The Case For Letting Academia Burn To The Ground

The “American Political Science Association” has released the quadrennial cesspool that is their rankings of American presidents.

You may have already figured out it’d be a leftist screed. You’d have figured largely right.

From top to bottom, with my comments interspersed:

1 Lincoln – Couldln’t see that one coming…
2 FD Roosevelt – Are you kidding? He prolonged the depression, and gave Eastern Europe to his buddy, Stalin? And he’s ahead of…
3 Washington
– the guy who could have been king, and chose representative democracy?
4 T Roosevelt
– Naturally – a greater triumph of image over Iprogressive) accomlishment than even Wilson. Real shocker there.
5 Jefferson
6 Truman
– The victory of Democrat narrative over substance – one of many.
7 Obama
– The person who did more to exacerbate America’s decline than any President of my lifetime? Of course they put him in the top ten.
8 Eisenhower
9 LB Johnson
– The man who went long on Vietnam, laying the cultural groundwork for the modern “Progressive” movement? The man whose “Great Society” destroyed the black Middle Class?
10 Kennedy
– The victory of romantic narrative over hard fact.
11 Madison
– That he’s this far down the list shows us the APSA doesn’t really care much for federalism.
12 Clinton
– Actual intellectual honesty would call for making Newt Gingrich – who was actually responsible for most of Clinton’s success – at least a co-president for purposes of this exercise.
13 J Adams
14 Biden
– Biden. A potato. Ahead of Reagan, Adams, Coolidge, and over a dozen merely mediocre presidents?
15 Wilson
– Without him, there’d have been no rise of Naziism. No explosion in central power. No federalization of Jijm Crow, and quite likely an acceleration of desegregation. And they put him ahead of…
16 Reagan
– …the man who did more than any to bring about the fall of the Soviet Union – which was the only reason Clinton was able to reign in such prosperity.
17 Grant
– 17? Perhaps this pack of historians at least figured that Grant had among the toughest jobs a President has had, and generally did well?
18 Monroe
19 GHW Bush
20 JQ Adams
21 Jackson
22 Carter
– About 20 places too high. A poor president, and a few Habitat houses notwithstanding, a fairly loathsome ex-president (speechwriter for Yassir Arafat, supporter of Hamas, and a disaster in foreign policy).
23 Taft
24 McKinley
25 Polk
26 Cleveland
27 Ford
28 Van Buren
29 Hayes
30 Garfield
31 Harrison
32 GW Bush
33 Arthur
34 Coolidge
– Absolutely criminal. Coolidge was in the top five, in policy terms. More later.
35 Nixon
36 Hoover
37 Tyler
38 Taylor
39 Fillmore
40 Harding
41 Harrison
42 Pierce
43 Johnson
44 Buchanan
45 Trump
– Let this be your warning – no matter what your policy accomplishments, mind those tweets!

The real best and worst lists – coming tomorrow.

Bob Beckwith

Bob Beckwith was the FDNY firefighter who stood with then-President Bush during one of the moments in my life when I was proudest to be an American.

It occurs to me there’s a generation for whom “FDNY” isn’t instantly mentally associated with tragedy, heroism, and that particular moment 22 years ago.

Happy Reagan’s Birthday

This is a piece from 2020. It’s been slightly updated.

Today would be Ronald Reagan’s 114th birthday

I’ve been writing about Reagan – who, along with PJ O’Rourke, Solzhenitzyn, Dostoevskii and Paul Johnson is the reason I’m a conservative today – as long as this blog has been in existence.  His eight years were not perfect, and I don’t beatify my presidents, even if they’ve been out of office for over three decades.  His last term wasn’t as stellar as his first, and his last two years were very difficult.

Still and all, he was the greatest president of the second half of the 20th Century, and head, shoulders and ankles the best of my lifetime.

But in these difficult times, after two terms of a President who promoted  fear and malaise in the guise of “change” and “doing something”, and four years of another for whom “conservative principles” were a tactic to be slipped on and off like a power tie, it’s worth remembering Reagan’s example; when times seemed at their most dire, Reagan walked onto the scene with a smile and a vision, and a backbone of steel, and cleaned up the mess lefty by his failed predecessor – something our next president will need even more of in 2024.

And the most important part? He did it by unleashing something that many, then as now, thought was dead – the inner, optimistic, take-charge greatness of the American spirit – something that feels largely beaten into submission as this is (re)written, in 2021.

Oh, there are those who say “today’s GOP wouldn’t nominate Reagan!” – to which I used to respond with a contemptuous sigh, before telling the critic to listen to “A Time for Choosing”, and tell me who it more resembles; Arne Carlson, or Rand Paul?

In the Trump era party, where the GOP regards spending as just as inviolate as the Democrats do, and when the worst communists aren’t across the Oder river, but roaming our campuses?   It’s simultaneously possible that the GOP wouldn’t endorse him, and him (or an heir to his legacy) is exactly we need more than anything .

Reagan’s gone. But that spirit, the one he understood, almost alone among American politicans of his era, lives on in the American people. Half of it, anyway.

