For kristne, for hvide, for gamle

Jeg har i dag en artikel i Weekendavisen om Det Republikanske Partis problemer med at finde en passende leder. Artiklen kan ikke læses online (endnu?), men kan læses som e-avis, hvis man følger linket på denne side. Update: Det er så vidt jeg kan se ikke længere muligt at downloade artiklen som e-avis, uden at betale et gebyr. Hvis du er interesseret i at læse (en tidligere udgave af) artiklen, så send mig en e-mail på lars.hvidberg [at] gmail.com

Der hører en lille historie med: Oprindeligt var artiklen skrevet ud fra en reportage fra den store CPAC-konference i slutningen af februar. Det er en årlig, traditionsrig konference – startet af Ronald Reagan i 1973 – hvor konservative aktivister fra hele landet mødes og udveksler ideer og pepper hinanden op til at tryne socialisterne og de gudløse. Weekendavisen tog min oprindelige artikel, men den røg alligevel ud i sidste øjeblik. Det var ærgerligt, og jeg måtte ugen efter skrive artiklen om, fordi CPAC var ved at være old news. Der røg et par sjove detaljer, men artiklen blev egentlig nok mere interessant af omskrivningen.

Overskrift og kolofon er ikke mit valg, og der er også ændret småting i artiklen, mest for at gøre nogle af forholdene mere forståelige. Jeg synes, at alle ændringer har hjulpet med til at gøre artiklen bedre. Oprindeligt var titlen “I Reagans Skygge”, men den nuværende er mere catchy.

Mere læsning: Reason om Small Tent Conservatism.

USA I DAG: Tam udenrigspolitik

Her er Helle Dales USA I DAG klumme fra i tirsdags. Jeg mødte Helle Dale i dag til et arrangment på Atlas Foundation, hvor hun holdt et oplæg om Nordkorea. Jeg fik også en chance for at tale med hende, og det var sjovt at møde en dansker, der har boet så mange år i USA.

Et udpluk fra klummen:

Indenrigspolitisk har Obama vist sig at være langt længere til venstre end nogen amerikansk leder siden Lyndon Johnson, hvis ambitiøse Great Society velfærdsprogrammer hans første måneder ved magten giver ekko af. Men interessant nok har Obama ikke signaleret en lignende venstredrejning på udenrigspolitikken. Den idealisme, der karakteriserede andre demokratiske præsidenter som Kennedy, Johnson og Carter, ligger ham fjernt. På den ene side er det mønster, der tegner sig, meget tættere på de pragmatiske Clinton-år. På den anden side er der endda ekkoer af Nixon-årene, hvor Henry Kissinger introducerede ideen om »realpolitik« i europæisk stil til Washington.

Jeg tror, at Helle Dale har helt ret. Det har undret mig meget, hvorfor “folk” (fx danskere) forestiller sig, at valget af Obama bliver et fremskridt for demokrati rundt omkring i verden. Jeg tror snarere, at Obama kommer til at lægge betydeligt mindre pres på forskellige regimer end Bush-regeringen gjorde. Man kan mene, at Bush’ strategi var forkert og kontra-produktiv sine steder, men jeg tror heller ikke, at Obama kommer langt med sin forhandlingsvillighed.

Hypocritical republicans

The Republicans are all about “Small Government” these days, but doesn’t their new-found chasity feel kind of hollow? Considering the Bush-year’s gigantic budgets and expansion of executive power, it sees a little late to find your libertarian roots.

Here’s a historian who thinks so, Julian E. Zelizer:

After the past eight years in American politics, it is impossible to reconcile current promises by conservatives for small government with the historical record of President Bush’s administration. Most experts on the left and right can find one issue upon which to agree: The federal government expanded significantly after 2001 when George W. Bush was in the White House.

The growth did not just take place with national security spending but with domestic programs as well. Even as the administration fought to reduce the cost of certain programs by preventing cost-of-living increases in benefits, in many other areas of policy — such as Medicare prescription drug benefits, federal education standards and agricultural subsidies — the federal government expanded by leaps and bounds. And then there are the costs of Afghanistan and Iraq.

(…)

There were some areas where Bush backed off government cuts because programs were too popular, like Social Security. In other areas, like federal education policy and prescription drug benefits, the president seemed enthusiastic about bigger government.

Bush and Cheney also embraced a vision of presidential power that revolved around a largely unregulated and centralized executive branch with massive authority over the citizenry. This was a far cry from the days of Ohio Sen. Robert Taft, a Republican who constantly warned about the dangers of presidential power to America’s liberties.

