Sunday Funnies, Another Week

And of course

 

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Mandarins and Admirals

I seem to be a bit under the weather, not really sick, but instead of my normal 4-5 hours of sleep, all of a sudden, I’m sleeping 7 to 8. No bad thing, really, but my schedule doesn’t allow for it. So my posts tend to be late. So sue me. Enjoy.

We’ve talked about the ruling class fairly often, sometimes in passing, sometimes deliberately. Here some more, from Chris Bray at The Federalist. Well thought through.

In the first days of July, 1940, the American diplomat Robert Murphy took up his duties as the chargé d’affaires at the new U.S. embassy in Vichy, France. Coming from his recent post in Paris, he was as impressed as he expected to be by the quality of the Vichy mandarinate, a highly credentialed class of sophisticated officials who were “products of the most rigorous education and curricula in any public administration in the world.”

As the historian Robert Paxton would write, French officials were “the elite of the elite, selected through a daunting series of relentless examinations for which one prepared at expensive private schools.” In July 1940, the elite of the elite governed the remains of their broken nation, a few days after Adolf Hitler toured Paris as its conqueror. Credentials were the key to holding public office, but not the key to success at the country’s business.

DeGaulle, both a Catholic and an army officer, was the ultimate outsider. Well, you know that story.

In any society, the right to authority is derived from some origin everyone understands: education, bloodlines, swords in lakes. What gives the people who run the place the right to run it? Why are the leaders the leaders?

More importantly, how well does the gatekeeping work? Do the steps for choosing leaders in a society put it on a path to peace, power, and prosperity? If everyone who runs Freedonia gets to hold a position of authority because she found a magic dingleberry on the hidden path, does finding a magic dingleberry on the hidden path demonstrate that a person has consistent and effective forms of practical knowledge?[…]

Historical shifts, changes in technology and the structure of global power, undermine old knowledge and credentials. An elite status group highly gifted at X may turn out, in a new day, to lack gifts for managing Not X. Yesterday’s talent may not matter today.

Today a well-entrenched class of professional thinkers largely understands expertise as the product of formal education and relationships to elite universities: You become an expert, or start to, by acquiring academic credentials. Extra points for grad school, and more points still for being a professor like Paul Krugman or Jonathan Gruber. Like the administrative class in Vichy France, or the scholar-officials of imperial China, you’re smart if you go to school a lot and excel on your exams, so you get to be in charge of some piece of the political or cultural mechanism.

But is it working? Are our credentialing instruments producing people who are capable of practical action? To borrow a question from firefighters, can our credential-holders put the wet stuff on the red stuff?

Nearly a decade ago, Angelo Codevilla noticed the calcification of the American ruling class, a thing we sometimes pretend not to have. Our elites, he wrote, are “formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits.” Thoroughly enculturated, the American elite gathers itself around a “social canon” that one does not question. Speaking of societal controversy with the wrong words puts a person outside the circle, out there in flyover country with the deplorables.

It’s even more true in Britain, as near as I can tell, and more stifling as well. This is, of course, one of the causes of ‘politically correct’.

For 40 years, with gathering uniformity of purpose, our credentialing institutions have taught postures rather than skills, attitudes rather than knowledge. This isn’t invariably true, and many fine scholars have taught many excellent practitioners, especially outside of the humanities and social sciences. But the overarching trend is toward training in intellectual and psychological uniformity, toward the world of excellent sheep. […]

Staffing up a new administration, Barack Obama hired Power, professor Cass Sunstein, professor Steven Chu, professor Christina Romer, and so on. Donald Trump hired generals, CEOs, and governors, people who were credentialed by lives of action and management. This isn’t disagreement; this is a difference of foundational premises.

In short: Trump declines the authority of the cultural sectors that most assertively claim it. That’s the conflict, and that’s why it’s being played in a relentless tone of hysteria. There are credentialing authorities — and credential-holding elites — who can see the path to their own obsolescence. Like the empress dowager, they will not go quietly.

But if we are to remain America qua America, go they must.

There’s much more, all of it very good at Our Culture War Is Between People Who Get Results And Empty Suits With Pristine Credentials

FVhF8GU

In large measure this post is a repost of one I wrote in 2013, modified to update to today.

We write a lot here about politics and we write even more (I hope) about history. We try, sometimes well, and sometimes probably not so well, to connect one to the other.