So Happy Reagan’s Birthday, everyone!

NOTE: While this blog encourages a raucous debate, this post is a hagiography zone. All comments deemed critical of Reagan will be expunged without ceremony. You’ve been warned.

You have the whole rest of the media to play about in; this post is gonna be gloriously one-note.

(This post was originally written in 2017, and has been slightly touched up for 2021). 


I don’t get the National Review hate – that might be worth a letter from Joe in and of itself.

Anywayt, Joe Doakes emails:

I know better than to read National Review Online but sometimes I can’t help myself.   The recent article about Nikki Haley reminds me why that’s such a dumb thing to do. 

I hate ‘gotcha’ questions.  They are inevitably out of context and intended for use in a slanted, partisan media campaign.  For instance (paraphrasing):

Q: What was the cause of the Civil War?

A: It was a dispute about who decides how a state will be run – the federal government or the people living in the state.  

Q: You didn’t mention slavery. 

A: Well, what do you want me to say about slavery?  That wasn’t the cause of the war.  


Except she’s right.  Elimination of slavery was not the cause of the war.  We know this from two crucial pieces of history.  You can look it up and should, because almost everything being said today is wrong. 

First of all, if abolishing slavery was the reason for the war, why did four slave states – Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri – fight for the North?  If those states had wanted to abolish slavery in their state, they could have done it any time.  Instead, they joined the Union side to fight against the Secessionist side. Slavery was not the issue.  Secession from the Union was the issue.  

Second the publicity campaign to make the war about abolition of slavery came with the Emancipation Proclamation, announced long after the war was already going.  It only applied to the states in rebellion – NOT to the slave states in the Union – further evidence that the abolition of slavery was not the reason for starting the war in 1861, but was simply a tactic intended to divert attention from federal government over-reach to a high moral crusade of abolition which would justify Lincoln’s unconstitutional actions during the war.  

The historical evidence supports Haley but you can’t convince anybody of that today.  Slavery is everything and always the most important thing, to Liberals and RINOs alike.  Haley didn’t mention slavery so GOTCHA.  


Joe Doakes no longer in Como Park

I’m going to stake out one (actually two, given that I don’t get the zing at NR) difference Joe.

“Secession was the issue”. And what were they seceding about?

  • “Preserving the Union” – and what was the political issue breaking up the union? Slavery.
  • “Economics” – And what was the economic issue? Competition between an industralizing society and an agrarian plantation society based around slavery.
  • “Why were border states exempt?” – For the same reason the US allied with a rogues gallery of dictators when it was in their interests.

“Abolishing slavery” wasn’t the reason for the war – and yet all of the reasons for the war were one degree of separation away from slavery.

So the real answer, as usual, is everyone is wrong.

Never Again –> Probably Soon

20% of young people believe, to one extent or another, that the Holocaust was a “myth”.

That sounds bad – and it is, but probably not for the reasons that jump out at you.

As Ilya Somin at Volokh points out, part of it is an artifact of the survey question: While 8% of Americans between 18 and 29 “strongly agree” that the Holocaust is just a scary story, 12% indicated they “tended to agree” that it was a myth – which, Somin points out, could many anything from strong doubts down to nit-picking the numbers.

He also points out something that might be even worse: some kids doubts may be due to ignorance:

A second relevant ambiguity is that the question doesn’t distinguish between people who know what the term “Holocaust” refers to and those who don’t. The latter may seem implausible. Who doesn’t know what “Holocaust” means. But much evidence shows widespread public ignorance of basic facts of historysciencepolitics, and even the basic structure of government. A majority of Americans can’t name the three branches of governmentdon’t know when the Civil War happened, and support mandatory labeling of food containing DNA (the latter probably because they don’t understand what DNA). And most surveys of political and historical knowledge find that it is inversely correlated with age; that is, younger people tend to know less than older ones. The latter phenomenon isn’t confined to the present generation of young people. Survey researchers found the same thing with previous generations when they were young.

“People in general are ignorant, and young people generally more so” is a pretty common, simple and accurate observation.

The real problem isn’t just ignorance of the Holocaust, so much as complete ignorance of all of Big State’s atrocities over the past century – the Great Leap Forward, the Gulag and the Holocaust:

The point here is not to suggest that ignorance about the Holocaust is unimportant, or that the Great Leap Forward and other similar communist atrocities were necessarily worse than the Holocaust…. I lost several relatives in the Holocaust myself, and have no desire to somehow downgrade its importance.

Rather, the point is that ignorance about the Holocaust is part of a broader pattern. Any solution to the problem probably cannot focus on the Holocaust alone, but must consider the broader issue of historical and political ignorance, as well. For reasons elaborated in my book, Democracy and Political Ignorance, increasing public knowledge of politics and history is likely to prove a much tougher challenge than some imagine it to be. In the meantime, public ignorance about the Holocaust, communist mass murders, and other historical events makes it more likely that we will fail to learn the lessons of these tragic events, and thus be at greater risk of repeating them.

