Summer Fundraiser 2016, Day Four
This is turning out to be a real hotdog of a fundraiser!
I used to worry when these quarterlies came due. That ancient concern most of us have — i.e., “what-if-we-threw-a-party-and- no-one came?” — would be my anticipatory fret. But over the last few years, a delightful phenomenon has replaced my worry: in the week or so before the fundraiser begins, donations appear early, often accompanied by “hope I didn’t miss it” notes. Somehow or other a few readers had internalized the rhythms of this work-in-progress that is Gates of Vienna; thus their concern that they’d missed something. And the funny thing is, the early birds are never the same people; they vary from quarter to quarter. How wonderful is that?
Your response has been global for a while, but new donors from new places always compel my curiosity. Given the great geographical stretch, I get the opportunity to study new territory every time. Google maps and Wikipedia are my companions as I try to imagine what it’s like to live where you do. The variety of places keeps me busy for at least a month afterward, looking at towns and areas I’d never heard of prior to your donation.
There’s always a mix of old and new. Some readers have been giving to the cause since the first fundraiser back in 2008. Others come by just once or twice and move on. Fortunately, the latter are not as numerous as our old faithfuls. With the advent of the internet, the formation of online “friendships” has altered how I view what that word means. If we didn’t do this every day, I’d probably be out doing some kind of volunteer work — limited due to my energy, yeah, but still some kind of connection that made me feel good about being here. Or Being Here, if that suits better. The polarization of our culture has changed so much, particularly our associations. There is no patch I can find not fraught or burdened with politics. Ugh…
We are so very grateful for your response. We could ask all we want, but if few respond we’d have to rethink the whole process. Fortunately, such a re-evaluation isn’t necessary, since this model seems to be working well.
For us, your donations are testament to the hard work our whole team does, day after day. For people new to Gates of Vienna, it may appear that the fellow whose byline appears on the posts is the only one in charge, but if they stick around they become familiar with the reality that this is a team effort on all levels. Yes, on the stage the Baron is the leader but behind the lights, he is the manager who pulls everyone’s efforts into a congruent flow of information. He loves to build teams of workers who can function without him, who suggest work, then do it and show up with the (mostly) finished product. This also gives him a level of satisfaction he lost when he had to stop painting. Now, for fun, he gets to create images. [At the moment he’s enjoying all the things he can do to Angela Merkel, things that would land him in jail were he in Germany. Scratch that: make it things he would think about but never actually create if he had the karmic misfortune to live in Germany.]
Y’all can’t see the ever-expanding team of volunteers. It’s a changing group, but for the most part, once people show up they tend to stay; the group just gets bigger and fewer people are overworked. Forced into being quiet where they live (and, yes, that means here in the U.S., too), Gates of Vienna becomes their refuge, the place they can apply a lifetime of expertise that they’d had to shove under a bushel basket where they live. This team of volunteers, all equally dedicated to pushing back against the mortal damage that Islam’s incursions into the West have wrought, derives the same deep satisfaction we do in making public their efforts.
Yes, it is the Baron’s job to keep all the plates in the air; that’s what a good leader does. But those plates are usually others’ work and it is his particular joy to simply coordinate what they offer to do — e.g., one person translates a video with the times marked. The B then corrects spelling or grammar and, in turn, passes it (I think this “it” is what he and Vlad term an “SRT file” but don’t ask me what that means) on to Vlad. Vlad fits the words to the screen, adds the group watermark at the end, and posts the finished product to whatever venue will accept our work. With racists like us and Vlad and our volunteers, finding an outlet can be problematic at times. Now if we were ISIS, we’d never have a problem finding a place to put it up. Funny how that works in the smothering politically correct West.
With essays, the Baron edits; he has a very light hand with that, too. Essentially he cares that the grammar, syntax, and spelling are okay. He may shorten run-on sentences (that’s especially the case with online essays. They need changes that, say, magazines or books don’t require). Occasionally, say for a writer whose native language isn’t English, he may polish it a bit, but mostly he just formats things to fit our page and style. Then it’s ready for posting.
