31 March 2010

A Great Weekend

This past weekend was quite memorable for a number of reasons. Over the next few days, I'll be posting some comments about Liberty University's annual Civil War seminar which I attended this past weekend. I'll also ask for some help about a most unusual artifact that was recently donated to the Chaplains Museum. The keynote for the conference was delivered at the Friday night banquet by James I. Robertson, Jr. Since the theme for the seminar was "Jine the Cavalry", Bud's comments centered around that topic. His talk was, as always, quite interesting and he also spent some time discussing the forgotten players in the WBTS - the horses. Professor Robertson also took a swipe at political correctness stating (paraphrasing) that, "Despite what the PC crowd claims, we still need heroes." I've posted before on that point here.

Also on Friday night, I had the privilege to finally meet fellow CW blogger and author, Eric Wittenberg. Eric was there with his wife and also introduced me to Greg Biggs. Both Eric and Greg spoke at the seminar on Saturday. Unfortunately, I was unable to hear Greg's presentation as Eric's talk on George Custer was at the same time. Eric's presentation was as entertaining as it was informative and I'd recommend that if you ever have an opportunity to hear him speak, that you avail yourself to it. You won't be disappointed.

More tomorrow.

28 March 2010

Monolithic Views In Academia

"Both teachers and learners go to sleep at their post as soon as there is no enemy in the field." ~ John Stuart Mill

A political monoculture sooner or later always degenerates into *extremism and incoherence, because it needs an opposition to keep it healthy. Only your intellectual enemies have the motivation to pick off your weaker arguments and keep you intellectually sharp. . . . A lack of intellectual diversity hurts both left and right. [Emphasis mine.]
Read the rest of Professor John Ellis's recent statement before the California legislature regarding higher ed's lack of intellectual diversity here

*Which is exactly where we are today.

I'll be posting some comments and photos about this past weekend's Civil War seminar in Lynchburg within a few days.

26 March 2010

To Lynchburg

No more posts likely until early next week as I'm off to Lynchburg to attend the 14th annual Civil War Seminar at Liberty University.

After the CW event closes tomorrow afternoon, I plan to head over to the "Beast Feast" where my son-in-law's father will be one of the speakers:

Hints on being successful in the North Maine Woods in your quest for trophy Moose and the elusive Black Bear

Steve Nissley and the Nissley's family own and operate the Katahdin Valley Outfitters Sport camp in the Sherman/Patten area of Maine. The Nissley family is synonymous with Maine Black bear and trophy Bull Moose. This is a two part seminar by a Registered Maine Guide on how to locate, call and have a trophy Bull Moose close enough for an easy bow shot. You will also be given tips on Black Bear hunting from one of Maine's most successful Black Bear Hunters.

I'll be attending this 2nd event with 2 of my son-in-laws and a grandson. This should be a great weekend! I should have loads of photos and news to share about both events next week. I can't wait to try the alligator. ;o)

**Image is a painting by Mort Kunstler titled "Going Home" and depicts the Lynchburg leg of Stonewall Jackson's funeral cortege.

25 March 2010

Victor Davis Hanson On Public Discourse

After someone recently attempted to submit a comment to my blog which included crude bathroom-type humor insults and curse words, I came across the following commentary by preeminent military historian Victor Davis Hanson on how "progressives" have redefined what is now considered acceptable in public discourse:

Like it or not, between 2001 and 2008, the “progressive” community redefined what is acceptable and not acceptable in political and public discourse about their elected officials. Slurs like “Nazi” and “fascist” and “I hate” were no longer the old street-theater derangement of the 1960s, but were elevated to high-society novels, films, political journalism, and vein-bulging outbursts of our elites

Though not a perfect analogy to what happened to me, Hanson's comments are rather instructive. You can read more of Hanson's commentary here. Also, for anyone interested, Chris Wehner has posted an excellent interview with Professor Hanson at Blog4History.

“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” -Clarence Thomas

Perseverance Creates Opportunities

When we were homeschooling our youngest daughter, we became involved in 4H. 4H is a wonderful organization and we have many fond memories from our involvement with the children and our local 4H officials and volunteers. They are truly a community oriented organization. My wife and I formed a 4H club to involve homeschooled children and other kids from our area. We involved the children in numerous activities - raising livestock and competing in fairs and shows, field trips to Richmond to lobby legislators, as well as trips to museums and other historical sites in Virginia. One of the events we sponsored was a spelling bee, giving our group of homeschooled kids an opportunity to participate in the National Spelling Bee. But we were met with opposition. Some local officials who were employees of the public school system were opposed to allowing homeschoolers enter their local bee. When my wife started exploring how to go about this and get our group of kids involved, she was told, quite bluntly, "no."

"Why?" my wife asked. 

"Those are just our rules" was the response.

Wrong answer.

