Humanity’s Scar

Today his “Holocaust Remembrance Day”, and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz/Birkenau/Monowitz extermination camp.

It wasn’t the first camp liberated; the Russians had liberated Majdanek, arguably the second deadliest of the camps, the previous summer.   And they’d made their discovery public.  But Soviet propaganda even then had a history of being marginally more heavy-handed than the Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s; surely, people figured, the Russians were slandering, understandably enough, the people who’d raped the Motherland so brutally.

And the news about Auschwitz got the same reception.  It wasn’t until the Western Allies started liberating camps in the late winter and early spring (soon to come on this blog) that the story started to get some traction in the west.

There was one filmmaker at Auschwitz, Alexandr Vorontzov, a Soviet cameraman attached to the 100th “Lviv” Infantry Division, of the 1st Ukrainian Front, present at the liberation, 70 years ago today.  He spent a few weeks on the scene, documenting not only the liberation and the gruesome discoveries, but also

The most sobering thing, on this anniversary, is that so few remember what happened – and so many seem amenable to trying it again.

I’ve run across a few Holocaust deniers over the years; I interviewed Ernst Zündel, a Canadian resident who made quite the cottage industry out of denial in the eighties, in my old KSTP show.  And I’ve shredded not a few on Facebook over the years. High on my bucket list is a desire to meet one in person, and pound them until the convusions stop.

Rhetorically speaking, of course.

This is why, by the way, I’m a Second Amendment activist.

Surprise, Surprise

Who predicted this?

Oh, yeah – all the good guys.

Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low.

“It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic — they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course — and yet you have these incredible numbers.”

As you were.

“The Greatest American Battle of the War”

The cold had taken its toil – on American and German alike.

The remnants of the U.S. Third Army, the majority of which had, under the leadership of Gen. George S. Patton, moved to relieve the surrounded men of the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, were now exhausted.  Furious German counterattacks from Unternehmen Nordwind (Operation North Wind) had bloodied both sides.  On January 25th, 1945, more than a month after launching the largest offensive of the Western Front through the Ardennes, the Wehrmacht had not only stopped punching, but were back on the front they started from.

The “Battle of the Bulge” – the largest single battle of the war in the West was over – at the staggering cost of perhaps as many as 108,000 American casualties.

The German Advance: few expected the Germans to attack, and even fewer thought it would come from the Ardennes

By the winter of 1944, distance, not determination, was the only factor keeping the Allies from delivering the final blow to the Nazi regime. Continue reading

Hope

Generally, I keep my powder dry as we ramp up to big endorsement challenges.  And this year might be as good a year as any to keep mum.

But I’m not.  Among a small short-list of GOP candidates I’d like to see running for the Presidency – Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, maybe Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio – the top of my list is Scott Walker.  I’m a Walker guy, and I have been since he survived his recall.

The biggest concern people have had so far about Walker is that “he’s not charismatic enough” – yet another thing that has made me long for the days before television screwed up American politics.

But there is ground for hope that worries about Walker’s charisma may be exaggerated.

Rosy

As the media relentlessly chants about “economic recovery”, at least one article (from the AP) notes that those “new jobs” aren’t really doing much for the lower-middle-class – people who may be doing OK on the surface, but are only a missed paycheck or two away from depending on someone else.

And it’s worth noting that every previous sharp recession – like 1982 – had a correspondingly sharp rebound; within two years of the bottom of that recession, the economy was adding 500,000 jobs a month.

The 2007 recession was, along with the Great Depression, part of a tiny, exclusive club; sharp corrections that didn’t bounce back fast – as in, almost like an inverted bell curve.  And what did they have in common?

Govenment efforts to “help”.

Europe’s Misbegotten Cousin

Greece appears to be on the brink of electing a far-left government which is promising its voters and end to the “austerity” that the incumbent center-right (by Greek standards; it’d still be to the left of the DFL) government imposed after the Greek economy, driven by decades of suffocating goverment spending that drove the government into crippling debt, crashed.

Greece currently has nearly 30% unemployment; it’s nearly 50% among younger people. And it was rescued from “worse” only by a massive bailout from the parts of Europe that work – mainly center-right Germany.

