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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Commemorating Edmund Burke



JUNE 2012
The limits of universalism
On Burkean conservatism.

I’d like to thank Roger Kimball for that generous introduction. Our friendship by now spans the decades since we met at Bill Buckley’s house. Bill infused the lives of all he touched. And he inspired a generation to define a new concept of conservatism for the contemporary era. It disputed not the need for progress but the proposition that progress could be invented and implemented as a bureaucratic exercise. Bill posed an alternative of progress as an organic expression of a society fulfilling its vision and culture in the flow of history.
I am honored to receive a prize commemorating Edmund Burke, whom Bill so admired. I, too, have found Burke’s vision of conservatism an apt guide to contemporary problems. Burke lived in a time comparable to ours: The French Revolution was in the process of destroying the established civil order and the monarchical principle. The American Revolution upended the prevailing international order.
Burke confronted the conservative paradox: Values are universal, but generally have to be implemented as part of a process, that is to say, gradually. If they are implemented without respect for history or circumstance, they invalidate all traditional restraints. Burke sympathized with the American Revolution because he considered it a natural evolution of English liberties. Burke opposed the French Revolution, which he believed wrecked what generations had wrought and, with it, the prospect of organic growth.
For Burke, society was both an inheritance and a point of departure. As he wrote in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, “[T]he idea of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation and a sure principle of transmission, without at all excluding a principle of improvement.” A society proceeding in this spirit will discover that “in what we improve we are never wholly new; in what we retain we are never wholly obsolete.”
Hence prudence is “in all things a virtue, [and] in politics the first of virtues.” Its practice yields a politics which, as Burke wrote in November 1789,
lead[s] us rather to acquiesce in some qualified plan that does not come up to the full perfection of the abstract idea, than to push for the more perfect, which cannot be attained without tearing to pieces the whole contexture of the commonwealth.
That distinction defines the disagreement between conservatism and liberalism in our society, between viewing history as an organic process or as a series of episodes shaped by self-will. It also accounts, to some extent, for the difference between Burkean conservatism as I understand it and some aspects of neoconservatism.
Let me say that I consider the latter difference a family quarrel. Many neoconservatives are personal friends of mine, with whose analyses of any given situation I often agree, and whose convictions I respect. I have also become quite familiar with them, having been shot at by them from time to time from both sides of the dividing lines. We differ primarily on the role of history in achieving common objectives.
The difference is often put as an abstract debate over whether power or values is the dominant force in international relations. The advocates of a realist foreign policy are caricatured with the German term Realpolitik, I suppose to facilitate the choosing of sides. In this caricature, international relations is described as a series of clashing billiard balls, careering off each other at calculable and perfectible angles determined by their relative force. Values, it is claimed, are irrelevant to a “realist” foreign policy; the balance of power is its dominant, or even sole, motive force.
The alternative approach is often put forward in the name of “idealism” or a “values-based” foreign policy. For this approach, American values are universal and transportable, by predictable mechanisms and usually in a finite period of time. Strategic issues are dealt with on the whole by analyzing domestic structures. According to the neoconservative school of thought, relations are bound to be adversarial with imperfectly democratic societies; relations are certain to improve as democracy prevails. Geopolitical analysis is rejected because it presumes the continued existence of faulty governances. This school of thought calls on America to spread its values by the sponsorship of revolution and, if necessary, by force. Yet neither of these approaches seems to me to meet the Burkean test of accounting for the full variety of human experience and the complexity of statesmanship.
The billiard table is a seductive analogy. But in real foreign policy, the billiard balls do not react only to physical impact. They are also guided by their own cultural inheritances: their histories, instincts, ideals, their characteristic national approaches to strategy, in short, their national values. A realist foreign policy needs a strong value system to guide it through the inherent ambiguities of circumstance. Even Bismarck, the supreme realist, emphasized the ultimate moral basis of realist statesmanship: “The best a statesman can do is to listen carefully to the footsteps of God, get ahold of the hem of His cloak and walk with Him a few steps of the way.”
The neoconservative approach posits that universal peace is achievable by engineering a world of democratic institutions and that, if history does not move quickly enough, we can move it along by military force. My concern is that this ultimate goal is in practice so remote, and the method of reaching it so uncertain, that it leads to an interventionism exhausting our society and ultimately to abdication, as in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The difference is less one of destination than of pacing. The point is not that what exists is unalterable, but that the effort required to implement change will be more sustainable, if we temper the visionary aspect of policy with a recognition of the variety and complexity of circumstance.
The current situation in the Middle East is instructive. The Arab Spring was initially greeted with exuberance as a regional, youth-led revolution on behalf of liberal democratic principles. But, as Burke recognized, revolution succeeds through the confluence of many disparate grievances; the dissolution of the old regime inevitably brings with it the need to distill from these grievances a new version of domestic authority. This process is often violent and far from automatically creates a tradition of civil tolerance and individual rights; it is, at best, the beginning of a journey toward these goals. America can, and should, assist on this journey. But we will fail if we settle for one-party elections and sectarian dominance as a democratic outcome.
Attempts to transform the political structures of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan amidst conflict conditions faltered when American public opinion came to question the length, cost, and ambiguity of the effort. The United States has now embarked on a new series of commitments to shaping the future evolution of other states in North Africa and the Middle East. I do not question the sincerity or the nobility of the effort. But an attempt to promote humane values will come to nothing if it cannot be sustained over time. And to be sustainable, it must be placed within a framework of other traditional American national interests and a recognition of the American public’s appetite for extended interventions.
As the Arab Spring unfolds, some of the key issues to be resolved include: Do we have a preference as to which groups come to power? Or are we agnostic so long as the mechanisms are electoral? If so, how do we avoid the risk of fostering a new absolutism legitimized by managed plebiscites? What outcomes are compatible with America’s core strategic interests? Will it be possible to combine strategic withdrawal from key countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and reduced military expenditures with doctrines of universal humanitarian intervention?
The Arab Spring has not abolished traditional strategic realities or traditional factional forces within the societies experiencing upheaval. A plausible vision counsels a willingness to relate our efforts to a pace somewhat more evolutionary—sometimes even ambiguous—than will necessarily satisfy the YouTube and Twitter generation. It is not an abdication of principle to adapt American foreign policy to the domestic circumstances of other societies and to other relevant factors, including national security.
In the end, what is at issue are concepts of world order and human progress. The extreme realist model proposes a world of equilibrium, punctuated by conflict. The United States, in this view, cannot shape history toward humane or democratic outcomes because history cannot be shaped, only enacted. The neoconservative model substitutes a democratic teleology of history and assigns America the responsibility (and the ability) to urge it along through diplomacy, the encouragement of revolution, and, in the extreme, through force.
American Burkean conservatism can make its distinctive contribution in transcending this cleavage. A world order of states embracing participatory governance and international cooperation, in accordance with agreed-upon rules, can be our hope and should be our inspiration. Progress toward it is possible, and desirable. But this progress will generally need to be sustained through a series of intermediary stages. At any given interval, we will usually be better served, as Burke wrote in the passage quoted earlier, “to acquiesce in some qualified plan that does not come up to the full perfection of the abstract idea, than to push for the more perfect,” and risk a collapse and abdication by insisting on the ultimate immediately. We need a strategy and diplomacy that allow for the complexity of the journey—the loftiness of the goal, as well as the inherent incompleteness of the human endeavors through which it will be approached.
An attempt to operate on principles of power alone will prove unsustainable. But an attempt to promote values without an account for culture and nuance—as well as other intangibles of circumstance and chance—will end in disillusionment and abdication.
The distinction between idealism and realism rejects the experience of history. Idealists do not have a monopoly on moral values; realists must recognize that ideals are also part of reality. We will be less frequently disillusioned if we emphasize a foreign policy designed to accumulate nuance rather than triumph through apocalyptic showdowns, and our values will benefit over the longer term.
Such an effort must be based on an awareness of our cultural heritage—the preservation of which is a vast challenge in our social media and Internet age. The generations brought up on books were obliged to internalize concepts and think through complex ideas transmitted across time. When information is acquired by being “looked up” on the Internet, a surfeit of information may inhibit the acquisition of knowledge, and respect for it. When facts are disaggregated from their context and called up only when needed, they risk losing the coherence of historical perspective. As Burke wrote, “People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.”
When identity is established by a consensus of episodic “friends” on social media pages, the immediate may overwhelm the important. Reaction to stimuli may transcend reflection on substance. Overcoming this danger may be the ultimate cultural task for the Burkean conservative.

