The Unobama

In writing about the speech at the UN that is what Scott Johnson at PowerLine calls President Trump. I think he’s correct. There is as we all said, much to like in the speech, but other than ‘Rocketman’, there is little new. Most of the themes are classic American policy, and therefore not what Obama was selling. Obama was an aberration, a creation, mostly, I think, of our troubled race history, or rather how our race history is perceived by many, mostly to their benefit.

There is nothing revolutionary, or even unusual about this, for example:

In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution — the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.

The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are: “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history. In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

That’s simple ground truth, although a lot of politicians likely would wish it otherwise. But its not, it’s who we are and who we have always been. So is this:

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.

Or this

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.

Or especially this

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was “effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

There’s not much in any of that to gladden a Neo-con’s heart. I don’t see him going out into the world looking for a fight. But neither is he going to hide in the basement and wait for the UN. The image we all use so often is correct, “There is a new sheriff in town”. And his job is the restoration of the rule of law, and that is what he was elected to do. America is lucky (although we made that luck, with hard work), we don’t really need the world, we could get on pretty good all by ourselves. That’s not true for almost anybody else in the world, and that too is why America leads.

But in the final analysis (for now), John Wayne, as J.B. Books in The Shootist outlined proper American foreign policy as well as anyone.

I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them

I think President Trump understands that quite well.

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In the Belly of the Beast

So President Trump spoke to UN General Assembly yesterday. It was very good to watch the world as they saw once again what an American president looks and sounds like. One of my favorites along this line, roughly quoting from memory, “I will do what is right and proper for America, first, and the rest of the world second, and I expect all leaders of countries to do the same.” In any case, here’s the speech.

There’s a lot to like here if you’re an American patriot or a friend of America, and I found almost nothing to dislike. From “Welcome to New York” to “Rocketman” and all the way through it was pretty much a speech that should make us proud that “We, the People” chose this man, against the advice of those who would mislead us to lead us. Do I agree with everything? In this speech, pretty much. Day to day, not so much, but that’s life. Like St. Peter, I’m sometimes a bit quick with the sword, sometimes a helping hand is more appropriate, but the sword must be kept at hand.

You’ll note that there is some bleating from the purveyors of fake news sometimes called ABC at the end. The main point I’ll make about it is this. Yes, war in Korea would be a horrible, expensive, bloody mess, and we should try very hard to avoid it. But a nuclear attack on the United States, Japan, and South Korea, would be far worse. Yes, our military would take, perhaps, many casualties, and you’ll find no stronger champion of the US soldier, sailor, marine, and airman than I am, but in the last analysis, that is their job, to protect the United States and our allies. They knew that when they signed up, almost all of them, by now, when the United States was already at war. That is a price that many of our men and women have been willing to pay, from Crispus Attucks on down. And that willingness is also why we admire them so, often calling them the best of us, because they are.

But we cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed because some people might die, all people die, someday. And any cause worth living for is also worth dying for. It’s wrong to throw away their lives for little reason, but it’s also wrong to be paralyzed by the fear of taking casualties.

Too often we (especially cossetted civilians) forget:

First: The Mission

Second: The People

In fact, sometimes the military itself forgets, especially in the press of events, and dealing with not enough people to do what needs doing. That is not to say our people (and their families) are not important. They are, critically so, but we cannot consider them more important than the mission, for without succeeding in the mission, their lives (and ours) are forfeit.

But for me, at least this speech marks the return of a recognizably American leadership, after an interregnum that was quite worrying on many levels, one of them well stated by General MacArthur, back in 1933, when he was Chief of Staff of the Army.

“The unfailing formula for production of morale is patriotism, selfrespect, discipline, and self–confidence within a military unit, joined with fair treatment and merited appreciation from without. It cannot be produced by pampering or coddling an army, and is not necessarily destroyed by hardship, danger, or even calamity. Though it can survive and develop in adversity that comes as an inescapable incident to service, it will quickly wither and die if soldiers come to believe themselves the victims of indifference or injustice on the part of their government, or of ignorance, personal ambition, or ineptitude on the part of their military leaders.”

Cans at the End of the Road, and Danegeld

Remind you of anything from the 30s?
From Fox News

Where do you kick the can when you reach the end of the road?

We’ve been appeasing Kim Jong-un and his predecessors, mostly in deference to China ever since the cessation of hostilities in 1953. But time grows short. It is one thing to pay Danegeld to a dictator that one can regard as a mosquito, simply a nuisance, but it is something else entirely when that nuisance becomes an existential threat to civilization. The thing about Danegeld is that the Dane never goes away, and often grows stronger on unearned income. That has happened here.

