Some vital perspective

In an online forum, a professor asks where to place Trump on a list of world leaders.  Most likely blinded by Trump derangement syndrome, the professor concludes Trump comes in ahead of Stalin.  Another forum participant has a better analysis:

Professor ZZZ asks: “[W]here [would] you put Trump?”

No new, major land war(s) in Asia—so Trump is ahead of LBJ.

No missile crisis risking an exchange of nuclear weapons with a superpower—so Trump is ahead of JFK.

No wars of national conquest—so Trump is ahead of Polk (Texas) and McKinley (Philippines, Cuba).

No move to war after foreign power made full, reasonable efforts to amicably settle reasons for dispute—so Trump is ahead of Madison (War of 1812). Under Madison, we burned down the capital of British North America (York/Toronto), and they returned the favor in Washington. So Trump beats Madison.

No wars against native American tribes—so Trump is ahead of [fill in the blank—many such presidents could be listed here].

No wars based on poor intelligence or to prop up foreign absolute monarchies—so Trump is ahead of both Bush I and Bush II.

Trump has not interned 100,000s of US citizens based on race—so Trump is ahead of FDR.

Trump has not allowed a U.S. state or territory to go into civil war and then allow its government to be hijacked by the brigands who engineered the civil war—so Trump is ahead of Buchanan (Bleeding Kansas).

I still don’t know why President Clinton blew up an aspirin factory or why Secretary Clinton permitted NATO forces and materiel to blow up Libya—so Trump probably comes out ahead of both of them too.

Trump is ahead of Woodrow Wilson: World War I, and his resegregation of the federal civil service. I grant you that being ahead of Wilson is not saying much…but then, the nation survived Wilson, and no one today thinks of Wilson as having lowered the bar vis-a-vis future presidents. ((I do… he was more openly hostile to the Constitution than any president before him — Jemison)) Professor ZZZ seems to be worried about this. He wrote: “Having a POTUS so publicly awful along those lines lowers the horrible bar so dramatically that we will pay for years to come.” Really?—Will we pay for it in years to come, or is this just a shabby slippery slope-type argument? …

If words and pretty speeches are the measure of a president, then Trump comes up short. The question is whether that is the correct standard for measuring presidents in a dangerous world.

This is why knowing history is indispensable — it provides essential context within which to understand the present.  As for the last point in the quote, I remind those who gauge world leaders mainly by their oratory that Adolph Hitler was a rather gifted and mesmerizing speaker by all accounts.  For all his bluster and distracting patterns of speech, Trump has consistently pursued exactly what he promised to do during his campaigning.  In a world rightfully cynical about politicians who routinely fail to do that, this performance counts for a lot among his supporters.  It’s the key reason many voters are willing to overlook the baggage of Trump’s many personal shortcomings.  That our self-professed elites can’t understand that says more about them than it does Trump or his supporters.

A final thought: it appears Trump has survived one of the most nefarious political plots ever contrived against a president.  If that’s the case, and he successfully brings to public account the unelected bureaucracy that attempted it, his administration may well be remembered as one of the most consequential in our nation’s history.

(H/T: Instapundit)

A one-way ticket

Democrats must be concerned about internal polling indicating Trump’s policy successes are pulling away minority votes:

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker introduced a bill Monday that would establish a commission to study the impact of slavery on the black community and propose slavery reparations initiatives.

Sen. Booker tweeted in reference to the bill he will be backing in the Senate, saying, “I am proud to introduce legislation that will finally address many of our country’s policies—rooted in a history of slavery and white supremacy—that continue to erode Black communities, perpetuate racism and implicit bias, and widen the racial wealth gap.”

Senator Spartacus” obviously doesn’t see the irony inherent in a Black U.S. Senator complaining that blacks just can’t get ahead in this country, less than three years after a Black man left the Oval Office.  That said, let’s examine his complaint:

Few things “erode Black communities” like the twin scourges of welfare and abortion. Both are practically sacraments to leftists.  And both have devastated the nuclear family, which study after study shows is vital to social and economic mobility.  The advocacy of abortion in America, in particular, has demonstrably racist origins.  As for the welfare legacy of the Great Society, let’s review the thoughts of its architect, Democratic President Lyndon Johnson:

These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.

