Tag: Liberalism

Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for May 9, 2017, it’s the Profiles in Leftism edition of the show brought to you by ZipRecruiter and SimpliSafe. This week the GOP is celebrating the passage, through one house of Congress, a repeal, only not really a repeal of the People’s Healthcare bill, AKA: ACA, AKA Obamacare. (Just an aside, but why is the conservative press trying to run away from the rumor that our Representatives drank beer after the victory? Isn’t that a good thing? Beer?).

Anyway, every liberal in America with a megaphone is screaming bloody murder. And even some conservatives are screaming that socialized medicine is now cast in concrete. I mean, lighten up folks. We take issue, however, with one Poli. Sci. Professor from Duke who somehow got the august editors of The Hill to publish one of the most shallow (and at the same time pompous) diatribes on any subject I have ever read in my life. I really do recommend you read it and comment on it on Ricochet (if you *are* haha, a *member*).

Victor Davis Hanson looks at how the Left’s rhetoric on the environment, immigration, and higher education have become increasingly divorced from reality.

Left, Right, and Politics

 

Talking American sends me thinking now and again. All the questions about the left and the right came up again the other day, questions that come up more often than I think they should, and which I fear can never be articulated in a way that contains partisan passions. That’s how it is: The terms of political art are almost unique in how contentious and disputable they really are. But this sent me thinking, as I said, so I have some questions and remarks below, and a sketch for a crash course on the politics of left and right — I hope you’ll be interested in this enough to make it possible to have more conversations and, possibly, more clarity.

  1. Is it worth learning what left and right mean in politics? Where they come from? How we ended up talking this way?
  2. Do people who talk this way think of it as more than a mere expedient?
  3. Do people who insist on talking this way have any good faith that’s not limited to partisanship?
  4. Do people who want to go beyond left and right really get what’s in people’s hearts as per the previous two points?

I might write something serious and respectable about this, but is it worth the time? I do have some provisional remarks, meanwhile, about what seems to me to be at stake:

  1. Recovering this language of left and right might bring back dispute as coming down on the yes and the no of serious questions. That’s surely needed!
  2. Another reason, related, is less about pugnacity and more about its ground. Deliberation implies a common ground, which surely is also needed now.
  3. Further, as with partisanship, there is more than mere denunciation–aspiration is part of it, too. Being on the left or the right seems to involve knowing some things and being serious about what you know.
  4. Contrariwise, there’s a danger of ending up not being for anything–not knowing even how to associate with like-minded people, for principle, or interest, or because circumstances require striving in common.

One way to think about this is the study proper to the liberal arts. That way of grasping the matter looks like this:

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Thesis: For 55 years conservatives would eventually win every argument on economics, trade, and immigration by chaining liberals to the whippin’ post of data analytics. America is now on the brink of ruin, conservatism on the brink of irrelevancy, and the two political parties are stranded on terra incognita. If conservatives don’t stop winning arguments […]

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Madame Secretary’s Mutant Rhino Wars

 

So I was out last night, and had cause to remark on the beauty of the California hills and canyons, unbelievably green this season, and the Romantic allure of the cities by night, when you have to guess at what you see and light precedes shape. Then, coming in, I caught a scene of “Madame Secretary” on TV.

I know what you’re thinking: Is that show even running anymore? Well, surprise! The episode was a doozy: The Sec was hard at work to “shift the paradigm” concerning rhino poaching in Namibia. Piecemeal approaches don’t work, you see…

  1. American shows on foreign affairs have a terrible habit of alternating between this tripe and the endless paranoia of “Homeland,” with nothing in-between. Don’t the vaguely liberal audiences want anything better? How about fantasies where big problems are solvable and people get to see a government that has sensible ideas about what’s going on in the world and what to do about it?
  2. On the other hand, if you were offered your own fantasy, wouldn’t you much rather have America’s liberals-in-government worry about this sort of ecological nonsense instead of trying to deal with China, which they can’t do, or manage alliance diplomacy, which they can’t bother to do? After all, most of the world is, in a way, America’s playground. Why couldn’t every kid in America sponsor an African rhino who would write him letters every month or so and send an annual picture?
  3. How long until the liberal press discovers the rhino populations thus empowered turn to radical Muslim terrorism and “it’s all our fault for arming them in the first place?” Blame the CIA! This is a greater concern than might first appear, I mean, do we really want a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles scenario on our hands when we do not yet have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, because of PETA and the bleeding-heart liberals?
  4. If you know anything about liberal shows, you know the burning question we have to address: What happens when State decides to teach the rhinos about feminism and abortion rights? How are the various UN-based organizations that deal with the third world, wildlife, feminism, and refugee programs — trust me, there’ll be refugees — going to agree on anything when this becomes a flashpoint?
  5. What if rhino democracy becomes a thing and America starts nation-building looking forward to the first quadruped president of a country to be seated at the UN? You can’t not support democracy — but on the other hand, isn’t this even more colonialism, but underhanded?
  6. How about the impending conflict with China over rhino-poaching for crazy superstitious uses? If Chinese money wants all the rhinos dead so they can bolster the national, um, enhancement, is America really going to start erection wars in Africa? How would that look in the papers?
  7. What are we going to do when it turns out the Cold War policies of the American government allowed, nay, required, the CIA to do experiments with biological warfare that led to these mutations in the first place? And that’s the true story behind the Symbionese Liberation Army!

Now I wish I had watched the damned episode instead of getting into the weeds here. It’s a complicated world we live in, folks, and I want to know what the administration is planning to do about the mutant rhino threat before World War III (or is it?) starts. We can’t just drone all the rhinos back to the stone age!

