Sunday, February 17, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 52

1. Big Lizards argues that Hillary Clinton's campaign is in free fall because she puts unqualified women in important positions such as campaign manager.

2. David Brooks gives us now the kind of thinking that would probably define a McCain Presidency. He believes investment in education made America great:

In the 19th century, industrialization swept the world. Many European nations expanded their welfare states but kept their education systems exclusive. The U.S. tried the opposite approach. American leaders expanded education and created the highest quality work force on the planet.

That quality work force was the single biggest reason the U.S. emerged as the economic superpower of the 20th century. Generation after generation, American workers were better educated, more industrious and more innovative than the ones that came before.

Brooks thinks "positive government" is necessary to have educated workers. He dismisses the free market in this area.

Liberals have spent more time thinking about human capital than conservatives, who have tended to imagine that if you build a free market, a quality labor force would magically appear.

Among his solutions:

National service should be a rite of passage for 20-somethings, and these volunteers could mentor students through high school and college years.

Like all statists, he doesn't understand that individuals might find their own solutions if left free by the government. To Brooks, this is belief in magic.

I would not be surprised to see big government conservative Brooks land an important position in the McCain administration.

3. In January John Hawkins warned conservatives not to whitewash John McCain if he's the nominee:

Here's the honest truth: John McCain is not a conservative and he's not a candidate who is going to make conservatives particularly happy if he gets in the White House. Does that mean he's worse than Obama or Hillary? No, but it does mean he will disappoint and infuriate conservatives over and over again if he gets in the White House on a wide variety of issues -- and conservatives in the media should be honest enough to admit that.

If you sell people a bill of goods about McCain being a conservative, what are you going to do if he gets into office and people find out that you weren't honest with them? Where is your credibility going to be then? Think about it, tell the truth about McCain's record, and if GOP voters choose him, let them understand exactly what they're really getting.

Patrick Joubert Conlon has not taken this advice, as he is now writing Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh out of the conservative movement because they won't support McCain. Among his reasons against them are that they "make money from controversy" and that they don't have children. Well, attacking the profit motive does put him in the McCain camp.

I'm a radical for capitalism rather than a conservative, so maybe Patrick is right -- maybe he and McCain are more conservative than Limbaugh and Coulter. The confusion comes from the incoherency of conservatism.

4. I believe nothing can stop McCain in November. Michael Kinsley writes about the reason why: McCain appeals to Democrats.

Only a couple of years ago, there were noises that McCain might admit he was much too nice to be a Republican and might run for President as an independent--or even as a Democrat. Democrats swooned and said they would vote for McCain because he was "honest."

Kinsley doesn't write this, but the reason McCain appeals to Democrats is that he loves big government as much as they do. When liberals hear McCain speak, they think he's one of us. And they're right.

5. Is Obama a leftist? I must say, his idea of tax reform is a disaster:

Rather than simplify taxes, Obama instead wants to have the IRS prepare your returns for you and send them out for your signature. Since the IRS gets all of your income information already, he wants the IRS to calculate how much you owe, without apparently considering that most Americans itemize for deductions. It doesn't cut down on preparation time in any case, but merely transfers the cost to the federal government-- as well as more power to the IRS.

6. Don Feder's Top 10 Reasons Not to Vote For McCain.


Jim May said...

Funny thing about your #1; I know someone who is retired from the EPA, who fears that an Obama presidency will result in a lot more unqualified minorities getting high positions in government -- as happened a lot during his time there in the 1970's.

Speaking for myself, I'm not sure if such "affirmative-action"-caused ineffectuality in government agencies as the EPA is necessarily a bad thing. It's the entrenchment of Little Dictators shielded by the race/gender card which worries me.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I know I really can't "write Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh out of the conservative movement." They've defined the term but have done so incorrectly in my opinion as they are more reactionary than conservative. Anyway I am not a conservative. Like Hayek, I distrust it. I'm a classical liberal.

I certainly did not criticize them for making money. In fact I said "Good for them for being true blue American capitalists." I was simply pointing out that they do not have the best interests of the GOP in mind the GOP - only their own pocketbooks so why should Republicans take their advice?

Why do they keep on criticizing McCain? He's not perfect but he's all we've got standing between us and Islamic Fascism, socialized health-care and confiscatory taxes.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Oops! One "the GOP" too many.

BTW I've never claimed that McCain is a conservative. He's a traditional moderate Republican like most Republican presidents have been even before Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and Bush Sr but he's all we've got so I don't see the point in keeping on criticizing him. I'd rather make lemonade out of the lemon.

Myrhaf said...

Thanks for the clarification, Patrick. I thought you were arguing that McCain is more conservative than Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. I do believe that their motives are driven by what they see as conservative principles, not by making money from controversy. I don't think either has to worry too much about money!

Anonymous said...

"Big Lizards argues that Hillary Clinton's campaign is in free fall because she puts unqualified women in important positions such as campaign manager."

That would be consistent with the entire purpose of her campaign, though, wouldn't it? I mean, putting an unqualified woman in an important position - i.e. *her* - is the whole point of the thing.

Which is certainly not to say that "unqualified" is the most indicting thing to be said about her.


Myrhaf said...

