David Kirkpatrick

October 11, 2010

Congrats to Sully

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:33 am

Many thanks and congratulations to Andrew Sullivan for reaching ten years blogging at his Daily Dish. It’s simply one of the best, and most honest, political (and, of course, more) blogs out there. He wears his heart on his sleeve most of the time and every once in a while can make a fairly harsh snap judgement on any number of topics, but one thing Sullivan has always done is remain intellectually curious and open. As he himself has put it more than once, you can watch him change his mindset on topics in real-time over weeks and months of blog posts. The Daily Dish has long been a daily read for me, and I doubt that changes anytime soon.

July 16, 2010

Jonah Goldberg and cogent arguments …

… are mutually exclusive.

This is a very interesting take at Reason on where libertarianism is heading. It features three essays:

  • (Reason) Contributing Editor Brink Lindsey is vice president for research at the Cato Institute. He writes from the libertarian perspective stating libertarians need a clean break from the conservative political movement.
  • Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Goldberg argues libertarianism should retain and seek out ties to the conservative movement.
  • Matt Kibbe is president of FreedomWorks. He makes the argument the Tea Party movement is a libertarian movement.

It’s a long read for online content, but certainly worth the time if you are interested in libertarianism and are curious how to reconcile today’s political climate in the United States with a fiscally conservative/socially liberal stance.

The extended title refers to Goldberg’s essay. He’s certainly no intellectual heavyweight (or even light middleweight for that matter) and almost exclusively falls back on talking points from up on high and straw men in both his short- and long-form writing. This contribution to Reason did not disappoint on that measure.

To keep this short I’ll just point out one particularly egregious example.

Here’s Goldberg from graf six:

For starters, why should libertarianism be so hostile to culturally conservative values? Isn’t libertarianism about freedom, including the freedom to live conservatively if that’s what people choose?

Er, Jonah, libertarianism is not hostile to conservative values in the least and certainly all people should have the freedom to live conservatively, or not, if they choose. The problem comes when conservative values become the law of the land through bad policy. When this happens all people don’t have the opportunity to live as they choose. Only conservatives are permitted that right.

So it pays to remember, and to be intellectually honest, in recognizing there is a huge difference in being hostile to conservative values and hostile to conservative laws. Libertarians tend to dislike the heavy hand of the state in all spheres of influence. The free market for sure, but just as much in the free mind and body.

April 6, 2010

When David Frum …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:41 am

… isn’t “conservative” enough for the GOP, the term has lost all meaning.

I guest-blogged at FrumForum (then New Majority) at the launch of the site and quickly figured out as a fiercely independent little “l” libertarian, I had essentially nothing to offer the conversation the GOP was getting into. Now it seems the same is happening to Frum himself. The American political term “conservative” has been stretched beyond belief to the point it either doesn’t mean what most people on the right think it does, or more likely it just doesn’t have any true meaning to speak of anymore.

The politics of Karl Rove are not conservative. The presidency of Bush 43 was not conservative in almost every aspect, and the ramblings of Sarah Palin are absolutely not conservative. And these self-described “conservatives” on the right are further and further marginalizing themselves and the party. The GOP should see some gains this electoral cycle, and in a way that might be the worst possible thing for the long-term viability of the Republican brand. A tiny ray of political hope might keep the party from the dramatic re-imagining that needs to happen sooner, rather than later.

November 21, 2009

Media figures are truly taking over the GOP

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:59 pm

This isn’t going to end well for the Republican Party.

From the link:

Pundits have used their media stages to encourage political action before, but people like Mr. Beck and Mr. Hannity are taking on outsize roles now, political experts and conservative commentators say. One reason, they say, is the weakened state of the Republican Party.

The media figures’ roles may exacerbate the ideological feuds that are already roiling the party. For the diffuse tea party movement that taps into anti-government sentiments, “the media guys are the closest things we even have to a leader,” said Adam Brandon, the vice president for communications at FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group.

These efforts are reminiscent of the Contract With America pledge made by conservatives during the 1994 elections, though some Republicans who are uncomfortable with media personalities taking on new political roles note that that effort originated with lawmakers.

November 8, 2009

Sully on K-Lo

Kathryn-Jean Lopez is an editor-at-large for the National Review Online and is no rocket scientist. Sadly, the National Review, a once bastion of intellectual thought on the right, is now pretty much lockstep with what passes for political philosophy on the American right — that is, it doesn’t exist. Plenty of me-tooism and anger at paper tigers, but not so much on the fronts that make any difference.

Andrew Sullivan, blogger of the Daily Dish, and an actual philosophical conservative, totally nails Lopez here:

… this is National Review, a place where intellectual Catholicism once had a home, where Buckley and Muggeridge wrote, where Wills got his start … and now we’re left with a person with the intellectual heft of a college sophomore …

 

October 5, 2009

Conservapedia wants to rewrite the Bible

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:21 pm

I say let ’em have at it.

