[VIDEO] REWIND 1977: Ronald Reagan’s Speech at the 4th Annual CPAC Convention

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I’m happy to be back with you in this annual event after missing last year’s meeting. I had some business in New Hampshire that wouldn’t wait.

Three weeks ago here in our nation’s capital I told a group of conservative scholars that we are currently in the midst of a re-ordering of the political realities that have shaped our time. We know today that the principles and values that lie at the heart of conservatism are shared by the majority.

Despite what some in the press may say, we who are proud to call ourselves “conservative” are not a minority of a minority party; we are part of the great majority of Americans of both major parties and of most of the independents as well.

A Harris poll released September 7, l975 showed 18 percent identifying themselves as liberal and 31 per- cent as conservative, with 41 percent as middle of the road; a few months later, on January 5, 1976, by a 43-19 plurality those polled by Harris said they would “prefer to see the country move in a more conservative direction than a liberal one.”

Last October 24th, the Gallup organization released the result of a poll taken right in the midst of the presidential campaign.

Respondents were asked to state where they would place themselves on a scale ranging from “right-of-center” (which was defined as “conservative”) to left-of-center (which was defined as “liberal”).

  • Thirty-seven percent viewed themselves as left-of-center or liberal
  • Twelve percent placed themselves in the middle
  • Fifty-one percent said they were right-of-center, that is, conservative.

What I find interesting about this particular poll is that it offered those polled a range of choices on a left-right continuum. This seems to me to be a more realistic approach than dividing the world into strict left and rights. Most of us, I guess, like to think of ourselves as avoiding both extremes, and the fact that a majority of Americans chose one or the other position on the right end of the spectrum is really impressive.

Those polls confirm that most Americans are basically conservative in their outlook. But once we have said this, we conservatives have not solved our problems, we have merely stated them clearly. Yes, conservatism can and does mean different things to those who call themselves conservatives.

You know, as I do, that most commentators make a distinction between they call “social” conservatism and “economic” conservatism. The so-called social issues—law and order, abortion, busing, quota systems—are usually associated with blue-collar, ethnic and religious groups themselves traditionally associated with the Democratic Party. The economic issues—inflation, deficit spending and big government—are usually associated with Republican Party members and independents who concentrate their attention on economic matters.

Now I am willing to accept this view of two major kinds of conservatism—or, better still, two different conservative constituencies. But at the same time let me say that the old lines that once clearly divided these two kinds of conservatism are disappearing.

In fact, the time has come to see if it is possible to present a program of action based on political principle that can attract those interested in the so-called “social” issues and those interested in “economic” issues. In short, isn’t it possible to combine the two major segments of contemporary American conservatism into one politically effective whole?

I believe the answer is: Yes, it is possible to create a political entity that will reflect the views of the great, hitherto, conservative majority. We went a long way toward doing it in California. We can do it in America. This is not a dream, a wistful hope. It is and has been a reality. I have seen the conservative future and it works.

reagan-library-photo

Let me say again what I said to our conservative friends from the academic world: What I envision is not simply a melding together of the two branches of American conservatism into a temporary uneasy alliance, but the creation of a new, lasting majority.

This will mean compromise. But not a compromise of basic principle. What will emerge will be something new: something open and vital and dynamic, something the great conservative majority will recognize as its own, because at the heart of this undertaking is principled politics.

I have always been puzzled by the inability of some political and media types to understand exactly what is meant by adherence to political principle. All too often in the press and the television evening news it is treated as a call for “ideological purity.” Whatever ideology may mean—and it seems to mean a variety of things, depending upon who is using it—it always conjures up in my mind a picture of a rigid, irrational clinging to abstract theory in the face of reality. We have to recognize that in this country “ideology” is a scare word. And for good reason. Marxist-Leninism is, to give but one example, an ideology. All the facts of the real world have to be fitted to the Procrustean bed of Marx and Lenin. If the facts don’t happen to fit the ideology, the facts are chopped off and discarded.

I consider this to be the complete opposite to principled conservatism. If there is any political viewpoint in this world which is free for slavish adherence to abstraction, it is American conservatism.

When a conservative states that the free market is the best mechanism ever devised by the mind of man to meet material needs, he is merely stating what a careful examination of the real world has told him is the truth.

When a conservative says that totalitarian Communism is an absolute enemy of human freedom he is not theorizing—he is reporting the ugly reality captured so unforgettably in the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

When a conservative says it is bad for the government to spend more than it takes in, he is simply showing the same common sense that tells him to come in out of the rain.

When a conservative says that busing does not work, he is not appealing to some theory of education—he is merely reporting what he has seen down at the local school.

When a conservative quotes Jefferson that government that is closest to the people is best, it is because he knows that Jefferson risked his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to make certain that what he and his fellow patriots learned from experience was not crushed by an ideology of empire.

reagan-choomgang

Conservatism is the antithesis of the kind of ideological fanatacism that has brought so much horror and destruction to the world. The common sense and common decency of ordinary men and women, working out their own lives in their own way—this is the heart of American conservatism today. Conservative wisdom and principles are derived from willingness to learn, not just from what is going on now, but from what has happened before.

