GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Thursday, December 20, 2012

WoooHooo...made it!


So, this year I gave myself a pretty ambitious goal of reading 30 books by December.  I thought this would be a stretch but achievable, so away I went and I am gratified to say that I made it!  Yes, with only a few weeks left, I made it...with the caveat that 9 out of the 30 books were fiction.  Which is a little more than I like, but hey, those pesky Hunger Games books were hard to put down.

I finally took the plunge into e-reading this year since Amazon offered all the Hunger Games as $.99 downloads when the first movie came out.  I must say it was pretty weird reading a book in hardback, on my iPhone, and my iPad...yes I was that hooked I actually squinted at my iPhone while sitting in a doctor's office.  ANNND, sorry I am still pretty much a Luddite when it comes to books, I like the feel, the turning of the pages, flipping to the maps and illustrations...at some point, I could see carrying around the complete JD Robb collection on my iPad...(hmmmm), but history books...not so much.

If I had to rate the fiction, I would have to say I enjoyed the Monster Hunter book the most...of course I love all the Monster Hunter books....the new Vince Flynn was really good...and of course, JD Robb never disappoints.

Of the non-fiction, they were all good, although I must say I enjoyed the Citino books the most.  Nearly all of the recent World War II history has been from the Allied point of view, and his books were a refreshing new look at the Wehrmacht as a fighting organization during some pivotal years of World War II.  In particular his look at the fighting in 1943, a year under examined by historians, offered some fascinating insights into how the Germans were able to keep fighting after the war was clearly strategically lost.

The most surprising book was the Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution.  Given the turmoil in politics the past four years, most of it caused by ignorant politicians of both parties that would not recognize the Constitution if it bit them in their very wide butts, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learned and how well the book explained the context and background of how our Constitution was created and truly what the Founding Fathers INTENDED each part of each clause to say and mean.  Unfortunately, it became clear that although our Founding Fathers all clearly understood what they were trying to do, they did not take into account the stupidity and scheming of their progeny.  The Commerce Clause and other little known, but key provisions in the Constitution, which are continually used and abused by Progressive Liberals to ram through things like Obamacare are simply and clearly explained.  An excellent little book that should be required reading in our public schools, but alas, I guess it's more important to read Heather Has Two Mommies instead.

So, I will rack up 2012 as a successful year...now on to 2013.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A forgotten anniversary- with a personal touch.

December 16 marked the 68th anniversary of the Germans 1944 Ardennes Offensive, popularly known to Americans as the Battle of the Bulge.  Given the tragedy in Connecticut..including the media circus and usual idiocy of the progressive left, it was probably forgotten...well, as most of American history is forgotten by an electorate and citizenry who seem to think following the Kardashians constitutes a mentally rigorous activity.....but I digress.


Fortunately for those of us whose brains have not turned into a Storage Wars, Survivor, and Bachelor watching pile of Progressive Liberal mush (free stuff....give me free stuffff), there has been some excellent writing and scholarship on this battle, which has a very personal meaning to me.....

George Patton, A Giant Of A General At The Bulge

 Green Troops Grew Up Fast to Become Heroes of Hofen

 Ardennes Offensive Begins, an “Abysmal Failure of Allied Intelligence”

My personal connection is very meaningful (yes, the Grouchy Historian does have feelings).  My godfather, Roy Lindemann, was a member of the mythical Greatest Generation, and a young 18 year old paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne in World War II.  That's right, at the age that Baby-Boomers were dropping acid and dropping out, and Millennials were whining that their Xboxes weren't working, my godfather was serving his country in the freezing winter of 1944-1945.  The funny thing is he NEVER talked about his service, even when I went off to Annapolis and thought for a brief time of becoming a Marine officer.  Oh, there was that interesting Christmas during either my plebe or youngster year that I received a box of his old army patches and pins, including a Combat Infantryman Badge that I immediately recognized, but he never said a thing about his service...and I knew enough not to ask, or when I did was brushed off with a couple of non-nondescript sentences about being a company clerk.

This continued until he passed away in 1995 from pancreatic cancer.  I was unable to attend his funeral because we were in the middle of a medical crisis with my daughter, but shortly after he died, my mother called and asked if I wanted his medals.  Being polite and a historian, I replied, "Sure, that would be great."  Little did I know, that my mother, being the bulldog that she is, had petitioned her Congressman, and both Senators from Oklahoma, to have brand-new medals sent to my godmother, and eventually me.  I was grateful to receive them and proudly display them in my home today.




Yes, for anyone who pays attention, that is  Bronze Star, Purple Heart and three campaign stars on his European Theater of Operations medal, meaning he fought in three separate campaigns.  After he died, I remember my parents talking about Roy's drinking and how he was a lifelong alcoholic.  I can't help but speculate whether his drinking was tied to his military time, as so many World War II vets lived with undiagnosed and untreated PTSD, including the war's most decorated soldier, Audie Murphy.

So, as the final members of the World War II generation fade away to the mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, let's remember their sacrifice, both on and off the battlefield.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' "  Matthew 25:21

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

End of the Year Post- Buyer's Remorse?

Well, we come to the end of another year...oyyy and this one went just as fast as any of them.  As your friendly Grouchy Historian contemplates the last year, politics of course springs to mind.

As noted in my previous post, you should never take me to Vegas to break the house, cuz it just isn't going to happen.  I predicted the American people still had some common sense, or at least basic survival instinct and I was wrong...they voted for Santa Claus a little early...and the election of 2012 went into the history books.

I would say that particular post elicited a very lively conversation with an unknown progressive liberal, always fun and enlightening...especially the part about me overreacting...hmmmmm

SO, at the risk of making predictions and overreacting again...here it is...Part Deux.  Why? Because it is fun, makes me think...AND gives me something else to write about in December 2013 if the Mayans or zombies haven't killed us all.

I decided to use some predictive metrics, since that sounds so much cooler than wild-assed guessing and go with 100% certain, likely, possible and wild cards...just for fun.

