A House Of Ideas

Americans are funny people.  Yeah, okay, I’m including myself.  I think I fit in that just by virtue of my mother saying when I was about fourteen “I’m very worried about her.  She takes ideas too seriously.”

America too takes ideas too seriously.  Part of it is that we are a nation of ideas.  We exist on no other foundation than the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  There are no ties of blood between the lot of us – well, some, but no more than between most humans – and there certainly are no ties to the land, even if some of us have some percentage of blood that goes back very far on this continent.  (And some just have high cheekbones.)

But we do have the Constitution and the Declaration of independence, so we’re all kin through those ideas.  To an extent that makes us unique.  To another extent that makes us uniquely vulnerable.

Sometime before the election, my friend Stephen Green pointed out that the French have had – in the last 250 years – a divine-right monarchy, an empire, a republic, an occupied republic, and now a republic again.  They’ve been socialist, more socialist, another color of–  Okay, never mind.  But through it all they have remained French.  Their national integrity and identity is not shaken and is not moved.  Because being French is being linked to other Frenchmen by greater ties of blood than to anyone else around.  Being French is being tied to the land area of France.  If you ask “what is France” people will point to the region on the map.  (And before all the would-be amateur historians come in and point out what we call France is a collection of what used to be rather independent tribal identities and that some of it still persists – yes, yes, I KNOW.  I studied all this when I studied French literature.  But those tribal identities still had come communality and were still tied to the land that became part of France.)  The real threat for this type of nation is immigration (which France has faced with the Portuguese and now from Arab countries.  All things considered Portuguese was less of a threat.  After all most of them were from the Northern regions, which were freed from the Moors by French crusaders – and given how most French crusaders behaved — they were at the most somewhat distant cousins.  Not that the French see it that way.)

Yes, I do realize that if you ask anyone what is America, they’ll point to the map.  But that’s neither strictly true nor… Okay, that’s confusing the kettle with the tea.  America possesses a land mass (which has changed over time, usually to expand) but it is not a land mass.  The people who inhabit this land are not Americans because they happened to be born here – yes, I know,  but yet the law can be an ass – they are Americans because they were born to the equality under the law, the right of speech, assembly and representation granted to Americans.  Change the system and America stops being America.  An American monarchy means in effect the end of the grand experiment.  It means that government by the people for the people has perished from this world.

A communist America would be no better, because communism, for all its loud clamoring of being a system for and by the people, is in fact an oligarchy of clerics – government by “intellectuals” imposing an idea that ignores human nature.  Even where it’s brought in by free and open election (I have a vague idea this happened somewhere, but d*mned if I can remember where.  It is sometimes brought in by rigged election, but that’s a talk for another day) it can only persist by rigged election and force, because people aren’t that stupid and know starvation when they experience it.

Also, communism does not grant equality under the law.  It grants (in theory, okay?  I know that always, some animals are more equal than others) equality of results.  (This was the same promise of the French revolution, and ultimately the reason the streets ran with blood.  The way communism stops the perpetual killing is by having bureaucrats the arbiters of what is “equal” and not letting the common man have a say.  This ultimately means that the bureaucrats have to be compensated by their extraordinary effort and… yeah.  Some animals are more equal than others.)

So a communist America would also not be America.  Oh, we’d still have the same land mass, and the same population, but the ideas that created this country would be dead except in the hearts of a few of us.

This is why Americans get so upset at things like the top-down imposition of government health care mandates.  The leftists who whine “But France has a pony, why can’t I have a pony?”  besides looking at the fact we’ve been protecting France’s *ss for more than fifty years, allowing it to spend its money on candy and ponies, should take a good look at our founding documents.  It’s impossible to apply “universal health care for free” without a) enslaving doctors, who will be conscripted to work at a fee they do not choose, at someone else’s command.  That violates their liberty, not to mention their pursuit of happiness.  b) violating people’s conscience and religious rights as we’re seeing with Catholic institutions being forced to pay for procedures they consider a sin (and do not – DO NOT – tell me single payer solves that.  My taxes would still go to pay for things I consider sins.) c) making the individual subject to the state and to the utility the state ascribes to the individual.  I.e. the state can decide keeping you alive costs too much money given your marginal utility.  Which violates your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

So, in effect, a law that might just be a bad idea – and OMG, it is! – in other countries, in the United States violates the very essence of what it means to be an American.  Which is why we get so upset.

This is also why other countries tend to get all confused about “American patriotism.”  You see, they’ve been taught – I KNOW, I grew up there – that any form of nationalism is suspect and it leads to wars.  In a way they’re right, sort of.  The Nationalism one experiences in Europe is a form of tribalism writ large, and it CAN lead to wars, usually when the country is afflicted with a highly dysfunctional government that can’t provide for its people, and therefore decides to steal from the next country.  It is easy to excite national hatreds when a nationality is tribal.

American patriotism is of a different order.  It is awareness that we are a thing quite new, a nation of ideas, a strange animal upon the Earth.  We’re patriotic because we believe in our founding document.  We’re not particularly interested in making sure everyone else believes in our founding document, because how hard would it be to process half of the world population through the INS?  People would become grandmothers in line.

We do intervene abroad, yes.  I knew you’d bring that up.

You see, the US while a different bird, still lives in the flock of nations.  (And if you pronounce that without an l and put a cluster before it, you have the right idea.) One way Americans born and raised tend to fail at getting international politics is that they don’t realize how unique America is.

I remember the poor dumb duckling going to Iraq to serve as a human shield for Saddam’s targets telling an equally credulous reporter that of course we shouldn’t be attacking Iraq, because a country that couldn’t provide clean water for its people could have no weapons.  (Syria.  The weapons of mass destruction went to Syria.  So all the leftists trying to do good work by telling us poor gobsmacked idiots that there were no WMDs will be deleted unread.  Contrary to leftist myth we didn’t drop on the benighted country like a thief in the night.  We went to the UN and we gave them THREE MONTHS to move weapons elsewhere.  That was a piece of idiocy.  If we were going in at all we should have dropped in like Sudden Death.  Y’all would whine, but you whined anyway.)

It never occurred to this pampered child of Western Civilization that nations might have weapons as a higher priority than the health and well being of its citizens.

In that sense, Americans often fail to “get” what other nations are doing.  They don’t get the “machismo” of nations based on tribal pride, who will go to war not in the interests of peace or freedom but in THEIR OWN INTERESTS and sometimes just to prove their d*cks are bigger than the next countries’.  Americans don’t do that, and Americans tend not to understand that other nations THINK we do that (which is obvious from any British reporting on American soldiers in the two World Wars.)  And the rest of the world tends to be utterly baffled by when and how we choose to intervene.

Frankly, I’m a little baffled, too, at times, because one wing of our country – the “pacifist” left – seems to think it’s okay to go to war provided we don’t get anything by it, or even provided it hurts us and our stand in the world.  This is because…

This is because we are a country divided against ourselves.

I’d like to say it started with agit prop by the USSR, and to an extent that’s true.  At least the systematic indoctrination and the slanting of media and entertainment to promote the idea that the US is uniquely bad and therefore should be punished DID start with agit prop by the USSR who realized the only way to take us was with a fifth column, from within.

But the truth is that this agit-prop worked because it linked in to a… ah… flagellant tendency in the American character.  Like ancient Israel – and I think because we too are a nation of belief – we tend to always have some number of people ready to blame anything that’s less than perfect on us not “cleaving perfectly” to our ideals.  There’s some number of lamenting Janes (particularly the males) always ready to beat their chests and start with the mea culpas.

These are the brilliant people who decided that, because the US institutionalized mentally ill people, and the USSR imprisoned political dissidents in mental hospitals, people in mental hospitals in the US MUST be “political dissidents” against the “capitalist system” which was what was making them act oddly.  These are the brilliant people who equate the Japanese internment during WWII (under, of course, Strong Man FDR, but never mind) with Hitler’s death camps.

The problem is that the agit prop of the USSR filtered into our education system and inflamed these flagellants, who then took over all our education, our media and our entertainment.

I’m not saying the US never did anything wrong.  Duh.  We are a nation composed of humans, not angels descended from above.  (The beauty of our system is that it works, more or less, with real people, not requiring angels.  Communism on the other hand…) We’ve made mistakes, sometimes grievous ones.

It is all right for our young people to be taught that.  That’s how you learn.  What is not all right – not acceptable in fact – is for them not to be taught that other nations have also committed errors and often outright crimes.  What is not all right is for them not to learn that under other forms of government (pretty much ALL of them) things are far, far worse.

What is not all right, is for them not to learn that if they disagree with our form of government, and if they want socialism, they have most of the Earth to go to, where those forms of government are IN FACT practiced.   It is not all right not to teach our children about the ideas in our founding documents, and not to tell them that if they want to live by those ideas, then they have the right to fight to keep them alive in this land, with these people.

Because if we lose them here, they’re gone everywhere.  And though there might still be some humans called “Americans” – the real America, the one that separated from England in order to live under the Constitution, will be gone.  Forever.  Or at least, until a lot of people are willing to give up their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honors to bring them back.

What is not right is not to tell our children that people who despise our Constitution and who want to grant people equality of results under the law should not be elected to positions of power.  It’s not that we think they’re bad people.  It’s because, regardless of where they were born, they are, essentially foreigners.

By hating the ideas that created America, they hate America and they hate all of us who want to live by those ideas.  By hating the ideas that created America and wanting to substitute their own, they want – in essence – to destroy that on which America is built.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.  And a house with a head of the family who despises it is not long for this world.

Teach your children well and dig in deep.  This is our last redoubt and it always was.  If we lose this we lose all.

We are a people of ideas and we must fight for those ideas.

 

193 responses to “A House Of Ideas

  1. ::applauds:: ::stands on chair and *cheers*::

    Excellent! We are united not by blood or soil, but because of ideas. And Liberty, like Christianity, is always one generation from extinction. Because it has to be *taught*.

    Well done, Sarah. Extremely well done — as always!

    • …Kitteh-Dragon, your quote equating liberty with christianity is brilliant. Thank you–very much! It helps explain why the major protestant denominations are in decline right now–they stopped “teaching” and started “governing.” /goes off to corner, happily munching foodstuffs for thoughts/

  2. This is also why other countries tend to get all confused about “American patriotism.” You see, they’ve been taught – I KNOW, I grew up there – that any form of nationalism is suspect and it leads to wars. In a way they’re right, sort of. The Nationalism one experiences in Europe is a form of tribalism writ large, and it CAN lead to wars, usually when the country is afflicted with a highly dysfunctional government that can’t provide for its people, and therefore decides to steal from the next country. It is easy to excite national hatreds when a nationality is tribal.

