On Fraternity

August 4, 2008 at 9:52 am

Danny Kruger, a special adviser to David Cameron — leader of the British conservative Party — has penned an excellent essay that American conservatives could learn a lot from. Now before any of my friends get angry and point out that the British conservatives are playing fast and loose with conservative principles when it comes to their policy prescriptions, let me say, I agree. However, that does not discount the ideas that Kruger has put forth in this essay.

On Fraternity puts the focus where it should be: making government work for people.

The battle of ideas is not over but entering a new and more interesting phase, according to Danny Kruger, special adviser to Conservative Party leader David Cameron MP. In the late 20th century, politics was the clash between Liberty on one hand and Equality on the other – a battle over the respective roles of the individual and the state. This remains the basic axis of our politics. But rather than a straightforward clash between Liberty and Equality, politics today is a contest for possession of the principle beyond them both: Fraternity. 

In his booklet On Fraternity, published by the independent think-tank Civitas, Kruger sketches the philosophical framework of the new battle of ideas, drawing on the writings of Locke, Burke and Hegel. He argues that Liberty, not Equality, is the natural ally of Fraternity, and that individual freedom, not state coercion, best protects the institutions of belonging and promotes the habits of solidarity.

At the heart of Kruger’s argument is a fundamentally correct understanding of human anthropology.  We are at our best when we are connected to others. We need fraternity. Fraternity provides the proper context for learning, for growing and for becoming properly socialised. The result is a vibrant and healthy civil society.

Society today is headed in the opposite direction, where individials are increasingly alientated from community, from family and therefore from society. No man is an island, and Kruger understands that. He argues that conservative policies are the proper prescription for reconnecting the isolated man with his community.

Of course the Left has hijacked this language. Liberal politicians talk of helping the least of these in society. They talk of social obligations and responsibility. But underneath their rhetoric is an unmistakeable truth: In the name of equal outcomes (instead of opportunities) the state will assume these obligations, not individuals. Or as Kruger writes, the promise of the modern liberal is that the state will erect “a great steel citadel to house everyone together and equally.” Behind this steel monstrosity, individuals will be protected from the “harsh winds of reality.”

Like most liberal prescriptions, this one hurts those it purports to help. The poor are further disconnected from communities as the state assumes the obligations that should be those of the community. The isolated in society are subjected to more loneliness, as their only connection with the society at large is through large and unfamiliar federal programs that create dependency and rob both the recipient and the would-be giver of the rewards that come with real charity on a personal level.

In this picture, the state with all its grandiose intentions is nothing more than a thief and deceiver. With its rhetoric about society it promises something that it has not the capacity to deliver and instead it indiscriminately doles out the addictive poison of federal aid with the purpose of nourishing itself, not society.

Kruger is on to something here. I highly recommend his essay, On Fraternity.

PS - For those of you still subscribed to this feed, you will be seeing the resumption of posts as my employment has changed. I won’t be as frequent as I used to be, but I do intend to write a few posts a week at least.

Dem leadership race

November 16, 2006 at 10:31 am

Hotline on Call reports that two independent sources are now saying that John Murtha’s campaign has conceded they will come up short this morning. If that does indeed happen and Steny Hoyer pulls it out, a serious message will have been sent to Nancy Pelosi from her Democrat colleagues: what you say from on high is not gospel.

It will also mean that all the tough talk from Jim Moran was just that, talk.

And finally, it may mean that there will be some real opportunities for conservatives to work with some of the more moderate Democrats in this majority. On that subject, it is worth noting this Roll Call story:

In an effort to boost their influence in the sharply divided chamber, members of the moderate Republican and Democratic House factions indicated Wednesday that the two groups may coordinate efforts in the 110th Congress and could move to create a formal bipartisan coalition in the new session.

Members of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition and the centrist Republican Tuesday Group met in advance of the Nov. 7 elections, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) said Wednesday, to discuss areas where the groups could align.

The key for conservatives will be finding popular conservative — not squishy moderate — legislation that centrist coalitions will be able to support.

UPDATE: Murtha got whooped, 149-86 and Pelosi suffers her first defeat very early.