106 comments:

  1. The video and this speech by Henry Kissinger are well worth the few minutes spent with them.

    Both are very relevant to our political involvement internationally and the radical, dangerous and revolutionary zeal of Barack Obama and the attempt by the progressive left to bring an unnatural change to the US society.

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  2. By an odd coincidence, I was reading Burke last month.

    He predicted the rise of a Napoleon, too:
    "In the weakness of one kind of authority, and in the fluctuation of all, the officers of an army will remain for some time mutinous and full of faction, until some popular general, who...possesses the true spirit of command, shall draw the eyes of all men upon himself. Armies will obey him on his personal account....But the moment in which that event shall happen, the person who really commands the army is your master - the master of your king, the master of your Assembly, the master of your whole republic.”

    He wrote that in 1790 - and in 1799, two years after Burke's death, what did the French get? Napoleon Bonaparte. The question for us is, what will we get after Barack Obama?

    Unfortunately, this is increasingly a description of current government as a whole, because so many of our federal elites such as Obama, come from the Ivy schools, and the Ivy schools have long surrendered to Theory. Institutions like the Kennedy School at Harvard basically keep recycling people that have never done anything but "public service" and academia. Even in some of the more practical departments... architecture comes to mind... many star instructors haven't actually built much, but they publish fabulous concepts in all the right journals. They're just aping their heroes like Corbusier in this case. Corbu, compared to his peers, didn't build much, but he was a god in the classroom.

    Isn't this a perfect description of the Executive Branch under Obama?

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    1. .

      No point in just limiting it to Obama. What Obama does here is mirrored in more countries than not, the UK, Russia, et al.

      There is a video game for the PC called Civilization II that maps human history pretty well. It starts about 5000 years ago. Players are allowed to allocate resources, grow crops, eventually build cities and armies, etc. You are in competition with others and first there are conflicts and then wars. The game can go on forever, but eventually, you reach a point where there are minimal key players in the world.

      This is the point were most people quit and move on to the game Civilization III and the more recent versions.

      However, there are those that have continued to play Civilization II for a decade or more, taking it 3,000-4,000 years into the future. The end is usually the same, a dystopic world, racked by nuclear war and environmental disasters, with a few
      super-states, usually theocracies or socialist states, all dictatorships.

