Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sunday Morning Scene: Churches of the West: Salvation Army Church, Salt Lake City Utah

Churches of the West: Salvation Army Church, Salt Lake City Utah:

This poor photograph was taken from a moving car. It depicts the Salvation Army Church in Salt Lake City Utah. I believe this to be the only classically styled church belonging to the Salvation Army that I have ever seen.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Judical Coup D'Etat. Why every American, irrespective of position, ought to cringe over Obergefell

Senātus Populus que Rōmānus
Translated, the Senate and People of Rome. 
The motto of the Roman Empire, whose legions marched under that banner in service of its Emperors.


This isn't a post about same gender marriage.

If a person wants to debate that, go elsewhere, as this isn't that post.

This is a post about a court usurping legislative power.

As anyone following the news well knows, in a five to four decision, the United States Supreme Court decided in Obergefell v. Hodges that the United States Constitution, which doesn't include the word "marriage" anywhere within it, and which was written at a time when same gender attraction was uniformly regarded as a horrible personal vice, guarantees the rights of people with that inclination to contract a marriage to a person of the same gender.   The decision, which everyone knows is not really based on a true reading of the Constitution but on a liberal interpretation of what ought to be done, is being widely celebrated by those who have been backing this fairly radical social experiment.  In some ways the most telling comment in the case was the following:
The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era
That's innocuous language presents a stunning proposition.  Rights come not from history an tradition, and the court doesn't even mention the Natural Law, which is where the drafters of all of our original organic documents understood them to come from.  No, they "rise" from "a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty. . . "  And who has that "better informed understanding"?  Not the national or state legislatures, apparently, which we understood to be able to legally create rights and privileges.  No, nine, or in this case five, mostly very old people who have very little connection with the average lives of Americans whose rights they purport to be creating, or which they may be destroying.  Or, as Chief Justice John Roberts noted:
Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be. The people who ratified the Constitution authorized courts to exercise ‘neither force nor will but merely judgment.
Or as the much castigated Justice Scalia stated, in keeping with the anniversary we note here today:
This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.
Those to whom this new right is conferred, perhaps most of all, ought to pause to consider what has occurred. 

Indeed, it ought to frighten every American.  There ought not to be a parade by any group of people on the street, there ought to be some really sober reflection on what's occurred, as its really scary.  As Justice Alito noted:
Today’s decision will also have a fundamental effect on this Court and its ability to uphold the rule of law. If a bare majority of Justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate
A common claim is that this now makes same gender marriage "the law of the land".  And so it does.  But the next common claim, that this has been decided "forever" (even excusing the human folly to believe that the trends of their own era or even the governments and nations of the era in which they live are somehow permanent), is far from true.  Many Supreme Court pronouncements barely outlive the justices who wrote them, and if history in this country has shown us anything, there isn't a single Constitutional "right" of any kind that isn't subject to being rewritten, reduced, and eliminated.

And this has proven to be most particularly the case concerning social decisions, which are so thinly based on the law in the first place.  Indeed, Justice Roberts cited a blistering legal analysis of the folly of Wade doing that, by none other than Ruther Bader Ginsberg, in his dissent.

It's easy to see why.  Nobody likes to have the vote taken from them.  When the vote is taken in a coup, the lousing side sits and stews until it has the chance to vote again, and that chance usually comes.

The case that this is most analogous to is of course the legendary Wade decision which, at the time, overrode the law of many states and advanced a controversial view that had gained traction in some states concerning the point at which life began vs the rights of an individual.  The case concerned a massive metaphysical and philosophical question of the type that no court can really handle, and the Court handled it really badly.  The case did indeed seem to have worked a permanent change for about the first ten years, or maybe even twenty, of its existence, but after that, the weak logic of the case began to erode on its own accord.  The only thing that keeps the decision in place at all is the basic fact that everyone feels the current five to four split on the Court, in which Anthony Kennedy is the repeated tie breaker, probably operates so that if the matter returned to the court, some preservation of its holding would remain, but not all of it. The whole case might, in fact, fall, and Legislatures now have little trepidation about passing laws in this area which 20 years ago they would have feared to.  Even liberal publications, such as The New Republic, have urged its complete repeal, recognizing that the main function of the decision has been to make their view appear to be anemic and anti democratic, while the opposition has effectively organized and has taken it on. What political liberals of the era deemed in impossible has become a reality, the decision holds by a thread, most people don't like the impact, and in the society, the opposing view has become the majority one.

My prediction, which I know is contrary to the current belief, is that the same will effectively happen here.  The Obergefell case is really part of a long standing trend in American law which has weakened the institution of marriage and what being married means.  Without going into it in depth, the first blows were really struck when no fault divorce laws became common in the United States, making obtaining a divorce much easier but also making it much easier for people to escape responsibility for everything in this arena.. The second came when social programs had the unintended effect of allowing men to easily escape the burdens of caring for children they hadn't planned for.  Combined, the institution of marriage has been eroding for some time.  This most recent development really reflects that, as it reflects a current faddish view of marriage that it exist in order to bring fulfillment or happiness, or has something to do with love.  All of that might reflect the conditions that marriage may bring (or might not), but it doesn't go to the reason for the institution, which exists in order to promote the relationship between couples that are engaged in activities that naturally lead to children.  That's in the interest of the state, the rest of it really isn't.  That fact has indeed begun to come back into focus in recent years, but like the back side of a wave, it hasn't risen to the crest yet.  The crest of the wave is still at the happiness and fulfillment peak, although certainly not exclusively so.

Where this all leads isn't really yet known, and whether a person likes the reality of the history of marriage or not, or feels it should be something else or not. as a legal matter, the facts are what they are.  Now five of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have terminated the debate, they think, and chosen to force a social view on a nation that was debating it.  If the current trend had held, ironically, the view now forced on the nation by judicial fiat would have become the dominant law anyhow, by legislative process.  Now, however, the court had killed the legislative process and taken the matter out of the hands of legislators and voters.  Why they did this, when they clearly did not have to, is a question that has to be asked.

That's happened, of course, before, but when it does, the trend is uniformly bad for the nation. Those who are deprived of the vote feel, justifiably, cheated, and they don't accept the view that the "majority" wants this.  They struggle against it.  And in that process, those who have achieved victory by judicial fiat at first loudly proclaim their victory, and then loudly complaint about those who will not accept it.  If the prior examples are applicable, they then begin to loose ground, although its usually a slow process.

I'm not sure that the process will be that slow here.  The Obergefell decision comes as close to a coup in the United States as we've ever seen.  We've never had an instance in this country before in which the Court has actually ruled on a definition of an institution that most humans participate in, which is so fundamental to us, and which grossly predates the existence of our own country. That they'd do so is stunningly arrogant, even if you view that the achieved result is the one that should have happened legislatively.


Liberty, Equality, Fraternity 
The battle cry of the French revolution, and the ideals under which Imperial France under a military dictator marched under the revolutionary Tri Color on Europe. 


