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.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Era of the mirror

I was going to write this after the recent UK election a few months ago but didn't get a chance to. But after watching a lot of BBC political documentaries on You Tube, I've come to the conclusion what happened was the end of an era which lasted from 1979 until 2015, an era in which both major parties of British politics, Labour and Conservative mirrored each other in their experiences as parties both in and out of power. Both parties were in power for long stretches of time (Conservative 1979-1997) and Labour (1997-2010 although the Tories went 18 years like Labour without a majority) and both parties went through painful "wilderness" years which brought about gut-wrenching change to both of them. In fact, both parties were such mirror images of each other, you could even line-up some of the politicians involved and they would compared very nicely with each other. For example:

1). Tony Blair = David Cameron  (The PMs who were the party modernizers)
2). Tony Benn = Margaret Thatcher (Ideologues with adoring fans who tried to give their respective parties purpose and ideas but also were very divisive figures)
3). Michael Foot = Ian Duncan Smith (Good studies in what happens to organizations when people not suited for leadership lead them)
4). Denis Healey = Kenneth Clarke (The respective best leaders neither party ever had)
5). John Smith = Michael Howard (Transitory figures to the party modernizers)
6). Neil Kinnock = William Hague (Opposition leaders in difficult times for their respective parties)
7). Jim Callaghan = John Major (You can make the case for comparing Gordon Brown with Major but the deep splits in both parties during their wilderness years began with both men's PM tenures)
8). Gordon Brown = Michael Heseltine (Important party figures trying to plot their way to the top with Brown ultimately making it but soon crashing and burning. Only Heseltine's health kept him from being Conservative leader.
9). Robin Cook = Geoffery Howe (Men of conscious resigning in the wake of policy differences)
10). Roy Hattersley = Michael Portillo (Not a neat comparison but not exactly loyal deputy leaders)

There's also some corresponding events as well. Black Wednesday (1992) = The Panic of 2008. The Winter of Discontent = The Poll Tax. The ouster of Margaret Thatcher in 1990 via parliamentary coup and the near coup by Gordon Brown against Tony Blair in 2007 and subsequent leadership elections as well.

There are others I'm sure you could make on a cabinet level but you get the picture. The rise of the SNP has basically ended one era of British politics and now we're in a new era that will need its own story to be told 15-20 years down the road.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The coming conservative-America crack-up

On this Fourth of July weekend I saw a cartoon posted on Facebook where a young boy looks up to his grandfather during a fireworks show and asks "What are we celebrating?" and the grandfather responds "That we were once a free country". The grandfather is holding a newspaper announcing the recent Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. It shouldn't surprise you it was drawn for a conservative website.

The Supreme Court decisions on the ACA and same-sex marriage were triumphant capping for what I called the "Nationalist Left" in an article for the American Conservative. Although such triumphs should not have come as a surprise because the court itself and the commercial interests it has almost always represented have been the greatest centralizers and nationalizers in American life. When a patchwork quilt of laws adopted by the states interferes with commerce in any fashion the court more often than not will side with those commercial interests to standardized the whole country for sake the efficiency which leads to more profit. There was no way the court was going to allow either the ACA or SSM to exist in such a quilt-like fashion, It was either going to be the law of the whole land or wasn't. That's how its has operated since 1787.

What's different this time its the political Left reaping the patriotic benefit from nationalization and the political Right being alienated from it. This wasn't always true. Since the Cold War and especially during the Vietnam War, it was the political Right seizing patriotism as cause for itself. Dissent against American foreign policy, the notion of there being a "Blame America first crowd" the expounding for "American Exceptionalism" have found expression on the Right side of the political ledger. But the events of the previous few weeks may well have been a turning point and the relationship of the Right, both political and ideological, towards America may well have changed to the point where the hills one side or the other occupies may well be matched down and switched.

