Safety First?

Should we really be putting safety first? Sure, it’s important to us all, and we should try to be safe. But does it override all other conditions? There was a story a few years ago about police and fire responders who watched a man drown because they didn’t have the proper personal protective equipment. Is that proper? If not, why not? Anna Mussmann over at The Federalist thought about this the other day.

“Be safe,” we shout. It would be nice, of course, if everyone also made an attempt at kindness, wisdom, courage, and compassion; but safety is the one thing we demand.

Safety is a code of conduct that transcends class and creed. It is a duty all have been raised to acknowledge, and therefore it allows us to speak to others, to tell them what to do. We aren’t supposed to chastise other people’s children in matters of morals or manners, but no one blinks at, “Don’t do that, or else you’ll get hurt.” No one is shocked at rules developed “for your own safety.”

In a religion of safety, it is only natural that suffering is the ultimate sin. […]

And we are reminded that safety isn’t a virtue at all. Because when a shooter is active, real virtue doesn’t hog the safest spot. Virtue tells others, “Here, stand behind me.” When fires roar through neighborhoods, virtue runs toward the smoke and flames to evacuate hospital patients from buildings surrounded by scorching wind. Real virtue is dangerous. Real virtue actively chooses the path of pain and potential suffering.

The violence in Vegas and the destruction in California’s wine country are both terrible reminders of the brokenness of our world. Yet in the dark shadow of these events we see also the breathtaking beauty of love and self-sacrifice. We see that the cold faith of materialism—the brutal selfishness of a religion that puts our own physical wellbeing above all other things—is not enough.

Because, of course, self-sacrifice-as-virtue doesn’t make any sense unless reality is bigger than human life. People who give up their own lives in order to save others are either the ultimate criminals against truth, or else they are witnesses to the truth of an eternity that changes the meaning of what is good and what is evil.  And national tragedies force us to ask which of those statements is a lie.

She’s right, you know. We don’t honor Audie Murphy, or George Washington, let alone The Light Brigade because they put themselves first. They cared about themselves and did their best to protect themselves, but it wasn’t the most important thing, was it? That was the mission, whether it was taking the Russian guns, founding America, or protecting his comrades, something mattered more than their safety.

Granted we are well advised to attempt to be safe, we are not likely to accomplish much by throwing our lives away, but ‘Safety First’ is a false religion. Other things, other people are more important.

If one talks to almost any of the many military heroes of America, one finds that whatever they did to earn that bauble was done to save somebody else. That is our definition of a hero, a man or women who is prepared to sacrifice himself for another. Anna ends with this, and it summarizes quite well.

Our neighbors suffer because they are sinners. So are—and will—we all. The question is not how to escape the pain of being human. The question is: how ought humans to suffer? We have seen the first responders, the courageous bystanders, and the self-sacrificial victims who tried to shelter others. All are witnesses to the truth that humans are more than a body to be kept safe. Humans possess a soul. As the old revival meetings told us, souls can be saved; but Jesus also tells us “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Our culture values safety above all things. In the end, this teaches us to value only ourselves. The real tragedy is that as we rush about protecting our bodies, we are losing our souls.

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The Courage of Cowards

This whole Weinstein thing just grabs on and doesn’t let go, as far as I can see. There is no excuse for him, just as I never heard one for Bill Clinton, or Jimmy Savile, or for Ted Kennedy. I can understand how they got that way, to a point, but I can not excuse it. The mark of a man is how he treats those he has power over, and these four and many others fail abysmally. There will be more, and I suspect in other cities, particularly Washington, and likely London. I note there are quite brutal rape accusation against Weinstein in Britain.

But while the fault is theirs, and their’s alone, and one hopes the earthly penalty is sufficient, others bear some blame as well. As I said yesterday ‘casting couch’ has been a cliché for decades. Sure some part of it was normal guys wishing for an opportunity. But you, know, most of those ordinary guys would never have used sex to be paid to advance someone’s career. Lust is one thing, and essentially prostitution is another. But it happens, it always has, and if not watched, it always will. That’s why Mike Pence’s rule about drinking and dining with women, not his wife is so wise. It negates not just the temptation but the appearance of temptation.

