Statue of Limitations (2)

Further to my comments the other day about the issues emerging from Charlottesville, a few more observations and interrogatories:

It is understandable that Democrats would be agitating to remove Confederate-honoring statues. After all, it is their history that they need to make go away. You know, things like this:

I won’t vouch for the accuracy of the histogram below (after all, it was produced by a hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center) of when Confederate monuments went up, but the reading given that they went up during the ratcheting up of Jim Crow in the Progressive Era, and then again during the Civil Rights Era, misses that those two eras correspond to the 50th and 100th anniversaries of the Civil War, which puts a slightly different cast on things. On the other hand, the Progressives—especially Woodrow Wilson—were deeply racist. (How about this one from Wilson: The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation—until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.” So when is Princeton going to get around to dumping Wilson’s name from its graduate school?)

(Click to embiggen.)

While it is sensible to object to the mindless eradication of history, especially at the instigation of a braying mob, I’m not sure conservatives should be standing in the breach against a set of monuments erected by Democrats. To the contrary, it is tempting to say exactly this: “The time has long been past when we should have removed these Democrat monuments.” In this regard, see David Goldman’s excellent cri de coeur from a couple days ago:

I can accept the idea that Robert E. Lee was a decent man. Decent men fought for causes even more wicked than the Confederacy. Would the Germans erect a monument to Field Marshal Rommel, a professional soldier murdered by Hitler? Of course not. They are left to mourn their dead in private. America had a different sort of dilemma. We fought the Civil War to preserve the Union, including a South that was only sorry that it lost. In the interests of unity we tolerated (and even promoted) the myth of Southern gallantry, the Lost Cause, and all the other baloney that went into D.W. Griffiths’ “The Birth of a Nation” and “Gone With The Wind.” We allowed the defeated South to console itself with the myth that it fought for “states’ rights” or whatever rather than to preserve a vile system of economic (and sometimes sexual) exploitation. Meanwhile the freed slaves had a very bad century between Appomattox and the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Don’t expect them to look with understanding on the supposed symbols of “Southern heritage.”

I thought one of Trump’s better moments in the campaign was when he said to black voters in Detroit, “What have you got to lose?” Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, etc., have been governed by Democrats for decades. How’s that working out for you? Taking down statues is the epitome of cheap grace. (Aside: I see Nancy Pelosi now wants Confederate statues taken down in the U.S. Capitol. Wasn’t she Speaker of the House for four years? Why didn’t she do it then? Will anyone in the media ask her this question?)

On the other hand, polls show a majority of American oppose taking down the statues, perhaps out of ignorance about the Confederacy. I’d have preferred to add monuments, starting with Frederick Douglas, rather than removing monuments

But it is easy to see why Steve Bannon is sitting back smiling about all of this. Let the liberals wallow in their identity politics, and let the left revive the violence of the Weather Underground. The Spencerites are a problem that the right needs to deal with, but the agitated left can be relied upon to produce much more public violence than neo-Nazis. Somewhere Richard Nixon is smiling. Antifa helps Republicans. No less a leftist icon than Noam Chomsky agrees:

“As for Antifa, it’s a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were,” Noam Chomsky told the Washington Examiner. “It’s a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.”

How to Watch an Eclipse—Or CNN

Power Line’s mobile news production crew is hitting the road today for eastern Oregon to take in the total eclipse Monday morning, and you can look forward to complete coverage here on Monday. (I’ve packed one video camera, two GoPros, two still cameras, and Power Line’s Drone Force One, though I am unclear just how I’ll be able to get the drone to circle the sun during the eclipse.) In the meantime, Remy Munasifi offers a handy guide to watching the eclipse—or CNN:

Report: Bannon to be ousted

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reports:

President Trump has told senior aides that he has decided to remove Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Mr. Trump win the 2016 election, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion.

The president and senior White House officials were debating when and how to dismiss Mr. Bannon. The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time.

Bannon has been twisting in the wind for some time. News of his ouster will surprise no one.

Bannon didn’t help matters when he granted an interview to left-wing journalist Robert Kuttner of “The American Prospect” in which he seemed to ridicule the idea that the U.S. has a viable military option against North Korea. Bannon stated:

Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

File this one under Michael Kinsley’s definition of a gaffe.

Though my view of Bannon is mixed, I’m sorry to see him go. I think he provided an important counterweight to those with whom he clashed — Gary Cohn, a Democrat, Dina Powell, H.R. McMaster, and Jared Kushner. All of them, in various ways, seek to moderate President Trump on policy matters. Who now will speak up for substantive hard-line conservative and nationalistic positions?

NOTE: Haberman’s article also includes this passage:

A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but the move was delayed after the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va.

Antifa “grows as left-wing faction”

Are the violent antifa thugs a fringe movement or an increasingly important part of an emerging left-wing coalition? I want to say “fringe movement.”