And in contradiction to beliefnet commenter Joshua Zelinsky, I say it’s not surprising at all:

The combination of ignorance and arrogance is shocking.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

September 28, 2009

Bill Safire, RIP

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:42 pm

Regardless of what you thought about his politics, Safire was one the great op-ed columnists for over 30 years. Political discourse and the civil media lost a little yesterday.

From the link:

William Safire, a speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon and aPulitzer Prize-winning political columnist for The New York Times who also wrote novels, books on politics and a Malaprop’s treasury of articles on language, died at a hospice in Rockville, Md., on Sunday. He was 79.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, said Martin Tolchin, a friend of the family.

There may be many sides in a genteel debate, but in the Safire world of politics and journalism it was simpler: There was his own unambiguous wit and wisdom on one hand and, on the other, the blubber of fools he called “nattering nabobs of negativism” and “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.”

August 13, 2009

Sanity from the right — Bruce Bartlett

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:51 pm

After this piece he’ll probably get shouted down as a RINO or some sort of defeatist, but Bruce Bartlett’s — yes, the conservative economist Bruce Bartlett— Daily Beast missive pointing out where the current economic rage against Obama from the right is just wrong is a needed voice against the current stream of idiocy on display nightly from rightwingers.

Of course in today’s United States conservative does not equal “Conservative.” Just ask David Frum. Self-proclaimed “Conservatives” wouldn’t get a truly conservative policy if it came from their mythic, almost to the point of fiction, champion Ronald Reagan himself.

What is “Conservative” today in the U.S.? If you spend much time watching cable news you’d guess it’s dominated with very angry, quite crazed old white people making complete demagogic spectacles of themselves. The shouted slogans are nonsensical and for the most part flat out incorrect. Sure it makes for great public theater and rating, but there is such a thing as being given enough rope to hang yourself. This “movement” if you want to go that far in characterizing a loosely organized astroturfing campaign, is doing more harm than good for any actual policy directives it hopes to implement.

From the link:

I think conservative anger is misplaced. To a large extent, Obama is only cleaning up messes created by Bush. This is not to say Obama hasn’t made mistakes himself, but even they can be blamed on Bush insofar as Bush’s incompetence led to the election of a Democrat. If he had done half as good a job as most Republicans have talked themselves into believing he did, McCain would have won easily.Conservative protesters should remember that the recession, which led to so many of the policies they oppose, is almost entirely the result of Bush’s policies. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began in December 2007—long before Obama was even nominated. And the previous recession ended in November 2001, so the current recession cannot be blamed on cyclical forces that Bush inherited.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

August 4, 2009

Conservatism as a movement of “no”

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:24 pm

Andrew Sullivan made a very pertinent point today at the tail end of a post on a related, but more focused, topic. His point is conservatism as it’s realized today in the United States is against a lot of things, but not really for anything.

At one point in time you could honestly believe conservatism sought limited government and civil liberties. Those days are long over. Sure many self-styled conservatives in the GOP will sp0ut these ideals, but as nothing more than platitudes while doing nothing in terms of public policy, promoting legislation or even simply offering philosophical arguments on the hows and whys of this approach to government.

It’s easy to shake your head “no” at every proposal offered by those across the aisle. It’s a lot more difficult to actually counter with solutions and ideas to join all that dissent. Just ask today’s Republican Party.

From the link:

I repeat to conservatives: we know what you’re against, in healthcare, energy, counter-terrorism, taxation, gay rights, abortion. What are you actually for? How do you intend to actually address the questions of our time and place? And if conservatism cannot do that, what use is it?

June 5, 2009

The “ick” factor and conservatives

One explanation given for opposition to same-sex marriage is the so-called “ick” factor. That is revulsion against the very idea of homosexuality by heterosexuals.

Take this for what it’s worth because it smells a lot like a solution in search of problem, but here’s research from Cornell connecting that very response with a group largely against same-sex marriage — political conservatives.

Food for thought if nothing else.

The release (yeah, I know I said the release dump was over with the last post):

Easily grossed out? You’re more likely a conservative,
says Cornell psychologist

Are you someone who squirms when confronted with slime, shudders at stickiness or gets grossed out by gore? Do crawly insects make you cringe or dead bodies make you blanch?

If so, chances are you’re more conservative — politically, and especially in your attitudes toward gays and lesbians — than your less-squeamish counterparts, according to two Cornell studies.

The results, said study leader David Pizarro, Cornell assistant professor of psychology, raise questions about the role of disgust — an emotion that likely evolved in humans to keep them safe from potentially hazardous or disease-carrying environments — in contemporary judgments of morality and purity.

