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Northam’s High-Value Target List Team

Virginia’s Governor Northam, perhaps in response to so many Virginia counties passing a resolution stating country police forces and sheriff departments will not enforce any laws related to unconstitutional gun confiscation has taken a lesson from the War on Terror and brought it home.

He is asking for the formation of an 18 man team, and $4.8 million dollars (see page 23 for the funding of the team) to equip and fund said team for the purpose of enforcing state laws related to gun confiscation. (Washington Examiner)

Let me explain why this is a problem. Regular folks assume that there are some good people in law enforcement, and based upon the number of sheriffs across Virginia and other states that have publically stood up lately to say they would not violate the constitution, this seems true. Most Americans believe the National Guard would not be a good option to enforce gun confiscation, many Soldiers and leaders would resist, and this is probably also true.

To get this done, Northam would need people he could trust to do it, ‘special’ people that are treated special, given special equipment, special perks, allowed to grow facial hair, all that – getting an idea of what I am talking about yet? He wants to build a small special operations force, essentially soldiers instead of law enforcement officers, that will do his will without concern for morality or legality.

You say an 18 person team could never confiscate all the weapons Northam wants to ban. Sure, not all at once. They do not need to. All of the ‘offenders’ would be placed on a ‘target list’, intelligence packets created, hasty planning conducted on the evening’s targets and after say midnight or so the team would launch in a geographic area, hitting perhaps six homes a night. It would be all very efficient, fast, and as violent as the team thought they needed to make it in order to quickly hit all the targets on the list before dawn. This would go on night after night…

Most ordinary people would get the message pretty quickly – you cannot stop these guys from entering your home, shooting your dogs, pushing around your wife and trashing your house – try and they will shoot you and move on. I do not care who you are, one guy or four guys cannot stop a well-trained and efficient team practiced in forced entry and clearance procedures. They pick the time, they have the tactical advantage and they have the numbers and firepower. Try and stop them and you die.

The target list would organically shrink pretty quickly. Ordinary people would get the picture and reevaluate their life choices and give up the banned guns. Those few that decided to hold out would remain on the list until their time in the lottery came up one evening. When I was around guys that did this sort of work we called those sorts “deadenders”. Get it? The target was basically dead before the door was breached.

Look, this is dangerous for a bunch of reasons. Recruiting young fellows that want to be ‘heroic’ and are willing to do nasty and unconstitutional things in order to be special is flawed from the beginning. Once teams like this get rolling, night after night of kicking in doors, they begin to believe they are special, and their targets, become just that “targets”- not humans, with families, lives and rights.

There are just too many wolves out there pretending to be sheepdogs, guys that would jump at the chance to join Northam’s new kill squad if it meant they got to be special, wear tacticool stuff and call themselves an elite ‘operator’. Throw enough money and perks at trash and the trash will form a long line to join up.

Here is the thing, the people that advised Northam on this brilliant plan already know what I just said above. They learned this in a warzone, and they know the implications, yet, it is on the table for use in the US. There is no mistake or oversight here, this is intentional and it shows intent. Northam is literally willing to form a small army and invade and quarter them in Virginian’s homes to achieve his desires. Yes quarter, this squad of soldiers will occupy a home as long as they see fit to find justification for being there.

If this is the way he and those around him think I worry about what might occur come Monday.

Nobody anywhere is really “anti-gun”. Anyone that claims they do really means they believe that guns should only be held by the nice, trustable, and moral government. After all, the government would need those guns to actually take everyone else’s guns and to keep everyone in line. Elites and powerful people would ‘need’ those guns for their protective staff to keep the rabble away. When a person says they are anti-gun or for gun control they are saying they think the government is moral, ethical and trustable and everyone else is not to be trusted.

That sort of thinking did not work in the Soviet Union, Germany, Venezuala or the Ameican Plains.

Northam is not anti-gun. He needs the guns and his special HVT ‘kill squad’ to enforce policy. He simply expects everyone to trust him and government.

See also: Second Amendment and From Progressivism to Authoritarianism

The Second Amendment

In the narrative of an ongoing and progressively elaborating cultural war, the 2nd Amendment is perhaps one of the last remain bastions of conservatives and traditionalists. It is a term, concept and fact of law fraught with division, misunderstanding, slander, misrepresentation, hyperbole and discord.

There are, perhaps some facts, that are seldom spoken out loud, but are nonetheless true. Most supporters of gun-rights would agree with the following, privately if not publically:

  1. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms was the last check and balance written into the Constitution against tyranny.
  2. The Second Amendment is ultimately the only real power behind any of the other items in the Bill of Rights.
  3. No government ever created by man is immune from the judgment of the ruled, up to and including armed rebellion.

