The Price of Freedom

Western trails in Nebraska. Blue = Mormon Trai...

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I wrote this back in 2012 and I think it’s worth a revisit.

Let’s start with a song, shall we:

Keep that in mind, we’ll be coming back to it.

As I sit here in my office, looking out the window, I can see 7 of the great American migration routes, from north to south:  The Lincoln Highway, US Highway 30, The Transcontinental Railroad, Interstate 80, The Platte River, The Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, and  the Pony Express Route. Think about how many hopes and dreams have passed through here.

Now combine that with Shenandoah. The song came about in the early 19th century and was made famous by US sailors all over the world. what does it speak of? It speaks of loneliness, of likely never seeing your friends and family again, and does it hauntingly. It was very appropriate for those sailors, and it was equally appropriate for (and loved by) those thousands/millions trekking through Nebraska on their way to a new and hopefully better life.

Why did they do it? Some, of course, to avoid the sheriff, or their girlfriend’s father but, mostly they were going to, not running from. To what? A better life, maybe, but they were going to have to build it themselves, and if you’ve ever driven I-80, you know what a trek it is today, let alone to walk it, as most did.

What motivated them is the same thing that has motivated American from the very beginning: Freedom. Freedom to build your own life. Freedom to be left alone, Freedom to be the very best that you can be.

What was the price they put on that freedom? That they would most likely, whether they succeeded or failed, never see their family and friends again. If they were very lucky they might receive a few letters in the course of the rest of their life.

And remember, it was out here, on the Oregon trail (and it’s fork in the road, the California trail) that the saying became true. “The sick died, the weak never started”, it was that kind of migration.

That freedom had quite a price, didn’t it?

What is yours worth?

The Rise Of Progressivism And Administrative Agency In American History

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Ronald J. Pestritto, dean of the graduate school of statesmanship at Hillsdale College, joined The Federalist Radio Hour to discuss the rise of progressivism in American history and it’s role in shaping our government and modern politicians.

Pestritto’s research on the birth of American progressivism has lead him across the party lines as well as to politicians like Woodrow Wilson. “It’s really amazing how thoroughly [progressivism] comes to dominate politics and political culture toward the end of the 19th century,” Pestritto said. “The idea of progress and the power of that is deeply embedded.” […]

Later in the hour, Domenech and Pestritto discussed whether constitutional limits and ideas are even something that voters actually care about anymore. “Since the election of Barack Obama, we’ve had an extraordinary window of opportunity… to talk about constitutional principles,” Pestritto said. “I worry that the current election cycle season may mark the closing of that window.”

via The Rise Of Progressivism And Administrative Agency In American History

Pretty interesting stuff, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Who should rule Syria? Nobody

Here’s a bit of common sense:

The long civil war in Syria is still far from conclusion. Any real possibility of rebel victory ended with the entry of Russian forces last autumn — but while the initiative is now with the Assad regime, the government’s forces are also far from a decisive breakthrough. So who, if anyone, should the UK be backing in the Syrian slaughterhouse, and what might constitute progress in this broken and burning land?

It ought to be fairly obvious why a victory for the Assad regime would be a disaster for the West. Assad, an enthusiastic user of chemical weapons against his own people, is aligned with the most powerful anti–western coalition in the Middle East. This is the alliance dominated by the Islamic Republic of Iran.[…]

Not a friend of Western Freedom, then.

In November last year, David Cameron claimed to have identified 70,000 ‘moderate’ rebels ready to challenge Islamic State in the east of Syria. That figure was a myth. Yours truly was among the very first western journalists to spend time in Syria with the rebels. I recently returned from a trip to southern Turkey, where I interviewed fighters and commanders of the main rebel coalitions. With no particular joy but a good deal of confidence, I can report that the Syrian rebellion today is dominated in its entirety by Sunni Islamist forces. And the most powerful of these are the most radical.

The most potent rebel coalition in Syria today is called Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest). It has three main component parts: Ahrar al-Sham (Free Men of the Levant), a Salafist jihadi group; Jabhat al-Nusra, until recently the official franchise of al–Qaeda in Syria, now renamed Jabhat Fatah al-Sham; and Faylaq al-Sham (Legion of the Levant), whose ideology derives from the Muslim Brotherhood branch of Sunni political Islam.

