Kaepernick–Right for the wrong reasons

This past week, the sports world has been in an uproar over the refusal of San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick to stand for the national anthem.   Cries of treason and ungratefulness have come from various circles.  Kaepernick for his part stated the following:

“This country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all and that’s just not happening right now.”

The controversy has been dusted up only a few weeks after U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas was criticized for not putting her hand over her heart during the medal ceremony for the All-Around gymnastics title for women at Olympic Games in Rio.  What are we to make over this issue?  Is it right to stand for the anthem and not pay respect for the country?

Kaepernick should have been paying attention for what the American government has done for the many years to our liberties, yet he has been oblivious to the fact that the government has not stood for freedom, justice and liberty for ANYBODY and not just for African-Americans only.   In fact, the liberties that the country has had in the past have been slowly eroding for the past 100 years.  Our interventions during the world wars, the Cold War and the War on Terror have cost us massive amounts of money, an increase of government that dominates all areas of our lives and a general decline of our cultural mores.

Up until just a few years ago, many football games were first opened with prayer and invocations were done by various officials and God was honored.  As you can see about five minutes into this video of the 1966 Gator Bowl, prayer came before the anthem.  With various Supreme Court decisions over the years, prayers at college and high school games have been banned in the name of the First Amendment.  It seems that nationalism is the new religion and that refusal to stand is tantamount to blasphemy.

As far as respect for country, one must ask what is our country.  Is it some mega country covering tens of thousands of square miles or is it our community or our area? When Robert E. Lee fought for his country, it was not the Confederacy, but his home state of Virginia.  When Lee surrendered at Appomattox, it was the beginning of the end for this nation.  We are now an empire that does not stand for liberty of any sort, but for materialism. statism, abortions and a general hubris that has been discussed so well by men like Michael Scheuer, Ralph Raico, Robert Higgs , Joe Sobran and William Grigg.

Andrew Bacevich opened his book “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country,” with an illustration on how the flag had been elevated to god-like status and that the National Anthem is part of the new civic religion.

Kaepernick might be wrong in his motives, but there are many in America that have the feeling that something is terribly wrong with this country.   I Samuel 8 is a perfect illustration on how a people refuse to abide by the standards of God and instead put their trust and faith in a king to rule over the land.  We do not have a God-honoring nation anymore so why the fuss over someone not standing for a national anthem.

 

The New Thirty Years War…and then some

Here is my latest book review.  It is Andrew Bacevich’s new book on the history of the War in the Greater Middle which can be purchased here.

Andrew Bacevich has written a brilliant history in a nutshell of our adventures in the greater Middle East which began in earnest with President Carter’s aiding Afghan rebels against the Soviets in 1980. Since that time we have gone from one intervention to another in ensuring that we have access to oil and project the American dominance over the world as the sole superpower.

Bacevich shows us that the vacillation on the part of our leaders and disrupting the lives of many people in that part of the world in many instances have cost numerous lives there, resulted in the maiming and killing of many of our soldiers and has put a tremendous drain on our government budgets over the last 30 years. Events in Iran, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Somalia and many other countries are discussed with brief yet precise aplomb. Iran-Contra for instance is shown by the author as an instance where we were on both sides which the government did in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The author breaks down the Gulf War in four phases. The aforementioned Gulf War of the 1980s, the conflict in Desert Storm in 1991-1992, the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the recent conflict with ISIS. In essence, this has been the new Thirty Years War and the result has been hundreds of thousands of dead, broken infrastructure, massive division of countries and bitterness from locals. Today, as Bacevich notes, the American people no longer want to hear about incidents in that part of the world, preferring to put such things down the memory hole. Yet, the fight still rages on and will do so for years to come.

Bacevich gives four sound reasons for the war in the greater Middle East being perpetrated with no end in sight. The first reason is that neither party has a strong anti-war or anti-interventionist wing within their parties; this should be a surprise to many. The second is that many candidates prefer to “support the troops” than to question the reasons for the war’s continuation. The third reason, the most sinister in my opinion, is that some sectors of the government and private sector benefit financially from the war’s continuance. The final reason is that American citizens seem not to care and that they wish for deficit spending to cover this campaign and lay the debts on future generations. As the author concludes his book, he states that Americans are in a deep slumber and that they are in for a rude awakening. I couldn’t agree more.

