Saturday, May 8, 2021

Saturday Snippet: A young German-American in Mexico during the Civil War

 

August Santleben was a babe in arms when his family emigrated to the USA in 1845.  He grew up in Texas, and became a freighter.  He later wrote an account of his adventures in Texas and elsewhere, titled "A Texas Pioneer:  Early Staging and Overland Freighting Days on the Frontiers of Texas and Mexico".



It's an excellent book, describing many of the details of life in pioneer and Old West days that are often obscured by popular Western fiction.

Here's his account of leaving home during the Civil War, and making a living in Mexico for a couple of years before enlisting as a soldier.  (Readers of my Western novel "Gold on the Hoof", third in my Ames Archives series, will recognize some of the towns and localities he describes - his book was one of the sources of information I used when I wrote mine.)


I FELT no misgivings regarding my future prospects when I left home in September, 1862, with the determination to seek my fortune in the world that I believed was waiting for me somewhere. I was young, healthy, and vigorous, with a mind strengthened by independent thoughts that had sustained me in many responsible positions and I felt that I could earn a competency by my own exertions. With such confidence in myself, a good horse, and a few dollars in my pocket, I parted from the loved ones at home with no definite idea with reference to the date of my return.

My route on horse-back to Eagle Pass took me through the town of D’Hanis, where I was joined by Joe Carle, the father of Carle Bros., who now conduct a mercantile establishment on West Commerce Street, in San Antonio. He was a merchant in D’Hanis and we had previously arranged to go to Mexico together, where he had business to attend to, but as he was engaged to his present wife he returned home after an absence of a few weeks. In the meantime I became acquainted with Billy Egg, a young man who had fled from east Texas to avoid serving in the army. He was stopping with his brother, Thomas Egg, a married man, who lived in Piedras Negras, and I secured board with the family.

A few days afterwards I, and two other men, accompanied Thomas Egg thirty miles up the Rio Grande to a bottom where there was a growth of willow trees, which he proposed to cut into lengths suitable for rafters, called vieges in Spanish. They were used by the Mexicans as a sub-structure for the flat roofs of their houses, which were built of adobies or sun-dried brick, 4 x 10 x 18 inches, made of mud. The rafters most in demand were twenty-five feet long, with a diameter of twelve inches at the butt and six inches at the small end. These could be readily sold in Piedras Negras at one dollar and a half each, on account of their scarcity because of the difficulty in hauling them.

When constructing a roof for a house the Mexicans placed these rafters on top of the adobe walls, about two feet apart, and the entire space was then closely covered over with split boards, about two feet long, that reached from one rafter to the next. A mortar of mud, made from a particular kind of dirt, was thoroughly mixed with dry grass until it could be handled. This was spread in a continuous layer about four inches thick near the eaves and much thicker in the middle, so as to give a slope to the roof. After becoming thoroughly dry a second layer of about the same thickness was put on, and it was followed by a third when ready to receive it. The finishing course was a layer of cement about four inches thick, composed of earth and lime, which only the Mexicans know how to mix, and the roof with its slope from the center was made smooth by dragging over it the edge of a board. Such roofs last a long time, and I remember one that was shown me in Paras, Mexico, which had received no repairs in thirty years, that was then in perfect condition.

Our party cut about one hundred and eighty of such rafters, and as we had planned to secure them in a raft and float them down the river, we carried them to the nearest point on our shoulders, a distance of three hundred yards. When we were about ready to start our raft the Mexican authorities interfered, under the impression that it could be used for smuggling purposes, and they prohibited its completion. We then changed our plans, and were compelled to employ Mexican carts to haul our rafters to Piedras Negras, which was expensive, consequently we realized only a small sum above our outlay.

I was next employed under a contract to make two dozen American ox-yokes at one dollar and a half apiece, for Semon de la Penia, who had a wagon-shop in Piedras Negras. He had removed recently from San Antonio, to which place his family afterwards returned. I worked in his shop and used his tools until I finished the yokes, and perhaps they were the first that had ever been made in that town.

Soon after completing my job, in November, 1862, I visited Matamoras on horse-back, in company with Thomas B. McManus, John Heinemann and Billy Egg. We traveled down the Mexican side of the Rio Grande a distance of four hundred and fifty miles. My only object in going was to see the country, but my trip was not satisfactory, because after spending all my money I was compelled to work in a cotton-yard, and after a short stay I was ready to return to Piedras Negras. I was without means, but fortunately I fell in with a theatrical troop, and secured employment with them as door-keeper. We left Matamoras in December, 1862, and on the way up the river the company gave performances at Camargo, Renosa, Renosa San Antonio, Roma, Mier, Laredo, and finally at Piedras Negras, where I left them.

With a part of my earnings I purchased a mule and cart, paying seventy-five dollars for the outfit, and engaged in hauling water from the Rio Grande, which I sold at 25 cents a barrel. Considering the amount of capital invested it was the best paying business in which I ever engaged, and it was my constant occupation until I was offered employment that gave me an opportunity to see the country, then I hired a man to drive the cart during my absence.

Messrs. Herman and Gilbeau, cotton-brokers in Piedras Negras, wanted to visit San Luis Potosi on business. As the distance was five hundred and fifty miles over an unsafe road an escort was necessary, and they hired me and a Mexican to serve in that capacity. They traveled in an ambulance with four mules driven by a Mexican and the escort accompanied them on horse-back all the way. A brief sketch of our route and the prominent places of interest is worthy of notice in a section of country where the greater part was a desolate wilderness, but as it is described elsewhere as far as Monterey in another connection, the reader’s attention will be directed to a few places of importance beyond that city:

The city of Saltillo is situated in the State of Coahuila, seventy-five miles southwest of Monterey, on the north slope of a ridge that crosses the whole valley, and it is in sight after passing the hacienda of San Gregario. It was then a well-built town of substantial houses, with good paved streets, and a beautiful Alameda. A number of factories were established there, and they contributed greatly to the prosperity of the place by giving employment to the inhabitants. Several of them manufactured unbleached cotton goods exclusively, and others turned out woolen goods. They also had the reputation of turning out the finest of the well-known hand-made Mexican blankets that were admired for their excellent quality and workmanship, not only in the republic but in Europe and the United States, where they were sold for from thirty to fifty dollars apiece.

