Based on my memory of where we lived at the time, remembering our living-room as the site, in 1973 I hosted a meeting of the John Birch Society (JBS). I only did that once, and my reasons for never doing it again, never participating again, had more to do with a lack of moral courage than anything about them. In my youthful and naive political state, I felt they were on to the right messages, but that I would be stigmatized by belonging and participating. For a brief while I had a bumper sticker supporting JBS, but when my older brother Steve snickered at it and me, it went away.
First, a brief history of JBS from Wikipedia. Surprisingly, it is littered with usual suspects and spook markers. The Society, founded in 1958, was named after John Birch, the “first American casualty of the Cold War.” During World War II, he was a military intelligence officer under General Claire Chennault. He was part of the “Doolittle Raid,” a subject that rings a bell but is off-topic here. In 1942, Birch, who spoke Chinese, became an Army Intelligence officer. In 1945, Birch was promoted to Captain and worked for the OSS, Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA. He led confrontations against renegade groups of Chinese Communists ordered to surrender. In one such confrontation, Birch was ordered to give up his sidearm, and refused. He was beaten and then shot, and his corpse was bayoneted.
“There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Aggressive stupidity: “Stupidity that flaunts ignorance and seeks out opportunities to go toe-to-toe with real knowledge is another story altogether, being at once dismaying and frightening.” (Donald Weick, American Thinker)
This post, I hope when it is done, will qualify as a rant. In my life I have traveled in most circles, from conservative Republican (birth family) to liberal Democrat (the bounce – once I realized that conservative Republicans had it wrong, I assumed liberal Democrats had it right – you might say I was stupid), to Naderite Green and back to “conservative” without the R. On that journey the worst and most thoroughly annoying people I have met are liberal Democrats. Their brains have been shrink-wrapped and function without adequate oxygen. Let me give an example:
The national debt just jumped higher than ever before. Music maestro! Gold medal.
During the Obama era the national debt was a daily topic of concern at the Heritage Foundation — the leading “conservative” think tank. Many AM radio mouthpieces hammered home the risk to our economy and our individual households, especially to “our grandchildren,” who will apparently be responsible for paying it all back. And in Congress, especially among those House and Senate members self-described as members of the “freedom caucus,” the national debt was tops.
Well, as it turns out, debt is our business, our only business. The debt plantation just got bigger. No surprise. I haven’t figured out a proper theme song, but am soliciting suggestions as we merrily wander into new (debt) territory. No worries, mates. It’s an I.O.U.
In the not so recent past Montana’s private logging contractors and saw-mill owners operated predominantly on privately-owned lands. The old growth was “high-graded” (stripped off), and much of that land was sold off to the federal government and real estate corporations (REITs). In other words, after the easy-to-access, high-value old growth on private land was liquidated, the timber industry has been going through a structural transition (merger, acquisition, liquidation) for decades. This is the trend. Mills have closed, workforce numbers declined, and the “timber economy” in Montana and other Northern Rockies states has trended downward, with no end in sight.
A significant portion of all wood-fiber production has relocated to the Southeastern states for a variety of quite logical, ecological and economic reasons.
I was listening to a talk by Andrew Klavan, the crime and suspense writer, given at Hillsdale College. I liked the entire talk, as I think I have come half-circle. Twenty-nine years ago I dropped my then twenty-years-running subscription to National Review, the magazine founded by Bill Buckley. I just renewed it. I hope this time around I am a better thinker. There is much I like about conservatism, and much I find to be less well reasoned. (Their attitude about the supposed “free market” and health care along with opposition to “socialized” medicine has led us to a dystopia called Obamacare, making us prisoners of AHIP, though they are not aware of this.)