… or, The War between Truth and Superstition.
The topic of the persecution of Galileo by the Catholic Church arose recently on our pages in controversial comments under our post Wicked people causing climate change, 1437-2015 (May 20, 2015).
Here are four short videos that tell the story dramatically: how the immense power of the Catholic Church ensured the victory of lies over truth – but only for a time. The makers of the videos are careful to indicate that the Vatican eventually conceded what it could no longer deny:
Brooklyn Bridge, a cable-stayed suspension bridge, completed in 1883, spans the East River in New York. It was the brainchild of John A. Roebling
Here is an article by Michelle Malkin, titled Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge?:
How many times have you heard President Obama and his minions pat themselves on the back for their noble “investments” in “roads and bridges”? Without government infrastructure spending, we’re incessantly reminded, we wouldn’t be able to conduct our daily business.
“Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive,” Vice President Joe Biden infamously asserted. “Private enterprise,” he sneered, lags behind.
As always, the Beltway narcissists have it backward. Without private enterprise and free-market visionaries, public infrastructure wouldn’t exist.
Take the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, which turned 132 years old this week. It’s not a government official whose vision built that. It’s a fierce capitalist who revolted against unimaginative command-and-control bureaucrats in his home country.
Before he went on to pioneer aqueducts and suspension bridges across America, culminating in the Brooklyn Bridge, John Roebling was a government engineer in the German province of Westphalia. A cog in the Prussian building machine, he chafed under autocratic rule. No decisions could be made, no actions taken, he complained in his diary, “without first having an army of government councilors, ministers, and other functionaries deliberate about it for ten years, make numerous expensive journeys by post, and write so many long reports about it, that for the amount expended for all this, reckoning compound interest for ten years, the work could have been completed”.
Fed up with innovation-stifling conformity, subordination and red tape, the ambitious 25-year-old Roebling set sail for the U.S. in 1831 aboard the American-built ship August Edward. During the 78-day journey, he wrote of his hopes and dreams “to found a new home in the western continent beyond the ocean, a new fatherland free from tyranny”. Upon arriving in Philadelphia, he celebrated his adopted land’s free-market economy.
“The numerous hindrances, restrictions and obstacles, which are set up by timid governments and countless hosts of functionaries against every endeavor in Germany, are not to be found here,” he reflected in a letter to friends and family.
“The foreigner must be astounded at what the public spirit of these republicans has accomplished up to now and what it still accomplishes every day. All undertakings take place through the association of private persons. In these the principal aim is naturally the making of money.” The pursuit of self-interest was in of itself a source of public good, he concluded, “principally (as) a result of unrestricted intercourse in a concerted action of an enlightened, self-governing people.”
Roebling failed at silkworm-farming, fabric-dying, rape seed oil farming and canary-raising before embarking on his engineering career. He patented an improved boiler for steamships, a safety gauge for a steam-boiler flue and a steam-powered motorcycle. He traveled wherever he could utilize his skills – constructing dams on the Beaver River, consulting on hydraulics on the Croton River Aqueduct, knocking on doors for work across Pennsylvania.
With unbridled determination to build a lucrative family business, he patented and pioneered America’s first commercially successful wire rope company. Frugal and financially savvy, Roebling operated on saved capital and refused to borrow. Several of his new clients paid him in stock, and he soon had a thriving investment portfolio. Coal mining companies in the anthracite region snapped up his sturdy cables.
Did he have “help” along the way? Plenty – from other capitalists, that is.
Roebling purchased his wire from industrial pioneer Robert Townsend, who had founded the first iron wire mill west of the Allegheny Mountains in 1816. Townsend, who had learned the wire-making trade from Baltimore wire weaver Hugh Balderson, manufactured rivets, nails, fasteners and telegraph wire, in addition to supplying Roebling with wire for his early experiments and projects.
Samuel Wickersham’s Pittsburgh Wire Works also supplied wire as Roebling gained more project work. And Sligo Iron Works made charcoal “blooms” for Roebling’s wire: large blocks cast from molten iron and later steel, which were then “hot rolled” at high temperatures between two rotating cylinders into wire rods.
