Stop Making Fools Of Yourselves

The reader should be assured that there is nothing in the following text that should be interpreted as a statement of support for the Republican National Committee or its mass media organs. This text merely states that congressional Republicans who have opposed budget hikes and Obamacare have acted decently but are unlikely to be rewarded with public approval. I have no doubt that if we were dealing with a Romney or Christie administration, many of those who now oppose federal spending would be less vocal about government extravagance. The same would be true if the budget  proposed additional spending on the military.

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Objections can certainly be raised against the congressional budget constructed by two Wisconsiners Paul Ryan and Patty Murray. Tea Party activists lost no time lacing into this plan that Congress passed by large margins. The new budget does nothing to reduce the national debt and provides for continued tax increases over the next ten years, totaling $1 trillion. Ryan and Murray, according to their critics, seem oblivious to the fact that tax intake has risen by $188 billion in the last year, while federal spending cuts in the same period total a mere $85 billion. Finally the reduced amounts being allotted to Medicare, partly as the result of Obamacare, will require lowered payments to doctors and hospitals. Substantial cuts will also come out of the support for veteran pensions and the care of wounded soldiers. Moreover, the tax hike for Obamacare will likely be in the range of $3 trillion, a cost that taxpayers will be asked to defray. The new budget assumes that Obamacare will go forward, despite its manifest defects and disastrous rollout.

The GOP should be delighted with this budget, in view of the poor hand that voters have dealt it and the hostility registered for its congressional representatives in national polls. On the plus side, the budget compels federal workers to pay for more of their pension plans; and this may be a modest victory for budget-trimmers. Most voters don’t care a fig about the costs of social programs, which they imagine will be paid out of someone else’s pocket.  They want goodies and lots of them, especially for the “disadvantaged,” which, in their minds, include most of them. Needless to say, these voters loathe congressional penny-pinchers who express second thoughts about government benevolence.

The electorate does not dislike Obama the way they do the House Republicans, who enjoy just above a 20% approval rating. It’s not that House Republicans really want to dismantle the federal welfare state, contrary to what Democratic columnists suggest. They just talk about shrinking the debt (which the vast majority of Americans claim to be in favor of) by shrinking some social programs. In late September Republican congressmen managed to curtail a few federal operations for a few weeks while trying to keep back Obamacare from going into effect. Although the rollout has been a disaster, the majority of voters still haven’t forgiven House Republicans for having counterfactually “closed down government.” A gesture with mere symbolic significance, it apparently scared lots of Americans, who feared their favorite government programs were under attack.

Obama, by contrast, still enjoys the trust of 45% of Americans polled. Although his presidency has witnessed one screw-up after another, the miscalculations of Obamace being only the most recent, he’s still liked if no longer respected by most Americans. That’s because this fellow is seen as nice, that is, someone who promises more and more goodies that someone else is supposed to pay for.  The “people” showed their love for this bumbling leader by electing and reelecting him to the presidency. This is different from how the real majority regard Tea Party favorites Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. Most of those polled consider these opponents of deficit spending and a higher debt ceiling to be beneath contempt.

Given their weak electoral strength and the popular appetite for an all-embracing Nanny State, Republicans in Congress had no practical choice but to take the proposed budget. But the Republican establishment and its stable of columnists should not have praised this deal. Rather they should have stressed their inability to do any better, given where most likely voters stand on government spending. There is no need for empty bipartisan gestures. The GOP should make clear that the other side is in the driver’s seat because that is where the electorate wants them. What is more, the opposition will not able to turn anything around, until the balance of power changes. That is the way a parliamentary system works, in which one party or coalition takes over and runs affairs until it is voted out.

