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Belmont Club

Success At Last

February 11th, 2014 - 2:38 pm

David Brooks, writing in the New York Times, notes that the cultural elites are complaining bitterly that they’ve got what they wanted.  America is gone.

When foreign visitors used to describe American culture, they generally settled on different versions of one trait: energy. Whether driven by crass motivations or spiritual ones, Americans, visitors agreed, worked more frantically, moved more and switched jobs more than just about anybody else on earth.

That’s changing. In the past 60 years, for example, Americans have become steadily less mobile… we are now at historic lows, no more mobile than people in Denmark or Finland. …

Peter Beinart wrote a fascinating piece for National Journal, arguing that Americans used to have much more faith in capitalism, a classless society, America’s role in the world and organized religion than people from Europe. But now American attitudes resemble European attitudes, and when you just look at young people, American exceptionalism is basically gone.

But why aren’t they delighted? Isn’t this what they’ve always wanted? An America more like Europe? With European defense (spell it “defence”), health policies, social attitudes and safety nets? And now that they’ve gotten them, why so serious?

Maybe people should be more careful about what they want because they may get it. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote story titled the Last of the Legions in which he described a meeting between a delegation laden with demands and someone prepared to grant them.

“The legions go at once,” said the viceroy. “You will doubtless rejoice to hear that within a month there will be no Roman soldier in the island, nor, indeed, a Roman of any sort, age, or sex, if I can take them with me.”

The faces of the Britons were shadowed, and Caradoc, a grave and thoughtful man, spoke for the first time.

“But this is over sudden, your excellency,” said he. “There is much truth in what you have said about the pirates. From my villa near the fort of Anderida I saw eighty of their galleys only last week, and I know well that they would be on us like ravens on a dying ox. For many years to come it would not be possible for us to hold them off.”

The viceroy shrugged his shoulders. “It is your affair now,” said he. “Rome must look to herself.”

The last traces of joy had passed from the faces of the Britons. Suddenly the future had started up clearly before them, and they quailed at the prospect.

“There is a rumour in the market-place,” said Celticus, “that the northern Barbarians are through the gap in the wall. Who is to stop their progress?”

“You and your fellows,” said the Roman.

Clearer still grew the future, and there was terror in the eyes of the spokesmen as they faced it.

“But, your excellency, if the legions should go at once, we should have the wild Scots at York, and the Northmen in the Thames within the month. We can build ourselves up under your shield, and in a few years it would be easier for us; but not now, your excellency, not now.”

“Tut, man; for years you have been clamouring in our ears and raising the people. Now you have got what you asked. What more would you have? Within the month you will be as free as were your ancestors before Cæsar set foot upon your shore.”

“For God’s sake, your excellency, put our words out of your head. The matter had not been well considered. We will send to Rome. We will ride post-haste ourselves. We will fall at the Emperor’s feet. We will kneel before the Senate and beg that the legions remain.”

The Roman proconsul rose from his chair and motioned that the audience was at an end.

“You will do what you please,” said he. “I and my men are for Italy.”

The delegation got what they wanted. “I and my men are for Italy.” The pirates are your problem. Today the equivalent phrase is: we’re for history. The generation of squares that intellectuals hated so much has departed into the safety of their achievements, which by their mere existence now mock the present. They are resting on their laurels beneath the sod and we cannot now recall them to our aid.

Remember when? Do-wah-wee-wa-wah. There were Americans once. But that was then and this is now.

Tom Blumer asks “is it over and we just don’t know it? Have we lost our Founders’ government?” How do you lose a country? How do you mislay a civilization? Nobody lost America, in the sense it was misplaced, left somewhere that no one could remember. If it’s gone it’s because the clever people threw it away, they had no use for it, not knowing what it did.

“We are going to fundamentally transform America.” Well maybe you did. And surprise, surprise.

No generation ever loses a thing like freedom; it is the natural condition of man, the way he is born under the sky. It only goes away when too many people hunger for chains. And the thing is, when you really go looking for a defeat, for prison and for mediocrity — eventually you will find it.

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Top Rated Comments   
David Brooks. The New York Times. Peter Beinert. The National Journal.

