The Rising of 16

pizapcom146219386145812Jessica and I are both rather taken with Ruth Davidson, the leader of the conservative opposition in the Scottish Parliament. Jess wrote about her, here, and she just keeps sounding better and better. For instance, last Sunday, writing on one of my favorite British blogs, A Conservative Woman, Tom Gallager said this.

The SNP’s [Scotish National Party] membership swelled during the referendum which David Cameron carelessly gifted to Alex Salmond when he was First Minister, on terms that suited the SNP. Militant activists from post-industrial west-central Scotland now dominate the party. The new party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, sought to appease them by talking up the chances of another vote on Scotland’s constitutional future in an otherwise lacklustre campaign.

The Scottish Tories have got a capable team who often sound authentic because many can relate to the farmers, housewives, small business people, owner occupiers and aspirational young people overlooked by the SNP in favour of urban activist groups.

Months on the stump under a massively popular young leader, Ruth Davidson, have persuaded a lot of Scots to take a fresh look at the Tories and not dismiss them as class-ridden, out-of-touch and anti-Scottish.

Like Labour before it, a mediocre SNP has ramped up the anti-Tory rhetoric to make up for its glaring deficiencies during 9 years in office. But outside some Clydeside areas, this opportunistic tactic has obtained diminishing returns.  Six Tories have been elected for single constituencies instead of relying on salvation by getting a place on the list system which makes voting in Scotland roughly proportional. They include Davidson herself in Edinburgh, Adam Tomkins in Glasgow, an academic who played a formidable role in the 2014 referendum, and a swathe of new MSPs right across southern Scotland.

via Tom Gallagher: The SNP is obsessed with social engineering – The Conservative Woman

Yep, and you know, part of what I detest about politics here, and in Britain as well, is all the negativity and campaigning by running down your opponent. Since Jess moved to Edinburgh (and had the pleasure of voting for Ms. Davidson, which I envy) I’ve been watching the Scottish news fairly regularly, and if anything Ms. Sturgeon comes off worse to me than Tom says above.

Not much of that with Ms. Davidson. She seems to be all about responsible government, improvements, especially in education, Britain’s educational system is in almost as bad shape as ours, and for the same reasons, mostly. Tom also made this point.

The SNP is dominated by lawyers and managerial types who along with mobilised minorities have sought to turn Scotland into a laboratory for  ever more radical forms of equality laws, which are a screen for heavy state control of society by ‘experts’ and overseers.

It is well-known that Ruth Davidson is a lesbian, less well-known that she is a practising Christian who has boosted the appeal of her party by offering common sense answers to problems rather than ideological prescriptions. She is committed to making government more transparent and less centralised and arbitrary. With this approach she struck a chord with numerous Scots throrougly fed up with SNP autocracy.

The Scottish Tories are stronger in terms of brains, experience and broad appeal than any of their competitors. This is quite a turn around for a political force written off by academics and media commentators as moribund or from another age. They will make their presence felt in the committee system of parliament where the SNP has been able to ram through civil service blueprints for turning Scotland into a thoroughly state-controlled entity.

As I said to Jess recently, Davidson portrays conservative parties as they should be, both here and there. What I said was this, “The party of productive people at all levels, and all (how do I say this) lifestyles.” because as conservatives, we know that what you do at home isn’t our business, it’s yours, and likely something for you to take up with God, not the politicos. That to me is the worst part of the very leftist SNP, they really do want to stick their nose in your bedroom.

But let Ruth Davidson speak for herself.

Too often, our parliament has focused on the powers it hasn’t got and on endless debates about the constitution.

The time for that is over.

Whatever else Nicola Sturgeon has, she doesn’t have a mandate to drag independence back to the forefront of political debate.

This is one area where I will be uncompromising. There can be no excuse for the SNP to continually hold our country to ransom.

We’ve had enough of the grievance. Enough of the dog-whistle politics which always seeks to lay the blame at Westminster. Enough of the clumsy attempts to claim that whatever the problem in Scotland is, the answer is independence.

The SNP were sent a clear message last week.

The people of Scotland asked them to govern for five more years.

In denying them an overall majority, the voters put them on a shorter leash.

The SNP need to focus on the day job. Making sure they do will be my guiding mission for the next five years.

via: Ruth Davidson: I will work with the SNP as opposition leader – But there will be NO second referendum on my watch

My sort of conservative, she is!

The title? Well, if you know your history, you’ll know that in 1715, there was a rebellion in Scotland against King George I, attempting to restore to the Throne King James II, after King George had purged the Tories from government, and amongst other things, imprisoned in the Tower Robert Harley, for supposed financial mismanagement. The rebellion succeeded for a time in Scotland under the earl of Mar but ultimately failed, almost everyone was pardoned, except for Rob Roy MacGregor, eventually, the entire Clan Gregor was mostly suppressed, many coming to America. In fact, MacGregor, Iowa is named for the clan. The rebellion has come down to us as ‘The Rising of 15’.

