The Rise of Hillary and the Death of Politics

150220_POL_Hillary.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlargeIn full disclosure, I dislike Hillary Clinton (nor am I fond of Bill) and it would probably not be amiss to add that I have little more regard for the Bushes. All of them together epitomize things about politics in America that I dislike, chiefly the rise of politics as a career path nearly approaching dynasties.

That said, In the 2008 campaign, I did admire Hillary, she refused to campaign simply as a woman but, on her ideas. I wasn’t likely to support her, since I think they were (and are) wrong ideas that benefit only the state  and its sycophants but, that’s different matter.

Brendan O’Neill wrote on Spiked a few days ago about his views, and here they are.

Clinton’s gender-obsessed campaign confirms the end of political life.

If you want to see how small politics has become in the 21st century, just look at Hillary Clinton’s chucking of her hat into the 2016 US presidential race. Or better still, look at the response to her unveiling of her presidential ambitions, the chorus of cheers and whoops that greeted her decision to make hers a gender-focused, grandmotherly, womanish campaign, in which, as one excited observer puts it, sex – as in biology, not raunch – will form a ‘core plank’ of Hillary’s stab for the White House. What this speaks to is the suffocating extent to which the politics of identity, the accident of who we are, the lottery of our natural characteristics, is now paramount in the political sphere, having violently elbowed aside the old politics of ideas, and substance, and conviction.

Hillary’s presidential launch confirms that, in the space of just seven years, identity has become pretty much the only game in the town of politics. For as many commentators are pointing out, even as recently as 2008, when she stood against Barack Obama in the clash to become the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary wasn’t all about gender. There was something else. ‘Ms Clinton played down the gender role the first time she ran for the top job’, as one American news report puts it: ‘But this time it’s expected to be a core plank of her campaign.’ Back in 2008, Clinton did ‘her best to make gender a non-issue; this time it’s expected to be the opposite’. The Guardian, long-time supporter of the Clintons, especially when Bill bombed Yugoslavia in 1999 (liberals loved war back then), gushes about the fact that Hillary is playing the gender card. Where in 2008 she ‘struggled against the idea’ that she was striking a blow for her gender – that is, she foolishly though her views counted for more than her vagina – this time she will put ‘gender at the forefront of her presidential race’ to become ‘grandmother-in-chief’, says the Guardian approvingly. We will never know if the supposedly feministic Guardian’s leader-writers stopped to think that it might be a tad patronising to define a woman who has been involved in law and politics for 40 years by the fact that she’s a granny.

But of course, that’s the card Hillary herself is playing. She uses the Twitter hashtag #GrandmothersKnowBest (one wonders if that will be printed on the side of the missiles she fires at errant states that dare to piss off Madam President). And her launch video was all about gender. Primarily featuring women – and of course containing a nod to gay marriage, for it is political suicide for any public official to fail to genuflect cravenly before this most orthodox of modern orthodoxies –her video is an identity-fest. It says nothing of policy – bar supporting families and being nice to working people – and instead tick-boxes all identities, especially gender ones. Young woman? Check. Ethnic woman? Check. Old woman? Check. Mexicans? Check. Gays? Check, check, check. Left-leaning observers are falling over themselves to pat Granny Hillary on the back for what one describes as her ‘shift in tone from 2008 to 2016’, where she will now be ‘running as a woman’. In 2008, she ran as a politician; in 2016, she will run as a woman. How, precisely, is this ‘shift in tone’ from defining a female candidate by her politics to defining her by her gender a positive thing?

Continue reading: The rise of Hillary and the death of politics | Brendan O’Neill | spiked.

And that’s sad, on many levels. But mostly because it tells us that a (perhaps large) group of Americans no longer believe in the worth of individual, only groups, women, Hispanics, the poor, whatever. That is not what America was ever about, America has always been about social mobility, if you don’t like where you are, get to work and fix it.

The American dream was never about things, a chicken in every pot, a house in the suburbs, all those other slogans we have heard. It’s about making it on your own, that why our ancestor’s left Europe, and it limiting class structure. In a phrase, “to breathe free”.

In his last paragraph, Brendan says this:

Where the politics of conviction treated us as political subjects, shaping the world through argument and analysis and action, the politics of identity makes us biological objects, shaped by our natural characteristics or our skin colour or by our private choices to have kids, to have grandkids, to be gay, to be married, or whatever.

i can’t improve on that, and that is what is at stake in this election.

Pew first: Gun rights top gun control in major public opinion shift

12-10-2014-2-19-42-PMThis is interesting, although to be honest, I find it unsurprising. From the Washington Examiner:

Exactly two years after President Obama’s bid for gun control following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting died in Congress, a new poll has discovered a huge shift in public opinion to backing Second Amendment gun rights and away from controlling gun ownership.

The reason: Americans now believe having a gun is the best way to protect against crime, 63 percent to 30 percent.

Pew Research Center found that while support for gun control once reached 66 percent, it has dropped to 46 percent while support for gun rights has jumped 52 percent, the highest ever in the past 25 years.

