Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School

So the Founders decided to take a gamble. They called it a great experiment.

They would leave “the People” broad liberty, limit the coercive power of the government, and place their trust in self-discipline and the virtue of the American people.

In the words of Madison, “We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves…”

This is really what was meant by “self-government.” It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.

But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings.

Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves – freely obeying the dictates of inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values. And to control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.

Source: Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School

The Battle of Tours

It seemed that Muhammed and his successors did not understand that “Jihad” meant internal struggle over oneself and that “Islam” meant “peace” and the meaning of “submission” was one’s own submission to Allah. They apparently thought “Jihad” meant real war against unbelievers, using real swords and spears, leaving real dead and mutilated bodies in its wake and the “submission” was forcing those not in Islam to submit to it. But what did they know? They only founded the religion or followed in the footsteps of the founder.

Need another Charles Martel to hammer the Moslem nail… hammer it all the way to Mecca.

Source: The Battle of Tours

Soldier of Fortune: John Smith before Jamestown

Mercenary, pirate, Turkish slave…

Most of what we know about Smith’s life before Jamestown comes from his The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captaine John Smith (1630). He provides such a daredevil account of his life that critics have sometimes accused him of exaggerating his exploits. But by comparing Smith’s own account with letters and documents of the time, scholars such as biographer Philip Barbour have confirmed his story and clarified it. It is an amazing story.

Source: Soldier of Fortune: John Smith before Jamestown

The Cost of Bad Intentions

Shriver and like-minded policymakers designed programs far more ambitious than those of the New Deal liberalism that had characterized the Democratic Party since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s election in 1932. Though the New Deal vastly expanded the government safety net, it still recognized a connection between work and upward mobility and viewed government’s role as that of a temporary helper when someone was truly down and out. The officials behind the War on Poverty, by contrast, saw the poor as powerless, crushed by economic and cultural forces that could be overcome only with massive government help. Instead of temporary aid, welfare would now be a right, which the poor were entitled to receive, and benefits became far more generous, so that, by the late 1970s, welfare payments and other government aid now brought in about as much money as low-wage work.

Read the whole thing.

Source: The Cost of Bad Intentions

Navigating to the Moon — Remembering the Apollo Sextant

The Apollo sextant was used in Earth and lunar orbit, as well as while en route between Earth and the Moon. It played different roles in each of those contexts: in orbit around Earth or the Moon, the sextant could be used to compute the spacecraft’s altitude and position; whereas in transit between Earth and the Moon, it could be used to compute the spacecraft’s attitude (orientation), position, and velocity. A proper attitude during the flight to and from the Moon was critical for accurate course corrections and burns to reach the Moon and correctly insert the spacecraft into the desired lunar orbit. The device was used repeatedly throughout the Apollo program across many phases of the missions, up to and including re-entry.

Pretty impressive advanced technology! Also shows how the basics will never be outdated.

Source: Navigating to the Moon — Remembering the Apollo Sextant

History and the High Price of Forgetting

The reason we study history is because certain patterns repeat themselves. And this is where our education system has been failing us so terribly for decades, in part because of “multiculturalism.” Circa 1990, it became fashionable to condemn the teaching of history in our society as too “Eurocentric” and this academic trend, along with a general contempt for “dead white males,” had the effect of demoting the study of the history of our own culture in favor of “inclusive” history about African, Asian and Latin American societies. But this involves a misunderstanding of why we study history at all. The peasant living under a hereditary monarchy, or a goat-herder in a nomadic tribal society, would have no use for the study of history. In a non-democratic polity, it is only the leadership caste which has need to study history, as a guide to statecraft. However, in a republic, where every citizen is eligible to participate in the decision-making process — at the very least, as a voter — the study of history as part of a general education becomes much more important. How are we to participate intelligently in politics if we don’t know history? And the reason we study ancient Greece and Rome, rather than the Mayans or the Chinese or some other culture, isn’t because of racism or “Eurocentrism.” It’s because Greco-Roman civilization produced the earliest models for representative government, and because these civilizations left behind a written record, including such valuable resources as Thucydides.

At the beginning he asks “Have you ever read Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War?” Yes, I have. I also recommend it.

Source: History and the High Price of Forgetting

This Plane Accidentally Flew Around The World

The morning of 6th January 1942 was going to be a cold one. Not that this was unusual for New York, mused the night-shift air controller at LaGuardia’s tower, but it did mean he’d have to wrap up…

* * *

“In the event that you are required to open and read these instructions, you may assume that hostilities have already occurred and that the aircraft under your command represents a strategic military resource which must be protected and secured from falling into enemy hands…”

A three-part series. Fascinating.

Hollywood, why isn’t this a movie?

Source: This Plane Accidentally Flew Around The World – Part One

Source: The Long Way Round: Ice Cold in Auckland – Part Two

Source: The Long Way Round: Getting Home – Part Three

Reparations: The Holy Grail of Identity Politics (Part III) – Bookworm Room

If we are to look to history for the wrong, let us look to history for the culprits as well.  As Deroy Murdock writes in the National Review today, slavery and its associated ills are identifiable with a particular group — Democrats:

. . .  As Black History Month draws to a close, it is vital to remember that slavery spread agony across the South under the watchful eyes of Democrats, such as President Andrew Jackson, from the party’s 1828 launch. It was not until 1860’s election of Republican Abraham Lincoln that the final, decisive push toward abolition began. The GOP-led Union Army crushed the Democrat-led Confederacy in 1865. That’s when Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation came into full force, as Republicans freed the slaves.

