Archive for July, 2016
31 Jul 2016

He Killed Jimmy Hoffa

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Frank Sheeran, “The Irishman” 1920-2003

Eric Shawn believes that his investigation proves that he found the man who killed Jimmy Hoffa.

It was a hot July afternoon, nearly 92 degrees, when Teamsters president and labor icon Jimmy Hoffa is said to have opened the rear door of a maroon 1975 Mercury in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. and climbed in.

He was never seen again.

The FBI has expended countless resources in the ensuing decades in the hopes of finally solving this enduring American mystery with no success.

But I believe, based on my 2004 investigation, that Frank Sheeran did it. …

Sheeran, known as “The Irishman,” told me that he drove with Hoffa to a nearby house where he shot him twice in the back of the head. Our investigation subsequently yielded the corroboration, the suspected blood evidence on the hardwood floor and down the hallway of that house, that supports Frank’s story.

31 Jul 2016

You Kids, Get Off My Plane!

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1943 Boeing-Stearman Model 75

Philip Handleman, in the Wall Street Journal, vents over the disrespect for WWII heroism, and other people’s property, that’s rife in America these days.

The military used my Boeing Stearman, built in 1943, to instruct eager cadets in the basics of airmanship, a skill desperately needed in the war against ruthless totalitarian foes. Near war’s end, the aircraft wound up at the Livermore, Calif., naval air station. It was assigned to the shore establishment of the USS Bunker Hill, one of the most battle-hardened aircraft carriers of the Pacific campaign. …

When I stop to think of the young men who flew this magnificent wood-and-fabric creation in its heyday, I get goosebumps. They were the swashbuckling daredevils of the Greatest Generation, tempting fate in the open air. They vanquished vicious enemies and set the country on a trajectory to longstanding aerospace pre-eminence.

With such a patriotic introduction, you would think that the people strolling across the ramp would be especially respectful. Indeed, most passersby were polite, pausing to gaze in quiet awe at the authentically restored biplane in the bright-yellow paint scheme used by the Navy in the early war years. Others, usually on crutches or confined to wheelchairs, stopped to share splendid memories of learning to fly in an aircraft like mine.

Unfortunately, a small but persistent stream of attendees approached my Stearman with a sense of entitlement. Parents let their preteens thrust their hands against the biplane’s fabric. Some raised their children, with feet dragging across the wing, to get a peek inside one of the two open cockpits, as if the 73-year-old trainer were a jungle gym. When I defended the aircraft, telling the pokers and prodders to cut it out, some parents indignantly stared. I wondered if those libertines would tolerate me groping their minivans in a supermarket parking lot.

It struck me how this indulgent attitude differed from the culture of selflessness embraced by the cadets who trained in the biplane. Personal restraint and self-discipline have been spurned in favor of the mentality that says anything goes.

31 Jul 2016

5000 Dinosaur Footprints on Vertical Walls

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Kuriosistas: Cretaceous dinosaur footprints on vertical wall of quarry at Cal Orcko near the city of Suvre, Bolivia.

30 Jul 2016

Voting For Neither

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30 Jul 2016

Those International Endorsements Keep Rolling In

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30 Jul 2016

Jupiter South Pole

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Recently released view of Jupiter’s south pole from the Juno spacecraft.

30 Jul 2016

No Amazon Back Then

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Alexis C. Madrigal, in the Atlantic, describes reading about the astonishing impact of the Paperback Revolution.

I’m reading a fascinating book called Two-Bit Culture: The Paperbacking of America, published in 1984 by the popular historian Kenneth C. Davis. …

I was absolutely dumbfounded by his description of the publishing business in 1931. He draws on a “landmark survey of publishing practices” carried out by one Orin H. Cheney, a banker, as a service to the National Association of Book Publishers.

Among the normal complaints about book publishers selection processes, we find this staggering stat about the retail business of selling books (emphasis added).

“In the entire country, there were only some four thousand places where a book could be purchased, and most of these were gift shops and stationary stores that carried only a few popular novels,” Davis writes. “In reality, there were but five hundred or so legitimate bookstores that warranted regular visits from publishers’ salesmen (and in 1931 they were all men). Of these five hundred, most were refined, old-fashioned ‘carriage trade’ stores catering to an elite clientele in the nation’s twelve largest cities.”

