The Battle of Tours

 

@dougwatt‘s post on the Battle of Lepanto reminded me of a post I’ve had floating around in my bean for a while now.

On 3 October 732, the Umayyad  army of Abd al-Rahman, wadi of Al Andalus was headed for Tours when he encountered a large force of Franks in his path. This was a surprise. Abd al-Rahman was in Aquitaine. He hadn’t expected the rest of the Franks to come to the aid of Duke Odo, whom he had defeated at the Battle of the River Garonne. Odo had been at odds with Charles, Duke and Prince of the Franks and the Mayor of the Palaces of Austrasia and Neustria. Charles wasn’t a king. Charles appointed kings. (Nice gig if you can get it.)

A Wake-up Call

 

Friday we were rear-ended. It was a relatively uneventful encounter, but it was very strange and disconcerting at the same time.

We had just pulled into a parking space at Publix. Unlike 99% of the time when we go to the market when we drive my husband’s little Nissan 370Z, we were in our Hyundai Sonata sedan. As my husband turned off the engine, we were hit, the loudness and impact startling me; I couldn’t figure out what had happened. My husband calmly said we’ve been hit.

He left the car first, and I sat a moment to collect myself, trying to figure out how we’d been rear-ended in a parking space. Finally, as I looked out the rear window, I realized that the young, slightly overweight woman behind our car was deeply distressed; I then realized that in leaving her parking space directly opposite ours she hadn’t checked her rearview mirror. The space which had been empty moments before now had our car in it.

The (Really) Big Picture

 

Four trillion is a really big number. It’s big if you’re talking about dollars, as @davew illustrated in his charming That’s an Awful Lot of Briefcases post a few days ago. But it’s big pretty much no matter what you’re talking about: 4,000,000,000,000 — with all its commas and zeros — doesn’t give our minds a lot to hold on to. It isn’t relatable.

Big numbers, and bigness in general, have been on my mind lately, and they have nothing to do with whatever is going on in our nation’s dysfunctional capital.

Organizational Rot – and Its Cure

 

Today in the UK, a vaunted and respected police unit dedicated to protecting children from abuse was credibly accused of making up evidence and issuing cautions (tickets) to people they knew perfectly well were innocent. Such corruption, of course, is hardly uncommon.

Defenders of the Public School systems look back to the heyday of the institutions, when teachers were great, and students learned. Any argument on the future of public schools invariably calls on this Golden Age, and seeks to use it as proof that public schooling is an obvious good.

Book Review: Roger Scruton’s ‘Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition’

 

Published in 2017, a little over two years before his death, this I think was Roger Scruton’s last published work devoted to conservatism proper.  He has written other books on music and art, albeit as seen through a conservative lens, but their primary focus was aesthetic and not civic. Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition summarizes a great career of a man who has lived his life in the public square with a particular philosophy that runs against the current of contemporary ethos.  Roger Scruton (1944-2020) was a conservative in the paleo-conservative sense, not some neoconservative rebranding of once Liberal thought. He is British, though has had a voice in European and American conservative circles, a professor of philosophy, has published over 50 books on a wide range of subjects, and for almost twenty years was chief editor at the conservative quarterly, The Salisbury Review.  Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Scruton helped establish underground academic networks in communist-controlled countries.

This is an excellent and concise book on the history of modern conservatism by an author who lived through most of the debates of the last fifty years.  When Scruton identifies modern conservatism, he says it is “a product of the Enlightenment,” although acknowledging that conservatism dates back in every era of history.  Conservatism for Scruton is a set of customs, values, and institutions built by a community over time that have proven to sustain, preserve and “ensure [the] community’s long-term survival” and that give it a sense of identity and unity.  Conservatism in the modern sense is a counter to the Liberal emphasis of reshaping society as radical individualism that rose out of the Enlightenment.  “Tradition,” as Scruton observes from Edmund Burke, “is a form of knowledge.”

Scruton walks us through the philosophical ideas that have shaped conservatism going back to Edmund Burke, who argued against a notion of society as a “social contract” (from Jean-Jacques Rousseau) but as a “shared inheritance for the sake of which we learn to circumscribe our demands, to see our own place in things as part of a continuous chain of giving and receiving, and to recognize that the good things we inherit are not ours to spoil but ours to safeguard for our dependents” (p. 45).  Indeed I never signed a social contract but I was certainly born into a shared inheritance.

