But for Wales, Richard? – A Blast From The Past From October 2017

But for Wales, Richard? – A Blast From The Past From October 2017

As you guys know I’ve been reading about von Braun.  Mostly I’ve been reading about Von Braun because I visited Huntsville for TVIW and got curious.  Before that all I’d heard bout him, as a person, was, dropped in a conversation “I figure he was a true psychopath who didn’t care, so long as he got to space.”

After reading four biographies (two for, two against) I regret to tell you that I’m not sure that was true.

I come neither to bury Von Braun not to praise him.  I doubt if he knew, in himself, if he was a villain or a hero.  And I doubt he was a psychopath.  The reason I doubt he was the later is that he didn’t take to a totalitarian regime like a duck to water.  Instead he tried to compromise his soul a little at a time, a vestige of humanity and decency obviously holding him back.

If a man of his intelligence, not to mention charisma, had wanted, he could have been in the “high councils” of the oligarchs, but mostly he seemed to do the minimum necessary to a) not get killed and b) keep the rocket program going.  And before you say the rocket program hurt the allies, he himself admitted “When a country is at war, a man wants his country to win, even if he hates the regime.”  And before you poo poo that, remember that a country is not land or borders. It’s your family, your friends, the places you love.  He also admitted he didn’t feel bad about bombing London because the allies had destroyed Berlin, a city he loved.  All these responses are very human and very normal.  Flawed, painful, morally tarnished, maybe, but human.

I’ll confess my bias up front.  One of the “against” bios (the other just kept repeating “Nazi, so bad.” which is senseless) was specious enough to make me want to come to his defense.  Among other things they quoted his words about milking the golden cow in a context that made it sound like it was about the US.  It wasn’t.  It wasn’t about Hitler’s Germany either.  It was about the Weimar Republic, for whom Von Braun had started the rocket program.

Also, they narrated hearsay about the Americans not treating them well enough “overheard by his driver who didn’t talk about it for 60 years” and then talked to the Nation which might as well be the organ of CPUSA.  I’m here to tell you that criticizing your host country is the first phase of every acculturation/immigration.  I saw it with my fellow exchange students, who were here by choice and who suddenly talked about how much better it was back home.  It’s a group bonding exercise in unstable circumstances.  It means nothing.  (No, I didn’t do it, but I’m fairly weird.)

These things predisposed me to “like” him, but the pro bios were also a little weird.  I find it mendatious to say that the Von Braun attached to Mittelwerk — the labor camp attached to Dachau — must have been his brother.  Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but suggesting it as an excuse is a little goofy since Magnus Von Braun was also imported to the US.

And the “he was a loving father and a good neighbor” doesn’t cut it either.  Because, you know, here’s the thing, Pratchett had it absolutely right when the torturer has a coffee mug with the saying “World’s Best Dad.”

So on the character of Von Braun I’m going to say “I don’t know” and in fact, I doubt he did.

The thing that none of the bios seem to take into account is the corrupting power of a tyrannical regime.  This applies with boots on to things like Fascism and Communism but it applies to minor tyrannical regimes too, where behavior you consider unethical is required of you in order to get something you want/need.

Dave Freer commented on the Harvey Weinstein case here — Wiles —and said we writers do things like that too, though usually not sexual (and if you met the average writer you know why.)  He is right.  We’ll get back to that later, just keep in mind that like the Hugos are the Oscars for ugly people so is the book business Hollywood for ugly people.  We’re not (usually, though I’ve had attempts, when I was much younger) required to put out, but we betray ourselves and sell our souls in myriad other ways.

Did Von Braun know that people were being worked to death to build his rockets?  Impossible not to.  Look, guys, seriously, I suspect even the uninvolved unconcerned Germans knew about the Holocaust.  Could he/they do anything about it?

What precisely?

The movies make it seem like everyone rises up at once and overturns a dictatorial regime.  That is not the way real revolutions work.  Time and again, we’ve seen that it’s when a regime softens that it’s overturned.  Before that, attempting an overturn is suicide and often death to all your family and friends too.

He’d started building rockets under Weimar.  He’d come to the Nazis attention.  After that, he’d continue building rockets and like it, and do what he had to do to keep himself and his family alive and well.

One of the biographies claims he tried to/got some prominent scientists out of concentration camps to “help” and live with them and eat what they ate in an attempt to save them.  I haven’t tracked this down to verify, though at least one (French) professor claimed after the war that he was offered just such a position, in an attempt to better his lot.  This professor refused because he didn’t want to aid the Nazi war effort.

In the same way Von Braun was arrested (and let out on probation) twice, for saying that rockets built by slave labor would be defective.

On the other hand, when he came to the states, he brought with him people who were unavoidably more guilty than him, obviously so.  And tried to bring others who were too “dirty” to make it here.

Surely that’s proof he was a villain?

No.  It’s proof that he was human.  You hang around with a group of people long enough, you’re going to like some of them despite despising their opinions or actions.  I didn’t feign my liking for a lot of my liberal or even outright communist colleagues and bosses in NYC.  I can see where they went astray, I despise what they do, but I like them as people, and think some of them are salvageable.

And I’m very glad I’m not the ultimate judge of anyone’s soul, not even mine.

All I’m going to say about Von Braun’s character is that until you withstand his temptations and his fear, you don’t know what you’d do.  It’s very easy for people who are free and at no risk of being killed summarily or having their whole family destroyed, to say “I’d stand above it all.”  But very few people do.  I find it helpful that in the New Testament the man who was chosen to lead the church, in the same circumstances denied the man he believed to be the son of G-d not once but three times.  It’s a good demonstration of frail humanity faced with dictatorship and corruption.

You don’t know what you’d do in the circumstances.

I do, and it doesn’t make me proud.

Sure, I came out politically, when I could afford to, when there was indie and Baen.  But before that, I not only swallowed a lot but said ambiguous “supporting” things when the discussion turned to keeping those undesirable libertarians/conservatives and their “hatred” out.  Because otherwise I’d have lost my sole opportunity to make money with the skill it had taken me almost two decades to acquire, and babies needed shoes.

Looking back it feels a lot like the quote from A Man For All Seasons:
It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for Wales, Richard?

And yet people do, for far less important reasons than getting man to space, or even winning a war so that your family estates aren’t plundered (and if you don’t think that matters you don’t understand attachment to the land) and your family sent forth, homeless and destitute.

Almost every writer, unless they’re dyed the deepest red, made the same compromises.  It’s a bad thing, even in that scale.  Like the actresses giving up their dubious virtue for a role, we give up a part of ourselves when we do that.

But when a system is corrupt and oligarchic there is no way to go around.  And so we keep doing it.

Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore.  And I had the opportunity to escape.  More or less what Von Braun did.  I’m trying to make good on my second chance, impaired only by stupid health tricks.

But I wouldn’t stand in judgement.  Like the people who escaped the USSR and who were party members, or “little pioneers” or like Pope Benedict being in the Hitler youth, if you stand in judgement of these people, you’ve never experienced even the nano-version of it I and other writers/actors/people in fields where gatekeepers are few and implacable have experienced.

I don’t know if Von Braun sold his soul for a shot at space; I don’t know if he sold it for safety for his family and himself.  I know I sold mine for Wales, metaphorically speaking.  I have no high mountain on which to stand, and my only redeeming realization must be this: that I realized a bad system makes good people bad.

One of the books went on about how evil Von Braun pushed for the Americans to “win” space when the USSR would have done just as well, since it was all for humanity.

Perhaps having experienced the corrupting effects of dictatorship and distorting ideology, he wanted space to be free.  (Yes, I know, he wanted the US to have an orbiting station and bomb any country that misbehaved.  Heinlein modified it and used it in Space Cadet.  It would have gone very badly, particularly if the US gave it over to the UN.  But I can also understand the appeal of the idea for someone who believed in the US.)

People who have sold their souls try to reclaim bits of it in the weirdest ways.

Let that serve as his epitaph.  And our ladder to freedom and redemption for the rest of us.  Do what you can, where and when we can, and may our efforts achieve more than our poor selves can manage.

208 responses to “But for Wales, Richard? – A Blast From The Past From October 2017

  1. Timothy E. Harris

    The wonderfully empathetic tone in this essay is precisely what has gone missing from our current political discourse.
    Many politicians know too much that ain’t so, and thus keep proposing programs that will make things worse – but most of them honestly believe they will make things better. Patient education may or may not take – but villification will only cement their positions more firmly in place.

  2. Physical courage can be quite common, but even it is dependent upon being surrounded by like-minded individuals. Moral courage – the ability to stand against community thought – can be very rare. Even some of the more enlightened thinkers of this and an earlier age, only managed it when their neighbors in thought did so.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I tried to grow to up to have a great degree of that. To have the courage never to lie, even if the world is against me, and it takes me to the gibbet. I think back on that, and wonder if I met that goal in any way at all.

      That said, it is my nature to to doubt myself, and I am sure that success would look, from the inside, like doubts until the point of death.

  3. Jeff Greason

    That sparks three thoughts which I’ll put in three posts.

    First: Nazi Germany, how it came to be that way, always fascinated me. Back in the days before Godwin’s Law, I found it a strange period in history which, as an American, I simply couldn’t comprehend. How .. HOW … could people have stood by and let such things happen.

    Now, sad to say, it doesn’t seem strange at all.

    There’s a scene in the excellent “Judgement at Nuremburg” where the judge is asking the same questions, and finally, his German hosts trust him enough to actually engage with him. “We didn’t know, none of us knew”, says the wife. “And if we did know, what could we have done?” says the husband.

    The TSA is what really brought it home to me. Americans would never accept it. I would never accept it. I ranted. I raved. I argued with the guards. I insisted they cite the regulations under which they could do these things. When one guard told me one thing, and the next one told me something different, I asked for the law or regulation they were following. I wrote to the agency. I wrote to my Congressman. I was told the regulations were classified. I wrote again to my Congressman. Then I got picked for ‘random’ pat-down search seven times in a row. I happened to know the head of the FAA personally. I wrote asking if I was on some kind of list. I was told that the list was classified — but the random searches stopped.

    Then I became a “Good German” — I shuffled through the line. I kept my head down. Because if I protested, all that would happen is I’d love my ability to fly. It wouldn’t change anything. It wouldn’t stop any thing. All that would happen is I’d lose my own livelihood.

    “We are just little people, your Honor. What could we do?”

    That’s why I consider the TSA the most profoundly anti-American institution in our lives. We are training a whole generation to live under secret law, to show their papers, and not to question the Gatestapo

    • Exactly

      The TSA is the reason I fly only when I have no other choice. I keep my head down about it too, for the same reason you do. Personally I think the two versions of the Patriot act are the precursors to a police state, and in combination with the widespread and often contradictory “war on drugs” provide damn near everything needed to move into a “hard” police state.

