Category Archives: History

Ich Bin Ein Dummkopf

Obama’s three hundred foreign policy advisors apparently weren’t enough. His new choice of location for his German sermon from the mount, to win over valuable electoral votes of the German people, seems to have backfired as badly as the attempt to emulate Kennedy and Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate:

Andreas Schockenhoff, deputy leader of the conservative bloc in Parliament, said Sunday that the choice of the Victory Column, also known as the Golden Angel, was an “unhappy symbol” since it represented so much of Germany’s militaristic past.

Rainer Brüderle, deputy leader of the opposition Free Democrats, said Obama’s advisers had little idea of the historical significance of the Victory Column. “It was the symbol of German superiority over Denmark, Austria and France,” Brüderle told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

The monument was built in 1864 to commemorate Prussia’s victory over Denmark. When it was inaugurated, Prussia had defeated Austria during the Austro-Prussian war in 1866 and the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71.

The column has been originally located near the Reichstag, now the Bundestag, or German Parliament, which is close to the Brandenburg Gate. But Adolf Hitler relocated it about two kilometers, or one mile, toward the western part of the city to the Grosser Stern, or Great Star.

Too bad Leni Riefenstahl isn’t around any more to film the event for him. Then later, he could reenact his grandfather’s liberation of Auschwitz.

Maybe if he gets a couple hundred more advisors, he can find one with a clue. I’ve never seen anyone have so much trouble getting good help. It must be tough being a messiah.

I do have to say, though, that watching this kind of thing for four years would be entertaining. I just wish that he wouldn’t be in charge of anything important during the show.

Thirty-Nine Years Ago

On July 16th, 1969, the largest rocket ever built thundered off the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, delivering three men and the equipment and supplies they would need to land two of them on the moon and return the three of them safely to earth, fulfilling the national goal declared eight years earlier. The anniversary of the landing is this coming Sunday.

One Week To Plan

Next Sunday will be the thirty-ninth anniversary of the first human footsteps on another world. As I do every year, I’d like to remind my readers of a ceremony that I and some friends came up with to celebrate it. If you think that this was an important event, worthy of solemn commemoration, gather some friends to do so next Sunday night, and have a nice dinner after reading the ceremony.

Oh, and coincidentally, Friday was the twenty-ninth anniversary of the fall of Skylab. James Lileks has some thoughts. Next year, it will be the fortieth, and thirtieth anniversaries, respectively, of the two events. It was ironic that our first space station came plunging into the atmosphere almost exactly a decade after the height of our space triumphs in the sixties. The seventies really sucked.

The High-Water Mark

One hundred and forty-five years ago today, was the beginning of the end of the southern cause:

The names of the places associated with the charge are deeply indented on the American conscience. Every summer, “The Angle” and “The High Water Mark” are crowded with visitors who come to commemorate the event and ponder those terrible minutes when American killed American in a desperate contest of wills and ideals. So much carnage in such a small place- it is difficult for us today to realize the horror those young men faced, and how quickly the hopes of the North and South were determined in this famous battle.

Even if they had won Gettysburg, the fall of Vicksburg the next day to Grant probably sealed the fate of the Confederacy. The war might have lasted longer had Lee’s Pennsylvania campaign been successful, but it seems unlikely that the south could have held out long enough.

More Space Fascism Commentary

Thomas James notes some irony in Dwayne Day’s piece:

…when one follows the Google search link he does provide, a good number of the results have to do with James Hansen calling for trials of oil executives and others who question the political orthodoxy of global warming…trials whose political nature and predetermined outcome would no doubt have pleased the arguably fascist Roland Freisler.

Not exactly the point that Dr. Day was trying to make, I suspect.

[Previous post here]

[Update a couple minutes later]

Speaking of fascists, Thomas also offers a preview of August in Denver:

…come on…”Students for a Democratic Society”? As if the hippie nostalgia of Recreate 68 wasn’t bad enough, we now have someone reanimating that corpse? I thought it was the right that supposedly clung to the faded glories of a distant golden age.

OK, so I guess it won’t be another Summer of Love.

Never Again

Eric Raymond sees the same disturbing things I do in Senator Obama:

I am absolutely not accusing Barack Obama of being a fascist or of having the goals of a fascist demagogue. I am saying that the psychological dynamic between him and his fans resembles the way fascist leaders and their people relate. The famous tingle that ran up Chris Matthew’s leg. the swooning chanting crowds, the speeches full of grand we-can-do-it rhetoric, the vagueness about policy in favor of reinforcing that intoxicating sense of emotional identification…how can anyone fail to notice where this points?

There are hints of grandiosity and arrogance in Obama’s behavior now. As the bond between him and his followers become more intense, though, it is quite possible they will not remain mere traces. I’m not panicked yet, because Obama is still a long way off from behaving like a megalomaniacal nut-job. But if the lives of people like Napoleon, Mussolini, or Hitler show us anything it’s that the road from Obama’s flavor of charismatic leader to tyrant is open, and dangerously seductive to the leader himself.

