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  • Archive for May, 2011

    St Pancras London

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 21st May 2011 (All posts by )

    Recently on Chicago Boyz I saw a post about the re-opening of St. Pancras railway station in London. I was in London recently and was very impressed with the size and scale of the building as well as the renovation.

    Upper left – patrons the bar in the train station. Upper right – the lights in the high vaulted ceiling. Lower left – the Eurostar train station connecting to Europe. Lower middle – the eerie faux-reflection in the glasses on the base of the statue in the station. Lower bottom – the view of the station from the side.

    Highly recommended to walk through it if you are in London.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Europe | 6 Comments »

    Rapturous times, neh?

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 21st May 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted at Zenpundit — apocalyptic movements, best readings, budget shortfalls, lack of support for scholarship in crucial natsec areas — and with a h/t to Dan from Madison for the video that triggered this post ]
    What with rapture parties breaking out all over, billboards in Dubai proclaiming The End and thousands of Hmong tribespeople in Vietnam among the believers, this whole sorry business of Harold Camping‘s latest end times prediction is catching plenty of attention. I thought it might be helpful to recommend some of the more interesting and knowledgeable commentary on Camping’s failed prophecy.


    First, three friends and colleagues of mine from the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, about which I will have a further paragraph later:

    Richard Landes of BU has a text interview here, and a TV interview here. His forthcoming book, Heaven on Earth, is a monumental [554 pp.] treatment of millenarian movements ranging “from ancient Egypt to modern-day UFO cults and global Jihad” with a focus on “ten widely different case studies, none of which come from Judaism or Christianity” — and “shows that many events typically regarded as secular–including the French Revolution, Marxism, Bolshevism, Nazism-not only contain key millennialist elements, but follow the apocalyptic curve of enthusiastic launch, disappointment and (often catastrophic) re-entry into ‘normal time'”.

    Stephen O’Leary of USC wrote up the Harold Camping prediction a couple of days ago on the WSJ “Speakeasy” blog. He’s the rhetorician and communications scholar who co-wrote the first article on religion on the internet, and his specialty as it applies to apocalyptic thinking is doubly relevant: the timing of the end — and the timing of the announcement of the end. His book, Arguing the Apocalypse, is the classic treatment.

    Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph is a wicked and witty blogger on all things Catholic and much else beside — the normally staid Church Times (UK) once called him a “blood-crazed ferret” and he wears the quote with pride on his blog, where you can also find his comments on Camping. Damian’s book, Waiting for Antichrist, is a masterful treatment of one “expecting” church in London, and has a lot to tell us about the distance between the orthodoxies of its clergy and the various levels of enthusiasm and eclectic beliefs of their congregants.

    Three experts, three highly recommended books.


    Two quick notes for those whose motto is “follow the money” (I prefer “cherchez la femme” myself, but chacun a son gout):

    The LA Times has a piece that examines the “worldwide $100-million campaign of caravans and billboards, financed by the sale and swap of TV and radio stations” behind Camping’s more recent prediction (the 1994 version was less widely known).

    Well worth reading.

    And for those who suspect the man of living “high on the hog” — this quote from the same piece might cause you to rethink the possibility that the man’s sincere (one can be misguided with one’s integrity intact, I’d suggest):

    Though his organization has large financial holdings, he drives a 1993 Camry and lives in a modest house.


    Now back to the Center for Millennial Studies.

    While it existed, it was quite simply the world center of apocalyptic, messianic and millenarian studies. CMS conferences brought together a wide range of scholars of different eras and areas, who could together begin to fathom the commonalities and differences — anthropological, theological, psychological, political, local, global, historical, and contemporary — of movements such as the Essenes, the Falun Gong, the Quakers, Nazism, the Muenster Anabaptists, al-Qaida, the Taiping Rebellion, Branch Davidians, the Y2K scare, classic Marxism, Aum Shinrikyo and Heaven’s Gate.

    And then the year 2000 came and went, and those who hadn’t followed the work of the CMS and its associates thought it’s all over, no more millennial expectation, we’ve entered the new millennium with barely a hiccup.

    Well, guess what. It was at the CMS that David Cook presented early insights from his definitive work on contemporary millennial movements in Islam — and now we have millennial stirrings both on the Shia side (President Ahmadinejad et al) and among the Sunni (AQ theorist Abu Mus’ab Al-Suri devotes the last hundred pages of his treatise on jihad to “signs of the end times”)…

    Apocalyptic expectation continues. But Richard Landes’ and Stephen O’Leary’s fine project, the CMS, is no longer with us to bring scholars together to discuss what remains one of the key topics of our times. When Richard’s book comes out, buy it and read it — and see if you don’t see what I mean.

