Monday, January 26, 2015

Thaddeus Russell

A reader has directed my attention to the work of Thaddeus Russell.  He is a very iconoclastic historian who seems to enrage both Leftists and conservatives.  A lot of his writings appear in libertarian sources.

I have not read his book and doubt that I will have time to do so -- so if anyone wants to do a substantial book review of it I will be happy to put it up here.

I was not impressed by his recent article showing that it was mostly "progressive" legislators who were responsible for putting huge numbers of blacks behind bars.  I think it was the extraordinary rate of black crime that put huge numbers of blacks behind bars.

His main idea seems to be that the underclass has been a major driver of social change.  Underclass refusal to abide by rules laid down by the elites of the day have forced the elites to back off and allow more liberty.

Without reading his book, I don't know how good his evidence is for that but it does occur to me that the repeal of Prohibition is a good case in point.  The puritanical elite of the early 20th century were so dominant and powerful that they even got through a constitutional amendment to make America "dry".  Mere legislation was not enough.  It had to be a constitutional requirement

So what kicked that restriction to death?  It was the sheer disobedience of ordinary people -- some middle class but mostly working class.  In their "Speak-easys" they continued drinking.  Faced with the reality of Prohibition, Americans  rejected it  -- even though it took another constitutional amendment to do so.  Maybe the slowly dawning reality of Obamacare will have a similar effect.


Typical Democrat hypocrite

Do as I say, not as I do

"Billionaire property investor Jeff Greene recently spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying he believes people in the United States need to stop aiming so high and start living with less. 'America's lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence,'

Greene, who ran for the Democratic Senate nomination in Florida in 2010, said in an interview.  The only issue Americans took with the 60-year-old's opinions was, well, everything, given he owns a $195 million palace in Beverly Hills, which has 23 bathrooms and a rotating dance floor, as well as four other blue ribbon properties, and is famous for throwing wild parties on a 145-foot yacht.

Greene, 60, is a billionaire property investor and entrepreneur. He made his money betting against subprime mortgages"



Remembering the Last Lion

By Victor Davis Hanson

Fifty years ago this Saturday, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill died at age 90.

Churchill is remembered for his multiple nonstop careers as a statesman, cabinet minister, politician, journalist, Nobel laureate historian, and combat veteran. He began his career serving the British military as a Victorian-era mounted lancer and ended it as custodian of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

But he is most renowned for an astounding five-year-tenure as Britain’s wartime prime minister from May 10, 1940, to June 26, 1945, when he was voted out of office not long after the surrender of Nazi Germany.

Churchill took over the day Hitler invaded Western Europe. Within six weeks, an isolated Great Britain was left alone facing the Third Reich. What is now the European Union was then either under Nazi occupation, allied with Germany or ostensibly neutral while favoring Hitler.

The United States was not just neutral. It had no intention of entering another European war – at least not until after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor a year and half later.

From August 1939 to June 1941, the Soviet Union was an accomplice of the Third Reich. Russian leader Josef Stalin was supplying Hitler with critical resources to help finish off Great Britain, the last obstacle in Germany’s path of European domination.

Some of the British elite wished to cut a peace deal with Hitler to save their empire and keep Britain from being bombed or invaded. They understandably argued that Britain could hardly hold out when Poland, Denmark, Norway the Netherlands, Belgium and France all had not. Yet Churchill voiced defiance and vowed to keep on fighting.

After the fall of France, Churchill readied Britain’s defenses against a Nazi bombing blitz, and then went on the offensive against Italy in the Mediterranean.

As much of London went up in flames, Churchill never flinched, despite the deaths of more than 40,000 British civilians.

By some estimates, the Soviet Red Army eventually killed three out of four German soldiers who died in World War II. The American economic colossus built more military ships, aircraft, vehicles and tanks than did any other country during World War II.

In comparison to such later huge human and material sacrifices, the original, critical British role in winning World War II is often forgotten. But Britain was the only major power on either side of the war to fight continuously the entire six years, from September 3, 1939, to September 2, 1945. Britain was the only nation of the alliance to have fought Nazi Germany alone without allies. Churchill’s defiant wartime rhetoric anchored the entire moral case against the Third Reich.

Unlike the Soviet Union or the United States, Britain entered the war without being attacked, on the principle of protecting independent Poland from Hitler. Unlike America, Britain fought Germany from the first day of the war to its surrender. Unlike Russia, it fought the Japanese from the moment Japan started the Pacific War to the Japanese general surrender.

Churchill’s Britain had a far smaller population and economy than either the Soviet Union or the United States. Its industry and army were smaller than Germany’s.

Defeat would have meant the end of British civilization. But victory would ensure the end of the British Empire and a future world dominated by the victorious and all-powerful United States and Soviet Union.

It was Churchill’s decision that Britain would fight on all fronts of both the European and Pacific theaters. He ordered strategic bombing over occupied Europe, a naval war against the German submarine and surface fleets, and a full-blown land campaign in Burma.

He ensured that the Mediterranean stayed open from Gibraltar to Suez. Churchill partnered with America from North Africa to Normandy, and he helped to supply Russia – even as Britain was broke and its manpower exhausted.

In the mid-1930s, Churchill first – and loudest – had damned appeasement and warned Europe and the United States about the dangers of an aggressive Nazi Germany. For that prescience, he was labeled a warmonger who wished to revisit the horrors of World War I.

After the end of World War II, the lone voice of Churchill cautioned the West that its former wartime ally, the Soviet Union, was creating an “Iron Curtain” and was as ruthless as Hitler’s Germany had been. Again, he was branded a paranoid who unfairly demonized communists.

