Barbara Bush, RIP

The sad news:

Barbara Bush, in what her spokesman called failing health, had traded further medical treatments for comfort care at home —that included the “alert” 92-year-old former first lady enjoying phone calls, conversation and bourbon.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Office of George H. W. Bush confirmed her death, saying in a statement, “A former First Lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at the age of 92.”

Hours before her death, the Bushes’ longtime friend Ambassador C. Boyden Gray, who was White House counsel to Barbara’s husband of 73 years, former president George H.W. Bush, told PEOPLE: “Some of the recent emails indicate she is not quite ready to sign off. She’s answering all of her phone calls herself.”

Now that reminds me of mom – a few weeks before she died, we had all been called out because it was thought she was dying at that time. By the time I had driven from Vegas to LA, she had already stamped and shouted enough to be taken home that my brother was just getting her back into her bed when I arrived. I went in to see her and she looked like death warmed over. I – everyone – thought it was the end. So, we started the vigil…which mostly worked out to sitting around the kitchen table not talking. After a couple hours, I hear a rustle down the hall and there was mom, staggering a bit as she walked into the kitchen. She said not a word, but went to the cabinet, grabbed a large cup and topped it off with vodka. She then looked around at all of us with a “what the F are you guys doing here?” look and then tottered off to her room.

Barbara Bush was a great, strong lady – an excellent First Lady and a credit to the name “American”. My prayers for the repose of her soul and the comfort of the Bush family.

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Only Conservatism Can Sustain Democracy

Kevin Williamson is becoming something of a favorite of mine lately – because he’s so consistently wrong, that it’s rather fun to read him and then go over the ways that he is wrong. It also helps that he’s a splendid writer. Anyways, he’s got a new article in Commentary about Democracy – Liberal or Militant. It is well worth a read. I was going through it and kind of checking off the wrong as I went along, but this passage was the first which seemed worthy of a direct response:

…a more immediately pressing question is whether liberalism can contain democracy—it is mass democracy itself, not jackbooted stormtroopers, that poses the most dangerous threat to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, property rights, and other fundamentals of citizenship. It is the democratic mob, not an autocratic elite, that demands conformity in life and thought and speech, and brooks no dissent…

The short answer to that is, of course, that liberalism cannot contain democracy. Liberalism is incompatible with democracy. It would take a whole book to write down everything wrong with liberalism, but among liberalism’s many failures is that it is anti-tradition. And tradition is crucial to the success of democracy. A quick bit by Chesterton on this:

But there is one thing that I have never from my youth up been able to understand. I have never been able to understand where people got the idea that democracy was in some way opposed to tradition. It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. The man who quotes some German historian against the tradition of the Catholic Church, for instance, is strictly appealing to aristocracy. He is appealing to the superiority of one expert against the awful authority of a mob. It is quite easy to see why a legend is treated, and ought to be treated, more respectfully than a book of history. The legend is generally made by the majority of people in the village, who are sane. The book is generally written by the one man in the village who is mad. Those who urge against tradition that men in the past were ignorant may go and urge it at the Carlton Club, along with the statement that voters in the slums are ignorant. It will not do for us. If we attach great importance to the opinion of ordinary men in great unanimity when we are dealing with daily matters, there is no reason why we should disregard it when we are dealing with history or fable. Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father. I, at any rate, cannot separate the two ideas of democracy and tradition; it seems evident to me that they are the same idea. We will have the dead at our councils. The ancient Greeks voted by stones; these shall vote by tombstones. It is all quite regular and official, for most tombstones, like most ballot papers, are marked with a cross.

You see, it wasn’t the Constitution that preserved our liberties until just recently – it was tradition. Sure, sure: the words were written down and there was even reference made to the words in various laws and court cases. But the fundamental fact of life is that all the written words in the world don’t amount to a hill of beans if people don’t live by them…and they’ll only live by them via tradition. Why was it unthinkable for FDR to seek a third term in 1940? Because Washington had served two terms and then voluntarily stepped down, even though he could easily have obtained another term (indeed, he could have had the office for life, if he wanted). It became tradition – and even some very successful and popular Presidents felt bound by it and refused to run for a third term. Who broke the tradition? An autocratic elitist by the name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It should be noted that Roosevelt’s vote total dropped by 400,000 from 1936 when he ran for re-election in 1940 – and this when the country, as a whole, was doing much better than it had been in 1936; while the GOP vote total increased by about five and a half million. Seems that some of the regular folks out there just didn’t like this break with tradition.

