Saturday, November 21, 2015

Notes on Bernard Lewis' book, THE CRISIS OF ISLAM

Chapter three deals with the history of conflict between Islam and (mostly) European
powers from the time of the Crusades till the collapse of the Soviet Union. Why? To
show the importance, or lack of importance, of the Crusades and Western imperialism
 to the current “Crisis of Islam.”

Lewis notes that the Crusades don’t loom large in Arabic history and that “Awareness
of the Crusades as a distinctive historical phenomenon dates from the 19th century, and
the translation of EUROPEAN [my emphasis] books on history” (bottom, p. 50). Read
the rest of the paragraph (top, p.51) for the remainder of Lewis’ summary. Only in the
last two centuries have the Crusades have become a prototype of European imperialism.

Concerning this European imperialism, Lewis points out that it came in response to
centuries of Islamic expansion--an expansion that included the Christian holy lands,
North Africa, Spain, and Eastern Europe. It is instructive to remember that Islamic
(Ottoman) armies were besieging VIENNA as late as 1683! The crisis of Islam was
precipitated when Muslims began to lose, rather than win, the imperialist struggle (read
the first, and only, full paragraph on p. 52). Islam had no problem with imperialism
when they were the imperialists--only when infidels began to win (cf. the paragraph on
“apostasy” on p. 55). The crisis of Islam, in a few words, amounts to this: “Why are
the infidels winning? What can we do to stop them?” [My words, not a quote from

In the last few pages of chapter three Lewis shows how European imperialism--an
extension of the historical “counterpunches” to Islamic imperialism--has shaped policy in
the Middle East. These “countries”--largely creations of 20th century League of Nations
mandates--sought out patrons that were adversaries of their colonial masters. Thus, links
between Syria, Iraq, and Germany were established--to weaken the Brits. After WWII,
links with the Soviet Union were sought to offset American power in the region. After
the fall of the Soviet Union, no counterveiling power presented itself--a fact that
facilitated the rise of groups like Osama’s which claimed that they (Afghan rebels) were
responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Lewis denies that imperialism, per se, had devastating economic consequences--pointing
out, for example, ways in which countries with imperialist backgrounds are academically
and legally more advanced than countries (like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan) without
such imperialist histories. On the other hand, Lewis sees the “strengthening of state
authority” and its mechanisms for repression as an important negative aspect of the
“modernization” that accompanied European imperialism (p. 58).

Chapter eight concerns the origins of Wahhabism--the sect of Islam with which Osama
bin Laden is associated. Its violent, intolerant character (directed primarily against
Muslim rulers who are considered apostates) is reviewed in the first few pages of the
chapter (see the bottom of p. 122). The sect arose, in Lewis’ view, because the gradual
erosion of Islamic power had become obvious even at the geographical centers of
Muslim authority by the mid-18th century.

The chapter then explains how this sect became dominant in the regions where the house
of Saud gained power in the early 20th century. When oil wealth was added to the mix,
the result could be compared to an extensive KKK educational system funded by massive
oil revenues (p. 129).

As Western ideas and power are viewed as the source of the problems experienced by
Islamic countries, and as capitalist and communist solutions are seen as failures, “pure”
(i.e. Wahhabist) Islam, became an increasingly attractive social and political alternative
to reverse the crisis of Islam.

Chapter nine describes historical precedents of terrorism, emphasizing especially that
there is no basis in orthodox Islam for contemporary suicide terrorism. The intentional
killing of innocents was pioneered by nationalists but has been taken over by religious
extremists of the bin Laden stripe. The last few pages describe the views/demands of
radical Muslims vis a vis the United States--their view of 9/11, of American depravity
and political cowardice. Lewis concludes with a subdued plea for Western countries
to support the forces of liberalization that exist in Iran and Iraq--or to face a bleak
future. (In other words, he is asking Americans to show some backbone in Iraq and
not to conform to the image that bin Laden publicizes of a paper tiger with no courage
or staying power, p. 162).

All page numbers assume the paperback edition of Lewis’ book.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Review: “A DISGRACE TO THE PROFESSION”: The World’s Scientists – in their own words – on Michael E Mann, his Hockey Stick and their Damage to Science, compiled and edited by Mark Steyn

The final episode of Seinfeld involved a “Good Samaritan” court case that featured witness after witness testifying passionately about the moral misdemeanors perpetrated against them by the show’s protagonists: Elaine, George, Kramer, and Jerry. One segment simulated a TV newscast in which Geraldo’s onsite reporter summarized the testimony. The number of prosecution witnesses, she concluded, “just went on and on and on into the night.” That’s the feeling one gets reading the negative evidence Steyn has amassed in this work about the litigious climatologist and “hockey-stick” inventor, Michael Mann.

