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Belmont Club

Our Ruling Class

June 24th, 2014 - 4:39 pm

There are two sorts of stock human dramas that play out in every age of history. The first concerns people who were once rich but are now discovering they are poor. The second is their opposite: people who were once poor who suddenly realize they are rich.

Years ago there were riveting accounts in a Manila newspaper about a man, whose surname was a byword for inherited wealth, pathetically resisting eviction from his ancestral home. The man — who gave his occupation as artist — sat disconsolate in the driveway of his former home, surrounded by his books, records and memorabilia, refusing the court order to leave until hunger and the elements forced him out into the street.

The second was represented in my mind by the story of a Chinese businessman who one day found a clan delegation in the shoddy warehouse where he lived, slept and held office despite his great wealth. They implored him to redeem the family honor by not riding around in a jalopy, an act which they claimed reflected badly on the clan’s status.  ”Honorable patriarch,” they begged, “could you not purchase a suitable limousine commensurate to your true wealth?”

The old man was nonplussed. He liked sleeping on packing crates, had no interest in fancy clothes, and was rather fond of his jalopy. But deferring to duty he acceded:

“Oh, alright. One of you please go and find the minimum quality luxury car suitable for the purpose. And remember now, the minimum quality! Not a penny more than necessary.”

That was my archetype of the accession to wealth story until I read about Chelsea Clinton, who recently told Fast Company in an interview how she gritted her teeth and took on lucrative gigs before deciding to join her family’s philanthropic foundation because, “I was curious if I could care about (money) on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t.”  She decided making money bored her after all and decided to pursue her true Clinton calling, which was telling people what to do.

In Chelsea the Clintons had finally become true aristocrats, finally left their Little Rock roots. Chelsea had joined that elite group which has had money for so long it bores them. She, as the British well knew of the upper classes, finally accepted her duty to rule, shouldered the burden and paid the sad price for a life cursed with luxury and privilege.

To real aristocrats, position is simply the way things have always been. In the movie The Aviator, the Howard Hughes character sits down to dinner with Old Money, and his hosts don’t even know where their money came from.

Ludlow: Then how did you make all that money?

Mrs. Hepburn: We don’t care about money here, Mr. Hughes.

Howard: That’s because you have it.

Mrs. Hepburn: Would you repeat that?

Howard: You don’t care about money because you have it. And you’ve always had it. My father was dirt poor when I was born…. I care about money, because I know what it takes out of a man to make it.

It is always rude to inquire where money comes from. Among real royalty it should simply be there. The recompense for the burden of aristocracy is privilege. Aristocrats must do their duty from grace; now could we please get out of the way? The notion is captured in one of CS Lewis’ books, The Magician’s Nephew, where Uncle Andrew explains to Digory that truly important people are not bound by rules:

“The moment I picked up that box I could tell by the pricking in my fingers that I held some great secret in my hands. She gave it to me and made me promise that as soon as she was dead I would burn it unopened, with certain ceremonies. That promise I did not keep.”

“Well then, it was jolly rotten of you,” said Digory.

“Rotten?” said Uncle Andrew with a puzzled look. “Oh, I see. You mean that little boys ought to keep their promises. Very true: most right and proper, I’m sure, and I’m very glad you have been taught to do it. But of course you must understand that rules of that sort, however excellent they may be for little boys—and servants—and women—and even people in general, can’t possibly be expected to apply to profound students and great thinkers and sages. No, Digory. Men like me who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.”

Morality is for the middle class. Gustave Flaubert knew that aristocrats valued the right to pursue their calling free of the niggling restraints of bourgeois respectability. “There was an air of indifference about them, a calm produced by the gratification of every passion; and though their manners were suave, one could sense beneath them that special brutality which comes from the habit of breaking down half-hearted resistances that keep one fit and tickle one’s vanity — the handling of blooded horses, the pursuit of loose women.”

Top Rated Comments   
In 1976 my companion and I were sitting on the veranda of Karl Foresmark's cottage by the Mui River in southern Ethiopia. In those days Karl was something of a legend in East Africa because of his adventures after the Second World War.

Now, Karl had once suffered from the dread Schistosomiasis - a parasitic infection he had picked up from snails in the Mui River. Our expedition leader had warned us that this was a taboo topic with Karl. But my companion was a doctor who was specializing in tropical medicine. He was bursting with curiosity. I saved him the embarrassment by asking Karl directly what the cure was like.

Karl just laughed. He said that everyone was curious about that but was afraid to ask. He told us that the cure was very rough. What they do is poison you until you are near death. The parasite dies just before you do so they have a reasonable chance of bringing you back to life.

