Donald Trump: An American Patriot of the Same Stripe as Ronald Reagan

From my friend, Danmillerinpanama whom many of you will know, but if you happened to miss the post, you’re missing a good one. A bit…

 

To my mind, that unholy dialectic between political power and an agenda of enforced dependency is one of the most despicable and destructive coefficients of the administrative state. It is despicable because it deploys power for personal aggrandizement under the camouflage of helping (i.e., pretending to help) others (the “Great Society,” etc.). It is destructive because its end is the eclipse of liberty for the sake of expanding and institutionalizing the apparatus of bureaucracy (and the perquisites of the bureaucrats running it).

So I applaud the president’s plan to cut taxes and allow Americans to keep a bit more of what after all is their own money. (We tend to forget this.)

But although taxes formed the official centerpiece of the president’s speech last night, and though I liked what he said about taxes, I thought the most impressive part of the speech was its rhetorical setting.  The occasion was a meeting of Heritage Foundation supporters. Accordingly, President Trump began by talking about the importance of embracing our history, our heritage. “For America to have CONFIDENCE in our future, we must have PRIDE in our HISTORY.”

I think that is right, and I think it is worth pondering each of the three stressed words.

One of the great liabilities of so-called identity politics is that, ironically, it acts as a solvent on shared cultural confidence. The irony flows from the fact that identity politics is supposed to leave its partisans with an enhanced sense of self-worth and solidarity but in fact it tends to isolate them in rancid grievance ghettos.

Along the way last night, the president spoke up for preserving our heritage, our history, an enterprise that encompasses not just the preservation of monuments and other historical markers that commemorate our past, but also extends to the spiritual decorum of civic respect: standing for the national anthem, for example, or (since this multiethnic country was and is, as Samuel Huntington observed, a country of “Anglo-Protestant” values) wishing people “Merry Christmas” in due season.<

It is worth noting, by the way, that saying one should have  pride in our history and confidence in our culture is not thereby to issue a plenary indulgence for past wrongdoing.  The fact that people erect a statue commemorating Gen. Robert E. Lee does not in any way imply that they are racist advocates of chattel slavery, any more than erecting a statue of JFK implies that one is an advocate of satyriasis.

Do read it all at Donald Trump: An American Patriot of the Same Stripe as Ronald Reagan. Because what Dan sees is what I also see, an American patriot, who will do his best (and his best is proving pretty damned good) for America. Perfect? No, he’s a man, and an imperfect one, as we all are. And that post from Theodore Roosevelt in my sidebar is my measure of a president.

“Every man, who parrots the cry of ‘stand by the President’ without adding the proviso ‘so far as he serves the Republic’ takes an attitude as essentially unmanly as that of any Stuart royalist who championed the doctrine that the King could do no wrong. No self-respecting and intelligent free man could take such an attitude.”

And the inverse is just as true, any man who parrots the cry of stand against the president, so far as he misserves the Republic, is as unmanly as TR said. And yes, I’m looking at you, Bill Kristol, who was one of the people in the conservative movement I admired most, until last year.

And Dan’s ending for his post will do admirably for this one as well.

That is no surprise. The history of the world is full of redemption and conversion stories, from Saul of Tarsus to Henry V and beyond. Quoth the King at the end of Henry IV Part 2:

Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn’d away my former self.

The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating.  It seems to me that in just nine months Donald Trump has given us a lot of savory tidbits to chew on.  Some people might object to the style.  But how about the substance?  In any event, it seems ungracious, not to say short-sighted, to withhold any possibility of reformation from a man just because he had the temerity to win an election without the permission of the would-be governing class.

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Sir Robert Scruton on Capitalism

Last week, Reaction published an article by Sir Roger Scruton. They class it as a long read,  which it is. It is also a most interesting read, which you should read and ponder. So, here it is, for your discernment, and if you are anything like me, enjoyment. And besides, it is something not to do (at least directly) with violence, which is a welcome change after the last few days.

So put your thinking caps on, get yourself a cup of coffee, and enjoy.