These folks had never tangled with my wife. If I've not learned anything else after 30 years of marriage, it's this: if my wife is convinced she's right about something, you may as well yield. You're gonna lose in opposing her. Her mixed Scots-Irish and Monacan Indian blood combined to create quite a determined and fiery constitution. Refusing to accept a no, she was determined that the children in our group were going to have the opportunity to participate. After all, their parents were lawful taxpayers - why should these children be discriminated against? Needless to say, my wife's perseverance paid off and my daughter, along with another child, were both able to advance one step toward the National Bee, though neither made it to nationals. 

Now comes the recent news that a homeschooled child from Waynesboro, Virgnia (where we were initially told "no") has won our local spelling bee. Congratulations to this young lady and kudos to another lady, though unrecognized and forgotten by some, for standing up to those government officials back in the '90's. That young lady who recently won was all smiles when she correctly spelled "finesse." When my wife heard the news, she smiled too.

Battle of Waynesboro Commemoration

The Waynesboro Heritage Foundation will sponsor a commemoration of the Battle of Waynesboro on April 10 & 11. I've written about this battle before. Two of my great-great grandfathers - both who fought in the 51st VA Infantry, were at this battle. One of those men, Morris Coffey, was wounded there; according to my family's oral history. The other grandfather, John McGann, was fighting over land that his own son, Charles (or "Mr. Charlie" as he was better known), would one day come to own. From him it passed to my grandmother, then to my father, then to my brother and me. 

I grew up roaming the woods and streams that make up that area which has come to be known as the "Tree Streets." I was actually born in the old Waynesboro Community Hospital which was located on part of the battlefield. So this area has a very special meaning to me - in a number of ways.

A few years ago, I was asked by the Waynesboro Heritage Foundation to write a booklet about this battle. I did so and they offer it free at their museum. The museum also has on display (on loan from me) an old bank calendar from 1916 which commemorates Confederate history and heritage. My father found the calendar in the attic of his mother's house after she passed away. It was in excellent condition.

Click here for details about the April event.

24 March 2010

Good News . . .

. . . for those who are opposed to the concept of an affirmative perspective regarding American Exceptionalism: "The passage of the health care law shows that the US empire is declining because it illustrates the fact that people expect the state to take care of them, David Murrin, the co-founder of Emergent Asset Management hedge fund manager, told CNBC . . . In their expansionary phase, [see our recent poll results] empires force people to go out, seek risks and fend for themselves, Murrin said, reminding of the dismantling of the British empire after the war, when the National Health Service, which ensures universal health coverage in Britain, was created."

Murrin is the author of Breaking the Code of History

His comments about Christianity are quite interesting, as are his observations regarding risk-taking; something those who have never produced anything or run a business (most of the current political and ruling class) don't understand. I believe we now have a very clear picture - and getting clearer by the day - of why so many academics publicly supported Barack Obama.

I Learn From History - Cursing Me Doesn't Change The Facts

I just received a cussing - or "cussin'" as we say here in Virginia - from a public school teacher (which I may post as some point in the future) simply because I don't accept the CBO as a credible source for projecting the costs of government programs. This person actually called me a name I'd not been called since junior high school. I must say I was somewhat shocked by the lack of civility and personal viciousness contained in the comment.

Well, anyway, back to adult conversation. Here are just a few reasons WHY I don't accept the CBO's projections:

Learning From History . . .
  • In 1987, Congress estimated that Medicaid’s disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments—which states use to provide relief to hospitals that serve especially large numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients—would cost less than $1 billion in 1992. The actual cost that year was $17 billion. Among other things, federal lawmakers had failed to detect loopholes in the legislation that enabled states to draw significantly more money from the federal treasury than they would otherwise have been entitled to claim under the program’s traditional 50-50 funding scheme.
  • Medicare home care benefit. When Congress debated changes to Medicare’s home care benefit in 1988, the projected 1993 cost of the benefit was $4 billion. The actual 1993 cost was more than twice that amount, $10 billion.
  • If any private accounting firm ever used such tactics as are included in the CBO’s analysis, they would be jailed. As reported at the WAPO, Democrats got the score they needed. Of course they did, they fudged the numbers. You can manipulate any number to look the way you want by subtracting reality.  Forget all of the nuances, the deals, the lies and the spin. 
And this from Reuters:

"Let’s face it: Uncle Sam has a poor track record of forecasting how much new programs will cost. [Ya think?] Medicare’s progenitors, for example, stated in 1967 that the entitlement would cost $12 billion by 1990. Actual Medicare spending in 1990 amounted to $110 billion — nearly 10 times the initial estimate. Oops. CBO’s deficit-reduction [for the legislation just passed] estimates are further divorced from reality because they don’t include as much as $371 billion in new spending to fix reimbursement rates for doctors who treat Medicare patients. Imagine that — health reform legislation that doesn’t include payments to doctors. Only in Washington, DC. Absent congressional action, Medicare reimbursement rates will fall 21 percent next year. Congress has no intention of letting that happen. But the Democrats have decided that they don’t have to include this so-called “doctor fix” in their healthcare reform package — even though it’s critical to preserving Medicare. No wonder the CBO was able to conclude that the Democrats’ health reform package would reduce the deficit by $130 billion. The bean-counters simply ignored the $371 billion in spending needed to fix Medicare reimbursement rates." (Source.)

