Years of Living Dangerously

Continuing review of William Shirer’s Berlin Diary

This is the 80th anniversary of the official start of World War 2. There had been extensive warfare prior to this, but Germany’s invasion of Poland on the night of 31 August – 1 September 1939 marked the commencement of full scale war.

William Shirer’s book recounts his experiences and observations from close up during the years prior to the war and concluding when Adolf Hitler’s government expelled him in 1940. Prior installments  recount the story, using extensive excerpts from the book. The previous installment concludes on 30 September 1938, 11 months before the start of the war. This will cover events from that date up to 1 September 1939.

The Allied powers decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia to forestall another European war.

MUNICH, September 30

It’s all over. At twelve thirty this morning— thirty minutes after midnight— Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain, and Daladier signed a pact turning over Sudetenland to Germany. The German occupation begins tomorrow, Saturday, October 1, and will be completed by October 10. Thus the two “democracies” even assent to letting Hitler get by with his Sportpalast boast that he would get his Sudetenland by October 1. He gets everything he wanted, except that he has to wait a few days longer for all of it. His waiting ten short days has saved the peace of Europe— a curious commentary on this sick, decadent continent.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 144). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Shirer confers with fellow corespondent Edward. R. Murrow. They agree the situation is grim.

PARIS, October 8

Ed Murrow as gloomy as I am. We try to get it out of our systems by talking all night and popping champagne bottles and tramping the streets, but it will take more time, I guess. We agree on these things: that war is now more probable than ever, that it is likely to come after the next harvest, that Poland is obviously next on Hitler’s list (the blind stupidity of the Poles in this crisis, helping to carve up Czechoslovakia!), that we must get Warsaw to rig up a more powerful short-wave transmitter if they want the world to hear their side, and that we ought to build up a staff of American radio reporters. But honestly we have little head for business.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (pp. 150-151). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Shirer assesses the mood of the Poles.

WARSAW, November 11

The Poles a delightful, utterly romantic people, and I have had much good food and drink and music with them. But they are horribly unrealistic. In their trust of Hitler, for instance. Polskie Radio promises to get along with their new short-wave transmitter. I explained to them our experience with the Czechs.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 153). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Hitler’s friend and inspiration, Benito Mussolini, is enjoying the prospects. He is almost mocking the British statesmen.

ROME, January 11, 1939

Chamberlain and Halifax arrived today to appease the Duce. At the station Chamberlain, looking more birdlike and vain than when I last saw him at Munich, walked, umbrella in hand, up and down the platform nodding to a motley crowd of British local residents whom Mussolini had slyly invited to greet him. Mussolini and Ciano, in black Fascist uniforms, sauntered along behind the two ridiculous-looking Englishmen, Musso displaying a fine smirk on his face the whole time.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 156). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The fallout from the unfolding events begins.

GENEVA, March 14

The radio reports Slovakia has declared its “independence.” There goes the remains of Czechoslovakia.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 159). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The dominoes continue to fall, and the British PM’s reaction is characteristic and appalling.

PARIS, March 15

The German army has occupied Bohemia and Moravia on this blizzardy day of spring, and Hitler in a cheap theatrical gesture from the Hradshin castle above the Moldau in Prague has proclaimed their annexation to the Third Reich. It is almost banal to record his breaking another solemn treaty. But since I was personally present at Munich, I cannot help recalling how Chamberlain said it not only had saved the peace but had really saved Czechoslovakia.

Complete apathy in Paris tonight about Hitler’s latest coup. France will not move a finger.

Ed Murrow telephones that the reaction in London is the same— that Chamberlain in Commons this afternoon even went so far as to say that he refused to associate himself with any charges of a breach of faith by Hitler. Good God!

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 160). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

A few days later a prelude to World War Two runs its final course.

GENEVA, March 29

Madrid surrendered yesterday, the rest of republican Spain today. There are no words to express what I feel tonight. Franco’s butchery will be terrible.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 162). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Matters begin to solidify in Great Britain. In observance of Hitler’s intransigence and double dealing, the British parliament finally draw a line in the sand.

BERLIN, April 1

Chamberlain, who in the House yesterday enunciated at last a complete change in British foreign policy and announced that Britain would go to the aid of Poland if Polish independence were threatened. Off to Warsaw tomorrow to see when the German attack is expected.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 163). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Shirer assesses the resolve of the Poles.

WARSAW, April 6

Beck [the Polish Foreign Minister], who committed this country to a pro-Nazi, anti-French policy for so many years, has been in London and tonight we have an Anglo-Polish communiqué announcing that the two countries will sign a permanent agreement providing for mutual assistance in case of an attack on either of them by a third power. I think this will halt Hitler for the time being, since force is something he understands and respects and there is no doubt in my mind after a week here that the Poles will fight and that if Britain and France fight too, he is in a hole.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 163). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

As the year progresses the situation develops treacherously.

