By John Ruberry

“So you’ll be paying yourself to build a railroad with government subsidies.” Sen. Jordan Crane to Thomas “Doc” Durant.

“These are exciting times. You and I are opening the way for the greatest nation the world has ever seen.” Major Augustus Bendix to Cullen Bohannon.

“See him driving those golden nails
that hold together the silver bars
That one day’s gonna take us to the stars
cos he’s the man who built America.”
Horslips, from their song, The Man Who Built America.

“A new chapter of American greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation. And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp. What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit.” President Donald J. Trump to Congress last week.

Last week I completed my latest binge-watching endeavor, Hell on Wheels, an AMC show that ran from 2011-2016 that is available on Netflix and on Amazon.

The building of the American transcontinental is the driving force of the plot of this series–the Union Pacific heading west from Omaha and the Central Pacific heading east from Sacramento.

The transcontinental railroad exemplified America at its best–getting the job done 16 years before Canada and 36 years before Russia. It also exemplified America at its worst. Racism and corruption–the Crédit Mobilier outrage was one of our nation’s worst political scandals and it forever tainted this monumental achievement.

The Civil War purged America of slavery, the nation was no longer “a house divided against itself,” but in 1865 the United States was in a way like an uncompleted jigsaw puzzle, the east and west coasts, the easy part, were settled but much of the middle–the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, still needed to be filled in.

Hell on Wheel’s main character is Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), a former slaveholder and Confederate cavalry officer who travels to Nebraska Territory to hunt down Union soldiers who murdered his wife and son in Mississippi. Despite that ruthlessness–make that because of that ruthlessness–Union Pacific president Thomas “Doc” Durant (Colm Meaney) takes him under his wing, although their relationship is mostly turbulent throughout the run of the series.

Bohannon isn’t the only character scarred by the turmoil of mid-19th century America. Elam Ferguson (Common) and Psalms Jackson (Dohn Norwood) are freedmen who quickly learn that freedom from slavery doesn’t mean equality. The Reverend Nathaniel Cole (Tom Noonan) and his daughter Ruth (Kasha Kropinski), suffer from pangs of guilt remaining from Bleeding Kansas. The Rev. Cole’s most prominent convert to Christianity, Joseph Black Moon (Eddie Spears), is estranged from his father, a Cheyenne chief. The most compelling character on the show, Thor “The Swede” Gunderson (Christopher Heyerdahl), is a Norwegian immigrant and former Union army quartermaster–a man who says he is good with numbers, but after his barbaric incarceration at the notorious Andersonville prisoner of war camp, he ascertained that “I had to control people like I control numbers and I learned to practice a sort of immoral mathematics.”

The Swede is Hell On Wheels’ principal villain and if there is ever a Villains Hall Of Fame built, then he belongs as a charter member.

Another intriguing HoW character is Irish immigrant Mickey McGuinnes (Phil Burke), who like Durant, finds a way to make himself a success after starting with nothing. One of his workers is a tattooed former prostitute and a Jack Mormon, Eva (Robin McLeavy). She was captured by Indians after her family’s wagon train was waylaid.

The final season of Hell on Wheels brings in the storyline of the Central Pacific. Movie posters for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly boasted, “For three men the Civil War wasn’t hell. It was practice!” The Chinese laborers on the Central Pacific can be forgiven for having a similar dismissive view of our Civil War, which killed 600,000 Americans. Emotional scars from the Taiping Rebellion plague many of the Chinese characters. That conflict, which was actually a civil war between Imperial China and a man claiming to be the brother of Jesus Christ, probably killed 20-30 million people–after the famine deaths are added in. Some estimates bring the death total as high as 100 million. If that last figure is correct, then the Taiping Rebellion was the deadliest war ever.

Life is cheap in both the Union Pacific and Central Pacific camps–both are served by brothels, although opium is offered at the latter instead of whiskey.