Later, Roebling’s sons Charles and Ferdinand built a 200-acre state-of-the-art manufacturing campus, steel plant and village outside Trenton, N.J. Employing 8,000 workers, Kinkora Works produced everything from chicken wire and telegraph wire to tramway and elevator cables.
The suspension cables on the Golden Gate and George Washington bridges were manufactured by the Roeblings. So were the control cables in the Spirit of St. Louis, the first airplane to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and the tramway and construction cables used to build the Panama Canal. Even the wires used to stabilize the wings of the Wright Brothers’ aircraft used Roebling trusses.
Here’s the lesson White House progressives and Common Core historians won’t teach: Roebling’s Brooklyn Bridge is a towering legacy of the countless pursuits of individual American innovators who benefited the public by benefiting themselves and their families. The wealth-shaming social engineers in Washington will never understand. Private profit is a public good.
John Augustus Roebling
(Hat-tip to our Facebook commenter Nadir H. Khan)
What is unique about American foreign policy today is not just that it is rudderless, but how quickly and completely the 70-year postwar order seems to have disintegrated — and how little interest the American people take in the collapse, thanks to the administration’s apparent redeeming message, which translates, “It’s their misfortune and none of our own.”
We quote from an article by Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review.
He sets before us a picture of what passes for US foreign policy under Obama, and the disasters that have ensued from it – and continue to get worse.
ISIS took Ramadi last week. …
On a smaller scale, ISIS is doing to the surge cities of Iraq what Hitler did to his neighbors between 1939 and 1941, and what Putin is perhaps doing now on the periphery of Russia. In Ramadi, ISIS will soon do its accustomed thing of beheading and burning alive its captives, seeking some new macabre twist to sustain its Internet video audience.
We in the West trample the First Amendment and jail a video maker for posting a supposedly insensitive film about Islam; in contrast, jihadists post snuff movies of burnings and beheadings to global audiences.
We argue not about doing anything or saving anybody, but about whether it is inappropriate to call the macabre killers “jihadists”. When these seventh-century psychopaths tire of warring on people, they turn to attacking stones, seeking to ensure that there is not a vestige left of the Middle East’s once-glorious antiquities. I assume the ancient Sassanid and Roman imperial site at Palmyra will soon be looted and smashed. …
As long as we are not involved at the center of foreign affairs and there is no perceptible short-term danger to our security, few seem to care much that western North Africa is a no-man’s-land. Hillary Clinton’s “lead from behind” created a replay of Somalia in Libya.
The problem with Turkey’s Recep Erdogan is not that he is no longer Obama’s “special friend,” but that he was ever considered a friend at all, as he pressed forward with his plan to destroy Turkish democracy in the long march to theocracy.
There was never much American good will for the often duplicitous Gulf monarchies, so the general public does not seem to be worried that they are now spurned allies. That estrangement became possible because of growing U.S. self-sufficiency in oil and gas (thanks to fracking, which Obama largely opposed). Still, let us hope the Gulf States remain neutral rather than becoming enemies — given their financial clout and the availability of Pakistani bombs for Sunni petrodollars.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has it in for Israel. Why, no one quite knows, given that the Jewish state is the only democratic and liberal society in the Middle East. Perhaps it resembles the United States too closely, and thus earns the reflected hypercriticism that so many leftists cultivate for their own civilization.
Theocratic Iran has won more sympathy from the Obama administration. No neutral observer believes that the current policy of lifting sanctions and conducting negotiations will not lead to an Iranian bomb; it is hoped only that this will be unveiled on the watch of another president, who will be castigated as a warmonger if he is forced to preempt its rollout.
The current American foreign policy toward Iran is baffling. Does Obama see the theocracy as a valuable counterweight to the Sunni monarchies? Is it more authentic in the revolutionary sense than the geriatric hereditary kingdoms in the Gulf? Or is the inexplicable policy simply a matter of John Kerry’s gambit for a Nobel Peace Prize or some sort of Obama legacy in the eleventh hour, a retake of pulling all U.S. peacekeepers home from a once-quiet Iraq so that Obama could claim he had “ended the war in Iraq”?
