Doomsday scenarios — are conservatives or Progressives better at predicting the future?

In America, each side of the political aisle routinely accuses the other of engaging in “scare” tactics.  Each side is right.  Doomsday scenarios are how you engage an increasingly distracted population.  My question for you is, when it comes to predicting doomsday scenarios to engage the population, which side is more accurate?

I’ve got three Progressive predictions, two of which were definitely wrong and one of which I think is proving to be wrong:

Progressives argued global cooling, and they were wrong.

Progressives argued anthropogenic global warming, which they’ve now altered to anthropogenic climate change, which I’m sure they will alter to some other fine name when their predictions fail to come to pass.  Currently, I count them as wrong.

Progressives promised that, if “welfare as we know it” ended in 1994, the poor would be dying in the streets.  They were wrong.

Here are three conservative predictions that were correct:

Conservatives said that if ObamaCare passed, health care costs would go up immediately and dramatically.  So far, they’ve been right.

Conservatives said that withdrawing from the Vietnam War would result in a blood bath.  They were right.

Conservatives said that “welfare as we know it” was a miserable, enslaving institution and that reforming it would not result in instant death of all poor people.  They were right.

Obviously, I’ve cherry-picked to find incorrect Progressive predictions and correct conservative predictions.  Can you support my position or disprove it?  I’ll be interested either way.

Experts and the Temple of Orthodoxy

Most of us here in the Bookworm Room express a healthy skepticism of “experts” in general. Most of us revel in our ability to think and discourse critically for ourselves, while others lament that socially-anointed “experts” are not solemnly revered through incense, incantations and burnt offerings made before the Temple of Orthodoxy. Ah well.

Age plays a factor. As a student in the sciences, I revered all my profs until I learned to see through their intellectual facades. By graduate school, I was far more discriminating. Don’t get me wrong – I was privileged to be able to study and discourse with true intellectual giants.  I recognized that a common trait of these models and mentors was their ability to constantly question convention and reexamine their premises. They could also doubt themselves. I admire them to this day and I wanted someday to be like them. I am still trying.

However, there was also another group of intellectual wannabees, professors and classmates, for whom the sole objective of the id was the ego. Their entire sense of self revolved around a desperate need to be recognized for their “credentials”. This group was highly insecure and many were not particularly bright. I recall PhD students who were already penning their “expert” bestsellers before having completed their orals. Alas, such “scientists” were so intent on creating unwarranted reputations for themselves that they would cause great intellectual mischief in my professional field. Thus do I take any claim to self-proclaimed expertise  or consensus opinion with a healthy grain of salt.

The point I am making is that scientists are humans, subject to all the quirks, foibles and fallibilities of other humans. However, because of their credentials, it is too easy for lay people to accept uncritically what these scientists profess. Scientists, like all other people, can also fall prey to herd mentalities and egos too often pose insurmountable barriers to self-reflection. For many of us, as we get older, realism displaces idealism and teaches many of us the need to think for ourselves. It’s part of our journey into adulthood.

I bring all this up because, at No Frakken Consensus, there is a delightful book review on “The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation”, by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky.

The book is a historical record of the many, many times that scientific, political, historical and social thinking and consensus have been proven wrong…badly wrong. It’s an intellectual journey sprinkled with entertaining footnotes and guide posts to help one navigate beyond the intellectual facades of credentialed experts (one of my favorites: “funding and forecasting may be dependent variables”).

If you click on the image of the book, it takes you to the Amazon website, where you can peruse pages thereof.

It’s a fun read and I am sure that all critical-thinking Bookworm Room aficionados could have loads of fun for years to come in adding to the book’s list of defrocked orthodoxies (it was most recently republished in 1998). It certainly yields more-than enough holy water with which to give the Temple of Orthodoxy a thorough scrub.

Democrat, Corruptocrat!

Democrats are the friends of big business, Conservatives are the friends of small business. Democrat government inevitably ratchets its way to corruptocracy.

If you don’t agree with this, can we at least agree that Democrats favor highly regulated economies and societies and conservatives don’t?

Let me explain with two examples.

1) The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story about how the EPA has decided that milk, because it contains 4% butterfat, should be regulated under the same environmental control standards as petroleum. Consequently, dairy farmers will have to file Federally approve emergency plans on how to deal with “oil spills” and such. Large dairies (some dairies in California milk 10,000 or more cows at a time) will probably be able to comply. Small dairies (goat and sheep milk farms, Vermont dairy producers etc. ) are just out of luck. I happen to know something about the dairy industry – it’s a highly politicized, highly subsidized industry that operates on very thin margins. I’m sure that they will come to an accommodation with the EPA and Federal Government…at a very steep price, politically and $-wise!

2) As it becomes increasingly clear the degree to which Obama Care really is a pig-in-a-poke, there is frantic activity to opt out of it. The numbers of entities that have received waivers from ObamaCare (other than Congress) magically rose from about 200 to 700+ immediately after the SOTU speech. Those entities are large companies and unions on the inside track. The way you get a waiver is to have a lobbyist obtain it on your behalf. Money exchanges hands. Large companies can afford this, small companies…out of luck! If ObamaCare is so great, why the rush by Congress, favored businesses and union to obtain waivers?

Increased regulation is inversely proportional to lobbying activity. The less regulation there is, the less the need to influence government. The more regulation, the more the need to petition the royal aristocracy at a heavy price. The need to petition our government for redress under regulations fostered by our government is a corrupting influence. If you lack influence and can’t make payment, you are out of the equation. Here in Chicagoland, we know all about this. Here is what happens:

Society sediments into three classes: a) an aristocratic Democrat nomenklatura that controls the regulatory and judiciary structures of society; b) a wealthy, economic class that can afford to exchange favors for regulatory exemptions and waivers…at a price; c) a lumpen proletariat, outside of the power structures, imprisoned into forced into regulatory straight-jackets (taxable prey…if you will) that they will never be able to escape unless willing to surrender at the price of their souls. It is this last class that pays the bills for the others. This isn’t new…despite its “progressive” tag, it’s a regression to 19th Century economic “shakedown” realities.

My entire career, I have been a champion of entrepreneurs and small companies. They are vital to our society and economy, as innovators, risk-takers and employers. I would hate to see this glorious period end as we slouch toward third-world corruptocracy.

I know that Democrats mouth have historically mouthed platitudes about looking after the “little guy”. I would like to think that only the truly moronic and armchair philosophers walled into their temples of abstract theory can fail to see how Orwellian and corrupting these platitudes are.

Have we as a nation arrived at a point where we can stop this from happening or is it inevitable? A Jewish relative once remarked that no Jew sleeps without two shoes under his bed stuffed with a roll of cash, in case of a quick getaway. I am starting to understand his point.

The blessings of gay conservatives

Yesterday I mentioned John Hawkin’s post explaining why he is sponsoring HomoCon.  I thought a nice companion piece would be Nick Gillespie’s post reprinting the HomoCon platform, a platform I think that all conservatives will find agreeable.

Remember (as if you, my dear readers, ever forget):  Unlike the statists/regressives/so-called liberals, we are not the party of identity politics.  We are the party of small government and big security.  We welcome those who agree with us on those issues, regardless of their race, color, creed, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or country of national origin.  We also acknowledge that there will inevitably be disagreements on the ideological periphery.  We know, though, that under America’s two party system, we cannot win federal elections if we allow our attention to wander too far from the core issues that currently threaten to destroy the country entirely.

My sense is that, aside from the belief many hold that homosexual activity is sinful, I believe that gay marriage is the single most divisive political issue right now between conservative gays (at least, those conservative gays who support gay marriage) and other conservatives (at least, those other conservatives who don’t support gay marriage).  It shouldn’t be.

As I’ve said before, I am not a fan of gay marriage, since I think marriage is, at its core, a religious issue.    The smartest way to resolve it would be for the state to get out of the marriage business entirely and, instead, limit itself to allowing those “domestic partnerships” that it deems are in the state’s interest.

Right now, we probably all agree that heterosexual partnerships fall in that “state interest” category.  A slight majority of Americans would add homosexual partnerships to that category, something that should be worked at through societal consensus, not judicial fiat.  And if the specter of “dogs and cats, living together” comes up, we’ll deal with that too.  And then let those various partners find the churches that will unite them before their God(s).  End of story.

That’s my view, for what it’s worth.  But my question for those opposed to gay conservatives who support conservatism on the most important political issue of the day is this:  Can you afford to get into a divisive fight over what is, temporarily at least, a less significant issue than saving our entire country from frighteningly potential internal economic collapse and external terrorist and military attack?

All About Money

One of the things that I try to understand is the Great Divide between today’s Liberals and conservatives that has left us talking past one another on policy issues. Frankly, I have concluded that discussion with Liberals is often futile because we attribute different meanings to words and concepts.

One of those concepts, I suspect, has to do with “money”.  Let me throw the following proposition on the table for discussion:

Liberal /Lefties view “money” as a fixed, tangible quantity with intrinsic value, like gold coins, for example. Thus, the value of money is intrinsic to the lucre itself, be it coins or dollar notes. Conservatives, on the other hand, see “money” more abstractly as representing “created value”…as scrip or IOU on value created or received. As economists put it, money is a “medium of exchange” for value. So, for liberals, “money” is something tangible to that must be amassed by taking from someone else’s stash. For conservatives, “money” is something more abstract that must to be created (i.e. goods or services) directly (e.g., wages) or indirectly (e.g., inheritance) through the creation of “value”.

How might this color our perceptions of one another?

1) When people like Bill Gates amass a large quantity of money by creating products that many people wish to purchase, conservatives view Gates’ money as a reflection of the value that he created and contributed others. No hard feelings there – it’s a fair exchange. A Liberal/Lefty, however, sees only Gate’s amassed pot of lucre that appears disproportionately high compared to the lucre stored in other peoples’ pots. They see this imbalance as patently unfair, especially since this lucre was transferred from other peoples’ modest stashes into Bill Gates’ already whopping big stash: Bill has more, all of his customers have less.

2) When money is needed to achieve a desirable social or governmental goal, a conservative recognizes that such money needs to be generated somewhere to pay for this goal. This can only be done by either drawing down existing value (confiscating peoples’ lucre) or by creating new  ‘value” that can be taxed (i.e., growing the economy). A Liberal/Lefty doesn’t make this connection – they see the process simply as one of either redistributing the existing lucre from other peoples’ pots or creating new lucre by printing more money. The problem of printing new lucre, of course, is that it is still underwritten by a fixed quantity of value – expanding money supply representing a fixed value means that each dollar is worth less. We call that inflation.

I can’t tell you how many times Liberals have looked at me with puzzlement when I have asked where they expect to get the money for their favored social programs.