It is foolish for an outnumbered party whose congressional representatives seem widely hated to claim they’re speaking for the “people.” Those who make this claim are deluding themselves badly. Tea Party congressmen should recognize their circumstances and let the other side give the “people” exactly what they voted for. Of course there is no guarantee that allowing this to happen will change majority opinion. Perhaps the voters will become so addicted to government programs that the feds will have to borrow truckloads of money from China in order to pay for expanding popular appetites. This may the direction in which most Western democracies are headed, toward crises produced by wild government spending. But there is no advantage for those whom the public scorns to pretend they’re doing the will of the “people.” Unfortunately, they’re not.

A Modest Prediction

 

On November 25 the impeccably neoconservative New York Post, which is owned by movement conservative sugar daddy Rupert Murdoch, ran a screed against the Russian government by director of global initiatives for Human Rights Watch, Minky Worden.  This invective against “Russia’s Olympic Torch of Hate” is directed against the Russian state for its ban on “homosexual propaganda.” Worden complains that the right to assemble is now being curtailed for LGBT activists in a country that is scheduled to hold the Winter Olympic Games. She and the Post are also upset that “antigay broadcasts” are aired in Russia, with apparent state approval, and that the government is doing nothing to address the fears of the already marginalized bisexuals and transgendered. The clear implication is that the Olympic Games should be removed from Russia if this disregard of putative human rights persists.

Such positions are no longer uncommon in the neoconservative press, and in the drive to legalize gay marriage, the Post and such identifiably neoconservative publicists as John Podhoretz and Jonah Goldberg have made no secret of their belief that encouraging gays to marry is conducive to conservative “family values.” Since my own view for decades, which has been expressed in books and articles, is that the “conservative movement” is neither essentially conservative nor a serious opposition to the Left, perhaps I may be permitted to raise this question: How many months will it take before what is now the neocon- leftist position on gay self-expression becomes revealed truth for those who make up what Peter Brimelow has called “conservatism, incorporated”?

A few months ago, purges took place in Heritage and more recently, Intercollegiate Studies Institute affecting those who took seriously (or hung with those who did) studies showing IQ disparities among individuals and groups. The obvious thinking among those who carried out these purges is that they could mollify the Left by throwing overboard authors and workers who violated the taboo against challenging the leftist fiction of genetic cognitive equality. A question that I raised with the ISI senior vice-president, who called to sever relations with me for being on the wrong side of a delicate issue, is this:  How much longer will he and his fellow-careerists purge those who are in violation of the establishment Left’s advancing ideological agenda.

The likely next thing that will be required of the “Right,” as evidence of its moderateness, is to dissociate itself from those who continue to be on the wrong side of the gay issue. Having seen how hard the neocon press is now pushing what used to be exclusively the Cultural Left’s agenda, I think my prediction for another leftist leap forward on the part of the official Right will soon be taking place. In the twinkling of an eye all the time-servers on the made-up right will be imposing gay rights litmus tests on each other. Opposing gay marriage or LGBT missionizing rights will be seen as an unacceptable position for card-carrying conservatives, comparable in wickedness to noticing the intractability of IQ differences. Needless to say, those who dare resist the new accommodation will be treated as moral lepers. Just as I was told by ISI’s senior vice president that believing in IQ differences violates “Christian values,” I expect I’ll soon be informed that ignoring the demands of the gay lobby is profoundly anti-conservative. Careerists have no shame.

The Inevitability of President Christie and an Addendum

Having thought about the gubernatorial election in New Jersey, in which the heavily financed Republican incumbent won 60 % of the vote, including most Latino voters, it seems to me that it may be possible to determine the next president. I offer my judgment as someone without a horse in this race. As a supporter of limited constitutional and decentralized government, I don’t find either candidate to my liking.  I am simply predicting who would win in a matchup between Christie and the Clinton heiress apparent. According to my tea leaves, the victor would be the New Jersey governor in a walk away.

Hillary lacks certain qualities that may be necessary to win the office she has doggedly pursued. She is a visibly aging feminist activist, who trades in the slogans of the 1970s. Like most feminists of my acquaintance, she gives no sign of wit and is a deadly dull speaker, unless prepped to read a text that someone else has written for her. It was no accident that she was overtaken and beaten by Obama in 2008. In a contest against someone who wields words effectively and radiates newness, she is likely to be bested.