The common wisdom right now is that the public will now accept this, where it hadn't.  I doubt it will, and already those who appeared defeated are beginning to resist and rally, with proposals that will have to be taken seriously in short order.  A real reaction is likely to be a massive level of contempt for a Court which was already not particularly well liked by much of the nation, and which now shows itself capable of acting in a Napoleonic fashion.  Like the little emperor, who marched on Europe in the name of liberal ideals, liberty, quality and fraternity, five robed emperors, likewise sitting for life, have decreed that legislatures don't matter in something in which they very much do. And, just like the little emperor, these emperors amazingly do so in interrupting what was seemingly a trend in the same direction they went anyhow.  They clearly need not have done it under the law, and even if they felt their decision to be a socially correct one, they could have waited for it to unfold.  A person doesn't need to be hasty in overturning a norm that's as old as human history.

Unless, of course, you are at death's door yourself and feel that the world cannot progress without you.  Does the Court feel that way?  I hope not, but at least Ruth Bader Ginsberg has made a statement reminiscent of  Charles D'Gaulle to the effect that if she was to step down, who would replace her. Well, that likely wouldn't be a problem. And frankly, if she's to keep the balance of the body as it is, she probably should have done that earlier in President Obama's administration when a liberal replacement was assured.  Now that would be pretty questionable.

Indeed, one thing we know for certain about the current Supreme Court is that the current nine members cannot possibly all live through the next Presidential term.  Death will claim at least one of them, if not more (and it will probably be more).  Four of the justices are over 70 years old, with Ginsberg being 82.  Only one is under 60.  Three out of the four justices over 70 voted in the majority which effectively means that the oldest section of the court, and the section most likely to be removed by death or illness, is the majority (but the youngest justice also voted with the majority, it should be noted).  Three out of the four in the minority voted against it, with the second to youngest on the court included in that group.  Should all nine live through the next Presidential term, particularly a two term Presidency, would be a stunning run contrary to the law of averages.  It'd be more likely that one or two of them will pass on to eternity during that time, and indeed given the really geriatric nature of this court, we could see a huge turnover in the next eight years fairly easily.  Only one of them is really in the demographic group where we're truly surprised if they pass.

So, what's that mean?  Well, just as the court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, decided in 2008, has spawned repeated court cases as to its meaning every since, with no end in sight, in spite of its seemingly clear text, this decision will inevitably do so as well.  When some county clerk refuses to issue a marriage license on moral belief grounds, and gets sued, will that clerk be able to argue freedom on conscience?   We're going to find out in the courts. When a judge refuses to preform a marriage and gets sued, will he be able to claim the same?  We're going to find out.  When a case presently on hold in Utah on polygamous marriage goes to decision in the next year (and it will now), and others like it follow, will that be governed by this decision (I can't see how it could not be).  When an immigrant migrant from North Africa claims a cultural right to marry a 14 year old, or perhaps two, or brings in a child bride,will that be protected if state law has prohibited it, but the culture he's part of consents? We're going to find that out too.  And if it is the case that a man married to a child bride in Afghanistan can import his 14 year old bride, does that mean an American man can demand the same "right".  Well, a reasonable holding of this decision would be yes, and at some point I suppose well find out if it does.

And, as always, what will happen, at a bare minimum, is the Court wills slowly start with the "the decision didn't mean that", with a series of specious distinctions.  They'll look bogus, because they will be.  In the meantime, the debate will evolve with "we told you so, we told you so", and there will be no good counter to it.  The Court, in turn, will look absurd, and once that's the case (and we've been through some bouts of that since the early 1970s), nobody respects what it has to say save for the fact that the Executive branch can back the opinions up with action, if they feel inclined to.  

But, and perhaps quite likely, if  the next President is a conservative, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg passes, or Kennedy, the next Supreme Court justice is unlikely to really believe that Obergefell means anything and either repeal it or define it out of existence.  People will say, "oh no, they won't reverse themselves". Read the descents, they most certainly would.  Justice Scalia, who is another octogenarian on the court it should be noted, so disdains the majority opinion that he's noted it again in a dissent for another case, an extraordinary thing to do.  And justice Robert's dissent flatly stated that, in regards to the decision, "The Constitution had nothing to do with it."  So this could be returned to the legislatures, after having been taken away from them, quite easily.  My guess is that some state legislatures in some places will start reacting nearly immediately in any event, which makes such a reversal all the more likely. Indeed, the Attorney General's Office of Texas has already indicated moral support for at least clerks and judges who refuse to go along.

And it should be returned to the legislatures, frankly, to preserve the Court.  The point of a democracy is to be democratic.  A person who doesn't like the results of a vote doesn't have to like it, but at least that person can argue for another day. The point of the Court here is to keep legislatures from acting unconstitutionally without restraint (like an Athenian democracy) but not to legislate itself, as its effectively done here. The victim of a coup, moreoever, stews in bitterness until their day comes.  And that day always does, sooner or later.  And when that counter reaction comes, the oppressing institution gets slapped.

When that comes, those who leaped on to a bandwagon that preempted a democratic development rarely fair well in preserving their argument.  In pre World War Two France, for example conservative right wing political movements were taken serious and participated democratically.  When Germany supplanted their government with one more of its liking, they were quick to sign on.  It wasn't that the French right was uniformly fascist, or even uniformly wrong, but having allied themselves with that which seemed give them a quick result, the result of World War Two has been something they have not been able to overcome.  "Pro choice" elements in the US were so over comforted by their Supreme Court victory in 1973 that they've never been able to learn how to act really democratically once the debate resumed. Here, a movement that was doing well in the polls will now be associated with a the actions of a geriatric Supreme Court.

Already in this area there's been a proposal that Supreme Court justices should be made to stand for retention.  Maybe they really ought to, or be subject to some sort of oversight short of impeachment.  Other concepts that are not far from the surface would be to impose a mandatory retirement age on the Federal bench, which frankly I'd be in favor of, as I can't grasp why nine people from some generation that the majority of Americans are not, should hold such power.  Justices could be selected by some other process as well, and I wonder if that will come about.  There's no reason that they couldn't be rotated out of the Circuit Courts on an annual basis, thereby eliminating the need for a standing Supreme Court at all.  Or the process could require input from the states.  Or, frighteningly, Congress could act simply to deprive the Supreme Court of appellate review of the laws which it passes or even specificlaws, or just things it doesn't want the Supreme Court to review, as, while little realized, this is within the power of Congress.

Section 2.

The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.
In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
Quite clearly, while this Court would be likely to attempt to attack it and say it isn't so, Congress could in fact pass laws and provide that the Supreme Court had no appellate review.  If the Court determined that it did, and it would be likely to hold that it did, then what? The only reason that this hasn't happened to date in our country's history, is that Congress has tended to respect the court, and the court's been careful not to provoke Congress. They've done that now.

None of this appears likely right now, but any time the Court makes a decision like this, they start to be in varying degrees.  Indeed, this opinion aside, it ought to be apparent that a Federal judiciary made up of life time appointments is more than a little bizarre.The thought that lawyers who formed their views decades ago and who are in the age in which mental deterioration is the norm should have absolute power over the affairs of the nation makes no sense whatsoever.

