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President Warren Harding – the real founder of the modern Republican Party (or the good bit of it anyway).

All most people know of Warren Harding is that he was corrupt – and all that most people know is wrong.

Although certainly no saint (he was a drinker, and a poker player, and a lover of women) Warren Harding was not personally corrupt – and his Administration was actually less corrupt than most. For example vastly less corrupt than the Administrations of Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman – and Hollywood and the rest of the media (and academia) do not present those Administrations as corrupt.

That is all the space I am going to waste on the so called “Ohio Gang” or “Tea Pot Dome” – people who are interested in such stuff can read a good biography of Harding (clue to what a good biography is – the author will not pretend Harding’s papers were destroyed, which is the standard “Progressive” excuse for not reading the documents and writing “history” based on nonsense instead). 0r they can just look at the chapter on Harding in the “Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents” by Steven F. Haywood (a good historian).

I am interested in other matters………

Today it is a common place among Republican politicians to talk of rolling-back-government – reducing the size of government, cutting taxes, getting rid of regulations, and reducing government spending.

Some (alas not enough) of these Republicans actually mean what they say – but WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

Republicans have not always promised smaller government – Republican Presidents (and Governors, and Senators and Congressmen and …..) did not use to make a big thing of this. One does not hear this in the speeches of Lincoln, or in Chester Allan Arthur. or Harrison, or Taft…….

These were not the big (peacetime) government fiends of Rothbardian fantasies – but they were not roll-back-the-state types either.

So where does it come from? This modern identification of the Republicans (sometimes correctly – sometimes NOT correctly) as the make-government-smaller party?

Basically it comes from one man.

WARREN HARDING.

Essentially Warren Harding created this role for the Republican Party – he invented the approach, he created the modern Republican Party (or the good bit of it anyway).

In his campaign against the Administration of Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding created all the themes we know today.

When you hear (for example) Senator Rand Paul speak (on civil liberties, on government spending, on ANYTHING) you are really hearing WARREN HARDING – Republicans did not tend to speak in this way before him (he, basically, invented it).

And Harding lived the dream – he made it real. And he was faithfully followed (in his policies) by his Vice President Calvin Coolidge (President Calvin Coolidge) and his Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon (anther viciously libelled man).

As the British historian Paul Johnson (in “Modern Times” – long before Ron Radash’s work on Harding) pointed out – Warren Harding actually did the things he said he was going to do.

He sincerely believed in Civil Liberties.

Warren Harding utterly opposed the politics of the Socialists and Communal Anarchists (the Red Flaggers and the Black Flaggers) – but (ironically) they were physically safer under Warren Harding than they were under the Progressive Woodrow Wilson.

President Harding would not tolerate people (even Reds) being sent to prison on trumped up charges – and if he found them already in prison, he would pardon them to get them of prison.

“The bastard must have done something. so what does it matter what we got him for – after all he would murder millions if he had the chance ” may appeal to nasty people (nasty people including, perhaps, ME), but it horrified Harding.

Harding was also horrified by censorship – or any other aspect of the Police State.

He was denounced as Pro German (totally false) for defending German Americans from persecution – German thinkers (as far back as the 1700s) may have worked on aspects of a “Police State” (see Hayek – “The Constitution of Liberty” and “Law, Legislation and Liberty”), but this did not mean that German Americans deserved to be persecuted by an American Police State.

And Warren Harding defended black people also.

He was born in 1865 the year of defeat for the Slave Power – and Warren Harding did not have the “benefit” of a Rothbardian education (based on the writings of Woodrow Wilson – oh yes that was the source Rothbard based his stuff on) that the Civil War was not “really” about slavery. The old men that Warren Harding knew in Marion Ohio had fought in the Civil War – but what did they know, they were not academics…..

The continued persecution of blacks (above all lynching) disgusted Warren Harding to the core of his being – and he denounced the persecution.

The Democrats (and some Republican Progressives, for racism was a Progressive doctrine then, indeed it still is – accept now Progressives stir up blacks against whites, rather than whites against blacks, the switch came in the 1960s and was quite sudden, but as the Dems control the media they got away with it ) replied by spreading rumours that Warren Harding was part black himself (a lie) – but he carried on.

Unlike Woodrow Wilson (a German style trained intellectual [see my first comment] – and “scientific” racist), Warren Harding (a man with little formal education) held that prices and wages should be set by supply and demand – not government orders.

This is why the crash of the post World War One Credit Bubble in 1920-1921 was not like the crash of 1929.

The crash was just as bad (although the Progressive academics have put it down the “Memory Hole”) but Warren Harding was not Herbert “The Forgotten Progressive” Hoover (a man who became conservative after he left office – having never been so before). Harding did not prevent wages and other prices (a wage is a price) adjusting to the crash – instead he got government out of the way (so mass unemployment was not a feature of year-after-year – as was under Hoover-Roosevelt,  for most of Roosevelt’s policies were started by Hoover).

So what did Warren Harding do?

He cut the Federal government in half – from about six billion Dollars spending in 1920 (a peacetime total) to about three billion Dollars only a couple of years later.

Yes prices were falling – but you try and do that. Cut government spending – dramatically.

No “fool” or “lazy man” could do what Warren Harding did - roll back the government on civil liberties, on taxation, or regulation, and on government spending itself.

That is what “normalcy” (and, contrary to ignorant leftists, “normalcy” was the correct American English in Webster’s dictionary when Harding was young) meant to Warren Harding.

Civil Society – where individuals and private associations (commercial companies, churches, clubs, fraternities……) could exist and thrive – and not have every day of their lives spent looking over their shoulder for the commands of the state. A government limited by the Constitution of the United States - in which Warren Harding believed (unlike Woodrow Wilson who despised it) and even physically saved (the physical document was falling apart when he became President – Warren Harding had preserved).

This (his belief in liberty, in property rights, in limited government)  is why the collectivists hated Warren Harding (and still do) – and that is why they (the academic-media-cultural elite) have spent more than 90 years spitting on his name.

The mistake of John Jay – believing that the governement could make people virtuous.

The American Founding Father John Jay was fond of reading Plato in his youth (often not a good sign), and even named one of his slaves Plato (I am not attacking Mr Jay over slavery – I know he did more than anyone else to end slavery in New York State, even losing an election over it).

It is not likely that John Jay was fond of the economic collectivism of Plato (after all John Jay was the man famous for making “those who own the land should govern it” his maxim – although it was actually G. Morris who supported a strictly limited franchise, as long you owned a little land, say your own home, you should have the vote according to Jay), so what was he getting from Plato?

