Herman Wouk

Author Herman Wouk at his home in Palm Springs in 2000. (Los Angeles Times)

It’s strange how things happen. As some of you’ll be aware, I found out a few short weeks ago, while I was on break, that Herman Wouk, one of my favorite authors, was still alive at 103. That was from a post at Warsclerotic that reminded us that Winds of War/War and Remembrance are available on YouTube. I’ve been watching them (binge-watching, really).  Between them, especially the books, they form perhaps the best overall history of World War II.

That was from an article there by the site’s editor, Joseph Wouk, and I commented how much his dad’s writing, going back to The Caine Mutiny when I was perhaps eight years old, had taught me some lessons that had stood the test of time. Joseph kindly informed that his father was still alive and nearing his 104th birthday.

Sadly, he didn’t make it, dying last Friday, writing till the end. That remarkable since his first novel was published shortly after World War II, in which he served as an officer in a destroyer minesweeper, which will sound familiar to anyone who has ever read about the Caine or seen the play or movie adapted from it.

As I told Joseph, The Caine taught me much about organizations and how they work and has stuck with me. In fact, I wrote about it back in 2013, in a post titled Of Mutiny and Education.  What is interesting about what is probably a somewhat inaccurate book review in it, is that I hadn’t read the book in probably 30 years, and a fair amount of it stuck with me. And allowed me to draw lessons from it. And, you know, that article still has lessons for us, as well.

Not surprisingly he’s been eulogized all over the world. You can find quite a few at Warsclerotic. I rather like the one in the LA Times.

Herman Wouk, the prolific and immensely popular writer who explored the moral fallout of World War II in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Caine Mutiny” and other widely read books that gave Americans a raw look at the horrors and consequences of war, has died at his Palm Springs home, where he wrote many of his acclaimed novels.

Wouk, who was honored by the Library of Congress in September 2008 with its first lifetime achievement award for fiction writing, died in his sleep Friday at the age of 103, his literary agent Amy Rennert told the Associated Press. Wouk was working on a book at the time of his death, Rennert said.

As a writer, Wouk considered his most “vaultingly ambitious” work the twin novels “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance,” about “the great catastrophe of our time,” World War II. Critics, however, considered “The Caine Mutiny” to be his finest work.

Taut and focused, the book is a riveting exploration of power, personal freedom and responsibility. “Caine” won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for literature and was on the New York Times’ bestseller list for more than two years, selling more than 5 million copies in the U.S. and Britain in the first few years after its publication.

In the novel, Wouk creates one of American literature’s most fascinating characters, Philip Francis Queeg, the captain of the U.S. destroyer-minesweeper Caine, who is removed from his command by a lower-ranking officer in the middle of a typhoon.

In one of the book’s most famous scenes, concerning the theft of the captain’s strawberries, Queeg lapses into paranoid incoherence as he is questioned during his court-martial. He pulls a pair of ball bearings from his pocket and obsessively shuffles them in his hand:

“Ah, but the strawberries! That’s, that’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with, with geometric logic, that, that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox did exist. And I would have produced that key if they hadn’t pulled the Caine out of action. I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officer. (He pauses, realizing that he has been ranting.)

“Naturally, I can only cover these things from memory.”

Keep reading, nor would it hurt any of us to revisit these works, to learn again how we won the war, but more how we treat people to accomplish our mission, and even more, perhaps, to simply enjoy ourselves. Like a good storytelling father, Herman Wouk brings us a lesson while entertaining us with a ripping yarn.

Rest in peace sir, knowing you are missed, and your memory honored.

The Administrative State and Aircraft Safety

The US was the very last to ground the 737 Max 8 and 9. Why? Deion A. Kathawa writing in American Greatness has some idea.

[T]he sprawling, unaccountable administrative state is strangling America and killing common sense.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) refused this week to join a growing list of countries—including, so far, Ireland, China, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Oman, Malaysia, Iraq, Mexico—as well as Europe itself, all of which have permanently or temporarily banned Boeing’s new airplane, the 737 MAX 8, from their airspace.

The 737 MAX 8 has crashed twice in the last five months, resulting in the deaths of 346 people. In Ethiopia, where the most recent crash occurred, the plane was in the air for all of six minutes before it plunged into the ground, tragically cutting short the lives of 157 souls.

The FAA’s obstinacy—it finds “no basis to order grounding the aircraft”—comes in the face of mounting pressure from U.S. lawmakers.

