When The Future Is Forgotten

Most of Europe’s political leaders – almost without exception, among the big ones – have no children.  The list is almost airtight:  Frances’ Emmanuel Macron; Germany’s Angela Merkel, the UK’s  Theresa May,Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon, Italiy’s Paolo Gentiloni, the Netherlands’Mark Rutte, Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel – none have kids.  Sweden’s Stefan Löfven has no bio-kids; the EU’s uber-bureaucrat Jean-Claude Juncker is also “child-free”.

 

And this is significant:

One of the benefits of parenthood is the daily confrontation with free will—a human nature. Parents may have their child’s life, career, and happiness planned out, but a child has other ideas -constantly. Love, patience, teaching, negotiating, scolding—nurture—can help direct the child, but the overwhelming otherness of the child is undeniable. They are not blank slates upon whom the parent exercises his will.

Political leaders without this experience of parenthood may be susceptible to the idea that people are blank-slates, interchangeable units of human capital. As a parent and a teacher, I have seen many brilliant and well-meaning parents and colleagues crash their will and intellect against the rock of a child’s independent nature. Now, scale such a hubristic paternalism to a nation. Or a continent.

Contemporary childless leaders, however ascendant they feel today, may be the last gasp of secularism. The future is won by those who show up, and only the religiously orthodox are having children.

The number of utopians – good and evil (and as opposed to totalitarian gansters, who may talk of utopia but never practice it), from the far left, far right, and the far libertarian fringe – who have eschewed parenthood is also a little daunting.

I know my own approach to politics was a lot more…entitled?  Absolutist?  Based on assumptions that raising kids showed me were unsupportable?   All of those and more, before I had kids.

So now we have the leadership of one of the world’s most powerful blocs of natoins, all governing from the perspective of people who’ve never had to deal with kids?

I think it’s also significant that the leaders of the former Communist countries in Europe – Poland, Hungary (fiive kids!), the Czechs, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria – people who’ve had to deal with genuine cognitive dissonance and the imperfection of institutions in their lifetimes – tend to have kids.

The Ark

I saw this story a few years ago, and put it aside until today – the fortieth anniversary of the dedication of the more unusual Catholic churches in the world, Kosciol Arka Pana in Novy Huta, Poland.

Which is interesting in and of itself; Nowy Huta is a district in Krakow that was built as a “Socialist Realist” experiment, an entire community built from the ground up to reflect the ideals of Stalin-era communism.

Including absolute, suffocating atheism.

Poles are, of course, obstreperously Catholic – so the battle between Socialist Atheism and Faith seesawed across the city.  In 1960, a wooden cross was erected with aa permit, prompting police response; violent demonstrations ensued.  The future pope, then-bishop Karol Wojtyla, who began holding annual outdoor Christmas Eve Masses in Nowy Huta in 1959 – and saw to it that ever time the cops removed the cross, another one replaced it.

It took seven years to secure a permit – and, literally, nothing else.  In a society where all resources were officially allocated by the government – picture a government where everyone is Alondra Cano – they did it all with volunteer labor and scrounged material.

With no outside help it was down to the locals to mix cement with spades, and find the two million stones needed for the church’s facade. The first corner stone was laid in 1969 by Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, who would later assume fame as Pope John Paul II, but the discovery of a WWII ammunition dump delayed work, as some 5,000 mines and shells had to be carefully removed. Finally, on May 15th 1977, the church was consecrated. Built to resemble Noah’s Ark, with a 70 metre mast-shaped crucifix rising from the middle, the church houses an array of curious treasures, including a stone from the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican, a tabernacle containing a fragment of rutile brought back from the moon by the crew of Apollo 11, and a controversial statue of Christ that shows him not on a cross, but about to fly to the heavens. If you think that’s odd, check out the statue dedicated to Our Lady the Armoured – a half metre sculpture made from ten kilograms of shrapnel removed from Polish soldiers wounded at the Battle of Monte Cassino. In the early 1980s, the church became a focal point during anti-communist protests, not least for the shelter it afforded the locals from the militia. Protesting during the period of Martial Law was dangerous business, as proven by the monument dedicated to Bogdan Włosik opposite the church. Włosik was shot in the chest by security services, and later died of his injuries. His death outraged the people, and his funeral was attended by 20,000 mourners. The monument commemorating the site of his death was erected in 1992 and is a tribute to all those who died during this period. As recently as September 2012, Kraków City Council awarded Arka Pana the ‘Cracoviae Merenti’ silver medallion for its significance to the city’s history.

