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    Welcome to Section 22 Week’s Sixth & Concluding Post

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 24th February 2021 (All posts by )

    Welcome to the sixth and final Chicagoboyz post (Feb 24, 2021) in the “Section 22 Week” count down to the 24 Feb 2021 premiere of the Bilge Pumps podcast with the Section 22 Special Interest Group e-mail list. Today’s post will include slides 72 through 82 of 82 of the Section 22 Powerpoint information packet.
    .
    These “back up slides” slides cover Section 22’s interactions with the US Navy over IFF and the utter disaster of the capture of the submarine USS Darter’s technical library by the Imperial Japanese Navy in October 1944.
    .
    You won’t find that disaster in any US Navy institutional history, classified or unclassified, on what the US Navy lost that day.  That is not how institutional histories work.  Institutional histories are all about glorifying the institution and its leaders while naming scapegoats and throwing shade at other institutions, with the classified histories detailing the “shade.”  That is why you have to go to the declassified US Army ULTRA history “SRH-254 THE JAPANESE INTELLIGENCE SYSTEM MIS/WDGS 4 September 1945”, to find any details on the  Japanese haul of intelligence from the grounded US Navy submarine USS Darter.
    .

        Page 53 (62)

       “One of the most important discoveries of captured documents was made
    by the Japanese Navy from the U.S. submarine Darter, which ran aground
    west of Palawan on 23 October. The Japanese recovered many documents
        dealing with radar, radio, and communications procedure, as well as
        instruction books, engine blueprints, and various ordnance items.

     

    It is difficult to evaluate the intelligence which the Japanese have
    obtained from documents, but in those cases here it has been possible
        the information has been found to be relatively accurate.

    .

    USS Darter (SS-227) grounded on Bombay Shoal off Palawan on 4th patrol, 24 October 1944

    Figure 1: USS Darter (SS-227) grounded on Bombay Shoal off Palawan, the Philippines on 4th patrol, 24 October 1944. The shell holes from a Japanese destroyer, several US Navy submarines, and a Japanese air attack. This included 55 point-blank hits from the 6-inch deck gun of the Nautilus (SS-168) on 31st October 1944.  Unfortunately, Darter was boarded prior to that shelling by an away team from a Japanese destroyer and the entire unburned contents off her classified  technical library were seized for analysis by Imperial Japanese Naval Intelligence. Visible on the top of the conning tower are the undamaged radar, radio and identification friend or foe antenna’s. Photo credit — Navsource.org

    .

    See my Chicagoboyz post here for a more complete telling of the Darter’s lost classified documents story:

    .

    The Grounding of USS Darter — A Case Study of an Operational Security Disaster
    October 29th, 2017
    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/56192.html

    .

    The Bilgepumps podcast is now posted, see–

    .

    Bilgepumps Episode 38: Section 22 – The Forgotten Electronic Warfare Superstars of WWII and the Historians who are changing that
    FEBRUARY 24TH, 2021

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    Welcome to Section 22 Week, Day 5

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 23rd February 2021 (All posts by )

    Welcome to the fifth Chicagoboyz post (Feb 23, 2021) in the “Section 22 Week” count down to the 24 Feb 2021 Bilge Pumps podcast with the Section 22 Special Interest Group e-mail list. Today’s post will include slides 61 through 72 of 82 of the Section 22 Powerpoint information packet.
    .
    These slides cover Section 22’s part of the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands called “Operation Olympic,” the last RCM flight of WW2 by the successor of Field Unit #6 that ended in tragedy, the “Defenestration”  (being “thrown out the window” of the official historical narrative of Section 22 by the American Joint Chiefs of Staff with the “Seventeen guys on an e-mail list” credits and resource links for further research for naval history academics.
    .
    The 82 slides worth of material being published in “Section 22 Week” are a “picture book highlights reel” of what the between 500 to 1000 men involved in Section 22 radio counter measures operations did between May 1943 and August 1945.  Tomorrow’s concluding post will include the back up slides explaining the role of the Mark III identification in the Pacific war and other elements not central to the Section 22 story but important to the war for the electromagnetic spectrum from March 1944 to August 1945.
    .
    Today’s “extra” involves the dysfunctional intelligence system inside World War II’s Washington DC that lead to Section 22’s “Defenestration.”
    .
    The following are screenshots from SRH-130, MIS Intelligence Processes Relating to Japanese, Science Branch Project No. 2528A, 14 Sept 1945.   This “SRH-130” was the smaller of the two documents with the “SRH-130” cover page at 83 pages vice the 975 of the other.  I’m going to use “Project No. 2528A” to refer to the smaller document and SRH-130 to the larger document.
    .
    First, see the conclusion on how effective the War Department’s G-2 Military Intelligence Division  (MID) electronics section that did “Scientific intelligence”  which was the official D.C. name for the radar intelligence Section 22 provided:
    .
    SRH-130 MIS Scientific Intelligence on Japanese Radar July 1945 - part 2, Tab A , pg 4 of 975.jpg
    Next, this is the recommendations section in “Project No. 2528A” where they list all the things they did wrong in WW2:
    .
    SRH-130 -- Everything the MID G-2 Science Branch got wrong in WW2.jpg
    .
    And finally this is the floor plan of the MID “Science Branch” from “Project No. 2528A” on VJ-Day to give you an idea of the scale of effort put into radar intelligence work at the War Department G-2 compared to Section 22 in Brisbane, Tacloban and Manila.
    .
    SRH-130 -- Science Branch maximum effort foot print VJ-Day.jpg
    The defenestration of Section 22 from the public eye in the immediate post-war makes a great deal of sense, given the level of effort demonstrated by that office plan .  Section 22’s offices in May 1943 Brisbane were larger than the electronics section you see above.
    .
    The War Department was facing Congressional accountability hearings & investigative reports for the Pearl Harbor intelligence failure.  That level of “Scientific Intelligence” performance about radar for the duration of WW2 cannot be in anyway excused, if the story of Section 22 in the SWPA was generally known.  There were assets to cover,  budgets to shield, and careers to protect.  So “out the window” of public acclaim and deep, deep, into the unaccountable hidey hole of decades long classification Section 22 went.
    .

