Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A Gauntlet Celebration: The Gauntlet's 200th Post Post - A Look Back, and Ahead

Hello all to, or back to, the spurious yet genuine, taciturn yet verbose, elusive yet findable, Gauntlet of Balthazar.

It seems a small celebration is in order today, as this very post marks the 200th entry since this blog was initiated (relatively) way back (by internet standards) on October 3rd, 2016.

Certainly some months, and even years, have seen a greater volume of content here than others, and as the site has evolved some subject matter has very obviously come to dominate a greater share of posts than others. Overall, the "From the Writer's Studio", "Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away", and Political Philosophy posts have some- what overwhelmed Media Reviews, "From the Design Studio", "Sculpture Garden" and "Mixology", let alone Photography, the "My Dictionary; Word of Day", and Product Review features. 

Perhaps it was a presumptuous task to attempt to tackle all of these fields in equal measure in the first place. But, nonetheless, even if the ratio continues as is, the initiating premise for the establishment of the Gauntlet was for it to not just to serve as a marketing tool for Nevekari Enterprises and Stubborn God Productions projects, but equally to be an outlet for "excess" artistic expression, as well as to provide a safe place to posit philosophical polemic away from combative keyboard warriors on the established social media platforms. After all, arguing with those who frankly haven't really familiarized themselves with the implications of their own positions is clearly a grand waste of time, and if they don't grasp their own philosophy, how could they ever be capable of allowing themselves to understand the deeper motivations and causal factors of the powers-that-be?

Therefore, while I'm very pleased that it seems a fair percentage of the Gauntlet's readers are liberty-minded, anti-authoritarian individuals, pro-democracy protesters, and I suspect even civic nationalists from around the globe, I certainly hope that even if there are many others who disagree with the sometimes uncompromising positions stated here (I'm clearly referring to the Globalists, Marxists, and Communists out there of course), I trust that even those mired in those camps might find some redeemable value in the various arts posted here. I mean, hey, on some level, art is all about exploring a deeper understanding of humanity at its core - and I'm pretty sure we all need that. 

I like to feel that this blog has been very helpful tool in spurring on the creation of content - providing a framework of self-imposed "release dates" and a clear litmus of audience appreciation by topic through the analytics. As I've stated more than a few times lately, readers in beleaguered Hong Kong have recently stepped up to supply the overall top user numbers, once dominated by the US, and followed by Russia, China, Germany and dozens of other nations, and either way, that's just great. Obviously, the Gauntlet wants everyone, from everywhere, to enjoy the content here, and ideally to support the source of that content by subscribing to Nevekari Enterprises YouTube Channel, following 391 & the Army of Astraea's Bandcamp page, and "liking" the Stubborn God Productions Facebook page, among others.

I can't express enough how far these frankly simple and cost-free little acts go in support struggling artists, but in a world dominated by media giants and companies with seriously massive marketing budgets, every organic view, every play, and every "like", serves not just to edify the self-esteem of the creators, but more so aids in bolstering the image of the company in the eyes of more influential creators. Overall, this can only lead to growth and point the way to collaboration with those who can aid a project in finding a true universal audience to scale. 

Well, I guess the mighty Gauntlet is off for now - plasma oozing out of its golden seams and strange appendages, so look forward to more groovy tunes, more wry observations, and more insightful reviews - including a followup in the Star Wars universe looking at The Mandalorian Season Two. Thanks so much again.

Till next time. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away: "Virions"

Welcome back to the Gauntlet of Balthazar for another great Tuesday morning record release day. 

Today's recording (unlike the last two releases) is entirely a solo affair, and represents possibly the most minimalism-focused of all of the recent 391 & the Army of Astraea projects. 

"Virions" is a Three-Track Extended Play Single that addresses the loss and isolation people have, and potentially will, feel when experiencing the consequences of global viral pandemics. By this I'm not referring to Flu's with a 99.5 recovery rate, but more so instances such as the Black Plague, Ebola, and hypothetical species die-off illnesses, such as presented in the 2018 Nevekari Enterprises penned series, "The Immune" - which is currently being shopped for production. A demo episode of the series, "Isolation Room", can be found online.