I understand that China thinks that it is unfair that the United States does not propose to allow a crazy clown that they supposedly control to threaten the United States. Well, tough. The United States will defend the homeland, it’s what we do, ask the Japanese. We will do it, however seems effective to us, whether it means imposing more sanctions, or turning North Korea into a sheet of glass. And that could include parts of China as well.

China has a binary decision here, they can be part of the problem, or they can be part of the solution. One has benefits, and the other has costs, and they could be quite high.

Gary Gindler writing at American Thinker has some unconventional ideas. Personally, I think they are a bit too far out of the box, but some of their components may not be.

It’s time for Trump to make an unconventional move – a move no one expects.

It is better not to increase the U.S. military potential in the region.  On the contrary, it is better to completely withdraw all American troops from both South Korea and Japan.

In fact, American troops need to be relocated not into the continental U.S., but to Taiwan.

This move by Trump will make China stop playing the role of an outside observer.  China will be faced with a choice – either China joins Trump on this issue, or she will never get back Taiwan, where the headquarters of the 7th U.S. Navy Fleet will now be located.

Of course, America’s allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, in the face of the withdrawal of U.S. troops, will quite justifiably demand new guarantees of protection from the U.S. government.  America should renew its lend-lease program from the Second World War and lease over to Japan and South Korea, for a term of 99 years, all the nuclear weapons they will ask for.  The military budgets of these countries will skyrocket.  China’s inaction toward the Fat Kim regime will lead to the fact that in addition, China will get two unfriendly nuclear powers armed to the teeth at her own border.

If Trump adds to this the ban on trade with all countries that have trade relations with North Korea, then China, with four fifths of its economy dependent on the U.S. market, will suffer the most.

Like I said, unconventional, maybe too much so, but maybe not. Remember the cold war was won in October of 1962 when the Russians turned the ships carrying missiles to Cuba around. This could work the same way. And it might not be an altogether bad thing to give the Chinese a fairly civil lesson in western manners, either. Just because they can make our gizmos cheaper, mostly because of their standard of living, does not mean they are our equals, we thought of those gizmos, after all, they didn’t.

There’s a point there, Americans tend to flexible thinking, it’s how we built this joint. When we start thinking rigidly and linearly, we are no better than the Sovs were, or the Romans, and if we keep it up, we will join them on the scrapheap of history.

Albert Einstein said,

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.

I think it’s time to change the rules.

Civic Virtue and the Republic

cicero-vice-virtue-liberty-justice-quoteOne of the Republican (as in Roman Republic) virtues which the US has exemplified is independence of spirit.  Men took responsibility for their actions; it was not unknown for senators to fall on their swords if they dishonoured their office. The ideal of the Roman world was Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (519 BC – 430 BC) (and the answer to the question is yes, it was named after him). When his son was convicted of a crime and absconded, Cincinnatus had to pay a huge fine and retired to his small farm. But when the State was threatened by the Volsci, the Senate called upon him to lead the State. He laid down his plough and returned to high office, which he discharged with great distinction; after victory was assured, he returned to his farm. In later life he returned once more and did great service; once again, he retired into private life. He became the beau ideal of the Patrician Roman. A man to whom service to the Res Publica – the common weal – was all.

Your American history has many such men, from the great George Washington, through Jefferson and Lincoln and into more modern times, a man like Eisenhower or Truman. These were men of almost Cincinnatan virtue. They were men who gave to the State and asked for little and ended by being loved by the people.  Has there been one such since Ike?  And if not, is that not a sign of something?

As America came onto the world stage, she did so as a Republic which disdained and distrusted Empire. Yet, did her defence of world freedom end by forcing her into imperial attitudes in some ways?  Should the USA have done what Cincinnatus did – retire back to its farm when it had saved the world?  But do men of power easily surrender it and its privileges?  I don’t recall Washington, Jefferson, Truman of Ike cashing in on their time in office; I can’t recall many recent presidents who haven’t once they retired.

A Republic is a difficult form of government because it depends on civic virtue; it needs men of power to restrain themselves as Cincinnatus did. For a Christian America that act of renunciation was perhaps easier, as it is part of the Christian message. That is not to say non-Christians cannot exercise civic virtue, but it is to say that the Judeo-Christian heritage provides a context in which such virtue is not just its own reward.