    Or read Jean-Pierre Filiu‘s Apocalypse in Islam. Please. Or Tim Furnish‘s recent paper.


    And while it may not see Judgment Day or the beginning of the end of the world as predicted, what this week has seen is the end of funding of Fulbright scholarships for doctoral dissertation research abroad. But then as Abu Muqawama points out:

    hey, it’s probably safe to cut funding for these languages. It’s hard to see Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan or anywhere in the Arabic-speaking world causing issues in terms of U.S. national security interests anytime soon.


    So the CMS isn’t the only significant scholarly venue we’ve lost to terminal lack of vision.

    Posted in Academia, Blogging, Book Notes, Christianity, Education, History, International Affairs, Iran, Islam, National Security, Predictions, Religion, Rhetoric, That's NOT Funny, Vietnam | Comments Off on Rapturous times, neh?

    Waiting For The End of the World

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 21st May 2011 (All posts by )

    Posted in Video | 1 Comment »

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th May 2011 (All posts by )

    blue skies, will travel

    Posted in Aviation, Photos | 13 Comments »

    Pundita’s Good Advice to the House of Monstrosities that is called Pakistan

    Posted by Zenpundit on 18th May 2011 (All posts by )

    Pundita, the DC based foreign policy blogger, is a longtime read for me due to her shrewd observations, usually expressed with tart sarcasm. Her post below is no exception:

    Note to Pakistan’s armed forces: President Obama is throwing you a lifeline; better grab it

    Even many Pakistanis believe the ISI was harboring Osama bin Laden, so there’s a lot of blame-shifting and finger-pointing going on in the government. And, as B. Raman details in his May 17 post, the armed forces feel humiliated because the U.S. was able to pull off the raid in Abbottabad right under their noses.

    However, the military has told so many lies over the years to puff up their efficiency that several Qaeda-friendly jihadi groups in Pakistan don’t believe the raid could have been carried off without cooperation from a branch of the military. So those groups are on a rampage against Pakistan’s military.

    In short, Rawalpindi is getting it from all sides in the wake of the Abbottabad raid. For that reason Raman is concerned that Rawalpindi might try to put a shine back on its tarnished reputation by directing terrorist attack at India. That would be a stupid move because it took everyone outside Syria all of 6 minutes to figure out that Syria’s government was behind the Palestinian ‘freedom protest’ against Israel on May 15 — 1 minute to realize what the government was up to (Bashy Assad’s attempt to deflect world attention from his brutal quashing of Syrian protests) and the remaining 5 minutes to attempt to figure out whether Bashy thought the year was 1990 or 1982. (1)

    ….The only people in Washington still pushing the line are influence agents in the pay of Pakistan’s government and U.S. defense analysts and NATO toadies who are so daffy they couldn’t find their hands with a flashlight. Either way, nobody’s buying the line anymore that Pakistan carries out atrocities because it’s scared of India.

    Understand? Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall. If Islamabad and Rawalpindi think China can help put Humpty back together they’re not only behind the times, they also don’t understand the Chinese.(2)

    More than they want to see India destabilized, more than they want to see the United States preoccupied with the war on terror, more than anything in the world, the Chinese want China to be a great nation and to be seen as such on the world stage. The Chinese know what it takes to be seen as a great nation. So, only provided the terrorists Rawalpindi nurtured kept it down to a dull roar was Beijing was willing to support Pakistan’s bloody-minded machinations against India and the United States. But if Pakistanis think the Chinese will risk everything they’ve sacrificed for, just to be seen by the world as supporters of a nation of anarchist terrorists, those Pakistanis need their heads examined.

    If Rawalpindi doesn’t want to believe me, it needs to believe this: At the end of April, China’s government published in English) a white paper on the country’s planned next phase in its foreign aid policy . The government has more than a $1 trillion to lavish on aid. About half the aid is earmarked for North Korea but a large chunk of the remainder Beijing plans to lavish on investment in U.S. companies.

    The plan is not made from the goodness of their hearts; the leaders want concessions from the U.S. government in return for their largesse. But the new policy also indicates that China’s government has listened to every criticism that’s been voiced about its earlier foreign-aid policy and is adjusting the new policy accordingly.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 33 Comments »

    The Queen in Ireland

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 18th May 2011 (All posts by )

    Victoria was greeted by adoring crowds in Ireland. The sun never set on the Empire, and the Irish blood that paid for much of it never dried. The Irish joined the army in mobs in 1914, both Catholic and Protestant. If the British had acted with decency or humanity, or even common sense, on many occasions, Ireland would have been part of a United Kingdom to this day, with far less suffering and bloodshed all around. They had their chance, and more than their chance. But that is all the past.

