Filed under: Capitalism, Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Politics, The United States | Tags: Claremont Review of Books, Hidden Freight Behind Words, The Misuse of Language
In the current Claremont Review of Books, Wilfred M. McClay, Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma, reviews Fred Siegel’s Revolt Against the Masses. This excerpt is his introduction to his subject, but I found it fascinating in itself. I’m familiar, of course, with the term “the narrative,” but there is so much obfuscation going on with our language that I was just inclined to put it aside. Mistake. Very worth pondering this development, aided by focus-group testing of words for their persuasive value. Minds must be subverted.
We have this term now in circulation: “the narrative.” It is one of those somewhat pretentious academic terms that has wormed its way into common speech, like “gender” or “significant other,” bringing hidden freight along with it. Everywhere you look, you find it being used, and by all kinds of people. Elite journalists, who are likely to be products of university life rather than years of shoe-leather reporting, are perhaps the most likely to employ it, as a way of indicating their intellectual sophistication. But conservative populists like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are just as likely to use it too. Why is that so? What does this development mean?
I think the answer is clear. The ever more common use of “narrative” signifies the widespread and growing skepticism about any and all of the general accounts of events that have been, and are being, provided to us. We are living in an era of pervasive genteel disbelief—nothing so robust as relativism, but instead something more like a sustained “whatever”—and the word “narrative” provides a way of talking neutrally about such accounts while distancing ourselves from a consideration of their truth. Narratives are understood to be “constructed,” and it is assumed that their construction involves conscious or unconscious elements of selectivity—acts of suppression, inflation, and substitution, all meant to fashion the sequencing and coloration of events into an instrument that conveys what the narrator wants us to see and believe. These days, even your garage mechanic is likely to speak of the White House narrative, the mainstream-media narrative, and indicate an awareness that political leaders try to influence the interpretation of events at a given time, or seek to “change the narrative” when things are not turning out so well for them and there is a strongly felt need to change the subject. The language of “narrative” has become a common way of talking about such things.
One can regret the corrosive side effects of such skepticism, but there are good reasons for it. Halfway through the first quarter of the 21st century, we find ourselves saddled with accounts of our nation’s past, and of the trajectory of American history, that are demonstrably suspect, and disabling in their effects. There is a view of America as an exceptionally guilty nation, the product of a poisonous mixture of territorial rapacity emboldened by racism, violence, and chauvinistic religious conviction, an exploiter of natural resources and despoiler of natural beauty and order such as the planet has never seen. Coexisting with that dire view is a similarly exaggerated Whiggish progressivism, in which all of history is seen as a struggle toward the greater and greater liberation of the individual, and the greater and greater integration of all governance in larger and larger units, administered by cadres of experts actuated by the public interest and by a highly developed sense of justice. The arc of history bends toward the latter view, although its progress is impeded by the malign effects of the former one.
The review is interesting as well. The Claremont Review of Books, a quarterly, is one of my favorite publications. A great bargain. You can subscribe at the link, but there’s lots of good stuff there.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Humor, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: Andrew Klavan on the Culture, Extremism, Nothing Changes
This video from Andrew Klavan on the Culture is a couple of years old, which just goes to show you that nothing much changes. Nancy Pelosi is not Speaker any more, but nothing else is all that different.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, or something like that.
Filed under: Environment, Freedom, Heartwarming, History, News | Tags: Endangered Species, From Mongolia, Przewalski's Horses
This handsome little fellow is not a nod to our political opponents, but a Przewalski’s foal, born at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in England, helping to preserve a species that was once extinct in the wild. Due to hunting and competition with livestock for water and pasture, Przewalski’s horses became extinct in Mongolia, their last refuge in the wild, in the 1970′s. This male foal was born last October and was the first born at Port Lympne in a almost a decade. Through a cooperative captive breeding program, the species has been bred in captivity and protected. After successful reintroductions to the wild , Przewalski’s Horses were listed as Critically Endangered, and revised in 2011 to just Endangered. The birth of a new foal is another vital step in continuing to protect this rare species. Here he is with mom.
