Last Sunday was the birthday of Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken, a man whose written words I’ve read, pondered and quoted at length. Here, from Issues & Insights, is a neat tribute to the man and his thoughts. Excerpt:
Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken, the Sage of Baltimore, born Sept. 12, 1880, was a newspaperman, essayist, satirist, social critic and perhaps America’s most outspoken defender of liberty in the first half of the 20th century. Reflecting the difference between what was defensible as consistent with preserving our rights and what government did, a major theme of his writings was that “Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”
On his birthday, it is worth remembering some of the reasons Mencken offered to justify that shame, since, by his standards, our government is even more shameful today than when he wrote.
The ideal government of all reflective men, from Aristotle onward, is one which lets the individual alone – one which barely escapes being no government at all.
Good government is that which delivers the citizen from being done out of his life and property too arbitrarily and violently – one that relieves him sufficiently from the barbaric business of guarding them to enable him to engage in gentler, more dignified, and more agreeable undertakings.
The problem is that our government has exploded in a torrent far beyond those proper bounds:
All government … is against liberty.
Here’s my favorite bit from Mencken:
The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.
The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself … Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable.
I believe in only one thing: liberty; but I do not believe in liberty enough to want to force it upon anyone.
I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
All government is against liberty. Some governments, of course, are wont to move harder against liberty than others; as far as the United States have fallen on the freedom scale, we’re still a long ways from North Korea. But the arc of government always bends in that direction.
In spite of my usual optimism, I’m not sanguine about the future of the American republic. Why? Because I’ve read a lot of history. It is in the nature of government to grow always larger and more intrusive. And, as Mencken points out, all government is against liberty. It’s a ratchet, not a dial, and thus only moves the one way. I’m not saying that a return to traditional American liberty-based government is impossible, but I wouldn’t bet a nickel on it happening.
What’s surprising these days is that it all seems to be happening so quickly. Actions by government – mass lockdowns, imprisonment of political dissenters, corruption of the military, partisan prosecutions by Imperial law enforcement -just seem to be spinning out of control.
Maybe, given honest elections, we could hold the bad things at bay a little longer. But we can’t rely on honest elections any more, either. Meanwhile, we can look back on Mencken’s work, realize once again how prescient he was, and wait for the next shoe to drop.
As you will have no doubt read by now, loony Californey Governor Newsom (read that any way you like) has survived the recall attempt. That shouldn’t come as any surprise. The fix was in, and everybody knew it. Excerpt:
The Democrat machine in California has been successful in defending Governor Gavin Newsom from defeat in Tuesday night’s recall election.
On Monday night, President Joe Biden campaigned for Newsom in Long Beach and made the election a referendum on President Donald Trump. Ahead of the election, Newsom’s administration sent mail-in ballots to every registered voter in the state and used federal Wuhan coronavirus relief money to issue checks to voters.
California pols in that now-securely one-party state will see this as a vindication, and will no doubt double down on the lunacy that has individuals and businesses fleeing the state. “Now, Animal,” you might ask, “since this was a foregone conclusion, why bring it up now, two days after the preordained fact?” Well, because Roger Simon has an interesting piece at the Epoch Times, in which he admits it may be time for the various portions of the U.S., red and blue, to peacefully go their own ways. Excerpt:
Please understand what I have in mind is not a civil war, anything but. Part of my intention is to diminish the violence that’s escalating throughout the nation, dial down the hatred, and certainly to avoid deaths.
It’s a peaceful, gradual, and negotiated separation I wish to explore based on two societies recognizing they have different goals and approaches and deciding to go their separate ways.
In other words, if a serious majority of blue state residents want to be “woke,” teach their children critical race theory, allow them to choose their sex at age eight and so forth, much as I abhor these things, they should have that ability, just as the majority of red state citizens who wish to preserve our constitutional republic for future generations should be able to do that as well.
I’ve mused on this topic before. Here’s the problem, as I see it: The current divide isn’t geographical, the way it was in 1860. It’s cultural, and to a great extent, urban vs. non-urban. Even Alaska, a pretty red state, has its own blue dot – Anchorage – which is fortunately offset by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough which includes Wasilla and Palmer, along with some smaller communities. This is another considerable population center that is deep, deep red.
Bear in mind also that the blue side of the divide would be unlikely in the extreme to agree to any peaceful division. They are, after all, by definition adherents to a political philosophy that wants to reduce, if not eliminate, the autonomy of the individual.
Mr. Simon sees the possibility of a peaceful breakup. I’m not so sure that I do. Not any more.
