Monday, September 28, 2015
Obama as Nero
The burdens Obama has placed on America are great so the question is how lasting they are. After Obama is gone, will America's freedom and prosperity continue to deteriorate or will they bounce back? Much will depend on the resolve of the president who replaces Obama. A timid Republican would not attempt to wind back the clock and even the banishment of crybaby Boehner has not banished Republican timidity. Leftist expectations still rule America in many ways.
Only Trump would appear to have the independence and resolve needed to put the destructive policies into reverse. Otherwise the great weight of regulations (from the EPA and elsewhere) that now exist will continue to exercise their destructive force and will slowly smother America. But Trump so far has only an outside chance so what if Hillary or some milksop Republican is elected next year? Will that be the final nail in the coffin?
Perhaps not. For a long time, many people, including America's revolutionaries, looked to ancient Rome for lessons. Many of the ancient empires of the Far-East were big, powerful and long-lasting but only Rome seemed to be "like us". So does Rome have lessons that could encourage us today? I believe it does.
When Caesar's conquests expanded the Roman republic into the Roman empire, he inherited a great legacy of balanced and substantially democratic government from his predecessors. The Senate was democratically elected by the upper class and there was also a "tribunis plebis" to represent the ordinary people of Rome. And government functions were split up so that much power could not be concentrated in one man's hands. By disobeying the Senate and crossing the Rubicon river with his army, Caesar offended against that division of power. So they killed him.
But Humpty Dumpty could not be put back together again. Armies had become too powerful. Caesar had replaced democratic government with military rule and military rule would continue. At that juncture, however, Rome was extraordinarily fortunate. The victor in the military struggles to replace Caesar was the man we now call Augustus. That August in our calendar follows July celebrates the memory that Augustus followed Julius Caesar in ruling Rome.
And Augustus was wise enough to draw from the Roman past many lessons about government. Although the Senators had murdered Caesar, Augustus did not abolish the Senate but converted it into a sounding board for his policies. They had no power during his reign but still had influence.
He expanded the borders of the empire but through strong and wise rule gave the core of the empire a long period of peace and prosperity. He adapted the wisdom of old, Republican Rome to form a strong new system of governance for the Roman empire. And he ruled Rome for 45 years until his death at age 75 in the year 14 AD.
And that long rule set the precedent for how Rome was to be governed thenceforth. Rome was again ruled not only by men but also by a system of government, a system that had deep roots in the Republic but had been successfully and convincingly made the new normal by Augustus.
Romans now expected their governments to be of a certain type -- an Augustan type. The reign of Augustus was immensely influential in the minds of Romans -- and later emperors were judged by that criterion. Rulers who did not provide government along roughly Augustan lines did not last. A powerful SYSTEM now ruled Rome and Rome prospered greatly under it, even undergoing further expansion of the empire. So even rather bad emperors such as Nero still kept the system going to some extent and Rome survived him well. The empire kept expanding and reached its greatest extent under emperor Trajan some decades later.
So I think we can now see the parallels. Like Nero, Obama has been destructive but American political forms and expectations have been preserved. The system that is America still exists much as it always has done. There is a strength in America in the form of the customary systems of law and government that continue to exist. And those systems rest on nothing so fragile as laws. They exists in the expectations that Americans hold about how things should be done. Those expectations have given prosperity and substantial freedom to Americans in the past and will continue to do so. America can withstand its traitor president -- JR.
Note: I refer to Nero above only because he is well known -- but there were of course other bad emperors
Another recovering Leftist from Britain
As Labour elects Jeremy Corbyn, the most left wing leader in the party's recent history, Tony Parsons writes on the rise of the reluctant Conservatives
Like millions of others, I joined the ranks of reluctant Conservatives at the last election. To the haters on the left, I have sold my soul and turned to the dark side. And I'll do it again, because the left has nothing to offer. Here comes the abuse...
I first realised that I was Tory scum on the weekend after the general election. The losing side was throwing a terrible tantrum. "F*** TORY SCUM", they sprayed on a Whitehall memorial dedicated to the women who fought in the Second World War. Well, that's me, I thought. They are definitely talking about me. Because whatever these people believe, I know that I will always be on the other side.
Like 11 million of my countrymen, I had voted Conservative because the alternative felt indistinguishable from national suicide.
