Eighty Years On

Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of the Munich agreement, where Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of the UK essentially ceded the Sudetenland, a German heritage area (and vital to the defense of Czechoslovakia) to Adolph Hitler.

I have more sympathy for Chamberlin than most do. My analysis says that if Britain (and France) had gone to war in 1938, they would have lost. The British rearmament was just gearing up, and the things that would save Britain in 1939 were not available in 1938.

What has come down to us though, is that it is always unwise to appease a totalitarian. That is often true. It probably was in the case of Gulf War 1, the second Iraq war is not nearly as clear.

There are cases coming up, mostly in the intersections between Russia, China, and Iran in the Eurasian landmass, where like trying to save Czechoslovakia, it might be clearly an overstretch for the United States to interfere.

That does not mean that we must sit back and allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, or colonize a goodly chunk of the near east.

We too have our vital interests, centering on keeping the maritime trade routes open, and our allies, most of whom, other than Israel are parts of Oceania. One can even make this case for Britain, itself, although what we would have in times past called Christendom, roughly western Europe, is also a vital American interest.

There’s an interesting discussion of this here.

But our own, overriding vital interest is the freedom and liberty of Americans, nothing at all may be allowed to interfere with this interest. Compared to this, all other interests are secondary

In a sense, America holds the ring, keeping the Eurasian conflict confined to Eurasia.

We need to see clearly what is, and what is not, in our vital interest. As Russia and China also recognize, nuclear war is in nobody’s interest, the problem arises with rogue states like Iran and North Korea, who may not understand that calculus, which is why we need to stop them from obtaining nuclear weapons because it is not a given that deterrence will work with them. That is one of America’s most vital interests.

Perhaps these or similar thoughts inspired my friend, the Administrator of All along the Watchtower (and inactive editor here) Chalcedon 451 to recall to us (in a Tweet) a post of his, which has much relevance for us.

[…]In the end, politics is a second order activity. As the third Marquis of Salisbury once said: ‘God is love and the world is what it is. Explain that?’ The answer is that we are a fallen species. At best we can produce Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and St. Francis; at worse, we produce Attila, Alexander Borgia and Hitler. We have the instincts of angels, and of demons. St Paul knew, as our faith knows, that left to ourselves we will veer off and like the dog return to its vomit. Original Sin is the one dogma that can be proven from our own experience of ourselves.

Politics can cure relatively few of our ills. At best there are some good people there who wish to make a difference to the lives of their fellows; the problem comes when they take the short cut of using the resources of others to fulfil that purpose. The intention is good, but the State is not a person and it is generally a mistake to allow its cold charity to replace the instincts of the human heart. It is best if politicians remember they are merely instruments in God’s hand and do not imagine they are that hand, or even God himself. In an era when faith in God is less, it was replaced by faith in politicians and the State; we are coming to the end of the short era in which that appeared to be a viable option to even the politicians.

People want to be told things are going to be all right in the end; children always want a good night story which ends well. That is not how life is. It is easy, tempting and inevitable that I should end by saying we need a Churchill. But we ought to recall that for the whole of the 1930s he was ignored and in the wilderness. The new democracy did not wish to be lectured or told that all was not going to be well. It wanted to believe that there would be ‘peace in our time’; it wanted to believe that Hitler was not evil in human form; it wanted, and got, its good night story. It also reaped the whirlwind.

‘Blood, toils, tears and sweat’, that was what Churchill promised us in 1940. That same democracy which had wanted pretty lies, woke up and took the truth on the chin. Our politicians are wrong to underestimate our capacity for hearing the truth spoken; as they are to underestimate our need for fairy stories.

From Conservatism, and you should read the rest even though I have presumed to grab more than I should.

There is a lot packed into those short paragraphs, and they are valid for us all. As we reflect on what the last eighty years have taught us, I think Chalcedon’s message strikes quite close to the heart of several of history’s messages to us.

The Psalmist reminds us:

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:

That is good advice for us all.

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Levin on Kavanaugh, and the Future of the Constitution

Mark Levin was on fire last night. He does a great job of showing the history of the way Kavanaugh is being lynched in Washington. He also goes into why it matters so much.

If you didn’t see it, here it is, if you did, watch it again.

Sorry to seem to be stuck on this, but if the Republicans sell us out on this one, there is little point in bothering with any of it, including voting. Because the politburo will be ruling not our representatives.

Hard to believe the Repubs can’t see that, but greed tends to make for tunnel vision.

Shit or get off the pot, Senate Republicans, It’s only the future of the Republic riding on your shoulders. And by the way, screw this up, and I for one, will never vote for you, again.


