All posts by Marcy

About Marcy

Advocate of Constitutional guarantees to individual liberty.

A backyard in North Carolina

Friendly advice from a former Californian

North Carolina is a beautiful state. It has ample open space and homes surrounded by lovely woods. It is strong economically, business friendly, rich in job opportunities, and still relatively affordable. World-class universities like Duke, University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State University, help attract businesses seeking a talented workforce.

But how long before the crucible of housing, or unhousing, ensnares North Carolina as it did California?

North Carolina’s strengths attract expatriates.

North Carolina is among the fastest growing states in the nation, as new arrivals pour in seeking jobs and lower living costs. Since 2010, North Carolina’s population grew by 9.7%, compared to the overall U. S. population growth of 7.4%.

New arrivals need housing, like everybody else. In North Carolina, growth in new housing production since 2010 has been around 8.8%. The 0.9% shortfall, predictably, has caused housings costs to rise. Since 2010, home prices have increased by 31.5%, and rents by 14.6%.

Some benefit, some don’t

Such significant increases in home prices provide benefits to current property owners and landlords. Meanwhile, house hunters are thrown out of housing markets and renters often out of rented homes. Eventually, disadvantages of increasing housing costs overwhelm the middle class. Then, we see the rise of “U cities” that become home for the rich and the very poor. Anyone in the middle who can afford to do so, departs.

In California, the economically-comfortable class easily outbids the lower-income middle class, gentrifies older communities, and pushes residents out of neighborhoods. Some residents slide into homelessness, some into dependency on subsidies, and many are trapped into immobility by rent control (move, and your rent might shoot up 100%).

So, just build?

Just build more housing, one might say. That is not at all an easy feat. In North Carolina, as in many other states, planners and policy makers face a litany of challenges in their quest to reach the holy grail of “equitable, affordable housing.” Here are some of these challenges:

Societal challenges like differing needs and often unwarranted fears make housing development difficult. Current homeowners, used to their tree-lined single-family neighborhoods, do not want changes in zoning that allow for density. But priced-out house hunters would welcome any hope of density creating affordability. Residents of affluent and peaceful neighborhoods fear intrusion by the working poor dreaming of safety and good schools for their kids.

Political challenges also impede housing construction. Leaders desire economic growth; therefore, they focus on welcoming new business, job creation, and population growth. But they thread lightly when it comes to developing homes for new workers, since their more established and economically comfortable constituents resent incursions into their neighborhoods.

Self-determination challenges are not often brought up in housing discussions. North Carolina, unlike California, has not yet felt the brunt of state and regional housing mandates. Chances are it will, if cities and counties do not find satisfactory ways to provide enough construction to house the state’s growing population.

We say, “Sorry we are full?”

Even if local leaders are willing to let old neighborhoods be, there are higher powers that might want to prevent that course of action.

North Carolina is governed by the Dillon Rule, with limited Home Rule. In Dillon Rule states, cities derive their power from what the state chooses to grant. That includes how much decision-making in housing development the state grants its cities.

Also, states must abide by The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962. Included in that Act is the creation of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). Under the Act, all urbanized areas with 50,000 or more in population must join an MPO. North Carolina has 19 MPOs scattered around several regions of the state.

The original intent of MPOs was to coordinate transportation funding between regions. Today, the functions of MPOs include housing development. Recently, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-58 11/15/2021) further codified housing as a purview of MPO’s. The Act makes several changes to include housing considerations in the metropolitan transportation planning process, including:

“Within a metropolitan planning area that serves a transportation management area, permitting the transportation planning process to address the integration of housing, transportation, and economic development strategies through a process that provides for effective integration, including by developing a housing coordination plan. [§ 11201(d)(5); 23 U.S.C. 134(k)].”

MPOs in California serve as cautionary tales. The San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), for example, is a behemoth agency with significant powers over housing development. The challenge for residents and voters is that MTC’s decision-making Commissioners are not elected to their MTC positions by the residents who they supposedly serve. No matter how harebrained their plans are, there is no way to kick them out of their positions.

North Carolina’s MPOs have not come close to exhibiting the power of MPOs in large California regions. Therefore, residents have not yet felt the impact of major housing mandates.

Growth is here and cannot be ignored

There is no denying that North Carolina is going through a population explosion. Legislators and other leaders are happy with the arrival of new job-creating companies. They are also happy with the influx of new residents that will help increase the state’s representation in the U.S. Congress. Their glee could be relatively short lived if they do not handle growth well. Growth involves numerous variables and cannot be solved by merely trying to match supply to demand.

Newcomers need realistically priced homes, so does a well-functioning market – nobody wants a way overvalued housing market that will surely correct with a plunge. Established residents love their single-family homes in tree-filled neighborhoods. Housing developers can be persuasive in calling for changes in zoning and building standards. When zoning changes, there will be homeowners that will sell their homes to developers at very good prices.

Once, California was a beautiful state. It was a destination state, just like North Carolina is today. Now, folks cannot leave the state fast enough, as they escape high taxes, astronomical housing costs, uncontrolled homelessness, and unsanitary cities. What happened?!

Some will say the rich refused to pay their fair share of taxes, so programs could not thrive. Others will say housing costs rose so much that people became homeless (and drug addicts as well). Others will say voters willingly chose ill-conceived proposals.

