The mythology channel

I should have known better than to expect anything like real history from The History Channel. With the notable exception of some of their reality series like Pawn Stars, American Restoration, and Ice Road Truckers — all three of which I admit (somewhat sheepishly) to watching and enjoying — their usual fare consists mostly of dramatizations of history filtered through the lens of modern (which is to say, liberal) sensibilities.

At first it looked like The Men Who Built America, History’s new series about the great American industrialists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, might be an exception. In the first two episodes, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie are treated somewhat sympathetically, and are even credited with providing real economic benefits to society. There are omissions and factual errors, to be sure, and there are the usual annoying anachronisms that plague a lot of History Channel dramatizations (like 20th century European locomotives pulling trains that supposedly were running on 19th century American railroad tracks), but on the whole, I thought the series was off to a promising start.

That is, until they got to Henry Clay Frick.

Frick is the bad boy of American capitalism, the man everyone loves to hate. According to CNBC, Frick was once voted “the most hated man in America”. I have been unable to find evidence that there was ever an election in which Frick was voted that title, but, yes, he was (and is) one of the most hated men in America. He is also one of the most lied about men in America, and The History Channel not only repeats the lies, but invents some new ones of their own. Read more »

The People’s Republic of Maryland

I think I’ll try to get a job with one of the local television stations as a political prognosticator. My record in Tuesday’s election was perfect — every candidate I voted for lost, and every ballot question I voted against won. If they want to accurately forecast election results, all they have to do is ask me who I’m voting for, and then predict that candidate’s opponent as the winner.

Actually, I wasn’t even voting for the candidates I was voting for. I was voting against their opponents. Tuesday’s results show just how far the electorate of Maryland has strayed from my views. Now that sounds like an egotistical statement, doesn’t it? But half of it’s true: I’ve held the views I now hold practically my entire adult life. Maryland voters never really held views that were that close to mine, but at one time they at least were capable of voting for — gasp! — Republicans.

Now I understand why former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich ran such a lackluster campaign when he tried to make a political comeback in 2010. His internal polling probably told him it was no use. Even if not, he probably wasn’t all that eager to return to the Governor’s Mansion, anyway. The last time he was there, from 2003 – 2007, he faced veto-proof Democrat majorities in both houses of the legislature that blocked everything he attempted to do and overrode every one of his vetoes. And they did it for the same reason a dog licks its privates: because they could.

The fact is, Maryland, with its large population of federal employees, government contractors , lobbyists, and people on public assistance — what columnist Ilana Mercer calls the “oink sector” — has become a very left-wing state, and is becoming more so. The election results proved that. Read more »

How I’m voting

I’ve been delinquent in posting to this blog, for which I apologize. I’ve had too many other things going on. I still do, but I thought I’d take a break in order to tell you how I plan to vote. I guess you could call these my endorsements, except in most cases I don’t endorse most of what the candidates stand for.

I may as well start with the most important one: for President, I’m voting for Mitt Romney. I’ve already caught some grief for this decision, mostly from my son. Why am I, a libertarian of almost 50 years, not supporting Gary Johnson? Don’t I know that Romney can’t be trusted? Don’t I know he’s flip-flopped, sometimes two or three times, on just about every issue? Don’t I know that even when he runs as a conservative, he runs as a big-government conservative? That he favors a big military and foreign intervention?

My answer is, yes, yes, yes and yes. But I have a very compelling reason for supporting Romney, except “supporting” is to put it too mildly. Actually I’m hoping for an overwhelming, smashing, landslide Romney victory tomorrow. A Romney victory is our last and only chance to get rid of Obamacare.

Do I trust Romney to do this? Absolutely not. I don’t trust him any farther than I can throw an elephant. I feel the same way about his promises to deregulate and cut taxes. But I trust Obama completely: I trust him to try to tax more, to regulate more, and most of all I trust him to veto any bill repealing Obamacare. At least with Romney, we have a fighting chance at getting rid of it. And, who knows? During the campaign Democrats were claiming that a President Romney would be a captive of the Tea Party. Maybe they’re right. I sure hope they’re right. Read more »

Back to blogging — finally

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this site (or even looked at it, for that matter). Well, I’m back, hopefully on a more-or-less regular basis.

I spent much of 2011 in Home Improvement Hell as a project I naively thought would take a month stretched into six. From there, I went on the injured list for a while, and then spent a good chunk of 2012 in Computer Hell.

My original intention was to paint the interior of my house from top to bottom, and install a couple of ceiling fans along the way. But drywall had to be repaired, electrical circuits had to be rerouted, electrical fixtures had to be replaced, floors had to be refinished, and brickwork had to be repaired. Furniture had to be moved from room to room, and eventually all of it had to be moved to the basement and then back again. A lot of it (including a convertible couch that must have weighed a ton) just went to the recycling center or The Salvation Army, since I wanted to downsize anyway.

In the process of renovating my house I tore the meniscus in my left knee. That was the situation the last time I wrote about this almost a year ago. To make a long story short, I had to get, not one, but two surgical procedures done. The first one (which I won’t go into here) was the more serious one, and I had to have it done to make it possible to knock me out to do the actual meniscus trim. Read more »

A voice of reason is stilled

I never spent much time listening to talk radio. My various occupations over the years — professor, writer of software and, more recently, unpaid blogger — always demanded my mind’s full attention, leaving no room for the distraction posed by a conversation in the background, especially a conversation dealing with matters of importance. Thus, I did not become a regular listener of the Ron Smith Show until last spring, when I began a project to repair and repaint my entire house.

I was almost too late. Ron Smith died last night following a battle with pancreatic cancer. It was a mercifully short battle that lasted only a little over two months — he was diagnosed with cancer in mid-October — but it was scant consolation for his many devoted listeners.

It was my son, Steve, who brought Ron Smith to my attention about eight years ago. At that time the Ron Smith Show had the three-to-six afternoon time slot on WBAL, and Steve used to listen to him during his long commute. The war in Iraq was still new, and virtually all conservatives supported former President Bush’s decision to go to war — all except Ron Smith, that is. The fact that Smith, who was so conservative on so many other issues, opposed the war got Steve’s attention and, eventually, his agreement. Read more »