Category Archive: These Are The Crazy Years

Let us now denigrate famous men

It occurs to me that every step taken to blot out the historical record by pulling down monuments and removing commemorative plaques, or rewriting history to teach that great men who happened to have flaws were simply flawed, and not great at all, misses the point of why we honor and remember them in the first place.  And reminds me that those men will never be forgotten by true patriots and lovers of liberty, regardless of how many statues are toppled and memorials are erased from human view.

Sure, Washington and Jefferson and many of the other Founding Fathers were slaveholders.  Benjamin Franklin, one of the most famous American Freemasons after George Washington himself, inventor, publisher, man of science, etc., was also known as (or was at least alleged to be) a great rake, who enjoyed the voluptuous and frequent company of women not his wife.  John Dickinson, a member of the Continental Congress while it debated the great question of Independence, refused to sign that document, because he saw himself as a British subject, not as a rebellious colonial, and believed that the issues between the colonies and Great Britain could be worked out without resorting to the clash of arms — yet he returned home to Pennsylvania and took up arms against the British invaders regardless, being made a brigadier general of the Pennsylvania Militia, and fought with honor even as he was denigrated for his attitude on independence.

[Edit 11/3/2017 to add:] Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence with all of its soaring words about freedom and liberty and the rights of man, was nevertheless a slave-holder.  Yet he nearly derailed the adoption of his own magnum opus (and the cause of independence with it) over his insistence that it must include a passage charging George III with perpetuating the slave trade, stating in part, “This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain” — a passage he was forced, in the end, to remove, in order to gain the acquiescence of the Southern colonies.  And he railed against slavery all of his life, while keeping his own slaves to work his land until he freed them all at his death — a pragmatic and somewhat cynical nod to the idea that he would not survive financially if he had to pay them for their labor.  Yet today he is scorned by some not only because he was a slave-holder, but because (reputedly, and backed up to some extent by genetic research) he had the gall to dally with one of his slaves (and produce children with her) after the death of his beloved wife Martha.  The people who huff about his relationship with Sally Hemings usually tend to class him along with common rapists, claiming that as a slave, she had no choice in the matter.1

Benedict Arnold was a great general and leader of men, and also a traitor.  He is remembered today more for the latter than for the former, but readers of history know that his leadership was crucial to American victories before he turned his coat.  As much as Americans despise a traitor, we yet remember him, even as we spit at his name.

Robert E. Lee served the United States honorably, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army before the Civil War began.  This was in a day and age when the loyalty of many a man remained primarily to his state rather than to the United States as a whole, because that was how the Federal Constitution was written.2  His family held slaves; he was a slaveholder.  Yet he fought honorably for his state and ultimately for the Confederacy to which his state had cleaved, not for the institution of slavery per se.  At the end of the Civil War, he did the best he could for the men who served under him, urging them to sign the amnesty petition and not to take to the hills as guerrilla fighters continuing to battle for the Cause, now irrevocably lost.  He himself petitioned for amnesty and signed the amnesty oath, not that it did him any good; his amnesty oath (dated October 2, 1865) would be lost for over a hundred years and finally found bundled with a stack of State Department papers in the National Archives in 1970.  His status as a full citizen of the United States was restored posthumously in 1975, backdated to the date on the amnesty petition, June 13, 1865.  That it took so long for this to happen was simply a matter of malice and spite, as the Secretary of State at the time could simply have approved it and been done.  But that wasn’t the way William Seward operated.  And Lee wasn’t going to ask twice.

Ask any grunt Southern soldier why he was fighting the Yankees.  He would have told you it was for his rights.  He didn’t own any slaves, and he wasn’t the rich owner of a big plantation (if he was lucky, he might be a sharecropper farming 40 rented acres and his family nearly starving to death in the process).  But he had a sense of honor, and that sense of honor had been pricked by a bunch of damn Yankees trying to tell his state, and by extension, him, how to live — and then having the gall to make war on him to force him to live that way.3

On the other hand, we practically deify Abraham Lincoln — or we did till the other day, anyway — for freeing the slaves and saving the Union, yet Lincoln himself said that if he could save the Union without freeing a single slave, he would do so.

But ask any Northerner of the day — or any Millennial alive today who has had the misfortune to be educated in our public schools and universities — why the South seceded and went to war, and they’ll tell you it was because of slavery.

Because slavery was evil, and the men who owned slaves were evil, and the South was beaten and the Confederacy destroyed because the righteous Northerners were on a crusade to stomp out slavery, that horrendous institution originated by Americans —

Well, now, wait a minute.

They can believe that all they want, but the fact of the matter is, slavery has been an institution in the world since Og bashed Gog over the head with a club and forced him to do his bidding.  All of the early civilizations utilized slavery.  The Greeks and the Romans, those great democrats and republicans, had slaves.  Egyptians had ’em — who built the Pyramids?  Jews have an entire holiday dedicated to their escape from Egyptian slavery.  And the list goes on.  There is practically no civilization in history, up until modern times, that didn’t institutionalize slavery in some form or another.4  And slavery, institutionalized or not, continues to be a problem all over the world.

The African slaves who made it to American shores were, like as not, members of tribes conquered by other tribes and then sold by their conquerers to the white men in the ships, who rarely if ever ventured past the beach.  Arab slavers from northern Africa had no scruples about buying the human spoils of tribal wars, either, and then selling them on to whoever would pony up the price.

