THOSE DESPICABLE COMMANDMENTS

The New Mexico City of Bloomfield has been engaged in a battle with the ACLU over a monument that presents the Ten Commandments.  The monument sits on City property, and was erected by the city.  The legal costs of the city have been paid by a non-profit organization, so the legal battle has been at no cost the citizens.  The case has gone to various courts three times, and all three times the city has lost.  They are working their way up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

There has been much discussion on talk radio and other forums about whether the city should just fold their hand and move the monument, or keep fighting.  All of this mischief was brought about by one individual’s complaint to the ACLU.

This morning, I had an idea that I’d like to share, for the sake of conversation.  Presumably, the person who brought this suit finds the content, or substance, of the Commandments offensive. I can’t see any even remotely reasonable person saying, “If you tell me people say it’s wrong to commit murder, I’m okay with it, but if you tell me God said it, I’m all, like, offended and shit.”

So here’s my idea.  Let’s enact a statute that says, at the age of 21 years, every person must decide whether or not they will live under the principles elucidated in the Commandments.  The decision could be reviewed and amended every year or so, but if a person said, “No, I reject these silly religious tenets, and do not wish to be judged under such a code,” they could do that.

If they so choose, they could not be charged with violation of any law based on any principle in the Commandments.  But – and this is a relatively significant but – neither would they be protected by any law based on any principle in the Commandments.

They would not be protected by the laws against murder.

They could not enter into any contract or testify in any court proceeding – including any suit they might bring against another person – because they clearly have no problem with lying.  I mean, if a person says, “I reject the premise that it’s wrong to lie,” how could anyone ever take them at their word in any matter?

They would not be protected by any law against theft, so it would be perfectly legal to take their stuff, including their homes.

Most ironic of all, I think, is that no such person could ever bring suit against another person or entity, including civil liberties suits, because the laws under which suits would be heard are inseparable from Judaic law, including the Ten Commandments – also there’s the fact that no one could ever be sure they weren’t lying about the whole thing, anyway.

That way, no one would be forced to live under a Judaic code, or any law based on such a code.  What could be more fair?  I’d be willing to give them a tax exemption for whatever part of their taxes go to law enforcement and maintenance of the courts.

THE FOLLY OF SKEPTICSM

There can be no denying that it is foolhardy and even dangerous to believe that which is untrue, but it is just as foolhardy to refuse to believe that which is true.  It is more foolhardy – and definitely more dangerous – to become so cynical and skeptical that we believe nothing.

If we believe that which is untrue, the truth will, over time, make itself obvious to us providing we keep our eyes and ears open to it.  Thus, an incorrect belief may be discarded and replaced with a correct one.

If we refuse to believe that which is true, we handicap our senses and our cognitive faculties, but the handicap is not insurmountable.  The truth has a way of knocking persistently – sometimes with a battering ram – on our minds, and we may find our way to it in time.  That is, if we live long enough.

However, to become so skeptical of everything that we begin to deny the very existence of truth is the most dangerous course of all.  We will not expose ourselves to the self-correction that impinges on him who believes a falsehood or denies the truth.  That person at least knows truth exists and searches for it.  The skeptic has given up on the whole matter.  He becomes amoral and untrustworthy, isolating himself from friendship and love, which, if not the ultimate truth, are the very skin in which it exists.  Skepticism very often leads to cynicism.  The former says there is no way to know good from bad, the latter that everything is bad.  Both are based on a false dichotomy.

One of the most destructive, despicable tenets of Progressive education is that “objectivity” is defined as believing in nothing at all – in spitting in all faces equally – not saying one cannot know right from wrong, as does the agnostic, but saying everything is wrong –  that virtue is a myth, and only corruption is real.*

What a wretched way to go through life!

The Scriptures tell us that there is opposition in all things.  Epistemology tells us that the human mind identifies all things by their contrast with their surroundings.  We could never know color unless there were different wavelengths reflected from objects.  We could never know hot unless we could contrast it against cold.  We could never know virtue unless we could contrast it against vice.

* In fact, the cynic who believes that only corruption is real ignores the fact that the only way he knows about corruption is by its opposition to virtue.

There is a sort of person who sees no evil, and we call this person a fool – “Pollyanna” is the clichéd term.  Such a one seems incapable of seeing the contrast between good and evil, or between right and wrong.  The term for a person at the opposite extreme, who sees no virtue, is “Cynic.”  This person is every bit as blind as the former, and prone to all the same errors in judgement, but where the former appears happy with everything, this wretch is miserable with everything.