    I had nearly exactly this conversation with a friend of mine – an engineer – who’s a german national.

    • My European history supervisor believes that Americans cannot be nationalist. We have nothing to be nationalist about, according to him.

      • America is a nation of the heart and of the mind, not of the blood. There have been those who attempt to make it of “the Race” but that has never had a very large following.

        We hold certain truths to be self-evident.

      • Is that a compliment, or an insult? ::confused::

        *Jasini

        Facts are stubborn things, but not nearly as stubborn as fallacies.*

        On Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 2:36 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > ** > TXRed commented: “My European history supervisor believes that > Americans cannot be nationalist. We have nothing to be nationalist about, > according to him.” >

        • If he’s confused by us as my poor mother, who unwittingly (and would she have been horrified!) echoed Hitler when calling us a “mongrel people” (she couldn’t see any identifying characteristics!) probably both.
          Or as when my mom was complaining my older son is too large, too loud, too strong, too stubborn and said “Oh, you’re just so… so… American” — Robert answered slow and grinning “Why, thank you, ma’am.” Puzzled heck out of her.

          • Following the tremendous success of their Threepenny Opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and other musicals, in 1933 Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill found it desirable to leave Germany. Brecht moved East, Weill went West, eventually winding up in New York, where in 1938 he collaborated with Maxwell Anderson to produce the Broadway Musical Knickerbocker Holiday, about which Wikipedia advises:

            Knickerbocker Holiday is both a romantic comedy and a thinly veiled allegory equating the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt (whose ancestor is one of the characters on the corrupt town council) with fascism. As is apparent from the preface he wrote for the play, as well as the play and the songs themselves, Maxwell Anderson was a rugged individualist, but not a full-blown anarchist. Anderson believed that government was necessary in society, but that government must always be watched because government is just as selfishly interested as any of the individuals that compose it. He saw the New Deal as another example of the corporatism and concentration of political power which had given rise to Nazism and Stalinism.

            Best known for introducing September Song this play also provided an answer to the question: How can you tell an American?

            It is a matter of great sorrow to me that I am unable to provide Kurt Weill’s delightful music for this tune; in time I hope to and will send it directly to Sarah (I learned of the song via a delightful and now out of print OC Album for the revue Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill, A Musical Voyage (1972)). Here, with introduction, is the lyric, from the source noted:

            “Perhaps the best example of a real American tune is a song by immigrant Kurt Weill (music) and Maxwell Anderson (lyrics) from their 1938 show KNICKERBOCKER HOLIDAY. In it Washington Irving and Brom Broeck compare notes:”

            How Can You Tell An American?
            Has He Any Distinguishing Flavor?
            Could You Spot Him On An Elephant in Turkistan
            Or Floating On A Raft Fifty Miles At Sea
            As You’d Know A Single Leaf From The Sassafras Tree
            By It’s Characteristic Savor?…

            It isn’t that He’s Black or White
            It isn’t that he Works With Tools
            It’s only that it takes away his appetite
            To live by a Book of Rules.

            Yes, it’s just that he hates and he damns all the features
            Of any mortal man set above his fellow creatures.
            And he’ll hate the undertaker when at last he dies
            If he hears a note of arrogance above him where he lies
            He does his own living, he does his own dying
            Does his loving, does his hating, does his multiplying
            Without the supervision of a governmental plan -And that’s an American!

            http://broadwaycafesociety.com/songarc0712.htm

      • He’s confused by the word not meaning the same it does in Europe.

        • He thinks in terms of 19th century European nationalist movements. He spends a lot of time in that millieu, so to speak, because his work focuses on economic history and the effects the different panics and collapses had on public and private life between 1815 and 1914. Romanticism + economic problems + nationalism + rising Socialism = a messy Europe.

      • Okay, so we’re not nationalists. We’re organized around an idea: we’re idealists.

  3. Teach your children well

    I do teach my children, but I’ll bet you won’t be pleased with what I teach them. I teach them to understand how the world works, to be flexible, to be resilient, to optimize their place within society given reality, and most of all, to not fight futile battles.

    God, give me grace to accept with serenity
    the things that cannot be changed,
    Courage to change the things
    which should be changed,
    and the Wisdom to distinguish
    the one from the other. …

    (I’m not religious, but I still like the above “Serenity Prayer”).

    • So essentially you’re saying that you are not a “principled” person; that you’re a moral relativist and think that one set of beliefs is as good as any.

      I used to vaguely ascribe to something like that, out of laziness. Then I started to actually *think* about what is required for a good society, and realized that there really are principles that matter, that make life better for everybody.

      And going along to get along and fit yourself in makes you part of the problem. It might be a long slow slide; it might be a sudden collapse. But if you don’t have principles that you believe in and fight for… I think that your life is grayer and more pointless.

      You seem to have an immediate emotional resistance to Sarah’s rhetoric. It makes me wonder why you’re posting…

      • I think Bret is a seminar caller.

        • A seminar caller?

          Not quite LOL, but definitely got a chuckle out of me. Other than this forum not being talk radio, Sarah not being Rush, and the fact that y’all have access to adequate parts of my identity (my blog for example) that you could confirm whether or not I’m a “seminar caller”, I can see why you might think my comments would be similar to what a seminar caller might write.

          But what organization do you suppose would take the time and effort to train operatives for the purpose of infiltrating accordingtohoyt? Accordingtohoyt only became a blog that started doing political posts last week. Surely you don’t think the forces of darkness can react quite that quickly?

          • Seminar caller was RES’s term. I researched it.

            Uh… I’ve been on blogs for ten years. It’s amazing where, as you put it, the forces of darkness (and they are — and mind you the side you often take. And no, I don’t even mean religious) will go and how small a place they’ll bother with.

            • Some people take things a mite literally, don’t they? I suppose you think “black sheep” refers to an ebon ovine?

              The term was a jocular reference to a personality type, and a mode of approach to a forum. As the saying goes, you could look it up. Who knows, you might learn something.

              But, as you ask, there are reports of trained trolls unleashed (and paid) to disrupt conservative fora, not necessarily targeting any individual one. Do I believe such reports? Not necessarily. What people do for free is even more astounding than what they will do for money.

              • Oy, yes. They do it for the sense of intellectual superiority, which of course makes me think of Heinlein’s comment about lizards.

              • It’s not just the conservative sites that have this happen to them; we Hillary Clinton Dems (centrists, most of us) saw a lot of crap thrown at us in ’08 because we didn’t like the way the Obama campaign had maneuvered things to benefit themselves (on 5/31/08, there was an infamous meeting of the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the DNC; the Obama supporters won things like “half-votes” for two states where people had gone out to vote in good faith, Florida and Michigan; 4 delegates of Mrs. Clinton’s were taken away in MI altogether for no reason I could ever figure out, and all the “uncommitted” went to Obama even though Obama had taken his name off the ballot and there were other candidates besides Obama and HRC running at that time, John Edwards to name just one). And don’t even get me started on the ’08 Democratic National Convention or I’ll be here all night.

                All that said, there are people of good will in both major political parties and many of the minor ones like the Greens and Libertarians, etc. The problem isn’t with people who think and feel and want to teach American Government in the schools and teach critical thinking, too — the problem is with anyone who wants to teach people to follow uncritically behind.

                We Americans are born of a country that not only is supposed to tolerate dissent, but thrive on it. And because of that, we definitely should remember not only our origins, but the benefits of being brought up in a country where we’re supposed to learn how to think and make decisions for ourselves. (The problem comes in when we abrogate that thought process to others.)

                All that said, I’m not for underfunded/unfunded mandates and I’m not for the idea of doctors having to come up with these portable medical health care records out of whole cloth or get fined. (That’s an unfunded mandate by any standard.) We do need affordable health care in this country and we have a whole host of problems when it comes to health care for low income people (we want more clinics and fewer people in hospital ERs, because the ER is expensive and the clinic is, by comparison, cheap; also, prevention is worth more than an ounce of cure, however I’m mangling that phrase at the moment).

                Most of my friends of every political persuasion agree that there should be health care for low-income people and most cringe at the thought of the people cheering the hypothetical death example in one of last year’s Republican Presidential debates. But the way to go about it isn’t by an underfunded mandate, nor by insisting that everyone in the US buy health insurance. I think it’s actually by the way George W. Bush tried to go about it (even if in a lower-key way than ever got picked up on) — that’s to encourage cooperation and things like clinics that will give you shots in the pharmacy, or maybe diagnose a sinus infection.

                The problem lies partly with our politicians, which haven’t wanted to work together in at least twenty years; partly with our media, which doesn’t do a good job of explaining exactly what’s going on; and partly with people who get so upset at the thought that not everyone agrees with them (whatever it is) that they immediately shout down the opposition at the loudest possible volume imaginable.

                Then they wonder, those on the right or left, why the other side doesn’t agree or even listen or even *hear* them any more.

                And then the rest of us wonder why it is that nothing good gets done in this country. Because those of us who are trying to discuss the real issues — the fact that people like me, who are low-income, need to be able to have access to doctors and treatments (I’m willing to pay whatever I can afford and would gladly barter the rest; I’m not looking for a free ride in any way, shape or form) so we don’t end up getting cancer and then bankrupting the system during our eighteen months of extremely high-priced health care . . . when maybe a 15 minute, much more inexpensive test three years prior would’ve saved us all a lot of grief, much money, and an important and intelligent life. (Not that I have cancer nor plan to have it. But life is short, people. I know that full well, having lost a wonderful husband and a truly gifted best friend, besides. We need to work together at some level, at least to agree to listen to one another and not insist that the other side is always wrong. And if our politicians refuse to do so, we need to elect new ones until we get a few who will get with the program and actually listen to us rather than assume we’re wrong and they’re right from deep inside the DC Beltway media echo chamber.)

                • Barb, I clearly recall the reports of Obama’s supporters thuggishly occupying caucuses and forcibly keeping Hillary’s supporters out. The Democrats’ reliance on caucuses over primaries for delegate selection is evidence of a trait of character undesirable in this nation.