Bill Maher: ’10 Years Ago … the Left Did Not Have a Crazy Section’

 

On a recent episode of MSNBC host Joe Scarborough’s podcast, comedian Bill Maher said that the political diversity of his audiences was changing.m”For the first time in my life, I am playing to a mixed audience,” Maher said. “I was in Nashville about a month ago, and the audience was about 60-40 liberal to conservative.”

“That never used to happen — never — I think it’s because 10 years ago, in my opinion anyway, the left did not have a crazy section,” Maher explained. “There was no such thing as woke, and now they do have a crazy section, which I call out as a liberal. I think I’m kind of one of the only people doing that, so there’s a hunger to hear that.”

Inside the Space Shuttle Mission Control

 

The Space Shuttle carried two to eight people into space when it flew. Most of us don’t realize that a shuttle mission required a crew as large as that of a modern U.S. Navy cruiser. More than 300 flight controllers at Johnson Space Center in Houston “flew” the mission from 20 stations in the Mission Control Building.

“Shuttle Mission Control: Flight Controller Stories and Photos, 1981–1992,” by Marianne J. Dyson, tells the story of those people and the Flight Control Room (FCR) at the heart of Mission Control.

The FCR was what the public thought of as Mission Control, the room televised during shuttle missions. It can be thought of as the ship’s bridge for shuttle missions. Dyson describes the FCR, its history, its layout, its role within Johnson Space Center, and how it worked.

Quote of the Day: Distrust of Government

 

“Distrust of government isn’t baseless cynicism. It’s realism.” – Ben Shapiro

We have seen the truth of this aphorism made clear many times over the past year. Lawlessness on the part of the national government is virtually institutionalized. The latest example occurred earlier this week as the Justice Department declared parents protesting the institution of Critical Racism Race Theory being taught to their children as “domestic terrorists.” It is a clear attempt to criminalize political dissent, a process that began with the treatment of the January 6 protestors.

Gain of (Power) Functions

 

We are all familiar with the names, terms and acronyms like: Woke, CRT, BLM, Antifa, Equity, 1619 Project, Transphobia, Cancel Culture, Vaccine passports, Gender Pronouns, January 6th, Right-Wing Terrorism, #MeToo, even the word ‘Democracy’ when used singularly by Joe Biden. And the list goes on. These are all instruments – tools – of the Left to gain power. Their means and ends are for pure power. Not to help people, not to better the United States – goodness no. Most of these are direct attacks on individual liberty and freedoms, but others are designed to trick us into voluntarily self-emolliating. The ends are to get and hold power. Borrowing from the present COVID issue, these are gain of power functions.

More Gain of Power Functions

Is Mike Pence a Decent Man?

 

Paul Meringoff, posting at Powerline, discusses former Vice President Mike Pence’s positioning for a presidential run in 2024.

The Washington Post reports that Mike Pence and his allies are gearing up for a possible run at the presidency in 2024. According to the Post, Pence’s friends and advisers say he’s likely to run for president, especially if Donald Trump doesn’t.

Are You Getting Nervous? Supply Chain Is the Next Shoe

 

COVID was a life-changing event for the world and it has yet to be solved or rectified. Its origin was somewhere in China, maybe Wuhan (we know that is the origin). We’ve been on high alert for so long, and I’m tired of it. The infection curve went up, came down, went up again, and now it’s leveling off. So can we calm down yet? No, because it seems the next crisis is unfolding and this is in our supply chain. Several have posted what they are seeing, shortages, longer wait times, costs going up. I am getting nervous again when I read sentences like this, from an article called “Inside America’s Broken Supply Chain”:

This month, the median cost of shipping a standard rectangular metal container from China to the West Coast of the United States hit a record $20,586, almost twice what it cost in July, which was twice what it cost in January, according to the Freightos index. Essential freight-handling equipment too often is not where it’s needed, and when it is, there aren’t enough truckers or warehouse workers to operate it.

Autocorrect Fail, or Just the Funniest Book Review Ever?

 

Before my husband, Mr. She, died last year, he spent many years (probably well over a decade, now that I reflect on it with the benefit of hindsight) slowly succumbing to dementia.  It’s a cruel disease, as many of you know.  But also looking back on it, and–indeed–since he died, I’ve found humor in some of the situations in which we became embroiled as he gradually became more and more confused, and retreated further into his past.  There’s really not much you can do, other than be in the moment with people who suffer this way, go with the flow, and enjoy the parts of life that are still enjoyable, both as you’re living them, and as you look back on them.

