Quote of the Day

It is not good to settle into a set of opinions. It is a mistake to put forth effort and obtain some understanding and then stop at that. At first putting forth great effort to be sure that you have grasped the basics, then practicing so that they may come to fruition is something that will never stop for your whole lifetime. Do not rely on following the degree of understanding that you have discovered, but simply think, “This is not enough.”

—Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Quote of the Day

Sed fortuna, quae plurimum potest cum in reliquis rebus tum praecipue in bello, parvis momentis magnas rerum commutationes efficit; ut tum accidit. Fortune, which has a great deal of power in other matters but especially in war, can bring about great changes in a situation through very slight forces.

—Julius Caesar

Quote of the Day

There is no constitutional or legal requirement that the President shall take the oath of office in the presence of the people, but there is so manifest an appropriateness in the public induction to office of the chief executive officer of the nation that from the beginning of the Government the people, to whose service the official oath consecrates the officer, have been called to witness the solemn ceremonial. The oath taken in the presence of the people becomes a mutual covenant.

—Benjamin Harrison

Quote of the Day

There are strident voices, urging resistance to law in the name of freedom. They are not seeking freedom for themselves, they have it. They are seeking to enslave others. Their works are evil. They know it. They must be resisted. The evil they represent must be overcome by the good others represent. Their ideas, which are wrong, for the most part imported, must be supplanted by ideas which are right. This can be done. The meaning of America is a power which cannot be overcome.

—Calvin Coolidge

Our Betters and Vogons

We Deplorables just won’t get in line and follow the dictates from Our Betters. In 2016, we rebelled and vote in Brexit and elected Donald Trump. Now, we’ve messed with the stock market via L’Affaire GameStop.

Our Betters’ reactions to our various rebellious activities remind me of some characters from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—the Vogons.

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. The best way to get a drink out of a Vogon is to stick your finger down his throat, and the best way to irritate him is to feed his grandmother to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. On no account should you allow a Vogon to read poetry at you.

There are similarities, and there are differences. For example, the poetry (and a staggering majority of other art) being published by Our Betters today isn’t very good, and Our Betters would mostly rather virtue signal than actually get their hands dirty. And as for bureaucracy, it’s Our Betters who make up the Deep State and almost all of Big Tech. The Vogons scream, “Resistance is useless,” at their prisoners. Our Betters shutdown our social media accounts.

The principal difference I see is that the Vogons aren’t actually evil. I’m not sure that can be said for a significant group among Our Betters.

BTW, resistance isn’t useless. The four years of the Trump Administration provide some real benefits such as lower unemployment, real growth in wages, and a cohort to judges who believe in following the law. The GameStop stock deals turned the tables on some Wall Street insiders, doing to them what they believed they had the right to do to retail investors. I’ve got no idea what the next act of rebellion will be, but it will come.

Stay tuned.

On Overreach

I suspect that the Democrats will have a brief but spectacular run at messing up the economy or getting us into some nasty foreign entanglement. In a burst of overreach not unlike the passing of Obamacare (“We have to pass the bill in order to find out what’s in it.”), they will quickly find themselves in a-bridge-too-far land. It’s inevitable because they simply cannot follow the wisdom in Oscar Wilde’s bon mot: “One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards.” They cheat even when they don’t have to.

The next couple of years are going to be brutal. The following two won’t be much better.

LARPing at Leadership

One on the most effective political cartoonists of the middle of the 20th century was Herbert Block who drew under the name of Herblock for the Washington Post. He always gave his caricature of Richard Nixon five o’clock shadow. Herblock clearly despised Nixon, but the day after the 1968 election, he published the cartoon on the left as a way of congratulating Nixon on winning the election. It wasn’t long before the five o’clock shadow reappeared.

Here at Hogewash!, I run every new president’s name through the spell checker for one post.

I’ve seen comments to the effect that Donald Trump was the most divisive president in history or at least in recent history, and that Joe Biden has an opportunity to bring the country back together again. Unity seems to be a big buzzword on the Left these days. I don’t have much hope for such healing.

First, trying to paint Trump as a particularly divisive president is counterfactual. Trump was elected as a response to the divisive politics of the Obama administration much as Nixon was elected in response to the divisive politics of the Johnson administration and Lincoln was elected in response to the divisive politics of the Buchanan administration. BTW, an argument can be made that while Lincoln was among our greatest presidents, he was THE most divisive. His election triggered the Civil War.

But back to 2021.

At least 74,000,000 Americans voted against Joe Biden, and many, perhaps the majority, of them don’t believe that Biden actually won. The Left’s making lists of Trump supporters and talking of reeducation camps isn’t going to help depolarize the country, and it’s up to the new president to show some leadership by engaging respectfully with his political opponents and insisting that his supporters do likewise. I don’t see any indication of such behavior.

Indeed, his initial round of personnel appointments and some of his acts on his first day of the job lead me to believe that he’s the same Joe Biden who has spent almost fifty years as a hack pretending to be a political leader.

Because I want America to be successful, I wish Joe Biden and his administration success in doing well for the country. I wish I had more hope.

Quote of the Day

We live in a time of transition, an uneasy era which is likely to endure for the rest of this century. During the period we may be tempted to abandon some of the time-honored principles and commitments which have been proven during the difficult times of past generations. We must never yield to this temptation. Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities— not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.

