Friday, April 29, 2022

"Vigorous organisms talk not about their processes, but about their aims. “

One tweet that cuts to the heart of the fatal flaw of NeverTrump. "Vigorous organisms talk not about their processes, but about their aims. “ 

The whole thread is well worth pondering.

GK Chesterton:

When everything about a people is for the time growing weak and ineffective, it begins to talk about efficiency. So it is that when a man's body is a wreck he begins, for the first time, to talk about health. Vigorous organisms talk not about their processes, but about their aims. There cannot be any better proof of the physical efficiency of a man than that he talks cheerfully of a journey to the end of the world. And there cannot be any better proof of the practical efficiency of a nation than that it talks constantly of a journey to the end of the world, a journey to the Judgment Day and the New Jerusalem. There can be no stronger sign of a coarse material health than the tendency to run after high and wild ideals; it is in the first exuberance of infancy that we cry for the moon. None of the strong men in the strong ages would have understood what you meant by working for efficiency. Hildebrand would have said that he was working not for efficiency, but for the Catholic Church. Danton would have said that he was working not for efficiency, but for liberty, equality, and fraternity.
The populist right often often taunts the establishment wing with the jab-- “What has Conservative, Inc. actually conserved?” The French Davidian wing's obsession with processes and “norms” suggest that they recognize that conserving anything of substance and value is beyond their power.

Oddly enough they are certain of one thing. Though they may be weak, exhausted, frightened, and out of ideas, they still presume that they are the natural and ordained leaders of the American right.

Is it any wonder that so many red state conservatives view them as Cromwell viewed the Rump Parliament?

It is not fit that you should sit here any longer. You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing lately … In the name of God go.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Tories contra Chicago

Thomas Carlyle:
If the cotton industry is founded on the bodies of rickety children, it must go; if the devil gets in you cotton-mill, shut the mill.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
You talk about making this article cheaper by reducing its price in the market from 8d to 6d. But suppose in doing so you have rendered your cvountry weaker against a foreign foe; suppose you have demoralized thousands of your fellow-countrymen, and have sown discontent between one class of society and another, your article is tolerably dear, I take it, after all.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Rejoice! He has risen!

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

And they remembered his words,

And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

Luke 24: 1-12

Friday, April 15, 2022

"Wood and nails and colored eggs"

First Posted 22 March 2005 ​

This passage from Martin Bell's remarkable little book The Way of the Wolf: The Gospel in New Images seems especially timely this Easter season.

God raised Jesus from the dead to the end that we should be clear-once and for all-that there is nothing more important than being human. Our lives have eternal significance. And no one-absolutely no one-is expendable.

Colored Eggs

Some human beings are fortunate enough to be able to color eggs on Easter. If you have a pair of hands to hold the eggs, or if you are fortunate enough to be able to see the brilliant colors, then you are twice blessed.

This Easter some of us cannot hold the eggs, others of us cannot see the colors, many of us are unable to move at all-and so it will be necessary to color the eggs in our hearts.

This Easter there is a hydrocephalic child lying very still in a hospital bed nearby with a head the size of his pillow and vacant, unmoving eyes, and he will not be able to color Easter eggs, and he will not be able to color Easter eggs in his heart, and so God will have to color eggs for him.

And God will color eggs for him. You can bet your life and the life of the created universe on that.

At the cross of Calvary God reconsecrated and sanctified wood and nails and absurdity and helplessness to be continuing vehicles of his love. And then he simply raised Jesus from the dead. And they both went home and colored eggs

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Palm Sunday

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

GK Chesterton

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Is strategy non-essential?

A provocative post by the always interesting Ad Contrarian:

The Luxury Of Strategy

Tactics can often be a matter of life and death, while strategy is often a luxury. As Mike Tyson once said, "Everyone has a strategy until they get hit."

Having spent centuries in the ad business, one thing I learned is that the tactical always seems to drive out the strategic. When the rubber meets the road, and decisions about spending money have to be made, if financial resources are scarce, the tactical always wins.

One of the most powerful and unrecognized benefits of a successful brand is the financial wherewithal to support both tactical and strategic advertising. Most businesses don't have the means to do this.