    Queen Elizabeth has presided over the piece by piece dissolution of a global empire, and these ceremonial occasions, which she is good at, are meant to heal wounds, close chapters, strengthen bonds, and move forward. Ireland’s wounds are the oldest and the worst, but even they can be closed and healed. Ireland and Britain should have a relationship like the USA and Canada, friendly neighbors, trading partners, allies when there is a shared cause, and that is the direction that both countries should move in.

    An Irish friend wrote to me about how moving the Queen’s visit has been. It seems that the trip has been a smashing success from the perspective of Irish Americans, from what I can tell, and it seems to be similarly effective back in the Ould Sod.

    This is the kind of thing which Elizabeth is perfect for. Only a monarch has the weirdly magical aura needed to pull off an event like this.

    Her opening lines to the Irish parliament, in Irish, were a clever stroke, reminiscent of Juan Carlos surprising the Catalonians by speaking in Catalan at the Olympics in Barcelona. These gestures of respect carry massive weight, they take away the offended pride that keeps conflicts going perpetually.

    There is a similar healing process going on among Indians whom I know. We all suffered, even the Americans, long, long ago, at the hands of the British. But we also all inherited much of value, including having all been made “cousins” in a globe-spanning network of English speaking people who can do great things for ourselves and the world. And we are mature enough to accept the good without forgetting the bad. An empire built on muskets and bayonets and opium and handcuffs and the lash has given way over a century to a valuable and peaceful and lawful community with a shared language and much shared law and many shared values. The British scattered our Irish ancestors across six continents, but we have risen above all that and succeeded beyond the dreams of those tough and suffering people, who got on with it and built something better for their children, wherever they landed. We can take the best from the past, learn its lessons, and give a great future to the people who come after us.

    Truly a great event, and a very important step forward for the Anglosphere.

    Victoria was able to travel in Dublin in an open carriage, in 1900, despite the prospect of Fenian bombs or revolvers. Elizabeth could not possibly mix with an Irish crowd without a very high risk of assassination. It has been 100 years ago that a British monarch last visited Ireland. Maybe another 50 years Queen Kate will be able to visit Ireland and go about with some normality, without expecting to be shot or blown to bits. There is still a lot of progress to be made.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Civil Society, Europe, History, India, International Affairs | 22 Comments »

    Chronological Comparisons

    Posted by David Foster on 17th May 2011 (All posts by )

    The length of time from the end of the American Civil War to the release of “Gone With the Wind” (the movie) was very nearly the same as the length of time from the movie to the present. (74 years vs 72 years)

    The length of time from Richard Trevithick’s prototype steam locomotive to the Wright Brothers’ first flight was less than the time from that first flight to the present. (99 years vs 108 years)

    The length of time from the Wright Brothers’ first flight to the first commercial jetliner (DH 106 Comet) was less than the time from the Comet to the present (48 years vs 60 years)

    The length of time from the coronation of Elizabeth I to the American Declaration of Independence was less than the time from the Declaration to to the present (217 years vs 235 years)

    The length of time from Robert Goddard’s first liquid-fueled rocket to the first manned landing on the moon was almost exactly the same as the time from the lunar landing to the present (43 years vs 42 years)

    Posted in History | 10 Comments »

    What’s Up, Doc?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 16th May 2011 (All posts by )

    Sorry I haven’t been posting much recently but the truth is that the Cartoon Network has been showing reruns of old classic Warner Brother’s cartoons, so I’ve been preoccupied with…uhmmm… cultural research.

    Okay, I haven’t. Truth is that I’m trying to boot strap a little software company and that means coding 12 hours a day. So, no blogging or much of anything else save a little family time. I haven’t even been listening to the news or reading Instapundit. When I really have to concentrate, I shutout the news and blog reading because if I hear something that piques my interest I have a terrible urge to write about it and I don’t want the internal distraction of the urge.

    However, the Cartoon Network has been showing old Loony Toon cartoons and I have been watching those during my regrettable “brain off” periods.

    I really enjoy those old cartoons far more I think than a person of my theoretical maturity should. They evoke for me not childhood but an almost tangible cultural history. They are redolent with the rich undertones of the era’s popular culture. By their very nature as mere schematics, their creators perforce had to anchor the stories, gags and iconography on concepts widely understood by the audiences of the time. As such, they capture the feel of their times in way that other art forms just can’t quite convey.

