Thursday, 28 January 2021

Quotations


"Western civilisation has been a series of rebirths. Surely this should give us confidence in ourselves.


"It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilisation. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs. Fifty years ago W. B. Yeats, who was more like a man of genius than anyone I have ever known, wrote a famous prophetic poem.

'Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 
The blood‐dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity.'


"Well, that was certainly true be tween the wars, and it damn nearly destroyed us. Is it true today? Not quite, because good people have convictions, rather too many of them. The trouble is that there is still no center. The moral and intellectual failure of Marxism has left us with no alternative to heroic materialism, and that isn't enough. One may be optimistic, but one can't exactly be joyful at the prospect before us."

Lord Clark (of the TV series Civilisation) in 1970

"In the Sixties, all classes shared similar values when it came to religiosity, the family and patriotism. The rich didn’t form their own caste, and could easily relate to the rest of the country. The ideological gap between Democrats and Republicans was minimal. Today’s America is unrecognisable. The highest earners, mostly Ivy League and similar graduates, marry others like themselves, spend a fortune on their children’s education, live in urban areas or wealthy enclaves, and worship at the church of woke. The poorest no longer marry, drop out of school, earn less and increasingly depend on opioids and videogames. Cultural inequalities have reached extreme levels." Allister Heath in the Daily Telegraph

Please repeat after me: we do not start life as blank sheets of paper



I find it very mysterious that one cannot say middle class children are on the whole more intelligent than working class ones for genetic reasons.

If this mystery were solved so many fallacies could be exploded.

Well-known British political blogger Guido Fawkes, who sometimes links to my articles, quoted an anonymous well known Tory educationalist who told him, “You can’t say it, that’s a third rail it’s inadvisable to touch in this debate”.

America's leader is senile

Watch this, if you doubt me.

And here he struggles to put his pen in his inside breast pocket.

Churchill from 1953 and Brezhnev for years were senile, I know. Reagan in his later years was losing it but not like this - at any rate he was coherent in public.

Biden is absolutely terrible. Everything he has done in his first days as the 46th President of the United States has been disastrous, except maybe wanting to go back to Obama's Iran deal. 

I favoured that when it was signed, partly because I don't see any threat to America or the West from Iran. 

Since then things have changed. Iran remained as hostile as ever to America. Trump was much better than Obama at containing Iran and made a useful peace between Israel and the Sunnis.


But people are unfair who say Biden is already the worst US president of this century. George W Bush was much worse.


Going further back Lincoln was even worse than Bush the Younger. Lincoln waged an unnecessary and arguably unjust war in which 600,000 died. 


President Obama, persuaded by Hillary, Cameron and Sarkozy, destroyed Libya - from an original idea by Bernard-Henri Lévy (BHL). Biden has not yet done anything remotely so bad, but it is very early days.

One day after Joe Biden was sworn in, 200 US troops and 40 trucks of ammunition and equipment entered Syria from Iraq.

The next few years threaten to be awful. Boris's views on quite a few things, including climate change, the Middle East and Covid, are not very different from Joe Biden's. The same is true of President Macron and Frau Merkel. 

I shall try to follow politics much less closely. 

At least Brexit happened.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Half of Americans are still tired of experts but left-wing hegemony remains in place

Is Joe Biden going to be a short-lived restoration of the ancien regime? 

The reasons why Donald Trump became president are not going to go away, but the crowd bursting into the Capitol enormously strengthens the left. 

It is what schoolchildren will remember President Trump for, as they will remember that President Obama was mixed race. 

They will confuse the two George Bushes, who both invaded Iraq.

These thoughts from Barton Swaim in the Wall St Journal are obviously true. 

The great theme of the Trump years, the one historians will note a century from now, was the failure of America’s expert class. The people who were supposed to know what they were talking about, didn’t.


The failure began with the country’s top consultants and pollsters. Candidate Trump did almost everything lavishly paid political consultants would have told him, and did tell him, not to do—and he won. The most respected pollsters, meanwhile, predicted a landslide for Hillary Clinton. America’s best and brightest political adepts turned out to know very little about the elections they claim to understand.