But, at least there wasn’t a law prohibiting it. So, there was that. But once you start setting aside tradition, then no tradition is safe. Just a few years later, the President of the United States committed us to war in Korea without a Congressional declaration of war. This action would have been unimaginable even ten years previously. It kinda went downhill from there – to Vietnam; to using the FBI to spy on Americans; to vile, little CIA actions around the world; to refusing to enforce laws against subversion and espionage because the party in power would take a big hit from it; to the use of friendly judges to enact into law things which no Congress would ever approve; to the bureaucracy entering into extra-legal agreements with pressure groups to de-facto make law outside of Congressional or judicial action; to, now, parts of the federal bureaucracy attempting to annul the results of a Presidential election because they don’t like the man who won.

None of this was done by popular demand. The crude and rude mob of American democracy wanted none of this. Because the crude and rude American democracy still clings to its traditions. Most of these people can’t put it into words and couldn’t quote Locke if their lives depended on it, but they know that the law is supposed to apply to everyone; that Congress is supposed to make the laws; that judges are to merely interpret the law; that the bureaucracy is supposed to do as it is told, not as it might want to do. The American democracy watched for decades as autocratic elitists twisted our system to their own liking and increasingly refused to even give lip service to the desires of the people. In the end, they voted Trump – someone as rude and crude as they are. And there is Trump – trying mightily to actually make the system work as it is supposed to work. You know: getting Congress to actually pass laws to do things; curbing the courts via the appointment of judges who know their proper place; insisting that the bureaucracy obey orders. And who is pushing back against this? Not the mob of American democracy…but the very autocratic elitists which Williamson thinks a lesser threat than the mob.

Williamson does note some of the outrages going on out there – specifically some of the anti-freedom actions along the lines of people trying to suppress dissenting voices and so forth. But it isn’t the people demanding this. A few thousand carefully organized demonstrators shouting for, say, Exxon to be destroyed in the name of fighting climate change isn’t the American democracy on display. It is what it is: a carefully orchestrated pressure group designed to give the appearance of popular support. It is created, organized and led by autocratic elitists. If you ask the Average Joe out there, you wouldn’t find one in a hundred who wants to punish Exxon…even among those who believe that climate change is real. No, the shouting mobs of zealots represent no one but a few elitists who want various climate change actions taken because such actions will increase their personal power and wealth.

The cure for what ails us isn’t to curb the mob – it is to allow the mob to rule. I know, we’re all supposed to be opposed to that, but I think our kneejerk disdain for the mob is built into us by a century of propaganda by elitists. You, my friends, are the mob – and either you will rule, or the elite will. Pick which one. As for me, I’ll trust myself to the good sense of the sometimes foolish, often ignorant American people…because, in the end, their core desire is that everyone be left alone to live their lives as they see fit. In a fit of anger they may howl for my blood, but once they calm down a bit they’ll leave me be. Meanwhile, the elite is relentless in its pursuing hatreds. For 60 years, for instance, my Christian views have been hounded until we are now very much a post-Christian nation, and yet these elites continue to demand the complete destruction of my Christianity. The very existence of it inflames them…and they’ll never, ever quit.

Liberals of old had some fine things to say – some good ideas, that is. But they were only good ideas when they were the fulfillment of American tradition. It was liberal to extend the franchise to all men and women…but it was only good because it helped to reinforce the Conservative, traditional idea that we will rule ourselves. And here’s something to ponder – some of the very same liberals who were pushing to enfranchise women in the early 20th century were also working diligently to cut the voting public out of decision-making via a strengthened federal government which would manage the country in spite of what the people might want. Think of all the things going on in this country you don’t like – pretty much if you can name the abuse of power, it was an abuse which was imposed on us, via a judge or a bureaucrat, who took no notice of what the people might want…even if the people had clearly stated their desires at the voting booth. It is no real surprise that elements of the bureaucracy are trying to annul an election…it is just a culmination of what has been going on for a century. That is, it is merely the logical end to a government which decided, not too long ago, that it can take your private property and hand it over to another private entity because that entity promised the government more money. A bureaucracy which can get away with things like that is not likely to think that anything is out of bounds for it.

What we need to save freedom in this nation isn’t more laws or more effective expositions of Constitutional theory – what is needed is merely that the government obey the law, and submit to the will of the people in the creation of laws. Sure, the people might come up with some bone-headed ideas from time to time; like Prohibition…but it should also be noted that the people fixed that particular mistake rather rapidly. Meanwhile, gigantic mistakes like the EPA are now pushing 50 years on with no end in sight…and even relatively smaller mistakes like federal funding for Planned Parenthood can’t be spiked no matter how many pro-life Republicans people send to Congress. The mistakes of the people may be fabulous, but they are usually short-lived…while the mistakes of the Elite seem to go on forever.

