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Reaching Out from the Left

 

I’m not really sure what kind of discussion I’m trying to start here, but I just feel the need to put these thoughts somewhere.

I’m honestly not completely sure exactly where I fit on the political spectrum. I’m definitely leaning more to the left on most issues, but I recognize that I’m a bit of an idealist and that a lot of the strong progressive ideas that I like are simply too difficult or complex to actually work well in our society. Still, I like their ideas and I hope to keep looking for rational ways to support them or compromises between my idealism and realism that could implement policy to improve the life of my family, neighbors, and fellow Americans. For example, I’m a middle school science teacher in a very economically diverse school district, so it’s easy for me to want to give unlimited opportunities to all of my students but also easy to see why beneficial programs can be so hard to fairly implement countrywide or even just at my own school.

I always feel that when you take a stance on something, you should look into the counter argument as much as possible and challenge yourself, ensuring that you are making the most informed decision you can. I started listening to the Ricochet podcast during the election, and haven’t stopped since. I can’t say I always agree with everything they say and on rare weeks I get a little angry and find I just need to walk away from it for a day. But in general I’ve enjoyed the challenge of looking at the other side and seeing what they have to say.

I joined this community after being hounded by them to support the podcast, and did a while back, but was never really sure what to say. I suppose the events of this past weekend compelled me to finally reach out and at least remind myself there are other sane people out there. I worry about these huge, knee-jerk reactions to horrible events that just seem to drive people in the political spectrum farther and farther apart. I’m not in any way a fan of Donald Trump, but how do I know that an extremely leftist Democratic candidate won’t be nominated in the future as their reaction to him? (Admittedly, most of the things I have against him are just his persona and Twitter feed and not necessarily all of his policies.)

But if we keep having these extreme reactions to one another, nothing will ever get done. Congress and the Senate seem to always vote straight up and down party lines, resulting in such an ineffective government. As far as I can tell, little is done to actually get input on bills and laws from the other party. Instead, one constantly insults the other, alienating them and all the people they represent. We need to actually reach across to one another, acknowledge that we disagree, but find some compromise or common ground on larger issues like health care and environmental regulation that could be more beneficial. This bickering, both in the government and on our twitter feeds is honestly driving me nuts.

We can’t continue down this path of pushing each other further and further away. I’m not imagining this image of everything with rainbows and puppy dogs, but we can do better than what we are all doing now. I’m guilty of generalizing the “other side” too, but that’s why I’m here.

I guess this is more of an introductory post to myself and the community, but I hope to hear some of your thoughts on everything I just wrote up there. I didn’t mean for it to be too long, but like I said, I hope to challenge some of the beliefs that I hold, I hope to challenge some of yours, and I hope we can help each other see our perspectives in order to realize that we are all humans and can come up with sane, rational ideas that move away from the craziness that is the current mood of political hysteria.

Thanks for reading. Hope to hear from you and I hope you’ll be seeing me around the boards a little bit more. Feel free to ask any questions on my views and I’d be happy to share more.

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QOTD: Lawrence of Clouds Hill

 

“You wonder what I am doing? Well, so do I, in truth. Days seem to dawn, suns to shine, evenings to follow, and then I sleep. What I have done, what I am doing, what I am going to do, puzzle and bewilder me. Have you ever been a leaf and fallen from your tree in autumn and been really puzzled about it? That’s the feeling.”T.E. Lawrence, Letter, May 1935

A legendary spy and warrior, and perhaps one of the early twentieth-century’s “most interesting men” wrote these words a few short weeks after retiring from military service, just after he had refused a knighthood from the King, and only days before he died in a motorcycle accident.

Thomas Edward Lawrence (born one-hundred twenty-nine years ago today) was forty-six years old, a fact which brings home how absurdly young he was when he started his work for British intelligence (he was twenty-five, and only thirty when the First World War ended), and he’d retired to Clouds Hill, a small brick cottage in the heart of Dorset to tend his garden, the centerpiece of which was a massive, rambling rhododendron that had been gifted to him by the novelist Thomas Hardy and his wife.

Although he’s known as a recluse, and, in general, as a rather odd duck, his later Letters point to a sweet disposition, a desire to socialize, and an interesting range of acquaintance.

But after his discharge from the Royal Air Force, he was clearly at a loose end and didn’t quite know what to do with himself, writing in March: “I wander about London in a queer unrest, wondering if my mainspring will ever have a tension in it again. So, I’m not cheerful actually, but sad at losing my R.A.F. existence. It was good, and I felt useful.” And, in April this, (to Mrs. Thomas Hardy), “I feel very indisposed to do anything more; and very tired.” And, to Nancy Astor, just ten days before he died, “There is something broken in the works, as I told you: my will, I think.”

He was fond of comparing himself to a falling Autumn leaf, drifting through the air and down to the ground, puzzled and bewildered as to what was happening to it, and he did so again here:

I’m ‘out’ now, of the R.A.F. and sitting in my cottage rather puzzled to find out what has happened to me, is happening and will happen. At present the feeling is mere bewilderment. I imagine leaves must feel like this after they have fallen from their tree and until they die. Let’s hope that will not be my continuing state.

For good or for ill, it was not to be his “continuing state” for very long. Two weeks later, he was out joyriding on his beloved Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle (pictured below) in the Dorset countryside, and he swerved to avoid two boys walking along the road in the opposite direction. He pitched off his cycle onto his head, and suffered a devastating injury.

Lawrence was in a coma for six days before he died. One of his attending neurosurgeons was Hugh Cairns, who used the experience as the foundation for his research into the frequent head injuries and unnecessary deaths of motorcycle dispatch riders. The motorcycle crash helmet developed from his work, and soon became a commonplace accessory in both the military and civilian worlds.

