Quote, Unquote

“A prince being thus obliged to know well how to act as a beast must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from snares, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognise snares, and a lion to frighten wolves. Those that wish to be only lions do not understand this.”
~ Niccolò Machiavelli

Turn of Phrase

Ruling elites across time and cultures begin to look a little bit alike, at least in broad strokes. They generally are effectively hereditary, even when they are not formally so; imperial China maintained a rigorous civil-service examination system for more than 1,000 years (kéju) but standardized testing did no more to prevent the emergence of a partially hereditary class of bureaucrat-scholars in Luoyang than it has in the Harvard-to-Washington-to-Wall Street cursus honorum. Like our Clinton dynasty, they manage to acquire substantial wealth while rarely if ever engaging in anything that looks to ordinary people like work.

Via The Bright Side of 2016 by Kevin D. Williamson published July 6, 2016 by The National Review.

Turn of Phrase

One of the great oddities, and tragedies, of American life, however, is that the extreme right has only been sporadically quarantined from the reasonable right. Having become accustomed to using the extreme right for non-extreme purposes, American Republicans seem to be in sporadic denial about the necessity of the American equivalent of a republican front, French-style. They engage in elaborate rituals of denial.

Via New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, who can always be counted on to offer deeply insightful analysis wrapped in vivid prose.

Turn of Phrase

“American national-security credibility, as it is conventionally understood in the Pentagon, the State Department, and the cluster of think tanks headquartered within walking distance of the White House, is an intangible yet potent force—one that, when properly nurtured, keeps America’s friends feeling secure and keeps the international order stable.”

Via Jeffrey Goldberg’s cover story in the April 2016 issue of The Atlantic.

Turn of Phrase

As Sweden began to build its social democratic state after the war, the ready acceptance of refugees became a symbol of the national commitment to moral principle. Sweden built a system designed to deliver to refugees the same extensive social benefits that Swedes gave themselves — housing, health care, high-quality education, maternal leave, and unemployment insurance. In the 1980s, Sweden accepted not just Iranians and Eritreans, but Somalis and Kurds. More than 100,000 former Yugoslavs, mainly Bosnians, came in the 1990s. By that time, Sweden was taking about 40,000 refugees a year.

Via James Traub’s ForeignPolicy.com article The Death of the Most Generous Nation on Earth.

Turn of Phrase

In his early career, profilers taking note of his long hair, leather jackets, and loud Hawaiian shirts made Murphy sound like a cross between the wild man of Borneo, Jimmy Buffett, and an unmade futon. These days, his hair is short, and there’s a little less of it to account for. He looks more like a shambling film professor, in smart-guy faculty glasses, Lacoste half-zip, and khakis — his loud rainbow-striped socks being the only sartorial tell that he might still, as a Republican elder once told a reporter, be “in need of adult supervision.”

Via Matt Labash’s article Debriefing Mike Murphy published in the March 28 issue of The Weekly Standard.

Turn of Phrase

American reactions always matter to the British. But transatlantic views of Brexit are especially important for Thatcherite Conservative members of the Leave camp, who made a series of bold promises about how the British would be welcomed into the embrace of an Anglo-Saxon alliance of countries that speak English, take their democratic cues from the Magna Carta, their views of free trade from Adam Smith and would generally rush to offer an attractive free trade agreement to the post-EU Britain in the twinkling of an eye.

Via Brexit: America’s next headache published on June 24, 2016 by The Economist.