Apropos not much, other than historical interest.

Our Sonafabitch

SCENE:  Mitch Berg is picking through a bin of “Priced To Move” CDs at a “Half Price Books” when Avery LIBRELLE notices him, and slowly tiptoes up on him from behind.

BERG:  Hey, Avery.

LIBRELLE:  Er…OK, Merg, how did you know I was here?

BERG:  (not looking up from the CD bin)  It’s the same expository plot device Mitch always uses for these bits.  Your surprise me at some location where I can’t tactfully get away without dropping a smoke grenade.  So – what can I do for you?

LIBRELLE:  Donald Trump is sucking up to fascists.

BERG:  (Finding a CD of “The River”)  What, again?  Do tell.

LIBRELLE:   He’s invited loose cannon fascist Filipino dictator Rodrigo Duterte to the White House for a meeting

BERG:  (Visibly disinterested)   So?  And he was elected democratically.  He’s not a dictator until he suspends Filipino democracy.

LIBRELLE:   He’s cozying up to fascists.

BERG:  Would you prefer that the Philippines – tens of millions of heavily westernized people, a growing economy, a key military position on the PacRim, and a long time ally of the United States – fall into the Chinese orbit?

LIBRELLE:  But Duiterte is an awful man!

BERG:  He’s a democratically elected leader.  And sometimes you make common cause with awful people to solve more important goals.  Like containing China.

LIBRELLE:  We can’t condone extremists like Duterte!

BERG:  His “extremism” is a matter for the people of his country to ascertain.  And containing Chinese expansionism is for us to do.

LIBRELLE:  You know who Duterte sounds like?

BERG:  Melissa Click?

LIBRELLE:  (Stops, stares, puzzled into space, slowly walks away)

BERG:  See ya.

And SCENE

Escape

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The experts confidently predicting economic collapse after Brexit might want to recalculate, factoring in these savings:

Could be there is more to Brexit that merely escaping immigrant quotas, could be there also are other policies imposed by Brussels that might be rolled back to liberate the Britons.

Like most populist outbreaks, there’s always more to it…

Led Around By Our Emotional Nose

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I’m trying to break down the anti-gun logic, hoping to find a clue how to convince them to see reason.

Should police be allowed to carry guns in public?

Yes, to defend themselves.

Whose life is more valuable: a policeman or a 26-year-old Black woman?

Equal.

Should she be allowed to carry a gun in public?

No, she has no need.  The cop must go into danger, she need not.

What if she lives in North Minneapolis, works as a waitress and walks home after her shift ends at night?

Even if she has a need, she has no training.  She’ll use a gun wrongly.

Suppose she just graduated from the two-year program at Hibbing Community College and aced her POST boards, but has not yet received a job officer so she’s not yet a sworn officer.  She’s as well educated as the law requires to be a police officer.  Should she be allowed to carry a gun?

No, she doesn’t have the practical experience.  She needs to serve a probationary period under the supervision of an experienced officer to learn when and how to use her weapon.

So a person who has the education and the practical training will never use the gun wrongly?

No, even experienced officers still can make mistakes.  But the odds are better they won’t.

Suppose she was a cop but is taking a couple of years off to raise her daughter as a single mother.  She’s fully trained.  Now can she carry a gun in public?

If the answer is still no, then it’s plain the objection is not education or experience or need, the objection is emotional and irrational.

Irrational behavior should not set public policy.

Joe Doakes

And yet it drives half of our body politic almost exclusively, and a majority of the other half on way too many issues.

That train left the station.  Not sure it’ll ever come back.

Rinkeby Dinkeby

SCENE: Mitch BERG is waiting in line at Taqueria Pineda on South Robert Street.  Avery LIBRELLE walks in just after Berg orders.

