Tory, Tory Hallelujah 

In the wake of one of the most outspoken political campaigns in American history, the most inspiring political address that I have heard in a decade did not come from an American leader, but an English one.

Not everyone will agree with all of what British Prime Minister Theresa May says. Yet even her opponents must concede that hers was the most coherent expression of a right-centrist approach to the world order that we have heard in America in a very long time. It was positively Churchillian.

Her speech was to me as much a silent pointed finger at the intellectual bankruptcy of the American right as it was a foreign policy manifesto for the American center. It pandered to neither left nor right. It was liberal internationalism tempered by realpolitik, a recognition that whole-cloth globalism must be amalgamated with a respect for the nation-state as the best servant of the people, and a focus on the well-being of all people, not just oligarchs and corporations.

She covered a great deal of ground, and I’ll be excerpting over her speech over next few weeks.

Fighting Words

“If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing,” the President implored. “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.”

Source: ‘Lace Up Your Shoes and Organize’: Watch Obama’s Push For Participation in Politics | TIME

I have and retain severe differences with Mr. Obama. But that single quote is priceless, and should be permanently engraved above the chalkboard of every civics and American Government class in the nation.

Democracy is not a spectator sport. Let’s stop sitting around sharing memes, stewing in our glandular indignation and waiting for our names to be called.

Our Founding Fathers created a system designed around the imperative of citizen involvement.

Either we get off the bench and into the game right now, or the plutocrats and the illiberal will lead us into tyranny and decline.

Soapbox: The Safe Space Issue

UC Berkeley ‘identity’ groups protest for safe spaces, block passage to white students
The College Fix
October 25, 2016

[Stepping onto soapbox:]

Attention students of the University of California, and, by extension, students of all public institutions of higher learning across this great state:

If you need a space free from debate, from intellectual challenge, and from viewpoints that you find objectionable, I am sorry, but you have come to the wrong place.

As a California taxpayer and a UC alumnus, I am more than happy to pay my taxes to ensure that you are safe from physical harm on campus, and will not tolerate violence against you from any source as long as you do none to others or their property. I will also not tolerate racism, threats of violence, or any form of coercive pressure upon you to conform to a point of view or ethos, whether that coercion is social, physical, or academic. You have every right to expect that there is room for you to state and defend your ideas.

But I will not pay one red cent either to protect you from ideas, opinions, and images you find objectionable, or from having your ideas intellectually manhandled, disproven, and perhaps even ridiculed. You are adults, ostensibly with the discernment and maturity to handle the intellectual challenges that are an integral part of the university experience.

Neither will I support you being sheltered from poor grades, providing they come not because of the opinions you hold, but because of your failure to defend them in accordance with the accepted standards of Socratic debate. Nor will I pay to protect you from poor grades if they are the result of your failure to support your argument to the academic standards that are the foundation of a liberal education.

That is not just my selfish opinion: it is stated differently, but that’s the fine print that comes when you sign your name to your enrollment forms.

An American university is not a four-year vocational school for entitled, sheltered, pampered members of the managerial class. It is a program to inculcate in you the intellectual rigor you require to take on positions of responsibility and leadership. That program is conducted via the time-honored means of adversity, challenge, debate, growth, and learning.

So if you lack the requisite discernment and maturity, if your own opinions and self-image are so fragile that you are unable to handle intellectual challenge, may I suggest, with love and respect, that maybe you are not yet ready for a university experience, and that perhaps you should pursue a different path until such time as you are ready?

So leave.

Or, better yet, get over it. Go back to class/your dorm/the library/the coffee house. Stand up. Shout your opinions. Make yourself count. Voice your anger. Fight injustice. Go to class. Learn from your professors and your adversaries how to make your voice not just heard but persuasive. And grow.

Because you may not have noticed it, but the world is not a safe place. In fact, it is getting more dangerous by the minute. The only way you will save it is by learning – and learning early – to live in a world filled with people who think, do, and express things that you find personally execrable. More important, you will need to be able to discern between someone who comes to those believes honestly, sincerely, and thoughtfully; and those who espouse their beliefs out of fear, greed, and/or ignorance.

Hail, California, and have a nice day.

[Stepping off of soapbox.]

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Clean-up time

Not saying goodbye. Oh, well.
Not saying goodbye. Oh, well.

I’m not a Democrat, but from my vantage point about a biscuit to the right of the American centerline, it seems that DNC could use a Frank Slade flamethrower. Something akin to what Bill Clinton did in November and December of 1992. With the support of a group of Democrats who recognized that the New Deal Democratic Party was of declining relevance, Clinton helped rescue the party from over a decade in the political wilderness.

What the Dems need right now is someone who understands that the country has been re-aligned. The Clinton Coalition is no longer the answer. It is time for a new coalition to emerge, one that can champion the middle class and the aspirations of the working class without succumbing to a reliance on stale policy nostrums.

Perhaps that change is beginning. Nothing, however, could signal the opposite intention more forcefully than the retention of Nancy Pelosi as minority leader in the House for the 115th Congress. In both style and substance she is a testament to a bygone era, and lacks the finesse or credibility to build coalitions across the aisle. She is, indeed, the largest stumbling block to a bipartisan Capitol Hill counterbalance to a Trump White House.

As such, I would wager that if Trump White House manages to make it through his first year without laying waste to the nation (or the world,) wise Democrats will find a way to either tame or neutralize Pelosi, or get rid of her completely.

The Republic of Mischief

We hear constantly from our politicians and from the Saudis and their allies about the need to “counter” or “contain” Iran, but the reality is that Iran’s government has done a fine job of alienating almost the entire region and greatly reducing whatever influence they may have had as recently as ten years ago.

Source: The Hawkish Fantasy of an Iranian ‘Empire’ | The American Conservative

All true and fair. An Iranian empire is, at this point in time, probably a Neocon’s wet dream more than a genuine possibility.

But let’s not forget that Iran has the motive and opportunity to create considerable mischief, death, and destruction even if it never expands an inch beyond its current borders.

At the very least, we should be wary.

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