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Suborning the Scientists

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Never Misunderestimate

by Christopher Chantrill
November 23, 2003 at 7:00 pm


IF WINSTON Churchill had said: “Never, never, never, never misunderestimate your adversary” instead of never to give in, it still wouldn’t have helped the Bush-haters.  After all, they said that Coolidge was a fool, Eisenhower was half asleep, and Reagan an amiable dunce.  Will they never learn?

But I am not afraid to give a little advice to the other side.  Here it is, liberals. Don’t misunderestimate George W. Bush.

Oh, I understand why you can’t stand the guy.  You thought that you had finally turned the corner on reading middle-class white guys out of the culture.  You thought that you had ended the era of force and power politics, ushering in the new multinational era of diplomacy and negotiation.  Because violence never solves anything, and you can’t solve social problems unless you are able to decenter yourself and put yourself in the place of the Social Other.

So when George W. Bush went to visit the Queen, you were all ready with the sneers.  Give that speechwriter an award, you said as Bush spelled out his strategy against terror one more time, to an audience in the Banqueting Hall just up Whitehall from Downing Street.  Yes, his handlers did quite a good job, didn’t they, making him sound articulate and charming to an invited audience of foreign policy analysts.  Har de har har.

Maybe it’s because I’ve braved the frowns of the liberal bookstore clerks over the years to read a little about war and strategy that I’ve developed a different take on men and affairs.  Sorry, liberals, I just don’t get the feeling that Bush is a dunce.  When I watch Bush at work, I get the feeling of a strategic mind at work.  I see a man sure of his goal, used to assessing the situation, taking advice, weighing the options, and making a strategic decision.

The thing about strategy is that you don’t see it until it’s over.  You watch the Allied forces battling on the beachhead in Normandy and they finally break through on the right and drive to Avranches.  A couple of days it all becomes clear when a little French village gets its fifteen minutes of fame as the Third Army of General Patton races around the German army to close the Falaise Gap.

Take the tax cut issue.  In 2001, Bush wasn’t able to get a tax cut that took effect immediately.  Congress wasn’t ready to sign away all that lovely revenue, not till the out years.  So Bush took what he could get.  Two years later the strategic situation had change, and the conventional wisdom was outraged that the economy still wasn’t cooking.  Something must be done!  OK, says Bush.  How about we bring all the tax cuts forward so that they take effect right now?  Shazam! Says Wall Street, and Krugman watchers start making book on how many times he will say that tax cuts never work before the economy proves him wrong.

The truth is that you liberals have become lazy.  Ensconced in your sinecures, you can afford to be out of touch.  You can sneer at malls, at church, family, and stay-at-home moms, because you can afford to.  You have tenure and nobody can touch you.  So the Clintons won the 1992 election and threw it all away with the strategic blunder of Hillarycare.  Al Gore threw away the 2000 election with a narrow message appealing to the Democratic base by Fighting for the People Against the Powerful.

And as you lose election after election, you start to sound like nineteenth century Tory squires.  How ungrateful Americans are, you whine.  Sixty years ago, we saved the little people in the New Deal, and now their children can afford to vote Republican. 

Meanwhile, deep in the White House, Karl Rove is hatching up a plan to carve off another chunk of Democratic votes.

You liberals are selfish.  You only think about yourselves, making the world safe for well-educated liberal scions to live a life of creative ease, cooking up theories of how many marginalized communities you can count on the head of a pin.

Wake up liberals!  Forget your fashionable diversions! Bush and Rove are stealing your lunch!  It’s time to think about what the American people want.  Good jobs (for Americans as well as well-connected liberals).  Affordable housing (for Americans as well as trust-fund liberals).  Good schools (based on the astonishing idea that mothers get to choose the school their kids attend).  Good marriages (between a man and a woman).  Better transportation (that means roads for the 90 percent of Americans who drive to work).  Civil society (that means we don’t solve every social problem with a government program run by liberals).  Oh, and then there’s the radical notion of reforming Social Security and Medicare.

If you don’t work on these problems, Bush will.  You know, the guy who can’t speak right.


Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990

Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures

German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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