Thursday, September 3, 2015

Immigrants or allies?

Allan Carlson, former head of the Rockford Institute, once spoke glowingly of a dream to united the Christian Conservative-Orthodox Jew-Salafist Muslim worlds in a grand coalition against homosexual libertines like Pim Fortuyn and Dutch artist Van Gogh who was also assassinated. I take today such a grand coalition is an unholy alliance?

If French attitudes, for example, against SSM are as sharply divided as they are America (and compared to the rest Europe) it’s largely because Islamic opinion is making its weight felt. And its extremism is largely a reaction against such libertine values. This is what Fortuyn feared the most: a Holland under Sharia Law which have him stoned if followed fundamentally.

Traddy conservatives(again!) can’t have it both ways. Either you wish to preserve the homogenous nation-state with fellow compatriots like Fortuyn, warts and all, or you wish to use immigrant allies to promote your values. Well which is it? I hope I don’t see a blog post sometime soon saying “At least ISIS is against SSM!” If immigration is more important than Christian conservatism as a political ideology really does need a Benedict Option for itself.

The reality is immigration in the U.S. should not be as big a deal as portrayed in the U.S. media and certainly not as big a deal as it is in Europe where smaller countries really do face real crises with migrants and values. Islamic immigration to the U.S. is not very big as compared to that of those coming from south of the border. Those persons at least are more culturally compatible to a Christianize culture, however nominal, than Islamic extremists would be. Pim Fortuyn is not some 69-year old fella’ in a small town complaining about the immigrants at the food processing plant who makes sure his meat is at least on his fixed income and that’s where the difference lies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The rich are not like you and I. They don't support Trump

When Nelson Rockefeller first explored running for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1959, he found that most of the country’s rich persons were supporting then Vice –President Richard Nixon. As one wealthy person explained it to Teddy White:  Nelson was not one of them. He inherited his wealth and could do whatever he wanted with it and he did. He wasn’t responsible for employees or to plants or ever had to make a payroll. He wasn’t part of their circles and he certainly didn’t need them as friends.

Once gets the sense with Trump it’s the same thing. He’s rich and he certainly gives money to politicians but rarely has anyone ever gone to private retreats with him begging him to bankroll their campaigns the way Scott Walker does with Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers for example. Indeed, Trump is a vulgar representation of what the GOP donor class truly is. All this concerned citizen stuff is crap. They have interests -  some personal policy but mostly business policy-  and they want people in government to look after those interests not be hostile to them and perhaps even enact policy which help their bottom line.  Trump doesn’t have to pander to such persons because he’s not one of them. He doesn’t need them, he’s too independent and he’s in it for himself. All true, but it’s also a way sticking one’s nose in the eye of the establishment. All these political candidates running after rich person’s money only made them look small in the end in the eyes of the voters compared to Trump. No one had anticipated that a self-funding billionaire would actually run himself.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rand, Rand the Company Man

Sen. Rand Paul should be where Donald Trump is now. Not just on top of the polls for the GOP Presidential nomination, but the top candidate in the hearts and minds of those look to send message to the political establishment, that of the one-fingered salute.

Alas, he is not although he very well could have been. Timing is everything in politics and unfortunately Paul's rotten timing finds him carping at Trump for his lack of party loyalty of all things. The movement which created Rand Paul was the ultimate in being against the establishment yet it is now led by a man who desire to suck up to it for personal political gain had left him high and dry when the mood of the electorate has decidedly turned against what Paul had either hoped for or was counting on.

And there's really not much Paul can do about this either. Having tied his political fortunes to one of the most unpopular Republican leaders in the country and also his fellow Kentuckian, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rand cannot simply break his ties and denounce McConnell without looking like an opportunistic fool, especially when Paul has to foot the bill at a grand total of $750,000 for a statewide caucus in Kentucky instead of a primary. Normally state political parties pay for such changes in order to help out the local boy running for President. Even if there was recalcitrance, a few calls by McConnell to his flunkies on the state party executive should have greased the thing along. Now Rand had to spend precious funds to pay for a caucus so he can continue to run for the Senate and the White House.

