Category Archives: History

New Special Forces e-Bikes are Really Just Motorcycles

Special Forces are orienting around the amazing performance characteristics of light bicycles with electric motors — motorcycles.

One of the curious problems with gasoline motorcycles is they grew too big and unwieldy at several hundred pounds, not to mention they ran on gasoline (not ideal for a military running on diesel). And since light-weight diesel motorcycles never really seemed to take off, electric makes perfect sense.

A new story in iNews claims an exclusive in reporting that Colorado is supplying the new commercial-sector mountain bicycles with electric motors to the military for testing.

In a reverse of the convention of defence technology finding its way to the civilian market, the vogue for military bicycles follows the global boom in e-bikes used by commuters and leisure cyclists. The value of the this market is predicted to reach £34bn by 2026.

But the new breed of special forces bike is a different beast.

With five-inch-wide tyres more likely to be found on a motorbike, a range of nearly 60 miles and silent 1,000w motors, the Jeep/QuietKat bike, made in Colorado, has been tailored for the needs of cycling special forces.

There are multiple problems with this story, although I have to commend it for making history front and center to the narrative.

First, it’s not a one-way convention. The civilian market also has a convention of making its way into defense technology. Special Forces often pull civilian companies like Patagonia, North Face, and Arcteryx into their equipment kits (as I’ve written about here before).

Second, the boom in e-bikes has been very pronounced in mountain bike racing, where training now is pedal-assist power to improve range in order to improve handling. In other words if you ride a technical pump track 50 times on an electric motor for training, then you likely get 40 times more experience in a session to prepare for non-electric racing than if you didn’t have the motor.

In other words, the “new breed of special forces bike” is NOT different from civilian bikes. A range of 60 miles on silent 1,000w motors is par for course, as well as extra fat tires commonly used for snow and sand trails.

Here’s a typical tweet from me in 2015.

Source: Twitter

Third, the history in this story has a GIANT gaping omission. This is not fair retelling.

Ever since the advent of the mass-produced bicycle in the late 1800s, armies have looked to harness the potential of soldiers on two wheels.

By the end of the 19th century most European militaries had formed bicycle units to replace horses for the delivery of messages and scouting and surveillance missions.

During the First World War, the British Army had two Cyclist Divisions, largely devoted to home guard duties. Prior to the war becoming bogged down in trenches, all sides sought to use fast-moving cyclist units, with the Belgian military using early folding bikes.

However, it was the Japanese who became most closely identified with the mass deployment of cycling soldiers. When Tokyo invaded China in 1937, it did so with a 50,000-strong “bicycle infantry”.

The ability to rapidly move large numbers of troops through jungle terrain without motorised transport proved vital to Japan’s early victories in the Second World War. During the invasion of Malaya in 1941, Japan was able to repeatedly outflank and overrun a retreating British Army by using bicycles along minor routes, ultimately resulting in the humiliating loss of Singapore.

During the Vietnam War the Viet Cong used bicycles to ferry supplies along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The Swiss Army maintained its Bicycle Regiment until 2001.

That covers a few bases, obviously (no pun intended).

What is missing? It was Black Americans who invented mountain biking in 1896. The Buffalo Soldiers deserve credit, as I’ve written about here before, for riding bikes from the Rocky Mountains all the way to Missouri.

A story about mountain bikes being developed in the Rocky Mountains for military use, which makes no mention of 1896 bikes in the Rocky Mountains for military use… begs the question why leave out the most obvious comparison of all.

Also, as I suggested at the start, a bicycle with a motor is in fact a motorcycle so this history really should include motorcycles when considering usage and modifications to carry heavy loads.

Who Attended General Lee’s Funeral and Why?

Confederate General Lee died obscurely as a foreigner and traitor to the U.S., never having been pardoned and without restoring his citizenship

One of the great myths about General Lee was that he was well liked or popular. Let’s look at how that came to be.

Start with this simple history fact:

On June 7, 1865, Underwood’s grand jury indicted Robert E. Lee for treason, charging him with “wickedly, maliciously, and traitorously” carrying on war against the Constitution and the “peace and dignity” of the United States of America. Lee faced death by hanging, if found guilty of the charges.

If Lee had been victorious, it would have meant death to the Constitution. Thus he very correctly was charged at the end of war with treason.

He was the very face of tyranny and the Old South.

He betrayed his own country, a republic, with the aim of slaughtering Americans to replace it with a violent tyranny where only a few white aristocratic men would rule. As a deeply flawed aristocrat Lee was to blame for a staggeringly cruel death toll, and doing little or nothing when his followers committed gross atrocities.

Don’t get me wrong.