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore reportedly broke down in anguish at the court's decision over SSM. One can imagine the anguish the former Vietnam Vet through the sum of his life experience is going through as he realizes that a country like Uganda for example, bans SSM and the U.S. does not. So what's so exceptional about America anymore? He has to ask himself. And if it's true as he says Christians will now be persecuted for opposing SSM, then the process of alienation from the nation upholding what they feel is a Godless law, will only increase. Those opposing the ACA because it is "socialist" will certainly feel the same way. Republican candidates will certainly talk about repeal and Constitutional amendments during the upcoming election, but with sizable majorities of the voting public supporting both SSM and much of the ACA (except for the part known as Obamacare) they will do so at their only at their own political peril. Indeed, such persons can't even retreat to the Confederacy, the alternative America they defended in the past now that its symbol has passed from a narrative of valor to one seen in the context of present of being a toxic symbol of hate and murder.  

So what's left those on the Right if patriotism becomes the last refuge of the Leftist? We hear talk of Benedict Options for the religiously minded, about breaking away and tuning out, retreating exile from the America of 2015 and of the future. At least such talk is the acknowledgement politicians and parties aren't going to save them. But then what can? If it's true, Rush Limbaugh perceptively said recently, "We fine-tune socialism and call it conservatism" then perhaps the best course is acknowledging this and moving on.  We may well be a far cry from Reagan's envisioned "City on a Hill" rhetoric ideologically but politically to do so would be poisonous, as it was for liberals before the end of the Cold War. Indeed, the spectacle of those on the Right trying to pontificate what America means to them given the realities of America 2015 and beyond will be incredibly difficult. If they only pine for the past they will only be supported in such places which also do so. If they announced hatred for the present they will noted and accordingly be punished. They can try to think anew but cannot do so outside of the context of the current USA and what will be. If that's too big  a burden to bare they should run to the hills as some have suggested but don't expect separation will lead to renewal and don't expect it will lead to peaceful isolation. The America of today doesn't provide a lot of room despite plenty of elbow room when it comes to all the wide open spaces. Of that, the Supreme Court has made sure of.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Double Loser - Part II

I wrote about political violence being a losing a proposition for those who could not control the narrative (or "spin" to use a more contemporary phrase) of their violence. I had written this in the aftermath of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore where legitimate grievances over police brutality or local government using the poor as ATMs for their coffers would be obscured by burned-out stores and overturned police cars.

Well, if anyone had the phrase "Born to Lose" tattooed across his white face its Dylann Roof. He provided another example of political violence being a loser for those marked by history as losers with his terroristic massacre of nine black Christians in church in Charleston, S.C.

White Southerners, like the Irish and black Americans too, have suffered the bulk of defeats in U.S. history, often times because game is rigged against them but also sometimes through their own mistakes. The mistake Roof made was not to hide his tracks. Unlike another young, white mass killer Adam Lanza, Roof not only didn't destroy all his computer searches (and kill himself) to leave nothing behind but mystery for those wondering about his motives. Instead, he left behind a big fat manifesto and pictures of himself with a Confederate and other white-supremacist flags and burning a U.S flag to make sure his motives were quite clear. Had such things not existed, Roof could have copped a insanity plea given the evidence of his drug use. Instead he'll be remembered as a killer with cause and perhaps the one who drove old Dixie down.

For as we saw this past week, there was no way in the world Roof was going to be able to control his narrative and nor would those who still defend the Confederacy with something more than just remembrance. No, Roof smashed all that to itsy-bitsy pieces committing what he thought was an act of war. The church he targeted, how he planned the attack and the reasons he did so were all calculated for effect. The madness only lies in what he thought he could accomplish. But as Roof himself said, everyone else in white supremacy chat rooms and website just talk and fantasize. Roof actually did what they've always wanted to do but didn't have the guts to do it.

Still, he almost didn't either. He took almost an hour before he came to his moment of decision, It was probably an agonizing hour trying to decide who he really was. Was he a killer? Could he kill these "nice" people just attending a weekly Bible study that goes on at churches all over the country? What did they ever do to him as individual? Nothing. But it was at that point Roof lost his individuality, his own judgement, morality and conscience. Instead he became what he thought was a soldier in some mass army out there on Stormfront of the CCC. Maybe he thought he was one of those Confederates in uniform back in 1861 and this was his Ft. Sumter.  Whatever he thought he was at that moment it was better than what he was: an unemployed, drug-addicted, transient with a rap sheet living in his car or a friend's trailer. Maybe he wanted to impress his new online friends and not punk out when the moment came to make the charge into history, who knows? Yet, like the loser he is, instead of Ft. Sumter what he got was Pickett's Charge, the gallant but doomed attack of a people trying to reject modernity.

