Comments »

    The Collapse of Obama’s Syria Policy

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th February 2016 (All posts by )

    aleppo.sized-770x415xc

    The US foreign policy conducted by the Obama administration has been a disaster all along. He abandoned Iraq and the rise of ISIS has followed. I have read “Black Flags“, which describes how the al Qeada organization of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has morphed into ISIS after Obama pulled US forces out of Iraq. Now, as Richard Fernandez explains in another masterful analysis, Assad is about to rout the last of the non-ISIS opposition.

    Reuters reports that Bashal al-Assad’s forces have made major advances behind a major Russian air offensive and are now poised to destroy the non-ISIS rebels opposing the Syrian government is rocking the foreign policy establishment. “After three days of intense fighting and aerial bombardment, regime forces, believed to include Iran-backed Shia militias, broke through to the formerly besieged regime enclaves of Nobul and Zahra.”

    The Russians have been surprising US military leaders in ways that are very unpleasant.

    The performance of the miniature, “rust bucket” Russian air force has formed an invidious baseline to what the USAF has achieved. The Independent reported:

    Their army’s equipment and strategy was “outmoded”; their air force’s bombs and missiles were “more dumb than smart”; their navy was “more rust than ready”. For decades, this was Western military leaders’ view, steeped in condescension, of their Russian counterparts. What they have seen in Syria and Ukraine has come as a shock.

    Russian military jets have, at times, been carrying out more sorties in a day in Syria than the US-led coalition has done in a month.

    We are not serious and the US military has to wonder what will happen if Putin decides to take the Baltic republics.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Military Affairs, Obama | 40 Comments »

    Trump’s sense of humor.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 26th January 2016 (All posts by )

    I am not a Trump supporter but I enjoy the outrage in which the corrupt GOP establishment views him.

    Now he has done it ! He won’t be in the Thursday debate. I agree that Megyn Kelly acted like a school girl in the first debate. I don’t blame him for resenting the way she acted. The establishment GOP are criticizing Trump for dropping out. Personally, I think a Trump-Sanders debate would be entertaining. The Weekly Standard is as looney as The National Review.

    Then, he dropped a bombshell !

    1barry

    Personally, I think this is hilarious. Hillary was the source of the original questions about Obama’s birth. I think he was born in Hawaii but I also think he used his alleged foreign birth as a way to get favors at east coast colleges, like Columbia and Harvard. Nobody seems to remember him at Columbia.

    I, for one, am enjoying the show.

    Posted in Elections, Trump | 50 Comments »

    National Review goes Bananas

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd January 2016 (All posts by )

    National Review has now gone off the deep end on Donald Trump.

    This strikes me as fear and panic but about what ?

    But he is not deserving of conservative support in the caucuses and primaries. Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.

    Cue pearl clutching. What exactly has “the broad conservative ideological consensus” achieved the past 20 years ? Personally, I think Reagan began the problem by choosing Bush for his VP. Bush was antithesis to Reagan’s message and had ridiculed his economic plans.

    Sam Houston State University historian, writing on the Forbes web site, has a very odd blog post this morning. He criticizes MIT economist Simon Johnson for attributing the term “voodoo economics” to George H.W. Bush. Domitrovic calls it a “myth” that the elder Bush ever uttered those words. “You’d think there’d be a scrap of evidence dating from 1980 in support of this claim. In fact there is none,” he says.

    Perhaps down in Texas they don’t have access to the Los Angeles Times. If one goes to the April 14, 1980 issue and turns to page 20, one will find an articled by Times staff reporter Robert Shogan, entitled, “Bush Ends His Waiting Game, Attacks Reagan.” Following is the 4th paragraph from that news report:

    “He [Bush] signaled the shift [in strategy] in a speech here [in Pittsburgh] last week when he charged that Reagan had made ‘a list of phony promises’ on defense, energy and economic policy. And he labeled Reagan’s tax cut proposal ‘voodoo economic policy’ and ‘economic madness.'”

    It’s amusing to see people try to deny facts. Some argue that Bush did not oppose “Supply side” theory. Still, that is what “Voodoo Economic Policy” referred to. What else ?

    Bush promised “no new taxes” in 1988 but then raised taxes in 1990 creating or deepening a recession that cost him re-electiion and gave us Bill Clinton.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Elections, History, Politics, Trump | 36 Comments »

    Greg Abbot’s Constitutional Convention

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th January 2016 (All posts by )

    Texas Governor Greg Abbot has called for a Constitutional convention of states.

    UPDATE: Conservative Wahoo is in favor.

    Why do I support it? A few reasons:
    1) I am a political junkie. I’ve seen two impeachments proceedings in the House and one Trial in the Senate. I’ve never seen a convention of the states.
    2) I think there are some places where the Constitution could be improved (see below), but I prefer that those improvements be WITHIN the Constitutional process rather than by Executive fiat (see, Obama, B.)
    3) I believe it would energize people in this country to a great degree–equaled only maybe by war–to really think hard about what this country means to them.

    He has a summary of the Mark Levin proposed amendments from his book.

    A convention is one of two ways that the U.S. Constitution can be amended, and it’s described in Article V. One way is that Congress can propose amendments approved by two-thirds of the members of both chambers. The other method allows two-thirds of the state legislatures to call for a convention to propose amendments. Republicans backing the idea are confident that because they control state government in a majority of states, their ideas would prevail.

    Democrats are horrified. The Huffington Post first ran this post with a headline that he wanted Texas to secede! I guess they thought better of the scare tactic.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday proposed a series of amendments to the U.S. constitution that would permit states to override the Supreme Court and ignore federal laws.

    One of the proposed measures would allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override federal regulations, while another sets the same threshold for overturning decisions by the Supreme Court. The governor also wants to change the Constitution to block Congress from “regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state,” and to require a supermajority of seven Supreme Court votes before a “democratically enacted law” can be overturned.

