Five hundred and twenty-five years ago, Christopher Columbus completed an ambitious and daring voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. The voyage was a remarkable and then-unparalleled feat that helped launch the age of exploration and discovery. The permanent arrival of Europeans to the Americas was a transformative event that undeniably and fundamentally changed the course of human history and set the stage for the development of our great Nation. Therefore, on Columbus Day, we honor the skilled navigator and man of faith, whose courageous feat brought together continents and has inspired countless others to pursue their dreams and convictions — even in the face of extreme doubt and tremendous adversity.
More than five centuries after his initial voyage, we remember the “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” for building the critical first link in the strong and enduring bond between the United States and Europe. While Isabella I and Ferdinand II of Spain sponsored his historic voyage, Columbus was a native of the City of Genoa, in present day Italy, and represents the rich history of important Italian American contributions to our great Nation. There can be no doubt that American culture, business, and civic life would all be much less vibrant in the absence of the Italian American community. We also take this opportunity to reaffirm our close ties to Columbus’s country of birth, Italy. Italy is a strong ally and a valued partner in promoting peace and promoting prosperity around the world.
Did the Holocaust’s shadow give Progressive Jews such a fear of dying that they cling to a political ideology promising (but not delivering) peaceful death?
A theory that popped into my mind yesterday that may help explain the mystery of the Progressive Jew, a person who clings desperately to the Democrat party despite the party’s escalating hostility to Jews and Israel. I wonder if it’s all tied into the way in which the Holocaust weighs on Jews of my generation.
I got started on this line of thinking because an old, although not terribly close, friend of mine died yesterday. When I say “old,” I don’t mean chronologically old. He was my age — mid-50s — which I consider to be on the slightly younger side of middle-age. (Perhaps that’s wishful thinking.) His death was also not entirely unexpected, because it was a recurrence of a problem he’d had before and was fighting for years.
My friend is not the first of the increasingly frequent brushes with mortality that are intertwining with my life. The older generation — parents, relatives, colleagues, all in their 80s and 90s — are passing away with relentless frequency. That’s to be expected. What’s more disturbing for me is the number of people, such as my deceased friend, who are my age and succumbing to cancer, heart disease, the effects of substance abuse, and other ills that start chasing us as we age.
What I’ve noticed is that my religious friends face death differently than my non-religious friends. They’re not resigned, which indicates a lack of hope, but they’re philosophical and that philosophy melds with the hope, allowing them to focus on the treatment process without too much fear. They see themselves as part of a greater plan, with God as their partner. If this plan denies them recovery, Christians look to the promise of Heaven; Jews put their faith in the final resurrection.
In contrast, my atheist friends have nothing to hang on to. The Grim Reaper is threatening them without rhyme or reason and then, at the end, there’s nothing.
I think, though, that there’s an added twist for many contemporary secular Jews when they consider death. By the way, when I say “secular,” I’m including non-Orthodox Jews who follow the outward form of worship in reform and “lite” conservative synagogues. They belong to a Temple, they attend on the High Holy days, and they probably send their kids to Sunday school . . . but they don’t believe in God. For them, these are rituals that tie them to their childhood communities, that fulfill a long for tradition, and that are a strong part of their Jewish identity. [Read more…]
The Second Amendment recognizes that evil exists by giving free people the best weapon to fight back. Sometimes, tho’, life is such that evil still wins.
Now that the Progressives have gotten into their groove attacking the Second Amendment, there is a lot of material defending the Second Amendment and exposing just how bad (and tyrannical) Progressive arguments are. I’ve also included a few other topical and just plain funny posters.
When it comes to the Second Amendment, Leftists measure it by those who die from guns; constitutionalists measure it by those who survive thanks to guns.
With the Las Vegas massacre having reopened the endless Progressive attack against the Second Amendment, I remembered that there’s a book on the subject — my book to be precise: Our Second Amendment Rights In Ten Essays. In an attempt to inveigle you into buying it, here’s an excerpt from Essay 5: “Gun Grabbers Ignore That Guns Not Only Take Lives, They Save Lives” (end notes omitted).
5. Gun Grabbers Ignore That Guns Not Only Take Lives, They Save Lives
When it comes to guns, the gun grabbers suffer from a very bizarre limitation: Their mental horizons allow them to see only those who died because of guns, not to recognize those who did not die thanks to guns. This myopia creates the giant intellectual chasm that separates those who oppose the Second Amendment from those who support it. The former see only the people who died in the past while the latter also see the ones who will live on into the future.