LIBRELLE:  Merg!

BERG:  Oh.  Hi, Avery.

LIBRELLE:  Trump is such a baffoon.

BERG:  Did you just pronounce it “baffoon”

LIBRELLE:   Yes.  Just like it’s spelled.  Donald Trump is such a fool.

BERG:  Do tell.

LIBRELLE:  He thinks there was a terrorist attack in Sweden.  Sweden!

BERG:   Er, between the mis-speak and the misreport, you could kinda lose the fact that things kind of suck in Sweden, and are getting dodgy all over Europe, these days.

LIBRELLE:   Har di har!  (Turns to counter person)  Hey!  Key-arrow oono burrito vegano!  Capeesh?

BERG:  That’ll work.

And SCENE

Like A Snowball Headed Toward Hell

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Now Sweden is facing societal collapse, crime is out of control and police are quitting their jobs.  This is the entirely predictable result of open borders they refuse to close because to Liberal politicians, Migrant Lives Matter but nobody else’s lives do.

 So who maintains order when the police resign?  I suspect neighborhoods will establish committees of volunteers to maintain vigilance against crime, like  Neighborhood Watch.   But when they learn that watching isn’t enough because the police aren’t coming to take suspects into custody and even if they do, the courts let them right back out again, I suspect some committees will begin to expand their duties to include patrol, apprehension, judge, jury, executioner and solid waste disposal. 

 Joe Doakes 

It’s why the Irish and Italian mobs initially took root in America.  Swedes may be just Swedes, but they’re not stupid.

Ömertä

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The GERMANS are losing control of the streets?  The Italians never had any, the French are too arrogant to want any, but the GERMANS can’t keep people in line?

 Sure, migrants get a pass.  Their Lives Matter.  But if a citizen shot one, you know the entire weight of the government would land on his head.

 This can’t continue.  I suspect the next step will be immigrants stir up enough animosity that local police begin to look the other way as reprisals occur.  The police will shrug and say “We have no witnesses, what can we do?”   Word will get around – stay out of that town, they’ll beat you to death – and migrants will move to Austria, Norway, etc. 

 Joe Doakes

People are mindless, bovine herd animals – until they’re not.

Whither

Today’s the big day for “Brexit” – the referendum on the UK’s exit from the European Union.

We’ll come back to that.


25 years ago, the Soviet Union collapsed (for a while).   The media was confused and befuddled; most of them had bet on the wrong team during the Cold War.

Now, whenever a huge, all-encompassing, not to mention totalitarian, system completely collapses, there will be a certain amount of chaos, as people, not to mention nations, economies and political systems, try to find their feet after a generation or two under a completely different system.   Turning from “Totalitarian Gangster State” to “Social Democracy” – forget “Free Market” for now – isn’t something nations and societies can do with easy grace, any more than Tom Brokaw can do an Olympic Gymnastics routine.

But our mainstream media apparently didn’t know or believe that.  In 1994 – barely two years after the collapse of the Iron Curtain – Poland was in a recession.  Tom Brokaw, on the NBC Evening News, echoing the sentiments of many MSM chin-strokers, gravely intoned “It appears that Poland’s experiment with free markets has failed”.

Two whole years after the Wall fell.

It was wishful thinking from a mainstream media that missed having a constant crisis to cover (not to mention an “enemy” with whom they were so sympathetic).   Poland went on to become one of Europe’s economic success stories. Eastern Europe has had ups and downs – but other than a few crypto-authoritarian splinter states (shut up about Belarus), none of them are pining for a return to Communism.    Quite the opposite.

Statue of Ronald Reagan in Warsaw, Poland – one of many monuments to the greatest leader of the second half of the 20th century that dot the lands he played a pivotal role in freeing.

Anyway, point being this:

  1. American mainstream media and the establishment whose PR firm they largely are forecast gloom and doom with the breakup of the USSR, since it was uncertain, and they had little faith in freedom or the market.
  2. Eastern Europe largely, imperfectly, and with inevitable struggle, succeeded.
  3. Mainstream media ignored the success.

