Kaepernick Abuses History and a Black Man

You may have noticed that last week, while we were celebrating American Independence. Colin Kaepernick was flying his anti-American flag and attempting to pervert Frederic Douglass to his cause with this Tweet.

In his desire to blame America for his incompetence to play football, that’s fairly normal, but in any case, Senator Ted Cruz provided an excellent education.

 

 

Senator Cruz is, of course, correct. Mr. Douglass’s speech is a powerful indictment of slavery, not the United States. Its context was that he saw that America could and would improve. Indeed starting within ten years of that speech given by a Republican, 600,000 mostly white Americans would die to end slavery in the United States.

In short, what Kaepernick did was pull a quote to completely twist what a great American said. It’s a cheap trick but what else would you expect from a failure like him.

Here’s the speech: What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?

By the way, you’ll notice that my link to Douglass’s speech is different from Senator Cruz’s. This is a famous speech. Anybody with any sense at all wouldn’t attempt to blatantly twist it. But we are talking about Colin Kaepernick here.

Tribes of American Conservatives

So, yesterday we took a quick look at making sense of American conservatism. If you haven’t read it, you probably should, but today’s will stand on its own, as well. Again we are basing on Matthew Continetti’s Making Sense of the New American Right. Today we’ll take a quick look at some of the types of American conservatism, which is far from unitary. That is both a strength and a weakness, I think. It gives us many strains in house, as well as some pretty loud debates, but it also can fragment us when we differ on issues. So let’s start:

The Jacksonians

Some conservatives—myself included—see Donald Trump through the lens of Jacksonian politics. They look to Walter Russell Mead’s landmark essay in the Winter 1999 / 2000 National Interest, “The Jacksonian Tradition in American Foreign Policy,” as not only a description of the swing vote that brought us Trump, but also as a possible guide to incorporating populism and conservatism.

The Jacksonians, Mead said, are individualist, suspicious of federal power, distrustful of foreign entanglement, opposed to taxation but supportive of government spending on the middle class, devoted to the Second Amendment, desire recognition, valorize military service, and believe in the hero who shapes his own destiny. Jacksonians are anti-monopolistic. They oppose special privileges and offices. “There are no necessary evils in government,” Jackson wrote in his veto message in 1832. “Its evils exist only in its abuses.”

This is a deep strain in American culture and politics. Jacksonians are neither partisans nor ideologues. The sentiments they express are older than postwar conservatism and in some ways more intrinsically American. (They do not look toward Burke or Hayek or Strauss, for example.) The Jacksonians have been behind populist rebellions since the Founding. They are part of a tradition, for good and ill, that runs through William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long, Joseph McCarthy, George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, Jim Webb, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and Donald Trump. The Jacksonians believe in what their forebears called “The Democracy.” They are the people who remind us that America is not ruled from above but driven from below. Irving Kristol captured some of Jacksonianism’s contradictions when he described the movement as “an upsurge of revolt against the moneyed interests, an upsurge led by real estate speculators, investors, and mercantile adventurers, which spoke as the voice of the People while never getting much more than half the vote, and which gave a sharp momentum to the development of capitalism, urbanism, and industrialism while celebrating the glories of the backwoodsman.”

This, in essence, is what I am as well, although, at least in my case, I think Mathew underestimates the role of some of the classic writers. I find Burke important, but not paramount. In fact, I think Locke is at least equal in importance, not least because of his influence on Jefferson. Jefferson was also influenced (perhaps more than he knew) by some combination of Cranmer and Luther. A deal of their thinking runs through his writing especially the Declaration.

As Mathew says, this is a very deep strain in American conservatism, quite possibly the basis of the others, going back all the way to before the Revolution. Jackson epitomized it, but it could likely be the strain of Americanism that caused the Revolution itself. The linked article says the Jacksonian in the Senate is Tom Cotton. I daresay he’ correct on that.

The Reformocons

Reform conservatism began toward the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, with the publication of Yuval Levin’s “Putting Parents First” in The Weekly Standard in 2006 and of Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam’s Grand New Party in 2008. In 2009, Levin founded National Affairs, a quarterly devoted to serious examinations of public policy and political philosophy. Its aim is to nudge the Republican Party to adapt to changing social and economic conditions.

In 2014, working with the YG Network and with National Reviewsenior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, Levin edited “Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class.” The report was the occasion for a lot of publicity, including a Sam Tanenhaus article in the New York Times Magazine asking, “Can the GOP Be a Party of Ideas?

Much as I try, I can’t quite see the world through these guys eyes. I recognize a lot of what they are trying to do as good, especially their outreach to the uneducated/ uncredentialled of our society who often get shunted out of view. I’ve lived my life amongst them, and they’re at least as wise as any other group. But to me, these guys are a bit too willing to have the government (especially the federal government) do things that would be better done by a local association or at most local government. But they have a lot of ideas, and many are good.

The Paleos

Where the paleoconservatives distinguish themselves from the other camps is foreign policy. The paleos are noninterventionists who, all things being equal, would prefer that America radically reduce her overseas commitments. Though it’s probably not how he’d describe himself, the foremost paleo is Tucker Carlson, who offers a mix of traditional social values, suspicion of globalization, and noninterventionism every weekday on cable television.

Carlson touched off an important debate with his January 3 opening monologue on markets. “Culture and economics are inseparably intertwined,” Carlson said. “Certain economic systems allow families to thrive. Thriving families make market economies possible. You can’t separate the two.”

I like these guys quite a bit. When you read me rant about short-termism in American business (a regular occurrence), I’m often drawing on paleo sources (and experience). But their noninterventionism comes perilously near to isolationism, and their horror of tariffs is misplaced. America is above all a trading nation, and that carries with it almost automatically the Mahanian necessity to control the seas. That can, of course, spill over into ill-advised adventures, so it is a balancing act. Matthew picked Mike Lee as the Senator who most represents the Paleo view, I have no disagreement with that.

And finally,

The Post-liberals

Here is a group that I did not see coming. The Trump era has coincided with the formation of a coterie of writers who say that liberal modernity has become (or perhaps always was) inimical to human flourishing. One way to tell if you are reading a post-liberal is to see what they say about John Locke. If Locke is treated as an important and positive influence on the American founding, then you are dealing with just another American conservative. If Locke is identified as the font of the trans movement and same-sex marriage, then you may have encountered a post-liberal.

The post-liberals say that freedom has become a destructive end-in-itself. Economic freedom has brought about a global system of trade and finance that has outsourced jobs, shifted resources to the metropolitan coasts, and obscured its self-seeking under the veneer of social justice. Personal freedom has ended up in the mainstreaming of pornography, alcohol, drug, and gambling addiction, abortion, single-parent families, and the repression of orthodox religious practice and conscience. “When an ideological liberalism seeks to dictate our foreign policy and dominate our religious and charitable institutions, tyranny is the result, at home and abroad,” wrote the signatories to “Against the Dead Consensus,” a post-liberal manifesto of sorts published in First Things in March.

This is the Josh Hawley group, and if you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you’ll know I’m sympathetic. The author notes that this group seems to be dominated by traditionalist Catholics, and there are truly a lot of them here.

And in a little noticed commencement address to King’s College, he inveighed against the fact that

For decades now our politics and culture have been dominated by a particular philosophy of freedom. It is a philosophy of liberation from family and tradition; of escape from God and community; a philosophy of self-creation and unrestricted, unfettered free choice.

This “Pelagian vision”—Pelagius was a monk condemned by the Church fathers as a heretic—”celebrates the individual,” Hawley went on. But “it leads to hierarchy. Though it preaches merit, it produces elitism. Though it proclaims liberty, it destroys the life that makes liberty possible. Replacing it and repairing the profound harm it has caused is one of the great challenges of our day.”

The post-liberals say that the distinction between state and society is illusory.

There is truth in all that, quite a lot of it, in fact. I hear this more, I think, in British conservatives, who are much less likely to recognize a gap between church and state. And, in truth, it is much narrower there. This is where the “Liberty is not libertinism” argument comes from, and it is a valid observation.

That’s close to a triple post today, and that’s enough. I will try to see if I can come up with some valid real-world thinking about how we work together and against each other. That may well take more than overnight, so we’ll see if I can get it done. Do read the linked article, long as this is, I skipped a lot as well.

Making Sense of American Conservatism

And so, time to start trying to make sense of the world again, I guess, Matthew Continetti has a long piece up at The Washington Free Beacon called Making Sense of the New American Right. It’s a valiant effort at a nearly impossible subject. Let’s look.

The story goes that, for many years, American conservatives adhered to a consensus known as “fusionism.” Economic and social conservatives put aside their differences. Freedom, they decided, was necessary for the exercise of virtue. The struggle against and ultimate defeat of the Soviet Union was more important than domestic politics or intramural disagreements. Conservative intellectuals eager to privilege either freedom or virtue like to attack this consensus, which they often describe as “zombie Reaganism.” The truth is that the strength of fusionism always has been exaggerated. The conservative intellectual movement has been and continues to be fractious, contentious, combustible, and less of a force than most assume.

Episodes of division and strife are far more common than moments of unity and peace. The more you study the history of American conservatism, the less willing you are to describe it in monolithic terms. There isn’t one American right, there are multitudes, every one of them competing for the attention of politicians and policymakers. The most prominent and politically salient varieties, as expressed in William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review, Irving Kristol’s Public Interest, Norman Podhoretz’s Commentary, and William Kristol’s Weekly Standard, have weakened or disappeared altogether. One of the reasons the intra-conservative argument has become so personal and acrimonious is that nothing has replaced them.

Indeed, the situation today is awfully similar to that which confronted conservatives in the 1970s. Then, the Buckley consensus had to find a modus vivendi with neoconservatives as well as with the Catholic integralists around Triumph magazine, against the background of a populist revolt that called out failing elites while relying on racial and ethnic appeals that sometimes crossed the border of decency.

Indeed, that consensus is what many of us to today deride as ‘cocktail party conservatism’. It is one of the things that Donald Trump blew up on his way to the White House, with the willing help of many of us. We also tend to believe these are the people who gave us never-ending wars, mostly to enrich their friends, while denigrating our troops.

The rise of Donald Trump, Brexit, and nation-state populism throughout the world certainly suggest that something has changed in global politics. American conservatism ought to investigate, recognize, and assimilate the empirical reality before it. The trouble is that no one has concluded definitively what that reality is.

Not for lack of trying. Beginning in 2016, intellectuals who favored Trump have been searching for a new touchstone for conservative thought and politics. These writers are often described as populists, but that label is hard to define. Broadly speaking, they have adopted the banner of nationalism. They believe the nation-state is the core unit of geopolitics and that national sovereignty and independence are more important than global flows of capital, labor, and commodities. They are all, in different ways, reacting to perceived failures, whether of Buckley conservatism, George W. Bush’s presidency, or the inability of the conservative movement to stop same-sex marriage and the growth of the administrative state. And they have turned away from libertarian arguments and economistic thinking. Not everything, these thinkers believe, can be reduced to gross domestic product.

And that is an important concept. Too many, whom some call the ‘Chamber of Commerce’ Republicans do believe it is all about the GDP. And what is even worse, they tend to believe the best GDP is taken from the quarterly balance sheet. This very short term thinking has led to the deindustrialization of the US (and Britain and some other nations). There is nothing wrong in profit-seeking, but there is in putting short term profit ahead of the firms long term best interest. And that is what I see all too often.

That is rather the foundation of what we are going to be talking about, there is a lot out there, both in the linked article and some others. So much that there is at least one but probably two (maybe more) articles in it to talk about, since I write articles and not books here. So let’s discuss this much and we’ll continue, hopefully, tomorrow, if the creek doesn’t rise too much.

Sunday Funnies, Carrying On

I said yesterday that not all that much happened this week, which is true. That, however, is not to say that a lot was said, a lot of it, especially on the left, that is very snark-worthy, not to say stupid. So here we go.

Promises, Promises!

Not the worst proposal I’ve seen.

I’m already missing Doris Day

 

 

 

The Gloves Come Off

David Marcus wrote in The Federalist that the battle over abortion in the United States is becoming total war. He’s correct. from his article.

Since the day that Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, abortion has been a hot button political topic in the United States. But while it is an emotional issue that has always had inflamed rhetoric surrounding it, over the past 46 years, the abortion question has existed in a kind of stalemate or détente. Very little, including the polling numbers on how many people are pro-choice or pro-life, has changed.

On the right, given the composition of the Supreme Court during that time, and the unlikelihood of Roe being overturned, it has been mostly a fight around the edges of the issue. Pro-lifers have sought to cap abortions at early periods in pregnancy, or advocated for parental notification, but there was no clear path to actually making all abortions illegal.

On the left, secure as they also once were in Roe, the attitude for most of that time had been that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. Abortion was not something to be celebrated, but rather a sad and dire thing only to be used in extreme and necessary circumstances.

Today, none of this is true anymore. Pro-lifers for the first time feel that it is possible that the Supreme Court could overturn Roeand allow states to ban abortion, and for abortion advocates, it has been become something to celebrate, to shout, and to be considered an unfettered good.

As a result of these changes, we have seen bills from both sides in state legislatures that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. In New York and Virginia, state lawmakers passed bills that would allow for abortion up to birth, and arguably, make allowances for finishing the job if a botched abortion produces a live baby.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, a new law would effectively ban abortion after as little as six weeks and, in Alabama, legislation was passed this week that would basically ban abortion entirely. The détente which has held for 50 years is gone and the fight over abortion has become a total war. What has always been a testy battle in American politics is poised to become very ugly, very fast.

Indeed, the gloves are off. It is now a bare-knuckle brawl. And that is as it should be, the gentlemanly sparring we have been doing for nigh unto 50 years was never going to solve anything. In the meantime, we have murdered some 60 million babies in the United States. An order of magnitude more than Hitler killed. Why? For our convenience.

By the way, I notice too, that the debate is getting harsher in Britain as well, for all the same reasons. It is ironic, that they kill a goodly part of the next generation pretty much indiscriminately, while at the same time importing a new working (or not working) class from abroad.

The Alabama bill is designed to challenge Roe v Wade in the courts. As such, I suspect it will be overturned at the district level and that confirmed at the circuit court and the SCOTUS will decline to get involved, and so will lose. But I’ve been wrong before, and Roe is universally considered bad law so we will see.

But it is also a sign that the Federal government needs to abdicate the field, the states are moving both ways at once, so what the court fight will really be about is some imagined right of privacy against the 10th Amendment.

Nor will the current bills be the last, there are more pending in the states. For much of the US, the time when infanticide for the mother’s convenience is legal is coming to an end. Very late, but very late is better than never.

Sunday Funnies: Green Nude Eel Edition

Well, another week where Occasional Cortex proves the point. There really is no intelligent life in there. And so on we go, like a runaway bumper car.

From Italy comes The God Emperor Trump, including the Twitter sword

Might just be the best thing the Italians have given us since this

click to embiggen

Jungle Love

And, of course

Mostly, but not all, from PowerLine, as usual

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