29 October 2013

Secessionist Fever - In Silicon Valley?

The New York Times reports Tuesday that Silicon Valley is breeding a secessionist movement . . . Entrepreneur Balaji S. Srinivasan, who is leading the charge, is winning applause by promoting 'Silicon Valley's ultimate exit...an opt-in society, ultimately outside the United States, run by technology.''
 And . . .
One thing is certain, however: the utopians of the Valley will never receive the kind of media scorn that has faced the Tea Party, which is accused of wanting to return to the old Confederacy. What is evil on the right is considered quaint when it comes, openly, from the left.
And I'm quite sure they won't be receiving "scorn" from many professional and academic historians either. And for the same reasons.

Story here.

28 October 2013

Work Smart & Hard - Like Booker T. Washington

I love this whole model. It is so much closer to the real world than what's being encouraged within "the academy." Booker T. Washington would be pleased. More here.

Booker T. Washington’s approach to higher education was somewhat unique but his philosophy is even more relevant for us to emulate today. He not only offered and emphasized the traditional academic courses at Tuskegee, but industry and trade skills were also required. Students learned bricklaying, forestry, and timber skills, sewing, cooking, and practical agriculture, and every student was obligated to master at least two trades so he or she would always be able to contribute to the industry and betterment of society and be self-supporting after graduation. Louis Harlan explains that “Washington’s efforts as Tuskegee Institute were to train students to become independent small businessmen, farmers, and teachers rather than wage-earners or servants of white employers” (Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee [New York: Oxford, 1983], 142). 

Washington would eventually make Tuskegee Institute in Alabama one of the most successful schools in the South. In 1905, Tuskegee turned out more self-made millionaires than Yale, Harvard, and Princeton universities combined.
Bachelor's degrees (along with a lot of other dated notions entrenched in academia and our educational system) are not the future of prosperity in the United States, or anywhere else for that matter. 

27 October 2013

My Father's Randall Knife

A truly great song with a truly great message for both fathers and sons . . .

26 October 2013

More American Exceptionalism, Craftmanship & History

Every man should own one.

How the knife got its name:
Our name dates back to the early 1900's from a fur trapper testimonial. He wrote that while trapping, his gun jammed leaving him with only his knife to kill a wounded bear that was attacking him. He thanked us for making the quality knife that helped him to kill a bear, but all that was legible was "K a bar". Honored by the testimonial, the company adopted the phrase KA-BAR as their trademark.

25 October 2013

Saving A Pre Civil War African-American Church

Image: Staunton News-Leader
Kudos to the Frontier Culture Museum for saving this very important piece of Shenandoah Valley history:
The one-room building, on Round Hill School Road, was once one of many black schoolhouses in Augusta County, and it was also a church. And until about 10 years ago, it was still used by members of Mount Tabor as a social hall. Today, not many of these old structures stand.
As an aside, this building was located very close to the Piedmont battlefield.  Complete story here.

23 October 2013

A Review Of Kent Masterson Brown's The Southern Cross

I had previously promised a *review of Kent Masterson Brown's most recent documentary on the Confederacy's first battle flag. That review was posted today at the Washington Times' website:
Born as a symbol of rebellion, the Confederate battle flag retains much of that symbolism to this very day. What is even more intriguing is the fact that the very commissioning of the original Confederate battle flag was itself, an act of rebellion. This little-known part of the flag’s story is told in a fascinating new documentary written and produced by historian Kent Masterson Brown.
You can read the rest of the review here.

The DVD is available here.

*I received no compensation for this review, other than a copy of the DVD.

21 October 2013

Should We Tear Down Sherman's Statue?

Photograph by Mike Lynaugh
After burning and pillaging Atlanta and Columbia, S.C., Gen. William Tecumseh “Uncle Billy” Sherman talked of a “final solution to the Indian problem” and wrote his friend Gen. Grant: “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children.” ~ Patrick J. Buchanan
The Confederacy wanted to enslave African-Americans. Sherman wanted to exterminate the Sioux. Why is it we don't hear more about Sherman's hatred and bigotry toward the American Indian? The statue pictured above is located in the heart of Washington D.C. (in front of the Treasury Department), and completely controlled by the Federal government. The Feds shoulder complete responsibility for it. Should there be an interpretive plaque at Sherman's statue, or should someone who wanted to exterminate a people even have a statue?

A slippery slope, is it not?

More here.

