by baldilocks

It’s strange how mundane things can trigger memories. That happens to me here in my native Los Angeles whenever I drive on one of the connections between Interstate 5 and Interstate 110. The southbound 5 to southbound 110 transition is a little stretch of two lane highway which looks like it was carved into the hill next to it. Though it’s in the process of an upgrade, for decades it looked rickety enough to crumble with a good, trademark Southern California shaker.

But there it hangs, for at least as far back as I can recall. Trucks, buses, etc. have sat on it in traffic jams headed toward downtown LA – or to Dodger Stadium — for decades and probably are doing so as I type these words.

Many years ago, another vehicle had occasion to take this tiny stretch of highway: my great-uncle (1920-2000), great-aunt (1921-2012) and I would be on our way home from Lake Isabella and, when we hit that part, I knew we were close to home.

Among my mementos is an identical postcard.

My uncle had one of those pick-up trucks with a camper on the back; a nice one, big enough for three. (Do they still make those things?) We’d go over that road and, I, with a six-year-old’s a vivid imagination, would get the feeling that our truck was too big for the road and that we were going to fall off into some unknown abyss that waited for us. Fortunately, it takes about fifteen seconds–traffic willing—to run over this part of the freeway, so my morbid imaginings never had time to bloom into full-blown panic.

I used to get an inkling of that panic as I drove over the stretch, but now, the panic is gone and the sweet memories of a happy childhood remain. I’m very grateful for them.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

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Last week I wrote about the political reasons for Niki Tsongas’ decision to not seek re-election in the 3rd district now let me say a few things about her.

It’s been my experience that people in general like her. My local paper the Sentinel and Enterprise which I quoted yesterday had quite few things to say on the subject. This comment from Fitchburg Mayor Steve DiNatale was typical

“She’s one of the few people in such a powerful position that I’ve known in my years of public service that you can phone up and get a response,” said Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale. “We’re going to miss that.”

I can vouch for this. I interviewed Tsongas for the first time during the Fitchburg 4th of July Parade when Fitchburg was removed from the 1st district and moved to the 3rd when Massachusetts lost yet another seat in congress.

and I covered her regularly. In the four years that she was my rep I covered her campaigns, her debates and events. She was always polite and always took the time to invite me to cover events when she was in the area even though she knew I was opposed to her. This piece from my Examiner.com days puts it well (via the wayback machine):

She also commented on the various scandals, saying we must learn from Benghazi and stating bluntly “IRS must be unquestionably A-political” but when questioned on an independent counsel ducked instead praising the President for being public and active in his efforts to increase transparency.

While one might question her definition of transparency on the part of the White House there is no question of her own. She took more than a dozen questions from different voters, invited others to leave recorded messages. Asked several poll questions to get feedback from all people on the call and not only didn’t exclude people who disagreed her she proactively called them to be invited to the event.

That willingness to engage can’t but help in 2014 which promises to be a tougher election than the last. Agree or disagree on issues one can’t help but note the first job of a Representative is to treat the voters you represent properly.

Don’t get me wrong she was a savvy pol and this was reflected in easy wins in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Perhaps if she was in a less competitive district she might have been tougher on conservative media but even if she always voted against me she was never afraid to hear the opinions of her political opponents nor was she one to demonize us.

Put simply, the only bad words I have to say about Niki Tsongas concern her voting record. She is a lady who respected the people she represented and in an age when Maxine Waters is the face of the Democrat Party and the left is literally gunning for Republicans, that respect is going to be missed.  The Democrat Party is poorer for their loss of her.

An Ivy League professor, a Google engineer, and a writer for a leftist publication walked into a bar…

Even though they didn’t actually join one another over a round of drinks, the group provided an interesting cocktail of ideas that provided some inconvenient truths and interrupted the annoying noise of news in recent days.

Amy Wax, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Larry Alexander, a law professor at the University of San Diego, have offered insights into the role of diversity and today’s culture. It is not a pretty picture.

In a recent column in philly.com, they wrote: “A combination of factors — prosperity, the Pill, the expansion of higher education, and the doubts surrounding the Vietnam War — encouraged an antiauthoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal — sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll — that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society.

“All cultures are not equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy,” they continued. “If the bourgeois cultural script — which the upper-middle class still largely observes but now hesitates to preach — cannot be widely reinstated, things are likely to get worse for us all.”

Professors Wax and Alexander obviously did not swallow the academic pill that promotes diversity over everything else and sees all cultures as equal.