Trusting the CBO, or any other agency of the Federal government for that matter, to accurately project it's own costs on any program is like asking Bernie Madoff to oversee your children's trust fund. The notion is laughable on its face, assuming you have the ability to actually learn something from history. Apparently, some don't.

23 March 2010

Just A Word About The Healthcare Takeover Bill

We discuss history here so . . . since the statists are calling this bill "historic" our parliamentarian here at the OVB has ruled the topic germane. Therefore, we shall proceed without further debate.  Doctor Elaina George exposes just some of the lies in this historic "reform" bill . . .

1.  You won’t be able to be kicked off of your insurance when you really need it
  • Turns out that the insurance companies CAN kick you off if they pay a fine. It is not hard to imagine that an insurance company will figure out pretty quickly that it would be cheaper to pay the fine than to pay for coverage of a long term chronic illness.
Read more examples of how you've been lied to here. It's quite historic.

**Update - It has now come to light that both the President and his family, as well as members of Congress and their staff, are exempted from the "healthcare" bill. Elitism on display.

Is Ann Coulter A Member Of The NEA?

Maybe not, but perhaps she's been reading the NEA endorsed book by Saul Alinsky.

"Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules." ~ Saul Alinsky

Ann Coulter took aim at a University of Ottawa administrator Monday night, saying an e-mail from the school warning her to use “restraint, respect and consideration” when addressing Ontario students during a speaking tour this week made her a victim of a “hate crime.” Speaking to students and academics at the University of Western Ontario Monday, Coulter said the e-mail sent to her Friday by Francois Houle, vice-president academic and provost of the University of Ottawa, targeted her as a member of an identifiable group and as such, she will be filing a complaint with the Human Rights Commission alleging hate speech.
Story here.

More On Textbooks

22 March 2010

A Little Intellectual Elite & Our Downward Course

How timeless.

A Brilliant Virginian

James Madison once wrote: "Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." I trust no one reading this blog needs convincing of that observation; perhaps one of the greatest understatements ever uttered.

Madison was a brilliant enough thinker to understand that the separation of powers relied on more than each branch having the "necessary constitutional means" to resist the others. The separation of powers provided each branch with the "personal motives" to "resist the encroachments of others." 
Read more of this interesting piece here at the American Thinker

20 March 2010

As I've Been Saying . . .

"This thinking is reflected in the cult of the expert, perhaps best exemplified by Woodrow Wilson's exaltation of abstract academic theories over common sense and experience. Wilson often bemoaned what he considered the less-than-salutary restrictions placed on the implementation of the ideas of "experts." Democracy was so inconvenient. Why should the elite have to bother explaining themselves to those hick yokels, who are neither intelligent nor enlightened enough to understand the wisdom of their betters?" (Emphasis mine).

"Science is too important to be left to 'experts.' We are called upon to be critical thinkers, independent minds, and informed debaters, not merely with respect to AGW, but more generally." (And so is history as well as the the choice of textbooks).


19 March 2010

"Civil War?"

I've never had a problem with the term "Civil War." Though I concede it's not technically accurate when describing the conflict in the United States that occurred from 1861-1865. I use the terms, "War Between the States" (more common in the South) and "Civil War" (more widely accepted in the general population) interchangeably and often within the same paragraph. Of course, WBTS is not accurate either. Not all the states were at war with each other. New York was not fighting Maine and Virginia was not at war with Tennessee. But General Lee referred to the conflict as the "Civil War", so it's ok with me. (So did Jeff Davis & Nathan Bedford Forrest.)

However, Merriam-Webster defines Civil War as: "a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country." Since the Southern states had seceded and proclaimed themselves no longer part of the Union, their inhabitants were no longer "citizens of the same country." The South was attempting to leave the Union peacefully and form a new Nation, thus the term "Civil War" is not accurate.

I believe that the most accurate term (though I rarely us it), and one put forth most notably by *Douglas Southall Freeman, is the term "War for Southern Independence." Most who make an issue of the numerous terms are doing so for various reasons:
  1. They honestly believe their preferred term is the more accurate one.
  2. There are sectional reasons for their preference.
  3. There are political motivations.
And all sides of the debate are included within the 3 groups noted above.

*I realize the term pre-dated Freeman.