Nor here, either. I fail to see any reason we should not root for both of these bunches to lose. Nothing in either their belief systems or their actions leads me to believe they have anything in common with anybody concerned with freedom.

Like the author, I see no chance of Syria emerging from this mess as a unified state, that gone with the hot wind of war. Two of the contenders, one backed by Russia and Iran, the other by Saudi Arabia (and others) offer no chance of freedom to Syrians, or even much chance of living really. But there is a third choice, and amazingly, the US and the UK stumbled into them.

The West, too, has established a successful and effective patron-client relationship — with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Dominated by the Kurdish YPG, but including also Arab tribal forces such as the Sanadid militia, this is the force which is reducing the dominions of the Islamic State in eastern Syria, in partnership with western air power and special forces.

In contrast to the sometimes farcical attempts to identify partners among the Syrian Sunni rebels, the partnership with the Syrian Democratic Forces works. Weaponry does not get passed on to or taken by radical jihadi groups, because the SDF is at war with such groups. Training and assistance produces a united force with a single chain of command. And this force captures ground and frees Syrians living under the vicious rule of Isis.

I learned long ago, when I first read von Clausewitz, not to mention Liddell Hart, that one is wise to reinforce success and starve failure. This would appear to be a very good example of this, And so we should.

What matters is that three outcomes be avoided: the Assad regime should not be permitted to reunite Syria under its rule, the Islamist rebels should similarly not be allowed to establish a jihadi state in the country, and the Islamic State should not be permitted to remain in existence. By strengthening the alliance with the SDF, utilising it and its allies to take Raqqa and destroy Isis in the east, and then allowing its component parts to establish their rule in eastern and northern Syria, these objectives can be attained. For a change, the US and its allies have found an unambiguously anti-Islamist and anti-jihadi force in the Middle East which has a habit of winning its battles. This is a success which should be reinforced.

via Who should rule Syria? Nobody

Indeed it should. And you know the other thing, as long as the SDF fights and holds their own (or wins) the other sides can not even start to get complacent. Liddell Hart famously said this

Helplessness induces hopelessness, and history attests that loss of hope and not loss of lives is what decides the issue of war.

And that has a goodly bit to do with keeping the common people’s hope alive.

Thoughts On Z-Blog’s “On Being Revolting In The Modern Age”

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. Patrick Henry

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. Patrick Henry

This has been on my mind, as well. From the Adaptive Curmudgeon.

Still here? OK then I’ll start. The Z-Blog posted wise thoughts in On Being Revolting in the Modern Age:

“Certainly voting for Trump sends a message, but messages need a sender and a receiver. If the people on the other end refuse to acknowledge the message being sent, then it’s not really a message. The Olive Branch Petition was the last ditch effort by the Colonist to avoid a breach with the mother country, but the King’s refusal turned it from a message to him into a message from him. That message was clear to the colonials. They could either submit unconditionally or prepare for war. A Trump win followed by a unified refusal by the political class to cooperate would also be clear message.”

You’d be hard pressed to find any living being who likes the 2016 election cycle so one more blogger bitching about it (self included) is irrelevant. But, just for the record, I’ve spent decades observing D.C. and thinking“these people are playing with fire”. I perpetually wish they’d quit trodding upon large groups of people. No good can come of it.

The Z-Blog adds the usual about the media giving up on even the appearance of journalism:

“A little girl skins her knee and there is a news team there to blame Trump in a four hour TV special. Hillary Clinton is caught running a pay-for-play scheme and no one can be bothered to ask her why she went to the trouble of installing an illegal e-mail system in her bathroom.”

While that’s all true I haven’t expected news from the news in decades. Nobody has.

My big observation of the “Hillary’s private server with State secrets affair” wasn’t about the press. It was about the people; or rather roughly half of the people. A moment passed that felt colder and more unsettling than the usual “they’ve fucked us again” situation.