Not the idea of the importance of virtue – that was a commonplace of republican (small “r”) thought, that only a moral people could remain free (that a people addicted to vice and waste would either not notice government getting more powerful – or would actively welcome a despotic government, if it promised them lots of benefits “bread and games”).

Nor was John Jay some sort of “Puritan” in the Hollywood sense – he did not believe that such things as drink and dancing should be banned, he liked a drink and he employed tutors to teach his children to dance (and the only reason he did not go to the theatre was that he believed there was so much suffering and humiliation in real life that he did not want to see it on the stage as well). Again “virtue” was a much broader concept than the Hollywood mockery of po faced Puritans.

What Plato would have given John Jay is that idea that people can (and should) be made virtuous by THE STATE.

We today are used to prisons and government schools (especially in New York) being dens of vice – and that is not funny (rape and so on should not be a matter for nudge-nudge, wink-wink jokes). Places where vast amounts of taxpayers money are spent – and people come out vastly worse than they went in. Indeed the only thing that government schools in America appear to be good at teaching people is that government should control everything and that business (especially “big business”) is evil (needing to be controlled by noble government), and the churches are evil too, and…… (well any alternative to the state in any area of life) is evil – how odd that government schools should teach that government should control everything (well actually not odd at all).

However, dens of vice was not the Platonic vision (although what American schools and colleges actually teach would have pleased Plato).

In the vision of John Jay the government prisons he established (to replace the old policy of either hanging or flogging criminals) were meant to “reform” criminals.

And the government school system he longed for (it was not really established till after his time) would take children and turn them into virtuous citizens of the new republic .

What if someone from the state had come to Mr Jay’s farm (the house he had built shows his reputation as an aristocrat is false – it is a rather ordinary house with a front pouch where someone can sit on a rocking chair and chat to passers by – the house that “Common Man” Jefferson had built is vastly grander, but then Jefferson did not mind borrowing money, John Jay hated the idea of borrowing for luxury, he would only spend money he actually had) and started to order him about in farming matters?

I think such a government official would have got a cold stare from the man who attacked price controls and other such nonsense (John Adams would have lost his temper and set the dogs on such an official). But why should government be better at forming human character?

If would not trust the government to be in charge of your carrots, why would you trust them to be in charge of your children?

Governments are often better than private individuals and associations for destructive things – killing people, burning cities and so on (as a man who had lived through war – Mr Jay knew that), but for constructive things such as reforming human character? That does not seem very likely.

Evil (force and fear) has its place in human affairs – remember the Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk is divided between good and evil. His good side has many things (for example a sincere love of knowledge for its own sake) – even his courage (the evil Kirk is a coward – terrified of losing his own skin), but the good Kirk is also useless as a Star Ship commander (he will not take risks with other people’s lives – and he is horrified even by the suffering and death of enemies). It is the evil Kirk who has the “power of command” and the delight in torment and destruction that gives him the incentive to think up clever ways of destroying foes (the pleasure a cat has). And these-things-are-necessary at times.

The state (force and fear – the Sword of State) is the negative (destructive) energy of human life – you can burn a city with such a force, but you can not make people better (not really) you can not create new and good things. Force and fear has its place in human life (the good Kirk can not command the Enterprise – although the evil Kirk can not be trusted to do so) – but it can not turn a child into a good adult, or turn criminals into honest people (it can just turn them into hypocrites like Mr Heap – pretending to be “ever so humble” as they plot fresh crimes).

If one tries to use the state for positive (for constructive) purposes the negative energy feeds back on itself – the tormented child becomes a vile adult, the criminal leaves the prison worse than when he went in (and so on). The state can punish crime – but it can reform people (and the effort to use state power to “make people better” leads to the most terrible tyranny, as C.S. Lewis pointed out).

Those people (such as John Jay) who supported setting up state prison systems and school systems sincerely believing that they would promote virtue were making an error – a terrible, fundamental, error (an error for which the world is still suffering  – and will suffer more).

Dr Bonham’s case.

A man by the name of Bonham refused to pay for a license to practice medicine from the London College Physicians.

The College pointed out that not only did it have authority granted by a King (Henry VIII) , but also a specific Act of Parliament upheld medical licensing. So it fined Bonham (half the fine going to the college – half to the government, just as the Statute said it should) and ordered him to be imprisoned.

In the modern world that would be it – consumer protection upheld, and the evil “Dr” Bonham shipped off to be raped to death in prison somewhere (to the applause of the media – and the education system, the schools and colleges with their “protect the consumer” and “protect the worker” textbooks). However, this was 1610………

Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke (with his wicked, reactionary “Medieval mind”) was outraged by the whole thing. Not owning a piece of paper (a “license”) was not a crime under Common Law (to the Common Law a crime was an aggression against the bodies or goods of someone else – not failing to buy something). Also how could a body (the college or the government) sell licenses and, at the same time, sit in judgement over the case? This would mean that those who profited from the sale of licenses (had a financial interest in it) could punish those who did not buy them! – Which (to the modern minds of both the college and the government) is replied to by “well yes you Feudal nutcase – THAT IS THE POINT”.

Sadly (in spite of the work of Sir Francis Bacon, the author of the Progressive classic “The New Atlantis”, and mentor of Thomas Hobbes – the great philosopher who spread the enlightened notions that “law” was just the whims of the rulers, and that humans were just machines, not beings – not moral agents). The reactionary Sir Edward stopped the imprisonment of Dr Bonham – and declared that he did not have to pay a fine for refusing to buy a piece of parchment (a “license”) as the Common Law (those DUSTY CENTURIES of Year Books full of cases about one man hitting another man over the head with an axe – or damaging a local church by using its windows for target practice for archery……) knew of no such “crime”, and that it was an outrage that those who sold these pieces of paper could fine (indeed imprison) those who refused to buy them (Sir Edward’s “medieval mind” just did not understand the Progressive modern world……).

Nor did this reactionary bigotry end with Sir Edward Coke.

Chief Justice Sir John Holt (late 17th century – the generation that produced the English Bill of Rights and other hopelessly reactionary documents. with their right to keep and bear arms and so on, that are affront to the modern Progressive world) held to the same view that Acts of Parliament do not overturn fundamental principles of natural justice embodied in the centuries of tradition of Common Law reasoning (in spite of Progressive Legal Positivist Thomas Hobbes “proving” that there was no such thing as natural justice or natural law in a moral way – and that the judges of the Common Law, in seeking justice over the dusty centuries, were just lost in illusions – true law being just the will of the ruler).