It seems to me that this hard cure will be something we are going to have to endure to kill off the parasitic elements of our culture.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, describing the coming of the Kennedy brothers and their minions to D.C. after JFK's inauguration, remarked, "It's rather like watching the Borgia brothers take over a respectable North Italian city."

Truer words, and all that ...
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I received this in an email the other day.

Quit trashing Obama's accomplishments. He has done more than any other President before him.

Here is a list of his impressive accomplishments:

First President to apply for college aid as a foreign student, then deny he was a foreigner. FACT

First President to have a social security number from a state he has never lived in. FACT

First President to preside over a cut to the credit-rating of the United States . FACT

First President to violate the War Powers Act. FACT

First President to be held in contempt of court for illegally obstructing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico . FACT

First President to require all Americans to purchase a product from a third party. FACT

First President to spend a trillion dollars on "shovel-ready" jobs when there was no such thing as "shovel-ready" jobs. FACT

First President to abrogate bankruptcy law to turn over control of companies to his union supporters. FACT

First President to by-pass Congress and implement the Dream Act through executive fiat. FACT!

First President to order a secret amnesty program that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants across the
U.S. , including those with criminal convictions. FACT!

First President to demand a company hand-over $20 billion to one of his political appointees. FACT!

First President to tell a CEO of a major corporation (Chrysler) to resign. FACT!

First President to terminate America ’s ability to put a man in space. FACT!

First President to cancel the National Day of Prayer and to say that America is no longer a Christian nation. FACT!

First President to have a law signed by an auto-pen without being present. FACT!

First President to arbitrarily declare an existing law unconstitutional and refuse to enforce it. FACT!

First President to threaten insurance companies if they publicly spoke out on the reasons for their rate increases. FACT!

First President to tell a major manufacturing company in which state it is allowed to locate a factory. FACT!

First President to file lawsuits against the states he swore an oath to protect (AZ, WI, OH, IN). FACT!

First President to withdraw an existing coal permit that had been properly issued years ago. FACT!

First President to actively try to bankrupt an American industry (coal). FACT!
See the utube video! search "obama coal policy exponetial increase of electrical bill"

First President to fire an inspector general of AmeriCorps for catching one of his friends in a corruption case. FACT!

First President to appoint 45 czars to replace elected officials in his office. FACT!

First President to surround himself with radical left wing anarchists. FACT!

First President to golf more than 150 separate times in his five years in office. FACT!

First President to hide his birth, medical, educational and travel records. FACT!

First President to win a Nobel Peace Prize for doing NOTHING to earn it. FACT!

First President to go on multiple "global apology tours" and concurrent "insult our friends" tours. FACT!

First President to go on over 17 lavish vacations, in addition to date nights and Wednesday
evening White House parties for his friends paid for by the taxpayers. FACT!

First President to have personal servants (taxpayer funded) for his wife. FACT!

First President to keep a dog trainer on retainer for $102,000 a year at taxpayer expense. FACT!

First President to fly in a personal trainer from Chicago at least once a week at taxpayer expense.

First President to repeat the Holy Quran and tell us the early morning call of the Azan
(Islamic call to worship) is the most beautiful sound on earth FACT!

First President to side with a foreign nation over one of the American 50 state ( Mexico vs Arizona ). FACT!

First President to tell the military men and women that they should pay for their own private insurance
because they "volunteered to go to war and knew the consequences." FACT!

Then he was the First President to tell the members of the military that THEY were UNPATRIOTIC for
balking at the last suggestion. (Thank God he didn't get away with THIS one.) FACT!

First President to have a stand down order issued while an ambassador was under attack. FACT.

First President to hand over a press conference to a former President to finish for him. FACT.

First President to run guns to drug cartels and have a border agent shot with one. FACT.

First President to attend a church where the pastor asks God to damn America. FACT.

First President to deep bow to a foreign royalty. FACT.

First President to write TWO autobiographies before he held a job in which he was in charge of a single employee. FACT

First President who declared the Constitution he is sworn to uphold is a document of negative rights. FACT

First President to go on a foreign language radio station and declare that their mutual enemies should be punished, and those enemies were American citizens, not foreigners. FACT.

Now...I have not fact checked all
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
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Were any of you posters born before 1955? Hah! It shows! Quit being so "yesterday"! There is a new chique in town, but it isn't Coco Chanel or her poodles.

Now we have the president and his wife traveling around the globe pointing out what a crappy country the United States is. (Who knew? We thought it was an ok country, but we also made the same mistake about our old health care plans which we thought were ok).

Such bold and insulting speech about the homeland is heralded as heroic and long overdue back home in the western media.