“Would the re-embrace of bourgeois norms by the ordinary Americans who have abandoned them significantly reduce society’s pathologies? There is every reason to believe so. Among those who currently follow the old precepts, regardless of their level of education or affluence, the homicide rate is tiny, opioid addiction is rare, and poverty rates are low. Those who live by the simple rules that most people used to accept may not end up rich or hold elite jobs, but their lives will go far better than they do now. All schools and neighborhoods would be much safer and more pleasant. More students from all walks of life would be educated for constructive employment and democratic participation,” they said.

Read the entire column at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/paying-the-price-for-breakdown-of-the-countrys-bourgeois-culture-20170809.html

But Professors Wax and Alexander are not alone. James Damore, a software engineer, wrote the now-famous treatise: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.

“At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices,” he wrote in the 10-page memo.

Damore, who lost his job after the document went viral, described himself as a “classic liberal.” His argument that some women may be less temperamentally suited to work as engineers than men got him into hot water. Here is the entire memo: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/evzjww/here-are-the-citations-for-the-anti-diversity-manifesto-circulating-at-google

But there’s more. The Nation, a historically left-leaning magazine, published an article arguing that Russia may not have been behind the hack of the computers at the Democratic National Committee. Instead, the hack may have been the work of a DNC insider, The Nation reported. Here is the article: https://www.thenation.com/article/a-new-report-raises-big-questions-about-last-years-dnc-hack/

Not surprisingly, the left attacked each of these individuals who failed to conform with today’s overarching memes. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to see alternative viewpoints as part of an actual debate about important issues that run against the grain of conventional wisdom, particularly in light of the continuing screeds after the events in Charlottesville.

Marshall Rooster Cogburn: …you can forget about your duty.
Eula Goodnight: Your own General Lee thought it was the most beautiful word in the English language.
Marshall Rooster Cogburn: What the devil do you know of General Lee?
Eula Goodnight: That he was a christian gentleman who was soundly whipped in the field by Yankees!

Rooster Cogburn 1975

As a general rule I’m opposed to playing games with history and reality. History is what it is and a lot of trouble happens when you try to fiddle with it for the sake of an agenda. That basis also is sufficient to oppose removing the confederate monuments in the south, much better, in my opinion to put up other monuments near and/or with them and explain how and why these folks thought what they thought, why they choose to fight and what the general condition of both American and world culture was so people understand how a nation’s decision to kick the slavery can down the road for 60 years led to a destructive Civil War. And given our current situation lessons on how to avoid such a war might be a pretty good idea.

But there is one more point that I think overrides all of these considerations in my mind and should be taken into account by all those self righteous virtue signaling folk trying to use this to raise their own political profile by playing the “triggered” card.

There were hundreds of thousands of Union causalities in the civil war. According to the US Parks service over 340,000 died (over 110K in battle). Furthermore another 275,000 were wounded meaning tens of thousands of US soldiers spent the rest of their lives maimed because of the various generals honored by those statues and the troops who served under them.

Yet not only didn’t those Union Soldiers begrudge the south honoring those who tried to kill them or succeeded in crippling them, but the elected representatives of the Union survivors not only felt no need to force the removal of said monuments but were perfectly happy to vote honors in those directions even though:

  1. The southern states never at any time held a congressional majority
  2. The Union vets and their children were a significant voting block that drove elections nationally for decades.
  3. After the Civil war no southerner occupied the White House until every single Civil War Vet from both sides was dead and said southerner (LBJ) only became president due to Kennedy’s assassination.

Why didn’t they care? I suspect it was because they understood that the south had lost the war and lost it big time.

Again turning to park service numbers out of a population of 5.5 non slaves the south suffered over 483,000 casualties, nearly a tenth of the entire population. Over 194,000 confederate soldiers came home wounded and when they did come home they found cities destroyed, their countryside practically picked clean by the armies that had slaughtered and maimed their military age population and found that their wealth had been drained faster than a sink unclogged by liquid plumber.

The Union vets and their children were wise enough to understand that no monument even if carved of the best marble or stone whether in a city square or on the side of a mountain could change the fact that the south in general and the southern armies in particular were thoroughly and utterly defeated.

To my mind if the children of those union soldiers, not to mention the men themselves who were targeted for death and destruction by the subjects of those figures depicted in those statues, weren’t offended enough by them to force their removal how much less of a claim do we have generations later to be so offended that those monuments must go?

Let em keep their rocks.

Update: A pretty good counter argument here