American Elephants


“Diversity” Is Bunk, When There is No Diversity of Ideas. by The Elephant's Child

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The Washington Examiner published an article suggesting that the “Media questions whether Senators Rubio and Cruz are really Hispanics.” It is expected that in a political campaign, and this seems to be one of the more unusual ones, thee will be a lot of silly attacks to go with the substantive ones. When our culture decides that “diversity” is the most important thing to address, it leads to some very strange results.

“Diversity” seems to mean dividing people up into groups based on skin color and ethnic origin, if you belong to a recognized minority, you will get a great deal of attention. However, recognized minorities seem to be limited to blacks and Hispanics, Occasionally American Indians are included, but only if you have some activists speaking out, otherwise the tribes are mostly ignored. American blacks include only those who are descended from the slavery culture, and believe they are discriminated against. Those who have become successful and well to do are insulted and called “Uncle Toms.” Blacks  who have immigrated from Africa don’t count, because they are not descended from the horrors of slavery, so they mostly just get on with their lives.

The term “Hispanic” refers, according to the EEOC, as “A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) may be the sons of Cuban immigrants , but”the senators only “embrace their Hispanic heritage” when it’s “convenient” said a Nightly Show panel:

“To me, it’s really upsetting especially when it comes to the issue of bilingualism because Rubio speaks perfect Spanish,” contributor Grace Parra said, as the rest of the group nodded along. “Because Rubio speaks perfect Spanish and he never chooses to pull it out.”

“I think race is important to talk about when talking about this because it feels like, in an attempt to get rich, white voters,” she added, “Rubio and Cruz especially have actually alienated Latinos to the point where Latinos don’t trust them … We don’t even necessarily consider them Latino because they haven’t embraced their heritage.”

The New York Times in an op-ed on Feb. 3, explored the arguments that the two are not really Hispanic:

Neither Mr. Cruz nor Mr. Rubio meets conventional expectations of how Latino politicians are supposed to behave. Neither of these candidates claims to s peak for the Hispanic population or derive a crucial portion of their support from Hispanics, and neither bases much of his political identity on being a Latino.

Univision’s Jorge Ramos called them “race traitors” because of their positions on immigration control.

“There is no greater disloyalty than the children of immigrants forgetting their own roots. That is a betrayal,” he wrote.

I have been listening to these two gentlemen since the first days of the campaign, and I would venture that only a Liberal would not know that they are both of Cuban heritage, and are proud Americans. They both talk about their families quite a bit, and their pride in being American and pride in their parents for escaping the communist state of Cuba.

It would seem that if you are not a victim of belonging to a minority group, and suffering from your minority status, but instead taking pride in becoming not only fully American, but a candidate for the office of President of the United States, you will be severely criticized for your offensive behavior. There is something rotten at the heart of this line of thinking.

Sometime back in 1978 there was a famous court case called Bakke vs. University of California. “In that decision, Justice Lewis Powell asserted that an undefined “diversity” could allow taking account of race in college admissions, and it was a “compelling state interest” that justified an exception to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on discrimination by race. In 2003, in Grutter vs Bolinger the Supreme Court reaffirmed the “compelling state interest” of diversity since it provided, as Justice Sandra Day O’Conner argued,”the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”

Well, all very nice, but what exactly are the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body? Diversity based on differences in ideas and ideology clearly has benefits to offer, but our universities at present are deeply concerned with allowing no diversity of ideas whatsoever, hence the rise of ‘microaggressions’ and ‘safe spaces,’ and the banning of any speaker who might have an opinion differing from accepted wisdom. You must not offend by offering a new idea. How is it possible that they got so far off track? Education has become indoctrination in correct ways of thinking and correct thought.