Tomorrow will be that most truly American of holidays, Thanksgiving. Rightly it is the day we stop and give thanks to God, or whatever or whoever we each individually think most appropriate for all the good things we have. This early post is sort of a political history thanksgiving post.

We really have had a good run over the last 400 years, and I refuse to believe we are quite done, either. We have lots of problems but we always have, and in large measure, the mark of American greatness is that we have not only survived, but thrived on them. Always they have forced us to think, and act, and persevere until we worked through them.

Dan Hannan has a new book out, it’s called Inventing Freedom, and in it he discusses how the English-speaking peoples have invented freedom in our stormy trip since before there was an England, let alone America. I’m not going to say too much about it, because I haven’t read it yet. [No longer new, and I have read it, and recommend it] But as the video below shows, his views appear to pretty much parallel mine. And it made me think that we have much to be thankful for, and I’d thought I’d share a few of mine.

First, I’m grateful for you few, you wonderful few, who read my drivel, in the often forlorn hope that I have something useful to say. Thanks 🙂

Second, I’m grateful for all the rest of you wonderful bloggers and writers that have opened up a world of thinking for us all.

Third, I’m thankful that conservatism has, and always has had such wonderful thinkers and writers, I mean, really: Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, St Augustine, St.Thomas Aquinas, Sir Thomas More, Adam Smith, Locke, Burke, Voltaire, David Hume, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and such right on down to guys like Dan Hannan, Mark Levin, and all the others. It makes quite a contrast to Marx, Hitler, and Lenin.

And you, know, I’m grateful to Barack Obama, his ineptitude and attempt to reduce American power and Europeanize America has had us in crisis mode for about five years now, fighting what has often felt like a rearguard action. A crisis is, of course, a time of danger, but I think we all know that the other side of crisis is opportunity.

And the day is coming when the American revolution will happen again, I think. No, I’m not talking about an armed rebellion, although it’s possible, I think it unlikely. I mean in the same sense as the first one, finishing the circle, putting what has been put on its head back on its feet. I think America is going to see a rebirth of individual liberty.

And indeed, we did come out of the ‘reign of error’ flags high and ready to go, and for most of us, America feels much more like the optimistic place we grew up in. Yeah, we got plenty of problems still, including those fool regressives and their thugs, but increasingly the light in the tunnel seems not to be a locomotive.

Then there are our cousins in the old country. They got a serious problem. Imagine if Obama and the Congress gave the UN complete power, never mind the Constitution, over America. That’s what our cousins are fighting off with Brexit. They seem short of leadership at the moment, but hey, remember how it was here after the 2012 election?

I think they’ll pull through, not least because for over a thousand years, they always have. There’s always a dark time, but the flame has never guttered out in either Britain nor America. I doubt it will this year either.

Here’s a bit from Charles Moore’s Telegraph review of Hannan’s book

Edmund Burke, who wrote the greatest British encomium to conservatism, was a Whig. Now Daniel Hannan, who is a Tory (an ultra-sceptic MEP, in fact), has written a great encomium to Whiggery. With the eloquence of Macaulay or Trevelyan – both of whom are liberally quoted here – Hannan sweeps us through English history to show the triumph of law-based liberty and “that total understanding which can only exist between people speaking the same tongue”. With incredible ingenuity, he finds the marks of this genius in almost everything the English have done.

I say “the English”. Hannan has no race theory – pointing out, for example, how “English” oriental people can be in Hong Kong, Singapore or India – but he certainly believes in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. The Norman Conquest was, in his view, a “calamity”. It is because of Saxon Witans, and Saxon law, and Kipling’s Saxon yeoman who “stands like an ox in his furrow” demanding fair dealing, that we are a free people today, he thinks. He even complains that the Normans, being more snooty, let us keep plain Saxon words – cow, pig, lamb – for living animals, but imposed their own French-derived ones for the cooked version – beef, pork, mutton.

Norman and Saxon

"The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice
      right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow--with his sullen set eyes 
     on your own,
And grumbles, 'This isn't fair dealing,' my son, leave the Saxon
     alone."You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your
      Picardy spears;
But don't try that game on the Saxon; you'll have the whole 
     brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained 
              serf in the field,
They'll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise,
                  you  will  yield.

