Sunday Funnies, The Nonsense Continues

The Week.

A serious country, willing to fight to the last avocado, not like this one

The Telegraph

A variation

And since it is Palm Sunday, perhaps the Passion Play for our time.

Neocon to NeverTrump

From left: Bill Kristol, Max Boot, David Frum, Elliot A. Cohen.

Julie Kelly has an article up at American Greatness. Let’s take a look.

For more than two years they misled us.

Exploiting fear and confusion after a shocking event, they warned that our country was in imminent danger at the hands of a mad man. They insisted that legitimate intelligence, including a CIA report issued a month before a national election and a dossier producedby reliable sources in the United Kingdom, proved the threat was real. The subject monopolized discussions on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in the press.

They argued that the situation was so dire that it was straining our relationship with strategic allies. Any evidence to the contrary was readily dismissed. And anyone who questioned their agenda was ridiculed as a coward, a dupe, or a conspiracy theorist. The news media dedicated endless air time and column inches to anyone who wanted to repeat the falsehood.

But an investigative report released two years after the propaganda campaign began found no evidence to support their central claim. The CIA report was highly flawed. The official dossier, some concluded, was deceptive and “sexed-up.”

Sounds really, really familiar these days doesn’t it? It should, we have a current example to look at, but this is not a description of the mess we have seen in Washington the last couple of years, it’s a good description of how we got into the war in Iraq. And most amazingly it was brought to you by the same ‘players’. Ms. Kelly continues:

So, these discredited outcasts thought they found in the Trump-Russia collusion farce a way to redeem themselves in the news media and recover their lost prestige, power, and paychecks. After all, it cannot be a mere coincidence that a group of influencers on the Right who convinced Americans 16 years ago that we must invade Iraq based on false pretenses are nearly the identical group of people who tried to convince Americans that Donald Trump conspired with the Russians to rig the 2016 election, an allegation also based on hearsay and specious evidence.

It cannot be an innocent mistake. It cannot be explained away as an example of ignorance in the defense of national security or democracy or human decency. It cannot be justified as a mere miscalculation based on the “best available information at the time” nor should we buy any of the numerous excuses that they offered up to rationalize the war.

In fact, one can draw a straight line between the approach of neoconservative propagandists from the Iraq War travesty and the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. The certainty with which they pronounced their dubious claims, their hyperbolic warnings about pending doom—all eerily similar:

Bill Kristol in 2003: “We look forward to the liberation of our own country and others from the threat of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, and to the liberation of the Iraqi people from a brutal and sadistic tyrant.”

Bill Kristol in 2018: “It seems to me likely Mueller will find there was collusion between Trump associates and Putin operatives; that Trump knew about it; and that Trump sought to cover it up and obstruct its investigation. What then? Good question.”

John McCain in 2003: “I believe that, obviously, we will remove a threat to America’s national security because we will find there are still massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

John McCain in 2017: “There’s a lot of aspects with this whole relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin that requires further scrutiny. In fact, I think there’s a lot of shoes to drop from this centipede. This whole issue of the relationship with the Russians and who communicated with them and under what circumstances clearly cries out for an investigation.”

David Frum in 2002 (writing for President George W. Bush): “States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.“

David Frum in 2016: “I never envisioned an Axis of Evil of which one of the members was the US National Security Adviser.”

Max Boot in 2003: “I hate to disappoint all the conspiracy-mongers out there, but I think we are going into Iraq for precisely the reasons stated by President Bush: to destroy weapons of mass destruction, to bring down an evil dictator with links to terrorism, and to enforce international law.”

Max Boot in 2019: “If this is what it appears to be, it is the biggest scandal in American history—an assault on the very foundations of our democracy in which the president’s own campaign is deeply complicit. There is no longer any question whether collusion occurred. The only questions that remain are: What did the president know? And when did he know it?”

Those are just a handful of examples from a deep trove of comparisons. Other accomplices on the Right involved in both scandals include former NSA Director Michael Hayden; former Weekly Standard editor Stephen Hayes; MSNBC host and former U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough; neoconservative think tankers Robert Kagan and Eliot Cohen; and former Bush aides Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner.

Even George W. Bush questioned aloud last year whether alleged Russian meddling “affected the outcome of the election.”

And let’s not forget who was in charge of the FBI before, during, and after the Iraq War: Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel hired in May 2017 to find evidence of Russian collusion. In his February 2003 Senate testimony, Mueller confirmed reports that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and expressed concern that Hussein “may supply terrorists with biological, chemical or radiological material.” James Comey, Mueller’s close friend and successor at the FBI, served as George W. Bush’s deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2005. Comey, of course, is the man who opened an investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016 and signed the FISA application in October 2016 to spy on Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Both, we’ve been assured repeatedly, were Republicans.

