Trump, the American Pim Fortuyn

I will defer to my readers who know more about the Dutch political scene than I do — and I don’t know much — but the more I think about Trump, the more he reminds me of the maverick Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn.

Remember him? He was the colorful, openly gay sociology professor who came to national prominence in Holland mostly by speaking plainly about the country’s immigration problem. The Dutch had (and maybe still do) a serious problem with Muslim immigration, chiefly because immigrants arrived unsuited to Dutch life, and unwilling to assimilate. Violent crime rates, heavily associated with Muslim immigrants, were soaring in Muslim-dominated areas of Dutch cities, and the Dutch establishment — politically correct to the marrow — could not bring itself to speak of it, much less deal with it.

Fortuyn did. He was brash, and knew how to work the media. He spoke to the legitimate fears and concerns of the Dutch people about the unassimilated Muslims among them, and he framed the problem as the failure of multiculturalism. As I wrote in a 2002 National Review article about the Fortuyn phenomenon:

What increasingly bothers the Dutch are freeloaders. Though the unemployment rate is just over 2 percent, 18 percent of the Dutch labor force is on the dole to some degree, with 11 percent receiving occupational-disability benefits under the widely abused system. Immigrants, who have a high unemployment rate, are another irritant. Eight percent of Holland’s 16 million people are of foreign descent, with more than half of them Muslims, mostly from Turkey and Morocco. Holland’s four largest cities–Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht–are home to the majority of immigrants. Almost half the population of Rotterdam, where Fortuyn launched his political career, is of foreign descent. This has had unfortunate consequences. Earlier this month, the trade association representing Holland’s supermarkets announced that it would be shutting down stores in the immigrant-heavy inner cities unless the government got serious about policing the areas.

That’s because young immigrant men from these neighborhoods are disproportionately represented in Dutch crime statistics. According to criminologist Chris Rutenfrans, a study in 2000 found that 33 percent of all criminal suspects are foreign-born, as are 55 percent of prison inmates. An astonishing 63 percent of those convicted of homicide are immigrants–Moroccans, Antilleans, and sub-Saharan Africans are the chief culprits. “The reason always given to explain these statistics is that they live in deprived circumstances,” says Rutenfrans. “But other minorities are similarly deprived, and they aren’t criminals.”

Some Muslims bring with them a culture of religious extremism, encouraged in part by religious schools–at least one-third of which are funded by the Saudis, according to a government report. The report also revealed that 20 percent of Holland’s Islamic schools receive funding from the radical Islamic organization Al-Waqf al-Islami, or have radical Muslims on their boards. The government warned that the country’s Islamic schools showed very little commitment to preparing their students for integration into Dutch society. More troubling, the government intelligence service warned as long as …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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The Pointless Suffering of Yemen

Marc Lynch comments on the U.S. role in Yemen in his recent Foreign Affairs essay on Obama’s policies in the region:

The Obama administration’s willingness to support the Saudi campaign in Yemen has been more cynical. Few in Washington believe the Saudi rationale for war, and even fewer believe the campaign has any hope of success [bold mine-DL]. In reality, the United States was appeasing the Saudis on Yemen in order to prevent them from acting as a spoiler on the Iran talks, thereby condemning millions of Yemenis to pointless suffering.

This has become the standard explanation for why the U.S. is backing the intervention in Yemen, but it remains a very unsatisfying one. If the U.S. hadn’t aided the Saudi-led attack, what exactly would the Saudis and their allies have been doing to “spoil” the Iran talks? They would have expressed their objections to the deal publicly, much as the Israeli government has done in the strongest terms, and then the P5+1 would have pressed ahead with the negotiations regardless. The administration indulged its Gulf clients’ paranoia about Iran and endorsed their reckless war to win tacit acceptance of a deal that those clients had no ability to derail. Like the war on Yemen itself, this was unnecessary and foolish.

The fact that so few in Washington expect the Saudi-led intervention to succeed makes U.S. support for it that much worse. Of course, even if the intervention did “work” to achieve some of the Saudis’ goals (which has never been likely), that wouldn’t make it any less indefensible or appalling. Yemen’s civilian population continues to pay the price for this war, and the humanitarian crisis is set to worsen. This is especially true since the Saudis bombed one of the country’s major ports earlier this month. Mark Kaye explains:

The crisis has been compounded by the fact that getting aid into Yemen and transporting it around the country is very limited. Aid agencies like Save the Children are frantically trying to scale up our response, but it’s almost impossible when we can’t get relief supplies into the country. The recent bombing of Hodeida port – the key entry point for supplies to the hungry people in the north and centre of the country – was the last straw, putting the aid effort in jeopardy at a time when people are running out of food, water and medicine.

