Category Archives: History

Animal’s Daily Past is Prelude News

Before we begin, check out the first in a new series over at Glibertarians!

Now then:  Bob Riel’s Quest for the Presidency: The Storied and Surprising History of Presidential Campaigns in America presents an interesting picture of the history of Presidential elections and what the 2024 contest might look like.  Excerpt:

Among elections of more recent history, that of 1968 is likely the best-known. There was a Hollywood movie about it just last year, concerning the riots at the 1968 Democrat National Convention in Chicago. These protests showed how deeply divided the Democratic Party was over the Vietnam War; though the party nominated Vice President Hubert Humphrey, many Democrats opposed President Lyndon Johnson’s policies on Vietnam. But most readers will not know or remember that both parties saw tumultuous primary seasons that year, that Mitt Romney’s father ran in the Republican primary, or that controversial segregationist George Wallace ran as a third-party candidate, trying to outflank both GOP nominee Richard Nixon and Humphrey on issues such as civil rights and economics. Riel details how Wallace knew that he could not win but understood that if he could garner 10-15 percent of the popular vote nationally, he might deny either candidate a majority in the Electoral College. From there, the race would be decided by the House of Representatives, which could put Wallace in position to play kingmaker, since he would have congressional allies in the Southern state delegations. Wallace won only five states in the end, however, and failed to accomplish his goal.

Riel uses these stories to demonstrate how often political realignments happen through elections, such as the 1860 election that established the Republicans as a major party, or the 1932 election that helped enshrine the idea that the federal government had a duty to help people in need. Sometimes an election’s consequences don’t become apparent until years later. Barry Goldwater lost big in 1964, but 16 years later, Ronald Reagan won decisively on the platform that Goldwater had introduced.

Riel also stresses that the United States is going through a tumultuous political period. He recognizes that presidential elections will continue to be divisive and produce strong emotions on both sides, but the country has held elections through wars, riots, and economic collapse. Past elections can offer useful lessons as we grapple with today’s challenges.

While the article is interesting – and the book is now on my ‘to-read’ list – I’m not sure how predictive an analysis of previous elections, especially presidential elections, will prove to be in 2024.  Why?  Well, I’m a-gonna tell you.

First, we’re dealing with something new here:  A sitting President that is clearly and unarguably impaired, who nevertheless insists he will seek re-election.  There are good odds he’ll be removed from office for one reason or another before 2024, but his replacement will be a cackling imbecile whose approval ratings are about as high as syphilis.

We’re also dealing with an abrasive billionaire who managed to rock the political class back on its heels in 2016 who is likely to try to Grover Cleveland himself into another term.  While his first term was good for the economy, he faced brutal non-stop attacks from the legacy media and agents of the Democratic party (but I repeat myself) and while he promised to “drain the swamp,” the swamp seems to have survived his first four years just fine.

The field may well welcome a wild card in 2024.  In any case, this year’s mid-terms may give something of a preview.

 

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove, Whores and Ale, The Daley Gator and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

Over at PJ Media, Rabbi Michael Barclay had some interesting things to say about current affairs.  Excerpt:

A criminal is wrongfully killed, and “peaceful demonstrations,” which are actually violent riots, break out nationwide. The flag of a radical and violent group is placed next to the national flag on government buildings. Out of fear of being canceled and losing business, individuals and corporations succumb to publicly supporting this violent organization. Mandated behavior is compelled upon threat of arrest by the political elite and leadership. Despite objections from parents, schools begin teaching an alternative “history” and embrace prejudice, anti-Semitism, and sexual permissiveness as part of the school curriculum.

A President overreaches and takes on “emergency powers,” which create an authoritarian regime that demands supportive behavior and calls any criticism “disinformation.” A new agency of the government is created to “fight this disinformation”… an agency that even has access to armed personnel. This new agency is led by a fanatic who is arguably delusional in their own self-perception and fully committed to stopping the dissemination of any information that is not part of the authoritarian narrative. And through it all the media is a willing accomplice, even striking against other media outlets that try to present opposing views.

Sound like a brief recap of the recent past in this country?

The challenge is that this is actually a description of the development of the Nazi regime in Germany almost a century ago.

If this scares you, it should.

It’s been said that history may not always repeat, but it often rhymes.