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, USA, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Helter Skelter Redux?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 22nd February 2021 (All posts by )

    The stated aim of that murderous freak Charlie Manson and his deranged family of dropouts and druggies in committing the brutal slaughter of seven people in 1969 was to incite a race war. The murderers deliberately left bloody graffiti at the murder scenes, attempting to frame the Black Panthers – yet another set of murderous and equally racist freaks active in that period. In Manson’s twisted vision, the Tate-LaBianca murders would set off a brutal race war; black against white, in which whites would be enthusiastically genocided. During this mayhem Manson and his followers would hide out in a vast underground city. They would then emerge to take command over what remained of society. Manson was a particularly noxious racist, unsavory qualities which were veiled by the last putrid remnants of the hippie commune culture, which let his cult family fly under the social radar as it existed in the afterglow of the so-called “Summer of Love” in the formerly golden state of California. (Jim Jones was another one of those super-organized racist-cult freaks of the era, whose’ commune was slightly longer-lasting and successful, until suddenly it wasn’t. Yeah, a supposedly race-prejudice-free socialist commune, with a white leadership cadre and mostly dead black bodies when it all came crashing down some years later.) Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Crony Capitalism, History, Human Behavior, Just Unbelievable, Leftism, Urban Issues, USA | 31 Comments »

    Welcome to “Section 22 Week,” Day Three

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 21st February 2021 (All posts by )

    Welcome to the third post in the “Section 22 Week” count down to the Bilge Pumps podcast with the Section 22 Special Interest Group e-mail list.  By way of background, the Section 22 ‘SIG’ started in March 2015 with myself as list administrator and later as the groups cloud drive guru. The list accomplished it’s goal of mapping the Australian, New Zealand and American archives for Section 22 materials in early 2020 with the publication of Craig Bellamy’s doctoral thesis.

    Since early 2020 my goal for the list has been to get this material wider visibility in the WW2 history community.  By posting Section 22 materials from that thesis, and other list research, consistently on Twitter, I earned the list an invitation to the Bilge Pumps naval affairs podcast on the CIMSEC web site.  That podcast is due to go up on their site 24 Feb 2021.

    Today’s post will include slides 30 through 48 of 82 of the Section 22 information packet.  This will include a spotlight on Section 22’s third Assistant Director, Cmdr. J.B. Jolley, USN reserve.

    Cmdr. J. B. Jolley US Navy Reserve, Asst Director Section 22

    Cmdr. J. B. Jolley US Navy Reserve, Assistant Director Section 22

    Commander J.B. Jolley USNR was with Section 22 early – at least from Oct 1943 from documents Craig Bellamy found in the Australian national archives.   Current Statement #48 dated 24 October 1943 states that USN submarines (unnamed, darn it!)  were being fitted with radar intercept receivers at that time.   Cmdr. Jolley then ran Section 22 for a short time before and during the Leyte campaign (from about 4 September 1944 until at least the 10 Nov 1944) until his health failed.  Yet that time, Section 22’s efforts under his leadership made its biggest contributions of WW2 and Jolley demonstrated a level of moral courage in his leadership that was unmatched in the Pacific War.

    Yet, despite much research, our list has never found Cmdr Jolley’s first and middle names to go with his initials.  This anonymity was part of the price Jolley paid for his moral courage as a leader, for he crossed Admiral Ernest King on the issue of Japanese radar tracking US ships and planes through their Mark III identification friend or foe (IFF) systems.

    See Jolley’s IFF procedure at this link — ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/r at paragraph 11. IFF PROCEDURE sub-paragraph f. which is named in slide 30 below. 

    Adm. Turner, CENPAC’s amphibious forces commander, did not include anything like it in his Iwo Jima or Okinawa attack plans.  And he knew far better…but did not want to draw Adm. King’s attentions.

    To understand the context here, you have to know that electronic IFF was the US Navy’s technological turf in WW2. The U.S. Navy had created an IFF system before WW2, but the UK’s Mark III IFF was chosen for the sake of Allied commonality. And with radar centralized under Adm. King, IFF was part of his personal fief. King’s actions in the “Great South Pacific IFF Visitation” in Jan – Mar 1944 versus Section 22 made the combat failure of the Mark III IFF a failure in the same class as the Mark 14 torpedo and his own very personal tar baby.

    Adm. King’s CIC magazine did not admit to what Jolley wrote into the Sept 1944 7th Fleet Leyte invasions until the March 1945 issue.  Far too late for the intimidated Adm. Turner to add Cmdr. Jolley’s technique into the Okinawa invasion plans.

    The combat failure of the Mark III IFF had to be made to go away…and it did…but that story is for coming “Section 22 Week” posts and slides.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, USA, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    The Computer Age Turns 75

    Posted by David Foster on 21st February 2021 (All posts by )

    In February 1946, the first general purpose electronic computer…the ENIAC…was introduced to the public.  Nothing like ENIAC had been seen before, and the unveiling of the computer, a room-filling machine with lots of flashing lights and switches–made quite an impact.

    ENIAC (the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was created primarily to help with the trajectory-calculation problems for artillery shells and bombs, a problem that was requiring increasing numbers of people for manual computations.  John Mauchly, a physics professor attending a summer session at the University of Pennsylvania, and J Presper Eckert, a 24-year-old grad student, proposed the machine after observing the work of the women (including Mauchly’s wife Mary) who had been hired to assist the Army with these calculations. The proposal made its way to the Army’s liason with Penn,  and that officer, Lieutenant Herman Goldstine,  took up the project’s cause.  (Goldstine apparently heard about the proposal not via formal university channels but via a mutual friend, which is an interesting point in our present era of remote work.)  Electronics had not previously been used for digital computing, and a lot of authorities thought an electromechanical machine would be a better and safer bet.

    Despite the naysayers (including RCA, actually which refused to bid on the machine), ENIAC did work, and the payoff was in speed.  This was on display in the introductory demonstration, which was well-orchestrated from a PR standpoint.  Attendees could watch the numbers changing as the flight of a simulated shell proceeded from firing to impact, which took about 20 seconds…a little faster than the actual flight of the real, physical shell itself.  Inevitably, the ENIAC was dubbed a ‘giant brain’ in some of the media coverage…well, the “giant” part was certainly true, given the machine’s size and its 30-ton weight.

    In the photo below, Goldstine and Eckert are holding the hardware module required for one single digit of one number.

    The machine’s flexibility allowed it to be used for many applications beyond the trajectory work,  beginning with modeling the proposed design of the detonator for the hydrogen bomb.   Considerable simplification of the equations had to be done to fit within ENIAC’s capacity; nevertheless, Edward Teller believed the results showed that his proposed design would work. In an early example of a disagreement about the validity of model results, the Los Alamos mathematician Stan Ulam thought otherwise.  (It turned out that Ulam was right…a modified triggering approach had to be developed before working hydrogen bombs could be built.)  There were many other ENIAC applications, including the first experiments in computerized weather forecasting, which I’ll touch on later in this post.