Furthermore, two-thirds of American counties — 66 percent! — had exactly 0 bookstores. It was a relatively tiny business centered in the urban areas of the country. Did some great books come out back then? Of course! But they were aimed only at the tiny percentage of the country that was visible to publishers of the time: sophisticated urban elites. It wasn’t that people couldn’t read; by 1940, UNESCO estimated that 95 percent of adults in America were literate. No, it’s just that the vast majority of adults were not considered to be part of the cultural enterprise of book publishing. People read stuff (the paper, the Bible, comic books), just not what the publishers were putting out.

I’m old enough to remember all this first-hand.

When I was a boy, the only books for sale in our town consisted of one short shelf of children’s book series (Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Bobbsey Twins, Happy Hollisters) and classics intended for kids (Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, Robinson Crusoe, Black Beauty, Little Women) at Hook’s, our local greeting card and gift shop plus one revolving metal rack of paperbacks, Mickey Spillaine, James M. Cain, Erskine Caldwell, invariably featuring some partially-unclothed bosomy blonde.

I was about 8-years-old when I was surprised to find a brand-new rack of paperbacks near the checkout counter in Newberry’s Five-and-Ten-Cent Store on North Main. I made my first personal book purchase that day, buying Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for 45 cents.

Books were extremely difficult to obtain. I exhausted the resources of the Shenandoah Library, and would take buses to search the libraries in Pottsville and Jim Thorpe. I once walked five miles each way, over the mountain to Ringtown to pick up a Life of Washington someone offered me for free. (Rather a cornball story, but true).

Four or five years later, a paperback bookstore opened next to the Strand Movie Theater on South Main, and my self-education via the Signet Classics was off and running. I read fast and obsessively and when I entered college, I had already read a lot more than your typical Ivy League graduate.

I still accumulate books obsessively, and my wife and I own so many that we have to maintain two storage facilities outside the home to house them all.

My guess is that even provincial autodidacts in future will never be so obsessed with book acquisition and ownership as myself. The Paperback Revolution delivered quite a lot of the literature of the world into my hands for only a small price. Today, the Internet can deliver most books published before 1925 in eBook form absolutely free.

No one will ever need to buy a great big set of Dickens or of the Waverly Novels any more. They are all right there, just a few mouse clicks away.

29 Jul 2016

But Will She Charge For State of the Unions?



Hat tip to Peter Robinson.

29 Jul 2016

Want to Bet?

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The Hill:

Trump: Republicans ‘have no choice’ but to vote for me.

Donald Trump said Thursday that Republicans wary of his campaign have little choice but to vote for him anyway.

“If you really like Donald Trump, that’s great, but if you don’t, you have to vote for me anyway. You know why? Supreme Court judges, Supreme Court judges,” Trump said at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“Have no choice, sorry, sorry, sorry. You have no choice,” Trump continued, calling the late Justice Antonin Scalia a “great guy” and acknowledging tied decisions at the Supreme Court after his death.

In the first place, I do not believe that Donald Trump has any real conservative convictions, and I don’t believe his promises are worth any more than his payment agreements with local New Jersey contractors. Once he’s in office, he can do anything he pleases, and what Trump will do is whatever he thinks is good for Trump.

Supreme Court seats are also not the be all and end all of everything. We had a majority of Republican appointees and Chief Justice Roberts changed his vote once and saved Obamacare twice.

The fact is Donald Trump is not only unqualified to be president, insofar as he has any positions, his positions (Nativism, Protectionism, Isolationism) constitute reprehensible and long-refuted debris from the rubbish-pile of American political history. Know-Nothing-ism Redivivus has nothing to do with Conservatism or the traditional positions of the Republican Party.

Trump is a repulsive personality. He is vulgar and a bully, and he gives constant evidence of being afflicted with a very serious personality disorder. Faced with criticism or opposition, he behaves like an ill-mannered 8-year-old rather than a serious adult. My own opinion is that there is something really wrong with the judgement of anyone who would promote the contemporary equivalent of Caligula to the chief magistracy of the Republic.