And a bit of Hannan himself

We are still experiencing the after-effects of an astonishing event. The inhabitants of a damp island at the western tip of the Eurasian landmass stumbled upon the idea that the government ought to be subject to the law, not the other way around. The rule of law created security of property and contract, which in turn led to industrialisation and modern capitalism. For the first time in the history of the species, a system grew up that, on the whole, rewarded production better than predation.

Why did it happen? Why, after thousands of years of oligarchy and tyranny, did a system evolve that lifted the individual above the tribe rather than the reverse? How did that system see off rival models that elevated collective endeavour, martial glory, faith and sacrifice over liberty and property? How did the world come to speak our language?

Continue reading How we invented freedom – and why it matters – Telegraph Blogs.

And Daniel Hannan at Heritage

The Day After

So, I hear there was an election, had anybody mentioned that to you?

Yeah, I’m still sorting it out, maybe I’ll tell you what I think in a few days. For right now, Dov Fischer in The American Spectator makes a lot of sense to me.

Republicans knew the House was going to flip. It is common to argue over polling predictions days or weeks in advance, when survey numbers are within a reasonable margin, especially when only one race is in question. But with 435 House races, and so many lining up for Democrat flips, the settled question had become whether a “blue wave” would overturn Washington in a tsunami, even flowing up-ticket for Democrat gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates, and whether the President’s agenda would be stymied or even stifled.

Ultimately, that “blue wave” proved modest, enough to flip the House as expected but not more. Indeed, if he could have had one dream from his father, Obama could only have wished that the 2010 and 2014 midterms had been this modest. In 2010, the Republicans gained 63 House seats — the biggest House pick-up since 1948 and the biggest midterm pick-up since 1938 — and six U.S. Senate seats. The GOP even ended up controlling 26 state legislatures and 29 governorships. In the 2014 Obama midterms, the Republicans somehow found thirteen more House seats to net, and they gained nine more Senate seats, retaking the Senate and scoring the largest midterm Senate pick-up in 56 years. They also grew to 31 governorships while controlling 68 state legislative chambers. Similarly, the 1994 Clinton midterms saw Republicans gain 54 House seats, eight Senate seats, and ten governorships. You want to talk “waves”? Them’s waves. Them’s tsunamis.By contrast, this one did not even see the oceans stop rising. So, perspective.

It is true that a Democrat House will mean stalemate in areas where the House can jam progress. Therefore, the President will have to find his $25 billion for The Wall by taking it from the $716 billion defense budget already allocated for Year 2019 instead of getting it at the next Budget Reconciliation. The House cannot touch his judicial nominations or cabinet appointments, but they can waste resources by conducting endless investigations aimed at Resist and Disrupt. Along the way, the two sides possibly will coalesce on a great new infrastructure-modernizing program, an objective important to both. Maybe also on that new ten-percent tax cut for the Middle Class that the President has been touting. On the other hand, a DACA deal is questionable because Republicans do not want to legalize more undocumented people, and the Democrats prefer to keep the so-called “Dreamers” as permanent pawns; otherwise, the Democrats would have resolved it when they had a filibuster-proof Senate, the House, and Obama. House subpoenas to the President and his cabinet will fly fast-and-furious, feeding CNN panel discussions when Malaysia flights are not in the news, and turning into endless federal litigation, giving the federal judiciary a chance to remind suburban Caucasian voters by 2020 that their own tax returns matter more than those of the Trump family. Time and resources in the hundreds of millions will be wasted, and the trope about how “the American People are too smart to…” will again be proven trite. So that is the bad news for the GOP, though it could have been infinitely worse.

For Republicans, the huge news is that an undetected “red wave” roared in the Senate. We all knew that Heidi Heitkamp was a goner in North Dakota, and she lost to Republican Kevin Cramer by more than ten points. But beyond that, America went even deeper-red conservative in the U.S. Senate, and the Republican Party no longer is the McCain-Romney “sweetie-pie RINO” alternative to Left Democrats but now has evolved into a seriously conservative, Middle Class, combative party that fights back when punched. That, too, was the Kavanaugh impact: instead of withdrawing a good man’s nomination in the face of defamation and perjury — the way Richard Nixon had caved on Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell — this time the Republicans, led by Lindsey Graham, hit back at the bullies and won. No more “sweetie-pie” apologetics aimed at currying the favor of CNN and MSNBC, the New York Times and WaPo, but a serious conservative party with a conservative agenda that includes building the Dam Wall, cutting taxes, ending globalism and international accords that help every country but ours, and boldly asserting that this country is proud and unique — and we like it that way.