    OK. That’s fair enough.

    The plan lays out nine specific proposed amendments that would:

    Prohibit congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
    Require Congress to balance its budget.
    Prohibit administrative agencies from creating federal law.
    Prohibit administrative agencies from pre-empting state law.
    Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
    Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law
    Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
    Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
    Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a federal law or regulation.

    Balancing the budget is probably pie-in-the-sky but the others sound reasonable to me.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Elections, History, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 22 Comments »

    The Western Spring

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 10th January 2016 (All posts by )

    migrants

    Belmont Club and Richard Fernandez have come up with a good term to describe what is happening now.

    It’s on, the long awaited fight against PC orthodoxy is finally on. Trump is unlikely to apologize, CAIR even more unlikely to back down. With 3 million Middle Eastern and African refugees due to arrive in Europe this year the clashes between German protesters are only likely to intensify.

    The commotion you hear is not going to stop, it will only get worse. The Western Spring is finally here, and before it’s done it threatens to change everything.

    The “Arab Spring” has proved a disaster for the Middle East. Much of that disaster was midwifed by Obama and Hillary. Obama helped The Muslim Brotherhood overthrow our ally, Mubarak. The Washington Post was very optimistic.

    CAIRO – It was sparked on social-networking sites, and inspired by a revolution in Tunisia. In 18 days, it grew into something astounding – a leaderless people’s movement that at every turn outsmarted a government with an almost unblemished 30-year record of suppressing dissent.

    Of course, it didn’t turn out the way they expected.

    Despite the government’s efforts to sow violence that could be pinned on the demonstrators, the vast majority did not take the bait.

    In the first days of the protests, they were attacked with high-pressure water hoses, tear gas, birdshot, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Protesters responded with rocks, but also with pamphlets instructing demonstrators to appeal to the police as fellow Egyptians.

    When police withdrew from the streets and prisoners were released from their cells, Egyptians formed security committees to protect their neighborhoods. And when pro-Mubarak forces – many of them thought to be paid thugs and undercover police – attacked anti-government demonstrators, the protesters fought back but did not escalate the violence.

    More than 300 people were killed over the past 18 days, with each death giving the movement more momentum. In Tahrir Square, posters of the dead grace every corner. A curly haired girl named Sally, a man named Hassan, a boy named Mohammed.

    There is no mention of what happened to Lara Logan in Tahrir Square during the “innocent demonstrations.”

    Lara Logan thought she was going to die in Tahrir Square when she was sexually assaulted by a mob on the night that Hosni Mubarak’s government fell in Cairo.

    Ms. Logan, a CBS News correspondent, was in the square preparing a report for “60 Minutes” on Feb. 11 when the celebratory mood suddenly turned threatening. She was ripped away from her producer and bodyguard by a group of men who tore at her clothes and groped and beat her body. “For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands,” Ms. Logan said in an interview with The New York Times. She estimated that the attack involved 200 to 300 men. Sounds like a preview, doesn’t it ?

    The leftist innocence drips from the WaPo article.

    Mubarak believed that the US conspired to bring him down. Knowing Obama, he was probably correct. Of course, we should follow Napoleon’s rule, “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Culture, Current Events, Europe, Germany, Immigration, Leftism, Middle East, Terrorism | 8 Comments »

    The crash of the XB 70 in 1966.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th December 2015 (All posts by )

    North American XB-70A Valkyrie just after collision. Note the F-104 is at the forward edge of the fireball and most of both XB-70A vertical stabilizers are gone. (U.S. Air Force photo)

    North American XB-70A Valkyrie just after collision. Note the F-104 is at the forward edge of the fireball and most of both XB-70A vertical stabilizers are gone. (U.S. Air Force photo)

    I’m getting a bit tired of politics and corruption right now. How about some aviation history? This is an interesting article on the crash of the supersonic bomber prototype.

    The two test pilots were in the cockpit of a T-38 trainer flying off the left wing of the new XB-70 Valkyrie bomber, aircraft number 62-0207. They just saw the civilian registered NASA F-104N Starfighter of pilot Joe Walker slide upside down across the top of the huge white bomber, shear off both it’s twin tails and skid sideways, then break in two, killing Walker instantly. Behind the XB-70 Walker’s F-104N tumbled end over end, a pinwheel of bright orange flame nearly six hundred feet long tracing its convulsive death spiral.

    The flight was a photo shoot for GE which made the jet engines of all the aircraft being photographed.

    The fatal error was including an F 104 star fighter which had unreliable handling characteristics in low speed flight.

    The poor safety record of the Starfighter brought the aircraft into the public eye, especially in German Air Force service. Fighter ace Erich Hartmann famously was retired from the Luftwaffe because of his protests against having to deploy the unsafe F-104s. The F-104 was also at the center of the Lockheed bribery scandals, in which Lockheed had given bribes to a considerable number of political and military figures in various nations in order to influence their judgment and secure several purchase contracts; this caused considerable political controversy in Europe and Japan.

    It was considered a “widowmaker” at low speed especially takeoff and landing.

    The F-104 series all had a very high wing loading (made even higher when carrying external stores). The high angle of attack area of flight was protected by a stick shaker system to warn the pilot of an approaching stall, and if this was ignored, a stick pusher system would pitch the aircraft’s nose down to a safer angle of attack; this was often overridden by the pilot despite flight manual warnings against this practice. At extremely high angles of attack the F-104 was known to “pitch-up” and enter a spin, which in most cases was impossible to recover from. Unlike the twin-engined McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II for example, the F-104 with its single engine lacked the safety margin in the case of an engine failure, and had a poor glide ratio without thrust.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, History, Military Affairs, Science, Tech | 21 Comments »