    Programming ENIAC was quite different from modern programming.  There was no such thing as a programming language or instruction set.  Instead, pluggable cable connections, combined with switch settings, controlled the interaction among ENIAC’s 20 ‘accumulators’ (each of which could store a 10-digit number and perform addition & subtraction on that number) and its multiply and divide/square-root units.  With clever programming it was possible to make several of the units operate in parallel. The machine could perform conditional branching and looping…all-electronic, as opposed to earlier electromechanical machines in which a literal “loop” was established by glueing together the ends of a punched paper tape.   ENIAC also had several ‘function tables’, in which arrays of rotary switches were set to transform one quantity into another quantity in a specified way…in the trajectory application, the relationship between a shell’s velocity and its air drag.

    The original ‘programmers’…although the word was not then in use…were 6 women selected from among the group of human trajectory calculators. Jean Jennings Bartik mentioned in her autobiography that when she was interviewed for the job, the interviewer (Goldstine) asked her what she thought of electricity.  She said she’d taken physics and knew Ohm’s Law; Goldstine said he didn’t care about that; what he wanted to know was whether she was scared of it!  There were serious voltages behind the panels and running through the pluggable cables.

    “The ENIAC was a son of a bitch to program,” Jean Bartik later remarked.  Although the equations that needed to be solved were defined by physicists and mathematicians, the programmers had to figure out how to transform those equations into machine sequences of operations, switch settings, and cable connections.  In addition to the logical work, the programmers had also to physically do the cabling and switch-setting and to debug the inevitable problems…for the latter task, ENIAC conveniently had a hand-held remote control, which the programmer could use to operate the machine as she walked among its units.

    Notoriously, none of the programmers were introduced at the dinner event or were invited to the celebration dinner afterwards.  This was certainly due in large part to their being female, but part of it was probably also that programming was not then recognized as an actual professional field on a level with mathematics or electrical engineering; indeed, the activity didn’t even yet have a name.  (It is rather remarkable, though, that in an ENIAC retrospective in 1986…by which time the complexity and importance of programming were well understood…The New York Times referred only to “a crew of workers” setting dials and switches.)

    The original programming method for ENIAC put some constraints on the complexity of problems that it could be handled and also tied up the machine for hours or days while the cable-plugging and switch-setting for a new problem was done. The idea of stored programming had emerged (I’ll discuss later the question of who the originator was)…the idea was that a machine could be commanded by instructions stored in a memory just like data; no cable-swapping necessary. It was realized that ENIAC could be transformed into a stored-program machine  with the function tables…those arrays of rotary switches…used to store the instructions for a specific problem. The cabling had to be done only once, to set the machine up for interpreting  a particular vocabulary of instructions.  This change gave ENIAC a lot more program capacity and made it far easier to program; it did sacrifice some of the speed.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Big Government, Biography, Book Notes, History, Science, Tech, War and Peace | 20 Comments »

    Welcome to “Section 22 Week” on Chicagoboyz, Day One of Six

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 19th February 2021 (All posts by )

    General Headquarters, South West Pacific Area, Section 22 was a secret radar intelligence organization established under General Douglas MacArthur in World War II.  This posts is the first in a series of six that will include the entire 82 slide information packet that I sent to the CIMSEC Bilge Pumps pod cast which was recorded this morning (Feb 19, 20201) and will “air” Feb 24, 2021

    Since March 2015 I have been administering an international e-mail list being named “The Section 22 Special Interest Group” with my role being both administrator and cloud drive guru.  This link was my announcement on Twitter of the list completing it’s 5-year mission in mapping the multi-continent archival history of General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area, Section 22:
    Section 22 Field Units Map, 7 Oct 1944 (Alwyn Lloyd).jpg

    Section 22 Field Units Map, 7 Oct 1944 (via Alwyn Lloyd)

    And especially this PhD Thesis by Craig Bellamy:

    The beginnings of the secret Australian radar countermeasures unit during the Pacific War Feb 2020
    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) – CDU

     This is my “2-minute elevator speech” thumb nail of Section 22’s historical role in WW2 in the Pacific theater versus Japan that I sent to the Bilge Pumps pod cast crew.

    THE BIRTH, LIFE & DEATH OF MACARTHUR’S SECTION 22 RADAR HUNTERS
    In the aftermath of the “Channel Dash” or Unternehmen Zerberus (Operation Cerberus) in February 1942, the Royal Australian Navy decided after a series of meetings that it needed a radio/radar countermeasures (the modern term of art is “electronic warfare”) section to prevent the Japanese from doing to them what the Germans did to the UK Royal Navy when it snuck the fast battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen through the English Channel with the assistance of radio and radar jamming.
    (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Dash)

    This RCM section was based in Sydney and administered from the RAN Office in Melbourne. It’s commander was Lt. Cdr. Joel Mace, RANVR(sp)  (RANVR decodes as – “Royal Australian Navy Voluntary Reserve” special)
    There was then a decision made — either supported or stage managed by Mace, according to one of the scholars on the E-mail list I administer — to move the organization to Brisbane under the control of the USN’s 7th Fleet in or before May 1943.

    Bellemy - Joel Mace Service photo.jpg

    Then in June 1943 this “Radio and Radar Countermeasures Division” was taken over by MacArthur’s South West Pacific Area General Headquarters (SWPA GHQ) under the direct command of General Spencer Akins, MacArthur’s Chief Signals officer and one of the “Bataan Gang.”   A group of trusted American officers who were at Bataan with MacArthur.

    This informal decision was ratified in GHQ Operations Instructions No. 36 issued by MacArthur on 5 July 1943 and in November the group was christened “Section 22” based on it’s officer number in a Brisbane office building.

    Section 22 encompassed and organized disparate RCM elements in the US Army, US Fifth Air Force, US 7th Fleet, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army into a coherent whole to deal with the Japanese deployment of radar in the Rabaul and South Pacific areas in 1942-1943.

    The organization reached its full maturity in the Summer of 1944 (see photo above) after it absorbed the South Pacific theater’s RCM organizations, primarily in the 13th Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Royal New Zealand Navy.  South Pacific Theater having become a rear area by that time.

    Section 22 supported General MacArthur’s drive to the Philippines and had a role in mapping Japanese radar networks throughout New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, South China, Formosa and the Ryukyus (including Okinawa) and the Japanese home islands (See May 1943 Rabaul map below).

    Bellamy -- Aussie RCM Map May 1934.jpg

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, National Security, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Degrees of Toxicity

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 6th February 2021 (All posts by )

    The Daughter Unit clued me in this week to a humongous ruckus which brewed among Air Force contributors to military-oriented discussion boards on Reddit – a ruckus which involves the current Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force – which for the laymen audience, means the very tippy-top enlisted, that singular and exemplary senior NCO who supposedly sits at the right hand of the highest military commanders in the land, to keep them appraised of the interests of the enlisted men and women. The Daughter Unit keeps track of this military ‘gen on a more regular basis than I do, as my two-decades long service was a good while ago, and I walked away from it all and constructed another life and long-term interests in writing, book-blogging and publishing. I will confess to some sentimental feelings for my service, as it provided me with a lot of fun, foreign travel, a decent paycheck and benefits (to include the pension and retirement benefits), a chance to hang out with some amazing people (as well as a soupcon of psychos, amiable freaks and the severely mal-adjusted), and a kind of mental grounding, even a rough sympathy when it comes to people who work for a living and get their hands dirty and their fingernails broken. But enough about me, and my not-particularly-rewarding career as an enlisted minion, toiling away in the bowels of the mighty military public affairs machine some two- or three-decades past.