17 October 2013

A Memorable Evening At Virginia Military Institute

Last night I had the privilege once again of speaking at the Rockbridge Civil War Roundtable in Lexington, Virginia. The meeting was held in the basement of the Marshall Museum on the grounds at VMI. 

As I was unloading a box of books and taking this picture, Colonel Keith Gibson (who serves as director of the VMI museum) stepped out of the shadows and surprised me, offering to help me carry some books inside. He also gave me an impromptu history lesson on the Corps of Cadets lowering the flags at 7 every evening -as they were doing when I took this photo. He told me that he believed VMI was the only military installation (school?) left in the United States that still used a live bugler for this ceremony. Here's what the VMI website has to say about this ceremony:
For over 150 years, the VMI buglers have been a crucial part of the Institute. They announce oncoming formations, play Reveille for the beginning of the military day and raising the colors, "Retreat" and "To the Colors" to announce the end of the military duty day and lower the flags, and finally at CQRB and Taps. Their role is of utmost importance to the Institute by keeping cadets informed of formation and class period beginnings and endings.
Every cadet is required to report for this and a cannon is fired as a salute just before the flags are lowered. Colonel Gibson said this has been performed every night since the time Jackson taught at VMI. It was one of those surreal moments I will always remember- standing there, the VMI lights and the moon rising over the barracks casting shadows - taking it all in with Colonel Gibson saluting the lowering of the flags. Truly memorable.

My topic was: Dr. Lylburn Downing & Stonewall Jackson: Two of Lexington, Virginia's Favorite Sons. I'll post part of my talk at some point in the future. It was taken from chapter 5 of my book about Stonewall Jackson and his black Sunday school class.

16 October 2013

Did Occupy Wall Street Protestors Receive Preferential Treatment Over Military Veterans?

UPDATE: From National Review's Morning Jolt email blast:
"On the very first day of the closure, I implemented a closure order for all 401 national parks in compliance with the Anti-Deficiency Act," Jarvis replied. "And immediately, that day, also included, as a part of that order, that First Amendment activities would be permitted on the National Mall." …
Jarvis then claimed that the veterans would have been permitted to enter the war memorials if they "declared" they were exercising their First Amendment rights.
"Who were they to declare it to? A barricade?" Gowdy responded sarcastically. "Mr. Chairman, I want the record to reflect that no statute or code of the federal regulation was cited to justify the erection of barricades."
ADDENDUM: Ah, the perfect ending to the government shutdown: "In a bizarre end to the House vote to reopen the federal government late Wednesday night, a stenographer was escorted off the House floor after yelling into a microphone about God, Freemasons and a divided government, aides and members said."
Just think, of all the people who work for the U.S. government, she avoided furlough!
End of Update.
Congressman Trey Gowdy asks National Park Service Director Jarvis why Occupy Wall Street protestors received "discretionary" preferential treatment over military veterans:

So, what do you think - was Gowdy too tough on Jarvis or was he simply representing his constituency, asking questions others have asked (and no one has answered) and performing legitimate oversight duties? 

Gowdy is definitely a "good" prosecutor and good at making witnesses squirm. So was he just "grandstanding" or pursuing a legitimate line of questioning? I actually don't have a lot of "love" for prosecutors. That comes from working as a Virginia magistrate for 12 years. The meat grinder that is our judicial system doesn't always serve up justice. Prosecutors are sometimes more interested in notches on their belt than they are in getting to the truth, causing them to be over-zealous and ruining the lives of the innocent. I've seen it up close.

That being acknowledged, I don't believe Gowdy is "vilifying" NPS park rangers and lower level employees here. He's questioning the person who is responsible (at least as far as the NPS goes) for the directives and telling those employees what to do - which is exactly what he should be doing. So I have mixed feelings about this. But someone needs to provide answers and not generalizations, which is all that I've seen offered thus far; other than some touchy-feely videos which don't answer or explain some of the more outrageous things we've heard of in recent days.

Regardless, accusing those who have legitimate questions and concerns over the things we've seen transpire over the last few weeks involving the NPS of something nefarious isn't helpful - or honest. As I've stated before, the NPS is not sacred and they are answerable to American citizens and taxpayers.

From Gowdy's website:
For 6 years as a federal prosecutor, Trey prosecuted the full range of federal crimes including narcotics trafficking rings, bank robberies, child pornography cases, and the murder of a federal witness. He was awarded the Postal Inspector’s Award for the successful prosecution of J. Mark Allen, one of “America’s Most Wanted” suspects. He also received the highest performance rating a federal prosecutor can receive – two years in a row. 

