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  • Does the Establishment GOP Want to Win This Election ?

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

    trumpflag

    I’m starting to wonder if the Republican Party, that is the institutional party not the voters, really wants to win the election if it means accepting Trump as the nominee.

    I was skeptical at first when it looked like Trump was not collapsing of his own weight.

    About December, he began to look like there was a real chance of winning.

    Now, after months of whistling past the graveyard of Trump’s seemingly inexorable rise and assuring themselves that his candidacy will collapse as voters come to their senses, a CNN poll released Wednesday showing Trump now lapping the field has the GOP establishment in full meltdown mode. The survey shows Trump with nearly 40% of the primary vote, trailed by Ted Cruz at 18%, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio tied at 10%, and the also-rans (including great GOP hope Jeb Bush) limping along far behind.

    I am not a Trump supporter but I am intrigued at the steady progress he is making toward success.

    I am still not that enthusiastic but it seems that he has attracted a large following of people who might be motivated enough to elect him president. The Republican Party seems horrified by the prospect.

    This talk of ousting Trump as the nominee seems more likely to be a big flashing public signal to Trump to get his act together right away. (The smart lefty writer John Judis thinks Trump’s scripted speech Tuesday night is a sign he got this message.) If you were really going to depose Trump from being the GOP nominee in Cleveland, I’m not sure you’d go big with lots of public chatter about it as you’re seeing right now.

    For example, Michael Mukasey a former Attorney General, has written a pearl clutching op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about Trump’s feud with the judge in the Trump U case.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Politics, Trump | 25 Comments »

    Forever

    Posted by Grurray on June 9th, 2016 (All posts by )

    AYC
     
     
     
    This is a long, old article about the Arab “refugees” in and around Israel (h/t – Architect Guy), but it’s still a useful exposé of the maddening hypocrisy that created and enabled Arab terrorism in Israel.

    What indeed? Arabs gorge on hate, they roll in it, they breathe it. Jews top the hate list, but any foreigners are hateful enough. Arabs also hate each other, separately and, en masse. Their politicians change the direction of their hate as they would change their shirts. Their press is vulgarly base with hate-filled cartoons; their reporting describes whatever hate is now uppermost and convenient. Their radio is a long scream of hate, a call to hate. They teach their children hate in school. They must love the taste of hate; it is their daily bread. And what good has it done them?
     
    THERE is no future in spending UN money to breed hate. There is no future in nagging or bullying Israel to commit suicide by the admission of a fatal locust swarm of enemies. There is no future in Nasser’s solution, the Holy War against Israel; and we had better make this very clear, very quickly.

    A lot has changed since this was written over a half century ago, but sadly much remains the same. The system cemented in place to breed evil that ruthlessly murders innocent people generation after generation is flourishing. The United Nations and its international order are the enemy of Israel and the enemy of Jewish people. The Palestinian is not now a partner for peace and never was.

    Related: The Smoking Gun: Arab Immigration into Palestine, 1922-1931

    Like U.O. Schmelz, Roberto Bachi expressed some reservation about the virtual non-existence of data and discussion concerning migration into and within Palestine. He writes:
     
    Between 1800 and 1914, the Muslim population had a yearly average increase in the order of magnitude of roughly 6-7 per thousand. This can be compared to the very crude estimate of about 4 per thousand for the “less developed countries” of the world (in Asia, Africa, and Latin America) between 1800 and 1910. It is possible that part of the growth of the Muslim population was due to immigration

    Not only is it possible, but it’s likely that much if not most of the population of Arabs that now identifies as Palestinian originated in outlying regions such as Egypt and Syria prior to the 20th century.

    This was confirmed by Mark Twain in his book The Innocents Abroad about his Old World travels in 1867.

    No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eye than that which bounds the approaches to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is mournful, dreary, and lifeless. Palestine sits in sackloth and ashes Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies… Palestine is desolate and unlovely… It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land… [a] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds – a silent mournful expanse… A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action… We never saw a human being on the whole route… There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.

    Regardless of where the Arabs say they came from or think they came from or what they think they deserve, Jews have lived in the Land of Israel for over 3000 years. They have a claim to the land that stretches back long before Arabs even existed. The Jews of Israel took a barren and desolate desert and turned it into an oasis in the middle of a region otherwise cursed with war, strife, and misery. Israel thrives now while the Arab world is imploding. Israel lives and always has and always will.

