Category: New Posts

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ARMY STANDS FIRM Military: No plans to change Confederate base names


Debate is heating up throughout the country over what to do with Confederate statues and memorials. But it appears, at least for now, that 10 major U.S. Army bases will keep the names of Confederate soldiers.

The Army refused to answer questions last week on whether those bases – including Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, and Fort Benning in Georgia – will keep their names, the Charlotte Observer reported.

All 10 U.S. military bases named for Confederate soldiers are located in the South.

Prior to this month’s violence in Charlottesville, Va., the most recent time the names of Army bases were strongly debated was in 2015, after the slaying of nine black church members in Charleston, S.C.

At that time, Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told Time there was “no discussion” regarding changing the names.

Base names are based on “individuals, not causes or ideologies,” public affairs chief Army Brig. Gen. Malcolm Frost said in 2015, adding that each base “is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history.”

The other seven Army bases named for Confederate soldiers are Fort Rucker in Alabama; Fort Gordon in Georgia; Camp Beauregard and Fort Polk in Louisiana; and Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia.

 



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Mother-daughter duo busted in erotic massage parlor sting


A mother-daughter duo was busted earlier this week for an unlicensed massage parlor offering sexual favors.

Anne Dodge, 55, and Jennifer Dodge, 30, were arrested after authorities received a tip alleging prostitution at their home in Sarasota, Florida.

The pair posted ads to Backpage.com advertising their erotic services, news station WFTS reported.

“I am a beautiful, talented, licensed massage therapist whom God uses to bring his healing energy to you and bring you to a whole new level of ecstasy,” a listing for Anne reportedly said.

Between June and August, detectives conducted an undercover operation into their massage business.

Click here to read more from the New York Post.



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Et Tu, Senator Corker?



Trump understands planning, perseverance, and the virtues and benefits of hard work, which is more than the likes of the vacationing Bob Corker understand. 



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Kaepernick supporters call for NFL boycott


Controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick deserves a chance to continue his NFL career, his supporters said Saturday.

Those backers include the NAACP and current and former members of the New York City Police Department, including famed corruption fighter Frank Serpico.

Kaepernick has been struggling to find a new team since opting out of his contract after last season.

His backers say NFL team owners have blackballed Kaepernick because he staged a one-man protest last season on behalf of African-Americans and other minorities – by kneeling instead of standing for the national anthem before each week’s game.

But critics have said his refusal to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been disrespectful to the nation and its service members.

His supporters defended him Saturday.

The NAACP called for a boycott of NFL games until Kaepernick gets an equal opportunity at making a roster for the upcoming season.

“There will be no football in the state of Georgia if Colin Kaepernick is not on a training camp roster and given an opportunity to pursue his career,” Gerald Riggs of the Atlanta NAACP told Fox 5.

Riggs warned that if Kaepernick remains unsigned to a deal as of 5 p.m. Sept. 17, “We are going to have the world’s largest tailgate, and that tailgate will not go into Mercedes-Benz Stadium.” (Riggs was referring to the new $1.6 billion home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.)

“We will take a knee, and we will continue to take a knee on the NFL until they act with one voice,” Riggs said.

The threat of a nationwide boycott is meant to send a message to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners of the NFL’s 32 teams, Riggs said.

In New York, Serpico and other current and former NYPD officers wore T-shirts reading “#imwithkap” during a gathering in Brooklyn.

He’s trying to hold up this government, up to our founding fathers,” said Serpico, 81, who was portrayed by Al Pacino in the 1973 film, “Serpico.”

Sgt. Edwin Raymond spoke of the need for racial healing in the country.

“Until racism in America is no longer taboo, we own up to it, we admit it, we understand it and then we do what we have to do to solve it,” he said. “Unfortunately we’re going to have these issues.”

Kaepernick has thrown for 72 touchdowns and more than 12,000 yards across six seasons with the 49ers.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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Why Are There Monuments of Confederate Soldiers?


Can a man be guilty of a sin he himself seeks to purge from his being?  Can he be a mixed bag, having some good and some evil in his being?  Yes.  We all know it.  We all feel the sting of shame, of regret, when we reflect honestly on our hidden evil thoughts, when we contemplate the condemnation we would receive if a wrongful act was discovered.  We could be otherwise deserving of praise for aspects of our nature that are laudable and honorable, but in that one thing we would feel disgraced.

Interesting word, isn’t it?  Disgraced.  It means to lose mercy, favor or virtue.  Therefore, its opposite: grace, means to extend the restoration of virtue, to grant mercy, to again look favorably upon someone.

In the Civil War, America suffered a fall from grace. But grace was used to turn enmity into comity.

This is why the Civil War monuments existed, in part, perhaps in the largest part.  A shattered nation needed to come back together.  Secession was treason.  Treason was disgrace; worse, treason was committed to protect the evil of slavery.  Men died to stop it.  Men died to save it.  We know who won.  But with battlefields stained with blood, and the shops, streets and homes filled with maimed bodies, broken futures, and fractured souls, how do you mend two warring sides? 

Lincoln had planned for a mending.  In 1863, roughly two years before the war ended, he issued a Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, as stated here:

The proclamation addressed three main areas of concern. First, it allowed for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders. Second, it allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. Third, the Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.

Lincoln knew how difficult the task would be to re-unite blood enemies, so he made a plan and announced it.  He informed the South that there was a way out, a way back.  In effect, he did not say that they, as a people, were evil.  He said they were a good people that went down the wrong path and that we should all be friends again. 

As Lincoln saw it, the victors needed to extend grace to the defeated, once they lay down their arms.  As he said his second inaugural address:           

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

The President saw the need to overcome the conceit that a person can own another in servitude; he had to destroy the idea that slavery was acceptable; and once doing that, remove the disgrace from the person.  Let them restore their dignity, sense of place, recognizing those parts of themselves that were honorable and good.  They were made to see that this thing about slavery they got horribly wrong.  He believed that to be at peace and to become neighbors again, to be one nation again, they must forgive; they must get past it; they must see each representative of the former enemy as a whole being, fully vested with all the rights and privileges of citizenship.  There are no spoils for the victors because there is no one vanquished.  We are brothers again.  Lincoln’s plan for amnesty was enacted by his successor, Andrew Johnson, by Proclamation 179 on Dec. 25, 1868.  It granted full pardon.  How appropriate.  On Dec. 25 they were forgiven.  The president told them to go back to their homes and to sin no more. 

In doing so they built monuments to their dead.  But it wasn’t their dead anymore, it was our honored dead.  Some of the honored dead were those who chose to secede from the federal government to protect their dependence on a system with slavery, but they are those who gave this up and rejoined a lawful government.  Some of the honored dead were those who forced them to it.  General Robert E. Lee said:

The questions which for years were in dispute between the State and General Government, and which unhappily were not decided by the dictates of reason, but referred to the decision of war, having been decided against us, it is the part of wisdom to acquiesce in the result, and of candor to recognize the fact.