There were people who liked him for his barbaric tactics in war against America, some even trying to fabricate a “Christian Soldier” myth to rope in religious extremism as some kind of excuse for his habit towards unnecessarily high casualties (while Grant maneuvered into obviously decisive victories, Lee coldly dug in for absolutely brutal defeats of unnecessary death, foreshadowing Hitler’s strategy disasters of Nazi Germany).

Yet, his funeral gives us ample evidence how his popularity diminished so greatly he died mostly ignored just a few years after the end of the Civil War he infamously lost. In a very real sense it was a state of being ignored and disappearing from view that prevented him from being instead very publicly put to death by hanging.

Had he stuck his neck out after the Civil War it very likely would have been cut off for him.

Indeed, prohibited from taking any public office or even being able to vote in elections, he hid himself away quietly as a president of a small militant extremist training school, a regional “Washington College” in Lexington, Virginia (a school he fit into well, given it very notably owned human beings and benefited from their forced labor and sale).

Then Lee abruptly died from heart disease on October 12th (just five years after the end of Civil War).

Records tell us at this point very few mourned him outside his militant school and his former circles of slaveholder politicians. The numbers don’t lie.

The school even had to turn its “cadets” into his pallbearers and the small funeral procession was over almost as quickly as it started.

Order of Procession as “Escort of honor, consisting of officers and soldiers of the Confederate Army. Chaplain and other Clergy. Hearse and Pall-Bearers. General Lee’s Horse. The Attending Physicians. Trustees and Faculty of Washington College. Dignitaries of the State of Virginia. Visitors and Faculty of V. M. Institute. Other Representative Bodies and Distinguished Visitors. Alumni of Washington College. Citizens. Cadets V. M. Institute. Students Washington College as Guard of Honour.” It continues, in part “At 10 O’Clock, Precisely, The Procession (except as hereafter designated) will be formed on the College ground, in front of the President’s House and will move down Washington Street… The Procession will be halted in front of the Chapel… when the Cadets for the Institute and the Students of Washington College will be marched through the College Chapel, past the remains…

These details are captured in an auction piece.

And it’s confirmed also in an 1883 recount of the funeral.

Source: Life of General Lee

To put it another way a small regional school and some former seditious officers showed up dutifully, as well as slaveholder politicians, in total numbering barely over 1,000 people.

That’s essentially nothing, given he had only recently stopped being the head of a secessionist military with lofty aims of destroying America to replace it with a slave state.

He had more than 8X that number preparing to fight a last battle when he surrendered just a few years prior. Think about that. Four years after 8,000 men swore they would fight to destroy America on Lee’s command only a few showed up to pay him respect at his funeral.

Thus, the defeated General Lee died with a negative score in his battles, losing a massive war badly with excessive loss of life. He had not regained his citizenship, nor was he personally/formally pardoned officially for treason let alone leading a fight to destroy the American Constitution.

Nonetheless his body was allowed to receive a “military salute” from the tight circle of his own cadets at his school.

Tributes were mentioned in eight cities: Louisville, Kentucky; Augusta, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Atlanta, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Columbia, South Carolina; Baltimore, Maryland; and Lexington, Kentucky.

Eight cities.

In a nutshell, after Lee stopped his fight to expand slavery and surrendered his sword to General Grant at Appomattox Court-House, his public career ended. He quickly passed from public thoughts and very few cared to inquire about his fate, foreshadowing why his own cadets in a small college in an obscure town had to be his pallbearers.

Lee was buried under his school’s church and its name was abruptly changed to “Washington and Lee”. This foreshadowed anti-American Confederate flags being flown in that chapel (until 2014) and even serving as an events center for anti-American militant groups (until 2016).

All of it stood in direct contradiction to Lee’s supposed wishes to bury signs of his rebellion (which confusingly contradict him being president of a militant school). It’s a good reminder to everyone that even in death he continued to be a confused and ineffective leader.

The Washington and Lee school in fact just refused to undo that name change (continuing to disgrace Lee’s stated aims to end rebellion). They plainly cited “a threat to current financial support”, suggesting Lee’s name mainly serves now as a means of stoking cash donations by manipulating outrage among white supremacists.

A big scam for people to make a lot of money.

Remember When Seat-belts Were Controversial?

Here’s a flashback from Canadian news. An Alberta judge ruled in 1989 that seat-belt use could not be made mandatory under the constitution:

Fast forward and by 2009 Alberta reported 92% acceptance of their government that says

There is a $162 fine for not complying with occupant restraint laws.