BERLIN, April 7

When the Orient Express pulled into the Schlesischer Bahnhof here this evening, the first thing I saw was Huss’s face on the platform and I knew there was bad news. He said London had phoned to get me off the train as the British had reports of German troop movements on the Polish frontier. I had watched for these as we came across the border, but saw

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 165). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

At this time the American government sought assurances that Hitler had no additional plans against neighboring countries. Hitler’s response was caustic and classic. He turned the challenge around.

BERLIN, April 28

Hitler in the Reichstag today denounced a couple more treaties (I could hardly repress a chuckle at this part of his speech) and answered Roosevelt’s plea that he give assurance that he will not attack the rest of the independent nations of Europe. His answer to the President rather shrewd, I think, in that it was designed to play on the sympathies of the appeasers and anti-New-Dealers at home and the former in Britain and France.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (pp. 165-166). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Here is an excerpt from his speech of that date:

Or is Mr. Roosevelt in a position, with the enormous amount of work which he must have to do in his own country, to recognize of his own accord all the inmost thoughts and feelings of other peoples and their governments?

Finally, Mr. Roosevelt asks that assurances be given him that the German armed forces will not attack, and above all, not invade, the territory or possessions of the following independent nations. He then names as those to which he refers: Finland, Lithuania, Latvia,’ Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain , Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iraq, the Arabias, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iran.

Answers I have first taken the trouble to ascertain from the states mentioned, firstly, whether they feel themselves threatened, and, what is most important, secondly, whether this inquiry by the American President was addressed to us at their suggestion or at least with their consent.

The reply was in all cases negative, in some instances strongly so. It is true that there were certain ones among the states and nations mentioned, whom I could not question because they themselves – as for example, Syria – are at present not in possession of their freedom, but are under occupation by the military agents of democratic states and consequently deprived of their rights.

There is a video of this. We see his words dripping in sarcasm as he tics off the list of countries.

At the time Shirer was unsure how this would eventually play out. In the end he turned out to be wrong. Still 28 April 1939.

Still much doubt here among the informed whether Hitler has made up his mind to begin a world war for the sake of Danzig. My guess is he hopes to get it by the Munich method.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 167). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

During the summer Shirer returned to the United States for a visit. His narrative assesses the mood of the American people.

WASHINGTON, July 3

Hope I can stay a little while in my native land. It takes some getting used to again after being almost continuously away since the age of twenty-one. Little awareness here or in New York of the European crisis, and Tess says I’m making myself most unpopular by taking such a pessimistic view. The trouble is everyone here knows all the answers. They know there will be no war. I wish I knew it. But I think there will be war unless Germany backs down, and I’m not certain at all she will, though of course it’s a possibility. Congress here in a hopeless muddle.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (pp. 167-168). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The experience of the previous world war demonstrated Germany’s weak position regarding war materials. Those conditions persisted in 1939.

GENEVA, July 28

[Marcel W. “Mike”] Fodor and [John] Gunther dropped in tonight and we argued and talked most of the night through. John fairly optimistic about peace. Fodor, a trained engineer himself, had a lot of material about Germany’s lack of iron. You can’t store much iron ore, Fodor says.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 170). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

In August, days before Armageddon, events begin to take a dramatic turn. Doubts start to vanish.

BERLIN, August 10

How completely isolated a world the German people live in. A glance at the newspapers yesterday and today reminds you of it. Whereas all the rest of the world considers that the peace is about to be broken by Germany, that it is Germany that is threatening to attack Poland over Danzig, here in Germany, in the world the local newspapers create, the very reverse is being maintained. (Not that it surprises me, but when you are away for a while, you forget.) What the Nazi papers are proclaiming is this: that it is Poland which is disturbing the peace of Europe; Poland which is threatening Germany with armed invasion, and so forth. This is the Germany of last September when the steam was turned on Czechoslovakia.

“POLAND? LOOK OUT!” warns the B.Z. headline, adding: “ANSWER TO POLAND, THE RUNNER-AMOK (AMOKLÄUFER) AGAINST PEACE AND RIGHT IN EUROPE!”

Or the headline in Der Führer, daily paper of Karlsruhe, which I bought on the train: “WARSAW THREATENS BOMBARDMENT OF DANZIG— UNBELIEVABLE AGITATION OF THE POLISH ARCH-MADNESS (POLNISCHEN GRÖSSENWAHNS)!”

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (pp. 172-173). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Here is Shirer’s expanded analysis of the situation on the same day. He includes a personal perspective of German women.