And now, their response seems to be to tell the Germans “screw you, give us more money”.

Here’s the piece from NPR’s “Marketplace”:

Listen to the Greek government “economic advisor”, Janos Milios (at around 4:42 on the audio):

Europe is a continent of democracy.  When the people of one country decide to change course, change policy, this is something that has to be respected by all parties”.

Respected?  If they’re paying their own bills and not surviving by pilfering the the wallets of the responsible countries, maybe.

This pretty much embodied the old criticism of democracy; “it can only survive until 51% of the people discover they can live off the other 49%”.

But the worst, most noxious quote is yet to come.  Among the left’s most bilious conceits is that society is a “family” – with, naturally, government serving as a gender-neutral parent to keep all the unruly kids in line.

That was the line taken by Dimitrius Papadimitriotis, an Athens psychiatrist (at around  3:30):

We believe it has to be shared among our European partners.  Being part of the “European Family” means taking care of each other, being there for each other.  And this is what “family” is all about.

Government – least of all extranational associations of governments – is not a “family”.

And if it were, then it’d be time to take the snotty spendthrift teenager to the garage and have a word with her about nagging mom and dad to pay off her credit card debts.

If I were a German taxpayer, I’d be demanding my government cut the Greeks off completely.

A Linguistic Proposal

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Homophobia started as urban slang for men who were afraid to look gay. “I can’t wear a purple necktie, I’ll look as if I’m gay.” That’s what homophobia meant.

Then it transformed into men who beat up gays to show they weren’t secretly attracted to them. ” I can prove I’m not secretly gay because I enjoy kicking gay men’s asses.” That’s what homophobia meant next.

Now homophobia is used to mean anybody who less than fully enthusiastic about any whim that strikes the GLBT movement. That’s what homophobia means now.

I’m not afraid of my clothing looking gay. I haven’t been in a fight since 5th grade. But I am tired of GLBT being shoved in my face to assuage 2% of the population’s narcissism.

I propose a new word, one that doesn’t translate as “fear” but “tired of hearing about it.” I propose homolassus, pronounced by adding Ho to Molasses.

Joe Doakes

We’ll run it past the OED…

Western Civilization’s Finest Hour

It was fifty years ago today that Winston Churchill died.

There’s a strong case to be made that Churchill was the greatest person of the past 100 years; that without him, Western Civilization might be a very different thing today.

He was a great political thinker, a great statesman, and – especially in the darkest hours of World War 2 in Europe – one of the most epochal leaders of all time.

And one of the great orators; I’m as unemotional a person as you’ll ever meet, but it’s hard not to feel something stirring at Churchill’s greatest speech, his “Dunkirk” speech:

He rallied a people whose backs were worse than “up against the wall” – and a civilization that’d just taken a massive beating after one of the bleakest quarter-centuries in history.

…Until The NARN, In All Its Power And Might, Steps Forward To The Rescue

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network – America’s first grass-roots talk radio show – is on the air! I will be on from 1-3PM today!

Today on the show:

Don’t forget - King Banaian is on from 9-11AM on AM1570, and Brad Carlson has “The Closer” edition of the NARN Sundays from 1-3PM.

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

Join us!

Compare And Contrast

In the State of the Union, President Obama poo-poohed the jobs that would be created by the Keystone XL pipeline as “temporary construction jobs”.

Yet six years ago, his “economic recovery plan” relied on “shovel ready” “infrastructure” jobs that were also “temporary construction jobs” (except for the “permanent government management” jobs, which would go as patronage to members of the political class, natch).

And at the speech, the President asked “Why not have thirty times as many…” of what?  Temporary construction jobs working on “infrastructure” (along with thousands more patronage gigs administering the mess).

Bubble Talk

I’ve made these two points before, somewhere in the blog’s past 13 or so years – maybe several times.  But I think there’s a fresh-ish point here, so bear with me.

