A rebuttal to those who accuse America of imperial arrogance (I’m talking to you Mr. Obama)

American Cemetery at Meuse-Argonne

American Cemetery at Meuse-Argonne

I have been to several American military cemeteries in Western Europe. They are deeply moving places, because they shelter the bones of Americans who died far from home, defending the freedoms of people other than themselves. The following email therefore resonated very strongly with me:

In alphabetical order

1. The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne, France… A total of 2289

2. The American Cemetery at Ardennes, Belgium… A total of 5329

3. The American Cemetery at Brittany, France… A total of 4410

4. Brookwood, England – American Cemetery… A total of 468

5. Cambridge, England… A total of 3812

6. Epinal, France – American Cemetery… A total of 5525

7. Flanders Field, Belgium… A total of 368

8. Florence, Italy… A total of 4402

9. Henri-Chapelle, Belgium… A total of 7992

10. Lorraine , France… A total of 10,489

11 . Luxembourg, Luxembourg… A total of 5076

12. Meuse-Argonne… A total of 14246

13 . Netherlands, Netherlands… A total of 8301

14. Normandy, France… A total of 9387

15. Oise-Aisne, France… A total of 6012

16. Rhone, France… A total of 861

17. Sicily, Italy… A total of 7861

18. Somme, France… A total of 1844

19. St. Mihiel, France… A total of 4153

20. Suresnes, France… A total of 1541

Apologize to no one.

Remind those of our sacrifice and don’t confuse arrogance with leadership.

The count is 104,366 dead, brave Americans.

And we have to watch an American elected leader who apologizes to Europe and the Middle East that our country is “arrogant”!



Americans, forward it!

Non-patriotic, delete it!

Most of the protected don’t understand it.


A few thoughts about my delightful introduction to the American South

imageBefore this summer’s trip, my exposure to the American South had been extremely limited. I’d been to Washington, D.C., and I’d visited Florida and lived in Texas — both of which are technically a part of the Confederacy but are, because of their unique cultures, are rather sui generis when compared to the core Southern states.

This most recent trip, however, really gave me a chance to drop below the Mason-Dixon line. We traveled almost entirely in Virginia, that core Southern state that sent so many early presidents to the White House, with small detours into Maryland. I came away with a few impressions that I’d like to share with you:

It seems as if every inch of Southern soil has historic significance. No matter where we were, there were connections to American history, whether the settlement in Jamestown, the Colonial era in Williamsburg, or the Civil War in Fredericksburg and Manassas, just to name a few examples.

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If you would like a quick primer on July 4th’s significance….

imageMy friend Wolf Howling, who is probably one of the best educated people in America about the American Revolution, has put together a marvelously lean and informative post about the colonists’s decision to part ways with Britain, including an annotated Declaration of Independence explaining the particular grievances to which the Declaration refers.

Wife beater patriotism

Tattered American flagWhen I moved to Marin County almost two decades ago, one of the things that charmed me was its small town approach to the 4th of July.  Each community had (and still has) a 4th of July parade showcasing local organizations, there’s a big county fair with fireworks, and people festoon their houses with flags.

In this, the 7th year of the reign of Barack Obama, I have to admit that I’m no longer charmed.  I am, instead, jaded and disgusted.  Uber-Progressive Marinites (75% of whom voted for Obama in 2012) love their country in precisely the same way a wife beater loves his wife:  They profess their love for her, even as they criticize everything that makes her unique, and are happy to use brute force to turn her into anything but the person (or nation) they profess to love.

In the wife beater, this pattern shows up as “Yeah, I love my wife.  I only tell her she’s fat and letting herself go so that she can improve herself.  None of her dirt bag friends have the courage to tell her that.”  “I didn’t mean to hit her.  It’s just that I love her so much, when she told me I wasn’t there for her, I got really mad and, like, you know, I just got really mad and that’s how she ended up with the black eye and broken jaw.  It was her fault, you know, ’cause she knows how much I love her.”

Is that wife-beater thinking really any different from the person who flies the flag on the 4th and marches proudly in the parade (as my neighbors do), all the while saying America is racist and holds to evil, hate-filled Judeo-Christian values?  Or from the same people saying, “Our country’s so great we should no longer have any border at all so every immigrant, felon, and terrorist can come here”?  And how about “America is all about greed.  We consume too much.  We need to do away with fossil fuels” (never mind that this kind of thinking hits poor people hardest).

In Marin, it’s really rotten to that last one, because a lot of the 99% and anti-capitalist talk comes from the 1% and even the .0001% of wealth.  They’re not just haters, they’re stupid, suicidal haters — or, at the very least, they’re craven appeasers, hoping desperately that the Marxist alligators with which they’re aligning themselves will eat them last.

