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  • Memorial Day

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on May 29th, 2016 (All posts by )

    MIkeMedals

    I don’t remember much of the Second World War although I was alive for all of it. I can remember being taught some of the WWII songs, like “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Mairzy Doats.”

    Most of the friends and relatives of military age went in and most returned after it was over. Not all did and the man in Bud Kerrison’s squadron who sent me the medals in the photo, was shot down and killed before I received them.

    theSalute

    Here, I am saluting Bud Kerrison before he went overseas. He had completed bombardier training. He served in the North African Theater and flew 50 missions, from June 1943 to January, 1944. He served in The 301st Bomb Group, 352nd Squadron.

    His B 17 was named by the pilot, “Spirit of Phyllis” after his girlfriend or wife and also after an earlier plane that had crash landed in England, named “Phyllis.”

    Bud's plane

    There is “Phyllis” after the crash landing in England.

    When the war ended, the guys all came home and my parents had parties for them.

    Saloon

    That is one of the parties in 1946. My father is behind the bar and Bud Kerrison is also behind the bar with Pat Neary who would later marry a friend of Bud’s named Frank Flanagan. Frank stayed in Chicago after that although his father had been Chief of Detectives in Philadelphia. Pat’s father was an Inspector in the Chicago PD so they were a police family. I have previously recounted the story of Frank.

    Well, we all get old. Bud did too and is gone now.

    BudKerrison

    There he is with his kids who are now all grown. I would love to have been able to take him up in a B 17 as I did my son for a birthday present a few years ago.

    B 17 nose and Joe

    There’s Joe in what had been Bud’s “office” as Dana Andrews described in in the pivotal scene of “The Best Years of Our Lives. “

     

    Posted in Military Affairs, Personal Narrative | 6 Comments »

    Memorial Day 2016

    Posted by David Foster on May 29th, 2016 (All posts by )

    A powerful and beautifully-done music video:  The war was in color

    Neptunus Lex:  We remember them

    Also from Lex:  A memorial day message from 2004

     

    Posted in History, Holidays, USA, War and Peace | 1 Comment »

    Memorial Day in Luna City

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 29th, 2016 (All posts by )

    (A brief account of Memorial Day in Luna city, from the Second Chronicle of Luna City, which we brought out at the beginning of May, in response to a chorus of pleading from readers who want to know how the cliffhanger at the end of the first Chronicle was resolved.)

    Luna City is well-equipped with military veterans, as are many small towns in fly-over country – especially the old South. The draft is only somewhat responsible for this. After all, it was ended formally more than four decades past. But the habit and tradition of volunteering for military service continues down to this very day, with the result that veterans of various services and eras are thick on the ground in Luna City – while a good few continue as reservists. There are not very many pensioned retirees, though; Clovis Walcott is one of those few, having made a solid Army career in the Corps of Engineers, and then in the same capacity as a Reservist. He is the exception; Lunaites mostly have served a single hitch or two, or for the duration of a wartime mobilization. They come home, pick up those threads of the life they put aside, or weave together the tapestry of a new one. What they did when they were in the military most usually lies lightly on them, sometimes only as skin-deep as a tattoo … and sometimes as deep as a scar.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Society, Current Events, Diversions, Holidays | No Comments »

    Russia’s Long Road to the Middle East

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on May 29th, 2016 (All posts by )

    An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (not behind paywall).

    What caught my eye was this:

    While the U.S. backed Arab monarchies and Israel, the Soviets sided with leftist regimes in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya and South Yemen, which became the Arab world’s only Marxist state.

    Hmm…. what else do these places have in common? Is what is going on over there as much the death throes of communism as the birth of radical islamism? We can see what is happening in Venezuela. Cuba may be able to minimize the effects if it can find a way to generate the tourism and other industries Puerto Rico has not. North Korea will be worst. But the entire Soviet Bloc has not fallen, only the European part.

    Further,

    Russia was too busy trying to prevent the breakup of its own rump post-Soviet state, bloodied by separatist uprisings in Chechnya and other Muslim regions. Mr. Putin successfully pacified those borderlands

    Well, if Russia created the problem, and Russia has demonstrated that it can fix the problem, what is the matter with allowing Russia to do so?

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 6 Comments »

    Keeping Portland Weird

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on May 28th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I recently relocated to Portland and there’s a lot of interesting stuff to see and do here, along with annoyances.