Background: Two of the luckiest breaks of my life were:

  1. In 1980, at the beginning of my senior year of high school, a couple of slickie boys who’d been working in major market radio bought out my first radio station, KEYJ.  They changed the format, ramped up the “slick”, and fired most of the locals (including me).  The lesson?  Loyalty to one’s employer is a sucker bet.
  2. Later, I went to college at an obscure little school in the middle of North Dakota.  My mom worked as a secretary in the nursing department, so I got a huuuuuge tuition break, and I graduated debt-free.  But in those days, nobody but nobody came to Jamestown College to recruit graduates (other than the Air Force, and all they were interested in was nursing majors).  You were on your own.  The lesson:  You’re only as marketable as you make yourself; relying on your “credentials” is a sucker’s bet, too.

Stemming From Misinformation:  We’ve talked a lot about the Higher Ed Bubble in this space over the years; decades of government and government-backed student lending has built up an immense system of higher education institutions that crank out a huge surplus of people with degrees that “aren’t needed” in our society, or for whom at least the markets are very tight; because of the “borrow now, pay later” policies that the government and Big Education have been pushing, these students are not only coming into the workforce with degrees that “didn’t train them” for a career that was viable, much less one that could pay off all that debt.

Now, I’m not sure if there was ever a time when an anthropology or music or history or theatre or Norwegian major could graduate from college and look forward to getting snapped up purely for the skills they learned in college; engineers and nurses and computer programmers, yes, but not English majors (outside the Education track, anyway – and that’s getting dicier too).  I’m not sure if it was the crowd I hung out with, or the place I went to school, or the time I went there, but I don’t recall any non-teaching-track writing or art  or English or theater performance majors getting out of school and expecting a job as an writer or artist or actor; they – we – either…:

  • Hunkered down for a rather straitened near-term life against the hope of finding a niche that paid the bills (and I do have friends who’ve done this)
  • Adapted, and used the marketable meta-skills they’d picked up in college and/or their early work careers to find a career in another field, possibly completely unrelated) (that’d be me), or…
  • Toiled away at their chosen major field with no expectation of making a living at it.

That was then; kids graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in debt in those fields is now.

False Optimism:  The answers, we’re told, are to either focus kids toward:

  • Vocational and technical fields – everything from tool and die manufacturing to personal care.
  • “STEM” – science, technology, engineering and math.

For the former?  I couldn’t agree more.  There is a big chunk of American academia that takes students “settling” for a vo-ed or technical career as a defeat.  It’s just not true – or shouldn’t be.

As to STEM as a panacaea?  It’s a bit of a racket; business is pushing STEM even as wages are stagnant and industry imports “labor” from overseas as fast as they can find it.  Industry is pushing people into STEM to drive down the cost of labor, and it’s working.

Still, there are quite a few jobs in the field, and a kid who’s so inclined can get a decent start in life that way, if they’re so inclined.

What’s Missing Here:  But let’s go back to the two big lessons I learned up front in this post.

Loyalty to one’s employer – in the sense that people who spent 35 years working at the same job and retired with a company or union pension used to feel it – is a thing of the past.  So why do people think that spending ones career tied to a field of study one (usually) chose in ones teens and twenties should have a longer shelf life?

Because one’s working life is more likely than ever to involve adapting, changing, re-learning and starting over than to involve doing the same thing for forty-odd years.

And that’s the part that modern education – high school, liberal arts, STEM or technical – always, always seems to get wrong.  The supreme skill in life is not building a circuit or writing a term paper or analyzing historical political campaigns; it’s knowing how to adapt to the many changes life throws at you, no matter what you major in.

Can that be taught?  Sure.  Not everyone can learn it, no more than I will ever be adept at calculus.

But it’s certainly more useful than 95% of what people are taught these days.

Hands Up: Don’t Spread Narratives Without Thinking

After a couple of months of investigation, the Justice Department – that would be Eric Holder’s Justice Department – has reached the same conclusion in on the Michael Brown case that the state grand jury did several months ago:

Let’s reiterate that. Eric Holder’s Justice Department has looked at the case and decided that the evidence indicates Officer Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown.

