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  • Selected Posts from 2013, continued

    Posted by David Foster on January 3rd, 2014 (All posts by )

    Western Civilization and the First World War…with a very good comment thread.

    The Power of Metaphor and Analogy.

    The Normalization of Abusive Government.

    Would You Trust Your Financial Future to This Woman? Patty Murray, a U.S. Senator and an obvious moron and the quotes in this post clearly demonstrate…is head of the Senate Budget Committee.

    Whose Interests Will Jack Lew be Representing? There were some rather interesting clauses in the Treasury Secretary’s employment agreement with Citigroup.

    Time Travel. Some personal connections with the past.



    8 Responses to “Selected Posts from 2013, continued”

    1. Jim Miller Says:

      Just a follow-up on your Patty Murray post. The Seattle Times said, in an end of the year round up, that they would really like to see her become Senate Majority Leader. (And I have to admit that she would be better than Harry Reid — who is the worst Senate leader in my life time.)

      I should post about that ST editorial, but won’t make any promises.

      Incidentally, a few years ago, the Seattle Times, to their credit, looked at her aides. They found that many of them worked a few years for her, and then went to a big-bucks lobbying shop. Granted, that happens in many other congressional offices, but hers was one of the worst that way.

    2. Anonymous Says:

      “They found that many of them worked a few years for her, and then went to a big-bucks lobbying shop.”

      Indeed, this seems to be the common career path in “public service” today. The attacks by Democrats on “the rich” in the private sector are largely a deception maneuver to distract attention from the increasing grab of national wealth which is being conducted by the “public service” class and its allies.

    3. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Instapundit has been advocating for a revolving door tax on politicians and aides cashing in but it has small chance of ever happening. He also is in favor of a Hollywood tax and that might be a better bet if the GOP takes Congress.

    4. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I noticed one comment from the World War I post.

      And a lot of these struggles had representation on the battlefield as well. Consider, for example, the average British soldier who is part of the underclass and has been forcibly conscripted into the army. He does his best to keep his head down and follow orders, but he is often commanded by officers who have come from the British upper class and who have very little skill in warfare.

      Conscription did not occur in Britain until 1916, two years after the war began. Also, the young officers were among the highest percentage of casualties. The generals did, indeed, spend much time in the rear echelons and there was a strong sense that they were incompetent, but that did not apply to the young officers, the flower of the upper classes.

      There is an excellent book about JRR Tolkein that describes his and his friends’ war experiences.

    5. david foster Says:

      Michael K…but who would have been more likely to have strong tactical and leadership skills?…a recent Oxford graduate…however committed and personally courageous…or a long-service sergeant who had served in Britain’s colonial wars and had real combat experience?

      Without intending any disrespect to the courage of the young front-line officers…many, perhaps most, of whom did not survive long enough to develop their skills “on the job”…surely it is true that the class system in Britain deprived the troops of many prospective excellent leaders. As was also true, of course, in civilian spheres of life.

    6. Michael Kennedy Says:

      The British Army before WWI was very small and functioned more as a colonial constabulary. The Boer War was not much of a recommendation for leadership in subsequent years. I was chiefly referring to the statement in the other comment about officers remaining in the rear areas, which was just not true about junior officers who were mostly from the aristocracy. Tolkein certainly wasn’t but they were the elite all the same.

      The great professional French Army was even more incompetent, if possible. They had mutinies after which poilus were shot “pour encourager les autres.” The German army was always more professional than those of the democracies but the Prussian society emphasized military training.

      The class system in Britain did not affect the competence of the army nearly as much as it did in the Napoleonic period. The British Navy has always been far more professional than the army. I believe it was also less subject to class distinction but certainly the press gangs of the Napoleonic period were not class levelers.

    7. dearieme Says:

      “but who would have been more likely to have strong tactical and leadership skills?…a recent Oxford graduate…however committed and personally courageous…or a long-service sergeant”: I think you’ve completely missed the point of how tiny the British Army was before the war. It wasn’t a case of either/or, it was a case of both. Huge numbers of NCOs were commissioned; hells bells, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff 1916-1918 had started life as a village boy who had joined up as a private in 1877. Still you needed young men straight out of school or university Cadet Corps as officers because there was nobody else. Our professional army was destroyed in 1914-15, our volunteers died in droves in 1915-1916, and conscription wasn’t introduced until March ’16; presumably it then took months to organise the call-up and train the first batches of conscripts. Almost everyone had to learn their job as they went along because of the casualty rates. One cost of promoting so many NCOs to officers was that, inevitably, you then had only very old boys to train the early recruits. The whole affair was four years of improvisation. It was quite remarkable that, in the face of all these difficulties, it was the British Army that devised and mastered all-arms fighting and, eventually, just, won the war.

    8. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “it was the British Army that devised and mastered all-arms fighting and, eventually, just, won the war.”

      Churchill’s tank helped.

      The English attack at Cambrai for the first time revealed the possibilities of a great surprise attack with tanks. We had had previous experience of this weapon in the spring offensive, when it had not made any particular impression. However, the fact that the tanks had now been raised to such a pitch of technical perfection that they could cross our undamaged trenches and obstacles did not fail to have a marked effect on our troops.

      The physical effects of fire from machine-guns and light ordnance with which the steel Colossus was provided were far less destructive than the moral effect of its comparative invulnerability. The infantryman felt that he could do practically nothing against its armoured sides. As soon as the machine broke through our trench-lines, the defender felt himself threatened in the rear and left his post.