Once More Into the Breach, Dear Friends?

American and UK flags flying together

We have spent most of last week trying to explain to Europe why we are quite happy with the election of Donald Trump. As I reflect on what we have said, and read, it struck me that one cannot understand this intellectually. At one point I was asked if I identify as Anglo-Saxon.

Well in a sense, I am heir to that legacy in self-government, and more. But I also combine it with the Viking traditions of my ancestry, and with the specific American ethos. None of these lead to a quiet, and calm citizenry. There is a reason why the Anglosphere is what it is, we are pretty much all this way, if you scratch beneath the surface.

I think this post, written in 2014, explains us fairly well.


On 26 September 1580, a ship docked in Portsmouth, England. That wasn’t unusual, then as now it was one of England’s great ports. But this particular docking would echo through history. For this was the Golden Hind, returning from the first circumnavigation of the world by a non-Spaniard. Soon the captain, Francis Drake, would be knighted on the ship’s deck, by Queen Elizabeth I, and in a few years he would play a key role in the Battle with the Armada.

Elizabeth’s father Henry VIII, did some things that are important to this story, he established the Royal Navy, for the first time it became a force that was always ready. And he took England out of the Roman Church, which allowed her to go her own way, mostly looking outward, and not being involved with European politics as much as before.

But the reason this echoes so loudly in history wasn’t evident that day or even after the Armada had been stood off. It started to become apparent when England went to war with its King in the Civil War and even more so when the second chapter of that war saw the end of the first Empire, and the establishment of the United States.

Because what Sir Francis Drake accomplished that day in Portsmouth, was nothing less than the founding of the modern world, with all its freedom. If you look around at the world we live in. A world without legal slavery, where we are governed by our consent through objective law, and all the rest, you will find something surprising. It is all an English invention. It took England about 800 hundred years to put it together, and the rest of us in western civilization mostly copied it. Too often we forget that as Lady Astor somewhat unfairly said, our revolution was simply, “English freemen fighting against a German King for English rights”.

But now, in 2014, we are watching in horror as an evil group of thugs, misappropriate a religion, Islam, for the purpose of enforcing their will on the world. Nobody can claim they don’t aim high, at any rate.

anglosphere1But once again, the main obstacle between these thugs and their victory are the English Speaking Peoples. We are the ones that could have stopped Hitler easily in say 1934, but we were tired and worried about making a living. We paid for that mistake later, but Hitler and his henchman caused a holocaust of unparalleled scope in Europe. We learned from that and managed to face down Stalin and his successors without ending the world. But as the Soviet Union self-destructed, we declared it the end of history. We should have known better, evil never sleeps, it always looks for room to expand.

And so, we were attacked, in New York, and in London as the new century started, and we responded, as we always have. But this time we tried a kinder, gentler form of war, and attempted to make it easy on the local population, and to help them become like us. It seems as if it may have been a mistake.

The Hollow Men 5And so, here we are, with the weakest leadership our country has had since we entered the world stage in about 1900. They seem to have no clue what to do next.

That’s not surprising, the president has spent his entire life voting present while denigrating the military. Nor has he ever either led or managed anything. And yet, we elected him, twice. I guess we were/are tired of war.

But is war tired of us?

In business, as in war, one must have a strategy (an overriding plan). It seems to me, with an enemy as close to pure evil as ISIS, the only reasonable objective is to destroy it, root and branch, as we did the Nazis.

One level down from that is how are you going to accomplish your goal. Well, kids that’s why we have a military, and all its planners. We knew (and so did the British) on 7 December 1941 the broad outline of how we were going to fight World War Two. It was called RAINBOW. And we went on to execute it, and win, unconditionally. This is a specialized area of planning, and politicians are well advised to leave it to the military, just as I don’t tell a journeyman how to do his job. Give him the tools, and tell him what needs to be done.

And the same is true for tactics, if the guys in the field want an A-10 don’t send a B-2, at least if you can help it. In many ways our forces are best used as a force multiplier, they can do things no one else in the world can do. But a rifleman is basically a rifleman, whether he’s from London, Omaha, or Baghdad.