“We are at a moment when most Americans believe crime rates are rising and when most believe gun ownership – not gun control – makes people safer,” said the survey.

Keep reading: Pew first: Gun rights top gun control in major public opinion shift | WashingtonExaminer.com.

I said above that I don’t find it particularly surprising. That’s because I don’t think Pew got the cause completely right. probably because of the news coverage we get, some of do think crime is up, and it is, in some locations, like, say Chicago. But I think there is more to it.

Most of you know that I have family on the east coast, and they are fairly normal for the area, compared to me, you’d likely call them liberal, some, at least, voted for Obama, at least once. But when I was back there at Christmas, one of my nieces, who lives in a somewhat isolated area, commented that she was considering getting a gun. I was surprised, although not shocked. Like all my family she has a big dose of reality based thinking in her, and knows that women living alone are vulnerable.

My only advice to her is what it always is, “Make sure first that you are willing to use it, otherwise you are simply giving someone a weapon to use on you. And practice!”

But I don’ think this is driven by crime, at least in the normal sense. I think a large part of this is driven by the administration. Obama has made governance in this country a continual constitutional crisis. His disengagement with many of the American norms of government (even if for most, they are merely lip service), has made much of the citizenry uneasy, and unseemly trends in the surveillance state, and the militarization of police departments has added to the mix.

On an objective basis, many of these things can have a case made for them, but coming one after another, it is distressing, and the obvious unwillingness of the Department of Justice to enforce the law on an objective basis (remember the Black panthers in Philadelphia back in 2009?) has made it worse, far worse.

In large measure then, I don’t think the country is arming itself against crime so much, as it is arming itself against a rogue government, in defense of our freedom. That is, of course, the real purpose of the second amendment, not to protect hunting, or to fight crime, but to stop tyranny in its tracks.

And it appears to be working.

I also find it interesting that politics is changing as well. if one were to look at American governance outside of Washington, one would find it to be more conservative than it has been since 1928. so perhaps what we are seeing, is the return of that peculiarly American individualism and self-reliance, and the beginning of the break up of the nanny state.

Well, one can hope, anyway :)

Unions battle for survival in key strongholds as court cases challenge forced dues

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Fra...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Franklinas Delanas Ruzveltas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So Illinois has had about enough of the Public Employee Unions as well. It’s about time. Illinois has granted them pensions which cannot ever be funded, Illinois simply can’t raise the money. This is what always happens when a union ‘negotiates’ with a body that is not spending its own money. Even FDR, no friend of business, thought it a terrible idea. From Fox News.

[…] In the Midwest, where auto workers, Teamsters and other unions have had a stronghold for years, the right-to-work plan has been met with massive protests and multiple court battles — yet right-to-work laws have passed in Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Now that battle lines are being draw in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln state may become the last stand in America’s heartland for the unions. Without a policy of mandatory dues, unions anywhere stand to lose revenue and members.

“In half the other states in the U.S., government workers have a right to choose whether they will give money to a union. In Illinois, government workers don’t have the right to make that choice,” said Jacob Huebert, an attorney for the Liberty Justice Center, which is representing plaintiffs in the Illinois lawsuit. […]

Unions battle for survival in key strongholds as court cases challenge forced dues | Fox News.

Even the business of Big Labor and Big Business was pernicious to the working man (or woman). I watched as that combination killed American steel and nearly killed (and may yet) the American automotive industry.

And besides, it seems to me that if they were providing benefits on a par with their dues (or fees), their members would be glad to support them without the aid of government guns. But I think we all know that union leadership is much more worried about the union and their perks and overblown paychecks than they are the welfare of their members.

Erastianism; John Stuart Mill, and the Saviour State

images10This is an outstandingly interesting (albeit long) article. I don’t agree with all his premises, especially with regard to intentions but he’s very good on outcomes. In any case he’ll make you think.  By Douglas Farrow writing for Touchstone magazine:

The Audacity of the State

Jeremiah Wright’s 1990 sermon, “The Audacity to Hope,” which lent Barack Obama the title of his electioneering book, has the story of Hannah as its text, and a painting by G. F. Watts

as its foil. Whether the lecture at which Wright first heard of the painting, or his own subsequent reading, included a consultation of G. K. Chesterton’s 1904 treatment of Watts, I can’t say. […]

The Savior State

When I speak of the audacity of the state, the kind of state I have in mind is what we may call the savior state. The main characteristic of the savior state is that it presents itself as the people’s guardian, as the guarantor of the citizen’s well-being. The savior state is the paternal state, which not only sees to the security of its territory and the enforcement of its laws but also promises to feed, clothe, house, educate, monitor, medicate, and in general to care for its people. Some prefer to call it the nanny state, but that label fails to reckon with its inherently religious character. The savior state does have a religious character, precisely in its paternalism, and may even be comfortable with religious rhetoric. […]

Re-Sacralized State

We can hardly be surprised at this. The Erastianism which (to speak anachronistically) had long been trying to get the upper hand in Christendom, managed to do so in the wake of the Lutheran Reformation, though it was in England that it first succeeded. The year 1534 brought the Act of Succession, and a mandatory oath of allegiance that included assent to everything declared by parliament about marriage in general and about Henry’s in particular. Later that year, the Act of Supremacy also established the king’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction, making no mention of the proviso formerly attached to it by the bishops: “as far as the law of Christ allows.”