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Current Events, International Affairs, Israel, Middle East, War and Peace | 27 Comments »

    Hannity and Gingrich on Trump

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on June 8th, 2016 (All posts by )

    HannityGingrichGingrich: Trump’s pivot speech a big step in right direction

    Interesting comments from Sean and Newt on what Donald Trump needs to do in order to win the election. To sum up:

    Focus on the economy.

    Think big, make big proposals.

    Stay disciplined, show he can be president.

    Oddly, this dovetails with a conversation I had last night with a coworker. He’s a 40-ish, pony-tailed engineer of Indian extraction who was born in Guyana and emigrated to the US to live and work. He was watching Hillary’s triumphant speech on CNN at the gym last night and we ended up in a long conversation about society and politics.  I had him pegged as a leftist and was surprised to hear him start discussing what Trump needed to do in order to win. The above three points were all things he mentioned. He shocked me even more when he finished up by saying if Trump can impress the electorate with a hopeful vision and behave like he can be trusted with the presidency, he thought he would win very big in November. Anecdotal but interesting.

    Update: Here’s the speech to which they are referring.

     

    Posted in Elections | 18 Comments »

    Lest We Forget: “Reasons Why Dodd-Frank Was a Horrible Law”

    Posted by Jonathan on June 8th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Jeff Carter:

    One thing I have noticed over the years is when there is a crisis, it’s a really bad time to pass sweeping legislation. The momentum and justification for legislation comes from fear. “We don’t want that to happen again”, supporters say. For example, 9/11 happens and we get the Department of Homeland Security which is mostly a waste of money and allows the government to pry into all kinds of places it shouldn’t.
     
    Dodd-Frank is a result of the financial crisis. There are so many bad actors in this crisis that it’s hard to list them all, but the root cause was the implicit backing government gave Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-along with legislation and regulation that encouraged bad behavior. Sure, the ratings agencies were paid by the big banks and slanted the playing field. The big banks knew exactly what they were doing with the mortgages. But, without the implicit backing of government, the game never gets played.

    and

    Here are some data points:
     

  • Before Dodd-Frank 75% of banks offered free checking
  •  

  • After Dodd-Frank 25% of banks offered free checking
  •  

  • Small business costs are up 15% to comply with new regulation
  •  

  • 15% less credit card accounts, and a 200 basis points more in cost
  •  
    Remember, many small businesses get started by using credit cards. You might think they are stupid. But why should you import your financial/moral compass on them. Maybe they see the annual percentage rate credit card companies charge as cheap compared to the opportunity that lies ahead of them.
     
    In the state of Missouri, there were 44 banks with less than $50M in assets. Prior to Dodd-Frank they were profitable. Post Dodd-Frank, 26/44 are losing money and will either go out of business or be consolidated. Your local community bank which is often the lifeblood of local capital is dead. How many other states are like Missouri? It’s no wonder small town rural America is having a tough go in the Obama epoch.
     
    Dodd-Frank tried to make central party clearing mandatory for all transactions in the OTC market. Professor Craig Pirrong has blogged brilliantly about this and other aspects of Dodd-Frank. It works for a few, but not for all. This makes it more expensive to hedge risks. Businesses pass along the cost to consumers. In many cases, clearinghouses have to become the actual counterparty to the hedge. This stops commerce and more importantly has created more too big to fail institutions. Those too big to fail clearinghouses are now backed by the full faith and credit of the American taxpayer, you.

    These are great points and Jeff’s post is worth reading in full.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Markets and Trading, Politics, Systems Analysis | 4 Comments »

    D-Day, June 6th 1944, Plus 72 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on June 6th, 2016 (All posts by )

    To commemorate D-Day, here is a current view of Omaha Beach from Wikipedia —

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omaha_Beach#/media/File:Omaha_Beach_Nowadays.jpg

    And here are a pair of columns I’ve written previously on D-Day in 2014 and 2013.