      I also suspect we’re currently in a “soft” police state where the velvet gloves haven’t come off yet – but I may be paranoid about that. The country is too big and generates too much data for the full-on Gestapo/Stasi/KGB effect to take hold. Yet.

      • As long as we continue to have the right to keep and bear arms, and purchase ammunition without permission from the government, monitoring or control; we will continue to have the ability to effectively resist tyranny by being able to use lethal force against agents of the government (i.e. law enforcement or the military employed for coercion.)
        California’s ammunition tax and background check laws are the clearest indication that they are moving to a hardened police state. I truly am looking forward to an armed insurrection against Sacramento in the next 5 years, if not sooner.

        • How long do you suppose before Cali institutes random stops at the Nevada border in efforts to catch ammo smugglers. LA to Vegas is a four hour drive, about the same distance my Mormon cousins in Ogden used to drive on their monthly run to stock up on cheap Colorado Coors.
          As governments have always discovered to their dismay, onerous restrictions on any commodity simply result in a flourishing underground economy.

          • Free Markets (even when suppression is attempted) are emergent. It’s sort of the “2nd law of econodynamics” – perpetual nonsense doesn’t work.

            • And when it is an underground, then the nonsense stops, the best masters are the criminals who were serving the market while it was taboo, an you end up with Russia after the fall of the Soviet.

            • The Mexican drug cartels will smuggle in ammo as happily as they did drugs and people.

            • And prohibitions, as others have pointed out and history proves, have two main results. First, they make criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens and thus degrade the respect for any and all laws. Second, they enrich the pockets of both those tasked with enforcing the ban, and those who figure out ways to make money by flouting the restrictions.

          • Box of 500 rounds of .308 for $256, and no questions asked with a round trip from, oh, Monterey to Reno, versus California costs, plus background investigation? I think I’d do all my Christmas shopping in Nevada.

            • And that’s what will REALLY hurt California – if they’re driving people to drive out of state to shop for one thing, why not avoid giving the bastards any but the unavoidable business (and sales tax revenue)? Let the bastards freeze in the dark, as it were.

              • If you are bringing back a crate or two of ammo, wouldn’t it be useful to have a few crates of groceries, household goods, sporting equipment and other items to, um, prevent the load from shifting about?

                  • Omigawd, officer! How’d <I<that get in there? I told the guy at the supply store to toss in a crate of fireworks for the upcoming holiday; I had no idea he’d put something like that in there!

                    You know, i bet some smugglers took advantage of the opportunity to plant that in my load and are probably looking to waylay me on my way home!

              • Cali continues down a path of ever increasing gun control still not having learned that most of those laws only affect folks inclined to obey them. Criminals always find a way around as has been proven time and again not only with gun laws but also our desperately failed war on drugs.
                As far as background checks on ammo in California, one obvious response (aside from importing from out of state) will be that ammo purchases become much larger. Why devote the hassle and expense for a single box of .22 rimfire only to do it all again a week or so later? Instead practical shooters will buy such by the case. And I strongly suspect that the liberal progressive California hoplophobic response will be to limit purchase quantities, and likely impose similar restrictions on ammo possession in general. After all, why would any honest person need more than a single box of shells?
                Note: when involved in PPC I would typically go through over 500 rounds a week for practice and double that when regularly competing. Much the same can be said for any serious trap or skeet shooter.
                I’m hoping this makes it quickly to SCOTUS and gets slapped down hard.

          • The northern California/Southern Oregon boundary would be more porous, especially just east of the Cascades. Since a fair number of people in the region would rather be residents of the State of Jefferson, the ammo cops wouldn’t get much assistance from the subjects citizens in Cali.

            On the other hand, there aren’t too many bad ideas in California that won’t be embraced by the, er, people in Salem/Portland/Eugene. I suspect things would get interesting if Salem tried it, though. The last draconian gun control attempt failed when pushback (or, perhaps “recoil” is a better term) was impressive.

            • This. The splotches of urban areas where the nanny-state stuff is approved with bare pluralities because of the demand that pols “do something” are actually separated by vast swaths where everyone pretty much agrees that nanny is a witch and is scheming to throw the kids in an oven. And even in the urban splotches there’s lots of folks who agree about nanny being a witch.

              See the recent short period when the courts struck down the California restriction on normal capacity (>10) magazine purchases, followed by just a few scattered news reports on how many millions of California gun owners were buying every normal cap magazine they could find either locally or online, causing retailers stocks to drop rapidly nationwide, and then the rapid suppression of all of that reporting as it does not align with the approved narrative that such restrictions are popular with everyone.

              You can’t be reporting that these ineffective “do-something” laws are actually widely unpopular and subject to widespread civil disobedience – that might cause the plurality of nanny-lovers in the urban splotches to questions their beliefs and pause in donating to Glorious-Single-Party-Bear-“Republic” political campaigns.

              • just a few scattered news reports on

                Remember: we can never rely on journalists fr accurate reports. They have become incapable of not casting shade.

            • scott2harrison

              Yup. The pattern appears to be: First Eugene does something stupid and intrusive and drives most of the business to Springfield next door. Second they get Salem to do it to the whole state to keep them from losing money from their stupidity. The plastic bag ban is the latest.

              • scott2harrison – are you in Eugene or Springfield?

                Darn $0.05 bag cost Eugene put into play is irritating. It cost me up to a $1 refund, darn it, because stores took away the $0.10 “good buyer” for using own bags 🙂 because I had a stack of bags to use, and I’d use every single one, even it meant putting one item in each bag, or doubling a bag … Plus, now I have to buy plastic bags for kitty litter, and poo pickup bags for the dog. And now we don’t have bags to put our cans in; which at $0.10/return, we no longer give to homeless, because we couldn’t be bothered (now we make the kid do it.) Yes, sure the last is state, but still, consequences …

                • I was wondering about the ban, but after a few seconds, figured that the specialty bag providers really benefit. One is permitted to wonder just who made some strategic campaign donations.

                  I have a spare 15 gallon tote. When the tote is full, I’ll take a large bag and take it to the local store. the owner limits returns to 50 bottles/cans a day, but that quantity takes months to achieve.

                  In California, the deposit was low enough in the 1990s that it was more profitable to crush the aluminum cans and sell them to the scrap dealers.

                  Posted from my laptop at the hotel; I get a fluoroscein angiogram at the retina doc’s tomorrow. Should be routine, with no problems showing up. That’s my hope and prayer, anyway.

                  • “specialty bag providers really benefit”

                    ??? Most the ones I have were promotional through different events. I already had more than I can use. The only ones I’ve paid for (and actually use) are the heavy duty ones from Albertsons and Fred Meyers. Got them before the ban/charge, bags required double or triple to prevent ripping. Don’t know what the non-profits for their events are paying.

                    Cans. We could take them to the bottle deposit place somewhere of/off hwy 99 or get one of their bags. Once it has cans as a particular height, you take in, drop it off, get more bags, they credit your account with a set amount. Neither method has any limits. Or I should say, kid could. It is over somewhere near his work. But he can’t drop off after work (12:30 AM or later – they aren’t open.) Before work they are generally busy. He just takes in the limit during weekends, once or twice.

                    He won’t buck the system. I would. Just use them as coupons, for buying things. They see me in there buying something two or 3 times a week. But, that’s been his job since forever; dad & I hate the machines. Never got an allowance. But he gets the can money. Still does. It is an on going joke.

                    • Yesterday was a loooong day. Specialty Bags == wastebasket sized trash bags. We’ll go through a few bags a week (on average) when we buy meat and such and break them up into meal-sized units. We prefer not to let that packaging material loose in the big garbage bag; it discourages raccoons and such.

                      If we hadn’t bought a few cases of plastic shopping bags last year, we’d have to use the 10 gallon liner bags we get from Costco.

                      I’m guessing that it’s those people and the like who wouldn’t mind a ban on the current lightweight plastic shopping bags. Also, there’ll be a market for the heavier reusable bags.

                      Saw the doc; no major issues. Next visit in February. Judging by past history, there will be a major winter storm somewhere around Feb 20, 2020.

                • Saw a study a while back ([sound of non-Alphabet search…] here we go: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0095069618305291 ) that concluded the plastic grocery bag bans in CA increased the sales of thicker plastic garbage bags, so the result was that the total volume of plastic bags increased. If you search for “NPR Rebecca Taylor plastic bag” you will find either an NPR story or an interview with her where she lays it out simply enough that even and NPR listener could figure out (as if!)

                  Taylor found these bag bans did what they were supposed to: People in the cities with the bans used fewer plastic bags, which led to about 40 million fewer pounds of plastic trash per year. But people who used to reuse their shopping bags for other purposes, like picking up dog poop or lining trash bins, still needed bags. "What I found was that sales of garbage bags actually skyrocketed after plastic grocery bags were banned," she says. This was particularly the case for small, 4-gallon bags, which saw a 120 percent increase in sales after bans went into effect.

                  So plastic-bag bag bans generate more plastic bags! Just another no-impact “do-something!” regulation brought to you first by the Glorious Single-Party Bear Flag Peoples Republic!

                  • Yes. Exactly!!!!! Between kitty litter, because I won’t pay $.05 for a paper bag, which i used to use (instead I’ll pay $.01 small paper bags), and whatever for poop bags (which since Costco had them recently was like $.005 per bag). I mean, come on really! I was using reusable bags before the “ban” and charge went in. Only because the bags, regardless of type, were so flimsy. Plus, you know, I got $.10 per reusable bag for using them. Probably saved $3 or $4 a month. Only time I got “non-reusable” grocery bags was when I needed to clean kitty litter!!!

                    • Now they are talking about finally ending the scurrilous scourge that is the small clear bags that you put your onions and carrots in to bring them to the checkout lane. Not sure how we’re supposed to replace those.

                    • So that is why the green onions in this area are in pre-sealed bags. (think like the celery ones, but closed at both ends)

                    • Use the ones from the meat department? Which (for now) they are required to carry to provide option to keep meat juices (blood) contained.

                      There are mesh reusable bags you can get. I found one, only use it for potatoes, apples, oranges, bananas.

          • The Glorious Bear Flag Peoples Republic has had a normal-capacity-magazine purchase ban for years. Rumor has it that CA DOJ or CHP unmarked vehicles have been seen to be hanging out in the Cabelas parking lot just over the border in Nevada along I-80, and that the occupants perk up when they spot California license plate vehicles. There have been reports of photos being snapped of CA-plate cars. Then by pure happenstance and with solid and documented probable cause, some CA-plate vehicles that were seen in said Cabelas parking lot happen to get stopped once back into CA, and the driver is asked for permission to search the car.