As 7th Circuit Solicitor, Trey led an office of 25 attorneys and 65 total employees. During his tenure, he started a Violence Against Women Task Force and a Worthless Check Program, enhanced and expanded Drug Court, and implemented a Drug Mother Protocol designed to assist expectant mothers break the cycle of addiction. 

He has been recognized statewide for his commitment to victim’s rights and drunken driving enforcement and nationally for excellence in death penalty prosecutions. 
And just for general information, this isn't the first time the NPS has been accused of politicization. All the drama being offered by some bloggers is a bit much and comes off as an attempt to distract from legitimate concerns and accusations which have come from diverse sources - not just "right-wing media."

The last Bush administration also faced charges of politicizing the NPS and furthermore, a university press published a book highly critical of the NPS back in 1991. So does this mean that the author and the University of Arizona Press is guilty of "vilifying" the NPS? No, not any more so than are the critics of the NPS today. 

One Of America's 100 Greatest Heroes - A Horse

I've been around horses, more or less, since I was a kid. Though I don't own one and don't consider myself a "horse person", one of my sons and one of my daughters have owned horses for quite a few years now. My son is also a full time farrier. All this makes this story all the more interesting to me.

That story reminds me of the excellent video produced by Kent Masterson's Brown's company. You can watch a few minutes of it below. It is a fascinating film. I'm currently working on a review of Kent's latest project, The Southern Cross, which Kent was kind enough to send me a copy of.

15 October 2013

Irony Indeed

And here's another image of dangerous Tea Party radicals protesting the closing of monuments and memorials in D.C. over the weekend:

14 October 2013

Should The Experts Be Getting Advice From The Amateurs?

A homeschooling family from Montgomery, Alabama is wowing many across the nation as six of their ten children have enrolled in college by the age of twelve, and the four remaining hope to do the same.

Kip and Mona Lisa Harding state that they are simply raising the “average family,” but credit their children’s success to homeschooling and encouraging their children to pursue their passions at a young age.

Pursuing passions is something often missed and overlooked in our cumbersome, institutionalized, cookie-cutter government schools. It's something my wife and I tried to encourage (though we stumbled at times) in our children - whether that be music, writing, or agricultural pursuits. I've always believed that God gives all of us talents and passions (interests) for a reason. I've counseled many a young man to pay attention to two things when you're considering what to do with your life:

1.) What do you love to do and what do you find interesting that can be harnessed to produce something useful or serve your fellow man?

2.) What are you good at?

Those are things God gives us and it is our responsibility to cultivate those things to become productive members of society. That's what seems to be happening with this family proving, once again, that you really don't need "experts" to educate your children, despite what the crumbling educational monopoly tells you.

Privatize The National Park Service?

Perhaps its an idea whose time has come, as a recent editorial in Forbes advocated:
I’m not talking about privatizing the parks themselves, a suggestion others have raised. In the 1990s, I specialized in privatization, writing reports for state and local think-tanks, particularly the excellent Allegheny Institute for Public Policy. I quickly learned one of the most crucial things about privatization that most people don’t understand: much privatization involves not ownership but operation. It’s often wiser to privatize not ownership but operation. (Roads are an example. Let the government own the roads, but their maintenance should be contracted.) That’s particularly true when government employees operating a service become unionized, entrenched, bloated, and over-extended. And that’s precisely what we should now consider with the National Park Service. We should privatize not the parks but the service that operates, manages, administers them.
The beauty of privatizing management rather than ownership is that ownership is permanent but management is not. This means that if one management group doesn’t perform up to expectations, a new one can be hired. The hiring process should always be regularly competitively contracted. This “competitive bidding” process keeps the current management group on its toes and accountable. If it performs badly, it can be fired and replaced—unlike the current group of government employees running the National Park Service, which is a protected class with a monopoly on its service.
Let’s privatize the National Park Service.
I'm inclined to agree. More here.

"I Make Men Cry."

Competition matters profoundly. Why? Life is a competition at every turn and many times the rules of engagement are not fair. Measuring performance matters. Without it we are a nation of underachievers. It is time our country and our kids to get back to winning and losing on the playing fields and failing and honor-rolling in the classroom. Our fun run approach to life is weaning future generations off of guts, fortitude, discipline, risk taking, confidence and other critically important ingredients for achievement. No wonder the United States ranks 25th and 17th out of 34 countries in math and science.