By historical example, a plain reading of the original founders and an honest application of common-sense, no rational thinking person can deny those three items. We certainly as people do not want and have demonstrated throughout history not to want to resort to such drastic measures. No moral, thinking person believes that revolution or violence over tolerable issues is acceptable. Likewise, no honest person can deny a circumstance where government, any government, could devolve into tyranny to such a degree that rebellion was not acceptable, even if we ourselves would prefer not to participate, we can imagine scenarios where people would be justified in using violence. To deny that statement would be intellectually dishonest. Yet, many ignore these realities and attempt to build a counter-narrative.

The counter-narrative always begins with the one-off, the crazy person with a gun example or statistics of what happens when criminals use guns. It is tragic when a criminal or a crazy person uses a gun to do violence. It is likewise tragic when someone gets hacked to death with a machete in West Africa or stabbed on a London bridge. Crazy people and criminals killing people is a tragedy, but that is not the issue.

When arguments about gun statistics and what crazies and criminals do grow boring the left turns to another narrative. The radicals, so detached from historical reality, would paint gun owners as extremest, waiting for a revolution, hoping to set things right with a gun. Behind every long gun is a white supremacist or a neo-nazi their story goes. All this while virtually ignoring leftist violence.

Let’s look at what Americans that believe in gun ownership and also believe that the right to keep and bear arms is the last defense of tyranny have NOT done.

  • Southerners, when occupied by Federal troops did not mount an insurrection.
  • Paleoconservative intellectuals in the 1930s, recognizing the New Deal as socialism and eventual tyranny, did not write and speak for the common man to march on Washington with granddaddy’s shotgun.
  • When occupied by federalized troops in the 1960s southern Americans did not resort to the gun to maintain their States’ sovereignty.
  • Since 1972 many Americans have viewed and still view abortion as murder, yet baptist Churches never formed militias to fight a baby-killing regime.
  • In the 1990’s many people believed the Clinton administration took federal policing too far, killing people at Ruby Ridge and Waco, yet there was no armed revolt.
  • Nobody formed groups and took up arms when we learned our government was spying on our email and phone calls without warrants.

If the narrative, repeated so often by dishonest mainstream media and radical leftist, that “right-wingers” are waiting on a moment to rise up is true, why has it not happened? The Declaration of Independence from Great Britain named 27 reasons for the declaration, some of them are trivial by comparison some that might be posited today by Americans against the Federal government, yet we do not rebel. Why? If the liberal narrative is to believe this boogaloo should have already have started and been completed by now.

It is simple, anyone that is rational, logical and moral and believes that the Second Amendment is the last resort against tyranny sees it precisely like that, the last resort. In ancient Rome, the Rubicon river served as a physical location by which tyranny might be measured. In the modern US, we do not have a physical river, but people know it has to be something of a serious if figurative place, not something to be bandied about and called upon carelessly. People know revolutions generally end poorly, and violence is costly. Believing a thing is a right and being willing to go to the extreme of exercising that right are miles apart. The patience, restraint, civility, and citizenship demonstrated by ordinary gun-owning Americans speaks volumes against the leftist narrative that guns in the hands of Americans are dangerous.

None of that is to say that crazy and unhinged people have not and will not act on the items above. However, ordinary, normal people do not and have not and it is those people that the left smears with their narrative.

There have been examples of Americans that believed that violence was a last resort and chose to use that last resort as an option

  • The Whiskey Rebellion over taxes
  • John Brown over his view of abolition
  • Southerners in defense of their states
  • The Plains Indians after seeing treaties broken

There are also examples of Americans peacefully protesting with weapons to show resolve. in 1967 armed Black Panthers entered the California statehouse during a protest. Obviously, not to shoot people, they made it into the legislative chambers in session. Also, not in violation of the law, open carry was legal. They went in armed to show resolve to their protest that they believed were going unheard. It was a way to state “we are serious”. Can there be a more direct statement of resolve to power? Nobody was shot and nobody charged with a crime.

If all of this is true, why does the current governor of Virginia believe that after months of inflammatory rhetoric it is in the best interest of the social good and societal order to disarm protestors next week at a pro-gun rally? If he does this and he and the state legislature follow it up with draconian gun laws and law enforcement sit by or actively participate in disarming citizens both next Monday and after these laws become fact what does he believe will occur?