The slave trade to the Americas largely withered after the British Navy began its official policy of suppression.  Moreover, the importation of slaves into the United States ceased as of 1808, due to the agreement by the Founding Fathers that after that date, the Congress could prohibit it.  (It’s in the Constitution.  See Article I, Section 9.)  So after 1808, slaveholders were limited to the slaves they had on hand — not that slaves couldn’t procreate, but look, folks, that’s a slow process of increase no matter what.  Certainly it’s a lot slower than bringing slaves in by the shipload to Charleston or Savannah.

OK, so what?  What about these supposedly great men who nevertheless owned slaves?  How can we honor them as great Founders or heroes when they lived high and mighty off the labor and sweat of men who were not free?  That’s offensive to modern sensibilities!

With all due respect:  Fuck your modern sensibilities.

When I was in college, as a history major and later as a graduate student of history, I was taught that in order to do history properly, one had to leave their preconceived notions at the door and rely solely on the historical record as it was presented in primary texts and the physical record.  Even secondary texts were suspect, to a degree, because they were subject to the author’s bias.  The late historian Paul Fussell embodied the philosophy in this way:

Understanding the past requires pretending that you don’t know the present. It requires feeling its own pressure on your pulses without any ex post facto illumination.

The fact is that these were all men of honor — even Arnold, until his treason (which was largely the fault of his overly-large, insufficiently-stroked ego), and Lee (who believed in a Cause — namely, the defense of what he saw as the rights of the people to live as they saw fit, not as some faceless government ordained).  The further fact is that slavery was simply what it was.  No slave owner was in the business of oppression for oppression’s sake, unless he was simply a sadist who didn’t care that he was laying waste to his own personal economy.  Indeed, by the time the Civil War rolled around and put paid to slavery (not to mention the lives of well over 600,000 Americans on both sides), there’s a good historical chance that slavery would have ended on its own within another generation.  That’s because farming cotton or any other crop was going to be financially ruinous to the plantation owners who tried to do so with slave labor, as opposed to their competitors who could get a lot more done for a lot less money by investing in mechanization.5  Prior to Sumter, it wasn’t the government or the Army that was going to end slavery, it was Eli Whitney’s cotton gin.

“So, Mr. Curmudgeon,” you say, “are you really saying that it would have been better to let slavery run on for another 30 or 40 years than to end it right then and there in 1865?  What kind of monster are you, anyway?”

First, I ain’t no monster.  Second, yes, that is precisely what I’m saying.  It would have been better because it would have been gradual.  It would have (in my opinion) prevented the rise of the Klan; it would have prevented the disaster known as Reconstruction; it would have resulted in better relations between the races; and it would not have resulted in the deaths of so many fine American men on the field of battle.  Think of the possibilities:  No Jim Crow.  No Brown v. Board.  No need to send the National Guard in to ensure that black children could attend public schools.  No Civil Rights Act (it wouldn’t have been needed, because it was already anticipated by the 14th Amendment).  No Great Society (which wasn’t needed anyway; it just made things worse).  No inner-city ghettos (to my point).

Possibly a lot fewer bigots on both sides of the race divide.6

And none of this burning desire to destroy history simply because it makes people feel icky.  Man up, for God’s sake.

But back to my point about men of honor.

Let’s look at the Founding Fathers.  Men of honor, most of them veterans of the Revolution, the ones who weren’t (because of age or whatever reason) were nevertheless viewed as respected philosophers and thinkers of the day.

They devised a system of government that served us well until certain elements subverted its clear meaning in order to enslave the people.

They were, as a group, probably the most amazing assemblage of intellect and reason since … since … well, since ever.  And certainly no similar group has appeared since.  (Possibly they were all aliens, or time travelers from the far future.  Who knows?)

Certainly they had more honesty and integrity in their little fingers than our entire current Congress has in all 535 of its bodies.

They believed in freedom.  They believed in the truth of the Biblical verse that every man should sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and that none should be afraid.  They believed that all men were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that no king, prince, or potentate could deny those God-given rights.

Some of the slave owners among them vowed to free their slaves, and some of them did.  (We’ll not think less of them for waiting to do so until they had passed away.)

They had a vision of America as a shining city on a hill, a new Jerusalem, a new start for free men in a free society united by patriotism, brotherhood, and the love of God.

And because of all this, the places where they visited and certain items associated with them became almost holy.  Even if George Washington didn’t really sleep at your inn, you would be excused the untruth, because everyone revered Washington and knew that you must revere him, too, or you wouldn’t put up the sign that said he did.7

So you take a church in Alexandria, Virginia, where both George Washington and Robert Lee belonged and attended divine service.  In 1870, the year Lee died, the congregation thought enough of both men to erect plaques honoring them in the sanctuary of the church.  And nobody has said boo about that since that time (so far as we know).  But in 2017, with every liberal moron in the country screaming about how awful it is that we actually have statues and monuments honoring Confederate generals and soldiers and victories — because of all that awful slaveholding that most of them didn’t actually have any part of — now comes Christ Church of Alexandria with an announcement that those plaques, honoring two of their own former parishioners, will be removed sometime in the next year and will be relocated elsewhere in the church.

Just because both of them owned slaves, and I suppose because one of them fought a war that wasn’t really about slavery as much as it was about whether or not the Federal Constitution afforded states the kind of rights the Southern states believed it did — up to and including the right to say, “to hell with that,” and leave the Union.  After all, they had to agree to join the Union, and there’s nothing in the document that says they can’t leave.  The powers not enumerated in the Constitution are reserved to the States and to the people, and the document doesn’t say “no secession”.  Go look.  I’ll wait.8

But again, that’s not the point.

