Visit this site for verifiably accurate opinions on all things political - in contradistinction to the INcorrect opinions you are likely to find elsewhere. I'm an American Libertarian Nationalist Republican. Ponder that one a while. Almost all are welcome, but at the request of management: no vegetarians or soccer fans, please. We have our reasons. Thank you and welcome to: Revealed Truth.
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Saturday, December 21, 2002
Does NRO Mean "Nothing Remotely Offensive?"
From its inception National Review magazine has provided an intellectual focal point for the conservative movement. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, NR’s founder, William F. Buckley did more than any individual to rescue the Republican party from drift, perpetual compromise, and Rockefellerism. The rare conservative politician willing to take a principled stand against media-sanctioned leftism would always find a friend and voice of support in NR. That sort of thing means something to the kind of pols who actually HAVE principles. “Foul weather friends,” the NR folks called themselves, and with good justification.
As its influence and prominence grew, Buckley came to view NR as a gatekeeper against ideological apostacy on one extreme and dogmatism and kookism on the other. On the whole, the magazine has been highly beneficial in this regard. Conspiracy theorists and racist crackpots have been effectively consigned to the fringes. With the notable exception of Buckley's injudicious campaign against Ayn Rand (motivated almost entirely by Rand's atheism), he used his influence fairly and with positive effect.
National Review is probably the most important American opinion journal of our time. I was a subscriber for many years, letting my subscription lapse out of simple laziness more than anything. I also read National Review Online, the cyber-offspring of NR, nearly every day. It's a good source of conservative commentary and beltway gossip about conservative politics and politicians.
I’ve had a nagging feeling, though, over the past year or so, that something is amiss at NRO. It began with Jonah Goldberg’s now-infamous dismissal of Ann Coulter over a year ago. The pettiness Goldberg exhibited at the time in his public comments about Coulter was odd, but easy enough to overlook. At the time I ascribed it to a personal animosity that I conjectured MUST exist between the two. Otherwise, Goldberg’s reaction didn’t really make much sense. Coulter has always been a provocateur, and the column in question - the one in which she suggested that “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity “- was written two days after the 9/11 attacks.
In the interim, though, it has struck me from time to time that NRO has a propensity to opt for respectability over ideology. This culminated, of course, with NRO’s shameless piling-on of Trent Lott, precisely when he most needed a foul-weather friend. NRO has written several columns a day for the past week or so on the subject of Lott‘s imminent demise, clearly relishing its role as the left’s chief enforcer.
What finally drove my concern about NRO front-and-center in my mind, though, was a short piece carrying the “NRO Staff” byline, simply entitled “Lamar?” Astonishingly, the “NRO Staff,” concerned with the lack of leadership it perceived from senior GOP senators (leadership defined, presumably, as joining NRO, Charles Krauthammer and other Beltway conservatives in throwing Lott to the wolves), asked the man who will soon be one of the U.S. Senate’s most liberal Republicans to step up to the pinata and take a whack.
Now that Lott has stepped down, I hope we can safely assume that Ramsey Clark will be spared similar entreaties from Goldberg’s minions.
This article by Daniel McCarthy on LewRockwell.com has a very perceptive take on the whole matter, I think. McCarthy uses the now-familiar blue-zone/red-zone formulation, referring to the colors of the states as they were filled in by the networks on their election night maps: Bush states were red, Gore states were blue.
“It’s groupthink, or as they say of teenagers, ‘peer pressure.’ Blue-zone conservatives live and work among leftists in Washington, DC, and its suburbs, and in Manhattan. Leftists are not only their neighbors but also their professional peers, particularly in journalism. The elites of the establishment Left and Right have frequently attended the same prestigious universities as well. Yuppies are yuppies, and right wing yuppies like their granola just as much as left-wing yuppies do.
“It’s as human an instinct as anything can be, to want the respect and approval of your peers. When your peers are politically correct socialists, you’re going to be a politically correct socialist as well, if you don’t want to be a pariah. The fact that you may want marginally lower taxes than they do means that you have to work that much harder to win their respect in those areas where you agree. If Charles Krauthammer and Peggy Noonan are a bit suspect because they don’t seem to love the poor quite as much as everybody else, they have to make up for it by proving that they are twice as anti-racist as the next conscientious denizen of the Beltway or the Upper West Side.