The road from Saltillo to San Luis Potosi passed through San Cristobal, and the Hacienda de Guadalupe, to the right of the Catorce mountain, which rises two thousand feet above the surrounding plain. When within twenty-five miles of San Luis Potosi the beautiful city appears and distance adds enchantment to the view which becomes more attractive the nearer it is approached. Stately domes and numerous lofty towers give prominence to the substantial buildings that crowd upon its narrow streets. These, when entered, are found to be interesting on account of the way they are laid out and because of their superior construction and cleanliness. Among its public buildings is a splendid city hall and five or six magnificent churches adorned with carvings and sculpture that rival any in Mexico, the most superb of which is the cathedral.

In 1862 San Luis Potosi was one of the most enterprising cities in the republic, independent of its mining interests, that at one time attracted great attention. The San Pedro mine was once the most prominent in Mexico, on account of the single piece of pure gold taken out of it, that is said to have been the largest solid lump of gold ever found in Mexico or any part of the world. It was sent to Spain as a present to the King, and in return for that act of generosity, the King contributed a beautiful and costly clock to the city as a gift for its cathedral, which I suppose strikes the hours now as it did in 1862 when I was there. The noted San Pedro mine, which was near the city, was abandoned many years before my visit on account of water that flooded the interior and caused it to cave. So far the evil has not been remedied, but perhaps scientific skill will overcome the difficulties eventually and make its wealth accessible.

After reaching our destination my employers ascertained that a lot of silver bullion that was due them had not been delivered. The treasure was expected from the mines of Real de Catorce, distant about one hundred and forty miles, and it was essential that it should be secured with as little delay as possible. For that purpose I and the two Mexicans of our party were sent with four pack-mules, under the orders of Angel Hernandez, a resident of San Luis Potosi. We arrived at the smelting works of the Catorce mines about eight o’clock in the evening.

The city of Real de Catorce is situated on top of a high range of mountains, and the only approach was up a narrow winding path cut in the side of the ragged acclivity that could only be ascended on foot or the back of mules. This and another similar trail were dug out of the perpendicular face of the precipice, and each with its windings was about two miles in length. Its name Catorce, “fourteen,” was given it because this canyon was first inhabited by a band of fourteen robbers.

The population of the town then numbered in the neighborhood of six thousand people. The public buildings and houses were substantially built of stone, and the streets, though narrow, were paved, and cleanliness was enforced. No vehicles of any kind could be seen in the place, and it was said that none had ever been introduced, but the deficiency was supplied by pack animals. The inhabitants derived their support from the rich mines situated in a canyon of the mountains which rise above the plateau on which the city is built. The ore was very rich and the mines were owned by Santos de la Masa, who worked them according to very primitive methods.

The ore was conveyed from the mines to the foot of the mountain in hampers on the backs of burros. Each burden weighed one hundred and fifty pounds, and they traveled in a slow pace, as they wound down the trail leading from the mine, in a continuous line, and returned unloaded, in a snail-like pace, along an equally narrow trail up another route.

The reducing works of the Catorce mines were situated near a stream that ran along the base of the mountain where the ore was worked both by smelting and by patio, or cold amalgamation process. The first method was used for the hard, and the last for the soft ores that were taken from the mine. There were several circular depressions, each about two feet in depth and seventy-five feet in circumference, with its bottom sloping from the center to the outer rim. These were cut in the solid rock and cemented, and each was enclosed around the edges by a strong fence about eight feet in height.

The soft ore was first ground on steel mills to the fineness of sand; and the powder was then placed in one of the circular excavations to the thickness of eighteen inches. It was then saturated with water, and a quantity of quick-silver was added. A number of wild mules was then turned into the enclosure until there was not enough room for them to turn round and the gate was closed. The mules were then driven around the circle as rapidly as possible by men with whips who were stationed at intervals on the fence. When the animals were completely fagged out others equally wild relieved them and each time more water was added. When the pulverized ore was reduced to the consistency of mud, it was washed clean, and nothing but the silver amalgam remained that was deposited in grooves, made for that purpose in the cement floor. This was gathered and smelted in a furnace from which the silver was run into bars.

The process was similar to the common practice in olden times, when grain was tramped out by horses on a barn floor, and it was equally successful. The owner of the mine raised large numbers of mules on his ranch expressly for the purpose, and when sufficiently tamed they were placed on the market. This description is given with the belief that the methods then in use have been discarded since the introduction of stamp mills and other improved machinery.

A much harder ore was taken from the same mine, called milling ore, which was carried direct to a furnace. The furnace was built in the side of a hill and resembled a lime-kiln, with an opening in the top to receive the ore. A peculiar kind of wood was used for smelting the ore that produced an intense heat which was kept up until a sluggish stream of silver flowed out below into molds that turned out bars of uniform size.

We remained at the smelting works three days, during which time I made several visits to the town of Catorce. I rode up the mountain on a donkey and the round trip cost me twenty-five cents. I had a good time frolicing, dancing, and seeing everything that was worth the trouble. Felix Barrera, of San Antonio, who was known to me, was working in the mine, but I did not see him, although I became acquainted with his brother who lived in the town.