Lawrence’s funeral, in the tiny hamlet of Moreton, was attended by Winston and Clementine Churchill, E.M Forster, Lady Astor, and several other luminaries who were close friends and correspondents. This obituary from the New York Times sheds some light on what type of man Lawrence was, and the esteem in which he was held by his friends (although for my own part, I can hardly get past the bit that tells me Lawrence was attended by the King’s physician, Sir Farquhar Buzzard. Monty Python, please call your office).

Thomas Edward Lawrence, August 16, 1888–May 19, 1935

I have to say that I have greatly enjoyed retirement, ever since it came around for me. I welcomed the unwinding of my own “mainspring,” as I was no longer on call 7x24x365, likely at any moment to be whisked away from what I was doing because of a suspected intrusion into the hospital computer system; a malfunctioning piece of equipment that was preventing life-saving patient care from occurring in a timely way; a doctor who was scratching his online, malware-laden, porn itch on my network in one of the on-call rooms, or posting patient-identifiable photos and other information on-line without permission (yes, it does happen); or some other mind-boggling technical or human calamity, perhaps with serious legal, financial, or career-limiting implications.

And I’ve never been too concerned with leaves that fall from the tree, either. I know they rot into mulch and are absorbed back into the ground (I’ve heard that there are people who actually rake them up, but I dismiss this as sheer fantasy), and I have faith that, next Spring, buds will form on the trees, and the cycle will begin anew.

I’d love to hear retirement stories from the Ricochetti who, like me, have passed “a certain age.” Do you enjoy it? Are you bored? What do you do? Do you have too much, or too little, to do? Can you even imagine how you ever found time to get your job done before you retired? And anything else you care to share. (If you’re not yet of that age, are you looking forward to it, and counting the days, like @Arahant‘s dad? Or do you dread it?)

And, by the way, if the historians among us would like to opine on Lawrence of Arabia, his life, his adventures, and his legacy, I’d love that, too.

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Book Review: The Challenge of Dawa

 

“The Challenge of Dawa” by Ayaan Hirsi AliAyaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia in 1969. In 1992 she was admitted to the Netherlands and granted political asylum on the basis of escaping an arranged marriage. She later obtained Dutch citizenship, and was elected to the Dutch parliament, where she served from 2001 through 2006. In 2004, she collaborated with Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh on the short film Submission, about the abuse of women in Islamic societies. After release of the film, van Gogh was assassinated, with a note containing a death threat for Hirsi Ali pinned to his corpse with a knife. Thereupon, she went into hiding with a permanent security detail to protect her against ongoing threats. In 2006, she moved to the U.S., taking a position at the American Enterprise Institute. She is currently a Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

In this short book (or long pamphlet: it is just 105 pages, with 70 pages of main text), Hirsi Ali argues that almost all Western commentators on the threat posed by Islam have fundamentally misdiagnosed the nature of the challenge it poses to Western civilisation and the heritage of the Enlightenment, and, failing to understand the tactics of Islam’s ambition to dominate the world, dating to Mohammed’s revelations in Medina and his actions in that period of his life, have adopted strategies which are ineffective and in some cases counterproductive in confronting the present danger.

The usual picture of Islam presented by politicians and analysts in the West (at least those who admit there is any problem at all) is that most Muslims are peaceful, productive people who have no problems becoming integrated in Western societies, but there is a small minority, variously called “radical”, “militant”, “Islamist”, “fundamentalist”, or other names, who are bent on propagating their religion by means of violence, either in guerrilla or conventional wars, or by terror attacks on civilian populations. This view has led to involvement in foreign wars, domestic surveillance, and often intrusive internal security measures to counter the threat, which is often given the name of “jihad”. A dispassionate analysis of these policies over the last decade and a half must conclude that they are not working: despite trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, turning air travel into a humiliating and intimidating circus, and invading the privacy of people worldwide, the Islamic world seems to be, if anything, more chaotic than it was in the year 2000, and the frequency and seriousness of so-called “lone wolf” terrorist attacks against soft targets does not seem to be abating. What if we don’t really understand what we’re up against? What if jihad isn’t the problem, or only a part of something much larger?

Dawa (or dawahda’wahdaawadaawah—there doesn’t seem to be anything associated with this religion which isn’t transliterated at least three different ways—the Arabic is “دعوة”) is an Arabic word which literally means “invitation”. In the context of Islam, it is usually translated as “proselytising” or spreading the religion by nonviolent means, as is done by missionaries of many other religions. But here, Hirsi Ali contends that dawa, which is grounded in the fundamental scripture of Islam: the Koran and Hadiths (sayings of Mohammed), is something very different when interpreted and implemented by what she calls “political Islam”. As opposed to a distinction between moderate and radical Islam, she argues that Islam is more accurately divided into “spiritual Islam” as revealed in the earlier Mecca suras of the Koran, and “political Islam”, embodied by those dating from Medina. Spiritual Islam defines a belief system, prayers, rituals, and duties of believers, but is largely confined to the bounds of other major religions. Political Islam, however, is a comprehensive system of politics, civil and criminal law, economics, the relationship with and treatment of nonbelievers, and military strategy, and imposes a duty to spread Islam into new territories.

Seen through the lens of political Islam, dawa and those engaged in it, often funded today by the deep coffers of petro-tyrannies, is nothing like the activities of, say, Roman Catholic or Mormon missionaries. Implemented through groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), centres on Islamic and Middle East studies on university campuses, mosques and Islamic centres in communities around the world, so-called “charities” and non-governmental organisations, all bankrolled by fundamentalist champions of political Islam, dawa in the West operates much like the apparatus of Communist subversion described almost sixty years ago by J. Edgar Hoover in Masters of Deceit. You have the same pattern of apparently nonviolent and innocuously-named front organisations, efforts to influence the influential (media figures, academics, politicians), infiltration of institutions along the lines of Antonio Gramsci‘s “long march”, exploitation of Western traditions such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion to achieve goals diametrically opposed to them, and redefinition of the vocabulary and intimidation of any who dare state self-evident facts (mustn’t be called “islamophobic”!), all funded from abroad. Unlike communists in the heyday of the Comintern and afterward the Cold War, Islamic subversion is assisted by large scale migration of Muslims into Western countries, especially in Europe, where the organs of dawa encourage them to form their own separate communities, avoiding assimilation, and demanding the ability to implement their own sharia law and that others respect their customs. Dawa is directed at these immigrants as well, with the goal of increasing their commitment to Islam and recruiting them for its political agenda: the eventual replacement of Western institutions with sharia law and submission to a global Islamic caliphate. This may seem absurdly ambitious for communities which, in most countries, aren’t much greater than 5% of the population, but they’re patient: they’ve been at it for fourteen centuries, and they’re out-breeding the native populations in almost every country where they’ve become established.