    This is a review of three very good books on D-Day —

    History Friday — Books to Read for the D-Day 70th Anniversary
    6th June 2014

    And this column is about the sacrifices of British Royal Air Force early warning radar unit, the 1st Echelon of 21 Base Defence Sector, that landed at the Les Moulins Draw, on Omaha Beach, Normandy about 5:30pm on 6 June 1944.

    Royal Air Force at Omaha Beach
    6th June 2013

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 2 Comments »

    Community

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on June 6th, 2016 (All posts by )

    We walked with the dogs on Saturday morning – as we do almost every morning; our two, Nemo and Connor, and the exuberant labradoodle belonging to an elderly neighbor. Penny, the labradoodle is a young dog, energetic, impulsive and quite strong; late last year, while walking down to the community mailbox, Penny pulled on her leash abruptly that our neighbor was pulled over and absolutely wrecked her shoulder/rotator cuff when she fell to the pavement. This meant several days in the hospital and weeks of therapy for our neighbor, who likely will never regain full mobility – and so, we walk her dog in the morning, and the children of another neighbor walk the dog later in the day; all this aimed toward exhausting the dog, who as noted, is young, exuberant and requires an extensive program of exercise which our neighbor is simply unable to provide, as much as she adores her companion-dog. So we do it – it’s what neighbors do.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Culture, USA | 5 Comments »

    June 6, 1944

    Posted by David Foster on June 6th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Today, June 6, is the  72nd anniversary of the Normandy landings. See the Wikipedia article for an overview. Arthur Seltzer, who was there, describes his experiences.

    Don Sensing points out that success was by no means assured: the pivot day of history.

    Two earlier Photon Courier posts: before D-day, there was Dieppe and transmission ends.

    See Bookworm’s post from 2012, and Michael Kennedy’s photos from 2007

    A collection of D-day color photos from Life Magazine

    Neptunus Lex:  The liberation of France started when each, individual man on those landing craft as the ramp came down – each paratroop in his transport when the light turned green – made the individual decision to step off with the only life he had and face the fire.

    The Battle of Midway took place from June 4 through June 7, 1942. Bookworm attended a Battle of Midway commemoration event in 2010 and also in 2011: Our Navy–a sentimental service in a cynical society.

    See also  Sgt Mom’s History Friday post from 2014.

    General Electric remembers the factory workers at home who made victory possible.  Also, women building airplanes during WWII, in color and the story of the Willow Run bomber plant.

    Also, a very interesting piece on  the radio news coverage of the invasion

     

    Posted in Europe, History, USA, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    Cyber Warfare

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on June 5th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Col. Michael Brown, USMC, Retired:

    The Russians and Chinese are the most active in offensive attacks. I worry a lot about the vulnerability of our electrical grid and even our water supply network.

    SCADA Systems

    Supervisory control and data acquisition – SCADA refers to ICS (industrial control systems) used to control infrastructure processes (water treatment, wastewater treatment, gas pipelines, wind farms, etc), facility-based processes (airports, space stations, ships, etc,) or industrial processes (production, manufacturing, refining, power generation, etc).

     

    Posted in China, Energy & Power Generation, Military Affairs, Russia, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    Meanwhile, In Paris

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on June 5th, 2016 (All posts by )

    The French government is trying to reform the labor laws to make France more competitive and reduce unemployment. The French unions and leftists are not happy. The 24 team UEFA Euro 2016 football championship is scheduled to begin June 10 and continue through July 10. Millions of tourists are expected and, strategically, the unions are threatening to close the airlines and the rails. Demonstrations and street riots have been ongoing for several weeks now and things are getting more violent.

    Brit journo Philip Turle gives a fairly succinct explanation of the situation:

    Let’s join the festivities at the riot du jour:

     

     

    Posted in Current Events, France, Video | 9 Comments »

    An Eye Witness Report from the 6-2-2016 Trump Rally in San Jose

    Posted by Trent Telenko on June 4th, 2016 (All posts by )

    This is from Trump event attendee Karen Powers:

    As a Trump supporter, I was there, in San Jose, attending the Trump event on June 2.
     
    The Trump event attendees were forced to walk past the protesters afterward, after the event was over, to get to their cars. Broad areas of sidewalks and streets, that were not blockaded before the event started, were blockaded by barriers after the event ended, and standing in front of those barriers were lines of individual police officers telling Trump event attendees what route to follow to get to their vehicles.
     
