So About Kavanaugh (UPDATED)

Last night President Trump announced Brett Kavanaugh as his pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. So what do I think about Kavanaugh?


It is an underwhelming choice

He’s no Merrick Garland, which is good. But he’s no Neil Gorsuch, which is bad. I would have preferred Judge Don Willett from the 5th Circuit or Judge Kethelridge of the 6th.  Someone who be a strong advocate of personal rights and stop the erosion of the rights guaranteed in Bill of Rights (including the unenumerated ones in the 9th). Kavanaugh is not that and is very much a justice in the John Roberts mold. Read his dissent in Seven-Sky v. Holder, 661 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir 2011) and you see how simpatico he is with Robert’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 US 519 (2012).

In Seven-Sky, Kavanugh saw the mandate in Obamacare as a tax (despite everyone involved in the bill’s passage clearly stating it was not) and arguing the Court could not even consider the case until the law went into effect (post-2012 election) citing the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867. (That holds Courts cannot hear pre-enforcement challenges to the assessment and collection of taxes).

Kavanaugh is certainly not a civil libertarian and will continue upholding the steady erosion of the 4th Amendment thanks to our continued misguided drug war. So,….wait, what? Sen Chris Murphy wants to chime in? Ok

CT Loon

Well, I guess, Kavanaugh won’t be that bad.

Murphy really does want to be known as the Stupidest Man in Government. There is nothing to suggest Kavanaugh is going to be striking down laws the prevent citizens from owning Surface to Air Missiles or Machine Guns. He might not even allow this assault weapon:


(UPDATE 1: David Kopel of the Volokh Conspiracy outlines Kavanaugh’s actual views on the 2nd Amendment post Heller)

On the plus side, he seems to be wary of excess regulations and may be willing to strike down the horrible, pro-bureaucrat Chevron Deference.

(UPDATE 2: Ken White, a/k/a Popehat has posted a piece suggesting Kavanaugh is a strong proponent of a robust First Amendment).

Also interestingly, since the left is swooning over an absurd, irrational fear that with Kavanaugh, SCOTUS will overturn Roe v. Wade, is the Judge’s opinion in Emily’s List v. Federal Election’s Commission, 581 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir 2009). In that case, Emily’s List, a pro-abortion Special Interest Group, challenged the Federal Election Commission’s rules making it harder for advocacy groups to raise money for election campaigns. The decision, which came a year before Citizen’s United, struck down the FEC rules. If, as some on the left are hyperventilating, Kavanaugh is ready to strike down Roe and institute the Handmaiden’s Tale, it seems odd he would be loosening the rules to allow a pro-abortion group to raise more money.

And that is going to be the problem for the Democrats in opposing his nomination. (Well that and Chuck Schumer’s decision to die on the hill of the Gorsuch nomination- Thanks to Schumer, Trump only needs a simple majority to confirm Kavanaugh. Had the Senate minority leader kept his powder dry, the filibuster would still be in play and would have given him more leverage, especially in an election year.) While Kavanaugh has some issues, none of them appear so damaging they will preclude his confirmation. Indeed, the Democrats and their allies already made clear they were going to oppose anyone nominated on the grounds of him/her being dangerous etc:

You would think nominee XX would be more pro-woman.

One line of attack has been: Kavanaugh believes a President is above the law.

The “support” for this is a law review article. In the article, Kavanaugh sets forth some changes he believes should be made in the way the government operates. Regarding the President is above the law claim, it’s basis is found in his argument a President should be temporarily immune to lawsuits (and possibly criminal prosecution) during his term of office.

With that in mind, it would be appropriate for Congress to enact a statute providing that any personal civil suits against presidents, like certain members of the military, be deferred while the President is in office.                                                                            (1460-1461)

Yes, that dastardly Kavanaugh is saying… Congress should pass…a law…. to give temporary immunity….?

This is the proof he believes Presidents are above the law?

Here’s a pro-tip. If Kavanaugh really believed Presidents are above the law and immune during their tenure, he wouldn’t be calling for Congress to pass a law making it so. It is quite clear he believes the current status is the exact opposite.

It should be noted the law review article was published in 2012 and based on a speech he gave October 2008 and is based on his experience in the Bush (43) White House and as a member of Ken Starr’s Special Prosecution Team during the Clinton Presidency. That’s right, Kavanaugh’s argument is based upon his time investigating a sitting president. So I seriously doubt he had Trump in mind. And the fact he is advocating something that would have prevented him from investigating a Democrat suggests maybe he didn’t have some sort of partisan motive in making this suggestion.