Durant was a real person, although his portrayal in Hell on Wheels is largely fictional. Other historical figures appearing include Wyoming’s territorial governor John Campbell (Jack Weber), President Ulysses S. Grant (Victor Slezak), and Brigham Young (Gregg Henry). Eva’s character was based on an actual woman, as was the man in the show who survived a scalping. He carries his scalp in a bottle of alcohol–and offers paid listeners a recounting of his ordeal. The phrase “Hell on Wheels” is a real one in this context, it’s what the tent cities that followed the construction of the Union Pacific were called.

Blogger walking the rails

In the penultimate HoW episode, there is a prescient moment as black and Chinese workers rush to finish the road in 1869. Above them you see the moon. One hundred years later, yes, in 1969, “the greatest nation the world has ever seen” reached the moon. No country has repeated that feat or even attempted it.

Yes, American exceptionalism is real.

If you enjoy westerns, you’ll find Hell on Wheels worth your while. But if you are looking for romance–then look elsewhere. Mount is a fine actor but love encounters are not his long suit. And what was the point of his sex scene on top of a table with fused nitroglycerine on it?

As with most westerns, the cinematography is first-rate–with Alberta filling in capably for Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and California. It would be better if movies about America would be filmed here, but that’s another subject for another time.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

“It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards.”

General US Grant 1861

One of the most amusing stories from the Civil War is the siege of Yorktown.  General George McClellan had landed the Union army on the James peninsula a grand flanking move in his attempt to capture Richmond and win the war.  The first obstacle was Yorktown the site of the ultimate defeat of the British in the American Revolution.

McClellan has three times the number of troops as the Confederates facing him had a vast superiority of material & artillery both in terms of number and quality but convinced by “experts” that the rebel force what much stronger than his (aided by the theatrics of Confederate Gen John Magruder, was determined to wait until every single thing was exactly the way he wanted it before making his move.

This frustrated his own generals and amazed his counterpart Joseph Johnston who said:  “No one but McClellan could have hesitated to attack.” who took advantage of the time to withdraw his forces to a better position

In the end when McClellan finally moved forward the confederates were nowhere to be seen.

McClellan claimed victory he had gained Yorktown with a minimum of casualties, and congratulated himself on his tactical brilliance.

In doing so he forgot the War was not being fought to take Yorktown.  The war was being fought to defeat the confederacy.  McClellan’s hesitation cost him the chance to perhaps win the war before a man named Lee was put in charge of the rebel army.  the price of that hesitation was two more years of war,  tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars of destruction.

And that brings us to the GOP senate.

We keep hearing from Senators like Mitch McConnell and some candidates like Lindsey Graham and John Kasich that to fight against Barack Obama is futile, that it takes us away from the goal of electing a GOP president.

Now if your only goal is to win an election and to hold a seat of power that argument makes some sense.  Why rock the boat and do anything that might provoke a response against you?

But if your goal in holding office is to actually advance a series of idea and positions for the good for the country & its future, ideas that the people who voted for you want, that’s totally different.

Consider the newly lionized Carly Fiorina on the Planned Parenthood issue.  By not abandoning the issue and pressing it directly she put the left on the spot, forcing them to defend the indefensible.

Or consider Ben Carson and noting Sharia law the media and the left defend a set of rules that oppresses women it because the dirty little secret is a lot of voters are silent because they are afraid of pushback but you know what, nobody is over their shoulder in the voting booth.

Alternatively,  by not forcing the left to act, by allowing them victories without even a fight all you do is strengthen them, you give them a chance to husband their resources, you allow them to not even have to defend their positions to the media and the public and you reinforce the intimidation of voters who are silent out of fear.

 

Make the attack, make the case and every single time you are invited on a show take stills of the planned parenthood videos with you and when the host attempts to push the “shutting down the government” or “hurting the innocent” line at you, show those pictures and ask:  “Are you seriously saying that Democrats won’t allow government to function unless we fund this?”  Note that silence on this issue is no different that silence on the abuse of Boys in Afghanistan.  

Make them more afraid of you they you are of them, because if they were not afraid of the truth they would tell it.