We loaded our pack-mules with eight bars of silver bullion, valued at eight thousand dollars, and returned safely to San Luis Potosi with our valuable cargo, but I do not know what disposition was made of it, although I am confident that it was left there. Before our departure the Mexican ambulance driver was discharged on account of drunkenness, and his duties were assigned to me. I knew all about driving oxen and a pair of horses, and I assumed the task without hesitation. Though it was my first attempt at driving four-in-hand, I succeeded admirably and my employers complimented my skill when we arrived at Piedras Negras, about the latter part of February, 1863, after an absence of twenty-five days.

I next offered my services to Messrs. Rinehold Becker and George Enderle, merchants of Piedras Negras, who were preparing to visit Monterey for the purpose of replenishing their stock of goods. My recent experience was a sufficient recommendation and they employed me to drive their ambulance.

My expertness in handling horses was not put to a test on the journey until we passed over a stretch of road that was full of stumps. Although I exerted all my skill I gave my passengers frequent jolts and they were rather free with their criticism when commenting on my carelessness. Finally they concluded to take a more conservative view of the situation by turning their mishaps to some account, and decided that every time a wheel struck a stump they would console themselves by taking a drink. As we had a long jaunt ahead of us the encounters with stumps and the bottle were frequent, consequently my employers were well loaded when we reached an open country. We returned from Monterey in March and I was again out of a job. Mr. Enderle has been dead a number of years; he was a brother-in-law of Mr. John Fries, who for many years was a merchant in San Antonio, where his son, Fred Fries, is now City Clerk. Mr. Becker is now living in said city, where, until a few years ago, he was in active business.

I was not disposed to remain idle and I undertook to dig a well for John Heinemann, in April, for a stipulated price. I had never had any experience in that line of work, and my ignorance was perceptible when I struck water because of its crookedness the mouth of the well was hid from view when at the bottom. After it was finished it answered every purpose on account of its abundant supply of water. It was the first well that was ever dug in Piedras Negras, and the owner made it pay by selling water at the well for twelve and a half cents per barrel. It did not interfere with my water business, which had been prosecuted during my absence, and it was continued by hired help for some time afterwards.

I was again free, but in May I found employment with the firm of Messrs. F. Groos & Co., in Piedras Negras, who placed me in charge of their cotton yard under Gustave Groos, a brother of Mr. F. Groos, now a banker in San Antonio. I commenced working for them at a salary of seventy-five dollars per month, and held the position until the following October. Strong influences were then brought to bear which made me give up my situation and dispose of my water business, but when doing so I acted contrary to my inclinations. I was led away from all my former occupations, and was influenced to engage in the trade of war, which was repulsive to me.

I was not much concerned on account of the Civil War that was raging in the United States, and I was content so long as Texas was free from its ravages. I did not know much about it, but before that time many men from the Southern States had entered Mexico on account of the troubles there. Some were refugees who fled from the country because of their opposition to secession and sympathy for the Union cause, but many were skulkers seeking to avoid military service, and a large number were deserters from the Confederate army. Among the former was Joe Christ, who was devoted to the Union cause. He was a good old friend of my father’s, and he, more than any one else, persuaded me to close up my business and go with him to Brownsville.

The country along the west side of the Rio Grande was then infested by outlaws, and one of the most notorious was Abram Garcia, who first appeared there in 1860. He was personally known to Louis Hastings, now living in San Antonio, who is acquainted with his career, but through other sources I became familiar with the many depredations he committed between Laredo and Matamoras.

He was commonly known as Caballero Blanco, or the White-horseman, on account of the white horse he always rode, and the people in that region feared him very much, particularly in the towns of Mier, Roma, Renosa Vico, Renosa San Antonio and Camargo. He had the reputation of being a very brave man, but the cruelties he perpetrated on those who fell into his hands indicated that he was influenced by a brutal nature. He took special delight in humiliating the victims that were overpowered by his gang and robbed, by forcing them to dance at the muzzle of a six-shooter and then maltreated them by whipping them cruelly with a quirt before they were finally dismissed.

When passing through the territory in which he operated, Mr. Christ and myself observed a continual watchfulness, but nothing was seen that excited suspicion, though we came in contact with a party of unfortunate Mexicans who had been subjected to his unmerciful treatment. They had come from Saltillo or Monterey with a lot of superior horses, some fine Mexican blankets, saddles, and other things that were intended for the Texas market, when they encountered Caballero Blanco near the river, at Roma. The property, which was valuable, was all taken from them, and the entire party of six men, after being forced to dance, were horribly beaten, but one more severely than the others. Their condition was such that it was necessary to convey them to Renosa San Antonio for medical treatment, and Mr. Sanders, a merchant of Roma, a particular friend of theirs, was summoned to their bed-side.

After seeing the evidence of his deviltry, our party, like every one else, was fearful of meeting Caballero Blanco, and we kept constantly on the watch until our destination was reached. As I left Mexico a few months later and did not return for several years, I heard no mention of him, nor do I know what became of him.

Persons who violate the law in Mexico are quickly arrested, and generally the penalties are impartially enforced; but some people think otherwise, and many stories have been published which convey a different impression.

I recall an unusual incident which came to my knowledge that happened at Mier, near the Rio Grande, when I and my three companions, Tom Egg, John Heinemann, and Bill McFarland, were stopping there. The third day after our arrival four other Texans put up at the little meson where we were quartered. The next morning the new-comers led their horses to water and when returning from the river they observed a Mexican woman moving slowly in the trail before them. A large jar that held about four gallons was gracefully poised on her head, without any support from her hands, which contained water that she had procured at the river and she was carrying it to her home half a mile distant.

One of the young men in the party was an excellent marksman with a pistol, and he wanted to show his skill by breaking the jar with a bullet. His aim was accurate, the vessel was broken, and the poor woman received an unexpected shower-bath. It was a mean thing for him to do, and perhaps he feared the consequences or else his offer to compensate the woman for her loss by paying her a dollar, showed that he regretted his thoughtless act.