Similarly, Alberta started with a lax approach to the COVID19 pandemic that sent it into a preventable death spiral. Their tune has completely changed now, albeit late yet again:

“The government’s first obligation must be to avoid large numbers of preventable deaths. We must deal with the reality that we are facing. We cannot wish it away. Morally, ethically and legally, the protection of life must be our paramount concern.”

The United States (including its Supreme Court) apparently has been more successful at defeating stupid attempts like Alberta’s to rule safety technology unconstitutional.

Seat belt laws have mainly been challenged as a violation of an individual’s constitutionally protected right to privacy and as an invalid exercise of a state’s constitutionally granted police power. These arguments have been rejected by the courts in Illinois, Iowa, and New Jersey, and also, we believe in New York. The North Carolina case unsuccessfully attacked the law on different grounds, e.g., that it represented involuntary servitude and slavery. The Montana case involved a declared “free” man’s unsuccessful assertion that he was not subject to any state or federal laws.

Ok, Montana might take the prize for being the dumbest take on freedom (obviously laws protect freedoms by encoding definitions of encroachment) but someone in North Carolina actually argued slavery?!

Leave it to a Carolinian to put forward an official argument that slavery is equivalent to putting on a seat belt.

I can’t bring myself to read the court documents for fear I’ll find someone writing down that slavery was just a way to protect slaves from being enslaved.

For some reason asking people to do what is easy and in their own best interests, as well as the interests of others, turns them into toddlers throwing tantrums.

How stupid and defiant do you have to be to go to the trouble to buy and put on a seat belt shirt when it has none of the advantages of seat belts, including ease of putting it on and taking it off?

Is it harder to put on a seat-belt or a t-shirt?

The fake seat-belt shirt really should make the wearer look like a crash test dummy and have a large organ donor form on the front and back. That at least makes it worth the effort of putting one on.

On second thought, what if the government mandated wearing a t-shirt with fake seat-belt graphic and people protested by putting on real seat-belts instead?

Perhaps you won’t be surprised to hear that in a state known for its Nazism, a government official who drove seat-belt laws was accused of…

Michigan Rep. David Hollister received a letter likening him to Hitler.

New Yorkers complained in a similar fashion, although they invoked Russia.

Speaking of dictators and Russia, Ronald Reagan tried to block a NHTSA rule requiring passive restraints and was struck down by his Supreme Court in a unanimous decision.

Here’s a tragic data point to think about, given Ronald Reagan was clearly putting Americans needlessly into harms way:

…the one out of eight Americans who don’t wear their seat belts account for nearly two-thirds of all the fatal accidents…

Reagan was without question a horrible human being.

And on that note, here’s the American version of that Canadian video above.

Cooperation Instead of Competition: How to Win Peace Through Wars

I love a new article by War on the Rocks about “grass roots” engagement because its heart is in the exact right place, yet much of the history and analysis seems off-base.

The following sentence is a giant clue to what this topic is really about:

…fear of losing such expensive equipment induced risk aversion among decision-makers and prevented them from being released…

It reminded me very much of how ill-prepared the US was marching Civil-War style into Spanish American War, and what saved the day. Few Americans remember but July 2nd 1898 the 24th and 25th Colored Infantry rescued the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill.

‘If it hadn’t been for the black cavalry, the Rough Riders would have been exterminated.’ Five black soldiers of the 10th Cavalry received the Medal of Honor and 25 other black soldiers were awarded the Certificate of Merit.

I’ve written about this before also in terms of WWI, where an innovative Beersheba battle victory attributed to British deception operations and a charge of their black cavalry had a decisive effect on the overall war.

And on that note it KILLS me to read in the War on the Rocks article something like this:

The ‘do-it-yourself’ ethos has evolved from hobbyist clubs that were dedicating to building personal computers back in the 1970s…

No. Go back much, much earlier.

It was self-sufficiency and becoming a “made man” (e.g. General Grant was genius at hard-working innovations) that drove Union forces to defeat rigid-thinking Southern Confederacy of slaveholders in Civil War.

American innovation is greatly hampered by inability to leverage diverse thinking that is readily available. When talking about “risk aversion” we need to be honest, describing it in terms more illustrative of the problem such as racism or sexism.

It also is hampered by a lack of teaching history, which illustrates how innovations have best come from integrating, in other words learning to compete together instead of against each other. Victory is achievable to those who collaborate better.

US Supreme Court: Vaccine Mandates Preserve “Real Liberty”

Suicide is immoral, yet Fox News Channel actively promotes it.

