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.

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.

Abusing Science

Number 27 of a series

The above image is from an item posted to the Evolution 2.0 site. The page title is “Information Theory and the Trinity.”

Information Theory and the Trinity

Here is a transcription of the Facebook post.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb September 21, 2014

INFORMATION THEORY is the new central discipline. This graph was from 20y ago in the seminal book Cover and Thomas, as the field was starting to be defined. Now Information Theory has been expanded to swallow even more fields.

Born in, of all disciplines, Electrical Engineering, the field has progressively infiltrating probability theory, computer science, statistical physics, data science, gambling theory, ruin problems, complexity, even how one deals with knowledge, epistemology. It defines noise/signal, order/disorder, etc. It studies cellular automata. You can use it in theology (FREE WILL & algorithmic complexity). As I said, it is the MOTHER discipline.

I am certain much of Medicine will naturally grow to be a subset of it, both operationally, and in studying how the human body works: the latter is an information machine. Same with linguistics. Same with political “science”, same with… everything.

I am saying this because I figured out what the long 5th volume of the INCERTO will be. Cannot say now with any precision but it has to do with a variant of entropy as the core natural generator of Antifragility. [Revised to explain that it is not *replacing* other disciplines, just infiltrating them as the point was initially misunderstood…]

And that’s something to digest. You need to read the item, but here is the gist:

All communication systems that we know the origin of are designed. This suggests that consciousness comes first in the universe. Consciousness first, matter second. Not the other way around. (If anyone solves the Evolution 2.0 Prize, and I hope they do, they’ll solve it by starting with consciousness and working from there. My 2 cents.)

You cannot create messages or communication by blind material processes, so far as anyone knows thus far. Information always starts with consciousness. Which is the thesis of my Evolution 2.0 book.

What he is saying—see the diagram above—is that we marvel at the employment of DNA to encode and reproduce life forms, but DNA is merely the telephone line in a communication system. To explain the origin of the message (the structure of novel life forms) you need to invoke outside intelligence.

Perry Marshall is the author of the book and presumably the posting. He wants to stretch the analogy of an information transmission system into the Christian concept of the Trinity. It is a stretch too far.

The 5th Of June

 

 

This is from the HBO series Band of Brothers. It depicts men of the 101st Airborne Division walking to their planes on what they thought could be the last day of their lives. The scene concludes with their commanding officer informing them the jump has been postponed until the following day. The original schedule called for the 5th of June. Instead, the 6th of June became known as D-Day.

Abusing Science

Number 25 of a series

Twenty-seven years ago I attended a presentation by health quack Charlotte Gerson. It was an interesting audience. I got into a conversation that came around to homeopathy. Homeopathy, it was explained, works by quantum mechanics. And that was it. Not many people understand quantum mechanics. In fact top physicists remind us that maybe nobody understands quantum mechanics. And that’s the allure. Something this dark and mysterious can be used to explain all manner of questionable proposals. One of these might be transubstantiation.For the uninitiated, transubstantiation is associated with the Eucharist of the Catholic faith. The little wheat wafers, presumably blessed by the church, literally become the body of Christ. How does this work?

According to the Magis Center, quantum mechanics is at the heart. I won’t recap the posting , but the headline catches my attention:

Quantum Mechanics and the Real Presence: What Reality Should We Believe?

After some background we get to the heart of the matter:

First, quantum mechanics is itself a mystery: as the great physicist Richard Feynman remarked, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”

Second, the theory gives probabilities for alternative results of experiments, probabilities that are confirmed to a high degree of accuracy (much like actuarial results—one may not know when any given person may die, but one does know that among a large number of 70 year old men, a well-defined percentage will die in the coming year).   Even though quantum mechanics is deterministic in a statistical sense, this probabilistic character bothers many physicists. Einstein himself opposed the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics, insisting that “God does not play dice with the universe.

Third, from the beginning of quantum mechanics, scientists have posited a connection between the conscious mind and the role of the observer in determining quantum mechanical outcomes in experiments. As d’Espagnat puts it, “The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment.” The conscious mind of the observer plays a role in making a choice of experiments and what is to be observed.

This last part, “… scientists have posited a connection between the conscious mind and the role of the observer in determining quantum mechanical outcomes in experiments,” is problematic. While it is literally true that observation of an outcome, especially one involving quantum-level activity, does make the outcome irreversible, the notion that the observation must be human is imaginary. A classic case is the thought experiment involving “Schrödinger’s cat.” The experiment goes like this.

Put the cat in a closed box. Nobody can see in. Inside the box is a deadly poison, set to be released by a quantum event, e.g., alpha decay. Did the decay occur? If it did, then the cat is dead. If not, then the cat is alive. But until we open the box (as the protocol describes) the cat is in an undecided state. Until we observe the dead/alive cat, the alpha decay happened/did not happen.

The problem with this description is the requirement for human observation. Until we open the box, we may not know whether the alpha decay happened. But the cat does. Actually, any number of irreversible conditions can remove the alpha decay from the undecided state. The alpha decay happens, the alpha particle exits the nucleus. No matter how many cats are involved, the alpha particle is not going back into the nucleus. The outcome becomes final before any cat dies.

Religious hard cases become distressed at the failure of faith to accomplish anything material, anything of substance. Others perceive what is called science envy. If science can be invoked to substantiate religious conjectures, then wanderers can be coaxed back to the faith. Science is having none of that. The claims of the supernatural posited by religious zealots are never going to pass any sensible evaluation for merit. This kind of stuff is, at its base, an abuse of science.

The Magis Center post references the late French physicist Bernard d’Espagnat, who made contributions to this subject. An item I posted back in my college days commented on the so-called EPR paradox and referenced d’Espagnat’s work. Here is a link to a page that’s all about the mysteries of quantum mechanics. John Gribbin’s book In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat is a comprehensive read on the subject.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 8 in a Series

 

Continuing a review of Robert Ingersoll’s collected works

He analyzes the route by which we create gods.

Man, in his ignorance, supposed that all phenomena were produced by some intelligent powers, and with direct reference to him. To preserve friendly relations with these powers was, and still is, the object of all religions. Man knelt through fear and to implore assistance, or through gratitude for some favor which he supposed had been rendered. He endeavored by supplication to appease some being who, for some reason, had, as he believed, become enraged. The lightning and thunder terrified him. In the presence of the volcano he sank upon his knees. The great forests filled with wild and ferocious beasts, the monstrous serpents crawling in mysterious depths, the boundless sea, the flaming comets, the sinister eclipses, the awful calmness of the stars, and, more than all, the perpetual presence of death, convinced him that he was the sport and prey of unseen and malignant powers. The strange and frightful diseases to which he was subject, the freezings and burnings of fever, the contortions of epilepsy, the sudden palsies, the darkness of night, and the wild, terrible and fantastic dreams that filled his brain, satisfied him that he was haunted and pursued by countless spirits of evil. For some reason he supposed that these spirits differed in power—that they were not all alike malevolent—that the higher controlled the lower, and that his very existence depended upon gaining the assistance of the more powerful. For this purpose he resorted to prayer, to flattery, to worship and to sacrifice.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 204-214). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

When people began to employ science to understand the natural world, the usefulness of religion started to become not only absurd, but embarrassingly foolish.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 7 in a Series

Continuing a review of Robert Ingersoll’s collected works

Ingersoll demonstrates additional proof that people have created their gods rather than the reverse.

Man has not only created all these gods, but he has created them out of the materials by which he has been surrounded. Generally he has modeled them after himself, and has given them hands, heads, feet, eyes, ears, and organs of speech. Each nation made its gods and devils speak its language not only, but put in their mouths the same mistakes in history, geography, astronomy, and in all matters of fact, generally made by the people. No god was ever in advance of the nation that created him.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 166-169). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

It brings to mind an old joke. Here is my version:

Herbie was born and grew up in Queens, more properly Queens Borough, New York. His friend Nathan from time to time pestered Herbie with wacky ideas. One day Nathan came in all excited.

