How the Civil War should have gone.

The Civil War was a major turning point in US History.  While it’s role in ending slavery is well known another factor is that it marked a shift in the relationship between the Federal government and the individual States.  This can be summed up by saying that before the Civil War we were “These United States”.  After it we were “The United States.”  Originally, the States were conceived of as separate sovereign entities that granted to the Federal government certain powers over them, mostly in the form of providing a “public face” to deal with the rest of the world.  After the Civil War, the States began taking on more and more subservient roles.

It was the simple fact of the assumption that the Federal Government had the power, not just “military might” but legal power, to keep a State (or group of States as it happened) in the Union against its will–a power nowhere granted to it in the Constitution–that was the prime mover of that change.

So what would we have without that?  If the right of a State to leave the Union was actually acknowledged.  How would things likely have gone?

  1. Acknowledge the States’ right to secede(should be a no-brainer given the 10th–there’s no language in the Constitution forbidding a State to leave the union nor granting the Federal Government power to retain a State against its will)
  2. However, Federal land still remains Federal since it was legally obtained.
  3. This requires negotiation and possibly payment for the repatriation of Federal Land to the South (for example, places like Fort Sumter).
  4. I do not think there is any way the South would have engaged in this. They would still have fired on Fort Sumter.
  5. At this point, we now have, not a rebellion, but a war between two sovereign powers.
  6. North (in this case the remaining United States) still wins. Only now, instead of reclaiming States, they have conquered a formerly sovereign nation.
  7. With the South as a conquered territory, we can establish whatever rules we like over it, including things like the abolition of slavery.
  8. The South is now a territory of the US to eventually (“when it’s ‘ready'”) be divided up into States to be re-admitted fully into the Union. Said new States may or may not match the original ones. There’s no particular reason why they must, but then no particular reason not too either.

And there we have it. Minimum violence done to the Constitution. Slavery still ended. And we’re still “These United States” rather than “The United States.” Furthermore, the Federal Government would have to limit itself to only those things which have an extremely broad consensus since the precedent would have been established that a State or group of States that became sufficiently dissatisfied could leave.

But Lincoln didn’t do it that way and the result is what we have.  At this point, I’m not sure if there is anyway to restore the “multiple laboratories of democracy”, a free nation of largely independent States freely trading with each other and relying on the Federal government primarily, if not strictly, for simply dealing with the world at large (whether diplomatically or militarily).

Which, frankly, is a great pity.

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Yankee

With apologies to Rudyard Kipling.

Yankee

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-hats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Yankee this, an’ Yankee that, an’ “Yankee, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Doodle”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Doodle”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Yankee this, an’ Yankee that, an’ “Yankee, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special plane for Doodle” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special plane for Doodle” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Yankee this, an’ Yankee that, an’ “Yankee, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin green line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin green line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin green ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Yankee this, an’ Yankee that, an’ “Yankee, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Eagle’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Yankee this, an’ Yankee that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Yankee this, an’ Yankee that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Yankee ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Yankee sees!

And let me add:

It’s Yankee this, and Yankee that, and Yankee you’re a bore
But it’s please to come and save us, when the guns begin to roar.

But that’s okay.  You need us a lot more than we need you.

A Big Thanks to the Democrats.

No, really, hear me out.

Back when Trump was running, I noted that he’d been historically pretty left wing.  He was a big fan of the Kelo decision (where the government could take property from someone for “public use” with that “public use” to be to hand it to someone else on the grounds that the someone else would pay more taxes).  He’d long been a fan of gun control.  He’d made some overtures of being otherwise but even during his campaign, after the Pulse Nightclub shooting he was all about how to restrict/ban so-called “assault weapons.” He’s on record as a fan of “Red Flag” laws.  His words were “Take the guns first, due process later.” He is also a fan of “no fly, no buy”.  You get put on a “watch list” by some bureaucrat and not only are you forbidden from flying, but you’re also forbidden from exercising other constitutionally protected rights?  The very existence of a “no fly” list is problematic.  Using it to deny other rights just doubles down on that.

