Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Who's to blame, part 2

Writing this comes hard.

I've been outlining this in my head, and found that I really didn't want to do it much. Not because I'm sad, disappointed, or fearful of the future, but because I'm mad as hell.

Not at the opposition, at my own side.

You conservatives. Perhaps it's not fair to blame you too much. After all, there are no conservatives in Washington, only Big Government Republicans.

Nonetheless, you could have held the Republicans' feet to the fire. You could have been screaming bloody murder as Bush sent the deficit into the freaking stratosphere.

As far as I can tell, many of you thought supporting a wartime president was more important to the life of the nation than preventing him and his party from pursuing a course that would ultimately tank the economy and hand the left a default victory.

You didn't know that's what happens when economies go south? Weimar Republic ring a bell?

You couldn't point out the obvious? That wars are expensive, and wartime spending must be accompanied with cuts elsewhere, rather than digging the debt hole deeper and deeper?

And you stood ready to abandon your most cherished principles when they rubbed up against your prejudices.

Federalism. The principle of devolving power to the lowest political subdivisions possible.

Individualism. The principle that people's lives should be under their own control, to the maximum extent compatible with a reasonable degree of public order.

Limited government. The notion that a government may restrict or regulate only what it specifically allowed to in the fundamental law of the land.

Oops! Runs up against local democracy voting to let cancer patients on chemo smoke pot - junk it all.

And how much time have you devoted to seriously weird irrelevancies like how uncomfortable you are with evolution?

Got news for you, the theory of evolution is the best friend conservatives ever had. It validates the bedrock principle that human nature is fixed and unchanging, across cultures and throughout historical time. Who cares where it comes from? The consequences are the same.

Libertarians, you stood fast to your principles. Too bad you never accumulated the experience necessary to adapt them to the real world.

Instead you chose to run meaningless presidential campaigns, election after election, with vote totals that stagnated or actively declined.

They were educational campaigns! I hear you say.

Yes indeed. You educated the public to know you haven't had a new idea in thirty years. Nor the discipline to join a party, do the scut work, and work your way up the ladder of leadership the same way everyone else does, by paying your damn dues.

But you "radical libertarians," survivalists, and anarchists, you've got the answer. Politics is corrupt, you're preparing for revolution and/or the collapse of society so you can rebuild on the ruins.

Don't make me laugh.

I've heard that garbage for 30 years, and only grow more convinced that you are the people least competent to survive in chaotic times.

How many of your are military veterans? Then where do you expect to get your combat skills?

Have you studied military history? The history of revolutions, successful or un-, and their aftermath?

Have you even read: Sun Tzu, Clauswitz, Jomini, Mao, Gen. Georges Grivas, Gen. Alberto Bayo, Jan Karski? Taken a few courses in college? You know ROTC courses are often open to non-ROTC students.

I remember at a libertarian conference in Texas years ago, a Radical Libertarian told me, "You know Sam Konkin just (gasp!) bought a gun!"

That's supposed to impress Texans?

Have you taken a combat shooting course to learn to use that gun? Mastered at least one martial art? Do you even make an effort to stay in shape?

I'm supposed to take you more seriously than a Dungeouns and Dragons fanatic?

And you Objectivists.

Your fetish with ideological purity is right up there with Hindu Brahmins. Did you ever consider the notion that disagree is what free men do?

For the sake of preserving your own freedom to believe what St. Ayn taught you, you've been unwilling to cooperate, or even associate, with partners who might (gasp!) believe in God.

All of you, you didn't have to love each other, or agree on everything. You could have fought like cats and dogs over specific principles of liberty - like the freedom to alter your consciousness with which drug, or what to call legal contracts between gay adults.

The problem is, you wouldn't even get into the same arena, so the synergy never happened.

Across the spectrum, the libertarian movement is theory heavy/experience light.

What we have now is conservatives with experience, but without a consistent theory of liberty. And libertarians without experience.

And theory without experience drifts into fantasy. Experience without theory just drifts.

Update: Here http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2008/12/19/bush-lame-bailout-oped-cx_jb_1219bowyer.html

You can find a succinct summation of how George Bush has vindicated free-market economic theory - by caving in to the Left just about every damn time they demanded some idiot social/economic policy guaranteed to tank the economy. And because it happened on his watch, they'll get away with it. It's "market failure" you see.


  • At 10:17 AM, Blogger Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said…

    Most of your criticisms of conservatives, libertarians, etc., are irrelevant. The Republicans lost because (1) The
    GOP supported an unpopular war in Iraq that has little to do with America's real interests and (2) a bad recession hit big time during Bush's last year in office.