(And for the record, I think some of what Kavanaugh proposes has some merit. His arguments about a 180 day cap before an up or down vote on nominees has some appeal and is being taken up by others. The most recent suggestion is a law that would take effect Jan 20, 2025. That way no one would know who it would favor. I’m not as impressed with the concept of a single 6 year Presidential term. While the Founders did consider it, they ultimately decided against it.)

This is something I plan to expand on in the coming weeks, but the so-called #Resistance has really got to get some anti-psychotic meds because they have lost it.  I mean, I’m old enough to remember when claiming Sharia Law was about to imposed upon the United States was a sign of mental instability (see e.g., here and here). Now, it’s taken as a fact for what Trump is trying to do:

Perl man

Democrats are doing themselves no favors by hunkering down with the Alex Jones’s of the left. And the increasingly overt anti-Catholic arguments against his nomination reveal the Left’s tolerance only extends to those who don’t disagree with them.

Nor will they impress anyone with their seriousness by ignoring Kavanaugh as some are apparently doing. (I wonder if Harris will be running around with a towel over her head).

Barring a Black Swan event, Kavanaugh will get confirmed.

And that will not cause the Earth to crash into the Sun.


Gordon Granger, General Order Number Three, and the Beauty of Free Markets

In June of 1865, as the American Civil War ended, Major General Gordon Granger was appointed the Military Governor of the District of Texas. Granger, one of the saviors of the Union Army during the Battle of Chickamauga, had been given the assignment by General Philip Sheridan, Commander of the Union Forces in the Southwest District. On June 10, 1865, as Granger departed New Orleans to take up his post, he was instructed by Sheridan to, among other duties, publish the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas.

On June 19, 1865, he arrived at his new post. After disembarking  with 2,000 soldiers in Galveston, Texas, Granger and his 5 officers made their way to Ashton Villa. There, on the balcony, he formally accepted his command and issued 5 General Orders for the governance in Texas. Of particular importance was General Order No. 3:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, “all slaves are tree.” This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.

The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts, and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

By command of Maj.-Gen. GRANGER.

Granger followed up this proclamation by sending his Officers across the length and breadth of Texas, in an attempt to notify as many slaves as possible not only of their emancipation but their equal footing with those who, until June 19, 1865, treated them as property.

While the 15th Amendment wouldn’t outlaw slavery across the entire country until 1870, June 19, 1865 is a very important day. Granger’s General Order Number 3 put down a very important marker in American History. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, a war time necessity, merely said slavery was over. No thought was given to what was going to happen to the freed. Gen Sheridan, when he told Granger to promulgate the Proclamation, envisioned the newly freed slaves staying on their plantations until the Federal government arrived to work out the details. Granger went beyond that and declared the relationship between the parties was no longer master and slave, but employer and employee.

Juneteenth should be celebrated and across the Country. It should be celebrated not only for it role in the the end of slavery, but also in celebration of free markets. Granger expected everyone to work.  (“They will not be supported in idleness”). The idea of having everyone wait around to until the Federal government figure things out appears to have been anathema to him. Better to have freed-slaves and the plantation owners to figure out the price of labor. (‘[B]etween employer and hired labor.”). That is the essence of supply and demand.

Some folks are still touchy about this whole idea of making sure everyone know they’re equal. Indeed, it has been that way since June 19, 1865. On August 6, 1865, Granger was replaced as Military Governor.  The Southern Democrats, who had ruled Texas before and during the Confederacy, were not pleased to have  Yankees appearing on their plantations telling the slaves they were free. It rather upset the perceived natural order of things. And it seems these Democrats succeeded in convincing Washington, D.C. that reconstruction would go smoother if folks like Granger weren’t around

Today celebrating Juneteenth as an actual national holiday is presented as a danger to very fabric of the Republic. The idea we as a nation could devote a day to celebrate the end of slavery is an attempt to Balkanize this Country, cry some. (usually the same group who believe removing Civil War Participation Trophies is also an attempt to Balkanize the Country). Others, who mouth platitudes in support of Juneteenth, still maintain the attitudes that required Granger to send his officers to announce the Order throughout Texas: The slaves might be free, but they can’t possibly take care of themselves. Better they stay here on the plantation. Some of the early justifications of Jim Crow were premised on the need to help the freed slaves, arguing they couldn’t do things on their own since they had no idea what they were doing.