      Much of the planet is a waste land, there is a balance of power among the remaining states, and the continuous war and natural disasters means that most progress stops.

      I tend to think that ultimate end is inevitible; but hopefully, far into the future. In the mean time, all we can do is fight the good fight, and try to delay it from happening for millenia rather than centuries or even decades.

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  3. Amazing how Burke remains relevant 230 years later.

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  4. So does all this high talk mean Burke would have respect for a civilization of say 1400 years whose content has been passed down in an appropriate Burkean conservative manner, with the little increments of change coming slowly and the whole thing now being so ingrained it's become like the air they breathe? And would Burke make a good imam, jealous for the ways of his ancestors? Or not so jealous yet always urging caution lest things get worse? Or might he say, fuck it all, this whole business is ridiculous? And we're stuck in the shit hell we are because no one ever has the guts to try to pull the ancient roots out of the ground once and for all?


    b

    b

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    1. You really are dot connecting challenged.

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  5. Guess I'm just trying to point out that a type of thought built from European soil doesn't transfer so well to other places.

    b

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    1. .

      Exactly, the point of the article. Just change some names around.

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  6. Burke, Kissinger, etal have/had one common goal - keep the riffraff under thumb, and the slaves on the plantation. Their only "relevence" is as a pair of carbuncles on mankinds' collective asses.

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  7. They both have spoken very highly of you.

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  8. When the "conservatives" announce their support for Renewable Energies, Healthcare for the poor, and a reasonable tax regime, and renounce their predilection for foreign adventurism I'll begin to listen a little more closely to their self-serving screeds.

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    1. I doubt Burke would have been supportive of our military adventurism.

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  9. I imagine I'll be safe pencilling something else in for tomorrow, though.

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  10. Now, according to NY Times, they are “Immigrants.”

    U.S. to Stop Deporting Some Immigrants
    “The youths/young people affected deserve the chance to stay and contribute to the country which is as much theirs as ours,” writes Timothy Jay Smith in Paris.

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  11. When laws become optional, there are no laws. Obama is really a dangerous and despicable ________________.

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  12. Is it too late to win the culture war?

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  13. Deuce, we've always those that fought in our wars with citizenship. All Obama did was take Rubio's "Dream Act Lite," which Congress Was going to pass, and put it in practice. "Politics?" Sure. Good Politics? You betcha. Why else would the Pubs be howling so loudly?

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    1. .

      You are the perfect foil for Burkean thought as just laid out by Kissenger.

      Congress was going to pass the Dream Act and put it in practice?

      But they didn't. There will be an election in November and many of these issues will be more easily decided. But why wait (especially if it will help get out the Spanish vote)?

      The Obama Policy. If you don't like a law, ignore it. If you need justification (or rationalization) write a secret memo or, in this case, an executive order.

      A system built on laws sounds good in the abstract, but to some, it is often a hindrance. To them, we ought to be able to decide which laws we choose to obey and which to ignore. After all, doesn't the end justify the means?

      Policy over process. We've had this discussion here before.

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  14. There was a Dutchman (a former member of the Royal Dutch Marines, or somesuch,) in my platoon at San Diego. He liked the Military, and he wanted to be an American citizen. It was a two-fer.

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    1. He was also in the country legally or he would have been rejected by the induction service. He would have been vetted by the FBI, the local police force and public records. He would have shown a birth certificate, passport and an alien registration card. He would have been photographed and finger printed. He would have been accountable to the same laws as you or I, paid taxes and expected to obey all laws, not just the ones that registered on his good-feeling meter

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  15. Now Rufus, you are good with numbers. Obama effectively bestowed citizenship on 900,000 plus illegal immigrants. How many of these 900,000 will be in the military? One percent, on a good day?

    How many will be high users of government transfer payments?

    How many will begin the process to bring in chain migration family members?

    How many will always vote for the candidate that promises more free stuff?

    This is the Mexican Anschluss of the US southwest.

    Most of these illegals will come from Central America and north with most from Mexico. Many will be coming in from Africa and the Caribbean. In your experience in life, do you expect this will improve the existing US culture or do you believe this will burden or lighten the burden of an expanding underclass demanding more largesse? Crime will increase and public health will decrease.

    Who pays for all this? Corporations pay nothing. This will further weaken the legitimate average American family, further depress wages, tax social cohesion and domestic security. Many Philadelphia areas are already no-go areas because of the domestic black underclass and illegal Spanish speaking immigrants. It is the same as well in many small, medium towns and cities across the US.

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  16. Okay, you've got me on this one. I just saw the headline, and went on to something else (yesterday was a bit busy.) Give me a link where I can give this a closer look.

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  17. Here's what I've picked up so far:

    The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives.

    No mention of "amnesty," or "citizenship," there.

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    1. Please, the left has incrementalism down to a science. It is in the blood, the DNA and the stars above. It a pattern with its own unwavering constant, the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. It is the green fungus on cheese and the mold on the political loaf of free bread.

      Have I made myself clear?

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  18. At the moment we do not see the forest from the tree.

    In the coming years when we look back to the events of this year we will be surprised how much energy and worry we wasted on the Greek events and not these other important things.

    The whole world is in a system failure since the socio-economic system we have been applying has run out of steam and has become self destructive.

    We are still in "Hollywood" mode waiting for a miracle happy ending, a "return to growth", when more and more publications, studies warn that it is not possible any longer.

    We have to accept that our whole illusory way of life needs to change regardless of what is happening in Greece this weekend, or in Spain in the forthcoming weeks, or even in the US after the sleepwalking of the Presidential elections finish.

