Res Ipsa Loquitur

That’s a Latin expression commonly used by lawyers. It means the thing speaks for itself, and it seems a fitting headline for a post on yesterday’s hearing on the Kavanaugh nomination. I was about to try writing something thoughtful about the event, but when I read a piece by Victor Davis Hanson over at NRO this morning, I found that he’d beaten me to the punch again. This is from his opening paragraph of a short essay about the accomplishments of the Trump administration—

The Brett Kavanaugh opening hearing turned into a progressive circus, with shouting would-be Democratic presidential candidates vying with screaming protesters to see who could be the most obnoxious. Ossified senior Democrat senators appeared bewildered how to match or somehow channel the street theater of activists on their left flank and ended up being sort of punked by their own protesters. It will be hard for network news to find a soundbite from all that to look presentable, given that democracy cannot function when elected officials join the mob.

The odds are overwhelmingly against the Democrats being able to stop the Kavanaugh nomination. Yesterday’s circus was and the succeeding days will be political theater aimed at energizing each parties “base” for the midterm elections. The tactical question for the Democrats should be whether they are energizing Trump’s voters more than their own.

The real thrust of VDH’s piece is contained in the first sentence: “Donald Trump in his Twitter storms apparently has no idea that he is winning.” Hanson would have Trump let his accomplishments speak for themselves rather than engage in such shameless self-promotion, He goes on to recite various economic and foreign policy achievements of the current administration, and concludes—

In other words, Trump’s superb foreign-policy team (Pompeo, Mattis, Bolton, and Haley) and his economic and judicial-appointments advisers have real accomplishments that reflect well on the Trump administration, and thus are driving the media and the Left into abject hysteria.

All this is missing is a little silent forbearance on Trump’s own part to allow both his achievements and his critics, respectively, to speak for themselves, without need of his Twitter editorialization.

It reminds one of the saloon-brawling scene in Shane, when the bloodied Joe Starrett and Shane keep beating up the Ryker outfit, apparently oblivious to their ongoing success — until the bartender shoos them out and orders them to quit brawling, with the verdict: “You’ve won.”

VDH is an insightful historian. Trump is an insightful marketer. It will be interesting to see how things play out.

Meanwhile. if you think the Democrats have gone crazy over this nomination, just wait until the next time Trump gets to nominate a Supreme Court justice and make the balance 6 to 3.

UPDATE—Stacy McCain comments on yesterday’s circus here.

Good Populism

Victor Davis Hanson is a classist and historian. That background is apparent in his post over at The New Criterion called The Good Populism. He points out that there have been two types of populism in the West since ancient times. One is populism of the urban mob—the Roman turba, the French Revolution, Antifa. The other is the populism of the middle class—the mesoi, the American Revolution, the Tea Party. Hanson suggests that it was the middle guy being feed up with the “elites” catering to the mob that paved the way for Donald Trump.

So Trump was a populist nemesis visited upon the hubris of the coastal culture. When he took on “fake news,” when he tweeted over the “crooked” media, when he railed about “globalists,” when he caricatured Washington politicians—and ranted non-stop, shrilly, and crudely—a third of the country felt that at last they had a world-beater who wished to win ugly rather than, as in the case of John McCain or Mitt Romney, lose nobly. As a neighbor put it to me of Trump’s opponents, “They all have it coming.”

The targets of Trump’s ire never quite understood that the establishment’s attacks on him, and their own entitled appeals to their greater sensitivity, training, experience, education, morality, class, and authority, were precisely the force multipliers that made Trumpism so appealing.

In 2016, pundits and experts had focused mostly on the populism of the race, class, and gender brand, and its would-be champions Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who sought to channel the new identity, youth, and feminist politics for their own advantage.

All had forgotten that there was also another populist tradition, lying dormant. It was a quieter but far more potent bomb just waiting to blow up—if someone ever would be so uncouth and angry enough to detonate it.

Read the whole thing.

I’m Confused

I thought that the President had taught constitutional law. If he had, he would surely know that Article II, Section 3 says of the President that

… he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed …

Doesn’t that mean enforcing the laws that Congress has put on the books as they are rather than as he’d like them to be?

Mr. President, the DREAM Act isn’t the law, and blanket “prosecutorial discretion” is not faithful execution of the law as it stands. One would almost think you’re pandering for votes–votes from non-citizens who’ve taken jobs from the 23,000,000 American still out of work because of your “stimulating” economic recovery.

UPDATE—Victor Davis Hanson is given to clear thinking and clear writing. He begins a post titled Are We in Revolutionary Times? at The Corner with these words:

Legally, President Obama has reiterated the principle that he can pick and choose which U.S. laws he wishes to enforce (see his decision to reverse the order of the Chrysler creditors, his decision not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, and his administration’s contempt for national-security confidentiality and Senate and House subpoenas to the attorney general). If one individual can decide to exempt nearly a million residents from the law — when he most certainly could not get the law amended or repealed through proper legislative or judicial action — then what can he not do? Obama is turning out to be the most subversive chief executive in terms of eroding U.S. law since Richard Nixon.

He ends with these words:

Give the president credit. He has thrown down the gauntlet and essentially boasted: This is my vision of the way the new America should work — and if you don’t like it, try stopping me in November, if you dare.

Go read the words in between.

Is it November yet?

Power—Always Was, Always Will Be

Victor Davis Hanson has a new essay up at PJ Media.

