Friday, December 07, 2012

Today's links

  • From LRC: my line on Pearl Harbor.
  • The man who quit West Point claiming it’s too religious. Left-libertarians at RR cheered; I’m sure some well-meaning conservatives jeered. I’m skeptical. Of course as a libertarian I defend nonbelievers’ rights. But I also like the Christianity and conservatism you find in the military (such as the pretty Episcopalish Gothic chapel at West Point, the best of the culturally conservative old mainline). I’m anti-war and pro-military: neither Laurence Vance’s anti-military view nor the typical view of Republican evangelicals of servicemen as white knights. (Most who’ve served will tell you many/most servicemen aren’t angels, probably inevitable if killing is your job, even though most aren’t in combat.) I doubt this ex-cadet because there have been nonbelievers throughout history (in our golden era, Ozzie Nelson was an atheist) who’ve gotten along fine (so I’d like to say, man up, soldier, or, I hate bullies too, but if you can’t handle a little heat, you had no business being an officer anyway), and the military isn’t really conservative. It only does what the civilian government says, political correctness and all (see West Pointer Brian Mitchell’s Flirting with Disaster on how affirmative-actioning women into the services hurts the services). So it seems like a ginned-up or even made-up story from anti-religious folk to further drive conservative Christianity from public life.
  • From Takimag: another look at the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings story. The left likes to trash this political giant for being a hypocrite. Filtering out the race-baiting: James Callender, a transplanted Scotsman, started the Hemings rumor in September 1802 after Jefferson turned him down for a patronage job. DNA testing on Sally Hemings’s descendants in 1998 proved that Jefferson was not the father of one of her older children, but that someone who had the Jefferson Y chromosome fathered her youngest child, Eston. Eston was conceived in 1807 when old Tom was 64, in bad health, and in his second term as president. There are several likelier candidates, and the most likely is Jefferson’s younger brother Randolph, who was a 51-year-old widower. And of course all men aren’t equal, which is why egalitarianism’s (equal forced outcomes) unfair. The right equality is real equal opportunity.
  • 100 Club of Chicago PSA from earlier this year. Mike Torello’s still looking out for his city. Dennis Farina’s the real thing, a retired Chicago cop. He’s also in Xfinity commercials; love it. In 25 years here I have nothing but good to say about the Philly police.


  1. I called BS on this one too. That West Point chapel just hosted a gay wedding last week!

  2. You know, it's not a mark in favor of the LRC crowd that they keep harping on Pearl Harbor. Nobody seems to care about Victor's book except the conspiracy crowd, I suspect because he retreads Stennett's material and claims. And Stennett has been shot to pieces by practically everyone in the field.

  3. Re - Jefferson -- Most people also forget that Thomas Jefferson, himself, had been a widower since 1782.

  4. Re: West Point and atheists

    This situation is a blatant attack on religion by a supposed atheist whom the authorities will not commission because of a medical/psychiatric problem. I wonder why his medical condition wasn't detected before he started at West Point? Every Cadet has to pass an Army physical.

    The supposed veracity of his story smells to me.

    Jim C.

    1. I have a couple of ideas about that. Unlikely: he was at least partly telling the truth and the Army tried to hush it by pathologizing/discrediting him with that diagnosis, then tried to buy him off by using that diagnosis to let him quit with an honorable discharge. More likely: he really developed a problem. And maybe he turned on them and claimed this persecution when he was denied a commission after being diagnosed.

    2. I don't think the Army could fake his medical diagnosis successfully. A serviceman has a right of appeal, even in medical matters of importance to him, e.g., staying in the Army. This whole thing smells . . . from his side of the argument. Thus, I suspect but don't know for sure (How could I/we?) that your 2nd idea is closer to the truth than your numero uno.

  5. RE Pearl Harbor: Did FDR know, or at least strongly suspect they would attack us? Yep,though he probably did not know Pearl Harbor was the target. But no one made them do it. Refusal to be a material accomplice to military aggressive is not an act of war. Whether or not we chose to provide them with the raw materials they needed for their barbarous conquest of China is neither here nor there.

    Try though they may, the revisionists cannot overcome the bottom line... The Japs bombed us. We never fired a shot at them except in self defense.

    1. Regular readers know my line: normal relations with imperial Japan would be like ours with China now. Another foreign government with (lots of) blood on its hands. As much as I love America's golden era and its Greatest Generation, I don't hate the Japanese. I don't excuse what they did in China (fact: most of them hate other Asians) but it wasn't our fight.

      A couple of exceptions: Japan simply wanted a regional empire so they were no threat to us, but...

      In 1898 we should have let the Philippines keep their hard-fought independence (if we had, they likely would still talk to the outside world in Spanish, naturally part of hispanidad like Latin America yet unique in it) but since in WWII they depended on us for protection, I like MacArthur's* old-fashioned decency trying to save them and keep his promise to return and free them. (He was the field marshal of the Philippines Army. I understand Filipinos still revere him.)

      And, arguably, Australia. We're broadly speaking the same people, in the Anglosphere. Once we were sucked into the war, I appreciate the sense of obligation to protect them, since the British, poorer since WWI and in their own fight, couldn't sail in to do it anymore, and while Australians are brave, they didn't have the big navy (no carriers) and air force they needed for the job. Strictly speaking not our job, which is to protect our own country (America First was right), but I understand. I think the Australians never forgot that and, like the Filipinos in spite of our war with them around 1900, still like us because of it.

      *I like him but he was problematic, a statist favorite until Truman turned on him. An older generation remembered how he and his troops cleared out the Bonus Army in DC during the Depression. Back to Pearl Harbor, interestingly the general and admiral in Hawaii were scapegoats forced to retire (I used to slightly know someone in Admiral Kimmel's family, I think a nephew, who rightly fought to clear his name) while MacArthur got off scot-free even though the Dec. 8 attack on the Philippines destroyed most of his warplanes.

    2. There is a lot of irony in the MacArthur the "good" guy and General Short & Admiral Kimmel the "bad" guys. MacArthur had about 12 hours warning of an impending "actual" attack on the Philippines by the Japanese. Short & Kimmel didn't.

      I am not an America Firster or a revisionist, but I note that if one is a hard nose adherent to vital national interests, then the active support of China during the 1930s was the wrong way to go. BTW, even without our active support, China was so large that the Japanese forces got bogged down and a stalemate of sorts between the Chinese gov't forces & Mao's forces vis-a-vis the Japanese forces was in effect. Of course hard-nosed realism in assessing national interests has never worked in the U.S. if only because we believe our own "national myth" that we come from a people that established a new "city on the hill" [a new Jerusalem] in our New England origins. Yes, we conveniently ignore or marginalize the Virginia experiment and the longer presence of the Spanish and their descendents in SW and W U.S. Nonetheless, our national myth endures even today in our adventurism clothed in our messianic mission. It's another version of the White man's burden.

      I agree with the author, John Toland, that the War in the Pacific was avoidable and Australia and New Zealand and maybe even the Dutch East Indies might have been spared under the no-war scenario. Nonetheless, the Japanese started it. I am also not confident that the U.S. could have stayed out of the European war. The undesirable outcome of WWI prevented this.

  6. "In 25 years here I have nothing but good to say about the Philly police."

    In a place like Philadelphia, the police have to deal with a major backlog of real crimes, so they don't waste their valuable time harassing law-abiding citizens over accidental violations of petty and obscure ordinances. If you ever do run into a particularly nasty or unpleasant cop, don't be surprised if it is while driving through a little town with a population of <5,000 which is 98% white and has a violent crime rate of approximately zero per year.


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