Category Archives: History

Don’t Go To Mars

David Attenborough takes a novel and courageous stand. Let’s “sort out life on earth, first.” [Paywall]

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone make that argument before, except a lot of people, for decades.

“America? Let’s sort out life in Europe first.”

“Europe and Asia? Let’s sort out life in Africa, first.”

It’s obviously a mindless prescription for never settling new territory.

The American Dunkirk

Remembering the Manhattan boat lift.

I should note, though, that it’s not really fair to compare the time taken for the two events. You can make a lot more trips across the Hudson in a given time than across the Channel.

[Afternoon update]

As Paul notes in comments, it’s also a lot easier to evacuate when you don’t have the Luftwaffe attacking you.

The Democrats In 2016

History is not on their side:

…any intelligent discussion of 2016 must begin with the fact that history is very strongly against the Democrats in 2016. In the modern two-party era (beginning with the first Republican Party presidential campaign in 1856), there have been 16 elections following the re-election of an incumbent president; in 11 of those races, there was no incumbent on the ballot. An analysis of those elections shows a startlingly uniform pattern over time: the incumbent party (i.e., the party that won the last election) consistently lost ground relative to the challenger party (the party out of power), especially when running without an incumbent on the ballot. And in nearly every such election, that loss of popular support was evident in closely-divided battleground states, rather than confined to uncompetitive states. The trend has persisted in winning and losing elections, in elections with and without third-party challengers, in times of war and peace, booms and depressions. It has become more, rather than less, pronounced in the years since World War II, and at all times has been more pronounced when the incumbent party is the Democrats.

Given the narrow margin for error enjoyed by President Obama in 2012, a swing of a little less than 3 points in the two-party vote would hand the White House to the Republicans—and swings of that size are far more the rule than the exception. In fact, looking at the two-party vote, no non-incumbent since Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 has lost less than 3 points off the prior re-elected incumbent’s showing. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in 2016, it will be a historically unprecedented event in more ways than just her gender.

Let’s hope.

The Reformation Of Manners

Some thoughts from Mark Steyn on the Rotherham capitulation:

Now, in the new multiculti Britain, the child sex trade is back, as part of the rich, vibrant tapestry of diversity – along with Jew-hate, and honor killings, and decapitation porn.

…Old-school thugs – Mubarak and even Saddam – felt obliged to lie to the world: no, no torture going on here; we’re civilized men, just like you. But, as in Rotherham, the ISIS lads are “brazen” about it – they’re in your face about offing your head. And it’s worked for them: The more they post decapitated victims on Twitter and Facebook, the more followers they get in the “civilized” world. In an ill advised choice of words, the Prime Minister David Cameron said, “We need to tackle the ideology of Islamist extremism head on” – because trying to do it with your head off doesn’t seem to be working out for those poor fellows in Mosul.

But what does “head on” mean? I was listening to Congressman Peter King on the radio the other day discuss the issue of American and other western Muslims sallying forth to fight for ISIS, and his warnings about jihadists with western passports being able to move freely within Europe and North America made a lot of sense. But I had the uneasy feeling, as with Cameron, that the upshot would be a world in which, in five or ten years’ time, it will be more difficult and burdensome for law-abiding persons to fly from London to New York a two-day business meeting or from Toronto to Athens for a week in the Greek islands. In other words, the political leadership of the western world will attempt to micro-manage the problem through the panopticon security state.

Underneath the watchful eyes of the digital panopticon, however, the Islamization of the west will continue. Not every Muslim wants to chop your head off. Not every Muslim wants to “groom” your 11-year-old daughter. But these pathologies nest within Islam, and thrive at the intersection of Islam and the west. As long as Islam is your biggest source of population growth – to the point where Mohammed is now the most popular boy’s name in Oslo – you’re not “tackling” the issue, and certainly not “head on”.

In a bizarre column even for the post-Conrad National Post, Afsun Qureshi suggests the best thing you could do to lessen the likelihood of being set upon by Muslims is to learn to recite the shahadah, “a testimony to the identity of Allah as the one true God, and Muhammad as his prophet”. She might be right. Wearing a burqa might help, too. Or the shalwar kameez. On the other hand, most of those Syrian men paraded through the desert in their BVDs to their rendezvous with death knew the shahadah, and a fat lot of good it did.

To recite the shahadah when you’re accosted on the streets is to accept the basic premise of your attackers – that Islam now has universal jurisdiction. There’s way too much of that already. In essence, the entire establishment of a South Yorkshire town accepted that the cultural mores of Islam superseded whatever squeamishness they might otherwise have about child rape.