    Your criticisms of conservatives are legitimate, because during the last election the base was not excited enough to turn out. So yes, it would have helped if more conservatives had been excited about the election. But your criticisms of libertarians and Objectivisms, some of them valid, some not, have little to do with what happened. Nobody cares (in serious numbers) what they think.


  • At 9:10 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Nobody cared in serious numbers what socialist, Marxist, (fill in the blank) intellectuals thought.

    Nonetheless, their ideas permeated academia and politics, and were adopted by both major parties to various degrees. They became the brain trust of the left, and are deferred to on the right.

    Remember Norman Thomas' complaint that he couldn't put a socialist platform together anymore because FDR kept stealing all his planks?

    Small groups of ideologues can have an effect far beyond the circle of people who actually listen to/read them. Back in mass comm theory class this was called "two-step flow."

    One way small groups can have an effect disproportionate to their numbers, is to become party activists.

    That's was the point about joining a party and working your way up. Libertarian/Objectivists could have an influence disproportionate to their numbers, if they paid the damn dues in the ranks.

    And the truth is, I don't much care which party they join. I've met libertarian Democrats, such as Woody Jenkins or Camille Paglia.

    The war was unpopular when it seemed we were losing. By the election, even the Democrats and MSM had at least tacitly admitted that it appears to have been all but won. Obama was moderating his promise to start pulling troops out immediately even during the election, and now appears to have adopted a position Dubya has no problem with.

    (Of course, whether Iraqis can actually keep their new state is another question.)

    Remember the American Civil War? A Union victory very close to the election most probably turned it around. All historical evidence suggests Lincoln was prepared to lose, and turn the country over to McClellan. A general he had sacked for incompetence and cowardice.

    Do you really think the recession is irrelevant to the criticism of conservatives?

    They gave a pass to, or actively participated in causing the God damn recession!

    That's the whole point of the post, and it seems odd to me that you missed it. Republicans fed at the same trough, with as much or more appetite as the Democrats - and this recession is the result.

  • At 9:22 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    And about that war...

    "little to do with America's real interests" is a judgement call based on a lot of highly uncertain factors.

    My opinion is, avoiding a war with radical Islam is not within our power. We can withdraw from the conflict all we like - they won't let us.

    The only options we have is capitulation, or victory. The choices we have are limited to where and when, and with what means we will fight them.

    Iraq may, or may not have been a good choice of where and when. But the argument strikes me as as relevant as whether Calais would have been a better place for the invasion of occupied Europe than Normandy.

    I hope I'm not being too obnoxious about this (and I have been warned by friends...) but I've been there, you have not. And no libertarian I know who has firm opinions about this has either.

    And please remember that I shared your opinions before I went to live and work in the region.

  • At 1:26 PM, Blogger Ted said…

    Yepper, after all "War is the health of The State." FDR proved a war will lift you out of a depression, of course, then we had real enemies legitimately threatening our interests, not made up ones that had to be given every chance to launch their most devastating attack, and were probably aided and abetted from within.
    I don't by TWOT anymore than the global warming scam...They're cut from the same cloth: Expand Der Holy Mother Schtaat.

  • At 3:51 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    When I compare this weird slomo war with WWII - I don't see a comparison.

    In WWII, the U.S. locked up the leaders of the American Nazi Bund (fully justified IMHO) and Japanese-Americans (not, though more complicated than generally portrayed these days), enrolled Hollywood in an all-out domestic propaganda campaign, practiced a fair amount of censorship of mail and media, and in one case had American citizens tried by military commission and subsequently executed. (German saboteurs, who'd acquired American citizenship before the war.)

    Today: a lively opposition to the war is not only tolerated, but dominant in academia and Hollywood - to a point that would have been considered treasonable in WWII.

    The opinions and sensibilities of Muslims in America are accomodated to an absurd degree, and everyone else is deathly afraid of being labeled a bigot or "racist." (Though when Islam became a race, I have no idea.)

    Terrorist-linked groups are allowed to operate aboveground political advocacy organizations in a manner much like the relationship between the IRA and Sinn Fein. (There, I used a white European example - whoppee, I'm not a bigot!)

    Now my question is: have we advanced since then in our understanding of freedom, democracy and tolerance - or have we just become suicidally stupid?