Christendom, of course, had already seen many princes who were determined to make the church do their bidding. But Henry, by writing his supremacy into the laws of the realm, inaugurated a new era. In that era, the ongoing process of subordinating religion to the demands of the state would outrun the monarchy as such, and the Church of England too. Not merely some, butallof the church’s authority over things public would gradually be expropriated, binding even the conscience—as the Act of Succession already did—to the authority of the state.

Today we live in a society that shrinks in horror from the very idea of established religion, something the American Constitution in any case forbids. Yet we live, even if we live in America, in states increasingly ready to withdraw conscience clauses not only from public servants but also from doctors and druggists and so forth, requiring them to violate the teachings of their religion and the dictates of their consciences in order to demonstrate their allegiance to the state.

In Britain, and increasingly in North America, even churches and charitable organizations are not exempted from laws that demand conformity to state-endorsed ideologies loaded with religious implications. Penalties for violation include heavy fines or even imprisonment. Thus have we come round to accepting Erastus’s invitation to the state to punish the sins of Christians, supplanting the church’s sacramental discipline. We have come round, that is, to the de-sacralization of the church and the re-sacralization of the state, which is once again taking a tyrannical turn.

Keep reading: Touchstone Archives: The Audacity of the State.

Specifically, I have trouble with his underlying assumptions about the Enlightenment, about John Stuart Mill, and about Christianity’s inherent hostility to the individual rather than ecclesiology. Still more would I dispute libertarians antipathy to the family, it may be true of some but most are far more family friendly than the sacralized state.

But whatever their intention, in many ways, what he says here, is where we are. That is our baseline and it’s up to us to guide where we want to go.

Hillary! and Kipling

So Hillary! is running, Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist has some thoughts, and so do I.

To start with I don’t disagree with a single word she wrote here. It strikes me as strange that the Democrats, who like to think of themselves as the party of the young and hip, can’t seem to find anybody but an old woman, without accomplishments (except I suppose for marrying Bill). In addition she’s full of old and discredited ideas, and ties to Wall Street that Mitt Romney can only envy.

Old Rudyard Kipling has some pithy thing to say about people like her as well.

THEY shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:
But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?They shall not return to us; the strong men coldly slain
In sight of help denied from day to day:
But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,
Are they too strong and wise to put away?Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide–
 Never while the bars of sunset hold.
But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour:
When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
By the favour and contrivance of their kind?Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
Even while they make a show of fear,
Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their friends,
To conform and re-establish each career?Their lives cannot repay us–their death could not undo–
The shame that they have laid upon our race.
But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
Shell we leave it unabated in its place?

I always thought he summed up the political class pretty well when he said

I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

And summed it up in two very pithy lines

If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.

“My special tender friend”: The Long History of More and Cromwell

d9509e_a1183470b7ad4b3c9b79592ae6954221I ran across this earlier this year when Wolf Hall was running in the UK. Since it is running now on Masterpiece Theater, it seems a good time to bring it forward. It’s very good television, just don’t confuse it with objective history, it’s not, there’s a fair amount of propaganda in it.

Here’s Dr. Joanne Paul:

I like to think of More and Cromwell on some sort of bizarre historical seesaw. It seems that when one is up, the other is inevitably down. In A Man for All Seasons, More is the glorified protagonist, so Cromwell becomes the conniving enemy. In Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Cromwell is the hero, or at least antihero, and so More is given a less sympathetic portrayal.

Much of what we think we know of their relationship comes from More’s earliest biographers, who were keen to place the two men in precisely this sort of opposition. For instance, it is from More’s first biographer, William Roper, that we get the story of More, upon his resignation as Chancellor, advising Cromwell: “you shall, in your counsel-giving unto [the King], ever tell him what he ought to do, but never what he is able to do…. For if a Lion knew his own strength, hard it were for any man to rule him”. And Cromwell, in Roper’s version, teases and flatters More while he is in the Tower, prompting his reflections on “eye flattering fortune”

But how much do we really know about More and Cromwell – their relationship, what they thought of one another? We know the end of the story – or we think we do – the two men face off, and Cromwell wins, until he too is cut down. But is that the right way of thinking about it?

The two were probably born about the same time only about 5 miles apart; More in Cheapside, Cromwell in Putney. Neither came from particularly prestigious roots, More’s ancestors were brewers, bakers and candlestick makers, Cromwell’s father was a blacksmith and merchant. The main difference between the two men’s early lives seems to have been their paternal fortunes. More’s father was an up-and-coming lawyer, Cromwell’s was a brute and a drunk.

Continue reading: Dr Joanne Paul | Renaissance Historian | “My special tender friend”: The Long History of More and Cromwell.

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