Hirsi Ali argues persuasively that the problem isn’t jihad: jihad is a tactic which can be employed as part of dawa when persuasion, infiltration, and subversion prove insufficient, or as a final step to put the conquest over the top, but it’s the commitment to global hegemony, baked right into the scriptures of Islam, which poses the most dire risk to the West, especially since so few decision makers seem to be aware of it or, if they are, dare not speak candidly of it lest they be called “islamophobes” or worse. This is something about which I don’t need to be persuaded: I’ve been writing about it since 2015; see “Clash of Ideologies: Communism, Islam, and the West”. I sincerely hope that this work by an eloquent observer who has seen political Islam from the inside will open more eyes to the threat it poses to the West. A reasonable set of policy initiatives to confront the threat is presented at the end. The only factual error I noted is the claim on p. 57 that Joseph R. McCarthy was in charge of the House Committee on Un-American Activities—in fact, McCarthy, a Senator, presided over the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

This is a publication of the Hoover Institution. It has no ISBN and cannot be purchased through usual booksellers. Here is the page for the book, whence you can download the PDF file for free.

Hirsi Ali, Ayaan. The Challenge of Dawa. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2017.

Here is an Uncommon Knowledge interview with the author:

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The Speech Trump Should’ve Given

 

This Jew Isn’t Buying It.

We are in cloud cuckoo land. The media, the Left (I know, I know… I repeat myself) and the Right are justifiably disgusted with what took place in Charlottesville. It was an embarrassment and stain on the nation, who collectively look at the Neanderthal group of Nazis on their tellies with vitriol and disdain. Approximately 200 neck-bearded basement dwellers marching goose-step with Nazi symbolism was abhorrent to every decent person from both sides of the political divide. Understood? Got that? Good. Now…

After months of zero traction from fake Russian stories, the Left suddenly had their 2018 campaign slogan locked in: See we told you the evil Trumpanzees and Rethuglicans are racist deplorables. This is the true face of the Right. Case closed. #LoveTrumpsNazis2018

The Right, never failing to be gobsmacked by how far the Left will go to color their enemies, fought back civilly, but defensively on pundit shows and newspaper articles trying to ‘splain that Nazis do not represent anything but hate, racism, and have nothing to do with Conservatism.

To wit, while we all know how horrible the white supremacist movement is, as insignificant in numbers as it seems to be, the Right tried to shine a light on the violent anarchist group Antifa which is doing some pretty Hitler-like fascist stuff to free speech at a university near you. Immediately the Left and the media (I know!) scream “No equivalence!!! Nazis! Holocaust! Trump!!!”

The unhinged, irrational nature of the Left’s response is so beyond the pale there are those who believe they doth protest too much. Daniel Greenfield states: “The media’s invocation of false equivalence is an admission of extremism. It’s a defense of their own extremists and their role in normalizing and mainstreaming the Alt-Left.”

Presidents before Trump would have come right out on Saturday and immediately identified the Nazi scum as just that. Even if they blamed the wrong folks (as Obama often did by responding prematurely) Trump wouldn’t have lost points even if he only simply adapted Elwood and Jake Blues: “Nazis. I hate Virginia Nazis.”

But as the Left and MSM always do, they viewed Trump’s words through their own lens of Trump derangement syndrome and quadrupled down on their criticism. Trump should have known better than feed the apoplectic media machine as they would only gain strength and attack more forcefully. CNN, WaPo, NBC and, well heck, even FNC’s afternoon shows, have all become Hulk Smash Trump cartoons.

If you just arrived from Mars and only heard the media, you would think the extremist Left wing group Antifa, which came to the Nazi march with baseball bats and other weapons intent on using them, were actually central casting for the ’70s Hilltop commercial. Instead of wielding pepper-spray canisters, those masked hoodlums were really flower-laden hippies singing “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

Should Trump have been more forceful in his words? Absolutely. But not for reasons the Left would want to hear. So, with all respect to President Trump and his speechwriters, I took the liberty of rewriting your Saturday afternoon speech and changed a few things around. Hope you don’t mind, Sir.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of bigotry, hatred, and violence on many sides, including Antifa and the Nazi’s… especially the Nazis. Yes, those people who call themselves Nazis, White Supremacists, whatever. They’re losers. Losers. Nazis slaughtered millions of innocent people. Men, women, and children were gassed, shot and otherwise murdered in the lifetimes of our Mothers and Fathers simply due to their religion and ethnicity. And now look at these people. Can you believe this?

But then I turned on the news and I saw the fake media and the failing New York Times were saying these people were alt-Right or right-wing … or whatever they called them. That’s why they are failing. Nazis… the definition of evil, do not represent anything the Right or Conservatism stands for. There is no place in America for these people. But, let’s remember New York Times, I hate to tell you, and you probably won’t report this… we’ll see. Nazis were Socialists! Believe me. Nazis were Socialists. They confiscated and redistributed wealth. They ignored free markets and classic Liberalism. They couldn’t build buildings or hotels like me. The State would have had to do it. This required ‘everyone paying their fair share’, and where do we hear that now?