In their decision to surrender, they decided for all time and absolutely for America that slavery is wrong, and that it brings disgrace.  Racism could not stand in the light of the belief that all men are equal.  Surrender and victory became America resolving itself to a mutually confirmed truth in a manner that cannot be undone.  We would not, and could not, ever be divided on this issue again.  The men and women of both sides in this now re-united whole are honorable.

When the General Robert E. Lee statue was opened to the public, the Daily Picayune included this quote:

We cannot ignore the fact that the secession has been stigmatized as treason and that the purest and bravest men in the South have been denounced as guilty of shameful crime.  By every appliance of literate and art, we must show to all coming ages that with us, at least, there dwells no sense of guilt. 

Lincoln said:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Fast forward to today and we see a culture rescinding grace, condemnation rages, we are breaking apart into ideological camps, persons are judged for perceived sins, judged for past sins.  For all appearances, the bonds of affection are broken.  The willingness to forgive or to look upon each other as brothers is vaporizing.  We no longer hold certain principles in common nor do we seek to uphold them. Too many stand by while evil flourishes.

There are three dangerous and disastrous concepts taking hold today.  The first is the idea that past sins taint the vessel.  For example, if a founder to this country sinned (i.e. Thomas Jefferson had slaves), then he and all that he touched is tainted.  This includes his place in history and the related memorials of that place, his writings, legal conclusions, etc.  The second is the conceit that we are qualified and right to condemn them as persons, without distinction or evaluating the balance of their wrongs versus their positive contributions.  Martin Luther King was known as a womanizer, but he made valuable contributions to the character of this nation.  His sins on one side do not erase his contributions on the other. The third is companion to the second and the most dangerous of the three, that people of one class may condemn an entire class of persons as tainted (white privilege).  When we are all bearers of some sin in ourselves, who are we to judge another unworthy of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness, much less a whole class of others?

The truth is that the freedoms of today are the fruits of labor of those who went before.  They were men and women in a process to establish and keep a free society.  It is their legacy and it is our job to protect it.  They knew then that the high ideals they established this nation under could not tolerate some of the habits they themselves operated under.  The blessings of liberty were to be for everyone, so they set a course.  The Civil War cemented us on that course for everyone one regardless of race.  This is to our collective credit.  America shines as beacon because of it.

The blessings of liberty require grace.  We must stop those who want to secede from that understanding.

 

Can a man be guilty of a sin he himself seeks to purge from his being?  Can he be a mixed bag, having some good and some evil in his being?  Yes.  We all know it.  We all feel the sting of shame, of regret, when we reflect honestly on our hidden evil thoughts, when we contemplate the condemnation we would receive if a wrongful act was discovered.  We could be otherwise deserving of praise for aspects of our nature that are laudable and honorable, but in that one thing we would feel disgraced.

Interesting word, isn’t it?  Disgraced.  It means to lose mercy, favor or virtue.  Therefore, its opposite: grace, means to extend the restoration of virtue, to grant mercy, to again look favorably upon someone.

In the Civil War, America suffered a fall from grace. But grace was used to turn enmity into comity.

This is why the Civil War monuments existed, in part, perhaps in the largest part.  A shattered nation needed to come back together.  Secession was treason.  Treason was disgrace; worse, treason was committed to protect the evil of slavery.  Men died to stop it.  Men died to save it.  We know who won.  But with battlefields stained with blood, and the shops, streets and homes filled with maimed bodies, broken futures, and fractured souls, how do you mend two warring sides? 

Lincoln had planned for a mending.  In 1863, roughly two years before the war ended, he issued a Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, as stated here:

The proclamation addressed three main areas of concern. First, it allowed for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders. Second, it allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. Third, the Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.

Lincoln knew how difficult the task would be to re-unite blood enemies, so he made a plan and announced it.  He informed the South that there was a way out, a way back.  In effect, he did not say that they, as a people, were evil.  He said they were a good people that went down the wrong path and that we should all be friends again. 

As Lincoln saw it, the victors needed to extend grace to the defeated, once they lay down their arms.  As he said his second inaugural address:           

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

The President saw the need to overcome the conceit that a person can own another in servitude; he had to destroy the idea that slavery was acceptable; and once doing that, remove the disgrace from the person.  Let them restore their dignity, sense of place, recognizing those parts of themselves that were honorable and good.  They were made to see that this thing about slavery they got horribly wrong.  He believed that to be at peace and to become neighbors again, to be one nation again, they must forgive; they must get past it; they must see each representative of the former enemy as a whole being, fully vested with all the rights and privileges of citizenship.  There are no spoils for the victors because there is no one vanquished.  We are brothers again.  Lincoln’s plan for amnesty was enacted by his successor, Andrew Johnson, by Proclamation 179 on Dec. 25, 1868.  It granted full pardon.  How appropriate.  On Dec. 25 they were forgiven.  The president told them to go back to their homes and to sin no more. 

In doing so they built monuments to their dead.  But it wasn’t their dead anymore, it was our honored dead.  Some of the honored dead were those who chose to secede from the federal government to protect their dependence on a system with slavery, but they are those who gave this up and rejoined a lawful government.  Some of the honored dead were those who forced them to it.  General Robert E. Lee said:

The questions which for years were in dispute between the State and General Government, and which unhappily were not decided by the dictates of reason, but referred to the decision of war, having been decided against us, it is the part of wisdom to acquiesce in the result, and of candor to recognize the fact.

In their decision to surrender, they decided for all time and absolutely for America that slavery is wrong, and that it brings disgrace.  Racism could not stand in the light of the belief that all men are equal.  Surrender and victory became America resolving itself to a mutually confirmed truth in a manner that cannot be undone.  We would not, and could not, ever be divided on this issue again.  The men and women of both sides in this now re-united whole are honorable.

When the General Robert E. Lee statue was opened to the public, the Daily Picayune included this quote:

We cannot ignore the fact that the secession has been stigmatized as treason and that the purest and bravest men in the South have been denounced as guilty of shameful crime.  By every appliance of literate and art, we must show to all coming ages that with us, at least, there dwells no sense of guilt. 

Lincoln said:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Fast forward to today and we see a culture rescinding grace, condemnation rages, we are breaking apart into ideological camps, persons are judged for perceived sins, judged for past sins.  For all appearances, the bonds of affection are broken.  The willingness to forgive or to look upon each other as brothers is vaporizing.  We no longer hold certain principles in common nor do we seek to uphold them. Too many stand by while evil flourishes.

