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Saturday, March 22, 2003
Let's not call them anything. Let's just ignore them.
Paleoconservatives. Rockwell.com wingnuts. There's an entire mutant subspecies of "conservatives" that has arisen and about which I have commented on this forum. As Francis Porretto wrote in a comment here about Lew Rockwell, they seem "not to have convictions; only revulsions, sympathies, enthusiasms and appetites."
David Frum has written a tour de force about such people on National Review Online. In this article, Frum traces where these people - or a lot of them - came from, and shines the light of day on their bitter defeatist ideology. Here are just a few paragraphs from this fairly lengthly piece, to give you a flavor:
"The antiwar conservatives aren't satisfied merely to question the wisdom of an Iraq war. Questions are perfectly reasonable, indeed valuable. There is more than one way to wage the war on terror, and thoughtful people will naturally disagree about how best to do it, whether to focus on terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah or on states like Iraq and Iran; and if states, then which state first?
"But the antiwar conservatives have gone far, far beyond the advocacy of alternative strategies. They have made common cause with the left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements in this country and in Europe. They deny and excuse terror. They espouse a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism. They publicize wild conspiracy theories. And some of them explicitly yearn for the victory of their nation's enemies....
"Excuse-Making: On September 30, 2002, Pat Buchanan offered this explanation of 9/11 during a debate on Chris Matthews's Hardball: '9/11 was a direct consequence of the United States meddling in an area of the world where we do not belong and where we are not wanted. We were attacked because we were on Saudi sacred soil and we are so-called repressing the Iraqis and we're supporting Israel and all the rest of it.'
"Conspiracy-theorizing: Justin Raimondo, an Internet journalist who delivered Pat Buchanan's nominating speech at the Reform party convention in 2000, alleged in December 2001 that Israel was implicated in the terror attacks of 9/11: 'Whether Israeli intelligence was watching, overseeing, collaborating with or combating the bin Ladenites is an open question. . . . That the Israelis had some significant foreknowledge and involvement in the events preceding 9/11 seems beyond dispute.' Raimondo has also repeatedly dropped broad hints that he believes the October 2001 anthrax attacks were the work of an American Jewish scientist bent on stampeding the U.S. into war.
"Yearning for defeat: On January 30, 2002, Eric Margolis, the American-born foreign editor of the Toronto Sun, appealed to the leaders of the Arab world to unite in battle against the U.S. 'What could Arabs do to prevent a war of aggression against Iraq that increasingly resembles a medieval crusade? Form a united diplomatic front that demands U.N. inspections continue. Stage an oil boycott of the U.S. if Iraq is attacked. Send 250,000 civilians from across the Arab World to form human shields around Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. Boycott Britain, Turkey, Kuwait, and the Gulf states that join or abet the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Withdraw all funds on deposit in U.S. and British banks. Accept payment for oil only in Euros, not dollars. Send Arab League troops to Iraq, so that an attack on Iraq is an attack on the entire League. Cancel billions worth of arms contracts with the U.S. and Britain. At least make a token show of male hormones and national pride....'
"The writers I quote call themselves 'paleoconservatives,' implying that they are somehow the inheritors of an older, purer conservatism than that upheld by their impostor rivals. But even Robert Taft and Charles Lindbergh ceased accommodating Axis aggression after Pearl Harbor. Since 9/11, by contrast, the paleoconservatives have collapsed into a mood of despairing surrender unparalleled since the Vichy republic went out of business. James Burnham famously defined liberalism as 'the ideology of Western suicide.' What are we to make of self-described conservatives who see it as their role to make excuses for suicide bombers?...
"They began by hating the neoconservatives. They came to hate their party and this president. They have finished by hating their country.
War is a great clarifier. It forces people to take sides. The paleoconservatives have chosen — and the rest of us must choose too. In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them."
There's lots more and I can't really do justice in a few excerpts. Frum goes into the nativistic and anti-semetic aspects of these folks at great length. I find it interesting that as "conservatives" like Pat Buchanan become, essentially, leftists, they also unmask their antisemitism at the same time. Coincidence? I rather doubt it.
There was a skit on the Monty Python show where they had a contest to come up with a derogatory term for the Belgians. The winning entry was: "Let's not call them anything. Let's ignore them."