Also during the 2016 campaign, an assemblage of top-tier academics, intellectuals and journalists warned that Mr. Trump’s candidacy signified a fascist threat. Timothy Snyder, a historian of Nazism at Yale, was among the most strident of these prophets. “Be calm when the unthinkable arrives,” he warned in a Facebook post shortly after the election. “When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authorities at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire.” Many experts stuck with the fascism theme after Mr. Trump’s election and throughout his presidency. That these cultured authorities couldn’t tell the difference between a populist protest against elite contempt and a coup carried out by powerful ideologues will go down as one of the great fiascoes of American intellectual history.

The experts everywhere has been found gravely wanting, going back for many years. In the United Kingdom they recommended joining the euro in the late 1990s, just as they had recommended joining the EEC in the 1960s and early 1970s. Now they warn about climate change and the threat from Russia.

Quotations

S.J. Perelman began his career trying to sell a cartoon of a patient rushing into a doctor's surgery and exclaiming: "Doctor - I've got Bright's Disease and he's got mine!" It was turned down - though printed later.

"Two criminals were crucified with Christ. One was saved - do not despair. One was not - do not presume." St. Augustine

Damn you all–I tried to warn you, but you'd already taken the Soma®.

AZ [AstraZeneca] say it is working 24/7 to make up the time and deliver the quantities the EU wanted. It says its contract with the EU - as with the UK - was always on a "best effort" basis, because it was starting from scratch to deliver unprecedented amounts for no profit. AZ is not blaming the EU. But it does not understand why it is being painted as the "bad guy" given that if the deal had happened in June, when Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy wanted it done, most of these supply issues would already have been sorted. A pro-EU source at the company says "I understand Brexit better now".
Robert Peston, ITN Political Editor, most of whose Facebook and Twitter followers are ardently Remain and assume he is too.

“Please don’t throw me out of the family, I now fear that those that did [vote for Brexit and Trump] were on the right side of an important argument and the right side of history.” Robert Peston, in 'WTF' (2017), a very honest and thoughtful book which encapsulates many of the ideas I most dislike.


Monday, 25 January 2021

Paul Gottfried on Jurgen Habermas


From Dr Gottfried's 'The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium', a book I want to read.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

What a world

“We can’t promise zero asylum seekers but we can create a vision... We must take care that not too many come to our country, otherwise our social cohesion could not exist. It is already under threat." Mette Frederiksen, the Danish Social Democrat Prime Minister

“The danger is that if Covid never leaves us, or it mutates or a different virus arrives with a similar dynamic we’ll be in a semi-permanent state of “this is what we do” — when this happens, we have lockdowns, we have emergency laws, we take away parliamentary niceties like scrutiny, debates, votes, that sort of thing… And I think that is a danger that doesn’t come out of the fringes of the lockdown sceptic movement. That’s the real deal as a worry.” Adam Wagner, human rights barrister, talking to Freddie Sayers in a video interview on Unherd.

"It’s about time we stop apologizing for our support for Israel. It is the best $3 billion investment we make. If there weren’t an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the region.” Joe Biden in June 1986. 

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Quotations

Journalists once badgered Johnson about why America was in Vietnam. The president unzipped his fly, showed his member to the hallowed press corps and said, ‘This is why’. Timothy Stanley in today's Daily Telegraph


I think it impossible to deny that there have been and are women individually fit for any public office however masculine its character; just as there are persons under the age of twenty-one

Alexandre Kojève and the End of History

It might even be said that, from a certain point of view, the United States has already reached the final stage of Marxism ‘communism,’ since all the members of a ‘classless society’ can, for all practical purposes, acquire whatever they please, whenever they please, without having to work for it any more than they are inclined to do so.

These are the words of Alexandre Kojeve, a Russian philosopher who became French and a believer in the European Economic Community. He believed that the United States represented right-Hegelianism and the Soviet Union represented left-Hegelianism. Victory by either side in the Cold War, he argued, would result in a classless, bureaucratic society.

I had not heard of him until today when I read this essay about him.