In 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, there were many cheerful people in the West who said, ‘Great! The battle between socialism and capitalism is over; and capitalism has won.’ They would have been astonished by anyone who told them that, a quarter of a century later, one of the favourite candidates for US President would describe himself as a ‘democratic socialist’, that the leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom would be a Marxist, that radical socialist parties would be powerful forces all across the Northern Mediterranean or that Albania, having freed itself from the most cruel and ignorant of all the post-war communist regimes, would be governed by a party calling itself socialist. So how should we understand this surprising turn of events? Is it just a matter of words – that people call themselves socialists, for whatever reason, but act in quite another way? Or has the old disease really broken out again? Or was it not a disease but a cure? And if so, a cure of what?

My first response is to say that, yes, it is in part a matter of words. But no, the words are soaked in emotions, and the emotions are powerful. Take the word ‘capitalism’, introduced by Saint-Simon, to be taken up by Marx. It was supposed to describe an economic system, in which private individuals (the ‘capitalists’) own the ‘means of production’. On Marx’s view, capitalists formed a class, the owners of property, who stand opposed to the working class, the class of those who have nothing to sell except their labour. Out of this picture there grew the epic story of ‘class struggle’, leading to revolution, as the workers seized control of assets that had, in effect, been stolen from them. The epic story was immensely seductive. It gave people a just cause to fight for. It rationalised resentment against the rich and aligned the heroic intellectual with the poor in their fight to possess what is rightly theirs. It both justified revolution and predicted it as inevitable. And it made ‘capital’ into a kind of agent in history. The capitalists acted together as a class; they formed a kind of conspiracy against the rest of us. They controlled not only the means of production but all the institutions that stemmed from it and supported it – the church, the law, the schools and universities, the military. More, they controlled the ideology, the set of ideas and beliefs that represented their control as legitimate. In short, the word ‘capitalism’, introduced to describe an economic system, ended up as a description of an organised enemy of mankind, an invading army in the midst of us, which controlled everything, stole everything and meanwhile neutralised all our attempts at rebellion with the ‘false consciousness’ instilled through its propaganda.

Described in that way ‘capitalism’ ceased to be a word of economic theory. It became a summons to war. And then we need another word, to describe those who are on ‘the other side’ against this enemy. And that word is ‘socialism’. We are to fight for socialism, against the capitalist enemy. That is the message that has been drummed into us relentlessly since the Communist Manifesto. Of course, Marx saw socialism merely as an intermediate stage, on the way to communism. But he did not have the faintest idea as to how communism would come about, once the dictatorship of the proletariat had been established, and – what is more – he did not really care. It is the fight for socialism, and the revolution that would result from this, that interested him. And the same has been true of all socialists in our time. They take their inspiration from the thing that they are against, not from the future that is supposed to replace it.

Much of our confusion today comes from the fact that the situation for which the word ‘capitalism’ was invented has disappeared. Marx’s picture was of an economy devoted to the ‘production’ of material goods, in factories that belonged to representative members of the ‘capitalist’ class. A few such factories and a few such capitalist owners still exist. But the modern economy is a ‘service economy’: it is providing advice, contacts, entertainment, travel, things for hire and rent. The enterprises that provide these things are rarely owned by individuals, but usually by shareholders who do not control them. The managers who control them are also employed by them. Employees enjoy varying degrees of influence over the organisation, from the bare minimum exerted by the office cleaner to the extensive control of the CEO. Power is delegated at every level, and each level of management ‘reports to’ the one above, rather than obeying explicit orders. The whole thing has evolved ‘by an invisible hand’, in accordance with the natural ability of rational beings to cooperate and to compete with each other. Who, in this arrangement, is the capitalist, and who the proletarian? The old story can no longer be told. So what on earth do people now mean by ‘capitalism’, and what is the ‘socialist’ alternative?