                  For many on Left & Right (more on the Left these last 40 years as the Democrat Party has been taken over by the heirs of the SDS, but they congregated on the Right back when) their interests do not permit any kind of dissent from orthodoxy. Rather than develop superior arguments they seem prone to shouting down their opponents.

                  • Republicans did caucuses for the first time ever in Nevada last year– imho it was a failure. Many of our seniors, disabled, and otherwise were unable to attend. (myself included– I am not allowed to be in large groups for a large amount of time–ever– because my immune system is suppressed). What happened is that there were less people who attended those things.

                    Many REPs complained that they already knew who they wanted to vote for and would felt that the caucuses were designed for peer pressure. It was not a fun process– I heard.

                  • RES, I definitely agree with you about caucuses. I do *not* like them. I do not find them representative, and I think they can be easily subverted (if not outright suborned).

                    And yes, I agree with you about the propensity of the hard left to shout down opponents. I think it is about equal on left and right these days, which makes centrism harder and harder to manage as friends on either side shout at each other, and nothing gets done while more and more feelings of ill will build up.

                    One thing I liked about FDR’s time, and Teddy Roosevelt’s, too — newspapermen (and women, the few that were in the field at that time) were *expected* to use their brains. They were *expected* to criticize the President. And no one saw it as somehow “disloyal” or “unAmerican” to do so.

                    There were things that FDR did — the attempted “packing” of the Supreme Court, for example — that were, by any standard, outrageous. (This despite the fact that I think most of what he did were good things, and that he was one of our better wartime Presidents.) People in his own party told him, “No.” Newspapermen told him, “No.” And the general population told him, “No.”

                    So what did FDR do? He backed off.

                    Whereas in 2009 and 2010, the President did not either explain himself or listen to anyone. There was one argument he could’ve used that would’ve made sense — that being that in Canada and Germany, etc., the cost of health care was being born by the government, and that high wage jobs hadn’t suffered — to get better health care available for low-income people, seniors, the disabled and other underserved populations. But the arguments that should’ve been made long before that one — things like making sure the contracts for Medicare and Medicaid were set out for competitive bids, that the cost of drugs shouldn’t be artificially high as it is now (due to an odd quirk in the law that states the government is forbidden, by law, to bargain for a better price in contracts; who in the Hell thought that up?) — were never made, either.

                    So we went from a health care system that had some serious cracks in it, but worked for many people, to a health care system that’s now almost completely broken even for those who still have insurance. People with insurance are paying higher co-pays and higher prices overall; how does this help anything?

                    So there were some good arguments on the R or Indy side, there, and that’s why the public responded. (That and then-Speaker Pelosi’s comment about how she wouldn’t know what was in the bill until it was passed.)

                    My view overall is that perhaps the President’s heart was in the right place, but the implementation of this new plan was botched from the start. We needed this plan to be overhauled. Some provisions are good, like keeping young adults on their parents health care plans (providing the parents have health care plans) until age 26. And getting rid of the pre-existing conditions clause and the lifetime caps — those were good things, too.

                    Just about everything else, though, should be up for discussion.

                    • I disagree with you, I don’t believe the President’s heart was even involved, much less in the right place. I will point out that some of us (like myself) don’t have health insurance by choice. If I need to go to the doctor or the hospital I’ll pay for it myself, but that will no longer be a choice for me, if I don’t get insurance I’ll be fined by the government, where is the freedom of choice in that?

                      Also the pre-existing conditions clause is there for a reason. If you have a pre-existing condition your medical costs are going to be much higher, this means the insurance company has to have a LOT more money coming in to cover you, unless they want to go bankrupt (which is what I believe the President wants, because then he gets his single payer system). Either that means they charge you a lot more for your insurance, don’t insure you, or charge everybody else more to pay for your medical costs. Why should HAVE to pay for your medical care? If I WANT to give to charity and help pay for your medical care that is fine, but again where is the freedom in forcing me to pay for your medical care?

                    • Sigh. It’s a power grab, it’s all it is. And even though I “benefit” from having the kids stay on our insurance, I wonder how sane this is. At 26 we’d been married a while and were paying for our own infertility treatment. Should we be infantilizing the kids that late.
                      As for chronic and pre-existing, well, no one was ever denied care and hospitals and doctors would work with you.
                      Also, on things like cancer screening, Ocare is screamingly bad — as in it removes annual mammograms (#waronwomen for real.) Also, I don’t know what overlap there is between “on welfare, chronically unemployed” and “hypochondria” but in my personal acquaintance it seems to be almost 100% Start with the doctors quitting because of this — don’t blame them. Unless you’re ALL true vocation, why would you volunteer to be enslaved? And how many are “true vocation”? I suspect as in other professions 50% tops — doctors who’ll never get in because of this. Add a mass of people who are going to clutter the system recreationaly and, in the border states, people who’ll cross over from Mexico for the day/week/month for the exam. Screenings? You’ll be lucky if you can get in to get a palliative for your pain as you’re dying.

                      If his heart were in the right place, he’d have done what he said he’d do and let the bill be read/discussed by the people. Instead they had to pass it to see what was in it.

                      Drop the blinders. This is not a good man. It’s a third generation communist (and communists were never good people) trying to cement his party’s rule over everything you do forever.

                    • Sarah: here’s the most succinct expression of what you’ve experienced in Portugal and what’s been reported in so many other places with socialized medicine, like Canada where two of their Supreme Court justices used it in a decision a few years ago:

                      Access to a waiting list is not access to medical care.

                      I’d add that for a whole lot of us Obamacare is an existential threat. Many of us don’t know that yet, they’ll have to get sick to find this out. Me, well, I’m glad all the drugs that keep me alive and somewhat functional have gone generic … but I also know there will never be a cure for my worst problem, there’s nothing in the pipeline (it’s a very hard problem) and new drug discovery will almost certainly be all but dead before one could make it all the way through the FDA.

                      I wonder if all the just about uniformly Leftist basic human biology and medicine researchers and their regulators realize there won’t be any point in keeping most of them employed once medical progress is terminated with extreme prejudice. Sure, some will be retained simply to give the appearance of health, and similarly its likely a few new drugs will come out, no doubt through special (read political) arrangements with the government, but otherwise it’s like the day the Superconducting Supercollider was canceled and MIT’s EECS undergraduate office had a line going out of it of physics majors switching into it (eyewitness report, BYW).

                    • well — I don’t have (that I know) chronic conditions, but I do have an “off-typical” body. I have to find doctors who are either mentally flexible or who are willing to let me do the research and bully them. Being treated by table of treatments that got best results for other people is short road to death for me.

                      Also, one side of the family gets cancer with startling frequency (and always dies of cancer.)

                      If this cluster… puppy holds much longer than my 60th birthday, I won’t last much further than that.

                    • Indeed. In many ways I’m very healthy, “normal” and respond to standard treatments (although not for sinus infections, I need 30 days at a high dose) and might expect to live as long as my ancestors. For example, both parents are in their late ’70s and at least my father, who I’m biologically very much like, looks, feels and acts like he’s in his ’60s; my mom’s also in good shape and her father died at 90 with only 2-3 years of not being there mentally. But there’s prostate cancer on both sides of the family; the worst is an unlikely roll of the dice, but lethal in the mid-60s.

                      And the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has graded the admittedly iffy prostate specific antigen (PSA) test with a “D” for “not recommended”. Well, we’d probably be burying my father in a few years if his PSA tests hadn’t suggested he get a biopsy last year. That’s the other side of the family, might not be an issue until I’m in my ’70s.

                      Anyway, I’m entirely willing and able to pay for yearly PSA tests out of my pocket. But the Accountable Care Organizations (AGOs) that doctors pretty much have to join aren’t supposed to like that path; hey, just like mammograms, PSA tests might result in biopsies that might result in treatment, and anyway, you might have died of something else before the cancer got you, many of them in retrospect turn out to be slow. As Obama himself said, “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

                      And doctors who deviate from the standard, normal paths are supposed to get punished by their AGOs (ignoring the half that are over 50, many of whom will just retire instead of betraying their oaths while going bankrupt); I too don’t any more particularly expect to live past another 10 years (I’m a couple of years older than you). I’m … displeased by that.

      • RuthR, I vote my principles, but I play the game as it exists. I see no principle that says (my children and) I shouldn’t pursue happiness within the constraints of the hand that’s dealt even if I wish the cards were shuffled differently.

        Within the political realm, my life is no doubt grayer and more pointless than those who have a strong passion for a political cause. Fortunately, I have other outlets for which I do have passion, so I don’t find my life particularly gray.

        • “If he love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that he were our countrymen.” — Samuel Adams

          Suck on that a while.

        • You, sir, are no engineer, no architect, no designer, no scientist, nor farmer. To limit your vision to the “constraints of the hand that’s dealt” is to limit your mind, your dreams, your heart, and your future, and accept the burdens others cast onto you.

          We’re Americans! We don’t pick choices off a list! We makechoices and add them to the list! No shrinking acceptance of fate for us, but a bright new future we will create!

          • You don’t admit that ruthless pragmatism is at times called for in any one given person’s life? Or have I confused the argument in some way? (Talking people as a whole. We have rough times. We then have to roll with the punches. Sometimes it takes a while to get up off the mat. But once you do, you have to do the best you can with the hand that you’re dealt. Sometimes that’s a terrible hand. But it’s all you’ve got.

            (That’s how I read Bret’s non-political part of his statement. I don’t really find much to argue with, there.)

            Back to the political argument, though. My thought is that Americans need to think critically about what’s going on all around us. We have to admit when there are failures of intelligence (we’ve seen it this year in the slaying of the Ambassador; we saw it in the early 2000s over the lack of WMDs in Iraq, so it happens to Presidents in both parties, as it always has). But we also should admit when something good happens that wouldn’t have happened without us, and that *rarely* seems to happen any more.

            I read Sarah’s blog because the publishing and writing stuff is interesting, yes. But I also read it because it often makes me think. I don’t have to think 100% the same way Sarah does to appreciate her reasoning, and if I did uncritically agree with everything, she should give me dirty looks six ways to Sunday because that’s not the way an intelligent American woman should handle herself.

            Sarah’s post here is extremely valuable because it points out a potential blind spot that many Americans who were born and raised here never, ever think about. I’m glad she’s here to point it out, and I think the discussion is extremely valid. (Many people chiming in, too.)

            This is my second post on the subject and probably will be my last, at least for tonight. But I am glad that so many different viewpoints are expressed, because I think there’s more than one way to be a good American — providing you don’t use your head for just a hat rack, and are willing to admit to your own mistakes.