Zoos have come a long way just in my lifetime. Visit zoo borns often to see the good work they do, and the cute offspring of species you never heard of.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Environment, Freedom, Health Care, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Disgraceful Decisions, Environmental Extremism, Humans Don't Count
King Cove, Alaska is a remote town in the Aleutians of around a thousand people. It’s a fishing village that has a tiny airport which is often locked in by gale-force winds and fog. The town has a clinic, but no doctor and no hospital. For trauma cases, childbirth and complications of all sorts, they must get to the all-weather World War II airport in Cold Bay, 22 miles away, for transportation for the 600 miles to Anchorage, doctors and hospitals.
King Cove requested of the Interior Department a 22 mile-long, one-lane gravel road to Cold Bay which would allow for all-weather access to lifesaving medical care. Etta Kuzakin, a 36-year-old King Cove resident who serves as Agdaagux tribal president, needed an emergency Caesarean section in March after going into early labor with her now 9-month-old daughter. Giving birth in King Cove could have killed her and her baby. Medevac flights into King Cove were grounded by ugly weather. Ms. Kuzakin waited in labor for ten hours until a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew her out in the afternoon.
“If there had been a road, it would be two hours out,” she said. “I sat there in labor not knowing if I was going to die or my kid was going to die. Pretty traumatic.” Fishing is also hard work, and injuries are common. According to local Aleutian elders, 19 people have died since 1980 because bad weather during emergency evacuations prevented them from getting out.
Sally Jewell, U.S. Interior Secretary, met with Aleutian citizens in the gymnasium in King Cove, to hear their request for a simple one-lane gravel lifeline to a dependable airport. Ms. Jewell, former head of REI, told her King Cove audience that “I’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals.“ She rejected the road, saying that “it would jeopardize waterfowl in the refuge.”
The assorted kinds of waterfowl with which I am familiar are a moveable species. If a truck is coming down a road, they are capable of moving off or across a one-lane road. These are not flightless species. Bears can manage to cross roads as well as other species to be found in the Aleutians. What could this woman who calls herself an “environmentalist” have possibly been thinking?” A waterfowl’s potential annoyance at having to move from a road trumps human life every time? Well, that’s environmentalism for you every time. Self-righteous in their passion for wildlife; callous and cruel to humanity. Obama can really pick them. Disgusting.
Filed under: Economy, Environment, Freedom, History | Tags: Idaho's Clearwater River, Loggers and River Men, The Last Log Drive
Northern Idaho had a splendid stand of white pine. Logging on the upper Clearwater river began in North Central Idaho in 1928 and continued until 1971. That last great Log Drive, was an historic ninety-mile river trek from the upper reaches of the North Fork of the Clearwater down to the Potlatch mill, the world’s largest white pine sawmill, at the confluence of the Clearwater and the Snake River at Lewiston, Idaho.
The 1971 Log Drive was described as the last major white-water sawlog river drive in the United States. In 1971, the completion of the Dworshak Dam meant the end of log drives and inundated the stretch of the North Fork of the Clearwater. Most drives started about May 10th and lasted about 21 days. In the spring, loggers prepared for the snow melt and rising waters. The Wanigan was assembled— a floating cookhouse with two bunkhouses that would follow the drive down the river. Food, tools, safety equipment and work-boats were prepared. It was a cold, harsh and dangerous environment for the river men. Their job was to recover any logs hung up on the banks, sand bars or islands and send them on their way again.
In the early years of the drive, flumes were built from the woods to the bank of the river. Tree lengths were skidded down to the river then bucked by sawyers into saw logs about 16½ feet long. Peavey crews accompanied the logs, keeping them moving, breaking up jams and sometimes having to dynamite jams to get them moving again.
This picture gives you an impression of the mass, and the potential for jams. The men wore heavy caulked boots with thick leather soles and steel caulks for traction on the logs.A slip could not only send you into icy water, but the logs were dangerous. Work boats were originally bateaux with oars, then outboards and they eventually developed jet boats with powerful engines that could help to pull logs out of jams.
After a day of cold, hard dangerous work, three hot meals a day were important and the number one priority on the drive was a good cook. The company furnished the best cook and the best food they could get. Hearty meals meant a lot, and the work developed good appetites.