3) De-linking “money” from the process of wealth creation makes it easy for Liberal/Lefties to confuse using tax money to pay for unemployment checks, dance troupes or road repair as “economic stimulus”. You are, after all, taking lucre sitting idle in some peoples’ pots and putting that lucre into other peoples’ pockets to spend on purchases. Unfortunately, the fact is that such activities do not in themselves create new value. This cannot therefore “grow” the economy.

What do you think? Am I onto something? And, if so, what other aspects of the Great Divide does this help to explain? Does this help or hinder us in discussing our differences with the Liberal /Left?

We see the problem with Obama’s presidency. Can we come up with a solution? *UPDATED*

Yesterday, weary and depressed, I linked to Charles Krauthammer’s most recent post, one that has him posit a Machiavellian Obama who has succeeded in laying the groundwork, not only for the transformation and, inevitably destruction of America, but also for his own reelection, so that he can cement his gains irrevocably.  A youthful reader, Zurvan, was appalled by the pessimism we old folks showed, both in my post and in the comments to my post:

…. I would like to say no, all is not lost.  Unless you let it go.

The attitude I see among conservatives is frankly astounding; never have I encountered a group more eager to surrender.  Forget fighting the good fight.  Forget the American Dream.  Just lie down and rot.  THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE TELLING YOURSELVES AND ANYONE LISTENING.

I’m not even twenty years old yet, my country is in the worst shape it’s been in since the Depression, and all you can say is “sorry kids, we didn’t feel like standing up to the bullies”?  That’s it!?

I never fully understood the saying “civilizations don’t die, they commit suicide” until now.  Some conservatives almost sound like they’re looking forward to oblivion!

Do you know why the progressives have taken over the country?  It’s because they fight.  They fight, and they never give up.  They can wait decades and still have the passion to fight till the end of time, because they BELIEVE IN THEIR CAUSE.

Conservatives, on the other hand, just glower and moan and play Cassandra while never lifting a finger to defend themselves.  Newsflash, guys:  You can’t win an ideological battle if the extent of your philosophy is a death-knell!

So, it looks like the younger generation can expect no help from our elders.  You want to abandon us, fine.  We want your support, and all you can do is tell us how horrible our lives will be.  While the rest of you hobble off to the crypts, we’ll be on the battlefield.  I had hoped you’d have the decency to aid us, but who needs you?  You work for the enemy!  You fall over yourselves to let them win!

So go on, curse the darkness.  I WILL LIGHT CANDLES.

I love Zurvan’s enthusiasm, and I should add here that not all are as gloomy as Krauthammer. Jonah Goldberg, for example, who is one of my most favorite writers and thinkers, believes that we’re witnessing a pivotal moment, and one that is good for conservative ideology, as opposed to continued progressive domination.

As it is, I agree with Goldberg that, at the grassroots level, the tide has changed.  My concern is that I agree with Krauthammer that, at the political level, Obama may have irrevocably changed the playing field.

If I may make a complete hash of metaphors, by changing the playing field, Obama has made it so that the grass roots can’t take root, if you know what I mean.  For example, nothing that happens in November will give conservatives a veto proof majority.  More than that, we already know that too many of the so-called “conservative” politicians in D.C. are either true RINOs or just so desperate to be loved by the liberal establishment that dominates the media and D.C. that they’ll abandon principles in an instant.

Sure, even a slight majority of conservatives in Congress can stop some funding for some things for the next two years, but that’s not going to be the same as repealing ObamaCare or the recent financial “reform” bill.  If Obama manages to hold office in 2012, nothing can stem the tide of these economy destroying initiatives.  (And yes, there’s that pessimism creeping in again, Zurvan.  I’m sorry.  It’s cause I’m old.)

The brilliant (and yes, I mean brilliant) Wolf Howling thinks that a Newt Gringrich candidacy might make a difference, but I wonder if he can overcome almost 20 years of demonization by a Leftist media.

So, I’ve laid out the problems; Zurvan has laid out the challenge:  Can Obama be defeated?  And by that, I’m not just asking if we limit him to a one term presidency.  Instead, I’d like to hear from you whether you believe that that there are specific things that can happen that will significantly reverse the harm Obama and the Democratic Congress have done to our economy, foreign policy, energy ability and independence, national security, military strength, immigration positions, support of our allies abroad (especially Israel), etc.?  In other words, even if we take over Washington, can we actually win?

UPDATEOthers have used Krauthammer’s article as the jumping off point for a conversation.

The difference between loving and hating

Last week, Townhall Magazine came out with a fun list of the 100 Americans it believes the Left hates most.  You’ll recognize almost every name, as each person mentioned is a prominent conservative.

David Swindle, who manages David Horowitz’s News Real Blog, realized something, however:  Townhall‘s algorithm seemed to be based a bit more on popularity with the Right, than on fear from the Left.  That is, the editors assumed that, if conservatives like someone, than liberals will hate that same person.  That’s a damn good standard, but there’s even a better one:  Which people does the Left fear most?  David Swindle has put together that list too.

Give me your Aphorisms — by guestblogger Danny Lemieux

I confess that I really like Book’s aphorism, “Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts.” I like it because it works. I have used it numerous times with Liberal-Lefties and I could see that it (miraculously) forced them to think. Another one for the ages is Maggie Thatcher’s “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”, which has been a rallying cry for conservatives.

I like aphorisms because a good aphorism cuts straight to underlying truths. With a good aphorism, you don’t get stuck in the brambles, dead ends, closed loops and non-sequiturs that mile-mark debates with Liberal Lefties. We know that logic doesn’t work, because Liberal-Lefties are so unclear on the concept thereof. A debate with a Liberal-Lefty provides only a very short window before he/she starts emoting or name calling, at which point (as we know), debate is over.

However, a good aphorism, delivered early with ad-byte precision, forces the Liberal-Lefty to address the underlying truths of their propositions up-front. There is no escape.

So, I would like to ask /plead with all Bookworm salon groupies to help me out with good aphorisms that we can use to define the oh-so-critical debates to come. Let me start off with a few of my own:

  • Liberals believe poverty leads to bad behavior, conservatives believe poverty is the consequence of bad behavior.
  • Conservatives believe in elevating people in the name of achievement and betterment, Liberals believe in devolving people to the lowest common denominator in the name of social justice.
  • Conservatives believe America’s primary threats are foreign, Liberals believe that America’s primary threats are domestic.
  • Liberals believe wealth is a fixed value, conservatives believe that wealth is created.
  • Conservatives defines generosity as giving of one’s own, Liberals define generosity as giving of other people’s own.

Any others?

New York Times admits that liberals are dodos *UPDATED*

The dodo, as you may recall, is extinct.  I wonder, though, how many people remember why the dodo became extinct.  It was because, lacking any serious natural predators in their homeland of Mauritius, the dodos were a bit too friendly to incoming colonists (and their animals), and simply allowed themselves to be eaten into oblivion:

As with many animals that have evolved in isolation from significant predators, the dodo was entirely fearless of people, and this, in combination with its flightlessness, made it easy prey for humans. However, journals are full of reports regarding the bad taste and tough meat of the dodo, while other local species such as the Red Rail were praised for their taste. However, when humans first arrived on Mauritius, they also brought with them other animals that had not existed on the island before, including dogs, pigs, cats, rats, and Crab-eating Macaques, which plundered the dodo nests, while humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes; currently, the impact these animals—especially the pigs and macaques—had on the dodo population is considered to have been more severe than that of hunting. The 2005 expedition’s finds are apparently of animals killed by a flash flood; such mass mortalities would have further jeopardized a species already in danger of becoming extinct.
Dodo skeleton, Natural History Museum (England)

Although there are scattered reports of mass killings of dodos for provisioning of ships, archaeological investigations have hitherto found scant evidence of human predation on these birds. Some bones of at least two dodos were found in caves at Baie du Cap which were used as shelters by fugitive slaves and convicts in the 17th century, but due to their isolation in high, broken terrain, were not easily accessible to dodos naturally.

It turns out that there is very little difference between your modern liberal and the vanished dodo. Liberals are trying to spin this difference this as an attack on conservatives (“conservatives are paranoid loonies”), but we know who’s going to survive at the end of the day:

Researchers have found, for example, that some humans are particularly alert to threats, particularly primed to feel vulnerable and perceive danger. Those people are more likely to be conservatives.

One experiment used electrodes to measure the startle blink reflex, the way we flinch and blink when startled by a possible danger. A flash of noise was unexpectedly broadcast into the research subjects’ earphones, and the response was measured.

The researchers, led by Kevin B. Smith of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, found that those who had a stronger blink reflex at the noise were more likely to take such conservative positions as favoring gun rights, supporting warrantless searches, and opposing foreign aid.

That makes intuitive sense: If you are more acutely sensitive to risks and more fearful of attack, you also may be more aggressive in arming yourself and more wary of foreigners.

In other words, despite the nastiness that crept into that Nicholas Kristoff report (as, for example, the swipe that conservatives favor the ultimate evil of warrantless searches), the fact remains that we are the un-dodos, ready to defend ourselves from predators as necessary.

Kristoff also assures his liberal readers that science shows that conservatives are generally meaner, more abusive people, especially when it comes to their poor children:

This research is tentative and needs to be confirmed, but it fits into a fascinating framework of the role of personality types in politics, explored in a recent book, “Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics,” by two political scientists, Marc J. Hetherington of Vanderbilt University and Jonathan D. Weiler of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They start by exploring data showing a remarkably strong correlation between state attitudes toward spanking children and voting patterns. Essentially, spanking states go Republican, while those with more timeouts go Democratic.

Professors Hetherington and Weiler contend that the differences stem from profound differences in cognitive styles. Spankers tend to see the world in stark, black-and-white terms, perceive the social order as vulnerable or under attack, tend to make strong distinctions between “us” and “them,” and emphasize order and muscular responses to threats. Parents favoring timeouts feel more comfortable with ambiguities, sense less threat, embrace minority groups — and are less prone to disgust when they see a man eating worms.

We’re brutes, you understand, brutes.  Except that research that Kristoff didn’t mention shows that the more authoritarian parent (who is someone distinct from the abusive parent) is good for children.  Thus, people who impose quick and decisive boundaries on their kids are doing them a favor:

Children who are smacked by parents often turn out more successful than those who have not, research has found.

The study concluded that children who had been physically disciplined when they were young, between the ages of 2 and 6, were performing better as teenagers on almost every measure that was taken into consideration than those who had never been smacked.

It was only in cases where it continued beyond the age of 12 that the children were found to be affected negatively, resulting in a dip on performance indicators.

The results of the US-based study undermines the efforts of various campaigners who have been trying to have physical punishment outlawed in the UK, who have claimed that it causes long-term damage to the children.

