An ‘Axelrod’ – something to stop the wheels coming off?

Special Guest Post by Martin Day

As the UK’s Labour Party gets ever more desperate to steal a march in the Polls over their hated Conservative Party rivals, Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband has turned to ‘one of America’s finest political operators’ (so he tells us), Mr David Axelrod.

Miliband’s hope is that some of the success Axelrod had with Obama over the past two US Elections will rub-off on the UK’s beleaguered Labour Party.

Understandably Axelrod’s background has suddenly become of interest to the MSM in the UK – much to the upset of Miliband. Unfortunately Axelrod has apparently in the past lobbied hard in the US on behalf of Energy Corporates seeking to impose higher prices on American citizens. This in itself would be unfortunate were it not for the fact that Miliband and his Labour Party were recently campaigning against ‘greedy energy companies’ and attacking the UK Government for not freezing energy prices and imposing fines on UK energy suppliers – awkward to say the least…

Things didn’t really improve when the official Press Release from Labour Party HQ announcing the appointment of Axelrod to a disinterested British public managed to misspell his name as ‘David Alexrod’ – oh dear..

The British Blogosphere is deriving great amusement from Miliband’s latest hire with suggestions that Axelrod actually thought he was signing-up to campaign for Ed Miliband’s smarter and much more popular Brother (and former UK Foreign Secretary under the Blair Administration), David Miliband. Axelrod has already been dubbed ‘Mr Axlegrease – hired to stop the wheels coming off Labour’s campaign’.

Whether Axelrod’s experience of America’s two-Party political system will translate comfortably into the UK’s now effectively four-Party political system, only time will tell. The anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) regularly polls double the points of the Liberal Democrat Party which currently shares Government with the Conservatives. As such, a 4-way battle based upon EU membership issues may see Axelrod unable to get a grip of what really motivates UK Voters.

With the UK going to the Polls next year to elect a new Government, Mr Axelrod faces an interesting 12 months. One wonders if one of his first recommendations will be that the UK Labour Party do indeed replace Ed Miliband with his more popular Brother, David?…

 

Martin Day is a former UK Government Press & Media Advisor who worked in Westminster under both the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown Premierships

 

Everything Stops for Tea…

Martin Day, Guest Post

‘Martin Day is a former UK Government Press & Media Advisor who worked in Westminster under both the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown Premierships’

As a London based British Conservative with an abiding interest in the way centre-right politics plays out on both sides of the ‘Pond’, I’ve been fascinated at the way conservatism in both the USA and the UK seems to have lost its connection to its grassroots in recent years. In the US, the Tea Party has grown out of a frustrated perception by traditional Republican voters (rightly or wrongly) that their Party no longer represents their avowed libertarian beliefs of small government, low taxes and the right & responsibility of the individual over that of an overbearing State. Meanwhile, here in the UK, The UK Independence Party (or ‘UKIP’ as they are universally known) have taken an almost identical position and attracted large swathes of deeply unhappy Conservative voters who see the current Prime Minister, David Cameron as being so far to the political left that he might as well go the whole-hog and quit the Conservative Party to join his Coalition Government partners, the left-leaning Liberal Democrat Party.

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The Joys of Youth?…

Christine Warner, Guest Post

‘Christine Warner is a political writer based in London, England and is Secretary of Republicans Abroad UK’

In a recent conversation with a junior congressman, I questioned the GOP’s lack of attention to wooing ‘Millennials’, those born 1982 to 2004, and was reminded of the Winston Churchill adage; “if you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

The congressman conceded that the GOP viewed the younger set as “unwinnable” and in fact, not a priority.  This logic seemed especially short-sighted given the disenchantment of much of the GOP’s base.  Millions of Republicans opted to stay home during the last election, indirectly voting for the incumbent, Barack Obama.[1]

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Is Hillary enabling Weiner?

A friend of mine attended a fund-raiser the other day for the Weiner campaign for NYC mayor. A lot of fairly big-time Democratic donors were there, which makes one think. Anyone who understands how state politics work in NY knows that someone like Weiner can’t expect to make a successful race without approval or at least acquiescence from the senior pols in the state, i.e. Hillary and Cuomo. So why were these very connected people already committing to Weiner? Has Weiner’s wife, who is at Hillary’s side every day, signalled that the former senator is on board? It would surely be useful to Hillary to have the mayor of NYC as a client. And we know that Hillary has a long history of tolerating and enabling bad behavior from the men around her, as long as they have the right politics.

How is Obama like Morsi and Erdogan?