Think about it like this; the FBI infuriated half the electorate and that half… did nothing. Yet it wasn’t a moment of defeat. It wasn’t a wail of despair, not gloom, not anger, not resignation, not desperation. It was a subdued tone of quiet finality. An acceptance that corruption is so deep that no one, nobody at all, can pretend otherwise.

We all know it. Jerks with badges will shut down a child’s lemonade stand, convict your car of a crime, demand a license for your dog, zone your house into oblivion for a salamander, and invade nations you’ve never heard of… but everyone everywhere knows that mishandling State secrets will put anyone in the clink. Or at least it formerly would.

The FBI just demonstrated they’re afraid to enforce the law when Hillary is involved. They did it in front of God. They did it on live TV. Like the moon landing, it’s an event with a clear “before” and a clear “after”. I think it unwise to have fomented such a moment.

via Thoughs On Z-Blog’s “On Being Revolting In The Modern Age” | Adaptive Curmudgeon

He’s right, when Comey made that statement, there wasn’t much of an uproar amongst conservatives. It was like we noted it, thanked him for being honest, and went silent. That was my reaction as well. There’s nothing left to say. For many of us, it’s over, the Republic has failed, not because Clinton skated, that sort of crap has happened often enough. No, it failed because one of the chief law enforcement officers of the Republic is afraid to do his job, and essentially said so openly.

He’s right also that there are two kinds of silence: the silence of resignation and defeat and that is what I suspect the left thinks it is, I think them wrong. The other one is one of quiet determination and resolve, and knowing that there is little left to say across the chasm. What will be, will be.

Thing is, Americans are a bunch of stubborn cusses, and far more capable than almost other nationality, there’s a reason that America has led the world for at least a hundred years, and the ones going silent are the productive ones. AC put it this way:

It reminds me of Ralf Waldo Emerson’s admonition “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” I’d much rather have seen the right wing burning cars and spray painting American flags on walls… but the quiet ones don’t roll that way. And really, who thinks a riot and a burned car does any good?

Also I’m a little worried. When Americans get motivated they’re not ineffective. They’ll put a man on the moon, build a 1,000 horsepower NASCAR, win every damn gold medal they can, whatever. I worry that should they get violent they’ll be too damn good at it.

And that’s what makes me nervous. It’s not the dog that barks that you need to watch. It’s the one you’ve kicked several times but it didn’t back down.

Yes, that is so. Jess and I like to quote Rudyard Kipling, and his poetry defines a good many of us beyond the English, it pretty much wraps up the Protestant, Northern European ethos, that built the modern world. In Recessional, he wrote this:

Far-called, our navies melt away;
   On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
   Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
And in Norman and Saxon, he described us better than any man ever has, I think:
“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

I, like most of you, detest what I am seeing this year, and I really detest the thought of violence, but I no longer think it unthinkable.
Patrick Henry once said.

Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. 

If we wish to be free — if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending — if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us! […]

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

That sums up quite well what I sense is the mood of a goodly part of the country, I despise violence that could easily turn into a civil war, but

Keep your powder dry.

 

A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down: Now what?

This has been kicking around in my files for a month now, seems like the best-laid plans… In any case, as it grew less timely, I wonder if it hasn’t become important. I rather think it has. Seems to me that what he speaks of here is becoming more true in the US, at least, every day. A huge amount of the day-to-day reality of how politics is done is this country has been uprooted, on both sides. And so all is in flux.

How we put it back together to make it work (or not) is likely to be to be a large part of the question going forward. And do remember it’s not just us. Brexit in the UK, much of the turmoil caused by the Islamists in Europe, has much the same cause.

In large measure, I think all of the enemies of freedom around the world are sensing that the system is weak at the moment and that this may be their opportunity. They could be right, but they don’t have to be. How we answer the basic questions going forward will answer that question.

Western political systems are in the middle of a realignment. The way we think of left and right is a relic of the Cold War. Reality is finally catching up with us, several years late, and doing away with obsolete political movements and parties.

We saw direct evidence of this when, on both sides of the Atlantic, ordinary people finally had a chance to circumvent their nations’ political elites. In the United States, Trump used his wealth and high profile to sidestep party donors, special-interest groups and political correctness.

In the United Kingdom, the referendum on European Union membership vested power temporarily in the British voting public, not Cabinet ministers or party whips.