Not only has McConnell not helped when it has come to intra-state party affairs, he hasn't helped on the money end as well.  One would think a Senate Majority Leader would have access to donors willing to help out Paul's Presidential campaign. Yet no such luck. Rand can't even get coal companies in Kentucky to help him out (unless, of course, he continues his run for the Senate).

The term is know as "playing the long game" in Paulville, yet for all the sucking up Rand has done for the establishment, it's has availed him nothing or better yet, far less than expected. He endorsed Romney in May 2012 well before his father conceded defeat and got his prime-time convention speech. Does anyone remember what he said? He gave away his contributor lists, let his minions fix it so his father wouldn't be nominated at the convention even thought he had the votes to do so for almost nothing in return except for a lousy speech. He backed McConnell for re-election right away in 2012 and worked hard for McConnell to handily beat his primary opponent Matt Bevin. Yet McConnell has done nothing to help Rand raise money or build campaign infrastructure. Some endorsement from Senate Majority Leader. I could of made the same endorsement of Rand or you could and would have had the same effect.

Indeed, Rand may well have hitched himself and much of his team to a falling star. McConnell is symbol for many tuned-in voters and activists what's wrong with the GOP. These are the voters flocking to Trump. They could have stood with Rand and perhaps some of them did...once.  But one more apparent flip-flop or one more "Rand later clarified..."  was too much for some of these supporters to take. One more campaign to take down LP candidates whether from the Virginia's governor's race in 2013 to last year's mid-term election  completely turned them off. Of course, if you happen to be a libertarian Rand still wants your money, his team will even lie to try and get it. This is before you realize that the LP is a waste of time and a dead-end street and you should support the Rand Paul for President effort.

This is not to say things can't turn around for Rand if events propel the kinds of ideas or concerns people have which Rand is strongly identified with to the forefront of the campaign trail. Along with bad timing, Rand also has the bad luck to share the same state as an unpopular party leader, one he can't just shrug off. He can't attack McConnell, it would look opportunist and shallow and stupid (not to mention being a first in American politics, a candidate attacking one of his own endorsers). It would be hard for him to shed an establishment label he himself sewed together in both word and deed. He's stuck with it and stuck with McConnell. He's still better than all the Republican candidates put together, but that has the same status as being the tallest building in Topeka, Kansas at this point.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

No struggle without faith

It's been said that Richard Nixon once viewed life through the prism of struggle. Nothing good can come to a man from a life of ease it is believed. What one obtains through dogged patience and persistence, it fulfills the struggle because it provides meaning and definition to it. The goal at the end is what's important and obtaining it defines life itself.

Author and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates puts a twist on this thinking in his latest book Between the World and Me, one in which will not satisfy his readers (although Coates is not interesting satisfying anyone's wishes other than what he sets for himself and it is how it should be with anyone's work, take it or leave it). The book is in the form of an open letter to his son and while Coates has plenty of thoughts to offer, when it comes to what's next, it's a akin to child getting a carton of cigarettes on his birthday along with a card.

If struggle by itself is all Coates can offer his boy, then what's the point? Struggle without even the possibility of fulfillment is simply a sentence: the same thing day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. The Greeks defined by Sisyphus condemned to rolling the same rock up and down a hill for eternity. Prisoners do the same too. Meaning and definition would be robbed from it. Sometimes the journey is best documented by how far you've come or gone, you look back and wonder in amazement. Coates doesn't offer this as even a favorable review said: "Coates hope feels stark and brutal." 

This is largely due to the fact Coates is an atheist which allows him to rob faith from struggle. He believes it can stand on its own, secularly, with secular saints providing inspiration. If the next generation can even remember who such people are, read their words or hear their music, then bully. God however, is everlasting and does not have to worry about the bargain basement bin and erasure of time and memory.  

