Curious indeed, to reflect that by the end of this year, I will have been out of the Air Force for as long as I was in it – but the time does fly when you are having fun. But twenty years in the Big Blue Machine does leave marks, as well as an exquisite sense of how the military really operates in real time, among the lower-ranking levels, close to the ground. This isn’t a sense readily developed from reading, although I suppose someone with wide experience, a strong sense of empathy and close personal associations with veterans can develop it by proxy.
This around-about way of explaining how all this last week, my daughter and I were wondering about a murder-suicide at Lackland AFB last Friday morning – nearly a week ago. A trainee airman had fatally shot his squadron commander, and then killed himself. Of course, it all came out in dribbles over the weekend; the trainee was an E-6, aged 41 and a student in the pararescue course … and had also resigned from the FBI as a special agent. Everything about this was curious, even unlikely; the Air Force para-rescue specialty is one of the most physically-demanding jobs the Air Force has. It’s comparable to the SEALS, and Army Special Forces, in that many are called, few chosen, and even fewer still graduate.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on April 14th, 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
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.
“Tillman Responding to Washington Post Op-Ed: Gregory L. Diskant–Obama can appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if the Senate does nothing”
Finally, the same 1869 federal statute which mandated a 9-member Supreme Court has also established a quorum of only 6 members. Thus, there is no rush to fill any Supreme Court vacancy, in spite of the fact that some future cases might end up tied 4-to-4. Given that Congress has set a quorum of 6 members, it stands to reason that Congress expected some Justices: to recuse themselves in specific cases; to take temporary leave to fulfil other government duties; to recuperate for a reasonable time if ill; and to die. The Court, as a functioning institution, goes on, at least, as long as it has 6 members, and surely Congress must have understood that a 6 or 8 member Court can deadlock. Indeed, historically, there have been lengthy periods of time where the Court, by statute, was expressly composed of an even number of members. For example, when Chief Justice John Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court, its size was set to 6 members by statute. To the extent worries about deadlock are a consideration, it is a political consideration for the American People, not a legal consideration, constitutional or otherwise.
Interesting and worth a look.
My first working years were very interesting as well as being hard-working and, as a man today beyond the sixty mark, I can think of the romance attached to my first job necessitating my calling at some of the most important buildings, firms and institutions in the City. Some are demolished or out of date but just a few remain and I can recount from memory a few of the places and firms.
My old firm was on Ludgate Hill, next St Martin’s Court, which is bordered on one side by the well known City Stationers, W. Straker. While I have him in mind, I must tell you that his first start in life was sitting in a small window in the left hand corner of St Paul’s Church and printing visiting cards at so much per hundred while you wait. In his case, one can quote the old adage, ‘nothing succeeds like success.’ What a character he was, good features, curly grey hair, immaculately dressed. If he ever wore a hat, it was of the sombrero type worn at a rakish angle, with a silk coat, plush waistcoat and very pronounced black and white check trousers. In his spare time, on bright days, he would parade the pavement near or about his premises and people naturally asked, ‘Who’s that?’ He was a city character once seen could never be forgotten.
At the extreme end of St Martin’s Court stood what we boys called the old London Wall – a mass about forty feet by ten and possibly the position of the ancient Lud Gate, one of the many gates protecting the City. I well remember with the tools of those days it took considerable time to demolish it.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on April 12th, 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
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 ?
The mind of the Left, from a former insider
There seems to be a lot of this sort of thing going on
Drinking on a date has very different effects for men and for women
How a US kid turned into a free-range German child
Related to the above: how free play creates emotionally stable children in an unstable world
An American fighter pilot meets the North Vietnamese ace who shot down his friend
Neptunus Lex described the proper frame of mind for winning in air combat as “personal, like you’re in a knife fight in a phone booth, and someone has to die before anyone gets to leave.”
“Louise Arbour had one response to Farage and Steyn that, I think, was missed by the audience and by F & S. Arbour said:”
Read the rest of Seth’s new post here.
President Obama got it exactly wrong when he argued in a Washington Post op-ed that “as the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, the United States has a moral obligation to continue to lead the way in eliminating them.” What he should have written instead was “as the only nation ever to refrain from using nuclear weapons gratuitously when it had the monopoly on such weapons, the United States has the moral authority to lead the way in regulating them.”
