WOOF! Watchdogs of Our Freedom

Them Ol’ Supply-Side Blues

In "keeping track of which 'PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE!' this week" forum on December 21, 2017 at 5:15 pm


In which WOOF’s editor in chief, Old Bugler, expresses his up-to-the-minute-if-frustratingly-excursive views on nothing but 100% guaranteed genuine news, mostly in the annoyingly officious third-person, as befits his station!   

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Old Bugler is saddened to report the recurrence of a rare strain of lacunar amnesia peculiar to the ruling class, or–more precisely—peculiar to those constituents of the ruling class who are a) Republican, and b) more than, let’s say, 30 years old. All Democrats are excused from the diagnosis on the grounds of being liberal. Liberalism must be viewed as a differential diagnosis for the disorder under discussion since it beclouds the brain in ways suggestive of–but not identical to—amnesiac disorders. Moreover, rather than presenting as a mnemonic dysfunction, Liberalism stymies the sufferer’s dianoetic functions in ways more remindful of psychosis than mere dissociation. That said, Old Bugler realizes his readers are impatient to proceed to this column’s gravamen, which is (in case the point blew past anyone) the recent passage of “tax reform,” and its attendant dissatisfactions.

Readers may ask themselves how on earth Republicans in the Senate and House can be charged with amnesia in conjunction with legislation passed only a few days ago. In fact, given the volume of obloquy and distortion immediately devoted to the bill’s passage by the establishment news media, it might reasonably be supposed that every American enjoying access to a radio or TV, let alone the Internet, is familiarized perforce with the details of the bill’s passage. More attentive citizens exposed to the same sources learned of the bill’s many calculated minacities, chief among which were said to be the inevitable destruction of the middle class, the further immiseration of America’s poor, and, at least according to Nancy Pelosi, the death of Tiny Tim; all of this resulting from the devastating loss of revenue certain to result from conferring unconscionably generous tax breaks on the wealthy.

Our readers may have difficulty comprehending the basis for so much bunkum given their awareness that history has repeatedly proved it groundless, but the likes of Schumer and Pelosi are not amnesiacs, they are ideologues wedded to the doctrines of class warfare. (The amnesiacs– as your humble editor proposes to demonstrate– are on the other side of the aisle.)  And Average Americans? Suffice it that a major benefit liberalism derived from its annihilation of the American educational system is a citizenry devoid of even the meanest apprehension of anything that happened prior to, say, Al Gore’s invention of the Internet, Barack Obama’s salvation of our healthcare system, and global warming. In this instance, in other words, neither amnesia nor Marxist ideology is required where ignorance entirely suffices.

Nepenthopathy

Were it otherwise—were history nowadays mined for insights other than the genocidal proclivities of Columbus or the imperialistic savageries of Teddy Roosevelt, the fiscal record would serve to allay the fears and defease the billingsgate attached to the simple act of cutting taxes. And cutting taxes would be simple, free of the multipart layers of shuffled obligations and endlessly negotiated addenda with which its Republican proponents have laden it. Why did they insist on complicating the matter to the point of near inutility? It is tempting to suppose they did so because they are unresolvably imbecilic—but Old Bugler refuses to let them off so easily. The GOP suffers a level of obliviousness that transcends mere moronity. Only some weirdly acute strain of amnesia can account for it.

When nepenthopathy strikes…!

Your humble editor proposes the term nepenthopathy—derived from nepenthe, (νηπενθές), a potion described by Homer as eradicating certain of a drinker’s memories. Perhaps a similar potion is imbibed as a rite of initiation into the GOP’s inner circles, expunging any recollection of one’s campaign promises along with even the meanest grasp of supply-side rationale. Conspiracy theorists are free to ponder the specifics, even as our current focus shifts to the vastly underestimated and largely forgotten genius of Calvin Coolidge.

Calvin-omics.

TRUE FACT: Although they did not benefit directly from his tax cuts, the Sioux were so impressed they adopted Coolidge into the tribe.

In 1920, President Coolidge announced, “We are seeking to let those who earn money keep more of it for themselves and give less of it to the Government. This means better business, more of the comforts of life, general economic improvement, larger opportunity for education, and a greater freedom for all the people.”
It may be suggested that Coolidge’s tax cuts succeeded because of concomitant budgetary trimming. Certainly, no conservative of any stripe opposes slashing federal expenditures, and Coolidge reviled statism, insisting that “Government extravagance is not only contrary to the whole teaching of our Constitution, but violates the fundamental conceptions and the very genius of American institutions.” But above all else, he recognized the paradox by which lowering taxes would expand the federal exchequer. He clarified this priority in a June 22, 1925 speech, explaining that, “The object sought is not merely a cutting down of public expenditures. That is only the means. Tax reduction is the end.” Coolidge realized that reducing expenditures, while important, could not match the dynamism of tax cuts, and indeed, his policy of reduced taxation led to a period of economic growth and expansion, lower unemployment, and a sharp climb in America’s standard of living.