The latter is closer to the truth. And many of the ill-conceived ideas related to housing. Mandated affordable-housing allocations resulted in gentrification and no affordable housing. Piles of money allocated to housing non-profit organizations resulted in a thriving homeless industrial complex. Destruction of old neighborhoods to make room for development contributed to the rise of a serious missing middle.

Had voters and leaders handled growth by consensus of all residents, not just consensus of the elite and the government-dependent (those that enrich the bureaucracy), things would have worked out better. California has huge areas of protected open space where no housing development is allowed. Open space is great, but it remains pristine at the expense of destruction of established neighborhoods. Once there is enough destruction, people start voting with their feet.

Forewarned is forearmed. North Carolina can prosper while retaining its quality of life by handling population and housing growth wisely.

Song of the South

Who is more racist, Song of the South or Disney?

Disneyland and Disneyworld are dismantling Splash Mountain starting in 2023. Even though renovations continuously take place in the kingdoms with new themes and new technology, the demise of Splash Mountain carries an additional verdict – Splash Mountain is racist. Such verdict is good reminder of psychologist Abraham Maslow’s famous quote, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

Maslow used the hammer and nail example to explain the theory of reductionism as it applies to psychology. Complex situations can be overwhelming, so we reduce all the variables into one attribute, then we use an instrument we happen to have at hand to deal with that one attribute. If all we have is a hammer, the complex variables become a nail. If all we have is the word “racism” to describe the African American experience, a lot of things will become “racist.”

Thus, Splash Mountain’s complex history becomes racist

The story behind Splash Mountain is Walt Disney’s Song of the South, a 1946 musical film that combined live action and animation to present an idyllic Reconstruction Period American South and showcase the stories of Uncle Remus.

True, the post-Civil War Reconstruction Period was certainly not idyllic. Freed slaves had little or no education easily conducive to independent living, many plantation owners suddenly found themselves without labor, former slaves that stayed in plantations as sharecroppers were trapped in a new form of servitude.

So, do we succumb to reductionism, label Song of the South racist, and hammer it into oblivion? Or do we endeavor to understand the complexities of life during Reconstruction? Do we accept the film as a work of art that broke some racial ground in its day?

There is a litany of reasons why Song of the South should be remembered

Classic Walt Disney movies like Snow White, Pinocchio, and Sleeping Beauty are well remembered. So should Song of the South. Here are some interesting things about the film.

* Back in 1946, by releasing Song of the South, Walt Disney helped preserve 23 of the 185 Uncle Remus folktales recorded by historian and journalist Joel Chandler Harris.

As a young white newspaper apprentice, Harris lived in a Georgia plantation during the Civil War years of 1862 through 1866. There he heard many folk tales from slaves. Later he created the fictional character Uncle Remus as a vehicle for telling the stories, and in 1880 Harris published his first book, Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings, The Folklore of the Old Plantation. The book was a creative and financial success. Songs and Sayings was followed by many other Uncle Remus and Southern story books.

* Today, a 2019 Mcallister Editions The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus, a compilation from eight Harris Chandler books, is available of Amazon (1,768 ratings and 4-1/2 stars) for $12.96. An Appleton and Company 1881 edition of Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings can be purchased at Abe Books for $7,500 – $15,000, depending on condition of the book.

Given the availability and popularity of the books upon which Song of the South is based, the discomfort with the movie is difficult to understand. Perhaps it is best assumed that people who purchased and rated these books accepted them as good written art, at the same time understanding the stories’ time and place.

* In 1948 James Baskett was the first African American male actor to win an Oscar of any kind and the first to win for a leading role (Hattie McDaniel won in 1939 for her supporting role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind).

Although Baskett’s Oscar for his role as Uncle Remus in Song of the South was a “Special Award,” an Oscar presented for outstanding work that in the eyes of the Academy does not fit under any of the standard Oscar categories, it was still a significant “first.”

James Baskett’s pioneer work in Song of the South is at the level of other African American film pioneers, like Hattie McDaniel, Sidney Poitier (first Best Actor Oscar, Lilies of the Field, 1963), and Halle Berry (first Best Actress Oscar, Monster’s Ball, 2002).

* Unlike James Baskett, Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Song of the South’s theme song, did win a “real” Oscar in 1948 for Best Original Song. It’s a happy, beautiful tune worthy of remembrance.

* Replacing or updating theme rides – or any other product – is different from censoring.

The Disney Company has made numerous animated and live-action films since the 1940s, so of course the old needs to make room for the new. Song of the South has not been re-released since 1986 because supposedly it is “racist.” But, let’s look at the last time some other Disney classics were released in U.S. theaters: Snow White 1993, Bambi 1988, Dumbo 1976, and Cinderella 1987.

The American past, good and bad, is part of who we are today. Some of us focus on the good legacies of our human and therefore flawed past. Others focus on the flaws alone, thereby losing all sense of perspective or balance – in essence, seeing what is not there. Here are a coupe of examples.

* The Tar Baby in one of Uncle Remus stories is not a disrespectful representation of a Black baby, but a doll of sticky tar made by Br’er Fox to entrap Br’er Rabbit. Most people figured that out, as evidenced by the usage of “tar baby” as a sticky situation difficult to extricate oneself from.