The principles of conservatism are sound because they are based on what men and women have discovered through experience in not just one generation or a dozen, but in all the combined experience of mankind. When we conservatives say that we know something about political affairs, and that we know can be stated as principles, we are saying that the principles we hold dear are those that have been found, through experience, to be ultimately beneficial for individuals, for families, for communities and for nations—found through the often bitter testing of pain, or sacrifice and sorrow.

One thing that must be made clear in post-Watergate is this: The American new conservative majority we represent is not based on abstract theorizing of the kind that turns off the American people, but on common sense, intelligence, reason, hard work, faith in God, and the guts to say: “Yes, there are things we do strongly believe in, that we are willing to live for, and yes, if necessary, to die for.” That is not “ideological purity.” It is simply what built this country and kept it great.

reagan-oval-desk

Let us lay to rest, once and for all, the myth of a small group of ideological purists trying to capture a majority. Replace it with the reality of a majority trying to assert its rights against the tyranny of powerful academics, fashionable left-revolutionaries, some economic illiterates who happen to hold elective office and the social engineers who dominate the dialogue and set the format in political and social affairs. If there is any ideological fanaticism in American political life, it is to be found among the enemies of freedom on the left or right—those who would sacrifice principle to theory, those who worship only the god of political, social and economic abstractions, ignoring the realities of everyday life. They are not conservatives.

Our first job is to get this message across to those who share most of our principles. If we allow ourselves to be portrayed as ideological shock troops without correcting this error we are doing ourselves and our cause a disservice. Wherever and whenever we can, we should gently but firmly correct our political and media friends who have been perpetuating the myth of conservatism as a narrow ideology. Whatever the word may have meant in the past, today conservatism means principles evolving from experience and a belief in change when necessary, but not just for the sake of change.

Once we have established this, the next question is: What will be the political vehicle by which the majority can assert its rights?

I have to say I cannot agree with some of my friends—perhaps including some of you here tonight—who have answered that question by saying this nation needs a new political party. Read the rest of this entry »


National Review Launches Counter-Offensive

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Robert Tracinski: ‘The Party of Coercion Hasn’t Thought Much About Coercion’

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Government Force is the Left’s Entire Agenda

 writes:

The left is the side of the political debate that wants more government: more taxes, more spending, more regulations, more laws. So you would think they would have highly developed thoughts about what a law is and how laws are actually enforced. This is, after all, the stuff they want more of.

You would be wrong.

Sally Kohn recently argued, bizarrely, that law as such is not coercive.

This issue of government force is a funny one. You could also argue that the government is forcing you to drive below the speed limit or wear a seatbelt in your car. But it’s not. There isn’t a police officer holding a gun to your head literally forcing you to buckle up. In fact, you are 100 percent free to speed and not wear your seatbelt—and simply deal with the consequences if you’re pulled over. Is the threat of the fine for breaking the law amount to “forcing” you to follow the law? No.

Get that? Unless someone is literally holding a gun to your head at this very moment, you’re not being coerced. Don Corleone would be glad to hear it. After all, he didn’t coerce anyone. He just made a suggestion that you’ve got a nice place here, and it would be a shame if something were to happen to it.

[Read the full text here, at The Federalist]

I forgot to pay a speeding ticket once. I’m pretty sure if I had persisted, the “consequences” would have involved handcuffs and the inside of a jail cell. And the guys who put me there would have been armed with guns. So I paid it.

keystone-cops

 continues,

This is a pattern I’ve seen over and over again, everywhere, for as long as I can remember: the party of coercion hasn’t thought much about coercion.

Government force is the left’s entire agenda. They want to expand Social Security, seize more wealth from taxpayers, force traditional Christians to cooperate with gay weddings, license beauticians, and impose vast regulations on every aspect of the economy with the goal of controlling the weather 100 years from now.

It is a program of coercion on a vast scale, encompassing matters great and trivial. Yet if you quiz them about the nature and justification of government force, they profess confusion: “The issue of government force is a funny one.”

Many year ago, I was helping to run a college club for Objectivists—fans of the arch-capitalist author Ayn Rand—and we had the idea of co-sponsoring a capitalism-versus-socialism debate with the Democratic Socialists. In the middle of the event, one of the debaters we brought in on our side made a direct challenge to the socialists: aren’t you in favor of force? The socialist debaters just skittered away and evaded it, finally mumbling something about how, when a policy is decided democratically, it doesn’t really matter how it is implemented. And these weren’t just cranks brought in off the street. They were professors at well-regarded universities, and one of them has gone on to some prominence.

This is how it always seems to work. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Conservatarian Manifesto: Should Libertarians and Conservatives Unite?

“I think the ‘conservatarian’ term is not a linguistic trick, it is a substantive attempt to describe a certain coterie on the right,” explains Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for National Review and author of The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future. “These are the people who say when they are around libertarians they feel conservative, and when they are around conservatarianconservatives they feel libertarian…(read more)

[Check out Charles C. W. Cooke‘s new book: “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Futureat Amazon.com]

Reason TV‘s Nick Gillespie sat down with Cooke to discuss his book…(read more)

Reason.com


AEI Ideas: Reaganomics 2.0?

