Archives for category: History

from a review on Goodreads

Ahmed Osman’s thesis in Jesus in the House of the Pharaohs (2004) strikes me as preposterous. Yet it is such a daring performance that I am sort of in awe. The book delivers (figuratively) a blow to the brain, in a way reminiscent of Julian Jaynes’s The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976) or something by Erich von Däniken — it is such a radical reinterpretation of history that I am left not believing but, instead, holding my hat over my chest as a salute.

And like Jaynes’s and von Däniken’s work, and especially like Sigmund Freud’s Moses and Monotheism (1939), this book revolutionizes the past, in this case upending not only Jewish origin stories but Christian ones as well.

The sliver of plausibility for what Osman does lies in an interpretive difficulty: real history in the Bible before Ezra and Nehemiah is . . . problematic. Before the re-building of the Temple in Jerusalem the matching of story to archaeology proves iffy at best.

So one is tempted to dismiss much of the early Biblical “historical” matter as fiction, as myth, or as radically messed-up fact at the very least. The Jews, just back from Babylon — or while in it — constructed a mythology based on dim memory and oral tradition. And out of the need to tell good stories. The strange connection to Egypt sticks out in all this. Take, as just one oddity to be accounted for, the ancient Egyptian practice of circumcision — how did the Israelites’ adoption of it make them “separate”? Well, it made them different from the Mesopotamians. That it did. 

Osman makes the connection with Egypt stronger than ever.

And what a whopper he expounds. In his first book, 1987’s  Stranger in the Valley of Kings, he advanced the idea that Yuya, Master of the Horse under Thutmose IV and Amenhotep III, was actually the Biblical Joseph. In subsequent books, especially this one, he reinterprets everything in terms of 18th and 19th Dynasty Pharaonic history.

Osman proposes that . . .

1. Thutmose III was the Biblical King David, ruler of lands between the Nile and Euphrates (which Thutmose was, but no Israelite ever was).
2. Abraham and Sarai went down to Egypt, with Abraham notoriously passing off his wife as his sister, allowing Thutmose (David) to take Sarai unto himself and sire a son, Isaac, whose birthright is as a prince in Egypt. But they are sent north by the disgusted pharaoh, because Abraham had lied to him.
3. Joseph, grandson of Isaac, is sold into slavery by his brothers and, in Egypt, rises from slavery to high position as Yuya, Father to Pharaohs, in the reign of Thutmose IV. He served on into the reign of the next pharaoh, Amenhotep III, “the Great,” 
4. who is the Biblical Solomon. This long-lived ruler revives an ancient religion, an intellectual and spiritual worship of one deity, represented in the Sun Disk — Atenism.
5. His second son, Amenhotep IV, inherits the throne. He becomes a big believer and priest of Atenism, and redubs himself Akhenaten. And — get this — he is Moses!!!
6. Alhenaten/Moses is kicked out and flees with his most devoted followers to the Sinai. His son Tutankhaten becomes pharaoh at a young age. Tutankhaten is a peacelover and not as big of a fanatic as his father, and accepts Amenism back into the mainstream of Egyptian life, changes his name to Tutankhamen and then travels to Sinai to convince his father to come back to Egypt and accept his co-pharaonic position — all a big happy family — but is killed by an Atenist priest. This is the death on Sinai that Freud wrote about and attributed to the death of “the first Moses” — but it was young King Tut. Tut’s body was sent back to Egypt for a rather bizarre burial.
7. Now, Tut also believed in an afterlife, a resurrection. He was both Moses’ colleague Joshua and . . . drum roll . . . Jesus — of Christianity! This is the stone the builders rejected. The builders of Judaism. Amazing thesis.
8. He is buried and succeeded by his uncle, Pharaoh Ay, the son of Yuya/Joseph, the Biblical Ephraim, and the New Testament Joseph of Arimathea, all three!
9. The next pharaoh, Horemheb, is the persecutor of the Jews in Goshen.
10. After Horemheb croaks, back comes old Akhenaten/Moses, to reclaim the rest of his people. Though the 19th Dynasty pharaoh that Moses encounters does indeed recognize Akhenaten’s royal staff, he is none too impressed with Moses’ entreaties: conflict ensues, Moses sneaks his people out. etc., etc.

Now, that is a story. 

The Essene connection is not clear to me (perhaps I read it too hastily, or too long ago, having stretched out my reading over too long a period) but then the Dead Sea Scrolls’ Teacher of Righteousness is himself pretty obscure. Osman identifies him with Jesus, and, as I said above, Tut. This stretching back of the messianic tradition is that notion taken to its extreme. In The First Messiah: Investigating the Savior Before Jesus (1999), Michael O. Wise only pushed it back a century or so, and, with scholarly caution, did not identify the first “Messiah” with Jesus of Nazareth.