* The “slaves” in the Joel Chandler Harris stories were no longer slaves, since the stories take place during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Although Walt Disney chose not to specify when exactly the stories in Song of the South take place, we can look at when Chandler Harris says they took place. We can also notice that when Miss Sally asks Uncle Remus not to tell any more stories to Johnny (because Johnny is too young and might get confused), Uncle Remus is so sad that he prepares to leave the plantation. Slaves didn’t usually walk away from plantations.

Seeing what is not there is one of the results of reductionisn.

Hopefully, the current practice of reducing complex situations into a matter of race will soon end. Other fads, like hula hoops and pet rocks, did eventually fade away. There’s hope.

The three gifts the Magi brought to the Christ Child.

Doing the best with what one is given

Merry Christmas everyone! If you do not observe Christmas, have a wonderful time anyway. This season of the year marks a turning point from darkness to light – the Winter Solstice – a good time to celebrate however few or many blessing we have been given.

A story and a song can illustrate:

The Parable of the Talents

A rich man needed to go on a trip. Just before his departure, he gave five coins (which were called talents in the old days) to one servant, two coins to another, and one coin to a third. Upon his return he asked his servants for an accounting of the coins. Two servants had used the bounty well and returned double the amount of coins – 10 and 4 coins respectively. The third servant, uncertain and fearful, had hid his one coin, and that is all he had. (Matthew 25:14).

This parable could be the origin of the saying “What have you done with what you were given.” If blessing are used well, they turn into bigger blessings. If there is lack of faith, distrust, and fearfulness, blessings are wasted.

The Little Drummer Boy

The Nativity Story tells of the great gifts the Child Christ received from three Kings: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. A Christmas carol tells of another equally significant gift. Here are two of the verses from The Little Drummer Boy.

Little baby
Pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too
Pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give our king
Pa rum pum pum pum,


I played my drum for him
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for him
Pa rum pum pum pum,
Then he smiled at me
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

The drummer boy is “a poor boy too,” just like the Baby in the manger who has no crib for a bed. All he has is his drum, which one is left to imagine whether that is his work tool in battle. He did very well with what he was given, though!

He smiled at me … Me and my drum.

Pictured: The Gifts of the Three Kings, gold, frankincense and myrrh. This is a screen shot from a beautiful 18-minute dramatization of the Nativity story, found on the Light of the World website. Watch the movie. Note the subtle expressions of acceptance of circumstances, and determination to rise above by doing what needs to be done.

Panel of Experts at COP27

Democracy is at risk from climate experts

Three weeks ago, President Joe Biden declared that “in our bones we know democracy is at risk.” He attributed the threat to Trump acolytes “running for every level of office in America.” Well, no mayhem ensued after November 8.

However, a bigger threat that probably few heard of did arise soon after. On November 6, 2022, the world’s elite once again gathered at the 27th annual United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP27). This time, the conference’s focus was on methods by which the 197 participating countries, including the U.S., should implement the ambitious UN-prescribed climate action plan.

And therein lies the threat to U.S. democracy.

Delegates to the COP27 gathering implicitly agreed to accept the prescribed science behind the climate action plan, identify and remove barriers to implementation of the plan, require changes in corporate behavior to advance the plan, and compel changes in investment to finance the plan. Specific examples were given during the conference:

* Climate science is what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prescribes based on its research.

* Barriers to implementation of the climate action plan include oil and gas industry lobbying, dominant modes of transportation, and counties without sufficient capital.

* Corporate behavior in need of change include compensation based on production rather than climate action, lack of specific means of accountability for lack of climate action, resistance to a universal repository for listing specific corporate advances in climate action, and the mere existence of fossil fuel industries.

* Investment needs to move away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy. Developed nations need to pay into a fund designed to assist climate action by less developed nations. Financial institutions need to reduce barriers to financing climate action, such as interest rates or development plan characteristics.

Most of the action points above cannot be binding but are implicitly accepted by delegates. The more explicit point is the establishment of a fund to help poorer nations deal with the costs of climate-induced disasters. At COP27, there was agreement to establish the UN Loss and Damage Fund, details of which will be worked out next year.

Why is this seemingly intelligent climate action plan a threat to U.S. democracy?

The COP27, regardless of any sincere and worthy intentions of participants, is nevertheless a body not chosen by or even widely known to U.S. voters. The bedrock of democracy is the vote of the people. Through their vote on candidates and issues, voters express what they want their country to be.

Since the birth of the United Nations, concerned individuals have expressed uneasiness. We the people do not chose the delegates we send to UN conferences, we do not choose the issues the conferences discuss, we do not have any say on what our delegates commit us to do. We can vote on proposals on our ballots but may or may not readily associate them with UN pledges.

Concern in some circles extend even deeper.

A threat to our political structure – call it democracy or representative republic – for the sake of saving us from climate disaster is bad enough. However, a threat disguised as climate action for the sake of ideology is worse.

