Category Archive: These Are The Crazy Years

Musings on the GDPR and other insanities

I wonder what would happen if a company that has absolutely no presence in the EU, but which may from time to time service customers who are citizens of the EU, were to basically toss GDPR requests into the trash and refuse to respond to them?

This doesn’t apply to the company I work for, since we do have a presence in the EU, but to me, the GDPR is yet another attempt by a national or multinational entity to make its law hold sway outside of its borders where it has no business poking its nosy legal nose. Consider for instance the Polish law that recently went into effect stating that any person anywhere, regardless of nationality, could be prosecuted under that law for insulting the poor widdle psyches of Polish citizens by asserting that the Poles were responsible in any way for the Holocaust. Which, by ignoring what was going on in their own back yard, they were. If that be a violation of Polish law, so be it. The truth is still the truth. Soylent Green is still people.

Consider, for that matter, the ICC, which the US refuses to ratify, because to do so would, among other things, leave American warfighters open to spurious charges of war crimes to be tried by the ICC.

Consider also the strange tendency of late of our courts, including the Supreme Court, to take the laws of other countries into account when deciding matters of strictly American law. The problem with doing that is that there’s absolutely no basis for applying what foreigners do in their own countries to what Americans do in the US. Our judges are supposed to apply American law to American questions of law, and if some other country’s law conflicts with American law in such a case, it is of exactly zero moment.

It is a strange world we live in. Sometimes I wish we’d have told the world to go police itself after the Second World War. Although I probably would have used a word other than “police”. Probably one that started with “F”.

GOPeity GOPeity GOPe.

Well, apparently Ralph Peters (former Fox News contributor) and John McCain (soon to be former US Senator from Arizona, God willing) have both lost their minds over the President today.

Peters, who ought to know better, is pissed off because he believes Fox News is little more than a propaganda machine for Donald Trump.  I’m not so sure I’d go that far.  But Peters is just another Nevertrumper who can’t see the forest for the trees.

McCain is bashing Trump for being a nice guy and congratulating Vladimir Putin on his “electoral victory”.  I put that in scare quotes because anybody who doesn’t know that election was rigged is a naive dreamer.  I will guarantee that Trump’s message of congratulations was heavily steeped in irony.

But these are just continuing reminders that, with friends like establishment Republicans (otherwise known as the GOPe), who needs enemies? No wonder we call it the Stupid Party.

This is how you lose the House and Senate, boys.  The Democrats know that you have to close ranks and maintain party discipline (they’re very Soviet in that way).  The GOPe has a problem understanding that survival as the reigning political party requires adhering to the party line, booting people from the party who won’t toe that line, and backing the president to the hilt when he’s from your party, regardless of what you think of him as a human being.

Peters in particular is an egregious ass, with his statement that Fox is acting as a “propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”

You can be as patriotic as you want and you can be as honest as the day is long, but the fact of the matter is that politics is our great national sausage machine — and if you can’t deal with the way sausage is made, maybe you ought to stay the hell out of the political commentariat.

Besides, if Trump is so “destructive and ethically ruinous”, why hasn’t Special Counsel Mueller managed to toss anything at him that sticks?  Mueller has no reason to handle Trump with kid gloves, and plenty of reason (he’s a Democrat, you know) to do otherwise. It’s clear that there was no Russian meddling in our elections (or, if there was, it was mistimed and completely ineffective), and it’s just as clear that there was no soi-disant “collusion” between the Trump organization and the Russians…but plenty of evidence that a whole bunch of Democrats, up to and including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, were awash to their necks in nefarious dealings with the very same Russians.  Can you say “Uranium One”?  Of course you can.  If you can find the news articles about it in our left-wing press.

I won’t even discuss what John McCain has to say because John McCain is a dying and possibly borderline-senile old man who believes he should have been president.  Anything he says at this point about a sitting Republican president is sour grapes and has to be viewed in that light.  I respect the hell out of John McCain for his service (and time as a POW) in the military, but I’ve never really respected him as a Republican senator, and it’s high time he was removed from his comfy seat in the Senate by the good people of the State of Arizona, who could probably do a lot better.  He’s a shining example of someone who’s been in government far too long (31 years this coming November) and it shows.

The fact is, after eight years of Barack Obama, what exactly did either of these men expect?  No normal GOP politician would have had a chance in hell of beating Hillary Clinton, because no normal GOP politician would get out and fight for the job like Donald Trump did.  The fact that Trump won as many votes as he did is testament to the fact that people on the right are sick and tired of the pale, stale political pablum served up by the GOP establishment — a thin gruel, indeed! — and they, like Lincoln before them, could not spare this man — “He fights.”

What’s truly sad about the GOP is that so few of their tenured officeholders got primaried out of their seats in the last cycle, and we’ve been treated to another round of the same old same old by the GOPe.  And now a bunch of them are probably going to simply lose those seats to the Dumbs in November, which is hardly an optimal result.  You want a Constitutional crisis?  Because that’s how you get a Constitutional crisis.

