Washington has seen it all, and seen it off, before

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the military at a rally at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Dec. 26, 2018.Andrew Harnik/AP

Back in 1973, Canadian journalist Gordon Sinclair had some things to say about America, as we plowed through the shambles left by Vietnam, Watergate, and general chaos. It started like this:

“This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for
the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least
appreciated people on all the earth.

Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and
Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the
Americans who poured in billions of dollars and
forgave other billions in debts. None of these
countries is today paying even the interest on its
remaining debts to the United States. […]

If you were a sentient American at the time, I suspect you remember it, it was republished in most American papers. It’s the only article I ever recall my Mom clipping from our local paper and giving to me. It mattered. You can read it here.

Now there is another. Conrad Black published an article in Canada’s National Post, that I think we Americans need to read, to remind ourselves who we really are. It’s entitled: America’s resurgence is reshaping the world. Here’s part of it.

Almost indiscernible in the endless tumult about President Donald Trump is the objective return of American might, right on our doorstep. A casual sampler of the Canadian, and even the American, media, might think that the United States was so far along in its decline that the entire process of government and normal public discourse had broken down in that country, and that the much-discussed process of national decline was accelerating in a climate of virtual chaos.

In fact, the economy of the United States is astoundingly strong: full employment, an expanding work force, negligible inflation and about three per cent economic growth. And it is a broad economic recovery, not based on service industries as in the United Kingdom (where London handles most of Europe’s financial industry, while most of British industry has fled), and not based largely on the fluctuating resources markets as has often been Canada’s experience. In the eight years of president Obama, the United States lost 219,000 manufacturing jobs; in the two years of Trump, the country has added 477,000 manufacturing jobs. This was not supposed to be possible, and this time, unlike in the great Reagan boom, it cannot be dismissed by the left (and it was false in the eighties) as a profusion of “hamburger flippers, dry cleaners and people delivering pizza,” (all necessary occupations).

He writes here of China and oil and he does so most aptly, and I think realistically, you really should read the entire article.

What were for centuries the Great Powers, and for nearly 50 years after the Second World War, the principal Western Allies and the Soviet Union, have been reconfigured. The Soviet Union has been sliced down to Russia with about 40 per cent of the former Soviet population, offering a pallid replication of Gaullist efforts to make France great again by being an annoying gadfly irritating the Americans around the world. Charles de Gaulle was a great statesman, who personified the historic cultural and political attainments of France in its most difficult and dishonoured times; Vladimir Putin is just another chief thug residing in the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, in Europe…

France has elected a complete outsider as president and the brave new regime has been humbled and defiled by the imperishable Paris mobs, the extras and stagehands at 10 abrupt and profound changes of governmental structure in 230 years, and of countless sporting efforts to get the regimes’ attention with riots and vandalism. The splendid boulevards of Paris have seen it all before many times. Mighty Germany, its governing coalition almost worn threadbare by the imprudent admission of a million desperate Middle Eastern and African refugees, has delivered itself over to energy dependence on the feeble gangster-state of Russia while cutting its NATO contribution to half of what it had promised and complaining of American lack of enthusiasm to continue carrying Germany on its crowded and under-appreciated shoulders. Italy is in more profound political shambles than ever; Spain is distracted by a separatist threat that the central government has bungled (it could have learned from Canada but didn’t).

Through it all, the United States, appearing to be disorderly, its establishment and media at war with the occupant of the White House, is demonstrating almost effortlessly how illusory is the idea that any other country or group of countries can challenge its pre-eminence among the world’s nations. Canadians may not like it; the world may try to pretend otherwise, but however the domestic political tides of America may flow, North Korea is on its best behaviour, the ayatollahs are quaking in their voluminous raiment, and all America’s trade partners, including Canada and China, are accepting what amounts to unilateral renegotiation by the U.S. No other country in the world has any appreciable influence at all more than a few hundred miles from its borders (an area that includes 95 per cent of the population of Canada).

And so, 45 years after Mr. Sinclair touched America’s heart at a tender moment, nothing much has changed, except a whole bunch of America’s opponents are laid low, and a new set are on their way to join them. The beat goes on in the Great Republic.

