American Elephants


Trump Buries The Old-World Order by The Elephant's Child

Victor Davis Hanson had a new column up yesterday at the Hoover Institution’s “Defining Ideas” in which he explains our history in statecraft and diplomacy, and what he calls the Old-World Order, since the end of the Second World War, He explains how we got here and where we are today, and what the Trump administration is doing about it. It’s not long and I found it fascinating to have it all put together so concisely.

The present continuance of institutions such as the EU, NATO, UN, and others suggests that the world goes on exactly as before. In fact, these alphabet organizations are becoming shadows of their former selves, more trouble to end than to allow to grow irrelevant. The conditions that created them after the end of World War II, and subsequently sustained them even after the fall of the Berlin Wall, no longer really exist.

The once grand bipartisan visions of American diplomats such as Dean Acheson, George Kennan, George Marshall and others long ago more than fulfilled their enlightened promises. The U.S. in 1945, unlike in 1918, rightly stayed engaged in Europe after another world war. America helped to rebuild what the old Axis powers had destroyed in Asia and Europe.

At great cost, and at times in both folly and wisdom, the U.S. and its allies faced down 300 Soviet and Warsaw Pact divisions. America contained communist aggression through messy surrogate wars, avoided a nuclear exchange, bankrupted an evil communist empire, and gave Eastern Europe and much of Asia the opportunity for self-determination. New postwar protocols enforced by the U.S. Navy made the idea of global free trade, commerce, travel, and communications a reality in a way never seen since the early Roman Empire.

Do read the whole thing, you’ll be glad you did.

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A Belief in the Inevitability of Our Particular Institutions by The Elephant's Child

From
“Hidden History” by Daniel Boorstin

“The United States was born in a colonial rebellion. Our national birth certificate is a Declaration of Independence. not a Declaration of the “Rights of Man.”

The position of the best theorists of the Revolution was that the British, by their treatment of the American colonies were being untrue to the ancient spirit of their own institutions. The slogan “Taxation Without Representation is Tyranny” was clearly formed on a British assumption. They were fighting not so much to establish new rights as to preserve old ones. From the colonists point of view, until 1776 it was Parliament that had been revolutionary  by exercising a power for which there was no warrant in English constitutional precedent. Second, the American Revolution was not the product of a nationalistic philosophy.

The original creation of a United States was the work of doubly reluctant citizens – because of their local loyalties and their imperial loyalties. The story of the critical period of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution tells of a gradual overcoming of their reluctance – it was overcome not by any widespread conversion to a nationalist theory – but by a gradual realization of the need for effective union.

Our revolution was successful at the first try. The political objective – independence from British rule, was achieved by one relatively short continuous effort. 1776 has no sequel – and needed none.

If we understand the “conservatism” of the Revolution, we begin to see that it represents the continuity of American History – and has engraved on our national consciousness a belief in the inevitability of our particular institutions.”

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Daniel J. Boorstin was an historian at the University of Chicago and became the Librarian of Congress in 1975 and served until 1987. Here’s a link to the Boorstin pages at Amazon. He was a prolific author, and you can’t go wrong with any of his books, and they will enrich your life.



Going Wild — The Knepp Wildland by The Elephant's Child

Do watch this short video. It will enrich your day.

Eighteen years ago, Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell turned their 3,500-acre farm in West Sussex, England, into a massive outdoor laboratory. They decided to cede control of their land to nature and watched it slowly grow wild again. Now, at what they call Knepp Wildland, herds of fallow deer, Exmoor ponies, and longhorn cows do battle with scrubland and tree branches, while Tamworth pigs rustle in the hedgerows and strengthen mycorrhizal networks in the soil. The result of this experiment is burgeoning biodiversity and resilience, as endangered species like turtledoves, nightingales, and rare butterflies inhabit a landscape unseen in England since the Middle Ages. Isabella Tree appears in this video to talk about what life is like in a wild world, and how Knepp has ignited a reckoning with traditional methods of land stewardship and conservation.