But so far the press limits itself to Danzig. Will the Germans keep their real designs under cover until later? Any fool knows they don’t give a damn about Danzig. It’s just a pretext. The Nazi position, freely admitted in party circles, is that Germany cannot afford to have a strong military power on her eastern frontier, that therefore Poland as it is today must be liquidated, not only Danzig, which is Poland’s life-line, taken, but also the Corridor, Posen, and Upper Silesia. And Poland left a rump state, a vassal of Germany. Then when Hungary and Rumania and Yugoslavia have been similarly reduced (Hungary practically is already), Germany will be economically and agriculturally independent, and the great fear of Anglo-French blockade, which won the last war and at the moment probably could win the next, will be done away with. Germany can then turn on the West and probably beat her.

Struck by the ugliness of the German women on the streets and in restaurants and cafés. As a race they are certainly the least attractive in Europe. They have no ankles. They walk badly. They dress worse than English women used to. Off to Danzig tonight.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 173). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Hours tick away as the horror of war approaches. Shirer pens an appraisal of Poland’s situation.

IN A WAGONLIT, GDYNIA– WARSAW, August 13, midnight

The Poles, with French backing, have done a magnificent job. Fifteen years ago, Gdynia was a sleepy fishing village of 400 souls. Today it’s the largest port in the Baltic, with a population of over 100,000. Lacking natural facilities, the Poles have simply pushed piers out into the sea. The city itself looks like a mushroom growth, much like some of our Western towns thirty-five years ago. It is one of the promises of Poland.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (pp. 176-177). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

There has indeed been progress in Poland, but it was too little and too late. Clearly Poland was no match for the German Wehrmacht. Reports come in of rising tensions.

WARSAW, August 16

Much excitement in official Polish circles today. Conferences between Smigly-Rydz, Beck, and the generals. A Polish soldier has been shot on the Danzig frontier. Result: an order tonight instructing Polish troops to shoot anyone crossing the Danzig border on sight and without challenge.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 177). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Another assessment.

WARSAW, August 20

I think the Poles will fight. I know I said that, wrongly, about the Czechs a year ago. But I say it again about the Poles.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 178). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

It turned out Shirer was correct in this assessment. The Poles’ refusal to knuckle under once attacked led to the inevitable raging conflict.

Let me know if you see some similarities to our situation today. What happens when you cross personalities with thin-skinned power?

BERLIN, August 23

Hans Kaltenborn, our star foreign-news commentator, was turned back by the secret police when he arrived at Tempelhof from London this afternoon. We have been nicely double-crossed by the Nazis.

“May I ask why?” Hans said, boiling inside but cool outside, though beads of sweat bubbled out on his forehead. The officer had a ready answer. Looking in his notebook, he said with tremendous seriousness: “Herr Kaltenborn, on such and such a date in Oklahoma City you made a speech insulting the Führer.”

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 179). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The same day. The pact between Hitler and Stalin was critical. Hitler dared not attack Poland without the collusion of the Soviet Union. A deal was struck to divide the conquered country between the two dictatorships. Again the same day:

LATER (Four hours after midnight).— Great excitement at the Taverne tonight. About two a.m. we get the terms of the Russian-German pact. It goes much further than anyone dreamed. It’s a virtual alliance and Stalin, the supposed arch-enemy of Nazism and aggression, by its terms invites Germany to go in and clean up Poland. The friends of the Bolos are consternated. Several German editors— Halfeld, Kriegk, Silex— who only day before yesterday were writing hysterically about the Bolo peril, now come in, order champagne, and reveal themselves as old friends of the Soviets! That Stalin would play such crude power politics and also play into the hands of the Nazis overwhelms the rest of us.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 180). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The Nazi propaganda machine ramps up, preparing to counter the inevitable.

BERLIN, August 26

program. Some choice headlines in the German press today: The B.Z.: “COMPLETE CHAOS IN POLAND— GERMAN FAMILIES FLEE— POLISH SOLDIERS PUSH TO EDGE OF GERMAN BORDER!” The 12-Uhr Blatt: “THIS PLAYING WITH FIRE GOING TOO FAR— THREE GERMAN PASSENGER PLANES SHOT AT BY POLES— IN CORRIDOR MANY GERMAN FARMHOUSES IN FLAMES!”

“WHOLE OF POLAND IN WAR FEVER! 1,500,000 MEN MOBILIZED! UNINTERRUPTED TROOP TRANSPORT TOWARD THE FRONTIER! CHAOS IN UPPER SILESIA!”

No mention of any German mobilization, of course, though the Germans have been mobilized for a fortnight.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (pp. 185 – 186). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Like an ocean wave, the specter of war advances without remorse.