    And since we also evolved into a closed, global, totally interdependent system whatever change we start we have to do it together, in mutually responsible cooperation as we are all sitting on the same sinking boat.

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  19. There Is this:

    establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.

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  20. Now it is time for me to answer the birds and join them for coffee. It seems that this morning there may be an 18 pound woodpecker out there hammering at a too-old poplar.

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  21. Bully for you. However, while you're out there, ponder how it was the Republican leadership under Trent Lott that pushed so hard for "Bush's" Amnesty Plan, and pooh-poohed the Border Fence, mercilessly.

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    1. .

      Another red herring. Who gives a shit about Bush or the GOP? We are talking about making policy by fiat and ignoring the law.

      [As an aside, it appears you didn't actually read the Kissenger article since you seem to have been confuting neoconservsatism with Burkean conservatism all morning long.]

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    2. Brother, Puhleeze; I gave at the office.

      Presidents have always "made policy." Just as they've always carried out covert "wet work." We give the Presidents a lot of power (and, they "take" a lot of power;" that's why we make such a big deal out of Presidential Elections. It ain't no "figurehead" post.

      We call the President "Commander in Chief," and "Chief Executive" for a reason. Note, I'm not saying all this is, necessarily, "right," just that that's the way she is.

      And, you are right; I don't read anything of, about, or by that sorry Imperialist sonofabitch.

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    3. .

      “I believe there are more instances of abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments than violent and sudden usurpations.” — James Madison at the Virginia Ratification debates.

      But your attitude appears to be, "Ah, well. Shit happens. As long as the guy doesn't mess with my ethanol subsidies it will all work out. What could possibly go wrong?"

      Have another brewski.

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    4. See: Louisiana Purchase


      What "ethanol subsidies?"

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    5. .

      Another straw man.

      The treaty authorizing the Louisiana Purchase was ratified by the Senate as demanded by the constitution. The issue of the treaty was never reviewed by SCOTUS.

      To compare the Louisiana Purchase to some of Obama's more egregious declarations such as that contained within the executive is the power to be judge, jury, and executioner over Americans, domestic or foreign, without judicial review, without a warrant, and without actually charging the person is just downright weird.

      The executive order on the aliens is trivial when compared to some of the things he has done; however, it is just one more example of his disdain for the rule of law.

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    6. Well, sure, the Senate ratified the Treaty, After the Fact.

      From Wiki:

      On Saturday, April 30, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty was signed by Robert Livingston, James Monroe, and Barbé Marbois in Paris. Jefferson announced the treaty to the American people on July 4. After the signing of the Louisiana Purchase agreement in 1803, Livingston made this famous statement, "We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our whole lives...From this day the United States take their place among the powers of the first rank."[19]

      The United States Senate ratified the treaty with a vote of twenty-four to seven on October 20.

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    7. .

      You take an issue where the constitutionality of that issue (the purchase of land) was in question. Did the US have the right to purchase land since it wasn't specifically written into the Constitution? There were arguments on both sides.

      But then you try to equate that debate with actions by the executive that abrogate rights 'specifically' written into the Constitution or that ignore laws written by Congress.

      Doesn't make sense to me.

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    8. .
      .

      By the way, aren't most treaties approved after the fact?

      Kyoto and Salt II come to mind. Treaties can be signed but not ratified.

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    9. Yeah, your point is well-taken. Treaties Are ratified "after the fact."

      However, is a "purchase" a treaty? Or, did they just call it a treaty, so they could legitimize an action that virtually everyone thought was probably illegal.

      Anyway, 's politics. Rubio Was/Is going to present a very similar bill, And it Is going to pass. The pubs are just pissed that Obama preempted them.

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    10. .

      Louisiana Purchase


      The Louisiana Purchase is considered the greatest real estate deal in history. The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France at a price of $15 million, or approximately four cents an acre. The ratification of the Louisiana Purchase treaty by the Senate on October 20, 1803, doubled the size of the United States and opened up the continent to its westward expansion.



      http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Louisiana.html


      Treaty with France for the Cession of Louisiana, Concluded at Paris, April 30, 1803; Ratification Advised by Senate, October 20, 1803; Ratified by President October 21, 1803; Ratifications Exchanged at Washington October 21, 1803; Proclaimed October 21, 1803

      Treaty with France


      The Louisiana Purchase Agreement is made up of the Treaty of Cession and the two conventions regarding the financial aspects of the transaction.

      Louisiana Purchase

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    11. .

      Anyway, 's politics. Rubio Was/Is going to present a very similar bill, And it Is going to pass. The pubs are just pissed that Obama preempted them.

      Exactly my point, at least, with this particular executive order. Rather than wait for the process to evolve through legal means, Obama takes it upon himself to skirt or ignore existing law for political gain.

      Admittedly, the GOP is upset for the reasons you state. They could care less about the legality of the move, only it's politics. But as I said before, who gives a shit about the GOP? They are all dicks.

      But we all should be concerned about the direction Obama is moving with regard to the law, and not for political reasons.

      .

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  22. And, somehow, Deuce, I find it doubtful that the problems in Philly are caused by "College Graduates, and/or those "Honorably Discharged from the Military."

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    1. Really, so if you break the law and don’t get caught and arrested you should get a free pass because you join the military?

