Saturday Sounds

…and color, for the First World War:

I didn’t get to see this film during its brief time in theaters late last month, but look forward to seeing it on home video.  It’s amazing what adding color and sound does to make the events of a century ago “more real.”

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“No borders, no wall, no USA at all!”

That’s what Antifa hoodlums chanted in Washington D.C. last weekend while trying to pick fights with anyone who looked remotely to the political right of them. While they were mostly mindlessly chanting as directed, one could give them credit for succinctly expressing the formula they and their fellow travelers are using to kill the United States. Because without any borders, without any walls, there won’t be a U.S.A. at all. Or any other nation, for that matter.

And that’s the real goal of the globalists. Too many people think “globalists” is just a quasi-conspiratorial term, but it’s a very real phenomenon. A significant number of Western leaders act as if they owe more loyalty to their transnational peer group than they do to the people they supposedly serve at home. The same holds true of most transnational corporations, whose leaders are more concerned with international access and profits–even if it means bowing to autocrats–than they are with domestic considerations or notions of representative government. This has created a political and technocratic worldwide “ruling class” and, as writer Sarah Hoyt points out, a developing version of the same sort of neo-feudalism that existed under communism:

…communism was not discredited where it counted. There were no long-running exposes of exactly how bad it was in the Soviet Union, or the other communist countries, nor of the massive number of people – at least a hundred million, but quite likely more – that these regimes sent to their graves. There was no explanation about how imposing this kind of regime from above always leads to a quasi-feudal existence, in which the functionaries at the top are kings and everyone else serfs because it has to. Because the people at the top are still human, which means they not only have no idea what is “each’s need” or “each’s ability” but they have their very own greed and desire and other issues the same as any robber Baron. Only at least the robber Barons had to establish some industry, create some empire, finagle some monopoly. Those at the top of the planned economy have full power and cart blanch to JUST rob.

The development of this international club goes a long way explaining the horrified reaction to the election of Trump. The constant harping on his personal moral failings conceals the real anger: he doesn’t play “One World” with the other would-be aristocrats. From all appearances Trump is implementing the promised “America First” policies he campaigned on. Such nationalism—particularly from a key center of power like the U.S.—is intolerable to the globalists.

So they have unleashed their modern brownshirts – the Antifa (another Orwellian misnomer, since they are quite fascist in their attitudes and activities). These street brawlers, like their Nazi forebears, are an army of “useful idiots” to break down the fabric of representative governance so it can be replaced with something more to the totalitarian’s liking. Most of these black-hoodie footsoldiers have no idea they are helping destroy the very system that makes their self-absorbed grievance-mongering possible:

…Antifa, an assemblage of the psychotic and the helpless and mostly both, people who couldn’t catch a clue if the clue was on crutches, people who – from the exemplars caught and exposed – either exist in the sheltered bubble of Academia or in the equally sheltered bubble of their parents’ basements, people who, if they have any job it’s the equivalent of barista.  These people, who would have trouble existing in the relatively harsher environment of Europe… only survive because the US is so prosperous and so secure that – outside of a few Democrat fiefdoms like Chicago or East St. Louis — it’s almost impossible to get yourself killed for gross and offensive stupidity…

Perhaps Antifa activists should reflect on the fate of D.C. denizens Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin, whose belief that people everywhere enjoy the same basic goodness and resulting security led to their deaths on a bicycling trip through Tajikistan:

…Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own [wrote Austin] By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.”

This same misguided idea that “people are basically good” – which runs completely counter to the Christian worldview – is the foundation upon which the idea of communism (and globalism, its current incarnation) is built. It fails to take into account, as Hoyt pointed out, the inherent fallibility of our decisions, as well as the self-interested motives that often color them. This is one of many reasons globalists are opposed to authentic, evangelical Christianity. The Bible makes clear “there is none righteous; no, not one,” and the litany of accounts in its pages go on to prove even the most well-intentioned people will always be flawed.  As a result, the Founders understood that nobody should wield unchecked power over others.  Barack Obama’s famous “I have a pen and phone” statement of intent to use executive power to achieve what he could not through legislation ran completely contrary to American tradition.  And yet he had his supporters, his own cult of (manufactured) personality.