Less McClellan more Grant please.

Update: Drew M at Ace’s site nails it pretty well

The correct question for Ayotte and her ilk is, what are you willing to do to break the Democrats ability to control the agenda of the United States Congress so long as they can muster 41 votes?

Team GOP will tell you, “if you want anything done you need to elect a Republican president”. Here’s the thing…imagine that everything was exactly the same right now with the exception that say, Marco “Amnesty” Rubio is the president. The Senate Democrats will still have 41 votes in the Senate, so they’d still be able to filibuster any effort to defund Planned Parenthood (or anything else conservatives want done). And of course, they’d be joined by the likes of Mark Kirk and Susan Collins who are siding with the Democrats now.

Do you imagine the Democrats will suddenly be in a bipartisan mood if Rubio or any Republican is elected next year? Or do you think they will gum up the works as they have been in the hopes of increasing their numbers come the 2018 mid-terms?

Yeah.

More Grant , Less McClellan
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I know you can get the MSM for nothing, but that’s pretty much what they’re good for.

by baldilocks

I’m deep into research and Breitbart provides one of the keys/tracks/clues via The Truth about LBJ and MLK–a piece which is tangential to the release of the movie Selma.

The truth is that Lyndon Baines Johnson was a life-long segregationist who resisted numerous attempts to eliminate the poll tax and literacy tests during his twenty-three year career in the House and Senate. He blocked every major and minor piece of meaningful civil rights legislation as the leader of the Southern block in the US Senate, and as its powerful Majority Leader.

It was Lyndon Johnson who neutered the 1957 Civil Rights Act with a poison pill amendment that required violators of the Act be tried before state (all-white), not federal juries. Many contemporary liberals including Joseph Rauh, the president of Americans for Democratic Action, and A. Philip Randolph, a vice president of the AFL-CIO, called the bill worthless, and “worse than no bill at all.”Martin_Luther_King,_Jr._and_Lyndon_Johnson_2

As Vice President, Lyndon Johnson orchestrated southern congressional opposition to JFK’s civil rights agenda and repeatedly warned JFK to go slow on the civil rights, voting rights, and open housing legislation that Kennedy had promised in his 1960 campaign.

LBJ, it seems, was reserving these initiatives for himself. He repeatedly cautioned President Kennedy to wait “until the time is right.” On Capitol Hill, Johnson simultaneously lobbied his “establishment” friends to stall that same legislation.

Johnson would do an about-face on civil rights immediately upon becoming president, apparently now that the “time was right.” He did so to begin the creation of a grand legacy for himself through the passage of the same legislation that he had previously impeded, and to fend-off a challenge from Robert F. Kennedy at the 1964 Democratic convention.

His maneuvering also gave him currency in the left wing of his party so that he could escalate the Vietnam War unimpeded, having won its support.  He had also promised his longtime supporters in the defense contracting business, as well as the Pentagon, that after he was reelected “you’ll get your war.”

What am I researching? I’m trying to find an easy to understand method of how we got to where we are–intellectually speaking–with respect to education and racial enmity. As I’m doing so, an interesting thing is happening: I’m having my assumptions challenged, including the assumption that I know this part of history.

Traveling…

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 in 2015. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or contribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>baldilocks

by baldilocks

Rawlins: And what are you? So full of hate you want to go out and fight everybody! Because you’ve been whipped and chased by hounds. Well that might not be living, but it sure as hell ain’t dying. And dying’s been what these white boys have been doing for going on three years now! Dying by the thousands! Dying for *you*, fool! I know, ’cause I dug the graves. And all this time I keep askin’ myself, when, O Lord, when it’s gonna be our time? Gonna come a time when we all gonna hafta ante up. Ante up and kick in like men. LIKE MEN!

Glory, 1989

Glory–a fictionalization of the Union Army’s all-black 54th Massachusetts Regiment, lead by a white officer, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw–is one of my favorite movies for a lot of reasons, but, in particular, the last three sentences of the above monologue by Rawlins (played by Morgan Freeman) have stayed with me.