“The leaders of the conservative movement have more in common professionally, personally, geographically, and – as a consequence – ideologically with the leaders of the mainstream Left than they do with the grassroots Right, few of whom can have been truly scandalized by Trent Lott’s peccadillo. This situation perpetuates itself because as grassroots conservatives try to move-up in the worlds of politics or journalism – that is, as they climb the ladder of the conservative movement – they have to adjust their views to fit in with their superiors, whose views in turn are shaped by other makers of respectable opinion. Print and broadcast media are at the top of this intellectual food chain; that’s why the Senate majority leader, a nominally powerful man, is in danger of being brought down by the likes of Charles Krauthammer and the gang at National Review.”
And McCarthy concludes:
“The irony here is that many of the same "blue" conservatives attacking Lott style themselves as enemies of political correctness, especially on campuses. It’s a feature of groupthink that they are unaware of the inconsistency here. For the conscientious blue conservative, to be anything other than an egalitarian and a social democrat is unthinkable and impermissible; to be something else, even to deviate as little as Lott, is to become a heretic worthy of putting to the torch. In just the same way, for the far Left it is unthinkable and impermissible not to be a feminist and radical multiculturalist. Neither group is aware that the limits it draws for legitimate thought and speech are extremely narrow and based more on group psychology than on anything like logic or an external principle. The lunatic Left may be a little more aware of the reality of the situation, if anything. But the bottom line is that with the lunatic Left on the one hand, and the respectable Right on the other, the American ideological mainstream offers only groupthink.”
There’s a lot to ponder in McCarthy’s article. Particularly so for those of us who’ve taken perhaps too much comfort in such phenomenon as the success of conservative talk-radio and the libertarian internet insurgency.
He might be a bit overly glum.
But I have a hunch McCarthy's a REAL foul-weather friend.
Thursday, December 19, 2002
A Stock Market Boom on the Horizon?
Larry Kudlow makes a convincing case that the recent rise in gold prices, among other factors, portends a strong economic rebound for the coming year. Kudlow thinks the Fed's easing, impending Bush administration tax policies, and the recent outstanding productivity gains could combine to give us real GDP growth of 6 or 7% next year.
I like Kudlow a lot. Here's hoping he's right!
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Way #2 to Annoy the Politically Correct
They must have read my list.
But the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coersive Practices) was more than just annoyed. A booth in a shopping mall in Huntsville, Alabama was shut down after the NAACP complained about its sale of material with the Confederate flag on it.
"'We went to the mall, Mrs. Sams and I, the local NAACP president, and I went to the mall to see if it was actually true and it was,' (Reverend R.L. Shanklin, State Conference President of the NAACP) said. 'It was in a very prominent part of the mall. As a matter of fact, it was right across from Santa Claus,' he said.
"When they contacted mall management with their complaint, the managers decided to remove the booths from both Madison Square Mall and Parkway Place Mall, both of which are under the same management.
"Rev. Shanklin says the NAACP worked toward a similar outcome in a Mobile mall."
I'll bet they did.
THIS is Why Appeasement Never Works
They're starting already. Check out this sickening AP "straight news" story about Don Nickles, the leading contender to take over for Trent Lott should he resign. Its nothing more than character assassination masquerading as reporting.
Using classic guilt-by-association reasoning, the AP tells us:
"Sen. Don Nickles, the first Senate Republican to suggest that Trent Lott should be replaced as their leader, has built a civil rights voting record that is nearly identical to that of the man he would depose.
"The NAACP says that over the past decade, Nickles and Lott have voted the same on almost every issue deemed important by the civil rights community. And in almost every case, their votes were contrary to the wishes of that community.
"On the other hand, both Nickles, of Oklahoma, and Lott, of Mississippi, win the highest ratings from conservative groups. In 2000, the American Conservative Union gave both 100 percent ratings on key votes....
"In 1983, for example, both Lott, then in the House, and Nickles opposed a new federal holiday commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Lott said the holiday would cost the government too much money and that there were other Americans 'more deserving.' Nickles unsuccessfully pushed alternatives to a paid holiday, including observing the holiday on a Sunday.
