And on the pedestal these words appear:Alexander the Great is not lightly called "The Great". He took on the greatest Empire of the Ancient World, and overthrew it. Outnumbered three to one or more, he routed the Persian's vast armies, burned their capital of Persepolis, and marched his rag-tag army to the banks of the Indus river. We are told by the chronicles that then he wept that there were no more lands to conquer. Out of the ashes of Persepolis grew a new Hellenistic culture blending Greek with middle eastern which was perhaps his greatest legacy, and which spread far beyond the borders of his empire - even into the India of Ashoka the Great.
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley
The Romans simply thought him the greatest general of all time. Julius Caesar wept at the sight of Alexander's statue, thinking himself unworthy by the comparison to Alexander's feats. Not least of these was undoing the fiendishly complicated Gordian Knot, of which it was said that whoever untied it would rule all Asia. Alexander drew his sword and hacked it apart. The Romans much admired this approach.
Alexander was able to conquer because he knew three key facts:
- His army, man-for-man, was better than the Greeks'. Since the Greeks had defeated the Persians, his army must be much better than theirs.
- The Persian army was a swarm, huge and fearsome to behold, but unwieldy. A single point of decision on the battlefield will be the scene of the breakthrough, and once broken, the enemy would rout.
- The point of decision would be at the location of Darius, the King of Kings. Personal courage will win - or lose- the day.
There is a mighty empire ruling this land of ours, and Imperial Bureaucracy numbering nearly three million souls. Guided by the multitudes of K Street, they make rules and regulations that bind us with many chains, and like his late Majesty King George have sent hither swarms of officers, harassing our people and eating out their substance. Our only recourse is the 535 Senators, Representatives, and Delegates, whom we may choose to re-elect or not. Many people look at this horde of Imperial power and despair.
I do not. While no Alexander, I believe three key facts that will gain us our freedom:
- While numerous, the Federal hordes are unwieldy. Risk-Adverse, they lack our passion and like the Persian hordes of old will not stand battle for long. They have in the past co-opted new Congressmen, but can only do so if the field of battle is ceded to them.
- There is a single point of decision on this battlefield. The hordes are fearsome to behold, and we need staying power to defeat them. Congressmen will go wobbly, and to prevent this the message must be simple and sustainable. That message is Jobs and standard of living.
- Message control is no longer possible for the left. The Long March Through The Institutions has destroyed the Institutions, and the Internet is bypassing the former gatekeepers. This signal about jobs and standard of living can no longer be jammed. All we need is a leader to get on message, stay on message, and bypass the gatekeepers to get the message out.
We're told that the size of government cannot be reduced, as if there's some sort of Brezhnev Doctrine that says once hired, never fired, and nothing but pay raises forever. We're seeing a repudiation of that:
This repudiation is not coming from the Barbarous fringes of the empire, but from one of the bluest of Blue States. Listen to the crowd react when Gov. Christie tells the teacher that she doesn't have to stay in that job. That crowd doesn't accept the old "you have to suffer higher taxes - reduced standard of living". Chris Christie understands our three key facts. Sarah Palin does, too.
Christie uses Youtube better than any politician today. He's direct, blunt, easy to understand, and he keeps on-message. The gatekeepers cannot jam his signal, and he's routing the Imperial Bureaucracy in New Jersey. Palin has two million fans on Facebook. While her message discipline isn't as good as Christie's, she is doing something very interesting: her "Mama Grizzly" strategy is likely to attract a lot of latter-day feminists - those who believe in equality but who reject the "Feminist" label, building a coalition that cuts into the normal Democrat power base. Facebook means that the gatekeepers can't jam the signal here, either.
We are entering a decade of opportunity, as the key pillars of the Left collapse. First will be Health Care, as the mandates bite and people find out that it threatens their jobs and standard of living. Now that Nancy Pelosi got the House to vote for it, we'll see what's in it, and what we'll see will be very ugly indeed:
Last year, the administration grew fond of "double counting" the savings from the Medicare cuts in health care reform--claiming that they'd reduced the deficit, paid for reform, and extended the life of the Medicare trust fund. Eventually, Republicans got around to asking for an analysis from the CBO, which told us what anyone who ever took first year accounting already knew: this is not true. If you used the savings to "pay for" the new spending, you can't also say that you've used them to shore up the finances of Medicare.After this, we'll see the collapse of Medicare and Medicaid, around the middle of the decade. By late in the decade we'll see the collapse of Social Security. In each of these cases, the response of the Imperial Bureaucracy will be to reach deeper into America's pocket, costing jobs and reducing everyone's standard of living.
During the election, I supported Obama's candidacy in part because he seemed to be serious about producing good numbers for his programs. It's extraordinarily dismaying to see his Health and Human Services Secretary so firmly committed to making obviously misleading claims about his largest legislative achievement. [*]
Someone will come up with the idea of cutting a million headcount from the government rolls, saving enough money to "save" one or more of these programs. The American people will like this idea. That's the opening, the critical point of decision on this battlefield.
And that's why it's so terribly important that we vote out the incumbents. They've all been co-opted by the Imperial power structures. Republicans are just as co-opted as Democrats, so simply replacing the Tweedle-Dee party with the Tweedle-Dumb party won't change anything. Replacing anyone who shows the slightest sign of joining the Zombie Horde will keep the 535 in fear of us - and they need to fear us more than they are tempted by them. Only at that point can a Chris Christie or a Sarah Palin lead the charge that will break the Imperial Power.
Because only then will the offer of big campaign cash from the Public Employee Unions, or the K Street Lobbyists be seen as poison. To see the old appeals that it's a crisis, and we have to do it again only harder as poison. And that is the point that the Imperial Hordes will break and rout. First they'll throw their javelin, but if we have them scared, they'll run. And dissolve into dust.
In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,* I'm usually a McArdle fan, but this last confession beggars belief. I expect that the outcome of the Obama experience for many voters will simply be to distrust the Democrats on anything dealing with finances or taxes.
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand." The City's gone,
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.
- Horace Smith
UPDATE 4 August 2010 11:55: Typo fixed. Thanks to roy in nipomo for doing the proofreading that I should have. And in answer to his question, it was unintentional. I typically quite like McArdle's work, but this admission of hers was just stunning. I mean, she actually expected a Democrat to tell the truth about the actual cost of new social spending programs? Srlsy?
UPDATE 5 August 2010 10:51: Mark Alger has a very interesting riff on this at Eternity Road.