No amount of monetary compensation can undo the damage that two generations of government paternalism has caused the Black community.  Only by leaving Uncle Sam’s plantation and its slave mentality of perpetual victimhood, and taking personal ownership of their community’s fate, is there any chance for improvement.  (The same is true for all Americans, not just Blacks.)  Reparations are the exact opposite of that.  It’s “enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”  Of course, it’s good for buying votes, though, which is the real point.

At the same time, reparations represent an injustice to the rest of Americans.  Inevitably, it will open the door for demands by the Native Americans, Hawaiians, the Chinese and others, each with their own legitimate historical grievances.  The fabric of our society will become even more frayed as each group jostles for its share of the loot.

And where will that loot come from?  Largely from the White Devils, of course.  After all, we pale skins are the root of all evil — our college professors told us so.  Sarcasm aside, I’m the first in my family history ever to go to college.  My ancestors were hardscrabble, not wealthy, and none ever owned slaves, even though they were eeeeeeeevil Southerners.  It wasn’t my white skin that got me through college.  It was my parents ensuring I made use of my high school education, and instilling the work ethic that allowed me to work and go to school at the same time.  If he had any sense, Spartacus would see why I’m less than enthused at the prospect of being taxed to pay for others’ historical sins.  Apparently to the Democrats, I’m a “deplorable,” a “bitter clinger,” and a cash cow for redistribution schemes.  I wonder why they’re having a hard time connecting with my demographic these days.

We need a different vision if this country is to survive, a century and a half after it nearly tore itself apart.  (Today, by the way, is the anniversary of the effective end of that cataclysm.)  I’m reminded of a line from the movie Kingdom of Heaven:

“We fight over an offense we did not give against those who were not alive to be offended.”

We are at a crossroads.  Either we acknowledge our shared history — good and bad — has led all Americans to where we are now, which is a place of privilege beyond compare to most of the world’s population.  Or we begin fighting over the scraps of that heritage, and in the process tear apart what remains of it.  We can no longer afford would-be leaders who use grievance-mongering for personal advancement (I’m looking at you, Southern Poverty Law Center).

Which is why I’ll say this: there is one form of reparation I would support, and one only.  The original offense of the slavers was to forcefully remove Africans from their home and transport them to the Americas.  If any slave’s descendants truly believe this country is irreparably unjust to them, I support funding a one-way ticket to whatever African country they choose.  I don’t expect a mad clamor to take up such an offer, however.  Anyone with eyes can see that even the poorest of families in the most violent of Democratic-run cities like Chicago or Baltimore still has more opportunity and more to be thankful for than the vast majority of their distant relatives overseas.  Deep down, Senator Spartacus and his ilk know it.

And that, I submit, is reparations enough.  If it isn’t, by all means book the flight, bill Uncle Sam, and leave your U.S. passport on the way out the door.

How we became unthinking mobs

The recent rush to judgment over the Covington Catholic High School group’s actions after the March for Life in D.C. is merely the latest in a string of events, including the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, that demonstrate far too many of our citizens react to events via emotion and bias rather than reason.  One only needs to spend a brief time on Twitter to realize our national discourse has largely descended to the level of junior high school taunting back and forth.  Insults, rather than insight, is the currency there.

The danger is that these “two minutes’ hate” events have become so regular, that people who should certainly know better–like Disney producers–begin tweeting things like this:

woodchipper tweet

Sure, he “apologized” as the original narrative about what happened utterly collapsed.   That’s irrelevant — the fact many adults thought it appropriate to say such vile things shows how close we are to actual violence breaking out in our country.  These public utterances simply show what is in the heart of far too many people.