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators has called on the FAA to ground the plane: Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, agrees.

We should pause for a moment, however, and consider the absurdity of this entire situation. Article I of the U.S. Constitution states: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” That is a clear, unambiguous grant of authority—albeit a limited authority—by the nation’s founding charter to the nation’s legislative branch.

What Article I proclaims about the delegation of legislative power is true regardless of what one thinks about the validity of vast delegations of legislative authority to the legion of executive agencies that comprise the modern administrative state and make most of the law in this country; the wisdom of quick, sweeping governmental action in the face of a fluid situation like this; or the relative competence of the FAA compared with Congress to judge the safety of airplanes.

If Congress delegated to the FAA the power to ground the plane, then Congress also has the power to ground the plane. Obviously that must be so. Congress legislated the FAA into being and empowered it ex nihilo via an organic statute; if that agency has the power to ground planes, how can the body superior to it—Congress—not have that power, too?

All true, although the power itself is rather shaky Constitutionally, I think, it’s based on the Commerce Clause “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” That can (and often does) mean anything you want it to. This is the clause that famously ruled, in Wickard v Filburn, that a farmer raising crops to feed himself and his livestock was engaging in interstate commerce.

But here we saw the administrative state tying itself in knots to not do what is necessary, until and noticeably it was the President who announced the grounding. He actually should have had nothing to do with it.

Time to tear a lot down, say perhaps some government renewal, that operates in the manner of urban renewal in the 60s.

Also, if you are interested in the technical suspicions of the plane, WAPO has a reasonably informative article here. Watch out for the autoplays. I’ve also read that it has been stretched so much that without the flight assist system, it is inherently unstable. I don’t know that but it could well be having center of gravity problems. I suppose we’ll find out some day.

Brexit Voted Still Again and Buying Indoctrination

via Victory Girls; Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy/Public Domain

So Teresa May’s (very slightly) modified Withdrawal Agreement failed still again in Parliament yesterday. That’s a very good thing since what it primarily did was sell British sovereignty and the legislative role to the EU. The law says Britain leaves on WTO terms at the end of the month, but the cowardly Parliament and government are openly working to thwart the law. What happens now? I have no clue, if you do, tell me. What should happen is a general election and the replacement of every dishonorable member who has forgotten who he works for and what they told him to do. Most of the government and a fair slice of the (not so) Civil Service would be improved by spending some time at Her Majesty’s Tower of London. Sadly, that is the most unlikely outcome. The swamp in Westminster may be deeper and more viscous than the one in Washington.


In other news, now comes news that some 50 people are at some place in the process of being arrested for bribery. It seems they thought their kids needed some extra help to get into those elite schools that educate swamp creatures, so they paid someone to lie for them. Toni Williams at Victory Girls explains.

About 50 people have had arrest warrants issued, been arrested, are negotiating their arrest or are being pursued in connection with a college cheating scandal code named “Operation Varsity Blues”. Parents paying to get their mouth breathing, drooling spawn into schools the little idiots are not qualified to attend. If you missed the press conference today, it was absolutely jaw dropping. Not shocking or surprising just jaw dropping.

While the rest of us honorable schmucks were paying for college board prep tests (my son wouldn’t go) or at least begging our little cherubs to get a good night’s sleep prior to the test (nope to that one, too), these elitists, who are so much better than we are, schemed with a weasel named William Singer to phony up the test scores for the college boards, create phony elite athlete profiles and get their kids into college as athletes or just plain bribe college officials. And, then as if these elitists didn’t disdain us enough, they claimed the costs as charitable contributions on their tax returns. You cannot make this excrement up.

Actress Lori Loughlin (Aunt Becky on Full House) and her husband, Target fashion designer, Mossimo Gianulli are two of the parents caught in the web of lies. From Deadline Hollywood:

Loughlin and her spouse Mossimo Gianulli “agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC,” asserts the grand jury indictment.

Gianulli has been charged.

No real surprise, I think, except the prosecutions. And for that matter, anybody think these spawn went to school to learn anything useful, or just to get a meaningless piece of paper for the wall, and a four (or more) year party. So while the illegality should be punished, I don’t see many victims here, the parents had way more money than sense, the schools have long since giving up educating for indoctrinating, and the kids are there for the sex, and drugs, and rock and roll, or whatever it is now. Hard to get too excited.