BERLIN, August 27

(Sunday) Hot and sultry today, which makes for an increase in tension. Henderson failed to return today as expected, causing the Wilhelmstrasse to accuse the British of stalling. (In another fortnight the rains start in Poland, making the roads impassable.) Some Nazis, however, think Henderson’s delay in London means the British are giving in. Tomorrow’s Völkische Beobachter will ask the people to be patient: “The Führer is still demanding patience from you because he wants to exhaust even the last possibilities for a peaceful solution of the crisis. That means a bloodless fulfilment of the irreducible German demands.” This is a nice build-up to convince the people that if war does come, the Führer did everything possible to avoid it. The V.B. ends by saying that Germany, however, will not renounce her demands. “The individual, as well as the nation, can renounce only those things which are not vital.” There you have German character stripped to the bone. A German cannot renounce vital things, but he expects the other fellow to.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 186). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

There is a harbinger of things to come, echos from the war 20 years ago. The same day.

Food rations were fixed today and I heard many Germans grumbling at their size. Some: meat, 700 grams per week; sugar, 280 grams; marmalade, 110 grams; coffee or substitute, one eighth of a pound per week. As to soap, 125 grams are allotted to each person for the next four weeks.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 187). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

There can no longer be any doubt. War is coming.

BERLIN, August 28

Troops, east-bound, pouring through the streets today. No crack units these. They were being transported in moving-vans, grocery trucks, et cetera. Germany has assured Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, and Switzerland that it will respect their neutrality in case of war.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 189). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The countdown continues.

BERLIN, August 30

The British reply to Hitler’s latest came bouncing back to Berlin tonight. With what result, we don’t know. Henderson has seen Ribbentrop again, but no news of it. Tonight may well be decisive. DNB [the German news agency] has announced it will be issuing news all night tonight. This sounds ominous. The Wilhelmstrasse took pains this evening to point out to us that the non-aggression pact with Russia is also a consultative pact and that this part of it had been put into operation the last few days. This puzzles me, but I said in my broadcast tonight: “That would seem to mean— and, indeed, informed circles in the Wilhelmstrasse leave no doubt about it— that the Germans and Soviets also have been doing some talking the last few days, and, as one writer says tonight, ‘talking about Poland.’ In this connection the German press tonight does not omit to mention a dispatch from Moscow to the effect that not only has Russia not withdrawn her three hundred thousand men from its western frontier, as reported, but on the contrary has strengthened her forces there— that is, on the Polish border. I don’t know the significance of that. I only know that it’s given some prominence here.”

LATER.— Poles ordered general mobilization at two thirty p.m. today. It isn’t terribly important, because Poland has already mobilized about as many men as it has guns and shoes for. But the story gives the German press an excuse to hail Poland as the aggressor. (Germany has mobilized too, though not formally.) Since Hitler now has publicly demanded the return of Danzig and the Corridor, the German people ought to know who the aggressor is liable to be. But they are swallowing Dr. Goebbels’s pills, I fear. At midnight Hitler announces formation of a War Cabinet— to be called a Ministerial Council for the Defence of the Reich. Göring to preside; other members are Frick, Funk, Lammers, and General Keitel.

The sands are running fast tonight.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (pp. 190-191). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The ax falls on the lives of millions of people.

BERLIN, August 31

(morning) Everybody against the war. People talking openly. How can a country go into a major war with a population so dead against it? People also kicking about being kept in the dark. A German said to me last night: “We know nothing. Why don’t they tell us what’s up?” Optimism in official circles melting away this morning, I thought. Huss thinks Hitler may have one great card left, an agreement with Stalin to attack the Poles in the back. I highly doubt it, but after the Russo-German pact anything is possible. Some think the Big Boy is trying to get off the limb now— but how?

LATER.— Broadcast at seven forty-five p.m. Said: “The situation tonight is very critical. Hitler has not yet answered the British note of last night…. An answer may not be necessary…. The new Defence Council sat all day. The Wilhelmstrasse has been seething with activity…. There has been no contact between the German and British governments. Instead… between Russia and Germany. Berlin expects the Soviets to ratify the Russo-German pact this evening…. The British Ambassador did not visit the Wilhelmstrasse. He had a talk with his French colleague, M. Coulondre. Then he saw the Polish Ambassador, M. Lipski. Bags at these three embassies are all packed….”

LATER. Three thirty a.m.— A typical Hitler swindle was sprung this evening. At nine p.m. the German radio stopped its ordinary program and broadcast the terms of German “proposals” to Poland. I was taken aback by their reasonableness, and having to translate them for our American listeners immediately, as we were on the air, I missed the catch. This is that Hitler demanded that a Polish plenipotentiary be sent to Berlin to “discuss” them by last night, though they were only given to Henderson the night before. 7 An official German statement (very neat) complains that the Poles would not even come to Berlin to discuss them. Obviously, they didn’t have time. And why should Hitler set a time limit to a sovereign power? The “proposals”— obviously never meant seriously— read like sweet reason, almost. They contain sixteen points, but the essential ones are four: (1) Return of Danzig to Germany. (2) A plebiscite to determine who shall have the Corridor. (3) An exchange of minority populations. (4) Gdynia to remain Polish even if the Corridor votes to return to Germany.