Here are a couple of interesting excerpts from recent publications:

* The Lew Rockwell blog on November 2, 2022, published a piece by Thomas DiLorenzo that well encapsulates some people’s concern about the relentless talk of climate action. DiLorenzo says,

Years ago my friend the late Murray Weidenbaum, the chairman of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, told a story of how he had a conversation with Barry Commoner, one of the founding fathers of the modern enviro-commie movement. (I believe they both taught at Washington University in St. Louis). Weidenbaum said to him (paraphrasing from memory): You guys are against oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power. Without energy, you cannot have a capitalist market economy.

Commoner’s response was to sit back and smile. Weidenbaum told me that he interpreted Commoner’s expression as saying “exactly right.

* Greta Thunberg, the high-profile teen climate activist, attended a Southbank Center event to promote her new collection of essays, The Climate Book. During her speech and subsequent interview with journalist Samira Ahmed, Ms. Thunberg stated that it is too late for individual action, and saving the planet now requires system-wide transformation.

We need to change everything because right now our current system is on a collision course with the future of humanity and the future of our civilization.

[the current system is] “defined by colonialism, imperialism, oppression and genocide by the so-called global North to accumulate wealth that still shapes our current world order.

As an aside it is useful to note that Greta Thunberg is aware that changes are unlikely without people’s (supposedly including voters’) demand for such changes. She made that point several times during her interview with Samira Ahmed. Whether COP27 participants were equally cognizant, is not clear.

Additional concerns regarding ideology include a perception of bias.

Bias is an unavoidable feature of the human mind. Sometimes it is unintentional and unperceived, and at times it is intentionally baked into ideologies.

Right-leaning ideologues tend to dismiss the negative impacts of carbon dioxide and/or ignore the association between the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the rise of industrialization. Left-leaning ideologues tend to blame climate change for events that could be ascribed to other causes (residential encroachment into fire zones during the last decade as contributors to forest fires, for example), and tend to limit themselves to prescribed remedies.

At present, left-leaning ideologies have the upper hand on matters of climate change.

Left-leaning bias focuses on elimination of fossil fuels. But the plan lacks sufficient focus on the thousands of products derived from fossil fuels. Lots of talk there is about wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles; but not much talk about effectively replacing polyester clothing, PVC pipes, nylon ropes, plastic toys, or small appliance casings.

Also, left-leaning bias ignores the harm derived from disposal of the large energy-storage batteries required in renewable energies and electric vehicles. It is hard to tell percentage of components that are recycled, although some say 5%. The rest is buried and left to sip into soil and waterways.

Left-leaning bias against capitalism and its profit motive fails to acknowledge that government cannot produce capital. People (including those that work or invest in corporations) produce capital from the profits they make. Focusing on climate action instead of profits will reduce capital. That is fine, as long as we all agree that climate action is more important than the standard of living to which some of us have grown accustomed.

Faced with the conundrums listed above, do we simply do nothing?

Doing nothing about the documented acceleration in the level of global warming since the start of the industrial revolution is not a wise choice. However, neither is risking democracy – which we keep claiming is so important to us – for a promise of safety from anticipated climate disasters.

That is not to say that people who are willing to exchange democracy for a promise of safety should be prevented from seeking that option. They must be free to do so if democracy is to be upheld!

Those who prefer democracy need to be free to choose that preference as well, which is not something by which climate activists like Greta Thunberg abide, or which our “official” climate experts want to allow. And, by the way, who are these official experts?

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific risk assessment on climate change, formulate options for adaptation and mitigation, and determine the state of knowledge on climate change. In other words, the IPCC is the poo-bah of climate science. Suggest other scientific avenues, and risk accusation of spreading misinformation.

But there should be competition with the IPCC

Elon Musk, who seems to be rapidly catching up with former president Donald Trump as the Left’s most prominent thorn, on February of 2021 funded through his foundation a four-year global competition to award innovators that demonstrate ways to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or oceans and sequester it durably and sustainably. The idea is not only to fund work on carbon sequestration, but also to incite other investors.

It took NASA only 10 years to figure how to put a man on the Moon and safely bring him back to Earth. It has been 57 years since the first climate conference in 1979 (Geneva, February 12-23, 1979), and according to COP27 participants, global warming is still taking place, disasters are increasing, and not much has been put in place to reverse the trend.

COP27 participants and experts are correct in their assertion it is time for structural changes. However, given the UN’s 57-year failure to bend the curve of global warming, perhaps such changes could include giving up on the UN and focusing more on hyping the work NASA has done on carbon conversion and sequestration, and the awards EPA has established for credible sustainable methods of reducing and sequestering carbon.

If U.S. voters wish to help poor regions with mitigation of disasters due to climate change, voters can choose candidates that promise to do so. Primary focus, however, should be on developing cost-effective technology that nations poorer or richer can use if they choose to do so to curb emissions and sequester carbon dioxide already present in the atmosphere.

Pictured: YouTube excerpt of COP27 Recommendations of Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments of Non-state Entities. Non-state entities include private businesses, agencies and financial institutions. The panel of experts recommended guidelines for explicit, required, equitable and just actions. It also recommended transparency via a central repository where progress could be viewed and evaluated.

Paris Peace Conference

November 11, 1918

On November 11, the United States celebrates Veterans Day. This same day is called Remembrance Day in most of the British Commonwealth. New Zealand, Belgium and Serbia call the day by its original name, Armistice Day. On Veterans Day we honor the men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Prior to 1954, before Congress changed the holiday’s name, we observed on November 11 the end of World War I. Or more specifically, we remembered the horrific carnage that killed 9 million soldiers and wounded 21 million.

