Category Archives: Political Philosophy

Op-ed Specifically Denouncing Neoconservatism Published at Townhall.com

Townhall.com is as generic a movement con organ as you can find, yet they published this op-ed from Jack Kerwick specifically condemning neoconservatism. This is progress. I don’t think this would have passed muster five years ago, certainly not ten years ago.

If the Democratic Party’s control of the presidency and the Senate can succeed in provoking the base of the GOP to reevaluate its collective political identity, then it all may just have been worth it.

Maybe—maybe—the internecine conflict currently on display in the GOP indicates a breakdown of that political philosophy that has dominated Republican Party politics, as well as the so-called “conservative movement,” for decades.

The name of this philosophy is neoconservatism, and it isn’t a version of conservatism at all.

Read more …

The truth that neoconservatism is not a form of conservatism is one that can’t be repeated often enough, even though it’s a point that is well understood by most readers of a site like this. Sometimes repetition is necessary if people have repeatedly been told the opposite.

Does Anyone Know What Happened to Blogger Daniel Larison?

There used to be this really good paleoconservative blogger I enjoyed reading named Daniel Larison. He had this cool blog called Eunomia and even endorsed Chuck Baldwin in 2008. Now I can’t find his work anywhere. I Goggled his name, and it took me to some guy at The American Centrist by the same name, but it’s clearly not the same guy. This other Daniel Larison is all worked up about extremist Republicans and reads like some wannabe David Brooks.

See here

and here

and here

So if anyone knows where I can find the original Daniel Larison, please let me know. I really miss him.

Who Shot JFK? The Return of JFK Conspiracy Theorizing

Below, Hawthorne mentions the recent proliferation of books about the JFK assasination.

Jesse Ventura, Roger Stone, and now Jerome Corsi, are all riding new books on the JFK Assassination, and if you have to ask, none of them support the Lone Gun Man theory.

(As an aside, I think Jerome Corsi has taken to writing books as a form of income generation. He has really been churning them out recently. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I just think he may pick topics he knows will sell books, which makes for a rather random list of books to his credit.)

I have never looked into the Kennedy assassination that much. It happened before my time, unlike Vince Foster, for example, whose investigation I followed pretty closely at the time. But I am somewhat familiar with the various theories, simply because you can’t travel in outside the mainstream circles and not be exposed to them.

With the Kennedy assassination, there are two issues that are often conflated but shouldn’t be. First, was Oswald the Lone Gun Man. The other largely separate issue is, whether he was or wasn’t the lone shooter, did he act on his own or was he acting for someone. Because so much has been invested by both sides in the first question, the second question has sometimes gotten lost.

The pro-conspiracy side believes that if the Lone Gun Man theory is disproved, then the whole story comes crashing down. The pro-official story side believes that if the Lone Gun Man theory is upheld, then the conspiracy theorists will lose face and can be ignored. From the beginning this has always seemed unfortunate to me. Yeah, if there really was more than one shooter then that would seal the deal of a cover-up, but that has always struck me as the secondary, not the primary issue.

Hence, I have never had a problem accepting the Lone Gun Man theory. It’s plausible. But I have always taken for granted that it is entirely possible some other forces were behind the shooting. I don’t assert definitively that others were behind the shooting, because I don’t know that. But it seems to me that that should be the default assumption and that Oswald acted on his own should require the burden of proof. That Oswald acted alone is plausible on the surface, but it is not a conclusion you jump to. If a wife turns up missing, you default suspect the husband. Doesn’t mean he did it, but you don’t default assume a benign explanation.

This is the problem with conspiracy theories. They make otherwise intelligent people stupid. People invested in disbelieving the official explanation will often believe highly implausible things. But people who are invested in believing and defending the conventional wisdom will often cast all their critical thinking skills aside in defense of the official story. Any questioning of the official story is tantamount to full bore conspiracy theorizing.

This dynamic was much in evidence in the Birther debate. Because the issue initially was about Obama being born in Kenya, something that always seemed highly implausible to me, then the defenders of the official story always made it about Kenya, but it is entirely plausible that Obama was not born in Kenya but that his story is still false in some other way. Anti-Birthers act as if it is inconceivable that anyone would ever lie about their past.