We need to let our kids fail more. Life is not a sporting event with perfect rules and regulations and without losers. The best and smartest don’t always win. Sometimes breaking the rules and not playing fairly are rewarded with victory. Will your kids be ready for that? Mine will.

11 October 2013

Former NPS Ranger & Historian Vents

Update: More embarassment for NPS officials. Kids had to sue the NPS in federal court so they could get access to an athletic field for lacrosse practice. They won, at least for now:
McLean Youth Lacrosse’s lawsuit does not affect other closed national parks and monuments across the country. Still, it might be somewhat embarrassing to federal officials, who have been accused of closing facilities unnecessarily to exaggerate the shutdown’s impact. And it might inspire similar legal actions. ~ From the Washington Times Post

End of update.
Uh-oh. I'll have to assume that the Weekly Standard confirmed the legitimacy of this former NPS Ranger before publishing these comments on their blog:
I'm a former NPS historian/supervisory interpretive park ranger from two parks (at Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi and the Steamtown National Historic Site in Pennsylvania.). I’m now serving as a historian for another Federal agency. For years I've monitored NPS vacancies, just in case the opportunity arose to return to the NPS as a historian. No longer . . .
I have never been more embarrassed to admit that I'm former National Park Service and I will never return. The Park Ranger has long served as an [sic] representative of good government, someone who the public looked up to and admired. Through this calculated, politically-driven hackery and thug tactics, the image of the ranger and the NPS with the American public has been broken, probably irrevocably.
And to those offering up Straw Men & Red Herrings, legitimate criticism coming from many independent accounts and unrelated sources is not "demonizing" anyone. I've acknowledged more than once that I believe most NPS employees just want to do their jobs. I believe that most of them would much prefer doing what they were hired to do and are dedicated public servants. But that does not excuse what's going on at some parks and monuments. As I've already stated in previous posts, the NPS is not sacred and they are not, nor are their employees, above criticism. Attempting to smear those who are criticizing the over the top conduct of some NPS employees and their supervisors is rather transparent - it's not working.

This is the 2nd piece about the NPS appearing in the Weekly Standard. The first one can be read here. Unless the NPS behavior improves, the criticisms aren't going away. And, unfortunately for those NPS employees who have no part in this, the memories will linger for a very long time in the collective minds of the public.

My earlier posts can be read here, here, here, here, here, and here.

10 October 2013

The South Most Liberal In The 1960's?

When dominated by Democrats? Hmmm . . . this makes for some interesting theorizing. I haven't dug into this too much, but it appears to be legit, as polls go anyway:
Interestingly, in 1964, the South appears to have been the most supportive of the liberal response (the government should ensure a job and a good standard of living). The second question, reported in the right panel, asked whether or not the government in Washington was getting too powerful.
 This, too, is an interesting opinion:
. . . it’s important to remember that public’s policy preferences usually go opposite of actual public policy. So although the public may be shifting more toward the right, a Republican president with conservative policies in 2016 may push the public to the left.
Americans apparently, at least to some degree, just like to b**ch. I think the Founders realized this and were ingenious in setting up the various levels of checks and balances - the three branches of government, the local, state, and federal levels, etc. The checks and balances distribute the b**ching to various levels. Think of it as spreading the whining around. ☺Thus, the current stalemate when the country is so polarized. In other words, it's working! Check out the details here.

My People The Scots-Irish

This Will Cause Heartburn For Some

Seems like Jesus and the Duck Dynasty boys are attracting the most American readers. Interesting. As noted on the Drudge Report:


09 October 2013

NPS Defenders: It Ain't Working

Image from National Review
Update: Now this is FUNNY - ANARCHY!

Quick, call a park ranger - that squirrel might attack some stupid citizen!

Some are now hand-wringing over the possibility of bears eating people. "Lions, tigers, and bears - Oh My!" Man, the drama is getting a bit much.

We have bears in our trash on a weekly basis - should I call a park ranger to protect me?

And in another display of the absolute inability of some folks to analyze this stuff, a history blogger made this comment:
I love how our First Amendment rights now override the law. Wonderful precedent to set and let’s not the forget the irony of it all.
Uuhhh . . . yeah - that's exactly what it does, as the courts have ruled in case after case, after case. But I think I know the problem with that mindset (beyond the obvious lack of a fundamental understanding of the First Amendment). Folks like that think "laws" trump "rights" - as defined in the constitution. The amendments are inalienable - they pre-existed government and stand on their own - given by our Creator. So yes, the 1st amendment trumps laws that restrict it, when properly exercised.

End of update.

