Liberal and left-leaning news orgs are happily publicizing the latest evidence of the dishonesty by the Human Stain (and his family). He has allegedly ripped off another family’s coat-of-arms and rebranded it (you guessed it) as “TRUMP.” I have a few thoughts that may prove unpopular, but here goes:
First, this seems to be a pretty venial sin compared to the heights of grifting and inept spycraft that he and his administration have reached in just 125 days in office, but okay: more evidence of unscrupulous douchebaggery. We get it!
But second, and my real point here: historians know that coats-of-arms are all bull$hit, don’t we? We know that all titles, knighthoods, and the like are all made up at some point or another, so who cares? Someone was knighted or ennobled because he agreed to fight with the king, or let the king screw his wife, or loaned him money, or performed some such base and ignoble service to the crown, and that’s it. That’s all titles and coats of arms mean! Continue reading
Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1973), Republican U.S. Senator from Maine from 1949 until her death and the subject of numerous biographies.
Peggy Noonan’s column in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, “Why History Will Repay Your Love” (sorry–paywalled!) is an extended advertisement for David McCullough’s latest book, and only secondarily an advertisement for McCullough’s totally original observations about history and its importance. (Get this! John Adams and Thomas Jefferson lived in their present, not our past! Also, “nothing had to happen the way it happened,” and “knowing history will make you a better person.”)
I pretty much agree with all of McCullough’s bromides, but this one set off my B.S. detector:
We make more of the wicked than the great. The most-written about senator of the 20th century is Joe McCarthy. “Yet there is no biography of the Senator who had the backbone to stand up to him first–Margaret Chase Smith,” a Maine Republican who served for 24 years,
To all of the very worried Democrats and Republicans fretting and rubbing their hands about the possible end of the filibuster: who cares?
The filibuster is a patently anti-democratic parliamentary tactic that should never have existed. The senate is anti-democratic enough to begin with that we don’t need to include all of these bullcrap measures that are about as timely and as fashionable as spittoons and antimacassars.
To liberals on fainting couches: have you reviewed the history of the filibuster? To conservatives huffing and puffing like the Big, Bad Wolf: go ahead and blow the senate down. You won! You get your pick for the Supreme Court! That’s how it works! That’s about all you’re going to get out President Human Stain, so enjoy your new Associate Justice of the Supreme Court–those Trumpstains probably won’t come out of your Federalist Society lab experiment, but I’m sure you’ll live happily with the shame. Continue reading
LOLsobs for political blogger and trained historian Joshua Micah Marshall, whose eight year-old son was pulled aside for extra scrutiny at Kennedy airport last night in New York:
Someone either from the airport or perhaps the TSA (I think not actually CBP [Customs & Border Patrol]) kept asking/insisting* repeatedly suggesting that the rest of the family go sit in some separate waiting area while Daniel waited in the line alone. This got me, I confess, somewhat belligerent. We all waited together, obviously.
When we finally got to the CBP officer, the fact that Daniel is eight seemed to put a pretty quick end to the whole thing. Daniel answered a few questions, was asked to sign his passport and we were off.
Recent events have made me increasingly see the CBP as something along the lines of a rogue federal agency. I have a very negative sense of the whole organization. That said, the guy we dealt when we finally got through the line with was friendly, professional and pretty chill.
We learned in a subsequent line that Daniel’s is a “common name” and what had happened was that some law enforcement or intelligence agency had put a hold on someone by that name. (I’m wiilling to believe “Daniel Marshall” is a common name; “Daniel Eytan Marshall” I’m not so sure.) And that’s how we ended up in that situation. Will this happen again if we have to return to the US from overseas? Depends. Depends on what? How long the hold is in place.
It’s nice to know the system isn’t advanced enough to cross check for age.
From the Washington Post reportage on the failure of Trumpcare by Robert Costa, Ashley Parker, and Philip Rucker, we note this peculiar detail from the Human Stain’s outreach to Congress:
He cajoled and charmed uncertain members, offering flattery and attention to some and admonishment and the vague threat of political retribution to others. He invited members to the White House for bowling sessions, gave others rides on Air Force One (complete with lasagna) and grinned for pictures in the Oval Office, where he reminded lawmakers of his margins of victory in their districts.
Do I look like a dangerous leftist to you?
. . . because they can’t complain endlessly about the “illiberal arts” majors at Middlebury College, can they? Or can they? The amount of ink they have spilled over the shut-down of white nationalist Charles Murray‘s talk there is pretty impressive, considering the shambling embarrassment of a presidential administration and the inability of the governing party to agree on much of anything. I guess there’s always the antics of a few pissed off students at an elite, private liberal arts college in Vermont, population 2,500 students, to induce panic in the ruling classes.