The members of the church in 1870 wanted the two men honored in the sanctuary.  What of their wishes?  What would they say if they could speak from their graves?

Remember what Fussell said.  You can’t understand history if you insist on looking at it through the biases of your own time and your own experiences.  If you think either man was unworthy of recognition because he owned slaves, your bias is showing.  You cannot respect those churchmen who decided to honor two of their own because you have refused to put yourself in their place.

Let us now praise famous men.

That is what they would have said, along with statements about honor and patriotism and forgiveness.  Turning the other cheek, and all that good stuff.  Accepting Lee’s remorse for what he had done.  Understanding that both men were men of their times — times in which slavery was acceptable, until suddenly it wasn’t.

Succeeding generations honored that legacy.

Until they didn’t.

And our history fades, monument by monument, statue by statue, plaque by plaque.  When they come for the history books, let me know; because our liberty won’t be far behind.

In volumes two and three of his magnum opus, The Civil War: A Narrative, Shelby Foote caused the following to be printed as an epigraph.

 

ALL THESE WERE HONOURED IN THEIR GENERATIONS AND WERE THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES
THERE BE OF THEM THAT HAVE LEFT A NAME BEHIND THEM
THAT THEIR PRAISES MIGHT BE REPORTED
AND SOME THERE BE WHICH HAVE NO MEMORIAL
WHO ARE PERISHED AS THOUGH THEY HAD NEVER BEEN
AND ARE BECOME AS THOUGH THEY HAD NEVER BEEN BORN
AND THEIR CHILDREN AFTER THEM
BUT THESE WERE MERCIFUL MEN
WHOSE RIGHTEOUSNESS HATH NOT BEEN FORGOTTEN
WITH THEIR SEED SHALL CONTINUALLY REMAIN
A GOOD INHERITANCE
AND THEIR CHILDREN ARE WITHIN THE COVENANT
THEIR SEED STANDETH FAST
AND THEIR CHILDREN FOR THEIR SAKES
THEIR SEED SHALL REMAIN FOR EVER
AND THEIR GLORY SHALL NOT BE BLOTTED OUT
THEIR BODIES ARE BURIED IN PEACE
BUT THEIR NAME LIVETH FOREVERMORE
Ecclesiasticus xliv

You may or may not recognize it.  I’ve alluded to the passage already, above:  “Let us now praise famous men” is its first verse.  This quote is verses 7 through 14.  It comes from the Apocrypha, the book called variously Ecclesiasticus, or The Wisdom of Sirach, and it must have struck a chord with Foote, as the second volume of his history is concerned with many battles between great armies, resulting in thousands of casualties and deaths — mostly of “some there be which have no memorial, who are perished as though they had never been born.”

Of Washington and Lee, and our other “famous men” of history, only the future can tell whether the same will be their fate.

Yet all these were honored in their generations, and were the glory of their times.

These were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten.

No matter how many monuments and statues and plaques and books are destroyed, as long as we remember them, their glory shall not be blotted out.  Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name liveth forevermore.

So mote it be.

_________________

1 Her descendants don’t seem to take this attitude, unless I’m missing something.

2 It still is, even though states have surrendered most of their autonomy to the Federal government.  While many Americans today inaccurately peg the beginning of that slide to FDR’s New Deal, in point of fact it began with Abraham Lincoln and the extension of federal control made necessary in order to fight the Civil War.  Historians also note a subtle change in language at about the same time; while prior to the Civil War, it was normal to read “The United States are“, that is, the nation referred to as a collective plural, after the War the country was referred to by the more familiar (to us) singular form:  “The United States is“.  I contend that this is at least partly why modern Americans have so much trouble understanding how any person born in the antebellum world could have held his loyalty to his state above his loyalty to his country.  The states were (and would be today, if they had the spine to stand up to federal usurpation of their prerogatives) no less than independent nations that had bound themselves together for mutual defense and the promotion of personal and economic liberty.

3 Never mind that the South fired the first shots, and that a rich plantation owner and legislator from Virginia, a fiery advocate of secession, was offered the opportunity to fire the first cannon at Fort Sumter; he at least had the decency to decline, declaring that he could not fire the first gun of the war.

4 The point could be made that it’s still an institution in North Korea.

5 See also: Cliometrics.

6 My only hesitation in making such sweeping statements is what the white man did to the red man in the wake of the Civil War.  Would we have still gone to war against the Indians and forced them to choose between life on the rez and death?  Fuck me, I don’t know.  Humans being humans, I figure the chances are about even either way.

7 After all, what was it people said?  “Well, you know, he slept everywhere.”  With a knowing nod and wink.

8 Not that I agree that you can; we sort of settled that in 1865.  The answer is, “No, and if you try, we’ll send in Federal troops to end you.”  So California and Texas can both take a flying leap if they think they’re going to secede.  Not that we hear much from Texas about secession since Barry left office, but the fruits and nuts in California have taken up that banner now that Trump is prez.  It never ends.

 

So after a false start in the ’70’s, now it really will be “Scouts USA”.

Without that pesky “Boy” at the beginning.

What a horrible mistake. This isn’t how you fix the Boy Scouts, who are just as SJW-ridden as the GSUSA. The National Council has been panicking for years over membership decline, yet every liberal-pacifying solution it’s attempted since I was a kid in the movement has driven more families and chartered partners away — and hasn’t ever satisfied the liberals in any case.