Through the process of recording I realized "Virions" might just be the first installment in a series that explores this theme - so uh, stay tuned. Also look for the first 391 & the Army of Astraea Singer-Songwriter Folk-Rock release - which is quite imminent.

Anyway, as specified on the issue's Bandcamp page: "In light of the overall Spatial / Stereophonic nature of the recordings, as well as the inclusion of certain Sub-Tonal elements throughout, the use of high-fidelity headphones as a listening medium is encouraged". So yeah, that's the best way to listen. 

As usual the embed is below, so enjoy, and if you can, please follow 391 & the Army of Astraea on Bandcamp, and share if possible. Thank you all. 

Till next time.


Saturday, December 5, 2020

Republicans Versus the Race Party...I Mean the Democrats Part III - 1854-1877 >>> [re-issue]

Salutations and welcome to, or back to, the Gauntlet of Balthazar for Part III of the revised "Republicans Versus the Race Party...I Mean the Democrats (1854-1877).

I'm guessing that if you did read through the earlier post in this series, you either fully take my point, or are in such a state of the current left-right partisan denial that you either perceive the facts, yes facts, presented here as "fake news" or "lies", or that you have rationalized that "it was all a very long time ago", or that there was such a mythical political occurrence often referred to as a "party switch".

I know that unlike real liberals, or I guess I should say, moderate Democrats - an ardent Marxist might even add that it all of this history stuff really doesn't matter because it's all about the post-modern "now' and that all truths are subjective, and besides, both of the major political parties of the United States were founded on an oligarchic and exploitative racist premise rather than a set of lofty philosophic and Constitutional goals, so it's all moot, and the entire system should be destroyed a.s.a.p - ideally replaced with a Socialist "utopia"...that they of course will run.

Well, pull up a chair and stay a while because in this installment the march of history will take us from the founding of the Republican Party in 1854 till the end of reconstruction. Surely the same rebuttals to this overview can and will be logged, but I believe that by the end of the series in total you will see that my central thesis will be fully illuminated: which is, that the Democratic Party has for the most part consistently focused on a lurid race-based platform through its history. I will show, and have shown, how from the DNC's founding that Democrats sought to pervert a liberal aspect of Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party in order to bolster not only the continuation of African-American chattel slavery in the south, but to encourage it's growth in newly acquired states.

In the aftermath of the Civil War we will see how this Anti-Republican / Anti-Northern sentiment contributed to the founding of ethno-identitarian movements such as the Klu Klux Klan, and the diminished rights of free African-Americans under the Jim Crow laws through the "Gilded Age". I will then show how the Progressive Movement in the early part of the twentieth century was forced to find a home almost exclusively among Republicans due to the bane-fullness of the Democratic platform, while contrarily in Great Britain, Progressiveness was clearly a left-wing phenomena. Lastly, we will examine period movements that the Democrats did indeed come to embrace and fuse into their platform in the WWI era - these being namely Trans-National Globalism and the highly questionable Eugenics Movement - a precursor of German National Socialist race theory.

Looking forward to the next part of this article to the 1921-1974 time period, we will look at Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and the emergence of the Military-Industrial Complex, the so-called "party switch", President Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society" program and Nixon's "Southern Strategy", and eventually, we will look at the current year - where we can now all plainly see the Democratic Party platform rife with the "woke" politics of racial identity - wrapped in a nauseating veneer of Socialist class, race and gender warfare.

Whether being hawkish on appropriating Native American land after the War of 1812, to seeking to keep Catholic immigrants out of America, or oppressing blacks in the nineteenth century, enfeebling them in the urban ghettos in Civil Rights era, and plying Marxist race, class, and gender warfare theory in order to exacerbate victim-hood identity and racial animosity - this, is par for the consistent course of the left, or I should say, the Democrats.