These unusual circumstances exposed profound but long-hidden fault lines in both countries’ political systems. I knew these fault lines existed, but I was surprised by how quickly they devastated the status quo.

The American conservative movement, for instance, at least as we knew it before Trump’s entry into the presidential race last summer, no longer exists. Whether by accident or design, Trump ignored the reference points of left and right, putting together a coalition of Middle Americans who don’t care about ideological purity. Coming from old-fashioned Democratic and Republican backgrounds, these voters are united by a cultural conservatism that used to be standard in both parties. They care about pragmatic action on a handful of issues, mainly immigration, political correctness, crime and jobs.

Something similar happened in Britain. Outside the London cloister, Labour voters overwhelmingly rejected the metropolitan version of left-wing politics. Along with many shire Tories, they have specific views on sovereignty, independence and immigration. Just as in the US, this broad cultural conservatism used to be a given within each party until cosmopolitanism took its place.

We are heading for a politics in which the divisions are no longer just left and right, at least not in the sense we’ve used those terms for the past few decades. The shift is splitting all current movements into nationalist and internationalist wings – or perhaps populist and establishment, middle class and upper class, or urban and provincial.

This is happening because so many of the traditional features of left and right no longer apply to them. A working-class white person seeking representation used to find it in the left. Now what does he get? A movement telling him to check his “privilege”. A conservative used to be able to count on the right to make the case for cultural assimilation. Now he, too, is told to be quiet and make way for “progress”.

via A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down – CatholicHerald.co.uk

Like so much of what we write here, we have to answer the questions for ourselves. I’m not sure that there are correct answers, in aggregate, you have to answer based on our knowledge and bedrock philosophy. So do I.

56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

2014-06-05-robertmitchumlongestday-thumb

Then there is this attempt to denigrate the movie The Longest Day recounting the Overlord operation to liberate Europe.

The Longest Day, which was made in black and white, features a large ensemble cast including John Wayne, Kenneth More,Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, Stuart Whitman, Tom Tryon, Rod Steiger, Leo Genn, Gert Fröbe, Irina Demick, Bourvil, Curt Jürgens, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka and Arletty.

Many of these actors played roles that were virtually cameo appearances and several cast members such as Fonda, Genn, More, Steiger and Todd saw action as servicemen during the war, with Todd being among the first British officers to land in Normandy in Operation Overlord and participated in the assault on Pegasus Bridge. So just for some fun here are some of the movie mistakes – we expect you spotted most of them anyway 🙂

When the ships are about to begin bombarding the beaches you see a group of planes fly by the camera these are Douglas Sky Raiders which did not see service until the late 1940s.

The currency notes in Schultz’s winnings are of a later issue than was in circulation in 1944.

Features LCM-8s, which weren’t built until 1954.

German General Max Pemsel says: “Wir haben starke RADAR-störungen” (We have strong radar interference). The word “radar” was not used, perhaps even not known in Germany in 1944. They used a somewhat similar system, but called it “Funkmeßgeräte” (radio measuring equipment).

General Gavin is wearing a Senior Parachutist badge in 1944.The Parachutist Badge was formally approved on 10 March 1941. The senior and master parachutists badges were authorized by Headquarters, Department of the Army in 1949 and were announced by Change 4, Army Regulation 600-70, dated 24 January 1950.

During the go/no go sequence, a jet can be heard flying overhead as the naval representative is speaking.

During a very early scene in France, the back end of a Citroen 2CV can be seen parked at the side of the street as the German soldiers march down it.

via 56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

And so on for three pages. Yes, it’s interesting and very likely true. But you know, it doesn’t matter a damn. Like the John Ford Trilogy, the story is the thing, and these warriors of America, Canada, Great Britain, France, Poland, and still others did something so heroic here, that all of these relatively picayune mistakes, while regrettable, just don’t matter. This is not a technical documentary, this is a commemoration of one of the greatest days in history, one of the first to try to be fair to all the participants.

I couldn’t find the whole movie on YouTube for you, but if you run the playlist in autoplay, it’ll be kind of like watching it on TV, which is where I fist saw it, long ago and far away.🙂

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