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  • Quote of the Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on August 3rd, 2016 (All posts by )

    Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 5.12.35 PM

    In a real revolution, the best characters do not come to the front. A violent revolution falls into the hands of narrow-minded fanatics and of tyrannical hypocrites at first. Afterwards come the turn of all the pretentious intellectual failures of the time. Such are the chiefs and the leaders. You will notice that I have left out the mere rogues. The scrupulous and the just, the noble, humane and devoted natures, the unselfish and the intelligent may begin a movement, but it passes away from them. They are not the leaders of a revolution. They are its victims: the victims of disgust, disenchantment–often of remorse. Hopes grotesquely betrayed, ideals caricatured–that is the definition of revolutionary success. There have been in every revolution hearts broken by such successes.

    Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes (1911)

     

    Posted in Quotations | 17 Comments »

    Under Siege

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on August 1st, 2016 (All posts by )

    The base at Hellenikon was often under siege and sometimes physically so; before, during and after I was stationed there in the early 1980s; regularly once a year when the local national employees went on strike, and blockaded the front gate, and now and again by anti-US and anti-NATO protesters. Although there was a Greek Air Force installation right next to the American base, there was no passage between the two, unlike the base at Zaragoza, where Spanish and American personnel had pretty much free passage between their respective halves of the facility. In the case of striking workers, or hostile protestors at the main – and only entrance – those of us inside the base were stuck there, while those outside were also cut off. Only one year did it become a problem lasting more than a single day – but it was an inconvenience for us all, and particularly frightening for family members.

    And I was remembering all of that, this weekend, reading about how Incirlik Air Base – which also used to be called Adana Air Base – was cut off for about a day this weekend, after having commercial power cut off for nearly a week by Turkish civil authorities, in the wake of an attempted coup against a president who strong-armed himself into office by side-stepping the established rules. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Current Events, International Affairs, Islam, Middle East, Military Affairs | 43 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Letter to the Editor: Responding to Robert Fisk’s “To understand the Islamist beheading of a French priest ….”

    Posted by Jonathan on August 1st, 2016 (All posts by )

    It is not “inevitable” in any civil war—no matter how brutal—that one side murder foreigners. Certainly, the GIA’s murdering foreigners—even during the brutal Algerian civil war—was not “inevitable”. It was a choice; it was the wrong choice…

    Read the whole thing.

     

    Posted in Europe, France, History, Islam, Media, Middle East, Morality and Philosphy, Terrorism, War and Peace | 1 Comment »

    Hillary & FBI Director Comey’s Cyber-Security “Broken Window”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on August 1st, 2016 (All posts by )

    When FBI Director Comey publicly took a dive and sold out the rule of law in refusing to prosecute Hillary Clinton’s Cyber-security crimes.  He began a new chapter in providing evidence of the validity of “Broken Window Policing”  in the field of cyber-security. For which, see the following definition:

    The broken windows model of policing…focuses on the importance of disorder (e.g., broken windows) in generating and sustaining more serious crime. Disorder is not directly linked to serious crime; instead, disorder leads to increased fear and withdrawal from residents, which then allows more serious crime to move in because of decreased levels of informal social control.

    Hillary and the FBI Director Comey have advertised both outrageous cyber-security weakness and more importantly the breakdown of social mores of “the rule of law” in Federal Government cyber-security.  If you advertise you are weak, stupid and capricious in enforcing cyber-security, it is blood in the water for cyber-criminals of all sorts.

    Consider this not exhaustive list busted e-mail security associated with Hillary Clinton and her Democratic Party surrogates.

    1) Hillary’s email system on Bill Clinton’s server.
    .
    2) The Hillary Controlled Democrat National Committee email server.
    .
    3) The Democrat Congressional Candidates Committee server.
    .
    4) Hillary’s election campaign server.
    .
    5) Hillary’s several different illicit off-site email servers when she was Secretary of State.

    This is a very small fraction of the “Broken Window theory” as applied to cyber-crime.  What we see related to Hillary.  The problem here is that this sort of political corruption cannot be centralized.  If Hillary can do it and get away with it.  Exactly how many other illicit off-site e-mail accounts filled with Federal secrets are there now?  And how many more will there be between now and Jan 2017?

    Lois Lerner at IRS and the EPA director are both known to be using non-Federal government secured public e-mail systems as early as 2010.

    Exactly how many other officials at the State Department, Defense Department, Interior Department (Can you say Secret Service?), other non-departmental American intelligence bureaucracies, and the Federal Reserves are there?

    That is the real cyber-security “broken window” Hillary and FBI Director Comey have opened. And this is the cyber-security nightmare that will be with America for decades, barring a massive and systematic purge of everyone high and low associated with such behavior by a new President or after another — likely nuclear — Pearl Harbor.