The History of Jim Crow is an attempt to forestall free-market economics. Gen. Granger’s model, as opposed to Jim Crow, would have been a boon. For employees, the market would set the price of labor and you would know how much you could expect to make for a day’s labor. Negotiations between the ex-slaves and the plantation owners to determine the true price of labor would have had ripple effects that would have crossed the color barrier. Consider the non-landowning whites. In antebellum Texas, they did not benefit from slavery. Landless, their only marketable skill was their labor. But the price of their labor was suppressed by the large pool of “free” labor.

After slavery was abolished, the need for labor remained. The plantations still existed. The only difference was now the cost of paying workers had to be considered. Anyone willing to work for the market price, regardless of color, had the option for employment. But Jim Crow altered that. And did so in a way that negatively effected both black and white workers. For black workers, the law precluded them from certain sectors and jobs, depriving them of employment.

While white workers didn’t have that problem, the law did harm them.As economist Gary S. Becker noted in his PhD dissertation (published posthumously as The Economics of Discrimination), under Jim Crow employers were forced to pay a hidden tax in the form of artificially high labor prices. As labor costs rise, the fewer employees a business can hire. Cost margins increase and net profits decrease, reducing the available capital a company has to expand and hire additional workers. Some whites got jobs, but not as many that could have but didn’t because employers couldn’t afford them.

(Think of how many projects during the Great Depression were designed to raise the living conditions of those who lived in the South where Jim Crow had the strongest grip. There is a connection between the market distortion those laws created and the mass poverty suffered.)

Jim Crow, distorted supply and demand. Beyond the cost of not being able to employ those who may be best qualified simply because of their skin color, harming productivity, complying with the Jim Crow regulatory scheme increased the cost of doing business in the south. That’s why, as James Devereaux noted in a piece for, when Homer Plessy sat in the white-only section of the New Orleans street car,  to challenge Louisiana’s segregation law, the Rail company supported Plessy’s actions:

What is often lost in the short history-class-version of this case is the effort by the company to comply and remove the segregation law. This may appear counterintuitive to some, but the market reality made segregation expensive.  Looking at the requirements of the law (see above) makes it clear why securing separate accommodations, either by car or partition, is costly, and when you are in the business of selling seats, increasing the likelihood of empty seats works against that interest.

As the quote above shows, by requiring separate but equal facilities, owners of public establishments and services (such as railroads) had to purchase items they didn’t necessarily need or want. As Frederic Bastiat noted, those costs while unseen, were still there. The money that had to be spent purchasing a second railway car or building a second set of bathrooms, is money that could have been used elsewhere to generate revenue for the company but for the law. While some prejudiced  business owners would have undoubtedly been willing to pay more to white workers, market forces would ultimately reward the non-prejudiced who hired not on the basis of skin color, but the basis skill level. As has been noted about Gary Becker’s work, his “economic model reduced a charged social issue to an economic fundamental, supply and demand.”

And as Henry Ford discovered, paying workers a decent wage not only encourages them to be more productive, it allows them to purchase more goods.

Juneteenth is not only a day to celebrate the end of slavery, but also to rejoice in the Free Markets and reject the type of government intervention that led to Jim Crow.

(For those who are curious, Gordon Granger moved on after his time in Texas. He eventually married Maria H. Letcher of Lexington, Kentucky in 1869. He became Military Governor of the New Mexico territory in 1870 where he remained until his death on January 10, 1876. He was buried in Lexington. Granger’s grave marker lists many of his accomplishments, but curiously does not list his time in Texas.)


Masterpiece Cakeshop: How a 7-2 Ruling Can be a Narrow Ruling

So, here I was this morning, getting ready to get back in the swing of things, blog-wise, by posting about the next of the Planetary Anthologies being published, Earth, and my story, The Silesian Treasure (available tomorrow from Amazon!) when I checked, as I always do, SCOTUSblog to see if the Supreme Court has issued any new rulings. And so of course, SCOTUS picked today to release its decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That’s pretty much what everyone will be talking about today. So, thanks SCOTUS for making the book launch that much harder!

That in and of itself wouldn’t be that bad. It is, after all, news-worthy. The problem comes from partisans on both sides of the issue reading and reacting to the headline, not the opinion. To wit

  • Social Liberals are developing vapors because the headlines suggest the Supreme Court is all for discrimination (with Liberal justices Breyer and Kagan getting raspberries).
  • Social Conservatives are having kittens because most news reports are calling the 7-2 decision ‘limited’.