Appearances to the contrary, pundits like Chris Matthews were not available in 1925.

Without a mainstream media devoted to the propagandistic distortion of any success unattributable to statism, it was uniformly understood by Americans that Coolidge’s tax cuts worked because they happened, rather than for any more nuanced reason. They happened because no monolithic establishment existed to mock the idea as “Calvin-nomics” and the gainsayers, while outspokenly of the view that tax cuts would bankrupt the nation, were ultimately overcome in the marketplace of ideas, and proven wrong by events. But paradoxical truths are difficult to internalize, and by 1929, Coolidge’s grasp of reduced taxation as a means to national prosperity seemed quaint in the extreme.

“Well, I guess my days as a Democrat icon are up in smoke!”

John Kennedy was the next president to perceive the wisdom of lowering taxes, to the considerable consternation of his Ivy League economic advisors. Indeed, the Council of Economic Advisers countered with a recipe for New Deal-type spending increases accompanied by hikes in taxation—how else to raise the necessary revenue? Much to his credit, Kennedy refused, opting to emulate Coolidge’s approach. In his 1963 State of the Union Address Kennedy called for a massive $13.5 billion tax cut. He suggested reducing the top income tax rate from 91% to 65%. He also urged reducing the bottom rate from 20% to 14%, and the corporate rate from 52% to 47%. Today of course, Kennedy would be crucified as a “trickle down” plutocrat lavishing tax breaks on his fat-cat corporate cronies and the idle rich—but in 1963, when Kennedy explained that, “A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget…” nobody knew exactly how to react. Neither liberals nor conservatives of that era viewed taxation dogmatically. True, advocates of Federal expansion saw high taxes as essential to central planning, but Republicans were chary of lost revenues too. In point of fact, the notion that lowering rates might stimulate growth and fatten the exchequer was alien in the extreme, and there seems little doubt Kennedy’s initiative would have died aborning, had not Lee Harvey Oswald intervened.

The Accidental Supply Sider

Kennedy was shot to death in November 1963, leaving the presidency in the mischievous hands of Lyndon Johnson. Whatever else one may say of Johnson, he lofted JFK’s tax plan as a kind of commemorative standard, drawling, “No act of ours could more fittingly continue the work of President Kennedy than the early passage of the tax bill for which he fought all this long year.” Whether Johnson was experiencing a socioeconomic afflatus unique in his career, or simply grasping for a distraction from the murkier aspects of Kennedy’s death, the result was electric. The Revenue Act of 1964 swept through congress on a wave of threnodic sentiment, and Johnson signed it into law on February 26, 1964.  As with all supply-side tax reductions, the results were not immediately in evidence, but as with all supply-side tax reductions, they inevitably materialized, and the effect was such that growth rose 6.5 percent in 1965 followed by 6.6 percent in 1966, culminating in the three best back-to-back years of the postwar era.

Anonymous silkscreen of the era attests to LBJ’s popularity following the 1964 election.

Not one to leave a windfall underutilized, President Johnson announced that America could now afford “guns and butter,” and initiated his “Great Society” programs. He devoted millions to permanently demolishing public education, ruining the Black nuclear family by incentivizing illegitimate childbearing and unemployment, visiting the charms of central planning on vast new enclaves of American life suddenly subject to the benifescencies of government regulation, and exploding welfare into an authentic “trickle down” enterprise tasked with the subsidization of everything from unemployment to twisted ankles. Meanwhile, of course, LBJ spent $950 billion (in today’s dollars) blasting much of Vietnam to smithereens while sacrificing almost 60,00 Americans in a war he micromanaged so intricately that winning became impossible. But your humble editor digresses.

Extremism in the name of tax relief?

Never give up! Never, ever, ever….

The first indication that a Republican other than Calvin Coolidge grasped the sapience of tax cuts manifested itself during the 1964 presidential campaign when Barry Goldwater called for a tax reduction of 25% across the board. Naturally, he was denounced as insane, not only by Johnson, but every economist that Harvard or Yale could muster. The New York Times ran an article specifically devoted to mocking Goldwater’s daft tax proposal, quoting Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon’s vociferous objection that “Mr. Goldwater was advocating extremism” especially “in proposing reductions in both corporate and personal income taxes.” The Times reporter, M. J. Rossant, hastened to agree that Goldwater’s plan was “extreme,” and laid the whole business off to the Senator’s apparent infatuation with a little-known, amusingly idiosyncratic economist from the University of Chicago—one Milton Friedman. Rossant dismissed Friedman as a “stanch [sic] believer in getting the Government out of economic affairs,” which Times readers were clearly intended to apprehend as something only slightly less opprobrious than “Cro-Magnon.”

