Donating limbs to the savages of Afghanistan 1

American soldiers are suffering horrific life-ruining injuries in Afghanistan because of a stupid directive issued by General Petraeus, who dreams ridiculously that their obedience to it will transform Afghanistan into Martha’s Vineyard (so to speak).

This is from Townhall by Diana West:

Only the U.S. military could build a defensive wall of words — “dismounted complex blast injury” (DCBI) — around the bare fact that single, double, triple, even quadruple amputations are up sharply among U.S. forces on foot patrol in Afghanistan. So are associated pelvic, abdominal and genital injuries according to a newly released report.

Even the antiseptic language of the report is excruciating, as when it calls for “further refinement” of “aggressive pain management at the POI (point of injury),” or highlights the need to train more military urologists in “phallic reconstruction surgery.”

These grievous injuries have increased because more U.S. forces are on foot patrol in Afghanistan. More Americans are on foot patrol in Afghanistan because counterinsurgency strategy puts them there. … The Associated Press account is typical: “The counterinsurgency tactic that is sending U.S. soldiers out on foot patrols among the Afghan people, rather than riding in armored vehicles, has contributed to a dramatic increase in arm and leg amputations, genital injuries and the loss of multiple limbs following blast injuries.”

But what exactly this counterinsurgency (COIN) tactic is designed to accomplish remains off the radar. The fact is, Uncle Sam is asking young Americans to risk limbs, urinary function and testicles to win something not only intangible but also fantastical. They walk the bomb-packed byways of Afghanistan to win — to “earn” — “the trust of the Afghan people.” This is the mythological, see-no-Islam quest that drives U.S. COIN strategy.

Once we stop trying to remake Afghanistan in something akin to our own image, once we start preventing Islam from remaking the West into a Shariah-compliant zone  … these shattering body blasts to young Americans on the other side of the world will cease.

Meanwhile, “the trust of the Afghan people” is the holy grail of the Washington establishment, and, even after retiring from the military, Gen. David Petraeus, now director of the CIA, remains chief myth-maker. “Earn the people’s trust,” Petraeus wrote in a signal “Counterinsurgency Guidance” issued Aug. 1, 2010. From his list of how-tos — which range from dispense payola (“COIN-contracting”), to “help them develop checks and balances to prevent abuses” (good luck with that), to “drink lots of tea” — one order stands out, particularly in light of this week’s report on amputations resulting from foot patrols. Petraeus wrote: “Walk. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population.”

One year later, the Army is reckoning with the carnage and after-care requirements that are consequences of this key tactic of COIN strategy. It is high time for the rest of us to reckon with them, too. Is COIN working? Is the burden of suffering that the nation is placing on the military worth the return? Frankly, when it comes to winning “the trust of the Afghan people,” is there any return?


And why should Americans care whether untrustworthy Afghans trust them or not? Leave the Afghans to their poor, nasty, brutish lives. Even if the Afghan nation could be saved from its chosen primitivism, perpetual inter-tribal strife, and traditional misery, its salvation would not be worth the loss of one joint of one finger or toe of a single American soldier.

A man named Jesus or something like that 37

We will soon be writing again about Christianity. Before we do, we want to get Jesus of Nazareth out of the way as he has very little to do with the Christian religion, no matter what the Christians claim. The thinnest of threads connects the (probable) historical Jesus to the “Christ Jesus” who was born in the imagination of Christianity’s author, known to history as St. Paul.

The Jesus on whom Christianity built its essential fictions probably did exist.

Jesus was a common name at the time, the Greek for Joshua or Jeshua or Jesse or some such Hebrew name. Think of it as a name like Kevin or Juan or Ronald today – nothing special.

What is also probably true of this particular Jesus is that he was a preacher, that he had a following of some tens or hundreds, and now and then perhaps an audience of hundreds and possibly thousands. He was one of the preaching laymen of his time, a rabbi. It was a time when rabbis were becoming an increasingly important feature of religious life in Judea. They were pious men, “Hasidim” – not to be confused with members of the Hasidic movement of our time – who imparted religious knowledge and offered moral guidance. They were ordinary members of their local communities who supported themselves with various trades and occupations. They were not – and never became – priests. The priests were members of an hereditary caste whose duty was to perform the rituals of the Temple, and when the Temple was destroyed an active Jewish priesthood ceased to exist.