I’ve often noted how close we are to violence now, or the need to defend our freedoms by force.  And while I’ll admit to occasionally thinking like Han Solo, the truth is I’m well aware of what such circumstances would mean.  As a military veteran of multiple deployments, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when the last veneer of civility is ripped away.  And it’s the last thing I want for the country I love and pledged my life to defend.

How did we get here?  Not by accident, that’s for certain:

In terms of communication, people will say what they think. The problem with the sad state of civil discourse today occurs because people are mostly really bad at thinking. The dismal failure of the education system is what created our poisonous public discourse.

This degeneration of the public’s ability to think did not occur instantaneously. The destruction of reason and logic was a gradual process, spearheaded by the adoption of postmodernist subjectivity in the late 1960s and pushed into the American schools since then.

Those of us who are partial to objectivity are instinctively aware that classroom methods of encouraging feelings and emotion are fundamentally problematic. Children are encouraged to express what they feel when it comes to understand the world around them. For example; climate change feels bad because humans are destroying the planet. Capitalism feels bad because we are exploiting the poor. Masculinity feels bad because males oppress women. Environmentalism feels good because we are saving the planet. Socialism feels great because we take care of the poor in society. Feminism feels wonderful because girls are empowered against male oppression.

The method of teaching students to “feel” (i.e. perception from senses) instead of to “think” (i.e. conception from judgement) is the problem with education. It is the reason why Johnny can’t think. Johnny’s mind hasn’t been trained to think in integrated concepts because he has always been taught to rely on his feelings. Johnny’s world is presented to him in a fragmented chaos of sensory perceptions.

It is quite an interesting exercise to note how most people are unable to think in concepts. Take for example, when a criminal kills with a gun, someone who is incapable of thinking in concepts can only see the instrument of murder and thus mobilize against banning guns because they think that it is the gun itself that is responsible of the crime.  The same lack of conceptual thinking applies to those who are incapable of seeing a successful white male for his character, skills and habit as the factors shaping his success because their thinking capacity only allows them to see his gender and race as the factor which determines his success.

The American schools has succeeded in reducing the public’s intellect to the level of the perceptual beast. …they do not know how to put together the data they observed into structured logical thoughts. And like a lost animal incapable of making sense of the world around it, that person lashes out like a beast because the world is unintelligible around them.

These are excerpts from a much lengthier piece I encourage you to read in its entirety.  It goes far to explain how a sitting member of Congress can wonder aloud why people might be more concerned about “being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right.”  This is not a new development.  Back in 2004 the New York Times actually ran a story about alleged records (proven to be forgeries) of then-President Bush’s service in the Guard that had the headline “Memos on Bush are Fake but Accurate, Typist Says.”  (But whatever you do, don’t call the New York Times “failing” or “fake news!”)

Emotions have their place.  But they must be kept in their place.  That place is not the drivers seat of law and policy.  Our compromised public schools, though, have taught multiple generations to “follow your heart” regardless of any inconvenient facts (example: the 100 million body count Marxist ideology racked up in the 20th century).  So now we have a body politic where one side thinks the other is stupid for ignoring reality, and the other responds by thinking the rationalists are uncaring and evil.

That kind of divide is not likely to end well.

Saturday Sounds

…and color, for the First World War:

I didn’t get to see this film during its brief time in theaters late last month, but look forward to seeing it on home video.  It’s amazing what adding color and sound does to make the events of a century ago “more real.”

Some reflections

Most of the government is shut down today, in an homage to the late President George H.W. Bush.  Americans have been encouraged to reflect on his life.  So I will.  But first, a keen observation by another that mirrors my own thoughts:

It is in no way to insult George H. W. Bush — or any other president, for that matter — to ask whether the retooling of their calendars is an appropriate way for the people of a republic to respond to the death of an elected representative. Tomorrow, the press reports, is to be a “day of mourning” — a day on which the stock market will be closed, on which the federal government will shut down, on which the House of Representatives will begin a week-long break, on which various universities will cancel classes, on which the Postal Service will halt deliveries, on which the Supreme Court will adjourn, and on which major American newspapers will postpone events that they had previously planned to hold. Across the U.S., flags will be flown at half-staff for a month.