What gives the US moral authority is bias, the improbability of it using nuclear weapons in time of peace. You can be sure the USAF won’t nuke Chicago, or Brussels or Kampala tomorrow, even if it physically could, because of civilizational bias. The reason why Obama’s unilateral reductions in the American nuclear arsenal as gestures to nuclear disarmament are meaningless is because he’s not actually reducing any of the risk. All the danger is on the other side, where the bias goes the other way for aggression, conquest and world domination. That is what he seems unable to reduce.
[. . .]
The reason why statements like “Islam is the religion of peace” or “we will never be at war with Islam” are so dangerous is because they ignore bias and reduce the problem to the mere monitoring of things. They put the most important factor of all into the error term. The result is a world of runaway entropy that is more dangerous to everybody, especially to Muslims.
[. . .]
These Kurdish peasants instinctively remember what the West has forgotten, that man lives not just in a world of things but of angels and demons. Cultures and belief are not optional extras but the bedrock of survival. They know instinctively that for man to survive he must fight Evil which is real with the aid of the Old Ones, who are also real. Only thus can he change his biases; only thus can he get the better of entropy.
President Obama is the anti-confident American. He seems to believe that his country should be taken down a notch or two, should apologize for past wrongs, should stop seeing itself in terms of confident exceptionalism. How’s that working out? Fernandez’s points aren’t new but bear repeating. Belief in cultural and moral equivalence is effectively suicidal. Our elites are too corrupt and incompetent to understand that this is the case or to know what to do about it.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on April 8th, 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
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.
As a promised follow-up to the original posting, I’ll be conspicuously attired in something resembling this (but without the hood). Well, and pants, shoes, etc. Also, there is a slight chance that I will actually talk my way into the tour of what I am calling Pierce the Younger, but it is to end at 4 PM tomorrow.
NB: Sunday afternoon is likely to be wet. I am investigating the availability of some kind of water-repellent device, ideally collapsible for easy transport and storage.
I have written previously about the melt-down of the last Hugo Awards (here and here) so I don’t think I need recapitulate the whole multi-year saga. If you are seriously into science fiction, you already know, if you aren’t, it’ll merely be of minor academic interest. I keep coming back to as a writer with a mild interest in science fiction generally, and a slightly more intense one in how a particular progressive and insular mind-set manages to warp the heck out of book publishing and marketing the same to the masses, and because I have on-line acquaintances who are passionately interested in the matter. These interests tend to be infectious, I’ll have you know.
It had begun to seem in the last few years – especially to science fiction fans – that what was being published, marketed, and lauded by the critical luminaries in science fiction circles was actually not terribly readable. It was increasing precious, depressing, literary in the worst interpretation of the word (pretentious, pointless and prizing showy effects in the use of language over plot, characterization and possibility) and that the gender, skin color and sexual/political orientation of the author mattered more than being able to write a cracking good yarn. Too many books were, in Sarah Hoyt’s phrase, grey goo – the written-word equivalent of Filboid Studge.
Read the rest of this entry »
In her memoirs, Russian combat pilot Anna Egorova remembered her mother ”kneeling before the icons, as she firstly listed all our names, the names of her children, begging God for health and wisdom for us, and then at the end of each prayer repeating: ‘God save them from slander!’” She didn’t understand that word ‘slander’ in her childhood, Egorova wrote, but after her brother was sent away as An Enemy of the People, “it was exposed before me in all its terrible nakedness.”
I was reminded of Egorova’s story by a recent article by Richard Rahn titled The high cost of slander:
Endless cruelties have been and continue to be committed on the basis of group slander. The communists and socialists imprisoned and slaughtered many of their merchant and property-owning citizens on the basis of a gross slander, not to mention what the Nazis did to the Jews. In America, blacks, gays, many ethnic groups and women were first stereotyped, then slandered, and then discriminated against. But the fashion of which groups of individuals can be slandered has changed to such people as Wall Street bankers; pharmaceutical, coal and oil company executives; conservative scholars; those who question the global warming establishment; and white males, among others.
The general rule that one is innocent until proven guilty goes back at least to ancient Roman law: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat — “Burden of proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies.” Over the centuries, not only individuals, but whole classes of people, have been denied this basic human right. The oppressors normally begin by slandering a group, and then use the slander to discriminate and ultimately persecute — and, unfortunately, this persists even in America.
