Tonight, the Cave of the Moonbat once again looks out over the desert shores of North Africa, to a land we’ve all been seeing in the news quite a bit recently, but probably know uncomfortably little about. We ought to, though – Libya was the site of the American military's first overseas victory, among other things – if for no other reason than to come to a deeper understanding of the Marine Corps Hymn.
Join me, if you will, atop one those rugged hills outside Tripoli. We'll see if we can't get ourselves a good view of some Fatamid zealots, Barbary Pirates, and maybe – if we're lucky – one of those newfangled frigates of President Jefferson's U.S. Navy.
Some lands are so ancient, it's like they're forever new. Libya's like that – from Neolithic times before the dawn of history, down through Egyptians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, and Muslims, the ancient peoples of Libya's coasts and deserts assimilated new ideas and made tradeworthy accommodation (eventually) with all comers. The political entity we think of as a somewhat-misshapen box on Africa's Mediterranean shore only came into existence in 1951; prior to that, Libya had, like so many other lands in regions of overlapping imperial interests, changed hands many times as the powerful waxed and waned.
Join me, if you will, in the Cave of the Moonbat, where tonight we'll look at some of the Libya-attacking that went on the ancient lands of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan. Consider it a prelude to the other three diaries in this series, which concern themselves with Libya-attacking in the Middle Ages, in the World Wars, and in the modern era. Don't worry, though – it'll be a couple of thousand years before we have to start worrying about Nazi tanks – so grab your trusty saif, mount up your camel, and meet me at the nearest oasis.
There's been a lot of talk about Community Spotlight in the short week or so since the Great Changeover – what is it, who are the people who get to decide what goes in it, and, perhaps most importantly, what is the effect of getting one's diary on it?
Ranger and DKos old-timer claude has already posted The Rescue Rangers welcome Kossaks back to Daily Kos, and just today, grog crunched some numbers and showed us just how effective CS has been in highlighting great writers in The Community Spotlight Effect; now I'd like to contribute a bit of history, by posting an updated and revised version of History for Kossacks: SusanG's Rescue Rangers, which I initially put up almost four years ago.
So join me, if you will, in the Cave of the Moonbat, where tonight we'll do a little navel-gazing while we close the book on the now-venerable Open Thread and Diary Rescue, and make way for its mightier successor – the new Community Spotlight.
And so it came to pass that the King came into the plaza and announced he had found a new valley in which the people would dwell. He had seen the new place – the Fourth Valley – in a vision, he told the crowd, and had quietly brought engineers and builders there some time before. After they had been hard at work for a while, he began inviting a small group of Orange Guards to visit the Fourth Valley site and make suggestions to the builders. Finally, when all was near readiness, he told the people of the Grand Plaza, and bade them visit the new home he had prepared for them.
Some liked the new valley, some didn't, but the King made it clear that that's where the community would be moving. Because the current valley had been so good to him, the Moonbat climbed up to Passionate Heights and sat on the very edge of GBCW Point to have one last look around the old place.
Thirty-six Presidents into the future, how will Barack Obama be viewed? Put another way, when another 175 years of history that needs to be crammed into the same-sized textbook reduces his presidency to a few paragraphs, what will be their theses?
Will the context of the Great Recession be discussed, or will it be described generically as a "periodic downturn" that is to be comprehended with the digestion of a sentence or two? Will our president's reasoning regarding ongoing human rights abuses be considered, or will such atrocities be lumped into an overall pattern of moral depravity characteristic of this period in American history? Will people as far removed from us in time as we are from Martin Van Buren understand the complexities of how people of our time perceived race?
Join me, if you will, in the Cave of the Moonbat, where tonight we'll use computers to talk about the presidency during which the telegraph was invented. We may also find that though the men themselves share little in common, the political circumstances in which they found themselves certainly did.
A president takes control at a time when the national economy is imploding, and will find his ambitions for the remainder of his term thwarted by a devastating long-term depression. He is saddled with a perceived obligation to carry out the grotesque violations of human rights begun by his predecessor. His own party is divided, and a recently-galvanized opposition had formed around ideas no grander than the destruction of everything for which he stands.
Join me, if you will, in the Cave of the Moonbat, where tonight we'll look at the pre-presidential political life of Martin Van Buren – a brilliant lawyer and organizer who rose through the ranks with smiles and grace, only to be dealt a real crappy hand and shouldered with a pretty lousy historical legacy. I'm not saying 1837 is a whole lot like the present day, but then again...
Among the mouth-breathingest of mouth-breathing Republicans, it's a well-known fact that every November or so, we libruls gather in our covens and plot the paganization of Christmas. In their Left Behind-style fantasies, we are the legions of Satan, come upon the Earth to foist secular ideas and Godless traditions upon the flock of the Lamb. Only the Bible stands in defense of the faithful against the pernicious attacks of the heathen First Amendment, as we the befouled seek to eradicate every trace of monotheism from our once-God-fearing civilization. Each year, the scarred veterans of the (self-)Right(eous) stir their zealots to action, and in public squares and mangers throughout the land, battles over the soul of American culture are waged.
