Monday, March 19, 2007

"I really don't think these guys know what they are talking about." (Richard Feynman)

Joseph Goebbels, the famous Nazi propaganda minister said the following:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
We are all familiar with this quote. However, the chilling effect of Goebbels influence comes as one reads past the familiar. Goebbels continued:

The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. (Unknown primary source document)
That is what, I believe, the environmental movement has done with the whole global warming/climate change hysteria they are creating, and sadly, governments, as we see with the IPCC report just released, are colluding under the assumption that carbon dioxide is causing global warming (or as its now been called, climate change, just in case the temperature does go down, it can be blamed on anthropogenic sources as well.)

Looking closely at the IPCC report, we see that they consider it very likely that anthropogenic (human produced) carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing global warming. But there is a footnote to that very likely and looking at that we see it is the definition of "very likely." The report defines "very likely" as ">90% chance of occurance." Now that still leaves 10% chance that it won't occur, which means that there is a 10% chance that the experts are wrong and that their data has been contributed to chance.

What does all this mean? Well, as a student of the political science field, whenever their is a survey, they always quote those numbers at the bottoms of polls saying "+-4%, 95%" What they are saying is that they are 95% certain that the results can be within plus or minus of the number on the screen--the margin of error. So, as you hear the talking heads on TV state that it is a dead heat, that usually means that both candidates or issues are within the margin of error, so, either one could be leading. Well, the IPCC report leaves a 10% chance that they are wrong. Being that political science has to be held to the 95% confidence interval to taken seriously, why then are we basis major economic and policy change on a 90% confidence interval? This question bears acute examination since the hard sciences have always been held to a higher standard. The FDA would not allow a drug on the market that kills 1 person out of every 10 that takes it. They consider that too great a risk. They might allow 1 in 100 and probably 1 in 1000, since the chance of death is 1% and O.1%, respectively.

As Richard Feynman said when the TTAPS report came out about a nuclear war causing nuclear winter: "I really don't think these guys know what they are talking about." I echo the same sentiment towards the global warming scientists. Now, I conceed that Earth is warming, as is Mars and Jupiter. No man-made carbon dioxide there. That science is next.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"There's a swagger to their walk..."

I found a quote tonight doing some reading and is as true now as it was when it was written:
The kids who fly the lift, who guide the trucks, who run the control towers, are farm boys and lads from our city streets. There's a swagger to their walk, and they talk lightly of the risks they take. And if they carry a chip on their shoulders, who can blame them? For that chip is a bright thing called "democracy." They wear it well. (Thomas Parrish, Berlin in the Balance. Perseus, Reading: 1998)
This quote was talking about the tons of supplies that the Allies airlifted into Western Berlin after World War II and was, in my humble opinion, the origins of the Cold War from an American perspective. The blockade of Berlin by the Soviet Union wasn't an attempt by the USSR to have a "buffer zone" around their country it was a blatant attempt at world domination--beginning with Central Europe. A memory of Averell Harriman makes this salient point. Recalling his first meeting with Stalin at Potsdam, he says:
I went up to [Stalin] and I said, 'Marshall, this must be a great satisfaction to you after all the trials that you've been through and the tragedy that you've been through - to be here in Berlin.' He looked at me and said, 'Tsar Alexander got to Paris!'

Now, we do not know if Stalin was joking. The history bears out that he was not. He was very determined. His blockade of Berlin proves this. Stalin's goal was to break the Allied will and drive them out of Berlin, giving him a base of unimpeded power in Europe, including the industrial resources of the West. The West stopped Stalin and the airlift succeeded in breaking Stalin's will of the blockade, not the West's will of supply. The Airlift endeared the Berliners to the West, especially America, and proved once again that America was the beacon of hope for the world plunged into darkness and despair. We were, as Ronald Reagan so eloquently quoted years later "a city upon a hill."