In the meantime, Americans in general ought to be worried.  Our politics have descended over the past twenty years to where our legislatures, including the national one, are not functioning as well as they should be.  The Democratic and Republican parties are increasingly at odds with each other, and increasingly more extreme (although here, as with some other social issues, they tended to be heading towards each other). The Supreme Court has now issued a decision that strays badly from the law, as the law would have been understood in any former area, and now sets itself up as an un-appealable legislature of social change.  That's outright scary.

And because it's scary, this is appearing on the July 4 weekend.  On that date, the Continental Congress, in rebellion against the Crown, declared the nation to be independent basically because the English Parliament had seemed to usurp the power of the sovereign colonies by taking acts without consulting the assemblies of those colonies.  The "intolerable acts" were varied, but that was the gist of it.  Quite frankly, if you look back and read them, a lot of the things they were doing that seemed intolerable were not all that bad, including taxing the colonies to help pay for a war in which the Crown defended them.  But the not consulting part was pretty bad.  Now, nine, or rather five, lawyers in a body that has been appointed for life has essentially done the same thing.  When Chief Justice John Marshall crafted the early court to have judicial review of acts of Congress, he was careful not to anger it, as he knew that was dicey.  These justices have perhaps assumed too much if they've assumed that they can now act so far that Marshall would be horrified, and I'd be surprised if, long term, this decision doesn't either mark the beginning of a Cesarian court and a retreat of American democracy, or the point at which the roles of the Court began to massively erode in favor of a more Athenian democracy.

Either result is really scary.


Equal Justice Under Law
The motto of the United States Supreme Court.  
Interestingly, on the "Temple" of Justice, where the United States Supreme Court sits, these words appear immediately above a statute. . . of a Roman Centurion.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sportsman criticizes, challenges contribution

Sportsman criticizes, challenges contribution

Now, this is interesting.

The opposition to the concept that the Federal government ought to transfer the public lands to the states is really gaining opposition, as well it should.  And, I should note, not only in the West, it's gaining attention in the east as well.

Anyhow, recently the Natrona County Commissioners gave $1,000 of tax money (they have no other kind) to the American Lands Council, a Utah based group backing this concept. That squarely places the Commission behind this ill begotten idea, and with public money too.  A local sportsmen was reported taking them to task, and apparently effectively, on that.

One thing to note here is that the Wyoming Constitution expressly disavows any claims to Federal land, and its an open question if Wyoming could really accept any legally, should the offer be forthcoming.  Forever disavowing, as we purported to do, is forever disavowing.  In keeping with that, and in recognition of the growing opposition, the Legislature, which was looking at funding a bill to study taking the land instead changed it into one to study simply managing it. Even that has been sufficiently poorly thought of that at least one of the legislators backing that idea, from my district, didn't note it in his recent mail to his constituents. We will remember it, however, as I'm sure he's probably reluctantly aware.

Several months ago this same body was presented by a resolution, by one of the members who voted to spend the $1,000 in this fashion, seeking to instruct the County Clerk not to issue same gender marriage licenses to applicants after the Federal Court here found Wyoming's statute defining marriage the way its been defined forever unconstitutional.  This post doesn't seek to discuss that topic in any fashion, I'm merely noting it (a post discussing the United States Supreme Court's action will appear here tomorrow, about this time).  That measure failed as the other commissioners noted that they couldn't instruct the Clerk to act against the Federal law.

So why can the commission spend money to study something that may run contrary to the Wyoming Constitution?

Dressed for Battle

Dressed for Battle

Mid Week At Work: Adult Education.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Holscher's Hub: Boyce MotoMeter

Holscher's Hub: Boyce MotoMeter

Holscher's Hub: Images of flight

Holscher's Hub: Images of flight: Model A radiator cap.

The old and the new. A passenger jet passes in front of a Ford Trimotor

Thanks, but no thanks, and oh, why even bother. Wyoming rolls over on the UBE.

Two years I wrote this item about the unfortunate move by the Wyoming State Bar adopting the Uniform Bar Exam:
Lex Anteinternet: Wyoming Adopts the Uniform Bar Exam, and why that'...:     Wyoming Supreme Court in  Cheyenne. Students of legal minutia know that the phrase "to pass the bar", or "to be ca...
I made some predictions at that time, including that the net effect of the UBE would be to increasingly pass off Wyoming's legal work to lawyers in big cities in neighboring states, and that has become true.  Now both defense and plaintiff's work, in the civil arena, has become something in which out of state firms are increasingly involved in.  So litigants who have cases in Wyoming are increasingly, in some instances, using non Wyoming lawyers, and in some instances defendants are being defended by non Wyoming lawyers.  It isn't that these attorneys are better than Wyoming's lawyers.  They aren't.  It's that they are from large cities in some instances.  In my view, Wyoming is being hurt by this as lawyers who know Wyoming's law and live in the state aren't handling as much of this work as they should.

When the UBE was adopted by the Wyoming Supreme Court, a Wyoming component was added in the form of a CLE that new admittees had to take. The concept was that, in the course of a day, they'd be exposed to Wyoming's law. That was always a fairly absurd concept, as it takes years to pick up the nuances of Wyoming's law, and no CLE with topics ripping by in fifteen minute increments is going to do that.

In saying that, I should note that I was part of the process.  While I'm opposed to the UBE and particularly opposed to the reciprocity aspects of it, my very opposition to it ended up causing me to be asked to write for one of the CLE topics.  I agreed to do it, after being approached, as I felt I had little choice.  Having been asked to do it, I could hardly decline, particularly as those who asked me were well aware of my opposition to the entire process.

Due to that, in the most recent issue of the state bar's publication I see that I, along with the other authors of written material for the UBE, have been thanked.  The reason is that the Bar Examiners have now concluded that the CLE requirement isn't worthwhile, so we're just going to admit new members without a state component, other than an expanded introductory pathways requirement.  Those who wasted their time on the written CLE requirement programs, such as myself, have had the futility of their efforts publicly applauded.

Well. . ., thanks but no thanks.  The entire Uniform Bar Exam process is misbegotten and ought to be dumped, and it was always a poorly through.   All this is serving to do is to export Wyoming's legal work to the detriment of Wyomingites.  It's not too late to salvage the situation, but it will become so as fewer and fewer Wyoming lawyers handle substantial cases.  I can easily envision a near future when even the judges will be out of state lawyers who apply for those positions are deemed to be the only ones experienced enough in the topics to handle the tasks.

The Board of Law Examiners, by the way, dumped the CLE requirement as it was ineffective.  That should have been self evident from the get go, as it was quite evident to me, as one of the drafters of a section of it, that the time element of it was so short as to be nonsensical.  There was no way that anyone was going to learn much in that sort of CLE, and there was no test as a part of it.  It was just something a person had to endure.

In its place, the BLE is going to expand the Pathways to Professionalism, a mandatory professionalism course which will be expanded.  Well, quite frankly, programs on professionalism do not  enhance professionalism one iota.

