Thursday Evening Open Thread: Bad Idea TV

Yeah, as the CBC phrases it: “‘Sounds stupid as hell'”.

I am not and probably never will be an HBO subscriber (I explicitly subscribed to Netflix, back when it was just a disc-rental service, to watch cable shows without having to deal with cable companies), so the HBO suits won’t care what I think, but still. Yeah, the pseudo-historical intersection between “But what if the monster… isn’t actually dead?” and “Our chivalric dream shall never die!” can always start an argument, but how many people want to pay money to watch a cosplay version of the one we’re living all too vividly right now?

My prediction is that a Confederate “win,” 150 years after the original arguments, would’ve resulted in a continuing breakdown of the United States — bad ideas have consequences, too, and if one region “escapes” than a lot more states get fractious. Most of New England would’ve departed by the 1870s, possibly ending up as a Canadian province. The breadbasket area from Minnesota to the Rockies would be a bunch of possibly-allied semi-Calvinist networks (immigrant Scandinavian Protestant & Russian Orthodox farmers, Mormons, and versions of all the other fringe cults of the Second Great Awakening). Mexico would’ve successfully reclaimed parts of Aztlan, including most of Texas. Big chunks of the Rockies-adjacent areas would be just as underpopulated as they are today, but there would be more Native American tribal units, not to mention feral refugees from all the adjacent regions. Goddess only knows what northern California/Oregon/Washington would’ve come to, but I suspect the lingua franca would be either Russian or Mandarin. New Orleans would be the center of an ever-fluid “Black Free State”, probably doing better financially than its ‘Confederate’ neighbors. There would be dozens of tiny “free” baronies dotting the Appalachians, with more scattered in the adjacent fringes, wherever a handful of ‘Scots-Irish’ hillbillies or other malcontents felt called to resist the big gubmint encroachment of war-depleted, tax-starved state authorities. And the Mason-Dixon DMZ between the remaining United States (Connecticut through Indiana, approximately) and the Confederation would make the one now separating the Koreas look like a holiday resort.

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Stupid popcult ideas or otherwise, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Monday Morning Open Thread: Welcome to the Future


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When I was ten years old, I was legitimately afraid that a nuclear war would end human life on earth. We joke about what the current Oval Office occupant might do, but the difference is that we can joke, which some of you can attest was not at all the case during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The revanchists are always with us — and always dangerous — perhaps we can set up a closed virtual reality “resort” where all the windows show time-delayed Fox News ‘casts and 1950s sitcoms 24/7?


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Apart from daring to dream about the future, what’s on the agenda for the start of the new week?

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Props to the 13th Doctor, but this made me grin…



Still Not Ginger!

The BBC has announced the 13th Doctor:

From The Guardian:

Chris Chibnall, Doctor Who’s new head writer and executive producer, said: “After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor.

“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for the Doctor simply blew us all away.

“Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The 13th Doctor is on her way.”

Whittaker said: “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.”

At this moment, if you’re attuned to these things, you can feel the millions of gamergaters, men’s rights activists, and these gorilla mindset schmos crying out in despair. Or tweeting about it…

At the risk of crossing the meme streams:



Lessons from History: The US During WW I

While the French celebrate the final hours of Bastille Day, including historic displays of US troops in Paris on this day in 1917, I want to take a moment and focus on what was happening on the home front in the US 100 years ago. Reflecting on this history is important given the concern expressed in comments and on the front page here and other places about what is happening in the US.

It is not often remarked, if it is even remembered, that during WW I President Wilson essentially leveraged all forms of national power to achieve his objectives – in terms of both the war effort in Europe and domestically at home. As a result he converted the Federal government into something of an authoritarian regime. There were still elections. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were technically still in existence and in force, but in reality the US under President Wilson during World War I was about as far from its ideals as it has ever been. President Wilson essentially federalized Jim Crow, which was in line with both his racism and his obscure religious beliefs in Anglo-Israelism.

The power of the Presidency and the Federal government was leveraged through what we now call a psychological operation (PSYOPS) campaign to ensure broad and deep support for President Wilson’s agenda. To this end he tapped George Creel who created the propaganda campaign that would mobilize Americans behind President Wilson. Creel’s work is a textbook example of how to plan and implement a PSYOPS campaign. And it was incredibly successful. Through Creel’s work, President Wilson was able to convince Americans to not just go with meatless or wheatless days at home, but to turn in their neighbors if they suspected them of not getting on board with these initiatives to ensure that the troops in Europe had what they needed for their sustainment. Creel also set the conditions for forced charitable contributions to the war effort, including enforcement that would bring public pressure (shaming, denigration, job termination, extrajudicial violence) against those that didn’t give or give enough.

And even though Creel tried to tone down the official anti-German components of his propaganda, he largely failed. German nationals in the US and German-Americans were forced to register with the government and carry ID cards. In a grim foreshadowing of what Germans would do throughout Europe during WW II, as well as what the US would do to Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals in the US, German nationals and German Americans lost their jobs, had their property taken away, were relocated into internment camps, and were subjected to extrajudicial violence and punishment. Simply for being German or Americans of German descent.