    Pug AT AT

    Pug AT AT at Star Wars Pug Parade in Portland

    I went to a Star Wars themed Pug Parade at a local brewery and this pug dressed as an Imperial AT AT was my favorite. I love the dog’s shy look as it was lavished with attention.

    Didgeridoo Band

    Didgeridoo Band

    This guy plays an amplified Didgeridoo along with a drummer and while it is amusing for the first few minutes it gets old quite quickly as the low drone buzz reverberates through the neighborhood.

    Barlow Gin and Tonic

    Barlow Gin and Tonic Portland

    I ordered a gin and tonic at a local artisanal bar over happy hour and this is what I received, quite different from my expectations of clear liquid with a lime. But it was quite tasty!

     

    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »

    Bill Whittle is Brilliant

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on May 27th, 2016 (All posts by )

    If the GOP leadership have ten brain cells between them, Reince Priebus would be back in private practice and Bill Whittle would be chairperson of their party. But back in the real world, that might cut into the graft coming from Alphabet Street lobbyists. And that’s really why they’re there.

    His insights on the importance of gaining a persuasive voice in the pop culture and reimaging and repackaging the classically liberal, libertarian message are incredibly important.

     

    Posted in Advertising, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Video | 7 Comments »

    Memorial Day

    Posted by Nathaniel T. Lauterbach on May 27th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Today I drove through the gate at the nearby Marine Corps base. The young Lance Corporal who was faithfully executing his General Orders at the gate checked my ID card, saluted smartly, and wished me a “happy holiday weekend.” I’m not sure I can have that, frankly, for the similar reason that a devout Christian may think it strange to be wished a “Happy Easter.” It just doesn’t make sense when you examine what those holidays are about.

    To me Memorial Day is intensely personal. I’ve had varying levels of a relationship with 15 Marines and Sailors who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Most of these men lost their lives in combat, but some lost their lives training for combat, too. Their deaths are still tragic–they were undertaking essentially the same tasks, doing dangerous work, and for the same ultimate goal.

    Their names are:

    Wroblewski.
    Strom.
    Crist.
    Yaggy.
    Palmer.
    Weis.
    Carazo.
    Cook.
    Claiborne.
    Quin.
    Parker.
    McHone.
    Budrejko.
    Bland.
    Wermers.

    Most of these guys are aviators. One was a UH-1 crew chief that I flew in combat with on dozens of occasions. I overflew over the wreckage which contained the remains of two of the pilots back in July, 2010. One of the 15 was a tank officer. Two were infantry officers. One was a special operations officer. One was a C2 officer. One of them was my “On-Wing” going through flight school (which means that he was the pilot who taught me how to fly).

    15 irreplaceable lives.

    I think about these men every day, but especially so on Memorial Day.

    I hate this holiday–every second of it. I hope you hate it too. Happy Memorial Day–my ass.

    Semper Fi, gents. Til Valhalla.

     

    Posted in Holidays, Military Affairs, Personal Narrative, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    The Quality of Your Enemies

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 27th, 2016 (All posts by )

    … or the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie Donald Trump.
    Paraphrasing the motto across the front of a favorite tee shirt that I wore out years ago, “I used to be disgusted; now I’m only amused.” I’ll cop to being both amused and disgusted when Donald Trump first hove into sight as a potential GOP nominee earlier in this election cycle. The whole thing was a joke, and I was certain he was playing it as such, playing it for the laughs and as an ego boost. Yes, The Donald of the bright orange tan and hopelessly fake comb-over, a crass, loudmouth East Coast real-estate speculator, with vulgar and over-the-top tastes in everything from interior to exterior decoration, in the words of the writer at Zero Anthropology, a “mountain of Grade A Beef in a $10,000 suit,” significant other of one Marla Maples back in the day when he first became an enduring feature on the front pages of national tabloids – that Donald Trump did not strike me as likely presidential timber. Still really doesn’t, but then I never thought a no-name minor Chicago machine pol with precisely nothing on his professional resume save being the editor of the Harvard Law review and identifying as black was presidential timber either, yet the post turtle got elected to that high office twice.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Politics, USA | 23 Comments »

    Trump Clinches the GOP Nomination

    Posted by Lexington Green on May 26th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Donald J. Trump has now clinched the GOP nomination, with 1,237 delegates committed to voting for him on the first ballot at the GOP Convention. It was a scant few months ago when this idea was literally laughable to most supposedly knowledgeable persons.