Here’s Bruce Thornton, college professor, fellow at the Hoover Institution and the David Horowitz Freedom Center:

Encumbered with a fossilized illiberal ideology, progressives must rely on what Robert Conquest called “thought-blockers”––empty words and phrases that comfort and rouse the party faithful, and camouflage the lack of coherent argument, consistent principles, and empirical evidence. More important, these empty words and phrases that lie at the heart of progressivism are the tools for increasing the progressives’ political power and influence, at the expense of everybody else’s freedom. …

That common feel-good notion of diversity, however, is the “bait” in the ideological “bait and switch” of politicized diversity. The latter is not about the wondrous variety of Americans, especially their political diversity. It is instead the old Marxist fable of American crime and tyranny, enhanced with multicultural identity politics, the clichéd melodrama of white neo-imperialist, neocolonialist oppression of carefully selected innocent “victims” and their superior “cultures.” This diversity, then, is a mechanism for increasing the power and influence of certain ideological factions in society, especially the schools, at the expense of others.



Bill Whittle Reads a Hillary Clinton Children’s Book! by The Elephant's Child

Hey kiddos, it’s time for Uncle Bill to read a story– its a charming tale about a super breed of woman, a true leader from birth, Hilary Clinton! Gather round!!

(h/t: P J Media)



Free Speech? Trump Wants Stronger Libel Laws So He Can Sue Newspapers Who Aren’t ‘Nice’. by The Elephant's Child

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Donald Trump made his first definitive statement on just what he would do as president. Up to this point, he has been remarkably vague, but the Trump people seem to believe he’s making a commitment.  He is taking on The New York Times and The Washington Post saying they are dishonest and losing money. But he said when he’s president they’ll “have problems.”

“One of the things I’m going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we’re certainly leading. I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,” Trump said.

Well, they haven’t been ‘nice’ to him. What did you expect?

Donald Trump responded to demands that he release his tax returns, as he promised to do, by saying that he couldn’t right now because he was being audited. And he said he’s been audited every year for twelve years.

“I’m always audited by the IRS, which I think is very unfair — I don’t know, maybe because of religion, maybe because of something else, maybe because I’m doing this, although this is just recently,” Trump said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo immediately following the 10th GOP debate on Thursday night.

That provoked major gales of laughter, but the IRS took him seriously: and said to Mr. Trump: “Nothing prevents you from sharing your tax documents.”

Donald Trump claims he can’t release his tax returns until he’s done being audited by the IRS. But the federal agency on Friday said that’s not true.

“Federal privacy rules prohibit the IRS from discussing individual tax matters. Nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information,” a spokesperson for the IRS said in a statement. …

I want to [release them], except for many years, I’ve been audited every year,” Trump said during the debate. “Twelve years, or something like that. Every year they audit me, audit me, audit me. Nobody gets audited — I have friends that are very wealthy people. They never get audited. I get audited every year. I will absolutely give my return, but I’m being audited now for two or three years, so I can’t do it until the audit is finished, obviously. And I think people would understand that.”

Trump has been consistent about his business record and his defense of bankruptcy as a tactic. He has weathered four major bankruptcies and considers them as just a cost of doing business, or as his shrewdly using existing bankruptcy law to his advantage. While his Chapter 11 bankruptcies have allowed his businesses to live and see another day, that’s not so true for the smaller businesses who had made the mistake of contracting with the Trump empire.

People are inclined to deeply disapprove of companies who do big layoffs when the company is not doing well, Carly Fiorina was criticized or a major layoff of workers at Hewlett Packard, yet it was that action that saved the company and made it ready to prosper when the dot-com crisis passed. Bankruptcy means that smaller creditors may not be paid back, and for some of those it means going out of business.

The question is if this way of doing business is in any way transferable to the economy of a very large country. Overspending and defaulting on debts is for countries like Greece, hopefully not for the United States of America, although under the Obama administration the national debt has reached scary levels.

“Analysts have stopped trying to figure out Trump’s true positions or his political philosophy — if he has one—since he has flip-flopped so much.” The idea that his pride in his tactics might provide a model for a President Trump when dealing with an out-of-control public debt is frightening. It is fair to ask if he would default on all or any part of America’s multi-trillion dollar public debt.

Trump’s satisfaction clearly comes from wheeling and dealing, and building the TRUMP brand. He’s has some successes and a lot of failures, but it seems to be the game and the brand that he enjoys. I’m not sure that is an attractive quality in politics. I’d rather see a recognizable political philosophy like smaller government, free markets and free people. Mr. Trump doesn’t seem to understand free speech, he’d rather sue.

