The Internet as a Small Town

This is fascinating, and to my mind explains much. From The Assistant Village Idiot on Chicago Boyz.

A lot of 20th C American fiction was about a small-town boy leaving his oppressive upbringing. It is one of those themes that combines truth and untruth. Small homogeneous communities have pluses and minuses. David Foster recently postedabout how the internet in general mimics those small-group interactions, and social media accentuates those negatives.

Gavin Longmuir gave examples of peer-pressure groups that believe in Political Correctness, in contrast to the rest of of the society, which is less in sympathy with it. Academia, the media, the politically active, the bureaucracy. I would add in students, which while part of academia, are not who we usually think of when we use that term. Those groups have a strong tie-in with each other that might not be immediately apparent, and that is the social competitiveness of youth. Bear with me for a moment on that. That high school students care deeply about what is fashionable and who is cool is well-known. There is something about this that is developmentally normal, as each age cohort must learn to get on together to take on responsibility in the future. This used to be more limited, as children coming of age did not spend so much time exclusively with each other. They were in larger families, and those families were together more (not always a good thing, but generally so). They had more contact with extended family, multigenerationally. They worked at jobs earlier, went to churches, and had more contact with physical neighbors, all putting them in contact with people of different ages more than is common now. As the years of education increased, children spent increasing time with each other. Since, say, the 1950’s, high school and college students increasingly have their own world.

And they have money, or parents who will spend money on them for things like, oh, college. Suddenly there are lots of people who care what the opinions of 16-26 year olds are. High-turnover entertainment targets that group: music, movies, video games, youtube, sports. Political activists are disproportionately young. Unless they can get jobs doing activist work, they stop having time once they get jobs, spouses, or (gulp) children. Even for Trump rallies, lots of people who might go just can’t, because

The rest is just as good, do follow the link, and read the thoughtful comments as well.

True, isn’t it? The activists on the left are almost uniformly young or from academia. But the converse holds (mostly) as well. Most of us on the right (especially those of us who have been mugged by reality, otherwise known as live in the real world) tend to be retired.

Couple reasons I see for that, firstly the mob can’t touch us, we can no longer be fired, and so can speak the unvarnished truth. And we might even know what unvarnished means. Another reason is that we, like college kids, have time. Mostly our kids are grown and out of the house, we’re no longer working 60 hours a week, and just maybe we miss it. I do, boredom is why I started blogging.

But in many ways, we are different, we learned long ago that while good and evil really do exist, there are infinite gradations, the devil is as rare as the archangels. It’s essentially another bell curve. Most are in the middle.

That’s why we can call George H. W. Bush a good man even as we excoriate many of his policies. We’ve also learned to expect incompetence rather than malevolence, even sometimes when it should probably be the other way around.

The points made about Facebook and Twitter are valid. I’m on both, for about 5 minutes o day on average. It’s a means of publicizing the blog, not an enjoyable activity for me. My experience of blogging is that, overall, it is a much more intelligent form of communication. Here we can take real ideas, and formulate them well, and if we have good commenters, we can refine them as well.

To extend the small town metaphor, which is something I know well, I’ve lived all my life in them, and all that the writers here have said is true, both good and bad. But if Twitter and Facebook are the greetings and knockdown brawls of the streets and playgrounds, which is pretty close I think, then blogging is the neighborhood coffee shop and the pub, where things get done in a small town. Not the fake kitsch of Starbucks and a lot of fake English pubs, but the local place where the sign says EAT or BAR, and normal people flow in and out, and most know each other. Every small town in my experience has one. In fact, I know of one, where when the owner decided to retire, they formed a coop to keep running it. It’s that essential. Informal, persuasive, sometimes passionate, sometimes earnest, sometimes even funny, depending on the writer. A mosaic really, of actual life.

And perhaps that explains why most stand-alone blogs that last are moderate to extremely conservative. That’s what living in the real world, as opposed to academia/government does.

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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.