She communicated the circumstances to her friends, who complained to the Alcalde of the place, and in a short time eight armed men appeared before the meson and conveyed the young gentleman to jail. Until then no one in my party knew what had happened, and then Messrs. Heinemann, Egg, and McFarland, accompanied by the prisoner’s three friends, followed him and the guard, but I remained in camp.

Heinemann, who had married in a prominent Mexican family in Laredo, could speak Spanish fluently and he undertook to defend the young Texan. He proved by the testimony of his friends that the prisoner was an expert with a pistol, who could shoot an egg off a man’s head at any reasonable distance, and that the woman’s life was in no danger when he fired at the jar.

But for Heineman’s influence it is probable that some sort of punishment would have been meted out to the young man, and he was fortunate in escaping so easily, because then Americans were looked upon with less favor than now. Possibly when he returned to Texas he made himself a hero by telling incredible stories about Mexico, like others have done, but they only deceive the ignorant.

After arriving in Brownsville, Mr. Christ exerted his influence over me and in compliance with his earnest solicitations I enlisted in the United States army, in December, 1863, as a private in Captain Braubach’s company of scouts.


I can't help but note the work ethic Mr. Santleben displayed, even at the age of seventeen, when he left home.  I wonder how many of our relatively pampered youth would be willing to work as hard as he did to make a living for himself - particularly at exhausting, demanding manual labor - and become established in life?

Peter


Friday, May 7, 2021

Was the census falsified to retain "blue state" congressional seats?

 

Data analysis and survey firm Rasmussen Reports suggests it was.


There is something very fishy about the new 2020 Census Bureau data determining which states picked up seats and which states lost seats.

Most all of the revisions to the original estimates have moved in one direction: Population gains were added to blue states, and population losses were subtracted from red states. The December revisions in population estimates under the Biden Census Bureau added some 2.5 million blue-state residents and subtracted more than 500,000 red-state residents. These population estimates determine how many electoral votes each state receives for presidential elections and the number of congressional seats in each state.

Is this a mere coincidence?

These population estimates determine how many electoral votes each state receives for presidential elections and the number of congressional seats in each state.

Remember, the House of Representatives is razor-thin today, with the Democrats sporting just a six-seat majority with five seats currently vacant. So, a switch in a handful of seats in 2022 elections could flip the House and take the gavel away from current Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. A shift of 3 million in population is the equivalent of four seats moving from Republican to Democrat.

The original projections for the Census reapportionment had New York losing two seats, Rhode Island losing a seat and Illinois perhaps losing two seats. Instead, New York and Illinois only lost one seat, and Rhode Island lost no seats. Meanwhile, Texas was expected to gain three seats, Florida two seats and Arizona one seat. Instead, Texas gained only two seats, Florida only one and Arizona none.

Was the Census Bureau count rigged? Was it manipulated by the Biden team to hand more seats to the Democrats and to get more money -- federal spending is often allocated based on population -- for the blue states?

The evidence is now only circumstantial, but when errors or revisions are almost all only in one direction, the alarm bells appropriately go off.


There's more at the link.

I won't be at all surprised to find that the census data had been falsified.  After all, the Biden administration and those behind it stole the November 2020 elections by falsifying the vote count.  What's yet another crime between friends?




Peter


Coffee, videos, and altogether too much fun

 

The folks at Black Rifle Coffee produce regular videos showing themselves and their products having a lot of fun.  It's an amusing way to advertise, and lets the staff (mostly veterans, many with combat experience) let their hair down and entertain their customers.  (Disclaimer:  yes, my wife and I are members of their coffee club, and get a small delivery every month.  However, that's not why I'm putting up these videos;  they're just fun stuff, and I enjoy them on their own merits.  I'm not getting any compensation for doing so.)

If you haven't already seen their videos, prepare to be entertained.  Here are two of them, each followed by a "making of" story of how they went about it.






Looks like a lot of fun was had by all concerned.

Peter


Thugs rule the streets of Portland

 

If anyone doubted the need for my ongoing series "Defending yourself in a progressive, left-wing environment" (of which the next article is in preparation), this incident should demonstrate clearly why I'm writing it.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.


Black Lives Matter militants took to the streets of North Portland on Thursday, in a march for Patrick Kimmons, who was shot by police in 2018 after a gang shootout on the streets late at night.

During Thursday’s event the protesters began marching in the streets, with a couple of support vehicles leading the way. At two separate points multiple participants pulled AR-15s, AK-47s, pistols, and possibly a shotgun and/or Keltec Sub 2000 on motorists who happened be driving along.

The incidents were caught on video. In these shocking videos you can clearly see multiple terrorists surrounding the vehicles, yelling and shouting obscenities and threats at the drivers. Though the videos are shaky, you can clearly see multiple guns being leveled and drawn, as the terrorists order drivers to stop. One minivan’s tires were flattened, had its back window busted out, and at least one mirror broken. Another guy was in a big pickup truck, and he was apparently drawing his own gun. In an incident that was similar to the Marquise Love headpunt altercation from last fall, he later decided to get out of his truck, where he was assaulted, tackled to the ground, and the terrorists stole his gun while holding him on the ground, ironically calling for the police.

. . .

Through it all not a single police officer is seen. The gangs know they run the streets of Portland, and the police are powerless to stop them. The citizens should know by now to obey the gangs, and if they dare defy the gangs, they could very well end up getting shot and killed. This has essentially become state sanctioned vigilante terrorism.


There's more at the link, including video clips.

I'll refer to this incident again in forthcoming articles.  However, let's note right from the start that if you get caught up in this sort of thing, it's already too late to defend yourself properly.  There are too many opponents, too well armed, and they're right on top of you, giving you no room to avoid or evade them.  Furthermore, the police are conspicuous by their absence, and the thugs know - and brazenly demonstrate - that they have nothing to fear from the law.  The advantages are all on their side, not yours.

Yet again, I repeat John Farnam's excellent advice.