Of course, there’s a reason that Godwin’s Law is a thing.  And the Left is far, far more prone to falling afoul of this than the Right; after any significant event in the political world, you can almost set your watch by the hysterical screech of “Nazi!” that follows.  But there’s a difference between the late Weimar Republic and our current situation today, and that can be summed up in one word:

Competence.

Say what you will about the Germans in the Nazi Party in the 1930s, but they weren’t stupid.  They knew what they wanted and they were willing to climb over piles of bodies to get there.  Whereas the current political Left in our country right now is about at the Keystone Kops level of ability.  Hell, for that matter, when you’re talking Congress, most of the Right is little better.

Our current political class is much more likely to stumble us into ruin that deliberately direct us there.  But when you consider the likely destination, how much difference does that make?

 

Animal’s Daily 1914 News

Are there parallels between today’s situation in eastern Europe and the Europe of 1914?  History may not always repeat, after all, but it frequently rhymes.  David P. Goldman thinks there are such parallels.  Excerpt:

World War I had no good guys and no winners. France rightly sought the return of the provinces Germany had annexed in 1870. Russia rightly feared that German influence would sever its industrial centers and tax base in the Western parts of it its empire; England feared that Germany would encroach on its overseas empire; Germany feared that Russia’s railroad system would overcome its advantage in mobility and firepower. None of them wanted a war, but each of them decided that it was better to fight in 1914 than fight later at a disadvantage.

Historian Christopher Clark in his 2013 book The Sleepwalkers forever buried the black legend of German aggression in 1914, with proof from Russian archives that the Czar’s mobilization – with French incitement – provoked the outbreak of war. There’s no hero to cheer, no villain to boo in the first tragedy of the 20th century, just mediocre and small-minded politicians unable to step back from the brink.

All of them acted rationally in the pursuit of their vital interests, but at the same stupidly as well as wickedly, and the ensuing world wars undid the achievements of a thousand years of Western civilization. We look back to 1914 in horror, and wonder how the leaders of the West could have been so pig-headed. Nonetheless, we are doing it again today.

That should be an object lesson for today’s Ukraine crisis. Vladimir Putin acted wickedly, and illegally, by invading Ukraine, but also rationally: Russia has an existential interest in keeping NATO away from his border. Russia will no more tolerate American missiles in Kyiv than the United States would tolerate Russian missiles in Cuba.

The United States could have averted a crisis by adhering to the Minsk II framework of local rule for the Russophone provinces of Eastern Ukraine within a sovereign Ukrainian state but chose instead to keep open Ukraine’s option to join NATO. That was rational, but also stupid: It backed Putin into a corner.

I’m not so sure keeping that option open was rational, but I wholeheartedly agree it was stupid.  And I’m not 100% certain NATO is still relevant, although it’s vastly more relevant and useful than the UN at this point.  Frankly, Ukraine isn’t any of our damn business.  Is the Russian invasion a bad thing?  Certainly.  Are there any compelling U.S. interests involved?  Not so that I can see.

Look, Russia is likely due for a scrambling overhaul in any case, and within a generation.  Putin won’t live forever, the Russian GDP is roughly the same as Spain’s, and the Russian people aren’t having babies.  A poor state whose people aren’t reproducing isn’t a recipe for long-term success; at this point it would seem Russia is doomed for the ash-heap of history in time, Putin’s desire to resurrect the Soviet Union aside.  But now we are involved, and without one U.S. soldier involved, we are paying the price – at the gas pump and, with the latest boom in inflation, everywhere else.

Goldman concludes:

In Chinese official media, there is a grim discussion of the parallel between Ukraine and Taiwan. We misjudged Putin, just as he misjudged us. No sanctions or denunciations will hold back the Russian Army. We should not misjudge China. Sometimes an uncomfortable status quo is infinitely preferable to a roll of the dice on peace or war.

Especially when the folks you’re rolling dice with have nuclear warheads on intercontinental launchers.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

I didn’t know this until the other day, but Heels-Up Harris is not the first “Person of Color” to be Vice President. From Wikipedia:

Vice President Charles Curtis.