As Kaye makes clear, the suffering of the people of Yemen is enormous and is only going to increase under current conditions, and as Lynch says it has all been pointless suffering.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Trump’s Creative Destruction

One of the unsought pleasures of being caught up for nearly two weeks in the drama of my father’s dying has been that I have been able to be either fairly clueless about events in the outside world, or excused from having to write about them. Sadly for us all, I missed the Dreherbait of Caitlyn’s Dating Crisis (men or women?), and missed having to come up with an opinion on the way the media covered Vester Flanagan’s racist murders, and the recent spate of cop-killing apparently motivated by racial hatred.

The last real-world news event that I paid serious attention to before Dad’s sickbed became the center of my world was Donald Trump’s campaign speech in Mobile. The libertarian Jeffrey Tucker was present at a July speech Trump gave, and wrote that the man talked like a fascist — a word he meant not as a slur, but as a description of the historical phenomenon:

Whereas the left has long attacked bourgeois institutions like family, church, and property, fascism has made its peace with all three. It (very wisely) seeks political strategies that call on the organic matter of the social structure and inspire masses of people to rally around the nation as a personified ideal in history, under the leadership of a great and highly accomplished man.

Trump believes himself to be that man. He sounds fresh, exciting, even thrilling, like a man with a plan and a complete disregard for the existing establishment and all its weakness and corruption.

This is how strongmen take over countries. They say some true things, boldly, and conjure up visions of national greatness under their leadership. They’ve got the flags, the music, the hype, the hysteria, the resources, and they work to extract that thing in many people that seeks heroes and momentous struggles in which they can prove their greatness.

He wrote that in July, and I only discovered it last night when my son Matthew sent it to me. But that account accurately describes the speech I heard on TV in Mobile. It was so transparently empty and manipulative that I laughed several times at the shamelessness of it all. Yet, that reaction is what Trump and his partisans expect from people like me. Trump has been a vulgar joke for so long that many of us keep expecting the crowd to wise up to his shtick. But they don’t, and his popularity stays constant. Personally, the most remarkable thing to me is how about 20 percent of Evangelicals embrace Trump. Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig writes that for all his vices (from an Evangelical point of view), at least he’s not paying them lip service, pretending to be something he’s not:

Everything that might register as an obvious lack of affinity with evangelical values—his inability to name a favorite Bible verse, his open Christmas-and-Easter attendance patterns, his ranking of the Bible as only a smidgen better than his own book—might be coming off as a sight better than the same old GOP pitch. Before …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Donald Trump and the 2016 pendulum swing

If you’re having trouble understanding the phenomenal rise of Donald Trump, buck up — you’re not alone. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Gretchen’s Take: Should Clinton’s lawyer have classified info in his possession?

There would be no problem with releasing any emails if Mrs. Clinton had done business the way in which it was intended as Secretary of State — not putting all of her emails on a private server. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Brad Pitt’s Rotting Post-Katrina Modernism, and Ours

Ten years ago this past weekend, Hurricane Katrina swept across the Gulf Coast, destroying over 300,000 homes, over 100,000 of which were in the long-beleaguered but even-longer proud city of New Orleans. The images of an iconic American city under water, which many of us revisited over the past week, still haunt. The rebuilding of New Orleans, it was apparent even then, would be more than a disaster-relief project; it would tell us how much we still understood of our traditions.

That’s when Brad Pitt decided that the birthplace of jazz needed a Hollywood soul infusion. As Peter Whorlskey recounted at the Washington Post Friday, Mr. Pitt founded the Make It Right Foundation to import the world’s greatest architects into New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward and bestow the hardest-hit victims of Katrina with world-class branded houses that incorporated LEED-platinum environmental consciousness. Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Shigeru Ban were all brought in to offer Lower Ninth Ward residents their visions for post-Katrina residential life. The only hitch? According to Whorlskey, “the designs proved to be too clever to be built on a budget—that is, in reality.”