A Giant in Bravery and Courage

This is a review of a book that I just posted on Amazon on the experiences of Witold Pilecki, a Polish army officer who volunteered to go to Auschwitz:

In an era where the word “hero” is bandied about a little too much, one can go back to an era where bravery and heroism was done by people who went above and beyond the call of duty.  In this book, the report of Captain Witold Pilecki on his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp in what is now western Poland is told with stunning clarity and anguish. 

By intentionally involving himself in a roundup by SS officers, he undertook a mission to go inside Auschwitz to see how the camp was being run and to buildup resistance among the Poles who were detained there. Throughout the report, he told of great hardship where “capos” and SS men were extraordinarily cruel to the prisoners where men were put into “commandos” and essentially worked to death (finished off).  Pilecki survived in part by conserving his energy during the ordeal and using his wits to obtain better jobs in the camp that involve lighter labor.

He recorded all of the great horrors of the camp including Soviet prisoners being exterminated all at once with gas and men and women being given phenol injections to procure agonizing deaths.  Others were given too little of the drug and were burned alive in the oven.  Jews were the main targets of these atrocities, but Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs and to a certain extent Catholic priests had a share in this horror.

After being informed that he might be sent to a harsher camp where he might not survive, he planned his escape in April 1943 and accomplished it with a large amount of suspense and drama.  He escaped to the “General government” area east of Krakow where he met men of the Polish Home Army and reported his findings.   The final tragedy was to come several years later at the hands of his own countrymen who embraced the Soviet government and tried him as a spy.  Nonetheless, this story which is contained in this book should be read by all who look for men who were giants.   A brilliant book with a short introduction and informative appendices.

 

The South

I looked forward with great anticipation in traveling with my son to some memorable places in the South, an area rich in culture and history that is fast being forgotten in an era of mass consumerism and living for the moment.  The South is different place.  It is a place where things are slower and the people seem to be more laid back.

My travels took me through the upper deep South with stops in Vicksburg, Tuscaloosa, Chattanooga, Nashville and areas of western Tennessee before coming back home.  It was here that we went to various sites where major Civil War battles took place.  Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Stones River and Shiloh ring in the memory of many down here where even 150 years after the fact, the scars are still present.  The remnants of trenches are still seen at Vicksburg where Union troops dug in for several months of siege before the confederates surrendered the town on July 4, 1863, a date which was the beginning of the end for the Southerners.

Chickamauga and Shiloh were bloody affairs where thousands died in the battles and the massive rows of graves are prominent in those areas as well as Stones River.  It is my firm belief that while the Union was saved, the Republic that we have read in the history books was shattered forever. One need only to watch the inane acceptance speeches of both parties during the past few weeks to see that even the ghosts of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Clay, Calhoun and Webster are fast leaving us.

The South still has the magic of past in it with folks saying “Sir” and Ma’am” to each other, listening to country music on stations such as WSM out of Nashville and folks gobbling up hash browns at Waffle House along the interstate.  The weather was hot and humid, but the sounds and the winds of the night air seem to impress my mind with memories that will last the rest of my lifetime.

Good ole Rocky Top indeed.

Russell Kirk: American Conservative–a review

Here is my review of Russell Kirk: American Conservative that I posted on Amazon: 

In a few short days, I journeyed through the 75 years that Russell Kirk lived on this earth from his humble beginnings in rural Michigan to his final home going at Piety Hill in 1994 by reading this very enjoyable biography by Bradley Birzer, a professor of history at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan.

The strengths are many in this book including the fact that much of the research came through retrieval of the personal correspondence and diaries of Prof. Kirk.  There are also other written letters from people dealing with Kirk and that there was much citing of journals and magazines dating back to the 1950s.

Kirk is shown to be a staunch stoic who bared up to the monotony of being stationed for four years during World War II at the Dugway Proving Grounds 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was here that he saw the expanse of the West and the desolation that was ingrained into his memory for the rest of his life.  It was a world totally different from where he grew up in the forested areas of Michigan.

There is so much more that can be said for the man, but the main points that I took away from this book include the fact that he was his own man who had a unique personality almost to the point of being called an eccentric.  He walked with a sword cane and wore a cape wherever he went.  He also despised modern technology that included the automobile, the radio and most especially the television where he threw a fit when his family watched several programs on the tube and proceeded shortly thereafter to throw the device out of the window.   He felt that technology made people less human and robbed people of imagination and opportunities for introspection.