            Purely coincidentally and as a peripheral incident to the traffic stop, of course.

            I have not heard anything about what the Nevada authorities think about any rumored cross-border surveillance.

            • $SPOUSE tells me the local Oregon (20 miles from the CA border) Bi-Mart is refusing to sell ammo to California residents. I assume the same thing is happening for magazines.

              I wonder just who is going to set up a more sophisticated import scheme, and just who and how much will get bribed. I can think of some three way trades that might be attractive to organized (for various levels of organized) crime gangs. The mags might be the low-end of the trade. OTOH, that could get nasty.

              On the gripping hand, I can think of a few workarounds to ensure the car at Cabelas isn’t going to have anything illegal in it once it returns to CA. Depends on just how much CA is willing to do surveillance in Nevada. A few stalking complaints on the car sitters in the Cabelas lot might discourage the plain-clothes people, too

              • Well, moving ammo is cleaner since there’s as of yet no ammunition possession restrictions. The background-check-for-ammo-purchases law goes into effect on July 1, but that’s just another do-nothing gatekeeper, so semi trucks full of ammo rolling down I-5 are still completely legal, unlike semi truck full of cigarettes which get busted on CA freeways all the time now from what I understand, smuggling for tobacco tax rate arbitrage.

                There is a fair amount of amusement I’ve heard about in certain circles that smuggling tobacco is now more of a target for LE than smuggling pot.

                Since the mag possession law was completely voided in the courts and then a week later a stay was put in place while further higher proceedings proceed, I’m thinking only an idiot CA PD would expend scarce resources on looking for evil normal-cap magazine hoarders. If it were to come up in another case I’d bet the defense would laugh when the prosecutor added it to the pile. Going after someone for a law already voided on constitutionality grounds would make for an entertaining closing argument.

                The whole thing just makes the empirical case that even weapons prohibitions are trivial to bypass – see both Oz and the UK, where the criminals have no problem getting handguns. If smugglers can move mass cubic yards of dope, moving the same weight of pistols or AKs is a non-issue.

                And that’s not even looking at 3D printing.

                • $SPOUSE might have misinterpreted the situation at the Bi-Mart over ammo. It’s happened before, mercifully on rare occasions.

                  An acquaintance in Oregon bot busted for buying (on line!) cigarettes from a tribal outfit in Washington. Since the knee-jerk reaction to any problem in Oregon is to raise taxes (especially on Things Deplorables Like), cigarette taxes are really high. When I smoked (Ronaldus Magnus was president when I quit), the cost per pack was less than the amount that Oregon is set to *raise* cigarette taxes this year.

                  There’s been a major LEO effort to stop outgoing weed smuggling. This might take a bit of pressure off the CHP for incoming marijuana shipments.

                  • OBloodyHell

                    Oh, the hilarious parts is that, now that they’re constraining pot sales to “legally authorized dealers/growers”, that THERE’S A BLACK MARKET ARISING AGAIN.

                    Irony… Not a river in Egypt, but it’s flowing like one…

            • tregonsee314

              When I first moved to Massachusetts the state of New Hampshire had considerably lower prices on its alcoholic beverages. It also had state owned/run Liquor Stores that sold said beverages. The Mass state troopers would sit in unmarked cars (Crown Victorias in really cheap ugly trim levels) and report mass plates via radio to troopers over the line in Massachusetts who would then be stopped (this being officially illegal for other than VERY small quantities). The New Hampshire State troopers (and the legislators who depended on this traffic to avoid instituting a sales tax the third rail of New Hampshire politics) began ticketing the plain clothes vehicles for loitering (there was a sign no more than 30 minutes in a parking spot). The Mass troopers would park other places, but those being private businesses would then call in the local constabulary to drive them off for trespass as the Mass troopers also drove off their business. This finally ended sometime in the late 80’s when Massachusetts fiddled with its liquor laws (particularly around wholesalers) and Mass prices dropped to effectively the same as New Hampshire (or even less in some special cases).

            • OBloodyHell

              I heard the solution to that was to do it in pairs. One guy goes to the cabelas, buys the stuff both want, then meets the other some other place the cops aren’t, xfers it into their car, and he goes back while the “decoy” is stopped with nothing in the vehicle.
              You could even both go in to do the buy, but xport it back in the one whose car was not on the site, if you were worried about “straw purchase” arguments.

              • I heard the solution to that was to do it in pairs…

                Purely hypothetically of course. Or so I hear. From some dude I was talking to. Before my tragic boating accident, where all the records, along with lots of other property, were lost at sea.

                And ultimately this is why the new Alexa-in-your-car automation is a bad idea, unless you have some way to blackmail that automated always listening {feminine pejorative} to not rat you out to the authorities at the drop of Sundar Pichai’s hat.

                What we need is automation that’s loyal to the owner, not the manufacturer.

          • I suspect they won’t be that blatant. All they will really need to do is tell ranges they need to restrict ammo sales to customers…. and don’t allow customers to bring their own. Same way they’ll enforce the assault rifle bans, by making any use of the weapon impossible without legal jeopardy.

        • Dan Hamilton

          “i.e. law enforcement or the military employed for coercion.”
          NO!, NO!, NO!
          Use lethal force against the POLITICIANS that made the laws and ordered the confiscation.

          • That fella that shot up the Congressional baseball game tried that. I don’t necessarily agree with his reasons; but he was targeting the proper sources, and not the guys just following orders. kinda reminds me of the Green Arrow during the first season. “You have failed this city!” *THUNK*

            • OBloodyHell

              No. That assholevwas after Republicans alone.

              IF you’re going to do it, it has to be very specific. You need to aim for specific assholes, not “any politician”.

              • Ahem. That “assholevwas” was no “assholevwas” — he was a Berniebro.

                Some might call that a distinction without a difference, but being an “assholevwas” is non-partisan.

        • When you’re kneeling beside your bed saying your prayers tonight, say a word for Dick Anthony Heller and Antonin Scalia.

          • And for the presainted RBG to see the light and retire to enjoy her remaining years in some peace instead of sticking it out at work to die in office.

        • “use lethal force against agents of the government (i.e. law enforcement or the military employed for coercion.)”

          Concentrate on the bureaucrats and lawmakers first, if for no other reason than they’ll squeal for protection and tie down resources.

          • They aren’t the ones that will be knocking on your door, though.
            Gotta deal with the alligators crawling into the boat first.

          • Oh, and for the “only cops should have guns” files:
            https://www.gunsamerica.com/digest/atf-caught-w-pants-down/

            “The ATF is being cagey about how many firearms the guard stole, but his plea agreement indicates that he nabbed at least 3,000 Glock slides, over 4,000 firearm parts, fifteen rifles, eighty handguns, and nine NFA Class III firearms.

            The ATF hasn’t said how many of the firearms and parts it has recovered, but the Journal Sentinel reports that the stolen firearms have been recovered across the country, in Mexico and the Caribbean, and at crime scenes.”

            • wince

              Now, my grandfather never went without drink during the Prohibition because he was the meter reader and went to the Customs office once a month while wearing BIG boots, in order to read the meter, but that was only two bottles a month.

    • “Nazi Germany, how it came to be that way, always fascinated me. …I found it a strange period in history which, as an American, I simply couldn’t comprehend. How .. HOW … could people have stood by and let such things happen.”

      The theory I’ve been working on, since becoming interested in the days of the Weimar Republic, is a fairly basic one, which is: People vote for what they can be plausibly convinced will improve their current circumstances … and the worse their current circumstances, the easier this is. Wherever totalitarians have been voted into power or otherwise mostly peacefully taken it, as far as I can tell, it’s always been in social contexts already so broken or unstable that they genuinely look like the better alternative. Even Hugo Chavez’s rise to power in Venezuela was a direct result of the country’s economic crises of the 1980s and 1990s.

      Nobody voted in the NSDAP expecting a dictatorship (although probably more than a few did vote them in hoping to see those “uppity Jews put in their place”), but most were so fed up with the woes of Germany’s economic collapse and paralyzing factionalism (and with the country’s humiliation in the eyes of the world, which if less admirable is also very human) that I expect anybody willing and able just to get things organized again would have seemed like a saviour. Totalitarianism is always a lot easier to implement, or tolerate, when you think you’re on the side of those solving the problems rather than creating them — and if the totalitarians actually do manage coincidentally to solve some problems, or at least provide a facsimile thereof, they just look all the better.

      • Jeff Greason

        Beautifully summarized in “The Road to Serfdom”, by Hayek, who lived through it. “Let’s get a man who can make a plan work!” is step 9 in the cartoon version, if memory serves….

      • Dan Hamilton

        You FORGOT there were OTHERS trying to convince the people that THEY would improve the conditions. The COMMUNISTS!!!
        Without the Communists, the NSDAP would have had a MUCH harder time.

        • True. Promising to end for good the street violence between political factions was one of the things that got the Nazis elected, because they were clever enough to look like they were responding to the fights by ending them rather than calling attention to how often they were the instigators.

          Morality always lies in who can convincingly present themselves as having thrown the second punch.

          • Good think Antifa didn’t get their act together.

          • [cough, cough] Antifa. [cough] Ku Klux Klan.

            On the other side, the various “crazed right-wingers” can’t seem to organize past trash-talking on the net.

            “Arise! You have nothing to lose but your chains!”

            “Oh yeah?! You’re not the boss of me!”

            • Dan Hamilton

              What organization is needed?
              When it is forced on us.
              Targets – Bureaucrats, Politicians, judges, and possibly media.
              Plan, execute, STFU. Repeat as needed.
              Continue until they go back to the Constitution.

          • “Street violence”

            That’s an interesting take on what you find in the diaries and letters of both Rommel and Guderian, who were involved as officers in the battles between the Communists and the Freikorps (their outfit). It doesn’t really fit pitched battles involving up to division size forces including artillery barrage, mostly in the East, between 1919 and 1921.

    • ” Nazi Germany, how it came to be that way, always fascinated me” Sebastian Haffner, who grew up in Germany between the wars, attempts to answer that question in his memoir. It is a very insightful, personal, and well-written book; I reviewed it at some length here:

      https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/42473.html

    • And THAT is why TSA must be destroyed.

      It is as Dr. Jerry Pournelle once called it, “Security Theater”. It makes us no more secure, it deludes us into thinking we’re more secure, it destroys our Constitutional rights, and it programs us into allowing the government to further destroy our rights.