Strategy is the advantage of the wealthy.

He's not exactly wrong, but the weight of history seems to be on the other side of the question.
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In the end, competence in strategy and policy is the most important component in the success or failure in the conduct of war over the past 400 years. As the author and his colleague, Allan Millett, have noted about the first half of the twentieth century, “it is more important to make correct decisions at the political and strategic level than it is at the operational and tactical level. Mistakes in operations and tactics can be corrected, but political and strategic mistakes live for ever.”
Wm. Murray, War, Strategy and Military Effectiveness
This is not to underestimate the importance of the short-term and the tactical. Successful leaders have always understood the need to balance the short-term and long-term.

Any statesman is in part the prisoner of necessity. He is confronted with an environment he did not create, and is shaped by a personal history he can no longer change. It is an illusion to believe that leaders gain in profundity while they gain experience. As I have said, the convictions that leaders have formed before reaching high office are the intellectual capital they will consume as long as they continue in office. There is little time for leaders to reflect. They are locked in an endless battle in which the urgent constantly gains on the important. The public life of every political figure is a continual struggle to rescue an element of choice from the pressure of circumstances.
Henry Kissinger

What distinguishes leaders who have attempted to develop and execute a grand strategy is their focus on acting beyond the demands of the present. In other words, they have taken a longer view than simply reacting to the events of the day. Nor have they concentrated on only one aspect of the problem. Instead, in times of war, while they may have focused on the great issue confronting them, such as Lincoln's effort to maintain the Union in the great Civil War that enveloped North America, that vision has recognized the political, economic, and diplomatic framework within which the conflict was taking place.

Thus, those who develop a successful grand strategy never lose sight of the long-term goal, whatever that may be, but are willing to adapt to the difficulties of the present in reaching toward the future.

Williamson Murray, The Shaping of Grand Strategy
Lincoln critically assessed costs, neither brushing them aside – like Napoleon in Russia – nor dreading them to the point of immobility –- like Union army generals before Grant. He relied on experience, incrementally accumulated, to show what worked, not on categories, professorially taught, to say what should.
John Lewis Gaddis, On Grand Strategy

Making strategy in the real world

Smart talk on strategy
So how can we reconcile these two propositions? How can Ad Contrarian's analysis be on the money if strategy is not a luxury but absolutely essential?
Part of the answer can be found in an old Borscht-belt joke. To restate it for our purposes:
To the client you're a strategist, to the agency you're a strategist. But to a strategist, you're no strategist.

We know that they are not strategists because their solutions ignore the short-term imperative that their clients face. A strategy is a map from here/now to there/future/better. What matters is the path forward. Too often advertising strategists ignore the path and just emphasize the beautiful, desired end-state.

That isn't strategy--- it is hope repackaged as sales hype.

Conquest's Law definitely applies.

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Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14

Sunday, October 31, 2021

The robust hypocrisy of white SJWs

Someone should ask Robin DiAngelo about this.

Their Sin, Your Penance

It is also significant that fervent identitarianism, which Azerrad correctly describes as a secular version of sin and redemption, is described as transformative but enacted in ways that are merely performative. There are no known examples of any white liberal giving up a tenured professorship or syndicated column so that the vacancy may be filled by a member of an oppressed, under-represented minority group. Though tormented by complicity in the oppression of victims, white liberals reliably devise penances that will be performed by other people. Their ferocity in denouncing housing discrimination, for example, is matched by their resourcefulness in keeping low-income housing out of liberal enclaves like Marin County, California.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The more things change ...

Winston Churchill, St. George's Day speech (1933):

The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within…. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength. Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come from the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large proportion of our politicians.… Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told.

Monday, August 09, 2021

A confederacy of (sinister) dunces

Or maybe a conspiracy of sorts

Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies -- Honore de Balzac

They are one of the most unpleasant races in the Galaxy. Not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders – signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters. – Douglas Adams

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":

First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization. – Jerry Pournelle

Q: Which group shows up on cable news shows as “respected” experts?


