Yeah, Yeah

The other day our President, Barack Hussein Obama, took time out of his busy schedule to visit a Baltimore mosque. There he delivered an obsequious panegyric about the glorious role of Islam in America’s history. (If there is a major, or even mid-tier, religion that has in fact played a lesser role in America’s founding, history and rise to greatness, I’m hard-pressed to think of one; if you leave out the prominent role of Muslims in capturing slaves in Africa, then the salient appearances of Islam on the American stage have only been our difficulties with the Barbary pirates in the early 1800s, and the terror attacks of the past few decades. From the Mayflower to the Revolution, from the Framing to the Westward Expansion to the Great War to the Sixties and beyond, you will scour the annals of American history in vain for a notable Muslim patriot.) Mr. Obama also made sure, as usual, to castigate the rest of us for our egregious abuse of Muslims, and for thinking that the noble religion of Islam might be anything other than a great beacon of peace, casting a lambent aura of love upon all the world.

I’d comment at length, but I haven’t the oomph tonight. Others have, though. See, for example, here, here, here, and here.

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Gone Away, Is The Bluebird

Snow in Wellfleet today. The view out our front door this afternoon:

 

Skinless And Boneless

I’ve just read the testimony that Border Patrol agent Brandon Judd gave to the House Judiciary committee today.

Some longish excerpts:

In the late 1990s as a young Border Patrol Agent, I witnessed first-hand how adept these criminal cartels were at exploiting our policies. While I was working in the Buttercup Dunes in the remote California desert, smugglers would drive their products across the United States/Mexico International Boundary, easily making it to Interstate 8 just a few hundred yards away. In almost all cases the smugglers would drive west towards El Centro, California. If we attempted to stop the vehicle, the smugglers would drive across the median and continue west in the eastbound lanes and into oncoming traffic. At night it was worse, the smugglers would turn their headlights off as they drove into the oncoming traffic. The moment they crossed the median and began driving into oncoming traffic, we had to immediately terminate our pursuit.

The policy was that it was better for narcotics and illegal immigrants to enter the United States without apprehension than to put the general public at risk of vehicle accidents. Whether you believe this policy was sound or not, it was a policy that was exploited by the cartels. It took years for the Border Patrol to install vehicle barriers in this area and stop these drive throughs from taking place. During that time the cartel more or less operated with impunity…

Another example was the 500 pound marijuana smuggling threshold the U.S. Attorney’s office imposed on the Border Patrol in the mid-2000s. Due to prosecutorial discretion, Border Patrol Agents were not allowed to refer for prosecution anyone who smuggled or attempted to smuggle less than 500 pounds of marijuana into the country. Not surprisingly we started making quite a few 480 pound seizures.

Today our largest trouble area is in Texas. Criminal cartels are once again proving adept at understanding and working around our policies. Late in the year of 2013 and throughout all of 2014, anunprecedented number of unaccompanied minors entered our country illegally through the Rio Grande Valley Sector of operations. Instead of presenting themselves legally at Ports of Entry and asking for asylum, the unaccompanied minors were forced by the cartels to enter illegally at dangerous points along the border. In most cases, these minors were not trying to escape or evade apprehension, they were simply crossing the border illegally and giving themselves up.

The cartels understood that the unaccompanied minors would force the Border Patrol to deploy Agents to these crossing areas in order to take the minors into custody. I want to stress this point because it has been completely overlooked by the press. The unaccompanied minors could have walked right up to the Port of Entry and asked for asylum. Why did the cartels drive them to the middle of the desert and then have them cross over the Rio Grande only to surrender to the first Border Patrol Agent they came across? The reason is that it completely tied up our manpower and allowed the cartels to smuggle whatever they wanted across our border.

The creating of holes in Border Patrol operations was only one benefit to the cartels by the unaccompanied minor surge. The other was the exploration of our “catch and release” policy. As this surge became too much to handle, the Border Patrol and the Enforcement and Removal Office began releasing nearly everyone we arrested. I believe this release allowed the cartels to increase their smuggling profits. With catch and release, the cartels could credibly say to potential customers that they would be able to remain in the United States without fear of deportation as long as they asked for asylum upon being apprehended. Although the problem began with unaccompanied minors, as word quickly spread of everyone being released, we started to see more crossings of complete family units, leading to a bigger problem than what we had in 2014. And once again we are playing catchup to a problem that in part we created through policy.

All individuals that were released during this period of time were given an official document that ordered them to appear before an immigration judge at some future date. These orders are called Notices to Appear (NTA). The only problem, however, is that these official orders are usually ignored; so much so that Border Patrol Agents have dubbed them Notices to Disappear. The latest data that I have seen shows that approximately 40 percent of the individuals being issued NTAs do not show up.

The willful failure to show up for court appearances by persons that were arrested and released by the Border Patrol has become an extreme embarrassment for the Department of Homeland Security. It has been so embarrassing that DHS and the U.S. Attorney’s office has come up with a new policy. Simply put, the policy makes mandatory the release, without an NTA, of any person arrested by the Border Patrol for being in the country illegally, as long as they do not have a previous felony arrest conviction and as long as they claim to have been continuously in the United States since January of 2014. The operative word in this policy is “claim.” The policy does not require the person to prove they have been here which is the same burden placed on them during deportation proceedings. Instead, it simply requires them to claim to have been here since January of 2014.

Not only do we release these individuals that by law are subject to removal proceedings, we do it without any means of tracking their whereabouts. Agents believe this exploitable policy was set in place because DHS was embarrassed at the sheer number of those who choose not to follow the law by showing up for their court appearances. In essence, we pull these persons out of the shadows and into the light just to release them right back to those same shadows from whence they came…

Immigration laws today appear to be mere suggestions. There are little or no consequences for breaking the laws and that fact is well known in other countries. If government agencies like DHS or CBP are allowed to bypass Congress by legislating through policy, we might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether.

Once again, you saps fellow citizens, the word is “anarcho-tyranny”. Are you getting angry yet?

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Bob Elliott, 1923-2016

Bob Elliott, the surviving member of the great comedy duo Bob & Ray, has died. He was 92.

Nobody much younger than I am will even know who these people were. It’s the curse of the old that only they know, as the great mill of history grinds the past into dust, what has been lost. And if you don’t know, why would you care?

You can enjoy some Bob & Ray here.

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Duck Song

Among the most entertaining accounts on Twitter over the past year or so has been the reactionary heckler known to his audience as “The Duck” (@jokeocracy). With Twitter apparently getting ready to crack down on dissident-right accounts, the Duck decided to go out in blazing style, and spent a recent Sunday trolling mainstream, in particular “conservative”, journalists.

As expected, the Duck’s account was permanently suspended by the Twitter management when they showed up for work the next morning, and his oeuvre is no longer visible. But the flight-path of his kamikaze mission was recorded, and preserved for posterity, here.

The Duck gave a post-mortem interview with Radix Journal, which you can read here. I’ll excerpt one brief snippet, about the rise of Donald Trump (who has much support around the reactosphere, and is what is known in those circles as a “shitlord”):

[Interviewer]: In your opinion, how has the rise of Donald Trump galvanized what has come to be known as the “alt-right” on Twitter?

D: Trump recognized that the white working class had no voice in today’s American politics, and he’s become a rallying point for everyone who feels that the establishment needs to be torn down. His specific beliefs and policies are for the most part unimportant, he serves as a Schelling point for a deep anti-establishment feeling that has grown strong in the absence of any other permitted outlets to vent that emotion.

Yes, of course that’s it exactly.

At best, the situation in America today is like a computer that’s been left on for far too long, running thousands of buggy and leaky processes, with its firewall down and its anti-virus software disabled. At the very least, it must have a reboot, or it will soon crash. More likely, however, is that the national “hardware” no longer meets the system requirements of the original OS, as I explained here.

Meanwhile, if you feel the effects of your last red pill wearing off, and need to grab another fistful pronto, I’ll direct you as always to Nick Steves’ This Week In Reaction for a heapin’ helpin’.

P.S: A chain of links in Nick Steves’ digest led me back to this NRO piece from last spring. It’s as horrifying now as it was then.

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How’s The Water, Frogs?