Perhaps, then, from a Christian perspective Antifa is best understood as a cult. They have a worldview, require professions of “faith” from their fellow travelers, and viciously ostracize any who challenge their viewpoints. Unlike other cults, however, this one is not just a danger to its own members. Left to themselves, they will bring our nation crashing down.  They seek to erode patriotism, faith in our Constitutional institutions, and any sense the U.S. is special.  Nations cannot survive without these.

The United States has never been perfect. But it has resulted in more opportunity, peace and prosperity for more people than any other nation in history. It has yielded to the temptations and sins of great-power politics, but nevertheless on balance has been a positive influence in the world. The system of human organization from which it springs is an infinitesimal rarity in all of history. As such, it is worth defending, lest this part of the world cease being the “last, best hope for mankind,” and revert back to what history shows is the default result of unfettered power over the masses.

Saturday Sounds Spaceflight

Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  So today begins the countdown to the half-century mark.  I suspect it will be a memorable commemoration. But while a lot has happened in those 50 years, it’s safe to say the future hasn’t been what it was cracked up to be.  My generation was weaned on dreams of visiting “strange, new worlds,” but we haven’t even ventured past low Earth orbit since the early 1970s.  Sure, we’ve toured the solar system vicariously through the magnificent Voyager probes, and followed up those pathfinders with increasingly capable sensor platforms.  But there has been no photo of a bootprint on Mars… or anywhere else.

The irony is NASA’s planned future manned space system looks a lot like Apollo.  Sure, the capsule’s larger (with a four-person crew rather than three), and the booster set looks cribbed from the Shuttle program.  Basically, in many respects we’re going “back to the future” with manned spaceflight… and moving at a snail’s pace compared to heady days of the race to the moon.  I suspect profit-driven private space ventures will soon leave ponderous government programs in the dust.  Here’s hoping today’s young kids live to see things far beyond what the boldest magazines ever dared dream decades ago when space was still new and exciting for all.  With that, I’ll step off the soapbox…

Strong words rooted in history

But meaningless unless backed by equally strong action:

The morning after the Trump administration sued California over its immigration policies, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wednesday appeared in downtown Sacramento to say states cannot defy the federal government when it comes to immigration

“A refusal to apprehend and deport those, especially the criminal element, effectively rejects all immigration law and creates an open borders system,” Sessions declared. “Open borders is a radical, irrational idea that cannot be accepted.

“There is no nullification. There is no secession,” Sessions said. “Federal law is ‘the supreme law of the land.’ I would invite any doubters to Gettysburg, and to the graves of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln.”

The invocation of John C. Calhoun and nullification is particularly appropriate.  Calhoun’s South Carolina in 1832 claimed the power to “nullify” a hated Federal tariff by simply refusing to collect it within the State’s borders.  The president at the time, Andrew Jackson, was emphatic about Federal supremacy within its Constitutional sphere.  At his behest, Congress passed the Force Act, essentially giving Jackson the power to use military force if necessary to compel compliance and collection of duties.  It never reached that point, in no small part because of Henry Clay’s gifted statesmanship in Congress.  But the situation emphasized the power struggle over Federal versus State prerogatives nearly two decades before Southerners fired on Ft. Sumter.

One interesting aspect of the “Nullification Crisis” was that it pitted a sitting president (Jackson) against his own vice-president (Calhoun).  Two years prior to the crisis this conflict had been made apparent at the 1830 Jefferson Day dinner.  The president, aiming a barb at Calhoun and signaling his waning support for Southern arguments about States’ rights, toasted “Our Union; it must be preserved.”

Calhoun shot back: “The Union, next to our liberty most dear.  May we all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of the States, and distributing equally the benefits and burdens of the Union.”

What, you thought today’s political divisions were unprecedented?  Hardly.

Here’s the point of the history brief: the immigration confrontation flips the usual situation where “conservatives” advocate the 10th Amendment’s reservation of power to the States while “liberals” seek to use Federal supremacy in everything — the better to force change they likely could not through the electoral process.  As recently as the Obama administration Arizona attempted to strengthen border security, only to be sued by the Feds for stepping into an area of Federal supremacy.

