A Modest Proposal for Compromise on “Confederate” Military Bases

In July 1864, Confederate forces led by General Jubal Early attacked Fort Stevens and Fort DeRussy on the outskirts of Washington, DC. Union forces drove them away after two days of skirmishes, but the battle threw a scare into the capital city and constituted a high point in the Confederacy’s Shenandoah Valley campaigns.

More than a century and a half later, the Confederates are back in Washington, meeting stiff resistance on Capitol Hill but garnering support from the White House.

This June, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sought the removal of portraits and statues honoring Confederate figures from the Capitol and its grounds.

Meanwhile,  the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the annual National Defense [sic] Authorization Act, offered by US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The amendment would give the Pentagon three years to re-name military bases named after Confederate figures.

US president Donald Trump says he’ll veto the NDAA if it comes to him with that amendment intact.

Will he? Almost certainly not.

The NDAA is the US government’s largest annual corporate welfare and middle/lower class workfare bill. This year’s version isn’t even at full pre-passage bloat yet and it already tops $740 billion in sweetheart payouts for “defense” contractors, plus salaries and benefits for more than three million jobs in, or related to, the military.

If Social Security is a political “third rail” (touch it and you die), the NDAA is the train that runs down the tracks on either side of that rail (get in its way and you’ll be run over and smooshed).

So no, Trump’s not serious about a veto. He’s just virtue signaling to those members of his southern and rural base who were weaned on pro-Confederate “Lost Cause” mythology (basically every southerner and most midwesterners who came of age before the 1990s). And yes, Pelosi and Warren are virtue signaling to their side of Culture War, 2020 Election Edition, too.

Both sides will drag this fake, silly fight out until after Election Day because it’s the fight itself, not the outcome, that brings in the campaign contributions and the votes. Style over substance, as usual.

But just for laughs, let’s think about what a compromise could look like if the two sides actually worked for the taxpayers instead of for the military industrial complex. How about this:

Don’t rename those “Confederate” bases. Instead, shut them down. Completely. Move or destroy the weapons, move or discharge the troops, and sell the real estate (with contract clauses forbidding use of the bases’ names or namesakes in subsequent uses).

For the sake of balance, shut down an equal number of bases named after Union military figures, on the same terms.

Then cut that NDAA by $100 billion or so, and call it a good start.

No, that’s not going to happen, at least while we keep sending Republicans and Democrats to Washington. They’ll occasionally slap new labels on their wicked and murderous behaviors, and sometimes assign blame to the old labels for those behaviors, but they won’t willingly change.

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Aphorisms in Honor of Liberty, Part Two (26m) – Episode 320

Episode 320 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following aphorisms written by Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski: “A bad economist believes that pay can be legislated. A good economist believes that legislation can be paid for.”; “A barbarian believes in the benevolence of power. A civilized person believes in the power of benevolence.”; “A fool believes that people are free when they are all equal. A person of reason believes that people are equal when they are all free.”; “Achieving peace of mind is the dual task of becoming aware of the extent of stupidity in the world and resolving not to contribute to it by refusing to dwell on it.”; “A fool believes that a ban can eliminate debauchery. A person of reason knows that it can increase its attraction.”; “A fool believes that uncertainty infects human life with the misery of fear. A person of reason knows that it imbues human life with the benefit of choice.”

Listen to Episode 320 (26m, mp3, 64kbps)

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Politics Reason Behind a Lot of Anger

Why is there so much anger in the world?

People fight over statues; over differing opinions on gender, race, and policing. Over masks and whether to end the shutdown or keep society imprisoned until everyone is perfectly safe — which can never be.

Activists are even protesting to abolish the Fourth of July … without mentioning Independence Day. I guess if they are successful, future calendars will skip from the third to the fifth … unless the activists are confused.

What causes anger over such issues? Politics — where every win comes at someone’s expense.

Politics forces everyone along the same path. Legislation dictates things only our ethics and morals should determine. To understand the anger, notice how politics makes a difference of opinion into a life and death struggle. An unnecessary one.

It’s odd that something imagined to be a hallmark of civilized society is instead the root of most antisocial behavior. Trying to form a society around politics is like trying to form a pearl around a pellet of nuclear waste.

If you want to play politics, go ahead, but any results should only apply to you. You shouldn’t expect others to be bound by your results. They shouldn’t be expected to fund your political institutions or agencies. If you want it, you fund it. I have better uses for my money.

