Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dirty Bertie: an English King Made in France

The eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, [Albert Edward, nicknamed Bertie,] had a reputation for being the most fashionable man in Paris
writes The Daily Telegraph.
According to [Stephen Clarke's] biography, Dirty Bertie: an English King Made in France, [the Prince of Wales] also had a reputation for sleeping with the city's most famous prostitutes.
 … The prince became King in January 1901. His nephew was Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor from 1888-1918. "Bertie really was the only man in Europe who could calm the Kaiser's warlike outbursts," writes Clarke. "It was on a peace mission to Germany in 1910 that Bertie suffered the attack of cigar-induced breathlessness that would kill him. And as soon as he died, the French began to say that war was inevitable. Bertie, Europe's great peacemaker, was gone."

Superpowers Don't Get to Retire: What America Still Owes the World

Even the New Republic!

Even the leftists at New Republic state that the apologizer-in-chief's dream of America is a fairy tale.

A fairy tale given that, in the words of Robert Kagan, superpowers simply do not get to retire.

(One only wishes they would have said this six or seven years ago…)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Like squeegee-men at a Bronx intersection, EU leaders simply won’t take no for an answer

Enthusiastic supporters of the European Union (EU) are crying in their beers
chuckles Benny Huang,
after faring poorly in the European Parliament elections [last] Sunday. Those who dream of a new, post-nationalist Europe will have to make room for contrarians of both the Left and Right who are decidedly cooler to the great experiment known as the European Union.

 In Britain, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) swayed 29% of voters with its decidedly anti-EU platform, finishing better than the Labor and Tory parties. Those limeys, they just have to be different; and thank goodness for it or else they might have adopted the Euro like a lot of other foolish countries, thus handcuffing themselves to the moribund economy of Greece and other ailing European economies not far behind.

The French came out in force for National Front which won 25% of the vote, more than any other party. An anti-EU party in Germany, a nation where pro-EU sentiments are still the default position, managed to win 7% of the vote and elect a few members to the Strasbourg assembly for the first time. In Denmark, the Danish People’s Party defeated its rivals with 27% of the vote. While these tallies may seem insignificant in an American context, they are in fact very healthy returns in multi-party parliamentary systems.

 … Getting everyday Europeans to love the European Union has always been a tough sell. Nine years ago, when the EU’s proposed constitution was put to a popular vote in France and the Netherlands, most political observers agreed that the election was a referendum on the very essence of European integration; until the vote actually happened, that is, then it didn’t mean a thing. Both nations roundly rejected the constitution. Shortly thereafter, a proposed vote in Ireland was cancelled, which was the ruling class’s way of saying that there shall be no more voting until the people can figure out how to do it correctly.

A number of European nations have ratified the EU constitution, though nearly all by parliamentary vote. Only in Spain and Luxembourg did popular majorities say yes to the EU. In several other nations—the UK, Portugal, Poland, Denmark—the vote has been “postponed.” There is little chance that popular majorities in these countries will approve the EU constitution so a vote on ratification will be put off until public opinion can be massaged in the proper direction.

Noticing a trend here? Like squeegee-men at a Bronx intersection, they simply won’t take no for an answer.

 … Those who favor the EU understand well that Brussels has a sleeper hold on its member states, they just don’t talk about it as if it’s a bad thing. Where others complain of lost sovereignty, they say good riddance to ugly nationalism. Where others mourn the demise of national identities, they rejoice at the slow fading of artificial lines that have divided people for too long.

The EU cannot be stronger without the member states being weaker. It’s a zero sum game. More decisions being made at the Union-level mean fewer being made in the various capitals of Europe. The message of Sunday’s vote was loud and clear, if the elites are willing to hear it: Europeans don’t want a superstate if it will cost them their homelands.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Who, Exactly, Is It Who Should Apologize for Slavery and Make Reparations? America? The South? The Descendants of the Planters? …

Instapundit links a Richard Epstein article, The Case Against Reparations for Slavery.

I wrote about what follows 17 years ago, when the topic came up during the Clinton administration. Shortened versions of the post below appeared in the International Herald Tribune, in the Washington Post, and in Le Monde (and I admit to feeling honored when a college professor of philosophy later contacted me to ask to include my letter to the WaPo editor in his course book).