Our society has had a couple of generations of not having to fight against nature or other humans for its very existence. I suspect that that fact alone has caused a degrading of the nation’s aggregate intelligence.


Today is the 82nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

For those who observe.

As I often have over this past few decades, I call out the fact that the first shots at Pearl Harbor were fired by a crew of Navy Reservists from Saint Paul, who’d been mobilized earlier in the year as part of Roosevelt’s build-up to the war everyone knew was coming.

The ship – which was built during World War 1, was thoroughly obsolte, and had been pressed back into service to fill the gaps until new ships could be built – was converted into a fast transport in 1942.

The men of that crew are all gone, now – Alan Sanford, the last survivor, died in 2015. And the Ward itself didn’t survive the war – it was lost in action off the Philippines, three years to the day after it fired the first shot of the war, on December 7 1944.. The Ward was hit by a Kamikaze and crippled.

In a bit of historical poetry almost too unbelievable to be in a Hollywood script, after the ship was abandoned, the ship was sunk by gunfire from another destroyer, the USS O’Brien, who’s commander, WIlliam Outerbridge, had been the Ward’s CO at Pearl Harbor. (And, just because I’m a geek for this kind of thing, I’ll note that O’Brien was built just down the waterfront from this ship, which I wrote about a while back).

But while Sanford, his shipmates and the Ward ˆitself are long gone, the gun they crewed lives on…

…on the State Capitol grounds, acquired from some naval armory decades ago.

Wonder what pretense the Walz administration will use for removing it?

The Why We War

I support Ukraine.

No, not in that “I’m going tro put a flag on my social media profile and call everyone I disagree with a Putin-bot” way.

And not in the “let’s risk World War 3” over a squabble over an ethnically mixed border area (although it’s worth noting that many of those areas are only “ethnically mixed” because the Soviets deported the natives to SIberia and replaced them with Russians.

I was, in fact, supporting a free and independent Ukraine back when most Democrats were saying “The USSR is here for good, get over it, wingnut”.


Among other reasons, because Ukraine has within its living memory this episode, the Holodomor, whose formal memorial took place last weekend.

One reason is that the Holodomor has been buried from the beginning — and not just by its perpetrators. New York Times journalist Walter Duranty, a Soviet sympathizer based in Moscow during the 1920s and 1930s, infamously claimed that “there is no famine.” Worse, the Moscow bureau chief led a foreign press corps campaign to discredit Gareth Jones, a Welsh journalist who reported the atrocities in March 1933. (Jones’ heroic attempt to reveal the genocide was depicted in the award-winning 2019 film Mr. Jones.) Despite his deceit, Duranty would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize, even though the Times later conceded that his articles were “some of the worst reporting to appear in this newspaper.” There continues to be a worldwide effort to revoke his unearned Pulitzer via an online petition initiated by the Ukrainian Holodomor-Genocide Awareness campaign. (READ MORE: Mr. Jones: A True Story of the Holodomor)

Unsurprisingly, the atrocity was also suppressed by its perpetrators. For decades in the Soviet Union, any mention of the Holodomor was treated as Western propaganda, something the ruling Communist Party did not treat lightly. Not until the USSR adopted its policy of glasnost in the 1980s was public discussion of the famine possible. (This is a sobering reminder of the danger in allowing the state to determine what is true and false.)

The Holodomor was the worst of the atrocities visited on Ukraine – but far from the only one.

So I support Ukraine. With an endless blank check? No. But in defending its existence? Absolutely.

“But Ukrainians are Nazis”. WIthin living memory, Nazis were seen as liberators from the people who’d starved the 1/4 of the nation to death. The war changed that for most Ukrainians – but it’s not a huge reach that some of the less-bright in Ukraine see “Naziism” as an alternative to the retro-Stalinism across the border that murdered them before and is murdering them today.

“But Ukraine is corrupt”. And Russia isn’t?

Save the strawman responses. No, I don’t want World War 3, and yes there needs to be an off ramnp, and it doesn’t appear that that ramp leads to Sevastopol, much less the eastern border of Donbas.


It’s come up on the blog before – I wasn’t a big Jimmy Carter fan. The consequences of Carter’s one term in office played a disproportionate role in my becoming a conservative in the first place.

He’s garnered a lot of hagiography for his philanthropic work over the past 40 years or so – and earned a few brickbats for his dingbat contributions to foreign policy. Like President, lie Ex-President.

But there’s a throwback aspect to Carter that we could use more of; the idea that political opponents weren’t entirely sub-human.

The family of his late wife Rosalynn did something I can’t imagine a lot of Democrats, and even a few Republicans, doing today:

I’ve most certainly gotten cynical over the years. I’m not alone – the funerals of Paul Wellstone and George Floyd certainly set the bar for public funerals, and set it very, very low.

I’m glad to see someone can still get over it.


Joe Doakes emails:

From Ace of Spades on Thursday the 23rd:


So I’m going to say something that is considered racially rude, but I’m sick of the bullshit.