“Herbie,” he exclaimed. You have got to come to see this woman I met yesterday. Her name is Miss Yarna, and she tells me fantastic things. She tells me things about myself that only I know.”

Herbie was nonplussed. He told Nathan that business was fake and nonsense. But Nathan was persistent. “Herbie, she can put you in contact with your grandmother, your Bubbe.”

Herbie figured he needed to get Nathan clued up, so he went along with him to visit Miss Yarna. Miss Yarna was properly impressive. She wore a long, flowing gown, and her hair was stacked almost to the ceiling. Nathan introduced Herbie, and he told Miss Yarna that Herbie wanted to communicate with his Bubbe, who had been dead five years.

Miss Yarna told the two she would enter a trance and would speak to them in Bubbe’s voice. She closed her eyes and rocked back and forth. Finally she began to speak. She reminded Herbie how she told him to always eat his vegetables and to not run around with fast women. And much more. Finally Bubbe asked Herbie if he had a question he wanted her to answer.

Herbie, obviously entranced, thought for a moment and then spoke. “Bubbe, when did you learn to speak English?”

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 6 in a Series

Continuing a review of Robert Ingersoll’s collected works

Ingersoll discusses the perceived influence of Jehovah and the devil with respect to human welfare. It is claimed that God has people’s best interest at heart, but his dealing with Adam and Eve is one of suppression and retribution, while the devil rewards the pair with knowledge, freedom, and advancement. Don’t take my word for it. Read the Bible. Ingersoll did.

The account shows, however, that the gods dreaded education and knowledge then just as they do now. The church still faithfully guards the dangerous tree of knowledge, and has exerted in all ages her utmost power to keep mankind from eating the fruit thereof. The priests have never ceased repeating the old falsehood and the old threat: “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” From every pulpit comes the same cry, born of the same fear: “Lest they eat and become as gods, knowing good and evil.” For this reason, religion hates science, faith detests reason, theology is the sworn enemy of philosophy, and the church with its flaming sword still guards the hated tree, and like its supposed founder, curses to the lowest depths the brave thinkers who eat and become as gods.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 150-156). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

He has a keen sense for picking out absurdities that should be obvious to the most casual of readers yet remain hidden in plane sight to the faithful. May Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 5 in a Series

Continuing a review of Robert Ingersoll’s collected works

His analysis of the Bible as the supposed work of an overarching intellect is keenly observant.

All that is necessary, as it seems to me, to convince any reasonable person that the Bible is simply and purely of human invention—of barbarian invention—is to read it Read it as you would any other book; think of it as you would of any other; get the bandage of reverence from your eyes; drive from your heart the phantom of fear; push from the throne of your brain the cowled form of superstition—then read the Holy Bible, and you will be amazed that you ever, for one moment, supposed a being of infinite wisdom, goodness and purity, to be the author of such ignorance and of such atrocity.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 112-116). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

A person would have to wonder how it would be possible to take advice from the Bible after reading it while leaving behind the prejudice from conviction. May Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 4 in a Series

Robert Ingersoll, writing in the 19th century,  was a notorious critic of the Bible, raising criticism that portended major issues that confront us today. From The Works of Robert Ingersoll:

The book, called the Bible, is filled with passages equally horrible, unjust and atrocious. This is the book to be read in schools in order to make our children loving, kind and gentle! This is the book to be recognized in our Constitution as the source of all authority and justice!

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 89-91). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 3 in a Series

Robert Ingersoll employed considerable energy picking apart the absurdity of religious faith. An example from The Works of Robert Ingersoll:

Few nations have been so poor as to have but one god. Gods were made so easily, and the raw material cost so little, that generally the god market was fairly glutted, and heaven crammed with these phantoms. These gods not only attended to the skies, but were supposed to interfere in all the affairs of men. They presided over everybody and everything. They attended to every department. All was supposed to be under their immediate control. Nothing was too small—nothing too large; the falling of sparrows and the motions of the planets were alike attended to by these industrious and observing deities. From their starry thrones they frequently came to the earth for the purpose of imparting information to man. It is related of one that he came amid thunderings and lightnings in order to tell the people that they should not cook a kid in its mother’s milk. Some left their shining abodes to tell women that they should, or should not, have children, to inform a priest how to cut and wear his apron, and to give directions as to the proper manner of cleaning the intestines of a bird.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 50-58). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

This series will continue to explore comments from this 19th century speaker. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 2 in a Series

The first volume of The Works of Robert Ingersoll is titled “Lectures.” The first of these dissects “The Gods: An Honest God is the Noblest Work of Man.” Ingersoll stands aghast at how little the gods know about the realm they are credited with creating.

These gods did not even know the shape of the worlds they had created, but supposed them perfectly flat Some thought the day could be lengthened by stopping the sun, that the blowing of horns could throw down the walls of a city, and all knew so little of the real nature of the people they had created, that they commanded the people to love them. Some were so ignorant as to suppose that man could believe just as he might desire, or as they might command, and that to be governed by observation, reason, and experience was a most foul and damning sin. None of these gods could give a true account of the creation of this little earth. All were wofully deficient in geology and astronomy. As a rule, they were most miserable legislators, and as executives, they were far inferior to the average of American presidents.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 40-46). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

Ingersoll concludes, as does any honest person, that God was created by man and suffers all of man’s shortcomings.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

First in a Series

Robert Green Ingersoll was an American politician and orator of the 19th century, “noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism.” A collection of selected speeches is available in Kindle edition from Amazon for $2.99. This series will excerpt critical and noteworthy quotes, sometimes with analysis. Comment is invited.

The book is 4079 pages, so this series should run for several years, even if I post one quote a day. The opening paragraph is worth a view:

EACH nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own. All these gods demanded praise, flattery, and worship. Most of them were pleased with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a divine perfume. All these gods have insisted upon having a vast number of priests, and the priests have always insisted upon being supported by the people, and the principal business of these priests has been to boast about their god, and to insist that he could easily vanquish all the other gods put together.
Ingersoll, Robert. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (First Page) Kindle Edition.

This is from Volume I, Lectures. It “is dedicated for the love of God and the use of man.”

Ingersoll’s insight is piercing, and his style strikes the heart of the disgrace that is religion. In another era he would have been burned at stake, after first being mistreated. Even a casual reading of his comments gives cause to acknowledge their truth. There is much more to come. Keep reading.

This is your President speaking.

Number 171 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

The only “Collusion” is that of the Democrats with Russia and many others. Why didn’t the FBI take the Server from the DNC? They still don’t have it. Check out how biased Facebook, Google and Twitter are in favor of the Democrats. That’s the real Collusion!

Back in the real world:

Keep talking, big guy. Your loyal base is hanging onto your every word. They have nothing else.

War Without End

100 Years Ago Today

From Wikipedia: Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofie in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Within minutes both would be dead.

That’s the title of the final chapter of Hew Strachan’s The First World War. The Great War began over four years before as vanities of self-absorbed European aristocrats turned the the planet Earth into a game board and the lives of millions into chess pieces. Inflated egos brought a regional dispute to a point where the murder of an archduke and his wife required a lake of human blood to assuage the insult. And it never ended. It ground to a halt at a specified hour on a specified day. In November 1918 an armistice was struck between Germany and the Entente powers. It went into effect at 11 in the morning of 11 November, Paris time. This is being posted 100 years later, to the minute.