Here a wanigan hits a patch of white water — this wanigan will have a bunkhouse on each end, with double steel framed bunks, with warm wool blankets and an Arctic heater that burned presto logs for warmth at night, and in the middle the cookhouse with a smaller stove than most kitchens, and a cook who also had to pilot the raft.
Here’s a good shot of the peavey men at work. They still make peaveys, and there are still lumber mills and lumber mills have mill ponds, but the big log drives are gone forever.
Here is a longer photo-essay with more pictures, if you are interested in the days when real men did hard things, in God’s country.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Politics, The United States | Tags: Focus Group Tested Words, Telling the Truth, The Poverty Line
President Obama, speaking yesterday in Connecticut said:
Nobody who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty.
Nice warm sentiment. Who could disagree? But this is the triumph of nice words, as is customary from this president, over reality.
A person who works full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, earns more than the official poverty line. We can’t win “the war on poverty” until we start talking about it truthfully. See here. It’s a game played to get votes, not to actually improve anyone’s life.
Improving lives is not a game, and is done with a growing, thriving economy that provides jobs for those who want to work, and take pride in the work they do.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Freedom, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, The United States
Elizabeth Scalia, the Anchoress, came up with the best single sentence observation of the day:
“The man’s sense of himself has been over-indulged to a reckless point.”
Her article is excellent, and here. Elliott Abrams article on the interview President Obama gave to Jeffrey Goldberg which shows a chief executive who has learned nothing about the world in his five years in office. Must reading.
And this new little fellow certainly qualifies. (click to enlarge)
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Science/Technology | Tags: A 4.5 Billion Year-Old Spaceship, Thinking on a Larger Scale, Your Neighborhood
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Freedom, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: Russia's Black Sea Fleet, The Crimean Peninsula, Ukrainian Freedom
President Obama just spoke on the situation in the Ukraine. Deeply concerned. Destabilizing. Profound interference. Situation remains fluid. We will continue to communicate.
Do you suppose President Putin noticed that President Obama wants to cut our military down to pre-World War II levels? Of course. The world pays attention to these things. Wire reports say that Russia has seized the government buildings in the Crimea, and taken control of the airport. The Russian Defense Ministry says it is taking measures to guarantee the safety of the Black Sea Fleet, which is based at Sevastopol in the Crimea. (It is helpful to look at Google maps if you are as fuzzy on geography as I am.)
The questions are — will Putin take the Crimea by force? And if so, will his ambitions be limited to simply securing the Black Sea Fleet’s bases or does he have greater ambitions?
What else, besides issuing statements of concern, is President Obama prepared to do? The new interior minister, Arsen Avakov, described it as a military invasion and occupation, and asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian forces denied any involvement.
Charles Krauthammer suggests that Putin’s mission is restoration. Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century. The 2008 war with Georgia returned two of its provinces to the bosom of Mother Russia, and last year pressured Ukraine to reject a long-negotiated deal with the European Union. Putin, Krauthammer says, wants Ukraine back.
The New York Times says that Obama wants stability. He sees Ukraine as merely a crisis to be managed rather than an opportunity to change the autocratic trajectory of the region. Krauthammer says:
Sure, Obama is sympathetic to democracy. But it must arise organically, from internal developments. “These democratic movements will be more sustainable if they are seen as . . . coming from within these societies,” says deputy national security adviser Benjamin Rhodes. Democracy must not be imposed by outside intervention but develop on its own.
But Ukraine is never on its own. Not with a bear next door. American neutrality doesn’t allow an authentic Ukrainian polity to emerge. It leaves Ukraine naked to Russian pressure.
Obama says he has assigned Vice President Biden to talk to the new Prime Minister of the Ukraine, whose name Obama couldn’t remember. Secretary of State Kerry said a vague something or other about Russian action being a mistake. That should be helpful.
This is a difficult situation. President Obama has staked his credibility on being the president who ended the dumb war in Iraq, got bin-Laden, and is getting us out of Afghanistan. He sees America as a world bully that needs be restrained, and Americans as “war-weary.”
Others see Obama as embarrassingly passive and demonstrating American weakness before an increasingly violent world. I am not surprised by Putin’s actions. He has told us that he regrets the demise of the Soviet Union — have people forgotten the Cold War?