Charles Curtis (January 25, 1860 – February 8, 1936) was an American attorney and Republican politician from Kansas who served as the 31st vice president of the United States from 1929 to 1933 under Herbert Hoover. He also previously served as the Senate Majority Leader from 1924 to 1929.

A member of the Kaw Nation born in the Kansas Territory, Curtis was the first person with any Native American ancestry and with acknowledged non-European ancestry to reach either of the highest offices in the federal executive branch. He is the highest-ranking enrolled Native American ever to serve in the federal government. He is the most recent Executive Branch officer to have been born in a territory rather than a state or federal district.

Turns out he wasn’t 100% Native, (who is anymore?) although he was 3/8 so than Liawatha Warren:

Born on January 25, 1860, in North Topeka, Kansas Territory, a year before Kansas was admitted as a state, Charles Curtis had 38 Native American ancestry and 58 European American ancestry.  His mother, Ellen Papin (also spelled Pappan), was Kaw, Osage, Potawatomi, and French.  His father, Orren Curtis, was of English, Scots, and Welsh ancestry.  On his mother’s side, Curtis was a descendant of chief White Plume of the Kaw Nation and chief Pawhuska of the Osage.

And he was a Republican.  Use that, True Believers, next time you hear a lefty crowing about Heels-Up being the first “Person of Color” to hold a job once famously described as being with a “bucket of warm spit,” which now that I think on it, may actually make her uniquely qualified, being of little more value than that herself.

And so…

On To the Links!

RACISM!  RACISM!  RHEEEEE

Inflation is costing the average American family an added $375 a month over last year.

Dolly Parton is Magnificent.  She surely is; a great talent and truly, sincerely a good person.  There are still a few around.

Elon Musk let’s Biden)’s handlers) have it again.

$7 a gallon gas, brought to you by the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration.

Funny how this never happens up here in the Susitna Valley.

If I find this horrible, is that kink-shaming?  Probably not – it’s not kink-shaming when the “kink” is literally murder.

Yeah, but I bet it won’t last.

Good luck with that.

No shit, Sherlock.

No shit, Sherlock Part Deux.

I love a happy ending.

If America were invaded, Republicans and independents would stand and fight.  Democrats would run.  Draw your own conclusions.

Is Ukraine really winning?  They seem to be giving it their best shot, but the old soldier in me says they still have an uphill fight.

DeSantis for President, 2024, please please please!

The Dow has been taking a big dump lately.  Hang onto your 401ks, at least until the Imperial City decides to confiscate them in the name of “fairness.”

This Week’s Idiots:

Chuck Todd is an idiot.  And it’s schadenfreudealicious.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s

Stacey Abrams is still claiming to be the Governor-in-Exile of Georgia – and she’s an idiot.

Paul Krugman (Repeat Offender Alert) remains a cheap partisan hack, and an idiot.

Donna Brazile is an economic illiterate, and an idiot.

Some ideas are so stupid, you’d have to be an “intellectual” to believe them.

Salon’s Kathryn Joyce is an idiot.

Vox’s Rebecca Leber is an idiot.

The LA Times’ Michael Hiltzik is an idiot.

Jonah Goldberg is an idiot.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

A while ago I posted a video from Tom Petty, who we lost much too soon.  In that post mentioned his long-term friendship and sometimes partnership with Stevie Nicks.  Their styles and voices went together well, and I’ve long thought it was kind of a shame they didn’t work together more.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers collaborated with Stevie on a number of projects, but my favorite is from Stevie’s first solo album, 1981’s Belladonna.  The song, of course, is the classic Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.

And, without further ado, here it is.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

We’re seeing hints of spring up here in the Great Land, with temps in the upper thirties and forties and quite a bit of melting.  That’s not to say that we won’t see some sub-zero temps yet; this is Alaska, after all, and we can see nighttime lows below zero into April, as we did only last year.  But for now, it’s pretty balmy for early March, and things are pretty drippy.

Still a lot of snow piled up, though.

With spring on the way, Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. are thinking of booking a May halibut/Pacific cod/rockfish charter out of Seward or Valdez.  It’s not cheap, typically running over $300 per person, but that’s a whole day fishing for the delicious flatfish, cod and the rather odd-looking rocks.  There’s nothing like good homemade fish and chips.  Plus a (cold) day out on the water is good for what ails you.

And we had company the other day.