Otherwise, you’d probably go mad.

After he died, I discovered that Mr. She had been–for quite a few years–an enthusiastic eBay purchaser.  Model trains and accessories.  Old radios that he thought he’d refurbish, but never did.  And books.  Lots of books.  At some point after the fact, I realized that his adamant determination, almost until the end, that it was “his job” to get the mail, and that I was under no circumstances allowed to do so, probably had something to with the surreptitious smuggling of all these boxes (which I never even saw) into the house.

This Is Not Mutual Combat

 

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx says there is “insufficient evidence” and now Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is a former prosecutor herself, is not happy. Foxx even cited “mutual combat” in this case, as it was reportedly gangs shooting at one another.

It happened in the 1200 block of Mason in Austin around 11 a.m. last Friday. The shooting was caught on a pod camera and police say more than 70 shots were fired. Two groups of gang members were shooting at each other. One of the alleged shooters died and two others were wounded.

Guided by an Invisible Hand. No, Not That One

 

I live on Hilton Head Island.  Which is pretty weird, if you know anything about me.  Those who have read my posts over the years know that I avoid undiluted water.  Yet here I am on an island surrounded by it.  I get motion sick just looking at a boat.  I don’t like sitting on the beach.  I don’t like hot weather, but I enjoy snow.  I don’t play golf.  I like to have a bit of space around me.  My last house had a mile-long driveway, straight up a mountain in Tennessee.  I had nearly 60 acres, surrounded by National Forest.  I would shoot skeet out of our hot tub on the edge of a cliff.  Here, I live on a half-acre lot on a golf course.  I sometimes find golf balls in my swimming pool, and people walk their dogs through my front lawn.  I miss my space.  What on earth am I doing here?

Well, I came here for a job.  I saw a business opportunity, so I took a chance.  And business is good, so everything worked out.  I figured I’d get used to my new lifestyle.  I grew up on a hog farm, and then lived on a mountain in Tennessee.  I’d never lived in a city or a suburb, but I figured I’d get used to it.  I’ve been here nearly five years, and I can’t get used to it.  Someone drives down my street at night and I wonder, “Who the heck is that?”

Hilton Head is a really nice place.  I can see why people like it.  It’s very convenient.  Within three miles of my house, I have a Super Walmart, a Publix grocery store, a nice liquor store, a pizza place, a Wendy’s, a Burger King, a nice bar/fish restaurant right on the water, an Ace Hardware, and a few banks.  I can take my golf cart to any of them.  And yes.  Of course, I have a golf cart.  I don’t have a pickup truck anymore, or a skid steer, but I do have a golf cart.  The golf bag holder on the back has fishing poles in it, and the cup holder can hold four Yeti cups.  Of properly diluted water.

Donald Trump Interview at The Federalist

 

Mollie Hemingway spent five hours interviewing Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Florida over a wide range of topics, including: Media bias, Covid and Fauci, Afghanistan (the interview predates the catastrophic Biden pull out), his opinion of Mitch McConnell and other Republicans, his abortion record, and, of course, the 2020 election. It’s one of the more balanced profiles of Trump, giving him a chance to speak for himself, while also acknowledging his idiosyncrasies and mistakes he made while in office.

On that last topic, Trump does not come across in the interview as the deranged embittered maniac who tried to overthrow Democracy the way he is portrayed in the mainstream media and NeverTrump outlets like The Dispatch and The Bulwark. Rather, he seems to have some legitimate complaints that states may have unconstitutionally changed election laws to help his opponent.

Programming Note: the first version of this show had some tracks out sync due to an encoding error. If you received that version of the show, please delete that file and re-download the show to get the fixed version. We apologize for the inconvenience and added an additional outtake at the end of the fixed version as a gift for enduring our mistake.

“The state is powerful and everyone else you know is a moron.” And with that from Rob Long we launch into our Rank Punditry™ segment on the propaganda wars being waged in America today.

Minority Report

 

Ballot boxSenator Grassley released a clearly written report on another of the Democrats’ fraudulent assaults on Orange Man Bad. Facts contradict the Democrats and Bush-Cheney Republicans. What follows is an excerpt of the introduction and bullet point executive summary. Notice that each and every bullet point is sourced in the report. I added emphasis in the introduction.

