Archive for the ‘history’ Category

In a word: No.

The Afghans didn’t so much “kick out” the Soviets as the Soviets decided to declare victory and go home, much like the United States did in Vietnam a decade prior. The change in leadership in Moscow from Brezhnev through a couple of place holders to Gorbachev removed any support for the war from the top leadership (well, the top generals in the Kremlin still supported the war but Gorbachev overruled them). Gorbachev viewed Afghanistan as a distraction from his goal of reforming the Soviet Union’s crumbling economy into something capable of being competitive with the West. So as the Americans did in Vietnam a decade prior, Gorbachev found some Afghan patsies willing to provide the cannon fodder on the ground, paid them off to support the Soviet Union rather than the United States, and brought his troops home.

And honestly, that strategy worked. As long as the Soviets kept the money and military supplies flowing to “their” militias in Afghanistan, the “Communist” government in Kabul stayed in power. It was not until the final collapse of the Soviet Union that the militias, seeing their Soviet funding dry up, turned on the “Communist” government and kicked it out and then Afghanistan descended into the long civil war of militias fighting each other that ended up with the Taliban sweeping in from Pakistan and, thanks to everybody being totally PO’ed with the militias, taking over most of the country to the utter relief of virtually everyone in the country who was tired of all the fighting and just wanted peace. Yeah, the Taliban were nasty people who imposed medieval laws. But at least they weren’t blowing things up and killing people at random like the militias had been doing. It was a peace enforced by nasty people, but at least it was peace.

Well, peace until October 7 2001, anyhow, when the militias, renamed the “Northern Alliance” and now paid by the Americans rather than the Soviets and with American air support and American special forces “spotters” on the ground to mark targets for the air support, were re-tasked with driving out the Taliban so that Osama bin Laden could be captured and brought to trial. But that’s another story for another day.

– Badtux the History Penguin

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Define “win”. If by “win” you mean a free and independent South Vietnam that did not rely on massive US forces and airpower in order to maintain its independence, South Vietnam never had a government that had broad popular support from the majority of its population. The South Vietnamese elites were French-influenced (I’ve encountered many of those former elites here in the United States, all are fluent in French) and predominantly Catholic. The general population of South Vietnam was predominantly Buddhist and viewed the French-speaking South Vietnamese elites as more alien than the North Vietnamese. The elites similarly viewed the majority Buddhist population as basically country bumpkins who weren’t qualified to have a say in the government.

Given that, it seems unlikely that South Vietnam could have ever developed a national culture that would allow it to resist North Vietnamese incursions without direct US involvement. The elites weren’t willing to enroll the “country bumpkins” in the goal of creating an independent nation other than as cannon fodder, and the “country bumpkins” weren’t that motivated by being cannon fodder. Also the elites were corrupt, viewing their first allegiance as being to their social class rather than to the nation as a whole. Thus you had situations where entire ARVN companies existed only on paper while the elite officer who was in charge pocketed their payroll money. Money for buying bombs and bullets was also similarly being siphoned off to enrich the elites, with many munitions existing only on paper with the money instead ending up in the pockets of elite officers. The ARVN consequently was starved of both men and munitions, to the point where ARVN soldiers had to ration bullets.

Add in the fact that South Vietnam had basically no natural resources other than lots of rice, and no way of paying for bombs and bullets on its own. It would have always been dependent upon U.S. aid for those things. Then there’s the simple fact that their population was less than that of North Vietnam. They would run out of soldiers well before North Vietnam ran out of soldiers.

Furthermore, the overall geography of the area, far different from that of Korea, made such a thing difficult. I notice that there’s a number of people here who talk about the “Viet Cong” as if they remained a fighting force after the Tet Offensive. No. All of the fighting after that was done by regular infantry of the NVA. South Vietnam was not overthrown from within, it was overthrown by an invasion by North Vietnamese tanks and infantry. There was continual warfare in South Vietnam after Tet, but it was because it was impossible to seal off South Vietnam’s borders. Vietnam is a long skinny nation that hugs the ocean, and to properly secure that border would have required more soldiers than anybody was willing to send to Vietnam. So North Vietnamese units were continually sneaking around through the jungles of Laos and Cambodia into South Vietnam to the point where entire divisions of NVA were operating within South Vietnam having infiltrated piecemeal at night over the course of an entire rainy season where South Vietnam’s F-5 fighter-bombers were largely grounded due to inability to operate at night or in bad weather.