There are three dangerous and disastrous concepts taking hold today.  The first is the idea that past sins taint the vessel.  For example, if a founder to this country sinned (i.e. Thomas Jefferson had slaves), then he and all that he touched is tainted.  This includes his place in history and the related memorials of that place, his writings, legal conclusions, etc.  The second is the conceit that we are qualified and right to condemn them as persons, without distinction or evaluating the balance of their wrongs versus their positive contributions.  Martin Luther King was known as a womanizer, but he made valuable contributions to the character of this nation.  His sins on one side do not erase his contributions on the other. The third is companion to the second and the most dangerous of the three, that people of one class may condemn an entire class of persons as tainted (white privilege).  When we are all bearers of some sin in ourselves, who are we to judge another unworthy of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness, much less a whole class of others?

The truth is that the freedoms of today are the fruits of labor of those who went before.  They were men and women in a process to establish and keep a free society.  It is their legacy and it is our job to protect it.  They knew then that the high ideals they established this nation under could not tolerate some of the habits they themselves operated under.  The blessings of liberty were to be for everyone, so they set a course.  The Civil War cemented us on that course for everyone one regardless of race.  This is to our collective credit.  America shines as beacon because of it.

The blessings of liberty require grace.  We must stop those who want to secede from that understanding.

 



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The Failure of the Communist God


In a recent friendly telephone conversation, Russian president Vladimir Putin may well have exclaimed to U.S. President Donald Trump, “Darn that dream I dream each night, but it haunts me and it won’t come true.”  It would be a timely commentary on present-day Russia.  On this 100th anniversary of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, it is  useful to assess the existence and the failure of the dreams of 20th-century Russian Bolsheviks with their aspirations for a new society and a world communist revolution, and the consequent disillusionment of the faithful, and their sad fate, resulting from the disastrous reality of the Soviet regime led by Josef Stalin.

Compelling narratives have been related concerning the drama and tragedy of the Old Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union in powerful and compelling works by Arthur Koestler, George Orwell, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Victor Kravchenko, among others.  Now the narrative is recounted in a massive 1,100-page, brilliant, and extraordinary new book, The House of Government, recently published by Princeton University Press, written by Yuri Slezkine, a Russian-born American professor of history at Berkeley. 

The House of Government (HoG) was the home for a decade, 1931-1941, of some members of the Russian Bolshevik elite, whose chronicle of their life and interactions is told, partly in their own words, from their youth through their conversion to communist radicalism to their fate.  Residents in the HoG experienced painful sacrifices; actions of loyalty and betrayal; the turmoil as people were arrested and executed; carefully scripted fake confessions of guilt; erasing of photos, documents, and letters of those declared “enemies”; communication in countless shades of gray; inner torments; ritual silence at times; the apostasy of the children of the Revolution; and the end of Bolshevism as a millenarian faith.

The author had written a previous book, The Jewish Century, making striking comparisons of different cultures by using Greek mythology. Calling Jews a Mercurian people who created concepts and artifacts, as opposed to an Apollonian people, he sees Jews as the embodiment of modernity. They adhere to law and have a penchant for abstract thought.

Slezkine asked an interesting question: how to explain the puzzle that Jews, people of ideas, trade, and movement, who were prominent in the development of capitalism, were also prominent in anti-capitalist movements, especially the Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917?

Part of the explanation appears in the new book, which indicates that Jewish poets, prophets, and propagandists dominated the cultural contingent in the House of Government, and that Jews were disproportionally prominent in delegates to the First All-Russian Congress, in members of the Bolshevik Central Committee, and in officials in the Red Army.

The new book, subtitled “A Saga of the Russian Revolution,” a historical epic with hundreds of characters, emerges from diaries; letters; books read; memoirs of the hopes, fears, and confessions of the inhabitants of the House of Government, a unique apartment house built in a low-lying area, what was a reclaimed swamp in the center of Moscow on the banks of the Moskva river and opposite the Kremlin.  

It housed some of the chief builders of the “new world,” powerful members of the Soviet Union elite, people eminent in politics, military, intelligentsia, and even officials of Gulags and the executioner Lyova Fedotov.  It tells the sad, poignant story of the personal life of residents, often one of pathos, and provides detailed information on the inhabitants and on the shifting personal relations among them.

But the story of the House also epitomizes the rise, decline, and fall of optimistic expectations of a new ideal society, a better life, and paradise on Earth, and depicts the venomous Stalinist terror in the decade from 1931 through the Great Purge beginning in 1936-7 until 1941, during which 680,000 were murdered by the regime.  About a third of the residents of the House disappeared or were killed by the rulers during the ongoing purges.  The House in its original form virtually came to the end with the German invasion of Moscow in October 1941.  The House was no longer a home for Old Bolsheviks.

The 2,700 residents of the House lived in a privileged place, which differed from the normal Russian life, in which families lived in one-room apartments and shared bathroom, toilet, and kitchen.  In contrast, in the HoG, a family got a whole furnished apartment to itself.  The House, since renamed the House on the Embankment, contained 505 furnished apartments with facilities for the privileged families in what was then the largest residential building in Europe. 

Highly luxurious for its time, indeed, the complex is compared by Slezkine to the Dakota in New York City.  It had its own public spaces including a library, tennis court, bank, laundry, gyms, department store, clinic, shooting range, and theaters.  It was a fortress and a dormitory.  It was a place where revolutionaries came home and the revolution came to die.

Among the diverse group of inhabitants in the House were members of the government – Red Army military leaders, writers, business executives, Stakhanovites, film producers, and foreign communists.  Among the more well known personalities were Nikolai Bukharin, Nikita Khrushchev, Yuri Trifonov, Karl Radek, and Mikhail Koltsov, who became a prototype for a character in Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.  Among the intellectuals there, by far the largest group were Jews.  Many residents became victims of the terror, but some, such as Andrei Sverdlov, and members of the secret police, the NKVD, were among the perpetrators of that terror.

Slezkine is an erudite intellectual historian and points out that for the Bolsheviks, reading the treasures of world literature was a crucial part of their experience, and that of their children.  Themes from that literature, which he discusses, are part of the story of the House.  In particular, one work, Goethe’s Faust, was repeatedly invoked.  Slezkine therefore draws on literature, especially that used by the Bolsheviks themselves, to understand the behavior and thoughts of the residents of the House.

The crux of the book is Slezkine’s evaluation of the Bolshevik faith in the context of a discussion of the nature of religion and the religious groups and millenarian movements associated with them.  Slezkine asserts that Karl Marx, like Jesus, succeeded in translating a tribal prophecy (meaning Judaism) into a language of universalism, one of anti-capitalism and aspiration for the resurrection of humankind.

Slezkine sees Bolshevism as a religion that, like other religions, experienced failed prophecies; disappointment; postponements; and, at the end, sacrifices.  In spite of the anticipated “reign of the saints,” Bolsheviks could not transform the country; rather, their belief was transformed by the rulers into a regime conspicuous by the great purges and high-profile victims of Stalin as shown by the unhappy experience of many of the residents of the House of Government.