In making this decision, according to the article I read, the BLE was conceding that the law of most states is all the same, and a person can just look it up on the Internet.  Oh really. Well, that's baloney, and anyone who has had the experience of out of state lawyers practicing in a complicated Wyoming case knows better.  Of course, if we persist in this path, it will become very similar to Colorado's law, as that's where the majority of out of state "Wyoming" practitioners live.

Indeed, recently I was in a case which had one such practitioner on the defense side and two out of state lawyers on the plaintiff's side.  The lawyer on the defense side had a practice heavily based on out of state work, and he commented that "he couldn't believe" that Wyoming allowed such simple CLE admission and that he'd think that Wyoming lawyers would resent it.  So, something that's pretty self evident to out of state lawyers practicing in the state apparently isn't to those who are supposed to be manning the gate here.

This entire situation has been a terrible shame.  The concept that Wyoming's bar exam was somehow fatally flawed was poorly thought out, and the Wyoming Supreme Court really bought a line of baloney in adopting the UBE sales pitch.  There's no excuse for it, and the situation should be reversed before the damage, which will take years to undo, becomes any worse.  It would be simple to repair.  Simply require that any applicant to the Wyoming bar take a test on Wyoming's law.

Wyoming has a lot of really good lawyers, still.  And we have a law school, still.  We can craft a Wyoming component and test those who wish to practice here on Wyoming's law.  We should.

If we don't, our current pathway will have a logical development.  Within a decade nearly all serious litigation will be handled by out of state lawyers, and Wyoming's lawyers will reduce in number and be reduced to minor matters and criminal matters.  The judges will start to come from out of state too, and our law will start to resemble Colorado's, whether we want it to or not. The law school of which so many Wyoming lawyers are graduates, will go by the end of the next decade, as the uniqueness of Wyoming's law will decline, and there will be no reason to have an institution that serves no state specific purpose.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lost Rail: The Past

Lost Rail: The Past:   In Gallatin County, MT, within the confines of 16 Mile Canyon lies Maudlow.  The Milwaukee Milepost here is 1417.2.  Like the railroa...

Old Picture of the Day: Cleburne Texas

Old Picture of the Day: Cleburne Texas: This is Horse and Buggy Week, and today's picture delivers up a LOT of horses and buggies. The picture was taken on the town squar...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Farming: Finland, 1899

Quite the scene, from the then very agrarian country (which was part of the Russian Empire at the time this photo was taken.  Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Friday Farming. The basic unit.

"Forty acres and a mule".  The basic agrarian unit in the American east in the 19th Century, and hence the unit that freed slaves were hoping to obtain, with the basic animal necessary to work the same.

"Three acres and a cow."  The basic agrarian unit in the United Kingdom in the 19th Century and early 20th Century, and hence the slogan of land reformers and Distributists.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Today In Wyoming's History: After Appomattox. The Civil War's impact on Wyomi...

After Appomattox. The Civil War's impact on Wyoming.

We recently posted this item on the Civil War in Wyoming:
Today In Wyoming's History: Wyoming in the Civil War: I posted this item on our other blog, Lex Anteinternet, very recently for a variety of reasons: Lex Anteinternet: The Stars and Bars as ...
That's not where Wyoming's story with the Civil War ends, however.  When the guns fell silent at Appomattox (which of course didn't really end the war everywhere), changes kept on coming.  And indeed it was inevitable that they would, given the operation of Holscher's Fourth Law of History, War Changes Everything.  So here we'll look at that part of the history of our state, which
again is a very significant one we've heretofore overlooked.
More on the thread posted on Today In Wyoming's' History.

Redrawing the battle lines to fit modern sensibilities, and thereby doing violence to history.

I suppose I'm over-publishing on this topic, due to the recent controversy over South Carolina's continued flying of one of the Confederate battle flags (there were a variety of them).  I've already posted on that immediately below.

On that topic, tonight on the national news I saw a man yelling at the reporter interviewing him when that reporter associated the Stars and Bars with the cause of slavery.  He yelled back something to the effect that Southern solders "were never fighting for slavery".

Oh, yes they were.

Oh sure, a person can put any number of nuances on this.  Drafted men, for example, fight (sometimes) because they were drafted. But at the end of the day, the argument that Southern soldiers didn't know that the war was about slavery are fooling themselves and dishonoring history. No matter what else the motives of individuals solders were, and no matter how hard, and even valiantly, they fought, they knew that if they one, slavery as an institution was going to be preserved, and that's what had taken their states into rebellion.  Individual motives may have been, and likely often were, much more complicated than that, but that's the simple fact.

What's also the fact, however, is that there's a tremendous desire on the part of people to make combatants of the past, even the near past, fit their sensibilities.  People don't like to think that people who fought really hard, and who had some admirable qualities, let alone people who are related them, fought for a bad cause, and knew it.

So, let's see how some examples of this work.

"The lost cause" has been a romantic Southern perception since some point during Reconstruction, when Southerners ceased confronting what they'd fought for and reimagined it.  As they did so, something the opposite of what Americans did to their returning servicemen during the late 60s and early 70s occurred, as they began to imagine the cause as noble and every Southern soldier a hero.  This stayed largely a Southern thing up until film entered the scene, and Birth of a Nation spread the concept everywhere.  It's likely best expressed in Gone With the Wind, which no matter what else a person thinks of it, has a very racist and rosy view of the old South.  It well expressed the concept that every slave was like Pork, Mammy or Prissy, and ever Southern soldier was Ashley.  The slave holding South is presented as a romantic dream, and effectively. Heck, I like the film. But it doesn't express reality.

The reality of Southern secession was that the Southern slave holding states had such a hair trigger about slavery the election of Abraham Lincoln was too much for it to endure, simply because he expressed the intent not to let slavery spread.  Southern legislatures went out of the Union, or tried to, on that point.  

That doesn't mean every Union soldier was enlightened.  But it should be noted that Union soldiers fought for the more philosophical point of preserving the Union.  At one time, their service was hugely admired, but in recent years, somehow, the romance that surrounds the Southern cause is the one that tends to be remembered.  That skews history.  Sure, the individual motivations of Southern troops may be more complicated, but that's still a fact that can't 'be ignored.

It probably also shouldn't be ignored that a huge percentage of the Southern fighting force had deserted by the end of the war either, or that regions of the South were hostile to the Confederacy.  

Which brings me to Italians during World War Two, truly.

For some reason, Italians, who actually did fight pretty hard in North Africa and in the Soviet Union (you didn't know that they fought with the Germans in the USSR, they did) are regarded as cowardly as they gave up when it became obvious that Mussolini wasn't worth fighting for.

Now, exactly what's wrong with that?  That doesn't make them cowards, that makes them smart.

I don't know what that says about the German fighting man in World War Two, but whatever it is, it isn't admirable.  But here too there are apologist who would excuse the German soldier.

German troops fought hard everywhere right to the bitter end, and they did so for an inescapably evil cause.  That's not admirable, and I don't care if most of them were drafted.  Most Italian soldiers were drafted too, and by 1943 they were giving up where they could, including their officers.  Some German officers did rebel, but mot didn't, and most German troops fought on until late war.  They shouldn't have.  They shouldn't have fought for Hitler at all.