The system they are defending has failed America repeatedly. From Iraq to the 2008 financial crisis to the opioid epidemic to China to the COVID pandemic – their system has produced death, impoverishment, misery and despair.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Following in Russia's Footsteps

The revolution of Peter the Great replaced the obsolete squirearchy of Russia -- with a European bureaucracy; everything that could be copied from the Swedish and German laws. everything that could be taken over from the free municipalities of Holland into our half communal, half absolutist country, was taken over. But the unwritten, the moral check on power, the instinctive recognition of the rights of man, of the rights of thought, of truth, could not be and were not imported.

Aleksandr Herzen, From the Other Shore (1855)
Russian reformers did not (or could not) recognize the intangible values and beliefs that represented the essential underpinnings of the liberal West and its modern economy. This, ironically, is a fairly common modern bias. Scholars and bureaucrats focus on what can be counted, graphed, and diagrammed. Those things that do not yield easily to those modes of analysis are ignored, dismissed, and disparaged.

But this is not about Russia's failure to become a liberal nation or modern society.

No, what is striking about the West in 2021 is that we have, for a variety of reason, forgotten and discarded so many of those habits and principles that are the foundation of our liberty and the engines of our economic success. What is wrong with our civilization can be said with one word — unreality. We are in no danger either from the vices or the virtues of vikings; we are in danger of forgetting all facts, good and bad, in a haze of high-minded phraseology.

G. K. Chesterton
Herzen was a Russian intellectual, an exile, and a socialist. Yet his diagnosis of Russia's problem is almost identical to that of Astolphe-Louis-LĂ©onor, Marquis de Custine – a French aristocrat and enemy of the Revolution. When Custine travelled to the Tsar's realm he was struck by the pervasive, active unreality of the place. Truth was something to be feared and avoided.

For all the Romanovs's evident piety and the Tsar's public orthodoxy, the Russian regime was soul-crushing. Custine meant this literally: To him “the two greatest gifts of God” were “the soul and the speech that communicates it.” In Russia honest speech was dangerous, hence rare. As a result souls withered.

Theodore Dalrymple:

People became hypocritical, cunning, mistrustful, cynical, silent, cruel, and indifferent to the fate of others as a result of the destruction of their own souls. Moreover, the upkeep of systematic untruth requires a network of spies: indeed, it requires that everyone become a spy and potential informer.

If Custine were among us now, he would recognise the evil of political correctness at once, because of the violence that it does to people’s souls by forcing them to say or imply what they do not believe but must not question. Custine would demonstrate to us that, without an external despot to explain our pusillanimity, we have willingly adopted the mental habits of people who live under a totalitarian dictatorship.

A century passes. Russia has its own Revolution. The Tsar is no more. And yet some things remain the same:

Sir Isiah Berlin was an often astute observer who spent time in FDR's Washington and in the Soviet Union during the peak of Stalin's Terror. As historian John Lewis Gaddis notes the contrast was stark and immediately discernible:

America and Russia differed, he could now see, not just in geographies, histories, cultures, and capabilities, but also, critically, in necessary ecologies. One thrived on cacophony. The other demanded silence.
As Dalrymple notes, a great number of ostensible leaders in the West seem eager to create a regime in which everybody must either affirm lies or remain silent.

Custine was scathing about the public art and architecture of St. Petersburg. The city had its grandeur, but it was built on an inhuman scale. By design the individual was made to feel insignificant and isolated. Many of the governmental offices were magnificent but to Custine that meant they were “temples erected to clerks”.

Exhausting the resources of the country, they only bolstered the power of the state without elevating the self-confidence of the people.... The state swelled up; the people grew lean.

Vasily Klyuchevsky
In the West the clerks have gradually morphed from public servants to a privileged Mandarin class.

It was not always so.

Making (Big) government work

La Guardia the crusading and compassionate liberal was also in the habit, when he witnessed city workers great or small behaving incompetently, of firing them on the spot. (Sample story: He finds a group of park workers lounging during working hours. He fires sixty of them for "loitering.") The city is to be run tautly, seriously, and whining drives La Guardia the crusading liberal crazy. I pay no attention, he declares, to "political whiners." Merit is a sacred idea to La Guardia the compassionate liberal.


When do disasters become catastrophes?

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