    Congratulations to Mr. Trump. Now, to rally as much of the GOP as possible for the upcoming election. Then, onward to the great American voting public, to defeat Hillary Clinton. And then, if Fortune continues to smile upon his efforts, we shall see whether Mr. Trump can pull off the YUGEST deal of his career, and can Make America Great Again.

    I have always supported the GOP nominee, and this year is no exception. Trump defeated the other sixteen candidates in fair combat, though it was ugly at times.

    Stopping Hillary Clinton is so important that the proverbial man-shaped cardboard cutout with “GOP” scrawled on it in Sharpie marker would get my vote. I cannot fathom the continuing quibbling by purported Republicans and Conservatives, given the stakes, and the destruction a Clinton presidency would inflict. Defeating her TRUMPS all other considerations. Trump is the chosen means to that necessary end. So be it. Let us go forward together. #NeverHillary

    Beyond being not-Hillary, Trump is a wildcard. Much of what he has published, and says he wants to do, is good. As I wrote elsewhere, there is plenty of material to find common ground with the legacy GOP and its leaders. The list of proposed Supreme Court justices he recently published is very good. So, there are things to like about Mr. Trump, as well as some things not to like so much. But this election, like all American Presidential elections is a simple, binary decision. There is no imaginary third option, as some people seem to wish. It is Trump or Clinton, period, end of report.

    And Trump is clearly preferable to Clinton.

    Congratulations and good luck to Mr. Trump, and God bless America.

    GOP Elephant #MAGA

     

    Posted in Elections, Politics, Trump | 23 Comments »

    When Texas DUCs Go Quack, Quack, Frack

    Posted by Trent Telenko on May 26th, 2016 (All posts by )

    The “DUC” in this case being _D_rilled but _U_n_C_ompleted shale oil & gas wells

    I ran into this article by Seeking Alpha energy analyst Gary Bourgeault over on Real Clear Energy which gave a figure for how many drilled but ‘unfracked’ wells are available for the new extended oil flow fracking technique I mentioned in May 15th 2016 post Texas Fracking and the Death of Big Oil.

    The key passage from “U.S. Shale Oil Boom Over Says CSMonitor – Hahahahaha” below —

    DUC wells waiting in the wings
     
    Another major reason the shale boom isn’t over is the large number of drilled but uncompleted wells waiting to be brought into production. There is an estimated 5,000 in the U.S. which can be quickly brought to market when the price of oil is high enough to reward it. Some companies have been completing them for some time, and more are being completed in 2016.

    There are a lot of implications in that number. Starting with the fact that new oil & gas rig counts are going to be minimal for some time. And the hard economic fact that major politically event driven oil price spikes are going to be extremely short and will drop below 50 dollars a barrel within weeks to three months, given how fast these North American “DUC” wells can be fracked to bring product to market.

    This new age of “banked” cheap oil plays, and the resultant oil price stability, will see off both the “Big Oil” economic model and the political/corporate elites that live by it.

    Update May 27 2016:

    It looks like Zerohedge has come to the same set of conclusions about the “Big Oil” economic model with his post “Peak Petro-State – The Oil World In Chaos”

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Business, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, USA | 14 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on May 26th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Where are the law journal articles and op-ed’s on the potential legal consequences of Clinton’s legal jeopardy? Where? HJLPP? WSJ?

    Seth Barrett Tillman on Twitter

     

    Posted in Elections, Law, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Media, Politics | 5 Comments »

    State Department IG’s Report: Fallout

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on May 25th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Hillary2016

    What now for Hillary? Was the IG’s report just the precursor to the FBI’s hammer dropping?

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/4911270408001/napolitano-audit-faulting-clinton-on-emails-is-huge

    Judge Napolitano:

    I think it’s huge. It goes to the heart, it disputes the heart, of Mrs Clinton’s defense.

    She knowingly and willfully violated her own State Department requirements that she put in place for all other employees…

    She diverted 100% – one hundred percent! – of all digital traffic coming to her through her home server… She was also harshly criticized for keeping some of the email traffic from the State Department, which to this day she believes she wiped clean – I happen to believe the FBI found what she believes she wiped clean…

    As we speak, our colleague Katherine Herridge is in a federal courtroom in Alexandria Virginia listening to this Romanian hacker tell a federal judge about the deal his lawyers cut with the Justice Department. The quid pro quo is: ‘Don’t send me to jail for a long time and I’ll tell you – I’ll tell a jury! – how easy it was for hackers in Europe to get in to Mrs Clinton’s emails.