Without faith there simply is no struggle, because to have such faith is a struggle. Condemn a man to his fate in a society you believe brutally unfair and what have you given him but one-way ticket to blowing his brains out to save on time? What's the point, I ask again? Why waste one's time living unless there's something better to live for? Where would the struggle have been without the faith of the slaves, both Jew and black, without the black Christian church providing the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement? or faith of the Mormons, the Irish Catholic victims of the Famine, the Armenians slaughtered by the Turks, the Christian prisoners in Communist cells? Nowhere.  If Christianity can be criticized for promoting heaven over earth, what does the atheist have to offer? Struggle and then you die? Where does that journey go to? Again, nowhere.

I can hear the retort: Why did did it take so long for justice to be done, 400 years?! Are you asking God or the humans who claimed to worship him but sinned against him by being so cruel to their brothers and sisters? Where was man? This ultimately flawed creature. Yet Coates has faith in man to keep up the struggle alone, like Sisyphus on the mountain.

Coates said something interesting in an interview in New York Magazine. He immediately called for the removal of the Confederate flag after the shootings in the black church in Charleston. He stated he said this because he didn't think it would happen. And yet it happened. In matter of weeks, it happened. Did he think to ponder as to why or just stop at "Shit!"?  Well, such things show us even throughout the "struggle" life and the universe still have a way of surprising us. Dylann Roof could have shot at black people anywhere in Charleston or South Carolina for that matter. He chose the church, the African Methodist Church, for a reason, a specific reason, because he wanted to extinguish it, destroy its struggle. But he couldn't, because of faith, which in this case let to it moving mountains. Who knows what it can do next?  The struggle continues of course, but faith makes it continue.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Shape up or ship out

After Rand Paul won the GOP U.S. Senate Primary, the first statewide victory for any Paul involved in politics, there was something about his acceptance speech and the way he spoke which didn't seem quite right. My impressions at that time was that he almost seemed indignant and uncomfortable that he won rather than looking celebratory for the accomplishment it was, beating Mitch McConnell and the state GOP machine starting from scratch.

I bring this up because a new article about the Paul campaign for President in 2016 is basically saying Paul's heart isn't into it, not just the campaign but in politics itself.

I'm sure it has to be demoralizing to Rand to see all these so-called "anti-big government" conservatives and libertarians demanding things from government as a price for their donations, especially the Koch brothers. A skilled politician could taken the Koch brothers rejection and turned it into a positive, that he's not for sale. But the main point of the article isn't fundraising, its whether Rand Paul really wants to be a politician at all. It's not a question of groveling before rich strangers. He can't even get the people he knows or would have affinity with or be able to share ideas or even laughs with to give money to him. Let Pete Thiel just drift away? Why?

Sure, he can fire up the base of his father's supporters (the one's still around who haven't been alienated by the claque which surrounds the Paul family, more interested in making money than in the movement) but he's been told by any number of politicos that to do so would upset his carefully crafted "everybody's second choice" strategy (and no one's first choice). It's funny that Donald Trump can call out Charles Krauthammer and Lindsey Graham and John McCain and lead in the polls. The grassroots no doubt wanted the Pauls to call out this trio of scum for years but we were told "Oh no, we can't do that, we might alienate people in the party." Right, now we know what people in the party really feels about the three stooges. Another case of bad timing and missing one's chance.

All of this begs the question what is Rand Paul in politics for anyways? Does he wish he was back at his practice in Kentucky? Fine then, just do it! Walk away. Don't run for President, hell don't even run again for Senate. I wouldn't be disappointed because at least then other people who aren't going through a mid-life crisis can step up while he steps aside. But at least then the campaign won't be a gigantic fraud sucking money from Paulites with nothing in return for their efforts. You expect people to give money to a man whose heart isn't into this? I not giving to make Doug Stafford rich or have a six-figure salary. No way!