Now the shoe’s on the other foot, with the parties in power reversed.  Arizona allegedly couldn’t strengthen its border security beyond the Federal level of enforcement, but California can loosen it?  While both sides are guilty of putting power over principle, it’s both more obvious and dangerous with the sudden liberal embrace of claiming exceptions to Federal power.  The same leftist groups who argued before Federal judges in 2016 that North Carolina couldn’t ban confused men from women’s restrooms is now arguing California can have its own foreign policy in the area of immigration.  Okay…

Here’s what California and Calhoun have in common (besides both being Democrats, but I digress…): both were/are Constitutionally wrong.  Some readers may be surprised to see me write that, because Constitutionally I am a strict constructionist who interprets (in keeping with the 10th Amendment) the document as a constraint on Federal power, and am generally sympathetic to defending States’ rights.  That said, if the document expressly gives the Feds a particular power, there’s no arguing it.  In the case of Calhoun’s fight against tariffs, Article 1, Section 8 (*) of the Constitution clearly grants Congress the power to levy taxes, duties, imposts and excises, provided they are uniform throughout all States.

The Constitution does not contain the word “immigration,” but in the same section cited above grants Congress the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.  This means States and cities have no authority to establish “sanctuaries” where illegal immigrants are given the same privileges as citizens.  Those local authorities who do so are in defiance of the Constitution, and have abrogated any oath they took to support and uphold it.  They should be held appropriately accountable for that.

Because the “sanctuary” concept has become so trendy in Leftist circles, the Trump administration now faces widespread defiance of Federal authority.  Trump is sometimes compared to Jackson (faulty personality and all).  One wonders whether he will rely solely on the courts, where your mileage varies considerably concerning Constitutional interpretation, or whether he will follow Jackson’s more direct approach.  Or, for that matter, President Lincoln’s:

WHEREAS the laws of the United States have been, for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law. (emphasis added)

Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed…

It’s a simple thing to substitute  California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont for the list of States in the first quoted paragraph above, and have the declaration apply to the issue of whether or not the United States can control its borders without local interference.

Given how divided we are as a nation, I have no doubt such a declaration would precede the same kind of national tragedy that Lincoln’s did.  It’s not the outcome I’d want, but reality has a way of disregarding our personal desires.   More than at any time since 1865, Americans need to rediscover how easy it is to read their own Constitution, and understand what policies are and are not acceptable under it.  That document used to be a unifying force in our national fabric.  Our current collective ignorance of it is a significant contributor to the political climate in which we find ourselves.

The tinder is very dry, and matches abound.  Pray for the best but prepare accordingly.

********************

(*) on a lighter note, I should point out I’ve long thought it funny that Article 1, Section 8 spells out the powers of Congress, while fans of the TV show M*A*S*H will recall the Army’s version of “section 8” refers to discharges due to mental unfitness.  Make of that what you will.

History is rarely black and white

One of the most obvious targets of multiculturalism over the past 40 years has been a reinterpretation of Columbus’ voyage to the New World.  Where Americans in the early history of our nation learned the rhyme “In the year of our Lord 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” today’s progressives take issue with every part of that statement.  Their reinterpretation might run something like “In 1492 of the Common Era, Columbus unleashed all the New World’s terror.”

Columbus was neither saint nor monster.  It’s a symptom of the culture wars we live in that people expect to subscribe solely to one of the two views above.  Perhaps only a descendant of both Christopher Columbus and Montezuma II can truly appreciate the mixed bag of results from that fateful voyage of discovery:

History has some truly evil people. Columbus is certainly not one of them. Most often, history is not made up of perfect people and evil ones, but of complex people who must be understood in context.

What is happening at the hands of Columbus’ detractors is political, not historical. As his direct descendant and namesake, I should know.

Two cultures meeting for the first time in 1492 was no easy thing, but blaming Columbus for everything that went wrong hides the truth about him and about those who followed him. It also obscures the great things that the countries of the American hemisphere have accomplished.

What is lacking in the anti-Columbus narrative is any sense of history or of nuance…

Those who now question Columbus conveniently ignore the fact that slavery, cannibalism, warfare and even human sacrifice all existed in the Americas before he even sailed.