No thanks to people like John McCain and Ralph Peters, we’re probably going to get one.  Hang on tight, folks, and keep your powder dry.  This ride ain’t over yet.

UPDATE, 21 Mar 2018:

________________________
* There may be a reason Peters retired as a LTC — who retires as an LTC?  The one I know personally at least got a promotion to full bird when he retired.

The Kozinsky allegations smell ever so slightly of fish.

The latest attempt to take a head in the Great Sexual Harassment Orgy of 2017 is directed against a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Alex Kozinski.  Yeah, OK, it’s the Ninth Circus, so what?  As it turns out, a lot what.  About this, I wrote elsewhere, in response to a comment that implied Kozinski was little more than an incompetent liberal activist:

For what it’s worth, this guy was appointed by Ronald Reagan. I don’t think he’s a liberal activist in the pure sense of the term. If you look at his Wikipedia entry, the decisions he’s been influential in haven’t been liberal wins. He’s pro-death penalty, for one thing, with the interesting twist that he doesn’t believe in lethal injection, but prefers firing squads, the electric chair, the gas chamber, etc. In Wood v Ryan, he wrote in dissent, “Sure, firing squads can be messy, but if we are willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we are shedding human blood. If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all.” That squares with my own long-held opinion that if you’re going to execute someone for a capital crime, do it in the public square.

Now, none of that means it’s impossible for him to be a sleazy scumball who hits on his female clerks, but as usual, I find it interesting that these ladies waited so long to make their allegations, and also that “many” other women who clerked for him say that they were never approached in this way. The WaPo article says, “The Post reached out to dozens of Kozinski’s former clerks and externs for this report. Many of those who returned messages said that they experienced no harassment of any kind and that their experience — which entailed grueling work into the wee hours of the morning every day — was a rewarding one. They noted Kozinski’s wry sense of humor.”

Again, not saying that proves his innocence, but I for one am raising an eyebrow at the very least — and this goes right along with my previous post this morning:  “This business will get out of control — it will get out of control, and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”

With all due respect to Admiral Fred Thompson, it’s already out of control.  We’re just in the “sit back and eat popcorn” phase.  I sure hope Roy Moore wins tomorrow — I want to see the left go even more completely apeshit than they already are.

Too late!

In re: the latest allegation of a poor defenseless girl woman being abused by Roy Moore:

Funny that she waited till the day before the election, if this happened “months ago”.  And that she’s now apparently “protected” her tweets from being viewed by the great unwashed.

Young millennial women are clearly too fragile to be allowed to work in journalism, or anywhere outside the home.

“I can kill you with a thought.”

The WSJ had a big scolding editorial this morning about how Trump needs to repudiate Roy Moore because they think the Dems put Trump in check by forcing Franken’s ouster.  The problem with that is their deadline was last night, and Franken’s announcement wasn’t till this morning…

So I have to wonder how that crow they’re eating right now tastes, given that Franken was a total ass about the whole thing, and didn’t actually resign today? Instead, he gave himself a wide window to defenestrate, er, change his mind. And you never know, Roy Moore might lose yet.

The WSJ thinks Trump is playing chess with the Dems. He’s not playing chess. He’s playing four-dimensional galactic troll kriegspiel, and the WSJ hasn’t figured that out yet, much less the Dems.

Musings on all that sexy boozy druggy stuff in the Nation’s Crapital [sic]

It occurs to me that the depth and scope of the scandal now brewing in Washington, DC, amongst our Nation’s Finest *eyeroll* (otherwise known as our Congresscritters and Senileators) is the product of our permanent, year-round government.

It used to be that Congress met for short periods to do the nation’s business — not to simply do the nation, as seems to be all too prevalent these days — and went home to tend their farms or businesses or law practices or whatever illegality they practiced that brought them to the attention of their state legislators (Senileators, before the 17th Amendment *spit*) or the Great Unwashed who balloted for them at the local polls (Congresscritters).  In part, this was due to the genius of the Founders and Framers, who placed the national capital in a fetid, malarial, unlivable swamp in a day when air conditioning was unknown.  If you think that wasn’t done on purpose, you may want to guess again.  The Founders/Framers knew the danger of letting people spend too much time loitering in the corridors of power.

Damn Willis Carrier, anyway.

The fact that the people’s business has become a year-round, full-time job, with elected officials living in the Capital and (sometimes) not even maintaining a real home in their district, seems to have created and nurtured a class of elites with far too much spare time on their hands and far too much power to be trusted not to be tempted by the availability of all that…well, I hate to say, “free pussy”, because some of these soi-disant elites are female, and some of them of both sexes bat for the other team, as it were.  And the perception of all of it being “free” is, of course, in the mind of the beholder — and as we are finding out lately, not so much in the mind of the beholden.