Ta-Neshi Coates said of the Southern plantation class in recent article that they justified slavery as a means of creating white equality. That's what they wanted the outside world to believe. In reality such planters held the "hillbilles" and the "crackers" in as much contempt and perhaps more so than the slaves, which were after all their "investment". In reality the existence of such hard-scrabble farmers and backwoodsmen were an embarrassment to them and a lie to the notion of widespread regional prosperity and equality because of cotton and slavery. Their idea of the South were having themselves in charge and only themselves ruling over everyone, slave or free, and who would have to accept their rule because they were left uneducated and could not vote due to poll taxes or literacy tests or because they were slaves. Their's was a feudalistic society where classically educated men, like European nobles and knights, were at the top and everyone else was below them the farthest below being the serfs themselves. Southern society wasn't entirely this way but it came close enough to where those making the decisions favored secession when the time came to largely protect their status. Viewed from this perspective, the split between John C. Calhoun and Andrew Jackson becomes clear. Calhoun represented the planter class because that's where his career grew out of and Jackson the farmer because he was like them, a backwoodsman. It's also why there was little support and enthusiasm for the Confederate cause in places like Eastern Kentucky or Eastern Tennessee, West Virginia, the mountain and hill areas of South and in places outside of the cotton economy like southern Florida south and central Texas. It why many Confederate soldiers had to be conscripted to the and why many of them deserted near the end of the war.

The Roman and Greek societies to which such planters look towards as models had slavery too but it was not a slavery based completely on race (although many Irish, Scots-Irish came to the New World as indentured servants they could at least work for their freedom). Thus for poor whites the fact they weren't black as thus not a slave was the only thing they had going for them. "If you isn't better than a nigger what is you better than?" was the line from the movie Mississippi Burning that Gene Hackman gave which tried to explain the vicious racism of his father. Instead of blaming his poverty on the powers that be, he blamed it on the Negro. This is not just a Southern problem. Northern whites from Chicago Poles to Boston Irishmen to New York Italians to Milwaukee Germans have acted in the same manner towards blacks as poor white Southerner for same the reason: that life at the bottom is a zero-sum game and if you're losing, it's not because those above you are keeping you down, it's the fellow next to you keeping you from rising up. That must be it! And its from such misplaced enmity comes fear and then hate then ultimately exploitation from those seeking your consent to maintain their power over you to make sure you don't look in their direction.

Thus the context of the life of one Dylann Roof. It can be asked, as Jon Stewart recently did, what Roof has to complain about since the Republicans i.e. the White Party runs almost everything in South Carolina. But that means nothing to him anymore than President Obama or the black police chief or the black mayor meant to the rioters of Baltimore. So what? Roof has no inherited wealth of generations of planters. He's not retired military living in a low tax state off his government benefits. He's not a businessman.  It doesn't seem at all that he's religious or that "culture wars" matter to him. The only connection Roof has to the GOP is his race, just as black are tied to the Democrats. And in that way and others Roof was no different than many of the rioters at Mondawin mall: unemployed or unemployable due to a lengthy rap sheet, struggles with substance abuse inadequately educated and quite angry. But Roof's anger was not directed at a power structure which has acted abusively in many cases to cause such grievance. Instead it's directed to a whole group of people he's been told again and again by the ignorant and the hateful they are the cause of his misery. Was it the loss of girl to a black man which finally brought his rage from inside the out? Does it matter? The fact that it was there and misdirected at the wrong people and for the wrong reasons is what matters.

A warning to those think persons like Roof have some sort "white privileges". You'll never convince unemployed people living rusting trailers of this. In fact, more than likely, you'll convince them they're being denied such "privileges" by blacks. As I've stated, the Dylann Roofs of the world have more in common with those dispossessed of West Baltimore and Ferguson than those who make up the power structure. Only their race separates them, which unfortunately has been used to keep them separate figuring out what truly ails them for hundreds of years. People who have nothing and never had anything to begin with have no "privileges" to share nor would know how to take advantage of them even if they did exist. Just giving people the opportunity just to dream of something better, if nothing else and the very least, will do more to "spread the wealth" than hectoring a powerless people. The First and Second Reconstructions failed or were of limited success because poor and lower middle class whites were never convinced or shown how they would or could benefit from a more equitable society and free for all people.  If what we're going through right now is a Third Reconstruction, then it better include all races and classes and regions otherwise those left behind will simply produce more Dylann Roofs to continue their struggle as they see it, not as reality has it.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Texting and the Constitution

Russ Feingold got a lot a of grief on the Left when he supported John Roberts' nomination as Chief Justice but I think he understood Roberts's better than most so-called conservative did.