Well, perhaps on a somewhat more hopeful note, today is also the Feast Day of Our Lady of Walsingham. The two events conflate today in my mind, bringing this to my mind.

Weepe, weepe O Walsingham,
Whose dayes are nightes,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to dispites.

Sinne is where our Ladie sate,
Heaven turned is to hell,
Sathan sittes where our Lord did swaye,
Walsingham oh farewell.

Thoughtcrime in England

Well, we haven’t talked too much about Britain lately. Partly because we have an election coming up, and I agree it may be the most important midterm in our lifetimes, and so we are thinking a good bit about it. But Britain offers us a glimpse of what’s in store for us if we lose, and it ain’t pretty. Jonathan Turley, who is no one’s idea of a conservative, wrote a few days ago:

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech. Now the South Yorkshire police department is making it clear that it does not just want citizens to report crimes but “incidents” involving offensive or insulting comments. This follows an effort to make wolf whistles a crime in England.

His words are true, and they are important, but what struck me on reading this is the sheer number of links on the loss of free speech in Britain. I count it as eleven that he considered important enough to write about. That is shocking and shameful, especially in a country that once led the world in freedom.

Professor Turley wrote this time about the South Yorkshire Police, the very same bunch that covered up the organized mass rape, drugging, prostitution, and sex trafficking of white, underage, Christian girls by (mostly) Muslim gangs. I refuse to use the word grooming because I consider it nothing but a politically correct euphemism to hide the horrendous nature of the practice.

Now, we are informed, they want us to:

“In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing. Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it.”

Which is, of course, arrant nonsense, and merely designed to make people afraid to voice their opinions or even facts that are verified, for fear of being reported to the police. And yes, the BBC, and almost all other media, print and electronic, are complicit.

It is not a new practice, it was most famously practiced by the East German government agency known as the Stasi. It is reliably reported that 1 in 5 East Germans was a Stasi informer. Sounds like the South Yorkshire Police (and other police agencies in Britain) want to contest that record.

Gavin Ashenden, the former Chaplain to the Queen, also has some thoughts on the matter, and they are very worthwhile.

He [George Orwell in 1984] warned of how a state setting out to control its citizens would do it by manipulating language. He called it doublethink. And the media would follow the same pattern with what he called ‘Newspeak.’  Slowly but surely the reality of things would be hidden by language that covered the truth with a fog.

Each week the news brings more of what we experience as doublespeak in the media. Hate crimes are one of the most corrupting and dangerous ones.

At first sight, it seems almost beyond belief that a police force could decide that thought crime was more important than actual crime.

But in England, that’s what’s happening.

Take for example South Yorkshire police. They have a particularly poor record of dealing with real crime. It was that force that decided to humiliate Cliff Richard by calling in the press helicopter to cover their break in on his house, even though he was innocent. It was they who covered up over the true record of the Hillsborough disaster. And currently, it was they who ignored the mass rape of the Rotherham teenage white girls, by predatory groups of men from one distinctive faith community (known amongst some commentators as the ‘Voldemort community’ – the faith that the media dare not or will not name.)

Heckova a record isn’t it? Anything goes when the authorities want to repress free expression and especially Christianity, which is Cliff Richards real crime.

It’s not as if it’s just happening in S. Yorkshire.

The police get to make it up as it goes along now it seems. Manchester police claim: “Greater Manchester Police now recognises alternative sub-culture hate incidents. These are incidents based on someone’s appearance and include Goths, Emos, Punks and other similar groups. This means they will also record any such incidents as a hate incident. “Other similar groups” What does that mean? Anything the police want it to mean.

One of the practical problems  with pursuing issues of private hate is that you can’t get inside someone’s head to test if it really is hate you are dealing with. What if it’s just dislike, antipathy, fear, distaste, misunderstanding or shyness?

What we are developing, with some speed is the idea and practice of ‘thought crime’ where the police set out to criminalise your feelings and your thoughts. Actually, it’s not even that. It’s what other people feel your feelings and thoughts and opinions are.

Which is where Orwell comes in again. Because hate doesn’t mean hate. It means attitudes the state doesn’t want you to have or express. Hate crime is thought-crime; and thought-crime is state censorship of thought and the expression of thought, which in other places is called ‘free speech.’

Do read the entire article which is valuable. But he is entirely correct, it is nothing less than the government telling you how you are allowed to think, and telling you that you shall be punished if you don’t toe the line. Not to mention that many people will tell them about your heresy. For that is the operative term. It has become a new secular religion and is insanely jealous of its prerogatives.

