Don’t Know Much About History

Breitbart has a piece up about Steve Cohen, the Democrat who represents Memphis in Congress, claiming that the 6 January Capitol disturbance was as bad as the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I knew Steve Cohen when he was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt. He struck me as a lightweight activist wannabe then, but he’s managed to work his way up the Left’s food chain.

Elections Have Consequences

The election of 1856 put James Buchanan in the White House. He is generally viewed as one of the worst presidents in the nation’s history. Buchanan won the election by carrying every slave state except Maryland while the rest of the country split their votes between Republican John Fremont and Know-Nothing Millard Fillmore. Buchanan understood who elected him.

Buchanan intervened in the Supreme Court to gather majority support of the pro-slavery decision in the Dred Scott case. He supported the Southern attempt to bring Kansas into the Union as a slave state, angering both the Republicans and also many Northern Democrats. Finally, he failed to take action to stop Southern states from seceding during the last months of his administration.

That’s the sort of thing that happens when the Democrats win an election and come to believe that their grasp on the reins of power is so absolute they can act with impunity.

History doesn’t repeat itself in the sense of actual do-overs. Indeed, it does a very poor job of rhyming. But certain themes do reoccur, and one of them in impatient overreach by wannabe elitists.

The next couple of years may be quite ugly.

Quote of the Day

There are strident voices, urging resistance to law in the name of freedom. They are not seeking freedom for themselves, they have it. They are seeking to enslave others. Their works are evil. They know it. They must be resisted. The evil they represent must be overcome by the good others represent. Their ideas, which are wrong, for the most part imported, must be supplanted by ideas which are right. This can be done. The meaning of America is a power which cannot be overcome.

—Calvin Coolidge

LARPing at Leadership

One on the most effective political cartoonists of the middle of the 20th century was Herbert Block who drew under the name of Herblock for the Washington Post. He always gave his caricature of Richard Nixon five o’clock shadow. Herblock clearly despised Nixon, but the day after the 1968 election, he published the cartoon on the left as a way of congratulating Nixon on winning the election. It wasn’t long before the five o’clock shadow reappeared.

Here at Hogewash!, I run every new president’s name through the spell checker for one post.

I’ve seen comments to the effect that Donald Trump was the most divisive president in history or at least in recent history, and that Joe Biden has an opportunity to bring the country back together again. Unity seems to be a big buzzword on the Left these days. I don’t have much hope for such healing.

First, trying to paint Trump as a particularly divisive president is counterfactual. Trump was elected as a response to the divisive politics of the Obama administration much as Nixon was elected in response to the divisive politics of the Johnson administration and Lincoln was elected in response to the divisive politics of the Buchanan administration. BTW, an argument can be made that while Lincoln was among our greatest presidents, he was THE most divisive. His election triggered the Civil War.

But back to 2021.

At least 74,000,000 Americans voted against Joe Biden, and many, perhaps the majority, of them don’t believe that Biden actually won. The Left’s making lists of Trump supporters and talking of reeducation camps isn’t going to help depolarize the country, and it’s up to the new president to show some leadership by engaging respectfully with his political opponents and insisting that his supporters do likewise. I don’t see any indication of such behavior.

Indeed, his initial round of personnel appointments and some of his acts on his first day of the job lead me to believe that he’s the same Joe Biden who has spent almost fifty years as a hack pretending to be a political leader.

Because I want America to be successful, I wish Joe Biden and his administration success in doing well for the country. I wish I had more hope.

That Was The Year That Was: Fits 7, 8, and 9

Some of this year was simply silly, but a lot of it was dangerously stupid.

Fit the Seventh—July: A Trojan Whatever

The Daily Wire has a post up titled Biden Is ‘A Trojan Horse For A Radical Agenda,’ Mike Pence Warns. I believe the Vice President is on the right track, but he may have identified the wrong Trojan critter.

Fit the Eighth—August: Cultural Appropriation

I’d like to suggest that people who find my culture offensive should stop appropriating the things we have created.

I’m an engineer. In my culture we rely on certain facts of nature (as we understand them) being actually true. For example, engineers believe, based on the evidence, that 2+2=4, and we rely on the mathematical principles behind that fact in order to design and build things that people can use.

It’s come to my attention that there’s a bunch of wokies trying to sell the idea that 2+2=4 is not a universal truth but some sort of tool used to oppress minorities. (Note: Engineers are a very tiny minority group within humanity.) While I believe that the wokies are foolishly wrong in their worldview, they have the right to be wrong. However, I also believe that, given their worldview, they are acting immorally (if Morality is connected to Truth) when they appropriate my culture’s concepts and artifacts for their own purposes.

For example, if 2+2 can equal 5, then 12 percent can equal 22 percent. I picked those numbers because, to the extent that most of wokies pay income taxes, they are probably in the under $40k bracket. If they were withheld at the next higher marginal rate of 22 percent instead of the lower rate, they would have no grounds for complaint by their own logic. But most would surely complain.

Also, most, if not all, of the wokies I’ve encountered, seem to have cell phones, and cell phones use microprocessors which rely on the mathematical logic behind the truth of 2+2=4 in order to operate. Is it moral for them to be appropriating that artifact from my culture?