Tonight the great armies, navies, and air forces are all mobilized. Each country is shut off from the other. We have not been able today to get through to Paris or London, or of course to Warsaw, though I did talk to Tess in Geneva. At that, no precipitate action is expected tonight. Berlin is quite normal in appearance this evening. There has been no evacuation of the women and children, not even any sandbagging of the windows. We’ll have to wait through still another night, it appears, before we know. And so to bed, almost at dawn.

BERLIN, September 1

At six a.m. Sigrid Schultz— bless her heart— phoned. She said: “It’s happened.” I was very sleepy— my body and mind numbed, paralysed. I mumbled: “Thanks, Sigrid,” and tumbled out of bed.

The war is on!

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (pp. 191-194). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The remainder of the book recounts events up to a few weeks prior to the American entry into the war.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a Continuing Series

Oscar Brown was concerned and grimly serious as he drove up to the home of Ted Nichols, whose farm was adjacent to his. He got out of his pickup truck and walked to the door and knocked.

Jimmy, nine years old, answered.

“I want to speak to your father,” Oscar told the boy.

“He isn’t hear, Mr. Brown,” Jimmy told him. “He’s gone into town..”

“Then let me talk to your brother Howard.”

“He went into the town with Pa. What do you want to talk to them about?”

“I want to talk to your father about Howard getting my daughter pregnant.”

Jimmy thought for a moment, then he responded. “Well, Pa charges $100 for the bull, and $75 for the boar hog. I don’t know how much he charges for Howard.”

Breathtaking Inanity

Number 19 of a continuing series

These things are losing any glamour they may have once had. What was once novel and shocking is becoming mundane. It’s like grass growing. Here is another:

Newt Gingrich <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com
Aug 30 at 12:57 PM

John,

Democrats are out of control.

Their entire party has thrown its moral compass out the window to follow socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders down a path of lies and destruction.

The radical left has shown they are willing to say or do ANYTHING it takes to try to take down President Trump, even if it means lying to the American people.

It’s no surprise that the FAKE NEWS media is predicting a Democrat win in 2020 just like they did in 2016. We proved the haters and doubters wrong once, now it’s time to do it again.

The first thing I notice is this is from New Gingrich. I’m not sure I ever received one of these from Newt Gingrich. Maybe I have. Anyhow, that’s only a curiosity. The second thing I noticed is he didn’t call me Bob. That is gratifying. I take what I can get. The rest is mostly breathtaking inanity. Some analysis is in store.

First off, do not in your wildest dreams believe New Gingrich put his fingers to a keyboard and sent me an email. This was surely composed by a competent staffer, well versed on the party playbook. Take a few pieces at a time.

Democrats are out of control. You telling me something I don’t already know. Hey! I work with these guys, and they have a patent on out of control. They do have some catching up to do.

Sorry about that. I was looking for “out of control,” and I pulled the handle too hard.

Their entire party has thrown its moral compass out the window…

Oops!

Again, oops!

The radical left has shown they are willing to say or do ANYTHING it takes to try to take down President Trump, even if it means lying to the American people.

I think I need to stop right here. I am having more fun than the law allows. Please write again soon, Newt. This was breathtaking.

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 179, unfortunately

This is a continuation of my posts from “A few of the reasons people fired their guns in December, 2018.” Here is number 9:

The employees at Taco Bell forgot to put hot sauce in my drive-through order, so I shot up the place. (OK, 12/31/18)

Confrontation over taco sauce leads to shooting at SW Oklahoma City Taco Bell

OKLAHOMA CITY – Police are searching for a man who fired several shots through a Taco Bell drive-thru window when he didn’t get the taco sauce he wanted.

It happened around 1:30 a.m. Monday at the Taco Bell near S.W. 59th and South Penn. When officers got to the scene of a shooting at that location, they learned what lead up to the bizarre ordeal.

Remind me again that “an armed society is a polite society!”

Breathtaking Inanity

Number 18 of a continuing series

Truth be told, I cease to be amazed.

Donald Trump Jr. <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com
Aug 26 at 11:12 AM

John,

The Liberal Mob and Fake News media are absolutely unhinged. They’re spewing LIES and slandering President Trump’s administration every chance they get in the hopes of dividing our Nation.

“Spreading lies.” Whoa! That is unhinged. “Dividing our nation.” That’s going too far. Will nobody rid us of this Liberal Mob? See what they have done?

Don Jr., I am glad you love it, because you said it. You might want to think about quitting before you get in deeper than you already are.

