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The Coming Multi-party System

January 24, 2020

Our Two-Party system emerged in 1796 when the Federalists were challenged by Democratic-Republicans, which suggested that they were more fully committed to extending the Revolution to ordinary people. John Adams was elected President with 71 electoral votes defeating Thomas Jefferson with 68.

The election of 2016 revealed that “Celebrity” was something to be reckoned with, not longstanding service to party, and the reason is clear: our party system no longer generates leaders.

Challenged by a Celebrity the nomination of a Party-regular as a candidate will lose.

The good aspect of Celebrity is that it is not long lasting.

The election of 2018 which saw the election of more Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives than were elected in 1964, was a clear rebuke of the Celebrity elected in 2016.

That, I believe, is the first sign that the U.S. Senate will change Parties in 2020 and that the Democrat candidate will win. They will do two things:  1) Impeach and Convict President Trump if he is re-elected and 2) abolish the Electoral College.

Our system of limited government will be transformed into a plebiscitary democracy. In future elections we may see the growth of a Social Democrat Party and Libertarian Party and a founding of a National Conservative Party.

Coalitions with these Parties with Democrat and Republican Parties will shape American politics.

At the state level in New York the Conservative Party surpassed the Liberal Party in numbers of votes and elected Conservative Party candidates to the U.S. Senate, James Buckley and Al D’Amato.

During those years, I registered as a Republican, but voted the Conservative Party line in general elections.

Who will lead the Social Democrat Party?

New York Rep.  Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders

Who will lead the National Conservative Party?

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz

The Libertarian Party was formed in 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, by David Nolan. As of November 2017, 154 Libertarians held elected offices in 33 states. In the 2016 election,  Gary Johnson was the party’s presidential nominee and William Weld was the Vice President Nominee.

I expect a Women’s Party will be founded by Mika Brzezinski in time to present candidates for election in 2024.

 

 

Good News “Happens”

January 17, 2020

It gives me great pleasure to report that my most recent book has been accepted by Hamilton Books. Rise and Fall of the American Empire is a synoptic assessment of challenges to our constitutional order that are transforming the American regime from a constitutional regime into an imperial Order.

Rise and Fall of the American Empire is in keeping with traditional “Conservative” assessments of  FDR and his foreign policy mistakes, and, in particular, his colossal misjudgment of Stalin. I’m quite negative, however, on Abraham Lincoln, but that’s well-based in my assessment of the influence of German idealism on the Transcendentalists, and, the scholarship of Walter McDougall and Richard Gamble.

Of course, our current President is at the center of our budding imperial Order, though he is more an accidental person of Celebrity than a perpetrator of Empire.  Still, the GOP will never recover from what Newt Gingrich calls Trump’s “hostile takeover” of the Republican Party. That makes the year 2020 a good time to consider spending much of this year in Europe.

High Tribute for Roger Scruton

January 14, 2020

British political conservative, Sir Roger Scruton, has died from cancer at age 75. Though reviled by the British Left, his views were given greater attention than the American Left gives to our political conservatives. Here the Left ignores what intellectuals on the Right have to say.

Ideas for us Americans are incidental to our lives. In England they are the essence of life. Why is that the case and why are so many British intellectuals so very articulate? I think of Christopher Hitchens, for example, who on some topics was quite extreme, but always exciting to hear.

Oxford and Cambridge have an influence, but an equal influence is the great tradition of British grammar schools that educate young Britains before they go to university. Unlike our own public schools that warehouse American students, the British schools bring out the best in their best students.

Roger Scruton was one of those students and he is honored by this tribute by Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal for January 13.

“Box me up, Scotty”

January 14, 2020

For some, thinking about  funerals is distasteful, but a good many of my friends and acquaintances are passing on, so it has occurred to me that I, too, someday may meet them “on the other side.”

But , how will I get there?

A classmate from graduate school who died last year found a husband and wife in Indiana who made simple wooden coffins. Priced at $1,000 and $1,500 hundred each, he chose the more expensive model.

At a Costco I frequent, until recently, they placed nice ones in the color “red” at the exit. Telephone orders were taken and for $600 Costco would deliver one to your garage for later use.

Recently, I had a better idea.

I’ve always admired the late Steve Jobs whose brilliance is visible in Apple PCs, iPads and iPhones. I have a couple of boxes of old iPhones that are beautifully designed.

Why not  expand their size and market them as “iCoffins”?

Imagine the surprise on the faces of grave robbers when, a hundred or two hundred years in the future, they come upon my iCoffin expecting a trove of 21st century iPhones and find  me.

I think I’ll write to Apple suggesting that.

“Golden” Religious Colleges

January 10, 2020

Out of curiosity I decided to find what it costs to attend a religious college.  As a believer in Jesus Christ who attended a Missouri Synod Lutheran school from grade 1-8, I was taught what it meant to follow in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth.

That meant that I also believe in “Providence,” that God acts in our lives, and I believe it was Providence that led me through several “accidents” to choose the career that I did and that I chose to attend undergraduate college at Pitt and graduate school of Notre Dame.

I was graduated from high school in Miami, Florida because my father moved to Florida from Pittsburgh.  My grades were not terribly good and had we remained in Pittsburgh, I would not have been admitted to the University of Pittsburgh.  But, I applied as an “out of state student,” and passed muster. I believe that was Providential.

