"During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world."-- Natan Sharansky, "The Case for Democracy"

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September 23, 2016

All Hail Taranto!

I shared the übersmug Joss Whedon "Important" PSA on Facebook. Tsk, tsk...

James piles on:

September 21, 2016

Trump is a WHAT?

A political revolution is an inspiring, yet disorienting, thing to live through. It is a powerful force that creates all sort of unpredictable events, like a former Republican POTUS planning to vote for a Democrat successor, rather than the nominee of his own party, or yours truly quoting Piers Morgan:

Hillary Clinton, as she normally does, tried to be all calm and collected.

This is not a war against Islam, she insisted. We can't blame all Muslims for what's happened, she declared.

She's right, it's not and we can't.

But what neither she nor Obama offers the American people is any kind of plan to combat such attacks.

They talk of how awful it all is, but studiously avoid advocating any real action for fear of upsetting or offending people.

The President doesn't even like using the phrase 'Islamic terrorism', which is utterly absurd given that's plainly what it is.

In the face of such apparently weak, insipid, mealy-mouthed and frankly meaningless rhetoric, it's hardly surprising that Trump emerges as a non-PC, no-nonsense voice of reason to many Americans.

His anger is THEIR anger.

It's real.

I've been down to places like Florida and Texas recently and heard with my own ears many people ranting about the abject failure of their government to tackle ISIS.

In Trump, they see someone at least prepared to say the unsayable, even if it ruffles a few feathers.

Just another reactionary loon, that Piers Morgan. As is anyone who would conclude, or even suggest, that Trump has become "a non-PC, no-nonsense voice of reason to many Americans."

But johngalt thinks:

For readers whom "voice of reason" doesn't get the job done as a description of Donald Trump, what follows might be more to which you're accustomed (and, by now, comfortably assume to be true):

Donald Trump's a monster.

A vile, hideous, bigoted, nasty, ignorant, deluded, psychotic, ruthless, preposterous, demented buffoon on a collision course to steal the White House and destroy the planet.

Oh, and he's a sexist, racist, homophobic, misogynist pig too, and every other word ending in '–ist' you can think of for that matter.

Actually he's even worse than that; in fact, Trump's the new Hitler – a man who, you may recall, ordered the slaughter of six million Jews.

I know all this because I've been reading those exact descriptions about Trump for weeks in the US media, from a whole phalanx of intelligent, experienced journalists, broadcasters, politicians and pundits.

That from the same Piers Morgan piece. You're welcome.

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2016 5:56 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Heh, that's the Clinton News Network chiming in with what they term "news" eh? don't buy it!

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 22, 2016 11:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not just CNN, nb, but "a whole phalanx of intelligent, experience3d, journalists, broadcasters, politicians and pundits."

And they MUST be right - they're on the TEE VEE.

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2016 4:09 PM

September 19, 2016

All Hail Taranto!


Too Close to Home

Well, it is the Western Slope, so this is not geographically close. But it is Colorado where this insidious den of iniquity is located:


I mean -- look at that dilapidated crackhouse! Why they clearly have not applied their late-summer feeding to the lawn yet -- and it's freaking September!

I irritated my blog brothers with multiple posts of SWAT raids where great damage and terror were done, but little or no drugs were found. The parents and children of this lovely home were woken at 5:30 AM by 15-20 armed officers crashing into their home.

"As is standard protocol when probable cause has been developed that illegal or dangerous activity is occurring, and armed with the signed search warrant, officers forced entry into the home, using a breaching tool," the press release says. "During entry into the residence, several windows of the home were broken." Fortunately, the cops did not toss any flashbangs while entering the house, but they terrified the occupants, who included five children ranging in age from 3 to 12. "Ultimately," the cops say, "officers contacted the residents inside the address, and determined that they were not the suspects that officers were looking for."

The phrase "contacted the residents" is an anodyne description of a much scarier reality. "Waking up to guns in my face, I consider that the beginning," the father of the family, Sean Armas, told KJCT, the ABC station in Grand Junction. "That's how it was, all my kids had guns on them. It was out of line....It's a dangerous situation they put my family in, and for my kids, it just keeps playing through their minds."