Roberts may be a conservative but he's not an ideological one. Ergo his decisions are going to be made with best interest of the status quo and of the national government (which, coincidentally is the best interests of the business community). And as confirmed Republican, he's going to keep an eye as to what's best for the party (which why his court will never overturn Roe vs. Wade).

"Textualism"  or "strict constructionalism" is an ideology and one I'm sure Roberts probably laughs at. If by textualism one means most what is permitted by law in the country is un-Constitutional because it wasn't put down on paper back in 1787, then I would say then most of what the Federal Government permits by law is certainly unconstitutional. But since the law is made and interpreted in the reality of 2015, embracing such a narrow vision of the law is not something Roberts' is going to share. One could make the argument the Court has gone beyond its "textual" mandate since Chief Justice John Marshall ruled on Marbury v. Madison. Indeed, Roger Taney's "textualism" on slavery basically help to cause the War Between the States.

Instead, Roberts did exactly what the business community wanted in keeping Obamacare instead of creating chaos in the healthcare markets by overturning it. The ideologue may have wanted Obamacare gone, but Roberts the actual conservatives knew this would be folly, especially over a stupid wording mistake and voted once again (!) to uphold it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Socialist in name only

A friend of mine, Jack Ross, was traveling the country recently on a tour for his new book: The History of the Socialist Party of America and I attended his stop in St. Paul about a month ago. There, members of the Democratic Socialists of American (DSA) were signing up people who attended to work on Sen. Bernie Sanders campaign for President.

I applauded their efforts because it reminded me of the way non-major party activists were helping Ron Paul in the Republican Party presidential nominating process back in 2007. But the larger question is whether such efforts will make an impact upon the larger Democratic Party in the same fashion as Paul's campaigns did upon the GOP. The answer will only be found out whether Sanders has a great appreciation for the legacy of the old Socialist Party than he has displayed so far in his career.

Forget the arguments about Sanders being a socialist, whatever that means. We are all socialists, just to varying degrees, some less and some some more. This is true even of libertarians. The only ones who could be called true non-Socialists are Randians and they're devotion to utter selfishness and narcissism makes them so beyond the pale they're not worthy of much mention. No, what's important about Sanders' "socialism" as far as it goes is where he started from and where he is now and what can he say, if anything, which would challenge Hilary Clinton.

As Justin Raimondo of points out, Sanders started out on the hippie, localist antiwar left when he first came to Vermont from Brooklyn, then became more radical by supporting the Socialist Worker's Party in 1980 before steering himself back to the localist Left he abandoned in 1977 when he was first elected mayor of Burlington in 1981. But Sanders considered "socialism" differed greatly with local activists. As one of them pointed out: "At the very least, Sanders’ commitment to an industrially-based socialism was colliding with the community-based peace movement's commitment to ending foreign intervention and violence. The casualties were some mutual trust – and the workers who later lost their jobs as demand for GE’s Gatling guns waned."

Thus, it should come as no surprise (which was always to the ire of Vermont Independence supporters) that Sanders has no problem voting against certain wars like Iraq and yet supports the purchase of F-35 jets for Vermont Air National Guard. His views are fairly conventional mix as one would find on the far Left of Democratic Party but hardly more than that.  That he considers himself an “independent” is a merely a fig leaf for himself which say more about the politics of upper New England than what socialism means.

Which is too bad, because if there’s one issue Hilary Clinton would be vulnerable on in the context of a Democratic primary or caucus (especially in states of Iowa and New Hampshire) it’s her foreign policy views. They are views which could be exploited to give Sanders more traction and support among Democrats and which Clinton would have a hard time co-opping for herself, which she seems to be doing with every other issue Sanders brings up. He could attack her over Libya and Syria and denounce the Military-Industrial –Complex as being bad for democracy, self-government and person freedom.   