Treason is an Ugly Brexit

So Theresa May’s Brexit is not Brexit bill is supposed to be voted on tomorrow. There are many reasons it should be defeated, and she should be replaced. Here’s one:

From Melanie Phillips, with links to the source documents:

Three days ago, a letter of great importance about Mrs May’s faux-Brexit deal was sent to MPs. The importance lay not just in what it said but who was saying it.

The authors were the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, and the officer who commanded the British forces in the Falklands War, Major-General Julian Thompson.

Both men are committed to Britain leaving the EU. Both are horrified by the way the Prime Minister is betraying not just the 2016 referendum vote but the interests of the United Kingdom.

Neither man can be said to be extremist, xenophobic or stupid, the characteristics that so many Remainers attribute to those who voted to leave the EU. Both men are instead conspicuous British patriots who have devoted their lives, formidable intelligence and unmatched experience to the defence of their country.

Presumably it was for that reason that last month No 10 Downing Street singled these two men out for reprimand when its rapid-rebuttal unit sought to combat the swingeing criticisms of Mrs May’s deal by a range of eminent signatories. The names of Dearlove and Thompson were on this list, but only they were thus addressed. It was the first time that the Prime Minister’s office had ever administered a public dressing-down to a former head of MI6.

On Friday evening, saying that this riposte revealed “a worryingly poor understanding of the issues”, Dearlove and Thompson published a detailed rebuttal of Number Ten’s claims on the Briefings for Britain website, a letter sent to MPs and a 12-point summary rebuttal.

Their account of how this shocking deal would compromise Britain’s security, with the last paragraph highlighted, should be circulated as widely as possible.  Given its importance, I reproduce the 12-point rebuttal (published on the Reaction blog) in full below. [as do I. Neo] You can access the more detailed version on Briefings for Brexit here.

DEARLOVE AND THOMPSON 12 POINTS

1 The ‘deal’ surrenders British national security by subordinating UK defence forces to Military EU control. No 10 reveals complete failure to understand the legally prescribed general principle of EU association and Military EU documents.

2 The ‘flexible partnership’ is not on offer: only subordination to the inflexible pooled law of the EU. The defence documents show that if the UK participates in EU defence it accepts 3rd country associated status. Officials have been caught acknowledging in private that the Government has known about these strict EU participation criteria since Theresa May authorised joining the Military EU defence frameworks between November 2016 and June 2017. These participation criteria include adherence to the full scope of EU defence policy plus structural engagement as a rule-taker on intelligence, space, financial contributions and the European Defence Agency. Understanding this, Sam Gyimah MP resigned as a Minister, prompted by his engagement with the Galileo satellite programme.

3 The EDA’s Dirk Tielburger confirmed that there would be ‘no flexibility’ in the participation rules for the UK if it took part in the European Defence Fund. The MOD’s head of science and technology Dr Bryan Wells said in early 2017 that the UK would require a proximity to EU rules and structures which ‘resembled that of Norway’ if the UK were to stay involved in EU Defence Fund projects.

4 Norway voted clearly not to join the EU. The Norwegian elite therefore engineered de facto membership as a rule-taker only.  The UK Government has consistently said that the UK aim was for a relationship even more restrictive than Norway’s. On 29 November 2018, Government called for ‘the broadest and most comprehensive security relationship the EU has ever had with another country’. The “Kit Kat Tapes” reveal that the UK Government seeks ‘no gap’ in its application of obligations under the Common Foreign and Security Policy after the UK has let the EU.

5 Paul Johnston, the UK’s representative on the Political and Security Committee, said “We’ve deliberately been more descriptive than prescriptive. What we hear from the other side is sometimes rather – sort of – technical, legalistic: ‘Well you don’t understand about third country relationships’.

6 The idea that the Government will be able to create a ‘flexible framework’ is contradicted by the principles of EU defence autonomy. The clear, binding and published obligation to submit to CSDP alignment has been deliberately obscured. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK can be only a rule-taker in defence and security. Cyprus sought confirmation from the EU Commission that the proposed UK involvement in CSDP did not permit a decision-making role. The EU Commission wrote to Cyprus reassuring that UK involvement would not involve decision-making. The UK would be involved solely as a rule-taker.