However, the New York Times reports that antifa is growing as a left-wing faction. And Mark Lance, a professor of (I kid you not) justice and peace at Georgetown University, says “I’m seeing more concrete productive discussion between anti-fascists and others on the Left these days than ever before in my life.” Lance predicts that antifa “will become integrated into an emerging coalition that includes Sanders supporters, democratic socialists, dreamers, the Movement for Black Lives, environmentalists, [and] Native American organizers.”

I can’t tell you that the professor of justice and peace is wrong. I think he’s right when it comes to Black Lives Matter.

The New York Times mostly indulges the fiction that the antifa thugs are merely engaged in protecting cities, towns, and college campuses from hordes of fascists, though it admits that in some cases they have taken on “ordinary supporters of President Trump.” The antifas, of course, see no distinction between fascist hordes and ordinary Trump supporters.

Nor do they see a distinction between someone attending a speech by an extreme right-winger and someone engaged in violence against the left. As one prominent antifa thug said of those on the other side of the political spectrum, “their existence itself is violent and dangerous, so I don’t think using force or violence to oppose them is unethical.”

Stalin couldn’t have put it better.

We can only hope that the New York Times and the professor of peace and justice are wrong. We can only hope that Stalinists will not be integrated into the emerging left-wing coalition of Sanders supporters, democratic socialists, environmentalists, etc.

Restatement on comments

As I have mentioned a time or two before, we seek to maintain a tone appropriate to civil discourse on this site. It is a tone that comes naturally to most of our readers and commenters. I set forth our guidelines for comments, most recently, here.

Posting comments on Power Line is a privilege, not a right. I review comments for abuse and vulgarity. Most of our commenters have no problem speaking in polite company. However, every day I now moderate comments by commenters who are routinely vulgar. Some commenters appear to be incapable of expressing themselves without recourse to words such as “ass” or “asshole” or “dumbass” or “bastard” or “shit” or “bullshit” or “fuck” or “balls” (of the anatomical variety) or the like and their many colorful variants. “Libtard” is not acceptable here. Inserting asterisks or dashes to mask obvious vulgarities doesn’t cut it.

Our departures from the gospel according to President Trump are not to be deemed an occasion on which to abuse the contributors to this site or the site itself, for that matter. Disagreement is welcome. Abuse is not. Commenters who disparage us in personal terms — for example, “Paul, you are an idiot” — will be banned. Commenters who assert that we are “shilling” for some line or other will be banned. If you seek to disparage John or Paul or Steve or me personally, you are free to do so on a site of your own.

Those of you who employ vulgarity or abuse us personally are cordially invited to take your business elsewhere. If you don’t, we will resort to the expedient of banning you from the comments without notice.

Waiting for presidential

President Trump has made his own contribution to the spirit of the mob that permeates the left and its media allies on cable news. Instead of planting a flag around which all people of good will can rally in the face of the mob, Trump delights in goading. He has a gift for inflaming a difficult situation. If the media are consuming themselves in a frenzy of hate, the president is happy to engage them at their level.

President Trump has prided himself on keeping the campaign promises that have been within his power to keep. This one, however, remains buried on the campaign trail: “I will be so presidential, you will be so bored. You’ll say, ‘Can’t he have a little more energy?'”

Not yet. Not close. Barely trying.

President Trump’s testimony yesterday to the beauty of Confederate statues is a case in point (noted by Paul here). Only a day or two earlier he had declared the statues a local issue. “I would say that’s up to a local town, community, or the federal government, depending on where it is located,” he said. That is, he had declared it a matter to be determined by the people acting lawfully through the authorities. Yet President Trump’s zest for combat draws him toward a defense of the statues in principle.

The issue is difficult. The Confederate cause was not only lost, it was inglorious. It belied the principles of the American founding. Statues honoring the heroes of the Confederacy should provoke ambivalence at best.

Trump proclaims himself a member of the party of Lincoln. The party platform of 1856 addressed the ground on which to stand in the then impending crisis. It resolved “[t]hat the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the Declaration of Independence, and embodied in the Federal Constitution are essential to the preservation of our Republican institutions, and that the Federal Constitution, the rights of the States, and the union of the States, must and shall be preserved.”

It also resolved “[t]hat, with our Republican fathers, we hold it to be a self-evident truth, that all men are endowed with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the primary object and ulterior design of our Federal Government were to secure these rights to all persons under its exclusive jurisdiction[.]”

Trump could harness his zest for combat to the restatement of the principles. Stick the Democrats with the Confederacy. Stick the Democrats with Jim Crow. Stick their liberal heroes with tolerating Jim Crow in the name of politics and power. They have yet seriously to discover the cause of equal treatment. They still stand for discrimination on the basis of race. Stick them with it.

It remains uniquely to the president to call us to stand on the higher ground on which all people of good will can stand. Stand for the principles of the Declaration. Stand for the principles of the Declaration as embodied in the Constitution. Stand for adherence to them and to the law.

With Lincoln, call on us to “stick to them.” Call on us to “stand firmly by them.”