The one thing that our modern systems have in common with the system described (and to some extent invented) by Marx is private property, and the freedom to exchange it, to accumulate it, and to give it away. This freedom is not absolute: some exchanges are forbidden by law, most are taxed, and in some countries inheritance taxes and capital taxes penalize accumulations. Nevertheless the freedom to own and deal in private property is at the heart of the modern economy, and in so far as the word ‘capitalism’ means anything today it denotes this freedom, and all that has issued from it. At the same time new forms of ownership have emerged – shares, options, copyright, royalties – which blur the margins between private and public property. In these circumstances it is very hard to know what the alleged conflict between capitalism and socialism really amounts to.

Much more at The case for capitalism must be made afresh. Do go there and enjoy!

Week in Pictures, Taking a Knee Edition

Well, one can’t say nobody pays attention to the NFL, can they? As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Sky News out the UK, and what I’m hearing tells us all about why Britain ain’t what it used to be. But all five of them think that the players have the support of the people and that President Trump is wrong. Well, I’m very afraid these representative of the British ruling class have lost their place. Cause I don’t see any evidence of even close to a majority of Americans agreeing with them. Bothersome as it is to some, Trump speaks for the average American here. And this being America, the marketplace will rule, and that is a very bad forecast for a brand as out-of-touch as the NFL.

My opinion is that the NFL has made the greatest marketing decision, since New Coke. Maybe worse cause I don’t think there is much of a road back. Best thing to happen to The Legends League, the NCAA, and the NHL in quite a while/

Imagine what would happen if your kid took this to school today?

You Choose!

And, of course!

mostly from Bookworm and PowerLine as usual

Week in Picture, German Election Edition

The Germans vote today, so we’ll see if they’ve had enough of the Reichskanzler, who has been in office longer than anybody since you know who. The media says yes, but if you haven’t noticed they’ve occasionally been wrong,  but were right in France, so we’ll see.

mm

This could be true in Germany, too

Headline of the week. Ach, if only it were so!

Mostly from Bookworm and PowerLine.

Have a good week. And remember

America Burning

I don’t know if you noticed, but I certainly have that over my lifetime, forest fires (and similar wildfires) have increased dramatically, both in number and in scale and intensity. Why? Well many of us, who are blessed with experience and common sense have noticed it is because of how we manage these areas. Paul Driessen at PA Pundits – International tells us that might finally be changing.

President Trump promised to bring fresh ideas and policies to Washington. Now Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are doing exactly that in a critically important area: forest management and conflagration prevention. Their actions are informed, courageous, and long overdue.

Westerners are delighted, and I’ve advocated such reforms since my days on Capitol Hill in the 1980s.

As of September 12, amid this typically long, hot, dry summer out West, 62 major forest fires are burning in nine states, the National Interagency Fire Center reports. The Interior Department and Ag Department’s Forest Service have already spent over $2 billion fighting them. That’s about what they spent in all of 2015, previously the most costly wildfire season ever, and this season has another month or more to go. The states themselves have spent hundreds of millions more battling these conflagrations.

Millions of acres of forest have disappeared in smoke and flames – 1.1 million in Montana alone. All told, acreage larger than New Jersey has burned already. However, even this hides the real tragedies.

The infernos exterminate wildlife habitats, roast eagle and spotted owl fledglings alive in their nests, immolate wildlife that can’t run fast enough, leave surviving animals to starve for lack of food, and incinerate organic matter and nearly every living creature in the thin soils. They turn trout streams into fish boils, minus the veggies and seasonings. Future downpours and rapid snowmelts bring widespread soil erosion into streambeds. Many areas will not grow trees or recover their biodiversity for decades.

Most horrifically, the conflagrations threaten homes and entire communities. They kill fire fighters and families that cannot get away quickly enough, or get trapped by sudden walls of flames.

In 2012, two huge fires near Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, CO, burned 610 homes, leaving little more than ashes, chimneys, and memories. Tens of thousands of people had to be evacuated through smoke and ash that turned daytime into choking night skies. Four people died. A 1994 fire near Glenwood Springs, CO, burned 14 young firefighters to death.