Chief Justice Holt – even cited judges as far back as Bracton (did he not understand that only what has been said in the last five minutes matters?) and openly stated that Acts of Parliament do not trump fundamental law – indeed it is the other way round. And that it was possible (although difficult) for legal reasoning to find justice. Not that all judges would always agree (YES – there are other cases in the centuries of Year Books that contradict the cases that Sir Edward Coke cited, he knew that and it does NOT undermine his position), but that legal reasoning (fundamentally reasoning in justice – after the manner of Aristotelian reasoning) was possible – that law was NOT just the ravings of Kings and Parliaments. That fundamental law was different to (and higher than) “legislation”.

Chief Justice Holt even tried to apply this to slavery – which to him (as to the 19th century American lawyer and later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Salmon P. Chase) was the Common Law crimes of false imprisonment (dragging someone back if they ran away), and violent assault (whipping someone for refusing to work – no more acceptable in Common Law than throwing someone in prison for refusing to buy a piece of paper, a “license” or an “insurance policy” as with “Obamacare”).

In the United States this reactionary tradition continued with, for example, Justice Pierce Butler of the Supreme Court who held (by dissenting in “Buck Versus Bell”) that a State (even after it passed a “statute”) could not hold down a screaming woman and cut her up for the “crime” of (allegedly) having a “low IQ” out of fear that the women might give birth to babies who also might (allegedly) commit the “crime” if having a “low IQ”.

Justice Butler did not even believe that the government had the right (even after passing a statute) to exterminate “inferior races” – he had clearly never read the noble Progressive writings of the Fabian socialists H.G. Wells (the teaming millions of blacks, browns and yellows must go, forms of gas could be developed and…..) and George Bernard Shaw (every person should be made to justify their existence before a government board, “like the income tax tribunal” and if the board was not happy with them, they should be executed), friends of fellow Supreme Court Judge – O. W. Holmes Jr who wrote the Progressive view of Buck V Bell.

To a Progressive such as Holmes  the old American saying (attributed to Mark Twain) – “no man’s property or liberty is safe – when the legislature is in session” (a much realistic attitude that the deluded British faith in Parliament) is replied to with “and a jolly good thing to!”.

Well where do you stand gentle reader?

With the vile reactionaries such as Sir Edward Coke, Chief Justice John Holt, Edmund Burke (see his writings on Ireland and India), American Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, 20th century Justice Salmon P. Chase (and the others of the “Four Horsemen” who opposed such Progressive things as Franklin Roosevelt “National Recovery Agency” – General Johnson’s Jackbooted “Blue Eagle” thugs who tried to set the prices and business practices of every enterprise in the United States).

Or do you stand with the noble Sir Francis Bacon (of The New Atlantis), Sir William Petty (the creator mathematical “economic planning” in the mid 17th century), Thomas Hobbes, the Bowood Circle of the late 18th century (funded by Lord S.) with such lovely people as Jeremy Bentham – with his 13 Departments of State controlling every aspect of life (as it is the duty of government to promote pleasure and oppose pain – and natural law and natural rights are “nonsense on stilts”, law being simply the will of the rulers), and with the Hobbes lovers among the “Westminster Review” crowd of the early 19th century (with their “land question” – i.e. the view that the state could plunder the ancient estates, overturning “feudal” notions going back to the ninth century, as David Ricardo had “proved” that….. let us ignore the fact that Frank Fetter refuted David Ricardo on land a century ago, the Ottoman Empire, and Eastern Despotism generally, rocks, it is “Progressive” to attack the estates of “feudal” Western land holders). And the “New Liberals” of the late 19th century, and the Fabians and the American Progressives and………….

Ignore the warnings of old reactionary Common Lawyers such as Sir Edward Coke and John Holt that Progressive Francis Bacon stuff is really the dark side of Roman Law – the “Civilians” with their doctrines that the will of the ruler has the force of law, and that no law binds the government (because the government can change the law as it likes).

After all such warnings are repeated in the speeches of reactionary (and “corrupt”) President Warren Harding and reactionary (and “stupid”) President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s (see the Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents) when they pointed out that  such things as the Progressive “New Freedom” of Woodrow Wilson which claimed to “evolve” beyond the principles of the Constitution of the United States, are (in fact) a product of German collectivist political philosophy (see J. Goldberg “Liberal Fascism”) going back as far as the 18th century philosophy (see the works of Hayek on this – for example the “Constitution of Liberty” and “Law, Legislation and Liberty” – although Hayek can never free himself from the general philosophy of the very people whose political ideas he attacks – and, contrary to Hayek, their politics comes naturally from their philosophy) and that this political philosophy is (in turn) a return to the ideas of the “civilians” – the Roman Law scholars with their doctrine that the government is limited by no law (as it can create any law it likes – and change any existing law) and that one must hope for wise rulers to promote the happiness of the people… The reactionary Harding and Coolidge claiming that those who seek to “evolve” beyond “vulgar” or “primitive” views of freedom (the property rights view embodied in such things as the British and American Bill of Rights) actually collapse back into the darkest tyrannical despotism.

Surely no one (but the most hardened and bitter reactionary) would deny that governments should promote pleasure and prevent pain (prevent the little darling people, children really, hurting ourselves) – without letting any silly “old right” stand in their way?

Bill Whittle: Losing the Peace in Iraq

There is one statement in here that I’ll bet will surprise everybody except maybe Mr. Cats, who may have already seen the video. It’s about Nixon, and it surprised me.

For those whose computers are either deaf or mute, the video is accompanied by a transcript at FrontPage Mag.

Google, The Grauniad, various sorts of Times, and now … the OED

Sad to see the OED is just as full of propaganda as the Usual Suspects, including the above. And it don’ spik-a da Englees so good no more, neither. See the dreadfully ungrammatical sentences that once-revered “dictionary” now uses. The OUP should be ashamed of itself, it should. I quit using Oxford sometime last year (I do have the Compact OED print edition, 1971, but it’s a bit of a chore since there’s not room for it at my workstation, a.k.a. the kitchen table; also, the print is reeeelly teensy). Nowadays I use Webster’s from 1828 or 1913, the earlier preferably, but sometimes both. Merriam-Webster is less than stellar, and Webster’s College has been a joke since college.