Conquest without morality was the rule of all peoples and nations until a couple of hundred years ago. Only in the very recent past has morality become a major consideration in warfare.

And the people most responsible for adding moral considerations to the law of conquest were… Europeans.

People pushing the Victim Narrative pretend that their ancestors were morally superior to their conquerors. In fact, they were not. Their ancestors conquered everyone they could conquer. The Comanche Empire conquered other Indian tribes, which is why Indian tribes allied with the American government to fight the Comanches.

If Indians had advanced shipbuilding, navigation, and steel-working, they would have conquered Europe.

Native Americans’ ancestors did not refuse to do this because they were more moral. They didn’t do it because they simply couldn’t do it. They were not superior in morality; they were simply inferior in technology.

And all of this endless bullshit whining about generations-old conquests is just a nasty cope.

You’ve heard of “Victor’s Justice,” in which the winner of a war can vindictively set the terms for peace…? Well we live now in an age of Loser’s Justice, when the losers of the war can, somehow, endlessly torment the great-great-great-grandchildren of the winners of their ancestors having won in war.

And we’re sick of it, and we’re done with it. We never point this out, because we don’t want to upset people who are clearly insecure about their ancestors’ failures. Who wants to pick on the fat kid?

But by not shutting this bullshit down, we have invited endless demands on us. Endless reparations and payoffs, endless “land acknowledgements,” endless affirmative action programs, endless demands for apologies (which are endlessly offered, and endlessly rejected as insufficient), endless demands we change our lives to “honor” people we don’t even fucking know, endless demands we “center” other people and endlessly think about what we owe complete fucking strangers.

Enough. Enough.

The fact that my ancestors were good at war is no credit to me. I can’t take racial credit for what people that lived 200 years ago did.

But neither do I have to take responsibility for the actions of ghosts.

And the fact that some people’s ancestors were bad at war is not a credit card with no limits entitling the bearers to make endless demands on others.

I’m done with walking around eggshells because some people just cannot get over their distant ancestors having been shit at fighting.


Could not agree more.  The last man to have clear title to land was Adam, and he lost it when he got evicted for breaking the terms of his lease.   Everyone after him has title-by-right-of-conquest (nowadays called “adverse possession” by lawyers and “colonizer” by activists) including Noah, who didn’t do his own slaying but moved into a world where his patron had slain everyone for him.

Joe Doakes, no longer in Como Park

I would like to throw in a claim for my Viking ancestors and their history of fomenting what we now call democracy, along with their incredible facility at conquest.

But I can’t, because justice, the sins of the fathers are not visited on the sons, either their achievements.


This post originally appeared on November 11, 2007.

When I was a little kid, I remember going to see a parade on First Avenue in downtown Jamestown. One of the highlights for the five-year-old me was walking down by the Armory building (where, a decade or so hence, my first bands would play their first gigs) and watching the National Guard guys in their olive-drab uniforms getting their gear – trucks, jeeps and so on – read for one parade or another.I clutched my first book – a book of World War II airplanes that had been my dad’s when he was about my age – and looked on in awe as the guys, middle-aged pillars of the community, milled around waiting to roll out for the assembly area.

I walked up to one of them and showed him my book. He laughed. “I was in that war!”, he said, chuckling at the awe that must have stricken me.

On the arch above the armory entrance “Co. H 164th Infantry” was carved in stone first placed during the First World War. It’d seen Jamestown boys off to war in WWI, WWII and Korea.

One of the guys who’d left that armory in 1917 for France was Frank Newberry. He lived next door to us at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 8th Street SE in Jamestown; already 80ish when I was in elementary school. Photos of him in his uniform, with his cloth puttees and “tin hat”, hung around the house; his ’03 Springfield was in a case in his basement. He’d fought in H Company at Cantigny, Soission, St. Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne (I found much later, reading the unit’s history), the places where the US entered the modern world with all its horrors. He came home, married, raised a family, shot squirrels in his back yard with a .22 rifle, and, one day in probably the mid-’60’s, built a model of the WWII destroyer USS The Sullivans.  He gave me the model when I was maybe six years old.  I was thrilled – and I still am.  The old model, still together, slightly the worse for wear after enduring three boys (my stepson, son and I), sits on my library shelf, across the room from me, as I write this. 


Of course, the WII veterans were everywhere. They didn’t talk much, that I recalled; I did my researching later. The North Dakota National Guard website narrates concisely:

1941 – The North Dakota National Guard’s 164th infantry Regiment and the 188th Field Artillery Regiment were mobilized for service in World War II. 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion formed from batteries F and H of the 188th Field Artillery Regiment. The 776th went on to spend more then 550 days in actual combat in Tunisia, Italy and Central Europe.

My high school civics teacher had been a member of the 776th, if memory serves. A few of the less-bright lights in my high school used to amuse themselves by popping blown-up paper bags or throwing fireworks nearby as he walked. In his fifties, he would still throw himself flat on the ground, if he was having a bad day, if the “bang” was loud enough. Later, of course, some of us learned why; the 776th’s 550 days in action included some of the bloodiest, ugliest fighting in US Army history; El Guettar, Salerno, the Rapido, the Volturno, Monte Cassino. Rumor had it that his tank destroyer had been the only survivor of his platoon in one ugly engagement. Nobody knew, and he never talked to any of us.