Let's begin:

100% Certain
  • The US economy is going to stay in the crapper.  This is a no-brainer:   
But the annual average growth is forecast to be 2.1 percent, slightly less than 2012's projected annual average 2.2 percent...The annual unemployment rate will likely be an average 7.7 percent, down from this year's forecast annual average 8.1 percent, which is down from 2011's annual average 9 percent, the survey said.  
These are abysmal numbers that would likely get a Republican tarred and feathered daily by the drive-by sheeple media...but hey, in Obama's Amerika this is the new normal...and don't forget that 7.7% number is total BS, the real unemployment is likely to remain above 10% (use the U6 number from the Bureau of Labor..or in Amerika, the Bureau of Cover Obama's Butt with made up numbers)....numbers FDR would be proud of... what will be fun to watch is the media make up more "unexpected" and "unprecedented" surprise noise when the economy continues to produce bad news...all of which will be continued to be blamed on George W Bush.  Although it seems incredulous to those of us with eyes, ears, and a brain, Teflon Obama will continue to dodge responsibility for his over-regulation, crony capitalism, and dead weight of Obamacare..I mean seriously look at the mess he has inherited from the last four years!!

  • Obama and his allies in Congress will gut our military and work as hard as they can to make us a 2nd rate power because gosh isn't it horrible that America is a superpower and Zimbabwe is not?
The ONLY and I mean ONLY thing Progressive Liberal Democrats (the 2012 Democratic Party) like to cut out of the Federal budget is defense and intelligence spending.  This is nearly as built into their DNA as raising taxes and social welfare spending (otherwise known as building the Democratic voter base).  What most Liberal Progressives DON'T want to remember is that Dear Saint Bill Clinton made most of his miracle budget balancing happen on the backs of the US military.  Not to say he wasn't forced into some pretty remarkable stuff like welfare reform by Newt and the Republican Congress (said reform now being gutted by Obama) but for the most part Clinton balanced the budget by cutting our military.  Obama would no doubt love to do the same. Probably the only way to avoid this would be for the US military to unionize as part of SEIU.

Likely
  • If no "fiscal cliff" deal is reached, there will be much blame, talking heads, and finally some sort of crappy deal to try and get us to the 2014 election cycle.
 What amazes me here is, again, the sheeple of the lame stream media not getting the fact that Obama DOESN'T want a deal....at all....no way...no how...He wants EVERYONE'S taxes to go up, spending to go up...and hey, that whole debt thing?  That is so 2017 and someone else's problem.  The Democrats really are the Santa Claus of politics...put every one's goodies on a credit card...spread them around (you know how good they are at spreading sh--) and leave the adults to pay the bill in January...or in this case January 2017, when Obama goes on the million dollar speaking circuit...hmmmm wonder what kinda tax rate he will pay.  Of course, sequestration will impose some pretty decent spending reductions--especially in whose hallowed social programs, with the added bonus that Obama can dodge responsibility for them and blame EVERYTHING on Congress...which is, of course, the number one goal of narcissistic, whiny little brats- Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations.  Now, of course, they will say "Hey, those meany poopoo head Republicans put two wars on a credit card" and all that blather...and they will have a point...Republicans from 2000-2008 were not fiscally responsible.  BUT, would any sane, rational, ADULT human being actually say:   "Well, they did it too....so we get to do it more...neeener, neener."  Seriously?  Where are the grownups on Capitol Hill?  In either party?

  • The Middle East will muddle along, while underneath the surface, hatred for the US will grow.
Although I actually agree with President "They love me, they really love me" that Syria is not worth the bones of one American soldier, I am not so sure the Turks or Europeans will avoid dragging us into that mess.  Of course, a selected group of Delta Force and Seal Team 6 guys might be needed to keep the Syrian chemical weapons out of the hands of Hezbollah or Al Qaeda, lest the Israelis do it, but for the most part, I have no problem with Sunni knuckleheads killing Shia knuckleheads.  Harsh?  YUP, but practical...call it Iran's Vietnam...unfortunately, there is little good the US can do now...when Assad falls, there will be huge massacres of the losers by the winners, followed by an endless insurgency, all of which can hopefully be contained.  In the meantime, I expect Egypt, Turkey, and Iran to begin some sort of anti-Israeli nexus that can only end badly.  What the Arabs don't seem to get is you don't screw with people who have nothing to lose.  Clearly someone needs to deliver a good history of Masada to Cairo, Ankara and Tehran...likely the first three targets of the Israeli nuclear force...ya think?

  • The US will beat feet out of Afghanistan...slower than we skedaddled out of Iraq, but with no less horrible consequences.
I will give this to Barrackus Maximus...he absolutely kept two campaign promises of his Presidency...or Emporership...he ran our troops out of Iraq and he raised taxes.  Iraq of course, was the centerpiece of Obama's first term...pulling our troops out without any sort of Status of Forces agreement...saying adios to Iraq, and watching chaos ensue.  So, you think Assad could have lasted this long if a couple of squadrons of American fighters were able to keep Iranian arms from overflying Iraq to Syria?  Hmmmm, let me think.....Now, with bombings occurring weekly and a new Iraqi-Kurd war possible, what exactly is Obama's long term strategy for Iraq?  As far as I can tell....nothing....nothing....get the hell out of Iraq nothing.  Unlike the 7th century cesspool that is Afghanistan...Iraq had potential to become a decent American ally...maybe even a long-term counterweight to Iran and Egypt (irony of ironies)...but not now...now it appears Iraq is likely to slowly drift along to become a vassal state of Iran, if it doesn't sink back into another civil war....way to go Joey and Bammy.

And coming right behind...Afghanistan.  Here Obama became the victim of his 2008 campaign rhetoric that Afghanistan was the "Good War" so he couldn't immediately abandon the campaign there...but anyone with any knowledge of history (again) could see he wasn't serious about "winning" whatever that meant.  Obama went through the motions of a Surge...except he didn't send as many troops as the commander wanted...pulled them out early...and telegraphed when we are leaving.  I dare say George Patton would not agree with this strategy.  But hey, those dollars can better be spent on Obamacare and "nation-building at home"  whatever the hell that means.

Possible
  • The media will actually do their job and fairly and honestly investigate and report on Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the debacle of the "Green Energy" companies and the massive voter fraud of the 2012 campaign
Ok, I was just kidding....I figure I have a better chance of getting to shoot the SI Swimsuit cover photo as this is likely to happen.  But hey, a guy can dream right?