This will not end well.

Plus, “we have to face the truth to deal with the Rotherham hell“>

Facing the truth is something that the multi-culti Leftist, “reality-based” community studiously avoids.

The Victims Of Communism

Commemorating, though not celebrating, the 75th anniversary of the Molotov/Ribbentrop Pact:

On this 75th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, we recognize the morally reprehensible nature of the totalitarian ideas of Nazism and Stalinism, of fascism and communism. We also recall the historical fact that regimes dedicated to these deadly ideologies worked together to start World War II, and aided each other in murdering millions of innocent men, women, and children. We remember those victims on this Black Ribbon Day.

A few years back, the Left squealed like stuck pigs when Jonah reminded them that the Nazis were of them, not of “the Right.” They desperately grasped at thin straws to point out the niggling differences between the Nazis and the Stalinists. But the point was, and remains, that the similarities were much greater than the differences. Both are totalitarian, collectivist, anti-individualist ideologies, and the distinction was pretty much transparent to the unwilling user.

[Afternoon update]


More thoughts
from Ilya Somin.

[Late evening update]

This isn’t exactly the same thing, but it is related. The American historians who are new friends of Hamas:

The demands they make upon Israel, Herf argues, without corresponding demands made on Hamas, is in essence repeating Hamas’ demands as their own. The petition writers do not even mention that the fighting in Gaza began with Hamas’ aggression. This is, Herf continues, a major change in the Left’s position taken over many years. Once a movement that always claimed to be “anti-fascist” above all, it is now supporting and praising the equivalent of the Islamic fascists.

Herf makes a sound analogy between their position and that taken by the old Communists in the years of the Nazi-Soviet Pact from Aug. 1939 to June 1941. Just as the Communists ignored fascism — the Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov famously said that “fascism is a matter of taste,” the historians now justify many of the Islamists’ actions as a cultural difference that Westerners should respect. Recall that historian Joan Scott of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton a few years ago refused to condemn Tariq Ramadan’s failure to oppose the stoning of women to death in Muslim nations. Stoning, she said at a forum, was an aspect of their culture that we had to understand.

What explains these historians’ actions? Do they really want to be known as supporters of Hamas? Have they bothered to read the Hamas Charter? If not, how can they purport to be scholars and historians? Either they have read it and ignore it; or are so negligent as to not have bothered to learn what Hamas’s beliefs and aims are. It is especially shameful that these senior scholars, many of whom are historians of Germany no less and are proud of their anti-fascism, totally ignore the nature of Israel’s enemy.

There is an answer to why these historians are all anti-Israel, and it is the same answer I gave in my column last week at PJ Media. The American Left, following the long standing stance of its British comrades, favors an alliance with the West’s greatest enemies.

Again, the similarities (opposed to liberty and individualism) are much more important than the (literally, in this case) academic differences.

And then there’s this:

Shame on these supposed intellectuals, historians all, who have abandoned the most basic tenants of the historical method to propagandize for the Islamists, whom the late Christopher Hitchens aptly referred to as “Islamofascists.”

That’s a much better word than “Nazis,” which O’Reilly foolishly proposed as an improvement on “terrorists.”

Emphasis mine.

The Real Villain Of Ferguson

It’s LBJ’s (not so) Great Society.

Yes. It’s been a half-century of social disaster for blacks.

[Wednesday-morning update]

Jason Riley tells some hard truths:

Once upon a time, Eric Holder called for us to engage in a conversation about race. If that conversation were to be frank, it would have to start with the brute and ugly fact pointed out by Jason Riley. I do not doubt that racial prejudice still exists, but it does not constitute a serious obstacle to African-American advancement. The most grievous problems that African-Americans face today have little or nothing to do with the conduct of ordinary white people. Of course, they may well have something to do with white conduct in the past, which has a lingering effect. But nothing can be done about that. Long before they encountered George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were on the downward path. Given their taste for dope, their instinct for defiance, and their predilection for violence, they were both likely to end up as killers or as killed.

If Barack Obama and Eric Holder were actually interested in the welfare of the likes of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, they would level with their fellow African-Americans. They would initiate a genuinely frank conversation about race aimed at altering African-American conduct. As things stand, they are only interested in manipulating African-American fear and anger for short-term political gain — and the same can be said for the scoundrels (largely white) who manage CNN, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Pravda-on-the-Hudson, and Pravda-on-the-Potomac and who treat the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown as national news.

Yup. When it comes to discussing race, it’s not we who are the cowards. It’s the race hustlers like Al Sharpton. And Eric Holder.