7 Most serious of all, while knowing the truth, the Government has, for more than one year, refused to confirm that the UK would be subject to a structural and institutional relationship with the EU on the sharing of intelligence. However, the Government’s paper on security produced by Cabinet Office on 28 November 2018 finally confirms that this structural, institutional relationship would in fact be created. American and Five Eyes allies are quite clear that a structural relationship with the EU in the intelligence area will harm our key alliance, contrary to No 10’s assertion otherwise.

8 No 10 states:”The UK is leaving the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, the European Defence Agency and all other EU defence structures. There will be no subordination. We will retain full sovereign control of our armed forces, and will decide when and where we wish to cooperate”. This is complete and dangerous nonsense. The insistence on UK involvement in the EU’s defence programmes stated throughout the exit agreements, plus four separate Government policy papers before them, mean that the Government is putting the country into a position where EU participation criteria are inescapable. On the European Defence Agency, Government has said it wants a ‘cooperative accord’ placing the UK into ie under EDA programmes and initiatives.

9 In contrast to the alternative offered by the WTO, the Withdrawal Agreement will disadvantage UK defence industries and the UK Government as Europe’s largest purchaser of defence equipment. If we leave on World Trade Rules, WTO will grant the UK entry to the Government Purchasing Agreement exemption for defence equipments which will give both global free trade and greater certainty to the UK defence sector. No 10’s stated position is the opposite of the truth.

10 The EU has developed new frameworks and programmes which have the potential to duplicate and detract from NATO in 20 separate areas from science and technology to logistics, airlift and eventually emergency chain of command. President Macron’s Verdun interview in particular, and Mrs Merkel’s European Parliament speech, make plain that Military EU is intended as a rival to US power and therefore to NATO. Any institutional, structural relationship with the EU on the sharing of intelligence brings the risk of breaking the Five Eyes Alliance and therefore an inevitable threat to British national security. The Technical Note on Exchange and Protection of Classified Information of 25 May starkly displays the danger, revealing that, on its misguided misunderstanding of what it implies, the Government places intelligence exchange at the core of its offer to “build a new, deep and special partnership with the EU…fundamental to cooperation across the future partnership” (Cls 1-2). Given that, unlike Canada or the USA, the UK will be compelled to apply the EU’s CSDP, the EU Global Strategy (the EU’s flagship document that was agreed by the UK at EU Council) will rule. This document calls for a hub-and-spoke intelligence arrangement between the EEAS, EU INTCEN and the intelligence capabilities of the CSDP states.

Although the Government’s 28 November Security paper indicates the potential for non-classified information to be shared on an ad hoc basis, it is silent about the sharing of classified information. It conceals the expectations of the EU institutions with respect to the growing and gathering intelligence environment of the CSDP participant states.  These structural relationships threaten the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance that is the bedrock of western security. The Government has to choose between the anglosphere and wider world and structural subordination to Military EU. It has chosen Military EU which is absolutely the wrong choice. It is therefore an inescapeable fact that the Withdrawal documents pose a real and present threat to UK national security.

11 A minimally competent negotiation over the last two years should have hammered out a free trade agreement but did not do so. Therefore leaving on 29 March 2019 on World Trade Rules is now the only way. The UK Government passed up the opportunity to obtain a free trade deal with the EU by spending months messing around with the concept of a joint rulebook and common customs areas, being ambushed and bogged down by the entirely artificial Irish border issue and ceding the £39bn ransom without conditions.The way this deal and set of promises and future agreements has been composed is actively in conflict with the UK’s interests. In defence, foreign policy and intelligence, the EU finds itself given an unconditional de facto pledge preemptively by Mrs May to continue as a rule-taker only with a level of UK commitment which resembles the current relationship but without membership. The Technical Note of 24 May (Clause 25) states that a defence treaty containing the administrative agreements, intelligence deal and association agreements will be signed as early as possible in the transition as an international treaty under prerogative powers provided the EU believes that deal adequately commits the UK to the EU defence rulebook.