So pardon me for being cynical this 4th.  I simply don’t have the stomach to feel celebratory knowing that 75% of my flag-waving neighbors actually hate and want to destroy the country represented by the same flags they’re waving.

And, as is so often the case, I’ve got a song:

[VIDEO] An Australian’s view about what makes America unique and wonderful

Somehow it seems appropriate to note here that 10,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin, turned out to hear Bernie Sanders speak. Please remind me why Americans, who have voted for Obama twice, aren’t stupid enough now to sweep Sanders into office. Otherwise I fear I’ll go all Victorian and fall into a decline just thinking about the possibility of an openly socialist, creepy old man President in the White House.

I understand Obama’s “love” for America

Obama and the mirrorHey, all!  I’m back . . . finally.  Our trip was great, and I’ll have more to say about it (or at least one part of it) later.  Because I have legal work awaiting my attention, though, I can’t really write at length.  I therefore just wanted to say something briefly about Obama’s “love” for country.  To do so, I have to take a quick side trip to my adolescence.

I think that, objectively speaking, both my sister and I were fairly pretty when we were young.  We certainly weren’t ugly, and we had all the nice middle class attributes of straight teeth, contact lenses, fairly good skin, etc., not to mention the ultimate physical attribute — youth. Both of us, however, have now and have always had incredibly low self-esteem when it comes too looks.  I’ve sometimes wondered about this, because I do remember my mother always saying “I love you.  You’re so beautiful.”

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Weird little things that make it feel as if we’re traveling back in time

Old style telephoneThis is not meant to be a whiny post (except when it comes to the bag bans, which still make me see red every time I go shopping).  It’s just meant to be an observation about declines in life quality over the course of my middle-aged life.

When I grew up, our phones had stable connections.  Now, thanks to the miracle of cell phones, my phone hangs up on me about as often as that fancy 1910 phone once hung up on my grandparents.

When I grew up, we kept our house at 72 degrees during the winter.  With the 1974 oil embargo, we lowered it to a chilly 68 degrees.  Nowadays, with utilities more expensive than ever, we keep our house at a frigid 62 degrees.  Of course, when I say “we,” I’m not including Obama.  Thanks to taxpayers, he’s always at a toasty 75 during the winter.

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Funny: Dinesh D’Souza “interviews” Obama

As part of the promotion for his new movie, America, D’Souza did a little cut-and-paste on the interview that Barack Obama did with Zach Galifinakis. It’s fairly amusing. What interested me more was the very last part of the video, which has a preview of America. I have to say that the cuts of America’s contributions to the world gave me chills, so I was primed for the import of the movie’s premise: What if America never existed? It’s a shame that these movies don’t make it to Marin.

A nation founded by geniuses, but run by Democrats

A friend sent me this great Facebook post:

A Country Founded by Geniuses, but Run by Democrats

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses, but is run by Democrats.

If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses, but is run by Democrats.

If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses, but is run by Democrats.

If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses, but is run by Democrats.

If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses, but is run by Democrats.

If an 80-year-old woman or a three-year-old girl who is confined to a wheelchair can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses, but is run by Democrats.

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses, but is run by Democrats.

If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses, but is run by Democrats.

If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion, while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses, but is run by Democrats.

And this is what Orwell’s “doublethink” is all about: “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

American Conservatory Theater’s “1776 — The Musical”: a review (and a history lesson)

Last night, we went to see the American Conservative Conservatory Theater’s production of 1776 — The Musical.  It was a lovely production, with almost uniformly strong performances.  1776 hit Broadway in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam war and one year into Nixon’s first term.  Although ostensibly meant to record (musically) those Continental Congress deliberations that led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence (it starts on May 7, 1776, and concludes on July 4, 1776), the book’s writers couldn’t resist throwing in some pro-Democrat, anti-War politics along the way — but more on that later.

The play’s energy comes from John Adams, the explosive, deeply committed patriot who was, as the characters keep reminding him, “obnoxious and disliked,” but was nevertheless respected for his driving will.  The character is drawn as cantankerous, loyal, brilliant, and devoted to his wife, Abigail.  Credit goes to John Hickok for his solid performance.  He acted well, sang well, and danced well, which is always a good thing in musical theater.

Likewise, Andrew Boyer was a charming Benjamin Franklin, a genius, wit, patriot, and semi-faux dilettante who was, nevertheless, just as committed to the cause of liberty as was Adams.  Unlike Howard da Silva, the actor in the original stage version, who also starred in the 1972 movie of the same name, Boyer did not use a booming, deep voice for the part.  Instead, he opted for the slightly tremulous voice of an older man.  On rare occasions, his words seemed to slither down his neck and into his collar, but overall making it clear that Franklin had been around a while made for a smart performance.

Brandon Dahlquisit played Thomas Jefferson, and while he was occasionally too languid and passive for my taste, he had a lovely voice.