      Jose heists Ford 150s and sends them to chop shops in Mexico City. He decides to joins the US Army and uses his car skills and serves four years in the motor pool and comes out as a corporal. He should be exonerated from breaking US law? Do we have laws al a carte? Pick the ones you choose to follow?

      Entry to the US without documents and a visa is a criminal offense as it is in most other countries in the World.

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    2. Yeah, but Deuce, what I've read so far, it covers those who were "brought over" when they were "young," and had not picked up a criminal record.

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  23. No, el Norte is where every thug and criminal fleeing from the law heads for from Mexico and Central America.

    Why?

    They achieve instant anonymity the second they cross that border.

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    1. But, those aren't the ones covered by Obama's ploy, are they?

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    2. Who knows? They are here without ever having been subjected to a background check?

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  24. The video by the professor and the article by Kissinger is a 15 minute education on one of the fundamental thinkers of modern western civilization.

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    1. It seems like I spent a lifetime listening to that pompous asshole, and no good seemed to come of it. I'll pass.

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    2. Hear, hear...


      b

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  25. Ironically, Kissinger’s paper is titled “The Limits of Universalism."

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  26. Rufus, If there weren't straw men in your life, I'm guessing there would be very few men at all.

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    1. You're right; I Have always, more or less, gravitated toward the "ladies." :)

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  27. You guys might as well save your wailing, and gnashing of teeth for the first of July (when O'Whammie announces another 30 Million Barrel Drawdown from the "Strategic" Reserves.)

    If he can get the Euros to do thirty, also, he might be able to drive the price of gasoline down to close to $3.00 by election day.

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    1. I guess it's just in my genes to pull for the underdog. :)

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    2. undermutt. (in his own words)

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    3. Romney, private equity, and Exxon don' need no help from Rufus.

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  28. The White House is enormously concerned about a European implosion damaging the fragile U.S. economy and taking President Barack Obama’s reelection chances with it.”

    Germany, an export-based economy, has operated with a currency whose value is perennially 30% below the value the Deutschmark would have if the Euro did not exist, all because they are hitched to the PIIGS in a symbiotic relationship. The PIIGS borrow from German banks at low rates, and use the money to buy German cars. That happy arrangement is about to end, and there will be ramifications for America. The dent in the export market to Europe will shave at least a third of a percentage point off the US GDP, and right now we're growing at just under two. That is precisely why Obama is begging them to kick the can down the road once again, for just six more months. Thus democracy always fails, because the policy time horizon is always just out to the next election, while international problems operate on a longer time scale.

    But I'm Taoist, so I'm always looking at the counterforces in play. The collapse of the Euro will restore the US dollar to its status as the world's sole universal reserve currency. It's called the flight to quality. All that disappearing wealth in Europe will be parked in the form of dead presidents. With the sudden demand for the US dollar as a store of wealth, and the loss of demand from European manufacturers, oil will drop below $50 a barrel, and gasoline will fall to the $2 a gallon range.

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    1. The problem might be "getting ahold of the Two Bucks." :)

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  29. Obama selectively enforces the immigration law, fine, but he sets a precedent. Romney can selectively enforce the ObamaCare fines. Works both ways, Dems.

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  30. jenny: Unfortunately, this is increasingly a description of current government as a whole, because so many of our federal elites such as Obama, come from the Ivy schools, and the Ivy schools have long surrendered to Theory....

    Isn't this a perfect description of the Executive Branch under Obama?

    And Nixon, LBJ, and more recently, GW Bush (Cheney's controversial conduct of the Iraq War.)

    Speaking for this country alone, the "they're all dicks" argument, while compelling and quite possibly more true than not, when fine-tuned for more resolution, suggests that process is the entity being squeezed - and "the dicks" are giving it a good hard go.

    I have a question for the Victor Davis Hansen historians out there: is Greece a failure of socialism or a failure of modern (maybe not so modern) western corruption? A failure of the former type would have required considerably more (Grim and Determined) effort and energy to organize the proletariat into work groups, schedule motivational instruction, generate the written propaganda, etc.; while a failure of the second type generally requires little more than the banal and all too common disinterest in anything other than the properly stuffed envelopes. I'm not at all convinced that Greece ever rose to the level of a serious socialist sovereign state but I expect my thinking will be corrected if I have stumbled upon the wrong explanation.

    He predicted the rise of a Napoleon, too:...

    The question for us is, what will we get after Barack Obama?

    An aristocracy of Crazy G-ys?

    I can't get on board with the Obama bashing. If I were compelled to explain the absence of outrage, Bush/Cheney and the banker fraud are too recent in my memory to launch a Burkean offensive against the modern equivalent of Napoleon/Balthazar/Satan.

    But I can and will agree that the time is ripe for a nut case to step up. Obama is not the wacko-in-disguise who destroys western civilization, but this country needs to be careful. Obama's biggest legacy, potentially (it ain't over till the skinny guy croons), is that the ultimate success/failure of his administration will retard the inflow of new people into Washington and/or will extend the length of the "indoctrination-by-envelope" in which case, nothing changes.

    I have cautioned before that the process of "recycling" Washingtonians will not be pretty. Standing up to corruption (massive corruption) never is. Let us at least keep socialism in its proper place. Truth of the matter is, USA is probably more socialist, in the purest sense of the concept, than Greece could ever imagine being. Which sovereign has a future?

    .....

    In the tennis match between the money-changers and the governors, the money-changers are ahead. The political "sins" of Obama do not yet rise to that level. (Holder should probably go.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps the most encouraging development, so far, is that the Republicans, after wading through all the crazies, did choose the one sane man in the field. This was, actually, no small feat, and does give one cause for, at least "guarded," optimism.

