On June 25, 1876, Sioux and Cheyenne forces led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull wiped out the U.S. Army troops of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn near southern Montana’s Little Bighorn River. Custer had been asking for such a fate for sure: he had long been crippled by hubris, ambition and arrogance, despite other compensating positive leadership traits and one extremely important success, which I’ll write about again in about a week. The U.S. Army had also firmly established themselves as the bad guys in this true life Western. After gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills, in the previous year, the U.S. Army ignored previous treaty agreements and invaded the region. Custer and some 200 men blundered into the Little Bighorn Valley where his battalion was overcome by 3,000 angry warriors. Custer and every last one of his soldier had been killed within an hour. The Battle of the Little Bighorn, better known as “Custer’s Last Stand,” was the most decisive Native American victory and the worst U.S. Army defeat in the long Plains Indian War. It was a classic Pyrrhic victory, of course. Custer was elevated to undeserved martyr status, and the U.S. Government redoubled its efforts against Native Americans. Within five years, almost all of the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne were confined to reservations.
It took a while for history, popular culture and public opinion to catch up with reality regarding Custer. More than 20 movies and too many television shows to count portrayed him as a hero right into the Sixties. Among the actors who played the doomed and dashing cavalry leader: Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn, Leslie Neilson, Robert Shaw, and Sheb Wooley, who sang the hit ’50’s ditty “Purple People Eater.” The tide turned against Custer for good after some critical biographies and when Richard Mulligan played him as preening idiot in the dark Western satire “Little Big Man” in 1970.
There was cosmic justice for Custer, if not for the Indians he persecuted.
1. Perhaps the greatest IIPTDXTTNMIAFB we will ever see! I really jumped the gun earlier this month when I marked a ridiculous lie out of the mouth of President Biden as an “IIPTDXTTNMIAFB for the ages.” ( The initials stand for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.”“Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.”) That doesn’t come within miles of Biden’s extemporaneous tough guy blather during his recent “all of the recent increase in crime in Democrat-run cities is caused by guns” speech, when he began with a historical gaffe, saying that a citizen couldn’t buy a cannon in Revolutionary times (citizens could buy cannons and did well into the 20th Century—the crazy publisher of the Los Angeles Times had one mounted on the hood of his car) and then really jumping the responsible Potus shark with this:
“Those who say the blood of lib- — “the blood of patriots,” you know, and all the stuff about how we’re going to have to move against the government. Well, the tree of liberty is not watered with the blood of patriots. What’s happened is that there have never been — if you wanted or if you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons.”
This has been discussed a bit today in the Open Forum, so I will just add that if Trump had said anything like this, Democrats and the news media would be screaming that he was psychologically unfit to be President, and that the 25th Amendment should be put into action immediately. But Trump never said anything that crazy or threatening. In addition to the statement being bellicose and offensive, it also evinces that understanding of the Second Amendment of the average 14-year-old. The Second Amendment like the rest of the Bill of Rights, was created to ensure that the Federal government knew its place, and also knew that like the colonies, American citizens would not surrender their liberties without a fight. The Founders never thought local groups of armed citizens could prevail in combat against the full resources of the Federal government, even in a world without AR-15s, nukes, and tanks. But they knew that the prospect of substantial numbers of armed citizens would deter government tyranny, assuming sane leadership. For example, an attempt to go houise to house confiscating guns would be unacceptably bloody and risk turning a majority of the public against the government.
Even though the news media is already trying to memory-hole Joe’s stupid threat, it is destined to haunt him, and should.
2. I guess this is IIPTDXTTNMIAFB Day. The President also said this: “It’s awful hard as well to get Latinx vaccinated… Why? They’re worried they’ll be vaccinated and deported.” What does this mean? That Biden thinks all Hispanics are illegal immigrants? That he thinks all Hispanics are stupid, and don’t know that if they were born here or immigrated legally they can’t be deported? Isn’t this offensive stereotyping at its worst? Isn’t “get them vaccinated” demeaning? And Latinx is a made-up woke name that isn’t used or liked in the Hispanic community.
What an idiot.
3. And this is worse, because it has serious consequences...My New York Times today led with a crowing headline that President Biden had cut a bi-partisan deal with “moderate” Republican Senators to allow a trillion dollar plus infrastructure bill go forward. I was even going to write about how such a compromises was ethical and responsible, even though it would add to the dangerous national debt; this is a bill that came due decades ago, and putting it off cannot be justified. Then I learned that Biden had given a second news conference a couple of hours later in which he reneged on the deal he had just announced, saying that even if Congress passes the compromise infrastructure bill, he would refuse to sign it unless it also passed the Democrats’ “human infrastructure” pork-filled bill that all Republicans oppose. Both bills, Biden said, have to come to his desk at the same time for him to sign them.
This is known as a “bait and switch,’ or perhaps “double cross” is more accurate. First, the President celebrated bipartisanship, and then, citing a plan devised by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, reneged on what he claimed to have agreed to. This effectively kills the deal: Republicans are justifiably enraged. It also will make any future compromises or bipartisanship more difficult if not impossible.
4. Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years in prison, which would be fine with me if he had been convicted in a fair trial by an unbiased jury. But he wasn’t. We will see if the justice system has the integrity to follow the law even when it rescues a symbolic cultural villain.
5. And a baseball ethics note, just to get the sour taste of everything above out of my mouth...For the first time in the franchise’s history, a Boston Red Sox pitcher was removed from a game in the midst of a no-hitter last night. Nick Pivetta had held the Tampa Bay Rays hitless through 6 2/3 innings, but manager Alex “The Sign-Stealer” Cora took him out anyway, robbing Puvetta of the chance at a career highlight and a slice of immortality: a no-hitte gets a pitcher’s name listed in the Hall of Fame. In fact, it was the responsible move by Cora: Pivetta had thrown 100 pitches and was the deepest he had been in a game in more than two years. Tampa Bay also had a runner on second in a 0-0 game that was for first place in the AL East. For Pivetta to get his no-hitter would have taken 130 pitches at least, which is considered risky to a pitcher’s health these days. But before they counted pitches, as late as the Seventies, a chance at a no-hitter would never be ended by a manager. The individual accomplishment was considered more important than the game itself. Huge player contracts changed the equation for both pitchers and teams: blowing out an arm for a single game became universally regarded as a bad exchange.
The Rays fans gave Pivetta a standing ovation. Good for them. The Red Sox lost on a wild pitch in the 9th inning, 1-0.