The Akhenaten-as-Moses theory is daring enough. But Osman’s no piker: he makes Christianity an underground movement in Judaism from the beginning.

Is this at all plausible? Well, I have long regarded Freud’s book as a “nut book,” more nutty than Velikovsky’s Oedipus and Akhenaten (1960). So how should I regard this?

Identifying the “historical Jesus” is an old game, for both scholars and nuts. Richard Carrier, in On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt (2014), does the best job advancing the thesis that there was no actual, historical Jesus. (Carrier cites Michael O. Wise, for example, but not Osman.) There is no good historical evidence for Jesus’s existence in Judea c. 30 A.D. — the gospels providing no evidence at all, really — so it is not nutty to say there was no such person. I know it sounds weirder than a walnut, but the literary nature of the gospels provides a huge hint: we are talking about religious fiction here, and there was a major strain of Christianity that did not assert the physical reality of the Messiah at all. I refer, of course, to Gnosticism. And Carrier rightly makes much of the “spiritual Jesus” tradition to be discerned in what remains of that bizarre non-canonical text, The Ascension of Isaiah.

But the real problem with the historical Jesus subject matter is not the paucity of candidates for the man, but the surfeit. Jesus is Yeshua is Joshua, and that was a common name among the Hebrews. Carrier wades into the most startling example, taking note of a “Jesus When” problem, discussing the Nazoreans’ messiah with that name, c. 100 B.C. (pp. 281-285). Indeed, this “Ben Stada” (son of the Unfaithful) or “Ben Pandera” (son of a man named Pandera who had sex with a woman named Mary) was the only executed Jesus the Babylonian Talmudic writers knew of.

That this tradition lived on in the propagandistic Toldoth Jesu is hard to miss. I had an argument with an incredibly smart Jew once about these stories. He refused to take this tradition seriously, though, even countenance it at all, apparently because he thought that it would raise the ire of today’s Christians, conjuring up Christian anti-semitism.

Today’s evangelical Christians (whom I know best) will not likely be budged, in no small part because they tend not to read the historical matter of the Nazoreans or Gnostics or much of anything else that might challenge their faith. They are told by Josh MacDowell and Bill O’Reilly that the evidence for the Son of God living and dying and resurrecting in Judea in the days of Herod and Pontius Pilate is clear. It is not. But that is OK. Harmless fictions? I hope so.

One problem Christians will not properly confront is the problem of pious fraud. Bart Ehrman’s Forged: Writing in the Name of God—Why The Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (2011) makes the standard case clearly. But without getting into the thicket of the canon, note what we find in Josephus, a historian quite extra-canonical:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, § 3

This is an obvious interpolation into the historian’s text. Almost all scholars are agreed upon this. It would be most out of character for the turncoat Jew to parade Christian piety in one passage and nowhere else. It makes no sense other than as a forgery.

But what follows is instructive. Well, what follows immediately are two brief tales of scandal, and then a new chapter, which begins like this:

But the nation of the Samaritans did not escape without tumults. The man who excited them to it was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence, and who contrived every thing so that the multitude might be pleased; so he bid them to get together upon Mount Gerizzim, which is by them looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them, that when they were come thither, he would show them those sacred vessels which were laid under that place, because Moses put them there. So they came thither armed, and thought the discourse of the man probable; and as they abode at a certain village, which was called Tirathaba, they got the rest together to them, and desired to go up the mountain in a great multitude together; but Pilate prevented their going up, by seizing upon file roads with a great band of horsemen and foot-men, who fell upon those that were gotten together in the village; and when it came to an action, some of them they slew, and others of them they put to flight, and took a great many alive, the principal of which, and also the most potent of those that fled away, Pilate ordered to be slain.

Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 4, § 1

This rout of a peaceful Samaritan religious figure, we learn, so upset the Samaritans that they petitioned the emperor, who called back Pontius Pilate to Rome. Pilate was removed from “service” in the area because of his execution of Samaritan pilgrims. This is interesting because it links Pilate to a religious execution. Of an unnamed Samaritan.

Why the lack of a name? Well, Josephus does not name every last one the people he writes about. But Charles Kos, a YouTuber and historian, suggests another reason. The name was elided. Because the name was Jesus. This man, a proverbial Good Samaritan — and the Samaritans were, after all, a people practicing an alternate form of Judaism — was, Kos speculates, the Jesus who spurred the creation of crucial historical elements of the gospels. The Pilate story, for one.

It seems to me not at all implausible that this Samaritan’s passion tale was united with the Nazoreans’ account and the Gnostics’ mythos to create the gospels as we know them.