Steyn’s book is, in fact, a series of relatively short “testimony” segments by scores of “witnesses” to the shoddy science and shocking intimidation tactics employed by Mann and colleagues. The book also indicts various science publications and organizations for malpractice, especially the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—a bureaucracy headed till his resignation in 2015, following charges of sexual abuse, by Dr. Rajandra Pachauri, formerly “Indian Railways engineer at the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi.”

Steyn divides his work into 12 chapters which contain, in total, 120 testimony segments. Almost all focus on damning observations about Mann’s methods, conclusions, and harassment of dissenting scientists—many of whom are still in the anthropogenic global warming camp. Thus, the book isn’t a broadside against apocalyptic climate change per se but rather a barrage against Michael Mann, the inventor of global warming’s most effective propaganda icon—the “hockey stick” diagram of global temperature. (Note: The diagrammatic “hockey stick” is lying flat with only the blade projecting upward to represent an unprecedented temperature rise in the last century.)

To obtain this ominous shape that Al Gore and the IPCC seized upon with orgasmic enthusiasm, Mann obliterated two mainstays of traditional climate science: the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. In the opinion of many eminent scientists this feat was accomplished by employing dubious statistical analysis, by using and even manipulating scanty tree-ring evidence, and by tacking on actual thermometer readings for recent times to tree-ring proxy data that was largely employed to erase significant climate variations in the past. These methodological shenanigans resulted in the apocalyptic headline that summarized the Mann-dominated IPCC report of 2001, namely, that 1998 was “likely” the warmest year in the warmest decade in the warmest century of the past 1,000 years—a headline gobbled up by lazy and politically-motivated climate journalists. 

Probably 5% of Steyn’s extended “brief” against Mann, et al. consists of extended resumes of Mann’s critics—a procedure designed to show that scholars like MIT’s Richard Lindzen, NASA’s Roy Spencer, and renowned physicist Freeman Dyson are, indeed, expert witnesses and not the scientific JV team. Here’s a sample of those critiques: “The whole hockey-stick episode reminds me of the motto of Orwell’s Ministry of Information” (Dr. William Happer, Physics, Princeton); “The blade of the hockey-stick could not be reproduced using either the same techniques as Mann and Jones or other common statistical techniques” (Dr. David Legates, U. of Delaware, Climatologist); “The behavior of Michael Mann is a disgrace to the profession” (Dr. Henrick Tennekes, former Director of Research at the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute); “The work of Mann and his colleagues was initially accepted uncritically, even though it contradicted the results of more than 100 previous studies” (Dr. David Deming, Geophysicist, U. of Oklahoma); “That was a mistake and it made tree-ring people angry” (Dr. Gordon Jacoby, pioneer in dendrochronology); “Any scientist ought to know that you just can’t mix and match proxy and actual data… Yet that’s exactly what he did” (Dr. Philip Stott, Biogeography, U. of London). The damning critiques go on and on and on—in detail. The above comments are only chapter headings, and the individual resumes all include a large number of professional achievements. 

Another swath of Steyn’s evidence concerns the University of East Anglia Climate Research emails that were hacked into and published in 2009, resulting in the “Climategate” scandal. These communications give credence to the claim that there is or was a “Big Climate” mafia headed by Michael Mann—a group as eager to protect its fame and grant-producing turf as Michael Corleone was to defend his crime syndicate. Fortunately, Mann and company “only” employ stigma, blackballing, and control of peer-reviews to achieve their objectives. Two cases in point: In 2014 Dr. Judith Curry, former Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology observed that her “challenge to the [climate change] consensus has precluded any further professional recognition.” She also mentioned that she worries about younger scientists without tenure protection. That same year the 79-year-old distinguished professor Lennart Bengtsson was forced by “enormous group pressure” to resign “for the sake of [his] health and safety” from the advisory board of a think tank that promoted rational skepticism about global warming.

As a closing bonus, Steyn explains the origin of the “97% of all scientists” mantra that Mann and President Obama confidently throw around whenever the “settled science” of climate change is at issue. Short story shorter: 97% comes from a survey conducted for a thesis by a University of Illinois graduate student who, having received 3,146 responses to a two-question online questionnaire sent to 10,257 earth scientists, eventually identified 77 “experts” of which 75 (97%) were found to agree with the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis. There’s no word as yet on the identity and views of the other 10,180. 

