National Sovereignty Rising

2272458246_b77147169e_zWell, we all made it through 2016 for better or worse. It was quite a year, with many political things roiling the waters. A lot of them were merely personal, and of no account to the rest of us. Especially for us Americans, who have dealt with a president for 8 years who is a god in his own mind. Nobody gets to be president without an over-blown ego, the process makes sure of that, but most have a realization that they aren’t God. With Obama, I’m not so sure.

But it was a year of ideas, as well, especially one: National Sovereignty. What do I mean? Let’s let Ben Peterson start us off.

The year 2016 demonstrated the enduring relevance of political ideas. A political idea is distinct from and more fundamental than a stance on a policy or issue. It is a way of understanding political phenomena in light of a worldview. A political idea connects the dizzying array of available facts, forming a coherent vision of what is really happening in the world.

Nearly every political idea involves at minimum three components, corresponding to these questions:

  • What is a good society—in other words, what should the world look like?
  • Why doesn’t it look that way?
  • What would set things right?

Many of the major events of last year revolved around the political idea of national sovereignty. Scholars, journalists, and analysts have attributed Trump’s victory, Brexit, and other nationalist advances to the forces of populism, demagoguery, and xenophobia.

As Mene Ukueberuka, reviewing The Shipwrecked Mind, Mark Lilla’s timely new book on reactionary political thought, argues in the New Criterion, there is also a tendency toward explanations that psychologize these movements and their supporters. Far from signifying mere “irrationality,” the global wave of populist nationalism is partly based on an explicit political idea: that national sovereignty matters.

Trump advisor Steve Bannon—“the man with the idea” as journalist Michael Wolff described him—has presented the national sovereignty idea most clearly, if sparingly. The best place to look for his expression of it is a Skype-in lecture he gave for a 2014 conference at the Vatican. In answering the second question above, Bannon in effect summarized his political views, saying:

I believe the world, and particularly the Judeo-Christian West, is in a crisis . . . and it is a crisis both of capitalism but really of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West in our beliefs.

The “crisis of capitalism” stems from the twin corruptions of statist crony capitalism and excessive libertarianism, which have estranged elites from common people. The financial crisis of late 2007 to 2009—which financiers and securities traders caused, but for which none was really held accountable—is a key episode in the story of how corrupt, globalized capitalism favored elites and left middleclass workers behind. Underlying the corruption of capitalism is a “crisis of faith,” an “immense secularization of the West.”

This decline of faith has crippled the West, which cannot summon the will or foresight to prosecute the “global war” against “jihadist Islamic fascism.”

via National Sovereignty, Political Idea of the Year – Online Library of Law & Liberty. Go and read the whole thing, right now. I’ll wait for you. And then we’ll talk a bit

Back? Good. He makes some really good points, doesn’t he? He also says some things, especially quoting Bannion, that I disagree with. Well, no real surprise there, I wasn’t a particularly strong Trump supporter, and part of the reason is some of his economic beliefs, I think we’d be far better off if the government got out of our business, more or less completely. But it is still a major improvement.

Nor does it preclude international cooperation. A strong United States infers a strong United Kingdom, France, Germany Russia, whoever, and when our interests coincide, we can cooperate, when they don’t we can compete. Doesn’t mean we have to fight about every detail. The world is big enough for us to differ as well as agree.

I think the United States has turned the corner, going back to nationhood. The UK may have, but is much more hesitant, but will eventually, I think. The rest, well, we will learn much this year. But it may well be the year of the nations, rather than the Davos elite. We shall see.

 

Less than a Fortnight

trump-putin-1024We haven’t said much here about Russia. There’s a reason for that. The Adaptive Curmudgeon (wonderful name, BTW) spells out that reason for us and for you.

Nobody regrets this advice:

“If you’re doing a dumb, dangerous thing for a bad reason, or aren’t really clear on the reason… stop it.”