I’m afraid that Hillary Clinton is not an acceptable alternative. Hillary is a crook and a cynical democrat demagogue allied with the radical left. She, too, has some kind of disordered personality, and a record of bad judgement.

The fact is we are simply screwed this year. There is no major party choice to vote for. It’s happened before. The first presidential election I was eligible to vote, the personally-repulsive, China-recognizing, EPA-creating, non-conservative Richard Nixon was running against George McGovern who was representing the Anti-Vietnam War socialist radical left. I voted tongue-in-cheek for John Schmidtz, a Bircher congressman who talked about the Illumati Conspiracy.

We are going to have a bad four years however this comes out. I’ll grant you that there is a certain charm to the idea of electing Trump. Putting Trump in the White House would be a lot like stuffing a disgruntled water snake into a thoroughly-disliked high school Biology teacher’s desk drawer. But this is our country we’re talking about, not high school. Human lives, the fate of the free world, and the Constitution are at stake. We’re probably better off really if (ugh!) Hillary wins. That way, we take our lumps for another four years, and elect a qualified genuine conservative in 2020 after Hillary makes a major mess and the chickens really come home to roost. But I will not be voting for her either.

29 Jul 2016

An Allegedly Tepid Trumpkin Explains

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Five Feet of Fury‘s Kathy Shaidle, at Takimag, attempts to explain, and justify, the twisted motivations of someone willing to support Donald Trump.

I don’t like Donald Trump on the First Amendment, don’t trust him on the Second, and positively loathe him on eminent domain. I covered that here at Taki’s in October 2012, when I was also still pissed at Trump for firing Adam Carolla on The Apprentice.

Trump says creepy crap about his daughter.

He’s vowed to bring manufacturing back to America just as corrupt, collectivist labor unions were finally in hospice; I grew up in a steel town, in the ’70s—I dread spending what’s left of my life hearing “Take This Job and Shove It” on an endless loop once millions of Americans suddenly remember why they hated that type of work in the first place. (With the added “bonus” of having to pay more for—or go without—all the stuff they used to buy so cheaply at Costco and Walmart, presuming they stay in business.)

I’m afraid he’ll turn the Map Room into the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.

But if Donald Trump wins the presidency in November, I will literally fall to my knees and weep with relief.

I’m not proud of that. I hate feeling propelled, rather like a cat in heat, by a toxic cocktail of shallow novelty-seeking and primitive tribalism. As a conscientious, civic-minded reason to cheer a presidential wannabe, “He annoys all the right people” ranks somewhere between “It’s just time for a change” and “This’ll teach the bastards a lesson.” I know.

But 15 years after September 11—and however long it’s been since O.J., and since “global warming” became a “thing”—I just can’t cope. And drinking’s not an option.

I thought we were going to nuke Afghanistan, not build schools for inbred pedophiles with no written language—or worse, let them and their ilk into the country. I agree with Derb that “the most amazing, astounding, astonishing statistic of the 21st century is that the annual rate of Muslim immigration into the U.S.A. increased after 9/11.”

Meanwhile, millions of low-IQ Mexicans stream across your southern border, bringing their well-documented attitudes about rape, animal cruelty, drunk driving, and litter. (Can you people really not mow your own lawns or build your own decks? A serious question for another time…)

Now, switching from grapes to cotton: I figured that after Americans got electing their first black president out of their systems, they’d return to their senses—not hand the fool a second term.

The political correctness my anarchist pals and I wrote off in the late ’80s as an irritating passing fad on a par with Cabbage Patch Dolls has become, along with certain varieties of mental illness, enshrined in public policy and entrenched in quotidian intercourse.

It’s 1968 with (even) crappier music. I want it over.

Read the whole thing.

Apparently, the desire to pull down the pillars of the Temple and let the roof fall on those annoying holier-than-thou liberals is sufficient motivation to cause some people to depart from reality and to become ready to vote for the presidency of an unqualified clown whose only real area of agreement with genuine conservatives is a yen to give an upraised finger to political correctness. If you are sane, it’s not enough.