It has often been said that if Jesus had been of any real importance in the Judea of his day, there would have been records of what he said and did. Both the Romans and the Jews were record keepers, the Romans meticulously so. However, the absence of records doesn’t mean there weren’t any. Its more likely that they were deliberately destroyed; not by (pre-Christian) Romans who would have had no reason to do it, nor by Jews who would probably have liked to preserve them. The only group who would have had reason to destroy true records of the Rabbi Jesus were the Christians themselves, but when and what cannot be guessed.

The truth is that nothing is known of this Jesus with any certainty. From Josephus we get some evidence of his existence, a passage in one version of his famous History which many believe to have been a forged interpolation, and an anecdote about one James, “a brother of Jesus”, being stoned to death in 62 C.E.

We also know that some who followed Jesus in his lifetime had believed him to be the longed-for Messiah. (The Messiah was desperately hoped for in those years, and now and then a “spiritual” or military leader was declared to be him, the Annointed One, come to save them from Roman rule and taxes. He would be a human being, a descendant of King David.) We know that Jesus’s followers had believed this of him because they survived him and founded a religious sect, consisting entirely of law-abiding Jews, who would not give up the idea of his Messiahship even after his shocking and humiliating execution as an insurrectionist leader. His death by the Roman method of crucifixion, with a notice over his head mocking him as “King of the Jews”, is also a probable fact about him.

The members of the sect, known as the Nazarenes – and/or the Ebionites – believed that Jesus would come back in the flesh to fulfill his Messiahship. Most Jews at the time believed in bodily resurrection after death. (The ones who didn’t were the priests, who were also the aristocrats, including the royal family of the priest-kings who had ruled the nation for some generations before Judea became a Roman province.)

They thought it would happen quite soon, in their lifetimes. This optimistic group are said by Christians to have been the first “Christians”, in that they were followers of the “Christ” – “Christ” being the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. But they were not Christians in the sense that is meant by Christians: they did not believe that Jesus was God.

When the last of those who had known Jesus in his lifetime died without witnessing his return, another generation waited for the event. This exercise in patience and disappointment went on for some hundreds of years. None of them ever believed that Jesus was divine (except for an obscure break-away group of Ebionites in the fourth century).

And that is as much as we can say about “the historical Jesus”. How much the biblical Jesus resembles him, we can only guess.

We know nothing of his family, except the one brother James. Ingenious historians have worked out that he had a number of other brothers, one named Judas (or “Jude”) who might have been his twin. Twins enter into the rumors of his life which we know as the gospels. There we find one Thomas Didymus, for instance. As both “Thomas” and “Didymus” mean “twin”, we have a man named “Twin Twin” (which if not improbable is at least odd and certainly redundant).

We can conjecture further, without proofs. He would probably have been married since orthodox Jewish men were required to marry. He probably lived in the Galilee, a fertile region of Judea, in a time when the economy of the Roman Empire was doing particularly well. His family were unlikely to have been poor, and may have been wealthy.

Nothing that is reported of him suggests any extraordinary insight or notable originality of thought. His sayings and moral tales were the common currency of rabbinical teaching. (The miracles attributed to him – changing wine into water, raising the dead, walking on water etc. – were a standard set.) But he must have had what the Greeks call “charisma”, a special gift that attracted followers and made them believe he had a high calling.

And that’s about as much as we can know or reasonably suppose about Jesus of Nazareth. We deduce that he lived, that he preached and taught, that an unknown number of people had high expectations of his fulfilling an historic role in Jewish history but he did not live to do so, being crucified as an insurrectionist leader by the Roman authorities.

This thin conjectured record can be put away now on the shelf. It will not need to be taken down again. For what subsequently happened in the great world, the momentous historical events connected to his name, the invention of a religion that was to prove the scourge of his people, he was not to blame. How appalled such a devout Jew would have been if he could have foreseen the atrocious persecution of his people in his name!