A large military costs. An interventionist foreign policy costs. The notion of empire in all its forms is corrupting of civic virtue, because you have to start off believing in your right to intervene in another country and tell its citizens what to do; you start with the belief in your own superiority. This corrupts. However much you do what you think it right for those other people, you are not them and you are assuming the right to tell them what to do in their own country. Well, if these people attack you, you have to attack them. But you don’t have to rebuild their country. You can help them, but they must do it for themselves – and that was the ‘white man’s burden’ about which Kipling spoke. But its problem was what it remains – that if you treat other people like children, they will not grow up, and you will find yourself with an expensive foster-child.

Has power and the temptations of empire corrupted the American Republic? I think there is a case for saying it has damaged it, but my faith in the instincts of a free people is stronger than my fear.

First Published by Jessica on May 10, 2013

The Anti-Trump Bourbons

There is a new article out from Victor Davis Hanson, and as always it is exceptional. Let’s take a look.

Just seven months into Donald Trump’s administration we are already bombarded with political angling and speculations about the 2020 presidential race. No one knows in the next three years what can happen to a volatile Trump presidency or his psychotic enemies, but for now such pronouncements of doom seem amnesiac if not absurd.

Things are supposedly not going well politically with Donald Trump lately, after a series of administration firings, internecine White House warring, and controversial tweets. A Gallup Poll has him at only a 34 percent positive rating, and losing some support even among Republicans (down to 79 percent)—although contrarily a recent Rasmussen survey shows him improving to the mid-forties in popularity. Nonetheless, we are warned that even if Trump is lucky enough not to be impeached, if he is not removed under the 25th Amendment or the Emoluments Clause, if he does not resign in shame, even if he has the stamina to continue under such chaos, even if he seeks reelection and thus even more punishment, he simply cannot win in 2020.

In answer to such assumed expertise, one could answer with Talleyrand’s purported quip about our modern-day Bourbons that “They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

Namely, Trump’s enraged critics still do not grasp that he is a reflection of, not a catalyst for, widespread anger and unhappiness with globalization, interventionist foreign policy, Orwellian political correctness, identity politics, tribalism, open borders, and a Deep State that lectures and condemns but never lives the consequences of its own sermonizing.

In particular, the current conundrum and prognostications ignore several constants.

Do Americans Really Believe that Pollsters and the Media Have Reformed?

One, despite the recent Gallup poll, most polls still show Trump’s at about a 40 percent approval rating—nearly the same level of support as shortly before the November 2016 election. That purported dismal level of support is pronounced to be near fatal, when in fact it is not.

That is an important point. Why on earth would anybody believe either the partisan press or the (pretty much) partisan pollsters. They haven’t been right about anything in … (well, I don’t remember, how did Dewey’s Presidency go again).

Do Americans Really Believe the Messenger Nullifies the Message?

As in 2016, many of those who voted for Trump would prefer that he curb his tweets, clean up his language, sleep eight instead of five hours, and follow all the conventional-wisdom admonitions offered about his misbehavior. But that said, nearly half of the country is probably still willing to overlook his eccentricities for several reasons.

Trump now has a presidential record of eight months. Despite the media’s neglect of it, one can sense changes by just getting out and traveling the country. Even in rural central California, one can feel that it really is true that there is a 76 percent drop in illegal immigration, and immigration law is being taken seriously as never before.

It was no accident that the National Council of La Raza without warning dropped its racialist nomenclature and is now UnidosUS (“Together, US”). Why is the Democratic Party now feigning a focus on class, not racial, issues with its new “Better Deal” FDR/Truman-like echo?

Lot in that, isn’t there? We are, for the most part, smart enough to understand that Trump’s Tweeting, if it has any meaning at all, is his method of bypassing the media, which is why they hate it so, especially because it is effective. It’s also one way he controls the narrative, by trolling the Democrats, the Anti-Trump Republicans, and the media (Yes, I did threepeat myself there, there is not a hairsbreadth of difference between them, and we could add more such as the deep state and others).

The trade deficit is even shrinking and lots of companies have announced relocations to the United States, in reaction to record cheap energy costs and a perceived favorable business environment. And all this comes at a time when the United States is neither seeking optional military interventions nor backing away from thuggish aggression, but is trying to thread the needle in restoring deterrence along the lines of “principled realism.”

The point is not just that no one can know the ultimate fate of the Trump agenda, but rather that so far media hysteria and congressional calcification have not stopped perceived conservative progress. The bottom line is that Trump did prove to be far more conservative than Republican establishmentarians had forecast. To his supporters, Trump’s message is usually distinguished from Trump, the messenger. Politically that means pragmatist supporters can focus on his agenda not his tweets, while Trump’s die-hard voters like his Twitter combativeness, viewing it as a long overdue media comeuppance. […]

One of the strangest ironies of the present age is that Trump’s populism (e.g., “our farmers”, “our vets”, “our coal miners”, “our workers”), which saved the Senate and House for Republicans and delivered the greatest Republican majorities on the local and state level since the 1920s, is either ridiculed or ignored.