So, I was saying our friends on the Left are quick to call Nazi’s, this hateful group, they call them Right wing or “Alt-Right”. Sorry… Sorry, but they came from the Democratic Party. The dishonest media won’t tell you, but I will. I will. The KKK was originated by the Left. By the Left! It was the Left that fought against and voted against Civil Rights. It was the Left that defended slavery. It was the Left that started the Civil War. It was Democrats that opposed Reconstruction. And, as I said, Democrats founded the Ku Klux Klan. They imposed segregation. Democrats perpetrated lynchings. This was all the Democrats folks. Democrats!

And it was the Republican Party that led the battle against slavery and upheld the Union, won the Civil War and opposed segregation, under the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln! And they shot him! That John Wilkes Booth guy? Democrat! Can you believe it?

Yes, yes I know what the media is saying. The dishonest media. Fake media. They’re saying “But that is history! It’s changed!” I will tell you… If the media want to report the truth, I will tell you… you are right, today it is different. It’s worse. Worse! The Civil Rights Act in 1964 was fought against by Democrats. When it finally passed with Republican support, President Lyndon Johnson created the “Great Society”, and you know what he said. You know. C’mon. I can’t say it, but you know. Maybe there’s an honest reporter who will say, but I can’t. You know what the press would do if I said what Johnson said? Oh, they would love it if I said that because it’s awful. But Johnson got his way! Can you believe that? The Great Society has not only enslaved inner city Blacks into a generational cycle of dependency and welfare but has perpetuated the greatest lie of our time, that the Right is racist. This way, Blacks will continue voting for Democrats for another 200 years. Yes… We all know what Johnson said. He got his way. Just look at Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago. Just look.

So… I will tell you this. This is the mess we are in. I am here to clean up. Sixty years of racism disguised as compassion, and we will work within the inner city, one person at a time so they learn the truth. Oh, they will learn the truth. Believe me. They will learn how to become business owners. We will provide them a real lifeline, not generational enslavement. They will learn how to break free from the chains of oppression by their modern day slave masters, their same masters as before: The Democrats.

So, as the Antifa losers, and they are losers, as they march at the Jefferson Memorial next, maybe someone in the media, and I doubt they will, I doubt they will, maybe someone will educate these people on the Democrat Party’s history. As these people tear down statues and eventually burn books … oh, that’s coming, you just watch, it’s coming, that’s what the real Nazis did by the way. As they try to remove American history from our country like the Taliban does, we will remind them how the Democrat Party is the party of Jim Crow and Robert Byrd.

This is the Democrats history and we will remind them every day who they really are. Today they project their own history on us, the Republicans, on conservatives and good people, the very people who freed a great nation from the darkness of slavery, and who now wish to unchain those who still suffer under the Democrats grip on the inner city. My administration aims to do this, and as a result, we will all come together with a stronger more prosperous country where everyone truly is equal.

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There Is a Better Way to Oppose White Supremacists

 

A black man has devoted his life to befriending KKK members. His friendship has persuaded many people to leave the organization. This is what effective resistance to white supremacy looks like. People who go at it with clubs and rocks are just looking to make violence.

Daryl Davis has a unique hobby.

In his spare time, he befriends white supremacists. Lots of them. Hundreds. He goes to where they live. Meets them at their rallies. Dines with them in their homes. He gets to know them because, in his words, “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me? Look at me and tell me to my face why you should lynch me.”

He also is a collector of KKK robes. He collects them as souvenirs when KKK members decide to give up on racism because of his friendship.

Davis, a Christian, has met with white supremacists for three decades. He never tries to convert the Klansmen. He simply becomes friends with them and they give up the KKK on their own.

Before they decided that it was okay to “punch Nazis,” the left used to claim that violence only begets violence, that using violence only perpetuated a “cycle of violence.” But now, they’re all like… “Violence, yeah man, violence. Far out.”

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Civil War Monuments

 
An abutment of the former Wrightsville Bridge is shown between Veterans Memorial Bridge (PA Rt. 462, foreground) and US highway Rt. 30 bridge (background).

I live in southeastern Pennsylvania. Last week, my wife and I took our kayaks to Wrightsville, PA, a small town on the Susquehanna River about 12 miles east of York. The Susquehanna River is about a mile wide there. On this gorgeous day in our kayaks, we saw incredible wildlife, including 2 mature bald eagles and 4 or 5 juveniles. Describing this area as bucolic would be doing it a disservice.

Crossing the river in this area between two currently-used state highway bridges is a line of abutments, now overgrown with trees and other vegetation. These abutments are what remains of Wrightsville Bridge. In late June, 1863, just before the battle at Gettysburg (about 40 miles west), the army of the Confederacy had invaded Pennsylvania, captured York, and began advancing east, eventually reaching the west bank of the Susquehanna here, at Wrightsville. Their goal was to seize Wrightsville Bridge and continue east to Lancaster, cut the Union rail lines, and cripple the North’s supply routes.

In Columbia, PA, on the east side of Wrightsville Bridge, about 1100 Union soldiers who had evacuated York and retreated east, many of them being members of the “Invalid Corps” (wounded soldiers from York General Hospital who wanted to continue defending the Union), faced 7000 Confederates and artillery with desires to cross the bridge and continue east. The defenders held off the advancing rebel army, burned the bridge, prevented the Confederates from continuing east, saved the Union supply lines, and we all know what happened about two weeks later at Gettysburg.

I’m glad the abutments of Wrightsville Bridge remain 154 years later. They are 26 Civil War monuments. They are overgrown with vegetation, still showing signs of the black soot from the raging fires that consumed the bridge, but they are monuments nonetheless. I hope they are never removed.