The final chapter tells how civilization, forever changed, settled into a world none could have predicted scant few years before. The author recounts the final circumstances that rang the bell on the raging inferno. I have pulled selected excerpts to provide a flavor of the narrative.

COALITION WARFARE

The First World War was a coalition war. Its intensity, its scale and its length were all the products of the alliances that sustained it. In 1918 one, that of the Central Powers, began to fall apart, but the other, that of the Entente, achieved a fusion, albeit flawed, which enabled it to wield greater military and economic power than any unit previously seen in the history of the world. In liberalism, however imperfectly expressed and however compromised by the business of waging war, it had a common ideological focus. ‘What we demand in this war’, Woodrow Wilson told the United States Congress on 8 January 1918, ‘is nothing peculiar to ourselves.’ 1

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 4810-4815). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The United States was not a party to the original conflict, having no interest in Europe’s local feuds. Our concerns grew through observation of the excesses employed , particularly by the German army. Civilian casualties due to Germany’s policy of unrestricted warfare on the seas brought further antipathy, and soon President Wilson was urging American entry on the side of the Entente. America sent troops an weapons of war and by 1918 we were fully involved. As it became apparent the Entente could prevail, President Wilson saw fit to impose American values.

Wilson went on to give shape to that ambition, spelling out his Fourteen Points which he believed could deliver a ‘peace without victory’. His aim was to keep Russia in the war, and, in providing a counterpoint to Bolshevism, he was sufficiently anti-imperialist to alarm both Britain and France.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 4816-4818). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

As German fortunes waned, parties that previously held back started to throw in with the winning side.

The states of South America either entered the war or severed relations with Germany. In Asia, China declared war on the Central Powers on 14 August 1917 and offered 300,000 men for service in Europe. In the Balkans, Greece joined the Entente on 2 July 1917. But, after Bulgaria did so in September 1915, no other power in the world sided with Germany.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 4834-4836). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The slide of German fortunes began in March 1918 when a major advance faltered after considerable gains were accompanied by horrific losses. The death knell may have been witnessed when the German attack of 27 May sputtered out.

The Germans had walked into a sack. This time Foch, even more than Pétain, saw the opportunity for a successful counterattack. On 18 July, Crown Prince Wilhelm recalled, ’Without artillery preparation, simply following the sudden rolling barrage, supported by numerous deep-flying aircraft and with unprecedented masses of tanks, the enemy infantry – including a number of American divisions – unleashed the storm against the 9th and 7th Armies at 5.40 in the morning.‘ Dubbed the second battle of the Marne, the blow drove the Germans back from Château-Thierry to Soissons on the River Aisne.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 4950-4955). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

In overall command toward the end was Erich Ludendorff, First Quarter-Master General of the German General Staff. Having proved himself highly effective early on, when matters became grim for the German effort his resolve and self-confidence withered.

But Ludendorff refused to confront realities, defying the advice of his senior commanders that they pull back or even negotiate, and ignoring the evidence of the collapsing morale of his troops.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5057-5058). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

By this time Germans were starting to think of ways of getting out of the box they had made for themselves.

August. Postal censors told him that letters home complained of the mounting numbers of Americans and of British aerial domination, and – even more importantly – called for peace in ways which linked front and rear; war, they said, was the product of capitalism, and ‘at home, they must strike and strike hard, and cause a revolution, and then peace must come’.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5059-5062). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Apparently the Allies were slow to pick up on this shift in the wind.

Nobody on the allied side had yet realised that victory was possible this side of Christmas. In London the war cabinet was making preparations for 1919.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5063-5064). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Ludendorff dubbed 8 August ‘the black day of the German army’. Of 27,000 German casualties, fully 12,000 had surrendered, an unprecedentedly high proportion.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5086-5087). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Ludendorff’s deterioration continued.

Over the next six weeks his mood showed alarming swings, as he oscillated between unfounded optimism and the search for scapegoats other than himself.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5091-5092). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The German militarists began to foresee the dreadful consequences to themselves in the event of defeat, which became weekly more apparent. Paul von Hintze was  Foreign Minister of Germany from July to October 1918.

Paul von Hintze, briefed on the realities of the military situation by Ludendorff’s subordinates, realised that defeat was likely to precipitate a revolution. To avert it, he proposed a ‘revolution from above’. Germany’s government should be reformed on more democratic lines as a preliminary to any peace negotiations. This might achieve two objectives: it would preserve the monarchy and it might channel the opprobrium for

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5141-5144). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Ludendorff eventually reached his breaking point.

These careful calculations needed time to be put into effect. They were wrong-footed by Ludendorff. On the night of 28 September his nerve cracked: he fell to the floor and according to some accounts foamed at the mouth. At a crown council convened at Spa on the following morning, he demanded an immediate armistice on the basis of Wilson’s Fourteen Points.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5145-5147). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Wilson’s Fourteen Points was something the Germans had rejected out of hand before the slide began. Now when they turned on their heels and grasped at the offer, it was no longer there.

Inevitable doom became increasingly apparent as Germany’s cohorts began to strike their own deals.

The crisis was triggered by the news that Bulgaria had sought and been granted an armistice. In some respects the First World War ended where it began, in the Balkans. But

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5158-5159). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The specter of defeat created an erosion of morale among German troops that fed on itself.

’No power in the world could have induced the average soldier at the front to take part in fighting that was to last still longer.‘ At home there was resignation, not resistance: ’They are acting almost like criminals who have broken into a neighbor’s house, with no thought of defending themselves when caught red-handed…. The only fear they have is that peace might slip away at the last minute.‘

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5225-5229). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

During this period, when peace was days away, there was no slackening of the horror.

On the western front fighting continued with no mitigation in its ferocity. Its mobility once again put civilians and their property more at risk than they had been when the front was static. Germans looted and pillaged as they retreated. At sea U-boats still torpedoed neutral shipping, and at the end of October the navy planned to take the fleet to sea to fight one last climactic battle. Word of the proposed ‘death ride’ got out. By 3 and 4 November disturbances gripped the fleet in Kiel, with the sailors’ demands focusing not on professional grievances but on issues like constitutional reform, peace, and the removal of the royal family. The mutiny spread to Wilhelmshaven, and then merged with spontaneous workers’ risings elsewhere. On 9 November a general strike broke out in Berlin.

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5231-5237). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The date, 9 November, was two days before the shooting stopped. A pause that could have saved so many lives never materialized. In fact, commanders on the Allied side, vying to return home with combat medals needed to advance their careers, sent troops forth to attack while minutes remained on the clock.

Following its defeat, the German military sought to avoid the moral consequences of their aggression.

Despite its defeat, Germany manufactured its own feeling of victory out of the war. Ludendorff’s determination in 1917 to separate the demoralisation at home from the motivation of those at the front fed directly into the post-war argument that the German army had not been defeated in the field. It still stood deep in enemy territory on all fronts when it laid down its arms; its front had been neither broken through nor enveloped; thus, none of the features of an operational defeat on the battlefield was present. The British blockade, and the claim that it had reduced the civilian population to starvation, fitted in with the argument that the army had been stabbed in the back by the revolution at home. On

Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Kindle Locations 5304-5309). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This was a narrative the militarists promoted in subsequent years, fueling the fever for resuming an advance toward the gates of Hell.

I began a review of Hew Strachan’s book four years ago, on the 100th anniversary of the events that led up to the war. I am concluding the timeline narrative with this installment, having passed over critical sections of the history during the past few years. Future installments will catch up with depictions of critical periods of the war.

Years of Living Dangerously

Continuing review of William Shirer’s Berlin Diary

William Shirer published Berlin Diary in 1941, the year following his departure as a correspondent from Berlin. While the book derives largely from contemporaneous notes, it is not the transcript of a daily ledger. There was difficulty getting his notes out of Germany, considerable danger being attached should they be discovered at the border. At the least, such inflammatory material would have been confiscated. A consequence is that Shirer composed the bulk of the book once safely outside Nazi Germany. This is one of a series reviewing the book. Posts follow by 80 years the time line of events.