The spirit of that movie–that history–was evoked this week in Ferguson, MO by another set of men.

A group of black Ferguson residents armed with high-powered rifles stood outside a white-owned business in the city during recent riots, protecting it from rioters that looted and burned other businesses.

After a grand jury returned no indictment against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown, protesters took to the streets and the demonstrations quickly turned into rioting. Several buildings were set ablaze, but a group of heavily armed black men stood outside a Conoco gas station.

One of the residents, a 6-foot-8 man named Derrick Johnson, held an AR-15 assault [sic] rifle as he stood in a pickup truck near that store’s entrance. Three other black Ferguson residents joined Johnson in front of the store, each of them armed with pistols.

2013-09-15 17.41.07
Robert Gould Shaw and his men…and another Presence–no, not the horse

Like men. Not like black men, or like white men–or like puling infants in the bodies of men–but men.

Sure, they liked the owner–who had given them employment over the years, but so what? (Side note: lately I’ve been saying to all who won’t cover their ears that free persons create their own jobs.) One good turn is often reciprocated by a stab in the back. It has happened to me more than once.

But that’s not what happened in this case.

Do either of these sets of men owe anything to the other for doing right? I say no. Any other attitude smacks of patronage.

Doing what’s right is often its own reward and, sometimes, there is only one Observer. And the ripples are seemingly invisible. But they exist.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2015.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

 

Or contribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>

 baldilocks

 

While I was at the Niki Tsongas event I met Stephen Twining of the Sons of Union Veterans who spoke to me about the organization and some Civil War History.

You can find out more about the Sons of Union Veterans here

As you might guess there is a such an organization for the Confederate side of the aisle as well. You can find them here.

Today’s Subscription video talks about the difference between Strategic thinking vs Tactical thinking and includes a bit of Civil War History.

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We are only a week away from DaTechGuy 100th show Celebration at Lago’s Ristorante on October 20th. We will be broadcasting live from 10-noon and then staying till 2 to eat and say hello to all the people who made 100 weeks possible.

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In 1863 after Robert E Lee’s defeat and retreat from Pennsylvania The Confederate Government detached James Longstreet and his troops from the Army of Northern Virginia and sent them to reinforce General Braxton Bragg in an attempt to go on the offense in the Western Theatre of operations.

Reincorced, Bragg attacked union general William Rosecrans at Chickamauga. During the 2nd day of the battle Rosecrans, reacting to incorrect information, pulled a unit out of the battle line to plug a nonexistent hole just as a Confederate Attack exploded at that very spot they vacated. The resulting rout was only slowed by the heroic efforts of General George Thomas “The Rock of Chickamauga” whose spirited defense held a good chunk of the Confederate army in check.

Nevertheless the ensuing retreat toward Chattanooga was dogged by Nathan Bedford Forest cavalry. Forrest reporting on the state of the retreating federals suggested to Bragg: “I think we ought to press forward as rapidly as possible”. When Bragg (who at first refused to believe the enemy was retreating) replied that supplies were critically short Forest said: “General Bragg, we can get all the supplies our army needs in Chattanooga.” and continued to urge immediate pursuit to keep the pressure on and take Chattanooga before the enemy could fortify.

Bragg however was not only was slow to follow-up, when he eventually reached Chattanooga he settled down for a siege. “What does he fight battles for?” was Forest’s disgusted reaction.

Eventually U.S. Grant was dispatched to reinforce and take over the Union forces from Rosecrans. Grant after noting some excellent suggestions made by his predecessor wondering “why he had not carried them out”, got to work, first re-establishing a supply line (the cracker line) and then, going on the offensive, drove Bragg and his army off of the high ground he so confidently occupied and sent them reeling back into Georgia.

The Union Army were able to do this because of the inaction and hesitation of Bragg who, after what should have been a decisive victory gave his foes breathing space to rethink and reconsider their plans …

…which brings us to the aftermath of the great GOP victory in Wisconsin.