Indeed, this what the original and real Socialists back in the 19th and 20th centuries stood for. This is what Ross makes clear in his book. Unlike other socialist parties which split over World War I, the Socialist Party in America stayed true to anti-interventionism. Socialist Presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs even went to jail over it.  Sanders could adopt this legacy, and I believe his campaign would prosper or at least do better than give Clinton an excuse to celebrate every Tuesday early next year. We’ll see if he does but his past track record suggest a lot of doubt.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Realistic Rand returns to his roots

Sen. Rand Paul is starting to find his way back to the original Ron Paul Revolution, even if the journey is more about realism than a revelation.

It seems as though Rand is having a very hard time raising money for this Presidential campaign from the usual crowd of billionaires. Very few of them seem to be willing to give compared to the other candidates. It was my opinion the group running Rand's campaign saw the grassroots supporters which built the Paul movement from scratch as a nuisance and wanted to fund pretty much an "auto-campaign" with corporate money paying for robo-calls and TV ads. Thus I was shocked reading this article that not even the coal people wanted to give to see Rand run for President. If that's happening, where else is Rand going to turn to for money and support but the grassroots? Hopefully this shatters the illusions people have about big business and corporations if all they've learned comes from Ayn Rand novel. For all the supposed "anti-government" types in the business community, why all are these billionaires so down on Rand? Because he wears blue jeans? No! Because what the Revolution is about will change things, to the point where it upsets their cozy little words. They are the establishment and they are so for a reason. They are intimately connected with government through various means (M-I-C for example) even though they'll deny it to the hilt. They all want something from the Feds and Rand isn't campaigning to give them anything, ergo they don't support him. Not even the coal company fellow. They're all whores and that's why they waste their money on politicians and campaigns instead of doing some good with it.

In fact the waste is sickening. If they really don’t want government in people’s lives, they should donate money to building hospitals, libraries or schools or other institutions which would save the taxpayer money. They say it’s just the cost of doing business. In reality it is the cost of doing business according to political consultants and their companies and the media, especially local TV and radio stations, which make a killing every election season off these billionaires.

Rand’s money problems can be spun into something which helps him but you need skilled political people to do so. We'll see if that happens. But bottom line is this, Rand now needs the grassroots, the grassroots movement his father created. To me, that's what is important. And if that means we see him killing the Patriot Act and starting to fight back against the neocon vermin and their fellow travelers, hey I'm all up for the battle. That’s why I’m confident there will be no “deviations “ like signing the Iranian letter like he did with other Republicans. To keep the grassroots happy and giving money, Rand has hold forth to the ideals of the Revolution, or he’ll get nothing.

Now maybe it's not a "Come to Jesus" moment but it doesn't matter. What matters is that we still matter, those of us eight years ago who basically created the Revolution from scratch and that we will still embrace Rand so long as he embraces and doesn't run away from those concerns which helped us start the movement in the first place, things like the Patriot Act for example. If the campaign can't get the big bucks from the suits, then they either have to close-up shop or go to the people who created it and created Rand Paul, U.S. Senator. And if they do so, I'll welcome them back with open arms like a long, lost friend. If I'm going to be critical for Rand for the things I feel he's doing wrong, then I should praise him for what I believe he's doing right too. And others should too as well. Now I'm interested in 2016 again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In defense of cultural religion

I wrote this in one of the comboxes at the American Conservative website. Also, take this link to an oustanding article on religion and working class America:

Moral Therapeutic Deism (MTD) is huge because it’s what most people want and it is easier from the Evangelical churches to give it to them than more tradition and rule-bound Catholic Church can (or even the Orthodox). Are you not the least-bit curious to the fact that the religions which best hold its membership in modern times in the U.S. (Evangelicals and Mormons) are the exact same ones that are uniquely American creations compared to the traditional Protestant and Catholic religions?