From August to October 1938 Hitler’s demands on Czechoslovakia became increasingly bellicose. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave the appearance of willing to commit to any of Hitler’s demands in order to stave off another European war. Hitler read the tea leaves correctly, and he played the Allied Powers as dupes to his designs. Excerpts from Shirer’s diary during this period give insight into the developing events.

PRAGUE, August 4

Lord Runciman arrived today to gum up the works and sell the Czechs short if he can. He and his Lady and staff, with piles of baggage, proceeded to the town’s swankiest hotel, the Alcron, where they have almost a whole floor. Later Runciman, a taciturn thin-lipped little man with a bald head so round it looks like a mis-shapen egg, received us— about three hundred Czech and foreign reporters— in the reception hall. I thought he went out of his way to thank the Sudeten leaders, who, along with Czech Cabinet members, turned out to meet him at the station, for their presence.

Runciman’s whole mission smells. He says he has come here to mediate between the Czech government and the Sudeten party of Konrad Henlein. But Henlein is not a free agent. He cannot negotiate. He is completely under the orders of Hitler. The dispute is between Prague and Berlin. The Czechs know that Chamberlain personally wants Czechoslovakia to give in to Hitler’s wishes. These wishes we know: incorporation of all Germans within the Greater Reich. Someone tonight— Walter Kerr, I think, of the Herald Tribune, produced a clipping from his paper of a dispatch written by its London correspondent, Joseph Driscoll, after he had participated in a luncheon with Chamberlain given by Lady Astor. It dates back to last May, but makes it clear that the Tory government goes so far as to favour Czecho ceding the Sudetenland outright to Germany. Before the Czechs do this,

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 120-121). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The involvement of Walter Runciman, 1st Viscount Runciman of Doxford is recounted in an item posted to Wikipedia:

Runciman returned to public life when, at the beginning of August 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sent him on a mission to Czechoslovakia to mediate in a dispute between the Government of Czechoslovakia and the Sudeten German Party (SdP), the latter representing the ethnic German population of the border regions, known as the Sudetenland. Unknown to Runciman, the SdP, although it was ostensibly calling for autonomy for the Sudetenland, had instructions from Nazi Germany not to reach any agreement on the matter and so attempts at mediation failed. With international tension rising in Central Europe, Runciman was recalled to London on 16 September 1938.

His controversial report provided support for British policy towards Czechoslovakia, which culminated in the dismembering of the country under the terms of the Munich Agreement.

Further controversy arose from Runciman’s use of his leisure time in Czechoslovakia spent mostly in the company of Hitler’s Jewish spy and erstwhile lover of Lord Rothermere, Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe, and the pro-SdP aristocracy. Maria Dowling claims that Runciman spent most of his time in Czechoslovakia being entertained by German aristocrats and listening to complaints from Germans that had suffered from the 1920s land reform.

It is clear that Shirer’s assessment of Runciman’s mission is spot-on. With people such as Runciman dealing for Britain, there would be scant chance that Czechoslovakia’s interests would be protected. As close to the events as he was, Shirer often misread the action.

BERLIN, August 25

Some of the American correspondents, more friendly than others to the Nazis, laughed at me at the Taverne tonight when I maintained the Czechs would fight.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 123). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

In the end, the Czechs did not fight. Shirer saw, as did most others, the threat of war was real.

GENEVA, September 9

One last fleeting visit with the family before the war clouds break. In Berlin the best opinion is that Hitler has made up his mind for war if it is necessary to get back his Sudetens. I doubt it for two reasons: first, the German army is not ready; secondly, the people are dead against war. The radio has been saying all day that Great Britain has told Germany she will fight if Czecho is invaded. Perhaps so, but you cannot forget the Times leader of three days ago inviting the Czechs to become a more “homogeneous state” by handing the Sudetens over to Hitler.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 124). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Shirer put down his musings at the time.

PRAGUE, September 10

All Europe waiting for Hitler’s final word to be pronounced at the wind-up of the Nazi Party rally at Nuremberg day after tomorrow. In the meantime we had two speeches today, one by President Beneš here; the other by Göring at Nuremberg, where all week the Nazis have been thundering threats against Czechoslovakia. Beneš, who spoke from the studio of the Czech Broadcasting System, was calm and reasonable—reasonable— too much so, I thought, though he was obviously trying to please the British. He said: “I firmly believe that nothing other than moral force, goodwill, and mutual trust will be needed…. Should we, in peace, solve our nationality affairs… our country will be one of the most beautiful, best administered, worthiest, and most equitable countries in the world….

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 125). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

That same day the Nazis were playing their propaganda game to the hilt

The other speech, Göring’s, as given out by Reuter’s here: “A petty segment of Europe is harassing human beings…. This miserable pygmy race [the Czechs] without culture— no one knows where it came from— is oppressing a cultured people and behind it is Moscow and the eternal mask of the Jew devil….”

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 126). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

This day shows Hitler at his most Hitler:

PRAGUE, September 12

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 126). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

I have never heard the Adolf quite so full of hate, his audience quite so on the borders of bedlam. What poison in his voice when at the beginning of his long recital of alleged wrongs to the Sudeteners he paused: “Ich spreche von der Czechoslovakei!” His words, his tone, dripping with venom.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 127). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Shirer reports as events follow a pattern that was to become familiar.

PRAGUE, September 13– 14 (3 a.m.)

War very near, and since midnight we’ve been waiting for the German bombers, but so far no sign. Much shooting up in the Sudetenland, at Eger, Elbogen, Falkenau, Habersbirk. A few Sudeteners and Czechs killed and the Germans have been plundering Czech and Jewish shops.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 128). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Runciman’s swan song.

PRAGUE, September 16

LATER.— Hoorah! Heard New York perfectly on the feedback tonight and they heard me equally well. After four days of being blotted out, and these four days! Runciman has left for London, skipping out very quietly, unloved, unhonoured, unsung.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 133). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Here is what a government can do when it controls the press and suppresses opposing speech.

BERLIN, September 19

The Nazis, and quite rightly too, are jubilant over what they consider Hitler’s greatest triumph up to date. “And without bloodshed, like all the others,” they kept rubbing it in to me today. As for the good people in the street, they’re immensely relieved. They do not want war. The Nazi press full of hysterical headlines. All lies. Some examples: WOMEN AND CHILDREN MOWED DOWN BY CZECH ARMOURED CARS, or BLOODY REGIME— NEW CZECH MURDERS OF GERMANS. The Börsen Zeitung takes the prize: POISON-GAS ATTACK ON AUSSIG? The Hamburger Zeitung is pretty good: EXTORTION, PLUNDERING, SHOOTING— CZECH TERROR IN SUDETEN GERMAN LAND GROWS WORSE FROM DAY TO DAY!

[Emphasis in the original]

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 134-135). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Czechoslovakia’s neighbors were eager to join the feast, not realizing they were next on the menu.

ON THE TRAIN, BERLIN– GODESBERG, September 20

But there were no American correspondents. The platform was empty. At ten I started to chat away ad lib. The only news I had was that the Hungarians and the Poles had been down to Berchtesgaden during the day to demand, like jackals, their share of the Czech spoils.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 136). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Nazi fervor reaches a crescendo.