Hillary Clinton has been talking up her successful tenure as secretary of state. But mysteriously she has never specified exactly where, when, or how her talents shone. What is she proud of? Reset with Russia? The Asian pivot to discourage Chinese bellicosity? The critical preliminary preparations for talks with Iran? The Libyan misadventure? Or perhaps we missed a new initiative to discourage North Korean aggression? Some new under-appreciated affinity with Israel and the Gulf monarchies? The routing of ISIS, thanks to Hillary’s plans? Shoring up free-market democracies in Latin America? Proving a model of transparency as secretary? Creating a brilliant new private-public synergy by combining the work of the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, and Bill’s lecturing –as evidenced by the Haitian renaissance and nation-building in Kazakhstan?
He also considers the administration’s domestic failures:
Meanwhile, no one seems to much care that between 2009 and 2017, we will have borrowed 8 trillion more dollars. Yet for all that stimulus, the U.S. economy still has staggering labor non-participation rates, flat GDP growth, and stagnant household income. As long as zero interest rates continue, the rich make lots of money in the stock market, and the debt can grow by $500 billion a year and still be serviced. Financial sobriety is now defined as higher taxes bringing in record revenues to service half-trillion-dollar annual additions to an $18 trillion debt.
The liberal approach to the underclass continues as it has been for the last 50 years: The elites support huge, unquestioned redistributionist entitlements for the inner city as penance for avoiding it. Minorities are left to run their own political affairs without much worry that their supposed benefactors live apartheid lives, protected by the proof of their caring. The public is left with the lie “Hands up, don’t shoot” as a construct that we will call true, because the made-up last-seconds gasps of Michael Brown perhaps should have happened that way. As an elite bookend, we have a Columbia coed toting around a mattress as proof of society’s insensitivity to sexual violence, which in her case both her university and the New York City police agree never occurred. In theory, perhaps it could have and thus all but did.
As far as scandals go, no one much cares any more about the implosion of the Veterans Administration. In the public’s defense, though, how does one keep straight the multitudinous scandals — Lois Lerner and the rogue IRS, the spying on and tapping of Associated Press journalists, the National Security Agency disclosures, Fast and Furious, the serial lying about needless deaths in Benghazi, the shenanigans at the General Services Administration, the collapse of sobriety at the Secret Service, the rebooting of air-traffic controllers’ eligibility to be adjudicated along racial and ethnic lines, and the deletions from Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server, which doubled as her government server.
Always there is the administration’s populist anthem of “You didn’t build that”; instead, you must have won the lottery from President Obama. If his economic programs are not working, there is always the finger pointing at those who are too well off. Michelle Obama lectured a couple of weeks ago on museum elitism and prior neglect of the inner city, in between recounting some slights and micro-aggressions that she has endured, presumably on jumbo-jet jaunts to Costa del Sol and Aspen. I think her point is that it is still worse to be rich, powerful, and black than, say, poor, ignored, and non-black. …
He concludes on a note of despondency not far off from despair:
The center of this culture is not holding. …
More Americans privately confess that American foreign policy is dangerously adrift. They would agree that the U.S. no longer has a southern border, and will have to spend decades and billions of dollars coping with millions of new illegal aliens.
Some Americans are starting to fear that the reckless borrowing under Obama will wreck the country if not stopped.
Racial tensions, all concede, are reaching dangerous levels, and Americans do not know what is scarier: inner-city relations between blacks and the police, the increasing anger of the black underclass at establishment America — or the even greater backlash at out-of-control violent black crime and the constant scapegoating and dog whistles of racism.
Whatever liberalism is, it is not working.
It’s certainly not “liberal” in the real meaning of the word. It is the opposite – dictatorial.
We call it Leftism. It has the Western world in its crushing grip.
This report from Townhall, by Matt Vespa, reveals to whom Hillary Clinton sold herself. And how she and Bill Clinton pimp their country.