He passed away maybe ten years ago.  On behalf of a couple of the ninth grade morons who didn’t know any better (and I’m happy to say I wasn’t one of them), I’m sorry.


1942 – The 164th Infantry Regiment landed on Guadacanal to reinforce the First Marine Division at Henderson Airfield. The regiment became the first US Army unit to take offensive action against the Japanese during World War II.

Company H of the 164th, from Jamestown, was one of the regiment’s 12 infantry companies. In the dark days after Pearl Harbor, they were sent to the South Pacific, and in late 1942 they were shipped to the Solomon Islands to reinforce the first American offensive ground action of the war, the Marine invasion of Guadalcanal. 

The Regiment was the first Army unit sent ashore to reinforce the beleaguered First Marine Division. The NDNG’s terse prose belies the desperation of the Regiment’s action on Guadalcanal; this online forum captures some of the story, first-hand, including pages of scanned diaries from the era.

On one of their first nights in the line, in late October, the 164th and the Marines were the target of a massive Banzai charge – at a place known to history as Bloody Nose Ridge and the banks of the Matanikau River. Green farm boys just two years off the prairie, they held off the attack, earning (by various accounts I’ve read over the years) the admiration of the grizzled Marines that’d been there for an eternity – two months months – already. The Fargo Forum’s story on the unit relates:

The infantry was also given the nickname “The 164th Marines” for their bitter fight against the Japanese in the Battle for Henderson Field and the Battle of the Matanikau on the island, and became the first U.S. Army unit to take offensive action during World War II.

A bunch of the old guys around town were vets of Guadalcanal. They never talked about it – not at all; other people who knew the story passed the story on to us.  It was in the books; names of guys we knew from around town and the county popped up occasionally, attached to actions that we couldn’t picture from the grizzly fiftysomethings we knew.


The Regiment fought on under MacArthur for the rest of the war:

1943 – The 164th Infantry spearheaded the Americal Division’s island hopping against the Japanese in the South Pacific. The 188th Field Artillery Regiment was split up into the 188th Field Artillery Group, the 188th Field Artillery Battalion, and the 957th Field Artillery Battalion.

Like Guadalcanal, the old vets of the 164th didn’t talk much about their time on Bougainville or in the Philippines, or on a brief stint of occupation duty in Japan after the war.

By the time the war was over, the 164th suffered 325 dead, and nearly 1,200 wounded out of about 3,000 men.


The North Dakota Guard fought in Europe as well:

1944 – Members of the 188th and 957th Field Artillery Battalions landed on Utah Beach and participated in the Cherbourg Offensive and the Battle of the Bulge while driving onward to Germany.

Pete Schwab was a crusty old guy who ran “Pete’s Radiator Shop”, across from Radish Widmer’s house on Eight Street at First Avenue. He was a cranky but friendly old fellow who I remember bothering to try to find go-kart parts.

When I was in Junior High, on one of my patrols through the library, I found the unit history of the 957th Field Artillery – batteries of which had hailed from Valley City, Fargo and other parts of eastern North Dakota. I found a picture of “Pete Schwab” in the unit history; Pete the Radiator man, 30 years and a world of care younger, an ammo handler who’d won a commendation – Bronze Star, I think? – for action in France, where the battalion had beaten back a German tank breakthrough (155mm shells can be persuasive). The 957th fought through France, and fired in support of the 2nd Armored Division in the battle that put the cap on the Bulge, at Dinant and Celles, Belgium. They went on to help liberate the Nordhausen concentration camp, and ended the war in Bavaria.

And then…:

1945 – World War II ends with the surrender of Germany and Japan. North Dakota National Guard units are released from active duty and return home.

Where they built the city I grew up with freedoms I scarcely knew how to appreciate, thanks to the service they scarcely mentioned.


The 164th served in Korea – more Jamestown boys shipped out, and most came home.  The high school put up a large wooden Honor Roll that hung over the entrance to the Junior High for decades, listing all of the Jamestown High School boys that fought in World War II and Korea – with a number of stars highlighting the ones that died.  As I got older and learned more about what the Roll meant, the number of stars on the Roll was daunting. 

The 164th Infantry Regiment was disbanded during the ’50s.  North Dakota’s National Guard was converted to Combat Engineers, for the most part.  And Jamestown’s Armory – in the old building and then, in the late seventies, in the basement of the new Civic Center – was turned over to the new Jamestown company, Co. B of the 141st Engineer Battalion. 

Many more guys from Jamestown served, of course.  One of them was Fred Jansonius, one of my father’s star’s on the Speech Team.  He enlisted in the Army, and was killed in the Tet Offensive, serving in the Ninth Infantry Division.  JHS’ Speech award is named after him.