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Robert E. Lee Would Have Fought the Nazis

 

The events in Charlottesville, VA that transpired this past weekend (11 Aug to 13 Aug) were the product of very misguided and miseducated adherents of the Nazi ideology and white supremacism who sought to voice their disapproval of the proposed removal of a statue to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It is almost rote to assume that what Lee, as Commander of the Confederate Armed Forces and Leader of the Army of Northern Virginia, fought to defend and what was loosed on the world by way of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s were one in the same.

While in the South, blacks were held as chattel property, in Germany, Jews were treated as vermin to be exterminated. But once the comic book version of history is swept aside, and the truly historically curious dig deeper, it becomes plainly clear that what General Lee–and for that matter Generals Thomas J. Jackson or J.E.B. Stuart–were fighting for was something that the Nazis of Adolf Hitler’s Germany would have found foreign and threats to their power.

During the spring of 1861 newly inaugurated president, Abraham Lincoln, offered Robert E. Lee command of the Union Army. Lee’s response was a reflection of what he felt to be the honorable response: he would not draw his sword against his native state of Virginia. Lee’s response was not one to uphold human bondage, although that would have been the outcome had the Confederacy succeeded. Rather Lee’s actions were the actions of a man defending his home, his people, and his honor. These are all things that would have been foreign to the highest ranks of the Nazi Party and seem to be missing from those who would plow a modern Dodge Charger into a crowd of people.

If these Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville were mistaken in attempting to attach their stench to General Lee, who from the Civil War might they be more in harmony with?

Adolf Hitler‘s thick political biography, Mein Kampf, gives a glimpse of where he might have come down in the great mid-century struggle between the states. “Since for us the state as such is only a form, but the essential is its content, the nation, the people, it is clear that everything else must be subordinated to its sovereign interests. In particular we cannot grant to any individual state within the nation and the state representing it state sovereignty and sovereignty in point of political power. [I]ndividual federated states…must cease and will some day cease…. National Socialism as a matter of principle must lay claim to the right to force its principles on the whole German nation without consideration of previous federated state boundaries.” Hitler’s words are not a reflection of what the South at the time of their secession from the Union would have identified with. It should certainly go without saying that Lee’s decision to defend his “native state” of Virginia would have been at odds with the sentiment of ending “individual federated states.” Centralizing authority into a big, powerful national government was the product of President Abraham Lincoln’s desire to “preserve the Union.”

But Hitler sought inspiration from more than just Lincoln. He looked to other great paragons of the Union cause. Ideas of “final solutions” and ghetto-ization of the Jews could have just as easily been inspired by Union General William T. Sherman’s exclamation of having a “final solution to the Indian problem.” And to be sure the ghettos of Warsaw could have easily been mistaken for the reservation of Pine Ridge, the site of the Wounded Knee massacre.

Robert E. Lee’s views of humanity do not indicate that he could have been a man willing to condone a “final solution” on any race of people, be they black, Indian, or Jew. Lee’s duty was to ensure a better outcome for blacks. Although reflecting the ugliness of the time, Lee felt “the blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.” (1856) As hard as it might be to get past the rawness of those words, there is no denying that the goal is to see a people risen out of subjugation and allowed to reach the great potential destined them by God.

Lee was, first and foremost, a man of honor, but he was much more than the stoic “Marble Man” of lore. He had deep notions of freedom and liberty that reflected the Spirit of ’76. After the war, in correspondents with the famed British historian Lord Acton, Lee lamented what was to befall the New Republic after the dissolution of the original union. Acton expressed his disappointment in the failure of States’ Rights as a check against the absolutism of a centralized government and of secession as democracy’s redemption. To this Lee replied:

While I have considered the preservation of the constitutional power of the General Government to be the foundation of our peace and safety at home and abroad, I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only are essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it. (December 15, 1866)

Those people professing to be supporters of Nazi ideology and white supremacism would not have found a friend in Robert E. Lee. And the carnage they wreaked in his name would have been an insult to his honor.

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The Google Firing: A Disturbance in the Force

 

Apparently a quite healthy dose of the Silicon Valley tech workforce believes that James Damore, the software engineer fired by Google, shouldn’t have been. It seems that this is a story that won’t go away and it continues to generate quite a lively debate online, in the media and presumably in breakrooms and watering holes in and beyond Silicon Valley.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether stridently left-of-center corporations like Google, Facebook, Apple, and others will tamp down their active Social Justice Warrior agendas, initiatives or pronouncements; and whether some of the greater workforce will begin to challenge some of the notions pushed by their respective human resource departments of implicit/unconscious bias, bigotry, misogyny, racism, and oppression that are considered the predominant reasons for lack of gender, race, or ethnic equity across disciplines in these companies.

Legal expert Richard Epstein on Ricochet’s The Libertarian podcast articulated that Damore may actually have a reasonable case for defamation of character because of the remarks that Google’s HR Diversity officer and its CEO made in justifying Damore’s termination. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai said that Damore was fired for “advancing harmful gender stereotypes.”

Given the careful and methodical way in which Damore presented his thoughts on diversity, the differences of men and women in the workplace, and the HR policies and initiatives at Google, the onus would be on Google to prove that the information and the scientific data cited can be determined by a judge or a jury as harmful stereotypes. That could possibly open a can of worms, because there may be quite a number of experts in psychology and workforce dynamics who may wish to testify on Damore’s behalf, as well as experts who support Google’s contention. Personally, I think it would make for compelling viewing if the proceedings were televised but likely something that Google may not want to have broadcast to the world on a daily basis — especially since some of Google’s own HR programs of exclusion by race and gender would certainly be highlighted and not glossed over as they have been by the mainstream media since the story went viral.

Given the blowback and the spirited discussions that I’ve seen on sites like WIRED, Gizmodo, LinkedIn and others by supporters of Damore, my sense is that this story won’t go away anytime soon. If there is legal action, then it will continue to reverberate through the greater business culture. And of course, if others are terminated for also speaking their minds in HR discussions or workshops for essentially the same reasons that Damore was fired, this could get quite interesting.

