Thursday, April 22, 2010

4/19 follow-up

Like I said in my most recent post, April 18th and 19th are important anniversaries because Paul Revere began his ride on the 18th and the battles in Lexington and Concord followed on the 19th. Although tensions between the British government and American colonies had been simmering for some time, those events were the straw that broke the camel's back and triggered the Revolutionary War.

I am mentioning it again because -- surprise! surprise! -- a high profile media figure misrepresented activities that were held this 19th. Because the people's right to own arms is under attack despite being enshrined in our Bill of Rights, and the Lexington and Concord battles occurred when the British military tried to confiscate privately owned arms, two gun rights groups held rallies to commemorate the battles and demonstrate their support for the U.S. Constitution. But April 19th is also the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, and Rachel Maddow used her show on MSNBC to imply that the rallies were being held to honor Timothy McVeigh.

Maddow intoned, "On the anniversary of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh, there will be two marches in Washington," and proceeded to rattle on about how they were being sponsored by gun rights groups. She never mentioned the real reason for the marches, and did not even acknowledge that April 19th marks the day of minutemen and redcoats and all that. This was five days before the date even arrived; and when it did arrive, her focus remained on McVeigh as she hosted a special about him.

Is this part of the ongoing effort by many in the media to portray gun owners as a lunatic fringe? Or was it sloppy ignorance on display, with Maddow and everyone else at MSNBC simply not aware of the centuries-old significance of April 19th? It doesn't matter. It was media malpractice either way.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Red Letter Dates

The hours from tonight through tomorrow morning mark the 235th anniversary of Paul Revere’s “midnight ride” and the battles that ensued. It is one of the most significant anniversaries in American history -- perhaps the most significant, because it can be argued that if not for the events that took place on April 18 and 19, 1775, the United States might never have come to be.

Tensions between American colonists and their British rulers were running high in those days, and while this was true in all of the colonies that would become our first 13 states, it was especially true in Massachusetts. Britain had effectively shut Boston off from the world by blockading its port and quartering large numbers of soldiers within the city.

It was believed that Britain would invade the colony en masse, so residents in surrounding towns had been stockpiling munitions to defend themselves. The British targeted Lexington because revolutionaries John Hancock and Samuel Adams were thought to be there. They targeted Concord, the next town west of Lexington, because it was rumored to have a huge stash of munitions (which they wanted to confiscate) and because it had hosted the Provincial Congress.

When British forces were detected sneaking from Boston under cover of darkness on April 18th, Paul Revere and William Dawes mounted their horses and galloped into the countryside to warn their fellow citizens. Revere departed from Charlestown, across the Charles River from Boston proper, while Dawes left directly from the city. Revere’s route was the shortest to Lexington and Concord, and thus he was the first to warn their occupants of what was coming.

The next morning, Lexington’s village green was the site of the first skirmish between the British forces known as redcoats and the citizen militia known as minutemen. The latter took the worst of it, with eight dead and ten wounded compared to just a single wounded redcoat.

The British then marched on to their primary goal of Concord. After arriving and crossing the North Bridge, nearly half of them went about securing the bridge while the rest searched for weapons. When wooden cannon mounts were found, they were set afire and before long the flames engulfed a church.

Positioned on Punkatasset Hill some 300 yards from the bridge, Concord’s minutemen had been joined by minutemen from neighboring towns, giving them a numerical advantage the redcoats did not anticipate. When they saw the rising smoke, they believed their homes were being destroyed and responded by advancing. Seeing them approach in such numbers, the redcoats retreated back across the bridge. A shot soon rang out, though no one knows who fired it, and within minutes a full-blown battle had transpired in which half the British officers were wounded.

Disoriented, the redcoats fled back toward Boston. Along the way, they fell under fire from minutemen who had arrived from elsewhere and were hiding behind fences and walls. By the time they returned to the city, they had sustained more than 200 casualties.