Okay, so it’s impossible to keep the NVA out of South Vietnam. The solution then seems to be to destroy the NVA. The only way to do that is to invade North Vietnam. The US actually started massing troops at the border between North and South Vietnam in order to do that. In response, the Soviet Union then started massing troops at the border between East and West Germany. It was well known at the time that the Army in West Germany was basically the worst of the worst, it was where the Army’s goofups and dregs were sent, so the chances of holding off a Soviet invasion were dim. West Germany was a lot more valuable than South Vietnam. Oops. Not gonna invade North Vietnam.

Nuke North Vietnam? The Soviets promised to nuke South Vietnam. Oops. A free and independent glow in the dark nuclear wasteland wasn’t the goal, so that’s out too.

Well, South Vietnam can’t defend itself, so let’s put enough troops into South Vietnam to secure its borders. It’d only take a couple of million troops. Military spending peaked at nearly 10% of GDP in 1968, when we had around 536,000 soldiers in South Vietnam. So figure four times that. Oops, that would have us spending 40% of our GDP defending what’s basically just a bunch of jungle and rice paddies. The reality is that the US economy was groaning under even the weight of nearly 10% of GDP spent on defense, spending 40% wasn’t gonna happen.

Basically, there was just no way, given these realities, to have anything more than an ugly stalemate in South Vietnam where U.S. troops were constantly playing whack-a-mole with infiltrated North Vietnamese troops. And doing that was enormously expensive and honestly, what you’ve managed to do at the end of all this is to secure a bunch of jungle and rice paddies. In the end it just wasn’t worth it to the United States to continue to pay what would be trillions of dollars in today’s money to defend a bunch of jungle and rice paddies, so in the end South Vietnam was doomed.

So anyhow, despite right-wing assholes continuing to whine that Jane Fonda lost the Vietnam War, there was no “there” there. Anybody who looked at a map in 1963 could have seen this. So why did the United States go in there in the first place? Well, it was because of a) LBJ’s ego, and b) a bizarre theory called the “Domino Theory” that said if we let the Communists take over some worthless jungle and rice paddies, soon they’d be taking over places that *really* counted, like the countries where we got the natural resources to feed our war machine. It was a bullshit theory in the first place, as the fall of the former French Indochina proved (the Communists didn’t then go on to take over any otehr nations in the area). But the reality was that there was no “there” there, and devoting what would be trillions of dollars to defending a bunch of jungle and rice paddies was as insane as spending trillions of dollars defending a bunch of opium poppies and goats in Afghanistan. In the end there are no US interests served in doing so, and we had no business being there.

Badtux the Realist Penguin

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Who here remembers Checker Motor Company cabs? These were taxi cabs built 1950’s style all the way until 1980. They were *HUGE* inside. Like, a 7 footer would have had no problem in those back seats, there was literally four feet of room between the front of the back seat cushion and the back of the front seat! And the trunk held a whole family of Mafia victims.

They weren’t luxury vehicles by any means. They had washable interiors with vinyl seats and mostly-metal finishings. They predated state-down design, the floor was flat from doorsill to doorsill, and was covered by a rubber floor liner rather than carpet so that the taxi driver could use a water hose to clean out vomit from taking drunks home.

What finally did them in was that the stampings wore out and at around 8,000 cars per year, it wasn’t worth paying for new stampings. Add in the difficulties they were having getting emissions-compliant drive trains, they had been buying the Chevrolet 350 smallblock and matching transmission from GM, but GM discontinued it in all their passenger cars and the truck version of the engine was only certified for pickup trucks, which had more lenient emisisons standards back then. Clearly they weren’t going to develop their own drivetrain for just 8,000 cars per year. They looked at developing a specialized taxi cab version of GM’s then-new front wheel drive cars, maybe a stretched version of it, but in the end decided it just wasn’t worth the investment given the relatively small taxi market of around 8,000 cars per year, and quit making cars altogether. Checker Motor Company continued existing as a supplier making stampings for GM and Chrysler until 2008, when it went bankrupt when Chrysler and GM quit paying their bills, and the assets ended up sold off to the highest bidder, but they never again considered making taxi cabs during all that time.