    I had parked in a parking garage right next door to the event. Before the event, an easy walk to the event, after event over, had to square 4 blocks of sidewalk lined with protesters who somehow knew the exact route that Trump supporters/event attendees had to walk, and were waiting for them.
     
    Frankly, it was pretty obvious that either law enforcement personnel or the mayors office, someone in the know, had told the protesters where the Trump supporters would be forced to walk after the event. Attendees only went where law enforcement officers told them to go in order to get to our cars. We followed their instructions. The protesters knew, seemed well informed, of the direction where Trump supporters were going to be heading even before we exited the event, and protesters lined that walking route as a result, literally laying in wait where no law enforcement was present.
     
    There was an intent to force the supporters and protesters together. There was no intent to keep them apart.
     
    Trump supporters exiting the event were literally set up like rats in a maze, forced to follow a prescribed set of boundaries, which led directly to the protesters and not away from them.
     
    The press got their story but the clash was completely avoidable. It was created by intention and by design.

    Let’s be really clear about the implications of this report. These rioters were acting as an official arm of the Democratic Party controlled San Jose city government in suppressing the civil rights of Americans. The presidential election in November 2016 is no longer about “Trump” or “Hillary”.

    It is about whether we will retain American political freedom.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Politics, Trump | 29 Comments »

    To Stop the Train.

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

    I have been using the analogy of pulling the cord to stop the train when it is headed for the cliff, even if you don’t know what happens next. I see that Richard Fernandez has now adopted the analogy.

    I don’t see Trump voters as doing anything noble or particularly courageous but it is a risk and many of us are willing to take it.

    Fernandez uses the example of Torpedo Squadron 8 which was a factor in the success of the US Navy in the Battle of Midway. John Waldron did not sacrifice his men and his own life voluntarily but he had a mission and he carried it out in spite of everything that stood in his way. The fighters of Fighting 8 that were supposed to provide cover got lost in the confusion. According to Alvin Kernan’s book The Unknown Battle of Midway: The Destruction of the American Torpedo Squadrons, other pilots nearly attacked the leader of Fighting 8 after the battle.

    Fernandez uses the sacrifice of Waldron and Torpedo 8 as a metaphor for the 2016 election while remembering the crucial battle fought 74 years ago today.

    While the path leading to the present is disputed, no one appears to deny America has now arrived in a critical place whose abnormality is most evident in a contest between two presidential candidates neither of whom is widely supported by their nominating parties. None of the two candidates is actually expected to solve the multiple foreign policy and domestic crises currently besetting the country. In fact one candidate may have helped cause many of the current problems while the other’s main attraction is that he may function as a demolition charge which will clear out the roadblocks that have paralyzed America.

    If political columnist Ron Fournier is right about this election cycle, it is less about achieving incremental policy change than precipitating a radical institutional change. In that case the current unpopularity contest can be seen as an deliberate process to increase instability by hoping the worst man wins, not in order to continue the status quo but to tear things down and start afresh.

    I think it is more important to stop the trends initiated by Obama and the increasingly radical Democrats than to attempt any serious foreign policy initiative.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Current Events, History, Military Affairs, Politics, Trump | 13 Comments »

    Powering Down

    Posted by David Foster on June 4th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Everyone is aware of Obama’s suppression of the Keystone XL pipeline project.  But the legal, regulatory, and PR assault against critical infrastructure construction goes far beyond this. WSJ reports that:

    Many major fossil-fuel projects across the U.S., from pipelines to export terminals, have been shelved or significantly delayed because of a confluence of new regulations, grass-roots opposition and a drop in energy prices.  Overall, more than a dozen projects, worth about $33 billion, have been either rejected by regulators or withdrawn by developers since 2012, with billions more tied up in projects still in regulatory limbo.

    Among the projects that the WSJ article identified as ‘cancelled’ were the $875MM ‘Constitution’ gas pipelines for the Northeastern US and the $3 billion “Northeast Direct” for the same region.

    Natural gas is, of course, a major source for generating electricity, and the only practical way of getting the gas to the power plants is via pipeline.

