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  • Turning and Twisting in the Gyre

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 22nd, 2016 (All posts by )

    I am currently torn three ways, between the start of the holiday market season for myself and my daughter’s various enterprises, my own blogging and writing, and a book project for a Watercress Press client. The book project is to do with local history, and a particularly contentious event during the Civil War – in Texas. Even as far west of the Mississippi as Texas was, from the main theater of war, some comparatively minor skirmishes in the first Civil War took place in Texas. And the final battle, and surrender of the last hold-out Confederate command took place down on the Rio Grande, and the very last Union Army casualty fell in that Texas fight. But that is stuff for history trivia contests. (The answers are, FYI, the battle of Palmito Ranch, and Private John J. Williams, of the 34th Indiana.)

    The book project has a fair amount of my attention, as it touches on a local history matter featured in my own books – but in the interesting coincidence of the Tiny Publishing Bidness having published some of the local history books noted as sources, or citing local historians whom I have met or have had something to do with; the late Rev. Ken Knopp, James Kearney, and Jefferson Morganthaler, most notably – and referring to many of the sources that I read as research for the Adelsverein Trilogy. This book that I am working on now caps a series which can only be produced by a writer/researcher involved to the point of intense – yea, even fanatical interest – in a specific Civil War event. Seriously, Colonel Paul Burrier (USA, Ret.) has gone back into the archives of various establishments and re-published at his expense just about every relevant document there is to find in national and state archives regarding the locally infamous incident memorialized by the True to the Union monument in Comfort, Texas.

    I’ve written here and there about the Nueces Fight/Battle/Massacre here, here, and there…and how the peculiar situation in the Hill Country of Texas – well-stocked with Abolitionist, pro-Union inclinations – generated a bitter civil war-within a civil war. Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous | 2 Comments »

    Madonna – Felon

    Posted by TM Lutas on October 19th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Here’s Project Vote’s NY voter registration guide. The footnotes have been linked to the underlying laws and the federal court case.

    Here is an excerpt

    A. Are there restrictions on the voter registration drive offering something of value to a person in
    exchange for completing a voter registration application?

    It is a felony under New York law to pay, lend or contribute, or offer or promise to pay, lend or contribute any money or other valuable consideration to or for any voter, or to or for any other person, to induce such voter or other person to place or cause to be placed or refrain from placing or causing to be placed
    his name upon a registration poll record.14

    Federal law states that whoever pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years. 15 At least one federal appellate court has interpreted payment as intended to include forms of pecuniary value offered or given directly to an individual voter, and indicated the value should be based on an assessment of the monetary worth of an item from the perspective of the voter receiving the item. That case held that food vouchers could be payment.16

    In Madison Square Garden, Madonna just offered oral sex to anybody who votes for Hillary Clinton.

    The NY law violation is a misdemeanor, fine set between $100-$500 and/or imprisonment not less than one year.

    The Federal law violation is a felony, fine set at not more than $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to five years.


    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Elections, Law, Miscellaneous | 12 Comments »

    Read and Consider Before Voting

    Posted by David Foster on October 19th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Regulators retaliate against Tea Party activist for his free speech–and get away with it.  People’s political views are being attacked by threatening their employment; there is more and more of this.

    Various people in Silicon Valley and elsewhere are advocating a boycott of businesses in which Peter Thiel is involved because of his $1.25MM donation to the Trump campaign. Ellen Pao of ‘Project Include,’ a group which says it focuses on improving tech-industry opportunities for women and minorities, has already cut ties with the Y Combinator (startup incubator) because Thiel is a part-time partner there.  Not very helpful to the people you are claiming to want to provide opportunities for, I’d say, Ms Pao.

    Video has been released in which Democratic operatives admit to inciting violence at Trump rallies.  According to this, one of the major players is Robert Creamer, co-founder of something called Democracy Partners. Creamer is the husband of Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky. He also has a guilty plea for financial fraud on his record, and has visited the White House 342 times since 2009.

    Mary Grabar writes about her personal experience with the IRS persecution of conservatives.

    At least 20 cars belonging to attendees at a Trump rally were vandalized in Bangor, Maine.  There was also a recent fire-bombing of Republican office in North Carolina.

    It’s not new news, but consider the continuing flood of heresy accusations–which can have serious consequences for the accused party’s career—on college campuses.

    Obama has denounced what he calls the ‘Wild West’ media landscape and called for a ‘curating function’ on information distribution.  (‘obviously not censorship,’ he adds.)  See Mark Steyn’s response.

    The Obama administration has called for ‘local intervention teams’ to ‘prevent the spread of violent ideologies.’  As Mary Grabar says:  “ou can bet your sweet bippy that these “local intervention teams” will be guided by Madame President and that the focus will be on the “violent ideology” of tea partiers and Trumpeters.”

    A Hillary Clinton presidency would mean the ceaseless tightening of the coils of the anti-free-speech python.  Expect free expression outside of a defined (and ever-narrowing) box to be threatened by further politicization of regulatory agencies, threats against individuals’  employment, use of major media corporations (including blogging platforms) as part of the ‘extended government’–and direct mob action against dissident organizations and individual dissidents. Not to mention the continuation and reinforcement of anti-free-speech behavior and extreme political indoctrination in America’s institutions of higher education.