It was an indisputable defeat for the world’s most powerful military, delivered by ordinary people seeking simply to defend themselves against royal oppression. The example set by those people ignited the fuse of the American Revolution in such a way that it would not be extinguished. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Monday, April 12, 2010

et ceteras

My previous post opened with a mention of Barack Obama’s “tendency to stab our allies in the back,” and proceeded to deal with the innate dangers of his nuclear policy. It so happens that Charles Krauthammer has applied his sharp intellect to those issues, and I highly recommend his pieces about them. Here is his piece about the first issue, and here is his one about the second.

There are two things I have believed for a long time but never written into a single, concise post. One of those beliefs is that America’s military protection is the only reason Western European nations are able to exist as they do, bogged down by entitlements and infatuated by social policy whimsies. The other belief is that if America were to mimic Western Europe’s ways, there would be no one else to do the serious work, and therefore both we and Western Europe would crumble. Now I may not have to write that post, because Jonah Goldberg did an outstanding job in this commentary a few days ago. It is very much worth the few minutes it takes to read it.

My final post from last month talked about our trip to the Suwannee Springfest Music Festival, but failed to mention how many independent artists and artisans were on hand selling their wares. They were all following the American dream of doing what you want in your own way, and I want to take a moment to recognize two of them. Based in Jensen Beach, FL, Bamboo Groove turns thick bamboo stalks into mood lighting that is quirky and unique. Meanwhile, Evening Shade Farms crafts a surprisingly large variety of homemade soaps (and other skincare products) in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. We bought from each and recommend them without hesitation.

I know this et ceteras sounds like a litany of recommendations, and I guess that’s what it is, so I will close it by revisiting the charity suggestion I made on March 24th. As you may recall, one of my fellow St. Pete High Class of 89’ers is participating in Revlon’s Annual Run/Walk for Women, which raises funds for women’s cancer research. It will take place on May 1st and you can rest assured that any money you donate will be put to good use. To help that worthy cause, go here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Description Defied

Last night I started writing a post about Barack Obama’s recent bellicosity toward Israel, and how it is the most chilling example of his tendency to stab our allies in the back. I planned to spend much of the post dealing with the contrast between our president and Israel’s -- for example, how Obama has never faced danger, and is so self-absorbed that he considers it a hardship to be criticized; whereas Benjamin Netanyahu spent time as a Sayeret Mat’kal commando, and was nearly killed by machine gun fire at the age of 19, and has lived most of his life in a tiny country surrounded by genocidal enemies who frequently commit suicide bombings on its soil.

I went to bed planning to finish that post tonight. But before I even made it to work this morning, it was announced that Obama has agreed to the most foolish, reckless, and life-threatening foreign policy in American history, and how can I let that pass without comment?

I am talking about the changes Obama is making when it comes to nuclear arms. By now you have probably heard the most immediately alarming thing about the changes -- namely, that he is going on record saying we will not use our nuclear weapons, even in self defense and even in response to being attacked with biological weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. It is obvious that such a policy would amount to national suicide by inviting our enemies to attack us without fear of serious repercussions.

Looking for a silver lining, we should note that as of right now it is not entirely clear that Obama has agreed to that, as evidenced by this post on National Review. But that is no reason to applaud, because the policy change does include something else that is every bit as frightening and foolish, and is not in question: It explicitly renounces any development of new nuclear weaponry by America.

No doubt, many people will think that is not a big deal, and those people are sure to be found dusting off 1980’s talking points claiming we already have enough nukes to destroy the entire planet. Unfortunately, the reality is that our nuclear weaponry (which includes not only the warheads, but also the delivery systems for those warheads) is outdated and poorly suited to current purposes. Much of our weaponry has not been tested for years, and thus there is no guarantee how much of it would work if we did use it. And while our stockpiles have been aging and our development of new ones stagnating, our enemies have been rapidly designing advanced nukes that are newer and more agile.

In this environment, the president of the United States is telling the world he has no intention of giving his country the tools it needs to defend itself. By the same token, he -- the leader of the free world -- is telling the world at large that he does not have the will to defend freedom from totalitarian attack. What else is there to say?

Obama has put the entire world at greater risk than it was 24 hours ago, and endangered future generations’ chances for freedom and prosperity. Even I, who have been critical of him since before he was elected, find this morning’s news to be so unfathomable that I can not find words to adequately describe what is going on. But then again, his actions scream so loudly that descriptive words may not be necessary.