    I’ll close with the following Sept 12, 2008 Obama campaign statement that applies in 2016:

    “Our economy wouldn’t survive without the Internet, and cyber-security continues to represent one our most serious national security threats,”  “It’s extraordinary that someone who wants to be our president and our commander in chief doesn’t know how to send an e-mail.”

    — Obama for President 2008 campaign spokesman Dan Pfeiffer.

     

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Elections, Human Behavior, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    New Jobs Contest! You Could Be a Winner!

    Posted by David Foster on August 1st, 2016 (All posts by )

    In a comment to my post About Those Job-Killing Robots, TM Lutas said:

    If you want to slay the mistaken talk about the end of human employment, hold a contest. Come up with labor demand boosting ideas that we do not engage in today because we either don’t have enough people or don’t have enough money to do it. Weigh jobs that don’t require much intelligence or education as more valuable than those requiring high education/intelligence. Within a year I predict enough entries to be submitted to put the entire world to work multiple times over.

    It is a bit embarrassing to think about things we are too poor to do. This makes these jobs invisible to us today. By creating a contest and an artificial market for these ideas, they become visible and we turn from despair at the jobless future to wondering how we can become efficient enough to afford to do all these wonderful things.

    Let’s prototype the contest here, among friends (and a few special adversaries and maybe even some enemies), and maybe we can roll it out later on a larger scale. The winner will receive a microscopic amount of fame, and also a virtual certificate, not suitable for framing.

    What are the things that we collectively and individually can’t afford–but might be able to afford given higher levels of productivity and national income–that would meaningfully affect well-being and human satisfaction?  Define “things” as broadly as you like.  Consider both things that could become more affordable due to productivity improvements in a specific industry, and things whose creation might not by itself be meaningfully improvable from a productivity standpoint but which people could better afford given an upward trend in overall productivity and income.

    Thoughts?

     

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Economics & Finance, Tech | 34 Comments »

    About Those Job-Killing Robots

    Posted by David Foster on July 30th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Every day, there are articles and blog posts about how quickly robots are replacing jobs, particularly in manufacturing.  These often include assertions along the lines of “robots are replacing human labor so rapidly and so completely that it doesn’t really matter whether the factories are in the US or somewhere else.” There are also many assertions that robotics and artificial intelligence will triumph so completely that we must accept that we will permanently have a huge unemployed population who will need to be paid a “basic income” of some sort from the government.

    This May, there were breathless headlines about how Foxconn, which is Apple’s primary contract manufacturer, was replacing 60,000 workers with robots–indeed, in some tellings, had already replaced them.  If you google “foxconn 60000 workers”, you will get about 130,000 hits.

    But the story, however, is false; indeed, it did not even originate with Foxconn but rather with some local Chinese government officials who wanted to promote their area as “innovative.”

    There has also been a lot of coverage of robotics at Adidas, which is trying to use automation to improve the labor productivity of shoe-making to the point that it can be done economically in high-wage countries such as Germany.  This article on Adidas also cites the Foxconn “60,000 jobs” assertion.

    One key pair of numbers is missing from the stories I’ve seen on the Adidas project:  the ratio of human workers to shoes produced, with and without the addition of the robotics. You can’t really judge the labor-reducing impact of the project without these numbers.  In this Financial Times article, Adidas is quoted as saying, entirely reasonably, that they will need to get further into production with their new factory before developing meaningful productivity numbers.  The article also cites Boston Consulting Group as estimating that by “2025 advanced robots will boost productivity by as much as 30 per cent in many industries.”  Thirty percent is a very significant number, but it’s a long, long way from a productivity increase that would imply that factory jobs don’t matter, or that we’re going to inevitably have a very large permanently-unemployed population.

    There are a lot of very significant innovations taking place in robotics and AI, but the hype level is getting a little out of hand.  And it’s important to remember that automation is not a new phenomenon.  For example, a CNC (computer numerically  controlled) machine tool is a robot, albeit it might not look like the popular conception of one, and these machines, together with their predecessor NC (numerically controlled) machines, have been common in industry since the 1970s. One thing that articles and blog posts on the topic of robotics/AI/jobs could benefit from is a little historical perspective: do today’s innovations really represent a sharp break upwards in labor productivity, or are they more of a continuation of a long-term trend?  And how, if it all,  is the effect of these technologies appearing in the productivity statistics?

     

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Economics & Finance, Tech, USA | 28 Comments »

    The forgotten history of Hillary Clinton

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on July 29th, 2016 (All posts by )

    This was posted on facebook as a comment to a WSJ piece on her campaign strategy.