    Posted in Civil Liberties, Elections, Leftism, USA | 14 Comments »

    The Swirling Winds of Time

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 18th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I saw the hungry armies of the men who had no work
    I saw the silver ship fly to her doom
    I watched the world at war and witnessed brave men go berserk
    And saw that death was both the bride and groom
    I watched Bikini atoll turn from coral into dust
    At Dealy Plaza worlds came to an end
    And swirling winds of time blew as the Soviet went bust
    And life is born in stars as some contend
    The swirling winds have always blown around man’s aimless trials
    And will continue blowing ‘til the stars
    Wink out in just a few short eons as the goddess whiles
    Away the time in counting kings and tsars
    Who think that they control the winds that swirl around their heads
    Believing they are mighty as the sword
    Not knowing that in blink of eye they’re taken to their beds
    The swirling winds of time are oft ignored
    Until, like we, the winds becalm and we stand face to face
    With zephyrs and Spring breezes at our back
    Propelling us toward what it seems is finish of the race
    The winds we have but time is what we lack –

    Walt Erickson, the poet laureate of Belmont Club, on this particular discussion thread.

    So, tempus fugit and all that … dust in the wind, as the pop group Kansas used to sing. That number always reminds me vividly of a certain time and place, a memory which is strictly personal and has no bearing on this post, really … save for reminding me in an oblique way, that as of this month twenty years past, I went on terminal leave from the USAF. As of the end of this year, I have been retired from the military for as many years as I was in it. I can’t claim that I have traveled as far in this last two decades as I did in the two before that … after all, when I went to my high school reunion in 1982, I won the award for having come the farthest to attend the reunion. That was the year I was stationed in Greenland at the time, and the reunion was coincident to my middle-of-tour leave. The two decades past included travel to California to visit family, to Brownsville on client business, to Washington DC/Arlington for a milblogger convention, to Houston once and innumerable road trips to the Hill Country on book business. Dust in the wind, my friends – dust in the wind.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, History, Leftism, Military Affairs | 16 Comments »

    What will we see if Hillary wins the election ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on October 18th, 2016 (All posts by )

    The election news is starting to suggest to me that Trump may well lose the election to Hillary. What would that mean?

    Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person to get this close to the presidency since Aaron Burr.

    he blamed Hamilton for besmirching him as a candidate, and, eager to defend his honor, challenged Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton accepted, and the face-off took place on the morning of July 11, 1804; it ended when Burr shot Hamilton to death. Though the public cried murder, Burr was let off, and after laying low for a while, he was able to complete his vice-presidential term.

    What then?

    In 1807, Burr was brought to trial on charges of conspiracy and high misdemeanor, for leading a military charge against Spanish territory and for trying to separate territories from the United States. Chief Justice John Marshall acquitted Burr on the treason charge and eventually revoked his misdemeanor indictment, but the conspiracy scandal left Burr’s political career in ruins.

    Final Years

    Burr spent the four years following his trial traveling throughout Europe, attempting unsuccessfully to garner support for revolutionizing Mexico and freeing the Spanish colonies.

    Burr was a traitor after having his ambitions thwarted.

    We all know Hillary’s story. She was a student radical at Wellesley and her senior thesis was on Saul Alinsky.

    The thesis was sympathetic to Alinsky’s critiques of government antipoverty programs, but criticized Alinsky’s methods as largely ineffective, all the while describing Alinsky’s personality as appealing.[4] The thesis sought to fit Alinsky into a line of American social activists, including Eugene V. Debs, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Walt Whitman. Written in formal academic language, the thesis concluded that “[Alinsky’s] power/conflict model is rendered inapplicable by existing social conflicts” and that Alinsky’s model had not expanded nationally due to “the anachronistic nature of small autonomous conflict.”

    Her sympathies are clear. What will she be like as president if she wins?

    We know she is dishonest by most definitions of the term.

    She evaded the law on security when she accepted the position of Secretary of State. Her security detail at State, rebelled at her ignoring security rules, and her personal abusive style. The latter was well known from her time in the White House as First Lady.

    During her interview, the agent said Clinton treated agents rudely and with contempt, and was so unpleasant that senior agents typically avoided being on her security detail.

    “[Redacted] explained that CLINTON’s treatment of DS agents on her protective detail was so contemptuous that many of them sought reassignment or employment elsewhere,” the interview summary says. “Prior to CLINTON’s tenure, being an agent on the Secretary of State’s protective detail was seen as an honor and privilege reserved for senior agents. However, by the end of CLINTON’s tenure, it was staffed largely with new agents because it was difficult to find senior agents willing to work for her.”

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Politics, Trump | 22 Comments »

    The Cuban Missile Crisis, as Viewed from a Soviet Launch Facility (rerun)

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

    This month marks the 54th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world dangerously close to thermonuclear war.

    Several years ago,  I read  Rockets and People, the totally fascinating memoir of Soviet rocket developer Boris Chertok, which I reviewed here.

    Chertok’s career encompassed both military and space-exploration projects, and in late October 1962 he was focused on preparations for launching a Mars probe. On the morning of Oct 27, he was awakened by “a strange uneasiness.” After a quick breakfast, he headed for the missile assembly building, known as the MIK.