But the victims do bear some blame here, as well. This behaviour has been covered up for decades. Why? Because none of them was willing to pay the price for doing the right thing. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but when you cover for a rapist, you sentence another woman to be raped as you were. I understand that you might have lost your career, and that’s a shame, but instead, you chose to lose your self-worth. Was it worthwhile? Dov Fischer has a superb article up at The American Spectator on this. It is most aptly title The Courage of Cowards. I strongly recommend that you read it. A few excerpts follow

Five years later, I found myself employed in a significant role within a very different kind of corporate structure where, it came to my attention, one of the Board members, a singularly powerful figure in the body, had been harassing women. Two separate women came to me privately, each separate from the other, each telling me her respective account — and their accounts were verifiable. I went home and said to my wife: “I think I am in another one of these spots. If I report to the rest of the Board what I now know, there is no doubt in my mind that they will have no choice but to demand the guy’s immediate removal from all Board influence, and they never will be able to let him on that Board again. But I also have no doubt that, once that dust settles, they will come after me for blowing the whistle. So I have to make a decision.”

My wonderful wife looked at me with eyes that essentially said: “So what’s the question? You know what you have to do.”

And she was right. There was no question. I am no feminist — au contraire — but this was not about the politics of vagina hats and burning bras. This was a matter of human decency and the spiritual holiness that exists in every person. I knew what I had to do.

I blew the whistle internally. The Board appointed an internal committee to investigate independently. The committee came back affirming my report. The harasser’s role as an influential Board powerhouse ended. He never returned to that Board, and he was demoted and sanctioned severely beyond that.

Soon after, predictably, his friends’ backlash against me hit hard from within. I ended up leaving that place of employment.

Best thing that ever happened to me.

That’s gut check time, isn’t it? Something evil going on that you can, perhaps stop, but there will be a price to pay, win or lose. Personally, I’ve been in variations of that spot, and like his wife indicated, it’s not much of a decision. But I’m a man, and I was trained not to run from trouble, but to take my best shot at fixing it. I said man there, but what I really mean is a responsible adult, we all know plenty of women who are the same way. I was raised according to the old Irish adage, The first duty of the strong is to protect the weak. All of these people, abusers and victims as well, fail the test. The abusers will hopefully face man’s justice, the others will be asked one fine day about it, I warrant, by a higher judger, and there are no appeals from that judgement.

There was Ashley Judd, less than a year ago, at a “Women’s March.” It was a “Women’s March” that barred and disenfranchised the whole huge swath of American women who do not share the radicals’ leftist agenda. Speaking to those attending, Ashley Judd ripped into President Donald Trump. She became profoundly obscene, reciting a “poem” that bore fantasized intimations of perversion and incest. Oh how brave she was — “speaking truth to power” — by regaling a leftist crowd, whining men and women and whatever pronouns now are persondated (not “mandated”) in California — with a hateful radicalized leftist attack on the Republican President.

That is not “courageous.” That is not “brave.” There is no downside for a Hollywood figure to attack conservatives, Republicans, Christians, the Catholic Church, or Orthodox Jews before one of their hooting echo audiences. Those audiences lap it up. They love it. They reward such attacks with adulation and iconization. It is the “courage” of late-night talk hosts lambasting the President or the Republicans to their self-selecting echo chambers of leftists, while knowing full well that the conservatives and the Republicans are not in the Stephen Colbert audience or viewing on television when they instead can be watching Fox News or reruns of Last Man Standing or Quick Pitch on MLB or the cooking or other food channel or a movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or reading a book or even going to sleep at 11:30 p.m. because, as many conservatives do, those people have to get up in the morning the next day to go to work for a living.