The equinox is in a few weeks, where the sun hits the halfway point on its long march south. At these latitudes it is quite a journey, and just now the sunset has moved south of the power lines and is giving us some pretty views:
My summertime’s drive for fishing is now being overtaken by my drive to get out in the field after some birds, but I have to wait for full residency, which comes one year after switching my Colorado driver’s license for an Alaska one; specifically, on February second. I understand the reason for that law, but the beautiful fall weather, the big stretch of borough land behind us and the hand-crafted Tolley side-by-side double in my gun safe are egging me on. Next year, dammit!
And with that said…
On To the Links!
Ever wondered what happens when you dangle a rhinoceros upside-down? Well, now you know.
We can hope. Having the GOP in control of Congress will… well, it will slow down the decline of the U.S. some.
Inflation is skyrocketing. Nobody should be surprised by this.
This Week’s Idiots:
New York’s new Governor is apparently an idiot with no clue as to the proper role of government. What is it with that state, anyway?
This Week’s Cultural Edification:
Audrey Hepburn was the epitome of style and grace; she was more beautiful in jeans, sweater and a towel over her hair than many women are in evening gowns, as you’ll see in this week’s selection. And she wasn’t without pluck; during World War 2 she raised money for the Dutch underground during the German occupation of the Netherlands, an activity that may well have gotten her shot had she been caught in the act.
In the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Hepburn played the iconic character Holly Golightly opposite a very young George Peppard, with a brief appearance by the remarkable Buddy Ebsen. It’s a great film featuring a great star, and at one point she gives voice to the song Moon River. Here, in a clip from that film, is that lovely, classy lady and that beautiful song – enjoy.
Now then: Issues & Insights has an interesting take on recent actions by the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration. Excerpt:
When the Babylon Bee posted a story with the headline “Joe Biden Announces Civil War,” it was intended to be parody. But like much the Bee publishes, it’s painfully close to the truth.
“In a stirring address to the country today, Biden has announced a new Civil War,” the Bee “reported” last week. The site’s masters of lampoon then “quoted” the president saying “we’re gonna force millions of people to get vaccinated against their will,” and in order “to enforce this, we’re just gonna have ourselves a little Civil War.”
Biting humor aside, what Biden actually said when he announced last Thursday that his administration is going to require every employer in the country with 100 or more employees to force their workers to be fully vaccinated “or show a negative test at least once a week” was disturbing. He indicated that he’s going to go beyond the autocratic pen-and-phone methods of the previous Democrat in the White House.
“If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my powers as president to get them out of the way,” he said, primarily referring to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who have refused to be bullied by federal pandemic orders.
Later in the day, senior White House adviser Cedric Richmond reiterated the threat, declaring that Biden “will run over” the “governors who stand in the way.” Obviously his handlers, much of his party, and nearly all of the media are in full support of him seizing powers he was never meant to have.
The article later on mentions a bit run by the Babylon Bee, a (fictional) letter from Britain’s King George III praising Biden’s actions. It’s an apt comparison. Biden has more in common with George III than appears at first notice; a quickly declining mental capacity, a thirst for power, and a third- or fourth-rate intellect.
One might argue that Biden, like Trump, is more symptom than cause, and that’s probably accurate. Old Joe himself was, as stated, never more than a third- or fourth-rate intellect even when he was firmly in charge of his faculties, which he now clearly is not. Trump certainly was, but his presidency was largely the result of his uncanny ability to articulate the zeitgeist of the time – that a large proportion of voters were fed up with business as usual in the Imperial City. But where Trump failed was that he badly underestimated the depth and breadth of the Swamp, and largely populated his administration with members of that community. In the end, that was a big part of his 2020 “loss.”
Biden’s handlers are of the Swamp, and seek to expand the Swamp. They seek to codify and expand the 2020 voting shenanigans, to hold much of the population under semi-permanent lockdown, and to vastly increase the power of the Imperial City over our lives.
That, True Believers, is the very definition of tyranny. The next few years will tell the tale.
So, last Saturday was a key anniversary. Twenty years prior, a bunch of Bronze Age savages attacked America as it had never been attacked before. On that day, the New York Fire Department and the New York Police stepped up, and did so heroically, many of them dying trying to save the lives of the innocent. America was, for a time, united.
So what happened?
Now, today, twenty years later, we have a senile, third-rater meat-puppet President who only appears when his dementia meds are briefly moderated enough to make him coherent for a short time, so he can repeat the canned statements that some shadowy figures are “instructing” him to make. We’ve pulled out of the third-world shithole that sponsored the 9-11 terror attacks, and allowed the Bronze Age savages who sponsored the 9-11 terror attacks to waltz back into control. Said withdrawal, of course, being one of the worst cluster-fucks in military history, one which left hundreds of Americans and American allies behind to face the wrath of the Taliban.