[Bumped]

Those Evil Jews

Lileks has a modest proposal:

The people who want the grocery store to stop stocking Israeli products should sign waivers indicating that they do not wish to be treated with any medicine or device or course of treatment that is the result of Israeli research. This could be entered into their National Health Service database, along the lines of a “Do not Resuscitate” order, and possibly having the same effect.

Then everyone’s happy. But it’s only a start. I think there enough Israeli telecommunications patents to make the protestors think twice about using their mobiles, and it is time for the serious-minded in their midst to foreswear these tainted technologies. Going Jew-free isn’t as easy as it might look, but c’mon, you can still keep in touch. There’s always the mail. It’s not like every stamp has Disraeli on it.

In many ways, I feel like we’re reliving the thirties.

Gridlock In Washington

…means that the government is working exactly the way the Founders intended.

And it doesn’t mean that it excuses dictatorship via executive order. If the president was a real “constitutional scholar,” he’d know that. But there are a lot of things with this president on which he was vastly oversold.

I’d note, by the way, that Posner’s argument is idiotic. Congress has the power to pass legislation. It has no constitutional responsibility to do so, and its failure to do so does not in any way empower the president. The idea was that no law was better than bad law. As ObamaCare proves.

Reagan Versus Obama

Comparing the economic legacies.

It’s not really fair, though. One president knew how to allow the economy to create wealth. The other only knows about, and cares about, redistributing it.

[Friday-morning update]

Post recession, one third of Americans think they’re worse off.

Pretty sure the polling wouldn’t have indicated that in 1986. Of course, the Obama defenders will say that those deluded people have false consciousness.

[Bumped]

Genocide In Iraq

As I’ve often noted, the word “genocide” is overused, but as Neoneocon notes, ISIS (and followers of the true faith) really are genocidal.

As I noted on Twitter,

And speaking of genocide, Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson continue to be Hamas’s useful idiots. They aren’t of much use to anyone else.

The Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Some reflections from Bill Whittle.

[Monday-morning update]

It’s long past time to rethink NASA:

Unrealistically, the NRC committee recommends a 5 percent annual increase in NASA’s budget to carry out its recommendations, which are to spend billions for many decades with the eventual result of putting a few civil servants on Mars. My assessment, as a space enthusiast and a taxpayer? As Senator William Proxmire once famously quipped, on the topic of funding for space colonies: “I say not a penny for this nutty fantasy.” I don’t know what the future of human spaceflight is, but I do know that the NRC’s recommendations are not it.

Read the whole thing. It was written by someone who knows what he’s talking about, one of the great minds of our age.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Some of the comments over there are amusing, albeit predictable.

[Update a few minutes later]

Should we go back to the moon? I participate in a debate on the topic, over at US News. I have to say that Etzioni’s remarks are certainly ignorant. And you’ll be shocked to discover that Bob Zubrin wants to go to Mars.

[Update mid morning]

I have a roundup of my and others’ apollo anniversary pieces over at Ricochet. Plus, hey moon! We’re coming back soon.

[Late-afternoon update]

I’m tied with Peter over there for thumbs up, if you want to go vote. Also, Bob is getting lots of negative ratings, but nothing like Etzioni.

[Bumped]

[Late evening update]

I assume that, thanks to my readers, I’m Number One!

Santorini

Lileks takes a vacation in Greece:

A few switchbacks up we found a nice niche that would have been an excellent spot for a small bar; seems it had served that function once, as it had benches and something like a table. We chatted with some Brits who were also dying but cheerful about it. They’d met some donkeys coming down, and the lass astride one of them leaned over and said “Worst Day of my Life.”

We continued on, up the shite-strewn path. By “567 steps” they mean a step, then a yard of irregular, ankle-snapping stone, followed by another step, followed by a yard of irregular, ankle-snapping stone smeared with ordure, and so on. Another herd of donkeys, this one thicker than the last, and not particularly concerned with our presence. Suddenly you realized you had two options: you would be crushed against the wall by donkeys, or pushed over the side by donkeys. Neither seemed appealing, just like the growing belief you would either suffer failure of the heart or the kidneys.

With pictures and video, of course.

The Apollo Cargo Cult

Over at USA Today, I say that after four lost decades, it’s time to end it:

After over four decades, it is time to stop awaiting a repeat of a glorious but limited and improbable past. We must, finally, return to and embrace the true future, in which the solar system and ultimately the universe is opened up to all, with affordable, competing commercial transportation systems, in the way that only Americans can do it.

I’ll have some other stuff up later, in other venues.