Read the rest here.

So, even as Kristoff tries to show that, genetically, conservatives are paranoid and cruel, the facts show that people who have these conservative instincts survive well and raise children who thrive.

UPDATE:  Right Wing News interviewed Thomas Sowell.  You should read the whole thing, but this bit jumped out at me, as part of the dodo syndrome about which liberals are so peculiarly proud:

If terrorists with nuclear weapons don’t focus your mind, nothing will. Yet, not only are we doing nothing, we’re doing elaborate, clever nothing. We’re going to the United Nations, we’re holding conferences. There are resolutions being passed. You know — a lot of busy work — none of which has the slightest chance of deterring Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Bob McDonnell’s response to the SOTU address

This will refresh you:

Here’s a little helpful information about the faces behind the Governor, and the Left’s unhinged response to those Americans.

The text is below the fold.

Continue reading

Maybe the health care vote was the cataclysm America needed

Yesterday, I took to heart Mark Steyn’s warning that this is the beginning of the end.  Health care is the wedge, and Democrats were willing to engage in long-term strategies — including the sacrifice of a few Democratic political careers — to make it happen.  Bruce Kesler, however, actually sees cause for hope in the recent Democratic alignment around health care:

For the past three and a half decades, the clearest dividing line and predictor of how we and our leaders would approach issues, ranging from the social to the geopolitical, is the position – contemporaneous or in retrospect — held about the US Congress’ votes to not meet US pledges to supply and aid South Vietnam in the face of North Vietnam’s heavily Soviet and Chinese supplied continued armed and logistical build-up and massive invasion.

In the reaction to President Nixon’s deserved fall, an overwhelmingly Democrat and anti-Vietnam war Congress was elected in 1974, determined to overturn US foreign policy. Polls were equivocal, at least providing some cover or excuse. In the wake of President Obama’s undeserved credence to govern from the center, an overwhelmingly Democrat and liberal Congress was elected in 2008, determined to instead legislate from the left and overturn US domestic policy. This time, polls are decisively opposed, but ignored, and there’s no cover or excuse.

Basically, in both cases, we went from a nation following a course – as befuddled as it may be – of determination to pursue freedoms to a nation that waffles freedoms away. Basically, our “conservative”, “liberal” and “moderate” postures toward most issues over the past decades have been in line with how we view the causes and outcomes of our Vietnam involvement. So, too, will our future divides and postures be determined by how we now or come to view the causes and outcomes of reshaping almost a fifth of the US economy and almost 100% of our personal and fiscal health.

Read the rest here.  I hope he’s right, although the insidiousness of Leftism, it’s refusal to die (kind of like fungus or cockroaches), has me down.

The new Republican playbook

In the wake of the 2008 election, Republicans and conservatives were paralyzed.  They’d been trounced, not so much by sweeper percentages (that is, the elections were all just over the slightly 50% mark), but by huge numbers of elections in which Democrats edged out Republicans by those few percentage marks.  If there are 100 races, and you lose 90 of them, it’s really irrelevant whether you lost by 5% or by 30%.  You still lost big across the board.  What to do?  What to do?

Fortunately, adversity has a way of clearing out the deadwood and clarifying the issues.  We know that Barack Obama is anti-American in ideology and that he hates America as a practical matter.  We know that he has surrounded himself with a cadre of advisers and czars who share his views, and that the top echelons in Congress do too.  It’s all spread out before us.

With the malignant disease of rampant anti-American Leftism — a world view antithetical to an increasing number of Americans — finally diagnosed in Washington, Jennifer Rubin has the prescription:

Now it has unfolded. We know what Obamaism looks like. On the domestic side, it is liberal statism: higher taxes, mammoth bureaucracies, and a vortex of government regulation that sucks up private enterprise and transforms business decisions into political ones. It comes with an ungracious and sneering contempt for opposition. On the international scene, we have the intersection of incompetence and folly, with a strong element of cynicism. The Obami have deployed aggressive and losing gambits (Honduras and the Middle East), betrayed friends (Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic), snubbed allies (the Churchill bust goes home), thrown ourselves at the feet of adversaries (Russia, Iran), jettisoned human rights and the defense of democracy (Burma, Sudan, Iran), projected angst-ridden indecision (Afghanistan-war formulation), damaged our fighting ability (defense cuts and missile-defense withdrawal), and shown deference to debased institutions (the UN). Most alarmingly, Obama and his attorney general have scarred and scared our intelligence community and placed Lefty pie-in-the-sky moralizing above the safety of Americans (trying KSM, closing Guantanamo, and halting enhanced interrogations).

And so what should conservatives be doing? Well now it’s obvious — oppose, obstruct, warn, and cajole. There aren’t many weapons at conservatives’ disposal, but there are some. And the greatest is to be found in the reservoir of common sense and decency of the America people, who, when stirred, have risen up to oppose pernicious legislation and those whom they mistakenly trusted to behave in a responsible fashion. As Kristol points out, three years is a long time, but the congressional elections are approaching and the argument has begun. And now conservatives know precisely what must be done: as best they are able, slow and stop Obamaism until reinforcements arrive and the voters can render their verdict.

To which I’ll add Bruce Kesler’s reminder, in the context of Obama’s insane nuclear strategy, that we should “Be afraid. Be very afraid. Be aware, and more determined than ever to slow and halt this self-destruction in the elections of 2010 and 2012. Start by demanding that potential Republican challengers are informed and resolute, and don’t ignore the saner Democrats. We’re all in this together.”

The difference between conservatives and liberals

Zhombre forwarded this email to me.  I think it’s right on the money:

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn`t buy one.
If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn`t eat meat.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy.
A liberal wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good.

If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a black man or Hispanic are conservative, they see themselves as independently successful.
Their liberal counterparts see themselves as victims in need of government protection.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.
A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it’s a foreign religion, of course!)

If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a conservative slips and falls in a store, he gets up, laughs and is embarrassed.
If a liberal slips and falls, he grabs his neck, moans like he’s in labor and then sues.

If a conservative reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
A liberal will delete it because he’s “offended”.

A completely bizarre protest that’s based on love of country *UPDATED*

I watched this short video that I found at Michelle Malkin’s site:

As I watched this video, I had this very weird feeling that something was deeply, deeply wrong with this protest.  It looks wrong.

I’m a child of the Vietnam era, and I’ve managed to keep my eye on the news — and the protests — for the 40 years since those Vietnam era protests.  I know exactly what they’re supposed to look like.  They’re supposed to be heavy with references to blood, whether in words, photographs or paint splatters.  All this blood is meant to remind smug Americans sitting at home in front of their TV sets that evil Americans have, for decades, been spilling the blood of innocents.  You know who those innocents are:  Innocent North Vietnamese, innocent Hondurans, innocent AIDS victims, innocent rape victims, innocent South American communists, innocent Iraqi special forces, innocent Afghani victims, innocent mass murdering terrorist victims — all brutally slaughtered by an avaricious nation given to torture and deceit.  Heck, as far as the Truthers are concerned, even the 9/11 victims were killed by Americans.

The look of the protest is wrong too.  People should be dressed in dark clothing and have grotesque masks on, symbolic of America’s torture and rapine.  Regardless of the march’s ostensible purpose, there should always be at least a sprinkling of signs likening Jews and Israeli to the Nazis and demanding the Jews’ imminent return to the gas chambers.  As we learned during the last eight years, there should always be death threats against the president, provided that the President is George Bush.  And, of course, the American flag should be burned, trampled, despoiled, desecrated and in all other ways treated to the humiliation due the symbol of the evil nation being protested.

So what’s with these wacky conservatives and their amateur attempt at gathering a couple of million people to march on the Capitol?  They’re going about it all wrong.  They’re wearing and waving the American flag as if they’re proud of it, and they’re spouting incredibly foolish notions that have absolutely nothing to do with America being evil or America murdering people.  They’re also not excoriating Israel.

Here are just a few examples of these neophyte activists who seem to have absolutely no appreciation for the fact that the purpose behind a march on D.C. is to let everyone know how evil America is but.  These guys seem weirdly stuck on archaic concepts such as freedom, self-governance, self-reliance, and informed representative government:

Liberate Don’t Regulate

No Government Controlled Health Care

Stop Spending My Future (with a baby picture)

We Are Not “Astroturf,” Not “A Mob, Not “Nazis.”  We Are Fed Up.

Repeal What You Have Not Read

Socialism Sucks.  Always Has.  Always Will.

Dependency Is A Form Of Slavery (my favorite)

Socialism Is Not Freedom

Freedom Of The People, By The People, For The People

We Are . . . America

Got Common Sense?

Most peculiar of all, the marchers aren’t demanding (or fantasizing about) the President’s death.  Sure, some of the signs are hostile to Obama (likening him to a self-styled monarch or a socialist), but they don’t liken him to a Nazi or demand his death.  There are no paintings of him dripping blood, decapitated, or with bullet holes in his head.  Those foolish marchers, unversed in the way of protests, seem merely to resent his overreach, without having any desire to threaten him personally.

As for me, I don’t know….  Let’s must hope that ordinary Americans, sitting in their living rooms, will be impressed with this amateur style of activism, one tied to love of country and freedom.  Indeed, they may be so struck, as I was, by the bizarre look that this protest has, that they’ll actually sit up and pay attention to what the protesters are saying.  We can dream, can’t we?

UPDATE: Can’t link because I’m on an iPHone, but Little Green Footballs shows that there was an ugly side to the protest. That doesn’t change the top notes of patriotism and liberty, but the ugly side was there too.

UPDATE II:  In the interest of full disclosure, here’s the link to LGF.  I find it interesting that the negative signs are Charles’ focus.  I think that, while he continues to remain admirably strong with regard to Israel and the war against Islamic terrorism, he’s souring on the conservative movement generally.  As for his umbrage at the sign to “Bury ObamaCare with Kennedy,” I don’t see that as being as offensive as he does.  It’s an appropriate response to the fact that the Democrats leapt upon Kennedy’s death as a way to sell Obama Care.

Conservatives march on Washington

The nature of conservatism is to be . . . well, conservative.  We don’t throw paint on people.  We don’t burn figures in effigy.  We don’t bite off fingers.  We put our heads down and do our jobs.  So when two million conservatives (and independents) take the time, the energy and the money to converge on Washington, you know that a fire has been lit.  Just as the Obama administration has done the unbelievable and united the Israeli body politic, it has now done the equally unbelievable and created oxymoronic conservative activists.

I don’t have any insights to add, but I bet all of you do.  I’d love it if you would leave your thoughts about the march on Washington here.

(And suek, you’ll see that I’ve added a new “Open Thread” category for this one.)