The real man can be forgotten, as he has been forgotten. Very little of his history is necessary to the religion that was founded in his name; almost nothing but his death. He could only be an embarrassment to it after a fictitious figure, bearing his name and endowed with a biography tailored to prove that his life had been predicted by various Jewish prophets, was claimed to be God Incarnate by the adherents of a new religion: Christianity.

Jillian Becker   September 23, 2011

Ten reasons why the UN must be abolished 23

Daniel Greenfield’s 10 Reasons to Abolish the UN is a must-read. Find it here.

These are the 10 reasons summed up in headings:

1. The United Nations Obstructs America’s Defense of the Free World

2. The United Nations is a Force of Global Injustice

3. The UN Obstructs the Prevention of Genocide

4. The UN Distorts Women’s Rights to Promote Violence against Women

5. The UN Cannot Prevent Nuclear Proliferation

6. The UN is an Undemocratic Perversion of Democracy

7. The United Nations is Hopelessly Corrupt

8. The UN is an Economic Drain on America

9. The United Nations Endangers American Civil Liberties

10. The UN Holds Human Rights Hostage to its Double Standards

The booklet is short, but every accusation is fully proved.

In his Conclusion, Greenfield writes:

The UN is a vast global employment agency with no purpose except the perpetuation of its own power and authority. Its lofty buildings and the bustle of its vast armies of employees conceal its underlying corruption and uselessness.

American participation in the United Nations supports the deception that it is an international body capable of fair-minded governance. That deception cruelly betrays the hopes of the weak and the vulnerable and abets genocide, mass rape and terror.

The United Nations has become an organizational assault on its own founding principles. And all the while it undermines the sovereignty and rights of the free member nations who still believe that all men are created equal and that governments derive their authority from the people.

The only way to redeem those principles is to exit its corridors and walk a new path toward an alternative alliance that does more than pay lip service to freedom, democracy and human rights. Only America can be the nucleus of such an alliance. And only when the nation that gave the world freedom leaves the international order that impedes it can a global alliance of free nations truly be born.


In an article titled America: The Chief Subsidizer of UN Rapists and Traffickers, chiefly concerned with what happens to whistle-blowers on the UN role in crimes of rape and the trafficking of sex slaves, Phyllis Chesler expresses her disgust with that appalling institution:

The Wilsonian-influenced ideals of the UN are not realistic or realizable.

We agree emphatically. And whenever unrealistic ideals are set, nastiness ensues. (Vide Christianity.)

The UN is predicated on the myth — nay, the lie — that UN diplomats and civil servants are morally upright, fair, decent, rational — and, not the vicious tyrants, bullies, thugs, liars, egomaniacs, cowards, and grifters that they truly are. Nor does the UN have a transparent system in place that would hold their mightily flawed personnel accountable for the crimes they commit. …

Who keeps it going, this Tower of Iniquity, this World Headquarters of Evil? More than any other country, the United States of America!   

If it is clear that the United Nations allows its peacekeeping troops to commit major human rights atrocities, why would we allow such an institution to render decisions that are meant to affect the entire world? Why would we abide by such decisions? More important: Why should the United States fund an international criminal operation? The United States pays the lion’s share of the Secretariat costs at the United Nations. Don’t worry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has assured stressed American taxpayers that the two-year headquarters budget (2010-11) will only amount to a meager $4.92 billion.

According to the UN peacekeeping website, the budget for the fiscal year 1 July 2011-30 June 2012 is approximately seven billion dollars. The United States is responsible for 27 percent of this cost, or about two billion. This is far more than what Japan (1 billion), the UK (591 million), China (285 million), Spain (230 million), or Korea (164 million) pays for peacekeepers. Interestingly, under President Barack Obama’s administration, the United States overpaid its share of the UN peacekeeping budget. In fact, our overpayment of 287 million dollars is more than what most of the world’s supporters — including China — pay for “peacekeeping.”

Why is the United States funding rapists, criminals, pimps, brothels, and sex traffickers? Why are we funding orgies? Why are we funding the most heinous betrayal of the world’s most vulnerable civilians in war zones? Why are we overpaying for UN peacekeeping?

Why is the US paying anything at all to sustain the rotten institution?


A bad book 3

Sam Harris talks critically about religion, Islam in particular. He says the Koran is a “profoundly mediocre” book. We think it is a profoundly bad book, both as imaginative literature and as moral instruction.