Big day for House Dems

November 16, 2006 at 9:15 am

Who will be the next House majority leader? Liberal John Murtha or moderate Steny Hoyer? That is the question before the House Democratic caucus this morning as the gather in the Cannon House Office Building. And the side story here is Nancy Pelosi who is doing everything in her power to elect Murtha (who was instrumental in getting Pelosi the top Democratic position in 2001).

Roll Call reports:

Both Murtha and Hoyer and their supporters spent much of Wednesday shoring up votes — nearly 80 Democrats have publicly endorsed Hoyer, while more than 20 have backed Murtha’s bid — and working the handful of lawmakers believed to remain undecided in the hours leading up to the vote.

“Things have moved significantly in the past few days,” asserted Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio), who has backed Murtha in the contest. Another Murtha operative, Rep. Jim Moran (Va.) suggested that the race remained tight, but predicted the Pennsylvania lawmaker would nonetheless win. “Things are close for us, they’re OK,” he said.

But Murtha also spent Wednesday deflecting questions over his involvement in the Abscam scandal of the early 1980s, in which he was caught on videotape being offered a $50,000 bribe by an undercover FBI agent. Murtha, who never was charged in the case but was named as an unindicted co-conspirator, has maintained he did nothing wrong.

Murtha also surprised some moderate Democrats on Wednesday, asserting at a Blue Dog Coalition meeting that an ethics and lobbying reform bill touted by party leaders was “total crap,” but said that he would work to enact the legislation — despite having opposed an earlier iteration on the House floor — because Pelosi supports it,

“Even though I think it’s total crap, I’ll vote for it and pass it because that’s what Nancy wants,” Murtha said in reference to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, a cornerstone of the Democrats’ legislative agenda in the 110th Congress.

Regarding Murtha’s “total crap” comment…maybe he isn’t all that bad, as, in my opinion, that mish-mash of a bill is a completely political exercise designed to dupe the public rather than reform Congress. There are better ways to clean up Congress.

The Hill has more on the deepening divisions in the Democratic Party:

House Democrats head to the ballot box today to elect their majority leader, with many of them fretting that the contentious race has split their caucus into two warring camps, one allied with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the other with Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), regardless of today’s outcome.

The race has reinforced longstanding divisions between different factions in the caucus, members and observers said, and has diverted their attention from a positive message they hoped to project just days after winning control of the House…

…Many Democrats were dismayed at the ever more heated and at times ugly battle between two of their most senior members, much of it playing out on national television.Some Hoyer backers questioned Pelosi’s political judgment, arguing that the effort to “purge” Hoyer from the leadership would damage caucus unity.

“It’s a terrible way to start. It’s a lose-lose situation. Either way she has polarized the caucus,” said one House Democrat allied with Hoyer.

“You’re going to be more likely to question her after something like this that is so clearly bad for us and could have been avoided,” another commented.

The situation reminded more than one lawmaker of a remark made once by former Rep. Mo Udall (D-Ariz.): “I have learned the difference between a cactus and a caucus. On a cactus, the pricks are on the outside.”

Chuck Schumer gets it

November 15, 2006 at 11:38 am

The New York Observer reports:

More than the inability to influence Iraq policy or the President’s tax cuts, Chuck Schumer says that the single greatest failure of the Democrats as an opposition party was allowing Samuel Alito to join the Supreme Court.

“Judges are the most important,” said Mr. Schumer, who orchestrated the implausible Democratic takeover of the Senate last week. “One more justice would have made it a 5-4 conservative, hard-right majority for a long time. That won’t happen.”

From now on, all the President’s judicial appointments will need to meet the requirements of Mr. Schumer, the Park Slope power broker who has happily accepted the mantle of chief architect for the Democrats’ effort to build a majority for the 2008 elections and beyond.

Unfortunately, this is indeed what was lost when Republicans could not hold on to the Senate. Schumer is no idiot. He understand perhaps better than anyone in his party that the liberal agenda will die without activist liberal judges. His threat to veto the next Alito is not idle and should Bush get the opportunity to nominate another conservative to the court, it will take a minor miracle to overcome the Senate’s new liberal overlords.

Here is a scarier scenario than a liberal filibuster: the White House, recognizing this threat, could decide to capitulate and nominate a liberal. Not only would that eviscerate the progress conservatives have made with the Supreme Court, it would irreparably damage the Republican coalition for decades to come.