That’s how it is here, at any rate – spring comes to the land and all thoughts turn to fishing.  There are a bunch of wondrous lakes, rivers and streams close by where one can pull up fat trout, delicious salmon and delicate little grayling.  It’s a great place to be outdoors.

And so…

On To the Links!

It’s true:  Democrats are now “the Establishment.”

No shit, Sherlock.

Practice saying “President DeSantis.”

Biden(‘s handlers) have no chance at redemption.  They’ve fallen too far, too fast.

What do you do when the nuclear option is actually the nuclear option?  And Putin has his nuke forces on high alert.

Panache.  And more.

And on that note, the Blessings of Ste. Javelin.

No shit, Sherlock, Part Deux.

Seattle is nearing Third World Shithole status, and this guy has the film.

Trump is back.  Honestly I’d rather see DeSantis run in 2024, but I’ll take another Trump run, just for the lulz.  And honestly, who are the Dems going to run against him?  Biden will be drooling into a sippy-cup by 2024.  Kamala’s approvals ratings (and her IQ) are somewhere between dryer lint and verrucas.  Will Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, First of That Name, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, try for a third failed run?

The red wave is forming in Florida.

You can’t make this shit up.

When you’ve lost George Stephanopoulos…

Should we kill every mosquito on Earth?  Probably not possible, but get back to me in mid-June and I’ll be willing to give it a try.  Our Alaska mosquitoes are so big they show up on air-traffic radar.

Yeah, it’s probably too late.  Besides, by the time the mid-terms roll around, Biden(‘s handlers) will be looking at Jimmy Carter’s record with envy.

Tyrannosaurus rex may have been three species.

Stone Age totty:  The Venus of Willendorf revealed.

Exit question: Are voters as stupid as Democrats think they are?  Well, sure, enough them are.  Look at Congress right now.

This Week’s Idiots:

John “Lurch” Kerry is an idiot.

The Nation’s Elie Mystal (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

Idiot Eric Swalwell couldn’t even manage to kick a Chinese spy out of his bed, but wants to kick Russian students out of the United States.

The Guardian’s Moira Donegan is an idiot.

Paul Krugman (Repeat Offender Alert) remains a cheap partisan hack, and an idiot.

Politico’s John Harris is an idiot.

The American’s Erwin Chemerinsky is an idiot.

I saved the best for last:

Heels-Up Harris (Repeat Offender Alert) continues to prove she’s an idiot.  Best reply:  “Obama picked Biden because Biden was the only Senator dumber than him. Biden picked Harris because….” A heartbeat away, folks.  A heartbeat away.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

Trains figure quite a bit into American folk and country music, more so back in the days when they were still a primary passenger service.  Probably (in my opinion, anyway) the best American train song ever written is Steve Goodman’s City of New Orleans, written in 1971 and recorded most famously by Arlo Guthrie in 1972.

My best friend from school (and still to this day) spent a career as a trainman, later a conductor, on the old Illinois Central.  One of his career goals had been to, one time, serve as conductor on the City of New Orleans, which ran from Chicago to New Orleans.  It’s not well known, and nobody ever wrote a song about it, but that same train, on its return trip, was known as the City of Chicago.

Anyway.  Here, then, is the famous 1972 Arlo Guthrie recording of City of New Orleans, one of Guthrie’s best pieces and probably the best train song ever.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Dog Trade News

My old bird dog, gone 22 years and I still miss her.

Before we get into doggie talk, go check out my latest advice column over at Glibertarians!

The relationship between humans and dogs is unique, and probably well worth an entire post on the topic.  Dogs were almost certainly the first domesticated animal; they are still the only animal that appears to have self-domesticated, as both sides gain from this special relationship.  Dogs truly are Man’s Best Friend, and it seems now that around 2,000 years ago in Scandinavia, they were a valued trade item.  Excerpt:

In a new study, researchers from the University of Copenhagen show that even though ancient Siberian human populations remained genetically isolated for a very long time, their dogs interacted with outside dog populations at least 2,000 years ago, possibly even thousands of years earlier.