From CNN:

The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that the acting administrator for the Transportation Security Administration would be reassigned, following a report that airport screeners failed to detect explosives and weapons in nearly every test that an undercover team conducted at dozens of airports.

According to a report based on an internal investigation, “red teams” with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General were able to get banned items through the screening process in 67 out of 70 tests it conducted across the nation.

Meanwhile, we ordinary chumps citizens are delayed, herded, groped, humiliated, and blasted with radiation for, as we see above, purely theatrical purposes.

The word is ‘anarcho-tyranny’, in case you need reminding. Have you had enough yet?

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Misc.

Sorry — the little grey cells are resting tonight, so all I have is a few small items.

‣   The State Department recently announced that it would not be releasing some of the emails taken from the private, unsecured server Hillary Clinton kept in her bathroom in Chappaqua, because they are too secret.

Former Federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy comments here:

The reasoning behind that conclusion is alarming. It is not just that the intelligence community (IC) understandably wishes to keep top secret national-defense information under wraps. Because of how recklessly Clinton and her top aides handled classified information, the IC must operate under the assumption that there are copies of these 22 emails floating around – whether in the possession of current or former government officials but unaccounted for or, worse, in the possession of, say, foreign governments that managed to hack into Clinton’s unsecured private system. If the State Department were to release publicly even redacted copies of the emails, those who may have complete copies will be able to figure out the SAP information and use that knowledge both to compromise government sources and programs, and in analyzing other U.S. government information to which they’ve gained access.

In other words, it is potentially catastrophic.

Not to worry, Mrs. Clinton. We have it on good authority (well, actually we heard from one of our commenters) that there’s nothing amiss here.

‣   Meanwhile, an item at VDare reminds the GOP that its dream of burnishing the brand with Hispanic voters is a fool’s errand, and that Mexicans are not Cubans or Puerto Ricans.

‣   Here’s why we need to colonize outer space, and soon.

‣   This is cute.

‣   Stern words from Solzhenitzyn.

‣   Probably the top story of the day, however, is this weird fish.

Update, a few hours later: should also have included this.

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Plug

Readers will be aware that I’m recovering, slowly, from having my left knee replaced. (It’ll be three weeks tomorrow since the surgery.) The operation was actually a redo of the original job, last March, which turned out to have been botched.

Total knee replacement is major surgery — it inflicts a grievous wound, and the recovery is slow and painful. For several weeks the patient must take strong medications for pain. That makes it hard to concentrate without fatigue, and, for me at least, it made reading and writing productively all but impossible.

To pass the time, then, I found myself listening to the radio a lot. And the best thing about that, both this time around and last, has been listening to John Batchelor in the evenings. If you’ve never heard his show, I recommend it to you all; it’s on the air for four hours, six days a week, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern time.

Mr. Batchelor is something of a political conservative, but that’s not the attraction here: he is a cultured man of high intelligence, with a roving curiosity that seems to touch upon, if you listen long enough, just about every topic imaginable. (This isn’t to say he doesn’t have particular interests, though: he does, and they are history, global politics, strategic security, and space exploration.) He is joined every night by erudite guests, and the conversation is always entertaining and informative. It’s real, old-fashioned, grown-up stuff, and you should tune in sometime. You can hear him during broadcast hours by going to the WABC-AM website and catching the live stream, or download podcasts from his own site.

I’m grateful to John Batchelor for easing many weary and uncomfortable evenings. If there’s a bright side to knee arthroplasty, this is it.

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Confess!

We’ve written often (for example, here) about the unbroken ideological and doctrinal thread connecting the Puritanism of the Massachusetts Bay Colony with the modern, secular religion of the Left. The “mission into the wilderness” continues unabated, its outward forms unaltered. All that changes is the temporal object of the mission: the MacGuffin varies from picture to picture, but the plot, and the acting, is always the same. The sin, the atonement, the soteriology are all still there, perfectly intact; why, one hardly even misses God.

Here’s a very good piece, by John McWhorter, on “anti-racism” as an expression of this religious impulse.

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Circling The Drain

I meant to comment on this when it happened a few days ago:

Rome’s nude statues covered up ahead of Rouhani visit

In further concession to Iranian president, official dinner with Italian PM does not include wine on the menu

What a craven, flabby, neutered thing our civilization has become. This is what ACID syndrome does to its victims: it sickens and enervates them with doubt; it destroys and disables their confidence, potency, and virility; it paralyzes them in the face of peril; it turns their bones and sinews to jelly.

In contrast: Winston Churchill, who was to host a dinner attended by ibn Saud, was told by the Arabian king that those attending must not drink or smoke in his presence. His response?

I said that if it was his religion that made him say such things, my religion prescribed as an absolute sacred ritual smoking cigars and drinking alcohol before, after and if need be during, all meals and the intervals between them. Complete surrender.

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What Say You, Tea Leaves?

It’s been almost a year — it was February 28th, 2015 — since I predicted that Hillary Clinton would not be the Democratic nominee. (Readers can find the historic vaticination — upon which I immediately staked a bottle of whisky in a wager with our commenter ‘The One Eyed Man’ — in the comment-thread here.) Among the reasons I gave, which of course hardly scratch the surface: too old, too sick, too unprincipled, too incompetent, too dishonest, too nasty, too much baggage.

How’s it looking? About as I expected it would. Some of you may be old enough to remember the old Clairol slogan: “the closer she gets, the better she looks”; I expected that this would be precisely the opposite of what would happen with Mrs. Clinton, and I have not been disappointed. Everywhere you look her support seems to be declining; at this rate, were she to stay in the race, the only votes she’d end up getting come Election Day would be Bill, Chelsea, George Stephanapolous, our monocular commenter, and perhaps Chelsea’s father, Webb Hubbell. (Why, just now I read an Op-Ed piece by Charles Blow over at the New York Times; even the comment-section there is overwhelmingly unsupportive, if not downright antagonistic, toward the former First Basilisk. And if you’ve lost Charles Blow’s commentariat, well…)

It’s obvious that this email business is pretty serious; Mrs. Clinton had things on her private server that should only have been viewable in a SCIF — a secure facility to which access is only granted on a strict case-by-case, need-to-know, eyes-only basis. The material in question is of the most sensitive sort, with a security classification above Top Secret — the kind of stuff that, if leaked, puts human lives at risk. (We can rest assured that as a result of its having been hosted in the Clinton’s bathroom, it is now read at leisure in Beijing, Moscow, Pyongyang, and God-knows-where else.) The FBI has been investigating, but of course the FBI cannot bring an indictment; that duty rests with the Department of Justice — i.e., Loretta Lynch, and ultimately Barack Obama.

So what’s going to happen? The chattering classes have been predicting all sorts of things. Out of this welter of opinions, what has coalesced in my own mind as the most persuasive analysis, and the most likely sequence of events, includes these key points:

1) This thing will not go away. The security breach is too egregious, and the penalties for any ordinary person so severe, that even Hillary Clinton will not be able to walk away from it.

2) Barack Obama controls the DOJ, but even for a man with as little regard for the rule of law as he has, there’s too much pressure building for him just to switch the whole thing off, even if he wanted to. And are we sure he wants to? Because, after all…

3) …the Clintons and the Obamas hate each other. Any leniency that Mr. Obama might show Mrs. Clinton depends exclusively on the following:

      a) His concern for his own legacy, and for the future course of the Democratic Party. Given that Mrs. Clinton will likely yank the party back toward the center relative to where Mr. Obama would like it to go, and given also that Mrs. Clinton is hardly a person of natural political talent, or of charismatic personal charm, it’s hard to believe that Mr. Obama is thrilled to see her as his heir;

      b) His concern for any dirt that the Clintons may have on him. I will not speculate here about what that may be, but we can be sure that if Mr. Obama spurns and discards Mrs. Clinton, then the Clinton machine will bring its guns to bear, and that is not nothing.

4) My own impression is that Mr. Obama has the advantage as regards item 3). This opinion is reinforced by the asymmetrical toadying we’ve been seeing lately; it seems that Mrs. Clinton has been going out of her way to praise and bend the knee to the incumbent in recent weeks. We would not see this sharp uptick in ass-kissing if something were not afoot.

5) My feeling, then, is that Mr. Obama is turning away from Mrs. Clinton, and will turn loose the DOJ when the moment is right.

