Divisible

There was very little international fanfare as five signatories placed their ink to paper on July 20th, 1917 on the Greek island of Corfu.  The signers, a mixture of Serbian politicians and Croatian nationalists, had pledged their post-war political unity under the banner of the Serbian Karađorđević monarchy.  But this was no “Greater Serbia” as the nationalists who had started the Great War had envisioned.  Rather, the signers saw their new state as a constitutional monarchy that would unite the Slovenian, Serbian and Croatian peoples in a free nation.  “This State will be a guarantee of their national independence and of their general national progress and civilization, and a powerful rampart against the pressure of the Germans”, the Declaration proclaimed.

With the conclusion of the ceremony, the nation of Yugoslavia had been born.  It had been the product of nearly a century of political idealism in the face of ethnic rivalry.  And before the ink even dried, the seeds of another near century of political division and bloodshed in the Balkans had already been planted.

A modest attendance – only five signatures are on the Corfu Declaration, and they represented only around a dozen members of the “Yugoslav Committee” that had pushed for the unification of Croats, Serbs and Slovenes in one nation


From the battle of Kosovo in 1389, which robbed the Serbs of their independence from the Ottoman Empire, to the Balkan Wars of the 1910s that had set the region’s then-modern boundaries, Serbian nationalism had literally defined most of the Balkan’s history.  By the summer of 1917, it had also cost Serbia everything.

The influence of the terrorist group The Black Hand had corrupted sections of the Serbian military and intelligence services and led to the assassination of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  The Black Hand, and their sympathizers, had long dreamed of a “Greater Serbia” that encompassed vast tracts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Ferdinand stood not only as the heir to the hated Habsburg throne, but as a political threat due to Ferdinand’s support of unification of the Slavic people under a third crown alongside the Austrian and Hungarian titles.

The Archduke’s murder had brought death across the globe, but in few places worse than Serbia.  57% of the nation’s male population would be killed or wounded during the conflict and Serbia was now suffering in occupation by the Central Powers.  What remained of the Serbian army sat in Salonika as a small part of a vast listless Allied army.  And what Serbian government still existed did so in exile in Corfu, left with little to do but issue powerless decrees.

Austro-Hungarian propaganda: “Serbia Must Die!”

Prime Minister Nikola Pašić wasn’t interested in pushing around paperwork while awaiting the end of the war.  A formidable politician for 40 years, Pašić had been Serbia’s Prime Minister since 1904 and was viewed as a political opponent of the Serbian “Court Party” of the government that had, in theory, supported the same aims as The Black Hand.  While the historical record conflicts Pašić’s claim to not knowing about the smuggling of The Black Hand terrorists into Bosnia who eventually shot Ferdinand, Pašić’s political history would not place him as a likely ally to the group.  In either case, the cause of “Greater Serbia” had effectively destroyed the country – it was up to men like Pašić to envision it’s rebuilding.

Few could have seen the eventual fate of post-war Europe in the summer of 1917.  For Pašić, a reborn Serbia would need allies against the Ottomans and Austro-Hungarians, and a crumbling Russia, Serbia’s long-time ally, hardly appeared able or willing to perform the role of protector.  If Serbia was going to survive, she would need ethnic allies, which by necessity meant Serbian nationalism had to be checked.  Serbia would offer a nation guided by self-determination for their ethnic neighbors.  The concept wasn’t new – in fact, it went as far back as the French Revolution.

“Serbian National Day” – honoring their 1389 defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Empire


For Croatian intellectuals of the early 19th century, the Balkan ideal was a unification of all southern Slavic peoples, or “Yugoslavism.”  The name itself was a combination of the Serb-Croat word “Yugo” or “southern” and Slavic.  With the French Revolution propelling ideas of self-determination, Croatian politicians and writers fixated on a mythical unification of all southern Slavic people whose ethnic distinction would merge in a Balkan melting pot that would look like, perhaps not surprisingly, a culturally Croatian nation.  As such, the concept of “Yugoslavism” held little appeal to Serbs, Slovenes and Bosnian Muslims.