One might ask why Steyn is so hell bent on exposing Michael Mann rather than broadly addressing the issue of climate change—and why he structures his book so that it reads like the sequential testimony of a hundred different witnesses, interspersed with witty Steyn asides? The answer is that Steyn, National Review, et al. are being sued for defamation by the aforementioned Dr. Mann. In other words, true to form, Mann is using intimidation to silence critics. Specifically, the legal case concerns a National Review blog post dated July 15, 2012, in which Steyn quotes aerospace engineer Rand Simberg’s negative comments about the Penn State hockey-stick inventor, including the remark that Mann has become “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science.” Steyn proceeds in a mere 147 words to distance himself somewhat from Simberg’s metaphor, to identify Mann as “the man behind the fraudulent ‘hockey-stick’ graph,” and to note that the same college President who “declined to find one of its star names [Paterno] guilty of any wrongdoing” and who was forced to resign over the Sandusky scandal also oversaw the exculpatory investigation of Mann after the “Climategate” emails were made public.

The fact that this speech-suppressing defamation suit in the D.C. courts has been going on for years without media outrage clearly shows that Steyn's derogatory book title applies to American journalists and courts as much as to the now-greatly-diminished Penn State climatologist.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Adios America: Review of Coulter's New Book

Goodbye to the prosperous country founded by overwhelmingly Protestant colonists in the 18th century. Hello to the third-world multicultural mélange with a distinctly Mexican accent, appalling cultural norms, and a clearly leftist political orientation. Such is the vision of the United States given by no-holds-barred pundit Ann Coulter in her latest book, Adios, America: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole.

Coulter’s subtitle summarizes her basic thesis—that America’s immigration policies since the decisive Edward Kennedy bill in 1965 have altered our demographic makeup so radically that the nation will be unalterably degraded if immediate changes aren’t made to our legal and illegal immigration practices. Kennedy’s legislation, despite passionate assurances to the contrary, (Coulter: “If you like your country’s ethnic composition, you can keep it.”) soon became the vehicle for fundamentally transforming America’s immigrant population from largely European to overwhelmingly Third World in origin.

Indeed, Coulter observes in her heavily annotated work that about 50 million Mexicans, more than a quarter of that nation’s population, has already migrated, either legally and illegally, to America—a figure derived by employing data other than census forms that folks unlawfully in the country clearly don’t complete at the postulated 90% rate. Overall, thanks to family reunification policies and notoriously lax enforcement of sanctuary laws, “since 1970, nearly 90 percent of all legal immigrants have been from the Third World.” Accordingly, the country now accepts “more immigrants from Nigeria than we do from Britain” and “in just a few decades, Minnesota has gone from being 99 percent German, Dutch, Finnish, Danish, and Polish to 20 percent African immigrant—including at least one hundred thousand Somalis.”

The devastating consequences of accepting millions of immigrants from cultural backwaters are evident in crime statistics—stats that Coulter says are incredibly hard to secure since it’s now deemed racist to ask how many incarcerated folks are foreign born. Despite the virtual blackout on such data, it’s clear that immigrants (legal and illegal) constitute a disproportionate percentage of the nation’s prison population. “The U.S. government admits that at least 351,000 criminal immigrants were incarcerated in the United States as of 2011.”  The “at least” in that sentence should be emphasized in view of the importance government officials place on “not” tracking such politically explosive information.

Many of these criminals, Coulter observes with biting irony, are committing crimes that Americans just won’t do. Adios America is replete with atrocities that most news outlets won’t specifically attribute to immigrants. Instead a “man” or “residents” are to blame for gruesome crimes—child molestations, gang rapes, sex-trafficking, et cetera. Consider, for example, a 1998 New York Times story in which the journalist employs a remarkable number of misleading terms in his report on a vicious gang-rape in Fresno, California (“working class city…men and boys…24-year-old man…teen-ager…five adults…seven juveniles) all the while avoiding specifically identifying both the perpetrators and victims of these crimes as Hmong immigrants. To further confuse readers, the reporter throws into his story an inapt comparison to a decade-old fraternity sexual assault of a mentally disabled girl in New Jersey and an irrelevant reference to a white supremacist gang in Fresno. Coulter adds that “over the next year, about three dozen Hmong men were indicted for a series of gang rapes and forced prostitution of young girls in the Fresno area.”  