On the left reactions swings from fear:

the people that are behind Walker outside of the state, they don’t ever want to see a Democratic President again. I mean, their mission is to get a supermajority in the Senate, keep the majority in the House, win the White House and change this country to their ideology no matter what any poll says. And so, what is the message to Americans tonight if this is a template on how the rest of the country is gonna go. I believe it’s some pretty damn scary stuff.

To outright denial:

Lawrence O’Donnell declared President Obama the “big winner” of Tuesday night’s Wisconsin recall election.

O’Donnell hosted the network’s breaking news coverage of the Wisconsin recall election results, along with MSNBC political analyst John Heilemann. O’Donnell called Obama the “big winner” after exit polls indicated that the president fared better among Wisconsin voters than GOP candidate Mitt Romney.

The Obama administration doesn’t seem to feel that way:

In an email to supporters, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina called Tuesday’s outcome — and, more specifically, the super-PAC money spent on Walker — a “terrifying experiment.”

On Tuesday night MSNBC’s hosts spent the entire evening practically heartbroken while the one constant that we have heard from everyone was the effect of money on this race, while people like Barney Frank who were notably silent before are now suddenly saying how foolish it was to get in this fight to begin with.

In other words the left is demoralized, broken and convinced that we can outspend them everywhere.

What do I say to this, GOOD! lets keep them thinking this way!

Consider unlike Braxton Bragg the GOP is not coming off of a single win but repeated victories on the Wisconsin River and these wins don’t even take into consideration repeated signs of the weakness of the left and their allies for two full years.

Moreover the left didn’t lose because the people didn’t see their point due to money, they lost because the people saw their agenda unmasked by their actions:

The left’s problem in Wisconsin wasn’t that the right had too much money. The left’s problem is that the left’s agenda didn’t have enough support from the public. Poll after poll after poll showed that the public didn’t share the left’s estimation of the Walker reforms. Many thought they were a pretty good idea; many others didn’t much like the reforms but didn’t think they were bad enough or important enough to justify a year of turmoil and a recall election.

Some on the right see what is happening at Chicago Boyz they are calling this: The Stalingrad of the Left, while Sarah Palin is bluntly saying: “Obama’s goose is cooked.” While Vodka Pundit agrees with my get Cocky not lazy statement.

That is precisely the right attitude. We see the vile progs get cocky after every single election they win, while winners on the right usually try to maintain a stately decorum.

I say: Screw that. We knocked their dicks in the dirt last night, and we ought to act like it. Yes, Walker should keep the attitude low-key. But those of us on the blogs, in the trenches, on the news — we should be rubbing their noses in their own filth and swat them on their asses. Bad proggies, bad.

So don’t let up the pressure. Don’t let up the mocking. We’ve got five months until November, and a lot of hard work to do. And the absolute best thing you, personally, can do, is convince a prog that all is already lost. Convince him that his best course of action is to stay in the basement on election day and spare himself the pain and humiliation of having voted for this SCoaMF a second time.

Keep up the ‘tude. Don’t knuckle under to the progs’ bully-boy tactics. Taunt these losers for being the losers they are. And work your bottom off from now until November, and we’ll get that 57-state sweep.

I know that the Romney campaign is by nature conservative but this is a time to act and act nationally. It’s not just a question of Wisconsin now being in play. We of the GOP need to make OTHER states and districts in play.

First of all we need to get behind freshmen republicans like Tom Marino in Pennsylvania, Renee Ellmers in North Carolina and Ann Marie Buerkle in NY in the house and Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, the man who started it all.

It is these freshmen that the left sees as their best opportunity let them know we are going to go all in to keep the where they are.

Second of all we need to contest open seats, in FL-7 backing guys like Mark Oxner against the Hero of the far Left icon Alan Grayson, we need to back Sean Bielat over Joe Kennedy in Ma-4 and keep the pressure on.