But Ahmed Osman goes much further. He brings King Tut into the mix, and creates a re-interpretation almost as radically implausible as the standard Christian theological account of the Word and the crucifixion and the bizarre, ghostly Resurrection.

Osman’s story is impressive, I will not deny it. But does it convince?

He had me at Yuya. The idea of Alhenaten as Moses is not altogether too bizarre a leap. But Tut as Jesus?

I will let the question hang there. As if on an Ankh cross.

twv

My reading stack just gets bigger and bigger.
Here is some spillover.


What made the Great Depression different from the depression of 1893-97?

as answered on Quora:

Much of what I was taught in school about the Great Depression was wrong, or at the very least proved to be extremely skewed. Not a few accepted truths are little more than red herrings. Public schools in America do us all a great disservice, but regarding boom and bust cycles, you can usually count on them to have it backwards. The truth is more complex than commonly admitted, and will likely startle students of history.

But hey, instead of a long, scholarly explanation, I would like merely to mention a handful of issues:

  1. No one in government attempted, in the earlier debacle, what Herbert Hoover did to “heroically” save the country from the difficulties associated with the bust part of the boom-bust cycle. For examples of what he managed to “accomplish” — which included trying to prop up wage rates — consult Murray N. Rothbard, America’s Great Depression. And yes, you read that right, Hoover was no advocate for laissez faire. He was, instead, a celebrated progressive who lived up to his reputation by doing his damnedest to prevent the deepening of the depression — and for humanitarian reasons (and Hoover was indeed a great humanitarian). But instead of improving matters and steering the nation away from crisis, he made the situation far, far worse.
  2. Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for the presidency in part on what we would now call (idiotically) an “austerity” program. But when he took the reins he doubled down on Hoover’s progressivist interventionism, offering These Benighted States* a great number of massive interventions into market adjustment processes, most famously the National Recovery Act. There are a lot of sources for this; I needn’t list any. Just recognize that FDR extended the depression well beyond his second term in office. The U.S. was, in effect, in a depression all the way through World War II (see the work of Robert Higgs on this, especially the concept of regime uncertainty). Nothing like any of this happened under President Grover Cleveland’s watch. And when World War II ended, the Keynesians were panicky: “another Depression!” was their cry. To their horror, a Keynesian stimulus was not delivered, yet the recovery was fairly swift, even with all those soldiers coming home and flooding the labor markets.
  3. The Great Depression was part of a worldwide, post-Great War trend, the precipitating element of which was Britain’s going back to the gold standard at parity after the wartime inflation. This daring policy might have worked out just dandy, but unions were strong, and downward price adjustments were thus disallowed in the industrial sector. Massive unemployment was the result — the obvious and predictable result. This was a known thing, yet Keynes was scraping together his “theory” to work around what amounted to a political logjam. (See W. H. Hutt’s The Keynesian Episode for a great analysis of this, including some great stories, like Sidney Webb calling the unionists “pigs.”) And in America? Well, enter a new institution, the Federal Reserve, which inflated the money supply in part to help the Brits, thus setting the stage for the crash of 1929. Though the late 19th century had huge monetary issues — America’s gold/silver bimetallism question was quite the mess, and was not resolved properly — at least old Grover did not have to out up with a central bank! This is the biggest issue. See Philips, McManus, and Nelson, Banking and the Business Cycle, for a thorough investigation of the monetary causes of the Great Depression, and the nagging disequibrium aspects to what has been called “the secondary depression.” It is also worth mentioning that the United States has always been plagued by goofy money and banking policy. See Calomiris and Haber, Fragile by Design, for the best discussion of this I have encountered.
  4. And then there is Smoot-Hawley. What can I say about this that has not been said? Well, that is not the point. Let me merely hint at a summary. The tariff bill hampered not only American trade, it hurt the very farmers it was meant to help (the agricultural sector being the one sector that never quite bounced back from the post-Great War bust). But there is more: it also inflicted a series of huge stressors to the banking system. And it did worse, its protectionism ushered in a global trade “war.” Thus setting the stage for World War II. It was devastating, and made the Great Depression far worse — which, after Hoover, FDR, and the Federal Reserve, did not need more such “help.”

The Great Depression was a perfect storm of bad government policy.

And note: I did not quite get to the thesis of “The Great Contraction” (Friedman and Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States) or Irving Fisher’s brilliant debt-deflation theory. And I have skimped (but not ignored) the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle.

There were structural problems at play in the depression during Grover Cleveland’s second presidency, sure. But they did not dovetail to work woe as happened later, under progressive politicians and that great, unwieldy, and quite dangerous progressive program, the Fed.