    At the gatehouse, there was usually a lone soldier on duty who would give my pass a cursory glance. Now suddenly I saw a group of soldiers wielding sub-machine guns, and they thoroughly scrutinized my pass. Finally they admitted me to the facility grounds and there, to my surprise, I again saw sub-machine-gun-wielding soldiers who had climbed up the fire escape to the roof of the MIK. Other groups of soldiers in full combat gear, even wearing gas masks, were running about the periphery of the secure area. When I stopped in at the MIK, I immediately saw that the “duty” R-7A combat missile, which had always been covered and standing up against the wall, which we had always ignored, was uncovered.

    Chertok was greeted by his friend Colonel Kirillov, who was in charge of this launch facility. Kirollov did not greet Chertok with his usual genial smile, but with a “somber, melancholy expression.”

    Without releasing my hand that I’d extended for our handshake, he quietly said: “Boris Yevseyevich, I have something of urgent importance I must tell you”…We went into his office on the second floor. Here, visibly upset, Kirillov told me: “Last night I was summoned to headquarters to see the chief of the [Tyura-Tam] firing range. The chiefs of the directorates and commanders of the troop units were gathered there. We were told that the firing range must be brought into a state of battle readiness immediately. Due to the events in Cuba, air attacks, bombardment, and even U.S. airborne assaults are possible. All Air Defense Troops assets have already been put into combat readiness. Flights of our transport airplanes are forbidden. All facilities and launch sites have been put under heightened security. Highway transport is drastically restricted. But most important—I received the order to open an envelope that has been stored in a special safe and to act in accordance with its contents. According to the order, I must immediately prepare the duty combat missile at the engineering facility and mate the warhead located in a special depot, roll the missile out to the launch site, position it, test it, fuel it, aim it, and wait for a special launch command. All of this has already been executed at Site No. 31. I have also given all the necessary commands here at Site No. 2. Therefore, the crews have been removed from the Mars shot and shifted over to preparation of the combat missile. The nosecone and warhead will be delivered here in 2 hours.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Book Notes, Cuba, History, Russia, Space, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    What Chicago Boyz Readers Are Reading (September 2016)

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

    Below is a list of the books, ebooks, music and videos that Chicago Boyz readers viewed and/or ordered in September 2016 via Amazon links on this blog. (A cumulative list of Chicago Boyz readers’ Amazon purchases is here.)

    Your book and non-book Amazon purchases help to support this blog via the Amazon Associates program. Chicago Boyz earns a percentage on all of your Amazon purchases as long as you get to the Amazon site by clicking on Amazon links on this blog (including the Amazon banner in the blog header, the link under the Amazon banner, and even Amazon links on Chicago Boyz for products other than the ones that you want to buy).

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Book Notes | 3 Comments »

    The founders got it right.

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on October 15th, 2016 (All posts by )

    There has been much gnashing of teeth over the past several weeks over what pathetic choices we have for president. And there has been much creative writing about what can be done to ameliorate the situation. One writer in the WSJ went so far as to propose that after his victory Trump voluntarily resign so that Pence could become President.

    Yet the solution is right before our eyes in a document almost 230 years old. The Constitution does not give the power to elect the President to the People. Because the founders were not democrats and did not create a democracy. They believed a mixed form of government to operate as a republic would provide the best rule. As stated in the Federalist #68 regarding the selection of the President:

    It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.

    It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

    It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

    Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.

    Alexander Hamilton didn’t get everything right.

    The People are not about to elect a president. They are about to elect 538 electors who shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.

    So the question becomes, are there enough patriots among the 538 electors to vote for someone other than the two deplorable and irredeemable candidates put forth by the non-constitutional political parties so that neither of them has a majority of the votes cast? And if so, who should receive the third highest number of votes?


    Posted in Miscellaneous | 15 Comments »

    Nobels & Dylan

    Posted by Ginny on October 15th, 2016 (All posts by )

    In the mid-sixties, Bob Dylan’s music was the soundtrack to our lives. Now, in 2016, he’ll receive a Nobel. In that half century he’s become central to later generations and in other ways. But between the years when “everyone” quoted Childs numbers and when the Beatles took America by storm, Dylan’s voice was important. The folk singer who lived upstairs in ’65 patterned his style – music, clothes, harmonicas – after Dylan, placing roses on the stage at Pershing when Dylan played Lincoln; another friend wrote poems filled with Dylan allusions, murmuring Mr. Tambourine Man. Dylan did Nashville Skyline; in Chicago, watching him on Johnny Cash, I began to love country: a less surreal, more seductive Dylan singing Lay Lady Lay. In 1975 Austin, newly married, we bought Blood on the Tracks, with “Shelter from the Storm”

    And in 2016, he will stand another stage. His website is workmanlike; in his mid seventies, his tours continue. The “News” section doesn’t (tonight) have the Nobel listed. It’s hard to put my memories of a man who seemed to speak for and to lost boys in the context of his (and our) maturity, of all those years and all his work between then and now. For me, he remains fixed in the past, mine is ambivalence and nostalgia, but that larger, longer public context: Washington Post; Wall Street Journal; New York Times.

