Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iran, Islam, Military, Russia, The United States | Tags: Brutality in Libya, Misunderstanding the Middle East, Our Administration Mired in Scandal
Obama came into office as the Progressive Messiah, brilliant, a polymath, who was going to fix all the depredations committed by George W. Bush. “This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm the fundamental truth — that out of many we are one; that while we breathe we hope; and where we are met with cynicism, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism and doubt; and those who tell us that we can’t —we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we Can.” That went well.
Didn’t happen, any of it. It was just talk. But the people wanted to believe. Obama’s second term was not based on what he promised to do, but upon the sheer awfulness of Mitt Romney, with some serious help from the Internal Revenue Service, plus putting off anything disagreeable until after the election. After the election, the disagreeable stuff started to assert itself. We began to grasp just what had really happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, and that the administration had sent out administration officials to lie about it. The details began to come out, and the “Arab Spring” was noticeably falling apart, while Obama offered support to the new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. to keep it in power, without noticing that this was a radical Islamist administration.
Then the details of the IRS scandal began to appear, blamed on a couple of low-level rogue workers in a back room in Cincinnati. The use of a government bureau to help to swing an election by refusing 501(c)(4) status to groups that disagree with the administration, releasing information to their political opponents, frightening donors, and the appalling consequences of loss of trust were just beginning to sink into the American consciousness, when the unsuspected reach the government’s surveillance of telephone records, email and Facebook pages into the activities of U.S. citizens without their knowledge shocked America. We had Edward Snowden’s revelations from Honk Kong, for whatever they are worth, to disturb nations around the world. There were the AP subpoenas, and the Fox investigation revealing another scandal involving the Justice department.
The reaction to the information that telephone carriers were supplying the government with call logs and leading technology companies were participating in a secret surveillance program known as PRISM, was a direct assault on public trust, for the public uses telephones, and email, and computers, and Facebook and Twitter. So where is the president? Out of the country, but he reappeared just long enough to remind people that he was not
Darth Vader Dick Cheney, who reminded the country in the president’s absence, that there are terrorists out there and the law is supposed to protect the privacy of American citizens while trying to track down terrorists under close control of the courts.
So in the center of all this scandal, the president sent forth an aide to announce that the “red line” in Syria had been crossed and Assad was indeed using poison gases on his own people. Somewhat late, but better late than never? The CIA will supply weapons to the rebels, and supposedly we are able to sort the nice rebels from the al Qaeda ones.
We apparently have some 4500 troops practically on the Syrian order engaging in “wargames” with Jordan, which has incensed the other neighbors. Obama clearly does not want to really do anything, but on the other hand there are all those people dying and some want him to do something. Iran has announced that it is sending 4000 troops to aid Assad. The general opinion of those who really know something about the region is that we should stay out entirely, and send food and medicine to alleviate the suffering of the innocent.
This does not bode well, and promises to become another mess.
Filed under: Freedom, History, Military, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: CIA Director William Casey, Herbert E. Meyer, The Cold War - Revisited
Here is a fascinating take on Grenada, Poland and the Pope — and the history of the Cold War. This is from a lecture Herbert Meyer recently gave to the Young Americans Foundation on the occasion of the 100th birthday of William Casey, Ronald Reagan’s extraordinary CIA director. I was so interested in this (he’s a good storyteller) that I wish I had been there to hear the whole speech. And the next segment is equally good. So who is Herb Meyer?
Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. In these positions, he managed production of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates and other top-secret projections for the President and his national security advisers. Mr. Meyer is widely credited with being the first U.S. Government official to forecast the Soviet Union’s collapse — a forecast for which he later was awarded the U.S. National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, which is the Intelligence Community’s highest honor.
Steven Hayward has posted these three videos over at Powerline, and his comments are certainly worth reading in their entirety. We are so apt to have little knowledge or understanding of fairly recent history, because we have always to a certain extent been low-information voters. I don’t use the term in a pejorative way. We are all busy our lives and work and activities and keeping up with news, politics and world affairs is why we elect representatives to do it for us, as they make the laws that will govern our lives. (Our hope is that they will do a better job of it than we do. Uh huh). But how many, even of those who lived through it, have any real understanding of the Cold War? Steven Hayward said:
American Cold War policy might be said to have begun with the famous “Long Telegram” from George (“Mr. X”) Kennan, and then NSC 68, the equally important strategy document written largely by Paul Nitze. Both of these documents routinely find their way into nearly every history of the Cold War that has ever been published.