And he was all about making deals.  After all, “The Art of the Deal” was the title of one of his books.

The Democrats could have come in, made offers, received counter-offers, and made deals.  They could have gotten a lot of what they wanted because Trump is all about making deals.

However, they didn’t do that.  Instead, they went complete scorched earth.  “Russian Influence”! “The election wasn’t legitimate!” “Overturn it.” “Put Hillary in.” “Have the Electors choose Hillary despite what their states voted!” “25th Amendment” (thus proving they didn’t read past the first part, or rather hoped you hadn’t).  “He’s a new Hitler.” “This is just like The Handmaid’s Tale.” Impeach.  Impeach.  Impeach.  (And, somehow, instead of President Pence, this is supposed to lead to President Hillary?  Constitution?  What Constitution?)

And, as time progressed, instead of settling down, recognizing that, yes, Trump was President and they would have to work with him if they wanted to get anything from their wish list, they kept doubling down.  Indeed, he gave them something they wanted (a small something), for literally nothing in return, with the Bump Stock Ban.  Yep, Trump implemented more gun control than Obama managed in eight years.  But, still double down and double down and double down on the Democrats part.

In the end, it didn’t matter how willing Trump would have been to deal.  The Democrats took that completely off the table.  They left him little choice but to either resign (which wasn’t going to happen) or go hard line the other way.

So, thank you Democrats.  You’ve done more to hold back the tides against personal liberty than anyone since, um, well, since before my lifetime.

And you did it all on your own.  It was a purely unforced error on your part.

Thank you.

 

The Mills of the Gods: A Blast from the Past

Nothing needs to be changed from when I posted on this site about two years ago except maybe it’s even more emphatic.

Folk who know me know that I am not a Trump supporter.  I have not been a Trump supporter.  I simply think that he has proven to be better than the alternative we could have had.

Going into the election I had no reason except the word of someone who admitted that you couldn’t trust his word and that everything he said was “just flexible suggestions” as to his being any better than Hillary.  I was able to cite five, possibly six, of the Bill of Rights that he was willing to violate in order to get what he wanted.

And people cheered this.

Still, since then he has proven to be better than I expected and farbetter than I feared, especially in appointing, and getting confirmed, a Supreme Court justice that actually considers the Constitution to be the Supreme Law of the land rather than something to “get around”.

So.  I was wrong.

That said, I keep running into people who are insist on only voting for the “perfect” candidate.  “The lesser of two evils is still evil” is a common watchcry and that doing so is simply a somewhat slower slide into tyranny.

The flip side is that voting for the “perfect” (from my perspective–I expect yours would be somewhat different) candidate when that candidate can’t even get the support of 2% of the voters is a quicker slide into tyranny.

I like the metaphor that Neil Gaiman used for his career.  It’s like a mountain in the distance.  And as long as I can keep moving toward that mountain I’ll eventually get there.  Don’t try to do it all at once.  That will fail.  But I can get a little bit closer than I am now.  Then, from this new position, look to see if I can get a little bit closer from that.  And then again.  And so on.

By this chart (let’s see if this works)–

 photo politicalpositions_zpsa955ecf4.jpg

–I’m a pretty much a Paelo-Conservative/Classical Liberal.  Some infrastructure things (roads on the chart) I think are appropriate for government, others not.  On the flip side I’m of mixed feelings about education so between them I figure it’s pretty much a wash and the “Paleo-Conservative” label fits fairly well.  Add in that with “health care” and that things like with infectious diseases other folks actions, or inaction, threaten me and it gets a bit complicated.  But still, Paleo-Conservative is probably pretty close.