The truth that PC journalists are loath to admit is that Third World attitudes toward women are generally abysmal when compared with the United States. Thus, the fact that young Hispanic girls in the U.S. are seven times more likely than their white counterparts to give birth between the ages of ten and fourteen is perfectly consistent with Mexican law where “in thirty-one of thirty-two states… the age of consent for sex is twelve.” The lone exception is Mexico State where the legal age is fourteen. Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising that Hispanics have the highest unmarried birthrate in the U.S., “even higher than American blacks,” a fact that “accounts for a raft of social problems…that will never be identified as the consequence of mass immigration.” It’s also important to note that in the Third World a child’s (or even a woman’s) “consent” is a very malleable concept.

For Coulter one of the most egregious aspects of American immigration jurisprudence is the notion that any baby born in America, regardless of the mother’s legal status, automatically becomes an American citizen. That baby then becomes an “anchor” used to bring the rest of the family to America. Coulter argues that this reading of the Fourteenth Amendment was “cooked up by Justice William Brennan in 1982” and has given rise to a flood of planned births in the U.S. by illegal immigrants. In Stockton, California, for example, “70 percent of the 2,300 babies born” in 2003 at that city’s “San Joaquin General Hospital’s maternity ward were anchor babies.” Coulter adds to that statistic one more fact: “By 2013, Stockton was bankrupt.”

The policy of bestowing American citizenship on the progeny of individuals who purposely break U.S. immigration laws is so crazy that even Nevada Senator Harry Reid blasted it in 1993: “If making it easy to be an illegal alien isn’t enough, how about offering a reward for being an illegal immigrant? No sane country would do that, right?” But soon afterward, Coulter notes, “Democrats discovered that parents of anchor babies were voting for them! Suddenly Senator Reid decided it wasn’t insane to give citizenship to children born to illegals…. To the contrary, it was racist not to do so.”

According to Coulter, another journalistic con-job foisted on the American people involves polls about illegal immigration. These surveys typically require respondents to choose between two unreal alternatives: 1) rounding up and deporting all illegal immigrants or 2) granting these same folks a “pathway to citizenship” based on a long list of conditions—paying fines and back taxes, learning English, taking citizenship classes, no access to welfare, et cetera. The first alternative omits the option of self-deportation, a choice that would become much more likely if an E-verify system that checks an employee’s social security card were made mandatory for most employers. The second alternative involves preconditions that are never actually imposed on illegal immigrants. Another possible response omitted from most polls would be letting illegal immigrants remain “in the shadows”—an option most illegals obviously favor over returning to places like Guadalajara.

Coulter’s book also sheds light on the role played by one of the world’s richest men in America’s immigration debate. That man, Carlos Slim Helu, is a Mexican citizen “whose fortune depends on tens of millions of Mexicans living in the United States, preferably illegally” and sending billions of dollars back to relatives in Mexico. Coulter’s expose focuses primarily on the fact that in 2008 this shady financier “saved the New York Times from bankruptcy.” Following Slim’s quarter-billion dollar loan, the Times became increasingly strident on the issue of illegal immigration. In pre-bailout 2004, for example, a Times article described the nation’s southern border as under siege.” Ten years later, when Latin Americans were more egregiously “pouring across the border, the Times indignantly demanded that Obama ‘go big’ on immigration and give ‘millions of immigrants permission to stay.’ What a difference,” Coulter observes, “one thieving Mexican billionaire makes!”

While accepting millions of Third World immigrants is clearly, on Coulter’s evidence, bad for America, “it’s fantastic for Democrats” as well as for businesses that profit from this vast source of low-wage labor. Wealthy folks seeking cheap maids and nannies also have an interest in maintaining a ready supply of uneducated domestic workers who can be paid off the books and further supported by taxpayers. Incredibly, Coulter informs us that until 1970 immigrants to America actually “made more money, bought more houses, and were more educated” than native-born Americans. That was before Edward Kennedy’s lasting gift to the Democrat Party fully opened the Third World spigot.   
Coulter’s advice to America and to largely oblivious GOP Presidential contenders is to “just shut it down. No more family reunification, no more scam marriages, no more refugees, no more phony asylum cases (which is all of them), and no more ‘high-tech workers’ providing slave labor to Microsoft.” A fence on the southern border, an end to “anchor baby” status, and “a timeout on endless immigration from the Third World” are required if America is itself to avoid becoming “a Third World republic that will never elect another Republican—in other words, ‘California.’”

Adios America is full of anecdotes and will doubtless be dismissed as merely anecdotal by folks who profit from our current immigration system or who mindlessly repeat the bogus mantra, “Diversity is our strength.” (Consider the effects of “diversity” in the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East, and Rwanda.) In truth, however, Coulter’s book contains a raft of important statistics as well as a number of compelling arguments that should give pause to anyone willing to scrutinize the effects of America’s legal and illegal immigration policies over the last five decades.