* I am especially fond of this manner of referring to our increasingly disunited (but nevertheless nationalistic) hodgepodge, the United States. My coinage. The people and its governments are such disappointments, having turned back on the original promise and persisting in an astounding cluelessness.

Operation Northwoodsthis is what our federal government is capable of.

This is the kind of thing people in government cook up.

It is breathtaking in its enormity:

In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Codenamed Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and Codenamed community into supporting a war to oust Cuba’s then new leader, communist Fidel Castro.

America’s top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: ‘We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,’ and, ‘casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.’

David Ruppe, “U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba” (ABC News), May 1, 2001

What is worth noting is that this secret was kept for years. Think on that, for a moment.

Now, I admit: the conspiracy was not full-blown, in one specific sense, for it was nixed by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. But that fact might blow the story into the mainstream of American political consciousness.

One explanation for the JFK assassination might be that the Deep State which dreams up such things didn’t like being vetoed by a mere president, so a cabal within its ranks took out a president as a warning to future presidents. I know, I know: JFK conspiracy stuff is a joke to smart intellectuals. But is Operation Northwoods?

Is that a joke too?

Move along? Nothing to see here? It wasn’t put into action so absolutions all around?

I know very little about the minutia of conspiracy “theories“ or debunkings. Until recently I never cared. But then I realized that my long-standing belief that we no longer live in a constitutional republic has serious consequences for the interpretation of post-World War II history, and perhaps earlier. So now I am extremely curious as to how deep the rot goes.

I am, in fact, now open to considering just about anything.

Indeed, the truth about this plan only reached the sunlight of transparency by happenstance. Which suggests to me that we have no idea how many successful conspiracies lie buried deep by the Deep State.

And when you realize that, there are consequences. A reasoning person must not shy away from the conclusion that honest inquiry into blown secrets like Operation Northwoods entail.

When we get right down to it, plans like this, in complete contravention of all that is good, or just, or even legal, test the value of our political pieties: all our fine phrases to the effect that America is on the side of the angels transmute to wormwood on the tongue.

twv

me and the ice age

Young people these days talk about something that makes no sense to me: climate justice.

Justice, as near as I can make out, is the other-regarding virtue of action, where we focus on meting out what people deserve, especially as it relates to the use of coercion. This latter is important because this idea, justice, evolved in the context of contests between man and man: its origin is to right great wrongs, wrongs caused by deliberate behavior, usually regarding force and theft. Justice focuses clearly on rules of behavior, limiting our actions. When a limit is broken, then compensatory action of a possibly violent but definitely coercive nature is warranted. Justice thus pertains to people who choose.

The climate is something else again. It is a vast cosmos of interactive systems that we barely understand. And while such things as pollution may indeed be handled by systems of justice, of law, “climate justice” assumes way too much, especially a lot of knowledge of what climates should be.

The global climate is. Climates are. And they change. And have done so outside of the kind of direct human control where justice might readily and sensibly apply.

Could it be that people use the term “climate justice” merely to bully people into accepting a policy that is by no means evident? If you load up your politics with “justice” skeptical people might be cowed by your use of a word of power.

And yes, justice is the Big Gun of moral suasion. Because it directs the coercive power of the State, you see. In times past Righteousness might have been the word of choice, since God was the Big Gun of rhetoric. But the State long ago usurped the place of the deities in lowbrow ethical argumentation.

Amusingly, the same folks who are prone to the term “climate justice” appear to be the ones who talk a great deal about “privilege” — as in “white privilege.” And here we might find a relevant check upon climate justice fanaticism.

Greg Gutfeld’s notion of “ocean privilege” to describe Americans’ feelings of invulnerability to attack provides a key. Much of American foreign policy has been bolstered by Americans’ sense of impregnability, buffered as America is from the Old World by two great oceans. Drolly, Gutfeld himself seems to think that the days of American ocean privilege are over: (“Ocean privilege does not exist anymore. The world is small. We cannot rely on distance anymore.”) And yet he seems (from what I can tell) to think that this means America must be more engaged overseas — a bizarre conclusion.

But this is not the occasion or location to provide a critique of Gutfeldian interventionism. Instead, I merely note his use of “privilege” as an excuse to mention a far bigger and more universal privilege: Climate stability privilege.

For most of the last 5000 years, and perhaps a bit longer, humanity has lived in a remarkable period of climate calm: slow, moderate changes.

Sure, there was the Medieval Warming Period, and the Little Ice Age (which we have been warming out of for a few centuries, mostly through no merit of our own), and other waxings and wanings. But the sun has been fairly steady in its output; we have lived through a quite moderate cycle of climate metamorphoses. And civilizations have risen and fallen accordingly.

At the end of the last Ice Age, however, our climate was not at all conducive to human life.

You know, The Flood and all.