“By creating genetic records of the ancient dogs alongside other archeological findings, we were able to see a movement of dogs, potentially as goods that have been traded like a commodity. Possibly because of new human activities, and we believe the dogs could have been used and traded for hunting, herding or sledding. Dogs were vital to the way society was running, so it also tells the story of why they were domesticated in the first place,” explains postdoc at GLOBE Institute Tatiana Feuerborn, lead author the study.

“At the same time, it looks like the human populations were more or less genetically isolated and did not mix with outside populations. We do not see that with dogs, which indicates that dogs were traded rather than moving with people. So there definitely were interactions between populations in these areas of Siberia.”

What’s interesting about this is that the people evidently didn’t intermarry, but did trade one of their most valued assets – dogs.

That’s not all that unusual.  In the years after Commodore Perry forcibly opened up Japan for trade, there was growing commerce between the Land of the Rising Sun and the Western nations, but little if any interbreeding.  There are probably other examples.  Point is, the neat thing here is that, because of the DNA evidence from dogs, we know now that populations we thought had no interactions were actually engaged in trade.

It’s another data point showing that human behavior and human history is frequently more complex than we thought – and, as they have been doing for millennia, it was the dogs that showed us the way.

Rule Five H.L. Mencken Friday

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 basis justifying shame in our government lies in the appropriate role of government:

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:

Law and its instrument, government, are necessary to the peace and safety of all of us, but all of us, unless we live the lives of mud turtles, frequently find them arrayed against us.

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.

All government … is against liberty.

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.

Animal’s Daily Neolithic Partying News

Beer – is there anything it can’t do?

11,000 years ago, in what is now Turkey, a group of Neolithic folks gathered to hunt gazelles, feast, and get trashed on beer.  Excerpt:

Southern Anatolia is at the northern end of the Fertile Crescent, a region in the Middle East invigorated by the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, where hunter-gatherers first settled down to farm. Göbekli Tepe was constructed sometime during this lifestyle transition, perhaps by different groups lured together through innate social desires. Exquisite carvings, decorated pillars, and animal-like figurines first suggested to researchers that this was a temple of some sort, intended for worship. Then, in 2012, archaeologists uncovered six large limestone troughs that could have each held up to 42 gallons of liquid. At the bottom of these structures were faint traces of oxalate, a compound which develops during the mashing and fermentation of cereals. To the researchers, this new evidence suggested that site’s previously modest narrative needed a rewrite.

“At the dawn of the Neolithic, hunter-gatherers congregating at Göbekli Tepe created social and ideological cohesion through the carving of decorated pillars, dancing, feasting—and, almost certainly, the drinking of beer made from fermented wild crops,” they wrote.

Whatever “worship” was going on at Göbekli Tepe, it was lively, to say the least.

Indeed, one wonders if beer goggles were already a thing in those days.

Think on this for a moment.  Human behavior, for the most part, doesn’t seem to change much, even over the span of 11,000 years.  I can easily picture these folks – a gazelle on a spit over the fire, a fired-clay jug of some foamy, alcoholic brew in their hands.  Teach them to speak English and they’d fit right in at any pig roast/kegger held in the Allamakee County hills of my youth.

It’s neat to know that people then, just liked people today, liked to unwind after a hard day with a mug of suds – and occasionally to let loose and get hammered.

Now, when did they get around to whiskey?

Animal’s Daily Historical News

If you’re interested in military history, like I am, you’d do well to check out the works of Dr. Mark Felton. He is a military historian who specializes in the Second World War, and has a knack for finding obscure bits of wartime lore that most folks have never heard of.  Here, for example, is a video (yes, I know, YouTube, but what can you do?) talking about the Dirlewanger Brigade, an SS unit formed of convicts, psychopaths and sociopaths that even most of the SS looked on with some horror:

Most of Dr. Felton’s videos take the same form; an in-depth, detailed presentation of some obscure happening that most people never heard of.  Ever wonder what became of the bodies of Nazi war criminals executed at Nuremberg?  Did you know about the first attempt by the Allies to invade Hitler’s Fortress Europe?  The Japanese copy of the infamous Tiger tank?  The last battle involving the WW2 German Panzer tank – in 1967?  You can find all that and a lot more.

