December 23, 2009

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In the WSJ, Julia Vitullo writes about Kings College Chapel at Cambridge and some of its surprising features.

Praised by the poet William Wordsworth in 1820 as “this immense and glorious work of fine intelligence,” King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England, is the product of an extraordinary combination of royal commitment, turbulent religious politics, violent civil wars, vicious labor disputes, superb medieval craftsmanship, and engineering that has never been replicated and is still not fully understood today. The historian Francis Woodman, author of “The Architectural History of King’s College Chapel,” calls it “the English building of the late Middle Ages, every element capturing the artistic and political revolution of its time.”

The chapel is indeed immense, with an outside measurement of 310 feet from turret to turret, each of which is 146 feet high. The interior—289 feet long and 40 feet wide—is dominated by the celebrated fan vault ceiling, whose equidistantly spaced curved ribs radiate up and away, forming a series of huge half cones. The largest fan vault in the world and estimated to weigh 1,875 tons, it is “an unfathomable piece of beautiful technology,” Mr. Woodman says. Modern engineers have not been able to work out how the master-mason John Wastell put the fan vault into place, though Mr. Woodman says “we know he built it from the top down.” Wordsworth poetically described the engineering feat as “that branching roof self-poised.”

Each side of the chapel has 12 large stained-glass windows that are said to constitute, along with the eastern window of Golgotha, the most important collection of pre-Reformation windows in Britain, often prompting the question of why they were not destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s men in the 1640s. The presence of defaced porcelain saints, decapitated statues and erased brasses makes it clear that the Iconoclasts had indeed been through. But then, perhaps survival of the windows is not surprising, since the chapel had itself been conceived in the midst of dynastic struggles and blood-thirsty conflicts, says Carola Hicks, author of “The King’s Glass: A Study of Tudor Power and Secret Art.” …

John Bolton tells us why Dick Cheney is the Human Events’ Conservative of the Year.

…How is it, therefore, that someone who has no political ambitions can cause so much angst at the White House and in the mainstream news media? The irrefutable answer is that what Cheney is saying, primarily on foreign policy, defense and anti-terrorism, makes sense to more and more American citizens growing increasingly worried by the Obama Administration’s insouciance when U.S. national interests are threatened, both at home and abroad. Since the only real, long-term way to deal with persuasive positions on substantive policy matters is to refute them with sounder policy arguments, it is not hard to understand why the Obama White House is near panic. Where are they going to go to find a better policy inside his administration? …

…Perhaps most importantly of all, Cheney knows that the personal attacks on him, as offensive as they are, in reality constitute stark evidence that Obama and his supporters are simply unable to match him in the substantive policy debate. An old lawyers’ cliché says: “If the law is against you, pound on the facts; if the facts are against you, pound on the law; if the law and the facts are against you, pound on the table.” Obama and his supporters are doing the political equivalent of continuous table-pounding, because that’s basically all they have to offer. Cheney’s unwillingness to be deterred by the media assaults on his character, his judgment and his performance in office are therefore his most impressive force multiplier with the general public. Outside-the-Beltway Americans see him for exactly what he is: a very experienced, very dedicated patriot, giving his fellow citizens his best analysis on how to keep them and their country safe.

Cheney’s quiet, inner-directed motivation is simply impervious to the attacks orchestrated against him by the Chicago machine-style politicians at the White House, a fact also plainly visible to his fellow citizens. And it is yet another important reason to have confidence that Cheney’s solid policy analysis will yet prevail in the national political arena. Of course he is the conservative of the year!

While we’re watching ObamaCare, the administration is weakening our country elsewhere too.  Andy McCarthy provides details on some of the Gitmo detainees release to Yemen, Afghanistan and Somaliland. Makes you yearn for Cheney.

… At least one of the released terrorists, a Somali named Abdullahi Sudi Arale (aka Ismail Mahmoud Muhammad), was released notwithstanding the military’s designation of him as a “high-value detainee” (a label that has been applied only to top-tier terrorist prisoners — and one that fits in this case given Arale’s status as a point of contact between al-Qaeda’s satellites in East Africa and Pakistan).

And then there is the appearance of impropriety. As Tom Joscelyn explains, the Justice Department has taken the lead role in making release determinations — the military command at Gitmo has “zero input” and “zero influence,” in its own words. DOJ is rife with attorneys who represented and advocated for the detainees, and, in particular, Attorney General Holder’s firm, represented numerous Yemeni enemy combatants. Does Justice not appreciate not only how perilous but how unseemly it appears under the circumstances for it to be leading the charge to release the Yemeni detainees? And could anyone really believe that the supposedly noxious symbolism of Gitmo is more dangerous to Americans than is deporting terrorists to the places where terrorism thrives?

John Stossel gives us the lowdown on the pork the Senate leadership had to hand out to buy the votes they needed for Obamacare.

So, how exactly did Senate leadership persuade the few remaining Democrats who were dragging their heels? By appealing to their principles, of course. reports:

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., won between $100 million and $300 million in additional federal aid for her state’s Medicaid population. The deal, secured before she cast her critical vote in favor of bringing the health bill to the floor, was immediately dubbed the “Louisiana Purchase,”  though the actual Louisiana Purchase was considerably cheaper.

… Florida, New York and Pennsylvania — where five of six senators are Democrats — will have their seniors’ Medicare Advantage benefits protected, even as the program sees massive cuts elsewhere.

… Nebraska’s [Sen. Ben Nelson] won permanent federal aid for his state’s expanded Medicaid population, a benefit worth up to $100 million over 10 years. Other states get the federal aid for three years, but Nebraska’s benefit is indefinite.