We also remembered, or should have remembered, on Armistice Day the questionable excuses for the start of WWI. How did WWI start? There are probably as many answers to that question as there are historians. But here is a likely scenario offered by Dr Heather Jones, associate professor in international history, LSE.

Relatively common before 1914, assassinations of royal figures did not normally result in war. But Austria-Hungary’s military hawks – principal culprits for the conflict – saw the Sarajevo assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Bosnian Serb as an excuse to conquer and destroy Serbia, an unstable neighbour which sought to expand beyond its borders into Austro-Hungarian territories. Serbia, exhausted by the two Balkan wars of 1912-13 in which it had played a major role, did not want war in 1914.

Broader European war ensued because German political and military figures egged on Austria-Hungary, Germany’s ally, to attack Serbia. This alarmed Russia, Serbia’s supporter, which put its armies on a war footing before all options for peace had been fully exhausted.

Ambitions did not stop with European expansion but extended into the Middle East. In the world of 1914, the Ottoman Empire ruled Arabia, Bedouin leaders wanted self-rule, and European leaders wanted to divide Arab territories among themselves.

Thus, the British offered self rule and control of Syria to Arab leaders, in exchange for their expelling the Ottomans. This arrangement was made in ten letters exchanged from 1915 to 1916 between Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca and Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner to Egypt. Sharif Hussein took the letters seriously and defeated the Ottomans in 1918. Events after the end of WWI bring into question whether Lieutenant Colonel McMahon took the letters to heart as well.

At war’s end, nearly 30 nations gathered at the Paris Peace Conference, including a token Arab Delegation, supposedly to iron out terms of peace. However, three of the Big Four – Prime Ministers David Lloyd George of Great Britain, Georges Clemenceau of France, and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando of Italy – had already decided to divide territories in Europe and the Middle East between themselves.

They had already also decided, encouraged by Clemenceau, to dispense ruthless punishment on Germany.

As for the fourth of the Big Four, United States President Woodrow Wilson, who hoped for a new era of cooperation and self-rule, British economist and delegate to the Conference, John Maynard Keynes referred to him as “a blind and deaf Don Quixote.” True, Wilson was slow to understand that attendees of the Paris Peace Conference were not interested in his 14 Points for Peace, or for that matter, apparently not interested in peace at all.

Germany was almost completely disarmed and required to pay reparations on a scale calculated to beggar her population for a generation. She lost 10 per cent of her population, 15 per cent of her agricultural production and 20 per cent of her iron, coal and steel.

Thus, the Weimar Republic, born in 1919 in the throes of German defeat and resentment, gave rise to Adolph Hitler only 14 years later.

In the Middle East, mandates created spheres of influence under which Syria and Lebanon went to the French, and Palestine and three Ottoman provinces of Mesopotamia – transformed into Iraq – went to Great Britain. This arrangement unraveled by the end of WWII. France retreated from Syria and Lebanon in 1946 after uprisings by the local inhabitants. Britain withdrew from Palestine in 1948, after partition and creation of new states of Israel and Jordan.

The British protectorate of Iraq formed after WWI went through an interesting iteration. Concerned about unrest, Britain established a kingdom in Iraq in 1921 and placed Faisal I bin Al-Hussein as King. That strategy calmed the populace a bit and pacified Faisal. Although not welcomed with open arms, King Faisal I proved an effective and unifying leader.

Faisal was the son of the Sharif of Mecca Hussein bin Ali (mentioned earlier), the Hashemite leader who started the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Emir Faisal and British Intelligence Officer Thomas Edward Lawrence waged relentless guerilla warfare against the Ottomans, defeating the colonizers in 1918. The Emir was confident Britain would keep its promises, he would be the recognized King of Syria, and soon the Arab-speaking world would be united under his leadership. Since Britain decided otherwise, Faisal had to be content with being King of Iraq, where he ruled until his death in 1933.

At war’s end, T. E. Lawrence was skeptical but hopeful. Sadly, his skepticism proved correct and his hopes futile. A passage from his memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom, originally published in 1926, perfectly describes his and Emir Faisal’s struggles for naught.

We were fond together because of the sweep of open places, the taste of wide winds, the sunlight, and the hopes in which we worked. The morning freshness of the world-to-be intoxicated us. We were wrought up with ideas inexpressible and vaporous, but to be fought for. We lived many lives in those whirling campaigns, never sparing ourselves: yet when we achieved and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to remake in the likeness of the former world they knew. Youth could win, but had not learned to keep, and was pitiably weak against age. We stammered that we had worked for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thanked us kindly and made their peace.

The Treaty of Versailles peace was forged by the old men, as were many other agreements and mandates during and in the wake of WWI. Much of the maladroit world these old men created in their own likeness is still here today.

T. E. Lawrence has another often quoted passage in Seven Pillars of Wisdom:

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

Perhaps this November 11, 2022, Armistice Day of remembrance, might inspire dreamers of the day throughout the world to challenge the bellicose world we have inherited, and ask a fundamental question, is war really necessary?