Notice that in 1997, all that was being asked for was an apology, and (to his credit) Bill Clinton did not give one. Only a dozen years later or so did the Congress vote for this — with one leftist lawmaker wondering "why nobody ever thought of doing so before" (perhaps, answered one pundit, because 600,000 Americans happened to have died between 1861 and 1865). And now, the liberals have gone to the next step and ask for reparations… (Nor will that be the end of it…)

Having said that…

    I should like to know on behalf of whom, exactly, slavery should be apologized for and whom remedies should be made to. I myself, like the majority of today's U.S. population, am descended from immigrants who arrived after the turn of the 20th century and therefore have nothing to do with the treatment of blacks on the plantations (or that of Indians on the plains, for that matter).

    As for Americans living at the time slavery existed, over twice as many whites lived in states where slavery was illegal and where it had been so, for the most part, since before the French Revolution. Nobody can hardly apologize for the South either, since most whites even there — two thirds of them, to be precise — did not own a single slave.

    Maybe somebody should apologize for the planters and slaveholders? (Their descendants?) But they inherited the system they dwelled in, and although they certainly did little if anything to change it, in what way are they more guilty than the English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and other European nationals who introduced it in all their colonies (including, of course, the future United States) and whose only reason for not introducing it onto the European continent proper (as well as the North of the future U.S., needless to say) was the absence of a propitious climate?

    And how, finally, are the above-mentioned whites more guilty than the Arab traders and, especially, the African tribes whose warriors raided neighboring villages to gain slave labor (slaves of the same skin color in this case) themselves or to sell their enemies to the Europeans?

    And speaking of remedies, didn't as many Americans die in the Civil War as in all of America's 20th-century wars combined? Didn't one Southerner of military age out of four lose his life in the conflict? How many bereaved families is that, altogether — North and South? And apologies, and remedies are still supposed to be owed?!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Day After a Deranged Gunman Shoots 3 to Death in Santa Barbara—Prompting Calls for America to Emulate Gun-Control Europe—4 Are Gunned Down in Brussels

Less than 24 hours after three people were shot to death by a California madman (not counting himself, while his other three victims were stabbed to death) — prompting attacks on America's gun culture and calls for the U.S. to emulate gun-control havens such as those in Europe — the Daily News and Libération report a gunman in Brussels
hustling through a hallway at [a] museum where he quickly unpacks the long gun and opens fire 
killing four in the process, "before calmly and quickly packing his rifle and walking off." (It happened at a Jewish museum — in fact, the Jewish Museum — wouldn't you know it?)

Belgium has launched a nationwide manhunt for the gunman … who killed an Israeli tourist couple and a French woman and left a Belgian in critical condition with shots to the face and throat "probably acted alone, was armed and well prepared."

 … The attack, which came on the eve of national and European Parliament elections, led officials to immediately raise anti-terror measures and protection of Jewish sites.
In liberal California, meanwhile, the families involved in the Elliot Rodger tragedy have been blaming the usual suspects:
 … the father of 20-year-old student who was killed in the rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara blames "craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA" for his son's death.

Richard Martinez, says his son Christopher Martinez was one of those killed in the rampage that claimed seven in the Isla Vista area near UCSB on Friday night. The father went on to say "When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, 'Stop this madness!' Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, 'Not one more!'"
As for the family of the killer himself, which is "staunchly against guns", reports the Daily Mail, its members have also been blaming "a country where weapons can be bought with ease":
 … the aunt of British born murderer Elliot Rodger made an impassioned appeal on Sunday to Barack Obama and the U.S. authorities to 'Stop the slaughter.'

Jenni Rodger, 55, who lives in south west France, said: 'He was a sick kid – somebody who was seriously mentally disturbed – and yet he was able to get hold of guns.'

 … 'What kind of a society allows this?' said Ms Rodger. 'How can this be allowed to happen? I want to appeal to Americans to do something about this horrific problem.

'I want the president and the authorities to finally stop these killings. The only possible good thing that can come out of all this is America finally taking action.'

Well, shouldn't the police also be held responsible (at least partially)? After all,
Police interviewed Rodger and found him to be a ‘perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human’. 
Police interviewed Rodger and found him to be a ‘perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human,’ but noted
What's more, deputies never saw the menacing videos before the rampage.