BERLIN, September 26

Hitler has finally burned his last bridges. Shouting and shrieking in the worst state of excitement I’ve ever seen him in, he stated in the Sportpalast tonight that he would have his Sudetenland by October 1— next Saturday, today being Monday. If Beneš doesn’t hand it over to him he will go to war, this Saturday. Curious audience, the fifteen thousand party Bonzen packed into the hall. They applauded his words with the usual enthusiasm. Yet there was no war fever. The crowd was good-natured, as if it didn’t realize what his words meant. The old man full of more venom than even he has ever shown, hurling personal insults at Beneš. Twice Hitler screamed that this is absolutely his last territorial demand in Europe.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 141). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

And more from the same day.

I broadcast the scene from a seat in the balcony just above Hitler. He’s still got that nervous tic. All during his speech he kept cocking his shoulder, and the opposite leg from the knee down would bounce up. Audience couldn’t see it, but I could. As a matter of fact, for the first time in all the years I’ve observed him he seemed tonight to have completely lost control of himself. When he sat down after his talk, Goebbels sprang up and shouted: “One thing is sure: 1918 will never be repeated!” Hitler looked up to him, a wild, eager expression in his eyes, as if those were the words which he had been searching for all evening and hadn’t quite found. He leaped to his feet and with a fanatical fire in his eyes that I shall never forget brought his right hand, after a grand sweep, pounding down on the table and yelled with all the power in his mighty lungs: “Ja!” Then he slumped into his chair exhausted.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 142). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

There are rumblings of war, but there would be no war for another year.

BERLIN, September 27 A motorized division rolled through the city’s streets just at dusk this evening in the direction of the Czech frontier. I went out to the corner of the Linden where the column was turning down the Wilhelmstrasse, expecting to see a tremendous demonstration. I pictured the scenes I had read of in 1914 when the cheering throngs on this same street tossed flowers at the marching soldiers, and the girls ran up and kissed them. The hour was undoubtedly chosen today to catch the hundreds of thousands of Berliners pouring out of their offices at the end of the day’s work. But they ducked into the subways, refused to look on, and the handful that did stood at the curb in utter silence unable to find a word of cheer for the flower of their youth going away to the glorious war. It has been the most striking demonstration against war I’ve ever seen. Hitler himself reported furious. I had not been standing long at the corner when a policeman came up the Wilhelmstrasse from the direction of the Chancellery and shouted to the few of us standing at the curb that the Führer was on his balcony reviewing the troops. Few moved. I went down to have a look. Hitler stood there, and there weren’t two hundred people in the street or the great square of the Wilhelmsplatz. Hitler looked grim, then angry, and soon went inside, leaving his troops to parade by unreviewed. What I’ve seen tonight almost rekindles a little faith in the German people. They are dead set against war.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 142-143). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The Allied Powers ended up selling out Czechoslovakia for false promises of peace. Notably, Winston Churchill stood alone against the tide.

MUNICH, September 30

Only Winston Churchill, a voice in the wilderness all these years, will say, addressing the Commons: “We have sustained a total, unmitigated defeat…. Do not let us blind ourselves. We must expect that all the countries of central and eastern Europe will make the best terms they can with the triumphant Nazi power…. The road down the Danube… the road to the Black Sea and Turkey, has been broken. It seems to me that all the countries of Mittel Europa and the Danube Valley, one after the other, will be drawn into the vast system of Nazi politics, not only power military politics, but power economic

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (pp. 147-148). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Czechoslovakia was sacrificed, ultimately for nothing. At Hitler’s direction, Europe slid relentlessly toward war during the following 11 months.

Quiz Question

Number 172 of a series

For this week’s Quiz Question I’m falling back on literary acumen. What have you been reading recently? Following is a list of unsavory characters from literature, not movies and video. For each give the title of the work in which the character originally appeared. Some characters show up in sequels and such.

  • Simon Legree
  • Shylock
  • Hannibal Lecter
  • Fagin
  • Injun Joe
  • Captain Queeg
  • Long John Silver
  • Kurtz

You can find answers to all of these using Google, but you need to take the quiz from memory. Highest number of right answers wins. Post your answers in the comments below.

Update and Answers

  • Simon Legree – Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Shylock – The Merchant of Venice
  • Hannibal Lecter – Red Dragon
  • Fagin – Oliver Twist
  • Injun Joe – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • Captain Queeg – The Caine Munity
  • Long John Silver – Treasure Island
  • Kurtz – Heart of Darkness

Red Dragon was a sneaky entry. Only die-hard fans and readers of this blog know that Thomas Harris shot to fame with Black Sunday and followed up with Red Dragon, the novel that introduced the world to Hannibal Lecter. The first was made into a blockbuster thriller, and the second formed the plot for Manhunter, about a conflicted former FBI agent sent to track down a serial killer. He enlists the aid of Hannibal Lecter, who previously tried to kill him. Of course, Harris went on to write the other books that feature Hannibal Lecter.

Years of Living Dangerously

Continuing review of William Shirer’s Berlin Diary

William Shirer published Berlin Diary in 1941, the year following his departure as a correspondent from Berlin. While the book derives largely from contemporaneous notes, it is not the transcript of a daily ledger. There was difficulty getting his notes out of Germany, considerable danger being attached should they be discovered at the border. At the least, such inflammatory material would have been confiscated. A consequence is that Shirer composed the bulk of the book once safely outside Nazi Germany. This is one of a series reviewing the book. Posts follow by 80 years the time line of events.

In 1938 Adolf Hitler began in earnest to solidify control of the Nazi state. His first outward thrust was the annexation of neighboring Austria. Hitler next moved on Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, the German digestion of Austria began to become manifest at the lowest levels. On Shirer’s journey to Rome to cover Hitler’s visit there he met face-to-face with absolute rule:

ROME, May 2

Some time during the night S.S. Black Guards at the Austro-Italian border got me out of bed in my wagons-lits compartment and seized all my money. They argued a long time among themselves about arresting me, but finally desisted. Hitler arriving this evening at sundown. I’m broadcasting from the roof of the royal stables overlooking the entrance to the Quirinale Palace and have it timed for the moment the King and the Führer are due to arrive.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 114). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The continent of Europe was coming apart at the seams, yet Shirer’s bosses back in America felt the need for the mundane:

FLORENCE, May—?

Followed Hitler up here, but did not have to broadcast. New York wanted me to look up some singing birds— of all things!— for a broadcast, but could not find them. Spent the day at the Uffizi, but somehow the Leonardos, Raphaels, Titians, even the Botticellis, pale a little after the Grecos in Spain. Walked along the Arno. Remembered the magnificent view from Fiesole, an old Etruscan town five miles up in the hills from here, but no time to revisit it. Back to Vienna tomorrow.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 115). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

It became urgent that Shirer get his wife and baby out of the hot zone and into neutral Switzerland. The fabric of society was unraveling—he encountered a Nazi spy, who had long posed as an anti-Nazi immigrant. Getting the flight Geneva was wrought with imperial entanglements and peril:

GENEVA, June 10

At the Aspern airport they behaved very suspiciously. I explained to the Gestapo chief that Tess was too weak to stand up and I would go over the luggage with him. I had laid Tess out on a bench in the waiting-room. He demanded that she stand up and explain things during the customs examination. Otherwise we couldn’t leave. I tried to hold her up. Then a police official led me away. I left the nurse to help as best she could. In a little room two police officials went through my pocket-book and my pockets. Everything was in order. They then led me into a side room. “Wait here,” they said. I said I wanted to go back to help with the baggage inspection, that my wife was in a critical state; but they shut the door. I heard the lock turn. I was locked in. Five, ten, fifteen minutes. Pacing the floor. Time for the airplane to leave. Past time. Then I heard Tess shout: “Bill, they’re taking me away to strip me!”