Today we are faced with the same challenge as we were then. Although, the circumstances are different and the enemy more amorphous and shadowy--not sitting across a wall--we have inherited the privileged responsibility of hope. We don't fight an enemy that fits the definition of the "Westphalian nation-state" and they use that to their advantage. The enemy we fight is determined, as Stalin was, to rule by force and fear. For those that got in his way, those that threatened him, he either executed or sent to work camps--the slow death.

There have been many comparisons made that today we don't need to fight Iran, just contain them; however, the goal of containment in the Cold War was to keep the USSR, gasp!, contained. Today we do not have the luxury with Iran or the amorphous terrorist organizations wanting to see the West, and specifically, the United States fall. By simply letting Iran have nuclear weapons--they win-- and Iran's success would ignite a Middle Eastern arms race as Saudi Arabia has already stated if Iran gets nuclear weapons they would pursue them. That is not containment.

We need to continue leading as we have led since World War I. Our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen should be proud to have a swagger to their walk, they should know that their sacrifice, determination, and hard work is a chip to carry proudly. It is the chip of hope. As the Allies provided tons of supplies to blockaded Berliners, so today we spread hope and freedom around the world. Eventually this hope and freedom will lead the West to victory in the Global War on Terror as we have done so many times before. We are simply not supplying a city that Stalin is wanting to envelope, we are defending a tradition. This isn't good versus evil nor even West versus East. This is a battle for freedom. We must not give up, retreat, or quit. The stakes are too great, the cause too noble, and the alternatives too dire.

When Did America Become a Superpower?

I was asked that question the other day. The historical book answer that we all received in our high school history classes was that we became a superpower after World War II. I don’t believe this to be true, we became a superpower after World War I.

At the time we entered the war, in 1917, the Central Powers [German, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire] were winning the war [recent victory]. The Allies were essentially loosing. The trench lines might have been stable but morale was low. Our European allies had lost all will and desire to fight. It had been a long and hard three years and the troops were willing to quit. It was within that environment that we entered the war. The Doughboys had arrived and our young, eager force of two million men gave hope and inspiration to a continent at war. It wasn’t our numbers that eventually turned the ride, it was our hope that renewed the fight within the Allies and encouraged them to press on. The lines stabilized and the Central Powers seeing the writing on the wall—as the Allies had only a year earlier—sued for peace. The American spirit made the world safe once again. Our intervention in Europe ended the “war to end all wars.” [Percentage of American favored Germany at beginning of war.] But we left. We returned to the United States, secure behind our oceans and continued living the life of hope. But hope was once again lost in Europe.

Totalitarianism was on the rise, the world economy was in shambles, and Hitler was Chancellor and offering hope for the German people. There was neither the will or the desire to stand up to Hitler. In the United States, appeasement was easy. We trust Hitler, retreat behind our oceans, and fix our own affairs. The isolationists wanted to keep us out of “Europe’s problem.” The lone voice in the storm was Winston Churchill. He recognized that appeasement would do nothing but buy time for Hitler, yet he was powerless to do anything alone—except speak. By 1940, when Chamberlain’s appeasement policy clearly failed, Churchill was the hope the British people needed. He became Prime Minister. The war which American tried to avoid, eventually left us no choice, and on 7 December 1941, American was drawn into World War II. Fighting the war on three fronts, we truly carried the world. Over $7.5 billion in aid was given as a part of the Lend-Lease Act—most of which we did not receive repayment for.

After World War II we stayed in Europe. We stayed because learned our lesson from World War I. We stayed because we feared totalitarianisms take-over of our European allies. We stayed but with it we brought our influence. We brought the same hope that lifted Europe and willed them to fight in World War I, this time hope seeped over the Wall and eventually brought an end to the empire we united against to fight. Critics of America belittle it by saying we are an empire. It is true. America is an empire of hope and ideas. The very values embedded in our Declaration of Independence are the very values that we have spread around the world. We spread them on the battlefield of World War I, through the liberation of Europe in World War II, and through jazz music to the Soviet Union. The immigration debate demonstrates the value of America—our country gives people hope. People risk their lives to get into the United States all for the hope of having a better life than their current one. Our empire of hope has spread throughout the world.