And do not make the mistake of thinking it is a British or European problem. Do you really think the left in the United States is not exactly like this, as well? How many conservatives have been shouted down, deplatformed, essentially shut up?

Yeah, I’ve lost count, as well.

Sunday, Again

Sunday, again. And the silliness goes on.

People Eating Tasty Animals get owned -again

Check the time/date stamps on these!

Profits, most Likely!

More Fake News!

And, of course,

Mostly from PowerLine, as usual, and PA Pundits, Moe Lane, and Ace,.

Crime and (Lack of) Punishment

Gene Veith over at Cranach had an interesting article the other day, let’s look at it:

As an example of how the ongoing, wide-ranging Catholic sex scandal and its cover-up are undermining the church’s moral authority, notice how the Pennsylvania revelations change how we hear the Vatican’s new prohibition of capital punishment.  Oh, yes, we can’t help but think, you bishops don’t want to punish anybody.

Indeed, the very concept of punishment has been fading from child-raising, education, ethics, and theology.  Hardly any pastors, including from conservative church bodies, teach about eternal punishment anymore.  Our sensibility today recoils from it.  Which was not the case not long ago.  The Deists rejected Christianity and all revealed religion in favor of, supposedly, a religion of reason and reason alone, but they retained the notion of rewards and punishments after death, which they believed was essential to cosmic justice and a moral order.

The criminal justice system still employs punishment.  But a new cause on the left calls for abolishing prisons and judicial punishments altogether.  The self-described “abolitionists” also want to abolish police and the criminal justice system altogether, replacing them with “getting people the help they need.”

Read this sympathetic article on the movement in Politico by Ruairí Arrieta-Kenna, Abolish Prisons’ Is the New ‘Abolish ICE’:  A growing group of leftists wants to get rid of the entire prison industrial complex in America.  Read it all, but here are a few excerpts:

At first blush, the idea might seem fringe and unreasonable; where, for instance, would all the criminals go? What happens to rapists and murderers? But the movement’s backers counter that it is the only truly humane direction we can head in as a society—that is, if we really aspire to live in a world rid of interpersonal harm and racial inequality. And they might actually be making headway. . . .

[Maya] Schenwar argues, “abolition is the acceptance of an understanding that prison does not work to any good ends.” “It works to uphold white supremacy; it works to uphold capitalism; it works to uphold oppression; but it doesn’t actually work to keep us safe or to protect society in any way that is productive.”. . .

In 2015, the National Lawyers Guild adopted a resolution in support of prison abolition, and today, the abolition of police and prisons is one of the platform tenets of the Democratic Socialists of America—the growing leftist group that fiercely backed Ocasio-Cortez. . . .

Historian Harry Elmer Barnes estimated in 1921 that the advent of prisons as the conventional response to crime in the United States happened sometime during the 18th century as a result of reformists campaigning against corporal punishment.

“The system that we currently have is supposed to be more humane than if we just tortured someone,” Wilson says, “but we’re just torturing people in a different way.”

The most fundamental issue with retributive justice, pretty much every abolitionist I spoke with tells me, is that it dehumanizes people who have committed crimes. Rather, they believe, as DSA’s Bianca Cunningham puts it, “that we should be implementing policies that are treating people like human beings that make mistakes and not like animals.”

“We have come to think of murderers, rapists, child molesters,” Shehk says, “as deviants that are just kind of running wild, as though these people are not our brothers, our sisters, our uncles, our neighbors, etc. And this kind of demonization and flattening of people works to reproduce the narrative that there are people that are deserving to be locked in a cage even for life.”

“I think we can live in a society that is based on mutual support and love instead of punishment and prison. That is not a radical thing,” Carlton Williams, an abolitionist lawyer in Boston, tells me, adding, “but that’s the most radical thing you can ever say in the world.”

Read it all here.

Yep, penitentiaries were designed to make prisoners penitent, reformatories designed to reform the inmates. Neither seemed overly effective, ending up being warehouses of the worst of humanity.

Still, what is one to do, capital punishment is not proportional for stealing a handkerchief, not even multiple times, so one hopes they’ll get the message that such conduct is neither permissible not productive. Some do, most don’t, but at least while they are in jail, they don’t victimize normal citizens.

I’m gonna guess that what happened back when you got hanged for theft was a lot of private justice, whoever caught you, likely the property owner, beat hell out of you, and you learned the lesson.

And if prisons and police are abolished that’s what’ll happen again. Because people are not simply going to sit still and watch things they worked for taken by those who didn’t. Who you gonna call? Not Ghostbusters. You’re gonna call Colonel Colt, and take care of business.