Both sides are reacting to things that are not there.

So, in order for you to pay more attention to buying my book tomorrow, I will today, explain how a 7-2 Supreme Court ruling can and is “limited”.

I. What Is This Case?

This is the (in)famous ‘Bake the Cake’ lawsuit. A little background before we go into the facts:

The underlying events occurred in 2012. This was before the Supreme Court ruled in either the Windsor case (which found portions of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional) or the Obergefell decision (which struck down as unconstitutional, bans on same sex marriage). Indeed in 2012, same-sex marriages in the State of Colorado were not legal (nor were same sex marriages performed in other states recognized under Colorado law).

In the summer of 2012, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins walked into the Masterpiece Cakeshop and asked Jack Phillips to create a wedding cake for them. Craig and Mullins were going to get married in Massachusetts (where same-sex marriages were then legal) and then have a celebration in Colorado. Phillips refused to create a wedding cake, citing his religious beliefs that marriage was solely between a man and a woman.

(brief interlude: The word create is the proper term for what was being asked. Phillips has long made it clear, and there seems to be nothing the Court record to the contrary, that he would have made any other type of cake for the couple. In fact, had they simply asked him to bake a cake, but not decorate it as a wedding cake, he would have done so happily. Therefore this was never about his refusing to “bake a cake”. It was more a refusal to “decorate a cake”. The latter just doesn’t roll off the tongue like the former).

In August of 2012 Craig and Mullins filed a discrimination complaint against Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Commission found against Phillips and for Craig and Mullins. Phillips appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, which upheld the Commission’s ruling. He then appealed that decision to the US Supreme Court. He argued the Colorado decisions violated his Freedom of Religion rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.

II. What Did the Court Decide?

The US Supreme Court this morning vacated the Colorado Supreme Court decision and Civil Rights Commission’s Determination. It found the Commission never gave Phillips a fair shake in evaluating his arguments, noting:

The neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised here, however. The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.

(All quotes come from the majority opinion)

The Commission, the Court is saying, had its finger on the scale in favor of Craig and Mullins. The commissioners were looking to punish Phillips regardless of the merits of his defense. During the first public hearing, at least two of the commissioners made comments suggesting once you enter the domain of public commerce, you have to keep your opinions to yourself. The Court noted while these comments could have been acceptable depending on the circumstances, the events at the following public hearing show the Commissioners had open animosity towards Phillips, with one saying:

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be—I mean, we—we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to—to use their religion to hurt others.”

As Justice Kennedy’s Majority Opinion notes:

To describe a man’s faith as “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use” is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical—something insubstantial and even insincere. The commissioner even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust. This sentiment is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s antidiscrimination law—a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation. The record shows no objection to these comments from other commissioners. And the later state-court ruling reviewing the Commission’s decision did not mention those comments, much less express concern with their content. Nor were the comments by the commissioners disavowed in the briefs filed in this Court. For these reasons, the Court cannot avoid the conclusion that these statements cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commission’s adjudication of Phillips’ case.

(emphasis mine)

The majority noted there were case around the same time in Colorado,  where bakeshops were being asked to decorate cakes with anti same-sex marriage message and those bakers refusing. The Commission upheld the rights of those bakers to not participate in creating those messages. If those bakers were fine, why was Phillips’s actions not? But because the Court found the Commission, which has a judicial like authority, went into its investigation openly hostile to one party, SCOTUS said the Civil Rights Commission’s decision cannot stand.

For the reasons just described, the Commission’s treatment of Phillips’ case violated the State’s duty under the First Amendment not to base laws or regulations on hostility to a religion or religious viewpoint.

That is the only thing the Court decided in today’s case. This why although the Supreme Court’s ruling was 7-2, the issue decided was one of procedural fairness instead of whether Phillips’s refusal was constitutional. This is why Kagan and Breyer voted to vacate the Commission’s decision. They are not suddenly becoming soft on same-sex marriages. They are however, making it clear, adjudicative bodies, such as Civil Rights Commissions, can’t pull a Red Queen and have the sentence first, trial later. They have to evaluate the claims of both sides fairly and impartially.

 III. What Did the Court Not Decide?

 The Court did not decide when, if ever, a merchant’s sincerely held religious beliefs can be the basis for refusing to provide a service to members of the public. Nor did SCOTUS rule whether there is a material difference between ‘baking a cake’ and ‘decorating a cake’.