But here’s the fishhook that’s hidden in the ice cream:  neither of them is really happy because, “There must needs be opposition in all things,” including happiness and misery.

Truth and falsehood both exist, and stand in contrast, or opposition to each other.  Be aware that both exist and of the certainty that you will encounter both during your life.  Don’t expect omniscience of yourself, for that will surely lead you to skepticism or cynicism.  Know that you are not all-knowing and perfect – that you will sometimes be wrong, and at other times you will be right.

And here’s the really important point:  without the possibility of being wrong, there would be no virtue in being right.  It is only Man’s capacity for error that gives his free agency meaning, and makes everything from wisdom to love to salvation possible.

LET’S ACTUALLY PREVENT SOME CRIMES

Pro-gun control advocates have always accused us anti-control advocates of not wanting to do anything about violent crime.  They have accused us of cheering for mass murderers and laughing at the anguish of bereaved spouses and children.  Of course that’s insane hyperbole, but I have noticed over the years that we tend to lead with our attack on their stupid ideas.  It’s so much fun to shoot holes in their silly schemes that we often don’t get around to positing our own ideas for reducing crime.  So.  I thought I’d take a crack at that very thing.  Perhaps I can offer a few ideas, or stimulate other, better ideas in those warriors who are on the firing line against those whose only thought is to ban or control guns.

First, because it is absolutely impossible to keep anyone from getting a gun, it’s foolish to focus all our attention on the attempt.  We’d accomplish much greater results by addressing the actual problems, such as violent behavior by a tiny minority of the American people.

How about a campaign against gangs?  Although some people seem to be waking up, the hard corps liberals have always winked at gangs, saying, “Oh, they’re just kids being kids,” or, “Oh, everyone needs to feel like they belong to something.”  Gangs like the Get Hard Crew and MS-13 are not rambunctious boys.  They are savage, murdering animals, and the practice of making excuses for them has contributed to an ocean of blood and suffering.  Let’s go after gangs with the same vigor with which the liberals go after our rights.  It would actually have an impact on violent crime.

How about repeat offenders?   At one time, more than 70% of violent crimes in New Mexico were committed by people with one or more conviction.  Not arrest – conviction – for violent crime.   The “Three Strikes” laws have had an effect, but in some jurisdictions, they have been interpreted to mean everyone gets two free killings, or two free rapes.  Let’s campaign for One Strike and you’re out.  Even without the death penalty, life in prison for your first murder seems pretty reasonable to me.  At the Senate hearing on SB50, I heard a woman say that some guy had committed several pretty serious crimes, but was on the street until he got popped for a federal firearms violation.  To her, the solution is to have more federal gun laws instead of using existing laws against the violent behavior to achieve the same thing.

Our prisons are not doing what we need them to do.  I’m not against putting people in prison, but the fact is that the US has more people in prison than any other industrialized nation, and it isn’t working.  People come out of prison radicalized in Islam or in gangs, completely hardened and desensitized.  We need to do something different, because what we’re doing isn’t working.

Let’s address the laws government parole and early release, as well as plea bargaining.  Let’s set standards of performance for judges and parole officers that take into account the actions of people they turn loose.

Liberals have always said that only police should have guns because only police have adequate training.  What I’m about to say is NOT an attack on individual officers, on their courage, their commitment, or their integrity!  It is a comment on the doctrine, or culture, of many American police departments.  Not all!  Many. This liberal belief has two branches.  First is the idea that the police can prevent crime.  They can’t.  All they can do is take reports, mop up the blood, and do their best to catch the criminal.  The thing is, the crime has already been committed.  Even if they catch the perpetrator – which they so often do at great personal risk – the crime has already been committed.  The only way police can actually prevent crimes is if they are at precisely the right place at the right time, and even then they must wait for the criminal to initiate criminal behavior; then they can step in and keep him from completing the act.  However, who is always in the right place at the right time?  The victim.  We all know this. If the victim has a firearm and the skill and combat mindset to use it effectively, the crime may actually be prevented.

The second branch of the liberal model is that only the police are morally and intellectually capable of using deadly force, and only the police are adequately trained.  (I’ve shot with enough police officers to know that some of them, quite frankly, couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle, and some have about zero combat mindset.)  So what if we combined the fact that only an armed victim can prevent a crime, with the fact that adequate training makes police officers trustworthy bearers of the use of deadly force?

Instead of spending billions and billions on laws like SB50, why not take a fraction of that money and subsidize really good training for all citizens who (A) volunteer, and (B) can pass a real background check?  I’m not talking about a government training program!  See above reference to government-trained LEO’s who can’t shoot or keep their wits in a fight.)  I’m talking about sort of a voucher system, wherein the government would put up the tuition money for qualified citizens to become as well- or better-trained than police officers.  The government would have authority to set standards and certification criterion; after all, they’d be putting up the money.

This would not take the place of regular CCW laws.  Any citizen who can qualify for a regular CCW would still be able to do so.  Only those who volunteer for extra training and can pass the vetting would be eligible for the subsidized training.

Do you suppose that such a program might force departments to improve the training they provide?  Why not make departments eligible for the subsidy, too?

THE GRACE OF GENERAL ORDER #9

Maybe, somewhere in the post-mortal realm, there’s a campfire burning, and two men sitting across from each other, leaning comfortably against stumps, basking in the red warmth.

 Robert E. Lee says, “I’ve seen what they’ve done to your legacy, and how they’ve twisted and perverted your teachings, and, Man, my heart breaks for you. It must be awful for you to see that.”

 Martin Luther King, Jr. takes a small sip from a flask, then hands it across the fire, and says, “Yeah, It is. But it’s no worse than what they’ve done to you.”

 Lee lifts the flask in salute, takes a sip, and the two settle into staring at the flames and pulsing coals, perhaps seeing the end to which many of those people seem determined to win.

 A soft, sad voice whispers from somewhere in the ether above, “You’re tellin’ me!”

==========================================================================

As bitter as was the presidential campaign just past, and as bitter as the conflicts that have ravaged our nation in the last few years, there is no comparison to the conflict waged on a continental scale from 1861 to 1865. More than 700,000 Americans died, and entire regions of the South were rendered almost uninhabitable. The people of the Confederate States of America had fought for their independence and lost, adding to the immeasurable grief over the deaths of their loved ones, whatever sadness attended the knowledge that their dreams of political self-determination had been shattered forever, and all their valor and travail had been brought to naught.

Whether one agrees with the premises and cause of the Confederacy, one cannot deny the magnitude of the soul-crushing tragedy they suffered. If ever Americans might have been excused for bitterness and refusing to accept defeat, it was so with the people of the South in that spring of 1865. At the end, they had no political leader to guide them through it. They did have, though, General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Would that those who waged and lost their campaign for the presidency of the United States in 2016 find it in themselves to show the grace and character that Lee, who had endured things our modern countrymen cannot possibly grasp, showed in his farewell to his beloved army.

Today, 19 January, is Lee’s birthday. Tomorrow will see the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. The juxtaposition of these two events makes even more trenchant and poignant than ever Lee’s farewell to his beloved army.

My friends, I offer to you General Order Number 9.

Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, 10th April 1865.

General Order No. 9

After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.

I need not tell the survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them.

But feeling that valour and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.

With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.   — R. E. Lee, General, General Order No. 9

CHRISTMAS AND SHEEP DOGS

My mother grew up in the Texas Panhandle during the depression, and came of age during WWII.  Her dad was a rowdy, to say the least, and among her associates were oilmen, soldiers, other rowdies, and a few honest-to-spit, old school cowboys (including Henry Wessley Hyatt, for whom I am named.)

This humorous little anecdote is one of many such regarding Mom, but today, Christmas Eve of 2016, it brings to my mind more weighty thoughts.  There are threats to civilized society and civilized men and women everywhere.  I will not go into the specifics, but suffice it to say that, while some are annoying, others are very serious deadly.  In every land there are men and women who stand between those threats and the rest of humanity, ready to fight, kill, and die if necessary to protect those they love.  Some of those men and women are in uniform, but many have traded their uniforms for civvies. They have not traded, though, the vow they once made to defend that which they hold good and fair.  As I celebrate the birth of the One we call, “The Prince of Peace,” I offer this little story as a parable for all sheep dogs around the world.

On Christmas Eve of 1967, I was home on leave from the Marines, and had brought one of my pards with me because he didn’t have enough money to make it all the way home to Altoona, PA.  We were enjoying a relatively quiet evening, with a nice fire and a pitcher of a libation Mom called “Texas Gal Special,” for which she never received permission from any environmental agency.