  •  China pushes too far and an "incident" occurs in the waters off China
This actually makes me pretty nervous.  For the past year, the Chinese and Japanese (or as I like to say the Hatfield's and McCoy's of East Asia) have been posturing over some little known islands called the Senkakus in the East China Sea.  This is a lot of chest thumping "mine is bigger than yours" type of stuff, but it has the real potential to get ugly fast.  Add to it the fact that China has been very pushy in the waters off their coast lately and there is a real potential for things to get ugly. What will (or could) the U.S. do?  This, of course, is the big question.  Obama has talked about a "rebalance" to Asia. But what does that really mean?  Especially if (when) the budget ax falls.  The Pacific will be all about ships and planes, two very expensive defense items to buy, maintain and operate.  More importantly, given how Obama has treated our traditional allies like Britain and Israel, will Malaysia, Singapore and Japan trust us?  This could be the key question of the next decade of American foreign policy.


Wild Card
  •  Israel bombs Iran when they find out a nuclear test is imminent.
This also scares me a lot...see comment about Masada above.  I know Obama has put huge pressure on Israel not to bomb Iranian facilities and let sanctions work, but I am not sure the Israelis, after the kerfuffle in Gaza, Egypt's devolution, Syria's implosion and Hezbollah's strengthening, are going to stand-by and let Hezbollah's primary ally and sponsor get nuclear weapons to put together with North Korean missiles (yup, that whole Axis of Evil 2.0 thing...).  Maybe they will, but I don't know.  Unfortunately, by themselves, the Israelis probably can't put a serious dent in Iran's nuclear program, and it's almost a 100% prediction that Obama doesn't want to fight a serious war with Iran which might interfere with pumping more cash into the coffers of the UAW and SEIU.  Of course WHEN Iran does get the bomb, look for the Middle East to become the Balkans a la 1914...a powder keg waiting to go off and trigger a wider and potentially more devastating war....just sayin' forget the world looking like 1933...I think it's looking more like 1913....more on that later.............

  • Mexico goes to hell in a hand-basket, creating a Somalia or Iraq or Afghanistan...pick it..right on our border.
This is my ultimate black swan sorta scenario...unlikely, but a real game-changer for US politics, security, and pretty much everything.  Having a country on our very porous and undefended border that is de facto controlled by drug cartels..and with an Administration and political class unwilling to defend our borders is not only a nightmare for Texas, Arizona, etc..but it could force major changes to US domestic politics...in very unpleasant and unforeseen ways...


SO, there they are...read 'em and laugh or weep.  I consider myself pretty well informed and very well read...and I really have no clue how bad things will get before January 2017....or even if they will get better after January 2017.  The ultimate nightmare is that the U.S. becomes Wiemar Germany...but I feel pretty darn certain in saying that the miracle bounce-back of the U.S. economy is NOT going to happen while Barrack Hussein Obama is in the White House...


Of course, miracles do happen...and if they do...so much the better....but I wouldn't count on it...strap in, keep your heads down...and keep your friends close and your enemies closer....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Final Brain Candy of the Year

So, here is my final brain candy read...and final book of the year.  Castle is one of my favorite TV shows and I read the first couple of Heat books just to see how silly they might be...and was pleasantly surprised that they were actually pretty good mystery novels.

Of course the entire time I was reading them, I was watching a Castle episode in my head, so that might have been why I liked them so much...and of course there was the obvious tie-in to the recent season of TV mysteries to make things interesting.

When I got this book after waiting patiently on my local library reserved list, I was intrigued, since the recent season of solving Becket's mother's murder was the obvious fodder for this book. 

It doesn't disappoint.  No spoiler alerts here, but I had absolutely NO idea what the heck was going on for half the book...then when the mystery began to unravel, I was waiting to see who the mystery killer was....and then BAM...surprise twist that I didn't see coming (although I probably should have in retrospect) kept me turning the pages.... 


 OK, small spoiler alert..I was counting down the pages as I raced to the end...thinking to myself  "Wow, there aren't  a lot of pages left to wrap this up"...then I got that feeling of dread...which became my worst nightmare....ARGHHHHHH.....CLIFFHANGER.........TO BE CONTINUED...OYYYYYY, I really hate that....

Needless to say, the witty banter, familiar characters (although the names were changed to protect the innocent) and fast narrative made this a delightful finale to my reading list in 2012.

Except, of course, for the whole annoying wait until next fall for the (I hope) concluding novel of this story line....curse you Richard Castle....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

MORE Brain Candy--The Best Yet

I have to say, like many of his fans, that I was very distressed to hear that Vince was fighting cancer the last year or so.  Fortunately for us, he is doing much better and has written a fantastic new Mitch Rapp book.  It was delayed many months but well worth the wait. 

I have been waiting for the next book in the sequence, as it were.  The last two Mitch Rapp novels were "prequels" and although I liked them a lot, there was not as much tension as his other books, since you knew clearly that no major characters could die since they had to show up in the later books.  Although from a story line perspective it was interesting to see how Mitch developed as a varmint killing bad-ass, there wasn't as much suspense or mystery to them.

THIS book, of course, meets all those needs.  From the very first page, Vince takes you on a ride that lasts until the very end.   He opens with an outstanding first line--"The four dead men were lined up on the living room floor of the safe house.  Mitch Rapp started with the one on the left."  Oh yea, it's game on from there baby! No spoilers here, just be assured you will be asking yourself- who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, do things seem straightforward or is there duplicity and double dealing?  (DUH). 

And most important--how is Mitch going to smite those evil terrorists and do-gooder knuckleheads that get in his way?  Needless to say, there is a very satisfying ending to all those who would stand in Mitch's path.

In my humble opinion, of the Brad, JD and Vince brain candy books I recently read, this is by far the best.  Vince's characters are a little less invincible than Brad Thor's and a little more bad-ass than JD Robb's.  I have to say that Vince doesn't have quite the secondary characters that either Brad or JD does, and there is no witty banter between Mitch and his co-workers or enemies, but then again I think Mitch would rather shoot you than talk to you--must be a guy thing.  Needless to say, if Mitch Rapp had been in Benghazi, there would be quite a few more dead terrorists laying around....

I sincerely hope Vince is able to stay healthy...I hope to have many more Mitch Rapp novels in the future.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

A singular part of American history has been the Thanksgiving proclamation of U.S. Presidents.  These have been particularly poignant during times of war.  

Here are some of the finest in American history, starting with Abraham Lincoln in November 1863, a particularly bloody year of war with over 100,000....yes 100,000 casualties from the titanic battles of Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and dozens of other battlefields, great and small. I have taken the liberty of highlight some particularly interesting phrases I doubt you would hear a modern President use.

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

And of course, you can go further back to our 1st and greatest President George Washington as well.

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Go: Washington
 Hmmm, I can only imagine the apoplectic frothing rage if one of these were issued today.

