Today: British opposition grows to the American Revolution, Marconi makes the first transatlantic radio signal, the Paris Climate Agreement is signed, the First Crusade is fought, Christmas Music . . .
Today: British opposition grows to the American Revolution, Marconi makes the first transatlantic radio signal, the Paris Climate Agreement is signed, the First Crusade is fought, Christmas Music . . .
A look at some of the history and holidays on December 8
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is held on this day to celebrate the belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary — i.e., that from the moment of her birth, Mary, the chosen of God to bear Jesus, was herself born without sin. “The feast was first solemnized as a Holy Day of Obligation [in] . . . 1708 under the Papal Bull Commissi Nobis Divinitus by Pope Clement XI and is often celebrated with Mass, parades, fireworks, processions, ethnic foods, and cultural festivities in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is generally considered a Family Day, especially in many majority Catholic countries.”
A look at some of the history and holidays on December 7
The U.S. and Japan were in ongoing peace negotiations when, at 7:48 AM Hawaii time on this day in 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Honolulu, home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The goal of the IJN was to convince the U.S. to come to an acceptable bargain, or barring that, to sufficiently damage the Pacific Fleet that it would not hinder Japanese planned offensive operations in the Pacific against resource rich Islands controlled variously by Britain, the Netherlands and the U.S.
Three U.S. Aircraft Carriers assigned to the Pacific Fleet were operating outside of Pearl Harbor when the IJN attacked. The IJN was aware of this but was operating on the premise, incorrect, that battleships would be the decisive weapons of naval warfare. The reality turned out to be that airpower launched from the carriers was decisive. Thus, the IJN attack at Pearl Harbor, even though it sunk 4 battleships and damaged four others, was not the decisive blow the Japanese had hoped. Moreover, the IJN forces concentrated on the ships in and around the harbor and the airplanes on the ground. The IJN did not attack Pearl Harbor’s support facilities whose loss would have severely hampered the American navy.
Ninety minutes after the IJN attack began, it was over. The U.S. have suffered 2,403 people killed and 1,143 were wounded, Japanese losses were minimal, but they withdrew from the battle thinking incorrectly that they had succeeded in their mission. The U.S. was able to regroup, and with its aircraft carriers intact, scored a strategic victory in the Battle of the Coral Sea six months later.
In 1994, Congress passed a resolution making Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in honor of the Americans who perished and were injured in the attack.
In America, the term Right Wing is misused to imply that conservative Americans are fascists lusting for world domination; in fact, the opposite is true.
(As my regular readers (to whom I am endlessly grateful) know, I was away from my blog for some time caring for a relative who had surgery. Being away that long gave me time to think about “going a little crazy,” as Bob Ross likes to say when he adds another tree to a painting. In my case, “going a little crazy” meant wondering if I could do a video as well as a podcast.
In addition to the time spent researching how to do go about making a Power Point video (I’ve got to start somewhere), it took me six hours to create a 35 minute video and companion podcast. They both are a little glitchy, but not bad for a first effort. I will get better. But I will never forget my readers, so here is the same content in written form.)
The idea for this video came when I ended my trip with a much-needed massage. Because this is Tennessee, my masseur is a liberty-oriented man so, in the midst of a far-ranging conversation, he asked this question: “Why are conservatives called “fascists,” when fascism is a socialist doctrine?” An excellent question, and one I wanted to answer here.
The reality is that, even though the media loves to talk about “right wingers” (although never left wingers), there is no “left wing” versus “right wing” in America, at least as those terms are understood in the rest of the world. Instead, we only have liberty versus tyranny, along with the supporters of both those ideologies.
Ironically enough, although the French Revolution post-dated the end of the American revolution by six years, the terms “right wing” and “left wing” are leftovers from that overseas kerfuffle. Let me explain.
The French Revolution had as its slogan “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” Liberty, equality, fraternity! In the context of the French Revolution, those words were always lies.