This is what the pollsters got so terribly wrong - the general election was decided not by shy Tories but by us reluctant Conservatives. The millions like me who saw nothing but catastrophe in Labour's addiction to high taxes and big spending, their loathing of success, the way they could use a word like "mansion" with a straight face and, above all, that endless pious prattle about the NHS - as though the British have no other identity but as a sickly, enfeebled, diseased people in need of having our bottoms wiped by the state from dawn till dusk.
Red Ed, Fat Ed and all their unreconstructed comrades appalled me. But it was only when I saw that ugly graffiti sprayed on a memorial to women who gave their life for our freedom that I knew I would vote Conservative for the rest of my life. I looked at that graffiti - those three hateful little words - and felt an implacable opposition that will remain with me to my grave, something very like what they must have felt in Paris after mass murder had come to the offices of Charlie Hebdo. I knew, as the old Bowie song has it, that the shame was on the other side. And I thought, "Je suis Tory scum."
I like Ed Miliband. Whenever I have met him, I have found him to be an engaging and intelligent man. I don't think he's stupid. I don't think he's weird. I believe Miliband to be a well-intentioned man of principle who would have done to the British economy exactly what his socialist hero François Hollande has done to France.
Wreck it for a generation.
But none of that makes Ed a bad person. None of that makes him scum. So why are those of us who believe in a different economic model - one where aspiration is encouraged, where the state gets out of your way and doesn't spend money it doesn't have - morally reprehensible? Exactly why are we scum? History suggests that, when presented with the chance to vote for socialism the British people always run as fast as we can in the opposite direction. It doesn't make us bad people. But the left have lost the argument and are reduced to shrieking abuse.
Twitter - the frat house of left-wing piety - was incandescent in the aftermath of the general election. One popular image, widely shared, was of a deliveryman waiting outside 11 Downing Street with a trolley loaded with champagne. Oh, those wicked Tories! Swilling champagne while Martin Freeman rummages through a food bank! Tory scum! But the image was misleading because it dated from 9 September 2004, when Labour were in power and Gordon Brown, chancellor of the exchequer, had his big fat backside firmly planted in 11 Downing Street. "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it," proclaimed Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. And the big lie of our time is that the liberal left is morally pure and the Tories are filth.
But I will vote Tory for the rest of my life because there will be nobody else to vote for. I grew up in a working-class Labour household, had the traditional loud left leanings in my young manhood, but that Labour party is receding into the mists of history, as relevant to our own time as the Whigs or the Monster Raving Loony Party. There is no Old Labour or New Labour any more; there is only Dead Labour - a 20th-century party who find themselves as pertinent as banana rationing.
For Labour, this was the Red Wedding of general elections. Labour were obliterated by the SNP north of the border, run ragged by Ukip in the north of England and washed away by the Tories in the south. Labour will never come back from this defeat. I would bet my last euro that Labour will become little more than a debating society, endlessly preaching their pious certainties to each other. It will suit them. They will be much happier. They will keep their virtue intact and never have to make hard decisions in the real world.
Who cares who leads the Labour party next? Who cares what sound bites some mealy-mouthed "moderniser" is coached to make about "aspiration"? They will never again reach out to anyone but their dwindling core support. Dead Labour will get a warm glow when they remind each other how righteous they are, how morally superior to the wicked Tories. But the sanctimonious "progressives" who hate the Tories the most are always the party's greatest recruiting agents. Their shrill pieties make a much better case for Conservative government than [Conservative PM] David Cameron ever did.
Although the SNP may have annihilated Labour in Scotland, they drove England - where we have a sentimental attachment to democracy - into the arms of the Tory scum for generations. Every time the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon vowed, "We will lock David Cameron out of Number 10," she showed him where the key to the door was hidden.
It wasn't just the pollsters who got it wrong. It was the celebrity circus of ageing love gods and socially concerned luvvies who told us the Tories were Satan's spawn. Billy Bragg. Bilbo Baggins. All the shrill keyboard comrades on Twitter. It was the Guardian, sagely supporting Labour. And it was the BBC where, shortly before the general election, Andrew Marr wrongly accused David Cameron of "loving" fox hunting - TORY SCUM! - and later made a grovelling apology. "It turns out he never said it," choked Marr. The BBC today is about as representative of the British people as the men's toilets at the Guardian. Fifteen million people voted for the Tories or Ukip - but how many of them work in Broadcasting House? My guess would be: none. But none of it mattered.