Reasonable people can (and should) reasonably disagree. The proper foreign policy of America, a nation of 300+ million people, is certain to create an array of options and folks will flock to various points on a spectrum. Fine, I get it. It’s all a complex mosaic, blah blah blah.

That said, whatever interests seem to be converging right now on the “antagonize Russia” gambit… please stop. Whatever game you think you’re playing; it’s not worth it.

It’s unwise. Russia is the big leagues. No matter how much you’re cheesed off that the future president lacks a vagina, has bad hair, or doesn’t like Obamacare… it’s not worth going large.

via Eleven Days | Adaptive Curmudgeon Read the whole thing, comments too. That’s something often overlooked. We who write blog posts don’t cover everything, you can learn a lot from our various commenters.

Yeah, mucking about seriously with Russia is just about the most stupid thing we can do. That’s why for the last 50 or so years, we haven’t made a lot of noise about them interfering in all sorts of things. Anybody really think, for example, that the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was a British grassroots outfit? Yeah, me neither. Some bears are best to let lie and sleep. This is decidedly one of them.

The saving grace is, of course, that Putin and Trump are sane, and have little desire to take each other on. That’s great, but it makes me question just what this noise is all about. I often wonder if one of AC’s commenters is right here.

I would only note that President Putin believes in Russia as an independent sovereign nation, and thinks that Western culture is worth preserving.

President Trump also believes in the United States as an independent sovereign nation, and also thinks that Western culture is worth preserving.

Those who are poking the Russian bear do NOT believe in either Russia nor the United States as sovereign independent nations, and are doing their best to destroy Western culture.

The first two paragraphs are givens, I think, and I’m not entirely sure that the third isn’t true as well, noting as the commenter did, that neither of us means the Democratic Party exclusively, there are lots of Republicans involved as well.

In any case, pushing (or trying to) Russia around is a fool’s bet, just as it is with the United States. I think we’ll give AC the last word here, cause I can’t do better, and he deserves it.

We’re both nations of genuine bad asses and we shouldn’t be getting in barroom spats. Doubt me? Ask Napoleon about messing with Russia. Ask Japan about messing with America. We’re both big and slow and goofy but we can both land a punch like no other. Nothing that happened in 2016 merits antagonism.

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.

Happy New Years Day!

And it was

So what shall we talk about to start the year? Could be almost anything, couldn’t it? Got all the same problems we did last year, but hey, I (and I suspect you) screwed off, last night, and the dog ate my homework. So we’ll start off with some stuff from other people. Like this year-end summary from Dave Barry.

In the future, Americans — assuming there are any left — will look back at 2016 and remark: “What the HELL?”

They will have a point. Over the past few decades, we here at the Year in Review have reviewed some pretty disturbing years. For example, there was 2000, when the outcome of a presidential election was decided by a tiny group of deeply confused Florida residents who had apparently attempted to vote by chewing on their ballots.

Then there was 2003, when a person named “Paris Hilton” suddenly became a major international superstar, despite possessing a level of discernible talent so low as to make the Kardashians look like the Jackson 5.

There was 2006, when the vice president of the United States — who claimed he was attempting to bring down a suspected quail — shot a 78-year-old man in the face, only to be exonerated after an investigation revealed that the victim was an attorney.

And — perhaps most inexplicable of all — there was 2007, when millions of people voluntarily installed Windows Vista.

Yes, we’ve seen some weird years. But we’ve never seen one as weird as 2016. This was the Al Yankovic of years. If years were movies, 2016 would be “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” If years were relatives, 2016 would be the uncle who shows up at your Thanksgiving dinner wearing his underpants on the outside.

Why do we say this? Let’s begin with the gruesome train wreck that was the presidential election. The campaign began with roughly 14,000 candidates running. Obviously not all of them were qualified to be president; some of them — here we are thinking of “Lincoln Chafee” — were probably imaginary. But a reasonable number of the candidates seemed to meet at least the minimum standard that Americans have come to expect of their president in recent decades, namely: Not Completely Horrible.