The wisdom and spirit of Winston Churchill not only saved Britain from the Third Reich, but Western civilization from a Nazi Dark Ages when there was no other nation willing to take up that defense.

Churchill was the greatest military, political and spiritual leader of the 20th century. The United States has never owed more to a foreign citizen than to Winston Churchill, a monumental presence 50 years after his death.



More on Churchill

Daniel Mandel

Churchill was guided by a few elementary ideas: that Britain and the Anglosphere more generally was a force for good; that its division and vacillation invited destructive forces to fill the vacuum; and that “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Together, they might even be called the Churchill Doctrine.

Today the Churchill Doctrine is denigrated or even despised in various polities, especially in Europe, but also here. Patrick J. Buchanan, for example, devoted an entire book to arguing that Churchill was largely to blame for both world wars and managed only to destroy Western civilization in the process. The late Christopher Hitchens before him also devoted a whole book to denigrating the Anglo-American relationship and its Churchillean bedrock –– but then converted to its mercurial advocate after 9/11 when he belatedly realized it might prove of some importance to fighting the radical Islam he detested. He even paid Churchill the tribute, “a lover of war and wine and brandy, genial in victory and unbowed in defeat.”

Hitchens’ turn is the exception. Those who disliked Churchill before 9/11 continue to do so. Likewise, Cold Warriors such as Reagan and Thatcher were cordially detested in their day. Britons will remember the Marxist firebrand unionist Arthur Scargill deriding “President Ray-Gun.” (Fewer will remember that Scargill also condemned Poland’s brave anti-communist trade union movement, Solidarity.) Here, the Democrat √©minence grise Clark Clifford denigrated Reagan as an “amiable dunce.”

Contemporary political passions across a range of policies make denigration of a Reagan an easy trick. But Churchill cannot die so easily a death by a thousand cuts. In particular, his astonishing literary and oratorical attainments make it impossible for opponents of muscular anti-totalitarianism to level charges of stupidity. This has presented them with a problem. Diminishing the Churchill Doctrine has usually demanded more subtle portraiture: a whisky-sodden brooder, an unrestrained military enthusiast, an imperialist. And there is truth in all this, although these critics have also been unscrupulous, inasmuch as they do not acknowledge his corrective high sense of purpose and overriding desire to avoid still greater bloodbaths, whether in Europe or India.

Some are less scrupulous still. Michael Lind, writing in the British Spectator a decade ago, gleefully quotes Churchill from 1919, “I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.” Crows Lind, “citing Churchill to support Bush’s war to rid Iraq of alleged weapons of mass destruction was particularly ironic.”

In fact, the full quote reveals that Lind lifted two isolated sentences from a passage indicating the very opposite: Churchill believed in upholding the ban on Weapons of Mass Destruction but favored the use of non-lethal agents. Why? “The moral effect” said Churchill, “should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum.”

More significant than the sleight of hand and the implicit contradictions in Lind’s demolition job –– either the muscular anti-totalitarians are untutored militarists, or they wrongly claim descent for democratic and humane ends from a bloodthirsty imperialist –– is the clear urge to invalidate the Churchill Doctrine by besmirching the man as a potential war criminal.

Others have also tried to burrow into the doctrine. Radical British historian A.J.P. Taylor argued once to the late Churchill biographer, William Manchester, that Churchill’s Anglosphere “had few merits… he never considered how far England and America had been associated, which was very little, and — particularly — how far they could be associated in the future.” Yet post-war history has vindicated Churchill’s unfashionable view. Surely Korea, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq suggest the opposite?

What would Churchill counsel today for America if it had to stand alone? Here, we do not need to hypothesize. In 1938, at a dinner party, the American ambassador in London, Joseph Kennedy, an appeaser through and through, predicted to Churchill that England would go under in a fight. It drew from Churchill an impromptu oration that included these words:

    "It will then be for you, for the Americans, to preserve and maintain the great heritage of the English-speaking peoples. It will be for you to think imperially, which means to think always of something higher and more vast than one's own national interests."

This counsel is risky, hard to execute, and liable to earn unpopularity. But it remains the indispensable meaning of the Churchill Doctrine today.




DoJ to recommend no civil rights charges in Ferguson shooting: "The Justice Department has begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., who killed an unarmed black teenager in August, law enforcement officials said. That would close the politically charged case in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The investigation by the F.B.I., which is complete, found no evidence to support civil rights charges against the officer, Darren Wilson, the officials said."

CO: Potential jurors want out of theater shooting case:  "Prospective jurors in the Colorado theater shooting trial presented a judge with a number of excuses on Wednesday for why they shouldn't be on the panel that decides if defendant James Holmes was insane at the time of the deadly attack. By the end of the second day of what promises to be a long slog to picking a jury, Judge Carlos Samour had excused at least 20 people who had doctors' notes, didn't speak English, or weren't residents of Arapahoe County, where the 2012 attack occurred. However, in a sign of how difficult it might be to get excused, a summons for a woman who reported being 'violently ill' and requested an ambulance was only delayed but not canceled."

Netanyahu to Address Congress:  "House Speaker John Boehner wasted little time in responding to Barack Obama’s absurd assertion in the State of the Union that “we’ve halted the progress of [Iran’s] nuclear program.”  To make the point that Obama’s living in an alternate reality, Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on Feb. 11, specifically on “the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.” Boehner said, “There’s a serious threat that exists in the world and the president last night kind of papered over it.”  Boehner also added feistily, “[Obama] expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran. Two words: ‘Hell no!’ We’re going to do no such thing.”


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