And he doesn’t talk much about what he’d do as president other than  do something really big, and it would be wonderful.

 



Who Is Donald Trump? The Billionaire New York Businessman? by The Elephant's Child

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John O’Sullivan is a prominent British conservative political journalist who was once speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher, and is an editor for National Review. Can’t vote here, not a citizen, but a visitor. He remarked “But it’s obvious that this election cycle is about Trump rather than about the other candidates. He has come from nowhere and surged ahead of the pack. My suspicion is that he didn’t originally expect to be a contender for long and was surprised when he established a strong lead. But he overcame his surprise and began to do things candidates do – put out position papers, etc. – while sticking to his unique style of campaigning, namely riffing entertainingly on the day’s news, jabbing opponents with sharp verbal sticks, and treating his audiences like neighborhood friends.” I thought that a particularly sharp observation.

Holman Jenkins said “They say they like Mr. Trump because he tells it like it is, except he doesn’t. They say he is politically incorrect, but he is factually incorrect.”
“The Donald may be as surprised as anybody by the way his campaign has taken fire — his utterances certainly suggest so.”

He likes riding the wave and may be unable or unwilling to get off. He launched this adventure purely to accrue value in his lifelong personal brand-building pursuit.

That doesn’t mean he ever seriously thought about being president, having to do the job. And one way that might become apparent is when, after winning the nomination and celebrating his personal triumph, he turns to the GOP and its donor armies to see what they are willing to do to win him the presidency. If it’s not as much as he would like—if he would actually have to fulfill his promise to finance his own honest-to-goodness presidential campaign, which could cost $1 billion—that’s when things get hinky.

That’s a second observation that Trump was just fooling around with a campaign, and then people took him seriously, so he’s going to see how far it can go.

Have you ever known a real con-man? I have. He was, for a time a new manager in the department where I worked. Everybody liked him because he was so personable. They thought he was great, but one day one of his stories touched on something I actually knew about. It was a complete and deliberate lie, for no reason at all.  It wasn’t much longer before he departed, fired for some irregular problems with his expense accounts. That was my first hustler. It’s not comfortable to have been taken for a fool, even though I wasn’t alone.

From Bloomberg Business: 2/26/2016

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., the casino operator founded by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, emerged from bankruptcy court protection on Friday and is now a subsidiary of billionaire Carl Icahn’s Icahn Enterprises LP.
Trump opened the Taj Mahal in 1990. The parent company continually struggled with debt, and Trump Entertainment filed for bankruptcy court protection in September 2014. The filing coincided with a protracted downturn in betting in Atlantic City that led four of the city’s 12 casinos to close. It was the Trump casino businesses’ fourth time in bankruptcy.

From Jim Geraghty at National Review: “What if Trump Doesn’t Have Billions?” “There’s a good chance we’ll never see his tax returns.

Trump told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show a year ago that he would release his tax return shortly, as soon as they were completed. A few years ago he refused to release “un-redacted tax returns, even when it could help him win a $5 billion libel lawsuit against a New York Times reporter. Forbes magazine estimated his net worth after 80 interviews and many resources as less than half of what he claimed last year. Others with direct knowledge of his finances think his net worth is closer to $150 -$250 million. Still comfortably wealthy but not a billionaire.

Trump said that was a lie and sued, lost in court, appealed, and lost again. The case dragged on because he would not turn over the tax returns. So the likelihood that they will be released to the public is slim.

Bloomberg Politics, February 24, 2016 “A Look Inside Trump’s Global Deals Exposes Trouble in Many Spots” In Panama, condominium owners are trying to fire him.  In Canada and Turkey, his business partners want to cut him loose. In Scotland and Ireland, he claims to be making millions on his golf courses, but so far is losing money. In Toronto the Toronto Tower Owners want Trump out.

“Donald Trump says his organization is in talks on more than 100 deals, 85 percent of them outside the U.S., and that if elected president he will bring to international relations the savvy he has demonstrated as a global deal maker.”