Late in the evening, there was a knock at the door.  It was a young woman who lived in one of our apartments. The brute she lived with and beaten her up.  He’d gone out for more booze, and she took her chance to get her and the baby out of there.  She asked Mom to drive her across town to a friend’s house, where she could hide from the guy until she could get out of town.  Mom told her to go get her things together and come back.

Mom got her coat, then from the cabinet above the refrigerator took down her Colt lightweight commander in .38 super.  There hadn’t been much talking, and certainly to war talk.  She dropped the magazine out of the pistol and locked the slide back.  As she checked the magazine, she said softly to me, as I was the one nearest her, “I hope I don’t have to shoot that sonofabitch.”  “Click” went the magazine home.  “CLANK” went the slide home.

“It’s Christmas.”

She didn’t have to shoot him, the little gal got free from him, and my pard had a story to tell his Yankee friends about those locos in Albuquerque, and how you better not beat up your girlfriend around there.  A happy ending for all, because one Texas gal stood ready.

So this story is a similitude of the situation in which so many people around the world find themselves – regulars, reservists, militia, and ordinary mothers and fathers.  To all y’all who stand ready, or who sleep lightly because of the boogers, here’s a wish that no sonofabitch tries to shoot you, and that you don’t have to shoot any sonsofbitches, either. At least, not on Christmas.

Peace to you; not the world’s peace, but His Peace.

Sic Semper Tyrannis – Rebsarge

SOUVENIR OF A MAN

I spent a year on the island of Okinawa, in the South China Sea, in the late ‘60’s.  Having been fascinated by WWII in the Pacific, I spent a lot of time exploring the island, looking for signs of the battle.  The fight for the southern 1/3 of the island was a hideous, savage slugging match that killed nearly 100,000 people.  The fight for the northern 2/3 of it was more of a guerrilla action – fought by squads and platoons in ambushes and surprise attacks.  The terrain in the north is very rough and beautiful.

One day, a couple of pards and I rented a car and went touristing up north.  The battlefield maps I had were of minimal use on the modern landscape, but offered at least a starting point.  On this day, we drove up a pretty decent dirt road that wound and twisted over gnarled, white coral hogbacks and down into jungle-choked ravines that hadn’t seen the sun since before The Flood.  At one point, the road went up a flat-bottomed ravine with steep ridges on either side.  It ran straight for about 300 yards to the foot of a cliff, where it turned sharply to the left.

I knew this place!  A platoon of Marines had been ambushed here by Japanese on that cliff and in the caves in its face.  The Japanese had been driven off or killed by a Marine Sherman tank.   The Japanese held ground that was 50 feet above the Marines, who were penned in the bowling alley-like ravine.  It had been a heck of a scrap until the tank turned the tide.

We parked and walked along the road toward the cliff, looking for artifacts.  We found a few bullet jackets, and Red found a piece of a mandible.  I wanted to get to the top of the cliff, and into those caves!  There were three of them, blank, skull-eyes in the white coral face.  From the road, we could see the divots taken from the coral by the tank’s main gun, and the thought of what might be in those caves gave me palpitations!  (My friends were there mostly to enjoy my foolishness.)

It took an hour to hike around to the top of the bluff, where we found some shell fragments and more bullet jackets. I rappelled over the edge and into the first cave.  The cave closed sharply to a crack that I couldn’t crawl through.  I shined my flashlight in it, but could see only the coral walls.  I backed out and swing on my rope to the second cave.  It was a little bigger, and I found a half-dozen .50 caliber bullets in it, smashed and twisted from impact with the rocks.  Any man in that cave would have been in a veritable blender with those things bouncing around.  I swung to the third cave.

As I stepped into the cave mouth, I realized that there were no spider webs across it, as there had been with the others.  This one was much larger – high enough for me to stand erect.  The floor was very smooth, and dropped gently down for about 10 feet.  There were no bullets or shell fragments in the cave – not even the sherds of blasted coral that had covered the floors of the others.  At the rear of this entry hall, the cave made a right turn.  My flashlight led the way down and around the bend, where I stopped, frozen, almost unable to breathe.

Before me was a small room, about eight feet square, with a six-foot ceiling.  The walls to my left and right were coral, but the back wall was of clay.  Carved from the clay was a bench seat, big enough for one man to sit on with a few inches to spare.  On that bench, near left end – where a right-handed man might have placed it – was a teacup.  It was a very plain little cup – elegantly curved, exquisitely finished and glazed, with a deep blue geometric figure on one side.  It sat in perfect, tranquil repose, like a perfect stone in a perfect Japanese sand garden.  Perfect.