Well, that depends on how “moral” is defined. Morality is a body of standards or principles derived a particular definition of what is Good. If the definition of Good is connected with Truth, then what is moral may be quite different the if the definition is connected with Power. The wokies’ worldview is marxist and rooted in Power. For them, life is as O’Brien explained to Winston Smith: “The object of power is power.” Truth can be arbitrary for them.

IIRC, O’Brien was also a proponent of 2+2 being 5 or 3 or whatever it needed to be.

I don’t think that I would like to live in a world in which most of the power was in the hands of the wokies. Therefore, I propose this strategy—Don’t let the wokie win.

Fit the Ninth—September: Bad Science and Even Worse Theology

The Federalist reports that Nancy Pelosi wants to keep churches closed. When asked to comment on her archbishop’s statement that the state and local governments’ restrictions on worship violate the First Amendment, the Speaker said,

With all due respect to my Archbishop, I think we should follow science on this. And again with faith and science, sometimes they’re countered to each other.

Mrs. Pelosi is wrong in multiple ways in her statement. First, there is less science involved the medical response to the Wuhan virus pandemic than many people imagine. Good medicine, like good engineering, uses scientific knowledge and principles to the extent they are available and applicable to the case at hand, but sometimes a new problem must be dealt with without existing good scientific knowledge available. Guesswork based on experience may or may not give an optimal solution, and some guesses will be wrong. Today’s news about Nashville’s wrongheaded response in closing certain business is just one example of how fallible public health officials, mayors, and governors have been. Continuing to act as if a failed hypothesis is correct in bad science.

Second, while her invocation of science is bad science, her theology is even worse. Without exception, apparent contradictions between what we think we understand from science and theology wind up being caused by a lack of clear understanding of what one or both of them are trying to tell us—or from asking one of them to answer questions about which it has no answers. Science tells us how. Religion tells us why. (See the posts under the Science and the Bible tab in the menu above for more on this point.)

Third, her due respect for the pastoral authority of her Archbishop requires that she submit to his spiritual leadership. If she can not or will not, she has a limited range of options. She can go full Karen and speak with his manager. The Pope would probably take her phone call. (Come to think of it, she might even get support from Pope Francis.) Her other honest choice is to leave the Catholic Church. I expect she will do neither.

The voters of San Francisco are getting what they voted for. Good and hard.

* * * * *

And we aren’t done with 2020 yet.

That Was The Year That Was: Fits 4, 5, and 6

Moving along with the Hogewash! year-in-review theme brings us these—

Fit the Fourth—April: The Day It Finally Bothered Me

Being required to stay at home for the past month has resulted in occasional inconvenience, but hasn’t been truly bothersome. Attending church and other Zoom meetings over the phone had been my biggest annoyance. (Zoom isn’t installed on any of my devices because of security issues. I connect to those meetings with a landline phone.) My son happened to pick up toilet paper, paper towels, and other household staples at Costco a few days before things went nuts, and the stores where we shop have generally restocked well after the initial disruption. Working from home has actually been more productive because I’ve had fewer interruptions and meetings via Microsoft Teams usually have run more efficiently than face-to-face meetings. Doing The Other Podcast from Studio B here at Stately Hoge Manor is easier in some ways and more challenging in others than schlepping gear to an undisclosed location each week.

But yesterday, something about the shutdown finally truly bothered me.

Yesterday was Arbor Day.

My late wife Connie was deeply involved in issues related to natural resources, especially trees. She served as the President of our county’s Forestry Board and was a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council of Forest Sustainability. The photo on the left shows Connie in a hollow sycamore tree. It was taken while she was with a group of Forestry Board people measuring trees to determine the largest of various species in the county.

Connie died on Thanksgiving Day, 2016. On Arbor Day, 2017, a group of friends planted a sycamore tree in her honor in a county park. The Gentle Reader should not be surprised to learn that I go by the park from time to time to see how her tree is doing. Yesterday, was the first Arbor Day that I missed going. The park is closed.

Fit the Fifth—May: I’m So Old …

… I remember when the Left fancied themselves to be the Reality-Based Community, people who adhered to facts.

These days, facts keep interfering with The Narrative.

Fit the Sixth—June:

The Democrats let Joe Biden win their primaries.
Wuhan virus lockdowns.
Defunding the police proposed as a solution for rioting.

Paging Potiphar Breen. Potiphar Breeen to the white courtesy phone, please.

* * * * *

I was obvious by mid year that 2020 was crazy, and it was beginning to look like Breen’s cycles  really were beginning to line up.

I Don’t Believe Her

Kamala Harris has spoken about her family’s multi-generation celebrations of Kwanzaa when she was growing up. She was raised by her mother, a recent immigrant from India. Her grandparents lived in India and Jamaica. I don’t believe her.

Perhaps an old family photo will turn up to prove me wrong.

That Was The Year That Was: Fits 1, 2, and 3

It’s year-in-review time. I couldn’t have made up 2020 if I tried.