6) When will the moment be right? When she’s down, of course; he will want her prospects to slip as much as possible before siccing the dogs on her. So if she does poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire, then expect it sooner; if she does better than she seems likely to in those contests, then expect more damaging FBI leaks for a little while longer.

7) Does this mean that Mr. Obama now supports Bernie Sanders? No. In fact Mr. Sanders was summoned to the White House just the other day, and I bet he was told as much. Bernie Sanders is too kooky, too untethered from reality, too flighty to be a steady hand on the tiller once Mr. Obama leaves office. No, what this White House wants is someone more tractable, more middle-of-the-road, more biddable. And who is that?

8) Why, Joe Biden, of course. I predict that Mr. Biden is going to get back into this race, and soon — probably right after bad showings by Mrs. Clinton in Iowa and NH, if things go as I expect they will. And there is someone sitting in the wings, someone who checks a lot of desirable Democratic boxes, who would make a perfect running-mate — someone who has been very strangely quiet these past few months: Elizabeth Warren. At this point in this crazy political season, I think an Uncle-Choo-Choo/Fauxcahontas ticket could really have legs for the D’s, and I bet a lot of other people think so too.

Now none of this is particularly original; it’s just a distillation of my own thoughts and of what a lot of other political observers have been suggesting. But it’s what makes the most sense to me at this point, so I thought I’d write it all down.

Peter, no hurry here of course, as there are months to go yet, but I think I’d like a Highland Park 15. Nectar o’ the gods.

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Rules Of Order

Here’s an extended meditation on that modern Sisyphus, Wile E. Coyote, and on the genius of his creator, Chuck Jones.

Hoplology 101

Here’s another clarifying and informative piece by Sean Davis on firearms: 14 Things Everyone Should Understand About Guns.

(I say “another” above because we’ve linked to Mr. Davis’s articles, such as this one, before.)

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The Thucydides Trap

In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes wrote the following about why humans fight:

‘So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory. The first maketh men invade for gain; the second for safety; and the third for reputation. The first use violence, to make themselves masters of other men’s persons, wives, children and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name.’

Rather than being some sort of masculine pathology, as I’m sure your children are now being told in school, these things all have a perfectly rational basis.

In the first case, which Hobbes calls “competition”, some rival stands between you (or your tribe, or your nation) and a necessary resource. Natural selection — i.e., differential survival and reproduction — will obviously favor organisms who will act to remove the obstacle, at least to the extent that doing so does not itself lower their own prospect of survival. (Obviously, a species of deer that tends to attack the tigers at the watering-hole will soon go extinct.)

The second case, which Hobbes calls “diffidence”, describes the rational behavior of the obstacle. If you are aware that some neighboring tribe has its hungry eyes on your hunting ground, you have two choices: you can upgrade your defenses, which locks you into a costly, and risky, arms-race in perpetuam, or you can make a pre-emptive attack and remove the threat once and for all.

The third case, “glory”, is the rational approach for defending one’s tangible assets when appeals to law are not an option: it is to make clear that any trespass will be met with swift retribution, and by so doing build a reputation for oneself as someone not to be messed with.

Of interest tonight is the second case. It is a major primer for international conflict, and has been understood as such since the Peloponnesian War. (Indeed, it was Hobbes’ reading of Thucydides that helped him understand the idea in the first place.)

So, with all this in mind (and a hat tip to J.D.), here’s an excellent article on the sudden rise of China as a major power, and what that might mean for global security.

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Old School

My boy Nick just sent me a link to a YouTube channel that you might find interesting. (I did.)

Here.

Gyre, Widening

I have to say: it would be hard to imagine a livelier political season, or one more fitting for these times.

Over on the left, Hillary Clinton is watching it all slip away all over again — this time to a pallid, septuagenarian Marxist from Vermont. (I’ve had many wonderful blessings in my life, but to be able to see this woman’s ambitions slowly burnt to ashes is about as good as it gets.)

Meanwhile, on the other side, the atavistic GOP is tearing itself to pieces. Conservatism, Inc. today has mounted a desperate assault on Donald Trump, as it watches its worst nightmare — irrelevance — come true. (You had your chance, guys.)

No, no, my friends, now things have changed. While the intellectuals of NRO, and of the Democratic editorial pages, have fiddled, the world has caught fire.

The blogger calling himself “Porter” summed it up perfectly in a recent tweet:

“Left and right are obsolete terms. All politics in the West are now State v. Nation.”

I’ve said for years now that this system was tottering. Now it’s beginning to tip right over. Who will win? Sanders? Trump?

“What difference, at this point, does it make?”

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Open Thread 12, Etc.

I’m still way too fuzzy to write, so just a couple of links:

First, an amusing little allegory posted at Gates of Vienna (with a h/t to Bill Keezer; I’ve been offline a lot this week, and hadn’t visited GoV in a few days).

Second, I think a recent podcast by John D. on the topic of race is particularly good. You can listen to it here.

Beyond that, I got nuthin’. The floor is yours, folks.

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If Looks Could Kill

You just might have to watch this more than once.

Floating Metaphor Captured in Gulf

The big story over the past week has been the news from Iran: the ransoming of our hostages, the fat payoff for the nuclear deal (but I repeat myself), and the humiliating capture by Iran of riverine patrol boats allegedly adrift in the Gulf.

Normally I’d really be digging in on this one, but it’s hard right now for me to concentrate. I’ll just say that there is obviously a lot more to this incident than we’ve been told, and that a lot of what we have been told is obviously not so. The Obama administration is spinning the whole thing exactly as you’d expect: a triumph of its diplomatic expertise, a huge win for U.S. interests, an encouraging example of how well things can go for America when we let geniuses like John Kerry, and the great man in Washington who deserves history’s applause but is too modest to mention himself by name, run the show.

I’m just going to give you a few links to browse:

First up is the analyst who writes as ‘Nate Hale’ at In from the Cold. His post asks the pertinent questions, and is (in its last paragraph) the source of the metaphor mentioned in our title.

For more skepticism about the official narrative, see also this item from American Thinker.

One place you should always check regarding matters naval is Information Dissemination. Galrahn’s post pushes back against some of the more hawkish reactions we’ve been seeing.

The New York Times beams approvingly, as one might imagine. The world is just a safer, happier place, now that the United States and Iran are BFFs, and the genial resolution of this affair is only our first glimpse of the broad, sunny uplands that now lie before us.

Before I go, here’s something to keep in mind with regard to political sympathies, presidential campaigns, and Mideast affairs. (I am not in a position to develop this in any depth for you, as I’m finding it hard even to type right now.)

The Saudis and Iran, to put it mildly, do not love one another. While Barack Obama, John Kerry, and the Iranian-born Valerie Jarrett gaze wooingly into Tehran’s eyes, and stuff its pockets with cash, it’s safe to say that the dulcifying effects of that great plume of oxytocin have not reached Riyadh.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, her husband, the international money-laundering and influence-peddling syndicate known as the Clinton Foundation, and Mrs. Clinton’s right-hand gal Huma Abedin all have deep connections with the Saudis.

The lifting of sanctions on Iran, and the sudden improvement of its financials, changes at a stroke the power-balance in the region. It is reasonable to assume that both Iran and the Saudis have mercantile access to nuclear weapons if they want, through various third parties, and this windfall for Iran, and large-scale resumption of its commercial dealings with external players, should have an immediate, and complicating, effect on the game of Mideast power.

In my diminished state, I really haven’t much more to say about all this for now. I just thought these things were worth mentioning.

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The Kindness of Strangers

Just got a package from Amazon containing a CD by the rock band Clutch. I have no idea who sent it to me, but I do get the occasional item in the mail from readers (mostly books).

Anyway, thanks, whoever you are. This is not exactly the sort of thing I usually listen to, but it’s a nice gesture. Between the effects of the surgery itself, and all the drugs I’m taking, I have a very hard time thinking in a straight line for more than a few minutes at a time (or, for that matter, even staying awake), and listening to music is one of the few things I can manage.

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Service Notice

OK, off for knee-revision surgery at 4:30. Back in harness before too long, I expect. At the very least I’ll post something, just as “proof of life”, as soon as I am able.

If not, carry on! The barbarians are at the gates.