So I guess what I’m saying is that we need a more nuanced class of conspiracy theorists and a less lickspittle class of official story defenders, but what explains the recent proliferation of JFK books? I honestly believe that people are beginning to question the official line more and more. Doubt of the official story for more and more is becoming their default rather than acceptance. I noticed this with the Syria chemical weapons attack. The official story provoked immediate eye rolling in many. The people most accepting of the official story seemed to be the press who were trying to convinced a skeptical public, which is the opposite of how it should be. This changing dynamic bodes well for our cause IMO.

A Little Strauss Bashing and Paleo Inside Baseball all in One

Here is a slightly dated essay from Paul Gottfried that appeared at VDARE. I don’t know how I missed it when it came out. I post it now because any opportunity to take a swipe at Strauss and the neocons is a good one. And also because it recounts a little paleo intrique that not everyone may be familiar with.

Here’s the inside baseball stuff. I like Cleas Ryn. I think his insight into the neocons as modern day Jacobins is spot on. But this episode was pretty wimpy:

Full disclosure: Professor Ryn and I have known each other for more than thirty years and spent considerable time together, socially and professionally. In 2007, we cofounded the Academy of Philosophy and Letters , aiming to fill the Philadelphia Society’s former role as a forum for conservative discussion, before it fell under neoconservative control.

But we came to a parting of the ways when Professor Ryn and an assistant,  NHI President Joe Baldacchino, demanded the removal from our organization of anyone who had addressed the IQ question or even been present at conferences in which this delicate subject was broached. My admission that I did indeed believe that individuals and ethnic groups have differing cognitive abilities resulted in Ryn’s unexpected insistence that I myself should leave.

 I took along those who opposed the censorship and set up the H.L. Mencken Club.  From what I can determine, our side has many more members than APL—and more open discussion. (HLMC has its sixth annual conference in Baltimore November 1-3—register here!).

And here is some Strauss/neocon bashing:

Conservatism Inc. has been so totally infiltrated from the Left that those ideas that used to define the Left—abstract universalism, the rejection of ethnic differences, the moral imperative to extend equality to all human relations—has spread to the official Right. The political debate in America now centers on Leftist propositions. Accordingly, someone like Bloom, who could barely conceal his animus against what remains of a traditional Western world based on what Ryn rightly calls a “classical and Christian” heritage, could be featured in the late 1980s as an American patriot and cultural traditionalist.

Originalism is Not That Complicated

This is a post about Justice Scalia, but Daniel McCarthy uses the opportunity to take a swipe at movement conservatism (what else is new) and a rather obtuse swipe at originalism. For this new iteration of Daniel McCarthy talk of nuance, thoughtfulness etc. is a synonym for moderation. But an honest examination of originalism leads to more, not less, radical outcomes. Below is my post which has not yet been approved. I can’t see why it would be censored, unless they are balking at my reference to natural born citizen, but that is a perfectly legit example.

There are issues with originalism. Do you go with what what was actually written or what was likely intended? And whose intent? The Framers only? The state ratifying conventions only? Popular understanding at the time? Some combination? But that said, most issues are not murky from an originalist standpoint, particularly the doctrine of enumerated powers. So if we have all these originalist jurists then why aren’t they striking down programs on the basis of enumerated powers? Saying “you can’t do that” is not activism. Expanding powers and rights is activism.

One issue where original intent really is murky is just what they intended by requiring that the President be a natural born citizen. Perhaps they could look into that. But whether the Framers/state conventions intended to allow the Feds to run a healthcare program is not murky. They didn’t.

Modern conservative judges are only originalists to the extent that it doesn’t strike at longstanding programs. They are originalists around the edges.

Note: My comment has been approved.

