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  • Archive for September, 2012

    RERUN–Sleeping with the Enemy

    Posted by David Foster on 20th September 2012 (All posts by )

    (originally posted 2/26/10)

    Why has the western world shown such loss of will in defending itself from radical Islamic terrorism? Why, indeed, do substantial numbers of people–particularly those who view themselves as intellectuals–endlessly make excuses for dictatorships and terrorist movements whose values are completely at odds with their own stated values–and even romanticize these goons? I think some clues can be found in a forgotten novel by Arthur Koestler.

    The Age of Longing (published in 1950) is set in Paris, “sometime in the 1950s,” in a world in which France–indeed all of western Europe–is facing the very real possibility of a Soviet invasion. Hydie Anderson, the protagonist, is a young American woman living in Paris with her father, a military attache. Hydie was a devout Catholic during her teens, but has lost her faith. She was briefly married, and has had several relationships with men, but in none of them has she found either physical or emotional satisfaction…she describes her life with a phrase from T S Eliot: “frigid purgatorial fires,” and she longs for a sense of connection:

    Hydie sipped at her glass. Here was another man living in his own portable glass cage. Most people she knew did. Each one inside a kind of invisible telephone box. They did not talk to you directly but through a wire. Their voices came through distorted and mostly they talked to the wrong number, even when they lay in bed with you. And yet her craving to smash the glass between the cages had come back again. If cafes were the home of those who had lost their country, bed was the sanctuary of those who had lost their faith.

    Through her friend Julien DeLattre, Hydie is introduced to a number of Paris intellectuals and and East European emigres. Members of the former group are mostly in denial about the danger of a Soviet attack…many of them have indeed convinced themselves that Communist rule wouldn’t be all that bad. For example, there’s Professor Pontieux (modeled on Sartre)…”He did not believe that the Commonwealth of Freedomloving People had solved all its problems and become an earthly paradise. But it was equally undeniable that it was an expression of History’s groping progress towards a new form of society, when it followed that those who opposed this progres were siding with the forces of reaction and preparing the way for conflict and war–the worst crime against Humanity.” Vardi, another intellectual, says that if he had to choose between the (American) juke box on one hand, and Pravda on another, he isn’t sure which he would pick.

    Madame Pontieux, modeled on Simone de Bouvoir (with whom Koestler had a brief affair) is less ambiguous about her choice among the alternatives. “You cannot enter a cafe or a restaurant without finding it full of Americans who behave as if the place belonged to them,” she complains to an American official. When the Russian emigre Leontiev suggests that France would not survive without American military support, pointing out that “nature abhors a vacuum,” she turns on him:

    “I am surprised at your moderation, Citizen Leontiev,” Madame Pontieux said sarcastically. “I thought you would tell us that without this young man’s protection the Commonwealth army would at once march to the Atlantic shore.”

    “It would,” said Leontiev. “I believed that everyone knew that.”

    “I refuse to believe it,” responds Madame Pontieux. “But if choose one must I would a hundred times rather dance to the music of a Balalaika than a juke box.”

    (The French intellectuals Koestler knew must have really hated juke boxes!)

    Julien is romantically interested in Hydie, but she is not attracted to him, despite the fact that he seems to have much to recommend him–a hero of the French Resistance, wounded in action, and a successful poet. On one occasion, she tells him that she could never sleep with him because they are too similar–“it would be like incest”..on another occasion, though, she tells him that “what I most dislike about you is your attitude of arrogant broken-heartedness.” Parallel to Hydie’s loss of religious faith is Julien’s loss of his secular faith in the creation of a new society. He does not now believe in utopia, or any approximation to same, but he does believe in the need to face reality, however unpleasant it may be. Hydie argues that the Leftists of their acquaintance may be silly, but at least they believe in something:

    “Perhaps they believe in a mirage–but isn’t it better to believe in a mirage than to believe in nothing?”

    Julien looked at her coldly, almost with contempt:

    “Definitely not. Mirages lead people astray. That’s why there are so many skeletons in the desert. Read more history. Its caravan-routes are strewn with the skeletons of people who were thirsting for faith–and their faith made them drink salt water and eat the sand, believing it was the Lord’s Supper.”