    If Dylan didn’t touch your life, Sohrab Ahmari’s take on one who did might be worth comment. Seven years has produced a world a less smug and ahistorical vision would have foreseen.



    Posted in Arts & Letters, Music, Personal Narrative, Poetry | 12 Comments »

    Hiring a President

    Posted by David Foster on October 13th, 2016 (All posts by )

    When hiring someone for an important job, it is of course important to assess whether or not that person has the skills you think are necessary for doing the job well.  But it’s important to also assess what they think are the important aspects of the job, and make sure these line up with what you think are the most important job factors.  You want to know what they are ‘passionate’ about, to employ a currently-overused term.

    And when hiring an executive, keep in mind that you are also likely gaining access to his network of former employees, customers, suppliers, consulting firms, etc.  A similar but even more powerful dynamic plays out in politics, as Daniel Henninger of the WSJ reminds us:

    A recurring campaign theme of this column has been that the celebrifying of our presidential candidate obscures the reality that we are not just just electing one famous person.  We will be voting into power an entire political party, which has consequences for the country’s political direction no matter what these candidates say or promise.

    By that measure, there is a reason not to turn over the job of fighting global terrorism to the Democrats.  They don’t want it.

    So, what are they key aspects of the Presidential job that needs to be done over the next four years, and how do the candidates and their beliefs about what is important stack up against those factors?  Here’s my list..

    The suppression of radical Islamic terrorism.  Henninger is completely correct: the Democrats don’t want this job.  Henninger notes that during a House hearing in 2005, Guantanamo Bay was denounced (almost entirely by Democrats, I am sure) as ‘the Gulag of our times.’  Whereas GOP Congressman Mike Pence correctly responded that the comparison was ‘anti-historical, irresponsible and the type of rhetoric that endangers American lives.’

    Henninger continues: ‘Dahir Adan invoked Allah while stabbing his way through the Minneapolis mall.  Both Mrs Clinton and President Obama consistently accuse their opponents of waging a war on all practitioners of the Islamic religion. Presumably, if instead we were being attached by Martians, they’d say any criticism of Martians was only alienating us from all the People on Mars. The problem is we aren’t getting killed by Martians or Peruvians or Finns but by men and women yelling ‘Allah Akbar’…Virtually all Democratic politicians refuse to make this crucial distinction.’

    The protection of free expression. As long as we have free speech and a free press, there is a possibility that our array of problems can be solved.  But once this crucial feedback connection is cut, problems of all kinds are likely to compound themselves until catastrophe happens.

    Remember, Hillary Clinton’s response to the Benghazi murders was to blame them on an American filmmaker exercising his Constitutional rights, and to threaten to have him arrested.  Which threat she was indeed able to carry into execution.

    And note that Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party is closely aligned with the forces on college campuses which are creating a real nightmare for anyone–student or professor–who dissents from the ‘progressive’ orthodoxy or who even demonstrates a normal sense of humor.

    There is a very strong tendency among Democrats to call for the forcible government suppression of political dissidents, and to carry this belief into action when they can get away with it:  the witch-hunt in Wisconsin and the IRS persecution of conservative organizations and individuals being only two of many examples.  More here.

    Trump is by no means ideal on this metric: he is thin-skinned and has shown himself to be very litigious.  But he is far preferable from a free-expression standpoint to Clinton and the forces that she represents.

    Economic growth.  Clinton herself would surely like to see economic growth, if only  for political reasons.  But there is in the Democratic Party a very strong strain that believes America is too wealthy, that our people have too many luxuries, that we need to be taken down a peg. I have even seen attacks by ‘progressives’ on the existence of air conditioning. The Democrats are generally willing to sacrifice economic growth on the altar of environmental extremism and to serve their trial-lawyer clients. Sexual politics represents another cause for which growth is readily sacrificed by Democrats–remember when Obama’s ‘shovel-ready’ stimulus package was first mooted, there was an outcry from left-leaning feminist groups concerned that it would be too focused on ‘jobs for burly men.’

    And whatever her ‘small business plan’ may be in her latest policy statement, Hillary has an underlying dismissiveness to those small businesses–the vast majority of them—that do not enjoy venture capital funding.  Remember her remark, when told back in the Bill Clinton administration, that aspects of her proposed healthcare plan would be destructive to small businesses?  Her response was:  “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.”  No one was asking her to be responsible for them, of course; only to refrain from wantonly destroying them.

    It is important to note that many of the top Democratic constituencies don’t really need to care, on a personal level, about economic growth. Tenured academics have salaries and benefit packages which are largely decoupled from the larger economy.  Hedge-fund managers often believe they can make money as readily in a down market as an up market. Many if not most lawyers are more dependent for their incomes on the legal climate than the economy. Very wealthy individuals may care more about social signaling than about money per se, given that they already have so much of the latter.  And the poor and demoralized will in many cases care more about transfer payments than about the growth of the economy.

    Improving K-12 Education.  Much of the nation’s public school system is a disaster.  There is no chance that Hillary would would care enough about fixing this system, and preventing or at least mitigating its destruction of generation after generation, to be willing to take on the ‘blob’…the teachers’ unions, the ed schools…these being key Democratic constituencies.  Also: the Democratic obsession with race/ethnicity has led to demands from the Administration that school disciplinary decisions must follow racial quotas.  Policies such as this, which would surely continue under a Clinton administration, make it virtually impossible for schools to maintain a learning environment for those students who do want to learn.