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 117). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The world began to take notice of what was rapidly becoming the fate of Europe:

ÉVIAN-LES-BAINS, July 7

Delegates from thirty-two states here, on Roosevelt’s initiative, to discuss doing something about refugees from the Third Reich.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (p. 119). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Coming up next, the relentless progression of events to sell out Czechoslovakia and to pray this awful mess will just go away.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 32 in a series

1984-01

Opening scene for the movie 1984 (1984 version)

Aw! The party is winding down. The fun is coming to an end.. The time for poking fun is past. No more making the jokes. Matters are getting deadly serious. President Trump has proclaimed the end and has brought down the curtain, this at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City yesterday:

Donald Trump has launched a fresh attack on the “crap” news media, telling a military veterans’ convention that “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening”.

In a meandering rant taking in “unfair” trade practices by the European Union, his policy of imposing tariffs on incoming goods and big companies “ripping off the United States”, the Republican accused a major US network of manufacturing an interview in cahoots with “lobbyists”.

“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” Are we now at that point? Is there no remorse?

Whatever the Party holds to be truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to re-learn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.’

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 3548-3550). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Before it slips away, we need to examine that which is no longer true.

 

I am so glad all that is now settled. At last I can live in peace with my internal conflicts.

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 4230-4233). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Rest easy, my friends. The best is yet to come.

The Awful Truth

Number 6 in a Series

Earlier this month I reviewed a companion book, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence, by James Clapper. Here is another view along the same lines. It’s The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies by former NSA director General Michael Hayden. Both writers have long experience in public service, having served in the United States military and in national intelligence agencies. Both take a dim view of the administration of President Donald Trump. Both consider his persistent use of fabrication and his abuse of the intelligence agencies to be scandalous and (my interpretation) and also an abuse of his office.

I’m using the same approach here that I did with the previous review. I will illustrate with pertinent excerpts from the book and add context and elaboration where helpful. Start here:

Two months into the Trump administration, Jim Comey, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, were asked in an open congressional hearing if the president they were serving was misleading the nation with his claims that they or their British friends had wiretapped him while he was president-elect.

They said that he was.

It was a remarkable moment. That question doesn’t get asked very often in open parliamentary session in a democracy, let alone get answered—to say nothing of being answered in that way. It made me proud to have been associated with an intelligence community that felt free to do that.

But that was not the end of the matter, at least as far as the White House was concerned. The administration stuck to its alternate version—Obama wiretapped me—even after the FBI and NSA chiefs had confirmed that objective reality was clearly otherwise.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (pp. 1-2). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

General Hayden has concluded, as have a growing number of Americans, that the current President of the United States is a calculating liar who seeks to persuade his political base that truth is what he says it is, and that hard facts are distortions promulgated by opposing and disloyal sources. For General Hayden the threat to civilized society crystallized during his working intelligence tour in the former Yugoslavia during the events of the 1990s.

The veneer of civilization, I sadly concluded then, was quite thin—perhaps a natural thought for an intelligence officer, whose profession consistently trends pessimistic, whose work is consumed by threats and dangers, and who routinely travels to some of the world’s darkest, most troubled places.

Later I learned that intelligence officers were not so alone in their dark thoughts. Robin Wright, the American chronicler of the Middle East’s woes, told me that Israel’s Shimon Peres once despairingly lamented to her, “We’re so primitive. We’re so very primitive.”

Over the years it became clear to me that the structures, processes, and attitudes that protect us from Thomas Hobbes’s world of “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” lives are not naturally occurring things. They are inherently fragile and demand careful tending if they are to survive.

That brought me to the idea of this book, which is not that civil war or societal collapse is necessarily imminent or inevitable here in America, but that the structures, processes, and attitudes we rely on to prevent those kinds of occurrences are under stress, and that many of the premises on which we have based our governance, policy, and security are now challenged, eroded, or simply gone.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (pp. 2-3). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

He summarizes:

Deeply involved in this is the question of truth. It was no accident that the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016 was “post-truth,” a condition where objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. Liberal British academic and philosopher A. C. Grayling characterized the emerging post-truth world to me as “over-valuing opinion and preference at the expense of proof and data.” Oxford Dictionaries president Casper Grathwohl predicted that the term could become “one of the defining words of our time.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 3). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The author bears down on the seriousness of our present situation:

We’re really breaking new ground when, at the six-month point of the new administration, the former head of CIA, John Brennan, and the former director of national intelligence, Jim Clapper—with more than seven decades of experience between them and a record of service for both political parties—spend a rainy afternoon in Aspen telling hundreds that they harbor deep concerns about Russian election interference, openly criticize President Trump for refusing to face that reality, and warn that “in some respects we are a government in crisis.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 6). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Like James Clapper, Michael Hayden is unable to escape that the Russian government is working to upend the American  political  process:

And it continues. A quick look at articles pushed by Kremlin-oriented accounts on Twitter in early January shows that attacks on Democrats and liberals comprised more than a quarter, with discrediting Fusion GPS and the Steele dossier at 14 percent, and pushing “deep state” narratives and conspiracies constituting 13 percent. Sound familiar? When Trump speaks, the Russians amplify.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 7). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Candidate Trump campaigned on a policy of “America First,” and the author traveled back to the place of his origins in Pittsburgh, where he connected with friends from his youth and other, like-minded people.

So I resolved to reengage the “America First” issue, in the back room of a Pittsburgh sports bar over some Iron City beer. I asked my brother to arrange for several dozen of his friends, all Trump supporters, to meet with me for a couple of hours.

I knew many of the participants, indeed had grown up with several. But we could have been from different planets. They are angry. They feel abandoned and disadvantaged even though they work hard, pay their taxes, and struggle to raise their kids. They hate Hillary Clinton, I mean really hate her. And for them, it is still midnight on November 8, 2016. Donald Trump is still their guy. “He is an American . . . He is genuine . . . He is authentic . . . He doesn’t filter everything or parse every word.” They don’t seem to be very interested in “facts,” either. Or at least not in my “facts.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (pp. 22-23). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Hayden attempts to winkle out what is underlying the disconnect:

About two months after my Pittsburgh meeting, the New York Times’ David Brooks wrote that political partisanship in America had become what he called “totalistic.” It was no longer about better policies as it was with Eisenhower and Kennedy. Nor was it about better philosophy as it was with Reagan. Now “people often use partisan identity to fill the void left when other attachments wither away—religious, ethnic, communal and familial.”6

Around the same time as the Brooks article, conservative ethicist Peter Wehner told me that in today’s America, beliefs are really tied up with identities, and he pointed me to this: “If changing your belief means changing your identity, it comes at the risk of rejection from the community of people with whom you share that identity.” Wehner also reminded me that data is not particularly useful to argue a point that itself was not particularly data-derived (which is not quite the same distinction as true and untrue).

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 22-23). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Hayden saw what I often see when communicating with conservative acquaintances:

When I asked in that Pittsburgh back room if anyone really believed that Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, most hands shot up. I tried to explain how the relevant agencies (NSA and FBI) had said it wasn’t true. When I asked why they still thought it was so, they simply replied, “Obama.”

“Obama was against the country and did everything he could to undermine it,” concluded one participant.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (pp. 23-24). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The basis behind “America First” comes out:

It was also true that most in the room had spent their entire lives in or near Pittsburgh. National statistics say that Trump won by nine points among white voters who live within two hours of where they were born and by an overwhelming 26 percent among those who live in their hometown proper. Everybody in the room in Pittsburgh was white, too.

When I asked what they thought “America First” meant, the answer was pretty simple. It meant that someone was paying attention to them.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 24). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Observers of the 2016 presidential election point to the declining relevance of traditional left-right, Democrat-Republican, liberal-conservative divides in American politics. Technological change, the explosion of information, and the erosion of borders have smothered old dividing lines over the size of government, family values, and the national debt. Changes in technology, information, and borders have created winners and losers, and these folks are in that group of Americans who are feeling left behind.

