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Posts Tagged ‘Election’

The Tea Party gets a bad rap.  It was mocked this weekend by the self-indulgent, incoherent Comedy Central rally in DC, supposedly to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  While some have said their rally meant nothing, I believe it was the encore performance of Bush-era contempt for those who were reasonably and genuinely concerned for safety in the age of Islamic terrorism.  Oh, our “over-reaction” to 9/11, how funny that is.  How funny that their rally coincided with the interception of numerous al Qaeda bombs from Yemen. So realistic those liberals (including Republican liberals like Bush and McCain), allowing in tens of thousands of Muslim  Arabs after 9/11, while concerning themselves so punctiliously with the human rights of human scum down in GITMO.

That said, the concern with national security to the exclusion of other traditional conservative concerns after 9/11 has been a problem for the right.  It’s not been a problem that national security became a concern.   Bush clearly intended to defeat al Qaeda and took it seriously, even as he allowed his open borders liberalism to lead him into incoherence.  But for the left, it was all just a big overeaction.  We’re not really at war in their eyes. The enemy is just misunderstood or an echo of our own deep evil as a country.

The bigger problem for conservatives was that our post-9/11 prioritization of national security excluded the historical concern of conservatives for fiscal conservatism, a serious rethinking of the entitlement state, and the traditional concern for excessive debts.  And that national security policy was made on explicitly liberal grounds of expanding democracy and maintaining high rates of immigration.  The promise of the Tea Party movement (and its associated candidates) is that serious rollback of the entitlement state is now being discussed after a decade of Republican-led prolifgacy.  And its criticism extends to weak-kneed Republicans like Charlie Crist and Lisa Murkowski.

Janet Daly observes the real import of the Tea Party movement:

It was widely known in Europe that the American Left hated George Bush (and even more, Dick Cheney) because of his military adventurism. What was less understood was that the Right disliked him almost as much for selling the pass over government spending, bailing out the banks, and failing to keep faith with the fundamental Republican principle of containing the power of central government.

So the Republicans are, if anything, as much in revolt against the establishment within their own party as they are against the Democrats. And this is what the Tea Parties (which should always be referred to in the plural, because they are not a monolithic movement) are all about: they are not just a reaction against a Left-liberal president but a repudiation of the official Opposition as well.

Nor are they simply the embodiment of reactionary social conservatism, which has been the last redoubt of the traditional Republican Right. There were plenty of people in New York who wanted to believe that Tea Partiers were just a new incarnation of the gun-totin’, gay-bashing right-to-lifers whom they found it so easy to dismiss as risible throwbacks. This is a huge political miscalculation, which quite misses the point of what makes the Congressional midterm elections this week such an interesting and historic political event. This is so much more than the predictable to-ing and fro-ing of party control midway through a presidential term. What the grassroots rebellion is really about is an attempt to pull the Republican party back to its basic philosophy of low-tax, low-spend, small government: the great Jeffersonian principle that the best government is that which governs least.

Of course, there is much radicalism among Tea Partiers, including a general concern for open borders and a sense of “shoving off” the guilt-trip they have endured from minority hustler politicians demanding more and more largesse and special treatment.  The Tea Party should not restrict itself to fiscal conservatism or mere partisanship. It should not confuse itself, a la Glenn Beck, that a nonpartisan restoration of honor will do the trick.  If the Tea Party leaders and their members would connect the dots of the open borders Third World invasion of America, the racial dynamics of affirmative action, the impossibility of “exporting democracy,” and the unsustainable American welfare state–as many have, individually–then real sustainable reform of our country and its health could occur.

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Gov. Blagojevich’s efforts essentially to sell the Obama Senate vacancy appointment are important for a number of reasons. It’s not exactly news that Illinois’ politics is corrupt. But so far the media has exempted Obama from much scrutiny in this regard, in spite of his associations with Tony Rezko, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Jeremiah Wright, Mayor Daley, and the other unsavory figures that make up the Illinois Democratic Party machine.

The scandal also shows that reality has a way of intruding on Obama’s myth of himself. Much of his presidency will not be defined–as was his campaign–by rhetoric, but instead by policies, results, and reality. A scandal like this reminds the public, “Hey, do we really know this guy?” Obama’s lawyerly denials of involvement do not inspire much confidence.

Finally, the entire event raises the legitimate question of what did Obama and his staff know, when did they know it, and did they report it to the FBI. So far it appears they did not actively play the governor’s game. But if they were silent after being asked illegally to “play ball” with the governor, then even if they did not actively participate, the failure to sound the alarm is one step away from a true coverup, a la, Watergate.

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Bush adopted his “compassionate conservative” agenda on the theory that the harsh rhetoric and self-consciously anti-government conservatism of Gingrich’s “Contract with America” was unpopular and unlikely to win. There may be some truth to this. But, at the same time, Bush downplayed conservative positions on everything from abortion to affirmative action. He instead emphasized his support for No Child Left Behind, help for those suffering with AIDS in Africa, and an aggressively pursued, but ultimately liberal, neo-Wilsonian agenda of democratizing the Middle East.