And as long as I’m b**chin’ anyway, Word 97 included “Encarta” as its dictionary. “Encarta” was not written for anybody reading beyond first-grade level.

I wasn’t able to copy the images in The Blaze’s article, q.v., nor at the linked sites, but I hunted up the OED’s definition of “bigotry,” and it’s (currently) just as the original image shows. I’ve set it off from the text between dashed lines.

Why Some People Are Googling the Word ‘Bigotry’ and Not Liking the Result

Jun. 13, 2014 4:00pm Jason Howerton

Google the word “bigotry” and the definition provided links the term to “right-wing” ideology. The Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein was the first to point out the “shocking way” Google uses the word in a sentence.

___________________________________________________

Definition of bigotry in English:
bigotry
Syllabification: big·ot·ry
Pronunciation: /ˈbigətrē

/
noun

Bigoted attitudes; intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself: the report reveals racism and right-wing bigotry
—————————————————–

However, before you rage against Google, it should be noted that the definition apparently comes directly from the Oxford Dictionary.

Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell points out there are other sentence examples from Oxford:

“There is nothing amusing about snobbery, racism, bigotry, misogyny and xenophobia,” “Intolerance and racial bigotry is a destructive force that can create tensions in local communities,” and “Empty churches may well be empty because of the image that we are presenting narrowness and bigotry and prejudice.”

Interestingly, Google also provides a graph showing the steady decline of the usage of the word “bigotry.”

[The graph is presented here, at the source.]

This could be due to the increased use of words like “racism” and “homophobia,” both of which have seen dramatic spikes based, according to Google.

It was true then, it remains true today

“Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action‘.”

Auric Goldfinger

Glenn Beck: Common Core and Education [and Certain Corps., and Progressivism]

A very good Glenn Beck video, uploaded 4/2013. Well worth the 45 minutes. Note well, at 21:26:

I’m not an anti-corporation guy!

But … the thrust of this “education” project is to instill in children anti-capitalist, pro-communistic ideas … to demolish all privacy of both the children and their family members … and to make of them guinea pigs whose bodily, physiological, biochemical states are studied via sensors attached to them. (If this sounds hyper-sensationalized, see the bit starting around 28:30 or a bit past, beginning with Dr. Gary Thompson, of the Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center. However, I have done no research at all on Dr. Thompson nor the Center beyond doing the search to get the link. FWIW, the search turns up results from the Better Business Bureau.)

There is a most interesting article by the by the former award-winning NYC-public-schoolteacher John Taylor Gatto, entitled “The Public School Nightmare,” which is a thorough-going indictment of American “education” and the Prussian system that the early Progressives like Horace Mann and, later, John Dewey foisted off on us. Please read! Excerpts:

When Frederich Froebel, the inventor of kindergarten in 19th century Germany, fashioned his idea he did not have a “garden for children” in mind, but a metaphor of teachers as gardeners and children as the vegetables. Kindergarten was created to be a way to break the influence of mothers on their children. I note with interest the growth of daycare in the US and the repeated urgings to extend school downward to include 4-year-olds.

. . .

A movement as visibly destructive to individuality, family and community as government-system schooling has been might be expected to collapse in the face of its dismal record, coupled with an increasingly aggressive shake down of the taxpayer, but this has not happened. The explanation is largely found in the transformation of schooling from a simple service to families and towns to an enormous, centralized corporate enterprise.

While this development has had a markedly adverse effect on people and on our democratic traditions, it has made schooling the single largest employer in the United States, and the largest grantor of contracts next to the Defense Department.

[ SNIP ]

In the video below, Mr. Beck points out the Shelob-like Department of Education.

(Vouchers are not, in fact, a good idea, except insofar as they might get parents to thinking about where their children might actually get some decent education. This is the gradualist approach, if going cold-turkey is politically impossible. Along these same lines, I read recently that the Charter Schools movement is also turning out to hurt private schooling, since the Charter Schools are still “free,” meaning payed-for by the taxpayer, hence still under the governmental thumb. Whether the alleged Corporate/Charter-school Corruption in the South — Louisiana? I forget exactly — actually occurred I can’t say, but the temptation and possibility are surely there.)

Taxation Based on Land Ownership: A Real-life Example

…[T]he tax real estate law, doesn’t give a whole lot of room for error….*

I’m a staunch opponent of the taxation of property in land, for a couple of reasons, although I agree that in the current climate of political opinion such taxation is not going away, being de rigueur at least “locally” — i.e. usually imposed by the county and city, in the U.S.

Of course, while I don’t agree that it is necessarily true that “taxation is theft,” since there are counterexamples that I can (with some creativity) dream up, I do believe that in the portion of the Vale of Tears in which we find ourselves, property tax is a bane, and would be even worse if it replaced (let alone were added to!) any other form of taxation. (There is a far better, if still imperfect, method of funding necessary government than that of taxation. I do agree we won’t be seeing it anytime soon, though, unless Burt & co. get their interstellar warp-drive up and running stat.)

So, here’s what happened to one person who was unfortunate enough to own her own home. (Considering it was paid off, she’d probably lived there long enough that it was “home” and not merely a house.) Note: One must be honest when reporting, even if it hurts one’s case. The amount in question was $ 6.30, not $ 6.

OK to sell widow’s home over $6 bill, judge rules

Posted: Apr 28, 2014 3:17 PM CDT
Updated: Apr 28, 2014 3:57 PM CDT

BEAVER, Pa. (AP) – A widow was given ample notice before her $280,000 house was sold at a tax auction three years ago over $6.30 in unpaid interest, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled.

The decision last week turned down Eileen Battisti’s request to reverse the September 2011 sale of her home outside Aliquippa in western Pennsylvania.

“I paid everything, and didn’t know about the $6.30,” Battisti said. “For the house to be sold just because of $6.30 is crazy.”

Battisti, who still lives in the house, said Monday that she plans to appeal to Commonwealth Court. That court earlier ordered an evidentiary hearing, which led to last week’s ruling.

Beaver County Common Pleas Judge Gus Kwidis wrote that the county tax claim bureau complied with notification requirements in state law before the auction. She had previously owed other taxes, but at the time of the sale she owed just $235, including other interest and fees.

“There is no doubt that (she) had actual receipt of the notification of the tax upset sale on July 7, 2011, and Aug. 16, 2011,” the judge wrote. “Moreover, on Aug. 12, 2011, a notice of sale was sent by first class mail and was not returned.”