12 The EU will use defence industrial cooperation as a lever to coerce the UK via instruments which have scope to grow beyond recognition. The wider industrial and trade relationship can be used by the EU to force the hand of the UK to submit to incrementally increased levels of policy transfer in all other areas since everything is linked to everything else. There is absolutely no commercial or industrial gain for the UK from being in these structures since the WTO offers superior terms without need for negotiation or ransom.

Just as the EU will be empowered to demand concessions to escape from the ‘transitional period’ customs union once the UK has ceded sovereign power to do so to EU institutions – Macron has already spoken of access to our fishing grounds as his price – so the EU could demand yet deeper access to our defence and security assets as the price of release from the ‘backstop.’ Mrs May has already pre-emptively surrendered leverage from the UK’s defence and security assets as well as from the ransom payment and over independent escape from the transition period. Transferring defence sovereignty and compromising the crown jewels in our Intelligence relationships is a bridge far too far in the Cabinet Office’s stealthy efforts to lock the country into perpetual alignment with the EU.

Less than 50% of our export economy is linked to the EU, with which we run a £95 billion annual trade deficit. Only 10% of UK businesses actually trade with the EU. Most of the British economy has nothing to do with the EU and the people will not sell themselves into a colonial vassalage for the convenience of the 8% of the economy represented by ‘just-in-time’ manufacturers. As we stated the people are even less open to a transactional offer now than in 2016. World Trade Rules are to be welcomed, and there is nothing to fear in this. As we stated in the Message to the Prime Minister: “No risks are greater than Mrs May’s terms of surrender”. It is well established that the UK has no legal obligation to pay anything, especially not for nothing. It is therefore correctly named as a ransom and ransoms should not be paid.”

There is a word for what Theresa May is doing here, and in the old days it would have resulted in a trip to the Tower of London, and then a walk to Tower Hill. It’s an ugly word, not heard much these days. It is called treason.

For whatever reason she proposes to give the entire sovereignty of the United Kingdom to the EU, making it in effect, a colony. And for this, she proposes to pay the EU more than £39 Billion.

I note that this will also put a large hole in US and Commonwealth defense. The five eyes mentioned are the UK, The US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, who in intelligence matters work essentially as one. That understanding does not extend to any other country in Europe. Nor should it, they simply are not secure enough.

In addition, UK and US forces work seamlessly all around the world. Only with Britain would we have committed to placing entire USMC squadrons on their Queen Elizabeth class carriers, and spent years helping the RN train for large deck operations. That too, as near as I can tell, will end with this deal.

If I had a vote, it would be to do exactly as the citizens directed the government to do. To leave the EU on WTO terms. But this deal is so horrific, that even staying in the EU as present now, is better.

I’ll say this, Theresa May has done a remarkable thing. She has managed to unite Remainers and Brexiteers

If the Conservatives have the sense of a drunken donkey (which is questionable) by Friday Boris Johnson will be PM and Jacob Rees-Mogg Chancellor.

Update: I see on Guido that Sky News is reporting that the vote will not be heard tomorrow. Which settles nothing, although it does cement May’s position as Britain’s premier can kicker.

 

A Day of Infamy That Changed the World

Yesterday was, of course, Pearl Harbor Day, the day when we commemorate the sneak attack which brought us into World War II. It changed the world and our role in it irrevocably. I don’t have a lot new to say, here are my thoughts.

We often talk of World War II, it was a major series of events in American and world history, as long as those survivors were in charge, things were better than ever, as they leave the stage, we are seeming to come face-to-face with the fact that they went to easy on us, and the discipline to succeed in the real world appears to be lacking. We need to look back and take the lesson that America was taught starting today, 73 years ago.

73 years ago today, America was attacked at Pearl Harbor. We were thus thrust onto center stage of the 20th Century’s biggest conflict and the most clear-cut war for liberty in the history of the world. It’s a day to remember the sacrifices made by that generation, who are now leaving us at a very rapid pace. They saved the world for freedom, this would be a very good day to thank them. In this video, I want you to listen to resolve of Franklin Roosevelt, in it you will learn much about leadership in a free country.