I can’t recommend Dr. Felton’s work enough.  I have not yet started on his lengthy list of non-fiction books, but they’re on my list.  Speaking of which:  His written works include:

  • Yanagi: The Secret Underwater Trade between Germany and Japan 1942–1945 (Pen & Sword: 2005)
  • The Fujita Plan: Japanese Attacks on the United States and Australia during the Second World War (Pen & Sword: 2006)
  • The Coolie Generals: Britain’s Far Eastern Military Leaders in Japanese Captivity (Pen & Sword: 2008)
  • Japan’s Gestapo: Murder, Mayhem & Torture in Wartime Asia (Pen & Sword, 2009)
  • Today is a Good Day to Fight: The Indian Wars and the Conquest of the West (The History Press, 2009)
  • The Real Tenko: Extraordinary True Stories of Women Prisoners of the Japanese (Pen & Sword: 2009)
  • The Final Betrayal: Mountbatten, MacArthur and the Tragedy of Japanese POWs (Pen & Sword: 2010)
  • 21st Century Courage: Stirring Stories of Modern British Heroes (Pen & Sword, 2010)
  • Children of the Camps: Japan’s Last Forgotten Victims (Pen & Sword: 2011)
  • The Last Nazis: The Hunt for Hitler’s Henchmen (Pen & Sword: 2011)
  • The Devil’s Doctors: Japanese Human Experiments on Allied Prisoners-of-War (Pen & Sword: 2012)
  • Never Surrender: Dramatic Escapes from Japanese Prison Camps (Pen & Sword: 2013)
  • China Station: The British Military in the Middle Kingdom 1839–1997 (Pen & Sword: 2013)
  • Guarding Hitler: The Secret World of the Fuhrer (Pen & Sword: 2014)
  • Zero Night: The Untold Story of World War Two’s Most Daring Great Escape (Icon Books: 2014)
  • The Sea Devils: Operation Struggle and the Last Great Raid of World War Two (Icon Books: 2015)
  • Holocaust Heroes: Resistance to Hitler’s Final Solution (Pen & Sword: 2016)
  • Castle of the Eagles: Escape from Mussolini’s Colditz (Icon Books: 2017)
  • Ghost Riders: When US and German Soldiers Fought Together to Save the World’s Most Famous Horses in the Last Desperate Days of World War II, (Da Capo: 2018)
  • Operation Swallow: American Soldiers Remarkable Escape from Berga Concentration Camp (Center Street: 2019)
  • Chapter 8: The Perfect Storm: Japanese Military Brutality in World War II, Routledge History of Genocide, Ed. C. Carmichael & R. Maguire, (Routledge, 2015)

Check out books and videos both.  Dr. Felton has a real gift for uncovering these little bits of military history, and his work rewards the viewer.

Rule Five Failure Of The Law Friday

I found this an interesting read; from the Law & Liberty blog, here is Law On the RangeIt’s an interesting theme, and one that speaks to current events; what do we do when the law fails us?  Excerpts, with my comments, follow.

The western is a deeply American genre, full of themes intimately bound up with American history and Americans’ images of ourselves. It has fallen on hard times in recent years, partly because westerns often center around narratives that are now thought of as politically incorrect. This makes it all the more exciting that the Library of America has published a single-volume collection of four classic westerns: Walter Van Tillburg Clark’s The Ox-Bow Incident (1940), Jack Schaefer’s Shane (1949), Alan Le May’s The Searchers (1954), and Oakley Hall’s Warlock (1958). All were made into films (also terrific), but the novels are more complex and nuanced. They are also a pleasure to read, although the historically accurate renderings of the language of the frontier may soon render them vulnerable to cancellation.

The novels are at least loosely based on real events, although all portray the West as far more violent and less ‘lawful’ than it was. An invaluable source on the history of the West is Terry L. Anderson and P.J. Hill’s The Not So, Wild, Wild West (Stanford 2004). The novels’ focus on atypical events helps provoke us to think about the role of law in a free society. Their settings share the absence of the formal rule of law, and the struggle of communities’ and individuals’ to establish law to protect their lives, families, and property.

It’s important to note that these novels are set in a time when civilization was expanding into a wilderness, and the rule of law had not yet been fully established, requiring the people to take matters into their own hands.  How is this relevant today?  Because arguably, in several of our major cities in particular, the rule of law is collapsing and eventually, if there is to be any order, the citizens may again have to take matters into their own hands.