From The American Scholar: The Scholar Connection
scholarsconnection@theamericanscholar.org



This is a Wonderful Video! (55 seconds) by The Elephant's Child



Globalization: The Dream and the Nightmare by The Elephant's Child

climate-change

Here I was, posting Jonathan Haidt’s commentary on Globalization, and I turned to American Greatness, and conveniently, there was Victor Davis Hanson, writing even more extensively about globalization.

After World War II, only the United States possessed the capital, the military, freedom, and the international good will to arrest the spread of global Stalinism. To save the fragile postwar West, America was soon willing to rebuild and rearm war-torn former democracies. Over seven decades, it intervened in proxy wars against Soviet and Chinese clients, and radical rogue regimes. It accepted asymmetrical and unfavorable trade as the price of leading and saving the West. America became the sole patron for dozens of needy clients—with no time limit on such asymmetry.

Yet what would become the globalized project was predicated on lots of flawed, but unquestioned assumptions:

The great wealth and power of the United States was limitless. It alone could afford to subsidize other nations. Any commercial or military wound was always considered superficial and well worth the cost of protecting the civilized order.

Only by piling up huge surpluses with the United States and avoiding costly defense expenditure through American military subsidies, could the shattered nations of Asia and Europe supposedly regain their security, prosperity and freedom. There was no shelf life on such dependencies.

Do read the whole thing. This is a major contention point with the Democrats in their current mental and moral breakdown. If we are going to fight back, we have to know what we are talking about.



D-Day, June 6, 1944. by The Elephant's Child

Every year, the remembrance of D-Day grows a little weaker, as it fades into history. A young man of 18 on June 6, 1944 would now be 92. There are not many left, and now it is only those who were children then who remember events as they were happening. I always post something about the anniversary, but many years it is just a repost of what I wrote a previous year. You can access them all by entering “D-Day” in the blank over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar.  Last year’s post of a book review of “D-Day Through German Eyes” is interesting and the links still work.

They All Hate Us, Right?” was a post in 2008 about the French reenacters. I don’t know if they are still doing it, but it’s interesting simply because it points out that it isn’t just the current media who don’t know what they are writing about, it’s been going on for a long time. Piper Millin’s story is a good one as well.

One of my favorite stories I don’t know if I ever wrote about, but it is some real evidence of our common humanity. It concerns the photo which all of us have probably seen many times of the GI in the water on D-Day, huddled behind a beach obstacle, trying to avoid the rifle fire, and looking terrified, but determined. There are hundreds of men all across the United States who claim to have been that guy. Don’t give me any of your “toxic masculinity” nonsense. Men are useful far, far beyond their ability to open jars and eliminate scary spiders.

Once again I want to urge you, if you have an interest in history or maybe more if you don’t, to buy and read Victor Davis Hanson’s The Second World Wars. Europe does seem, at present, to be slowly committing suicide. They are realizing that a good many of their migrants have no intention of assimilating and some of the countries are considering ways to block more migrants and if they can, to remove some who are already there. Here are a couple of brief excerpts:

The D-Day invasion of Normandy (Operation Overlord) was the largest combined land and sea operation conducted since the invasion of Greece by King Xerxes of Persia in spring 480 B.C. It dwarfed all of history’s star-crossed beach landings from Marathon to Gallipoli (April 1915). Normandy would serve as a model for large subsequent America seaborne operations from Iwo Jima (February 1945) and Okinawa (April 1945) to Inchon (September 1950). It made all prior iconic cross-Channel invasions in either direction—Caesar’s (55 BC), William the Conqueror’s (1066), Henry V’s (1415), or the 1809 British landing in Flanders—seem minor amphibious operations in comparison.  …

