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 :)

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.

Optimism in America? 2

[I’m just going tp pit this post up and let the air clear again. I was working on other things and didn’t get today’s done. But Jessica reminds us of some eternal verities here. America was built on optimism, and we’d be remiss if we see only the gloom these days. So enjoy. Neo]
America optimism

One thing which has always struck me about America, and it is one of the reasons that FDR and President Reagan stand so pre-eminent, is that it is built on optimism. When you think of the situation of the Founding Fathers, goodness, what a leap of faith! They literally laid their lives on the line in a fight for independence against the great British Empire with its huge military might; but they triumphed. Their Republic consisted of twelve States on the eastern edge of a great, and largely unexplored Continent, with French and Spanish territory to the south and south-west; Louisiana essentially barred the route westward; Spanish Mexico barred the route to the south. Yet, within fifty years of the founding of the Republic, these barriers had vanished.

West of the Missouri, however, despite Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition, was more or less terra incognita, and even within the United States, tension was growing between the slave-holding States and the Free, so much so that by the 1860s, the Republic was tearing itself apart in one of the bloodiest of civil wars. Until the end of World War II there was hardly a decade when Bruce Springsteen’s lines about having ‘no work, because of the economy’ were not true; forty-odd years of exceptional prosperity in a material sense may have inculcated the belief that somehow the Republic’s people would always live on easy street – but that, whilst being part of the American hope, was never necessarily something most people actually achieved; you only have to look at the history of the Irish and Italian immigrants to see how it was for many first generation ‘Americans'; and of the suffering of the slaves, well, that is indeed a scar on the conscience.

But, despite of these things, America got on with it. Shady politicians? Crooked businessmen and bankers with their hold over the politicians? Politicians who were in it for themselves? Pork-barrelling? Faction fighting? Bitter insults hurled by political opponents at each other?  These are not new, these are American history; and you know what? America is bigger than them all. Sure, there are worrying developments – that FDR and his attempts to use SCOTUS to put in place that socialistic ‘New Deal’, with that Communist Wallace and Harry Hopkins, that really worries me! What’s that, that happened in the 1930s? Oh well, I mean Obama and Pelosi – except they don’t have an ounce of the talent and drive of FDR and his ‘Brains Trust’. The Great Republic remains standing. Does that mean that the fears of FDR’s opponents were wrong? Or does it mean that their vigilance stopped the worst happening? Or does it mean that the realities of America proved too great even for FDR’s ambitions? I confess I don’t know.

But what I do know is that at his first election Obama spotted something important – he knew that the American people are optimists, ‘can do’ people; after all, how many of their ancestors would have been there had they not been so?  So when he ran on a rhetoric of ‘hope’ he struck an authentic chord in the American people. It was one his opponents did not catch and still show insufficient sign of catching. It is all very well to call Obama out for being pretty useless, and to prophesy that the skies will darken and the waters rise and doom will fall upon the land; but is it a political programme to put before a People founded on the optimistic dreams of a bunch of guys who, if they’d calculated, would have paid the tax on tea and gotten on with feathering their nests?

I am an outsider who loves America. But I can’t help thinking that unless President Obama’s opponents get away from negativity (after all, if people feel, as they do, negative about him, they don’t need to be told to feel it) and offer a vision of the America its people recognise as optimistic, then for all her many faults, it will be Hillary in ’16. At which point, even my capacity to be Sunny will vanish :)

Jobs Alone Aren’t The Answer

English: Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of th...

English: Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of the United States (1923-1929) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is, as always from Amity Shlaes, excellent. It has often seemed to me that our politicians think the electorate is very stupid, not to mention having no memory at all.

While this seems more obvious on Democratic side of the aisle, it’s pretty bipartisan, as watch Congress continually indulge in get-rich quick schemes for Congresscritters and their sycophants, especially in the lobbying industry. Truly I have come to believe we have the best Congress money can buy. Somehow, I don’t think that is quite what Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and the rest had in mind. Who comes to my mind is a chap named Nero, a famous violinist who thought he was more than that.

From Amity

But 18-year-olds are wiser than their elders realize. Jobs alone won’t suffice to keep them. Young people seek something else: prospects. The distinction feels trivial, but there’s a difference between jobs and prospects. That difference is one of time. “Prospects” means long term, and long term is how many youths think.

This became clear in a contest recently conducted by the Vermont-based Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, where I work. The foundation asked high school students to answer a simple question regarding the Green Mountain State: Should I stay, or should I go?

