Tuesday, September 12, 2017

William F. Buckeley vs. James Baldwin, 1965

Posting this here so I don't forget to watch it. And thanks to Bari Weiss in the New York Times for including this video in her article about Ben Shapiro visiting Berkeley.


Friday, September 1, 2017

How would a points-based immigration system (RAISE) predict the future?

I sent this to the Daily Post but has not appeared. At any rate.

Editor

In her Daily Post letter attacking a county proclamation supporting immigrants, Lisa Shin states that "...The RAISE Act would establish a skills-based points system and place a responsible limit on permanent residency for refugees..."

What I would be curious to know is how such a system would predict the future. For example, my grandfather and grandmother came over from Italy with few high level skills. Perhaps their most important skill was getting on the boat and then surviving Ellis Island. They raised five kids, one of whom was my mom. I recall, when staying with my grandmother as a kid, her commenting while canning the produce from my step-grandfather's orchard and garden,"grandpa and I were in the iron and steel business: I would iron and he would steal". She taught herself English (and Polish, since it was a mixed immigrant neighborhood) and had a wonderful sense of self-depreciating humor.

Grandpa died young in a motorcycle accident, leaving grandma to raise the brood. Their five kids grew up to be two WW II veterans, one of whom was an Army Corps of Engineers technocrat who worked on the Mount Morris Dam in Western NY after returning from the Southeast Asian Theatre. One worked on rockets as an electrical technician down at White Sands Proving Ground near Alamogordo after returning from battles in France and Germany. Younger brothers Joe and Al became well known musicians in New Orleans and Florida; Joe was one of the pioneers of be-bop. My mom was a legal secretary, singer, and social worker in Buffalo.

As far as my step-grandfather Mike, another Italian-American immigrant who worked in an auto plant and annually raised an acre of produce? His nephews (his brothers immigrated with him) became MD's.

I have one brother, a high tech guru, who was invited to be on President Obama's IRS Oversight Board and another who is a white collar supervisor with the Erie County Water Authority.

So it seems to me that what my grandparents may have lacked was opportunity in the old country, rather than innate talent, based on their kid's success. So unless these RAISE Act programs can somehow predict the future, I would wager that had such programs been functioning in the early 20th Century, we might have been short several WWII veterans, some musicians, a raft of doctors, and other variously-talented riff-raff. Just from my family alone. As far as "Making America Great Again" I think my barely-educated grandparents, if they are looking down at their offspring, have nothing for which to apologize.

Admittedly, its hard to predict if someone will be a success or a bust once they are here in the US, but suggesting RAISE will help rather than hurt the nation is speculation at best and arrogance at worst.

Khal Spencer, Ph.D.
Trying to keep up my Italian-American family's tradition of not being a slouch.




Wednesday, August 30, 2017

If the Black Shirt Fits, Wear It


Sent to the New Mexican.

Sacha Pyle asserts the "alt-left" is a fictional designation.  I suspect by alt-left, people are referring to the motley crew of social justice warriors who have christened themselves "antifa", dressed out in battle gear and black, and who have been demonstrating, violently, during gatherings of the alt-right (added later: and against centrists and fellow leftists, even). These leftist warriors far more resemble Mussolini's blackshirted squadristi than anything I recall from the Civil Rights era of the last century, where peaceful tactics not resembling paramilitary assaults gained important ground, defeating violent adversaries by using the tactics of King and Gandhi.

The antifa should look at history. In the 1920’s-30’s era when left and right wing mobs fought in the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain, things did not go well for social justice.

Finally, if one is going to ape one's opponent's bad behavior, there is a good chance one will be tagged with a similar moniker. Hence alt-left.

"...calling radicals the “alt-left” is mischievous, tarring those fanatics with their ideological rivals’ brush. But as Communists and Fascists showed, the political world is round. If you go too far left or right, you meet in the anti-democratic land of intolerance and violence." -Gil Troy, Professor of History, McGill University, in the Time article linked above.

Antifa, USA
Selma to Montgomery march

Squadristi, Rome

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Letter Leaked to Mutts: How County Council Is Trying To Destroy American Values

Letter leaked to the North Mesa Mutts by a dissatisfied former member of The Nationwide.

"Lisa Shin's letter about the upcoming County Council vote on an immigration resolution clearly understates the case against this terrible document. Indeed, the Council is lock, stock, and barrel in conspiracy with the shadowy group, Nationwide, that seeks to end America as we know it.

Locally, that resolution is the tip of the iceberg and if left unchecked, further Council actions will have huge effects.  Huge effects. Among the other resolutions lurking in the shadows of Council subterfuge are ones that will:

1.      Dissolve the Los Alamos Sportsman's Club, force existing and past members to clean up deadly lead pollution, and repurpose this DOE land to be a condominium complex for illegals. These illegals will be given free bus rides on Atomic City Bus, at taxpayer expense, to undocumented jobs in the four county area (Los Alamos, Sandoval, Rio Arriba, and Santa Fe).