For instance:

As the war dredged on, nativism took root. Newspapers printed one-sided war coverage. President Wilson railed against “hyphenated Americans,” a slight against German-Americans. Even the growing support for Prohibition was seen as a fight against the Germans.

Then, when the U.S. entered the war in 1917, all pretenses disappeared. German culture was attacked. Anti-German hysteria swept the nation – especially here.

German language classes, taught in Cincinnati schools since 1840, were dropped. The Enquirer offered the headline: “Bang! Hun Study Is Floored.”

The public library moved their 10,000 German books to the subbasement. “This library has been used to further a reptilian and insidious propaganda by enemies of the United States,” said board trustee James Albert Green. “German literature published during the last 40 years is tainted with the ideas and ideals which American boys now are giving their lives to combat.”

For those wondering what tyranny and authoritarianism in the US looks like, the US during World War I is the real example. The US and its ideals survived President Wilson and his efforts during World War I. It still has the resilience to survive the trials and tribulations it is facing now. All that is required is that Americans, regardless of background, remember the ideals that America is based on and act accordingly. Small acts are as important as large, grand sweeping gestures.

For an excellent four hour documentary on the US and World War I, including an in depth examination of what was occurring domestically, I highly recommend PBS’s The American Experience: The Great WarIt will be four well spent hours.



President Lincoln’s July 4, 1861 Message to a Special Session of Congress

President Lincoln delivered a message to a special session of Congress on Independence Day 1861. The message was intended to explain how the US had come to be where it was at that moment in time. Including the state of rebellion and his responses and actions. For those that would prefer to listen (it’s a wee bit on the long side…), there’s a video of someone reading President Lincoln’s remarks after the text.

President Lincoln’s message to a special session of Congress – 4 July 1861:

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Having been convened on an extraordinary occasion, as authorized by the Constitution, your attention is not called to any ordinary subject of legislation.

At the beginning of the present Presidential term, four months ago, the functions of the Federal Government were found to be generally suspended within the several States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, excepting only those of the Post-Office Department.

Within these States all the forts, arsenals, dockyards, custom-houses, and the like, including the movable and stationary property in and about them, had been seized and were held in open hostility to this Government, excepting only Forts Pickens, Taylor, and Jefferson, on and near the Florida coast, and Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The forts thus seized had been put in improved condition, new ones had been built, and armed forces had been organized and were organizing, all avowedly with the same hostile purpose.

The forts remaining in the possession of the Federal Government in and near these States were either besieged or menaced by warlike preparations, and especially Fort Sumter was nearly surrounded by well-protected hostile batteries, with guns equal in quality to the best of its own and outnumbering the latter as perhaps ten to one. A disproportionate share of the Federal muskets and rifles had somehow found their way into these States, and had been seized to be used against the Government. Accumulations of the public revenue lying within them had been seized for the same object. The Navy was scattered in distant seas, leaving but a very small part of it within the immediate reach of the Government. Officers of the Federal Army and Navy had resigned in great numbers, and of those resigning a large proportion had taken up arms against the Government. Simultaneously and in connection with all this the purpose to sever the Federal Union was openly avowed. In accordance with this purpose, an ordinance had been adopted in each of these States declaring the States respectively to be separated from the National Union. A formula for instituting a combined government of these States had been promulgated, and this illegal organization, in the character of Confederate States, was already invoking recognition, aid, and intervention from foreign powers.

Finding this condition of things and believing it to be an imperative duty upon the incoming Executive to prevent, if possible, the consummation of such attempt to destroy the Federal Union, a choice of means to that end became indispensable. This choice was made, and was declared in the inaugural address. The policy chosen looked to the exhaustion of all peaceful measures before a resort to any stronger ones. It sought only to hold the public places and property not already wrested from the Government and to collect the revenue, relying for the rest on time, discussion, and the ballot box. It promised a continuance of the mails at Government expense to the very people who were resisting the Government, and it gave repeated pledges against any disturbance to any of the people or any of their rights. Of all that which a President might constitutionally and justifiably do in such a case, everything was forborne without which it was believed possible to keep the Government on foot.

On the 5th of March, the present incumbent’s first full day in office, a letter of Major Anderson, commanding at Fort Sumter, written on the 28th of February and received at the War Department on the 4th of March, was by that Department placed in his hands. This letter expressed the professional opinion of the writer that reenforcements could not be thrown into that fort within the time for his relief rendered necessary by the limited supply of provisions, and with a view of holding possession of the same, with a force of less than 20,000 good and well-disciplined men. This opinion was concurred in by all the officers of his command, and their memoranda on the subject were made inclosures of Major Anderson’s letter. The whole was immediately laid before Lieutenant-General Scott, who at once concurred with Major Anderson in opinion. On reflection, however, he took full time, consulting with other officers, both of the Army and the Navy, and at the end of four days came reluctantly, but decidedly, to the same conclusion as before. He also stated at the same time that no such sufficient force was then at the control of the Government or could be raised and brought to the ground within the time when the provisions in the fort would be exhausted. In a purely military point of view this reduced the duty of the Administration in the case to the mere matter of getting the garrison safely out of the fort.