But the key thing here is, as it always is, the will of the people, and especially the leadership, and that is what worries me. When Obama said these guys are the JV, he spoke the truth, but the JV is much better than the girls 5th grade team, especially if they know that to lose is to die. And the JV will win if the varsity doesn’t show up.

But neither is that preordained, we have not only agency over ourselves but over what we do for and to others, for we are free people, and we are sovereign over our governments. For nearly five hundred years we, the English Speaking Peoples, have built the modern world in our image. We have endowed it with most of the comforts, including a full belly, that we innovated, and with the possibility of making oneself free to act in one own best interest. And so the question becomes, “Have we become too soft, too self-centered, to act once again for the good against evil, or will we once again rise to the challenge to make the world a better place, for ourselves, certainly, but also for others, whom we will never meet or know?”

And some of our nationalities have won their fame with all of us

For a long time now, they have been known as “The Ladies from Hell”, and they have earned it, from friend and foe alike, by their uncompromising stand, for freedom from oppression, no matter the odds.

But this isn’t “proud Edward’s power, with slavery and chains”. This is a bunch of ragtag so-called terrorists, who are really no more than well armed bullies. Are we, the guarantors of freedom for five hundred years really going to sit back while they murder and enslave ancient civilizations? All Europe will do is finance them by paying ransom but, our people learned about that long ago, when we found out how hard it is to get rid of the Dane when you pay the Danegeld.

A bit more than seventy years ago, a guy by the name of Hitler, said he would wring England’s neck like a chicken. Churchill said “Some Chicken, some neck”. A friend of mine, an Englishmen reminded me yesterday that we are the same people who Churchill was speaking of. Maybe we should begin acting like it again.

When have we ever not heeded this call

Truly, it is time to once again

And this explains, above all reasons, why the west is free,

and why Donald Trump will be President, and England shall be free.

The day after

John Keble

[Another one of Jessica’s wonderful posts, this one from last year. Neo]

Secular Christmases, like our lives in general, have a great build up to important events, quite often the event itself does not quite live up to it, and then the day after is a bit of a let-down – and that’s where we are now!  I did think of letting everyone have a day off my musings as a late present, but I promised dear Neo that I would fill the gap, and in thinking about this, it hit me that there is a parallel with our religious life. For those who have had a conversion experience, is there the same sort of anticlimactic feeling, or does the new life into which you are born supersede this? I’d be interested in hearing.

I’ve never had a conversion-experience. From my earliest memories of Sunday school as a little girl, it all made sense to me; God is there, and I have never felt he was not; even when he seemed far away, I knew it was me who was far off, not him – and he was always holding out his hands to receive me when I stopped being a brat. I know some here, and elsewhere, who have had the experience of ‘lapsing’ and coming back, but again, my life has been more mundane. That’s why it would be interesting to hear from you if you have been through a conversion about what happened next.

In many ways, we like dramatic moments in our lives, and we may even need them as an antidote or corrective to the mundane nature of much of what happens to us everyday. But is that the right way to respond to what God has given us? My beloved John Keble provided quite another way of looking at this in a poem written in 1822 which is now a hymn which includes two wonderful closing verses, which are our present on this day after the Christ Mass:

The trivial round, the common task,
will furnish all we ought to ask, —
room to deny ourselves, a road
to bring us daily nearer God.

Prepare, O Lord, in your dear love,
for perfect life with you above;
and help us, this and every day,
to live more nearly as we pray.

He suggests that we can ‘hallow’ – that is make holy – even the meanest thing we do if we will do it for God. There is nothing, however humble it is, that cannot be done well in God’s name – and that can include resting from our labours.

As some of you will know I have not been very well, and for a time it was thought that I might not get well again. I moved from a time of immense busyness through to one of complete inaction – and I’d imagine that the ‘bends’ which deep-sea divers get could be a bit like that – the sudden absence of pressure makes one dizzy and ill. Our modern life – with the Internet ever there – does but little to prepare us for quietness and reflection. That’s why a well-spent Advent can be a blessing because it helps prepare us for the sudden cessation – even if for many it is replaced by another sort of activity at Christmas.