Here we seem to have another culprit: why did the parents not make more of an effort to show the videos to the police?

And how present were those parents in the kid's life? Did they have no idea about his problems regarding his social life (and his virginity)?
All this is to say that, yes, there is a chance that, given an early enough intervention, game could have gotten him laid and quieted his inner rage
remarks Chateau Artiste in a PUA post (cheers to Instapundit).

Shouldn't the earliest intervention have been made by… Elliot's own… father?!

A Croatian friend once told me that in his country, when parents noticed a teen son starting to act like he needed something, something different, the father said "Come with me", drove (or rode, in the olden days) across town, and presented him to… a prostitute. Virginity problem solved, hormone rage lowered. (When learning the kid was a virgin, the gal sometimes did it for free, but always, she made an effort to "give" a bit more than usual.)

And with the money he had, Elliot Rodger could have gone not just to a cheap whore but to a high-class (yes, blonde) call girl. Several call girls. (Yes, all blonde.) At the same time. Several times a week.

OK, not the ideal solution, perhaps, for someone pining for lover and tenderness (although…), but, yes, it would have "quieted his inner rage", making him more attractive in the process to the "normal" LTC girls he craved…

And instead of blaming the NRA and (conservative) politicians for the deaths, how about blaming… the… mass murderer?! The murderer who also used knives and a car in his death spree, and yet no one is speaking of banning knives and motor vehicles.

As for his allegedly being a conservative, John Hinderaker has debunked that canard in this case of a person who in fact turns out to be a "prototypical liberal male" (cheers to Instapundit, again). Indeed, contrary to the wishes of most leftists, most mass murderers seem to turn out to come from the Left side of the political aisle.
Finally, "experts" have been claiming that mass murderers are hard to predict.

That is not entirely true, as I wrote in a dispassionate and in-depth study into the issue of gun control:
Unless I am mistaken, there was not a single occasion of a shootist over the past 50 years, whether underage kids or grown-up adults, who did not previously show warning signs — if only the fact that they were described as "remote" — warning signs that were deliberately and repeatedly ignored, by family and friends as well as by professionals and people in authority; and that, for fear of the left's PC police.

(This is true even in the military; think only of the warning signs concerning Major Nidal Hassan, universally and persistently ignored, prior to the Islamist's 2009 Fort Hood massacre.)

… After a shooting spree, as William S. Burroughs once said, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it and who, (not at all) incidentally, would never do anything remotely like it.

 … had an armed American — had the average armed American — been present at the school or at the university, he (or she) would have used his (or her) weapon to start firing back at Adam Lanza [or Elliot Rodger], and either hit the gunman or forced him to take cover, preventing him from continuing his deadly spree.
As for Michael Moore claiming that "Americans kill people", 24 hours after Elliot Rodgers' rampage, a man enters a museum in Brussels (the Jewish Museum, who would have guessed?) and lets loose with the gun he is carrying, killing four (of course, we have no way of knowing if the unidentified killer is an American citizen, but somehow I doubt it). [Update: here is the reaction of a Jewish rock musician — en français.] One more than was shot by Rodger (the three other victims were stabbed to death). (Note to Michael Moore: Brussels is in Belgium; and Belgium is in Europe; neither is in, or anywhere near, the United States.)

Moreover, as I wrote in my post on gun control,
it is easy for leftists, American as well as foreign, to tout the success of the gun control laws in the rest of the Western world when you ignore :
• the 1996 massacre of 16 children at a Scottish primary school;
• the 2000 killing of eight kids in Japan;
• the 2002 deaths of eight people in Nanterre, France;
• the 2002 killing of 16 kids in Erfurt, Germany;
• the 2007 shootings to death of eight people in Tuusula, Finland;
• the killing of 10 people at a Finnish university less than a year later;
• the 2009 killing of 15 people in Winnenden, Germany;
• and, needless to say, Anders Breivik's 2011 mass murder of 77 Norwegians, most of them teenagers.

