Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tea Party!

Conservative political movement came a long way in a short time

Today, the Tea Party celebrates its second anniversary.

In a very short time it's come a long way, accomplished a lot, and overcome many obstacles in order to do so.

Bolstered by the Tea Party, and set back on a path toward fiscal conservatism -- although not solidly enough for many, including Tea Party luminaries Rand Paul and Ron Paul -- the Republican Party swept through the 2010 midterm elections, taking control of the federal House of Representatives, and of governments at the state and local level.

They also provoked the fear and hatred of the American far-left. Acting on the modus operandi recommended by Spencer Ackerman, the far-left accused the Tea Party of racism. In many cases, they doctored evidence of that alleged racism. In other cases, they resorted to Alinsky-ite "crash the Tea Party" tactics to attempt to demonize the Tea Party by publicizing the outlandish and outrageous behaviour of deliberate provocateurs.

If they received so much as a dime in donations from wealthy benefactors, they were deemed "astroturf". If so much as one legitimate Tea Party protester or organizer made an outrageous remark, it was used to condemn the entire movement. If Tea Party organizers or protesters denied they were racist, it was treated by the movement's opponents as evidence of guilt.

The Tea Party was subjected to the ultimate in left-wing McCarthyite tactics. And it persevered.

The Tea Party restored the Republican Party to honesty, rejuvinating the party and making it competitive again. A party that seemed on the verge of complete collapse instead re-surged to a striking 2010 victory.

More importantly than this, the Tea Party helped reveal the intellectual impotence of the modern left. A movement conceived on the basis of foundational beliefs, it challenged the mythos of leftist progressivism. In the face of a movement touting beliefs the left has seeked to supplant -- modernize, if you will -- the left could come up with no effective response.

It was the pathetic attempts to brand political dissent as racist that revealed the intellectual bankruptcy of the modern left. After the Barck Obama election, precipitated on populist promises of hope and change, the left had nothing left in the tank.

The Tea Party prospered off the outrage provoked by a Democratic Party that came to power with a hidden agenda, dropped its mask, and began to implement that extreme agenda. It put the Democrats on the ropes, and is now a year and a half away from sending the Democrats back to the drawing board altogether.

The Tea Party has come a long way, in a short time, and emerged victorious over the most draconian tactics the far-left has ever deployed without resorting to a violent revolution.

Hopefully, the next two years will be just as successful.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Making Guns Uncool

In Guns are Cool, novelist Courttia Newland confronts the glamourization of guns through venues such as video games, movies and gangsta rap.

Clearly, Newland seems to think of himself as a black Michael Moore; Newland goes so far as to place an on-camera call to Nike to complain about 50 Cent's lyrics. But beyond that, Guns are Cool raises some important questions, while largely ignoring others.

Newland points out that, like in Canada and the United States, the black community in Britain is disproportionately affected by gun crime. Newland insists that this is because black communities are "socially deprived" (which seems to be a rather left-ish method of saying they're impoverished).

Newland suggests that the identification of "black on black" crime as black on black is, in itself, a form of soft racism. But the film declines to confront the question of why so many black Britons target one another as the victims of their crimes.

The idea of creating a nationwide stigma against gun crime, however, promises a method of gun control that would be more effective in the long term than some of the methods of gun control currently being used -- such as the handgun ban that deprives Britons who would use such weapons for self-defense rather than for crime.

Friday, February 18, 2011

(Information) Revolutionizing Politics

Presenting his very own TED talk a year ago, now-British Prime Minister David Cameron talks about a rapidly-changing world; one in which the role of government will never again be the same.

The driving force behind this change? Simply put, information.

Never before have citizens had as much information at their disposal -- at their bare fingertips -- as they do today. In Cameron's estimation, this is because of the continuous evolution of human society.

Cameron begins with the pre-bureaucratic age, a time when communication and travel was so costly and time-consuming that it was impossible for governments to organize and centralize across vast territories. This was followed by the industrial revolution and the bureaucratic era, in which emerging transportation and communication technology made that organization and centralization possible. Cameron's explanation ends with the rise of the information revolution, and the post-bureaucratic era.

