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Belmont Club

Monthly Archives: February 2013

I am the Eggman, they are the Eggmen

February 22nd, 2013 - 11:56 am

Angelo de Codevilla amplified his landmark essay on America’s new ruling class by explaining why the Republican Party could do nothing to stop its ascendance. In a new article Codevilla explained that much of the Republican party has become wannabee Democrat and therefore supine. They want the Democrat spoils also without bothering themselves with the distasteful mental contortions of the Democrat ideology.

The Democrats have been the party of income transfers for a long time. Their political genius has been to define the beneficiaries to include themselves and all their constituents. As Codevilla puts it, “it came to consist almost exclusively of constituencies that make up government itself or benefit from government. Big business, increasingly dependent on government contracts and regulation, became a virtual adjunct of the contracting agents and regulators … Republican leaders neither parry the insults nor vilify their Democratic counterparts in comparable terms because they do not want to beat the ruling class, but to join it in solving the nation’s problems.”

How did they come to cut such pathetic figures?

The Republican Party never fully adapted itself to the fact that modern big government is an interest group in and of itself, inherently at odds with the rest of society, that it creates a demand for representation by those it alienates, and hence that politicians must choose whether to represent the rulers or the ruled. The Republican Party had been the party of government between the Civil War and 1932. But government then was smaller in size, scope, and pretense. …

In sum, the closer one gets to the Republican Party’s voters, the more the Party looks like Goldwater and Reagan. The closer one gets to its top, the more it looks like the ghost of Rockefeller. Consider 2012: the party chose for President someone preferred by only one fourth of its voters – Mitt Romney, whose first youthful venture in politics had been to take part in the political blackballing of Barry Goldwater.

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Turn-down Day

February 20th, 2013 - 11:50 pm

I will try to find a solution to the comment archives in some way. But yesterday was a jinx day: for as if to compound things a server connected to another task went down. Vexed by the momentary paralysis of my cyber-life, I dusted my palms and proclaimed in frustration “that this means war” and went down to the neighborhood theater to watch Zero Dark Thirty. About three hours later I returned home and realized that the movie’s message was in fact that “it doesn’t mean war”.

The raids, the surveillance, the bureaucratic infighting, even the coercive interrogation but most especially the Lamborghini purchase scene all shouted “let’s get along”. Someone probably figured it was the better part of valor not to ask why he was stashed half a mile from the Pakistani military academy. That not asking was part of the ‘solution’ too. Maybe that’s what it comes down to: cultures, bureaucracies and individuals squeeze past each other in the corridors of history on their way to wherever. Osama Bin Laden created a disturbance in the symbolism of the system. Somehow September 11 had to be squared and his death was necessary to balance the terms in some political algebra. Not that anything was really squared but sorta was thought to be good enough. Maybe the most important thing OBL ever did was to die and provide an excuse to restart the music.

Perhaps that’s the most important thing the first generation of stars did too.

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The Life That We Have

February 19th, 2013 - 2:34 pm

Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven is a personal account of a medical doctor who came within an ace of a documented brain death yet made a full recovery. That person was Alexander himself. While in the coma Dr. Alexander had a near death experience of startling reality and duration in which he had no awareness of his previous identity; not his name, his profession nor his memory. He instead voyaged without any apparent self-consciousness through three distinct “worlds”: “the rough, ugly Realm of the Earthworm’s-Eye View, the idyllic Gateway, and the awesome heavenly Core”.

Upon regaining consciousness, Dr. Alexander on the advice of his son set down his recollections while they were still fresh in his mind and attempted to reconcile what he subjectively experienced with his training and career as a neurosurgeon, which included a stint as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and the publication of numerous scientific papers.

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Behind the Scenes

February 19th, 2013 - 12:40 pm

The irregular blog posting of late has been due to three things. First, the pressure of work. I am trying to finish a key component of a project and it’s proving more complicated and involved than anticipated. Second is the time required to read more books, which currently mean Jonathan Foreman’s Aiding And Abetting: Foreign Aid Failures and the 0.7% Deception and Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven — and more in the works as snail mail arrives. The third factor has been a variety of long neglected and deferred chores that are claiming their due.

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Visions of Glory

February 18th, 2013 - 7:05 pm

Perhaps the one skill the British will never impart to Americans is the knowledge of how to fight bad guys while dressed up in a nice suit.  Every actor who plays James Bond can do it. Why, even Jason Statham can do it. Most of us want to be like that, even though we’ve no clue how or even if it is possible at all.  Still we dream. But there are days when reality pulls us back to terra firma. Today The Washington Post administered yet another unexpected dose of reality. “Many young, healthy Americans could soon see a jump in their health insurance costs, and insurance companies are saying: It’s not our fault.”

That’s the insurance company’s way of saying the young are basically going to expend their youth stuck in poverty,  in bondage to their health care premiums.  And get a Death Panel at the end of it.

The nation’s insurers are engaged in an all-out, last-ditch effort to shield themselves from blame for what they predict will be rate increases on policies they must unveil this spring to comply with President Obama’s health-care law….

Aetna chief executive Mark T. Bertolini invoked the term at his company’s recent annual investor conference, cautioning that premiums for plans sold to individuals could rise as much as 50 percent on average and could more than double for particular groups such as the young and healthy.
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Eclectic Dreams

February 18th, 2013 - 2:34 pm

Howard Nemerov looks at the Los Angeles Times‘ argument that violence in movies are a therapeutic way of getting aggression off the public’s chest. “A good deal of movie violence is designed as a way for us to experience it vicariously.” Video violence doesn’t cause violence: helps reduce it. It’s a myth that the billion-dollar entertainment industry contributes to killings.