    Ah, who am I kidding? I’m just a sucker for pre-political correctness cartoons. Give me the old stuff with firearms, explosives, falling anvils, cross-dressing and moonshine!

    Posted in Personal Narrative | 16 Comments »

    Coolidge Series

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th May 2011 (All posts by )

    There’s now a Coolidge category to help organize Michael Kennedy’s excellent series and any related posts. This new category is bookmarked under “Notable Discussions” in the blog’s right sidebar.

    Posted in Announcements | 4 Comments »

    Coolidge- Summing up

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 15th May 2011 (All posts by )

    I promise this is the last post of this series.

    Coolidge believed that the wedding of government and business would lead to socialism, communism or fascism. Hoover considered Henry Wallace a fascist for supporting the McNary-Haugen bill. Hoover, ironically, was to bring on the Depression by progressive measures that might have been called a form of fascism. The farm bill would be re-introduced under Hoover and die. Only during the New Deal would it find enough support to become law. The summer of 1927 was peaceful and prosperous. It was the summer of Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs. The Yankees would win the World Series and end up with a winning percentage of 0.714, still unsurpassed. In September, Gene Tunney defeated Jack Dempsey in the fight marked by the “long count.” The “Jazz Singer” came out that fall, the first talking feature picture. Charles Lindbergh flew the Atlantic in May of 1927. He and Coolidge were much alike yet different. Both were shy and diffident but Lindbergh was happy to cash in on his fame while Coolidge refused all offers after he left office.

    Coolidge arranged for Lindbergh to return to the states aboard the US cruiser, Memphis, where he was met by a crowd and by cabinet members, then there was a huge parade through New York City. Lindbergh and his mother stayed with the Coolidges at the temporary White House where Dwight Morrow, close friend of Coolidge from Amherst, introduced the young aviator to his daughter Ann. Aviation stocks, along with many others, soared and the Dow Jones Average by year end was at 200, the record high.

    In his December 6, 1927 State of the Union message, he mentioned an economic slowdown and asked for the same things he had been requesting; sell Muscle Shoals, help farm cooperatives and keep spending down. In May of 1928, he complained to reporters about Congressional spending. “I am a good deal disturbed at the number of proposals that are being made for the expenditure of money. The number and the amount is becoming appalling.” He managed to get another tax cut passed including a cut in the corporate tax rate. The surplus that year was $398 million.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Conservatism, Coolidge, Economics & Finance, Elections, History, Political Philosophy, Politics, Taxes | 3 Comments »

    The Vestigial: It Seems Past – But Remains & Misleads

    Posted by Ginny on 14th May 2011 (All posts by )

    I’d like to note some minor irritations. Few lead as voyeuristic a life as I do, often using pop culture as a gauge to my reality. I know that betokens superficiality. Well, so be it. I’ve wasted much life in front of television sets and reading murder mysteries. And Humphrey Bogart’s image moved through that life.

    So I followed ALDaily’s link to an LRB review of Stefan Kanfer’s Tough Without a Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart. Apparently, for Jenny Diski, as for many of us, Humphrey Bogart was bigger than life. He died before I became a teen, but his old movies reran constantly on fifties’ television; when I started college, French directors, as Diski notes, led us back to him. I watched many yet again at Chicago’s Clark in the late sixties. Bogart merged with the heroes of hard boiled thrillers and then Camus as we started to take our intellectual lives more seriously.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Film, History, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 13 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th May 2011 (All posts by )

    smell the fungi

    Revealed: Coffee-table books of the Chicagoboyz.


    Posted in Humor, Photos | 1 Comment »

    Dead President Speaking Tour

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 14th May 2011 (All posts by )

    Silent Cal

    Silent Cal

    From the most recent of Michael Kennedy’s recent series of blog posts on Calvin Coolidge over at ChicagoBoyz:

    [Coolidge] used radio addresses very effectively long before Roosevelt adopted the medium. Coolidge’s voice, unlike most politicians of the era, was well suited to radio but could not reach the back of large crowds. In a 1927 poll on radio personalities, Coolidge came in fourth, after three musicians.

    This being the age of YouTube, I went looking for audio so I could hear the voice of Silent Cal whisper from the dust:

    This led me to a collection of YouTube audio of presidents that were even more dead than Silent Cal. Quoth the collection:

    Scholars routinely observe that the advent of radio reshaped political speech. But for more than a decade before the first commercial radio broadcast station was inaugurated in Pittsburgh in 1920, citizens had been listening to candidate speeches. This feat was made possible by the phonograph.

