August 8th recently passed and it was the 100th anniversary of the Black Day. This was the day the British began the Battle of Amiens. While it was, of itself, a big victory, the more important aspect of it was on the morale of the two sides. The German commander, Ludendorf, named it the Black Day because of the very large number of German soldiers who merely surrendered rather than fight or retreat. From that point on, the Germans knew they were beaten and were merely trying to hold on to as much as they could before capitulation. Meanwhile, all of the allied armies were stimulated by the victory as they now knew they could break the German lines at will and steadily push them back no matter what the enemy did (it was, of course, the mass use of tanks which played the decisive role here).
This was the point when the whole German war effort in World War One was shown to be stupid – and done by people who, for all their intellectual achievements, were quite stupid. Think about how the war started – Germany, faced with the need to help their Austro-Hungarian allies fight off Russia, decided that the smart course was to attack France and Belgium, thus bringing Britain into the war against them. That was their plan! Their long held, carefully organized plan was to create more heavily armed enemies from the first minute war started! And no one who came up with this plan was shot for Supreme Idiocy or even so much as committed to an insane asylum. We’ll leave aside the Allies response: charge straight ahead into entrenched German machine guns and artillery. You get the picture: We’re dealing with a lot of dumb.
I mentioned Ludendorf, and he was one of the smartest of the lot. Simply brilliant. A superb organizer. But, in the end, he couldn’t count. He launched a “win the war” offensive in March of 1918 with the idea being that Germany could conquer victory before the United States, which had entered the war the year before, could exert it’s full power (which would happen some time in 1919, if the war went on that long). As I said, he couldn’t count: he couldn’t count up all the military aged males in the UK, France and the USA and realize they vastly outnumbered the military aged males in Germany. He also, seemingly, couldn’t read a map and failed to realize that even taking Paris in 1918 would not alter the overall strategic situation. The only wise course open to him – too all Germans – once the USA got in was to pick the time to concede defeat and surrender….and that such a time was before the German soldiers started surrendering in tens of thousands.
But that isn’t the end of the dumb for the German leadership. Some weeks after the Black Day the supreme allied commander, Foch, was heard to observe, “that gentleman (the German) can still escape: but he’ll have to leave his luggage behind”. What he meant was that if the Germans would leave behind the mountains of supplies they had built up in France over 4 years of war, they could get their army back to the German border in excellent defensive positions and it would be the Spring of 1919 before the allies could launch a serious attack…and they might not want to by then. With the Germans out of France and Belgium, all impetus to attack would be gone. Germany would still have had to negotiate a loser’s peace, but it wouldn’t have been an abject surrender followed by a dictated peace. But the German military leadership, chock full of very smart men, simply couldn’t make up its mind to do that until it was too late to try. In the end, the Germans fought for 51 months and suffered millions of dead – and inflicted millions of deaths – only to lose a war they didn’t have to fight, but stupidly got themselves into, and then stupidly refused to get out of when the game was up.
I bring this up because rolling around in my head for a while now has been a dawning understanding that for quite some time, our civilization has been run by some very dumb people. Unserious people. People who are quite willing to, as it were, fiddle while Rome burns. And then I got into a bit of a debate with a Facebook friend – nice guy, fellow Catholic. But, he hates Trump and that has colored his views in astonishing ways. What he was on about a couple days ago was how Conservatism is in bad shape because it listens to Sean Hannity rather than George Will. I pointed out in response that even supposing Hannity is a carnival barker, Conservatism is better of with him than with Will. He asked, why? And I said that people like George Will are erudite, well-dressed people drinking the correct wine while justifying the destruction of our civilization. People who, like the German High Command in WWI, are very, very smart and have all sorts of credentials but simply cannot, or will not, see what is right in front of them.
Ancient Rome didn’t go from a city of a million people with excellent water and sewage systems to a city of 40,000 people living in filth and drawing their water from the Tiber all in a day. Nope, took quite a lot longer than that. Several centuries, in fact. The last great building project in ancient Rome was Trajan’s Forum, early in the second century. The next big event in the life of Rome was the sack of the city by the Visigoths early in the 5th century. Neat, 300 year period there…where not much was actually done, other than people living off the wealth and power built up by their better ancestors. Sound familiar to your modern ears? All it would have taken for Rome to endure forever was a bit of maintenance. Do you understand that? All the heavy lifting had been done. Just maintain the infrastructure and keep the army up to snuff and, presto!, things remain great. Forever. But, no; they failed.
