Marini on Trump, Greatness, and America

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There is a specter afoot. It’s haunting America, but it’s not Donald Trump.  No, it’s the administrative state, propped up by its oligarchic faction.

Recently, John Marini and the Claremont Institute, published what we think is the best commentary to date on the “American crisis.”  Part of the problem in America that Trump has tapped into is the Progressive attempt to bypass political opinion, or public opinion:

Once elected or appointed, politicians and bureaucrats have utilized their will, in both domestic and foreign policy, in an unrestrained manner on behalf of bureaucratic rule.

Trump had the ability to address the concern surrounding the shortcut of the public will.  Our elected officials have transferred to the administrative state and agencies the responsibility for interpreting, and in some ways, actually writing law.  Therefore, Congress used the Progressive understanding of expertise that staffed the modern administrative state and employed it as political cover so that they would note have to make any tough political decisions.  It’s a win-win!

If Aristotle is right about man being political by nature, then this was bound to fail.  People are naturally political and they have a sense they should determine the direction of the government, even if it is based on policy decisions set up by the “experts.”  This natural fact of life is why it is not only the Republicans who are experiencing consternation, but the Democrats too.  They are equally capable of implosion this cycle for they are the owners of the attempt to transcend human nature through their progressive attempts to conquer it.  As Harry Neumann always reminded us, you may show Nature the front door, but eventually it will come roaring through the back.

As Marini notes, there are so many expert organizations and groups, that we have no idea what is and is not legal any more.  We also wonder to ourselves just who consented to this web of rules and regulations.  Certainly the average citizen does not believe he or she did.  No, there is something troubling about the Administrative State that seeks to strike down, or subjugate, the individual, and subtley strip from him his citizenship.

Coupled with this is the politics of identity.  Now everything is about this or that group.  The Republicans are not immune from this temptation of modern politics.  At the DNC, there were speakers who were actually speaking for many personal afflictions they suffered through.  Almost everyone on the first day had a “problem” that defined them.  However, they were both at once, afflicted, and better for overcoming their malady.  Marini notes something more:

When progressive intellectuals lost confidence in the idea of progress and Enlightenment reason, they abandoned the hope of a future good and began to revise the meaning of the past. When Nietzsche analyzed the malady posed by historicism’s abandonment of its rationality, he came to realize that “the excess of history has attacked the plastic powers of life; it no longer understands how to avail itself of the past as hearty nourishment.” The politics of our time is dependent upon how we avail ourselves of the past—whether as “hearty nourishment” or as a life-threatening poison.

Post-modern intellectuals have pronounced their historical judgment on America’s past, finding it to be morally indefensible. Every great human achievement of the past—whether in philosophy, religion, literature, or the humanities—came to be understood as a kind of exploitation of the powerless.

We have made the argument here that Trump represent a return, and that return is real progress.  But as Marini notes, the idea of progressivism has been to obliterate knowledge.  Of course this leads to dire and deadly consequences, but it also leads to the death of reason, or the belief in its capabilities.

Make America Great Again is but a slight tip of the hat at this reality.  Trump wants to restore the Republic of Reason, tempered by the restoration of our Faith, even though he is not so outwardly faithful.

When Marini states that Trump is making an appeal to the common good, this is how he is trying to transcend the cesspool of progressivism.  He’s the only Republican candidate to make that attempt since Reagan, and before him, it was Coolidge.

It is a real gamble Trump is playing, and he may be unsuccessful for we do not know how to reason anymore.  Therefore, Trump is giving it to us in modern speak.  He does not sound sophisticated, and many of those who loathe Trump are aghast, so aghast they they have rarely said a word about Hillary who is, in reality, a personally violent warmonger with blood on her hands and who employs DNC speakers who support Sharia.  But as Marini notes, intellectuals left and right are dependent on the system as it now works because they get their bread buttered from the present arrangement.

Even those who are in the minority are happily so, because, well, they got something out of it and who knows what lies beyond.  They suspect it won’t be much for them.

Marini correctly notes that Trump is going over the head of the established whatever (media, politics, bureaucracy, etc) to take his case to the people.  This is a first.  As Samuel Kernell noted in the 1980s in his book Going Public, doing that only works so many times, usually two, Reagan did it three times to some success.  Trump needs to swing for the fences to get it right, and he is doing it right despite the hysterical hair being lit on fire by ALL of the press, including Fox.  The positive thing for Trump is there more of the many than the elites, and the elites look rather unintellectual these days.  Their days of persuasion are over.

This does not mean that Trump is assured a win, nor does it assure the movement will succeed. Hillary understands this and is trying to kill the entire idea of Greatness.

If Trump IS successful, then it might be possible to put the country on the long road to rediscovering the “fathers” and “natural right” as Marini notes.  Trump is not talking about these matters outright, because as Marini notes, the ability to talk about unchanging things is difficult.  Our entire education system is shot through with nihilists.  Donald Trump Jr. noted this when he said that public schools, backed by an public union and elite, are failing to really educate our children.

Trump represents a return to the Constitution because he is trying to make a Constitutional majority–one that can really govern.  We may disagree with the manner he is making that attempt, but it is the most Manly and brave attempt in the last 40 years.

The Straussian Internecine War

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Larry Arnhardt posted his latest claim that Trump is exactly like Hitler, and was so aghast at the Claremont Review of Books, that he also called out Charles Kesler for saying things that were just too kind about Trump, in his opinion.

Arnhart then had to suffer numerous amounts of ridicule from the common sense crowd who pretty much said he was a slave to his ideology to make such a comparison just like…the Nazis.  We found some jocularity in that.

Arnhart also invented conclusions of an article by Hedley Wright at VDARE by saying that author is contending for an ethic racial nation.  He then stated that the Trump is a racist because he would stop temporarily the immigration of certain peoples. If we did not know better we’d say that Arnhart is one of the #RepublicansforHillary.  Arnhart is so wrong on the manner of America, it behooves us to point out the obvious:

US Constitution art. 1, section 8 Congress has the power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the forgoing powers.”

And then there’s this:  The US Code 8 USC §1182: “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

Arnhardt purports to speak for West Coast Straussians about what West Coast means, and then generally, about what Leo Strauss would have done, and who he would have supported.  More Soothsaying afoot here, but again, no sooth.

It is preposterous to think one can KNOW what a deceased person for over 40 years would have chosen politically.

If there is one thing scrambled in the Trump phenomenon, it is the fact that he has in a way, unmasked certain conservative for really being a sort of leftist elitist.  We are sad to see this in several respects.  Hysteria breeds contempt from those who still know what it means when one employs the word “self-evident.”  And no the word does not mean “obvious.”  But it is obvious that in terms of Trump, to suggest he is “just like” X is to devalue the intellect (in irresponsible ways) that we have respected for years.

Update:  I should have linked this post, as the primary posting on the Trump is Hitler claims.

American Greatness is Back

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With the demise of the Journal of American Greatness, we have its resurrection in the American Greatness blog.  We regret on a certain level it is not an anonymous blog, for there is a value to posts not connected to specific people.  It forces us to deal with the argument made in print.

However, that there are actual authors linked to the articles in a public, and manly manor, we are appreciative of the display and the thoughtfulness of the effort.

Every citizen of these states should read the “Declaration of Independence from the Conservative Movement.”  Of many thoughtful lines is one like this one:

Today, movement conservatism offers the American people not a choice, but an echo of the Left. Because of this, American Greatness is not an alternative to movement conservatism; it is a refounding of a distinctly American conservatism based upon the self-evident principle of human equality and the rights that flow from it. Just government exists to protect and promote these rights and is therefore necessarily limited, constitutional, and republican in its form.

The notion of “conservatism” (a useless word if there ever was one) has decayed in the pursuit of factional politics:

We hold that America—much like movement conservatism—has lost her way. The nation has succumbed to  division and faction, infected by the insidious and  foreign virus of identity politics which has robbed Americans of our true identity as one people. We’re undermined further by an ever-growing centralized administrative state, which robs us daily of the opportunity to participate in governing our own lives as free and equal citizens under the rule of law.

Government has grown remote, unresponsive, and increasingly unaccountable. While many movement conservatives acknowledge these problems, they have failed to persuade a majority of American voters. What’s more, movement conservatives remain stubbornly unpersuaded by voters’ plain rejection of their solutions.  To their credit, the American people have, through common sense and hard experience, rejected the lie that their opinions about their interests and the laws that govern their lives are irrelevant. Likewise, most rank and file conservatives are unimpressed by the half-measures offered by a conservative movement that is more about conserving itself than conserving the people’s sovereignty.

The authors at AG tackle the messy problem with the word conservative, and ask the appropriate question of what it is we are trying to conserve.  The authors list trade, and immigration of course, as well as the deeper currents noted through Harry V. Jaffa as the Conditions of Freedom.

While we might quibble a bit wit the notion of assimilation as stated in the AG blog, it’s concern for the fate of the Republic is indeed something that should be considered–in its effectiveness, just who is not assimilated, etc.  The conditions of freedom demand an assimilation but on principles that perpetuate the Republic’s longevity.  Among those are the notion of enlightened consent.

We applaud the Greatness blog.  Welcome Back!

 

 

Our Ongoing Corruption: Unpatriotic Conservatives Redux

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The magical exoneration of Hillary Clinton by the FBI Director is just one more in a long line of fixes in a rigged game.  And make no mistake, this was a fixed game in Clinton’s favor.  What is astonishing is that the rigging was so open.  Clinton verifiably lied several times about the use of the email, then lied about others using email, then lied about classified emails, then lied about the nature of the investigation.  Obama said she would not be charged in an interview.  Then, Bill Clinton boarded the AG’s plane, and then Comey came out and cleared her name.  However, one revealing comment deserves note:

To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.

So, to be clear, others will be charged for doing similar things, but not Hillary Clinton.  That’s corruption; that’s a fixed game in favor of the strong and powerful.  Let’s be also clear, Clinton was fired as counsel during Watergate because she lied, but not the least was her arguments to deny others their Constitutional rights.  Ironical isn’t it?

To Clinton’s credit, she understands Machiavelli better than the Republicans who want to lose cheerfully.  And the last few days have moved at break-neck speed:  “for injuries done all together, so that, being tasted less, they offend less…” [p. 38].  Clinton understands one thing, to end the drip, it needed to happen now despite the appearance of something akin to the Black Sox Scandal.

Let’s keep in mind that while Comey did criticize Clinton, he never actually looked for the real scandal:  Clinton used the Foundation to fleece the public, take money from foreign governments, all at taxpayer expense, in order to secure her own political fortunes, and the monetary fortunes of her family.  Much of this money came from third world states, and states with connections to terror.

Even Chris Cilizza’s response is tepid, though he thinks it is bad for Clinton.  But in all of that, he means her campaign not the Republic.  This is a sad day when we are more concerned with her campaign than, say, the health and stability of the United States.

These are extremely perilous times.  We just celebrated our Independence, and the news was littered with what passes for smart journalism deriding this nation.  One, in the LA Times, called the flag a “rag.”  How nice, and how revealing.

It may not seem like the two events go together, but they do.  A Republic, once the affections for it become weakened, lead to the distant end of a Republic.  In this way, the #NeverTrump crowd are no better than the left.  In fact, they are the useful idiots of the left.  These are your new “Unpatriotic Conservatives” who essentially side with the left in order to effect a personal distaste for Trump, as if Hillary is better.  But they spill more negative ink on Trump, and essentially ignore the crook in the race: Hillary.  To think what they might accomplish if they kept their eye on the ball?

But the demise of the rule of law, and the support of those who would thwart the rule of law, go hand in hand.  The tolerance for those who would, end the regime and hence, the rights of others, is nothing that we should stand for as a people.  What Comey did today was hand the Clintons, and the Republic, a defeat, and it’s a defeat that could, we hope, play into the hands of Trump, who will be center stage tonight in my former hometown, Raleigh, NC.

Trump is justifiably on the offense here.  What we need now is a defense Greatness that is based on the Laws of Nature, the rights of ALL, and the rule of law, absent a mobile aristocratic elite.

George Will’s Imprudence—The Right’s Arsonist Leaves the Party

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[Ed. note:  What follows is mostly from an exachange on FB this last weekend]

We caused a bit of a kerfuffle, which caused typical responses by claiming that George Will’s recent announcement he is leaving the Republican Party was not only imprudent, but an act of cowardice on a certain level.  For that, we were called “foolish”.  In the spirit of friendship, perhaps we are foolish to call Will a coward, but we do have an argument, and in the spirit of friendship we will engage in hopes to gain something–knowledge–from the exchange.

However, we are despondent about such an exchange, even as we make the effort.

Why is it that the #NeverTrump folks always seem to go for the ad hominem and personal insult almost immediately?  We like spirited debate, and we hope that our adversaries do as well.  But we are reminded, despite the cautions of our friends that these people “can be persuaded,” we are increasingly coming to the sad conclusion that they cannot.  There’s only so much personal ridicule one can be patient enough to take from know-it-alls who are #NeverRightAboutTrump.

Will went on to say on Fox News Sunday that he left the Republican Party for the same reason he joined:  he’s a conservative.  Then he invoked Reagan for saying that he did not leave the Democrat Party the party left him.  With all due respect to Will, Reagan left the party and joined another.  Will has joined nothing, and it dedicated to the negative option of denying Trump the nomination.  He may, he says, vote for the Libertarian–you know the same party that thinks that WW2 may have been an immoral war to fight, and was not necessary to fight.

Good Grief.

George Will has had a nice run for himself.  It’s time for him to go, and we are happy to see him retreat from the public square, take his marbles, and go home.  He never was a “conservative” and he always clamored for approval from the left and when he could not, enjoyed the role of crazy uncle.  Will has always been a political coward of sorts, and now this insight we had decades ago, combined with his intemperate imprudence, leave us with no choice but to recall Will once wrote this in Statecraft and Soulcraft:

My aim is to recast conservatism in a form compatible with the broad popular imperatives of the day, but also to change somewhat the agenda and even the vocabulary of contemporary politics. To those who are liberals and to those who call themselves conservatives, I say Politics is more difficult than you think.

At the time, he called his “fellow conservatives” as in those he joined because he was a conservative, “soidisant.” In other words, countless other in the party he joined were only “so called” conservatives.  Only he was the one who knew what the word meant apparently.

In his aforementioned book, Will articulates an argument whereby the government bureaucracy is vitally important in enforcing morality as he defines it.  Indeed, Will has no problem with the mechanisms of state being given to a faceless and impersonal centralized power.  This is all the more perplexing as he was also against the EU and for Brexit, but it exposes a lot of Will’s confusion.  He had no idea about what America was nor is, and he consistently had no problem with a modern interpretation of America as a low born ideal that needed fixing by a government through laws to make us more “moral.”  Will was not a conservative unless by conservative you mean unlimited government.  Will own some responsibility for the growth of a faceless government in which budgets exploded and regulations increased.

Some “conservative” he.  He’s always been given to snobbery of the kind that he knows more than we do, and will explain to us how it really is.  Will has always been an arrogant and the Republicans/Conservatives have supported him because he’s had a way to stick to the left in ways that anger them.  Except, Will is no conservative, and really never has been despite his claims he is one.  He has never been a person who believed in the Declaration of Independence and for that, he is really a modernist at heart who has made peace with the expansive welfare state.

As will stated:

The most interesting argument in American governance today is not between Republicans and Democrats, it is between conservatives—using the term inclusively here—who believe that we need, as conservatives have been saying for years, a deferential judiciary, passive and deferential to the majoritarian branches of government; and, on the other hand, those like Clark Neily, who wrote the wonderful book Terms of Engagement…Damon Root, me, others—Randy Barnett—who argue on the contrary that what we need is an engaged judiciary asserting the fact that the essence of America is not majority rule, it is liberty.

Does George Will know that the ONLY person on the court who believes that is Clarence Thomas?  If he did, why did he support Rehnquist or Scalia?  Both of those justices, while talented, believed in majority rule absent the Law of Nature, as Harry Jaffa so eloquently pointed out.  And by the way, just who is arguing for mere majority rule in the Republican party now?  Trump?  Nope.  I have no idea what assorted hallucinations Will is engaged in, but he makes no sense, and has changed his position on the Court from his past pronouncements.  Trump has never said or intimated he was FOR majority rule simply.

As one of our friends noted about Will Every once in awhile they let him feel smug and superior when liberals go too far. And they point to him as the voice of caution and reason.  He loves it. [Will] is content with the way things are. Being a loser has been profitable for him.”  

That about sums up Will, and of course, this is why it resonates with the public when Trump calls him out for the profit he has made off of being such a cheerful loser.  Too be honest, that is also why he is a coward–he’s fine with losing and cashes in on it.  Then he goes for another losing position, and cashes in again.  Will has been arguing on behalf of an America he hardly understands.  It’s a good thing he’s gone and has taken himself out of the debate; he wasn’t good at persuasion anyway.

What follows is an adaptation of those posts on Facebook preserved for us here, with our edits and expansions.  Most of the sections where there is a unclear reference to a person, it is to The Week author, Damon Linker, who got a lot wrong, and avoided much, in his defense of Will.


Be that as it may, someone of the chattering class (Damon Linker) challenges an assertion made by a friend of ours that Will is imprudent, and demonstrates a form of cowardice. We are not sure why he took things so personal, though the snobby Will is a coward in one respect a friend of ours noted–he is really a #RepublicanforHillary. He should have the fortitude to say it. We take all this in the spirit of honest adversarial debate and a temporary passionate exuberance by Linker, and so take no offense at the slight.

We should take a breath and deliberate here.

The short rebuttal for Linker is that I am not “going along” with the “Republican Party.” I could care less about loyalty to it. I am a declarationist anyway and most people already know that. More spirited criticism is needed, for the party has in part caused the problems we face in this great Republic. My specific point, which Linker seems to have missed is, Will is a coward of sorts and imprudent for leaving the party for the reasons he states. I thought that obvious.

As Charles Kesler noted in the latest issue of the CRB, it is imprudent and an act of “sheer desperation” what people like Will have done as a #NeverTrump. He goes on to state that Trump “expose[d] some of the problems latent in the current conservative movement and its agenda.” Will is a part of that problem, and has been. It is a bit of cowardice to be a part of the problem one causes, and then say, “I’m outta here” not even trying to fix what he helped to destroy.

Aristotle in Book 2 of the Ethics certainly would not find Will courageous on this point, for he has no confidence in his remedy. In fact, he has NO REMEDY (1103b+). Aristotle says that an act is courageous by facing fear. There is no fear here that Will is facing except political for problems he has had a hand in causing–it is fearful to flee instead of facing the music in the party one helped injure. So, the short is, he exhibits a sort of political cowardice.

Next, Will is imprudent to boot, and he’s being “unpolitical” in a sense. Socrates called people like this–who go off on their own–Idiots. It is where we get the word from the Greek ιδιωτης. Reagan left the party and joined a new one where he might do some good. Will leaves the party for…what. Nothing.

This brings me back to Kesler’s piece. Better for the #NeverTrump to do some good and stay and fight. But people like Will have not stayed to fight. They have abandoned the cause of “conservatives” (an unhelpful word but that’s for another day). Will saying that he is off on his own as an island it like that Socratic idiot who says, I am apart from you and won’t try to be a part of the polis. I am an island. Simon and Garfunkel wrote an entire song about it. The tonal sentiment is the same–defeat. So good riddance to him. But he should never be taken seriously again. He has not stayed to PERSUADE those he might otherwise PERSUADE should he remain.

So what he is doing is not something to celebrate as he stands on “principle.” He’s not standing on principle. He’s taking his toys out of the sandbox he fouled, and running away.

No what he has done is act in a unworthy way as Aristotle says, because he won’t face it, and instead exhibits a political cowardice and then he compounds it by his imprudent act of choosing…NOTHING. Aristotle again says in Book 6 that prudence is he who has the ability to deliberate (1140a). And the prudent man should “deliberate well” (1141b). All of this is tied to action, and successful action to bring to fruition the good in society (1141b). The prudent person has a certain kind of wisdom, then.

Will has none of that in this latest tantrum of his. He goes home. He cedes the field. Then, as a reactionary, votes perhaps libertarian and hands the election to Hillary. Imprudent.

In a choice between two evils, Jaffa always reminded us, we choose the LESSER. Linker thinks he knows Trump is the worst president ever. That’s some soothsaying, given we already know Hillary has blood on her hands, has a verifiable anger issues, and also used the public as her bank. Trump has not even come close to such immoral acts. He may and will disappoint. But to KNOW he is the WORST as you noted earlier, is a fantasy.

The prudent act would have been to stay and deliberate. Perhaps Will may have learned something about himself, or even come to admire Trump, who also, like Will, supported Brexit for the same reasons. Instead, George Will cuts and runs, and chastises all who voted for Trump.

That’s not the moral virtue of someone who is principled, it is an act of a political coward who arrogantly disdains his fellow citizens.

Trump and Brexit Part 2

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In what can only be called an irresponsible statement with a political motivation, Stephen F. Hayes last night on Fox said that Donald Trump was suffering from a “Tin Ear” and that he was tone deaf in his reponse to the Brexit vote in Turnberry.  He could not understand why he would spend so much time talking about himself, or Obama during the presser.

Hayes is no dummy, so he must have had an agenda.  In the age where almost everything may be verified in minutes, we went to the tape.  Hayes could not have been more wrong in his misleading of the audience last night.

Trump went to Turnberry to support his kids in an event being held there.  It was ONLY when the press asked him about Brexit, and about how Obama wanted to move England to the “back of the bus” and what he thought of Hillary’s comments, did Trump say anything about Brexit.  He was superb in his response, and in his defense of the best ally of the United States.  Watch it for yourself:

the first thing to note, is that Trump gives press conferences.  Hillary?  No candidate has been so open to the press and the public as Trump has.

In the presser, Trump calls out Obama and Clinton for their tired old arrogance that they know better than the average person who does not benefit from a system set up by oligarchical elites.  He also speaks in a nuanced way about why Brexit passed.  It is more than borders, or immigration, but also about economics and freedom.  It is about independence.  The people are tired of being managed by a distant and careless elite.  Smart, and also true were his words, unlike the hysterical Christiane Amanpour:

That’s right, all the smart people are saying this is a disaster, and since the smart people are smart, why, the rest of you must be racists.  It must be nice to live in such a simplistic world.  Yet the world is not simplistic, it’s difficult.  And political philosophy, and politics is hard, very hard, to get right.  Nearly nobody on TV or in the media punditry gets anything right.  Their lecturing the voter about what is and is not moral or acceptable, is part of the reason that they are all so astonished at the results.

But the smart people in almost every “class” are getting it wrong and got it wrong.  And their thuggery is not fooling anyone:

Brushing off those opinions was exactly what Leave intended to do and, ultimately, succeeded in doing. As Leave saw it, those whom Remain called “experts” were nothing more than what voters in a more democratic age used to call “bosses” and “elites.” The conduct of the EU’s leaders provided eloquent proof. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker spent half his time urging Britain to unite with its European partners in brotherhood, love and solidarity; and half the time, warning that, should it decide to leave the EU, he would personally see to it that the country was chopped off at its knees. What is more, he insisted, there would be “no kind of renegotiation” of any agreements on immigration even should Britain opt for remain.

Brexit is the UK version of people taking their consent back.

While we noted yesterday that Trump hit the rhetorical sweet spot, we find that when Hillary did speak she said…we really cannot decipher what she said:

“We respect the choice the people of the United Kingdom have made.  Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families here in America.  We also have to make clear America’s steadfast commitment to the special relationship with Britain and the transatlantic alliance with Europe.  This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House to protect Americans’ pocketbooks and livelihoods, to support our friends and allies, to stand up to our adversaries, and to defend our interests.  It also underscores the need for us to pull together to solve our challenges as a country, not tear each other down.”

Now we see what she said and it’s all in the last sentence.  She did what the arrogant political class always does:  call the voters stupid and racists when they don’t act in accord with their version of history.

But this is a train that the likes of Obama, Clinton, and the chattering classes like Stephen F. Hayes, can’t stop.

 

 

The Reason Trump Will (likely) become President: From Brexit to Democrat ‘sit-ins’

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Donald Trump is on a roll of focus and unforeseen opportunity as two events seemingly not related have converged and propelled his campaign this week:  the Democrat campaign against guns (and its farcical sit in) and the Brexit vote.

We find this week the Democrats becoming apoplectic by interfering with the work of Congress, and essentially shutting down the operations of the representative branch against the rules.  The Democrats decided that they also would sing “We Shall Overcome” and they chantedNo Bill no Break” and then they promptly went on break the next day after their catered sacrifice came up on holiday for congressmen.

This is what “Principled” Sit-Ins Look like in Modernity

Nothing really diminishes the seriousness of Civil Rights than the equation of gun control—a violation of rights—with the right to vote, or to peaceably assemble, etc.    But then again, the inebriated sounding John Lewis (D-Ga) has been kind of nuts for a long time now as he believes that sharks have a genealogical memory and they still swim the route that slave ships once travelled hundreds of years ago looking for slaves thrown overboard (I wish I could find the actual statement, but I saw him say it on CSPAN from the floor some years ago).

Nothing says to the voters (except the most dedicated Democrat) that our political officials are not only bankrupt, but have no principles than this stunt performed by the Democrats in the House this week.  It is especially egregious when Sen. Ayotte was purportedly working on a compromise bill that would have satisfied House Democrats a couple of days before the sit-in.  Separation of powers was working, unbeknownst to Lewis.  But let’s not assume Lewis was not aware.  He knew what he was doing and he knew there was a bill coming. Still, Lewis and the Democrats are not smart. Their actions and statement only reinforce to the public that Trump means business and is correct in his opinions that our professional elites are either dolts, or they are lying to us.  There really is no in between, or moderate option any more, unless, of course, you want to pick both dolt and liar.

Charlie Rangel (D-NY) emphasized the point of the Democrats’ shamelessness, and their callow concerns, when he stated that while the government needs to limit access to guns, that he and other elites “deserve” to be protected by guns.  Of course, we common folk don’t need to protect ourselves.

A day after Hillary made her “serious” speech calling out Trump for a series of faults—most of which verifiably untrueTrump hit back with a more devastating speech and a website to go along with it noting the mostly verifiably true dishonesty and corruption of Hillary Clinton.

Then came Brexit.

Among the most insidious of the regulations from the EU—this is for all of you italian food fans—was the banning of dipping your bread in olive oil.  And to think, some just can’t understand why the people chose to get out of the EU.

Hillary is absent today, silent even.  Recall that in a bit of arrogant bliss, Obama saying, and Hillary agreeing, that should the U.K. leave the EU that the country would be diminished, and “go to the back of the queue”?  Both Hillary and Obama are representative of an old order—a sort of Ancient Regime—that is crumbling.

What made the greatest impact that will resonate was Trump’s response today:

The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples. They have declared their independence from the European Union and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy. A Trump Administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense. The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries – and our two peoples – are united together, as they will be under a Trump Administration.

Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first. They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people. I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.

The discerning reader will note that Trump is paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln: “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

That of course if the Gettysburg Address and no less alluded to here by Trump on the matter of Brexit. But his is a response to the long 16 year domestic drought while wandering in the desert.  While not to replay what has gone before us here, here, here, here….we conclude with the simple note that Trump represents much more than meets the eye.  Now that the campaign is limited to two people (the libertarian really does not count), Trump is focussing the debate in ways that even Hillary cannot contend.  His is a campaign of restoration and return.

The choice before us is the same as the choice before the British:  freedom and patriotism, meaning borders and the ability to govern ourselves absent enslavement to a globalist impersonal bureaucracy. The rejection of that is a “new birth of freedom” and one of consent by conscious choice.   This is politics for grownups.

The professional elite—including the #NeverTrump which = #RepublicansforHillary—still do not get it, and they make the same mistakes over and over again, believing that somehow, someway, Trump or the Brexit supporters, will implode.

Harry Neumann used to say that there is a difference between scholarship and insight.  Few have insight.

This is Trump’s moment.  He’s presently pitch perfect.

 

JAG Repost Saved: The Slave Power

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The Slave Power

Harry Jaffa liked to tell the story of how, while reading Plato’s Republic with Leo Strauss at the New School in 1946, he encountered a copy of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in a used book store near his father’s Greenwich Village restaurant.  Unable to afford the book, he read it piecemeal on several furtive visits and realized that the issue between Lincoln and Douglas—no slavery in the territories v. “popular sovereignty”—was identical to that between Socrates and Thrasymachus: natural right v. might makes right.

We see a similar similarity between Lincoln’s times and ours.

In the decade or so before the Civil War, a phrase in common use was “the Slave Power,” which described a trans-partisan (and even to a small extent trans-regional) alignment of interests to protect, promote and extend slavery in the United States and even in the Western Hemisphere.  The Slave Power was led by the big slave-owners themselves, of course, but was hardly limited to them.  Through various proxies and fellow-travelers, they absolutely controlled Southern state governments.  They could also count on some federal officials, including—importantly—judges.  They even had support in the North: the notorious “doughfaces.”  The growing influence of the Slave Power contributed mightily to the Civil War.  The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act alone destroyed the Whig Party and created the Republican.

But this is not meant to be a history lesson.  The point is that a numerically and proportionally small but economically and politically powerful oligarchy managed—for a time, anyway—to steer the nation in the direction of its own interests at the expense of everyone else’s and of the popular will.  Sound familiar?

Nor do the similarities end there.  Is not the similarity between slavery and mass immigration obvious?  (Note to the hysterical that I said “similarity” and not “identicality.”)  They both serve the same fundamental purpose: sources of cheap labor to squeeze out the working class and enrich a few.

The fact that slaves are not free and immigrants are is, to be sure, a non-trivial difference—for immigrant and slave.  But what about the third man, William Graham Sumner’s “forgotten man”?  In their effects on him, the two don’t seem so very different after all.  Nor are they supposed to.

A major source of opposition to the Slave Power arose from the Free Soil Movement: free men—American citizens—who wanted to earn decent livings without having to compete against slave labor that would undercut them at every turn.  Does that sound familiar? Nor is at any accident that the Old South was staunchly free trade while the free North was protectionist.  Is the theme becoming clearer?

Now it is probably too harsh to refer to our modern oligarchs as a new “slave power.”  Peter Brimelow’s “treason lobby” is not bad.  We’re partial to Walter Russell Mead’s contribution: Davoisie.

The fundamental similarity is however undeniable.  A trans-partisan and trans-regional, numerically small but economically and politically powerful elite—in our case, financial, technological and corporate—essentially control political debate and get their way on everything important, in defiance of popular will, in order to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.

We know how it ended the last time.  How will it end this time?

What makes our current overlords slightly more insidious (if only in one way) than their slave-master predecessors is their risible moral preening.  19th century slaveholders really did have a difficult time affirming the justice of their “peculiar institution.” In addition to the obvious injustice of owning other human beings like animals, they knew from experience what Xenophon teaches in the Anabasis and Shakespeare in the Tempest: “when difficult things are commanded, harshness, and not sweetness, is needed in order to bring about obedience.”  Concerned to shield its reputation from intrusive, revealing sunlight, the Slave Power was not eager to advertise this necessity and the harsh treatment it necessitated.

By contrast, our overlords never tire of lecturing us about how virtuous they are.  I know of no record of a plantation owner claiming that his recent purchases at a slave auction show his goodness.  But every new immigrant—legal or otherwise—who takes an American job at a fraction of the recent wage, our masters trumpet as a sign of their superior morality.  Every American laid off and every job outsourced gets the same self-congratulation.  Recall the words of that hedge-fund high priest: “if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade.”

That sickly sanctimonious phrase—“lifts people out of poverty”—heard in every hotel conference room and lecture hall where the Davoisie meet to rub holy oil on each other’s backs, is the modern rhetorical equivalent of John C. Calhoun’s “positive good” and serves the same purpose.  Only it’s been much more effective.  The real aim of the Davoisie’s showy, skin-deep leftism is to confer upon itself the veneer of legitimacy necessary to preserving its status.  Well, that and divide-and-conquer.

Has there ever been a plutocratic class more adept at claiming the moral high ground for wealth and privilege achieved in large measure by the impoverishment of its fellow citizens and decimation of domestic industries?  If so, we can’t think of it.

Lincoln described the issue dividing Douglas from himself as:

the eternal struggle between these two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.

Thrasymachus to Stephen Douglas to George Soros and Paul Singer.  Plus ҫa change.

Since the Davoisie seized the commanding heights of the West (about 30 years ago), Trump is the only presidential candidate to oppose our equivalent of the slave power.  Granted, he’s not exactly a Lincoln in stature, temperament, virtue, intellect or ability.  We’d certainly prefer another Abe!  If you know where to find one, please send him our way.  In the meantime, we have no choice but to make do with Trump.

—Decius

JAG Repost Saved: Trump v. The Ruling Class

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Trump v. the Ruling Class

[EDITORS’ NOTE: Angelo Codevilla is—though he would likely disavow the honor—one of a small number of thinkers who anticipated Trumpism.  In an extremely prescient article published nearly six years ago (!) and subsequently turned into a book, Codevilla sketches the outlines of America’s bipartisan, Davoisie “ruling class” and shows how little their interests overlap with, and often diametrically oppose, those of the American people.  But while Codevilla’s diagnosis may concur with Trump’s, when it comes to the cure, he is emphatically opposed.  We are honored to present, once again, the thoughts of one of our great teachers—this time on what Codevilla gets right, and where his analysis could use some fine tuning.]

Codevilla understands the ruling elite in terms of a class interest—the court as opposed to the country party.  But that makes sense when the authority of the political is understood in terms of economic and social classes: aristocracy or oligarchy versus the people or the poor.

The authority of the ruling elite in America is not social, economic, or even political.  What unites the ruling elite—what establishes their prominence and legitimizes their public authority—is knowledge.  They understand the world through their attachment to their professions: academia, science, economics, business, media, entertainment, and even religion.  They have no political consciousness of themselves as a class.  Many of them do not even think of themselves as political.  They are professionals, whose interest and loyalty is to what it is they profess to study and what they think they know.

What unites them, and establishes their intellectual and political authority, is their role in the production of what passes for knowledge in the administrative state.  The administrative state has made it possible to politicize the elites in a manner that disguises their political role.  When nearly every social, economic, scientific, religious, political problem is decided in a bureaucratic, or legal, way—and always from a central authority (Washington mostly, but sometimes New York or one or two other places)—the professional elites are given a stake in the political and bureaucratic world.  That is why public intellectuals, liberal or conservative, detect the danger—to their interests—from Trump.

Codevilla’s attempt to equate Trump and Obama misses the mark.  Obama has far more in common with both Bushes (and of course with the Clintons) than he does with Trump.  All of the latter have all utilized the ruling elites to help them create strategic and scientific appeals to organized minority groups, whose geographic and political identity (race, gender, ethnicity) is established and legitimized in order to make elections more predictable by dividing the electorate.

Trump, by contrast, is making an appeal that attempts to unify the electorate by focusing on what all citizens have in common.  His appeal is directed to citizens (not the knowledge elite), to those who seek to pursue a common good on behalf of the country’s true sovereign, the people.  Recent presidents, whenever they have made an appeal based on a common good—whether Obama’s rhetoric of getting past race, or Bush’s (abandoned) promise of no more foreign policy adventurism–once elected they’ve all ruled on behalf of the organized groups that provide their core support while ignoring the broader public appeal that provides the margin of victory.  I think that actually Chris Matthews is closer to understanding Trump’s appeal.  He noted that it seems as if Rubio and Cruz talk always about government, while only Trump speaks about the country.  Pat Caddell also observed that in the debate which Trump skipped, the talk reverted to government and policy, ignoring the kind of regime questions that Trump always brings to the fore.

If Trump is going to exercise his will in the same manner as Obama, why does Trump make his case directly to the people, and not to the interests?  Did not Clinton, Bush and Obama alike all exercise their will on behalf of the administrative state?  And did not Congress and the courts go along with their use of executive power in the service of the administrative state?

If America were still properly a constitutional republic, we would not have to fear the will of the executive; the legislative branch could easily bring it to heel.  The problem is that all of the establishment elites are defenders of the administrative state.  The question is whether Trump will be able to begin the process of re-establishing the authority of the people.  In appealing directly to them, he has bypassed the intellectual authority of the knowledge elite.  I think Codevilla’s analysis underestimates what the rational or administrative state really is dependent upon.  The real source of power in the modern state is the research university.

—Cato the Elder

 

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