      • And as Federally Sanctioned Theater, it cannot even end it’s run, even when it no longer makes anyone actually feel safer, yet continues fondling citizens crotches or scanning and emailing the unsharable scans of women with large chests.

      • It will take a 9-11 level catastrophe to end their tyranny. No “Peace Dividend” will eliminate them.

      • And the thing is, it’s not even *good* security theater. Anyone who knows anything about how the TSA works knows that they are terrible at their jobs.

        • The French version descended into farce by June 2002. We saw the search of the 70 year old grandmother while the inconvenient-to-detain swarthy gentlemen were waved through. SMH

          • You are all overlooking the single most critical metric in this: it has worked.

            For socialist cargo cultists, that’s all that matters.

            • It caught the incompetent. The truly competent didn’t bother trying. And they can bend down and kiss the ground that I’m not a terrorist.

              • Details, schmeetails. The dance was done and the hijackings stopped. It is scoffers like you who will ruin the juju and let the terrorists succeed again. You probably want planes flown into buildings, you fascist.

    • Bruce Schneier is a cryptographer and privacy advocate. He’s apparently on a lot of lists; he has described encountering TSA and foreign genital-fondlers who recognized him by sight before even looking at his papers.

      He’s big enough that he has been invited to various special meetings with Federal agencies. And then when arriving and finding they hadn’t bothered to mention he’d have to sign an NDA, then publicly refusing and walking out, much to their confusion. Who *wouldn’t* sign an NDA? “If you sign it, we’ll give you Secret Information!” Which they probably plagiarized from some of his articles or books to start with…

    • In They Thought They Were Free, the author wrote that he thought that none of the Nazis he had befriended knew about the Holocaust — in the absolute sense such as you know you are reading my comment.

  4. Wales are lovely and noble creatures, graceful, playful, immensely powerful, friendly and with brains greater, in proportion to their mass, than humans. What better cause, eh?

  5. Christopher M. Chupik

    “The movies make it seem like everyone rises up at once and overturns a dictatorial regime.”

    That’s because lefties see people as “The People” who all think the same thing and want the same thing at the same time. In short, they see people as they want them to be, instead of what they are.

    • While singing “Do You Hear the People Sing?” at the top of their lungs, no doubt.

      Though even in Les Miserables, the actual people of Paris took one look at the students in the barricade and said, “Aw, Hell no! We don’t want any part of this lunacy, you guys have fun on your own.”

      • Jeff Greason

        More like…

        The branch of the linden is leafy and green,
        The Rhine gives its gold to the sea.
        But somewhere a glory awaits unseen.
        Tomorrow belongs to me….

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        And wearing jaunty berets, retiring afterwards for some overpriced lattes at Starbucks.

      • It is important to note that in Les Miz the students are portrayed as idealistic fools. Modern audiences likely have ZERO knowledge of what they were protesting about, nor what their revolution hoped to establish — beyond, of course, “Social Justice.”

        Like the guy from Queens says, “I got your Social Justice right here, babe!”

        As a Corsican Lieutenant Colonel said, “Nice revolution you had there. I aim to restore order.”

      • I’m reminded of this bit from Galavant:

  6. “When a country is at war, a man wants his country to win, even if he hates the regime.” I’m reminded of Colonel (later General) Hans Oster, one of the first and most effective of the German military resistants to Naziism…In late 1939, Oster began to pass military information about Germany’s plans for an invasion of Western Europe to his friend Bert Sas, the Dutch military attache. Sas assured him that this information would be passed to the Belgians, and Oster surely expected that the information would also reach the French and the British.

    The decision to pass detailed military information to an enemy state was extremely painful to Oster, despite his loathing of Naziism–he knew that if the Allies acted effectively on the information he was giving them, it would likely mean the deaths of tens of thousands of German soldiers, among them many of his friends. Nevertheless, he did it. After one session with Sas, Oster unburdened himself to a friend:

    “It’s much easier to take a pistol and shoot someone down, it’s much easier to storm a machine-gun emplacement, than to do what I have decided to do. And if I should die, I beg you to remain my friend after my death–a friend who knew the circumstances under which I took this decision, and what drove me to do things which perhaps others will never understand, or at least would never have done themselves.”

    (In the end, Oster’s information was ignored by the recipients)

    I think it speaks well for Oster that he did what he did AND that he found it very painful to do so.

    • “When a country is at war, a man wants his country to win, even if he hates the regime.”
      On viewing the same quote what came to mind for me was the anti-Iraq-war crowd’s immediate and visceral reaction, and the same people’s lack or response to Libya or Syria/ISIS.

      There are folks whose reaction is exactly fully opposite of Herr Dr. Von Braun’s: When the U.S. is at war, first they check to see who is President, then if answer is “not their team” their reaction is to desire that whoever is the nation’s opponent to win, or if the Oval Office is occupied by their party, to stay silent.

      Perhaps these people cannot be said to actually be of the same country as those who want the U.S. to win no matter who might happen to be in the White House at the time.

      One can argue at length about the decision to respond to the endless provocations by invading Iraq and the subsequent decision to stay and do nation building, or the decision to blow up Libya and leave the wreckage unrebuilt, or to stand around while Syria imploded until ISIS reared it’s ugly head as a direct result of the precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, and then return to fight ISIS across national borders using the cover and concealment of the Lightbringer’s captive press corps, but in each case U.S. was at war.

      Principled pacifism is one thing: Rooting for an enemy’s victory or otherwise dependent on something as mundane as party affiliation is just despicable.

      • Principled pacifism is one thing

        Which is how the Gaslight Media disgraced itself since the Iraq War’s start: ignoring the Code Pink & Cindy Sheehan* protests when Bush/Cheney were no longer in office even though troops were still in the line of fire.

        *Their exploitation of that poor disturbed woman is particularly damning.

      • Timothy E. Harris

        Was the U.S actually at war in Libya, or were we just supplying Islamists who wanted Khadaffi gone? The U.S & Europe lost much due to that hare-brained meddling.

        • Was the U.S actually at war in Liby

          Well, the Dowager Empress did claim credit with “Venimus, vidimus, mortuus” but at this point what difference does it make?

        • Stephen W. Houghton

          To my mind the worst thing about Libya is that he gave up his WMDs under a US promise not to get rid of him. Then we broke our word for no real benefit.

          • Amsel, Matthew

            The benefit was to the Italians, who were able to seize his assets in their banks (some stupidly large percentage of their total deposits belonged to Ghaddafi)

  7. Jeff Greason

    Second: being in the space business, but of a later generation, von Braun’s presence is inescapable. I’m just a bit too late to have ever worked with any of the Paperclip crew, but early enough that I worked with folks who did work with them. It is very hard to find a good biography of von Braun as they tend to fall in to the extremes of “villian-hating” or “hero worship”. I do recommend “Dr. Space” by Bob Ward, which manages to avoid those extremes.

    It is worth giving thought to how, for example, U.S. members of the defense industry would have been viewed and treated, had the U.S.S.R. won the Cold War.

    But I don’t give him a pass, either — he was not a ‘little man’. He could have crippled the V-2 effort once Mittelwork got underway, and he was clever enough to have done it and gotten away with it. They were having a very high failure rate and all he had to do was be a little less clever in solving that problem. Now asking for that level of courage and commitment is asking a lot; most people probably would have done what he did in that situation. But he could have done more, and he didn’t.

    • If one refuses to work with any but angels one will often find oneself working alone, as it is doubtful angels will want to work with you.

  8. Tom Lehrer’s “Werner von Braun” (ca. 1965) certainly didn’t help WvB’s reputation.

    “Don’t say that he’s hypocritical,
    Rather that he’s apolitical.
    ‘Once the rockets go up,
    Who cares where they come down.
    That’s not my department’,
    Says Werner von Braun.”

    Unfair, yes. Funny, yep. Note: I did the lyric snippet from memory…

    • “In both English and German
      I know how to count down
      And I’m learning Chinese”
      Says Werner von Braun.

      Not my favorite by Lehrer, but up there (favorite is still “So Long Mom”)

      • For years, my morning shower song was “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”.

        I’ve tried “The Elements”, but that’s a challenge.

        • Yes “The Elements” is hard but so is it’s source material “I am the very model of a Modern Major General”. Tried to sing that once for an example piece and got stars around my eyes from oxygen deprivation.

          Of course my two favorites by Mr Lehrer were “Alma” and “Who’s Next”.

          We’ll all stay serene and calm when Alabama gets the bomb…

          • It’s hard to pick out a favorite, actually. “Alma” is good when I’m mowing the pasture. “In Old Mexico” for other times, and then there’s “We Will All Go Together When We Go”. I think that one was my snowplow song last winter.

          • For me it’s “Bright College Days”:

            Turn on the spigot
            Pour the beer and swig it
            And
            gaudeamus igit — tur!

            Lehrer was one of the cleverest lyricists Everest — uh, ever.

          • We’ll all stay serene and calm when Alabama gets the bomb…

            I’m more than a little uneasy at the idea of California or New York getting it, however.

    • Feather Blade

      As my father once pointed out – where the rockets went wasn’t Von Braun’s department, so it’s not reasonable to expect him to know, care, or pay attention to their destination.

  9. Jeff Greason

    Third:

    One of the historical complexities of von Braun is that he clearly was one passionately in the grip of the dream of space, a condition I share. He was inspired by Oberth in the same way I was inspired by O’Neill. He and Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell and Walt Disney prepared the groundwork for the American public to be ready to push out in to the space frontier. But …

    The modern space movement has been characterized, and in my opinion accurately, as “von Braunians”, “O’Neillians”, and “Saganites”. https://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-space/article/2004-04/beyond-nasa-dawn-next-space-age/

    The “von Braun” model was the massive government project run along the lines of National Socialism — the companies might be privately owned and operated but they would build what they were told, for reasons they were not to question, with government in total charge. He saw in the 30’s that only governments had the money to do it. He brought his team over to the Americans because they had the money to do it. He lobbied endlessly for a large government project to start in America, and when it finally did, it really was on socialist lines. He had a lot to do with the fact that America made it first to the moon — and a lot to do with the fact that we did it in a profoundly un-American way, with civil service employees “taking nothing but rocks, leaving nothing but footprints and instruments”, without prospectors, miners, farmers, settlers, or businessmen hoping to make a buck. It wasn’t inevitable. Max Hunter (developer of the Thor — later Thor-Delta, later Delta launch vehicle) used to say “in any competition where privately run U.S. companies were allowed to compete with von Braun’s team directly, we ((colorful euphemism for ‘won’))”. Gemini-Titan was one of the most successful U.S. human space programs and not a von Braun component in sight — and there were credible proposals (‘Blue Gemini’ and Manned Orbiting Laboratory) to base a U.S. ‘space force’ on that capability.

