Archive for the ‘Conservatism’ Category.

Fighting the good fight

I currently am, over at Crooked Timber…

Liberals genuinely would be happy to have a lively policy debate with moderate conservatives – a debate in which they get to signal tolerant respect for the opponent’s different point of view and, to some degree, different values. By contrast, conservatives would find nothing more dreadful than such a debate.

Please join in.

Strange But True

One of the great demonstrations of the universal value of Democracy and Liberty is that no matter how despotic and corrupt a regime is, it will always mouth the platitudes of Liberal Democracy.  N. Korea dutifully has elections, as does Iran.  All the worst places in the world are “People’s Republics” or “Islamic Republics”.  No one just says outright, “hey, I’m just a plain old despot claiming the absoulte right of kings.”  They have to couch their thugocracies in the trappings of Western Civilization because we have discovered something that borders on a universal human truth.

So, in a way, we might already have won if we would only hold all these petty dictators to account through the international bodies that exist.  Sadly, the UN is the playground of these same petty, corrupt dictators, so absent starting something else (and leaving the UN altogether for non-humanitarian issues), we’re not going to make much headway in that direction.  But I digress…

Over at the Contentions blog, Jennifer Rubin has been writing about Sotomayor’s sudden transformation into a rule of law girl now that she’s been nominated to the Supreme Court.  Never mind her years and years of giving speeches and handing down rulings in direct contradiction to the idea of judicial restraint, now that she’s on national television, she’s as Federalist as any Federalist out there.

If legislating from the bench is so wildly popular, why the need to lie about it during confirmation hearings?

And the same question could be asked of about a dozen of the Left’s legislative priorities.

They don’t want to nationalize health care, they swear. Even as they pass legislation geared to do exactly that.  They have no intention of raising taxes, even as “cap and trade” becomes the largest tax grab in the history of the US.  No one has ever been a stronger friend of Israel, even as we lean on them and put no pressure whatsoever on Hamas or Abbas or Syria or Iran.  Name one demand that Obama has made of the PLO.  I certainly can’t think of one.

But he and his supporters swear there has never been a better friend to Israel in the Oval Office.

Hogwash.  And hogwash again on Healthcare which the Left has been trying to socialize it since the 60s.  And hogwash again on taxes.

And hogwash again on Sotomayor’s judicial restraint.

But think about it.  If the West has already won the important debate about the truth of Democracy and Liberty and our evidence is the hypocrisy of Castro and Kim JongIl and the Ayatollahs; then what does the hypocrisy, not to say perfidy, of the Democratic party here in the US say about the domestic policy debate?

And if we’ve already won the battle of ideas (as I believe we have), then why aren’t our elected officials at least trying to do a better job of holding the government to account.  We know why the press won’t do it (they are on the other side).  But our congressmen should at least try to point out the utter ridiculousness of their opponents across the aisle saying one thing and doing another.

Perhaps calling Sotomayor on her silliness is a good start.

Back

From parts mostly known.  Known to all who have children anyway.

Where to begin?  The Anchoress has a post which I shall quote liberally for its essential humanity:

…my point was about understanding who we are and our intrinsic worth; we too often treat our lives, our bodies, our intellects, our blessings and our various gifts like they are nothing special, and so we devalue them.  We forget that – as Jesus says in Matthew:

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?  Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your father’s knowledge.  Even all the hairs of your head are counted.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

We forget that we are royal children; loved into being; that our lives are not meaningless or accidental – that we do not pass unnoticed, whether we’re grocery shopping, or meeting friends for drinks, or weeping in our closets…

Read the rest here.

What else…  Johnson perhaps..

A shining dress, like a weighty weapon, has no force in itself, but owes all its efficacy to him that wears it.

Or a voice, mellifluous or not, which has no weight without character behind it.  And I think the rest of the world has seen through the show of the Obama adminstration.

And Acton, I simply must quote Acton after being away so long…

There is another world for the expiation of guilt, but the wages of folly are payable here below. – Acton, Lectures on the French Revolution. (here)

Sadly, the costs are often born by other than the fool.   And we shall all bear the price for the ridiculousness pouring out of Washington these days; healthcare and climate change legislation being two of the worst and most prominent nightmares currently passing through Congress.

More later.  Happy to be back.