Rand Paul’s Sell-Out is Absolutely Undeniably Complete: Now Says Lincoln was “One of Our Greatests Presidents”

The Jack Hunter fiasco fall-out continues. Now it has completely finished off Rand Paul as well. Someone please give Rand a Testosterone injection.  He is clearly running low. For those who have argued that Rand Paul was just making rhetorical concessions as part of “playing the game” but was still stealthily one of us, I thought that argument lost credibility when

1) he babbled PC platitudes before a Howard University audience, or

2) spouted PC immigration boosterism before a Hispanic organization, or

3) offered Israel a security guarantee to placate the neocons (You see how well that worked out don’t you?)

but I could see that some still held out hope. Gentlemen, I’m sorry to inform you, but it’s time to give it up. It’s over. Rand Paul is done. (Here is the original HuffPo interview.)

“I’m not a fan of secession,” Paul told Fineman. “I think the things he said about John Wilkes Booth are absolutely stupid. I think Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents.”

I actually don’t doubt that Rand Paul still stealtily holds views very similar to his father’s. That is the impression he gave when he stumped for his father in 2008, before he ran for Senate, but what good do those stealth views do for us? Does anyone think that Rand is going to stealthily get himself elected to the White House and then on day one declare “Ha! I fooled you!” and start vetoing all unconstitutional spending (almost all of it), or shutter the Fed, or grant the South a free pass to leave the Union? At best he is going to marginally tax less, marginally spend less, and marginally pull back on our foreign policy adventurism, because he has talked himself into a corner. So we pay slightly less in taxes and the country financially collapses in 2035 instead of 2030. Whoopee!

This is why I have such an aversion to rhetorical concessions. I don’t have a problem with stylistic concessions. I don’t have a problem massaging how you say certain things. I don’t have a problem with “playing the game” (competing in a GOP primary or being active in the party for example) to a degree. I don’t have a problem conceding the political reality as it actually is on the ground. In fact, I have always been very realistic about the sorry state of our present political reality.

It is partially because our reality is so sorry that rhetoric matters so much. Because at this point it’s all we got. Therefore we have to be willing to wage the rhetorical battle and make some headway there before the political battle will matter. When a national politician with Presidential aspirations can say to a HuffPo reporter “Darn right I think Lincoln was a tyrant and secession is a perfectly legal option! If I didn’t I wouldn’t be a propper conservative.” and the “right” doesn’t go into spastic denunciations, then we will have made some progress.

At this point, ours is primarily a rhetorical battle whether everyone wants to accept this fact or not.

Note: For those who say we are overdoing the Hunter story, you’re wrong. Fighting the PC Thought Police is the field of battle right now.

The “Libertarian” Cato Institute Defends NSA Snooping?

You can’t make this stuff up.

The defense of the NSA program by these two authors is of particular note because of the authors’ affiliation with the Cato Institute that describes itself as “dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace” and having a “strict respect for civil liberties and skepticism about the benefits of both the welfare state and foreign military adventurism.” The authors’ article is providing valuable cover for the advocates of the mass spying program.

The authors of the article Kristol is promoting are Cato Institute Center for Constitutional Studies President Roger Pilon and Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar Richard A. Epstein who wrote an attempted sweeping exculpation of the National Security Agency (NSA) and all the branches of the US government for the NSA’s mass spying on phone calls.

These tools say:

Legally, the president is on secure footing under the Patriot Act

Umm … not if the Patriot Act is unconstitutional. And even if a Cato scholar believes the Patriot Act to be technically legal, he should be bashing it as an obnoxious overreach, not using it in an apologia for another obnoxious overreach.

Regarding whether or not the coup at Cato was for the better or for the worse, I think it is safe to say that the verdict is in.

President of the Vegetarian Institute Says There is a Vegetarian Case for Forced Meat Eating Bill

Obvi Usfraud, the new President of the Vegetarian Institute, who was recently installed following a coup by wealthy donors from the meat packing industry, says that there is a vegetarian case for the recently defeated Forced Meat Eating Bill. In an op-ed piece for no less than the New York Times, he writes:

Last week, senators blocked a compromise measure that would have compelled vegetarians to eat meat, despite polls that showed that 90 percent of the public supported the idea.

I’m a vegetarian who played a role in reducing forced meat eating in the nation’s capital. In 2008, in a landmark case I helped initiate, Heller v. District of Columbia, the Supreme Court declared for the first time that the Constitution protects an individual right to be vegetarian.