It also didn’t decide whether the timing of the refusal was relevant. As noted at the beginning, when Phillips refused, same-sex marriage was not legal in Colorado. One of the arguments that was made in the Courts was because those marriages were not legal (and possibly illegal) or recognized, Phillips had some expectation to believe his view represented the prevailing legal view of the state of Colorado. That’s important because of the fines and other punishments levied on Phillips by the Commission, including having to file quarterly reports showing how un-bigoted he was now. Had the Civil Rights Commission simply said, “We know you thought what you were doing was legal, but it’s not, so don’t do it again”, you might have seen a different outcome.

IV. What Does This Mean Going Forward?

The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.

(Translation: We know this isn’t going away. But we’re not going to answer questions we don’t have to today).

Because the underlying questions were not answered, the issue is not resolved one way or the other. There will continue to be a number of these cases percolating through the legal system until such time as an ideal case is presented to the Supreme Court to answer those questions.

Also, now that same-sex marriage is legal across the country, any future case will be decided in that light, i.e., everyone knows what the law of the land is, so how does that interact with personal beliefs.

When will that case appear? Who knows? It depends on how eager the Supreme Court is to delve into this topic. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of test cases appear in the media with everyone trying to get the case that will answer the question. And don’t be surprised to see the Court pass on most of them. They will be looking for that certain something in order to take up the case.

V. So, What Now?

That’s simple:

  1. Now you know how it is possible for a 7-2 Decision to be narrow.
  2. If you’re a Social Lib, Don’t Panic. If you’re a Social Con, don’t get cocky.
  3. Go out tomorrow and order Planetary:Earth at Amazon
Earth Cover art
Available Tomorrow!



(Featured image is the West Facade of the Supreme Court and is taken from the Court’s website).


Planetary: Venus

Here it is, the second in the Planetary Anthology, Venus. It is currently available as an e-book. The link will shortly have the option to buy a paper copy of the book.

Read it, enjoy it. And if you would please be so kind, leave a review for the book.

I’ll be back in a couple of days to discuss some of the background to my story Venus Felix

