Category Archives: History


Get together with friends and celebrate the 48th anniversary tonight. Bill Simon and I will be on The Space Show at 7 PM Pacific to discuss it.

[Update a while later]

Here’s what I wrote on the 40th anniversary. It still holds up pretty well, I think.

[Update early afternoon]

There’s a new version of the ceremony on line now.

[Late-afternoon update]

Seeing comments out there on the Interwebs that Nixon canceled Apollo. No, it happened in 1967, by Congress. Before he was elected. For those of you unfamiliar with the post-Apollo history under Nixon, John Logsdon’s latest book is a good read. Funded by Bill Anders, it’s probably the definitive history at this point. He’s currently working on the space history of the Reagan administration, which I wrote about at the time of Reagan’s passing.

[Friday-morning update]

The Space Show we did last night has been archived.

Nancy MacLean

Is she the new Michael Bellesiles?

It’s very important to the Left to try to make the case that conservatives are racist, even with fake history, not only to smear them, but to cover up their own long history of racism, which continues even to this day.

[Wednesday-morning update]

Well, this is brutal, but fair:

Once I realized that this was the approach, the larger point became clear: Democracy in Chains is a work of speculative historical fiction. There is considerable research underpinning the speculation, and since MacLean is careful about footnoting only things that actually did happen she cannot be charged with fabricating facts. But most of the book, and all of its substantive conclusions, are idiosyncratic interpretations of the facts that she selects from a much larger record, as is common in the speculative-history genre. There is nothing wrong about speculation, of course, but there is nothing persuasive about it either, in terms of drawing reliable conclusions about history.

The reason that Democracy in Chains is remarkable is that it is such a great story. The evil mastermind of the secretive “Public Choice” movement, James M. Buchanan, was the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. MacLean is able to decode the true meaning of his mostly rather bland, academic-ese writings, after which Buchanan achieves the status of a Bond villain. Buchanan sought nothing less than to bring down the America we all love, and replace it with a plutocracy. The account is rendered plausible by MacLean’s excellence as a writer.

The problem with history, of course, is that many narratives about a few cherry-picked events and documents are “plausible.” The task of the historian is to try to distinguish among plausible accounts “through careful sifting of evidence and respectful encounters with opposing points of view.” There is none of that here. Even a casual familiarity with the basic facts of James Buchanan’s life and scholarship, and of the growth and success of the Public Choice movement, reveal far simpler, and more plausible, explanations.

…MacLean’s thesis really does read like a plot line that Ian Fleming rejected for a Bond novel: “No, that’s nuts. Let’s go back to the idea where a nuclear missile blows up the moon and changes the orbit of the Earth, causing earthquakes that allow recovery of hidden oil reserves and diamonds. That’s more plausible.” Nevertheless, the narrative thread connecting the documents and discussions that MacLean has selected from the much larger and more equivocal record does indeed have this structure, and that is what we are evaluating.

It’s long, but worth the read, if you want to actually understand Buchanan, public choice and libertarianism.

Clinton’s Emails

Byron York: What campaign wouldn’t have wanted to get them?

It was, as the New York Times’ Mark Landler said in August 2016, the “original sin” of the Clinton email affair — that Clinton herself, and no independent body, unilaterally decided which emails she would hand over to the State Department and which she would delete.

Still, there were people who did not believe that Clinton’s deleted emails, all 30,000-plus of them, were truly gone. What is ever truly gone on the Internet? And what if Clinton were not telling the truth? What if she deleted emails covering more than just personal matters? In that event, recovering the emails would have rocked the 2016 presidential campaign.

So, if there were an enormous trove of information potentially harmful to a presidential candidate just sitting out there — what opposing campaign wouldn’t want to find it?

I certainly still want to see them. And I still want to see a special prosecutor appointed to do (unlike Comey’s) a proper investigation.

The problem for the Trump defenders (and after last week, I hesitate to bring the issue up again), is that the campaign spent months vociferously denying that they were colluding with the Russians to get this kind of information while simultaneously doing everything possible (other than saying they weren’t) to make it look as though they were, including Trump’s own public request of Putin almost a year ago to hack her and find the emails. His defenders now say there was nothing wrong about going to Russia for oppo research. OK, fine. If there was nothing wrong, why have they spent so much energy denying that they did so?

I hate to say what I would do if I were Trump, because, obviously, if I were Trump, I’d do all the stupid things that Trump does. But if I were someone in Trump’s position here’s what I would have done. I’d have given the following speech:

One of the reasons that I won this election is because my opponent was not only a terrible candidate with awful policies, but recognizably corrupt. And not only was, and is, she corrupt, but so was the previous administration that in addition to siccing the IRS on its political enemies while covering up the crime, refused to properly investigate her, and tied the hands of the FBI director in his investigation.

Because she did all she could to destroy all those emails, we have no idea what was in them that she so feared us finding, but the public still deserves to know. If getting them from the Russians was the only way to get them, then that was the price that had to be paid, to begin to restore the integrity of the American government, and I make no apologies for that.

But I’m not Trump.

[Update a few minutes later]

Speaking of Clinton corruption, I’m sure that this is just a coinkidinky: Haiti official who exposed the Clinton Crime Family Foundation’s criminality and was going to expose much more next week “commits suicide.” Sure he did.

Oh, and a reminder from a year ago. Sad how being associated with the Clintons (and/or investigating them) makes so many people so despondent that they have to take their own lives.

[Update a few minutes later]

For those too young to remember, how the press ignored or helped cover up Clinton corruption two decades ago. Democrat operatives with bylines.