The unification of Italy would re-ignite the fire of “Yugoslavism” in the late 1870s.  For Serbia, Yugoslavia might represent a similar grand unification and allow Belgrade to play the role of the Kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont as providing the political and military heft to a new empire.  For the first time, Serbs and Croats spoke of “Yugoslavism” as political goal, albeit with vastly different interpretations of who would be the dominant political and cultural force in such a joint nation.  Coupled with the example of the alliances of the First Balkan War against the Ottoman Empire, the hazy 19th century dream of a single Slavic state appeared as a potential reality in the 20th century.

In a cruel irony, the war that would unite the Croats and Serbs had been launched by a Yugoslav, not Serbian, nationalist.  “I am a Yugoslav nationalist, aiming for the unification of all Yugoslavs,” said Gavrilo Princip at his trial.  “I do not care what form of state, but it must be free from Austria.”  That defining principle would be shared by the signers in Corfu.

From the early, heady days of the war – Serbia held out against Austria-Hungary far longer than most anticipated, but at tremendous cost


Nikola Pašić would have an additional motivation to find Croatian allies before the end of the war – the territorial promises made to Italy.

The 1915 Treaty of London that had brought Italy into the Great War had contained what Britain and France likely considered colonial scraps.  However, the Treaty also granted Italy large chunks of the coastal region of Dalmatia, which was currently under Austro-Hungarian rule.  Beyond the fact that Dalmatia was culturally Croatian, if Italy controlled the region, it would again relegate any future Serbia as landlocked.  Belgrade wasn’t about to trade a hostile Austro-Hungarian neighbor for a hostile Italian one.  Serbia could hardly make a claim on Dalmatia, but Croatian nationalists could.

Ante Trumbić would become the Croatian face of the new Yugoslav nation.  A former Austro-Hungarian mayor, Trumbić had been exiled due to his support for a Croatian-Slovenian Yugoslavia, even starting a “Yugoslav Committee” with the sole purpose of lobbying the Allies for support.  Trumbić needed an influencial ally; Pašić needed a moderate Croat he could sell to Serbian nationalists.  Together, they created most of the foundation of the Yugoslavian State.

Ante Trumbić

The Corfu Declaration embodied, on paper, the best principles that the Western Allies claimed to be fighting for: guaranteed universal male suffrage, territorial indivisibility, religious freedom, and full legal equality for the three national denominations.  The details of the new state were vague, but considering the territory that they hoped to govern was still ruled by their Central Powers opponents (and promised to one of their nominal allies), the Declaration was more a statement of intent than definitive plan.  The marker had now been set – the Allies stood for the independence of ethnic states ranging from Eastern Europe to the Middle East.  In a brief two years, the goals of London and Paris had shifted from dividing colonial territory to a redrawing of the map of the world into smaller and smaller states.


The unity of the Corfu Declaration would not even survive to the actual founding of the Yugoslav State.

Pašić would soon tell Trumbić that calling the new nation “Yugoslavia” was good for domestic consumption, but that in international affairs “Serbia” ought to represent all three ethnic groups.  It soon became clear that the proposed Constituent Assembly that would rule Yugoslavia would be tilted in favor of Serbian control and would have little veto power against the Serbian monarchy.  Despite being given the post of the first Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia (Pašić would be the first Prime Minister), Trumbić voted against the 1921 Yugoslavian Constitution, decrying the document’s enshrinement of Serbian hegemony.

Division Multiples – more and more ethnic groups now sought nations of their own

By the 1930s, Trumbić was out of power in Yugoslavia and could only offer his emotional support as King Alexander embraced a royal dictatorship that formally renamed the nation as “Yugoslavia” and stripped numerous Serbs from power, at last balancing out the power structure Trumbić and other Croats thought they had agreed upon in 1917.  It would be a preview of the post World War II era of the nation as only dictatorial power could seemingly prevent one group from dominating the others.

In his last media interviews Trumbić expressed regret he ever signed the Corfu Declaration, claiming he wished the Austro-Hungarian Empire had never disappeared.

Kavanaugh Bingo

As the left rapidly screams itself into an aneurysm over the choice of Judge Kavanaugh, It’s time to break out that all of Northern Alliance tradition; SCOTUS bingo!

If you don’t have “blackout” by 10 AM, you’re probably not watching, reading or surfing anything…

UPDATE: Will need a ruling on this – does it count towards Jusge Kavanaugh’s card if his attacker, well, skipped something…?