Bumper Sticker Wisdom

Bookworm is right that I’ve been on vacation from all things blog-related for some time now, but I’m happy to come back and see what interesting discussions we can stir up while she’s on a well-deserved vacation. As always, I’ll just throw topics out there and rely on the Bookwormroom’s intelligent and thoughtful readers to make the discussion sing.

Let’s start with something fun that we haven’t done in a couple of years. I recently saw a wonderful bumper sticker that read “Discuss Complex Issues . . . Through Bumper Stickers.” I live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area, a prime market for liberal, air-headed, bumper stickers. Most these days have to do with war and peace – “There is no way to peace . . . peace is the way” “War is never the answer” “Support our troops . . . bring them home” etc.

There is no doubt that liberals are better at condensing their thoughts into bumper sticker sized sound bites than conservatives (maybe because their thoughts are so much smaller, so need less condensing). If we conservatives are going to be successful in the sound-bite world in which we live we need to be smarter and more clever than our liberal counterparts.

So, let’s have a contest. No prizes except for the fun of showing off how clever we are. Well, and the possibility of coming up with something really brilliant and making a fortune selling bumper stickers on the Internet. Condense whatever thoughts you like into bumper-sticker sized bits of wisdom. I’ll start. “A President’s mind is a terrible thing to waste” “Oppose health care rationing” “Freedom is worth fighting for” “Surrender is never the answer” “A war on terrorists by any other name is still worth fighting” “Peace . . . through victory” “Even Obama/Pelosi cannot destroy America” and, in 2010, “Time for the adults to take our country back.”

Okay, now it’s your turn. You’ve got to be able to do better that I have. And, Bookworm, if you get a chance, I’d love for you to play, too.

Five people in a kitchen — by guest blogger Danny Lemieux

Five People in a Kitchen

By Danny Lemieux

Part I: We need focus!

We were just five concerned Americans meeting in a middle class Chicagoland suburb on a cold spring day. Our point for this meeting was not to gripe. It was to see if we could identify constructive solutions to the Democrat Left’s hold on our nation and all that for which it stands . . . a hold that we are convinced will destroy us.

We addressed two big challenges: (1) how do we counter the very effective (thug, smear, demagogue…fill in the blank, here) tactics of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, a book conceived in the 20th Century’s fascist era, consecrated in the radical ‘70s, and aptly dedicated to “Lucifer” by its author one year before his death in 1972 (whereupon, we can only surmise that the author was promptly and personally thanked for his dedication). Among all other “how to” guides available to 20th Century fascists, this was the tome chosen as the working bible of the American radical Left.  As we’ve seen, it works.  And (2), given its effectiveness, how do we prepare ourselves for the next election?

Why the next election? Because, quite frankly, given the Alinsky-driven fraud, manipulation, fear tactics, illegal funding and demagoguery evident in the last election, we five agreed that this next election may well be our last truly free election for a very, very long time. Moreover, the next time around, ACORN will enjoy a multi-billion dollar war chest, expropriated from me, thee and other productive taxpayers by the parasitic classes in our society. The opposition will also enjoy the full force of government power to leak dirt, real or imagined, disclose divorce files and other legal documents, and intimidate and harass the opposition. Despite the title of Alinsky’s book, there really are no rules, only tactics and objectives. Think of the persons that trashed pregnant teen Bristol Palin; torched Sarah Palin’s church with kids inside; wished failed kidneys upon Rush Limbaugh; slashed campaign bus tires in Milwaukee; did opposition research on a citizen-plumber; or unsealed the Court-sealed divorce papers of Obama’s Senate opponent, Jack Ryan. Something truly wicked this way comes.

As I noted, we were only five – three men and two women: two business consultants, one nurse, a graphics designer and a furniture maker – a perfect number for intense, serious discussion. For my fellow Bookworm groupies, our dear Deana was there. If labels are necessary, I’d characterize my illustrious guests as libertarian and conservative…Tea Party types. Some of us, in our younger days, had been Liberal and Democrat before we finally grew up…including (mea culpa!) me, moi and myself. My hope is that this was only one of millions of such meetings that have been and will take place all around our country leading up to 2010.

The first step we took was to define the problem…to frame the issues.

We took stock of our situation. We all agreed that America is an exceptional country that has been a terrific force for good to its own citizens and round the world. We all agreed that this era is ending and we really don’t like this. But for now, we still aren’t quite sure how to resist and reverse the surging tide. Our collective forecast was grim: we agreed that our country is likely to go bankrupt the way of Argentina or stagnate the way of Japan. We agreed that we are likely to soon find ourselves in a war . . . a major war. Why? Because as people who study the lessons of history, we are doomed to watch others repeat them and that one very salient lesson of history is that weakness invites attack. It’s the way of the world . . . the real world, not the abstract perceptions of American Liberal middle-and-upper- class utopia. There’s already blood in the water.

Then we defined the objectives.

We have a little less than 18 months to prepare for the next election.

Gauging from the last election, we probably don’t need to change that many minds. Obama’s margin of victory was about 10 million votes out of 69 million cast in his name. If we exclude those that voted Democrat because they were mad at GW or scared witless about the economy’s meltdown (let no crisis go to waste!), then we probably only need to sway about two-to-three million extra votes in key strategic areas. Although the Democrat Left has been very clever to schedule their massive tax and spend programs so that most of the pain will not be felt until after the 2010 elections, I doubt that they will be successful. As usual, they bank on a static world whereas everything is very much in flux. The pain is coming much faster than anticipated. Markets are forward looking and will react accordingly to the oncoming tsunami of debt and taxation. Our nation’s credit rating is already in question. Jobs will continue to be lost and (big) international mistakes will continue to be made. So, I think that we can safely expect disgruntlement to be at minimum at a low boil by 2010.

Plus, consider market segmentation.

We (all of us) only have limited resources to expend, so we need to expend them efficiently. We could go after the broad segment of the population that voted for Obama, or we could focus on the most likely converts. Let’s consider who voted for Obama:

In one group we have the true believers – the hard core leftists, the, MSNBC and Huffington Post crowd. They wallow in an alternate universe of bile, violence, hatred and perceptions and values that can never be reconciled with objective reality. They are, at their core, utopians who rage against the failings of a reality-based universe when in reality they rage against themselves and the unrequited wounds of troubled upbringings. As per the parable of the sower, this is rocky soil that can bear no fruit.

The second group is the group that simply fell in love with Obama, our Rorschach President. They love his voice, they love his demeanor and they love his looks and they hear only what they wanted to hear as they project their wants and needs upon him. This, folks, is Oprah-world. It’s a waste of time. These are the frivolous people whose waters will never run deep. These are the people that take their cues from daytime TV, Letterman, Olbermann and SNL and company. Don’t get me wrong, IQ has nothing to do with this: I know quite a few otherwise intelligent people that fall into this category, the MSM “intellectual” class being a case in point. We can’t waste our time and effort on these people…these are dead leaves blowing endless circles in the winds of hype.

The third group is the only one that matters.

These are the core value Democrats, the Reagan Democrats, the traditional value, blue-dog Democrats. They may have fundamental disagreements with Republicans (or what they think Republicans represent), the demonized “Christian Right” (oooo…let’s all look under our beds now!) and what they perceive us to be as “conservatives”, but their own values are, at heart, basically conservative. Most in this group are middle working class. Some are plumbers, others truckers (if I have learned anything from talk radio, it is that some of our most perceptive political thinkers are truckers). Many are black and Hispanic. Most work hard, enjoy normal family activities, worry about their kids and frankly don’t think too hard about politics until they have to. In sum, most lead healthy, balanced lives defined by by solid work ethics and values. They are fundamentally decent people. These, my friends, are America’s Hobbits…what one wizard referred to as an incredible repository of strength…once they are engaged. These are voters, under the constant onslaught of the MSM, who have not had the time or opportunity to hear or understand different points of view. These tend to be deeply patriotic Americans who have ample reason to distrust State power and have ample reason to be concerned about the future. They will awaken, of that I am sure.

This is our target market. And, remember…we only need to sway two or three million of them to share our perspectives on the world. We can do this.

Coming soon — How do we effectively change minds?

Hiding in plain sight

One of my ongoing themes here is the fact that I keep my conservatism very, very low key.  Most situations in my life don’t involve politics, but when politics come up, I’m quite careful.  I have no wish to be savaged.  Jim Miller, who lives in and writes about an equally liberal environment — the Seattle area — used my attitude as a starting point for asking his readings “Do you ever conceal your political views?”  With more than 100 comments, he got an earful in response, about secret views and public insults.  Most seem to feel that, at least in the workplace, discretion is the better part of valour.
One commenter got angry about this:

Except for Ragnar Danneskjold, who I give credit for at least being thoughtful about the situation, the rest of you sound like cowards.

It is no wonder Republicans lose, they hide from what they think.

At the least you could support those of us who confront Liberals, whether they are Democrats or the leadership of the King County and Washington State Republican Party.

Posted by: Brian Thomas on March 7, 2009 05:28 PM

In a way he’s right.  How can we ever win if we’re ashamed of ourselves?  But it’s easy to feel shame if you feel isolated, or denigrated or disrespected.  That’s why coming together, at conservative gatherings or public tea parties, is such a good idea.  We find our voices by finding each other.

Growing the grassroots

The gal who started the Marin conservative gatherings that I’ve had the pleasure of attending sent out a broadcast email reminding all conservatives, especially those trapped in blue communities, that it’s not enough to sit at home, read the blogs and complain.  We have to work towards a change in 2010.  If we wait to look, it may be too late to turn this ship of state.

For many of us, the work we do may begin just by having us reach out to each other.  For those of us feeling very isolated politically, there’s an almost overwhelming inertia we need to break through in order to become politically functional.  And for this living in true red communities, complacency, not fear or inertia, may be the worst enemy.

For these reasons, please read this message, forward it to your friends, AND THEN DO SOMETHING!!!

Dear conservative friends and family:

As many of you know, I live in the most liberal, nay progressive county in the universe. To combat the insanity, while maintaining my own, I started inviting conservatives over to my house to socialize, to be in a place where they could voice their views freely without rebuke or ridicule. With each party, I asked everyone to invite a conservative friend. (By the way, this endeavor was and is not associated with any political party nor does it involve the need to lay out money.)

The first party was attended by about 16 people. The following two parties grew into the mid 20’s and this last party had over 40 in attendance. Conservative guests came from San Francisco as well as Berkeley (yes, you heard me correctly!) seeking the comfort and camaraderie of fellow conservatives.

We have set up a yahoo groups account and are finishing work on a blog so we can stay in touch and abreast of articles, books, information and action points. This group is still mostly social, but the individual members are discussing ways to organize and fight. I’m not sure if this group will unite under one issue (as most organizations do) or serve as an umbrella organization for sub-groups or task forces that take on specific issues near and dear to their hearts. Either way, we will accomplish something.