Good point, Inspector -- it starts with Hillary Clinton. I laugh when I hear her talk about how she is the most experienced candidate. She was a lawyer and the wife of a governor, then she was the wife of a president, then she used connection with her husband to get elected Senator in a liberal state she had never lived in. (And oddly enough, she doesn't publicize her notable experience working with leftist radicals in her youth.)

Jim May said...

Well Patrick, what makes you think that McCain would stop socialized medicine? The same thing that made Republicans stop Medicare Part D? I do not see what you are counting on, there; even if McCain were a full-blown conservative, conservatism per se has no principled objection to any expansion of government. George Bush (redundantly) showed us that.

As for the arguments over who and who isn't a "true" conservative -- or what is and isn't conservatism -- they have the same character as the old arguments about what constitutes a "true socialist" and are just as meaningless when conducted by insiders.

To determine what is a true socialist or conservative, you analyze the ideas of the movement, resolving contradictions as you go by reasoning along the logical lines mandated by the ideas themselves. In doing so, you discover which ideas are incidental and/or contradictory, and which are the fundamental, defining ones. And those often aren't the ones that a movement's followers think they are.

For example: under socialism, we supposedly retain political freedom while the State merely "directs" economic activity. Well, what makes an activity "economic" and what is not?

It turns out that this distinction is bogus; nothing in the principle of individual rights says that they cease to apply when a dollar is involved. If one asks what is the ultimate principle that draws that line, there is no answer.

So when there is no "What says", then it comes down to who says when an activity is "economic" and therefore subject to State interests. Who is the *ultimate* arbiter? Why, the holder of moral sovereignty, of course -- the State.

The logical result of that is that the realm of "economic activity" invariably expands to include all human activity.

Communism "went to extremes" -- that is, they saw that full control was the logical end of road of their ideas, so they promptly went there. All other forms of socialism exist or have existed at various points along that road, but inexorably move along it, driven by their internal logic weeding out contradictions, towards the same ultimate end, differing only in the details of their arrival -- not the destination itself.

America is on that road; one need merely look at how the "commerce clause" has been expanded by far beyond the Framer's intentions to see the logic at work.

Conservatism is more nebulous on what it regards as holding ultimate moral franchise -- at first glance. What it DOES state unequivocally is that the individual cannot be trusted to retain full moral sovereignty, because men have evil in their nature; they have "tendencies" to evil, and must therefore be constrained by an external force. This is the rationalization for what turns out to be conservatism's root principle; a hostility to the concept of reason as one's moral sense. Modern conservatism was born specifically as a reaction against the Enlightenment and its championing of reason against the political and philosophical hegemony of Christianity.

That leads conservatism to conclude that the best form of the "external force" is tradition, usually called "prejudice" in conservative writings -- and since reason cannot be trusted with moral issues, conservative inexorably becomes beholden to religion for it moral framework. Under such a view, the best form of society assigns moral overeignty to religious tradition, as enforced by the State -- which then permits the individual what freedom is considered "prudent" (as distinguished, importantly, from "rational"). Of course, what God giveth, He may take away -- and since there is no such entity, the State does that dirty work.

Notice that we find that conservatism and the Left are en route to the same logical destination -- State rule -- regardless of what adherents of either ideology think they are going, or of the details of their arrival. Similarly, the logic of their ideas leads them both to distrust and move away from the same place -- the principle of individual rights. Americanism, in other words.

Observe even the echo in Patrick' post, of the pattern I noted above with regard to "economic activity". PAtrick imples that McCain is opposed to "confiscatory" taxation. Well, all taxes are "confiscatory" by definition, so all this leaves us with is McCain's particular notion of how much taxation is too much. One need merely look at his voting record to see how shifting and ephemeral that "barrier" is.

In the 1960's, faced with the contradiction between their professed love of American principles and the socialism of the Left, American liberals made their choice -- they chose socialism. Conservatism, sensing a political opportunity, adopted them as their own. That move paid off in the short term, giving rise to a Republican resurgence which brought the advancing Left to a halt. But they came with a price - a deep contradiction between conservatism's mistrust of individual rights, and Americanism's enshrinement of that very principle.

For the same reasons that contradiction could not and did not last among the Democrats, it cannot be sustained by the Republicans. Conservatism will reassert itself for what it is -- a reaction against the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason -- or it will keep the American ideals, and become something that does not currently exist in American politics -- liberalism.

Unfortunately, John McCain is the choice they have made -- and by all indications it is a choice to remain conservative at the price of abandoning liberty. There are a few misguided souls a bit further back on the road who are calling this a betrayal of conservative principles, but they are sadly wrong -- the principles McCain betrays were never really conservative at all. That is the main reason why McCain is the nominee, and why most logically consistent conservatives will fall in line. Those who don't, will do so for varying reasons; some because they wanted a religious candidate, some because they see McCain as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

But some will do so because they refuse to betray America by giving in to political expediency -- and those people, to the extent of that rebellion, will not be acting as conservatives, but as Americans (in the ideological sense of that term). Here's to them, the disenfranchised few, who just might realize that conservatism was never their friend.

It remains to be seen whether that is how it will pan out. John McCain may very well be the Republican version of George McGovern -- a candidate who officially marks the expulsion of Americanism from the party.

Jim May said...

A glitch: where above I wrote "Conservatism, sensing a political opportunity, adopted them as their own. ", what I was referring to are the American principles of individual liberty, limited government etc... not the newly socialist "liberals" mentioned just before.