Update, January 13th: I’m back home, but completely knackered. It was a sanguinary four-hour procedure, and I have some blood to manufacture before I’ll have the energy to do much of anything.

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David Bowie, 1947-2016

I was shocked and saddened to read this morning that David Bowie has died of cancer at age 69. He was one of the greatest artists of my age. He touched nothing that he did not adorn.

I consider myself enormously fortunate to have had a slight personal acquaintance with Mr. Bowie. (I met him first at Power Station Studios, where he was working on his 1983 album Let’s Dance, and later spent several weeks in 1986 in the engineer’s chair during the making of his album Never Let Me Down.)

He was a man of superior qualities in nearly every way: intelligent, witty, elegant, literate, well-mannered — and of course, flamboyantly, coruscatingly talented. He was also that rarest of things in top-tier celebrities: considerate of others. (As an example of this, while we were making Never Let Me Down on a tight schedule, he realized he had inadvertently booked an important session on Thanksgiving Day. To make up for it he took the lovely Nina and me out for a delightful evening on the town a few days later. I can’t think of another person in his position who would have done such a thing.)

In short, the man was, perhaps above all, a gentleman. I, and the civilization he decorated so brilliantly, will miss him forever.

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Dead Man Walking

I don’t know if you’ve been following this crazy Sean-Penn-El-Chapo story, but what an incredible dope Sean Penn is: The Man Who Got El Chapo Arrested. He will now have every neck-tattooed La Santa Muerte gang-banger south of the Rio Grande hunting him down until the end of his days. I reckon that at this point it would take about a hundred of this idiot’s lives to make one plugged nickel.

Do we have a Witless Protection Program?

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An Onomastic Oversight

In a post a few months ago, while developing a metaphor involving collapsing stars, I commented on the vulnerabilities of the load-bearing structures that support a civilization’s weight:

Given that what gives a culture its form is essentially ‘memetic’ — an aggregation of ideas, lore, mythos, history, music, religion, duties, obligations, affinities, and aversions shared by a common people — an advanced civilization is subject to corrosion and decomposition by ideas. And the most corrosive of all such reagents in the modern world is one that our own culture bequeathed to itself in the Enlightenment: the elevation of skepsis to our highest intellectual principle.

Radical doubt, as it turns out, is a “universal acid”: given enough time, there is no container that can hold it. Once doubt is in control, there is no premise, no tradition, nor even any God that it cannot dissolve. Once it has burned its way through theism, telos, and the intrinsic holiness of the sacred, leaving behind a only a dessicated naturalism, its action on the foundations of culture accelerates briskly, as there is little left to resist it.

Because it is in the nature of doubt to dissolve axioms, the consequence of the Enlightenment is that all of a civilization’s theorems ultimately become unprovable. This is happening before our eyes. The result is chaos, and collapse.

Some time earlier, in the wake of the Boston bombings, I had also cooked up another metaphoric description of the lethal memetic pathogen affecting the West. I called it Cultural Immunodeficiency Virus, or CIV. (See here.)

Somehow, though, an obvious coinage escaped me until just now. If HIV causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a.k.a. ‘AIDS’, then the disease now killing Europe — which is caused, as described above, by CIV, a universal memetic acid — has an obvious name: Acquired Cultural Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or ‘ACIDS’. (We might prefer ‘ACID Syndrome’.)

I hereby bequeath this meme to the dissident Right, free of charge.

How I could have missed this for so long escapes me. As they say down South, if it was a snake, it would’ve bit me.

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Many Roads. One Summit?

Over at Maverick Philosopher, Bill Vallicella has taken on the question, raised by a disciplinary action at Wheaton College, of whether Christians and Muslims worship the “same God”.

I’m not a religious believer myself, but over the past decade or so the naive atheism of my earlier years has withered away to a sympathetic agnosticism, and I have come, far too late, to a mature understanding of the importance and value (and in a Darwinian sense, the adaptive value) of religion in human affairs. (A separate, and diffident, post on the concept known as “Mount Stupid” is probably in order here, but I’ll save that for another day.) Bill addresses here an important religious and social question that is also a vexing and technical philosophical one involving the nature of reference.

Right now you could just go to the Maverick Philosopher homepage and work your way down, but after reading Bill’s posts it seems particularly apt, in order to to keep the reference “successful”, to link them as particulars. So, in chronological order, they are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. (And there’s also a podcast, featuring Bill discussing all of the above with philosopher Dale Tuggy.)

The series, which among other things examines the “same-God” question for a variety of different belief systems, is becoming quite a philosophical tour de force, and is a fine example of reason in action. It’s a lot to read, and somewhat technical, but some of you will, I’m sure, find it fascinating.

PS: As I’ve studied Islam and its history over the years, my own answer to the “same-God”question has become a firmer and firmer “no”. The reasons are, in essence, the ones that Bill dissects here. I thank him for dissecting and explaining them with a clarity and precision that I never could have managed. (This is the difference between the professional and the amateur.)

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Friday Miscellany

Sorry for another grab-bag post, but even with all that’s going on in the U.S. and abroad I just don’t have the “bandwidth” to do much writing at the moment. (It may not be until I’ve recovered a bit from Monday’s surgery that things will get back to normal around here.) I’m also so fatigued with politics and this tottering society that it’s hard for me to gin up any enthusiasm right now for discussing it; my attention is on family, work, and getting ready for next week. So, with a hat tip to the tireless Bill Keezer for some of these links, here’s another salmagundi (it is, I confess, a pretty dark one):

‣   That darned ice!

‣   Why cash matters.

‣   Diana West argues, pace Mark Levin and Andrew McCarthy, that Ted Cruz’s standing as a “natural-born” candidate is a legitimate question.

‣   The penalties behind the Oregon brouhaha. I’ve written before about the problem of overcriminalization; I’ll recommend again Douglas Husak’s excellent book on the subject.

‣   Speaking of books, I’ll also recommend Thomas Sowell’s scathing The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, which I’ve just read. (Thomas Sowell is now 85 years old, and I hope he’s taking very good care of himself.)

‣   If you’ve been thinking Europe is in serious trouble these days, you’re mistaken. Europe is not in trouble, it’s dying. We are watching the highest civilization that human history has ever produced commit suicide.

‣   While we are on the topic, here’s a sharp item on this slow, corrosive, and apparently inexorable jihad, written by “Kafir” over at Gates of Vienna. (I’m really starting to wish my own daughter didn’t live in Vienna.) GoV has been in fine form lately, so browse the homepage too.

‣   Here, too, is a hot and rousing post by Mark Steyn on the ostentatious “solidarity” expressed for the Charlie Hebdo massacre, both at the time and on its recent anniversary. This is, I think, one of the best things Steyn’s ever written, and that’s saying something. Read it and boil.

‣   Also, we had another example of the blessings of Islam — the gift that keeps on giving — in Philadelphia yesterday, where a jihadist attempted to execute a police officer. (The officer was badly wounded, but survived.) To steal a phrase from our political clerisy, we also got a “teachable moment”: a textbook example of Auster’s First Law of Majority-Minority Relations in Liberal Society, which says:

The worse any designated minority or alien group behaves in a liberal society, the bigger become the lies of Political Correctness in covering up for that group.

In this case, the jihadi proudly declared his motive; about this there appears to be no dispute. He announced that he was acting in the name of Islam. Nevertheless, Philadelphia’s mayor, Jim Kenney, who clearly imagines us all to be imbeciles, assures us that this assault “does not represent this religion in any way shape or form or any of its teachings … It has nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith.”

Read that a time or two, friends. Roll it around in your mind. Think of how a person’s mind must be configured to utter such a thing. Ask yourself: who might actually be better acquainted with the Koran and the “teachings” of Islam — the Irish, Catholic Mayor of Philadelphia, or a dedicated Muslim who has has made the teachings of Islam his universe, and who has probably read the Koran many times over? Next, ask yourself, after consulting 1,400 years of history and the latest news from Europe, whether violence against the kuffar is not “in any shape or form” a manifestation of the teachings of Islam? (In other words, ask yourself this: who are you going to believe, Jim Kenney, or your lyin’ brain?)

Then reflect again on Auster’s law, pour yourself a stiff one, and drink to the memory of the West.