    Dick Morris, former political adviser to President Bill Clinton: If you happen to see the Bill Clinton five-minute TV ad for Hillary in which he introduces the commercial by saying he wants to share some things we may not know about Hillary’s background, beware as I was there for most of their presidency and know them better than just about anyone. I offer a few corrections:
    Bill says: “In law school Hillary worked on legal services for the poor.”
    Facts are: Hillary’s main extra-curricular activity in ‘Law School’ was helping the Black Panthers, on trial in Connecticut for torturing and killing a ‘Federal Agent.’ She went to Court every day as part of a Law student monitoring committee trying to spot civil rights violations and develop grounds for appeal.

    Was this true ? Snopes has a sort of rebuttal.

    Hillary Rodham (as she was known then) wasn’t a lawyer then, either: She was a Yale law student, and like many of her politically-minded fellow law students who saw the latest “trial of the century” taking place just outside the main gate of their school, she took advantage of an opportunity to be involved in the case in a minor, peripheral way by organizing other students to help the American Civil Liberties Union monitor the trials for civil rights violations. Her tangential participation in the trial in no way helped “free” Black Panthers tried for the murder of Alex Rackley

    So the description credited to Morris is correct.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Biography, Current Events, Politics | 6 Comments »

    Statistical Malpractice, Cluelessness About Humans

    Posted by David Foster on July 28th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Almost every day, I see someone arguing that we shouldn’t worry about terrorism so much because your chances of being killed by a terrorist are less than your chances of being killed in an auto accident, or by slipping in the bathtub, or some such comparison.  Barack Obama, according to The Atlantic, “frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents, and falls in bathtubs do.”

    Indeed, this argument was even being made shortly after 9/11, even being made by people with obviously high intelligence and mathematical knowledge.  Marvin Minsky, MIT professor and pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, recommended scrapping “the whole ‘homeland defense’ thing” as “cost-ineffective.” According to the WSJ, Minsky calculates that the cost of preventing each terrorist-caused airplane fatality would be around $100MM, and that “we could save a thousand times as many lives at the same cost by various simple public-health measures.”  Whatever one thinks about the performance of Homeland Security as an organization, as a matter of logic Minsky’s argument was just plain wrong, as are its present-day equivalents.

    Calculations of probability must be based on assumptions about whether the rate at which some phenomenon is occurring is static or is subject to change.  Based on the numbers of influenza in 1914, you might have concluded that you were not at material risk of dying from this disease. In 1918, things looked very different. The dynamics of the disease led to a very rapid increase in the probability of infection.

    If the FAA receives some service difficulty reports indicating that cracks have appeared in the wing spars of a few aircraft that have reached about 10,000 hours in service…aircraft of this service level representing a small portion of the total production for this model…they’re not going to dismiss it with ‘well, no biggie’ and wait until substantial numbers of planes reach 15,000 hours or so and have the wing spars actually break in flight.  They’re going to analyze the situation and quite likely issue an Airworthiness Directive against the aircraft, requiring inspections and remedial action.

    The wing spar case is an example of a process in which the mere passage of time can change the probabilities of the adverse event occurring.  The influenza case is an example of a malign positive feedback loop, i.e., a vicious circle–the more people become infected, the more other people they infect.  Positive feedback loops tend to have exponential growth patterns until something stops them.

    In the case of terrorism, it should be obvious that successful terror attacks act as encouragement for future acts of terror–definitely a positive feedback loop. Remember what Osama bin Laden said about people wanting to side with the ‘strong horse’?  Moreover, terror attacks are demoralizing to the target country in a way in which random accidents are not.  There has already been a chilling effect on free speech driven by the desire to avoid angering the Islamists.

    Bookworm offered an interesting take on this topic:

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, Islam, Terrorism | 27 Comments »

    Despite Drop in Home Ownership, an Increase in Renters*

    Posted by Jonathan on July 28th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Millennials cause homeownership rate to drop to lowest level since 1965:

    The drop in homeownership is largely due to a delay in homebuying by the millennials, who have the lowest ownership rate of their age group in history. Millennials are not only burdened by student loan debt, but they have also delayed life choices like marriage and parenthood, which are the primary drivers of homeownership.

    Why have today’s young people, as compared to young people in the recent past, delayed buying property, marrying and having children?

    “While the millennial homeownership rate continues to decline, it’s important to note that the decrease could be just as likely due to new renter household formation as it is their ability to buy homes,” wrote Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia. “Certainly low inventory and affordability isn’t helping their efforts to own, but moving out of their parents’ basement and into a rental unit is also a good sign for the housing market.”

    Why are many of today’s young families choosing to rent rather than buy their homes?

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Real Estate, Society, Systems Analysis, Urban Issues | 8 Comments »

    Gaslighting

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on July 26th, 2016 (All posts by )

    There was a brief hiccup of indignation last week regarding the French police choosing to downplay the fact that the dead hostages taken by Islamist terrorists at the Bataclan music hall had been viciously tortured and their bodies mutilated. There was the same brief hiccup of indignation when it appeared that the German police likewise chose to downplay those instances of sexual abuse perpetrated on local women by so-called Syrian “refugees.” A commenter on one particular thread discussing this observed, acidly, that we were now well into Pravda and Izvestia country, where the published news stories must be carefully scrutinized and parsed to tease out the actual facts; what is released regarding certain occurrences is not meant to inform us. Instead, such reports are meant to appear as if we are being informed, but the actual intent is to conceal and not to offend those in political power.