Frum is basically saying the same thing about this crowd, and I think it's time to heed his advice. Whether they call themselves "paleoconservatives" (Buchanan, Sameul Francis, etc.), "anarcho-capitalists" (Rockwell and the Von Mises crowd), or Fruit-of-the-Loon-NeoStalinist-Conservatives, they're birds of the same feather: angry, naive souls whose hatred for those they once called fellow-travelers is so consuming that it drives them to ally themselves with the most vile sorts on the globe.
They're pathetic and philsophically impotent. Whatever ideological kinship we on the serious right might once have had with them has been buried in the rubble of their rage and confusion.
Let's not call them anything. Let's just ignore them.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
The Latvian Margaret Thatcher?
Here's a brief look at Vaira Veike-Freiberga, the President of Latvia. I've seen her on TV and she's an impressive lady. The parallels to Thatcher are somewhat apt, actually.
I hope that Bush remembers the carrot part of "carrot and stick" when it comes to people like Veike-Freiberga. It will be very important to reward the nations who's leaders have stood with us. This, I think, is an underestimated aspect of our present geopolitical state. It must be known that we do not forget those who stand with us at pivotal moments.
"Reward your friends and punish your enemies" may be an old and obvious maxim, but it is timeless and true.
Thanks again to Boris Kuperschmidt for the story.
This is pretty funny. My favorite is the one about two-thirds down about the guy who mutated to gigantic dimensions. These are REAL signs, by the way, which is why it's so funny.
We have an early front-runner for a Darwin Award. A dimwit trying to hang an anti-war banner off the Golden Gate Bridge fell to his death. My attitude is precisely that of I Am Always Right, where I found the story.
10 days, 18 hours until Opening Day, when life begins.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
My Dinner With America's Dumbest Protestors
I ate dinner at Denny's tonight. I love Denny's. The food's cheap, they keep the coffee coming, and you just never know what you might see or hear. Tonight, at the booth next to me, sat three high school kids: two girls and a boy. They were busily plotting a "peace protest walk-out" of their classes for Friday morning at 9:30.
It was an experience at once hilarious and stupifying. One girl - clearly the ringleader - spent most of the time recruiting people on the phone and engaged in idle chit-chat. When she got weary from the yakking, though, she would lay down in the booth. Fully horizontal.
It must be exhausting to be so self-aborbed.
Their conversation was positively surreal. The ringleader giggled while posing a scenario whereby George Bush would watch a videotape of his last speech, "realize how stupid he sounded," and call the whole thing off. "But no," responded the other, "he'd probably put the tape in backwards!"
This bit of cleverness drew uproarious laughter from the three of them.
It would be difficult for me to overstate the inanity of their conversation. Here's a typical bit, which I was able to write down. It is either verbatim or extremely close. Thus spaketh the male:
"There's this Muslim guy from, like, the Middle East somewhere. And he's really moderate. But he said this war is wrong and really a war against Muslims. And he was like a real MODERATE guy. Do you know who I'm talking about? We should try to find out and quote him on Friday."
When they weren't doing this sort of Beavis and Butthead impersonation, they were busily networking on their cellphones (just the girls - the guy was mostly pulling his stocking cap down over his eyes, making stupid jokes, and trying to light the cream dispenser with his Bic lighter). In addition to trying to round up participants (their count was up to 22), their other primary object of concern was obtaining a megaphone. They actually discussed the prospect of going to the local police and asking to borrow one!
I think my favorite bit, though, was their discussion of recent political history.
Girl 1: "My teacher said that Jimmy Carter was really a good president but that he had to clean up all the messes Ronald Reagan left him."
Girl 2: "I thought Carter came before Reagan."
Girl 1: "No. That's what she said."
Girl 2: "Maybe she meant Nixon."
Girl 1: "Maybe."
Or maybe she meant William McKinley.
The depth of their ignorance wasn't what astounded me, though. I actually respect apolitical youth. It has always seemed to me to be a sign of precociousness for a young person to realize that he doesn't know enough to form well-informed political convictions. Indeed, such uncommon good sense probably makes one a good prospect for conservatism down the line.
No, what was truly remarkable was that hallmark of modern leftism: profound arrogance coupled with a pathetically half-baked ideology consisting almost exclusively of rancorous cliches expressing disdain for conservatives. In fact, hatred of Republicans was really the only consistent theme I could discern from my hour-plus excursion into the depths of adolescent leftism.
These poor children are empty vessels filled with nothing but platitudes about how mean, stupid and greedy "conservative Republicans" (a term I must have heard used 20 times) are. They're easy to forgive...they truly know not what they do.
But their teachers have a lot of explaining to do.