It is interesting to compare Slezkine’s view of Bolshevism and the Soviet regime with that of President Putin, expressed in speeches and an interview in April 2016.  In June 2012, Putin said Bolshevism in 1917 betrayed Russian national interest and wished to see Russia defeated in World War I, the war with Germany.  In the interview, Putin confesses that he is fond of communist ideas but is critical of Lenin and admits that the Soviet Union began with repression.  Putin is more a Russian nationalist, celebrating patriotism, not ideology.

For Putin, once a believer, the official story of the Soviet Union is little more than a beautiful and harmful fairy tale, the implementation of which or the attempt to put it in practice caused great damage to his country.  Like Slezkine, Putin appears to believe that the basic views of communist ideology were taken from major religious groups.  Building the communism codex is “the same as looking into the Bible or Quran.”

Why did Bolshevism die?  The House of Government never became a Russian national home and Soviet communism became homeless, eventually becoming a ghost.  Ideological single-mindedness could not compete with the humanism of postwar culture.  The Bolshevik Reformation – confessions, denunciations, excommunications, self-criticism – was not popular.

Moreover, it could not reproduce itself at home.  Slezkine argues that revolutions, like all millenarian experiments, are devoured by the children.  Bolshevism is not at all different.  It failed to transform the family or transmit the true faith.  Russian children venerated the memory of their dead parents, yet, though loyal to the country, they had no millenarian faith, as had their parents.

Like other millenarian movements, Christianity and Islam, Bolshevism started out as a men’s movement.  Women represented a small proportion of the original sect members and of the House.  But unlike those other movements, Bolshevism was a one-generation phenomenon.  Children venerated the memory of their fathers but no longer shared their faith.

The prophets vanished, the desired revolution never came, and life in the Swamp resumed. 

In a recent friendly telephone conversation, Russian president Vladimir Putin may well have exclaimed to U.S. President Donald Trump, “Darn that dream I dream each night, but it haunts me and it won’t come true.”  It would be a timely commentary on present-day Russia.  On this 100th anniversary of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, it is  useful to assess the existence and the failure of the dreams of 20th-century Russian Bolsheviks with their aspirations for a new society and a world communist revolution, and the consequent disillusionment of the faithful, and their sad fate, resulting from the disastrous reality of the Soviet regime led by Josef Stalin.

Compelling narratives have been related concerning the drama and tragedy of the Old Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union in powerful and compelling works by Arthur Koestler, George Orwell, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Victor Kravchenko, among others.  Now the narrative is recounted in a massive 1,100-page, brilliant, and extraordinary new book, The House of Government, recently published by Princeton University Press, written by Yuri Slezkine, a Russian-born American professor of history at Berkeley. 

The House of Government (HoG) was the home for a decade, 1931-1941, of some members of the Russian Bolshevik elite, whose chronicle of their life and interactions is told, partly in their own words, from their youth through their conversion to communist radicalism to their fate.  Residents in the HoG experienced painful sacrifices; actions of loyalty and betrayal; the turmoil as people were arrested and executed; carefully scripted fake confessions of guilt; erasing of photos, documents, and letters of those declared “enemies”; communication in countless shades of gray; inner torments; ritual silence at times; the apostasy of the children of the Revolution; and the end of Bolshevism as a millenarian faith.

The author had written a previous book, The Jewish Century, making striking comparisons of different cultures by using Greek mythology. Calling Jews a Mercurian people who created concepts and artifacts, as opposed to an Apollonian people, he sees Jews as the embodiment of modernity. They adhere to law and have a penchant for abstract thought.

Slezkine asked an interesting question: how to explain the puzzle that Jews, people of ideas, trade, and movement, who were prominent in the development of capitalism, were also prominent in anti-capitalist movements, especially the Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917?

Part of the explanation appears in the new book, which indicates that Jewish poets, prophets, and propagandists dominated the cultural contingent in the House of Government, and that Jews were disproportionally prominent in delegates to the First All-Russian Congress, in members of the Bolshevik Central Committee, and in officials in the Red Army.

The new book, subtitled “A Saga of the Russian Revolution,” a historical epic with hundreds of characters, emerges from diaries; letters; books read; memoirs of the hopes, fears, and confessions of the inhabitants of the House of Government, a unique apartment house built in a low-lying area, what was a reclaimed swamp in the center of Moscow on the banks of the Moskva river and opposite the Kremlin.  

It housed some of the chief builders of the “new world,” powerful members of the Soviet Union elite, people eminent in politics, military, intelligentsia, and even officials of Gulags and the executioner Lyova Fedotov.  It tells the sad, poignant story of the personal life of residents, often one of pathos, and provides detailed information on the inhabitants and on the shifting personal relations among them.

But the story of the House also epitomizes the rise, decline, and fall of optimistic expectations of a new ideal society, a better life, and paradise on Earth, and depicts the venomous Stalinist terror in the decade from 1931 through the Great Purge beginning in 1936-7 until 1941, during which 680,000 were murdered by the regime.  About a third of the residents of the House disappeared or were killed by the rulers during the ongoing purges.  The House in its original form virtually came to the end with the German invasion of Moscow in October 1941.  The House was no longer a home for Old Bolsheviks.

The 2,700 residents of the House lived in a privileged place, which differed from the normal Russian life, in which families lived in one-room apartments and shared bathroom, toilet, and kitchen.  In contrast, in the HoG, a family got a whole furnished apartment to itself.  The House, since renamed the House on the Embankment, contained 505 furnished apartments with facilities for the privileged families in what was then the largest residential building in Europe. 

Highly luxurious for its time, indeed, the complex is compared by Slezkine to the Dakota in New York City.  It had its own public spaces including a library, tennis court, bank, laundry, gyms, department store, clinic, shooting range, and theaters.  It was a fortress and a dormitory.  It was a place where revolutionaries came home and the revolution came to die.

Among the diverse group of inhabitants in the House were members of the government – Red Army military leaders, writers, business executives, Stakhanovites, film producers, and foreign communists.  Among the more well known personalities were Nikolai Bukharin, Nikita Khrushchev, Yuri Trifonov, Karl Radek, and Mikhail Koltsov, who became a prototype for a character in Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.  Among the intellectuals there, by far the largest group were Jews.  Many residents became victims of the terror, but some, such as Andrei Sverdlov, and members of the secret police, the NKVD, were among the perpetrators of that terror.

Slezkine is an erudite intellectual historian and points out that for the Bolsheviks, reading the treasures of world literature was a crucial part of their experience, and that of their children.  Themes from that literature, which he discusses, are part of the story of the House.  In particular, one work, Goethe’s Faust, was repeatedly invoked.  Slezkine therefore draws on literature, especially that used by the Bolsheviks themselves, to understand the behavior and thoughts of the residents of the House.

The crux of the book is Slezkine’s evaluation of the Bolshevik faith in the context of a discussion of the nature of religion and the religious groups and millenarian movements associated with them.  Slezkine asserts that Karl Marx, like Jesus, succeeded in translating a tribal prophecy (meaning Judaism) into a language of universalism, one of anti-capitalism and aspiration for the resurrection of humankind.