The Weekly Standard hits the National Park Service pretty hard with their most recent editorial. Very few people outside the Beltway mindset are buying all the dismissive, silly, weak defenses being offered from the predictable sources on behalf of the NPS. Their excuses are coming off as condescending and patronizing. And I'm beginning to get the sense even they aren't buying them. I guess they're in too deep to admit it.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the NPS has a major, self-inflicted public relations debacle on its hands. I don't think they quite comprehend what's happened - nor do their defenders. Those of us who live in the land between the airports see things much differently than do the elites in academia, the media, and government. Here's just a few excerpts from the hard-hitting WS piece:
Think about that for a minute. The Park Service, which is supposed to serve the public by administering parks, is now in the business of forcing parks they don’t administer to close. As Homer Simpson famously asked, did we lose a war?
And . . . 
It’s one thing for politicians to play shutdown theater. It’s another thing entirely for a civil bureaucracy entrusted with the privilege of caring for our national heritage [history?] to wage war against the citizenry on behalf of a political party.
This vindictive conduct will remain in much of the public mind for many years to come, even after the partial (83%) shutdown is resolved. It will take the NPS years to rebuild its reputation. What a shame.

You can read the WS piece here.

08 October 2013

Part 4 On Park Shutdowns Or Who Closed Yellowstone?

Update - see new material from the Christian Science Monitor at end of post. Is the NPS endangering school children?

Who Closed Yellowstone?

Charles Krauthammer answers the question via a piece in the Washington Times Post:
The mainstream media have been fairly unanimous in blaming the government shutdown on the GOP. Accordingly, House Republicans presented three bills to restore funding to national parks, veterans and the District of Columbia government. Democrats voted down all three. (For procedural reasons, the measures required a two-thirds majority.) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won’t even consider these refunding measures . . . The reason is obvious: to prolong the pain and thus add to the political advantage gained from a shutdown blamed on the GOP. They are confident the media will do a “GOP makes little Johnny weep at the closed gates of Yellowstone, film at 11” despite Republicans having just offered legislation to open them.
And . . . 
Tactics are one thing, but substance is another. It’s the Democrats who have mocked the very notion of settled law. It’s the Democrats who voted down the reopening of substantial parts of the government. It’s the Democrats who gave life to a spontaneous, authentic, small-government opposition — a.k.a. the tea party — with their unilateral imposition of a transformational agenda during the brief interval when they held a monopoly of power.
You can read Krauthammer's complete piece here, at the Washington Post.

And then there's this from a paper in Tennessee Massachusetts:

"Quit that there recreatin'!" (Paraphrasing an NPS ranger)

Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures.
Instead, the Salisbury resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry and heartbroken for her country.
- See more at: http://www.newburyportnews.com/local/x1442580373/Gestapo-tactics-meet-senior-citizens-at-Yellowstone#sthash.otlBy0mH.dpuf
Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures.

Instead, the Salisbury resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry and heartbroken for her country.
So what, exactly, was this "ugly spectacle" that has this person so upset? According to the report:
For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard. The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.
That was bad enough but then their guards wouldn't even let them go potty:
When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.

“We’ve become a country of fear, guns and control,” said Vaillancourt, who grew up in Lawrence. “It was like they brought out the armed forces. Nobody was saying, ‘we’re sorry,’ it was all like — ” as she clenched her fist and banged it against her forearm.
Hmmm . . . doesn't quite fit the stuff being put out by the court historians, does it? While I'm confident the majority of the NPS rangers are not acting like this, those poo-pooing the very real incidents like this only damage their own credibility. Some like to call this "anecdotal evidence." That way they can pretend to ignore reality. But after a while, the anecdotal kinda morphs into the empirical. I think it's safe to say we've now morphed.

And for the person who equated "occupy protestors" with WWII Veterans (No, I'm not kidding), the other day, there's this little tidbit in the same article:
The experience brought up many feelings in Vaillancourt. What struck her most was a widely circulated story about a group of World War II veterans who were on a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial when the shutdown began. The memorial was barricaded and guards were posted, but the vets pushed their way in.

That reminded her of her father, a World War II veteran who spent three years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

“My father took a lot of crap from the Japanese,” she recalled, her eyes welling with tears. “Every day they made him bow to the Japanese flag. But he stood up to them.
I suppose this is just more of that "typical" reporting, huh? You can read the complete article here at the Newbury Port Daily News.