One feature of the way in which Advent has all but disappeared as a concept in our society is that we miss the way it paves the way for Christmas. Advent, in the church, is a time of penitence and waiting, which is then succeeded by the joy and the feasting of Christmas – all the way through to the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. But I see now that even clergy, after the climactic events of Christmas day itself, take time off and see this as an opportunity for their own holiday. I can see why, but think it a shame, because we have just entered a time of celebrating the most important event there will ever be. So, here at Neo’s, we’ll be remembering some of those celebrations which seem to becoming lost. Christmas is the beginning of our thankful celebrations – not the end. It is a time for giving thanks. And for those of us still clearing up – I recommend Keble’s lines.

O Holy Night

nativitybg22I wanted to give you something for Christmas Eve as we are thinking about the birth of our Saviour. I found I didn’t have much to say, at least that was new or interesting.

Most of what I want to remind you has been said, and better than I can, and on this blog, no less. Last year Jessica wrote on Christmas Eve and she said this:

In the Christian calendar, Christmas is of secondary importance when compared to Easter; although the former brings us the Word made Flesh, the latter brings us eternal life. As our society here in the West sees little in either of these concepts, it tends to focus upon Christmas, because it is a time of the year when merchants can move much merchandise; let there be a celebration of all the wealth we have; that is a temptation to which only a rich society can succumb.

But that first Christmas Eve was not given to the rich, the powerful and the elite; it was given to the poor, the marginalised and the ordinary. There was nothing special about Joseph or Mary in human terms. Joseph probably got a decent living from his hands, but it is unlikely that his house was anything special; and Mary, well, a young girl with child is, to any decent society, and object of love and sympathy, but nowadays someone would be telling her she was too young and should be considering her career, and pointing her to ‘Planned Parenthood’. These were simple people.

God could have chosen anyone for His purposes, but He chose these people. we cannot know why, except to know that they were obedient to Him; they did not question His will, they did not argue or suggest they knew better; in them the self-will of our first parents burnt low. Joseph did what men through countless ages have done. He earned his living by the sweat of his brow and he looked after his family. He does not seem to have made a great fuss about things, and even when he discovered that his betrothed was pregnant and he was not the father, being a righteous man, he was minded not to have her stoned, but just to set her aside; sadness rather than wrath seems to have been his reaction; and he believed what he was told in his vision. Upright, straightforward, Joseph did his duty, and that first Christmas Eve it involved making sure there was somewhere for the baby to be born where his betrothed and the child could be sheltered; the primeval task of all men.

Her post is called Silent Night, Holy Night and it is one of the best posts on the site.

Frankly I have little to add except for this, my mom’s favorite Christmas song, one of mine, and you all know how I feel about [a] Celtic Woman.

About this new Cabinet

quote-don-t-expect-to-build-up-the-weak-by-pulling-down-the-strong-calvin-coolidge-6-34-56A bit more about Trump’s cabinet, and why I too, think it very exceptional. From Stephen Hayward

I tweeted out a few days ago that so far, President-elect Donald Trump’s senior level and cabinet picks are to the right of Ronald Reagan in 1981, and would find the approval of Calvin Coolidge. Naturally I wasn’t disappointed in my expectation that it would provoke the usual liberal clichés in response, because Coolidge caused the Great Depression, dontchaknow. To which I always like to share the following observation of a once-eminent person:

“A whole generation of historians has assailed Coolidge for the superficial optimism which kept him from seeing that a great storm was brewing at home and also more distantly abroad.  This is grossly unfair.  There was much that was good about the world of which Coolidge spoke . . .  the twenties in America were a very good time.”

And who wrote this? It was uber-liberal John Kenneth Galbraith, in his book The Great Crash. As we say today, doesn’t fit the narrative.

But even more fun is Shaun King in the New York Daily News yesterday, who complains that “There’s a huge education level drop-off with the Trump cabinet picks.” King is appalled that Trump isn’t picking people with advanced degrees from Ivy League universities, and is instead appointing, you know, real people—almost as if Trump actually believes in government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” and that the government can be run by someone other than self-certified elites. Just drink in the delicious presumption of the aptly-named King:

Donald Trump will be the first President of the United States in 25 years to not have a graduate degree of any kind. Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and had a law degree from Yale University. Even George W. Bush had a Harvard MBA. Trump has B.S. in economics from University of Pennsylvania, but no advanced education.