There is no courage in attacking the President or the conservative justices of the United States Supreme Court or Republicans in Congress at Academy Awards night or Emmy night or Tony Awards night or Grammy night. There is no courage in mocking the traditionalists on Saturday Night Live. When a person arises amid an echo chamber of same-minded Eloi in a time machine that is stuck in an Obama era that has passed, and sneeringly feeds the clods who get their news from Comedy Central their liberal mantras, he or she simply is feeding fish to clapping seals. That is not courage. That is pandering.

Instead, courage is when an Ashley Judd is pawed by a Harvey Weinstein who has power over her career — and she decides that, whatever may be the price to be paid, she will stop this pig here and now by blowing the whistle. And that is the kind of courage that a coward like Ashley Judd lacks. Courage is not when Meryl Streep at a Hollywood Awards ceremony mocks President Trump’s perceived approach to women, based on the brash person he was decades earlier, while she extols Roman Polanski as an artist who has suffered far too long, even as she calls Harvey Weinstein “God.” Rather, courage is when the same Meryl Streep wins the confidence of women in her field who can go to her, as women came to me in my less famous role, to tell their horrific reports of sexual assault and violation, knowing that she will leverage her voice in Hollywood to extirpate the pig from the public arena. And the coward Meryl Streep does not have that courage — not unless it is printed out for her in dummy cards for her to read emotively into a camera.

And that very thing is what empowers the Harvey Weinsteins, the Bill Clintons, the Teddy Kennedys, to use others, especially women without power, because women let him do it before, and so it becomes ‘just Harvey’ and it goes on until somebody dies, like Mary Jo Kopechne, and sometimes it still goes on. And you know, the only reason, for most of these women’s silence, that I can see, is a profound dislike for anybody but themselves. They’ve made little (very little indeed) tin gods of themselves, and there is no good in them or in those who enable them. G.K. Chesterton wrote

“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

Even little tin Hollywood gods they made for themselves.

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.

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Continental Army General Horatio Gates. by Stuart

Here is a bit about how we got from that ragtag Continental Army overlooking Boston Harbor to where we are now. It’s a saga, that’s never told too often, how this laughing upright nation of freeman, have fielded forces with, in Frederick Douglass’ words, with the eagle on their button, and the musket on their shoulder, always in defense of Freedom and Liberty.

You see when the Declaration of Indepenence was issued, there were troops (militia, really) called the Continental Army bottling up the British in Boston with some artillery captured at Fort Ticonderoga by Ethan Allen in the name of the “Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress” and hauled to Boston with great difficulty. The army could barely move or fight because of the lack of training but they hung in there.

Later that year, the British invaded New York with the largest British Armada before the invasion of Europe in 1944. We lost that battle too, but kept on keepin’ on.

General Gates in the south had a strategy a few years later best described (by Daniel Morgan “The Old Wagoner”. I think) as “we fight, get beat, retreat, and do it again. That pretty much sums up how we held on till the French showed up.

Even then we shouldn’t forget those huts in the snow where the barefoot, starving, freezing army lived at Valley Forge. Nor should we forget that the Continental Army paraded naked through Philadelphia on their way to Yorktown. And we think we have it bad?

But you don’t want to read 4000 words of military history on the 4th of July, after all there’s hot dogs to eat and beer to drink. So here’s a summary from Bill Whittle.

We’ve really come a long way even in the last 70 or so years. I doubt that anybody realizes what our military (descended from that rag-tag bunch) could really do, if we let them fight a war in the fashion of World War II, and I’d bet money I couldn’t afford to lose, that no one would try it a second time.

 

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 the success of liberty.

President Kennedy said it but that’s not a politician’s promise. That’s the record and promise of the American People.

If you wish us ill, you would be well advised to remember that we are also allied to most of the best warriors in the world, we learned well enough from them to beat them.