      Delete
  31. Greece is probably a bit more "socialist" than the U.S., but it is one hell of a lot more "Corrupt."

    When Income taxation, not to mention VAT, and other assorted taxations, reaches down into the E5,000.00 class, but excludes the Aristotle, Niarchos class, you got one corrupt sumbitch.

    ReplyDelete
  32. An attempt to operate on principles of power alone will prove unsustainable. But an attempt to promote values without an account for culture and nuance—as well as other intangibles of circumstance and chance—will end in disillusionment and abdication.

    At face value, that paragraph seems like a pretty clear restatement of the liberal/progressive commitment to rebalancing the DIME approach to foreign policy to include more diplomacy, intelligence and economic aid - and less military.

    That second sentence cannot be particularly good news for Israel.

    I'm all for nuance. I just wish there were more of it in the ME.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Morglay (long for Mo)Sat Jun 16, 10:51:00 AM EDT

    What to do about Illegal Immigration is the great Civil Rights issue of our day. But not in the way you think. Stopping Illegal Immigration and rolling it back is about protecting an American’s right to work without fear of being replaced by Illegal Workers ON THEIR OWN SOIL.

    According to the Pew Center the jobs where Illegal Immigrant Workers are most prevalent in the USA are Farming, Construction, Transportation and Material Moving, Food Service, and Cleaning. That is also where unemployment is highest for us Americans. By their very definition these jobs are and always will be American Jobs. NONE can be outsourced. Try out-sourcing the construction of buildings to China. Buildings are hard to air or ocean ship once they are built. Try harvesting American crops, mining American ore, preparing American food, cleaning American buildings, or moving goods in America with workers living in China or India or Mexico. It cannot be done.

    From 1979 when there were few Illegal Immigrants in the USA to pre-Recession 2006 when there were many, real wages for Construction Workers fell 11%, for Material Moving Workers real pay fell 13%, Meat Worker pay has fallen 22%, and Farm Labor Workers now earn less than Parking Lot Attendants. Why no tears for these impoverished Americans? Why no campaign to end this injustice? Why denigrate Americans who are just defending their right to work without fear?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brilliant, it could get a lot of dummies to vote but does Romney have the eloquence to articulate it and the fortitude to say?

      Delete
    2. Why no ... why no ... why no? outrage when Marco Rubio declared his support for immigration reform?

      ************

      WASHINGTON — It's one of the most hyped bills on Capitol Hill, and it doesn't even exist.

      Three months after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio revealed he was working on an alternative to the Dream Act, triggering a gusher of positive news coverage, he has yet to produce a written proposal.

      The delay is raising expectations but also underscores the political challenge facing the Florida Republican and could elevate cynicism that it is an election-year effort to win Hispanic votes. What is certain is time is running out to do something this year, a reality Rubio acknowledged Wednesday.

      "He gets all this sweet press and we haven't seen word one. It is getting a little frustrating," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, an immigration reform group that has been receptive to the idea, which would grant legal status to some children of illegal immigrants.

      "I don't doubt his sincerity," said Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum, "but the benchmark here is legislation. It would be good to see what kind of support he has."

      *****************

      LINK

      Delete
  34. Recent visitors to the EB

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Minnesota?!?!? Boy, you are "reaching out there," eh?

      :)

      Delete
  35. I should have said USA is more "successful" at the socialist part (40% of the elderly would be below poverty level without SS etc.)

    Emphasis on socialist "part."

    USA had achieved a near miraculous balance between private capitalist-based enterprise and social welfare - until the century clock rolled over and all hell seemed to break loose, with specific events (2001, 2008) and trend lines (flattened personal wages began around 2000.)

    It is very unpopular to state, but the federal government has a socialist component. It is now part of the fabric of government.

    It is equally unpopular to state that it wasn't the "godless teat-sucking socialists" that brought USA to its current Place.

    That particular narrative is lacking in nuance, Burkean or otherwise.

    USA is not Greece.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Sorry Rufus - that was in response to your comment upthread.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, Max, we're not Greece. We still make our wealthiest pay a little something. (usually.)

      Delete
    2. You know, Max, most very wealthy people, will look you in the eyes, after their third, or fourth, beer, and say, "I got really, really lucky. Don't get me wrong; I worked my ass off. But I caught a couple of sweet breaks along the way."

      The U.S. is kinda like that.

      Delete
    3. :)

      Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

      But several rungs lower down the ladder, among the moderately well off, a whole lot of it was inherited, small businesses handed down to junior or the son-in-law.

      Mobility is key. Financial reform and tax reform will free it up enough. The rest is campaign hoohah.

      Why no...why no...why no... outrage at the considerably more damage done by Wall St to the laborer whose net worth was tied up in his property? I have little patience for the equity arguments at the level of Washington or even state government (although I do think it has a place a lower levels in municipal and regional). Man has the ability to keep his books straight but justice is a different beast.

      Delete
    4. You like to play with "alternative history?"

      A boat-load of super bonus points to the one that can answer the question, "What if the horse hadn't heard the bugle (or cared?)"

      Hint: Think Theodore Roosevelt/Cuba

      Delete
    5. I have no clue Rufus. I admit to being ignorant of much of history.

      But I do confess to wondering the why and what-if of those 20 (30?) attempts on Hitler's life. A lot of Germans were not fooled by this imposter.