    I’m old enough to remember being chided by my parents or older siblings not to jump up and down as a small child because I might make the record player jump and scratch the record. To the youngins of today who grew up sniffing heavy doses of Steven Paul Job’s Reality Distortion Field, this might as well have happened long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away where dinosaurs and discos ruled the Earth by walking 100 miles to school through 1 mile deep snow uphill both ways. But digital audio only discriminates based on the skill of the encoder and the compression algorithm used to encode so here’s a few highlights from the Dead Presidents Society on YouTube:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Coolidge, History, Video | 2 Comments »

    Zip it about the OBL raid already….

    Posted by onparkstreet on 14th May 2011 (All posts by )

    From the Weekly Standard:

    We are very concerned about the security of our families – of your families and our troops, and also these elite units that are engaged in things like that. And without getting into any details … I would tell you that when I met with the team last Thursday, they expressed a concern about that, and particularly with respect to their families,’ Gates told the audience.
    ‘Frankly, a week ago Sunday, in the Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden. That all fell apart on Monday, the next day.

    The above item reminded me of the widely-linked Walter Russell Mead blog essay (which I found via Instapundit):

    The leadership class of a country like ours needs to exemplify and to teach smart patriotism: a deep love of country that expresses itself in a concern for the well being of our fellow Americans, a sense of personal dignity and economic restraint, a willingness to set the example of sacrifice for the common good.

    I am not making a strictly partisan point. I’m channeling a popular mood. Call it a malaise of sorts. Twitter comes at exactly the wrong time for our Codevilla-elite populist moment. Twittering, “tweeping” glibness and DC chumminess on display for all to see, hand-in-hand with Hollywood celebrities and think tank favorites testifying on Capital Hill, “nerd proms,” and the rest of it. Or maybe it is EXACTLY the right moment because it allows the little people – that’s you and me, folks – to see elements of the sausage making.

    A good for society in the long term, but nausea-inducing in the immediate term as we work our way back to some semblance of decent, practical governance.

    Update: Hmmm….am I being too “elliptical” in my commentary? It is odd for a blogger – and a blogger that loves to share, at that – to make this point, but make it I will: we have a tendency to overshare these days and use all kinds of tools (Twitter, reporters) to do it. Mr. Personal Memoir President, loose lips in DC, and a culture of blabbing every little thing that enters into our heads. I’m as guilty as the rest. Except, classified information is a bit different than telling people what you had for lunch. So I guess I’m not as guilty as the rest.

    Second Update: Thanks for the link, Instapundit! I sort of wish I hadn’t included the President in this particular post because I really did want to make a larger point about American culture as a whole and not just our largely feckless political class. (I’m still impressed that the President gave the “go ahead” for the raid. Somehow, I didn’t think he had it in him but I suppose all Presidents would have done the same).

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Human Behavior, International Affairs | 8 Comments »

    The Coolidge Presidency III

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th May 2011 (All posts by )

    La Follette ran for president in 1924, as feared by the Republicans, but on the Socialist ticket and got little support from mainstream voters. His issue was “control of government and industry by private monopoly.” Coolidge ran a low key campaign and, as he had done in Massachusetts, did not name his opponents. His speeches were not in campaign style but on general subjects like “What it means to be a Boy Scout,” and “The duties of citizenship” including, of course, the obligation to vote. He used radio addresses very effectively long before Roosevelt adopted the medium. Coolidge’s voice, unlike most politicians of the era, was well suited to radio but could not reach the back of large crowds. In a 1927 poll on radio personalities, Coolidge came in fourth, after three musicians.

    One of Coolidge’s radio talks had a profound impact on a nine-year-old boy who had put together the crystal set on which he heard the president. It was 1922 and Eugene Fluckey was nine years old. What he heard was “Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are important.” The boy was so awestruck that he scribbled down the president’s words. He would later become the most decorated submarine captain of World War II and completed 12 war patrols without the loss of a single man in his crew. He was awarded the Medal of Honor and five Navy Crosses. He and his ship, the USS Barb, were known as “the galloping ghost.” Fluckey later told the story, “Silent Cal did not speak often but when he did people listened.”