So this mass of candidates began the grim death march that is the modern American presidential campaign — trudging around Iowa pretending to care about agriculture, performing in an endless series of televised debates like suit-wearing seals trained to bark out talking points, going to barbecue after barbecue and smiling relentlessly through mouthfuls of dripping meat, giving the same speech over and over and over, shaking millions of hands, posing for billions of selfies and just generally humiliating themselves in the marathon group grovel that America insists on putting its presidential candidates through.

And we voters did our part, passing judgment on the candidates, thinning the herd, rejecting them one by one. Sometimes we had to reject them more than once; John Kasich didn’t get the message until his own staff felled him with tranquilizer darts. But eventually we eliminated the contenders whom we considered to be unqualified or disagreeable, whittling our choices down until only two major candidates were left. And out of all the possibilities, the two that We, the People, in our collective wisdom, deemed worthy of competing for the most important job on Earth, turned out to be …

… drum roll …

… the most flawed, sketchy and generally disliked duo of presidential candidates ever!

Yes. After all that, the American people, looking for a leader, ended up with a choice between ointment and suppository. The fall campaign was an unending national nightmare, broadcast relentlessly on cable TV. CNN told us over and over that Donald Trump was a colossally ignorant, narcissistic, out-of-control sex-predator buffoon; Fox News countered that Hillary Clinton was a greedy, corrupt, coldly calculating liar of massive ambition and minimal accomplishment. And in our hearts we knew the awful truth: They were both right.

It wasn’t just bad. It was the Worst. Election. Ever.

And that was only one of the reasons why 2016 should never have happened. Here are some others:

▪ American race relations reached their lowest point since … OK, since 2015.

▪ We learned that the Russians are more involved in our election process than the League of Women Voters.

▪ For much of the year the economy continued to struggle, with the only growth sector being people paying insane prices for tickets to “Hamilton.”

▪ In a fad even stupider than “planking,” millions of people wasted millions of hours, and sometimes risked their lives, trying to capture imaginary Pokémon Go things on their phones, hoping to obtain the ultimate prize: a whole bunch of imaginary Pokémon Go things on their phones.

▪ A major new threat to American communities — receiving at least as much coverage as global climate change —emerged in the form of: Clowns.

▪ In a shocking development that caused us to question our most fundamental values, Angelina and Brad broke up even though they are both physically attractive.

▪ We continued to prove, as a nation, that no matter how many times we are reminded, we are too stupid to remember to hold our phones horizontally when we make videos.

▪ Musically, we lost Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, George Michael and Debbie Reynolds; we gained the suicide-inducing TV commercial in which Jon Bon Jovi screeches about turning back time.

Did anything good happen in 2016? Let us think …

OK, the “man bun” appeared to be going away.

That was pretty much it for the good things.

And now, finally, it is time for 2016 to go away. But before it does, let’s narrow our eyes down to slits and take one last squinting look back at this hideous monstrosity of a year, starting with …

via Dave Barry’s 2016 Year in Review | Miami Herald

More, lots more at the link, and it seems pretty accurate to me! 🙂

For me, the biggest stories of the last year are Brexit

Donald Trump

And perhaps sadly, the retirement of Thomas Sowell

sowell-6

Heh!

And these guys sum it up

Two things:

  1. Hillary Clinton will never be president
  2. Have a great 2017

 

A new Trump Tower?

I’m still buried under a mountain of stuff, but shoveling as fast as I can to clean up a field in Louisiana (if you understand that joke, we share a taste in movies). But this is rather important.

It was a feckless and reckless move on the part of Obama, by now that should surprise no one. Krauthammer is right at the end, it’s time to withdraw funding, abrogate the treaties, and evict the whole mess. If they love Zimbabwe so much they can move there. New York could use some new condos, and some more taxable property wouldn’t hurt either.

Whatever happened to:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty. This much we pledge—and more.

John Kennedy had it right.

Likely though, if Trump does it right, this too will backfire with serious unintended consequences for those who wish us, and Israel ill.