And in races that others might not have considered we need to advance, in Ma-3 we need to challenge Niki Tsongas (Both Jon Golnik & Tom Weaver are excellent candidates), in ma-5 we have to back Jeff Semon over Ed Markey in Maryland we need to back Anthony O’Donnell in the 5th & Patrick Murray in the 8th.

We need every congressional and state democrat around the country worrying not how they can help their national ticket, but about holding their own re-election chances, and more importantly we need to make sure their donor base believes that dollars invested in supporting these candidates are quixotic at best and idiocy at worst.

The left has created the narrative of the invincible Republican Money machines, I say chase them and hound them with that narrative so they are more worried about saving their own skin than turning around to fight. Or as I’ve been saying for more than a year…

Ride Right Through Them They’re Demoralized as Hell

If instead we like Braxton Bragg give them time to rest and reorganize and perhaps find a new field general while we sit on our high mountain waiting for them to give up we set ourselves up for the same kind of reversal.

And it will be our own fault.

During the Atlanta Campaign Confederate Commander Joseph Johnston was in a dilemma. Outnumbered 2-1 he was not in the position to crush the advancing forces of William T. Sherman. His best bet was to delay Sherman and look for a chance to hit him in detail or to force him into a deadly frontal assault. (such as Kennesaw Mountain).

Sherman with his superior force managed to flank Johnston again and again forcing him back until Atlanta was in sight.

Back in the Confederate Capital the administration was indigent. In their eyes Sherman was having things all their way. They demanded action to push Sherman out of Georgia rather than holding him up. In the end they decided that they would settle on a different more aggressive commander to face the Northern forces. General John Bell Hood.
Continue reading “John Bell Hood and the Tea Party”

During the campaign for Atlanta William Tecumseh Sherman Faced Joseph Johnston inferior force over the highly defensible terrain of Northern Georgia.

Sherman used his advantage of a larger force to turn and flank Johnston out of position after position as he slowly proceeded closer and closer to his objective of Atlanta, but Sherman was worried that due to the repeated flanking moves he might be imbuing his troops with a hesitation to assault prepared works.

So at Kennesaw Mountain when the Confederates prepared their positions, rather than flanking they Sherman assaulted them directly. The resulting repulses cause General Thomas to remark “One or two more such assaults will use up this Army.”

Sherman then resumed his flanking maneuvers that pushed Johnston back until the Confederates foolishly replaced him with John Bell Hood, but more significantly as pointed out in Ken Burns series The Civil War: “Sherman never admitted he made a mistake, but never repeated it.”

One might debate the psychology of that fact, but as far as the Union cause was concerned it was irrelevant. Sherman defeated Hood, Cut through Georgia like a hot knife through butter and wreaked such havoc in South Carolina that Jefferson Davis found himself compelled to re-appoint Joseph Johnston to the post he relieved him of. Of course by that time it made very little difference.

And so we come to Stacy McCain and Ann Althouse.

Stacy considers Althouse’s statement that her vote for Obama was “rational”: “An insult to those of us who were never fooled by Obama.” The Virginian considers suggests “intellectual pride makes you stupid” and Althouse laughs at the idea that voting Bob Barr is a rational decision.

One can debate endlessly if a third party vote is a “waste” or a lack of decision or not (I think it depends on the situation) and one can decide if Ann Althouse was a “rube” for voting Obama over McCain. (I think she was wrong but lots of people get things wrong). One might consider her defense of that vote silly (It may well be) others might consider it an insult (I think not) but when it comes down to it I think it isn’t relevant.

There are millions of people who voted for Barack Obama that after two and a half years are not only disinclined to do so again but will be happy to make the arguments to others why they should not either.

For myself I’d worry less and less about the “I told you so’s” as long as they are in the right direction.

On the second day at Gettysburg J.E.B. Stewart arrived at the Southern HQ after one of his rides. His absence was a factor in Lee’s eventual defeat so when he arrived and announced that he had captured wagons for Lee, he received a rebuke, but once that was done, Lee let it go and they fought on.

My advice to all concerned, let it go and lets fight on together.