Graham Hancock has made much of recent discoveries in his latest book, Magicians of the Gods, and sides with scientists who think the Ice Age ended because of bolides evaporating the two great Canadian glaciers. Geologist Robert Schoch describes the following epoch carefully:

A dark age ensued, which I refer to as SIDA (solar-induced dark age). For thousands of years following the end of the last ice age humanity was reduced to the brutish Hobbesian state, hunting, foraging, and eking out a hardscrabble existence; and this included living in caves in some regions. Indeed, retreating to caves and other underground shelters would have been a way for isolated pockets of humanity to survive the cataclysmic solar-induced onslaughts at the end of the last ice age.

But he offers a causal story distinct from Hancock’s:

Electrical plasma discharges from the Sun, driven to the surface of our planet, would have caused widespread incineration where they touched down as well as setting off wildfires. Solar outbursts not only warmed the planet overall but, hitting glaciers, oceans, and lakes, through melting and instantaneous evaporation, would have placed vast amounts of moisture into the atmosphere that subsequently came down as torrential rains. These rains, combined with rising sea levels, caused widespread flooding across the globe.

Frightening times. Schoch summarizes: “Major solar outbursts and eruptions, the likes of which have not been experienced on Earth in modern times, were the instigating factors that ended the last ice age and brought early civilization to its knees.”

But could it have been even worse, much earlier?

Seventy thousand years ago or so, humanity was hit to almost nothing by vulcanism of astounding proportions — when, scientists tell us, the number of modern humans went down to a few dozen breeding pairs, in several locations at most.

So, while I am very concerned about some anthropogenic environmental disasters (ocean pollution, overfishing, and a possible and quite alarming increase in oceanic anoxia) others strike me as a tad overblown. We have more to worry about from comets and volcanos than “anthropogenic global warming,” for even the worst predicted effects are as if nothing compared to the catastrophes of the Ice Age terminus.

One interesting thought: why were ancient civilizations — which we may wish to call pre-historic civilizations, since if Hancock and Schoch and others are right, they preceded our histories — so obsessed with megalithic structures? Could it possibly be that these stonework monstrosities served as refuges from cataclysm, including increased cosmic radiation?

We make fun of troglodytes, to this day. But that, my friends, is mere climate stability privilege. Our nice above-ground houses will provide no protection should Sol start engaging in major unruly emissions, as it has in times long past.

And today’s young “climate justice advocates” would envy the men guarding the caves and mines and other underground structures should solar activity increase and make above-ground living again perilous or impossible. There is no concept of justice that will sway those who have prepared for the worst to take in and provide safety to the clueless, privileged young who offer nothing but their genes.

If you want to survive disaster, make yourself useful and unenvious, and . . . dig. Deeply. Into the bedrock.

To get a little perspective, at the very least.

twv

Sometimes we should take a step back and remember: we don’t know much, and much of what we “know” isn’t so.

IMG_2025This is especially the case in foreign affairs. Many important events and agendas are kept from the public. Whole organizations operate (and even exist) sub rosa. We are fed misinformation and lies on a regular basis. We are easily manipulated.

I have tried to hedge, or even seem Delphic, in the recent past, regarding Russia and North Korea, for instance. I know I know little, and more-than-merely-suspect that many who say they know important truths often only parrot half-truths, at best.

There has been way too much partisan nonsense about Russia in the past few years, and much of what is important about the “negotiations” between North Korea and the U.S., South Korea, et al., is kept far from public view.

IMG_2027We should try to keep in mind that manipulation of focus is the modus operandi of all major parties and organizations, and with it the clumsy and deceptive uses of statistics.

Arguably, one of the main jobs of the corporate media is to encourage people to think they are informed, while ensuring that they remain misinformed. News is not history or social science. It is entertainment. And the unfortunate unreliability and sheer perversity of the major media outlets does not need to be seen as a conspiracy (much of it being quite open). Ideological fantasy, partisan coup-stick conflict, and the profitability of hype and hysteria might explain most of it.

twv

1B2BB2D3-027F-453F-AE3C-3A4F99244C77

Snopes makes much of the “different contexts” between Obama’s 2016 “shit show” comment and Trump’s alleged and recent “shit hole” query. Snopes somehow doesn’t make much of the fact that while there is no doubt that Obama used the language, Trump’s epithet was not merely given in private, it was divulged by his enemy, Sen. Durbin, who may have misreported it — or even lied about it. Typically, further testimony has tended to fall out along partisan lines.

0291B6E8-31A4-438F-B5CA-AB705BB7D680Also, Snopes’ “mostly false” judgment relies on the setup question, concentrating on “did the media ignore” rather than “did the media repeat the word as a horrible affront to all that is good and decent hundreds of times in one day and relentlessly ever since”?