When it comes to the president being “so presidential,” we are waiting.

Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll meditates on low finance, as in FINANCING KETTLE CORN. She writes:

Sometimes, when the world is too much with us, we have to fall back on lighter topics. Today is such a day. After 10 days of a miserable flu, I just don’t have the stomach for weighing in on the many layers of disgrace in Charlottesville. No “humorist” can take on such a depressing subject. And so I offer this.

On one of my last trips North on the 347 out of my DLV, I noticed that the hand-lettered Kettle Corn sign on the side of the road had added the cheery news: “Credit Cards OK.” At last! Kettle Corn all around!

Now I am a big fan of entrepreneurship. And also a huge (and getting huger) Kettle Corn fan. But it will be a cold day in Hell (or even Arizona which has a similar climate ) when I hand my card over to the smiley non-English speaking gentleman peddling stale snacks and “fresh” shrimp by the side of the road. What could possibly go wrong there?

Then I pondered further: who does not carry $3.00 in cash? Who needs to finance Kettle Corn? And, if you are in that dire of financial straits, would Kettle Corn not be a lower priority than, say, milk. Or tuna. Or even Top Ramen?

It sounds like a punchline to a Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck, if…” joke. “You might be undercapitalized, if…you have to use a credit card for Kettle Corn.” (My very favorite “Redneck” riff of Jeff’s is “You might be a redneck if… you think a 401K is your mother-in-law’s bra size…” Good one, Mr. Foxworthy.)

I believe that – IN GENERAL – men and women differ in their attitude toward carrying cash. Women, in my experience, prefer to use checks and credit cards. When I was a teenage clerk in my father’s drugstore, it was not unusual to have a woman customer write a check for very small amounts, even under a dollar! Men never did this.

Women often seem to be a little scared of cash, either in the belief that they are more vulnerable to being mugged, or, more likely, that they don’t trust THEMSELVES not to squander it faster than if they use credit cards or checks. Now, personally, I am much more cautious and reluctant to spend my cash than I am to whip out my plastic. Men, in general, will carry cash, sometimes in quite startling amounts. And I don’t mean just criminals.

There are many people committing no crimes at all who are wary of the massive amount of government and corporate intrusion into our lives who prefer to leave as little a trail and live as far off the grid as is humanly possible. Everyone has Googled (spit, spit), say, patio furniture, and three minutes later got a pop-up ad for – what are the chances? – patio furniture! Which then appears every day for ten years. It is truly terrifying how many entities know every thing about us there is to know, including, but not limited to, our exact location.

The story may be apocryphal, but I once read that a major jewelry store in New York decided to send out thank-you holiday cards to men who had purchased expensive bracelets and necklaces on their credit cards. Which surprised the heck out of many wives who had not been the recipients of these gifts. Uh-oh. Whatever genius thought up that campaign must have been looking for work as a Salvation Army Santa by the time all the stuff hit the fan. Yet another argument for cash. And we haven’t even yet mentioned strip clubs.

Once, in a particularly bleak period when Mr. AG and I were both between jobs, we had a credit card that was not maxed out, but no cash whatsoever. I don’t know if we didn’t realize you could get a cash advance on a credit card, but we didn’t do that. Which meant that I could take all my laundry to an expensive dry cleaners and pay by credit card, but I didn’t have a handful of coins with which to go to a laundromat.

The truth is that you have to have a certain level of wealth in order to practice thrift. When hamburger is on sale, my thrifty neighbor back in Minnesota will buy twenty pounds of it, make some into patties and fry up the rest for chili and spaghetti and bag it all for the freezer. But he needs the initial $95.00 or so in order to “save” money. Plus a big freezer. Lots of poor people don’t have either one.

And I know that many struggling families budget very close to the bone. Once, when I performed at a Women’s Wellness Night in rural Kentucky, the sponsors had advertised $3.00 in advance and $5.00 at the door for tickets. Several dozen ladies had misunderstood this and showed up at the door with exactly $3.00 and not a penny more. They were in danger of being turned away in tears when I insisted that they be let in and told the organizers to take the extra $2.00 apiece out of my pay. (I tell you this not to break my arm patting myself on the back for this very minor $50.00 contribution, but to avoid having to answer our favorite troll’s daily inane “gotcha” question: “Why didn’t YOU make up the difference, AG?” Answer: I did. And felt blessed to be able to do it.)

Which brings us back to that Kettle Corn. There is a very sentimental old union activist song called “Bread and Roses” with the lyric: “Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.” Maybe sometimes, a night out for comedy or a bag of Kettle Corn is worth your last $3.00. Go for it. But please. Not by giving your credit card to a guy by the side of the road. It may be embarrassing to explain to Visa that no, that full set of four radial tires in San Diego is not your purchase, nor the hefty liquor and entertainment charge at the strip club in Tijuana, but yes, that Kettle Corn is a legitimate charge. Three bags.