    The office of the Chief Master Sergeant of any service is a huge thing, in all the military forces: the name of the current Chief-Master-Whatever is one of the things military recruits to whatever branch are expected to know and recite on demand when in Basic Training. General officers there are, in legions, and the multi-stars roost en masse like grackles in the highest levels of command – but there is only one Chief Enlisted, for all four (five counting the Coast Guard) military services. This one – CMSAF JoAnne Bass – is the first female to take up that exalted office for any of the services. I wish her the best luck in the world. When I began serving, there weren’t but a bare half-dozen of female senior enlisteds in the Air Force, and a fair number of the junior enlisted that I served with were the first or second females in certain traditionally male specialties which had just been opened to females. Unfortunately, as things are shaping up in the first months of her tour of duty, Chief Bass had better buckle in, as it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy flight. She put her foot wrong, straight off the bat, when a young NCO (innocently, or perhaps not so innocently) inquired on the CMSAF’s FB page as to how her last name was pronounced – like the fish or the musical instrument?    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Current Events, History, Human Behavior, Military Affairs, National Security, Personal Narrative, Predictions, Trump, War and Peace | 30 Comments »

    Narrowing Horizons

    Posted by David Foster on 31st January 2021 (All posts by )

    William Shirer, on his experiences in Germany during the early Nazi era:

    I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state. Though unlike most Germans I had daily access to foreign newspapers, especially those of London, Paris and Zurich, which arrived the day after publication, and though I listened regularly to the BBC and other foreign broadcasts, my job necessitated the spending of many hours a day in combing the German press, checking the German radio, conferring with Nazi officials and going to party meetings. It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one’s inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression on one’s mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime’s calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a café, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for the truth, said they were.

    Even though Shirer had plenty of access to outside news and information sources, and was well aware of Nazi lies, he still found it difficult to escape psychologically from the effects of the stiflingly-constrained information environment.

    Many of us have wondered how intelligent people–some of whom we may know personally–can fall so completely under the spell of the Democrat worldview, as it exists in its present ‘woke’ state…a worldview which is replete with ‘the most outlandish assertions,’ to use Shirer’s phrase.  But consider: if one gets one’s news from CNN, MSNBC, and even the traditional networks, and from newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times and their imitators…and one’s entertainment from mainstream movies and musical groups…and one works for a company, university, or ‘nonprofit’…then one is living within a highly uniform information and opinion environment. Yes, you might be exposed to the occasional dissident opinion on social media or directly from friends and acquaintances, but you will develop ‘antibodies’, inculcated by the approved sources, which lead you to dismiss such opinions as conspiracy theories, brainwashing by Trump, or something similar.

    It is, of course, much easier to find dissenting voices in 2021 America than it was in the time and place of which Shirer wrote.  (Shirer does say that ‘in those days, in the Thirties, a German listener could still tune his dial to a score of foreign radio stations’ without taking much risk…but most didn’t, evidently, or chose to disbelieve what they heard from outside sources.)

    The psychological drive to conform reinforces the controlled information environment and discourages explorations outside of it.  In my post Oxytocin and Conformity, I cited some research on how the ‘cuddling and belonging’ hormone oxytocin affects public and private conformity, and recalled one of the episodes of the TV series The World at War in which a German man spoke about the temptation to conform.  He had been strongly anti-Nazi, but admitted that he had felt a strong emotional pull to join the rallies and be a part of the the movement.  (He said it much more eloquently than the foregoing sentence would suggest)  I also cited a blog post whose author, after critiquing the craziness of the extreme “progressives,”  went on to say:

    I’m going to be very real with you for a moment, and take off my hat has a blogger, an author, and whatever else I may be, and just speak to you as a man.

    This could have been me.

    Does that surprise you? There was a time I skirted so close to falling under this spell, it would shock you. I felt the guilt, the social pressure, the desire for conformity. Despite the terrible weight such ideology carries on the mind, it is absurdly easy to fall into it. Every day we are assaulted by the agitprop. It is so easy to just say “yes, it’s all my fault, I will submit and obey.”

    It will bring momentary relief, because you will no longer have to fight a narrative that is bombarded upon you 24 hours a day. That mental effort is, itself, rather exhausting on the mind. But if you accept the chains, that is a far greater weight, one that will destroy you. The chains are seductive. They call, because of the enormous weight of social power behind them.

    The pressure is both great and subtle. Imagine a conversation about the weather, innocent enough on its own. A friend might say “wow, that global warming sure is kicking in today!” You’ve a few choices here. You can challenge him, but the immediate counter is likely to be something like “well, 99% of scientists agree, sooooo….” The implication, of course, is that you are stupid for disagreeing with 99% of scientists (whether or not there is any truth to that claim, either). You could remain silent because it’s easier. Or you could just give in, regardless of the truth of the matter, because it’s easiest. Meanwhile, if you counter your friend successfully, you may be down a friend by the end of the night.

    So whether or not a lot of folks believe this thing, soon consensus is reached, as much to peer pressure as anything else. Then it is, further, easier to agree on welfare, tax policy, affirmative action, black lives matter, social justice, etc… Each one has a superficial rhetorical argument which sounds nice, and which has enormous media programming and social pressure behind it.

    A thousand such chats happen every day, both in the real world, and the social media world. The sum total of which is designed to move you, via peer pressure and Weaponized Empathy, toward self-hatred, and intense personal guilt for things which you neither did, nor were capable of preventing.

    Soon a man might find himself agreeing with lunatic propositions that all Republicans are literal Nazis, and Donald Trump is worse than Hitler because… well, nobody really knows the reasons.

    Submission is always the easier short-term choice. Long-term, however, it just destroys a man’s soul.

    I am not asserting that the present-day Democrat belief system is identical to Naziism (although there are indeed some disturbing similarities as well as differences), or that the control of the information environment is as tight as what existed in mid-1930s Germany…but still, when you step back and look at all the ways in which a consistent worldview is being promulgated and views from outside that worldview are being suppressed, then the information horizons–especially for those people who don’t have a particularly strong need to think for themselves or willingness to challenge accepted beliefs–are narrowing at a pretty frightening rate.