The best way to handle any potentially injurious encounter is: Don’t be there. Arrange to be somewhere else. Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t associate with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things. This is the advice I give to all students of defensive firearms. Winning a gunfight, or any other potentially injurious encounter, is financially and emotionally burdensome. The aftermath will become your full-time job for weeks or months afterward, and you will quickly grow weary of writing checks to lawyer(s). It is, of course, better than being dead or suffering a permanently disfiguring or disabling injury, but the “penalty” for successfully fighting for your life is still formidable.

Crowds of any kind, particularly those with an agenda, such as political rallies, demonstrations, picket lines, etc are good examples of “stupid places.” Any crowd with a high collective energy level harbors potential catastrophe. To a lesser degree, bank buildings, hospital emergency rooms, airports, government buildings, and bars (particularly crowded ones) fall into the same category. All should be avoided. When they can’t be avoided, we should make it a practice to spend only the minimum time necessary there and then quickly get out.


Living in a city like Portland, when it allows this sort of thing to go on unhindered, counts as "doing stupid things".  So does being on the road in such a city, particularly when the mainstream media will not broadcast warnings of the danger, which might allow you to take alternate routes.

These thugs are going to have to be stopped, probably the hard way - but that's not your job.  Only if they come after you and yours do they become legitimate targets.  Apart from that, stay out of their way if at all possible, because there's no future in deliberately trying to become a hero.  You may succeed - posthumously.  Your loved ones deserve better of you than that.

There are ways to stop these thugs.  I'll discuss some of them shortly.

Peter


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Heh

 

Found on MeWe, courtesy of fellow author John van Stry (click the image for a larger view):



As Miss D. said in her comment about the image on MeWe:  "[This is] Why you never watch a war movie with soldiers, or a flying movie with pilots... unless you enjoy the commentary!"

I must admit, she has a point.  When I watch a war movie, I'm usually enraged by the nonsensical portrayal of combat troops, battles, etc. - which is why I usually won't watch such movies at all.  Once you've "been there and done that", badly scripted and acted portrayals of the real thing are anything but convincing.

Peter


I think I'm undergunned!

 

Phil at Bustedknuckles brings us this photograph (clickit to biggit):



My little collection suddenly feels terribly inadequate!  I can hear them complaining from the gun safe . . . "We need more company!"



Peter


Another masterful analysis from Angelo Codevilla

 

Prof. Angelo Codevilla is one of the most insightful, incisive analysts of the political, social and cultural environment in the USA.  We've heard from him several times in these pages.  Now he's written another excellent article, an analysis of the oligarchy that's taken over our country, and how it's working to suppress and destroy our freedoms.  Here's an excerpt.


The American republic was founded in 1776-89 by the people at large, to serve the general interest by mixing the power of sheer numbers with that of states, and with that of a unitary presidency. But over the last century, the increasingly homogeneous set of people who run the republic’s institutions took power out of the hands of the people’s elected representatives pretty much at all levels, and have governed in their own interest rather than in the general population’s. Nobody voted for this, on any level.

On the contrary: the exercise of coercive powers by and for self-selected elites who claim to know better and who validate one another is the very negation of the constitutional republic within which Americans have lived since 1776. It is oligarchy.

In 21st century America, this oligarchy erased the distinction between public and private powers, and replaced it with the distinction between those who are and are not part of the ruling class. The privatization of public power is oligarchy’s essence. Because government is by the ruling class few, and is for that class’s interest, the oligarchs can wield the coercive powers of government without legal limits, as if they were dealing with their own private affairs.

Those who live under oligarchies are not citizens—because oligarchy validates itself, decides for itself, within itself, and because it is committed above all to negating the people’s capacity to rule itself.

Americans struggle to understand what is happening because we still regard ourselves as citizens, and imagine that those who run our republican institutions still respect them to some extent. We see persons whom the ruling class favors committing crimes with impunity, and complain of “a two-tiered justice system.” But this is not mere corruption. We see corporations wielding government powers and complain that power is being franchised to favorites. But these are not mere favorites of the regime. This is the new regime being itself. Such things are not deviations from republican legality. They are the assertion of oligarchic reality. This is oligarchic justice, oligarchic normality. The republic was yesterday. The oligarchy is today.

Conservatives’ congenital mistake is to try conserving something that no longer exists by supporting institutions that now belong to a regime so alien to republican life that it treats attempts at citizenship as crimes against the regime. And so they are. They call today’s American regime “our democracy.” It is “theirs,” all right, but not ours. It is a classic oligarchy.

. . .

Rejection of oligarchy is possible, even easy, if and when large numbers of persons do it together. This goes for ostensibly private corporations as well as for formerly republican institutions now in the oligarchs’ hands. The moment that millions of Americans, whether led by actual state governors in league with one another or by prospective presidents, recognize that Twitter and Facebook are enemy institutions, their power ends. The moment that millions are led to boycott Costco, or Pfizer, their officers are fired. The moment that these millions, so led, refuse the legitimacy of anything coming from Washington, its power ends.

. . .

Nor, in 2021, can anybody stop the governors and legislatures of any number of states from leading their peoples in settling what is and is not acceptable to them, how they shall and shall not live—that is, nobody can stop them as they decide to govern themselves.

The American people, divided as they are, cannot purge the oligarchs from what had been republican institutions. But those so minded have full power to defend themselves from them and to leave them to their own devices.


There's more at the link.

I see only one flaw in Prof. Codevilla's analysis, and that is that the oligarchs who have now taken control of the USA won't allow us to ignore them.  As Daniel Webster warned us:


Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.


Our current rulers mean to rule.  They won't leave us alone;  they won't allow us to ignore them.  They intend to force us to obey, if necessary by weaponizing the instruments of the State against us (such as the IRS auditing the taxes of anyone who threatens the system).  They've already corrupted that and many other agencies of the federal government (including law enforcement agencies) to the point that they're no longer trustworthy.