My friend Mac, The Lean Submariner brings us a sea story, but a true one, about a man that was there, and who won the Medal of Honor there.

The United States in 1941 was tense and filled with anticipation about the war in Europe. But nothing could prepare the nation for the events that were about to transpire. The nation and the Japanese had long been on a collision course because of the nature of their two cultures. But the population at large had no sense of the grotesque nature of that clash that would occur in the coming days. Or the cost for both nations over the next four years.

 

Washington Evening star. December 06, 1941,

“Silent Prayer Banned At Japanese Shrines

Silent prayers for the dead, which have been said at shrines and temples in Japan ever since the great earthquake of 1924, have been banned.

The Shrine Board in Tokio has ruled that praying silently is a “Christian custom alien to traditions” and requests that, instead, people give two deep bows and two handclaps.”

On the night before December 7, there was only one reference to Japan in the paper which served the nation’s capital.

That is a story not told nearly often enough. BZ Mac!

Over at Chicago Boyz, Sgt. Mom brings us a fictional story of the how the day affected lives, and still does. It may be fiction, but I think it true as well. And a reminder, should we need it, of those who wait, sometimes forever for their love to return.

(I was inspired last year about this time to do a fictional short for the Luna City universe, drawing on certain family memories of that time. The story itself is included in this collection,)

Adeliza Gonzalez-Gonzales – who was never called anything but ‘Adi’ back then – was just thirteen when her older brother Manuel – Manolo to the family, Manny to his Anglo friends – came to Papi and Mama and said to them, “Papi, I want to see more of the world than Karnes County, an’ at the Navy recruiting office, they say that I’ll get a paycheck nice and regular, and I can work on ship engines that are bigger than this house. Besides, everyone says if America gets into a war, then they’ll be drafting men my age, an’ I don’t wanna be a soldier, marching around in the mud and all that. The Navy lives good, and they say that the food is great. Can I have your permission, Papi?”

Mama got all pinch-faced and weepy, because Manolo was her favorite and oldest child. Papi sighed and looked solemn and grave, saying, “Manolo – mi hijo – if this is what you truly want, I will sign the papers.” To Mama, he added, “Do not cry, Estella, can you see your boy as a soldier, following orders?”

“But he still must follow orders – the Navy is as military as the army,” Adeliza piped up, and Manolo jeered and replied, “Nothing like the same at all, Adi!”

Manolo packed a few things in a cheap cardboard suitcase, and climbed aboard the bus to the city, and in time over the next three years the postman delivered hastily-scrawled letters and postcards; letters with odd postmarks and postcards of splendidly colored landscapes and exotic places. Manolo came home on leave once, in the summer, splendid in his white uniform and round white cap, carrying a heavy duffel-bag over his shoulder with apparent ease, seeming to have expanded from a boy into a man. Manolo was greatly excited. His ship was being transferred from the West Coast to the Hawaiian Islands. He brought presents for the family, a breath of fresh air and tales of travels in exotic far lands. Later, he sent his little sister a scarf of silk gauze, printed with a map of the Hawaiian Islands and pineapples and exotic flowers. Adi put it in the chip-carved box where she kept her handkerchiefs and her most precious small possessions. From that time on, a tinted picture-portrait of Manolo in his uniform sat in pride of place on the cabinet radio and Mama kept a candle burning before it always, a candle dedicated to Saint Peter, who had the particular care of sailors.

That is some powerful writing, and when I read it yesterday, I missed that it was fiction. But it doesn’t matter, I think, it may not be any one  in particular, but I suspect it is all of them. The results of the day still echo down time. That war affects almost everything in the world, and the fact that we won it, is the basic fact of the 20th century, the reason it is called the American Century. There were indications before, but that really started on 7 December 1941, as America went to war.

 

A Turning Point

From The Spectator.