All three lack a sense of what political theorists call ‘democratic reciprocity’. This means that the party in power does not use its power to tyrannize the its opponents and does not use its temporary power to destroy its opponents. In other words it observes the common good and tries to win re-election by serving the people as a whole. Erdogan and Morsi probably still could muster majorities in an election, but they have lost democratic legitimacy because they’ve used their power to destroy opposition to Islamism. Both began by promising tolerance to secularists and Islamic moderates but both have broken their promises. Hence the large demonstrations against them, exacerbated in Egypt by economic mismanagement.

Obama has also failed the test of democratic reciprocity. Instead of working with those he disagrees with, he’s demonized them. He seems incapable of regarding as legitimate any positions outside his own progressive bubble. He and his inner circle can’t comprehend conservatives or libertarians, he processes everything they say or do in leftish ideological terms. They are nothing but agents of greed and oppression, obstacles to progress as he and his friends define it. In other words, he can’t comprehend, or doesnt’ want to recognize, the precious principle of a ‘loyal opposition’, the idea of legitimate disagreement.

Two examples. (1) Obamacare’s refusal to allow an exception for Catholic institutions such as hospitals, day care centers and orphanages, forcing them to fund abortion pills and birth control. This violates the free exercise of religion guaranteed under the constitution, but it also is an example of the tyrannous exercise of power: forcing consciences in a way that has been rejected in the West since the time of John Locke and Spinoza.

(2) The IRS scandal. We know enough by now to conclude that the targeting can’t have started without some direction from the White House. What it means is that the IRS has worked to suppress conservative and libertarian political activity – and the Republican vote in 2012, as Peggy Noonan argues. In other words, the most feared agency in the federal government was used by politicians of one party to limit the political speech of its opponents. This was an abuse of government power, and it’s true that such abuses happen on a daily basis. (Which is not to say you should just shrug your shoulders about the ordinary abuses of power.) But the IRS scandal is not any ordinary abuse of power. It wasn’t just a case of a president punishing individual political opponents; that we know has happened often enough before. This was different.  It was an attempt by a government agency to muzzle voices and cripple the party out of power. It was an inexcusable violation of the principle of democratic reciprocity.

If we tolerate this kind of thing we are on the way to one-party rule.

 

Some Wisdom from the Washington Times on Immigration

The Washington Times editorial staff ran a piece today that bracingly powers into the storm of compromise from all and sundry on the issue of amnesty for illegal aliens. Arguing that the Republicans have not lost recent elections because they took too hard a line on maintaining the rule of law and demanding that those here illegally go to the back of the line in their home countries, the Times wrote:

“You can support immigration reform for moral reasons, for philosophical reasons or for economic reasons,” says Republican strategist Mike McKenna. “But if you are a Republican and support it for political reasons, you are an idiot who cannot read or understand survey data.”

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, ever the voice of reason, suggests a step by step process rather than a grand do-it-all immigration reform bill. The Times, citing Obamacare as the last best reason for avoiding the Goliath bill approach, concludes:

Republicans must hold fast against the siren song of “compromise” that tries to sell amnesty as the ticket to electoral success. If it were, Senate Democrats would be the last to propose it.

A Solution in Search of a Problem

That is the glib assessment that liberals will give you when asked about the issue of voterID: a solution in search of a problem. They will point to the miniscule number of prosecuted cases of voter fraud and the even smaller number of convictions.

http://www.humanevents.com/2013/03/12/cincinnati-poll-worker-indicted-for-voting-for-obama-six-times/

But who polices voter integrity? If there is no mechanism for finding those who vote multiple times, other than random clumsiness (such at the woman in the story here who admitted in a television interview to voting twice) why *would* there be any indictments?

We did not lose the last presidential election because of voter fraud. But the integrity of the vote (or lack thereof) will harm us sooner or later.

VoterID is a foregone conclusion. Liberals should get used to the idea because arguing against it (even in their faux blase dismissive tones) will let everyone on to an ethic not of representation but of power at any cost.

 

Not Wanted at Harvard

The abridged version of this article was published as a Letter to the Editor in Harvard’s Crimson.

By LUCIANA E. MILANO

I am disappointed that The Crimson has not apologized for but instead continues to defend its juvenile editorial warning conservatives not to enroll at Harvard. Although The Crimson claims that the article’s purpose was to highlight the hypocrisy among alumni who wish to “score political points by maligning Harvard,” the article does not actually make this argument. The Crimson never mentions politicians and constituents who attack alumni for attending Harvard—from both sides of the aisle. A good version of the article would have presented a robust and honest discussion of H-bomb dropping in American politics.