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President Lincoln’s July 7, 1863 Independence Day Address

President Lincoln made remarks on Independence Day in 1863 on the 7th of July. While he issued a brief statement on the 4th that referenced the Army of the Potomac’s victory at Gettysburg, he delayed making an address until the 7th because he was concerned about the outcome of the Vicksburg campaign. You will find within his brief statement themes that he eventually developed more fully in his Gettysburg Address delivered in November of 1863. Here are President Lincoln’s remarks on American Independence delivered on 7 July 1863 and sometimes referred to as the Response to a Serenade.

Fellow-citizens: I am very glad to see you to-night. But yet I will not say I thank you for this call. But I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called. [Cheers.] How long ago is it? Eighty odd years since, upon the Fourth day of July, for the first time in the world, a union body of representatives was assembled to declare as a self-evident truth that all men were created equal. [Cheers.]That was the birthday of the United States of America. Since then the fourth day of July has had several very peculiar recognitions. The two most distinguished men who framed and supported that paper, including the particular declaration I have mentioned, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the one having framed it, and the other sustained it most ably in debate, the only two of the fifty-five or fifty-six who signed it, I believe, who were ever President of the United States, precisely fifty years after they put their hands to that paper it pleased the Almighty God to take away from this stage of action on the Fourth of July. This extraordinary coincidence we can understand to be a dispensation of the Almighty Ruler of Events.

Another of our Presidents, five years afterwards, was called from this stage of existence on the same day of the month, and now on this Fourth of July just past, when a gigantic rebellion has risen in the land, precisely at the bottom of which is an effort to overthrow that principle “that all men are created equal,” we have a surrender of one of their most powerful positions and powerful armies forced upon them on that very day. [Cheers.] And I see in the succession of battles in Pennsylvania, which continued three days, so rapidly following each other as to be justly called one great battle, fought on the first, second and third of July; on the fourth the enemies of the declaration that all men are created equal had to turn tail and run. [Laughter and applause.]

Gentlemen, this is a glorious theme and a glorious occasion for a speech, but I am not prepared to make one worthy of the theme and worthy of the occasion. [Cries of “go on,” and applause.] I would like to speak in all praise that is due to the the [sic] many brave officers and soldiers who have fought in the cause of the Union and liberties of this country from the beginning of this war, not on occasions of success, but upon the more trying occasions of the want of success. I say I would like to speak in praise of these men, particularizing their deeds, but I am unprepared. I should dislike to mention the name of a single officer, lest in doing so I wrong some other one whose name may not occur to me. [Cheers.]

Recent events bring up certain names, gallantly prominent, but I do not want to particularly name them at the expense of others, who are as justly entitled to our gratitude as they. I therefore do not upon this occasion name a single man. And now I have said about as much as I ought to say in this impromptu manner, and if you please, I’ll take the music. [Tremendous cheering, and calls for the President to reappear.]



Point, Counterpoint

Point:

Dana Loesch, the St. Louis, MO based conservative commentator, made the following membership drive (I think it’s to promote joining, but it’s hard to tell) video for the National Rifle Association back in April. For some reason it floated below the surface until it got noticed on social media this week.

I think Josh Marshall’s analysis is pretty accurate:

Counterpoint:

(Image 1: Ryan Payne from a 2014 Missoula Independent cover/profile)

This past week Federal prosecutors in Oregon made sentencing request for some of the people that followed Ammon Bundy in occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The Oregonian reports:

The government will recommend Ryan Payne receive three years and five months in custody, the longest sentence of those who entered guilty pleas to conspiracy, Gabriel said.

Payne is still facing Federal charges in Nevada related to his actions in the Bunkerville standoff. As The Missoula Independent reports, was:

On April 7, Ryan Payne, a 30-year-old Iraq War veteran, packed his ’93 Jeep Cherokee with two sleeping bags, two cots, the rucksack he’d more or less lived out of during his five years in the military and a Rock River Arms Operator LAR-15. He was on his way to the southern Nevada desert to defend the oppressed from the tyrannical force of the federal government, and he knew he might have to fight.

As people came, Payne emerged—reluctantly, he says—as the militia’s de facto leader.

“I’m an advisor and coordinator for OMA,” Payne says, “and I was Mr. Bundy’s militia liaison. He would tell me what he had planned, and then I would advise him as to what the militia could accomplish in support of that.”

He organized the militia into units and pursued the objectives he and Bundy had agreed upon. As he set about planning a strategy for accomplishing those goals, Payne drew heavily on his Army experience.

Stay frosty!