This is from an article by Julie Kelly on American Greatness which when you go read it all (Do it now!) will tell you just how despicable this bunch of charlatans are. Just about every American casualty in the middle east since 2003, over a hundred thousand dead Iraqis, a bunch of Libyans and Syrians, not too mention the invasion of Europe by pseudo refugees can be laid at these clowns doorsteps. All to keep their influence and their paychecks, not to mention the cocktail parties and cruises.

In 1961, as he left the Presidency, Eisenhower told us some base truths, here is a bit of it, the rest is here.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.

I can’t speak for you, but in 2003 I bought their snake oil, but like so many of you, in 2016, I knew better.

Screw me once, shame on you,

Screw me twice, shame on me.

Our experience with these neocons tells us we have failed in that mission, that Ike outlined, and rather badly. But you know, we are a sensible people, and in electing Trump, we may have found the cure or at least a palliative.

One hopes so.

Brexit: Trump and Queen Anne

A lot of Americans are supporters of Brexit, not least because we see many parallels with America’s revolutionary struggle. From what he has said, I think President Trump does too.  He doesn’t say much, but how can he really, Obama got pretty seriously criticized for his “back of the queue” remark. Rightly of course. These countries are supposedly all our friends, but hey, this is Britain, the cousins. Of course, we care.

So what has he done? Walked very softly and offered the use of one of our biggest sticks, the US economy itself. He hasn’t, in so many words, offered the United Kingdom completely tariff-free trade with the US, but that is the import.

That is just about all we can do, other than offer moral support, and advice from one of the world’s best negotiators. That too has been done, only to be spurned, sometimes contemptuously.

Some of the more sensible Britons have noticed as well. One of them is Freddy Gray and he wrote about it in The Spectator UK. Sadly behind the paywall, but if you have any free articles left, it’s pretty good.

Tune out all the noise around Brexit, and read what Donald Trump said today:

‘I’m surprised at how badly it’s all gone from the standpoint of a negotiation,’ he told reporters at a bilateral meeting with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. ‘But I gave the Prime Minister my ideas on to negotiate it and I think you would have been successful. She didn’t listen to that and that’s fine, she’s got to do what she’s got to do, but I think it could have been negotiated in a different manner, frankly. I hate to see everything being ripped apart now. I don’t think another vote would be possible because it would be very unfair to the people that won … But I thought it would happen, it did happen, it’s a very tough situation.’

In fact, if you want to understand quite how bad Theresa May’s government has been, it helps to go back to January 27, 2017: the day Theresa May visited Donald Trump in the White House. Trump was very keen to offer May a trade deal there and then, but she demurred. She was more eager to get Trump to reaffirm America’s commitment to NATO.

As Steve Bannon, who was there, tells me:

‘President Trump tried to coach May during her White House visit. He told her to get on with it because time was her enemy not her friend. He also offered to do a bilateral deal with the UK. You could tell she didn’t really comprehend what he was trying to tell her. She seemed like a deer in the headlights.’

Westminster know-alls will tell you that it would not have been legally possible for May to enter into trade negotiations with Trump before our exit from the EU. Maybe so. But surely the mere offer would have been useful leverage, as the Author of The Art of the Deal might say.

One can’t help wondering who the real idiot is: Donald Trump? Or Brexit Britain?

My read is that Parliament has become an out of control tyranny, hell-bent on selling British sovereignty to the EU, probably for a hell of a lot more than 30 pieces of silver, the promise of a well-rewarded life of no responsibility, and at least part of the government and civil service are in league with them. Like most things, there is a precedent, the last time Parliament went this rogue, England got the Lord Protector, Cromwell. No sightings around Cambridge so seems unlikely this time, but maybe Queen Anne has something to offer. Cranmer seems to think so.

The last time Royal Assent was withheld from a parliamentary bill was in the wake of the union of England and Scotland in 1707/8, when Queen Anne declined to support the Scottish Militia Bill. And she did so on the advice of her ministers: “…the Tories had shown that their views in relation to the major issues confronting the nation – the Church, the war, the succession, and the question of union with Scotland – were out of gear with the nation’s interests.” Queen Anne deployed her prerogative veto to ensure (or enhance) the possibility of national peace and reconciliation: the last thing the inaugural Parliament of Great Britain needed was armed Jacobites intent on restoring the Stuarts to the Throne.