Logically, we all know that people are going to die under any circumstances. Given that existential reality, the important question is not whether people will die because of guns. Instead, the important question is whether more people will live than will die thanks to guns. Leftists, however, cannot grasp that simple idea.
Perhaps it would help these gun-grabbing Leftists to read Frédéric Bastiat’s magnificent Parable of the Broken Window, which the French economist wrote in 1850. If the parable doesn’t seem relevant at first, please bear with me, and I will explain why it matters:
Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son has happened to break a pane of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation – “It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?”
Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.
Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier’s trade — that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs — I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.
But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”
It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented. (Emphasis mine.)
For a brief time, the civil war at the 1968 Chicago Democrat Party convention was more consequential than the battles still taking place in Vietnam.
In my previous post about the Ken Burns’ Vietnam documentary, I looked at his coverage of the Tet Offensive — both what he included and what he excluded. Last night I watched the episode about the months immediately after the Tet Offensive. Here are a few thoughts:
1. The Tet Offensive was a disaster for North Vietnam. Although Burns shies away from saying it, it’s apparent that, if Johnson had listened to his military advisers, rather than his political advisers, and pressed harder against the North, the war would have ended quickly with a North Vietnamese defeat.
2. Burns touches lightly upon the fact that, in North Vietnam, people were beginning to realize that their government was lying to them. One person stated that the government spoke only of victories (the Tet Offensive was sold as a victory) and never once acknowledged that any troops had died. The fact is, though, when you have over 1 million combatant deaths, people might start noticing.
3. America’s troops in Vietnam were incredibly brave.
4. Burns pushes hard on the narrative that most American men fighting the Vietnam War were mostly poor, dumb college drop-outs who were drafted against their will. Even the Washington Post, though, has acknowledged that this is a myth:
Between 1964 and 1973, volunteers outnumbered enlisted troops by nearly four to one. Nor did the military rely primarily on disadvantaged citizens or African Americans. According to the Report of the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force in February 1970, African Americans “constituted only 12.7 percent of nearly 1.7 million enlisted men serving voluntarily in 1969.” A higher proportion of African Americans were drafted in the early years of the war, but they were not more likely to die in combat than other soldiers. Seventy-nine percent of troops had at least a high school education (compared with 63 percent of Korean War veterans and 45 percent of World War II veterans). And according to VFW Magazine, 50 percent were from middle-income backgrounds, and 88 percent were white (representing 86 percent of the deaths).
Those volunteers who sit for interviews all see the war as a waste and a mistake. That is, once again, Burns excludes from the show men who thought the war was important but that politics prevented it from being successful.
5. American goods kept the Saigon economy afloat, and there was tremendous graft and corruption. I haven’t independently researched this point, but I don’t doubt that it was true. This same corruption saw South Vietnamese troops, based upon information acquired through a CIA program, torture and summarily execute people they thought were Viet Cong. Graft and vengeance killings are historically par for the course in war, but they don’t look good played out on American televisions.
6. What we were seeing at home was a Democrat civil war: the Johnson pro-War party versus the McCarthy anti-War party. That war spilled onto the streets and into the convention hall during the Democrat’s 1968 convention. Neither side came out looking good. And if you’re looking for police brutality, just take a look at Mayor Daley’s good Democrat cops brutally attacking white, middle-class youth. As I discuss at points 8 and 9. below, in 1968 this war was more consequential than the actual fighting in Vietnam. [Read more…]
While not all of the links in this post discuss the Second Amendment, most do. There’s other stuff too, about health care, the economy, etc. It’s all good.
