Archive for the 'Religion' Category

Once upon a time, there was a correlation

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

The early days of CAGW must have seemed magical. After all, there really was a correlation of CO2 increases on the one hand, and some modest temperature increases on the other. It’s not surprising that some would see correlation as causation, and it certainly didn’t hurt that there was a pot of gold at the end of that road. Moreover, causation fits in nicely with the West’s current need for self-flagellation as payment for the sin of prosperity. All well and good.

So it must have been panic and madness inducing when some of the data stopped fitting that which had been ordained from on high. Our favorite episode of the madness is when the Medieval Warm Period suddenly vanished, in order to make current results all the more dramatic. Freud had a nice phrase for it. Anyway, we’re on our way to Asia today, where India and China may say a little political blah-blah, but don’t participate in the West’s idiotic madness. We’ll take a look at Steyn’s new book on the flight and report back.

Contrasting views of the value of life

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

A:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace from day to day
to the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death.
Out, out brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
and then is heard no more.
It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing.

B:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us: that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Two amazing writers, yes? BTW, where did we last see signifying nothing? Oh yeah.

Good morning people, it’s a new dawn

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Kissinger, Shultz:

For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability…Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today…the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon

Georgetown professor Kroenig:

From the beginning of the atomic era, American scientists understood that these sensitive nuclear technologies could be used to make fuel for nuclear energy or for nuclear weapons, and the United States immediately began working to close off this pathway to the bomb. The McMahon Act of 1946 made it illegal for the United States to share nuclear technologies with any country. Even countries like Britain and Canada that had helped America invent the bomb during the Manhattan Project were cut off. Later, under President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program, the United States loosened restrictions on nuclear cooperation somewhat, but it always drew a bright line at uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing because the risk of proliferation was simply too great…we gave up the game. Iran out-negotiated us. We abandoned a clear international standard we had established in order to meet Iran halfway in its unreasonable demands. What we have to show for it is not a historic deal, but the death of a 70-year-old bipartisan pillar of American foreign policy.

The title is from Woodstock.

There will be growth in the spring

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

NYT:

I think that it’s important to recognize that Iran is a complicated country — just like we’re a complicated country

More wisdom here. Help!

The shocking power of the narrative

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

We confess to being blindsided by the raw power of MSM narratives, despite having observed them rather closely for years. We expected their power to diminish, and instead the opposite has happened. The young don’t know anything, and between the media and the academy, they believe everything from the silly (CAGW) to the deeply pernicious. This Iran farce is something else again: it is at least 3 standard deviations from reality and yet the true believers still believe. We’ve never seen anything like it in our lives. (Sometimes the deviations from reality are funny, but not with Iran.) Still, there are cracks in the façade — witness Chuck Schumer coming over to the Dark Side. Strange world indeed.

2 Voices

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Thomas Sowell, who was born in 1930, and hence knows some things:

Clearing the way for Iran to get nuclear bombs may — probably will — be the most catastrophic decision in human history.

So there’s The Voice of Doom, and then again there’s The Voice. It’s a heckuva voice, and it’s almost like that well-rehearsed speech was sincere and everything. (How long ago was it written?)

Bonus unfun: just how bad a deal? This bad.

Les hommes sérieux

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Foreign Policy:

A central concern is “breakout time” (the minimum time needed to make weapons-grade uranium). According to current reports, a deal would ensure Iranian breakout time would be moved back to one year. French negotiators want to ensure that Iran’s agreed upon breakout time will last the entire duration of the deal — and after. They also want a deal that lasts as long as possible. “Ten years is short when you talk about nuclear issues,” one diplomat said.“Ten years is short when you talk about nuclear issues,” one diplomat said.

Another diplomat summed it up: “We spent more than 10 years talking, slowly setting an architecture of sanctions, of pressure, defining principles of negotiations. Once we dismantle this, it won’t come back up. So we better get the best possible deal.”

French diplomats insist a political agreement, if reached by March 31, will only be a first step. Tough negotiations will continue. Bruno Tertrais, an expert in nuclear issues who is influential in the French diplomatic community, even suggested recently a series of temporary deals could be a better alternative to a bad definitive deal.

None of this goes against longstanding French policy, though. France has consistently been the toughest member of the European Union when it comes to Iran, going back to the administration of President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007. Paris has consistently advocated for firmer sanctions and E.U. sanctions, beyond the scope of United Nations resolutions. In 2012, France was notably responsible for convincing Europeans to ban the import on oil products, despite the objections of many countries.

Nuclear deterrence has been central to France’s foreign policy ever since Charles de Gaulle’s presidency, a pillar that has been largely bipartisan. And just as nuclear doctrine has stayed remarkably stable through the years, so have the officials in charge of conducting French nuclear strategy and proliferation policy, regardless of who is in the Élysée.