The Japanese have gotten more of a pass about World War Two than the Germans have on every level, and I do suppose that the fact that Japanese soldiers were largely ignorant of things elsewhere may provide a bit of an excuse for the barbarity that they engaged in, but only barely.  And the occasional confusion of Japanese Medieval chivalry for later day Japanese "honor" is bunk.  The Japanese were brutal during World War Two and the fact that they claimed to liberate other Asians and then acted brutally shows that they should have known better.

Speaking of chivalry, however, the recent trend to show the enemies of Medieval Christendom as primitive nobles and the forces of Medieval Christendom as baddies is also revisionism in need of a dope slap.  Crusaders who went off to the Middle East weren't on a confused mission, they were repelling an invasion, and the Vikings weren't admirable in their pagan state.

Speaking of mounted troops (chivalry) another odd one has been the modern tendency to view all native combatants as committed against the United States in the 18th and 19th Century, or even against all European Americans.  Many Indians view things this way themselves, but it doesn't reflect the complicated reality.  Many tribes allied themselves with European Americans in various instances, sometime temporarily and sometimes not so.  In the West an interesting example of this is the Shoshone, who were allies of the United States and who contributed combatants to campaigns of the 1870s.  In recent years I've occasionally seen it claimed that the Shoshone were amongst the tribes that fought at Little Big Horn, in the Sioux camp.  It's not impossible that some were there, but by and large the big Shoshone story for the 1876 campaign was the detail contributed to Crook's command against the Sioux.  I'll note I'm not criticizing them for this, only noting it.

Regarding the main point, the fact of the matter is that we admire those who fight for us bravely, and bravery is admirable.  It's hard to accept that bravery for a bad cause is admirable, however. That doesn't mean that all bravery serves honor.  Quite the opposite can be true.  Redrawing the motives of combatants doesn't do history any favors, and it doesn't do justice of any kind to the combatants on any side in former wars either.

Mid Week At Work: Whaling

Old Picture of the Day: Processing Whale

Old Picture of the Day: Processing Whale: Today's picture shows a whale being processed after being killed. The picture was taken around 1940. I see a lot similarity betwee...

Old Picture of the Day: Whale Hunt

Old Picture of the Day: Whale Hunt: Today' picture is really sad and it shows the outcome as whaling became commercialized and was done for profit. This picture was t...

Old Picture of the Day: Whaling

Old Picture of the Day: Whaling: Welcome to whaling week here at OPOD. We will be looking at that now extinct career of hunting and processing whales. This picture was...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Today In Wyoming's History: Wyoming in the Civil War

Wyoming in the Civil War

I posted this item on our other blog, Lex Anteinternet, very recently for a variety of reasons:
Lex Anteinternet: The Stars and Bars as viewed from outside the Sout...:As everyone is well aware, there's been a controversy over the Confederate battle flag, the Stars and Bars, brought about by the recent
In doing this, it occurred to me to link this item over here, as I mentioned Wyoming's role in the Civil War in the post. . .

The rest can be read on our post on the Today In Wyoming's History blog.

The Stars and Bars as viewed from outside the South.

As everyone is well aware, there's been a controversy over the Confederate battle flag, the Stars and Bars, brought about by the recent senseless racist murders in South Carolina.  The Confederate battle flag flies on the statehouse lawn, where it has of course since the end of the Civil War.

Except it hasn't.

It's only been on that piece of ground, more or less, since 1961.  The Stars and Bars started flying from the State House dome in 1961, in what was frankly an attempt at a poke in the eye at desegregation.  It was since moved to the lawn in 2000 as it became increasingly controversial, and it now appears that it will be removed, finally, from the grounds entirely.  It's long overdue.  Indeed, it shouldn't have been there at any time post 1865.

Chances are that it had never been there prior to 1961.  Contrary to common belief, the Stars and Bars is not the "Confederate Flag". That distinction belonged to another flag.  Rather, the Stars and Bars was the Confederate battle jack.  A flag flown by some, but not all, Confederate forces on the battlefield, principally because the first Confederate national flag (the CSA adopted three flags during the course of the war), was easily confused with Old Glory.  By the war's end, the Stars and Bars had appeared as part of two Confederate national flags, but it was not, itself, ever the flag of the CSA nor even of the entire armed forces of the CSA.

The Stars and Bars, recalling Scotland's Cross of St. Andrew (with perhaps a shout out to one of the more independent Southern demographics at the time) is striking, and perhaps for that reason, it's the one that sticks in peoples minds and it's the one you see around today.

But why?

I know that the flag is cited as being part of Southern heritage and pride, but let's be frank.  It was the flag of an army in full rebellion against the United States and that rebellion cannot be separated from slavery.  Those today who would claim that the South was exercising a retained democratic right can only do so if the ignore the fact that a huge, largely native born Southern demographic, blacks, was kept in slavery and there's simply no excusing that.  South Carolina is a good example, as the majority of residents of South Carolina in the 1860-1865 time frame were black.  It's not like they were given the vote on succession.

For that matter, most Southern yeomen were fairly marginalized politically pre war as well, which helps explain why, during the course of the war, there ended up being more than a little resistance to the war effort. So much so, of course, that Virginia split in half.

Anyhow, the Stars and Bars, where it appears on public or private display, cannot help but offend.  For anyone who is not a white Southerner, it's insulting to some degree.  For blacks, how could it be taken otherwise?  For South Carolinian's, for that matter, who are black, how could it not be.  It only showed up on state grounds when South Carolina's legislature balked at desegregation.  It was meant to send a message all right, and the choice of the battle jack sent one pretty clearly.

In recent years, the Confederate battle jack has been showing up a lot here.  I saw it just this weekend at a camp site some people had set up out in the sticks.  Their camp was flying the U.S. flag and the Stars and Bars, a real mixed message.  That probably was intended to send sort of an in your face, Southern pride, message, but this isn't the South.

Indeed, the only Southern fighting men in this region of the country in the 1860 to 1865 time frame were "Galvanized Yankees" who had decided they'd take their chances with the Union as Indian fighters in order to get out of POW camps.  They were probably pretty reluctant Federal soldiers, but their performance wasn't bad and there seems to have been no troubles in stationing them with men who'd volunteered to fight the CSA from Ohio and Kansas, but who ended up here instead.

I suppose the Stars and Bars, today, is intended by most who fly it to show pride in their region, and not to send a rebellious racist message. If so, some Southern states, South Carolina included, have really pretty state flags that don't feature the Confederate battle jack and which, in some cases, probably predate the CSA.  Most Southerners during the war more closely identified with their states than with the CSA anyhow, and a person who is so state pride inclined ought to consider that.  And it should also be considered that American blacks have a history in the South which is as long as any other demographic, save for Native Americans.  They're story is just as much the South's as anyone else's.  It'd do Southern pride more justice to consider that time frame that falls outside of the five years of the Civil War, or perhaps that twenty or so year period if we include the time leading up to the war and Reconstruction, and not focus so much on it. 