So let's get started, shall we.

Part Three: 1854-1877 (The Civil War Era and Reconstruction)

As previously mentioned in the prior installment many Southern Whigs, reflecting the adversarial underbelly of the party among it's Anti-Masonic constituents, rather than joining one of the two parties straight out opted to join the xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic American Republican Party (not to be confused with National Republican Party of John Quincy Adams). Perhaps to forgo confusing the populace with a similarly named entity, it was soon renamed the Native American Party - as in Native-born Americans, not Native Americans as in indigenous Indians. The party was soon after renamed the American Party (in 1855), but was commonly referred to as the Know Nothing Party (1844-1860). They even had a oath-bound secret wing know as the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner created by Charles B. Allen in New York City. Conflicts involving the Nativist movement and their adversaries took place in major US urban areas, and can be seen in historical dramatic form in films such as Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York".

I find it highly ironic (or is it a telling precursor?) that this movement was based in otherwise free-wheeling, liberal New York. Perhaps what is even more ironic was that the Know Nothing Party was founded by a man who holds the distinction of being the first American Jewish Congressman - Lewis Levin; often referred to as "Uncle Sam's youngest son" and "Citizen Know Nothing".

Born in 1808 in Charleston, South Carolina, Levin was quite the unusual character - an activist, a lawyer, a congressman for the First District of Pennsylvania, a frequent duelist, anti-alcohol crusader, clearly not a religious Jew who intermarried, and spawning from a family rife with mental illness. While Levin himself did not seem to possess particular personal animus toward Catholics, he nonetheless appealed to those who despised them, and it was this ethno-religious identitarian constituency that served as his power base. If I had to find a current parallel for the Know Nothing's it would probably be the "Alt-Right", though generally speaking, Alt-Righter's are not really best described as "right" as they are anti-Constitutional, economically Socialist, Ethno-Fascists.

But, carry on...

Of the somewhat collectively unremarkable mid-nineteenth century U.S. Presidents who served in the period following Andrew Jackson up to the Civil War, their names, states of origin, and party affiliations are as follows: Martin Van Buren 1837-1841 - New York (Northern Democrat), William Henry Harrison - Virginia (Southern Whig), John Tyler 1841-1845 - Virginia (Southern Whig), James K. Polk 1845-1849 - North Carolina / Tennessee (Southern Democrat), Zachary Taylor 1849-1850 - Virginia (Southern Whig), Millard Fillmore 1850-1853 - New York (Northern Whig / Know Nothing Party after 1856), Franklin Pierce 1853-1857 - New Hampshire (Northern Democrat), and James Buchanan 1857-1861 - Pennsylvania (Northern Democrat).

As you may note, these officials were for the most part Southern Whigs or Northern Democrats (and one Southern Democrat and Know Nothing switcher) with not a single Republican in sight. On some level this only made sense as Washington D.C. was firmly in Democrat establishment territory (Virginia) since Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican days, and as slavery was "their" issue, their base was fired up to hold onto the institution. Republicans had been pretty much "pushed out", and their increasing abolitionist sentiments garnered quite the adversarial response from their Democrat opponents.

As I pointed out in Part One of this article, the Democrats did indeed absorb many of the Libertarian notions that were part of Thomas Jefferson's Anti-Establishment derived party, but while Jefferson held a firm disdain for religious authority, Democrats of the mid-nineteenth century period utilized their Protestantism to bolster the moral justification of holding other humans in bondage. If you are unaware of this phenomena, I'll explain just how they managed to do this, philosophically. You see, in their reading of the bible, or more specifically the "Old Testament", otherwise known as the Jewish Torah, they observed that slavery among the Jews of ancient times was sanctioned - as long as the Jewish slave-holder did not hold another Jew as the slave. Islam later incorporated the same motif, and thus, Muslims were quite eager about slavery in the Middle Ages, as long as their slaves were culled from Pagan (Sub-Saharan African and Eastern European) stock.