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GOPe and Corporatists

If you haven’t heard yet, Theresa May lost in Parliament, 432 to 202. Which should be a decisive, humiliating result, leading to a change in government, but probably won’t. She is supposed to present her ‘plan B’ to Parliament within three days, and Corbyn has called for a vote of no confidence. FUBAR, in other words. We’ll keep an eye on it.


John Daniel Davidson over at The Federalist wrote about the argument Tucker Carlson unleashed about conservatism, noting what that noted sorta conservative Russ Douthat has commented.

It is time, I think that we have this conversation, as I look around, I see lots of casualties, but let see what the article says.

Over the weekend, Ross Douthat of The New York Times weighed in on the ideological battle sparked by Tucker Carlson’s recent Fox News monologue excoriating GOP elites for slavish devotion to market capitalism and indifference to its negative effects, especially for working-class families.

Carlson’s fusillade provoked a host of reactions from conservatives, some who criticized Carlson for exaggerating the problems caused by capitalism while ignoring its benefits, some who argued he has a point about how capitalism has failed to protect families and create a prosperous working class. “If there is to be a healthy American right, after Donald Trump or ever, this is the argument that conservatives should be having,” writes Douthat, and he’s correct.

Douthat zeroes in on a line from David French of National Review, a critic of Carlson, who wrote: “There are wounds that public policy can’t heal.” Douthat concedes that this is true, but argues it can become “a trap, a cul-de-sac, an excuse for doing nothing.” Too often, conservatives have “leaped to despair without even trying policy.”

He cites a few examples, like the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the disappearance of wages that can support single-income households, but then pivots to censorship and prohibition. Douthat notes that the right was once comfortable using public policy to promote private virtue, “But in recent decades, the right’s elites have despaired of censoring pornography, acquiesced to the spread of casino gambling, made peace with the creeping commercialization of marijuana, and accepted the internet’s conquest of childhood and adolescence.”

Douthat’s point is that while public policy can’t cure every social ill, it can be a “corrective”—if conservatives don’t simply throw in the towel.

There is no doubt about it, we’ve taken a lot of losses in the last almost thirty years. Part of the trouble, not the solution, is the GOPe, which talks a good game, but if you don’t like their principles, well they’ll find others.

‘Market Capitalism’ is a good place to start, it ain’t; it’s corporatism, rent-seeking, whatever you’d like to call it. It is designed to benefit the rich, the large, often multi-national corporation at the expense of the citizen and the worker. It’s not an accident, it’s a feature. See Elon Musk, or Enron, or many other examples.

For most of this, remember that politics is downstream of culture. Culture is where we need to win the culture wars, not politics. And you know, I think the pendulum has nearly reached the end of its swing and is starting to return. Be prepared, the war has merely begun. Will we win? Nobody knows but does it really matter, as far as I can see, my duty is to do the right thing and do it to the best of my ability, and what will be, will be. And as always, God decides. But we have before, many times.

Sunday Funnies: A New Year, Finally

Well, we made it to 2019, for whatever that’s worth. Something I think, but hard to be sure how much, until we’ve been through it. So Enjoy.

I know the feeling well!

Talking to the Cntrl-Lft

And, of course

Starting the year right

Solzhenitsyn at 100

A hundred years ago today Aleksandr Isaievech Solzhenitsyn was born. He is decidedly a man we should read and heed. From Daniel J. Mahoney writing at City Journal.

Solzhenitsyn’s was a long but ultimately rewarding journey. Since early boyhood, he wished to become a writer. One of the key chapters of August 1914 (the first volume of The Red Wheel), depicting the Battle of Tannenberg and the suicide of General Samsonov, was already written in the fall of 1936, before Solzhenitsyn was 18. He dreaded what kind of writer he might have become without the experience of the Gulag. It was in the prison camp in 1945 and 1946, as he describes it in various interviews and in “The Ascent”—his account in the central section of The Gulag Archipelago of how the scales of ideology fell from his eyes—that he was “completely cleansed of any Marxist belief.” His cellmates helped him see the light of truth and the unparalleled mendacity of the ideological lie, the destructive illusion that evil is not inherent in the human soul, that human beings and societies can be transformed at a revolutionary stroke, and that free will is subordinate to historical necessity. Solzhenitsyn’s life is marked by this great paradox: in the camps, cold and hungry, and subject to limitless repression by camp guards and camp authorities, he recovered an appreciation of the purpose of things.