I knew the Boy Scouts were on the way out clear back when I was a teenager, when they changed the program and started de-emphasizing traditional Scouting in favor of a more “urban” version — all to attract inner-city boys, who had less opportunity to camp and do stuff in the woods, into the program. Whoops, that failed.* And so have most of the changes National has promulgated over the years since. I got out when I was 14 and had better things to do with my time.

I got back in as an adult at 27, served as ASM, merit badge counselor, district committee member, unit commissioner, and finally ended up in the Scouter Reserve to keep my membership active for the past 15 years or so. A group I work with just chartered a Venture Crew for Amateur Radio at the local camp, so after four years working on that with absolutely zero help (and a lot of negativity) from the local Council, I’m back active as a Venture Advisor.  Yay me.

In 2019, when I turn 60, I’ll have 40 years of Scouting under my belt.**

And then I’m going to walk away. Because National won’t stop listening to the SJWs and go back to Scouting’s roots, which is where most people truly interested in Scouting would like to see it go.

_________________
* In Indianapolis, there is an entire district in the inner city that was carved out of the rest of the districts in the county at about that time, with the intention of creating that “urban Scouting” experience for the kids who lived down there. Except that, like the Indianapolis Public Schools, in the 40 years since then they’ve started running out of kids to serve. Because nobody with children lives down there anymore. It’s not just white flight, it’s everybody flight.

The last I heard, there were only one or two troops left downtown, and they were seriously considering merging that district into mine. What a waste of resources and forty years.

** 7 as a youth, 33 as an adult, and yes, they all count.

What happens in Vegas…

There’s really not much to say about the evil that took place in Las Vegas the other night, except that evil men will perpetrate evil, regardless of what you or I think about it, or what laws happen to be in place which purport to prevent it.

There’s been evil in the world for a long, long time, going clear back to the elder son of the first and second humans (if you accept the Biblical account).  You can attribute it to whatever you want, but really, it all boils down to human nature and mental illness.

Human nature is to be violent and take things — including lives — from other humans by force.  That’s not just the story we read so often in the Bible, it’s the story we read in the fossil record and in written history.  Someone always wants what someone else has.  The grass is always greener.  Laws had to be set down and punishments for their violation enacted in order to shame men into behaving — if not well, then at least acceptably.

And yet, evil continued to flourish, no matter how many admonitions and regulations and punishments were decreed and issued.  It continues to this day, often wrapped up in a quasi-religious wrapper* and delivered almost as a gift to the ever-hungry 24/7 news cycle.

Civilization is a thin veneer of good behavior for most human beings.  It is a set of rules and behaviors that make it possible for us to live and work together in communities.  These rules and behaviors are not innate to us.  They must be learned.**  And they can be thrown off at a moment’s notice, as was amply demonstrated during the 20th Century, and continues to be demonstrated today.  My father, who was a civilized man by any common or normal measure, taught me that armies are made up of civilized men who are able to throw off the veneer long enough to fight wars, committing acts that would be considered atrocities if they took place outside the framework of war (and sometimes are considered atrocities regardless, by the “civilized” rules of war).  He would have known; he fought in Europe in the Second World War, and toured Dachau after it was over, when US policy was to create as many witnesses as possible to the horror created by Nazi monsters — who in turn thought themselves civilized, even as they presided over the genocide of millions.***

Today, an entire region of the world protests that it is part of an old and respectable civilization, when in fact that “civilization” they tout is nothing of the sort, at least not by modern standards.  And that “civilization” has, by and large, declared war on the rest of the world, whether we like it or not, and whether or not the vast majority of its adherents go along with the loudmouthed, militant minority.  The veneer is quite thin in places in that region, and in other places it is essentially non-existent.  The mask slips a lot, particularly in Europe, where terrorist attacks seem to be the order of the day (and due to Europeans’ own fault, that will likely continue), but it is also beginning to slip here in our own country.

It is too early to speculate on just why a man transported an arsenal into a Las Vegas hotel room and started shooting, the other night.  We just don’t know enough.  The claims that he was doing the bidding of a terrorist organization seem off.  It’s easier to believe that mental illness of some sort was to blame, or some long-held grudge that couldn’t be satisfied any other way (which in its own way is a form of mental illness).

But what we do know is that the veneer slipped.  The man who killed more than 50 people and injured scores more dropped any pretense of belonging to Civilization (as Doc Smith used to put it) and gave himself over to base human nature, for some reason so far knowable only to himself.

And thus we come to the conundrum of civilization that has dogged it from the start.

You can make all the laws you want, including laws that go back to the beginning of history and probably before, that condemn murder as one of the most heinous crimes known to man.  You can make laws regarding who may own firearms and other weapons.  You can make laws stating that certain places are weapons-free zones.  You can make laws regarding the transport of weapons and whether or not you can purchase them across state lines, and what the procedures are for that.  You can flatly outlaw the sale of certain types of weapons and ammunition to the public.  You can infiltrate the schools and universities and teach that guns are bad and shape the minds of callow youths into thinking that if we just outlaw guns, all this bad stuff will go away.

But you can’t keep guns out of the hands of people who are determined to have them, if they are willing to break the law.****

And you can’t stop someone from settling into a hotel room way up in the air and opening fire on innocent people attending a country-western concert in the courtyard far below, if he is really damn well determined to do so.

