Friday, January 30, 2015

Murder, mystery, and Nazi spies

I’n not a fan of the true crime genre. All too much of it consists of cheap, exploitative stories written by unintelligent, poorly-educated hacks.

Every now and then a compelling story draws the attention of an enterprising reporter. The result is a book than surpasses its pedestrian competion.

Clint Richmond’s Fetch the Devil is just such a book.

In 1938, Hazel and Nancy Frome disappeared as they drove from El Paso to Dallas. Days later they were found murdered over a hundred southeast of El Paso. The wife and daughter of a prominent West Coast executive had been tortured for several days before they were killed and dumped in the desert. The investigation into the crime was the largest in Texas history. Yet, the crime was never solved despite the diligent efforts of talented investigators.

Richmond tells this story with verve while avoiding cheap sensationalism and pervy voyeurism. He also does a great job limning the historical settingAmerica a decade into the Great Depression, war clouds gathering in Europe, unrest in Mexico that threatens to spill across our southern border.

As is often the case with unsolved murders, the investigation was compromised by media-whoring and political jockeying by various police agencies.

Fetch the Devil ends with the author offering his hypothesis of who murdered the Frome’s and why. I found his ideas well supported by the facts and very convincing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Benghazi: Imagine a press corps that did its job

This piece by Sharyl Attkisson demonstrates that there are still important unanswered questions about the 2012 terrorist attack and the White House’s handling of it.

Unanswered Benghazi Questions: 8th in a Series
We do not know the answers to Attkisson’s questions. But we do know this much:

If there is no fire, the White House sure is wasting a lot of energy pumping out smoke screens.

If the WH has nothing to hide, they are not helping themselves by spreading so many lies.

The consequences for the republic are grave when the watchdog press sides with those in power.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The submarine cocktail: not a girly man drink

Edward Ellsberg:

Even so I had always come up after a dive numbed and stiff from the cold, requiring a powerful “submarine cocktail,” a pint of hot coffee and whisky, mixed half-and-half, to help thaw me out.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Two hundred years ago today

New Orleans

On this day in 1815, Andrew Jackson decisively defeated the British Army at New Orleans.

Robert Remini, in The Battle of New Orleans, wrote:

There was a time when the United States had heroes and reveled in them. There was a time when Andrew Jackson was one of those heroes, along with the men and women who stood with him at New Orleans and drove an invading British army back into the sea.

The victory was unexpected. The British had had the better of it in most of the land and sea battles and even burned Washington, DC. At New Orleans they had 8,000 regulars who were veterans of Wellington's army that had defeated the French in Spain. Jackson had only 4,000 troops most of whom were militiamen and recent volunteers.

Even more surprising was the lop-sided outcome. British losses were 291 dead, 1,262 wounded and 484 taken prisoner. The Americans lost only 55 KIA, 185 wounded and 93 missing.

We rarely commemorate the battle today, but for those who were alive in 1815 and for their children, it was a different story. Remini, again:

Americans in the first half of the nineteenth century did believe that January 8 would be remembered like July 4-- both dates representing the nation's first and second declaration of independence from Great Britain. Indeed some called the War of 1812 the Second War for Independence. Generally speaking, widespread observance of January 8 as a day of national celebration continued for the next fifty years.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sometimes it takes a mole to catch a mole

The Mysterious Cuban Spy at the Center of Obama’s Havana Rapprochement

Little is known about the Cuban who is now headed toward what will likely be a comfortable retirement in the United States. But what little U.S. officials disclosed on Wednesday make him one of the United States’ most important Cold War spies. “Information provided by this person was instrumental in the identification and disruption of several Cuban intelligence operatives in the United States and ultimately led to a series of successful federal espionage prosecutions,” Brian P. Hale, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a statement, a highly unusual acknowledgement of a U.S. intelligence asset’s contributions.

Among the Cuban spies he helped take down were Montes; the former Department of State official Walter Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn, and members of the so-called “Wasp Network,” which infiltrated the Cuban exile community. Taken together, Montes and Myers are probably the most damaging turncoats in the history of the U.S. intelligence community, rivaled only by Navy Warrant Officer John A. Walker, who compromised an immense portion of American encryption systems.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pearl Harbor and the path to war

Two interesting articles on the run-up to the Pacific War.

A Strategy has to be able to work to be masteful
The author has made an in-depth study of the Japanese plans and actual attack. He is less than enthralled with the "genius" of Commander Minoru Genda and Admiral Yammaoto.

Japan's Decision for War in 1941: Some Enduring Lessons

Still, it cannot be denied that, in threatening Japan's economic destruction (and consequent military impoverishment), the United States placed the Japanese in a position in which the only choices open to them were war or subservience. "Never inflict upon another major military power a policy which would cause you yourself to go to war unless you are fully prepared to engage that power militarily," cautions Roland Worth, Jr., in his No Choice But War: The United States Embargo against Japan and the Eruption of War in the Pacific. "And don't be surprised that if they do decide to retaliate, that they seek out a time and a place that inflicts maximum harm and humiliation upon your cause."
The key lesson for today is to recognize that a policy can be morally right but strategically obtuse.