Our current President makes a nice, fluffy proclamation...but to me, it seems to lack the vigor of our forefathers...
On Thanksgiving Day, Americans everywhere gather with family and friends to recount the joys and blessings of the past year. This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives. As many pause to lend a hand to those in need, we are also reminded of the indelible spirit of compassion and mutual responsibility that has distinguished our Nation since its earliest days.
Many Thanksgivings have offered opportunities to celebrate community during times of hardship. When the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony gave thanks for a bountiful harvest nearly four centuries ago, they enjoyed the fruits of their labor with the Wampanoag tribe -- a people who had shared vital knowledge of the land in the difficult months before. When President George Washington marked our democracy's first Thanksgiving, he prayed to our Creator for peace, union, and plenty through the trials that would surely come. And when our Nation was torn by bitterness and civil war, President Abraham Lincoln reminded us that we were, at heart, one Nation, sharing a bond as Americans that could bend but would not break. Those expressions of unity still echo today, whether in the contributions that generations of Native Americans have made to our country, the Union our forebears fought so hard to preserve, or the providence that draws our families together this season.
As we reflect on our proud heritage, let us also give thanks to those who honor it by giving back. This Thanksgiving, thousands of our men and women in uniform will sit down for a meal far from their loved ones and the comforts of home. We honor their service and sacrifice. We also show our appreciation to Americans who are serving in their communities, ensuring their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay. Their actions reflect our age-old belief that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, and they affirm once more that we are a people who draw our deepest strength not from might or wealth, but from our bonds to each other.
On Thanksgiving Day, individuals from all walks of life come together to celebrate this most American tradition, grateful for the blessings of family, community, and country. Let us spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 2012, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

I mean sure, it talks about community, sharing, caring, and thankfulness, but it seems a little uninspiring to me...much like most recent political speeches from whatever party and candidate...

Sighhhhhh, I guess there's only one thing to do...drown my sorrows in turkey gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Brain Break...JD ROBB

These books, are, of course, my ultimate guilty pleasure...I mean really, what kind of Grouchy Historian reads {gasp}...romantic suspense?  ME, and if you don't like it....tough.

Ahh, well, 35 or so books later, the crack addiction continues.  Yes, I loved this book, yes I waited very impatiently at the library for my copy.  SAY, here's an awesome idea...how about JD (AKA Nora Roberts, queen of the romances) put ALLLLLL the JD Robb books together as a hugemongous Kindle download....THAT would be totally AWESOME...

But I digress.  This book had a wonderful twist, really interesting science and the outstanding secondary character byplay, witty dialogue and mystery I love.  As an aside, I have to say, as an author writing a futuristic series, Nora really is becoming, in my opinion, an accomplished science fiction writer....why do I say this?  Well the futuristic technology is seamlessly molded into the story, without taking over the story, if you know what I mean.  The characters are "ordinary" people, who live in a future with interesting technologies, but face the same human conflicts Homer would write about...THAT is good science fiction--the science facilitates, but does not take over the story.  In this volume in particular, I really enjoyed some of the back story of the "Urban Wars" that figure some prominently in the background of all of these volumes.  In my opinion, there are a couple of books just WAITING to be written about Summerset or even a young Roarke in the aftermath of those wars (hint, hint).  Kinda of like the really outstanding Remember When crossover book...(hint, hint, wink, wink)

So, here's what was maddening, and yet enticing about this book...I was reading the mystery, which our hero babe, Eve Dallas seemed to have solved with an interesting story line and investigation, but I was saying to myself..."wow, there still seem to be a lot of pages left."  Then, BAM, plot twist, the HOLY SH-- where did that come from angle... and another satisfied read completed.  Just  goes to show, Nora (JD) is still at the top of her craft and can pull off the plot twist with seaming effortless ease.

Well played, Miss Nora....now for the next six month wait....

Oh, by the way....35 volumes...how freakin' incredible is that.....I am muy impressed....and hooked....argh....

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another Brain Candy Break- BRAD THOR...

Ahhh, the library wait list....anticipation at its finest.  At last I got the new Brad Thor and enjoyed it a lot.  I will be honest, it took me a while to get into the book, and I was kinda wondering where it was going, but once Thor gets you...he keeps you...turning pages....into the night...until your eyelids droop...just .....one....more...chapter...

To be honest, I think Brad is going to have to really come up with some new material for his next book...not because this one was bad...but a LOT of plot occurrences happen...which I won't tell you about because that would spoil the book...but I can safely say that his main character Scott Harvath doesn't have a lot of friends left at the end of this book.

Brad creates another really, really scary and plausible plot and his action scenes are very well done.  AND, of course, I was one of the people who LOVED his Athena Project book...and hope it continues as a series (wink, wink) and I was really hoping for some kind of Harvath cross-over, which this book does...kinda...in a teasing, leaving me wanting more manner.

A fantastic contribution to my serious attempt at reading 30 books this year...yes I counted this book, just like I did those crack cocaine Hunger Games books....it's all good. 

My new quadripartite of reading goodness seems to be JD Robb, Brad Thor, Vince Flynn and Larry Correia....so far I have finished two...JD Robb is in progress....waiting for Vince....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review: A Military History of World War 2? Hmmm

The Second World War, A Military History. By Gordon Corrigan.  New York: Thomas Dunne Books , 2011.  ISBN  978-0312577094.  Notes.  Bibliography.  Index. Illustration.  Maps. Pp. 672.

So I got this book for Christmas last year and just got around to reading it...and I will be honest, I am not sure what to make of it, therefore, the logical thing to do is break it down into the good, bad, and disappointing.

The good:  For the novice student of World War II, this is an excellent overview survey of the war.  It is comprehensive without getting too bogged down in the details and does a good job of trying to cover every theater of the war, including some of the more neglected fronts like the Russian and China-Burma-India theater. Corrigan writes with a very easy to read style and offers some interesting insights.

The bad:  For a grognard (see below) or serious student, it breaks no new ground and offers no real insight.  The author, a former British soldier, also throws in a few too many little personal anecdotes for my taste,  AND as usual, there are not nearly enough maps for me, especially for those little covered theaters where the geography may not be as well known to even a World War II grognard such as myself. 