They did do lots of things, of course. They weren’t just marking time. They had a few civil wars in there. Assassinated a crop of Emperors. Watched people getting slaughtered in the Colosseum. Sat on their asses on welfare. Let foreigners do the grunt work. Watched as their domestic industry and agriculture was moved away from Italy and over to other parts of the Empire. They also had some brilliant political leaders such as Septimus Severus and Diocletian. And the social life was quite brilliant! Excellent food, fashionably dressed people, well appointed homes. They had towering intellects like Dio Cassius and Tacitus. And in religion you could pretty much get whatever you wanted – and be sure that whatever you wanted was ratified by the religious and philosophical authorities of the day (except by those pesky Jews and those outrageous Christians, who proposed to actually live the virtues everyone said were good…the bastards!). Once again, does all this sound familiar?
But, don’t go too far in making parallels to ancient Rome. We’re actually doing worse. To give you an idea: back early in the Russian Revolution, one of Lenin’s female comrades (I think it was Alexandra Kollontai, but I’m not 100% sure), opened up a vision for Lenin of sexual relations being treated as no more significant than quenching one’s thirst with a glass of water. Lenin didn’t go one way or the other on that, but he did observe that no one would want to get a drink of water from a gutter. Of course, Lenin was wrong: we now have people eagerly looking for gutters to get their drinks from. Furthermore, they insist that if you refuse to drink from the gutter, you’re a hateful bigot! Here’s the really funny thing: given what he said about it, Lenin wasn’t woke enough to be acceptable among the modern left! If he magically appeared to today, the left would despise him for his petite bourgeoisie insensitivity. So far, and fast, we have traveled downwards!
And at least the Romans built stuff to last. The Lake Homs Dam in Syria was built in the 3rd Century by the Romans and it is still in use. It was modified last century, but only to make it hold more water. The basics of the dam are still the original Roman construction from 1,734 years ago. Our stuff isn’t built like that. We, too, have to do maintenance, but we have a much weaker infrastructure to keep up…we can’t neglect it nearly as long. But, we’ve been neglecting it. You might recall the infrastructure bill from 2009 that we spent a bazillion dollars on…well, it looks like we’ll need another bazillion for the same thing…now, we can assume that everything has run down again after nine years…or, we can assume that the first bazillion was thrown down the toilet and wound up in the hands of politically connected people who didn’t get a lot of actual work done. Take your pick on those views. I’ll let you guess where I fall on the guesses. We have weaker stuff as our basis and we’re doing worse than the Romans at maintenance. In the realm of morality, we’re traveling down a road (get that drink from the gutter!) of immorality faster than the Romans ever dreamed. Sure, they liked to watch people being killed in the arena, but at least they weren’t going about massacring unborn children, nor legalizing the practice of effectively putting a pillow over granny’s face when she gets too old and irritating to deal with.
We’ve got people covering themselves with tattoos like painted savages. We’ve got people who father multiple children by multiple women without ever making any sort of commitment to them. We’ve got people in the military who are merely punching tickets to ensure their rise in rank. We’ve got corporate officers who spend more time working out their diversity program than they do working on their products. We’ve got people who despise liberty and who think there’s a right to have a house. We’ve got religious leaders openly or covertly denying the very aspects of their religion. But we’re banning plastic straws! Tell me, what of any decent thing has been conserved? Where is the maintenance of societal norms which would allow us to survive long term as a civilization? There is none – nothing has been conserved. Not by the Conservative leaders…each time the push against civilization has come, the Conservative leaders have found an excuse for why we have to allow it to happen.
Back in 2016, I was just desperate to stop Hillary. She’s corrupt to the bone and clearly an amazingly stupid person. She even lies when telling the truth would work to her advantage. All she amounts to is an appetite for power and wealth. She gathers it endlessly and is never satisfied. And she’s not alone in this. Think of all the people who are just there, grabbing whatever they can and then working out ways of defending their ill-gotten money and power. They don’t give a damn what is happening…all they care about is getting and then getting some more…and then squashing anyone who questions how they got it, and whether they should keep it. If they were at least smart enough to make sure our Navy ships didn’t crash into freighters and that the streets weren’t crumbling, they’d be tolerable. But, they can’t manage that. They can only do what the very stupidest person can do: grab and then lie about it. My vote in 2016 was just a desperate plea against that sort of thing. But then something strange happened: the guy I voted for turned out to be pretty darned good.