Will this become the American Rubicon? America being more divided than any time since 1850 and the nation engulfed in impeachment proceedings do his actions make sense?

I do not suspect most ordinary Americans will react in the way the left seems to fear, and perhaps they already know that. All of their claims to the contrary fail to address historical facts.

However, if this all proceeds the way Northam has set in motion he will certainly embolden some lone wolves and disaffected souls to action, he will radicalize some small number. Unfortunately, there will be blood if he proceeds along the path he has begun. At this point, I cannot even say that I believe he and those of like-mind do not already know that – a lone crazy or two acting out gives them more justification to proceed.

Perhaps it is time to just throw up our hands and surrender. The radicals have won every other stage of the cultural war and transformed America into a proto-socialist, proto-dystopian, areligious shadow of the former Republic. If the Second Amendment was intended to be a final bulwark to save everything else, and all else is essentially gone, it almost makes no sense to fight, figuratively or literally, for the 2nd Amendment.

Between a dysfunctional Washington, everyone beginning in January to receive an endless stream of tax bills in the mail combined with our general discord and dissatisfaction with governemnt, these shenanigans in Virginia bode ill. I suspect the next two months will be much more significant in American history than many now realize.

see also

Northam’s High-Value Target List Team ; From Radical Progressivism to Authoritarianism

It Only Takes One; A Peak at the Authoritarianism to Come

There are still good people, many, like the sheriff in the video below. The fat lady ain’t singing yet, but those that oppose what America was founded to be have become embolden and are demonstrating they are willing to incite violence and use violence to achieve their goals.

Look! There is Jackson standing like a Stonewall! Let us determine to die here today and we will conquer, Rally behind the Virginians!

General Bernard Bee (SC)

Stand like a stone wall Virginians!

It Only Takes One

I just returned from Washington, DC. This is the first time I have visited the city as a tourist. There is still much to process. On the ride back I pondered current events, the culture and the way ahead and I was left with thoughts similar to Benedict Carter below.

Nothing makes sense, yet it all makes sense. Everything that is so disordered makes perfect sense if you accept that there is a worldview out there, running things, influencing others and attacking things it has not yet dominated, a worldview so different and opposed to all I have come to know and believe that I sometimes fail to see it at the root of things. It is so alien.

For example, driving through Virginia I could not help but wonder what has become of the home of Washington, Jefferson, Henry, and Lee. How could Virginia in one week revive the dead ERA, an amendment that is, on one hand, innocuous and unnecessary and on the other complex and dangerous in its potential interpretation and at the same time contrive an assault on basic property rights and liberty?

Let us leave aside the ERA for now and focus on this entire anti-gun situation that has been building over the last couple of months. I posted back in December that these events were just a peek at the authoritarianism and totalitarianism to come. Governor Northam’s declaration of a State of Emergency yesterday and the banning of guns is yet another step is ratcheting up the stakes.

Some will argue that the arrest of three folks that reportedly had ties to neo-Nazi groups and also reportedly had plans to go to Virginia to perform violence vindicates Northam. I say that is bunk. There is not a “right-wing” extremist group in the US that is not infiltrated in some way by an FBI asset. The FBI knew all along about these three, if the stories are correct, they were never a valid threat. What becomes of that story and those three was not and is not at issue, it is not the point.

Northam has twisted his executive power to ban guns at emergency shelters into banning them from the public square. Open-carry and concealed carry are legal in Virginia. Upping the rhetoric, striking first, and shoving his fist in the face of ordinary Americans that value property rights and liberty will only make the situation worse.

Next Monday thousands of patriotic, liberty-minded Virginians plan to assemble peacefully at the State’s capital to send a message to their government. Under their rights and the law they plan on being armed. This is certainly not the first time liberty-minded Americans have exercised their first amendment rights by shouldering their second amendment tools. For instance in 1967 armed members of the Black Panthers protested inside the California statehouse in Sacramento, not to perform violence, but to demonstrate resolve. If Americans cannot protest peacefully, and demonstrate their seriousness by carrying their arms, this leaves few options if their protests are unheard. For some, it will lead to violence out of frustration and apathy.

Maninstream media and the radical left have already captured the narrative of this event. They have equated it with white nationalism and Charlottesville. They long ago painted the narrative of Charlottesville through one lens, one act, and one perspective, leaving the likes of Antifa innocent in their eyes. So too with the planned event of next Monday.

It only takes one. disenchanted, confused lone wolf to turn this into something it never had to be.