It’s going to be an interesting summer, and the classic Hindi sense of the term.

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Democrats insist the policy of separating children from adults is inhumane.  I’d like to hear a better policy, one that addresses this situation:

Adult man and little girl are apprehended in Texas walking North, away from the border with Mexico, along with 20 other people.  They have no documents aside from a Xerox copy of Refugee Instructions distributed by an open borders advocacy group, printed in Spanish.

The Border Patrol asks the man for his passport and visa to prove he has legal permission to enter the country.  He says they were stolen.  He claims the girl is his child and they are refugees seeking asylum from persecution in his home country.

The Border Patrol asks the girl “Is this man your Papa?” to which she replies “No, I want my Mama, I want to go home.”

When confronted with the child’s statement, the man says the child’s father was killed by the narco-terrorists who have taken over his village, he is technically the child’s step-father, the child’s mother was travelling with them but was separated from the group when they ran from the Border Patrol, and he is attempting to reach Chicago, where a cousin resides.  He’s hoping to be reunited with his wife there.

He also says he’s read the paper from the advocacy group, knows his rights, demands a lawyer, and insists on being released with the child plus provided transportation and food vouchers according to the policies set by the Obama administration.

You are aware of this news article from 2010, and Border Patrol agency reports documenting the problem is on-going.

You are setting policy.  What should the Border Patrol do with the man and the child for the next few hours?  The next few days?  Long term?

Joe Doakes

Your overthinking it, Joe.

It’s all – every bit of it – about eliciting an emotional response from the ignorant.

Who are the Democrat voting base.

A Cold Caracas

Where San Francisco has gone – a hideously expensive city with plummeting quality of life – New York will soon follow:

Beautiful, hilly San Francisco has become known as the city where 20 pounds of poop were dumped on a sidewalk last week in a clear bag and remained there for hours. As The Post noted, “human waste-related complaints in San Francisco have skyrocketed 400 percent from 2008 to 2018,” and “In 2017 alone, more than 21,000 reports were received.”

What happened in San Francisco is obvious. It stopped prosecuting quality-of-life offenses and, unsurprisingly, the quality of life for the city’s residents and visitors decreased sharply.

In 2015, San Francisco courts stopped enforcing bench warrants for such offenses. Police continued writing up tickets for public drunkenness or sleeping in parks, but when the accused failed to show up to their court appearance a judge simply dismissed the outstanding warrant.

New York started following San Francisco’s lead in 2016 when Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. announced his office would no longer be prosecuting offenses such as public urination. Both cities have accepted that they’ll continue to have a large number of people living on their streets and inevitably using their sidewalks as a toilet.

Progressivism is all about leveling the world out (outside the parts where the kommissars life, anyway); logically, eventually, “leveled out” has to include “…to the level of public rest room”.

Although as Ed Driscoll notes, at least some people are getting their wish:

But as Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal warned in 2005, hipsters lamented the loss of the gritty Death Wish/Panic in Needle Park-era Manhattan of the 1970s — and thanks to Mayor de Blasio, they’re getting that city back once again. Good and hard, as Mencken would say.

And since Minneapolis is following the same route – obsessing over virtue-signaling while ignoring quality of life issues – how long until Minneapolis follows suit?

Edge Of Our Seats

On the one hand, few stories have cranked my claustrophobia to 11 quite like the story of the Thai boys trapped in a cave for…

…gulp…

…two weeks.

But as this is written, the staggeringly tricky rescue is finally underway:

Senior officials told Reuters and AFP that six boys had been rescued, but this could not be confirmed.

Rescuers will now need another 10 to 12 hours to get ready for the next stage of the remarkable operation, Narongsak said..

The plan is to take the rest of the group out in batches of four within two days according to the Journal.

All of the rescued were examined and found to be in good health, according to local outlet The Nation.

The governor confirmed this, saying the health of the four boys is “perfect.”

Another local outlet, Kahosod English, said one of the rescued soccer players was being “closely monitored.”

The Thai Navy Seals posted on their Facebook page that four of the boys had been rescued.

Am I the only one who thinks “well, this is the 21st century” on learning the Thai SEALS have a website?