A great book about the Second Amendment. This post focuses heavily on the Second Amendment because, once again, Progressives are using an evil act to justify depriving Americans of a singularly important Constitutional right. I’m therefore opening by shilling my own little book on the subject: Our Second Amendment Rights In Ten Essays. The ten essays are
- A Typical Discussion With Gun Grabbers; Or, What Second Amendment Supporters Are Up Against
- Guns Are Most Dangerous When The Government Is The Only One That Has Them
- America’s Founding Fathers Ratified The Second Amendment Because They Knew That Government Is Dangerous
- A Self-Defended Society Is A Safe Society
- Gun Grabbers Ignore That Guns Not Only Take Lives, They Save Lives
- Beware Of Arguments Comparing American Gun Crime To That In Other Nations; These Arguments Are Always Dishonest
- The Only Way Gun-Control Activists Can Support Their Position Is To Lie
- Disarming Americans Is A Racist Thing To Do; Therefore, Second Amendment Supporters Are Anti-Racists
- Jews, Of All People, Should Always Support The Second Amendment
- If We Really Want To Protect Our Children, We Shouldn’t Ban Guns, We Should Ban School Buses
Those who took the time to review the book were good enough to say nice things:
“An exceptional set of essays addressing with the common progressive attacks on our Second Amendment right, as well as the historical origins of the right and its tremendous importance to our “free state.” In light of the stated intent of certain of our politicians to overturn the Heller decision and make a nullity of the Second Amendment, I would recommend that you read these essays closely.”
“A quick read, but packed with commonsense tracing the history & variously failed implementations of gun control in contravention of our Constitution.”
“Read it, live it, breathe it … for freedom. History shows time and time again that only despots want to disarm citizens. The result? Learn from history.”
“An excellent and incisive book written by one who has a firm grasp of both the subject and the issues at stake.”
“Well written, understandable, and timely. Excellent information.”
“Read this. Your freedom is a risk.”
“Well written and quite thoughtful.”
At the risk of sounding immodest, as the Progressives’ increase their strident demands that we turn all of our weapons over to Donald Trump (yes, that’s effectively what they’re demanding), this book has some useful ways of thinking about guns and a civil society that may help you rebut the insanity.
Nothing like a little data to reveal the stupidity behind gun control. If you haven’t already heard about and read Leah Libresco’s anti-gun control opinion piece at the WaPo, you must. It’s an honest acknowledgement that everything that the gun control crowd argues is wrong — and it comes from one who once supported those arguments until her data studies revealed they had no basis in reality:
Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.
Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns. (Emphasis mine.)
Ken Burns’ manages to be mostly honest in a stunning look at the Tet Offensive, but what he leaves out is as important as what he includes.
Here in the Bookworm home, we’re still working our way through Ken Burns’ Vietnam War documentary. Last night, we got to the part about the Tet Offensive. Having recently been in both Hue and Saigon, the footage of the running battles really resonated with me.
I don’t know why it is, but I find that wars are always more real to me when I see the actual ground on which they took place. When I travel, I visit battlefields, and that’s despite the fact that I’m stunningly unversed in battlefield tactics. Over the years, I’ve visited Carthage, Waterloo, Ypres, the Somme, the Ardennes, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Yorktown, and others I can’t remember now. After seeing the footage of the Tet Offensive, and combining it with my personal visual reference points, I have a better sense of the battle that raged then.
Overall, Burns did an extremely good job of explaining the larger outlines of the lead-up to the Tet Offensive and the offensive itself. He explained the North Vietnamese thinking about a major assault that would cause South Vietnamese troops to defect and the populace to side with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars.
Of the battles themselves, Burns uses footage that helps explain why almost 80 journalists lost their lives in Vietnam. These journalists were right there with the US troops filming away. I got breathless watching because the sense of immediacy was overwhelming. This was Call of Duty, except with real Americans shooting real guns at real enemies, with the enemies shooting back.
Burns makes it plain that the Tet Offensive was a disaster for the North Vietnamese. Not a single South Vietnamese soldier defected; civilians just hid from the fury, fearing the communists even more than their own government; the North Vietnamese lost almost as many fighters in the Tet Offensive as America did over the course of the entire Vietnam war; and the American military proved itself in battle to superb in terms of courage, strategy, and tactics.
Since Stephen Paddock killed 59 people and injured 500 more, his motive is still a mystery. Progressives want gun control through. Let’s talk about that.
Enough time has passed since news broke that Stephen Paddock committed a massacre at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas broke that the facts seem to have settled a bit. Now is therefore as appropriate a time as any for me to blog about it. Before I share my thoughts with you, here are the facts as I understand them:
Stephen Paddock was a 64 year old retired accountant and “ordinary” white guy. He had made a lot of money in real estate, although I’m not clear whether he had a lot of money when he died; he lived in a $400,000 house outside of Las Vegas, which is a valuable house, especially if he had equity in it; he had an attractive live-in girlfriend; he liked to fly; he liked to hunt; and he liked to gamble, although it’s not clear whether his gambling losses exceeded his gains. Oh, and one more thing: His father spent time on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list and was described as a “psychopath.”