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Yes, Reaganomics Needs a 21st Century Update

Pethokoukis writes:

“The GOP is debating whether Reaganomics needs an update” is a must-read piece by Washington Post reporter Jim Tankersley. One side answers the “What would Reagan do?” question by offering a nostalgic return to the 1980s Reagan agenda. Another prefers to apply the Reagan principles — a dynamic private sector, strong families and neighborhoods, upward mobility, work — to modern economic reality with different conservative policy results. Tankersley:

Leading Republicans are clashing over a signature issue the party has treated as gospel for nearly 40 years: the idea that sharply lower taxes and smaller government are enough by themselves to drive a more prosperous middle class — and win national elections. That simple philosophy has been the foundation of every GOP platform since the days of Ronald Reagan. Now, some of the party’s presidential hopefuls — along with some top conservative economists and strategists — are sending strong signals that they believe today’s beleaguered workers need more targeted help, even if growth speeds up.

reagan-obama

For some context, here are a few then-and-now stats:

1.) When Reagan was elected president in 1980, the top income tax rate was 70%. Today, the top income tax rate is 40%.

2.) When Reagan was elected, the top 1% paid about a fifth of federal income taxesToday it’s about a third.

3.) When Reagan was elected, the bottom 90% paid just over half of all federal income taxes. Today it’s around 30% with 40% of households paying no federal income taxes.

5.) When Reagan was elected, 8% of national income went to the top 1%. Today, it’s nearly 20%.

6.) When Reagan was elected, inflation had averaged nearly 9% over the previous eight years. Today, inflation is less than 2% and has averaged around 2% the past 15 years.

7.) When Reagan was elected, US publicly held debt was 26% of GDP. Today, it’s 74% of GDP with a whole lot of entitlement spending quickly headed our way.

8.) When Reagan was elected, more than 19 million Americans worked in manufacturing. Today, just under 12 million Americans work in manufacturing.

9.) When Reagan was elected, health care spending was 10% of GDP. Today, it’s 17% of GDP.

10.) When Reagan was elected, China’s GDP, in nominal terms, was 3% of America’s. Today, China’s GDP is over half of America’s and about the same based on purchasing power.

Let me also add (a) there is good reason to believe that faster GDP growth is not lifting all boats, (b) upward mobility is stagnant, (c) slowing labor force growth and productivity suggest it will be harder to generate fast growth in the future than in the past,  (d) automation has taken a toll on middle-class income and jobs,  (e) labor force participation by high school-only graduates has fallen by 10 percentage points over the past 25 years, and (f) inflation-adjusted market income for the top 1% has risen by 174% since 1979 vs. 16% for the bottom 80%. Read the rest of this entry »


The Republican Party Is Not Your Friend

GOP-not-your-friehd-Federalist-Jay-Cost

The Roots of the Republican Party’s Conservative-Establishment Divide, Revealed

Cost_Jay.SENT_.bio_Jay Cost writes: I had a bad dream the other night that I still cannot get out of my head. It’s January 20, 2017. Inauguration Day. The Republican candidate for president has triumphed over Hillary Clinton, ushering in the largest Republican majority since 1929. The inaugural balls are finished, the parties over.

[Read the full text here, at The Federalist]

The new president retires to the Oval Office, and sits down with the top leaders of Congress to ask: “Okay. We have the largest majority we’re ever going to see again. What do we do with it?”

“Let’s accelerate depreciation!” somebody says

“Let’s repeal the inheritance tax!” another chimes in.

The new president, nodding solemnly, responds, “Okay, okay. These are good. But what we really need to do is quadruple our guest-worker visas.”

Joker-billionaire-burning-money

“The last time the GOP had complete control over the government, 2003-07, it massively expanded Medicare and enacted more pork-barrel spending than any prior Congress in history.”

Nightmarish? Yes. Fanciful? Maybe a little (bad dreams are like that), but it still derives from a stark truth: the Republican Party, while far preferable to the unchecked liberalism of the Democrats, is not all that conservative.

Sure, it has conservative members, important ones who cannot be ignored. And it talks a good game about small government; just about every Republican candidate 510xdRr8ICL._SL250_for every office is duty-bound to aver his fidelity to Ronald Reagan’s brand of conservatism.

[Check out Jay Cost’s book “A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption” at Amazon]

However, if we understand conservatism as advocating smaller government that treats people impartially, many in the party struggle mightily not to act on those principles. Instead, the recent history of “conservative” governance has been one of ever-larger government, and an expansion of the cronyism and corruption built into the system. The last time the GOP had complete control over the government, 2003-07, it massively expanded Medicare and enacted more pork-barrel spending than any prior Congress in history.