The article suggests that an examination of his operations shows that while he has made millions selling his name, he has chosen inexperienced or questionable partners, and there are legal conflicts amid claims of broken promises and empty apartments. Trump disputes the claims.

Yahoo Finance 10/19/2014 “12 Donald Trump businesses that no longer exist:” Also see “Donald Trump’s Record of Business Failures and Bluster” 2/16/2016, PJ Media.

  1. Trump Mortgage (announced 2006, closed 2007)
  2. Trump Steaks (2007-?)
  3. Trump Vodka (2006-2011)
  4. Trump: The Game (1989-1990, 2005)
  5. Trump Ice (Shut down 2010)
  6. Go Trump.com (2006-2007)
  7. Trump Magazine
  8. The New Jersey Generals (1983-1985)
  9. Trump Airlines (1989-1992)
  10. Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. 4 bankruptcies (1991, 2004, 2009, 2014)
  11. Trump Tower Tampa (2006-2007)
  12. Trump University (2005 -2011) Current lawsuit for fraud

“Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected” by Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, 2/25/2016

I don’t know. Donald Trump seems to me to be a hustler. Too many lies, too much Big talk. Everything is going to be Great!, Beautiful! He knows how to do that. He knows how to fix that. But he never tells us how, or who is going to pay for it and how. There are some really big problems in the world and we have no hint about how Trump might address them.



Anger Management: Everybody’s Angry! by The Elephant's Child

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Everybody is angry, or so we are told. The election is about a nation consumed with anger. That’s an easy diagnosis, if perhaps too facile. The debate last night would seem to confirm that diagnosis. The tag line to the debate was Ben Carson’s wistful “Would somebody please attack me?” (so I can have a chance to speak) Otherwise, it was obvious that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were thoroughly fed up with Donald Trump’s constant rude slurs and attacks, and gave him a dose of his own medicine. He was clearly unprepared for that.

Donald Trump, we are told, is conducting a “populist campaign.” But what does that mean? Merriam Webster simply says a populist is:

a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people

So I turned to Business Dictionary.com (which was the next post) :

In general, ideology or political movement that mobilizes the population (often, but not always, the lower classes) against an institution or government, usually in the defense of the underdog or the wronged. Whether of left, right or middle political persuasion, it seeks to unite the uncorrupt and the unsophisticated (the ‘little man’) against the corrupt dominant elites (usually the orthodox politicians) and their camp followers (usually the rich and the intellectuals). It is guided by the belief that political and social goals are best achieved by the direct actions of the masses.

I haven’t heard anyone talking about “the little man” in years. And yes, there’s way too much talk about “the working class” (vs. the leisure class?), the common people, the unwashed, the lower classes — that sort of thing. I have always thought of America as a classless society. I grew up very rural, and have always known people who were very poor, as well as people who were unusually rich. I didn’t know until recent years that was unusual, that most people grew up in neighborhoods were everyone was pretty much like them.

As far as Donald Trump representing the “common man” or “the little people”, Kimberly Strassel disposed of that theme in today’s column at the Wall Street Journal, pointing out that “Trump is the Ultimate Insider,” today’s must read, (paywall, or look on Google)

I’m not sure that the anger is not misdirected. President Obama has famously announced that he has a phone and a pen, and will attempt to make law on his own, since Congress will not cooperate. And he has been successfully doing exactly that. Many voters are furious with Republicans in Congress for not stopping him. And it is really the first time a president has so flagrantly violated the laws and the Constitution in ignoring the tripartite nature of our government deliberately, and  attempted to enact his own preferences in violation of public opinion.

There has been a campaign by Democrats to blame the police and policing for “mass incarceration” though that incarceration is to blame for a dramatically reduced crime rate, in order to keep the black community focused on “white privilege,” in particular and unfair treatment in general, rather than the dreadful unemployment rate in the black community, and the lack of opportunity, resentment which is supposed to make sure that blacks vote.