A Failed Coup

Victor Davis Hanson in American Greatness reminds us that for the last three years, we have been living through something unique in American History, an attempted coup against the legitimately elected President, by the bureaucracy. With the help, of course, of the so-called news media, and much of the coastal elite. Here’s VDH:

[T]he illegal effort to destroy the 2016 Trump campaign by Hillary Clinton campaign’s use of funds to create, disseminate among court media, and then salt among high Obama administration officials, a fabricated, opposition smear dossier failed.

So has the second special prosecutor phase of the coup to abort the Trump presidency failed. There are many elements to what in time likely will become recognized as the greatest scandal in American political history, marking the first occasion in which U.S. government bureaucrats sought to overturn an election and to remove a sitting U.S. president.

Preparing the Battlefield
No palace coup can take place without the perception of popular anger at a president.

The deep state is by nature cowardly. It does not move unless it feels it can disguise its subterranean efforts or that, if revealed, those efforts will be seen as popular and necessary—as expressed in tell-all book titles such as fired FBI Directors James Comey’s Higher Loyalty or in disgraced Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s psychodramatic The Threat.

In candidate and President Trump’s case that prepping of the battlefield translated into a coordinated effort among the media, political progressives and celebrities to so demonize Trump that his imminent removal likely would appear a relief to the people. Anything was justified that led to that end.

All through the 2016 campaign and during the first two years of the Trump presidency the media’s treatment, according to liberal adjudicators of press coverage, ran about 90 percent negative toward Trump—a landmark bias that continues today.

Journalists themselves consulted with the Clinton campaign to coordinate attacks. From the Wikileaks trove, journalistic grandees such as John Harwood, Mark Leibovich, Dana Milbank, and Glenn Thrush often communicated (and even post factum were unapologetic about doing so) with John Podesta’s staff to construct various anti-Trump themes and have the Clinton campaign review or even audit them in advance.

Some contract “journalists” apparently were paid directly by Fusion GPS—created by former reporters Glen Simpson of the Wall Street Journal and Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post—to spread lurid stories from the dossier. Others more refined like Christiane Amanpour and James Rutenberg had argued for a new journalistic ethos that partisan coverage was certainly justified in the age of Trump, given his assumed existential threat to The Truth. Or as Rutenberg put it in 2016: “If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non-opinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable. But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?”

But as far as most of America is concerned, they do, and all concerned will, I think, pay a price for their foolishness. If they don’t, well America will change, and not for the better. There are two years left of Trump’s first term, it’s time to clean house.

And there is a hell of a lot of trash needing to be taken out. It’s time to begin, now that we can all see the dim outline of the beast, slouching across the horizon.

Hard to improve on VDH’s ending, so I won’t even try.

In sum, the Left and the administrative state, in concert with the media, after failing to stop the Trump campaign, regrouped. They ginned up a media-induced public hysteria, with the residue of the Hillary Clinton campaign’s illegal opposition research, and manipulated it to put in place a special counsel, stocked with partisans.

Then, not thugs in sunglasses and epaulettes, not oligarchs in private jets, not shaggy would-be Marxists, but sanctimonious arrogant bureaucrats in suits and ties used their government agencies to seek to overturn the 2016 election, abort a presidency, and subvert the U.S. Constitution. And they did all that and more on the premise that they were our moral superiors and had uniquely divine rights to destroy a presidency that they loathed.

Shame on all these failed conspirators and their abettors, and may these immoral people finally earn a long deserved legal and moral reckoning.

I fear that we may, with Yeats, see an awful vision.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

GOPe and Corporatists

If you haven’t heard yet, Theresa May lost in Parliament, 432 to 202. Which should be a decisive, humiliating result, leading to a change in government, but probably won’t. She is supposed to present her ‘plan B’ to Parliament within three days, and Corbyn has called for a vote of no confidence. FUBAR, in other words. We’ll keep an eye on it.


John Daniel Davidson over at The Federalist wrote about the argument Tucker Carlson unleashed about conservatism, noting what that noted sorta conservative Russ Douthat has commented.

It is time, I think that we have this conversation, as I look around, I see lots of casualties, but let see what the article says.

Over the weekend, Ross Douthat of The New York Times weighed in on the ideological battle sparked by Tucker Carlson’s recent Fox News monologue excoriating GOP elites for slavish devotion to market capitalism and indifference to its negative effects, especially for working-class families.

