Washington has seen it all, and seen it off, before

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the military at a rally at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Dec. 26, 2018.Andrew Harnik/AP

Back in 1973, Canadian journalist Gordon Sinclair had some things to say about America, as we plowed through the shambles left by Vietnam, Watergate, and general chaos. It started like this:

“This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for
the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least
appreciated people on all the earth.

Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and
Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the
Americans who poured in billions of dollars and
forgave other billions in debts. None of these
countries is today paying even the interest on its
remaining debts to the United States. […]

If you were a sentient American at the time, I suspect you remember it, it was republished in most American papers. It’s the only article I ever recall my Mom clipping from our local paper and giving to me. It mattered. You can read it here.

Now there is another. Conrad Black published an article in Canada’s National Post, that I think we Americans need to read, to remind ourselves who we really are. It’s entitled: America’s resurgence is reshaping the world. Here’s part of it.

Almost indiscernible in the endless tumult about President Donald Trump is the objective return of American might, right on our doorstep. A casual sampler of the Canadian, and even the American, media, might think that the United States was so far along in its decline that the entire process of government and normal public discourse had broken down in that country, and that the much-discussed process of national decline was accelerating in a climate of virtual chaos.

In fact, the economy of the United States is astoundingly strong: full employment, an expanding work force, negligible inflation and about three per cent economic growth. And it is a broad economic recovery, not based on service industries as in the United Kingdom (where London handles most of Europe’s financial industry, while most of British industry has fled), and not based largely on the fluctuating resources markets as has often been Canada’s experience. In the eight years of president Obama, the United States lost 219,000 manufacturing jobs; in the two years of Trump, the country has added 477,000 manufacturing jobs. This was not supposed to be possible, and this time, unlike in the great Reagan boom, it cannot be dismissed by the left (and it was false in the eighties) as a profusion of “hamburger flippers, dry cleaners and people delivering pizza,” (all necessary occupations).

He writes here of China and oil and he does so most aptly, and I think realistically, you really should read the entire article.

What were for centuries the Great Powers, and for nearly 50 years after the Second World War, the principal Western Allies and the Soviet Union, have been reconfigured. The Soviet Union has been sliced down to Russia with about 40 per cent of the former Soviet population, offering a pallid replication of Gaullist efforts to make France great again by being an annoying gadfly irritating the Americans around the world. Charles de Gaulle was a great statesman, who personified the historic cultural and political attainments of France in its most difficult and dishonoured times; Vladimir Putin is just another chief thug residing in the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, in Europe…

France has elected a complete outsider as president and the brave new regime has been humbled and defiled by the imperishable Paris mobs, the extras and stagehands at 10 abrupt and profound changes of governmental structure in 230 years, and of countless sporting efforts to get the regimes’ attention with riots and vandalism. The splendid boulevards of Paris have seen it all before many times. Mighty Germany, its governing coalition almost worn threadbare by the imprudent admission of a million desperate Middle Eastern and African refugees, has delivered itself over to energy dependence on the feeble gangster-state of Russia while cutting its NATO contribution to half of what it had promised and complaining of American lack of enthusiasm to continue carrying Germany on its crowded and under-appreciated shoulders. Italy is in more profound political shambles than ever; Spain is distracted by a separatist threat that the central government has bungled (it could have learned from Canada but didn’t).

Through it all, the United States, appearing to be disorderly, its establishment and media at war with the occupant of the White House, is demonstrating almost effortlessly how illusory is the idea that any other country or group of countries can challenge its pre-eminence among the world’s nations. Canadians may not like it; the world may try to pretend otherwise, but however the domestic political tides of America may flow, North Korea is on its best behaviour, the ayatollahs are quaking in their voluminous raiment, and all America’s trade partners, including Canada and China, are accepting what amounts to unilateral renegotiation by the U.S. No other country in the world has any appreciable influence at all more than a few hundred miles from its borders (an area that includes 95 per cent of the population of Canada).

And so, 45 years after Mr. Sinclair touched America’s heart at a tender moment, nothing much has changed, except a whole bunch of America’s opponents are laid low, and a new set are on their way to join them. The beat goes on in the Great Republic.