29 Jul 2016

The Non-Republican GOP Nominee


Jonathan Freedland, the New York Review of Books, in spite of, or perhaps because of, his obvious liberal bias, explains accurately how Donald Trump’s candidacy contradicts everything the Republican Party has traditionally stood for.

The GOP has long been the party of free trade; in 1993, Bill Clinton could only pass NAFTA with Republican votes. But now its nominee denounces such trade as a destroyer of American jobs, apparently seeing commerce as something the US should do to, rather than with, other countries. The result was the astonishing sight of a Republican presidential nominee, in his acceptance speech, bidding for the voters of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, “because,” as Trump put it, “we will fix his biggest issue, trade deals.” The issue was hardly debated in Cleveland, but the shift is remarkable all the same. Trump has refashioned the GOP as the party of protectionism, advocating an approach Republicans previously denounced as a threat to American prosperity.

Similarly, Republicans have for decades enjoyed an advantage on national security, obliging the Democrats to match them on strength and military commitment. Trump has broken from that too. He implies a rupture not only from the neocon, democracy-spreading policies associated with Bush the son, but also with the engaged internationalism of Bush the father. Trump is seemingly uninterested in America’s traditional status as sheet-anchor of the international system, central in a series of interlocking alliances that have maintained relative order and stability since 1945. Instead, he took time out from Cleveland to tell The New York Times he did not believe in the cardinal principle underpinning NATO—that an attack on one member is an attack on all—and that, as president, he would only defend one of the Baltic states from hypothetical Russian invasion if he deemed that state to have been paying its proper dues. Put aside the huge implications of such a shift for global security. Trump is turning his back on decades of Republican Party doctrine.

That’s true on the scale of government, too, with Trump implicitly advocating gargantuan powers for an imperial presidency: “I alone can fix this problem,” he says of crime, ISIS, immigration and much else. That’s quite a change for a party that has long regarded it as an article of faith that government is the problem and never the solution.

In his electoral strategy, Trump seems to be in tune with the old Republican playbook, the one written by Nixon and which used racially-tinged fears to win the White House by winning white votes. But in recent years, Republicans were meant to have seen the limitations of that strategy and at least to have gone through the motions of winning over non-white voters, especially Latinos. Trump has set that project into reverse, alienating if not infuriating Latino and other non-white Americans with his signature promise to build a wall with Mexico and by alleging that a US-born judge could not be impartial because of his Mexican heritage. He is apparently resting his hopes on expansion of the white electorate, chiefly by persuading blue-collar workers in rustbelt states to turn out for him in unprecedented numbers. …

In one area after another, Trump is upending the pillars of Republican wisdom. The old guard looked bewildered in Cleveland, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell coming out to boos rather than the respectful greeting he might have expected from a Republican flock welcoming one of its elders. Senators and congressmen were thin on the ground—many found their diaries booked with the politicians’ equivalent of washing their hair—but the ones that did appear were reduced to walk-on parts. As they spoke, usually in slots outside primetime, the hall remained noisy and only half-filled. The self-aware among them would have understood that in the new Republican hierarchy, they now fall below a 1990s soap actress-turned-avocado-grower named Kimberlin Brown—a real speaker on Tuesday night—and several notches lower than the new Republican elite: the children of Donald Trump. What took the Bushes and Clintons decades was achieved in Cleveland within days: the anointing of the Trump clan as a political dynasty.

Republicans alarmed at these developments are not quite sure what will be worse: for Trump to lose or for Trump to win. Some have persuaded themselves that a Trump victory is best for America, simply because Hillary Clinton must not be president. (One Utah delegate, anguished about Trump’s “rough edges,” told me he believed Clinton was “evil.”)

But others are terrified by the possibility of a Trump victory. If that happens, they fear, the upheaval of 2016 will become permanent: the Republican Party will be reshaped in Trump’s image. It will be protectionist, nativist, authoritarian, and the vehicle for an exclusively white rage.

Read the whole thing.

29 Jul 2016

WWII Jurassic Graphic

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An amusing effort to illustrate in an imaginative way the larger scale of WWII conflict on the Eastern Front.

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