Carlson’s fusillade provoked a host of reactions from conservatives, some who criticized Carlson for exaggerating the problems caused by capitalism while ignoring its benefits, some who argued he has a point about how capitalism has failed to protect families and create a prosperous working class. “If there is to be a healthy American right, after Donald Trump or ever, this is the argument that conservatives should be having,” writes Douthat, and he’s correct.

Douthat zeroes in on a line from David French of National Review, a critic of Carlson, who wrote: “There are wounds that public policy can’t heal.” Douthat concedes that this is true, but argues it can become “a trap, a cul-de-sac, an excuse for doing nothing.” Too often, conservatives have “leaped to despair without even trying policy.”

He cites a few examples, like the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the disappearance of wages that can support single-income households, but then pivots to censorship and prohibition. Douthat notes that the right was once comfortable using public policy to promote private virtue, “But in recent decades, the right’s elites have despaired of censoring pornography, acquiesced to the spread of casino gambling, made peace with the creeping commercialization of marijuana, and accepted the internet’s conquest of childhood and adolescence.”

Douthat’s point is that while public policy can’t cure every social ill, it can be a “corrective”—if conservatives don’t simply throw in the towel.

There is no doubt about it, we’ve taken a lot of losses in the last almost thirty years. Part of the trouble, not the solution, is the GOPe, which talks a good game, but if you don’t like their principles, well they’ll find others.

‘Market Capitalism’ is a good place to start, it ain’t; it’s corporatism, rent-seeking, whatever you’d like to call it. It is designed to benefit the rich, the large, often multi-national corporation at the expense of the citizen and the worker. It’s not an accident, it’s a feature. See Elon Musk, or Enron, or many other examples.

For most of this, remember that politics is downstream of culture. Culture is where we need to win the culture wars, not politics. And you know, I think the pendulum has nearly reached the end of its swing and is starting to return. Be prepared, the war has merely begun. Will we win? Nobody knows but does it really matter, as far as I can see, my duty is to do the right thing and do it to the best of my ability, and what will be, will be. And as always, God decides. But we have before, many times.

The Battle of Brexit

Theresa May’s bill to sell pay Brussels to take British sovereignty is supposed to be voted on the first of the week. If you have any interest at all, you’ll want to read this series, which has run on The Conservative Woman, the best conservative site in Britain. In it, we meet  Professor Gwythian Prins in his Briefings for Brexit podcast of November which you can listen to here.

Kathy’s introduction is instructive.

His is not a household name. But it should be. Few are more lucid or more knowledgeable, as Michael St George flagged up last week. MPs should listen to Prins before they vote.

A member of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel from 2009 to 2015, today an Emeritus Research Professor at the London School of Economics, academic board member of Veterans for Britain as well as founder member of Briefings for Brexit, he is half Dutch and a fluent French speaker who’s also the Senior Visiting Professor at France’s top military school, L’école Spéciale Militaire de St Cyr.

There’s a lot here, far too much to represent fairly in one post, it took TCW 4, and none of them were short. So what I’m giving you is simply a taste, that you can follow, and learn, I surely did.

On Tuesday we read this:

INTERVIEWER: Thank you very much indeed for talking to the Briefings for Brexit podcast series today. As you say, you are on the editorial board of B4B. Let’s begin with today. Theresa May is, as we speak, giving a statement to the House of Commons on her Brexit deal. Your reaction to it?

GWYTHIAN PRINS: Well my reaction is that the date of today is not actually the 15th November 2018. It is the 10th May 1940 because I think that the collapse which has begun in this government with the resignation of Dominic Raab will be very difficult to stop and I hope that it will not stop, because what is now important is that we have a prime minister manifestly in office but not in power, who must now be replaced with somebody who can deliver the will of the people. We need now to do what should always have happened in the first place, which is not negotiate with the EU, because we cannot negotiate with the EU as we will discuss in just a moment, it’s in the nature of the EU that it cannot negotiate. What we will do is that we will leave to trade with the EU as we do with the rest of the world on standard WTO terms

From: Before they vote, MPs must listen to this man.

On Wednesday, this:

INTERVIEWER: If we look back, you, as one of the founders and editorial directors behind Briefings for Brexit, wrote about why you thought the EU was destined to break up: […]

GWYTHIAN PRINS: You’re quite right. That first piece, which I wrote when the website was new, I think still remains its most heavily-downloaded piece. It’s certainly the piece which has attracted the most hostile trolling, which is a new word that I’ve learned, from Remainiacs who hated my analysis. And let me briefly just say what I explained. I’m a historian by origins and an anthropologist and I’m familiar with many other of my cognate disciplines, one of which is particularly relevant to this issue and funnily enough it’s archaeology.