—Jimmy Carter

A Failure of Our Betters to Do Good

Note: This is a guest post by Dianna Deeley who has recently joined Stacy McCain and me as a full-time member of The Other Podcast crew. Dianna operates a consulting business that provides advice to not-for profits organization.

A friend of mine linked this story on Facebook—it’s the story of what another friend describes as the “Make It Very, Very, Wrong Foundation.”

Brad Pitt’s Make it Right was established in 2008 to rebuild the 9th Ward of New Orleans, a neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The mission statement from Make it Right’s 2015 990-PF (the last 990 available) reads: Development of affordable green homes in economically challenged areas. Just as an aside, $130,000 seems a little steep for an affordable home.

Ground was broken on the first homes in 2008, and by 2015 Make It Right had spent over $26 million on the development. Building stopped by early 2016, as complaints about the design and construction of some of the houses began to surface.

Award-winning architects were turned loose, and a “green” builder was hired. At a minimum, $26 million has been spent, and at least two of the houses have been demolished, with complaints being lodged over the design and construction of the rest. Lawsuits are flying. Neighbors are furious, and residents would like some repairs done.

This is an utterly predictable fiasco. The intentions were great; the money was no object; the development was going to be a great and glorious topic of discussion at Hollywood cocktail parties; and all would be well. It’s drearily predictable—all sizzle, no steak.

If the endeavor had started with a little humility, and worked with agencies that build affordable homes (offhand, there’s Habitat for Humanity and Mercy Housing South), some respect for Murphy, and some serious due diligence, this might have been money well-spent. Unleashing celebrity architects to create a bunch of blue-sky designs was a terrible thing—the buildings may be architecturally stunning, but don’t serve the needs of people who are living in them. Finally, it would have been wise to hire the construction firms who build upper middle class housing in the area.

Instead, the COO hired to run the show is an authority on renewable energy and has an MBA in finance (which is reassuring when very large amounts of money are being slung about!) but no previous construction experience. In other words, they hired someone who would have been a terrific consultant for energy efficiency but is the wrong choice to be in charge of the foundation.

There was a construction manager. I cannot discover what he was managing during construction, because on completion, the roofs leaked, the foundations … weren’t foundational, the gas meters were installed improperly, and the buildings started rotting pretty much immediately. This is not good management.

Also, when a new, green, product is offered (See: TimberSIL), it might be wise, rather than leaping on it with great enthusiasm, perhaps to test it initially on one building, like, say, a community center, in which no one lives. When you know how well it works, consider using more of it. But no one ever seems to have mentioned this concept to the foundation.

There are about 385 non-government funders who give in the New Orleans area, at least 50 of which build housing as part of their mission. No, the Make It Right’s board wouldn’t have gotten as many plaudits on their wonderful, daring new buildings, but the houses would not be falling down about the owners’ ears, and there would not be any lawsuits. Or, given the way we operate these days, at least a lot fewer lawsuits! If they’d actually built houses right, the foundation’s board could still be looking for new and wonderful projects that need the kind of money and clout that a foundation like Make It Right should have.

UDATE—Some typos corrected.

Exposing Rot

There’s a post by Ben Weingarten over at American Greatness about what he sees as Trump’s Greatest Achievement: Trump has exposed the  rot and corruption that pervades the American system.

For four years, President Trump has achieved major victories in the face of this opposition, making the country richer and stronger than it was when he assumed office.

But his greatest achievement has been boldly and courageously standing up to this wounded bear of a ruling class, which has now shown America its true face. Americans’ eyes are now irrevocably open to what has become of their country, and what must be overcome to take it back.

President Trump’s predecessors—Truman on the bureaucracy, or Eisenhower on the military-industrial complex, or Nixon on the corrupted media—scratched the surface of the challenges we face. But none exposed it so openly, and in such breadth and depth.

If the history is written by the ultimate victors—and the house almost always wins—it may well be that this entire story is missed. Certainly, it will be misrepresented, warped, and glossed over in the most outrageous of ways. It will probably be censored too.

Nevertheless, we must write it: For posterity, and for our fellow countrymen, in the here and now, more motivated than ever before to reclaim this land we love.

As Andrew Breitbart noted, politics is downstream from culture, and over the last six or so decades, the credentialed middle class has become more disconnected from the bulk of American society and began to view themselves as superior to the deplorables whose lives they rule by virtue of their positions in the bureaucracy, the media, and certain privileged professions.

Charles Murray pointed out in his book Coming Apart that as Our Betters led American society away from such virtues as marriage, industriousness, religiosity, and honesty, they still held on to some of those virtues themselves. College educated folks are now significantly more likely to marry and stay married, raising children in intact families, than are the population as whole. They work hard, often administrating or enabling the welfare state. They tend to have a religious focus for their lives—if not a traditional religion, then some marxist replacement. But they have given up on the epistemological underpinnings of Western logic, so they often view Truth as malleable, making consistently honest behavior unlikely if not impossible.

Trump pulled the bandage off the scab. Will we properly treat the wound?

BTW, the link above will take you to Amazon’s listing for Coming Apart. As an Amazon Associate, I can earn from qualifying purchases.