    It took a generation before the Gerard O’Neill vision of “maybe we should do this on a private enterprise basis” began to take hold, and another generation before the dreamers following O’Neill began to displace the dreamers following von Braun, and the hope that one more President, one more Congress, one more foreign challenge (Russia! Europe! China! India!) will provide the pretext, continue to enthrall far too many and keep holding us back.

    That he had a huge influence on America becoming a space power is inarguable. Whether he was a help or a hindrance to America becoming a spacefaring nation is a question on which history has not yet reached a verdict.

    • And I’d term everything past Skylab as The Ascendency of the Saganites at NASA. The fact that NASA even has an office tasked with protecting the Moon and Mars from evil Earther contamination is bonkers – contaminating, colonizing, and occupying other places is the whole and entire point! Sure if there’s life under the ice on the icy moons outsystem we should be careful, but if life is that hard to find on a body, said body should be fair game for anyone willing and able to have a go.

    • > von Braun … Oberth

      Even Tsiolkovsky.

      Household names. Yet though Goddard lived to see the end of WWII, he is mostly forgotten. von Braun’s V-2s used technology Goddard had patented.

      Eisenhower famously credited victory in WWII to “The bazooka, the jeep, the atom bomb and the C-47.” Yeah, it was Goddard who invented the bazooka, though he didn’t get much credit for that, either.

      • Jeff Greason

        Even though Goddard was definitely the first to reduce liquid-fueled rocketry to practice, the reason why he is not harked back to as much is that he worked in such secrecy that even some contemporaries working in the field didn’t find out about his work until long after they were inspired by others.

        Tsiolkovsky was even more obscure and his work was nearly forgotten for a long time. But you hear him mentioned now because when you cite the fundamentals of the math for rockets, he got there first, so in an academic sense, he has priority (and his work is really amazing — he was not just the first to work out liquid rockets, but the first to consider beamed-energy propulsion, solar sails, ion rockets).

        Goddard, independent of Tsiolkovsky, worked out the same stuff a decade or two later, and then actually proceeded to experimental demonstrations and work — but again, working mostly in secret.

        Oberth, independent of Goddard *and* Tsiolkovsky, came up with the same conclusions and then published a book which became widely read in scientific circles and that’s why most workers in the field were inspired by Oberth. Von Braun was. And Sanger. Sanger, in Austria, was the first to rediscover Tsiolkovsky’s work and give him credit for being the first to come up with it, while Goddard kept on working in secret.

        Esnault-Pelterie, in France, apparently worked it all out independently YET AGAIN, but published after all of them.

        In America, there were four main lines of rocket development in the pre-WW2 period — the Pasadena group (from which we get Aerojet and JPL), knew of Goddard but got their literature from Oberth.

        Goddard was still there, and his most direct disciple who took it further was Truax.

        And then we get the curious case of the American Rocket Society. That was inspired by Goddard but again, they couldn’t get information, so they did their work from German sources. And then it gets funny. Regenerative cooling, invented by Goddard but not published, was first published by Sanger in 1935. The American Rocket Society folks found that paper (obscure in the U.S.), and used it to make their first regeneratively cooled engines, eventually scaling up to a 1500 lbf engine — the first really sucessful regenerative cooled engine in the U.S. built by a team of four people, who formed Reaction Motors, inc.

        When the US Army Air Corps and NACA started a project for a proper rocket-powered research airplane, the XS-1 (later X-1), the only folks who could provide one was Reaction Motors. The requirement was for 6000 lbf, the RMI folks took four of the rusty motors out of their backyard and strapped them together with metal plumbers tape, spraying them black to cover the rust. That became the XLR-11 engine which powered the X-1, X-1A, X-1E, first version of the X-15, X-24, M2-F2, and HL-10.

        Goddard died before the surge in rocket funding. The news of his work inspired many, but the technical heritage came from other sources.

        • Goddard mostly wasn’t working on secret. He was working in obscurity. He was always inviting people to see what he was doing, but most of them didn’t even come.

          The aviatrix Ruth Nichols did come and see, and then she couldn’t persuade her friends to pay attention to him, either!

          • tregonsee314

            Yup Goddard worked in a backwater called Worcester Ma. As a Grad student at WPI working on a masters (my Alma Mater) he nearly destroyed one floor of the Salisbury Labs (then the Chemistry building). Not sure what he was working on. Got tossed went over to Clark University. Worked there for a while. Early rocket work was done in Worcester but the City fathers sent him out to Auburn about 5 miles south after several experiments exploded. Later Auburn tosses him out and he ends up in the South west somewhere. But as far as I can tell he was a serious introvert so not a self promoter.

            • Jeff Greason

              Goddard’s later, more ambitious work was in Roswell, NM not far from the modern White Sands Missile Range

              • Weirdly older son discovered Goddard when he was required to write a scientist’s bio at twelve and then decided to adopt h ex posto facto as a name sake. I think rah would have laughed.

          • And after dealing with The Press is it is and was, that was something of a feature. “They done our Nellie wrong.”

  10. Impossible not to.  Look, guys, seriously, I suspect even the uninvolved unconcerned Germans knew about the Holocaust.  Could he/they do anything about it?

    I recently read a small book about Auschwitz-Birkenau, The Kingdom of Auschwitz by Otto Friedrich.  Not a very pleasant read, but quite illuminating.  

    The German government did take steps to keep some of what it did in the camps from general circulation. The collection and housing in camps of the communists and criminals was accepted. Having largely accepted the theory of eugenics, popular at the time, the addition of the subhumans was accepted as well.

    Keeping it quiet was greatly aided by the fact that the everyday person in Germany at the time understood that it was best, for survival’s sake, not to be too publicly aware — or to question the government. 

    • Ah, but the rumor mill had what was happening at those camps, and any German with any interest could find out. The details were kept out of the papers, sure, but somebody’s cousin had the contract for delivering this or that to the German camps, or had a relative peripherally assigned near the big Polish camps, or had a relative in the SS who bragged about what they were doing, or similar. Even in occupied countries the rumors turned out to be pretty accurate.

      Sure, there was a low signal to noise ratio, with lost of non-true rumors to sift through, but especially in wartime the rumor mill knows all.

      • The problem is, if you’re like me, you require overwhelming proof of evil to take the level of action necessary to stop your own government from doing something bad during a war. For the German people to actively oppose their own government during WWII, it would have been considered an act of treason. Put another way, what would have happened if the Bundy group in Nevada had decided that the U.S. had violated the Constitutional rights of Americas of Japanese descent (which the government did) and had attacked the camps to free them? Yeah. They’d have been rounded up and executed for treason.

        • For the German people to actively oppose their own government during WWII, it would have been considered an act of treason.

          And an excellent way to get a very up close and intimate look at what was going on inside the camps.

        • Just ask the White Rose society how effective and life-prolonging resistance to the Nazi regime was . . .

      • As we can see with the recent #MeToo revelations, people have an incredible capacity ti ignore what is right in front of their noses. And when no longer able to deny obvious facts they can get a little carried away with their tar & feathers.

    • Dan Hamilton

      Just like the New York Times kept it quite.
      Just like the Democrat US Government kept it quite.

  11. Doing what you have to do because baby needs shoes can be its own kind of courage, because that too is a hard decision. Do you save the baby on the tracks, or the whole trainful of wise old men?

    • Feather Blade

      The baby on the tracks.

      If the old men were so wise, they’d have known better than to all ride on the same train.

      • If the old men were so wise, they’d have known better than to all ride on the same train.

        But what if that train is the Acela Express, carrying Congresspersons and Senators home?

        Ummmm … okay, not the strongest argument, I concede.

    • It wasn’t heroic. Heroic would have been turning my back on the dream and working on something for the money that didn’t require me to lie. But I lacked the fortitude.

  12. Stephen W. Browne

    I remember reading Arthur C Clarke said he straight up asked Von Braun if he knew what was going on in the concentration camps.
    Von Braun (from memory) replied, “I did not know. I could have found out if I’d tried, but I did not and I despise myself for it.”

    • This sounds like what the Church calls “affected vincible ignorance”, i.e. when you deliberately refrain from trying to find out whether something is true or not precisely because you’re afraid it may be true, and wish to avoid the responsibility of knowing that.

      Though he did not use that specific terminology, C.S. Lewis’s essay “Man or Rabbit?” is in part about this particular failing.

      • I find that what matters most to me is not whether somebody sinned at some point but what they learned from that sin and how they acted in response. How many of those engaging in the recent shunning of Kyle Kashuv do you think support application of the same standard to their adolescent ignorance?

        • Given they are championing one of Kyle’s classmates so this year, in public said certain people wouldn’t care about dead babies if the blood splashed on their faces (and Harvard is happily welcoming him) none of them.

          And they know it. But they also know they won’t be called on it, so they don’t care.

  13. c4c

  14. That is not the way real revolutions work.

    The “Velvet Revolution” is far and away the exception among the world’s revolutions. Not only did it occur in an instant, it was not followed by a sequence of failed regimes devolving into terror and tyranny.

    In revolutionary fashions, what we are seeing in Venezuela is far more the norm.

    • TheOtherSean

      That whole series of post-Soviet revolutions and major reforms in Eastern Europe were relatively quick and saw remarkably little violence and bloodshed. Even the Romanian Revolution, in which around a thousand people lost their lives, was over in eleven days.

      • Collapsing empires are a different dynamic than overthrowing the central government of the Empire (or even tribe).

        • Which in that case took another two years and arguably still hasn’t sorted itself out.

          • Eh, we’ll see what happens when Putin passes. Russia has gone back to its Tsarist roots. I suspect it’ll follow a large number of the other Dynasties in Russia. Couple generations. Then gets shoved over by the next Dynasty down the line which’ll last a couple of generations which…

            • I think that’s the betting outcome, but we’ll see.

              Is Putin’s son even prominent yet?

            • I’m voting for a crisis that results in Russia being reduced again to being the Grand Duchy of Moscow, with some Putin-like lunatic running the place.

              The demographics and the economy do not speak for Russia remaining as it is, not with a political adventurer as incompetent as Putin is at the helm. I can’t wait for him to have to deal with the Chinese deciding to peel off their old Siberian territories plus some, and then watch Putin look around for allies against the Chinese. He’s set the precedent, with Georgia and the Crimea, and it’s going to be used against him. Sino-irredentia, here we come…

              What’s most humorous about it? The Chinese are going to be using mostly Russian-designed weapons to do it with.