Goldwater, of course, lost the 1964 election, principally because he was viewed as unstable by an electorate wholly reliant on the liberal press of that era. A candidate willing to suggest that social security could go bankrupt, that government control of education would worsen outcomes, that federal efforts to impose civil rights would produce riots and militancy, that victory rather than compromise was the best policy vis a vis the Soviet Union, and that the burgeoning conflict in Vietnam should be finessed in twelve weeks, lest it evolve into a boondoggle lasting 12 years, was clearly irrational. And cutting taxes was, to be sure, no longer on Lyndon Johnson’s to-do list…the nation having been saved from “extremism.”

Stagflating with Nixon and Keynes

The clearest case for the Republican party’s philosophical surrender to the economic premises of collectivism appeared in 1968 in the form of Richard Nixon.  Johnson,  by then so roaringly unpopular that he abandoned any thought of reelection,  conceded the party leadership to his vice-president, Hubert Humphrey.  Nixon handily quashed Humphrey–a classic big government spendthrift–at the polls, but immediately adopted his economic policies. By 1971 he had taken America off the gold standard, instituted ruinous wage-and-price controls, and declared “I am now a Keynesian in economics.” By the time Watergate impelled Nixon’s departure, his policies had generated frightening inflationary rates coupled with an intractable economic slump. The press dubbed the predicament “stagflation.”

Of course, Nixon also hated the media, shook hands with Elvis, and ended the draft. Let’s try to remember the good things!

Nixon’s price controls emptied grocery store shelves. Some ranchers refused to ship their cattle to market, making horse meat a temporary alternative in many grocery stores, and Nixon’s much-touted “economics czar,” John Connolly, bollixed matters to such an extent that he went personally bankrupt.  Gerald Ford, who replaced Nixon in the wake of the latter’s resignation, responded to what was by then an inflation rate of 11% by issuing buttons bearing the legend: WIN (Whip Inflation Now!) with no discernible result except that bums were espied in several cities carrying signs reading: “LAID OFF AT THE WIN BUTTON FACTORY—PLEASE HELP!”

News item, 1973.

The election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, ensured that the only available candidate less intelligent than Jerry Ford was given charge of the nation’s finances, resulting in a fuel crisis, gasoline rationing, gas lines, an economy that continued to founder and inflation well into double digits. Amazed by the citizenry’s lack of appreciation, Carter addressed the nation, warning of an invidious “crisis of confidence,” which, he contended, was the cause of the country’s travails. For some reason, America’s crisis of confidence was driving it to wastefulness—although Carter never explained the linkage. He did, however, explain that “overconsumption in the United States” was behind the energy crisis, adding that “growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and… the loss of a unity of purpose” accounted for the nation’s miseries. When Americans failed to respond positively, the First Existentialist fired his entire cabinet; and in 1979, Americans fired Carter, replacing him with Ronald Reagan.

“So, as you can see, this is really all your fault–unless, of course, you don’t believe me–in which case it’s all my cabinet’s fault…”

New sheriff in town.

With Reagan, entered a renewed faith in, among other things, the basic insights of Arthur Laffer. Laffer. of course, is the economist who once sketched the famous (or, to be fair to the uniformly denunciatory Left, notorious) “Laffer curve” on a cocktail napkin, demonstrating that tax rates of either 0% or 100%, will result in zero revenues (because nobody pays taxes on the one extreme or bothers to show up for work on the other). Somewhere between 0% and 100% is–obviously–a tax rate that maximizes revenue. Laffer’s postulate (like Coolidge’s and Kennedy’s) was that a tax rate that maximizes revenue is located much further down the curve than generally believed. Read more

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“THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE—Oh, wait–the RUSSIANS ARE GOING!” (or) WOOF Chronicles the outbreak, the feverish climax, and the sweaty aftermath of the Media’s year-long bout with Russian Flu.

In "Apocalypse NOT" forum on October 28, 2017 at 6:24 pm

The unluckiest moment of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign may well have been his decision to crack wise about Hillary Clinton’s emails during a March rally. He had already joked during a televised debate that Mrs. Clinton’s preternaturally irretrievable emails might be locatable by Russia—a fairly amusing quip since the press was even then full of Russian hacking stories, none of which, at the time, involved Trump.  At a campaign rally, Trump iterated: “I will tell you this, Russia, if you’re listening; I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

“Maybe Russia can find them!”