"Anti-colonial" was the phrase the president used in Egypt in 2008, sneering at westernism as likely his Kenyan father had done The first lady spouted off recently in China that it wasn't very long ago that people like me weren't allowed to vote, pronounced \iwhile wearing a high fashion garment by a woman with degrees from two Ivy League universities, though she bitterly complained before the first inauguration at the unfairness of paying all that money back!

She needs to make that speech to the 500,000 silent headstones in Civil War cemeteries, who died so she could be free and free to malign the country they served with "their last full measure of devotion".

The new "new" includes a compliant, silent and cheer-leading media who celebrate our loss of freedom, drip by drip, foot by foot, and mile by mile.

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9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
A "Let them eat Cake" moment.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...that elite group which has had money for so long it bores them. "

What the media fail to grasp about the Clintons is that despite Hillary's mewling of being "flat broke", the entire family had been living in Mansions since his second election as Governor in 1982. I'm sure that gig also included household staff.

No wonder Chelsea is bored with money, the family never needed it while living on the Public dime for her entire life.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
" join her family’s philanthropic foundation because, “I was curious if I could care about (money) on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t.” She decided making money bored her after all and decided to pursue her true Clinton calling, which was telling people what to do."

Gonna join Mon & Dad in the "philanthropic" thing.

Small factoid, in whatever network engaged Chelsea's services a few years ago, word on the street was that she sucked at whatever they hired her to do.

Since money is so boring or odious or unimportant to Chelsea, I recommend she abandon her $10 million Soho (?) apartment, in the name of putting her mouth where her money is.

Just when you think Clintons (and Bushes and Kennedys) may finally be falling off the radar, whole new generations come along.

Is not fair.

The only place Genghis John ("find heiress, will follow") is an aristocrat is between his own ears.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's an old term, nouveau riche, that perfectly describes the Obamas.

"She, as the British well knew of the upper classes, finally accepted her duty to rule, shouldered the burden and paid the sad price for a life cursed with luxury and privilege."

What a beautiful sentence!
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Except the Clintons aren't Old Money, they are white trash who came to power, so Old Money came to them.

And Kerry isn't bankrupt. He will be just as rich when his tenure as SoS ends. So you see it really doesn't matter to him what happens, his resume has been properly burnished like Ed Muskie's (except Muskie was qualified for the job). He'll retire rich and elite no matter what.

Although I am sure he finds it annoying to have to visit all these third world countries. I mean, the hotel service can be atrocious!
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great article in light of the Mississippi runoff election.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Someone" gave Limbaugh notes on Hillary's Book.
(My guess it was brother David.)

Hillaryairous detail:

Bill is planning his funeral, should it occur prior to Nov 2016, in such a way that will enhance Hillary's chances to become POTUS.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I liked the part where it said Michelle and Valerie plan to go off to Europe together and live the good life.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
(It might have been Klein's book on Bill, Hill, and the Obamas. Not pretty.)
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
So how do we arrange it that le Déluge falls entirely (or at least mainly) on the likes of Kerrys, Clintons, Obamas, et al.?
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
At the rate they're racking up the intolerable acts?
Little Groups of Paratroopers...
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's the problem, isn't it? The aristocrat he speaks of sounds as much like the US as a whole as anything else.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Land-based MIRVs were banned by treaty before the fall of the Soviet Union, because both sides realized that they were a destabilizing, rather than a stabilizing force. The reason was that being able to take out eight of an enemy's warheads with one of your own encouraged each side to adopt a strategy of first-strike/launch-on-warning, which greatly increases the chance of nuclear war.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
In those days sea-based missiles were less accurate than land ICBMs. Today that is no longer the case. SLBMs can be launched close to shore with short times of flight. Myths have an expiry date too. Glad to know Barack Obama's was formed before the fall of the Soviet Union.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
That sounds intelligent until you realize it also means you are giving up your second strike capability, which means that (a) it means you trust your opponent NOT to strike first, and (b) it then behooves YOU to strike first instead. IOW it's a pile of crap.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your second strike capability still sits where it always has: at sea, aboard the submarines.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, but not just any pile of crap:

This is a highly radioactive pile of crap.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is China a signatory to this? Iran? India? Japan? Pakistan? I honestly don't know, but the answer is a lot more relevant and important now than it was near the end of the last century.

If they are signatories, why should I assume they will obey the words written down on a piece of paper that most of their citizens don't know about?

Russia certainly doesn't now, and certainly didn't even before their empire collapsed.

Unfortunately, those questions don't matter at all to the government of the United States, which trusts and believes everyone except its own citizens,

9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's just good science.

"Good science" senescent Nukes.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment

Old Doug,
"The Science Is Settled"™
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Except for The Deniers.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Didn't you hear?

Generalissimo Consensus ate them.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
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