Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Random Observations

1. Several people have written fearing or hoping that I might be near death because I haven't been posting lately.  I appreciate the concern, I guess.  But we postmodern conservatives or 21st century Thomists don't believe that the doctrine "I blog, therefore I am" is realistic.  All is well and I'm at a nice conference in Savannath, maybe the most beautiful city in America.

2. This conference is rife with young conservatives.  And, naturally, they were all grousing with disbelief at breakfast over Obama's big Nobel win.  The African American lady who was serving breakfast was glaring at them, thinking, I'm sure, that these people won't pass up any opportunity to let our president have it.  She may, properly understood, have a point.  Who cares who gets that fairly silly prize?  It's not like Obama ran for it, as far as I can tell.  No good president could possibly get it.  And if they want to give it for pretty words that signify almost nothing, it doesn't pick my pocket or break my leg. 

3. Whether the Republicans make big gains in Congress in 2010 will depend mostly on the state of the economy unless there's the reality or perception of dangerous foreign policy weakness.  It would be better if the Republicans had either big brains or an effective leader or two, but that probably won't be the key.  Anxiety is trumping ideology with the swing voters these days.  No two economists agree on what things will be like a year from now, and it's difficult for we Republicans to know what to hope for.

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 11 Comments

Savannah is indeed coupled with it's surrounding islands quite beautiful! I found haywards link intriguing about the purpose behind obamas Nobel prize. Does it however, not reflect perhaps on the fact that Obama has greAter recognition by Europeans as being pro peace?

BTW lawler as a modern day thomist should admit that secretly he does believe "I blog, therefore I am."

I understand your lack of posting- since the Democrats win in 2006 and even more so after Obama's win in 2008, the world is becoming more and more bizzare- up is down, down is up, right is wrong, good is bad, bad is good, and traditional values are now uncommon bad habits.

It's getting harder and harder to post stories as our society becomes more and more unhinged from reality.

So I feel for you. Do your best and post when you can.

"This conference is rife with young conservatives. And, naturally, they were all grousing with disbelief at breakfast over Obama's big Nobel win. The African American lady who was serving breakfast was glaring at them, thinking, I'm sure, that these people won't pass up any opportunity to let our president have it. She may, properly understood, have a point. Who cares who gets that fairly silly prize?"

Well, just by perusing the posts on this blog from the last couple of days, I'd say that the Ashbrook/NLT crew cares quite a bit (and I'm not sure they could accurately be called "young" conservatives). The right-wing generally, young and old, seems to be freaking out over it, to put it mildly.

But I hope the African-American lady's glare didn't compromise the dining experience of the young conservatives (including the many African-Americans that were among them, "I'm sure"). Shame on her! She should have been reminded that her place is to simply serve the food - with a smile on her face!

"maybe the most beautiful city in America"? Comparisons? San Francisco? Charleston?

Craig, Your comment is an usually stupid version of so-called liberal irony. I wasn't even saying the grousing about Obama not deserving to be the prince of peace was undeserved, just that we should, in our conservative magnanimity, aspire to rise above that sort of thing. Savannah is prettier than Charleston because of the 40 singular squares. I do like King Street in Charleston a lot, and Sullivan Island. Savannah is also more genuinely eccentric. San Francisco has striking views and alll that, but doesn't give me that "place" vibe.

I had forgotten about the Savannah witches. And it has a better song than the other two cities:

In old Savannah, I said Savannah,
The weather there is nice and warm!
The climates of a Southern brand,
But here's what I don't understand:
They got a gal there, a pretty gal there,
Who's colder than an Arctic storm,
Got a heart just like a stone,
Even ice men leave her alone!

They call her Hard Hearted Hannah,
The vamp of Savannah,
The meanest gal in town;
Leather is tough, but Hannah's heart is tougher,
She's a gal who loves to see men suffer!
To tease 'em, and thrill 'em, to torture and kill 'em,
Is her delight, they say,
I saw her at the seashore with a great big pan,
There was Hannah pouring water on a drownding man!
She's Hard Hearted Hannah, the vamp of Savannah, GA!