How do we stop them?  Well, I know one way - to stop the agents of our rulers, if necessary forcibly, from doing their jobs - but that leads inexorably to actual civil war.  The cure might be worse than the disease.  We're going to have to figure out ways to accomplish this without going that far, if that's still possible.  One remedy might be for State governments to pass laws inhibiting or prohibiting federal officers and staff from performing their functions within their boundaries.  There are (and will be more) federal laws restricting this, but it's one thing to make such laws, and another to enforce them.  It would lead to legislative conflict, and almost certainly judicial as well, but I hope it would stop short of bloodshed.

If that doesn't work . . . well, there's probably only one way.  As the Intrepid Reporter noted yesterday (although I still hope he's wrong):


Too many people still huffing the Copeium and Hopeium

"The Recounts! The Recounts!"

So. ****ing. what?

They already openly and with great satisfaction successfully stole the election.

Do you -really think- that they're going to go "Oh, our bad!" pack up and leave in any way shape or form?  **** no they ain't.  It's like that Saudi Air Force pilot I wrote about back in the day.  Dude panicked, and death gripped the plane into a death dive towards the ground... the American instructor tried to get control, and ended up pulling his .45 and putting it to Abdul's head and telling him he was gonna waste him if he didn't let go of the controls. The ****ing unelected bureaucrats are firmly running the show now... They're in the pilot's seat, and ain't no getting them out unless the guy in the other seat takes out his .45, and aces their brains alllll over the other side of the cockpit.

Eventually, we're going to have to be that guy

The -only- hope I have is that something, somewhere will provide the motivation for either the Boomers to come out of their self-induced ****ing coma and start some ****, OR that the Leviathan, in running roughshod over the grass, tramples the 'wrong grass' so to speak.  The Boomers are still comfortable, as they have all their gains and cash... their nice comfortable retirements in Walled Villages of like-minded/aged fellow self-centered greedheads.  It's if -they- start getting totally ****ed over that shit'll start happening... maybe.  The entirety of current Politics has been for the past 30 years aimed at keeping the giant Boomer demographic fat, dumb, disconnected and happy so as to not cause issues.  In fact it's the pre-Boomers like the 80 year old Pelosi who know and pander to that particular base that keeps them in their $27000 fridges and $15 a pint ice-cream while X'ers and Millennials are forced to scrape by on the scraps.

. . .

Part of that is also, we X'ers woke the **** up sometime around the mid 90's and realized it was all a con... that it was a hustle that we weren't allowed to participate in.  That it was a sham... a con.. that the 'Murican Dream was horse****, so we disconnected, and some of us... we taught our children the same.

. . .

[Admiral James] Stockdale's final comment to Collins is telling: "“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

We must have faith in the final outcome of Good over Evil

But we must remember that in order to survive, an Individual's personal "metal" must be tested.

And that test is by fire.

Fire, that if caught unaware, can consume you and your soul.

A brutal new dawn is coming, be ready.


Again, more at the link.

I truly hope that The Intrepid Reporter is wrong . . . but I know I'm hoping against hope.  A couple of months ago, I linked to The Smallest Minority's masterful article titled "Immanentize the Eschaton!", which you should certainly read in full if you haven't already done so.  Truly, there is no voting our way out of this.  I've already acknowledged that the current Administration and its cronies know they're in a fight for their lives.  If they're turfed out of their illegitimately occupied positions of power (as they should be), they know that they'll face legal and judicial consequences for stealing last year's elections.  They won't take that lightly, and they'll fight to preserve the power and privileges they've illegally stolen.

I think Prof. Codevilla is absolutely right in his analysis, and in his prescription . . . but I think the current powers that be won't allow us to implement his prescription, out of their own self-interest.

As Daniel Webster warned us, "they mean to govern... they mean to be masters".  That pretty much shuts down the easy way out of this, and leaves us only the hard way, as The Intrepid Reporter and many others have pointed out.

God forbid that should become necessary . . . but prayer and wishes haven't worked in similar situations in the past.  Sometimes, loins have to be girded.  Women in every age have sometimes had to emulate their Spartan forebears and tell their sons, "Return with your shield, or on it".  Sometimes there's no other way.

Peter


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

It's about time!

 

I was interested to read that Pandora, the world's largest jewelry brand, will switch completely to artificial or synthetic diamonds instead of mined stones.


CEO Alexander Lacik said the move will make the gems 'accessible' to more people as well as further the company's efforts to make its supply chain more sustainable, ethical and traceable.

. . .

Lacik told the BBC the jewelry can be made and retailed at much lower costs than mined diamonds.  

'We can essentially create the same outcome as nature has created, but at a very, very different price,' he said, adding that they are made for as little as 'a third of what it is for something that we've dug up from the ground.'

. . .

But the company said there is no compromise in the quality, with the lab-made jewels 'physically, chemically, and optically identical to their mined counterparts but they are created above ground'.


There's more at the link.

De Beers for decades tried to prevent the free trading of diamonds, instead trying to persuade producers to enter a monopolistic cartel-like arrangement where prices could be forced artificially high.  Diamonds are basically very common;  even gem-quality stones aren't all that rare, and artificial equivalents have been around for the past forty to fifty years.  The cartel began to splinter in the early 2000's, as new producers broke away from the monopoly.  Now that technology has reached the point where an artificially created diamond is literally indistinguishable from its natural equivalent, I expect the final elements of the cartel to collapse.

Diamonds should be far, far cheaper than they are, when one considers how relatively abundant they are in nature.  Perhaps a step like this by a major jeweler will finally allow prices to find their own natural level, rather than see unfairly high prices being extorted from the consumer.