At the start of the Revolution, France had an absolute monarchy that sat on top of a large, equally absolutist aristocracy. It was not a sustainable system, and the revolutionaries intended to topple it. However, unlike the American revolutionaries who envisioned limited government coupled with individual liberty, that’s not what the French wanted. Instead, the revolutionaries imagined an absolutist commune, with the monarchy and aristocracy replaced by an equally controlling cabal of “the people.”
In this Bookworm Podcast, I examine how the term “Right Wing” is misused to imply that conservative Americans are fascists lusting for world domination.
My latest podcast is up and running. You can listen to it through the audio embed below, or at LibSyn, or through Apple Podcasts. Also — and this is a grand experiment I cooked up while spending 12 hours hopscotching from Tennessee to California and another 12 hours (a week later) making the return trip — I’ve made a companion video, which I’ve also embedded below.
The video is very much an experiment and I have to confess that the video and the companion podcast (which is a direct copy of the audio on the video, minus some long pauses) have a few rough spots. I’ve figured out how to work out those rough spots, but after spending more than six hours yesterday making a 35 minute video, I was just too “done with” the project to make repairs. Bear with me, though, for it will get better. [Read more…]
A look at some of the history and holidays on November 21
Though pope but for four years and a half, he exerted a deep influence on the development of church polity, of the liturgy and ecclesiastical discipline. A large number of his decrees have been incorporated into the Canon Law.
In his private life Gelasius was above all conspicuous for his spirit of prayer, penance, and study. He took great delight in the company of monks, and was a true father to the poor, dying empty-handed as a result of his lavish charity. Dionysius Exiguus in a letter to his friend, the priest Julian (P.L., LXVII, 231), gives a glowing account of Gelasius as he appeared to his contemporaries.
That said, Gelasius is important also to secular history. One, Gelasius advocated the primacy of the Roman Pope over the Eastern Orthodox Church, furthering the schism that would, before long, split apart those two bodies. Two, Gelasius wrote the Famuli vestrae pietatis, a letter laying out the position of the Church that the clerisy had primary power to pronounce on moral and spiritual matters, while Kings had the power to direct on secular matters in the worldly domain. This would be a point of contention between Popes and Kings for over the next millennium.
1877 – Thomas Edison announced his first truly major invention — the phonograph, a machine that can record and play sound. It would be another ten years before the phonograph became commercially viable.
Edison was a home schooled child with hearing loss from scarlet fever and perhaps an accident. At fifteen he left home and wandered the mid-West during the Civil War, supporting himself as a telegraph operator. Returning home, he eventually made it to New York where he sold one of his earliest inventions, an improved stock ticker, for $40,000. With that wealth, he ceased work as a telegraph operator and began life as a fulltime inventor and businessman. In 1876, Edison moved to Menlo Park, New Jersey, and built his own personal industrial research facility, complete with machine shops and laboratories. It was there that, by accident, he invented the phonograph. It proved to be just one of his many profitable inventions. In 1879 he patented the first successful light bulb and began the first investor owned utility, General Electric Corp. All in all, over his lifetime, this man, with no formal education, was granted over a thousand patents for everything from motion pictures to car batteries. It is safe to say that many of the amenities of modern life got their start in Edison’s workshops.
A look at some of the history, holidays & observances on November 16
In the early 1700’s, the Netherlands colonized the small island and operated it as the world’s great smuggling supermarket. Before the Revolution, American smugglers went there for three staples of colonial life: French molasses, Spanish Madeira and Dutch tea. In the critical years from 1775 to 1780, Americans went there for gunpowder and weapons. It proved of vital importance to the success of the Revolution. So today, in honor of the shady entrepreneurs of St. Eustacia, drink a few toasts with the national spirit of the Netherlands, gin . . . and get double points if it is smuggled.