Yet the more the economy picks up, the more the administration prunes back the regulatory state, and the more the United States restores deterrence, the shriller will be the argument that Trump’s tweets and behavior nullify solid achievement. Just watch.

Will the New Democratic/Progressive Party Really Rebuild the Blue Wall?

Fourth and finally, the less publicized split in the Democratic Party is probably worse than that of its Republican counterpart. The latter did not stop Trump’s victory in the Electoral College, the former helped ensure Hillary’s “Blue Wall” collapsed.

Continue reading The Anti-Trump Bourbons: Learning and Forgetting Nothing in Time for 2020As always it’s quite wonderful, as one would expect from one of America’s greatest minds. So enjoy, and take comfort in his words, a fair amount of damage has been caused, but nothing is beyond repair, let alone America. Especially as long as men like VDH are writing the truth.

North Korea backs down

It was sort of amazing the last couple of days, as we watched the whole world wet its pants worrying about the Norks. Except, of course, those who had the duty. They, Trump and Mattis, doubled down and told the fat kid to behave himself. Well, look at that, he apparently decided that launching missiles at Guam wasn’t such a good idea. America doesn’t do a lot of sabre rattling, partially because it’s not really our style, but more because a fair share of the world knows (or at least used to) that when Washington draws sabres, people, mostly other people, mostly those who wish America harm, die. Bevin Alexander wrote a few years ago about where the American character was formed…

Imagine, if you will, the sense of awe that seized the first settlers at Jamestown in Virginia, in 1607, at Plymouth in Massachusetts, and at the other landings along the coast of North America in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Here were little English communities hacking out perch sites on the very edge of an unknown land. … But when they finally reached the great chain of mountains called the Appalachians and gazed out from its heights, they were utterly confounded-before them an even more boundless, more astonishing land stretched out to seeming infinity toward the setting sun.

This was the moment when the American character was formed. Whatever limits of class and status the settlers had brought with them from Britain would fall away to insignificance in this prodigious land. When astute individuals looked toward the limitless frontier that they now knew would beckon continuously on the western horizon, they realized that no king, no aristocracy, could crush them. At any time they could cross this frontier and put all of Europe’s restraints behind them. This had immense and overwhelming effects throughout the colonies. Americans, whether they crossed the frontier or not, were destined to be forever free.

Those guys, and the great majority of us today, meant it. It’s part of the reason Trump won. It’s bad enough to hear our America derided by a bunch of Eurowienies and Asiatic dictators. To have the President join in was intolerable, and so we decided not to tolerate it.

Si vis pacem, para bellum

Alexander also made the point that the United States, like England before us, looks upon itself as an island. We will tolerate many things in the world outside, but if you threaten us, and our people, it is most unlikely to go well for you. One could ask the ghost of Nikita Kruschev about that. What was it like to be the Soviet premier, after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Too many forget, Jack Kennedy was regarded as a weak president after the Bay of Pigs, and perhaps he was – until he was pushed. William Teach tells us:

Remember the apocalyptic (non-secular, of course) talking points from most left wing news outlets, pundits, Congress critters, etc, about how Trump’s tough talking was taking us to nuclear war? Some others in the Trump admin, such as James “Mad Dog” Mattis had tough words, too. Guess what?

Kim Jong Un Backs Down In Nuclear Showdown With Trump

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un decided Tuesday not to fire ballistic missiles at Guam, reserving the right to change his mind if “the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions,” according to North Korean state media.

Kim appears to be attempting to de-escalate tensions to prevent conflict between the U.S. and North Korea. After the U.N. Security Council approved tougher sanctions against North Korea for its intercontinental ballistic missile tests, the North warned Wednesday that it was considering launching a salvo of ballistic missiles into waters around Guam in a show of force demonstrating an ability to surround the island with “enveloping fire.” That same day, President Donald Trump stressed that North Korean threats will be met with “fire and fury like nothing the world has ever seen.” For a week, the two sides hurled threats and warnings at each other repeatedly, leading some observers to conclude that the two sides were close to nuclear war.

But, Kim blinked.

Kim, according to North Korean state media, told the North Korean strategic rocket force that he “would watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees,” giving the U.S. time to reassess the situation. “He said that he wants to advise the U.S. to take into full account gains and losses with clear head whether the prevailing situation is more unfavorable for any party.”

American foreign policy since before there was an America could easily be summed up, and perhaps it was best by John Wayne in The Shootist.

 “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”

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