    The current state of K-12 education is a major inhibitor to social mobility in America.  Anyone who claims to care about the fate of families locked into poverty, while at the same time supporting a Hillary Clinton presidency, is either kidding themselves or straight-out lying.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Academia, China, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Elections, Politics, Russia, USA | 33 Comments »

    Twitter Suppresses O’Keefe

    Posted by David Foster on October 13th, 2016 (All posts by )

    James O’Keefe of Project Veritas has been locked out of Twitter after posting videos said to expose Democratic Party electoral fraud and just before he was able to post additional videos on the same subject.

    Here is the link to Project Veritas.   I recommend posting it on any blogs for which you are a writer or commenter.

    The degree of control of the national dialog which is enforced by the Democrats and their media operatives is getting very scary.  It is still possible to bypass it, but for how much longer?


    Posted in Civil Liberties, Elections, USA | 8 Comments »

    Working on Stuff

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 9th, 2016 (All posts by )

    So, I am taking a break from writing about political stuff this week, in this last stretch before the elections. For one reason – I have said what I have to generally say about it all, several times over, and for year after year; just not interested in finding a way of saying it all again. For another, there are bloggers and commenters who are saying it all much better than I could – about the possible apotheosis of Her Inevitableness, the Dowager Queen of Chappaqua, the possible repercussions of said apotheosis, and the fighting chances of The Donald. Frankly, it impresses me that he pisses off a whole lot of individuals who have a long, long, long history of insulting and denigrating me, as a military veteran, a proud member of the aspiring middle class, and Tea Party participant. No, he isn’t the answer to every political maiden’s ardent prayer; he’s a loud, proud, out and out oft-married Noo Yawk vulgarian, which most intelligent political mavens realized early in the game – but as Abraham Lincoln was moved to say in defense of Ulysses S. Grant, early on in the first civil war, “I can’t spare this man; he fights.”

    So – The Donald fights, which is quite refreshing for a quasi-conservative, and a nice change for the manner in which so-called representatives of the conservative end of the National Uniparty usually react. * They curl up and whimper apologetically when accused of some offense – whatever is the prime offense of the moment according to the current crop of screeching garbage babies – and then they move on as if nothing had ever happened. The die is cast, in any case: the election itself is in less than four weeks. Whatever deals are in the works have been cut, the planned media bombshells have already been primed and aimed, the required ballot-boxes have already been stuffed in the strategic districts, either actually, or by electronic means; the set speeches written and the responding authoritative editorials composed and set on time-delay release. All that us ordinary citizens can do is to buckle in for the bumpy ride, and vote as our conscience dictates.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Americas, Blogging, Book Notes, Conservatism, Current Events, Media, Trump | 45 Comments »

    Los Catrachos

    Posted by Jonathan on October 7th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Los Catrachos


    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    The latest Trump scandal.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on October 7th, 2016 (All posts by )

    The New York Times and the Democrats have a new Trump story to peddle.

    The crude comments are a huge scandal to the new Puritans of the left.

    The explosive revelation of his coarse remarks, on the eve of a crucial debate on Sunday against Hillary Clinton, represented a new low for a campaign that had already redefined the standards of political discourse to fit Mr. Trump’s penchant for insults, mocking, threats and demagogic insinuations. A three-minute video clearly capturing Mr. Trump’s voice, and obtained by The Washington Post, ricocheted across social media and cable television and instantly became one of the most powerful weapons yet for Democrats to persuade undecided female voters and others to back Mrs. Clinton.

    The Washington Post seems to be the source.

    This is the weekend before the second debate and there is obviously a script running here. The recording was made 11 years ago when Trump was unmarried although he married Melania in 2005. I am unaware of any credible allegations of sexual harassment or rape against Trump, although there has been a lawsuit filed and rejected by a then 13 year old. alleging rape.

    Federal Judge Ronnie Abrams has ordered a December status conference hearing after a woman, who calls herself “Jane Doe,” filed a lawsuit claiming that Trump raped her when she was 13 years old in the 1990s. This is the third attempt the plaintiff has made in filing this particular lawsuit. Last Friday, she filed an amended complaint, with a new “witness” named “Joan Doe.” The plaintiff and witnesses in the case are using pseudonyms, they say, to protect their identities.

    Ronnie Abrams was appointed by Barack Obama in 2011.

    The plaintiff’s allegation seems to be that she was raped in a setting where Jeffrey Epstein of “Lolita Express” and Bill Clinton fame were present.

    I think this is probably a setup by the DNC since the alleged rape occurred in the 1990s and the lawsuit has been previously dismissed.

    I think there is a permissive atmosphere where wealthy and popular personalities, like Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton, can be helpful to women in a career. After all, Hillary Clinton owes her career to her husband Bill. She may think she has done it on her own but Bill is a much better politician than she is and that has been obvious since the “Hillarycare” debacle in 1994. I don’t mean to imply that women politicians need men. After all Margaret Thatcher did it on her own with only support from her husband in a personal, non-political way.