    (The CEO of New England’s power grid operator), said pipeline) projects are badly needed. Residential consumers in New York and New England paid between 5% and 41% more than the national average for natural gas in March, the latest month for which data were available. They also paid more for electricity, which itself is increasingly made with natural gas. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Obama, Politics, USA | 9 Comments »

    Frack-Log…ACTIVATED!

    Posted by Trent Telenko on June 3rd, 2016 (All posts by )

    In my two previous blog posts here and here I talked of a new extended flow oil fracking technique coming on-line that resulted in a lot of drilled uncompleted wells (DUC) and the population of such wells (~5,000). In the comment section of one of those columns I speculated that we have a top end on oil prices where “turn on a dime fracking” will cut in at a price point of $50 a barrel

    We now have a “flaming datum” for that speculation, oil having just bumped -HARD- into the $50 a barrel roof for world oil prices. The 5,000 DUC Frack-log is being activated with — I strongly suspect — the new extended play oil fracking technique.

    It is being reported in various places that the US rig count jumped from NINE RIGS in mid-May to 325 last week and there was no change from 325 rigs this week. That is a 36 fold increase in rig count in a week!!

    Based on figures I’ve gotten from those in the industry, the range of production you can expect from those wells, depending on the geology, length of the laterals (6,000 to 8,000 feet) and the number of fracking stages (200′, 300′ or 400′) will result in initial barrel per day production of between 400 and 800 barrels a day per fracked well (with a very, very rare 1,300 barrel a day play from time to time). So we are looking at between 130,000 to 260,000 barrels a day of American oil fracking production arriving in the next few months.

    Compared to Saudi production, 130,000 to 260,000 barrels of oil a day represents between 1.3% and 2.5% of the Saudis’ daily oil flow. The number of DUCs activated to provide that production amount to 6.5% of the frack-log. And all that for what amounts to Zero “CAPEX” (capital expenditure), plus the operating expenses of worker wages, the rental price for existing, out of service, oil fracking rigs, and oil tanker trucks to move product to rail heads or oil pipelines.

    Now you know why the Saudis didn’t agree with OPEC oil production cutbacks this week. The Saudis maxing out their oil production is no longer about stopping American oil frackers. The Saudis’ long term regime survival strategy amounts to being the Last Petro-State Standing.”

    The Saudis — like everyone else inside the Big Oil economic paradigm — simply cannot compete with that sort of rapid to market, low cost & low risk oil. The Saudis’ highest priority now is to keep their customers as long as they can, because if they lose them they may never get them back.

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Middle East, National Security | 8 Comments »

    Who Built That?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on June 2nd, 2016 (All posts by )

    Who Built That: Awe-Inspiring Stories of American Tinkerpreneurs ~Michelle Malkin

    Note the ad hominem and generally vile nature of the leftists’ comments. It’s a reflection of who they are.

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Business, Capitalism, Entrepreneurship, Video | 12 Comments »

    Socio-Economic Modeling and Behavioral Simulations

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on June 2nd, 2016 (All posts by )

    SimulationsIn his Foundation series of books, Isaac Asimov imagined a science, which he termed psycho-history, that combined elements of psychology, history, economics, and statistics to predict the behaviors of large population over time under a given set of socio-economic conditions. It’s an intriguing idea. And I have no doubt much, much more difficult to do than it sounds, and it doesn’t sound particularly easy to begin with.

    Behavioral modeling is currently being used in many of the science and engineering disciplines. Finite element analysis (FEA), for example, is used to model electromagnetic effects, thermal effects and structural behaviors under varying conditions. The ‘elements’ in FEA are simply building blocks, maybe a tiny cube of aluminum, that are given properties like stiffness, coefficient of thermal expansion, thermal resistivity, electrical resistivity, flexural modulus, tensile strength, mass, etc. Then objects are constructed from these blocks and, under stimulus, they take on macro-scale behaviors as a function of their micro-scale properties. There are a couple of key ideas to keep in mind here, however. The first is that inanimate objects do not exercise free will. The second is that the equations used to derive effects are based on first principles, which is to say basic laws of physics, which are tested and well understood. A similar approach is used for computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which is used to model the atmosphere for weather prediction, the flow of water over a surface for dam design, or the flow of air over an aircraft model. The power of these models lies in the ability of the user to vary both the model and the input stimulus parameters and then observe the effects. That’s assuming you’ve built your model correctly. That’s the crux of it, isn’t it?