In the first study, published in the journal Cognition & Emotion (Vol.23: No.4), Pizarro and co-authors Yoel Inbar of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and Paul Bloom of Yale University surveyed 181 U.S. adults from politically mixed “swing states.” They subjected these adults to two indexes: the Disgust Sensitivity Scale (DSS), which offers various scenarios to assess disgust sensitivity, and a political ideology scale. From this they found a correlation between being more easily disgusted and political conservatism.

To test whether disgust sensitivity is linked to specific conservative attitudes, the researchers then surveyed 91 Cornell undergraduates with the DSS, as well as with questions about their positions on issues including gay marriage, abortion, gun control, labor unions, tax cuts and affirmative action.

Participants who rated higher in disgust sensitivity were more likely to oppose gay marriage and abortion, issues that are related to notions of morality or purity. The researchers also found a weak correlation between disgust sensitivity and support for tax cuts, but no link between disgust sensitivity and the other issues.

And in a separate study in the current issue of the journal Emotion (Vol.9: No.3), Pizarro and colleagues found a link between higher disgust sensitivity and disapproval of gays and lesbians. For this study, the researchers used implicit measures (measures that have been shown to assess attitudes people may be unwilling to report explicitly; or that they may not even know they possess).

Liberals and conservatives disagree about whether disgust has a valid place in making moral judgments, Pizarro noted. Conservatives have argued that there is inherent wisdom in repugnance; that feeling disgusted about something — gay sex between consenting adults, for example — is cause enough to judge it wrong or immoral, even lacking a concrete reason. Liberals tend to disagree, and are more likely to base judgments on whether an action or a thing causes actual harm.

Studying the link between disgust and moral judgment could help explain the strong differences in people’s moral opinions, Pizarro said; and it could offer strategies for persuading some to change their views.

“People have pointed out for a long time that a lot of our moral values seem driven by emotion, and in particular, disgust appears to be one of those emotions that seems to be recruited for moral judgments,” said Pizarro.

That can have tragic effects — as in cases throughout history where minorities have been victims of discrimination by groups that perceived them as having disgusting characteristics.

The research speaks to a need for caution when forming moral judgments, Pizarro added. “Disgust really is about protecting yourself from disease; it didn’t really evolve for the purpose of human morality,” he said. “It clearly has become central to morality, but because of its origins in contamination and avoidance, we should be wary about its influences.”

The studies were funded by Cornell.

 

##

May 23, 2009

The GOP is not conservative

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:47 pm

What passes for conservative in today’s parlance and politics is not the least bit connected to traditional Western political conservatism. Quoted here is a great graf from

From the link:

At the same time, Burke recognized that governments were obligated to use their powers to meliorate intolerable conditions. He had, for example, supported the American Revolution because its architects, unlike the French rebels, had not sought to destroy the English government; on the contrary, they petitioned for just representation within it. Had King George III complied, he would have strengthened, not weakened, the Crown and Parliament. Instead, he had inflexibly clung to the hard line and so shared responsibility for the Americans’ revolt. “A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation,” Burke warned. The task of the statesman was to maintain equilibrium between “[t]he two principles of conservation and correction.” Governance was a perpetual act of compromise–“sometimes between good and evil, and sometimes between evil and evil.” In such a scheme there is no useful place for the either/or of ideological purism.

April 28, 2009

Douthat’s debut

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:39 am

Ross Douthat’s first New York Times column is up. He was formerly blogging at the Atlantic from the right and replaced Bill Kristol as the NYT’s conservative voice.

His first gambit is a little bold in that he’ll likely draw some scorn from the far right looking for any excuse to brand him as a squishy shill imported by the liberal NYT for watered-down right wing views.

Like most of his previous work, I agreed in part and disagreed in part, but overall enjoyed the op-ed. Of course the premise of the column is ridiculous for a  number of reasons. Hit the link for the whole thing. It’s only an op-ed, so it’s short.

From the link:

As a candidate, Cheney would have doubtless been as disciplined and ideologically consistent as McCain was feckless. In debates with Barack Obama, he would have been as cuttingly effective as he was in his encounters with Joe Lieberman and John Edwards in 2000 and 2004 respectively. And when he went down to a landslide loss, the conservative movement might – might! – have been jolted into the kind of rethinking that’s necessary if it hopes to regain power.

March 9, 2009

Frum on the GOP and Limbaugh at Newsweek

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:30 pm

David Frum has an excellent cover story at Newsweek on the ongoing “discussion” within the GOP on Limbaughism and the general state of conservatism. It’s a long-form piece, but well worth the time taken to read the entire article.

Frum is doing some great work at NewMajority.com, but his message is being shouted down by the lowest common denominator in the GOP.