18 March 2010

An Honest Thief

“ In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

17 March 2010

Let's Look At The Originial Documents

For all those academics who have been critics of the Texas textbook controversy, I've seen ne'er a one refer to the source documents of those historians and social studies professors who reviewed current curriculum and made recommendations (though most of the critics seem to be unaware of that fact) to the board members (elected representatives I might add) who ultimately make the decisions regarding the textbooks.

For those of you who are interested in the facts, you can go to the links below and read the comments made by the "experts." (Interesting that many of the "academics" voicing criticisms never bothered to go to the source. Rather revealing in a number of ways, isn't it?)

Social Studies Expert Reviewers:

David Barton, President, WallBuilders
Review of Current Social Studies TEKS

Jesus Francisco de la Teja, Professor and Chair, Department of History, Texas State University
Review of Current Social Studies TEKS

Daniel L. Dreisbach, Professor, American University
Review of Current Social Studies TEKS

Lybeth Hodges, Professor, History, Texas Woman's University
Review of Current Social Studies TEKS

Jim Kracht, Associate Dean and Professor, College of Education and Human Development, Texas A&M University
Review of Current Social Studies TEKS

Peter Marshall, President, Peter Marshall Ministries
Review of Current Social Studies TEKS

Saint Patrick The Slave

16 March 2010

Texas School Board Member Comments

What's the problem with American Exceptionalism? Does anyone object to the more accurate and more pro-American term "free-enterprise" being used instead of "capitalism" (coined by Karl Marx)? Would anyone like to voice concerns over a textbook for American children being "pro-American?" Does anyone want to object to promoting a "patriotic position" to school children? If these things are issues, why do children (most) recite the pledge of allegiance? I'm willing to listen and consider the reasoning behind such positions. I've been wrong before, perhaps I'm missing something. The floor is yours. 

They Prefer The Alinsky Textbook

With all the phony academic hand-wringing and whining over the Texas textbook debate, you think you would have heard one, just one (Come on, can I hear just ONE!?), academic express concern about the most powerful teacher's union in the United States, the NEA, embracing and recommending this book for its "non-partisan" and "apolitical" teachers and members:

Here are a few choice quotes from Alinsky's NEA endorsed book:

"Society has good reason to fear the Radical. Every shaking advance of mankind toward equality and justice has come from the Radical. He hits, he hurts, he is dangerous. Conservative interests know that while Liberals are most adept at breaking their own necks with their tongues, Radicals are most adept at breaking the necks of Conservatives." (Sounds like Alinsky is advocating violence. Does the NEA endorse that type of inflammatory language? Evidently so.)

"He will fight conservatives whether they are business or labor leaders."

"The Radical may resort to the sword but when he does he is not filled with hatred against those individuals whom he attacks." (No, of course not. Words and phrases like "fear, hits, hurts, dangerous, breaking the necks, fight, target, personalize, and sword" are always associated with love and moderation.)

"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."

I suppose the "concern" over politicizing of the classroom is only vocalized when it's perceived the bias is coming from the right. Aren't you just overwhelmed with Alinsky's non-partisan, apolitical approach? I wonder how many of those complaining about the bias of the Texas board are NEA members? I wonder how many of them have expressed the same public outrage over the NEA's endorsement of Alinsky and his tactics?


What is also interesting about the Texas textbook controversey is the attitude expressed by some of the critics, acting as if the children in the classroom are "theirs." As I noted in a previous post, the people making the decisions regarding these textbooks are duly elected representatives of the people - elected by responsible citizens, parents, and grandparents.

Moreover, the suggestion that the decision regarding what should be included, excluded, and emphasized should be delegated solely to "experts" and academics in education is problematic due to the fact that most academics lean left. And that assertion comes from the Washington Post, not really known for conservative conspiracy theories:

College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.
See story here.

Bill Buckley once said, "I'd rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard."

When it comes to choosing content for textbooks, I'd rather have individuals elected by the parents and grandparents of those being taught making those decisions than I would the faculty of Harvard. Parents and grandparents have much more of a vested interest in the outcome. Those are who the children belong to after all, right?

14 March 2010

Divine Right Of Kings Making A Comeback?

**Update: Vindication? "An overwhelming majority of Americans (81%) continue to believe that people learn more practical skills through life experiences and work after college rather than in college." Details here. Great timing, no?

James Lewis (a pen name, I believe) of American Thinker raises some fascinating and enlightening points regarding academia, elitists, and modern politics in his piece today.  He introduces his piece this way:

"Are Liberals, Atheists More Evolved than Conservatives?' National Geographic asks this profound question in a first screen headline on its website. By "evolved," they say they mean "biologically evolved," although, curiously, the original researcher used the wrong kind of IQ measure for the biological component of intelligence."

After reading Lewis's piece, I was reminded of a recent comment by a historian in response to a post at Civil Warriors:

how does ones scholarship and study shape their political views. Why is it that people who study history professionally tend to be more liberal politically? Is there something about being informed that makes one liberal? (Does “truth” have a liberal bias?)