Southerns of that era, we should note, did not.  Figures such as James Longstreet didn't wallow in their former Southern military status but went on to work to rebuild as part of the nation.  Longstreet, one of the most famous of Lee's Lieutenants, went on to become a Republican politician.  Lee went on to be a college president and refused to march in step with his students.  One former Confederate cavalry general went on to Congress and then back into the U.S. Army, as a volunteer, for the Spanish American War.  Southerners only one generation removed from the war volunteered in droves to serve in the Spanish American War.  Apparently they at least partially got over it. And with that, perhaps too its time for the Stars and Bars to go, or at least not to be flown in other regions of the country where the message definitely won't be seen as pride but rather something else.

Victor Military Band – 1916

Victor Military Band – 1916

Random Snippets: How to tell you are really out of the mainstream and too history minded.

"Adrian Peterson finding a new normal with Vikings" read the headline on the net.

And, having not had enough coffee I read that and thought to myself "well, Peterson could be a Norse name. . . but wait, we don't have vikings anymore. . . ."

It took me a few seconds to wake up and realize that, of course, Adrian Peterson is a football player with the Minnesota Vikings.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday at the Bar: Courthouses of the West: Johnson County Courthouse, Buffalo Wyoming

Courthouses of the West: Johnson County Courthouse, Buffalo Wyoming:

Now no longer a courthouse, but it was at the time this photo was taken a couple of years ago.  A new courthouse has come into service since that time.   More details on Courthouses of the West, where this was originally posted.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

1870 to 1918: Jenny has passed away.

1870 to 1918:  Jenny has passed away. Hello to all readers of Jenny’s blog. Tragically Jenny has passed away. She was following her passion, hiking in the Smoky Mountains, and evidently she had an accident. She was located in one of her favorite hiking areas, Porter’s Creek / Lester Prong.
Very tragic news.

I really liked the 1870 to 1918 blog, and the author, Jenny, was a bit of a kindred spirit in some ways. This news is sad in the extreme.  Our sincere condolences.

Sunday Morning Scene: Churches of the West: First Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City Utah

Churches of the West: First Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City Utah:

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Bicentennial. Waterloo

"Scotland Forever".  A painting on the charge of the Royal Scots Greys at Waterloo.

Just yesterday we passed the 200th anniversary of one of the most significant battles in modern history.  They Battle of Waterloo.

At Waterloo, a coalition of European nations, defeated the forces of radical authoritarian French aggression in favor of the rule of law, and really, democracy in the long run, although it wouldn't have been seen that way at the time. 

Not everything about this is perfect, if broken down into minute details, but basically it's correct.  One of the high points of British history, and really one of the high points of modern history.

Orvis: Fly fishing on a budget?

I got an Orvis advertisement email that was captioned "Fly fishing on a budget?"

Oh, bar har har har!

Why yes, I am.

I really have to laugh at this.  I love Orvis' stuff, although its price deters me from buying it as a rule, but I was fly fishing way before fly fishing was cool, and for the original reason. . . to catch fish. . .which I eat.

Yes, gasp!  I view fishing the way the Indians did, heck the way stoneage man did, and the way generations of fishermen did before the gentrification and wussyification of things caused the PC fishing to be "catch and release".  Oh, I'll release, but only if the fish is too small to eat or below the legal size limit.  Otherwise, I'm eating the fish. Which is, no matter what a person might wish to fool themselves about, the point of fishing.

Now, I have nothing against the nice gear that Orvis offers, but not only am I fishing for primitive reasons (which is actually the reason that anyone fishes, no matter what they tell themselves) but I'm so low rent, that I look my primitive part.  I don't even own waders.  Not because I'm opposed to waders, but rather because as a short man who was a short boy I never was able to own a pair in a size that looked like it would fit, and now I'm acclimated to simply wading in while wearing old Army tropical combat boots.

Indeed, when I'm found on the trout streams (which isn't nearly enough), I'm typically found wearing blue jeans, a work shirt, a M1911 campaign hat (that doubles as my hunting hat) and my tropical combat boots.  Last year we updgraded to new fly poles and retired the really old ones that we were still using, which had been my fathers (and one of which is still pretty nice), but we didn't go high dollar by any means. Still, the new poles are really nice.

It's funny, however, how we'll actually get some odd looks from the fisherman on the Platte who are clearly higher rent than we are.  Indeed now people charter fishing guides and even fly in to fish here.  I guess seeing the rude primitives on the Platte sort of unsettles them and they don't like it.  Nonetheless, I suspect we're closer to the original and remaining core of the sport, and perhaps they should, in looking at us, look back in time, and back into the reason that people do this.

Holscher's Hub: Jeeping the Mile

Holscher's Hub: Jeeping the Mile

I love my 1997 Jeep TJ.

I wasn't too sure I'd be able to say that when I bought it.  I've owned Jeeps twice before.  Both prior times I was enthusiastic about my Jeep but my ardor cooled over time. This time it hasn't.

To be fair to those prior Jeeps, they were far from new.  The first one was a 1958 M38A1, which I bought in 1978 when I was fifteen years old and it was 20 years old.  Now, my current Jeep is nearly that old, but vehicles built in the 1950s just didn't have the staying power that ones built now do.  My second Jeep was purchased from a dear friend who was moving back east, and was a 1946 CJ2A.  It was a great Jeep, but any vehicle built that long ago turns the owner into a full time mechanic and I just  didn't have the time or the money to keep it going back then.  And, also, it was really tiny.  The 97 TJ isn't huge, but it's big compared to the 1946 CJ2A.

But more than anything, everything good about Jeeps has been improved in the series that have come out in the 1990s.  Fanatic fans of the CJ5 aside, the YJ and the TJ  are much better, and no doubt the ones they make now are better yet.

This one reminds me a lot of the M151A1s I drove while in the National Guard, except it isn't nearly as hideously dangerous as those Jeeps were.  And again, this Jeep is simply better, even than the M151.  The 6 cylinder engine is great, and the wider wheel base is nice.

I can't believe the Army doesn't use these anymore.

Lex Anteinternet: Let the whining commence

When I published this a few days ago. . . 
Lex Anteinternet: Let the whining commence: Pope Francis is releasing an encyclical on the environment. People have been complaining about it for nearly a year.  The encyclical, w...
the new Papal Encyclical on the environment hadn't even been released yet, but was already drawing controversy.  Now that  Laudato Si is out, it really is.

One thing that should not be missed about the encyclical is that it's probably the single most widely noticed essay on the environment that has ever existed.  Other environmental works have drawn widespread attention, Silent Spring comes to mind, but this is the first pronouncement by a single human being that's drawn this sort of attention.  It isn't as if prior global figures haven't spoken on environmental topics.  Al Gore did, of course.  Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has as well.  In terms of religious figures, Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamo famously has as wells, and for years.

But of these figures, perhaps only Gore drew really widespread attention.  The Dutch Queen's statements drew notice in Europe, but only briefly, and I dare to suspect that most Americans associated the world "Queen" only with the name "Elizabeth".  The Metropolitan's comments did draw global notice, but really only the sort of audience that subscribes to First Things or The New Republic.  The Pope, however, proves to be impossible for anyone to ignore.  It's an answer, once again, to Stalin's old question, "how many divisions does the Pope have"?  Well, quite a lot, it would seem.