Over 150,000 Allied troops landed the first day on five British, Canadian, and American  assigned beaches, along with over twenty-five thousand airborne soldiers dropped behind German lines. Unlike possible spots in the Cotentin Peninsula or at Calais, the Allies believed that landings in Normandy would pose far more of a surprise, given the somewhat greater distance from Britain. More important, the expansive geography of the Normandy beaches would not box in the invading Allied armies on a confined peninsula or allow the  Germans to focus on a narrow front. Unlike the prior landings in Sicily and Italy, Operation Overlord had been carefully planned for over a year, drawing on the lessons from the Allies past amphibious problems at Dieppe, Sicily, Salerno and Anzio. New inventions and weapons were crafted for the invasion, from portable “Mulberry ” harbors to PLUTO (“pipelines under the ocean”) fuel lines laid under the English Channel and to Sherman and Churchill tanks modified  to uncover mines, cut barbed wire, provide pathways over the soft beaches, and bridge obstacles.

At this point I always have a flashback to the Robin Hood movie with Russell Crowe, when history deficient Hollywood had Robin headed for the beaches to prevent the landing of Henry V, and Henry’s troops were landing in Higgins Boats made out of driftwood, with the iconic front panel that drops down to allow the troops to run (or swim) for the beach. There were Higgins boats in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well, but fortunately not so obvious. Andrew Jackson Higgins’ little plywood landing crafts played a big part in winning the war.



I’m Not Funny! But Neither Are Most of Our Comedians. by The Elephant's Child

We have certainly had a plethora of people persecuted for something they said in this profoundly politically correct period. (after ‘plethora’ I couldn’t resist all the other p-words) People keep losing their jobs or their careers after saying the wrong thing. This is also a very political period. Democrats have chosen to refuse to accept the results of the last election because they don’t like President Trump. They call themselves “the Resistance” and we call them victims of “the Trump Derangement Syndrome.” So it is somewhat understandable that those who identify as “comedians” fail to understand what comedy is all about.

If you have whole groups of people seething with rage, an especially strong insult can provoke cheers and applause, but it may not go down so well with those who are not seething. There are a lot of what you might call under-stories here as well. When you are consumed with hate, however illogical, the normal societal barriers are shoved aside and a presumed “comedienne”can assume that a mock, bloody, severed head of the President of the United States will be funny. Another presumed “comedienne” can think that calling the president’s daughter a vulgar word for spurious reasons will be funny. Kathy Griffin was just wrong. In an era when terrorists are decapitating victims on camera, one should assume that it would not go over well. Her career may be over. Samantha Bee went off on misunderstood fake news —The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today all had to issue formal corrections to their reporting on immigration. They falsely claimed that President Trump had enacted a policy to separate illegal border-crossing parents from their children at the U.S. Mexico border. The New York Times wrote:

Correction: An earlier version of this column mischaracterized the legal status of 1,475 undocumented migrant children who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without their parents. Those children were placed in the custody of sponsors screened by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. They are no longer in federal custody.

USA Today’s correction read:

Corrections & Clarifications: An earlier version of this column mischaracterized the legal status of 1,475 undocumented migrant children who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without their parents. Those children were placed in the custody of sponsors screened by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. They are no longer in federal custody.

The media also got all confused when someone found a picture of illegal immigrant children in locked cages with their bedding, and that went viral, as they thought they really had something real on Trump — and then the picture turned out to be from the Obama administration, and not Trump’s responsibility at all. So if a comedienne gets all confused and calls the president’s daughter a vulgar word because the comedienne didn’t bother to check her information and just wanted to say something nasty about Ivanka Trump, it’s just an accident, isn’t it?

We seem to have entered a period when the people who are trying to make a go of a career in “comedy” have no real understanding of what comedy is, and what makes something funny.

I am not funny. I have never been funny. I laugh at someone else’s joke and then can’t remember what the punch line was when I try to tell it. Mildly amusing I can sometimes handle, but seldom.

But I do understand some things about comedy. Only the rare comedian can be funny with insults. Don Rickles was so good at it, that people misconstrued his humor. His insults were never designed to hurt, and his audience knew that. You can make a joke about someone’s fondness for Big Macs, done the right way, but you can’t successfully make a joke by calling them a fat pig. Self-deprecating humor can be really funny, Attacks not.