Shape up or ship out Rand, you've got a week to decide. But please don't go through the motions or turn this into another money-making enterprise for the political class.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Put it out of its misery

So conservatives are mad that Donald Trump is sucking up all the oxygen from the other candidates running for the Republican Party nomination, taking attention from things they wish to campaign on, even insulting the candidates and prominent members of the party. Why are they so mad? Ann Coulter couldn't have run a better Presidential campaign with largely the same playbook. Trump's audaciousness, boldness one might dare day, is no different is no different than any Brieitbart videographer or front companies being used for the purposes of making heavily edited undercover videos.

You've got to hand it to Trump, he knows a racket when he sees one, a profitable racket. Now he's trying to muscle in on it and some people don't like it. Tough. Maybe if they are that concerned about what Trump could do to conservatism and the Republican Party if he stunned the universe and won the GOP nomination, maybe now they'll realize it's time to put an end to everything once and for all.

Trump is the hidden fear of the Republican Party, the secret they don't even tell themselves. The fear of many in the party brass (and this was a fear of Rush Limbaugh during his heyday) was that a prominent member of Conservative INC., one with a large following of readers or listeners, would take his flock and leave, start a new party or movement with all those potential voters and activists and, most importantly, donors following. Indeed, Trump has dropped hints, or at least not discouraged, speculation, about a possible independent run for the White House, which would all but doom the party's ticket to defeat in 2016.

Parties and movements don't last forever but the GOP has been around since 1854, that's a lot longer than a Conservative Movement which pretty much can be traced back to 1960 with Barry Goldwater's ghostwritten book Conscience of a Conservative. Conservative thought has been with us since the beginning of time. That it chrystalized into a popular mass movement with its own heroes, history, scholars, writers and canons of books and magazines and think tanks was remarkable in that persons took what was the anthesis in comparison to other popular movements (labor, antiwar, environmental et al.) and made it into a "movement" itself with all the same characteristics. Conservatives (or Tory parties) political parties in the West have always been seen as aristocratic, more concerned with protecting property and status than anything else. What changed of course was that a growing middle class would embrace such conservative tenents as well and largely for the same reasons: protecting one property and in many cases hard won status. Throw in protection of traditionalism and you have a formula for people like Margaret Thatcher and  Ronald Reagan, both persons of modest means growing up, to become ideological and political conservatives.

The problem is in this day and age, the West has become much diverse in color and religion and thought because the capitalism and free markets it promoted in order to provide for growth of persons property and wealth (in response to socialism) provided for such diversity. It was inevitable. But these conservative parties are stuck with political bases which are largely homogenous (i.e. white and Christian). Of course conservatism can integrate diversity into its ranks. It has done so in Canada over the past decade with good success and there are some prominent Republicans of color as well (the same hasn't worked as well in the UK or Europe). But this becomes hard to do when a party's political candidates or workers are notorious for their anti-immigrant and some cases outright racist views. When Donald Trump calls Mexicans rapists, he saying this not just about the illegal crossing the border but also the owner of a grocery store in Los Angeles, a banker in South Texas, and artist in Chicago. Thus, such persons, who might have conservative leanings when it comes to property and tradition, cannot vote for conservative parties who don't want them as members. And the only response to this dilemma for some is to double down and presume to get more voters like themselves rather than expand the base.

Sadly, so much of went into creating the "movement" (for conservatives and libertarians too in some cases) had to do with race more so than class (or even religion going back to the rise of the Religious Right in the 1970s). The documentation is out there, there's no denying it. Just pursuing a "Southern Strategy" and appealing to the worst in people's natures, even if in code, is damning enough alone and there's much worse if one cares to look. Movement leaders on an early time deserve a good deal of the blame for allowing it to happen or thinking through the consequences of aligning themselves with unsavory elements until it was too late. Purging a political party of much of it elements just to align it ideologically all but assures the party is at the mercy of those ideological forces. The GOP can do nothing to stop Trump even if it wanted to. It may not have to, but his rise shows a party can only do so much to deal with those willing to seize it for their own purposes if that what its voters wish to do. And those forces now have the means once only reserved for parties to basically create their own politics with the party nothing more than just a brand label.