I stared at it for I don’t know how long, then slowly crossed the room, carefully examining where I would place each foot; some of these caves were still mined, and men had died in them recently.  In the clay and dirt of the floor I saw footprints – prints of the split-toed boots so many Japanese soldiers wore.  Immediately in front of the bench were footprints facing away, where he had placed his feet as he sat, and there, in the compliant surface of the bench, was the print of a man’s trousers.  In awe, I looked from the floor to the bench and back, and again, and noticed the print of the buttplate of an Arisaka rifle – the standard Japanese infantry rifle.  This man had sat here in the dark with his rifle at his left knee, his teacup in his right hand, and… what?  Did he have a cup of tea?  What was he thinking of?

In too many such places have I found myself in the company of too many men and women who chose not to be seen for me to think that only we mortals walk about, and in that place I felt him, and knew he was there as surely as I knew my friends were above me.  He was gentle, but very strong and quick.  He did not mind my being there, but had I not been so humbly awed and respectful, it would have been different, and I would not have enjoyed my stay.

After perhaps 10 minutes or more I stepped closer to the bench and knelt.  I thought for an instant about sitting on it, but the very thought was shocking, and I could not have taken his place.  I found my hand reaching for the teacup, almost against my will, and picking it up. He stirred, but did not object.  I took the towel from my pack, wrapped the cup in it, and placed it ever so gently back in my pack.  Still kneeling before him, I traced the print of his rifle butt, then of his boots, then lay my hand flat where he had sat. Had I possessed the spiritual acumen to pray in those days, I’d have offered up my soul in one.  But I didn’t, so after another minute or two I stood, turned, careful to not make twisting prints in the floor, and slipped out of his room.

To my astonishment, the sun still shone at the mouth of the cave.  There was one more revelation before me.

I called to my friends that I would rappel to the bottom of the cliff and look around there.  When I was down, they cast off the rope and started their hike to the road.  Eyes cast down, I carefully toed aside the creeping vines that covered the bottom of the ditch.  I found shell fragments and bullets aplenty, but nothing remarkable.  I looked up at the cliff to orient myself on the caves, and saw that I was directly in front of the third.  I looked down and there, almost between my feet, was a very smooth, round object of about a four-inch radius.  About two inches of it protruded from the earth.   It was one of the most prized battlefield artifacts – a Japanese helmet!

It was badly rusted, but not as much as one might think, given the rainy climate.  I used a knife to carefully move the dirt away from the helmet until I could see the rolled hem on the bottom edge, then pushed my fingers down along the surface and curled my fingertips carefully around the edge, and lifted.  The paper-thin steel creaked and popped as the stress of its own weight bent and bowed it.  Up it came, out of its crypt.   Crypt?  I thought.  Odd choice of words.

And then I looked into his eyes.

There was no name on any of this, and no way I could know his name, but it was him, I know it as surely as I sit here.  His skull.  It was stuck to the helmet, and came out with it, and when I tipped the helmet in lifting it, he looked up at me.  Straight in my eyes.  I didn’t scream or flinch or drop his head.  I just sat, frozen again, and stared.  It must have been a half-hour later that I heard my friends big-footing and chatting on the road.

With tears streaming down my face, I turned his helmet down and slipped it as gently as I could back into the place whence it had come.  I scraped the soil back around it and gently tamped it in place.  Then I lay my hand on his helmet for a moment and the only thing I could think to say was, “I’m sorry.  Thank you for teaching me. You have earned this ground.  I leave it to you.”  I stood, saluted, and walked away.

As my friends came up to me and asked if I’d found anything, I felt a strong urge to return the cup to his cave, but I fought it off.  I will always wish I’d done it.

That night, after I’d shown the cup to the guys in my barracks, one of them stole it, and I never saw it again.

 

A PARDON FOR BOWE?

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his appointed place of duty in the face of the enemy.  He has never denied this, and statements made before and after his desertion indicate that he did, indeed, just pack up and walk away.  That, in itself, is a capital offense in the US military.

Bergdahl hasn’t been tried before a court martial, yet, so not all the facts of the case are available to us.  In fact, it is theoretically possible that the stories of his disaffection and criticism of the US war effort are not true.  That is the purpose of a court martial – to discover and evaluate the evidence for or against the accused.   The rules of evidence are a bit different in military courts than in civilian courts, but the general principles of proof are the same.