Thus endeth the history lesson.


Today the American mainstream media is predicting various degrees of disaster should the UK pull out of the big, arthritic bureaucratic pseudo-state that is the EU.

Maybe they’re right.

But their record in betting against freedom, autonomy and the market isn’t all that good, unless by “good” you mean “consistent”.

The Army Of Davids. Or Abus.

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Everybody knows David slew Goliath, and that it was an amazing feat because David was a kid and Goliath a giant.  He won using a sling – a child’s weapon. 

 Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, says America needs an army of Davids, ordinary people with ordinary skills to take on extraordinary tasks using their own particular skills. 

 Suppose a fundamentalist Christian preacher in America were to embrace the concept?  Suppose he preached to his congregation: “God has turned His back on America because we have embraced Satan.  The only thing we can do is start over, just like Sodom and Gomorrah.  But we don’t have to wait for God to act, the Lord helps those who help themselves.  Every one of you can play a role in bringing God’s justice to this land, just like David slew Goliath, you can be an Army of Davids.  Do you work for the power company?  Search for a way to disrupt the grid.  Do you work in for the water department?  Search for a way to poison everyone in the city after you massacre the staff at the Christmas party.  Do you have knowledge of firearms?  Kill all the gays in a nightclub. You don’t need to travel overseas to kill sinners, they’re all around you.  You don’t need specialized training, you don’t need financial backing, you don’t need have your plans approved or coordinate your action with anyone else; just do it. The Lord will approve.”

 Suppose impressionable young men and women took him up on it and began to commit random acts of terrorism.  Do you think the Obama administration would find a way to restrict his preaching, limit membership in his church, seize his pamphlets, block his radio transmissions, deny him internet access?

 What if the preacher were a Muslim

 Joe Doakes

It’s simple:  If he’s Christian (and not explicitly “progressive”), he’s the “tip of the iceberg”.

If he’s Muslim, he’s a perverse aberration that reflects nothing

A Matter Of Trust. And Lack Of It.

Representative government requires trust – above all, trust that everyone, king and commoner alike, is equal in the eyes of the law and “the system” – and everyone follows more or less the same rules.

But we’re not doing that anymore.  Marc Rich scammed people, and got pardoned for being a Democrat bigwig; Bill Clinton did things that would have gotten a dozen Republicans like Bob Packwood thrown out of Congress; Hillary’s email server issue alone is vastly bigger than the transgression that destroyed David Petraeus’ career (to say nothing of the passive-aggressive institutional arrogance protecting her).   And Obama?  From nominating a budget chief who owed enough taxes to get a dozen mere middle class mortals jailed, to an Obamacare consultant that tittered like a pajamaboy about lying to the rubes about the costs of the program, to changing the rules and running around the Legislative Branch when Obamacare went up on the rocks, to the lies about the Iran deal, Obama has trampled the rules in a way no citizen ever could ream about.

And as Glenn Reynolds notes in one of his most scathing commentaries ever, that’s a problem, if we care about the kind of society we plan to have:

Being law-abiding for its own sake is a traditional part of bourgeois culture, and our ruling class has lately treated the bourgeoisie with contempt as well. Which raises the risk that this contempt will be returned.

Back in the midst of the financial crisis, Gonzalo Lira looked at how people were responding to the mortgage meltdown and warned of a coming middle-class anarchy. He wrote:

“A terrible sentence, when a law-abiding citizen speaks it: Everybody else is doing it — so why don’t we? … What’s really important is that law-abiding middle-class citizens are deciding that playing by the rules is nothing but a sucker’s game.”

America has been — and, for the moment, remains — a high-trust society. In high-trust societies, people extend trust to strangers and follow rules for the most part even when nobody is watching. In low-trust societies, trust seldom extends beyond close family, and everybody cheats if they can get away with it.

Try life in Romania, Somalia or the Congo if you don’t believe it.  Get back to us on that.

High-trust societies are much nicer places to live than low-trust ones. But a fish rots from the head and the head of our society is looking pretty rotten. As Lira says, “I’m likeWayne Gretsky: I don’t concern myself with where the puck has been — I look for where the puck is going to be.” Where will our society be in a decade if these trends continue? And what can we do to ensure that they don’t?