    At a diplomatic affair, Hydie meets Fedya, a committed Communist who works for the Soviet Embassy. She is powerfully attracted to him: things get physical very quickly and, from Hydie’s point of view, very satisfactorily. (Fedya is one of Koestler’s best-developed characters. His boyhood in Baku is vividly sketched, and Koestler–himself a former Communist–does a good job in showing how a political faith can become core to an individual’s whole personality.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Christianity, Civil Liberties, France, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Terrorism | 30 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 19th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Fragments of the Miami, Florida skyline as reflected from an office building adjacent to a downtown Metromover station. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz /


    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Caught in the Attrition Mill

    Posted by David Foster on 18th September 2012 (All posts by )

    In 2006, I visited an old industrial facility which had been restored to operating condition. One of the machines there was an attrition mill. It consists of two steel discs, rotating at high speed in opposite direction and crushing the substance to be milled between them.

    I immediately saw this machine as a political metaphor. Western civilization is caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one disc being the Islamofascist enemy and the other being certain tendencies within our own societies. The combination of these factors is much more dangerous than either by itself would be. Events of the last 2 weeks have sadly confirmed this view.

    Significant numbers of people in influential positions have demonstrated their willingness, even eagerness, to throw the American values of free speech overboard in the name of appeasement. They serve as the lower disc of the attrition mill, providing a surface for the upper disc–the Islamofascists–to act against.

    We have discussed the Federal Government’s acts of intimidation against a filmmaker–I was about to say “an idiot filmmaker,” but really, this individual’s intelligence, taste, and artistic capabilities are utterly irrelevant to the issues here. The actions of the government, in conjunction with the media, may very well result in this man being killed for “blasphemy”–in the United States, in 2012 AD.

    Actress Bette Midler tweeted that the filmmaker should be charged with murder. Other entertainers (see link) have expressed similar views. I haven’t seen any outpouring of free-speech defense from academia, although some individuals–like Glenn Reynolds and Ann Althouse–have stepped up to the plate. The media in general seems far more outraged about a filmmaker who offended Muslims–and about the danger of “Islamophobia” (see this CNN headline) than they are about the treatment of Jews and Christians and Hindus and others in many Muslim countries.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Islam, Media, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 48 Comments »

    Airplane Post for Michael Kennedy

    Posted by David Foster on 17th September 2012 (All posts by )

    I was going to post this later, under a “Cool Project” heading, but a comment by Michael Kennedy (in this thread) encouraged me to go ahead and put it up now. It’s indeed a good idea to occasionally take a little time to talk about something other than contemporary political issues.

    The Northrop P-61 Black Widow was a premier U.S. night fighter of WWII. 742 of these airplanes were built; only 4 are left in existence. The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum owns one of these, and has a project underway to return it to flyable condition.

    Airborne radar was a new technology in the early 1940s, and the P-61 was specifically designed to be a radar-carrying airplane. Early radars were heavy–over 400 pounds for the set that this plane carried–and a radar operator was required as well as a pilot. So the P-61 was a large airplane–23,000 pounds empty weight, a very big number for a WWII fighter. Maximum speed was 366mps, which is 318 knots. There were 4 fixed 20mm cannon plus 4 50 caliber machine guns in a remote-controlled turret.

    The Black Widow was all about its radar system, which was known as the SCR-720. The radar operator had two screens, one displaying range and azimuth and the other showing azimuth and elevation. The operator used a range gate to select a particular target that would be displayed on the pilot’s single screen. Close coordination between pilot and radar operator was essential in order to make an attack a success.

    The plane served in both the European and Pacific theaters.

    MAAM has been working on the restoration of their P-61 since 1980. You can view the progress of the restoration at The Widow’s Web…it is clearly an immense project. Contributions are of course welcome; and I bet that volunteers with appropriate skills would be very welcome as well.