"That same year both Lott and Nickles backed a Jesse Helms amendment that would have preserved the tax-exempt status of private schools, such as Bob Jones University, which then banned interracial dating. The measure was defeated...."
And on. And on...and on.
So we have the AP writing an article that tells us - surprise surprise! - that two conservative Republicans have similar voting records. And that this voting record dismays the NAACP. Imagine! Implicit in the article, of course, is the notion that Lott and Nickles are: a) automatically wrong on these issues, and b) motivated by racial animus. Well, after all, we know that Lott is a racist, don't we? "Even conservatives are calling for his resignation," after all. People like Bill Kristol and the editors of National Review.
Are to believe that this is really an attempt at informing? Or does it strike you as more of a smear? The same article could be written of most conservatives. And that's the real point of the article. Conservative=racist. This is why the GOP never should have started caving. This is why people like Bill Kristol and the unnamed "NR Editors" at National Review Online should be ashamed of themselves for their traiterous bellowing.
They, of all people, should know how the left and its media accomplices behave when they smell blood in the water. PARTICULARLY on matters of race. They won't be happy until the GOP consents to make Lincoln Chaffee Majority Leader and passes a bill making Al Sharpton's birthday a national holiday. Yet knowing this, the collaborationists still jumped at the first chance to throw Lott to the wolves. Shame on them.
Whether motivated by the desire to be well-thought-of by their media pals or sincere wrongheadedness, these spineless folks fell all over themselves in a pathetic indignation-fest, and now they are reaping the fruits of their efforts.
Some people aren't cut out to be conservatives. The media turns up the heat and they can't wait to disassociate themselves from the latest victim of the left's destruction machine. Such people learn nothing from history.
And they've obviously never read A Cautionary Tale.
Monday, December 16, 2002
Coming Soon to a Street Corner Near You: Counterfeit Cigarettes
I believe this may be my first opportunity on this blog to Reveal Truth prior to its actual occurrence. It is an honor.
Please, please read this article by Michael LaFaive of the Makinac Center for Public Policy, entitled "The Unintended Consequences of Cigarette Tax Hikes" There's so much great stuff here that I hesitate to select just portions; but I'll try to give you some full, satisfying flavor.
"By increasing the price for cigarettes via taxation legislators announce to the world that there are profits to be made in the illicit delivery of cigarettes. Price acts as a signal to producers to make more or less of any product. In this case a price hike tells smugglers that there are profits to be made running cigarettes between two areas (one a low tax area, the other a high-tax area. Consider as an example North Carolina and Michigan.
"In the summer of 2000 FBI agents raided a house in Charlotte, N.C., in an action dubbed "Operation Smokescreen." Inside they found cash, weapons (including shotguns, rifles and an AK-47), documents written in Arabic — and cigarettes. Lots of cigarettes.
"It appears that the raid was on a house that was used as a base for smuggling smokes. The smuggling operation exploited the tax differential between North Carolina, which has low cigarette taxes at 5 cents a pack, and Michigan, with high taxes at 75 cents (it is now $1.25) a pack.
"The smugglers would drive the 680 miles from Charlotte to Detroit in a rented van with 800 to 1,500 cartons of cigarettes purchased with cash in North Carolina. The cigarettes would then be sold to Arab-owned convenience stores in Detroit, which sold them to customers. According to the U.S. Attorney, each trip — which required absolutely no special skills for the 13-hour drive — would net $3,000 to $10,000. The profits would then be shuttled back to Charlotte.
"The homeowner and recipient of the profits was none other than Mohamad Hammoud, an individual with alleged links to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah has connections with Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda organization.
"Those $10,000 trips added up. In just one year, Hammoud deposited over $730,000 in one bank account, while paying for houses, luxury cars and other goods with cash. It's likely that millions of dollars were made on the smuggling operation between 1995 and 1999.....
"The next big unintended consequence you will be reading more about in the coming years is the counterfeiting of cigarettes themselves. The Chinese are now exporting cigarettes designed with the look and feel of Marlboros and Marlboro lights. At Long Beach harbor last year, customs officials report a 10-fold increase in the number of counterfeit cigarettes uncovered over 2001. Remember, this is just one port, and one brand we’re talking about. Not even Phillip Morris employees can tell these apart from looking at them. And the counterfeit tobacco is often laced with things that shouldn’t be there, such as sawdust...."