In fact, some of the most preeminent positions in the French diplomatic and defense establishments are occupied by career civil servants trained as nuclear strategists who have worked on Iran for over a decade. This close-knit group of diplomats includes, among others, Araud, as well as Jacques Audibert, Hollande’s diplomatic advisor, who both previously served as France’s chief nuclear negotiator with Iran.

These diplomats generally share the conviction Tehran’s enrichment program is aimed at obtaining a nuclear weapon and that a bad deal that allows the Iranians to keep enriching uranium at dangerous levels will lead to a disastrous game of regional proliferation. Araud, Audibert, and their colleagues know the situation well: They have been engaged in 12 years of talks on these issues and at this point they feel they have little reason to trust the Iranians, or believe regional arrangements with Iran would decrease its desire to acquire nuclear capabilities. But policymakers in Paris might not trust the Americans much, either — and not just when it comes to the nuclear negotiations. French officials no longer hide their dismay at many of Washington’s policies in the Middle East.

Good piece, but they forgot the Chirac Doctrine.

Microaggressions in a macro world

Friday, March 27th, 2015

To the pathetic millennials and those who cheer them on, if you ever think about microaggressions, you’re the problem. You have no sense of humor. You might qualify as a future college professor, however, which shows how low we’ve fallen.

All this while WWIII is beginning.

IAEA report

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Excepted from a WaPo story:

Iran isn’t providing needed access or information, nuclear watchdog says…Yukiya Amano, director general of the IAEA, said in an interview that Iran has replied to just one of a dozen queries about “possible military dimensions” of past nuclear activities. Amano said that Iran has provided only “very limited” information about two other issues, while the rest have not been addressed at all.

Amano said that the six global powers negotiating with Iran should insist that the country implement the additional protocol that would allow IAEA inspectors to go anywhere at any time to examine sites suspected of harboring secret nuclear weapons development. That additional protocol, Amano said, will be “very much needed. It will give us more powerful tools to look at activities not declared to us.” Iran signed the protocol in December 2003 and initially implemented it, Amano said, but the country ended its compliance in 2006.

Amano said that near the top of his list of unanswered questions about possible military dimensions of Iranian nuclear activities was the Parchin military complex. He said that the IAEA has information that Iran conducted experiments in a high-explosive chamber there…the agency said in its report that it “is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Even the UN is tougher than the US. What times we live in! Eli Lake has an interesting report too.

Everything new is old again

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Totten:

the Houthis have virtually no chance of ruling the entire country. Their “territory,” so to speak, is restricted to the northwestern region surrounding the capital. Previous governments had a rough go of it too. South Yemen was a communist state—the so-called People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen—until the Soviet Union finally ruptured, and four years after unification with North Yemen, the armed forces of each former half declared war on each other.

Far more likely than a comprehensive Houthi takeover is a new and more dangerous phase of Yemen’s endless self-cannibalization—more dangerous because this otherwise parochial and irrelevant conflict has been internationalized, with ISIS, the Saudis, and Iran squaring off against each other in yet another regional proxy war.

The Houthi movement is named after Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, an insurrection leader killed by the former government in 2004. They are Shias, but unlike the “Twelver” Shia Muslims of Iran—who revere eleven imams and await the birth of the occluded twelfth—most of Yemen’s Shias are “Fivers.” Iran doesn’t mind. From its point of view, better the odd “Fiver” Shias than Sunnis, but all that really matters is that the Houthis are willing to say yes to Tehran, its weapon shipments, and its top-notch military advisors and trainers.

The next-door Saudis, of course, are backing what’s left of Hadi’s former government down in Aden. They’ve been Yemen’s primary patron since the 1930s and won’t sit back and idly watch as Iran’s Islamic Revolution is exported to their back yard any more than the United States would have allowed the Moscow to conquer Canada during the Cold War.

Yemen’s conflict is tribal, sectarian, and political at the same time, and it’s becoming increasingly internationalized even as the US is leaving. It’s also a little bizarre. Last month, President Hadi declared Aden the new capital, though no one in the world, not even his allies, recognize it as such. A few days ago a Houthi-commanded military jet flew over the city from Sanaa and fired missiles at his residence…

Osama bin Laden’s family is of Yemeni origin, as was Anwar Al-Awlaki, one of Al Qaeda’s chief propagandists before the Pentagon vaporized him with a Hellfire missile in 2011. The deadliest bomb-maker in the world plies his trade with Yemen’s branch of Al Qaeda and has planned at least three attacks against commercial airliners. And now that Iran is involved in the Saudi family’s sphere of influence and the Sunni majority is backsliding, ISIS and Al Qaeda are gaining even more traction.