(Thanks to our reader Frank for the link)

Atheism and morality 16

The soundly conservative but dogmatically religious Dennis Prager writes here about atheism and morality.

We quote:

If moral standards are not rooted in God, they do not objectively exist. Good and evil are no more real than “yummy” and “yucky.” They are simply a matter of personal preference. One of the foremost liberal philosophers, Richard Rorty, an atheist, acknowledged that for the secular liberal, “There is no answer to the question, ‘Why not be cruel?'”

Richard Rorty must be a dumb sort of atheist, and that’s almost a paradox. Most atheists are atheists because they can think and do think. But then this one is also a liberal, which means he is on the side of the emotions, not of reason.

Why can’t these god-botherers get it through their superstition-stuffed heads that all moral rules, codes, precepts  – ALL are the product of human beings. No god ever said a word to anyone.

Human beings don’t want to live in a world where there is more suffering than there has to be, so they repudiate cruelty. On the whole. There are those who don’t. They are cruel whether or not they believe in divine instruction. The Catholic Church has a history of extreme cruelty stretching over hundreds of years, and the Protestant Christians were no better. Christianity is a cult of suffering. And Islam is a system of relentless sadism.

All gods are cruel. Believers use the phrase “act of God” for events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, tsunamis, which inflict anguish on every kind of living body that is threaded with nerves. If, as they believe, their God made everything, he made bacteria and viruses, all the diseases, all deformities, all the torments of the flesh.

The Left – which is to say the liberals in America – have been preaching for half a century at least that no one should be “judgmental”. Generations have been raised to believe that they should not make moral judgments. As if it is possible to live without doing so. Even to decide to be “non-judgmental” is to make a judgment. Not to judge between right and wrong is to permit wrong.

Prager ends by asking rhetorically:

Without God and Judeo-Christian religions, what else is there?

Everything, Mr Prager, everything.

And if religions were utterly abandoned, a major cause of human suffering would be gone. Moral values would stay exactly the same.

Another Arab insurrection bloodily suppressed 3

You won’t find much about it in the news media, but the pro-Arab Guardian reports on the bloody suppression of the continuing insurrection in Yemen:

For the past few weeks Change Square in Sana’a has belonged to Yemen’s young revolutionaries. It has been filled with dancing and singing to protest against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

But there was no singing on Monday. Instead, the square was filled with the echoes of gunfire and screams as the young demonstrators carried injured friends to safety, their blood dripping in a long crimson trail that led to the field hospital.

It was one of the bloodiest days yet in Yemen’s nine-month uprising, with more than 22 killed and at least 350 wounded. The carnage followed an attack on Sunday that left 30 dead and set the scene for the violence that has broken new ground in the stand-off between anti-government groups and loyalist security forces. …

On Monday night [September 19] Sana’a’s hospitals said they were unable cope with the number of casualties. Demonstrators were urgently calling for blood donors and trying to ferry the wounded to hospitals on Sana’a’s outskirts. Many of the wounds appeared to have been caused by high-calibre rounds fired into the crowds from anti-aircraft guns.

[President] Saleh, who was wounded during an explosion as he prayed in a mosque earlier in the year, remains in Riyadh as the guest of the Saudi Arabian monarch, King Abdullah …

The day’s violence was vividly illustrated bya live video stream from a field hospital set up by protesters after skirmishes with forces loyal to the president. A dead 10 month-old girl with a head wound … a screaming man with no right arm … 23 bodies were laid out in a makeshift morgue.

As night fell the shooting appeared to have spread across Sana’a as rebel units clashed with loyalist forces in a series of running battles across the city. There were reports that security forces loyal to Saleh’s son, Ahmed, were stationed near several of the hospitals that were treating the defected soldiers.

Anti-government activists in the capital blame state media for the chaos in Yemen, claiming they openly provoke attacks. …

And who does the government blame?

Yemen’s government blamed al-Qaida elements it claimed were inciting trouble inside the anti-government movement for sparking Monday’s violence.