It is unfair, we think, to say as many do that Leftists have no sense of humor. It is less unfair to observe that the liberal establishment is jocundly challenged, its mainstay attribute—sanctimony –having withered its less officious instincts. For this reason, the pontificators of the mainstream media routinely ignore or misinterpret irony, which explains, among other things, how Trump’s topical jape was deprived of context by Democrat politicians and newscasters.

So competent, I keep Putin up at night!

Initially, the chief utility of misreporting Trump’s laugh line as a serious remark derived from the tactical desirability of portraying Trump as a rapacious, sell-seeking power broker brazenly maneuvering to enlist foreign dictators in his effort to win office by defaming Hillary Clinton. The Russians, pundits claimed, might well collude with Trump in order to prevent a presidency helmed by the former Secretary of State whose brilliance, exhaustive geopolitical knowledge, sophisticated grasp of diplomatic nuances, and steely nerves would make her exactly the kind of chief executive Putin feared. The tone of analysis, in other words, was already psychotic.

We now know from Shattered, Jonathon Allen’s and Amie Parnes’s inside account of Hillary Clinton’s disastrous presidential campaign, that “Within 24 hours of Clinton’s concession speech, top officials gathered ‘to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up.… Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.’” But while the Clintonistas initially saw this fiction as little more than a face-saving device, the idea caught fire with media savants, Hollywood polemicists, disgruntled liberal voters, and a wide array of mentally unbalanced politicos who speak on their behalves.

In support of the hacked-election construct, the NSA seems to have leaked its own top-secret report to the effect that Russia attempted to manipulate certain regional elections by spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials. By all accounts, these efforts fizzled, yet appear to constitute the entirety of arguable Russian meddling in the 2016 election. More recent accounts suggest the Russians had nothing to do with the scheme. Even The Nation, that redoubtable house organ of American liberalism, admitted last August that “Former NSA experts say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.”  Nevertheless, the impression was widely given by mainstream media that besides enlisting Putin to leak damaging information on Hillary, Trump had somehow persuaded the Russians to “hack the election” in some terrifyingly sophisticated manner that actually altered the vote count. Oddly, the Ruskies seemed to limit the application of this fiendish technology to the electoral count, perhaps leery of rigging the popular vote too, lest they overplay their hand.

“Mustn’t overdo! Hee, hee!”

At long last, hate!

The Dadaistic oddness of liberalism’s volte face on the subject of Russia inspires a mixture of bemusement and awe. Suffice it that nobody to the left of, say, Charlie Rose, would have dreamt of speaking ill of the former Soviet Union, its leadership, or its concerted efforts to manipulate our sociopolitical culture over the past eight decades, even while immiserating half the planet into the bargain. Russia’s immunity from liberal displeasure would be intact even today, were it not for the utility of Russo-phobia as a means of undermining the presidency of Donald Trump.

“Sunday” with Chuck and Alger….

At the height of their Russo-mania,, it seems reasonable to surmise, most Democrats would enthusiastically have impanelled a modern iteration of the House Un-American Activities Committee were its first function to investigate Russia’s clandestine abetment of the Trump administration. Notably, this signals the Democrat Party’s recent divorcement from longstanding philosophical premises (however irrational in the first place) and its newfound enthusiasm for whatever dogma seems momentarily opportune. The media, following like a leash-broken Maltese, shed its own longstanding Russophilia—a tradition that as recently as the late ‘80s saw Charles Kuralt narrating a segment of CBS’s Sunday Morning devoted to extolling Alger Hiss’s patriotism while rebuking his accuser, “the homosexual Whittaker Chambers.”

Haberman: “Never hit seventeen….”

Times change. The Great Liberal Russian Scare so fixated every establishment media outlet that remaining current on the topic proved almost impossible. Every day, newspapers rushed to print with fresh accusations attributed to unnamed sources quoted in articles that—read to their conclusions—ended with disclaimers acknowledging the absence of any substantiating evidence. For example, the New York Times initiated a particularly robust mythology when reporter Maggie Haberman mocked Trump’s refusal “to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.” In fact, America has exactly 17 intelligence agencies, but to believe the Times, one would have to believe that Russia was cited as tampering with the presidential election by every one of them, including such disparate organizations as the 25th Air Force, United States Coast Guard Intelligence, and the TSA.  Indeed, after publishing several additional yarns featuring Haberman’s “basic fact,” the Times quietly retracted the story, burying their apology in the Gray Lady’s bowels, but Haberman’s “17 intelligence agencies” lived on, thunderously declaimed by congressmen and media babblers bent on revealing Vladimir Putin’s role in helping Donald Trump steal the presidency.