We are in the year four of our lord, when darkness was made light, the seas gently receded and the planet cooled. In the space of 24 hours, in January 2009 the world was turned upside down: massive deficits were no longer “unpatriotic”; 5% (heck, even 9%) unemployment was no longer to be seen as a “jobless recovery”; $4 plus gasoline no longer would become “intolerable”. Filibusters suddenly became ossified obstructionism. Recess appointments were now quite legitimate; lecturing the media about the myth of objective fairness was salutary. Pay for play time with the President was consulting; attacking the “unelected” courts was progressive. Voter fraud was not thugs eyeing polling monitors with clubs, but officials asking voters to present a picture ID—and mentioning any of these inconsistencies or writing about the Trostkyzation of American life was either racism or Palinism.

In 2012 we will learn whether there is a year 5 or 2013.

Read the whole thing!

Strangers in a Strange Land

Victor Davis Hanson has a post worth reading over at PJ Media called Strangers in a Stranger Land.

After reading it, I sense that Prof. Hanson does not grok President Obama’s “truth.”

These are the narratives that for purposes of social justice now become reality, but tomorrow, next week, next month, next year?
Who knows? “Truth,” after all, is not the Socratic absolute, but a socially constructed commodity, defined by power and predicated on race, class, and gender, concerns that can be made to serve the greater good, if adjudicated by — well, again, fill in the blanks.

Liberal Illiberalism

That’s the title of the current post Victor Davis Hanson has over at PJ Media. Here are the first and last paragraphs.

Conservatives are put into awkward positions of critiquing liberal ideas on grounds that they are impractical, unworkable or counterproductive. Yet rarely, at least outside the religious sphere, do they identify the progressive as often immoral. And the unfortunate result is that they have often ceded moral claims to supposedly dreamy, utopian, and well-meaning progressives, when in fact the latter increasingly have little moral ground to stand upon.

In other words, the only way to question these illiberal doctrines is without apology to identify them as immoral—and to welcome the hysterical reaction that ensues.

It would be worth your while to read what he has written in between.

We Have Met The Enemy, And We Are “Them”

Victor Davis Hanson adds an essay titled Are You Them? to his insightful body of writing. It begins:

Until the appearance of Barack Obama on the national scene, I knew of “them” only from an old sci-fi movie in which huge ants (“Them!”) ate people.

But there are new monsters in America, and I am starting to wonder whether I am to be considered among them: those of the uninvolved and uninformed lives, the bar-raisers, the downright mean ones, the never deserving of respect ones, the Vegas junketeers, the Super Bowl jet setters, the tuition stealers, the faux-Christians who do not pay higher taxes, the too much income makers, the tormenters of autistic children, the polluters, the enemies deserving of punishment, the targets to bring a gun against, the faces to get in front of, the limb-loppers, the tonsil pullers, the fat cats, the corporate jet owners, the one-percenters, the stupidly acting, the not paying their fair sharers, the discriminators on the “way you look”, the alligator raisers and moat builders, the vote deniers, the clingers, the typical something persons, the hunters of kids at ice cream parlors, the stereotypers and profilers, the cowards, the lazy and soft, the non-spreaders of money, the not my people people, the Tea party racists, the not been perfect and mistake makers, the disengaged and the dictating, the not the time to profiteers, the ones who did not know when to quit making money, and on and on.

My God, man, how did Barack Obama & Co. conjure up so many demons?

Continue reading

Ancient Virtures

Victor Davis Hanson has yet another excellent essay posted over at PJ Media called Ancient Virtues and Modern Sins. He writes on Candor, Irony, Physical Strength, Memory, and (this pleases me as an engineer) The Mechanical Mind. As you read the essay, you will see an example of a sixth ancient virtue, one that VDH is an exemplar of, Clarity.

As Michael Palin’s character in The Argument Sketch says, an argument is a connected series of statements to establish a definite proposition. So much of what we read and hear these days is simply muddled. Reading a well constructed essay that has a point and makes it coherently is a rare joy these days.

Read the whole thing.

Indulge Me

Johann Tetzel is not remembered fondly. He was the aggressive marketer of indulgences whose activity helped spur Luther’s break from the Catholic Church. Indulgences were often used by the rich to “wipe away” their guilt for oppressing the poor.

Francis of Assisi, on the other hand, has a much better reputation. He is remembered for telling his followers to preach the Gospel always and, if necessary, use words.

Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting essay about how modern liberalism has its own system of indulgences. I wish I could write so well and so clearly. Read the whole thing.

Five centuries ago, there was a strong reaction to the indulgences in the Church. Might we be headed for a similar revolution in the world of liberal politics?

Maybe Al Gore is the Johann Tetzel of our age.

Rage Explained

Victor Davis Hanson is the kind of Humanities prof that I was privileged to have while studying Engineering at Vanderbilt back in the ’60s. I wish my son’s college instructors were of the same caliber.

In a post at PJ Media (the new brand for what was Pajamas Media) he offers an excellent analysis of the OWS gang’s rage.

There is a deer-in-the-headlights paralysis in all those who believed that you could get a government subsidized $100,000 loan, receive easy As in environmental studies or sociology, buy a prestigious BA certificate, and then enter the lucrative world of the government bureaucracy — teaching, administering, suing, and regulating.

But it did not work that way (there is not room enough for all of us to champion the delta smelt, find insidious racism in the Detroit schools, shut down an oil pipeline, or sue Arizona). Instead, we are left with an energy-poor country sitting on energy riches, a moribund economy with millions in the private sector piling up cash rather than investing or hiring, and cohorts of young, flat-broke, indebted, and politically prepped but poorly schooled students wondering where is the good life and why a Wall Street fixer, or computer nerd, or company man civil engineer makes so much more than they, the anointed, do.

So they rage on — and on and on …

Read the whole thing.