**And of course, there is the question of what does “liberal” mean?

It is the aforementioned supposition that the more someone knows about history the more likely they are to be liberal and the less they know, the more likely they are to be conservative.
After reading the comment at Civil Warriors, the first thought that came to my mind was the fact that the supposition referred to (I'm not suggesting the writer embraces the supposition - just using the comment to illustrate a point) above is a fallacy, in that this is a recent phenomenon in the study of history and in academia generally. It also begs the question: Knows what about history?

Lewis makes the same observation in his piece:

But what about IQ differences between liberals and conservatives? It's an odd question, in a way, since almost all educated people before the 20th century in Western countries were conservatives. Today's conservatives revere such intelligent people as Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Edmund Burke, Thomas Jefferson, Confucius, Abraham Lincoln, Adam Smith, Nobelist Milton Friedman, William Buckley, and thousands of others. Patrick O'Brian's novels of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic wars are filled with supremely intelligent people, with nary a Leftist among them. Nor any atheists, for that matter. So National Geographic's vast, unfathomable ignorance is showing, as it does so often these days. 
Lewis also echoes a point I've often raised here; to wit: elitism and it's Siamese twin, arrogance, are blinding vices:

The National Geographic headline is therefore characteristically absurd, but it's also typical of the cultural Left today -- and of its hopeless cravings to validate itself as being smarter, better-educated, and of course, more compassionate than those conservative throwbacks to a brute past. 

But, as I've also noted numerous times, Lewis points out that reality and experience trump theory and arrogance:

And somehow liberals never get to the most obvious question, which is: Why has the Left ended up killing 100 million people in the 20th century, according to French Marxist historian Courtois and his team? That's the real question the Left must always be made to answer: Why does its blind "idealism" and its unquenchable power-craving lead to such disastrous results, over and over again? Why does the British medical system have patients parked on gurneys in dirty hallways? Why are their waiting times for life-saving operations so much longer than ours? Why does Prime Minister Gordon Brown advocate using your organs after you die without your permission?
This observation echoes what Dr. Thomas Sowell has pointed out in his recent book, Intellectuals and Society:

"Scarcely a mass-murdering dictator of the twentieth century was without his intellectual supporters, not simply in his own country, but also in foreign democracies . . . Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Hitler all had their admirers, defenders and apologists among the intelligentsia in Western democratic nations, despite the fact that these dictators each ended up killing people of their own country on a scale unprecedented even by despotic regimes that preceded them."~ Dr. Thomas Sowell 
(See: This post )

Thomas Lifton, a former academic at both Harvard and Columbia University and now editor and publisher at American Thinker has this line in his bio: "A Democrat by birth, he became more conservative in adulthood as reality taught him that dreams of perfecting human society always runs smack into human nature." (Emphasis mine).

Reality. Not classroom theories put forth by those in ivory towers who are, for the most part, insulated from much of the reality of the marketplace and how "theories" actually play out in the real world. Experience, though an unforgiving tutor, is much better at teaching us truth than one who lectures and simply teaches what they've been taught. As someone once said, "Experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is high."

** This is an excellent question, and one to which I'm sure the poster knows the answer. "Liberal", in the classical sense, can be traced to the works of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Adam Smith - all writings which greatly influenced our Founding Fathers. These men were "liberal" in the sense they argued for the liberty and freedom which come from inalienable (God-given) rights. They believed legitimate power came only when granted to the state by the "consent of the governed." Regarding economics, classical liberals in the 18th and 19th century called for the end of state meddling in the economy. Adam Smith opined that free markets were far more efficient (and just) at promoting prosperity and distributing goods and services than was an economy controlled by the government.

This concept of self-government was in contrast to the established "divine right" of kings; something which many statists and elitists seem to now embrace - at least in the abstract - as long as it is they who are the "kings." They are, unwittingly, "conservatives" as opposed to true classical liberalism in that they think only they have the right to rule the rest of us due, not to their blood lines as kings, but to their ostensibly superior intelligence. Now comes the National Geographic piece ridiculously suggesting that, perhaps, it is their "superior blood-line" ("biological component") that makes them "more intelligent" and "more evolved" and, thus, superior. They are getting closer to the divine right of kings with every passing day. The political label of "liberal" today (or the one liberals are trying to repackage themselves with, "progressive"), is simply a return to a very "unliberal" view of governance and ordering of society: a class of supposedly superior members of society who make freedom-stifling rules and regulations for those who they look upon not much differently than how kings once viewed their subjects. Kings once believed it was God who had annointed them with their power. Since science and "intelligence" is the god of many in government and academia, perhaps they, too, believe their god has annointed and chosen them to rule the rest of us.

Experience and reality would teach us otherwise.

(Image is of King Charles I of England)

13 March 2010

Big Education Cooks The Books

Hat tip to BigGovernment.com.