Collectively they view themselves as disadvantaged in a globalized world and they catalog refugees and immigrants as threatening their safety, trade deals as taking away their jobs, and political institutions as wasting their money. Hence the surge of a populism that claims “to speak in the people’s place, in their name, and convey an undeniable shared truth on their

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (pp. 24-25). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

He further analyses his impromptu focus group:

Reading the audience, I decided against asking the group a question I had formed during my preparation: “How many of you have passports?” It had been a pleasant evening and I don’t think they would have appreciated the tone of my question. I also suspect that I wouldn’t have liked their answer. They were polite, patriotic, sincere, and enthusiastic, but foreign affairs wasn’t a strong suit or strong interest.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (pp. 38-39). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

He analyzes the Trump phenomenon in terms of Hamiltonian and Jacksonian views:

Famed American academic Walter Russell Mead broke down the whole dynamic for me in terms of his four paradigms of the American presidency. He reminded me that there were Hamiltonians, wedded to the tough realism of America’s first secretary of the treasury: America cannot be free unless America is prosperous, America cannot be prosperous unless America is strong. I had limited contact with Mitt Romney as an adviser during his 2012 campaign, but I suspect he would have trended Hamiltonian as president.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 27). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And then there was Andrew Jackson: man of the people, frontiersman, Indian fighter, war hero—the first democrat in the White House whether you write it with a big D or a little d. Jacksonian foreign policy is shaped by an intense patriotism to an America defined by blood, soil, and shared history, and it is largely uninterested in international affairs unless, of course, somebody really ticks us off (like Japan in 1941, or al-Qaeda in 2001). Only half-jokingly do I describe it as a security policy organized around Robert De Niro’s immortal line in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver: “You talkin’ to me?”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 28). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

America’s post–World War II internationalism has been largely shaped by Hamiltonian and Wilsonian concepts. In fact, the history of that era was often written as a struggle between the two factions, trying to balance American interests and American ideals in the conduct of our policy.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 28). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

That crowd in the back room in Pittsburgh was overwhelmingly Jacksonian…

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 28). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

There is an analysis on the former president’s relationship with the intelligence community, ultimately to be contrasted with President Trump’s:

Over time the president, who came into office with a liberal Democrat’s distrust of an intelligence community around which multiple controversies had been swirling, grew more comfortable with both the institutions and the people who were serving him. Obama also came to office with little intelligence background, since he had not served on the Intelligence Committee while in the Senate. He had a steep learning curve, but gradually absorbed both the capabilities and the limits of the community. The PDB in the president’s second term was described to me as often a ten- to fifteen-minute tactical update for someone who was now quite familiar with the issues. Both John Brennan and Jim Clapper recall Obama as genuinely appreciative. Jim said the president was gracious and complimentary during his last meeting with him in the Oval Office.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (pp. 34-35). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

In their comparative views, James Clapper’s book takes readers on a historical ride, bringing the shape of today’s intelligence community ultimately into view, while Michael Hayden’s work is rooted in the present and the recent past. Both heap condemnation on the current administration’s aversion to, and the destruction of, basic truth. I will finish out with some highlights on the author’s observations. First a 30,000-foot view:

Internationalist—nativist. Nuanced—blunt. Informed—instinctive. No drama—all drama. Studied—spontaneous. Fully formed paragraphs—140 characters. America as idea—America as blood and soil. Free trader—protectionist. And then there was the issue of truth. All candidates shape their message, but Trump just seemed to say whatever came into his head. Was he uninformed, lazy, dishonest . . . or did he simply reject the premise that objective reality even existed or mattered?

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 41). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Candidate Trump’s issues with the truth were early apparent:

My little email universe was steadily lit up in the spring and summer of 2016 with commentary on the Trump campaign. That universe comprised a lot of people with backgrounds like mine: intelligence, security, military, diplomatic, and related fields. We had lots of issues, but the key themes of truth, inclusion, and lawfulness quickly emerged.

The most intense buzz was about telling the truth, or, more specifically, about Donald Trump not telling the truth. Or at least not bothering to find the truth in order to speak accurately.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 43). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

There follows a litany of Donald Trump’s obvious fabrications:

We had a long list of out-and-out lies, too, like the candidate’s claim that there were pan-Islamic legions celebrating wildly on the streets of New Jersey as the Twin Towers were aflame and collapsing. And then there was the moment Mr. Trump, hammering Obama-era political correctness, departed from prepared remarks to say that the neighbors of the San Bernardino terrorist couple, beyond seeing suspicious behavior, “saw bombs on the floor,” a claim for which there was absolutely no evidence.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 44). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I think it fair to say that the Trump campaign normalized lying to an unprecedented degree, and when pressed on specifics it routinely tried to delegitimize those who would disagree with countercharges about the “lyin’ media,” “intelligence” (in accusatory quotation marks), “so-called

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (pp. 44-45). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Nichols credits a 1999 study by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, research psychologists at Cornell, with driving home this point. Nichols writes, “The lack of metacognition sets up a vicious loop in which people who do not know much about a subject do not know when they’re in over their head . . . and there is no way to educate or inform people who, when in doubt, will make stuff up.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 46). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Nichols is Tom Nichols, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College.

The concept came to mind again when after a year in office the president riffed on climate change with British journalist Piers Morgan: “There is a cooling, and there’s a heating. I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place. The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records. They’re at a record level.”2 For the sake of history and science, I should add that arctic sea ice levels were at record lows as the president spoke (a generally well-known and accepted fact regardless of your views on human-caused climate change).

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 46). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

It really wasn’t clear that Mr. Trump actually wanted much advice anyway. He told MSNBC’s Morning Joe in March, “My primary consultant is myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff, I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain.”

He had earlier identified the source of his foreign policy thinking to Chuck Todd of NBC: “Well, I really watch the shows. You really see a lot of great, you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows, and you have the generals and you have certain people that you like.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 62). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

One of the complaints that we cataloged was that Mr. Trump “has shown no interest in educating himself. He continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics. Despite his lack of knowledge, Mr. Trump claims that he understands foreign

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 67). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The morning of the first Trump briefing on August 17, he was asked on Trump-friendly Fox News whether he trusted U.S. intelligence. He replied, “Not so much from the people that have been doing it for our country. I mean, . . . look what’s happened over the years. I mean, it’s been catastrophic. In fact, I won’t use some of the people that are standards—you know, just use them, use them, use them, very easy to use them, but I won’t use them because they’ve made such bad decisions.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 68). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The candidate started well: “I have great respect for the people that gave us the briefings . . . they were terrific people.” Indeed, one of the IC participants later told me that the candidate walked into the September 7 meeting with a decidedly respectful air, the way a layman would walk into a conference of experts or specialists. But then Mr. Trump alleged that despite the great advice these professionals had given them, “President Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who is another total disaster, did exactly the opposite.”