But this is not what The Crimson argued. Instead, The Crimson explicitly warns conservatives to stay away from Cambridge on the grounds that students who are critical of Harvard should “neither apply, enroll, nor graduate from this fine institution.” The article’s logic is embarrassing, and the belittling and disparagement of conservative students is repugnant.

The editorial’s suggestion that students who are critical of the university should go elsewhere rests on two false assumptions: first, that solely conservative students disagree with the university; and second, that dissent is inherently problematic. There are countless examples of Harvard’s liberal students and alumni expressing discontent with the University. By its own logic, shouldn’t The Crimson’s message also apply to Al Gore, who has recently supported Divest Harvard? And surely the editors recognize that criticism can play a valuable role in righting wrongs. Certainly they wouldn’t condemn alumni who disagreed and criticized Harvard for its past exclusion of women and minorities? But by the Crimson’s logic, such criticism would constitute “episodes of treachery.” As a Hispanic female, it is difficult to imagine that I might not be studying at Harvard today, were not for vocal critics of past Harvard policies.

Perhaps the most arrogant and disrespectful claim in the article is the characterization of conservatives as “anti-intellectual.” The name-calling itself reveals the real anti-intellectualism at Harvard. It is not typically found among its conservatives, whose ideas and arguments are sharpened by constant scrutiny and criticism. Rather, it is found in the intolerance toward conservatives on campus and in the failure to engage the arguments and principles that guide conservative beliefs in serious debate.

In this respect, this editorial is not an outlier, but only the most brazen recent example of the preference for mindless bullying over authentic discussion. Many of Harvard’s students recognize the value—and necessity—of intellectual diversity, but it is discouraging to see that the editorial board of our campus’s newspaper does not.

Although The Crimson failed to acknowledge the vibrant community of conservatives that exists within Harvard, conservatives’ efforts and achievements merit recognition. As The Crimson has made clear, Harvard can be a “potentially scary place” for conservatives. But that has only made the conservative movement here stronger. Last semester, over twenty faculty and academic staff, ten student groups, and over one hundred student attendees began a new tradition: Harvard’s Conservative Reception. Yes, we are outnumbered, but that does not mean that we don’t belong at Harvard.

In a few weeks, students from across the globe will find out whether they have been accepted into Harvard’s Class of 2017. I urge The Crimson to reconsider its welcome message. Conservatives remain an integral part of Harvard, and they are encouraged to apply and enroll.

 

Luciana E. Milano ’14 is a government concentrator living in Pforzheimer House. She is President of The Harvard College Anscombe Society and Vice President of Speakers and Political Discorse for the Harvard Republican Club.

Why does no one seem to care about the tax deal’s impact on non-profits?

‘Tis passing strange at first sight. Current discussion in Washington about capping deductions threatens to limit drastically the amount of private funds  given to charities, non-profits and universities.  Why isn’t anyone talking about this outside of Foundationland? Why doesn’t the political world seem to care?

OK, Foundationland and the universities are generally 95% Democrat, so you wouldn’t expect the Republicans to care. It’s a little harder to explain why Democratic politicians and political websites aren’t complaining loudly.

Even we bleeding-heart libertarians ought to be protesting, at least to show that we’re not Randians. We are always trying hard to show why the usual choice between Randian hyper-egoism and statist pseudo-idealism excludes a huge, libertarian-friendly middle ground.

Thank to Rand’s status as the popular face of libertarianism, the assumption is widespread that the libertarian soul, insofar as libertarians can be said to have a soul, is a selfish one. Even many non-Randian libertarians after all embrace the doctrine, going back to Mandeville, that private vices make public virtues. Everyone pursuing his/her own interests makes the world a better place, at lease in a purely materialistic sense. The common good is nothing but the sum of private interests. A critic of this view might remark, and with justice, that it’s too bad the greatest good to the greatest number seems to require bad behavior from everyone.  That the only way to serve the human race is to give up on idealism and to serve yourself. The reaction of the neutral observer will be:  Really?  Since when is any society better off because everyone is behaving selfishly?

An excellent point. It shows why the first society dominated by free enterprise values, that of England in 18th century, produced the morally defective philosophy of utilitarianism.

Here’s a question:  does market liberalism lead ineluctably to utilitarianism?  Or to ask the question a different way, is John Galt the only possible product of a libertarian society?  If the state is brought under strict limits, as the founding fathers intended, and if citizens are allowed a maximum of liberty, including economic liberty, does that necessarily lead to a hyper-selfish individualism, a spiritual poverty, an end to idealism?