But this goes to the larger problem of the "movement" itself. Like all political movements, they eventual degenerate from mass participation and promotion of new ideas into special-interest category more worried about sustaining itself than bringing grassroots opinions and ideas to the front there never had a chance before. To do this the "movement" encourages the more flamboyant and the more entertaining and more confrontational in order to rile up those who are its patrons and ensures that they continue giving if even they're better off saving their money. It's the only way they can throw their weight around and prove they are relevant. And as it tries to sustain itself it becomes largely a business unto itself . Such filthy lucre then brings out the charlatans and the hustlers looking for a piece of the action, people like Donald Trump. For someone who was once very pro-immigration (as judged by public statements years ago) to speak like a nativist has nothing to do with a change of heart but everything to do with marketing oneself to a target audience. We're not talking ideas anymore, we're talking a business and that's what it has become. And that's why its called Conservative INC.

The only way to stop this is for statesmen and businessmen and scholars and writers and just ordinary people to rise up and not buy what the business sells anymore and thus starve it of funds, deprive it of listeners and take back scholarly institutions and make them do actual research instead of producing talking points for political parties.  Unfortunately this will not happen until such persons see beyond the impact of immediate politics to a future of thought which influences everything around it. That would require conservative persons to do so but it remains to been if there are any still left out there.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

War, cosmotarians and the Confederacy

War, like politics, can sometimes make for strange alliances as they are intertwined there are plenty of examples throughout history when such grouping happen. Stalinist Russia allied with the democracies of World War II or Royalist France aligning itself with a rebel movement in American against a fellow monarchy or Tsarist Russia and Republican France before World War I against a rising Germany. Self-interest when it comes to nations knows no ideology and neither do political groupings either.

The Second Gulf War in Iraq and all military operations in the Middle East after 9-11 operated in the same fashion when it came to politics when it came to opposition to the war. Since Vietnam, peace movements have largely come from the Left of the political spectrum and that was true for Iraq as well. But the war also gave an opening for a new group who was also anti-war but from a different point of view to enter to the coalition and to benefit from it by starting a movement. Sadly however, this movement's ties to an older and less savory politics and points of view may well keep it still pertinent critiques from reaching a broader polity.

Critics of U.S foreign policy from what's commonly characterized as the Right of the political spectrum began to pop up with the end of the Cold War and with the first Gulf War of 1990-91. The most prominent of these being Pat Buchanan but others like National Review writer Joseph Sobran. Likewise from the Right-libertarian faction, former Congressman Ron Paul and his followers at the Von Mises Institute were also critical of U.S. foreign policy post-Cold War as well. They opposed first Gulf War and many other U.S. military operations as well throughout the 1990s, especially the bombing of Serbia,  and into the next century with the war in Iraq.

These critiques ultimately led to a new political movement. The "Buchanan Brigades" had played themselves out politically after the 2000 presidential campaign and while non-interventionist were not explicitly antiwar. The Ron Paul Revolution on the other hand was the epitome of antiwar from a strictly non-Leftist perspective. It was much broader and it's basic point undeniably libertarian: to reduce the size government one had to reduce the size of military-security-industrial state. It was a point many on the political line could come to some tacit agreement.

The problem was there were many libertarians, particularly those living in Washington D.C., who bought the government's war in Iraq hook, line and sinker. They immediately went on the attack on Ron Paul and his movement for his opposition to the war. The "cosmotarians" they were called or better the "Orange Line Mafia"  named after the D.C. Metro subway line which carried many of these persons to their places of employment. Their attacks upon Paul, centered around the infamous "newsletters" to which Paul put his name to and Lew Rockwell edited, helped to wreck the potential of the movement and campaign, both in 2008 and 2012. The war was one reason for these attacks and in some cases outright smears. But there was deeper division involved, one which haunts what's left of the Revolution and asks forlornly what might have been?