Keep reading at the link above. So far, I haven’t found anything here that I disagree with.

Amazing what a difference a spine makes.

Sunday Funnies on Monday

There was a demonstration in London the other day. Here’s a picture.

Here’s a close up of one of the leaders.

There’s a reason I don’t watch anymore. In fact, the entire BBC is like this, including the news. Can you say CNN with a better accent?

Meanwhile over here.

Seven deadly sins, There’s an app for that

And finally, IDF soldier Orin Julie

Some from PowerLine, some from Ace‘s, some from other places that I can’t remember.

Democrats and Mobs (BIRM)

Steven Hayward over at PowerLine noticed something, well, so did I, and maybe you did too. The Democrats sure do love their mobs.

News item: Two GOP candidates assaulted in Minnesota.

News item: Antifa mob overruns Portland, and Democratic mayor stands aside. (And to think, I had dinner once with Ted Wheeler a few years ago, before he was elected mayor of Portland, and thought he was a sensible human being. Another case of misleading first impressions I guess.)

New item: Ricin sent to Sen. Susan Collins.

News item: Democrat assaults, critically injures Republican Senator in capitol.

Ok, that last one is from 1851, but it rather makes the point. Others could be added.

  • The New York Draft Riots during the Civil War

Not as clearly linked, but given the party’s history of racism, I’d guess there is some connection.

  • The East St. Louis riot in 1917
  • The Red Summer of 1919

And of course, the whole series in the 1960s culminating for a time at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

And Ferguson, and Baltimore – the list goes on.

And that’s just the high points.

Back when Abraham Lincoln was 28 years old, he gave what we know as his Lyceum Speech, in it, he said this.

But you are, perhaps, ready to ask, “What has this to do with the perpetuation of our political institutions?” I answer, it has much to do with it. Its direct consequences are, comparatively speaking, but a small evil; and much of its danger consists, in the proneness of our minds, to regard its direct, as its only consequences. Abstractly considered, the hanging of the gamblers at Vicksburg, was of but little consequence. They constitute a portion of population, that is worse than useless in any community; and their death, if no pernicious example be set by it, is never matter of reasonable regret with any one. If they were annually swept, from the stage of existence, by the plague or small pox, honest men would, perhaps, be much profited, by the operation. Similar too, is the correct reasoning, in regard to the burning of the negro at St. Louis. He had forfeited his life, by the perpetration of an outrageous murder, upon one of the most worthy and respectable citizens of the city; and had he not died as he did, he must have died by the sentence of the law, in a very short time afterwards. As to him alone, it was as well the way it was, as it could otherwise have been. But the example in either case, was fearful. When men take it in their heads today, to hang gamblers, or burn murderers, they should recollect, that, in the confusion usually attending such transactions, they will be as likely to hang or burn some one, who is neither a gambler nor a murderer as one who is; and that, acting upon the example they set, the mob of tomorrow, may, and probably will, hang or burn some of them, by the very same mistake. And not only so; the innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defence of the persons and property of individuals, are trodden down, and disregarded. But all this even, is not the full extent of the evil. By such examples, by instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished, the lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become, absolutely unrestrained. Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much, as its total annihilation. . .

Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocratic spirit, which all must admit, is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any Government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed—I mean the attachment of the People. Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with impunity; depend on it, this Government cannot last.

Hat tip to Steve (link above) for the speech as well. As Steve points out, it seems that even non-radical Democrats think the Constitution needs to be replaced (with their cause of the day, as near as I can figure) so the government not lasting might be considered, by them, as a feature, not a bug.

Well, The Duke of Wellington said of the French after Waterloo, “They came on in the same old way, and we stopped them in the same old way”. One hopes that it doesn’t come to whiffs of grapeshot and the rattle of musketry, but what must be done will be done. That oath says all enemies, foreign and domestic, no exemption for the Democratic Party.

In Federalist #10 James Madison reminds us,  “… democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” And that is exactly the point to the Constitution in this Republic.

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