Slezkine sees Bolshevism as a religion that, like other religions, experienced failed prophecies; disappointment; postponements; and, at the end, sacrifices.  In spite of the anticipated “reign of the saints,” Bolsheviks could not transform the country; rather, their belief was transformed by the rulers into a regime conspicuous by the great purges and high-profile victims of Stalin as shown by the unhappy experience of many of the residents of the House of Government.

It is interesting to compare Slezkine’s view of Bolshevism and the Soviet regime with that of President Putin, expressed in speeches and an interview in April 2016.  In June 2012, Putin said Bolshevism in 1917 betrayed Russian national interest and wished to see Russia defeated in World War I, the war with Germany.  In the interview, Putin confesses that he is fond of communist ideas but is critical of Lenin and admits that the Soviet Union began with repression.  Putin is more a Russian nationalist, celebrating patriotism, not ideology.

For Putin, once a believer, the official story of the Soviet Union is little more than a beautiful and harmful fairy tale, the implementation of which or the attempt to put it in practice caused great damage to his country.  Like Slezkine, Putin appears to believe that the basic views of communist ideology were taken from major religious groups.  Building the communism codex is “the same as looking into the Bible or Quran.”

Why did Bolshevism die?  The House of Government never became a Russian national home and Soviet communism became homeless, eventually becoming a ghost.  Ideological single-mindedness could not compete with the humanism of postwar culture.  The Bolshevik Reformation – confessions, denunciations, excommunications, self-criticism – was not popular.

Moreover, it could not reproduce itself at home.  Slezkine argues that revolutions, like all millenarian experiments, are devoured by the children.  Bolshevism is not at all different.  It failed to transform the family or transmit the true faith.  Russian children venerated the memory of their dead parents, yet, though loyal to the country, they had no millenarian faith, as had their parents.

Like other millenarian movements, Christianity and Islam, Bolshevism started out as a men’s movement.  Women represented a small proportion of the original sect members and of the House.  But unlike those other movements, Bolshevism was a one-generation phenomenon.  Children venerated the memory of their fathers but no longer shared their faith.

The prophets vanished, the desired revolution never came, and life in the Swamp resumed. 



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If Nazis and KKK are Trump's base, how did he win the election?


Big media is in a feeding frenzy this week over Charlottesville and President Trump. So much so that they seem to have forgotten about Russian collusion and North Korea threatening to nuke America. No surprise as most media talking heads have the attention span of a puppy, and an I.Q. to match.

 

They are trying to tie Trump to Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists, saying these groups are Trump’s base. The Hill’s headline, “Trump must throw neo-Nazis and KKK out of his base.” Within their article, they begrudgingly acknowledge, “Most Trump supporters are not racist.” How sporting of them to say that. Does that mean that 49 percent of Trump voters are racists with views in line with Nazis and the KKK?

 

CNN contributor, presidential historian, and left-wing Democrat Douglas Brinkley supplies an actual number, saying “10 to 15 percent of Trump’s base are KKK white nationalists and alt-right racists.” Really? Given that Trump received about 63 million votes, that would mean close to 10 million are KKK members or racists.

The broader implication is that those of us who voted for Donald Trump and still support him are all racists. Not in the abstract, either. A friend of over 40 years who despises Donald Trump called me “a white racist” over my continued support of the president. As if calling me names will make me change my mind.

So how big is this racist Trump base? The far-left Southern Poverty Law Center estimates between 5,000 and 8,000 KKK members in the U.S. All of 0.003 percent of the population. For comparison, Evan McMullin received 700,000 presidential votes in 2016. The KKK couldn’t even affect McMullin’s vote tally in any meaningful way.

The KKK as a voting bloc might influence a mayoral election in a small town but in the presidential election, they are far less than a rounding error. Far more dead persons vote than do KKK members.

What about Nazis? Hard to track but estimates are a few thousand. Likely in the same range of the KKK.

The left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center identifies 917 hate groups in the US. But to be taken with a grain of salt as this self-denoted arbiter of hate that identifies “White Lives Matter” as a hate group but not “Black Lives Matter.” I suppose hate is in the eye of the beholder and that a chant of “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” by Black Lives Matter represents cooking instructions rather than hate toward police.

Let’s be generous and say there are a few hundred thousand various Nazi, KKK or white supremacists in America. Quite the voting bloc. By comparison, 16 million Americans believe Elvis Presley is alive. Now that’s a voting bloc that any presidential candidate would want in their camp.

And a few hundred thousand, assuming they voted for Trump and not Clinton, influenced an election where 130 million votes were cast? Did they all vote for Trump? What about Clinton? A KKK Grand Dragon endorsed Clinton for president. Never mind Trump-Russian collusion. What about Clinton-KKK collusion?

Instead the media and the Democrats should be concerned that one of their own is part of this supposed Trump base. Jason Kessler, organizer of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally is rumored to be a former Occupy Wall Street hooligan and an Obama supporter. Or that baseball shooter James Hodgkinson was a Bernie Sanders supporter and left-wing activist.

It’s the hard-core Democrat base that seems to be behind most of the recent violence, not Trump supporters. But the media wants to paint all Trump voters as Nazi-KKK-supremacists to try to delegitimize his presidency and agenda. With the willing assistance of Republican dupes like Mitt Romney, John McCain and Marco Rubio. Never missing a chance to dump on Trump, going so far as to embrace the Antifa thugs. No wonder the White House eluded all three of them.

Big media is in a feeding frenzy this week over Charlottesville and President Trump. So much so that they seem to have forgotten about Russian collusion and North Korea threatening to nuke America. No surprise as most media talking heads have the attention span of a puppy, and an I.Q. to match.

 

They are trying to tie Trump to Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists, saying these groups are Trump’s base. The Hill’s headline, “Trump must throw neo-Nazis and KKK out of his base.” Within their article, they begrudgingly acknowledge, “Most Trump supporters are not racist.” How sporting of them to say that. Does that mean that 49 percent of Trump voters are racists with views in line with Nazis and the KKK?

 

CNN contributor, presidential historian, and left-wing Democrat Douglas Brinkley supplies an actual number, saying “10 to 15 percent of Trump’s base are KKK white nationalists and alt-right racists.” Really? Given that Trump received about 63 million votes, that would mean close to 10 million are KKK members or racists.

The broader implication is that those of us who voted for Donald Trump and still support him are all racists. Not in the abstract, either. A friend of over 40 years who despises Donald Trump called me “a white racist” over my continued support of the president. As if calling me names will make me change my mind.

So how big is this racist Trump base? The far-left Southern Poverty Law Center estimates between 5,000 and 8,000 KKK members in the U.S. All of 0.003 percent of the population. For comparison, Evan McMullin received 700,000 presidential votes in 2016. The KKK couldn’t even affect McMullin’s vote tally in any meaningful way.