And that made me think of a few line from Walter Scott’s poem Glenfinlas

Not so, by high Dunlathmon’s fire,
Thy heart was froze to love and joy,
When gaily rung thy raptured lyre
To wanton Morna’s melting eye.

Angry and afraid, Moy replies,

And thou! when by the blazing oak
I lay, to her and love resign’d,
Say, rode ye on the eddying smoke,
Or sail’d ye on the midnight wind?

Not thine a race of mortal blood
Nor old Glengyle’s pretended line;
Thy dame, the Lady of the Flood—
Thy sire, the Monarch of the Mine.

Conservative success!

344223-scottish-conservatives-leader-ruth-davidson-on-a-tank-close-ge15-uploaded-april-29-2015-quality-news

In the 1997 General Election, the UK Conservative Party lost all its Scottish seats, and with the creation of devolved parliament in Edinburgh (where I now live), it seemed that north of the border, the Conservatives were a dead ‘brand’. As recently as 2011 they had only 17 seats in the Scottish Parliament, and with the Scottish nationalists winning an unprecedented second term with a majority of seats (something hard to get under the electoral system here), it seemed that the country was headed toward a one party state and possible independence. Then something happened – or rather someone happened – a 5 foot 3 bundle of energy called Ruth Davidson became leader of the Scottish Conservative Party. She seemed, to put it mildly, an unlikely leader for the Scottish Unionists.

She comes from a working-class background, got to University, went into the media and then, so it seemed, committed career suicide by taking up a career as a Tory politician in the most viscerally anti-Tory part of the UK. Before she became leader there was some doubt as to how Tory voters – and others – would react to the fact that she was both openly gay and a practicing Christian? The short answer was delivered yesterday when the elections saw her win a seat in Edinburgh (I voted for her) and her party become the second largest in the Scottish Parliament. So, what went right?

We often say here that personality matters. Well, Ruth Davidson is a former territorial army officer, she broke her back in her twenties and had to learn to walk again – she’s not really going to be phased by political insults. She’s a bundle of energy, she’s so obviously sincere in her support for the Union that she’s been able to win support from those who are not natural Tory voters but want to save the Union and do not trust the Labour Party (which did dismally here) to do so. Labour, in an attempt to win some nationalist votes, at least sent signals it might be willing to do deals on the subject. No doubt there were those offering the save advice to Ms Davidson, but she rejected that line and went with what she believed.

There’s a lesson here for the Conservatives south of the border. Widely seen as dominated by upper-class public school boys who have no idea how the rest of us live, their candidate for the London Mayoralty, the multi-millionaire Zac Goldsmith, was beaten into a cocked hat by the Muslim son of a Pakistani bus driver, Sadiq Khan, a Labour MP who sounded as though he actually lived in London in the way most ordinary people do. Boris Johnson, another public schoolboy, had the charisma to be able to appeal across the political divide, and who knows, may become Prime Minister when Cameron stands down.

But up here, the dynamism of Ruth Davidson offers another option – a down to earth figure who can appeal to people across the political spectrum and whose obvious sincerity and connectedness to reality makes her a popular figure. Boris might hope she stays here – we certainly do.

Character is Crumbling in Leadership

Ebctnb5Dale R. Wilson, who publishes Command Performance Leadership, is one of my oldest blogfriends. He doesn’t publish as often as he used to, which is a shame, but when he does, his posts are always incisive, and important. This is no exception.

In military and civilian academic institutions around the world, above and beyond their core curriculum, character is taught and inspired.  In each of the military academies in the United States, as well as college Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, the purpose and responsibility is to produce leaders of character.  To accomplish this, they incorporate the values of integrity, respect, responsibility, compassion, and gratitude into the daily life of cadets and midshipmen who aspire to become tomorrow’s leaders. […]

At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point character development strategy promotes living honorably and building trust.  West Point believes that their approach not only develops character, but modifies behavior over the course of the 47-month cadet experience.  Ultimately, the desire is for cadets and rotating faculty members to depart West Point with the character, competence, and commitment to build and lead resilient teams that thrive in complex security environments.  Most importantly, everyone commits to living honorably and building trust, on and off duty.

The Cadet Honor Code at West Point:

A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.[iv]

Recommended Reading: Duty, Honor, Country [Go there, if you haven’t read this lately you owe it to yourself, to see what built our country! Neo] […]

No matter what our challenges happen to be, either driven by stress or human urges, we must strive to reach deep within ourselves to overcome the temptation to make poor decisions; no matter if we are in uniform downrange, or in daily life with our family or friends.  Our country, society, superiors, peers, subordinates, family, and friends are relying on our steady and consistent moral courage to translate into professional decorum and behavior; always.