I did a guest blog post in the early days of NewMajority back in late January, but have yet to follow-up. The initial plan was for me to provide a few posts a week. A spate of freelance work and a bout with the flu has kept me from keeping that schedule up right now. I do intend to continue contributing to NewMajority as long as Frum will have me, but I also have to admit I’m not sure I have a lot to add to the GOP debate given the current state of affairs.

My libertarian moderate message really isn’t part of a shouting match on exactly what the Republican Party should be going forward. Right now it looks like some sort of “pure” hard right politics that appeals to roughly a third (or more likely much less) of the electorate versus a political party interested in debating the subjects of the day and engaging all voters in some fashion. Depending on the outcome of this internecine conflict, the GOP will either no longer compete on a national scope or it will become a solid opposition party and hopefully inject ideas and policies into U.S. government.

The options are that stark and Frum gets it. Here’s his lede establishing his conservative and GOP bona fides. A laundry list necessary because the rabid right has idiotically decided Frum is just another RINO. Good move there guys. Try to alienate someone who is honestly seeking solutions instead of shouting at walls.

From the first link:

It wasn’t a fight I went looking for. On March 3, the popular radio host Mark Levin opened his show with an outburst (he always opens his show with an outburst): “There are people who have somehow claimed the conservative mantle … You don’t even know who they are … They’re so irrelevant … It’s time to name names …! The Canadian David Frum: where did this a-hole come from? … In the foxhole with other conservatives, you know what this jerk does? He keeps shooting us in the back … Hey, Frum: you’re a putz.”

Now, of course, Mark Levin knows perfectly well where I come from. We’ve known each other for years, had dinner together. I’m a conservative Republican, have been all my adult life. I volunteered for the Reagan campaign in 1980. I’ve attended every Republican convention since 1988. I was president of the Federalist Society chapter at my law school, worked on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal and wrote speeches for President Bush—not the “Read My Lips” Bush, the “Axis of Evil” Bush. I served on the Giuliani campaign in 2008 and voted for John McCain in November. I supported the Iraq War and (although I feel kind of silly about it in retrospect) the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I mention all this not because I expect you to be fascinated with my life story, but to establish some bona fides. In the conservative world, we have a tendency to dismiss unwelcome realities. When one of us looks up and murmurs, “Hey, guys, there seems to be an avalanche heading our way,” the others tend to shrug and say, he’s a “squish” or a RINO—Republican in Name Only.

March 7, 2009

One conservative take on the abortion issue

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:08 pm

Here’s a well-reasoned take on the issue of abortion by John Derbyshire at Secular Right. Pragmatic and realistic, not two words that can often be applied to the arguments of the right or left.

From the link:

And what do the right-to-lifers want? A total nationwide ban on all abortions, at any time? Yes, that seems to be what they want. Do they really imagine that’s going to happen? What a waste of political energy!

My reader is correct, though. If you’re not in lockstep with the right-to-lifers, you’re never really quite the thing in U.S. conservative circles. It’s a marker of acceptability. I was phone-in guest on a radio show recently. Waiting for the on-air, some glitch allowed me to overhear the two hosts talking behind the commercial break. “Funny sort of conservative,” said one. “I mean, he’s OK with abortion …?” Yep, I’m OK with it. Sorry, guy.

February 26, 2009

Tweeting CPAC

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:57 pm

Here’s a collection of Twitter tweets with the #cpac09 hashtag. I’m guessing many are coming from the wankfest that is CPAC 2009.

If you want to follow this yourself just head to Twitter and do a search for the #cpac09hash (or just hit the convenient link I provided).

And now, the tweets:

Shoq: LOL 11 people show at Borders for Joe The Plumber book signing. 5 copies sold at #cpac09. See? Conservatives DO know piffle!

MattFriedeman: The 2% illusion…take all they’ve got and it still won’t be enough! (WSJ) http://tinyurl.com/bv7xjo (expand) #tcot #cpac09

MartyEisenstadt: Katherine Harris minus Overdone Makeup equals Michelle Bachmann. No? #cpac09

jmp5329: Us making fun of Joe the Plumber, no matter if you like him or not, is as bad as Chris Matthews making fun of Jindal #cpac09

CoraleneLayer: So nice to pray with a whole room and not need to be in church. #Cpac09

Pal2Pal: @jmp5329 Making fun of Joe or Sarah is elitists admitting they have no answers for common sense & are afraid the people are right. #cpac09

I’ll update this list a bit later.

Update 7:30 — Upon reflection, to Pal2Pal above, I must an elitist with no answers for common sense. Because we all know both Palin and (not)Joe the fool are paragons of all sorts of sense.