If by violating the law, his powers and all common-sense Northam succeeds in disarming the protestors and then proceeds to ignore their protests it is not inconceivable that some lone actor will act. In that case, it will rest upon Northam, his soul shall bear the cost.

This is all avoidable. If Northam comes to his senses (doubtful), if law enforcement refuses to carry out his orders (they will not refuse), if Antifa stays away and does not incite violence (they will not), if the MSM would simple tell this story as it is as opposed to through a radical prism. This might be resolved.

Virginia right now is a big deal.

Iran: The Long-Term

As we await POTUS’ speech to the nation this morning I think there are some things we can know, and others we can reasonably suspect.

First, looking at the general reaction on social media, for and against, statist and haters, there seems to be few that understand what this conflict really is. It is asymmetric, it is not WWIII and cannot be (unless some vastly remote and unlikely set of circumstances play out and that is as likely as snow in Miami).

Asymmetric warfare can describe a conflict in which the resources of two belligerents differ in essence and, in the struggle, interact and attempt to exploit each other’s characteristic weaknesses. In asymmetric warfare, the smaller opponent picks targets, measures action by cost versus gain and above all else crafts operations to ensure it remains in the fight. It requires realism and rationalism and patience. Iran has demonstrated again and again, and specifically last night, that it is capable and willing to play the long game.

Image

For instance, the satellite imagery above from the al-Assad airbase shows that Iranian missiles clearly missed the areas that look to be CHUs (containerized housing units). We now know that the Iranians informed the Iraqis before the attack, knowing full well the Iraqis would tell the Americans. In this way, Iran was fairly certain that troops would have time to seek shelter. We can conclude that this was a saving face response for Iran, they reacted, they were able to claim heavy casualties in their national media, satisfying their populace. They did not kill US soldiers, and apparently not even any Iraqis, therefore it was only a minor escalation.

For Iran, this was strategic, patient and measured. They acted, saved face and put the ball in the US court. This does not mean in the Iranian mind this conflict is over, it simply means that the leadership in Iran is smart enough not to escalate so much as to force a decisive engagement that they cannot win. They will live to fight another day.

Their next actions will be just as measured, whether through proxies or direct action.

If Iran now awaits a US response what might that be?

As reported yesterday, the US has repositioned B-52s to Diego Garcia

By my assessment 5th FLeet has at a minimum seven platforms afloat capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. Certainly, the US could launch a robust cruise missile response, but that would likely be overkill in the optics of international affairs at this point. It would also certainly not be enough to destroy Iranian capability, it would be, just like the Iranian attack a message.

A message will not change the perspective of Iran. They believe, rather firmly, that concession or weakness will lead to regime change efforts. They likely see no option to pull back, a message will not deter them at this point. For the first time in centuries, the Persians are poised to regain ascendancy in the region, this is a do or die time for them. A message will not deter them.

I suspect if Trump is determined to force the issue he will use patience and build forces and force Iran to act next, and only strike when he has sufficient power in the region. We will likely hear Trump proclaim that we are willing to leave but we are showing force in the short-term and that Iran should not act. We shall see.

Update: 11:42 am

based upon the content of POTUS’ speech this seems to have been predictable last evening.

Social media and the MSM will bash him, left and right, but this seemed to me to be perhaps his greatest moment, and I am neither a fan nor a hater. Knee-jerk launching a bunch of missiles would have been the easy answer, this path took patience and wisdom.

Look at Me

I have been conducting a bit of research, watching a lot of mega-church pastor’s sermons, and I have noticed a trend that the Babylon Bee nailed recently in a satirical story of a preacher that placed himself in the middle of a sermon about election.

Churchgoers were impressed by Vickery’s theological illustration and his general ability to always make himself look good in his messages.

“Some Sundays, I’ll admit, I have no idea how he’s going to end up making himself look great, cool, popular, important, or heroic. Especially with this one—I was thinking, ‘How is Pastor Chuck going to make himself the man in a message on election?’ I mean, it’s election,” said church member Becky Lenhardt, adding that despite her doubts, somehow he was able to pull it off.

“I can’t wait until next Sunday to see how he’ll become the hero of a sermon on creation,” she added.

I have come to the conclusion, after watching dozens of videos from various mega-church pastors, that this is pretty much par for the course. I suspect they would be incapable of preaching a funeral or a wedding without performing the verbal equivalent of photo-bombing.

This sort of behavior is closely related to the story of the worship leader that took 16 hours to explain to his congregation why he selected a particular song for that morning and what it meant to him. Me, me, look at me.