...the logical exhaustion of homo economicus as the homogenous understanding of humanity is what is at the heart of “multiculturalism.” Multiculturalism is not really about the celebration of the diversity of cultures but, rather, the eradication of the past socio-cultural distinctions which prevent, for all practical purposes, the non-European peoples of the world from the easy and equitable life they seek: the free-going, comfortable, and easy life already acquired by Europeans and their diaspora descendants. The elimination of the supposedly artificial barriers and distinctions erected by culture must occur for the end-state to be reached and human desire to be recognized and actualized.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Why people love or hate Trump - it's abortion, stupid



'...25 per cent of American voters say that abortion is the most important issue for them; that equates to tens of millions of people who will have put an X by Trump’s name because on that one issue he was aligned with them.

 

'This is the key to understanding the Trump phenomenon and also the hostility of the media; because the US media elite, like our own media class, overwhelmingly supports the pro-choice position, itself a central tenet of intersectional feminism. Trump’s other attributes – his uncouthness, his flagrant narcissism, his erratic outbursts – were certainly irritants but it was Trump as an obstacle to the final triumph of progressive thinking which made him such a hate-figure for American journalists.

 

'This will have long-term consequences, for while many Americans will be yearning today for normal politics to resume, many others will be harbouring a dark resentment against a media which stacked the deck against their man. Trump’s charge that the election was ‘stolen’ has not been substantiated in any legal sense but in another way the charge has force. When a media campaign is so one-sided, when the media coverage is so very partisan, those on the losing side are bound to feel it was unfair. And that bodes ill for the future because, for America to recover its equilibrium, it will need a media that is trusted to be fair; and we’re a million miles from that point right now.'
Robin Aitken in today's Daily Telegraph

Joe Biden goes back a long way

World leaders when Joe Biden was first elected to the Senate included Richard Nixon, Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin, Georges Pompidou, Ted Heath, Willy Brandt, Marshal Tito, General Franco and Chairman Mao. Eamon de Valera was President of the Irish Republic and Ethiopia was ruled by the Emperor Haile Selassie.

Mrs Cleveland was 21 and 27 years younger than Grover Cleveland when they married

With a few hours to go before the most unusual U.S. President since Abraham Lincoln leaves office, I stumbled by chance on the story of Frank or Francis Folsom, who became Mrs Grover Cleveland.

She was 21 when she became the youngest ever First Lady of the United States in 1886 and is the only woman to have become First Lady a second time, when in 1893 her husband returned to the White House for his second term six and a half years later. She was christened Frank after her uncle, but chose to be called Francis because it was more feminine. 

She met her future husband when she was a baby and he was 27. He became her guardian when her father died when she had just turned 11 and paid for her education. 

Grover Cleveland, with Woodrow Wilson, was one of the only two Democrat presidents to serve between 1861 and 1933. Along with the previous Democrat president, James Buchanan, he was one of the only two bachelors to be elected US President. He was then aged 47 and when he married in the Blue Room of the White House he was 49. 

The couple had five children. The age gap did not matter to the public.

Although a bachelor when he became President, Cleveland was a father, giving rise to the famous chant in the 1884 election campaign of “Ma, ma, where's my Pa?" After he won, Democrats replied, "In the White House, ha ha ha!”

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

The last heir to the Ottoman throne died last night

"Dündar Abdülkerim Osmanoğlu, the last heir to the throne of the now-defunct Ottoman Empire, passed away late Monday at the age of 90, the family said in a statement." (The Daily Sabah this morning.)

His great uncle was the last Sultan and Caliph. Had Turkey been on England's rather than Germany's side in the Great War she would still rule the Middle East and the world would be more peaceful.