  • At 3:50 AM, Blogger Ted said…

    Thank you for making my point for me:
    If this was an actual war with an actual enemy, we would treat it with the seriousness and sobriety it deserves! The fact the GOPhers have done nothing but accommodate the "enemy" by not so much as daring to mention his name, pausing only to make as much money off of it as possible with artificially-inflated fuel prices...It's kind of a dead giveaway that the police-action on terror is nothing but a fake.
    Since 1945, there's been no logical reason why any war with the U.S. should last any longer than 8 minutes. You need one guy to drive the sub and another to help launch the nukes...IF you're not in bed with the OMFR around the world via the Whore of Babylon.
    THAT is the Achilles heel that will lead to our destruction. The real enemy has been inside the gates since 1965, when she openly declared she was going to help tear down our nation for the good of the rest of the world, but nobody wants to deal with subverters and traitors in the manner they deserve...It's not new-tone/PC.

  • At 9:41 AM, Blogger Ken said…

    Suicidally stupid.

    Stolen from elsewhere; "World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the plane downed in Pennsylvania, the endless suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks in Israel, the Bali bombings, the synagogue bombing in Tunisia, the LAX shootings, the Kenyan hotel bombing, the Casablanca attacks, the Turkey synagogue attacks, the Madrid bombings, the London bombings, and the repeated attacks in India culminating in the Mumbai massacres" and those are just from more recent memory. TWOT while a misnomer is not about expanding the state. It's a half-assed attempt to fight a problem without admitting there's a problem.

    We take too much for granted and think that it didn't take hard work to get where we are. Most people think if you're not happy, change is the answer. They don't bother to think that change can be worse. Never mind the fact the most people are completely unaware of what the issues are. I admit I'm very ignorant of a lot of politics, especially on a local level, and I even try to pay attention.

    Not to mention that you are correct, republicans aren't conservatives any more than democrats are liberals, though they call themselves that. Mix in a candidate that the party isn't even excited about and look what happens.

    And my local representative hasn't represented me in a long time.

    Not sure where all this is heading, but I don't think I'm going to be thrilled with it.

  • At 7:36 AM, Blogger Ken said…

    Ted, maybe I'm not getting your point right but I don't buy the theory that because we don't treat it seriously, it's not serious. I don't know about you, but i have some former girlfriends that I didn't take what they were saying seriously, but they were serious as evidenced by me now spending my nights at home watching tv alone.

    And I think there are people who are taking it seriously.

  • At 7:48 AM, Blogger Libertarian_Libertine said…

    I think most of your criticisms of Objectivists and libertarians are right. Specifically the unwillingness to become party activists or at least for single issue organizations with libertarian positions. But I have no idea why you attacked the fringe libertarians. For one thing, libertarianism is borderline fringe and why call more attention to the tin foil hat branch of libertarianism?

  • At 8:52 AM, Blogger Joseph Sixpack said…

    Who's to blame?

    The recent success of the Democrat Party is due, almost entirely, to the successful character assassination of President Bush. There is no act of ineptitude and evil that he has not been accused of over the last 8 years and almost none of it was challenged. The left has done nothing but demonize, insult, and, mock him for 8 years and it has gone entirely unanswered. There is no attack against him that has been too outrageous to draw scorn from people who should be skeptical of such claims. Whether he is being photoshopped into a chimp, accused of war crimes, blamed for high oil prices, or accused of plotting 9/11, the attacks are quietly acquiesced to by the media and by his own party. After 8 years of that, the public may not believe the conspiracy theories, but they are accepting of most criticisms of him, no matter how illogical.

    An unfortunate reality of American politics is that party affiliation weighs heavily in peoples' votes. Bush is a Republican. Therefore, anyone running as a Republican was at a significant disadvantage this year by way of that "connection" to him. The votes for Obama were as much due to naive, young college students swooning at his oratory as it was average schmoes just dissatisfied with what they perceive to be the results of Bush administration policy. A vote for Obama was a vote against Bush. McCain's campaign and presence on the ticket was almost irrelevant.

    I think there was a time - not long ago - when people thought that outrageous attacks did not need to be responded to. This election proved that theory wrong.

  • At 11:44 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    You know, that's why I'm at such a loss to explain why Bush acquiesced in this incredible spending spree.

    How many times did he use his veto during the entire eight years of his administration? Did he even use it at all?

    And what did he have to gain? There is no way he was ever going to make the left and the MSM love him. He had absolutely nothing to lose by standing in the way of these massive increases in spending.

    This is going to become more and more clear, as Obama quietly adopts Bush's foreign policy whole. Because he must, because it is largely driven by the choices our enemies make, not ours.

    How much you want to bet the MSM is going to call Obama on it?

  • At 4:48 PM, Blogger Joseph Sixpack said…

    The MSM will only call Obama on it if they think that his adoption of Bush policy will somehow hurt the Democrat party. Barring that, he remains the Messiah. He is their shepherd. His empty oratory restores their empty souls and guides them in the path of socialism and political correctness.


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