Remember these people, because they and the so-called "institutions" the represent, are also part of this idea that is "America" that is about to become extinct.
The so-called design margin, or calling it civilization as it has been known, is corroding in front of our very eyes. They called for it. "Nicely creased pants". The byword of the educated writers speaking for their class. The deep thoughts revealed to the huddled masses in fly-over country.

There is a lot of ruin in a country, and we are about to find out just how much. Lose a whole country? Misplace something this big? The country, our history, our values that we cherished at the twilight's last gleaming, are only thoughts in the minds of civilized men.
When you replace the civilized men with the new barbarians; more virile, more decisive, more stupid and unwise, those cherished ideas are going to evaporate. So what if the ideas are still there in the memories of the old, or in books. Who reads books? Did that book get many 'likes' on Facebook this week? What did Oprah think of it? Does any of this serve the narrative?
The roads, the houses, the wires on the poles, the buildings and forests and mountains will still be here, but they will be occupied with people that have a different set of ideas, or basically no ideas at all, besides the ones that are put there at random by the entertainment media that passes for news.
A spirit, a soul, the metaphysical part of man needs nourishment just as much as the physical body does to live. Take away that which sustains the inner man, the inner life, and it will die. Substitute the great ideas and beliefs that made America exceptional, take away the sustenance, teach children to loathe what this country was and to embrace something else, and the life that made us will be dead.

I would like to think that a renaissance of thought, values and beliefs could be kindled in the next generation, but I think that is unlikely, as the younger generation is generally not literate, cares little for books and ideas, and is spoon-fed their beliefs through the lens of the popular vulgar culture. This is the food that nourishes their inner life, their metaphysical life.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The reason they say "it's darkest before the dawn" is the press hadn't discovered the phrase "tipping point" yet. But that's what it is: the nearer side of the inflection point. Every dysnfunctional system reaches a stage when denial doesn't work any more. That's a dark moment, but it's also a hopeful moment, because that's when things start getting better.

This article is up at the Huffington Post:

I'm a Member of the American 'Used-to-Haves'

>>I used to have a house. I used to go on vacations. I used to shop at department stores, get my hair done and even enjoy pedicures. Now, I don't. I'm a member of the American "Used-to-Haves."

Now, I'm renting an apartment and I'm desperately awaiting a check so I can pay the rent. Yet, I'm lucky to have an apartment that includes utilities. Despite my college degree from a prestigious college, and solid employment track record, I can't get a job. It's been so long since my corporate days, I now feel unemployable.

My age doesn't help. But I'm as healthy as a thoroughbred, I appear quite young and would gladly accept a basic salary. I'm a bargain! But no. I'm freelancing for $15 an hour these days, but I used to earn $100 an hour. In fact, all the freelance hourly rates have been driven down to $15-30 an hour. To make ends meet, I also work as an aide ($13.75 an hour) and run a small local company. And my annual earnings are under $20,000.<<

She's probably not alone in feeling that. You can only be funemployed for so long. I think the tone of disappointment among liberals is not the result of an infarction but of the slow and growing realization that "honey, we've shrunk the country". These people are acutely status conscious. Now they don't get the deference they used to. Chinamen are laughing at them -- and for the elite that's always a bad sign. So while it may be dark and may become darker still it's far from hopeless. It's always darkest before the dawn.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Um, yeah ... Reports of America's death have been greatly exaggerated. David Brooks is who he is, and lives where he lives. But I am who I am and there are a lot like me here in flyover country. This is a long, long game we're playing. And we're like cockroaches, you'll never get rid of us.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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Reposted for the record with a small edit to clear the filter. Pity the votes are lost and it belongs down thread but I hate to let the censors win.

The bien pessants complain the peasants are to soft.

Which is the more appropriate headline?
"Dog Catches Car" or "Flea Complains Dog Got Clipped"?

On television there is always the strong protective but very politically correct cop. Think of the lead characters in "Without A Trace" or "Criminal Minds" or the cop in a dozen other shows. The males are square jawed but serve to protect the right victims or intuitive hacker nonconformists. The females are also creatively unconventional or super insightful, declaring the correct view. The reality is somewhat different. The politically restructured guardians are often emotionally crippled HR harridans or totalitarian toadies or incompetent grievance mongers. The Obama project is bringing that from fiction and the local jurisdictions, think of California, NY (What will the NYPD be like after four years of De Blasio?), and the Wisconsin police who attempted a putsch against Governor Walker, to the FBI and the US Armed Forces.