            • BTW, I’ve read the whole thread now and see how Bret got people’s collective back(s) up. My thought only went to the first part of the non-political argument that he made; sometimes you do have to play a very bad hand.

              But in the US, at least you don’t have to pretend it’s a good hand or be shot on sight.

              Sarah’s point is well-taken.

            • If by “Ruthless Pragmatist” you mean somebody who is motivated solely by achievement regardless of means, then no, I don’t think there’s a place at my table for him. We all sometimes have to play a bad hand but the measure of a man is where he sets his boundaries, at what point he says “kill me, maim me, or imprison me, I won’t take another step down this road.” Principles, expressed through ethics, inform this. A man who stands inflexibly for principle above all might be a fool, but a man with no principles he is willing to be guided by is usually a monster in the end.

              • The best literary portrayal of a ruthless pragmatist of which I can think (although spoiled by subsequent saccharine story development) is Ebenezer Scrooge.

    • Futile battles? Like the American War for Independence, against the greatest military power on the Earth? Like the War of Southern Secession, splitting the Union over minor policy disagreements? Like the effort to stop the Nazi war machine which had overrun the great armies of Europe?

      Some would say the futile battles are the ones most in need of fighting.

      At 6:30:

      I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don’t know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for. And he fought for them once, for the only reason any man ever fights for them; because of just one plain simple rule: ‘Love thy neighbor.’… And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any other. Yes, you even die for them.
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031679/quotes?qt0268885

      Some people will never understand Human Wave, and most of those who do imbibed it with their mother’s milk.

      • Ummm, I didn’t say that I thought that all battles are futile!

        • No, you expressed you value your comfort more than your liberty, you expressed the view that battle should only be joined if confident of victory. For you to define futile requires an integrity you have most notably displayed the absence of; I cited (as have others) battles which were deemed futile by most of the world but which yet were fought.

          Certes, you would have joined the British in 1776 – their battle was not futile. When the line was drawn at Alamo would you not have crossed over to freedom rather than face death in futile defense of a worthless mission? When William Wallace sent out the call, wouldst you not have remained at home rather than stand with him at Falkirk?

          You insulted all here with your suggestion that we would displeased about your teaching your children

          to understand how the world works, to be flexible, to be resilient

          when it is only your lessons in how to bend the knee, to lick the hand, that we abjure.

          If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
          To do our country loss; and if to live,
          The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
          God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
          By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
          Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
          It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
          Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
          But if it be a sin to covet honour,
          I am the most offending soul alive.
          No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
          God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
          As one man more, methinks, would share from me
          For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
          Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
          That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
          Let him depart; his passport shall be made
          And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
          We would not die in that man’s company
          That fears his fellowship to die with us.
          This day is called the feast of Crispian:
          He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
          Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
          And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
          He that shall live this day, and see old age,
          Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
          And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
          Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
          And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
          Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
          But he’ll remember with advantages
          What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
          Familiar in his mouth as household words
          Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
          Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
          Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
          This story shall the good man teach his son;
          And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
          From this day to the ending of the world,
          But we in it shall be remember’d;
          We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
          For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
          Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
          This day shall gentle his condition:
          And gentlemen in England now a-bed
          Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
          And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
          That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

        • For the clarification of Bret: I did not accuse you of claiming all battles futile, so your “rebuttal” is faulty logic. What I was asking was what battles, deemed futile at the time they were engaged, would you have fought?

          But of course, with the benefit of hindsight it is easy to answer that. Even though you chose to dodge the question, which suggests what battles you would choose.

    • Futile battles? Do you do you teach your children by example? How do you determine what is truly futile?

      The Serenity Prayer? Ah yes, taken from a 1943 sermon of Reinhold Niebuhr:

      God, give me grace to accept with serenity
      the things that cannot be changed,
      Courage to change the things
      which should be changed,
      and the Wisdom to distinguish
      the one from the other.
      Living one day at a time,
      Enjoying one moment at a time,
      Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
      Taking, as Jesus did,
      This sinful world as it is,
      Not as I would have it,
      Trusting that You will make all things right,
      If I surrender to Your will,
      So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
      And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
      Amen.

      • En route to a specific quote I serendipitously discovered

        There are three lessons I would write, —
        Three words — as with a burning pen,
        In tracings of eternal light
        Upon the hearts of men.
        Have Hope. Though clouds environ now,
        And gladness hides her face in scorn,
        Put thou the shadow from thy brow, —
        No night but hath its morn.

        Have Faith. Where’er thy bark is driven, —
        The calm’s disport, the tempest’s mirth, —
        Know this: God rules the hosts of heaven,
        The habitants of earth.

        Have Love. Not love alone for one,
        But men, as man, thy brothers call;
        And scatter, like the circling sun,
        Thy charities on all.

        Thus grave these lessons on thy soul, —
        Hope, Faith, and Love, — and thou shalt find
        Strength when life’s surges rudest roll,
        Light when thou else wert blind.
        Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller — Hope, Faith, and Love (c. 1786); also known as “The Words of Strength”, as translated in The Common School Journal Vol. IX (1847) edited by Horace Mann, p. 386.

        by the same author, this definition of futile battle

        Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
        Against stupidity the very gods
        Themselves contend in vain.
        Exalted reason,
        Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
        Wise foundress of the system of the world,
        Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou,
        Bound to the tail of folly’s uncurbed steed,
        Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd,
        Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.
        Accursed, who striveth after noble ends,
        And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans!
        To the fool-king belongs the world.

        http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Friedrich_Schiller

      • How do you determine what is truly futile?

        This seems a bit nitpicky to me. I could’ve been clearer by writing “…not fighting battles that in their analysis are likely to be futile.” Sorry if that wasn’t clear, but it’s another way of saying “pick your battles carefully.”

        • No, it is not at all the same. Might as well proclaim but trivial difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

        • You don’t even seem to have the historical sense to realize how silly your comment is, after its pointed out.

    • The two wars my country fought against Soviet Union? Did probably look very futile on the outset, poor small country like Finland against the Red Army. And we didn’t win. But without those wars I would have first hand experience about living in a communist state.

      • Exactly. Sometimes all you can do is rage against the dying of the light — and it is enough.

      • The struggle of Finland in ’39-40 against the Soviet Union was awe-inspiring. Sisu on display. Sadly, because of the alignment of nations far larger, Finland was unfortunately forced to pick foul alliances to survive.

    • So called ‘futile battles’ are what America is based on, you need look no further than our founding documents, where we pledged “Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” That phrase means that as Americans we will stand for what we believe is right, no matter how futile it might seem, nor what the cost will be. Our most famous and revered battles uphold that belief, regardless if they were won or lost. Look at the Alamo, Belleau Wood, Midway and Guadalcanal. They are famous not because we won or lost, but because “these colors don’t run” regardless of how futile the battle may seem, or actually be. We are a nation of ideas, not blood; as the song says “You got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

    • Bret,

      You seem to have missed the distinction between a battle which must be fought even if you’re pretty sure you’ll lose, and a truly futile battle. No blame there: it’s not an easy distinction to make.

      People here have largely concluded this is the former case. Among them are people who have lived under and escaped from communist regimes so are much more sensitive to the tells of a takeover than the rest of us. Others have in-depth knowledge of history and can see nothing good from glorified ‘go along to get along’ – which is what you’ve described above. They see that path leading to stagnation and ultimately economic and social collapse.

      I’m not half the scholar a lot of people here are, and I can see it.

      Oh, I’m also Australian by birth, from a culture where not giving up even when it seems hopeless – even when it is hopeless – is how heroes are defined. You do what you see is right, no matter what it costs you. You try to keep the cost from hitting those you care for, but you don’t try to escape it yourself.

      The truth at any cost, even the cost of my life.

      People here are living that, Bret. Are you?

      • Distinction noted. In my view, if you have nothing to lose, at that point no battle can be futile because there’s no downside, though perhaps that’s a misuse of the word ‘futile’.

        The truth at any cost? That doesn’t make sense to me. The truth if the benefit of truth outweighs the cost? More likely. For example, I know some people who are very anti-religious. They are certain that all deity based religions are false and they are “truth at any cost” sort of folk so they really go out of their way to make religious people miserable (especially Christian religious people). My position is that even if religions aren’t the “truth”, is this little delusion (if that’s what it is) really so bad? Modern, post reformation judeo-christian religious practice seems to me to be mostly beneficial and I don’t think that the “truth at any cost” makes sense in this case. And there are a whole lot of topics just like this one where it’s sometimes best to just let people be.

        • Bret,

          The truth doesn’t mean you have to be an ass. It means that you do not, ever, knowingly endorse something that you know is not true.

          Religion – which you’ve now dragged into this – is a different beast. If the practices are harmful, then an ethical person must speak up and try to stop them. If they are not, then belief about something which is impossible to prove or disprove with current knowledge and technology is the individual’s choice.

          Now, back to the actual point, the one you seem to be trying to squirrel away from: an ethical person must not lie or go along with lies, no matter the cost. Even if the lie is much more comfortable than the truth.

          Even if speaking the truth – that the current President is by his own words and actions a Marxist who surrounds himself with fellow Marxists and will do everything he can to turn this nation into another disaster of a “people’s republic” – could cost my life.

          I don’t think it’s that bad yet. I hope it never gets that bad. And I hope I continue to have the courage to speak up no matter how bad it gets.

          • This is why the common folk of Australia and America have an afinity for each other. We understand each others thinking to a much greater extent than the rest of the world. Possibly because we were both settled in the main, by the outcasts and rejects of Europe?

            • Very likely, I suspect. The first wave of Australian settlers being mostly petty criminals and political prisoners gave it a different stamp, but the second wave was largely going there by choice so there’s a lot of the same kind of cussed independence.

        • Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me
          And before I’d be a slave I’ll be buried in my grave
          And go home to my Lord and be free.

          That song, which I learned from the version sung by Odetta, claimed as an anthem by the civil right movement, keeps coming to mind. People who worked for that movement died without ever seeing any change for the better (for example: Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney), but others fought on anyway. If they had given up because it seemed impossible, if they had given up in the face of serious challenge, they would have failed. There are some things that are more valuable and more important than staying alive.

    • “…to be flexible, to be resilient, to optimize their place within society given reality, and most of all, to not fight futile battles.”
      So your kids are learning to be poll-driven con artists on the dole. Damn good thing our Founding Fathers didn’t think that way.