Many respected military leaders of the past espoused the vitally important qualities of a leader.  Lieutenant General John A. Lejeune, the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps said, “Leadership is the sum of those qualities of intellect, human understanding, and moral character that enables a person to inspire and control a group of people successfully.”  Among General Douglas MacArthur’s 17 Principles of Leadership, which essentially acts as a leader’s self-assessment questionnaire, there is this question: “Am I a constant example to my subordinates in character, dress, deportment and courtesy?”

via Character is Crumbling in Leadership | Command Performance Leadership

Well, are you? Frankly this isn’t something just for the military, nor is it just something for Americans. This is the essence of leadership, and servant leadership, at that. It is the ideal,the pinnacle of leadership. None of us succeed all the time, but if we wish to have a free society, we must try, and even more to the point, so must those we appoint to lead us.

Frankly, I learned this early, my dad, showed this, almost as strongly as General Marshal did, but even so, ROTC codified it for me in the saying.

First: the Mission

Second: the Men

Last: yourself

That is what I’ve always strived for, and in whatever measure I’ve been successful, it is that striving that is responsible. But, in business today, like our military, I see little of this. What I see is a selfish, uncaring of anybody but oneself attitude, that assumes that everybody is looking out for themselves. They may be right, to a point, but they (and their companies) will not find long term success, using this rubric, nor will America. Because much too often they’ll not lead, but manage, and bring that down to the level of the next quarterly bottom line. In every case that I have seen, that has led to losing the best people, and the ruination of the reputation of the brand, and often the demise of the company.

Not a good recommendation, for our companies, nor, especially, for our churches, and our military, and, emphatically not for our country.

Myths,legends and facts

lvalad

“This is the West, sir, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” One of my favourite quotations from any film, and it is what the newpaper editor, Scott, says to Jimmy Stewart’s character, Ransom Stoddard at the end of The Man who shot Liberty Vallance. Even for the great John Ford, that’s some line. Stoddard, a Washington grandee, former Ambassador to the UK and likely Presidential nominee, has come back to the town of Shinbone for the funeral of a local rancher, a nobody called Tom Doniphon, and the local press want to know why: Jimmy Stewart’s character tells them a story which is not just about how the West was won, but how it became civilized.

The story began quarter of a century before, when what is now the State was a Territory – with men who wanted it to stay that way. The young Stoddard is held up by a notorious outlaw, Liberty Valance, and pistol-whipped. Doniphon, a tough local rancher, takes him back to town and sets him up with the family who run the local canteen – his love interest, Hallie helps the wounded lawyer recover, and he helps out at the canteen – eventually falling foul of Vallance – played by Lee Marvin at his brilliant best. In a scene packed with tension, Doniphon tells Valance to pick up the food that’s been spilled by him tripping ‘Ranse’ Stoddard up: it looks like there will be a shoot out – but Vallance backs away – Doniphon’s that sort of a guy.

So, we have there the old West, men are men and all that. It;s rough and tough, and if you haven’t got a gun – or don’t know how to use it – you’re not going to get far – or even live long. But Stoddard is the new order’s forerunner. He believes in the law, sets up an office in Shinbone and works with the local editor as the Territory moves towards statehood.

Doniphon tries to help Stoddard adapt to the ways of the West, but an attempt to teach him how to use a gun is a failure. But Valance and his type are not to be stopped by the law. They beat up the editor and burn down the newspaper offices, and Valance challenges Stoddard to fight him. The first two shots see ‘Ranse’ injured, and he drops his gun – Valance, wanting to rub it in tells him to pick it up – sure the next shot will be right between the eyes – but to everyone’s surprise, the next shot kills Valance. Hallie runs to help the wounded Ranse. Doniphon, who actually fired the shot, sees that he has, in saving Stoddard, lost Hallie – he goes back home, drinks himself into a rage and burns his house down – being saved by his faithful retainer.

At the convention where the vote for who should represent the Territory in Washington is to be taken, Stoddard is challenged by a rival, who says that he should not be trusted because he shot a man. Soddard hesitates, wondering if that is actually the case – should a gun fighter be a politician. Doniphon removes his doubts by telling him the truth about the man who shot Liberty Valance. The rest is history, Stoddard becomes Governor, Senator and Ambassador, marries Hallie and has the career which opened up to men of his type as the United States moved towards its manifest destiny. Now Doniphon is dead, it is time to tell the truth – but the press don’t want the truth – the legend does them just fine.