David Gerlernter wrote that the source of the anger is political correctness, where changed vocabulary and changed emphasis are changing our culture in ways that we could not have imagined. Who could have imagined that the government would demand that people be freely able to use the restroom based on what sex they are identifying with on that particular day. Or women in combat despite the objections of the military. Or that the military would be required to run the engines of war-making on biofuels because global warming. There’s some pretty strong evidence for an aversion to PC in all its forms.

There’s a lot of evidence for anger over our foreign policy, and the neglect of long term allies in favor of pandering to our enemies. We have given Iran everything it wants in exchange for some vague agreements they are already ignoring. Ditto for Cuba, and Obama plans to visit shortly where he will promise all sorts of aid in exchange for nothing at all — the mistreatment of the Cuban people will continue, as will the mistreatment or execution of dissidents.

A lot of small businesses have found themselves unable to compete with other businesses who hire illegal aliens at reduced wages. Workers at Disney were famously fired, but forced to train their H1B replacements in order to get the severance pay to which they were entitled. Those workers are testifying before Congress, but any resulting legislation will be a long time coming, and that’s a source of a lot of anger.

And of course you have the people enrolled in ObamaCare who have learned that the promise that “you can keep your doctor” was a bunch of hooey, and you will have to pay far more, and wait longer to see a new doctor that you may or may not like.



School Districts are spending millions on ‘white privilege’ training for teachers by The Elephant's Child

17325The Pacific Educational Group (PEG), a San Francisco-based education consulting group’s mission is to improve educational opportunities for black and other minority children. “The company sells the notion that the American education system is unfairly based on traditional white cultural norms (white privilege in schools) to benefit white students to the detriment of  minorities.”

Unfortunately PEG has a working relationship with a number of radical progressive academics who condemn American capitalism and American society in general. They are intent on convincing minority students that the education system, like American society, are biased against them. Rather than motivate students for success, they want to convince them they are victims of an unjust society which requires radical transformation. Comes the revolution?

Eighteen school districts reported paying PEG a combined $1,56 million for consulting on victimology. Some Bargain. Seven districts paid the company in six figures:

    • Lawrence, Kansas – $125,575
    • Osseo, Minnesota – $208,800
    • Bellevue, Washington – $153,600
    • Pittsburgh – $123,324
    • Baltimore County, Maryland – $138,930
    • Corvallis, Oregon – $105,055
    • St. Paul, Minnesota – $369,828

PEG listed 183 districts across the country as clients last year.

Dennis Prager Explained The Fallacy of White Privilege’

There are a host of privileges that dwarf “white privilege.” A huge one is Two-Parent Privilege. If you are raised by a father and mother, you enter adulthood with more privileges than anyone else in American society, irrespective of race, ethnicity, or sex. That’s why the poverty rate among two-parent black families is only 7 percent. Compare that with a 22 percent poverty rate among whites in single-parent homes. Obviously the two-parent home is the decisive “privilege.”

Another “privilege” that dwarfs “white privilege” is Asian privilege. Asian Americans do better than white Americans in school, on IQ tests, on credit scores, and on other positive measures. In fact, according to recent data from the Federal Reserve, Asians are about to surpass whites as the wealthiest group of Americans. Will the Left soon complain about Asian privilege?



The Immoral CEO — Worker Pay Gap, and How It Works by The Elephant's Child

From the Wall Street Journal, February 20, Notable & Quotable Column.

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Deal, What Deal? Iran’s Up To Its Old Tricks. by The Elephant's Child

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I’m not sure that many Americans understand the nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Certainly President Obama does not. He has stated that the people of Iran are just like us, love their families, want to live in peace. Uh huh.

The Islamic Republic has arrested two leaders of an Iranian heavy metal band named “Confess” on charges of “blasphemy,” writing “satanic” lyrics, and meeting with forbidden foreign radio stations. They were seized in November by the intelligence wing of the IRG (Iranian Revolutionary Guard) and have been held in the infamous Evin prison in solitary confinement until they were released on February 5. Nikan Siyanor Khosravi 23 and Khosravi Arash Ilkhani 21 are currently free on a $30,000 bond, a fortune in Iran. They face the prospect of  execution if convicted of the most serious offense, which is probably “blasphemy.”