    Posted in Aviation, History, Tech, USA, War and Peace | 14 Comments »

    “Disabled WWII and Korean War Veteran Faces Eviction, Freddie Mac Refuses to Return Calls”

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th September 2012 (All posts by )

    It seems like this guy could use a break.

    This kind of story is the flip side of Solyndra, Senator Dodd’s mortgage and other offenses of crony capitalism. The rich and connected get bailouts and special favors while ordinary people who are badly down on their luck get no consideration. That’s inevitable when government is big enough to do all of the things that people who want bigger government want government to do.

    I hope publicity brings Mr. Scott some relief.

    (Thanks to Rich Vail.)

    Posted in Big Government, Personal Narrative | 4 Comments »

    “We cannot count on problems elsewhere in the world to make Treasury securities a safe haven forever.”

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th September 2012 (All posts by )

    The Magnitude of the Mess We’re In:

    The fixes are blindingly obvious. Economic theory, empirical studies and historical experience teach that the solutions are the lowest possible tax rates on the broadest base, sufficient to fund the necessary functions of government on balance over the business cycle; sound monetary policy; trade liberalization; spending control and entitlement reform; and regulatory, litigation and education reform. The need is clear. Why wait for disaster? The future is now.

    Worth reading.

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 8 Comments »

    Voting by Military Personnel

    Posted by David Foster on 17th September 2012 (All posts by )

    …clearly not a priority for this administration

    Half of all U.S. military bases around the world lack legally required facilities where troops can register to vote and get absentee ballots, according to a report from the Pentagon’s inspector general.

    Advocacy groups said the report shows the military has let down its service members by failing to implement the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

    Read the whole thing.

    The Obama administration claims to be very concerned about ensuring that no one is denied their right to vote–so concerned, in fact, that they want to eliminate basic protections against fraud, by deleting ID requirements.

    But when it comes to voting by U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen, they don’t seem so interested.

    Posted in Elections, Politics, USA | 12 Comments »


    Posted by David Foster on 17th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Social Security Administration recently purchased a significant quantity of ammunition for its 295 special agents, who are “responsible for investigating violations of the laws that govern SSA’s programs.” Other civilian government departments, including the National Marine Fisheries Service, have also been purchasing ammunition recently.

    Obama friend & advisor Valerie Jarrett has a full Secret Service detail while on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

    But Ambassador Chris Stevens was not provided with a Marine detail in Benghazi, Libya. Nor was he provided with guards operating under”the standard security contract offered to many American diplomatic missions in the Middle East,” according to the BBC, but rather with a much lower level of protection. This, despite the fact that there had been 4 previous terrorist attacks against international targets in Benghazi since June of this year.

    Maybe–maybe–it’s reasonable and prudent to have armed Social Security agents in normal American cities, and to provide Secret Service protection, in an upper-income resort area, for an individual who is merely a Presidential advisor and friend–not an elected official, not a Cabinet officer. But wouldn’t it be 10 times more important to provide armed security for the U.S. Ambassador in one of the most dangerous areas of the world, on a date when there was every reason to believe the terrorist threat would be greater than usual?

    Related: Robert Avrech on the Obama administration’s failure to act on security warnings from Israel.

    Posted in Middle East, Terrorism, USA | 12 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 16th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Shana Tova. Wishing a sweet and healthy year to all.

    Shana Tova

    Posted in Holidays, Judaism, Photos | 5 Comments »

    India Power Market Article Shows NY Times Doesn’t Understand Capitalism

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 16th September 2012 (All posts by )

    This post is an intersection of my research on the power industry around the world and a lack of understanding of the power of capitalism that I see reflected around me in Chicago and in many news outlets.

    India’s Power Industry

    The NY Times recently had an article titled “Scandal Posts a Question: Will India Ever Be Able to Tackle Corruption?“. The article described a scandal about India’s coal mining industry, a critical element of their power generation since India has heavy reliance on locally sourced coal.

    Coalgate, as the scandal is now known here, is centered on the opaque government allotment process that enabled well-connected businessmen and politicians to obtain rights to undeveloped coal fields.