Rumors of Russian computer hacking predated Trump’s victory, of course.  Going into the election year, the FBI warned both the RNC and the DNC that efforts to ransack their cyber files might be afoot. The RNC responded by taking the recommended precautions. The DNC did not respond at all, presumably because their efforts to sideline Bernie Sanders, as well as a plethora of additional, equally sleazy shenanigans, were not items they cared to share with the Bureau. Consequently, the DNC was hacked to a fare thee well, allegedly by the Russians, although no evidence of Russian involvement ever surfaced. The resulting embarrassment led to the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, not because she dumbly permitted her data to be filched, but because the hacked material exposed her lies, schemes, and often shockingly illiberal opinions. Obviously, there is some good in everything.

The theft of John Podesta’s computer files occurred when Podesta, then chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, fell for a primitive phishing scam. No sooner had Podesta clicked the poison link, then tens of thousands of his messages were pilfered by nefarious powers, again widely reported to be Russian, although—as seems normative in these matters–no proof of Russian culpability materialized.

“Oops!”

Julian Assange, from liberal icon to doggie doo, in just one, short election!

Also during this period, Julian Assange was busily leaking information damaging to the Clinton campaign, widely reported as the fruits of Russian espionage, although Assange repeatedly denied receiving any material from the Russians, maintaining throughout that his sources were closer to the candidate–whose own computer scandals were now of a magnitude that demanded reporting, even by a media proclived to spike any news unflattering to her. Yes, this is the part where silly Hillary misplaced over thirty thousand emails formerly available on her private server–which she maintained in contravention of federal law–in order to (shall we speak bluntly?) trade confidential, often classified information for favors and money.  Worse, Hillary’s oft-cited ignorance of computers accounted not only for the accidental purging of her emails, but also for her equally accidental purchase and application of a pricey software product called BleachBit, designed to cleanse hard drives completely, ensuring that all accidentally deleted items were accidentally unrecoverable.

“Oops!”

Loretta and Bill

In this regard, it will also be recalled that while appearing before congress, FBI Director James Comey detailed numerous crimes and malfeasances attributable to Mrs. Clinton, mainly related to her emails, her false statements, and her bizarre indifference to matters of national security, following which, Mr. Comey announced his unilateral decision to waive prosecution in each of the cases cited, mainly, he explained, because Mrs. Clinton didn’t know what she was doing.  Comey’s tortured rationale aside, it remained mysterious which federal codicil absolved criminals of legal responsibility on the grounds of not knowing what they were doing. Moreover, FBI Directors do not determine whether charges are preferred, they report to the Justice Department, where such determinations are made.

Fairly Odd Grandparents

We know now, however, that Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, instructed Comey to excuse Mrs. Clinton’s offenses, and, that done, hastened to assure reporters that she would abide by whatever decision Comey rendered.  Lynch’s surreptitious stand-down order came in the immediate wake of her controversial private meeting with Bill Clinton, (whose wife was currently under investigation by her department). Bill Clinton afterwards promised a preternaturally credulous news media that nothing political was discussed during his huddle with Lynch. Rather, Clinton contended, his conversation with the Attorney General focused entirely on such casual topics as the pair’s grandchildren—a version of events only slightly complicated by the fact that Lynch doesn’t have any.

The golden shower dossier….

The charges against Trump enjoyed a major revivification with the introduction of what might be called the blackmail hypothesis. By incorporating a simple, easily comprehended plot device, this approach finessed the objection that Putin had no discernible motive for promoting a Trump presidency.  Trump, in this variation on the theme, received Russian support because Putin held Trump in thrall. Details varied version to version, but the theme common to all blackmail scenarios, many of which are still recited at Georgetown cocktail events, was that Russia possessed information so damaging to Trump that policies dictated by the Kremlin would be slavishly implemented a Trump White House, lest the appalling details come to light. The apex of this narrative came and went with the discovery of the “golden shower” dossier—trumpeted in Vanity Fair (for example) as an “explosive revelation.”

“Steele…Christopher Steele!”

The secret details were provided by one Christopher Steele, whom Vanity Fair described as an “ex-Cambridge Union president, ex-M.I.6 Moscow field agent, ex-head of M.I.6’s Russia desk, ex-adviser to British Special Forces on capture-or-kill ops in Afghanistan, and a 52-year-old father with four children, a new wife, three cats, and a sprawling brick-and-wood suburban palace in Surrey.” Eat your heart out, James Bond.