The Republican Party: a Loveless Marriage in a Big Tent

Climb by Mark Steyn on National Review Online

I come out of hiding very very briefly to note this article. I honestly HEART Mark Steyn (what right-thinking person doesn’t?). Colin Powell and other “moderates” are making the same complaints about the Republican Party that they always have. They just want the Republican Party to be less conservative (and by conservative they almost always mean socially conservative).

Can we PLEASE stop breaking down conservatism into these various areas — social, war, fiscal — and say that current conservatism may indeed a state of mind, as I believe Russell Kirk said, and that that  is OKAY. It’s a state of mind that loves freedom, but understands and accepts boring adult responsibility, without being told to by the nanny state.

American conservatives desire freedom from tyranny and freedom from overreaching government,  but they recognize that true freedom — freedom that can last and is not just a theory — cannot come without a recognition of human limits.  And so we recognize those institutions  — the social networks, if you will –  that have strengthened our civic communities and our nation, and that force the admission of our limits and our frailties.  Families (ideally with two parents), respect for  marriage, respect for life and property, respect for religion, and respect for law. Even respect for your political opponent (which Ms. Sykes seems not to understand, but I digress).

The GOP and Republicans are often blamed for being too individualistic, but in fact, it is conservatism — classical liberalism — that puts the burden of social welfare in its proper place — society. You and me. Not some invisible government hand that may eventually crush us.

Faith and Hope and Miracles

Okay, this story today from the Anchoress, Miracles Indeed,  is worth a read. Dare we suggest that admitting and even accepting the inescapable mystery of life is a deep part of what makes us, as conservatives,  more skeptical of the religion of science that many current atheists hold? That religion is the real theocracy that people should fear, rather than the fake “Christianity” of groups like the Westboro Baptists.

It is this vain attempt to rely on pure science — leaving the ethical dilemmas to the individual rather than society — that may be leading us down dangerous paths. Paths such as the environmentalism that puts good intentions to save “the Earth” above efforts that will help people today, or the embryonic stem cell research that destroys nascent life in order to save older life.

Perhaps we all — no matter the political philosophical label with which we most identify –  need to be mindful about these paths, and of the miracles in our midst.

When Big Politics Is Small

Maybe it’s because I’m of a conservative nature just generally (and by conservative I mean slow to embrace, umm, change (hey, I’ve lived in the same apartment for 10 years — though ironically THAT is changing this year)), or maybe it’s my intolerance for arrogance, or maybe it’s my annoyance with forced and unwarranted pats on the back, but when I hear members of a certain political party in the state in which I live congratulate themselves on recent wins in a “tough” time, and then say they care about the grassroots when they at the same time avoid all attempts to let the grassroots have a say that might threaten their own power, I get…frustrated at how truly small-minded it all is.

This is indeed “Big Politics”, where the small man who thinks he’s in charge (and those like him) has turned a once-red state blue. Politics, from a conservative perspective, should be actually … small, but in the best sense. The people who are given the trust of the citizens should act small, and with care. Grand, sweeping gestures usually lead to something like, oh, say… the Great Society. Or a 2 trillion dollar debt.

Citizens who do their duty not out of small self-love, but out of love for their country are those who will do the best job, because their priorities error not on the side of narcissism, but on the side of the other. Other citizens. Sure, many Big Politicians may start as little guys, but they catch Potomac Fever, or they are surrounded by aids like the Big Politics-man I heard last night. And they get Big. And Fat. And forgetful of who, as my mom often said (quoting someone else) “brung ‘em to the dance”. Conservatives and liberty-lovers of all labels understand that you cannot be “big” to really advance causes that advance freedom — that you must think beyond yourself. You must care for something greater than your power. Greater than “government”. And liberalism, though it talks nice, carries a big government stick that will actually hurt the little guy.

Small Politicans are for the little guy. The real little guy. Yes, the Joe Plumbers. Yes, the mom-’n-pop dry cleaners. Yes, the small businessman. Yes, the taxpayer who works for a large firm that can hire him because they aren’t forced to allow card checks. The real little guy.

We’ve Seen the Future, and it is … wearing a blazer?

Below, Lane discusses, among other things, the pretty fake leadership crisis ginned up by Democrats over Rush’s terribly terribly insulting comments about how he hopes Obama fails (Our comment (okay my comment, but I’m addicted to the editorial we. Sorry.): it WILL fail. Socialism always does in the long run.)

And here, let us have 14-year-old Jonathan Krohn define conservatism – the meat in the shell:

(Yes, he’s homeschooled. OF COURSE he’s homeschooled.)