Those who knew Paddock, including his family, were absolutely stunned that he would spend several days holed up in a Las Vegas hotel room with a huge cache of weapons that were either automatic or were jury-rigged for automatic fire; that he would have enough ammo to fill a suitcase; that he would have the ingredients for a bomb in his car; that he would fire into a crowd of concert-goers, killing 59 and injuring over 500, many of whom remain in serious condition; and that he would then turn a gun on himself. But it appears that this is exactly what Paddock did.
Regarding the guns, two Nevada dealers who sold him guns have stated that Paddock passed all federal background checks. Moreover, at one of the gun stores, the weapons he bought a rifle that was not fully automatic and a shotgun that lacked the range to do the shooting he accomplished from the 32nd floor. Paddock also apparently had at least one fully automatic weapon in the room and there seems to be no way he could have come by that legally.
Motive? Currently unknown. ISIS is claiming that Paddock converted to Islam a few months ago and carried out this massacre as his own personal jihad. Usually, ISIS has been accurate in claiming a connection between a killing and its loathsome ideology. However, with such a spectacular massacre as this one, it’s entirely possible that ISIS is piggy-backing so it can grandstand about the fearsome universality of its murderous message.
It’s just as likely that Paddock was crazy. Indeed, the part about locking himself up in a high place and then committing suicide reminded me strongly of Charles Whitman, who committed a mass shooting at the University of Texas in Austin back in 1966. (I attended UT, so that massacre is never far from my mind.) Whitman also barricaded himself in a high place, shot as many people as he could, and then killed himself when the police closed in. He too gave no indications before he cracked that he was cracking and his motive has never been determined.
From the first moment news broke about the shooting, though, I knew two things with certainty: Progressives would use the shooting as a platform to demand gun control and Progressives would engage in incredible hate-speech about the victims. The first, of course, was a given, but why did I predict the second to myself? Easy — the shooting took place at a country music concert. To Progressives, country music means God, guns, and Trump. It is their triumvirate of hate. [Read more…]
Gunfire broke out at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, leaving behind a trail of bloody bodies. The police know who did it but haven’t yet shared why.
Insomnia struck so I discovered early about the mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. I’m very fond of Las Vegas. Although I neither drink nor gamble, I love the city’s wacky energy. It should never be despoiled by terrorism.
I’m too lazy to link, but I’ll tell you what I’ve heard, which has not been verified: The shooters were a couple, possibly Asian or Hispanic. He’s dead; the police are in a stand-off with her at the couple’s home outside of Vegas. They may have used a fully automatic weapon — totally illegal so not one the gun grabbers can complain about. [In a comment, David Miller enlightens me: automatic weapons are not illegal but are tightly regulated, making it more likely than not that the shooter[s] were illegal.]
Motive currently unknown. I’m equally divided between Islamic terrorism and disgruntled employees.
I’m going to make another attempt at sleep here. Feel free to use the comments section for updates or discussion.
Watcher’s Council members and their friends are at it again, writing insightful, entertaining posts about the situation at home and abroad.
Discounting the bias built into Ken Burns’ Vietnam War documentary, it provides food for thought about the politics of war, hubris, and 20/20 hindsight.
Following Mr. Bookworm’s return from a business trip, we resumed watching Ken Burns’ documentary about the Vietnam War. We just finished Episode 4, which ends right before the Tet Offensive is to begin in early 1968.
All of my comments have to be understood in a specific context: I’ve never studied the war. I have childhood memories of watching Walter Cronkite discuss it on the nightly news; I remember hearing about it endlessly (always negatively) growing up; I have read about bits and pieces of it in some depth over the years, but never had a coherent history; and I am a student of history, so I have some perspective on war in general.
Here are my thoughts, in no particular order. As always, I would love to hear from those of you who are also watching; who have knowledge about the war, whether first hand or academic; or who just want to chime in on the subject. Also as always, my only request is that any comments be phrased in a civil way (something everyone has been doing so far).
1. I think Burns is trying to be even-handed. However, I feel there are a couple of missing points of view in terms of those he interviews who experienced the war and their absence is telling.