Because he knows how to meld others’ work, conflict within the team is quite rare. Occasionally someone decides group work isn’t for them, but for people who have reached the stage in life where they have time to do this kind of work and are concerned with the way the world is going…well, mostly they seem to prefer company along the way. But no one needs to tell you, dear reader, that life on the right side can be a lonely adventure at times.
As I mentioned in my last fund-raising post, I’ll be talking more about politics in these final months in the lead-up to the election. Now that the primaries are over and the candidates winnowed down to a final one from each side, it’s time.
Since the theme for this quarter is Dog Days, it might be helpful to consider the 2016 presidential race through the analogy of a canine pack. For one thing, there’s a lot of similarity between human groups and dog packs. Besides the fact that we’re both mammals, humans and dogs are also very social and function at their best in a good group (a “good” group being one with a strong leader who has the instinctual abilities needed to quell the anxiety of the whole pack). For those who have successfully trained a dog to be a member of their family, it is obvious that much of the communication between the dog and his owner is non-verbal. In human groups, they’re finding this to be true even at a distance, i.e., a leader doesn’t have to be present to maintain a vital presence in his group.
[NOTE: When we call someone a “loner” we usually intend to point to an obvious preference for being by oneself, or of someone who doesn’t ‘get’ what it means to join in with others, to participate in a group effort. I don’t mean shy people, or introverts — they need groups just as much as extroverts do, but for different reasons. On the other hand, for those on the autistic spectrum “The Group” can create painful experiences in school settings where there is much jostling for position, and where the group aligns itself in some order of dominance. Even someone on the high end of the autism spectrum misses much of the unspoken energy that flows through peer groups. For whatever quirky brain reason, his Input Button is skewed; he simply doesn’t “get the message”, even though it’s plain to everyone else.
Despite the press attention it gets, though, autism remains out of the ordinary. For whatever reason, ASD seems to be more common than used to be the case. It may be that as our group cohesion becomes more attenuated and fractured, more people — boys, usually but not always — arrive “broken”. For the sake of this discussion, though, let’s stick with people and dogs who are WNL (“within normal limits”) to carry on the comparison.]
There are a surprising number of parallels between canine packs that have a strong leader and human groupings with the same advantage. Both tend to be orderly and predictable. Friction among members is quickly resolved whether or not the leader is present.
The purpose of the canine pack is the same as the purpose of the human group: to manage individual anxiety in order to increase both individual and group functioning. The shallow utopian (often feminist, unfortunately) notion of leaderless collaboration is a fantasy that can never be realized. The qualities of a good leader inhere in both men and women. This was strikingly obvious in the old days when orders of nuns like those of St. Vincent de Paul ran large hospital complexes and ran them well.
The whole world is suffering from a lack of moral leadership. It’s dreadful when the best current example of good leadership we have is Vladimir Putin. He is definitely the leader of the pack in Russia; no one would willingly cross him without being prepared to pay the full price.
Thus, the increasingly totalitarian British justice system is willing to join in with Putin not just to kill Bukovsky but to nullify his life by accusing him of making pornographic pictures of children — not just having such images on his computer, but actually joining in the process of their creation. That’s the revenge which the British Crown Prosecution cooked up in order to persecute this dying man and to ruin the only thing he cared about: his reputation. And what was Bukovsky’s crime, the one for which he must be punished? He testified in court in 2015 about the assassination of Putin-era defector Alexander Litvinenko, mortally poisoned in 2006 by polonium. It is widely believed that Litvinenko’s demise was at the behest of Putin.
Leaders needn’t be virtuous in our sense of the term in order to be considered capable leaders. Thus, Putin qualifies. When he speaks, the world pays careful attention — as Erdogan learned to his sorrow when he failed to show proper contrition for the shooting down of a Russian warplane which had wandered briefly over the border from Syria. Erdogan’s lesson has been learned: don’t get Vlad mad.
A case could also be made that Erdogan’s essentially poor leadership was threatened by the whole mess. Thus he had no choice but to revert to dictatorial mode in order to refurbish his tattered mantle of leadership within Turkey’s own borders due to his bungling of the relationship with Putin.
This is a tragic mess. And part of it is due directly to the Obama administration’s risible, embarrassing lack of leadership in our foreign policy decisions — e.g., to “lead from behind”, to draw imaginary red lines that we then conveniently forgot were there. If there was ever a non-leader in the Oval Office, it is the current occupant. He and his hapless Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, created a vast stretch of chaos and ruin throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The level of destruction is almost beyond comprehension. Based on the harm Clinton did during her term as Secretary of State it is almost unimaginable that anyone would think she possessed any leadership qualities at all, much less enough credibility to serve as the American president. The fact that the DNC chose her as their candidate speaks volumes about the level of corruption and ineptitude currently extant in Washington, D.C. Some of her behavior is actionable, but in this long decline of American leadership across the world, it will simply disappear into the oubliette where all the other Clinton scandals have gone.
I have looked long and hard for any evidence of Clinton’s “leadership” qualities. Her record at Wellesley is unremarkable — an undergraduate thesis paper on Saul Alinksy, the infamous Marxist community organizer. She admired this man who dedicated his own book to Lucifer.
Hillary’s stint at Yale Law School was notable for her managing to snag Bill Clinton while she was there. After graduation, she was given a patronage job. Her short stint in Washington D.C. after law school was marred by charges of unethical conduct during her employment as a staff lawyer working on Nixon’s impeachment. She was let go from that position and moved to Arkansas to join Bill Clinton. The rest, as they say, is history. And a tawdry history it is.
As has always been the case since Bill Clinton first appeared at the New Hampshire primary as a contender for his first presidential run, the press has been openly biased toward the Clintons.
I remember well that first time we heard of him . We were in Northern Virginia visiting at the time and a friend of the Baron’s who closely followed all the election news warned us about “…this fellow, Clinton. Mark my words,” he said, “this good ol’ boy is a slick empty suit but the press loves him. They’ll make sure he gets into the White House”. That was in late 1991 or early 1992; I didn’t believe him, to my chagrin. Right on time they walked into the Oval Office in January 1993 and didn’t leave until 2001. His second term was rife with personal scandals, and Hillary became known for her poor treatment of underlings. Peons — secretaries, clerks, Secret Service aides — avoided her whenever possible. She was infamous for her foul mouth and equally foul disposition.
Her husband, on the other hand, possessed excellent leadership qualities. Even those who knew full well his failings found themselves drawn to “Slick Willie”. His characterological failings, combined with his legacy of ignoring Islamic terror attacks with blithe unconcern will count against him in the next century’s history books. But as the alpha dog in the American union he performed admirably… at least relatively speaking.
Hillary’s “service” to her country has left her immensely wealthy. But it hasn’t made her a leader. She’s simply not one, despite her carefully crafted image and her protestations to the contrary. Her behavior while First Lady was infamous for discourtesy and lawlessness. If it were not for the mendacious mainstream media, she would never have made the ballot.
Her credentials for making lots of money in questionable ways are well-documented.
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s public life is filled to the brim with law-breaking, lying, and obfuscation. Her ability to create disasters abroad are graven in stone by now. Some of them gravestones of the people she let die.
If you can find something positive about Mrs. Clinton’s public life, please let me know. For many years I have found her to be appalling. If you know differently, please tell us.
Next time, I’ll explore the leadership qualities, if any, of her opponent. America is at the crisis point for lack of genuine leadership. It is open to question whether we can survive much longer if that vacuum gets any larger or deeper.
Meanwhile Gates of Vienna sails on to Day Five. As usual, with our deep gratitude to everyone who showed up to donate yesterday:
Stateside: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin
Near Abroad: Canada
Far Abroad: Australia, Austria, the Netherlands, and the UK
|1.||Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by Friedman. Edwin H. ( 2007 ) Paperback
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