And of course, in a world that venerates vacuous celebrity, it’s elevating to know that the world still has some real heroes 

Sgt. Major Saman Gunan wasn’t abiding by any orders when he joined the effort to rescue a boys soccer team trapped in a cave in northern Thailand. The 38-year-old retired Thai Navy SEAL did so by choice.

Gunan, who was working as a volunteer, passed out underwater during an overnight mission placing extra air tanks inside the cave, along the route divers use to reach the cavern where the 12 boys and their coach remain stranded and the oxygen in the air is depleting. He couldn’t be revived and was confirmed dead early Friday morning, according to Thai officials.

Hopefully this story will be over, with a happy ending, today.

 

Demographics

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Residents are fleeing these cities.  USA Today says it’s people retiring and moving South, a trend that began decades ago, was interrupted by the Crash and now is resuming.

Really? Why are Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama on the list?  Why are Jacksonville and Fayetteville, North Carolina on the list?  Why is Sierra Vista-Douglas, Arizona on the list – that’s a stone’s throw from the border with Mexico, state income tax is 5%, ought to be a retiree paradise.  Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas?  Brownsville is farther south than Arizona and therefore warmer and Texas has no income tax.  Why would sun-seekers be leaving those areas?  They should be flocking there.

Notice which cities people are not fleeing but instead are the fastest-growing?  Boise, Idaho is #1 and Seattle, Washington is #2, ahead of Texas and Florida.  Portland, Oregon is #17, Colorado Springs is 18, Salt Lake City is 24.  These are not snowbird destinations.  Why are they growing?

The climate explanation doesn’t make sense.  Try this one instead:  the cities people flee are decaying because leftists in charge have destroyed them by pandering to residents who lack the old-fashioned values that were required to take care of a community.  Refugees.  Illegals.  Homeless.  Welfare mindset regardless of welfare status – people who expect everything provided for free without lifting a finger.

When your city intentionally sets out to replace the 1950’s nuclear family post-war community with an Obama-era refugee/illegal/welfare community, don’t act all surprised when the 1950’s people move out.  Nobody wants to move from safe, clean Roseville to narco-terrorist infested Brownsville or poop-on-the-streets San Francisco, regardless of the year-round climate.

Joe Doakes

If we just give sclerotic big-city liberal adminstrations enough time, it’ll all work out…

What More, In The Name Of NARN?

Join me from 1-3PM today on the NARN!

Today on the show:

  • Pride (In The Name Of Politics)
  • Heads, We Find My Common Ground; Tails, We Don’t Use Yours.
  • Moral Arcs

Don’t forget – King Banaian is on from 9-11AM on AM1440, and Brad Carlson is  on “The Closer” edition of the NARN Sundays from 2-3PM.

So tune in the Northern Alliance! You have so many options:

Join us!

“Common Ground”

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is eating a plate of galbi and kimchi at Mirror of Korea on Snelling Avenue.  Lost in a gustatory reverie, he fails to notice Avery LIBRELLE has entered the restaurant.  

LIBRELLE:  Merg!

BERG:  (Shaken from his bliss) Oh, hey, Avery.

LIBRELLE:  It’s time for us to find common ground on commonsense gun violence legislation.

BERG:  Well, that’s great.  So what do you propose for that “common ground”?’

LIBRELLE:  Our common ground should include background checks, bringing back Obama’s law preventing the mentally ill from easy access to guns, bans on certain types of guns, online restrictions, stop exploiting the Second Amendment.

BERG:  Huh.

LIBRELLE:  Yes, these would be hard to do but we have to start somewhere.

BERG:  OK.  Well, one of the important exercises of finding common ground is defining the ground we do not have in common.  OK. Let’s go through this one at a time.

Background checks – we already have them. If you’re talking about “universal background checks“, they have two huge problems; people to get guns illegally today, will still get them exactly the same way when they are “universal“. And there is no way for “Universal” background checks to work without a national registry of who has actually taken background checks, and for which firearms. If you want to ask for a registry, say it in is many words – and watch for the consequences.

I’m not sure which Obama era law you’re talking about; there are already laws against violently mentally ill people getting guns.   It’s already supposed to be reported in some form to the NICS database.  But the reporting is extremely uneven, as are the standards for who is considered “violently mentally ill”. Also, many state level laws have no due process; a malicious denunciation can and does deprive people of their rights. In what other area do people find that acceptable?