How long can a society stay free without trust?  It’s not like trust goes underground or anything…

All About The Kids

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

This guy will use any stick to beat his favorite horses so I’m not endorsing his analysis.  The rise in births to unmarried mothers could be due to some other factor – unpopularity of shotgun marriages, for instance.

 But his claims that mixed race children grow up without fathers, and without paternal support, are interesting as they tie to other factors.  Children raised by single mothers are more likely to live in poverty.  Boys having no positive male role model more easily slip into violence and crime.

 It’s worth asking if the rise in illegitimacy might be related to the present furor over Black incarceration rates, police shootings protested by Black Lives Matter, 1,000 people shot (so far) in predominantly Black neighborhoods in Chicago, and Democrats’ collective fantasy that passing more gun laws will solve society’s problems.  Maybe traditional sexual morality restrained more than it appeared; maybe knocking down those barriers let loose more than we anticipated. 

 Oddly, why did unwed childbearing rates drop across the board in the 1990’s?  Newt Gingrich pushed through welfare reform and Clinton signed it in 1996, but the rate took a dive before the effects of the law could have been felt.  Why did women stop having babies out of wedlock, and why did they start up, again?

 Anyway, the charts are interesting. 

 Joe Doakes

The link between unwed parents and poverty is pretty iron-clad.

Lessons

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

European wacko, far-right, fringe party . . . wins 36% of the vote.  The mainstream, sensible, traditional parties couldn’t scrape together enough to get into the runoff election.

 The media keeps using that word: “fringe.”  I don’t think it means what they think it means. 

 This election result is not an accident, this is the beginning of Europeans taking back their governments because of the immigrant crisis.  Next will come fences and deportations.  

 Meanwhile, America frets about bathrooms.

 Joe Doakes

For now, anyway.

For now.

Happy Easter. You’re Dead.

Read this piece, from MPR, about the bombings in Lahore, Pakistan.

Horrific?  Yep.

What’s missing?

The fairly pivotal fact that the the Pakistani Taliban targeted the park because it was a major center for Pakistani Christians celebrating Easter.

To do so would interfere with the narrative that we’re not involved in a battle to the death with a millennarian, eliminationist death cult (and no, I’m not referring to every Muslim, or even a majority).

Show me a charity that seeks to train, and ideally arm, Christians around the world – especially in Nigeria, ISIS territory, and Pakistan – to resist genocide, and I will hold a fund-raiser.

UPDATE:  Let’s put a hotfoot on that charity providing arms and training to Christians in harm’s way.  And, if we can swing it, tanks and jets and napalm.

Stat.

(Hat tip to Kel in the comment section)

Diasporic?

If nothing else, Europe’s Jews have learned that when your ship strikes an iceberg, you don’t wait for a future round of lifeboats:

The European Jewish Congress has publicized a shocking poll: “A third of the European Jews think of emigrating”. That is 700,000 people.

“The Jews of Europe are at a crossroads”, tells me Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress based in Brussels. “If the authorities continue to add only defensive measures, building taller walls and thicker doors, then the Jews will not want to live this imprisoned life and will leave Europe in large numbers”.

Before the attack in Copenhagen, a year ago, there were 23 children in the Jewish kindergarten in Malmö [Sweden]: today there are only 5 left. The armed guards in front of the school triggered panic and parents prefer to enroll their children in public school. It is the end of Jewish identity. Some people whispered that the synagogue of the city will soon be turned into a museum. From 2010 to today, the synagogue lost a third of the faithful. The rabbi, Shneur Kesselman, is constantly attacked in the streets: almost 200 episodes of anti-Semitism in ten years.

Wonder where this round of refugees is going to settle?