Keep reading Professor Prins on why the EU is doomed.

And so, On Thursday, he explained that the EU is not an artefact of the Second World War, but the First, and how this capitulation will affect British defenses and alliances. It ain’t pretty, by the way.

Isn’t that an argument to remain – our defence policy? I’ve heard what you’ve said but aren’t we destined outside of Europe to become an island with nukes? […]

[…]The key alliances upon which we depend – and let me be very clear about this – do not have anything to do with the European Union. They do have to do with some European countries who are members of NATO, but our primary relationships are with Anglosphere countries, English-speaking countries around the world like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Countries that are not English-speaking which are close allies like Japan, for example. This is the world with which we do most of our trade. This is the world of the future. This is the world to which the British economy is supremely well-attuned because we are an economy unlike the Germans who are very much a 20th Century economy that bashes metal and makes motorcars. We make ideas; we make services; we are attuned to the future, not to the past. […]

He’ correct, of course, and in fact we, as Americans depend far more than we publically admit on the British, especially the navy. From Prins on defence, and why May’s WA must be voted down.

And then, yesterday, we were treated to an accurate description of Great Britain’s place in the world, which is far different than the media would have you believe.

INTERVIEWER: An island with nukes?

[…]In November of last year the Henry Jackson Society, which is one of the London think tanks, did a geopolitical audit of the top eight powers in the world – geopolitical audit means not just looking at guns, not just looking at so-called soft power, not just looking at any one metric, but a whole basket of metrics. And when you look at all of those metrics together and they’re all calculated out and you can look it up on their website, you find of course that the United States is by a long margin the world’s dominant geopolitical power. But when you look in the rank ordering of the eight main powers in the world, who comes number two? It’s not China, it’s not Russia, it’s not Germany, it’s not France, it’s not India, it’s not Japan. It is the United Kingdom. We are the second most geopolitically competent power in the world. Now let’s be a little bit grown-up about recognising that we have these strengths. Let us banish the declinism of this frame of mind which has infected the creation of the document which was presented so contentiously to Cabinet yesterday. It is based on the premise that Brexit is a damage limitation exercise, that nothing could be better than to be in the EU nothing, therefore . . . given that, reluctantly, we have to leave the EU, that what we have to do is to try and mitigate damage. This is completely back to front. Staying in the EU would have chained us to a collapsing structure. We, through the good sense of what Edmund Burke so beautifully called The Wisdom of Unlettered Men, people like the people who put up my wife’s greenhouse, coming down from Manchester, they know in their guts what the interests, the patriotic interests of this country are. They don’t need to have degrees from the University of Cambridge to be able to know that, and they certainly don’t need to be members of the civil service. In fact that’s a disqualification – that seems to be something which blinds you, because it creates this declinist miasma that descends upon your eyes.

Read it all in Prins on Britain’s true place in the worldDo read the series. Here is the stalwart voice of the Britain who stood alone against Hitler for a year, who fought the Kaiser to a standstill, who almost alone defeated Napoleon, and who built the world we live in.

But don’t take my word for it. Take Rapscallion’s. He is my friend, he was one of Her Majesty’s submariners, and he knows whereof he speaks. He says this, in a comment on the last article in the series. He is a man I’d follow anywhere.

[…]This country has, as the Professor has pointed out, huge impact on the world, be it through our soft power, our history and our language. We are not some middling, grey, misty island off the NW coast of the Eurasian continent, no, we are not just that, We are members of G7, G20, NATO, Five Eyes, and Head of the Commonwealth. Our language is the most widely spoken in the world. We gave the world Magna Carta and the Rule of Law, Our judicial, legislative and parliamentary systems have been copied by all the world’s most successful democracies. We were amongst the first to behead a monarch and impose a parliamentary system. We have a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, our Armed Forces, thought small are amongst the very best in the world, and we are a nuclear power. If it were not for us, the entire continent of Europe would be under the Nazi jackboot. Only we stood alone. That’s right, Us, the Great British People, and those in “government” would do well to remember that.

As I replied to him yesterday, Bravo Zulu and Amen.

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