CK MacLeod's

Mattis: Not Ike, but the Right Shape

It is perfectly normal, and beyond that it is natural and altogether archetypical, for human communities in times of crisis to look for and seek to rally behind a commanding figure. The American electoral process is in many ways already the institutionalization of crisis even in the normal course of events, and this year, with one of the two major parties struggling to fight off a hostile takeover by a crypto-fascist and his movement, has had more of that character than usual.

About retired Marine General James Mattis I know little beyond the rough biographical outlines as provided in a recent Daily Beast column by John Noonan – “This Man Can Save Us From Trump – and Clinton” – promoting his potential presidential candidacy and comparing him to Eisenhower.

The first part, the part about knowing relatively little about him, is how I do know at least that the Eisenhower comparison is way off, since, at the time that “Ike” was nominated by the Republican Party, he was one of the most famous men in America. In the latter regard he somewhat resembled a certain Donald Trump, except that he earned his fame by commanding the combined armies of a victorious globe-spanning alliance, not by hosting a television show or placing his name on gaudy buildings. Perhaps Mattis should be better known than he is, but he is known presently only to a relative few. If he has a catchy one-syllable nickname, I do not know it. Unlike Eisenhower, a candidate or nominee Mattis, or his backers, would have to seek recognition.

I do not doubt that that task could be achieved, virtually overnight if need be, but until we know what he would stand for politically, and with whom, we cannot hope to understand the shape or potential of his candidacy. Read more ›

Posted in Featured, Political Philosophy, Politics Tagged with: , ,

Did Cruz Just (Finally) Cancel “The Pledge”?

Speaking of the Pledge, did Ted Cruz just cancel it?

Amid the furor, Cruz appeared to soften Friday on his pledge to support Trump if he’s the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

“I don’t make a habit out of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my family,” Cruz said.

He might need to write it in block letters and pastels, several times, to get Democrats to stop trolling him on the point, now a point d’honneur. For unclear reasons, despite the opportunity to seize the headlines while standing up to the “GOPe,” neither Cruz nor Kasich nor any of the past candidates has chosen to seize upon whichever latest ample pretext – unless Cruz now finally has done so.

Meanwhile, at least one of Trump’s habitually highly incorrect endorsers is signaling second thoughts. More to come?

Public Domain image from Wikipedia

Posted in Politics Tagged with: ,

A Correct Answer on the Pledge to Support

“Donald Trump has provided ample justification for any of us to extricate ourselves from that commitment, which was entered upon as a matter of honor between individuals devoted not just to the name of the Republican Party, but to its principles. At this point, however, the question is no longer relevant. After all I have said, and have still to say, about Mr.Trump, what meaning could my ‘support’ for him as eventual nominee possibly have?”

“Re-upping” and slightly polishing the content of a little tweet-sprinkle from yesterday, since the question keeps on being put forward, as if by rote. Condenses earlier discussion (in “Yes, Tragically: The Pledge to Support Even Trump” and “The Party Deconstructs“). Here’s today’s predicate:

Posted in Politics, Twitterei Tagged with: ,

Conservatism and the Plainly Visible

The political problem for American conservatives in this era seems to me more complex, but at the same time less intractable, than a simple juxtaposition of the visible (or “envisionable”) vs. the unseen.

My mostly-former colleague Dan Scotto develops a thesis on conservatism and “the unseen” that I think may be too coherent, or explain too suspiciously much, to be fully credible.

The debater’s “presumption of the status quo” is the classical conservative presumption, and adherence to it lends justification to the frequently heard claim that authentic conservatism is non- or anti-ideological, or pragmatic and utilitarian rather than idealistic and intellectual, especially in the American tradition: We care less, so the theory goes, whether the results fit any enunciated theory than that we actually prefer them over apparent alternatives. The argument was crucial to Michael Novak’s The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982), one of the best and arguably most influential intellectual cases for American non-intellectualism. Long-time readers at this site may recognize the contradiction or implicit paradox as typical and in multiple senses systematic: As a defense of  Americanism as an anti-ideological ideology, especially during the period of competition with communism, Novak’s argument was that democratic capitalism concretely delivered the goods, whether in the form of victory in war or a very tangibly higher standard of living even for the poor, than real existing alternatives, even if, from certain perspectives, those alternatives might look better “on paper” or “in the abstract.”