The heartland of our country turns out to be staunchly conservative with a very small "c", and more than ten million of us remained remarkably unmoved by a political party broadcast by Bilbo Baggins and earnest leaders in the Guardian. We didn't care what they thought. Eddie Izzard stood by Ed Miliband's side in Scotland and we did not care. In fact, they made Tory scum of us all.
How certain they were that Labour would get to play the SNP's bitch. How little they know of the people of this country. More than ten million of us elected an Old Etonian prime minister and a Conservative government because there truly seemed to be no viable alternative.
We are often judged to be beyond the age of great political loyalties, when voters supported one party for a lifetime, as though it was a football team. And perhaps it is true. For among the nearly 11 million who voted Conservative were millions of Tories who came in from the cold - those of us who voted for Ukip at the European elections, but backed the Tories on 7 May. This was hard on Ukip - who got twice as many votes as the SNP, but returned only one MP - but so much was at stake that nobody had the luxury of a protest vote. We became Tory scum for the sake of the nation.
Because if you wanted economic stability, if you desired the freedom to discuss immigration without being thought of as racist, xenophobic and not very nice, then there was no alternative. If you want dignity for your parents, a better life for your children and a country that is not cowed by the politics of spite and envy, then there was no other way. If the Jurassic socialism of the Eds sickened you, all that palpable loathing of success dressed up as moral superiority, then there was only one place to go.
And it is no bad thing to vote for a party without any great expectations that they will lead you to some bright, shining new dawn. Because they never do. That is why politicians who are swept to power on a wave of wild hope - from Tony Blair to Nick Clegg - always end up as despised figures who disappoint those who loved them the most. Clegg will never be forgiven by all the dippy Lib Dems for the betrayal on tuition fees. And Blair - easily the most successful Labour Party leader in history - will always be loathed for his dirty little war in Iraq. Cameron will not break our hearts, because the millions who voted for him do not expect him to change our world. We just want him to do no harm. We see our country slowly emerging from the worst recession of our lifetimes and we don't want anyone to cock it up.
In his resignation speech, Ed Miliband declared that Labour may have lost the election but they "did not lose the argument". But of course Labour lost the argument - emphatically, comprehensively, totally. Presented with Miliband's vision of a socialist paradise, the British people reacted in exactly the same way they did when it was offered to them by Neil Kinnock and Michael Foot. They rejected it against all predictions. The left lost the argument and now they howl in the wilderness.
"You rarely hear people saying they 'hate' the Labour party," wrote Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily Mail. "You certainly hear it about the Conservatives - or, as left-wing activists like to call them, 'Tory scum'."
Who are these people screaming "Tory scum"? Most seem to hail from academia or the creative arts and have a column or blog in the Guardian. They are certainly not the working class. Rod Liddle wrote in the Spectator, "According to the pollster Peter Kellner, Ukip's support base is 61 per cent working class - way more than Labour, the party set up to represent the working class... Labour will be left as a party of the affluent, secular, achingly liberal London middle classes - plus all those minorities who have not yet decided to vote Green."
A total of 11,334,576 people voted Conservative not because the Tories are cruel, stupid or evil. Those softly spoken millions were not brainwashed by the right-wing press. They know what they want and it is certainly not Fat Ed talking about "mansions". Get beyond the watering holes of the metropolitan elite and the heartland's deeply held values - my family, my work, my country - are the new mainstream.
The loud left are as pertinent to modern Britain as blacksmiths. No wonder their protests are increasingly ugly. They react with furious disbelief at the result of a democratic election. They rave about balancing the nation's books as if it was like drowning kittens in a sack. They scream in our faces about their own compassion while bandying around epithets like "scum" and "filth" with the vicious abandon of Nazis talking about Jews.
So how are the Tories morally inferior to this shower? ["shower" is a polite but derogatory British expression. The original form of the expression was "A shower of sh*t"]
The Conservatives now look like the natural party of government because only they seem to understand what our people believe. Hard work, a quiet patriotism, an instinctive self-reliance. And a future aspiring to more than having your bedpan changed by some saintly NHS nurse.
And every time I see another anti-austerity placard, or a Labour-loving hobbit, or defaced war memorial, I find myself warming to the pejorative the mob love to chuck around. I feel like wearing it as a badge of honour.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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Posted by JR at 1:36 AM