    I’ve begun to believe, though, that our establishment media and those elements of the Ruling Class (in the Anthony Codevilla sense) who control or collude with them are going well beyond simply obscuring current events – but are deliberately practicing a kind of mass-gaslighting on us all. Gas-lighting? Oh, yes; this is a definition, courtesy of the Urban Dictionary:
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Media, Politics, Society | 40 Comments »

    Happy thought

    Posted by TM Lutas on July 25th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Once in awhile, you see a gem of an internet comment that justifies taking the time to dive in. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the hope and prayer of us all. Buddygonzo wishes that going forward we will all have “common sense email control”.

    Buddygonzo just won the Internet for today

     

    Posted in Humor, Miscellaneous, National Security, Politics | 13 Comments »

    Loyalty and Risk-Taking

    Posted by David Foster on July 22nd, 2016 (All posts by )

    In one of the old Neptunus Lex posts that Bill Brandt has been rerunning at The Lexicans, Lex wrote about the man who was CO of his FA-18 training squadron:

    My student cohort held him in awe: We’d been told that he had received an Air Medal during the war for saving a squadron mate’s life, or his liberty anyway. The latter had come off target badly hit and managed to limp only as far as the harbor at Hai Phong before his machine came apart. The pilot had been forced to eject and was floating in his raft a mile or so off shore, when he saw an NVA patrol craft bounding out to seize him. The unlucky aviator was contemplating the austere amenities of the Hanoi Hilton when our CO roared overhead at 500 feet, firing a Shrike missile in boresight mode.

    The Shrike is an anti-radiation missile, designed to home on enemy radar and destroy it.  The radar-following mechanism is its only guidance system; the only way to hit a target that is not emitting radar is to get very close to it before you fire the missile–thereby placing yourself at considerable additional risk  Lex’s CO had taken that risk, destroying the North Vietnamese patrol craft, and making it possible for the shot-down pilot to be rescued by helicopter..

    Reading the story, I couldn’t help wondering:  which if any of our current crop of political candidates and leaders would–in the extremely unlikely event that they ever found themselves flying combat aircraft–have made the same decision?

     

    Posted in Human Behavior, Politics, USA, Vietnam, War and Peace | 25 Comments »

    A Diversion on a Friday

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on July 22nd, 2016 (All posts by )

    (In the light of the mostly depressing news this week and today – I present a short chapter from the next Luna City Chronicle – which we aim to have completed for release in November, 2016)

    Dance with the Bunny Boiler in the Pale Moonlight

    Some weeks after Romeo Gonzales arrived and set up his own campsite in the near-deserted Age of Aquarius, Richard pedaled up the road – deftly avoiding the ruts, bumps and puddles that nature and the passage of the occasional heavy vehicle had scoured into the clay-like soil with the skill of experience. It had rained lightly the night before, so puddles there were in plenty, and the fresh new grass had begun just raising tender new blades coyly between the old dead hay of the previous season.
    On the whole, he had found Romeo Gonzales to be a congenial neighbor, given that it was hard to be anything else at half an acre space between their trailers and workplaces some blocks distant from each other. At least, Romeo showed no inclination to conspire together with malignantly-inclined micro-media operatives to ambush him at the door with lights, cameras and harassing commentary, unlike the egregious Penn. Who, in concordance with the injunction delivered through Jess, showed every inclination of making himself scarce whenever Richard was around. Richard was profoundly glad of that, not least because he treasured his afternoons of solitary contemplation of the pleasant but uninspiring landscape and his studies in Larousse.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Diversions | 7 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: As A Legal Matter, MacArthur Was Right And Truman Was Wrong

    Posted by Jonathan on July 21st, 2016 (All posts by )

    An interesting post.

     

    Posted in History, International Affairs, Korea, Law, United Nations, War and Peace | 26 Comments »

    Cruz, Pence

    Posted by Lexington Green on July 21st, 2016 (All posts by )

    Rockefeller and Romney, rising stars, refused to back the doomed Goldwater bid in 1964. They ended their careers by trying to save them, by disloyalty. Two guys who fought for the team in 1964, knowing it was doomed, earned the respect of the party faithful and each went on to dominate the party and be elected and reelected in 49 state landslides — Nixon and Reagan. There is a right and a wrong way to play it when there are intra-party differences. You respect the voters and you respect the process, you fight for yourself in the primaries, and when you lose you fight for the team, you take the hit for the team, and your teammates remember your loyalty and reward it. Ted Cruz is a fool, who apparently thinks he can help Hillary win, then be in position to win in 2020. But he has shown brutal disloyalty, and even violated an express, public pledge to back the nominee. He can never be trusted again. He has, I hope, destroyed his political future. I liked Ted, if he won I would have supported him. But there is no going back from this decision.