Franklin Roosevelt

“Conservatism really began to develop as a political force in the wake of the New Deal, which effectively inverted the constitutional schema. Previously, the federal government was only allowed to do what the Constitution expressly authorized…”

Political parties are not coterminous with ideologies. They are big, broad, unwieldy coalitions that contain lots of factions and varying traditions. Oftentimes, these forces are in direct conflict with one another.

William F. Buckley Holding Book

“…From the New Deal onwards, the government could more or less do anything that the Constitution did not expressly forbid. This inversion gave birth to the conservative movement.”

Conservatives are part of the Republican Party, but so are other forces that—while they might call themselves “conservative”—are actually something quite different.douglas

From Slavery Defeaters to Business Defenders

Conservatism as we know it today did not really exist before the twentieth century. Prior to that, it was just the way things were done. The powers of the federal government were limited, states and localities were dominant, and people did not look to Washington DC to solve every last problem. Granted, the scope of federal power increased during the nineteenth century—for example, during the Civil War—but conservatives today are wont to celebrate those expansions.

Conservatism as we know it today did not really exist before the twentieth century. Prior to that, it was just the way things were done. Read the rest of this entry »

Lightning in a Bottle: IRS Finally Approves Tax-Exempt Applications After Only 4 Years

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Even if we didn’t have proof that Lois Lerner and the IRS had deliberately targeted conservative non-profit groups whose names included words like “Tea Party” and “patriots,” this could just been seen as another example of big government inefficiency and incompetence. Thing is, we know that conservative groups’ applications were held up through several election cycles to keep them from influencing the vote.

American Center for Law and Justice attorney Miles Terry writes today that two more conservative groups have had their tax-exempt applications approved — after a more than four-year delay.

Terry writes:

Laurens County Tea Party and Allen Area Patriots both applied for tax-exemption in July of 2010. It took the IRS more than four years to review their applications and approve these groups.

Of our 41 clients, 28 have now been approved, and seven groups are still awaiting approval. One of these seven groups, Albuquerque Tea Party is less than two months away from “celebrating” five years since they originally applied for tax-exemption. To date, they have still not been approved.

C’mon, IRS. Get it together…(read more)

Twitchy


Conservatism Is The New Punk Rock

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For TownHall.com,  Kurt Schlichter writes: Conservatism is the Ramones at CBGB – loud, fast and alive. In contrast, liberalism is the headliner at a state fair concert. It’s Foghat, serenading its anesthetized fans as America slow rides into decline.

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“Liberals want to see themselves as punks. They aren’t. They are sad conformists.”

Back in the 70s, the Ramones put a steel-toed boot into the behind of a fat, flabby rock ‘n roll world that has lost its way. That’s what conservatives are doing today to American politics and culture. And conservative-insurgencythe dinosaur rockers of the status quo hate it.

[Check out Kurt Schlichter’s book “Conservative Insurgency” at Amazon.com]

“Everything about liberalism is stodgy, everything is old, everything is about control.”

But some things have changed. Back in the 70’s, it was alienated young people leading the way, yet today’s Millennials support the very liberal status quo that keeps them down. What’s pathetic is that they are so eagerly complicit in their own serfdom.

Dead-end jobs, innovations like Uber sacrificed to protect established Democrat corporatist allies, and tons of student debt for their degrees in Feminist Interpretive punk-sneerDance – you Millennials have been, and will be, fooled again. And again and again.

I want to make clear for the record that The Who rocks, though many liberals are likely offended by Roger Daltrey’s shamelessly heteronormative persona.

Look at ancient Hillary Clinton, that improbable Millennial heroine. She’s the Bachman Turner Overdrive of American politics, out there literally taking care of business – especially the businesses who take care of her by paying her hundreds of thousands a pop to come talk to them. Read the rest of this entry »


The Liberal Dream of a Social Safety Net Administrated by State Monopoly

clementine gallot/Flickr

clementine gallot/Flickr

Mike Konczal has an article in The Atlantic with a headline and sub-headline that dazzles at reaffirming statist conventions, congratulating progressive self-righteousness, and preserving liberal comfort zones. As eye-catching ‘screw you’ propaganda, it has a certain charm that begs for correction.

And that’s just the headlines! Who reads articles? Fear not. A good butchering can fix it.

So, with our characteristic zest for counter-programing—and a cheerful middle finger to the lazy critics of conservative ideology—let the rewrite begin.

The Conservative Myth of a Social Safety Net Built on Charity 

The Liberal Dream of a Social Safety Net Administrated by State Monopoly, Fortified by Corruption, Enforced by Violence.

(properly understood, the state is an instrument of force)

 The right yearns for an era when churches and local organizations took care of society’s weakest—an era that never existed and can’t exist today.

The left yearns for a secular utopia where religious charity and private philanthropy is bullied out of existence by academics, bureaucrats, and all-powerful federal administrators — a Marxist fantasy that never existed, and can’t exist today.

See? Isn’t that better?

Read the rest of this entry »


Conservative Professor Who Was Denied Promotion Wins First Amendment Lawsuit

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This is good news. Not surprising, I read about this when it the lawsuit first emerged, and was impressed by how solid Adams’ case is, his rights clearly violated, in a provable way. Which is not always very easy to demonstrate, and helps explain why there aren’t more cases like this.