No Rape Please; We’re European

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Remember this photo?
Boko
Boko Harum, a band of Muslim terrorists, kidnapped 300 Christian girls and sold them into sexual slavery, citing as justification an interpretation of the Koran that permits sexual relations with captured infidel women.  The kidnappers were not ashamed because they believed their actions were morally justified.  Mrs. Obama’s sign is an indicator of her abject cluelessness about the cause of the problem and the solution to prevent it in the future.
On New Year’s Eve, there were hundreds of groping incidents in European cities, some outright rapes, all reportedly committed by recent immigrants from North Africa/Middle East, men who are overwhelmingly Muslim and who believe infidel Nordic women who fail to cover their bodies are acting like whores just asking for sex.  So they got it.  What’s the problem?
Naturally, European women are outraged that Muslim men behave like Muslim men.  But what led Europe to this level of cluelessness?  People like this woman, protesting after New Year.
Koln

Wishful thinking, lady.  There won’t be any hard-body Arabs in your future, they’re after your daughter and granddaughter and there won’t be anything respectful about it.
But hey, they have a government to protect women from sexual assault, right?  So what’s the government recommend?  The Mayor of Koln tells women to stay arms’-length away from men you don’t know, travel in groups, and don’t drink to excess.  In other words, it’s not the rapists’ fault, ladies, it’s your own fault: you were acting like whores just asking for sex and you got it.
Okay, good to know.
Joe Doakes

The best single article you’ll read about Rape Jihad, anywhere, end of sentence, is Andrew McCarthy’s piece on the Cologne rape attacks on New Years, fittingly titled “Unassimilable Muslim Migrants Crash Europe’s Fantasy Islam“.

We’ll be coming back to this article, later in the week, in re the “fantasy Islam” bit – a fantasy shared by Mark Dayton, Betsy Hodges, and a whole lot of otherwise well-meaining Minnesotans.

 

Counterintuitive

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Larry Correia writes the Monster Hunter series, which are pretty good SF.  He’s also a Gun Guy, truly one of us.  His column about Paris:

I like this line, talking about the Obama administration failures in the Middle East:

“. . . the western world was literally cheering Putin getting involved. How badly do you have to f**k up that your allies are happy the Russians moved in instead?”

Joe Doakes

Correia’s a sharp guy.

And the answer to the rhetorical question is “Badly.  Very badly.”

A Lesson From Paris

In the Charlie Hebdo attack, Muslim terrorists slaughtered some deeply unsympathetic characters; “journalists” whose entire milieu involved whizzing in other peoples Wheaties.

And they attacked a kosher market – in other words, Jews.

So if you’re not a smug confrontational “journalist” or a Jew, you may have felt you were safe.

And their targets in the US, so far, have been similar; military installations of various types, full of unarmed servicepeople and dependents, for the most part.

Last Friday’s attacks “targeted” nobody; they were completely indiscriminate.

But the casualties were disproportionally younger people in the hipster parts of the 11th Arondissement of Paris; patrons at bars and sidewalk cafes, heavy metal fans at Baclaban, and soccer fans.

In other words – not only pretty much anyone, but especially at the four different attacks on bars and shopping areas, disproportionately people who, it seems likely, were likely than average to support aggressive, anti-ISIS policies.  I’m going to speculate, not without good reason, that many of the victims would have been actively hostile to hardline politics.

In any case, certainly none of the victims were within spitting distance of the French power structure.  Being neutral, or even opposed to the French counterterror policy, was no protection; any random passerby it was a bone to be chewed.

Moderation Is No Virtue:  If you read about the Middle East in any depth, you know that the single most dangerous thing to be is a “moderate Muslim”; it is they that the radicals kill off first, before the Americans, before the Brits, before even the Israelis.

That is pretty standard behavior among radicals; the Bolsheviks killed the Mensheviks; the Nazis muscled out lesser fascists; the Obama people turned the rhetorical long knives on Hillary.

But it is, literally, a matter of religious doctrine for ISIS; not only is failing to follow the Koran a crime, but failure to exact punishment by Koranic standards is punishable under Koranic law.  That includes the leadership; the Caliph must wage war on apostate Muslims (Shi’ites, and secular Muslim governments, to say nothing of secular government of any type), or be subject to penalty under a strict reading of Islamic law.  Don’t take my word for it; read this.

Your own moral neutrality on the subject is no defense.