So Doniphon, who had saved Stoddard’s life and made his career possible, dies alone and unheralded – but not quite, Hallie and Ranse have not forgotten him, or who he was, and who he was was more important than what he did. He did what he did because of who he was. He was the sort of man who did the right thing because it never occurred to him to do the other thing.

This is Ford’s world at its best – there’s no one does the old world making way for the new better. He admires the values of the old West, and he sees them re-embodied in a different form in the new. Doniphon and Stoddard are two sides of the same coin. Their integrity shines through – and Doniphon is all the more believable for not behaving like a plaster saint when he knows he has lost Hallie. Plaster saints neither won, nor will the hold, the West. And now, as then, the media prefer the legend to the facts!

It only encourages them?

God-Bless-AmericaNeo is not the only one among us who, contemplating the political scene, wonders whether there’s a point blogging about it. The rhetoric on all sides has become as toxic as the feelings which seem to prompt it. We seem to have forgotten that of all the things which make life worthwhile, and of all the things which add to the sum of human happiness, politics is among the least; it is meant to be a means to an end – not an end in itself. When you have professional politicians, you must expect them to disagree – to them it is their life. But there is no use our protesting ‘attack ads’ when we cheer those from ‘our side’ whilst condemning those from the ‘other side’. If you forget you are all Americans, you risk forgetting what matters most.

For a Brit, watching American political ads is an odd experience. UK law does not allow you to make stuff up for the purpose of smearing your opponents and then to broadcast it 24/7. It may be a restriction on free speech, but it is also a bulwark against cheap speech. Lest we forget, words are the coin in which politicians pay their tribute to ‘we the people’; we could do so much more by way of ensuring that those words were worth the paper they often, nowadays, were never written on in the same place. Decent people should be ashamed of politicians who need to talk about the size of their male organs in public; they should be ashamed of those who brazenly lie and call it ‘misspeaking’ – but if ‘we the people’ applaud like fans at a ball game, then the politicos will carry on doing it. They are not stupid, nor are they advised by stupid people – they do these things because the pollsters tell them it is worth spending millions of dollars lying; then we wonder why, once in office, we find we cannot trust them? We have shown we can be bought cheap, so we shall be sold cheap, too.

It has always been the case that in making a speech, politicians think that they have solved a problem when, at best, they have drawn attention to it. We have had much soaring rhetoric – and too little by way of delivery. But then we are an impatient and fickle people. Of course politicians will not admit to failure, because they know they will be attacked; so they get their retaliation in first. They over-promise because, it they don’t, the other guy will – and we’ll buy what the other guy is selling – even if it is a nine dollar bill in reality. If we act like magpies in the presence of shiny things when politicians promise them to us, they will continue to do so – and the more they do it, the more devalued the word becomes. If ‘my word is my bond’, then there are a lot of junk bonds out there peddled by junk politicians to junk voters.

Sure, we are angry. Sure, when politicians are so ready to claim they can solve all our ills, we are equally ready to blame them for their failure. We condemn the growth of a ‘victim culture’ – and play the victim ourselves. It isn’t, we say, our fault that we have politicians who devalue the currency of words and treat us like idiots – well, since ‘we the people’ are the electorate, it is hard to see who else could be to blame. These spin doctors respond to what their focus groups tell them will work; clearly no focus group says honesty will work. Yet, and I say this as a non-partisan, surely at least part of the reason that ‘the Donald’ and ‘the Bern’ have pulled in votes is that there is one authentic and honest thing in what they say – that is the authentic note of anger felt by an America which feels betrayed, which feels it is getting lost and left behind. Well, if y’all really are mad as hell and won’t take it any more – prove it – stop voting for these people, it clearly only encourages them. What would they do then? Who knows, but it might be interesting to see.

We have, said a very great President, nothing to fear but fear itself. We can all blame the other lot for the state of the nation’s politics – it sure is easier than blaming the people who vote for them. If we will not be true to our values and the things that matter, or if we don’t think that ‘we the people’ have enough in common in terms of values, then that union which was established on these shores to defend life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, will dissolve – and it might be that we lose so much more than we can see.

Nancy Reagan RIP, and a bit from Jim deMint

Official White House photograph of Nancy Reaga...

Official White House photograph of Nancy Reagan, wife to then-President of the United States Ronald Reagan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before we start, word has come that Nancy Reagan died yesterday morning, this is how an era ends. made me think of a bit of T.S. Elliot from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled

She’ll be missed! RIP and enjoy being with Ronnie again.


The Reagans knew as much as anyone about building a conservative movement, and so it may be fitting to add this here because Jim deMint know a fair amount about it himself. Genevieve Wood tells us:

Candidates for federal and state office are running successfully on conservative ideas—cutting government spending, protecting religious liberty, repealing Obamacare—that have taken hold over the past five years, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint says.
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