The European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 5) Bill currently making its way through Parliament – at the behest of Yvette Cooper and Oliver Letwin – is designed to frustrate the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit (that is, a clean, global Brexit on WTO terms). It is thereby purposely designed to frustrate Brexit altogether, simply because it obliges the Prime Minister to seek an extension to Article 50 not quite in perpetuity, but certainly to a point which appears to mandate the UK’s participation in Elections to the European Parliament next month, and thereafter Brexit is delayed until a ‘deal’ is done which satisfies the EU. The Bill doesn’t prevent ‘no deal’ altogether (the European Council could reject the Prime Minister’s request), but it patently binds the Prime Minister’s negotiating hand. It is a profoundly flawed bill – not least because it appears to have been preempted by her recent request for an extension to Article 50 – but it is effectual to the extent that the Prime Minister must move a motion in the House of Commons to extend Article 50 the day after the Bill receives Royal Assent.

There has been some conjecture that the Crown may demur, as it did in 300 years ago; that the Queen may be advised by her minsters not to give assent to the Bill on the grounds that it is purely a creation of Parliament, not responsible government; that is, government responsive and accountable to the will of the people. As JS Mill observed in 1864: “Responsibility is null when nobody knows who is responsible… To maintain it at its highest, there must be one person who receives the whole praise of what is well done, the whole blame of what is ill.” The Prime Minister can sack responsible ministers, and the people can sack responsible governments, but who can sack both Houses of Parliament? How may those who voted for a manifesto which pledged to take the UK out of the EU (Single Market and Customs Union) mete democratic justice upon a fractious Remainer House of Commons aided by a partisan Speaker who has ridden roughshod over constitutional precedent; abetted by a compliant Remainer House of Lords intent on abdicating their scrutinising role to rush through a flawed, ill-considered and procedurally irregular piece of legislation?

Keep reading. This is, I think, legitimate. Freedom is always based on the interplay between various forces. In the US, it is explicit, in the UK implicit, and it is rare indeed for the Monarch to be involved. But this situation is rare, indeed, Parliament is not in good order, and is obviously violating the will of the people, and now the government is as well, but in a different way.

And frankly, for all the reasons His Grace listed, including her duty as head of the Church of England. Is this so different really, leading the UK into the at best Godless EU, compared to the birth of a Catholic heir that simulated the Glorious Revolution, bringing the House of Orange to the throne?

Sunday Funnies: the Memes Continue

Sort of a silly week, the Mother of Parliaments is senile at best, every Democrat is at least crazy with some tending towards evil and running for President. Central America is invading. None of that is new, but we did find new pictures for you

Are you bored of Biden yet? I am, but the memes are funny.

Must be a gun and knife free zone, too!

And, of course

Double your pleasure, double your fun, Philip Wrigley used to tell us.

Winning the Identity Sweepstakes, and Losing It

Professor Lipscomb

Professor Suzannah Lipscomb of  the University of Roehampton recently wrote:

Fed up with women’s lib being thrust at the public.’ This was a comment by a visitor to the We Are Bess exhibition at the National Trust’s Hardwick Hall, for which I was creative director and which I’ve mentioned before in this column. This rather curmudgeonly view is not shared by many: the vast majority of visitors have enjoyed it, thought it ‘interesting’, ‘moving’, ‘engaging’, ‘uplifting’; some 77 per cent so far say they would recommend the exhibition to others and 91 per cent feel that they learnt something new about the past or present. Many were delighted that the Trust had staged such a contemporary exhibition, which felt relevant and resonated with current issues. But this lone comment has stayed with me because it tells us something about the zeitgeist: both that ‘women’s lib’ or – more accurately – women’s achievements and lives – are something that many people are now interested in and that, for some, this feels like the lives of the other half are being ‘thrust’ upon them.

Read it all here, but it pretty much looks to me like some combination of virtue signaling and identity politics, not to mention generic whingeing. Not unusual in academia of course, and even less unusual amongst women on the BBC. In any case, most of the Britons I know, are completely fed up with the National Trust for its pandering to the SJWs, as indeed I would be as well. PC run amok, most of them say. Not as bad as the BBC, but working on it.

Jonathon Pearce quotes on Samizdata, Mohamed Ali, on Quillette:

“The dangerous and sectarian practice of prescriptive racialism is an outgrowth of an insistence that we think of people not as individuals but as representatives of groups — we speak of “the Arab experience” as if it were a uniform phenomenon. In a world in which groups are considered more important than people, it was inevitable that we would forfeit the ability to think in terms of unique human beings, each of whom may fall into several categories, but who are ultimately self-made characters. We should remember that the important features of an individual are what they choose to be and not the identities they happen to have inherited.”

