Brits Say The Funniest Things (Pt. 1 of a Series)

Outgoing British Ambassador to the U.S. Sir David Manning hints that rumors of the death of American power have been greatly exaggerated. While not Churchillian in his buck up, suck up utterances, Manning managed not to blame us for stealing all the good BBC shows and often ruining them. Or for exporting the worst of our culture and media excrement to London and Manchester.

It’s very easy to underestimate the power of this country to reinvent itself. There is still an extraordinary energy here. If you want something done, America is still the place to come and look for the pioneering new technology, the capital formation, the people who will take the risks.

Manning was replying to Gordon Brown’s new Foreign Secretary David Miliband who essentially said the age of American preponderance was over. New powers such as China and Russia had already emerged — i.e., Kissinger’s Pentapolar World had finally arrived, albeit 30 some years overlate.  [The Stiftung’s reply to Miliband another day].


We compare Manning’s observations with those offered by another British ambassador of a sorts, Mr. Peter Townshend, shown here in December 1979 at the old ice hockey/concrete arena horror known as the Capitol Centre in DC. It’s located just across the Beltway from the toilet bowl where the Redskins strive for mediocrity.

To set the stage, as it were, it was the end of an era — the 1960s and 1970s lazy follow-on were clearly dying. All sorts of apocalyptic futures were in the air (the Sovs just went into Afghanistan and who could imagine them losing?). We had just gotten kicked out of ‘Me Love You Long Time-Ville’.

Tweety’s Peanut Farmer. Hostages in Iran. Almost 20% inflation. Another gas rationing crisis. The new ghastly Oldsmobile Cutlass a foretaste of GM’s collapse in the 1980s. The White House blaming everything on Americans themselves with Jimmy’s mayonnaise malaise speach, etc. The Bee Gees everywhere. Desperate times. Desperate times.

And to top it off, the Who were touring the first time without Moonie. This band, its memory by now in 2007 diluted by re-unions and what not, in the late 1960s and 1970s still was indeed “the Greatest Live Rock n Roll Band”. And now they added keyboards and a kick horn section? To purists, all blasphemy. Yet, the 1979 shows may well have been the best pop music concerts the Stiftung has ever witnessed in any decade. YMMV.  (To that certain someone at the Daily Show, did we not deliver those front row photos or WHAT?)

Another UK Ambassador of a sorts

So Pete gets up to the mike in the middle of the set and starts talking about what America meant to him and the band. And how he has seen it from almost a teenager’s eyes and later through endless touring (and hotel destroying with Moonie) in every state. 20,000 people silently were paused on edge now teetering in “enhanced states of celebration” (Animal House was a documentary then. ‘Just Say No’ not even a nightmare on the horizon).

He told us 20,000 then, “Never, ever forget that you are the greatest country in the world, we know you and love you and you will get through all this. I promise.” It moved the crowd in a quiet, gentle way (followed by another hour of high volume, melodic flair and chaos) (they really were a great rock band then).

Pete, a quasi-confused soft socialist nonetheless also supported in public the GLCMs going in to the U.K. 1983, telling Rolling Stone and the British press that ‘How can we turn our backs on America now, and forget that the Americans came over here and saved Western civilization [the Big One]?’ Of course, the Pershing II and GLCMs were requested in 1977 by German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt but if we go down that line we may inadvertently summon up shades of Colin S. Gray, a larval form of today’s Krauthammer. So mum’s the word.

We can’t be too hard on Manning. While at Oriel (Oxford) we are quite sure he did his share of punting and eating cucumber sandwiches. Our connections (such as they are) with Oxford far more tenuous and were via another college. But we did the same — and were even pushed overboard into the river by a face you see leering at you fro time to time on cable talk shows. Manning did manage to party/breeze through S.A.I.S. so he is not wholly unconnected with the American Street, hence perhaps his more sympathetic views.

Nonetheless, Pete’s address meant more to the Stiftung. Then and now. Even with all that followed.