Some thoughts,

1. I've talked to about ten pro-Obama friends and aquaintances about the Novel thing. All but one were asking what he had done to deserve it. The only defender of the Nobel committee choice defended it on the grounds of the award being a reward for being a black man elected President. As a defense, it is a greater condemnation of the committee than having it be an award about nothing. Several of the pro-Obama folks were African American and the only defender was white. I don't think any of them thought any less of Obama over the award, but it can't be a good thing when even the people who like you think you get things you don't deserve.

2. I think the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama (though this is not true of all Peace Prizes) is best understood as a show of elite Left-politics solidarity. It is kind of an international version of those Kennedy Library Profiles in Courage awards that went to liberal hack politicians who lost their jobs for supporting tax hikes and gun bans.

3. A couple of months ago I would have agreed about the centrality of the economy in the 2010 elections. It might still be the key but only if the picture is clear. If unemployment is in double digits and the only steady growth is in government and the deficit, then the Dems will have a very rough 2010. If th the unemployment rate is falling fast and growth is coming in at four or five percent a quarter, then the Dems should be okay. But what if the economy is in an ambiguous state? What if unemployment is around eight percent and growth is coming in at a couple of percent (annualized) per quarter?. In that case, other factors like political competence by the GOP could make all the difference. The GOP will need a big turnout among right-leaning constituencies. They will probably get that. But they will also need plausible economic policies for persuadable suburbanites who have no strong affiliation to either party or ideology, and they will also have to use a rhetoric that does not assume the listener has a black belt in conservative ideology. They will also have to tap into the reasonable concerns of basically apolitical old folks about ObamaCare and turn it into a voting issue.


If the economic situation is genuinely ambiguous, then leadership might make the difference at least but not only in the sense that ambiguities have to been spun. I also agree that I'd rather believe that the Nobel is a prize about nothing than some kind of reward for our country for electing a cultured black guy.

I am not a proffesional economist but I am willing to reach out and guarantee that the economic situation will be genuinely ambiguous. At least insofar as no one has yet solved problems of causation.

I think a strong case could be made for giving the nobel prize to Obama. Given that I am not really aware of any particular people who deserve the award the lazy man's way of distributing awards is to rubber stamp them on the basis of a position of authority, rank and influence. On this basis a lot of military awards are given, the higher the rank the higher the award, on the supposition that with increased rank comes increased responsibility.

As a general rule then if you knew nothing specific, or if you were an appelate court judge, whose job doesn't permit review on questions of fact, you would have to assume that as far as a class of occupations goes there is substantially less risk in picking the commander in chief of the United States, as the person whose actions are going to be linked to the greatest amount of actual cause, and proximate cause in regards world peace. In this sense as a default rule you could always vote or nominate the president of the United States...and I would be suprised if every year the president of the United States was not nominated. Regardless of political ideology every year the president of the United States has a defacto case for earning the nobel peace prize for each and every day in his presidency when he has not lost his temper in the middle east and made a glass parking lot out of Iran. Of course if the president of the United States does make a glass parking lot out of Iran, he would proably still be nominated as some people would argue that his doing this was a proximate cause of future peace.
Once you get beyond concrete discrete actions, were person A does something and it causes an effect on B, once you toss in the entire network that is the executive branch, it is hard to say that Obama is responsible, but just for simplification we assume that he is. So Obama is responsible for the entire executive branch which includes the armed forces of the most powerfull nation in the world. Now even this isn't enough to guarantee world peace...certainly the french, germans, english, russians and chinnese have something to do with it...and many more...but in each case direct responsibility is unclear, what causes what is muddled, and no more knowable to the average person than the names and activities of those who truely deserve the nobel for peace.

Conservative teacher seems to think Obama is capable of much influence, and that this influence is negative. I think really when we are thinking about the president of the United States you can't really pin down proximate cause. Certainly more games have been played with the concept of proximate cause in regards Obama both in his favor and against him than has been ascribed to any other president ...

Really so many different people are tied in up in the executive branch that the president is completly overated, that is to say that he is responsible for more than he can handle...too many intervening independent actors...but these are ignored, so we conveniently say he is responsible. So it happens that the president of the United States in this case Barrack Obama has and is the greatest terminal point for both proximate cause and actual cause, such that but for his actions right would be right...excetera. Because Obama was elected, a black person was celebrating and drove drunk and killed someone, because Obama was elected a young black man decided to work on his education instead of robbing a liquor store. These are hypotheticals which probably happened, of course they neglect the fact that with a stronger view of free will both actors could have choosen otherwise. With a greater scope for free will Obama gets less praise and blame, because his proximate cause is terminated sooner. In some sense the idea of giving awards to rank and position of authority sounds better the more proximate cause, power, influence and responsibility such authorities have.