Why am I writing this to you?

If you are in the Bay Area, I urge you to get involved w/ this group. This is a dynamic and diverse group of informed, educated, intelligent and accomplished individuals. If you are outside of the Bay Area, I urge you to start one of these on your own.

Why all of the urging?

Conservatives have historically been busy raising their families, working on careers, participating in religious activities and devoting the little free time they have to charitable works. We are not community organizers, agitators or activists. While we have been toiling with everyday life, expecting our elected officials to be doing the work we elected them to do, our liberal “friends” have been busy co-opting virtually every aspect of our lives—not just the obvious ones, like education and environment, but even going so far as to infiltrate and influence the policies of our churches and synagogues.

Anyone who pays attention to the news can see what is happening: our liberties, our savings, our values, our way of life are all being eroded at warp speed by the liberal juggernaut.

We can no longer sit back and hope the work is being done by others. To fight these fights on local, state and federal levels, we have to network with one another (young, old, retired, working, black, white, Christian, Jew—you get my drift), take on these issues and fight to restore our American Republic, which is fading with each passing day.

If we do not get involved, we are complicit in all the Obama Machine engenders.

Please pass this on to other conservatives around the country. It all starts with one little party and, I promise, it will grow from there.

And for those with a taste for old movies, here’s Nelson Eddy reminding us (starting at about the 2 minute mark) just how effective a small, but committed, group can be:

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Perpetually selfish anger and victimhood *UPDATED*

Ymarsakar brought to my attention a post I wrote over three years ago.  I’m reprinting a slightly edited version here, not just because I think it describes well the Arab psyche that drives so much of current international politics (and fears) today, but also because I think it does a good job of describing the Leftist psyche, which sees all politics as personal, and which wallows in victimization and anger:


Neo-Neocon got hold of an Atlantic Monthly from October 1961 with a Martha Gelhorn article about the Palestinian refugees, who were still a reasonably new phenomenon back then. Neo-Neocon’s whole post, which excerpts large parts of the article is sad reading, and Martha Gelhorn is amazingly prescient.  I wanted to focus on just one part of the article, in which Gelhorn describes the fact that, despite the rather pathetic situation of many of the Arabs (and Gelhorn is clearly sympathetic to their plight), she simply cannot feel sorry for them:

I had appreciated and admired individual refugees but realized I had felt no blanket empathy for the Palestinian refugees, and finally I knew why…It is hard to sorrow for those who only sorrow over themselves. It is difficult to pity the pitiless. To wring the heart past all doubt, those who cry aloud for justice must be innocent. They cannot have wished for a victorious rewarding war, blame everyone else for their defeat, and remain guiltless….

Arabs gorge on hate, they roll in it, they breathe it. Jews top the hate list, but any foreigners are hateful enough. Arabs also hate each other, separately and en masse. Their politicians change the direction of their hate as they would change their shirts. Their press is vulgarly base with hate-filled cartoons; their reporting describes whatever hate is now uppermost and convenient. Their radio is a long scream of hate, a call to hate. They teach their children hate in school. They must love the taste of hate; it is their daily bread. And what good has it done them?

There is no future in spending UN money to breed hate. There is no future in nagging or bullying Israel to commit suicide by the admission of a fatal locust swarm of enemies. There is no future in Nasser’s solution, the Holy War against Israel; and we had better make this very clear, very quickly.

There are a couple of interesting things about Gelhorn’s conclusion. First, I think it goes a long way to put to rest the Left’s drum beat about our being the logical victims of Arab hate because of the things we’ve done to them. America is not hated because she is the evil Imperialist boogey man of the world.  Instead, she is currently the most logical victim of Arab hate because hate is an integral part of Arab culture and we’re simply the biggest target — not to mention (at least to date) Israel’s staunchest friend.

Second, I found this 44 year old language made a nice bookend to a book review that the American Enterprise Institute did about a book written by a U.N. insider (hat tip: Power Line). The book being reviewed is The UN Gang: A Memoir of Incompetence, Corruption, Espionage, Anti-Semitism and Islamic Extremism at the UN Secretariat, by Pedro Sanjuan, an American who served on the staff of the secretary-general for more than a decade. The review is aptly entitled A Stagnant Cesspool in Turtle Bay.

You don’t need a lot of imagination or insight to realize that both the review and the book describe an organization that, since its post-WWII heyday (or maybe its post-Cold War heyday), is nothing but a money-wasting boondoggle for professional bureaucrats hostile to the U.S. (Nothing like biting the hand that feeds you.) What makes the review interesting for purposes of this post is the fact that the U.N. has gone from being a Western dominated institution to being one in the thrall of multiple Islamic countries who draw their U.N. salaries from the West (mostly America), but are irrevocably (and corruptly) hostile to its interest and to Israel.

In other words, they still are filled with hate, just as they were 44 years ago:

During the Cold War, the most serious problem posed by the organization was infiltration of the Secretariat by Soviet intelligence. Indeed, Mr. Sanjuan writes, “the Soviets actually controlled every important aspect of the U.N. Secretariat.” Some of his anecdotes are wildly funny–though they weren’t so funny at the time.

Since the end of the Cold War, Soviet hegemony at the Secretariat has been replaced by the growing influence of the Islamic bloc. Further, before 1989 the U.N. was basically a playground for representatives of irrelevant Third World states to pretend to be important (and enjoy shopping at Bloomingdale’s), while the U.S. and the Soviet Union confronted one another in more important places. Since the collapse of the latter, however, the Secretariat has refocused on undermining the United States–and the U.N.’s other bugaboo–Israel.

Indeed, the most shocking part of this book is the unwholesome obsession of the U.N. culture with Jews real or imagined, whether in Israel or the United States. Although Israel should have roughly 15 nominees working in the Secretariat, until recently there wasn’t a single one; even now, a disproportionate number are Palestianians with Israeli passports. As for the United States, it is alleged to be wholly under the thumb of Jews. When congressional critics like Senator Nancy Kassebaum or the late Senator John Heinz raise embarrassing questions that have nothing to do with Israel–say, about the U.N.’s finances–they are blithely dismissed as Jews themselves.

Apparently the first question put to Mr. Sanjuan himself when he joined the secretary-general’s staff (by his Soviet deputy) was “So your father was a Jew, yes?”) That such nonsense could take place during the tenure of a recycled Austrian Nazi like Kurt Waldheim can hardly surprise, but what are we to say when they continue under his successor, a low-rent Peruvian with the made-up name of Perez de Cuellar?

The only thing that saves the Jews from the malevolent obsession that the Islamic countries have brought to the U.N. is the organization’s gross inefficiency.  It burns up money, but does nothing (if you ignore school girl rapes and massive financial scandals, of course):

The principal characteristic of the organization, in Mr. Sanjuan’s telling, is its massive waste of resources. The Secretariat alone employs 6,000 people at annual budget of more than $2 billion. What do these people do? Nobody can actually say, and it is considered bad form to ask.  Its functionaries arrive at 10 a.m., take a three-hour lunch, and usually depart for their homes at 4 p.m. to avoid the evening traffic. Even during “working” hours many prefer to while away their time in a luxurious cafe-lounge on the top floor of the building.

It’s not clear, either, what useful tasks are performed by those who bother to remain on the floors below, since there is massive duplication of functions and no attempt whatever at rationalization or coordination. One example of expensive make-work is the U.N. publications department, which churns out thousands of documents that nobody reads in half a dozen languages, at a cost of $750 per page. Perhaps the most serious work being accomplished in the building takes place in the garage, where–during Mr. Sanjuan’s time at least–a very sophisticated drug-smuggling operation was under way.

Don’t rely on my summaries, though. Go to Neo-Neocon’s original post, and check out the American Enterprise Institute book review.


The above is (more or less) what I wrote in 2005.  The seething, churning, self-pitying hate, though, should be familiar to all who have watched the “progressives” suffer through the last eight (and, especially, the last eight) years of the Bush administration. Progressives have never really had a plan other than to destroy Bush and everything he respresents absolutely and completely. In this, they differ profoundly from conservatives.

As all of you have noticed, the reaction to this most recent election amongst mainstream (and defeated) conservatives is to engage in rational thought aimed at rejiggering conservatism to help Americans recognize that true conservativism will give the greatest benefits to the greatest number of people.  We’re not shrieking about stolen elections or about the terrible new evil resident in the White House (although I think that Obama, if he fails to recognize the innate evil that lives in Iran or Syria or North Korea or Venezuela, or other like places, is a fool, and possibly a dangerous one). Instead, we’re engaged in self-analysis, a bit of self-pity, and a lot of re-messaging.

Given that those same very self-pitying, perpetually victimized Leftists now hold the reins of American power, I think one of the best things we can hope for is that, like a U.N. populated with Islamic Jew-haters, bureacratic inefficiency will outweigh the hatred.  The desire to change will be there — and the Democrats will undoubtedly effectuate a good many changes — but the sheer weight of their commitment to the governmental, bureaucratic process is going to slow them down.  And if Fred Barnes is right, they’ll manage to do just enough to create openings for thoughtful conservatives who have refined their messages and positioned themselves for a victory predicated, not on victimhood and hatred, but on optimism and a belief in American exceptionalism.

UPDATE:  One of the other things that occurred to me about a commonality between the Left and the Arabs is that they’re not only sore losers (with the most recent evidence amongst the Left being the savage response to the will of the people vis a vis Prop. 8), it’s also that they’re ungracious, vicious winners.  This should be a reminder to Israel (who seems to need this reminder on a perpetual basis) that, when the inevitable upcoming “peace” talks begin with the Obama presidency, she’s still in a no win situation:  win or lose, Arab rage and pity will continue unabated.

Worst case scenario — and faith

Conservatives are regrouping and trying to come up with approaches to remarket themselves to Americans.  Quin Hillyer thinks it’s too late.  He may well be right, but I’m not taking a defeatist attitude.  The problem is that, once we give up, he’ll definitely be right.

As it is, we have an election in two years, which gives us a chance to shift Congressional power before Ailinsky-ism becomes too deeply entrenched.  That’s why we can’t stop to lick our wounds.  We have to energize RIGHT NOW.  We need to figure out important principles and find a marketable message.  If we spin our wheels too endlessly bemoaning our failures and weaknesses, and their strengths and successes, we will have missed the window of opportunity to harness the tremendous political energy still radiating from this election.