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Should the Democratic Party Change Its Name?

 

My answer? It is the party of slavery.

Yes, after their support for slavery and racist laws and regulations for all those decades it’s clear that the well documented and unambiguous racist history of that party should make us all demand that the party distance itself from their history of racism. The party name makes me blanch every time I hear it or read it. How can anyone be associated with such a party that is laced with a sordid history of hatred and bigotry and racism?

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Impeach Trump, Get our Moon Colony!

 

I think it’s become clear that Trump must be impeached. It is obvious that misuse of Twitter is an act of high crimes and misdemeanors. Actually, an earlier draft of the Constitution clearly stated that the President could not misuse new forms of communication. James Madison decided to scratch that idea, however in a letter he wrote to Dolly he made it clear that misuse of forms of communication should be an impeachable offense. A certain history buff has uncovered this letter and will use it for the good of the Republic!

We agree that Trump must be removed. Does that mean that we get President Pence? Not so fast! Pence is guilty by association. We must also impeach Pence once he’s elevated to the presidency. So, are we stuck with President Ryan? Think again!

It’s visibly clear, even to Stevie Wonder, that Paul Ryan can’t get anything through the House. He can’t move a piece of legislation, let alone impeachment proceedings. Before we can start the impeachment process, we must remove Ryan from the Speakership. We know he’s a RINO-squish, so he’s gotta go. Who can replace Ryan? It can’t be Kevin McCarthy, he’s as much of a squish as Ryan. The obvious choice for the new Speaker is the same man that holds that letter from Madison and has a track record of successfully impeaching a president. That’s right — Newt Gingrich!

I think you know where I’m going with this. Newt deposes Ryan. No one else wants to be Speaker, and Newt says that it’s a sacrifice that he’s willing to make. He’ll serve as Speaker again because his country needs him. Once he’s Speaker, he starts impeachment proceedings on President Trump and Vice President Pence. Both men are impeached. McConnell is able to get two things through the Senate and that’s the conviction of Trump and Pence.

Voilà! President Newt Gingrich! First item on the agenda? A moon colony! I can’t wait for this to happen.

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We Don’t Care What You Think

 

Been working since 4 am and that, combined with SJWs on Twitter, I may be a little testy. I apologize, sort of, if this offends anyone, but for those of you that want to rip down our monuments, take down flags and/or whatever other symbols in the South offend people’s sensibilities now, here’s the deal.

If you don’t live here then we don’t want your damn opinion about our monuments, etc. You’re not here, so guess what? You don’t have to look at it! Go about your day and try to forget about us honoring our war dead or people we think were heroic, if not perfect leaders. After all, in the SJW world view, Lincoln himself was racist as well, so it won’t be long before we tear down the Lincoln Memorial. We know now that history began with Obama’s election, so why even acknowledge the past has been a bit more complicated than today’s college student at Evergreen may understand.

The South is plenty conflicted already about race, poverty, the war, and how we feel about some of our collective guilt and whatnot. Now Antifa is going all Taliban on us and tearing down any monuments they feel offends their Social Justice dogma. So don’t take up for them, don’t defend their position, don’t explain how they are really right but just a little overboard on their implementation.

They are wrong and most importantly we don’t give a good G.D. what they think. They need to go back to Seattle or wherever the hell they came from (probably UNC). As far as the Nazis and Antifa protesters go, is Virginia out of rubber bullets and fire hoses or something?

I heard the story as it was passed down
About guts and glory and Rebel stands
Four generations, a whole lot has changed
Robert E. Lee
Martin Luther King
We’ve come a long way rising from the flame
Stay out the way of the southern thing

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Until We Are Parted by Death

 

At National Review Online, Wesley J. Smith has written an essay about the increase in “couples euthanasia” in European countries that have adopted an affirmative right to end your own life. In a story guaranteed to evoke “ahhhs” from sentimental leftists and perhaps a recognizant twinge from anyone who is in love with his or her spouse, he describes an elderly couple who died “holding hands, surrounded by loved ones.”

They were both 91, seriously old even by 21st century standards.

The couple’s daughter told The Gelderlander [translated]. “The geriatrician determined that our mother was still mentally competent. However, if our father were to die, she could become completely disoriented, ending up in a nursing home. “Something which she desperately did not want. Dying together was their deepest wish.

When my first husband died, I had our four young children to think of, so the thought of joining Drew in death could not be entertained for long… but it definitely did occur. So I get the “deepest wish” thing, truly.

Once upon a time, I was a parish minister and one of my elderly (90-ish) parishioners, “Sally,” was dying. I went to visit her in the hospital, finding her semi-comatose in her bed, surrounded by an encampment of family members and with her not-dying but very old and dignified husband beside her.

The husband–I’ll call him Fred– had not left his wife’s side for two days, sitting upright in a chair, holding her hand and refusing all invitations and entreaties to go home to bed, if not for the night then at least for a nap. I suggested that if Fred wouldn’t go to bed, maybe the bed could come to him? The nurse agreed. We found a cot and wedged it in between the wall and Sally’s bed. Upon discovering that the cot wasn’t high enough to allow Fred to be able to comfortably maintain his grip on Sally’s hand, we stacked another mattress on top. Fred clambered aboard this slightly precarious perch, lay down, took hold of Sally’s hand and grinned blissfully.

I was standing at the foot of what was now–sort of–a double bed. I was dressed in clerical garb. Fred was still wearing his customary jacket and tie. Sally looked lovely in a white hospital gown draped in a white blanket. There were bouquets in the vicinity. “Yeesh, this looks like a wedding!” said one of the grandchildren.

Fred and Sally’s daughter’s eyes at once lit up. “That’s what we’re going to do! We’re going to have a wedding!” She ran out into the hall to collect stray grandchildren who had wandered away during the cot-moving exercise, roped in a few nurses’ aids and a doctor or two. One of the grandchildren strummed a guitar.