If the health care bill were really about life and death, it wouldn’t take earmarks to get votes. …

Jennifer Rubin comments on the political partisanship that has characterized the making of Obamacare.

On Sunday, the New York Times fessed up:

“Nasty charges of bribery. Senators cut off mid-speech. Accusations of politics put over patriotism. Talk of double-crosses. A nonagenarian forced out after midnight for multiple procedural votes.In the heart of the holiday season, Senate Republicans and Democrats are at one another’s throats as the health care overhaul reaches its climactic votes, one of which is set for 1 a.m. Monday. A year that began with hopes of new post-partisanship has indeed produced change: Things have gotten worse.”

Well, yes they have. How did we get to this point? Well, for starters, Obama, who ran on his determination to transcend partisan divisions, remained a passive and aloof figure when it came to the drafting and the details, allowing partisan passions to run wild. His sole concern was winning, not building a broad-based coalition for revolutionary legislation. Indeed, he contributed to partisan furies by labeling opponents as confused and misinformed and by repeating a series of partisan and baseless accusations against Republicans (the principal one — that they had “no alternative” — was easily disproved by the plethora of conservative plans and proposals). Obama had a reason for proceeding in this way — he wanted to rely on the muscle of large Democratic majorities to obtain the most liberal bill he could get. …

In the New York Daily News, Michael Goodwin voices what many are thinking.

I am a baby boomer, which is to say my life has coincided with turbulent and awesome times. From the Cold War to Vietnam, from Watergate to Monicagate, through the horrors of 9/11 and the stunning lifestyle advances, my generation’s era has been historic and exciting.

Yet for all the drama and change, the years only occasionally instilled in me the sensation I feel almost constantly now. I am afraid for my country.

I am afraid — actually, certain — we are losing the heart and soul that made America unique in human history. Yes, we have enemies, but the greatest danger comes from within.

Watching the freak show in Copenhagen last week, I was alternately furious and filled with dread. The world has gone absolutely bonkers and lunatics are in charge.  …

George Will reviews Copenhagen and Obamacare.

It was serendipitous to have almost simultaneous climaxes in Copenhagen and Congress. The former’s accomplishment was indiscernible, the latter’s was unsightly.

It would have been unprecedented had the president not described the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change summit as “unprecedented,” that being the most overworked word in his hardworking vocabulary of self-celebration. Actually, the mountain beneath the summit — a mountain of manufactured hysteria, predictable cupidity, antic demagoguery and dubious science — labored mightily and gave birth to a mouselet, a 12-paragraph document committing the signatories to . . . make a list.  …

Thomas Sowell notes the lack of media interest in climategate. When it comes to whistleblowers, it depends whose ox is gored.

…When a business accused of fraud begins shredding its memos and deleting its e-mails, the media are quick to proclaim these actions as signs of guilt. But, after the global warming advocates began a systematic destruction of evidence, the big television networks went for days without even reporting these facts, much less commenting on them.

As for politicians, Senator Barbara Boxer has urged prosecution of the hackers who uncovered and revealed the e-mails! People who have in the past applauded whistleblowers in business, in the military, or in Republican administrations, and who lionized the New York Times for publishing the classified Pentagon papers, are now shocked and outraged that someone dared to expose massive evidence of manipulations, concealment and destruction of data — and deliberate cover-ups of all this — in the global warming establishment. …

…People who talk about the corrupting influence of money seem to automatically assume that it is only private money that is corrupting. But, when governments have billions of dollars invested in the global warming crusade, massive programs underway and whole political careers at risk if that crusade gets undermined, do not expect the disinterested search for truth.

Among the intelligentsia, there have always been many who are ready to jump on virtually any bandwagon that will take them to the promised land, where the wise and noble few — like themselves — can take the rest of us poor dummies in hand and tell us how we had better change the way we live our lives. …

Roger Simon was in Copenhagen. He had some thoughts on the way back.

… Yes, it’s comical, but it’s quite worrisome, if you examine the true game afoot. Copenhagen was intended as an important advance toward world governance. On the face of it, it’s a beautiful idea. When I was younger, I was highly attracted to it. But my up-close-and-personal encounters with the UN have turned that attraction to near revulsion. It’s very clear that under global government – because of its size and natural inefficiencies – accountability is nigh on to impossible, transparency nothing but a distant dream, very often not even desired. In short, it’s 1984. And COP15 was just that – legions staring at world leaders on Jumbotrons as they blathered platitudes, while negotiations were conducted behind closed doors. (That’s bad enough in our Congress, but on a global scale…?)

Well, now jet lag is setting in, so I’m going to shut down for the moment. But I will add that, perhaps fortuitously, my long voyage home (9 1/2 hours from Copenhagen to Atlanta, another 4 from Atlanta to LA) finally gave me ample undisturbed time to finish a book I had wanted to read for a long time – F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. How apropos it turned out to be. Hayek had a lot of this figured out in 1944. I recommend to all who haven’t taken the time. It’s just a sign of my own indoctrination that I had read Marx, Marcuse, Gramsci, etc., etc. first

Scrappleface says we’re gonna cut carbon with ‘cash for cardigans.’

President Barack Obama has acknowledged that his new $23 billion weatherization subsidy program will merely slow the leakage of heat from homes.

So today the president introduced what the White House calls “phase II” of an overall program to completely eliminate carbon emissions from residential buildings.


The $37 billion “cash for cardigans” program will help homeowners to pay for sweaters, cardigans, housecoats, even Snuggies (the blanket with sleeves, As Seen on TV), so that they can dial back the thermostat to a setting that would require combustion of fossil fuels “only during the most frigid episodes of global cooling.” …

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