The genius of civilization, though, is that it has convinced the vast, vast majority of us that it’s a Good Idea to wear that veneer.  It helps us get through life without mayhem.  It informs us that we need to help other people get out of the way of a madman raining bullets down on them, and try to help the ones who didn’t make it before they got hit.  It’s why people push other people out of the way of an oncoming bus, or otherwise risk their own lives to save others.  When it kicks in like it did in Las Vegas, it minimizes casualties that could have been a lot worse — and yes, some of our best die trying to help others who survive only because of that help.

Yet, because it’s a veneer, we can throw it off when we need to kill some son of a bitch who’s trying to kill us when he breaks down our door in the middle of the night.

The difference between a civilized man and a terrorist or a madman is that the civilized man knows when to throw the veneer off, and more importantly, when to put it back on.

Writing more gun control laws isn’t going to change that.  Murder is already illegal, and has been since the beginning of time.

____________

* If you think ISIS or al-Qaeda or Hezbollah (or, hell, the Iranian mullahs) are actually “religious” in the sense that Americans generally attribute to the word, you’re a fucking idiot.

** If you don’t believe that, watch any group of toddlers for awhile.

*** And they were not alone in this; nearly any “civilized” people has done the same throughout history.  The Turks; the Russian Communists; the Red Chinese; the Imperial Japanese; even we Americans, fighting our Indian wars in the 19th Century that any truly unbiased historian would have to agree constituted genocide by modern standards, even if it would not have been so considered at the time.

**** Just ask them in Chicago.

The left can’t help itself.

Shades of Admiral Akbar! Whoda thunk it? “It’s a trap!”

Or going back even farther in the cinematic history of grand traps being sprung: “It’s a fake! We’ve been suckered in!”

This whole sportsball contretemps over a presidential tweet is turning out to be nothing more than a reaction to Grand Master Imperial level trolling. It is to laugh. At the libs. And at the left. Do they want more Trump?

Because this is exactly how you get more Trump. And just a little self-control on the proggy side would render the trap ineffective — but they Just. Can’t. Help. Themselves.

Now, while my sides are splitting with mirth over how everyone from LeBron James to the Wall Street Journal (see their lead editorial this morning — they are clueless) walked right into this with their eyes (and big mouths) wide open, that doesn’t mean that I don’t really wish someone would take the President’s smart phone away from him. Because I do.

But then I remember something. He’s not a politician. You can’t expect him to act like one, because he’s just as sick and tired of politicians as many of the rest of us are. (For his next act, I’d love to see him tweet out that the people of Arizona ought to fire John McCain, war hero turned traitor to his people.)

Anyway, I’ll bet the NFL owners are starting to wish they’d hired Condi Rice instead of Roger Goodell. Goodell has been nothing but a disaster from day one, for all his prating about zero-tolerance for player misconduct when he was first hired. And falling into this trap — which he could have avoided a year ago, by simply invoking and enforcing existing player conduct rules — has got to hurt on top of the revelations last week about all that helmet-banging causing CTE, according to one expert, possibly as far back as O.J. Simpson (and probably farther).

It will be interesting to see if this particular brain damage goes on to infect the NBA this season. Because if it does, the NBA will be as dead to me as the NFL has been since Colin Kaepernick wasn’t shut the hell down the first time he sat for the Anthem.

We can always watch college ball. And you know what? If the brain damage starts there, too, who needs sports? I found it hilarious that the WSJ editorial ends with: “The losers are the millions of Americans who would rather cheer for their teams on Sunday as a respite from work and the other divisions of American life.” I spent the entire weekend cleaning out a big walk-in closet and never once felt motivated to turn on the TV to watch sports. Hell, I can’t think of the last weekend when I was motivated to turn on the TV to watch sports.

Frankly, any given Sunday, I’d rather read a book.

Title IX, phooey.

With all this talk of the DoE rescinding its “Dear Colleague” letter that prompted so much of the anti-male due-process suppression in sexual assault cases, I have to wonder:

Can someone actually explain why these cases are being investigated and “tried” by university disciplinary boards rather than being reported to the local or state police (and not the university police, who aren’t equipped for this type of crime) so that the can be properly investigated and tried in regular courts of law where most sexual assault cases are handled?

I mean, look, university disciplinary boards are for investigating and punishing academic misconduct, not criminal misconduct.  I sat on a university disciplinary board once as a student member, in a case where three students were accused of cheating on an exam.  It was open and shut — even now I feel I’m bound by the rules set forth for that committee, and I can’t talk about it in detail, but the evidence was clear that two of them had been copying from one of them, and the worst part was, all three of them got the wrong answers anyway.  They all failed the course and, I believe, were suspended for a semester.*  That is the correct and proper use of a university disciplinary board.

But rape is not academic misconduct.  If a student accuses another student of it, their due-process rights are far better protected by real judges, prosecutors, and juries, than by university committees who have a jones for punishing males simply because they are male and feel that they have license to do so because a former Secretary of Education said, gee, maybe you should do this, because if you don’t, we might start restricting your federal funding.**

Every male student who has been kicked out of school by a university disciplinary committee for alleged rape since the Obama DoE sent out that egregious letter should be suing the school for all it’s worth, and demanding his day in court.

And the states that are looking at codifying the “Dear Colleague” letter into law — I’m looking at YOU, California — might want to take a step back from the precipice before they fall off of it.  Because, if universities can set up their own quasi-legal tribunals, suppress due process, and make their verdicts stick, what is stopping citizens from setting up Government Disciplinary Committees and finding state officials guilty in absentia of all kinds of misfeasance and malfeasance?  And then making their verdicts stick, at gunpoint?

No wonder blue states have so much riding on abolishing the First and Second Amendments.

________________
* And I know that caused at least one of them a problem, because he was here on a student visa that required him to be enrolled full-time while he was in the country (and he was the one who was appealing the “F” grade handed out by the instructor, for that reason).  Sucked to be him.

** Which raises another question, which is, “Why do we have a Department of Education that is funding state universities and putting them in this sort of a position in the first place?”

9/11 again

And I find that I’m having a harder time caring this year.  Oh, sure, I can and do still empathize with those who lost loved ones, and I’m still angry that anyone could actually be heartless enough to plan and execute such an attack (and damn glad the main pig-fucker is dead and tossed to the sharks).  It’s our increasingly-feeble response to 9/11 that I’m having a harder time caring about.

For all the initial calls to find the bastards and destroy them utterly, here we are, 16 years later, still playing whack-a-mole with the RIFs.  Of course for at least eight of those years, we weren’t serious about it, thanks to our unlamentedly-former so-called president.  And the guy before him, much as I liked the cut of his jib at the time, frankly didn’t go about it right.  (If he’d studied his father’s response to the invasion of Kuwait more closely, we’d have been a lot better off.)  And I’ll never forgive the guy before him for not taking Osama’s head when it was offered to him on a plate.  But I digress.

It was my great privilege to meet Harry Truman’s oldest grandson last Friday night.  Clifton Truman Daniel is a great man and a great American, and for all that he’s an antiwar no-nukes type, he is at least rational about it.  Hell, I even agree with him; I’d prefer never to see such weapons used in anger again.  On the other hand, you maintain the peace by preparing for war.

The point is, Mr. Daniel demonstrated that he fully and completely understood his Grandpa.  “Grandpa never reconsidered his decision to use the bombs.  His decision was based solely on the premise that doing so would save American lives.”*

How’s that old song go?  “Mister, we could use a man like Harry Truman again.”**  Because America isn’t Sally Field; we don’t really care if the world likes us.  We want the world to respect us sufficiently to fear our response if someone tries to pull something like 9/11 again.  That we are currently being threatened by a North Korean Louse That Roared with nuclear devastation and/or EMP attack only points up the fact that our leaders have been unserious in this endeavor.  For what it’s worth, it appears that President Trump is deadly serious about it, and the fat boy hasn’t yet actually achieved an understanding of that fact.  Which may end up being very messy, but when you kick the can down the road for 25 years, sooner or later it’s going to come to rest in an uncomfortable place, which it now has pretty much done.

The real lesson and legacy of 9/11 is that nobody is our friend, and we need to start acting accordingly.  Donald Trump and certain members of his administration get it.  Many Americans are tired of all the putzing around and want action.  To be entirely honest, I originally wrote “and closure”, but I think Americans would be willing to support a long-term general cleanup of the asshole of the world if it had clearly-stated intentions and goals.  There’s only one problem with that.

The problem with America (note, “America”, not “Americans”) doing anything long-term is that we have these minor revolutions every couple of years that we call elections.  So everything we do is circumscribed by the two- and four-year election cycles.  George W. Bush found that out in 2006, and in a way, thank goodness, because we hung around in Iraq too long and were doing too many things wrong there.***  We could fix that problem, of course, at the cost of more of our already circumscribed essential liberties.  Or we could fix it by simply deciding, as a people, that we have the power to make the world be the way we want it to be, and dedicating our lives and treasure to that end — much as did the Romans.

As for the rest of the world, well, “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”  I’m not particularly interested in their opinion and neither should you be.

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* Paraphrasing a bit, but that’s the essence of what he said in response to a question from the audience after his talk.

** Yeah, I know.

*** His daddy had the right idea — kick ass, take names, then get the hell out — but didn’t hang tough quite long enough.  The true end game in Gulf War I should have been Saddam dead or in a jail cell.  Instead, that wound festered for another ten years and resulted in another war.  On the other hand, who knew what might have replaced Saddam.

Of course, Jerry Pournelle (PBUH) for many years opined that we should have instituted a Legionary Corps and literally settled legionary troops there much like the Romans did when they extended their frontiers.  With 25 years’ worth of 20/20 hindsight, I have to wonder if that wasn’t a better solution.  Although today I’d be inclined to simply hand the keys to the Kurds and say, “It’s all yours, boys.  Call us when you need air strikes or more ammo.”

It’s not climate change.

A friend posted something about Houston on Facebook and actually implied that Harvey proved the case for climate change.

Neglecting the fact that a major hurricane has not hit the United States since Katrina, 12 years ago.*

Neglecting the fact that hurricanes aren’t driven by climate, they’re driven by weather.  If you don’t have a deep low pressure zone over warm water, you don’t generate a hurricane.  But that is completely and totally dependent on the chaotic system known as “weather”, that the experts in the field can’t even predict accurately more than about 12 hours out, let alone your lazy ass that looks at the outdoor thermometer for the last week or so and gasps, “OMG it’s global climate change!  It’s August (or now September) and it’s still summer and it’s ONLY 70 degrees!” without bothering to look at the latest NOAA surface analysis map (as if you took the junior-level Weather and Climate class from Prof Tom many years ago and actually know what all those squiggly lines mean) to find out why that might be.**

Climate is what we expect.  Weather is what we get, and it doesn’t always track with climatic expectations.

And still nobody on the Chicken Little side of the climate debate has explained why all the “warming” they saw suddenly stopped in 1997 and hasn’t started back up since.  (Oh, sure, they keep adjusting the models and fudging the data, but the models don’t jibe with what we see and we all know the data is being fudged.)

And nobody — but nobody — wants to admit that the solar cycle has anything at all to do with that, even with us going into one of the deepest solar minimums since the Maunder or the Dalton. No, the big hydrogen fusion furnace in the sky that burns your skin if you stay out in it too long has nothing to do with temperature on earth.  Y’all just keep believing that.

And keep believing that increased atmospheric CO2 means increased atmospheric heating, when actual research shows that CO2 gets released during cooling cycles, and trapped during warming cycles.  It’s almost as if the planet has a thermostat.  Oh, wait.

The fact is that the human race has seen warmer times and colder times.  Indeed, when I was in high school, Al Gore was ranting about global cooling, with just about as much reason to pay attention to him then as there is now, i.e., none.  But let’s face it:  Around the turn of the first millennium, the Vikings named their colony in eastern Canada “Vinland”.  Because they fucking grew grapevines there and were making wine, that’s why.  And as another friend of mine who is another global warming advocate (and ought to be smart enough to know better) keeps pointing out to me, there are ancient farmsteads being uncovered by melting ice in Greenland, another Viking haunt from about the same period of history.

Is it possible that we’re just living during a period when the natural variation either way just seems like it might be catastrophic?  There are stories of winter festivals held on the iced-over Thames River in London during the “Little Ice Age” (1645-1715) coincident with the Maunder Minimum.  (The Thames, for those of you who aren’t keeping up, doesn’t freeze in the winter these days.  Neither does the Hudson or Long Island Sound in New York, but both did in 1780 — the winter of Valley Forge — and the British troops rolled cannon across them to Staten Island to defend it from American partisans who were sneaking across the river to attack them.)

The US was just getting a good start when the Dalton Minimum hit in 1790. and winters turned awful until around 1830.  Have you ever read any good stories about pioneering in the Midwest during the Northwest Territories period?  Look what they have to say about the winters.  Hint:  They were nasty.  And the New Madrid fault famously cut loose during the depths of winter right in the middle of it, 1811-1812, probably making folks in proto-Illinois and proto-Indiana even more miserable than they already were.

Conversely, the Romans at their height lived through a warm era that probably fostered the growth of their empire.  It’s called the Roman Warm Period. You or Al Gore could look it up.  And there was another warm period later called the Medieval Warm Period that might have had a lot to do with the Renaissance.  You or Al Gore could look that up, too.  That one coincides with the Vinland colonization, by the way.

But you try to make that sort of logical argument these days, and the Luddites put you in the stocks and throw rotten vegetables at your head.  Or the virtual equivalent thereof.

Won’t they all be disappointed when it all works out just fine.

_____________________
* And never mind that another one is bearing down on either Florida, or the Carolinas, or the Gulf, or somewhere (the models — remember what I said about models? — disagree fairly violently) even as we speak.  To all my friends in Florida, hang in there; we’re thinking of you.

** Your concept of that sort of map may well be along the lines of, “Weather was dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be compared to a Mexican high, ha ha ha.”

That slippery slope is going to be quite a ride.

A friend noted that one of our local television stations had prematurely labeled church vandalism (Nazi-esque, pro-Donald Trump graffiti spray-painted on the exterior) in a southern Indiana county last February as a “hate crime”, prior to discovering that, in fact, the church organist vandalized the building as a protest against Donald Trump.

Talk about egg on their face.  But, nah, let’s talk about “hate crimes” instead.

On some level, all crimes are potentially hate crimes. Designating certain types of crimes as official hate crimes under law is an exercise in legislative opinion (and as a primarily-political opinion, it makes for bad law). It’s all well and good to fix in law that vandalism of a religious property is a hate crime, to be prosecuted with special attention to the mental state of the perpetrator; but once you have designated one thing as a hate crime, you’ve got a foot stuck in the door to eventually broadening the definition of a hate crime. And we’re already headed down that slippery slope, with “thoughtcrime” already being sanctioned, however unofficially, by the media and by various Internet services like Facebook and Twitter.

And you thought 1984 was just a book.  “Two-Minutes Hate,” anyone?

I, for one, strongly believe that tearing down Confederate memorials is a hate crime. Not because I hold any brief for slavery, or for the rebels and their ill-conceived secession and the war it engendered, but because to destroy or remove these monuments destroys our national history out of no emotion other than hatred for that history. As an historian, I strongly believe that we MUST embrace our history honestly, warts and all, and not try to erase the “uncomfortable” parts just to make ourselves feel better.

On the other hand, there are people out there who believe the opinion I just expressed is itself a hate crime. The next thing we know, it may become a hate crime to express opinions that are out of the mainstream.*  If you think that’s impossible, don’t think the First Amendment will protect us from that; remember, the Second Amendment is very clear that the right to bear arms is not to be infringed, yet there exists a multitude of local, state, and federal laws that significantly infringe the right. Legislators can always find a way to get around the Bill of Rights, and with the right (meaning the left) judges in place, they can take away God-given rights we have long thought inviolable.

Don’t be so quick to label anything as a hate crime. Or at least, wait until the investigation is complete and the facts of the case have been made public. Remember that a lie can make it around the world twice while the truth is still lacing up its boots.

_________________________

* Oh, wait — as I pointed out, it already is, on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s not moral relativism to blame both sides.