These are not “natural” fires of environmentalist lore, or “ordinary” fires like those that occur in state and privately owned and managed forests. Endless layers of laws, regulations, judicial decrees, and guidelines for Interior and Forest Service lands have meant that most Western forests have been managed like our 109 million acres of designated wilderness: they are hardly managed at all.

Environmentalists abhor timber cutting on federal lands, especially if trees might feed profit-making sawmills. They would rather see trees burn than let someone cut them. They constantly file lawsuits to block any cutting, and too many judges are all too happy to support their radical ideas and policies.

Thus, even selective cutting to thin dense stands of timber, or to remove trees killed by beetles or fires, is rarely permitted. Even fire fighting and suppression are often allowed only if a fire was clearly caused by arson, careless campers, or other human action – but not if lightning ignited it. Then it’s allowed to burn, until a raging inferno is roaring over a ridge toward a rural or suburban community.

The result is easy to predict. Thousands of thin trees grow on acreage that should support just a few hundred full-sized mature trees. Tens of billions of these scrawny trees mix with 6.3 billion dead trees that the Forest Service says still stand in 11 Western states. Vast forests are little more than big trees amid closely bunched matchsticks and underbrush, drying out in hot, dry western summers and droughts – waiting for lightning bolts, sparks, untended campfires, or arsonists to start super-heated conflagrations.

Do keep reading, he goes into what is starting to change, finally, and it is quite interesting.

And that is the thing I’ve noticed as long as I’ve lived in the west, and that is about 30 years or a bit more by now, the so-called environmental do-gooders organizations don’t and never have, really given a damn about the forest, the rivers, the fish and wildlife, erosion, or any of the other things they jabber on about, all they care about is curtailing civilization, and power over others. Knowing this explains a good bit of my (and probably others, as well) skepticism with regard to global cooling/global warming/climate change. It’s brought to you by the same bunch of Luddites. There may be a bit more to it, but it is far from proven, which is why we see religious furor, rather than reason used to advance the cause.

It also likely has to do with why we use mostly Canadian lumber to build in the United States. I don’t have a problem with that, but a bit more competition would be good, as it always is, for the consumer. And the timber companies have long since proved that they know far better than government how to manage forests. The government management of forests as shown in the linked articles (more here) is not designed for the good of the forest, or of the people, but to advance an agenda, which is to destroy modern civilization, and thus to quite literally kill people. This agenda is, as we have all seen, advanced with the religious fervor of a dervish attack.

It’s time for common sense to finally break out, and it looks like Secretaries Zinke and Perdue are starting to do so. May their efforts be rewarded.

Video Monday

I was doing things other than writing last night, once in a while, I like to step away from the blog, and recharge, and doing this seven days a week can get to be a pain. Okay, whinge over, and yeah, I volunteered. How about some videos today? Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve watched these, most of them more than once, and I like them. I think you will too. Obviously, you don’t have to watch all of them, watch the ones that interest you, but they all cover some facet of what we do here.

Steve Bannon making sense? Yep, surprising as it is.

Ben Shapiro on why your feeling don’t matter

I wish we could convince the Brits of this because it is obviously true.

The modern world is a Tudor Enterprise. Think about that for a bit. That is what one can accomplish with “the stomach of a king, and yes, a King of England”.

As we change course a bit, just who is smarter? Eh, who cares, really? But Siobahn! 🙂

We’ve said this many times: If you do not have the freedom to fail, you can not succeed.

How we got rich…

How to keep it happening:

Sense a theme here? Yep, there is one. It’s called personal responsibility. If you want to accomplish something, you need to take responsibility for it. Whether you’re Stephan Langton leading the barons to Runnymede, Queen Elizabeth humbling the greatest Empire of the age, our founders doing that humbling thing again, or the guy that wants to start the next Microsoft; you need to own it, to work hard at it, and maybe fail a few times before you get it figured out, not run to Washington, claiming to be a victim. We, the Anglophone nations built the world we live in following these simple rules, seems silly to me to quit doing something that has worked so well.

Although I suppose if I simply desired power over others without reason, simply the power of the clenched fist, I would probably dislike this world, with its emphasis on freedom and justice. Think about that.

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