The property sold for about $116,000, and most of that money will be paid to Battisti if further appeals are unsuccessful. An attorney for the purchaser did not return a phone message on Monday.

Joe Askar, Beaver County’s chief solicitor, said the judge got the decision right, based on the law.

“The county never wants to see anybody lose their home, but at the same time the tax sale law, the tax real estate law, doesn’t give a whole lot of room for error, either,” Askar said.

Battisti said her husband handled the paperwork for the property’s taxes before he passed away in 2004.

“It’s bad – she had some hard times, I guess her husband kind of took care of a lot of that stuff,” Askar said. “It seemed that she was having a hard time coping with the loss of her husband – that just made it set in a little more.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

*”…equal, but some are more equal than others.” Call me cynical if you must.

The Pope may also have a tendency towards Catholicism…

…and we all know about ursine silvan defecatary habits…

This staggering gem from the NYT/Daily Mail. I recall when the fun and games started in the ‘stan. There was a twinkly old bar steward “massing” with a fucking hatchet on the Af/Pak border and ranting to the BBC about killing Americans. Above him were the contrails of a B-52. He was (self) impo(r)tently waving his little mashie at the bomber. And he was ponying up from Pakistan’s “restive” tribal areas. Or Hell on Fucking Earth as is better known.

Anyone who sincerely believes the Pakistani government has been our best buds through this farrago which has cost something like 3,000 NATO lives, God knows how many Afghans and you may have noticed how well we’re doing in the Paralympics of late… Well they are demented.

It comes down to this. The USA has had an alliance with Pakistan for many years. In their early wars against India, Pakistan flew largely F-86s, and the Indians got chummy with the Soviets and flew MiGs (they also had some Hawker Hunters and the Pakistanis got some Supermarine Attackers which were truly dreadful but that would detract from the narrative). The Indians still are chummy with the Russians on aerospace which is why the Su-34 has a microwave oven and a proper toilet. It was specced-up and partially designed by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) primarily for India. A great strike fighter (with a microwave!) but they should have fitted (along with the toilet) variable geometry inlets for the engines to get the speed past Mach 2. Because under successive US Admins there has been a bizarre “Game of Thrones” in the spheres of interference and Pakistan landed in the US one and India in the Soviet one for whatever reason. But genuine friends? Seriously?

We know, or ought to know, who our real friends are. The first British DFC awarded to a female pilot came from her (and her crew) flying through an unbelievable shit-storm of fire into a fort (yes a fort!) to rescue a critically wounded Dane, twice – shot down first time around. Now my people stood (with fuck-off axes) against them Scandy sorts but the Battle of Stamford Bridge* was like nigh on a thousand years ago. Since then we’ve made-up and bought Lego and are genuine mates – real allies. This is not blood – though I am Nordic/Celtic ancestry. I have long blonde-ish hair right now and look like I’m about to lead the Éored down the right flank. Good. I like it as does my wife. I am not being racist. Indeed I’m suggesting I am of immigrant blood and blood matters nothing. What matters is culture and if not it’s exact convergence but the mutual understandability. That makes for genuine friendship and not the sub “Game of Thrones” we have with Pakistan and the Afghans. I mean Dear God we liberated Afghanistan so they could impose a law legalising marital rape! When we stormed the beaches of Normandy did we expect to set-up such societies? I have been to France and Germany and they ain’t like that. I haven’t been to Japan or The Republic of Korea (though I have put enough moollah their way) but I have been to the Korean War memorial in DC. That is a memorial to 50-odd thousand soldiers who died to ensure half the peninsula didn’t get over-run by the vilest regime on the planet.

And it isn’t blood, or culture or even religion (I found Turkey very friendly). Well, maybe it is culture. The culture of not being an arsehole. I am sure many Afghans manage it but not the Khazi of Kabul. Though a man not without sin there can be a need for an Atatürk (as we had a need for a Cromwell). Sometimes you need a hard bastard to pull you out of the soup.

Or maybe not. It’s not very libertarian is it? But Turkey would be a complete shit-hole without Mustafa Kemal (insert obvious joke). Mind, the current Turkish PM seems hell-bent on a return to the fucking dark ages.

Or maybe not. The great social changes I have seen in my lifetime have been of the slowly, slowly monkey catching variety. Sometimes you need society to simply change and the biggest change I have seen is probably gay rights. There has been a phenomenal change in that since I was at secondary school.

But fundamentally you don’t choose your friends – your genuine allies – they choose you or you just get on. There is a reason every year the Norwegians ship us a ginormous Christmas Tree for Trafalgar Square. There is a reason Hamid Khazai ships us fuck all (apart from heroin on the sly) – an Eid prezzie would be nice. It isn’t blood or treasure or religion. We simply get on with Norway and we don’t with ‘stan (because they are cunts, largely). That in a sense is what this war is about. Or isn’t. It is an attempt at “nation building”, in shit-holes. I saw on the telly a couple of years back a US Army Cpt taking tea with tribal elders. He was an engineer and wanted to build a bridge employing local labour so they could go to town and get jobs but all the lads had gone off Talibaning. The US officer was very obviously pissed-off. I don’t blame him. He couldn’t say anything, alas. But there was a definite look about him that said, “Well, if that’s their attitude then fuck ‘em”. Of course he offered to build a bridge and not offer the chance to “marry” pre-pubescent girls so he was buggered from the start.

These are not allies in the sense of friends. The French might be founder members of the “Awkward Squad” but I reckon we can vaguely trust ‘em. We can certainly trust some other Europeans and the USA and some of the Commonwealth. We have friends, genuine friends and that is very different from having “alliances”.

I know people I would stand with (if it came to it) to the last gasp and I know they would stand with me but realpolitricks never works in the long term.

I know this post has rambled and I hope it is taken in the right sense. This is not a rant contra Islam and it is not a paean to Nordicology. I am just saying that if you want a genuine friendship which is the utter prerequisite for a real alliance you have to get on rather than manufacture it. And a country that harbours public enemy #1 within a brisk walk of its premier military academy for years is not a friend and should not therefore be regarded as an ally. It is both a strategic and some level a moral failure.

*Some enormous Viking held the bridge with a giant axe until a sneaky Saxon went underneath and skewered the IKEA merchant with a spear up the fundament.

Richard Epstein & Federalist Society Panel on Direct Democracy

Government of the People, by the People, and for the People?

The second Showcase Panel at the the Federalist Society’s 2010 National Lawyers Convention. November 19, 2010.