But look at where we are now.  We’re so far from that “goal” that the Hubble couldn’t see it.  If I had a true Paleo-Conservative candidate to run for office, it’s extremely unlikely he could win (even in a fair election, never mind when the other side(s) cheats).  And if, by some miracle, he (or she) did win, there is simply no way I’d get a paleo-conservative Congress to go along.  Republicans, the so-called “right wing” aren’t even close to that paleo-conservative position.    Consider, repeal and replace Obamacare, while keeping things like the pre-existing condition mandate (regardless of how economically unsupportable it is)?  Despite how much the media makes of the issue it’s really a matter of “modern conservative” and “modern liberal” have both moved a bit outward on the chart.

There’s a concept called the “Overton Window“.  Basically, it’s an expression of the idea that people in general are risk averse.  They’re used to the situation that they find now.  Big changes from that are risky so most people aren’t going to support big changes.  The changes that are made at any given time have to be modest or people will reject them.  (Note also that this tendency toward risk-aversion is why the left, with its promises of security, has had such success, but that’s a topic for another day.) So, we have to pick modest goals and focus on them piece by piece, in an incremental approach, to have any expectation of success.

So, I’m not going to get paleo-conservative, not in terms of national, or even State policy.  But I might get somebody a little bit closer than we are now.  And if I can get that, then the next cycle, maybe I can get somebody a little bit closer than that.  And a little bit closer the next time.  And the same shifting “Overton Window” works here.  As government becomes less intrusive, less restrictive, less all-encompassing, why people can get used to that too, just as they have motion the other way.

The problem, of course, is the other side is doing the exact same thing.  So not only do I have to try to move in the direction I want, I have to resist their effort to move back the other way.  And if I’m not strong enough to prevent that adverse movement, I have to at least slow it down, try and put myself in a position to strike back when I am stronger (or when they’re weaker).  And that might sometimes mean trading.  When you can’t hold everything against a strong opponent then you have to pick your battles.  You might have to give up ground in one area in order to gain or hold ground in another.

People tell me “compromise doesn’t work.” Actually, the cases they site are excellent examples of how very well it does work.  It’s just that it’s been a weapon used against us.  Conservative/libertarian types are like folk sticking to single shot rifles to “not waste ammo” while the other side has been using repeating rifles and machine guns.  Win small concessions, then use that new position as a springboard to win more.  Repeat until you’re where you want to be.  It’s a tactic that works.  So far, it’s worked for our enemies.  Maybe it’s time for it to work for us.

So look at that mountain.  What can we get that moves us closer to the mountain, even if only a little bit?  Get it.  And then keep the pressure on.

The mills of the gods grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.

Keto Chow

I don’t usually do product endorsements–the occasional review of a book or the like but that’s about it.  This, however, was something different.

First I saw the ad on the Book of Faces.  It was a scream:

Since I’m going very low-carb in my diet (not, strictly keto–I allow myself a bit more carbs than true keto calls for) I thought I’d give it a try.

I got the starter pack.  It included the “blender bottle” and a selection of flavors in single serving pouches.  Normally it comes in larger bags with a scoop to measure out individual servings.  It had chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, snickerdoodle (yes, really, snickerdoodle), mocha, and salted caramel.

You start by adding your fat to the blender bottle.  Options for that include heavy cream, avocado oil, or what have you.  I used heavy cream since I happened to have it to hand.  The amount you add varies depending on what your caloric goals for the day are.  In my case, a half cup of heavy cream was appropriate.  Then you add the powder and top it with about 14 oz of water.  I don’t think it’s horribly critical how much water you add–more or less will just make the resultant shake thicker or thinner.  For me I just mostly fill the bottle and call it close enough.

There’s this wire “whisk” ball that goes in the blender bottle.  You shake, the ball rattles back and forth helping mix it.  Then you put it in the refrigerator.  They say leave it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour and recommend overnight.  This works out well for me because I make it in the evening to use it the next morning for breakfast on my way to drop off my daughter at school and go to work.

As breakfast they’ve been filling.  Indeed, surprising for something you drink, they’ve kept me filled until lunch time so less snacking than before.  Every one I’ve tried so far has been quite tasty including the mocha which was another surprise.  Mocha–chocolate and coffee as I understand it–I was really expecting to dislike. Generally, I despise coffee. Raised without coffee so never acquired a taste for it while young and the few times I tried it in the years since begin at “revolting” and go down from there.