So that’s why you end up with a Prius if you catch a taxi at the airport, and why Uber and Lyft have taken so much of the business away from the old taxi cab companies. There’s no longer anything special about a taxi cab — it’s just a car like any other car. If that’s the case, why go through the inconvenience of calling for a taxi and *maybe* one will arrive at some point in time, when you can instead use your Lyft or Uber app and *know* where your car is as it comes to you? The taxi industry in the end made the decision to rely on government protectionism rather than service to justify its existence, and reaped the consequences.

– Badtux the Reminiscing Penguin

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What is the militia, anyhow?

Since 1916, “the militia”, as referenced by the Constitution in Article 1 Clauses 15 and 16 of the Constitution, has been defined as “every military-age male in the country” due to the National Defense Act of 1916. But: How did that happen, and why?

First of all, let’s discard the notion that this had anything to do with the Founding Fathers. It didn’t. George Washington had a dim opinion of militia. They had been virtually useless during the American Revolution, his well-trained and equipped Continental Army had done pretty much all of the fighting that had bled the British treasury dry, all the militia managed to do most of the time was get in the way of the regular soldiers because they ran the first time someone fired a shot at them, and rarely would march more than fifty miles from their home to meet the British. A militia that’s unwilling to concentrate together in order to inflict pain upon the enemy is a militia that’s useless, and that’s what George Washington’s opinion of the militia was — that they were useless.

The anti-Federalists, however, were intent upon making sure that the new nation wouldn’t have a big military capable of imposing military rule upon the nation, so Washington’s friend Alexander Hamilton proposed a professionalization of the militia in Federalist #29, and made sure that the militia clauses to implement that were in the new Constitution. Hamilton most specifically said that the militia was not the entire mass of men, but, rather, was a well trained and equipped subset of the manpower of a state, because untrained militia were rabble and useless, while it’d cost too much to train every man in a state. Hamilton’s proposal to the anti-Federalists was, okay, you don’t want a big U.S. Army, so we’ll have a small U.S. Army that’s just a core of a military, and then the state militias will be the main military of the United States. If the central government tried to impose tyranny the state militias could stop it, and if one state’s militia tried to impose tyranny within that one state, the militias of the surrounding states would be strong enough to invade and put down the tyranny.

It was a neat system, if it had worked. In the event, the central government never provided the funding and weapons to bring the state militias up to professional standards, and this proved to be disastrous during the War of 1812, when militias led by the professional core of the U.S. Army performed so poorly that for a while it seemed that the British were going to be able to re-conquer the United States altogether. Andrew Jackson’s victory at New Orleans was pretty much the only U.S. victory against a British field army during the war. British attempts to raid Baltimore and New York were repulsed but Washington D.C. was burned. Meanwhile, multiple attempts to invade Canada by the poorly organized U.S. military forces failed disastrously. If the British hadn’t been stretched by the costs of defeating Napoleon, things could have gotten dire — the army that defeated Napoleon was, in the final days of the war, mustering in Canada to do an invasion of the United States.

After the War of 1812, the notion of “the militia” as an alternative to a strong professional military was forever discredited. The Mexican-American War in 1848 was largely fought by the U.S. Army, or, rather, its core inflated with volunteers. And of course the American Civil War was entirely fought by professional armies under the command of their respective national governments.