    Some of Coolidge’s refusal to campaign was certainly his depression after the death of his son. Some was a recognition of his own abilities, or lack of them. In his Autobiography, he says, “When he went, the power and glory of the presidency went with him. I don’t know why such a price was exacted for occupying the White House.” Dawes took up the slack and enjoyed campaigning. His delivery was electric. One said of him, ” It was said that he was the only man in the world who, when he spoke, could keep both feet and both arms in the air at once.” His principal themes were LaFollette and the Democrats. For LaFollette, it was “red radicalism.” He spoke out forcefully against the Klan in August but was warned that it could hurt the ticket and he left that topic alone thereafter. Davis, the Democrat, in spite of being warned, attacked the Klan forcefully but nobody was paying much attention. Oddly enough, he would be the opposing counsel in 1954 for Brown vs Board of Education opposing school integration.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Conservatism, Coolidge, History, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Taxes | 1 Comment »

    “Carbon” is not a synonym for “CO2”

    Posted by David Foster on 13th May 2011 (All posts by )

    …any more than “hydrogen” is a synonym for “H2O.”

    Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) seems a little confused on this point.

    I’ve noticed quite a few people, in various debates about environmental matters, referring to “carbon” as generically a bad thing. Some of them are probably just using it as a shorthand for carbon dioxide, in order to save syllables or characters—others, though, really do seem to think that the discussion is about some sinister product of the Industrial Revolution, rather than the natural compound that they exhale with every breath and that is required for the growth of plants. Maybe they think it’s about carbon particulates.

    The situation isn’t helped by various corporations which, when promoting their products/technologies on environmental grounds, now almost always talk about how they reduce carbon, or at best carbon dioxide, rather than talking about reductions in real air pollution in the form of mercury, sulfur dioxide, etc. The terms “carbon” and “carbon dioxide” are now generally being used as shorthand for atmospheric Bad Things.

    Returning to Boxer, the levels of her ignorance and demagoguery are astonishing–but we should not forget also her amazing arrogance and self-centeredness.

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Leftism, Politics | 18 Comments »

    The presidency of Calvin Coolidge II

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th May 2011 (All posts by )

    Coolidge was more concerned with domestic issues than foreign policy. This had been true of most US presidents since the Civil War until 1917 and it was part of Harding’s “Return to Normalcy” plan. Coolidge knew little about other countries although he was not an isolationist. The true isolationist policy of the US was in the 1930s under Roosevelt who canceled a Hoover sponsored economic summit in Britain as soon as he was inaugurated. Only in 1939 and 40 was Roosevelt converted to the internationalist that is remembered by his supporters and biographers, internationalists themselves. I will have more to say about the slanders of Harding and Coolidge by the political left and the historians later.

    Coolidge’s domestic agenda was dominated by a few issues. The first was the emergence of the “Farm Bloc” in Congress. The McNary- Haugen bill was the first of the “farm relief” bills and would dog Coolidge through his presidency as he vetoed it but it kept coming back as the farm bloc grew stronger. The background of the bill is well stated in the Wikipedia article:

    World War I had created an atmosphere of high prices for agricultural products as European nations demand for exports surged. Farmers had enjoyed a period of prosperity as U.S. farm production expanded rapidly to fill the gap left as European belligerents found themselves unable to produce enough food. When the war ended, supply increased rapidly as Europe’s agricultural market rebounded. Overproduction led to plummeting prices which led to stagnant market conditions and living standards for farmers in the 1920s. Worse, hundreds of thousands of farmers had taken out mortgages and loans to buy out their neighbors property, and were now unable to meet the financial burden. The cause was the collapse of land prices after the wartime bubble when farmers used high prices to buy up neighboring farms at high prices, saddling them with heavy debts. Farmers, however, blamed the decline of foreign markets, and the effects of the protective tariff. They demanded relief as the agricultural depression grew steadily worse in the middle 1920s, while the rest of the economy flourished.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Conservatism, Coolidge, Economics & Finance, Elections, History, Politics | 9 Comments »

    The Beat, Rock’N’Roll Girl (1980)

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 12th May 2011 (All posts by )

    (The Muffs do a nice cover of this one, btw.)

    Posted in Music, Video | Comments Off on The Beat, Rock’N’Roll Girl (1980)

    George Weigel “Transforming Our Culture: John Paul II and the New Evangelization”

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 11th May 2011 (All posts by )

    Men’s Leadership Forum of Chicago, May 20, 2011, 7.30 am, University Club of Chicago. Weigel will be promoting his new book The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the LegacyBiographies & Memoirs of Religious Leaders).

    I read Weigel’s biography of John Paul IIBiographies & Memoirs), which went up through 1999, which was good. I also read Weigel’s Cold War era book about Catholic Just War TheoryReligion & Spirituality Books), which I would like to revisit, to see how the theory applies to current conditions.

    These MLFC events are always good. I plan to attend.