Prof. Epstein, as usual, has some thoughts on practicalities. (He’s wrong about the V-N War, though. What can I say, he’s a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn. And among other things he did time at Berkeley.)

Very interesting discussion, and the gentlemen all are. :>)

From the description:

Direct democracy is feasible today to an extent that it was not feasible in 1787. Does that change the calculus in choosing between direct democracy and representation? What lessons, positive or negative, can be learned from the state experience with initiatives and referenda? Should Congress set up a system of national initiatives and referenda? Can Congress delegate its legislative power to the American people without violating the nondelegation doctrine? Should national initiatives and referenda be binding or merely advisory? Would it be acceptable for a national referendum to alter a law so as to effectively reverse a Supreme Court decision? Should the health care law be subject to such a referendum? Should increases in the national debt or in taxes be subject to voter approval?

In order of appearance:

Steven G. Calabresi — Moderator (Introduction, 6:32)

Panelists, speaking roughly 15 min. each:

William N. Eskridge, Jr. — Yale
Richard A. Epstein (at ~19:40) — NYU, U. of Chicago
Robert D. Cooter — Berkeley
Thomas W. Merrill — Columbia

Then the moderator puts a few questions, and finally there’s Q&A from the audience.

Yale Thinks I Have an Eating Disorder

This is outrageous — the Yale Administration’s Mommy-Knows-Best attitude, if that’s what it is…but no, I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s the “You’ll do what I say, OR ELSE, young lady!” attitude. In loco parentis* on steroids! I have to cheer this woman for writing this up, even if she did see fit to post it on HuffPo.

Coming on the heels of Prof. Rubenfeld, he of the Yale Law School, and in light of Yale’s reputation for having an unfortunately highly Progressivist weltanschaaung, I find myself disgusted with Yale altogether. When Lucy grows up I’m sending her to Oxbridge.

Herewith, the whole thing. I just don’t see how to break it up without ruining the flow.

–J.

Yale University Thinks I Have an Eating Disorder

“I don’t know if my body is even capable of gaining three more pounds.”

The nurse looked at me apprehensively. “It’s easy to gain a couple pounds. What I’m afraid will happen is that you’ll lose it again and you’ll just be cheating yourself.”

I couldn’t keep the impatience out of my tone. “So you’re just going to keep checking on me until I graduate?”

“If we don’t tackle your low weight now, it will kill you.”

***

In the past three weeks alone, I have spent ten hours at Yale Health, our student health center. Since December, I have had weekly weigh-ins and urine tests, three blood tests, appointments with a mental health counselor and a nutritionist, and even an EKG done to test my heart. My heart was fine — as it always has been — and so was the rest of my body. So what was the problem?

The medical professionals think I have an eating disorder — but they won’t look past the number on the scale, to see the person right in front in them.

I visited the cancer hospital on September 17, 2013, worrying about a lump in my breast. It turned out to be benign, but I received an email in November from the medical director about “a concern resulting from your recent visit.” My stomach lurched. Was the lump malignant after all?

I met with a clinician on December 4 and was told that the “concern” was my low weight and that I would meet with her for weekly weigh-ins. These appointments were not optional. The clinician threatened to put me on medical leave if I did not comply: “If it were up to the administration, school would already be out for you. I’m just trying to help.”

I’ve always been small. I’ve been 5’2” and 90 pounds since high school, but it has never led to any illnesses related to low weight or malnutrition. My mom was the same; my whole family is skinny. We all enjoy Mom’s fabulous cooking, which included Taiwanese beef noodle soup, tricolor pasta, strawberry cheesecake, and cream puffs, none of which make the Weight Watchers shortlist. I just don’t gain weight easily.

Yet the clinicians at Yale Health think there’s more to it. Every week, I try to convince my clinician that I am healthy but skinny. Over the past several months, however, I’ve realized the futility of arguing with her.

“You should try to gain at least two more pounds.” (What difference does two pounds make?)

“Come next week to take a blood test to check your electrolytes.” (No consideration that I had three exams that week.)

“I know you’ve said in the past that you don’t eat as much when you get stressed out.” (I’ve never said that.)

So instead of arguing, I decided that perhaps the more I complied, the sooner I could resume my normal life.

I was forced to see a mental health professional. She asked me all of the standard questions — how I felt about my body, how many calories I ate. I told her everyone’s body is beautiful, including mine. When I said I didn’t know how many calories, since I don’t care to count, she rephrased the question, as if that would help.

Next step was a nutritionist. The nurse passed a post-it note, saying “Here are two times for the nutritionist next Tuesday. Usually it takes three months to get into nutrition at all.” What a privilege! Now I get to feel guilty about using clinical resources in desperately short supply!

Finally, I decided to start a weight-gain diet. If I only had to gain two pounds, it was worth a shot to stop the trouble. I asked my health-conscious friends what they do to remain slim and did the exact opposite. In addition to loading up on carbs for each meal, I’ve eaten 3-4 scoops of ice cream twice a day with chocolate, cookies, or Cheetos at bedtime. I take elevators instead of stairs wherever possible.

Eventually, the scale said I was two pounds heavier. When I saw her last Friday, I felt my stomach tighten, my heart racing. Would I finally be granted parole?

“You’ve gained two pounds, but that still isn’t enough. Ideally, you should go up to 95 pounds.” I hung my head in disbelief. I’ve already shared with you the memorable exchange that followed.

She had finally cracked me. I was Sisyphus the Greek king, forever trapped trying uselessly to push a boulder up a hill. Being forced to meet a standard that I could never meet was stressful and made me resent meals. I broke down sobbing in my dean’s office, in my suitemate’s arms afterwards, and Saturday morning on the phone with my parents. At this rate, I was well on my way to developing an eating disorder before anyone could diagnose the currently nonexistent one.

It seems Yale has a history of forcing its students through this process. A Yale Herald piece from 2010 told the story of students in similar situations. It’s disturbing how little things have changed. “Stacy” was “informed that if she kept failing to reach [Yale Health]‘s goals for her, she would be withdrawn for the following semester.” Unfortunately, “the more she stressed out about gaining weight, the more she lost her appetite.”

Furthermore, a recent graduate messaged me saying that her cholesterol had actually gone up due to the intensive weight-gain diet she used to release herself from weekly weigh-ins.