Enough is more than enough.

Such a Conservative Cabinet?

donald_trump_august_19_2015_croppedIn yesterday’s post, Jessica was addressing the malaise that so many of us felt under Obama. That feeling that the world was going to hell in a handcart. I shared it, of course, and for some reason, Trump’s election has lightened it. That is not to say that Trump is really a conservative, nothing much in his record would so indicate. One of our commenters, Mike, spoke to this, in fact.

I view Ms. Jessica as half right. There is no question Donald is a reaction to everything she points out above. But Donald is not a Joe. So what is he? Why is he the subject of opprobrium? What behavior has he demonstrated that every politician competing for the same office had not? If he’s not Common… what is he?
He’s our reaction to the ruling class. He’s the antithesis of American ‘liberalism’.
It appears he has enjoyed success without the ever present hand of Government feeding it to him.
He represents a Danger to the Democrat Socialism, that Progressive yet patient Communism, which has permeated our (U.S.) political process to the point we have stopped teaching the Founder’s Enlightenment Philosophy to our children, do not require a single class based in Constitutional Law in order to secure one’s Law degree and are seriously considering the removal of any mention of U.S. History and the U.S. Constitution from our Naturalized Citizenship process.
We have wandered far and are in fact lost.
So this brings us to today.
The fear of what Trump represents is disturbing to our home-brewed Socialists because of the difficulty employing the tools of mass media, which they believe they own, to convince us of how stupid we the people are… this time. They’ve been ‘winning ‘ for so long, when confronted with what appears to be a minor set-back in the grand scheme, they’ve literally lost their Collective mind.

He’s not wrong. He has confounded the left, which is a good sign. But he is not to be trusted, ever, no politician is.

But one of the things I look at in a leader is the people he recruits to his team. That’s because experience says that no one man (or woman) can do everything, at all, let alone well. And here, Trump is doing exceptionally well, to my mind. I firmly believe the old saying: First-rate men hire the best men they can find, Second-rate men hire third-rate men, and third-rate men hire lackeys who will say yes to everything. And here, Trump is proving exceptional, on a level with Eisenhower, if perhaps not General Marshall, who had only one misfire in World War II. Others have noticed as well, from  Paul Mirengoff:

It seems clear that Donald Trump will end up with the most conservative Cabinet of any president in my lifetime. And yes, that includes Ronald Reagan (Steve will correct me if I’m wrong).

How did this happen? Maybe Trump, who never seemed all that conservative, has come to embrace conservatism nearly across the board.

He’s right, I can remember (somewhat vaguely) Eisenhower, and this is by quite a bit the most conservative, and I think, likely the most accomplished as well.

Trump might similarly be prepared to adopt conservative policies on domestic issues for the purpose of keeping his base and his party happy enough to let him do what he wants on the matters he truly cares about.

What does Trump truly care about? Pearlstein says what Trump wants is “to demonstrate that he can make good on his promise to cut through the gridlock and get things done.” I would put it this way: Trump is determined to do a few big things to “make America great again.” [Maybe …]

But the theory that Trump is largely indifferent about a wide range of policy issues and wants only to accomplish a few big things may sell the president-elect short. To write off the selection of Rep. Tom Price as throwing a bone to conservatives probably underestimates the extent to which Trump dislikes Obamacare. To write off the selection of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education may underestimate Trump’s disgust with the state of public education and his affinity for school choice.

Right now, conservatives need not worry much about why Trump has appointed such a conservative Cabinet. The point is that he’s appointed one, and that it likely will help the GOP reverse the statist, hyper-liberal course President Obama has charted and imposed.

via Why such a conservative cabinet? | Power Line Do read the whole thing! ™

For me that’s the bottom line, these are really good men, with bags of integrity. If Trump appointed them to provide cover, he’s going to have loads of internal trouble, because these guys and gals will fight their corner, as they always have. I think Trump knows that, and he appointed them because that is the prescription he thinks America needs to

Make America Great Again

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