Too good to be trusted?

Lately, as Vivek Ramaswamy gains more notice in the polls, I notice more than a few negative Xeets(?) on the platform formerly known as Twitter: “Too good to be true,” “too esoteric,” “too slick,” – basically criticisms of his presentation. The impression you are supposed to get is that he’s a snake oil salesman; because the followup dissing is, “this guy just popped up out of nowhere,” “Soros?, WEF?”.

This doesn’t come from Progs. It comes from a subset of Republicans. The WEF and Soros connections are BS ad hominem complaints unworthy of any opponents of Joe Biden. They are worthy of Dan Goldman, Adam Schiff, or Eric Swallwell.

This sniping illustrates an OnlyTrump apprehension that Ramaswamy understands and presents MAGA better than Trump does. They do the same thing to Ron DeSantis for the same reasons.

If we’re criticizing the presentation of MAGA, maybe we need to consider whether Trump is the only vessel capable of it.

We should hope he is not. Trump is not forever, he’s 77. Fortunately, he is NOT the point of MAGA.

IAC, Vivek Ramaswamy didn’t exactly come from nowhere. I posted this in May 2021, but it seems appropriate to post again. 26 minutes. Via Hillsdale College:
Woke Capitalism Against America | Vivek Ramaswamy

There is a quite recent Ramaswamy interview with Jordan Peterson worth a watch just to observe Ramaswamy in conversation rather than with a set speech. It’s obvious he has thought long and hard about politics. And life.

There’s a segment where he talks about how he and his wife (a highly regarded throat surgeon) handle the stress of separate careers with two small children. They both thought long and hard about that, even before he decided to run for POTUS.

If you are of an OnlyTrump frame of mind you will agree completely with the Twitter criticisms I’ve noted. Or, for that matter, EVERY criticism of any candidate not named Donald.

While Ramaswamy is not likely to best Trump in the fight for the nomination, the contrasts with Trump are not so much in Trump’s favor. Ramaswamy has the certainty of Trump and is vastly more articulate. He speaks with crystal clarity. None of the ambiguity that repeatedly got Trump in trouble. Ramaswamy speaks specifically of American law and tradition when he explains his policy positions. This has not been a Trump strength.

If you are an OnlyTrumper absolute certainty in your candidate does not give you the slightest qualm. Yet Ramaswamy’s well articulated and seriously considered certainty, 90% congruent with Trump’s, seems to irritate you. So, how can you trust him? It’s early yet. And I’m unsure, but I did find one test.

As a rough measure of trust I compared Ramaswamy’s extemporaneity with Peterson’s. One of Peterson’s endearing features is that he frequently pauses when exploring his own ideas. You can see him thinking, “Is this true?, Is this how I should say it?”

Ramaswamy doesn’t do this, at least in the interview. In his defense he is speaking about well known issues. I doubt there is a policy question that would throw him.

I would like to see him grapple with concepts he hasn’t thoroughly explored, that would be a different interview.

IAC, so far I trust his certainty more than I trust Trump’s. He has historical justification, a superior grasp of economics, a better understanding of the law, and a first generation immigrant’s appreciation of what MAGA should be. And he wouldn’t be Joe Biden’s age by the end of the next POTUS term.

Victor Davis Hanson/Jordan Peterson

Following you will find a couple of snippets from a difficult and foreboding conversation. I haven’t figured out how to set an end time since Google changed that API, so they’ll keep going unless you stop them. I’ve included duration info for the bits I’m highlighting.

The whole thing is highly recommended. An hour and 45 minutes.

The title is inadequate. It’s about far more than the degeneration of Ivy League trust funds masquerading as institutions of higher learning.

Higher education, momentarily led by the Ivy League, does have big problems. Admittance criteria exemplify the political attack on meritocracy, the quality of education is in steep decline, the number of administrators is an obscene waste of resources, the treatment of adjunct professors is abominable greed, and – in collusion with the General Government – student debt makes unwary credentialists into wage slaves.