That’s indeed the question we have all faced isn’t it. The perennial American question, ever since the Pilgrims landed. Is the grass greener someplace else, or is this rockpile as good a farm as there is. usually itching feet have prevailed, and we have indeed, “Go west, young man, go west.” and what we have usually found is the chance to build something to be proud of, whether it was a farm, a business, a church, or indeed a nation, which has become second to none.

Still, the kids were just breaking bad news gently. And that bad news was that they were indeed departing. One semifinalist established the imperative of migration: “In times such as these, the world needs people to step up and keep it from collapsing in upon itself. … While I do not think every Vermonter should leave the state, I think those of able mind and body should.”

The winner put her conclusion more bluntly: “I need to get out of Vermont to see different places around the world and to meet different people. I need to experience those things in life that Vermont simply cannot offer.” Another pupil wrote in rap-style slang: “Not necessarily the state for success. … So competition is weak/ People need to travel so they can raise to their own peak/Vermont’s getting older.”

Now mind you, I’m very traditional but you know, if I was growing up in Vermont, and it’s as lovely as everyone says, I’d leave as well. Why? I like to eat, and I believe in earning my own way. The view out the window is important but not as important as that.

The economist Milton Friedman, who once had a house in Vermont, labeled a phenomenon he observed as the “Permanent Income Hypothesis.” People, Friedman posited, were not rabbits. They would spend not according to what cash they had on hand but according to their estimate of what money they’d have in their lifetime. The PIH holds for decisions beyond saving. You choose a home not just because it pleases you this year but because it might prove a good investment over a lifetime.

The essays of the perspicacious Vermont teens suggest that states around the nation may want to alter their pitches. Jobs matter, but less than education. Regulation matters. Tax rates matter, even top rates—again, because of prospects. The ambitious consider what rate they’ll pay tomorrow, not the rate that applies to them as they start out.

Well, of course they do, we all do. And that is why what Washington does increasingly is so pernicious. When you kill people’s dreams, which is what our welfare system has done systematically in our cities for fifty years now, we train whole generations to believe they are worthless, that the best they can hope for is to be paid for existing, so sit down and shut up.

But it’s even more than that, isn’t it. I’m a highly skilled tradesman, living in one of the better states for business, and yet, as I’ve written before, because the state itself has a habit of ignoring its laws, to take care of its guild members, I’m unlikely to work again. When a guy like me becomes convinced that my best chance to retire is to win Powerball, you are doing something wrong.

Jobs Alone Aren’t The Answer – Forbes.


This is more an aside than anything else but, am I the only one who thinks the national Democrats increasingly look old and tired, yesterday’s news. I mean jeez, guys, I’m in my early sixties myself, and when you look old and shopworn to me, what must you look like to the 30 year olds that you built your party on. It’s the people, to an extent, we’ve been talking about the Clinton’s for what seems like forever, is it really only twenty years? Then again, do you have anything else that you bought in 1990?

Nor does it help that they are still pushing the same programs that have failed everywhere they’ve been tried, usually catastrophically and they haven’t changed a jot or tittle since Wilson was president. I is a further handicap to at least some of us that not a single one of the member of the nomenklatura has ever held a real job even (mostly, anyhow) ever served in the military.

Time to consign them to the dustheap of history and move on.

Netanyahu Speech Before Congress On Iran: Fist Pumps From The Midwest

iStock 20492165 MD - American and Israeli flagsMy, and many of yours, as well, old friend, Cultural Limits wrote today in the DC Gazette a Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the US Congress. Her article is linked here, and I recommend that you read it. But one paragraph really struck home with me:

For Americans starved for forceful leadership without excuses, Mr. Netanyahu’s address was a breath of fresh air.  It is very obvious that this man loves this country and respects the system it represents even if he is the leader of a different nation.  His presence was without apology  – and without constant references to his own achievements real or imagined.

Netanyahu Speech Before Congress On Iran: Fist Pumps From The Midwest ⋆ Dc Gazette.

I doubt that I need to say that I couldn’t agree any more with her. This afternoon Daniel Hannan. MEP Tweeted this, which you can see I retweeted.

It is rather refreshing to see a man address Congress who has, and likely will again put his life on the line to do “the harder right instead of the easier wrong”, isn’t it?

Here’s Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel to the United States Congress yesterday.

And just a quick note, Netanyahu thanked Congress for our help with the Iron Dome system that saved so many Israelis last summer. If you didn’t know the Israeli Iron Dome system is a spin-off of the much maligned Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI-Star Wars) that so many ridiculed President Reagan about.

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