2.      TA-21, aka DP Site, will be cleaned up and will be a staging area for the mass transfer of illegals throughout the Southwest.

3.      All women in Los Alamos will be required to wear Birkenstocks and prohibited from shaving their legs.

4.      An excise tax will be put on all meat products sold in Los Alamos County for the purpose of forcing people to become vegans.

5.      Water in Los Alamos will be fluoridated. Will be fluoridated.

6.      Finally, the National Lab will be stripped of its national defense mission. Scientists will be forced to weave baskets to be distributed to the deplorables in the South, Rust Belt, and Appalachia.

We should be thankful for folks who expose these evils, which are at the heart of trying to Make America Un-Great Again. As a former president of Nationwide who has been reprogrammed by accidental exposure to Cobalt-Thorium G, I have seen the light. Please stop this resolution.

Sincerely

Lance Protractor

Former President Pro-Tem, Nationwide Citizens to Undermine America"


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

War and Other Historical Memorials Aren't Created Equal

Memorial in Frank Ortiz Park.
The camp was at what is now the 
Casa Solana residential area
(N. Mesa Mutts photo)
 Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.

Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.

Two years, ten years, and the passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.
Grass, by Carl Sandburg

 There is quite a bit of uproar over the de-emphasis of United States Civil War monuments to Confederate generals and other CSA warriors. Neo-Nazis and folks still fighting The War Between the States are marching in (tiki)torchlight parades, occasionally battling leftists with fists and other semi-lethal objects (and occasional lethal weapons like cars). This all over the symbolism of  monuments of Confederate heroes and current efforts to sanitize the South of its Lost Cause mentality. The debate is leaking over into New Mexico, where we have our own issues with statues vs. historical oppression.

Juan de Onate y Salazar, Conqueror or Criminal?
With foot attached
Photo Advanced Source Productions
  Presumably, our difficulty in putting the Civil War (or other conflicts) behind us is because some of the underlying issues around these conflicts were never completely resolved and have been overprinted with modern  identity politics, as recently demonstrated in places like Charlottesville by white nationalists and their friends. Hence our inability to let go of the past, which we drag around like Jacob Marley's chains--something we forged during our nation's life.

Jizo lives in our yard in Casa Solana
to honor and remember the 
Santa Fe camp internees 
(N Mesa Mutts photo)


Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and others may have been pretty keen military tacticians and in most situations, no less honorable soldiers (with the exception of incidents like Fort Pillow) than their adversaries, but they were fighting for a pretty rotten cause. Grant and Sherman may have been just as ruthless in war (Cold Harbor was a senseless Union sausage grinder and Sherman's March to the Sea presaged 20th Century economic "total" warfare), but Grant and Sherman were fighting for the winning side. The bottom line is that in our Civil War, States Rights and then secession were being used in the service of slavery. One would think that would be enough to put those Lost Cause heroes to rest quietly even if they were damn good and brave soldiers. After all, Irwin Rommel, Heinz Guderian, and Erich von Manstein were great military leaders but all their leadership did was prolong the carnage of World War II in the service of Hitler (Rommel was forced to commit suicide after he was implicated in the July 20th plot against Hitler, Guderian fell out of favor with Adolf, and Manstein was eventually convicted of war crimes). Indeed, there were many other excellent Werhmacht generals. We don't see statues of them although no military history is complete without their stories. If only that Germany had more lousy generals...
Dead at Stalingrad, 1943. 
Anyone for a hero's statue?

Some memorials are to things we would rather forget but should not. The bronze plaque in Santa Fe overlooking Casa Solana, shown above, is a memorial to the colossal mistake Franklin Roosevelt made in signing Executive Order 9066, which put innocent Japanese-Americans in internment camps for the duration of World War II all because of prejudice and wartime hysteria. We have been toying with repeating that mistake.



Kamehameha Statue in front of 
Aliʻiolani Hale
Wikipedia source
 Hawai'i (where I lived for 14 years) is an interesting case. Most residents know where all the political bodies are buried. There is an imposing statue of King Kamehameha along with streets named after both Hawaiian rulers and haole colonizers such as Sanford Dole.   An undercurrent of debate still goes on regarding the sins of the past but at least when I lived there, no one was toppling monuments or painting over street names. Maybe we can get along if we study the Fiftieth State. When you live on a small island in the middle of the Pacific, you either learn to get along and deal with differences or I suppose, you throw each other off of cliffs (e.g., the Battle of Nuuanu).

Monument to Soviet Tank Crews
 Prague, 1961 (Wikipedia source)
 The Czechs had an interesting approach to their own revisions of history. Rather than obliterate one particular memorial or fight  over it, they mocked it.