  4. YES!

    We have to be alert at many levels. In 2010 a serious proposal was made to only cover post reconstruction in High School American history courses here in North Carolina. It was suggested, the founding and all that could be amply covered before the students reached H.S. by starting in elementary school and proceeding sequentially. This caused an uproar locally and drew unfavorable national attention. The proposal was shelved. I think that for the moment everyone who was involved want to pretend it never happened.

  5. Another person applauding here ^_^

  6. Sarah – you make me think– I now understand why my German history teachers were so against patriotism and equated it to Nationalism. I could understand considering their history. I was still and am still patriotic–

    • We tend to forget that to the US, nation and state are interchangeable unless you are a member of an enrolled tribe (Navajo, for example). Not so in Europe or most of the rest of the world. States can be imposed on nations and one may belong to a nation without a state (as the Kurds claim to be). You can credit/blame Napoleon and the Romantic movement for a large portion of that development, at least as it was and in expressed in Europe.

  7. > We exist on no other foundation than the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

    Modern Americans indeed, exist on no foundations other than the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

    …however, we don’t exist on these foundation either.

    And, yes, that means that far too many of us are rootless and have no particular reason or method to defend the existence of America.

    For a grim chuckle, read through the Declaration some time, a clause at a time, and think about how many of the objections apply to Washington DC today. In fact, if you’ve read Strictures on the Declaration, you’ll see that for the most part, our current government is an order of magnitude more oppressive than was the illegitimate and overbearing government that we fought in 1775.

    Today, for example, I read that Senator Leahy is supporting a new rule to allow the government to snoop on our email without a warrant. I’d ask what “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” means, but we’ve already seen how the 2nd, 9th, and 10th amendments have been gutted (my government stole my bill of rights from me and all I got was this crappy penumbra!).

  8. Wayne Blackburn

    Syria. The weapons of mass destruction went to Syria.

    While I agree that some probably went there (there certainly were satellite images of truck convoys going there), I think a lot of them stayed right where they were. Do you remember we kept getting reports of, “Chemical weapons may have been detected”, and then it turned out to be “pesticides”? Based on other reports that Hussein’s people in the WMD programs were lying to him about production, I think those WERE a lot of their WMDs, and they weren’t strong enough for us to say unequivocally that they were. I think I read somewhere that they supposedly found enough “pesticides” to kill every insect on Earth several times over. Iraq just isn’t big enough to have a use for that much bug spray.

    • Oh, yeah. But I remember the satellite pictures.

    • “But, but, those don’t count as real WMDs…”

      And, yes, I’ve heard people say that when I point out that we did find chemical weapons. Seems like people will do all sorts of mental gymnastics to keep their worldview from shattering.

      • *Snort* My favorite was the person who claimed that mustard gas and nerve gasses are not really WMDs, so the gas shells that were found were not REALLY capable of delivering WMDs.

        • I heard that one too… Ask the men who died in WWI if mustard gas is a WMD.

          • Devil’s advocate time, chemical weapons, strictly speaking, are area denial weapons, not weapons of mass destruction, since they don’t really destroy very much, nor are they widespread in effect or particularly lethal if you exit the area quickly.

            • The thousands killed and injured in Halabja might beg to differ. Aren’t you more referring to the effects in warfare against units with masks and suits? Blister (mustard gas) and possibly nerve agents were used in that attack….

              • The same tactics used in WWI, saturation bombardment, and it’s really effective against people who are panicked or otherwise not prepared to cope. Take as another example the Sarin attack on the Tokyo subway, which caused very few casualties despite being absolutely ideal conditions for a chemical attack. To achieve mass casualties with chemical agents you have to use a lot, and you have to use them against people who don’t know to run upwind.

                • Such things are only weapons of mass destruction when Americans use them. Technical distinctions such as you argue are only of importance to the professionals, not the media nor politicians.

                • The Sarin Tokyo subway attack probably didn’t kill all that many because not all that much Sarin was used: it was not purified after synthesis and had an estimated 30% yield. It was mixed with a solvent and acid neutralizer used in the synthesis, both toxic. And it was delivered by releasing it on the floor and then mostly evaporation. It’s not even clear from the autopsies that all the victims died from the Sarin (some lived long enough to get vigorous treatment that might have masked its signature effects).

                  Bottom line, it was a half-assed attack by a cult, not that relevant to our discussion. I have a friend who’s a volunteer firefighter in suburban Maryland; in case of a real attack on the D.C. Metro subway system their SOP is to seal off the area, they expect it would be much more lethal.

                  Now, you are absolutely right that you have to use a lot as these things go, but I think you’re really stretching it to not label them as WMDs. Heck, toxic biological agents also require a lot of material to make a widespread attack (the real dangers are from the contagious types).

            • Sorry, that distinction doesn’t hold water in the policy department. Chemical weapons are lumped in with biological and nuclear. The US response on paper to a chemical first strike? Nuclear retaliation, just as it is with any other weapon of mass destruction.

              Given Army CBRNE training, I’d rather deal with a persistent radiological hazard than a persistent chemical hazard. Radiation is more forgiving than chemistry.

            • OK my turn to put in a few comments here. I’ve done my time as a DoD contractor, and due to my background was at one time my branch’s resident NBC (or ABC depending on terminology) weapons and fx expert. This means that, among other things, I put in time at a “live agent” training facility (translated, they had special rooms where trainees in MOPP gear were working with THE REAL THING, live chemical weapons, to learn proper decontamination techniques). A facility where EVERY ROOM had a high-speed gas chromatograph constantly sampling the air I breathed and reading out, not WHETHER there was any nerve agent in it, but HOW MUCH. Where I was so terrified that I very nearly turned before reaching the door and bolted back to my vehicle. Where it took more courage than I knew I possessed to even walk into.

              If you have never seen the fx of chemical agents (including the “simple blister agents”) then you can have no idea of what WMDs they truly are. One aerosol drop of VX on the skin can kill before the person can self-administer the antidote. Know what the antidote is? An elephant-sized dose of epinephrine – adrenaline – designed to keep the body revved enough to protect against the physiological fx and going until the stuff can be metabolized. Depending on dose, this may or may not work; nerve agents generally work via the destruction of the myelin sheath, the “insulation” around the “cable” that is the nerve. The more of the myelin sheath that’s gone, the harder it is to recover, even with repeated epinephrine doses – which pose their own health risks.

              Know what a simple blister agent does? Detaches all of the skin it comes into contact with from the flesh beneath it, causing blood plasma to leak into the space between. The result is not only grotesque and incredibly painful (assuming it doesn’t get into the face, where it blinds and maims unbearably), it can cause such a terrible drop of blood volume that blood pressure drops precipitately and the person can go into cardiac arrest and die. They are essentially bleeding out under the skin. I can go on.

              The first time I saw images of actual victims I experienced a reaction I’ve never experienced before or since. I simultaneously wanted to vomit, leap up and run away, and froze in place. I was traumatized for several days and was thankful for my husband’s security clearance, which meant I could talk through my reactions with him.

              Sarin is relatively simplistic where chemical weapons are concerned.

              Having said all that to indicate that I DO have some knowledge of the subject, and have been in a position to know what was going on, I can state unequivocally that I DO KNOW there were WMD in Iraq. As Sarah said, much of it – and much of the high-tech tools, such as fighter jets, tanks, etc. – was indeed transferred to Syria. But much of it was hidden in situ as well. I have seen photographs of both what was cached in Syria and what was simply buried in a sand dune. I’ve seen US soldiers digging out AN ENTIRE JET FIGHTER from where a metal detector found it at the BOTTOM of the huge dunes they have in the region. This was done all over Iraq. And not just fighters and tanks but weapons caches as well. Oh, they had it all right. In spades.

              • Stephanie, I bow to your superior knowledge and wisdom.

                Not that you’ve attacked me — you wouldn’t do that — but I did say below that I believe there were all sorts of nasty things in Iraq and certainly there were nerve agents and land mines and just all sorts of biological awfulness.

                Maybe it’s the media coverage, which I’ve already criticized, but even though I am aware that there’s nasty stuff there, I tend to think of WMDs as nuclear or the truly nasty, can take out a city population at one go biologicals. I’ll have to train myself out of that, because that’s sloppy mental shorthand as you’ve just shown.

                I do think that the problem with saying there were WMDs in Iraq was that most people had no idea what WMDs are. And then even those who do agree there were all sorts of nasty things there view it as, “The military knows how to handle this stuff” and then thinks no more about it.

                Probably because if you think too much about it, you’ll get the shakes. (But that’s just my own interpretation; I think we *should* think more about it, and have better education as to what’s going on and better definitions, too.)

                • Barb, the truth is that a chemical attack with persistent agents is harder to deal with than an equivalent (in initial casualties) nuke. Fallout doesn’t last as long (particularly at quickly lethal effects) as the chemical agent. Imagine returning to a “decontaminated” house, six months later, touching the underside of a bookshelf, and absorbing a lethal dose.

                  • A classic example is a child touching the underside of a fence; to really, really make safe an area dosed by VX I gather you’d have to just remove everything including the top layer of soil. Anything less would result in the sort of problems we’re outlining.

                  • Thanks, SDN. That makes sense to me.

                    Also, one thing I was thinking of after I went to try to get some rest last evening . . . there are mustard gas canisters still out there from WW I, IIRC. There are land mines and grenades and other bits of nastiness from other wars, including unexploded bombs.

                    I wouldn’t want to be around *any* of this, and I would view it as immediately harmful even if I were protected. (Which I most likely wouldn’t be. Stephanie described one chemical agent as so destructive that one touch on your skin and you’re dead; you don’t have time to administer the antagonist, it’s so lethal, so you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong until you fell over dead. That’s intensely scary.)

                    It’s a good thing our military is so well-prepared. And it’s a very good thing that NBC classes are held to help new (or newer) soldiers get accustomed to what they’re likely to see, sooner or later.

                • the truly nasty, can take out a city population at one go biologicals

                  There are not to my knowledge any such things.

                  There’s 3 types that I know about: toxins, which you could view as biologically produced chemical weapons, infectious agents such as anthrax spores, and contagious agents like smallpox (just plain Original Formula smallpox is effective since we eradicated the wild type from the earth and stopped immunizing people because the side effects of the latter couldn’t be justified without a threat).