American schools long have mandated vaccination shots…

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A/B
  • Meningitis
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Polio
  • Pneumonia
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping Cough
The 1954 polio vaccine used a clinical trial of 1.3 million American children. Nine months after trial the vaccine was declared safe and effective, and mass inoculation began. Polio became a mandated vaccination in all 50 states and transmission vanished over 25 years.

A COVID19 vaccine obviously comes within this well established context where freedoms are maintained because children are mandated to have a prevention measure to make everyone safer (security control that protects against a predictable loss of freedom).

…to attend school in your state of Nebraska, children must be vaccinated against a number of diseases. … They must be vaccinated against diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella, hepatitis B and chickenpox…

And healthcare workers as well as the military for a long time have been mandated to get certain vaccines.

This is all pretty basic knowledge.

And yet it still probably helps someone to hear the US Supreme Court officially ruled that mandating vaccines supports “real liberty” and freedom from tyranny by some individual, thus does not violate the Constitution.

Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905):

There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis, organized society could not exist with safety to its members. Society based on the rule that each one is a law unto himself would soon be confronted with disorder and anarchy. Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others. This court has more than once recognized it as a fundamental principle that “persons and property are subjected to all kinds of restraints and burdens, in order to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity of the State, of the perfect right of the legislature to do which no question ever was, or upon acknowledged general principles ever can be, made so far as natural persons are concerned.”

Very clearly the courts ruled mandatory vaccinations may serve an important purpose in preserving welfare of the many, thus are neither arbitrary nor oppressive.

…it was the duty of the constituted authorities primarily to keep in view the welfare, comfort and safety of the many, and not permit the interests of the many to be subordinated to the wishes or convenience of the few.

…it is equally true in every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.

The Atlantic interviewed historian Michael Willrich (author of “Pox: An American History”) who put the Jacobson case in perspective of national security.

The opinion of the court was written by Justice John Marshall Harlan, who was a Civil War veteran. And for him, it was clear that this case was a legitimate exercise of the police power of the state. Smallpox was extremely dangerous, and he insisted that, by the same logic that a government can raise an army to prevent a military invasion and can compel individual citizens to take up arms and risk being shot down in the defense of their country, by that same sort of rationale, the government can fight off a deadly disease and demand individuals to be vaccinated, even if it violated their sense of personal liberty or conscience or whatever.

This opinion was reaffirmed again in 1922 by the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision about protection of the nation against threats.

Long before this suit was instituted, Jacobson v. Massachusetts had settled that it is within the police power of a state to provide for compulsory vaccination. These ordinances confer not arbitrary power, but only that broad discretion required for the protection of the public health.

The subtext here of course is there are experts operating in positions of expertise who are making “reasonable regulations”, and that is exactly what is happening in terms of COVID19 vaccination mandates.

Notably, that Jacobson case was regarding smallpox, which by 1905 had a pretty obvious success record going all the way back to the origin of vaccination in 1796.

The decision of 1905 continued to prove itself correct, so much that smallpox was globally eradicated by the 1980s due to mandatory vaccination orders.

Another proof the 1905 decision was the right one for a nation seeking “real liberty” is found in a 1996 CDC study of countries that didn’t mandate vaccination enough:

Finally, we can look at the experiences of several developed countries after they let their immunization levels drop. Three countries – Great Britain, Sweden, and Japan – cut back the use of pertussis vaccine because of fear about the vaccine. The effect was dramatic and immediate. In Great Britain, a drop in pertussis vaccination in 1974 was followed by an epidemic of more than 100,000 cases of pertussis and 36 deaths by 1978. In Japan, around the same time, a drop in vaccination rates from 70% to 20%-40% led to a jump in pertussis from 393 cases and no deaths in 1974 to 13,000 cases and 41 deaths in 1979. In Sweden, the annual incidence rate of pertussis per 100,000 children 0-6 years of age increased from 700 cases in 1981 to 3,200 in 1985. It seems clear from these experiences that not only would diseases not be disappearing without vaccines, but if we were to stop vaccinating, they would come back.

This of course has been proven true still today with the latest COVID19 news such as “Least Vaccinated States Lead Spike in Children’s Cases“.

Nearly 30,000 of them entered hospitals in August…overwhelming children’s hospitals and intensive care units in states like Louisiana and Texas.

Source: NYT

Some, however, think so primitively that when they hear that a specific and thoroughly researched vaccination mandate is legal, it opens the door for them to force US courts to also push a random experimental healthcare idea over the objections of healthcare experts.

And perhaps unsurprisingly it has no legal basis.

…precedent rejecting some sort of constitutional right to ‘medical’ use of unproven treatments goes back a long time…

…patients have no legal basis to go to court to force unwilling health care providers either to participate in an off-label use they do not believe is therapeutic, or to force hospitals tolerate such a use in their facilities.