The American Civil War ended with a Union victory and a flurry of anti-slavery amendments to the Constitution. The most important of these was the 13th Amendment, which prohibits slavery or involuntary servitude. In the years after the American Civil War that wasn’t much of a problem. The Indian Wars didn’t require a large number of soldiers, there was rarely more than 10,000 soldiers deployed to the West. The Spanish-American War similarly didn’t require huge amounts of troops — the decrepit Spanish Empire had only a handful of troops in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, and the decrepit Spanish Navy was totally incapable of dealing with the increasingly powerful U.S. Navy and thus unable to reinforce their troops even if they’d had the manpower and money to do so. The Filipino-American War and Moro War that followed never had more than 10,000 American troops in the field, well within the realm of what was easy to staff with volunteers. But then 1914 happened, and massive armies with millions of men started marching across Europe and engaging in battles with mass slaughter. The death tolls in some single battles of the Great War exceeded the size of the entire U.S. Army in 1916. And it was clear by then that the United States was going to end up being dragged into the war. The Germans were getting desperate and using their U-boats to try to blockade Britain, the biggest trading partner of the United States, and the U.S. public was not going to long tolerate them sinking U.S. ships. Yet the tiny U.S. Army clearly was incapable of contributing much to the war effort. It needed to be vastly expanded. And the only way to put the millions of men under arms was a draft.

Which was involuntary servitude.

Which was illegal under the 13th Amendment to the United States.

So the Democrats in Congress, and the President, passed the National Defense Act of 1916, which started the process of buying arms and equipment for this vastly expanded military, professionalizing and increasing the funding for the National Guard and bringing it up to national standards, and otherwise prepare the country for war. And oh yeah, that pesky 13th Amendment. Clause 15 says Congress can call up the militia for national service under the command of the Federal government. So if we define the militia as every single military age man in America… gosh, we can call them up for national service!

In other words, by doing this, the Federal government could use Clause 15 of Article 1 of the Constitution to draft soldiers even if a 13th Amendment argument was made and upheld by the Supreme Court. When a draft was actually imposed in 1917 and resulted in lawsuits, they never had to fall back on this, because the Supreme Court ruled that the power to raise armies granted in Article 1 Clauses 11, 12, 13, and 14 was sufficient to make the draft legal. But if the Supreme Court had ruled that the 13th Amendment outlawed the draft even so, then there was the additional power that the Federal government could have used — they could have federalized “the militia”, i.e., selected military-age males amongst the whole population of military-age males defined as “the militia”.

And that’s how that clause ended up in the National Defense Act of 1916 — it was an attempt to defend the power to draft armies, nothing more. It had nothing to do with the original intent of the Founding Fathers, who intended the various state militias to be a subset of the male population that was well trained and well armed by the Federal government, and in no way wanted an armed rabble. George Washington would have thrown his hat on the ground and cursed at you if you told him you wanted armed rabble as the militia — “they’re useless!” basically said. The founding fathers had plenty of experience with armed rabble to tell them it was a bad idea — even providing ammunition for the rabble proved an almost insurmountable task, they ended up having to give out blocks of lead to the militia because no two rifles or muskets took the same size bullets, the men had to cast their own bullets out of those blocks of lead. At least black powder was black powder, but the British system of “cartridges” (paper tubes of powder and a bullet) obviously wasn’t going to work because no two guns took the same size charge, meaning that the militia was always excruciatingly slow at reloading compared to professional soldiers armed with professional weapons. No, Washington and Hamilton wanted professionally armed and trained militia under the aegis of the states, not rabble, and that’s what they wrote into the Constitution. The fact that 250 years later you find grown men and even a few historians arguing that the Founding Fathers intended every single man to have a military weapon and be part of the militia would have sent them into guffaws of laughter… right after they informed you as to why that was a hilariously bad idea.

— Badtux the History Penguin

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Yeah, I’m still alive, barely. Last weekend, for example, I moved about 4,000 pounds of books. Sure, I had a hand truck, but I had to take the 80 pound boxes off of shelves and put them onto the hand truck, then haul them up the ramp into the U-Haul, repeat, rinse for three hours straight. Then at the other end, put the boxes of books onto the hand truck and lower it down the ramp, then pick them *up* to put them onto the shelves. Oh my aching back! (Uhm, yes, I own *way* too many books. Maybe I should start a bookstore?).

So anyhow, Freddie Oversteegen died recently. She was 14 years old when the Germans invaded the Netherlands. She joined the resistance and served at first as a courier, tying her hair back into pigtails to make herself look like a little girl riding her bicycle around. Later she carried a pistol and seduced German soldiers and Dutch collaborators and led them into the woods, where she killed them.