Since Bergdahl hasn’t been tried yet, any pronouncement of his guilt or innocence is premature, or pre-judgmental. That’s an important point that I’ve never heard anyone mention in the context of his case:  any pronouncement of his innocence is pre-judgmental.

As it is in civilian courts no one but the jury can find a defendant guilty or innocent.  Citizens, or even law enforcement officials can run off at the mouth all they want to, but only the jury can convict or acquit.  Thus, Donald Trump’s remark about Bergdahl being a filthy deserter carries no more weight than the opinion of some guy at the end of the bar.  Was Trump’s comment prejudicial?  Absolutely, because not all the facts are known, even now.  Were the opinions of several million American veterans prejudicial?  Absolutely.  Does that constitute a violation of Bergdahl’s right to a fair trial?  No way.  Was Trump alone in his opinion?  Nope. In fact, he was in some pretty good company, including some of Bergdahl’s former comrades.

Likewise, were Obama’s comments on Bergdahl being a hero when he was exchanged prejudicial?  Of course. Was it known at the time that substantial evidence existed that he was not a hero?  Yes, it was.  Obama’s comments, unlike Trump’s were from the Commander in Chief of the US military, and carry much more weight.  Much more!  However, unless his comments could be considered as lawful orders to a court martial, which I don’t see how they could be, they should have no effect on the course of the trial, especially since Obama will be out of office before the court convenes.

So now comes Bergdahl and his lawyers with a plea for a pardon from Obama.  What is a pardon?  “A pardon is a government decision to allow a person who has been convicted of a crime, to be free and absolved of that conviction, as if never convicted.” (1)   Has Bergdahl been convicted?  No, he has not.  Can he, therefore, be pardoned?  No, he cannot.  The only thing Obama can do at this point is to drop all the charges against him – in other words, to say that either the evidence against him is weak, or the actions of which he is accused are inconsequential.

But… wait!  The evidence against Bergdahl hasn’t been presented, so to declare it weak is… what was that word?   Oh, yes:  PREJUDICIAL!  In other words, it would be a premature judgment, based on no evidence, to declare the evidence weak.  The other alternative is that the actions of which he is accused are inconsequential.  What about those actions?

If the evidence of Bergdahl’s statements and correspondence, which have been released already, are true, he did not just desert his post.  He defected. He went over to the enemy, and quite possibly gave them intelligence that caused the deaths of Americans.  Note, I said, if.  If he is not accused of treason, I’d like to know why.  Do we have evidence that his comments and correspondence did not say those things?  Do we have evidence that the photos of him hugging his supposed captors are fabricated?  No, we don’t.  So we are right back to the point that any pronouncement of his guilt or innocence is prejudicial.  As a freeborn American veteran, I’m quite comfortable with my prejudice.  Should I be called to sit on the court, I’ll be sure to change my attitude.

And what of the effect of a pardon on Bergdahl?  An awful lot of his countrymen believe him to be a traitor, and some of those folks are pretty darned dangerous.  There’s no way he could ever resume his former life or identity, and even if he were in Witness Protection, I bet some of the people who are convinced of his guilt are on the inside of that program, and his whereabouts would mysteriously leak out.  In short, a pardon would be as harmful to Bergdahl, and possibly more deadly, than a court martial.  Simply put, he could never prove his innocence, and would be doomed to live guilty – for a little while, at least.

Some people have been raising Cain about Trump’s remarks, and what a prejudiced jerk he is for saying Bergdahl is guilty.  Those same people, though, are giddy with the hope that Obama will declare Bergdahl innocent – people who are apparently oblivious to the fact that such action by Obama would be vastly more inappropriate – dare I say, “corrupt?” – than Trump’s 1st Amendment exercise, and not one whit less prejudiced.  Obviously, since Obama has taken no such action yet, this essay is expository of the principles, rather than any supposed facts of the case.

There has been some discussion of the possible effect of a pardon on the effect of the morale and discipline of the American military.  I’m fairly sure there are a few who would say, “If Bowe got away with it, so can I,” and they’d take off in the belief that there’d be no punishment.  However, I am 100% convinced that the vast majority of American servicemen and –women will stand fast.  They will not lower themselves to the status of deserter, at best, or traitor, at worst.  I was asked about the effect of a Bergdahl pardon on Obama’s “legacy.”  Because Mad Dog Mattis will rebuild the morale and esprit of the American military in short order, I predict that Obama’s legacy in the military will be about on par with the memory of a pimple on our butts.