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Science, Society, USA | 52 Comments »

    The Past as a Foreign Country

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 26th January 2021 (All posts by )

    I’ve just finished and released into the wild a WWII novel, My Dear Cousin, for which the concept came to me in a dream last July. Since the current year-long plus covidiocy demolished nearly every fall market and holiday event which would otherwise have taken up my time, I set to work and finished it in six months.  As much as is possible, I did my research – and the internet makes the kind of information I needed available at my fingertips: a detailed 1930s map of Singapore, a hand-written diary of a woman who escaped Malaya in early 1942, a breakdown of what constituted the tents and facilities for a frontline Army hospital in 1944, and the newspaper archives of the wartime Singapore Straits Times and Brisbane Courier Mail. All that and more went into an account of the war, as seen through the lives of two cousins, on opposite sides of the world.  Accuracy is what I strive for – and most times, I think I come very close. The rest of this entry is what I felt obliged to include in the notes at the back of the book.

    In the interests of fidelity to history and racial attitudes of the 1940s with regard to the Japanese and to a lesser extent, the Germans, the current social climate requires me to add the following caveat; yes, the general attitudes of American and Australians towards the Japanese were by current standards, viciously and unrepentantly racist. However, this book is, as nearly as I can make it, written with an eye to fidelity to the historical record. I will not cut and tailor my fictional cloth in accordance with current fashion. ‘Presentism’, wherein the accepted fashionable attitudes and conventional opinions of the current day are retrofitted, however unsuited and historically unlikely, onto those characters living in past decades and centuries, is a grim transgression against the art of bringing a past era into life, warts and all. Writing a so-called historical novel merely by placing 21st century characters in different costumes and strange technological shortcomings is a disservice to the past, and a hampering to complete understanding. It’s the past – they did things differently, back then. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Miscellaneous, War and Peace | 68 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading, Viewing, and Listening

    Posted by David Foster on 25th January 2021 (All posts by )

    Smiling Victorians…a photo essay

    A tour of the Atlanta Hartsfield air traffic control tower

    Speaking of ATC…a controller at Boston Center and a Delta pilot on her frequency discover that her grandfather was the man who hired him, back in 1981.

    The transistor:  a documentary from 1954.

    Tonight being Burns Night, here’s a song I like from Robert Burns...musical setting by Ludwig Beethoven, oddly enough.  Some 19th-century musical entrepreneurship was involved in the Burns-Beethoven connection. Lyrics, including modern-English translation, here.

    Think I’ll pass on the kilt and the haggis, though.

    Posted in Aviation, History, Music, Photos, Poetry, Tech, Transportation | 14 Comments »

    The Twilight Zone

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 5th January 2021 (All posts by )

    Well, it appears that the mullahcracy in Iran is still steamed over the death of their military mastermind Quassam Soleimani, the chief of so-called Quds Force – sort of the Iranian SS, I have always thought. On the one-year anniversary of that momentous drone-zap (a consummation quite overdue in my opinion) the president of Iran directly threatened the life of President Trump. Talk is cheap, and Iranian threats of dire revenge are the equivalent of those teeny and nearly worthless Spanish 1-peseta coins, which were struck from aluminum in the early 1990s, about the size of a child’s fingernail and looked like nothing so much as doll money. But still … the militant Muslims of Iran are certainly dedicated and determined sufficiently to have racked up any number of lesser-known and less-protected hits, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was something more than just tough talk for the benefit of their domestic audience and fans of Islamic mayhem in other countries. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Current Events, History, International Affairs, Iran, Media, Middle East, Trump | 81 Comments »

    Streaming Note: What Killed Michael Brown?

    Posted by Ginny on 31st December 2020 (All posts by )

    We’re pretty cheap, so it took a celebratory night (46 years of fairly amiable tolerance of one another) to splurge on Prime’s “stream for pay” documentary: Shelby Steele’s What Killed Michael Brown?. We’d seen reviews* that sounded interesting. Steele’s voice and perspective define the film; it is directed by his son, Eli. It is polished, its music, use of historical footage smooth.

    He interviews citizens from Ferguson, he compiles a brief but clear description of that fatal afternoon, uses clips of George Stephanopoulos’ interview of Darren Wilson. He notes Holder’s arrival in Ferguson after the shooting, the response of residents to his statements. A repeated presence is Al Sharpton, who seems to represent those who force incidents into patterns presented as “poetic truth” – prejudged, premade narratives that ignore the shifts in culture (and reality) over a hundred years. While the central focus is the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014, it interweaves personal narrative to quietly honor the strength and integrity of his father’s choices. He traces his parents’ lives (we see the Kentucky community in which his father was born in 1900 and from which he joined the great northern migration as an orphaned boy at 14; by emphasizing the house ownership rate in the black communities of his youth and showing houses his parents bought in the forties and fifties in Chicago, he tells us much about a culture and a time, about the incremental nature but powerful force of economic liberty and responsibility). Less of his own life is described, but, born in 1946, he lived through the transition: he came of age in the Great Society era: we hear LBJ, we see the projects when as a young man he worked in St. Louis, and we see them implode.

    But the touchstone for him lies in his parents’ choices: their civil rights activism reflected their values in the forties and fifties as were their hard-won and steady movement toward a secure home. He returns to the self-made man, a concept central to his father’s life as it had been to Frederick Douglass, two generations before. His argument, characteristic of a Hoover scholar, is familiar, if subtle, personal and complex. His father was not helpless, but the Great Society assumed helplessness; that assumption was destructive but accepting it was also a choice and also destructive. Steele seems intent on communicating what he has learned over a long lifetime, wisdom and appreciation that connects his father, his own maturation, and the present to the importance of making one’s self, accepting agency. (* Links of reviews below fold.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Biography, Current Events, History, Video | 7 Comments »

    Christmas 2020

    Posted by David Foster on 24th December 2020 (All posts by )

    Newgrange is an ancient structure in Ireland so constructed that the sun, at the exact time of the winter solstice, shines directly down a long corridor and illuminates the inner chamber. More about Newgrange here and here.

    Grim has an Arthurian passage about the Solstice.

    Don Sensing has thoughts astronomical, historical, and theological about the Star of Bethlehem.

    Vienna Boys Choir, from Maggie’s Farm

    Snowflakes and snow crystals, from Cal Tech. Lots of great photos

    In the bleak midwinter, from King’s College Cambridge

    The first radio broadcast of voice and music took place on Christmas Eve, 1906. (although there is debate about the historical veracity of this story)

    An air traffic control version of  The Night Before Christmas.

    O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, sung by Enya

    Gerard Manley Hopkins

    A Christmas-appropriate poem from Rudyard Kipling

    I was curious as to what the oldest Christmas carol might be:  this Billboard article suggests some possibilities.