It is clear that the University does care about students suspected of struggling with eating disorders. And it should. Eating disorders are particularly prevalent on college campuses and Yale is no exception. However, because the University blindly uses BMI as the primary means of diagnosis, it remains oblivious to students who truly need help but do not have low enough BMIs. Instead, it subjects students who have a personal and family history of low weight to treatment that harms our mental health. By forcing standards upon us that we cannot meet, the University plays the same role as fashion magazines and swimsuit calendars that teach us about the “correct shape” of the human body.

I was scheduled to have a mental health appointment at 9:00 a.m. and a weigh-in at 10:30 a.m. this past Friday. But I’m done. No more weigh-ins, no more blood draws. I don’t have an eating disorder, and I will not let Yale Health cause me to develop one. If Yale wants to kick me out, let them try — in the meantime, I’ll be studying for midterms, doing my best to make up for lost time.

. . .
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

What is in a name?

They can be millstones. I have heard of an Arthur “Art” Kraft and an Ophelia Tushmann. They were first gen Americans so they probs hadn’t got the hang but arguably the must risible was a Fanny Doktor. Of course I was to have a kid I’d give them a serviceable name though I’m not up on the idea of shortened forms as official names. I am officially a Nicholas but everyone calls me Nick. So this crop of Charlies and Archies (the later mainly to be found in a buggy the size of a Challenger 2 tank going round Waitrose (possibly with iDave at the helm)). Nah! Give ‘em the long forms but use the short unless they have been very naughty and then they’ll know they are in for it!

I recently saw a plant in Amsterdam that is virtually extinct. It was quite sad. It is the only one left and it is from an old species that comes in male and female forms rather than being male and female as most plants are. They can take cuttings mind so it ain’t exactly over. He’s a boy and he’ll never meet a girl. Well, maybe those genetics wizards will figure something out. I saw as much as I could stand of “Sharktopus” on the telly. That was bloody dreadful. So God alone knows. Let’s call him Bob.

Anyhoo, ancestry.com has compiled a list of similarly dying names in much the same way botanists classify endangered species though frankly I’m not sure a name dying is quite the same as a species kicking the bucket eternal. You wanna hear them? (these are UK).

‘Extinct’ – (None recorded in latest birth records):
Male – Cecil, Rowland & Willie
Female – Bertha, Blodwen, Fanny, Gertrude, Gladys, Margery, Marjorie & Muriel

Cecil, Rowland & Willie – Sounds like a Dickensian law firm.

‘Endangered’ – (Have fallen in prevalence by 99 per cent since 1905):
Male – Clifford, Horace, Harold, Leslie & Norman
Female – Doris, Edna, Ethel, Hilda, Marion & Phyllis

And it goes on… My personal feeling is most of the names to have fallen into disuse deserve their fate. The only Horace I ever met was hungry (or skiing or fighting spiders).

So it just goes to show… something. Some modern names are curses too but so are some of the oldies. But oddly enough some names never seem to go in or out of fashion. Rachel or Thomas spring to mind as hardy perennials. There are loads more of course. And of course there are names which have nothing wrong in themselves taken individually but the first/surname mix makes it risible. Austin Healey and Minnie Driver spring to mind. But it goes way back

What is in a name? A lot. It defines you in various ways and it kinda sticks. And I think it is a responsibility for parents to select something wearable. In many ways it is the first and most important decision they have to make.

Libertarianism and Conservativism – foes or friends?

F.A. Hayek at the end of his “Constitution of Liberty” (1960) wrote “Why I am not a Conservative” – which is odd as Hayek had (perhaps without knowing it) a good grasp of what actually is a positive conception of conservatism, and a poor grasp of libertarianism.

Hayek rejected the word “libertarian” as “artificial” which is just as well as he was not a libertarian – philosophically or politically.

Philosophically Hayek was a determinist (like so many 19th century and early 20th century thinkers, he assumed that “science” mandated determinism). Hayek took David Hume literally (whether Hume should really be taken literally is a hotly contested issue), the “I” (the human person) is an illusion, as is human choice – a thought does NOT mean a thinker (a reasoning “I”) and as there is no agent (no human being – no reasoning “I”) there is no agency (no free will), actions are predetermined by a series of causes and effects that go back to the start of the universe – and humans (who are not beings) can do no other than we do (we could not have done otherwise – as choice is an illusion).

Politically Hayek claimed to an “Old Whig”, but is hard to see how his philosophical views are compatible with the Whig point of view – which was based on the MORAL value of human free will (it is not an accident that David Hume was not a Whig) . The determinist (such as the Thomas Hobbes) holds that “freedom” is just an absence of external restraint – for example when a dam fails the water is “free” to rush out and destroy towns and so on. “Freedom” (in the determinist view) is not a matter of moral choice (remember choice is an “illusion”) so “freedom” is like taking one’s hand off a clockwork mouse and letting this clockwork mouse go around on the floor. It is hard to see how this “freedom” can be of any moral importance at all – if any view of politics can be based upon it would be a politics of tyranny (exactly the politics that Hobbes did base upon it), after all walls of water from broken dams (and so on) does not sound very nice.

Still does Hayek say anything else about his politics? Yes he does – again in the “Constitution of Liberty” we are told that he supports the “limited state” not the “minimal state”, because (according to Hayek) the minimal state can not be defined and the limited state can be defined.

Hayek is just wrong – the minimal state is easy to define (although very hard to achieve or maintain – an anarchist would argue impossible to maintain or achieve). The definition of a minimal state is one that just uses force only against the violation of the non aggression principle (attacks on the bodies or goods of people or groups of people). It is actually the “limited state” that is hard to define. Limited to what?

Hayek does make some vague efforts to define the “limited state” – for example he says that such a state applies “general rules” that apply to everyone.

O.K. then – everyone is to have their head cut off. Is that a good example of a “limited state”?

Hayek also says that a limited state does not seek to have a monopoly of any service.

O.K. then – everyone but the children of Mr Smith of 25 Silver Street to go to a state school?

Unfair example? O.K. – how about the state hands education and healthcare “free” (at the expense of the taxpayers), but you are free to pay twice (i.e. pay again on top of taxation) to go private? Is this the limited state?

How about you can go to any doctor you like and send your children to any school you like, but the state pays the bill (no matter how big it is), is that the limited state?

Such a state (one that seeks to provide or pay for education, healthcare, old age provision and on and on) will end up spending half the entire economy (and still fail). That does not sound very limited or sustainable – and Hayek (in his attack on the Welfare State) shows he understands this. However, his “limited state” is not defined in a way that prevents it.

