We Don’t Get to Choose Our Ancestors


One thing that Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Mitch McConnell, and I have in common is that we are all the descendants of slaveholders. Of course, slavery in the United States (and Jamaica in Kamala Harris’ case) was outlawed over 150 years ago. None of us ever had any contact with our slaveholding ancestors. IIRC, we’re talking about connections no closer than great-great-parents for Obama, Harris, and McConnell. In my case, the last owner of slaves among my ancestors was my great grandfather who inherited them when he was an infant. They were emancipated when he was three years old, so he never knowingly was a slaveholder in any real sense. He died ten years before I was born.

The four of us disagree about many things, but I’m sure that all of us oppose slavery.

We all have enough to be called to account for in our own lives without the added burden of our ancestors’ sins.

Blogging This Week End …


… may be slightly disjointed. Right now, I’m sipping coffee at an undisclosed location near the Ebenezer Cumberland Presbyterian Church. That church sits on land donated by my great-great-great-grandparents John and Mary Hoge in the 1830’s, and their descendants meet there for a family reunion on the fourth Sunday in May. Today will be spent with my brother, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, … , and their spouses and children.

BTW, I’m now the oldest person born with the name Hoge who attends the reunion.

That’s Not a Bug, It’s a Feature


Joel Kotkin has a piece over at City Journal about the failure of the California high-speed rail project. Reality has finally set in, and the new governor is pulling the plug on the wasteful endeavor which has been emblematic of the state’s elite class’s mismanagement of their fellow citizens’ subjects’ lives.

Some greens and train enthusiasts, such as the deep-blue Los Angeles Times editorial board, have criticized Newsom’s move, and others remain adamant in their support of the plane-to-train trope. But California, which has embarked on its own Green New Deal of sorts, has seen these results:  high energy and housing costs, and the nation’s highest cost-adjusted poverty rate, and a society that increasingly resembles a feudal social order. Attempts to refashion global climate in one state reflects either a peculiarly Californian hubris or a surfeit of revolutionary zeal.

It was the early warning signs of the attempt by rich Progressives who were certain that they knew better to take over California and make it in their own image that led Mrs. Hoge and me to move out of the state in 1990. Being in the upper 5-% of the income spectrum was clearly going to be insufficient to allow for protection from the coming changes. Indeed, it made us prime targets of upper-middle-class “wealth” to be taxed. We joined the first cohort of economic refugees.

California is now becoming a feudal society with rich Progressives and Democrat politicians at the top, a growing class of serfs at the bottom, and a disappearing middle-class. That’s fine for the folks at the top. For now. But it can’t and won’t be stable, and that instability isn’t a bug. It’s a Real World feature resulting from the Laws of Thermodynamics. What can’t go on forever, won’t go on forever.

The Vietnam Service Medal


I received one for my service in Vietnam in 1971-72.

I’m 71 years old and one of the youngest recipients. There are only a few stragglers left who served in that war who aren’t drawing Social Security yet. Other than for service during the two days of Operation Frequent Wind in April, 1975, the last qualifying action for the Vietnam Service Medal took place on 28 January, 1973. It is highly unlikely that anyone who joined the military during or after 1972 would have been legitimately awarded the medal.