Compare the reported resistance and even criminal behavior of career civil “servants” under President Trump to their eager execution of the wildest, most unconstitutional wishes of Obama and Xiden.

MINORITY STAFF REPORT

Conservatives Keep Making the Same Mistakes

 

I have enormous respect for Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff. But he wrote an article today which had several statements with which I disagree. Which is fine, except that these are examples of common mistakes made by conservatives today, in my opinion, so I’m using his article simply as a means of pointing out these recurring errors.

The first recurring error is not made by conservatives, but by the media. And I don’t think it’s an error, it’s just a common technique used to cover for Democrat mistakes. After discussing the significant drop in President Biden’s popularity only eight months into his presidency, the news website FiveThirtyEight listed these possible explanations for his dismal poll numbers:  “the decline in Biden’s approval rating was never just about Afghanistan … it was also driven by the resurgent pandemic, dissatisfaction with the economy, or even natural post-honeymoon reversion to a mean that is more realistic in these polarized times.” Of course, when a Republican’s poll numbers drop, it’s because he’s an evil fool with destructive policies. But when a Democrat’s poll numbers drop, it’s, um, complicated.

Ok, fine. But then Mr. Mirengoff made a few points that I really think are common mistakes among conservatives. First of all, he hypothesizes that Mr. Biden won the presidential election by presenting himself as a moderate centrist. With the Democrat party’s surge to the left over the past 10-20 years, I find this unlikely. People know who Democrats are at this point. But regardless, Mr. Mirengoff then hypothesizes that as Mr. Biden continues to govern less like JFK and more like Vladimir Putin, he thinks that American citizens are likely to realize that they’ve made a horrible mistake, and will seek to fix it. When discussing Attorney General Merrick Garland’s infamous memo that told the FBI to view PTA mothers at school board meetings as domestic terrorists, Mr. Mirengoff even used the dreaded “straw that broke the camel’s back” metaphor:

Blame the Victim: Mankind Destroys the World

 

Classic stories have beginnings, plot developments and endings. But realistic — human — stories are much more complicated, because they include the whole range of possible failures: false starts, ambivalent twists, people who fall short or may even overachieve.

The beginning of the book of Genesis reads sort of like an artist’s first attempt at a major work. It starts well, might have a hiccup or two, and then, thanks to some unintended consequences, finds itself in a hopeless corner, a dead end from which there is no clean way out.

With Apologies to CSL

 

MY DEAR WORMWOOD,

A new millennium is upon us, nephew, and if I have failed to respond to your many requests for direction and advice, it is only because pressing matters here have consumed my attention. The simple fact is that Hell is bursting at the seams. We who are privileged to work in the Lowerarchy were caught completely unprepared for the inrush of souls. They are “stacked like cordwood,” as a fellow administrator amusingly put it; we literally trip over them as we go about our work. Though Our Father Below is the embodiment of wisdom, even he failed to anticipate the windfall the 20th century delivered us.

William Branum spent 26 years in the U.S. Navy, 23 of those as a SEAL. He deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan in the GWOT, and spent the last three years of his active duty service helping the SEAL teams acquire the funds and gear they needed to stay at the cutting edge.

William takes us through the grueling process of what it takes to become a SEAL, and the many important life lessons that he learned and skills he developed that we can all benefit from.
After retiring from the Navy, William jumped into the entrepreneurial world, starting his own consulting firm.

The Real Problem Is: We are Losing

 

Anyone on the right can look back at the last 50 years and see the long string of losses to the left. They have set the agenda and they have set the direction. A Republican made nice with China and took us off the gold standard. While Reagan won the Cold War and cut taxes, everything else on the domestic front went the Left’s way. Bush and Clinton both raised taxes. Deficit spending has been the way of the nation in almost every year I have been alive. We no longer need any sort of war to spend and spend. Each President of the last generation more than doubled the previous president’s debt.

The Left controls all the big companies, all the universities, and thanks to the administrative state, they write all the new rules that are effectively laws. From Sea to Shining Sea, the Left has moved from victory to victory, and the Right goes from defeat to defeat. I will admit we have made progress on guns, but that looks to be a lot less safe a win for the Right, than say Obamacare was for the Left.