Anyway, in one tale (in Genesis 9, I believe) regarding the descendants of Noah, his three sons - Japheth (the Aryans - such as Greeks, Persians, Anatolian's, etc.), Shem (the Semites - such as Jews, Arabs, Assyrians, the Ethiopians, etc.) and Ham (the Hamites - such as the Egyptians, Berbers, Nubians, etc.) are catalogued. As punishment for a frankly obliquely mentioned infraction of "mocking" his father's nudity, God declares that the progeny of Ham (the Hamitic peoples) would be forevermore forced to serve his brother Shem's progeny. As Christians, the mantle of being a Semite through philosophical emanation or transference via Jesus Christ was a common notion, and thus, Hamites were destined to serve as slaves, by the order of God. As an aside I feel I should mention that in a very real historical way this did indeed become a truth in that the ancient Egyptians, after falling to the Islamic conquest, had undergone the slow process of Islamization starting in the eighth century, and could be views as a Hamitic population "submitting" to a dominant Semitic language and religion.

Be that as it may, these post-colonial goyim were no Semites, nor were their African slaves of Hamitic background, as they were prior to their importation to the new world, predominately of West African (Bantu) origin. Regardless, this was the applied religious thinking utilized to philosophically fortify the institution of slavery, and thus, the more religious the better. In fact, it almost goes without saying that convincing your slaves to buy into this religious paradigm was ideally the first order of business.

And so, with a bible in one hand and a sword in the other, this same rational fueled the Indian Removal Policies of Andrew Jackson's Democrats onward, and bolstered white ethno-identitarianism, anti-immigrant xenophobia, and anti-Catholic sentiment. It was this thinking, most earnestly expressed in the ranks of the Southern Democrats, that urged those Northern Democrats and Southern Whigs who sought to temper the slavery issue, to  create a number of Pro-Union parties that came about immediately predating the outbreak of the American Civil War.

It should be noted that the abolitionists - embodied almost exclusively in the ranks of the Republican Party (and their allies among disenfranchised "Barnburner" Democrats), held the reins of state almost exclusively from the Civil War onward in the 1861-1933 period. Turnabout being fair-play and all that. The only exceptions to this golden age of Republican dominance was the National Unity Party Democrat Vice-President Andrew Johnson - who finished out and followed Abraham Lincoln's term after his assassination (1865-1869), Grover Cleveland's two interrupted stints (1885-1889, 1893-1897), and Woodrow Wilson's two terms (1913-1921). Needless to say this only made sense, as the Federal government was after the war firmly Republican ground, and Democrats had to slowly gain Republican trust in order to be part of the national government and dialogue once again. 

But let's get back to the years immediately leading up to the Republican-Democrat / North-South fracture that broke the Union - otherwise know as the American Civil War.

While many citizens aligned with either the Anti-Slavery Republicans or the Pro-Slavery Democrats there were indeed many smaller parties that hoped to forge a compromise between the two, or in some cases to push the envelope further. One such third party came into existence solely to push the extreme wing of blatant Pro-Slavery thought. Known simply as the "Opposition Party", the OP was exclusively represented in the south from 1858-1860. However, their fire was short-lived, and they, as well as the American Party (or Know Nothing Party) soon fused with many Southern (Cotton) Whigs and Unionist Democrats and became know as the Unionist Party (1852-1866).

Strange bedfellows they may seem, but as all were Pro-Slavery, but also Pro-National government, and Anti-Republican, the old civic nationalism of Thomas Jefferson persisted and molded all three into the core of the the successor of the Unionist Party, know as the Constitutional Union Party (1860-1861). In many ways the CUP was the last entity that sought a true compromise between Northern Republicans and Southern Democrats in a final effort to avoid the increasingly clearly forthcoming war between north and south. However, it can't be mentioned enough that Jefferson's libertine values were largely lost on these fallen Whigs, who had become little more than slavery apologists. In fact, their party can only be described as a Southern Unionist religious center-right party - far more Conservative than a libertine like Jefferson could envision.