As in all wars, sometimes an enemy's gallantry on the field of battle impresses even a bitter foe – Napoleon, remarking on the Russian cavalry then crashing into his lines, said "Now these are Kossacks!". Rather like the Confederates at Pickett's Charge, they may be trying to storm a solid position in the name of a dubious set of causes, but we have to respect the temerity it takes to throw oneself into the breach for an issue one really doesn't understand.
I don't know why I do it, but sometimes it just seems to happen – I'll be surfing around aimlessly, then suddenly find my browser opened up to FreeRepublic.com, the Internet's skeezy carnival of teabaggery and idiocracy. It happened again last night, but this time, unlike the usual lurk-through, this reconnaissance actually paid off: I chanced across a revealing Neandercon discussion about the circumstances surrounding the birth of the GOP's newly-anointed Golden Child.
Nobody's denying that Marco Rubio is a citizen under the 14th Amendment, and nobody's saying that his hard-working father, who recently passed on, was worthy of anything less than the elegiac lionization he received. What the far right has been doing, however, is twisting itself into rhetorical knots trying to explain how the offspring of two parents who don't seem to have ever become US citizens is a different legal entity (for presidential-eligibility purposes) from a child born in the US to a citizen and a non-citizen.
Perhaps, in the course of your own environmental evangelizing, you've come upon the term (i.e. you've been called) a "Luddite." Usually the accuser intends to frame (!) you as a John McCain type – elderly folks still mystified by the electric typewriter, with "12:00" blinking perpetually on their VCRs – or the hard-core back-to-the-Earth sorts, who bristle at any device with moving parts. As usual, the actual history is far more complex: these "frame-breakers" of early 19th-century England were not a variant on Amish farmers given over to vandalism, but rather the product of a complicated confluence of occurrences involving everything from newfangled labor-saving machines to the Napoleonic Wars.
Join me, if you will, in the Cave of the Moonbat, where tonight we'll take a look inside the changing marketplace at the dawn of the 1800s – and at a group of folks who tried to plow the sea by attempting to arrest the flow of history.
I'm not normally one to rant – among the scores of diaries I've posted over the course of the past four years, only a handful are of the "screed" variety. The sort of diaries I usually do don't lend themselves to soapbox-style indignation – there's not much to be gained, legislatively or electorally speaking, from a knock-down, drag-out flame war over, say, assigning blame for the outbreak of the First World War.
Yet, as I've often stated, sometimes the worst thing about being an historian is that one often has a pretty good idea of what's coming next, decline-and-fall-of-civilizationwise. Certain patterns are discernable, and seem to play out each time a civ rises to a leadership role in human development or the exercise of might – and none has ever shown itself immune to the degrading effects of time. Since often an understanding of the events of the past can inform the shape of responses in the present, it's here that this historian perceives a role for an historical rant.
It doesn't happen often, but every now and again, the mechanisms of the Free Market (peace and blessing be upon it) fail, and a private enterprise screws up so royally that governments are forced to intervene on behalf of the common good. We may well be standing witness to such an event – only time will tell if the BP Blowout will be the sort of watershed event that results in a near-complete realignment of political order, at least in its realm of enterprise.
The experience of the British East India Company certainly fits the parameters, and like BP, its proprietors should have been well aware of the potential for disaster within its ranks and holdings. Also like BP, the East India Company misread its mandates, badly bungled the response, and whined like Holy Hell when the Queen told Company leaders that she'd had enough of their crap.
Join me, if you will, in the Cave of the Moonbat, where tonight we'll set the stage for a scene of long-running corporation-caused death, devastation, and uncertainty – and no, I don't mean the Gulf coast.
Let's face facts: our military is broken. It's just not destroying stuff at the rate it used to. Despite simultaneous, neverending wars, too many servicemembers are shuffling through their hitches, rarely or never firing a weapon after Basic Training, not blowing up a single village or killing a single person, never laying waste to so much as a goat pen.
What we need is REFORM! We've got to change the way the military does business, get rid of the entrenched interests, and send our lower enlisted personnel back to the job of helping other folks die for their countries.
REFORM OUR MILITARY NOW!!! We need MERIT PAY for soldiers! We need to GET RID OF SENIORITY so that our officers are always motivated to do their best! We need to STRIP THE PROFESSIONALS WHO SERVE US OF ANY AND ALL DIGNITY, because very important research has shown that they're the reason our armed forces have fallen so far behind!
Follow me over the cliff for even more MILITARY REFORM (that's not REALLY A METAPHOR for what's happening in EDUCATION)!