Peter


Inflation watch

 

The trickle of reports about inflation began to swell some months ago.  Now it's approaching a torrent, as more and more observers point out the obvious - that inflation is real, it's here, and it's perilously close to out of control.  A few headlines from the past week:



What troubles me most about those headlines is that they aren't being repeated in the mainstream media.  It's almost as if the media have decided to suppress news about inflation, to protect the Biden administration's economic policies - which are leading directly to even more inflationary risk.  A lot of people are going to be caught very, very short if the worst happens.

When you find sources such as JP Morgan, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Warren Buffet and others of their ilk speaking out about inflation, that bodes ill for the future.  These are people and institutions at the very top of their field.  If they're worried, we should be too, as we discussed last week.

Last night The Silicon Graybeard published a list from Reddit summarizing inflation in various commodities.  It ranged from 8% to 470%.  Click over there and read it for yourself - then compare your own shopping basket to those numbers.

Peter


Defending yourself in a progressive, left-wing environment - Part 2

 

In the first part of this series, I said I'd experienced in several countries the failure of the justice system to support the rule of law, and seen how it was overturned (and in some cases replaced) by the rule of the mob.  We're seeing precisely that in several US cities right now, so I'd like to present the "lessons learned" in other countries to see whether there are ideas we can use locally.

I'll start with South Africa from the late 1970's to the mid-1990's.  This was a time of massive unrest, not unlike a rolling civil war at times.  Troubles would break out in one place, be suppressed, and then break out in another.  The issue was the white government of the country and its racially discriminatory policies known collectively as apartheid.  They included many laws that criminalized what any democracy would regard as normal and legitimate activities.  Denied any political avenue to protest, opponents of apartheid became more and more radicalized, and turned to the former Soviet Union for inspiration and support.  Increasingly isolated and paranoid, the apartheid government declared itself under a "total onslaught" from external sources, and developed a siege mentality.  Ordinary citizens, particularly black people, became so much cannon fodder for both sides.

For ordinary people like you and I, this was an extraordinarily difficult situation.  They could be living their normal lives, only to find from one day to the next that their residential area had become a battleground.  Outside forces would move in and try to force them to behave in a certain way, or support a particular movement.  If they did not, they were "sellouts" or "stooges".  The government forces would push back, demanding their support for "law and order" (the same law that classified many of them as, effectively, sub-human).  If they objected, or tried to avoid getting caught up in the struggle, they were automatically regarded as suspicious, and might be targeted by both sides.

I recall one incident for which I'll forever feel guilty.  A labor organizer (illegal under South African law, where trades unions for black people were banned at the time) was arrested by the police.  I knew him, and donated money to his family to help them keep body and soul together while he was in detention.  Tragically, I was seen giving money to his wife;  and township gossips immediately assumed that if she was getting money from a white man, it could only mean that she was a police informer.  That night a group of thugs from the local resistance dragged her out of her house, gang-raped her in front of her three children - hacking off her arms at the elbow when she resisted - then poured gasoline over an old tire, put it around her neck, and set fire to it (the dreaded "necklace").  Her horrified children were forced to watch as she burned to death.  They didn't matter to her attackers, of course - they were children of a "sell-out" in their eyes, and therefore of no account.  If only I'd taken greater care not to be seen giving her money, she might still be alive, and they would not have been mentally and emotionally scarred for life by seeing what they did . . . but that was Africa, and it still is in many places.  Human life is still dirt-cheap there.

Many simply "hunkered down" and tried to live through the chaos.  They had no means to resist, and were too afraid to try.  They chose to endure, and many became victims.  Those who had the courage and initiative to stand up against the violence, and try to defend themselves and others against it, took a greater risk, and some paid dearly for it;  but at least they were able to protect their families and groups of like-minded people against the chaos.  I was in the thick of those evil years, and I've written about some aspects of them in previous articles:



The first thing that had to be done was to ensure local law and order by keeping as many criminals as possible at a distance.  This wasn't easy.  In such a lawless environment, many local gangsters set themselves up as warlords, dominating their areas and exacting a toll on residents to fund their criminal lifestyles.  Any resistance was met with savage reprisals.  Sadly, that meant the resistance also became more and more savage.  The Golden Rule tells us to "do to others as you want them to do to you".  If gangsters behave brutally, they must expect brutality in return - and they got it, in spades.

(One example:  A group of young thugs from the so-called Mass Democratic Movement, or MDM, mostly from the Xhosa tribe, decided to attack a meeting of the women's auxiliary of the Inkatha Freedom Party [a Zulu political organization].  They ran in a loose gaggle up the street, surrounded the hall where the meeting was taking place, and began to force their way in.  Nothing loth, the women [who were typical Zulu "mammies", large, well-muscled and pugnacious] poured out of the hall and gave as good as they got.  I was there, and watched them literally rip fence posts out of the ground to beat up the interfering MDM youngsters.  A group of cops were standing there, watching, enjoying the spectacle [because the MDM was "the enemy" as far as they were concerned].  I asked them why they weren't intervening to stop the violence, only to receive horrified looks at my stupidity in wanting to intervene in what was a tribal, as well as political, fight.  Several on both sides were severely injured, and a lot of blood was shed - but the MDM's bully-boy tactics were decisively defeated, at least on that occasion.)

Resisting the gangsters didn't mean challenging them for control.  There were usually too many of them and not enough resisters.  However, if an area could be made too expensive for them to dominate - because they lost too many people there, or had to commit an inordinate amount of resources to maintain control - they would look for easier pickings elsewhere.  Thus, the gang's local people were targeted, and beaten up or even killed.  Any replacements met similar fates.  The gangs would try to retaliate, but if they met a united front, they would generally back off.  They had too much to lose, and too much to gain in weaker areas.

Of course, such resistance ran the risk of ending up as a new gang, also performing criminal acts.  This happened with an Islamic group, first calling itself Qibla, then forming PAGAD (People Against Gangsterism And Drugs).  The latter started off as a Muslim welfare society and mutual defense association, but rapidly degenerated into a criminal gang itself.  There were many such, in all communities in South Africa.  It took strong, determined leadership from people such as Inyati to prevent that happening, and keep the group focused on its original purpose - and such leaders were in short supply.