People throw out the world “Evangelical” all the time and I agree the term is useless when some wish to describe it to certain political views. It’s more a style of religion that is less concerned about tradition and rules and more about the emotive and the personal and yes, the simple. And it’s very flexible and can fit into whatever you wish it to be for yourself, the most individualist of nations. For nation founded in the rejection of aristocracy and high churchism, it is not surprising a religion that is the least hierarchal and the least institutionalized would be the most popular among American Christians? Many may not like this but once again they seem to keep forgetting they live in the “Good Old US of A” and keep forgetting or don’t realize the affect it has on religious development. Ask yourself why you don’t see the same kind of loose style of Christianity in Western Europe with the same kind of institutional problems? Over there, the “nones” are the ones that dominate.

If the current trends remain unaltered as stated in the article, then what you are going to have is an even more polarized society than now largely between the secular and the Evangelical and the rest trampled on in the middle between the two. But I would think that many would agree it is the Evangelical church which would have the easiest time accommodating itself to the secular society given its less structured form. Again, it may well be MTD but if one’s tax exemption is at stake for the big, expensive megachurch, then it will carry on unassumingly and for those who no desire to fight “culture wars” it will simply drop the subject. This may disappoint those who, like Leftist radical saw the workers, on the Right who see churchgoers as the new proletariat put their intellectual theories into practice. But a generation of such leaders and followers is passing and what is coming up is not interested in cutting itself off from the broader society into Benedictine ghettos because it lives and breathes off the society as it exists today. As people have noted, you break down ethnic neighborhoods and local economies, you’re going to have wrecked churches left in its wake and people seeking spiritual comfort wherever they can find it (Tim Pawlenty and I would imagine John Kasich are the best example of this). Ergo, Catholic to Evangelical.

For all those criticizing “Cultural Catholics” just remember that Mormonism is a culture too, is much as it is a religion, and culture is what makes religion as much as what one believes in the Bible. It’s much easier for a cultural Catholic to go back to church if they have fallen away but haven’t found a new religion because they know what to expect. What may be routine to you and what seem “sacrament factory” to others is just simply a way of life, a structure to anarchic world. Is that so bad? When your charismatic pastor to your mega-church in the exurbs dies and his successor if that isn’t quite as “colorful” or has different ideas, then what? There’s something solid about knowing what has been is always still there even if you’re not around as much as you once were. Those attacking “ethnic churches” (especially on the Orthodox side where those churches are the bulwarks of those communities) ask yourself how the process of creating a uniquely American Orthodox church without any kind of foreign influence is going?

I understand the frustrations of those Catholics tired of all the liturgical tinkering. The Novus Ordos mass works well and beautiful in its simple form too but such simplicity unfortunately worked against it when certain pastors wanted to be “with it” to evangelicalize. You can’t have bongo drums and guitars in a Latin Mass, it’s impossible. But the problems with the Catholic Church go a lot deeper than just Mass style, wouldn’t you all agree? An establishment church torn by scandal, divided between the pious and the those seeking to accommodate for themselves, between the political and the apolitical, between the rule-bound and those hoping for a breakthrough spiritually, is a church which isn’t in a very strong position in the United States right now and will probably take generations to recover itself even if there are fewer members (although I believe immigration levels, especially from Africa and Asia will keep itself numbers up more than perhaps people believe).

All I know is this: if Joe Biden says his rosary a lot more than I do, then I’m not going to view one’s faith based on their political positions. If that makes me “cultural” so be it. I’m a Catholic first before I am a “conservative.”

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Double Losers

Ta-Neishi Coates, one of the best writers around, has written "Violence does work" which in many cases throughout history is true. However, I think even he would agree violence is more effectively used by those with the power to shape such violence in the manner they wish to choose. This is true in both what violence hopes and the narrative in which it is justified. Those without power can use violence too, but wind up double losers in the process.

The first loss of course is the grievance in which violence arises. The rioters of Baltimore may well have had a good argument to make against abuse by the police force which their taxes (sales or otherwise) support, but said argument is simply negated by destruction of property and theft. Whatever they had to say was lost in the general revulsion to hooliganism (although if you are going to riot make sure you're not trying to make a political point. People seem to be more accepting of sports riots or even riots at the Keene, NH. Pumpkin Fest, for example).