Years passed.  B/141st served in Iraq – and two more Jamestown boys died overseas, including Phil Brown, nephew of one of my high school friends and of my favorite Junior High teacher. 

Many more served and came home, of course, including my high school classmate Joey Banister, who started as a private in B Company during high school, and was a Major on the Battalion’s staff by the time the battalion went to Iraq; not bad for ol’ knucklehead Joey.  He was among many other Jamestown guys, many of them friends and classmates, who’ve served in one capacity or another in the war on terror. 

And to them, today, the Jamestown guys and everyone else; though it seems not nearly enough, I send my thanks.

Continue reading

History Talking

I wish more American – especially Minnesota DFL – politicians could speak with the moral clarity that German vice-chancellor Robert Habeck does:

While allowing that the Germans have a tighter definition of free speech than we do – when you let the depraved speak out loud, you can see what they’re doing in a way you can’t in Europe, and I vastly prefer the American way – this would still be considered pretty daring in the US.

And he’s a Green.o. Talking like a classical liberal, on this issue at least.

This is apposed to the avatar of modern left-liberal left-center-leftism, President Obama…

…who is right at the top of the short list for worst president ever, with Woodrow Wilson, and far and away the worst of my lifetime.

When Germans out-do Amercan pols on this subject, it’s time for some electoral bells to be rung.

(Links bogarted from Powerline).


SCENE: It’s September 1, 1939. In the command post of the Republic of Poland Armed Forces. Poland’s Minister of War, Jozef BECK, and the Marshal of the Polish Military chief Marshal Edward SMYGŁY-RYDZ, General Szymon NOWACKI of the Armored Force,, are at the center of a gaggle of staff officers, poring over a wall full of maps showing a dire situation.

SMYGŁY-RYDZ: The Germans have cut off Gdańsk, have broken through west of Krakow, and are threatening to cut off the Poznan Army.

GENERAL NOWACKI: Marshal, we’ve got the Seventh Armored Brigade in reserve. They could hit the breakthrough from the flank.

SMYGŁY-RYDZ: We’ll need the Sixth Corps to support them on the left.

STAFF COLONEL: They’re in OK position for that.

Corporal Filip PRZYBYL, the headquarters Administrative assistant, enters the command post and salutes.

PRZYBYL: Marshal, the MInister of Social Justice has arrived .

(The officers groan)

SMYGŁY-RYDZ: Show him in.

(Social Justice Minister Evgeny LYBRZELSZ enters the room and doffs his French-style top hat)

LYBRZELSZ: Marshal Smygły-Rydz? I’m told you’re planning a counterattack against the Germans.

SMYGŁY-RYDZ: Well..yeah, The Niemcy attack threatens Poland’s very existence.

NOWACkI: If they break past Poznan, there is no obstacle between them and Warsaw.

LYBRZELSZ: We can’t launch the attack.

SMYGŁY-RYDZ: (Stops short, dumbfounded) What now?

LYBRZELSZ: There is no humanitarian corridor for German civilians.

(As an air raid siren goes off in the background, the officers stand, agog).

NOWACKI: What on earth are you talking about?

LYBRZELSZ: Attacking the Germans when there’s no allowances for humanitarian aid to German civilians is immoral.

SMYGŁY-RYDZ: This is a literal threat to our existence, by a nation that’s completely mobilized for war.

LYBRZELSZ: So you are committing genocide against Germans.

Entire room falls silent. The sound of bombs in the distance swells.

SMYGŁY-RYDZ: So, see to the destruction of Poland, then

LYBRZELSZ: What are you, a bigot?


Bloodland Sausage

SCENE: Mitch Berg is dumping flashings from pick up truck at the county yard waste site. Bill Gunkel, former Republican who is now chairmain of the Inver Grove Heights chapter of “Former Republicans for Ron Paul”, pulls up next to him, towing a trailer full of leaves.


BERG: Hey..

GUNKEL: Shut up. You eternal war people have really stepped in it with Ukraine.

BERG: Not sure I’ve actually stated an opinion about…

GUNKEL: You know that the Ukrainians are Nazis, right?

BERG: There are some peolple who identify as Nazis, that’s true. In a country of forty million people that was brutalized by the Commuists within living memory, you’re going to find people who equate “Nazi” with “anti-communist”.

GUNKEL: So you’re OK sending money to Nazis?

BERG: Not sure that I said anything of the sort…

GUNKEL: You’re OK supporting Nazis, at all?

BERG: Let’s accept the fact there is a small minority of Nazi symps in Ukrainian society.


BERG: How do you suppose it compares with the number of Stalinists in Russian society?


BERG. Stalinists. Symps of Josef Stalin, most murderous dictator in European history.

GUNKEL: Never heard of him.

BERG: Huh.

GUNKEL: But was he a Nazi?

BERG: Uh…no…

GUNKEL: So – Ukraine, Nazis.

BERG: Right.



Someone walks up to you with a baseball bat. They say they want to kill you.

Your response is “no, I don’t want to get beaten to death with a baseball bat”.

Looks like you have a standoff. A controversy. A conundrum.