She survived, but during her high school years when she should have been going to parties and learning stuff in school and being a teenager, she was doing something dangerous and unpleasant that she carried with her for the rest of her life. In interviews, Ms. Oversteegen often spoke of the physics of killing — not the feel of the trigger or kick of the gun, but the inevitable collapse that followed, her victims’ fall to the ground.

“Yes,” she told one interviewer, according to the Dutch newspaper IJmuider Courant , “I’ve shot a gun myself and I’ve seen them fall. And what is inside us at such a moment? You want to help them get up.”

Except they didn’t. They were dead. And Freddie was not a sociopath, so that hurt something inside her. She tried to soothe that pain with babies and marriage, and it seemed to work, mostly. And it helped her get her priorities straight — Scrabble and tea were more important to her than public attention. But she was never what she would have been if the Nazis hadn’t come. That’s what happens when Nazis take over a country. Getting rid of them takes sacrifices that will change lives forever.

Then there was Hannie Schaft.

Hannie was a red-headed ball of fire. When the Nazis invaded, she was ready to kill Nazis. The regular Resistance wouldn’t let her kill Nazis, they just wanted her to be a courier and intelligence asset. She basically said fuck that, and went with the Communists instead, who had no problem taking a 19 year old teenager and turning her into a killer. So while she was in law school learning to be a human rights lawyer, she was also secretly working as a courier and assassin, killing Nazis and Nazi collaborators. Until they caught her, a few weeks before the German surrender.

Her last words were to her Nazi executioners. After their first shot only wounded her, she said “I shoot better than you do.” The next shot didn’t miss.

She was a fireball. What she would have done if her country hadn’t been taken over by Nazis is unknown, but it probably would have been spectacular. Alas, Nazis put an end to any such speculation the way Nazis always do — with bullets. Which is why Nazis are bad and evil, in case there was any question (hello, Mr. Trump!).

Nazis are bad. People who wave Nazi flags and shout Nazi slogans are Nazis. And Nazis taking over a country is a bad, bad thing that must be resisted with all methods possible. Any questions?

– Badtux the History Penguin

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I have to laugh at the ammosexual boobs who think the Viet Cong guerrillas won the Vietnam War and thus this proves that unorganized peasants with AK-47’s can defeat the US Army. They didn’t. They were totally destroyed as an effective fighting force in 1968 when the North Vietnamese deliberately sent them all into battle as a distraction against regular U.S. Army units.

All fighting after that was by regular units of the North Vietnamese Army vs regular units of the U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The NVA were armed with artillery and tanks and surface to air missiles but had trouble moving these into South Vietnam when they infiltrated units into South Vietnam, thus the illusion that the US was fighting a bunch of peasants armed with light weapons. But they weren’t. It was just that U.S. bombing made it hard to move the heavy weaponry into South Vietnam. Once the U.S. left the war and quit bombing, it turned into conventional warfare between conventional army units of the North Vietnamese Army and the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam. It was regular units of the North Vietnamese Army backed by Soviet-provided tanks and Soviet-provided artillery, surface-to-air missiles, and other such heavy weapons who conquered South Vietnam, not some random civilians with AK-47’s.

The myth that the Viet Kong won the Vietnam War is an old one and a deep one, fed by stupid newspapermen and stupid movies and racism on the part of Army grunts over the course of decades. But in the end, it took tanks and artillery and other heavy weaponry to win the war for North Vietnam — not a buncha peasants armed with AK-47’s. All that the peasants ever managed to do was become dead bodies. Which is all that would happen if the ammosexuals decided to take on the U.S. Army, too.

– Badtux the Military Penguin

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By which I mean, Karl Marx.

May 5th was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.

Hard-core Marxists are fond of saying “true Marxism has never been tried.” Well, there’s a reason for that. It’s because true Marxism is unworkable. That was the biggest reason why Communism arose — as it became clear that real people just don’t behave in ways that make Marxism workable, the creators of the Communist Revolution in Russia decided that what was needed was a dictatorship of the proletariat to train the people, over the generations, to behave in the ways needed for Marxism to work. In the end that dictatorship became a self-propagating mechanism that completely forgot about why it was created in the first place. After all, what dictator really wants to relinquish power?