1776 – American Revolutionary War: The Battle of Fort Washington
The year 1776 was a wildly swinging pendulum for the Patriots. It started exceptionally well. In March, Washington had forced the British out of Boston. In June, the Patriots in South Carolina beat back the first major British invasion of the war at Charleston in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island. Then the 2nd Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence. After that, the pendulum went in the other direction, as the British Army nearly annihilated the Continental Army in New York, with the nadir coming at the disastrous Battle of Fort Washington.
The battle was fought as part of Britain’s second major offensive of the war, this one aimed at capturing the port of New York and the colony of New Jersey. Washington defended with the Continental Army in some depth in the area of New York City, but in a series of actions, was driven back across the Hudson River, leaving only one fortified Patriot defense, Fort Washington, on Manhattan Island. Manned by some 3,000 soldiers, Washington considered withdrawing the troops, but was swayed by Gen. Greene and others to maintain the post, believing that the Fort could hold out for months against a sustained British attack. At 7 a.m. on this date in 1776, the British had maneuvered into position and began their assault on the forward defenses of the Fort. By 4 p.m. that day, the fighting was over and the commander of the Fort surrendered it to the British. The Americans had suffered 59 killed, 96 wounded casualties, and some 2,838 men, captured. It was one of the three worst defeats of the war for the Patriots (the other two coming in 1780, both in South Carolina, first at the Siege of Charleston, then at the Battle of Camden). Of the 2,838 captured, so severe were the conditions in which they were held by the British, many on prison ships in New York Harbor, that only 800 remained alive some 18 months later.
Following this defeat, Washington began a retreat across New Jersey. It seemed that defeat for the Revolution was inevitable. But there would be yet one more wild swing of the pendulum to go for the Patriots in 1776 — all due to Washington’s dogged determination. But that wouldn’t come until December 26. Stay tuned.
An eclectic survey of this day in history
Christian Feast of the Lübeck martyrs, three Catholic and one Lutheran Priest executed on this date in 1943 for their opposition to the Nazis.
Christian Feast of Pope Leo I, one of the most consequential of the early Popes, he is best known for convincing Attila The Hun to turn back from his invasion of Italy. He died on this date in 461 A.D.
1202 – Fourth Crusade & The Siege of Zara
The major challenge to the Western World for the millennium beginning in the 8th century came from a Muslim world bent on conquest and imposing their religion by the sword. These Muslim armies, from 700 A.D. until their final defeat in 1683 A.D. at the Gates of Vienna, accomplished the largest imperial expansion in all of history.
The Crusades were wars launched by Europe in response. Most were undertaken with the blessing of — and often at the direction of — the papacy. Most were aimed directly at driving back the Islamic invaders and rolling back their conquests. The Fourth Crusade started as one such war, in part to drive the Islamists out of Egypt, a country the Arab conquerors had overrun in 642 A.D. But it ended up being never setting foot in Egypt. Instead, the leaders of the Crusade began laying siege to and sacking Christian cities for their wealth, including the center of Eastern European Christianity, Constantinople (today known as Istanbul, Turkey). Pope Innocent III, threatened to excommunicate the leaders of this crusade when, on 10 Nov. 1202, they began a siege of the Christian town of Zara, Croatia.
The Fourth Crusade was a disaster for the West. It weakened south central European nations and, ironically, made them ripe for further Islamic conquest.
AG Barr recently spoke eloquently on religious liberty. Progressive legal analyst Jeffery Toobin vomited canards and bald assertions in response.
In a speech at Notre Dame Law School on October 11, Attorney General William Barr asserted that government needs to prioritize protecting religious freedom. To summarize briefly, Barr observed that the Founders held that the new country needed to be built upon Judeo-Christians moral underpinnings, in large part because those values were inextricably intertwined with our being a “free” and functioning nation. For the past half century or more, though, progressives have been attacking these religions, seeking to drive them from the public square while offering no viable alternative. The cost of that to our society has been “grim.” Thus we must act to protect religious liberty in this country from the progressive onslaught.