Pictured: Select delegates to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919

Tulsi Gabbard

No more “cowardly wokeness” for Tulsi Gabbard

On October 11, 2022, former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced she is leaving the Democratic Party. After 20 years in the party, Gabbard said,

I can no longer remain in today’s Democratic Party. It’s now under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness, who divide us by racializing every issue and stoking anti-white racism, who actively work to undermine our God-given freedoms enshrined in our Constitution.

Tulsi Gabbard’s exit does not come as a surprise, since she has often and emphatically pointed to the Democratic Party’s devolution. She made her unsurprising announcement during the first podcast of what Gabbard hopes will be The Tulsi Gabbard Show. She also summarized the features of the new Democratic Party that contributed to her decision.

Before the new left brands her “anti-government” or attaches other customary labels used on non-compliant individuals, Tulsi Gabbard reminded viewers of her podcast of the oath she took as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve (with deployments to the Middle East) and as a member of the U.S. Congress (U.S. representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district from 2013 to 2021). The oath to defend the U.S. Constitution is an oath to defend the principles of individual liberty and God-given individual rights.

As Gabbard sees it, the features of the new Democratic Party are diametrically opposed to the principles enshrined in the Constitution, and she vigorously lists those features in her introductory podcast. Here is a brief summary of the most salient points.

* In the Republic the Founders envisioned, the people through their elected representatives governed for the benefit of the people. The new Democrats want a government by the elites for the benefit of the elites.

* The old Democratic Party was the liberal, live and let live party that stood in opposition to the more conservative Republican Party. The new Democratic Party leads the cancel culture, in which fear rules – conformity is accomplished by fear of losing one’s job, fear of our kids not getting into good schools, fear of being cancelled, fear of violence.

* The rule of law is essential to a peaceful society. The new Democratic Party calls for defunding the police, electing progressive District Attorneys, unduly protecting criminals, questioning the legitimacy of courts when they do not rule according to the new Democratic Party principles.

* The Constitution’s original ten Amendments, referred as the Bill of Rights, are intended to protect the people from government’s restrictions on speech, religion, self-defense, and assembly. It also protects people’s private property and personal affairs. Leaders of the new Democratic Party are comfortable calling for the abridgement of these rights. Prime example is President Joe Biden’s attempt to establish a Disinformation Governing Board. Another is Democrat-supported credit card tracking of purchases at gun shops.

* Title IX of the Civil Rights Act was signed into law on June 23, 1972. The purpose of this act was to give women equal opportunities to those of men in the fields of education and sports. The Biden Administration proposes changing Title IX’s aim from prohibiting sex discrimination to prohibiting gender identity discrimination. If passed, this proposal will settle current controversies. Whether women showering or competing in sports with biological males will benefit from this change in Tittle IX depends on one’s ideology – certainly not on objective truths.

* The denial of the existence of objective truth removes boundaries. Truth becomes whatever those in power say it is.

At the end of her podcast, Tulsi Gabbard suggests that those who are opposed to the ills she listed and opposed to government by and for the elites, act by leaving the Democratic Party.

Party knows no impulse but spirit, no prize but victory. It is blind to truth, and hardened against conviction. It seeks to justify error by perseverance, and denies to its own mind the operation of its own judgment. Thomas Paine, The Opposers of the Bank, 1787.

Perhaps it is better to vote for candidates who understand the value of the legacies of our Founders as well as the Founders’ shortcomings, than vote the Party line.

Views from a happy California expat

Thank you to Richard Eber, frequent contributor to California Political News & Views, for his article on reasons people are leaving California, and for including the Just Vote No Blog editor’s views. Actually, the article wonders why anyone would choose to stay in the once Golden State.

Certainly, there are reasons not to join the California exodus — family ties, a good job, balmy weather, lovely scenery, world-class art and music venues, health constraints, dependence on California’s generous welfare, or reliance on bountiful flow of drugs. However, as Richard Eber’s article points out, the reasons to leave are mounting.

Although Californians are leaving mainly because of exorbitant taxes, housing prices, and living costs, many are rejecting the principal underlying cause of those costs – the all-enveloping far-left one-party rule.

The resulting inefficiencies of the one-party rule make California less desirable than, say, North Carolina, one of the destination states mentioned in Eber’s article. Sure, there are Republicans, Greens, and Libertarians in California. But they have descended into near irrelevance given the power of the Democrat machine. Power of such magnitude, regardless of what party or faction holds it, empowers, and inspires extremes.

Richard Eber’s article is reproduced below:

__________________________________

Leaving California, by Richard Eber, published September 22, 2022, in California Political News & Views

It’s no secret families of all economic classes from the poor to the super rich are leaving California in droves. From illegal aliens to billionaire Elon Musk folks of all backgrounds are quickly putting the former “Golden State” in their rear view mirrors

Libertarian types like me would like to attribute the migration of about half a million people each year to Texas to be politically motivated. In reality this is not the case. Spurred by the socialistic government headed by Governor Gavin Newsom, high taxes, housing costs, energy costs, crime, and poor schools, are more important than politics.

Migrating businesses are following as well. Texas has been the main beneficiary of what amounts to a wealth transfer of billions of GNP each year welcoming 500,000 new residents. It is no coincidence Austin is quickly gaining the reputation of becoming the Silicon Valley of the South.