Let us endeavor to have the people make our own mistakes, rather than having mistakes imposed on them. Let we, the people rule – and we’ll likely rule most often much better than the elites have. After all, no genuinely fascist or communist or Nazi government really rose to full power via the people…Mussolini’s fascists seized power; communists in various nations directly seized power or infiltrated their way into total power; the Nazis got into office via a shabby political deal among the elites (in the last really free election of pre-Nazi Germany, Hitler’s goons only secured 33% of the vote). I’ll trust my fellow Americans, knowing that in the end, they’ll give me a fair deal.

Open Thread

President Trump is moving ahead on Welfare reform…which really works out, in the end, to undoing Obama’s un-reform of Welfare.

Everyone says the GOP is doomed in November. Poll results; levels of voter enthusiasm; all those special election victories for the Dems; numerous GOP retirements (especially of Speaker Ryan) all indicate that the historical norm of the party in power getting clobbered in its first mid-term will happen. Hard to argue with all that – but, I do. So does Da Tech Guy, who gives seven reasons 2018 may be different from 2010.

My view remains that Donald Trump has fundamentally altered the electoral dynamic of the United States. We’ll find out if I’m right in November – though 2020 will also play it’s role. My main contention is that people are abandoning the Democrats. This started right around 2014 as the reality of Obama fully sunk in, and Democrats – supremely confident that they would never lose the White House and could ignore Congress – went ever further left not just in their ideology, but in how they presented their ideology (meaning, there was less and less effort on the part of the Democrats to disguise what they wanted…they were more and more openly proclaiming the socialist future they envisioned). Do the American people want identity politics, amnesty for illegals, gun control, tax increases and the impeachment of Donald Trump? As I said, we’ll find out – but my guess is that the number of Democrats in the country is a lot smaller than it was before and that even though Democrats are at a fever pitch (they’re pouring money into the Texas Senate race, for crying out loud: that’s just stupid. They need that money in Missouri…but the far left hates Cruz), there simply won’t be enough of them in November in the State and districts that matter. Stay tuned.

Senator Warren set up the CFPB to be outside Constitutional controls – now she’s mad that its outside Constitutional controls. As I have said, Democrats thought they’d never lose the White House again.

Donald Surber gives his thoughts on Trump and Syria. My view: don’t go in unless we declare war. If we’re saying that a government using WMD’s against its own people is an act of war against us, then go ahead and declare war. Mobilize the reserves; appropriate the money; raise the taxes and send the boys over to compel an unconditional surrender. If we’re not willing to do that, I don’t want to do it.

Alan Dershowitz’ advice is not to fire Mueller, but to have Rosenstein recuse himself. It is an interesting idea. But, I still say Fire Mueller.

Once Again, We Have to “Do Something” in Syria

There was a gas attack in Syria – everyone is pointing fingers, but the most likely culprit is the Assad regime or elements aligned with it. Personally, I don’t care who did it – some set of bastards, who are fighting other bastards for control over the rubble of a nation. But, its a gas attack and we’re all supposed to wring our hands and demand something be done.

I’m not so interested in doing something.

The reason is because we’re not allowed to win. That has been the problem since the end of World War Two: the United States has been strictly prohibited from winning any wars. There are a lot of things which go into this prohibition, but the primary thing I can see is that the Ruling Class of the world – including that part of it which is allegedly American – doesn’t want us to win. It is too scary for them.

People don’t realize how powerful we are. To be sure, there is a vague memory of World War Two in there, but even in that, the full extent of our power is not understood. When the Japanese signed the official surrender document on September 3rd, 1945, we had been at war for not quite three years and 9 months. We had, in that time, increased our Army from about 200,000 men to 11,200,000. We had already built 162 Fletcher class destroyers, 58 Sumner class destroyers and had started work on 98 of what were to be 152 Gearing class destroyers. We had built 24 Essex class carriers and were starting on the Midway class (just FYI, that class of carriers, designed in WWII, were used by the United States until 1992). During WWII, the Air Force went from 800 planes to 80,000. And here’s the real thing: our power was still waxing when the Japanese surrendered. We hadn’t really begun to impose our full power. It would have been 1946 or 1947 before we were able to do so (like this: you might have seen the Band of Brothers series…but please note those men got into the military in 1942 and their first combat action was more than two years later: it takes a while. Most of those who went in from mid-1943 on didn’t see much action). So, even without maxing out our effort, we still managed to fight and win to major conflicts on different sides of the world against first class powers. We were the only nation in the world in 1945 that could do that.