The aforementioned meat-puppet President is almost daily announcing egregious violations of the Constitution that would have been unthinkable twenty years ago. He is doing this at the behest of… somebody, because, you know, fuck the separation of powers, fuck Federalism, fuck the Constitution’s restraints on government, and fuck the autonomy of the citizenry. His (handler’s) economic policies and the prolific spending of his socialist allies in Congress have reignited inflation the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades, and are in the attempt of doubling and tripling down with trillions – trillions of dollars of new happy-bag Free Shit giveaways.
Twenty years ago, a bunch of Bronze Age savages attacked America as it had never been attacked before. Their goal was to bring down the nation that was a beacon of freedom and prosperity the likes of which the world had never seen.
Have they won?
There’s an interesting blog out there called Master Resource, which presents free-market solutions on energy issues. Recently, on that site, author Steve Overholt produced a two-part post titled “Can-do Petroleum vs. Can’t-do Renewables.” Today I’ll discuss Part 2 of this work, following up on last week’s examination of Part 1. Excerpts, with my comments, follow:
Part II today discusses the original “natural” things as a substitute for petroleum. Three areas are wood, metals, and bioplastics.
First, let’s examine wood as a substitute for making three-dimensional parts:
- Huge areas of forests will be wiped out to get enough wood to replace plastic. This means thousands of miles of logging roads gouged through the mountains, causing erosion into pristine streams. Alternately, vast land areas will be converted to monoculture tree farms requiring pesticides and fertilizers for fast growth.
- The logs will need to be transported to sawmills on trucks. In contrast, oil and gas are transported by pipelines, which are far more energy efficient than trucks.
- Wood cannot be molded. Slow, energy-intensive milling processes must instead be used.
Consider metals as a substitute in making parts:
- Metal comes from mines. Try opening one of those in the U.S. these days. And recycling cannot yield the vast increase in metals required to replace plastic. Say good-bye to that gorgeous mountain wilderness you love.
- Metals are heavy. Using them instead of carbon fiber, etc. will greatly increase the energy needed by planes and electric cars.
- Most metals must be protected from salts, acids, caustics, and water that synthetics can easily withstand.
- Metal production typically requires much more energy than plastics production.
- Metals are much more difficult to machine, and much more energy is required to mold or form them. Molds for cast metals are often not re-usable. In contrast, molds for plastics are typically re-used thousands of times.
The discussion of wood and metal in this article serve as a kind of a preface; the real meat of the discussion comes in on bioplastics. For example:
Can bioplastics come to the rescue? A recent Netflix documentary entitled Broken examines problems related to fossil-fuel-based plastics. At the end of the program a well-meaning but destructively myopic “expert” advocates for using bioplastic “made from,” he said: “cassava, a tropical root found abundantly in Indonesia.”
Indonesia… as in that country pilloried by the Left for slash-burning rainforests for agriculture and critically endangering orangutans, rhinos, and tigers. Indonesia… the only place in the world where orangutans, rhinos, tigers, and elephants all live in the wild.
Greenpeace has on its website a page entitled: Indonesia Forests; Defending the Paradise Forests from paper and palm oil companies. Greenpeace bemoans the tragic destruction of 74 million acres of Indonesia’s rainforest for wood pulp and palm oil for export to make “things we throw away” such as paper.
Now the Left wants to throw cassava into the mix. Here’s the sad fact about growing cassava to produce bioplastics for the world: It would require 383 million acres of land, wiping out all the remaining rainforest in Indonesia, plus another 124 million acres from some other biodiversity hotspot.
Here’s a real onion on plastics:
Also important to know: As much as 95% of the plastic that is transported by rivers into the ocean comes from ten rivers in Africa and Asia. The most rational way to diminish the “Pacific gyre” of plastic waste would be to target that problem.
Nobody in the American or EU green movements are talking about that. I suppose it would be “racist,” or “colonialist,” or something. Nobody’s talking about China’s speed-run to build coal-fired power plants to feed their growing industries, either. The entire movement isn’t about facts, or costs and benefits; it’s all about control.
The article (and series) concludes:
The drawbacks of petrochemicals and plastics are widely publicized by “news” media, singers, actors, professors, and most anyone else with a megaphone. But the black-sheep facts of the alternatives are quietly herded out of sight, especially by Big Tech censors.
As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.” Sadly, too many people in the Imperial City seem to lack the brains to pound sand (and I emphatically do not exempt the current occupant of the Imperial Mansion from that assessment.) And what’s more, most of them are liars; even if they are aware of facts, they will set them aside in pursuit of an agenda – even if that agenda would set us back a hundred and fifty years in technology, medicine, transportation and quality of life.
President Biden(‘s handlers) weakness, fecklessness and incompetence has implications far beyond Afghanistan and the southern border. Take, for example, the Taiwan Strait. Excerpt:
One of the worst aspects of Biden’s handlers’ thoroughly preventable disaster in Afghanistan is the message that it has sent to the world. Among those who have received that message loud and clear is Communist China. Focus Taiwan reported Sunday that “a total of 19 Chinese military aircraft, including fighter jets, flew into Taiwan’s southwestern air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Sunday, the fourth time this has taken place in September, according to the Ministry of National Defense. The aircraft involved were 10 J-16 multi-role fighters, four H-6 bombers, four SU-30 fighters, and one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, according to a report released by the ministry.”