Yes, I know Clinton bag-man Terry McAuliffe won the governorship in Virginia, in a state that is being turned into an operational base for the Clinton campaign. But the oily McAuliffe won his race, with massive turnout by Washington-public sector workers in Northern Virginia, against a Republican challenger who was outspent by more than 2 to 1. The RNC pulled the rug out from under McAuliffe’s opponent while pouring a King’s Ransom into Christie’s campaign. One must also wonder whether McAuliffe, who has been involved with the Clintons in questionable but lucrative financial operations, will profit from his Virginia base. He faces a hostile Republican-dominated legislature that considers him profoundly distasteful. McAuliffe won with a mere 2.5 percent majority; and if the GOP national committee were more interested in his campaign and less interested in having Christie win big, Ken Cuccinelli would now be the Virginia governor.

It is also clear that the media have begun to beat up on Christie, whom they formerly adored, as a very liberal Republican but this may be a futile effort. Although Christie spent years as a lobbyist in the sewers of New Jersey politics, this is small stuff compared to the scandals that attach to the Clintons. Shady business deals going back to Whitewater and Arkansas politics, including accusations of being involved in the drug trade which came out in the British press during Bill’s presidency, and now the surfacing of news about a money-laundering foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, run by Bill and Hillary, will surely come up in a presidential campaign. In August, the usually friendly New York Times, published an exposé on how Global Initiative donations were being siphoned off into Bill’s business ventures and Hillary’ presidential campaign. Hillary, who is verbally inept and insufferably righteous, will not likely respond to such charges in an adequate manner.

Christie in this confrontation would enjoy (as he did in the recent New Jersey race) a sizeable war chest provided by the usual GOP suspects. Corporate wealth, the defense industry, the neoconservative press, and those wishing to put the GOP back in clover will ensure his base support. Christie already has official conservative journalists, with Ann Coulter ahead of the pack, loudly singing his praises on FOX-news. The pro-amnesty Republican columnist Linda Chavez extols Christie as someone who connects with minorities. This may be an understatement given the alacrity with which Christie has been conferring rights on illegals, including the right to attend state universities. Ponnuru at National Review extols Christie as a model conservative politician, that is, someone who is quietly against abortion and who has personal reservations about gay marriage but who is not likely to make a fuss about divisive issues. Christie would shove the Right’s social agenda out of sight but would catch less flak than Hillary when he did it.

In the past I stated that Republicans may be hurting themselves by continuing to nominate presidential candidates who desperately lunge to the left in pursuit of the other party’s base. But this may be the exception that proves the rule. Establishment conservative pundits and columnists are being leaned on long before the nominating convention to package Christie as an authentic figure of the right. And the party regulars have been out of power for so long that they’d happily nominate Michelle Obama for president, if they thought she’d help their fortunes in any way. This election won’t be about principle for the party seeking to take over. It’ll be about getting a bigger piece of the political pie.

Addendum: There is a story that comes with this text. After it appeared in a slightly altered form as a newspaper commentary, I sent it out to several websites that until recently posted anything I submitted. Suddenly longtime friends wouldn’t touch any material of mine, no matter how anodyne it seemed. The reason is now painfully obvious. My excommunication by Intercollegiate Studies Institute (about which more will soon be posted on VDARE) has signaled to the conservative-libertarian establishment that I am radio-active. It would appear that I hang out with people who discuss IQ differences, which, according to establishment conservatives, do not exist or in any case should never be noticed. Although my scholarship has nothing to do with genetic questions (I am by training a social-intellectual historian), the fact that I would consort with people who dare to notice the obvious, even in violation of PC, has made me persona non grata in most (non-conservative) conservative quarters. At last we are seeing the “conservative” media turning inevitably into a cowardly imitation of the Left, except on questions of immediate interest to the GOP. In my commentary I predict the further descent of this already gutless movement into a cheering gallery for Chris Christie.            