Right off the bat, one of the Republicans I was fortunate enough to meet here in Marin while working for the McCain campaign said something really wise:

It is all about marketing these days.  Obama had focuses groups help him decide on the “Change and Hope” mantra.  We need to seriously think about changing the word “conservative”.  It is tired and colorless and has too many meanings.  Just like anti-abortion went to Pro-Life which was brilliant…we have got to change that word “conservative”…with the help of focus groups!

I think she’s right.  “Conservative” does sound stodgy and, to the extent the past is castigated instead of studied and understood, liberals have effectively made conservatives sound as if they’re guilty of and want to repeat every error in the past, including slavery and Jim Crow (each of which lived in the Democratic party).

Think too of the way liberals positioned themselves as “Progressives,” which is so forward sounding.  It allowed them to keep from the public the truth, which is that their operative facts have always been rooted in the past (Vietnam, pre-Roe back alley abortions, rampant anti-black racism, etc), while their solutions were last fresh when Marx and Engels first articulated them.

Please don’t give up now.  Use your beliefs, principles, intelligence, knowledge and creativity constructively, because I think we’ve got a one or two year window of time to make a difference.

When moderation is not a virtue

Moderation is a virtue in so many things:  if we eat moderately, we can enjoy a wide variety of foods without risking our weight or health; if we drink moderately, we can enjoy alcohol without the negatives of alcoholism; and if we exercise moderately, we can increase our health without damaging our bodies.

It turns out, though, that in matters of principle, certain core beliefs cannot be moderated without destroying the principle itself.  That’s what conservatives discovered this election:  without core conservative principles as ballast, “conservatism” becomes nothing but a word, unanchored to anything at all.  There is no there there.

My statement, above, is not a demand for extremism.  It is, however, an insistence that, in the next go round, conservatives need to figure out which principles are inextricably intertwined with conservative notions, and then they need to stick to those principles.

John McCain, who is as good and true a man as ever there was, didn’t have those fixed principles.  Instead, as a maverick, he respond situationally, with his gut leading his response as often as not.

Obama, on the other hand, does have fixed principles.  There are two guiding lights in his life, and he never loses sign of them:  First, his own self-aggrandizement and, second, his Leftist world view.  I suspect that, despite all the lies, prevarications and secrets, voters picked up on the underlying fixity of purpose, translated that in their own minds as “strength,” and voted for him as the strong candidate.

All of which is a lead-in to John Hawkins’ excellent analysis of why conservatives cannot build a strong political party around moderates.  Note as you read it that he is not calling for political extremism.  He’s not demanding that conservatives become fascist totalitarian types, who demand total control of the world and the deaths of their enemies.  Instead, he is arguing that, without fixed principles, a political party becomes meaningless — and loses.

In my liberal days, I used to fancy myself a moderate, and I would joke that I was so middle of the road, I got hit by traffic coming from both directions.  It never occurred to me that this wasn’t virtuous, but was merely weakly foolish.  I would have done better to analyze carefully the traffic coming from either direction, and to pick the side that seemed to build that best cars.

Prescient Reagan

This is not the first time, and it won’t be the last, that conservatives who abandon their principles go down in flames to liberals who run to the middle (but invariably govern to the Left).  Reagan saw it happen in 1975, described what was wrong, and prescribed the way for true conservatism to be resurgent.  The following is a long speech, but every word is worth reading, so I present it here in its entirety:

Since our last meeting we have been through a disastrous election. It is easy for us to be discouraged, as pundits hail that election as a repudiation of our philosophy and even as a mandate of some kind or other. But the significance of the election was not registered by those who voted, but by those who stayed home. If there was anything like a mandate it will be found among almost two-thirds of the citizens who refused to participate.

Bitter as it is to accept the results of the November election, we should have reason for some optimism. For many years now we have preached “the gospel,” in opposition to the philosophy of so-called liberalism which was, in truth, a call to collectivism.

Now, it is possible we have been persuasive to a greater degree than we had ever realized. Few, if any, Democratic party candidates in the last election ran as liberals. Listening to them I had the eerie feeling we were hearing reruns of Goldwater speeches. I even thought I heard a few of my own.

Bureaucracy was assailed and fiscal responsibility hailed. Even George McGovern donned sackcloth and ashes and did penance for the good people of South Dakota.

But let’s not be so naive as to think we are witnessing a mass conversion to the principles of conservatism. Once sworn into office, the victors reverted to type. In their view, apparently, the ends justified the means.

The “Young Turks” had campaigned against “evil politicians.” They turned against committee chairmen of their own party, displaying a taste and talent as cutthroat power politicians quite in contrast to their campaign rhetoric and idealism. Still, we must not forget that they molded their campaigning to fit what even they recognized was the mood of the majority.

And we must see to it that the people are reminded of this as they now pursue their ideological goals—and pursue them they will.

I know you are aware of the national polls which show that a greater (and increasing) number of Americans—Republicans, Democrats and independents—classify themselves as “conservatives” than ever before. And a poll of rank-and-file union members reveals dissatisfaction with the amount of power their own leaders have assumed, and a resentment of their use of that power for partisan politics. Would it shock you to know that in that poll 68 percent of rank-and-file union members of this country came out endorsing right-to-work legislation?

These polls give cause for some optimism, but at the same time reveal a confusion that exists and the need for a continued effort to “spread the word.”

In another recent survey, of 35,000 college and university students polled, three-fourths blame American business and industry for all of our economic and social ills. The same three-fourths think the answer is more (and virtually complete) regimentation and government control of all phases of business—including the imposition of wage and price controls. Yet, 80 percent in the same poll want less government interference in their own lives!

In 1972 the people of this country had a clear-cut choice, based on the issues—to a greater extent than any election in half a century. In overwhelming numbers they ignored party labels, not so much to vote for a man or even a policy as to repudiate a philosophy. In doing so they repudiated that final step into the welfare state—that call for the confiscation and redistribution of their earnings on a scale far greater than what we now have. They repudiated the abandonment of national honor and a weakening of this nation’s ability to protect itself.

A study has been made that is so revealing that I’m not surprised it has been ignored by a certain number of political commentators and columnists. The political science department of Georgetown University researched the mandate of the 1972 election and recently presented its findings at a seminar.

Taking several major issues which, incidentally, are still the issues of the day, they polled rank-and-file members of the Democratic party on their approach to these problems. Then they polled the delegates to the two major national conventions—the leaders of the parties.

They found the delegates to the Republican convention almost identical in their responses to those of the rank-and-file Republicans. Yet, the delegates to the Democratic convention were miles apart from the thinking of their own party members.

The mandate of 1972 still exists. The people of America have been confused and disturbed by events since that election, but they hold an unchanged philosophy.

Our task is to make them see that what we represent is identical to their own hopes and dreams of what America can and should be. If there are questions as to whether the principles of conservatism hold up in practice, we have the answers to them. Where conservative principles have been tried, they have worked. Gov. Meldrim Thomson is making them work in New Hampshire; so is Arch Moore in West Virginia and Mills Godwin in Virginia. Jack Williams made them work in Arizona and I’m sure Jim Edwards will in South Carolina.

If you will permit me, I can recount my own experience in California.

When I went to Sacramento eight years ago, I had the belief that government was no deep, dark mystery, that it could be operated efficiently by using the same common sense practiced in our everyday life, in our homes, in business and private affairs.

The “lab test” of my theory – California—was pretty messed up after eight years of a road show version of the Great Society. Our first and only briefing came from the outgoing director of finance, who said: “We’re spending $1 million more a day than we’re taking in. I have a golf date. Good luck!” That was the most cheerful news we were to hear for quite some time.

California state government was increasing by about 5,000 new employees a year. We were the welfare capital of the world with 16 percent of the nation’s caseload. Soon, California’s caseload was increasing by 40,000 a month.

We turned to the people themselves for help. Two hundred and fifty experts in the various fields volunteered to serve on task forces at no cost to the taxpayers. They went into every department of state government and came back with 1,800 recommendations on how modern business practices could be used to make government more efficient. We adopted 1,600 of them.

We instituted a policy of “cut, squeeze and trim” and froze the hiring of employees as replacements for retiring employees or others leaving state service.

After a few years of struggling with the professional welfarists, we again turned to the people. First, we obtained another task force and, when the legislature refused to help implement its recommendations, we presented the recommendations to the electorate.

It still took some doing. The legislature insisted our reforms would not work; that the needy would starve in the streets; that the workload would be dumped on the counties; that property taxes would go up and that we’d run up a deficit the first year of $750 million.

That was four years ago. Today, the needy have had an average increase of 43 percent in welfare grants in California, but the taxpayers have saved $2 billion by the caseload not increasing that 40,000 a month. Instead, there are some 400,000 fewer on welfare today than then.

Forty of the state’s 58 counties have reduced property taxes for two years in a row (some for three). That $750-million deficit turned into an $850-million surplus which we returned to the people in a one-time tax rebate. That wasn’t easy. One state senator described that rebate as “an unnecessary expenditure of public funds.”

For more than two decades governments—federal, state, local—have been increasing in size two-and-a-half times faster than the population increase. In the last 10 years they have increased the cost in payroll seven times as fast as the increase in numbers.

We have just turned over to a new administration in Sacramento a government virtually the same size it was eight years ago. With the state’s growth rate, this means that government absorbed a workload increase, in some departments as much as 66 percent.

We also turned over—for the first time in almost a quarter of a century—a balanced budget and a surplus of $500 million. In these eight years just passed, we returned to the people in rebates, tax reductions and bridge toll reductions $5.7 billion. All of this is contrary to the will of those who deplore conservatism and profess to be liberals, yet all of it is pleasing to its citizenry.

Make no mistake, the leadership of the Democratic party is still out of step with the majority of Americans.

Speaker Carl Albert recently was quoted as saying that our problem is “60 percent recession, 30 percent inflation and 10 percent energy.” That makes as much sense as saying two and two make 22.

Without inflation there would be no recession. And unless we curb inflation we can see the end of our society and economic system. The painful fact is we can only halt inflation by undergoing a period of economic dislocation—a recession, if you will.

We can take steps to ease the suffering of some who will be hurt more than others, but if we turn from fighting inflation and adopt a program only to fight recession we are on the road to disaster.

In his first address to Congress, the president asked Congress to join him in an all-out effort to balance the budget. I think all of us wish that he had re-issued that speech instead of this year’s budget message.

What side can be taken in a debate over whether the deficit should be $52 billion or $70 billion or $80 billion preferred by the profligate Congress?

Inflation has one cause and one cause only: government spending more than government takes in. And the cure to inflation is a balanced budget. We know, of course, that after 40 years of social tinkering and Keynesian experimentation that we can’t do this all at once, but it can be achieved. Balancing the budget is like protecting your virtue: you have to learn to say “no.”