If one listens to Bernie Sanders’ rants, somehow all of those who work on Wall Street are far greedier than most other Americans. It is also obvious that he has no idea of what the functions of financial markets are, nor the disaster that would occur without them. Yes, there are plenty of unethical and incompetent people on Wall Street, as there are in Washington and in most other places in America. That does not justify indicting all who work in a particular industry and a particular place. The ignorant attacks on the financial industry have resulted in increasingly costly and destructive regulation, which increases the risk in the financial system rather than diminishing it.
RTWT. Indeed, much political writing and speech these days is reminiscent of the two-minute hate sessions which were a feature of the totalitarian society portrayed in Orwell’s 1984. Any day on Facebook, one can see the sharing and sometimes the origination of extreme and even vile assertions about individuals and whole groups…usually people and groups that are Designated Targets, similarly to Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984.
A biting critique of recent public arguments by liberal academics, by Seth Barrett Tillman:
There is a final possibility. Apparently, some non-originalists believe they are part of a victimized, long-suffering, powerless, discrete, insular intellectual minority. As Professor Jack Balkin, a prominent commentator (but not one of the Alliance-for-Justice-350), wrote:
Accepting that opposition as the proper frame for debate just locks liberals into a clever rhetorical strategy created by movement conservatives in the 1980s, who wanted to put themselves on the side of the American constitutional tradition, and liberals on the outside looking in. [here] [here] (emphasis added)
The notion that in order for liberals to believe in a living Constitution they have to reject originalism in all of its forms is the biggest canard ever foisted on them. [here] [here] (emphasis added)
In this intellectual milieu, signing a letter you do not really believe is not hypocrisy: it is virtue. Thus, signing such a letter is the natural and justified response of victims to an unfair world imposed upon them by malevolent intellectual forces which have deformed reasoned, public debate. That’s not hypocrisy: that’s something else entirely. I am going to refrain from characterizing that reason, but I expect the public will take the hint.
Is it any wonder that millions of Americans vote for Trump?
Worth reading in its entirety.
From Seth Barrett Tillman’s new post about western cultural confidence (and the lack thereof):
Our administrative unit’s official motto is: Health, Fairness, Environment, Culture. So it should not surprise you that we chose you among other applicants seeking to immigrate to our (now your) prefecture because you have (as far as we can discover) no strongly held views, on anything. We believe that (former) outsiders like you from distant regions add to our ever-growing cultural diversity, but we seek to do so in a way that guarantees our social cohesion.
In the event that you violate a minor domestic regulation (i.e., under Schedule 1 and its annex) and you are under 18, you will be assigned community service and ordered to apologize to any victims of your wrongdoing (should they remain alive). If you violate a major domestic regulation (i.e., under Schedule 2 and its annex) and you are over 18, you will be sent down for correction, but we cannot send you back to your former prefecture, as it is in political disarray and your human rights may be threatened by your return there. Your statutory right to residence vests after 60 days; your statutory right to vote in municipal elections vests after 6 months; your statutory right to vote in prefecture-wide elections and for an inter-prefecture delegate vests after 1 year…
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on April 7th, 2016 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
What Alexis de Tocqueville observed over 150 years ago remains true today—states are laboratories of ideas. It’s here on the state level where ideas are created, fought over, tested, implemented, and either succeed or fail. When it comes to conservative ideas in the states, we are winning.While presidential candidates were insulting each other’s appendages, West Virginia became the 26th Right to Work state. While the FBI was investigating candidates, North Carolina passed major tax cuts. While pundits cried that both major parties had lost their way, Missouri passed paycheck protection. Conservatism is winning in the states. Don’t let it go unnoticed..There is no state that highlights conservative victories better than Wisconsin. Just five years ago Wisconsin turned a billion-dollar deficit into a multi million-dollar surplus. Act 10 may have grabbed headlines across the country as protestors occupied the capitol for months, but the story did not end there..Over the past year conservatives have passed reforms less controversial than Act 10 but just as important to taxpayers across the state. Last year they passed Right to Work to guarantee workers the freedom to join a union or not. Wisconsin reformed the prevailing wage law, which will save our local communities millions of dollars on the cost of building new schools and roads. Wisconsin reformed the marriage penalty to reduce taxes on working families, froze tuition at the UW for the forth straight year, and passed occupational licensure reform that gives a hand up to some of the hardest working Wisconsinites.