And don’t think Schumer doesn’t know all of this.

Moran the enforcer

November 14, 2006 at 10:36 am

Jim Moran is talking tough on behalf of Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha. The total liberal takeover of the Democratic Party moves closer to completion:

House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will ensure that Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) wins his race for majority leader, a key Murtha ally said Monday night.”She will ensure that they [the Murtha camp] win. This is hard-ball politics,” said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), a longtime Murtha supporter. “We are entering an era where when the Speaker instructs you what to do, you do it.”

Pelosi recently endorsed Murtha’s bid for majority leader against House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), but it was unclear whether she would use her clout as the first Democratic Speaker in 12 years to help Murtha win or whether her letter simply expressed a personal preference as a favor to Murtha.

Pelosi’s move was deliberate, Moran said, and she was already leaning on her colleagues to affect the outcome.

“Yes, she’s making calls to people. She is contacting people and letting them know that it’s an unequivocal letter,” Moran said.

Specter doesn’t get it

November 9, 2006 at 6:28 pm

Arlen Specter looks at the disasterous results on Tuesday for the GOP and concludes that it is time for his party to move to the left:

“We have just witnessed a seismic earthquake,” Specter said in an address to the Committee of Seventy, an election-watchdog group, at the Union League in Philadelphia. “There will have to be a fundamental re-evaluation of what is going on in Iraq.”

President Bush and Congress will have to find a way to stabilize Iraq, Specter said. “The Iraqis have to know we can’t be there forever,” he said.

In addition to the war, which he called a key factor in the losses of fellow Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and others, Specter said his party will have to become “a lot more progressive and a lot less ideological.”

Specter commended Santorum for his candor, but said Pennsylvania’s junior senator paid the price at the polls.

“Rick took a lot of controversial positions,” Specter said. “You saw the results yesterday.”

He blamed close Senate races in Virginia and Montana, as well as the loss of Missouri Republican Sen. Jim Talent, on the party’s opposition to stem-cell research. Specter, a cancer survivor, strongly supports federal spending on such research.

On other issues, he said Congress needs to take a closer look at how it spends federal dollars, noting that he is “one step away” from becoming chairman of the Appropriations Committee. More money needs to be spent on cancer research, infrastructure, health care and education, he said.

This reaction should come as a surprise to nobody. The moderates in the GOP caucus were prepared to make this argument for a while. And Arlen Specter in particular is prone to this type of talk. After all, this is the same Arlen Specter who after passing a budget busting amendment last year that he admitted was a “gimmick” declared the Republican Party “principally moderate, if not liberal.”

The latest comments from Specter are giving conservatives on the hill real heartburn. When Specter ascended to the Chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee he had some good conservative staffers forced upon him as well as other pressures in order to get the top spot. Now that the GOP is in the minority in the Senate Specter is said to be untethered from those restraints. This is cause for alarm, as he will be the principle negotiator with the new committee chairman, liberal Pat Leahy.

Conservative hill types are worried about an unhinged liberal Arlen Specter negotiating with liberal Leahy on behalf of conservatives. And they are right to worry. This scenario has trouble for conservative nominees written all over it. The worry is so great, that rumblings about replacing Specter have surfaced. But that would require very forceful action from the Senate’s new leadership who have yet to even be elected. There will be serious hesitancy to rock the boat so early unless the groundswell grows to levels unable to be ignored.

Pelosi’s first 100 days

October 26, 2006 at 9:24 am

This compilation of Nancy Pelosi’s agenda items that would be enacted in her first 100 days as Speaker seems about right.

The liberals are coming to town, oh my!

October 19, 2006 at 10:53 am

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll foreshadows a disastrous mid-term election for Republicans resulting in liberal control of the House of Representatives for the first time in a dozen years. Indeed, if the polls are to be believed, Democrats led by liberal leaders like Nancy Pelosi, will soon wield power in the nation’s capital.

When and if they wield that power, what will they do? Recently, House Republicans compiled a list of Democrat-supported bills that Republicans have kept bottled up.