More tweets:

lenejohansen: Still think Palin was the freshest breath of the four that battled it out Nov 4th, no matter what issues we disagre on. #tcot #cpac09

dmataconis: wonders why the guy who questioned Obama’s citizenship wasn’t booed off the stage at #cpac09

ultimatejosh: White Nationalist group “Youth for Western Civilization” allowed at #CPAC09 http://tinyurl.com/aatlmx (expand) #tcot

Tuck23: Blog updated http://arob.tumblr.com pullin no punches…UN has it coming going after free speech #politics #cpac09 #tcot

Derbyshire on conservative talk radio

This is a wonderful article by John Derbyshire (of National Review and Secular Right fame) at The American Conservative on conservative talk radio and how it has slowly wrecked the GOP.

I’ve blogged on the negative influence of Limbaugh, et.al. in the past, and I think the echo-chamber of idiots totally primed the path for the state of the Republican Party today. A party that may not exist as a serious national political force in ten years time.

Couldn’t tell you what the answer is to the rapid decline of the
GOP, and even worse for the party the fact that decline continues unabated to this very minute. Obama’s powerful speech and Jindal’s weak sauce response last night pretty much sum up the tall and short of it.

Whether current political winds make you happy or leave you in dispair, take the time to read Derby’s entire piece. It’s worth the time.

From the link:

With reasons for gratitude duly noted, are there some downsides to conservative talk radio? Taking the conservative project as a whole—limited government, fiscal prudence, equality under law, personal liberty, patriotism, realism abroad—has talk radio helped or hurt? All those good things are plainly off the table for the next four years at least, a prospect that conservatives can only view with anguish. Did the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Savages, and Ingrahams lead us to this sorry state of affairs?

They surely did. At the very least, by yoking themselves to the clueless George W. Bush and his free-spending administration, they helped create the great debt bubble that has now burst so spectacularly. The big names, too, were all uncritical of the decade-long (at least) efforts to “build democracy” in no-account nations with politically primitive populations. Sean Hannity called the Iraq War a “massive success,” and in January 2008 deemed the U.S. economy “phenomenal.”

Much as their blind loyalty discredited the Right, perhaps the worst effect of Limbaugh et al.has been their draining away of political energy from what might have been a much more worthwhile project: the fostering of a middlebrow conservatism. There is nothing wrong with lowbrow conservatism. It’s energizing and fun. What’s wrong is the impression fixed in the minds of too many Americans that conservatism is always lowbrow, an impression our enemies gleefully reinforce when the opportunity arises. Thus a liberal like E.J. Dionne can write, “The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity. … Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans.” Talk radio has contributed mightily to this development.

February 15, 2009

Ken Starr opens mouth and expels gas

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:14 am

Why is Starr even given a mic to embarass himself with?

From the link:

Kenneth W. Starr has a warning for the Obama administration: what goes around comes around.

During a speech yesterday in Boston, Starr told a group of attorneys that President Barack Obama could face an uphill battle over his Supreme Court nominees because as a senator he opposed two of George W. Bush’s Supreme Court picks, Samuel Alito and John Roberts.

Starr’s message: elephants don’t forget.

The former independent counsel during Bill Clinton’s Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals, Starr said an aging Supreme Court meant that Obama could be able to name perhaps two or more nominees to the high court. And that could lead to a showdown with Senate Republicans who were livid with Democratslike Obama who filibustered and voted against the Bush picks.

Er, leaving Obama’s actions as a senator aside, if I were part of the GOP braintrust I’d put Ken Starr in deep mothballs. I certainly wouldn’t want to remind the public of the GOP’s cockblocking Clinton at every turn and actually moving forward with a failed impeachment effort.

Taking a longer view I’m betting history sees the last sixteen, and probably an even longer block of time, as the dark ages of the GOP. That is, if the party doesn’t completely implode which is still a very real possibility. Right now you have pundits, the right-wing blogosphere and the far right bloc looking to unseat the three Republican Senators who voted for the stimulus plan. Slick move there — it’s always a good idea to force your party into an even larger minority position at the ballot box.

History will see this period as the dark ages of the GOP because the party is purely obstructionist, partisan and hypocritical.

Partisan because every move the GOP has made over the last two presidential terms, and now the beginning of a third is to promote the GOP. Even if that means putting party over the nation. The voters have recognized that fact and if nothing changes in tone and action, the GOP may find itself in a very compromised position as an ongoing concern.

Obstructionist? See the Clinton years with the inane impeachment dog-and-pony show and the treatment offered the Democrats during the early Bush years when the GOP had the White House, Senate and House.

And hypocritical is the worst sin of all. The “small government” party spent taxpayers money like they controlled the printing press and ran up gigantic deficits to saddle the next several generations of Americans. A lot of the think tank ideas that finally went into practice under Bush 43 clearly should have remained in the filing cabinet.

The GOP coalition is in complete shambles and having a washed-up player in a failed farce making public statements isn’t going to help solve any of the many problems facing the party.

After the election I feared, and made the dark prediction, the GOP would continue to marginalize itself through a hard right-wing turn. The Palinistas were, and still are, very, very bitter. Bitter enough to bite their own noses off to spite the electorate that utterly rejected them.