                  The infectious agents do require less mass than chemical weapons, but you still would have to distribute them by air over a city (think crop dusters). The contagious agents have the minor problem that you have to immunize your own people before you use them, which only a society as closed as North Korea might be able to pull off without anyone noticing; in the case of Muslims, if they cared about one in other counties, well, a worldwide smallpox epidemic would kill many more of them than their non-believing targets, especially after we (well, the US) made sure we have enough vaccine handy.

                  • Lina, I was thinking mostly about anthrax and gengineered weaponry (smallpox or similarly designed viruses). And they’d not take the city out all at the same time, granted; it would be over days or weeks or maybe even months.

                    But eventually, depopulation would take place. And it wouldn’t be pretty.

                    All of the various weapons Stephanie described are really bad.

                    But Americans, for whatever reason, seem to prefer not to think about at all. (Even those of us who should know better.)

                    Not that we need to dwell on the badness of it all, either . . . but surely there’s some middle ground between “dismiss it all with a hand-wave” and “live in fear, 24/7.”

                    At any rate, countries like Syria or Afghanistan or Rwanda have a different calculus than does the US. We’re beyond stupid if we don’t take that into account.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Back in politics on the Bar some years back, there was a supposed adult who apparently hadn’t heard of binary chemical shells.

          I decided an educational supplement was in order, and I’d managed write a good chunk of ‘Binary Chemical Shells for New Zealanders’ off the top of my head before the thread convinced that the guy was more likely willfully ignorant than a middle school or high school drop out.

          A binary chemical shell synthesizes the chemical as and after it is launched from the artillery piece. If it is opened directly, like happened a bunch of times with IEDs in Iraq this conflict, the ingredients don’t mix so well, and it doesn’t reach maximum nastiness.

          At the time, I understood that NBC was a legitimate reading of WMD.

          Furthermore, it was not an innocent until proven guilty situation. The war had never formally ended in the first place, there was nothing like a an actual peace treaty. By the terms of the ‘Parole’, it was guilty until proven innocent. America’s position was similar to ‘We are checking the terms of your parole. Open your books, and cooperate fully, or you are going back to prison.’

          I have a little knowledge of geophysics, enough to suggest that Niel’s comments about how much WMDs he could hide in a place the size of Iraw were well founded.

          • Furthermore, it was not an innocent until proven guilty situation. The war had never formally ended in the first place, there was nothing like a an actual peace treaty. By the terms of the ‘Parole’, it was guilty until proven innocent. America’s position was similar to ‘We are checking the terms of your parole. Open your books, and cooperate fully, or you are going back to prison.’

            Any similarity between the circumstances of the Hussein Regime and the maker of rude videos mocking Islam is strictly coincidental.

          • I know NBC is toxic, but I didn’t realize they qualified as a WMD.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Another thing that the media carefully did not find out: Hidden in the bowels of the official report by the group who went to Iraq to find WMDs were reports of abandoned places that had recently been laboratories, and some had evidence of having been used for tests, including on humans. There were wiped hard drives, traces, all kinds of things. Right in the report, where apparently no one could find it.

        • The Duelfer report is interesting reading, and you can see that much was deliberately underplayed in the report. But weapons were found long after Duelfer’s group ceased operations.

      • Neither is yellowcake, there are people who wouldn’t have believed Sodamn Insane had WMD’s if he used them on our troops.

    • Could be, Wayne. Maybe part of the problem with the media was that they first bought, whole-hog, that really bad biological superweapons and the like were in Iraq. Then they bought, whole-hog, that no weapons of any kind were in Iraq, which was just as fallacious as the first assumption.

      My statement before about WMDs in Iraq in no way, shape or form was meant to say that there was nothing of any sort found there. I am betting that all sorts of land mines were there and will be found for many years; all sorts of chemical weapons that the US military knows how to disarm; all sorts of the usual sorts of things that the military would expect to find were there. And the media probably discounted every last one of ‘em, too.

      So me, as a quasi-historian, I *do* expect that these other things are *all* there — the land mines, the chemicals, the other armaments, probably caches of money will be found, too, and all sorts of other useful and handy stuff for siege warfare and so on.

      For me, WMDs meant, in addition to all the usual meanings, caches of either nuclear weaponry — which fortunately Iraq didn’t have (not much of the makings, either) — or the really nasty biologicals, which it seems that Iraq didn’t have, either.

      That doesn’t mean Iraq wouldn’t have had them if Iraq could’ve gotten its figurative hands on them. But it does mean that Iraq, for whatever reason, wasn’t able to get them.

      Thank goodness.

      And yes — other countries have far different priorities than our own. Civilized “First World” countries like ours are not so dissimilar that most Americans can’t understand them, but a place like Syria or Rwanda or Iraq doesn’t appropriate money the way we’d expect it to, because they don’t have the same assumptions we do.

      Sarah’s right to point that out. We Americans need to stop seeing things through the glasses of cultural relativism.

    • Iraq had Chemical Weapons capability and had demonstrated their willingness to use them on more than one occasion. During the Iran-Iraq war they had employed Mustard gas, and never agents such as sarin and GF. For this Sadam Hussein’s government received official condemnation from the U.N., for what that is worth. And, in the most deadly attacks of it kind, they used poison gas on the Kurds in Halabja in 1988.

      There is no reason to believe that Hussein did not put undue pressure on his scientists to develop more and better weapons such that they might exaggerate their reports internally. But the general belief of the nations that paid attention was that he did possess WMD.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        The Clinton Administration talked about him having/wanting WMDs and the Democrats in Congress agreed.

        It’s “amazing” how fast the Democrats changed their minds when Bush took office. [Sad Smile]

        • Even more amazing when you consider, in the days leading up to the invasion, Sen. Kopechne’s solemn warnings of massive American troop deaths from Saddam’a WMD arsenal.

  9. Wayne Blackburn

    Oh, and GAH!, I just spent nearly an hour talking with a co-worker who sincerely believes that the problems with the Health Care Industry (which he doesn’t see are largely caused by government meddling) would be solved by going to a single-payer system. This guy is far better at the type of job we both do than I am. He may be objectively smarter than me in general. But he’s still an idiot when it comes to government vs. free market things. What REALLY makes my head spin is that he’s an ardent supporter of Ron Paul.

    *headdesk*

    • “who sincerely believes that the problems with the Health Care Industry (which he doesn’t see are largely caused by government meddling) would be solved by going to a single-payer system.”

      “What REALLY makes my head spin is that he’s an ardent supporter of Ron Paul.”

      Whatever he’s smoking, I want some, it’s obviously good stuff if he can believe both of those simaltenously.

      • Good heavens, yes. And we voted to legalize it in CO, too! Even if the feds won’t really let it be legalized.

        (And for the record, no. The only mind altering drug I take is alcohol and only four times in my life in amounts to count as “drunk.” You see, I have an amazing — probably inherited — capacity. I don’t like being out of control of my own mind. I don’t even take prescribed pain killers if I can avoid it.)

        • For the record, I also don’t take any mind altering drugs (my drug of choice is coffee :) ). I did in my late teens, but even then I preferred the uppers that made you THINK you were in control.

          They voted to legalize it in the neighboring state of Washington, also. It will be interesting to see how it plays out with the feds.

        • No I never took mind-altering drugs until I had to take high-dosages of prednisone for several months. I had hallucinations, paranoia, and mood swings. When the doctors dropped my dosages down from 100 to 60 mg. my life began to stabilize. I didn’t start getting to myself until I was under 20 mg.

          Now if I have that reaction to prednisone, I have wondered if I would have had a huge reaction to other types of drugs. So I am glad I never tried them. When I was drinking, I couldn’t drink more than two or three drinks depending on the type of alcohol. Tequila? One drink.

          • my hormones can make me depressed enough — and they’re not mood altering.

            • I haven’t been able to blame my hormones for anything (bad hor-mones). But I found that if I started to get upset for no reason and started yelling at the TV, if I take B-12 and D-3, I start to feel better.

            • Working in a Medicaid-paid mental health services agency, I see everyone and their uncle getting a “bi-polar” Dx, especially women. Now, being female, I think I can safely say every single woman within a certain age range is bi-polar at least once a month.

          • Tequila, really? We used to call tequila a woman’s drink, because for some reason many women who couldn’t handle most alcohol could drink tequila like a fish, while a lot of men who could drink a half-rack of beer or a pint of whiskey and be fine couldn’t handle a couple shots of tequila.

            • Funny– sake is the one drink that I can drink all night lol… Tequila gives me migraines.

              • My fav. drink was rum and coke– when I was drinking. I do like German beer, but the light beer and other US beers just don’t taste good to me.

                • I can drink whiskey galore, but beer? Not so much.

                  No experience with poteen, alas, so I don’t know if it’s a genetic advantage thing.

                  • I can’t drink AMERICAN wine. I think something in it gives me an allergic reaction. Which is annoying. Also, I’m more likely to get tipsy with wine than with whiskey.

                    • This one subthread is a textbook example of why one-size fits all medical anything will never work until the planet is repopulated with clone troopers…. and maybe not then.

                      Biochemistry is individual.

                    • We are finally reaching the point where DNA is sufficiently understandable that we can actually custom tailor treatments — and the government is pushing the country into one-size-fits-all, best-practices approaches to therapy. Insane.

                    • I get tipsy from the first one or two drinks, and I can drink anything (well, not beer anymore because it doesn’t suit my stomach now). After which I better stop, because there will be no increase of the nice buzz, and nowadays I may get sick. I rarely lose my self control, not even when I was young and could drink like a fish if I wanted without getting sick, and usually not even getting a hangover – all the other effects yes, slurry speech, uncontrolled movements, loss of balance etc, and I would sit there and observe myself. Main reason why I rarely did drink much, I hated being able to judge and remember the situation and being fully aware how vulnerable I was making myself, while mostly staying just as inhibited and wary as I am when I’m sober. :D

            • Y’all can keep the alcohol stuff. I’m so over sensitive, to the point of being allergic, that two sips of beer have me worshiping Bilious, the Oh, Gawd of Hangovers.

      • Sigh. When they check registration at “Chickens For Colonel Sanders” I expect to find his like on the rolls.

    • Whatever work you do, ask him how he would like the government setting all his pay and work conditions and requiring him to take every job someone wants done, at the time they want it. Ask him then, how long he would continue to work, and whether anyone would do 11 years of training to take his place. Then ask whether he really wants to be able to see a doctor if he needs.