    The story of electric Christmas tree lights

    Mona Charen, who is Jewish, wonders  what’s going on with the Christians?

    The 2017 Christmas season, in combination with the Churchill movie Darkest Hour, reminded me something written by the French author Georges Bernanos:  A Tale for Children.

    Here’s a passage I’ve always liked from Thomas Pynchon’s great novel Gravity’s Rainbow.  The setting: it is the grim winter of 1944, just before Christmas. The military situation in Europe is not good, and WWII seems as if it will never end. London is under attack by V-2 rockets and V-1 cruise missiles (as they would be called today.) Roger and Jessica, two of the main characters, are driving in a rural area in England and come upon a church where carols are being sung. They decide to go inside.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Christianity, History, Holidays, Miscellaneous, Music, Poetry | 5 Comments »

    If the Battle of Waterloo was Won on the Playing Fields of Eton…

    Posted by David Foster on 2nd December 2020 (All posts by )

    ….as the Duke of Wellington has been quoted as saying, then what battles are being won and lost at Eton College today?

    See also:

    A petition from some of the boys at Eton in defense of their teacher.

    The video itself, which I have not yet watched.

    Posted in Britain, Education, Feminism, History, Quotations | 28 Comments »

    Hope and Fear

    Posted by David Foster on 15th November 2020 (All posts by )

    I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said “Liberals vote with their hope, conservatives vote with their fear.”  Of course the same car was also decorated with a Biden-Harris sticker.

    I think that the sentiment on the hope/fear bumper sticker was, if not 180 degree wrong, at least 170 degrees wrong.

    Take K-12 education, for example:  Conservatives see hope in a more open system with more options and more competition, providing not only hope for those kids attending the new alternative schools, but also hope for the public schools via the improvement sparked by competition.  Liberals and ‘progressives’, in the current meaning of those terms, seem happy to maintain the current institutional structure, which no serious person can believe will yield meaningful improvement regardless of how many dollars are dumped into it.  Their fear of changing the institutional arrangements that exist dominates any hope for possible improvement.

    Take manufacturing.  Conservatives, or at least the Trump flavor of same, see hope for reinvigoration and growth.  Liberals, generally speaking, do not.  More generally, ‘progressives’ tend to see the entire American economy–and America’s position in the world–in terms of managing the decline.

    Or take free speech.  As repeatedly documented here and elsewhere, there is growing hostility to free speech on the left.  And anti-free-speech views tend to be strongly associated with generalized fear.

    Peter Drucker (I think it was) wrote that before World War I, socialism was largely about hope, afterwards, it was about envy. He was talking about European socialism. In America, I think that the relative amount of hope in the overall “progressive” mix is a lot lower than it was in the FDR era or the JFK era.

    Regarding fear, I’ll note that it is a lot easier to disclaim certain kinds of fear–such as the fear of crime–when living certain neighborhoods (like the high-income area where I saw the bumper sticker) than in others.  Similarly for many other kinds of fear.

     

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, History, Leftism, Society, USA | 15 Comments »

    American Weimar or American Habsburg?

    Posted by David Foster on 3rd November 2020 (All posts by )

    Aaron Sibarium has an interesting article on the Weimarization of America thru the normalization of political violence and intimidation…it is a trend I’ve raised concerns about in the past, for example, here:  The United States of Weimar?  An article by Dominic Green, though, argues that Weimar is less of a threatening precedent for American today than is the Habsburg monarchy of Austria-Hungary:

    The Habsburg monarchy was riven with ethnic division, but:

    Where the Hapsburgs had nationalism, we have ‘identity’. Like the Hapsburgs, we have racialized nationalism within an imperial framework. The result is what English-speakers call ‘Balkanization’. You need only look at the history of the Balkans in the half-century before 1914 to see where our current path leads.

    I was reminded of a quote from historian AJP Taylor:

    The appointment of every school teacher, of every railway porter, of every hospital doctor, of every tax-collector, was a signal for national struggle. Besides, private industry looked to the state for aid from tariffs and subsidies; these, in every country, produce ‘log-rolling,’ and nationalism offered an added lever with which to shift the logs. German industries demanded state aid to preserve their privileged position; Czech industries demanded state aid to redress the inequalities of the past. The first generation of national rivals had been the products of universities and fought for appointment at the highest professional level: their disputes concerned only a few hundred state jobs. The generation which followed them was the result of universal elementary education and fought for the trivial state employment which existed in every village; hence the more popular national conflicts at the turn of the century.

    Taylor also noted that the ethnic conflicts were exacerbated by the government dominance of economic life. “There were no private schools or hospitals, no independent universities; and the state, in its infinite paternalism, performed a variety of services from veterinary surgery to the inspecting of buildings.” The present-day US doesn’t have that level of government dominance, certainly, but the degree to which many nominally-private activities are now government-funded (universities, healthcare)–combined with the extreme politicization of everything from coffee to football–is helping to drive those same behaviors of intergroup squabbling.

    Also from Dominic Green:

    Above all, the typical affluent young American, the sort who in a more stable time might have thrown in his or her lot with the bureaucracy or a management job in the Mittelstand, the corporate heart of the economy, now resembles no literary figure so much as Ulrich, the protagonist of Robert Musil’s 1913 novel The Man Without Qualities.

    Ulrich is a forerunner of our college-educated millennials: morally enfeebled, sexually frustrated, professionally stunted. He has acquired enough sophistication to see through the forms of politics and social life — ‘critical thinking’, as the imposters of our schools call it — but not enough conviction to act in a way that might improve his life by bringing him into authentic contact with ‘reality’, which he knows is somewhere out there but cannot touch.

    I’m reminded of some comments by the deposed German Kaiser and by the writer Goethe, 94 years apart…not sure how directly relevant these points were to the Austria-Hungary of the time, but they are relevant to America today:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Education, Europe, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Leftism, Society, USA | 16 Comments »

    Apropos of nothing, really: The Browder Boys

    Posted by Ginny on 31st October 2020 (All posts by )

    Jay Nordlinger’s National Review article has stuck in my mind – an interesting family history of curious (in both senses) people and how complicated man and his loves and choices are. I know nothing about math and little about American communists, who seemed (and seem) to me quite foreign.

    But the Browders were broad in their abilities: perhaps the effect on of Russia and America, communism and western values, might draw observations, especially if readers are more familiar than I with their lives. Bill Browder “goes around the world campaigning for “Magnitsky acts” — laws in honor of the murdered lawyer” who had represented him, battling Putin who was behind Magnitsky’s persecution and death. His grandfather is probably not a familiar name today, but he represented the Communist Party in America for decades and was famous for what we may (I’m sure my parents who were more his contemporaries would) see as absurd, the concise argument: “Communism is 20th-century Americanism.” The generation between – three sons – were remarkable American mathematicians.