The disappointing:  First, Corrigan gives short shrift to the air and naval wars, and to be honest I kinda skimmed over that chapter.  He might as well have left it out.  Ditto his chapter on the home front which didn't really seem to fit a book on the "military" history of the war.  Mostly though, I have to say I was expecting a little more of an operational and tactical history.  Corrigan does a good job of writing at the operational level, and does offer some analysis of the capabilities of the German Wehrmacht versus their British, Russian and American opponents.   

I think the book would have been improved tremendously if Corrigan had included a little more detail on how each army fought on the tactical level, particularly highlighting how each army conducted combined arms warfare and the amazing ability of the Germans to use Kampfgruppes to keep shattered formations fighting effectively.  A cogent analysis of this kind would have been especially useful to show why the Germans were so much more effective on a tactical level until very late in the war.  More emphasis on tactics, training, and doctrine of the various armies would have made this a much better reference type book--if that was the author's intention.  

There has been a lot of scholarship done on the operational and tactical capabilities of each army, so why Corrigan didn't use some of that, I don't know, but I think his book would have been better if he did.

Final word:  For a newbie- buy this book, it is an excellent introduction to this great conflict. For the experienced student- Nothing earth-shattering, but a good read to maybe direct you in some new areas of studies. 
=================================================
 
grognard m (plural grognards)
an old veteran soldier; specifically of the grenadiers of the Imperial Guard (Grenadiers à Pied de la Garde Impériale); an old complaining soldier

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Pop History? Political polemic? Maybe, but not bad.

I got this book for Christmas last year...when Glenn was pretty much on top of the TV news show and opinion world..before he told everyone at Fox News and New York--"You all can go to hell...I'm goin' to Texas" or words to that effect.  Oh, and hey, how did Glenn do on his "predictions"...I would say he did as good or better than most "professionals" when calling the Arab Spring a disaster for the U.S., Israel, and very likely world peace...but I digress.

OK, before all you liberal, lefties, and PROFESSIONAL historians start to snicker...think about this.  Why are the most recent best sellers in history written by Bill O'Reilly?  and Glenn Beck?

Good question...love him, hate him or simply despise him, Beck has built a multi-media empire by giving Americans what they want...a little upbeat pop history that does not denigrate our Founding Fathers as a bunch of racist, elitist, misogynist white males.  I know it is SHOCKING and DISTURBING to today's multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, wymyn's issues oriented historians, but America was founded by those same white guys, imperfect as they were.

Anyway, this book is good, certainly for a novice or young reader...and GASP, it throws in some of the moralizing Beck is known for on his TV series...but no crying, thank goodness.

Actually Beck does a pretty darn good job on the straight history part of the book, using some excellent sources and relating some of the lesser known stories about George Washington---like the Newburgh Conspiracy {look it up}, to show just how pivotal he was to not only winning our independence from Britain, BUT keeping it through the tumultuous period of forming our republic, drafting and ratifying the Constitution and serving as our first President.

Along the way, Beck's little tales of morality are not too heavy handed or overly preachy and if you subscribe to the Great Man theory of history, he makes a convincing case that the United States we are today...or at least were until November 6, 2012, owes a huge debt to the character, ambition (if that isn't a dirty word anymore) and sense of duty exhibited by George Washington.

If you are a conservative homeschooler, I would definitely have your high school student read this book. It's fairly quick, not to complicated or detailed, and should make every young person think about what they can contribute to their neighborhood, town and country. Besides being a community organizer, of course.

Is it a typical biography? Nope, but that's okay, because biography is the one genre of history that I have never really enjoyed or studied. But it is a tale of America's Cincinnatus, that should be a model of decorum,
honor and service for our youth to emulate. Unless of course, America's education system thinks Che Guevara and Mao are better role models...which hey, I'm sure some of them do.

As a small example of Washington's wisdom, here are a few of his Rules of Civility:
 

  • Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
  • Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
  • Strive not with your Superiors in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.
  • Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.
Sadly today we teach tolerance instead of civility.....acceptance instead of virtue...which is too bad...we could use a few more men like George Washington...



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why I don't go to Vegas...and some history.

So, to begin....I was wrong....wrong, wrong...don't ever take me to Vegas wrong.  I assumed (and we know what that means) that the American people wanted opportunity, individual liberty, religious freedom and prosperity.  Instead it turns out....they want free stuff.  Yup, free contraceptives, free abortions, free health care, free cell phones, free puppies and free unicorns, all of it paid for by evil, greedy rich people.

SO BE IT.  If the idiots in 7 of the 10 wealthiest counties voted for Obama, then HAVE AT IT BABY.  Raise their taxes...hell do it all, raise income taxes, capital gains taxes, interest income taxes, dividend taxes...have at it...if the chickens are stupid enough to vote for Colonel Sanders...give them what they want.   OR even better, I like this idea...let's tax the wealthy on their ASSETS instead of their income...I personally think this is a fabulous plan...it will snare all of those limousine liberals and Hollywood morons and make them pay their FAIR share.  After all, here in my county we already do this...it's called the Virginia Personal Property tax.  I LOVE the idea of John Kerry and the Kennedys paying taxes on their yachts and toys.  AND those big Malibu mansions filled with expensive cars, the personal jets, fancy yachts...$$$$$ baby, cha ching.

Ok, so Obama won...the Dems keep the Senate and the Republicans keep the House.  Here is where my old friend "The Law of Unintended Consequences" kicks in.  You know, the law that states:
A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse), such as when a policy has a perverse incentive that causes actions opposite to what was intended.
What do I mean by this?  Well, let's review the liberal progressive plan put forward by Obama that's going to (at least they think) kick into HIGH gear for his second term:
  • Obamacare:  The cornerstone of Obama's tenure and THE WET DREAM of liberal progressives for 100 years- the nationalization of American health care.  OK, so Obamacare fully kicks in sometime in 2014.  Everyone has health insurance, birds are singing...and liberals think that everyone gets Cadillac healthcare for Hyundai prices right?  Sure, just like they have in England.  Will it work?  Sure...if you don't have cancer, heart disease or any other serious illness that requires advanced treatment.  And those pesky death panels?  Yes, they are coming...let no one tell you differently.  The only way to keep costs down is to RATION services.  Listen, I was in the military and had socialized medicine.  It works great...until you have a serious chronic illness...then you get the treatment THE GOVERNMENT proscribes..period...no questions asked.  OH, and if you are an hourly worker...well-- you're screwed.  Since Obama is not a dictator (as much as he would like to be...like his buddy Hugo Chavez), small business will simply cut workers' hours to stay under the mandate.  The complete lunacy of the left to think that small business will simply roll over and agree to commit business suicide is laughable, except for the fact that it will have real consequences for real people.  Will America become a nation of part-time workers?  Well, for those low-skill, or liberal arts and wymyn's studies majors.....YES...it will.  Good luck with that all you college kids that voted for Obama...and four more years of 8% unemployment and 2% GDP growth....