“In the presence of God and of this beloved congregation,” I performed a renewal of vows and, “by the power vested in me by the State of Maine,” pronounced that Sally and Fred were still married. Fred kissed the bride, who smiled.

Sally died the next morning.

Fred had loved, honored, and been faithful to Sally for sixty years, but they were parted by death.

The sweet old Dutch couple in the story have been parted by death, too. As C.S. Lewis wrote in his autobiographical A Grief Observed: “Unless, of course, you can literally believe all that stuff about family reunions ‘on the further shore,’ pictured in entirely earthly terms. But that is all unscriptural, all out of bad hymns and lithographs. There’s not a word of it in the Bible. And it rings false. We know it couldn’t be like that. Reality never repeats.”

The notion that we can (let alone should) die together with our loved ones and then spend eternity in a celestial version of earthly reality is as absurd and, in its way, as selfish as the idea that we can take our money with us when we go. That the Dutch wife might become completely disoriented or might end up in a nursing home was not reason for her to die in some sort of refined pharmaceutical suttee. For all her children’s sentimentalizing self-exculpation, the fact remains that a double-euthanasia has freed them from the duty (and, if only they could see it this way, the privilege) of comforting their mother through the grief that is the privilege of love.

“Et voila,” Smith writes. “…Before you know it, the children of elderly parents attend and celebrate their joint euthanasia killings–instead of urging them to remain alive and assuring them that they will be loved and cared for, come what may. Euthanasia corrupts everything it touches, including the perceptions of children’s obligations to aging parents and society’s duties toward their elderly members.” It also extends an already-endemic and self-indulgent DiCaprio/Winslet identification of eros rather than agape with the highest, best manifestation of love.

A good friend and fine warden, Michael, demonstrated true love when his wife died. He was devastated. And yet, within minutes of her death, when a kind nurse at the hospital tried to tell him “she’ll always be with you,” Michael gently corrected her. “She is with God.”

For all my anguished yearning to somehow be with Drew after he died, he was with God. It was a privilege to grieve for him and to carry his memory into the life he did not get to live with me. I I frequently assure my present husband that he is obliged to outlive me, but if he instead predeceases me, then as his (hopefully aged) wife I will yield him into God’s embrace and mourn him fiercely, for whatever time is given me to live. It is living on and loving more, not dying-too that honors love.

Fred, by the way, grieved strongly for his Sally. It hurt to lose her; was–as C.S. Lewis would say–a kind of amputation. And yet, he lived on. Sure, he needed more help as he got even older. He moved in with his daughter and son-in-law… and then he started dating again.

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QOTD – Idle Hands

 

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece.” ~ Proverbs 16:27

At least the first part of this has become one of the quintessential old wives sayings, and rightfully so as it’s from one of the oldest books in the history of the world. I always took it as ‘being bored makes you mean’ and I think that’s especially true in our society today.

I’m the kind of person who can’t just do absolutely nothing. Even when I’m “relaxing”, I’m usually thinking of all the things I should be doing, or working out problems in my head related to work, or thinking of how better to organize my house. My husband just took off for the rig this morning. After a long day of work, I started talking to him on the phone while walking around cleaning and decided that as soon as I finish writing this post, I’m going to run over True Value, pick up a heavy duty shelf, and create a pantry in the basement where my husband will continue to complain that he can’t find anything because I hide things all over the house. Afterwards, I’ll probably do some more work.

I don’t honestly know many people my age or younger who work at staying busy as much as I do. Our young people have enough time on their hands to think of all the ways that saying “good morning” is offensive. They complain about the very idea that other people might have a different perspective than them. They speak condescendingly to people who espouse an opinion that is Very Wrong, expecting the world to kowtow to their intelligence. They are too busy thinking of ways to ruin another person’s day to get some real life experiences or work on something productive.

Not staying busy leads to an extreme onset of boredom, in which a person might invent new forms of drama to keep themselves busy. Like saying that you hate a person you already hated even more because they didn’t say they hate someone that everyone should hate. Boredom. You know what I don’t care about? That the President didn’t condemn Nazis hard enough to suit some bored millennials. Or that the President had an extra scoop of ice cream for dessert. Or that the President may or may not be secretly Putin in a wig and mask according to anonymous sources who are $100% telling the truth to very credible news outlets. I find it ridiculous that anyone could possibly be so bored as to worry about this meaningless drivel.

Even if you can’t afford to travel the world, you can do things to make your community and your home better. Or maybe you’d rather care about two scoops and stay bored.

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Stuff Medicare Says

 

I recently had a terrible experience with my mom being an “Observation” patient in the local CHW hospital, St. Joseph’s of Orange (Yes, it was so bad, I’m naming names. I hope it comes up in a Google search). Observation means that unlike real patients, you are effectively still an ER patient, simply with a floor bed to relieve the room in the Emergency Department. Observation also limits your rights under Medicare.

That’s right. If you’re over 65, Observation status is basically a way that the hospital gives you only slightly more care than you’d have at home while charging you hospital fees.

My mom’s experience included: not being placed on the floor until 3am (not uncommon) and being discharged without even being seen by the attending Dr. Johnson Chiu at 9am (for those of you doing the math, that’s 6 hours later).

Let us begin with a problem. Let’s say that you are a patient with baseline neuromuscular symptoms. You can walk, but slowly and with a cane. Some days you do not walk well. Pain is a part of your life, but you generally get by. You can get through the day, most days, without too much trouble. You can get to the bathroom and back to your chair. Some days, you even feel adventurous and do some cooking or shopping.

Let’s say that one day, your puppy (being trained to be a service dog) runs up to you and knocks you off balance. Surprised, you fall on your side on the concrete outside. You were so surprised, you didn’t even try to catch yourself. Good for you! You do not have any hand or wrist injuries! Bad for you… you also are on the concrete and can’t move. After a few stunned moments, you call for help. Luckily, family is home and they manage to pull you up into a chair. You cannot even hold yourself up. After anguished time and a 911 call, you get to the hospital.