So in summary, healthcare experts in the US can legally mandate vaccines in order to preserve “real liberty”. On the flip side, healthcare experts can not be forced by courts against their will to experiment on patients.

A vaccination mandate is totally constitutional and ordinary for America, definitely NOT something unconstitutional.

With all that said, who in the US is refusing vaccination and forcing predictable mistakes like “Great Britain, Sweden, and Japan… because of fear about the vaccine”?

Here are some of the latest numbers in America on that note:

  • 86% Democrats are vaccinated (5% say they will never)
  • 64% Republicans are vaccinated (42% in December 2020 said they will never, dropping to just 20% in the latest polling, thus 22% moved in six months from saying never to being vaccinated)
  • 18% Men say they will never
  • 10% Women say they will never
  • 44% White evangelical protestants are not vaccinated (24% say they will never)
  • 20% Hispanic catholics are not vaccinated
  • 15% Jews are not vaccinated
  • 37% Agriculture workers say never
  • 12% Tech workers say never

Or, from the same source, to put it another way…

Viewers who tune in to Fox News Channel at least once a month report the highest rates of vaccine refusal and the lowest level of vaccine uptake (59%) of all outlets polled…

With that in mind, the U.S. federal government has the authority for isolation and quarantine under the Commerce Clause of… wait for it… the Constitution.

Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264) authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to prevent entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into and between U.S. states.

These functions are delegated in terms of a daily basis to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And now for another blast from the past to put it all in perspective:

Source: Douglas Island News (Douglas, Alaska) 15 Nov 1918.

Update September 23: “Federal Court: Anti-Vaxxers Do Not Have a Constitutional or Statutory Right to Endanger Everyone Else”

How to Teach War History in the Classroom

When I was a student in history, it seemed like everything we studied was war.

Dates were “important” because they related to some military event. Technology was “interesting” because it killed people.

I even spoke about this issue a bit in the origin story for this blog.

Poems always fascinated him because they present a unique window into the thoughts and feelings of our predecessors who faced important social challenges. Much of history is taught with an emphasis solely on military events — who fought, who won and why — which Davi found to obscure much of the more fundamental day-by-day decisions and lessons distilled into poetry by people of that period.

Indeed, poetry can be essential to understanding human conflict, especially influence campaigns, as I recently wrote about Afghanistan.

Oops, see what I mean? Even poetry is about war.

Fast forward to today and a new article in War on the Rocks suggests a shift towards more systemic thinking — more cognition for placing war in context of society — is being put on the table by military historians.

This integration of battlefield events with the social, cultural, ideological, and technological forces that often trigger and perpetuate war is just what the Society for Military History has called for. In November 2014, two of the best scholars in the business, Robert Citino and Tami Davis Biddle, authored a lucid and compelling statement about the importance of teaching the history of war — in all its various dimensions. “Perhaps the best way for military historians to make their case to the broader profession,” they wrote, “is to highlight the range, diversity, and breadth of the recent scholarship in military history, as well as the dramatic evolution of the field in recent decades.” A broadly based and scholarly approach to the teaching of war, they added, “puts big strategic decisions about war and peace into context; it draws linkages and contrasts between a nation’s socio-political culture and its military culture; it helps illuminate ways in which a polity’s public and national narrative is shaped over time. All this gives the field relevance, and, indeed, urgency, inside the classroom.”

The article is great in its entirety, not least of all because it also smacks down some nonsense claims about a decline in teaching about war.

Basic analysis proves such claims wrong.

And let’s be honest, if more people realized learning history gives you an excellent grasp of analysis they probably wouldn’t have to be sold on the benefits of learning about war.

Suggestions for US Military Naming Commission

Obviously the US isn’t going to name a federal building in Oklahoma after Timothy McVeigh, nor is it going to name a sky scraper in NYC after Osama bin Laden. My how times have changed!

Not so very long ago American military bases and ships were attacked viciously using information warfare tactics and conspicuously named for those who wanted America to be destroyed.

Even more to the point, history had been systematically erased through the process of gifting honors to immoral and disgraceful enemies of the state (rather than heroes and role models who served to protect America from its enemies).

Now a Naming Commission is taking suggestions for how to remove these attacks on American identity, undo obvious damage to morale, and reverse the systemic erasure of history.