Resistance meant that weapons had to be obtained from somewhere, and defensive positions prepared.  The weapons were usually locally made, unless firearms could be bought on the black market (you should pardon the expression), or captured from the opposition and turned against them (a frequent occurrence).  Pangas (a local term for machetes) were acquired (examples made from the leaf springs of heavy trucks were particularly prized for their superior performance);  spears (so-called assegais) were manufactured, in both throwing and stabbing varieties;  and bows and arrows were produced.  I remember one group that made three heavy-duty crossbows from truck leaf springs, including a hard-to-crank windlass to cock them, and rebar projectiles that were sharpened on a grinding wheel.  They were absolutely deadly at short to medium range, with enough power to drive a bolt right through a human body.  Knobkerries, clubs with rounded heads, were very often encountered, and the traditional Zulu isihlangu, a leaf-shaped cowhide shield mounted on a central wooden shaft, was often carried to provide some protection against similar weapons.  Finally, sjamboks - thick, heavy whips traditionally made from hippopotamus hide, but later from other materials, including plastic replicas - were not uncommon, being used by police as well.  A skillful wielder could cut flesh from bone with one of them.

Those weapons might not have been very effective against the AK-47's and SKS's of terrorists;  but the battlefield could be "shaped" to aid the defenders and hinder attackers.  Caltrops were a common tool for the purpose, scattered in areas that couldn't be monitored constantly, or where thick cover like long grass or bushes prevented observation.  They could be easily made from heavy-duty wire or rebar, soldered or welded together by local blacksmiths.  Screams of pain from those impaled on them were useful warnings to pay attention to where they'd been sown.  Molotov cocktails were used to deter vehicles, or to throw at groups of attackers.  The sight of a man turned into a human torch was a very effective dissuader.  Arrows were sometimes used as a deterrent, to keep enemies at a distance.  If, despite all those measures, the enemy managed to get dangerously close, it was time for an attack against them.  A sudden charge from cover, or out of concealment in nearby houses, turned many a fight into a rout.

Of course, casualties had to be expected in such fights.  The defenders were as much at risk as the attackers, and injuries and deaths were simply something to be expected.  However, well-organized groups of defenders, who knew their local area well, had prepared it for defense, and were as well-armed as they could manage, were often able to keep the bad guys at a safe distance.  Knowing they would pay in blood if they tried to intrude, they usually chose areas that were less dangerous.

The South African police were at the time pretty much the enforcement arm of apartheid.  Many of their members were overtly racist, and they didn't try very hard to protect black townships against this sort of internecine violence.  As far as they were concerned, if blacks turned on other blacks, it worked to their advantage, so why not just let them have at it?  That was no comfort at all to law-abiding citizens in the black townships, of course . . . which is where groups like that with which I worked came into play.  We tried to help the victims of violence, without any political motivation or overtone.  That made us enemies both of the apartheid state, which wanted to "divide and rule", and of the terrorists trying to overthrow apartheid, who wanted to rule by terror and didn't want anyone being given any hope unless they supported the "resistance".  We lost a lot of dead and injured people in those years.

The lesson we learned was that if you offered no resistance, you would be steamrollered by the forces of violence.  They had no compunction about forcing themselves on entire communities, ruling by violence, intimidation and brutality.  They knew no other language, and would not tolerate any resistance.  One could avoid them in one place by moving to another, but sooner or later they'd turn up there as well.  The only sure defense was to organize with like-minded people to defend one's families and neighborhoods.  It was literally "fight or die".  Communities that didn't do that were rapidly overrun, and became victims.

Many of the lessons we learned in South Africa can be applied to the USA as well.  If you look at a Black Lives Matter or Antifa demonstration, they appear to be nothing more or less than the deliberately organized intimidation of white Americans.  The demonstrators know that the authorities are very unlikely to act against them;  rather, the authorities may target those who resist them, as we discussed yesterday.  Therefore, they're emboldened to become even more provocative, violent and aggressive.  I don't think that most US police forces are yet at the point where they'll refuse to intervene to stop major violence against the suburbs, but I think that may be coming.  For example, Minneapolis police reportedly won't come to your aid if you're at or near George Floyd Square - they'll demand that you come to meet them in a safer area.  What happens if you can't?  It sounds to me as if in that case, you're on your own.  In how many other cities is that happening?  Seattle, for one, if a new lawsuit is to be believed.

The form which resistance takes is obviously a troubling factor.  I'm not suggesting that US citizens should become as violent as we encountered in South Africa;  but that will depend very much on how violent the rioters become.  You can't put out a raging fire by throwing a thimbleful of water at it.  You need sufficient water, at sufficient volume and pressure, to put it out.  The scale of the threat will determine the scale of the response.  However, any major response may well lead to a politically correct justice system targeting the defenders, rather than the attackers.  This applies particularly if they're stigmatized as "militia" or "right-wing", as seen again just last week.  Again, we discussed this yesterday, and in many of the articles linked there.  This will call for extreme discretion, wherever possible, on the part of defenders.  If they aren't witnessed or recorded defending themselves or their neighborhood, they can't be charged with any crime, real or politically trumped-up.

South Africa is just one example where people were forced to rely on themselves to keep the peace.  In the next article in this series, we'll discuss more cases, from more extreme environments.

Peter


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Brief hiatus - sorry about that

 

Something's come up that won't wait, so I've had to put the blog to one side for the rest of the day while I deal with real life.  Nothing nasty - just life.  I'll be back tomorrow.

Peter


Heh

 

Found on Gab yesterday.  Click the screenshot for a larger view.



Don't ask kids things like that.  You never know what they'll demand!



Peter