Now the only thing I know is that Obama radiates more proximate cause, than the law should allow. If the net effect(net cause, proximate and actual) of US policy is to advance the cause of world peace(and it is arguably) then I don't see what the problem is with giving the award to the president. As far as I can tell this(world peace) is even more ambiguous than the economic situation(in general, as opposed to the ballance sheet and prospects of Apple which I like).

Also I don't see a problem with saying that Obama as an individual doesn't deserve the award, this to me is akin to grief of a young billionaire who is worried he isn't loved for himself but his money. In other words at some point in time in the political rat race, or at a certain income level...the story of the king who sneaks into the city in rags has appeal...(or the messiah who comes as a human being) but both the billionaire and the president can no longer expect to be loved for who they are for the reason that they simply have too much proximate cause.

The commander in chief of the United States won the nobel peace prize, it could have easily been given to Bill Gates(or his billions) for his charitable donnations...while no single human being reigns supreme or determines world can't be an unreasonable expectation that the president of the United States has far reaching impact.

But what has he done? I don't know, what has the executive branch done? Did anyone bother to figure out what Obama had done when tabulating his first 100 days? Where does actual and proximate cause end with Obama? To return to the clever defense of Bush suggesting he should get a nobel peace prize...Since the world in Obama's first 220 days has not yet ended in nuclear war, and since it could have then the scope of but for Obama in addition to more rosy scenarios must include possible nightmare situations which did not occur.

First of all, it is absurd. Everyone, left and right, knows it is absurd. Everyone but the most self-deluded. And everyone not actively looking to shore up Obama's presidency and make conservatives look bad, says out loud that it is absurd. Yes, one can get a bit self-righteous huffing and puffing (or pointedly joking) about an absurd or an obviously unfair thing, and conservative knot-heads do feed on that instinct too much( I plead guilty), but by and large, calling things by their proper adjectives is a natural, healthy, and inevitable response.

Obama's decision to accept is regrettable, as it is not the most astute nor the most noble choice, but it is totally understandable and not something to fixate on.

The anger of conservatives is properly channelled at the Nobel Committee. Obama did not ask for this, and now seeks to make the best of it by his limited lights.

Again, I think liberal and black supporters of our president should be particularly pissed by this, even if conservatives' joking and crowing about this seems obsessive and hateful to them. The Nobel Committee has shown itself 100% tone-deaf to the issue our President really has with his accolades and rewards in life so far outwieghing his accomplishments, an issue that cannot but connect to the affirmative-action/liberal-guilt-indulgence issue in America.

And think about it. Let's say Obama actually does sign a historic peace agreement with Iran, whereby they do stop pursuing nukes, or let's say Israel and the Palestinians actually do make peace due to his prodding. What does the Nobel Committee do then? Award another prize? How pleased Obama will be to look back in the history books and see the asterik next to his deserved second Nobel prize referring back to his unearned first one. That is, in every scenario imaginable, this prize is embarrassing for him, something to avert the eyes from.

Think about it. If there were a Nobel Freedom prize, would conservatives have been happy had Ronald Reagan won one nine months into his presidency?

It's incompetent. Absurd. Insulting to our president. Culturally insensitive. Manipulative on its face. Provides red, red meat to Obama's conservative opponents.

So be magnanimous to Obama by not blaming him for this...but to the committee, and to those in the media who pretend it is not absurd, they deserve the united disdain of Americans. If an awkward politeness that seeks to save Obama face keeps liberals from voicing their dismay out loud, they should know they cannot expect most American voices to hypocritically mouth respect for the decision. This just sucks for them, and they have to let the kerfluffle play itself out.

We conservatives can be polite and civically respectful by not trying to permanently tag Obama with this...i.e., I do hope I'm not seeing many sarcastic editorials beginning with "our Nobel Laureate" ten months from now.

"I'd say that the Ashbrook/NLT crew cares quite a bit (and I'm not sure they could accurately be called "young" conservatives). "

Hey! Some of us are younger than others . . .

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