In one of the most inadvertently hilarious contributions to the Russia-gate narrative, Vanity Fair breathily detailed the urgency with which Senator John McCain dispatched representatives to London to take physical possession of Christopher Steele’s Trump dossier, which must have been deemed too sensitive to be scanned and emailed—or perhaps it remains the case that Senator McCain cannot use email. At any rate, what emerged was the now-infamous yarn of Trump hiring Russian prostitutes during a visit to Moscow to urinate on a hotel bed formerly slept in by Barack Obama. This news burst upon the scene unvetted, as seems characteristic of all negative reports on Donald Trump, and dwindled slowly over the following weeks as its absurdity waxed increasingly manifest.

Director Comey–looking riveted.

FBI Director Comey initially found Steele’s “bombshell” riveting, having received his copy courtesy of John McCain’s office. Prior to its exposure as palpable nonsense, the pee scandal appears to have seized Comey’s imagination with a peculiar fixedness. That Comey, at that juncture, realized that the dossier was concocted at the behest of the DNC seems improbable, given that WOOF knows Comey initially planned to pay Steele to “continue his research.” How much Agent Steele was in fact paid by John McCain, Vanity Fair, various TV networks or any similarly dedicated guardians of the commonweal may never be known, but we hope it was a lot. We do know the DNC ponied up $6 million, although nobody at the DNC can itemize the amount, recalls paying that amount, or recalls having anything to do with the project.  It now appears, in fact, that as Obama’s outgoing functionaries took pains to ruminate publicly over Trump’s Russian involvement, each offering up vague accusations dissembled as vital gleanings fresh from the files of the FBI, the CIA, or whichever agency was up to bat, no one really had anything more substantive in hand than the Mr. Steele’s bogus pee story. The stark absence of any symmetrical concerns regarding the Clinton campaign is telling, Hillary’s transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium storage to Vladimir Putin through Russian corporate fronts in exchange for millions laundered through the Clinton Foundation, and $500 thousand handed to husband Bill as “speakers fees,” seemed to fly entirely under the CIA’s radar. Of course, they can’t be everywhere at once. (Read more!)

Colt’s 1911 Pistol –An Allegory for Our Times?

In "Gunning for success" forum on July 12, 2017 at 4:34 pm

On shooting fish in a barrel….

It is occasionally remarked around the WOOF cave, especially by well-intentioned supporters who would love to see us eclipsing allegedly rival sites in popularity—that we should stick to articles about Black conservatives, and guns. The argument is entirely supportable from a marketing standpoint. For reasons we do not pretend to fathom, our discussions of conservative thinkers and politicians who are–to employ the currently acceptable (if paralogistical) locution–African American, always score huge numbers of “clicks,” while gun articles tend to outperform even Black conservatives. To be ridiculously candid (because, why not?) the largest number of views our humble site ever scored on a single day followed our publication of “Detroit Shoots Back,” in 2014. That article—which, come to think of it, was about guns and a pro-gun Black police chief—almost made it to the one-thousand clicks line on WordPress’s pale blue bar graph, which is what passes for an astronomical one-day tally here in the WOOF cave.

This is us, being obstinate.

But we are an obstinate lot, not at all driven by vainglory, and thus not much disposed to the pursuit of “clicks” obtained by shaping our ramblings to themes most likely to solicit large responses. And because this is so, when one of our team proposes a story that revisits any of these attention-grabbing topics, our first concern involves a kind of monastic self-catechism—in which we ask ourselves: Why are we doing this again? Are we selling out to the false gods of acclamation when we ought rather to be maundering on about underappreciated nuances of the 14th amendment, or decrying Paul Krugman’s latest sophomoric mishandling of Say’s Law…you know, stuff almost nobody wants to read about, let alone at such torturous lengths!

Besides, even “Stars & Stripes” can fall for fake news!

Usually the answer is in the affirmative, and so we cast aside the glittery item and slog ahead with whatever prohibitively recondite subject we deem preferable; but not always. Sometimes a topic seems irresistible despite threatening widespread appeal—and on such occasions we boldly pursue it. One such topic, as attentive readers will have gathered from this screed’s title and the accompanying illustration, is the United States Army’s pursuit of a new pistol for our troops—a story best left, one might suppose, to the pages of Guns and Ammo, or Stars and Stripes, except for the story’s inherent (and, we think, instructive) ironies, lifting it above a simple “gun story” and infusing it with a near-Greco-Hellenic cachet.

Note to the allegorically dense…

Sophocles, by the way, not Hemingway; but you knew that.