It is infuriating and ironic that civilizational rot should have started in the Education Departments of universities with mottos such as “Veritas” (Truth) “Dei sub numine viget” (Under God’s Power, She Flourishes), “Lux et Veritas” (Light and Truth), “In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen” (In Thy light shall we see light), and especially “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”

VDH and JBP spend a quarter to a third of the conversation on higher ed (and there’s a commercial for Hillsdale College in there). But if it were just the Ivy League, Western Civilzation in general and the United States in particular would not be under assault by solipsistic identitarians.

One example, this clip is Peterson talking about the damage to our military from pronoun training, for example. About 2 minutes 20 seconds.

Second example. Hanson is not speaking of mere Ivy League institutions here, he’s speaking about almost all our institutions – public and private. I would quibble with his use of “the state”, because distrust of state institutions is part of everything they’d talked about. Were he editing it, I think he might substitute “cultural heritage,” or refer back to the responsibility of citizenship they touched on before. About 20 seconds.
Once you lose confidence in these institutions, and once they’re no longer meritocratic, and once people’s primary allegiance is not any longer to the state everything we’ve talked about this morning … the end result is an implosion – very quickly.

You should watch the whole thing. Just skip back to the beginning from one of those clips.

Hillsdale College – Resolute

Since 1844, Hillsdale College has provided classical liberal higher education regardless of students’ race, religion, or sex, and was the second college in the United States to grant 4 year degrees to women.

Hillsdale’s opposition to slavery was one of its founding principles. Frederick Douglass was twice a speaker at the college.

The tradition of top quality speakers has continued. You may wish to check out Imprimis, a free monthly digest of Hillsdale College speakers. Scroll through the Contributors selection box and you will see, for example, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Margaret Thatcher, Edward Teller, F. A. Hayek, Victor Davis Hanson, and many, many other great thinkers.

Hillsdale withdrew from all federal assistance in 1984 to avoid the burgeoning interference of Washington bureaucrats which threatened to destroy its mission, and has so severely damaged other institutions and their students.

Hillsdale offers 26 free online courses in topics including Literature, Philosophy, History, Economics, and Politics – including several on our Constitution. One example:
The Great American Story: A Land of Hope

This course explores the history of America as a land of hope founded on high principles. In presenting the great triumphs and achievements of our nation’s past, as well as the shortcomings and failures, it offers a broad and unbiased study of the kind essential to the cultivation of intelligent patriotism.

This preamble cannot convey the value of Hillsdale to our state and our country, but I hope it will encourage you to read this letter published in The Hillsdale Collegian:

On the College and Silence: A letter from Hillsdale College

This letter is highly, highly recommended. It is inspiring and principled. It begins:

Amidst the events of recent weeks, a number of alumni and others have taken up formal and public means to insist that Hillsdale College issue statements concerning these events. The College is charged with negligence — or worse.


This is one of the very few times I have used my ‘academia’ category on a positive post.

Victor Davis Hanson at Hillsdale

I attended Victor Davis Hanson‘s lecture at Hillsdale College yesterday evening. The topic: “How a Border War in Europe Led to World War II”. Excellent. Dr. Hanson has an amazing command of history.

The good news is, you can watch it here. Well worth it.

You can also visit Dr. Hanson’s blog with that link, or by using the left hand menu on TOC.

The Moral Foundations of Society

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Thatcher.

I can think of no better tribute than the email I received today from Hillsdale College.

A Message from Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn:

Lady Thatcher, born Margaret Roberts in 1925, was one of the most important and beneficial statesmen of the twentieth century. When she came to power in 1979, her nation was held in the grip of unions that had command of the largest political party in the state. They used that power to shut down industries and even sections of the country at will to make employment demands. Rather than resist, the government would collude in crippling strikes. Margaret Thatcher was elected with a promise to stop these practices, and in a series of dramatic confrontations in her first year she was successful. She did not seek, she said, to adjust the power from labor to capital, but rather to return the government to serving the whole people and the public interest.

In 1982, she sent British forces to war against the junta in Argentina, which had invaded the Falkland Islands, a British protectorate. Britain won that war with the help of the United States and its president, her friend, Ronald Reagan. The Falklands are in dispute between Britain and Argentina today, and the current administration in Washington is less friendly to Britain. The people of the Falklands, whenever they are asked, still indicate in overwhelming numbers that they wish to remain as they are.

The only statue of Lady Thatcher in North America stands on the Hillsdale College campus. She visited the campus in 1994 and spoke at college events on several occasions. We are proud to have known her. At our spring convocation on Thursday we will say prayers of thanksgiving for her life and service.

Here is the text of a speech Mrs. Thatcher gave at Hilsdale, and from which this post takes its title.

The Parliament of Mad

Mark Steyn spoke at Hillsdale College last night and I was lucky enough to be there.

Hillsdale was the first American college to prohibit in its charter all discrimination based on race, religion, or sex, but is probably most well known for its refusal of government funding. Steyn is a regular speaker at Hillsdale.

Steyn’s “text” as Mark Twain would say, arose from the poem Locksley Hall, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Tennyson wrote the poem when he was 26, in 1835. In it, he describes a utopian vision.

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain’d a ghastly dew
From the nations’ airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro’ the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapped in universal law.

Last night, Steyn spoke eloquently and humorously about the threat of such a “world federation of universal law based on the common sense of most.” Warning that pursuing Tennyson’s vision is the road to totalitarianism, he gave examples of the IAEA, the IPCC, the UN; and, paradoxically, Western democratic governments: “Watching China, India and Russia save the world from the economic disaster western nations intended to foist upon themselves at the recent Copenhagen conference, one can only be grateful.” (I paraphrase.)

Another example, Steyn says, is that it is no surprise that after 2 generations of Americans have marinated in educational institutions designed to emphasize cultural relativism that the Army Chief of Staff could say, “It would be a shame — as great a tragedy as this was — it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well,” after 14 Americans died in the Fort Hood massacre: “When the Chief of Staff of your Army sounds like a San Francisco school superintendent, you’re in trouble.”

Steyn’s remarks will appear in Imprimis. Look for it.

In writing this I looked for a site to allow copy and paste of that portion of Tennyson’s poem Steyn quoted yesterday. As a result, I became aware that Tennyson revisited Locksley Hall in 1886 with the poem Locksley Hall Sixty Years After (1886).

There is a pessimism and disappointment evident in this poem; and what amounts to an extended rebuke to the young, perhaps even to the young Tennyson. The utopian longing remains, but it seems that lack of progress toward this goal has taken a toll on the older Tennyson.

Chaos, Cosmos! Cosmos, Chaos! once again the sickening game;
Freedom, free to slay herself, and dying while they shout her

Bring the old dark ages back without the faith, without the hope,
Break the State, the Church, the Throne, and roll their ruins down
the slope.

Given the dire consequences we experience today from the politically correct poppycock Tennyson foreshadowed in 1835, perhaps it is fair to read these excerpts as second thoughts.

I would be remiss here if I did not thank Mike for a tour of the campus. Impressive. Especially the Mossey Library Heritage Room.

P.S. I sometimes think of Mark Steyn as a fusion of H. L. Mencken and P. J. O’Rourke. If you don’t already know his stuff, you should really check it out.

America Alone is essential reading.

Passing Parade is certainly the best compendium of obituaries ever written. No, that’s wrong, it’s a compendium of the best obituaries ever written – with humor and affection. Highly recommended.

There’s lots more Steyn at the opening link.

Update 13-March 11:50AM: Welcome to visitors from SteynOnline. And here is a podcast of Mark talking to Elliot Gaiser at Hillsdale.

The terms Instalanche and Slashdotted come to mind. If there is such a term for SteynOnline I don’t know it. Steynstampede?