If you understand that paragraph, you will see much evil around you, not as unbound as he did, but evil nonetheless.

Solzhenitsyn wrote with “lucid understanding,” and with no small dose of scorn, about the “Progressive Doctrine,” the inhuman ideology that justified terror and tyranny as no regime or ideological movement had ever justified the killing and repression of real or imagined “enemies of the People.” He showed that the heart of Bolshevism lay in a monstrous coming together of violence and lies that gave rise not to mere dictatorship but to a totalitarianism that transformed betrayal and lying into “forms of existence.”  This totalitarianism demanded fierce resistance, both for the sake of liberty and for the right of the human soul to breathe freely, with the dignity afforded it by God. [,,,]

Solzhenitsyn spoke in the name of an older Western and Christian civilization, still connected to the “deep reserves of mercy and sacrifice” at the heart of ordered liberty. It is a mark of the erosion of that rich tradition that its voice is so hard to hear in our late modern world, more—and more single-mindedly—devoted to what Solzhenitsyn called “anthropocentricity,” an incoherent and self-destructive atheistic humanism. Solzhenitsyn asks no special privileges for biblical religion (and classical philosophy), just a place at the table and a serious consideration within our souls.

In fact, I think he speaks as one with our founders, for an ordered liberty, and as Majoney says, biblical religion. It is not to be inferred though that he thought modern America had it right either, he didn’t.

In a three-part series, starting with The Exhausted West, over Christmas five years ago, my former co-author and my dearest friend, Jessica looked seriously at his Harvard Commencement speech in 1978. It bears review.

He saw a society in which:

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counterbalanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil. 

It is hard to see that nearly forty years later, things are any better; here, as elsewhere, Solzhenitsyn  prophesied aright. He identified the reasons for this very well:

Without any censorship, in the West, fashionable trends of thought are carefully separated from those that are not fashionable. Nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges. Legally, your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day 

The West was, he said, ‘spiritually exhausted’. The ‘human soul longs for things higher, warmer, and purer than those offered by today’s mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor, and by intolerable music.’

I don’t know about you, but here forty years on from that speech, what he says is even more evident to me. Jessica believed, as I do, that the key to the malaise is God, and to use that phrase again ordered liberty, which can translate as liberty under law.

In the last of the series, Sun-lit Uplands, she explicitly compares him pointedly to the prophet Jeremiah, to good effect.

She also quotes this from him, which has much bearing on the present, I think.

A statesman who wants to achieve some– thing important and highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly: there are thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics around him; parliament and the press keep rebuffing him. As he moves ahead, he has to prove that each single step of his is well founded and absolutely flawless. In fact, an outstanding and particularly gifted person who has unusual and unexpected initiatives in mind hardly gets a chance to assert himself; from the very beginning, dozens of traps will be set for him. Thus mediocrity triumphs, with the excuse of restrictions imposed by democracy.

A Boondoggle in Hoosierland

From James Taylor at American Spectator.

Under a renewable energy proposal from Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Indiana consumers would face a 12 percent electricity rate hike, which will cost the average household more than $100 per year in additional electricity costs. NIPSCO is justifying its renewable power rate hike by asserting renewable power saves consumers money, but there’s absolutely no truth to these claims.

Indiana ranks seventh in the nation in coal production and generates 68 percent of its power from coal. Together, affordable coal and natural gas generate 95 percent of Indiana’s electricity. As a result, Indiana electricity prices are substantially lower than the national average. National electricity prices are 10 percent higher than in Indiana.

Unfortunately, NIPSCO wants to put an end to these low prices. It is proposing to shut down two perfectly functioning coal power plants that provide much of NIPSCO’s low-cost electricity. In their place, NIPSCO wants to build expensive wind and solar power equipment and battery storage for when the wind isn’t blowing or the Sun isn’t shining. NIPSCO claims transitioning from affordable coal power to wind and solar will save consumers money, but at the same time that it makes these unfounded claims, NIPSCO is proposing to hike electricity rates 12 percent to pay for the renewable energy “savings.”