But, you know the toughest war we’ve ever been in was the one we fought with ourselves 150 years ago, today marks the beginning of the end of that one too, as Gettysburg ended today and tomorrow Vicksburg surrendered.

Eagles are patient birds but, they have a limit and a very, very long reach. When US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was asked recently, ” What keeps you awake at night?” He could answer, “Nothing. I keep other people awake at night,”

And so, back in 1908 an Irishman was our flagbearer at the opening parade of the 1908 London Olympics and started one of our most cherished traditions.

“This flag dips to no earthly King or Potentate”

and it hasn’t.

Grenfell Tower

So let’s try to unpack this horror a bit, shall we? I happened to watch it almost in real time (on Sky) and I was appalled as it went up. As I said yesterday, it reminded me of the WTC more than anything – essentially all the heroism in the world from the emergency services (and they were, as always) of very little utility, the effects were more like the actions of a particularly malevolent god than anything else.

The best general write up I’ve read as to underlying causes was, not surprisingly on The Conservative Woman. In the immense comment stream, it degenerates a bit into partisan backbiting. Well, what doesn’t these days?

But here’s what I think I know.

  • It’s a high rise (24 stories) with one staircase and two elevators. Not uncommon, there or here, but one must always remember that once you get past roughly 10 floors the fire department is restricted to internal access. 150 feet is about all mobile equipment can reach.
  • Supposedly it was constructed to contain fire, reinforced concrete construction, fire doors and such. Normal stuff, not all that expensive, usually effective. Failed here.
  • A cladding was applied to the building, for appearance and insulation. Some reports say it was not fire resistant. It’s possible it wasn’t, but apply enough heat and almost anything will burn. What appeared to happen here is that fire got behind the cladding and into the insulation. I’ve heard that insulation described as Celotex (may or may not be true), but almost all insulation will either burn or melt, and if it does behind the cladding, it will form a flue (much like a chimney) and heat will rise very quickly feeding the flames. That is what the fire looked like on TV.
  • No sprinklers. May or may not have mattered in the public spaces. Which is all that is usually required. If they had been installed in the apartments may well have contained it, and most also have an automatic alarm, both local and fire department, which would help. Apparently, this building grandfathered the requirement, but best practice would have seen them installed.
  • No (or inaudible) local fire alarm. Inexcusable, in my mind at least.
  • Open windows. England has little air conditioning, and none here, so windows were open, increasing draft for the fire. Well, not really a lot you can do about that.
  • Lots of immigrants in the building. Not a big deal, maybe, but cultural practices do matter. May have been lots of flammable artifacts about, prayer rugs, this, that, and the other. I have also seen immigrants here cooking over open flames (improvised firepits and such) very dangerous in a multi-story building. Don’t know, but might be worth looking at. Also were firedoors kept shut? Canada, for instance, requires that the door to a connected garage have an self-closing mechanism.
  • One that will surprise Americans. There are reports of an exploding refrigerator. That’s something that just doesn’t happen here. Why? Because we use CFCs for refrigerants. If they leak and burn, they can cause phosgene poisoning, but the systems are sealed and pretty much bulletproof. Never, not once, in the last 50 years have I heard of a problem. Europe is different. They use Isobutane, essentially what we call LP gas. Yeah, the same stuff that we use in our barbecue grills, and sometimes stoves and furnaces where natural gas is not available. I won’t have it in my house for any reason, not least because, unlike natural gas, it is heavier than air and will accumulate, and a very small spark (static electricity from a woolen rug, say) can set it off. The other thing is, it’s a small molecule (unlike CFCs) and much harder to seal permanently. LP is every bit as flammable as acetylene that is used for welding, in fact, Oxy-propane is very often used for cutting torches because it burns hotter. Now get a leak in your refrigerator, and a spark in the thermostat, and you have an explosion, and not a small one. Why do they do this? Because the EU has banned CFCs for environmental reasons (we’ve changed our formulations too. The new ones aren’t as effective, but less damaging to the ozone layer).¹

Overall, this was a systemic failure, old Murphy was working overtime. The problems just piled one on the other, and as a result, likely more than a hundred people are dead and died horribly. If I understand the building was council owned (rather like an overpowered city council combined with the zoning board) and managed by a (no doubt connected) non-profit. Strikes me as plenty of room for corruption to sneak in as well, although I have no proof of anything like that. But the one thing we know about bureaucrats is that they can almost never be forced to take responsibility for anything. I doubt anything different than that here.