Someone else steps in and asks “How about we compromise? Will you settle for a traumatic brain injury?”

It’s the middle way, after all. The guy with the bat might even say “sure, I just wanna hit you, hard!“

You might respond “No – in fact, I don’t want anyone hurting me in any way. At all”

And the buttinski responds “Why won’t yiou compromise?”

Who’s right?


The guy with the bat?

Or the person striving to find the middle ground between the two of you?

If your response is “I’m putting my foot down; nobody is hitting me with a bat for any reason at all“, and the other to ask “why do you hate the guy with the bat?“, does that change anybody’s mind?

Point being, sometimes the middle path, the compromise, is not the most moral path forward.

22 Years

It’s been 22 years since the 9/11 attacks. We have an entire generation, and are starting a second, that has no memory of the event.

Last year, or maybe in 2021, I despaired that the nation had not learned the necessary lessons from 9/11 – or, worse, had learned the wrong ones.

Or maybe our political class has succeeded in ignoring them. They were not, indeed, the ones that paid the price that morning in NYC, Washington or Pennsylvania, or in the two decades of war that followed.

Of course, entropy is real – especially when combined with a failing education system. Significant numbers of Americans don’t believe the Holocaust happened, to say nothing of having any serious knowledge about 9/11.

Either way – Barack Obama’s greatest triumph maty have been convincing a plurality of Americans that its greatest enemy was not from outside, but was America itself.

I’m going to recap something I wrote on this date 14 years ago, when the clear moral lens was fogged for different reasons.

Today is the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

You’ve heard a bit about it today, no doubt.  You’ve read a bit about it on this blog over the years.  Along with the fall of the Berlin Wall, it’s the single most pivotal event of my adult lifetime.

And, as my radio colleague/partner Ed Morrissey notes over at Hot Air today, his as well:

While New York City and Washington DC (and Shanksville, PA) are far removed from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, that really only mattered in our sense of impotence as the towers collapsed and the Pentagon burned.  We knew that the terrorists didn’t attack New York City for being New York City, or Washington DC for being Washington DC.  They had attacked America for being America — and that made it all local and personal.

Which is something some Americans – on all sides of our political “aisle” – have forgotten since then.  They didn’t attack cities, or coasts, or electoral blocs; they attacked America.  And all of America responded.

And continues to.

For me?  It wasn’t just an attack.  It was the world sinking back into some very bad habits.  I wrote this on March 11, 2002 – a month into this blog’s life, six months after the attacks.

I grew up in rural North Dakota, not far from the vast fields of Minuteman III missiles, close to the glide paths of the B-52 bombers,. all of which were on alert for my entire cognitive life. I was keenly aware of the presence of all of those first strike targets, forty miles away. And while I may have been one of a minority, growing up around all of that did affect me – there was a long-standing anxiety that my life and the entire world around me could be incinerated in seconds, or irradiated away, without warning.

The Berlin Wall fell about the time my oldest child was born. It would be easy and melodramatic to tell you that knowing my daughter would grow up in a world without that tension hanging over her was a wonderful, liberating sensation – but it’s the truth.

I was driving to work on September 11. I was on 394, by Xenia/Park Place. I’d just flipped over from KQRS’ interview with PJ O’Rourke to MPR’s live coverage of the attacks, without warning. And as the day wore on , and the shock sank in, that exhilaration – covered by the many other emotional layers of an adult’s life – sank away. The threat is different – but it’s still the same.So my kids are growing up in the same world I did, now. The threat is less omnipresent – I dont’ suspect the Twin Cities are high on any terrorist’s hit list – but more visceral. Maybe that’s a good thing – it’s harder for this threat to fade into the background of daily life.

Like Ed, I wanted to do something.  But I was a 38 year old newly-minted single father with a bum knee and a bad eye – not the kind of person the military was going to be bidding for.   I had no job skills the military needed, even as a civilian contractor (unless I got a PhD in usability and human factors – and that wasn’t going to happen). 

The blog was as close as I got to something remotely useful.  I started it five months after 9/11, the very day I learned what a “blog” was and how I could do one. 

But I changed some other things.  I’ve always loved shooting -and I got more diligent about it since 9/11.  I’ve come to believe it’s the duty of a law-abiding citizen to have the knowledge and means to defend themselves, their families, their communities and their freedom.  And while I don’t rationally believe there will be terrorists skulking through that shadows of Saint Paul, ever (even though “domestic terrorism” has bounced off the far corners of my life, once), the knowledge that I can pile a few of ’em up like cordwood if I need to helps with one of the most important things a human can do; replace fear with purpose.  It doesn’t matter if evil wears a turban, s**tkickers or anything in between; the ability to shoot it in the face equalizes a lot.  It’s not fear (I keep having to explain to lefties, who too often just don’t get it); it’s pre-empting fear.