The modern Columbus points out that today’s generation has a difficult time understanding how religious faith permeated European society in the early 1500s.  Thus it is difficult for the modern “don’t judge” generation to understand the reaction of Europeans to seeing towers of skulls adorning Aztec architecture, or the bloody sacrifice of scores of natives by Aztec priests.  There was no sense of moral relativism at that time — or for centuries afterwards.  What the natives were doing was simply wrong by the most basic understanding of the Spaniards’ moral foundations.  So “civilizing” natives became a driving force in colonialization — as well as a rationalization for cruel behavior on the part of some Europeans, who took it as a license to abuse the “savages.”

This rationalization for abuses is rightly criticized today.  But it leads frequently to another error: assuming that the abuse of the natives means that their culture was somehow more noble than that of their sometime European tormentors.  This overreaction leads some today to whitewash the history of the precolumbian Americas. It’s not hard to detect this at work in the arts, when a prominent Hollywood production can be entitled “1492: Conquest of Paradise.”

Despite Disney’s Pocahontas singing about painting with “the colors of the wind” or the obvious parallels to the native experince in blockbusters like Avatar, the New World of 1492 was not some sort of New Age pantheistic utopia.  Such things simply don’t exist on earth.  Only the rejection of the Christian worldview (which sees all of creation as fallen and flawed — even the Western Civilization that was once known as Christendom) can lead to such a romanticization of indigenous life.  Yes, the arrival of the Europeans meant much of that way of life was lost.  But unless we’re arguing for a return of human sacrifice to one-up the current revival of tattoos, it’s hard to see that as a bad thing.

The truly sad thing is that so many of those today who focus on what was lost take little to no time to think about what was gained as well.  Representative government was unknown in the Americas before the Europeans arrived —  and it further developed and prospered in the incubator of the New World.  Even the poorest in the hemisphere today largely enjoy a standard of living higher than that of their ancestors (though you wouldn’t know that by the rhetoric of the Marxist-inspired Bolivarists who have wrecked Venezuela without any help from Columbus). By focusing on the admitted excesses of the post-1492 story, the tale of the very progress the progressives claim to seek is lost. Instead, grievances are nursed and divisions maintained.

Who benefits from that?

Idiots everywhere

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie “Dunkirk.”  Fewer and fewer Americans are aware of just how close Hitler came to dealing a fatal blow to the Allied cause well before America formally entered the war.

But when some people wonder why the corporate media have no credibility, they need look no further than USA Today’s review of the movie:

The movie captures the real-life heroism of the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940, when nearly 400,000 Allied soldiers were pulled out after the Germans trapped them on a beach in Nazi-occupied France. Nolan’s ambitious story revolves around three tales unfolding at different times over land, sea and air, only coming together at the end…

Dunkirk is also one of the best-scored films in recent memory, and Hans Zimmer’s music plays as important a role as any character. With shades of Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the melodies are glorious, yet Zimmer also creates an instrumental ticking-clock soundtrack that’s a propulsive force in the action scenes.

So far, so good.  But then:

The trio of timelines can be jarring as you figure out how they all fit, and the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.

(Cue scratching needle record here.)

The ONLY people who could be rubbed the wrong way by the casting of this film are those who are so historically and factually ignorant they should not be allowed within 100 miles of a voting booth or anywhere else that requires an informed decision.  For the record:

  • Nazi Germany was a nation of whites led by rabid Aryan supremacists
  • The United Kingdom in 1940 had not yet been overrun by the backwash from its imperial expansion, and so was just as white.  Admittedly, there were a handful of Indian troops among the British Expeditionary Force, but they hardly played a “lead” role.
  • The evacuation of Dunkirk occurred in France.  And while that country has long been in the vanguard of multiculturalism, only the Foreign Legion in 1940 would have had many “people of color” — and they weren’t at Dunkirk.

I suspect the reviewer was aware of most, if not all of the above. The fact he felt it necessary to insert that tripe into what was otherwise a very informative review just shows where we are as a society today.

Who knows… maybe in 25 years the role of Winston Churchill will be played by a transgendered black actress. Because diversity.

Knowing the heritage

While it’s not wrong to celebrate the Fourth with fireworks and hamburgers, a “holiday” isn’t really a holiday unless one takes at least a moment to remember the significance of what is being celebrated.  Today we celebrate one of the most radical statements in history, the signers of whom literally pledges their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to bring into reality.

Would YOU be willing to put everything on the line for these words today?

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world:  Continue reading