Satire is a pretty good way of addressing the absurd and getting after a reality that makes no sense. I thought I was alone in this observation of crass interposition but apparently not.

The Conflict with Iran in the Short-Term

Update:

https://twitter.com/onlyBarryLClark/status/1214700684907552769

My assessment below still stands despite this. The US is still in a predicament vis-a-vis Iraq, leave and allow Iran unfettered influence or stay and become an occupier. Obviously, within the Iranian calculus, they saw enough popular support in the region to press a rocket attack sooner rather than later to force the US hand.

I suspect this has increased the risk of escalation. No US president ever ignores an attack on US troops, and to properly attack Iranian sites the US needs to beef up airpower and bases in Afghanistan and perhaps Uzbekistan and secure permission to conduct operations from perhaps Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. I suspect the next move will be a US strike with cruise missiles while the big brains come up with a name for the operation and begin plans to forward position more air power. It really comes down to how many Americans were/are killed in this attack tonight.

In the roll-up of troops below, I missed the deployment of 2 or 6 B-52s to Diego Garcia yesterday. These are primary delivery systems for cruise missiles in this scenario.

_______________________________

Last evening I received inquiries from a young man that occasionally asks my opinion on matters such as this concerning the potential that something bigger may occur related to Iran. He has a wedding planned this spring and his bride to be is obviously concerned he may not actually be here.

I told him I suspect there is at worst a 33% chance of anything ‘real’ occurring and even in the worst-case scenario, it would not involve a Desert Storm style ground invasion. At most, all that is realistic is a pre-Desert Storm build-up and air campaign. Even that scenario requires many more iterations of additional events.

Upon consideration, if I were in charge of Iranian strategy, and if they react and act rationally and in a calculated manner that leverages their advantages, I think that 33% assessment is perhaps too high, much too high for the coming months.

So what do we know?

Khamenei Wants to Put Iran’s Stamp on Reprisal for U.S. Killing of Top General (reported by NYT). In the previous years Iranian direct action has been conducted through proxies, and in almost all cases included plausible deniability. Based upon the passions at home and the positive sentiment Iran enjoys at present in the region after the assassination of Suleimani they must and likely will act directly and overtly. This is not the same as acting stupidly or bluntly. I believe their next action will come soon but it will be measured and focused toward a specifically American target, not a GCC, European or even Isreali target. Perhaps the easy and vulnerable target of al-Assad airbase in Iraq with a limited missile attack. They will use strategic patience to wait for the right target at the right time that just affects the US. It will be proportional, so as not to cast them into the terroristic narrative. So yes, they will act but it will not involve anything like closing the Straits of Hormuz or hitting Saudi oil fields.

The Iraq Parliament passed a resolution calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi soil. If and when the US leaves this is a tremendous victory for Iran. The US is now in a quandary, stay as unwelcome occupiers or leave and allow Iran unlimited influence. The Pentagon has confused the issue by releasing a statement that US forces will leave followed by a statement by SECDEF that no decision has been made. Iran will pace its next move after all this gets sorted out, so as to not influence the Iraqis to change their minds. Iran will act once the US begins to leave or decides to stay against the will of the Iraqi government.

The deployments to the middle east of ground troops by the US does not indicate that the big brains in the Pentagon believe there is an imminent threat of Iranian massive action. Since May the US has sent approximately 14,000 additional troops to the region. Since the current events began the US has sent(T&P):

  • 3,500 paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division, who were sent to Kuwait.
  • A “contingent” of Army Rangers with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
  • Around 2,200 Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit that are embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan.
  • About 100 Marines from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, who deployed to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad as part of the Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response – Central Command.

This really comprises a “speed-bump”, deterrence, rapid reaction and force protection deployment, not really the sort of thing that can conduct or withstand sustained offensive or defensive operations. Trump in his most wise statement of military doctrine I have ever heard him utter told a reporter a couple of months ago, if he wanted to fight Iran he would send a lot more troops.

Sending the light forces, the Marines and paratroopers first pays homage to centuries of gunboat/saber diplomacy. It tells the other side that you are serious and gives them the option for the next move.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly. These recent deployments do not have a name. Military folks love to give operations a name. Once you give it a name, it is real, game on. This is perhaps the best proof that things are not really serious yet. Once some iron major comes up with a name, that makes it past a council of colonels for approval but a group of generals, then you should worry.

I think Iran will be patient, they will probably leverage their newfound sympathy in a place like Afghanistan, overcoming centuries of animosity toward the Persians, to work with groups there to affect their direct action strike Khamenei wants.