Banning certain types of guns – well, then you are anti-gun. “Assault weapon” bans had absolutely zero effect on crime from 1994 to2004; they are used in far less than 1% of all firearm homicides nationwide. It’s security theater and no more.

Not sure what you mean by “exploiting the Second Amendment“; it sounds like another way of saying “stop standing up for your rights”.   I’d love a clarification.

Finally – you say “We have to start somewhere” – and we have! Were you aware that firearm homicides are down 50% in the last 20 years? That firearm homicides at schools are down 75%?   And that’s almost entirely due to policies the NRA and us law abiding shooters have pressed for.

This is why when people ask for “commonsense gun laws“, I asked if they get into specific policies immediately. None of the ones that people on the left are calling for will do a bit of good. Ever.

LIBRELLE:  Typical conservative.    I give you some common ground, and you don’t accept it.

BERG:  “Common ground” can’t be dictated!   But I’ll do my bit, here:  how about  we start with getting the Department of Justice to take straw buyers seriously, and start intervening with at risk youth before they join gangs, and maybe come up with a “Red Flag” law that doesn’t trample due process?

LIBRELLE:  But what do any of those have to do with school shootings?

BERG:  School shootings are a tiny fraction of the homicides in this country, compared to gang violence and…

LIBRELLE:  I don’t care about any of that.   And you’re being a typical conservative.  I’ve told you what our common ground will be…

BERG:  You’re not “seeking common ground”; you’re trying to…

(But LIBRELLE’s attention has wandered already)

WAITRESS:  Hey, si…er, ma’… (Looks at BERG, at a loss.  BERG shrugs.  WAITRESS continues) Would you like to have a seat?

LIBRELLE:   Is your kimchi non-GMO?

(And SCENE)

PS:  Every single one of Avery’s words is a very close paraphrase of something I’ve heard from liberals on social media or in person in the past week.

The Headline…

…that is being reported is “A Record Percentage Are Proud To Be American”.   That’s the headline that you’re seeing everywhere.

Buried deep in the story:

Currently, 32% of Democrats — down from 43% in 2017 and 56% in 2013 — are extremely proud. The decline preceded the election of Donald Trump but has accelerated in the past year.

Less than half of independents, 42%, are also extremely proud. That is down slightly from 48% a year ago, and 50% in 2013.

As has typically been the case, Republicans are more inclined to say they are extremely proud to be Americans than are Democrats and independents. Seventy-four percent of Republicans are extremely proud, which is numerically the highest over the last five years.

The actual title of the piece should have been “Democrats Continue Pouting About The 2016 Election”.

Common Sense Gun Laws!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Gun control advocates insist that if we could have all firearms registered, and government permits for every transfer, then crime would be non-existent.  Everyone would register their firearms, non-registered firearms would be confiscated, no guns on the street means no crime.  Easy.

In the entire country of Mexico, there are only 3,153 firearms.  That’s the total number registered for private individuals to legally own.  I suspect that number does explain the violent crime rate in Mexico.  But not the way gun controllers believe it does.

Joe doakes

And every decade or so, some of them figure it out, and move on to greener political pastures, to be replaced by a new generation that thinks they’ve discovered the holy grail with “common sense gun laws”.

The Moral Arc

There’s a quote attributed to Martin Luther King that President Obama liked to use a lot – “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. It’s an inspiring saying
 
It’s also a platitude with no historical basis.
 
Kevin Williamson paraphrased it and made it much more accurate: “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward tyranny and oppression”.
 
I like to think about that on July 4; of all the people who have ever lived in human societies in the past 20,000 years, the vast majority, before and after July 4 1776 lived under one form of strongman, chieftain, divine-right monarch or capo or another (at least, those who weren’t living in hunter-gatherer tribes – who lived a life that was “nasty, brutish and short” under the even more merciless tyranny of nature).
 
The idea that humans could live under anything *other* than those circumstances had scarcely occurred before the Declaration of Independence; the idea that human rights were something one was born with, rather than endowed by a benevolent monarch, was vastly more revolutionary and threatening to the status quo than the beat-up little army that faced off against the British was.
 
And it still is. Most of Europe’s “democracies” *still* believe that rights are granted by the community, not one’s creator. Which means that when (not if) a government goes off the rails, those rights follow suit.
 