This is actually not much of a surprise. When local prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury’s decision not to prosecute the officer, he strongly emphasized that federal investigators had access to the exact same evidence, which was his way of expressing confidence that they would reach the same conclusions. The Times report confirms this: “The federal investigation did not uncover any facts that differed significantly from the evidence made public by the authorities in Missouri late last year.”

have you noticed we only get asked to have a “conversation about race” after an ugly, inflammatory event that jacks everyone’s emotions to 11?

The Scarlet Drawing

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Lot of talk from Liberals after the Charlie Hebdo killings about Free Speech doesn’t mean Without Consequences, it only means the government can’t punish you for saying it.

Private groups can still bring social pressure to cost you your job, your elected office.

And maybe your life, because you asked for it by drawing offensive cartoons.

When it comes to subjects dear to Liberals hearts like sluts, welfare and Muslims, Liberals claim to abhor social shunning because it has a chilling effect on Constitutionally protected freedoms but they don’t, really, abhor shunning; they just want to change who wears the scarlet letter.

Joe Doakes

In many ways, they are the new Puritans.

Nuclear Power In Newcastle

The last place to look for fearless, open, free-wheeling speech for its own sake is any university town.

See Northfield, Minnesota – home of a couple of tony private colleges – where publican Norman Butler of the pub “Contented Cow” has been doing something I wish a bar in the Twin Cities would do; hosting a series of discussions and debates over the winter.

Then things got sticky:

But when word got out that Butler invited conspiracy theorist Jim Fetzer to do a series of talks on historical events on which he holds controversial opinions, some customers revolted.

They say that Fetzer is an anti-Semite because he also denies aspects of the Holocaust. Several residents sent notes to Butler saying they would stop frequenting his pub unless he canceled the talks.

We’ve run into the whackdoodle Fetzer (and, in the comment section, his fan club) on this blog before.  He hasn’t changed:

[Fetzer's] “truths” include Fetzer’s belief that the Sandy Hook school shootings never really happened, that the 9/11 attacks were a “reality fraud” by the government conspiring with Israel and that the plane crash that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone was a possible assassination.

Fetzer’s posting of critics’ e-mails apparently caused one of his readers to send a threatening e-mail to one professor.

By Monday, Fetzer had agreed to change the events from speeches to debates, inviting people with expertise to rebut him. On his website, Fetzer said the community response “has shattered any lingering illusions I may have had about Northfield as an enlightened and intellectual environment.”.

If Fetzer believes any university town is a place for intellectual inquiry, it’s no wonder he denies the Holocaust and thinks 9/11 was an inside job.  He’ll buy anything.  

Kudos to Mr. Butler, anyway:

As of Tuesday, Butler was not backing down on the forums.

“I almost folded this morning,” he said. “I was down on my knees almost. But I got a second wind.”

Asked if he expected the backlash, the England native channeled British comedy troupe Monty Python: “Well, I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.”

And that was that – until the professors got into the rhubarb:

One of those who oppose Fetzer’s appearance is Gordon Marino, professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College.

He called the appearance “unbelievable.”

“Is this some free speech thing?” Marino wrote to Butler. “If so, why not some pro-slavery person as well?”

OK.  So why not?

I mean, it’d be a short, sharp debate, probably ending badly for the proponent – but why the hell not?

Isn’t free speech about meeting bad speech with more, better speech?

Goodness knows college kids can’t debate even easy subjects like the existence of slavery or the Holocaust these days without resorting to the left’s “debate” playbook, strawmen and ad-hominem.  Having some of them see how it’s done might be a better learning experience than they’d ever get at Saint Olaf or Carlton.

Good Guys 1: Idiot 0

One of the most important things you learn in Minnesota carry permit training is that having that permit doesn’t make you a junior lawman. Find me a legal carry permit holder who believes that their permit entitles them to wade into disputes, gun drawn, like Dwight Schrute, and I’ll show you someone who should probably have their permit re-examined.

But it’s hard to find those examples – because carry permit holders almost never do anything quite that stupid. Are there examples? I’m sure there are, somewhere – there are likely several million carry permitees nationwide, and in a group that large, you’re going to have someone who screws up, sometime. I just can’t think of any recent examples right now. I doubt you can either.