The Republicans’ Radical Reconstruction empowered newly liberated blacks. Overriding the presidential vetoes of Democrat Andrew Johnson, congressional Republicans pressured southern states to ratify the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing blacks equal protection under law. . . .

After detailing the many sins of Democrats as regards blacks, Murdock concludes:

. . . if Democrats want reparations to atone for their nearly 200 years of anti-black sins, they should finance them. From Barbra Streisand to George Clooney to Tom Steyer to George Soros, the Democratic 1 percenters should shove their billions into a huge pile and then show us the money.

Source: Reparations: The Holy Grail of Identity Politics (Part III) – Bookworm Room

Reparations: The Holy Grail Of Identity Politics (Part II) – Bookworm Room

Part 2 is a short history of slavery.

It requires incredible historic ignorance to condemn our Founding Fathers for owning slaves in the 18th century.  To the contrary, while by today’s standards we see their ownership of slaves as an atrocity, those are today’s standards and not applicable to other historical periods — unless you are a neomarxist proggie who wants to claim faux victimhood status.  The truth is that it was the colonists alive at our Founding who, for the first time in all of human history, began to battle successfully against the institution of slavery as immoral and incompatible with the Jewish and Christian religions.

“Incredible historic ignorance” is exactly what the Democrat Party and the National Education Association are all about. They’ve been incredibly successful at it too.

Source: Reparations: The Holy Grail Of Identity Politics (Part II) – Bookworm Room

Reparations: The Holy Grail Of Identity Politics (Part I) – Bookworm Room

Bookworm is doing a multi-part series on reparations.

Let us begin with the underlying moral and legal principle that each individual is responsible for his or her actions, and the sins of the father are not visited upon the son. This is a principle that first appears in the Bible…

Quote from Ezekiel 18:20 follows.

Before the Enlightenment, British monarchs often violated this moral and legal principle. These monarchs used Bills of Attainder to extort property and impose “corruption of blood.”…

Our Founders thought these acts so repugnant and immoral that they outlawed them — including imposing penalties for infractions only declared criminal by subsequent law (ex post facto laws) in the body of the Constitution itself, both at federal and state law, and for any crime, including treason.

See Article One, Sections 9 and 10, and Article Three, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution.

Read the whole article.

Source: Reparations: The Holy Grail Of Identity Politics (Part I) – Bookworm Room

Wreck of WWII aircraft carrier USS Hornet discovered in South Pacific

The research vessel Petrel, owned by the estate of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, discovered the Hornet three miles under the ocean surface off the Solomon Islands.

Richard Nowatzki, now 95, was an 18-year-old gunner on the Hornet, and watched via remote camera link as the remote sub discovered his old station at a gun turret.

‘If you go down to my locker, there’s 40 bucks in it, you can have it!’ he told CBS News.

Source: Wreck of WWII aircraft carrier USS Hornet discovered in South Pacific

H/T: Antz-in-Pantz

On This Day: My Favorite Mormon is Born.

John Moses Browning.  Born, January 23, 1855. Best known as a prolific inventor and firearms designer. Born in Ogden Utah, from the age of seven, John followed in his father’s footsteps worki…

In 1887, at the age of 32 he took a two year hiatus from his gun work to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) in Georgia.

Interesting.

Source: On This Day: My Favorite Mormon is Born.

Progressives are engaged in a “de-civilizing process” that will end badly – Bookworm Room

Everything Progressives do is part of a de-civilizing process that will plunge us back into the cruelty and murder that make up humankind’s natural state…

I’m going to interject here something that neither Pinker nor Elias address. Or at least, Pinker, who summarizes Elias (and I haven’t read Elias myself) doesn’t mention raise two issues I think also affected violence in pre-modern times. There were two constants in the pre-modern era: youthfulness and drunkenness. People were young because they didn’t live to see old age. Few people lived past their 40s. Moreover, because urban water was not potable, people in tight medieval quarters drank only beer or wine. In other words, the medieval world was a time in which most people were young and drunk. It was like perpetually living among 18-to-25-year-old junkies.

The world started “civilizing” in earnest when coffee and tea entered Western civilization, because those drinks required boiled water. Nobody understood germ theory, but they did quickly figure out that, if you drank tea or coffee, you were imbibing a non-alcoholic beverage that did not kill. Interestingly, the coffee and tea culture took off with a bang in England which — perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not — was Ground Zero for the “civilizing process.”

Now, back to Pinker’s discussion…

I find the coffee and tea theory interesting. Read the whole post.

Source: Progressives are engaged in a “de-civilizing process” that will end badly – Bookworm Room

Gramscian damage

I identified some of the most important of the Soviet Union’s memetic weapons. Here is that list again:

  • There is no truth, only competing agendas.

  • All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.

  • There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.

  • The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.

  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.

  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)

  • For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.

  • When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.

Sounds ominously familiar…

Source: Gramscian damage