NIPSCO is a government-protected monopoly utility, with Indiana state government guaranteeing NIPSCO a profit of approximately 10 percent for every dollar it spends. Accordingly, NIPSCO has a financial self-interest to engage in costly business practices. Building expensive new power facilities, even when existing facilities are working perfectly well, is one of the most effective ways for NIPSCO to ramp up its spending and guaranteed profits, and it does so at the expense of consumers, many of whom will have no knowledge that their electricity bills are about to rise substantially.

In return for NIPSCO receiving guaranteed profits on its expenditures, the Indiana Utility Regulation Commission (IURC) must approve any NIPSCO major investment proposals. In its filing with the IURC, NIPSCO claims its proposal to shut down its coal power plants will save consumers more than $4 billion.

More at the above link.

Which it won’t, not least because windpower installations rarely last beyond 20 years, solar I don’t know, but doubt they are any more durable, and with current technology, batteries won’t last a decade.

It’s pie in the sky bullshit, dreamed up to placate the left, which many of the executives of these companies are of anyway.

But a blast from the past for me. NIPSCO was part of my growing up. As I’ve said, my dad ran a Rural Electric Coop, one of those local associations formed when companies like NIPSCO wouldn’t extend their lines out into the country (mostly farms in those days). Those coops had a love/hate relationship with the privately owned companies. Bought power from them, sometimes even shared poles, but fought like brother and sisters about everything, especially the price of power. In the field, we cooperated fine, which is normal.

So as it happened, dad knew the guy that built NIPSCO from a pretty small municipal water company to the electric and gas utility for most of northern Indiana. Knew him and respected him, and it was returned. They often opposed each other, but each knew the other would fight reasonably fairly.

When I was in my early teens I came by dad’s office one day (most days, really), his secretary waved me off, he had a visitor, not uncommon. I went and amused myself in the shop. A half hour or so later here came dad with a guy in the nicest suit I’d ever seen through our pretty neat but not sparkling shop. He was the CEO of NIPSCO, and the three of us spent a couple hours sitting on shop stools, shooting the breeze. He was a pretty interesting guy to talk to, much more of an office guy than dad was. Learned quite a bit that afternoon. Never forgot how nice he was to me, and how complimentary to dad, either.

Doesn’t happen much like that anymore, that respect for the opposition, the world has changed, and not for the better. Hard men, but fair, now we have soft men (boys really, more than I was at 13) but completely willing to employ any means to win, fair or not. And mostly, that’s what is running our government and our companies, even our unions these days. Running it all, right into the ground.

This deal? Par for the course. Good deal perhaps for the shareholders, certainly for the management, crap for the customer.

No better, no worse than any other alternative energy scheme, really. It’s all the same.

Monday Videos, UK, France, US

Have you been paying attention to Europe, at all? The east is holding firm, but the west seems to be coming unglued. Let’s have a few videos.

Boris Johnson spoke to the DUP recently

A lot of my British friends have reservations about Boris, especially for Prime Minister (I would as well, just as I did with Donald Trump) but what they need more than anything is optimistic leadership that is not owned by Brussels. That pretty much defines Boris.

In my quick read of the so-called agreement, my read is that what it amounts to is the surrender of the UK’s sovereignty, almost completely. Not to mention giving Spain a voice in Gibraltar, which Gibraltar has steadfastly voted against.

He’s a bit out of touch, I think. It IS about Theresa May, although it is based in her policy. But she has clearly lost the confidence of the people.

Meanwhile, in France

Yes, I know, RT. But they all say much the same thing. Except, of course, the BBC, which doesn’t know it is happening, which you’ll understand if you’ve watched their coverage from Washington in the last two years. $7/gal gasoline tends to concentrate the mind, it seems.

If you’re curious still about the witchhunt, here’s Dan Bongino to lay it out

An amazing story isn’t it. And this is fascinating, Steve Bannon at the Oxford Union.

Handcarts to Hell comes to mind, doesn’t it? Well, we’ll see.

 

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