    Why is this important? Per the article, 57% of India’s power is generated by coal. The industry is hobbled for lack of coal. 300 million Indians are without electricity, and a recent blackout effected huge areas of the country.

    The Indian government used a bureaucratic process to assign out rights to these coal fields, instead of an overt capitalistic auction process (a fact that the NY Times article fails to mention), and many politicians and their cronies of course received the rights, likely due to overt or covert bribery and connections.

    (the) $34 billion coal mining scandal that has exposed the ugly underside of Indian politics and economic life: a brazen style of crony capitalism that has enabled politicians and their friends to reap huge profits by gaining control of vast swaths of the country’s natural resources, often for nothing.

    Why does this matter? When property rights are doled out in this manner, the people who receive them aren’t the BEST POSITIONED to develop the assets. If a profit seeking company paid for an asset in a public auction, they would be paying cash from investors (or out of their own pocket) and would need to “monetize” the asset in order to achieve a proper return back to investors. You don’t go into the auction without a plan to develop the asset, since you would be bidding against actual competitors who were motivated to do so and they’d likely pay more than you would. Per the article on India, this is the type of behavior that you see, instead:

    Investigators now say that some of the favored applicants, having acquired the coal fields free, quickly sold them for tens of millions of dollars to steel or power companies. Others simply kept them as an asset and have not yet developed them, even as the country faces blackouts and coal shortages.

    The NY Times treats this as some sort of “scandal” rather than as a FEATURE of socialistic systems. Politicians in these systems are exactly like capitalists in a capitalist society, using their role to obtain power and riches rather than for some sort of utopian “betterment of mankind” which the NY Times would likely expect them to do. In fact, these sorts of behaviors are modeled as successful and drive out would-be capitalists since the politicians in socialist societies hold the cards in terms of laws and processes and will use them against those trying to open up the process to a fair and transparent capitalist alternative.

    India has no power for 300 million people, an unreliable system with rolling blackouts, and is crippling growth BECAUSE IT RUNS POWER AS A SOCIALIST SYSTEM RATHER THAN A CAPITALIST ONE. The answer is absolutely as simple as that. The scandal and the failures are product of a socialist system as doomed to fail as the USSR’s five year plans.

    The answers to this problem of inadequate power are simple and can be found in any text from Smith to Hayek.

    1. Sell state owned coal fields to qualified bidders (have the capital and means to develop the fields) in an open and transparent auction process
    2. Protect the property rights of power developers by ensuring that they are able to build and site transmission lines and power stations appropriately
    3. Protect the property rights of power companies by ensuring that they are able to charge and collect from customers and eliminate illegal connections to their systems
    4. For areas that are a local monopoly (distribution), the state should ensure that performance and reliability are monitored via clear criteria and that entities that don’t comply should be fined or the franchise put up for auction to another qualified entity

    Since the NY Times fundamentally doesn’t understand how capitalism works and that it is a BETTER solution that top down central planning or socialistic bureaucratic “queuing” models” (of which this is a primitive variant) they don’t make any of these recommendations. Scandals aren’t a problem – they are a direct result of the SYSTEM and will always be present in these sorts of political environments.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, India | 8 Comments »

    Grown Ups

    Posted by Ginny on 16th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Our culture has developed restraints and rewards for maturity. Robinson’s letter to those on the Mayflower noted that as important as not “giving offense” was not taking it. We know the litigious mind – often the goal is less money than moral power. We hear the tattle tale sister, the battles over space and goods of pre-schoolers. We’ve sublimated the healthy desire for justice into our judicial system and have grown out of the petty battles of childhood. Maturity comes when we move responsibility into ourselves as often and much as possible. What others think or have or do isn’t important – the choices we make to build our lives is.