But the stonewalling of the forced meat eating bill was a mistake, both politically and substantively. Following a series of tragic cases of protein deficiency, public opinion is overwhelmingly in favor of reasonable legislation forcing vegetarians to eat some meat. There was also plenty in the proposal that vegetarians like me could embrace.

The compromise — carefully negotiated by two moderate vegetarian supporters, Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania — should be reintroduced in the Senate. I am convinced that, with some modifications, it could still be passed, because it would add reasonable protections for both vegetarians and those concerned about protein deficiency.

Sounds reasonable to me.

President of Cato Institute Says There is a Libertarian Case for Manchin-Toomey Background Check Bill

Those who thought Ed Crane’s ouster from Cato would be bad for the allegedly libertarian think tank’s direction, now have more proof.

New Cato President Robert Levy says there is a libertarian case for Manchin-Toomey. He says so in an op-ed in the New York Times. With friends like these?

Whatever the faults of Ed Crane, I doubt he would have written an op-ed in the New York Times defending gun control. What is the point of such a spectacle other than attempting to establish your “reasonable” street cred? I hope the Koch brothers are proud.

Mayor Bloomberg: “Our interpretation of the Constitution” has to change

Typical “living breathing” Constitution liberal. This stretches the meaning of the word interpret beyond the breaking point. An interpretation is fixed. It’s static, and it is either accurate or inaccurate or some combination of both. What Bloomberg wants is not an updated interpretation. He wants permission to ignore the accurate interpretation.

Conservative or libertarian? Round III

The energetic discussion generated by the question of what organizing principle best advances liberty has been a pleasant surprise to me. Check out the various arguments raised here, here, and here.

Another worthy contribution to the debate is posted at The Classic Liberal. It’s definitely worth reading in its entirety.

Here’s as brief a summary as I can offer of the difference between conservatism and all the other little isms: Conservatism was first described in reaction to the advent of leftism in the Western world, the French Revolution. The Jacobins saw reason as sovereign, and desired to sweep away all the imperfections and irrational practices that they imagined had held mankind back. Burke vigorously rejected that notion, and countered that custom and tradition are sovereign. The accumulated wisdom of an organic society is priceless and irreplaceable.

Click here to continue.

Shocking News! Chairman of Beltway Libertarian CATO Institute Doesn’t Think Nullification is Constitutional

Here is some shocking news from the “dog bites man” department. The new Chairman of the Beltway Libertarian CATO Institute doesn’t think nullification is Constitutional. (The title is misleading. He rests final authority for Constitutional interpretation with the Courts.) Whoda’ thunk it? A PC sensitive cosmotarian eschewing a doctrine that if embraced might get him branded a thought criminal? No way! Such a thing has never happened before.

Tom Woods sets him straight.

Speaking of Libertarians, Immigration, CPAC and a Plan

Below I mention Judge Nap’s libertarian immigration problem. In another thread C Bowen praised James Kirkpatrick for having a “plan.” Here is a new VDARE article from James Kirkpatrick (Is that his real name?) called “CPAC 2013: Conservatism Inc. vs. Libertarianism Inc.?” It is a very insightful article. I am growing fond of Mr. Kirkpatrick’s writing. Here is the makings of a paleo ”plan.”

While neoconservatives lectured us that the national interest consisted of becoming a “universal nation” and spreading democracy overseas, the new left-libertarianism tells us the national interest doesn’t even exist.

The good news: the American people simply don’t support root-canal libertarianism.

Which provides an opportunity. There is no reason that immigration patriots should go down with U.S.S. Conservatism Inc. As elite opinion solidifies behind amnesty, immigration patriots gain a political opening for a populist movement that can be anti-corporate, economically nationalist, racially realist—and politically dangerous to “conservatives,” progressives, and libertarians alike.

Immigration patriots can build a new movement that can stand up for the historic American nation that the Beltway Right—libertarian and “conservative”—has utterly betrayed.