Like all governments everywhere, this one – it will have you believe – has a soft heart and wants nothing more than to be just and to protect the people from harm:

The government of Yemen expresses its sorrow and condemnation for all acts of violence and bloodshed as those that happened yesterday in Sana’a,” the foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Kurbi, told the UN human rights council. “The government will investigate and hold accountable all those who were in charge of these acts.” …

It sorrows. It condemns acts of violence and bloodshed. However –

As he spoke government helicopters patrolled the skies of Sana’a and reportedly targeted homes and property of senior opposition leaders.

“But, but – ?” you may splutter, pointing upwards.

It helps to know that in Arab culture, reality is what is said, not what is actually happening.

“Disproportionate” retaliation? 2

A car bomb exploded in the Turkish capital Ankara today. Three people have been reported killed and fifteen injured.

The Kurdish terrorist organization PKK – the Kurdish Workers’ Party – has denied responsibility for it.

Turkey is retaliating by bombing Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. We don’t yet know the number of dead and injured among the Kurds.

We held our breath waiting for foreign ministers of Europe, the Secretary-General of the UN, and Palestinian spokesmen to declare the Turkish retaliation “disproportionate” (as they always say of Israel’s retaliations), but have had to give up in bewildered disappointment.

And not one of them has spoken the words “cycle of violence” either, even though the PKK has been pursuing its “armed struggle” and Turkey has been opposing it with force since 1984.

Funny, that.

Israel should annex the whole of the “West Bank” 5

We wrote on March 10, 2011, ” Now is the time for Israel to define its borders”. 

We did not say where the borders should be. Here is a document that does.

Representative Joe Walsh of Illinois has introduced this Resolution in the House.


Supporting Israel’s right to annex Judea and Samaria in the event that the Palestinian Authority continues to press for unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.

Whereas within the framework of the Oslo Accords, the Road Map, and other relevant Middle East peace agreements signed by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it is agreed that all future agreements are to be bilateral, negotiated between and agreed to by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority;

Whereas Section 31 of the 1995 ‘Interim Agreement’, also signed by the Palestinian Authority, states that ‘No party alone may take steps which will change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip until the end of negotiations on the final status’;

Whereas throughout this year the Palestinian Authority has acted in violation of these aforementioned agreements by unilaterally seeking a United Nations declaration of recognition for a Palestinian State without the consent or cooperation of Israel;

Whereas the Palestinian Authority has further breached its responsibility under these agreements, specifically its responsibility to renounce terrorism and end any incitement to violence against Israel, by signing a unity agreement with Hamas;

Whereas this unity agreement signed by Fatah and Hamas on May 4, 2011, was reached without Hamas being required to renounce violence, accept Israel’s right to exist, and accept prior agreements made by the Palestinian Authority (the ‘Quartet Conditions’);

Whereas Hamas, an organization responsible for the death of more than 500 innocent civilians, including 24 United States citizens, has been designated by the United States Government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a specially designated terrorist organization;

Whereas Hamas continues to forcefully reject the possibility of peace with Israel;

Whereas the Hamas Charter states that it ‘strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine’;

Whereas current United States law prohibits assistance to a Palestinian Authority which shares power with Hamas, unless Hamas publicly accepts Israel’s right to exist, renounces all terrorism and incitement to violence against Israel, and adheres to all prior agreements and understandings with the United States and Israel;

Whereas despite billions in foreign aid from the United States, the Palestinian Authority has failed to create accountable leadership or viable government in the West Bank or Gaza Strip;

Whereas the Palestinian Authority’s financial stability and continued existence is dependent on income from foreign aid;

Whereas commitments of foreign assistance to the Palestinian Authority from Arab nations have proven unreliable and, as a direct result, have weakened the stability of the Palestinian Government;

Whereas the potential for a failed Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria remains a clear and present danger to the people of Israel;

Whereas the Palestinian Authority therefore does not meet the criteria for a viable and functioning government with all the authority and responsibilities thereof;

Whereas the Jewish people have had a presence in Judea and Samaria for thousands of years;

Whereas Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has stated that if there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, the Palestinian Authority will not permit the presence of one Israeli within its limits;

Whereas Jews living outside the green line in Judea and Samaria have the same right to life and liberty as Jews and Arabs living inside the green line; and

Whereas in the absence of a peaceful agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority it is the responsibility of the Israeli Government to do everything in its power to ensure the security of its citizens, including those residing in Judea and Samaria: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives firmly supports Israel’s right to annex Judea and Samaria in the event that the Palestinian Authority continues to press for unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.