    The great gift of our tradition is individualized responsibility. (Look at how Winthrop or Bradford accepted material hierarchies but consistently saw souls as equal; a community bound by the ligaments of love was likely to have unevenly proportioned parts, but the toe was no less a part of the whole than the heart.) Individualized responsibility also comes from our belief in the universal spirit – influencing much else in our country’s history. A century or two passed and these beliefs were give a form more political than theological and defined as inalienable rights.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Law, Political Philosophy, Society, Terrorism | 3 Comments »

    Brown Shirts

    Posted by Ginny on 15th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Reynolds’ tone is usually light, a bit ironic; this entry has trouble reaching that objectivity – but I assume someone whose day job is explicating the Constitution (or who knows history) may have trouble achieving distance. Hell, I teach a couple of the Federalist Papers and do. Of course, spending the summer acccidentally watching a lot of WWII propaganda movies hasn’t helped. (Last night was The White Cliffs of Dover.) Or maybe it has. History repeats and repeats – and it only takes a generation or two to educate Airheads who don’t know the history of their grandparents, let alone any farther back.

    Anyway, if we re-elect this guy, we have proven that we don’t know our history, we don’t know history, and we don’t know ourselves. That is clearly true of the execrable journalists. The Boomers are getting old; we remain divided. But do any of us think that this is the way a great country acts? Do any of us think the obsession not with what Romney said nor with what Obama did and did not say but rather with the gotcha questions appropriately represented this country’s values?

    (I don’t know what the “Just Unbelievable” category is really supposed to be – if it doesn’t fit, Jonathan, change it and take out this line. On the other hand, what better sums it up? Don’t talk to me about Japanese internment. I don’t want to defend it, but I can – that was human nature. This is the nature of a police state.)
    Steyn Barone

    Posted in Just Unbelievable, Politics, Terrorism, The Press | 94 Comments »

    Some Timely Breakup Songs

    Posted by David Foster on 15th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Relationships don’t always work out. That’s why there are breakup songs.

    Sometimes, the feelings leading to a breakup are mutual…neither partner wants to keep the other one around anymore. And yes, I think Obama is as dissatisfied with us, the American people, as we are with him. He clearly finds us to be very inadequate and unappreciative.

    So, time to move on. And in honor of the impending breakup between American and Barak Obama, here’s a selection of fine breakup songs.

    Goodbye to You

    Goodbye is all we got left to say

    Hit the road, Jack

    You’re so vain

    50 ways to leave your lover

    It doesn’t matter anymore

    Red rubber ball


    Posted in Music, Politics, USA | 14 Comments »

    Sunrise, Coral Gables

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th September 2012 (All posts by )

    The image of a dissipating storm reflects from the tranquil surface of a canal shortly after sunrise in Coral Gables, Florida. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz /


    Posted in Photos | Comments Off on Sunrise, Coral Gables

    Obama and Netanyahu

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Jonathan Tobin:

    But not only was Obama not interested in any such gesture, he was not prepared to tell him this to his face. This snub may stem from the open dislike the two men have for each other, but as I wrote earlier this week, this is about more than personalities. The message from Washington was clear: Israel has no leverage over Obama on this issue even during the presidential campaign and will have even less in a second term.
    Netanyahu has been accused of trying to play politics with Obama during the last months of the presidential campaign or of favoring Mitt Romney. But whatever Netanyahu thinks privately, it should be understood that his concern transcends any misgivings about Obama’s penchant for picking fights with Israel during the past four years. If he really thought Romney might win, he would be showing more, not less patience with Obama since presumably Israel would only have a few months to wait before getting a different answer from a more sympathetic White House.

    It’s worth reading Tobin’s post in full, as well as his earlier post (linked in the quoted segment above).

    As Tobin makes clear, the media’s “clash of personalities” framing of the issue has helped Obama by obscuring the conflict of interests between his administration and Israel. Obama will do nothing substantial to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons and no longer cares who knows it. Perhaps if he is reelected he will begin to discuss “containing” Iran, and eventually will push for a regional nuclear treaty that will be designed to get Israel to disarm in exchange for Iranian promises. Good luck with that. In any event it seems unlikely that Obama, who was unwilling publicly to oppose the mullahs when it would have been easy to do and might have brought them to heel, will begin to act resolutely against them once they acquire nukes.

