Congratulations to the Marines and their Afghan allies for the Marjah victory

I meant to post this yesterday, but time got away from me:  many, many, many congratulations to the Marines and their Afghan allies for the Marjah victory.  I never doubted that they would win, but I certainly understood that each Marine and Afghan soldier faced the risk that he would make the ultimate sacrifice for that victory.

Naturally, the Times, rather than celebrating a great military feat, is already trying to set up new (and in Times-land, almost certainly insurmountable) hurdles for our troops.  I have no doubt that our troops will do just fine.

For a reminder about what out-of-control, murderous troops really look like, read this story of the way in which Soviet soldiers raped the women who found themselves in the soldiers’ path during WWII.  There are no, and I mean no, stories like that about our American troops, whether one is looking at WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the First Gulf War, the war in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan.  (Indeed, I bet I could say the same for American troops going back to the Revolutionary War.)  Sure, there are always renegade men who go off and do bad things, but these same men appear periodically in our cities and towns too.  Bad guys exist, but American troops have proven definitively that they are part of a good institution, one that does not use rape as a weapon.

Drifting a little further afield, the fact that American men are not rapists even when they have the power of the military behind them, is also a useful reminder about what a misanthropic religion Islam is.  (And no, I didn’t get confused and substitute misanthropic for misogynistic.)  While it’s certainly true that one of Islam’s most glaring deficiencies is its desperate desire to subjugate women out of fear of their sexuality, it’s quite obvious that the Islamists hide from feminine sexuality because they believe men to be inherently weak.  In the Islamic world, the theory goes, any man, upon seeing a woman, will be incapable of refraining from raping her.  That is a scathing indictment of men.

In stark contrast, American men are civilized creatures.  Sure, they might leave the toilet seats up, scratch their crotches in public, and belch at inappropriate times, but when push comes to shove, they are models of self-control.

So, in thinking it through, congratulations are due to our Marines, not only for being great warriors, but also for being great human beings.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

One of the minds behind NPR — argumentum ad ignorantiam

Some months ago, I read and enjoyed Michael Sragow’s fine Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master. It’s clear from the book that, as a director, Fleming was the last of a dying breed — a gentleman in Hollywood and, of course, a truly great director, responsible for such classics as Red Dust, Gone With the Wind, and The Wizard of Oz.

What I also read and enjoyed very much this morning was Sragow’s description of his run-in with NPR (appearing as part of a larger article about Fleming’s ability to avoid the limelight, even as his stars and his movies shown ever brighter):

OVER a year ago a producer for National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” interviewed me about whether my book, “Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master,” would be worth the host Terry Gross’s time. The result was a mildly farcical call and response. Fleming, I said, molded as many great stars as any director in Hollywood, including Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland and Jean Harlow. The producer responded, “Then why haven’t I heard of him?” I explained that he was not a self-promoter, hired no publicist and left no diaries or journals. But he did direct pictures that defined movies for generations of Americans, smash hits like “Gone With the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Captains Courageous” and “A Guy Named Joe.”

The producer repeated, “Then why haven’t I heard of him?” I added that he died young, at 59, in 1949. Not only that, his best director friends, Howard Hawks and King Vidor, and respected colleagues, like David O. Selznick, outlived him and later took much of the credit for his work.

Again the producer asked, “Then why haven’t I heard of him?”

I said that’s why I wrote the book.

The problem wasn’t simply the producer’s argumentum ad ignorantiam.  It’s also the persistence of conventional wisdom.

NPR — paid for in significant part by taxpayers, ardently liberal in its outlook, and guided by idiots.

Will you all join me in remembering this wonderful phrase — argumentum ad ignorantiam — the next time you read the newspaper or listen to a TV show?

Does algore have any tone other than hysterical?

I truly intended to fisk algore’s op-ed at the New York Times, in which he explains why global warming is still so important that the world should continue its task of turning him into the first green-based billionaire.  I was foiled, however, by the fact that I couldn’t step giggling as I read his hysterical hyperbole.  I mean, really, just look at this opening paragraph (italicized emphasis mine, although I’m sure algore heard that shrill emphasis in his own head as he wrote):

It would be an enormous relief if the recent attacks on the science of global warming actually indicated that we do not face an unimaginable calamity requiring large-scale, preventive measures to protect human civilization as we know it.

The hysteria continues unabated in subsequent paragraphs:

Of course, we would still need to deal with the national security risks of our growing dependence on a global oil market dominated by dwindling reserves in the most unstable region of the world, and the economic risks of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas in return for that oil.

[snip]

We would no longer have to worry that our grandchildren would one day look back on us as a criminal generation that had selfishly and blithely ignored clear warnings that their fate was in our hands.