    Why was the report released now? Has the DNC decided Hillary cannot beat Trump and decided to throw her under the bus? If so, who’s up to replace her? Biden-Warren? Sanders? And will Debbie Wasserman-Schultz get the boot too?

     

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Elections | 17 Comments »

    Presidential Poll Snapshot

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on May 24th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Statistically, we have a tie. The trends tell a different story.

    PollSnapshot

    Part of this is explainable by who’s getting criticized the most. Trump is the Republican nominee so he is no longer taking much flak from the right. Clinton, on the other hand, is still locked in battle with Sanders, who is only now, a the campaign becomes bitter, calling the DNC selection process rigged (it seems to be) and questioning Hillary’s competence and honesty (she has neither). Trump has also begun hammering Hillary and prefaces all his references to her with terms like ‘crooked’ and ‘corrupt’, which, amusingly, is trending the hashtag #CrookedHillary. What a difference a few months makes in politics. And we still have six months to go.

    What Trump needs to do is go scorched earth. Lay out her history of destroying the women abused, molested and raped by her husband in order to protect her power and income and call out her as the vicious hypocrite she really is. And keep calling her out. Lay out her history of incompetence and ask the country if we can tolerate that incompetence in the Executive Mansion. Call out her long history of ethics violations and her never ending embroilment in scandals. Hammer her down like it’s the most important battle facing America. Because it is.

    Will Trump win this thing? What is the best strategy?

     

    Posted in Elections | 33 Comments »

    What has happened to Venezuela?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on May 21st, 2016 (All posts by )

    venzuela

    Venezuela is in the news as the country cannot even buy paper to print money.

    This all goes back to 1998 when Chavez was elected by the people.

    He was an army officer and had previously attempted to overthrow the government, a coup that failed.

    in the early 1980s. Chávez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d’état against the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992, for which he was imprisoned. Released from prison after two years, he founded a political party known as the Fifth Republic Movement and was elected president of Venezuela in 1998.

    Venezuela is an example of The Curse of Natural Resources.

    The idea that resources might be more of an economic curse than a blessing began to emerge in debates in the 1950s and 1960s about the economic problems of low and middle-income countries.[3] The term resource curse was first used by Richard Auty in 1993 to describe how countries rich in mineral resources were unable to use that wealth to boost their economies and how, counter-intuitively, these countries had lower economic growth than countries without an abundance of natural resources. An influential study by Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner found a strong correlation between natural resource abundance and poor economic growth.

    Venezuela is only the latest and worst example. The history is depressingly familiar.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, International Affairs, Leftism, Public Finance | 55 Comments »

    Blue Bird

    Posted by Jonathan on May 20th, 2016 (All posts by )

    headless peacock

     

    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »

    A Fine Friday Miscellany

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 20th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Ah, the stupidities come so thick and fast of late. It’s like the rain here in Texas, which has been pouring down with such intensity over the last few days that all the usual low-water flood-danger locations have been – as any fool could easily predict – flooded and closed to vehicle traffic. It rained so hard on Thursday morning that for the first time in ages, we skipped walking the dogs. Looked out at the flooded street, the flooded front walkway, rain coming down sideways, and the sky so dark that it looked like twilight already; nope – not even the dogs were keen, especially Nemo the Terrier-God-Knows-What, who loathes and despises water with a wholly undoglike passion.

    But social and political stupidities – what a rich buffet was laid before us this week, even apart from the gross stupidity of deciding that the ostensible civil rights and good-will of what may be .03% of the general population – that miniscule transgender portion of it – supersedes the rights of women and girls in a public restroom/locker/changing room to be certain they are not being letched on by a perv who has twigged to the fact that if he only declares that he feels female on that particular day that no one will want to firmly escort his perverted ass out of said safe space. Yes, the Kennedy Administration vowed to put a man on the moon, the Obama Administration has put a man in the Ladies’ Room and damned if the pervy wretch isn’t insisting that he has a perfect right to be there. Progress, y’all. While the perv element may have witless friends in the form of various celebrities ostentatiously declaring that they won’t be performing in *insert the location here* because hate/failure-to-socially-advance/toleration-eleventy!! I am brought to wonder if their concerts were significantly less than sold-out, and this is a handy means of cancelling an event and putting a convenient cover over the economic failure of it all. And I am also reminded of the way that mobs came out to eat at Chick-fil-A, in response to an announced boycott because the gaystapo getting all (you should pardon the expression) butt-hurt over the Chick-Fil-A CEO mildly expressing personal support for traditional marriage.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Environment, Politics, Privacy, Society | 37 Comments »