Still, none of that changes the fact that Karl Marx correctly diagnosed the problems of the capitalist system of his era, a capitalist system that monopolized the output of workers at gunpoint into the hands of leeches who would be bankrupt if not for the output they stole from workers at gunpoint, a capitalist system that viewed workers as disposable, safety nets as dangerous weakness, and old people should just die, already, as useless eaters. His policy prescriptions for dealing with those problems were unworkable and eventually distorted into something horrific (the Communist system that killed tens of millions of people worldwide, maybe even hundreds of millions, over the roughly hundred years that it was extant), but his observations were correct — and are becoming true again. Alas.

– Badtux the History Penguin

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So that happened 243 years ago. You’ve probably heard all the silliness about Paul Revere and so forth. The most stupid silliness I’ve heard today, however, was that the British went to those two places in order to disarm the colonials.

Uhm, no. The British mission was to confiscate military weapons and munitions *STORED IN THE TOWN MILITIA ARSENALS*. Not to confiscate firearms in the possession of individuals. They were especially concerned with some brass cannon that the colonial militia had assembled. They could have cared less about the rifles and fowling pieces that were owned by individuals, they were after military weapons.

Which is a point I keep making about those who claim that personally owned and possessed firearms were a Big Deal in colonial Massachusetts militias: they weren’t. Massachusetts had always had a collectivist streak when it came to firearms, likely because of their Puritan underpinnings where early Massachusetts communities were run more like cults than like anything we have today. Their militias were heavily armed, but the muskets and cannon were kept in town arsenals along with sufficient gunpowder and shot to make them of use, not in individual homes. Individuals may have owned rifles or fowling pieces (shotguns), but they did not have a musket at home because for personal use, muskets were basically useless. They were too inaccurate and too long and heavy to make good hunting weapons.

I’ve written long discourses on Colonial era military weapons and tactics elsewhere, but suffice it to say that most of what we “know” about the era is wrong when you study the actual military weapons, tactics, and science of the era. For example, there were no battles that were settled by colonials sniping from behind trees. Even Lexington and Concord wasn’t settled by that, the British soldiers achieved their objectives, then headed home. The sniping was misery, but the sniping was because they hadn’t brought their own skirmishers with them to counter-snipe — the British knew very well (having defeated the French and Indians) how to deal with that kind of thing. They just hadn’t realized they were going to war that day, rather than a modest police action to disarm some people who had illegal cannon.

And militia… there was a single (one) battle after that initial clash where militia made an impact. That was it, in the entire war. Everywhere else they were utterly useless, thus why George Washington inserted the militia clauses into the Constitution in some hope of getting militia that was actually useful (which turned out to be wishful thinking — in the War of 1812, the militia once *again* were useless). Yet this mystique about the militia somehow winning the war remains, when the actual cause of the British basically surrendering was that they ran out of money. Seriously. The British Crown was bankrupt by 1784. Couldn’t even meet interest payments on their national debt or pay the soldiers already on American soil, much less replace those surrendered at Yorktown. And the French and Spanish were threatening India, which was far more valuable than sparsely-settled American colonies. The British could have perhaps fought on by raising taxes but to do so threatened the loss of India. They ended the war to protect India, they didn’t get defeated militarily — even the forces at Yorktown were less than 1/10th of the British forces on American soil. Granted, most of those forces were in Canada or New York City, but there they were.

None of which is taught to American students in American K-12 schools, which instead are replete with jingoistic nonsense with no basis in fact. So it goes.

– Badtux the History Penguin

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And why did he leave so many of the vicious crackers that ended up forming the KKK alive rather than swinging from the gallows for treason?

Grant had two problems. The first was that Jefferson Davis had ordered the Confederate armies to disappear into the woods and hills and operate as guerillas. The Confederate generals disobeyed his direct order and surrendered instead, but if Grant had been more punitive than he was, they might have changed their mind, and the punitiveness might also have changed the mind of enough of the highly trained Confederate soldiers that they would have joined the Confederate generals in waging concerted guerilla warfare. People in the North were tired of war. He risked unrest and political repercussions in the North if war broke out again due to his actions.