The sprawling fundraising scandal ultimately led to 22 guilty pleas on various violations of election laws. Among the Clinton fundraisers and friends who pleaded guilty were John Huang, Charlie Trie, James Riady, and Michael Brown, son of the late Clinton Commerce secretary Ron Brown. But many questions went unanswered, even after the revelations that Clinton had personally authorized offering donors Oval Office meetings and use of the Lincoln bedroom. A total of 120 participants in the fundraising scandal either fled the country, asserted their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, or otherwise avoided questioning. The stonewalling worked — and probably encouraged Hillary Clinton in her own cover-up of her private e-mail server and her ties with the Clinton Foundation.

Read more at:

The nineties were when I finally lost any vestige of support for Democrats I’d ever had.

[Update a few more minutes later]

Subpoena Fusion GPS:

Isn’t it interesting that a Russian-born American lobbyist with a Soviet counter-intelligence background just happens to have been tied to Fusion GPS?

The depth of corruption in DC is staggering. Trump was elected in part to drain that swamp, but he seems too incompetent to do it.

[Update a couple minutes later:

Which theory is harder to believe?

That Trump, who had never run for office before and who was panned as a clown by the Democrats and the media right up until Election Night last November, orchestrated a grand coup d’état with the assistance of the Russians to “hack” an American election, and that it was so well hidden that the Don Junior meeting is the only real evidence unearthed so far of the whole thing?

…Or that the Obama administration and the Democratic Party used their immense power to attempt to ensnare the Trumps in a damaging narrative that would either discredit him and the Republican Party as traitors in the event of a Clinton victory or cripple his administration in “scandal” should he pull an upset?

This is going to get very messy for the Democrats, I hope.

Trump And Russia

Yes, the benefit of the doubt is gone. And I agree with this:

Why on God’s good Earth would you defend any of this? Since I’ve been having this ridiculous argument all week, let me skip ahead. Yes, “Crooked Hillary,” Ted Kennedy, and a host of other liberals did bad things. Whether those bad things were analogous to this is highly debatable. But let’s just concede the point for argument’s sake. Let’s also accept the president’s grotesquely cynical and false claim that pretty much anyone in politics would have done the same thing and taken the meeting. (I for one am perfectly happy to concede that Sidney Blumenthal would happily have done equally sleazy things for his Queen-master. But I have every confidence that if some shady Russian cutouts approached, say, James Baker with a similar scheme to “incriminate” Michael Dukakis, he would become a helicopter of fists.)

But here’s the thing: Who gives a dirty rat’s ass? If you spent years — like I did, by the way — insisting that the Clintons were a corrupt affront to political decency, invoking their venal actions as a moral justification for Team Trump’s actions is the rhetorical equivalent of a remake of Waterworld set entirely in the main vat of a sewage-treatment plant, i.e., the intellectual Mother of Sh*t Shows. This is a point Ben Shapiro made well earlier this week (and which I’ve been writing about for two years now). If you want to make the case that Democrats or the media are hypocrites, whataboutism is perfectly valid (and quite fun). But if you want to say that it’s fine for Trump to do things you considered legally and morally outrageous when Hillary Clinton did them, you should either concede that you believe two wrongs make a right or you should apologize for being angry about what Clinton did. And you should be prepared to have no right to complain when the next Democrat gets into power and does the same thing.

When Trump does something good, I’ll praise him. When he does something stupid and dubious, I’ll call him on it. I am consistent in my insistence that public officials be held to the same standards as the rest of us.

I wouldn’t mind him being impeached and removed, or even prosecuted, but if either of those things happen, I’ll be incandescent in my outrage if the investigation against her is not renewed and finally done properly, so she can finally be accountable to the law. I’m still glad she lost, but I will not worship this gang of ethically challenged incompetents.

[Saturday-morning update]

Wow, the comments sections is under attack by an army of strawmen.

Here’s what I didn’t say and what I don’t believe. I don’t believe that he is plotting with Putin against the United States. I don’t believe that he’s Hitler. I don’t believe that he is plotting to undermine democracy. I don’t believe he should be impeached (yet). I don’t even believe that he committed a crime (at least with regard to the Russian stuff). If I were as under the sway of the media as some fools fantasize, I would believe all these things.

All I (and Jonah) said is that, for months, we’ve been told by Trump supporters that any suggestion that the campaign had colluded (that is, had meetings with them to discuss how they could help elect Trump) with the Russians was “fake news.” For months, given the absence of evidence, we have given them the benefit of the doubt, despite all of the smoke, and the continuing changing stories (sometimes daily, which continues even now, with the number of attendees at the meeting continuing to grow). So now we know that we can do so no longer on this particular issue. I don’t believe this because I’ve been brainwashed by the media. This is not a position I came to from Trump hatred (though I continue to find him loathesome). I came to this rational, objective position because Trump’s idiot namesake told me that he colluded with the Russians (albeit unsuccessfully in terms of getting the desired Hillary dirt), even if he didn’t use that word.

But apparently (as with Obama) no criticism, no matter how objective, no matter how fact based, of the God King will be brooked by his acolytes. I don’t suffer in any way from Trump derangement, but apparently many of both his opponents and his supporters clearly do.

[Late-morning update]

“This isn’t Watergate. This isn’t treason. And there’s still no smoking gun.”

Oops, guess I shouldn’t have noted this, because according to my brilliant commenters, I’ve been brainwashed by the media (which I in fact find even more despicable than Trump).

[Afternoon update]

BTW, this is why I don’t post about Trump all that much. It’s impossible to have a sane conversation about him with both his opponents and defenders.

[Sunday-morning update]

I see that Ken continues to insult my intelligence in comments because I had and continue to have the temerity to criticize his God King in any way.