Day By Day

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Last Nail In the Coffin of Global Warming?

Don't bet on it, too many powerful people have too much invested in global warming to give it up.

The Mail reports:

The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.

The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.
Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.

Meanwhile, leading climate scientists yesterday told The Mail on Sunday that, after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food.
Read the whole thing here

Oh yeah! Those lads at East Anglia [the ones who forged the "scientific consensus" on global warming] now have another crisis to sell you -- a second "little ice age". And of course NASA and various American universities are chiming in. After all, there's all that grant money to be had for future research into the phenomenon.

As I have argued time and again, constructing public policy on the recommendations of scientific authority is to build on shifting sand. Another strong reason for rejecting the technocratic model.

Hat tip to the Military Dad.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Fascist Tendency in Obama's Progressivism

Scholars have long recognized that American progressivism has been profoundly anti-democratic. A few years ago Jonah Goldberg expanded this insight to note the uncanny similarities between American progressivism and Italian fascism in his influential popular tome Liberal Fascism. Responding to President Obama's State of the Union speech this week he noted its progressive/fascistic tone.

He [Obama] said of the military: “At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach.”

That is disgusting.

What Obama is saying, quite plainly, is that America would be better off if it wasn’t America any longer. He’s making the case not for American exceptionalism, but for Spartan exceptionalism.
It’s far worse than anything George W. Bush, the supposed warmonger, ever said. Bush, the alleged fascist, didn’t want to militarize our free country; he tried to use our military to make militarized countries free.
Indeed, Obama is upending the very point of a military in a free society. We have a military to keep our society free. We do not have a military to teach us the best way to give up our freedom. Our warriors surrender their liberties and risk their lives to protect ours. The promise of American life for Obama is that if we all try our best and work our hardest, we can be like a military unit striving for a single goal. I’ve seen pictures of that from North Korea. No thank you, Mr. President.

Of course, Obama’s militaristic fantasizing isn’t new. Ever since William James coined the phrase “the moral equivalent of war,” liberalism has been obsessed with finding ways to mobilize civilian life with the efficiency and conformity of military life. 
Read the whole thing here.

Today George Will, writing in the Washington Post, sounded the same theme:
Obama, an unfettered executive wielding a swollen state, began and ended his address by celebrating the armed forces. They are not “consumed with personal ambition,” they “work together” and “focus on the mission at hand” and do not “obsess over their differences.” Americans should emulate troops “marching into battle,” who “rise or fall as one unit.” 

Well. The armed services’ ethos, although noble, is not a template for civilian society, unless the aspiration is to extinguish politics. People marching in serried ranks, fused into a solid mass by the heat of martial ardor, proceeding in lock step, shoulder to shoulder, obedient to orders from a commanding officer — this is a recurring dream of progressives eager to dispense with tiresome persuasion and untidy dissension in a free, tumultuous society. 
Read the whole thing here.

When Goldberg's Liberal Fascism was first published it was controversial. Today the common elements of fascism and progressivism are widely recognized [although many on the Left try to deny them] and are unremarkable enough to appear on the pages of the establishment press.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reassessing the Dark Ages

In the latest edition of the New English Review Emmet Scott summarizes the argument put forth in his new book, Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited. In it he surveys centuries of scholarship on the subject of the collapse of Classical civilization and the beginnings of Europe's "Dark Ages". He notes that the barbarian kingdoms that precipitated the fall of Rome adopted and spread, rather than destroying classical culture. He also notes that archaeology has shown that the collapse of that culture, taking place in the seventh rather than the fifth century, was not unique. A similar contemporaneous pattern of disruption can be seen in the great Christian centers of Anatolia, the Levant, and North Africa. He concludes that it was the expansion of Islam, rather than the barbarian invasions that signaled the death knell of classical civilization. Moreover, far from being a beacon of enlightenment in dark age Europe, Islam bequeathed to it the far more destructive concepts of holy war and absolute spiritual authority. This is a remarkable interpretation that stands in contrast to the Islamophilia and self-loathing that has characterized Western scholarship on the subject in recent years.

Read Scott's article here.

