Liberty, Prosperity and Life — vulcanhammer.info

I’ve spent some time trying to figure out something worthwhile to say about the COVID-19 crisis and the challenges it has for our civilisation, but as I am wont to do I turned back to the history of my 144-year enduring family business to accomplish that.  Hope you enjoy it.

Although Vulcan would experience more than forty more years of life after it was over, Vulcan’s Centennial Celebration in 1952 was both a milestone and a high point in its history. The “capstone” of the ceremonies was the keynote speech by Vulcan’s President, Chester H. “Chet” Warrington, my grandfather. He put a wrap on the […]

via Liberty, Prosperity and Life — vulcanhammer.info

The case against identity politics — The Logical Place

Originally posted on Books & Boots: Steve Bannon thinks identity politics are great for President Donald Trump. That’s what the president’s adviser told Robert Kuttner at the American Prospect. “The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left…

via The case against identity politics — The Logical Place

The Real “Greatest Achievement” of Russia

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell thinks it was getting Donald Trump in the White House:

“It is Vladimir Putin’s greatest achievement. Decades after America’s victory in the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union, the president of the United States is now helping the president of Russia help the president of the United States to get re-elected.”

But that’s not the case, as I noted in my piece based on my last visit to the country:

Socialist states love to trumpet their own successes, real or just propaganda. The collapse of the rouble left just about everyone in the Russian Federation with more than a million roubles (about US$770 in early 1994) of net worth. So I declared to my representative, “Seventy years of socialism, and everyone’s a millionaire!”

His response: “It was their greatest achievement!”

Bernie Sanders (and other socialists) don’t think there should be billionaires, but if they get to have their agenda implemented, everyone will be a millionaire or billionaire (just ask people in Venezuela or Zimbabwe.)

The Endless Agony of Pro-Life Democrats

One more has had enough, though:

The straw that broke this camel’s back was Pete Buttigieg’s extremism. Here was a mainstream Democratic candidate suggesting, at one point, that abortion is OK up to the point the baby draws her first breath.

When I heard that, I realized we were fighting a losing battle.

If the party was willing to go all-in on the most volatile issue of our time with a position held by only 13 percent of the population, it was time to take no for an answer.

But this has been coming for a long time, as I noted in this 2016 post:

Having grown up at the upper reaches of this society and not the lower ones, I can say with confidence that our elites, under all the gaudy rhetoric, have two basic priorities in life: getting laid and getting high or drunk, which facilitates Priority #1.  Look at what’s been at the top of the agenda: contraception, abortion, the LGBT movement, the transgenders, all of it.  It’s all about sex.  That’s why real economic equality (and the economic development that makes it possible) has taken a back seat.  And it doesn’t hurt that a society where wealth generation is held back tends to concentrate what’s left at the top.

O’Malley and his ilk in the pro-life movement have always spoken of a “culture of death.”  But that’s not what this is really all about.  It’s about a thrill-obsessed culture that’s ready to sacrifice anything, everything, anyone and everyone to kill the pain of its own worthlessness.  The Democrats’ lame attempt to frame the issue on the timing of children was just that, as O’Malley justly points out.

Buttigieg’s recent response that pro-life people have no place in the Democratic Party comes from a typical corporatist, “get with the program” type of attitude that pervades our sybaritic elites and, unfortunately, a large segment of his fellow Millennials, too.  The combination of the two is a nasty one, but that’s what we’re up against these days.

That Man in Rome…That Man in the White House

2019-11-17 16.00.31Just saw the tweet at the right.  I think it’s hilarious that people have started to refer to the Occupant of the See of St. Peter as “that man in Rome.”  American history buffs will remember that some Republicans, unable to utter his name, used to refer to Franklin D. Roosevelt as “that man in the White House,” and I’m sure that my grandfather muttered ripe language when he had to visit him to help promote his 1933 Langley Day air meet.  Even the thought of FDR made Republicans’ blood pressure rise and veins bulge in the temples.

I used to refer to Barack Obama as the Occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and I’ve thoughtfully transferred that to the Occupant near the Tiber (too near as it turns out!)