Fit the First—January: Sometimes I Feel Like a Bowl of Petunias

There’s a scene in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in which the use of a spaceship’s infinite improbability drive causes two guided missiles to be changed into less threatening objects several miles above the surface of the planet Magrathea. One becomes a whale which asks all sorts of questions about its new situation as it plummets to its death. The other is a bowl of petunias which simply says, “Oh, no, not again.” That’s pretty much my reaction these days when I hear someone claiming to be a victim because he was truthfully quoted. I’ve had to endure multiple LOLsuits alleging defamation because this blog wrote truthfully about certain people.

The latest bit of such whining comes from Don Lemon, Wajahat Ali, and Rick Wilson. They are upset because of a Republican ad which uses a video clip from CNN which shows them expressing their distaste for Trump supporters. Wajahat Ali would have us believe that he is being bullied by being truthfully quoted.

Yeah. Right.

My podcasting partner Stacy McCain has a post up appropriately mocking Lemon, Ali, and Wilson. Go read it.

Fit the Second—February: Math is Hard

Bernie Sanders is proposing a national health care system commonly referred to as Medicare for All. The low-side estimates of the program’s cost are around 3 trillion dollars a year.

Michael Bloomberg’s net worth is estimated to be about 62 billion dollars. If Bernie were to confiscate all of that wealth (and it could be liquidated as cash), he could pay for a week of his proposed program. If he could similarly liquidate the fortunes of the ten richest Americans, he wouldn’t find enough money to run Medicare for three months. And he would have destroyed productive assets that would generate further cash flow to fund the system. Even if he kept the seized assets as an investment portfolio (equivalent to a 100 percent income tax rate), a reasonable long-term rate of return would only provide for a week-and-half of Medicare for all each week.

The other 95 percent of the money required would exceed the government’s current income from taxes, so bringing Medicare for All online while maintaining something near the current level of other government services would require at least doubling the current total amount of federal taxation. If the billionaires have had their assets seized so that they have nothing left to be taxed, who do you think is left to be taxed? Cleaning out the millionaires won’t produce the same windfall as billionaires. If it’s still possible to pay wages at the current level after much of the productive investment in the economy is destroyed, then the average citizen’s share of the federal tax burden would likely rise to above 33 percent of personal income.

And then we’d have to figure out how to pay for the Green Nude Eel.

Fit the Third—March: Generational Differences

Mrs. Hoge and I were both Baby Boomers, but she was seven years younger. Her idea of old time rock was the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Mine was Bill Halley and Elvis, so even within a “generation” there are differences in world experience. I was old enough to be subject to the draft during the Vietnam War. Many younger boomers weren’t. (I served in Vietnam as an officer in the Army Signal Corps.)

I saw this tweet go by, and it reminded me of how the lack of big wars over the past couple of generations as lulled some people into a false sense of security.When one has experienced the fear of running out of ammunition, the prospect of running out of toilet paper is less likely to be viewed as a existential threat.

UPDATE—America’s Newspaper of Record reports that some are responding to The Pandemic properly—

* * * * *

Stay tuned for more.

Quote of the Day

When I was a small boy in Kansas, a friend of mine and I went fishing and as we sat there in the warmth of the summer afternoon on a river bank, we talked about what we wanted to do when we grew up. I told him that I wanted to be a real major league baseball player, a genuine professional like Honus Wagner. My friend said that he’d like to be president of the United States. Neither of us got our wish.

—Dwight D. Eisenhower

Genealogy, Extended Family, and Thanksgiving Gatherings

My parents grew up in a small town in Tennesse.  A few years after they married, one of my father’s cousins (actually, a first cousin once removed) married my mother’s sister. Their children are my first cousins on my mother’s side and second cousins once removed on my father’s.

Are you following me so far?

Both my father’s and my mother’s families arrived in the colonies prior the Revolution.  A few years ago, one of my aunts on my mother’s side decided that she’d like to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. When she went looking for a Revolutionary War ancestor, she found that she (and my mother, of course) were descended from my father’s great-great-great-great-grandfather who had been in the Pennsylvania militia at Valley Forge. My father and my mother were fifth cousins.  That means those first cousins of mine are also fifth cousins twice removed on my mother’s side and fifth cousins once removed on my father’s side.

It also means that I’m my mother’s fifth cousin once removed and my own sixth cousin.

And none of the family has ever lived in West Virginia.

Alas, we are no longer holding the gatherings of four or five generations of the family for a potluck on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. This year’s Thanksgiving dinner will just be for my son and me, not enough people to justify doing a whole turkey on the grill. We’ll have a venison roast prepared using one of the recipes Mrs. Hoge left for us.

I look forward to a larger gathering next year.

Quote of the Day

Præcipium munus annalium reor, ne virtutes sileantur, utque pravis dictis, factisque ex posteritate et infamia metus sit. The principal office of history I take to be this: to prevent virtuous actions from being forgotten, and that evil words and deeds should fear an infamous reputation with posterity.

—Tacitus

Quote of the Day

Early in life I have noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. … I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various ‘party lines’.

—George Orwell