The Naming Commission has the important role of recommending names that exemplify our U.S. military and national values. We are determined to gain feedback and insight from every concerned citizen to ensure the best names are recommended. To accomplish this monumental task, we are engaging with local, city, state and federal leaders and communities. We also encourage all interested citizens to submit naming recommendations…

Here is a quick list of suggestions to help get things rolling:

  • USS Chancellorsville –> Captain Donnie Cochran

    First African American Blue Angels commanding officer

  • Fort Bragg –> Captain Silas S. Soule

    In September 1864, Soule and his commanding officer, Major Edward Wynkoop, participated in the Smoky Hill peace talks with Cheyenne and Arapaho Peace Chiefs. Later, he traveled with Wynkoop and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Chiefs to Denver for a meeting at Camp Weld with Governor and ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs John Evans and Chivington. Soule’s presence at both of these important peace meetings reinforced the decisions he made at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864, when he showed extraordinary courage in refusing to participate in the massacre of the peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho. During the attack, Soule and his company of soldiers refused to fight and in the days following the massacre, Soule wrote the chilling and explicit letter [documenting crimes and] one of the first to testify against Chivington during the Army’s investigation in January 1865.

  • Fort Benning –> Gen. Oliver W. Dillard

    Graduate of Fort Benning, Commanding General United States Army having served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Fifth African American flag officer in Army, first black intelligence general, National Intelligence Hall of Fame. Distinguished Service Medal (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Silver Star, Legion of Merit (2 Oak Leaf Cluster), Bronze Star (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Good Conduct Medal, and Combat Infantryman Badge (2nd Award).

  • Fort Lee –> President Ulysses Grant
  • “The mere act of breaking the negro’s chains was the act of Abraham Lincoln…. But the act by which the negro was made a citizen of the United States and invested with the elective franchise was pre-eminently the act of President Grant” — Frederick Douglas, 1876

  • Fort Hood –> Lee Roy Young Jr

    The first Black law enforcement officer to serve as a Texas Ranger in the agency’s 165-year history. His great-grandfather was a Black Seminole and fought in three Seminole Indian wars (the largest slave rebellion in American history). From the small town of Del Rio as a child he decided he wanted to be a Ranger. He joined the Navy and served four years during the Vietnam War. After serving he earned a college degree from the University of Texas and began his law enforcement work, eventually working as a trooper and criminal investigator. In 1985, he took up the challenge of trying to become a Ranger. Three years later he was accepted and began investigating some of the state’s most notorious crimes. After retiring in 2003, Young opened his own private investigation agency.

  • Fort Pickett –> Army Col. Ruby Bradley

    Army’s most highly decorated nurse. As a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, she was the third woman in Army history to be promoted to the rank of Colonel. She earned 34 medals for her service during World War II and the Korean War.

  • Fort Rucker –> Lieutenant Willa Brown
  • Willa became a founding member of the National Airmen’s Association of America (NAAA), the first Black aviators’ group. She served as the national secretary and president of the Chicago branch of the NAAA, whose main objective was to pursue the participation of African Americans in aviation and aeronautics, as well as bringing African Americans into the armed forces. The work of both the school and the NAAA gained traction with the onset of World War II, as a serious shortage of experienced pilots made headlines across the country. A 1939 Time Magazine article on the topic mentions Willa and the NAAA, giving a national platform for their proposed solution to the problem: train African American men to become pilots! Willa advocated tirelessly for desegregation in the military, and her school finally became part of the government-funded CPTP, the Civilian Pilot Training Program (later the WTS, War Training Service Program), established to provide the country with enough experienced aviators to improve military preparedness. It allowed for participation of African Americans on a “separate-but-equal” basis. Willa was named federal coordinator for the CPTP in Chicago and, while the Coffrey School was not allowed to train pilots for the Army, it was chosen to provide African American trainees for the pilot training program at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. This program led to the creation of the famed Tuskegee Airmen and Willa was directly responsible for training over 200 future Tuskegee Airmen and instructors.

  • USNS Maury –> Ensign Jane Kendeigh
  • First naval flight nurse to fly evacuation mission to an active combat zone (Okinawa) she also served at Iwo Jima helping to evacuate 2,393 Marines and sailors. Of the 1,176,048 total of military patients evacuated in these dangerous flights during war, only 46 died en route.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Charles Calvin Rogers

    Known as a leader who led from the front, Rogers went where the action was most intense, rallying troops and personally directing and redirecting the howitzer fire. He ran from position to position, even assuming a place on one fire team that had been diminished by casualties; engaged in close-range firefights; and was wounded multiple times during the three assaults. After being wounded so seriously that he could no longer fight himself, he continued calling encouragement and reassurance to his troops. Due in no small part to his courageous leadership, 1st Battalion prevailed and the NVA force was repelled. On May 14, 1970, President Richard Nixon bestowed the Medal of Honor on LTC Charles Rogers, making him the highest-ranking Black soldier to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor. Rogers continued his service and rose to the rank of Major General, making him the highest-ranking Black Medal of Honor recipient. He worked diligently for race and gender equality in the military before he retired from the Army in 1984, after 32 years of service

Robert Carter’s 1791 Blueprint for American Abolition of Slavery

A man well known to Washington and Jefferson, Robert Carter III, freed all his own slaves while those two “great men” dithered and did nothing of the kind.