We still are.

Militarily, we are a lot weaker than we were 25 years ago – but we still have 11 fleet carriers; 9 amphibious assault ships; 53 attack and 14 ballistic missile subs; 22 cruisers, 66 destroyers; 950 self propelled guns; nearly 1,200 mobile rocket launchers; more than 150,000 transport vehicles; 2,300 main battle tanks; 6,100 armored combat vehicles; 155 heavy bombers; 1,700 fighters…you know, quite a lot. And with Trump’s new defense budget, we’re about to get a whole bunch more. No other nation on Earth has quite so much, nor the capacity to build so much. A direct attack on the United States amounts to national suicide…and yet here we are, about to send kids to Afghanistan next year or the year after who weren’t even born when 9/11 happened. Why?

Because we’re not allowed to win. Think about it. Do you really think a few thousand Jihadist/drug dealers could really withstand us for 17 years if we were serious about winning? Its not like the Taliban has an armaments industry – someone is sending them weapons and ammunition. We’re not doing anything about that. We also know where they are, and yet we don’t really go out and get them (the US military which dug the Japanese out of Iwo Jima is quite capable of dragging the Taliban out of whatever caves they are hiding in). And now people are calling for us to go deeper into Syria…but you just know they will be the first to complain if we ever used the sort of force which victory requires.

As I was saying, people in charge are afraid of our power – afraid, that is, that if the American people found out how very powerful they are, they might go on a bender of conquest. At the very least, we wouldn’t give a damn what anyone says about us. We simply wouldn’t have to care what the world says…and an America like that is just what the Ruling Class doesn’t want. They don’t trust us. The wars have to be controlled; America has to be controlled; if America isn’t harnessed, then things like the UN won’t work. See where all this goes?

So, the heck with it. No war in Syria – not unless we are allowed to win. If Trump gets up there and says we’re going in for victory and we’re not going to give a damn what the world says about us, then I’ll say “ok, we go”. But absent that, I just want us to stay out of it. I don’t want to see the picture of a 19 year old kid who got blown to pieces in a fruitless battle because some REMF saw a picture which gave him the sadz. Enough is enough.

Williamson and the Us or Them Lesson

So, former NR writer Kevin Williamson got canned by The Atlantic today. Why? Because he had views which the left found offensive. I’ll wait a moment while you pick yourself up off the floor: gotta be the most shocking thing you’ve ever heard.

As readers here know, I’ve had my issues with Williamson: I view him as someone who has a cruel, elitist attitude towards anyone who hasn’t risen into his social circle. He ascribes their failure to do so to a moral failing on their part…they are too busy taking opiods and pushing out kids and don’t have the gumption to rent a U-Haul and get themselves to Manhattan, where high paying writing gigs await.

Just before Williamson got the axe, he wrote a piece at The Atlantic. It still hasn’t been scrubbed from the website, so you can read it if you wish. I went off on a bit of a Twitter rant about it. It was just so wrong about everything. The most egregious bit of wrong was in Williamson’s utter lack of understanding of why the regular folks are in revolt.

You see, the thing about democracy is that it is only partially related to voting. Self-rule is not just people casting votes – people cast votes in all sorts of governments, some of them quite oppressive. No, it isn’t voting. What is democracy – self-rule, that is – is when the people decide what they are going to debate and vote on. It wouldn’t matter if 99% of us turned out for an election if we’re only allowed to vote on issues pre-selected for us by a Ruling Class. On the other hand, we’d have democracy if only 10% of the electorate had the franchise but the issues voted on are those which rise from the people.

Of course, we have a Republic rather than a Democracy because we figure that some issues really aren’t up for a vote – or, at least, aren’t up for an easy vote. Such things as our right to free exercise; to self defense, etc. But in the democratic aspect of our republican government, what must happen is that the things we vote on are our things. We very much want to debate and vote on abortion; gender issues; gun regulation; immigration; corporations; trade…the elite – people like Williamson – figure we shouldn’t. We might get it wrong, you see? We might not see the wisdom of open borders or free trade with Chinese tyrants. And therein is really why you got Trump. Flawed as he is, he was still clever enough to find out what we, the people, wanted to talk about and then he started talking about them. It was really no more than that…Hillary and the rest of the GOP field was talking about what they believed we should care about; Trump talked about what we actually cared about. Presto: President Trump.

That is the real bone of contention: who really rules this nation? We, the people, rather think that we should rule it. The Elite thinks that it should. Who will get to? We’re going to find out over the next two to four years.