That is the lesson the GOP needs to learn — the electorate has rejected them and demographics look very dismal indeed for any hope of a comeback unless drastic steps are taken. I’m not seeing those drastic steps.

I’ve contributed to NewMajority.com, and I like a lot of what I’m reading there, but I don’t see any real answers to the core problems right now. Culture11, another great new blog of conservative thought went belly-up recently. Former right wing blogosphere powerhouse Pajamas Media changed their business model to some ridiculous and soon-to-fail two-bit version of TMZ for politics. Joe the Plumber is their “star.” That’s all that needs to be said there.

I hope whatever new party rises from the ashes of the still burning brightly GOP corpse gets back to civil liberties, small government and personal responsibility. I’m not holding my breath — well, except when I keep voting Democrat because the GOP if full of folly, fools and fecklessness.

November 25, 2008

The right wing fights back against the far fringe

After the Palin veep picked proved to be an electoral disaster — and exposed a very ugly theocrat faction that before Bush 43 has always been coddled and marginalized. Now they seem to want blood of some sort. Right now that blood is taking form in the GOP brand. Beaten down, sullied and starting to rend where does the GOP go from here?

Well, there’s a lot of opposition to this electoral suicide. The American Conservative has fought against Bush 43 anti-conservatism for quite a while; a relatively new blog of young conservatives, Culture11, is seeking a new way as well; Taki’s Magazine also has been a fierce critic of Bush 43 politics; and now John Derbyshire of National Review fame has started a new blog, Secular Right.

And coming in January is another new blog by a National Review alum, David Frum. His offering is NewMajority.com and should be a very interesting entry into this moment of conservative/GOP/right wing soul-searching.

I’m very excited about Frum’s site because I’ve been offered the opportunity to blog at the launch. I’ll be coming at this debate from farther left than most I’m sure, offering my take on little “L” libertarianism — quite fiscally conservative and culturally liberal to moderate. I’m betting I ought to expect some very exciting feedback from the more partisan contributors, and especially readers. The challenge is welcome and I’m already planning topics to hit the gate running.

From the NewMajority pre-launch splash page:

NewMajority.com is a new political group blog edited by David Frum, and is scheduled to go live on Inauguration Day, January 18th 2009.

Update — I left Rebuild the Partyout the above list because I didn’t know about it until right now. Actually read about it first on a left wing site — Daily Kos. Looks like there’s going to be a total explosion of critical thought on fixing conservatism in general and the GOP in particular.

I’m still not certain the GOP as a national party is fixable right now. Something new may well arise out of all this intellectual activity and the GOP may become a party of marginal theocrats. Hopefully the theocrats get booted to their own little marginal party and the GOP returns to its small government roots and accepts a live-and-let-live cultural stance. Maybe too much to ask for, though.

November 20, 2008

The American Conservative on Bush

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:34 am

The American Conservative is the newest member of my blogroll. I’ve read this excellent site off and on, but I think it’s becoming a must read after the GOP beatdown a couple of weeks ago.

Couple that with the reaction from the incredibly loony right — Palin? Really? — this site is an even more important resource for conservative thought and ideas. Culture11, too.

Here’s an essential brief and set of links on what I consider a true conservative assessment of the Bush 43 regime and not a brown-nosing, sycophantic apologistia take on the last eight years. Bush fans, be warned. The American Conservative gang doesn’t pull any punches. Thankfully.

From the link:

Then came that epic morning, which Bush answered by giving the hijackers far more than they could accomplish with four planes. His grand democratization plan reduced Iraq to rubble, drove Iran to arm, and provided terrorists with the ultimate recruiting tool. America, once renowned for her decency, became the aggressor her foes alleged.

At home, our failed attempt at global liberation has left us less free than ever before. Ancient liberties, cultural imperatives, even basic solvency were subsumed by the war effort. And the conservative movement that gave Bush his margin sanitized his radicalism at the cost of its soul.
All he touched turned to dross. Yet he departs unbowed, still a Churchill in his own mind.

It would be easy to leave him to that delusion and turn a more hopeful page. But Bush wasn’t alone in his failure: a country marched behind him and a movement cheered him on. If the failings of the Bush era are to be corrected—or at least not repeated—we need a clear view of where we’ve been. History will render the final judgment, but herewith a preliminary damage assessment:

October 31, 2008

The GOP is broken

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:22 pm

I’m talking splintered. Sarah Palin busted the three-legged stool and apparently the “faithful” got all the shrapnel and are now cranky. And more than a little dumb.

How else do you explain this comment at Power Line about David Frum, a man whose conservative bona fides are unimpeachable?

Frum is indeed a “third-way” conservative, which is to say, a little conservative here, a little progressive there.