Read more ›

Posted in notes, Political Philosophy, Politics Tagged with: ,

Defense and Defense Mechanisms

If Indians and Japanese, Poles and Latvians, Israelis and Saudis are convinced that the United States damaged its deterrence and invited aggression — and that they must adjust their own policies accordingly — it almost doesn’t matter if Obama is right in insisting that Putin and Xi Jinping took no cues from him. The global conventional wisdom has created its own reality. Recent events have been reinforcing: If the president believes Putin’s recent military adventure in Syria had nothing to do with the 2013 decision, he is virtually alone.

So observes veteran foreign policy pundit Jackson Diehl, who says that at the time of the Syria reversal he was willing to believe the President might have “stumbled into a tactical victory,” but that he now sides with area experts and foreign ministers who hold the opposite view.

Diehl assesses the Obama Doctrine, or Jeffrey Goldberg’s Obama’s Obama Doctrine, as, in a word, neurotic – as much a psychological construct or defense mechanism as a policy – enabling the President to minimize the importance of any setbacks, the alternative being emotionally intolerable: Read more ›

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: , ,

Finding Lost WordPress Widgets after Core Upgrade

Just a quick note on fixing a problem affecting one of my favorite WordPress Plug-Ins in use at this site, and apparently causing problems with other Plug-Ins elsewhere in the WP universe.

Read more ›

Posted in WordPress Plug-Ins Tagged with: ,

Übertrolls – Leftwing Edition

blocked by deboer too

“You are blocked from following @freddiedeboer and viewing @freddiedeboer’s Tweets.”

Yesterday, Fredrik “Freddie” deBoer was tweeting out his newly pixeled attack on liberalism on behalf of leftism, and, quite in keeping with that posture, went from lashing out against self-styled “paleoliberal” Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute – for “not being interested in economic justice… really”1 – to Twitter-blocking Mark R. Yzaguirre, who had, inconceivably, insisted on arguing the merits of realized liberal democracy or social democracy vs. deBoer’s wish for something certainly much better (if not anywhere ever existent). I turned out to be next in line for the virtual executioner, apparently for my impertinence or impudence while taking notice – unless the real point for Mr. deBoer was satisfaction of sadistic or narcissistic compulsion, or psychological compensation, or imaginary validation of status perception, or all of the above.

Read more ›

Notes:

  1. []

Posted in Political Philosophy, Twitter Tagged with: ,

Add Amazon Affiliate Tags to WordPress Posts and Comments Automatically

Amazon Affiliate Tag is a handy little plug-in that will automatically – and retroactively – add the Amazon Tracking ID (which you need in order to cash in on the big Amazon affiliate bucks) to links to Amazon items in your site content.

Once you’ve installed the plug-in and added your Tracking ID on the simple settings page, you shouldn’t have to think about it again, and will be able to link freely to Amazon items without having to get pre-modified links from Amazon or adding the Tracking ID manually. In order to extend the functionality to your comments as well, you can add the following code to your theme functions.php file: Read more ›

Posted in WordPress Plug-Ins Tagged with: , ,

The Melancholic Anti-Interventionist

If the systematic application of the desired policy leaves even its proponents bitterly unsatisfied with and haunted by the tragedies and catastrophes it either produces or does nothing to avert, then its prospects may be dim. The main question may be which will prove intolerable first, the growing dissatisfaction, or the next catastrophe.

In “Ending the Mindset Is Hard,” the self-styled progressive foreign policy analyst/journalist Matt Duss credits the President with delivering on a promise first made as nominee: to challenge the “mindset that got us into war [in Iraq].” Yet Duss’s treatment reveals a problematic ambiguity or imprecision in his own preferred alternative to that mindset, or to what he defines as “Washington’s entire way of thinking about American Power”: Read more ›

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with:

Philip Stephens: Fatalism taints the Obama doctrine – FT.com

What is missing from the Obama doctrine is a strategic view of the role of US leadership in sustaining global order. Analysis drifts into an excuse for paralysis, but inaction carries as many dangers as intervention. Mr Obama’s realism bleeds into fatalism. To observe that the US cannot solve every problem in a disordered world should not be to conclude it is powerless. Disorder is contagious and does not respect neat lines drawn around core national interests.

Source: Philip Stephens: “Fatalism taints the Obama doctrine” – FT.com

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with:

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