  • Taxes and sequestration:    So for all those idiots in Virginia, California and other states with big defense industries...HAPPY NEW YEAR...you're about to get screwed as well.  Will Obama and Congress let sequestration happen?  YES...I believe Obama will. And here's why....if sequestration happens, he gets to gut the Pentagon...another long-term progressive goal...make America weak and dependent on the UN, EU, EI-EI-O for our defense.  And hey, if a little bit of entitlements get cut, so what?  Obama can avoid ALL responsibility and blame Republicans---and his allies in the media will push that narrative.  Cadaver Harry Reid has already said Social Security is off the table, so what's the point of any serious budget negotiations?  If you don't FUNDAMENTALLY change Social Security and Medicare...every other piece of the Federal budget is meaningless for real deficit reduction.  MAKE NO MISTAKE, the Democrats could care less about balancing the budget, reducing the deficit, or keeping America from becoming Greece.  ALL, and I mean ALL they want to do is raise taxes on the wealthy...it's in their DNA, it's their solution to any problem, and it is their sole purpose for existence.  And guess what?  It won't solve a damn thing.  The government could CONFISCATE 100% of the wealth of the top 1% and it wouldn't do jack to our debts or deficits.   As long as Social Security and Medicare are left untouched, the United States is fiscally doomed, doomed, doomed.  OH, and here's a funny note....remember all those Latinos, Black, and YOUNG folks who voted for Obama?  Whaddya think is gonna happen in 10 or even 20 years when or IF they ever get a job, move out of mom's basement, get married, try to buy a home and discover that to pay those PROMISED and SACRED benefits to all those retired WHITE Baby Boomers their payroll taxes are gonna skyrocket because China won't loan us any more money and the Fed can't print anymore?  Hmmm, that could get interesting....and don't kid yourself...our children and grandchildren may actually throw grandma and grandpa off the cliff in 20 years when they get handed this crap-sandwich.

  • Foreign Policy:  Obama will also achieve his goal of closing Gitmo and bringing the remaining terrorist killers to America for incarceration in a Federal pen...at least until the lawyers come out, wanting to try them in civilian courts...that will be awesome to watch.  Oh, and that whole pesky Benghazi thing?  Well, I believe the media will continue to collaborate closely with the White House to sweep that under the rug like they did Fast and Furious, and sadly, they will likely succeed as the drama of the "FISCAL CLIFF" comes to dominate the news cycle.  Those four dead Americans and the likelihood that the Obama Administration was arming jihadis in Syria will not be fully investigated.  So the Middle East will continue to simmer until Iran detonates their first nuke sometime before 2016.  Will this mean WWIII?  Well, probably not initially.  Obama will put EXTREME, EXTREME pressure on Israel not to bomb Iran.  Again, MAKE NO MISTAKE, Israel will suck it up and not risk antagonizing Barrack HUSSEIN Obama and really finding out if Obama will stand by them.  Of course, this is irrelevant.  Unless the mullahs are completely mad (not out of the realm of possibilities) they know the Israelis have the capability to blow them to hell, even if it is their last great act of defiance, Masada style.  The more worrisome aspect is that Saudi Arabia, Turkey or even Egypt will want the bomb as well, and there will be a Sunni-Shia Arab arms race.  Won't that be wonderful?  Wahhabi Saudis and Shia-lunatic Iranians with nuclear weapons aimed at each other.  How's that Nobel Prize on Obama's mantle looking now?

As for me...well, I will soldier on, keep my family together, try hard to stay employed and ride out the situation....by 2016...if America still exists, then maybe we can try again to restore fiscal sanity to our country.  I guess one good thing...Hillary is toast.  Unless Obama's America becomes the socialist, collectivist utopia the progressive left thinks...she stands no chance at the Presidency.  WHEN the second Obama recession kicks in during late 2014 (right after Obamacare..coincidence?  I think not), maybe America will wake up and come to its senses that free stuff is not really free.  

As Margaret Thatcher said:  "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

The current situation for Ronald Reagan conservatives such as myself reminds me of the beginning of the Overland Campaign of 1864. 

Seriously, you thought there would be no military history in this blogpost?

In early 1864, the Army of the Potomac moved into Northern Virginia to face Robert E. Lee in what the Union thought was a sure-fire plan for victory.  U.S. Grant, now commander of all the Union armies and victor of Vicksburg and Chattanooga, had an overwhelming numerical advantage and was confident of victory.
However, it didn't quite work that way.  Lee, still the master of the tactical maneuver, met Grant's army in a wilderness very near Chancellorsville, site of his greatest battlefield victory and pummeled Grant's army for two days.  The Army of the Potomac was stunned as Lee's army conducted relentless assaults.  At the end of the battle, the army went on the march...and the dispirited Union soldiers expected another retreat.  Instead, something else happened.

Both flanks had been badly bruised, and [Grant's] 17,500 casualties in two days exceeded the Confederate total by at least 7,000. Under such circumstances previous Union commanders in Virginia had withdrawn behind the nearest river. Men in the ranks expected the same thing to happen again. But Grant had told Lincoln "whatever happens, there will be no turning back."

While the armies skirmished warily on May 7, Grant prepared to march around Lee's right during the night to seize the crossroads village of Spotsylvania a dozen miles to the south. If successful, this move would place the Union army closer to Richmond than the enemy and force Lee to fight or retreat. All day Union supply wagons and the reserve artillery moved to the rear, confirming the soldiers' weary expectation of retreat. After dark the blue divisions pulled out one by one.


But instead of heading north, they turned
south. A mental sunburst brightened their minds. It was not another "Chancellorsville ... another skedaddle" after all. "Our spirits rose," recalled one veteran who remembered this moment as a turning point in the war. Despite the terrors of the past three days and those to come, "we marched free. The men began to sing." For the first time in a Virginia campaign the Army of the Potomac stayed on the offensive after its initial battle.
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom
 Grant did not give up, and neither should we.  America will come back, however painfully...and the so-called "mandate" for social progressivism will run its course.  We need to pray, take care of our own, and articulate our principles with firmness, dignity and courtesy, no matter how much it pains us to appeal to those who disagree with us.