“This list of the bills most likely to be championed by committee chairmen in a Pelosi-led House of Representatives would be great fodder for the latenight talk show hosts if it weren’t true,” House Majority Whip Roy Blunt said. Blunt’s right, the liberal list, when taken as a whole, should make even Congress’s most outspoken liberals blush.

So let’s run down the liberal to-do list:

Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act — H.R. 3760: Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and 74 Democratic cosponsors propose a new “Department of Peace and Nonviolence” as well as “National Peace Day.” Cosponsors include three would-be Democratic Chairmen: John Conyers (Judiciary), George Miller (Education and the Workforce), and Charlie Rangel (Ways and Means).

Gas Stamps — H.R. 3712: Jim McDermott (D-WA) and eight Democratic cosponsors want a “Gas Stamps” program similar to the Food Stamps program to subsidize the gasoline purchases of qualified individuals.

Less Jail Time for Selling Crack Cocaine - H.R. 2456: Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and 23 Democratic cosponsors want to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for possessing, importing, and distributing crack cocaine. John Conyers, the would-be Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill, is a cosponsor.

Voting Rights for Criminals - H.R. 1300: John Conyers (D-MI) and 32 Democratic cosponsors, and H.R. 663: Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and 28 Democratic cosponsors would let convicted felons vote. Rep. John Conyers is the would-be Democratic Chairman of the Judiciary Committee which would consider this legislation.

Expand Medicare to Include Diapers — H.R. 1052: Barney Frank (D-MA) supports Medicare coverage of adult diapers. Barney Frank is the would-be Chairman of the Financial Services Committee.

Nationalized Health Care - H.R. 4683: John Dingell (D-MI) and 18 Democratic cosponsors want to expand Medicare to cover all Americans. John Dingell is the would-be Democratic Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee who along with cosponsors Charlie Rangel, would-be Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Henry Waxman, would-be Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, would have jurisdiction over the proposal.

Federal Regulation of Restaurant Menus — H.R. 5563: Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and 25 Democratic cosponsors authorize federal regulation of the contents of restaurant menus.

Taxpayer Funded Abortions & Elimination of all Restrictions on Abortion, Including Parental Notice - H.R. 5151: Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and 66 Democratic cosponsors want to overturn even minimal restrictions on abortion such as parental notice requirements. The bill would also require taxpayer funding of abortions through the various federal health care programs. John Conyers, the would-be Chairman of Judiciary Committee which has jurisdiction over the bill, is an original cosponsor.

Bill of Welfare Rights — H.J. Res. 29-35: Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) proposes a Soviet-style “Bill of Welfare Rights,” enshrining the rights of full employment, public education, national healthcare, public housing, abortion, progressive taxation, and union membership. On some these measures, Rep. Jackson is joined by up to 35 Democratic cosponsors, including would-be Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers.

Now, I am under no illusions that should Democrats control the House, this list of liberal legislation will necessarily become law. Certainly, the President would love the opportunity to veto any one of these terrible ideas in the event that it actually reached his desk. But the list does give us a peek into the lifeblood of the liberal caucus that drives the Democratic Party and it is important to note that the above list is only legislation. If liberals retake the House, it is the people themselves running the show who we should be concerned about.

Exhibit A would be the entire crop of liberal committee chairmen.

Charles Rangel and his 94 percent ACLU rating would control the purse string at the Ways and Means Committee. Goodbye free trade, goodbye tax cuts and hello to the return of the Great Society!

John Conyers, a 100 percenter at ACLU and the AFL-CIO, would run the Judiciary Committee. Borders, prepare to be opened, goodbye Patriot Act and Native Hawaiians prepare to be granted the right to secede from the Union.

Rangel and Conyers are to of the best examples, but other would-be committee chairman are equally liberal, if not as notorious.

This scenario only looks at the House, but should the Senate flip, liberals like Patrick Leahy would have a field day destroying the progress conservatives have made with the courts.

UPDATE: The Republican Study Committee has released another list of liberal bills introduced by House Dems that further makes this point. The list is pasted in the extended section (a couple are duplicates), my favorite is the Tupac Shakur legislation!: Read the rest of this entry »

Bloggers love Bubba

September 13, 2006 at 2:28 pm

Liberal bloggers who recently met with Bill Clinton were mesmerized with the smooth talking Arkansan. Danny Glover has the details.