This is the type of kid liberals love to hate, though they love “the children.”  Though, it should be noted, he acts more like an adult, which is probably why they hate him.

Can’t we all just get along?

So this is what we’ve come to?  Patterico is fighting with Jeff, The Crunchy Cons are fighting with Paleo (which is to say Palin) Cons, and we’re all fighting over whether Rush is the right person to lead our party, or our movement, into the next phase.  Iowahawk has a particularly funny sendup of the whole thing;

My reference, obviously, was to the self-styled luminaries of “populism” who hang like a millstone around the Republican neck — the Sarah Palins, the Plumbing Joes, the Bobby Jindals, the Rush Limbaughs, the motley middlebrow state college pretenders to the conservative throne. A shared contempt for these arriviste oafs unites the Nassau summitteers perhaps even more than our shared fondness for a snifter of well-behaved armagnac VSOP.

uh-huh.

All of this is singularly un-helpful and, as Ace points out;

This is fundamentally an unserious and unimportant issue. And those who keep fighting it are apparently happy to dwell on the trivialities and distractions that Obama has admitted he’s cooked up for precisely the purpose of distracting you.

Ta-daa.

So what’s the real issue?  The Republican Party lost the last election and hasn’t had an impressive showing in an election since, when ’96?  I mean beating Gore was good (and thank you George Bush for that), and beating Kerry was fine, but other than Bush, the GOP hasn’t had a solid win in a long time.  We’d been losing our Congressional majorities for ten years before we lost them.  And figuring out who’s right and what we need to fight about involves figuring out why we’re on a ten year slide even though at the beginning of the decade it looked like the Democrats were the one who were going to have to re-design their party.

I think the answer can be found at the Coyote Blog

Seriously, looking back on it, did the Republican Congress between the ‘01 tax cuts and prescription drug disaster and when they were tossed in ‘06 leave any kind of legislative footprint behind?  Jeez, Republicans are whining now about all kinds of stuff, but what were they doing for 6 years?  Offshore drilling is a classic example.  They whined about the Democrats blocking more drilling last year, but what did they do about it the previous years when they controlled Congress and the White House?  I honestly think they were waiting for Bush to do something by executive order and take away any political responsibility off their shoulders.

The GOP didn’t lose because they pursued a Conservative Agenda, and they didn’t lose because they didn’t.  They lost because they didn’t do anything of note.  They were perfectly happy to fiddle away and allow Bush to take the lead and take all the heat as their majority burned around them.

Congressional Republicans, as long as they were acting on a conservative agenda, were fine, and even when they departed from that agenda they were fine, as long as they were seen to be doing something.  During Bush’s Presidency, they decided that their best bet was to keep their heads down and let Bush make all the decisions and take all the flak.  If things went well, they get Presidential coat-tails and if things went poorly, then they could claim they didn’t really support that program after all.

I’m sure in the media firestorm that followed the Iraq War and the wiretaps and all that jazz, it seemed wise to stay as far away from Bush as possible, while at the same time not curtailing his agenda.  But outside of the beltway bullhorn, the American people want their Congress Critters to do something, to stand for something, to lead us somewhere.

Without that leadership, the Congress was easily painted as nothing but a lobbyist’s shopping mall.  Scandals got painted with a broad-brush (excepting Democratic scandals of course), and the whole stinking lot of them got thrown out.  They didn’t get thrown out because of the War or the Economy or even their “Conservative Agenda”.  They got thrown out precisely because they couldn’t be seen to be doing anything at all.

So that’s the congressional problem.  The other problem was that the GOP relied entirely upon the Bush White House’s communication efforts to set a message and get it to the American people and they failed miserably.  The Bush communication team has got to become an object lesson in how not to speak to the American people (and the world for that matter).

Yes, as conservatives we are always going to be fighting an uphill battle against the media titans, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done effectively.  Congressional and National GOP leaders left the field entirely to Bush (again, probably because they weren’t sure whether he was a liability or an asset, so they chickened out and hoped to gain some or lose little), and this proved to be a disaster.

So, what about Rush, and his five little words (“I hope President Obama fails”)?  Patterico and company are right in that the media is going to twist our words to our opponent’s advantage at any oppurtunity so we shouldn’t make it easy for them, but Jeff Goldstein is right in that it doesn’t matter how “nuanced” we become, the media and the democrats and the victim’s leagues are going to twist our words anyway.

It is impossible to speak in a way that cannot be misinterpreted, especially when your interpreter is trying to paint you as maliciously as possible.