Jefferson, Madison, & States' Rights

"The scholars of the rising leftist Establishment who took over American history writing beginning in the 1930s invented a self-flattering fable to render the Kentucky and Virginia documents themselves null and void. Jefferson and Madison, they said, really did not care about States’ rights . . . This established interpretation is a lie and requires a good deal of either ignorance, self-deception, or deliberate falsehood to peddle." ~ Professor Clyde Wilson (Emphasis mine).

Professor Wilson is editor of The Papers of John C. Calhoun, published by the University of South Carolina Press. 

More here.

And Yet More On American Exceptionalism . . .

And why leftist elites are opposed to it . . .

"The problem that liberal elites today have with American exceptionalism is simple to sum up. Before the mid-1960s, most liberals believed in it. But then 1968 happened, and the New Left took over the academy and the intellectual leadership of the Democratic Party. The New Left was not rebelling against American conservatism, which in the mid-1960s was still nascent. It was rebelling against American liberalism, and – among much else – against its belief in the basic goodness and exceptionalness of America. American conservatism is, really, a rebellion against that rebellion, fortified by the neo-conservatives who split away from American liberalism when they realized it was being taken over by the radicals."

More here. The title to the piece is quite interesting.

12 March 2010

The Debate Over American Exceptionalism

Rich Lowry recently wrote a worthwhile piece at National Review on the subject of American Exceptionalism titled: An Exceptional Debate. Here's a sample of what he's written:

"What do we, as American conservatives, want to conserve? The answer is simple: the pillars of American exceptionalism. Our country has always been exceptional. It is freer, more individualistic, more democratic, and more open and dynamic than any other nation on earth. These qualities are the bequest of our Founding and of our cultural heritage. They have always marked America as special, with a unique role and mission in the world: as a model of ordered liberty and self-government and as an exemplar of freedom and a vindicator of it, through persuasion when possible and force of arms when absolutely necessary . . . If our politics seems heated right now, that is because the central question before us is whether to abandon our traditional sense of ourselves as an exceptional nation." 

Lowry hits on some points that I intend to bring up in posts I've been promising for some time now - history and politics. It is absolutely ludicrous and absurd for some to suggest that American Exceptionalism should not be taught as an affirmative concept in our schools since we are teaching future generations. Do we not want them to promote America as "a model of ordered liberty and self-government and as an exemplar of freedom?" Evidently, some do not. 

Though I don't agree with all of Lowery's assertions and conclusions - for example, he gets some things wrong on Jefferson and Lincoln - the piece is still very much a worthwhile read. You can also listen to an interview with Lowery on this subject here. Lowry, by the way, is a native Virginian and graduated from UVA with degrees in English & history.

Texas: Howard Zinn Not Welcome

Breaking news . . .

"After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday voted to approve a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the role of Christianity in American history . . ."

More here.

Hmmm . . . could their political philosophies and views on education have anything to do with their superior economic performance? Would anyone be want to argue that these two things are just coincidence?

This post will dovetail nicely with others that will follow soon on American Exceptionalism. Fascinating.

Am I Dreaming?

Or does the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals support the concept of American Exceptionalism?

"The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our republic was founded," Judge Carlos Bea said in the majority opinion. (Emphasis mine).

11 March 2010

Regarding My Brief Sabbatical

Thanks again to everyone who missed me while I was gone and who welcomed me back. The reasons for my temporary departure were somewhat varied. I was getting burned out and tired of blogging. I needed to refocus my energies and step back to contemplate where the blog was going and how much it had evolved over the last 5 years. I began blogging in May of 2005 and posted rather sporadically in the early stages. My very first post was about a horseback ride with some of my family through the mountains which surround my home. The original purpose of this blog was to simply serve as a relief valve for my writing passion. In some ways it has done that, in others it has become a distraction. So I'm still not sure what the future may hold for the Old Virginia Blog. But for now, I'm back. 

One change that I've decided to implement - I will no longer participate in debates on certain other blogs, nor allow their comments to be posted here. I've stated my reasons for that in a previous post and quite a few of you have agreed with me, including several academics, with whom I've had quite a few disagreements. I'm just making that clear now, for the record. If you've gone bottom feeding, don't bother to bring your inflammatory comments here. They will be rejected without comment. I will engage anyone in civil debate and I don't have a problem with heated civil debate. Having my views challenged is healthy - I welcome it, even though my responses may be pointed when I disagree. But when the name calling and ad hominem attacks start, that person automatically loses by default anyway; by revealing they're intellectually bankrupt, so there's no point in further discussion. Once it's clear that a person always resorts to this tactic, or allows others to do so, any further dialogue is pointless. If I've learned nothing else in 5 years of blogging, I've learned that.