And now more craziness being reported from the Right-Wing News Center Christian Science Monitor:
. . . it also seems federal officials are going out of their way to make the shutdown painfully symbolic. Many of the open-air monuments currently barricaded were not closed during earlier shutdowns. Some, including the World War II Memorial, were closed by express orders from the White House, according to the Park Service.

At Gettysburg, park officials barricaded pulloffs on a public road so people couldn’t stop and view the monuments from the public right of way. Such pulloff barricades suggest to experts like Mr. Reynolds at the University of Tennessee that the cones are simply there out of spite – an evocation of the power and necessity of the federal government.
And the CSM notes how all this is even impacting, perhaps endangering, school children:
In the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee, rangers shut down Foothill Parkway, a major thoroughfare used by School Bus 49 to shuttle kids to school from the small community of Top of the World, causing a frustrated Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell to tell Fox News: “We were founded on a Declaration of Independence. And they are about to push the people to the line again.”
And Fox is reporting more about the Smoky Mountain bus situation:
The closure came without warning and left the local school district scrambling to get children back to their homes.
Wow. The NPS doesn't seem concerned that this is, according to local officials, endangering school children:
The children live in the eastern Tennessee community of Top of the World – serviced by School Bus 49. Normally, the bus travels along the Foothills Parkway. Other roads leading to the isolated mountain community are impassible by bus.

“It’s dangerous,” said Nancy Kemp, the spokesperson for Blount County Schools.”It’s very curvy and straight up the mountain. It’s just not a safe route.” One local resident told Knoxville television station WBIR that the alternative roads are “white knuckle routes.”
Isn't that nice? 

And they're even picking on the dead:
Even more insulting is the National Park Service won’t allow family members to visit old grave sites. “Some of them have family members buried there,” the mayor said. “And they go and visit every week at the churches still in the cove. They are not able to do that.”
I'd say the NPS now has a major PR debacle on their hands - self-inflicted, I would add. And the more the court historians defend this kind of stuff, the more absurd they appear. Please, do keep it up.

Note - Please don't complain to me about these reports/posts - all coming from reputable news organizations and citizens experiencing these things. I'm just sharing what's being reported on here. It is what it is. But I know this, the lame excuses coming from the usual sources aren't working. 

The Civil War In Color

Two professional colorists have combined their skills with photographs and fascination with the American Civil War to create a remarkable series of color photographs from the era.
This is quite amazing.

Prisoners of war: A colorized image of three Confederate prisoners and its original black and white stenograph, taken by Mathew Brady in 1863 on top of Seminary Ridge in Gettysburg from the main eastern theater of the war.
From the UK Daily Mail

07 October 2013

Part 3 On Park Shutdowns

While a number of bloggers and historians continue to mislead and offer half-truths on this topic in order to advance their Tea Party-hating agenda, the Christian Science Monitor is doing some fair reporting on the budget stalemate and the subsequent National Park Services closing of monuments and parks. I missed this headline the other day on their website:

Government shutdown: Offers that would reopen national parks rebuffed by Feds

Here's one of the most important take-aways from the article:
But given that in past shutdowns or budget standoffs, some park closings have been resolved, critics say the National Park Service is now being far too aggressive in barricading public lands. Some are accusing the agency of “showdown theater,” aimed at pinning blame on Republicans and reminding people of the importance of the federal government. (Emphasis mine.)
If you doubt that, just skip around the lefty leaning blogs and see the comments and where all the blame is being laid. It's just a convenient opportunity for many. I think many of them actually believe no one sees through the charade. The CS piece also shares the following experience of a private campground operator that has been drug into this circus:
Warren Meyer, a private campground operator in national parks, told Fox News that his campgrounds have not been affected by past shutdowns, but were ordered closed this week by National Park Service officials. Mr. Meyer said he received orders directly from the White House to close about 100 campgrounds.

In a letter to his congressman, Meyer wrote, “We employ no government workers ... and we actually pay rent into the Treasury.” Thus, “I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.” (Emphasis mine.)
The CS piece does close with a statement that explains some of the closings. I accept that and it's a reasonable position. Areas with artifacts and security concerns that realistically cannot be manned should be closed. But there seems to be little doubt that the NPS is going way beyond what they have done in the past and that viable options for resolving this "crisis" are being rejected for reasons that appear contrived. I agree that neither houses of Congress are blameless in this, but the NPS is not looking much better.

You can read the CS piece here.