    I was listening to a lecture on the work of a Swiss team of astrophysicists the other day called the Quantum Origins of Space and Time. They made an interesting prediction based on the modeling they’ve done of the structure of spacetime. In a result sure to disappoint science fiction fans everywhere, they predict that wormholes do not exist. The reason for the prediction is simply that when they allow them to exist at the quantum level, they cannot get a large scale universe to form over time. When they are disallowed, the same models create De Sitter universes like the one we have.

    It occurred to me that it would be interesting to have the tools to run models with societies. Given the state of a society X, what is the economic effect of tax policy Y. More to the point, what is cumulative effect of birth rate A, distribution of education levels B, distribution of personal debt C, distribution of state tax rates D, federal debt D, total cost to small business types 1-100 in tax and regulations, etc.  This would allow us to test the effects of our current structure of tax, regulation, education and other policies. Setting up the model would be a gargantuan task. You would need to dedicate the resources of an institute level organization with expertise across a wide range of disciplines. Were we to succeed in building even a basic functioning model, its usefulness would be beyond estimation to the larger society.

    It’s axiomatic that anything powerful can and will be weaponized. It is also completely predictable that the politically powerful would see this as a tool for achieving their agenda. Simply imagine the software and data sets under the control of a partisan governing body. How might they bias the data to skew the output to a desired state? How might they bias the underlying code? Might an enemy state hack the system with the goal to have you adopt damaging policies, doing the work of social destruction at no expense or risk to them?

    Is this achievable? I think yes. All or most of the building blocks exist: computational tools, data, statistical mathematics and economic models. We are in the state we were in with regard to computers in the 1960s, before microprocessors. All the building blocks existed as separate entities, but they had not been integrated in a single working unit at the chip level. What’s needed is the vision, funding and expertise to put it all together. This might be a good project for DARPA.

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, Economics & Finance, Organizational Analysis, Science, Statistics, Systems Analysis | 46 Comments »

    The Administrative State to Citizens: You Have No Rights

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on June 1st, 2016 (All posts by )

    The Pacific Legal Foundation, who last year at the Supreme Court won the right of citizens to challenge EPA rulings, has now won the right of citizens to challenge the determinations of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

    It is not enough that agencies pass rulings and regulations that amount to law without their ever going through Congress or being voted on. Increasingly, the Administrative State takes the approach that you will do whatever they say without recourse, under penalty of egregious fines or imprisonment. Your tax dollars at work.

    PLF is donation supported.

     

     

    Posted in Big Government, Law, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 14 Comments »

    The Navajo Sandstone

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on May 30th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Early Jurassic

    Early Jurassic

    200 million years ago North America sat about 20 degrees above the equator. The newly born Mid-Atlantic Ridge was breaking Pangea apart, separating Laurentia from Gondwana, and one arm of the rift feature was beginning to propagate through Gondwana, beginning the separation of South America as well.

    Western Laurentia was a sea of sand, the remnants of which are still found all across the western USA as massive cliffs of buff colored sandstone, often over 1,000 feet high. The defining features of the Navajo Sandstone, besides its color, are the the large-scale cross-bedding and its tendency to weather across its exposed top surface into domes and rounded forms. The Navajo was one the largest seas of sand dunes ever seen on the planet. The most spectacular exposures of the Navajo are to be seen at Zion National Park where it reaches more than 2,500 feet in thickness. When the Colorado Plateau was uplifted in the Laramide Orogeny in last 45 million years, that created a lot of elevation difference between the uplifted ground surface and sea level, which allowed water to cut deeply through  the rock, exposing it to erosion. If you look at the cross section of the Grand Staircase below, you’ll see that more than a mile of rock has already been eroded from the ground above the Grand Canyon, the Vermillion Cliffs, and the White Cliffs of Navajo.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Science, USA | 9 Comments »

    Memorial Day

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

    MIkeMedals

    I don’t remember much of the Second World War although I was alive for all of it. I can remember being taught some of the WWII songs, like “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Mairzy Doats.”