    The complexity of human nature? What we learn from our parents and what we believe and how we rebel? How remarkable talents are handed down and how some families are able to cultivate those talents? How math can deliver real answers and politics become fuzzy as consequences, empirical evidence, is ignored? Oh, well, at least this may entertain as we await Tuesday’s verdict on our culture – perhaps a temporary one but important nonetheless.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Business, Capitalism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, National Security, Political Philosophy, Science | 11 Comments »

    The Princess Who Went Her Own Way (Finale)

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 26th October 2020 (All posts by )

    (Continued from History Friday: as Paul Harvey used to say, This is the rest of the story!)

    The Dowager Tsarina Marie, Olga Kulikovsky, her sister Xenia and her husband and family all traveled to the Crimea, where they lived for a time at the estate near Yalta owned by Xenia’s husband with other members of the Imperial family. While there in the Crimea, Olga gave birth to her first child, a son named Tihon. They all were under house arrest and eventually tried by a revolutionary court and sentenced to death. Quarrels between rival groups of local Bolsheviks and developments in the war – the war with Germany and the internal war between Red and White Russian factions prevented enactment of that sentence and allowed for the escape of the surviving Romanovs from Russia. Olga’s mother and the remainder of the Imperial family, their friends and loyal retainers were evacuated on a British warship. Olga and Colonel Kulikovsky and their baby son did not want to leave Russia, and with the help of a Cossack former Imperial bodyguard, sought safety in the that bodyguard’s home village in the Crimea. They were safe there for a time, as the area was held by the White Russian faction. There, she gave birth to a second son, Guri, but the White faction was already losing control of the territory they held, and at the end of 1919, the Kulikovskys had to leave Russia for good. With the assistance of the Danish consul in Novorossiysk on the Black Sea. Olga’s family traveled to Denmark, by way of a refugee camp in Turkey, and Belgrade in Yugoslavia, where they rejoined the Dowager Tsarina Marie. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, History, Russia | 13 Comments »

    History Friday: The Princess Who Went Her Own Way

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 23rd October 2020 (All posts by )

    (History Friday is back – this is part one, of two.)

    She wasn’t actually a princess, through it is the usual understanding that the sons and daughters of a ruling monarch are princes and princesses. But they did things differently in Russia; up until the Russian Revolution, the legitimate offspring of the Tsar were grand dukes or grand duchesses, born to the purple and far outranking mere princes and princesses, who seem to have been, in the Russian scheme of things, merely mid-ranked nobility.

    This grand duchess was named Olga; the youngest of five children of Tsar Alexander III and his wife, the Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, originally Princess Dagmar, daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark. (Her older sister Alix was married to Albert, Prince of Wales.) Born in June, 1882, the infant Olga was not in the most robust of health. Her father as the Tsar of all Russians, and her mother being a veritable whirlwind when it came to duties social and administrative, Olga and her next-oldest brother Michael were raised day to day by governesses and tutors, as was customary for the upper classes. They had a comfortable, but rather Spartan lifestyle at Gatchina, the country palace of the Romanovs. She and her brother slept on plain cots, ate porridge for breakfast, bathed in cold water, rarely saw other children and had daily lessons – and private time for walks in the nearby woods with their formidable father. Olga excelled at painting and sketching – and in fact, for the remainder of her life, most always had a paintbrush in her hand, and as an adult earned a modest living from her watercolors. (a selection of her watercolors is here) Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Europe, History | 22 Comments »

    When Big Tech Came for the NY POST – “Our 2020 Abbotabad Moment”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 16th October 2020 (All posts by )

    I’m writing this Chicagoboyz piece to clarify the moment we are living in with regards to the Techlords oppression of America’s 1st Amendment constitutional right to free speech on their social media platforms.

    I’m calling it “Our 2020 Abbotabad Moment” (see photo) because, like the SEAL Team 6 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad Pakistan, it was a Moment of Strategic Clarity about the nature of an oppressive & corrupt regime that cannot be unseen.

    In Pakistan’s case, it revealed a nationalist, separatist, tribal, and above all a terrorist-supporting regime rent by murderous religious and ethnic hatreds. One where the one thing all the leadership factions there can agree on is fear of India. Think of a nuclear-armed Somalia in the mountains, but one good enough at faking a government to get military & economic aid from stupid foreigners.

    By way of contrast,  Big Tech’s censorship of  the NY Post, the Trump campaign, Trump’s press spokeswomen, the GOP House Judiciary Committee and others, followed by the open endorsement of the “Free Press” on Twitter of these actions have showed we don’t have a “Free Press.”

    We don’t have a “Press” at all.

    We have OPRESSORS.

    They are the propaganda arm of an unelected & unaccountable elite that hates the American Republic.

    I’d call these people’s disregard for free speech “Unamerican Activities” but, point in fact, they are as American as the Ku Klux Klan.  Or more on-point, the Pinkerton men putting down the United Mine Workers.  Complete with Denver Channel Nine’s hiring of a Leftist activist as a security guard who subsequently murdered a Trump supporter at a protest they covered.

    If this were the movie “The Empire Strikes Back,” we would be at the point of the film where Lando Calrissian picks up the mike and says “Attention. This is Lando Calrissian. The Empire has taken control of the city; I advise everyone to leave before more Imperial troops arrive.

    Unfortunately, there is nowhere to run. The moment of strategic clarity the NY POST’s censorship has brought shows is this is no longer just a “9/11/2001 election.”

    We are on Sun Tzu’s “Desperate Ground” with a choice of acquiescence to enslavement by inches, or a fight for freedom where absolutely nothing is guaranteed, even if you “win.”

    And Sun Tzu advises that, on Desperate Ground…FIGHT.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, History, Miscellaneous, Morality and Philosphy, Politics | 25 Comments »

    Why I Like Ike

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 15th October 2020 (All posts by )

    Why I Like Ike. The Greatest of the Greatest Generation followed by the Worst of the Worst.
    —-

    Dwight D. Eisenhower served during the Great War, lived through the Great Depression, and led the Allies to Victory in WW II. But perhaps Ike’s greatest contribution was his leadership as President of the United States, ensuring the peace and building America’s infrastructure while imposing additional sacrifices on his generation to eliminate the WWII debt burden, the failure to do so after the Great War being the primary cause of the next. His hard won legacy of freedom and democracy has been completely squandered over the last half century by fiscally irresponsible Baby Boom politicians.