Catharsis 4

The presidency of Barack Obama is disastrous for America, and so for the world. Yet it may turn out to be good for America, and so for the world, because it is such a disaster.

Obama coming to power was “progressive” liberalism coming to power. It was environmentalism coming to power. It was a late-twentieth-century revised leftism coming to power – the leftism that had given up on a vanishing proletariat as the target of its ruthless “compassion” and substituted “victims of colonialism, racism, and sexism”. It was multiculturalism – ie sympathy with Islam – coming to power. It was Robin Hoodism – take from the rich and give to the poor –  coming to power. It was the Western-academic version of egalitarianism coming to power. All those ideological theories that had been stewing in the skullpots  of professors and community-organizers and pacifists and spoilt-kid terrorists ever since the 60s and Vietnam, could now at last be put into practice, and a new Virtuous America would emerge. There would be “social justice”. There would be “free” health care for all and education distributed and quality-controlled by the wise decisions of trade union bosses. Everyone would work – in ever greater numbers for the government. There would be no more fossil-fuel pollution; the sun, the wind and the waves would keep everyone cleanly supplied with light and warmth and transport. No one would eat too much or anything bad for their health. Of course everyone would be less free, but that would be a trifling sacrifice for Virtuous America. All the Left’s high ideals would at last be realized.

To do this Obama was elected.

He has made America poorer and weaker.

Will the lesson be learnt?

If the Obama disaster doesn’t bring the ideology of the Left into derision forever, it should at least keep a few generations from trying the failed experiment again.

Victor Davis Hanson is thinking along the same lines as we are. He writes at PajamasMedia:

Barack Obama has done the United States a great, though unforeseen, favor. He has brought to light, as no one else could, many of the pernicious assumptions of our culture from the last half-century. He turned theory and “what ifs” into fact for all America to see, experience, and, yes, suffer through. …

As a young, post-racial, first African-American president — glib, hip, cool, charismatic, with unapologetic Chicago hard-core leftist roots and Ivy League certification — Barack Obama was right out of liberal central casting. He would do what no other liberal had done in fifty years: prove to America that it really, really was left-of-center by ramming down its throat both a liberal agenda and thousands of left-wing facilitators. …  Obama arrived with a super-majority in the Senate, and a large majority in the House: anything was now possible and almost everything was thus tried. …

At last we sheep got the messianic prophet to deliver the divine message. When he was declared a “god,” with supernatural powers that sent tingles up journalists’ legs, we were at last to climb the mount into the Promised Land. Electing him was the trick; simply enacting his redistributive agenda would be easy … now the people’s money could be at last directed to saving the planet, helping mankind, and bringing heaven to earth. …

What of the Obama effect on the outer world – of the weaker America?

I don’t think another president will ask the Arab League and the UN — but not the U.S. Congress — whether he can lead from behind France and Britain in bombing an Arab oil exporter on behalf of “rebels” who promise Sharia Law. “Putting light” between America and Israel earned us this week’s charade at the UN, and a new Middle East war on the horizon in the manner of 1967 or 1973, but this time with new enemies on the periphery like Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan in addition to a hostile Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. “Reset” won’t be used any more, and the idea that friends like Britain, Israel, Eastern Europe, etc. were to be shunned while rivals and enemies like the Palestinians, Russia, and the Latin American communists were to be courted is over also. Friends are friends for a reason, and enemies the same …

And of the poorer America?

After $5 trillion in borrowing and 9.1% unemployment, Keynesian economics has been slain by Obama. Oh, Obama may crisscross the country demanding just one more chance to borrow another half-trillion to “grow jobs,” but no one is listening any more. “Shovel ready,” “stimulus,” “investments,” and “infrastructure” simply have been redefined by Obama as euphemisms for wasteful borrowing. I doubt they will regain currency for a decade or so. And thanks to Obama, a billion is now a passé noun, and trillion has been reduced to the status of monopoly money. …

The old welfare state after Obama will soon be addressed as never before. With almost 50 million on food stamps, and record numbers on new extended unemployment insurance, with Medicare and Social Security nearly insolvent, the Obama boilerplate remedies of making “millionaires and billionaires,” “corporate jet owners,” and “fat cat bankers” pay their fair share won’t nearly be enough. Obama demagogued the “fair share” issue to the death, and it cannot be demagogued much longer since the money is about gone. …

Of nationalized health care?