The second loss comes in the aftermath. If  violence does have an effect if highlighting grievance, and even if some good comes from it, the damage and scars which come from it take a lot longer to heal. There are probably communities which probably still haven't recovered from the riots of 1960s let alone what may come in Ferguson, Missouri or West Baltimore. As was the case in Detroit, the result violence may have resulted in the transfer of political power from one community to another but only at the cost in human and capital flight leaving those left almost nothing to work with. What justice is obtained becomes ashes as the years.

To give a good example in American history, go back to Shays Rebellion of 1786-87 when debt-ridden western Massachusetts farmers rose up against the state government. The rebellion was put down but one would have hoped their grievances would at least be given consideration. Some of them were (taxes were reduced and there was a moratorium put on debt collections. But the upshot of the rebellion was a U.S. Constitution approved and ratified which created a bigger, more powerful government than the Anti-Federalists would have dreamt possible and the establishment of that day closed ranks (the rebellion prompted Washington to come out of retirement and chair the Constitutional Convention) to create a government to deal with future Shaysites. Again violence by the less powerful led to a double-loss. Perhaps its why the Gandhis and Martin Luther Kings of the world thought non-violence not just morally superior but better tactically too.

Candian politics - Activate!

Once upon a time I was very much interested and fascinated by the politics of Canada. But after about 2011, with the Tories firmly ensconced in power and the Quebec independence movement pretty much over with, I had lost interest even with an election coming up in the fall. Boy Trudeau vs. Stephen Harper? Wake me when it's over.

 But then a strange thing happened yesterday which made me take notice again. Alberta, ruled for so many years by the Progressive Conservative Party, had a change of government. Not to a new PC leader, but to an entirely new party. In fact, the most unlikely party of all, the left-wing New Democrats. The NDP ruling the most Republican part of Canada, do I hear the sound of hell freezing over? Indeed it did. For the first time since 1971, a party other than the Tories will rule Alberta. And it won't be a minority government either. NDP has a solid majority of the Legislative Assembly with 54 seats. The PC's have been reduced to a mere 10. They're not even the official opposition. The right-wing Wildrose Party moves into that slot with 21 seats.

 A combination of low oil prices, the corruption of one-party rule and a PC government which raised taxes doomed them from the outset of the snap election. Certainly the idea of another party supplanting the PC's wasn't unheard of but most figured it would be Wildrose and certainly not the NDP doing so. But like a lot of Right parties, Wildrose has been unstable from its beginnings (before the election 11 of its members defected to the PCs) and conservatives have to fact a hard truth: Alberta has changed. Sure, many usual PC voters, disgusted with the party, probably voted NDP just to throw the current gang out. But the prosperity of the oil sands boom over the last decade brought in a lot of people who weren't around in 1971 when the PC took advantage of a dying Social Credit movement and became the populist party province against the hated Liberals of the East (who won exactly one seat in the election). And it's brought in a more diverse population as well, which also led to the NDP's rise. to power.

Of course, this isn't the end of the tale either. The province is dangerously polarized like never before. Wildrose dominates the rural areas, the NDP controls the cities like Calgary and Edmonton. Does the NDP lean towards environmentalism in regards to the oil sands or to the workers there and their jobs, remembering its roots as an industrial union party? Will this divide them and create further instability? Will an NPD government create such a backlash that a more ideological PC Party is reborn in the ashes (especially with Wildrose as a competitor for the same votes?) just like in Ontario in the mid to late 1990s? Will an NDP party with no governing experience be able to control a province with MLAs who, as one put it "look like they lost their university student government elections?" Will Wildrose be able to expand its base into the Calgary and Edmonton suburbs or just be another rural protest party, destined to suffer the same fate as many such parties? Whatever happens, things sure got interesting again up North.

Examples in sovereignty

The only poll results that seemed to be accurate in the recent elections in the United Kingdom was the Scottish National Party (SNP) was going to win big and boy did they ever. The SNP took 56 of the 59 seats at stake and came within an eyelash of winning 58 out of 59. With this result, many assume independence for Scotland could be well around the corner, even though the referendum for independence lost by a 55-45 margin. However, just because the Scottish did so well, one shouldn't assume anything when it comes to the future in politics because what may happen in Scotland and the UK could be the very same thing as what happened to Canadian politics at the turn of the century.

