Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Donkeys and Harps

A little Tom Wolfe on Harps and Donkeys from Bonfire of the Vanities:


Monday, July 10, 2017

Mattis Grants Interview to High School Newspaper

 Once again, Jim Mattis proves he's the best person in the current Presidential Administration.

Apparently, the high school got in touch with Mattis after his personal cell phone number was accidentally leaked by an aide in a photo run by the Washington Post, and Mattis agreed to do the interview.

It's a great interview. Great questions and great answers. Here's a snippet:
TEDDY: You were quoted recently in the The New Yorker as saying that what worried you most in your new position as secretary of defense was “The lack of political unity in America.” How do you believe younger generations of Americans should be working towards improving America’s political climate?

MATTIS: I don’t care for ideological people. It’s like those people just want to stop thinking. I think the first thing is to be very slow to characterize your fellow Americans. I know that when people have to run for office they have to say “I’m smart and my opponent’s dumb,” or “I’ve got better ideas than my opponent.” That’s politics there’s nothing wrong with that. But, I get very very concerned when I hear people start characterizing their opponents as stupid. I still understand that because politics is a little rough and tumble at times, but I don’t buy it and when they start calling each other either crazy or evil. You and I, we don’t compromise with crazy people or evil people. And so, I don’t think that’s helpful. Generally speaking, just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them crazy or evil.

By sitting down and talking with them, after having a good strong argument, going out and having a root beer with them, maybe showing up at the same church, maybe going to the hospital to see their kid when they’re having their appendix out, reminds you that they’re human beings too. There’s no reason to get all worked up as if someone is evil or crazy. For one thing, none of us are perfect and all-knowing, so this might be their right, and that’s why I don’t care for ideological people. It’s like those people just want to stop thinking. They know what they think, they don’t read anything but one newspaper that agrees with them or they watch only one television news show because it reinforces them, instead of listening to the ones that don’t agree with them. So, I think the way you get over it is, you take people one at a time and you give them the same credit you give yourself and your ideas.
Go read the whole thing.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The American Spirit - According to Benjamin Rush

I'm currently taking a short sabbatical from the Aubrey-Maturin series to go back to my sweet spot of reading history books. I started Washington's Crossing on the Fourth of July, and I'll probably finish it this weekend while at the beach. So far, it's very good.

I'm currently reading through the part of the darkest time for the Americans in the Revolutionary War. It's right after the British have captured New York, Rhode Island, and have driven almost to Philadelphia. The Cause is beginning to look lost. It is the winter of 1776, when Thomas Paine publishes his famous pamphlet "The American Crisis" following the bitter defeats and a period where victory looked remote.

I was struck by this paragraph:
"Doctor Benjamin Rush, who had a major role in the event, believed that this was the way a free republic would always work, and the American republic in particular. He thought it was a national habit of the American people (maybe all free people) not to deal with a difficult problem until it was nearly impossible. 'Our republics cannot exist long in prosperity,' Rush wrote 'We require adversity and appear to possess most of the republican spirit when most depressed.'"
Perhaps this is still true today. Perhaps our peace and prosperity have sapped our republican (small r) spirit.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

British SAS Soldiers Outnumbered and Trapped by ISIS Fighters

Earlier this week, some British SAS soldiers were trapped in a small river bed in Iraq. The Brits were down to ten total bullets between everyone. They were surrounded by about 50 ISIS fighters.

Sources told the Daily Star that they were convinced they were going to die in the battle, so they chose to 'go out fighting' in the hope that they would kill as many ISIS fighters as possible before they died....'They knew that if they were captured they would be tortured and decapitated.

'Rather than die on their knees, they went for a soldier's death and charged the IS fighters who were moving along the river bed. They were screaming and swearing as they set about the terrorists.' 

The soldiers then used everything at their disposal in the desperate fight for their lives.

The Brits charged out, fought hand to hand after their ammo ran out, used their guns as clubs, used knives, and brute strength. One SAS solider drowned an ISIS fighter in a puddle with his bare hands.

After four hours of fighting, there were 32 dead ISIS fighters, and the rest had fled. The SAS troops then made it back five miles where they were picked up and brought to safety.

Feel good story of the day.