The Daily Caller‘s Robby Soave reports:

First Amendment enthusiasts are thrilled that Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, won his lawsuit against administrators who denied him a promotion because of his conservative, Christian views.

“To be able to speak freely without retaliation is a principle that should be a reality on campus and the jurors reassured that.”

— Travis Barham, attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom

Adams joined the university in 1993. He was an atheist at the time. By the year 2000, he had converted to Christianity and become an outspoken political conservative. He eventually wrote columns for Townhall.com.

In 2006, he was denied a promotion. Administrators were retaliating against him for his conservative views, he claimed.

The jury agreed.

Read the rest of this entry »


NYT Ross Douthat’s Post-CPAC Conclusion: The Candidate Best Suited to Unify Republican Factions: Senator Marco Rubio

StrawPollCPAC2014

Ross, You lost me at hello.

Douthat_New-articleInline“…But let me conclude with one that seems a little more likely: a rerun of Bush’s 2000 path, in which Marco Rubio wins by uniting religious and moderate conservatives.

Rubio had a tough 2013, thanks to his unsuccessful immigration push, and he lacks the ideologically committed support of a Paul or Cruz or Huckabee. But his domestic-policy forays (first on poverty, soon on taxes) have gotten smarter since the immigration debacle, and events in Venezuela and Crimea may be making his hawkish foreign policy vision more appealing to conservatives.

Moreover, as much as the party and the country have changed since the Bush era,  the best way to unify the G.O.P. is still to build bridges between religious conservatives and moderate conservatives  —  in effect, to seem relatable to Santorum voters while reassuring Romney voters.  And Rubio, in affect and background and positioning, may be the right politician for that task…”

NYTimes.com


[VIDEO] George Will: Conservatives Criticized in Media Whether They’re Unified or Divided

Not the most original insight, but a funny reminder about an unavoidable media reality: the conservative movement faces a lose-lose situation whether they’re getting along or not.

From this morning’s Fox News Sunday:

“If they’re harmonious, the media says, ’stultifying, monochrome, oppressive, no diversity. Then when they argue with each other, they say, ”Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war’ — it’s perfect nonsense.”

The Corner – NRO


Failing Liberals Turn To Oppression To Hold On To Power

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Kurt Schlichter  writes:  If you’re a conservative, you don’t need to silence the opposition.

In fact, we conservatives want liberals to talk, to make buffoons of themselves, to prove their folly. We want liberals to expound upon their ridiculous ideas, to show the world exactly what they’re about. Nancy Pelosi? Give that tiresome woman a microphone. Chatty liberals are the best advertisement for conservatism.

But liberals just can’t have conservatives speaking. We’ll tell the truth, and that’s why liberals need to shut us up.

Their traditional intimidation tactics are wearing out. Calling someone a “racist” used to be a devastating moral indictment. Liberals’ promiscuous employment of the word first turned it into a cliché and then into an ironic punchline.

I know, saying that out loud is racist. And sexist. And cisgender heteronormative, whatever the hell that means.

So now liberals have stepped up to formal governmental repression. Take the IRS scandal – or ex-scandal, in the eyes of the mainstream media. The Obama administration, at the urging of red state Democrat senators who are about to lose their seats because of their track records of failure, are doing everything they can to turn the taxman loose on the organizations that are pointing out their track records of failure.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Clinton Papers and the Decline of the Mainstream Media: ‘You Just Got Punk’d’

Credit: The University of Arkansas Library

Credit: The University of Arkansas Library

  writes:  The school of literary criticism known asreception theory holds that a text should be studied in light of its effect on its contemporaries, that a reader should be aware of the “horizon of expectations” in which a text is produced. I was reminded of this the other day as I observed, in amusement, fascination, and occasional pity, the reaction of the so-called mainstream media to Alana Goodman’s lengthy and rock-solid report on “The Hillary Papers.” This trove of previously unexamined transcriptions of conversations between Hillary Clinton and her best friend Diane Blair had been collecting dust at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville for years. Not anymore.

As far as Bill and Hillary Clinton are concerned, the media’s horizon of expectations is stunningly narrow. It encompasses on the one hand the belief that the “secretary of explaining stuff” is a national treasure beyond reproach, and on the other hand the expectation that the former secretary of state will be our next president. Stories that fall outside of this horizon are problematized, scrutinized, ascribed to partisanship, and read with the sort of incredulity reporters are supposed to apply to public figures such as the Clintons.

Read the rest of this entry »


Myths to Ditch in 2014

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Also from NRO, the always-insightful Jonah Goldberg has a good item this week.

Goldberg writes:  The Beltway consensus seems to be that 2013 was a bad year for the same reason nearly every other recent year was bad: polarization and partisanship. Personally, I can think of plenty of more important things to worry about than partisanship. Democracy is about disagreements, and partisanship is often a sign of healthy disagreement.