    Most of the friends and relatives of military age went in and most returned after it was over. Not all did and the man in Bud Kerrison’s squadron who sent me the medals in the photo, was shot down and killed before I received them.

    theSalute

    Here, I am saluting Bud Kerrison before he went overseas. He had completed bombardier training. He served in the North African Theater and flew 50 missions, from June 1943 to January, 1944. He served in The 301st Bomb Group, 352nd Squadron.

    His B 17 was named by the pilot, “Spirit of Phyllis” after his girlfriend or wife and also after an earlier plane that had crash landed in England, named “Phyllis.”

    Bud's plane

    There is “Phyllis” after the crash landing in England.

    When the war ended, the guys all came home and my parents had parties for them.

    Saloon

    That is one of the parties in 1946. My father is behind the bar and Bud Kerrison is also behind the bar with Pat Neary who would later marry a friend of Bud’s named Frank Flanagan. Frank stayed in Chicago after that although his father had been Chief of Detectives in Philadelphia. Pat’s father was an Inspector in the Chicago PD so they were a police family. I have previously recounted the story of Frank.

    Well, we all get old. Bud did too and is gone now.

    BudKerrison

    There he is with his kids who are now all grown. I would love to have been able to take him up in a B 17 as I did my son for a birthday present a few years ago.

    B 17 nose and Joe

    There’s Joe in what had been Bud’s “office” as Dana Andrews described in in the pivotal scene of “The Best Years of Our Lives. “

     

    Posted in Military Affairs, Personal Narrative | 13 Comments »

    Memorial Day 2016

    Posted by David Foster on May 29th, 2016 (All posts by )

    A powerful and beautifully-done music video:  The war was in color

    Neptunus Lex:  We remember them

    Also from Lex:  A memorial day message from 2004

    Update: Bookworm’s Memorial Day essay for this year is up at her site

     

     

    Posted in History, Holidays, USA, War and Peace | 23 Comments »

    Memorial Day in Luna City

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 29th, 2016 (All posts by )

    (A brief account of Memorial Day in Luna city, from the Second Chronicle of Luna City, which we brought out at the beginning of May, in response to a chorus of pleading from readers who want to know how the cliffhanger at the end of the first Chronicle was resolved.)

    Luna City is well-equipped with military veterans, as are many small towns in fly-over country – especially the old South. The draft is only somewhat responsible for this. After all, it was ended formally more than four decades past. But the habit and tradition of volunteering for military service continues down to this very day, with the result that veterans of various services and eras are thick on the ground in Luna City – while a good few continue as reservists. There are not very many pensioned retirees, though; Clovis Walcott is one of those few, having made a solid Army career in the Corps of Engineers, and then in the same capacity as a Reservist. He is the exception; Lunaites mostly have served a single hitch or two, or for the duration of a wartime mobilization. They come home, pick up those threads of the life they put aside, or weave together the tapestry of a new one. What they did when they were in the military most usually lies lightly on them, sometimes only as skin-deep as a tattoo … and sometimes as deep as a scar.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Society, Current Events, Diversions, Holidays | No Comments »

    Russia’s Long Road to the Middle East

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on May 29th, 2016 (All posts by )

    An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (not behind paywall).

    What caught my eye was this:

    While the U.S. backed Arab monarchies and Israel, the Soviets sided with leftist regimes in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya and South Yemen, which became the Arab world’s only Marxist state.

    Hmm…. what else do these places have in common? Is what is going on over there as much the death throes of communism as the birth of radical islamism? We can see what is happening in Venezuela. Cuba may be able to minimize the effects if it can find a way to generate the tourism and other industries Puerto Rico has not. North Korea will be worst. But the entire Soviet Bloc has not fallen, only the European part.

    Further,

    Russia was too busy trying to prevent the breakup of its own rump post-Soviet state, bloodied by separatist uprisings in Chechnya and other Muslim regions. Mr. Putin successfully pacified those borderlands

    Well, if Russia created the problem, and Russia has demonstrated that it can fix the problem, what is the matter with allowing Russia to do so?

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 15 Comments »

    Keeping Portland Weird

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on May 28th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I recently relocated to Portland and there’s a lot of interesting stuff to see and do here, along with annoyances.