Quotations

“World War III will be a guerrilla information war. With no divisions between military and civilian participation.” 
Marshall McLuhan

"For Joe Biden, keeping it brief will be a particular challenge. Those of us who held meetings with him during his vice-presidency know that he is a naturally loquacious man, not given to expressing an idea in a single sentence when half an hour of supporting anecdotes might help. An incentive for brevity is provided by what happened to President Harrison in 1841. He ploughed for two hours through an 8,000-word address and died of pneumonia within a month." 
Lord (William) Hague today in the Daily Telegraph

"The future belongs to the fertile." 
Julian Simon

“I never think at all when I write
nobody can do two things at the same time
and do them both well”
Don Marquis

"Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn."
Gore Vidal

Monday, 18 January 2021

America is the biggest threat to the West but also the last redoubt of freedom of speech

For more than thirty years America has been the biggest threat to the West by exporting political correctness but also the one country in the world that has freedom of speech.

By contrast free speech in England is a memory. It is the same on the Continent, though Eastern Europe is much freer than the West. Who would have imagined it in 1989?

Amber Rudd, the Conservative Home Secretary in England, wanted to make it an offence punishable by up to 15 years in the clink to visit an extremist site on the Internet. Just think about that.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Footnotes to history

After John F Kennedy was murdered, Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as US President on the plane. When they landed a lieutenant said, “Over there - that’s your helicopter, Mr President.” LBJ: “Son, they’re all my helicopters.”

                                        *


In 1862 a Persian prince marvelled at how 'England is the determined enemy of the slave trade and has gone to an enormous expense to liberate the African races, to whom she is in no way bound save by the tie of a common humanity.'


Until around 1970, slaves in the Arabian Gulf who had escaped their owners could go to a British consulate and, after touching the flagpole holding the Union Jack, would immediately be given their freedom. Freed slaves received this certificate.


                                        *

Pope Pius XI, speaking about Kristallnacht, said, ‘It is not possible for Christians to take part in anti-Semitism.’ 

Years before, he made a priest who in 1925 published a translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion into French a protonotary apostolic, in recognition of his efforts against "our mortal enemy". The Protocols, describing a Jewish plot to rule the world, were a Tsarist forgery, as proven by the Times in 1921.


Unification under empires and in nation states

German unification was a tragic mistake, obviously. Italian unification was too. Yugoslavia and Belgium didn't work. European unification is the worst idea of all. it could only work when Europe was conquered, as by the Romans, Charlemagne, Napoleon etc. Had Hitler won the war Europe might have been united. Great Britain, France and Spain work well. So does Switzerland.

I leave it to Romanian readers to discuss Romanian unification, though Hungarian and Serbian readers are also welcome to comment.

As for the Arabs, they were united under the Sublime Porte and in very many ways that worked better than what came after. Ditto with Ireland under the British crown.

I would argue that the USA never worked as it was meant to after the civil war. Instead of a republic it became an empire, but I am not sure it is a good example of an empire. The Southerners did not think so, at least until the 1960s.

How Covid spreads - it's very rarely from contaminated surfaces

There have been only two known possible cases in the world of outbreaks of infection with Covid-19 via contaminated surfaces. Hand washing is therefore not so important as you think, though useful. Droplets sprayed by someone, usually but not always indoors, are the main way the virus is transmitted. It's not known how far particles travel through the air. Airborne transmission (aerosol) might be possible, in which case they could travel a distance well beyond two metres or it might not. Keeping windows open is strongly advisable where two people meet indoors. Source: Stuart Ritchie, a psychologist and a Lecturer in the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London, writing in Unherd.

Quotations

"Politics is downstream of culture and culture is downstream of religion." Emerald Robinson

“The real question of life after death isn't whether or not it exists, but even if it does what problem this really solves.” Ludwig Wittgenstein

"An idea isn't responsible for the people who believe in it." Don Marquis

"Unless artists can remember what it was to be a little boy, they are only half complete as artist and as man." James Thurber

“I've thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.” Madonna

"We could shoot him [Donald Trump]. It's not a bad idea." Sir David Attenborough

"I just don't know why there aren't uprisings all over this country. Maybe there should be." Nancy Pelosi

"Protesters should not let up." Kamala Harris

'Senator Kamala Harris started her life’s work young. She laughs from her gut, the way you would with family, as she remembers being wheeled through an Oakland, California, civil rights march in a stroller with no straps with her parents and her uncle. At some point, she fell from the stroller (few safety regulations existed for children’s equipment back then), and the adults, caught up in the rapture of protest, just kept on marching. By the time they noticed little Kamala was gone and doubled back, she was understandably upset. “My mother tells the story about how I’m fussing,” Harris says, “and she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom.’” 
From 'Elle' magazine, October, 2020. The story is not true, but plagiarised from a 1965 Playboy interview with Martin Luther King by Alex Haley. 