Perhaps members of the Constitutional Union Party thought that the imminent war could be averted, and that tempers would cool and the status quo of ignoring the slavery issue would be the order of the day once more. After all, there was indeed a "stall" embedded in the US Constitution deferring the legislature from confronting the contested issue of slavery for fifty years from the signing, so perhaps they weren't completely unrealistic, only if not for retrospect. But this compromise codicil was specifically included by both sides as a balm for the nation to come into existence as one unified entity, capable of focusing on forging a nation free from the British yoke rather than immediately fighting a Civil War at the founding. Surely, that would have only supplied the means by which the British would re-take their lost colonies.

As the war increasingly took it's bloody toll and compromise fell away, the only third party to survive was the successor of the Unionist Party, re-dubbed the Unconditional Union Party (1861-1866). Formed in Missouri, the UUP was ideologically Classically Liberal as well as being both Federalist and Pro-Union, so it should come as no surprise that in the aftermath of the Civil War their members merged into, you guessed it - the Republican Party. Once again the push and pull of Jefferson's Libertarian civic nationalism and John Adams' Federalism was firmly represented an internal counter-point within the Republican camp - not on the Democrat side of the aisle. 

Thus, as we can plainly see, the majority of those holding abolitionist, pro-union thought invariably ended up Republican, while the majority of Democrats through the nineteenth century firmly held to secessionist thinking and race politics - endorsing the aggrandizement of slavery, the diminishing of Native American territory, and thereafter adding a pinch of Nativist anti-Catholic immigrant sentiment to their repertoire.

Obviously the war served to crystallize the Republican party, and ever since the GOP has been referred to as "the party of Lincoln", but for the purposes of this article, Lincoln's well-known life, and minutia about Civil War combat is fairly superfluous. So, I'll just press fast forward...  

After the War, only the two familiar parties survived the once fractious American political landscape - the Republicans and the Democrats. This period, know as the Reconstruction (until 1877), could easily be described as the "de-southification" of the South. In essence the national government - almost entirely dominated by Republicans, administered the South as a territory of conquest. For thirteen years Republican's sought to mold the eleven former Confederate states back into Union states, meanwhile insuring the rights of newly freed African-Americans.

The more radical the Republican Senator, the more extreme those rights were sought to be insured and implemented. The more earnest the Democrat the more those rights were sought to be undermined.

On July 9th, 1868 the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution was ratified as thousands of Northerners still flooded into the south in order to build schools for the freed slaves, as well as to fill government posts and Church pulpits, while others assisted the U.S. Army administration and the Freedman's Bureau in re-shaping the African-American community. These Republicans, often pejoratively called "carpetbaggers" by the "occupied" Southerners, often promoted and elected freed blacks to local and national government offices, much to the chagrin of the humbled secessionists who lived below the Mason-Dixon line. Boo-the freak-hoo! 

Till next time.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Mixology: Introducing "The Frost"

Well, it seems it's time again for another visit to the Gauntlet's colorful but not frequently visited mixology feature.

Today's creation is somewhat seasonally inspired, and I think, came out fairly well, especially in light of the fact that there was a distinct danger that this drink could have turned out absolutely atrocious.

However, it did not, and my daughter coined its name as "The Frost" - due to it's shimmering silver quality. In general it's a light, dainty, fruity, and whimsical, sort of cocktail. 

So let's get right to it.

You will need:

1 ounce of Peach Schnapps

I ounce of Butterscotch Schnapps

I ounce of Vodka (preferably Tito's)

1/2 ounce of Simple Syrup

3 drops of Vanilla Extract

Shake with Ice

Mix with 4 ounces of Club Soda

Optionally garnish with a Slice of Light Syrup Peach


Please feel free to try out the previous beverages presented in Mixology department - "The Emerald City", "The Brookside", and "The Island Leprechaun".

Till next time.