Screw him and the RINO he rode in on.

October 30, 2008

Reax to Obama’s infomercial

From Culture11. I’ve yet to add the site to my blogroll — but I bet I do. If you are looking for interesting, intelligent and forward-thinking (read: these bloggers understand Sarah Palin is the death of the GOP, not its savior) blogging from the right side of the aisle, you could do worse than visiting Culture11 every day.

Sure it’s fun to read the increasing crazy at the Corner and Ace of Spades and some of the other usual suspects, but in reality I much prefer to read good, conservative arguments and reasoned thought. You can get that at the Daily Dish, but the loony right wing has somehow decided Andrew Sullivan is, what? His gayness is out, but he’s a closet liberal? Hardly, but he is a principled conservative thinker from more a Tory standpoint than the evangelical nutjobs that currently hold the GOP hostage.

Back to Obama’s infomercial — here’s Freddie deBoer’s take from that link way up in the first sentence:

Three thoughts occur to me in response to Obama’s infomercial.

The first is that this production shows again the great folly of the McCain campaign’s decision to bet the election on “otherizing” Obama. I think anyone who watched, and wasn’t already in the tank against Obama, would be very hard pressed indeed to see this man as a radical, or a terrorist, or a socialist out to steal their money. I think that they would be very hard pressed to see him as someone who they couldn’t trust, or who they “just didn’t know about.” I think that they would find him reassuring. I think that they would find him refreshingly normal, refreshingly American. I think that they would see him as a decent, loving family man.

Of course, that’s not sufficient, for a Presidential candidate. It’s not enough to be decent, or a good husband and father. It’s not enough to be normal, or American. It’s not enough to be not a radical. But this is the bed that the McCain campaign has made: when they made the election about Barack Obama’s basic decency, about his normalcy, when they insisted that the reason to oppose him was because he represented some terrifying unknown, they set the bar for the Obama campaign incredibly low. It turns out that proving you’re not some terrorist-sympathizing socialist with a crazy foreign name isn’t that high of a hurdle to clear. And once cleared, the McCain campaign’s own rhetoric damages them. If what’s important is that whether or not Americans can trust him, the answer for most of us is clear: yes, we can. After claiming for six months or so that the appropriate question for a Presidential candidate is whether he is a trustworthy American, America appears poised to accept that question, and in the case of Barack Obama, answer in the affirmative.

October 27, 2008

Rush Limbaugh killed the GOP

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:57 pm

Good stuff from Ross Douthat.

From the link (and taken from the middle of a longer graf):

For Rush, there are only two kinds of people in Republican Party: True conservatives like him, and “moderate Republicans.” The latter is an ideologically-inclusive category: You can be pro-choice or pro-life, David Frum or Colin Powell, a Rockefeller Republican or a Sam’s Club conservative; indeed, the only real requirement for moderate-Republican status is the belief that the Republican Party needs to reach out to voters who don’t agree with, well, Rush Limbaugh on every jot and tittle of what conservatism is and ought to be.

October 17, 2008

Sarah Palin, meet Peggy Noonan’s bus

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:20 am

In an about-face from a few weeks ago, Noonan decides Palin isn’t all that after all.

From the WSJ link:

But we have seen Mrs. Palin on the national stage for seven weeks now, and there is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office. She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is the purpose of the ambition? She wants to rise, but what for? For seven weeks I’ve listened to her, trying to understand if she is Bushian or Reaganite—a spender, to speak briefly, whose political decisions seem untethered to a political philosophy, and whose foreign policy is shaped by a certain emotionalism, or a conservative whose principles are rooted in philosophy, and whose foreign policy leans more toward what might be called romantic realism, and that is speak truth, know America, be America, move diplomatically, respect public opinion, and move within an awareness and appreciation of reality.

But it’s unclear whether she is Bushian or Reaganite. She doesn’t think aloud. She just . . . says things.

Her supporters accuse her critics of snobbery: Maybe she’s not a big “egghead” but she has brilliant instincts and inner toughness. But what instincts? “I’m Joe Six-Pack”? She does not speak seriously but attempts to excite sensation—”palling around with terrorists.” If the Ayers case is a serious issue, treat it seriously. She is not as thoughtful or persuasive as Joe the Plumber, who in an extended cable interview Thursday made a better case for the Republican ticket than the Republican ticket has made. In the past two weeks she has spent her time throwing out tinny lines to crowds she doesn’t, really, understand. This is not a leader, this is a follower, and she follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesn’t seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.

No news conferences? Interviews now only with friendly journalists? You can’t be president or vice president and govern in that style, as a sequestered figure. This has been Mr. Bush’s style the past few years, and see where it got us. You must address America in its entirety, not as a sliver or a series of slivers but as a full and whole entity, a great nation trying to hold together. When you don’t, when you play only to your little piece, you contribute to its fracturing.