“Even” George W. Bush. . . Nice touch that even, since everyone knows Bush was an idiot. Can you believe it? What was Harvard thinking? […]

But it gets better:

Secretary of State John Kerry has a law degree from Boston College. Rex Tillerson, who Trump nominated for the same role, didn’t go to grad school at all.

Let’s see: Tillerson has run one of the largest global enterprises in history, quite successfully it appears. Kerry has only run his mouth. And not very well at that. Boston College should recall that law degree perhaps.

via Revenge of the Nerds | Power Line

Indeed, how will we survive with people that have done something in the real world instead of the artificial worlds of government and academia?

And then there is this, from Paul Mirengoff also at PowerLine

The mainstream media seems upset with Donald Trump for picking very rich people and successful generals for key positions in his administration. Where are the lawyers, the college professors, the public administrators, and the activists?

In a more rational world, it would be hard to argue with Trump’s preference for people who have been extremely successful in the business world and the military. These backgrounds are no guarantee of success in public life, but they seem like a better indicator than backgrounds in most, if not all, of the professions listed in the paragraph above.

Some readers may be surprised to learn that historians generally view Warren Harding’s Cabinet as one of the best ever. Harding, who intended to rely very heavily on his Cabinet, put a high premium on success. Herbert Hoover, his choice for Commerce Secretary and the man who became his go-to adviser, was arguably the most successful man in America at the time.

For Secretary of State, Harding selected Charles Evan Hughes. Though Hughes lacked substantial foreign policy experience, he was one of the most able men in America, having served as Governor of New York and Supreme Court Justice.

Harding is, of course, remembered for his two bad picks, Henry Fall at Interior, and Henry Daugherty as the Attorney General. Paul says this, and I agree.

Henry Fall, the Interior Secretary, gave us the Teapot Dome scandal. Fall was a well-regarded Senator. Harding had no reason to believe he would use his Cabinet post to enrich himself. Had Fall been extremely wealthy, it’s unlikely he would have.

Henry Daugherty, Harding’s attorney general, was a crony. Nearly everyone understood that Daugherty was bad news. In selecting this corrupt man, Harding put loyalty ahead of the good advice he received. Harding has only himself to blame for the damage Daugherty inflicted on his legacy.

via TRUMP CAN’T HELP IT; HE PREFERS EXTREMELY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE

That pretty well covers what I see in this cabinet. They may or may not be the best people ever for these jobs, but they are the best that Trump has found, and they are far beyond what we have dealt with for the last eight years, in my estimation.

Steve ends with this: “Or we could just return to the idea of self-government. Whatever will we do without the cool kids in charge?”

My answer is, “Probably a hell of a lot better.” Experience says the real world is reality, government and academia is something else entirely, and the United States needs to succeed in the real world.

 

Friday Roundup

Cleaning out some tabs, interesting stuff that we’ve been hoarding.

 

Well, yeah, he makes some sense to me, at that,

From Melanie Phillips:

The hand-wringing by western politicians and commentators over the appalling humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo reveals something far worse even than the nauseating virtue-signalling of pointlessly blaming themselves for having decided not to bomb Syrian President Assad’s forces. It reveals they still don’t understand just how morally culpable they actually are.

The current breast-beating is all about how the US and Britain made a terrible mistake in not bombing Assad’s forces years ago in this dreadful war.

But the issue that made them back away was valid then and remains valid now: that those who might come to power if Assad were removed would be as bad, if not worse, for both the Syrian people and the rest of the world.

People were, however, totally missing the point then just as they are doing now. Assad is the puppet of the Iranian regime whose infernal purposes, in gaining regional power in order to perpetrate genocide against Israel and jihadi terrorism against the west, he dutifully serves. Iran needs Assad in power. Without Iran, Assad would not be committing these atrocities. To stop him, the west needs to stop Iran.

Seems to me, she has a point, rather as if we had let Germany conquer Russia while we dealt with Japan. The Schwerpunkt the Grossgeneralstab called it. Apply force where it will do the most to damage the enemy, not the least.