Dinesh D’Souza had to pay: Try to imagine Michael Moore being arrested during Bush’s 2nd term and the ensuing outcry it would have caused on the Left

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty last week to charges of funneling campaign donations in excess of the legal limit through straw donors to the campaign of Senate hopeful Wendy Long.
Thus starts Benny Huang's Patriot Update report.
The D’Souza case has reeked from the beginning of reprisal from on high. His film “2016: Obama’s America” was the second highest grossing political documentary of all time, just behind Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Some have called D’Souza’s film the conservative answer to “Fahrenheit,” though I reject that comparison on the grounds that “2016” is actually truthful. But try to imagine Moore being arrested during Bush’s second term and the ensuing outcry it would have caused on the Left. Hollywood would be making movies for years to come portraying Moore as a political prisoner.

Some might argue that D’Souza is an innocent man who took a plea deal rather than going to trial and risking a harsher sentence. I doubt it, but if that’s the case he should have stuck to his guns.

Even in light of his recent guilty plea, the D’Souza case still seems fishy. In a society in which the application of the law is so often whimsical all prosecutions begin to take on the appearance of selectivity and even payback.

But wait a second, a dissenting voice might say, D’Souza did the crime and now he’s doing the time. How can that be political payback? The answer is that crimes have been so estranged from their punishments that they hardly seem even tangentially related. Yes, it appears that D’Souza broke the law but that in and of itself tells us little about why he’s in the docket.

There are all sorts of people breaking the law right now, in high places and low, who are being excused. Illegal aliens are living in our midst. Plenty of industries are employing them too, which is also illegal. CIA director David Petraeus divulged classified information to his biographer/mistress. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper perjured himself when he said that the NSA was not “wittingly” spying on Americans. Planned Parenthood is failing in their obligation as mandatory reporters by remaining silent about underage rape victims seeking abortions at their facilities. Both AG Eric Holder and IRS official Lois Lerner are in blatant contempt of Congress. Holder is also guilty of perjury, having testified before Congress that he only learned of Operation Fast and Furious “in the last few days,” implying that he had been in the dark about the gun-walking program. Officials at the IRS illegally disclosed classified tax information to the leftwing journalistic foundation ProPublica, as well as to the Human Rights Campaign and the Los Angeles Times.

Certain people are apparently above the law. Dinesh D’Souza isn’t one of those people, though he could be if he were one of the cool kids, that is, a progressive who receives invitations to all the right Georgetown parties. Instead he made a movie that examined Obama’s political education, including his anticolonialist roots and communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis. So he had to pay.

Which isn’t to say that D’Souza should skate. The rule of law is a part of civilization’s foundation that has been steadily eroding for decades. Law breakers should face punishment and that includes D’Souza. I say this while still maintaining that the campaign finance law he broke is silly and constitutionally dubious. Laws that are unconstitutional should be overturned through judicial review, and laws that are bad policy should be repealed via the legislative process. Simply ignoring laws we don’t like is a slippery slope to anarchy.

Eric Holder, the highest law enforcement officer in the land, disagrees. He argues that his office has great “discretion” in enforcement. “There is a vast amount of discretion … that an attorney general has,” Holder said. “But that discretion has to be used in an appropriate way so that you’re acting consistent [sic] with the aims of the statute but at the same time making sure that you are acting in a way that is consistent with our values, consistent with the Constitution and protecting the American people.”

 A quick look at Holder’s track record, however, reveals that his exercise of discretion is not based on concern for values, the Constitution, or the American people. His idea of “discretion” should really be called bias. Holder’s DOJ only enforces laws it likes and only against people it doesn’t. By ignoring certain laws, it essentially nullifies them without actually having to go through the legislative process.

 … Dinesh D’Souza admitted to violating the law and for that he should pay. Yet his admitted guilt makes him no less of a victim of revanchist prosecution for a minor crime. As the old adage goes, “They’re framing a guilty man in there.”

Sunday, May 25, 2014

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed

Admiral William McRaven, a 36-year veteran Navy SEAL and commander of the forces that killed Osama bin Laden, delivered a rousing commencement speech Thursday to graduates at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin
writes Cheryl Carpenter Klimek (thanks to Valerie).
In urging students to find the courage to change the world, McRaven shared these 10 life lessons, as seen in the video below:
1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.
7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

For each lesson, McRaven offered a narrative of how it applied to him. The most poignant explanation came just before No. 10, when he said:
Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell, a brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.

All you have to do to quit is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock.  Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims.

Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT — and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.

Just ring the bell.