    The Breakdown of the Social Contract and the Rise of Geopolitics

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on May 19th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Dr. Pippa Malmgren, founder of DRPM Group, former US Presidential Adviser and alumna of the London School of Economics, makes some very insightful connections between the breakdown of responsible economic policy in the USA and the increase of global warfare, from China and the South China Sea to Russia in the Ukraine.

    She also explains that things like inflation don’t just happen like bad weather or something, they’re choices made by policy makers as a method of defaulting on debt.

    Some quotes:

    If you people in emerging markets are experiencing knock-on effects from our (inflationary) policy, that’s your problem…It’s our dollar, and your problem! …They’re view is, I’m taking enough pain, you can’t expect me to ask my people to take even more pain by dealing with a global financial crisis and now demand has collapsed..you can’t ask me to inflict more pain. What is the end result? When central banks are trying to create inflation, a normal side effect is that hard asset prices go up…we’ve seen record all time prices for stock markets, for property, we actually seen record all time prices for things like proteins, which are particularly important in an emerging market context. Emerging market workers are spending 40%-70% of their income for food and energy, so price movements in this area matter.

    Suddenly, all these pressures, all these problems are bearing down on these few smart people sitting in the West Wing who we think can solve this. And they’re speaking in a language that is highly technical, highly mathematical, it makes it very difficult for the general public to engage in the question. They’re told, Don’t worry about quantitative easing, it’s all in your interest! And they’re going, Yeah but my Cadbury Creme Egg, I’m getting less of those, and my rent is going up, and I can’t get a job still. But there’s a mismatch between the language the public wants to speak to engage in these issues and the language in which the policy discussion is conducted. And that a gap exists in understanding, What are the consequences of the choices that being made on our behalf?

    A highly worthwhile use of an hour or so of your time.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, International Affairs, War and Peace | 17 Comments »

    Book Review: Little Man, What Now?, by Hans Fallada (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on May 17th, 2016 (All posts by )

    (I posted this review four years ago…given the continued economic difficulties faced by many Americans, and the political implications thereof, this seems like an appropriate time for a rerun)

    I’ve often seen this 1932 book footnoted in histories touching on Weimar Germany; not having previously read it I had been under the vague impression that it was some sort of political screed. Actually it is a novel, and a good one. The political implications are indeed significant, but they’re mostly implicit rather than explicit.

    Johannes and Emma, known to one another as Sonny and Lammchen, are a young couple who marry when Lammchen unexpectedly becomes pregnant. Their world is not the world of Weimar’s avant-garde artists and writers, or of its risque-to-outright-degenerate cabaret scene. It is far from the world of a young middle-class intellectual like Sebastian Haffner, whose invaluable memoir I reviewed here. Theirs is the world of people at the absolute bottom of anything that could be considered as even lower-middle-class, struggling to hold on by their fingernails.

    When we first meet our protagonists, Sonny is working as a bookkeeper–he was previously a reasonably-successful salesman of men’s clothing, working for the kindly Jewish merchant Mr. Bergmann, but a pointless quarrel with Bergmann’s wife, coupled with a job offer from the local grain merchant (Kleinholz) led to a career change. Sonny soon finds that as a condition of continued employment he is expected to marry Kleinholz’s ugly and unpleasant daughter, never an appealing proposition and one which his marriage to Lammchen clearly makes impossible. Lammchen is from a working-class family: her father is a strong union man and Social Democrat who sees himself as superior to lower-tier white-collar men like Sonny.

    When Sonny and Lammchen set up housekeeping, their economic situation continually borders on desperate. Purchasing a stew pot, or indulging in the extravagance of a few bites of salmon for dinner, represents a major financial decision. An impulsive decision on Sonny’s part to please Lammchen by acquiring the dressing table she admires will have long-lasting consequences for their budget.