Leftists have stumbled onto a new mantra, it appears:

shit hole shit hole
shit shit hole hole
hole shit hole shit

Now, I strongly suspect that Trump did in fact say “shit hole” re Haiti. He maybe shouldn’t have. But Durbin should not have repeated it as hearsay, and the press should not have repeated it ad nauseam as an excuse to malign the president, as malignable as he may be.

And, for the record, the Libya mission did turn out to be a shit show, and Haiti is indeed a shit hole country.

img_0742But forget for a moment the putative unacceptability of the language of these two presidential pearls. The Libya operation itself reflects badly on Obama . . . and Hillary Clinton. The exact phrasing strikes me as not nearly as interesting.

And is the near facticity of Haiti’s shit hole status really racist?

It seems like a frank (if vulgar) recognition of the dire poverty of the nation. It doesn’t mean Haitians are bad people, but it does indicate that they have not got the knack, as a group, for civilization yet.

But the fact that the Clinton Foundation exploited Haitian tragedy to do good mainly for itself, that does reflect badly on . . . Hillary Clinton!

338A95F6-C260-4AF8-88A3-37079C26C39FWho somehow managed to appear as a key player in both the shit show and the shit hole scandals. And not for saying something naughty and un-nice, but for being incompetent and perhaps even murderous and corrupt.

Great going, Hillary; great going, Democrats.

But let us get down to the bedrock issue: is Trump a “racist”? Well, he does say racist things now and then. This may be — but probably is not — one of them.

How? Well, Trump’s comment was not directed at just Haiti, but also at “El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and African countries in the temporary protected status program,” according to a competent report summary. And that is not just black people, but Latin American browns, too. Note that many, many countries with brown-and-darker skinned inhabitants were not also maligned. No mention of Botswana, Brazil, what-have-you.

img_1569The most reasonable interpretation of Trump’s query is that it pertained to the current and quite idiotic country-of-origin criterion for granting legal immigration status, and that Trump simply does not understand why America would not use an individual criteria set for granting visas and green cards and the like. And the idea that folks from countries in the very worst conditions might provide emigres with more cultural baggage for assimilation is not a crazy notion. Nor necessarily racist.

Though I know, I know: lots of immigrants from around the world, regardless of country of origin, do well here — often better than those natives who have fallen into the welfare state rut.

Of course, objecting to the phrasing of Trump’s query is not entirely unreasonable. It is “beneath the dignity of the office,” sure, but tell that to all the previous White House vulgarians, greatest of which was probably LBJ. Much of this is really about media focus. Once upon a time, journalists and news outlets ignored this kind of thing. Now they revel in it.

Especially when it is the Republicans who prove the loose tongued.

Many complaints against the query are silly, of course, or worse — school-marmy. Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen insisted that “Language like that shouldn’t be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn’t be heard in the White House.”

What a pompous, impertinent Ms. Grundy. What goes on in locker rooms is none of her shit hole business. The entitlement with which some women in power think they can legislate for men’s speech and lives is astounding,

Utah Rep. Mia Love’s lament is a bit more understandable, for her judgment was that Trump’s wording and sentiment were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values.” Though that last bit is a bit much. I have read American history. I know American values. They are not lockstep prudish or high-minded, no matter how hard some folks have tried to make them so.

Besides, might not America have earned a right to some elitism? People want to come here, from all over the world. Reverse migration to Haiti, Nicaragua and other “temporary protected status” countries is not all that common.

Why?

Well, you know the answer.

Of course, it is the sign of magnanimity not to lord one’s superiority over others. Trump is not magnanimous. Surprise surprise.

But his enemies are relentless in their sanctimony. Is it possible to be more loathsomely and hubristically moralistic than the Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke? Maybe had Trump’s statement been less ambiguous, Huppke’s litany of moral challenges to the reader would be easier to take. But as it stands. . . .

Here is the nut of Huppke’s “your response will be remembered” phillipic:

Did you call out the obvious racism behind those statements? Did you acknowledge that the leader of the free world — by title, anyway — had shown himself to be a white supremacist, casually expressing his dislike of brown-skinned immigrants and preference for white European immigrants?

The racism is only “obvious” if all you have is race on the brain. And white supremacist? Come on.

Trump is an American supremacist. That is what is obvious. How racist is he? Probably not much more racist than he is homophobic — which is what leftists were charging him with last year … on no evidence whatsoever.

The tendency to turn one’s enemy into an utter evil monster might best be avoided. And the attempt, running throughout the left’s (and, especially, Democratic partisans’) excoriations, to turn anyone defending the president into a Deplorable? Well, it may make you feel good, but it will probably lead to your cause’s demise. Those called Deplorable will not like it, and may end up rejecting your very standards themselves.