The law fails in Warlock, Shane, and The Searchers; only in Ox-Bow can we see alternative paths by which the law could have been successfully invoked and only in that book are the representatives of the law portrayed as anything less than failures. In Warlock, the chief authority is the literally insane General Peach, who lives in his own reality obsessed the perhaps mythical Mexican bandit. The country sheriff is a day’s ride away but refuses to do more than appoint a helpless deputy for Warlock, explicitly telling the citizens that the town is too far away for him to concern himself with. The voice of the law is a disreputable “judge,” who has no official status, who is never depicted without his whiskey bottle, and who is sleeping off a bender when the fateful decision to send for Blaisedell is taken and therefore unable to even attempt to stop the Citizens Committee (of which he is a member). In Shane, the homesteaders at first want to wait out the attacks on them by the cattlemen, in hopes that their growing numbers will lead to the establishment of a local sheriff, who will be responsive to the more numerous homesteader-voters rather than to the cattlemen. In The Searchers, the Rangers show no interest in Debbie’s fate or the men Amos and Mart kill when the two are ambushed. They only become involved once the searchers’ activities threaten to stir up trouble with the Comanches.

So, a common theme is that the official representatives of the law are either absent or disinterested.  Sound familiar?  In many of our cities (I’m looking at you, Portland) while the street-level law enforcement is present, they have been hobbled by their political leadership to the point of helplessness.  So, what will happen?

The failure of the rule of law is most dramatic in Warlock. When the army finally comes to Warlock, albeit for the illegitimate purpose of chasing the striking miners out of town to help  the mine owner crush the strike, Blaisedell takes a stand in front of the boarding house (ironically named for the General), protecting some sick miners within. At first, he appears successful in persuading the soldiers surrounding the building to go away. Then the General suddenly assaults Blaisedell, beating him furiously with a stick, marking his face with welts and knocking him to the ground, roaring “I am! I am!” The troops enter the hotel and seize the wanted men. Just as the mine owner’s victory appears complete, the General suddenly receives word that the quasi-mythical Mexican bandit has been sighted. The army charges off, allowing the miners to be escape. The General dies while leading the pursuit, in ambiguous circumstances. The rule of law collapses as a result of his unhinged and unfinished quest.

One could argue that the rule of law is collapsing now, not in small towns still in the process of being carved out of the wilderness, but in American cities, some of which were formerly some of the greatest cities in the world but are now quagmires of crime and corruption.  But it’s not just the collapse of the rule of law; it is also the corruption of the rule of law by those ostensibly charged with maintaining it.

The article concludes:

These four novels serve that purpose well by enabling us to think through how we would act when the formal legal system is absent or fails, as it does in each of these stories. There are dangers in acting too hastily (Ox-Bow) or for the wrong motive (Searchers). Using force to solve a problem risks both the enforcer we turn to (Shane) and the soul of the community (Warlock). None of these books offer easy answers, which is why they are still worth reading more than half a century after they were written. All of them will provoke the reader to think, which is why we should be glad the Library of America has combined them into this excellent edition.

But here’s the bit that’s missing from the analysis:  The cultural values of the people themselves.  A large portion of the trouble in our inner cities have derived from a combination of things:  The failure of the education system to teach people how (not what) to think, a toxic, malignant ‘thug’ culture that has captured too many young people, and an increasing tendency to disregard the established political process in favor of riots and looting.

So what do the regular folks do?

It’s important to note that an organized police force is not necessary to maintain public order.  Here, in the locale of our rural Alaska home, there is no local police force, no sheriff’s office; the nearest badged law enforcement establishment is the Alaska State Police barracks in Wasilla, some thirty-odd miles away.  But robberies and home invasions are unknown here, because of an aspect of the frontier culture that is still Alaska:  One of the best ways I can think of to get shot, probably by an accomplished marksman, is to kick in someone’s door in the middle of the night.  Alaskans are accustomed to looking after themselves, and in general do a pretty fair job of it.

The four novels described all, to some extent or another, describe the failure of the rule of law and the necessity of the citizenry handling injustice, unrest and disorder themselves.

Now, think on that for a moment.  Why does the rule of law exist?  To protect the liberty and property of the citizens.

Is it doing so now?

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