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I normally don’t like these Lewis Black segments, but I have to admit that in this one he’s pretty funny. He also discusses at least three things which I’ve blogged about in the past:

  1. Absurd comparisons of anything and everything to the Nazis. 
  2. Charisma
  3. Empathy  

Black basically says everything I’ve got to say about the first issue. On the charisma thing, he makes a rather important observation: Hitler was charismatic. I cannot stress enough the fact that charisma is independent of morality or character Anyone–even a genocidal, racist madman–can have charisma. And when you’ve seen the power of charisma being, if anything, heightened nowadays compared to the 1930’s, that’s simply terrifying beyond words.

Now, while Black makes a good point about the absurdity of Glenn Beck’s comments on empathy, I have to say I sort of disagree about empathy being an inherently “positive” thing. As I have said before, it’s just the ability to know what other people feel, not the desire to act on it necessarily. Empathy does not imply sympathy.

William Saletan writes:

“There was no America, as a nation, until Britain foolishly behaved as Palin now wants America to behave. Her advice is a prescription for superpower suicide. If she understood the Boston Tea Party as more than a slogan, she’d know that.”

It seems to me like the British Empire declined for very long time–never completely ceasing to be an Empire until after World War II. So, if Saletan is right and Palin’s advice is indeed analogous to the British policy at the time of the Boston Tea Party, we’ve still got about 200 years left.

On the one hand, it’s tempting to give in to this idea that history repeats itself. On the other hand, it strikes me as a rather simplistic analysis. I’m no historian, but I do think that Britain’s superpower status should probably have an asterisk by it, because they almost never successfully beat any similarly-equipped enemy apart from (sometimes) the French. The United States has defeated most of Europe twice.

As an aside, Pat Buchanan–who I wrote a post about last week–has been saying for years that we’re behaving like the British Empire did to trigger its decline.  Yet, he seems to be something of a fan of Palin.

(Hat Tip to Andrew Sullivan for the Saletan article.)

Andrew Sullivan writes:

“Palin is not appealing to the Republican super-ego (in so far as one has survived the last ten years); she is directly, umbilically connected to the Republican id (and some other male organs). Her appeal is visceral not rational….

 Who else puts all this together for the GOP? No one. Huckabee is crippled by a record of spending and leniency. Romney is crippled by being Mitt Romney and Mormonism. Pawlenty: seriously? Santorum? Ditto. Brown? We are beginning to see the depth of his predicament. DeMint? Rubio? C’mon.

Yes, many tea-partiers do not think Palin is “qualified” to be president. But primaries are won by enthusiasm and star power. Palin has both.” 

In other words, she is charismatic. No other known Republican candidate right now is. Sullivan is right to think she has a legitimate shot.

That’s not to say she will be the nominee, of course. She might not be seeking it. She could command nearly as much influence over the political system with less work by continuing to do what she’s been doing. Indeed; in the past, this has been the way of charismatic women. They do not hold the political offices that men do; they instead serve as symbolic figureheads for a movement. That’s hard to do if you’re going to be President.

It doesn’t help her cause that if she did run for President, she’d be going up against an opponent who is stunningly charismatic in his own right. I have to admit that, given the power of charisma that I have cataloged on this blog, it would be interesting to see a Palin vs. Obama election in 2012.

So Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell declared April. According to the article, the move “angered Civil Rights’ leaders”. But my question is: what about the average, everyday, patriotic American? Surely they were angered as well.

Some background: The Confederate States of America was a government established in 1861 by states that had declared they were seceding from the Union. The Union being the United States of America. Long story short, the USA fought the CSA, and the USA won, forcing the CSA to be dissolved.

Now, what seems fairly obvious from this discussion is that the CSA was, at best, an enemy nation of the USA throughout its brief existence, and at worst was nothing more than a gang of traitors. You might think that this would make them an unpopular bunch, but you would be wrong: lots of people are very eager to celebrate them, apparently because their ancestors fought for them.

Okay, that’s nice. But perhaps it should be American Civil War history month; not Confederate history. A lot of people–supposedly patriotic US citizens–seem to forget just who won the war. Hint: it was the country that still exists.

Now, I do not know if there is a “Loyalist History month” in Massachusetts for those who supported remaining loyal to King George III. Is there a history month of any of the other enemy nations we have fought in the past? Think of all the governments we’ve fought: Britain’s (twice), Germany’s (twice), North Korea’s, North Vietnam’s, and the Communist Soviet Union’s, to name a few. When are the months for those governments? (Remember: the German Monarchy and the Third Reich each have to get their own month, as they are two separate governments. We’re going to have to add some months pretty soon.)

Yeah, yeah I know. You say: “But the Confederacy was on land that is now U.S. territory; so it’s part of our history.” Yes, it is. So, while it is truly part of Virginia’s history, Virginia must realize it is a part of the U.S.A, and that this other country is long gone. “We” are not the CSA. We are the USA, and “we” should have “Preservation of the Union month”.

There is a monument, sometimes called the Saratoga Obelisk, which commemorates the Battle of Saratoga in the American Revolution. On it are four niches, three of which hold statues of officers from the American side. The fourth niche is empty. It is for Benedict Arnold, who played a major role in winning the battle for the Americans, but who later infamously betrayed George Washington and joined the British.

The reason I mention this is to illustrate how serious treason is, and how severely it should be looked on by history. That the Confederate States of America are treated so lightly is, I think, an extremely curious phenomenon given the indisputable fact that what they did, ultimately, was take up arms against the United States of America.