But polarization is a bit different. It speaks not just to a lack of basic agreement about what kind of society we should live in, but a breakdown in understanding and respect among Americans. There’s a lot of them-vs.-us talk these days on the left and the right. And while I’d never want to live in a country where we all join hands and sing “Kumbaya,” maybe a bit more understanding wouldn’t be all bad.

So I have small suggestions for New Year’s resolutions for both the Right and the Left in 2014. For liberals, maybe you should try to accept the fact that you’re not the non-conformists you think you are. And for conservatives, perhaps you should consider that you’re not necessarily the irrefutable voice of “normal” Americans.

Read the rest of this entry »


Inspectors All Round

Inspectors All Round

h/t tributaryactivism


Sacré Bleu! We’re Losing The Two Things Tocqueville Said Mattered Most About American Democracy

This is the first installment of a new series: a Frenchman reads Democracy in America and investigates how it applies to the contemporary United States.

A view of America, from France.

A view of America, from France.

 writes:  In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville doesn’t waste any time letting  you know what impresses him most about America.  To Tocqueville, equality and, to a slightly lesser — but very important — extent, religiosity, are the two foundations of the American experiment. His understanding of them certainly challenges both liberal and conservative sensibilities. But what does it say about America today that these two aspects of the American experience seem to be at all-time lows? And does Tocqueville point to a way forward?

The importance of economic and social equality

Tocqueville praises equality in his very first sentence: “Among the many things which drew my attention during my stay in the United States, none struck me more than the equality of conditions.” Two paragraphs later: “As I went on studying American society, I saw more and more in the equality of conditions the main fact which seemed to cause every other particular fact, and I kept seeing it before me as a central point to which all my observations led.”

Conservatives might not enjoy Tocqueville’s praise of economic and social equality as key to the success of the American experiment, but with some thought, you realize that Tocqueville is giving us a welcome way out of our incredibly dreary debates on the topic. A lot of conservatives claim that while the Left believes equality means equality of outcome, the Right is for equality of opportunity — but that’s a load of hooey. Everyone agrees with equality of opportunity, and all non-communists agree equality of outcomes is not desirable. The question is whether too much inequality of outcome leads to a greater inequality of opportunity. It’s a stubborn fact that, as a matter of dollars and cents, American society has gotten more unequal over the past 30 years. Does it mean that it has also become unequal in other ways? And if so, should we do anything about it? And what? Does Tocqueville show us a way?

Read the rest of this entry »


More Conservative, Less Republican: A political paradox considered

as the electorate grows paradoxically more conservative and less friendly to Republicans, the challenge for the GOP is to figure out how to connect its conservatism with a conservative public that distrusts the conservative party.

As the electorate grows paradoxically more conservative and less friendly to the GOP, the challenge for the GOP is to figure out how to connect its conservatism with a conservative public that distrusts the conservative party.

Kevin D. Williamson writes: The conservative project has two main parts: first, winning the argument, and, second, winning elections. The first is a job for what we call the conservative movement, meaning everything from magazines such as National Review to think tanks, advocacy groups, talk radio, and book publishers; the second is mainly the job of the Republican party and organizations such as the Club for Growth, which helps to ensure that victories for Republicans are victories for conservatives. There’s always a great deal of tension between those two goals, as we can see in everything from the current intramural fight over shutdown tactics to the ongoing debate over how much weight we should give to philosophical rigor versus “electability” when it comes to the nomination of candidates. NR’s principle of supporting the most conservative viable candidate is a way to try to balance those priorities, but the best way of proceeding under that guideline is not always self-evident.

That conundrum is worth thinking about right now in light of this astonishing fact: When it comes to the policy opinions of American voters, there have been three peak years for conservatism: 1952, 1980, and . . . right now, according to Professor James A. Stimson, whose decades-long “policy mood” project tracks the changing opinions of the U.S. electorate. Americans have grown more conservative on the whole, but the even more remarkable fact is that the electorate has grown more conservative in every state. As Larry Bartels points out in the Washington Post, the paradoxical fact is that Barack Obama was first elected in a year in which the American policy mood already was unusually conservative, and he was reelected in a year in which it had grown more conservative still. And so the question: Why did an increasingly conservative electorate elect and reelect one of the most left-wing administrations, if not the most left-wing, in American history? Read the rest of this entry »


Remember that new progressive era we were supposed to be entering? Not so much…

The conservative shift in public opinion has happened in all 50 states

Cornell political scientist Peter Enns reports: Recently on this blogLarry Bartels drew attention to an astonishing fact: the public is as conservative as it has been in 50 years. To highlight this point, Professor Bartels presented the public’s policy mood — James Stimson’s measure of public support for government programs—from 1950 to 2012. In a recent article, Julianna Koch and I generated measures of policy mood for each state from the 1950s to 2010 (our measures our here). What we found is that the conservative opinion shift Professor Bartels highlighted repeats itself in every state.