Today we – those of us who are paying attention – celebrate an idea that most Americans can’t possibly comprehend: the very fact that a free society (albeit one overrun with an authoritarian bureaucracy and an arrogant, entitled political class) exists at all, even in deeply imperfect (aka “human”) form, defies not only history, but human nature itself. In the history of humanity, it’s as rare as a blue tulip.
 
What Nietzsche called the “Will to Power” – the ascendance of those with the desire to be in control not only of themselves but those around them – has driven most of human history. The fact that our society has managed to tame that impulse – or at least channel into a form that doesn’t end with endless wars, beheadings, forced famines and reprisals, is nothing short of miraculous…
 
…and about as fragile as that blue tulip, if we’re not careful.
 
Which is why we need to demand more of our media (who’ve become largely impotent, cowardly tools of the establishment in recent years), and government (whose bureaucracy more and more serves its own future), and most of all ourselves; to not let Facebook shut us up, not let the modern day brownshirts disarm us, not let bureaucrats with the Will to Power sap our right to privacy, to demand that people who want to come to America actually believe in what America *means*, not just what it gives.
 
The moral arc of history is not your friend. The job of bending it back never ends.
 

Cultural Genocide!

Donald Truimp proposes to separate children of legal immigrants from their parents for 25 hours a week for instruction in American values – including traditions like Christmas, Easter, and of course fluency in English.    Spokespeople for the proposal say that if immigrants won’t willingly  assimilate to American life, they – or at least their next generation – should be forced to assimilate.

The proposal would also hike sentences for crimes committed in immigrant neighborhoods, and impose potential prison terms on parents who send their kids on extended trips back to the home culture for de-assimilation.

The left is rolling out its big guns against this latest Trump atrocity.

Continue reading

When All You Have Is A Hammer…

Every so often on social media there will be a flurry of Memes claiming Congress is on the very brink of adopting one owner is United Nations resolution on firearms or another as the law of the land.

On the one hand, it’s never true, as such – at the moment, our Congress, like the Minnesota state legislature, is very lopsidedy controlled by proponents of the Second Amendment.

Which is not to say the United Nations isn’t up to some of their usual bureaucratic, impotent mischief.

Ted Bromund at Forbes attended an event at the UN with her name only and, well, UN bureaucrat could love: the Third U.N. Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. It is referred to throughout the article as RevCon Three of the PoA.

The whole article is worth reading, and I hope you do.

Because there’s always something to learn, especially for me – because while the flurry of photo Memes claiming the UN is on the brink of banning guns in the knighted states are always wrong, it’s not for lack of trying on the part of, well, the UN and American gun grabbers:

On Thursday, 17 nations, including Mexico, proposed including civilian possession in the PoA. Last Friday, we had a visit from Wear Orange, of Everytown for Gun Safety, financed by Michael Bloomberg. They clearly see the PoA as relevant to domestic gun control. The best illustration of why came on Wednesday, when in a side event on domestic gun control laws an Australian representative stated that “every gun shop that disappeared was a point from which guns could no longer be diverted.” In other words, according to the gun controllers, the way to control the illicit arms trade is to make sure there are no legal places to buy guns, which will ensure that no legal guns exist to become illegal. The Australian representative went on to point out that the most important source of crime guns in Australia is thefts from legal gun owners. That sums up their point of view nicely: legal gun owners should be deprived of their right to buy a gun so that, when a thief invades their house, they will not have a gun that can be stolen. Also, they will be defenseless. The problem, by this way of thinking, is not the thief: it is the law-abiding gun owner, who should be punished accordingly.

In other words – well just about everything you read on social media is false, that doesn’t mean it’s not necessarily true.

I’ll have to work on that sends to help it make more sense.

Nothing Is Written

Apart from it’s mountainous view, the concrete blockhouse atop Abu el Lasan was an otherwise forgotten roadmark within the Arabian desert on July 2nd, 1917.  Situated between the small town of Ma’an and the port of Aqaba on the Red Sea, the blockhouse was home to a Turkish battalion, recently arrived to drive out the handful of Arab rebels.  The size of the Turkish force was likely unnecessary given that the few Arabs scattered with the battalion’s arrival, but since the rise of the so-called “Arab Revolt” the previous summer, more and more Turkish regulars had been dispatched to try and re-occupy the lands of the Hejaz.