A newly-released Gallup survey indicates that a solid majority of students at America’s colleges and universities supports free speech on campus. However, a strong contingent of students wants to limit “hate speech” and speech that intentionally offend people based on some aspect of their identities.
A full and extensive report about the poll, which Gallup conducted for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, shows that 78 percent of U.S. college students believe their campuses should be serious, grownup places where students experience all manner of speech and myriad different viewpoints.
Other findings within the study showed that students with Republican and independent political leanings were far more tolerates than their Democratic counterparts. It also found that a majority of students (54 percent) believed their professors and administrators were also stifling free speech on campus.
Those are hopeful signs. The most important changes begin at the grassroots level. To my mind, the single most tasks facing the American people are reigning in the vast behemoth that is the federal government and reforming public education. That the majority of college students are not yet ready to toss out the Bill of Rights is a positive indicator. But schools are increasingly petri dishes for incubating leftist and far leftist ideologues, and the indoctrination seems to become more radical as time goes by. That needs to stop. Yesterday.
Meanwhile, in nuclear power development, a long discussed idea of deploying factory built and tested small reactors seems to be capturing imaginations around the world again. The Chinese had plans several years ago to build SMRs from Westinghouse, but I have no idea how that is progressing, if at all. The UK now seems interested as well. I’m interested in seeing how well this technology works out but it seems completely straightforward and doable to me. The US Navy has been using small nuclear reactors safely and effectively for more that 50 years now. And as reactors become less custom one-off designs and more of a standard product, safety and reliability should increase and cost should come down. For reactors to ever be fully accepted by the public, however, the designs must fail-safe. Which is to say that the nature of the process is one where if there is a facility failure, the physics of the reaction process simply stop.
There will be a competition to identify the best value design of mini reactors – called small modular reactors (SMRs) – and paving the way “towards building one of the world’s first SMRs in the UK in the 2020s”. There is no shortage of contenders, with companies from the US to China and Poland all wooing the UK with their proposals.
With a crucial UN climate change summit in Paris imminent, the question of how to keep the lights on affordably, while cutting emissions, is pressing.
SMRs aim to capture the advantages of nuclear power – always-on, low-carbon energy – while avoiding the problems, principally the vast cost and time taken to build huge plants. Current plants, such as the planned French-Chinese Hinkley Point project in Somerset, have to be built on-site, a task likened to “building a cathedral within a cathedral”.
Remember the standard:
“If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own.”
Changes, by David Bowie:
And a remake by Lewis and Clarke:
I saw this one while perusing Jeff Carter’s excellent blog, Points and Figures, which you should take a look at every day. It particularly struck me today as I am going through some big changes in my life right now. Some good, some bad, but in the end, as my daughter keeps telling me, “everything will be just fine”.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on April 6th, 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
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.
Claire Berlinski is very pleased with the response to the GoFundMe page in support of her new book ($9700 as of this writing) as well as the strong interest in the crowdfunding investment possibility.
A conversation between Claire and her brother Mischa suggests some grounds for cautious optimism about the future of this country:
Posted by Lexington Green on April 6th, 2016 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Merle Haggard is dead.
God rest his soul.
The last and greatest of the musical titans finally falls.
Possibly the greatest of them all, in our national history, at capturing in music the hard, Jacksonian core of America.
Merle Haggard riding his bicycle as a kid, too young to get in, hanging around by the back door, to hear Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, part of a continuity that stretches back to the peopling of the American backcountry, and beyond that to the bloody world of the English border, and poor and proud people who made their own music.
Merle lived hard. Nine lives at least.
If you are not yet a Merle Haggard fan, get that way.
Merle Haggard, we will never forget you.
We will never stop loving your music.
Below is a list of the books, ebooks, music and videos that Chicago Boyz readers viewed and/or ordered in March 2016 via Amazon links on this blog. (A cumulative list of Chicago Boyz readers’ Amazon purchases is here.)
Your book and non-book Amazon purchases help to support this blog via the Amazon Associates program. Chicago Boyz earns a percentage on all of your Amazon purchases as long as you get to the Amazon site by clicking on Amazon links on this blog (including the Amazon banner in the blog header, the link under the Amazon banner, and even Amazon links on Chicago Boyz for products other than the ones that you want to buy).