Previously, Cameron explains, only government had access to the kind of information necessary to truly manage society. But with the continuous advent of public information technology, that power is coming more and more to rest in the hands of ordinary people.

Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams coined a phrase for this, and they made it the title of a best-selling book: wikinomics.

In short, the book argues that the electronic commons has enabled people to share more information and ideas than ever before, and that institutions that fail to adapt are bound to suffer and eventually fail.

In examining the record of the Tony Blair government it becomes clear that the greatest failure of that government was to take advantage of the emerging information commons, and to delegate the requisite power back to where it can be used best: in the hands of the citizenry.

For some within government, it's a harrowing prospect: a necessary step is that government data-keepers will need, to a certain extent, to let go. In other words, they'll need to stop trying to decide themselves which information is important, and instead let the people decide.

For those who live and die by the fantasy that the government will solve every problem they can imagine, and that they could play the role of the civic hero if only they had the resources and power of the government at their disposal, will need to find new delusions with which to comfort their egos.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Republicans are From Mars, Democrats are From... Somewhere

In a bold address to CPAC, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty drives home a simple idea about President Barack Obama: he's kind of like the Bizarro President.

He tries to create jobs by taxing job creators. He tries to reduce the deficit by spending billions on his personal pet projects. The media compares him to Ronald Reagan when, in reality, he's been anything but.

Pawlenty expresses his deep concern that the United States is losing its edge. He notes that Americans believe that China will soon become the dominant country in the world. This is something Pawlenty says he is not willing to accept. His view of America is that of a coutnry that leads the world.

Pawlenty traces the flagging of American confidence to his experience growing up in Minnesota during the 1960s, when he watched his hometown shut down around him as stockyards and meat packing plants were closed. As jobs fled south St Paul, Pawlenty watched the struggles of his neighbours in the face of an uncertain future.

Pawlenty reminds us that the struggles of Canada's southern neighbour aren't really anything new. The early signs of it emerged in the 1960s, and continued to grow for the next 50 years, while Democrats and Republicans alike failed -- sometimes out of impotence, at others out of negligence -- to turn the tide against the decline.

Pawlenty holds Minnesota up as an example for the rest of the US to follow. If Minnesota, who has produced such political "luminaries" as Al Franken, can reduce the size of its government, it can be done anywhere.

It wasn't easy. Pawlenty had to face down a government shutdown and a long public transit strike and turnback a perpetually-growing government budget.

Minnesota Democrats had no sense of the need to shrink the size of the Minnesota state government. Likewise, federal Democrats seem to have no sense of the need to do the same with the federal government. Instead, they're growing the size of government. As so often, they have it precisely backward.

Last, but not least, Tim Pawlenty knows the way for the United States to dig its way out of its troubles: hard work. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's an awful lot more intuitive than what the Democrats are offering. They aren't even on the same planet as the solution to America's problems.

Herman Cain Listened to Stephen Harper's Warning

Every time there's an election in Canada, it seems to happen like clockwork: some far-left organization rolls out Stephen Harper's 1997 speech to the Council for National Policy, an American conservative think tank.
"Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States."
Of course, Canada's left hopes Canadians will listen to the first sentence of that passage, get disgusted, and stop reading. They tried it in 2004, again in 2008, then again in 2011.

But instead, something amazing happened; something the left never expected.

Canadians thought about it. And they realized Stephen Harper was right. They realized that Canada had for too long settled for government-cushioned mediocrity. Each time the left has rolled out the "Northern European welfare state" quote, more Canadians voted for Harper.

Because it's rather simple: Canadians don't want to live in a Northern European welfare state. Certainly, there are those who have convinced themselves that they do. But they haven't paid attention.

Having not paid attention, the left continually wanted Canadians to mistake this quote as an expression of contempt for Canadians (and because they never learn, they'll probably try it again in 2015), as opposed to what it was: a warning.

It's hard to say if Herman Cain was in Montreal in 1997 when Harper delivered that speech. But it's clear that he must have heard about it. Because one can hear a lot of Harper's solemn caution in Cain's declaration that Republicans and conservatives will not allow President Barack Obama to turn the United States of America into the United States of Europe.

Canadians don't want to live in a Northern European welfare state, in any sense of the term. Nor do Americans.