Kirk was also a man who felt that politics was not the way that men should solve problems.  He departed from this belief in the early 1960s through his support of Goldwater and in the early 1980s when he tried to give advice to Ronald Reagan in terms of promoting conservatism.  By the end of his life, he was very critical of the massive growth of government and especially the military industrial complex and came out vehemently against the Gulf War.

Kirk’s conversion shortly before his marriage in 1964 was another highlight of this book.  The author contended that Kirk’s embracing of the Catholic faith was not instantaneous, but rather developed over the course of many years.  He was in the end a man of faith who had a very Stoic life and instilled that philosophy in his children with the help of his wife Annette.

Also, Kirk was not a man that believed in programs.  No ideology could change the hearts of men, for such things could only do more damage to civilization and mankind.  Kirk strived to return to the “permanent things,” those things that came by tradition and by Faith over the course of centuries.  He was very wary of the novel and the unproven which tended toward radicalism.  Kirk was not a libertarian by any stretch but by the end of his days he sought to form a rare alliance with men like Murray Rothbard who was his bitter enemy back in the 1950s.  Kirk also helped libertarian flavored candidates like Lawrence Reed who now heads the Foundation for Economic Education.

I could go on about the fiction he wrote which was very substantial and the numerous trips he took to Scotland, but suffice to say, you all must read the rest to get an idea on what a great man Russell Kirk was.  We need more giants like him…well not exactly like him or he might come from the grave and give us a knock on the head.

The FBI…in craven color

No, I was not named for Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., the actor who played Inspector Erskine on the Quinn Martin produced TV series The FBI from 1965 to 1973, but I do remember watching the show when I was a kid almost every week where Erskine would get his man at the end of every episode and the safety of America was assured.

Having entered into my mature years and actually reading about the FBI’s unconstitutional formation and its attempts to abuse the liberties of the people, I have grown more skeptical that most law enforcement agencies in Washington actually have the best interests of the American people at heart.   I have read books on how the FBI created fake terror plots to get more money for its agency and how the agency spied on war protesters during the 1960s without warrant and its drive to collect data on every person who might have caused trouble for the federal government no matter how many laws it needed to break.

Yesterday, the FBI reached a new low in terms of double standards where they let Hillary Clinton off the hook for her careless handling of classified e-mails in spite of the fact that such actions have been the basis of prosecutions against people of lower stature as Glenn Greenwald stated so eloquently in his Intercept column yesterday.  So whenever I hear about talk about “equal justice” from these progressive Hillary worshipers, I laugh them to scorn.

When it comes to people like David Koresh or the ranchers in Nevada, the FBI flexes it muscles like a steroid drenched wrestler, but when it comes to people in high places, it cowers like a little scream queen in countless b-movie horror flicks.  There is not much to say other than the FBI is not your friend and it is merely a branch of the warfare-welfare state ready to cater to its overlords while we the common folk are impaled on pikes to ensure Washington remains powerful.

It is time for our own Brexit?

London Calling

In an event that very few thought was possible, the people of Great Britain voted to secede from the European Union yesterday which sent shockwaves across the world.  The vote to Leave not only was prevalent in the rural areas of England, Wales and parts of Northern Ireland, but also in areas of solid leftist support such as Sunderland, Wigan, Leeds, Birmingham and Stockton-on-Tees in the north of England.  Many of these areas have seen massive decline in their industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding that was the backbone of Labor support in the 20th Century.  Many people in those areas saw the current governmental structure as one where prosperity was limited only to the wealthy areas of Central London.

Many in Britain were fed up with the lack of representation in the European Parliament where decisions were being made not by their representatives, but by unelected bureaucrats that made rules and regulations by decree.  Another thought one must consider.  It is impossible to get a sense of what the population wants when you have a government like the EU that makes decisions for almost 500 million people.  With this vote, the people of Britain have a chance to develop a form of representation that is a bit more manageable through their parliament at Westminster.  A British MP represents about 70,000 people as opposed to an MEP in the European Parliament where each member represents an average of 700,000 in Strasbourg.

Nicola Strugeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party stated yesterday that she wants a referendum on secession of Scotland from the whole of Britain in order to rejoin the EU.  To that I say “let them go.”  Self-determination is now the hot item.  Perhaps the contagion might spread to our shores where the voice of the people is slowly being crushed by the dictates of unelected bureaucrats and unelected judges in Washington.  Can a “Texit” be that far into the future?