Abusing Science

Number 34 of a series

I previously reviewed this book. It’s a compendium of essays arguing against the science behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW). A particular refrain runs through the narrative:

They regard the shift in emphasis to have stemmed from a change in science funding towards reliance on governments with the political baggage this brings.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

She estimates money dedicated to promoting the global warming scare is maybe one hundred fold the funding to sceptics. She shows how the purveyors of human induced global warming use their funding to denigrate opponents and to hide contrary evidence.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

The theory of human-induced global warming is not science because research is based on a pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored, and the analytical procedures are treated as evidence. Furthermore, climate ‘science’ is sustained by government research grants. Funds are not available to investigate theories that are not in accord with government ideology.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

Governments and their agencies claim that science supports their ideology, but while research grants are given to support this ideology, naysayers are denied grants, ignored, or—more commonly—pilloried. This doesn’t happen in many other branches of science, where competing theories are supported with research funds, ideas are energetically discussed, and theories are changed based on new validated evidence.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

The US alone spends $7 billion each year on ‘warming studies’ which, in truth, is nothing but a huge money laundering operation, since no real science is conducted. Vapid alarmist reports are the only product generated.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

It is noteworthy that Kuhn first wrote his manuscript in the late 1940s, which was prior to the completion of the large-scale transition of science to essentially a publicly-funded enterprise. Consequently, he does not explore how the need to keep public funds flowing through academia probably made paradigms more ‘sticky’ than they already are.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

By now you have noticed the common theme. In the book are 45 references to “funds,” “funding,” etc. Scientists who reinforce the concept of AGW receive grant money for additional research. Contrary research is starved for money. It’s a theme I also hear from the creationists. Scientist get funding for research that supports biological evolution by natural processes, while research into supernatural (religious) causes is denied critical funding and is also denied access to major centers for academic research. It’s the underdog argument.

Some underdog:

[David] Koch was a libertarian. He was the 1980 Libertarian candidate for Vice President of the United States and helped finance the campaign. He founded Citizens for a Sound Economy. He donated to political advocacy groups and to political campaigns, almost entirely Republican.He moved to the Republican Party in 1984; in 2012 he spent over $100 million to oppose the re-election of President Barack Obama. Through Americans for Prosperity and other dark money vehicles, he was a leading source of funding for climate change denial and attacks on environmental regulation, unions, and workers’ rights. Greenpeace estimates that the Koch brothers put $127 million into 92 groups involved in preventing action on climate change. His companies are among the biggest polluters in the United States.

David Koch, the younger of the two famous Koch brothers, died on Friday, leaving behind a legacy of self-serving denial of basic science. The book referenced above is from the Institute of Public Affairs.

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is a conservative public policy think tank based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It advocates free market economic policies such as privatisation and deregulation of state-owned enterprises, trade liberalisation and deregulated workplaces, climate change denial, the abolition of the minimum wage, and the repeal of parts of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

A glaring sign of abuse of science is the money trail. Is the argument being promoted by an entity that has no real interest in truth about a matter? Is there a profit or religious motive involved? The consequences of an idea have no bearing on whether the idea is true. This is a theme that will be addressed in a future post.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 34 in a series

We’ve seen a bunch of these already. When you buy something and after you get it home and take a closer look you realize you made a big mistake. It’s called “buyer’s remorse.” There is a bunch of that going around in Trump Land these days. The farmer above is saying, “Pig farmers are currently losing about $25 to $30 per pig.”

It is almost going to discourage farmers from raising pigs. It’s almost going to cause them to think back to the day they voted for Donald J. Trump.

I have no real evidence this farmer voted for Trump. I have no real evidence he looked at Donald Trump and saw vast business acumen, so vast he was willing to overlook reports of business failures and criminal dealings. So vast he was willing to believe stories about a woman candidate who was unwilling to make impossible promises of rosy times for all.

I certainly hope this farmer did not vote for Donald Trump, because if he did he is sitting down to dinner nightly with his family and searching for ways to justify his faulty reasoning three years ago.

I don’t make this stuff up.

Number 12 of the series

I don’t have to make this stuff up, because there are paid people who make it  up for me. Here is something recent:

Donald J. Trump <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com
Aug 25 at 1:44 PM

John,

I know you are someone I can count on to tell me the truth…

Every day, the Lamestream Media and Washington Democrats are constantly bombarding me with distorted FAKE NEWS and politically motivated LIES. I’ve never cared what they think – but I do care what YOU think. John,

Plus some more.

First off I noticed the prominent use of junior high language: “Lamestream Media.” Let’s get past that.

“FAKE NEWS and politically motivated LIES.” That’s something we can deal with. I present here a few examples of the fake news and politically motivated lies.

Are you getting tired of these lies? Then buckle up. There are more to come.

Breitbart Mentality

Number 11

Truth be known, I like Breitbart News. Let’s even say I love Breitbart News. It gives me a window into a world I would never know. It is an amazing mentality.

Donald Trump Rips Democrats for Calling Supporters ‘Nazis’

“They view everybody as fascist and Nazis,” Trump said. “They use that term Nazi. This was a term, you could not even use it, now they use it on, like, a regular basis.”