This is part of a major crack down on orders of Iran’s religious authorities. At least 170 people were arrested in November. Arrests were made without warrants, and those arrested never saw a judge. In January Iran executed Hashem Shaabani, a poet, for “waging war on God.” The execution was with the approval of President Hassan Rouhani, who our administration described as “a moderate” and “a reformer.” The religious authorities are not fooling around. Last year 700 Iranians were executed by authorities in just a 6 month period on charges such as “insulting the Prophet” and “spreading corruption on earth.”

Iran is working hard to advance their ballistic missile program in complete defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

Iran is also in the process of signing deals with both China and Russia for the purchase of advanced aircraft and tanks in violation U.N. Resolution 2231. That resolution specifically forbids Iran from purchasing, “battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, [and] warships…” without prior approval from the U.N.

Moreover, recent satellite imagery reveals that while Iran was negotiating with the West to lift sanctions, they were more than likely conducting secret nuclear experiments with military dimensions at their top secret Parchin military facility. New research and support centers were constructed, tunnels were dug and reinforced and wide swaths were paved over with concrete in an effort to hide illicit activity. The Obama administration inexplicably continues to remain silent in the face of Iran’s maleficence.

No criticism from the White House or State Department. Obama’s great accomplishment is the Iran Deal.



The Dark Ages Weren’t Really Dark! by The Elephant's Child

Medieval, the Dark Ages, a time of plagues and starvation, and gloom. Where did we get those ideas? And what was the real truth? Here’s a little historical correction for us.



You May Not Disagree With Progressives! by The Elephant's Child

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On February 10, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) held a panel discussion on how to take legal action to implement the environmental activists  agenda through legal action against climate change deniers. They covered topics such as RICO prosecutions, climate torts and the Supreme court’s ‘appalling’ stay of the Clean Power Plan. The session was organized and moderated by Lisa Heinzerling, an attorney brought into the EPA to manage the legal analysis of just how to extend EPA powers beyond the limits of the Clean Air Act.

What Republicans cannot get through their heads is that the Progressives, the Left, are at war “to fight for the world as it should be.”They don’t know very much and they have trouble defending their point of view — and they want the “vast right wing conspiracy” to stop disagreeing and they are willing to put you in prison to make you stop. They believe that utopia is just there, a few steps away, if the damned right wingers would just stop arguing and spoiling everything.

The ACS is a very liberal association of legal progressives that sponsors over 1,ooo sessions a year to promote their agenda and create a network “useful in influencing judges nationwide.” They don’t like conservative “buzzwords” like “originalism” and “strict construction” that use neutral-sounding language that leads to hated conservatism.

Although last to speak, the keynote message was offered by Senator Whitehouse. He supports a federal RICO investigation and prosecution of “deniers.” His was a political screed based exclusively on a presumption of a scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change through use of hydrocarbons. He believes the tobacco RICO case is the “roadmap” for prosecution of deniers and he looks forward to the day when the CEOs of the coal, petrochemical and electric power industry are marched before the Senate to confess their crime.

Greens are terrified that cheap coal, oil and natural gas are making renewable fuels uneconomical. Americans are spending less on energy than at any time in recent memory. Wind and solar are barely affordable when oil prices are high.

A California congressman and two other representatives demanded last week that the government investigate Royal Dutch Shell “for deceiving the public about the alleged dangers associated with man-made global warming.”

Don’t laugh, they are serious about this.  Really.

ADDENDUM: I did top this article with a vague picture of potential hangings from an article about ISIS. It has been suggested that nooses are “racist” because lynching.  So I am replacing it with the Inquisition, where a man’s feet are being burned off as he screams because I don’t want to “offend,” because “political correctness.” Go figure.