It’s also worth noting that some of the strongest people in Catholic Twitter are women.  Such turns many peoples’ feminist construct upside down, but it was that way in the Anglican Revolt and the tradition continues with conservative Catholicism.  Besides, it’s worth noting that the founder of #straightouttairondale Catholicism was no other than Mother Angelica, without a doubt the most influential American Catholic since Vatican II.

Millennials Wasting Time with Astrology

As documented in this piece today on CBS This Morning:

I can remember growing up on the Miami Herald and seeing the horoscope buried well past the front page.  Now publications like Cosmopolitan put it front and centre.

That piece reminded me of a pithy observation by John McKenzie in his The Two-Edged Sword:

The more petty evils of the demons could be met by magical means and the tremendous mass of magical literature which Mesopotamia has left us is a pathetic witness to the superstition of one of the most intelligent, ingenious and charming peoples which the race has developed.  Bouché-Leclerq concluded his researches into Greek astrology with the desperate remark that it is not a waste of time to study how other people have wasted their time.

I always took a dim view of my contemporaries who suddenly became “scientific” with climate change.  Right or wrong, most of them have neither the aptitude nor the temperament to be really scientific about anything.  Evidently that hasn’t changed down the line either.

Additionally this is just another aspect of the idolatry that’s taking over our culture and even our churches.

Eating People Doesn’t Stop with Babies

The recent “proposal” to eat babies recently set forth at one of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ town hall meetings reminds me of a memorable quote from the great Chinese author Lu Xun.  I’ve used this quote before (once in relation to the Chinese themselves) but it bears repeating with all of the cheap moralism that comes out of our society’s pores:

They seem to have secrets which I cannot guess, and once they are angry they will call anyone a bad character…Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it.  In ancient times, as I recollect, people often ate human beings, but I am rather hazy about it.  I tried to look this up, but my history has no chronology, and scrawled all over each page are the words: “Virtue and Morality.”   Since I could not sleep anyway, I read intently half the night, until I began to see words between the lines, the whole book being filled with the two words–”Eat people.” (Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman, V)

Book Review: Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage by Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson

Most of you who stop by here regularly know that I am a big fan of Grady McWhiney’s “Celtic South” idea.  That adherence didn’t come from theoretical considerations, but from hard experience.  Some people characterize McWhiney’s thesis as a form of “white supremacy,” but that only shows the decline of reading comprehension among Americans.  I think that it’s the key to showing that white supremacy is demonstrably false, but more about that later.

Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage by Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson concerns the central event in the conflict between the Scots-Irish and the rest of us: the Civil War/War Between the States.  The problem under discussion in this book is best summed up by this passage from the preface:

Charles P. Roland has pointed out that more than a fourth of the million men who served in the Confederate army died of wounds of disease, and that in relation to the southern white population “those service casualties were as great as those endured by major European participants in the wars of the twentieth century.  If the North during the Civil War had suffered commensurately she would have lost more than 1,000,000 men instead of 360,000.  The American colonies in revolt against England would have lost 94,000 men instead of 12,000.  The United States in World War II would have lost well over 6,000,000 men instead of somewhat more than 300,000.  The Confederacy rendered the heaviest sacrifice in lives…ever made by Americans.”

How and why the Confederacy lost so many men is the burden of this book.  We contend that the Confederates bled themselves nearly to death in the first three years of the war by making costly attacks more often than did the Federals…The Confederates could have offset their numerical disadvantage by remaining on the defensive and forcing the Federals to attack; one man in a trench armed with a rifle was equal to several outside of it.  But Southerners, imprisoned in a culture that rejected careful calculation and patience, often refused to learn from their mistakes.  They continued to fight, despite mounting casualties, with the same courageous dash and reckless abandon that had characterized their Celtic ancestors for two thousand years.  The Confederates favored offensive warfare because the Celtic charge was an integral part of their heritage.

Much of the middle part of the book details the changes in warfare that had taken place in the 1850’s that changed the whole tactical situation.  Most of the generals on both sides (and some of the politicians, such as Jefferson Davis) served in the Mexican War, and there the offensive definitely paid off.  As the Civil War began much of the officer corps on both sides basically prepared to fight the last war.