Other than that, the blog will continue its discussion and posting on history (with a WBTS & Virginia focus), heritage, culture, and faith and, yes, that does involve a political element from time to time due to the very nature of these subjects and the politically charged environment in which we live. Posting may be less frequent at times as I am finishing up a book and working on another. I also have some articles to write and plan to be active with writing opportunities for the duration of the Sesquicentennial.

What Are They Hiding?

Why would a public school district sue parents to keep them from seeing PUBLIC records? Could it be that they are doing things and/or teaching things that would cause an outrage?

"A handful of taxpayers in a small community north of Wickenburg, Arizona are being targeted by the local school district in a lawsuit that asks a judge to declare they have no right to request public records, sue the district, or complain to outside agencies."

Once again, we have those in Big Education attempting to shut down and silence dissent. Amazing.

10 March 2010

Accurate or Politically Correct?

"Sixty percent (60%) of Americans with children in elementary or secondary school say most school textbooks are more concerned with presenting information in a politically correct manner than in accuracy . . . Thirty-one percent (31%) of adults say most school history textbooks portray American history accurately. But 43% say most U.S. history textbooks are not accurate, and another 26% are not sure."

09 March 2010

Virginia Rebels Against The Feds

"Here in the former capital of the Old Confederacy, where resistance to the supremacy of federal law has a long and tortuous history, a new battle is being waged over a question that could undercut a key part of President Obama’s health care proposal: whether Washington can require that most Americans have health insurance . . . "

Good for her. More here.

We've Witnessed A Paradigm Shift

"For literally decades, ABC, CBS and NBC – along with partners-in-crime the New York Times, Washington Post et al. – have had a stranglehold on what the people know and when they know it. Journalists who cover the national scene created an exclusive club, deciding what would be covered and how. They lunched together and gave each other prestigious awards, basking in the limelight of their own making and smiling down at the little people from their pedestals on high. They’re still doing it, in fact. But a funny thing happened . . ." More here. (It's called a free press, Chuckie.)

And . . .

". . . four times as many people watch Fox News as watch CNN." More here. (Could it be a trust factor?)

A similar phenomenon has occurred, and is occurring, in the field of education and academia. The explosion of alternate methods of receiving an education, e.g., homeschooling, long-distance learning, etc. is transforming the way people acquire and apply knowledge. The good ole' boys (and girls) in the ivory towers are losing their grip, which is at least part of the reason some of these folks (on the fringe) want to make criminals out of those who disagree with them. It is a sign of desperation.

08 March 2010

Aubrecht's Move

Fellow history blogger and friend, Michael Aubrecht, recently made the decision to focus his work on the Colonial period of American history. Though I will miss his commentary and writings in the field of Civil War history, I can certainly understand the move. First of all I, too, find that period of American history fascinating. As a boy, I spent countless hours reading juvenile biographies of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and, my personal favorite, Patrick Henry; as well as other great men who led a fledgling republic to victory over the most powerful army in the world. It is a period that continues to hold great interest for me as well.

Secondly, just like the WBTS, Virginia was at the center of America's War for Independence. Virginia provided the colony's greatest general and military leader, just as she did in the Civil War. 

And thirdly, during these chaotic times in our Nation - both politically and economically - the period of our Nation's founding deserves much more attention. In order to navigate forward in such tumultuous times and to be able to discern the deceivers and charlatans who would wreck the ship of state on the rocky shores, the period of America's founding can serve as a lighthouse and guide to steer us back to those principles of freedom and liberty that birthed the greatest Nation on earth. In order to move forward with wisdom, its always a good idea to first look back.

I wish you well Michael and look forward to seeing what comes out of this new direction. My readers would be well-advised to visit Michael's blog often.

A Hamiltonian Vision vs. A Jeffersonian Vision

Which is better? Well, let the facts decide . . .

"Texas is a different story. Texas has low taxes -- and no state income taxes -- and a much smaller government. Its legislature meets for only 90 days every two years, compared with California's year-round legislature. Its fiscal condition is sound. Public employee unions are weak or nonexistent. But Texas seems to be delivering superior services. Its teachers are paid less than California's. But its test scores -- and with a demographically similar school population -- are higher. California's once fabled freeways are crumbling and crowded. Texas has built gleaming new highways in metro Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth."

06 March 2010

The State Of Higher Education

This is a follow up to Friday's post:

"Back in 2008, when my agent was attempting to market the manuscript of what recently appeared in two companion volumes under the titles Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty: War, Religion, Commerce, Climate, Terrain, Technology, Uneasiness of Mind, the Spirit of Political Vigilance, and the Foundations of the Modern Republic and Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect, he ran into an unexpected snag. None of the editors at the trade presses he approached had ever even heard of Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu."

It was Montesquieu who was the thinker most often cited by the Founding Fathers from 1760-1805, beating out even Blackstone and Locke. No doubt Montiesquieu has fallen out of favor due, at least in part, to his philosophical views, to wit:

"God is related to the universe as Creator and Preserver; the laws by which He created all things are those by which He preserves them." ~ Spirit of Laws

But his importance in influencing the Founding Fathers, as well as their familiarity with his work, makes this story all the more amazing, in a very sad sense.