The KKK as a voting bloc might influence a mayoral election in a small town but in the presidential election, they are far less than a rounding error. Far more dead persons vote than do KKK members.

What about Nazis? Hard to track but estimates are a few thousand. Likely in the same range of the KKK.

The left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center identifies 917 hate groups in the US. But to be taken with a grain of salt as this self-denoted arbiter of hate that identifies “White Lives Matter” as a hate group but not “Black Lives Matter.” I suppose hate is in the eye of the beholder and that a chant of “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” by Black Lives Matter represents cooking instructions rather than hate toward police.

Let’s be generous and say there are a few hundred thousand various Nazi, KKK or white supremacists in America. Quite the voting bloc. By comparison, 16 million Americans believe Elvis Presley is alive. Now that’s a voting bloc that any presidential candidate would want in their camp.

And a few hundred thousand, assuming they voted for Trump and not Clinton, influenced an election where 130 million votes were cast? Did they all vote for Trump? What about Clinton? A KKK Grand Dragon endorsed Clinton for president. Never mind Trump-Russian collusion. What about Clinton-KKK collusion?

Instead the media and the Democrats should be concerned that one of their own is part of this supposed Trump base. Jason Kessler, organizer of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally is rumored to be a former Occupy Wall Street hooligan and an Obama supporter. Or that baseball shooter James Hodgkinson was a Bernie Sanders supporter and left-wing activist.

It’s the hard-core Democrat base that seems to be behind most of the recent violence, not Trump supporters. But the media wants to paint all Trump voters as Nazi-KKK-supremacists to try to delegitimize his presidency and agenda. With the willing assistance of Republican dupes like Mitt Romney, John McCain and Marco Rubio. Never missing a chance to dump on Trump, going so far as to embrace the Antifa thugs. No wonder the White House eluded all three of them.



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The Great Robert E. Lee


Robert E. Lee was a great American.  He was in rebellion against his country for four tortuous, bloody years.  At the head of the Army of Northern Virginia, he came darn close to winning Southern independence.  Lee was a brilliant field commander, full of audacity.  His daring was a gift and a bane.  He was a man of integrity.  He was a man of his place and time.  He deserves our remembrance and respect.   

The left – and the mainstream media, the Democratic Party, the race industry, and establishment go-alongs – want to destroy our history.  Destroy anything that honors the men who fought for the South in the Civil War.  Destroy, as the left does – here and abroad – history that doesn’t comport with its worldview.  Destroy it or ignore it and rewrite it, as the Stalinists did.  As Orwell warned.

That’s a villainous mindset.  It contains an awfully destructive logic if not defeated.  The left won’t stop at discarding the soldiers of the South’s rebellion.  It will advance to anything and anyone the left deems inconvenient to its narrative – a narrative it fashions to gain power and control over all of us.  If successful, the left will turn with a terrible vengeance on our founders.  It will eviscerate the nation’s leaders in the generations up to the Civil War, and then beyond.  It’s a means to tyranny.      

Goes the left’s argument: the South’s secession was to preserve an evil institution, slavery – negro slavery, precisely.  In large part, it was.  But we live in dumbed down times, when schools fail to teach, or foist revisionist history on our kids; when history is barely remembered, much less understood; when tens of millions of citizens are open to falsehood, misrepresentation, and certainly lack of context about the momentous events and times and people in the past who shaped our nation.

Robert E. Lee was intimately connected to the nation’s beginnings.  From Biography:

Lee was cut from Virginia aristocracy. His extended family members included a president, a chief justice of the United States, and signers of the Declaration of Independence. His father, Colonel Henry Lee, also known as “Light-Horse Harry,” had served as a cavalry leader during the Revolutionary War and gone on to become one of the war’s heroes, winning praise from General George Washington.

Lee married Mary Custis, whose great grandparents were George and Martha Washington.  He graduated from West Point and distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War.  In the small postwar army, Lee rose to the rank of colonel.  He served as superintendent of the United States Military Academy.   

Lee’s star rose when he was ordered to quell John Brown’s rebellion at Harper’s Ferry.  He was then regarded as a possible leader of the Union army should civil war come. 

When the war came, Lincoln offered Lee command of Union forces.  Lee declined.  It’s important to understand why – and it wasn’t because Lee was pro-slavery.  Like most every American, he was, first and foremost, a citizen of his state: Virginia.  When Virginia seceded, Lee acted from conviction: his duty lay with his state.   

Modern Americans often travel across state lines.  They relocate for work or lifestyle.  They fail to appreciate mid-19th-century life.  Though change was coming, Americans were still overwhelmingly rural, rarely venturing more than a dozen miles from their villages or farms.  The nation was only loosely knitted together through the Revolution, rudimentary media, religion, and culture.  The Civil War commenced just 72 years after Washington was sworn in as president.

Slavery had been contentious from the time the Constitution was debated and drafted.  It remained contentious, in ebbs and flows, throughout the early decades of the republic.  The 1850s saw an escalation in tensions and conflict about the issue.  Lincoln’s election in 1860 proved the deal-breaker for 11 lower Southern states. 

Most Southerners didn’t own slaves.  They couldn’t afford them even if they desired to do so.

Lee didn’t believe in slavery.  From a letter dated December 27, 1856:

There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race.

But, current with some thinking at the time, Lee wrote:

While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter [blacks], my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things.

Most assuredly, slavery was a “moral and political evil.”  Yet Lee’s rationalization that blacks would progress to emancipation after an undefined period as slaves was in broad circulation among “enlightened” Southerners.  Lee was a man of the South, a Virginian with social status.  Racism was prevalent throughout the nation.  Lee’s thinking was deemed progressive.  The temptation is to impose early 21st-century sensibilities on Lee, whose correspondence is 161 years ancient.

The North and South were diverging.  The former was industrializing, while the latter remained agrarian.  The North’s demographics were changing, with influxes of European immigrants.  The North had started to urbanize.        

Lee, like many Southerners, fought for independence, not slavery.  Those Southerners fought Northern tyranny – so perceived, though erroneous.  Had it been a divorce, the South would have filed on grounds of irreconcilable differences.  South Carolinians fired on Fort Sumter because they mistrusted Lincoln.  They chose not to take him at his word.  Reasoned Lincoln: No expansion of slavery, but leave the institution alone where it existed.  Lincoln didn’t share Lee’s view of slavery as civilizing.  He did believe that, in time, it would wither away.  Nowadays, does that make Lincoln an abettor of slavery? 

Lee, the gifted tactician, fought battle after battle against the superior Union army – outmanned, outgunned, out-provisioned.  Lee profited from facing incompetent and feckless Union generals.  Yet his boldness and talent for maneuver were decisive.  Chancellorsville was, perhaps, his greatest victory.  His aim to break the North’s will ran afoul of Gettysburg, which became his great defeat.  U.S. Grant’s advent changed the dynamic.  Grant used superior forces to doggedly pursue Lee, battering Lee’s army, cutting supply lines – finally surrounding him near Appomattox.