      Obama is no Hitler. Nor was GWB, but as Deuce implied above, neither has or had the depth of vision to navigate rapidly shifting and unpredictable events that are broadly international in scope. (Although I see we are keeping an eye on Africa.)

      As *I* have written before, I see it not so much as failure of the individuals at the top of the tickets as I do the more heavily populated apparatus comprising the political party infrastructure. Better I think (not completely sure) that the vision and direction derive from the broad-based consensus at the Party level, rather than a single individual, which, you know, is an open-mike season for Crazy G-ys.

      May have to endure a few seasons of political karaoke before the choirs learn how to harmonize.

      Delete
    6. Anyway that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

      My ankle is all twisted up so I am immobile for a day or two.

      Plenty of time to deep a really deep hole. Or four.

      :)

      Delete
  37. Wealth is not having more than other people, it's not having other people. Luck is being born that way. That's why this place was wonderful for awhile. Now we got every kind of goose giddying around here you can believe. That's why writers like Burke are useless. The game is over before it's begun, if you got to think about how to improve things. That's why places like Philadelphia, Detroit etal are hopeless shitholes. And always will be. Anyone with half a brain would get out of Philadelphia, the only option to improve the place being to leave.

    Can you follow those dots, Deuce?

    b

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No Bob, I defer to your dottiness, an area where you clearly outperform.

      Delete
  38. Reading Burke and reading Marx are equally a waste of time. Both are analyzing a game already lost. Deuce, for all his limo, maid, driver, residential compound and the continued required effort to keep up appearances is the poorest one here, while Sam is by far the richest. The book money is much better spent reading books that tell of another world altogether, or, best, a road map atlas, where you can find that wonderful place where the road ends.

    Just an alternative point of view....

    b

    ReplyDelete
  39. Replies
    1. I don't feel like viewing pornography this morning.

      b

      Delete
  40. 14,000 people is too many people. That's why I'm in the business of selling out, if not for me, then for mine. Have another church as a possible. One Deuce might like.

    Wilson's most controversial work is probably his pamphlet Southern Slavery, As It Was (ISBN 1-885767-17-X), which he wrote along with League of the South co-founder and fellow Christian minister Steve Wilkins. The pamphlet stated that "slavery produced in the South a genuine affection between the races that we believe we can say has never existed in any nation before the War or since." Historians such as Peter H. Wood, Clayborne Carson, and Bancroft Prize winner Ira Berlin condemned the pamphlet's arguments, with Wood calling them as spurious as holocaust denial.[9]

    Damn Lincoln.

    Here is the head scamp --

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Wilson_%28theologian%29

    I don't intend to argue with these people. I want the collection plate.

    My other possible church, Real Life, bagged out, in favor of one of their members who has a site.

    All these people are bonkers. But there is no use arguing with them. You might as well argue with Reverend Wright. They got the keys to heaven you know.

    And if you've got marital or family problems the answer too is well at hand -

    Wilson and his wife have also written a number of books on family issues based on their understanding of the Bible, including Reforming Marriage (ISBN 1-885767-45-5), Federal Husband (ISBN 1-885767-51-X), Her Hand in Marriage (on biblical courtship; ISBN 1-885767-26-9), Standing on the Promises: A Handbook of Biblical Childrearing (ISBN 1-885767-25-0), and Future Men (ISBN 1-885767-83-8).

    All you need to be an elder is this church is have no brain, and have testicles.

    Trying to change these people is like trying to change Philadelphia, Detroit, France or England, or Egypt.

    Montana, or middle Nevada, or if I were younger, Australia is calling.

    May God regrow the trees that were slaughtered for the paper to print Marx and Burke.

    b

    ReplyDelete
  41. Fuckin AA: Stating "X" is not supporting "X".

    There must be a specific name for that logic error besides shooting the messenger.

    May God regrow the trees that were slaughtered for the paper to print Marx and Burke.

    Sounds like somebody longing for a King to administer justice with wisdom and discretion available to the chosen few.

    May God forgive the millions of people who followed the ideas of Marx and Lenin to their hate-filled end-game.

    I have an update to the thought experiment about the Google-Caboose (from Marginal Revolution.)

    Suppose instead there is one track foe each of the EB patrons trussed up and ready to go. What are there - five of you (put me on one if you like although I will not be here much longer)? The sixth track contains the five bodies from the original experiment but let's be more specific - one is a politician, one is a money-changer, one is a lobbyist, one is a solar panel producer, and one is a already dead white guy who practiced political philosophy.

    And a seventh track - with no bound bodies but heading straight off a [--] cliff (of your choice.)

    ??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Google-Trolley Problem

      Basically how to distribute scarce resources among a large population (ala Dick Lamm and his famous "Duty to Die" speech.)

      Or you can just call Hole No. 1

      The day is young ::))

      Delete
  42. The Karl Marx Credit Card

    “What’s in YOUR wallet? Seriously, though, I need to see your papers. Now.”

    ReplyDelete
  43. I see. The answer is to turn around, and run like hell, because if you so much as think about touching any levers you're going to get your ass sued to the point that you'll wish You were on the track. :)

    ReplyDelete
  44. “There is a depression in the Greek people, in all my friends,” said Giorgos, who has put off plans to open a frozen yogurt shop. “They keep saying: ‘I can’t take it. There’s depression about our jobs, depression on the news, depression about the economic situation, depression in our family, depression and fighting among friends.’ ”

    .....