On Tuesday, MPs will face something rare: a Commons motion which really does deserve to be described as momentous. It will set Britain’s place in Europe and in the world for years to come. The vote will place an especially heavy burden on Conservative MPs, for they have the power to inflict a hefty defeat on their own government, an administration which has no majority and which governs thanks only to a confidence and supply agreement with the DUP. It is all too easy to see where defeat on Tuesday could lead: to the collapse of the government, a general election and the arrival of Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

Theresa May’s deal has been rejected by MPs on the left and the right, by radicals and moderates. It promises to leave us in a Brexit purgatory, neither in nor out, obliged to accept EU regulations and rules on trade without having any say in the making of those rules. MPs might accept a temporary transition if a free-trade deal was guaranteed to follow. But the reason that her government was the first ever to be found in contempt of Parliament was its refusal to release legal advice that shows there are no guarantees, and no guaranteed exit from a backstop that is described as temporary.

So far, more than a hundred Conservative MPs have said they will vote against the deal. This number will almost certainly shrink by the time of the vote, but all opposition parties say they will oppose the deal — bookmakers are offering odds of four-to-one on the bill passing. Afterwards there will be huge pressure on her to resign, possibly as a price for the DUP agreeing not to bring down the government.

How the rebels behave following the expected defeat will be crucial to the future of the country. It is quite possible that her signature Brexit plan, into which she has vested what remains of her authority, suffers the largest defeat in parliamentary history. If so, she might resign. If a new leader is needed, the process will have to be very rapid — something which is hard, but not impossible, to achieve under the current rules covering Tory leadership elections. It would not be acceptable for the party to indulge in a two-month leadership election campaign while the clock ticks down to a no-deal Brexit on 29 March. The process would have to be condensed into a matter of days.

Mrs. May has got her country into one hell of a mess. There are at least two existential crises involved in the vote on Tuesday. One of them is whether the United Kingdom is an independent country or a colony of the EU. Because as the ratchet tightens, and it will, Britain will become Brittania to the new Rome in Brussels. There is a horrible bit of irony here. I know many Brexiteers, and uniformly their vote in the referendum was cast to regain British sovereignty, not primarily for economic reasons.

Still they, and I, recognize that Britain is by any measure the most dynamic, innovative force in Europe. It always has been. Britain is where the modern world was born, and dragged the rest of Europe out of medievalism. From where I sit, they are the prototype Americans. And do you know what cry echoes around England these days? “No taxation without representation!” Part of the reason we get along so well, they really are our cousins.

The other thing that is connected in here is this. When the Conservative Party (which is far more leftist than the GOPe) stabbed Margaret Thatcher in the back, causing her to resign, they were out of power for close to a quarter century. There are a lot of conservatives in Britain, and essentially they have no party. While we’ve been more or less able to stage a coup in the Republican party, the Tories are much more centrally controlled than any US party. But here is a prediction for you. If May’s plan passes, and it may well, the very fact of it will destroy the Tories. Which may actually be a good thing.

The other thing being voted on Tuesday is nothing less than the legitimacy of Parliament, itself. Like us, the British know that the people are sovereign, delegating the power to rule, in their case, to the executive in parliament. But in the case of Brexit, the people themselves told Parliament what they wanted, and Parliament and the executive are in the process of ignoring those instructions. The majority that voted to leave is not in a very forgiving mood.

In fact, I have heard something I never have before. Englishmen quoting an Englishman, who wrote a document that was adopted in 1776, especially this part:

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security

Those are radical words. When Jefferson wrote them they created America, essentially ended the First British Empire, and caused a world war. They are just as dangerous today. And now, like then, they are essential to freedom.

The best or maybe least worst outcome? Defeat the bill, fire May, and come out on WTO terms. If the EU doesn’t like it (and they won’t) they can come and negotiate in Westminster. After all, we are talking about the fifth largest economy in the world here – it’s not prudent to treat them like a naughty child, especially when your house is falling apart, and the only people who might help are Britain’s friends.

Our friends in Britain are doing something unusual this weekend, they are protesting publically. Good on them. Something else I noticed in the video yesterday, a symbol that the Canadians have borrowed, and are using correctly, that the British might consider, as well. Even amongst American symbols, it is one that symbolizes the fight against tyranny well.