I was accused of moral relativism on Facebook when I stated that both sides were to blame in Charlottesville.  This was supposedly because, by blaming both sides equally, I was entirely absolving one side from blame in the death of the young woman who was struck by the jerk in the car.

I can’t parse that, and you probably can’t either.  To me, that young woman would still be alive today if both sides had stayed the hell home.  There is indeed blame on both sides.  Both sides are full of hate and both sides espouse hate.  That one side in this particular contretemps espouses hate against non-whites, and the other side espouses hate against those who hate non-whites, seems immaterial to me.  Either side is as bad as the other.

After all, the SS blackshirts were just as bad as the SA brownshirts whom they destroyed.  But that’s history, after all, and not many people actually learn history anymore.  But the analogy holds.

I was so assaulted because I dared (in this person’s opinion, anyway) to diminish the culpability of the white supremacists who, after all, started it all by having their protest in the first place.  However, I suspect the real reason for this assault on my integrity is merely because the person who did so is a rabid neverTrumper who will never back down from his now-untenable position; I mean, come on, the guy was elected and he’s president, and he’s not a Nazi.  And by insisting that I’m letting the Nazis off by including antifa in the mix, this person is implicitly stating that antifa bears no blame whatsoever.  Does he support antifa?  I’m going to guess he’d be horrified if someone told him that.  But that’s what he’s doing by claiming it’s moral relativism to blame antifa equally with the Nazi group for the death of that young woman.

As I told him repeatedly, if antifa hadn’t shown up, that young woman would still be alive.  But it would have been even better if neither side had shown up at all.

However, the main point this person misses in the process of being all het up about spreading the blame around is that any culpability for the young woman’s death is not placed on the group — it’s placed on the person who actually ran that car down the street and killed her with it.  And that’s an important point.

In our system, the group to which that young fool belonged won’t be on trial anywhere except in the court of public opinion.  The court of law that will try said young fool for vehicular homicide isn’t going to be interested in his political views, or what hate group he happens to belong to — they will be concerned only with his disregard for the law and the consequences of that disregard.  And that is because our courts are courts of law, not courts of political justice.

Make no mistake — antifa would like nothing better than for our courts to become courts of political justice, wherein they could, in Stalinesque show trials, condemn the 1% to death and then start in on the bourgeois middle class.  Which is why I oppose antifa as much as I oppose asshole white supremacists who dress up in swastika-festooned clothing, wave the swastika flag, and play at being National Socialists just like the bunch of pin-headed, slack-jawed wanna-be Hitler Youth they are.

These two groups are two sides of the same adulterated coin.  National Socialists vs. International Socialists.  All left-wing, no matter how hard the left tries to push them off on the right (the soi-disant “alt-right” being little more than a fabrication of feverish brains on the left side of the spectrum).  All of the repugnant ideologies on parade last weekend, nay, since it became clear that Donald Trump was a serious threat to Hillary Clinton’s coronation, originated on the left.  The KKK?  A left-wing Democrat institution for many, many years.  Fascists and Nazis were both leftists, and made no bones about being leftists, despite generations of Gramscian historians who have tried to frame them as being phenomena of the far-right.  Black Lives Matter?  Left-wing anarchists with a desire to destroy the police as a force for civil order.  Name a disruptive domestic terrorist group that has been in the ascendant in the past two or three years, and every one of them is a tool of the left.  Hell, even the Southern Poverty Law Center has become a leftist tool of destruction, by tarring innocent and well-meaning right-wing organizations with the “hate group” moniker.

And they are all to blame for what happened last weekend.  Because they have weakened the social structure of this country to the point where such things not only can happen, they are happening — with great regularity.

What is most alarming about this is that the number of people actually involved in these actions is tiny in comparison to the rest of the country.  In other words, we could easily scrum ’em if we chose to.

I fear we’re coming to that.  And sooner than we think.  It’s going to be messy.

And there won’t be a damn thing that’s morally relative about it.

Hell, yes.

“[S]ize matters, and Silicon Valley’s giants are just too darn big. Time to chop them up like old Ma Bell. Let’s apply the antitrust laws that were made for taming just these types of octopod monopolies. For example, Google and Facebook’s tentacles have slithered into every corner of the web and strangled the competition. There was a word for that back in the day – what was it? Oh, yeah. ‘Monopoly.'”

Kurt Schlichter: On fire.

And by the way, the same could be said for monolithic media companies like Gannett, too. When everybody’s “local” newspaper is being run by the same company in Tyson’s Corner, VA, copyediting and composition occurs at a central facility in another city two hours down the road, and the local reportorial staff has shrunk to nearly nothing, what level of independent journalism is actually left?

You’re sure as hell not going to get anything like the crusading style that used to keep local government on its toes instead of sitting back dumb and happy while the tax revenues roll in and the local fat cats get fatter. This is how outrageous billion-dollar stadium deals and 10-year bribes, er, property tax abatements, to entice companies to relocate to your city happen with little to no public comment, even as property and other taxes (like the county option tax) keep rising steadily as the years go by.

Case in point: How does the mayor of Carmel, Indiana, keep getting re-elected? He’s destroyed traffic patterns throughout Clay Township, spent hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure and grand architecture that I don’t think anybody up there has a clue how it’s all going to be paid for, and to hear people talk, everybody hates him — but they keep voting for him anyway. A good, crusading local newspaper might have chucked a spanner into Brainard’s gears before now, but Carmel hasn’t got one, and the Gannett Star isn’t going to worry itself over what goes on in the next county.

Break ’em up. Go back to local control of media.

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