Just as there is no “one-size-fits-all” church, you shouldn’t be able to force everyone to participate in the same political system based on location. Or any political system at all. If you force everyone to play your game by your rules, or else, your game is toxic. Society would be better off without it.

Just imagine if no one were forced to fund a park or a statue. If your group builds a park, good for you. If you want to put a statue in the park to honor Willie Nelson, people can choose to visit your park or not. As long as they aren’t forced to subsidize it, they aren’t harmed.

If, however, you force people to chip in for the park and pay for statues and monuments to things they dislike, it’s no wonder people get angry. I do, too.

The way these things are currently done causes strife. It’s long past time to give it up and try something better. Something voluntary, based on unanimous consent. If you want to chip in, go ahead. If you’d rather not, go your own way. It’s the only civilized way to organize a society.

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Aphorisms in Honor of Liberty, Part One (20m) – Episode 309

Episode 309 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following aphorisms written by Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski: “A bad economist believes that he knows what to do to make the world prosperous. A good economist believes that he knows what to do to let the world make itself prosperous.”; “A barbarian believes in coercion as a means to establish cooperation. A civilized person believes in cooperation as a means to eliminate coercion.”; “A civilized person believes that what matters is not whether wealth is equally distributed, but whether it is justly acquired. A barbarian believes that the latter depends on the former.”; “Achieving peace of mind is the dual process of maximizing self-awareness and minimizing self-consciousness.”; “A commercial culture is a tautology. A political culture is an oxymoron.”; and “A civilized person uses reason to evaluate his instincts. A barbarian uses reason to justify his instincts.” (Please excuse the audio anomalies that occur a few times throughout.)

Listen to Episode 309 (20m, mp3, 64kbps)

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Information as Artillery

You are being bombarded.

The blasts just keep coming, day and night. It’s so bad there’s a perpetual ringing in your ears, you can’t see straight, you can’t focus, and the people and reality right in front of you seems far off, disconnected, a blur. The constant barrage of artillery overhead has your whole being humming, vibrating unnaturally.

You can’t read, or write, or talk calmly, or think deeply, or experience silence. Even in gaps between the salvos, you’re too shell-shocked to be of much use. Every sensation sets you off.

That is the environment in which we live.

The trenches are anything connected to the internet or television or news of any kind. Information is the artillery.

The good news is, you can leave.

You can get the hell out of the foxholes and away from the mud and blood and constant head-splitting noise. When you exit this battle, there’s no negative consequence, no dishonor, no desertion, because the battle is not real. It’s bullshit. There are no sides, no ground to be taken or lost. The only objective in this battle is to occupy you with it, to keep you from being useful, fulfilled, free, and productive.

You can’t become useful, fulfilled, free, and productive sitting in someone else’s trenches while information artillery rains down, paralyzing you. You can only lose if you play.

The only way to win is to quit. To enter the fray is to be consumed and lose your sense of sanity and self. To exit is to regain your humanity and reclaim your capacity for creative thought.

Don’t let yourself become a casualty. Leave now, before the shell-shock gets worse. Exit the information barrage. Be alone with your thoughts. Be free.

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POTUS Thirteen Through Eighteen

POTUS Thirteen Through Eighteen

I’ll say again, the Presidents of the United States are a motley crew.  So far the scorecard reads 45 attempts, 45 shortfallen.  I am not saying there were no honorable persons in the group (“honorable” itself is a very unwieldy word).  But I have practically no regard for the intellects of any of the half-dozen listed below.  With the exceptions of the monstrous pair, Lincoln and Grant, the other 4 are bound for the abyss of the forgotten.  But, to me, there is no such thing as a great President.  To have been a POTUS places a black mark on that career.  Few (ie none) have risen above.

On some occasions, some wisdom has been dispensed independently of the downward slide to the oval office.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the third six (13-18):

  • Millard Fillmore

It is not strange… to mistake change for progress.

  • Franklin Pierce

The dangers of a concentration of all power in the general government of a confederacy so vast as ours are too obvious to be disregarded.

  • James Buchanan

Has the Constitution delegated to Congress the power to coerce a State into submission which is attempting to withdraw or has actually withdrawn from the Confederacy?

  • Abraham Lincoln

No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.

  • Andrew Johnson

There are no good laws but such as repeal other laws.

  • Ulysses S. Grant

 … the most confident critics are generally those who know the least about the matter criticised.

But every person who has served in furtherance of this benighted office, in my view, has a great atrocity to their name.  Again, the list:

— Kilgore Forelle

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