"Whatever issue you think is more important than immigration, you're wrong. Immigration will decide every other issue." Ann Coulter



Saturday, 9 January 2021

Quotations

The result of the free-market ideology trading under the name ‘conservatism’ is that we have handed control of information to California’s tech oligarchs just as we have handed control of industry to the Chinese Communist Party.
Aris Roussinos

The culture of the West remains the primary object of study in humanities departments. However, the purpose is not to instill that culture, but to repudiate it – to examine it for all the ways in which it sins against the egalitarian worldview.
Sir Roger Scruton, The End of the University

The more one judges, the less one loves.
Honoré de Balzac

All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.
James Thurber

Live all you can; it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what have you had? 
Henry James

Genius... means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.
William James


So all those progressives writing and tweeting articles, during months of left-wing violence, defending and encouraging civil unrest, that just didn't happen?

If you defended the BLM riots but are condemning the riot today, you're a ridiculous hypocrite. If you condemned the BLM riots but are defending the riot today, you're a ridiculous hypocrite. It is better not to be a ridiculous hypocrite.

Some quotations from Richard Nixon

“Never forget, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times and never forget it.”

“The worst thing a politician can be is dull. At least I'm interesting.”

“Yet we can maintain a free society only if we recognize that in a free society no one can win all the time. No one can have his own way all the time, and no one is right all the time.”

“Television is to news as bumper stickers are to philosophy.”

''I don't think a woman should be in any government job whatever. I mean, I really don't. The reason why I do is mainly because they are erratic. And emotional. Men are erratic and emotional, too, but the point is a woman is more likely to be.''

(I stole the first four from the Politically Incorrect Australian.)

After his resignation in disgrace, former President Nixon used to sit in the park and give out valuable advice about life to people who shared his bench. 

Thursday, 7 January 2021

The popular uprising in Washington DC and a lot of hysteria and humbug from TV presenters and their guests

The Sky News woman at 1.00 this morning (I couldn't sleep) was told this was the first time the Capitol in Washington D.C. had been invaded since the British did it in 1814. She clearly had never heard of the War of 1812. These people who tell us what to think are inhumanly stupid.

A crowd of Trump supporters broke into the Capitol to protest what they think, I imagine mistakenly, is a rigged election. Unlike the riots across America last year in the name of Black Lives Matter, which the media pretended were mostly peaceful, this protest is a grave threat to the Republic.

And it is, because it will forever and justifiably damage Donald Trump's reputation and enable the Democrats to cement their power over the public imagination.

His legacy is this and the election of two Democrat senators for Georgia by a small number of votes in each case, caused by Republicans who stayed at home because they believed President Trump when he said the elections were going to be rigged. This means the left control both Houses of Congress and hold the presidency.

I didn't mean the comparison of the protestors with BLM rioters as a compliment to either. Readers should either be in favour of both or opposed to both, as I am. I support riots only in undemocratic places like Hong Kong and only with a lot of caution there. Revolutions and riots usually do much more harm than good - the Boston Tea Party being an example.

Why did Vice-president Pence say violence never succeeds? Violence usually succeeds. Like at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was illegal violence that created the USA.

It reminds me of of people who say that terrorist bombers are cowards, when the reverse is true.

President Trump knows the power of images. When he said he was going to build a wall he used a vivid, simple image. The scenes of mayhem in the Capitol are images that will be remembered when his achievements are forgotten.

His achievements will be soon forgotten and most were almost ignored anyway. Think of peace between the Sunnis and Israel.

What are important and absolutely awful are the deaths of four people on the Capitol. The only one I know something about is the poor woman killed by the police. The New York Times said she believed in the QAnon conspiracy theories and many of its readers will think her death is no loss.

Had Donald Trump behaved as he should she would be alive.