And the Washington Times reported this yesterday:

On Friday, the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina decided it would buck the Park Service’s order and remain open — only to find park rangers come and block the driveway to the inn to prevent anyone from entering. The parkway itself remained open, but the administration said all concessions in national parks must shut.

“I’m questioning their authority to shut me,” Pisgah Inn owner Bruce O'Connell told The Washington Times on Friday as he fought to stay open.
More here.

And, just to remind the youngsters, the Democrats used this same tactic numerous times during Reagan's presidency so please, save us all the drama. 

Once again, be careful what you're reading on some history related blogs - many of those writing and commenting there support bigger government and "got skin in the game", so their objectivity is a bit suspect. Besides, if they were really as concerned about parks and other historical sites being shutdown as they claim, they'd be advocating the park funding bill passed by the House of Representatives. This proves they're just as focused on the larger political issues involved as are the ones they're criticizing. They think everyone is blind to that. Think again.

Of course, nothing will convince some of these folks - even when presented with case, after case, after case. They're even still celebrating the train wreck that is the Affordable Care Act which is, of course, part of this whole debate. They are completely out of touch. When confronted with the facts that absolutely destroy their position, their typical, pointy-headed response is: "Oh, you just don't understand the complexities of . . . blah, blah, blah." Yes, they're disgusted with the great unwashed who disagree with their intellectual-supremacist proclamations - even though those proclamations often fly in the face of facts. They have no response other than to claim they're more learned and intellectual than are their critics.

It's amazing to watch them lie to themselves. I think they're actually convinced no one sees through their charade.

06 October 2013

I Stand With the WW II Veterans

Photo from Breitbart.com
Fred S. Busic
My grandfather, pictured at right with the "Jeep" he put together with parts from an Indian Motorcycle and other discarded pieces while stationed in Egypt during WWII. 

Forget the political theater, the finger-pointing, the blame game, and all the asinine excuses - the fact anyone would even consider not allowing men (who, quite literally, saved Western civilization), to visit their own memorial is beyond comprehension.

Oldest Living Medal Of Honor Recipient Has Died

I looked up at the sky and said, "Lord, I know I’m going to die; let’s just make it fast, make it quick, because I know this is the end."

Nicholas Oresko, 96, an Army master sergeant who was badly wounded as he single-handedly took out two enemy bunkers during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, died Friday night at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, hospital officials announced Saturday. ~ The Blaze

05 October 2013

Part 2 On Park Shutdowns

Update: Some folks have suggested contacting the NPS directly with questions and concerns over these park shutdowns. I tried that approach with the last debacle at Gettysburg mentioned in the previous post. I never received a reply- not even a canned response or acknowledgement. That's water over the dam, but I must say I was disappointed and is why I didn't bother this time. 

And additional reports keep pouring in: No photos or even stopping at unattended overlooks are allowed at some parks, including Mount Rushmore. And while those on the left accuse those on the right of using this as a way to criticize the President, those on the left are, hypocritically, using the situation to  express their "disgust" for the Tea Party and others on the right. They're doing the exact same thing they're accusing others of. Also note that the offer by some states to operate some parks has been declined. Why? Also note the House has passed a funding bill for the NPS and parks and it was rejected by the Senate. So who's keeping the parks closed? That one issue, being so contentious, could be laid to rest if the upper House would allow. I think they like the drama.

Also, its been noted that the Skyline Drive has been closed for "safety reasons." Really? Then why is the road portion - all 469 miles - of the Blue Ridge Parkway (which meets the Skyline Drive) still open? Both are controlled by the National Park Service. As a matter of fact, I was on the BRP Friday and portions of it were being paved. And the BRP is just as "winding" a road as the Skyline Drive. Also, the BRP has "dangerous" overlooks which have to be maintained just like the ones shown in the link above for Mount Rushmore. What's really going on here?

Perhaps there are reasonable (and believable) explanations for this. But, again, the NPS is not sacred and is not above legitimate criticism. They are simply stewards. They are answerable to the people who make their positions and places of employment possible. Let's not forget that. Regardless, the NPS is losing the debate and the public sees many (not all) of these closings as petty and vindictive.

End of udpate.

This is a follow up to the previous post about the Federal government shutting down National parks, monuments, battlefields, etc. The current circumstances are, according to some, unprecedented. I mentioned Claude Moore Colonial Farm in the previous post. Here's more details about that living history farm from Fox Business:
Operators of Claude Moore Colonial Farm in Virginia, for example, say they were shocked when the National Park Service ordered their park be shut.  That's because it's been 80% funded by a local non-profit for years, which agreed to take over 100% of the costs of the facility as of October 1. Still, the National Park Service spent taxpayer money to erect barricades around the park and evict everyone from the farm this week.