That is always the problem with trying to figure out groups, other than perhaps self-selected groups, such as perhaps SAS troopers, the commonality of experience is lacking. I like Professor Lipscomb and I like her work, but I wonder if a contemporary London based female historian has that much in common with Tudor women, let alone the victims of Jack the Ripper. Sure she probably has more in common with them than I do, at least anatomically, but I suspect each of the three sees the world quite differently, as indeed I do. We can and should try to overcome that and have empathy for all actors, but it is not the easiest thing to do.,

R.S. McCain has a question. Here’s the background.

The man accused of kidnapping and murdering a woman who got into his car thinking it was her Uber ride had activated the child locks in his backseat so the doors could be opened only from the outside, police in South Carolina revealed.
Nathaniel David Rowland , 24, was charged Saturday in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student from Robbinsville, New Jersey. Rowland decided not to appear at a hearing in Richland County jail Sunday.
Rowland is charged with kidnapping and murder, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said. . . .
Investigators would not say what they thought Rowland did to Josephson from the time she got into his black Chevrolet Impala in Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district around 1:30 a.m. Friday until her body was dumped in woods off a dirt road in Clarendon County about 65 miles away.

Not all that often that the police are all that reticent about what was done to a crime victim, in my experience, and that leads to the question. Why are the feminists not raising even more noise about this undoubted victim, than about Creepy Uncle Joe being a bit touchy-feely for the last two score years without complaint? Here is a picture of the victim and the alleged perp, see if you can figure it out.

See how these three sort of disparate stories connect? In all three, people are not paying attention to individuals but only members of the various groups. Why on earth should we feel more sympathy for the victims of a nineteenth-century murderer in London than for a twenty-first-century victim of a murderer in Columbia, South Caroline, let alone a bunch of Tudor women who may (or may not) have gotten all the respect the deserved, documented for historians convenience, or not.

As we keep saying there is little new under the sun, back in 1909 Rudyard Kipling had some thoughts in A City of Brass that seem to be spot on to the whole mess.

In a land that the sand overlays – the ways to her gates are untrod –
A multitude ended their days whose gates were made splendid by God,
Till they grew drunk and were smitten with madness and went to their fall,
And of these is a story written: but Allah Alone knoweth all!

When the wine stirred in their heart their bosoms dilated.
They rose to suppose themselves kings over all things created –
To decree a new earth at a birth without labour or sorrow –
To declare: “We prepare it to-day and inherit to-morrow.”
They chose themselves prophets and priests of minute understanding,
Men swift to see done, and outrun, their extremest commanding –
Of the tribe which describe with a jibe the perversions of Justice –
Panders avowed to the crowd whatsoever its lust is.

Swiftly these pulled down the walls that their fathers had made them –
The impregnable ramparts of old, they razed and relaid them
As playgrounds of pleasure and leisure, with limitless entries, 
And havens of rest for the wastrels where once walked the sentries;
And because there was need of more pay for the shouters and marchers,
They disbanded in face of their foemen their yeomen and archers.
They replied to their well-wishers’ fears – to their enemies laughter,
Saying: “Peace! We have fashioned a God Which shall save us hereafter.
We ascribe all dominion to man in his factions conferring,
And have given to numbers the Name of the Wisdom unerring.”

They said: “Who has hate in his soul? Who has envied his neighbour?
Let him arise and control both that man and his labour.”
They said: “Who is eaten by sloth? Whose unthrift has destroyed him?
He shall levy a tribute from all because none have employed him.”
They said: “Who hath toiled, who hath striven, and gathered possession?
Let him be spoiled. He hath given full proof of transgression.”
They said: “Who is irked by the Law? Though we may not remove it.
If he lend us his aid in this raid, we will set him above it!
So the robber did judgment again upon such as displeased him,
The slayer, too, boasted his slain, and the judges released him.

