New Year’s Day 1864

 

For years I have been doing research for a regimental history of the 21st Mississippi Infantry. I have read their letters and diaries, viewed their photographs, and read many of their names on casualty reports from just about every major battle where the Army of Northern Virginia was engaged. I have been privy to their hopes and dreams, and read of the secrets they told to only their closest friends and family. In short, I have gotten to know them as well as anyone can who is separated from them by over a century and a half. One of the letters that will be used in this book is the following, which was written by a member of the 21st Mississippi on New Year’s Day, 1864, in a camp near Russellville, Tennessee:

But a happy New Year to you my dear sister & may it each revolving day bring a new joy to your heart & a fresh hope to its fruition. The old year went out last night bathed in tears and weeping piteously at the termination of its reign. The steady patter of the rain upon the window pane & the low, half stifled murmur of the wind made a fit requiem for the expiring monarch – but the new sovereign quick to seize the ‘staff of office’ & desirous of obliterating all signs of the late incumbent rushed down from his northern realms with boreas as his advance guard & hoary handed winter close behind as reserve & by morning scarce a sign of the previous reign remained. Everything was frozen stiff & the wind howled & screamed & rushed along as though hunting with desperate energy & malice. The last poor unfortunate that might have lurked behind or overstayed his time.

What Kind of Resolve You Got?

 

A New Year approaches! This means that before the night is through, you’re supposed to determine some change of course – preferably one for the better – that you’ll have every intention of sticking with but will likely abandon by February. A handful of you might be of the fortunate mindset that allows for relatively easy implementation of changes, probably due to some hard-fought wrangling with your ego. These will-warriors may be so in control of themselves that any resolution made tonight would be indistinguishable from the one they made on June 27th.

And then there’s the rest of us…. I suppose I can be grateful that I have so many vices that all sorts of colorful combinations of resolutions can be chosen, and I’ll still have more to take on next year!

Now Is the Play of Our Discontent

 

When one thinks of great Russian literature, one does not associate it with the time period of Stalin. Venezuela probably has great literature in its history, but I doubt much of it is written today by some crony of Maduro. But such is the oddness of the English language and the English people that the greatest flowering of English literature happened during the time of an illegitimate, usurping dynasty that had its thumb squarely upon the people and the arts created, a dynasty that resorted to execution more than any since.

Some say Shakespeare was a genius for his accomplishments. But how much more of a genius was he that he accomplished all that he did in an oppressive atmosphere that saw many locked up or executed for offending the Tudor monarch? A play like Romeo and Juliet might not have been too dangerous. Classical comedies and tragedies were not too dangerous, especially when set in places like Italy. The Taming of the Shrew? Two Gentlemen of Verona? But Shakespeare delved into another realm altogether: the history play. With histories from far off in time, indeed, apocryphal histories, such as King Lear and Macbeth, danger was not so apparent, yet Shakespeare came closer in time, right up to the time of his monarch. And in the writing of these nearer histories, Shakespeare prostituted himself, becoming the propagandist of the Tudor Dynasty, or did he?

John Garand: The Forgotten History of the Man Who Invented the Iconic M1 Garand Rifle

 

“In my opinion, the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.” —  General George S. Patton

Today is John Garand’s Birthday! Any gun nut – er, “firearms enthusiast” – worth their salt has heard of the M1 Garand (it rhymes with “errand,” by the way). This .30-06 semi-automatic rifle is one of the most iconic American firearms of all time, and was the standard-issue weapon for American infantry troops during World War II and the Korean War. Drill teams and honor guards continue to use this in the present day, such is its role as a symbol of the American military.

Fewer, however, know about the life story of the man behind the weapon – John Garand, a Canadian-American engineer and weapons designer. Born one of a whopping 12 children on a Quebec farm, Garand’s father relocated the entire family to Connecticut following the untimely death of the clan’s mother in 1899. All six boys in the family had the official first name St. Jean le Baptiste, however, John Garand was the only one of them who used “Jean” as his first name. The other five used their middle names.

Statists Protect Their Own

 

I finally got around to opening up my latest issue of “Claremont Review of Books” today. What a fantastic publication. If you don’t subscribe, you really should. Anyway, this issue features a long essay from Michael Anton titled “The Empire Strikes Back.” He provides an outstanding summary of the various impeachment attempts against Donald Trump, starting immediately after his election. He also shares several fascinating insights into the people and events involved, but it was this paragraph that really caught my eye (emphasis mine):

It is no accident or coincidence that the only three presidents who have fundamentally challenged the administrative state … have been dogged by “scandal” and threatened with impeachment: Richard Nixon by Watergate, Ronald Reagan by Iran Contra, and now Trump. (Whatever you think of Bill Clinton’s impeachment it was emphatically not driven or supported by the administrative state, which protected him at every turn.) Trump would likely take this as small consolation, but it’s a measure of how much he’s feared that his enemies are running this play against him now, rather than simply trying to defeat him next year. Which more than suggests they doubt they can.

President Obama repeatedly said how proud he was that his administration was free of scandal. After Fast and Furious, weaponizing the IRS against political opponents, Benghazi, illegal State Dept email servers, various VA cover-ups, weaponizing the FBI against political opponents, and so on and so forth, you might find that to be an extraordinary claim. But those issues never hurt him, since the press buried them as soon as they came out. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times said that the Obama administration was “without any ethical shadiness.”