I have also gotten more proactive about making sure government leads, follows or gets out of the way.  In the wake of 9/11, before the blog, I asked my kid’s principals, adminsitrators and other school officials “What would you do if, say, a tank car of anhydrous ammonia blew up at the Empire Builder yard, and a cloud of poison were heading toward the school?”  I was distinctly underwhelmed with their answers – but no moreso than those of the nameless bureaucrats at the World Trade Center who told everyone to stay in place.  I’ve marveled – and found immense comfort – in the stories that showed that Americans do maintain our tradition of not needing authority and officialdom to react properly to events, in ways big (United Flight 93’s passengers’ counterattack) and small but profound (the people in the WTC who organized their own orderly evacuation, long before the firemen got there; absent the thousands of office-dwellers who thought for themselves and took care of each other, the death toll would have been vastly higher). And as best I can, I’ve tried to bring my kids up with the idea that this nation,l it’s ideals, its people and its history, is something exceptional – even more worth defending than it is worth attacking.  Has it stuck?  We’ll see, I’m sure.

So on this eighth anniversary?  It’s a good time to remember. 

And head to the range.  And send the world’s scumbags a message. 

Actually a box of messages.


Reports of genocide against native children in Canada appear to be at least for now greatly exaggerated:

Four weeks of excavation work at a residential school in Canada reportedly failed to turn up evidence of mass unmarked burial sites, raising questions over the claims of widespread indigenous graves across the country.

Minegoziibe Anishinabe, an indigenous group also known as Pine Creek First Nation, has excavated 14 sites in the basement of a Catholic church near the former Pine Creek Residential School in Manitoba over four weeks this summer, but has yet to uncover bodies at the sites that were suspected of being possible burial locations of indigenous children, according to a report from Global News.

The work comes after ground-penetrating radar used at the sites detected what were described as “anomalies” at 14 locations in the basement of the church, part of a series of discoveries over the last two years in Canada that were reported to be “mass graves” of children who had attended the country’s residential schools.

There’s a significant part of the western left that’s disappointed.

Presumably Tweeted From Canada

To: Ben and Jerry’s
From: Mitch Berg, obstreporous peasant
Re: Performative Garment Rending Would Be A Great Flavor Name

Ben and Jerry,

You produce yet another product I’ve never bought, and being fairly strict keto, will not be buying any time soon, politics notwithstanding, so this note is of no real consequenes to either of us.

Sort of like the tweet below, in which you join the academic-nonprofit/industrial complex in its latest round of performative consequence-free virtue-signaling:

Then f***ing do it.

Liquidate your business. Give it back to the Abenaki tribe, the people who are indigenous to be area around Burlington, Vermont. All of it, down to the last dime.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenberg? Yep – back to Europe with you, where you can argue about who’s stolen what land dating back to the Romans and before, and be alarmed at how unconcerned anyone in Europe seems to be about the millennia of land-theft behind all the modern states.

After you move to Canada, of course. Which is also “stolen”, come to think of it…

Anyway – until you’ve done that, shut up. Seriously.

That is all.


I was a kid during the Bicentennial, 47 years ago today. Even so, I had some awareness of what was going on in the world – and it wasn’t great.

You didn’t need to be of voting age to know that the US and the West had been on a losing streak.

And so I pretty keenly remember how weird it felt, seeing the news break on this story – which I’d been following as closely as I could, given that I was limited to TV and newspapers. That unaccustomed feeling that the good guys won one .

The Usual Suspects

It’s become a fad among “progressive” circles to “acknowledge”, at the beginning of a meeting or gathering, that the meeting is “occurring on land stolen from…” the various tribes indigenous to Minnesota.

The meeting, run almost invariably run by plush-bottom laptop-class academic/non-profit/government complex yoohoos, then continues with no land, dignity or status returned to the tribes.

I strongly suspect this bit of theatrical institutional rending of theatrical garments is more of the same: the U of M is “acknowledging” its theft from the tribes.

Sort of:

DAN KRAKER: The TRUTH report released today delves into the details of how the university profited off of Native land and people. It concludes that the U’s founding board of regents, quote, “committed genocide and ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples for financial gain.”

And it shows how millions of in revenue derived from timber, minerals, and other resources from Native land were invested in municipalities around the state, but not in tribal communities. Shannon Geshick is executive director of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council. She says it’s the first report in which a major university critically examines its history with Native people.

SHANNON GESHICK: One part of me is really appreciative of the– I guess– courage of the university. But also the other part of me is like, it’s time. It’s important that other voices are heard, not only the dominant voice. The TRUTH project kind of just rips that open and really reveals a narrative I think that a lot of people just don’t know.

And what will this lead to (emphasis added)?

In recent years, the University has committed to acknowledging the past and doing the necessary work to begin rebuilding and strengthening relationships with tribal nations and Native people. Openly receiving this report is another step toward honoring that commitment. While documenting the past, the TRUTH report also provides guidance as to how the University can solidify lasting relationships with tribes and Indigenous peoples built on respect, open communication, and action. As we engage in the important discussions that will now follow, that guidance will be invaluable.”

Translation to English: Expect more lip service – and, of course, more taxpayer money transferred to the academic/non-profit/government complex, “Native Division”.