At Pitt I became a political conservative, largely due to my interest in politics and the influence of a classmate whose parents were Taft Republicans,  read National Review and admired William F. Buckley.  At Notre Dame, in my very first semester, I found myself in classes with Fr. Stanley Parry, CSC, Eric Voegelin and Gerhart Niemeyer.  Only Fr. Parry was Catholic, but all three taught me classical political philosophy and Niemeyer and Parry invited me to attend early meetings of the Philadelphia Society.

That, too, was Providential, and I have enjoyed teaching and writing about Plato, Aristotle and St. Augustine, and recently read deeply about how the West was shaped by Christian believers after the fall of the Roman Empire.  All that occurred, I believe, because God intervened in my life. How, then, do we acquire the education that teaches us to live Christian lives?

Unfortunately, some of our better religious colleges where we might expect to learn this are not very interested in educating their students at reasonable cost.  They have all “gone along to get along” and done very little to reform how they serve the financial needs of their students.

The colleges and universities on this list are representative of what it costs to get a good education as well as the studies that will make us better human beings and American citizens. Frankly, it angers me that a college education costs as much as these institutions charge just for tuition.

2019-2020
2 Semesters Ounces of Gold
Pepperdine University + Malibu CA 55650 36
Colorado Christian —Lakewood CO 46950 30
Gonzaga–Seattle, WA 44280 28
Valpariso–Valpariso IN 40600 26
Southern Methodist–Dallas TX 36458 23
The King’s College–Manhattan 36000 23
Catholic University–DC 32934 21
Texas Christian–Ft. Worth TX 31275 20
Allegheny College–Meadville PA 24415 16
Price of Gold per Ounce   1/10/2019  $            1,559

 

Emperor Trump

January 10, 2020

Yesterday, an unusual spotlight was placed on two United States Senators, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). Both are known for their commitment to limited government as defined by the Constitution of the United States.  Sen. Paul has expressed opposition to the killing of American citizens without trial by a jury, even if they are Islamic terrorists operating abroad.  Sen. Lee is the sponsor of the “Article I Project” which affirms that ‘the Founders made the Congress the ‘First Branch’ of the federal government–the most powerful and the most accountable.’”

Both Senators expressed their disdain for the manner in which the Trump Administration exercised military force in violation of the power of Congress to declare war.  President Trump revealed his surprise that “Mike” took that position and that should tell us something about divisions within the Republican majority in the U. S. Senate.

For starters, there is no love lost between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who opposed Sen. Paul’s election by supporting his own candidate.  If Sen. Paul and Sen. Lee join Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and vote to convict President Trump in an Impeachment trial, we will better understand the difference between a government whose powers are limited by a Constitution and unbridled power of an Imperial Order.

President Trump periodically reveals that he prefers an Imperial Order and his belief that the killing of the Iranian military leader, Qasem Suleimani, was not in violation of the power of the Congress to declare war is one example.

An Empire treats its people as “subjects” to be ruled; a Constitutional order treats them as citizens to be governed.  That distinction is lost on Donald Trump who doesn’t appreciate such fine points and decided to risk going to war with Iran–without Congressional approval.

He may have been right in taking that risk, but he did not consult members of Congress.  There are a number of arguments in support of that lack of consultation, but a President willing to take risks should prepare in advance for opposition by creating a group of advisors whom he consults before he violates the powers of Congress designed to limit the Chief Executive.

Knowing that “Mike” is a strict constructionist would place him in that group of advisors and thus a phone call before committing military aggression might have precluded “Mike’s” complaints and those of Sen. Rand Paul.

All that is “over the head” of Donald Trump and that should worry us when he kills an Islamic radical or cozies up to the Emperors of Turkey, the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China or the Emperor of North Korea.  Something is going on in Donald Trump’s head that should worry us unless, of course, the American regime has been transformed into an Imperial Order.  Or, he’s simply unfit to exercise Imperial powers.

If that is the case, we should all begin to practice saying, “Hail Caesar.”

The fat lady in Iran

January 8, 2020

In 2006, Calgary University Professor of government, Barry Cooper, developed a course titled Modern Terrorism that was based on his book, New Political Religions, or an Analysis of Modern Terrorism.

Professor Cooper examines the self-understanding of two major terrorist groups, the Japanese terrorists, Aum Shinrikyo and the so-called jihadists or Islamists, which includes the al-Qaeda network and its affiliates.

I was attracted to Cooper’s analysis because he bases his analysis on the political philosophy of Eric Voegelin.  Indeed, the title of the book is meant to echo Voegelin’s early analysis of the Nazis, The Political Religions and Professor Cooper’s approach is unlike studies offered in International Relations or Strategic Studies courses.

Most of those studies on the problem of terrorism and counterterrorism are, understandably, concerned with what terrorists do, how they do it, who supports them and how to stop them.  That information is valuable and useful for understanding a great deal about terrorism. But Cooper’s approach considers the self-understanding of terrorists based on the perspective afforded by political philosophy and using the insights of Eric Voegelin.

Cooper and Voegelin are relevant in light of President Trump’s preemptive attack on the Iranian leader Qassem Suleimani and his press conference this morning. President Trump began by stating that as long as he is president Iran will not develop nuclear weapons.

Iran’s response was moderate–and unanticipated–which should give  us pause and ask what is the motivation of the Islamic regime in Iran?

Radical Islam as seen in the actions of Osama bin Laden and the coordination of Islamic radicals throughout the Middle East by Qassem Suleimani is motivated by a political religion that the current leadership in Iran shares.  In that context, Iran’s decision to moderate its response is not a sign of change of heart. We should expect President Trump to respond again.  In other words, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.