Gresham's Law applies. The bad will drive out the good. Blast's Corollary is that the best survive to make the future. Math wins and losers lose, but the waste should make us weep.

Well quoted. As Dan Daly said to the Devil Dogs at Belleau Wood, "Come on, you sons of b*tches, do you want to live forever?"

Old Salt,
When we are having such fun watching the ride, stick around.
My concern is that in ten years we will not have the cohort of recent veterans like your son in law. If the crisis does not come before then we may lack the seed corn for renewal.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I grew up in what would now be considered a "progressive" household. I was taught to be a militant atheist (it didn't stick) , and to worship the Great Society. My parents and I looked forward to the golden age of secular enlightenment. It's a steaming pile of s*it instead. Even my late father became disillusioned.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

The ''this is what you want, this is what you get'' song (extended coda begins at 3:25 or thereabouts).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As an illustration of the hidden similarities between French and American political life, one need only look at a movement from the 1950's led by Pierre Poujade. He led a tax protest. Themes expressed by Poujadism would later be expressed within the contemporary Tea Party of the United States.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

Gentlemen: Today the Cubs opened a new spring training facility in Mesa, AZ.

Tomorrow: Pitchers and catchers report.

There is hope.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Hope Springs (training) Eternal"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

It is not good manners to put words into someone else's mouth. I had expected more savoir faire from you.

I have long been on record as opposing the “weapons of mass destruction” case for war against Saddam Hussein. My reason for supporting the liberation of Iraq from that tyrant was due to his celebration of the September 11 attacks – that and that alone is sufficient casus belli. On the narrow grounds of punishing Saddam Hussein for celebrating the September 11 attacks, the war to liberate Iraq has been a resounding success. On the broader grounds of mission civilisatrice, it was not a success. Overall, the Iraq war was a minor victory but not a major victory.

The French political class could be forgiven if it merely wished to avoid getting dragooned into a war it did not want to fight. However, French opposition to the United States in 2003 was not based upon a disagreement over policy. Instead, French newspapers talked of America “being too big” and of the need to “counterbalance” the United States. Opposition against the United States was not based upon differences of opinion, for French anti-Americanism was axiomatic rather than rational.

Just as the United States and the United Kingdom are two nations divided by a common language, the United States and France are two nations divided by common ideals. They both have a legacy of what the French call “mission civilisatrice” or what others would call a Prometheus Complex. It is understandable that people in France would feel annoyed when the State Department lectures France. It would be almost as bad as getting lectured to by an enarque from France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or being expected to be eternally grateful for a neoclassicist statue originally intended for decorating the Suez Canal.

Yet, for France to express umbrage at getting lectured to by the State Department is unfair given the marked preference people in France apparently have for the dimwits at the State Department over any other American political faction. If French people don't like Obama, they seem to dislike any alternative to him even more! If they don't like getting double crossed by Obama, they don't want anybody else who would act any differently! So, the notion that French people don't care who resides in the White House is laughable – they, along with most Europeans, indulged in Obamaphilia.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Europa delanda est.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
European Obamaphilia comes largely a desire to saddle the United States with a wimp that Europeans could worship rather than a man they could respect. Now they have what they want, and now they are finding out that a less assertive United States won't do what they want. The fact is, there seems to be a common attitude in Europe to regard the United States as a vassal state of Europe, that America must come running to save the day whenever Europeans screw up.

Many Europeans don't quite realize that the United States has interests elsewhere. Americans have better things to do than always cater to European public opinion, especially given how the end of the Cold War has vastly reduced the strategic value of Europe. If Europeans would rather rely upon the European Union for their defense than NATO, that is their decision.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Don't you all ever get tired of preaching to the choir? Between that and your contemptuous hatred for those who (politically) bless themselves with three fingers instead of four, you have achieved a degree of smug hypocrisy that is positively awesome. You sit there and rail at the political world but never do anything to actually change it. Congratulations! With absolutely no effort on your part, you will be able to parrot your "I told you so!" back and forth to each other after the next election. You will be able to blame Obama for the sad state of affairs for years to come! Ain't internet politics wonderful???!!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So your argument is "How dare you offend me!" --?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who is the "you all" you're shrieking at, JayTex13?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've been reading "The Last Lion," Manchester's brilliant (mostly) biography of Churchill. Everything we're going through has been gone through before, one way or another.