The Americans who talk about the war are those who were always opposed to the war or those who came to be opposed to the war. All of those interviewed feel that America shouldn’t have fought the war at all. It seems to me that we also ought to hear from people, and I know they exist, who will argue that it was a good war, although carried out stupidly, or that it was a good war and, at least once Nixon started fighting it in dead earnest, one we actually won. Those people have not been interviewed and I don’t anticipate seeing them show up any time soon.
The Vietnamese who talk about the war also represent two points of view, and two only: North Vietnamese who speak as victors; and South Vietnamese who talk about their corrupt government and about American failures. There are no voices talking about the horrors of communism, either in North Vietnam during the war or about all of Vietnam after the war. (And yes, I know we’re still at the end of 1967 in the show’s chronology, but the Americans interviewed certainly have been using 20/20 hindsight to castigate the war, so I don’t see why Vietnamese interviewees can’t do that to castigate the communists.)
Periodically Burns hints at communist tyranny and atrocities, but these quickly fade away. There are no photos and no personal narratives.
The history of the Vietnam War is incomplete without those missing voices. [Read more…]
A portmanteau post addressing Antifa, Puerto Rico and Mayor Cruz, and the problem of minorities who try to bend society to their will.
The items in this post bear no relationship to each other, unless you want to say that the first demonstrates how to undermine a civilized, pluralist society, while the second shows how a minority within that society is supposed to balance benefits and burdens. Oh, and there’ll be a detour into Puerto Rico. Still, as I have other things to do, this post is a little bit jumbled.
The first thing I want to bring to your attention is Steve Crowder’s video about going undercover with Antifa in Utah. The two take-aways are (1) that Antifa people are weird losers who get excited by violence and bloodshed and (2) that the media does not want to know about Antifa. It doesn’t fit the narrative and the media is about nothing but narrative:
Speaking of narrative, I’m going to slip one more thing in here, which is the media’s burgeoning narrative that the devastation in Puerto Rico is Trump’s fault for failing to react quickly. In fact, there’s every indication that Trump had FEMA and the military ready to roll. The problem seems to be that Puerto Rico, which is Democrat-governed, has no infrastructure. It also kicked the Navy out a couple of decades ago, meaning (a) that there’s no embedded Navy in place to help and (b) that it kissed good-bye the hundreds of millions that the Navy would have contributed to the economy. [Read more…]
Progressives again show their retreat from reality, this time with a t-shirt claiming MAGA supporters, whose candidate and agenda won, are “losers.”
During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump had promised “We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning.” The MAGA team believed him and he turned the electoral map red everywhere except in coastal areas and large urban enclaves.
True to Trump’s promise, while his administration has made some errors (President Trump should have fired Comey and indicted Hillary on January 22), there’s also been a whole lot of winning. Here’s a partial list:
- Justice Gorsuch is a win.
- The roster of conservative judges President Trump is nominating to the federal court system is an ongoing win.
- Withdrawing from the Paris Accord was a win.
- The speech President Trump made at the UN, defining and defending American sovereignty was a win.
- The ongoing effort to shrink the administrative state is a win.
- Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, and Ryan Zinke are wins.
- The booming stock market is a win.
- The slowly expanding economy is a win.
- The Trump administration’s ability to block terror exporting nations from sending people to America is a win.
- ICE’s stepped-up actions and the diminution in the flow of illegal aliens to the US are ongoing wins.
I don’t think any of the MAGA crowd are bored yet with this winning. They’re counting on more. The reality is that, with Trump slowly but steadily dismantling the Obama state, his MAGA supporters are very pleased. Moreover, as the guys at Power Line show (especially Paul Mirengoff), even those who did not vote for Trump, and are not true MAGA-ites, are pleased. It’s been a delight to watch the more reasonable NeverTrumpers come around.
It’s also been pretty darn pleasing watching the new converts talk to those who have walled themselves off in NeverTrump Land (a cold, dank, hopeless, ugly place). What they’re saying is that the obdurate NeverTrumpers have become intellectually dishonest and are making themselves pariahs to all thinking conservatives.
With all this MAGA winning in mind, how in the world does one explain this t-shirt? [Read more…]
The underlying thread in most of the following posters is that Stupid Leftists are having way too much of a say in politics and culture.
South Park tackles an appropriate response for people who discover that, at the DNA level, they’re not as Caucasian as they thought they were.