Under [Hillary] Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure – derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) – represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.
The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House. American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements.
Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department between 2009 and 2012. The State Department formally approved these arms sales even as many of the deals enhanced the military power of countries ruled by authoritarian regimes whose human rights abuses had been criticized by the department. Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents.
In all, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton’s State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records. The Clinton Foundation publishes only a rough range of individual contributors’ donations, making a more precise accounting impossible.
Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions – a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy. But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers. …
National security experts assert that the overlap between the list of Clinton Foundation donors and those with business before the State Department presents a troubling conflict of interest.
Troubling? Just slightly worrying? Not a reason for an absolute bar on Hillary Clinton holding any public office ever again?
The Clintons are political whores. Plain and simple. Want them to lead the country? Down to what depths of moral depravity?
Colonel Richard Kemp, formerly Commander of the British forces in Afghanistan, deplores the abandonment by the Western world of the values that made it strong and great, and explains why he admires and defends Israel. (We have a difference of opinion with him over the expression “Judeo-Christian values”, but heartily agree with everything else he says.)
Barack Obama … has done more to diminish America’s standing, power, and military than any single figure in American history.
– So Mark Tapson writes at Front Page.
He goes on (in part):
Last Friday, as the week downshifted into the Memorial Day three-day holiday, the official Twitter account of the Democratic Party … tweeted a pic of – whom else? – President Obama lapping at an ice cream cone while media lapdogs zoomed their cameras in to capture the photo op. … For Barack Obama, of course, everything is about Barack Obama.
This all came in the wake of the fall of Ramadi in Iraq to the demonic forces of ISIS – you know, the JV team that has absolutely nothing to do with Islam. In the early years of the war in Iraq, more American lives were lost in the intense fighting to secure the province of Anbar, which includes Ramadi and Fallujah, than anywhere else in the country. Now our warriors who survived that fighting, and the families and friends of those who didn’t, are watching ISIS reclaim Iraq and are wondering what that sacrifice was for.
In this short video, Ezra Levant demonstrates how dangerously silly is this president of the United States.
The Washington Post reports:
Senators left Capitol Hill early Saturday morning without taking action to extend or replace a controversial surveillance program set to expire at month’s end, paralyzed by a debate over the proper balance between civil liberties and national security.
Our tentative answer to the dilemma: As there’s an administration in power that believes government should control our lives, we would vote for civil liberties over national security; if there were an administration that knows it’s first duty is to protect our freedom, we would trust it not to overstep the mark, so we would vote for national security.
And yet …
Trouble is, even if we were so lucky as to get a reasonably trustworthy administration, it could all too easily be replaced by another statist gang such as we have at present.
Readers are invited to give their own views on this difficult conundrum.
The ancient theatre of Palmyra
This is from GOPUSA:
The historic city of Palmyra has fallen almost entirely under the control of Islamic State, after forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, collapsed under a seven-day siege that has left the magnificent ruins there exposed to near-certain destruction by the terror group.
Not so much a “terror group” – terrifyingly savage though it is – as an Islamic army on the warpath for conquest, subjugation, destruction and loot.
The ancient city, once a Silk Road hub and one of the cultural centres of the ancient world that occupies mythological status in Syria, is home to some of the most beautiful and well-preserved ruins of antiquity, including the Temple of Bel, built in the first century.
Isis considers the preservation of such historical ruins a form of idolatry and has destroyed temples and historic artefacts, as well as ancient Assyrian sites in Nineveh in Iraq, after conquering the province in a lightning offensive last year.
The group has profited from looting historic treasures, in addition to scoring propaganda victories by the wanton destruction of archaeological sites, and Palmyra is likely to face a similar fate now. …
Experts say the group benefits from its destruction of cultural heritage because it shows the militants can act with impunity and exposes the impotence of the international community in the face of the provocations.
Valley of the Tombs: The Royal Necropolis of Ancient Thebes was located south-west of Palmyra in an area called the Valley of the Tombs. This image shows an underground burial chamber for three wealthy brothers