President Trump said much more, but this is the headline. So let’s get something straight. It would be improper to call Trump supporters Nazis. What would be proper is to call Nazis Trump supporters. Here are a few.

Yes, those are Trump supporters, and if they are not Nazis, then they managed to fool a whole bunch of people into thinking they are. To be sure, these people never showed up at a Clinton rally showing support. Here are some more.

Could Donald Trump have been elected without the support of American Nazis and their ilk? Possibly so, but I noticed three years ago he did not go to great lengths to scare them away. They are his kind of people, and if you support this president, you are going to find yourself rubbing up against them. Enjoy it. I am.

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 178, unfortunately

 

This is a continuation of my posts from “A few of the reasons people fired their guns in December, 2018.” Here is number 8:

My sister wouldn’t let me borrow her car, and when our argument got heated her boyfriend tried to intervene. So I shot him dead. (TN, 12/25/18)

Man accused of shooting sister’s boyfriend in the back of the head

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —   A Memphis man was charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment after he allegedly shot his sister’s boyfriend in the back of the head.

The incident happened Thursday in the 6400 block of East Shelby Drive.

The victim told police he was headed to see his girlfriend and was talking to her on the phone when Jarvis Greer got on the line. Greer told the man he wasn’t welcome and threatened him.

Undeterred by the threats, the man said he continued on to the woman’s home.

The couple were talking when the victim was suddenly shot in the back of the head. He was rushed to the Regional Medical Center in critical condition.

I am continually informed that “an armed society is a polite society.”

People Unclear

This is number 81 of a series

I find it amazing that I am up to 81 postings in this series. Not really. Hydrogen is the most abundant substance in the universe. Number two is helium. Stupidity is a close third. Take the above. This came in a mailing from a Republican Party fund raiser: NRCC Product Alert <info@nrccred.org>. One would think they would know better. One would think in vain. Here’s the associated message:

Fellow Conservative,

We just released a very limited number of our new t-shirt.

You won’t find these anywhere else, and they will sell fast.

So make sure you get our brand new t-shirt before they are all gone!

President Trump has done an incredible job at helping our country grow in new ways and we want to support his efforts.

I want to say, “People, that’s not the message you want to be sending out.” Some background:

It started as a headline seemingly straight out of The Onion. Then it launched a torrent of jokes on late-night television and social media. And finally it exploded into a serious diplomatic rupturebetween the United States and one of its longtime allies.

In the latest only-in-Trumpland episode skating precariously along the line between farce and tragedy, the president of the United States on Wednesday attacked the prime minister of Denmark because she will not sell him Greenland — and found the very notion “absurd.”

Never mind that much of the rest of the world thought it sounded absurd as well. Amid a global laughing fit, Mr. Trump got his back up and lashed out, as he is wont to do, and called the prime minister “nasty,” one of his favorite insults, particularly employed against women who offend him, like Hillary Clinton and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.

All of which might be written off as just another odd moment in a presidency unlike any other. Except that attacking Denmark was not enough for the president. He decided to expand his target list to include NATO because, as he pointed out, Denmark is a member of the Atlantic alliance. And he chose to do this just two days before leaving Washington to travel to an international summit in France, which also happens to be a NATO member.

Yeah, when your guy makes an ass of himself in front of the whole world, you don’t want to be wagging it around. On this matter some people are definitely unclear.

Adding a note: I am guessing this t-shirt is going to take off. If it is not strongly copyrighted, somebody is going to launch a business selling these dirt cheap, and all manner of people will be wanting one. Does anybody want to speculate how long it will be before Joe Biden shows up at a rally wearing one?

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a Continuing Series

Some one-liners from Will Rogers:

  • People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.
  • There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  • Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock.
  • Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.
  • Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.
  • Not an exact quote, while performing a rope trick for an audience: “What is mazing is that a grown man would be up here doing a stupid trick like this. What is more amazing is that grown men will pay to watch.”

Abusing Science

Number 33 of a series

Resuming after taking four weeks off.

Abuse of science has long been, and remains, pernicious in modern society. Few sources exceed creationism in the practice.  The Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture is a mother lode if abuse of science is what interests you. I receive their mailings, giving me front row access. Here is something recent:

A Scientific Method for Design Detection

These are innovations known to be the product of human activity—human intelligence. He will come around to equating marvelous natural traits to results of an intelligent process. He states, “A unique property of intelligent minds is the ability to produce statistically significant levels of functional information as defined in the literature.” There is enough vagueness in that statement to allow the imagination to roam. He introduces “functional information” and links to papers by Jack Szostak, with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and by Robert M. Hazen, et al., published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The critical wording Durstan may want his readers to come away with is in the first paper by Szostak:

The information content of biopolymers is usually thought of in terms of the amount of information required to specify a unique sequence or structure. This viewpoint derives from classical information theory, which does not consider the meaning of a message, defining the information content of a string of symbols as simply that required to specify, store or transmit the string. Thus, the unannotated human genome sequence can be encoded in a 750-megabyte file, but this could be greatly reduced in size by the application of standard data-compression techniques to account for internal repetitions.