For much of the 1950s and 1960s, we were told that we lacked a British-style National Health Service, thanks to all sorts of devilish AMA conspiracies. JFK, LBJ, and Carter could not get passed what we all secretly were supposed to have craved. Hillarycare failed. But Obama alone brought us federalized health care, a trillion-dollar borrowing plan that will supposedly streamline care, save us trillions in the long term, and cost less in the here and now, as state GS-20 doctors attend to us, in DMV lines, far better than their greedy counterparts. Despite all the noble lies, no one believes that. After 2012, ObamaCare will be repealed in short order, and there will be no more fantasies about economical cradle-to-grave health care denied us by conspiratorial doctors and greedy insurers. …

Of race relations?

The public thought, with their first “black” president, they would be hearing even-handed lectures, as one week Obama explained why the federal government had to ensure equality of opportunity in a multiracial society, while on the next he gently warned minorities not to rely on government to ensure parity when success or failure for all Americans far more often hinged on personal choices, discipline, and sacrifice. Instead, Obama voted present while his surrogates ensured that America is more racially polarized than any time in our history [recent history, anyway – JB]. But this too was cathartic. A majority of the population of all races has simply tuned out the now near meaningless charge of “racist” and sees the real danger to America in racial tribalization and balkanization rather than classical racial discrimination. We will see another black president some day, but race will be incidental not essential to his or her character.

Of environmentalism?

For the foreseeable future, “millions of green jobs” and “cap and trade” are also the stuff of comedy. Thanks to Obama we’ve been there with Van Jones, Solyndra, and EPA hyper-regulations, and done that. I don’t think Al Gore will be any more quoted or EU policies emulated. More likely we will go back to finding new fossil fuel sources as private technology keeps improving on alternative energy. Fairly or not, “green” conjures up everything from Climategate to Solyndra, and suggests an entire class of elite academics, financiers, and activists who wished to follow the oil companies’ crony-capitalist business plans of the 1940s and 1950s without the basic truth that oil is a logical energy source and so far a windmill isn’t.

Of socialist idealism in general?

After Obama, I don’t think there will be any more John Kerry or Al Gore sermons about the superior Europe model either. A disarmed, undemocratic, insolvent, shrinking, and increasingly polarized continent is now a model of what the United States should not be. There simply have been too many California as Greece stories for any politicians to advise us with the old admonition: “But In Europe, they….”

Obama thought that he would replicate the EU paradigm. He would bring in properly certified technocrats from academia or government like Chu, Geithner, Goolsbee, Holder, Orszag, Romer, and Summers to oversee massive new regulations and taxes that would dictate from on high how the ignorant masses must be protected from everything from cheap gas to old-style light bulbs. In less than three years, they all proved far more ignorant about what makes America work than the local car dealer, welder, or farmer. After Obama, Americans will not be fooled for a generation or so into thinking that a Harvard PhD or Berkeley professor “really” knows that borrowing is prosperity …

Had McCain been elected, or had Obama proved a canny Clinton triangulator, we would never have gotten out of the bipartisan rut of massive borrowing, growing government, higher taxes, and unionized public employee regulators. But with Obama as the great liberal deliverer and with the masses scared to death of Him, the next president will inherit an America in catharsis. The future is uncertain, but at least now, after our cauterizing, we have some sort of chance to return to the old principles that might save us.

The pride and the shame of the scientists 2

The letter of resignation from the American Physical Society by Ivar Giaever, which we posted two days ago, aroused quite a bit of controversy. So today we throw fuel on the flames by reproducing parts of another letter of resignation from that once august body. This one, by Professor of Physics Harold (“Hal”) Lewis, was sent in October 2010 to Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the APS. It can be found in full here, at Watts Up With That –  a website we recommend to all who are interested in climate change questions.