Doakes Sunday: The Straw

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails about a rather aggressive-sounding statement from a hitherto-pacifistic churchman:

But surely there is only one logical conclusion to be drawn? He sighs, and answers slowly. “You are asking me how we can deal radically with Isis. The only answer is to radically destroy them. I don’t think we can do it by dropping bombs. We have got to bring about real change. It is a terrible thing to say as a priest.
“You’re probably thinking, ‘So you’re telling me there should be war?’ Yes!”
I am shocked by his answer, because this is a man who has risked his life many times to bring peace.
“It really hurts. I have tried so hard. I will do anything to save life and bring about tranquillity, and here I am forced by death and destruction to say there should be war.”

 

The minister finally has reached the same place where Urban II stood in 1095, when he preached the First Crusade, and where Ann Coulter stood in response to the Twin Towers, when she wrote her column:

joe doakes

War, like self-defense, is the second-worst possible outcome to any given situation.

And ISIS is leaving an awful lot of people at the brink of the first-worst outcome.

Veterans Day

Our country has chosen this, the anniversary of the end of World War I, to commemorate our veterans.

I’m terrible at finding words to express that kind of thanks, naturally; I took my best stab at it a couple of years ago, and I’m kind of proud of it – but seriously, how do you thank someone for spending the best years of their life fighting for this country?

It feels somehow mawkish and inadequate to say “thank you for your service”; while it’s sincere enough, it almost feels programmed.

But what else to say?  So thanks, veterans, for all you did; for spending the best years of your lives doing jobs daunting in their danger…

…and grindingly mundane…

…and for doing the impossible…

…and for making it impossible for the bad guys to wreak any of their havoc…

…thanks to you all.

(By the way – I suppose one way to observe Veterans Day is to politicize it, as my “representative”, Betty McCollum, does on her Facebook page.  I’ll demur, thanks).

Wages Of Charity

A couple of elderly Holocaust survivors assaulted in a genuine hate crime in the Netherlands:

Samuel (87) and Diana (86) Blug, two elderly Holocaust survivors, fell victim to a vicious and violent anti-Semitic attack at their home in Holland a month ago.

According to a Yedioth Ahronoth report on Sunday, the couple were only able to come forward now and recount what happened to them.

The Blugs say two men, who looked to be of Moroccan descent, knocked on the door to their apartment, claiming to be the police and demanding entrance.

As soon as Samuel opened the door, the nightmare began. Two men dressed in black barged into the apartment and started severely beating the couple.

The assailants threw the couple on the floor, kicked them repeatedly and shouted: “Dirty Jews – from now on your property is ours.”

After tying up the badly injured couple, the thieves ripped Diana’s jewelry off her body. At gunpoint, they forced the couple to tell them where the rest of the valuables in the apartment were located.

Samuel was blinded in the assault and suffered a broken femur. Both he and Diana, who were living independently before the attack, are now confined to wheelchairs at a rehabilitation center in Amsterdam.

“Those bastards have destroyed our lives,” Samuel said in tears to Yedioth Ahronoth. “I have severe pain. I’m completely broken inside,” Diana added.

Emmanuel, the couple’s son, has offered a prize of ten thousand euros to anyone who can provide information that will lead to the arrest of the assailants.

He also circulated pictures of the beaten Diana and Samuel, urging “the world to see what they did to my parents.”

Americans are a nation of migrants and, in many cases, refugees.  We tend to be the most generous nation on earth.  Most of us – and I include myself – would love to be able to help the refugees.

But the stories coming from Eastern and Central Europe are in all too many cases not the stories of people coming to free lands for fresh starts.

And before anyone says it – yep.  American natives have said the same thing about pretty much every wave of immigration i American history.  And they’ve been right, to an extent; each wave of immigration changed this country.

And it’s not as if every wave of immigrants came here with clean hands and no grudges; Scots and Irish came here with bones to pick with the Brits; French and Germans came here fresh from innumerable European battlefields; Russians, Poles and Jews – the pogrom thrower and the pogrom victim – all came here, as did the Armenians and the Turks.  And somehow, after a generation or two, most of them pretty well fit in as Americans, and buried their squalid ancestral squabbles and hatreds, and got down to work.