Readers who prefer to regard the forthcoming details less complexly are certainly free to do so. Just as no categorical imperative prohibits one from perceiving The Old Man and the Sea as a straightforward account of a frustrating day of deep-sea fishing, some may prefer to regard what follows as a simple chronicling of weapons development and its discontents. Why not? We invite such readers to skip the following discussion of congressional efforts to end Obamacare. It will seem incongruous and time consuming. We simultaneously invite the more philosophically inclined to bear with us—because what really persuaded us to proceed with this story was its allegorical dimension. The seemingly ineradicable nature of suboptimal policies once they are ensconced systemically is aggravating in itself, but when one further considers how often earnest exertions meant to reform these policies result instead in the reinforcement of their most egregious aspects—well—that’s what we mean by Greek! Permit us a single analogy.

Obamacare and the 1911

Just say  ‘arghhh!

Recently, the Republican Party undertook to relieve the nation of the horror that is Obamacare. It is not the business of this screed to detail the onerous, unconstitutional, and impractical characteristics of President Obama’s signature legislation, beyond remarking that its removal from the body politic is urgently required and demands uncompromising legislative surgery. More to our point is the commonly recognized fact that nothing of that nature happened. Rather, a president steeped in the art of negotiated adjustments to pre-existing business models combined forces with a GOP establishment so fearful of negative media coverage that it hadn’t the nerve even to recycle its own legislative efforts at authentic repeal, and produced instead its own version of Obamacare—sporting a handful of tweaks made chiefly in the interest of creating salable appearances.

President Trump wisely refuses to expose his back to applauding GOP House members.

In other words, what emerged from the GOP’s huddle, despite years of available brainstorming time, was simply the Affordable Care Act dropped into a more sedate, respectably Republican chassis. As Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr famously remarked, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” (Which roughly translated from the French means: “The more the government tries to fix something the surer we are to wind up with more of it, working even less satisfactorily than before it was fixed!”)

It sounds a lot smarter when you say it in French.

One part of government that long seemed exempt from this critique was the military. In fact, however, the service-related procurement authorities were often doddering–even perversely Luddite in their opposition to weaponological breakthroughs. It was, after all, the Army Ordnance Corps that refused to equip the Union Army with the .44-caliber Henry Model 1860 rifle at the outbreak of the Civil War. In doing so, the Corps pulled the plug on what amounted to a per saltum leap in infantry firepower, citing the rifle’s weight when loaded to its 15-round capacity and the fact that the .44 Flat Henry cartridge didn’t fit other Army weapons as grounds for rejection. The Chief of Ordinance further declared himself unimpressed by the Henry’s rapid firing lever action, opining that it would waste ammunition and prove a burden logistically.  Resultantly, the Union fielded an army equipped mainly with single-shot muzzle loaders, relinquishing a potentially decisive advantage in firepower in order to avoid logistical headaches.

Prior to World War I the Army rejected the Lewis Machine Gun, mainly because Chief of Ordnance General William Crozier hated Lewis’s guts. The legendary Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was issued to only four American divisions in the last two months of the First World War, while most American Doughboys contended with the wretched French 8×51 mm Chauchat automatic rifle (also legendary, but mainly for jamming and misfiring). The most widely circulated explanation of this idiocy was the War Department’s fear that Germans might obtain a BAR on the battlefield, reverse engineer it, and turn it against us. Obviously, this logic—if generally applied—would prevent any advanced weaponry from reaching the hands of our front-line forces. The BAR became famous only after the armistice, when Bonnie and Clyde adopted it in rather less official circumstances.

Authentic photo of Clyde Barrow displaying his BAR. Bonnie does not appear, as the gang evidently had not yet stolen a delayed exposure camera.

The famous Thompson submachine gun was not accepted by the United states Army until 1938, despite its availability as early as 1918—principally because the First World War ended two days before the earliest Thompsons arrived in Europe, and the War Department sensibly concluded that nothing so devastating as General John T. Thompson’s “tommy gun” would be needed in the Utopian aftermath of what Woodrow Wilson (in his customarily delusional fashion) declared the “war to end all wars.”

General Thompson, and a Thompson.

But to discuss the Thompson is to get rather ahead of ourselves, which rarely happens here at WOOF, where devoted readers know fighting our way beyond the exordial details is our most common challenge. The Thompson is, after all, a weapon famous for its powerful .45 caliber punch; and that punch could not have been delivered without the development of the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge.