Predictions for 2020

 

I have drawn on my vast psychic powers to make bold predictions for the coming year. Check back next December to see how many I got right.

1. A Democrat will be caught in a corruption scandal but will escape prosecution or punishment.

Member Post

 

I see news today of the passing of Bill Kristol’s mother, Dr. Gertrude Himmelfarb, at age 97. The loss of a parent, regardless of the great age they obtained, is a moment of mourning. And grief is a human condition that we all share and should be acknowledged. Dr. Himmelfarb, like her husband, Irving Kristol […]

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Quote of the Day: Goldwater on Equality

 

“Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. … Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.” — Barry Goldwater

Just a little thought for a New Year’s morning.

Member Post

 

It’s time for another Chicago Ricochet Meetup. It’s been a few years, but I’m finally going to be able to go to the Chicago Auto Show again. We will have the meetup either Saturday, February 15th or Sunday, February 16th. I’ll be in town Friday night as well, but since that is Valentine’s Day I […]

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Christmas Present for Hezbollah? [UPDATE: 1 January 2020]

 

Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper announced on December 29 that F-15E Strike Eagles bombed several Khomenist Iranian regime proxy force sites in Iraq and Syria. This apparently followed repeated provocations, attacks on Iraqi government forces where there were also U.S. forces in the vicinity. Such attacks would be intended to push U.S. forces into more and more protective isolation or withdrawal from the region, ceding regional influence to the Iranian ayatollahs.

The airstrikes back the increasing campaign of economic and diplomatic pressure, which is squeezing the thugocracy as the population increasingly shows unrest and discontent with the regime.

Memories of 2019

 

I’ve gone through a little exercise, the past several New Year’s Eves, to try to sum up the year that’s passing in twelve words, one for each month. Herewith, my roundup for 2019: Softness, Family, Broken, Celebration, Construction, Sickness, Renovation, Compromise, Stabilization, Justice, Insurance, Acceptance.

In no particular order: Item: Two dear friends with life-threatening illnesses, both diagnosed in the same month. Both my age. Scary. Item–A lovely new sunroom on the Southside of the house (some days, when it’s in the 20s outside, it’s in the 80s in the sunroom. There’s a stand of trees in front of it, and when they’re in full leaf, rather than bare as they are now, it’s shaded in the summer. Item: Some beautiful soft and fluffy snows in January, but other than that, not much of a winter. Item: A bit too much involvement with the criminal justice system, across a couple of months, but ultimately the best outcome we could have hoped for in the trial of my stepson’s murderers. Item: Family celebrations, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and love. Another year older, and signed up for Medicare. At least my monthly health insurance premium went down.

Item: A few relationship difficulties, and the eventual resolution and coming to terms with them. Item–A gradual settling and stabilizing of the house, following the undermining, and after a year, the feeling that it might be “safe” to start to remediate some of the problems. So far, so good, and I have an opening front door again! Item–A monumental, weeks-long, blow-up with Mr. She’s Medicare Advantage insurer, who canceled his coverage because they said we hadn’t paid the bill. (Big mistake. Huge.) The week after I got a letter from the office of the Highmark CEO, acknowledging their error, and making all sorts of prayerful amends, I switched Mr. She’s insurance over to UPMC and canceled Highmark. A petty, but sweet, revenge. Item: the completion of bits of drywalling and painting that I’ve been waiting for, for 34 years, upstairs; and the finishing of the stairwell, including the framing in and “prettifying” of the electrical panel. Unfortunately, at the same time, the guy who was putting a new deck on the back of the house (see “remediation of subsidence problems,” above) ruptured a tendon in his finger, so that project is on indefinite hiatus. Still, I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, and starting to conceive of the possibility that the house may be finished before I am carried out of it feet first. This is a new feeling, and I like it.

Scarlet Fever? Like What the Pilgrims Always Died From?

 

Just a few minutes after I posted Laura’s piece about Christmases past from Little House on the Main Feed yesterday, I got my own reminder about being thankful for modern life.

Two days ago I brought my youngest son, 2-year-old “Altima” (his online nickname is where he was born: in my husband’s Nissan) to the pediatrician. He had been running a 102-103 degree fever for several days and wouldn’t eat, despite us hearing his stomach rumbling from hunger. The doctor took a double swab: one for a rapid strep test and one for a throat culture. When the rapid test came back negative, we assumed it was a virus; my guess was coxsackie because he was also covered in a rash.

Member Post

 

Is Jair Bolsonaro anti-Semitic? Oh, probably. Has he been canceled? I don’t even know how to say “hashtag” in Portuguese. If you do, or have in any other way been paying attention, feel free to keep it to yourself. Me, I’m just making dopey politics talk, mixing up any old combustibles. I have no idea […]

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Member Post

 

Well, I’m here in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with one of my old friends from Raleigh. We spent the past few days watching bowl games (Yay, Clemson!). Now, you might think our wives would object to not having their husbands around on New Year’s Eve. Oh no. The thrill of staying up past midnight vanished […]

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