    We will hear a lot about this story for the next two days and it will be important for Trump to deflate this particular balloon next Sunday. Maybe Hillary will have her child actress ask him a question about it.

    I assume he anticipated this campaign of vilification but even Trump might be distressed at the levels of hate, especially from Republicans.


    Posted in Culture, Elections, Politics, Trump | 47 Comments »

    Hurricane Prep

    Posted by Jonathan on October 6th, 2016 (All posts by )

    A friend of mine sent me this text message:

    Fred neighbor asked if I was ready for biblical storm, if I had basics like wine, weed, porn, gold bars, DNA testing and foreign currency. I said, all set!

    No worries.


    Posted in Humor | 5 Comments »

    The things my kids say

    Posted by TM Lutas on October 5th, 2016 (All posts by )

    My son just asked me if we can AirBNB our house while we evacuate for the hurricane (we’re currently leaning towards sticking Matthew out).


    Posted in Economics & Finance, Humor, Miscellaneous | 7 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Eisenhower (WWII) and MacArthur (Korea): the Limits of Civilian Control

    Posted by Jonathan on October 5th, 2016 (All posts by )


    At the very outset of creating the first integrated Anglo-American command structure in 1942, Eisenhower made it clear that he would not tolerate any diminution of his own authority and responsibility as supreme commander. The British War Office had issued its own directive to General Sir Kenneth Anderson, the British land force commander, which simply repeated the terms of that given to Haig in the Great War, authorising Anderson to appeal to his own government if and when he believed that an order from Eisenhower endangered his army. Such a directive stood in blatant contradiction to the new integrated command structure, whereby Eisenhower was serving as an Allied commander responsible to an Allied authority, the combined chiefs of staff, and thence to the prime minister and president jointly.

    [Emphasis in original.]

    Read the whole thing.


    Posted in Biography, History, Military Affairs, National Security, Organizational Analysis, United Nations, War and Peace | 10 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on October 2nd, 2016 (All posts by )

    שנה טובה – Shana Tova. Wishing a sweet and healthy year to all.

    Shana Tova


    Posted in Holidays, Judaism | 3 Comments »

    Metaphors, Interfaces, and Thought Processes (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on October 1st, 2016 (All posts by )

    Writing in today’s WSJ, Peggy Noonan says: “This year I am seeing something, especially among the young of politics and journalism.  They have received most of what they know about political history through screens  They’re college graduates…they’re bright and ambitious, but they have seen the movie and not read the book….They learned through sensation, not through books, which demand something deeper from your brain.  Reading forces you to imagine, question, ponder, reflect…Watching a movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis shows you a drama.  Reading about it shows you a dilemma.”

    The article reminded me of Neal Stephenson’s book and of this post, which I originally ran in late 2007.

    My post today is inspired by In the Beginning was the Command Line, by Neal Stephenson, a strange little book that will probably be found in the “computers” section of your local bookstore. While the book does deal with human interfaces to computer systems, its deeper subject is the impact of media and metaphors on thought processes and on work.

    Stephenson contrasts the explicit word-based interface with the graphical or sensorial interface. The first (which I’ll call the textual interface) can be found in a basic UNIX system or in an old-style PC DOS system or timesharing terminal. The second (the sensorial interface) can be found in Windows and Mac systems and in their respective application programs.

    As a very different example of a sensorial interface, Stephenson uses something he saw at Disney World–a hypothetical stone-by-stone reconstruction of a ruin in the jungles of India. It is supposed to have been built by a local rajah in the sixteenth century, but since fallen into disrepair.

    The place looks more like what I have just described than any actual building you might find in India. All the stones in the broken walls are weathered as if monsoon rains had been trickling down them for centuries, the paint on the gorgeous murals is flaked and faded just so, and Bengal tigers loll among stumps of broken columns. Where modern repairs have been made to the ancient structure, they’ve been done, not as Disney’s engineers would do them, but as thrifty Indian janitors would–with hunks of bamboo and rust-spotted hunks of rebar.

    In one place, you walk along a stone wall and view some panels of art that tell a story.

    …a broad jagged crack runs across a panel or two, but the story is still readable: first, primordial chaos leads to a flourishing of many animal species. Next, we see the Tree of Life surrounded by diverse animals…an obvious allusion (or, in showbiz lingo, a tie-in) to the gigantic Tree of Life that dominates the center of Disney’s Animal Kingdom…But it’s rendered in historically correct style and could probably fool anyone who didn’t have a PhD in Indian art history.

    The next panel shows a mustachioed H. sapiens chopping down the Tree of Life with a scimitar, and the animals fleeing every which way. The one after that shows the misguided human getting walloped by a tidal wave, part of a latter-day Deluge presumably brought on by his stupidity.

    The final panel, then, portrays the Sapling of Life beginning to grow back, but now man has ditched the edged weapon and joined the other animals in standing around to adore and praise it.

    Clearly, this exhibit communicates a specific worldview, and it strongly implies that this worldview is consistent with traditional Indian religion and culture. Most viewers will assume the connection without doing further research as to its correctness or lack thereof.