Oh dear this post seems to have turned into “why Hayek is crap” which is unfair as anyone (even the best of us) looks terrible if one just concentrates on errors and weaknesses. I will leave the above out if I ever give a talk on this subject (because it sounds terribly negative) – but it needed to be put on record.

So why is Hayek (perhaps without knowing it) insightful about Conservatism?

Hayek’s own definition of Conservatism (given in “Why I am Not a Conservative”) is not good. He just defines it as being opposed to change – so (for example) a North Korean conservative now would be a socialist (or that is the system they have) and a British conservative I (say) 1870 would be a free market person – as this was the system of the time.

Whatever Hayek may have believed that is not a serious definition of Conservatism. But Hayek (again perhaps without knowing it) does give a description of Conservatism – in “Constitution of Liberty”, “Law. Legislation and Liberty” (and other works).

Cosmos not Taxis – spontaneous order (evolved over time) not top down planning. What Hayek called the results of “human action not human design” (it would be have been better to say the results of voluntary action not forced action – but Hayek had philosophical problems with even voluntary design).

Or (in the language of the conservative writer M.J. Oakeshott) a Civil Association not Enterprise Association, a Societas not a Universitas.

Institutions and customs that evolve over time often without people knowing the reasons they are useful – till they are broken.

As Tolkien’s (Tolkien being a Catholic Conservative) character “Gandalf” puts it in the “Lord of the Rings” – “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom”.

This is what Conservatism is about – a preference for evolved custom and ways of doing things (ways of living) over imposed “rational” planning by the state.

The state (in the Conservative view) is like the Thrain of the Shire (Tolkien’s) and the Mayor.

The Thrain does nothing in peacetime (in war it is different) – he just farms his estate. And the Mayor is the leading figure at formal dinners (like those of the old Closed Corporations that were the only “urban local government” before the Act of 1835 in England and Wales), he does not order folk about. Families govern their own affairs and do not attack each other (police forces were not compulsory on the counties of England and Wales till 1856). There is plenty of (moral – traditional) authority, but little naked “power”.

I think it is obvious show this view of Conservatism is close to libertarianism (hence “Tory Anarchist”) – a friend not a foe. But is it tied to Hayek and his philosophical opinions?

No it is not – which is why I mentioned Oakeshott and Tolkien (two Conservatives with very different philosophical opinions to Hayek). Both Oakeshott and Tolkien believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise).

Even in the 18th century Conservatives did not follow the philosophical opinions of David Hume (again IF they were his opinions – I repeat this is hotly contested). Neither the Tory Conservative Dr Johnson or the Old Whig Conservative Edmund Burke (a real Old Whig – unlike Hayek) accepted determinism and the denial of human personhood (moral choice – the ability to choose to do otherwise). Edmund Burke and Dr Johnson (the Whig and the Tory) both believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise) and were moral universalists (not just Dr Johnson – but Edmund Burke also, for the T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson view of his is totally wrong, to Burke it did not matter if something happened in the Middle Ages or right now, in India or America – right was right and wrong was wrong).

Is this the only view of Conservatism?

Of course not – there are other views of Conservatism. For example the statism of Disraeli (with his life long commitment to “social reform” – yuk).

However, that is hardly “doing nothing” (against those who do not themselves aggress against others). The Tauist Old King Log sitting in the shade – rather than Young King Stork “helping” his subjects by eating them.

Bill Clinton is right – the U.N. will prove to be a lot worse than the NSA.

Bill Clinton may be a crook (well forget the “may be” – he is a crook), but that does not mean he is not right – indeed it gives him an insight into corrupt minds. And not being in the service of a political ideology (being an “honest thief” rather than a “bitch” [a servant of the Soviets] – in the language of GULAG) he has no reason not to say what it is going on.

We now see what the Edward Snowden thing was really about (as well as giving the FSB some tips in the cyber war – stuff they most likely guessed at anyway). It was about discrediting United States control of the internet – thus giving Mr Obama an excuse to do what he always wanted to do. Hand over control of the internet to the United Nations international telecommunications union (read Russia, China and the Islamic powers). The NSA just wants to know what you are saying – the new masters of the internet (with no pesky First Amendment) will want to stop you saying it.

Was Mr Snowden just a useful idiot – or an FSB agent all along? I do not know – but the censorship of the internet (not practical under American control of the internet) is now a real possibility. Barack Obama may get his dream (control of speech – by P.C. doctrine) by the back door of the “international community”.

The young people (the ones who nod their heads at the “libertarians” on Mr Putin’s “Russia Today” television station) will not (yet) believe me. But the NSA (and yes the CIA also – people such as Mike Baker who risked his life so many times for young people who think he is a “Fascist”) were not the enemy (they never were). They (the NSA and the CIA) were not out to censor you. It is your “saviours” (the people you hero worship) who want to censor you.

“We are techno people, no censorship will work on us” – oh you silly people, that is not what censorship is about. Censorship is about the average person not seeing something.

Titles restored

Until the 1970’s the Australian honours system mirrored that of the Brits, from whom we inherited it.

Gough Whitlam, on becoming Prime Minister, abolished the old system and instituted a new one, called the Order of Australia.

No problem with the concept, a little disappointed at the lack of imagination in its name tho.

Anyway, the old titles were swept away. No more lords, knights or dames. No more CBE’s, MBE’s and so on. The awards were – Member, Officer and Companion of the Order of Australia, and the left rejoiced.

Then, for those who know their modern Australian history, Gough was swept away, and the Tories got back in. In 1976 Knight and Dame were added to the list, and the left snarled.

Ten years later, in 1986, Bob Hawke, or Hawkey as some fantasise it is affectionate to call him, abolished those titles, and the left rejoiced, again.

Now, one would have thought that, 28 years having passed, the matter would be settled, but no. The age of chivalry remains undead, and like zombies rising from their graves, Knights and Dames have returned.

Not only that, but the positions will be institutionalised. The Queens Representative in Australia, the Governor General, will be given the title of Sir or Dame on ascension, and will be head of the order for the period of their tenure in office.

Snigger.

Personally, I don’t care, I am a bit of a traditionalist, so I also don’t object. After all, what is the difference between putting OA (Order of Australia) after your name, and putting Sir or Dame before it?

Now, Australia doesn’t have a system of nobility, even if there is no constitutional prohibition against it, as the US has. So a Knight is the lowest rank of nobility, does it matter? The titles aren’t hereditary, so, no, not to me.

This has meaning for me only to the extent of the pleasure I will gain from watching progressive heads explode.

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