  1. Aldershot says

    *synchronizes watch with Bunker clock*

    *Dons special McLaughlin watching PJs*

    Good night!

  2. Comment says

    Once more into the breach, Aldershot – once more!
    Cry God of Cheney, the Neocons, and Gee Dubs!

  3. Comment says

    We were just kidding – but since you mention Kipling – in his novel “Kim,” he had a variation of the old Harrigan & Hart tune song “Mulligan Guards.” This could also be an anthem for the magazine warrior class.

    …O noble English. that could entertain
    With half their forces the full Pride of France
    And let another half stand laughing by,
    All out of work and cold for action!
    ~From Henry V

  4. Aldershot says

    Well I posted it, O Cynical One, in honor of our British brothers. Aldershot is a town in England, and I selected it from Gunga Din:

    You may talk o’ gin and beer
    When you’re quartered safe out ’ere,
    An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it;
    But when it comes to slaughter
    You will do your work on water,
    An’ you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots of ’im that’s got it.

    -Rudyard Kipling

  5. Comment says

    Ah – St. Crsipian , the patron saint of Ken Adelman and the cakewalk community. But there is a saying, both old and true:
    ‘If that you will France win,
    then with Scotland first begin’

    Aldershot, if memory serves, is a town in Scotland. No?

  6. Aldershot says

    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
    -Shakespeare, Henry V

  7. Armchair says

    Since General Petraeus says Department 2800 (or was it Department 2600?) is such a big problem in Iraq – Why not develop an EBO munition that just takes out 2800 (2600) but leaves Department 3.14159265357989 intact so we have someone to negotiate with?

  8. DrLeoStrauss says

    Naturally, the Air Force is wholly committed to precision strike solutions using their quaint notions of effects based operations (EBO). It’s their raison d’etre and with the upcoming massive procurement wars looming in the Pentagon, you want to use your toys to justifty buying new ones.

    If one wants to see what jargon, kool aid ad Mad Libs can do in lethal combination, just pull down some EBO presenations (usually power points). I always wished that Dan Ackroyd and Belushi in their prime could have done a parody briefing.

    Of course, they misread the lesson of the Balkins, believing their own PR that air power alone can win a war — the Israelis, drinking from the American kool aid for change, made the same mistake in 2006 in Lebanon. This latest Syrian escapade an attempt to restore the Israeli Air Force’s suassion image/deterrent as much as anything.

    So sure, the AF will draw up target sets till the cows come home. There will be plenty of opportunities for Shinseki-esque moments before Congress and other venues and we remain fairly confident that this time, it will not be a lone person speaking the truth who will or could get knee capped liked Shinseki.

    Having said that, per the earlier arbitration agreement, we did note, however, that all it took to get Khan to follow the Enterprise into the nebula trap was “I laugh at the superior intellect”.

  9. Aldershot says

    “…nor do we believe the chain of command, which goes from Warlord to Gates, but omits Cheney, etc. is prepared to salute and hold silent, even if we are talking primarily an AF/Naval Desert Fox airstrike replay.”

    I’ve read that the Air Force wouldn’t mind; can’t remember where though…link fatigue…

    OK, Doc, here’s the thing. Isn’t it technically better for the officers to follow orders in order to preserve the integrity of the constitution, because otherwise it’s the equivalent of martial law, anarchy, chaos, etc.

    How would it literally play out? Would he call the Joint Chiefs and give the order, and they would say no? Would they physically isolate Cheney? Would charges be brought up? Things were hush-hush as you described the managing of Nixon. This sounds much more complicated and open.

  10. Comment says

    If Mrs. Clinton defeats Obama (which is likely, just as Microsoft defeated Apple in sales), then goes on to defeat The Mitt Romney or Rudy, then a war with Iran will be delayed for sure. Sure – she will string along those cryptic neocons embedded in her orbit, but she will be too conscious of not bringing about a disaster – esp in the Mid East

  11. Armchair says

    re Wurmserian Rodomontade aside, it looks like the neocons are ready for a National Mobilization. Sources tell us that Bill Kristol installed a chin-up bar in the Weekly Standard offices.

  12. DrLeoStrauss says

    All of them (Clemons et al. and Col. Lang) are focusing on the internal baseball in a Beltway-centric p.o.v. Completely natural given the last 7 years. The ‘concurrence’ is a destination reached by different paths. We are not relying on Wurmser chatter — recall the Stiftung first met him in the early 1980s.

    We focus on objective limitations. The difference between now and 2002 is that the American Army and its train of parasite corporate hangers on is already facing strategic defeat in both Iraq and Afghanistan, well within the reach of direct Iranian retaliatory action and proxy action.

    The American Army is in no shape to engage Iranians. In both circumstances, Iran has enormous, truly enormous, capacity directly and indirectly to complicate if not turn our Iraqi strategic retreat into a geopolitical disaster and casualty high calamity. Tolls far higher than Americans are intolerant of now.

    Col. Lang also forgets that Congress GAVE the Warlord the AUMF against Iraq. The Stiftung does not believe another will be granted now, nor do we believe the chain of command, which goes from Warlord to Gates, but omits Cheney, etc. is prepared to salute and hold silent, even if we are talking primarily an AF/Naval Desert Fox airstrike replay.

    Particularly with Admiral Fallon now revealed as contemptuous of Petraeus and his so-called plan and the diagnosis of the situation in Iraq. The CENTCOM Commander is a non-trivial player in this situation, especially as Gates is no Rummy and Fallon is no artillery dullard like Franks. And especially as the Army and Marines will be the ones paying the price in blood for the aftermath.

    Add in the IC and other sources for leaks, etc. and we doubt the Warlord could ever pull off an American BOOB attack (Bolt out of blue) (although it would be a BOOB attack otherwise).

    If Israel was unwise enough to launch a half-assed attack on Iran to try and drag in the U.S. (recall Kristol saying “It’s Our War Now” (the ‘our’ there subject to different readings) about expanding Lebanon 2006 into Syria), imagine Americans seeing Iranian and Shia retaliation on American troops and the casualties all directly tied to Israeli self-interest and manipulation.

    We happen to agree with Abizaid that the Persians have a return address. Deterrence worked against Communism and Stalinism.

    Even absent that, we stand by what we’ve said before. It will take 10 years or more to reconstitute a viable Force and strategic reserve. This 2015-2020 timeframe is approximate to when Iranian capacity to field a viable and deliverable *regional* weaponized nuclear device. Flowing the Force back in region with the possibility of port of acccess denial (via Iranian nuke or otherwise, etc.) all part of the difficulty. A fighting entry makes an Iranian war something that would require the national mobilization of the U.S. akin to WW II and Korea, given the Iranian/regional Shia population densities.

    Such a misadventure could also very well be the point when the U.S. is presented with its own Suez Crisis, i.e. when our Chinese creditors and the even more wealthy than today Russians side with the Iranians. And just say no.

  13. Comment says

    It seems Tweety has long tried to reconcile his head and heart – but this is nothing new for most people. But what makes Tweety dissonant is that he has the traditional “head” concerns in his heart and the traditional “heart” values in his less compelling head. Like a lot of Republicans, he takes movies too seriously in terms of message, but he does not take art or pop culture seriously on its own terms. Or he denies its value.
    He wants to be a good Catholic but lacks the rigor of Buchananesque orthodoxy and Pat’s unrestrained prejudice, but unlike other more nimble minds he cannot reconcile the various paradoxes and ironies. So he sluices his spiritual crisis into a pool of old skool ethniki Catholic nostalgia. He ends up lashing out at modern liberal women – esp if they are educated, but make slip ups in punditry.

  14. Comment says

    We do have a big problem with that whole lineup of shows – but we think we will soon not have them on our cable system anyway – so there you go. We have often felt that liberals and oppositionists would be wise to ignore Rupe’s channel because their bias is discounted in the minds of people – It’s the ostensibly liberal Tweety and the other strange hosts who propel much of the trivia and tripe. Even though Comment tries to stay informed about things, we are amazed to find out so many things we heard on Hardball about such and such a person are not true.Recently,Tweety just sort of implied Hillary has to worry about Waxman digging up into Vince Foster’s death. What a terrible thing to say in passing. Tweety decided which women get complimented on their looks – and which don’t.Strange.

  15. Dr Leo Strauss says


    One is struck by a profound and dramatic change in Tweety’s on air posing. Despite his revisionism, he was complicit in and in the argot of the kids “down with” the Unified Goverment, 2002 up though September 2006. Who can forget that on air toe tapping with Tom Delay inadvertantly caught on camera and broadcast “Thank you so much for this Tom, I owe you”, etc. and etc. and etc. Over and over again. The list of his servicing the regime and its messaging is endless. His faux blue collar Catholic authoritarianism and Goldwater Boy background perfectly at home. He was one of the swells.

    Only when the November 2006 calamity became inevitable did he begin the first concerted on air effort to repeatedly mention Neocons and distance himself from the regime. Although even now, his unconstrained misogyny and penchant for authoritarianism shines through, especially in the French kissing he does with Buchanan, etc. That whole ‘network’ at MSNBC/NBC deserves its own ‘special comment’ at some point.

    But something is different with Tweety — beyond tacking with the new political breeze. Lately, he has, to use a Malkinism, seemingly become ‘unhinged’. We can see see nothing objectively different in the outside world from either before or after November 2006 to cause such a dramatic shift. At the risk of raising a touchy subject, he was recently experiencing health issues related to blood sugar levels. We say that with true solicitude rather than snark. Blood sugar levels can have a dramatic impact on personality and expression and as we know, lead to very serious complications. Despite our professional disdain for him, the Stiftung personally wishes that he and his family enjoy health and happiness in their personal lives. The change in his on air personality seems real to us.

    Nonetheless, MSNBC has become as unwatchable to us as FOX beginning with the Tweety/Tucker complex up through their B roll shows. Even Olbermann’s once refreshing candor itself devolving into self-parody.

    How do you both stand it?

  16. Comment says

    Aldershot – we totally agree – The kid is drunk with ideology and he thinks its loyalty to country – You could see his cognitive dissonance/breakdown take place barely beneath the surface when he had to balance deference to rank with his limited sensibility and ignorance of the Constitution. Clark was measured and let his opponent’s nervous eyes and jumpy palaver tell the tale.

  17. Aldershot says

    Rohrabacher especially gets on my nerves.

    I’m not big fan of Wes Clark’s, but I appreciated how he handled that kid on Tweety tonight.

  18. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Beyond what was said, this blogger sayeth not.

    re Dana, if one of those private space companies can actually make a tin can that reaches orbit, it just might be possible to encourage him . . .

  19. Comment says

    Interesting exchange with Roherbacher and Holbrooke on c-span. Roherbacher is acting like a flustered – seeming to take sincere offense at Holbrookes semi-dismissal of Petreaus testimony. But Holbrooke patronizes and subtly compliments the congressman. Holbrooke smoothly offers his establishmentarian soft partition idea (which seems where the O’Hanlon crowd is pretending to be converted to favoring) – It is sort of a puzzling thing – maybe class related, why certain congressman take offense at insults directed against Generals.

  20. Comment says

    Pinkerton favors resurrecting the concept of Christendom as a tactic to save the west from Moslem hordes – Lepanto and all that good stuff. He uses Tolkien instead of Dune.

  21. DrLeoStrauss says

    We stopped reading Pinkerton and no interest. re the graphic, yes, we know the 117s are being phased out in a vain effort to free up money to prop up the bloated F-22. We just liked playing with the 3D model.

  22. Comment says

    Did his address mean more than the well rehearsed “Thank you America, Thank you Bush” in Firdos square?

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