The 1917 Halifax Explosion and Boston’s Response

Something a little different. I think this is one of those historical moments that should get more publicity as it shows that contrary to general depressing news we see every day, the human race can occasional rise above itself and do some good.
100 years ago today, December 6, 1917, at approximately 8:45 a.m. AST (7:45 am EST), the French vessel, SS Mont-Blanc, collided with the Norwegian vessel, SS Imo the Narrows, in the Narrow, a strait that joined a portion Halifax, Nova Scotia’s harbor to Bedford Basin. The Mont-Blanc was laden with high explosives destined for the war in Europe. The impact caused a fire on board the ship. The Halifax fire department was rushing to pier 6 to assist in putting out the fire.
Others, including Patrick Coleman, an Intercolonial Railway dispatcher, and a colleague, began to flee when they learned of the collision and saw the smoldering Mont-Blanc approaching. However, Coleman apparently realized as bad as things would be, they would be worse if the trains scheduled to arrive at Halifax’s North Station did so if the ship exploded. So he returned to his post and sent an urgent telegram to stations down the line: “Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys.”
About 20 minutes after the collision, the Mont-Blanc exploded. The explosion released energy equivalent to approximately 2.9 kilotons of TNT, the largest man-made explosion prior the Trinity bomb. In 1/15th of a second, the ship ceased to exist. Almost all everything within a half-mile radius was destroyed. Railroads tracks were destroyed by the explosion’s pressure wave as were almost all of the City’s windows. Then came the tsunami. Large portions of Halifax and and surroundings communities simply ceased to exist.  The USS Tacoma, which was out at sea, was struck by the pressure wave. The impact was severe enough to send its crew went to General Quarters.
(To put more fully into perspective how powerful the explosion was, the shaft of the Mont-Blanc‘s anchor was found almost 2 miles away. One of the ship’s stern cannons was thrown more than 2 miles. Additionally, as of 2017, trees that were alive when the Mont-Blanc exploded have been found to have glass and other debris buried in their trunks. New England sawmills still do not accept trees from the Halifax region for fear of damaging their equipment.)
Over 1600 people died in the explosion (including Patrick Coleman). Most of them instantly. Among the dead were Patrick Coleman and 9 members of the Halifax Fire Department standing on pier six, laying down hoses to help fight the fire on the Mont-Blanc.  Most of the dead died instantly. Another 9,000 badly injured, including many with eye injuries from the exploding glass windows. Hundreds of Thousands were rendered homeless instantly.
It’s not clear how far away from Halifax people still felt the explosion. But it was far enough away that a lot of people very quickly knew something very bad had happened. Shortly after the explosion, a telegram reached Boston:
Organize a relief train and send word to Wolfville and Windsor (towns near Halifax) to round up all doctors, nurses, and Red Cross supplies possible to obtain. Not time to explain details but list of casualties is enormous.
When these first reports reached Boston, the Governor of Massachusetts, Samuel McCall, almost immediately organized a relief effort. The governor used his Committee for Public Safety, created in response to America’s entrance into World War I, to begin to organize a relief effort. McCall sent a telegram to the Mayor of Halifax, letting him know Massachusetts was prepared to send relief and wanted to know what was needed:
Understand that your city in danger from explosion and conflagration. Reports only fragmentary. Massachusetts ready to go the limit in rendering every assistance you may be in need of. Wire me back immediately.
No answer was ever received. What McCall did not know, nor could know, was the telegraph wires around Halifax had been obliterated by the blast.
And this is one of those amazing moments in history. Instead of waiting for a response, instead of waiting for clarification as to what exactly had happened in Halifax, McCall decided to act. He sent out the word to the hospitals in Boston seeking every doctor and nurse who could lend a hand. A train was requisitioned and the doctors, Red Cross nurses and medical supplies, were sent northward. McCall sent a second telegram alerting Halifax that a medical relief train was on its way and more relief would be sent when Boston knew what else Halifax needed.
The fact the train made the 700 mile journey to Halifax is a testament to the doctors and other medicos, as well as the train crew. A blizzard struck the region. Despite the hardship, the train did not turn around, but fought to continue to the stricken City.
The City must have looked like Hell on earth. But the aid workers from Boston went right to work, setting up hospitals and searching rubble for survivors. (The last body wasn’t discovered until 1919). Advances in modern pediatric surgery can be traced to those doctors who answered the call in 1917
Once the medical system had triaged the survivors, longer term issues were considered. As noted above, everything within 1/2 mile of the explosion had been destroyed. Homelessness was a common condition. (Property Damage was estimated to be $35 million. That works out to over $630 million in 2017 dollars). The aid workers began building temporary housing.  (Later, some of the temporary housing, which had housed 2000 people or 320 families, was rebuilt as permanent housing. Those apartments became known as the McCall Apartments on Massachusetts Avenue. I was unable to locate the exact location. Looking at Google Maps, Massachusetts Ave looks to be a highway. While there appears to be apartment/condo complex backed up to the road, it’s not clear if any of them are the successors to the McCall Apartments.).
In addition, with Christmas approaching and 1000s of children orphaned and either living in tent hospitals or homeless, the aid workers put Christmas trees up in the hospitals and acted as Santa’s helpers to collect and give out gifts to the children.
Meanwhile, back in Boston, the Committee of Public Safety was raising funds and organizing the collection additional supplies. Anything and everything Halifax might need to rebuild was collected by Bostonians in preparation of forwarding it northward. Within a week, the first cargo ship was sent.
As a token of thanks for all that Boston did to help Halifax, in 1918 the people of Nova Scotia sent the City of Boston a Christmas Tree. In 1971, the tradition was revived and every year since, Boston’s Christmas Tree has come from Nova Scotia.
So, if you are in Boston, or will be there during the holiday season, stop by the Boston Common and see the tree. It is said to be beautiful.

I also understand there is a new book on the explosion and it’s aftermath by John Bacon,The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism. I have no yet had the opportunity to read the book as I just learned of it. I also missed Bacon’s appearance and book signing recently, so I cannot comment directly on the book, but everything I have seen, it is getting rave reviews.

Both the Boston Globe and the Canadian Broadcast Corporation have recently done stories on the 100th Anniversary. The New England Historical Society also has a web page discussing the Explosion and Boston’s response.

(The cover photo is from W.G. MacLaughlan/Halifax Relief Commission/Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1976-166 no. 36 taken from the McClean’s article cited above)


An Open Plea to Nicholas Sarwark and the Libertarian Party

Dear Mr. Sarwark and the Libertarian Party:

Let’s face it, the 2016 election could have gone better for the Libertarian Party (LP). While the Party had, at one point, hoped to receive a double-digit share of the Presidential vote only to revise it down to getting 5%, the final tally of 3.28% of the popular vote was rather disappointing.

As has been 2017. The Democrats and GOP have spent most of the year bickering and pointing fingers at one another while the deficits increase unchecked and the Constitution is something that people merely pay lip service to.