When pressed on how he knew that, the candidate responded, “In almost every instance. And I could tell you. I have pretty good with the body language [sic]. I could tell they were not happy. Our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 70). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Candidate Trump would have none of it: “I notice, anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians are. . . . Maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia is because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 72). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Rejecting a fact-based intelligence assessment—not because of compelling contrarian data, but because it was inconsistent with a preexisting worldview or because it was politically inconvenient—is the stuff of ideological authoritarianism, not pragmatic democracy. And for the American intelligence community, seeing that from someone who could be president would have been very discomfiting.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 72). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The president’s charge of “political hacks” at the head of the American intelligence community was part of a broader pattern. When the institutions of the American government refuse to kowtow to the president’s transient whim, he sets out to devalue and delegitimize them in a way rarely, if ever, seen before in our history. A free (but admittedly imperfect) press is “fake news,” unless, of course, it is Fox; the FBI is in “tatters,” led by a “nut job” director and conducting a “witch hunt”; the Department of Justice, and particularly the attorney general, is weak; the intelligence community, in addition to being led by political hacks, is “Nazi”-like; the courts are manned by “so called” judges. Even the National Football League and the Boy Scouts of America have had to defend their integrity against presidential attacks designed solely to protect the president’s brand.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 208). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

In early December, McMaster was again called on to defend the president, this time over his retweeting of three videos purporting to show gruesome Muslim violence against innocents that had been originally produced and captioned by a fringe anti-immigrant British group whose leader had been convicted of a Muslim hate crime. The Dutch embassy in Washington said that one of the videos showing its citizens was patently false, and British prime minister Theresa May condemned all of them, at the same time rebuking Trump for endorsing them.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 213). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

That was clear in February when Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee approved a memo written for and signed by their chairman, Devin Nunes, charging the FBI and the Department of Justice with malpractice and politicization for using the notorious Steele dossier to get a FISA warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Most folks like me condemned the memo’s thin four pages, especially its injection of hyperpartisanship into what has historically been a matter between career intelligence or law enforcement professionals and the federal courts. The memo was also misleadingly silent with regard to other evidence presented to the FISA judge beyond the Steele dossier and was almost immediately contradicted by press reports that the judge had indeed been aware of the political motivation behind those bankrolling Steele.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 217). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

A healthy skepticism teaches that theories (i.e., current truths) are only temporary tools, subject to inquiry and observation, but this is the only path to knowledge, which is—in the Nobel tradition—the only course to betterment. Hence the alarm was sounded at the beginning of the day by Lars Heikensten, executive director of the Nobel Foundation, that “knowledge and pure facts are being questioned.” Ebadi, the Iranian activist, later warned that “cruelty to man begins with cruelty to words”; she cited “Islam” as a code word for misogyny, “nationalism” for xenophobia, “globalization” for closed factories, but there could have been many other examples.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (pp. 221-222). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

That theme and the apparent bottomlessness of presidential behavior were borne out two weeks later when, as much of the country was embarking for holiday destinations and the president was landing at Mar-a-Lago, Trump pressed the narrative that the FBI was in “tatters,” the Russia plot was a “hoax,” and Bob Mueller’s investigation was a “witch hunt.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 227). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And this president at various times has signaled his distrust, questioned the credibility, risked the capabilities, and downplayed the value of his intelligence community and, after ten months in office, when asked about vacancies in various foreign policy positions that historically have advised the White House, famously responded that this shouldn’t be a concern because “I’m the only one that matters.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 244). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Coverage extends beyond an analysis of Donald Trump’s lies. Much is devoted to intelligence analysis of Russia’s (Vladimir Putin’s) grand campaign to influence the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton and ultimately in support of candidate Trump. There is also coverage of fringe players who cooked up imaginative scenarios and the politicians, prior to Trump, who played into them. Famous are Jade Helm and the concoctions of Bill Binney.

Jade Helm has since become a focus of mirth here in Texas and something used to pummel Republican Governor Greg Abbott:

It’s over, readers and fellow Texans. The greatest attempted power grab and threat to civil liberties since the Civil war is over, and vigilant Texans have prevailed. Jade Helm 15, the contrived “military exercise” that flooded Texas and other states with federal troops, concluded on September 15th. And Obama lost, again.

I cautioned of The Gathering Storm a few weeks ago:

GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT
April 28, 2015

Major General Gerald “Jake” Betty
Commander, Texas State Guard
Texas Military Forces
2200 West 35th Street
Austin, Texas 78763

Dear General Betty:

To address concerns of Texas citizens and to ensure that Texas communities remain safe, secure and informed about military procedures occurring in their vicinity, I am directing the Texas State Guard to monitor Operation Jade Helm 15. During the Operation’s eight-week training period from July 2015 to September 2015, I expect to receive regular updates on the progress and safety of the Operation.

During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed. By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.

U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has assured Texas that each location selected for training exercises will pose no risk to residents or property and that they will coordinate with local residents via verbal and written communication.

Directing the State Guard to monitor the Operation will allow Texas to be informed of the details of military personnel movements and training exercise schedules, and it will give us the ability to quickly and effectively communicate with local communities, law enforcement, public safety personnel and citizens.

The action I take today comes with the recognition of Texas’ long history of supporting our military forces and our proud tradition of training, deploying and supporting our active-duty troops and returning veterans. As Governor, I have the utmost respect for the deep patriotism of the brave military men and women who put their lives en the line to fight for and defend out freedom. I remain certain that our military members will keep America the freest and strongest nation the world has ever known.

Binney is a former CIA official, more lately a hair’s-on-fire conspiracy theorist for conservative outlets:

Binney is known for making the claim that the NSA collects and stores information about every U.S. communication. Binney was invited as a witness by the NSA commission of the German Bundestag. On July 3, 2014 Der Spiegel wrote, he said that the NSA wanted to have information about everything. In Binney’s view this is a totalitarian approach, which had previously been seen only in dictatorships. Binney stated that the goal was to control people. Meanwhile, he said that it is possible in principle to monitor the whole population, abroad and in the U.S., which in his view contradicts the United States Constitution.

In August 2014 Binney was among the signatories of an open letter by the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity to German chancellor Angela Merkel in which they urged the Chancellor to be suspicious of U.S. intelligence regarding the alleged invasion of Russia in Eastern Ukraine. In the open letter, the group said:

[A]ccusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

And that should be enough to get you interested in reading the book. It’s fresh, out earlier this year, and the Kindle edition is $15 ($14.99 plus tax). General Hayden is a clean writer, and the narrative flows effortlessly. His experience is deep, and this is the book shows this.

The book touches on a number of issues, but one I found to be close to me:

One evangelical leader (Reverend John Hagee, pastor of a San Antonio megachurch) labeled support for Israel “God’s foreign policy”11 and personally lobbied President Trump to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 52). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Yes, I receive Reverend Hagee’s newsletter headed Christians United for Israel (CUFI), finding time to comment on occasion:

Hagee has pointed out the correct solution was right under our noses all along. What fools we were:

On his Hagee Hotline show, Pastor Matthew Hagee told his listeners that climate change is not man made, but was foretold in the Bible as a sign that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, according to Right Wing Watch. Hagee points out that the reports by scientists indicating the climate change can attributed to man made causes should not be believed because “in another place in scripture it says, ‘let God be true, and every man be a liar’.” Citing Matthew 25, where the Bible says that “strange weather patterns” would emerge prior to the arrival of Jesus, Hagee says we must take the word of God over men, “who are wrong, in spite of their education, in spite of their expertise, in spite of their philosophy. Whomever, and whatever, contradicts the word of God, is not correct.” Hagee goes on to explain that man should not waste time trying to “make everything as clean in the air as possible,” and that time would be better spent telling people about the return of Jesus. “The Bible says that whenever we approach the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strange weather patterns,” Ha[g]ee explained. “Jesus said this in Matthew the twenty-fifth chapter. So we have a decision to make: do we believe what an environmentalist group says and choose to live in a world where we’re attempting to make everything as clean in the air as possible, or do we believe what the Bible says, that these things were going to happen and that rather than try to clean up all of the air and solve all of the problems of the world by eliminating factories, we should start to tell people about Jesus Christ who is to return?”

See? All these stupid scientists had to do was to read Matthew (no relation) 25. Actually, it is Matthew 24 that describes these events, but what’s a chapter or two among biblical scholars?

And there’s more. Use the Search box at the top of this page to read more fascinating stuff about wacked out Reverend Hagee.