The same goes for presidents like Eisenhower, Nixon, Bush Sr. and even Ronald Reagan. Is the on-march of government just impossible to stop – does it have it’s own inertia – or don’t politicians really mean it when they say they want lesser government?

Recommendation of the Day

I was an ambivalent socialist before I read this; now, I’m a rabid Austrian. Get this book, and prepare to have your mind blown.

Librarything-user in a review of Henry Hazlitt’s Economics In One Lesson. An amazing book. Scary thing: Present politicians are repeating all the same fallacies that Hazlitt uncovered 60 years ago (and Bastiat a hundred years before Hazlitt) over and over again.

The A.I.G. bonuses outrage…

is really just another reason why we shouldn’t nationalize banks. If you can’t stand they way they do business – including the way they make their contracts – don’t give them any money!

That may strike many people as a bit of convenient legalese, but maybe there is something to it. If you think this economy is a mess now, imagine what it would look like if the business community started to worry that the government would start abrogating contracts left and right.

As much as we might want to void those A.I.G. pay contracts, Pearl Meyer, a compensation consultant at Steven Hall & Partners, says it would put American business on a worse slippery slope than it already is. Business agreements of other companies that have taken taxpayer money might fall into question. Even companies that have not turned to Washington might seize the opportunity to break inconvenient contracts.

Obama and Iran

What policy will the Obama administration pursue towards Iran? Will they support freedom or will they try negotiations to get a deal on the nuclear issue? Excellent piece by Mariam Memarsadeghi and Akbar Atri, who I am lucky to call my real-life friends, in The Washington Post. Bottom line: Obama has shown what democracy can do. He should use his immense popularity to boost freedom aborad – let’s bring real change to Teheran as well.

Obama’s popularity gives him the power and credibility to press the Iranian regime, not to mention dictatorships in Russia, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and elsewhere, to respect human rights and democratize. Yet some in Washington have urged Obama to abandon talk and programs in support of the Iranian people in exchange for piecemeal progress on the nuclear issue. With Tehran continuing to make progress on a weapon, it is tempting to look past the Iranian people’s hopes for freedom and instead focus on the seemingly more imperative issue. But this would be a mistake. In fact, the regime would want nothing different.

(…)

Those in power in Iran are responsible for terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East, not to mention in Buenos Aires, Paris, Vienna and Berlin. They are fundamentally opposed to liberal democracy and its ensuing individual rights. They still imprison the young for having parties and listening to music and stone women to death for extramarital sex. In the name of God, they persecute religious minorities and imprison mullahs who speak of freedom. They still chant “death to America” at the official sermon every Friday and force children to do the same as part of the school curriculum. Drug addiction is common among large swaths of society. The regime’s oil-rich apparatus is rotted by extremes of corruption and unaccountability. Like communist totalitarian regimes of the past, it seeks to maintain a facade of revolutionary idealism for the outside — particularly for the liberation-hungry Arab world — while its people endure the bitter realities of life under an ideological state.

Moz @ Warner Theathre

Saturday we went to see the always amazing Steven Patrick Morrissey at the Warner Theatre in Central DC. A beautiful venue, like a cinema of yore.

Moz has recently released the excellent Years of Refusal, and he played 4 or 5 tracks from that album and a smattering of classics from his long career – starting with “This Charming Man”. Set-list and opinions here. Encore was “First of the Gang to Die”, a neo-classic from You Are The Quarry. You can watch it here.

We had a great night. Moz was in top form, both campy and muscular, and his voice is simply unique. He tore of his shirt several times and threw it to the audience that was mainly filled with Moz-fans of our age or older, many of them Europeans. At last half of the audience knew the words to at least half the songs. The boy next to us – quite young – knew all the words to all the songs, and knew how to make expressive air-guitar moves as well. Personally, I could have used a few more of the newer songs and a version of “How Soon Is Now” without the lyrics changed. “Death of a Disco Dancer” has never been one of my favorites, but “Something Is Squeezing My Skull”, “Ask”, “Seasick” and “Crashing Bores” really stood out.

A great night in Squashington. “Warner Theatre, you have been warned”…

(Only downside: A much to aggressive security team, they really cracked down on ppl taking pictures or trying to shake hands with Moz. Seemed excessive from where I was standing).

The Good Life

Charles Murray’s Irving Kristol lecture on Human Happiness. Life in a social democracy might be pleasant, but it is rarely satisfying, and therefore lacks happiness.

What to do about the Danes and their high happiness? The key to the Danes’ happiness might be their low expectations.

I’m reading Charles Murray’s book What It Means To Be A Libertarian right now. Best – meaning simplest and most personally engaging – defence for classical liberalism I have read in a long time.