    The key insight from Tobin’s post may be in the last sentence of the second paragraph above. If Netanyahu were confident of a Romney victory it would make little sense for him to engage the obstreperous Obama now. The fact that Netanyahu decided to run the risk suggests that he thinks Obama is likely to be reelected or that little time remains for an effective strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. If this reasoning is correct Israel may attack soon, perhaps shortly after the election if Obama is reelected.

    The current situation is more than a little like the period before the Six Day War. There are bellicose enemies, feckless allies, an existential threat to the Jews, fruitless diplomacy under the clock, much FUD about a possible world or regional war as a result of an Israeli attack, a difficult tactical problem, and a coalition government in Israel. Some things that are different are the degree of direct US involvement in the Middle East, Islamism, the absence of the USSR, and probably a weaker political consensus within Israeli society. We will know soon enough what Netanyahu and his cabinet decide to do.

    To be, or not to be, that is the question:
    Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
    The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
    Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them…

    UPDATE: See also this post on Israeli politics (via Seth Mandel).

    UPDATE 2: Richard Fernandez puts Obama’s bungling into perspective in the context of long-term US policy mistakes:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Iran, Israel, Middle East, Obama, War and Peace | 17 Comments »

    On the Defense of Free Speech

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th September 2012 (All posts by )

    OK, so call me retrograde, old fashioned, a bigot or the ever-popular ‘raaaaacist’ but I actually believe in free speech and free thought; for everybody, not just the ones that I agree with.
    There is the caveat to this, of course. If you depend upon the larger public finding your persona, your manufactured or intellectual output appealing enough to purchase it … well, there might be potential customers disenchanted and disinclined to do so, should they find your exercise of free speech insulting or offensive. They are perfectly free to refrain from partaking in your product or purchasing it … it is, so I have been assured, still mostly a free country. Buy Chick-fil-A, or not. Listen to the Dixie Chicks … or not. Read the New York Times … or not. Watch Game of Thrones… on not, depending on how much you feel strongly about personal opinions. The right to speak is, has been, and ought to still be paramount.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Islam, Just Unbelievable, Middle East, Politics, Society, Terrorism | 17 Comments »

    Romney Blasted for Saying What Needed to be Said

    Posted by David Foster on 13th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Mitt Romney has spoken out strongy about the embassy attacks in the Middle East, beginning with this statement:

    I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

    Romney’s remarks were met with attacks, some of them quite vitriolic, from Democratic operatives, from Obama himself, from old-media members, and even from some old-line Republicans. These people are basically asserting that no candidate has the right to engage in real-time criticism of a sitting President which a diplomatic or military crisis is underway. Indeed, it seems that many of Romney’s critics are far more furious at him for speaking out than they are at the people who attacked the embassies and murdered an American ambassador.

    I’m reminded of an episode I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Following the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the Chamberlain administration waffled. Many members of Parliament were furious, and were not shy about letting their views be known. General Edward Spears, himself an MP at the time, described the scene:

    Arthur Greenwood got up, tall, lanky, his dank, fair hair hanging to either side of his forehead. He swayed a little as he clutched at the box in front of him and gazed through his glasses at Chamberlain sitting opposite him, bolt-upright as usual. There was a moment’s silence, then something very astonishing happened.

    Leo Amery, sitting in the corner seat of the third bench below the gangway on the government side, voiced in three words his own pent-up anguish and fury, as well as the repudiation by the whole House of a policy of surrender. Standing up he shouted across to Greenwood: “Speak for England!”


    (Greenwood) hoped the Prime Minister would be able to make, he must make, a further statement when the House met at 12 next day, Sunday…Here many shouted “definite statement.” Every minute’s delay imperilled the foundations of our national honour. There must be no more devices for dragging out what had been dragged out too long. The moment we looked like weakening the Dictators would know we were beaten.

    After the declaration of war, and following the British debacle in Norway, Chamberlain again came under attack in the House.