Buy the book here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adventures in India, Part 15 -- Exploring Jaipur

After leaving the fort we traveled back down to the city.


Our first stop was at the famous Jal Mahal, the "floating palace". It's not really floating. During drought periods the lower levels are visible, but during normal times only the top floor is above water. The original structure stood on the edge of a natural lake, but about four centuries ago, in response to a drought emergency, a dam was constructed and much of the structure was submerged. Then in the eighteenth century Maharaja Jai Singh had it rebuilt as a stone structure. There have since been many periods of renovation and neglect, the most recent was a massive reconstruction of the palace, the dam, the lake bottom and the surrounding countryside that produced the structure as we see it now. Like most Raja palaces in India it today is a hotel.


Across the street from where I photographed the Jal Mahal camels sat waiting.


Then it was off for another "shopping opportunity" to a gem and ceramics emporium.


A statue of Lord Ganesh, the god of good fortune.


Nothing special, just an interesting door.


Then through the busy streets of Jaipur...


To a local restaurant for lunch where we were serenaded by this family. He played, she sang, and the kid danced and begged.


We had the afternoon off and hung out around our hotel, but then in the evening several of us headed out into the city again and went to a local club.


There we had a delicious dinner and were entertained by a small group of local musicians and dancers.


Then back to the hotel and to sleep.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Trashing of History

KC Johnson laments that little useful [in a policy sense] history has been produced since the 1970's. He notes:
The study of U.S. history has transformed in the last two generations, with emphasis on staffing positions in race, class, or gender leading to dramatic declines in fields viewed as more "traditional," such as U.S. political, constitutional, diplomatic, and military history. And even those latter areas have been "re-visioned," in the word coined by an advocate of the transformation, Illinois history professor Mark Leff, to make their approach more accommodating to the dominant race/class/gender paradigm.
 In other words, feminists, gay activists, race hustlers, and the like have taken to the study of themselves and their entry into the profession has crowded out more general [and for that reason more useful] areas of research and writing. I was witness to this during my academic career and, if anything, Johnson seriously understates the baneful influence of these navel gazing studies.

Read Johnson's piece here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

War Drums....

The ongoing game of "chicken" being played between Western powers and Iran accelerated over the weekend. Consider these headlines from Drudge today:

EU to slap oil embargo on Iran...
Iran 'definitely' closing Strait of Hormuz...
Tensions rise, 'unpredictable' phase...
UK, US, France send warships through Strait...


And this is taking place in an election year where the American president is torn by conflicting pressures -- to solidify his foreign policy and national defense credentials, and to placate the non-interventionist base of his party. It is going to be interesting.... 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fighters

Byron York explains what is happening in the Republican primaries -- something that most commentators have been unable or unwilling to recognize. Conservatives and others are fighting back against the liberal cultural hegemony. He writes:

[W]hat the voters are craving in the debates and on the stump is someone who can look liberals squarely in the eye and tell them why we are right and they are wrong.  The American conservative base has had to put up with being called stupid, racist, greedy and unfair for decades by not only the Democrats but the vast majority of the media.  The pent up frustration of these decades is magnified by the fact that George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush and John McCain would not or perhaps could not confront this. 

In fact, rare is the Republican candidate at any level who refuses to put up with this and fights back.  When they do, they become sensations.  Even Chris Christie and Donald Trump -- neither one a real conservative -- earned the love of the Republican base by simply deigning to fight back.  Marco Rubio and Allen West are far more popular and well known than they have any right to be simply because they refuse to accept the argument on liberals' terms.  They fight.  They elicit the roar.
....
The roar is passion.  The roar is intensity.  The roar is pent up frustration.  The roar, put another way, is the national mood of conservatives.  It is a roar that will demand a fighter.  It will demand that those who want our votes must not cower in the face of the liberal template.  If fact, it is a roar that demands that we do not accept any liberal templates.
Read more here.