Five kids terrorized -- mistakenly -- in a well groomed suburban home on a "tip from an informant." How would you feel if those were your kids?

September 18, 2016

What's the Word? Johannesburg!

Look who just elected a Libertarian mayor.

Herman Mashaba is a millionaire tycoon, an ideological libertarian and self-proclaimed "capitalist crusader" who lectures his listeners about the evils of big government and minimum wage.

He is also, shockingly, the newly elected mayor of South Africa's biggest city. That's a revolutionary phenomenon in a nation dominated for 22 years by a left-wing ruling party, whose cabinet ministers tend to be communists and union leaders.

Less than a month after winning office as Johannesburg's mayor, Mr. Mashaba is already energetically putting his free-market ideas into action. He is distributing thousands of title deeds to impoverished residents, trying to create a new class of landowners. He is plotting with private developers to turn the city into a vast construction site, and he is pledging to use small businesses to slash the unemployment rate.

But johngalt thinks:


The DA supports a minimum wage, for example, while Mr. Mashaba scathingly denounces it as "an evil system to deprive poor uneducated people of the opportunity to advance."

His highest value, he says, is "individual freedom." He rails against the "culture of dependency" and excessive regulation in South Africa. "I'm just asking the government to leave us alone," he says.

Mashaba for President! Of the USA!

Seriously though, this is what will ultimately sink him:

He has even cancelled the ANC's plan to create new bicycle lanes, seeing it as a middle-class luxury and preferring to spend the $5-million (U.S.) on housing for poor people.

NOBODY messes with the BIKE lanes.

Posted by: johngalt at September 19, 2016 2:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Uh-huh. You need a Boulder-libertarian-guy who champions heroin legalization and bike lanes.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2016 4:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Except the Boulder-libertarian-guy wouldn't champion capitalism, small government and market wages. At least not consistently.

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2016 4:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I almost forgot - props on the title of this post.

To this day whenever anyone asks me "What's the word?" My reply is "Johannesburg."

Nobody knows what I'm talking about, except you.

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2016 4:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"The revolution will not be televised."

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2016 8:16 PM

A brief history of revolutions - France and USA

The "Le Mis" episode in this year's election is picking up steam, no thanks to the establishment media who seem dead set on burying the story, and burying Trump himself.

From a nice article by Breitbart's James Pinkerton:

Here again we see the difference between the US and France. Through our history, for the most part, the American elite has been willing to accede to reasonable demands, if only to stave off revolution. In other words, the system can work.

Jackson ran for president again in 1828; it was the "revolt of the rustics" - a peaceful revolt. The campaign was bitter: It's fair to say that the Eastern elite of that era were as horrified by Jackson as the Eastern elite of our time are horrified by Trump. Indeed, hard as it might be to believe, the elite were more appalled by the insurgent Jackson back then; in the widely circulated coffin handbills, he was accused of everything from adultery to mass murder to cannibalism.

Yet despite all this establishment vitriol, Jackson won in a landslide, and the first political era of America, a time of aristocratic leadership, was ended. Indeed, in many ways, our modern political system - that is, two-party politics, with the winner needing the mass-mobilization of the electorate to win - originates from 1828.

And though the first aristocratic era of America came to an end, a second aristocratic era - that is, two-party politics - ultimately rose to replace it. Now, Trump has executed an unlikely hostile takeover of one of the two parties, and the aristocrats are nervous.

But jk thinks:

We're embracing Jackson Now? Root node of the Democrats, perpetuator of slavery, villain of the trail of tears? Founding architect of Executive overreach?

I think he was right n the bank, and I'll applaud his heroism in the War of 1812. But this shows to what extent Republicans will disavow all the party has stood for. Still waiting for the tribute to Bull Connor.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2016 1:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I read it not at all embracing Jackson, but an historical warning to the aristocrats of our age. Too much imposition of your will upon the people, the economy, the law, can result in a populist rebellion featuring a chief executive who you find horrifying.