Barr makes so many insightful and nuanced points of such great importance to the character and functioning of our nation, and he does so with such elegance, that I cannot possibly do his speech justice in any sort of summary. For instance, Barr points out that the Judeo-Christian religions provide a “shared set of moral values” flowing from a transcendent God that teach us both restraint and positive action in a way beneficial to society as a whole. Says Barr, “but, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.” It really is a speech that every American should read or watch. You can read the full text of his remarks here, and you can watch the video below:
Sadly, not only Leftists, but beleaguered working and lower middle class voters will like the Bernie promise to make their lives safer and easier.
Monica Showalter of American Thinker, is one of the most astute political bloggers out there. Nevertheless, I believe her conservative outlook caused her to make a conceptual error. Today she wrote a short post about an Axios list of the things Bernie wants to bring under government control — and Showalter thinks that Axios published the list because it’s concerned about Bernie’s proposed power grab:
In a startling Axios summary list called “Bernie Sanders’ 2020 plan to restructure your life,” Axios publisher Jim Vanderhei (and Juliet Bartz), are sounding the alarm about the nightmare scenario of a potential Bernie Sanders presidency.
The piece was featured in Mike Allen’s widely read Top 10 — at the top. It’s a piece that looks like it belongs more at Issues & Insights than center-left Axios. Axios warns that Sanders is surging in the polls and influencing other Democratic candidates with his ideas and they don’t sound happy.
I have to disagree with Showalter. First of all, looking at the list from the purely Proggie viewpoint, I think it’s a very happy list. In the chart below, the left-hand column quotes verbatim from that Axios summary. The right-hand column has the reaction from the average hard-core, college-educated Leftist. [Read more…]
In addition to being an obvious effort to sow racial discord in America, the 1619 Project is based upon false, shoddy, and uninformed “scholarship.”
Let’s take a deeper dive than I did yesterday into the evil of Project 1619. Let’s take a look at the work of two academics who figure prominently in it, Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond and Cornell historian Edward Baptist. Are they pushing scholarship or race hustling?
I have been lambasted in the comments to the post linked above for pointing out that the 1619 Project is a revision of history designed to sow racial hatred and division for unrelated political ends — and opining that it is mother of all tosses of the race card. To paraphrase the comments, “No, no, this is just a fair look at history. It is benign. There is no ulterior motive here.” Yeah . . . bull.
Neo-Marxist progressives are in a full court press to destroy the foundations of this nation by tying the Constitution, the application of our laws, and our economic system to racism. The problem is, there is precious little overt modern day racism in this country — and indeed, apparently most of what accounts for actual racial incidents today on the fringes of society are more likely than not to be hoaxes.
What is a good proggie to do? Well, claim everything is inherently racist or, to use the words of the NYT in announcing the 1619 Project, all that the neo-Marxists progressives oppose is the “legacy of slavery [that] continues to shape our country.”
There is nothing fair or benign about any of this. To falsely stir up racial tensions in this country, the cause of so much pain, suffering and loss of life, is pure evil. Let’s drill down on just one example, the 1619 Project’s neo-Marxist assault on capitalism and the modern wealth of this nation. Matthew Desmond, an ivy-league professor of Sociology, as part of the NYT Project 1619, authored an essay entitled In Order to Understand the brutality of American Capitalism, You Have to Start On The Plantation. Heavily anecdotal, it is much more of an appeal to emotion than reason.
Desmond begins his introduction to the “brutality of American capitalism” by giving the example of Martin Shkreli: [Read more…]
Not only is she a squirrely character, Elizabeth Warren’s plans are openly socialist — and socialism’s history proves how dangerous this is for Americans.
(If you prefer listening to reading, the companion podcast is embedded below, or you can listen to it at Libsyn or at Apple podcasts. I’m trying to make a go of my podcast so, if you like it, please share it with your friends and on social media. Giving it good ratings helps too.)
It seems that Elizabeth Warren has had a sudden polling surge in Iowa:
A new Iowa Starting Line-Change Research poll shows the senator opening up a commanding lead in the Iowa Caucus. Warren was the top pick of 28% of likely Iowa Caucus-goers in the poll, an 11-point lead over the nearest competitor. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were both tied for second with 17% each. Pete Buttigieg came in fourth at 13% and Kamala Harris has the backing of 8%.
Given the undistinguished field in which she finds herself, Warren could conceivably ride this bump to a nomination, so I figured I’d say a few words about her. First, as always when I talk about Warren, let me explain that I’m completely biased. I had her as a banking law professor before she realized that she could use her family mythology about her high cheekbones as proof of a distant Native American heritage as leverage for a professorship at Harvard.
Back in the day, Warren was just another professor. In class, I found her confusing, because she had a habit of starting on thought B before finishing thought A. (Confession: I was often confused at law school, but I found her more confusing than most of my professors.) I therefore often found myself in Warren’s office. There, she was friendly, soft spoken . . . and still confusing.
My animus towards her comes from the fact that she assured me certain things wouldn’t be on the final exam . . . yet they were. If memory serves me, I managed to pull a middle to high “B” in the class, which certainly didn’t scar my subsequent legal career, so my dislike for her isn’t rooted in some sort of “she ruined my life” emotion. I just really dislike soft-spoken liars who are boring and confusing teachers.
The next time I heard about Warren was when I discovered she was gaining national celebrity by pointing out the obvious: Affluent people will flock to regions that have reputations for offering good public K-12 schooling, thereby driving up real estate prices. I think a lot of people without Harvard credentials could have figured that one out. If I had been Warren’s teacher, I would have given her an “A” for self promotion and an “F” for original thought. As it was, I was actually kind of impressed that she’d managed to take an unoriginal mind and marginal teaching skills, and go so far.
But now Warren is socialist political candidate and I don’t just dislike her, I worry that the media, helped along with the Leftists in Silicon Valley, could actually propel her to the White House. The fact that Warren has attacked the social media giants is irrelevant. When push comes to shove, if she’s the candidate, they’ll do everything they can to get her into the White House. Once there — God forbid! — Warren might prove herself a more competent and effective administrator than Obama when it comes to imposing socialism on America.
So I guess it’s time to revisit the attacks I made on socialism back in 2016, when it looked like Bernie had a chance, before Hillary’s Super Delegates and other fixers told him to stand down and be quiet. Back then, I created a little Blogger site I named “I Don’t Like Bernie, Because….” I put up four posts there before it became apparent that Bernie would be marginalized, at which point I stopped posting there and returned to my regularly scheduled attacks on Hillary here at the Bookworm Room.
To the extent that Elizabeth Warren is open about her socialism (does she even bother to call it “Democratic Socialism”?), I’m going to import here almost wholesale my post about the history and horrors of socialism. I know you can find better posts on the internet and better books in the library, but this one is mine, it’s what I’ve got, and I’m going with it: [Read more…]
We are in the 7th decade of a slo-mo socialist revolution in America, but there are signs it will be followed by a successful Second American Revolution.
One of my favorite books is Daddy-Long-Legs, an epistolary novel that Jean Webster wrote in 1912. The letter writer is Judy Abbott, a young woman who was raised in an orphanage but who ends up at a college much like Vassar (Webster’s own alma mater) thanks to an anonymous benefactor. The benefactor has only one request for Judy in exchange for her four years at an elite women’s college: She must send him letters describing her college experience. It’s a sweet book and stands the test of time very well.
Jean Webster herself was a very Progressive woman in the Woodrow Wilson mode. Indeed, true to the whole Wilson/Margaret Sanger political and social ethos in which she lived, her sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs, another epistolary novel called Dear Enemy, Webster argues strongly in favor of eugenics. The book never mentions abortion, but it makes a vigorous case that “defectives” — alcoholics and people with family histories of insanity or just not being very bright — should not be allowed to breed. Poor Webster might have done better herself had she chosen not to breed, for she died in 1916 from childbirth fever.
But back to Daddy Long Legs…. At one point in the novel, Webster has her heroine announce that she is a revolutionary, but not the nasty violent kind. Instead, she is a nice revolutionary:
Hooray! I’m a Fabian.
That’s a Socialist who’s willing to wait. We don’t want the social revolution to come to-morrow morning; it would be too upsetting. We want it to come very gradually in the distant future, when we shall all be prepared and able to sustain the shock. In the meantime we must be getting ready, by instituting industrial, educational and orphan asylum reforms.
Webster’s was a pithy and accurate definition of Fabian socialism.
Thinking about it, a Fabian revolution is precisely what we’ve seen taking place in America since the years after World War II. Other countries’ revolutions — or even America’s own 18th century revolution — have been violent, abrupt upheavals. Societal institutions resisted the revolutionary ideas until guns and blood effected a change.
In America, the middle class sought freedom from overweening government power and corruption. In France, the intellectual class sought to switch to itself the power that the monarch had long held. The same was true with the Russian revolution. In China, rather unusually, it was the workers and the students who overthrew, not just the corrupt government, but the intellectual class as well, a model Pol Pot followed in Cambodia. You can mentally page through other revolutions around the world and see that they’re bloody affairs. [Read more…]
With Alabama’s abortion law now more in line with Europe’s laws than America’s, Americans Progressives are going crazy — plus other good political posters.
Universal Basic Income is the touchstone of this illustrated edition, but there’s more, such as socialism, Bernie, Biden, gender, immigration, and avocados.
This will be an illustrated edition, but I first want to say a few words about Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang and his Universal Basic Income idea. Before I get to the substance, I want to congratulate Yang for talking to Ben Shapiro about his ideas. It was the kind of civilized discussion that America deserves, far from the hysterical, agenda-driven, drive-by media. Shapiro notes that he has invited all the candidates to his podcast, but only Yang accepted the invitation.
While I greatly respect Yang for reaching out to a different audience and engaging in a civilized debate, I cannot agree with his primary idea, which is the Universal Basic Income. As best as I can tell, it’s just welfare by another name. That’s because Yang sees it, not as just a handout to everyone, or a handout to everyone in a certain income bracket. Instead, he sees it as an alternative to welfare or to disability. He’s into the psychology of it: People will not see themselves as welfare cases or as disabled. I don’t believe that will be the case. I think it will be an incentive for those who don’t want to work.
I’ve talked about those people before. Thanks to a friend of mine, I, unlike most college educated, middle- to upper-middle class Leftists have seen many of the permanently unemployed or underemployed up close and personal. Either they don’t work at all or, if they do work, their jobs never last. Why don’t they last? They don’t last because these people are not committed to jobs. They don’t show up, they get bored, they call in sick for every little thing, their substance abuse gets in the way. And most importantly, they don’t mind the minimal lifestyle of food stamps and other welfare payments. They are not upwardly mobile; they are couch-wardly mobile.
Here’s something to think about: To the extent my friend’s friends have broken that cycle, they’ve done it in one way and one way only — they’ve become Born-Again Christians. No fooling. I don’t know if finding God changes them or if they’re changing and finding God is just one change among many. It’s that, though, that gets them off drugs and on to reliability and that gets them off welfare and on to self-sufficiency. All the government payments do is maintain a very low-level but, to them, satisfying status quo.
Ultimately, Universal Basic Income is just another Big Government program that will not help the poor and that will not help the economy in the way Yang imagines. He’s correct that we are at an employment hinge point in history, with AI and other robotics about to squeeze many out of jobs, but Universal Basic Income is not going to the fix he thinks it will be.
Anyway, here’s that illustrated edition, starting with two Universal Basic Income pictures: [Read more…]