Home free, right? No. Not even close. Now you get x-rays. You think that with your history of osteoporosis and neck and back fractures, you’ll get x-rays everywhere; hips, back and neck? No. You get a limited X-ray of the hip you landed on. The x-ray shows nothing. They give you an oral pain medication (Norco, if you’re wondering). 45 minutes later, the aide pulls you out of bed to stand up and walk to the bathroom. Sitting causes you to wince. Having had back fractures, rib fractures and cancer, you have a high tolerance for pain and general inconvenience. You get pulled to your feet and you begin to crumple. Your left leg buckles almost instantly as the pain overwhelms you. You get pushed back into bed. The nurse gets the report that it was “too painful” to walk. Instead of investigating why, they assume the real problem is pain. The X-ray was clear, so clearly, it’s just pain. You get some Dilaudid (hydromorphone, 0.5mg IV) in a new IV they started just for you. 30 minutes later (peak drug functioning time), they repeat the experiment with similar results. Despite you saying that you can’t stand, you can’t move, your leg is giving out and your daughter standing by and confirming, they try time and again. Eventually, the doctor stops by to say that they’ve decided to do a CT of the pelvis, you know, just to check. It shouldn’t be so hard to stand unless something is broken.

When the CT comes back positive for not one, but two non-displaced fractures, you feel vindicated. You are not a wuss! Pain is real! There is actually something wrong that can be proven! The ER doctor confirms that you are going to be admitted and leaves you to the admitting physician.

You are admitted, brought to a room (much, much later) and try to get some well-earned rest.

This is when the real fun begins. You see your nurse in the morning and discover that you are admitted as “observation”. This means that you are not a real inpatient and will not receiving real inpatient services. The hospital will only get paid for 24 hours, at most, per CMS (Center for Medicare Services) guidelines. A few hours later, you talk to your nurse and find out that Dr. Chiu already discharged you. Wait…who is this doctor? You met someone else in the ER who was supposed to be your hospitalist….what happened to that doctor? Oh, he’s just the admitting, not the attending. Dr Chiu already looked at your chart and put in the discharge paperwork. He’ll come by at some point, but then you’ll be discharged. Hours pass, then the doctor glances you over and says that pain is no reason to stay. He saw that the nurse charted that she got you up to the commode. That means you are not bed-bound and can go home. Your daughter asks about your neck, back, your osteoporosis. Did anything get investigated? Did anything get examined anything further than the CT? No, the doctor says, he’ll order a couple of x-rays, but then she’ll go home.

Hours pass… the X-rays happen…finally there are results. At 8:30pm, you are given your discharge paperwork. Effectively, it says that non-displaced fractures are painful, but there is nothing to be done. Go home, take your meds, and tough through it.

You shrug.

This is what the Case Manager said earlier.

You need a commode because you can’t walk? You need a wheelchair? You need a shower bench? Oh, well, Medicare doesn’t cover that. You need someone to take care of you?

Well. You are observation. You’re not really admitted. Medicare will not pay for someone like home care. Toileting and daily activities of care aren’t covered under Medicare, particularly in this case. If you want to pay privately, you can, but really, you might as well ask your family to take some time off to care for you 24/7.

The Case Manager hands you this:

This is insane! You can barely be transferred to a commode… but they won’t give you one because you already own a toilet?! This is madness!

At 9pm, your husband drives to the local 24 hour pharmacy to get you a commode. It isn’t like you will be able to get to it on your own, but there’s no other choice. You have a walker that someone once gave you, surely that doesn’t count… oh, but it does. You have one, therefore, Medicare will not pay for other options. You get a rental wheelchair, because that is what is covered by your secondary insurance.

You go home in pain, exhausted, and defeated. Worse, you have to pee and you know you can’t get up on your own.

This is the world of Medicare.

This is before services are limited due to an influx of patients.

Remember this. This is government run healthcare. This is what we provide people with fractures that limit mobility.

…we also then don’t give them narcotics because, you know, opiate crisis. But that’s a tale for another time.

Just remember. My mom is one of many. There are people who are refused services every single day. They are told that they must quit their jobs or hire help simply because the right code wasn’t put in or the hospital didn’t feel like properly admitting the patient. People are restricted in their services because it benefits the hospital and it benefits Medicare that patients have their benefits limited.

You may one day need someone to advocate for you. Please remember this and have someone there to ask for the tests, to remind the doctors and to insist that care is taken.

Nowadays, care is just another word in MediCare.

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Quote of the Day: Days to Go

 

“Four-hundred thirty-five days to go.” — My Dad

Today is my father’s birthday.

When Dad was getting close to qualifying for retirement, he counted down the days. I think the countdown started about two years before he reached the right age. Every morning, we would hear pronouncements, such as: 435 days to go! When that day finally came, he did not put in the paperwork. But he was happy to know that he could retire any day in the future of that time that he wanted. I believe it was about four years later when he finally did retire.

There is something about Dad that he needs to have his countdown to his goals. Close to thirty years ago, he was able to say, “Well, I’ve lived longer than Mom.” At this point, even I am older than my paternal grandmother lived to be. His goal is to live longer than his maternal grandfather. His paternal grandfather died at age 24 of lead poisoning. (East St. Louis was a tough place to live even then. And, no, I don’t mean the slow, Flint-style lead poisoning, either.) After that for ages to achieve were his mother (53), father (60), maternal grandmother (80), paternal grandmother (85), and then Gramps, who lived to be close to 89. Dad still has a bit over two years to pass his longer-living grandmother and close to six years to win his ultimate goal. I hope, as with his retirement, that he’ll stick around after he makes his goal, at least for awhile.

Two-thousand, one-hundred, ninety-two days to go, Pop.