Although the three leads anchored the play, the star turns came from Jeff Parker, as John Dickinson, the landed Pennsylvanian who would not separate from England, and Jared Zimmerman, as Edward Rutledge, the slave-owning North South Carolina planter who would not tolerate Jefferson’s stand against slavery in the proposed Declaration of Independence and who, in a magnificently delivered performance of Molasses to Rum, about the “triangle trade“, reminded the assembled New Englanders that they too profited from slavery.  Both men fully inhabited their roles and their singing was better than the lead actors.  Parker also demonstrated true professionalism when he refused to let a bloody nose impair one of his key scenes defending the status quo.

The rest of the cast turned in equally fine performances.  There are only two female roles in the play, but both actresses carried them off well.  Abby Mueller, as Abigail Adams, couldn’t sing as well as she could act, but her acting was warm and immediate enough to overcome her occasional lapses into sour notes.  Andrea Prestinario, who had the one other female role, as Martha Jefferson, Thomas’s new bride, was pretty as a picture and could sing quite well.  She was a little too enthusiastic as Jefferson’s well-loved bride the morning after, but it was a charming performance.

As for the rest of the men portraying the delegates to the Continental Congress, military messengers, and pages, each fully carried his own weight.  Their performances were fluent and their singing was tuneful (always a good thing in a musical).

The production quality was as good as the acting.  The set was a simple one, never shifting from the interior of Constitution Hall (as it’s now known) in Philadelphia.  The men sat at and moved around tables set in tiers, with the highest point occupied by John Hancock, the Congress’s president, and the Congress’s secretary.  On the stage’s left, were those opposed to independence (southern slavers and northern landowners) and on the right were those who supported it (small northern farmers, laborers, and professionals).  The costumes were just right — neither too fancy, nor too plain — and the nine-pierce orchestra, which was hidden under a stage extension built over the pit, did a delightful and professional job.

All in all, it was as good a performance as one could ask for.  And yet, I still have quibbles.

Quibble number one:  The second act drags.  The first act has several cheerful, rousing, clever songs.  The second act is dominated by dirges about war and slavery.  The entire audience was getting very restless in the last half hour.  A man seated near me fell asleep, snoring loudly; another person kept burping; while a third man went on a knuckle-cracking binge.  I understand that the authors wanted us to have a sense of how fragile the alliance was between north and south, and landed and professional, but the second act should have been trimmed, either when written or when produced.

Quibble number two:  The waltz did not exist in 1776, although it crops up in two musical numbers.  Just sayin’….

Quibble number three (and this is the big one):  When John Dickinson makes the case for staying loyal to England, the Mother Country that has served many well, and that offers tremendous opportunities in the new world for wealth and advancement, the scene ends with slave-0wners and the gentry singing “Cool, Cool Considerate Men.”  By the time the song begins, the audience fully understands that these are the “bad” guys  because they support slavery and big money at the expense of “the people.” Having established this premise, the song then goes on the attack against Republicans, circa 1969.  The men identify themselves as “conservative” and, in a repeated chorus, say that the country must move “to the right” and never “to the left.”

The audience in San Francisco loved this song, chortling every time the dandified 1 percenters moved “to the right.”  I, on the other hand, wanted to stand up and holler out, don’t you guys know any history?  The notion of conservative is as 19th century construct, while the ideas of Left and Right originated with French Revolution, in 1789, long after the events portrayed.

Speaking of the French Parliament, Baron de Gauville explained, “We began to recognize each other: those who were loyal to religion and the king took up positions to the right of the chair so as to avoid the shouts, oaths, and indecencies that enjoyed free rein in the opposing camp.” It’s worth keeping in mind that the ones on the Left eventually relied on the guillotine to make their point.

No one in the Continental Congress was moving either Left or Right.  Nor was the Revolution one of the “workers of the world,” since this was a pre-industralized era, versus “capitalists.”  The American revolution was a middle class revolution.  Middle class people in the north (farmers, tradesman, professionals) and middle class people in the south (plantation owners, tradesman, professionals) were yearning for economic freedom.  They actually had few problems with the British model for law and society.  They simply resented being bossed around from the other side of the Atlantic, often to their economic detriment.

For a song to imply that Republicans — the party that freed the slaves — are a bunch of Neanderthal racists is invariably irritating, and tends to blunt my enjoyment of 1776.  It also foments stupidity in the audience, blunting their ability to realize that Republicans, who value individual liberty, are the heirs of the Founders, as opposed to Democrats, the party of big government, who would have chosen, in 1776, to remain wedded to England, with everyone subordinate to the King.

If you’re in the Bay Area, and want to see a good performance of a Broadway classic, I can recommend this production.  Just keep in mind that, despite the strong often impressive reliance on historic events, it’s entertainment, not fact.