 

(1)      http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/P/Pardon.aspx

CRACKERS AND MILK

Tonight’s epicurean delight is crackers and milk.  If not for this wonderful dish, I’d have died years ago, along with much of my family.  However, it ain’t as simple as it might seem.  Here are some pointers that will help you get the most from what is probably the most simple meal in the world, and, if done right, one of the most delightfully tacky.

First, your saltines need to be fresh.  Not necessarily a year before their sell-by date fresh, but they should have been sealed, and not more than a month or two in storage.  If they are old or have been open more than a week or so – or a few hours in high humidity – just open a new stack.

Second, you have to have good saltines.  This is not as straightforward as you might think. The higher-priced brands seldom make the best crackers for dousing.  (I have found that Nabisco, in particular, has very spotty quality.  Even crackers from different stacks in the same box will have totally different tastes.)  They should be salty. Salt-free crackers can be replaced in any recipe with poster board cut into squares. The very attempt to concept-ualize a salt-free saltine can lead to insanity.  I have found the most consistent saltines on the market to be those marketed by Smith’s/Krogers under their store brand.  I’ve probably eaten 30 boxes of them in the last two years, and not found a bad one, yet.  Surprisingly, Smith’s also carries an even cheaper brand, “P$$T,” (with dollar signs instead of s’s.)  They’re very nearly as good as the store brand, and have been more consistent than Nabisco or Keebler.  (I’ve no idea who actually makes the store brand or the P$$T saltines.)

Third, your milk must be VERY cold.  Colder milk will be absorbed more slowly by the crackers, so you’ll have more crunch, longer.  I use 2% nowadays, but for many years was a fan of whole milk, and found it serviceable on saltines, but it’s gotta be COLD.  (I can’t abide buttermilk, at all, but if you want to try it, let me know what you think.)

Fourth, don’t break your crackers up too small.  Go for 2-4 pieces per cracker. This takes practice.  If you break them too small, you’ll end up with dust that turns soggy very quickly.  Bigger pieces means slower absorption means better crunch.

Fifth, plan ahead.  Stage your spoon so you can begin shoveling immediately after pouring your milk.  If you will be eating in the next room, pour the milk there.  (I usually eat standing in the kitchen, but that’s just me.)  The trick is to start eating immediately, and eat steadily, but not too fast.  If you pour your milk, then go get a spoon, then carry it to the dining room, you risk soggy crackers, and at that point, you might as well eat tofu.

Sixth, when you get to the end of the stack of crackers, carefully dump the salt and crumbs into your bowl ahead of the milk.  Don’t throw that stuff away! You’ll be amazed what this will do for a bowl of crackers and milk. Frankly, I wish they’d pack saltines in smaller stacks, so I could have the salt and crumbs in every bowl.

WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

I’ve never heard of the Dunning-Kruger model, but thirty-odd years ago, I learned a model for human learning that is very much like it.
You start with Unconscious incompetence, where you don’t know how incompetent you are, and are grossly over-confident.  (“Oh, that looks easy!  I’m sure I can do that.)
 
Then you go to conscious incompetence, where you realize you just got your backside kicked. (Holy crap!  Am I bleeding?)
Then you move to conscious competence, where you can do it if you really concentrate. (I did it!  Now if I can just do it again…)
Finally, in unconscious competence, you can do it without thinking about it.  (Oh, that?  It’s a piece of cake.)
 
The problem is that around 13 or 14, most people develop this giant wall of ego (or, in some cases, a lack of ego) in their minds between unconscious and conscious incompetence. It can be brutally difficult for some to accept and internalize the fact that they are incompetent at the given task. In fact, some people never get past that barrier; they simply give up on it and go on to something they already know they can do.
 
It is impossible to teach someone something until they get through that wall!  The greatest task for a real teacher – “greatest” in difficulty and in contribution to the student – is to help the student cross that barrier so they can begin to learn.
Some people are claiming that Trump is in the unconscious incompetence phase, and he undoubtedly is, as are we all – in some fields. Hopefully, Trump will surround himself with advisers who will help him get through “The Wall.” (Do I hear Pink Floyd in the background?)  Ben Franklin said, “When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”  Let us hope for necessary men and women!
I would also submit, though, that a great many of those who castigate Trump for being in the UC phase are, themselves, in the same phase with respect to Trump. That is, they are utterly unconscious of their own incompetence in anti-progressive principles of liberty and natural rights.
Here is a link to a graphic representation of the Dunning_Kruger effect, or model:

THE DEPLORABLES’ BURDEN

As I write this, on the bright, clear morning of 9 November, 2016, I’m not sure the full impact of the presidential election has soaked in.  About an hour after all the desks and analysts had declared Trump the victor, I found myself sitting here, trying to take it in, when the relief hit me.  It was as if a physical load had been removed from my body and soul.  All I wanted to do was hold my kids.  I still crave that.