As for their kinsmen far off, on the skirts of the nation,
They harried all earth to make sure none escaped reprobation.
They awakened unrest for a jest in their newly-won borders,
And jeered at the blood of their brethren betrayed by their orders.
They instructed the ruled to rebel, their rulers to aid them;
And, since such as obeyed them not fell, their Viceroys obeyed them.
When the riotous set them at naught they said: “Praise the upheaval!
For the show and the world and the thought of Dominion is evil!”
They unwound and flung from them with rage, as a rag that defied them,
The imperial gains of the age which their forefathers piled them.
They ran panting in haste to lay waste and embitter for ever 
The wellsprings of Wisdom and Strengths which are Faith and Endeavour.
They nosed out and digged up and dragged forth and exposed to derision
All doctrine of purpose and worth and restraint and prevision:

And it ceased, and God granted them all things for which they had striven,
And the heart of a beast in the place of a man’s heart was given. .

NATO at 70

Walter A. McDougall has a superb article up at Law and Liberty, recapping the history of NATO. While it’s quite long as articles go, it is the best short form history of the alliance I’ve read, as far as I can remember, ever. So you should too.

In just a few days, delegations from the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will gather in Washington to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the longest-lasting multilateral alliance in modern history.

They shall recall how NATO fostered unity, strength, and will among Western democracies for 40 years and prevailed over the Soviet bloc without a shot being fired. They shall also congratulate themselves on the subsequent 30 years during which the membership expanded from 16 to 29, the mission expanded far beyond collective security, and the area of operations expanded as far afield as Afghanistan. But unchecked inflation is often a symptom of institutional senility rather than vitality.

Perhaps the Americans who steered NATO on its present course were simply anxious to provide new raisons d’être for an alliance whose real target disappeared with the Cold War. Perhaps President Donald Trump had a point when he called NATO obsolete. Perhaps the years of its life are “three score and ten, or by reason of strength fourscore” (Psalm 90:10), in which case, this decennial may be its last.

The threat that gave birth to NATO—the communist bloc—ceased to exist 30 years ago. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics collapsed two years after that, reducing Muscovy back to its 17th century boundaries. During the 1990s Russia’s economy contracted by 45 percent and has not grown much since. The Russian defense budget today is 72 percent less than the last Soviet one. And while Vladimir Putin pretends Russia is a world power, even he admitted in his Munich address of 2007 that the Cold War’s bipolarity had been replaced by a hegemony in which the United States is the “one center of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making,” and has “overstepped its national borders in every way.”[1] Most galling for Putin was the fact that the United States exploited Russian weakness to expand NATO up to and even into the boundaries of the defunct Soviet Union.

Nothing resembling the threat of Josef Stalin’s empire and Red Army exists today and Europeans are well aware of that, which is why only three European governments met the target—2 percent of GNP—for defense spending in 2017. Germans, French, and Italians simply do not feel threatened by Russia. Hence the “free rider” dilemma of a United States that accounts for 71.7 percent of NATO’s defense expenditures in 2017 has only become more acute, not less, since the end of Cold War.[2]

The voracious engulfment by NATO of nearly all countries west of Russia likewise risks its cohesion. The alliance motto, which looms on the wall overlooking the grand conference room in its Brussels headquarters, reads: Animus in consulendo liber (“A mind unfettered in deliberation”). But the fact is that NATO’s deliberations have always been fettered by its unanimity rule. Consensus was hard enough to achieve among the original 12, not to mention the current 29 governments each with own agenda . . . unless, of course, member states just surrender to the will of the United States.

It would appear that NATO today has become both “too big to fail” and “too big to work.” Some day, NATO’s credibility will be put to a test that its constituent states will be unable or unwilling to pass.

Empire by Invitation

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, like so many initiatives identified with the United States, was a British invention.[3] In 1948, Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin begged Americans to identify with the Brussels Pact, which Britain, France, and the Benelux countries had just concluded. Bevin’s premises were that Soviet obstruction had crippled the United Nations as an instrument for collective security; that Europe’s postwar democracies were too weak to defend themselves; and that the Marshall Plan could not succeed unless Europeans were assured of a U.S. military commitment.

There are lots of truths here, not least of them that, while I would not use the term empire, Europe has become an American (and to some extent, British) protectorate. Not so much because we wanted it to, as because it is certainly easier to let someone else defend you, especially if you are a believer in globalism. Most of Europe is, that’s why the European Union keeps talking about unity.

If the US hasn’t done anything else, we’ve made an intra-European war nearly impossible for the near future, they’ve all disarmed.

One of my friends is a British expat living quite happily in Siberia, I think from what we tell each other, he would agree heartily with the conclusions in this article, and I see much merit in them as well.

I can’t say that America really wishes Russia any ill, because I don’t think we, in general, do, but we often don’t think things through very well before we do stuff, often for domestic reasons, that may have adverse effects on others.

In any case, read the article linked above, and tell me what you think.

%d bloggers like this: