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Practical politics

Doubtful prophecies of a paleo peritus

Paul Gottfried says the paleo movement is dead, and calls for youth to take over in the form of a post-paleo movement based on true American conservatism, which is the constitutional liberalism once represented by Taft Republicanism. He sees signs of such a development in the Ron Paul campaign, and in the writings of some youngish right-wingers.

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Foolish prognostication

Other people focus their thought by making predictions, so I will too: I predict Eliot Spitzer will hang in there and ride out the storm. Some considerations:

  • Bill did, why not Eliot? They’re both psychopaths who like to cross lines and don’t think they’re subject to normal standards. It’s not as if they care about damage to their party or the public interest. Bill had Hill to prop him up with a sense of their infallible righteousness and Eliot’s his own Hill.
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Democracy in action

The past week saw a couple of events that were both predictable and widely predicted, at least among right-wing cranks, but they were still blatant enough to be a bit shocking:

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    Crying wolf

    I can’t say these are good ideas:

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    These aren't good people

    A book by longtime Iranian leader Rafsanjani has apparently been suppressed, or at least withdrawn for fact-checking, because influential Iranians are outraged by its claim that Khomeini wanted at one point to drop “Death to America” as a slogan.

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    More comments on liberalism, Christianity, Ellul and what not else

    While composing my post on Ellul and rummaging around other things I had written, I ran into some comments I had made in in a discussion thread regarding a short essay of mine on liberalism and Christianity. The comments were extensive enough that I thought I’d edit them a bit and post them here, for preservation if nothing else.

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    Thoughts on failures past

    I’ve been reading a couple of pre-war right-wingers, Hilaire Belloc and Julius Evola. In the few things I’ve been reading, Belloc’s big political concept is Nation, Evola’s is Empire.

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    Furthering the neoconservative diagnosis

    A while back I noted the oddity of Catholic neocon George Weigel praising Philadelphia in the 50s as “a town of ethnic neighborhoods in which Catholic kids unselfconsciously identified themselves by parish … dang, it was great” and in a few lines without explanation attacking those who wanted to maintain ethnic and religious boundaries in Philadelphia.

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    Times slimes gradual enforcement

    A recent editorial in the New York Times, entitled “The Misery Strategy,” mixes abusive rhetoric with the Orwellian view that evil American leaders are imposing a restrictive immigration policy on the American people. In the midst of it all they nonetheless make a point worth answering:

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    I have a dream

    Every movement needs high-flown rhetoric, and trad rightwingery can’t be any different. Inspired by what seems voguish I’ve put together a few phrases for my own “I have a dream” speech. Additions are welcome.

    I dream of an America that is a normal country.

    I dream of an America that is not an all-purpose fantasy, or a team, business, political movement or religion, but a country and people and their habits and ways to love, support and complete.

    I dream of an America with normal human relations and aspirations.

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    Ramblings about patriotism in bad times

    At bottom, conservatism is simply attachment to a specific society. It is therefore a disposition to maintain the features of the society that make it what it is: the particular people who make it up, the beliefs, commitments and institutions that order it, and the concrete features that define its character and distinguish it from other societies.

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    July 14th

    Our sympathy to the French on the 218th anniversary of the riots and lynchings that led to the unfortunate state of affairs there.

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    Human rights and special measures

    A recent development in Britain suggests one side of “human rights” in today’s world: Home Secretary threatens to suspend human rights laws after terror suspects go missing.

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    Another straw in the wind

    Immigration is is not the only issue that suggests rather strongly that the claim we live in a democracy is mostly propagandistic. To my mind it seems obvious that our government is more technocratic than democratic. It’s a complicated world today, with a complex and largely hierarchical organization, and in such a setting the views (and therefore the collective interests) of those who run our national life quite generally win in the end over popular concerns, which tend to be ill-informed and only sporadically active.

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    Why they act that way

    James Madison points out in Federalist 10 that the more diverse and populous a country the less influence popular sentiment has on its government and the easier it is for national elites to run things in accordance with their own ideas of what makes sense. The reported deal on immigration brought that famous argument to mind, as well as the following passage from my book-in-process:

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    Gaffes and guff

    The death of Jerry Falwell, and the Pope’s recent visit to Brazil, suggest some thoughts about “gaffes.”

    One of the events that defined Falwell in the mainstream mind was his notorious attack on a purple handbag-carrying cartoon character as a homosexual. A problem with the story is that it never happened. That doesn’t seem to bother anybody. Why should it?

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    French connections

    The generation gap was a big thing back in the ’60s. It seems that in France they have multiple generation gaps (see the table below on the right). It’s been called a split into two tribes of young and old, but the situation’s obviously a lot more complex than that.

    So what explains it? Dunno, but here are some possibilities:

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    Inner and outer Obama

    Steve Sailer has a couple of interesting pieces on Obama and his identity issues. Reminds me a bit of someone I once knew, a black man with a Christian mother and Muslim convert father whose marriage broke up over religious and other incompatibilities. He was intelligent, extremely disciplined, attentive to what others were looking for, and something of a chameleon. His “all things to all men” quality reflected his boyhood as a member of two very different and opposed families, or so I thought.

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    CEDAW rises from the crypt

    Everyone who cares about humanity and freedom should sign this petition against CEDAW, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

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    When critics need criticism

    Talking about what people should and shouldn’t do is a sticky business. Pascal was obviously right when he said that it’s difficult to speak humbly of humility or chastely of chastity, and it’s conventional to accuse obtrusively pious and moral people of hypocrisy. During my unfortunate stay in the Episcopal Church I noticed that people who talk about openness and community are mostly self-willed tyrants, and those who tell stories about their own honesty shouldn’t be trusted.

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