    The great inflation of Weimar has come and gone; the psychological damage lingers. Sonny and Lammchen’s landlady cannot comprehend what happened to her savings:

    Young people, before the war, we had a comfortable fifty thousand marks. And now that money’s all gone. How can it all be gone?…I sit here reckoning it up. I’ve written it all down. I sit here, reckoning. Here it says: a pound of butter, three thousand marks…can a pound of butter cost three thousand marks?…I now know that my money’s been stolen. Someone who rented here stole it…he falsified my housekeeping book so I wouldn’t notice. He turned three into three thousand without me realizing…how can fifty thousand have all gone?

    Inflation is no longer the problem, unemployment is. There are millions of unemployed, and those who do hold jobs are desperately afraid of losing them and will do anything to keep them.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Germany, History | 3 Comments »

    TV Series Review: “American Genius”

    Posted by David Foster on May 16th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Over at The Lexicans, Bill Brandt posted an item about an 8-part TV series titled ‘American Genius’…it is about a selection of inventors and entrepreneurs who have had a major impact on technology, society, and history.  It sounded worthwhile and I’ve watched about half of the episodes–thanks, Bill!…definitely worth watching, but OTOH I think there are a few things in the series that should have been covered a little differently.

    Edison vs Tesla is about the AC-vs-DC power wars, and correctly reports on the sleazy fearmongering tactics that Edison used in his unavailing attempt to maintain DC’s dominance.  The show referred to George Westinghouse, who was Tesla’s sponsor in this battle, as “sort of a railroad baron,” completely ignoring the fact that Westinghouse was himself a major American inventor.  Most people would think of a ‘railroad baron’ as someone who owns or manages railroads, not someone who invented the air brake.

    Farnsworth vs Sarnoff  is about the battle to dominate the emerging television industry.  It was presented as a David-versus-Goliath story–though Goliath was in this case named David (Sarnoff)–individual inventor versus ruthless tycoon.  Sarnoff was indeed ruthless, indeed could be fairly referred to as a prototypical crony capitalist…but it would have been interesting to point out that he wasn’t always a Goliath, wasn’t born to that position, but had in fact come to this country as an impoverished Russian Jewish immigrant and had encountered severe and career-threatening anti-Semitism on his path to Goliath-dom.

    Space Race is focused on two individuals, the German/American Wernher von Braun and the Soviet rocket designer Sergei Korolev.  Korolev was played by an actor who looked a little too young for the role at the subject time period:  more importantly, it should have been mentioned that Korolev had been arrested and sent to the Gulag, where he lost most of his teeth due to the brutal labor-camp conditions.  There were psychological scars as well–Boris Chertok , who worked closely with Korolev for years, said that there was only one single time that he saw the man really happy.  In a series focused primarily on the leading characters and their conflicts rather than on technical details, these things deserved to be covered.

    The program refers to a successful Soviet test in 1957 of a missile with intercontinental range, shortly before the launch of Sputnik.  Actually, the test was a failure because the warhead disintegrated on reentry…and reentry, while a critical factor for ICBMs, is not important at all for one-way satellite launches.  The American belief that Sputnik meant all of our cities were vulnerable to Soviet missiles was a little premature–not much.

    I thought Wernher von Braun got off too easily in this program.  The show did mention that the V-2 missile was assembled by slave labor in an underground factory adjacent to a concentration camp: the truly horrific nature of V-2 manufacturing (this was possibly the only weapons system ever made that killed more people in its making than in its employment) could have gotten more emphasis, and the evidence is that von Braun was fully aware of what was going on in this place.

    I’m also not convinced that von Braun was as absolutely critical to US missile and space programs as the show implies.  The program to build the Atlas missile, which was developed in roughly the same time period as Korolev’s R-7, was directed by USAF General Bernard Schriever, with technology expertise provided largely by the newly-formed Ramo-Wooldgridge Corporation and by Convair.  I see no reason why this team could not also have conducted a Moon program, had they been so chartered.

    The show does point out that von Braun, in addition to his technical and management contributions, played an important role in popularizing the ideas of rocketry and space travel…I had been unaware of his work with Disney to this end.  So, in addition to being a genuine rocket scientist (and, arguably, a war criminal in at least a moral sense), von Braun was also one of the great PR men of the century.

    Again, with the omissions and missed opportunities, the series is still very much worth watching.

     

    Posted in Business, History, Media, Space, Tech, Transportation | 13 Comments »

    What is China’s Goal?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on May 16th, 2016 (All posts by )

    In China Restructures for War we find that China’s armed forces have reorganized even while they continue a rapid upgrade in the quality of their weapons systems.