[snip]

But unfortunately, the reality of the danger we are courting has not been changed by the discovery of at least two mistakes in the thousands of pages of careful scientific work over the last 22 years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, the crisis is still growing because we are continuing to dump 90 million tons of global-warming pollution every 24 hours into the atmosphere — as if it were an open sewer.

And so it goes, with one overwrought opining after another.  What’s incredibly funny, though, is algore’s attempt to defuse the collapsing science.  Taking it like a man, he admits that there are just a few problems:

It is true that the climate panel published a flawed overestimate of the melting rate of debris-covered glaciers in the Himalayas, and used information about the Netherlands provided to it by the government, which was later found to be partly inaccurate. In addition, e-mail messages stolen from the University of East Anglia in Britain showed that scientists besieged by an onslaught of hostile, make-work demands from climate skeptics may not have adequately followed the requirements of the British freedom of information law.

But fear not, fair climate panic maidens — mistakes happen.  Fortunately for those whose life’s goal is to line algore’s pockets, consensus still exists notwithstanding these “little” mistakes completely undermining the AGW theory.  Read what algore writes carefully.  He offers no science to support AGW despite the mistakes.  Instead, he simply assures us that there is consensus and, to justify his assurance, reiterates, boot-strap style his existing, and increasingly discredited, theories:

But the scientific enterprise will never be completely free of mistakes. What is important is that the overwhelming consensus on global warming remains unchanged. It is also worth noting that the panel’s scientists — acting in good faith on the best information then available to them — probably underestimated the range of sea-level rise in this century, the speed with which the Arctic ice cap is disappearing and the speed with which some of the large glacial flows in Antarctica and Greenland are melting and racing to the sea.

[snip]

Here is what scientists have found is happening to our climate: man-made global-warming pollution traps heat from the sun and increases atmospheric temperatures. These pollutants — especially carbon dioxide — have been increasing rapidly with the growth in the burning of coal, oil, natural gas and forests, and temperatures have increased over the same period. Almost all of the ice-covered regions of the Earth are melting — and seas are rising. Hurricanes are predicted to grow stronger and more destructive, though their number is expected to decrease. Droughts are getting longer and deeper in many mid-continent regions, even as the severity of flooding increases. The seasonal predictability of rainfall and temperatures is being disrupted, posing serious threats to agriculture. The rate of species extinction is accelerating to dangerous levels.

I don’t know about you, but it seems tacky that algore ignores the icky little fact that earth’s climate has changed constantly for the past, oh, about 3 billion years.  Or maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that an incredibly wooden guy has a hard time comprehending a fluid situation.  (And yes, that’s a nasty, ad hominem attack on my part, but there’s no getting past the fact that, when you think algore, you don’t think of a flexible mind).

Suspecting that the ordinary American, after the past couple of years of cold winters and cooling global temperatures, might be inclined to discount his ravings, algore assures us that you should definitely discount the information of your own eyes and senses, not to mention all those newspaper articles you’ve been reading:

Because these and other effects of global warming are distributed globally, they are difficult to identify and interpret in any particular location. For example, January was seen as unusually cold in much of the United States. Yet from a global perspective, it was the second-hottest January since surface temperatures were first measured 130 years ago.

Algore’s reasoning, which seems to say that actual weather proves nothing, should come as a surprise to everyone who has noticed that, no matter the weather — heat, cold, snow, ice, sun, hurricane, even earthquakes — we are constantly assured that everything results from AGW.  So contrary to algore’s statement, one can apparently tell what’s going on just by looking out the window, as long as one always attributes what one sees to anthropogenic global warming.

If you feel the yen to giggle and be dismayed periodically, please take the time to read algore’s hysterical diatribe refuting collapsing science with algore-approved conclusions.  As for me, I’m simply grateful that the whole edifice is collapsing.  As the earth’s stewards, it is our responsibility, and it works to our benefit, to keep our environment as clean and beautiful as possible.  Doing so, however, does not require mass wealth transfer to algore and other Third World Nations (that word “other” is deliberate there), it does not involve upending our economy and lifestyle, and it does not require destroying our national security needs.  Instead, it simply requires us to use our American ingenuity to make things better, rather than to use our algore induced paranoia to make things insane.