The difference is, every previous wave of immigrants has, inside a generation of two, assimilated to American life.

But at the same time as our government has officially switched from emphasizing assimilation in favor of integration – they’re very different things – we are faced with a wave of refugees that, as their numbers crept well out of the 1-2% range in Europe, have shown no desire to assimilate, and who seek integration on their own terms, making their neighborhoods in London and Stockholm and Paris and Hamburg effectively off-limits to the rest of society.

All of them?  Certainly not.  But enough of them to where “assimilation” looks like a dim prospect, ever.

And with that in mind, I think it’d be just an outstanding idea if Minnesota’s congressional delegation slowly stepped back and thought for a moment; are they being compassionate, or giving into irrational, PC exuberance?

 

Imports

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

A pair of graduate students from the U of M came to the office to learn about Minnesota’s system of land title records.  Seems they’re hoping to institute a new system in Kenya where land records are not reliable, making investment risky which discourages entrepreneurship and that leaves people in poverty, dependent on government hand-outs.  The students propose a computerized system (which will reveal changes and who made them) based on GPS coordinates (that can be re-established in the field by any hand-held GPS receiver).

The students are cargo cultists.  They propose a technological solution to a cultural problem.  I’m skeptical.

Kenya left the British Empire in 1963 and for the last half-century: “the use of land as an object of patronage to engender support and consolidate power has been exacerbated by corruption, forced eviction, government backtracking, and lack of redress for those who have lost land through violence.”

Suppose the computer gives me absolute iron-clad proof that the land records clerk altered the records to give my land to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s friend.  Suppose when I show up in court, the President’s friend arrives with a thick envelope of “last-minute evidence” for the judge, then glances meaningfully at his Reece Squad escorts and says “So, judge, how are the wife and kids?  Be a shame if anything happened to them.”  What are my chances of getting my land back?

Technology can’t solve that problem.  It takes a culture of incorruptibility, of self-less devotion to the Rule of Law, and that culture takes hundreds of years to grow.  Kenya threw that away when it kicked out the British.  Americans are letting our own Kenyan throw it away today.

Joe Doakes

Barack Obama’s worst facet?  He’s bringing the worst facets of Third World/Chicago governance to a national stage.

I’m going to say that before the IRS shuts me down.

 

Much Ado About Ado

The left, in its tireless search for crises not to waste, is going – some of them, anyway – back to that old warhorse, the Metric System.

Charles CW Cooke:

Examined in a vacuum, there is nothing obviously virtuous about the imperial system of measurement. If the United States were starting from scratch, à la Thomas Paine, its people would almost certainly elect to conform to the global standard, if only because it would make it easier for scientists who work on collaborative projects. But this is rather beside the point, for we do not live in a vacuum, and the United States is not to be started anew. Instead, we are discussing the future of a well-established and extraordinarily successful country that is full of living, breathing, habit-forming people. Were Americans to follow Lincoln Chafee’s counsel and, in a “bold embrace of internationalism” agree to “join the rest of the world and go metric,” it would almost certainly make Germany and Lithuania and San Marino feel a little better about themselves. It may help things on the International Space Station, too. But it would not, pace Chafee’s blasé claim, represent an “easy” transition. Au contraire: To pull the roots out at this late stage in the game would be extremely tough. The imperial system developed as it did for a reason — to wit, it makes intuitive sense. To push people out of their intuitions is a hard task indeed.

 

I’m going to disagree with both sides.

For starters, as the old saw says, there are two types of countries; ones that use metric, and ones that’ve been to the moon.  We clearly don’t suffer much from using metric.

And beyond that?  Every American that needs to use metric – scientists, doctors, soldiers – already does.

And seriously – is it really that hard to switch between the two?  A meter is about a yard.  There are three kilometers to two miles.  A kilo is 2.2 pounds.  A liter is a quart with a little change.  There are about 2.5 hectares to an acre, not that anyone in n a country that is actually self-sufficient for food measures land in hectares (except maybe Australian and Argentina).  9 millimeter is the same as .38, .357 and .380 ACP.