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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gen. Kelly Misremembers

Gen. Kelly After Charlottesville

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waded into the long-simmering dispute over the removal of memorials to Confederate leaders saying in a televised interview on Monday night that "the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War."

In the interview on Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle," host Laura Ingraham asked Kelly about the decision by Christ Church, an Episcopal congregation in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, to remove plaques honoring President George Washington and Robert E. Lee, the commander of Confederate forces during the Civil War...


The following is the full transcript of Kelly's remarks on the removal of Confederate statues:

Well, history's history. And there are certain things in history that were not so good and other things that were very, very good.

I think we make a mistake, though, and as a society, and certainly as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say, 'What Christopher Columbus did was wrong.'

You know, 500 years later, it's inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then. I think it's just very, very dangerous. I think it shows you just how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is.

I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it's different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.

Perhaps it was the fact that Henry Clay, the Great Compromiser, was no longer alive that caused this situation.
However, there was a long history of conflict and compromise. Finally, large portions of both sides of the slavery question grew tired of compromise and decided to take a stand.

It was the inability of the long period of compromise to attain a long-term solution that led to the Civil War. I mean, wasn't Bleeding Kansas born from compromise? By then, compromise that worked in the time of Henry Clay was no longer working. Another answer had to be found, and given the heat of the passions, it was obvious which way the wind was blowing.

The Election of 1860 - which, by the way, has plenty of "False News" : alarming reports of slave rebellions instigated by Northern spies (untrue as it turned out) and the foulest motives ascribed to all the principal figures in the election - was the line in the sand. The South said if a "Black" Republican were elected, then they would consider secession or outright secede. Abraham Lincoln was elected and South Carolina seceded the next month.

Compromise is not a cure-all.
It is an intermediate step to a long-term solution. The Civil War was supposed to be that long-term solution, and it was, at least as regards the Union, for no State would presume to secede nowadays.

Robert E. Lee was in the U.S.Army at the time and when Virginia finally did secede, had to break his oath of allegiance, because he felt he must support his State. His situation was a perfect description of a coherence set of beliefs which contained a contradiction, and it was only when Union was opposed to State that the contradiction became deadly.

My brother and I grew up and shared a bedroom with 2 portraits:  U. S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
I do not think I would remove either, even now.
It is complex.
It becomes more complex the more you immerse yourself into the history of the USA from the beginnings up to the Civil War.


create two lists:  trash / not to trash
and list the leaders you would put under each.

I know exactly where I would put Washington and Jefferson, and exactly where I would place Nathaniel Bedford Forrest and  Edmund Ruffin.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tax Reform: The Deficit Dust Storm Cometh

I am intrigued that Republican politicians are so very gung-ho on tax cuts stimulating the economy. They have the laboratory of Kansas under Republican Governor Brownback to look at and see the disaster his tax cuts have created.
Still, even with experimental data.... ideology precedes verification.

Whether a belief is true or not is irrelevant to its acceptance by a group. What matters is whether the belief is adequately "coherent" with the other previous beliefs the group holds.
It does not matter whether the beliefs are consistent. It does not even matter if they are contradictory. The group merely has to be able to live with the beliefs; the group merely finds them coherent, even though a belief B may be believed true under one set of circumstance - say "in time of war" - and that same belief B may be believed to be false under other circumstances - say "in time of peace".

Republicans believe that tax cuts are the remedy, even if they impoverished Kansas.

One of the excuses Sam Brownback used to explain his colossal failure was that in the early years of his plan some economic bad news beyond Kansas caused problems for the economy of Kansas.

Let's think about that.

Bad luck can always happen. Any good program ought to make provision for the rainy day, regardless of the starry-eyed faith of the ideologues.

When the USA cuts taxes, if there is a recession of modest proportions, there may be a pile of hurt. While we hurt, the tax cutters will maintain faith for a year or more, praying for rain like a Dust Bowl farmer.
Maybe rain; maybe not.

And for repatriation of corporate profits:
Adam Looney of the Brookings Institution took up the subject Wednesday, arguing that the repatriation of profits won’t help the U.S. economy because the money has already come back: “Given how we talk about these earnings, you could be forgiven for thinking U.S. companies have stashed their cash inside a mattress in France. They haven’t. Most of it is already invested right here in the U.S.”

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Memorial Day - Director's Cut

My best friend from college passed away on Memorial Day evening. I had been to Toronto the week before to visit him in Hospital. It rained most of the time. It was he who first introduced me to serious cinema.
It was not Memorial Day in Canada, but it was here and in southeastern Michigan it had rained. At approximately 7:15 pm there was not just a brilliant rainbow, but two clear, distinct, and brilliant rainbows in the dark quarter of the sky where the clouds were gathered.
I have seen two rainbows before, but never two full rainbows and never two sharp, clear arches stretching from horizon to horizon.

 (I guess the second bow was not as brilliant as the first!)

The trip to Toronto is 4 hours, but I went in the afternoon so it was 6 hours. The MacDonald-Cartier Highway, the 401, is a grumbling old moveable traffic jam from Kitchener to Toronto and I decided to get off and take Mt. Pleasant from Lawrence down to city center and my hotel. Every traffic light on Mt. Pleasant was not functioning and there were long lines of cars.
Finally I zipped over to Yonge St. and discovered that the hydro bill for the stop lights on Yonge had been paid, and schlepped my way down to Bond St.

My friend was in Toronto General on Elizabeth St just south east of Queen's Park. It is adjacent to The Hospital For Sick Children, a place where my niece had spent a good deal of time growing up: Sick Kids everyone calls it.
I do not think I had ever been inside it before. I certainly had never been in Toronto General, either. I had visited Baycrest Hospital on Bathurst, north of Lawrence Avenue, right across the street from Daiter's Deli and a bakery - whose name I forget - that had the most delectable challah bread I ever tasted.
A good way to remember hospitals might be the delis and bakeries nearby; forget the sad memories.
(Daiter's Deli is gone now. The bakery is an East Asian deli, and has no challah. I hope that it was something like its first week in business, because it had lots and lots of empty shelves, which is usually a red flag of sorts: either you are too late or something else is seriously amiss.)

The funeral was a bright sunny day and the sun baked us maliciously. My shoes hurt. I wore a white hat and did not really know anyone. It was a long trip to Toronto and would be a long trip back. Standing around the grave site, the family asked if anyone had some words to say. Two chums from DeLaSalle Prep had reminiscences, then I came up and sang "Gondola No Uta" in Japanese from the movie Ikiru.
My voice broke in exact mimicry of Mr. Watanabe's voice as he sang with tears running down his cheeks, in the snow, on the swing set in the new childrens' park... and I thought of life and Pachinko and bright lights, suddenly remembering the shots in the Pachinko arcade from the film.
I did a good job. My voice sounded pretty old, pretty sad, pretty Shimura Takashi singing about cancer and memory, there where Massey Creek flows to the Don.