Professor Paul A. Rahe's
observation in this piece bolsters what I pointed out in Friday's post:

"If undergraduates at our colleges and universities are seldom now introduced to Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws, it is a profound loss and an indication that they have been denied the intellectual tools requisite for understanding our country, its Constitution, and the parlous times in which we live."

Again, this forces us to ask the question: Is the loss intentional?

More here.

Lt. Colonel Eric Buckland To Speak In Lexington

My SCV camp will host a social gathering at the historic Col Alto in Lexington this coming Tuesday, March 9 at 7 PM. Our guest speaker will be Lt. Col. Eric W. Buckland.  Buckland received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army after graduation from the University of Kansas in 1977. He had a 22-year career as an officer including assignments as an Infantry Officer and a Special Forces Officer serving tours in El Salvador, Honduras and Panama. He has had a life-long interest in the WBTS and in keeping with his military career, has always been fascinated by the irregular and unconventional aspects of the war.

Lt. Col Buckland will be discussing his book, Mosby's Keydet Rangers, a collection of biographical information, personal accounts and letters, and newspaper articles on the young men from the Virginia Military Institute who rode with Mosby's Rangers.The public is cordially invited to attend.

05 March 2010

Education or Indoctrination?

"Conventional wisdom holds that there is a strong connection between how much people know and how much college education they receive—the more college, the more knowledge. ISI’s research, however, demonstrates that on most campuses, this seemingly obvious correlation is quite marginal where knowledge of America’s history and institutions is concerned."
Intercollegiate Studies Institute:

  • While College Fails to Adequately Transmit Civic Knowledge, It Influences Opinion on Polarizing Social Issues
  • Compared to College, Civic Knowledge Exerts a Broader and More Diverse Influence on the American Mind
  • Civic Knowledge Increases a Person’s Regard for America’s Ideals and Free Institutions
Does regard for these "ideals and free institutions" mean embracing American Exceptionalism? I believe so. So why would one be opposed to teaching it as an affirming principle? Does failing to teach regard for these ideals promote a more easily duped and governed populace? Does failing to teach and embrace American Exceptionalism also fail in teaching students to . . . "believe in the relevance of our nation’s Founding principles and to maintain a self-governing society where freedom and opportunity flourish."

Again, I believe the answer is yes. The serious question is this: Is that an intentional outcome or just an unintended consequence resulting from ill-informed, misguided educators? The answer to that is more nuanced.

 Read the interesting study here and come to your own conclusions.

04 March 2010

Whiskey Willie & General Grant

On Intellectuals, Tyrants & Elites

"Scarcely a mass-murdering dictator of the twentieth century was without his intellectual supporters, not simply in his own country, but also in foreign democracies . . . Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Hitler all had their admirers, defenders and apologists among the intelligentsia in Western democratic nations, despite the fact that these dictators each ended up killing people of their own country on a scale unprecedented even by despotic regimes that preceded them."~ Dr. Thomas Sowell

And . . .

"While American politicians and intellectuals have not reached the depths of tyrants such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Hitler, they share a common vision. Tyrants denounce free markets and voluntary exchange. They are the chief supporters of reduced private property rights, reduced rights to profits, and they are anti-competition and pro-monopoly. They are pro-control and coercion, by the state. These Americans who run Washington, and their intellectual supporters, believe they have superior wisdom and greater intelligence than the masses. They believe they have been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. Like any other tyrant, they have what they consider good reasons for restricting the freedom of others. A tyrant's primary agenda calls for the elimination or attenuation of the market. Why? Markets imply voluntary exchange and tyrants do [not] trust that people behaving voluntarily will do what the tyrant thinks they should do. Therefore, they seek to replace the market with economic planning and regulation, which is little more than the forcible superseding of other people's plans by the powerful elite."~ Dr. Walter E. Williams


03 March 2010

Site Recommendation

Scott Manning, a gentleman whom I recently met through my blog, hosts an excellent website which focuses on military history: Digital Survivors. According to Scott, DS offers ". . . articles and reviews covering mainly history-related topics. There are also forums where you can discuss just about anything including history, politics, sports, and video games." Scott is currently an undergraduate at American Military University working on a degree in military history.

It's a great site with loads of good articles on WWII, Winston Churchill, as well as book and movie reviews. Scott also does a nice job of balancing his historical writings with his political commentary - something a lot of historians do (*despite the rather strange criticism regarding that practice which comes from certain academics) to one degree or another. Some attempt to hide their views and couch them in loud proclamations of "objectivity" while others, like Mr. Manning and Victor Davis Hanson, are very open about their politics. I prefer the latter.

I suspect we'll see great work coming from Scott in the future.

* Post coming soon on this topic.