Why? Irrespective of whether he was a great man or a poor one, George H. W. Bush was a public employee. He was not a king. He was not a pope. He did not found or save or design the republic. To shut down our civil society for a day in order to mark his peaceful passing is to invert the appropriate relationship between the citizen and the state, and to take yet another step toward the fetishization of an executive branch whose role is supposed to be more bureaucratic than spiritual, but that has come of late to resemble Caesar more than to resemble Coolidge.

Well said, Mr. Cooke.  I’d also add that the current practice of naming $1 billion warships after presidents has the same effect.  (Why not return to naming carriers after famous battles/events in U.S. history?  Honor the many who fought – not the ones who gave the orders from a fortress in D.C.)  Presidents do have an impact on the course of history, and their lives are worth remembering and examining.  But in a Republic, they should not be revered.

So what about Mr. Bush?  Politics aside, I submit his greatest legacy and example is in the 73-year marriage he shared with Barbara — the longest marriage of any president.  This marriage survived the death of a child, issues of depression, and the rough and tumble of political life.  Our nation could use many more such examples of love and commitment.

I have mixed feelings about Bush’s presidential legacy.  Clearly he had a successful foreign policy run.  Desert Storm restored a large measure of faith in the U.S. armed forces that had been missing since Vietnam.  Almost 30 years later, though, one could argue America fell inappropriately in love with its high-tech military, to the point of misapplying it to problems that are not intrinsically solvable by force of arms.  Where Bush’s legacy is likely greatest, though, is in his handling of the end of the Cold War.  As the Soviet Union collapsed, and with it the Warsaw Pact empire, it was by no means a foregone conclusion the great transition would be a peaceful one.  The Bush administration navigated a failed coup against Gorbachev, Yeltsin’s populist revolt, and the thorny question of what to do with Germany after the Berlin Wall fell.  It was not an amateur’s hour, and the nation was fortunate to have at the helm what might have been one of the best-prepared presidents for such a time.

Despite such impactful success on the international stage, Bush was unable to translate the political capital from it to impact issues at home.  Exiting the Gulf War with an approval rating of almost 90 percent, within months his inability to articulate “the vision thing” as he put it, cost him support in an America facing economic turmoil and uncertainty in a post-Cold War world.  As the 1992 election cycle began, six words came back to haunt him: “Read my lips.  No new taxes.”  Only 18 months into his presidency, Bush relented on that pledge as part of a deal that was supposed to include spending cuts.  Predictably, the taxes rose.  The cuts never came.  Once again, the Democrats’ Lucy had yanked the ball away from Charlie Brown, and Bush looked foolish for having trusted his political opponents, who gloated over the misstep.  Coupled with his reference to a “new world order” in the wake of the Cold War, the tax issue cost him dearly among fiscal conservatives and those wary of international entanglements.  This opened the door for the challenge by Ross Perot, who pulled enough support away (including, I regret to say, my own vote) that Bill Clinton was elected president.  Comparing the two men’s resumes, it’s laughable to think America would reject Bush in favor of “the man from Hope, Arkansas.”  But as I’ve pointed out on this blog, critical decisions are made more often on emotion than reason, and in this case Clinton connected with people in a way Bush did not.  And so it was that two of the most conniving political creatures America has ever produced — Bubba Bill and Her Hillariness — entered the White House, beginning a three-decade-long spree of influence peddling and assorted other nefarious activities.

It’s worth noting, however, the letter Bubba found in the Oval Office from his predecessor:

Jan 20, 1993
Dear Bill,
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.
Good luck — George

That last line should serve as a model in our electoral system, which has devolved into political total war against those who disagree.  Since that transition in 1993, both Republicans and Democrats have been guilty of wanting to see a president from “the other side” fail, seeking political opportunity regardless the cost to the country.  We need to relearn the ability to stand firmly on principle while still extending an open hand to those of good will and honorable intentions.

We also need to regain the discernment to tell those honorable opponents from charlatans and snake oil salesmen.