The figure below presents one illustration of this pattern. Here we compare the policy mood in each state in the early 1960s (hollow dots) and in the early 2000s (solid dots). Higher values indicate a more conservative policy mood. In each instance, the solid dot is to the right of the hollow dot, suggesting that the public’s policy mood has moved in a conservative direction in every state. Furthermore, most of these increases are statistically significant. Read the rest of this entry »


The predictable results of the progressive-left’s corruption, deception, and arrogance: the slow painful death of liberalism

Reality Index: Americans are more conservative than they have been in decades

Larry Bartels reports: James Stimson knows as much about public opinion as anyone in America. He has been tracking the nation’s policy preferences for more than 20 years using a “policy mood” index derived from responses to a wide variety of opinion surveys involving hundreds of specific policy questions on topics ranging from taxes and spending to environmental regulation to gun control.

The latest update of Stimson’s policy mood series suggests that the American public in 2012 was more conservative than at any point since 1952. (Actually, since mood in each year is estimated with some error, it seems safer to say that the current level of conservatism roughly equals the previous highs recorded in 1980 and 1952.) While the slight increase in conservatism from 2011 to 2012 is too small to be significant, it continues a marked trend that began as soon as Barack Obama moved into the White House. Read the rest of this entry »


The Right Way to Rebel

contributor-80x100-ggutfeldV2So, let’s say you realized, that, try as you might, you’re not like the rest of them.

You’re different. You don’t instantly agree with them. Their assumptions are no longer yours. Maybe, secretly, they never were. But now, you find yourself the odd man out as they rant, they rave, they ridicule.

You realize–in a quiet, private moment–that you aren’t a liberal. What next? What do you do? Can you let go from the safety net of agreeable party conversation and follow your own path? It’s quite a leap. Anyone who has done it will tell you–it’s never easy. See: David Mamet.

And I know–I know–you’ve never considered, ever, that you might be a conservative. Because, for the longest time, being a conservative was met with edgy derision and mockery. The “typical conservative,” as identified by the media and those in entertainment, is a cloddish clown–a humorless scold devoid of contemporary cache and hip fashion. Some of them make you angry. Some make you laugh at their earnestness. Some… you just don’t get. They’re weird.

I get it. I was there, once, facing a new terrain of oddballs. It’s important to note, however, that this stereotype–although true in some parts–in the larger sense is false. And it is a stereotype created by a movement and it’s proponents in the media that has owned the narrative since I was in diapers (at least ten years). The idea that conservatives are somehow more intolerant and angry than liberals is a lie. Both have their fair share, but the nature of conservatives is “live and let live.” It’s a shame that a few of them still don’t get that part. But all in all, the oddballs are oddly cool. Read the rest of this entry »


Kim Strassel: New Links Emerge in the IRS Scanda

Emails released this week sweep the Federal Election Commission into the conservative-targeting probe.

By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL

Congressional investigators this week released emails suggesting that staff at the Federal Election Commission have been engaged in their own conservative targeting, with help from the IRS’s infamous Lois Lerner. This means more than just an expansion of the probe to the FEC. It’s a new link to the Obama team.

In May this column noted that the targeting of conservatives started in 2008, when liberals began a coordinated campaign of siccing the federal government on political opponents. The Obama campaign helped pioneer this tactic.

In late summer of 2008, Obama lawyer Bob Bauer took issue with ads run against his boss by a 501(c)(4) conservative outfit called American Issues Project. Mr. Bauer filed a complaint with the FEC, called on the criminal division of the Justice Department to prosecute AIP, and demanded to see documents the group had filed with the IRS.

Thanks to Congress’s newly released emails, we now know that FEC attorneys went to Ms. Lerner to pry out information about AIP—the organization the Obama campaign wanted targeted. An email from Feb. 3, 2009, shows an FEC attorney asking Ms. Lerner “whether the IRS had issued an exemption letter” to AIP, and requesting that she share “any information” on the group. Nine minutes after Ms. Lerner received this FEC email, she directed IRS attorneys to fulfill the request.

image

Douglas Shulman, former IRS commissioner (left), Lois Lerner, the then-director of the IRS’s exempt-organizations office, and Neal Wolin, deputy secretary of the Treasury, at a congressional hearing, May 22.

This matters because FEC staff didn’t have permission from the Commission to conduct this inquiry. It matters because the IRS is prohibited from sharing confidential information, even with the FEC. What the IRS divulged is unclear. Congressional investigators are demanding to see all communications between the IRS and FEC since 2008, and given that Ms. Lerner came out of the FEC’s office of the general counsel, that correspondence could prove illuminating.

It also matters because we now know FEC staff engaged in a multiyear effort to deliver to the Obama campaign its win against AIP. This past week, FEC Vice Chairman Don McGahn, joined by his two fellow Republican commissioners, wrote an extraordinary statement recounting the staff’s behavior in the case.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Left and Civility

Three points:

By  David French

How to Explain Conservatism to Your Squishy Liberal Friends: Individualism ‘R’ Us

by P.J. O’Rourke

The individual is the wellspring of conservatism. The purpose of conservative politics is to defend the liberty of the individual and – lest individualism run riot – insist upon individual responsibility.