The point isn't so much that cigarette taxes help terrorists fund their operations - thought that is instructive. No, the point is that the economics of these taxes are bound to result in people GETTING AROUND THEM. I've been talking about this for years. When taxes constitute well in excess of 50% of product cost of any product, you're just asking for bootlegging, counterfeiting, smuggling, etc..
The prospectively delicious part is that this will really put the left in a box. They've gotten the state increasingly dependent upon cigarette tax revenue. But people will find a way not to pay oppressive taxes: some simply quit, but still others will take the routes described above. So to make up the lost revenue, they'll have to either raise taxes still further and aggravate the problem of illicit cigarettes or LOWER taxes - and tacitly acknowledge what they are loathe to admit: that lower tax rates can mean higher aggregate levels of revenue.
It should be fun to watch.
Why You Should Never Say Hello to an Ecoloon
I just discovered, via John Ray's Dissecting Leftism, a very promising blog from Australia dedicated to the cause of debunking green foolishness: The Lord's Work if ever there was such.
It is called Bizarre Science, and I recommend you take a look. It is run by a fellow named Aaron Oakley, who earned my approval with the first sentences of his writings I ever read. Namely:
"I've said it before and I'll say it again. You can't trust anything the greens say. Not even hello."
Now THERE'S a man with his head screwed on right!
Sunday, December 15, 2002
One wag on FreeRepublic, noting that the bottom 50% of wage earners in the U.S. pay less than 4% of all federal income taxes, has a new battle cry for the tax-cutters:
"No Representation Without Taxation"
Actually, I've believed this for years. In a perfect world, those who are net tax consumers, should not, in my opinion, get to vote in federal elections. Practically speaking, this probably isn't workable. But we COULD implement a system whereby folks are allowed to vote in approximate proportion to the amount of tax they pay, with everyone getting a mimimum of one vote for each office. Why should I get the same say as Bill Gates in how tax dollars are spent when I've contributed one - one millionth as much as he has?
Seems like fundamental fairness to me.
On a (slightly) more realistic note, I have a taxation proposal that I believe would result in a dramatic downsizing of the federal budget in a matter of a few years and a population significantly more attuned to the costs and nature of federal programs.
Eliminate payroll deductions.
That's right. Make people pay their taxes with monthly (or quarterly) checks, the same way they pay their mortgages, car payments and Visa bills. This way, they will actually GET the money and then have to fork it over to the government. As it stands, people never see it, so they figure they never really had it - that it isn't really THEIR money.
Then we'll see, after a year or two of writing these checks, how the voting public feels about the National Endowment for the Arts.
Arlo Guthrie, the EU, and Angry Greek Restauranteurs
One of the themes running through Ayn Rand’s work that most fascinates me is her notion of the banality of evil. No entity more clearly demonstrates the veracity of her thesis in this regard than the European Union.
Partly because I’m half Lithuanian, and partly, I suppose, because I’m a cockeyed optimist, I have been been holding out hope that Eastern Europe - and the Balkans in particular - might become a bulwark of free-market thinking and opposition to the sclerotic, freedom-sucking blob that is the EU. Stories like this from the International Society for Individual Liberty only stoked my hopes.
Sadly, it is not to be. Lithuania and nine other marks are lined up for entry into the EU. Turkey, however, remains on the outside looking in. Out in the cold. Cold Turkey.
Apparently the EU isn't completely satisfied with the human rights record of the Turks. Imagine that. I can’t help but be reminded about that line in the song “Alice’s Restaurant” where the Army psychiatrist asked Arlo Guthrie if he’d rehabilitated himself - after once being arrested for littering. I don’t share Guthrie’s view of the U.S. Army, of course, but my reaction to the EU concern about human rights, if I were a Turk, would be similar to Guthrie's upon being asked if he'd been rehabilitated:
"You want to know if I’m moral enough to join the Army and burn women, children and villages after being arrested for littering?!"
This rebuff to the Turks has prompted Samizdata to suggest that the U.S. offer Turkey membership in NAFTA.
That Giant Sucking Sound you hear is the collective gasp of 100,000 U.S. restauranteurs.