 

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Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for March 14, 2017, it’s the Nobody Will Ever Have Healthcare edition of the show.

Victor Davis Hanson explores the factors that led to widespread defeats for Democrats in 2016 — and warns of trends within the party that may prevent it from commanding electoral majorities anytime soon.

Victor Davis Hanson examines the early initiatives coming out of the Trump Administration and reflects on whether the new president’s momentum is sustainable over the long run.

Victor Davis Hanson describes how higher education and the media have eroded — and provides recommendations for reforming each.

2 Cheers for NGOs

 

Skipsul’s recent post on the nefarious role that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) sometimes unwittingly play in the third world is an excellent read and echoes other recent articles critical of NGOs as a whole. (A Jerusalem Post piece called them the “new feudalism”). As an American expat working for an NGO in Iraq, I felt somewhat compelled to respond, not out of any desire to “defend the herd,” but simply to offer a little insight into their nature, both good and bad. I’ll restrict my commentary only to the areas I’ve worked in or observed personally. I would suspect some of what I say might not be relevant or applicable to NGO work outside of Iraq.

Important to note, NGO work is broadly divided into two often mutually exclusive parts; advocacy and humanitarian work. Most NGOs exist either to advocate and lobby for a particular issue or to provide a particular humanitarian service. You might assume they do both as a matter of course, but with rare exceptions, most NGOs stick to one or the other. The reasons for this are quite simple and each have their tradeoffs. Advocacy work is inherently political in nature. Either you’re lobbying for local/foreign governments do do something (give money, provide assistance, etc) or you’re lobbying for local/foreign governments to stop doing something (genocide, discrimination, neglect) Since local governments often bear some responsibility for the disaster being addressed in the first place (Iraq especially), advocacy NGOs can find themselves at loggerheads with local politicians. And believe me, you will never find a more petty and conniving politician than the ones this country produces. As such, advocacy groups are usually reluctant to delve into humanitarian work because these efforts would be hampered by their too-public profile.

The Haunting Fear That Somewhere Someone Is Having a Good Time

 

H.L. Mencken once defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone somewhere is having a good time.” What I know of the real thing suggests to me that Mencken did the Puritans a grave injustice. But there can be no doubt that his quip applies in spades to contemporary liberalism.

Consider the posture of preachiness and horror adopted by pious liberals in the face of the comic call-and-response duet “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which Frank Loesser and his wife Lynne Garland threw together and first performed for their friends at a housewarming party in the Christmas season in 1944, and which MGM inserted in the movie Neptune’s Daughter in 1948 — where, as you can see, Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams did one rendition and Red Skelton and Betty Garrett did another with the roles reversed.

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Further to a discussion with @6foot2inhighheels I thought the Ricochet community may have some thoughts. Said 6foot2: “The revelation that men have distinctly different motivations and impulses that are at odds with female cultural assumptions came to me late in life, and from an unexpected source; a young man who explained everything in one simple […]

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Mr. James W. Caesar is one of the very successful political scientists who owe their education to Leo Strauss & who have educated generations of political scientists who need not be ashamed of their education, which is a rather rare thing. Well, Mr. Caesar is another, older kind of conservative–a learned man who contributes to his […]

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A friend reads this journal, which I have not seen advertised on Ricochet, so let me do the honors. I would describe it as Straussian patriotism. Strauss was the one man who restored political philosophy in academia–including your Founders & Lincoln. Professors at Hillsdale–indeed, the man who runs the place–are students of students of Strauss. (In that […]

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America’s Eichmann Industry

 

413727_1280x720Two months have passed since Stanford University’s celebrated student body voted six-to-one against reinstituting a required Western civilization course in its academic curriculum, generating a flurry of commentaries about the majority’s ideological orientation.

Critics didn’t have to look far, as an editorial in The Stanford Daily outlined the views of those on the six side of the equation pretty well. After introducing an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden for sneering purposes, the op-ed launched into a scathing attack on Western civilization, peppered with phrases that undoubtedly would have kindled smiles by Marx, Lenin, or Stalin, along with perhaps a few tears of approbation.

Thus, for instance, Africa’s execrable backwardness was the result of Western “colonialism, occupation, and capitalism as driving forces in the creation of poverty.” Of course, understanding this requires students to “think critically,” and not be “[spoon-fed] platitudes from the Western colonial canon.” Stanford students need courses that will “force” everyone to face the “realities of these histories” of Western dominance. For this reason and others, the university needs to hire “more queer and trans faculty, indigenous faculty, and faculty of color.” After all, they’re the ones who have had first hand experience with the exploitations in question and are thus best equipped to mentor American students.

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Ok conservative America. What do you when it comes to hi-tech lynch mobs? What did you do the first time around? What are you doing now? Are you betting Marx was right, it was tragedy at first, but it’s a farce now? Or what? Comments & attempts to walk me off the ledge are welcome! […]

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I use adblock. I recommend it. It makes ads go away. I worry sometimes if I’m not doing something stupid to websites I should be supporting–I’d like to be able to find out, I’m not too unreasonable or entitled… What I am is yellderly, only I don’t yell. I’ll get back to this later. I […]

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Allan Bloom says somewhere that Americans are the funniest people, because nowhere else will you ever hear someone say Mr. Aristotle. I think that is meant to show how good manners are mostly a matter of innocence. I came to think of that today. I teach kids how thinking works, grammar, & language. You know […]

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