    The Clinton Administration cut the deficit every year, averaging only .8% of GDP, the lowest since the Eisenhower Administration, leaving the budget in what was predicted by many at the time to be a permanent surplus. But the deficit during the Obama/Biden Administration averaged 5.9% of GDP, the largest since WW II, increasing the outstanding debt accumulated over the centuries by 70% and now exceeds 100%, the level at the end of WW II. The CBO projects that under existing law, including repeal of the 2017 tax cuts in 2025, that will double again to 200% of GDP over the next generation as the $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities continue coming due. State and local governments face similar unfunded liabilities that they are prevented from borrowing to fulfill, so subsequent federal bailouts as currently demanded will add to these federal totals. This CBO forecast implies declining middle class/middle age after-tax incomes even as debt and deficits balloon.

    The Biden Plan

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, History, Politics, Public Finance, Tradeoffs, USA | 23 Comments »

    The Garden of Lies

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th October 2020 (All posts by )

    Last week I mused on how so many sports and entertainment figures were walking away from being entertaining to at least half the audience. All the money and most of the viewership in China must be just so much more enticing to the suits who produce movies and the front offices for guys who play sports professionally. The bed is made, let them now sleep in it seemed to be the reaction of commenters to that post. Now we’ll watch old movies, foreign movies, or even take up a fascinating new hobby – model railroading, gardening, building replicas of medieval weapons, raising chickens, remodeling the house from stem to stern. That kind of thing.

    Our establishment news media is going down the same road to irrelevancy; probably farther along down that road since they first got that head start. When was that? The first step from being impartial, to at least being seen as impartial; Was it in publicly yielding the victory in the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War to the NVA, against the actual facts on the ground? Or when Woodward and Bernstein took down a president with the behind-the-scenes assistance of a disgruntled and resentful FBI administrator, giving inspiration to a whole generation of college-trained journos who lusted after being in the news spotlight themselves even more than actually relaying ‘just the facts.’ (And perhaps inspiring other resentful bureaucrats in more recent times on how best to slip the knife in, without ever leaving fingerprints; just leak to the nearest sympathetic journo-List.) Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Current Events, History, Leftism, Obama, USA | 16 Comments »

    The Year That Everything Happened

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 21st September 2020 (All posts by )

    Weirdly enough – and this apparently happens to authors at random – I had a dream about the plot of a new book late this past summer and woke up just in time to remember it all. A novel set in WWII, which is at least half a century or more out of my fictional headspace; I like the 19th century. Got all the reference books, the books or art, a grasp of the vocab and the look of the whole 19th century universe and outlook. But – WWII. For me, it is just enough close in time that I knew a lot of people personally involved, from Great-Aunt Nan, who was one of the first-ever women recruited for the WAACs, to any number of high school teachers (some of whom were more forthcoming about their service than others) to the Gentleman With Whom I Kept Company for about a decade, to a neighbor of Mom and Dad’s who had been a prisoner of war in the Far East and fortunate enough to have survived the experience. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, History, Military Affairs | 42 Comments »

    The Giants of Flight 93 – Plus 19 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 11th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Today, 9/11/2020, is the nineteenth anniversary of Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Often forgotten or glossed over as time goes on were the actions of the passengers of Flight 93, whose resistance to Al-Qaeda’s suicide-hijacker team brought the plane down in Shanksville, PA rather than Al-Qaeda’s chosen target, saving the lives of other Americans at the price of their own.

    On the 2018 anniversary of 9/11/2001, President Trump dedicated the National Park Service memorial to their actions that day.  The NPS has since posted a memorial web page with the recordings of the cockpit flight recorder, cellphone calls from the plane, and court trial evidence including crash photos, here:   https://www.nps.gov/flni/learn/historyculture/sources-and-detailed-information.htm

    Yet for all that, I have not seen anything matching what a friend of mine, Tom Holsinger, wrote about 9/11/2001 and the people on Flight 93 — our fellow citizens who rose up and fought Al Qaeda, when all others, our military, our political leaders, our law enforcement, were frozen in surprise — at the strategypage.com web site in October 2002.  I have not read any written commemoration of their act, before or since, as moving as this passage:

    Students of American character should pay close attention to Flight 93. A random sample of American adults was subjected to the highest possible stress and organized themselves in a terribly brief period, without benefit of training or group tradition other than their inherent national consciousness, to foil a well planned and executed terrorist attack. Recordings show the passengers and cabin crew of Flight 93 – ordinary Americans all – exemplified the virtues Americans hold most dear.

     

    Certain death came for them by surprise but they did not panic and instead immediately organized, fought and robbed terror of its victory. They died but were not defeated.

     

    Ordinary Americans confronted by enemies behaved exactly like the citizen-soldiers eulogized in Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture.

     

    Herman Wouk called the heroic sacrifice of the USS Enterprise’s Torpedo 8 squadron at the Battle of Midway “… the soul of America in action.” Flight 93 was the soul of America, and the American people know it. They spontaneously created a shrine at the crash site to express what is in their hearts and minds but not their mouths. They are waiting for a poet. Normally a President fills this role.

     

    But Americans feel it now. They don’t need a government or leader for that, and didn’t to guide their actions on Flight 93, because they really are America. Go to the crash shrine and talk to people there. Something significant resonates through them which is different from, and possibly greater than, the shock of suffering a Pearl Harbor attack at home.

     

    Pearl Harbor remains a useful analogy given Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto’s statement on December 7, 1941 – “I fear we have woken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” They were giants on Flight 93.

     

    A chainlink fence covered in mementos and flags dedicated to the flight 93 crash


    This was the spontaneous memorial wall erected by Americans for the passengers and crew of Flight 93 in a field near Shanksville, PA that Tom Holsinger wrote about above.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Culture, History, Middle East, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 15 Comments »

    In the Field

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 8th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Sometimes, long after first reading a book or watching a movie and enjoying it very much, I have come back to re-reading or watching, and then wondering what I had ever seen in that in the first place. So it was with the original M*A*S*H book and especially with the movie. I originally read the book in college and thought, “Eww, funny but gross and obscene, with their awful practical jokes and nonexistent sexual morals.” Then I re-read after having been in the military myself for a couple of years, and thought, “Yep, my people!”

    The movie went through pretty much the same evolution with me, all but one element – and that was when I began honestly wondering why the ostensible heroes had such a hate on for Major Burns and the nurse Major Houlihan. Why did those two deserve such awful, disrespectful treatment? In the movie they seemed competent and agreeable enough initially. In the book it was clear that Major Burns was an incompetent surgeon with delusions of adequacy, and that Major Houlihan was Regular Army; that being the sole reason for the animus. But upon second viewing of the movie, it seemed like Duke Forrest, Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre were just bullying assholes selecting a random target for abuse for the amusement of the audience. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, Film, History, Holidays, Korea, Medicine, Middle East, Military Affairs, Personal Narrative, War and Peace | 30 Comments »