The common bonds between Iraniah Mullahs and the Democrats *UPDATED*

Several years ago, when Bush Derangement Syndrome was at its peak, I tackled the “he’s got his finger on the button and he’s going to blow up the world” meme that anti-war activists were so shrilly screaming.  I pointed out that there was no evidence whatsoever to indicate that George Bush was an apocalyptic person.  Indeed, every indication was that he was someone who fought reluctantly and defensively only — that is, he wanted to protect America from destruction at the hands of another.  That his information was wrong, that the threat from Iraq was something of a Potemkin threat, with Hussein blustering about his capabilities to elevate his profile, doesn’t take away from the fact that Bush engaged with Iraq, not to destroy Iraq, but because he believed America was at imminent risk from Iraq’s destructive capabilities.  (Incidentally, I believe that much of Iraq’s arsenal, whether it rose to the level of WMDs or not, is currently sitting comfortably in Syria, except for the bit that Israel destroyed in 2007.)

How different are the Mullahs.  Western pragmatists (including Leftists in deep denial about the nature of Apocalyptic Shia Islam) believe that Iran is merely bloviating for effect when it constantly insists that Israel will be reduced to ashes.  They believe that Iran is merely trying to gain regional stature by creating functional nuclear weapons.  After all, they say, Iran knows that, if it launches a nuclear bomb at Israel, two things will happen:  First, Israel’s last act before its own destruction will be to destroy Iran (assuming Israel has that long-range nuclear capability itself).  Second, Iran will become a pariah among nations for committing this genocidal act, which will lead to the downfall of the Mullahs and the end of their dreams.  As for this last, considering the rampant antisemitism on the rise around the world, considering the region in which Iran is located, and, right now, considering the man in the White House, I don’t believe that for a minute.  Iran will get her hand politely slapped at the UN, and the world will continue as usual, minus a few million Jews.

The last argument in the pragmatists’ quiver is that, even if Israel can’t destroy Iran, and even if Iran doesn’t become a pariah nation, Iran will not drop the bomb because, if she does, as many Muslims will die as will Jews.  After all, not only does Israel have a huge Arab population, it is surrounded by Muslims — in the West Bank, in Gaza, in Egypt, in Jordan, in Lebanon.  Nuclear bombs have fallout, and many millions of Muslims will die along with the hated Jews.

And that’s where the pragmatists show themselves to be ignoramuses.  They actually believe that the Mullahs care whether Muslims, Iranian or otherwise, die.  The Mullahs don’t.  Their Shia religion is an apocalyptic one, and one that doesn’t care whether man or God ignites the maelstrom that brings about the returning of the missing imam and the end of days.  In that, their apocalyptic fervor is quite different from the Christian belief in an apocalypse.  As I understand it, the latter predicts the Apocalypse’s ultimate arrival, but does not believe that man is the instrument that will bring it about.  God will, when he wills.

For the Mullahs, then, there’s a distinct virtue in simultaneously wiping God’s enemies (Jews and the hated State of Israel) off the earth and in simultaneously bringing about the end of days.  That the latter might involve the deaths of millions, including Iran’s own citizens, is completely irrelevant.  The goal matters, and the collateral damage just has to be accepted as part of that greater good.

I promised in the title of this post that I would compare Mullahs and Democrats.  I will or, rather, Andy McCarthy will explain that the Democrats, too, do not care about self-immolation if it will lead to their own apocalyptic vision, which is the destruction of America’s evil capitalist, individualist system, and the emergence, like a phoenix from the ashes, of a socialist promised land.  Any pragmatist Republican fantasies that Democrats will retreat in the face of failing poll numbers are just that — fantasies:

I think our side is analyzing this all wrong: Today’s Democrats are controlled by the radical Left, and it is more important to them to execute the permanent transformation of American society than it is to win the upcoming election cycles. They have already factored in losing in November — even losing big. For them, winning big now outweighs that. I think they’re right.

I hear Republicans getting giddy over the fact that “reconciliation,” if it comes to that, is a huge political loser. That’s the wrong way to look at it. The Democratic leadership has already internalized the inevitablility of taking its political lumps. That makes reconciliation truly scary. Since the Dems know they will have to ram this monstrosity through, they figure it might as well be as monstrous as they can get wavering Democrats to go along with. Clipping the leadership’s statist ambitions in order to peel off a few Republicans is not going to work. I’m glad Republicans have held firm, but let’s not be under any illusions about what that means. In the Democrat leadership, we are not dealing with conventional politicians for whom the goal of being reelected is paramount and will rein in their radicalism. They want socialized medicine and all it entails about government control even more than they want to win elections. After all, if the party of government transforms the relationship between the citizen and the state, its power over our lives will be vast even in those cycles when it is not in the majority. This is about power, and there is more to power than winning elections, especially if you’ve calculated that your opposition does not have the gumption to dismantle your ballooning welfare state.