    I’d observe that as a general matter, the sensorial interface is less open to challenge than the textual interface. It doesn’t argue–doesn’t present you with a chain of facts and logic that let you sit back and say, “Hey, wait a minute–I’m not so sure about that.” It just sucks you into its own point of view.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Academia, Advertising, Deep Thoughts, Media, Politics, Tech | 15 Comments »

    Are We Going to Be Lucky Enough ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on October 1st, 2016 (All posts by )

    Another good insight from Richard Fernandez.

    Otto von Bismarck said, There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.

    Is it true? I think we may find out, especially if Hillary Clinton, in spite of all her crimes and corruption, is elected President.

    Shimon Peres said, I said, “America will win no matter what you do.”

    “Why?” he asked.

    “Because they are lucky, and you are not.”

    Is that true ? I wonder.

    The last eight years have been one unending liberal search for the Great Man of history, the belief that “history can be largely explained by the impact of ‘great men’, or heroes … who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or political skill utilized their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact.”

    Liberals thought they had it in Obama 2008. They think they have it in the historic First Woman, Hillary in 2016. They may even think they have it in Kerry. Steve Clemons of the Atlantic asked America’s top diplomat in the context of his diplomatic record: what exactly is the “John Kerry secret sauce?” And Kerry patiently explained that it was coming to an agreement with rival negotiators. “You have to figure out whether you can find in the adversaries a meeting of the minds on any of the interests and/or values.”

    This, I assume, is why they think negotiation can solve all differences.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Elections, Politics, Trump | 26 Comments »

    Resistance in Flyoverlandia

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on September 30th, 2016 (All posts by )

    I followed a link from one of my usual daily reads to Angelo Codevilla’s of-linked most recent essay, After the Republic and read it with the usual sense of renewed depression which usually attends me on reading a disquisition on our current political/social conditions. (Wretchard at Belmont Club and Victor Davis Hansen also produce pretty much the same results – what oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.)
    Especially this paragraph:

    Who, a generation ago, could have guessed that careers and social standing could be ruined by stating the fact that the paramount influence on the earth’s climate is the sun, that its output of energy varies and with it the climate? Who, a decade ago, could have predicted that stating that marriage is the union of a man and a woman would be treated as a culpable sociopathy, or just yesterday that refusing to let certifiably biological men into women’s bathrooms would disqualify you from mainstream society? Or that saying that the lives of white people “matter” as much as those of blacks is evidence of racism? These strictures came about quite simply because some sectors of the ruling class felt like inflicting them on the rest of America. Insulting presumed inferiors proved to be even more important to the ruling class than the inflictions’ substance.

    Repeating the last sentence for emphasis: “Insulting presumed inferiors proved to be even more important to the ruling class than the inflictions’ substance.” Especially since the tidal-spew of insult from that we think of as the bi-coastal ruling class, the gatekeepers, the fortunate 1%, the intellectual class and the media darlings towards ordinary, working-class and middle-class residents of what I have begun thinking of as Flyoverlandia has achieved tsunami-depth in the last few years … indeed, the last few months. Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events | 40 Comments »

    “Scientists Say”

    Posted by David Foster on September 28th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Almost every day, I see a headline that starts with the words “scientists say”…everything from “Scientists say pizza is better than money for motivating employees” to “scientists say men who are good listeners are better at sex.”  Sometimes the headlines go even further and assert that “science says.”

    If you try to track down the actual headlines behinds these assertions, you will often find a study done on 40 or so undergraduates, sometimes using questionable methodologies, on which the journalists base their imprimatur of ‘science says.’  And very often, you can’t ever read the study unless you’re willing to pay $30 or more for the privilege, because it’s in an access-controlled journal.  This doesn’t stop the university PR departments from issuing breathless press releases about the study conclusions, though.

    It’s sort of sad–scientific publishing was once a way of disseminating information; now it functions largely as a means for limiting access to information.  I have a hard time understanding why publicly-funded research shouldn’t be required to be publicly available on the Internet at no or minimal cost.

    I think the ‘scientists say’ and ‘science says’ memes would not work in a society where most of the population had some degree of scientific education.  Science is not shamanism, and scientists are not oracles.


    Posted in Academia, Media, Science, USA | 25 Comments »

    Remembering Neptunus Lex

    Posted by David Foster on September 26th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Bill Brandt has assembled and posted some comments by readers about what Lex meant to them.  Very much worth reading.


    Posted in Aviation, Blogging, Internet, Military Affairs, Personal Narrative, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    A Really Big Short Still Awaits

    Posted by Kevin Villani on September 24th, 2016 (All posts by )

    When testifying in 2010 before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission into the financial crash, then Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke recommended only one reference, Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World (2009), presumably for the narrative that insufficient money printing in the aftermath of the Great War lead to the next one. Right idea, wrong narrative!

    The US homeownership rate peaked at a rate well above the current level almost a half century ago mostly funded by a system of private mutual savings banks and savings and loans. The historical justification for federal “secondary market” agencies was political expediency – exemption from now obsolete federal, state and local laws and regulations inhibiting a national banking and mortgage market. Now government-run enterprises account for about 90% of all mortgages, with the Fed their primary funding mechanism, what the Economist recently labeled a de facto nationalization.