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2016 6:56 PM
But jk thinks:

Fair. But I searched in vain for some text -- even a small disclaimer -- suggesting that Trump might actually be Jacksonesque. And that is exactly what some of his GOP detractors fear.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2016 9:49 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the reason it doesn't matter if Trump has big government or executive abuse tendencies is that all of his pedigreed predecessors had those failings too - even the ones we were promised would not have them.

The nature of revolution is that the leader is rarely a font of restraint. Democrat and Republican co-(mis)rule has brought us to this moment.

Posted by: johngalt at September 19, 2016 2:51 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm sentimental. I miss being lied to.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2016 5:51 PM

Review Corner

Thucydides understood that a realist theory of international relations, a theory narrowly grounded in power, did not describe the world in which he lived. Thucydides had seen that states' histories were often more powerful drivers of their actions than was their power. He had seen prickly pride make states strive beyond their strength and exhaust themselves with little regard for its limits. He had seen that not only the power of a foe but the spirit, too, had to be conquered. He had seen that states and men often acted on the basis of wrath and revenge rather than sober calculation.-- J. E. Lendon Song of Wrath: The Peloponnesian War Begins
The most pertinent and germane question I have yet heard on the study of the Peloponnesian War comes from my sister. I described my enthusiasm for my upcoming study group and reread of Thucydides' classic Peloponnesian War. She replied "Why would anyone read that?" (This from the person who taught me to read, as baby brother was chosen to play "pupil" in the school of her friends.)

I was drawn to it knowing that many of my heroes would have read it. There were likely few men ratifying the Constitution who would fail to recognize an allusion to Pericles' Funeral Oration. More modern readers are likely drawn by War games and Strategy (this encompasses the rest of the readers in my upcoming group). It's perhaps the earliest extant history of statecraft and tactics.

Part of Thucydides' purpose in writing was, after all, to arm his reader with useful know-how, in case some later student of great affairs found himself in a similar situation. Here, then, is what to do if surrounded by barbarians at the extremity of the world:

Form a square, give a good speech... Did I mention that strategy was really not my thing?

The non-strategic reader can become a bit nonplussed. There's a paucity of political philosophy. The Athenian Democracy is compared to the grim totalitarianism of Sparta and her grim allies. The Lacedaemonian contributions to modern language include spartan and laconic.

The Spartan authorities had expected their men to behave like Achilles, to choose a noble death. But Spartans had not brought up their sons to act like Achilles; they had brought them up to obey orders. Never does the strange contradiction at the heart of Spartan society show so clearly as here: Spartans were expected to live the Iliad, but an Iliad set in totalitarian Sparta.
Yet choosing whose cause to champion is more difficult than picking between the Fascists and Communists in the Spanish Civil War -- or even Trump and Clinton in 2016.
The kindly terms [Brasidas] had given at Amphipolis urged along this movement, as did the earnestness of his proclamations that he had come to free the Greeks from empire rather than simply to replace Athenian rule with Spartan. For he pledged to leave the constitutional arrangements of the rebels unchanged and to impose no garrisons or governors. After a seven-year pregnancy, Sparta seemed finally to have brought to birth a son who was in earnest about freeing the Greeks from Athens, the slogan under which Sparta had gone to war in 431 BC and that had brought Sparta such goodwill at war's beginning.

As I read it, it pretty well sucks to be under either system. This could be more economic than libertarian. These were modern humans with language, tools, art, and trade. But millennia separate them from the Industrial Revolution and Deirdre McCloskey's 'Great Fact.' Human life has little value. There is little opportunity cost to joining the Athenian Navy as a rower. Your farm will just be burned down by Peloponnesians anyway.

Lendon's book explains a lot. Covering only the first ten of the 37-year conflict, he fleshes out Thucydides' descriptions and chronologies, but he also provides modern context, describing the conflict as one of establishing rank. The epilogue even concludes Thucydides' "evolving" as described in the opening quote.