    A clerk said books on economics and do-it-yourself guides were selling briskly, as were escapist thrillers and philosophy, especially works by Arthur Schopenhauer, known for his pessimism and his conviction that human experience is not rational or understandable.

    .....

    As elections near, the country is becoming more politically polarized between left and right. Since last week, Greece has been abuzz with talk of how Ilias Kasidiaris, the spokesman for the neo-Nazi, anti-immigrant Golden Dawn party, physically assaulted two left-wing lawmakers, both women, on live television, tossing water in one’s face and giving the other a series of solid swats to the face.

    LINK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Despite all the propaganda . . . . er, news reporting about the Roosevelt fella, and his "Rough Riders, when the ship arrived in Cuba there were only Two, count'em "two," horses on board.

      For some technical reason that I've long ago forgotten, they couldn't discharge the horses directly onto the dock, but, instead, had to lower them over the side, and let them swim to shore. What could go wrong, right?

      Well, since you asked, the first horse injured himself, and promptly drowned. The second horse, Teddy's last chance to "roughride," started swimming out to sea (where he would most assuredly have drowned.)

      Here entereth the bugler that changed history (big time.) The Company Horn Blower saw the horse swimming out into the breakers, and promptly spun around, ran over to the pile of company supplies, grabbed his bugle, and started blowing "retreat." The horse, though waterlogged, could still hear, and being a well-trained cavalry horse, turned and swam back into shore.

      As a result, Teddy Roosevelt was able to get his photograph taken, and splashed on Front Pages, and Magazines, Nationwide "leading the charge up San Juan Hill astride his trusty steed" (while his men of course, crawled, slid, trudged, limped up the hill "horsie-less.)

      Of course, any man that could cut such a Heroic Figure had to be elected President (which, no doubt, paved the way for FDR in '32.

      How would history have unfolded without the two Roosevelt Presidencies?

      Delete
    2. I think (I know) I'm overdoing the smiley faces on this thread but that's a good story.

      The only break (and it's a pretty good Grand Canyon sized break) that I extend to the conservative (anti-"godless teat-sucking socialists") crowd is that blood and treasure sacrifice required to turn back that historically evil tide of the twentieth century.

      The world must "never forget" not just the Jewish holocaust, but the holocaust of sacrifice that few of the war veterans even spoke about.

      It wouldn't have lasted. The one thing I know about our species is the deep "live free or die" instinct in all of us. Without it, nothing will endure.

      Delete
  45. The imagery possibly too graphic to represent the more subdued concept of sacrifice. But the long and short of it explains the current Washington gridlock. Nobody wants to pull the middle class lever, which, as I read thing, is the only way out.

    My point is, OK, but I would like to see the banks (and the markets) properly regulated (again.) Throw in some tax reform and we have the beginning of a plan.

    ReplyDelete
  46. There is, definitely, a time for both idealogies. You can't marry either side "till death do ye part."

    ReplyDelete
  47. Theory vs Practice.

    In theory, the Obama administration is encroaching upon constitutional limitations to executive power by setting policy guidelines that provide a pathway to citizenship for under one million of the estimated 12 million (to 20 million) Mexican illegals working in-country.

    In practice, the Koch brothers have accumulated around a $200 million "war chest" (within striking distance of their $395 million goal) to "defeat" Obama in November for the purpose of ... having Republicans in charge of the pending entitlement and tax reform legislation, (and possibly additional finance reform legislation which needs some careful shepherding along the "first do no harm" lines), that will remove how many Americans from SS and Medicare in order to avoid the 'fiscal cliff' of a federal budget bled dry by military "adventurism" and Wall St "hooliganism"?

    ReplyDelete
  48. Looks to me like SS and Medicare are a sad joke following a lifelong yoke.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Much as it pains me to admit, I'm going to have to agree with Quirk that engagement in debate requires a unique handle. Identify yourself, my man or woman, and speak up.

    ReplyDelete
  50. It's unclear who the "stage four" zealots will be in the Egyptian context, though some kind of militarized religious force seems probable. Indeed, the Salafists and other more extreme religious groups are conspicuously absent from the current clash of the mainstream factions -- particularly considering their astonishing election performance that gave them 25 percent of parliament.. Their silence, like that of France's Jacobins or Russia's Bolsheviks, is telling. They are, quite obviously, patiently awaiting the weakening of the military and the mosque, which are just now in the process of weakening each other -- as the contending moderate parties in revolutionary France and Russia weakened each other -- paving the way for the extremists.

    See here -

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/15/the_five_stages_of_egypt_s_revolution?page=full

    Old old story.

    All you really need to know about Egypt is there's not a trout stream in it.

    I notice the tourism industry 'has collapsed'.

    b

    ReplyDelete
  51. " Halt! Who goes there? Identify yourself! - You're not my commentator without proper documentation!" - Steelio

    Act III, Scene III

    The Lamentable Tragic Farce of bar Elephanso


    b

    ReplyDelete
  52. My hunch is that this is an article that Deuce and Rufus and others too including me probably would agree with -

    http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/lincoln-brigade-Syria-7054

    If you want to intervene in Syria, create a fighting brigade of your own in good American fashion, give it a nifty name or name it after yourself, and have at it.




    b

    ReplyDelete
  53. Here's someone to get enthused about -

    http://hotair.com/archives/2012/06/16/quotes-of-the-day-1059/

    Sarah speaks -

    Would be wonderful if we had her running instead of Romney.

    b

    ReplyDelete