So, not surprisingly, the encyclical is drawing praise and condemnation.  Perhaps somewhat ironically, and again, perhaps very much in its favor, some of the praise its drawing comes form quarters that desperately ignore or are even hostile to the Pope's Catholic faith otherwise, and whom are probably self consciously squeamish about seeing the mantle of conservationism retrieved from a species of pagan environmentalism, but whom are praising it none the less. And some of those condemning it are squirming in their seats as they otherwise would normally be fully behind elements of Catholic social conservatism.

All this is a good thing, as it refocuses this topic where it ought to be.  In human terms, not in pagan terms, and neither from the right or the left.

Now, I haven't read the entire document by any means.  Its very long. But one quote here should stand out:
The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.
Agree with the Pope on climate change or not (and only a portion of the document is on that topic), this is true.

And the Pope then goes on to criticize both the pagan nature of radical environmentalism and the tunnel vision nature of those who focus only on technology and the generation of economic capital.

In this, the Pope, it seems to me, has taken up the cause of  Rerum Novarum and set it out in modern economic terms.  Probably the only world leader who can do so, he's answering the question posed by Wendell Berry in What Are People For? and is reminding us that life is for the living, and a decent living, not just for the generation of work.  It is essentially, it seems to me, a document drafted in the spirit of the Distributist really, which of course makes sense as Rerum Novarum gave rise to that movement.

All the furor aside, and whether or not a person agrees with the science in the document, this is something that should cause people to think again about what people are for, and what sort of world those people get to live in.  That shouldn't be provoking cries from industry (and it really isn't), nor should it be provoking rejoicing in liberal camps who would otherwise ignore nearly everything that Pope Francis stands for.  By coming in from the middle as he has, he's really come from where most people instinctively live, and hopefully taken these topics out of the hard core left and right partisan camps where they seem to be residing these days.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Lex Anteinternet: Expatriates: Looking at it a bit differently.

 Father and son farmers, farming and ranching are one of the few local industries that's still often a family business.

I ran this item on the long running perceived problem  of Wyoming's youth leaving the state last Wednesday:
Lex Anteinternet: Expatriates: Looking at it a bit differently.: Okay, I know that this is a history blog, and it's now been running so long as research for a book, that it's becoming historical i...
 And I've run items on family businesses here before.

 Proprietor of family butcher shop, 1940s.  This industry still exists, but the butcher shop has yielded at least partially to the chain grocery store.  For people who like little clues from movies, the film "Marty" involves the story of a simple butcher who has bought such a shop from an owner who has no family.  The intrusion of the super market is actually mentioned in the film.

The two, it occurs to me, don't seem to be obviously tied together, but I wonder if in fact they aren't a bit.  And if they are, it reflects a long term change in the economy that, at least with our current economic model, we can't do a whole lot about.  Something could be done, of course, but I don't think it will be.

 British soldiers in World War Two overlook a man making a fish net in Sicily, an art that was done as a family enterprise at the time.

The concept of a "family business" is an old one. Beyond that, the idea of father's following their sons into their father's profession is an old one.  Interestingly, I'd note, recently I have seen quite a few examples of daughters going into professions occupied by their mothers.

 Drug store in Southington Connecticut, 1940s.  This family had a shop on this corner for about 200 years at the time this photograph was taken. Do they still?

Now, it's really easy to make too much of this, as this has never been a hard and fast rule by any means. Still, if you go back into antiquity, you find that it was so strong that at one time entire families would end up being named for the occupation that they generally held.  My last name, for example, stems from a Westphalian name (it also occurs as a Dutch name) which identified men whose occupation was making wooden shoes.  At one time, and that time was extremely long ago, most of my ancestors who bore that name did that for a living.  Thankfully, they don't now, as I wouldn't care for that much.

Cartoon of dancing, pipe smoking, Dutchman wearing wooden shoes, which my ancestors at one time made, and which I'm tankful I neither make nor wear.

Be that as it may, even relatively recently quite a few people followed a father into a business.  Some of my near relatives, for example, had a "drug store" in which the sons went to work for their father.  My same ancestors mentioned above, when they immigrated from Paderborn Westphalia, opened a general store that became classic "drug store" and which is still open and still owned by a member of the family that I'm distantly related too (the last member of my direct line who would have worked there would have been my great grandfather). 

 Family that was, at the time this photograph was taken, entirely engaged in the fishing industry.  This is hard work, and chances are you would never see such young laborers in it today.  Fishing remains a family industry in the US, although it's greatly imperiled. 

As noted in the earlier post on this topic, my grandfather owned a packing plant locally, amongst other businesses, and there was briefly enough of a family connection that one of his brothers went into the same industry, which he worked at until he retired in the Mid West.  My grandfather died when he was only in his 40s, which through the family into a crisis, and that ended up in the loss of those businesses.  I've sometimes wondered if he'd lived if the family would have continued on in that occupation.  I suspect so, which would have made, maybe, for a much different daily existence for me.  If he'd lived at least until his 60s would my father have followed him into that business?  My father has noted how the margin in that industry is very thin and while he missed his father greatly, I think for the rest of his life, he never indicated to me that he lamented the decision to sell the plant. At the same time, however, he never said anything really negative about the industry either.  My grandmother insisted he get a university education, and he did, but I also know that he wasn't independently inclined to do that, in spite of fairly clearly having a genius level IQ.  I suspect that, had my grandfather lived, he would have entered that industry.  And if the plant still existed when I graduated from high school, I very strongly suspect I would have probably pursued a business degree and entered that business as well.

Otherwise, obtaining a business degree is something I never would have considered and still wouldn't now.  One of my friends has lamented to me how often this degree is overlooked by people who feel that they must have a professional degree, and as he's done very well as a businessman, and loves it, I can see why.  Still, that pursuit sounds really dull to me (although, quite frankly, a law degree has business elements and I didn't find that dull). 

My point is that at one time this path, entering into a family business, was a fairly easy and obvious one to take.  And it's still one that people take today. And, and this is significant, it's one that was available to quite a few who didn't take it either.  At least part of the reason that this path is so less common today is because so many of those local enterprises just don't exist as local entities anymore.  People transferred their loyalty from a local shop or artisan to a big box entity or chain, and so many of those jobs are just simply gone.  Not all, but many.

Not that this is a new topic here. We've touched it before. The point is, however, that this is a significant aspect of our economy that's changed quite a bit in recent decades. We still hear, quite frequently, that the majority of jobs in the US come via small business, and I suppose that's true.  Supposedly a majority of business start ups also fail (which is sort of counter intuitive.  At any rate, we've certainly cut into this class of business enormously in recent decades and, when we look at the story of returning sons and daughters, the family business, if there would have been one, certainly isn't what it once was.  Americans have long held, as part of that really vaguely defined, if defined at all, concept of the American Dream that every generation should be upwardly mobile (although there's some evidence that this isn't the dream of the younger Middle Class anymore).  To some extent, the demise of the family business forces that decision, and departing the state, in a way earlier generations didn't have to face.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

“Lindbergh (The Eagle of the USA) / “Lucky Lindy” – Jack Kaufman 1927

“Lindbergh (The Eagle of the USA) / “Lucky Lindy” – Jack Kaufman 1927

Holscher's Hub: One of the old ones, still being used.