We're all good at diagnosing the illness. But what is the cure???

Milton Friedman said that you can't count on electing "good people" to right/rectify a situation -- you have to make it in Their best interests to do the right thing.

What incentives can we create for the politicians to do the right thing by America? That's the $64,000 question.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"What incentives can we create for the politicians to do the right thing by America?"

Lynch'em if they don't!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, I can tell you how the cops in the NYPD are reacting to Pinko DeBlasio already.

A friend went to the Fifth Precinct to report an attempted breaking and entering (black man tried to get in her window through the 3rd-floor fire escape). This was right after DeBlasio had rescinded the NYPD's stop, question, and frisk procedure.

The cops at the station house were bitter and cynical, and told her, "you're on your own. If they don't want us to catch the bad guys, that's okay with us: less work, less danger. Screw 'em."

She, a liberal birdbrain, was surprised by this attitude. (There's your argument: institute voter IQ tests!)

In other words, "It's DeBlasio Time!" and it's open season on the law-abiding citizenry of New York. MOST of whom deserve some payback (but some of us don't, alas).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The State Dinner at the White House reminded me of the socialist gatherings described in Atlas Shrugged.

Last evening I texted my socialist relatives with the following. Please excuse "all caps" format. I was screaming at them.

My reply was as follows:

Heading: My "Prophesy"




Their reply was, "you are really out there"! They said I need a shrink (typical ad hominem attack).

My reply was as follows:

Heading: Useful Idiots
Leftists are the ones who are "out there". They are the useful idiots of the Marxists. Once the Marxists/Communists/Socialists gain control, they will have no further use for you. You will be killed or imprisoned if you resist their agenda.

Study the histories of the Soviet Union, Red China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

By the way, check out the deductables on Obama Care! Y'all are so screwed!

It felt good to vent my spleen and textually slap em upside the head. I do recognize I have to be calm when speaking to those who can possibly be brought around.

Bottom line, I feel good and it is good to be back commenting on The Belmont Club.

I have begun a campaign folks. It consists of 3 points conservative Americans can unite around nationwide.
1. Voter I.D. in every state with paper ballots.
2. Amend Constitution to raise voting age to 21 unless in military.
3. When registering to vote, candidates must pass same citizen test immigrants must pass and it is given in English.

Salaam eleichum Y'all!

P.S. Wretchard, I hope it doesn't get any darker and hope dawn comes sooner than later.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A speech on income inequality and Moochelle wearing a $12,000 dress.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Obamas model their fiscal lives on Jim & Tammy Faye.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The [honky] peasants don't have bread? Let them eat cake!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Let them eat cake!"--Mehitable33

Marie Antoinette never said that. But Michelle Obama, who knows?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One other thing you might add: since so much fraud occurs due to the chaos created by a single election day, why on earth can't we follow so many other nations and hold a three or five day election 'week'?

Just a straight scaling would indicate a tripling or quintupling of the resources available for eligibility vetting.

Just that prospect alone of such an extension would no doubt stop many a scheme dead in its tracks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
According to the dominant narrative, the Iranian Navy's planned sojourn in the North Atlantic Ocean is a publicity stunt for domestic consumption. So is the Iranian regime's bombast about being ready for a “decisive battle”. The reaction it is getting is about the same as the reaction the Grim Reaper got on Monty Python's “The Meaning of Life”. Mr. Khamanei could shout at the top of its lungs, “I AM DEATH!” – and he would get the same reaction.

There is an alternative narrative – it is that the Iranian regime seeks to use its navy to attack an eastern city. The regime desperately wants a war against the United States and it figures that directly attacking American soil will finally bring the war it so ardently desires against an enemy saddled with an incompetent commander in chief.

It will be interesting to see which narrative is correct.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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