Still, I didn’t want to waste the packet if I could avoid it so I thought I’d at least give it a try–but on the weekend. That way if I couldn’t stand it and ended up pitching it, I would still be able to fix something else for the morning (and not be, say, out of time before I had to head out the door to work. Turns out it wasn’t bad at all. The sweet and chocolate mostly dominated, with the “coffee” adding just a bit of an edge to it. So…not bad at all.

Looking at the prices of the various flavors, it looks like it comes to about $3.00 per “meal”–some a little more, some a little less depending on flavor–plus the cost of your fat.  Maybe not quite as cheap as cooking bacon and eggs or what have you for breakfast, but worth it, I think for the convenience factor.

So, I approve.

“It says ‘Well-regulated'”

People keep making this ridiculous argument that the wording of the 2nd Amendment permits the government to put any and all restrictions on the possession (keeping) and carrying (bearing) of firearms (arms) so long as someone, somewhere is allowed to keep something, even if it’s only a tethered cork popgun.  Any such restrictions are not an “infringement” because “well-regulated.”

Freedon loving people, when faced with that, often argue the meaning of “militia” and “well-regulated” as understood by those who wrote the 2nd Amendment, but the flaw in the argument is much more basic than that.  The problem is, simply put, that in no case except the 2nd Amendment itself would a sentence with that grammatical structure be interpreted in that way.

“A well-read electorate, being necessary to the wise exercise of the franchise, the right of the publishers to print and distribute books, shall not be infringed.”

Who has the right to print and distribute books?  The electorate or publishers? (Note, I’m not asking who should, or who only does, simply who the sentence says has the right.

“A system of voluntary exchanges regulated by prices, being necessary to the most efficient allocation of scarce resources which have alternative uses, the right of businesses, to engage in trade, shall not be infringed.”

Who has the right to engage in trade?  Businesses (Same caveat as before)?  Or system of voluntary exchanges regulated by prices?

“Sweetened condensed milk, being necessary for a good key lime pie, the right of farmers to keep and raise cows shall not be infringed.”

Who’s right of keeping and raising cows is being asserted?  Sweetened condensed milk?  Or farmers.

“the shipping of goods and services across the country, being necessary for a healthy economy, the right of people to move freely, shall not be infringed.”

Who has the right to move freely?  Shipping of goods and services?  Or the people?

In any of the above cases the literate individual would consider the first “option” ridiculous.

Likewise: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people, to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Who has the right to keep and bear arms?  A well-regulated militia?  Or the people?”

Clearly, unquestionably, and brutally, the answer is “the people.” The only reason an argument otherwise is even brought up is that some people want so desperately for it to be otherwise.  They want to restrict private ownership of firearms, with outright prohibition as the end goal as many leaders of the movement have stated often enough, but they know they haven’t got the support to actually amend the Constitution.  So they grasp at any straw, no matter how ridiculous, to try to claim that their restrictions are allowed.

And they repeat it often enough that people start to believe it.

Advice

People, all through my life, have always been giving me advice.  Some of it has been good.  Some…not so much.  Some of the “not so much” I recognized as a bad idea.  Others, I had to learn the hard way.

Here are a few examples of the “not so much” generally having to do with the issue of social interaction and dealing with others.

Any advice that begins with “It’s simple” or includes the word “just” as in “you just…”

Look, folks.  As much as some folk might like to claim otherwise, I’m not stupid.  If it really were “simple” or a matter of “just” I’d already be doing it.