As the Turkish battalion made camp, the surrounding hills of Abu el Lasan revealed their own occupants – hundreds of rebels from the northern Howeitat tribe of Bedouin Arabs.  Led into battle by their Sheikh, Auda ibu Tayi, the tribesmen overwhelmed the Turks, slaughtering 300 of their number – the majority while trying to surrender.  For the loss of only 2 men and a handful of wounded, the path to Aqaba had been cleared.  Four days later, as British warships pounded the port city and Ibu Tayi’s men marched against scant Ottoman resistance, Aqaba fell.  The last Turkish port on the Red Sea was in the hands of the Entente – and had been delivered by Arab forces acting largely independently of their British allies.

News of the operation would capture the attention of the world due to the promotional skills of it’s brainchild – British Military Intelligence officer and adviser to the Hashemite Army of the Arab Revolt, T.E. Lawrence.  Lawrence had almost not survived the battle at Abu el Lasan.  While Auda ibu Tayi suffered several gazing shots, Lawrence found himself thrown from his camel at the beginning of the fight.  His Arab compatriots rushed to his side to find Lawrence unharmed but his poor animal with a gaping bullet wound to the head.  For despite the dashing persona Lawrence would soon encourage among the world’s press, Lawrence was actually quite poor at riding or fighting – he had accidentally shot his camel in the back of the head.

Lawrence his men pose for a photograph after Aqaba – Lawrence was always very conscious of his media image, and that of the Arab Revolt


By the summer of 1917, what had been missing in the Arab Revolt were Arabs.  There were no shortage of military advisers under the banner of Sharif Hussein bin Ali.  French Muslim officers and former Ottoman commanders populated the ranks of the conventional Sharifian Army and the tribesmen-based Hashemite Army under the control of Hussein’s sons Abdullah and Faisal.  But their combined forces reached fewer than 30,000 men at their apex, many of whom were former Ottoman soldiers from across the Turkish empire who had deserted while stationed in the desert.  Despite the £220,000 a month the British were pouring into the rebellion (the equivalent of £11,470,000/month now), the Arab Revolt had failed to attract many supporters or win many victories.   Continue reading

With Any Luck

Last year saw Gawker Media spin into oblivion.

With a little luck, we’ll be seeing the same from Vice before too long.

As I wait for the bonfire, I’ll refer you to this memorable parody of Vice

…from the parody series “Documentary Now” – which as been one of Netflix’s better offerings in the past couple years.

It’s Almost, But Not Quite, A Berg’s Law

It probably doesn’t qualify as a “Berg’s Law” because it may not be absolute and universal – but for the most part, if you scratch the surface of an American “Democratic Socialist”, you’ll find a rich kid with daddy issues.

So, it seems, with current socialist wunderkind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Last week’s big primary winner in a Congressional district that includes parts of the Bronx and Queens highlighted the 29 year old “community organizer”, who will likely be going to Congress, and her “Jenny from the Block” story.  Listening to her before the election, I caught myself humming “It’s A Hard Knock Life” more than a few times.

So was it baked wind?

What do you think?  Remember – it’s almost a Berg’s Law:

Around the age of five, Alexandria’s architect father Sergio Ocasio moved the family from the “planned community” of Parkchester in the Bronx to a home in Yorktown Heights, a wealthy suburb in Westchester County. The New York Times describes her childhood home as “a modest two-bedroom house on a quiet street.” In a 1999 profile of the area, when Ocasio-Cortez would have been ten years old, the Times lauded Yorktown Heights’ “diversity of housing in a scenic setting” – complete with two golf courses.

Westchester County – which the Washington Post, in a glowing profile on Ocasio-Cortez, describes as only “middle class” – ranks #8 in the nation for the counties with the “highest average incomes among the wealthiest one percent of residents.” According to the Economic Policy Institute, the county’s average annual income of the top one percent is a staggering $4,326,049.

Yorktown Heights, specifically, offers a sharp contrast from Bronx living. According to USA.com, the town’s population is 81 percent white, and median household income is $96,413 – nearly double the average for both New York state and the nation, according to data from 2010-2014.