    (Leo Amery) reviewed what had occurred since the fall of Finland, and in devastating sentences proved how clear and inevitable German action in Scandinavia had been, and how blind was the Government for not having foreseen the sequence of events…The house remained still and strained as it watched the redoubtable small squat figure of Amery smash the Government. It was as if he were hurling stones as large as himself, and hurling them with a vigour that increased as he proceeded, at the Governmental glass-house. The crash of glass could not be heard, but the effect was that of a series of deafening explosions. He concluded with the terrible words of Cromwell when he dismissed the Long Parliament: “You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say–let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

    Had Romney’s critics been around in those days–and to the extent their arguments are meant seriously–then I guess they would have wanted all these MPs to simply shut up and allow the Chamberlain government to proceed with its feckless policies unhindered.

    The Spears quotes are from his memoir Assignment to Catastrophe.

    Posted in Britain, Germany, History, Middle East, USA, War and Peace | 16 Comments »

    Another Tragedy – Another Perspective

    Posted by Ginny on 12th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Borlaug saves, Greenpeace kills.

    Posted in Bioethics, Environment | 4 Comments »

    President Obama’s 9/11 in Libya

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 12th September 2012 (All posts by )

    President Obama faces his own “9/11” today as Islamist crowds attacked both America’s Libyan and Egyptian embassies and killed our Ambassador in Libya and two other Americans with a rocket.

    So what can we expect from Pres. Obama?

    A strongly worded diplomatic communique? A demarche? An Arclight air strike across Libya?

    What we seem to have gotten was a weakly worded diplomatic communique with a political back pedal, when criticized.

    If this follows the usual Obama Administration script, expect to see multiple emails asking for campaign contributions based on Gov. Romney “not stopping criticism of the American government at the water’s edge“.

    Gatewaypundit now has photos of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’s body being paraded through the streets of Libya.
    What I cannot believe is that both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are claiming those photos are of the Ambassador being taken to a hospital.
    We should be getting a Pres. Theodore Roosevelt “America wants Pedicaris alive, or Raisuli dead!”.
    Obama Administration Reacting to Ambassidor Stevens's Murder
    Instead we are getting the ROTC Cadet from ANIMAL HOUSE screaming “REMAIN CALM. ALL IS WELL!” as the riot engulfs him.

    Posted in Americas, Anti-Americanism, Iran, Islam, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, Politics, Terrorism, USA | 45 Comments »

    Archive Post: Try To Remember That Time in September

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th September 2012 (All posts by )

    (From my old Sgt. Stryker archive – a meditation on 9/11, written on the third anniversary)

    Around the time of the first anniversary of 9/11, I saw a drawing commemorating, and making a bittersweet comment about anniversaries, memory and the passage of time. Quick pen sketches of the WTC towers, each with a sequential date underneath; 9/11/02, 9/11/03, 9/11/04, but with each repetition, the outline of the towers became mistier, more diffuse. The first anniversary to me was almost unbearable, as much of a psychic battering as the event itself. The second was a sad and thoughtful occasion, and now we are facing the third year, and the day falls on a Saturday; not a work day for most of us. Curiously, that seems to set the event a little aside, this year. I will not be walking into the glass and granite lobby of the office building where I work— a lobby that looks eerily like the lobby of the WTC buildings, owing to the fact they were built at about the same time, following many of the same architectural precepts, and which houses many of the same sort of businesses, although on a much smaller scale— on a glorious September day, not knowing that the towers had already been hit, they were burning, and thousands of people doing the same job they did every day would be dust and ashes in the next few moments.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, History, Human Behavior, Music, Terrorism | 4 Comments »

    9/11 Plus Eleven Years

    Posted by David Foster on 11th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Originally posted 9/11/2011

    Simply evil: Christopher Hitchens suggests that sometimes the simple and obvious explanation for an event is more accurate than an explanation which relies on an elaborate structure of “nuance”

    A time bomb from the Middle Ages. Roger Simon explains how 9/11 altered his worldview and many of his relationships

    An attack, not a disaster or a tragedy. George Savage explains why the persistent use of terms like “tragedy” by the media acts to obfuscate the true nature of the 9/11 attacks. Much more on this from Mark Steyn

    Claire Berlinski was in Paris on 9/11. Shortly thereafter she wrote this piece for City Journal