Mayne proposed a house that could float, in case the levees gave way again. A useful contingency plan, but prohibitively expensive to implement. Ban required too-costly carpentry. The famed Gehry did manage to technically approach the budget by building a $350,000 duplex—but could not tempt any natives into actually wanting to live in it.

What’s more, the unbuilt budget-busting houses may have been some of the modernists’ best contributions to the recovery of the Lower Ninth Ward. For the houses that were built by other high-flying architectural artists relied on experimental materials that have proven very prone to molding and even severe rotting in the muggy New Orleans climate—less than 10 years old. Many of the others showed off their sleek, flat rooves—to which the natives reportedly responded, “you know it rains a lot here, right?” Several of the architects seemed more taken with the hurricane than the residents, Justin Shubow recounts, as they designed one home with an aesthetically “damaged” roof, another “that looked like a trailer broken in two, and another one that looked like a house piled on top of a house.”

Responding to these modernist failures, “one of the 21st century’s architectural power brokers” Aaron Betsky wrote, “The fact that buildings look strange to some people, and that roofs sometimes leak, is part and parcel of the research and development aspect of the design discipline.”

Michael Mehaffy captured the modernist Make It Right ethos well in his recent, excellent essay, “What We Didn’t Learn From Katrina”:

Let us not learn from the successes and delights of New Orleans itself, they suggest. Let us not empower local people with local solutions. Instead, let us bring international architects to craft novelty inventions, and bestow them upon these lucky denizens. If these novelties happen to perform poorly—if they rot quickly, or have other problems—well, who knew?

Mehaffy goes on to note …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Why the Right Doesn’t Win

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A Republican from the party establishment enters the presidential race and immediately tops the polls. A few months later, he trails a politically inexperienced but media-mesmerizing businessman. The story of Jeb Bush and Donald Trump? Yes—but also the story of Mitt Romney and Herman Cain in late 2011. And a glimpse back at the early months of GOP contests in 2008 and 2012 suggests what’s to come in 2016: a Christian conservative leaps to first or second place, surprising the pundits, only to lose at last to the
inevitable establishment nominee.

This is no inscrutable design of fate. The Republican Party’s knack for nominating Bushes and Romneys and McCains has a reason, just as there are reasons why certain kinds of opponents catch on. Nate Cohn of the New York Times supplies a piece of the puzzle in a story headlined “The Surprising Power of Blue-State Republicans.” But there’s a deeper philosophical explanation for why the GOP perpetually fails to nominate another conservative like Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan—conservatism itself has lost its identity to politics.

The truth is that leaders like McCain, Romney, and the Bushes represent the GOP as a whole better than right-wing candidates do. Contrary to caricature, the GOP is not just the party of the South and relatively underpopulated states in the Midwest. Cohn’s headline calls the power of blue-state Republicans surprising, but it shouldn’t be: the majority of Americans live in blue states—that’s why Obama won the last two elections—and one would expect a national political party to draw a great proportion of its presidential delegates from the states where more Americans actually live.

Geography is ideology, at least in part. Blue-state Republicans may still identify as conservatives, but their conservatism is quite different from that of their red-state counterparts. As Cohn reports:

According to an analysis of Pew Research and exit-poll data, blue-state Republicans tend to be more urban, more moderate, less religious and more affluent. A majority of red-state Republicans are evangelical Christians, believe society should discourage homosexuality, think politicians should do what it takes to undermine the Affordable Care Act and want politicians to stand up for their positions, even if that means little gets done in Washington. A majority of blue-state Republicans differ on every count.

The blue states hold the keys to victory for establishment candidates: “Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney won every blue-state primary in 2008 and 2012,” Cohn notes, “making it all but impossible for their more conservative challengers to win the nomination.” Indeed, “Mr. Romney lost all but one red-state primary held before his principal opponent dropped out of the race”—that opponent being Rick Santorum, who a few months earlier had seemed utterly hopeless. Santorum lost his Senate seat in blue-state Pennsylvania in 2006. But in red-state presidential primaries six years later, he was formidable.

The division between blue-state and red-state Republicans by itself, however, is not enough to account for the party’s seeming inability to nominate anyone to the right of Romney or McCain. There remains a mystery: in …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Yemen and the Folly of “Reassuring” Bad Clients

Rouala Khalaf highlights the costs of “reassuring” our bad clients in the Neat East:

But it is in Yemen that the US mollification of Arab allies could have the most destructive impact. At a time when the US priority is — and that of all its allies should be — the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the group known as Isis, Washington has supported a Saudi-led military campaign that has spread more chaos.