Well, that’s enough for now. There are some topics I’d like to dig into more deeply, including our “new normal” government-by-executive-caprice, of which President Obama’s latest gun-control ukase is just the latest example, and the deep and disturbing ties that connect the Hillary Clinton to the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, but I think this will have to do for today.

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Still Here

Sorry about the quiet spell here, readers. Our lovely daughter (newly betrothed!) has been visiting us from Vienna over the “hols”, and it’s been good to disconnect from the wider world for a couple of weeks.

I’m sorry to say, also, that another hiatus is coming up soon. Some of you may remember that I had my left knee replaced last March. As it turns out the thing was botched: the end of my femur was apparently sawed off at the wrong angle, and so my lower leg is crooked by nine degrees or so (what the boffins call a “valgus deformity”). This is so far outside acceptable mechanical tolerances that I am having the job completely redone this coming Monday, and no doubt will again be as beaten-up and drug-addled as I was for several weeks the first time round.

It’s a pity, not least because there’s so much to comment on at the moment — from continuing chaos abroad, to Barack Obama’s petulant gestures and insulting remarks about “gun control” here at home — and normally I’d be raring to go after such a good long break. (I’ve also been doing some interesting reading.) But this thing needs doing, and I am glad to be getting it over with. I’ll be very busy this week getting my affairs in order at work, wrapping up the recording project I started last month, and attending to other clamant obligations, but will post as time permits. Thanks to all.

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Happy New Year!

Here comes 2016. Buckle up!

Thanks again to all of you for reading and commenting.

This & That

This intercalary week is always a good time for a change of pace, and with all that’s been going on in the local physical world, I’ve hardly glanced at the computer for the past few days. (It’s been nice.) Even better, I’ve managed to pay almost no attention at all to the news.

Finding myself with a few moments alone today, though, I thought I’d take the time to post some of the miscellany that’s been accumulating around here. Let’s see what we have…

For starters, here are a nice online simulator of a classic drum machine, and some footage of a very large squid.

I’ve been saying for a while now that 3-D printing is going to be a world-changing technology. The technology is still in its infancy, though — think of presonal computing in the 1980’s — so it still isn’t on most peoples’ radar. With a hat-tip to the indefatigable JK, here’s an article about what we might expect from this nascent technology.

It’s Kwanzaa! Here’s the heart-warming back-story of this special holiday.

From Puerto Rico, more tragic evidence that we must find a common-sense way to deny the police such easy access to guns.

Over the transom the other day came an email from Barack Obama. The greeting was calculated to strike terror in the heart of those with any lingering fondness for the traditional American nation:

Malcolm —

I’ve got 12 months left to squeeze every ounce of change I can while I’m still in office. And that’s what I intend to do.

Charles Cooke offers some commentary on all that “change”, here.

Here is an excellent fisking of some typical climate-change propaganda. This is what we are up against, folks.

Oh, also, just saw this, from Ban-Ki Moon, on the Paris climate agreement:

“We have to do as science dictates.”

Yes, that’s from the Secretary General of the United Nations, folks. That amazing remark probably deserves a post of its own (if not a book). For now, though, I’ll just plop it out there. (Paging Bill Vallicella!)

From the New York Times, a sad story of a woman’s wrongful death. File under “Fantasy vs. Reality”:

Farkhunda’s death and the legal system’s response call into question more than a decade of Western efforts in Afghanistan to instill a rule of law and improve the status of women. The United States alone has spent more than $1 billion to train lawyers and judges and to improve legal protections for women; European countries have provided tens of millions more.

But like so many other Western attempts to remake Afghanistan, the efforts have foundered, according to Afghan and Western lawyers and officials. Afghan society has resisted more than 150 years of such endeavors by outsiders, from the British to the Russians to the Americans. This remains a country where ties of kinship and clan trump justice, and where the money brought by the West has made corruption into a way of life. The rule-of-law programs were often designed in ignorance of Afghan legal norms, international and Afghan lawyers say. And Western efforts to lift women’s legal status provoked fierce resentment from powerful religious figures and many ordinary Afghans.

No worries, though: settle them over here in their thousands and millions, and the Magic Dirt of the West will lift the scales from their eyes.

Let’s see… what else… oh yes: we were visiting with some friends the other day, and they were swooning, in all the right ways, over Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book, Between the World and Me. I’ve read some of this book, and it is appallingly bad. Pusillanimous, paranoid, and petulant, the book manages simultaneously to insult, and condescend to, not only whites (by saying, explicitly and often, that their very existence as a people depends exclusively upon their domination of “black bodies”), but also blacks (by denying them all agency and responsibility) and the American nation itself (for the success of which enterprise Mr. Coates makes the audacious claim that slavery was both necessary and sufficient). Despite (or because) all of that, the book has become a sacred text in white liberal circles, and I’ve already discovered that failure to make conspicuous obeisances to it or its author, should either come up in genteel conversation, is to have one’s own virtue called seriously into question. So, rather than attract further opprobrium by further comment, I’ll just direct you, for the sake of balance, to reviews of this thing by (in ascending order of social radioactivity) Anthony Daniels (a.k.a. “Theodore Dalrymple”), Steve Sailer, and Jared Taylor.

That’s enough for now, I think. Back again soon.

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Service Notice

On a little holiday break with family. Back soon.

Also, sorry about the outage yesterday (if any of you noticed).

A Ghost of Christmas Past

It being Christmas Eve, earlier this evening I found myself humming the “Christmastime Is Here” song from the old Charlie Brown Christmas special. (The show originally aired in 1965, when I was nine, and Vince Guaraldi’s beautiful score has stayed with me ever since.)

The tune got me thinking about the show itself, which is about the secularization and commercialization of Christmas. It falls to Linus, at the end of the show, to explain what the holiday is “really all about”. He does so by quoting the King James Bible:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.”

“…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

That was fifty years ago this December. I wonder if such a thing would be approved for production today.

But enough of that for now. A very merry Christmas to you all!

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Headlights On For Safety

I’ve written before about the transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom. His work is concerned with the long-term prospects of the human race, with particular interest in the future of artificial intelligence, and its perils. In these pages we’ve mentioned his suggestion that we might already be living in a computer simulation (see here and here), as well as his thoughts on the “Great Filter” — to wit, whatever it is that has apparently, so far, prevented intelligent life from spreading to very corner of the galaxy. (Here.) We’ve even touched on one of the more exotic, and disturbing, ideas to bubble up out of AI speculation, namely “Roko’s Basilisk”. (Some would say I am putting you at risk even by mentioning it, but here you go. Caveat lector.)

Anyway, Nick Bostrom is a very intelligent man who thinks about very interesting things. Now he is the subject of a substantial article at the New Yorker that I think would be well worth your time. In particular, an embedded video gives a clear and chilling metaphor for the general idea of memetic hazard, which alone will be worth your trip. (See the “Roko’s Basilisk” post, linked above, for other examples.)

When I was at Singularity University a few years back, one of the lecturers said something to the effect of: “If you can see the road ahead of you, you aren’t going fast enough”. Nick Bostrom, very wisely I think, wants better headlights.

Read the article here.

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Build This

Here is “The Khaleesi“, a proposed skyscraper for West 57th Street in Manhattan. A tower for our times, I think.

We Are The Enemy

Headline at Salon today:

White men must be stopped: The very future of mankind depends on it

Salon is not a “fringe” publication. (Would that it were.) Apparently it has no qualms about declaring race war.

As Saul Alinsky said in his Rule 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Comparisons to the presentation of the Jews in German media during the 1930s will not be inapt.

The difference — and one that the author of the Salon piece and his ilk may eventually wish they had borne in mind — is that white American males, overwhelmingly, are the ones who build, maintain, grow, and transport everything that the coastal Eloi depend upon for their continuing existence. And unlike the epicene journalists and academics calling for their subjugation, the aforementioned white American males own the world’s largest privately held arsenal, and if pressed to the wall, will use it. Should Salon and its readership ever seek to make their dream a reality, their adventure will be brief.

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Graveyard Of Empires

Today we learned that six U.S. soldiers were killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

In today’s NightWatch newsletter, analyst John McCreary wrote:

Afghanistan: The deputy governor of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan said that the Taliban seized the police headquarters in Sangin District center, with fighting continuing.

Deputy governor Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar warned that the province itself could fall because of a lack of central government support. He said at least 90 soldiers had been killed in the latest fighting.