Come the Moro…

When 800 Marines disembarked in the Philippines following the Spanish American War, they discovered that while Spain had relinquished its hold on the islands, the inhabitants were feeling less generous. The First Philippine Republic pronounced itself dissatisfied with the terms of the Treaty of Paris (the one ending hostilities between Spain and the United states, not the one ending the revolutionary war…and what is it with peace treaties and Paris, anyway?) In any case, the treaty had been signed without consulting the Philippine Republic, and it was a bit late to make adjustments. Attempts to accommodate Filipino demands were partial at best and suffered a series of bollixed translations and misinterpretations into the bargain. The upshot of all this was a declaration of war, perhaps most remarkable for its injudiciousness, by the First Republic against the United States.

TRUE FACT: Excesses were committed by Americans during the war with the Philippines but obscured by the jingoist press and propaganda of that era. Fortunately, today we have Hollywood to harp on such things endlessly.

To their credit, the soldiery of the Philippine Republic battled far longer than had the Spanish armies and navies, but in 1902 the war ended in its third year with an American victory. Readers will be pleased to know that while a staggering complex of diplomatic, political, governmental, and international developments followed fast upon the Republic’s capitulation, we will resist detailing them here—because none of them serves to advance our narrative. What we will discuss instead is the guerilla warfare that sprang up in the wake of the Filipino surrender. This insurgency involved numerous tribal cultures, many of them savage fighters, but none more relentless in battle than the Moros, whose foremost warrior caste featured the Juramentados, (from the Spanish for “one who takes an oath”) who pledged themselves to kill all Christians. Obviously, this left little room for negotiation.

Meet friendly natives, and learn their customs!

The word Amok (yes, as in running amok) is considered to have Malaysian roots, but it was also the name of a Moro band as deadly as the Juramentados, with an even worse reputation for—well—running amok. The simple Amok creed of battle was to go berserk, charge into the largest available assemblage of infidels (meaning us in this case), and kill or maim as many as could possibly be assailed before being killed oneself.

Obama visiting Mindanao? No, this Moro chieftain’s resemblance is purely coincidental.

Worse still, the Moros preferred to attack after heavily drugging themselves with a form of local narcotic, binding their limbs and bodies with leather in ways calculated to delay blood loss if wounded, and participating in religious rituals that whipped them into homicidal frenzies. These attributes, on top of their 400-year history of relentlessly battling any occupier against whom they declared jihad, made the Moro tribesmen the most implacably bloodthirsty opponents the United States had yet faced. And just by way of reinforcing this article’s undergirding theme, which mnemonically gifted readers will recall as, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” allow us to present one additional fact about the Moros: They were Muslim.

Short by 56 virgins, but good to go, nonetheless!

As historian David S. Woolman put the matter in Military History Magazine a few years ago, “Although certain of their own extinction, these fanatics were secure in their belief that they would be whisked to the Muslim paradise for their valorous self-sacrifice, where, among other glories, they would be serviced by 16 virgins.” Sound familiar? Okay, we thought it was supposed to be 72 virgins too, but maybe the Moros were victims of soteriological discrimination and simply had to settle; Woolman doesn’t say.

Readers may also find themselves wondering how on earth swarms of Muslims wound up in the middle of the Philippine jungle in 1902, but we invite them to pursue the question independently given that a thorough explanation will involve us in God knows how many discursive tributaries, and none of us wants that, do we. Suffice it for our immediate purpose that Moros were Muslim, and hell-bent on slaughtering Christians—particularly Christians of the American variety, we being the most proximal irritants.

The Moros were not well equipped, of course, being essentially pre-industrial in outlook and armament. Firearms were scarce. Select fighters were equipped with either single-shot, 1871 Model .43 caliber, rolling block Spanish Remingtons (involuntarily provided by the islands’ previous occupiers) or, more commonly, the .70 caliber, black powder Tower musket originally manufactured in England for use by British forces in the Raj. In design, the Tower was barely superior to the infamous “Brown Bess” which British redcoats carried to defeat in the Revolutionary War.  Americans were far better armed with their bolt action Krag–Jørgensens, but even the M1899 carbine model, built specifically for use in the Philippines, was longish and slow to re-chamber for a jungle weapon. The Moros, meanwhile, turned their muskets’ muzzle-loading impediment to advantage by funneling iron pellets, available metal fragments, sections of light chain, and even pebbles down the barrels. The result was a nasty close-quarters scatter gun capable of inflicting horrifying wounds from ambush in the jungles of the southern Philippines.

The 1899 Krag–Jørgensen, a superb collector’s item but a suboptimal jungle weapon.

More often, however, the Moros attacked with their traditional bladed weapons, including the Kriss, a serpentine thrusting sword, the slashing
Kampilan sword, long Budiak spears, and the infamous Barong—often called a sword, but approximately the size of a large Bowie knife, and no less suitable for stabbing or slashing adversaries. Read more….