It is hard to be funny. You walk a very narrow line between joke and insult. Don Rickles’ insults were carefully planned to be funny and not insulting. Jack Benny invented a whole character so he could make fun of himself  as stingy and mean. We have all sorts of late night comics who try to be amusing about the news of the day, but they seldom manage it. Roseanne Barr made a racist tweet and had her show cancelled. The insults were unacceptable, and Ms. Barr has a history of mouthing off. But the executives at ABC and Disney decided early in the day to pull the plug on Roseanne. It seemed to be supporting Donald Trump, and that would not do.

Race is one of the under stories. Democrats are extremely dependent on the votes of Blacks and Hispanics, and have been ramping up racial prejudice at every opportunity. How many times have you heard Republicans accused of racial prejudice? And the President and his administration. When they are not being called Nazis, which as the president has moved the US. embassy to Jerusalem and has a Jewish son in law and daughter and their children, gets a little absurd.

Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas and other prominent Blacks are regularly called Uncle Toms simply because they are Republicans. Democrats want to make it clear that they are the party of color and ethnicity because they can’t afford to lose those votes. They get the votes by giving presents — welfare, housing, food stamps, free phones, all the presents that make people dependent on government. It’s always possible to buy votes. And somehow the help to escape dependency never arrives. That, by the way, is why Democrats want sanctuary cities and open borders. New immigrants mostly vote Democrat, or can be bribed to do so. The Border Patrol has kept track of all the illegal immigrants who confess to having voted several times. There are a lot of them.

The comedy focus, of course, is on the rude words. The ones uttered by good Democrats are excusable, and vanish down the memory hole. Joy Reid has a long history of “hateful” blog posts attacking John McCain, praise for Iran’s former president, anti-Semitic comments which were quickly absolved by MSNBC. And so it goes. Would-be comedians need to study up on comedy. They’re missing the point.

Then there’s the matter of “free speech” which is also deeply misunderstood. Free speech does not mean that you can say whatever you want with no consequences. The First Amendment says quite specifically that “Congress shall make no law,”  It is entirely about protecting the individual from acts of Congress. Which is especially interesting in the light of the case in Britain of Tommy Robinson.

Tommy Robinson was a reporter and activist concerned especially with Islamic “grooming gangs” who were raping young girls. He was reporting outside a London courtroom where a trial was going on of just such a gang. He was arrested,  promptly convicted and sent to prison for 15 years because he dared to say out loud things that society did not want mentioned. It was, in the judge’s mind, “racism.” Is that something catching from America’s news which appears prominently in English papers? The judge put a block on anyone mentioning the trial, Islam, Tommy Robinson, or what it was all about. The British are protesting, and they learn about the case from the discussion in our news media and that of other countries in the Anglosphere. Americans are shocked and disbelieving.

Our ideas about free speech, about what’s funny, about what can be public knowledge are all  under attack, and attempted to be changed irrevocably, so that the goals of another political party can triumph as they assume is their due.

Addendum: Kathy Griffin popped up today to defend Samantha Bee, which only proves that the poor thing does not understand what she did. Everyone she knows thinks Trump is a terrible president and a terrible person, Nazi, dictator, etc. There’s nothing wrong with Samantha Bee calling Ivanka Trump the C word because nobody she knows likes Ivanka Trump either.

Let me spell it out. When someone threatens the life of the President of the United States, the Secret Service descends and they are taken into custody. Your cute little beheading “joke” was a threat and an incitement to have someone do harm to the President. You could be in prison for a significant term. Tommy Robinson has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Britain, for far less.

Fortunately the authorities recognized that you were too dumb to recognize what you had done. Samantha Bee decided that because Ivanka Trump is the daughter of the President, it’s fine to attack her with vulgarity although Ivanka has done nothing whatsoever to deserve such an attack. You both demonstrated a profound lack of understanding what comedy is. That career is probably over, but thanks to President Trump, unemployment is back to the level it was in 2000 and equals the lowest rate ever, set in 1969. You’ll probably be able to find something.




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