              • I wouldn’t count on that. If it goes that route it’ll be under his successor, not Putin.

              • My bet if that happens is that suddenly we’ll find ourselves allying with Russia against the Chinese. Then the Russians join NATO.

                Then, oh, hello backstory to Starship Troopers. Didn’t see you over there.

                • Clancy, too. Bear and the Dragon.

                  I saw something recently about a lot of Russian people feeling betrayed about what happened following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They expected that they would be welcomed into Europe, habing thrown off their oppressors. The fact that their closest Europran neighbors viewed THEM as the oppressors didn’t sit well with them.

            • Putin is the best Tsar the Russians have had in 150 years. He is very competent. He is also very dangerous, and needs more Russians. He also has enough nukes to destroy civilization.

              One of the worst things anyone has done in the American history is what the democrats have done in trying to poison our relationship with Russia. We messed with Putin’s “election” which might have been less corrupt than ours.

              Russia has no history of peaceful passing of power. Russia lives in a very dangerous neighborhood.

              • One of the worst things anyone has done in the American history is what the democrats have done in trying to poison our relationship with Russia.

                Don’t sweat it — they’ll have A LOT more flexibility after the election (presuming — G-D Forbid — they win.)

              • If our elections were corrupt the way Russia’s were. Hillary would be dictator for life.

              • Competency? ROTFLMAO… Get back to us in another generation, and then tell me how wise and competent Putin is.

                In my book, he’s about as competent as whatever Cheka operative it was that chose to “encourage” the Black Hand to murder Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, that day in 1914. You know–That little “op” that wound up killing the majority of the main-line Romanov family off, with delayed effect?

                Putin is a short-term genius, and a long-term moron/fool. Track the trajectory of the Russian state, since his move into Georgia and the Crimea–How many dead Russians, direct, and how many more from indirect causes due to the effect on the Russian economy stemming from sanctions? They don’t have the reserves to be playing games like they are, at all–The damage he did to the economy alone has set back military modernization by decades, and his actions in Syria and Ukraine have discouraged voluntary enlistment in Russian forces to a degree that is mind-boggling.

                Mark my words–Putin is going to be remembered as a feckless incompetent in about a generation, because where he’s taking Russia right now is going to end with Russia consisting of that Grand Duchy of Moscow, again.

                Hell, I’ll lay you money right now that Finland and the other Baltics are going to be peeling off Karelia and the other northern areas before too much longer, and they’ll be doing it to peals of joy from the indigenous locals looking to disembark from the sinking ship that is Russia. Won’t happen tomorrow, but I guarantee you that it will be happening about the time Putin or his successor cranks up the draft machine for the Russian army to go fight the Chinese hordes in Siberia. The minute they do that, all those “ethnic Russians” are suddenly going to remember that they had all these forgotten Baltic ancestors, and start speaking Estonian and Finnish.

                The really (darkly) humorous thing to watch is going to be when whatever idiot is running the place tries to turn the switch on the nukes. Do you really think that a “Strategic Rocket Forces” run by idiots that can’t figure out how to keep a drydock with their only carrier on it afloat is going to suddenly demonstrate competence at maintaining and the impromptu firing of “strategic nuclear weapons”?

                The resulting embarrassment and reparations costs are going to bankrupt whatever is left of the Russian Federation. These idiots are a third-world country masquerading as a super-power, and it’s not going to look at all funny, what happens when the bluff is called by China.

                Good grief… They’ve got one locked-in weapons customer, India, and they can’t even muster the basic competence to service that customer reliably. You think their own weapons are somehow magically more effective, and any better maintained? The whole shoddy edifice is a facade, a Potemkin village on a nation-state scale. It won’t end well, for anyone in the impact area, when it all comes crashing down.

                • Absent Merkel, Putin would be gasping for air, but thanks to Angela committing to being dependent on a Russian owned and operated gas pipeline her country is dedicated to squatting whenever Vlad says “Crap!”

                  It is almost as if she is a deep cover Soviet-trained operative, still run by her former masters.

                • “Do you really think that a “Strategic Rocket Forces” run by idiots that can’t figure out how to keep a drydock with their only carrier on it afloat is going to suddenly demonstrate competence at maintaining and the impromptu firing of “strategic nuclear weapons”?”

                  Probably not, but given the stakes, I’m not sure that’s a bet I’d want to make regardless of how good the odds appear in my favour.

                  Almost every catastrophic war in history was started because the initiator bet on being able to manage the consequences. If the anti-nuclear paranoia of the ’80s had one good element it was the absolute refusal to countenance that particular delusion.

      • tregonsee314

        Other Sean some of the sates (Checkoslovakia, Poland) devolved fairly smoothly. Yugoslavia falling apart on the other hand was seriously nasty. I don’t think a lot of the ‘Stan SSR’s faired much better. Of course Yugoslavia seems to have been held in check sheerly by the general nastiness of Tito.

        • TheOtherSean

          Yugoslavia was in something of a different category than the rest of the Eastern Europe in several major ways. First, it was an independent communist state rather than being part of the USSR or the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact. Second, it had always been suffering from ethnic/nationalist tensions from the time it had been created in the wake of the First World War, as both a monarchy and a communist state – and it had never been ethnically cleansed at Stalin’s orders like much of the rest of Eastern Europe.

          The ‘Stans were a fairly mixed bag. Uzbekistan declared their independence and announced there would be elections. Kazakhstan declared independence but spent the first decade or so after under authoritarian rule but with market reforms. Tajikistan had a civil war. Kyrgyzstan achieved a peaceful independence but had troubles some years later – much of which relates to inter-ethnic tensions. Turkmenistan declared independence but its authoritarian leadership largely remained in place.

          • Uzbekistan announced that there would be elections. So far, there’s yet to be an actual one.

            • TheOtherSean

              Oh, they’ve had several sets of elections and laws since, including at least one wonderful bout of “let’s change the law and let me stay president for a while longer”.

          • Yugoslavia was kept together pretty well by various royalist/republican parties. Tito made it his priority to kill off royalist and republican people fighting the Nazis, and to get the Allies to fund his forces (and thus help him kill off the rest of the Resistance).

            • In fairness, the Chetniks also made it their priority to kill off the Titoists, and fighting the Nazis was secondary. Tito was just better at it.

          • Do not, under any circumstance whatsoever, attempt to use that region formerly known as “Yugoslavia” as a template for anything other than that former parrot of a nation-state. Yugoslavia has so many different things going on within it that you really cannot use it as an example for much of anything, once you factor out the mass of unique features that don’t map onto anything other than the internal contradictions and inherent insanities of the indigenous population and terrain.

            For the love of God, the Romans had problems with the place, and that was after essentially conducting a series of genocides on the locals. What was once Illyricum was essentially depopulated several times under Roman administration, and the problems kept coming back.

            Roll forward a few centuries and grand movements of populations, and you have the Slavs show up, and they take up the local hobbies of being troublesome to whoever thought they ran the place. It’s endemic, “in the water”, or something. Call it a curse, but everyone who thought to “manage” that region has regretted ever touching it. In their own way, the residents are even more troublesome and nutty than Afghans, and about as much trouble to deal with.

  15. I’ve always had sympathy for those in totalitarian regimes who did their best to simply keep their head down and their loved ones safe. I imagine I myself would do similar – maintain outward appearances, snark in private, and keep an eye out for a chance to escape to a better place. If it means working for those you despise, well, sometimes you do what you have to do. Like von Braun.

    The ones I am interested in (but for whom I have no sympathy for) are the ones who prattle about how could anyone have let the Nazis take over, and how they would have and do stand up to everyday “tyranny”. You know, the #Resistance types. They are, of course, the first ones who turn into groveling, sniveling, self-flagellating weasels when the tyranny they help foster turns its eye on them.

    • I’ve always had sympathy for those in totalitarian regimes who did their best to simply keep their head down


      Such cultures tend to make just getting by appallingly difficult, which creates incentives to get an extra bite of cheese by ratting out your neighbors.

  16. … winning a war so that your family estates aren’t plundered

    Maybe it was just Robert Louis Stevenson, but there seem to be many cases of families with a son in either camp in a revolution, ensuring that the family estates would remain in the hands of the senior or junior lad.

    It makes sense: whether the crown is held by Maude or Stephen matters less than whether the manor is held by your family.

    Before you judge the decisions of anybody in a nation at war, you need to look at the information and apparent options available. It is unlikely that the Nazi news media was any more reliable than our contemporary journolists, nor that resistance seemed less futile to the average citizen of the Third Reich than it does to most in America today.

    • My husband’s family waaaaay back in England was so prolific that they had a branch of the family on every side of several internal conflicts. The family went on. (Whether that was the motive or not.)

      • One of the best bits of Churchill’s Life of Marlborough is the early part talking about how “fun” it was for the Royalist branch of the family to live with the Puritan branch, in a house half-ruined by the civil war.

    • “Before you judge the decisions of anybody in a nation at war, you need to look at the information and apparent options available. It is unlikely that the Nazi news media was any more reliable than our contemporary journolists, nor that resistance seemed less futile to the average citizen of the Third Reich than it does to most in America today.”

      But the Nazis didn’t just appear out of nowhere one day. Hitler would never have become Chancellor without the support of a very substantial % of the German population…probably at least 30-40%. And before 1933, the Nazis did not control the media, although they did engage in ever-increasing intimidation tactics against both media and opposition political parties.

      So, while State violence may have *kept* the Nazis in power, it was largely non-State violence…politically-motivated thuggish behavior…that largely enabled them to take power in the first place.

      Which precedent is a reason to be concerned about the increasing use of violence and intimidation tactics on the part of the American Left.

      • That said and I understand your warning about leftists violence, it was leftist non-state violence that aided the Nazis. The Brown Shirts did fight in the streets, but often (and initially mostly to the best of my knowledge) against Communists who were already committing street violence.

        In that, the commentators saying Trump presages right wing take over (not is, but presages) are at least learning from history. The Nazis used communist violence to present themselves are orderliness and Germanness while the government was ineffectual against such violence.

        This is not that far from Franco, who was not a fascist. Look for interviews with Falange members who survived the Civil War. They will tell you Franco co-opted them and instituted a right wing aristocracy rule instead of fascism.

        I think the comparison to Franco is the most apt one for the US and that Trump is a chance to avoid a Franco. The issues that empowered Franco are much closer to the US than the issues that empowered Hitler. The Leftist war on religion, in particular, was very important in the Spanish Civil War.