To make matters worse, the U.S. has no need to mollify its clients, but it does anyway. They already get a great deal out of the relationship with Washington, and they contribute virtually nothing in return, but all they need to do to get more out of the relationship is to make noises about how neglected they are. We have an absurd situation in which the U.S. feels compelled to bribe and indulge despotic client states at the same time that those states pursue regional policies that are actually at odds with our interests, and our government does this not to avoid “losing” these clients to another patron but only to keep them from moaning too loudly in public. Far from benefiting the U.S., these client relationships keep pulling us deeper into regional conflicts that our government has no business joining. Yemen is the most obvious example of this, but it isn’t the only one, and if this pattern continues it won’t be the last.

As Khalaf notes later in her column, U.S. support for the campaign in Yemen hasn’t had the effect of “reassuring” the Gulf states, but has prompted a new round of complaints: “Gulf officials are vocal about their frustrations — the US, they say, is not doing enough for them in Yemen [bold mine-DL].” In other words, these officials expect the U.S. to take on more of the costs and risks of an unnecessary and reckless war that their governments started. Since the Saudi-led coalition has struggled to make much progress in their intervention, it’s not surprising that they want the U.S. to bail them out of their horrible blunder, but there is absolutely no reason why the U.S. should do any more than it already has. Indeed, the U.S. should never have lent support to this campaign, and failing that ought to have withdrawn its backing months ago. U.S. backing for this war is one of the most disgraceful episodes of reckless interventionism in recent history, and it is fitting that the administration’s terrible decision to take sides in the war hasn’t even “reassured” the despotic governments that it was meant to satisfy.

This is what the U.S. was bound to get by indulging these clients in the first place: increased demands for even more indulgence. Client governments know that if they complain loudly enough they will be able to extract more benefits from Washington, which is always far too eager to placate its clients’ whining. The client states in the Gulf therefore have every incentive to blame the U.S. …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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He Flew Away

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My father had a Sheriff, my son Lucas piloted to the Starhill Cemetery gates the Mule his Pawpaw taught him how to drive. Sitting next to him was Mam, his grandmother, who held the box with Paw’s ashes in her lap (a box that a woodworking neighbor made for my dad). In the back of the Mule sat all four of Paw’s granddaughters. As they topped the hill by the cemetery, they were singing “I’ll Fly Away.” I found out later they had sung it all the way from the house.

My older son Matthew and I met them at the gate. I received the box of ashes, Matt took Mam’s arm, and all of us processed solemnly to the grave. The photo above is a detail of a shot someone took from the distance. That’s Lucas in the white shirt, tall Matt with his grandmother on his arm, and me in the front.

We took our seats under the canopy, and the service began. My father was a Freemason, and had requested that his brother Masons send him off with the Masonic funeral ritual. After that, the Methodist pastor offered some beautiful words. I then stood and recited Psalm 23, which I guess is kind of a cliche, but it brought so much comfort to Daddy in his final week that I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate. That’s the great thing about Scripture and poetry: they know better than you do what to say. There are times when originality is the enemy of profundity.

Earlier in the afternoon, my mom had asked her cousin Ken Fletcher (you’ll remember him from How Dante Can Save Your Life) to play guitar and sing “I’ll Fly Away” at the funeral’s conclusion — this, because it is the song we sang the moment Paw passed. He agreed, then invited Lucas to accompany him on rhythm guitar. I don’t know how that little man, who loved Paw fiercely, found the strength to say yes, much less to do it, but Lucas joined his cousin Ken at graveside, and played his Paw into paradise. I photographed this, but I have a rule against showing my children’s faces on this blog, so you won’t see the image. Still, I look at the best shot I have, and I see the resolution on my boy’s face, and I realize just how much he grew up this past week.

We issued an open invitation to mourners to help fill in Paw’s grave if they so desired. It was not a big grave, as it only had to hold a small box of ashes. All the grandkids helped, as well as a number of people who were dear to Daddy, and even a couple of friends of mine, who came out of respect for Julie and me. Here’s Lucas in his turn:

After the grave was filled, many of the mourners met us all at my mom’s house for food, drink, and fellowship. Let me tell you, the women of the St. …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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