But Lee might have escaped Grant’s grip with a remnant of his troops, retreating to the Appalachians, vowing open-ended war, there inspiring or spawning thousands of William Quantrills and Bloody Bill Andersons.  Instead, he surrendered, with no ironclad assurance that he’d not have a date with a hangman’s noose.  Lee’s surrender and peaceful return to Richmond ended the Civil War.

The South wouldn’t reintegrate with the nation for another century.  There would be decades of Southern apartheid (Jim Crow), KKK night ridings, lynchings of blacks – aided and abetted, if not orchestrated, by the Democratic Party.  The Civil Rights Movement and laws closed that horrible chapter.

But the man, Robert E. Lee, must be remembered for the man.  His sense of duty and loyalty to principle are unimpeachable.  He must be seen and regarded in context: a man of achievement in a unique place and moment in time.  Respect Lee; revile slavery. 

The Civil War greatly shaped our nation.  It’s intrinsic to our history, our reality.  It has a truth – terrible, tragic, noble.  Leftist revisionists be damned. 

Robert E. Lee was a great American.  He was in rebellion against his country for four tortuous, bloody years.  At the head of the Army of Northern Virginia, he came darn close to winning Southern independence.  Lee was a brilliant field commander, full of audacity.  His daring was a gift and a bane.  He was a man of integrity.  He was a man of his place and time.  He deserves our remembrance and respect.   

The left – and the mainstream media, the Democratic Party, the race industry, and establishment go-alongs – want to destroy our history.  Destroy anything that honors the men who fought for the South in the Civil War.  Destroy, as the left does – here and abroad – history that doesn’t comport with its worldview.  Destroy it or ignore it and rewrite it, as the Stalinists did.  As Orwell warned.

That’s a villainous mindset.  It contains an awfully destructive logic if not defeated.  The left won’t stop at discarding the soldiers of the South’s rebellion.  It will advance to anything and anyone the left deems inconvenient to its narrative – a narrative it fashions to gain power and control over all of us.  If successful, the left will turn with a terrible vengeance on our founders.  It will eviscerate the nation’s leaders in the generations up to the Civil War, and then beyond.  It’s a means to tyranny.      

Goes the left’s argument: the South’s secession was to preserve an evil institution, slavery – negro slavery, precisely.  In large part, it was.  But we live in dumbed down times, when schools fail to teach, or foist revisionist history on our kids; when history is barely remembered, much less understood; when tens of millions of citizens are open to falsehood, misrepresentation, and certainly lack of context about the momentous events and times and people in the past who shaped our nation.

Robert E. Lee was intimately connected to the nation’s beginnings.  From Biography:

Lee was cut from Virginia aristocracy. His extended family members included a president, a chief justice of the United States, and signers of the Declaration of Independence. His father, Colonel Henry Lee, also known as “Light-Horse Harry,” had served as a cavalry leader during the Revolutionary War and gone on to become one of the war’s heroes, winning praise from General George Washington.

Lee married Mary Custis, whose great grandparents were George and Martha Washington.  He graduated from West Point and distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War.  In the small postwar army, Lee rose to the rank of colonel.  He served as superintendent of the United States Military Academy.   

Lee’s star rose when he was ordered to quell John Brown’s rebellion at Harper’s Ferry.  He was then regarded as a possible leader of the Union army should civil war come. 

When the war came, Lincoln offered Lee command of Union forces.  Lee declined.  It’s important to understand why – and it wasn’t because Lee was pro-slavery.  Like most every American, he was, first and foremost, a citizen of his state: Virginia.  When Virginia seceded, Lee acted from conviction: his duty lay with his state.   

Modern Americans often travel across state lines.  They relocate for work or lifestyle.  They fail to appreciate mid-19th-century life.  Though change was coming, Americans were still overwhelmingly rural, rarely venturing more than a dozen miles from their villages or farms.  The nation was only loosely knitted together through the Revolution, rudimentary media, religion, and culture.  The Civil War commenced just 72 years after Washington was sworn in as president.

Slavery had been contentious from the time the Constitution was debated and drafted.  It remained contentious, in ebbs and flows, throughout the early decades of the republic.  The 1850s saw an escalation in tensions and conflict about the issue.  Lincoln’s election in 1860 proved the deal-breaker for 11 lower Southern states. 

Most Southerners didn’t own slaves.  They couldn’t afford them even if they desired to do so.

Lee didn’t believe in slavery.  From a letter dated December 27, 1856:

There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race.

But, current with some thinking at the time, Lee wrote:

While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter [blacks], my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things.

Most assuredly, slavery was a “moral and political evil.”  Yet Lee’s rationalization that blacks would progress to emancipation after an undefined period as slaves was in broad circulation among “enlightened” Southerners.  Lee was a man of the South, a Virginian with social status.  Racism was prevalent throughout the nation.  Lee’s thinking was deemed progressive.  The temptation is to impose early 21st-century sensibilities on Lee, whose correspondence is 161 years ancient.

The North and South were diverging.  The former was industrializing, while the latter remained agrarian.  The North’s demographics were changing, with influxes of European immigrants.  The North had started to urbanize.        

Lee, like many Southerners, fought for independence, not slavery.  Those Southerners fought Northern tyranny – so perceived, though erroneous.  Had it been a divorce, the South would have filed on grounds of irreconcilable differences.  South Carolinians fired on Fort Sumter because they mistrusted Lincoln.  They chose not to take him at his word.  Reasoned Lincoln: No expansion of slavery, but leave the institution alone where it existed.  Lincoln didn’t share Lee’s view of slavery as civilizing.  He did believe that, in time, it would wither away.  Nowadays, does that make Lincoln an abettor of slavery? 

Lee, the gifted tactician, fought battle after battle against the superior Union army – outmanned, outgunned, out-provisioned.  Lee profited from facing incompetent and feckless Union generals.  Yet his boldness and talent for maneuver were decisive.  Chancellorsville was, perhaps, his greatest victory.  His aim to break the North’s will ran afoul of Gettysburg, which became his great defeat.  U.S. Grant’s advent changed the dynamic.  Grant used superior forces to doggedly pursue Lee, battering Lee’s army, cutting supply lines – finally surrounding him near Appomattox.

But Lee might have escaped Grant’s grip with a remnant of his troops, retreating to the Appalachians, vowing open-ended war, there inspiring or spawning thousands of William Quantrills and Bloody Bill Andersons.  Instead, he surrendered, with no ironclad assurance that he’d not have a date with a hangman’s noose.  Lee’s surrender and peaceful return to Richmond ended the Civil War.