        • There were several high-profile political murders in the 1920s which were not either carried out by Communists or directed at Communists. One was the killing of Walter Rathenau, a wealthy and cultured industrialist, a higly assimilated Jew, who had served Germany as economic director in WWI…he was murdered in June 1922. Another was Matthias Erzberger, who headed the German delegation at the Armistice “negotiations”…murdered even earlier, in October 1919. Although the Nazi Party was barely getting going by 1919-1922, it is fair to call the killers proto-Nazis, given their general alignment with Nazi thinking.

          Sebastian Haffner, in the memoirs I quoted above, said that there was great politicization and frequent violence immediately after the end of WWI…politicization to the point that the *sports clubs* were identified as left-wing clubs and right-wing clubs.

          • McKinley was assassinated back in 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, Thing is, Anarchists and Communists have much more in common with each other than they have with capitalism. So the anarchy movement in America back in the early 1900s probably set the stage for, and interleaved with, the rise of communism in the U.S. Certainly the murderous activities of the anarchists of McKinley’s decade parallels the murderous activities of the communists later on.

            It’s one of the reasons why the brief appearance of Antifa was so disturbing. They behaved as anarchists, supported a communist-socialist world view, and opposed those they see as fascists the same way the communists did in 1930’s Germany. (Never mind that the fascists they thought they were opposing were drug and alcohol fuel illusions turning a handful of white supremacists into massive raging hordes or Nazis.)

            Makes you wonder what the next violent flashmob of idiots is going to be motivated by.

            • “It’s one of the reasons why the brief appearance of Antifa was so disturbing.”

              This rather implies you believe they went away, which doesn’t fit with, say, their appearance at the protest of the KKK march in Ohio last month.

  17. when a system is corrupt and oligarchic

    IOW, normal.

  18. One of the books went on about how evil Von Braun pushed for the Americans to “win” space when the USSR would have done just as well, since it was all for humanity.

    “Whether you are pushing little old ladies in front of buses our out of the way of buses, you’re still pushing little old ladies about,” eh?

    Sod that.

    Judging others is easy but a poor substitute for living a virtuous life yourself. While the two are not mutually exclusive they rarely occur in the same person; the humility required for leading a virtuous life generally precludes passing judgement on others.

  19. In Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow, one of the characters is a German rocket scientist named Franz Poekler.

    Poekler–a likeable if weak man–is assigned to work on the development of the V-2. He does so not because of any particular affinity with Naziism, but because rocket development is his profession; he finds it intellectually interesting. (He is given an added incentive by the fact that his daughter is being held hostage by a Nazi official–but it seems clear to me that he would have willingly worked on the rocket even without this factor.)

    Poekler is vaguely aware of the Dora concentration camp and the slave laborers, but prefers not to think about it. But as the war ends, he walks into Dora, and is confronted with the reality of the V-2 project on which he has worked:

    “The odors of shit, death, sweat, sikckness, mildew, piss, the breathing of Dora, wrapped him as he crept in…All his vacuums, his labyrinths, had been the other side of this. While he lived and drew marks on paper, this invisible kingdom had kept on, in the darkness outside…:

    He makes a small act of contrition:

    “Where it was darkest and smelled the worst, Poekler found a woman lying, a random woman. He sat for half an hour holding her bone hand. She was breathing. Before he left, he took off his gold wedding ring and put it on the woman’s thin finger, curling her hand to keep it from sliding off. If she lived, the ring would be good for a few meals, or a blanket, or a night indoors, or a ride home… ”

    Did von Braun ever do as much?

    People who are really passionate about a profession will often do questionable or downright evil things in order to be able to keep practicing that profession, in addition to any other factors.

  20. Richard Mcenroe

  21. Apologies; WP likes to play hidenseek with my posts…

  22. I don’t have anything to say about this but wanted to say that I’m glad you wrote it and I’m glad I read it.

    Thank you.

  23. It’s very easy for people who are free and at no risk of being killed summarily or having their whole family destroyed, to say “I’d stand above it all.”

    I’ll go even further. The louder you proclaim, before any test, you’d stand above the more likely it is you wouldn’t.

    Because you haven’t tested your soul in the privacy of your own mind. Each time you do, you see a weak point or two. You shore it up, but you’ll always remember it was there and next time you are asked you yell “I’d stand above it all” a little less, until it is a quiet peep and actually comes out, “I hope I’ll stand above it all.”

    Those who know they will face the temptation and at least try to prepare in the insufficient ways you can without the test may not be much more prepared for the real test, but they are at least prepared.

    I hope when it reaches the tipping point I’ll die in the streets with my boots on instead of say, once again, we aren’t at the tipping point yet or this isn’t that bad. I hope I will.

    I know I might not, especially if that preserves L or C or even my cats (or perhaps more likely my cats). I also know that perhaps the tipping point was today or last week (I doubt it because there are not yet large violent silencing, but I could be naive) and we already know I won’t.

    I hate bringing him up two weeks in a row, but that is a key idea Peterson covers in “Maps of Meaning” (the class), you don’t know you wouldn’t go along. Mostly likely you would just based on numbers in the past.

    • I know what abortion is.

      I hold civil conversations with pro-choice people. I even care what some of them think about me.

      If the world turns right, my grandchildren might learn this and recoil the same as if I told them I had Nazi friends, and I will deserve it.

      • You won’t deserve it. And I hope that in the future our grandchildren will have left this hyper-authoritarian morality behind them again, at least for a time.

        I’m not talking about if something like if abortion is wrong or not, or if anything is evil or not no matter how obviously evil it seems, but this toxic notion that the proper thing to do is not even talk about evil or to engage with people who aren’t yet sharing that understanding. For one thing it makes advocacy impossible.

        It’s like that one black fellow who decided to actually engage with and connect with white supremacists and has “converted” hundreds (ok, I don’t recall the number but it was big) who have changed their opinions.

        But the thing today, and what I hope that our grandchildren avoid, is the trend to condemn those connections as agreement or condoning or defense *of* the bad ideas. I’m not sure where it came from. But heaven help us if we associate with sinners anymore, or defend them, or not want them to be victimized or deprived of their rights because some dumb bunny decided that they aren’t holy enough if they aren’t actively intolerant and hating all the “bad” people.

        “I can care about you even if I think your ideas/beliefs/choices are wrong and destructive, possibly evil, but I can care about YOU…”

        Where did that go?

        • I think the important part there is kids.

          They do tend to be extremely black-and-white.

          • Okay then, at what point did we adults start praising that and not expecting anyone to grow up?

            • Where?

              The difference, as I understood it, was in what the kids were taught– are they taught killing an undefended, nay betrayed, group that has been dehumanized is inherently evil, or not?

              Contrast with the modern assumption, where it’s ok because that isn’t really a person.

        • Well of course Jesus was evil. He associated with tax collectors and harlots and all kinds of riff raff who went out to listen to him preach! But what would you expect of a man who was born in a barn with all the other animals?

          Okay, taking off my Sadducee and Pharisee hat now.

          • You’re ignoring His most annoying trait, His arrogance. Thought He was too good to swim like the rest of us!

            Let’s not get into the economic ramifications of the work lost by caterers because of His mucking about with that wedding in Cana.

  24. Pingback: Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » But for Wales?

  25. Joseph T Major

    There is a quote from H. Beam Piper’s SPACE VIKING that deals with the lure of National Socialism:

    “They have something about like that on Aton,” one of the Mardukan officers said.

    “Oh, Aton; that’s a dictatorship, pure and simple. That Planetary Nationalist gang got into control fifty years ago, during the crisis after the war with Baldur….”

    “They were voted into power by the people, weren’t they?”

    “Yes; they were,” Prince Bentrik said gravely. “It was an emergency measure, and they were given emergency powers. Once they were in, they made the emergency permanent.”

    “That couldn’t happen on Marduk!” a young nobleman declared.

    “It could if Zaspar Makann’s party wins control of the Assembly at the next election,” somebody else said.

    “Oh, then Marduk’s safe! The sun’ll go nova first,” one of the junior Royal Navy officers said.

    After that, they began talking about women, a subject any spaceman will drop any other subject to discuss.

    Trask made a mental note of the name of Zaspar Makann, and took occasion to bring it up in conversation with his shipboard guests. Every time he talked about Makann to two or more Mardukans, he heard at least three or more opinions about the man. He was a political demagogue; on that everybody agreed. After that, opinions diverged.

    Makann was a raving lunatic, and all the followers he had were a handful of lunatics like him. He might be a lunatic, but he had a dangerously large following. Well, not so large; maybe they’d pick up a seat or so in the Assembly, but that was doubtful—not enough of them in any representative district to elect an Assemblyman. He was just a smart crook, milking a lot of half−witted plebeians for all he could get out of them. Not just plebes, either; a lot of industrialists were secretly financing him, in hope that he would help them break up the labor unions. You’re nuts; everybody knew the labor unions were backing him, hoping he’d scare the employers into granting concessions. You’re both nuts; he was backed by the mercantile interests; they were hoping he’d run the Gilgameshers off the planet.

    Well, that was one thing you had to give him credit for. He wanted to run out the Gilgameshers. Everybody was in favor of that.

    Now, Trask could remember something he’d gotten from Harkaman. There had been Hitler, back at the end of the First Century Pre−Atomic; hadn’t he gotten into power because everybody was in favor of running out the Christians, or the Moslems, or the Albigensians, or somebody?

  26. Birthday Girl

    So if Gaius hadn’t served as puppet mayor with the Cylons, would they just have washed their hands of the humans and nuked them from space to avoid the inconvenience? Did that somehow ameliorate his utter venality?

    On a more serious note, my Dad worked as an engineer for a major manufacturer of major items essential to the American way of life. Toward the end of his career, he turned down several retirement buy-outs and began to be transferred to less desirable situations. He just wanted to work, one of those men. At last, one Friday afternoon, his manager directed him to make a change to the product, without notifying the main customer, in violation of the specs, in violation of long-standing accepted practices and procedures, and which was a degradation in safety. Dad resigned on Monday. The amazing thing is that he is not bitter about it. I’m thankful it was only retirement, not something worse ….

    • Dan Hamilton

      Did he notify the customers about what was tried??
      And would be done by the person taking his place.

  27. clark e myers

    Margrit Von Braun was occasionally comped to attend Moscon. An obviously interested source proud of her father but I think perfectly sincere and a nice person as academics invariably were once upon a time. Most assuredly an American patriot believing in truth justice and the American way. Agreed that the American way involved more public than private action. “Hadn’t of been for NASA….”

    I’ve heard Elie Wiesel say that had his family known the true nature of the camps they would have taken an Anne Frank option that was actually offered to them. In ignorance they thought they could last out the short remainder of the war without endangering their associates.