Chattel slavery was wrong, the men said, but they supposedly worried it was not practical to abolish the institution without societal and economic consequences.
“As it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other,” Jefferson wrote a fellow politician almost 30 years after Carter’s deed of gift.
Yet Carter had provided them a blueprint, not only for freeing their slaves but for ensuring the freedmen could sustain themselves, even prosper and integrate into society.

Again, this man was no stranger to the Americans expanding and preserving slavery; he showed them true leadership and removed their excuses for tyranny.

He counted Washington’s half-brother, Lawrence, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson as friends; he regularly dined with and loaned money to the latter. Washington himself was a neighbor, and Robert E. Lee’s mother was the great granddaughter of his grandfather, Robert “King” Carter.

And again, we’re talking about 1791 when he went all in on abolition.

Carter also allowed the freedmen to choose their last names so they could keep families together and pass down wealth. He ensured they had salable skills, arranged for them to buy or lease land, and bought their wares. He also spent a great deal on transporting them from his plantations to the Northumberland courthouse, and on lawyers to guarantee his heirs — some none too happy he was paring their inheritance — didn’t undo his wishes.
“Carter’s plans look more like a pilot for mass emancipation,” Andrew Levy, a professor at Butler University, told CNN.

Technically it was 55 years after Britain had abolished slavery in their 1735 regulation for colonization of Georgia, and 15 years after the independent agrarian state of Vermont had declared its abolition.

Even more to the point it came after the Stono rebellion of 1739, where whites were ordered to carry guns while denying blacks the same right (to prevent blacks from achieving liberty). White colonials of South Carolina then wrote a law ordering blacks in America no longer “grow their own food, assemble in groups, earn their own money, or learn to read”.

Carter wasn’t early in abolition, he was late, but he stands out as a man who proves the high degree of hypocrisy in Washington and Jefferson.

Of all the reasons Americans do not teach about Carter in history classes, the following two are very compelling.

…the manumission was so deeply unpopular — neighbors complained, and one threatened to torch Carter’s home — it didn’t compel much documentation. A brief in a Richmond newspaper constitutes the bulk of the coverage.
Levy, whose books include a biography of Carter, “The First Emancipator,” has another suspicion: America doesn’t care — because it’s inconvenient.
“It blows an enormous hole in this legacy we’re trying to balance for these founders,” he said.

It does blow an enormous hole in the narratives told about Washington and Jefferson. As I often say, people like to say Washington died because of bad weather while he sat on his horse watching his slaves… yet nobody ever mentions what happened to those slaves he was keeping in that same weather.

Nazi Germany chose Zyklon-B for genocide based on prior American use to “disinfect” Mexicans

Weird. An important BBC story about racist use of Zyklon-B on Mexicans by the Americans… doesn’t seem to be reported in English anywhere. Crucial quote:

No hay que comparar peras con manzanas, pero el Holocausto no fue un hecho aislado y la frontera entre EE.UU. y México sirvió como un centro de experimentación importante de esas ideas.

Basic translation: while the racist act of America spraying Mexicans with cyanide is not the same as genocide by the Nazis, one apparently served as an example for the other.

Let’s go back to 1924 to begin this story, because that was when America invented a gas chamber specifically to kill people using cyanide.

Washington, Arizona, and Oregon in 1919-20 reinstated the death penalty. In 1924, the first execution by cyanide gas took place in Nevada… a special ‘gas chamber’ was hastily built.

In other words a gas chamber for death already had been established as an American thing by the time widespread application of cyanide (Zyklon-B) became a racist story about Mexicans.

It all came about in the 1920s after Woodrow Wilson infamously set the stage for industrialized/systemic discrimination with his “America First” platform of 1915 that restarted the KKK and removed non-white races from government.

The documents show that beginning in the 1920s, U.S. officials at the Santa Fe Bridge deloused and sprayed the clothes of Mexicans crossing into the U.S. with Zyklon B. The fumigation was carried out in an area of the building that American officials called, ominously enough, “the gas chambers.”

To be clear here this was a federally funded system constructed using garbage theory (eugenics) and false pretense (Typhus was cited, even though not a risk) to poison and even burn to death people en masse, just based on race alone.