    Pug AT AT

    Pug AT AT at Star Wars Pug Parade in Portland

    I went to a Star Wars themed Pug Parade at a local brewery and this pug dressed as an Imperial AT AT was my favorite. I love the dog’s shy look as it was lavished with attention.

    Didgeridoo Band

    Didgeridoo Band

    This guy plays an amplified Didgeridoo along with a drummer and while it is amusing for the first few minutes it gets old quite quickly as the low drone buzz reverberates through the neighborhood.

    Barlow Gin and Tonic

    Barlow Gin and Tonic Portland

    I ordered a gin and tonic at a local artisanal bar over happy hour and this is what I received, quite different from my expectations of clear liquid with a lime. But it was quite tasty!

     

    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »

    Bill Whittle is Brilliant

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on May 27th, 2016 (All posts by )

    If the GOP leadership have ten brain cells between them, Reince Priebus would be back in private practice and Bill Whittle would be chairperson of their party. But back in the real world, that might cut into the graft coming from Alphabet Street lobbyists. And that’s really why they’re there.

    His insights on the importance of gaining a persuasive voice in the pop culture and reimaging and repackaging the classically liberal, libertarian message are incredibly important.

     

    Posted in Advertising, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Video | 8 Comments »

    Memorial Day

    Posted by Nathaniel T. Lauterbach on May 27th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Today I drove through the gate at the nearby Marine Corps base. The young Lance Corporal who was faithfully executing his General Orders at the gate checked my ID card, saluted smartly, and wished me a “happy holiday weekend.” I’m not sure I can have that, frankly, for the similar reason that a devout Christian may think it strange to be wished a “Happy Easter.” It just doesn’t make sense when you examine what those holidays are about.

    To me Memorial Day is intensely personal. I’ve had varying levels of a relationship with 15 Marines and Sailors who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Most of these men lost their lives in combat, but some lost their lives training for combat, too. Their deaths are still tragic–they were undertaking essentially the same tasks, doing dangerous work, and for the same ultimate goal.

    Their names are:

    Wroblewski.
    Strom.
    Crist.
    Yaggy.
    Palmer.
    Weis.
    Carazo.
    Cook.
    Claiborne.
    Quin.
    Parker.
    McHone.
    Budrejko.
    Bland.
    Wermers.

    Most of these guys are aviators. One was a UH-1 crew chief that I flew in combat with on dozens of occasions. I overflew over the wreckage which contained the remains of two of the pilots back in July, 2010. One of the 15 was a tank officer. Two were infantry officers. One was a special operations officer. One was a C2 officer. One of them was my “On-Wing” going through flight school (which means that he was the pilot who taught me how to fly).

    15 irreplaceable lives.

    I think about these men every day, but especially so on Memorial Day.

    I hate this holiday–every second of it. I hope you hate it too. Happy Memorial Day–my ass.

    Semper Fi, gents. Til Valhalla.

     

    Posted in Holidays, Military Affairs, Personal Narrative, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    The Quality of Your Enemies

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 27th, 2016 (All posts by )

    … or the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie Donald Trump.
    Paraphrasing the motto across the front of a favorite tee shirt that I wore out years ago, “I used to be disgusted; now I’m only amused.” I’ll cop to being both amused and disgusted when Donald Trump first hove into sight as a potential GOP nominee earlier in this election cycle. The whole thing was a joke, and I was certain he was playing it as such, playing it for the laughs and as an ego boost. Yes, The Donald of the bright orange tan and hopelessly fake comb-over, a crass, loudmouth East Coast real-estate speculator, with vulgar and over-the-top tastes in everything from interior to exterior decoration, in the words of the writer at Zero Anthropology, a “mountain of Grade A Beef in a $10,000 suit,” significant other of one Marla Maples back in the day when he first became an enduring feature on the front pages of national tabloids – that Donald Trump did not strike me as likely presidential timber. Still really doesn’t, but then I never thought a no-name minor Chicago machine pol with precisely nothing on his professional resume save being the editor of the Harvard Law review and identifying as black was presidential timber either, yet the post turtle got elected to that high office twice.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Politics, USA | 25 Comments »