If Durstan is attempting to get across that there is a lot of functional information in a genome, then his point is well-made. But Durstan and other Intelligent Design proponents want you to know this information cannot come by accident, by natural processes alone. There must be an unseen and supernatural source for this information, and an intelligent source is implied.

Pause for a moment to dissect the term “intelligent.” Opponents of Intelligent Design point to some really stupid designs as evidence there was no intelligent designer at work here. They misconstrue the creationists’ use of the term. By “intelligent” they do not mean the designer is smart. They mean the intelligent designer has prior knowledge that will be imparted to the design. They mean the intelligent designer has purpose, intent.

Done with that, we get to Durstan’s critical point. How do we determine an intelligent agent is at work?

  • Step One: Evaluate the level of functional information required to produce the effect.
  • Step Two: Determine if the level of functional information is statistically significant.
  • Step Three: If it is statistically significant, then we can infer that intelligence was required to produce the effect.

Intelligent Design people will insist Darwinian processes cannot account for the degree of functional information in life forms. There are two key points they will advocate.

  • The principle of Kolmogorov complexity applies. Kolmogorov complexity is a real and valid concept. In brief it states you can’t get more out of a process than you put in. The existence of elaborate and novel feature is compelling evidence an outside source of information is at work.
  • Darwinian processes are inadequate to produce elaborate and novel features. You can’t get a lot of good stuff by shaking a box full of random parts and allowing things to assemble accidentally.

Durstan denies his is the “God of the gaps” argument. To wit, “We don’t know how it could have happened, so it must be God did it.”

The scientific method I presented above is obviously devoid of such a premise. We actually know what can produce functional information — intelligence. It is an observable fact. We do it all the time whenever we send a text, write an essay, or build something. It is the only empirically verified option that science has today; other scenarios still remain in the category of unverified science fiction. Functional information is a positive indicator or “fingerprint” of an intelligent mind.

It is impressive that in the foregoing he appears to present his argument at proof: “We actually know what can produce functional information — intelligence.” If he is saying that only intelligence can produce functional information, then his argument is thoroughly circular. This is something that needs to be proved, and it is also something that is yet to be proved.

Durstan next exhibits the astronomical probabilities required for the accidental production of essential molecules of life, and he concludes:

The markers (fingerprints) of an intelligent mind are all over the genomes of life. Life tests positive for intelligent design when we utilize the scientific method outlined above. We can conclude, therefore, that DNA is intelligently designed.

For this to be an argument with a scientific basis an essential ingredient is required and is also lacking. How? By what process did the intelligent designer do this work? Real scientists are concerned with how things work. No good scientific theory (explanation) is complete without some proposed mechanism, excepting perhaps quantum mechanics. Durstan talks of improbable protein sequences. An intelligent source is required to achieve the critical form. So how does the designer ensure the proper sequence? Molecules are waiting to be formed into the essential protein. The proper form will not be achieved if nothing is done. Does the designer reach down with magical hands and stick the molecules together in the proper sequence? Inquiring minds want to know. This has all the markings of a God in the gaps argument.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a Continuing Series

Still lazy. I was out of town for four weeks. Here are some one-liners from Red Skelton:

I married Miss Right. I just didn’t know her first name was Always

Old age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.

All men make mistakes, but married men find out about them sooner.

Any kid will run any errand for you, if you ask at bedtime.

People think I am dead because they haven’t seen me around for awhile. I’m not dead, I’m very much alive, as you can see. Although, there are two things I do before I get up every morning. I look around and if I don’t smell flowers or see candles flickering I go ahead and get up.

I don’t hate my enemies. After all, I made ’em.

My doctor said I look like a million dollars – green and wrinkled.

Recipe for a happy marriage: My wife and I always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

I asked my wife where she wanted to go for our anniversary. ‘Somewhere I haven’t been in a long time!’ she said. So I suggested the kitchen.

Congress: Bingo with billions.

I was a sober as the next guy. The only problem is the next guy was Dean Martin.

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 177, unfortunately

This is a continuation of my posts from “A few of the reasons people fired their guns in December, 2018.” Here is number 7:

 

I saw a parent arguing with his kid’s basketball coach about how much game time the kid had. It looked pretty intense, so I shot both of them (NY, 12/22/18)

Dad’s confrontation with basketball coach ends in double shooting

The father of a Brooklyn high-school basketball player got so upset about his son’s lack of court time that he confronted the kid’s coach during a melee that resulted in both being shot by a third man, sources said.

Remember, “an armed society is a polite society.”