He said, “Helmand will collapse to the enemies and it’s not like Kunduz, where we could launch an operation from the airport to retake it. That is just impossible and a dream.”

Rasoulyar used a Facebook post to appeal to President Ghani for direct intervention in the province. “Be quick and act on this! Protect Helmand from this life and death situation and distance yourself from the circle of those lawyers who tell you everything is OK and the situation is normal,” he wrote.;

Comment: The provincial authorities have been warning the central government for weeks about the danger. News services reported that Western special forces teams have been deployed to Helmand. They should be capable of preventing the loss of the district offices, but most of Helmand already is under Taliban control.

The Taliban know the Western special forces cannot stay because they will be needed elsewhere. They also know that foreign special forces can win every clash, but cannot defeat the Taliban. They know that the Afghan forces cannot stand on their own.

The Taliban remain patient. They are still following Mullah Omar’s strategy to never make peace with the government; infiltrate and destroy the government from within; and wait for the foreigners to leave.

In 2015, they achieved more success than in any prior year. They are not yet ready and able to govern, but they are getting closer.

Six years ago this month, after Barack Obama made a speech announcing an eighteen-month extension of the American force commitment in Afghanistan, I wrote:

I watched the President’s speech last night. It was not encouraging. It had something for everyone: escalation for the hawks; an exit date for the doves; the usual rot about “distorting and defiling a great religion”, to keep the Muslims off the streets; some bean-counting for the frugal; some American exceptionalism for the true believers; some mulitilateralism for the rest; a little torture-and-Gitmo-loathing for the base; and to wrap up, some right-makes-might for moral uplift.

The problem is that the situation is impossible; there simply are no good options. Never have I felt more pessimistic.

In brief:

If we leave, the Taliban will overrun the country again, al-Qaeda will set up shop as before, and nuclear-armed Pakistan will totter. The world will know, with certainty this time, that America (and the West generally) is a fickle ally that has no real stomach for a fight. As night falls, those in Afghanistan who have put their trust in us will find they have backed the wrong horse, and they will pay. The brave women and girls who have risked all just to go to school, to read a book — and who have been, for their trouble, beaten and murdered and burned with acid — will be ground into dust.

If we stay, we will never “win”. Afghanistan will be our tar-baby forever. We will never install a functioning democracy there, or a government free of corruption, or a reliable military dedicated to its preservation: these things cannot be done, any more than you can teach wolves to knit, or make butter from stones. We will fight and spend and bleed and die there forever.

Recognizing that we are now of modest means, and so cannot afford to hold our tar-baby forever, we have announced that we will begin leaving in the middle of 2011. This makes things easy for the Taliban, who have all the time in the world; they simply need to harass us patiently for 18 months, and then, as we step back, they will step forward.

We fight an enemy that is utterly unafraid to die, but we, good souls that we truly are, are afraid to kill. Our military is by far — by light-years — the strongest, best-trained, best-equipped, most sophisticated fighting force the world has ever seen; no enemy on Earth could hope to face us in full-scale conflict and live. But no army has ever won a war this way. Neither will we.

So: We have three options, none good:

A) We can leave now. B) We can stay and bleed forever. C) We can stay and bleed for 18 months, then leave anyway. (The fourth option, to cry “Havoc!”, and unleash our colossal war machine in all its incandescent fury, is not an option.)

Since I wrote this, over 1,400 more Americans have died in Afghanistan. Many more have been maimed. We have spent the better part of a trillion dollars on the Afghan campaign alone, much of which has gone into the pockets of warlords, politicians, and other profiteers, and another substantial portion of which is simply unaccounted for.

As we look back on all of this, what can we say we have achieved? What have we achieved in Libya? In Syria? In Iraq, which at least was once under our control, but is now fragmented and failing? What has our foreign policy, military or otherwise, achieved in any part of the Muslim world?

What ought we to learn from this?

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Geometry

Tomorrow we come to the solstice again, where the great wheel of the seasons pauses, for an instant, at top dead center. I went for a walk at sunset this evening. It was very still.

I’ll be sixty in the spring. How strange it is to be a line, in a circular world.

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Peace On WhoseTerms?

With a hat-tip to our friend Jeffery Hodges, here is a reminder that if Islam is a “religion of peace”, it is only the peace of submission, of surrender, of captivity.

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Stockholm Syndrome

Writing for the Gatestone Institute, Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist describes the situation in her homeland — which for most of my lifetime was the holotype and exemplar of the advanced, peacable modern Western nation — as it sinks into darkness and disorder, thanks to its mass importation of wholly alien, mostly Muslim, immigrants.

Swedish citizens, like so many others in a rudely awakened Europe, now seek to arm themselves — which is no easy task in an Eloi nation where even sleeping with a baseball bat under the bed can apparently get you into legal trouble for being “prepared to use force”. Can there be any better example of the exhaustion and etiolation of a once-vigorous people? How can any human population survive when it forbids itself by law to defend its own women and children?

Speaking of Sweden’s women, they get the short straw in this anything-but-Brave New World:

Since the Parliament decided in 1975 that Sweden should be multicultural and not Swedish, crime has exploded. Violent crime has increased by more than 300%, and rapes have increased by an unbelievable 1,472%.

Read the whole thing here. As the world burns, it is harder and harder — especially in the wake of the recent synod of climate Houyhnhnms in Paris — to look at the modern West, or at least the anointed in charge of it, as anything but completely insane.

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Speed Bump

Self-driving cars, like 3-D printing, are a promising technology with quite a way to go before achieving their transformative potential. (See our post on one of the ethical questions they raise, here.)

An item published yesterday at Bloomberg Business describes a hard problem the people designing them must face: how fast should the cars go? If they obey the law, and poke along at the speed limit, then on most busy highways, where human drivers are whizzing along quite a bit faster, they are a moving obstacle, and are likely to cause accidents. But are we going to program these things to break the law?

I’ve always thought the biggest problem with these robot cars was going to be sharing the road with humans. If we could just switch over all at once, getting all the humans off the roads, then the autonomous cars could really shine: they could zoom down the highway in close formation, at high speeds. Traffic jams caused by accidents, volume, and rubbernecking would be a thing of the past. But that’s not about to happen; you won’t see mass acceptance of driverless cars until people see that they are safe and advantageous, and that wont happen until they’ve been out on the roads for a while. (This being ‘Murica, also, there’s going to be an awful lot of push-back from people who just love driving, like me.) But because the cars can’t really show themselves at their best until they have the roads to themselves, there’s a bit of a hump to get over.

Also, this issue points out something seriously wrong, that anyone who drives a lot will have thought about: if everybody’s driving ten or fifteen miles above the speed limit all the time, the obvious thing to do is to raise the speed limit, and then actually to enforce it. Having a law that everyone ignores just destroys respect for the law.

But we knew that already, I guess; in contemporary America, that’s just how we roll. Respect for, and consistent application of, the nation’s laws seems frightfully quaint these days.

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Separated At Birth?

Just saying…

 

Read More »

Homer Nods

It’s amazing how hard it is to proofread your own stuff. I just saw a glaring typo in the first line of a recent post; it sat there for more than a day before I spotted it. (If you didn’t see it, too late; it’s fixed.) It ruined the whole flow of the line, and I must have looked right at it dozens of times before posting.

Ah well. As Arthur said in The Once and Future King:

“If people reach perfection they vanish, you know.”

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Just You Wait

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but this stuff is going to be big. Call your broker.

Can We Talk?

During last night’s debate Carly Fiorina, whose chances are roughly equal for the Republican nomination and Prva HNL Player of the Year, suggested that we ought to make her President because she’s a woman.

Let’s leave aside the reaction were a male candidate to try such a thing, and try to get the gist of her message — which can only be that women, qua women, are generally different from men in ways that matter.

Brava! Braviss’!! What a thing to say, in these times! All of us here on the Dissident Right completely agree. So now, if we accept her premise, we can focus on the job she’s applying for, analyze its requirements, and decide whether it’s the sort of job we’d really want a woman for. That is to say, maybe we do! — and maybe we don’t, but at least now that Ms. Fiorina’s cleared the way, we can consider this question openly, and without fear of opprobrium.