I did not vote for Trump, nor will I if he runs again. But I do hope the Left continues this insane hysteria against Trump and all his supporters. Why?

I want them to lose. They are insufferable fools and Pharisaic posturers.

And Snopes’ pretension to objectivity? Not believable.

twv

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I pity the young.

They’ve been programmed to believe that because some men do bad things, we all do bad things, and that when some of those bad things are sexual abuse of women, that makes us all “misogynists.” And “trash.” But listen:

  • You are not trash for wanting sexual relations with women.
  • You are not trash for being forward about it.
  • You may be, however, if you are disgusting about it. (“Trashy,” at least.)
  • You definitely are if you use force to get what you desire.

The crimes of a few (or even the many) does not imbue you with guilt, ineluctably.

IMG_2026Yes, these thoughts are brought to you by a specific essay that has been brought to my attention: “How, If You’re a Man, To Deal with the Fact that You’re Trash,” by Damon Young.

I pity Young himself.

But I am not going to critique his dreadful confession of intellectual cravenness. I will let you read it and judge for yourself.

I am on a rant here.

The problem of the present age is that the only form of chivalry left is what has been subsumed by feminism, which is chivalry metamorphosed and corrupted.

And the only form of modesty with current cultural cachet appears to be the hyper-faux-puritanism of major media scolds.

img_2320Why does the puritanical mindset so quickly lead to witch (and warlock) hunts?

I pity the young. They have not been taught the skills to recognize b.s. when they encounter it. They do not seem to realize that most messages they receive are not simple but complex, and one need not accept or reject anything wholesale. Pick at the ideas, men. Prescind one notion from another. Discover principles. Take ideas apart, see what the consequences may be, and then slowly start putting them back together.

If you’d do that, then you would see that much of what is dominating Twitter and cable news is trash talk cruelty and bigotry. It is that way not because important issues are being raised, but because important stuff is being wed to triviality.

IMG_2080And let’s get real: if people would consider marriage as the primary outlet for sexual passion, a lot of this would change. A lot of this is the de facto sexual freedom we have, and the unprepared reactions to it by men (and women) of ambition.

I pity the young. They are caught in the rush of history and it is not slowing down even as it reaches the ocean of oblivion.

twv

Brain

Stephen Willeford

On Sunday, Mr. Stephen Willeford, a late middle-aged Christian man with an AR-15 (the rifle most despised by gun control advocates, often called “an assault rifle”) stopped a mass murderer who was systematically executing those remaining alive after his initial horrific barrage of gunfire. Willeford brought a halt to the evil man’s executions just as the shooter was standing above a fearful victim on the floor. How did Willeford do this? By engaging him with gunfire. A pursuit followed, and before the chase was over, the Christian had shot the criminal twice, severely wounding him. Police picked the mass murderer off in the end, but there is no question that the AR-15-wielding citizen saved at least one life . . . and possibly many more.

img_0452He is precisely what many deny exist: a good man with a gun.

Among the many lessons?

  • It is useful to have a high-powered, easy-to-fire semi-automatic rifle at hand and know how to use it.
  • It is useful to have ammo pre-loaded in multiple magazines — our hero might have saved more lives had he possessed three or four magazines in full ready, since, after identifying the sounds he heard as gunfire, he took some time obtaining and loading one of the several magazines he used that day.
  • And yes, this turned out to be precisely one of those situations in which owning a lot of ammo and magazines that hold many rounds each was crucial for justice to be reëstablished.

Also, Willeford was not merely an NRA member, he was also an NRA-certified instructor in firearms use.

It is now well known that existing firearms regulations might have stopped the assailant from acquiring his arsenal, but government agencies failed to do their mandated jobs. “New regulation” does no good if government is (as it often is) incompetent. The killer bought his guns illegally according to current law.

Were it not for the creepy times we live in, I would be amazed to learn that a universal upswelling of praise of and honor to Mr. Willeford failed to develop.

Instead, much of the major media has engaged in really icky innuendo and defensiveness as well as denial of facts and misstatements of common knowledge about firearms.

Also, I have heard no small amount of anti-Christian snark.

Creepy America.

twv

N.B. Steven Crowder’s interview with Willeford, though cringeworthy in some respects, is must-see on this issue.

This synopsis first appeared on my Facebook page the other day. That is indeed where most of my blogging starts these days.

Today, Halloween 2017, marks the beginning of our civilization’s sixth century of Protestantism.

Martin Luther “mailed” his 95 Theses to the Archbishop of Mainz on October 31, 1517 AD. Well, he wrote a letter and enclosed his infamous argumentative document. (Martin Luther was a professor of theology at the time of his authorship of the 95 Theses.) He may also have nailed the Theses to the All Saints’ Church door, and other church doors of Wittenberg, on the same day. Or else a few weeks later.