“We do not know why CMCF was barricaded from public access or why NPS police escorted staff and volunteers off the property right before a fundraising event on Monday. The National Park Service does not pay CMCFs employees, for its operations, maintenance, events or programs,” Claude Moore Colonial Farm Operations Manager Heather Bodin wrote in an email to FOX Business. "In our 32-year history of running the farm, through other government shutdowns, we have never had to close our doors before.”
So what makes this shutdown different? 

Again, these criticisms are coming from many different sources. Here's another one from the Las-Vegas Review Journal:
Blocking access to fee-collecting parks is one thing. Blocking access to free information is another. The Interior Department, which oversees the National Park Service, put in the work last week to render its website useless. This act alone reflects a profound disdain for the taxpaying public . . . If a federal worker can man a barricade, he can staff a fee collection booth. Red Rock Canyon and Lake Mead collect fees. At Red Rock Canyon, October is prime hiking and biking season, with perfect weather. Closing the canyon now is the equivalent of a retailer shutting its doors in December. The Bureau of Land Management is turning away business. Is the National Park Service or the BLM prepared to give all those who bought annual access passes a pro-rated refund? Of course not.
Besides, the House of Representatives passed a bill to reopen and fully fund the parks, which is their constitutional prerogative. The Senate has rejected that option. So who's for closing the parks? 

And one more question. These WWII Veterans practiced civil disobedience and broke through the barricades at the Iwo Jima memorial. Should they be arrested?

Image from the Weekly Standard

03 October 2013

WW I In 3D

This is pretty cool . . .
Casa de la Imagen has digitised 500 stereo negatives of a previously unpublished photo archive from the First World War. The photographs were taken by a French soldier during the conflict. The images document battles such as Arras, the Somme and Ypres.


*Hat tip to the Civil War Uncovered

02 October 2013

Are Educators & Academia Exploiting The Middle Class?

You decide . . .
Ever-increasing property tax levels and student loan debt prove that liberal ideas promoted by educators have the effect of making them rich while exploiting working-class Americans.  What adds insult to injury is that educators constantly preach that a college education is the best route working-class students can pursue to lift themselves up and escape the exploitation and oppression created by capitalism.
More here.

And a tenured professor reveals some ugly truths on his way out the door . . .

And . . .
Academic institutions have changed little since the post-WWII expansions of the 1950s, while the world around them has changed dramatically.  What little change has occurred appears focused on the proliferation of pointless administrative positions [and a hard core leftist ideology] whose sole purpose is to make the institution more expensive and less efficient. An imitation of the US auto industry in the 1960s. We know how that turned out.
And, as I've noted in a number of previous posts, due to technology and the growth of autodidactism, "establishment" education is becoming somewhat of a dinosaur - at least in its current form. Just the opportunities and options available to homeschoolers and those who want specialized knowledge and instruction are virtually limitless these days. The professor who left academia after 40 years would agree:
Due to technological changes, I no longer really need the resources of a large institution. Computing power?—I’ve now got a machine with 8 Gb of memory (upgradeable to 32 Gb) and a 1.2 Ghz processor. And that’s just my phone. Cluster computing I can get from Amazon or Google using my credit card; dozens of companies can provide web hosting. Email account?—free. Wireless internet hotspot?—$30 addition to my Verizon plan. [20] Blog—free!
This is decentralization and democratization of education on a grand scale and the financial realities of a grossly overpriced service is hastening all this along - a fact that many academics and "professional" educators wished were not true. I think its wonderful and that this will have many positive, long term implications.

More here.

01 October 2013

The Education Establishment - Epic Fail

According to the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, however, only 12 percent of high school seniors were proficient in history. That means most college students lack the knowledge even to begin developing the ”nuanced and comprehensive view of the past and the dynamics of historical change” with which Grossman and Carey credit social history. The New York Times reported that only 2 percent of high school seniors could identify the issue involved in Brown v. Board of Education. By the way, the question included a quote from the decision. (Emphasis mine.)

Just more evidence history teachers are failing in their most important responsibility. What an unmitigated disaster. And they want to tell the masses how to analyze and interpret history? Right. 

Much of this is pushing the continuing growth and phenomenal success of homeschooling, long distance learning and experience oriented learning. We really don't need the establishment, at least not to the extent they want the hoi polloi to believe. And that's a good thing.