It’s hard not to see China’s new belligerence toward Taiwan as yet another core element of the Biden legacy: When America projects weakness to the world, malign actors take advantage. Nor is this even anything new; the ChiComs began acting aggressively toward Taiwan just days after Old Joe took office. The Daily Wire reported that “this is not the first time during the Biden administration China has sent a multitude of jets into Taiwan’s air defense zone; on January 24, 15 aircraft were spotted; on 12 April, Taiwan reported 25 jets.”
On June 15, after the G7 issued a statement calling for “peaceful resolution” of issues between Communist China and Taiwan, the People’s Republic made it clear that it understood the significance of this less-than-ringing defense of the freedom of the Republic of China, sending a record 28 aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ.
None of this should come as any surprise; the Communist Chinese have known what Old Joe is made of for quite some time. The Daily Wire noted that back in 2001, then-Senator Joe took to the Washington Post to declare that “as a matter of diplomacy, there is a huge difference between reserving the right to use force and obligating ourselves, a priori, to come to the defense of Taiwan. The president should not cede to Taiwan, much less to China, the ability automatically to draw us into a war across the Taiwan Strait.”
Frankly, if the PRC doesn’t take advantage of the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration’s weakness to do something about Taiwan – well, I won’t be shocked, but I’ll be a little surprised. Taiwan may be a bridge too far, though. I’m skeptical of China’s ability to project power, even across the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese Navy (actually oddly called “the People’s Liberation Army Navy”) is basically a frigate navy, with one old Cold-War era surplus Russian carrier and a new “super” carrier in the building.
Still – the PRC may surprise us. But Taiwan may have a trick or two up their sleeves as well.
Taiwan has been preparing for an eventual confrontation for a couple of generations now. Also, I wouldn’t rule out Japan getting involved, as they are surely savvy enough to know they’d be next on the chopping block if China got increasingly frisky about building some kind of new.
The main point of all this speculation is this: Our western Pacific allies don’t trust us any more. Frankly, they shouldn’t. I wouldn’t be a plugged nickel on the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration having their backs if anything went sideways.
Someone told me a while back that, of all the immortal Douglas DC-3s still in use in the United States, well over half are flying in Alaska. I haven’t taken the time to confirm that but we do see DC-3s regularly passing overhead, sometimes two a day. They’re great for small Alaska airfields: Rugged, rough-field capable, dependable, and able to carry big loads. I expect we’ll see them in use here in the Great Land for some time to come, which is pretty good for a model of aircraft which once carried the Old Man from Lowry Army Airfield, Colorado to Victorville, California, in 1945. He described that trip in an Army C-47 as “being sealed in a tin can full of bolts and shaken,” but then, his sorties in B-25 and B-17 bombers in that time frame were very similar, or so he always told it.
Here’s a neat video of a startup and takeoff of a Swissair DC-3. What a beautiful old bird. It’s great to see them still in use.
On To the Links!
Elder Versus Newsom: Two Radically Different Views of the Soul of America. That’s something of an understatement.
Amazon’s Answer to Delivery Driver Shortage: Recruit Pot Smokers. Note to self: Stop ordering snack foods from Amazon.
Up to 60% of Americans think President Biden(‘s handlers) should resign over the Afghanistan catastrophe. Problem is, he has a great life-insurance policy, namely that nobody in either party wants Heels-Up Harris in the Imperial Mansion.
Why not just ditch the monarchy altogether? Seriously, Brits, it’s way past damn time.
How Has Joe Biden Become So Unpopular? Well, his constant incompetent fucking up may have something to do with it.
Timing Biden’s exit? He may not have much say in it. He likely isn’t coherent enough to have any say in it.
Wait, we don’t call them tornadoes any more? Seriously, is there anyone left on the planet that can’t see that this guy is too far gone to blow his own nose, much less be President?
This Week’s Idiots:
New York Magazine‘s Eric Levitz is an idiot. Seriously, do none of these dimwits ever give a moment’s thought to what happens when the shoe is on the other foot?
This Week’s Cultural Edification:
Mike Nesmith is probably best known for his tenure with The Monkees, but the post-Monkee Nesmith did some… interesting stuff. Among other things, he was one of the pioneers of the themed music video, along with his buddy Frank Zappa and the prescient David Bowie.
In 1981, Nesmith released a video album (on Laserdisc!) called Elephant Parts. It was odd, to say the least, but worth a watch. Here, from that album, is the classic work Cruisin’. Enjoy.