Kirpatrick Sale is an advocate of small government not only on its size, but also on its land coverage.  He stated: “The virtue of small government is that the mistakes are small as well…If you want to leave a nation you think is corrupt, inefficient, militaristic, oppressive, repressive, but you don’t want to move to Canada or France, what do you do? Well, the way is through secession, where you could stay home and be where you want to be.”  The genie is out of the bottle.  Let liberty reign.

Orlando, the way it used to was

Much has happened in the City of Orlando and all of it has not been good.  Shootings and a child towed under by an alligator has given the city a black eye that has tarnished its image as the City Beautiful.  The city has grown into an entertainment mecca with theme parks and a clubs all over the place.  Such modernity might be the in thing now, but it seems that the city lost a bit of its magic from the good ole days.

When I went to Naval Nuclear Power School in Orlando back in 1982, the city was still a sleepy southern town with a county population of just under 500,000 people.   There was Walt Disney World, but that was pretty much about it as far as theme parks were concerned until the opening of Epcot in October of that year.  Wet n’ Wild was the major water park where you could get in for $10 and the only nightlife in the town was Church Street Station which consisted of a few bars and from what I have read closed its doors almost 20 years ago.  I took the bus a couple of times around Orlando, but the bus service ended around 7:00 p.m. as most people stayed at home to spend their evenings cooking meals and listening to country music on WHOO radio.   Yes, there is so much more to do there now, but the hectic pace of going from one park to another and dancing the night away seems inadequate to filling the void left in the soul of man.

Perhaps it is time for people to set back and reflect on the meaning of culture and taking a break from the hustle and bustle or the rat race.  Yes, the past might be somewhat silly according to this video, but it seems that families played together and stayed together and the pace was slow.  Hopefully, places can once again become communities where people can associate with each without other things crowding out the natural growth of relationships.  As Robert Nisbet said in his book “The Quest for Community” :

Other and more powerful forms of association have existed, but the major moral and psychological influences on the individual’s life have emanated from the family and local community and the church. Within such groups have been engendered the primary types of identification: affection, friendship, prestige, recognition. And within them also have been engendered or intensified the principal incentives of work, love, prayer, and devotion to freedom and order.

The Orlando of the past is gone and we cannot go back.  However, it is not too late to preserve what’s left of the old culture where family, church and community was paramount.  Let’s choose the right future.

The wisdom of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

The stage is now set for the General Election in November with Donald Trump going against Hillary Clinton in the Presidential race.  Once again, many people on both sides of the ideological spectrum are proclaiming this election the most important election in our lifetimes.  This line is bandied about because the office of the President is a very powerful position that decides how the executive agencies are run and what nominees are named to the Supreme Court and the lower courts.  Many are fearful that actions by such a powerful person would lead to the diminution of their liberties.

The question we should ask ourselves is how could just one person have so much power over our lives.  The answer shockingly enough lies within the voting public that elected people in the past that amassed power to themselves.  Among this group of people were many Presidents.  This trend is not new.  Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddhin wrote various books on the dangers of democracy in three books, Liberty or Equality, Menace of the Herd and Leftism.    In them, he excoriates democratic rule which he calls very unstable and leads to tyranny and centralization.  He notes that Revolutionary France was the wellspring of many of the problems that faces people today as the result of government power.  No doubt Kuehnelt-Leddhin would have agreed with Lord Acton that democracy generally monopolizes and concentrates power.    The wealth of quotes from this man are full of wisdom and eye opening.  They include the following:

Even 51 per cent of a nation can establish a totalitarian and dictatorial règime, suppress minorities, and still remain democratic; there is, as we have said, little doubt that the American Congress and the French Chambre have a power over their respective nations which would rouse the envy of a Louis XIV or a George III were they alive today.

Democratism and its allied herd movements, while remaining loyal to the principle of equality and identity, will never hesitate to sacrifice liberty.

Fifty-one percent of a nation can establish a totalitarian regime, suppress minorities and still remain democratic.

Indeed, it seems that the more we vote, the less freedom we have.  We should wake up and call for mass de-centralization of power and abolition of many of the central agencies like the CIA, FBI, ATF, NSA and TSA that have corroded our liberties.   Perhaps the upcoming Brexit vote in Great Britain will give us a ray of hope.