 

The Drek That Passes For Conservative Wisdom

In a recent syndicated column (October 22) journalist Jonah Goldberg said something so foolish that I can’t resist responding. According to this GOP icon, the “populist” wing of the Republican Party is now repeating “the old game of attacking even very conservative Republicans as sellouts.” Unfortunately, “this old-time racket is now turning into a real movement.” Even worse, the belligerence of the excessive Right may be counterproductive. Apparently things are already going in Goldberg’s direction, without the Tea Party overkill. He confidently cites one “political scientist” who “recently observed the public is more conservative now than at any time since 1952.”

Although we are given no explanation as to why 1952 represents a high watermark of conservatism (why not some other year?), Goldberg pounces happily on this date.  Perhaps it serves as a misty benchmark at a moment when the US stands on the verge of an unprecedentedly conservative age.

It is entirely possible that millions of GOP groupies believe such opinions. And I wouldn’t question the possibility that Goldberg’s happy talk could get donors to throw cash at Washington think-tanks to make what is supposed to be a happy situation even better.  But as someone who has spent decades researching the “American conservative movement,” I am dumbfounded by Goldberg’s unsubstantiated judgment. What evidence can he offer for his statement, except for rants by Democrats and the journalistic Left against Tea Party activists? I still recall reading in the New York Times that George W. Bush was by far our most rightwing American president. Presumably Goldberg is taking seriously accusations from the other side but is giving them a positive turn. 

The counterevidence is so overwhelming as to crush the human mind. Never before in our history have our state and federal governments been as large as they are right now, or spent as much money on social programs, or been as intimately involved in overseeing family affairs. Never in the past have there been so many government-employed, anti-discrimination officials supervising our commercial and interpersonal transactions.  And only about 25% of the American public, consisting disproportionately of those over sixty, are disturbed by these trends. (I am using for this figure the present approval rating of Tea Party activism.) The rest of the voting public would seem to believe that current political trends haven’t gone far enough and that we need an even more controlling administration to monitor our behavior and redistribute our income.

What we see in the US, moreover, coincides with political and voting trends throughout Western and Central Europe. The only regions in our former Western civilization that is withstanding this turn toward the social Left are in Eastern Europe and Russia. Significantly, our “conservative” as well as liberal press denounces the Russian, Serbs and Hungarians, for being resistant to such family values as gay marriage and gay pride parades. Goldberg may be able to convince himself we’re becoming more conservative for a very clear reason. Whatever the US electorate and our consumer culture embrace will become for him an American “conservative tradition” once they are absorbed into the national life.

Further, terms like “conservative” and “liberal” have no other meanings than the ones that politicians and the media assign them. Why is it “liberal” to urge military restraint but “conservative” to be in favor of invading foreign countries to bring them women’s rights and universal suffrage? Why is it “liberal” to think that America is not a truly exceptional political society, but “conservative” to believe we are morally better than other nations and immune to the forces that affect them? Why is it “liberal” to think it wrong to bug the cell phone of a foreign ally but “conservative” to imagine that we are entitled to do so because we’re Americans? One answer to these questions is the media have decided for us what terms mean.  The other answer is that ideological markers have become interchangeable with the policies of our two national parties and their donor bases.

 But even by this second standard, it would seem that Goldberg’s cause isn’t doing well, as he himself has noticed in other columns and as national polls reveal. In what is supposedly the dawn of the most conservative age in American history (at least since 1952), the GOP is lagging well behind its supposedly more leftist competitor in electoral support. The Democrats may have a permanent electoral hold in presidential races, as the party pushes leftward on social and economic issues. Not to worry however! If this trend continues to unfold, Goldberg may decide that it betokens a new conservative age. Like gay marriage, which he already endorses, Obamacare could become part of this star journalist’s “conservative” tradition,” as we enter a (perhaps make-believe) “conservative” time zone. After all, ideologies are what journalists and the media tell us they are.