 

A New Old Ally?

This is interesting. From Pablo Kleinman writing in The Federalist.

Brazil, officially known until the late sixties as The United States of Brazil, was a close American ally before the start of the Cold War. In World War II, it contributed 25,000 troops to the Mediterranean theater, playing a very relevant role in the 1944-45 invasion of Italy. Its navy and air force participated in the Battle of the Atlantic from mid-1942 onwards.

At the end of the war in Europe, Brazilian troops had captured more than 20,000 Axis POWs and had almost 1,000 men killed in action. Brazil hosted at Natal the largest U.S. air base outside its own territory, and, at Recife, the U.S. Fourth Fleet. This while Argentina flirted with the Nazis and Mexico remained oblivious and even hostile to U.S. needs. Even though this was Brazil’s first foreign war, their contribution was so significant the United States offered the country the chance to take over an Occupation Zone in Austria.

The military governments that ruled Brazil in the ’60s and ’70s adopted nterventionist “developmentalist” domestic policies and a neutralist foreign policy that moved it away from its American alliance. The United States was partly to blame for this, as it sought to distance itself from Brazil’s military-led governments. After democracy was restored in 1985, the country’s foreign policy continued drifting further to the left, and even more so when it was governed by viscerally anti-American former Marxists between 2003 and 2016.

In the past few decades, Brazil participated with troops in important peacekeeping missions in the region, especially as the leader of the stabilization force in Haiti between 2004 and 2017. As the most important American ally in Latin America and the second largest country in the hemisphere, Brazil would be expected to further engage in – and lead – peacekeeping military interventions in the region, and to have a more bold and assertive, American-friendly foreign policy. An updated and beefed up Brazilian Armed Forces would be an ideal partner for the American military and could serve as an effective (and perhaps be perceived as a more legitimate) stand-in for U.S. troops at deploying a stabilizing force in trouble spots around the region.

Interesting isn’t it? I knew Brazil was an ally in World War Two and did some anti-submarine work, but not much more than that. It would be indeed nice to have a full-fledged ally in South America. And so, some of the possibilities.

What’s not very well known about Brazil is that, despite its colorful Latin ways, it shares a lot of common cultural traits and values with the United States, more so than any other country in Latin America. Brazilians look up to America, and the United States ranks as the number one destination of Brazilian overseas tourists. Since 2013, more than 2 million Brazilians visit the United States as tourists every year, despite a cumbersome and demanding visa application process.

Like America, Brazil is a profoundly Christian country. It has the largest number of Catholics of any country in the world (130 million, or 65 percent of the population), one of the largest numbers of evangelical, Pentecostal, and Baptist adherents (estimated at 44 million), and the third-largest representation of Mormons in the world. In fact, the American-founded and based LDS Church named a Brazilian apostle, the first from Latin America, to its Quorum of Twelve Apostles this year, the highest body of leadership in the church.

Besides being religious like Americans, Brazilians also have an entrepreneurial mentality, and they like both country music – they have their own style – and rodeo. Brazil currently has a higher percentage of entrepreneurs and small business owners than the United States does. According to a 2017 Pew study, Brazil is one of the most pro-American countries in the hemisphere, more sympathetic to us than both Canada and Mexico. This despite decades of widespread anti-American sentiment and indoctrination in academia, the media, and in government.

For well more than the past decade as a tech entrepreneur active in Brazil and as an activist in Latin American conservative and libertarian political circles, I have become convinced that Brazilians are not just ready, but would be thrilled to become America’s best friend in the region, especially if this increased their international stature and prestige.

Hmmm. Well, I can’t say he quite convinced me, even with Bolsonaro coming in as President, known as the Trump of South America, with cause. But he makes the case well enough, that we should surely look at it. After all, he is correct that we have far more in common than most countries.

And if you take a look at the map, they are right in the middle of where many of our problems in the hemisphere come from.

Certainly no harm in talking with them, and then seeing where it can lead. Friends (and allies) are where you find them.

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