As for Williamson and his like, I’ve no real sympathy. He wanted to curry favor with the masters of our Elite (almost all are liberals, of course) so that he could get the good gigs…and, of course, be able to look down on those poor slobs who don’t know anything. Well, he got what he wanted – for about a week. So blinded in his arrogance, he simply didn’t see that the left doesn’t tolerate dissent. Not any real dissent. To be a Conservative in the Elite, you’ve got to be so entirely milquetoast that your Conservatism is more of an attitude than a thing…and an attitude which will instantly change on command. I’ve been saying that the Never Trump right would “evolve”, and they have. True, I thought they would “evolve” on abortion first, but it turns out that the press of liberal issues has been on gun control, and so their first step in evolution was to suddenly find flaws with hick morons owning weapons. They’ve also evolved to the point where any thought of border security – even if it was only lip service in the past – is gone. But, don’t worry, they’ll get around to abortion in the by and by. Williamson has been, so far, strong enough to retain some actual Conservative views…and, so, out he went. We’ll see now if he really thinks it over and realizes he’s got two choices: us, or them. Because that it how it is: we’re in an us or them situation. Either they win and impose their views, or we win and impose ours. Pick which one you want – there won’t be a compromise between them.

They Hate America

I wasn’t going to write about politics on Easter, but this came up in my Twitter feed today:

No other city has taken down a monument to a president for his misdeeds. But Arcata is poised to do just that. The target is an 8½-foot bronze likeness of William McKinley, who was president at the turn of the last century and stands accused of directing the slaughter of Native peoples in the U.S. and abroad.

“Put a rope around its neck and pull it down,” Chris Peters shouted at a recent rally held at the statue, which has adorned the central square for more than a century.

Peters, who heads the Arcata-based Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous People, called McKinley a proponent of “settler colonialism” that “savaged, raped and killed.”…

These people don’t hate America’s sins, they hate America. It is really just as simple as that. Was McKinley perfect? No. Why does he have a statue in Arcata, CA? Because his death was such a complete shock that a mediocre President was elevated in the public mind to incredible heights in spite of a lackluster record (sort of like what happened to JFK after he was killed). Today, McKinley is mostly forgotten – so I could definitely see a city deciding to take down his statue for that reason…but to take it down like you’re removing the statue of a criminal is just absurd. And indicates a great deal of hatred not for McKinley (who probably not 1 in a 100 citizens of the city are even aware of), but for the nation he lead.

The left has always been at war with the very idea of the United States. They can’t stand our persistent religious faith; our desire to make it on our own; our unwillingness to see ourselves as mere blocks of wood for social experimentation. The left also knows that they can’t triumph in the world if the United States continues to exist as the United States. And so they attack everything that went to make up the United States. Nothing we have done has been good in their view – everything we’ve done must be condemned and renounced and we, the people just fit ourselves (or be fitted) into a new way of thinking.

As for me, I’m heartily sick of it. I’m supposed to feel bad that my ancestors came to a mostly empty land and made it something more than a game preserve for nomads. Sorry, but I’m not sorry that it happened, at all. I’m sorry there was murder and rapine and I wish that hadn’t happened…but it happened on both sides (my father, as a young boy, knew an old man who had been scalped and left for dead in a raid back in the day; the rest of his family was killed or taken…why did it happen? For no other reason than they were there, and could be taken and killed; the man, by the way, held no bitterness about it…it was just the way things went at times, in those days). And the Natives here when exposed to advanced, Western civilization immediately wanted the goods of that civilization…beaver weren’t nearly hunted to extinction east of the Mississippi by white guys, but by Natives who wanted to trade the pelts for iron tools, cotton clothing and other things. For crying out loud, does anyone think that a human being really wants to spend 50 hours of labor making a stone knife which will be dull after a few uses when you can get an iron knife that will be keen for a lifetime? What the heck are these Native activists saying? In the end, that their ancestors weren’t stupid enough to reject all contact with Western civilization.

I’m glad Nebraska and Kansas are there – filled with cities and with farms which produce food for millions upon millions of people. It would be a crime against humanity if it had remained the abode of a few million buffalo and a few score thousand nomads living off them. The whole process of settlement could have been better done and the Natives certainly deserved better treatment than was meted out, but that the settlement had to happen is obvious, and obviously good that it happened.

The end result of all this is that we have to fight tooth and nail – we have to defend every last inch of everything we have. Because we’ve now learned that it isn’t just that this or that person was bad and thus his statue has to come down, but that the left is trying to destroy the entirety of the United States and erect some new, anti-American nation in its place.