Elections are funny inasmuch as we don’t know whether people voted for or against someone for any particular view or position they held. Each candidate always advances a grab bag of positions ranging, which many voters do not fully understand and upon which much of the campaign machinery is designed to put a positive spin. But if anti-gay-marriage ballot initiatives can succeed in such liberal states as California, does this not suggest that the libertarians have it all wrong and the social piece of the traditional conservative coalition is not only popular but the most likely wedge with which to pry away socially conservative democratic voters. Instead in the 90s and now again, many of the professional pundits such as David Frum counsel that conservatism must abandon many of its “red meat” issues while also failing to fulfil its traditional role as the “tough medicine” slowing down or stopping profligate new entitlements. Instead of elections being referenda on gun control and gay marriage, we’ll instead have dueling neologisms such as “Compassionate Conservatism” and “Change We Can Believe In.” I doubt we’ll win any of those battles, not least because some of us at least don’t want to see the welfare state expand, nor do we have much use for “compassionate” conservatism other than as the punch-line for a joke.

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I thought Steve Sailer’s analysis of McCain’s loss was useful.  Some of the right’s best wedge issues–immigration, gun control, big government, and a bit surprisingly, gay marriage–were items which this faux maverick took great pleasure in bucking the GOP to the delight of his friends in the media.  He was a terrible campaigner with terrible ideas and a terrible presence and personality who  I am not the least bit surprised (nor terribly chagrined) to have seen lose.

Steven den Beste and Lawrence Auster both make a good case that there will be some positives of an Obama presidency, not least that he will be more required to appeal to Republicans and moderates than a McCain, who would have been demoralized by the prospect of defeating the history-making Obama candidacy.  I think for these reasons he’ll be less inclined to push for an irreversible amnesty, which has been Bush and McCain’s obsession for a number of years.  I do think national health care will be a major problem, and a hard to reverse one.  It will make our health care worse.  That said, I don’t think health and health care are always correlates; for a lot of reasons we probably spend far too much on health care as a society.  Government controls will add error to correct an error in the form of the existing tax-subsidy for health benefits.  But we’ll survive.  France and Sweden, though far from ideal, are not Bolivia.  Nor are we, yet.

We face many threats to our traditional way of life.  The mass culture is toxic.  The economy is unstable, ridden with debt, threatened by hyperinflation and mass disenchantment.  Related to these, we are more threatened by our continued addition of millions of less productive, low skill workers from the Third World into our increasingly generous society.   Between the issues of health care and immigration, the latter is more damaging and it has long been McCain’s passion.  Like Bush, his presidency would have led to far too many compromises by conservative critics, who would embarass themselves by making excuses for the globalist, big government managerial gobbeldy-gook of a McCain administration.  Obama at least will sharpen our focus and remind us that in the game of tribal politics, only the majority has engaged in unilateral disarmament.

I’ve talked to a number of Obama voters and was happily suprised to see that the cult-like enthusiasm seen on TV is shared by relatively few of them. They simply judged him the better of the two and feel he deserves a chance.  The intensity of the Obama-worshippers in Grant Park should be contrasted with these folks, some of whom entertained the hope that his presence might lead to more honest and realistic race relations and a revival of morale leading to improvements in the various social problems facing the black community.  Perhaps. 

It all remains to be seen what Obama will do, how he’ll govern, and whether he’ll be a centrist in the manner of Bill Clinton or a committed leftist who can finally advance the race-class-gender-justice policies that he fought for so passionately as a young man.  In either case, we need some sense of proportion as conservatives and as Americans. Even before and after LBJ, America was still America.  Its core values in tact.  They’ve slowly been sapped, transformed, and weakened, but they’re not altogether absent.  Among these, our civic rituals of peaceful transfers of power and respect for the office are valuable.  Our generosity, lack of narrow tribalism, and magnanimity as a people should not be dismissed too quickly by anyone.  And, even though the Obama presidency is worrisome and will likely at times be offensive, conservatives certainly should not induldge the kind of stupid hatred and conspiracy thinking that the Left spewed at Bush for the last eight years. 

I think the Obama presidency will likely be an unsuccessful one, beset by exagerrated hopes, missteps, the evils of party spirit, and Obama’s own hitherto unexamined leftism.  But it all remains to be seen, and there will be plenty enough time in the next four years for gnashing of teeth.

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When the rich lose their wealth, it’s not a good thing for poor people.

What does Obama’s first book, subtitled “a story of race and inheritance,”  say about him, his motivations, his values, and their divergence from the campaign themes emphasizing unity and Obama’s technocratic excellense?  Steve Sailer’s “Half Blood Prince” is now available online and addresses these subjects in depth.

Good piece on myths and misunderstandings about the Depression which echoes themes published here at mansizedtarget.com.

My mind is not completley made up on whether a GM bankruptcy would be a disaster or a salutary measure of austerity, but this author makes a good point about how banks and big companies are quite different.  While bankruptcy is fatal (and thus not available) to the former which depend fundamentally on trust, bankruptcy does exist to protect and preserve the “going concern value” of the latter and should be allowed to do its work.

Oh, it’s election day.  And police in Toledo are packing the riot gear. 

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