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Iran

The United States has been in a proxy war with Iran for years. It has been fought with hard and soft power, in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. Iranian special forces have been conducting unconventional warfare (UW) operations in Iraq while US forces have conducted foreign internal defense (FID). This is all certainly not new.

I suppose one of the most interesting and ironic things to come out of the death of Qassem Soleimani was the mad rush of youngsters checking the Selective Service website to see if they would be drafted. There was such a panic the website was overwhelmed. No worries little girly boys, the military is not going to pull you out of your Gender Studies college program. You are not needed.

In terms of the morality of killing a man as an individual, well that is something else to consider. Ever since Sherman and Lincoln made it fashionable in the Western mind to ignore centuries of jus ad bellum principles, the gateway to assassination was opened wide. It began with burning cities, progressed to firebombing and now to outright assassination – we have devolved far but that is another topic.

The middle east is something of a pickle. It has been such since the 1920s and the attempts by the major powers to carve up countries where none previously existed. It persisted through the 20th Century with governments supported by the West that were often totalitarian. Perhaps the very best thing we could have done is let it all work itself out in the early 1990s. To allow a stong Shiite and a strong Sunni duality to check one another. Perhaps right after the Cold War was the time to walk away and let them work it all out. Alas, that is not the nature of power, it never seems to just back away.

Here we are, thirty years on. The Sunnis in Iraq are impotent, Iran is unchecked, in the Islamic world only Saudi Arabia can stand against them and despite all the money the Saudis spend on defense they are a paper tiger, inept and inefficient. What to do?

On principle, it seems that stepping away is the wisest and most moral option. Practically I am not certain that is possible, or perhaps better stated, realistic. Americans are too concerned with their own comfort. Folks left and right, would not long tolerate a situation where Iran was able to dictate oil prices and availability. I may be a man that detests war while realizing the necessity to fight when forced to but I also understand the mindset of those in the world around me. The most fervent statists will call for escalation, the most radical liberals will call for appeasement but neither will suggest pulling away. Therefore, if there are only two realistic options on the table, engagement through appeasement and stalwart willingness toward aggression, I begrudgingly and sadly must side with the later (with caveats and perhaps, in the end, I retreat back to a position of principle that says let it be).

Let us just state something right away. The US is not going to invade Iran. I am aware of no plan in existence to invade Iran. I am aware of plans that involve conflict, even ground conflict with Iran in various places and in certain scenarios, but if a plan to actually invade Iran exists, it is theoretical and perhaps more of an exercise of the mind rather than something any professional takes seriously.

Iran is large, much larger than Iraq. It is more capable militarily than Iraq. To be certain its military is nothing close to a peer competitor but they are not incompetent. Iran benefits for the lessons of the US’s previous attempts at regime change. They would not simply dig in their 523,000 man military, (583,000 if you count the paramilitary MOI), and await shock and awe. Geographically, Iran occupies strategic high ground in the Straits of Hormuz. They have intra-theater assets that can cripple the oil supply of Saudia Arabia and punish Isreal. They are much more capable of bringing the mother of battles to the middle east than Saddam ever was, and all thinking people know this. Threatening to hit 52 critical sites in Iran may give them pause, maybe. Then again, maybe not, if the US hit four times as many sites it would not eliminate Iran. I suspect the immediate Iranian response will be subterfuge and something more subtle, activities focused on making the US take more overt action. They have all the advantages through that strategy. Events like the September attacks on Saudi oil fields, which Iran conducted with plausible deniability and impunity are likely future response.

Iran is the honey-badger in this fight, and they just don’t care. This is a tough nut to crack, perhaps too tough.

Philosophical and Political Worldviews

We often view the world through a limited perspective and fail to see the larger narrative, the foundational differences in world views. A liberally inclined person may look at some conservative ideas and see totalitarianism. A conservative invariably does the same. Neither is absolutely wrong, but it is also unlikely that when a person right or left speaks these words or has these thoughts that they understand why this is true.

Within the umbrella of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, within the context of millennia of Western political, philosophical and theological thought, both left and right, conservative and liberal ideas of freedom, economics and government exist side by side. They are complementary, they share the same basic world view. Conservatism and liberalism, left and right, in the Western tradition, are based upon realism, rationalism, and acceptance of truth – this is Classical Liberalism.