    More importantly, Mike Pence gave a very good, solid, appealing speech. He managed to turn the Trump message into a more mainstream Conservative message, which is not really that hard. Well-played by Pence. He has set the foundation for a successful future, however this campaign ends up.

    UPDATE:

    This is what Ted should have said:

    I took a pledge to support the party’s nominee.

    I will keep that pledge.

    I would be lying to you if I said this is easy.

    My race against Donald Trump became personal, and ugly, and painful, in ways I won’t repeat tonight.

    Many people who supported me, people close to me, people I love, cannot forgive him.

    And I understand that.

    But there is too much at stake to dwell on the past.

    The race is over, it’s in the history books now.

    And the history of America’s future is unwritten.

    It is up to us to write it, together.

    What we need to do as a party is come together, and find the conservative values we do share.

    What we need to do as a party is come together, no matter how bitter the race was, no matter how much we may disagree, no matter what personal animosities we may still feel, and defeat Hillary Clinton.

    So, my fellow Americans, my fellow Republicans, tonight I keep my pledge, and I endore my party’s nominee for President, Donald J. Trump.

     

    Posted in Politics, Trump | 46 Comments »

    The Leftward Shift at Fox News.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on July 19th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I have not been a big fan of Fox News but it was the only source of relatively neutral political reporting on TV for years. Some years ago, Charles Krauthammer famously said, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes found a “niche market ” with 50% of the population.

    I said some years ago that the genius of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes was to have discovered a niche market in American broadcasting — half the American people. The reason Fox News has thrived and grown is because it offers a vibrant and honest alternative to those who could not abide yet another day of the news delivered to them beneath layer after layer of often undisguised liberalism.

    What Fox did is not just create a venue for alternative opinion. It created an alternate reality.

    A few years ago, I was on a radio show with a well-known political reporter who lamented the loss of a pristine past in which the whole country could agree on what the facts were, even if they disagreed on how to interpret and act upon them. All that was gone now. The country had become so fractured we couldn’t even agree on what reality was. What she meant was that the day in which the front page of The New York Times was given scriptural authority everywhere was gone, shattered by the rise of Fox News.

    Now, in a trend that has become depressingly common, the heirs of Murdoch are taking over and shifting the programming left. Roger Ailes has been named by a disgruntled ex-employee in a fairly laughable sexual harassment suit. Carlson was fired and then, after being fired, sued alleging harassment.

    Ailes, predictably, dismissed the charges as false.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Conservatism, Leftism, Media, Politics, The Press | 24 Comments »

    Melania Trump’s Speech Was Intentionally Sabotaged

    Posted by Lexington Green on July 19th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Melania

    This story is more interesting and important than people seem to realize.

    What do we know happened?

    Melania Trump gave a speech at the Republican National Convention. The speech was long-anticipated, and long in preparation. It was considered by the Trump campaign to be a significant moment, where Melania Trump would be introduced to the public and her speech would humanize and soften the image of Donald Trump.

    The speech, during and immediately after Melania Trump gave it, was considered a success. She is not a professional politician or otherwise a public speaker by profession. So, her smoothly delivered and well-received speech was a solid success for the campaign.

    It was in the interests of Hillary Clinton’s campaign to undermine that success if possible. Denigrating Melania Trump for her looks, for the banality of the speech, and so on, were expected, and such mocking and insulting responses were of course under way during and immediately after the speech.

    Soon after the speech, how soon exactly is a point worth of investigation, the word began to circulate that Melania Trump had plagiarized language from a speech by Michelle Obama. In fact, there were some phrases which were identical. “You work hard for what you want in life, your word is your bond, you do what you say” and “you treat people with respect”.

    These phrases are not particularly noteworthy.

    They are boilerplate, even banal.

    Yet Melania Trump repeated them word for word.

    These are all undisputed facts.

    What are the open questions?

    What possible advantage was there for Melania Trump to repeat Michelle Obama’s speech word for word?

    None. Zero.

    Michelle Obama’s words could be restated equally effectively with other phrasing. Using identical words makes no sense.

    There is no motive here.

    Nonetheless, it is barely possible that Melania Trump knowingly repeated those words from Michelle Obama’s speech, thinking no one would notice, even though tweaking a few words would have removed any hint of plagiarism.

    Perhaps Melania Trump is lazy, dishonest, and very stupid, and so indifferent to the success of her husband’s campaign that she knowingly plagiarized Michelle Obama’s language.

    That is one possible explanation.

    It is not convincing.

    However, there is more.