Grant himself said it best.  “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obama's Last Ditch Throw

While I compared the first Presidential debate to Napoleon's masterful victory at Austerlitz, the last two debates seemed more like the final German Offensive of World War I.



In early 1918, the German war effort was nearing collapse.  Much like the Obama campaign, the Germans were exhausted, mostly bankrupt, and without any new ideas on how to win.  The Germans had spent hundreds of thousands of troops in 1916 waging furious trench warfare against the French at Verdun, attempting to wear down the French with grinding attrition warfare.  The Germans were nearly successful in breaking the will of the French Army, and indeed, in early 1917, the French Army (in typical fashion) nearly disintegrated under German pressure.


Like the German campaign of attrition, the Obamabots spent millions of $$ trying to paint Romney as a mean, stiff, boring old white guy.....and a Mormon!  You know, some weird cult that launches suicide bombers, throws acid at school girls, and hangs homosexuals...oh, wait that's the OTHER quirky little sect located mostly in the Middle East and North Africa.

But, like the Germans, the Obamabots shot their bolt, and like the miraculous stand of the U.S. Marines at Belleau Wood, Mitt Romney survived...and began his own counterattack at the first debate.
Obama, nearly as dismissive of Romney as the highly experienced sturmtruppen were of the Marines, was completely surprised, shocked, and defeated.  Like the Germans of early 1918, this was probably Obama's high water mark--and much like the oceans he was going to heal and recede, Obama's campaign has been in decline ever since.  The situation for Obama has gotten so bad that he tried to play military analyst at the last debate and probably opened himself up for even more Internet memes and ridicule for his "horses and bayonets" stupidity than he did defending Big Bird.  Romney was absolutely right about one thing...Obama has a record, it totally sucks, and nothing he can do or say about "raising taxes", "Investment in green energy" or, "economic patriotism", amounts to anything...what the hell is economic patriotism anyway?  I sure don't see Hollywood stars signing over 90% of their inflated paychecks to the government...does that make them traitors?  Well, probably Jane Fonda and Sean Penn....maybe Michael Moore....even Oliver Stone. 

NOW, Obama and his fellow travelers face the prospect of huge election defeats and have resorted to outright voter fraud and other dirty tricks to try and steal the election....yup STEAL the election....hopefully the groundswell will be enough to ensure the democRATic army of lawyers doesn't change the votes like they tried to do in Florida in 2000.  (YES, I believe that)

SOOO, where do we stand and what do I think?
  • Obama has no new economic ideas.  He is a committed socialist, redistributionist ideologue who KNOWS that all he has to do to fix the economy, reduce the deficit, and become the greatest President ever is to RAISE TAXES....so don't kid yourself folks, Obama wants ALL the "Bush" tax cuts to expire...not just the ones on "rich" Americans, but ALLLLLL of them.
  • Obama doesn't want sequestration to be undone.  Yup, forget his nonsense from the last debate...Obama wants to be able to avoid, avoid, avoid any and all responsibility for making adult and difficult decisions.  The Man-Boy President figures if sequestration goes into effect ALONG with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts it will do three things 1)  It will bring down the deficit, 2) He can gut the military, which ALL democRATs love to do 3) When social programs take the hit, WHICH THEY MUST to have any chance to reduce the deficit in a meaningful way, he can BLAME, BLAME, BLAME Congress and those meany poo-poo head Republicans.  Oh, and he probably thinks there will be enough money to fully implement Obamacare which will now cost at least twice as much as the bull-**it numbers (Obama's favorite phrase) that we were originally told.
  • Obama will get more angry, say more stupid stuff ANNNND, most interestingly, the democRATic party appears to be moving to cover his butt...at least for now...I mean seriously, now the NYT is gonna throw Bill Clinton, patron saint of the modern DemocRATic party, under the bus? Nope, no schadenfreude from me on this....I love it...I always said Bill is all about Bill....and Obama was a fool to trust him...do you really think the Clintons have forgiven and forgotten 2008?  There's a reason people still talk about the Hatfields and McCoys...Hillbillys know how to hold a grudge.
  •  IF Romney wins, and wins convincingly, I expect the entire DemocRATic establishment to run away from Obama like he's a hooker at a convent...he will be shunned, shunned, shunned.  Don't get me wrong, he'll make millions as one of those evil greedy 1%ers he loves to hate, move to his new house in Hawaii...closer to his Indonesian and Kenyan family members, no doubt.    BUT he will become persona non grata for the next four years as the Clintons execute their counteroffensive to retake the DemocRATic party and prepare for Hillary's 2016 run.  Assuming of course, that the whole Benghazi thing doesn't completely blow up in their faces.  Although I expect the Lamestream Media will immediately circle the wagons around Hillary if Obama loses, I hope the new Republican Congress (including the Senate :) will began hearings, subpoenas, and some Frog-walking of people.  OH, and there's still that pesky Fast and Furious crap that seems to be subsiding way too fast for my tastes....
So, that's where I think things stand with less than two weeks to go...soon, very soon, I will make my own prediction....like the great Sarnac...of how the election will turn out....and yes, tasty beverages may be involved....but none of Obama's favorite recreational drug, I assure you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Abraham Lincoln- Tyrant or Savior of the Union?

With the upcoming release of Steven Spielberg's new biopic on Abraham Lincoln scheduled for this fall:


which is primarily based on Doris Kern Goodwin's really outstanding book Team of Rivals:

the debate over Lincoln resumes once again.

Abraham Lincoln remains one of the most controversial Presidents in American History.  So, as someone who LOVES a controversy, I cannot resist weighing in... Was Lincoln a tyrant or savior?  The President who preserved the Union or a dictator who ruthlessly crushed the 10th Amendment and state's rights?

First, let's look at the Lincoln as dictator theory.  I am using two books as sources here, both of which can be accused of being neo-Confederate in their outlook, although that's not a fair characterization.  Each of them attempts to portray Lincoln as trampling the natural right of secession and causing an unnecessary war to strengthen the federal government to either a) protect the industrial north or b) destroy those pesky Southern planters or both.