The great religions (and conservatives are known for approving of God) teach salvation as an individual matter. There are no group discounts in the Ten Commandments, Christ was not a committee, and Allah does not welcome believers into Paradise saying, “You weren’t much good yourself, but you were standing near some good people.” That we are individuals – unique, disparate and willful – is something we understand instinctively from an early age. No child ever wrote to Santa: “Bring me – and a bunch of kids I’ve never met – a pony, and we’ll share.”

Virtue is famously lonely. Also vice, as anyone can testify who ever told his mother, “All the other guys were doing it.” We experience pleasure separately; Ethan Hawke may go out on any number of wild dates, but I’m able to sleep through them. And, although we may be sorry for people who suffer, we only “feel their pain” when we’re full of baloney and running for office.

The individual and the state

The first question of political science is – or should be: “What is good for everyone?” And, by “everyone” we must mean “all individuals.”

The question can’t be: “What is good for a single individual?” That’s megalomania, which is, like a New Hampshire presidential primary, the art of politics, not political science.

And the question can’t be: “What is good for some individuals?” Or even: “What is good for the majority of individuals?” That’s partisan politics, which, at best, leads to Newt Gingrich or Pat Schroeder and, at worst, leads to Lebanon or Rwanda.

Finally, the question can’t be: “What is good for individuals as a whole?” There’s no such thing. Individuals are only available individually.

By observing the progress of mankind, we can see that the things that are good for everyone are the things that have increased the accountability of the individual, the respect for the individual and the power of the individual to master his own fate. Judaism gave us laws before which all men, no matter their rank, stood as equals. Christianity taught us that each person has intrinsic worth, Newt Gingrich and Pat Schroeder included. The rise of private enterprise and trade provided a means of achieving wealth and autonomy other than by killing people with broadswords. And the industrial revolution allowed millions of ordinary folks an opportunity to obtain decent houses, food and clothes (albeit with some unfortunate side effects, such as environmental damage and Albert Gore).

In order to build a political system that is good for everyone, that ensures a free society based upon the independence, prestige and self-rule of individuals, we have to ask what all these individuals want. And be told to shut up, because there’s no way to know the myriad wants of diverse people. They may not know themselves. And who asked us to stick our nose in, anyway?

The Bill of Rights tries to protect our freedom not only from bad people and bad laws but also from the vast nets and gooey webs of rules and regulations that even the best governments produce. The Constitution attempts to leave as much of life as possible to common sense, or at least to local option. The Ninth Amendment states: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Continues the 10th Amendment, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

It is these suit-yourself, you’re-a-big-boy-now, it’s-a-free-country powers that conservatism seeks to conserve.

But what about the old, the poor, the disabled, the helpless, the hopeless, the addled and the daft?

Conservatism is sometimes confused with Social Darwinism or other such me-first dogmas. Sometimes the confusion is deliberate. When those who are against conservative policies don’t have sufficient opposition arguments, they call love of freedom “selfish. ” Of course it is – in the sense that breathing is selfish. But because you want to breathe doesn’t mean you want to suck the breath out of every person you encounter. Conservatives do not believe in the triumph of the large and powerful over the weak and useless. (Although most conservatives would make an exception to see a fistfight between Norman Schwartzkopf and George Stephanopoulos. If all people are free, George Stephanopoulos must be allowed to run loose, too, however annoying this may be.)

But some people cannot enjoy the benefits of freedom without assistance from their fellows. This may be a temporary condition – such as childhood or being me when I say I can drive home from a bar, just fine, thank you very much, at three a.m. – or, due to infirmity or affliction, the condition may be permanent. Because conservatives do not generally propose huge government programs to combat the effects of old age, illness, being a kid or drinking 10 martinis on an empty stomach, conservatives are said to be “mean-spirited.”

In fact, charity is an axiom of conservatism. Charity is one of the great responsibilities of freedom. But, in order for us to be responsible – and therefore free – that responsibility must be personal.

Not all needful acts of charity can be accomplished by one person, of course. To the extent that responsibility should be shared and merged, in a free society it should be shared and merged on the same basis as political power, which means starting with the individual. Responsibility must proceed from the bottom up – never from the top down, with the individual as the squeezed cream filling of the giant Twinkie that is the state.

Read the rest of this entry »


Coulter Derangement Syndrome

Good item by Kathy Shaidle 

Mugged and Ann Coulter Derangement Syndrome, Part 2:

Arguing with Coulter-haters is futile because their reaction to her is visceral, not logical

Last week, I talked about Ann Coulter’s new book Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama .

Like all her books, this one is difficult to write about in a thousand words or less.

They’re always packed with quotable quotes, shocking discoveries from MSM archives, little-known historical nuggets — and infuriating stylistic tics like speed-bumping serious arguments with sarcastic, and sometimes obtuse, jokes.

So I’m back with more about Mugged, along with an investigation into what I call Coulter Derangement Syndrome, or CDS.

You know what I mean:Ann Coulter’s very existence sets millions of folks off.

Some of those people even call themselves conservative.

What’s that about?

And how does CDS impact the reception for, and potential impact of, Mugged?

More

via PJ Lifestyle