Are There Really Fiscally Conservative Social Liberals

 Recently I encountered a view in talking to a young former colleague which seems so wrong-headed that I feel driven to respond. I’m talking about the idea that Republicans would make significant inroads among the young if they combined “fiscally conservative with socially liberal” positions. This outlook, which is regarded as “libertarian,” would find resonance among young adults and possibly lure them away from the Democratic Party, for which they now vote in increasing numbers.

 There’s no reason to think any of this is true. Young people may be voting for the Democrats because they are absorbing the opinions of the culture industry, which is decidedly on the left. They are not going to give up the Democratic name-brand because the other party begins to sport more of the same products. At that point young Democrats would regard the GOP as an inferior version of their party.

 Moreover, young voters regard the Democrats as more likely than the supposedly tight-fisted Republicans to give them lots of college loans and medical insurance at very low cost. Why should we believe young adults are turned off by the Republican Party simply because it has lagged behind the Democrats in supporting gay marriage or late term abortion? This voting bloc may be running to the Democrats precisely because they can’t stand “fiscally conservative” politicians. If young people are waiting to embrace a socially liberal GOP candidate, how does one explain that in the mayoral race in New York City, the socially far leftist Republican, Joe Lhota, is running almost fifty points behind the Democratic front runner, Bill de Blasio? Why is there no evidence that the “youth vote” is defecting to the Republican candidate, who in his social stances may be to the left of Obama?

I’m also unclear as to why those who hope the GOP will fall into line with the Obamaites on social issues think this would not involve at least some drawbacks. Why would the adoption of socially liberal (really leftist) positions not exact a heavy toll in terms of votes that would be lost on the right? Although the average Republican may vote robotically for candidates who stand for nothing but winning, there are obvious limits to this knee-jerk ritual. Large pockets of principled conservatives in Pennsylvania and elsewhere last November abstained from voting for their party’s choice. Why would such voters rally to a “fiscally conservative” GOP version of Obama or Hillary? Remember these folks ran away from a waffling moderate, who promised to enact an amnesty bill within a year of being elected.

There may be no reason, furthermore, to characterize socially liberal positions as “libertarian.” The enactment of these positions is always accompanied by the likelihood of government coercion. When two ‘liberal” states, New York and Maryland, voted to legalize gay marriage, they also passed laws against those who might find this arrangement sufficiently offensive so as to “discriminate” against those who practice it. It is naive to believe that the opponents of successful leftist causes are left alone to express their objection. They are forced to be “sensitive” in the name of ‘antidiscrimination” or else become subject to punishments for such behavioral offenses as creating hostile work environments, not being welcoming to gay couples or not paying for one’s employee’s abortion-producing drug. Let’s not pretend that those who raise conscientious objections against the Left will be treated tolerantly!

This brings me to the question of what the GOP can do to wean the youth vote away from the left wing of the Democratic Party. I have no definitive proposals for dealing with this problem, except to warn against doing stupid things, like trying to run copies of Joe Lhota all over the country. Changes in voting patterns may in fact occur once the effects of Obamacare impact on young voters. These now enthusiastic Obamaites will be subsidizing a system that is unlikely to provide them with the benefits they want. The program more likely will leave them with a mountain of deductibles.

 Equally important, success in presidential campaign depends not only on media approval but on having candidates who can excite the public more than those lackluster centrists the GOP seems to enjoy running. The problem with Romney as a presidential candidate was certainly not his far right politics. Although the media predictably laced into him as a heartless right-winger, Romney was the farthest thing imaginable from how he was depicted. He bent backward to be Mr. Nice and to avoid confronting his critics. Like other generic Republican presidential candidates, he was hoping to acquit himself honorably, without having to lay a glove on his opponent. It is hard to imagine that Romney would have done better if he had endorsed all of Obama’s social positions. And come to think of it, he appeared to be doing exactly that in the second presidential debate.