The South wouldn’t reintegrate with the nation for another century.  There would be decades of Southern apartheid (Jim Crow), KKK night ridings, lynchings of blacks – aided and abetted, if not orchestrated, by the Democratic Party.  The Civil Rights Movement and laws closed that horrible chapter.

But the man, Robert E. Lee, must be remembered for the man.  His sense of duty and loyalty to principle are unimpeachable.  He must be seen and regarded in context: a man of achievement in a unique place and moment in time.  Respect Lee; revile slavery. 

The Civil War greatly shaped our nation.  It’s intrinsic to our history, our reality.  It has a truth – terrible, tragic, noble.  Leftist revisionists be damned. 



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Counter-protesters block neo-Nazi march to Berlin prison


Left-wing groups and Berlin residents prevented more than 500 far-right extremists from marching Saturday to the place where high-ranking Nazi official Rudolf Hess died 30 years ago.

Police in riot gear kept the neo-Nazis and an estimated 1,000 counter-protesters apart as the two sides staged competing rallies in the German capital’s western district of Spandau.

Far-right protesters had planned to march to the site of the former Spandau prison, where Hess hanged himself in 1987, but were forced to turn back after about a kilometer (0.6 miles) because of a blockade by counter-protesters.

After changing their route, the neo-Nazis, who had come from all over Germany and neighboring European countries, returned to Spandau’s main station for speeches amid jeers and chants of “Nazis go home!” and “You lost the war!” from counter-protesters.

Authorities had imposed restrictions on the march to ensure that it passed peacefully. Organizers were told they couldn’t glorify Hess or the Nazi regime, carry weapons, drums or torches, and could bring only one flag for every 25 participants.

40,000 PEOPLE RALLY AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY IN BOSTON

Such restrictions are common in Germany and rooted in the experience of the pre-war Weimar Republic, when opposing political groups would try to forcibly interrupt their rivals’ rallies, resulting in frequent street violence.

Police in Germany say they generally try to balance protesters’ rights to free speech and free assembly against the rights of counter-demonstrators and residents. The rules mean that shields, helmets and batons carried by far-right and Neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville wouldn’t be allowed in Germany.  Openly anti-Semitic chants would also prompt German police to intervene.

Neo-Nazi protesters on Saturday were frisked and funneled through tents where police checked them for weapons, forbidden flags and tattoos showing symbols banned in Germany, such as the Nazi swastika. A number of far-right protesters emerged from the tents with black tape covering their arms or legs.

Organizers imposed a number of their own rules on the marchers: they were encouraged to wear smart, white shirts and were told not to speak to the media.

Among those demonstrating against the neo-Nazis was Jossa Berntje from the western city of Koblenz. The 64-year-old cited the clashes in Charlottesville and her parents’ experience of living under the Nazis as her reason for coming.

“The rats are coming out of the sewers,” she said. “(President Donald) Trump has made it socially acceptable.”

Hess, who received a life sentence at the Nuremberg trials for his role in planning World War II, died on Aug. 17, 1987. Allied authorities ruled his death a suicide, but Nazi sympathizers have long claimed he was killed and organize annual marches in his honor.

Those annual far-right marches used to take place in the Bavarian town of Wunsiedel, where Hess was buried until authorities removed his remains.



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Trump adviser Icahn resigned ahead of negative magazine story


Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who resigned Friday from an unpaid post as President Donald Trump’s adviser on deregulation efforts, stepped down as The New Yorker was preparing to publish a lengthy article detailing Icahn’s potential conflicts of interest and questioning the legality of his actions.

Icahn said in a letter to Trump released Friday that he would resign to prevent “partisan bickering” about his role that Democrats suggested could benefit him financially.

The resignation came just three days before The New Yorker was scheduled to post its story online and begin selling printed magazines on newsstands. In the story, the magazine points out potential conflicts and even possible criminal law violations involving obscure rules that require oil refineries to blend ethanol into gasoline.

In his letter, Icahn wrote that he “never had access to nonpublic information or profited from my position, nor do I believe that my role presented conflicts of interest.”

But The New Yorker wrote that in 2012, Icahn, who made his name and fortune as a corporate raider, bought an 82 percent stake in CVR Energy, a Sugar Land, Texas, refinery. To comply with regulations designed to promote use of ethanol, refiners must blend the renewable fuel with their gasoline or buy credits from other refiners that are called “Renewable Identification Numbers.”

When Icahn bought his stake in CVR in 2012, the credits were cheap, about 5 cents each, so rather than equip refineries to add ethanol to its gas, the company just purchased credits. But by 2016 CVR was spending $200 million per year to buy them, and its stock value had dropped 70 percent from the prior year, the story said.

Icahn unsuccessfully tried to get the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency to change the point at which the ethanol blending was required, making it closer to the gas pump so refiners weren’t responsible and CVR wouldn’t have to buy the credits, the magazine wrote.

Several weeks after Trump’s November victory, Icahn agreed to become special adviser to the president on regulatory reform, and CVR’s stock nearly doubled in value on the expectation that the renewable fuels rule would be changed, the magazine wrote.

On Dec. 22, the day after Icahn was formally declared a White House adviser, the price of the credits dropped. Then, on Feb. 27, news leaked that Icahn had struck a deal with the Renewable Fuels Association to change the ethanol blending requirement. That sent the price of credits down more, and it fell further when word leaked that an executive order on ethanol blending was imminent.

Previously the Renewable Fuels Association had opposed any changes, the magazine said. The association’s head later said he was told by Icahn that the blending point would be changed whether the association objected or not, so he agreed to take a deal to his board.

Early in the year, CVR actually was selling renewable fuel credits, the magazine wrote. It was able to buy them later at a discount to meet federal requirements, according to the story.

A day after news of the deal with the Renewable Fuels Association, the White House denied there was any plan to change the renewable fuel requirements, and no such change was made, according to the magazine.

Icahn’s attorney, Jesse Lynn, rejected allegations that Icahn exploited his relationship with Trump to make bets on the renewable fuel credits. He said the CVR board, which Icahn chairs, made decisions on when buy or sell credits. “Any suggestion that we had access to information that others didn’t is unequivocally false,” he told the magazine.

Richard Painter, a former chief White House ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush, told the magazine that a federal law makes it illegal for executive-branch employees to work on matters in which they have a financial interest. Lynn said the law doesn’t apply to Icahn because he had no official role or duty. But Painter said Icahn’s title was clearly an official one. He suggested the Justice Department should be investigating.

Painter, reached Saturday by The Associated Press, said Icahn faces potential legal exposure to insider trading laws as well as other fraud statutes “if he took information from the White House or government in violation of any relationship or trust.”

Despite being unpaid, his job title as adviser to the president exposes him to possible legal action, Painter said. “When you have a title like that, that’s ‘to the president,’ it’s very hard to argue that you’re not a government employee,” Painter said.

A spokeswoman for CVR Energy would not comment when reached Saturday by The AP.



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