So, here are the basic themes both books have in common:

1)  Lincoln was a racist who cynically signed the Emancipation Proclamation but didn't really care about the slaves.  (Mostly true)  HOWEVER, Lincoln like many other Northerners probably concluded that slavery as an economic system was on the way out, and if it could be contained to the old South would probably die a natural death as industrialization and the mechanization of agriculture began to move into the South.  Truth be told, Lincoln, like many abolitionists was a little hypocritical.  While they wanted the slaves free, that didn't mean white Northerners wanted them as neighbors.  In contrast to the whiny victimization industry of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, there was a genuine current of racism running through American society prior to the Civil War.  Lincoln was very clear that he had no desire to end slavery where it existed, but was determined to prevent its expansion.  This was not something Southern "fire-eaters" could accept, so the path to war was laid.

2) Lincoln wanted war.  (Not True)  Lincoln most assuredly did not want war and there was a concerted effort to seek political compromise prior to Fort Sumter.  Neither book talks about the Crittendon Compromise, probably the most concerted effort to avoid war.  The fact of the matter is, the central issue of the day--the expansion of slavery into the territories was NOT going to be resolved politically.  Again, in my opinion, the southern slaveholders, whose primary source of wealth was not their plantations or crops but their slaves, was looking at the writing on the wall, so to speak, and knew that unless slavery infinitely expanded, it was going to collapse as an economic system and ergo, so would most of their wealth.  It all comes down to the $$$$$...not politically correct but nonetheless accurate.

3)  Lincoln wanted to vastly expand the role of the Federal government at the expense of the states.  (Unknown).  Yes, that's a weaselly answer, but I was not convinced by DeLorenzo's argument that Lincoln was an eternal Whig who wanted to trample on states rights so he could build the transcontinental railroad.  Yes, there were actually debates in the 1840s and 1850s on the role of the government in "pubic improvements" and spending tax dollars on "infrastructure" projects (sound familiar), but I find it hard to believe any sane person would launch a war in order to advance their pet political projects.  Yes, I said that.   

4)  Lincoln was a dictator that trampled the Constitution (Hardly).  Yes, this is the most controversial statement.  Both authors think that Lincoln acted like a dictator, throwing people in jail without a trial, controlling or muzzling the press, and waging war on Southern civilians.  I have to say that in my opinion, these gentlemen interpret history very differently than I do.  FOR ONCE, I will say that the Civil War was an unprecedented situation in American history, with a large part of the population duly in rebellion against a FREELY elected government.  Maybe not the one the South wanted, but I could snarkly say that if the Democratic Party had not split into Northern and Southern wings, Lincoln may very well have lost the election...ponder that for a second.  As I will show below, the Constitution is kinda vague on dealing with a rebellion and would seem to grant the President pretty wide latitude.  Now these authors will say that only Congress can suspend habeas corpus, and technically they would be correct, but given the state of Congress in the early parts of the war, and the speed (or lack thereof) of communications, it is not unreasonable for Lincoln to have taken action and let Congress catch up...which is pretty much what happened.  Did Lincoln take some extraordinary acts?  Yes..was he a dictator?  Hardly..as I will argue below.

So, now that we have heard from these sources...and I will debate them more later, let's see what the Constitution actually says about the powers of the President to deal with a "rebellion."  As I pointed out in an earlier post, the actual language in the Constitution is pretty vague and does not deal with a lot of specifics except for the Writ of Habeas Corpus, which is pretty clearly spelled out and appears to give the government pretty wide latitude in suspending it.
CONGRESS
Article I, Section 8:  To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
Article I, Section 9:  The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
Article I, Section 10:  No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
THE PRESIDENT
Article II, Section 2:  The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States                                         
THE SUPREME COURT
Article III, Section 3:  Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
So, what were Lincoln's views of government, the rebellious states and most importantly, how should persons in the Confederacy be treated, especially military officers and political leaders?

This is not an inconsequential questions as there were Congressmen and Senators that took a more severe view of the South than Lincoln.  The so-called "Radical Republicans" wanted to not only crush the South politically and economically, they wanted to try the senior Confederate leadership, including President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee for treason.  Two interesting articles tell of the eventual resolution of these matters after Lincoln was assassinated.

Secession, Salmon Chase, and the Treason Trial of Jefferson Davis


Lincoln's own words were much more conciliatory and politically savvy. Considering the aftermath of most civil wars from 1700-2000, where the vanquished suffered mass executions, economic ruin, and often ethnic cleansing, the American Civil War ended with an almost miraculous reconciliation within a generation (shown by the fact that both former Confederate and Union generals commanded troops in the Spanish-American War). Most of the credit for this must go to Lincoln, who instinctively knew that a military victory must lead to political reintegration of the south to avoid a long festering sore of an American "Irish Problem" with never ending political violence, insurgency and upheaval.
The Confederate leadership in late 1860 and early 1861 seemed to make decisions almost entirely on emotion, without a lot of regard for the political consequences. Fort Sumter was probably the greatest blunder of all. The Union garrison would likely have surrendered by 15 April without a shot being fired due to a lack of supplies. But the South opened fire, rallied the Union, and launched the war that led to the end of the antebellum South.

It must also be remembered, that by most contemporary accounts, the North may have won the war, but the South won the peace, and, at least for 100 years after the war, most of the history. I am no great proponent of the "
Lost Cause" school of history, but the fact that books like The South Was Right! can still be written today shows that the Confederacy continues to stir strong emotions. The whole period of Reconstruction would present a fascinating case of a successful insurgency where a militarily defeated force nonetheless manages to win the political fight by reinstituting segregation, the political dominance of the WHITE SOUTHERN DEMOCRATIC party, and racial inequality for nearly 90 years. Now I am no touchy-feely liberal, but I would not have wanted to be a black man in the early 1900s South. It does of course kind of annoy me that the modern DemocRATic Party can so successfully whitewash (so to speak) the role of their party in slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, segregation and the opposition to the civil rights movement. But that's another blog post.

SO, this Grouchy Historian will say that Lincoln, while imperfect, was the savior of the Union. I cannot imagine the chaos, despair and anarchy if the South had successfully seceded. The thought of a modern day Balkans in the United States makes me cringe. I think Lincoln did quite well under the circumstances in keeping the country together, ending slavery, and putting America on the path to the country it is today.

AND, if you want to talk about trampling the Constitution and expanding the powers of the Federal government at the expense of the states and the 10th Amendment, I would look more toward Woodrow Wilson, FDR and the turn of the century progressives. Whatever Lincoln did pretty quickly faded into the Gilded Age of American industrialization....what FDR did is STILL haunting us today....but that's another blog post.....

HINT-- Glenn Beck was right on the money...if a little emphatic for some people's sensibilities...