With the revelation of the Congressional slush fund to pay off those who have been sexually harassed by the politicos, it is clear the abuse of power knows no bounds. In this year, which is rapidly becoming the year of #MeToo, the Democrats have been saddled with Al Franken who has been accused of sexual harassment by five women. And we also have John Conyers, the 81-year-old dotard from Michigan who has not only been accused of sexual impropriety, but has paid out money to settle claims. Have either of them been forced from office for abusing their offices? Of course not. Franken is issuing mealy-mouth apologies while Conyers’s actions have been given the official Democratic Party seal of approval by Nancy Pelosi’s pronouncement of Conyers as an “icon.” Though apparently determining the winds of political fortune have shifted, Pelosi has now suggested Conyer might step down now, as opposed to next year when he has decided to no seek re-election.  Of course, according to Conyers’s fellow Congressman James Clyburn, we shouldn’t really believe these allegations because all of the accusers are White Women.

And then there are the Republicans and Roy Moore.

JFC, where to begin.

Roy Moore, a man who, while in his 30s, thought it was appropriate to date teenagers. And who may or may not have been banned from going to the Gadsen (Alabama) Mall. Republicans are rallying around Moore like Democrats are rallying around Conyers. In fact, yesterday this rallying reached its acme:


It’s almost enough to make one want to emulate a convicted Bosnian War Criminal.

Everyone Drink
Lord, what did the Republicans and Democrats do today?

This is where the LP comes into play.

Mr. Sarwark,  in the aftermath of the 2016 elections you said, “Your tears are delicious and your parties will die.”

Well, it appears the parties are dying. 71% of Millennials want a third party. And who can blame them. Republicans and Democrats have now been shown to be nothing but two tribes who value nothing but the destruction of the other. They  have shown themselves to be out of any ideas and who will say and/or do anything simply to stay in power. And once in power, will do anything they can with that power. And it is not just the steady erosion of our liberties in the name of the “Common Good” and “Security”.

Which is to say to you, Mr. Sarwark and the LP: The time will never be better to capitalize on this institutional rot. Please do not screw this up.

There are 340 days until the mid-term elections. (As much it would be nice to have a viable LP candidate in the AL race, there is just not enough time). You must use this time to not to find candidates to run for the House and Senate, but viable candidates. This means candidates who can identity foreign policy hot-spots (<cough>Aleppo<cough>) and who have no skeletons in their closets. People who could actually win.

But that is not all. The LP and the State LP need to spend money on traditional forms of advertising for these candidates. While it is cool and hip to post political ads on Youtube or social media, it still remains that a large number of people do not go to those sites looking for political ads. Money needs to be spent on television and radio ads. Television remains the single most critical factor in gaining name recognition. Without name recognition, there can be no hope of people even being polled about whether they would vote for the candidate never mind any chance s/he could win.

A good example of this is the 2017 Virginia Gubernatorial election. Cliff Hyra might be a fine individual, but I seriously doubt Virginians who do not live, eat, and breathe politics (i.e. the vast majority of the Commonwealth’s population) knew Hyra was the libertarian candidate. But he was in none of the debates. Why? Because he had no name recognition. Why didn’t he have any name recognition? He had no presence on tv and radio. While the LP may want to focus on social media, people still pay more attention to the traditional media outlets. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you have to go with media you have, not the media you want.

I know I have banged this drum before, but it needs to banged again and again: if libertarians want to be a serious force for change they need to get serious. If the LP truly wants to be an actual third political party in the United States, then it needs to act like a political party and put ads on tv and radio.

So please LP, don’t screw this up.

Again With the Statues

If the folks who are defending the statues could just stick to a defense that would be great.

 Hey, I thought the next blog was supposed to be the open letter to the Nick Sawark?

It was, but this is just a brief interlude. Now back in the box.

What? No mrrrghh…


When we last left the defenders of the Confederate Monument Hill, their argument was the statues of Bobby Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, etc. were necessary because without them, how could we possibly remember the Civil War?

After all, in 1945 this sort of thing happened all over Germany and now no one knows anything about Nazis or Swastikas …


It’s a weak argument to justify keeping the monuments: That in order to be reminded of the evil and treasonous actions of the Confederacy, we need to have monuments dedicated to them. By that logic, in order to recall the evil that led to the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King, we should have statues erected of their killers.

Yeah haven’t seen anyone prepare to make that argument….