And yes, the pseudo pious virtue signaling, blame passing, and all those games have already started. Not to mention the wingeing about how we don’t have enough money.

¹ ISOBUTANE

You Had One Job

Sometimes, no matter your job title, you really have just one job. Theresa May was selected as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to execute Brexit, and that was what was expected. I like Mrs. May, then and now. I think she is a steady, dependable woman. But I also think she may a bit detail obsessed, it’s a fault many share.

She decided a few weeks ago she needed a bigger majority in Parliament to carry out Brexit properly. It made a fair amount of sense, the Tories have a lot of ‘Remainers’ and maybe she could weed a few out while increasing the majority. So OK.

But why in the hell, during the campaign were we talking about a Dementia Tax, or, of all the useless distractions, fox hunting, why the stupid slogans, let alone the American style presidential conceits, ‘Team May’ and ‘Theresa’s local candidates’, (we might have some lessons to teach, but the hubris of our Presidential candidates is about the worst thing one can pick up from us.) Why issue a manifesto written by a cabal, that your government hasn’t agreed to, especially one that will cause you to have to make a U-turn. ‘Strong and Stable’? Hardly. More like Hubris meet Nemesis.

And then you suffer a couple of Islamic terrorist attacks, and you let an opponent (who spent a considerable portion of his career supporting the IRA, Hamas, and Hezbollah) take the initiative because you once perhaps cut the number of police.

Of course, part of that is that is that because you’ve (or pretty much anybody else in Westminster) never had the guts to stand up to the racists that run the BBC, you have to be oh so politically correct. So you can’t tell the people the truth. The truth that because you let in all those bearded 13-year-old refugees, and their parents, and their sisters, and their brothers and their aunts, your security services have no idea where the potential terrorists are now, not even the ones that aren’t citizens.

But your police are pretty good at catching Christian pastors who teach what your father did, that homosexual sex is a sin, maybe if they weren’t doing that, they could catch a few of the terrorists. You keep saying that you want to help those ‘just about getting by’. Well, the best way to do that is to get out of the way, and out of their wallet, and let them spend their money on what they want and/or need, instead of sending it to Inland Revenue to fund those who will not work and live off the working poor.

And just how much does the NHS spend on medical tourists, let alone those who shouldn’t even be in Britain but are anyway. Not to mention bloated administration that couldn’t care less about administrating effectively.

But, that is what you let happen, and so now you didn’t increase your majority, you lost it, and now you have a hung Parliament. As Cranmer noted this morning…

With no majority in the House of Commons, the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ fades away and grammar schools whither. With no majority, it’s hard to see how Brexit will now mean Brexit (that is, out of the single market and customs union; free of the European Court of Justice; the end of free movement; out of the CAP and the CFP; and the restoration of parliamentary supremacy). You don’t boast about being a ‘bloody difficult woman’ if those bloody difficulties lead to greater division and more instability. With Brexit in jeopardy and the clamour for ‘soft Brexit’ growing, it is difficult at this stage to see where the necessary leadership will come from.

Steven Hayward adds this…

[B]ut at a macro level there is one big thing in common with the major election results of the past year, starting with Brexit, then Trump, but including the French election (the major parties shut out of the final) and even the Italian referendum on constitutional reform—a rejection of the establishment. Bad news for Angela Merkel I think.

He’s right of course. He’s also right that there will probably be still another election in the UK within a year.

The really sad thing is: The British people deserve far better than this sorry spectacle.

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