And yet, again, freedom and hope are under attack. The forces of tyranny and totalitarianism want to see American destroyed. They want to watch us crumble and fall as the Twin Towers did on the clear, September morning. Yet, now is the time for American to stand, united against the forces of evil as we have so many times in the past. Now is not the time for division and seclusion, but is the time for unity and action. In the movie Spiderman, Uncle Ben tells Peter: “With great power comes great responsibility.” The United States is a great power. And we do hold a giant responsibility. We stand for the freedom-loving peoples of the world. Our Constitution was not drawn to weaken a monarch; our Constitution was drawn to empower--the people, who are the government. Our principles don’t allow us to kill to silence a political enemy; our principles allow our enemies to speak out. Our responsibility is to stand on our principles and ensure that others can do the same. By retreating now in the face of tyranny we retreat from all the good we’ve stood for, all the hope we’ve spread, and we extinguish the light that shines in the darkness and calls people to our borders.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Stop and Smell the Coffee

So, as I have long suspected, Starbuck's Chairman, Howard Schultz, is, in fact, a liberal's liberal. Who knew! How so, you say? Well, in articles in the WSJ (here), Starbuck's Chairman seems to lament the fact that the company has gotten away from its core. One patron laments that the stores are now "sterile" and "cookie-cutter." This is great! Schultz laments: "stores no longer have the soul of the past." What was that soul? Well, it was, as Schultz says: "romance and theater" and the fact that the baristas would make espresso by hand. In order to survive in the free-market they had to keep the supply up with the demand. Naturally that meant automation and drive-thru windows. This took away from Starbuck's "soul" it is claimed and now the Left is letting them hear about it. No wonder the tribute to Franz Kafka I saw at one store was fitting.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Chinese Going to the Moon?

In the recent months there has been much talk of the Chinese's ability and acheivment putting a total of three people into space. This has even allowed the paranoid to talk of "instability" and "balance of power" with the Chinese and even a "Chinese hegemon" overtaking the United States. It has also allowed those envious of the United States position in the world to gleefully speak of the United States' demise. While I admit, I do not know what will happen, I will venture out on a limb and say that China will not threaten the United States becaues their situation is so delicate. However, I do want to touch on the possiblility of China sending a manned mission to the moon by 2020.

I don't think they will make it. Let me explain:

The technological skill required to get into space is tremendous, yet the skill involved in going to the moon, I would say is probably tenfold. While all you really need is math, some pretty cool hardware, and a lot of stuff that goes "boom!", getting to the moon is actually more difficult than it seems. The science isn't hard. We can all calculate or have the computers calculate launch window, inclinations, transluner insertion, and lunar orbital insertion required to get a spacecraft in orbit around the moon. However, actually landing on it is where all the hardware and talent come in.

In the U.S. space program, all the early astronauts had to be graduates of test pilot school and have over 2,000 hours flight time. Plus they had to meet a myriad of other qualifications (read The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe) to find out more. Yet, this is the key--they were all test pilots. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were test pilots. They were used to the hair-pin, seat-of-your-pants flying knowing that at any moment disaster could strike, and with it, death. And it was something that they all found fun.

So, when Neil and Buzz were landing on the moon, Neil noticed that the predetermined landing site was rocky and unsuitable for landing. He took control and steered the craft to a safe landing on the moon, using the same seat-of-your-pants skills that he learned as a test pilot. He brought it down with 30 seconds of fuel left and Mission Control Houston breathed again. But this was the breed and the enginuity with which we went to the moon--because we could. We were not the originators of spaceflight but through our quality control were able to produce a product that worked successfully. The Russians could not.

The Chinese have a similar problem. They are good at copying things. Real good. Ask about the Buick copies made in China. But they have nothing original to offer nor no test pilot experience to fall back on. They might be able to design the machine, do the math, and get there people in an orbit around the moon, but I do not believe that they have the ability and the technical know-how nor the simple experience to but a Chinese on the moon. Their show of space power is simply to keep the U.S. guessing. We have to keep the Chinese and all out enemies on the defensive and not allow them any time to jeopardize our national security.