This is the lie we hear every day from statists, a subtle lie since it is never stated in so many words. It is merely implied that if you prefer a free economy, it must be for selfish reasons. If you don’t want to turn over half your income to the government for it to be ‘redistributed’ (i.e. used to pay for wars and professional busybodies, i.e. bureaucrats), it must because you have alternative, ‘selfish’ purposes in mind.

The lie is subtle, but at the same time it shows an astonishing ignorance of human nature and human history. The only way that human beings can be idealistic is if the government is the focus of their idealism? There is no idealism in religions, in sport, in private charities, in the Boy Scouts, in the Masonic Lodges, YMCAs, the Salvation Army, and thousands more such associations in civil society?

But the objection socialists have to such organizations is not that they are not idealistic in the required sense, of wanting to serve others.  The problem is who the idealists are and the principles on which they act.  From the statist point of view, the problem with non-state charities is that they are run by amateurs. They have no scientific knowledge of politics and other social sciences. They are not part of what H. G. Wells called the Open Conspiracy, the unspoken, often unconscious desire of socialists to control others and advance the Enlightenment project.

Open Conspirators want to create a Cosmopolis controlled by soi-disant intellectuals who base the legitimacy of their rule, like Plato’s philosopher-kings, on their superior scientific knowledge. In effect, they want to monopolize idealism for themselves; the worker-bees exist only to pay the taxes and to be taken care of by the state.  This is why the left of the Democratic Party is delighted to cripple private charities in the US via the new tax legislation. Open Conspirators want to destroy enemy cultures such as religions and (eventually) nation-states to build their Cosmopolis.  The universalist religion of multiculturalism is not so much intended to allow many cultures to flourish in peace together (an admirable goal) as to destroy the dominance of particular cultures in particular places. For them, that‘s bad, because a religion, if truly believed and acted on, is a site of resistance to Cosmopolis.

Some libertarians – the less thoughtful ones in my view – may well want a Randian world of egoistic individuals, but what libertarians as a whole want is to prevent a government takeover of civil society (in this respect agreeing with communitarians). They want people to be free to pursue their own idealisms, not be forced into idealisms chosen for them by bureaucrats and politicians. Noting the poor track-record of the state in protecting us from ourselves, they prefer to choose their own foods — or their own poisons if they like — make their own judgments about dangers to the environment, decide themselves how to spend their means on the needy, on the arts, on the common good.

Worse, statists fail to appreciate that the ‘hyperselfish’ Randian character they so deplore is in fact their own creation. It was the hypertrophy of the state during the early 20th century, with its ambitions to dominate every aspect of life, to create Soviet Man, that led to the perversion of human nature represented by the hyper-selfish kind of libertarian. John Galt is the mirror image of – an extreme reaction to — Soviet Man. But in the world of free minds and free markets advocated by libertarians, a world where bureaucrats were no longer bent on taking away personal liberty, the Randian character, perhaps, would wither away.

A Debt Ceiling Strategy for the House – Advice from Machiavelli

Here’s what someone who has spent a lifetime studying Machiavelli would advise the House leadership to do.

First, take a blood oath that under no circumstances will you raise the debt ceiling.  Next, pass Continuing Resolutions funding all non-discretionary spending and all the popular programs and spending (military salaries, national parks etc) that the Democrat media highlights whenever there is a threat of a government shutdown.  You can throw in spending for all your favorite weapons systems for good measure.  Then sit and wait.

When the Dems start wringing their hands about the House ‘shutting down the govt’, just say, ‘Pass the CRs.’  When they start weeping about all the elderly who will be denied their S.S. checks, say, ‘Pass the CRs’. When the press starts showing pictures of American families being turned away from national parks, say ‘Pass the CRs’. So the pressure will be on the Dems to pass the CRs and fund the government.  Then, since the debt ceiling is not going to move, Obama will be forced to decide what to cut.  It will have to come from all the budget items for which there is no CR. Say, funding for the IRS.  I would like to see Obama come before the nation to explain why funding for the IRS, or bureaucrats’ salaries in the Paperclip Procurement Agency,  is so desperately needed. Think how deliciously thrilling it will be to watch Obama cutting bureaucrats’ salaries at the Department of Departmental Affairs.

Another advantage: unlike other confrontations on the debt ceiling in the past, the bond markets will be thrilled at this display of fiscal discipline. Our bond rating may even go up.

The problem with this plan, of course, is that it doesn’t address the real problems, i.e. the dysfunctional tax code and entitlement spending. But I guess that after a few months of being forced to cut government programs (and being forced to defend their effectiveness), the Democrats will be ready to cut a deal on the real issues.