It’s kind of cute that they seem so fearful of us! If only we faculty were the diabolically powerful leftist Svengalis that they imagine we are. Most of us are just desperate to wean our students from fragment sentences, the bizarre use of the word “off” these days (“Based off of. . . ” What??? What is a “base?” Is a “base” something you put stuff ON, or OFF OF? Yegads, people.), and to inculcate an appreciation of the subjunctive tense as well as to pass on a little discipline-specific knowledge. (Just a little!) Continue reading
Portrait of Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814), by John Singleton Copley, 1763. In her correspondence with Abigail Smith Adams and John Adams, Warren called herself “Marcia,” and Adams signed herself “Portia.”
Do women historians exist? If we exist, do men historians know it? Going by the antics of the editors of the Journal of the American Revolution, the answer to both questions is an entirely nonsensical no! Which you must admit is pretty hilarious, especially considering that the very first historian of the American Revolution (yes, that one!) was, in fact, a lady! It’s true! Mercy Otis Warren’s Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution (3 vols., 1805) is widely recognized as the first, and for probably more than a century the only authoritative history of the American Revolution.
For a historical subfield invented by a woman, you’d think there would be a little more remembering of the ladies happening in this list of the “100 Best American Revolution Books of All Time.” You’d think that, but you’d be so very wrong. Tragically wrong, in fact. Of the 114 separate books they list, there are only 11 by women, and one co-authored by a woman. And of those 11 single-authored books by women, fully three are by the great Pauline Maier, so the list includes only ten women historians in all. TEN women, and eleven and a half books. Take that, Marcia! Continue reading
A belated Valentine to all my readers!
Oh, my friends: so much is happening globally, nationally, regionally, locally, and even here at the Black Cat Ranch that it’s hard to find time to blog even just one little bit these days. My apologies! Over the weekend I saved up some bits and bobs of oakum, old yarn, and loose string that might distract you from that sense of impending doom that weighs on so many of us these days. Who knows? It might help, and it surely can’t hurt, right? So, andiamo, mi amici–
- First, a request from a reader, Catherine Devine, who writes: “I’m designing a ‘NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED’ banner, and I want to have the names of women across time, occupation and location in the background. Esther Wheelwright’s definitely there 🙂 I have the beginning of a list, but I’m white and not a historian. Your readers are sane and and well informed. I’m looking to politics, art, science, literature – anywhere. There will be plenty of room on the banner. If you’re willing, please have people send me names & references to catherinedevine at mac dot com with ‘Persisted’ in the subject line. I’m hoping to create one of the only footnoted banners ever. Oh yeah, I’m not doing this for profit. I will share the file for printing.” Readers, can you help? You can also leave suggestions in the comments below–I’ll be sure to let Devine know when this post goes live so she can check in there, too.
Hey–remember all of those stories that were written at the depths of the Great Recession back in 2008-2010 about “the high cost of higher education,” warning young people not to waste their time or money on college degrees because all of these elite university grads from the 1970s and 1980s were confident that higher ed was now just a scam to pick the pockets of the middle class?
Remember that? Well, that bubble has burst–not the “higher ed bubble” that conservatarians and right-wingers and the entire Wall Street Journal editorial page team have been predicting, but rather the bubble of the “higher ed bubble.” Behold, I opened my copy of the Denver Post this morning to read this headline:
“The pay gap between college grads and everyone else is now wider than ever.”
Who ever would have predicted??? Continue reading
The New York Times apparently has an inexhaustible supply of so-called liberals who are baffled and enraged by any criticism of their views by the so-called “left.” Desperately worried that Yale’s 2015 Halloween memo has faded into distant memory, they publish Lionel Shriver’s complaint that young people criticized her opinions on social media! As the kids these days say: Srsly!
When I was growing up in the ’60s and early ’70s, conservatives were the enforcers of conformity. It was the right that was suspicious, sniffing out Communists and scrutinizing public figures for signs of sedition.
. . . . .
As a lifelong Democratic voter, I’m dismayed by the radical left’s ever-growing list of dos and don’ts — by its impulse to control, to instill self-censorship as well as to promote real censorship, and to deploy sensitivity as an excuse to be brutally insensitive to any perceived enemy. There are many people who see these frenzies about cultural appropriation, trigger warnings, micro-aggressions and safe spaces as overtly crazy. The shrill tyranny of the left helps to push them toward Donald Trump.