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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 Boring Preaching of the Left

Joel Kotkin wrote recently in City Journal on Today’s Cultural Engineers. It’s pretty interesting.

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin once labeled writers and other creative people “engineers of the soul.” In his passion to control what people saw and read, Stalin both coddled artists and enforced unanimity through the instruments of a police state. Today, fortunately, we don’t face such overt forms of cultural control, but the trends in American and to some extent European mass culture are beginning to look almost Stalinesque in their uniformity. This becomes painfully obvious during awards season, when the tastes and political exigencies of the entertainment industry frequently overpower any sense of popular preferences, or even artistic merit.

Our cultural climate has become depressingly monochromatic. Award ceremonies, once a largely nonpolitical experience, have become reflecting pools for preening progressive artistes. Those emceeing the awards must be as politically pure as possible—sorry, Kevin Hart—and those winning acclaim get the best press if, besides thanking their producers and agents, they take a shot at Donald Trump.

This dynamic is not exactly the byproduct of popular demand. In recent years, ratings for the Oscars have fallen to the lowest levels since the awards were televised, down from over 40 million to fewer than 30 million. The ratings decline tracks the fall in movie attendance, which has sunk to a 25-year low. We’re a long way from a time when awards nights were dominated by popular mainstream winners such as West Side StoryThe Sound of Music, or even the original Lord of the Rings. The movie industry makes money now by producing sequels of movies based on comic books, with relentless action and violence but little character development.

As movies and television shows in both the United States and Britaintoday increasingly adopt the feminist, gay, and racial obsessions of their makers, they have written off a large portion of the less politically “woke” audience. Many of these shows, such as Britain’s venerable Doctor Whohave hemorrhaged viewers since taking on a more preachy, PC aspect. “It’s supposed to be entertainment,” one disgruntled viewer complained. Late-night television, now dominated by stridently anti-Trump comedians, also has seen ratings drop in recent years; no show has close to the number of viewers, let alone the iconic status, enjoyed by the late—and largely apolitical—Johnny Carson.

That’s certainly true for me. We turned off the TV portion of the cable (it’s the best value on high-speed internet) years ago. I have the stuff to watch most anything on my computer – but I don’t. I don’t think I’ve turned a TV broadcast on yet this year and don’t foresee doing so. Just not interested in anything they’re selling. I used to love Dr. Who, I didn’t make it 5 minutes with the new one.

The problem is they (pretty much every TV program, including the news) have become that preacher that always put you to sleep when you were a kid. They won’t shut up and they won’t change the subject, and so we’re tuning out, shutting it off. Who was it that said a fanatic is someone who won’t shut up and won’t change the subject? That’s US and UK news and entertainment media.

Welp, know what? That same software that lets me watch the current swill they call TV, lets me watch the old stuff. Not uncommon at all to sit back here and enjoy a John Wayne movie, hopefully with Maureen O’Hara, or at least Kate Hepburn, where men were men, bad guys wore black hats, the women were gorgeous and powerful in their own right, but still liked guys. You know kind of like the world most of us still live in. It’s better outside the left’s hothouse. I’m staying out, you’re welcome to join me. The whisky and cigars are on the bar.

A Historic Vote in Parliament

And so, tomorrow UK time, Parliament will vote on May’s Withdrawal Agreement, which isn’t. It’s an amazing document, given that its existence is premised on the authority of a passed referendum that asked,  “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

That is very clear and unambiguous, remarkably so, in fact. And so were the results, 51.9% of the electorate (in the largest UK turnout ever) said: “Leave”.

But the British swamp (pretty much the same players as the American swamp, but with a British accent) disagreed with the people. Loudly, coarsely, contemptuously, and disgracefully they disagree. It hasn’t been edifying watching as they attempted to spin, lie and otherwise weasel out of what the sovereign people said. This attempt is the keystone of May’s Prime Ministership, to undermine the will of the people. It’s a hell of a mess, perhaps worse than what Trump is fighting, not least because the people have few allies in Parliament, the Civil Service, or the City (that square mile, mentioned in Magna Charta) that has had pretensions to know better than anybody what is good for the UK, ever since.