The image above represents the various ideations of thought that derive from the Enlightenment. Obviously there is a vast swath of difference across this spectrum but at the core the most rigid forms of republicanism and the most liberal forms of scientific socialism share in common an acceptance of materialism, rationalism, realism and objective truth. From right to left, there is a difference in agreement as to what constitutes objective truth but everything that is true to the Enlightenment, everything above the ‘cut line’ agrees on the foundational world view, there is an agreement that truth exists.

Postmodernism

The Enlightenment itself was subjected to a counter-revolution, beginning with Immanuel Kant and continuing through philosophers like Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche and finally to the modern era and postmodernism. The counter-revolution was a slow but steady assault on the ability of men to know truth and finally of the existence of truth at all.

This shift perverted the classical liberalism philosophical spectrum. Without an understanding of the nature of man, universal truths, natural moral law, and natural rights the poles of the spectrum devolved into dangerous ideologies. Far-right republicanism gives birth to statism, far left progressivism gives birth to pseudo-marxism and totalitarian communism. Finally, a third way was born to address the inadequacies of perverted classical liberal ideologies, fascism, a phenomenon that can exist on the right and left of the spectrum below the classical liberal cut line.

The great political divide we observe at almost all levels of the process is a direct result of the abandonment of truth, or perhaps agreeing that truth exists. No longer does the definition of liberal or conservative reach across the spectrum to some degree as it did under a classical liberal view, no longer is there a middle. To be certain, there are still those that term themselves conservative and liberal but almost all on each side have succumbed to various postmodern ideological influences. This must invariably lead to some sort of totalitarianism, a form of fascism.

Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or a mode of discourse that rejects the possibility of reliable knowledge, denies the existence of a universal, stable reality, and frames aesthetics and beauty as arbitrary and subjective. It can be described as a reaction against scientific attempts to explain reality with objective certainty, recognizing that reality is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own personal circumstances. It is characterized by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection toward the grand narratives and ideologies of modernism, often denying or challenging the validity of scientific inquiry, or declaiming the arbitrariness of the aesthetics of artistic works or other artifacts of cultural production, or questioning various assumptions of Enlightenment rationality.

Postmodernism relies on critical theory, an approach that confronts the ideological, social, and historical structures that shape and constrain cultural production. Common targets of postmodernism and critical theory include universalist notions of objective reality, morality, truth, human nature, reason, language, and social progress. Postmodernist approaches have been adopted in a variety of academic and theoretical disciplines, including political science, organization theory, cultural studies, philosophy of science, economics, linguistics, architecture, feminist theory, and literary criticism, as well as art movements in fields such as literature and music.

Wikipedia

Why This Matters

Everything that derives from postmodernism is poison to the Western tradition, right reason, morality, and ethics based upon truth. Critical Theory, as applied to Critical Race Theory, has divided the populace by reigniting racism. Feminist Theory has destroyed the family. It has slipped into traditional organizations such as:

  • Most of mainline Christianity in the form of Social Gospel
  • The Southern Baptist Convention and the acceptance of Critical Race Theory
  • The core ideology behind the formation of the megachurch growth, seeker-sensitive and emergent church movements – Peter Drucker, the Leadership Network The Gospel Coalition and others.
  • Almost all of academia.
  • Neoconservatism, neoliberalism and progressivism – meaning most of the Republican and Democratic parties and most of the organizations and individuals that advocate in the public square for either are affected in some way by postmodern ideology.

My daughter asked me recently, “how can two sides look at the evidence and issues related to Trump’s impeachment and see the facts so differently?” The answer is simple: people are incapable of thinking from first principles and agreeing on the existence of universal truths. And so it is, so long as the vast majority are mired in bad ideology the situation will persist and intensify.

Twitter Neophyte

I do not know a lot about Twitter. I really only just began to use it. I think I just got into my first Twitter skirmish, and it was informative.

Like all good stories, this one begins with “so there I was”. I posted a piece on James McPherson and the 1619 Project controversy and I noticed that a person with Ph.D. behind their name (honestly who does that on Twitter), posted a comment about how disappointing and sad it was that McPherson and other historians would criticize the project, and that “the way we do our work is important”. This person is a professor of history at a major university, criticizing another historian, an accepted expert on the subject at hand, and stated it was “sad and disappointing” that McPherson would find fault in this project.

I am no fan of McPherson, but he has written a lot on the subject of slavery, and this other person I have never heard of.

I commented essentially that if they were sad about McPherson’s critique and could not see the error themselves that spoke more to their qualifications than his and that good methodology was a friend. Ok, yes, perhaps provocative, but at the time I thought it appropriate. Their original post was a provocative attack as I read it.