The U.S. insistence, after Japanese forces moved into southern Indochina, that Japan evacuate China as well as Indochina, as a condition for the restoration of trade relations, thus made no sense as a means of dissuading the Japanese from moving south. On the contrary, the demand that Japan quit China killed any prospect of a negotiated alternative to Japan's conquest of Southeast Asia (e.g., restored trade in exchange for Japan's withdrawal from Indochina). In effect, the United States went to war over China rather than Southeast Asia -- a volte-face of enormous strategic consequence since it propelled the United States into a war with Japan over a remote country for which the United States had never been prepared to fight. The fate of China, even of Southeast Asia, did not engage core U.S. security interests, especially at a time when Europe's fate hung in the balance. A war with Japan was, of course, a war the United States was always going to win, but Japan was not the enemy the Roosevelt administration wanted to fight. The United States could have settled its accounts with Japan after Hitler's defeat had been assured. Was denying Japan an expanded empire in Southeast Asia more important, in 1941, than defeating Hitler?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Joe Biden: Senile or psychopath? One of a continuing series

Ayaan Hirsi Ali fights radical Islam's real war on women

In her speech to the dinner guests in Washington, Hirsi Ali recalled meeting Vice President Joe Biden. He informed her that “ISIS had nothing to do with Islam.” When she disagreed with him, Biden actually responded: “Let me tell you one or two things about Islam.
HT: Patterico

Funny how no one is upset about Biden manspaining to Hirsi Ali.


The MSM still hates Dick Cheney

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The New Republic meltdown without the piety

Zero piety.

Less than zero. Iconoclastic. Nasty.

A thing of beauty.

Standing Athwart The New Republic, Yelling ‘Stop’

So where does this leave us? If I have to pick sides between liberal policy journalists insisting they are immune to the reality of business economics and a Silicon Valley enfant terrible who tried to buy his hapless husband a Congressional seat, I’m afraid I’m left rooting for injuries.

Given that Hughes was fabulously gay in addition to fabulously wealthy, it seems he was concerned about his staff putting the hetero in heterodoxy. According to the Washington Post, Hughes “lashed out” after senior editor “Alec MacGillis had dared to propose writing a piece about Apple avoiding taxes just after Apple’s Tim Cook had come out of the closet.” Should gay politics trump progressive concerns about tax avoidance, or vice versa? I sure as hell can’t sort it out, and I’m certainly uninterested in a magazine that would have been consumed by such ridiculous debates.


Do magazines have DNA?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Why Eric Garner Died

Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
attributed to Einstein

The Right doesn't like to acknowledge that the power and authority of government can be a good thing, up to a point, in the hands of a genius. The Left doesn't like to acknowledge that geniuses are few and far between.
David Gelernter

Great deals

Highly recommended.

I'm enjoying both collections.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Why twitter?

The Message of the Medium Why the left loves Twitter

It is not the sequence of adoption, or as Gibson suggests the intellect of the users but rather the nature of the medium that makes Twitter so beloved of the left. You see to write a political blog post you generally have to take an idea and develop it in some detail. It wouldn’t be enough to simply report the news with your spin on it, as this is well covered by the traditional media organizations. And because these blogs are usually open to comments from readers you tend to find that huge leaps or flawed logic are challenged. Although high profile commentators have blogs, most bloggers tend to be hobbyists writing about what interests them.

Then along comes Twitter a running commentary on events as they happen, in 140 characters of fewer. Not enough of course to actually develop a point or idea, and because it’s fast moving little room to challenge fallacious ideas.
(HT: S. T. Karnick)

I blogged on this a while back:

Why do journalists love twitter and hate blogging?
Two additional points:

On Twitter, ideas succeed [not] on their merit but on their instant appeal.
So true. The Twitterverse is dominated by people who refuse to heed Mencken’s warning that “There is always an easy solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong.”

Maybe I should tweet Mecken’s quote as a warning three times a day.

Then this:

The message of this banal medium is ‘Don’t think, we’ve done that for you. Don’t analyze as that’s all been done. Like Retweet. And show the world that you’re trendy and with it.” A message made by and for the left.
From Robert Conquest’s Reflections on a Ravaged Century:

The Australian poet James McAuley wrote penetratingly of the pro-Communist phenomenon: 'During the thirties and forties Australian intellectual life became subjected to an alarming extent to the magnetic field of Communism. All sorts of people who would regard themselves as being non-Communist, and even opposed to Communism, in practice were dominated by the themes and modes of discussion proposed by the Communists, danced to the Communist tune, and had serious emotional resistances to being identified with any position or institution which was denounced by the Communists as "reactionary".' He adds that 'one reason for all this was that schools of thought genuinely independent of and opposed to Communist suggestion were in this country not well organized and publicly present. They lacked prestige, that magical aura which captures the minds of the young in advance of argument and establishes compelling fashions'
Stephen Koch on Stalinist propaganda in the Thirties:

Munzenberg wanted to instill the feeling, like a truth of nature, that seriously to criticize or challenge Soviet policy was the unfailing mark of a bad, bigoted, and probably stupid person, while support was equally infallible proof of a forward-looking mind committed to all that was best for humanity and marked by an uplifting refinement of sensibility.
+++++++ Munzenberg provided two generations of people on the left with what we might call the forum of righteousness. More than any other person of his era, he developed what may well be the leading moral illusion of the twentieth century: the notion that in the modern age the principal arena of the moral life, the true realm of good and evil, is politics. He was the unseen organizer of that variety of politics, indispensable to the adversary culture, which we might call Righteousness Politics. 'Innocents Clubs': The very phrase suggests how the political issues Munzenberg manipulated came for many to serve as a substitute for religious belief. He offered everyone, anyone, a role in the search for justice in our century. By defining guilt, he offered his followers innocence, and they seized upon it by the millions.

Radical chic in its dotage

How we live now: The rule of the inept experts