And it isn’t just Ms. Fiorina: Hillary Clinton helped to blaze the trail too, just a few weeks ago at the Democratic debate. When asked how she’d be different from President Obama, she gave one of those “Duh” looks and said: “I’m a woman!!!”

So we have it on real authority here — actual Presidential timber even — that our own intuitions on this topic, not to mention the wisdom of the ages and the traditions of every society that has ever existed anywhere on Earth throughout all of human history, were right all along. (Sure, it’s surprising, because how often does that happen these days, but it’s really good to know.)

While we’re on the subject, attentive readers of the news will recall that just the other day the Department of Defense announced a major expansion of the role of women in combat operations. (Actually, you might not have noticed, because for some reason I can’t fathom, the White House chose the day after the San Bernardino jihad to drop this major story.)

We’ve commented on this sort of thing before, but in this giddy new climate of openness about the glorious differences between the sexes, I expect people will now feel freer than ever to point out the many reasons why this is such a stupendously awful idea. Like:

‣   Women can’t perform at anything like the physical level men can under battle conditions;

‣   Women are far more easily injured or disabled by physical attack, and by the hazards and stresses of combat duty;

‣   Given the points above, units will now worry about their new “weakest links” (experienced soldiers know, as one once told me, that women “cause drama”).

‣   Recruiting valiant young men will be far harder once the ground-combat unit is no longer a sacred warrior Mannerbund, but something more like the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, whose purpose seems more to be the self-actualization of women and sexual misfits than victory in battle;

‣   Male soldiers of the traditional type will be torn between protecting their female comrades and unleashing fury upon the enemy;

‣   There will be sexual affairs and rivalries within units, lowering cohesion;

‣   All the usual PC prissiness regarding crass humor, “offensive” remarks, and the myriad other ways males relieve stress amongst themselves will immediately go into effect, lowering morale;

‣   Intra-unit “beefs” will not be soluble by the most ancient and effective of means, namely duking it out;

‣   Promotions will inevitably arouse resentful suspicions of “affirmative action”, further lowering morale and unit cohesion;

‣   Pregnancies, already a big problem in the military, will interfere with unit deployments;

‣   The suspicion (and frequent reality) of sexual infidelities will corrode military marriages.

I could go on and on, of course, but you get the picture. (Or, to capture the tone of the current campaign: “Terrible, terrible idea. A complete mess! I mean just really a total disaster.”)

But how nice to be able to speak frankly about all of this, now that brave Carly and Hillary have paved the way!

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It Don’t Mean A Thing?

Here’s an interesting item: a novel gait identified in Russian officials. Learn more here.

Nose : Grindstone

Done with the weekend’s sessions, but still swamped with work.

All I’ve managed to post over the past few days has been a few comments over at Maverick Philosopher, where a discussion of “tribalism” continues, here.

Back soon.

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Service Notice

Recording sessions all weekend. Talk amongst yourselves.

The All-Union Academy Of Climate Sciences

Yesterday the United States Senate held a hearing on the magnitude of human impact on climate change. Giving testimony were some Actual Climate Scientists. I would like very much for you to read and carefully digest their testimony. I will excerpt some of it here, in what will be a longish post — but please, dear readers, take the time to follow the links and read it all.

One of those who testified was Dr. Judith Curry. She submitted a written paper, but she also spoke. I reproduce her remarks below in full:

I thank the Chairman and the Committee for the opportunity to offer testimony today.

Prior to 2009, I felt that supporting the IPCC consensus on climate change was the responsible thing to do. I bought into the argument: “Don’t trust what one scientist says, trust what an international team of a thousand scientists has said, after years of careful deliberation.” That all changed for me in November 2009, following the leaked Climategate emails, that illustrated the sausage making and even bullying that went into building the consensus.

I starting speaking out, saying that scientists needed to do better at making the data and supporting information publicly available, being more transparent about how they reached conclusions, doing a better job of assessing uncertainties, and actively engaging with scientists having minority perspectives. The response of my colleagues to this is summed up by the title of a 2010 article in the Scientific American: Climate Heretic Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues.

I came to the growing realization that I had fallen into the trap of groupthink. I had accepted the consensus based on 2nd order evidence: the assertion that a consensus existed. I began making an independent assessment of topics in climate science that had the most relevance to policy.

What have I concluded from this assessment?

Human caused climate change is a theory in which the basic mechanism is well understood, but whose magnitude is highly uncertain. No one questions that surface temperatures have increased overall since 1880, or that humans are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, or that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have a warming effect on the planet. However there is considerable uncertainty and disagreement about the most consequential issues: whether the warming has been dominated by human causes versus natural variability, how much the planet will warm in the 21st century, and whether warming is ‘dangerous’.

The central issue in the scientific debate on climate change is the extent to which the recent (and future) warming is caused by humans versus natural climate variability. Research effort and funding has focused on understanding human causes of climate change. However we have been misled in our quest to understand climate change, by not paying sufficient attention to natural causes of climate change, in particular from the sun and from the long-term oscillations in ocean circulations.

Why do scientists disagree about climate change? The historical data is sparse and inadequate. There is disagreement about the value of different classes of evidence, notably the value of global climate models. There is disagreement about the appropriate logical framework for linking and assessing the evidence. And scientists disagree over assessments of areas of ambiguity and ignorance.

How then, and why, have climate scientists come to a consensus about a very complex scientific problem that the scientists themselves acknowledge has substantial and fundamental uncertainties?

Climate scientists have become entangled in an acrimonious political debate that has polarized the scientific community. As a result of my analyses that challenge IPCC conclusions, I have been called a denier by other climate scientists, and most recently by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. My motives have been questioned by Representative Grijalva, in a recent letter sent to the President of Georgia Tech.

There is enormous pressure for climate scientists to conform to the so-called consensus. This pressure comes not only from politicians, but from federal funding agencies, universities and professional societies, and scientists themselves who are green activists. Reinforcing this consensus are strong monetary, reputational, and authority interests.

In this politicized environment, advocating for CO2 emissions reductions is becoming the default, expected position for climate scientists. This advocacy extends to the professional societies that publish journals and organize conferences. Policy advocacy, combined with understating the uncertainties, risks destroying science’s reputation for honesty and objectivity – without which scientists become regarded as merely another lobbyist group.

I would like to thank the committee for raising the issue of data versus dogma in support of improving the integrity of climate science.

This concludes my testimony.

From Dr. Curry’s paper (which is here):

Regarding historical data:

Global surface temperature anomalies since 1850 are shown below:

 
If the warming since 1950 was caused by humans, what caused the warming during the period 1910–1945? The period 1910-1945 comprises over 40% of the warming since 1900, but is associated with only 10% of the carbon dioxide increase since 1900. Clearly, human emissions of greenhouse gases played little role in causing this early warming. The mid-century period of slight cooling from 1945 to 1975, referred to as the ‘grand hiatus’, also has not been satisfactorily explained.

Apart from these unexplained variations in 20th century temperatures, there is evidence that the global climate has been warming overall for the past 200 years, or even longer… Humans contributed little if anything to this early global warming.

Regarding the “pause” (my emphasis):

The warming hiatus, or ‘pause’, reflects a slowdown of the rate of warming in the early 21st century, relative to the rapid rate of warming in the last quarter of the 20th century. The 2013 IPCC AR5 Report12 made the following statement: “the rate of warming over the past 15 years . . . is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951”.

The significance of a reduced rate of warming since 1998 is that during this period, 25% of human emissions of carbon dioxide have occurred. Most significantly, the observed rate of warming in the early 21st century was slower than climate model predictions. The growing discrepancy between climate model predictions and the observations has raised serious questions about the climate models that are being used as the basis for national and international energy and climate policies.

Regarding sea ice:

The IPCC AR5 states that the increase in Antarctic sea ice is not understood and is not simulated correctly by climate models. Further, Arctic surface temperature anomalies in the 1930’s were nearly as large as the recent temperature anomalies, and hence the IPCC uses the weak phrase ‘contributed to’ in reference to anthropogenic influences on Arctic sea ice.