This is no time to repeat the shopworn panaceas of the New Deal, the Fair Deal and the Great Society. John Kenneth Galbraith, who, in my opinion, is living proof that economics is an inexact science, has written a new book. It is called “Economics and the Public Purpose.” In it, he asserts that market arrangements in our economy have given us inadequate housing, terrible mass transit, poor health care and a host of other miseries. And then, for the first time to my knowledge, he advances socialism as the answer to our problems.

Shorn of all side issues and extraneous matter, the problem underlying all others is the worldwide contest for the hearts and minds of mankind. Do we find the answers to human misery in freedom as it is known, or do we sink into the deadly dullness of the Socialist ant heap?

Those who suggest that the latter is some kind of solution are, I think, open to challenge. Let’s have no more theorizing when actual comparison is possible. There is in the world a great nation, larger than ours in territory and populated with 250 million capable people. It is rich in resources and has had more than 50 uninterrupted years to practice socialism without opposition.

We could match them, but it would take a little doing on our part. We’d have to cut our paychecks back by 75 percent; move 60 million workers back to the farm; abandon two-thirds of our steel-making capacity; destroy 40 million television sets; tear up 14 of every 15 miles of highway; junk 19 of every 20 automobiles; tear up two-thirds of our railroad track; knock down 70 percent of our houses; and rip out nine out of every 10 telephones. Then, all we have to do is find a capitalist country to sell us wheat on credit to keep us from starving!

Our people are in a time of discontent. Our vital energy supplies are threatened by possibly the most powerful cartel in human history. Our traditional allies in Western Europe are experiencing political and economic instability bordering on chaos.

We seem to be increasingly alone in a world grown more hostile, but we let our defenses shrink to pre-Pearl Harbor levels. And we are conscious that in Moscow the crash build-up of arms continues. The SALT II agreement in Vladivostok, if not re-negotiated, guarantees the Soviets a clear missile superiority sufficient to make a “first strike” possible, with little fear of reprisal. Yet, too many congressmen demand further cuts in our own defenses, including delay if not cancellation of the B-1 bomber.

I realize that millions of Americans are sick of hearing about Indochina, and perhaps it is politically unwise to talk of our obligation to Cambodia and South Vietnam. But we pledged—in an agreement that brought our men home and freed our prisoners—to give our allies arms and ammunition to replace on a one-for-one basis what they expend in resisting the aggression of the Communists who are violating the cease-fire and are fully aided by their Soviet and Red Chinese allies. Congress has already reduced the appropriation to half of what they need and threatens to reduce it even more.

Can we live with ourselves if we, as a nation, betray our friends and ignore our pledged word? And, if we do, who would ever trust us again? To consider committing such an act so contrary to our deepest ideals is symptomatic of the erosion of standards and values. And this adds to our discontent.

We did not seek world leadership; it was thrust upon us. It has been our destiny almost from the first moment this land was settled. If we fail to keep our rendezvous with destiny or, as John Winthrop said in 1630, “Deal falsely with our God,” we shall be made “a story and byword throughout the world.”

Americans are hungry to feel once again a sense of mission and greatness.

I don ‘t know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, “We must broaden the base of our party”—when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents.

It was a feeling that there was not a sufficient difference now between the parties that kept a majority of the voters away from the polls. When have we ever advocated a closed-door policy? Who has ever been barred from participating?

Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?

Let us show that we stand for fiscal integrity and sound money and above all for an end to deficit spending, with ultimate retirement of the national debt.

Let us also include a permanent limit on the percentage of the people’s earnings government can take without their consent.

Let our banner proclaim a genuine tax reform that will begin by simplifying the income tax so that workers can compute their obligation without having to employ legal help.

And let it provide indexing—adjusting the brackets to the cost of living—so that an increase in salary merely to keep pace with inflation does not move the taxpayer into a surtax bracket. Failure to provide this means an increase in government’s share and would make the worker worse off than he was before he got the raise.

Let our banner proclaim our belief in a free market as the greatest provider for the people.

Let us also call for an end to the nit-picking, the harassment and over-regulation of business and industry which restricts expansion and our ability to compete in world markets.

Let us explore ways to ward off socialism, not by increasing government’s coercive power, but by increasing participation by the people in the ownership of our industrial machine.

Our banner must recognize the responsibility of government to protect the law-abiding, holding those who commit misdeeds personally accountable.

And we must make it plain to international adventurers that our love of peace stops short of “peace at any price.”

We will maintain whatever level of strength is necessary to preserve our free way of life.

A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.

I do not believe I have proposed anything that is contrary to what has been considered Republican principle. It is at the same time the very basis of conservatism. It is time to reassert that principle and raise it to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.

Conservative politics in a nutshell

Thanks to ex cathedra, I’ve learned that the guy in that fun video in my post yesterday has prepared a tighter video statement of his conservative beliefs:

In commenting on the video, USMaleSF notes that he agrees with the conservative principles, but not the Republican party affiliation.  I understand that attitude.  Conservatism is a belief system, which is nice and pure.  The Republican party is a political entity, peopled with fallible humans.

In the past several years, those same fallible humans have fallen away from pure conservative principles —  they’ve been corrupt, profligate and, often, cowardly.  However, they are the political party that still hews closest to those principles, especially in this fight against Obama.  That’s why, rather than calling myself a conservative Republican, I would say that I’m a conservative who votes Republican.

Getting subliminal messages to our kids

What our kids hear, day in and day out, is moral relativism.  It’s the top note to their lives, whether it comes on TV, in cheesy movies, on the news or, most commonly, at school.  That might not be the only lesson they’re learning, though.  The other lesson, the subliminal one, might be about good old fashioned values of good versus evil, and the need to save the former by fighting the latter.

As you may recall, two years ago I wrote a lengthy article about the moral lessons in the hugely popular Lord of the Ring, Harry Potter and Narnia books and movies.  Others have caught the strong whiff of Christianity in the last Harry Potter book, and I have noted that, while Rowling has announced that Dumbledore, an almost saintlike character is gay, the unhappy personal history she gave him is not an advertisement for the free and easy gay lifestyle.  In other words, each of these hugely popular literary and movie franchises advances profoundly conservative values.

In keeping with this theme, Andrew Klavan has now opined that the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, is a powerful moral tale supporting Bush’s often lonely battle against Islamism:

There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

“The Dark Knight,” then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year’s “300,” “The Dark Knight” is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that these conservative messages resonate so strongly with movie goers.  A good story is about tension, and the best stories are about moral tension.  In a completely relativistic world, where all people — no matter what they do — are accorded precisely the same level of moral respect, how the heck are you going to have a compelling story?  Batman — good.  The Joker — good.  Harry Potter — good.  Voldemort — good.  And if you concede that The Joker and Voldemort are doing bad things in this vapid world of moral relativism, you’re still obligated to explain their acts away by pointing to their genetics or their bad childhoods.  Really, under those circumstances, it’s downright cruel for Batman or Harry Potter to hunt and hound to death these poor victims of society.

Values problems in bed and in politics

Conservatives believe that it is dangerous to tumble into bed with someone instantly. They’re appalled by the raunchy hook-up culture amongst our young people, one that says it’s okay to have sex on the first date, as long as you try to line up reasonable precautions to limit some of the damaging fall-out (such as pregnancy and STDs). They think instead that young people who value themselves and want to have optimal outcomes should take the time to get to know each other before they take the relationship to next step. Liberals, however, think conservatives are anti-abortion fuddy-duddies who are denying natural sexuality and trying to turn America into a retrograde Puritan nation.

The same jump in bed divide appears in politics, too. As John Fund so beautifully said in an excellent article detailing Obama’s myriad flaws:

While Republicans tend to nominate their best-known candidate from previous nomination battles (Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and now John McCain), Democrats often fall in love during a first date. They are then surprised when all the relatives don’t think he’s splendid.

Michael Dukakis had a healthy lead in 1988 against the elder Bush at this time and right through the political conventions. Then came the GOP’s dissection of his Massachusetts record and his tank ride. Bill Clinton was able to win with only 43% of the vote in 1992, thanks in part to Ross Perot’s presence as a spoiler. John Kerry had a six-point lead in the May 2004 Gallup poll over President Bush, then the wind-surfer crashed. All of those candidates had never run for national office before. Democrats paid a price for running a rookie.

Eating our own *UPDATED*

I caught a minute of Mike Gallagher today, and he was talking about the fact that Republicans are more critical of Republican candidates than Democrats are critical of Democratic candidates. It occurred to me that, at least in this election cycle, that may be because there are real, substantive differences between the Republican candidates. We’ve got Ron Paul, who is a pure libertarian and possible white supremacist; John McCain, who is strong on defense, but weak on free speech, and spineless to environmental extremists; Mitt Romney, who has positioned himself as a traditional conservative who is for strong borders, a strong national defense, pro-life, etc., with a sound grasp of economic issues; Mike Huckabee, who is loudly Christian, a social conservative, and a big government liberal; and Rudy Giuliani, who is a social liberal and a hawk. With the exception of Ron Paul, all have had leadership experience, but of a very different type: McCain was in the military; Romney ran businesses and the Massachusetts government; Huckabee governed Arkansas; and Giuliani ran huge criminal prosecutions and New York. So, just as there are differences in their approach to conservative politics (and all are more conservative than not), there are also significant differences in their practical experience. Republicans have a real choice, and real choice begets real debate.

It’s different with the Dems. For one thing, none of them have any managerial experience. They’ve all been Senators, which means working with a group of 99 other people. None have them has taken the lead in the Senate, so they can’t even point to leadership experience in those august chambers. John Edwards has a bit more private sector experience than the other two but I can tell you that even the most successful lawyer cannot be compared to a manager. Managing a case is not the same as manager a system — whether that system is a business or a government. Obama was an academic, which is the antithesis of management, and Hillary was, well, Hillary managed Bill, I guess. They’re all good at manipulating people, Edwards because he’s a trial lawyer, and Obama and Hillary because they’re Alinsky disciples, but that’s not leadership or management. So, they’re pretty much the same looked at from that point of view.

In terms of politics, they’re peas in a pod: they want out of Iraq, they deny that Islamists pose a threat to America, they like open borders, and they want more government involvement in everything (parenting, health care, education, managing people’s money, controlling businesses, etc), which means more taxes on people they decide are “rich.”

The fact that Edwards, Obama and Hillary are virtually indistinguishable on paper may explain why identity politics has become so important. It’s not just Hillary’s dirty politics and it’s not just that the “identity politics” chickens are coming home to roost. The preeminence of racial or sexual identity in this race has become the only way you can tell one Democratic candidate from another. And poor Edwards, distinguished by being white and male, is precluded by political correctness from trumpeting that fact. In other words, identity, by being the only difference between the candidates, is also the only area of debate left for the Democrats. And it’s no surprise that it is in this area — the substance-free area that will have absolutely nothing to do with the way in which a Democrat, if victorious, will govern — that the Democratic debate has become most heated.