The Liberals dominated much of the 1990s in Canada because the Tories were torn to pieces and the Bloc Quebecois controlled Quebec (in fact they were the official opposition from 1993-1997). After 2001, the Tories came together again as the CPC and managed to block the Grits but neither side could take power again because the Bloc removed between 45-55 Quebec seats off the table and neither side wanted to do business with the Bloc to legitimize it.

The Bloc failed largely because the dream of independence vaporized after 1995 (which was an even closer margin than the Scottish referendum). There are many reasons for this but ultimately what happened is many Quebecois (especially the younger generations) realized independence was never going to happen and decided they were going to play a role in national politics instead of just sitting on the sidelines so they voted en masse for the NDP. Will the same happen again this fall? We don’t know, but what we do know is the Bloc ain’t coming back.

This could easily happen to the SNP as well. While not every SNP supporter favors independence, its activist wing does and they have to be catered too and cultivated. But that puts pressure on the SNP to hold another referendum soon. The SNP is no position to do that right now and they know it. But it’s this tension that I believe is going to pull at the Scottish Nats for some time to come, just as it did in Quebec.
Perhaps the biggest difference even though the Bloc and the PQ were the biggest parties in Quebec at the time, there was still a strong Liberal Party opposition that was pro-union that proved to be a break on their efforts. Right now in Scotland, the major British parties are a joke. Only utter mismanagement by the SNP would bring them back. Not to mention the fact the SNP has young faces representing them like the 20-year old who won a Parliamentary seat. Quebec nationalism was largely the movement of a single generation (Baby Boomers) and failed to progress beyond it and to French speaking immigrant groups as well.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

No War -- No Big Government

This column by's Justin Raimondo is exactly what many have been saying for a long time when war and big government. Anyone wishing to see the latter reduced must face up to the fact that the national security-intelligence and militarized state has to be reigned in. This was the essence of the Ron Paul Revolution. It's too bad eight years later the politics has simply not responded to this simple truth. Republican politicians, their candidates for President (including Ron Paul's own son) think you can balance the budget with massive increases in national security spending by eliminating NPR. This is what passes for policy making in the GOP.

The problem can pinpointed to the fact that too many Republican voters are either 1). Dependent upon the national security state for their livelihoods or 2). Are so fearful of life in general they've scared of their own shadows. They buy more and more guns, live in gated communities and demand overseas bombing of any potential threats.

Political patronage and opportunism plus mind-numbing fear is not a sellable platform for a political party to stand on.  Dick Cheney once famously said "the military is not a jobs program". And yet most Republican politicians (privately of course) believe the opposite. Because they know which constituencies and communities are going to take the hit economically with a downsized military-intelligence-security establishment - theirs. Add in this economic opportunism with the poisons of neoconservative ideology, Christian Zionism, basic nationalism and tie it all together with the band of fear and typical your Republican politician. It's not an accident. They perfectly represent the party as it is.

The only way to break these ties is through politics itself. If a mainstream Libertarian Party could become a political liability to the GOP, (meaning they can't win elections with LP candidates on the ballot taking five percent of the vote), it could revolutionize the American political scene. They may get their chance if Gary Johnson finds himself pitted vs. Hilary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

Friday, April 10, 2015

It's Spelled with a "w"....Arkansaw

With a change in job, I had to set up a new blog on So, I'm moving from "Thursday's Blog" to "It's Spelled with a 'w' " in honor of my place of residence: Arkansaw, Wisconsin.

Arkansaw has been around since the mid 19th Century, a former center of the lumber trade in Pepin County until the trees were mostly felled. Today, it's an unincorporated village of 300 people in Wisconsin's dairy county in the western Wisconsin, about 45 minutes southwest of Eau Claire. We're just three miles west of the county seat of Durand. It was named after the famed book "The Arkansaw Traveller" and the "Travellers" were the nickname for the local high school team (until the school closed in 1992) and the elementary school team (until it closes in a year sadly). We're the location for the Pepin County Fair, just a stone's throw from my home.

It will be the same kind of blog, just my thoughts on any political, national or world topic which comes to my mind, once a week. This time it will be on Wednesdays which will be my mostly likely day off in my new work schedule.

Those who ave been my readers, I'll do my best to help you find my new blog location, which I like to through comment sections at various websites, like TAC or Washington Monthly. Thanks again!