    Marc Sasseville and Heather Penney were F-16 pilots with an Air National Guard squadron. Their order was to bring down Flight 93 before the terrorists in control of it could create another disaster on the scale of the World Trade Center…but their aircraft were configured for training, with no live ammunition and no missiles. A video interview with Major Penney here

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    Posted in Anti-Americanism, History, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 15 Comments »

    Of the Lawyers, By the Lawyers, and For the Lawyers

    Posted by David Foster on 10th September 2012 (All posts by )


    Link via Stuart Schneiderman

    See also my related post A Plague of Sticky Governors

    Posted in Civil Society, Law, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | Comments Off on Of the Lawyers, By the Lawyers, and For the Lawyers

    Why is the election so close ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 9th September 2012 (All posts by )

    I have been watching the trends in the election campaign thus far. I actually watched much more of both conventions than I expected to. My present question is Why is this election close ?. Powerline blog asks the same question and has a rather gloomy conclusion.

    But it now appears that the election will be very close after all, and that Obama might even win it. It will require a few more days to assess the effects (if any) of the parties’ two conventions, but for now it looks as though the Democrats emerged with at least a draw, despite a convention that was in some ways a fiasco. In today’s Rasmussen survey, Obama has regained a two point lead over Romney, 46%-44%. Scott Rasmussen writes:

    The president is enjoying a convention bounce that has been evident in the last two nights of tracking data. He led by two just before the Republican convention, so he has already erased the modest bounce Romney received from his party’s celebration in Tampa. Perhaps more significantly, Democratic interest in the campaign has soared. For the first time, those in the president’s party are following the campaign as closely as GOP voters.

    John Hinderaker comes to the following conclusion, at least tentatively.

    On paper, given Obama’s record, this election should be a cakewalk for the Republicans. Why isn’t it? I am afraid the answer may be that the country is closer to the point of no return than most of us believed. With over 100 million Americans receiving federal welfare benefits, millions more going on Social Security disability, and many millions on top of that living on entitlement programs–not to mention enormous numbers of public employees–we may have gotten to the point where the government economy is more important, in the short term, than the real economy. My father, the least cynical of men, used to quote a political philosopher to the effect that democracy will work until people figure out they can vote themselves money. I fear that time may have come.

    I have several other theories that are more optimistic. The polls may be wrong for several reasons. Citizens have been deluged with accusations of racism by frantic Democrats. Those who plan to vote for Romney may simply be misleading pollsters. In California about 30 years ago, the black mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, was ahead in the polls going into the 1982 election. In the event, he lost in spite of appearances on election day. Absentee ballots were credited with turning the result into a win for Deukmejian, his GOP rival. The racial effect is still disputed.

    Two theories of the racial effect are in competition. One holds that white voters are less likely to vote for a black candidate. The fact that a number of black office holders have been elected by majority white districts, including that of retired colonel Allen West, should dispute that theory. Another is that white voters are reluctant to disclose voting preferences to pollsters, which might expose them to changes of racism. Voting against Obama is widely attributed to racism by Democrats and, especially, the progressive left.

    It is not clear if either of these theories has validity. It would be very depressing to think the theory of dependency on government is valid.

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    Posted in Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Elections, History, Leftism, Obama, Statistics | 48 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 9th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Cloud-to-ground lightning strikes the southern side of Biscayne Bay during a nocturnal thunderstorm in Miami, Florida. Rickenbacker Causeway is visible in the foreground. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz /


    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »

    Selling New Concepts can be Challenging

    Posted by David Foster on 8th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Via Maggie’s Farm and Dinocrat, here’s a Bob Newhart skit from 1970. Bob plays the role of an 1890s-style venture capitalist, talking on the phone with inventor Herman Hollerith, who is trying to explain the merits of punched card technology.


    Related: Father, Son & Co., the biography of long-time IBM CEO Thomas Watson Jr, is the best business autobiography I’ve read. I reviewed it here.

    Posted in Advertising, Book Notes, Business, History, Media, Tech | 5 Comments »