I had figured Trump for “one of them”, as it were. But, even though “one of them”, at least not someone who had spent his whole, adult life – like Hillary – screwing over the people. I fully expected huge doses of liberalism to come out of the New York liberal carnival barker with a penchant for pretty ladies. All of a sudden, I’ve got a President getting the regulators – the enforcers of stupidity – off the backs of the doers…the actually smart people who make things work. I’ve got a President who understands that if we don’t make, mine and grow things here in the USA, then we’re doomed (how long have I been yammering on about making, mining and growing things, guys?). I’ve got a President who is clearly not afraid to use American military power to maximum effect, but is also chary of the blood of Americans and so shies away from foreign military actions (having a President who wants to win a fight is a rather new experience for me). I’ve got a President who doesn’t care about the opinions of pretentious, credentialed twits who not only can’t change a tire, but would be afraid to even try (ick! I’d get all dirty! Isn’t there a foreigner who can do that for me?). I’ve got a President who punches back when punched. For the first time in my life – not excluding Reagan – I actually think I’ve got a President who is looking out for me and mine.
Is he Conservative? I don’t really know. Also, don’t really care. He’s doing a lot of Conservative things, that’s for sure. Does he know what he’s doing? I’ve long suspected his political actions are built to a long held plan…but now I’m starting to think that this guy might have, for the last 40 years, thought over everything and realized that we needed some radical changes in policy, or we’re doomed. One thing I know for certain, kicking him out and putting the same idiots who have presided over the destruction of our civilization is out of the question. Trump might lose, in the end, but he won’t lose because I helped beat him…nor because I failed to support him. I’m feeling very confident about our future for the first time in a long while…and unlike back in the Reagan years, I’ve no worries about what comes after this President. Pence certainly spent his life as GOPe to the bone, but he seems to really understand what Trump is about and I’m sure that if we can get Trump two terms, his successor will just do more Trump (although more politely that Trump).
Trump stands for the Mom and Dad doing their best. He stands for the sergeant and battalion commander trying to keep readiness at a high level. He stands for the farmer growing his crops. He stands for the plumbing contractor with a payroll to meet. He doesn’t stand for the tenured radical on campus. He doesn’t stand for the CEO trying to squeeze an extra percent of profit out of moving the factory to Mexico. He doesn’t stand for layabouts manning our bureaucracy. And, yep, he doesn’t stand for the Bow Tied Conservatives who talk about low taxes and tut tut about societal decay but do nothing about it. We’ll do more for rebuilding social cohesion by having a booming, Make/Mine/Grow economy allowing a parent to stay home and raise the kids than we’ll do with 10,000 more Conservative Think Tank pieces on the decline of the family unit. If Trump is this out of control moron that our Conservative Betters claim he is, then I’m in favor of idiocy…at least this idiot is actually doing some good things. But, the truth is that Trump is proving the smarter man…and, I think, proving the more morally sound man. After all, in the grand scheme of things, who has done the more immoral thing: they guy who slept with a stripper, or the guy who justified the destruction of morality? No wise person hates a sinner because all wise people know they are sinners, too. But what must be hated – despised, loathed and driven out of the public square – is those who say that the sin isn’t a sin. According to Scripture, the righteous man falls seven times a day, and most of us ain’t righteous. But it is one thing to sin and repent (even on an endless loop of sin/repent), and quite another to sin and then say, “my sin was a good thing”. The former is human and trying, the latter is an inch away from demonic. That the demon has a Harvard degree and is impeccably well mannered doesn’t help things…nor does it detract from the normal repentant sinner that he’s an uncultured clod.
And what kind of a moron do you have to be to think that a people, awash in sin, can survive? If we’re laying around on welfare, engaging in promiscuity and then congratulating ourselves for our sloth and lust, what are we going to get? Clean cities and a strong economy? Uh, guys, I don’t think it’ll work out that way. In fact, we know it doesn’t – we’ve got feces rolling through the streets of San Francisco. We’re worried about filth borne disease in the United States, guys. You know, as we allow people to come in illegally and also allow poor bodies who need mental healthcare to just wallow on the edges of our cities in unsanitary, ad-hoc camps. How do you think things will be in 20 years, if we don’t change?
So, here I am – standing athwart stupidity, yelling “stop”. Well, not exactly: when you yell “stop” at a stupid person, it usually makes them double down. But what I am doing is making sure that I’m expending my efforts in preventing a return to Rule by Stupid. If that means I have to keep electing Trump and people like him, I’m ok with that. I’ll take the odd Playmate in the background if I also get the policies which allow me to live free…and gives me a chance to help restore a bit of sanity to our society.