But that was a mistake.  The major technological change that took place was the change from smoothbore guns to rifles, which extended the kill range from around 300 yards to 1000 yards.  That shifted the advantage from the attacker to the entrenched defender.   The Federals were quicker to pick on this simple fact as opposed to their Confederate opponents, which led to an observation that didn’t get developed as well as it should: the Federals learned from their mistakes, the Confederates didn’t.  That’s as aspect of Southern culture that exasperates more than most, and it’s independent of educational level and socio-economic status.  The battle cry of “We’ve always done it this way” still resounds in these parts.

That affected the other aspects of the army, namely the artillery and cavalry.  The artillery was slower to convert to rifled bores, and in spite of its offensive value in Mexico found itself most valuable on the defense during the Civil War.  Cavalry charges were almost inevitably disasters, with the defenders “emptying the saddles” in short order.  The cavalry found itself more effective in dismounted conflict, reconnaissance, and flanking maneuvers.  As always Southerners loved the cavalry but their ability to keep it in the field deteriorated to the point that, in the last part of the war, most of the cavalry action came from the Federals.

All of this is presented in fascinating detail that will certainly alter the way one looks at the Civil War from a military standpoint.  The question is, how well do the authors link all of this information with the idea of the Celtic South?  Not as well as one would like; that comes at the very end of the book, and is to some extent sequestered from the rest.  There are several things that the authors could have pointed out which would have strengthened their case.

The first is that the most “Celtic” thing the South didn’t do leading up to the Civil War was to develop an industrial and transportation base to fight the modern war that it became.  Such requires patience and industry, both of which were in short supply south of the Mason-Dixon line.  That affected the South grievously in its ability to keep an army in the field.  The authors speak of the Southern soldier’s ability to endure hardship and deprivation, but both were accentuated by a faulty economic system that progressively found it difficult to furnish its army with weapons, uniforms and (in a rich agricultural region like the South) food.

The second is they point out Grant’s aggressive, offensive strategy in Virginia in the last two years of the war.  That needs to be seen as a part of the war of attrition that Grant was fighting.  Knowing that he had more men and the industrial base to keep them in the field, Grant simply beat Lee’s army into submission at Appomattox.  A different strategy was employed by Sherman, whose name is still cursed down here: he avoided the attack most of the time, inflicting damage on the Confederate civilian infrastructure as opposed to their military one.  (He made an exception at Kennesaw Mountain, which he lived to regret.)

The third (and they do mention this from time to time) is that a defensive strategy by the South was not only justified by the changes in weaponry but also by the difficult terrain that covered large parts of the Confederacy.  That terrain, coupled with the poor railroad and road system (which was in common with Russia during the World Wars) made the attack difficult.  The Confederates would also have done better with guerilla warfare, but their romantic culture didn’t allow for that.

One person that comes in for special opprobrium is Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy’s President.  His experience in the Mexican War made him an apostle of the attack, and much of the impetus for that came from the very top.  That had traction with Southerners, and led to many of the serious losses the Confederacy experienced, especially in the early years of the war.

The Confederates had company in not learning lessons from their own mistakes.  Europeans in general and the French in particular learned little or nothing from the American Civil War.  The French (the same native soil as Vercingetorix and his disaster at Alesia) went into World War I with an offensive strategy that lasted until Robert Nivelle’s offensive in 1917 that nearly broke the French army.   The Germans for their part attempted to replicate Grant’s war of attrition at Verdun, but it took a few years and another war for that investment to see a return.

Also, many Northerners had the same level of contempt for Southern whites has the latter had for black people, up to and including the desire for genocide.  This illustrates that the differences between the two cultures was understood at the time.  McWhiney’s thesis has brought back that difference into view.  Today the Scots-Irish are Donald Trump’s biggest supporters.  You’d think that the left would be eager to embrace McWhiney’s thesis to trash their opponents once and for all.  But they have not, and there are three reasons for this.

The first is that, if you can trash one ethnic group, you can trash another.  The left is afraid that, if they make this stick, someone else will come along and do the same thing with one of their own constituencies.  But anyone familiar with various people groups in this country should realize that the Scots-Irish are sui generis.

The second is that, underneath their contempt, the “hippie ideal” that the sixties types and their fans is really the Scots-Irish typical way of life: unbridled sex and drinking (and now opioids,) along with a lazy attitude towards work.  When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first unveiled her “Green New Deal,” one of the planks in the platform that got removed early was the promise of income for those who didn’t want to work.  This is a Scots-Irish dream come true; the reason Southern states are so tight with their welfare systems is they know what would happen if they implemented such a plan.