There is one more historical detail that worries me, in this connection. There is a pattern in the lives of the really dangerous charismatic tyrants that they tend to have originated on the geographical and cultural fringes of the societies they came to dominate, outsiders seeking ultimate insiderhood by remaking the “inside” in their own image. Hitler, the border Austrian who ruled Germany; Napoleon, the Corsican who seized France; and Stalin, the Georgian who tyrannized Sovet Russia. And, could it be…Obama, the half-black kid from Hawaii?

Again, I am not accusing Barack Obama of being a monster. But when I watch videos of his campaign, I see a potential monster in embryo. Most especially do I see that potential monster in the shining faces of his supporters, who may yet seduce Obama into believing that he is as special and godlike as they think he is.

I don’t know if the McCain campaign has the savvy or moxie to properly go after Obama, but I think that there will be a lot of 527s who will, once the campaign really starts in the fall.

Not Ready For Prime Time

More historical ignorance from Senator Obama:

Obama’s unfavorable comparison of the legal treatment at Gitmo with that at Nuremberg suggests either that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about – or that he feels free to exploit the ignorance of audiences that don’t know the truth of the matter.

Hey, it’s all about fooling the rubes. The sad thing is that the press never questions him on this kind of thing.

Learned Nothing, Forgotten Nothing

Andy McCarthy says that Barack Obama is the September 10th candidate:

The fact is that we used the criminal justice system as our principal enforcement approach, the approach Obama intends to reinstate, for eight years — from the bombing of the World Trade Center until the shocking destruction of that complex on 9/11. During that timeframe, while the enemy was growing stronger and attacking more audaciously, we managed to prosecute successfully less than three dozen terrorists (29 to be precise). And with a handful of exceptions, they were the lowest ranking of players.

When an elitist lawyer like Obama claims the criminal-justice system works against terrorists, he means it satisfies his top concern: due process. And on that score, he’s quite right: We’ve shown we can conduct trials that are fair to the terrorists. After all, we give them lawyers paid for by the taxpayers whom they are trying to kill, mounds of our intelligence in discovery, and years upon years of pretrial proceedings, trials, appeals, and habeas corpus.

As a national-security strategy, however, and as a means of carrying our government’s first responsibility to protect the American people, heavy reliance on criminal justice is an abysmal failure.

Obama is going to be pounded on his appalling historical ignorance throughout the campaign. “Auschwitz” was just the beginning.

[Update at noon]

Apparently the McCain campaign thinks that this is a major vulnerability for Obama:

As the war of words between the two presidential campaigns is escalating, McCain advisers and surrogates unleashed some of their harshest language yet in describing Obama.

On a conference call with reporters, former CIA chief James Woolsey and others said Obama’s policy regarding the handling of terrorism suspects would create an opening for more attacks like those on Sept. 11, 2001.

Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s foreign policy adviser, said Obama represents “the perfect manifestation of a Sept. 10 mindset.”

“If a law enforcement approach were accurate, then you wouldn’t have had Sept. 11,” Kori Schake, a McCain policy adviser, said.

I think it’s going to be 1972 all over again. The reason that the “superdelegate” concept was come up with was exactly to prevent this. It would seem that they’re not doing their job.

Of course, it’s still several weeks until the convention. If I were the McCain campaign, I wouldn’t actually be pounding Obama this hard until he is safely the nominee. It probably helps Hillary! more at this stage than it does them, particularly since the public has a short attention span, and isn’t necessarily going to remember this by November.

[Mid-afternoon update]

Another history lesson for Obama:

Yasin fled the United States after the bombing to Iraq, and lived as Saddam Hussein’s guest in Baghdad until the invasion. He is still free, and wanted by the FBI.

Picky, picky, picky.

Anyway, it can’t possibly be true. As everyone knows, Saddam had absolutely no connection to terrorism, or World Trade Center bombings.

What’s Wrong With Redneck?

Andrea Mitchell felt compelled to apologize for calling southwest Virginia “real redneck country.”

Well, she’s right, it is. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I think that what she should be apologizing for (which perhaps she is, obliquely) is the insinuation that that’s a bad thing. While I understand that a lot of southerners take umbrage at the word, it’s really just a synonym for Scots-Irish, and it came over with them from England (and no, it has nothing to do with working in the hot sun). It was a phrase used to describe Presbyterians from northern England, who wore red collars. They were the people who settled Appalachia (and other regions). Eastern Virginia (and Maryland and Delaware) was settled by the so-called Cavaliers of southwest England, who had lost the Civil War to the Roundheads.

I think, though, that in the mind of east (and west) coast media elites like Andrea Mitchell, “redneck” is synonymous with “hillbilly,” which is unquestionably an uncomplimentary term, and why the apology was necessary. It’s also a mark of the cultural ignorance of those same media elite about flyover country.