It occurred to me several days ago that no matter who won, the opposition would be expecting the very worst.  If either candidate were a tenth as bad as their opponents feared, we’d be in deep trouble.  At this point, I’m not going to compare the two, or weigh their merits or shortcomings.  The simple fact is that a lot of our countrymen face this dawn with genuine fear and disgust.

There’s an old saying that has been grossly misused, but I believe is applicable in this context:  “Perception equals reality.”  The reality, or real nature of a thing, is not created or changed by one’s perception of it, but in that person’s mind, what they perceive seems to be reality.  This trait is universal to the human race, and in dealing with others, we must keep it in mind.  We Deplorables have two monumental tasks this morning and for many mornings to come.

The first is to assure our friends and neighbors that their fears are based on false perceptions.  The media and the Democrat party twisted and misrepresented many things Trump said, and whipped up genuine fear and hatred.  For example, he never said that all illegal aliens were violent criminals.  Nope.  He never said it.  He said that violent criminals are among the crowds of illegal aliens, and that we need to identify them and get them out of the country.  Can anyone dispute that?

Trump never said he was going to deport all immigrants, nor that he’d close our borders categorically.  First of all, the President can’t do that, Obama’s assertions of “a pen and a phone” notwithstanding.   Second, Trump never said that.  He advocated deporting those in the country illegally, and enforcing EXISTING law on allowing new immigrants in.  Obama should have been doing that all along, but he, being charged with executing the duties of the office of the President, flatly refused to enforce the People’s laws.  The fact that Trump has said he would enforce the People’s laws should not be a source of fear, unless those laws are bad, in which case, the People have recourse and can change them.

When he was asked if women should be punished for having abortions, his answer was based on the assumption that such women had been found guilty of breaking the law.  It is reasonable to expect that breaking the law would be punished, but before any punishment could be meted out, a law would have to be written and approved by the Legislature, then signed by the president.  Punishments would be defined in the law.  The law (especially one on abortion) would have to pass the test of the Supreme Court.  A woman would have to be arrested and a grand jury would have to agree that a law had been broken and that a reasonable person would believe she had broken it.  Then she would have to be tried by a jury of her peers, and sentence passed, based on the wording of the law, by a judge.  The only steps in that process that involve the executive branch are the signature of the bill and the arrest. No president can just start rounding women up and throwing them in jail for having abortions.  Fear of this happening is based on misrepre-sentation of what Trump said and the willful, malicious deceit of the opposition.  (Ignorance of the law contributes significantly!)

However, that the fear is unfounded does not mean it isn’t real, and if we would heal this nation so that we may ALL move forward, we must address that real fear as if the object of it were real.

It is very difficult for me to address these issues without letting my anger come through in my words, but that is precisely what we must do.  When we see someone actually sobbing in terror, it’s not going to do anybody any good to yell, “What the hell’s wrong with you?  That crap you fear is all a pack of Democrat lies!”

We must put them at ease and reassure them that our nation has not been turned over to the Devil, and that brings me to the second great task facing us, the American Deplorables: we must make damned sure their fears do NOT come true.  Our countrymen must know that we will defend them and their rights as fiercely as we would defend our own.  Our fire does not discriminate in which tyrant it would consume, nor in which of the weak it would shelter.

In other words, we must show the sort of character that we have vocally demanded in our leaders – the same character for which we have prayed for ourselves and our countrymen. These people are scared to death we are going to begin a blood-soaked pogrom against them, and we must prove to them that we are not.

This does not mean we must compromise our hostility toward those who break our laws and threaten our homes and families.  It simply means that we must be very deliberate and judicious in our hostility.  “Judicious” is a trenchant term; we must observe at all times the propriety of our beloved Constitution, even when dealing with those who have defecated on it in the street.  Gentleness is the restraint of strength.  It is only the presence of strength that makes gentleness possible, and we must be strong so that we can be gentle with those who have done no wrong.