October 14, 2008

Buckleyism, RIP

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:08 pm

First one of the lions of modern conservative though, and founder of the National Review, Bill Buckley passed on this February.

Now the very magazine founded by Bill Buckley has unceremoniously booted his son, Chris, for openly endorsing Obama. One of the strongest suits of Bill Buckley’s brand of conservatism was openness to ideas and iconoclastic thought.

The very magazine he founded is becoming filled with intellectual weakness and toadyism. The very vestiges of a dying philosophy.

Who’s next? David Frum?

From the second link:

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith. In 1969, Pup wrote a widely-remarked upon column saying that it was time America had a black president. (I hasten to aver here that I did not endorse Senator Obama because he is black. Surely voting for someone on that basis is as racist as not voting for him for the same reason.) 

My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much. My father was also unpredictable, which tends to keep things fresh and lively and on-their-feet. He came out for legalization of drugs once he decided that the war on drugs was largely counterproductive. Hardly a conservative position. Finally, and hardly least, he was fun. God, he was fun. He liked to mix it up.  

So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case. 

So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me. 

Thanks, anyway, for the memories, and here’s to happier days and with any luck, a bit less fresh hell.

May 9, 2008

The elephant in winter

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:25 pm

Here’s an interesting post describing the daunting task facing the GOP for this election cycle, and beyond. The quoted bit below describes exactly how the GOP completely ceased to be fiscally conservative by any measure. To my mind the GOP has ceased to be even socially conservative — I think it’s fair to say Republican social policy over the last twelve years, give or take, is much more Christianist than conservative.

From the link:

Republicans held all the levers of power in Washington for six years. They turned budget surpluses into huge deficits, which put pressure on the dollar. The financial industry’s house of cards got blown down and the Federal Reserve cut rates to head off a recession. That put even more pressure on the dollar. Its value sank against other currencies, and investors have taken refuge in commodities, driving those prices up. Republicans’ aggressive, swaggering foreign policy has shot uncertainty through the market, driving (dollar denominated) oil to record highs. Simply put, their policies have put us in a position where we can’t deficit spend, can’t lower prices, can’t cut rates and can’t do much to restore value to our currency. Even simpler, every time you fill up your tank or buy a loaf of bread you pay the Bush Tax.

February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, RIP

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:13 pm

William F. Buckley, founder of the National Review and one of the architects of conservatism in the United States over the last half centry, died this morning at the age of 82.

This is from the editors at the National Review:

When Buckley started National Review — in 1955, at the age of 29 — it was not at all obvious that anti-Communists, traditionalists, constitutionalists, and enthusiasts for free markets would all be able to take shelter under the same tent. Nor was it obvious that all of these groups, even gathered together, would be able to prevail over what seemed at the time to be an inexorable collectivist tide. When Buckley wrote that the magazine would “stand athwart history yelling, ‘Stop!’” his point was to challenge the idea that history, with a capital H, pointed left. Mounting that challenge was the first step toward changing history’s direction. Which would come in due course.

Here’s a remembrance of Bill from NRO’s the Corner:

Bluntly Buckley   [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

From House whip Roy Blunt: “William F. Buckley was more than a journalist or commentator. He was the indisputable leader of the conservative movement that laid the groundwork for the Reagan Revolution. Every Republican owes him a debt of gratitude for his tireless efforts on behalf of our party and nation. “While Mr. Buckley’s successes are vast, his longest lasting influence will always be through the work of the National Review – a magazine he founded more than five decades ago to give a voice to the brand of conservativism we associate with the modern Republican Party. Even though Mr. Buckley is no longer with us, the impact he has made will forever serve as a monument to the achievements of this honorable man.”

February 5, 2008

A gloomy prediction for conservatism’s future

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:21 am

Mark Steyn breaks out the doomsday forecast for conservatism quoting a Townhall blog.

From the post:

On the eve of Super Duper Tuesday, conservatives in this great republic could do with some pepping up. Instead, this turned up in my in-box:

First, demography is poised to destroy conservatism in a devastating triple threat. The baby boomers will start retiring, and will probably shift a little to the left in the process. Second, Mexican immigrants will most likely end up being pretty leftist. Finally, years of liberals running their own private indoctrination camps through the American education system have finally taken their toll and are churning out reliably liberal kids who will inevitably come of age. Not enough of them are conservatives and not enough of them will be mugged by reality to convert to conservatism. It is ultimately these three factors that threaten to sink conservatism for at least a couple decades.

Gulp. Anything else?

This was conservatives’ last chance… The only chance was for a really good conservative leader to be elected and make a Reaganesque impression on the country that would delay the liberal fate. If Romney is defeated tomorrow, that will not happen, and tomorrow will live in infamy as a monumental defeat for conservatism.

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