However, in many ways my mind doesn’t quite work the same way as most people’s do.  Things that are simple and/or obvious to you aren’t necessarily so to me and your “simple” usually has a whole collection of prerequisite skills or knowledge (lacking of specific knowledge/understanding is not the same thing as “stupid”) that you’ve internalized to such an extent that you don’t have to think about them.  Like the centipede walking: it doesn’t have to think about where to put each of it’s multitudinous feet; it just does.  Or when someone is riding a bike.  They don’t think about gyroscopic precession, conservation of momentum and angular momentum, and how these things interact with control inputs to right the bike when it starts to go over one way or the other–you just do it…once you’ve learned how.  But that complexity is there, lying in the background, and largely forgotten by the time someone is trying to teach riding a bike to others.  Indeed, that complexity is such that you can’t learn it by thinking it through.  You have to learn it at a “muscle memory” level or it’s not going to work.

Much like the “it’s simple, you just…” advice.

“Ignore them.  They’ll get bored and go away.”

Advice on dealing with bullies.  Let’s just say that it didn’t work.  It hasn’t worked for anyone I ever knew who received that advice.  Has it ever worked for anyone?  What did work (more or less) was “learning martial arts”. Quotes because…well, there was no Mr. Miyagi in my neighborhood so I ended up “learning” from books with a friend or two that I could practice with.  Some people saw one of the practice sessions and that was enough to get the physical bullying to stop–the impression that I might actually know something was enough to get that to stop.

The mental and emotional however?  That was a whole other ballgame and continued until I got out of that environment entirely.

Does that “ignore them. They’ll get bored and go away” actually work for anyone? Why do people give that “advice”?

“If you want to be attractive to women you need to start wearing bright colors.”

I wish I remember who told me that.  At least I knew enough to avoid jarring, conflicting, clashing colors, or over-the-top eye searing prints.  I was told this at a time when I was staring to find a darker aesthetic personally appealing.  I didn’t then think “goth” because, well, goth was just starting to become a thing (and I’m not sure the term had even been adopted for the music and subculture yet).  Being unreservedly heterosexual and definitely interested in the female of the species, this was an important issue to me.  And, so I took that advice hook, line, and sinker (pretty much all the way up to the bobber.)

Here’s the thing, it didn’t work.  Not only did I have any more “luck” with women (and, to be honest, I wasn’t looking for “hook ups” or even short-term “flings”–I wanted then what I want now, a serious, long term relationship with someone I care about and who cares about me) than when I was wearing darker tones, but I was always faintly uncomfortable in this brighter colored look.  But I’d internalized the advice so thoroughly that I never really understood why I was so uncomfortable.  It was just a vague, unspecified dissatisfaction.

In recent years, I was introduced to the goth subculture and while parts of that aren’t a terribly good fit, other parts are.  And, yeah, my social life really isn’t any better than it was before but at least I’m more comfortable within my own skin.

So, while the advice may not have done harm on the actual purpose for which it was given, it also did no help.  But beyond the intended purpose it did do harm on other issues leading me to spending more years more unhappy and dissatisfied with life, than they needed to be.

“It’ll happen when you stop worrying about it.”

Again on the subject of love and romance.  This was folk in my church mostly, when I would get frustrated at seeing friends and acquaintances “pair up” and here I am…alone.  I’m sure it was meant well but…

ARE YOU ON DRUGS?

Look, I’m an extreme introvert.  Perhaps I don’t come across that way in my online persona on this blog, but in “meat space” that is definitely the case.  The activities I engage in on my own are highly solitary.  And those few that actually do get me out and about are…let’s just say they are not a target rich environment.

If I didn’t have the motivation of “worrying about it” I would never leave the house and certainly would never be in a situation where I would be at all likely to meet, let alone interact with, unattached young women (or not so young given my current age–the situation really hasn’t changed from when the advice has first given).

“Just engage in activities you enjoy.  That way when you meet someone you’ll have at least that in common.”

This is a twofer.  See above.  The activities I enjoy (you know…reading ranks high on that) are not conducive to “meeting someone.” And the very few things I do engage in outside the house are not things where unattached women are likely to be found (at least not in my experience).  Married and otherwise “attached” couples, yes.  Single?  Not so much.  And about that “just”…

So, there are some of the howlers of advice I’ve received over the years.  What are some of yours?