But a third document deserves to take its place next to Kennan’s “Sources of Soviet Conduct” and Nitze’s NSC 68: Herbert Meyer’s November 1983 memo to Casey (and Reagan) on “Why the World Is So Dangerous.” ¹ It was in this remarkable document that Meyer predicted that the United States under Reagan was on its way to winning the Cold War, and why. His analysis of what was going to happen in the USSR (before Gorbachev, remember) was dead on. The memo was later leaked in an attempt to embarrass Casey and Meyer (and Reagan, of course), but we can see who ended up embarrassed. The CIA bureaucracy sniped at Meyer, but Casey told Meyer: “Not to worry. You have two important fans and allies. Me, and the president.”
Meyer’s description of Casey explaining why being a member of the Soviet Politburo in the 1980s was “not a lot of fun.”
¹ Herb Meyer’s memo is hard to read. It says “OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible.” Which is an understatement. But it’s kind of interesting to take run-together words apart and translate where they are missing. Worthwhile anyway.
Filed under: Entertainment, Heartwarming, Music, Russia | Tags: Kremlin Capella, Russian Winter, Tradtional Folk Song
The Kremlin Capella sings a beautiful Russian Folk Song, with chilly pictures of Moscow in winter. The song is popularly called “The Little Bell.” In Russian Однозвучно гремит колокольчик. We posted this last year, and now it’s winter again. Enjoy.
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Politics, Russia, Science/Technology | Tags: A Win For Obama, Climate Change Dead, Russian Winter
Russia is enduring the harshest winter in over 70 years, with temperatures plunging as low as – 50° Celsius. Dozens have died from the cold and nearly 150 have been hospitalized. The country has not experienced such a long cold spell since 1938. Temperatures are 10 to 15 degrees colder than normal.
Across the country, 45 people have died in the cold, and 266 have been taken to the hospital. The Moscow region saw temperatures of –17° to –18° Celsius. Thermometers in Siberia have hit –50° which is unusual for what we often think of as one of the world’s coldest regions.
The combination of cold weather and more snow has played havoc with traffic and transportation. Flights have been cancelled across the country.
There are more pictures here. Makes you want to grab another sweater or turn up the heat. What the climate alarmists don’t seem to understand is that warmer weather is generally beneficial. The most perfect climate known to man occurred in the Medieval Climate Optimum, around 900 – 1300 when wine grapes grew in Britain, the Vikings farmed Greenland and the earth bloomed. We can adapt to warmer temperatures, but cold kills.
President Obama, in an interview for TIME’s person of the year issue, as identified climate change as one of his top three priorities in his second term after coming under fire from environmentalists for not doing anything in his first term (a carbon tax, CO2 limits ). Well, not to worry. The IPCC is admitting that CO2 is not a big deal after all. The IPCC admission has the climate world buzzing, but the news hasn’t reached the White House yet.
The models the IPCC uses for its predictions of catastrophic warming have overestimated the climate’s sensitivity to CO2. We can now estimate, based on observations, how sensitive the climate is to forcing from CO2, aerosols and other sources, minus ocean heat uptake. The conclusion suggests that the best observational estimates in decadal-average global temperatures between 1871–1880 and 2002–2011 is this: A doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of 1.6°– 1.7°Celsius or (2.9° –3.1° F). We can handle that. We do every day.
Academic scientists may be reluctant to admit that what they have been maintaining for many years is wrong. We’ll see. But consider the possibilities. President Obama can claim that the end of the global warming scare took place on his watch. He can quit squandering taxpayer money on windmills and solar shingles, plug-in cars, 500 lb. batteries, and stop shutting down the coal-fired power plants and restore our cheapest source of energy. He can send the environmental activists packing. He’s got a win-win situation there.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Iran, Middle East, National Security, Russia | Tags: Condoleeza Rice, Important World Figure, Outstanding American Woman
Former Secretary of State, Former National Security Adviser, Stanford Professor, Hoover Institute Fellow, Concert Pianist. She has some important things to say.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Europe, History, Russia, The United States | Tags: President Ronald Reagan, The Berlin Wall, The Soviet Union
It was twenty-five years ago today in front of the Brandenburg Gate. It was by definition a tipping point. One of those rare moments when everything changes. I’ve been thinking a lot about tipping points lately, so you will hear more about that.
Here is Peter Robinson, who wrote the speech and came up with the famous line. He includes a facsimile of the speech with President Reagan’s markings.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Foreign Policy, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: American Crossroads, American National Interest, Vladimir Putin
Filed under: Election 2012, Foreign Policy, National Security, Russia, The United States | Tags: National Defense, President Barack Obama, President Dmitri Medvedev
The President of the United States takes a solemn oath at his inauguration,. to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. The American people place a fundamental trust in a President that he will do all within his powers to defend the country from foreign military threats. That trust applies as well to the threats posed by ballistic missiles.