    There is also a passage in Melania Trump’s speech which is a direct quote from a Rick Astley song.

    In other words, Melania Trump’s speech was Rickrolled.

    To those who do not recall the fad from 2008 or so, Rickrolling was providing a link which purported to be something else, but in fact linked to a Rick Astley video, in fact, the very video whose lyrics were included in Melania Trump’s speech.

    The only plausible explanation for the presence of these lyrics is that someone who participated in the drafting of Melania Trump’s speech intentionally included the Rick Astley lyric, apparently as a signal the speech had been “hacked.”

    The Rick Astley lyric is a mocking gesture, a flipped bird from the saboteur.

    There is no rational explanation for Melania Trump knowingly or intentionally including the Rick Astley lyric in her speech.

    Someone who knew what the Rick Astley lyric represented included it in the speech.

    Others have suggested that the so-called plagiarism might have been intentional sabotage by someone involved in the speech-writing process, e.g. this article.

    In fact, there is no other plausible explanation.

    Either Melania Trump knowingly included the plagiarized Michelle Obama quotes in her initial draft — or she did not.

    It is barely possible she did, though highly unlikely.

    Either Melania Trump “Rickrolled herself” — or she did not.

    That is impossible.

    It makes no sense at all.

    Melania Trump’s speech was intentionally sabotaged.

    What no one seems to have pointed out is that the production of this speech, like any important written work product, is a heavily documented process.

    Melania Trump and the Trump campaign claim that she wrote the speech. What precisely that means is not clear. What it likely means is that she drafted it, or prepared an initial draft. What is certain is that whatever draft Melania Trump prepared was then circulated for comment and editing. That is the standard process. It is inconceivable that she wrote something in private and then gave the speech to the Republican National Convention with no input or review by anyone else. To the contrary, we know that the speech was the result of a long drafting process and was rehearsed repeatedly, and probably revised and refined during that process as well. Some number of other persons were involved in the process.

    The documentary evidence within the Trump campaign, including email traffic and draft versions of the speech, will show with certainty at what point in the drafting process the Michelle Obama language was added, and when the Rick Astley language was added.

    The documentary evidence within the Trump campaign will also with certainty identify the person who added each of these items to Melania Trump’s speech.

    If Melania Trump’s initial draft did not include this language, when was it added?

    Who put it in?

    What was that person’s motive?

    Did this person act alone?

    Was this a dirty trick done in collusion with others?

    If so, with whom?

    Did the person who added the language send email or text messages which can be examined to determine whether that person tipped off anyone to break the plagiarism story?

    Did that person breach any confidentiality agreement or other agreement with the Trump campaign?

    Is that person subject to a lawsuit?

    How did someone hostile to Trump, willing and able to sabotage Melania Trump’s speech, penetrate the campaign organization undetected?

    Are there other moles in the campaign organization?

    These are all questions that need to be answered.

    Determining precisely who was responsible, what their motives were, and how they did it, would be the kind of questions a real news media would be asking.

    Instead, they are acting like the Democratic operatives they are, presenting the consensus anti-Trump narrative, while failing to note that it makes no sense.

    Bottom line: A calculated attack was made on Trump’s campaign, his wife’s speech was hacked and an important success was turned into a circus and an embarrassment for the campaign.

    We need to know what really happened.

    We may be in for a season of more serious dirty tricks.

    This episode should be thoroughly investigated.

    UPDATE:

    A speechwriter has come forward claiming the Michelle Obama language was included in error.

    This does not explain the Rickroll, however.

     

    Posted in Politics, Trump | 64 Comments »

    My Big Fat Hillary Problem

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on July 19th, 2016 (All posts by )

    So, it looks like Her Inevitableness is tottering on the way to her coronation, attended by throne-sniffing, lickspittle courtiers like Chris Matthews of MSNBC, who most notably got bent out of shape last night by Patricia Smith (the mother of former SEAL Sean Smith, killed in the 2012 mob attack on the US consular office in Benghazi) calling Her Inevitableness a liar. Such “lese majeste!” harrumphs the egregiously offended Mr. Matthews, whom I assume followed this up with a demand that those kids get off his lawn.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Leftism, The Press | 16 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: The Libertarian/Popperian Case for Brexit: A Response to Professors Somin, Levy, Norberg et al.

    Posted by Jonathan on July 19th, 2016 (All posts by )

    The so-called libertarian case against Brexit works like this. Nations do bad things. E.g., tariffs. And the European Union (“EU”) blocks some (perhaps many of) those bad things. Indeed, the EU has set up a tariff-free free trade zone. That’s a good thing. Therefore EU-good & Brexit-bad. This position is not entirely wrong, but it is only half the story.
     