    Posted in Announcements, Book Notes, Chicagoania, Christianity, Religion | Comments Off on George Weigel “Transforming Our Culture: John Paul II and the New Evangelization”

    The Series and the Mini-Series

    Posted by David Foster on 9th May 2011 (All posts by )

    Movies intended for theater distribution are usually about 90-120 minutes long–this surely puts some serious constraints on character and plot development. The additional time made available by the series and mini-series formats (apparently the distinction between series and mini-series lies in whether the full set of episodes is planned in advance or not) would seem to open up some additional degrees of artistic freedom. And the changes in the way video is distributed, including Netflix and the various video-on-demand services, play very well with the series/miniseries format.

    Over the past couple of years, I’ve watched several series, mostly via Netflix, which I thought were particularly noteworthy:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Film | 49 Comments »

    “Trust, but verify” and Pakistan: III

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 8th May 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit — third of three parts ]


    David Ronfeldt said something in a recent comment here on strategy that to my mind maps very nicely — like one of those zooms in films from a very long view of a New York cityscape right in through the window of a brownstone onto a particular book on a certain someone’s bedside table or desk – onto this week’s questions about Pakistan:

    as others have noted better than i, strategic relationships may involve competition in one area, collaboration in another, and a potential for serious conflict in yet another.


    That seems to be pretty much the attitude of the ISI retiree Michael Wahid Hanna described on the Afpak channel two days ago:

    “As for duplicity, I would say that diplomacy is not single tracked. We all follow many different tracks; sometimes, apparently, working against each other,” a retired senior official from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) told me and my colleagues during a private gathering in Islamabad in July 2010 that was organized as part of The Century Foundation’s International Task Force on Afghanistan. “Double games or triple games are part of the big game.”


    Time magazine gives the argument from both the “they must have known” and “honest, we didn’t” sides:

    The most damaging accusation against the Pakistani military, of course, is that it must have known bin Laden’s was hiding in the small garrison town where army personnel at frequent checkpoints demand identification. “They knew. They knew he was there,” wrote Dawn columnist Cyril Almeida, echoing the suspicion of many Pakistanis. Kayani had driven past bin-Laden’s bolt-hole literally a week earlier, on his way to tell a gathering at the military academy that the “Pakistan army is fully aware of internal and external threats.”
    Kayani was adamant that the Pakistanis had no idea that bin-Laden was hiding in Abottabad. “We had no clear, actionable information on Osama bin-Laden,” he told the journalists. “If we had it, we would have acted ourselves. No one would have questioned our performance for ten years. It would have raised our international prestige.”

    That’s fair and balanced with, if you’ll excuse the pun, a great deal hanging in the balance…


    Pat Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis, accordingly, tries to weight the the US and Pakistan in terms of their respective affordances to each other…

    Let’s see… What does Pakistan do for the US? … Pakistan’s military keeps it’s existing and future nuclear capability out of the larger world game. As has been discussed at SST many times, Pakistan either has or will soon have the real world CAPABILITY of ranging Israel’s target set. They have around 100 fully engineered and manufactured deliverable nuclear weapons. They have aircraft and missiles (Shahiin 2 improved) that would do the job. The missile launchers are fully mobile. The US has zero control over this nuclear strike force. Logically, the willingness of the Pakistan military to keep this “piece” off the chess board is a major boon to the US. We do not want to see that willingness change to something else.
    On the other hand … The Pakistani security services support many of our worst opponents in Afghanistan. This is so well documented that I won’t bother to do so again.


    Are you dizzy yet?

    Lawrence Wright at the New Yorker – he wrote The Looming Tower, simply *the* book about AQ’s road to 9-11 – drops one of those tidbits that just might be the exact detail we need to pursue, in one of those long shot zooms in through the window I was talking about. He tells us:

    Within the I.S.I., there is a secret organization known as the S Wing, which is largely composed of supposedly retired military and I.S.I. officers. “It doesn’t exist on paper,” a source close to the I.S.I. told me. The S Wing handles relations with radical elements. “If something happens, then they have deniability,” the source explained. If any group within the Pakistani military helped hide bin Laden, it was likely S Wing.


    Are we getting closer to that starkly phrased remark of Zen’s that I quoted at the outset of this three post series, “Osama bin Laden was caught and killed in an ISI safe house in Abbottabad” ?

    I trust Lawrence Wright quite a bit — but I would like to verify

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, International Affairs, National Security, Terrorism | 11 Comments »

    “Trust, but verify” and Pakistan: II

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 8th May 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit — second of three ]

    Trust — or mistrust — but verify.