This is not the first time this President has been caught off guard, by a microphone still ‘hot’, making comments not intended to be heard by the American people. The President met today, March 26, with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Seoul, South Korea.
Baker Spring of the Heritage Foundation sketches the background:
President Obama has been willing to subordinate the missile defense program to his policies for arms control and nuclear disarmament for a long time. One need go no further than to read a portion of the preamble to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which is the new strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, on the subject of missile defense. It states that U.S. missile defense capabilities must come down as the numbers of strategic nuclear weapons come down under the treaty.
The Obama Administration spared no effort to defeat an amendment in Senate to strike this language in the New START preamble. The President’s comments in Seoul are completely in keeping with this past behavior. What is now evident is the scope of the manipulation he is pursuing to fool the American people about something essential to their security. It is now undeniable that President Obama is breaking the most basic trust the American people put in any President.
The exchange caught by the ‘hot’ microphone was as follows:
President Obama: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”
President Medvedev: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you.…”
President Obama: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
President Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin].”
Russia’s definition of missile defense cooperation is problematic to say the least. Regardless of the level of knowledge Russia has of the U.S. missile defense program—a result of hours of unilateral U.S. briefings—Moscow insists on having veto power over Washington’s decision to shoot down a missile on its way toward its victims. On other occasions, Russia demanded binding limitations on speed or geographical coverage of U.S. interceptors.
Due to the pressure of concerned Senators, the President certified that “it is the policy of the United States to continue development and deployment of United States missile defense systems to defend against missile threats from nations such as North Korea and Iran, including qualitative and quantitative improvements to such systems” in New START’s resolution of ratification. It appears the President is ready to walk away from his own commitment.
After all, it would not be the first time that he failed to honor his promises made pursuant to New START ratification. He already failed to provide funding for U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure, deemed essential at the time of ratification. If left unchecked, the Administration’s policies will lead to America’s becoming increasingly vulnerable. This is the wrong posture for the United States. North Korea is preparing to launch its long-range missile, and ballistic missile proliferation is growing worse. Heritage research shows that a “protect and defend” strategy—which would combine offensive, defensive, conventional, and nuclear weapons—is the best response for this uncertain environment.
Obama has already betrayed our allies Poland and the Czech Republic, abandoning plans for ground-based interceptors and missile defense radars needed to defend against Iranian missile launches. He has also demonstrated that he has no problem with lying to the American public. He has his own goals for the nation, and he prefers to keep those hidden — until he is reelected and there are no more restraints on his actions. This is an appalling betrayal of the American people — and not even the first one. We’ll just have to see that there is no second term.
Filed under: News of the Weird, Russia, Science/Technology | Tags: Recreating an Extinct Species, Russia and South Korea, Wooly Mammoth
Woolly Mammoth Recreation: Wikimedia Commons
Researchers from Russia and South Korea are planning to resurrect the Ice Age woolly mammoth. The scientists signed a deal on Tuesday to share technology and research that could lead to the birth of a mammoth clone, gestated in a surrogate Indian elephant mother.
Mammoth remains were uncovered in thawed Siberian permafrost, and around the world, scientists have been trying to extract DNA from the remains. Paleobiologists previously were able to reproduce mammoth blood protein, and Japanese researchers want to resurrect the mammoth within five years.
This new project will move forward if the Russian institution, the North-Eastern Federal University of the Sakha Republic can ship the mammoth remains to the Koreans.
The project would work like earlier cloning studies that successfully reproduced dogs, a cow, a cat, a pig, a wolf and coyotes. The nuclei of mammoth somatic cells would be implanted into the nuclei of donor elephant eggs, to produce elephant embryos with mammoth DNA. The embryos would be implanted then in elephant wombs, where they would gestate for 22 months.
The earlier protein study showed that we can learn much by working with these extinct creatures — the mammoth blood was found to contain an anti-freeze component that no one would have guessed existed.
Woolly mammoths were not significantly larger than today’s African elephants, and males reached around 9 feet. Unlike today’s elephants they had small ears, the largest found are only 12 inches long. The tusks were extremely long, up to 16 feet long, and markedly curved. It’s not clear what the purpose was, they may have been used as shovels to clear snow from the ground and reach the vegetation underneath.
By 1929 the remains of thirty-four mammoths had been found with frozen soft tissues. Only four were relatively complete. Large amounts of mammoth ivory have been found in Siberia. Mammoth tusks have been items of trade for at least 2,000 years. They disappeared at the end of the Pleistocene —10,000 years ago, but an isolated population survived on Wrangell Island until roughly 1700 B.C. Woolly mammoths appear in cave art in Dordogne, France. Mammoth specimens have been found in North Carolina and Kentucky.
I suspect that anyone who saw Jurassic Park would find the cloning effort a little uncomfortable at best.
