Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

I thought one of Mccain’s biggest flaws was his impulsive, angry nature. His choice of Palin as the VP candidate was itself rather impulsive, and, as soon became clear, not very good. Her chief appeal was symbolic for red-staters–she was hated by the same people they thought hate them. But once she opened her mouth, it was incoherent or just run-of-the-mill talking points.

Her recent decision to quit the governorship of Alaska midway through her first term to position herself better for national politics is unwise, unless her goal is to make money on the speech circuit. Rich Lowry I thought explained it best.

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Obama promised us a “new politics” devoid of the rancor, partisan infighting, and nastiness of the last eight years (or more). Instead, we’ve basically gotten standard flip-flopping on issues like Guantanamo Bay’s closure and Chicago-style ethnic payoffs, as evidenced by the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. If Obama wanted the most highly qualified person, he might have considered a man for starters. Once upon a time it was taken for granted that judging was mostly a technical job, reserved for the smart and the least corruptible. In other words, it did not matter if the judge was “representative” because justice was supposed to be blind. If he wanted a strong liberal, he also might have considered Diane Wood, who unlike the intellectually undistinguished (and rumoredly bad tempered Sotomayer), might actually persuade someone once in a while, but she has the demerit of being white.

Sotomayor is obviously not unqualified in the sense of someone who had never thought about the law or Constitution before, as in the case of someone like Hariett Miers; but she is no more qualified than any other random appellate judge. She is totally undistinguished, but for her biography. Obama, though, is ever the politician, and his instincts were honed in Chicago where attending ethnic parades, naming streets after different groups heros like Pulaski and Balboa were the name of the game. It’s a world quite unlike the Mountain West and the Deep South, where appeals to and identification with a distinctly and homogenous American past are the name of the game. Obama’s new politics are an all too familiar and not terribly impressive sub-type of American politics: the regime of big government and ethnic payoffs of Chicago, where he honed his instincts and his sense of political ethics.

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Obama’s economic policies may not work in any normal sense of that term, but they do accrue a great deal of power to him and his administration.  They have a certain crude, short-term, selfish logic for Obama.  Further, they are being suggested by a great many economists, so it’s doubly likely someone already inclined to government action would embrace them.  Likewise, even though Obama’s base is very liberal, he knows that a major security failure will harm him and likely lead to his ouster in 2012.  So, while I think he can mostly care less about foreign policy, he has backtracked from his dumber proposals to quickly shut down Guantanamo Bay and give them normal jury trials in federal court.  It turns out he is using his left-wing base as cynically as Bush used the right-wing base, quickly disappointing them once he is in office.  He spent much of the campaign talking about Abu Ghraib, American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the poor souls at Guantanamo Bay.  Now he’s said he’ll use military tribunals, not publish photos of abused detainees, and keep the Guantanamo Bay detainees indefinitely incarcerated during hostilities.  This is all sensible, of course, but the driving force here is not Obama’s deep patriotism (he lacks it) or his high priority for national security (his apology tour was proof enough of its absence), but instead his well-defined sense of domestic politics, including the unlikelihood white libeals who make up the majority of the human rights movement will defect from him and the high chance any national security failure would be fatal to his continued accrual of power.

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Foreign creditors are getting pretty concerned about the massive dollar devaluation that Obama’s spendy ways entail. Even the Financial Times is talking about the US losing its AAA rating. (Of course, since all of our government debts are dollar denominated, I think this may only be a de facto condition; the debts will get paid with devalued dollars is all.) Nonetheless, tax increases appear inevitable, particularly if Obama wants to expand entitlements to include health care.

Ace notes that this is not what marginal Obama supporters bargained for:

I had thought that Obama’s speech where he reluctantly and sadly tells the middle class he might have to kinda break his campaign pledge and raise their taxes — which will surely be hailed as “The Greatest Speech on Increasing Income and Payroll Taxes Since Lincoln’s Gettysburg Budget Reconciliation Speech” — would be put off, coincidentally enough, to just after Obama’s second inauguration. But now, with his ability to borrow until that point now threatened, he may have to make it sooner.

Which of course raises the Big Question which no one in the media will ask him. He will explain, sadly, that Bush’s recession and “runaway deficits” were/are much worse than he thought, and therefore he cannot both honor his promises to spend like the wind and his promise not to increase taxes on the middle class. (Actually the middle and upper middle class and lower upper class too, as he promised that no one making under $250,000 per year would see an additional “dime” in taxes.) And therefore, with greatest reluctance, you understand, he’ll have to raise taxes.

And he’ll say he has a mandate for that, because that’s what the people voted for.

But they didn’t. They voted, to the extent they voted for any specific plan, for the idea that Obama would spend more, but based on the predicate that he would not under any circumstances raise taxes on anyone except the top 5%. He had a mandate for A, but only if Not B. Well, if that “but only if” part of it fails, he has no mandate any longer for A, either.

The public gave him to mandate to spend, so long as he could do so without raising taxes; if he wants to spend and raise the middle class’ taxes, he’ll need an actual mandate for that proposition, won’t he? As in: Put your spending plans on hold, and run for reelection on the platform of raising taxes to the hilt. And see if America votes for that Hope and Change.

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Dick Morris is a pretty good political prognosticator, and I thought his take on the wide gap between Obama’s policies and policies favored by the majority of Americans coupled with the two or three years of recession we have in store, will make him very unpopular before long. Because of the country’s demographics, I think he’ll be a short-lived and oversold commodity, the national equivalent of a weak leaders perceived to be in the backpocket of pushy interest groups on the local level, like his hero Harold Washington or David Dinkens:

So if voters differ so fundamentally with the president on the very essence of his program, why do they accord him high ratings? They are like the recently married bride who took her vows 100 days ago. It would be a disaster for her life if she decides that she really doesn’t like her husband. But she keeps noticing things about him that she can’t stand. It will be a while before she walks out the door or even comes to terms with her own doubts, but it is probably inevitable that she will.

For Americans to conclude that they disapprove of their president in the midst of an earth-shaking crisis is very difficult. But as Obama’s daily line moves from “I inherited this mess” to “There are faint signs of light,” the clock starts ticking. If there is no recovery for the next six months – and I don’t think there will be – Obama will inevitably become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

And then will come his heavy lifting. He has yet to raise taxes, regiment healthcare or provide amnesty for illegal immigrants. He hasn’t closed down the car companies he now runs and he has not yet forced a 50 percent hike in utility bills with his cap-and-trade legislation. These are all the goodies he has in store for us all.

I would add that any major national security failure or terrorist attack will instantly remind voters that Bush, for all his faults, made security a priority and prevented such disasters after 9/11, while Obama has been far more concerned with procedural regularities, impressing our largely invulnerable friends in Europe, and obscuring the nature and magnitude of the threat.

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Interesting piece by Rich Lowry on how, for Obama, America’s history does not matter, and he does not conceive of himself as a defender of America’s reputation.  For him, it’s practically year zero.  To me this has as much to do with his narcissism as his philosophy. It’s all about him! And if he wasn’t around when America did something–such as the very morally defensible, if disastrous, Bay of Pigs invasion–then it should not matter.

On a related matter, Buchanan notes that the Achilles Heel of Democrats has long been their perceived lack of patriotism, and Obama’s recent road show will not help.  I think this is right, though I also agree (and wrote earlier this week) that America may have changed so much that the old Real America may not be numerous enough to slow him down.  Obama has to show himself a champion of America as a vital, historical entity, not simply as a partisan for a grab-bag of liberal principles.  Bush too got burned on this when he pushed amnesty as aggressively as he did.  I think this will be difficult for Obama, though, because he has almost no experience outside of Chicago and the strange locale of Hawaii.  He is a bit of a stranger to his country, in particular to the values and way of life in its interior. He also lacks affection for much of is past, which, though perhaps understandable, does not make him well suited for sustaining the affection of a great many Americans.

I’m no great fan of torture, particularly in the way it was couched in extreme legalism under the Bush administration.  I feel an aggressive application of the pardon power is the better solution in war time, rather than having such terrible acts done deliberately, with the patina of legality, and the consequent degradation of lawmakers and the law.  But I think it’s profoundly dishonest for Obama and others to say constantly that there is no choice between security and “our values.”  There are choices, and they need to be made and defended honestly based on what they entail.   Obama’s days of voting “present” are over.  I confess, I don’t fully understand the critics’ passion on this issue.  There are times when torture might work in saving Americans from a major disaster; an honest opponent of torture–like an honest defender of civil rights–would acknowledge that there are times when we should suffer in order to follow through on this moral commitment, though I think here the scale of harm is so much greater than ordinary crime that it’s a much closer moral question.  War time, unlike ordinary policing, is a different realm, and this is something the lawyer Obama and his numerous lawyer advisers fail to appreciate.  There is little chance any American citizen would be “tortured.”  The victims are all foreigners of one kind or another, in fact all high ranking al Qaeda members.   So long as “rough interrogations” are directed outward, the harm is confined to strange enemies, not potentially innocent accused Americans.  Further, this talk of “our values” is a little results-oriented and astorical  Our “values” did not prevent some pretty rough treatment of the Indians or Japanese.  Waterboarding was common in Vietnam.  George Washington had military commissions, as did FDR.  So “our values” apparently means “today’s liberal values” for most who invoke this question-begging phrase.  I think Obama also will find out that the various perma-bureaucracies in DC, particularly the CIA, have ways of getting even to perceived disrespect, as evidenced this week by the leakage of memos on the effectiveness of torture in preventing a 9-11 style attack on L.A.

Lucian Reed’s photographic essay of combat in Iraq, particularly with the audio of actual combat, is haunting and powerful.  I found him at the Battle Space photography portal. It’s funny how much the media has dropped Iraq; there’s still a war going on, and those of us in military families can’t afford to “tune out.”

Closer to home, a scathing portrait of Tim Geithner.

The economy still looks pretty grim, and the “bear market rally” of the last few months has been a very low volume play thing of day traders and perpetual bulls, as best I can tell.  One area that is rallying, in spite of drops in commodity prices, is ammunition. While gun prices have dropped some since January, ammo’s getting impossible to find, and price has tripled from 2-3 years ago.  People who used to have a hundred rounds or so sitting around the house are, quite obviously, stockpiling.  This is Obama-inspired, mostly, but it’s also inspired by the general fear out there among the peasantry.  This is or course a smallish market with various impediments to entry and importation, and it’s subject to occasional panics like this one.  Then again, this may be “how it is” so long as a gun-grabber is in the White House.

As a “signs of the times,” perhaps fearful of the devalued dollar, China has assumed a much larger gold position in the last several years.

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Apparently, Obama made a lot of friends at the G-20 summit, not least through his conciliatory speech that recognized America’s arrogance in the form of unilateral policies on the War on Terror. And what did it garner? Massive troop commitments to fight al Qaeda? Unanimity in the face of North Korea’s provocative long range missile test? A Russian commitment to withdraw from South Ossetia? No, nothing at all, just some words of congratulation with the usual pusilaniminousness about anything that might actually require Europe to behave like a normal collection of strong nations, rather than a bunch of spoiled welfare cases living under the American security umbrella.

I would add that Obama’s idea we need a “civilian surge” in Afghanistan, an idea that appeals to peaceniks and Europeans alike, suffers from the same problem that Iraq labored under in 2004-2007: without real security, nothing of note can really be accomplished by civilian advisors and, even if some combination of military and civilian nation-building ultimately is successful, it may be overkill if the chief U.S. interest is stopping terrorists from organizing and training in a manner capable of doing harm to the civilized world.

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Foreign policy is a bit like insurance.  Most voters don’t think about it very much, and it doesn’t make the front page news, until something really bad happens. Foreign policy–in particular, foreign policy failures–have much to do with any president’s legacy.  Upon assuming office, Bush had a real passion for tax cuts, legalizing Mexican illegal immigrants, and moving Medicare and Social Security towards privatization.  Instead, after 9/11, he became a “war president,” and his deep unpopularity stemmed in large part from the long duration and indifferent results of the Iraq War.

Obama has never apparently thought much about foreign policy before becoming President.  His passions were personal and domestic:  a quest for identity through inner-city black power politics.  To the extent he has expressed thoughts about foreign policy at all, he has been vaguely anti-imperialist, anti-military, and pro-Third-World. Such views dovetail nicely, after all, with his domestic politics.  In addition, he fancied himself during the presidential campaign as the master of nuance, whose soft touch and appreciation for complexity stood in sharp contrast to Bush’s expressions of American exceptionalism.

How’s Obama doing? Well, perhaps still angry at his father’s treatment under British rule of Kenya, he recently, and without provocation, insulted the British Prime Minister, our long-standing ally in a great many wars and crises.

Now, in a story not widely reported, he’s formally committed to continuing American military support for Georgia, a nation run by the madman Saakashvili with whom we share few interests.  This action’s only strategic importance is that our presence there is considered extremely provocative by its Russian neighbor.  Everyone now pretty much acknowledges that Georgia started the war in South Ossetia last summer, that it is an indefensible country that must make peace with its large neighbor, and that any commitment thereto would further extend our thinly stretched military leading to a possible disastrous clash with the world’s second largest nuclear power.  No change to believe in here.

On his centerpiece concern of Afghanistan, for no apparent reason, Obama has publicly insulted its Prime Minister, Hamid Karzai, apparently shifting the blame for our lackluster results in Afghanistan to this unlikely scapegoat.  This kind of comment suggests someone unable to switch his tone from the variously permissive venues of academic hall, senior staff meeting, and public square.  In other words, you don’t think out loud when talking about other nation’s leaders. Further, the content itself evidences willful ignorance, letting Pakistan’s occasionally disloyal intelligence operatives off the hook, and, to be fair, not grappling with our own mistaken strategy and tactics.  Anyone genuinely concerned with U.S. counterinsurgency must notice that the U.S.’s extensive use of aerial bombs and penchant for heavy firepower routinely kills innocent rural Afghans and further alienates them from our goals and the Karzai government.

Finally, his economic policies have annoyed the Chinese, Germans, and French. Chicago politics did not require ideological choices rooted in principle, but rather chiefly consisted of payoffs to aggrieved ethnic constituencies. After leaving Chicago, as U.S. Senator, Obama focused on himself, the lunacy of the Iraq War, and uncontroversial projects like the Lead Free Toys Act. Now he must deal with genuine, principled, and likely irreconcilable conflicts regarding a complicated and worsening economic crisis.  I predict many more stumbles, some with real consequences.

How could this all be?  Even I’m a bit surprised. I would suggest that Obama is an example of what teenagers call “a legend in his own mind.”  He never really considered these issues deeply.  And his political life has been characterized by incubation in super-liberal Hyde Park, relatively liberal Illinois, nonideological Chicago ethnic politics, and a successful confrontation with an uninspiring GOP candidate in the general election.  Obama’s always been introspective, race-obsessed, and self-obsessed as evidenced by the tortured prose of his first book, Dreams of My Father. But foreign policy requires more than brains and self-knowledge, but empathy, perspective, good sense, a deep store of knowledge, a good decision-making process, and a sense of limitations.  For America, at this time, it calls above all for humility.  Nothing in Obama’s policies or personal story exemplify much of this, nor does he have the personal failures, setbacks, and chastening confrontations with disaster that gave men like George Bush Sr., Harry Truman, and Richard Nixon a great deal of foreign policy horse sense.

Obama’s a conventional and very lucky politician, surrounded until recently by a sycophantic press corps.  In his chosen arena, he has mostly faced opposition from weak and (with the exception of McCain) scandal-ridden competitors.  Throughout his adult and political life he’s been coddled in one way or another by the high hopes and guilty fears of liberal whites. This is bad training and has bred in Obama an overinflated ego and sense of ability.  This schtick won’t fly so much overseas, not least because, for the rest of the world, Obama’s simply the head of a very powerful nation with policies that many oppose for reasons of perceived interest rather than bad faith.  His words won’t soothe foreign nations and foreign peoples, because they are much more focused upon the ways obscure U.S. policies may harm their interests.  Worse still, a great number of foreigners want to see the U.S. fail because of lesser motives like pride and envy.  Obama thinks that he can get a pass on this last piece because he too is one of the erstwhile oppressed, but I would suggest that it’s pretty hard to play that card when travelling by Air Force One and commanding the still mighty wealth and power of the United States.

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If we’re going to be spending tons of money on helping banks and dying, mismanaged companies, would it be too much to ask that the redistribution does not go from the productive 25% or so of this country to the risk-preferring .0001% on Wall Street, but that these huge sums actually goes to homeowners in some plan that injected capital into their pockets or forgave their debt in the process? Perhaps such a plan would allow those with reasonable prospects of repayment to pay down 25% of principal or lock in 5% notes over 40 years or something else that actually will not quickly blow up in the government’s face. Wouldn’t this be preferable to the current scheme whereby the housing-induced insolvency for banks is resolved by moving huge sums of taxpayer dollars around from AIG to Goldman or Credit Suisse and then back into the pockets of a few sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, bank bond holders, and the like?

I mean, I’m not for any of this, but between helping Bear Stearns, GMAC, and AIG with capital infusions and helping average guys who are upside down on their houses, I guess I’d rather just have good, old-fashioned wealth redistribution. After all, the latter arguably would help more people, cut out the middle man in the form of the banks getting direct cash infusions and FDIC leverage, and would at least spread out the benefit of the inevitable inflation that we will face as result of the Treasury’s abject terror at the prospect of a few big banks’ failing. Welfare at least is more transparent and likely to create some Republican (and renter) backlash in comparison to the dishonest claims of “investment,” “emergency,” and Rooseveltian prescience surrounding the bank bailouts.

Of course, the banks have in reality failed, and they are insolvent. The loss is simply being spread to the taxpayers and the few well run banks through FDIC premiums. None of these measures will replace the huge sums of lost wealth nor lead to more lending–for housing or anything else.  Why?  Because the whole economy is uncertain, malinvested, and buried under huge sums of debt undertaken in times where we collectively foresaw a rosier future, and Obama’s reactive responses to these phenomena increase uncertainty, which is a major impediment to wealth creation and risk-taking economic behavior.

What exactly is propelling this Democratic Tribune of the People to spend so much money and political capital to bail out mismanaged bank shareholders and bond holders, who in effect endorsed the banks’ acquisition of huge positions in MBS and ABS products? I don’t think, like Clinton, he is a kind of globalist pro-capital guy, who wants to help international capital so long as DC gets a slightly larger cut. Judging by his rhetorical clumsiness on this issue, it seems more likely that Obama is acting out of a combination of ignorance, fear, and insecurity. After all, it would take real philosophical vision of free markets or a philosophical commitment to Krugman-style redistribution to stare down Bernanke and Geithner in a game of chicken. Obama has effectively outsourced the most important policies of his administration to these Wall Street lackeys, preferring instead to strong arm Detroit into making flying cars and spending time to gin up exquisitely nuanced youtube videos for the Iranian censors to jam.

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Just as we don’t allow strangers to take out life insurance policies on those to whom they have no real relationship, it would be appropriate to scale back the huge credit-default-swap markets to those who are actually parties to the underlying transactions. What has happened instead is that a secondary markets many times bigger than the real markets purported to be insured have developed, creating paper obligations and exposure greater than the entire world economy. George Soros opines on this matter sensibly in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, suggesting that until this is resolved and CDS is brought down to earth, the threats of “systemic risk” will remain from this newfangled financial instrument.

Along these lines, Hernando de Soto suggests that clear property rights are important to avoid fraud and the lack of transparency in commercial paper markets, and that some public registry of various paper assets (much like UCC or real property registries in US states) would smooth out some of the confusion generated by MBS and ABS assets. His analysis makes a great deal of sense since some MBS holders, it turns out, do not have clear title to the security, can’t easily identify and examine the collateral their paper is putatively secured by.

Sadly, our political class is more interested in peacocking about bonuses, when the real problem has been the decoupling of Wall Street’s activity from generating productive economic assets, its penchant for creating impossible-to-value byzantinely-complex financial instruments, and the perverse incentives from the combination of loose money and accounting rules that allow banks and bankers to get paid today while shift the cost to others (lately the taxpayers) tomorrow. Some attempts to reduce the scale, increase the transparency, and align incentives in the financial industry more closely with the public good would make a great deal of sense. Outright attacks on property, pay, and the basic profit motive, of course, are very dangerous and hurt the most productive classes and productive corners of the economy in general, most of whom work far from Wall Street.

So long as Obama, the Congress, and various interests aim to switch rules in midstream and threaten to micromanage every aspect of business, nothing done to reform and recapitalize banks will work, because these efforts will be eclipsed by the infinte costs imposed on potential borrowers in the form of uncertaity, redistribution, and the anti-productivity pet issues (like capping carbon emissions) of Obama and the far left.

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It’s a sign of the mind-boggling arrogance, ingratitude, parochialism, and sheer vulgarity of today’s right-wing media that a Fox News anchor would dare to insult Canada’s military.  As a genuine conservative, I’m a bit embarrassed.

Canada is a nation that has stood with America through good times and bad, and whose soldiers have sacrificed more than their fair share in Afghanistan.  They are with us as true friends, a bond beyond politics and politicians, fighting the al Qaeda and Taliban fanatics who attacked America on 9-11.

It is one thing to recognize there are times for a nation to go it alone.  It is quite another to ask and cajole others to help and then insult them out of willful ignorance when they do.  Canada, Poland, Great Britain, Germany, France, and Australia have all contributed significant resources to the Afghanistan campaign, and Canada much more than its peers.  A brief perusal of any military blog or news wire should make this clear, as too should the 116 Canadians who have died in combat in Afghanistan.  Canadians are  tough breed and have been with us on such varied campaigns as the D-Day Landings and the Korean War. They’re with us again, and regardless of whether our strategy has certain flaws, the rectitude of the Afghanistan Campaign and the martial valor of the Canadians should not be forgotten.

Canada and America are true natural allies, unlike the alien and often very hostile nation of Mexico, which abandoned its Rio Treaty obligations after 9-11 and continues to insult our sovereignty through support for mass illegal immigration of Mexicans.  Of course, recognizing the perfidy of Mexico would unravel a great deal of the neoconservative globalist views of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.  You know, the idea that free marketers are supposed to support our invasion by Third Worlders who work for sub-minimum wage.  As a substitute for genuine conservative outrage at genuine enemies of the laws and vital institutions of the U.S., much of the official “conservative” media have proferred a “shock conservatism” comprised of insults to other nations that lack our last president’s very unconservative but very militaristic commitment to exporting democracy to the Third World at gunpoint.  Real conservatives recognize and respect the unique character of other nations and are supposed to know enough history to distinguish the valorous Canadians from the occasionally difficult French and the positively hostile Mexicans.

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The rudderless Democratic leadership in Washington is grandstanding on the AIG affair in typical and predictable fashion.  But the whole thing is a charade, a distraction.  Obama and the House Democrats are playing a big game of three card monte.  We’re all supposed to be angry about $160mm in bonuses–and I am indeed angry about this, as I am annoyed about the whole principle of bailouts-while forgetting that AIG was given $160B by the government that in turn was given by AIG to Goldman Sachs and various foreign banks under various CDS contracts.  The whole sum is money from taxpayers to formerly rich people turned welfare cases.  And we’re supposed to get mad about this smallish amount of money–.1% of the bailout funds AIG received–that AIG was obliged to pay out in contracts to employees. The bonuses are the equivalent of a rounding error compared to the scale of the bailouts and stimulus packages as a whole.

Even worse, this show trial of AIG’s CEO is happening on the very day the Federal Reserve announced that it will depart from its prior practice and will now be buying long term treasuries outright to the tune of $1T!!! This is printing money folks, a confiscation from all of us.  The Federal Reserve’s actions takes from wealth-holders and our children in particular in order to keep this ponzi scheme of big government spending and fiat currency going as long as possible while avoiding the reckoning that Greenspan’s loose money policy has wrought.

The government is spending with abandon, but they want us all to think that a few measly bonus checks from a basket-case pass-through entity are the problem.  It’s exactly what I’d expect from the likes of the corruption-ridden Barney Frank and the Chicago shakedown artist  Barack Obama.

Bailouts are bad for many reasons.  But the two worst are that they cost a ton of money, and, second, they get government in bed with business.  As a result, we’re becoming increasingly numb as a people to the idea that a $1T here and a $1T there is no big deal, just as we’re getting used to the idea of the government has any business directing how private companies should spend their money.  The bailout is an anti-capitalist virus that attacks our public finances and our commitment to corporate independence.  We must let these companies fail or we’ll destroy free market capitalism.  That is the real systemic risk.

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Most mainstream conservatives distinguish the good 1960s, in particular the civil rights movement, from the evil excesses of the hippies and the anti Vietnam War movement.  Shelby Steele does a good job of explaining the genesis of the Left’s contempt for mainstream America and Western Civilization as rooted in a narrative of the civil rights movement that identifies all the previous history of America as tained and evil and only capable of being admired insofar as it seeks redemption.  He writes:

Yet there is now the feeling that without an appeal to minorities, conservatism is at risk of marginalization. The recent election revealed a Republican Party — largely white, male and Southern — seemingly on its way to becoming a “regional” party. Still, an appeal targeted just at minorities — reeking as it surely would of identity politics — is anathema to most conservatives. Can’t it be assumed, they would argue, that support of classic principles — individual freedom and equality under the law — constitutes support of minorities? And, given the fact that blacks and Hispanics often poll more conservatively than whites on most social issues, shouldn’t there be an easy simpatico between these minorities and political conservatism?  ‘Compassionate conservatism’ was clever — as a marketing ploy.

But of course the reverse is true. There is an abiding alienation between the two — an alienation that I believe is the great new challenge for both modern conservatism and formerly oppressed minorities. Oddly, each now needs the other to evolve.

Yet why this alienation to begin with? Can it be overcome?

I think it began in a very specific cultural circumstance: the dramatic loss of moral authority that America suffered in the 1960s after openly acknowledging its long mistreatment of blacks and other minorities. Societies have moral accountability, and they cannot admit to persecuting a race of people for four centuries without losing considerable moral legitimacy. Such a confession — honorable as it may be — virtually calls out challenges to authority. And in the 1960s challenges emerged from everywhere — middle-class white kids rioted for “Free Speech” at Berkeley, black riots decimated inner cities across the country, and violent antiwar protests were ubiquitous. America suddenly needed a conspicuous display of moral authority in order to defend the legitimacy of its institutions against relentless challenge.

This was the circumstance that opened a new formula for power in American politics: redemption. If you could at least seem to redeem America of its past sins, you could win enough moral authority to claim real political power

I wrote something similar here in regard to the annoying, anti-American rhetoric of mainstream conservatives like Bush and Condoleeza Rice.

As far as connecting the dots, I think its important for conservatives to revisit the standard, liberal-leaning account of our recent past and defend the past and the authority of our civilization and institutions, all the way to the Crusades, in order to avoid the unravelling tendencies or mealy-mouthed cheerleading.  We need not defend every excess, but history, including evils in history, must be seen in their proper context and judged in light of the distinctly modern evils of our times.  I think more narrowly as an electoral strategy conservatives must be magnaminous but must dump their fantastic hope that alienated people in a milieu that encourages and sanctifies that alienation will all of a sudden become stalwart defenders of our civilization and join in a movement so devoted.  Grievance pays, as illustrated not least by the Obamas.

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A roundup of a few interesting things from the internet this week.

Great pieces by establishment conservatives George Will and Charles Krauthammer pointing out the increasingly wide gap between Obama’s rhetoric of post-partisanship and his narrowly partisan agenda.

A scathing editorial by Robert Samuelson on Obama’s phony economics agenda.

A nice tribute to one of my favorite writers, Steve Sailer, by John Derbyshire.

An interesting power point from Natick Labs that shows the Army’s dubious universal pattern was actually a poor performer in tests.  The best performer looked a lot like old Rhodesian camouflage and, like the earth around us, was comprised of greens, tans, and browns.  It is a minor scandal that the Army has made its soldiers appear worse in garrison and endangered them in the field with its new Army Combat Uniform.  Since so many soldiers are now slogging it out like their fathers and grandfathers on Afghan hills, it’s a decision worthy of revisiting by the DoD.

South of the border, things seem to be really melting down.  It’s kind of pathetic that Obama thinks we can have an unsecured border with Mexico and is considering sending in the military to stop narco-terrorists only, as if a border without controls can easily separate illegal aliens seeking work at car washes and restaurants and illegal aliens seeking work as pimps and drug dealers.  Without a secure border, the un-uniformed, un-named, disorganized, and visually indistinguishable criminal element from Mexico will continue to flow into the US.

I was never terribly impressed with the GOP since Bush took the helm.  Michael Steele is not helping things. More of the same is a recipe for disaster:  both politically and, if we somehow manage electoral success, on policy.  The gap between concerns of the rank and file–the economy, culture, immigration, national security, and moral decline–and the guilt-ridden, beltway rhetoric of the leadership is quite remarkable.

Dick Cheney said this morning that Obama’s policies make America less safe.  I, of course, said Bush’s border policies made America less safe, though Obama may even be worse on this score.  But so what if Cheney said this?  Isn’t this what criticism of another person’s national security policy always is saying implicitly?  One of the most dangerous developments in the media’s tone under Obama has been the idea that criticizing his policies–i.e., hoping they fail or saying they make us less safe–is out of bounds and unpatriotic.  If we can’t criticize Obama without being called racist, and we can’t criticize his policies without being unpatriotic, what is left other than blind submission?

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Obama’s increasingly apparent leftism has many marks: unnecessary snubs of our British allies, a penchant for the most indefensible and ideological spending, the hoary politician’s trick of shifting costs to future generations, his incoherence on foreign policy, a lack of moral clarity in dealing with terrorists, and a petty conflation of his critics with a single talk show host.  Obama now has a new addition for the roster: crude dismissals of the entire pro-life position as a cynical political move.

There are many different views on how to approach and limit embryonic stem cell research rooted in one’s view of the relative importance of scientific research, the moral status of embryonic tissue, and the degree to which one believes government should devote funds to controversial projects, regardless of one’s personal views. But Obama today recognized none of the complexity that he acknowledged in the campaign. No, Bush did not allow this research to be funded because of a “political agenda” but the enlightened Obama is here to save science.  What a crude insult! It is nearly as crude as his constant lies about his activities, which insult our intelligence, and his appeals to “common sense” to justify whatever big government flavor of the month he happens to be promoting.

We’ll see how devoted Obama is to pure science based on whether he allows any dissents from the global warming hype or achievement gap nonsense, both politically correct views that have been subject to numerous dissenters, almost none of whom receive mainstream media attention. It’s become increasingly obvious, however, that his campaign acknowledgement of moral complexity and the legitimacy (or at least reasonableness) of his opponents’ positions on life issues is fading, and a new, somewhat tone-deaf ideological character has emerged, the same one that went to Rev. God Damn America’s church for so long, and the same one who penned a tortured paean to his socialist, child-abandoning father.

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