There is a sea change underway in our political culture and it has been brewing just beneath the surface for years, even decades. The liberal hegemony that triumphed in the middle decades of the century has been eroding for some time. Remember the "hardhats for Nixon", the "Reagan Democrats", the "Perotistias"? They all were all expressions of dissatisfaction with the fundamental assumptions of liberal political culture -- the abandonment of the founders' promise of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and its replacement by a culture of death, intrusive regulation, and a pervasive pessimism about the future.
Liberals have dismissed such movements by invoking Richard Hofstader's infamous formulation in "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" that cast conservatives as being essentially irrational, even paranoid in their opposition to progressive policies. Those who stood up to liberal bigotry were dismissed as racists, pigs, bitter clingers, haters, and a host of other derisive terms. And through all this the leadership of the republican party, which claimed to represent conservative interests, simply accepted much of the liberal critique of American political culture. 

No more! Newt Gingrich is in many ways a supremely unattractive figure, but at least he is willing to challenge liberal bigotry head on, and in doing so has evoked a popular response that can only encourage those of us who hope for a better future.

Adventures in India, Part 14 -- Exploring the Amber Fort

After dismounting from the elephants we climbed a staircase and entered the main part of the Amber Fort.


And all the time we were being watched from above.


From inside the fort you could see the extent of the city's defenses. Quite impressive for those who haven't been to China.


The main entrance to the living quarters.


Magnificent stonework.




I'll take door number one....


The royal sleeping quarters.


The walls were honeycombed with several levels of narrow passages -- easy to get lost in.


And always above us loomed the Jaiguhr Fort.


Emerging from the wall passages we found ourselves on balconies overlooking courtyards. This one is outside the royal sleeping quarters. From here the raja could look down on petitioners.


More passages....


And more balconies....


A ceiling decoration.


And at last we exited the fort, found a ride back to the causeway, and bade farewell to the Amber Fort.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Adventures in India, Part 13 -- The Pink City and the Amber Fort

The next morning we got up early for a visit to the Amber Fort. This local musician met us as we left the hotel and boarded our bus for a tour through the Pink City.


As we passed through the wide boulevards [unusual for an Indian city] of old Jaipur we saw a number of Muslims praying in the streets, a reminder that Ramadan was coming to an end and the Eid Al Fitr [the holiday marking the end of the fasting period] was about to begin.


Snake charmers getting ready to charm the tourists.


The Hawa Mahal, or "Palace Of the Winds", a facade constructed three centuries ago to honor the god Krishna.


As we passed out of the town we saw, perched on a distant hill [the "Hill of Eagles"], the Jaigarh Fort. During the Eighteenth Century the fort served as a cannon foundry and today houses the largest cannon every cast.


Soon we came to our immediate destination -- the magnificent Amer [Amber] Fort.


We crossed the causeway at the end of the lake and took our place at the end of a long line waiting to be carried up to the fort above us. While we waited I took some pictures. This one shows the entrance to the gatehouse with the city walls [reminiscent of the Great Wall of China, but much smaller] in the distance.


Eventually we climbed up onto a platform and were seated on top of an elephant which carried us up to the fort.



From our perch we could look down on the elaborate gardens and Maota Lake in the valley below.



Eventually we came out into a large courtyard where we disembarked and prepared to enter the main part of the fort.


And, of course, even here there were monkeys.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Adventures in India, Part 12 -- Jantar Mantar

A short walk through the streets of Jaipur took us to Jantar Mantar, a remarkable collection of astronomical instruments constructed on an architectural scale. This is one of five such collections in India and is the largest. It was constructed by Rajah Jai Singh II during the first half of the eighteenth century [at the same time as Europe's "enlightenment"] and illustrates the fact that an interest in the scientific investigation of the physical world was not confined to the West.

There are fourteen major structures designed to measure time, predict eclipses, track stars, measure declinations of planets, and such basic astronomical data. 


This is the samrat yantra [the "supreme instrument"]. It is the largest sundial in the world and is accurate to within two seconds.


Other instruments.



Walking through the observatory is like threading a maze.





Once we left the observatory we were again plunged into the colorful chaos of Indian street lite. Here some snake charmers perform for the crowds.


More decorated elephants.


We then proceeded to a local carpet factory for yet another shopping opporunity.




The as the sun set we went back to our hotel, the Jai Mahal, where we found a wedding in progress. I stopped to snap a few pictures from a distance, and then it was off to bed.