    • Ron Paul’s most ardent supporters are members of a personality cult that in many ways warps the way they view the world. IMHO, from decades of observation.

    • Wayne, always remember something. NOBODY is smart at EVERYTHING. I’m considered a polymath by many, but if finances come up, I’m talking to my husband, a friend experienced in the particular type of financial consideration, or my sister or uncle, both of whom are CPA’s. I’m good with science and math. I’m getting better with history and geography. But I suck at business and finance. My politics consist of general common sense. (These days I think it’s become uncommon sense, but you get the gist of what I’m saying.) So this guy is good at the job you both do. But that does not make him smart in everything he does or thinks or tries to do. The human species does not consist of omnipotent beings.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Oh, don’t get me wrong. I completely understand that I’m a rarity in the I.T. industry, which is rampant with Leftists. Some more fanatical than others. To top that off, the company I work for is part of Teh Ebbil MSM™.

        Part of that above was probably railing against the fact that geeks don’t use the logic in life that they use in computers.

        • Curiously enough my (now former) workplace took a rather sharp turn right in the last four years. Something to do with being a smallish company in a niche industry and seeing policy statements cause your 401k to go kablooey, along with seeing benefits go away because they weren’t legal under the Obamacare rules will do that…

        • While I doubt it’s entirely confined the the Leftists, it just would seem so because there are overwhelmingly so many of them in the field, once I got into designing architectures I discovered far too many of them aren’t willing to use the logic that they can’t escape at the lower levels of programming and system administration. I could show them the math that proved their designs couldn’t possibly work under the required load and they’d ignore it. And then fail miserably.

  10. I have a solution, one I think we should seriously consider.

    I looked at the county map. Almost two-thirds of the country (even in Caliphornia) voted AGAINST Obama. Fine. Let’s let the people who overwhelmingly voted for Obama keep him. The rest of us are fed up. WE don’t need to secede — we need to expel the morons who voted for Obama keep him. I just don’t want to foot the bill. Expel him and all the blue counties. They can form any country – or group of countries – they want, with whatever laws they want, while we go our merry little way without them.

    Make it HARD for anyone from a blue county to MOVE to a red county. They need to prove they have something to offer, understand both the foundations of our independence, and the manner by which each is judged equally under the law. Let them know there’s no free lunch in the red counties, only opportunities. You make of them what you will.

    In the meantime, we close the borders — not just international borders, but county borders by red and blue.

    I give Obamaland three years to utterly collapse.

    • But, but… how would we survive without Chicago and Hawaii?

      If your answer to that is, “very well,” your thinking along the same lines I am (although I would like to keep the military bases in Hawaii).

      • I always assumed the petition to secede was so we could re-form

        • Technically it was, but that idea was pretty much destroyed in 1865 with the defeat of the Confederacy. Texas, as I understand it, cannot secede, but can subdivide into 5 individual states. That idea must give radical libs nightmares and the Repub an easy majority in the Senate.

    • Better yet, we should tell our Congress-critters to step back and let the Dems vote to allow the Bush tax rates expire. There are too many people who don’t think before they vote and need to learn a painful lesson the same way some kids need to touch a hot stove before they REALLY learn what you’ve been telling them for years.

  11. By the way, I am seriously under the weather, and my medications are giving me fits, including hallucinations. Be careful with what I say!

  12. A nitpick, but WRT the invasion of Iraq:

    If we were going in at all we should have dropped in like Sudden Death.

    We don’t have that capability; it required serious armor rich mechanized forces to conquer Iraq, and the quickest way to get them in the theater is by ship.

    Compare to the counter example in the north, where Turkey eventually refused passage of our strongest division, which ended up still at sea when we invaded. Not only did that prevent us from seriously attacking from the north, which may have had significant post invasion consequences, we had to deliver entirely by air an airborne brigade, a Marine Expeditionary Unit plus a couple of companies of armor for support. They did a lot with little in the way of resources, but much less than was planned or needed.

    • Yes, but the months of *ss kissing the UN should have been dispensed with.

      • …and a great deal more could have been done without letting anyone but allies know, until Sudden Death dropped from the sky. And considering how much resistance the Iraqi military – especially the “elite units” – put up, I’m not sure all of it was really THAT necessary.

        • The Iraqi army had too many men, a bit too much armor, to easily and cheaply (in terms of our troops lives if nothing else) take them out. Enough mechanized infantry with Bradleys, tanks, attack helicopters and artillery were required along with their logistics, and we’re too open a society to hide that, for example the embarkation onto the ships, or the sudden disappearance of 10s of thousands of men. And it would have been hard to hide their arrival and assembly in Kuwait.

          Plus we would have had to give up on any cooperation from Turkey (eventually they allowed overflights), denying us even the possibility of a strong thrust from the north. Note that we also added the British to the mix, to help take the port areas and Basra, and they too are an open society.

          On the other hand, I agree with our host that we shouldn’t have gone hat in hand to the UN, not when Russia, the PRC and the French (3/5ths of the permanent members of the Security Council) were inclined to play a spoiling role.

      • Please take out “the months of *ss kissing” from that sentence. It should read “Yes, but the UN should have been dispensed with.” A situation I can’t seen having changed much in the interval.

        M

  13. Sarah, you wrote: “But the truth is that this agit-prop worked because it linked in to a… ah… flagellant tendency in the American character.”

    I have to disagree, somewhat reluctantly since you’re generally pretty spot-on. I believe the agitprop you refer to worked for a much more specific reason: it hit the USA at a time when we-the-people were uniquely primed to believe it because of the civil rights movement. I think the critical point was reached sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, when American blacks (and their white allies) looked at their own horrible experiences at the hands of American racists, then looked across the ocean at Vietnam, where American soldiers were even then fighting against another non-white people who claimed to be … well, no, that’s not right, they were being oppressed and dominated by a tyrannical government … and drew the not-unreasonable but completely and totally wrong conclusion that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and therefore American blacks should cooperate with, and take up the same political beliefs as, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese. From that day to this, American blacks and American liberals have been on the wrong track, victims of the worst case of flawed logic in Western political history.

    As a side note, I’d like to point out that in Europe, “nationalism” has a bad reputation for a very good reason: in a single lifetime, 1870 to between 1802 and 1945, Europe saw three major wars (Franco-Prussian, WW1, WW2), all of which were caused by nationalism. Three generations of young European men died on those battlefields, and the mindless slaughter of the Great War, followed a scant twenty years later by the unbelievable destruction of the Second World War, left scars on the European psyche that last to this day.

  14. Nationalism is too closely linked with racism to be considered a good thing by most countries.
    America has been the world’s protector for a few years now. America saved Australia from the Japanese in WWII. We (Australia) even gave you a big statue in our National Capital to recognize this historical fact. In mainstream Australia though … it seems America has lost its way. And I don’t mean to offend. It appears to be country that has said on one hand “what we are doing is not working, something must be done! …” and on the other hand “steady as she goes …”. America wont make the whole sale changes necessary to evoke real change. You mentioned the change loving French, who still remain so very French. Would America make those changes?
    I am not suggesting you embark upon another Revolution. But maybe it is time for some hard decisions that redefine America and put you in a better place.
    … and now I’ll mind my own business ….
    Cheers

    • I was nodding my head and agreeing with you, until I got to the point about the French. WE DO NOT WANT TO IMITATE THE FRENCH!

      • no one wants to imitate the French … but they have demonstrated that wide sweeping change does not mean a loss of identity.

        • BECAUSE THEY ARE A NATION OF GENETICS AND LAND. We’re not. We’re a nation of ideas. The French — are a whole other beast.

        • This misses the entire point of Our Hostess’s post. Frenchmen are French by blood and soil; if they change their ideology (as they have often done) or their system of government (as they have done with ridiculous frequency), they would not cease to be French. Americans are not American by blood, and it is only by happenstance that their soil is gathered into a unified state.

          For a nation that exists only as a political and ideological entity, wide sweeping change in politics and ideology necessarily means the loss of identity.

          • Thank you Tom. I thought I’d said that.

            • So you did, and you were right. And you shouted it again just now, but I didn’t see that comment until the page refreshed when my own comment was posted.

          • and if the ideology is faltering?

            • The ideology is not ‘faltering’; it has been abandoned by people who prefer another ideology that promises them free goodies and no responsibility. It is very like what G. K. Chesterton said about Christianity: it has not been tried and found wanting, but found difficult and left untried.

              • Actually the country is equally split between those who’ve abandoned the ideology (or never learned it), and those who are ready to defend it. The next four years, we’ll find out how many young people realize that the driection they are going isn’t working–and perhaps they ought to try a different path, not run faster for the abyss dead ahead.

                • The “never learned” it is the largest contingent. Or never learned why it’s different. And that’s why our most important role is evangelists, which is best done in stories.

                  I have asked for books on the founders and their time for xmas from my friend who works in the bookstore (and if any of you wants to make recommendations) non-fiction, of course, because I think I want to do a mystery series Founding Murders that take place during the revolution/revolutionary war, and maybe a YA adventure with “Child Patriots.”

                  And then maybe a romance series during the revolution.

                  What? Oh, I have a time machine. AND a cloning machine. I thought you guys knew that. But any of you that want to pick up the slack with that sort of work are VERY welcome.

                  My SF is also in large part to do that work.

                  • I have been working on a few stories about a young girl in a dystopia situation (the power grid has collapsed). A working family and neighbors who are making their small community work. It is more a string of adventure stories.

                  • Try Audible for Ron Chernow’s excellent books on Hamilton and Washington or buy the text versions; both are excellent … and in great depth.

                    David McCullogh’s work on the era is quite accessible, as are Joseph Eliis’ books. Richard Brookhiser has written very good brief biographies of Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, and Washington. British Historian Paul Johnson should be explored, as well.

                    All of these are popular histories, thus academics sneer at them for their largely accurate depiction of the era described. For a delightful fictionalized (and therefore wholly reliable) picture of the period, try George Bernard Shaw’s Devils’ Disciple.

                    If you want to dig into original documents, the collected correspondence of John and Abigail Adams and of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson are terrific.

                    • Albert Marrin, Chairman of the history department at Yeshiva University, writes for a juvenile audience. His works, which are well written and researched, can serve as an excellent first exposure and overview to a period for adults. I first came across his work with a series of four biographies: Hitler, Mao Tse-tung and his China, Stalin and Napoleon and the Napoleonic Wars which I picked up for The Daughter’s home education. He has written works on the French and Indian Wars, The Revolution and The War of 1812. He has also done a biography of George Washington.