However the presence guns — even toy guns — can cause unspeakable damage to the mind. PBS reports on how one mother has been coping with Second Amendment pollution in her home: “I blame George Washington for my son’s obsession with guns.”

It all started when my husband took our preschooler to Mount Vernon, home to the “father of our country.” They came home with a tricorner hat, a compass, and a cute little wooden popgun. That was last year. Today, our house is littered with toy slingshots, cannons, and guns—the result of a growing fascination with “good guys,” “bad guys,” and all of the banging and kabooming that goes on in between.

Until recently, I had become adept at making jokes about my son’s fascination with toy guns. I figured, this is probably just a phase; it will pass soon enough, right? Unfortunately, the horrific shootings in Tucson, Arizona have shed glaring new light on the gun play in my house. Can a fascination with guns go too far?

Sure it can. The basic problem is that the little kid has the wrong role model. That’s why the modern mother should buy the Maisto Fresh Metal Tailwinds 1:97 Predator Drone for her son to play with. In that way the mother’s child can shift his admiration from George Washington to Barack Obama. One product reviewer at the Amazon site wrote glowingly of the product:

You’ve had a busy play day – You’ve wiretapped Mom’s cell phone and e-mail without a warrant, you’ve indefinitely detained your little brother Timmy in the linen closet without trial, and you’ve confiscated all the Super-Soakers from the neighborhood children (after all, why does any kid – besides you, of course – even NEED a Super-Soaker for self-defense? A regular water pistol should be enough). What do you do for an encore?

That’s where the US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator from Maisto comes in.

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The Dragon Stirs

February 18th, 2013 - 1:07 pm

The twin aspects of Chinese expansion in Asia were illustrated in separate news articles. One story underscored the role of graft as an offensive weapon: the news article alleged that the initial entry point for encroachments on the Philippines lay in a corrupt business deal with former Philippine President Gloria Arroyo. “The controversial Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking entered into by the Arroyo government with China in 2004 which allowed China and later on Vietnam to explore not only the Philippine-occupied islands in the disputed mineral-rich Spratlys but areas that are clearly Philippine territory … paved the way for the signing of at least two graft-riddled deals : North Rail and national broadband network with ZTE agreements.”

In other words the allegation was that the Chinese bribed a president to open the door to it. Who would have thunk it? The other showcased pure saber rattling. At a conference in Australia a high ranking Chinese official told its listeners that it was prepared to assert its place in the sun.

When China’s Lieutenant-General Ren Haiquan took the podium in front of an audience filled with representatives from various Asian militaries in Melbourne, Australia, last month, he attacked “some people” who were threatening to repeat the mistakes of WWII. ”Flames of the war ignited by fascist countries engulfed the whole region, and many places, including Darwin in Australia, were bombed,” he said. In a crazy coincidence, perhaps, fireworks thundered into the sky overhead as he spoke.

A delegation of Japanese military officers were in the audience. “Visibly displeased at the dig,” David Lague reports for Reuters, “Lieutenant General Yoshiaki Nakagawa left with his fellow officers as soon as the speeches concluded.”

China’s military hawks like Lt-General Ren are becoming more vocal and more powerful. They push “short, sharp wars” with neighboring countries to take control of disputed territories in the East and South China Seas. They urge China to “strike first”, “prepare for conflict” or “kill a chicken to scare the monkeys.”

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The Man of System

February 16th, 2013 - 8:18 pm

Leo Linbeck III

President Obama, in his State of the Union address this week, proposed myriad programs to, as he put it, “to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth” in a way that “are fully paid for and fully consistent with the budget framework both parties agreed to just 18 months ago.”

Among the systems he listed over the course of an hour:

– A network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes
– A bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change
– An Energy Security Trust for auto research and technology development
– A “Fix-It-First” program for our most urgent infrastructure needs
– A home mortgage refinancing assistance program
– A program to make high-quality preschool program available to every child in America
– A competition to redesign America’s high schools
– An increase to the minimum wage
– Federal support for the 20 hardest-hit towns in America to help them get back on their feet
– A non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America

This is not a comprehensive list. But how could it be? There is a virtually limitless list of needs where The Man of System is called on to supply a program, a solution, or a system (take your pick).

Of course, any time such a list is proffered, there will be those who ask: how we will pay for it? But worry not, dear reader, for the President “assured his audience that “nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.”

Whew! That’s a relief.

But wait a minute: this stuff may not increase the deficit, but the deficit is already $1 trillion. Shouldn’t we be looking for ways to decrease the deficit before adding new initiatives? And what about future deficits? Won’t they be a problem when “the biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population”?

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Debt of Horror

February 16th, 2013 - 12:56 pm

Perhaps history imitates art. At the very least it sometimes anticipates it. In 1898 author Morgan Robertson wrote a novella called Futility, which was about of all things, a ship called the Titan striking an iceberg in the Atlantic and sinking with great loss of life, due to a shortage of lifeboats. And then there was the 1994 Tom Clancy novel Debt of Honor, which amused readers with the absurd idea of suicide pilots flying airliners into American landmarks and buildings.

People stopped being amused at the idea after September 11. But at least one prediction in the book never happened: the takeover by America’s enemies of Guam in the Marianas island. But it may happen yet. “The Guam Election Commission proposes to conduct a vote on Guam’s “self-determination” of its future relationship with the United States. The commission has rejected voter-registration forms filed by white citizens on racial grounds.” It is now the subject of a lawsuit, Davis vs Guam.

But what is most interesting about the suit are the emerging but tenuous connections between between “decolonization” and the Chinese and Cuban diplomatic efforts. The UN Special Committee on Decolonization issued this report:

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The Heavens Themselves

February 15th, 2013 - 11:07 am

Just another day in the cosmos. A rock landed on Russia.

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Fortunately, the global elite are on the job preventing the next one. Buy your carbon credits now.

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