    First, the EU (and EFTA) free trade zone extends to EU (and EFTA) member states and their dependencies, and also to a few nearby non-member political entities (e.g., San Marino, Andorra, etc). This tariff-free free trade zone does not extend to the world. So when foreign goods are imported into the “tariff-free free trade zone” across the EU’s external borders, EU law mandates a “Common Customs Tariff”. In other words, hand-in-hand with the absence of tariffs among member states is an EU-imposed tariff against non-members’ exports. Whether this situation is a net gain for the people of Europe is a complex empirical question. That question is not answered merely by parroting the EU’s line: we promote tariff-free free trade. No, that question is not so easily answered because although the EU promotes some free trade, it positively discriminates against non-members’ exports.

    Read the rest.

    This is a long and well reasoned post that is worth reading in full. The gist of Seth’s argument is that the political phenomena lumped together as “Brexit” should be evaluated empirically rather than according to someone’s interpretation of libertarian doctrine; there are good reasons for supporters of freedom and open societies to favor Britain’s exit from the EU.

    UPDATE: Ilya Somin responds. The reader is invited to evaluate Somin’s full response for himself, but I was struck by this line: “Tillman’s discussion of immigration is notable for its implicit assumption that we can assess immigration policy while completely ignoring the freedom and interests of potential immigrants themselves.” Has there ever been a country that framed its immigration policy in any terms other than its own self-interest?

     

    Posted in Britain, Current Events, Europe, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 3 Comments »

    Another BLM Related Ambush & Mass Murder of Police in Baton Rouge, LA?

    Posted by Trent Telenko on July 17th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Seven Baton Rouge area law men have been shot and three are dead in an ambush near Police H.Q. in Baton Rouge.  There was as single perpetrator in a black outfit, with a hoodie or other face covering, with a long rifle. He was engaged by Police and shot in the exchange. The USA Today won’t say his race.

    The best one-stop place to cover the shooting seems to be this “The Conservative Tree House Blog” thread.

    Odds are 9-to-1 that this perpetrator was a single black male with some connection to the Black Lives Matter’s protest movement.

    Excerpt from USA Today below —

    ————————–

    Report: 3 police officers in Baton Rouge shot dead

     

    Three police officers have been shot dead in Baton Rouge, La., and others may have been wounded, authorities said Sunday.

    .

    The three officers were shot near the department headquarters, Baton Route Mayor Kip Holden told MSNBC. At least four others were injured in the shooting, he said.

    .

    “They are investigating,” he said. “Right now we are trying to get our arms around everything.”

    .

    Two Baton Rouge police officers and one East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy are dead, according to WBRZ-TV’s Michael Vinsanau.

    .

    The gunman was shot, a Louisiana State Police spokesman said, but his condition was not immediately clear.

     

    and

    A witness told WBRZ-TV that a man was dressed in black with his face covered was shooting indiscriminately when he walked out between a convenience store and car wash across from Hammond Air Plaza. Police closed the streets between the police department’s headquarters and Interstate 12.

    .

    Vinsanau of WBRZ tweeted that more than a dozen marked and unmarked police cars have sped to the scene, and that a SWAT team is on location. State police armed with rifles are posted blocks away, Vinsanau tweeted.

    UPDATE:

    Perpetrator Description —

     

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Obama | 61 Comments »

    The Coup Attempt in Turkey.

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

    The attempted coup d’etat in Turkey has failed and the repercussions will follow.

    Edward Luttwak has an important column on why it happened and why it failed.

    The failure was so sudden and the coup was so poorly organized that some have questioned whether it was a false flag operation.

    A US-based Turkish cleric accused of plotting a coup to overthrow the Ankara government has claimed President Recep Erdogan staged the rebellion himself to justify a major clampdown on opposition forces.
    Fethullah Gulen, who was a former key ally of Erdogan has been blamed by the politician of using his contacts to develop a ‘parallel structure’ to overthrow the state.
    Erdogan has called on US President Barack Obama to extradite Gulen, who is based in Pennsylvania.

    Erdogan has requested the US turn over the imam who has been living in Pennsylvania. Why ?

    Luttwak has a pretty good explanation.

    The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was left free to call out his followers to resist the attempted military coup, first by iPhone and then in something resembling a televised press conference at Istanbul’s airport. It was richly ironic that he was speaking under the official portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey’s modern secular state, because Erdogan’s overriding aim since entering politics has been to replace it with an Islamic republic by measures across the board: from closing secular high schools so as to drive pupils into Islamic schools to creeping alcohol prohibitions to a frenzied program of mosque-building everywhere — including major ex-church museums and university campuses, where, until recently, headscarves were prohibited.

    When we were in Istanbul ten years ago, Hagia Sophia, the original Christian church that has been converted to a mosque after Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, was being converted to a museum.

    INSIDEHAGIASOPHIA2

    The huge panels of calligraphy were being removed and, beneath the panels, the workmen were finding that the previous workmen in 1453 had carefully preserved the mosaics being covered, possibly anticipating the city would be retaken by the Byzantines.