Now, if you follow any of the “Gun Grabber” chat rooms and Facebook pages you’ll find all sorts of bellicose talk from anti civil rights people; claims that they’ll raise a commotion if they see someone with a permitted firearm, or even make up crimes and call the police.

Few of them (outside the media) have done anything about it so far.

Until this week, anyway:

.According to the sheriff’s office, Michael Foster, 43, saw Clarence Daniels, 62, in the Walmart parking lot with a gun holstered under his coat.

Foster followed Daniels into the store, put him in a choke-hold and brought him to the ground, the sheriff’s office said. He then started yelling that Daniels had a gun.

Mr. Foster is being charged with battery. I hope Mr. Daniels presses charges with vigor and glee.

Further proof, really, the biggest danger involved with the law-abiding carry of firearms is the ninnies who oppose it.

UPDATE:  Oh, yeah – there’s a racial angle.  The attacker was a white guy.  The innocent carrier, black.

Racist.  Just like every single gun control law.

Extreme

How debased is the English language, as it relates to politics in the US today?

The Democrats are chanting in unison that a bill regulating abortion is “extreme”.

No shock there.

What’s “extreme” is that it would ban abortion of fetuses after the 20th week of gestation.

20 weeks.  Five months.  Over halfway there.

More importantly, long after pain is known to register with the “fetuses” – and exactly two weeks earlier than children have survived premature delivery.

Two weeks.

When the “fetus” is fully formed in every particular; just not developed quite enough to survive on its own yet; 22 weeks involves working medical miracles; 24 weeks is difficult as hell and touch and go – but doable.

Note to infanticide supporters; say what you will about a “woman’s right to choose” – but when the “choice” involves something that is physically as well as morally indistinguishable from “a baby”, you’re not making any friends outside your echo chamber, provided they know what the actual story is.  Barring abortion of a “fetus” that is two weeks away from being a viable human being is not extreme.  Allowing it certainly is.

 

 

Indistinguishable

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Got this fundraising e-mail today. I think there’s a flaw in the proposal but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

***

Dear Friend

Our country is in trouble and we need your help in a big way. The rich are cheating this country of a Billion Dollars of tax revenue EVERY MINUTE.

Right now, federal tax law supported by Republicans is costing the government at least 50 cents – and in some cases as much as 72 cents – out of every dollar earned. By closing the payroll tax loophole, Democrats in Congress could fully fund every vital program to invest in infrastructure, eliminate racial inequality and prepare our children for the future.

All it would take is one simple fix in the payroll tax laws, setting the amount of withholding equal to total wages earned. And it would affect only a small number of Americans – fewer of them every day – but the Evil Republicans backed by the Koch Brothers are blocking this common sense reform.

Tell Republicans to Give Congress Back its Money! Tell Republicans to Close the Payroll Tax Loophole!

And please help us spread this urgent message by contributing $100, $50 or even $25 today. Your contribution could make the difference between saving the country and letting the terrorists win.

***

Joe Doakes

it’s so hard to tell truth from parody these days…

Petition

Senate File 32, as proposed by Senator Branden Petersen in the current session, would basically reiterate the Fourth Amendment…

…which is good, because the last couple of Presidents, going back to Clinton, have put the Fourth Amendment on life support.

The bill would require law enforcement and prosecutors to show legitimate probably cause before doing any electronic eavesdropping.

Senator Ron Latz, of course, controls the Senate Judiciary Committee.  And he apparently believes that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

Please sign this petition urging Senator Latz to bring the bill up in committee for an up or down vote.

Because it would be good to know where our Senators stand on privacy and, y’know, freedom.

 

Distinctions And Differences

I missed the State of the Union last night – I was actually busy interviewing a guest for this Saturday’s Northern Alliance broadcast – but I heard some of National Public Radio’s post speech wrap up.

The hosts discussed the conversation about the Keystone XL pipeline; the NPR “analysts” were careful to note that “the number of permanent jobs is actually quite small”; they’d be mostly temporary construction jobs.

Which is true, and all that.

I’m just trying to remember any similar commentary about Pres. Obama’s “Shovel Ready Jobs” six years ago.