So, I guess I’m happy that Republicans are focused on substance, and using their free speech rights to hammer out important issues that will have a lasting effect on America (if a Republican wins). And I’m desperately sad that the cookie-cutter Democrats, in order to have a debate and distinguish themselves in the eyes of the voters, have almost completely backed off from any substantive issues (as to which they have no meaningful differences), and devolved into childish racial and gender name calling. If Americans elect one of them, the Country will deserve what it gets.

UPDATE: Regarding the enthusiasm gap the media professes to find between Dems and Republicans, if one does indeed exist, I suspect that has more to do with the enthusiasm Democratic voters have for a shot at the White House than with anything else. That is, I think that, even more than feeling excitement about their own candidates, Democrats are simply excited about a possible chance to defeat Republicans.

UPDATE II: For another reason why there might be an “enthusiasm gap,” keep in mind that, while Bush’s presidency is almost over, Bush Derangement Syndrome continues in full force. Indeed, with the inevitable end of his presidency drawing near, Bush haters seem to be drawing on after burners for some new energy.

A forum to discuss an article that might run on American Thinker

I’m heading in the pre-dawn hours tomorrow morning for a day of soccer far from home. I have reason to believe that something I wrote might run on American Thinker tomorrow (Saturday), and that people might want to comment about it here. (Indeed, those of you who visit my blog regularly may recognize what I wrote and even be able to wave hello to your own helpful contributions.) Therefore, consider this the open thread for the American Thinker article, or for anything else you might want to say.

All comments, of course, are subject to my usual blog rules. I’m always delighted with civil, rational input but, at the first opportunity, will destroy nonsense, obscenities, personal attacks, threats, racism, etc.

What conservative bloggers are thinking.

Just quickly wanted to let you know that, if you go to Right Wing News, you can get some insight into the way in which conservative bloggers view a lot of policy initiatives on the table right now in Washington.

Moving Republicans forward in American hearts and minds

A week ago, I did a post that sought to find issues common to the greatest number of conservatives — and I got a lot of wonderful help from you guys in the comments section. I still hope to turn it into a more widely read article, but I’m a little bogged down in real world work right now (the kind that pays the bills).

In some ways, it was a silly, almost school-girlish effort (or a Rodney King-ish, can’t we all can’t along exercise), but I think it was still an important one. Lorie Byrd might agree, since she wrote a column today pointing out the damage conservative divisiveness is doing to our chances to stop the Hillary juggernaut:

Many Republicans are battling over the reason for the 2006 losses and come down in different camps. Some think the cause was not enough Republicans running as strong conservatives — especially on the issues of spending and immigration. Others think the blame lies with those Republicans who preferred their side go down in defeat to punish those who did not take a strong enough stand on various issues. I think it was a little bit of both. Too many Republican politicians were too squishy on issues like spending and immigration and let the Democrats campaign to the right of them. That never should have been allowed to happen. There were also some in the Republican party who decided they would prefer a loss to punish the party in the hopes that the result would be a return to more conservative principles. Those people sure got what they wanted, but I wonder how happy they are with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid.

One big problem I see right now for the GOP is that some factions within the party are too busy trying to convince each other they are right about what went wrong in 2006 that they can’t come together to build a strategy that will win elections. There are many things that can be done to elect conservative Republicans, including recruiting attractive candidates with strong conservative credentials. There are also many ways to ensure another Republican defeat. Unfortunately I am seeing a whole lot of defeatist behavior. Here is a short list of things I see some Republicans doing that could ensure another loss in 2008.

1. Instead of taking positive action and doing the hard work necessary to elect strong conservative candidates in the primaries, whine about how the Republicans aren’t any better than the Democrats. It is sure as heck a lot easier to whine than to make phone calls, stuff envelopes and knock on doors for conservative candidates.

2. After a primary candidate is chosen (without any help from you), forget about how many more positions on issues you and the GOP candidate share, and forget how far left their Democratic opponent is, and instead work against the Republican in the general election (or withhold support from them) to “send a message.”

3. Instead of disagreeing in a civil manner over various issues with those in the party, get emotional and accuse those on your side of being mean doodyheads. (If anyone doubts this is going on, I will gladly share evidence of it with you, but will admit that generally a word worse than “doodyhead” is employed.)

4. Bask in the misery of another loss and instead of working to get conservative Republicans elected in 2010, try to pull as many others as possible into your negative state of being.

Okay, those were just a few suggestions. There are literally thousands of other ways to lose elections, but those worked pretty well the last time around.

I particularly like the “mean doodyhead” reference, which could only have been written by a parent!

What we stand for

Matt Bai has written a new book, The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, which looks at the movers and shakers who are working hard to remake the Democratic party. It sounds like an interesting, well-written book, and one that anyone interested in American politics should read.

I learned about the book through Dan DiSalvo’s review in Commentary. DiSalvo commented on one facet of the new Democrats that struck me with particular force:

According to Bai, the new progressive coalition is primarily united by what it is against. Its opposition to the Iraq war is ferocious. The person of George W. Bush, who has been described by one activist as a “chicken hawk” bent on instituting a “dictatorship,” elicits emotions of universal fear and loathing. Bush aside, almost any policy initiative associated with the Republican party is regarded as stupid, malicious, or both.

But the new progressives have great difficulty in saying what they are for. Although Bai reports that intellectual circles on the Left have put forth many technocratic policy prescriptions, mostly aimed at extending the programs of the New Deal and the Great Society, the movement lacks any sort of larger vision. A typical statement from the Democracy Alliance proclaimed support for such vagaries as “the highest quality education, affordable health care, retirement security, and the opportunity to earn a living wage.” Similarly, was able to distill only three goals from a series of tightly scripted “meet-ups” held across the country: “health care for all, energy independence, and democracy restored.”

Despite this paltry output, the new progressives are convinced not only of their intellectual superiority but of their political acumen. They see only two possible explanations for the errant behavior of Americans in the “fly-over” states who remain stubbornly in the Republican column. One is that red-state residents tend to be Christian evangelicals who do not know any better than to “vote against their own economic self-interest.” The other is that they have been manipulated by Republican operatives who, however dim-witted their policies, are cunning masters of electioneering. Some bloggers also complain that establishment Democrats, as the Daily Kos has explained, “don’t care [enough] about winning” to engage in the sort of campaign skullduggery that is routine for the GOP.

With such convictions as the backdrop, debate inside the Democratic party’s “Democratic wing,” Bai shows, is less about policy than about tactics and strategy.

That’s an interesting concept, and I think one that contains within it the seeds for the new Democrats’ eventual destruction. Americans are an essentially optimistic people, and while the angry fringe may be an “against” vote, I wonder how well that plays to the average voter who is simply trying to vote in a way that will most optimize his own life and belief systems. The fact is, though, that the destruction is not imminent and Republicans are so bogged down in a “we’re failures” mentality that they’re not coming up with any affirmative principles to which the average, optimistic voter can cling.

I’ve therefore come up with a few of my own rock bottom principles that I think unite most conservatives, as long as we don’t look too closely at details. What I’d like is for you to chip in which principles, beliefs, values, etc., that you believe are common to the greatest majority of conservatives. And just to give an idea of what I mean — which is that I’m looking for huge, binding issues that transcend Congressional details — I’m starting with the issue that is getting press as the one that most severely damaged the Republican party in the last go round.


Lowest common denominator Conservative belief: Conservatives believe that America is weakening itself by allowing illegal immigrants to stream into the country.

Apparent Democratic belief: It’s racist to challenge the numbers of illegal immigrants and to place barriers in their path.

The Supreme Court

Lowest common denominator Conservative belief: Conservatives believe that the role of the Supreme Court is to examine state and federal laws and lower court decisions to determine whether they comport with the written Constitution.

Apparent Democratic belief: The Supreme Court is to decide what is right and what is wrong — and it can get help for this by looking to its own private standards of morality, to dominant cultural trends, and to foreign systems — and it should then direct policy consistent with its findings.

(I was going to do an “abortion” heading here, and then I decided not to. I’m looking for a lowest common denominator strand of beliefs and, while the Republicans are more closely connected with the pro-Life movement, there are pro-Choice Republicans. It’s therefore not a lowest common denominator. However, it is affected by the binding conservative view of the Supreme Court, since we all know — as Clarence Thomas articulated — that a strict constructionist Supreme Court will jettison Roe v. Wade and return the matter to the states, where it belongs. Then, the chips will fall where they may, regardless of political platforms.)

The Iraq War

Lowest common denominator Conservative belief: Conservatives believe that, whether or not we made the right decision in 2003 to invade Iraq, that is a done deal, and our only responsibility now is to fight wholeheartedly and to win.

Apparent Democratic belief: President Bush got us into the War to satisfy his oil buddies in Texas and, to punish him, we must leave immediately, regardless of the consequences to America, to Iraq, or to world security.

Islamic Terrorism

Lowest common denominator Conservative belief: Islamic terrorism is real, it is the product of a totalitarian religious ideology that has as its ultimate goal the destruction of non-Muslim Western culture, there is no middle ground given its goal, and we must fight it.

Apparent Democratic belief: Islamic terrorism is the work of a few people angry at the US (and especially at George Bush), and the best thing we can do to placate these people is to (a) leave Iraq; (b) abandon Israel; (c) dump George Bush; and (d) engage in dialogue with the Islamic leaders.


Lowest common denominator Conservative belief: Government is a bad money manager. People make money grow, and lower taxes allow for a livelier, growing economy, with the inevitable result that the government, despite lower taxes, brings in more money.

Apparent Democratic belief: People cannot be trusted to make the right decisions with their money. It’s better if the government takes and redistributes wealth, notwithstanding the fact that doing so slows the economy.


And that’s it for my ideas and my time right now. I’d love it if you guys could take a crack at this in the comments, either editing what I wrote or adding your own. Please keep in mind that I’m looking for big ideas that appeal to the greatest number of people. Gay marriage might be another area to add. I think the vast majority of Americans are tolerant of gays, who are their friends, family and colleagues. They don’t want gays to suffer from violence, public humiliation or discrimination. But they’re pretty sure that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that the rights extended to gays should be limited to civil and legal rights, by statute or contract, provided they fall short of marriage. The question, though, is how to say that pithily, in a way that states the lowest common denominator belief (no gay marriage) while at the same time not playing into the hands of those who would accuse conservatives of being violent homophobes.

So, go to it. Come up with something better than I did, and perhaps we can work this into a real “platform” of affirmative ideas that are unifying, rather than getting bogged down in picayune details that muddy the message and pass the power to the haters.