    Wiesel blames, in my view correctly, FDR and other Americans for in effect conspiring to avoid embarrassing the Nazi regime. Apologists for FDR have said it was necessary to avoid a demand that the “Skies Darken.” My point is that there was ample ignorance and many who knew abetted that ignorance.

    Further I suggest that the V2 program was a boondoggle and a resource drain. The warheads were scattered, pretty much buried at detonation, and did little damage.

    That is continuing the program did as much or more to weaken Nazi Germany as sabotaging and ending the program would have. I have no idea what the actual effect on the unfortunates enslaved might have been either way.

    • Most assuredly an American patriot believing in truth justice and the American way.

      Too many Americans lack any understanding of how unique the American Way is. I’ve had friends, college-educated back when that conveyed a certain minimum value, incapable of understanding the Imperial Nippon and Nazi Germany (and, let’s face it, most of the remainder of the world) did not “do” Due Process, much less believe in the principle familiarly termed “Innocent until proven Guilty.” So they found it easy to condemn the ordinary citizens for not objecting to horrors.

      Similarly, most of the rest of the world does not understand the American Way. They see the visible chaos of our system and imagine it vastly worse underneath the surface. They assume our society is very similar to their own and they know what it would mean in their society for people to act as Americans are seen to act.

      As a wise teacher once advised, be careful how you judge others, lest you be judged by the same standards. When you can apply the same standards as you levy upon others to your own life and still honestly consider yourself meritorious then you might be capable of judging others — but I advise against eschewing off meals waiting to achieve that state.

      And for G-D’s sake, don’t eschew with your mouth open!

  28. I’ve had times in my career when I’ve stood up to authority, sometimes amazing even myself. I’ve also had times when I kept my head down. One can be heroic one moment and cowardly another. It’s an inscrutable part of being human. These were not life or death moments for me thankfully.

    I quit trying to write fiction for a living when it became clear to me that trying to avoid what I felt passionately about made me a worse writer, and that editors did not want to buy what I had to say. I was young enough and interested enough to go on another career path. I am amazed and admiring of people like Orson Scott Card who could sell the truth so brilliantly that the elites were still willing to publish it. Yes, I know, but he had a celebrated career and his stories were neither nihilistic nor grey goo, but were still celebrated.

    Those who are willful are frequently “full of passionate intensity,” and the ones who end up being right might just as well end up being just as stubbornly wrong. They are the Edward Snowdens and Benedict Arnolds of the world as often as they are the Winston Churchills.

  29. Jeff, how much of that was the 3rd Reich influence or just the times? I mean WWII was a large government project and you catch a bit of that faith in big centralized projects in SF if the era even Heinlein. Not saying he wasn’t part of it,or that it wasn’t bad. I have nothing invested in von Braun but a lot of that time was the culmination of the mass manufacturing cultural trend, upending the more individualistic culture of small farmers. It seemed like it would last thousands of years. Our kids will see the end of this. Not us, alas.
    Forgive d me formatting and typos. Typing on phone.

    • Jeff Greason

      Like any counterfactual, just a matter of opinion, but …

      The U.S. aerospace industry in 1958 was still an industry. 20+ major companies. Each of which had several ongoing aircraft projects and a long history of successful prior ones. Most of which had both commercial and military activities ongoing or in the memory of their founders (most of whom were still running things — Old Mr. Mac at McDonnell, Dutch Kindelburger at North American, etc.). On the missile front, Martin had the Titan, Douglas the Thor-Delta, General Dynamics the Atlas. We had a competitive rocket supply industry — Reaction Motors, Aerojet, Pratt & Whitney, and Rocketdyne were all doing different engines for different customers. And then we had the German group at Redstone Arsenal following a different model, working on the older “national arsenal” model of doing activity “by and for” the U.S. government, subcontracting manufacturing but keeping all the design in house.

      Apollo on the one hand, and the peculiar gifts of Robert MacNamara (‘joint’ projects, mil-specs, cost-plus contacting, cancellation of X-20, MOL, Blue Gemini, Project Orion, and architect of expanding the Vietnam war) on the other, directly drove the replacement of this competitive, dynamic industry with the model of “just do what the government tells you to do, that’s a good little company”, the decision at most of those companies to focus only on government work (followed by the beginning of the long series of mergers as whichever company didn’t get the contract merged with the one that did). So there really was a change in the U.S. way of doing business from the model that had worked so very well during WW2 and the 1950’s to the model that looks very much like the way defense procurement looks today, and the NASA model, which was widely viewed as “it worked for going to the moon so it must be good” was definitely one factor in that — and that NASA model had a LOT to do with the decision by NASA to turn over the development of the rockets to their suddenly in-house team inherited from the Army at Redstone.

      So I think there is at least some part of the causal chain there back to National Socialist models.

      Only in the last fifteen years or so are we finally starting to resurrect an aerospace industry — and mostly we’re doing so by abandoning the tombs in which the old one was embalmed and building up a new one, in UAV’s, in general aviation aircraft, in attempts at supersonic commercial jets, and in private rocket companies large and small.

      • TheOtherSean

        And subcontractors by the bucket-load doing fairly-major chunks of the work, too. For example, my grandfather worked at Hercules Powder on the assembly line building Polaris second stages.

      • Yet another reason to despise MacNamara .

  30. During the early church persecutions, one of the key fault lines was: What do you do with a leader who decides to live and not be a martyr? Do you throw him under the bus? Do you forgive him? What do you do with those he baptized?

    We are all frail reeds. Be careful of being proud how you would never break under torture. God may offer you the opportunity.

    After WW1, the brutal treaty was going to be repaid. It is dangerous to taunt a losing foe. They remember. With the horrible inflation of the Weimer republic, it is not surprising that someone like Hitler took power. It was very much a choice of him or communism. Today we have communist street mobs with no one to oppose them. If Trump loses, I fear for who follows.

    In 1937 if you asked which leader had done the best job of recovering from the great depression, Hitler wins. His weakness was prejudice. Imagine Germany with a less prejudiced Hitler. They get the A-bomb. They don’t kill 6 million productive people. They “liberate” the Ukraine, communism dies. Germany rules from the Channel to the Urals.

    • tregonsee314

      Yeah there are some VERY interesting things going on in the early church. This issue was that there was a group (called the Donatists) who believed that sacraments performed by a Priest/Bishop/Deacon/Elder that later recanted the Christian faith were NOT valid. So for example a marriage performed by an elder that later recanted is considered to have NEVER happened. Any issue are bastards, the Husband and Wife are adulterers/fornicators. Augustine of Hippo (AKA St. Augustine) wades into this mess and sorts it out giving us the concept that it is Christs work NOT the officiants that sanctifies things (known as ex opere operato https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_opere_operato ) so the officiants later weakness does not matter.

      • And to cap it, they had lower standards for what was apostasy. . . .

        Everyone agreed that if you handed over scripture in accordance with the decree that the books be burned, you apostatized. However, if you handed over, oh, a couple of dialogues of Plato and the soldiers believed (if illiterate) or feigned to believe (if sympathetic) you, the Donatist rule was that you had apostatized.

        • The main thing with the Donatists was that they did not believe sins committed after Baptism could ever be forgiven. Obviously this removed a lot of incentive.

          There were also groups with beefs similar to the Donatists, but with wildly different theology. For example, poor Tertullian got sucked into a Montanist variant like that, except with more charismatic stuff.

    • Imagine a timeline where Hitler or a replacement tones down their conquest plans and till their own German gardens, followed by Stalin losing patience and invading through Poland to conquer Western Europe…

      Care to consider the implications, where the Nazis are remembered as the noble organizers of the defense, and the first line of it? Couple in a feckless Poland, whose leaders “let” the invasion happen, and a European Jewry blamed for Communism, seen as witting co-conspirators with the “International Socialists”, and Europe uniting behind the “Brave Nazi Warriors”, beating back the nasty Communists, and “Freeing Mitteleuropa” for the downtrodden European migrants to the former Imperial Russian territories…

      It doesn’t take a lot to posit everyone in Europe getting behind and enthusiastically participating in such a crusade, and carefully averting their eyes as the Poles, Jews, and Slavs get their just deserts at the hand of the genocidal Nazi regime…

      • kenashimame

        Substitute Trotsky for Stalin and that scenario gets a whole lot more likely.

        • It’s an outline for an alternative history of surpassing horror, that’s for damn sure: A Holocaust that everyone in Europe agrees was justified, and helped with.

          A war of conquest waged on Western Europe, with a Stalin/Trotsky at the head, with an Ilya Ehrenberg writing the propaganda to justify such? The recoil from that?

          Say, perhaps, that somehow the Soviets behaved with a similar rapacity as they did in our history, without the justification of the German atrocities?

          Imagine an anti-Semitism that everyone agreed was just and necessary, given the nature of the perfidious attack on civilization. Imagine everyone averting their eyes as the Jews of Europe are hustled onto trains, taking them East, for resettlement as “unreliables”, and those carefully managed and curated destinations serving as extermination sites, with the Nazis piously claiming that they all died from epidemic typhus, in the confusion of the war that “they” had started?

          Project no Israel, and the majority of the world’s surviving Jews living in the United States, one that was never engaged in the war. Consider the second- and third-order effects, rolling down that timeline.

          It’s a set of nastiness I once dreamed up, after reading The Children’s War, by J.N. Stroyar and tried to come up with a plausible path to a Nazi regime loved by one and all…

          As an aside, that first book by Stroyar is a doozie; I had nightmares for weeks after first reading it. Didn’t help that they had me on Lariam, either…

          • Everyone in Europe? Joe Kennedy wasn’t the only American who admired Germany’s economic revival.

  31. There is no doubt in my mind that if Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, or Kamala Harris had had access to the upper levels of the Third Reich, they would have used Jewish skins as lampshades.

  32. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Dear Brothers in Science,

    I may have discovered a novel pairing of leftwing talking point and evil policy.

    Some talking has been done about the fact that criminal punishment is not scientifically valid.

    Because individual crimes are not replicable, it is effectively impossible to do any hypothesis testing of whether or not John Q. Doe III, esq., killed the young Comtessa d’La Hart. She can only be murdered once, and there is no way for another laboratory to perform a number of experiments to test whether or not Mr. Doe should be individually hung from the neck until dead.

    But if we carry out policies acting on collectives in reaction to statistical crimes, it is possible to be scientifically valid.

    Once you are dealing with a large enough population, you can perhaps test whether beating vagrants, hanging junkies, or sending the poor to labor camps decreases the number of petty crimes from one summer to the next, or one city to the next.

    How much do you want to invest in complaining about criminal trials or damages awarded by litigation not being scientifically valid conclusions?