The Red armies liberated Czechoslovakia from the Germans during the spring of 1945 and promptly put up their own war memorial in Prague; the tank on the stone base in the picture was in honor of the Soviet armor that first reached the city. As time went on and especially after the 1948 Communist coup, that tank became the symbol of the Soviet boot on the Czech (and Slovak) neck. Following the 1989 Velvet Revolution it was painted pink and eventually had a middle finger added in fitting tribute to the misery inflicted on Czechoslovakia by the Soviet government. The tank was moved permanently (except for occasional trips back for special occasions, as seen below on the barge) to a military museum rather than sitting in the national capitol. During one period, a pink tank was buried partway in the ground as an art-in-life symbolism to the fall and attempted rise of the USSR. The idea was not to forget the past but to put it in a moving context.
Pink Tank temporarily returned to Prague, 2011
complete with middle finger of fate
(Wikipedia source)
Maybe those Czechs have a point that should not be lost on Americans.

 I don't think it would go over too well to dress General Lee up in a pink tutu and mock Traveller, but you get my drift. Sh*t happened. How we remember and learn from it says far more about us than it does about our historical relatives. Pulling down the structural barriers to equal opportunity in this country is a lot harder than pulling down statues. Maybe that's why some seek the easy path.

But we need to move on, albeit without erasing the past. As George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". I might add, those who do not understand and resolve the mistakes of the past are more likely to blindly repeat our many past mistakes. Perhaps those who want to pick fights rather than reach peaceful resolution over statues or other cultural issues like Entrada in Santa Fe forget how toxic such disputes could become.  I think Carl Sandburg might agree.

Related reading: "Preserving the Offensive in Memory", by Sterling Grogan (in the New Mexican).

Russia rising again? Or sinking into the earth?
(Wikipedia source)

Monday, August 7, 2017

New Mexican: Shooting Straight Means Hitting The Right Target


The New Mexican editorial "Shooting Straight Matters in New Mexico" criticizing a Federal concealed carry license (CHL) reciprocity bill didn't do the subject justice. This topic is a red herring to New Mexico's gun violence problems.

New Mexico accepts CHL permits from 24 states. Of the contiguous states whose permits we accept, Texas has a live fire requirement while Arizona and Colorado do not; classroom instruction also varies.  But more to the point, our gun violence problem is home grown. Untrained children, gang members, revolving door felons, disgruntled spouses, and others are our gun violence poster children. There are few if any, out of state zip codes on those mug shots, regardless of a state’s CHL requirements. 

Two laws that would reduce gun crime in New Mexico (it takes more than gun laws to reduce gun crime) are first, a set of incentives and requirements to ensure secure gun storage. Lax storage is a major conduit (via theft) of guns to illicit purposes and a significant cause of childhood accidents. If widespread gun ownership is coupled to lax storage, this creates a target-rich environment for gun thieves. Second, passage of a domestic violence/gun restraining order bill such as the one Gov. Martinez vetoed. In third place is a background check requirement when selling a gun to someone you do not know.

"May issue” permitting should be off the table. Our standards for concealed carry in New Mexico are tough but fair and transparent while "may issue" permitting lacks basic due process protections. Imagine, when renewing your driver's license, having all the paperwork in hand and a clean driving record. The DMV administrator denies your license request because traffic is too congested and in his opinion, you don’t have a good reason to drive a car. "May issue" permitting is arbitrary and capricious.

Finally, training in the safe handling and use of firearms, and knowledge of self-defense laws, are inseparable from carrying a gun in public. That's my objection to this Federal bill: the "race to the bottom" lack of proficiency requirements is inappropriate.  My CHL instructor Mike Grimler commented in the New Mexican: "...I firmly believe that anyone who incorporates a firearm into a personal self-defense plan...assumes a huge societal responsibility...and, part of that responsibility incorporates firearm knowledge, knowledge of use of force laws, and demonstration of firearm marksmanship and handling proficiency, which can only be attained through comprehensive and extensive training..." Mike, with his comment, shot a rhetorical bullseye.

Some compare CHL to driver's and marriage licenses, i.e., states recognize each other's driver's licenses while Obergefell requires states to recognize each other's same-sex marriage licenses. Universal CHL could be accomplished with thoughtful consensus requirements. But with gun politics so polarizing, such a solution is unlikely. Thus, either a federal law or court order is the only solution to changing the crazy quilt status quo of who can carry where in the United States if we desire to do so. 

The bottom line? Deadly force should be the absolute last resort in confrontational situations. Guns should never be America's Maslow's Hammer when resolving conflicts, whether they be personal or political issues. That has to be the bottom line. 

Finally, for an example of just plain inappropriate even if Constitutional, go here.