And that is the trouble with so much of the leftist reformist twaddle, it assumes that people will allow such behavior. It is Pollyannish to the point of absurdity to think so. People will defend what is theirs and those they love, either through the state or they will do it themselves.

America (and Britain for that matter) have worked because the people believed that in most cases justice would be fair, balanced, and reasonably quick. Take any of those away, and the system will crash.

What those reformers will get is not Utopia, but the Hobbesian construct: “The war of all on all, red in tooth and claw”. In short, anarchy with weapons.

In truth, a lot of it is simply an attempt to deny personal responsibility, which we see in almost all parts of life these days. Nothing is ever my fault, it’s that guy (preferably white) over there, it’s his fault. In my world, we call that a circle jerk.

And as an aside, why does the Catholic Church have a homosexual/pedophile problem in its priesthood? In the last analysis, the answer is: because they tolerated it, even if they didn’t encourage it.

Respect, and Respects

So much of our life is to the background of music, at least in the modern world, with our cars and their radios. I use the older term intentionally because this post reaches back to the 60s when an AM radio was what we had. We got by comfortably.

What else we had was great music to grow up by, and those artists continue to pass over these days. One of the greatest was Aretha Franklin, who died yesterday, of pancreatic cancer.

Scott Johnson reviews the musical history, better than I can so I’ll just quote it. I also stole that perfect title from him.

The metaphor of royal lineage was not entirely amiss in Aretha’s case. Her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, was the renowned Detroit preacher whose New Bethel Baptist Church provided the original venue for Aretha and her sisters, Erma and Carolyn. She became a child star as a gospel singer, signing a recording contract with Columbia Records at age 18 via the legendary producer John Hammond. At Columbia Aretha floundered as the label tried to turn her into a nightclub singer. Columbia never quite found the means to showcase her awesome talent.

Aretha arrived in the spring of 1967, courtesy of Jerry Wexler and Atlantic Records. Wexler signed Aretha to Atlantic in the fall of 1966. He sat Aretha at a piano and placed her in the midst of sympathetic musicians at the famed Muscle Shoals Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Loved You)” was the result, and everyone involved knew that Aretha had found herself musically.

The Atlantic session resumed in New York and included the recording of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” the song that broke Aretha nationally overnight. According to Peter Guralnick’s excellent history Sweet Soul Music, Redding had a foreboding. He told Wexler upon hearing Aretha’s version of “Respect” in the studio for the first time: “I just lost my song. That girl took it away from me.” Onstage at the Monterey International Pop Festival later that year, Redding reiterated: “The girl took that song away from me.” If you were listening to the radio in the spring of 1967, you remember: The girl took the song away from him.

Yep, the girl took the song away from him.

Nobody else singing it is authentic anymore, or ever will be for any of us.

The hits just kept on a coming, she was a goodly part of the soundtrack of the growing up of a generation. Scott again:

Aretha’s glorious body of work on Atlantic ensued and continued into the mid-1970’s. The albums are full of buried treasures such as “Dr. Feelgood” and “Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream” from I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967), “Going Down Slow” from Aretha Arrives (1967), “Ain’t No Way” and “Since You’ve Been Gone” from Lady Soul (1968), “I Say a Little Prayer” from Aretha Now (1968), “River’s Invitation” from Soul ’69 (1969), “Spirit in the Dark” from the album of the same name (1970), “Call Me” from This Girl’s In Love With You (1970), “Oh Me Oh My” and “Day Dreaming” from Young, Gifted and Black (1971), “You’re All I Need to Get By” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” from Live at Fillmore West (1971), “How I Got Over” from Amazing Grace (1972), “Angel” from Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) (1973), and “With Pen in Hand,” “Until You Come Back to Me” and “A Song for You” from Let Me in Your Life (1974), an album that is itself a buried treasure. (For another take on these recordings, see Wilson & Alroy’s record reviews.)

Scott also said this…

Listening to Aretha, I began to understand that soul music is secularized gospel music. I should have figured it out earlier, I admit, but I wasn’t familiar with gospel music. In “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman, you can’t miss the lesson. What a tutorial this is, from her epochal 1967 debut on Atlantic. Here we arrive at a peak of Western civilization.

Completely right, and without him, I never would have realized it.

There is simply so much in the mix, this post could last all day. The Queen of Soul she was, and always will be. She indeed was a peak of our civilization. Behold:

And so now it is our turn to:

I never agreed with much that President Obama said, which you all know. But here, nobody could have said it better. How better than to end this.

The best there ever was or will be, and the best part is that she’ll be waiting for us. And yes, the beat goes on.

Rest in Peace

 

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