A recent paper by Swart et al.19 emphasized that internal climate variability can mask or enhance human induced sea-ice loss on timescales ranging from years to decades or even a century…

Clearly, there is a lot going on with respect to variability in Arctic and Antarctic sea ice that cannot be explained solely by warming from human-caused greenhouse gases. Climate models do not simulate correctly the ocean heat transport and its variations. Scientists do not agree on the explanation for the increasing Antarctic sea ice extent, and the key issue as to whether human-caused warming is the dominant cause of the recent Arctic sea ice loss remains unresolved.

Nevertheless, the IPCC AR5 concluded:

“[I]t is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin all year round during the 21st century. It is also likely that the Arctic Ocean will become nearly ice-free in September before the middle of the century (medium confidence).”

Regarding sea levels:

The IPCC AR5 … concludes:

“It is very likely that there is a substantial contribution from anthropogenic forcings to the global mean sea level rise since the 1970s.”

Global sea level has been rising for the past several thousand years. The key issue is whether the rate of sea level rise is accelerating owing to anthropogenic global warming. It is seen that the rate of rise during 1920-1950 was comparable to, if not larger than, the value in recent years (a period contributing less than 10% of the human caused CO2 emissions since 1900). Hence the data does not seem to support the IPCC’s conclusion of a substantial contribution from anthropogenic forcings to the global mean sea level rise since the 1970s.

There is much more; Dr. Curry’s paper is the longest and most technical of the three I have linked to here. She goes on to discuss CO2 sensitivity, and the inaccuracy, to date, of climate models. She concludes with a section entitled “The broken social contract between climate science and society”. Read it all.

Also testifying was Dr. John R. Christy. His presentation is here. In case you have any doubts about his Actual Climate Science credentials, here’s his summary thereof:

I am John R. Christy, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Alabama’s State Climatologist and Director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of
Alabama in Huntsville. I have served as a Lead Author, Contributing Author and Reviewer of United Nations IPCC assessments, have been awarded NASA’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, and in 2002 was elected a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

Regarding modeling:

A fundamental aspect of the scientific method is that if we say we understand a system (such as the climate system) then we should be able to predict its behavior. If we are unable to make accurate predictions, then at least some of the factors in the system are not well defined or perhaps even missing…

Do we understand how greenhouse gases affect the climate, i.e. the link between emissions and climate effects? A very basic metric for climate studies is the temperature of the bulk atmospheric layer known as the troposphere, roughly from the surface to 50,000 ft altitude. This is the layer that, according to models, should warm significantly as CO2 increases – even faster than the surface. Unlike the surface temperature, this bulk temperature informs us regarding the crux of the global warming question – how much heat is accumulating in the global atmosphere? And, this CO2 caused warming should be easily detectible by now, according to models. This provides a good test of how well we understand the climate system because since 1979 we have had two independent means of monitoring this layer – satellites from above and balloons with thermometers released from the surface…

 
The information in this figure provides clear evidence that the models have a strong tendency to over-warm the atmosphere relative to actual observations. On average the models warm the global atmosphere at a rate three times that of the real world. This is not a short-term, specially-selected episode, but represents the past 37 years, over a third of a century. This is also the period with the highest concentration of greenhouse gases and thus the period in which the response should be of largest magnitude.

Using the scientific method we would conclude that the models do not accurately represent at least some of the important processes that impact the climate because they were unable to “predict” what has already occurred. In other words, these models failed at the simple test of telling us “what” has already happened, and thus would not be in a position to give us a confident answer to “what” may happen in the future and “why.” As such, they would be of highly questionable value in determining policy that should depend on a very confident understanding of how the climate system works.

Regarding the effectiveness of proposed regulations (my emphasis):

The impact on global temperature for current and proposed reductions in greenhouse gases will be tiny. To demonstrate this, let us assume, for example, that the total
emissions from the United States were reduced to zero, as of last May 13th, 2015 (the date of the last congressional hearing on which I testified). In other words as of that day and going forward, there would be no industry, no cars, no utilities, no people – i.e. the United States would cease to exist as of that day.
Regulations, of course will only hope to reduce emissions a small amount, but to make the point of how minuscule the regulatory impact will be, we shall simply go way beyond reality and cause the United States to vanish. With this we shall attempt to answer the question of climate change impact due to emissions reductions.

Using the U.N. IPCC impact tool known as Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change or MAGICC, graduate student Rob Junod and I reduced the projected growth in total global emissions by U.S. emission contribution starting on this date and continuing on. We also used the value of the equilibrium climate sensitivity as determined from empirical techniques of 1.8 °C. After 50 years, the impact as determined by these model calculations would be only 0.05 to 0.08 °C – an amount less than that which the global temperature fluctuates from month to month. [These calculations used emission scenarios A1B-AIM and AIF-MI with U.S. emissions comprising 14 percent to 17 percent of the 2015 global emissions. There is evidence that the climate sensitivity is less than 1.8 °C, which would further lower these projections.]

Because changes in the emissions of our entire country would have such a tiny calculated impact on global climate, it is obvious that fractional reductions in emissions through regulation would produce imperceptible results. In other words, there would be no evidence in the future to demonstrate that a particular climate impact was induced by the proposed and enacted regulations. Thus, the regulations will have no meaningful or useful consequence on the physical climate system – even if one believes climate models are useful tools for prediction.

Did you get that, readers?

Dr. Christy goes on to consider “extreme weather” events, floods and droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and grain production.

He concludes, as did Dr. Curry, with a discussion of the academic climate, where conditions have already become far more inclement than the weather, and the signs far more ominous. His paper is not long. It is well worth your time.

Finally, the Senate panel heard from Mark Steyn, who will be the first to admit that he is not an Actual Climate Scientist. Why was he there? Because he knows from bitter experience the power against which climate dissenters must contend. I won’t excerpt his testimony; it’s Mark Steyn, after all, so you know it will be a good read. His transcript is here.

I think you for taking the time to read all of this. Here’s the point: the Earth may or may not be warming now, and we may or may not be causing it to do so. If we are causing warming, we may be able to adjust our behavior in such a way as to have some effect on the rate of warming. These are all extremely complex empirical questions. We must also decide whether any remedies we might attempt would be worth the costs — which is also a complex question, but unlike the previous questions, is instead a normative one. To make the right decisions, we must do the very best we can to seek objective truth — unimpeded, to the best of our ability as fallible and finite and social beings, by political ends, vested interests, and the call of what substitutes for redemption and salvation in our new, secular religion.

I hope that this testimony will at least make it clear that what we have done so far falls very far short of that goal, and that the science is anything but “settled”.

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Heckuva Job

From the Long War Journal:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a new video featuring a former Guantanamo detainee, Ibrahim Qosi, who is also known as Sheikh Khubayb al Sudani.

In July 2010, Qosi plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and material support for terrorism before a military commission. His plea was part of a deal in which he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors during his remaining time in US custody. Qosi was transferred to his home country of Sudan two years later, in July 2012.

Qosi joined AQAP in 2014 and became one of its leaders. Qosi and other AQAP commanders discussed their time waging jihad at length in the video, entitled “Guardians of Sharia.”

Read the rest here.

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Comic Relief

Darth Trump.

You Had One Job

With a hat tip to our reader Henry, here’s a good piece from Thomas Sowell on Barack Obama’s recent speech from the Oval Office.

Excerpt (my emphasis):

The first responsibility of any government is to protect the people already in the country. Even in this age of an entitlement mentality, no one in a foreign country is entitled to be in America if the American people don’t want them here.

Obama’s talk about how we should not make religious distinctions might make sense if we were talking about handing out entitlements. But we are talking about distinguishing between different populations posing different levels of danger to the American people.

When it comes to matters of life and death, that is no time for the kind of glib, politically correct rhetoric that Barack Obama specializes in.

Obama may think of himself as a citizen of the world, but he was elected President of the United States, not head of a world government, and that does not authorize him to gamble the lives of Americans for the benefit of people in other countries.

The illusion that you can take in large numbers of people from a fundamentally different culture, without jeopardizing your own culture — and everything that depends on it — should have been dispelled by many counterproductive social consequences in Europe, even aside from the fatal dangers of terrorists.

Such good, plain sense. Thomas Sowell is 85 years old. I wish he weren’t.

P.S. I’ll take this opportunity to recommend a book of Dr. Sowell’s that I’m reading at the moment. It’s called The Vision of the Anointed, and is a detailed examination of the Left’s casual relationship with facts. Highly recommended.

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