    China’s officially-disclosed military budget grew at an average of 9.8 percent per year in inflation-adjusted terms from 2006 through 2015, and Chinese leaders seem committed to sustaining defense spending growth for the foreseeable future.

    During 2015, the PLA continued to improve key capabilities that would be used in theater contingencies, including cruise missiles; short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles; high performance aircraft; integrated air defense networks; information operations capabilities; and amphibious and airborne assault units. The PLA is developing and testing new intermediate- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles as well as long range, land-attack, and anti-ship cruise missiles, which once operational would extend the military’s reach and push adversary forces further from potential regional conflicts. China is also focusing on counter-space, offensive cyber operations, and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities meant to deny adversaries the advantages of modern, information technology-driven warfare.

    China has built a number of military outposts around the South China Sea, including Mischief Reef, Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, Subi Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Gaven Reef.

    Over the past 15 years, China’s ambitious naval modernization program has produced a more technologically advanced and flexible force. The PLAN now possesses the largest number of vessels in Asia, with more than 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships, and patrol craft. China is rapidly retiring legacy combatants in favor of larger, multi-mission ships equipped with advanced anti-ship, anti-air, and anti-submarine weapons and sensors. China continues its gradual shift from “near sea” defense to “far seas” protection…

    In 2015, the PLAN’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, certified its first cohort of domestically trained J-15 operational pilots. The air wing is expected to deploy on the carrier in 2016. China also began construction of its first domestic aircraft carrier and could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years. Even when fully operational, Liaoning will not enable long-range power projection similar to U.S. NIMITZ class carriers. Liaoning’s smaller size limits the number of aircraft it can embark, while the ski-jump configuration limits aircraft fuel and ordnance loads. Liaoning will possibly be used for fleet air defense missions, extending air cover over a fleet operating far from land-based coverage. Although it possesses a full suite of weapons and combat systems, Liaoning will probably continue to play a significant role in training China’s carrier pilots, deck crews, and developing tactics that will be used with later, more capable carriers. 

    In his talk Chinese Views, Strategy and Geopolitics, Robert Kaplan sees China in the early 21st century as was the United States in the early 20th century, an emerging world military and economic power. In that respect, he says, China considers the South China Sea as the USA considers the Gulf of Mexico, a strategic naval zone it intends to dominate. With the Monroe Doctrine, the USA warned European colonial powers that the Americas were off limits to them, and with the Spanish American War the USA removed the last colonial influence and outpost from the region. We may see a similar attempt by China to remove American, Japanese, Philippine or any other influence or outpost from the South China Sea and possibly further.

    Perhaps most worrying, China is engaging in a prolonged domestic campaign of anti-American rhetoric and propaganda. The only possible purpose for that, from my point of view, is to ideologically prepare its populace for war. And seeing Glasnost as a dangerous example of a loss of political control leading to societal breakup, it is redoubling political conditioning in its military, including an expansion of political commissars and checkists inside the chain of command with a  purpose is to ensure ideological purity and loyalty.

    Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2016

     

    Posted in China, Military Affairs, War and Peace | 39 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on May 16th, 2016 (All posts by )

    But, meanwhile, the top-heavy Japanese nobility also began to fear this newly armed peasantry and within a generation had removed guns from the common people. The “Sword Hunt” of 1588 took away not only the farmer’s swords, but their matchlocks as well. This was, perhaps, the earliest gun control of world history. It was followed by the “Separation Edict” of 1591, which made the farmers hereditary serfs. Previously, the great bulk of Japanese fighting men were citizen-soldiers, farmers most of the time, who answered the call when local noblemen needed infantry support. But after the new edicts, only the Samurai could carry swords or shoot matchlocks. The farmers now had only one job: to pay for everything. And pay they did, up to 80 percent of all they grew now went to support the nobility and the Samurai. The Samurai myth has taken on exaggerated elements of chivalry. Popularly represented as brave swordsmen, defenders of the innocent, the truth was often the opposite, for many Samurai were cold-blooded killers who murdered unarmed commoners for perceived insults as slight as simply making eye contact with them. All were merciless, blue-blooded parasites, living off the toil of people they considered vastly inferior. Once the farmers had been disarmed, it was easy to eradicate their few remaining freedoms. So, by the dawn of the Tokugawa Shogunate (military dictatorship), around 1603, Japan had near-total gun control. This notwithstanding, the Japanese myth of “giving up the gun,” and reverting to the sword, often couched as “putting the evil genie back in the bottle,” is more wishful thinking than historical fact. Matchlocks were not gone, they were now only reserved for a favored few. The Samurai still used them for war and hunting, and practiced constantly: marksmanship competitions were not uncommon.