February 22 is George Washington’s Real Birthday, Not Some Ginned Up “President’s Day” by The Elephant's Child

Imagine, you just turned 43 years old, and suddenly you find yourself Commander in Chief of a ragtag American army, such as it was. The battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill had already been fought when Washington arrived in Massachusetts, and had established that the British  could not break out of Boston. Once Washington placed the captured British cannon on Dorchester Heights, the British evacuated by sea. p1070056

Washington had been named Commander in Chief by the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in June 1775. He was forty-three years old. There was not yet any American army for him to command, only the militias ringing Boston, but the delegates of the increasingly rebellious colonies were seized by  fury for action and for war. “Oh that I was a soldier,” wrote John Adams, a radical lawyer from Massachusetts. “I will be. I am reading military books.  Everybody must and will, and shall be a soldier.”

Adams never became a soldier, but Washington had already been one.  He had served in the Virginia militia during the French and Indian War twenty years earlier, rising to the rank of colonel.  In his old age, Adams would describe Washington’s selection as a political compromise—a southern commander, to lead what would at first be a mostly New England force—engineered by congressional wise-men, including Adams. But Congress did not have many other officers to choose from, Israel Putnam, of the Connecticut militia, was, at 57, too old.  Artemas Ward, the commander of the Massachusetts militia, was incompetent and suffering from the stone.

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The state begins in violence.  However lofty the ideals of a new country or a new regime, it encounters opposition, as most new regimes and countries do, it must fight. If it loses, its ideals join the long catalogue of unfulfilled aspirations.

At six o’clock on the evening of July 9, 1776, the soldiers of the main American army, stationed in New York, were paraded and read the Declaration of Independence. General George Washington, Commander in Chief, hoped this “important event” would inspire them, though when some soldiers joined a mob in pulling down a statue of George III, he deplored their “want of order.” Over the next two months the American army and its commander, orderly or not, were unable to offer much in defense of the Declaration’s sentiments. …

During the summer, the British assembled, on Staten Island and in the harbor, the largest expeditionary force of the eighteenth century: ten ships of the line, twenty frigates, and 32,000 regular troops.  On August 22, most of those troops began moving to Gravesend Bay on Long Island, in what is now southwest Brooklyn.  Anticipating a possible landing there, Washington had posted more than a third of his own force of 19,000 men on Brooklyn Heights, and on a line of hills to the  south.  But he expected the British to attack him on the harbor side of his position, where they could bring the guns of their ships into play. On the morning of the 27th, the British slipped a force through the hills five miles away in the opposite direction and hit the American front line from before and behind.

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These are excerpts from Richard Brookheiser’s  Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington, which he calls a moral biography, which has two purposes: to explain its subject, and to shape the minds and hearts of those who read it—by showing how a great man navigated politics and a life as a public figure.  Brookheiser says “If Washington’s contemporaries were too willing to be awed, we are not willing enough. …We have lost the conviction that ideas require men to bring them to earth, and that great statesmen must be great men. Great statesmen are rare enough in their world. We believe they are mythical, like unicorns.” They are not.

According to recent studies, our kids don’t know anything about George Washington, nor do most adults. There is some speculation that the problem is big fat books. People are more apt to read thin books that don’t scare them about the time involved. Answering that need is a new short biography by the great British historian Paul Johnson. The paperback is only $8.71, and a hardback is available.

ADDENDUM: The picture above is a forensic reconstruction of Washington as a General, and Commander in Chief. Getting a likeness is hard. You get one thing just a little off, and you have lost the resemblance. Washington’s skin was pale, we are told, and he burned in the sun. I don’t think the tricorn hat gives even as much protection as a baseball cap, so I’m sure he appeared much more weathered, with squint lines (no sunglasses). His real hair was reddish. But nasty Stuart Gilbert did him real dirt down through the ages by overemphasizing the distortions of false teeth, and getting a poor likeness. Remember that, every time you look at a one dollar bill. It was deliberate.



Here’s The Donald: The Businessman from New York. by The Elephant's Child

Whether you are an admirer of the businessman from New York, or one of his detractors,  you should get acquainted with this documentary made a few years back about ‘the Donald.’ It is long, but utterly fascinating.  I come from the other side of the Rocky Mountains, and New York ways are not really familiar territory. We have enough trouble with the West Coast ways of Seattle and environs, and enviros. I added that last because I liked the combination, but Seattle is excessively environmentally loony.




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