    The Historical Evolution

    How did the private US housing finance system repeatedly go bankrupt? To quote Hemingway: Gradually, then suddenly. The two competing political narratives of the cause of financial market crises remain at the extremes – either a private market or public political failure – with diametrically opposite policy prescriptions. The politician-exonerating market failure narrative has not surprisingly dominated policy, with past compromises contributing to the systemic financial system failure, the global recession of 2008 and subsequent nationalization.

    The Great Depression stressed the S&L system, but the industry’s vigorous opposition to both federal deposit insurance and the Fannie Mae secondary market proved prescient as the federally chartered savings and loan industry eventually succumbed by 1980 to the federal deposit insurer’s perverse politically imposed mandate of funding fixed rate mortgages with short term deposits and competition from the government sponsored enterprises.

    The S&Ls were largely replaced by the commercial banks. To make banks competitive with Fannie and Freddie, politicians and regulators allowed virtually the same extreme leverage, in return for a comparable low-income lending mandate – CRA requirements leading to a market dominating $4 trillion in commitments to community groups to whom the Clinton Administration had granted virtual veto power over new branch and merger authority.

    The Financial Crisis of 2008 and the aftermath

    The Big Short by Michael Lewis and more recent movie portrayed not just banker greed but the extreme frustration of those shorting the US mortgage market stymied by a housing price bubble many times greater than any in recorded US history that refused to burst. The reasons: 1. the Fed kept rates low and money plentiful, and 2. whereas banks would have run out of funding capacity, the ability of Fannie and Freddie to continuously borrow at the Treasury’s cost of funds regardless of risk and their HUD Mission Regulator requirement to maintain a 50% market share kept the bubble inflating to systemic proportions.

    The Obama Administration fully embraced the alternative private market failure narrative in Fed policy, regulation and legislation:

    • To partially ameliorate the effects on the real economy of disruption to the global payments mechanism the Fed had to bail out the banking system. QE1/2/3/4 and ZIRP (zero rates), now NIRP, did this by re-inflating the house price bubble, postponing defaults while allowing banks risk-free profits. The Fed – and taxpayers – would lose more than the entire S&L industry did should rates rise by a comparable amount if it marked its balance sheet to market.
    • Regulators had to appear to punish the banks. In response to paying hundreds of billions of dollars in what the Economist labeled “extortion” – some of which ironically went to populist political action groups – and the subsequent oppressive regulatory regime, U.S. commercial banks are exiting the US mortgage market in spite of ongoing profits enabled by extreme leverage.
    • One legislative centerpiece, the Dodd Frank Act passed in July 2010 in direct response to the financial crisis, doubled down on political control of financial markets without addressing the future of Fannie and Freddie. The other, Obamacare, enacted four months earlier, was similarly premised on regulating private health insurers to make health insurance simultaneously cheaper and more widely available.

    The Long Term Consequences

    Bernanke’s focus on choosing the narrative was useful, but the political choice of the market failure narrative appears to reflect convenience rather than conviction. The direct taxpayer costs of implicit or explicit public insurance and guarantees come with both a whimper – tax savings amounting to tens of billions annually due to the deductibility of interest costs – and a bang – future taxpayer bailouts generally delivered off-budget.

    Fannie and Freddie conservatorship deftly avoided debt consolidation while dividends reduced reported federal deficits. The student loan market has also been de facto nationalized, with potential unbudgeted losses totaling hundreds of billions. Obamacare was similarly premised on regulating private health insurers to make health insurance simultaneously cheaper and more widely available, but under-budgeted health insurance subsidies predictable caused massive losses and health insurers are now withdrawing from the market.

    Monetary policies caused household savings to stagnate as returns to retirement savings evaporated. Defined obligation public pension funds were all rendered technically insolvent when funding is valued at current market returns rather than the assumed rate as much as ten times that. The failure of the economy to grow per capita was explained as the “new normal”. But politicians made no attempt to reflect the implied technically insolvency of public pensions or Social Security and Medicare.

    Private firms fail, but private markets rarely do. Public protection and regulation makes firms “too big to fail” until markets fail systemically. The current and projected future public debt bubble is unsustainable, and financial markets will eventually ignore the accounting deceptions and pop it. The relative weakness of other sovereign debt is delaying the inevitably, making The Really Big Short a good title for a Michael Lewis’s sequel. Politicians and central bankers will again say “nobody saw this coming”. What then?

    Kevin Villani, chief economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985, is a principal of University Financial Associates. He has held senior government positions, been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue on the political origins of the sub-prime lending bubble and aftermath. This article was originally published at


    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Markets and Trading, Predictions, Public Finance, Real Estate, Systems Analysis | 21 Comments »

    Friday Diversion: The Launch of Luna City 3.1

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on September 23rd, 2016 (All posts by )

    Yes – just this week, we have launched the third of the Luna City Chronicles – there will be at least two more, and possibly beyond, as it is a fun series to write and readers seem to enjoy them immensely.
    Behold the cover –


    Luna City 3.1 is available on Amazon for Kindle and in print (although the cover image doesn’t show, yet) and on Barnes & Noble.

    As a bonus – a short snippet of a chapter –
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Americas, Arts & Letters, Book Notes | 5 Comments »