Typical is the family of my daughter’s best friend and her family who packed their life and moved to Texas after Lexi graduated from high school. Despite both of her parents having decent jobs, they could not afford to purchase a house in the Bay Area.

This soon changed in Texas when they bought a 2500 square foot home for less than half of what it might cost in California. If Lexi’s family would have stayed, it is doubtful they could even have purchased sardine like dwelling in a Priority Development Area (PDA) Sacramento believes people prefer to single family homes.

Prospering with an upper middle class standard of living, my daughter’s friends have never regretted bolting California. They are pretty much apolitical believing their standard of living and lifestyle is more important than living under expensive Progressive social values.

The truth of the matter is Bill Clinton’s campaign advisor James Carville’s remark in the 1992 Presidential election “It’s the economy stupid” is in the forefront of the exodus of folks departing for greener pastures. While this phenomenon has been partially balanced by immigrants settling in California from South of the border, there is major disparity in tax revenue being taken in.

Last week it was reported government revenues declined 11% in the last quarter. While Sacramento might sugar coat these statistics blaming Covid-19 for the drop, many economists believe this will be a preview of coming attractions as the land of Hollywood is fast losing its luster.

Apparently, Gavin Newsom with his fixation with promoting the use of electric vehicles doesn’t care if it costs up to $35.00 dollars more to fill up ones tank compared with several other states. This is but a tip of the iceberg families pay to live in a so called sunny paradise.

If those departing California were really interested in staying rather than being fitted for PF Fliers, they would try to change the Progressive agenda which dominates politics in all but a few rural communities. What then prevents voters from supporting more rational policies that would lower their cost of living?

There is no clear answer for middle of the road and conservative individuals who might want to change the current system. There doesn’t seem to be a clear path for those who wish to slow down going all in on climate change, Sanctuary Cities, defunding the police, reducing the influence of public employee labor unions and paying for costly social programs.

Apparently, this growing group of disenfranchised citizens doesn’t feel the Republican Party of California has the ability to elect candidates to carry out their wishes.

In contrast we have my friend Marcy Berry who recently departed San Francisco to live near her daughter’s family who relocated to North Carolina. As a Libertarian, she has been delighted with the political environment there. After a few months, here is her report from the land of Tar Heels and Blue Devils:

Hello from a transplanted Californian in North Carolina. Why are y’all still in California? Family ties, great job? Legitimate reasons. Barring that, anyone who stays must love California’s all-enveloping progressive reign. Just sayin’. And here are some more unsolicited opinions:

California’s all-enveloping progressive reign is the state’s most salient characteristic, and is what makes California so politically different from North Carolina, a swing state. Folks in a swing state just behave differently than those in a dominant regime.

North Carolina has a Democrat governor, and a majority-Republican but not veto-proof state legislature. Governor Roy Cooper navigates a peaceful balance, without the histrionics that Governor Gavin Newsom can perpetrate in his all-Democrat dominion.

Voter profile in North Carolina is currently 34.6% Democrat, 30.3% Republican, 1% Libertarian, and a whopping 34.5% unaffiliated. The unaffiliated contingent could account for the majority-Democrat voters and majority-Republican legislature. Let’s see what happens in the 2022 midterm elections, with unaffiliated voters residing mostly in the most populous counties.

North Carolina, not having (yet?) a dominant political party, is awash in both right and left-leaning voices. The local newspaper in my county leans left, my neighbors lean right, I am told that transplants arriving daily from California due to North Carolina’s rapidly expanding technology sector lean semi-left (they are aware of the mess they left behind but are not sure how else to think).

Unlike Republicans in California, Republicans in North Carolina are vocal and determined. Current and aspiring political candidates know they matter. They know they have a shot at making the state legislature veto proof and of turning the U.S. Senate majority-Republican.

Is there still hope to bring the two-party system back to California? Will the domination of the three quarters Democratic legislature and all State office holders continue indefinitely? The answer to this question is unequivocally “yes”. My only regret is wondering if such a change might occur in my lifetime.

I would suppose GOP State Chairwoman Jessica Patterson and her inept followers will eventually be replaced (if there is still a Republican Party). In a similar vein it is likely if Gavin Newsom and his successors continue to run the State into ground with their Marxist-Lite policies, needed changes will eventually occur.

There are so many “could have should of” scenarios to contend with in predicting California’s future. All we can do is hope.

__________________________________

Picture: Meme from Babylon Bee, a publication that never tires of having fun at California’s cost.

Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II leaves very big shoes to fill

Elizabeth Windsor, better known to the world as Elizabeth II or Queen Elizabeth, died on September 8, 2022, at 96 years of age. Her eldest son Charles, 73, ascended the British throne as King Charles III. Elizabeth II leaves very, very big shoes to fill.

Elizabeth II was the longest reigning British monarch, becoming queen at only 25 years of age in 1952. Thus the 96 year old queen the world lost today had an opportunity to build an exemplary track record as a true stateswoman, as a pillar of stability and service.

She led by example, the highest form of leadership. This virtue she learned from her parents, Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother).

During WWII, the young Elizabeth and her sister Margaret remained in Britain, instead being sent to Canada or other safer parts of the British Commonwealth. The King and Queen remained at Buckingham Palace, even as Germany bombed London. They often visited neighborhoods destroyed in the bombings. At age 19 Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, a women’s branch of the British army, and trained as a driver and mechanic.