I interviewed for a job in Westchester County thirty years ago; the program director basically told me there was no way I could live in the area on what they could payme (here was the story).

Not that there’s anything wrong with doing well; but not only didn’t Ocasio-Cortez earn it, she wants to make it harder for others to do it.

(Even as she, beyond a doubt, gets ready to make a couple million in honoraria from liberals with deep pockets over the next few years, much like the Bern she no doubt felt).

July Daze

Recently arrived by rail, Russian troops by the thousands off-loaded themselves in St. Petersburg on the night of July 5th, 1917.  For days, the capitol had been rocked by increased protests from Bolshevik supporters, whose ranks had now included armed soldiers chanting “all power to the Soviets.”  Not even the local Soviet leadership could apparently calm the growing mob, who screamed back at the group’s representative “take power, you son of a bitch, when it is handed to you!”  For the second time in 1917, St. Petersburg looked ready for a coup.

But the Provisional Government of Russia was determined to not make the same mistakes as the Tsar had just months earlier.  Loyalist troops quickly swarmed the offices of Pravda and the Bolshevik Central Committee, shutting both organizations down.  Warrants for the arrest of Vladimir Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders were authorized, forcing the Bolsheviks to flee the city or go underground.  The general St. Petersburg public, tired of the constant protests and street violence they increasingly associated with the Bolsheviks, cheered the Provisional Government’s swift hand.  Even the most liberal members of the government began endorsing violent retribution to protesters and disorderly soldiers.

By July 7th, 1917, St. Petersburg was as quiet as it had been since the start of the Great War.  The proto-democratic Provisional Government had crushed their fiercest internal opponent while launching an offensive against the Central Powers that the government believed would save the war effort.

On both counts, they would be sadly mistaken.

The “July Days” protests – the Provisional Government saw the protests as a Bolshevik-inspired coup.  More likely, it was a fairly spontaneous series of protests over the lack of improvement of living conditions and getting Russia out of the war


The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II following the events of the “February Revolution” had left St. Petersburg/Petrograd (the city’s name had been changed at the start of the Great War as to avoid sounding “too German”) as a capitol nearly void of actual political power.   Continue reading

Insubstantial

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Sarah Hoyt asks the right question: what’s the margin of civilization?

Look, pretty much any organization can carry one freeloader.  Usually, it’s the boss’s nephew.  Certain union shops and government offices seem to have more of them because productivity isn’t tied to profit.

But at some point, if all you hire are Pajama Boys and Diversity Coordinators, who’s doing the welding? Who’s going to climb the power pole during the thunderstorm to reconnect the cables?  Who’s going down in the manhole – ooops, sorry, person hole – to shovel the clogged sewage?  Who’s the roughneck throwing the chain around the drill pipe when you’re coming out of the hole in the Badlands of North Dakota?  Who’s the cop wading into the bar fight?  Who’s the firefighter climbing down the ladder with my fat a** slung over the shoulder?

Diversity is a fact, not a goal.  At least, not for long.  After the collapse of civilization, it will be a curse word.

Joe Doakes

As Glenn Reynolds says, things that can’t be sustained, won’t be.  Probably holds true for people, too.

Ooooooh. Aaaaaaaaah. Wooooooooow.

None of that will be heard cascading down from Mounds Park this July 4 – at least, not on the city’s dime.

Mayor Carter is declining to spend tax dollars on fireworks:

Mayor Melvin Carter announced on his Facebook page Wednesday that he would be scrapping the annual fireworks display, stating he believes there are better uses for tax dollars.

In his post he writes, “As I’ve considered the budgetary priorities we manage across our city in the first year of my administration, I’ve decided I can’t in good conscience support spending tax dollars on a fireworks display in Saint Paul this year.”

The budget hawk in me applauds – until he realizes that the Saint Paul City Councijl will find  much dumber uses for any money saved.

More philosophically?  I support the Mayor’s decision.  I’m a patriotic American who believes in the ideals of the state that was founded in 1776; a celebration by a government that eschews those ideals, in favor of (at best) those of the Swedish or Danish (or Venezuelan) social welfare states is an appropriation of my culture.

There.  There’s your fireworks.

(Although watching liberals heads exploding over the Kennedy retirement might just be a better display anyway).