The first reply I received was that my post was “embarrassing because I had obviously not looked at the person’s bio”. A blatant appeal to authority, a clear fallacy. I replied that I had noticed but it did not matter to me and my assessment stood as written.

What was most interesting was what followed. A trove of lemmings chimed in. Some said I could not comment on the issue because I am a white guy (who says that out loud). Others that I was mansplaining because the Ph.D. in question is a woman, or that I am a misogynist, etc. etc. ad nauseum. They conjured all of that from a few simple words from me, amazing.

As I said, perhaps I do not know a lot about Twitter. Perhaps a new guy with no followers ought not to call out someone with 2K drones following their words, ready to pounce. Maybe real Twitter wars happen when one guy with a bunch of lemmings says something to another guy and then their little ducklings fight it out.

This entire thing reminded me of a forum I followed years ago. Every once in awhile controversy and disagreement would break out. There was one camp on the boards that followed a guy called Jeff. Jeff appealed to authority all the time, he claimed to have been there and done it and that alone was enough to make his opinion better than others. He had a following that bought into his story no matter how banal his opinions at times. When disagreements would break out between the various factions, and Jeff was not online, there would be 20 posts from his followers with a variation of “wait to Jeff gets online and squares you away”.

Jeff would eventually post, usually to personally attack the credibility of the person making a counter-argument with one post. That would be followed by twenty or thirty “jeff told you, enough said” posts. It was insane.

I believe that is what Twitter might be. Echo chamber insanity, appeals to authority, bandwagoning, confirmation bias and a slew of other fallacies.

I have read that Milinials primarily get their news from Twitter. That is a bit troubling and not a small bit confusing. We have lost the ability to talk to anybody that does not agree with us, 100%, I perhaps count myself in that number as well. Without dialogue, a republic cannot long stand.

Update: Soon after posting this I had a dialogue with a socialist, a man that pointed out that Critical Theory was opposed by true socialist, who knew. Perhaps there is some use for Twitter. This man and I would never have spoken otherwise, me a paleoconservative and he a socialist, I would have happily proceeded to conflate the progressive and socialist ideologies together lock-step. It seems it is possible to actually talk on Twitter, and to learn something.

James McPherson and the 1619 Project

I once wrote in a review of James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom that,

James McPherson is a master of prose and storytelling as evidenced in Battle Cry of Freedom. He has mastered the art that Shelby Foote noted many historians lack, that of telling history in a way ordinary men will read. However, for all his skills at penmanship McPherson makes several critical errors in Battle Cry, errors common to his generation. It is likely that the influence and ascendance of this work and the myriad of others in the same vein will be short lived in the realm of serious scholarship on the causes of The War.

James McPherson’s central theme within Battle Cry, in his words, “the multiple meanings of slavery and freedom, and how they dissolved and reformed in the crucible of war”. His work is typical of most historians of his generation in that it rejects the thematic and topical analysis of events utilized by previous scholars.

(PDF) Review of Battle Cry of Freedom. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325986945_Review_of_Battle_Cry_of_Freedom

My opinion of his worth as a historian has not changed. He is an accomplished storyteller but he is a man of his generation, he shares flaws common across most historians trained the 1960s. There was a trend, beginning after WWII and the collapse of the academic and political old right, to tell the narrative of the United States from a more left and decidedly more centralist point of view. Much of the discussion and scholarship in the first half of the 20th century had dealt with the examination of sectionalism, original intent, and states’ rights. In the 1950s and going into the 1960s the standard narrative was less comprehensive, looked less deeply for the complexity of issues that divided America in the mid 19th century and came more and more to talk just of “rebellion and slavery”.

While I admire his ability to tell a story, I remain unconvinced of his view of American history in the 19th Century. It was, therefore, extremely curious to learn that McPherson and other historians publically called out the New York Times for errors in their 1619 Project. It seems the NYT journalist, that is folks that went to school to tell stories and master the written word as opposed to the study and analysis of history, went too far afield in the ever-evolving new American narrative. Painting American history essentially as one long list of events designed exclusively to dominate and manipulate black folks. That was too much, even for folks like McPherson. You can view their letter to the NYT here.

I applaud McPherson and his partners in this effort. It is dangerous, increasingly dangerous, to speak out against anything of the radical agenda. oftentimes those that are punished the worst, canceled the hardest and suffer the most, are left-leaning folks that fail to toe the line or speak up when things go too far astray.

It has caused a bit of a stir on Twitter, with half-baked defenses, incompetent lemmings and false historians and journalists coming out of the woodwork to defend the NYT.