Nor is there any consolation to be had in a Republican sweep in November.  Even if the Republicans grab the majority in both houses, they will not be able to pass veto-proof bills undoing the reconciliation damage heading down the political path.  Obama, after all, is every bit as interested in transformation as the rest of the current crop of Democrats and will willingly sacrifice himself by vetoing bills aimed at undoing a government takeover of 1/6 of the American economy.

Democrats are political martyrs, willing to die for the cause.  This willingness explains Obama’s silly double-talk, where he urges compromise on the one hand and, on the other hand, says his way or the reconciliation highway.

And really, when you think about it, the martyrdom here is minimal.  No actual crucifixion, no arrows, no flayings, no nuclear annihilation.  Instead, you pack your bags, board a plane, and head off into the sunset of six figure speaking gigs, corporate jobs, and endless media adulation.  That is, until the whole system implodes and the true anarchy begins.

Cross-p0sted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  From Andy McCarthy’s savvy predictions to Nancy Pelosi’s small brain and loud mouth:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged her colleagues to back a major overhaul of U.S. health care even if it threatens their political careers, a call to arms that underscores the issue’s massive role in this election year.

Lawmakers sometimes must enact policies that, even if unpopular at the moment, will help the public, Pelosi said in an interview being broadcast Sunday the ABC News program “This Week.”
“We’re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress,” she said. “We’re here to do the job for the American people.”

[snip]

Her comments to ABC, in the interview released Sunday, seemed to acknowledge the widely held view that Democrats will lose House seats this fall — maybe a lot. They now control the chamber 255 to 178, with two vacancies. Pelosi stopped well short of suggesting Democrats could lose their majority, but she called on members of her party to make a bold move on health care with no prospects of GOP help.

“Time is up,” she said. “We really have to go forth.”

Her comments somewhat echoed those of President Obama, who said at the end of last week’s bipartisan health care summit that Congress should act on the issue and let voters render their verdicts. “That’s what elections are for,” he said.

An even better Slim Whitman recording of “I remember you”

This is a more mature Slim, singing “I Remember You” at a slower, richer pace than in the last video I posted of the same singer, same song, with an absolutely stunned Andy Kaufman (at 1:25) drinking in the beauty of Slim’s performance:

And here’s the original recording, from The Fleet’s In, with Dorothy Lamour (and, in a non-musical role, an uncomfortable, but sweet, Bill Holden), 1942:

Liberal euphoria over this report assumes that very high intelligence is actually something useful and boastworthy *UPDATED*

I can say without exaggeration that I’m a pretty smart person.  Not brilliant, but definitely a long-tail on that part of the bell curve dedicated to higher IQs.  I used to think this mattered tremendously.  The older I get, though, the less impressed I am by my own intelligence or by anyone else’s.  What’s become clear to me is that what matters is a person’s functionality, not his smarts.

I’d actually started to figure this out during my Junior High and High School Years.  One of my classmates was a girl named Trixie.  When it came to native smarts, I could run rings around her.  Except that, when it came to grades, I didn’t.  Trixie had something I lacked — self-discipline.  While I procrastinated wildly as to every project that came my way, Trixie buckled down and got to work.  Her brains may not have been quite as up to snuff as mine, but her values outstripped me so much that brains became irrelevant.  (She was also an extremely nice person, much nicer than I was, for what that’s worth.)

I shouldn’t have been so surprised by Trixie, because my own family history revealed the same pattern.  My Uncle was a bona fide genius.  The Jewish Gymnasium in Berlin, which was probably one of the best schools in early 20th Century Germany (which also means one of the best schools in the world) characterized him as one of the most brilliant students they’d ever had.  He was also a Communist and a general malcontent.  Not only did he not make anything with his life (which could be attributed to the dislocation of WWII), he was an active failure in his own life.  He was going to show the world how great Communism was by failing.  He may have been smart, but he was self-destructive.

My Mom describes him and his wife living in Denmark, in a squalid one-room apartment, which was all they could afford on his salary as a very low-level civil servant.  Her most vivid memory is the fact that, when they had runny noses, they’d blow their noses into their hands, and then wipe the results on the wall.  I shudder even to think of it.  So much for genius….

Certainly we need our brilliant people, the Einsteins and Pasteurs and Bill Gates, but they are often people of limited functionality, some of whom are as self-destructive as they are constructive.  It’s in the great middle that our strength lies — people who can balance functional intelligence, native good sense, and solid morals.

All of which explains why I’m totally unimpressed by a study purporting to show that liberals are smarter than conservatives.  Even if it’s true, that’s not necessarily something to boast about.

UPDATE:  When you get to 3:30 in this brilliant Andrew Klavan video, you’ll understand why it’s a perfect coda to this post: