In 1492, Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

Arms of the Portuguese Prince Henry, the Navig...

Image via Wikipedia

Another Columbus Day has come. And again we celebrate the (re)discovery of the New World. And look what has been erected on that discovery! If you didn’t know; Columbus was a student of Prince Henry the Navigator’s school.

Those students made almost all of the voyages of discovery from the Iberian Peninsula. By the way, Prince Henry of  Portugal was the Grandson of John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster. The English always make it into these stories of the sea, don’t they?

So we know that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. But why? His crews were afraid of starving or falling off the edge of the world. His ships were ridiculously small. What exactly was the point? Nobody in Portugal had even heard of Brazil, nor were they all that enthused about an overseas empire. So, why?

Trade, that’s why. Everybody knew where India and China were (at least all the cool cats that knew the world was round). They had since Marco Polo made that remarkable trip, if not before. They liked the silk and other good things that came from China. But there was a problem.

You see there were pirates in the Mediterranean, then one had to get through the totalitarian Ottoman Empire, the Safavid Persians, and various and sundry other Islamic States. If you remember Spain had just managed to reconquer Spain from the Moslems and just plain didn’t want anything to do with them. So they decided to take a shortcut and sail west to go east. Yeah, their calculations were off a bit about the size of the world, but that’s why.

Now let’s think about this a little, Spain went way out of its way to avoid the clowns and founded both the New World and New Spain in the process: and got themselves into a shooting war with England that would eventually cost them their world power status. See A Cloud Smaller Than a Fist.

A few hundred years later, the United States won its Independence from Great Britain. The United States’ very first war was a regime change in Tripoli. There are still Islamic pirates, they still hold slaves and all in all they are still living in the 7th Century. And still today, Iran threatens war on Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Some things never change.

Only now with their oil wealth, instead of modernizing and improving their people’s lives and such, they seem intent on conquering the world and seem to believe the world will use its modernity to help

They have found some fellow travelers, who had best hope they lose because they aren’t going to enjoy winning for long. Ask the survivors of the Kingdom of the Visigoths in about 1000 AD.

So there you have it. The cause of Columbus sailing the Ocean Blue.

In Other News:

  • General Robert Edward Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, dies peacefully at his home in Lexington, Virginia. He was 63 years old.

Lee was born to Henry Lee (Light Horse Harry) and Ann Carter Lee at Stratford Hall, Virginia, in 1807. His father served in the American Revolution under George Washington and was later a governor of Virginia. Robert Lee attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated second in his class in 1829. He did not earn a single demerit during his four years at the academy. Afterward, Lee embarked on a military career, eventually fighting in the Mexican War (1846-48) and later serving as the superintendent of West Point.

  • On the morning of October 12, 1915, the 49-year-old British nurse Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad in Brussels, Belgium.

Before World War I began in 1914, Cavell served for a number of years as the matron of a nurse’s training school in Brussels. After the city was captured and occupied by the Germans in the first month of the war, Cavell chose to remain at her post, tending to German soldiers and Belgians alike. In August 1915, German authorities arrested her and accused her of helping British and French prisoners-of-war, as well as Belgians hoping to serve with the Allied armies, to escape Belgium for neutral Holland. As I wrote on the centenary of her execution, here, there was no doubt at all of her guilt. And you can watch (no sound BTW) the procession for her state funeral at Norwich Cathedral in 1919 here.

  • On this day in 1776, British Generals Henry Clinton and William Howe lead a force of 4,000 troops aboard some 90 flat-boats up New York’s East River toward Throg’s Neck, a peninsula in Westchester County, in an effort to encircle General George Washington and the Patriot force stationed at Harlem Heights.

This was the largest British amphibious attack before Normandy.

After hearing of the British landing at Throg’s Neck, Washington ordered a contingent of troops from the Pennsylvania regiment to destroy the bridge leading from the peninsula to the Westchester mainland. The destruction of the bridge stranded Clinton and his men at Throg’s Neck for six days before they were loaded back onto their vessels and continued up the East River toward Pell Point.

  • On this day in 1946, Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, the man who commanded the U.S. and Chinese Nationalist resistance to Japanese incursions into China and Burma, dies today at age 63.

All courtesy of This Day In History.

 

America is greater than ‘just OK’

Gene Vieth over at Cranach yesterday referred to a column by Marc Thiessen, that I had missed. It’s a response to that silly video op-ed in the NY Slimes on Independence Day about how the US is just OK.

He points out that at our founding we were an incredible outlier, we were the only country in the world where the people were sovereign. Most had kings, emperors, sultans, or other various satrapies indicating that the key to ruling was power over the people. The closest was the United Kingdom, which about a century before had changed from the king ruling, to the king reigning and parliament ruling. But even today, as we’ve seen parliament hasn’t got the memo completely that the people are sovereign. But their people know, and at some point so will parliament.

Marc notes that as recently as 1938, there were only 17 Democracies in the world, he doesn’t note, but it’s also true that by 1940 they all spoke English as their native language. In the early part of World War II, Great Britain wasn’t quite as alone as it sometimes is said, the Empire was there for them, but that was it

Herman Wouk’s Captain Henry in The Winds of War comments that at church parade in Argentia Bay, they were witnessing the changing of the guard. He was right, that moment marked the end of almost 150 years of the Pax Britannica, at the end of that war, we would see the beginning of the first 75 years of the Pax Americana.

Gene linked to the Daily Oklahoman, probably a good paper, but paywalled so here is a different link to Marc’s column. Here’s a bit of it.

For most of our history, American democracy was a global outlier. In 1938, on the eve of World War II, there were just 17 democracies. It was not until 1998 — just two decades ago — that there were more democracies than autocracies.

That dramatic explosion of freedom didn’t just happen. It was the direct result of the rise of the United States as a global superpower. The U.S.-powered victory over Nazi tyranny in World War II and our triumph over Soviet tyranny in the Cold War defeated the hateful ideologies of fascism and communism, and unleashed a wave of freedom that has spread across the world. Today, 4.1 billion people live in democracies. (Of those who do not, four out of five live in China.)

The unprecedented expansion of liberty has produced unprecedented prosperity. Last September, the Brookings Institution reported that “for the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind … some 3.8 billion people, live in households with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered ‘middle class’ or ‘rich.’”

None of that would be possible without the Pax Americana guaranteed by U.S. military. Americans liberated a continent, rebuilt much of it from the rubble of war with the Marshall Plan, and then stood watch on freedom’s frontier and prevented a Soviet tank invasion across the Fulda Gap. And today, the only thing that stops North Korea from invading South Korea or China from invading Taiwan is American military might.

So, let’s be clear: Every country that enjoys democratic governance today owes its birth of freedom to our Founding Fathers, and the continued existence of their democracy to the U.S. military.

That is exactly so. Some countries have become wealthier per capita than we are. To me, that’s fine, we’re not doing all that badly, and they got that way by outsourcing much of their defense to the United States. We developed the concepts that were driving Britain to liberty, figured out how to make it work, and wrote it down, for all to learn. And then we (mostly) lived by what we had written. This may be the only place on earth that whenever the chief executive gets frustrated and complains that his country is ungovernable, he is reminded that it is a feature, not a bug.

As we listen to those foolish freshman Congresscritters spout their anti-Americanism, keep that in mind. They do it here because where they or the ancestors came from, they would be imprisoned or dead already. They owe their ability to bad mouth this country to the founders, and so do most of the people in the world.

Marc concludes with this:

The men and women who flew those fighters and bombers over the Mall last week make it all possible. They provide the critical foundation of peace and security upon which our freedom, and the freedom of all the world’s democracies, is built. Maybe Luxembourg scores better on some measures, but no one is counting on Luxembourg to secure the peace of the world. Trump was right to shine a spotlight on our men and women in uniform and to remind those who have lost sight of it that the United States is not simply the greatest nation on Earth; we are indispensable. Without us, the world would be mired in the darkness of totalitarianism rather than the light of liberty.

That is better than “just OK.”

Damned straight it is.

In a related note, The Lean Submariner reminds us that 2019 is the centennial of the American Legion, which is one of the stalwart defenders of American freedom. He tells us about it here.

Attacking Kiwi Rights

PM Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand.
Working hard to reduce Kiwi freedom

Some of our governments, don’t appear to support freedom. One of them is the government of New Zealand. What do I mean? Let Greg Jones in The American Spectator explain.

Terrorists, it seems, hate lots of things. And most of those things are either rooted in or expressions of freedom.

Some hate speech that contradicts their beliefs; others clothing that goes against their own religious or cultural norms; and yet others societies in which different races and classes of people are free to live side-by-side. In fact, one of the more popular theories regarding why Muslim extremists so despise the West relies on their resentment of the freedom enabled by Western ideals.

Those who hate freedom naturally gravitate toward its opposite, control, which is at its root the motivation behind any terrorist act, including the horrific attack in Christchurch, New Zealand that took the lives of 50 innocent Muslims attending mosque.

While the gunman claimed to be waging war against Islam’s infiltration of the West, his actions were ripped straight from the playbook prized by jihadis and every other type of fringe lunatic, regardless of ideology. What terrorists can’t control, they kill. Pot, meet kettle.

Such control, however, is anathema to Western culture, which largely shuns zealotry and intolerance in favor of more dynamic, and by extension successful, societies.

Which is precisely why the actions taken by the New Zealand government following the attack are so disheartening. In an odd attempt to prove that terrorism works, the Kiwis have begun rolling back the freedoms that made the nation great and, ironically, served as the motivation for the country’s Muslims to travel halfway around the world and settle in the remote island nation. […]

Immediately after the attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern channeled the advice of former Obama Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, who notoriously declared “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” by announcing a ban on assault rifles and “military-style semi-automatic weapons.”[…]

Of course, such increased control seems a logical policy to the new left, and the government’s private-sector sympathizers have proven eager to pile on. The country’s telecommunications companies, as well as their Australian counterparts, quickly leaned on the attack to implement authoritarian censorship measures. Per Ars Technica:

Internet service providers… temporarily blocked access to dozens of websites, including 4chan and 8chan, that hosted video of last week’s New Zealand mass shooting.…

In Australia, ISP Vodafone said that blocking requests generally come from courts or law enforcement agencies but that this time ISPs acted on their own…

“Acted on their own”?

There’s more, and I urge you to read it. But here is the takeaway. While Kiwis are mourning the dead, their government and its allied authoritarian companies are removing their rights, and not merely one by one either.

Rights, once suppressed, for what God gives, man cannot remove, are extraordinarily difficult if not nearly impossible to recover. The price is usually reckoned in blood. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee before the Kiwis freedom is not only sold down the river but well out to sea.

And Remember:

One can kill a lot of people with a knife, let alone a gun in 36 minutes if those people have no means to resist.

And the killer was stopped by a civilian who picked up one of the killer’s guns, or so most reports say. So what does the government do? They take the guns of the law abiding citizens. If you think the terrorists are going to turn theirs in, well AOC has a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

600 Ships – The Path to Victory started on the 711

I started this clean back in 2012, when my friend Mac wrote it. For some reason I never published it. But, you know, it is just as timely now as it was then, and just as important. To us and to the UK as well, as we both struggle to find the money needed to defend our interests. Here’s Mac:

After the upheavals in the Navy caused by the end of the Vietnam conflict, you can imagine how discouraged many people who wore the uniform were by the time the Carter years were at the three and a half year point. Blend in the miserable economy, high unemployment, interest rates never before seen and you can understand that the country in general was ready for a long stretch of misery.

The fleet was limping along with limited growth and some of the key programs that were in progress (Trident and the Los Angeles Class submarines) were behind schedule, over budget and on the congressional radar for supposed savings. The entire military was in a sorry state and maintenance and upkeep programs on all types of equipment were falling away.

Any hopes that the Navy would gain support by having the first Naval Academy graduate as President were swiftly dashed as the nation realized that Carter did not agree that communism was our greatest chief enemy. His policies were really directed to the arms race and support of NATO policies. The real vision for the Navy was to become nothing more than a bus service to troops that would be sent to Europe in case of an event in the central European countries.  According to Nathan Miller, noted historian and writer “ Naval strategists charged with this plan meant the surrender of the Pacific to the Soviets without a fight. “The Naval equivalent of the Maginot Line has been constructed,” declared Navy Secretary Graham Claytor, Jr.” From Nathan Miller’s The US Navy, A History.

History is not kind to the remaining part of the Carter administration as the Middle east proved to be too surprising and too confusing for the hapless administration to deal with. The fall of the Shah in Iran, the rise of fundamentalist Muslim groups in his place, the invasion of Afghanistan and perceived weakness of the US in almost ever corner of the world destroyed most of the remaining credibility the United States had on the world stage. Much too late in the game, the affects of cutting the fleets growth was being felt all around the world.

600 Ships – The Path to Victory started on the 711.

And once again we are in that spot, with a fleet smaller than it ever was in the twentieth century, and potential conflicts (all legacies of the inept (at best) Obama administration) ranging from Syria and Iran, through Russia, to North Korea and China itself.

Our forces are trying very hard, and they are stretched very thin because the problem areas are all across the world. As I write this it looks like we are gaining control, but there is a long way to go. always we seem to forget:

Si vis pacem, para bellum

Cardiff University, Chicago, and Purdue

unknown2None of those schools is very good at American football, lately. But they are good at something else, they are good at freedom, especially of speech.

Jonathon Turley is one of the most passionate about free speech, real free speech. Maybe he picked it up at the University of Chicago, where he studied, as I reinforced mine at Purdue. Both schools are outspoken champions of free speech. There are some others, sadly far too few.

But America has a plethora of champions of free speech compared to the UK. That is why is so wonderful to see a UK university join in on the movement. From Turley

Cardiff took a strong stand for free speech in breaking away from other schools which have have imposed stringent speech codes and regulations. The university pledged to end its past censorship and platforming rules. It declared that it would not bar controversial speakers and that “censorship is not the answer.”

Instead, Cardiff passed a motion that was entitled “Challenge, Don’t Censor.” The motion declared that “students are capable of challenging intolerable views through rigorous debate; censorship is not the answer.”

Amen. This is particularly impressive in Europe where free speech is being sharply curtailed.

via Cardiff and Tufts Universities: Two Divergent Paths On Free Speech | JONATHAN TURLEY

Amen, indeed. May their number grow quickly.

Even more amazing,

The stand against being told what they can hear and think echoes the response of a group of sixth-form students, who were due to hear from Milo Yiannopoulos before his speech was shut down by the UK Government.

In an open letter to censorious authorities, pupils from Simon Langton Grammar School expressed their dismay, saying “we do not need to be protected” from controversial speakers.

cardiff

Those students at the Cardiff Student Union and at Simon Langton Grammar School are heroes of free speech, and that is to all our benefit without regard to our, or their politics. Free and unafraid speech is one of the keystones of freedom itself.

Outstanding to all hands, and remember:

Adfyd a ddwg wybodaeth, a gwybodaeth ddoethineb.

Merkel Backs Crackdown on Free Speech On Social Media Sites

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) nimmt am 14.08.2013 auf dem Theaterplatz in Ludwigshafen (Rheinland-Pfalz) an einer Wahlkampfveranstaltung zur Bundestagswahl 2013 teil. Foto: Uli Deck/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

One of the things I have noticed in the last few months, as a percentage, people other than Americans and British (especially Niederlanders) have increased rather dramatically. That pleases me, and I hope they are finding what they want. Since, as far as I know, none of them have commented, I just assume that they do.

But since I want them to know they’re welcome, and sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what somebody is saying in anything but your first language, I was pleased yesterday when WordPress announced a translation widget for those of us running WordPress.com blogs. The algorithm is Google Translate, which as we all know is not perfect, but it’s surprisingly good. You’ll find it on the sidebar, just above my Twitter feed. If I remember it does something like 103 languages, so it should cover the common ones. Enjoy


One of the things most worrying, everywhere, but especially in Europe, is a tendency to restrict free speech, often by way of so-called ‘hate crime legislation. While America, and to some extent Britain have a pretty strong cultural bias against almost any infringement of our rights, this is one of those areas where an attempt anywhere diminishes them everywhere.

Germany is becoming one of the worst offenders here, and I’m not the only one noticing. Jonathan Turley noted yesterday:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel long ago established herself as a menace to free speech, particularly in her decision to first apologize to authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a satirical poem and then approve the prosecution of the comedian is a shocking and chilling disgrace. Now, she is throwing her support behind a crackdown on “hate speech” on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — radically expanding the already broad scope of government regulation of speech.

Merkel declared “I support efforts by Justice Minister Heiko Maas and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere to address hate speech, hate commentaries, devastating things that are incompatible with human dignity, and to do everything to prohibit it because it contradicts our values.”

via Merkel Backs Crackdown on Free Speech On Social Media Sites | JONATHAN TURLEY

As Professor Turley notes, It would maybe be borderline acceptable, except it is completely impossible to provide an objective definition of “incompatible with human dignity”. That leaves the definition completely in the hands of the government, to use as they will. That is simply unacceptable in a free society.

This is a very troubling trend, and we must do our best to stop it in its tracks, In Germany, In Britain, across Europe, and sadly yes, here in America, as well.

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