Monday, March 17, 2003
Projects I'd Like to See Someone (other than me) Undertake
#1 - "Products of Friends Clearinghouse"
It seems to me that along with avoiding French and German products, it would be a good thing for right-thinking folks to aggressively patronize products of those nations acting responsibly vis-a-vis Iraq. It would be nice if someone would form a web-based clearinghouse with recommendations.
For example, I know that Australia is said to produce very nice wines. I'm not a wine enthusiast myself so I can't confirm or deny. But it seems like one might switch from French or German wines to Australian or perhaps Spanish (I assume they make wine too).
I don't know what sorts of products are made in Eastern Europe, though I do remember noting that a particular brand of low-cost cigarette is made in Latvia of all places. Someone ought to compile a list of these for the politically conscious.
#2 - SUV's for Ariana
This would be more time consuming - but REALLY fun. I have a dream.....
Someone should set up a web site dedicated to collecting enough money to purchase the most fuel inefficient Hummer made AND enough gasoline to drive it around the United States from city to city. I'm sure with just a little effort such a person could easily attract enough publicity to get interviews on various local radio and television shows to draw attention to the project. I can imagine the interviews now.
"Why are you doing this?"
"To annoy Ariana Huffington. She loathes SUV's and Hummers in particular. That's why we chose the Hummer for this project."
"But what are you trying to accomplish?"
"We have three objectives: 1) Raising money for charity; 2) Priming the economic pump by spending money on the car, gasoline, maintenance and lodging; and 3) Annoying Ariana Huffington."
After the tour, the car could be auctioned off and the proceeds donated to charity.
One part of the project would be to keep a meticulous scorecard of the extravagant amount of gasoline consumed, and perhaps get it autographed by The Great Woman herself. THAT would have to go on the web site.
It's fun to dream.
Useless Libertarians as Useful Idiots
I once wrote favorably of Lew Rockwell on this site. That was a mistake for which I now humbly apologize.
Lew Rockwell is a fraud.
Just take a look at this transcript of a recent interview he gave to noted libertarian Bill Moyers. It's positively appalling.
There is a subspecies of libertarian - and Rockwell I now realize is one of these - that is motivated much less by principle than by a sort of cultural animus. Often this is an animus against fundamentalist christians. In Rockwell's case, though, it is against Republicans. This type of "libertarian" will make alliances with anyone who opposes the object of his animus, irrespective of ideology.
Moyers is a statist of the highest order. Yet Rockwell went on his show and in no way challenged any of his left-wing ideology. In fact, if you read the transcript, Rockwell joined Moyers in his condemnation of Bush's tax cuts. Moyers made a passing reference to areas in which he disagrees with Rockwell, but Rockwell chose to pretty much ignore those, preferring instead to bash Bush at every opportunity.
That's a funny crop of libertarians they're growing over at the Von Mises Institute.
But the really important point is this: Moyers is using Rockwell and Rockwell surely KNOWS this. Moyers was impressed by Rockwell's anti-war stance, so he invited Rockwell on his show to demonstrate the depth of opposition to the war in Iraq. The subtext is clearly: "See! Even right-wingers oppose this war!" Moyers invited Rockewell for the same reason that members of the national media flock to John McCain to solicit his opinion of Bush policies. Such people provide the ideological cover needed to present their leftist bias as objective news.
Moyers pressef Rockwell over and over to criticize Republicans and Republican policy, and Rockwell, of course, happily obliged. Gleefully, Moyers pressed for the sale: "(Y)ou've been so critical of the Republicans that… am I to assume you're going to enroll as a Democrat next year?"
Rockwell avoided that question, saying basically that he disagrees with both parties. But Moyers got what he wanted from this Useful Idiotarian nonetheless.
It either never occurred to Rockwell, or, more likely, he simply didn't care, that Moyers would never have Rockwell on his show if not for his utility in the anti-war effort. Moyers would never have Rockwell on his show to discuss economic or regulatory policy. He'd never grant him a forum to bash the anti-freetraders or the environmentalists. Because he isn't useful in that regard. He's useful to Moyers because they share a common hatred: Republicans. The enemy of Moyers' enemy is his friend. For a day at least.
Probably the most ironic moment was the positive reference made by both participants to a "very interesting" (Rockwell's words) news story about what a great place Baghdad is. About how you can worship as you please in Iraq and buy guns for example.
The source of the Story? National Public Radio.
The irony was lost on both parties.
At least Moyers had an excuse.