    Mosaic at entrance

    Few of the mosaics survived but a few could be seen. That one is above a door into the church.

    Will the restoration continue under Erdogan ? I wonder. I also wonder how many tourists there will be to see it if it continues.

    More from Luttwak.

    Erdogan has been doing everything possible to dismantle Turkey’s fragile democracy: from ordering the arrest of journalists who criticized him, including the outright seizure and closure of the country’s largest newspaper, Zaman, to the very exercise of presidential power, since Turkey is not a presidential republic like the United States or France, but rather a parliamentary republic like Germany or Italy, with a mostly ceremonial president and the real power left to the prime minister. Unable to change the constitution because his Justice and Development Party (AKP) does not have enough votes in parliament, Erdogan instead installed the slavishly obedient (and mustachioed) Binali Yildirim as prime minister — his predecessor, Ahmet Davutoglu, had been very loyal, but not quite a slave — and further subverted the constitutional order by convening cabinet meetings under his own chairmanship in his new 1,000-room palace: a multibillion-dollar, 3.2 million-square-foot monstrosity (the White House is approximately 55,000 square feet), which was built without authorized funding or legal permits in a nature reserve.

    I think Turkey is lost to the West and modern civilization. I saw those angry young men when we were entering mosques, like the Blue Mosque, where they kept angry and careful watch to see that we took off shoes and women wore head scarves. Now, they are running the country,

     

    Posted in Islam, Middle East | 15 Comments »

    Automated Systems Need to be Supervised by Humans

    Posted by David Foster on July 17th, 2016 (All posts by )

    …and not just any humans.

    Listen to this very-well-done podcast about one of those times when thermonuclear war did not happen: Flirting with the end of the world.

    Automated systems need to be supervised by humans, and not just any humans, as Stanislav Petrov’s story makes clear.  Individuals and bureaucracies that themselves behave in a totally robotic fashion cannot be adequate supervisors of the automation.  See also my post Blood on the tracks for an additional example.

     

    Posted in History, Russia, Tech, USA, War and Peace | 9 Comments »

    MOHAMED AND HIS TRUCK

    Posted by Trent Telenko on July 15th, 2016 (All posts by )

    The headline at the Drudge Report says it all —  MOHAMED AND HIS TRUCK.

    A Tunisian born Muslim with French citizenship took a box truck and ran over hundreds during the annual French Bastille Day celebrations in NICE, Southern France.

    The UK Daily mail article at this link —

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3691895/He-drank-alcohol-ate-pork-took-drugs-NOT-Muslim-Truck-terrorist-Mohamed-Lahouaiej-Bouhlel-s-cousin-reveals-unlikely-jihadist-beat-wife-NEVER-went-mosque.html

    …said that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drank alcohol, ate pork, chased women at night clubs, beat his wife and took drugs.  He was a petty criminal, publicly violent, and possibly an informant for French police or internal security forces before he was turned into a suicide-murderer by those who he was spying on, according to David P. Goldman of the Asia Times.

    See Goldman’s article titled:

    WHY THE TERRORISTS ARE WINNING THE INTELLIGENCE WAR
    http://atimes.com/2016/07/why-the-terrorists-are-winning-the-intelligence-war/

    The only thing of importance in all of this is the realization that the law enforcement and internal security forces in the West have lost control.  No amount of law enforcement, electronic surveillance or gun control can prevent a suicide-murderer bent on religious self-immolation, and activated by the ongoing world wide social media incitement campaign(s), from killing dozens to hundreds.

    What cannot go on, won’t.

    Goldman suggests in his article that a General Sherman “March Through Georgia” style of collective punishment of Muslim civilian populations in the West can work to end this random death in the Western civilization’s life support.

    The bottom line — as BREXIT proved — is that publics in Western democracies can and will replace elites that say nothing can be done, and that Western publics “…will have to accept more Muslim Mass Immigration & Terrorism, because… (insert P. C. excuse here)”.

    Discuss.

     

     

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Europe, France, Islam, Law Enforcement, Leftism, National Security, Politics | 61 Comments »

    Tweet of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on July 15th, 2016 (All posts by )

    If the #FamilyResearchCouncil wanted to win a SC case, then change name to Donald #Trump Research Council. #Ginsburg would be conflicted out

    Seth Barrett Tillman

     

    Posted in Humor, Law, Politics, Trump | 1 Comment »

    Are the Police a Purely Reactive Force?

    Posted by Dan from Madison on July 15th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Another day, another tragedy.

    Driving to work there was a massive speed trap set up on one of the roads I take.

    Is that all they are good for? Revenue? How many times are we to witness this carnage? Shouldn’t the police be doing the hard work of, well, policing? Maybe I am over reacting. Enlighten me in the comments.

     

    Posted in Current Events, Terrorism | 10 Comments »