The fact is, our elected representatives are, with a few notable exceptions, vile and disgusting people who ought to be ridden out of the country on a rail.  And if they didn’t spend all of their time away from home, their predilections (not to mention their depredations) would be a lot more obvious to the people who send them to Washington.  On top of that, they’d have to actually work for a living, so they might better understand the plight of the “little people” (again, those who, you know, VOTE for them).

As an American, there is nothing that makes me more ill than a career politician.  Unless perhaps it’s a career politician who thinks he or she is immune from sanction for activities that would get the rest of us fired from our jobs for even thinking about.  Take that fat slob Al Franken, for instance — apologizing but not resigning from the Senate like any decent reasonable guilty human being found to be compromised by such a situation would do.  He’ll be lucky if the people he represents don’t do his resigning for him the next time he stands for election.  (And here again, Franken becomes yet another poster child for the repeal of the 17th Amendment, right up there along with Elizabeth “Fauxcohontas” Warren and — much as I hate to malign a true American hero — that traitor to his party John McCain.)

Then there are Congresscritters like John Conyers who make term limits seem like an obvious addition to the Constitution — given that today’s voters can’t seem to simply toss them out like yesterday’s newspaper.  In what actual Framer’s mind did the idea of spending 52+ years in the House of Representatives make a lick of sense?  And Conyers isn’t the longest serving Congresscritter ever, either — he’s #3.  John Dingell was in Congress for over 59 years.  Jamie Whitten was in Congress for 53 years plus.  Of course Conyers has #1 seniority for those currently serving in the House.  Don Young is #2 with nearly 45 years.  Jim Sensenbrenner is #3 with nearly 39 years.  Hal Rogers, Chris Smith, and Steny Hoyer round out the currently-serving seniority list with over 36 years each.

That’s too fucking long.  These people are ossified in place and cannot possibly have any clue about the people they actually represent.  The Framers anticipated that a man might serve a couple of terms in the House, certainly no more than one or two terms in the Senate, and then go home to resume living his live — in the mold of our home-grown Cincinnatus, George Washington, who left office after two terms as President and WENT THE FUCK HOME.

People today don’t realize how badass it was for Washington to simply drop the reins of power, pick up the reins of his horse, and leave Philadelphia only rarely to look back.  The only thing he did post-retirement was accept a commission as lieutenant general from John Adams so he could serve as Commander-in-chief of the armies in case of what looked like an imminent war with France.  That commission lasted 17 months until his death and the war with France never materialized — and he delegated most of the work to Alexander Hamilton.  His example of short tenure followed by a return to civil life was so revered that the two-term presidential limit held without need for codification until Franklin Roosevelt thought so well of himself that he broke the rule and ran for a third and fourth re-election.  That quickly led to a Constitutional amendment formally limiting the President to two consecutive elected terms — it was said, to prevent Truman from capitalizing on Roosevelt’s violation of the tradition, and running for a third term (which would actually have been his second elected term, since his first term was most of Roosevelt’s fourth).  The fact is, Truman probably just wanted to get the hell out of Washington and go back to Missouri at that point, but that didn’t matter to the Republicans who held Congress at the time.

Unfortunately, Congress didn’t see fit to limit itself at the same time.  And today we have the mess that we have.  On top of that, we have the 18-20 year old set voting, which I’ve thought was a mistake since I was old enough to vote.  Nobody my age had any business voting in 1978, although it was nice to be able to cast a vote for Reagan just before my 21st birthday.

But what is most ridiculous about our system is that it enfranchises people who have no business voting because they are, to all intents and purposes, wards of the state.  Nobody on welfare of any kind should be voting — they have a vested interest in preserving the status quo of bread and circuses, and because they vote, the people who created our modern welfare state are still in charge of it, and still expanding it.  Nobody who doesn’t pay income taxes should vote — especially anyone who takes advantage of the Earned Income Credit or other dodges that help them avoid paying for the government services they receive.

Shoot, I’m not that many years from retirement, and I won’t be able to afford to live without Social Security payments, and I think anyone on Social Security should lose their vote, given that Social Security is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme rather than a real investment for one’s retirement.

If you subtracted out the people who receive government benefits from the eligible voter rolls, there would be a lot of Democrat ‘critters and senileators out looking for work, because there wouldn’t be enough votes to keep them in office.  And we wouldn’t need term limits, because the voters who were left wouldn’t put up with the bullshit that poses as representative government today.

And without the bullshit, and with people in office who actually viewed it as a public trust and not as a personal wealth and power generator, the kind of sleazy crap that is coming out of Washington today wouldn’t be happening.

At least I don’t think it would.

No matter how wonderful you think your Congresscritter or Senileator is, if he or she has been in office more than a couple of terms, and looks like they’re going to just keep running, it might be high time to primary them.

We can’t fix the problems in Washington without draining the swamp.  Trump gets that, and within his limited ability to man the pumps and clear the drains, he’s doing what he can.

Are you going to help, or are you just going to sit on your ass and keep re-electing the same failed, sleazy, lame-ass people to Congress?

The Framers left it in your hands.  Don’t let them down.

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.

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