If the domestic enemies of the people were not enough, then there is the EU. They are already on a bumpy ride to oblivion and fighting a rearguard action to preserve what is increasingly seen as das Vierte Reich, the fourth incarnation of the German Empire.

What May’s agreement does not do is withdraw from the EU, in fact, what it does is even worse than staying in, it removes any influence Britain has in the EU (not much) and strips Britain of voting rights in the organization. It is literally worse than staying in the status quo. It was evidently dictated to May by second level officials of the EU, not surprisingly, German allies of Merkel’s.

The other option is, of course, a clear exit on WTO terms, and then as is proper, to negotiate trade deals with all and sundry. Rumor has it that the US has one waiting that is very favorable to the UK, and it is likely that the Commonwealth does as well.

Would there be disruption? Perhaps, but its hard to see why. Trade is in everybody’s interest. Germany is still a metal-bashing economy, what they do best is make cars. The UK is comparable, maybe superior, as a twenty-first century economy to the US, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and an end to the EU asset stripping of manufacturing to relocate in Eastern Europe would enhance employment for regular people, as we’ve seen here in the last two years.

Greg Hands, the MP for Chelsea and Fulham, and a former Minister of State at the Department of International Trade wrote this for Conservative Home a few days ago.

[…]But most Brussels commentators maintain that Brexit details are determined by their respective number twos: Martin Selmayr (Chief of Staff to Juncker since 2014, and – controversially – General Secretary of the European Commission since March 2018) and Sabine Weyand, deputy to Barnier.

Both happen to be German. Indeed, Die Welt, the leading German daily, early on in the negotiations did a feature titled‘The top German players in the Brexit poker game’, with a certain pride, on their central role in the coming talks.

Selmayr and Weyand – the well-connected German officials, behind the scenes […]

In September 2017, Selmayr was reported to have blasted Brexit as “stupid”.  “He is a theologian who regards the British as heretics,” was how a former British ambassador to Brussels described him to The Times.

It is Selmayr who stands accused of having leaked the details of two dinners between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Although he denies this. The accounts claimed May “begged for help” and described May as appearing “anxious”, “tormented”, “despondent and discouraged,” and cruelly described how our Prime Minister appeared to be having sleepless nights.

Juncker – or more likely Selmayr – vetoed greater transparency in the Brexit talks and specifically recommendations from the EU’s official watchdog that Weyand’s role be more scrutinised and her meetings published.

What they now say about the Brexit Agreement: and why that should warn us, British MPs, in advance of next week’s vote

Since the Withdrawal Agreement was finalised in November, Selmayr and Weyand have left most of the public words to their bosses Juncker and Barnier, but behind the scenes various reports have emerged of what these two officials think. And these officials are the ones who know the detail best. Both have been clear that the Agreement is overwhelmingly favourable to the European Union.

There are credible reports that the British armed forces have already been assigned roles in the so-called EU army, often said under German officers, and that intelligence functions will be extended. This last is important, the premier intelligence operation in the world is Five Eyes: Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Britain is, always has been, a key player in this. This agreement will end this, and possibly NATO as well.

So that is what this vote tomorrow is all about. Perhaps the most important vote in the entire Anglosphere since the British decided (without public approval) to join the EEC, the predecessor of the EU.

We’ll see if Parliament has the guts to legislate for the (not very) United Kingdom, or is content to throw away a thousand years of history for the satisfaction of surrendering British sovereignty to German bureaucrats.

A proper British Prime Minister would simply tell the EU to sod off.

The date today could just as well be 10 May 1940.

Sunday Funnies: American Gothic

Was there ever a more instant meme? Or a more obvious one, than Schumer and Pelosi at that one lectern. Everyone had exactly the same reaction, pretty much. I think I’ve seen 150 variations. Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you all of them, or nothing else, but it is remarkable. Not a good look for them, either, I think,

That’s maybe a third of the ones I’ve seen, but I’m getting bored, so let’s move on.

Doing Public Service

And, of course

 

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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