    (From “The Village Tiger Gun”, in The Blue Press, April 2016, p. 80.)

     

    Posted in History, Japan, Quotations, RKBA | 5 Comments »

    Texas Fracking and the Death of Big Oil

    Posted by Trent Telenko on May 15th, 2016 (All posts by )

    It isn’t often you see the death of a major worldwide industry. Last week I saw the death of the “Big Oil” economic model. It just died at the hands of Texas oil frackers who have developed a new “disruptive technology” that has made obsolete all the pillars of technology underpinning large, vertically integrated oil companies. More importantly, the same is true of all the petro-states that nationalized Big Oil’s assets in the 1960s to make all the state oil companies around the world today.

    I found this out doing my day job last week as a Defense Department quality auditor visiting a mid-sized oil service company diversifying into federal contracts. The meeting was about issues with the contract they won and touched on others they have bid on. As a side bar at lunch the following points about their main business came up:

    1. Oil field spending has died. Rig count in the USA is the lowest it has been since 1940.
     
    2. One oil rig controller company these folks worked with saw a year over year drop of 72% in its business.
     
    3. Another company they supplied had their “Cap-X” budget drop from ~$400 million for 2015-2016 to little over $30 million for 2016-2017.
     
    4. One drilling company they supplied went from 120(+) new wells last year to _12_ this year.
     
    5. This supplier sold a lot of copper tubing for “frack-log” drilling. That is the drilling of holes in good oil-bearing rock without fracking rock for oil immediately — and here is the new part — to take advantage of a new long-flow fracking technique.

    While most of the points above are due to the Saudis’ oil price war on Texas frackers. An ex-Big Oil geologist I know put it this way —

    The entire reason for the price drop was because the Saudis wanted to destroy fracking in the United States in order to keep us dependent upon them in order to keep them getting a free defense. The Saudis will have to diversify and start spending money on defense before the price goes back up, or they will be in serious trouble.

    The technique in Point #5 above marks another “fracking revolution” that is of growing importance to the USA. This new fracking energy revolution will upend the world order as we know it. Political winds willing, America may well be a net hydrocarbon exporter in five to eight years.

    Explaining why that is requires some background in Texas oil fracking.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Business, Capitalism, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Miscellaneous, National Security | 42 Comments »

    Book Review: The Myth of the Robber Barons

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on May 15th, 2016 (All posts by )

    The Myth of the Robber Barons, by Burton Folsom

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    MythOfRobberBaronsCover‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ ~George Orwell, 1984

    Controlling our view of the past – even our view of the present – is an obsession with the Progressive Left. Our understanding of history deeply influences our thinking and philosophy. Among other things, it shapes our view of both the morality and social-economic effects of free market capitalism versus socialism.

    To that end, a group of enormously successful people from the 19th century were demonized by turn of the century Progressives and have continued to be demonized as The Robber Barons by Leftist historians in primary school and college texts ever since. More subtly, through dark Orwellian references in Leftist entertainment programs and media, they have been thoroughly maligned in the popular imagination as well. Yet few people know who these people actually were and what, for better or worse, they actually did in their lives and how their works affected our lives even today. In his book, Robert Folsom sets out to take fresh look at people we would today call entrepreneurs.

     

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Academia, Big Government, Book Notes, Business, Capitalism, Education, Entrepreneurship, History, Video | 1 Comment »

    Misdirection

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 15th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why the burning social question of the moment has to do with transgender persons and bathrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities, both those for the convenience of the public and those dedicated for the use of school children. First and foremost, I will not believe that there can be all that many genuine transgender persons of any age wandering around, outside of a few very limited locations; very few and those who have not taken the plunge entirely would, I believe, not be all that damned flamboyant about it. It is remotely possible that I might have been in a public facility at the same time as an undecided or a totally committed transgender and been unaware of it, but frankly, I believe that my personal chances of having done so and knowing about it are about on par with my chances of being abducted by aliens.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Miscellaneous | 27 Comments »

    8th St

    Posted by Jonathan on May 14th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Calle Ocho Street Fair

     

    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »