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Archive for the ‘Conservatism’ Category

It appears Trump’s revolutionary movement and radical words have been coopted by official Washington in fewer than 100 days.  A man who ran on the ideas and themes of Pat Buchanan has quickly morphed into Marco Rubio or, even worse, Jeb!  These men, decent standard-issue GOP politicians, stand for what is becoming almost a caricature, the chief goals of the Republican establishment, which consists of roughly of two things:  (1) the interests of the business community, chiefly in lower taxes, cheap labor, and made-to-order regulations and (2) the bellicose pseudo-nationalism of the neoconservative wing of the party.

We saw this with George W, who ran on a platform of foreign policy “humility” and soon decided the way to respond to an attack from a stateless group based in Afghanistan was to attack Iraq and transform it into a democracy.

We saw it during his presidency as well in the giveaways to Wall Street in the form of low interest rates, high immigration, and reduced regulation.  While a few symbolic bones were thrown to the “religious right,” little really happened to reverse the decline of standards in the culture.

And we saw this same basic platform in the candidacies of McCain, who emphasized the foreign policy wing right when it was going out of fashion, and Romney, who represented the business wing and came from it, but never seemed to connect low taxes to the good of workers.  The workers rightly see their challenges increasingly coming in the form of competition from low wage foreigners at home and abroad, which leads to low wages and stagnation.

Trump’s nationalist message resonated.  I’ve argued the trade piece was central to his victory, which was won in contested and previously Democratic-stronghold states in the Midwest.  His immigration position also, while anathema to Washington, proved very popular in Middle America.  Finally, I believe he’ll soon find if we’re embroiled in a real, prolonged, and deadly shooting war in either Syria or North Korea, that Americans view their foreign policy as a means to a prosaic end, namely their own safety and security.

What do we have instead?  When not being buffeted by over-reaching federal judges, the GOP itself is balking at the Border Wall, something that is immensely popular everywhere but DC.  We hear the next big push will be tax cuts.  I’m all for the same, but without spending cuts and jobs, it may do little to help the working class that above all needs the dignity of work on which they can support their families.

The Obamacare replacement appeared more than anything a giveaway to insurance companies, and there seems little appreciation for the difficulty of undoing this expensive system with winners and losers, nor a recognition that the key to health reform is transparency in pricing and an undoing of the equality between paying and non-paying patients.

And then there are the people being appointed.  Politics is not just policy.  Personnel is policy.  That is, who implements the policy and helps decide strategy.  Worringly, Trump’s lovey daughter, her Wall Street husband, many rich friends of Trump, and others who do not share the concerns of Trump’s voters are calling the shots.

While his defense and security team is talented, Flynn’s exclusion is worrisome, because the strategic vision at work now remains the same impossible and expensive and doomed-to-failure notion of “unipolarity” and “stability” that has prevailed since the End of the Cold War.  And while much has been made about Bannon’s gruffness and falling status, his fall matters because he was the articulate and educated advocate for Trump’s often inarticulate, uneducated, and frustratingly voiceless white working class supporters.  Trump promised to “be their voice” in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention.  Bannon had at least something to do with translating that Trump into Trump’s campaign promises.  and Candidate Trump appears, at least partially, to be the “Real Trump,” stretching back to his criticism of free trade and defense of the virtues of the law enforcement and military communities since the 1980s.

It is hard to resist the establishment forever, particularly when one comes from that world in many important respects.  And it’s not fair to judge his presidency on the first 100 days, when some very good things like the Gorsuch and Sessions appointment have taken place, along with real steps taken against ridiculous “sanctuary cities” and the influx of refugees from terrorist lands.  But aside from a few items, it increasingly looks like it may be a standard Republican presidency, and the Border Wall, the American First foreign policy, and much else may simply get stuck in the tar pit that is Washington DC, where the Republican members of that establishment are in many respects the problem as much as the Democrats.

This change of focus will very likely delight some of the #NeverTrump crowd in the Republican Party, if they are honest enough to notice the change.  But it is not likely to be a winning formula politically, nor will it address the slow structural damage to the country:  its disunity, fiscal indiscipline, proletarianization, rejection of limited government principles of its founding documents and much else.  The nationalist Trump of the campaign and anyone who can do math should see that conservative politics and the American way of life are threatened by the demographic deluge.  The Republicans seem to think they can get cheap labor, as if these people don’t vote, have families, live a certain way, and sometimes mean us harm.  Democrats get it for obvious, self-interested reasons, because they’re creating a coalition of the have-nots, the new-comers, and the dependent.   Perhaps they went a bridge too far with “Black Lives Matter” and “amnesty,” but if the land that gave us Ronald Reagan can become an expensive, alien, and increasingly incapable bastion in 30 or 40 years of inflowing foreigners, there’s little reason to think it can’t happen to the country as a whole.

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A horror show in Syria, as civilians fleeing a city under siege are massacred by “moderate” rebels.

As the author of this summary notes:

War is always an awful thing. This is precisely why something more than sympathy—insight, belief, and philosophy—must adjudicate between the competing images of atrocity that can be easily paraded before the world on CNN.

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Syria War Part II

I’ll be writing more in depth shortly.  But if Trump changes his colors and goes for a neocon war in Syria it would be a tremendous disaster, a betrayal of the nationalist themes of his campaign, an injustice against the legitimate and most sane player in the Syrian civil war, and, like the war in Iraq, will be based on dubious intelligence that will prove false.  Ramz Paul’s latest video summarizes my basic thoughts on the matter.

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Going Nuclear

The Democrats changed longstanding Senate rules to prevent Republican filibustering of Obama nominees.  This is certainly majoritarian, but the whole point of custom and constitutions is precommitment.  You’re designing rules for a game where sometimes you’re in charge and somtimes you’re not; there are limits on majorities that are agreed ab initio because you don’t know if tomorrow you and your group will be in the minority.  Thus, everyone benefits by limits.  But the Democrats abandoned those limits, both the customary ones, and the formal ones.  Now the Republicans control all three branches of government, and the entire party recognizes the gem that is Neil Gorsuch:  a thoughtful, articulate, and eminently qualified jurist of the Scalia persuasion.

As a matter of pure politics, the Democrats probably shouldn’t fight on this hill.  They’ve lost the claims to any sacredness of the rules, having earlier up-ended them when it was convenient to them.  Why not extend it to Supreme Court justices too?  With Republicans united as they are on this, and disabused of any notions of reciprocity due to the tone of the Obama years, one way or another Trump will get Gorsuch on the Court, and the Democrats will face a more unfiltered and less controllable GOP majority, at least for the next two years.

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In addition to fomenting race riots, lying about murdered ambassadors, and shaking down random police departments on trumped up racism charges, it turns out the Obama administration did not simply spy on our allies.  It spied on American political “enemies” of the regime.  Trump was right!  And the main offender was none other than Youtube Fantasist, Susan Rice.  

FISA wiretaps are supposed to be carefully controlled, excluding information on Americans caught up in the dragnet, and “masked” before being wildly distributed.  She went out of her way to unmask these talks–none of which incidentally has been proven to be illegal, immoral, or otherwise problematic.  This widely disseminated gossip was supposed to be under lock and key, but we were governed the last 8 years by extremely peculiar people who had little regard for our traditions.  Trump at least, for once, is not engaged in typical Republican unilateral disarmament.

In a normal country, this would be a scandal of enormous proportions, on every front page, with people calling for her prosecution.  But we’re not a normal country, and the press long ago abandoned its core responsibilities.  It’s serious though.

It seems almost every time Trump exaggerates, he is proven right.  Yesterday it was that he would win.  Today it’s the allegations Obama abused sensitive intelligence gathering to attack a political opponent.  Maybe someone will study the numbers of aliens voting (legal aliens can’t vote either, remember), and it’ll get close the margin of “popular vote” victory for Her Highness.

Double Standards are offensive everywhere and to everyone.  Trump simply had the temerity to voice the collective “id” for the forgotten people about how much this happened, both during Obama’s administration, by the Press supporting Hillary, and in day to day life.

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Nothing Changes

I haven’t had much to write lately.  I guess I’m a good example of the criticism that the GOP is a better opposition party than a governing party.  At least personally, I find offensive things in the world and the media easier to write about, whereas good governance–broadly understood–just lets me focus on other interests.  Politics, after all, is chiefly an instrumental good, one that creates space for real life to flourish:  art, literature, music, family, creativity, commerce, and friendship.  And Trump, so far, is doing a good job.

That said, the bipartisan hatred of him is likely rooted in something interesting I read recently–I can’t find the link sadly–that the large permanent bureaucracy of the government means that elections largely don’t matter.  Indeed, when coupled with judicial supremacy, 99% of what government might in an ordinary country control is out of the hands of the governed.  We can’t decide who gets to be in our country, who gets to go to which public schools, whether to have war or peace, whether to permit abortion, gay marriage, or much else, whether and in what ways we may associate with one another privately, and for 3/4 or more of the federal budget, whether tax dollars are spent one way or another. These matters have either been decided by others, rendered off limits on the basis of dubious readings of the Constitution, or otherwise through bipartisan consensus of the political leadership, are deemed matters on which the will of the governed is wholly irrelevant.

And the meaning of Trump is that an election happened where something might actually change.  Something tangible and real on the main matters of bipartisan consensus:  immigration, trade, and our muscular (but largely unhelpful) foreign policy.

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Bugs and Leaks

The Russia hacking allegations have now gone full circle.

For months we were told, mostly through leaks and insinuations, that something really bad was afoot.  This information was coming from somewhere, and apparently it came from information obtained by investigators using a FISA warrant that the Obama DOJ approved. Apparently, the initial request was not even granted by the notoriously easy-to-please FISA Court.  Then it happened finally in October.  Obama denies “ordering” it, which is an enormous weasel word, because Loretta Lynch does not do something like this without notifying her boss.

What was being looked into? Who was being looked into? What was told to get this warrant? And, even if not being looked at directly, who was caught up in the net?  After all, spies don’t advertise their status–bad form and all–and Trump and anyone associated with him might have been heard speaking or meeting with someone on the FISA target list.

Trump this weekend had the temerity to say, “What the hell is going on, here?” And the media now demands proof.  They demand proof even when they themselves earlier acknowledged the wiretaps existed if not of Trump, at least of his close associates. And they demand proof after the Russian Hacking “proof” is so incredibly vague and misleading, as the definite connection of individual Russian hackers to the Russian government has not and cannot be made. Indeed, their entire “dossier” on the hacking of DNC emails was laughably lacking in detail and attribution.

Finally, known liar James Clapper has acknowledged after months of digging and looking they’ve come up with absolutely nothing on this Russia business. It’s all just a massive character assassination campaign.

Even if someone in the Russian FSB did coordinate hacking of Podesta’s emails, it didn’t amount to much because, while illegal, it happens all the time, and it didn’t influence the election, and, most importantly, did not come from or ever get coordinated with the Trump Campaign.  I know this because someone would have said so already if it did! Finally, I’m extremely skeptical of Obama’s denials; Obama bugged Merkel, offending journalists, and the entire American people with his NSA spying program.  And I’m mostly nonplussed about Russia’s activities here because (a) it exposed mendacity and duplicitly by DNC officials by releasing emails and (b) it happens all the timne, as we were told by Obama defending his spying of Merkel and by the defenders of Jonathan Pollard.

There is no there, there, except in one particular, the one Trump pointed out in his offending Tweets:  Obama allowed his political opponent (or his close associates) to be wiretapped in the middle of an election on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Theand Big Media campaign against Trump is about to collapse under its own weight, because the ultimate findings of its spying campaign are completely minimal, while the manner and method of the spying are damning to everyone involved:  the FBI, James Comey, Obama, the media, and all the Never Trumpers who breathlessly repeated this implausible bullshit.

Just by way of roundup, there are some great and in depth pieces on the subject today.

Byron York at the Washington Examiner.

Andrew McCarthy’s piece today (and last week).

And Robert Barnes on the potential culpability of Obama administration officials.

 

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