Source: Vox

No wonder by the 1930s that Nazi Germany believed they could get away with doing the same things. A German scientific journal article was published in 1928, written by a Dr. Gerhard Peters that…

…specifically praised the El Paso method of fumigating Mexican immigrants with Zyklon B.

When you see the article, full of photos and drawings of American railroad cars pushing Mexicans into gas chambers, it’s hard not to think you are looking at images from Auschwitz two decades later.

Source: The Texas Observer

Indeed, Dr. Peters then became the managing director of Degesch, one of two firms that mass-produced Zyklon-B for Nazi genocide.

At least 25 tons of Zyklon B were delivered to Auschwitz in the years 1942–1944. According to postwar testimony by Rudolf Höss, it took from five to seven kilograms…to murder fifteen hundred people.

In case these clear connections to death chambers aren’t disturbing enough; Americans also held Mexicans at gunpoint and forced them to strip naked, then cover themselves in a highly flammable kerosene bath.

In retrospect it seems obvious a fire in a “holding cell” with closed doors would then burn everyone to death as if an oven. On March 5, 1916 such an event was literally reported in the papers as… wait for it… El Holocausto.

Source: “When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed”, by Howard Markel, page 128

Dousing groups of Mexicans with kerosene and then burning them was also a topic of discussion for Americans on March 10, 1916 after the Battle of Columbus. Over 60 dead men were piled together, their bodies incinerated.

Keep in mind this all was in the context of Americans a year earlier calling for the “extermination” of non-whites, which led to killing thousands of Americans who were of Mexican descent:

While a mob’s stated reason [under Woodrow Wilson] for lynching black victims tended to be an accusation of sexual violence, for Mexicans in the United States, the reason given was often retaliation for murder or a crime against property: robbery, or what was sometimes called “banditry.” […] “The war of extermination will be carried on until every man known to have been involved with the uprising will have been wiped out.”

America was involved in a 1915 “war of extermination”, coupled with Zyklon-B gas chambers and even ovens burning groups of people in what was called a holocaust.

No wonder the BBC ran an article that reported plainly in Spanish…

México sirvió como un centro de experimentación importante de esas ideas.

Now, why can’t I find an English version of the story?

It reminds me of this old leaflet by extremist militant white insecurity groups in America informing their followers they can carry out atrocities of a Nazi (Villain) yet remain undetected simply by appearing like a Texas Ranger (Soldier).

Source: The W. Cleon Skousen manual for anti-American white militias, a precursor to Glenn Beck’s tea party dogma

Here’s a related video by Vox on the history of Carmelita Torres (the “Latina Rosa Parks“) who was murdered by American border officers in 1918 for protesting abuse by them:

For women there was also sexual humiliation. There were rumors that when they entered the plant and told to strip, officers were taking their photos and then posting them in bars.

Amalrik’s Recipe for Great Power Decline

Here are the four drivers cited in the 2020 Foreign Affairs article “How a Great Power Falls Apart: Decline Is Invisible From the Inside”.

Amalrik identified four drivers of this process. One was the “moral weariness” engendered by an expansionist, interventionist foreign policy and the never-ending warfare that ensued. Another was the economic hardship that a prolonged military conflict—in Amalrik’s imagination, a coming Soviet-Chinese war—would produce. A third was the fact that the government would grow increasingly intolerant of public expressions of discontent and violently suppress “sporadic eruptions of popular dissatisfaction, or local riots.” These crackdowns were likely to be especially brutal, he argued, when the suppressors—police or internal security troops—were “of a nationality other than that of the population that is rioting,” which would in turn “sharpen enmities among the nationalities.”

It was a fourth tendency, however, that would spell the real end of the Soviet Union: the calculation, by some significant portion of the political elite, that it could best guarantee its own future by jettisoning its relationship to the national capital. Amalrik supposed that this might occur among Soviet ethnic minorities, “first in the Baltic area, the Caucasus and the Ukraine, then in Central Asia and along the Volga”—a sequence that turned out to be exactly correct. His more general point was that in times of severe crisis, institutional elites face a decision point. Do they cling to the system that gives them power or recast themselves as visionaries who understand that the ship is sinking?

It is hard not to think of this in context of my new book, where I propose a bifurcation of all information systems security into either “easy, routine, minimal judgment” (ERM) or “identify, store, evaluate, adapt” (ISEA).

The TL;DR of the article is really this:

A better way to think about political cleavages was to observe which portions of society are most threatened by change and which ones seek to hasten it—and then to imagine how states might manage the differences between the two.

And so the struggle is what to do with such cleavage as it naturally occurs within big data systems.