Conservatism does best when it speaks most clearly and directly to the American people, when it sets an agenda and follows it.  The Contract with America may be derided in newrooms, but it is still loved whenever conservatives get together to talk about what they have done right in the past.

A new contract may not be what is necessary, but neither are mincy words and milquetoast RINOs.

Rush is Rush, let him be Rush.  And when the media approaches our remaining Congressman with the question “what do you think about what Rush said?”  The answer should be, “I’m here to talk about what our President has done, not about what some media personality has said…” and then get back on the topic of Obama embarrassing the country with his diplomacy or destroying our economy with his socialist agenda.

QOTD and More

Obama’s inaugural was forgettable (save for its regrettable partisan edge), let us revisit one far better. Lincoln touches on so many issues and feelings in his first inaugural that we must approach it in parts (and here only a few of the many parts of interest).

The Supreme Court

I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case, upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be over-ruled and never become precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.

A nice summation of that body’s proper role especially with the possibility that Obama will get to appoint two justices in his first term. The Left has used the court as a legislature of last resort to force certain positions down the throats of the people for too long. A return to Lincoln’s understanding of their proper place would be welcome.

Executive Power and The People

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people… His duty is to administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor.

Would that he also said unenhanced… (continuing)

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope, in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of nations, with his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North or on yours of the South, that truth, and that justice, will surely prevail, by the judgement of this great tribunal, the American people.

We can simply substitute the Right and Left of our own time for North and South… (continuing)

By the frame of the government under which we live, this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals.

While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years.

Of course, since Lincoln’s time, the politicians have increased their power for mischief significantly and the “Virtue and Vigilance” of the people appears to be in decline, but the sentiment is still valuable… (continuing)

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well, upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it… If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied, hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.

This is all taken from Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, and we haven’t even quoted the oft quoted final paragraph…

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

I don’t think it’s petty to point out this is way better than anything Obama has ever said, even when he quoted it. You can read the whole thing here.

Lincoln never passed up an opportunity to recognize the humanity and goodness of those who opposed him. He understood that our differences do not arise out of the moral or intellectual failings of our opponents, but from the simple difficulty of the issues we are trying to address.

There is no simple answer to poverty. We emphatically do not know what to do about it or a range of other issues. There is no conspiracy keeping the era of prosperity and pollution free energy from raining down upon us. A Perfect Union is forever beyond our grasp.

Lincoln knew this and articulated it even as he struggled mightily to keep the Union together through its most difficult and bloody time.

Today, we are left to wonder when our opponents will even acknowledge our humanity, let alone our good will. Any disagreement over even trivial legislation is treated as tantamount to Nazism. Opposing the Global Warming farce is tantamount to holocaust denial and should be prosecuted! This is the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression you insensitive jerk!

Obama’s people made a big show of using Lincoln’s bible for the swearing in (strange that the church-going Obamas have no bible of their own). Would that he used some of Lincoln’s thoughtfulness and magnanimity.

QOT What the heck is with these things anyway?

The quotes are meant to illustrate certain ideas, observations, and even emotions which are part and parcel to Conservatism.

Let’s look at the most recent example (just below).  Carlyle’s wonderful book on the French Revolution has one great theme; the world we live in, this civilized world of ours, is a very thin shell enclosing all the unholy terrors which man has ever devised.  Man freed of the fetters of “society” or Civilization is not the noble savage of Rousseau, he is merely savage.  This sense of the contingency of this civilized world, it’s very palpable fragility, is one of the things which informs the Conservative heart and mind.

Carlyle was horrified by what he learned of Revolutionary France.  Not just the literal tanning of human hides, but the simple disintegration of sensibility.  When one thinks of efficient evil, one is immediately drawn to tales of Hitler’s Third Reich where the machinery of the modern world was turned to the task of human extermination.  But the French beat him to it by a hundred and fifty years.  They would tie people to barges and then sink the barges, allowing them to kill many people at once.  The guillotine was invented to be a more merciful form of execution, but it was adopted because the executioner could work more quickly and for longer periods of time.  Rationalism freed from civilized morals does not protect us from our inner demons, quite often it amplifies them.

Understanding that what we call Civilization is very valuable, and very fragile is one of the core tenets of Conservatism, and that is what Carlyle’s quote is meant to illuminate.

The other quotes highlight other aspects, and I hope to add to them as time goes on.  And that is what the heck is with these things.