The second problem he faced was that the majority of the electorate in the North wanted their boys back home. They didn’t want to continue funding a huge army of occupation in the South. Oh, they gave lip service towards the notion of equal rights for black people in the South, but they weren’t willing to put blood and money behind it to maintain a large army of occupation. So Grant tried to arm black people in the South and get them organized as an organized militia. Unfortunately most blacks were illiterate (a deliberate plan by slave owners) and had little knowledge of even the basics of being a soldier nevermind how to organize effectively and conduct tactical maneuvers efficiently, and they were faced with former Confederate soldiers who were highly trained in the only way that people knew to train soldiers back in those days — i.e., they’d actually fought in real battles, which the former slaves had not. It was a process similar to what we’ve recently undergone in Afghanistan, where we tried to train the locals to be effective soldiers, but the results have been … underwhelming. Well, the results of attempting to train the black militias were pretty underwhelming too. The few times the black militias got into a pitched battle with former Confederates, they got wiped off the field.

In short, Grant had some harsh political realities to deal with. I might wish he had at least hanged a few of the worst of the Confederate leaders as traitors — Jefferson Davis deserved to hang if only for that order he’d issued to conduct guerilla warfare, Jubal Early needed to hang because he was the only Confederate general literate enough to invent the “Lost Cause” myths that later replaced real history in the South, and certainly mean crackers like Nathan Bedford Forrest (founder of the KKK) needed to hang if only for the fact that they had executed surrendered black soldiers in violation of the laws of war. But Grant decided that executing these people would create too much unrest — unrest that the Northern population wasn’t willing to pay the price to put down. In retrospect it seems to me that he made a mistake. The rot spread from the South in the past 150 years, and now afflicts a large amount of middle America. But it was a mistake that was fundamentally based in the realities that he faced, not something that arose out of stupidity or drunkenness.

– Badtux the History Penguin

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Boomers typically react to millennials who point out their hypocrisy on things like jobs and student loans (where boomers could get good paying jobs with benefits with just a high school diploma, and could attend college for free or for very little money, while millennials need a college degree to find even McJobs that barely pay above minimum wage and must take out hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans to do so ) by saying, “but we led the civil rights movement and stopped the Vietnam War!”


The Civil Rights movement was led primarily by people born prior to 1945, the start of the “Boomer” generation. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929. Jesse Jackson was born in 1941. Genevieve Hughes, one of the original Freedom Riders, was born in 1932. John Lewis, another of the original Freedom Riders, was born in 1940. Diane Nash, another of the original Freedom Riders, was born in 1938. James Peck, who was beat up on the first Freedom Ride, was born in 1914 for crying out loud.

None of these people were/are Boomers. For Boomers to appropriate the sacrifices of these people as if they belong to their own generation is the ultimate in hypocrisy. It’s fucking evil, is what it is. These people fought and died for the rights of all Americans. To have their accomplishments appropriated is just wrong.

Regarding the Vietnam War, the largest anti-Vietnam War marches, those of November 15, 1969, attracted less than 500,000 people. Meanwhile, the number of Boomers who volunteered to fight the war in Vietnam was 70% of the total. Of the 2.5 million boomers who served in Vietnam, roughly 70% of them were volunteers — or 1.75 million of them. Most of those who actually saw combat were volunteers. Draftees were viewed as unreliable and were generally shifted to non-combat positions or stationed in Europe or Korea. If it wasn’t for boomers volunteering to fight in Vietnam, there wouldn’t have *been* a Vietnam War, because the U.S. military wouldn’t have been able to find enough reliable troops to conduct the war.

Funny how all Boomers seem to think they ended the war in Vietnam, when far more Boomers volunteered to FIGHT in Vietnam than volunteered to march AGAINST the VIetnam War! And you wonder why millennials view Boomers as hypocrites and roll their eyes when Boomers start ranting about how they were these great Civil Rights warriors and ended the Vietnam War? Really?!

– Badtux the Eye-rolling Penguin

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