Our heroes are old and stooped and wizened, but they are the only giants we have. Today, when we talk about Americans boldly going where no man has gone before, we mean the ladies’ bathroom. Progress.
-Mark Steyn on the passing of John Glenn

Churchill on America and Britain

No one can think clearly or sensibly about this vast and burning topic without in the first instance making up his mind upon the fundamental issue. Does he value the State above the citizen, or the citizen above the State? Does a government exist for the individual, or do individuals exist for the government?
I hold that governments are meant to be, and must remain, the servants of the citizens; that states and federations only come into existence and can only by justified by preserving the ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ in the homes and families of individuals,
I judge the civilization of any community by simple tests. What is the degree of freedom possessed by the citizen or subject? Can he think, speak and act freely under well-established, well-known laws? Can he criticize the executive government? Can he sue the State if it has infringed his rights? Are there also great processes for changing the law to meet new conditions? Judging by these standards, Great Britain and the United States can claim to be in the forefront of civilized communities.

Still so, as proved this year.

Heh!

doughnuts

All three from Ace’s

An American Hero Story here

In a remarkable World War II story that almost went untold, a devoutly Christian US Army sergeant refused to turn over his Jewish soldiers to the Nazis, even after a gun was placed to his head. Now, 30 years after his death, the Jewish people are showing their appreciation for his bravery.

Roddie Edmonds was a humble man and didn’t speak about his experiences in World War II, even when his children inquired. When he passed away over 30 years ago, his widow gave his wartime diaries to their son, Baptist Pastor Chris Edmonds, in Maryville, Tennessee.

Sergeant Roddie Edmonds in uniform.Photo by: Yad Vashem/Wikimedia Commons

A few years ago, one of the pastor’s daughters read through the diaries for a college project and was amazed at what she found. Despite being taken prisoner of war shortly after arriving in Europe, her grandfather was a hero.  He had saved hundreds of Jewish soldiers, motivated only by his Christian belief.

Edmonds was a Master Sergeant with the 422nd Infantry Regiment in the US Army. On December 16, 1944, just a few months after arriving in Europe, Edmonds found himself fighting in the disastrous Battle of the Bulge. The last major German offensive campaign of World War II, it caught the Allied Forces by surprise, resulting in 89,000 casualties. On December 19, Edmonds and an estimated 23,000 other American soldiers were taken prisoner by the Germans.

The sound of American Heroism: “We are all Jews,” Edmonds calmly replied.

Iran’s defense minister: Trump could trigger “world war” and “destruction” of Israel if he provokes Iran

Thinks he's qualified to tell the United States what to do

Thinks he’s qualified to tell the United States what to do

Well! I guess we’ve been warned.

During his campaign, Trump was strongly critical of the agreement that saw Iran agree to limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions on its oil industry and finances.

In September 2015, the billionaire told a crowd: ‘Any commander-in-chief worthy of defending this nation should be prepared to stand up on 20 January 2017 [inauguration day] and rip to shreds this catastrophic deal.’

He also called the deal a ‘disaster’ and ‘the worst deal ever negotiated’.

This has led to panic among US allies in the Gulf, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan has claimed.

via Iran’s defense minister: Trump could trigger “world war” and “destruction” of Israel if he provokes Iran

And so the Jackals circle and whine. My thought is that if Iran is hell-bent on having a war with the United States and our allies, as it has seemed since the 70s, then it would be best (least bad, really) to just do it now, before they get nuclear weapons. Ambitious sods, aren’t they? One remembers that Saddam’s Iraq fought this bunch to a stand still for 10 years, I see little to make me think they have learned anything.

Still, I suppose if they want to try this on, at some point we will have to accommodate them, even if to us it looks like a waste of blood (mostly theirs) and treasure. We do have maritime trade, and our allies, including Israel to protect, and maybe a sharp lesson would be salutary for others as well.

For me, the key lessons from the last 16 or so years are these.

  1. Think hard, before voluntarily going to war, it’s almost never a good idea.
  2. We have no mandate to fix every problem in the world. We do have allies we’ve pledged to defend.
  3. If one must fight, fight hard and win decisively.
  4. This ain’t the Pottery Barn, if we didn’t start the war, we have no obligation whatever to clean up the mess, or pay for it. We may choose to do so if we reckon it’s in our interest, but it’s voluntary. You want to play with the big kids, well the big kid rules are in play.
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