The importance of this letter is that it attacks not only the APS for betraying science, but also the proposition of man-made global warming itself, which the author calls a scam, and “the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist“.

Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood …

Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence … The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. …

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. …  I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:

1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate.

2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. …

3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act  … and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. …

5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members’ interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. …  There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. …   The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council. …

APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. …  I think it is the money …  There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. … Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.


Reference is made to this letter, and Giaever’s, in an article that appeared yesterday in PajamasMedia by a pseudonymous blogger. His purpose is to defend Rick Perry  from accusations that he is “anti-science”, because he said there is a “substantial number of scientists who have manipulated [global warming] data”, and that “weekly or daily” scientists are “coming forward and questioning AGW” – statements that are verifiably true.

The article proceeds:

As for that vaunted “consensus” of climate scientists that supposedly proves the truth of AGW, Giaever summed it up this way:

“Global warming has become a new religion. We frequently hear about the number of scientists who support it. But the number is not important: only whether they are correct is important.”

Our approval of Perry is strengthened by his statements on climate change. We object to his religious beliefs, but observe that for a religious man he is remarkably defensive of true science.

Perry also made a remark about global warming and Galileo that evoked similar ridicule from the press and the left side of the blogosphere. A particularly prominent example was the Atlantic’s James Fallows, who called Perry’s statement, made during the most recent Republican debate, “flat-out moronic.”

Here’s what Perry actually said:

“[T]he science is…not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at … jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just — is nonsense ….[J]ust because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell. … Find out what the science truly is before you start putting the American economy in jeopardy.”

Surely excellent advice.

We find what comes next – although somewhat off-topic – too interesting to omit:

Fallows further mocks Perry by comparing him to a person who says, “Hey, I’ll mention Galileo! Unfortunately in mentioning him, I’ll show that I don’t know the first thing about that case….” But although Fallows may think that he’s the one who really knows the first thing about Galileo, he may not know the second and the third thing — including what the Church’s main beef with Galileo was, and the position of Galileo’s scientific contemporaries on the subject of heliocentrism. The latter is especially important to Perry’s analogy, since he was talking about disagreements among scientists, both in Galileo’s time and now.

The Church had initially become upset with Galileo for two main reasons, neither of them the conventional “church vs. science” objection of legend. His first offense was committing theological overreach in their eyes when he stated that heliocentrism did not contradict the Bible because scripture should not be interpreted literally. The second was a kind of scientific hubris: Galileo’s assertion that heliocentrism had been proven (incontrovertibly, as it were) rather than being a tentative working theory. In addition, many of Galileo’s fellow scientists, although split on the matter, were more against Galileo than with him, just as Rick Perry said. The reason for their skepticism was not theology, it was that Galileo’s model was inconsistent with the best empirical observations of the time — although of course, in retrospect, his theory turned out to be correct.

The most important problem with Galileo’s heliocentric theory, and one that was widely recognized by his scientific contemporaries, was the lack of “observable parallax shifts in the stars’ positions as the earth moved in its orbit around the sun.” It was only much later that instruments were designed that were sensitive enough to detect the shifts. Therefore, Galileo lacked scientific evidence to prove his theory, and many leading astronomers of the day rejected it. The renowned Tycho Brahe was one of them; he had his own competing theory, which was a Geo-Heliocentric hybrid in which the sun revolved around the earth but the other planets revolved around the sun, a system that conformed better than Galileo’s with the lack of observed stellar parallax and which remained in scientific favor for a long time.

I have written that Galileo’s theory turned out to be correct, but that is actually an over-simplication. Galileo was indeed correct in stating that the planets revolve around the sun. But he also believed that the sun is the fixed and unmoving center of the universe, which we now know to be incorrect.

This error does not contradict the fact that Galileo was a scientific giant. But the story is a reminder that even the brilliant make mistakes, and that science does not advance by simple progression from ignorance to perfect knowledge, nor is it proven by consensus. It moves in fits and starts, sometimes with small wavering steps and meanderings, sometimes with great leaps. Sometimes it lingers for a while in blind alleyways. But it is always incomplete, and must continually be tested and questioned.

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