There were many literary figures and scholars of a conservative bent who for long time, since the end of the War Between the States, regarded Abraham Lincoln and his rhetoric as a forerunner for future totalitarianism, from the New Deal to some extreme cases Communism and Fascism. Many of these figures were Southerners to be sure (Mel Bradford for example) but anti-Lincolnism had its supporters all over the country and for largely the same reasons. Given this, it was only natural libertarian scholars also opposed to totalitarianism would pick up this mantle. And once having picked it up, it was also inevitable that sympathy for the Confederacy which opposed Lincoln while downplaying its most odious features, would follow. Thus, think tanks like the Rockford Institute, (of which this writer wrote pieces for its magazine Chronicles) the Von Mises Institute and writers, scholars and editors working for them, think tanks that were far away from Washington D.C., were the most prominent.

None of this was inevitable. Why criticism of the nationalism and Whiggism which followed to ultimately lead to the U.S. Empire needed to include corollary support for Confederacy, which was also expansionist in its nature (many Southerners looked to annex Cuba and prominent "fillibusters" like William Walker who once tried to take over Nicaragua were Southerners) is puzzling from this author's viewpoint and regrettable as I once shared it too. There is nothing about the Confederate government in its polices like slavery, conscription or paper monetarism, which is worthy of  libertarian or conservative sympathy at all. That it came to such is largely because, as stated before, in war and politics, in this case the struggle against "big government", made for strange bedfellows. Murray Rothbard is good example of this. The libertarian scholar and writer went from Strom Thurmond confederate to Robert Taft Republican to New Left sectarian and then all the way back to Pat Buchanan, all in an effort to ally himself with anyone in his mind running against the central state or war state for that matter.  Yet all this political posturing and historical downplay for ideology's sake leads such libertarians and conservatives down an ideological cul-de-sac as this Newsweek article states. To deny the role slavery played in the secession and the eventual outcome of the war i.e why the North ultimately won, and to deny the role the matter of race plays in the larger political context has done enormous damage to their larger purpose.

It was these connections which prevented the Paul Revolution and others who shared the same critique of U.S. foreign policy from breaking out from the Right for a broad antiwar coalition which could truly change the country. Now there's not much of an antiwar movement anywhere (the Left having sold itself out to the Democratic Party and surrendering to its new nationalism). Rand Paul doesn't suffer from the same destructive innocence of his father when it came to lending his name to people who thought they could win the David Duke vote only to watch themselves run from their paleo Frankenstein monster. But he also finds himself constricted in what he can campaign on, no doubt embarrassed by such past ties (as PAUL Fest back in 2012 no doubt showed).   It hasn't just been the Pauls either damaged by such ties. The Second Vermont Republic and persons like Kirkpatrick Sale hurt themselves with its associations to the League of the South through secession conferences and gatherings because they saw secession as an ideology rather than thinking through why certain groups of people wish to secede from larger political entities in the first place

It may well be the fault of such writers and scholars and editors for allowing their work to be tainted but it is also the fault of "cosmotarians" indeed cosmos of all stripes on the Left and Right whose support of failed policies such as the war -  policies which well beyond their own ideologies in an effort "to get along" as many did in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 - caused many to seek alternatives, some more radical than others. Those whose opposed and who shared the critique of the militarized, empire state the U.S. has become, made friends wherever they could find them, not an unheard of tactic in politics (or war for that matter). Yet there comes a time when you have to forsake political friendship to keep your own intentions true. Outside of being someone honoring their actual ancestors, there's no reason to fly the Confederate flag to honor it or think a political statement or try sanction one's ideology based on historical revisionism or engage in cheap politics based on where you think the votes are. Those who have done this now find themselves on political and ideological islands in this day and age and the effort against the Empire pretty much has to start all over again and away from these same groups.