Front Porch Republic to Form a Publishing Company

This is interesting news. We have sometimes been critical of FPR (see here, here, here and here), but I consider this good news. As I said in the Policy Review post below, the left has journals for every conceivable niche, but the right has only a few. Likewise with publishing companies. There are all sorts of niche left-wing presses, but very few “conservative” presses and most of them primarily churn out books from “conservative” celebrities. This is a welcome development.

Burn the Constitution!

An openly Marxist magazine calls for scuttling the Constitution. Marxists know their projects require the heavy hand of omnipotent government if they’re ever to be implemented. And the whole point of the Constitution (and further reinforced by the Bill of Rights) was to LIMIT the power of the central government.

We are entering the Era of Interesting Times.

More Jon Huntsman Moderation Grandstanding (Climate Change, etc.)

There is something about the spotlight and garnering the praise of others that must be like crack, because once these centrist  Republicans who like to bash other Republicans get a taste of it, they can’t seem to stop. Take a look at this story. I’m not sure what kind of a site BuzzFeed is, but I get the feeling the author may just get what Huntsman is up to. Even the title seems to be needling him a bit.

When it comes to highlighting his party’s deficiencies, Huntsman has never been shy. In fact, his ascent to national notoriety has been fueled and fed by regular, headline-grabbing attacks on the GOP — a habit that has turned him into every Democrat’s favorite Republican, and every Republican’s favorite punching bag.

Since I have already beat up on Mr. Huntsman before, I won’t rehash that old ground. I want to focus on one part of his critique specifically.

“The minute that the Republican Party becomes the… anti-science party, we have a huge problem.”

Anti-science? This may also be a reference to the evolution vs. creation debate, but it is clearly a reference to climate change which is mentioned earlier in the article. The science of climate change aside, since Huntsman’s concerns are allegedly about the future electoral viability of the GOP, then is he suggesting that there is mass popular support for measures that would have a significant impact on carbon emissions? Which policies would those be? Would the GOP improve their electoral prospects if they supported a large increase in the gas tax? Cap and trade? Since that went over so well last time. If championing climate change is such a winner with voters, why did Obama drop it like a hot potato? I think Jon Huntsman is more concerned with making the GOP more acceptable to his social circle than he is about the GOP’s electoral prospects in general.

Crunchy Com Icon Wendell Berry Reveals Himself as Just Another PC Liberal on Gay Marriage

I have never been hostile to Wendell Berry, but I have never quite understood the veneration some crunchy con/Front Porch Republic types seem to have for the guy. Well now he has come out rather obnoxiously for gay marriage and some conservatives are disappointed to say the least.

“If I were one of a homosexual couple — the same as I am one of a heterosexual couple — I would place my faith and hope in the mercy of Christ, not in the judgment of Christians,” Berry said.

Um Wendell, the Bible condemns homosexual behavior as a sin. The Church has recognized this from the beginning as did Jews before them. Under Jewish law, a law Christians believe was written by God Himself, homosexual acts were a capital offense. That’s pretty serious business.

Of course all Christians place their “faith and hope in the mercy of Christ,” but they don’t get to rewrite the rule book based on modern PC sensibilities. How silly does Berry’s quote sound when we replace homosexuality with some other sins that haven’t yet gotten the PC reprieve.

If I were an adulterer I would place my faith and hope in the mercy of Christ, not in the judgment of Christians.

If I were a thief I would place my faith and hope in the mercy of Christ, not in the judgement of Christians.

This is true, adulterers and thieves should place their faith and hope in the mercy of Christ. It is the only hope they have. But they don’t get to write thievery and adultery out of the list of things condemned by the Bible and go on about their adultering and thieving ways.

(Some of) Conservative Inc. Denounce Boehner’s Plan B

A group of “conservative” “leaders” have issued a statement denouncing Boehner’s Plan B. The group reads like a Who’s Who of Conservative Inc. But this is the problem with opposing Conservative Inc. per se. Occasionally they get something right. They should be opposed when they are wrong and worked with when they are right. Here they are right.

Prominent conservative leaders … scheduled a press conference this afternoon to denounce Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” tax increase for addressing the fiscal cliff. Some are accusing Grover Norquist of giving cover to the establishment to facilitate this cave-in and hand President Barack Obama a liberal victory.

Read more…