    So: can you trust crowd-sourcing, can you trust officialdom?


    Can you trust Pakistan?

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, International Affairs, National Security, Terrorism | Comments Off on “Trust, but verify” and Pakistan: II

    “Trust, but verify” and Pakistan: I

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 8th May 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]

    Ronald Reagan said “Trust, but verify.” Gorbachev said, “You repeat that at every meeting.” Reagan said, “I like it.”


    Zen claimed a couple days ago that “Osama bin Laden was caught and killed in an ISI safe house in Abbottabad” — while here at ChicagoBoyz, Trent Telenko asserted:

    We already knew Pakistan is what we feared a nuclear-armed Iran would be — a nuclear-armed, terrorist supporting, state. Just ask India about Mumbai and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Now we know that Pakistan is attacking us too. Al Qaeda is the operational arm of Pakistani intelligence (ISI) attacking us just as Lashkar-e-Taiba is its operational arm attacking India.

    Those are “strong” versions of claims that have been made in “weaker” forms for some time now.


    Thus the NY Times refers to “the belief among administration officials that some elements of the ISI may have ties to Bin Laden and the Afghan Taliban” while according to the BBC, Adm. Mike Mullen recently claimed the ISI had a “long-standing relationship” with the Haqqani network. A Guardian report used the phrase “rogue elements” in discussing recently wikileaked documents from Guantanamo:

    The documents show the varying interpretations by American officials of the apparent evidence of ISI involvement with insurgents in Afghanistan. There are repeated “analyst’s notes” in parentheses. Several in earlier documents stress that it is “rogue elements” of the ISI who actively support insurgents in Afghanistan.

    So: is it “some elements of the ISI”—or “rogue elements of the ISI” — or simply “the ISI”?


    The Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate was included in the “list of terrorist and terrorist support entities identified as associate forces” in one of the leaked documents, the “JTF-GTMO Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants” with the notation:

    This list is not all inclusive but provides the primary organizations encountered in the reporting from and about JTF-GTMO detainees. Through associations with these groups and organizations, a detainee may have provided support to al-Qaida or the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against US or Coalition forces.

    “Association with Pakistan ISID, especially in the late 1990s up to 2003” was listed in the same document as among the “the primary indicators for assessing a detainee’s membership or affiliation with the Taliban or ACM elements other than al-Qaida.”

    BTW, what happened to the ISI in 2003?


    And what of Pakistan itself? is it just the ISI that’s problematic, or the entire state of Pakistan? Time magazine reports:

    CIA ruled out participating with its nominal South Asian ally early on because “it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets,” Panetta says.

    Indeed, the problem may not be that there are rogue elements in ISI, nor that the ISI is a rogue element in Pakistan, but that Pakistan itself may be a rogue state, and a nuclear one at that.

    How simple it is to write such a sentence – and how subtle the task of understanding – not leaping to conclusions but penetratingly understanding – just what the real situation is.


    As Zen says in the same post:

    It is long past time for a deep, strategic, rethink of what ends America wants to accomplish in Central Asia and some hardheaded realism about who our friends really are.

    Intelligence needs to be intelligent, and to be seen to be intelligent. Whether we trust or mistrust — we need to verify.

    [ first of three, at least ]

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, International Affairs, National Security, Terrorism | 8 Comments »

    Elections and a referendum

    Posted by Helen on 8th May 2011 (All posts by )

    It would seem that my posting about the restoration of a very fine late-Victorian building in London did not go down as well as I had hoped. Time to go back to politics, I suppose.

    We have just had a set of local elections as well as devolved Assembly ones and a country-wide referendum on whether we want to change our electoral system from First Past the Post (FPTP) to Alternative Voting (AV), a system nobody liked particularly but one that was produced and put to the electorate as a compromise between the two Coalition parties who promptly fell out with each other during the campaign.

    Suffice it to say that in the various elections (with a slightly higher than usual for local elections turn-out because of the referendum) there was no great enthusiasm shown for either the Conservatives or Labour and the Liberal-Democrats got a severe drubbing.

    In the referendum, 69 per cent of those who turned out (around 45 per cent) voted NO and only 31 per cent YES. We can safely predict that the subject of electoral reform is now off the agenda for a while, as is the Liberal-Democrat revival.

    On my blog, Your Freedom and Ours, I wrote a longish piece on the whole subject with references to some wider issues.

    Posted in Britain, Elections | 2 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th May 2011 (All posts by )

    man of principle

    Possibly not a Chicagoboyz reader.


    Posted in Humor, Photos | 4 Comments »