                      Catherine Drinker Bowen’s Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May to September 1787 was very well received, as, I believe, was her posthumously published biography of Benjamin Franklin (The Most Dangerous Man in America). She also wrote John Addams and the American Revolution, as well.

                  • I grew up reading historical fiction by Kenneth Roberts who wrote a whole series of American Revolution books in the 1930′s (he died in 1957). His novels were so accurate, but the time I got to American history in school, I knew more than most of my teachers. They’re still available on Amazon. (Just looked up the second book of the series which is “Rabble In Arms,” so if you’re interested it’s there.)

                    • “time I got to American history in school, I knew more than most of my teachers.”

                      Must suppress snark about low hurdles. Must suppress snark about low hurdles. Must suppress snark about low hurdles. Must suppress snark about low hurdles. Must suppress snark about low hurdles. Must suppress snark about low hurdles. Must suppress snar …

      • and whats more … I don’t think America should imitate anyone! America should be America … but sometimes, we need to see what we have done wrong … stop the bus … and fix it. and in my opinion (which is worth nothing), I think there are a few issues you need to fix.
        I want a great America in the world. I really do. I hope America can return to where it should be.

        • Let me reiterate what everyone else has said, to “make the whole sale changes necessary to evoke real change.” We would have to change and no longer be Americans (this is what Obama is pushing for when he pushes ‘hope and change’)
          I do agree with the sentiment that“what we are doing is not working, something must be done! …” But where we disagree is in WHAT must be done, I think we need to return to our founding principles.

            • …, in your eagerness to be loved you seem to have forgotten that Pennsylvania cannot second its own motion. ;-)

              (I was torn between this and ‘For G-d’s sake, John, sit down.’ But it is too cold for opening up windows.)

              • Well! I can second someone else’s motion.

                It will amuse you to know since Sunday “For G-d’s sake, John, sit down” has become my family’s catch phrase when I go into one of my constitutional-preaching modes.

                • Ummm – the hubby (bless his soul) has taken to ignoring me especially after the last time when he asked me if he “I wanted him to get stirred up.” ;-) Actually, no.

                • Yes, well I have also been tempted to reply to a couple of posters, ‘Will someone shut that man up?’ but figured that only The Spouse and Thee would get it. Then I realized what is sung next:

                  I do believe you’ve laid a curse on North America!
                  A curse that we here now rehearse in Philadelphia!
                  A second flood, a simple famine,
                  Plagues of locusts everywhere,
                  Or a cataclysmic earthquake,
                  I’d accept with some despair.
                  But, no, you’ve sent us Congress –
                  Good God, Sir, was that fair?

                  And it occurs to me to think, ok, well with what has already been going on when is the plague of locusts and earthquake? We seem to have the rest of it along with Congress and a President. Sigh.

                  Never give up! Never give in!

                  Human Wave!

                  • I figured this song was appropriate here,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KVmRtEO18k

                    Sometimes I wanna light up underneath the no-smoking sign
                    Sometimes I wish they’d tell me, how justice got so blind
                    I wish they’d just leave me alone ’cause I’m doing alright
                    You can take your change on down the road and leave me here with mine

                    ‘Cause that ain’t my America
                    That aint this country’s roots
                    You wanna slam old Uncle Sam
                    But I ain’t letting you
                    I’m mad as hell and you know I still bleed Red, White, and Blue
                    That ain’t us
                    That Ain’t My America

                    I was standing there in Dallas
                    Waitin on a plane
                    I overheard an old man
                    Tell a young soldier “thanks”
                    The young soldier hung his head and said “it’s hard to believe
                    You’re the only one who took the time to say a word to me”
                    And the old man said…

                    That ain’t my America
                    That aint this country’s roots
                    You wanna slam old Uncle Sam
                    But I ain’t letting you
                    I’m mad as hell and you know I still bleed Red, White, and Blue
                    That ain’t us
                    That Ain’t My America

                    It’s to the women and men who in their hands hold a Bible and a gun
                    And they ain’t afraid of nothing, when when they’re holding either one

                    Now there’s kids who can’t pray in school
                    $100 dollar tanks of gas
                    I can tell you right now this country ain’t
                    AIN’T SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THAT!

                    NO!

                    ‘Cause that ain’t my America
                    That aint this country’s roots
                    You wanna slam old Uncle Sam
                    But I ain’t letting you
                    I’m mad as hell and you know I still bleed Red, White, and Blue
                    That ain’t us
                    That Ain’t My
                    That Ain’t My America
                    That Ain’t My America
                    That Ain’t My America

      • Thank you. :) Besides, we don’t have nearly enough tree lined avenues, and the German army likes to march in the shade.

        • The Chinese army, on the other hand, will march wherever it’s dam’ well told . . . and will probably find it fun and relaxing to march in a country that isn’t wall-to-wall people.

        • The best sneer at the French re: WWII can be found in Trevanian’s novel “Shibumi” where I think a Basque character characterizes the French Resistance as the French withholding from the German their cheery morning ‘bonjour’ and the French pros giving the German the clap.

          An unfair slap at the French …but one that I still enjoy …

          • Re: the French –

            I forget which book it was in, but I think it was one of John Ringo’s novels, where an American soldier is talking about the French army in derogatory terms and someone else comments, “Actually, I served with a French unit for a while. The low-level guys were damn good, it’s just that anyone above the rank of captain in the French army gets their head surgically implanted in their nether regions [my paraphrase] as part of the promotion ceremony.”

            Anyone know which book I’m trying to think of? I want to say that it was Mike O’Neil who said that, which would make the book one of the Posleen series, but I really haven’t a clue whether that’s right or not.

            • I remember it, but I thought it was Colonel Kratman who said it, so I’m no help ;)

              • That would probably be Col. K’s first contribution to the Posleen mythos, the one resuscitating the SS; the name escapes at the moment and I2LZ2LU*.

                *I too Lazy to look up

                • “Watch on the Rhine.” Second bookcase, top shelf, sixth book from the end, between “Hymn Before Battle” and “Darkship Thieves,” under “Guardian of Night” and that French-language book about Gothic art and architecture.

                  • You’re as weird as I am.

                    And yeah, French soldiers WERE probably okay. Now I understand they’re mostly Muslim and I’m not sure how that affects things.

                  • My bookshelves are arranged alphabetically by author (series are arranged in chronological order) except one downstairs that is nonfiction and arranged by my own wierd subconcious system. Of course alphabetical creates it’s own wierd idiosyncracies; like a nonfiction book about Israeli commandoes being sandwiched between ERB’s Tarzan books and some modern technothrillers, all on the same shelf with Westerns, fantasy, SF, a book on home electronics, the journal of an early Montana pioneer, and urban fantasy/paranormal romance.

                    • Mine used to be alphabetical. Do you know the issue with having kids who didn’t learn to read in school, but at home, one by inexplicable means, the other by coming to me and asking how to write words, then somehow learning to read after he could write?
                      They don’t know the order of the alphabet. We had to get the younger one an electronic dictionary at 8 because otherwise I was the dictionary — he couldn’t look it up in the book.
                      So, my bookshelves are now a screaming mess. Except the research ones, which are arranged… well, supposedly chornologically except one bookshelf seems to be “wars and revolutions, and just keeps each of those together but in a total time-salad.

                    • Once upon a time our books were beautifully organized and we could find what we wanted at a drop of a hat. The SF/F was alphabetical by author, in order of publication with the exception of series which were in order of the series (in spite of publication dates). The histories were by region and date, with some overlap groupings. The westerns were shelved L’Amour in order and then all the rest. Other fiction was organized by original country of publication, and within that alphabetically by author and order of publication. Crafts by specific craft, and then particular skills. Cookbooks first by country, then by region OR by particular kind of food, such as breads. Even the gardening books had an order. (When did we have time to read you ask?)

                      The we added The Daughter to the household, but organization largely remained. (In spite of being an automatic reader she does know her alphabet, thankfully.) The disaster was the move, into a house that was not entirely finished to find that one of us is peculiarly sensitive to petrochemical fumes. The house remains unfinished — and seriously under shelved. Sigh.

            • I’ve seen Col. Kratman make the same general statement several times in Kratskeller (Baen’s Bar, Tom Kratman’s forum). I think he put it in ‘Watch on the Rhine’.

  15. Please don’t feed the troll. Pond scum on the ass end of a duck isn’t worth the time and effort to wipe it off. And y’all know exactly who I’m talking about.

  16. As for battles futile, I suppose a reckoning of a few of my ancestors might do well to show the attitude I’ve inherited.

    Queen Boudicca/Boadicea
    Robert the Bruce
    James & Charlotte Robertson (founders of Nashville, TN, defenders of Ft. Nashboro)
    James W. Robertson (defender at San Antonio de Bexar & the Alamo)
    Robert Raimey (defender at Goliad TX)

    There are others.

    My family is still here. And it continues on. “Futile” is an attitude, not a situation.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      “Human Wave” is an idea of the type of fiction that Sarah and others (including myself) would like to see. In general, it involves optimistic story lines, realistic heroes/villains, etc. Basically, this is fiction where the reader enjoys visiting the story universe and believes that the story characters make a difference in their world.

      • Can you find my post on it, somewhere here? I really am going back to bed.

        • Can there be such a thing as Dystopian Human Wave? I have been reading Randall Farmer’s Commandeer series, and that is how I would describe it.

          I mean anything with a main character that is a housewife that is Transformed into a superhero strengthed serial killer, and struggles with her morality has to be dystopian. But there is also a pervasive hope for a brighter future woven through it, so at least to me it comes off as human wave.

          • I would suggest Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron as dystopian HW. It depicts the dangers of the grey-goo mindset and presents the idea of resistance to the oppression. The ending is essential to the story, its natural conclusion, but still moves the reader in the direction of resistance to such tyrannies.

          • If you look at it, the world of Darkships is pretty dystopian. It’s just NOT how Athena takes it ;)

      • The good stuff!! The stuff that wasn’t written by an oikophobe! Gotcha. I didn’t know that it had a name.

  17. Welcome to the land of understanding that if they don’t teach it, how can you forget it? I have an old post on that which I never did get formatted the way I liked… and not enough time to go through and fix it up. Also no idea if comments take html tags… sigh…