If anyone kept calm and carried on through turbulence since the Cold War, it was Elizabeth II. She met often with world heads of state, and regularly with her Prime Ministers. She missed only three Openings of Parliament during her long reign, two due to pregnancy and one at the end of her life. The respect she commanded, has been key to keeping the British Commonwealth intact.

King Charles III is now tasked with rising to the occasion. Hopefully, his grandparents and parents’ example of service to the people will guide his path.

Pictured: Princess Elizabeth (in uniform), Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, King George VI, and Princess Margaret, in the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of WWII.

Alice In Wonderland and the Twins

Read till you come to the end: then stop

Has your highschooler read Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass? Not Walt Disney’s or other abridged versions, but the original Lewis Carroll, illustrated with the fantastical drawings of John Tenniel. The original Through the Looking Glass delights with the quirky poem Jabberwocky. Here is a sample,

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

… and the equally zany The Walrus and the Carpenter — one of the best verses for sample,

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

Cautionary tales

Good heavens, you might say, read such nonsense when there is so much strife and challenges in the world?

Well, yes. If your kid can read Through the Looking Glass cover to cover at his own pace and find it fascinating, then he is playing chess while others are playing checkers.

Also, if the reader uses her imagination to turn the “nonsense” into cautionary tales, then she is ready for life’s challenges! Let’s consider tricky folks one of life’s difficulties – like Mr. Walrus and Mr. Carpenter. These snippets from the poem summarize the situation well,

O Oysters, come and walk with us!’
The Walrus did beseech.
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.’

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head —
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Guess what happened to the gullible little oysters.

O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.”

Alas, innocents that believe in wondrous promises from the powerful.

The mathematician who wrote children’s books

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, born in Daresbury, Cheshire, England, in 1832. He died in 1898. He is known for Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1871), although he wrote other books, short stories, and poems. His other most-often mentioned works are Bruno’s Revenge (1867), The Hunting of the Snark (1876), and A Tangled Tale (1885).

Carroll was not only a prolific writer, but also a mathematician, logician, photographer, and Anglican deacon. He taught mathematics and logic at Christ Church, Oxford, and wrote several mathematical books under his birth name. His mathematical puzzles are sometimes included in puzzle books. His most-often mentioned mathematical book is An Elementary Treatise on Determinants with their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Geometry (1867).

A whole lot of Carroll’s writings and puzzles were intended to teach children math and logic. His work can still do so today. The popular website Teachers Pay Teachers is just one of the several that have materials related to Lewis Carroll’s works for younger children as well as for highschoolers. Lesson Planet has good material on Lewis Carroll as well.

Gee, this book is long!

The last chapter of Alice in Wonderland has useful advice for readers of long books,

“There’s more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,” said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry: “this paper has just been picked up …” “it’s a set of verses …” “Read them,” said the King. The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please your Majesty,” he asked.

Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

Alice at the Trial

Biden addresses nation on Sep 1

Biden’s strange soul of nation speech

President Joe Biden delivered his fight for soul of the nation address on Thursday, September 1. The main networks did not carry the address. Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarty (R CA) taped a very brief response before President Biden gave his speech. Googling for other responses yields little at present.

Maybe people’s preoccupation with soaring prices, their kids’ unfruitful education, crime in the streets, porous borders, and other mundane challenges detracts from rhetorical talk of souls.

President Biden tried hard to change the focus from the mess this country is in to a vision of a future where prosperity, peace of mind, and unity will reign. Abundance of riches, goodness, and harmony will come, apparently, when MAGA extremists, who ignore the Constitution, the rule of law, free and fair elections, and democracy go away.

In all fairness, this nation’s predicaments are not all President Biden’s fault. The national debt and its attendant evils have been growing since President Bill Clinton’s days, the mass of unskilled workers unable to make ends meet has been around since education collapsed and the robber barons of monopolies sucked up the nation’s wealth, divisiveness and name calling has been almost fashionable for a while now. But, the present administration policies, like the Inflation Reduction Act that won’t make a dent on inflation, have not helped.

And in equal fairness, debacles like January 6, when Trump supporters got themselves lumped in with violent unlawful trespassers, feed into the view that MAGA folks are extremists. Hecklers outside Independence Hall shouting “Let’s go Brandon” and “F—Joe Biden” while the President was giving his “soul of democracy” speech were fodder for the President’s calm response: “They’re entitled to be outrageous. This is a democracy.” “… good manners is nothing they’ve ever suffered from.”

So, will a repetitious 24-minute speech touting a nebulous vision of an even more nebulous democracy turn the tide of Republican’s expectation to flip the House and Senate in coming elections? Probably not. But the expected drumbeat of anti-MAGA vitriol in the coming months might.

By the way, one is to assume that the “democracy” to which President Joe Biden referred in his speech is not the same “democracy” that these folks describe:

Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms. Aristotle – Greek philosopher during the Classical period of ancient Greece.

Democracy is the road to socialism. Karl Marx – German philosopher, critic of political economy, and socialist revolutionary.

Democracy is four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Ambrose Bierce short story writer, journalist, poet, and American Civil War veteran.