The third is that the whole attack on “white supremacy” assumes that white people are a homogeneous group.  That’s simply not the case.  Once we realize that there are differences, a major cornerstone of intersectionality is knocked out.  The Scots-Irish are the boxcar hobos on the train of white supremacy, and the sooner both they and everyone else come to grips with that fact, the better.

Today this country is as divided as it has been since the days of attack and die.  Those of the Scots-Irish mentality are looking for that great victory that will wipe out their opponents, whether that victory be an election, a great preacher-led revival, or another shooting war.  It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this is going to end badly, and in a world where we are not so isolated from the rest, while we fight each other our rivals will advance at our expense.  Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage by Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson is a good study in what happens when the big things in life are done on impulse and emotion, and that’s a lesson that needs to be learned today.

Hong Kong and the Straits of Hormuz: It’s Amazing It Took This Long — vulcanhammer.info

Although Vulcan exported its pile driving equipment from the start, it was it’s foray into the offshore oil business that gave Vulcan a truly international perspective. That perspective put some of the world’s “hot spots” into its field of interest, and two of them are very active these days: Hong Kong and the Straits of […]

via Hong Kong and the Straits of Hormuz: It’s Amazing It Took This Long — vulcanhammer.info

Pete Buttigieg, Episcopal Snob

The first round of Democratic Presidential debates is, mercifully, over.  Winners and losers will sort themselves out in due season, but in the meanwhile let’s consider one whom the media fawned over: Pete Buttigieg, South Bend’s mayor.  He’s made quite a career doing something that none of his rivals have done to the extent that he has: taken shots at the “Religious Right.” starting with his own former governor, Mike Pence.  In a party which has gone very secular, and this is the primary stage, it’s hard to know what’s to be gained from such other than publicity (and, of course, in politics the only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity.)  None of his rivals have any use for the Religious Right, so what’s the big deal?  What’s his game?

Personally, when I hear him go after conservative Christians, it sounds like it’s a 2019 version of the old “Episcopal Snob” going public with his grievances against these people.  Buttigieg is an Episcopalian and it sounds like he’s repeating the stuff he hears at church, whether from the pulpit or in the legendary Anglican/Episcopal coffee.

It’s something people in the Anglican/Episcopal world don’t like to admit, but it’s true: the core appeal of the Episcopal Church to those outside looking in is one of snob appeal.  The church has always attracted refugees from “fundamental” groups.  People for whom the narrow way has lost its appeal are attracted to a religion which is aesthetically pleasing and, most of the time, not dogmatic, even if they don’t have a good grasp of what they’ve gotten themselves into.  But coupled with that are the church’s elevated demographics: those who join it get to rub shoulders with people at the top of society.

As part of the “schtick” Episcopalians who have been at it for a long time are good at putting on the proper airs when confronted with those of religious persuasions they feel are beneath them.  They tell you that they neither need nor want to do the things you feel they should do, and the impression they leave is that they’re superior for it. It can be intimidating; my wife and I have run into it when out and about on church-related errands until we mention we are good friends with certain of their fellow parishioners, at which point they beat a hasty retreat: they realize we know too much.

Buttigieg mixes this up with current shaming and virtue-signaling techniques, using the fact that he’s gay to amplify his point.  His own schtick is that, if he “calls out” the spiritual and political failings of the unwashed, they’ll realize the error of their ways and come around to his idea.  That’s straight out of the Episcopal snob appeal playbook, only in the past both positive and negative presentation of the point was more subtle and in better taste.

I don’t think that the “unwashed” are going to flock en masse to either his church or his campaign, let alone his political party.  He might pick off a few careerist types but not many.  And the barriers which have bedeviled his church will come back to do the same to his candidacy and his party.  Nominating a snob might have worked in 2008 with Barack Obama, but this is an angrier country.  Elizabeth Warren has a better shot at ginning up resentment, if she doesn’t get bogged down being the policy wonk.  But then again, the last Scots-Irish President, Bill Clinton, was something of a policy wonk in his own right.