Politically, I’m even less of a Bush family fan than I was in 1992, in large part due to what I believe to have been wrongheaded policy by Bush the Younger after 9/11.  Despite all that, I offer my humble condolences to that family on the passing of a man who, regardless any political faults, was clearly a devoted husband and father.  May our nation be blessed to have many more such men.  And may we continue to remember that even when they occupy the highest office in the land, they are still just that: men.

When the guns fell silent

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent across a traumatized Europe. “Christendom” was also a casualty of the war. After the horrific fratricide between the European peoples, Western Civilization would never be the same.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

by John McCrae (1872-1918)

TOL_location-shot

In 2014, the Tower of London placed 888,246 ceramic poppies — one for each British servicemember who died in World War I — in the moat around the Tower.  In all, an estimated 10 million soldiers perished in the war — an average of about 6,000 each day.  Another 10 million civilians were killed, either as a result of military action, or the effects of famine, disease and social breakdown.  A generation later, a Second World War would more than triple the human cost of the First. 

War is a tragic part of humanity’s fallen nature, and we will never be free of it this side of Eternity.  But let us be thankful the world has yet to revisit such wholesale slaughter. 

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The morning after

In an unsurprising (but disappointing all the same) development, Americans have handed control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats for the next two years.  Republicans, however, have tightened their grip on the Senate, picking up seats there.  My initial thoughts:

  • Pelosi, Waters and their crew will use their restored subpoena power to make the administration as miserable as possible until 2021.  Buckle up for the ugliness.  That said, Democrats are probably regretting the precedents Obama’s administration set of ignoring such requests from Congress.  Trump won’t have forgotten that.  What goes around…
  • Retaining control of the Senate means the administration can continue building what may be Trump’s most enduring legacy: resetting the Judiciary by appointing judges who view the Constitution through an ‘originalist’ lens and are less likely to engage in policy direction by judicial fiat.  The impact of these appointments will be felt for decades.
  • There will be no funding for a border wall any time soon, unless Trump tries to coopt Defense Department money through Executive direction.  At the same time, the Senate will be able to prevent Democrats from undoing very much of the last two years (tax cuts, deregulation, etc).
  • There are still strong rumors (especially from the “Q” quarter) that ongoing investigations into prominent Democrats may soon yield indictments and the full declassification of the FISA court shenanigans.  One theory is that Trump held off pulling the trigger on these so as to avoid accusations of politicizing the investigations during an election cycle.  If true, that’s likely a wise move.  It also means the Democrats may soon be more on the defensive than their win of the House would normally indicate.
  • It will be instructive to see what independent counsel Robert Mueller’s next move is.  He, too, is said to have held back during the election season.  With that over, I suspect he’ll be under increasing pressure from both sides to show his hand and “put up or shut up.”

In short, while disappointing, I don’t yet see last night’s results as a full-blown disaster.  As many pundits noted, the President’s party usually loses seats in Congress during his first midterm election.  There is one ominous thing to point out, however.  Overall the Democrats ran a much more openly leftist/globalist agenda this cycle… and they still picked up considerable support.  That a candidate like Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke could challenge Ted Cruz so strongly in Texas is not a good long-term signal.  Nor is having Florida’s gubernatorial and Senate races within a percent of each other.  (Related note: the vast majority of Beto’s funding came from outside Texas, something that in my mind should be prohibited.  Residents of one State have no business trying to buy elections in another one.)  We are a deeply divided nation with two incompatible worldviews vying for dominance through government force.

Demography and the long-term effects of leftist indoctrination in our education system are having the intended effects.  That’s why this Trump period is so important.  So far it has been the only successful push back against the Left’s “long march” of the past three decades.  But unless traditional Americans break the lock the globalists have on the education of the next generation, it’s only a matter of time before an ignorant population rejects the birthright their ancestors worked so hard to achieve.

“When an opponent declares, “I will not come over to your side,” I calmly say, “Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.”  Adolph Hitler, May 1937