Filed under: Environment, Russia, Science/Technology | Tags: A Pleistocene Plant, Narrow-Leafed Campion, Russian Academy of Science
This pretty little plant, Sylene stenophylla, was grown from a seed from a tiny fruit burrowed into the dirt by an Arctic ground squirrel, to eat later if he could remember where he had buried it. The fruit quickly froze in the cold ground and was preserved in permafrost, waiting to grow into a full-fledged flowering plant for 30,000 years. Russian scientists have now regenerated this Pleistocene plant, transplanting it into a pot in a lab. A year later, it grew and flowered and bore fruit.
This specimen is distinctly different from the modern-day version of Sylene stenophylla, or narrow-leafed Campion. The fruits were buried about 125 feet in undisturbed, never thawed permafrost sediments at roughly 19.4° F. Radiocarbon dating showed that the fruits were 31,800 years old, give-or-take about 300 years. Imagine. Seeds store the embryo of a new plant and store it in protective material until conditions are right for it to germinate.
The Russian team led by David Gilichinsky at the Russian Academy of Sciences grew a modern-day narrow-leafed Campion as a control so they could see the differences among the two generations — the Pleistocene version put out twice as many buds, but the modern version put out roots faster. The regenerated ancient seeds had a 100 percent germination rate, while the control plants had only an 86-90 percent germination.
Needless to say, scientists are interested in the permafrost as an important new gene pool. Other ancient ground squirrel burrows have been found in Yukon territory and in Alaska.”We consider it essential to continue permafrost studies in search of an ancient genetic pool, that of pre-existing life, which hypothetically has long since vanished from the Earth’s surface,” the authors write. The paper was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Filed under: China, Europe, History, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Russia | Tags: 1162—1227, Genghis Khan, He Created an Empire
I have mentioned that I never seem to read anything when it first comes out— partly because I usually have a stack of books that I have not yet read, but partly also because you have to be in the right frame of mind for some books. A good friend recommended Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World to me years ago. It was published in 2004, but I never got around to it until now. When I get excited about something I have read, I’m inclined to insist that everyone else read it right now. So consider yourselves warned.
I knew nothing about Genghis Khan except the”Mongol hordes,” Ulaanbaatar, the steppes, and the first stanza of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Xanadu” which I recalled word for word from Survey of English Literature quite a few years ago. Not promising. So I read the Introduction.
In 1937, the soul of Genghis Khan disappeared from the Buddhist monastery in central Mongolia along the River of the Moon below the black Shankh Mountains where the faithful lamas had protected and venerated it for centuries.
Well, who could resist that? Born in 1162, and his soul disappeared in 1937.
Year by year, he gradually defeated everyone more powerful that he was, until he had conquered every tribe on the Mongolian steppe. At the age of fifty, when most great conquerors had already put their fighting days behind them, Genghis Khan’s Spirit Banner beckoned him out of his remote homeland to confront the armies of the civilized people who had harassed and enslaved the nomadic tribes for centuries. …
In conquest after conquest, the Mongol army transformed warfare into an intercontinental affair fought on multiple fronts stretching across thousands of miles. Genghis Khan’s innovative fighting techniques made the heavily armored knights of medieval Europe obsolete, replacing them with disciplined cavalry moving in coordinated units. Rather than relying on defensive fortifications, he made brilliant use of speed and surprise on the battlefield, as well as perfecting siege warfare to such a degree that he ended the era of walled cities. Genghis Khan taught his people not only to fight across incredible distances but to sustain their campaign over years, decades, and, eventually, more than three generations of constant fighting.
Jack Weatherford is the Dewitt Wallace Professor of anthropology at Macalester College in Minnesota. He earned his PhD at the University of California, San Diego, and an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Chinggis Khaan College in Mongolia. He certainly knows how to draw in a reader.
In American terms, the accomplishment of Genghis Khan might be understood if the United States, instead of being created by a group of educated merchants or wealthy planters, had been founded by one of its illiterate slaves, who, by the sheer force of personality, charisma and determination, liberated America from foreign rule, united the people, created an alphabet, wrote the constitution, established universal religious freedom, invented a new system of warfare, marched an army from Canada to Brazil, and opened roads of commerce in a free-trade zone that stretched across the continents. On every level and from any perspective, the scale and scope of Genghis Khan’s accomplishments challenge the limits of imagination and tax the resources of scholarly explanation.
That’s all the sampling I shall give you. Here’s the book at Amazon, though every bookstore should have copies. And here is a young Mongolian musician, Battulga, who plays “Jonon Kharin Yavdal” on a horse headed fiddle which has a skin covered box and horsehair strings (even the bow-string) as in an ancient traditional fiddle. Enjoy.