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The Inexplicables

Such public affection for a host, rather than serial critiques and invective, would not just seem more logical, but more politically savvy still. Most illegal aliens desire the U.S. as proven by their presence and reluctance to leave; they need to replace the anger at being told to follow the law, with a sort of thanks for the country that took them in, coupled with a request of how to help out their adopted nation by following the law and applying for legal residency and/or citizenship -- with the assumption that they too would be angry should 11 million Chinese or Nigerians or Germans simply have arrived in the U.S. without legality.

5) I can never quite understand the writ against our ancestors.

I came into this world in 1953 replete with electricity, and modern medicine at the dawn of the age of antibiotics and polio vaccines, and relative peace -- no Japanese imperialism, or German Nazism, no death from tetanus. Who gave us all that and at what price? California had then a wonderful university system, impressive freeways, a lean and hard working public sector, and vibrant industry. We were given so much and yet appreciate so little of that inheritance, citing the sins of past generations, less commonly the gifts they bestowed. I said “gifts” because if they were not benefactions, we would have blown up Hetch-Hetchy dam, turned off the juice from the Morro Bay or Moss Landing power plants, or passed on driving on the 99. Has our generation improved test scores, or created safer streets? Is air travel so much better than forty years ago? When one walks into the DMV, or the county assessor’s office, are the employees so much more polite and competent than in the past?

So I am baffled by the paradox that our present generation is the most critical in our history of its predecessors, and yet in so many areas so clearly wanting. When I meet a contractor, go to a car dealer’s shop, or scan a government bureau, I instinctively look for the “old person,” that is, some man or woman over 60 (and preferably over 70) of any race or class or gender, whose quite different assumptions about life might permeate the work force, or whose greater expertise might rub off on others. When he is absent, chaos seems to reign. The tragedy of the entire university, postmodern race/class/gender writ against past Americans is the fact that our generation has little to show for its moral posturing. When Obama lists our sins from Hiroshima to supposed genocide, I wonder how he would have managed a wagon train, or what he would have done when facing the horrific choices of either sending the napalm-carrying B-29s over Japan or invading the island to trump an Okinawa ten times over. Would he have voted present?

Hike update:

Our annual hike will begin this Saturday at 7AM at the Badger Flat Camp Campground, on the right side of the road, 4.6 miles on Kaiser Pass Road after turning right off 168 at the entrance to Huntington Lake. We will hike about 2 hours to Twin Lakes, rest, and then two hours back — much less strenuous than last year’s Kaiser Peak (10,300 ft.) climb.


Next year’s river cruise from Basel to Amsterdam, followed by a fast train to London, is filling fast. We will offer 9 formal lectures from Bruce Thornton, Ken Jowett, and myself, as well as a 10th in London to be announced -- covering topics as diverse as the Rhine in Roman history, the Alsace-Lorraine in World War I and II, the 8th Air Force bombing of Germany, the battles at the Remagen bridge, and the Arnheim campaign, and larger political and strategic topics such as the allure of appeasement and the traditions of European statism, as well as local lectures on Rhineland castles, cathedrals, and museums. We will go back to past practice of disseminating columns to be published by the speakers, at morning breakfasts, where in the past we have had robust arguments about them. Information on the trip can be found at Works and Days.


I don’t know much about James Wolcott, have never mentioned him in print, and don’t know anything he has written -- a book, column, essay -- except from time to time readers send me a post in Vanity Fair in which he attacks me for some such reason. Usually his postings are crass, poorly written, and unimaginative, and they seem to have little value other than offering revelations of the psychodramas and angsts of a small insular class of admittedly irrelevant and talentless New York insiders.

This week he posted:

Meanwhile, also over at the Corner, Victor Davis Hanson--let me begin by saying that I haven't read the Roman orator in awhile and if his writing gets any gassier, he'll be able to blow Jonah's farts for him, and you can quote me on that.

He then ignores that Corner post — that Obama’s regulations, talk of redistributive taxes, efforts to stymie Boeing or the Chrysler creditors, invectives against “millionaires and billionaires,” crony capitalism and preferences for some over others, etc. — had all combined to create a psychological climate that had scared or angered businesses into inaction that otherwise had the stored capital to start hiring again. Again, Wolcott ignored that argument and instead had this infantile observation (his quotes are in italics and mine are in bold that he reproduces):

Anyway, in a little primer called "How to Turn a Recovery into Another Recession," one of the items is,

Be selective in targeting capitalist enemies of the people. The conservative Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch are grasping and greedy; the speculators George Soros and Warren Buffett or the very richest Americans like Bill Gates, or non-income-tax paying companies like GE are public-minded and humane.

I don't know about "humane," but I don't believe that Soros and company ever hacked the phone of an abducted teenager who was later discovered murdered or foisted rabid conspiracy nutters like Glenn Beck and Pamela Geller on the public airwaves, so perhaps there's a case for select targeting and drawing distinctions.

I have no idea what Wolcott is trying to convey other than he seems ignorant of the fact that George Soros is a currency speculator who made over a billion by nearly ruining the Bank of England and its depositors -- a tact he used even more lucratively elsewhere as well. He was convicted of felonious insider trading in France, and that conviction was upheld by an appellate court -- and such hyper-capitalist speculation oddly goes almost unmentioned by the progressive community that is so quick to cite currency manipulation and speculation. The point was clearly one of consistency and hypocrisy -- that had Soros been politically akin to the Kochs or Murdoch then he would now be facing the same level of furor. Nothing need be added to the conduct of Media Matters and Soros's other efforts.