Holscher's Hub: One of the old ones, still being used.:

Studebaker pickup truck from the early 1960s.  Actually being used by a fisherman, much as it was originally intended to be.

The FDA to ban trans fats


Trans fats are a largely artificial fat.

 Margarine advertisement. This advertisement refers to it as Oleomargarine, and my father always referred to it as Oleo.

This blog, as we all know, theoretically focuses on historical matters.  In that context, we've occasionally touched on food

There isn't a shortage of fat in the food of the Western world, and there never really has been, save for periods of wartime.  That's not actually true of the entire globe, as there were some fat starved regions of the globe even relatively recently.  I doubt that's the case now.

Artificial fats have come about relatively recently.  Margarine was the big early one, and was an alternative to butter.  For some reason, and I don't really know what it was, my parents had switched to margarine when I was a kid and I grew up with it.  I didn't switch to butter until I was married, as my wife liked butter and it really is much better.   Anyhow, I understand margarine gained ground in the Great Depression, probably due to cheaper cost, and World War Two, when there were fat shortages.  I dimly recall butter being really expensive during the 1970s as well, which might be the reason that we went to margarine.

Now, we're such aficionados of butter that we buy Irish butter, which his super.

Anyhow, good riddance on industrial fat.  And perhaps that should lead us to ponder the nature of industrialized food to a greater extent.

Lex Anteinternet: Concepts of Race

Well, I simply can't help myself.

Back in November, 2014, I wrote this entry on concepts of race.
Lex Anteinternet: Concepts of Race:    The way that things ought to be, and at that age typically are.  But beyond that, chances are these two young girls are actually of t...
In that I noted that our concepts of race are actually quite phony.  Over time, what's considered a race at one time has changed and the same cultural demographic is not considered a race later on.  The Irish and the Italians, for example, were once actually considered to be another "race", but certainly are not now.

Well, this has come into the news, although not in the more analytical fashion that we addressed it here, due to the story of  Rachel Doleza.  Doleza was working, apparently fairly successfully, for the NAACP and representing herself as black. She isn't.  She isn't genetically anyhow.

In an interview she recently gave, she essentially claims a sort of "blackness" by way of "self identification".

This is a very curious recent development.  People have always self identified as things that they actually are, and which particularly matter to them.  So, for example, people have identified themselves as "Irish Catholics' or "Norwegian Lutherans" as these identifiers reflect a cultural and religious identity that matters to the.  But you can't really identify yourself as something you flat out aren't.  That's delusional.

But it's become interestingly popular, which says something about how phony the culture has become in some ways.  And here Doleza may be doing us a huge favor.

Delusional self identification has become enormously popular of late.  There are authors who will use a self identifier like those noted above when their own personal lives show those connections to be very thin.  Beyond that, I'm fairly certain that the positions of those who have same gender attractions has become such a cause celibre, no matter what you think of it one way or another, that there are those who self identify in that category who actually don't have the attraction.  And now we see men self identifying as the opposite gender, and vice versa, to the extent that they actually seek surgery to cause that appearance.  In northern Europe, that required a person to have to undergo psychological evaluation before such a surgery is performed, but in the US it does not, in spite of the massive level of severe depression associated with the surgeries and the fairly demonstrable examples of a change in the person's views upon receiving the psychological analysis.

This is really an interesting phenomenon in that in an era when things "natural" are celebrated, this is deeply unnatural. People who are supposedly unhappy with their gender still have the DNA that they were born with, and that's their natural gender.

Race is trickier, as in actually the genetic differences between "races" don't even exist in some circumstances and are purely cosmetic where they do. Race is more of a cultural identifier than anything else, but you can't really run around claiming an cultural identifier that's phony.  Can't be done.

And it's pretty darned insulting too.  Here, ironically, things were once so bad for American blacks that light skinned American blacks would sometimes attempt to pass for "white".  Those days are thankfully over.  But it sure doesn't do current blacks any favors when people run around trying to falsely claim that identifier.

Let the whining commence

Pope Francis is releasing an encyclical on the environment.

People have been complaining about it for nearly a year.  The encyclical, which will go under the name Laudato Sii, will concern the environment.  In the US, those on the political right have been unhappy about this since they knew it was coming out.  US Catholics on the political right have oddly been particularly unhappy, which might be because people have a disturbing tendency to inform their religious views by their political ones, when it should go the other way around.   But there's been a lot of that in the US to some degree in recent decades, in all areas of religion.

Another reason might be that Pope Francis is undoubtedly more "liberal" than his two immediate predecessors, and this causes concern in some quarters.  He's frankly not my "favorite" Pope, but I don't think his encyclicals, so far, have been off the mark.  And by encyclicals, I should say encyclical, as there's been only one so far. That one was   Lumen Fidei.

Lumen Fidei was pretty darned controversial in and of itself, in some quarters, as it brought up some topics that economic conservatives, or rather free marketers, were made uncomfortable by.  It didn't espouse free market economics, but then no Pope ever has, so that makes the controversy so very interesting.  People getting upset should have recalled that Pope Leo XIII made both socialist and free marketers upset when he issued Rerum Novarum, which criticized free market economics and socialism both.  Rerum Novarum was so hugely influential at the time that it gave rise to Distributism, the economic "third way" that's really more "free market" capitalist than the model we actually use.  It'd be tempting to look at the economic comments in Lumen Fidei as reviving those arguments, but people have not tended to do so.

What this does point out, however, is that Papal Encyclicals, which are simply writings of the Pope, and which do not bind anyone to agree with them in any fashion (i.e., Catholics and others are free to disagree fully with them), have tended to be pretty darned on the mark on the topics they address.  Rerum Novarum sought to explore, in part, economic justice in terms of the individual and the family.  Over a century later some similar themes still needed exploration, which shows how relevant Pope Leo XIII had been in the 1890s when he issued it.  

Right or not, it's well to remember that Popes haven't shied away from controversial topics and they've often made a lot of people mad with encyclicals.  Pope Paul VI created such a controversy when he issued Humanae Vitae in 1968.  This was such the case that it caused somewhat of a revolt in some Catholic circles and the conduct warned against has been largely ignored.  None the less, it's also often noted that the future warned against proved to be remarkably accurate.

In terms of ignored, we also have Pope Pius XI's  Mit Brennender Sorge (released in German, not Latin), released in March 1937 and aimed injusticies within Nazi Germany.  Things only got worse, of course, but as an international declaration, it's pretty darned early.  Most of the world didn't really get around to being fully appalled by Nazi conduct until Allied troops began to liberate the camps and the full nature of what occured became painfully evident.

Okay, so what's the point. Well, perhaps people need to consider what's written and ponder it, rather than resort to a political position first.  That doesn't mean that they'll agree, but sometimes pondering is in order.