Now, could statues be important as warnings of great evil and dangers associated with the figure? Let’s call it Statue-ology. Maybe we can look to see an example of it using a non-Confederate Image. Hmm…  someplace in the US that has a statue of say…. I dunno…. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Someplace like Seattle, Washington.


Lenin you may recall from such events as the Anti-Kulak Campaigns, the Red Terror, and the New Economic Policy. A man whose policies killed millions and oversaw complete government control over an economy. One of the 20th Century’s true monsters. (Lenin is, of course, overshadowed by his successor Joseph Stalin, in any list of the Worst Rulers of the 20th Century). So Seattle, having a statute warning of the evil of Leninism, would be a peaceful place, tolerant of everyone and would have no groups seeking to divide…


..and would also be a City fully aware of the dangers of  government trying to control the economy…


Well, that’s awkward….Maybe that’s why the mayor of Seattle this afternoon, is asking for Lenin’s statue to come down.

Statue-ology does not appear to be an effective deterrent to repeating the mistakes of history. This would of course, explain any number of racial and economic policies in New York City. The Big Apple, I have learned in the last 24 hours has monuments/ commemorations to:

  1. Robert E. Lee
  2. Stonewall Jackson
  3. Che Guevara
  4. Philippe Petain

Kinda explains a lot about the way the New York is run. As Thomas Sowell has noted, “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

But let’s look at the argument coming from the redoubt on Confederate Monument Hill from another angle. Maybe, like the arguments in defense of the utter collapse of Venezuela because of socialism, it is because we haven’t really tried Statue-ology.  Maybe the fault lies in the location of the statues. That could be the problem.  People might be mis-learning the history. The statues do tend to be situated in ways create a mistaken impression those whom the statues personify are meant to be idolized.

So we should change the location of the statues to give make sure people understand these statues are meant as warnings. I think this is where Radley Balko was going with his piece today about how Moscow and Budapest handled their surfeit of Leninist/Stalinist statues:

In Moscow’s Gorky Park, right next to the state art museum, there’s a stretch of green space called Fallen Monument Park. It’s populated with monuments to Stalinism and Leninism erected during the Soviet era. It’s pretty striking…

Each monument includes a plaque explaining when it was erected, how it was funded and that it has been preserved and installed in the park not to celebrate Stalin or Lenin or their ideas but because of its historical significance.

One statute of Stalin stands — minus its nose — in front of a harrowing sculpture depicting dozens of human heads stacked behind barbed wire. It’s a monument to the victims of totalitarianism. It isn’t difficult to imagine a similar park where a statute of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis or Nathan Bedford Forrest might stand in front of a monument to victims of lynching.

It seems like a great idea. The statues are preserved and the history of the evils of the civil war and its aftermath can be learned. It seems to be a win-win, So surely the folks up on Confederate Monument Hill will back this compromise? Let’s go live to social media and comments to Balko’s piece:

This is more left wing, politically correct b.s. The Confederate statues have been in their prominent positions in public places throughout the South for decades with nary a word of complaint or protest until the Far Left decided to try and make an issue out of them beginning in the 1990s and accelerating lately.

The Left and the globalists have a false narrative that basically blames all problems everywhere on the planet on the White race. This is their mantra and is shown not just by the Confederate memorials manufactured controversy but by their blatant attempt to overrun Western nations with millions of Third World proles so that Whites will be not only a worldwide minority but a minority in their own homelands.

 I am struck at the level of intellectual dishonesty that compares Lenin and Stalin to Lee and Davis. The latter are tied to a practice that is mostly extinct, the former to an ideology that draws followers even today.

Huh. They don’t seem pleased by it. They seem rather angry. Why, it’s almost as if they really don’t mean it when they say we can only learn from history by keeping the statues. It’s as if they want to honor the Leaders of the Confederacy. (Would also explain the anger many had at Balko for daring to put Lee and Lenin in the same paragraph)

Men who betrayed their own country.

Men who betrayed their own country and lost.

Who knew a vast  tiny (handed) segment of this country needed participation trophies to validate the actions of their forebears?

And speaking of forebears, for the folks around Brunswick, Maine, the sound you are hearing is Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, hero of the Battle of Gettysburg and former governor of Maine, spinning like a lathe in his grave following this gem from the current governor, Paul LePage:


There are of course, much better ways to learn about history. As Jamil Smith noted

Nailed it

I also find it easier to learn history from books. You tend to be able to get a lot of information in a book. Plus, they’re much easy to carry around with you.