Talk about the need for a two state solution. The factions above have been going at it since a little after 632. No end in sight however.

Some French policies, now and then

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Now, via WSJ:

“Making the end of March an absolute deadline is counterproductive and dangerous,” France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud, said via Twitter after the latest round of negotiations in Switzerland concluded Friday. “No agreement without concrete decisions on issues beyond the enrichment capability question,” he said a day earlier, specifically mentioning the need for extensive monitoring and clarity on Iran’s past research work. Western officials believe they included the pursuit of nuclear-weapon capabilities. In a sign of France’s determination, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called his negotiating team in Lausanne on Thursday to insist no deal could be forged that allowed for the rapid easing of U.N. Security Council measures, according to European officials. France worries the quick repeal of the U.N. penalties could lead to a broader collapse of the West’s financial leverage over Tehran

Sounds like they’re hanging tough, but that’s nothing compared to their policy a decade ago.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin…

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

But not necessarily of little minds. A dangerous consistency is perhaps the hobgoblin of certain ideologues. Cases in point: (a) Paul Mirengoff discusses this fellow Malley; and (b) what’s going on in Egypt. Never in recent memory has the world been so inverted, when common sense is denounced as extremism, and a certain kind of extremism has become conventional wisdom among the chattering classes. Help!

Bonus fun if you can find it: Tim Blair goes all un-PC.

15 years that went by pretty fast

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

NYT:

entire industries have emerged and seized the dominant positions in the Nasdaq index even as their predecessors faltered. Apple, now the world’s largest company by market capitalization, barely registered in 2000, and the first iPhone was not announced until 2007. Over a billion smartphones were shipped in 2014.

Google, which now ranks third and dominates the market for Internet search advertising, went public in 2004 at $85 a share, giving the company a market value then of $23 billion. Today, its market capitalization is over $360 billion, and its shares were trading this week above $570.

Facebook, now No. 5 in Nasdaq’s ranking, dominates social networking, another industry that did not exist in 2000. It went public less than three years ago, and is already valued at over $180 billion.

Had the Nasdaq index itself not been transformed by innovation and competition, it would be nowhere near its previous peak. The stocks of many of the surviving companies, like Microsoft and Intel, have not come close to the levels they reached before 2000. That means investors who bought and held the stocks of individual companies in 2000, as opposed to broad mutual funds tied to the Nasdaq or index funds like the QQQs, are still underwater

Some things are going really well and some are going really badly. Hard to know where we’ll be in another 15 years.

They sow not, neither do they reap

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Wretchard: “It’s almost as if there were two parallel universes. The real one in which the rest of the world lives and the fantasy land bounded by the Beltway and the media capitals.” Don’t forget the universities too. The closer you get to these tenured or semi-tenured worlds the further from reality you get. After all, you’re living off the productivity of others, in a world where income and performance often bear no relation to each other. WRM: the government needs “to make foreign policy for the country they’ve got, rather than making foreign policy for a hypothetical country that exists only in their hopes.” They sow not, neither do they reap; but ah, how they dream.

Quote of the day

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

A smart fellow who knows a little history: “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.” Gosh, that fellow is so smart we were shocked to learn that he hadn’t published his first autobiography by the age of 35.

Sigh

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

RIP, again and again and again and all the same story.

They blinded him with science

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Pielke:

Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr., at CU’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on climate change and its economic impacts. His 2013 Senate testimony featured the claim, often repeated, that it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Powerline has more on this increasingly strange group of witch hunters. Ban argon!!

Idiocy of the day

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Way beyond parody at this point.

Compare and contrast

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

This and This. Ha.

It’s getting hard to overstate just how weird things have gotten. Weird. A parallel universe where 98% of bad things are either secular or the fault of some guy Kony. Of course the most interesting thing is that the crazy narrative of the administration carries no weight with most Americans, including for the first time the MSM, who now put serious people like Graeme Wood on the air.

Did we say weird? How about not backing Egypt’s play against ISIS? How about guys like Rudy Giuliani now saying openly and in public what a lot of people only thought or whispered a couple of years ago? (Final bonus fun from AT.) Weird.

More progress

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Graeme Wood, who teaches at Yale and speaks Arabic, in The Atlantic:

the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam. Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail…

ISIS follows a distinctive variety of Islam…The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not — cannot — waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam…

Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries such as France and Canada to find an infidel and “smash his head with a rock,” poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops.” To Western ears, the biblical-sounding punishments — the stoning and crop destruction — juxtaposed strangely with his more modern-sounding call to vehicular homicide…But Adnani was not merely talking trash. His speech was laced with theological and legal discussion, and his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone — unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar, or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away.

Progress at the WaPo was a tentative thing, but this is really straight talk in an establishment publication.