By doing so, he was actually following a custom.

But what followed was more revolutionary than customary.

The Reformation gave birth to the Counter-Reformation (thereby giving the Renaissance a twist) as well as to civil and ecclesiastical unrest, protracted warfare, communist experimentation, repression, liberation, political realignments, and, eventually, to what we think of as the modern world.

Note that 1517 is almost a generation after the discovery of the Americas by the Spaniards and almost that same amount less than a century after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press.

The modern age is five centuries old.

twv

What’s the difference between classical liberalism, anarchism, and libertarianism?

answered on Quora:

Most of the answers given [on Quora] so far concentrate on the terms liberalism and libertarianism. I discuss these two terms, and the two main varieties of anarchism, too, on a blog post I recently wrote: “Grand Theft L-Word.”

IMG_2863So I will summarize: Classical liberalism is today’s term for 18th and 19th century liberalism. Most scholarly people, and most who all themselves libertarians, understand this. But many people today, perhaps not so well read, think “classical liberalism” is FDR’s ideology. This is an error. But carelessness and ignorance are the leading causes of lexical drift, so maybe that will become an accepted truth some day. But, as of now, the truth is, “liberal” was taken away from individualists by collectivists, and the remnant started using the designator “libertarian.” It, however, had already been taken up by anarchists of a variety of stripes, so things get complicated.

IMG_4661Anarchism is the term for a variety of anti-statist philosophies all of which oppose political governance through The State. But those on the ideological Left think that the reason to oppose the State is because it props up private property and trade, and does so with its laws and institutions. But individualist anarchists opposed the State because they see monopoly political governance as a chief opponent of private property, and a perverter of trade — and they want a rule of law, and think such a thing can emerge without the institutions of defense and adjudication to claim or practice any kind of territorial sovereignty. Individualist anarchists insist that all alliances among individuals and institutions be built on explicit contract, not fake “social contracts” that are nothing more than the result of bluster, duress.

The modern terms for individualist anarchism are “anarcho-capitalism” and (more confusingly) “libertarian anarchism.”

None of these terms are incontestible. It is worth noting that the first coherent exponent of the individualist anarchist position, Gustave de Molinari, a Belgian economist of the French Harmony School, never referred to his system of “competitive government” (see “The Production of Security,” 1849) as anarchistic. He considered himself a liberal, and argued extensively with socialists of all varieties, including those many incoherent advocates of “anarchism.” A better term for the Molinarian proposal was devised late in the century: panarchism. But it has never caught on.

img_4664In the late 19th century, many of the more radical classical liberals had abandoned Liberalism for “individualism.” See the writings of Auberon Herbert (who coined a term for his variant, “voluntaryism”), J. H. Levy, and Wordsworth Donisthorpe. A mere generation later H. L. Mencken used that term to defend a simple market-based republicanism in Men versus the Man. More radical forms of individualism were revived by Albert Jay Nock, Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, and Ayn Rand in the decades after, and at mid-century this group in America took “libertarian” from the anarchists. And then these anarchists manqué reinvented the Molinarian idea, and things got even more confusing.

In the 1960s, a simple newsletter called Innovator had begun its life as Liberal Innovator. Other samizdat journals abounded in this decade, and by 1972, the Libertarian Party had been formed by Ayn Rand fans who had given up on Nixon’s heavily statist Republican administration.

The Libertarian Party has always harbored both so-called anarchists and “minarchists” — advocates of a strictly limited minimal (“nightwatchman”) state — and, increasingly in recent years, hordes of vague “constitutional republicans.”

Amidst this confusion, I sometimes clarify by recalling an 1830s political movement, Loco-Focoism. Since I am agnostic about the ultimate legal and political status of an ideal free society, I often call myself a “LocoFoco agnarchist,” the latter term a droll coinage of an erstwhile colleague of mine, the Reason writer Jesse Walker.

“Neoliberalism,” an ugly term for libertarianism, classical liberalism, or just pro-market conservatism and globalism, is a pejorative often used by Europeans and leftists. I know of no libertarian who can stand the term. The fact that it is used by witless leftists of the Naomi Klein variety helps explain that.

It is worth noting that Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce coined a simpler term for the anti-fascist, anti-statist liberal revival: liberism.

It has not yet caught on. It seems that Croce was not a supporter of laissez-faire, though, so the propriety of appropriating it for modern individualist liberalism is open to question.

And now you should be able to see the rationale for my preferred term for all these terms for private property, rule of law, free trade individualists: “individualist liberalism.”

It hasn’t exactly caught on either.

twv

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