And, although the attractive characters in Thucydides (men like Pericles of Athens and Archidamus of Sparta) are usually not made to speak in the language of power but are, rather, allowed to speak in the language of conventional Greek ethics, Thucydides briefly has Pericles himself profess a mild, fatalistic realism. "Your empire," Pericles says to the Athenians, in the phrase that Thucydides deftly turns to poison in Cleon's mouth, "is, to speak somewhat plainly, like a tyranny. To take it perhaps was wrong, but to let it go is unsafe."

Lendon's theory is that the struggle was to establish rank -- first that of parity with Sparta after their alliance defeated Persia, but then after success in battle and statecraft, seeking Athenian superiority.
In an ideal Greek war, the total amount of honor in the system was conserved, and the winner of a hoplite battle gained the same amount of honor as the loser lost. But the Ten Years' War had not worked like that; much honor had been lost and little gained. In the eyes of the other Greeks, the same defeats that had reduced both Athens and Sparta to a mutual willingness to accept equality had also driven down the rank of both in comparison to that great, proud, well-rested power that had sat out the war: Argos.

I'm looking forward to a denser trip through Thucydides. "Song of Wrath" was an accessible and beautifully written super-commentary which could be enjoyed on its own.

Five stars.

September 17, 2016

Do you hear the people sing?

In yesterday's 'Les Deplorables' post the "soundtrack" I linked was one I chose. I hadn't read far enough into the article (the second sentence, as it turned out) to learn that it was the same song the Trump campaign selected.

He took the stage, introduced by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as the 'Les Mis' anthem 'Do You Hear the People Sing' blasted through loudspeakers.

The article includes a brief video of the introduction, but it only captures the end of the intro and the beginning of the speech. I am so moved by the synergy of the spectacle I am left only to attempt a recreation of it myself.

This moment is reminiscent of Barack Obama's "Hope" poster, created by a supporter and then going viral. The 'Les Deplorables' imagery was created by pro-Trump blogger Keln, whose blog post on its creation and adoption features a commenter writing, "You are a genius......the trump movement has its logo."



And here is a nice version created around the video game 'Assassin's Creed.'

Some see the rebellion being against "the rich." It wasn't. It was against the aristocrats. More specifically, the monarchists.

The June Rebellion or the Paris Uprising of 1832 (French: Insurrection rpublicaine Paris en juin 1832), was an anti-monarchist insurrection of Parisian republicans on 5 and 6 June 1832.

Long live liberty.
Long live republicanism.
Long live the Constitutional Republic of the United States of America.

And like Trump and his "Deplorables" the June Rebellion was largely a movement of the working class:

Subsequent identification of rebels revealed that most (66%) were working-class, a high proportion being construction workers. Most others (34%) were shopkeepers or clerks.

September 16, 2016

Les Deplorables



Click here for the soundtrack.

News story here.

Liberté! Fraternité! Trump!

But jk thinks:

Your heart will be warmed to learn that I have joined the Facebook group. A very funny, ribald crew if not the most intellectual. I have the softest spot for people who accept their pejorative names as badges of honor (I once suggest that tea partiers should do the same with "teabaggers," but that was a bridge too far.)

The Deplorables thing has a great deal of energy.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2016 1:21 PM

Email from Sec. Robert Reich

I hope you all are on the MoveOn.org mailing list. But just in case:

Dear MoveOn member,

Five weeks ago, Hillary Clinton was up by 8 points. Now, the race is tied, according to today's The New York Times.

And if that's not enough to worry you, consider that during this time period, Clinton has been outspending Trump on TV ads by a margin of 10-to-1.

This election is going down to the wire, folks. And like all close elections, it will be decided on the ground by volunteers going door to door getting out the vote.

My friends at MoveOn were a crucial part of President Obamas legendary get-out-the-vote successes in 2008 and 2012. And they're hiring 100 organizers to mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers to do it again to beat Trump in 2016. Will you chip in $2.70 now?

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 1:27 PM | What do you think? [0 comments]

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