Saturday, March 14, 2009

In Defense of McCarthyism

It's not online yet, but Dan McCarthy's piece for the first issue of Young American Revolution, is remarkable for a number of reasons. Aside from the fact that Dan gives a shout out to a certain "left conservative" blogger, turned YAR contributing editor, Dan also hits home on a couple of major points that are too often missed by political commentators of every political persuasion.

For starters Dan points to the transcendent quality of the Liberty Youth Movement in a particularly cutting way. By noting that YAL and company are "to the right of the Right and to the left of the Left," Dan echoes my father who once noted that his wayward son had always been sympathetic to the radical spirit of dissent on the extremes of both political poles. In actuality this phenomenon is common and shows us just how meaningless the artificial political distinctions are these days. In arguing on behalf of a "left conservatism," I have often talked about alliances formed to combat empire. In truth though these "alliances" are more than just pragmatic coalitions. They are natural outgrowths of overlapping philosophies that are more often than not in synch. In a decentralist world the supporters of Ron Paul and Ralph Nader would not look very different. It is only because of the problem of artificial institutional bigness that the gap appears so large today.

Dan is also wise to point out that "left conservatives" like myself "combine anti-corporatist sensibilities with a respect for established folkways, whether in city neighborhood or rural communities." In fact this is a near perfect description of the guiding principles that define Kirkian populists like myself. Localist ideas are the bedrock principles for which we stand, and as Dan notes we don't deny the tradition of leftist anti-statism in order to conform to a narrow right wing caricature of the Left.

Finally in writing about the "wildly eclectic" nature of the Liberty Youth Movement, Dan correctly hones in on the complexities that made the Ron Paul campaign so exciting to so many young people. In pulling from a wide variety of intellectual traditions, college age kids used to being victimized by the worst aspects of mass education, got their first looks at Austrian Economics, anarchism, secession, and a whole slew of other taboo topics. It is for this reason that the first generation of this movement must be on guard against the fierce sectarianism and the fantasies of street fighting militancy that sunk the New Left. Right now we need folks who are looking to build from the bottom, not lecture from the tops. To borrow an old DIY punk rock slogan, "by the kids, for the kids" should be our calling card and hands on education and application an immediate goal.

In a recent Taki's Magazine podcast, Richard Spencer suggests that the "alternative Right" look outside of the conservative movement for converts to the cause. I couldn't agree more. And while Richard never explicitly mentioned disaffected leftists, it is notable that a growing portion of them are fed up with the identity politics masquerading as anti-imperialism that has come to dominate its most influential media and cultural outlets.

On a playing field this large, with the stake so high, we can no longer afford to waste opportunities or bicker about trivialities. There can be a State and an Empire or Communities and Individuals. There cannot be both. Those that realize this much are welcome aboard, no loyalty oaths required.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Those Paleo-Punks Sure Are Mysterious..." or the great eight(een)

Over at The Northern Agrarian, Patrick Ford has outed himself as a paleo-punk. Having also come out of the DIY punk/hardcore scene, I am always quick to take notice when another member of the "alternative Right" universe has similar origins. Although no formal list of paleo-punks has ever been compiled, my fellow Charlestonian Jack Hunter definitely qualifies and both Joshua Snyder of The Western Confucian and Daniel McCarthy of TAC have hinted at having these "tendencies" in the past.

I write this today primarily as an excuse to rattle off a list of the eighteen most important albums of my life. Note that this is not a favorites list, and I have tried to avoid discographys, compilations or "splits" which were common in the punk/hardcore world before the corporate gods saw fit to rape and pillage it. I also didn't include EPs/7 inch records or Demo tapes, both staples of DIY punk rock and both mediums that contributed far more to my personal activities and interests.

Without further ado and in no particular order:

Face To Face - Don't Turn Away
Gorilla Biscuits - Start Today
Against Me! - Reinventing Axl Rose
Shotmaker - Mouse-Ear. Forget Me Not.
Grade - And Such Is Progress
Dead Kennedys - Bedtime For Democracy
Chokehold - Content With Dying
Stretch Arm Strong - Compassion Fills The Void
Milhouse - Obscenity In The Milk
Converge - Petitioning The Empty Sky
Moss Icon - Lybernum
Propaghandi - Less Talk, More Rock
Self - Codename: Spivey
Unjust - Of Love And Spilled Blood
Hellbender - Con Limon
Botch - We Are The Romans
Karate - The Bed Is In The Ocean
Hot Water Music - No Division

A more complete discussion of my punk rock past may appear at a later date. Who knows I may eventually get around to posting old Remnants of Waco videos on youtube or listing a "best of" list for things exclusively released on vinyl.

Detailed "defenses" of the picks above may be forthcoming as well. We'll see if I'm feeling chippy this week.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

TLC is not dead!

This blog is not dead! I have been splitting time between here and The Sniper's Tower at TakiMag as of late. While this will continue, I promise to keep this site going forward, though there is likely to be a bit of a "content shakeup" in the near future. Stay tuned...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Other Faces of Libertarianism

Having just finished listening to this discussion with Richard Spencer and Austin Bramwell, a few thoughts on the "two faces" of libertarianism debate.

The designations "tragic" and "comic" are interesting and examining what those terms mean contextually within the increasingly broad libertarian spectrum gives one much to ponder. While I am not sold that either of those libertarian distinctions can be so neatly applied, the classifications unquestionably point to two existing "moods" within the broader libertarian movement (if such a thing can be said to exist).

Something that is hinted at in the Bramwell/Spencer debate, that is noteworthy, though never fully explored, is the two approaches the two moods take toward human nature. While Richard may have been reaching a bit in suggesting that the "comic" crowd ultimately must rely on some sort of global governance system to enforce its "rights" based agenda, the sentiment behind the argument is undeniably true.

To the "comics," the world is a place filled with bigots, homophobes and opponents of "alternative lifestyles." As a rule they seem to favor an aggressive counterattack against prevailing traditions and social institutions. The comics simply don't trust people to govern themselves. Enforcement of civil rights statues and PC policing have become staples of their cause, and the "selfism" so abhorred by the original American individualist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, is the norm. The State is only nominally the enemy, and at times is an appropriate agent of "social justice."

The "tragics" may have a negative view of political institutions, but they generally have a favorable view of organic communities and local customs. There is little fear among the tragics about how different cultures behave in their own backyards and the autonomy of culturally conservative (and culturally liberal) enclaves is cheered, not feared. In other words the tragics do do trust people to govern themselves.

That said, it seems that the comic/tragic divide is but one of many fissures in the modern libertarian movement, and this divide is perhaps less significant than others. One glaring example, and one that is rarely discussed in polite company, is the huge rift amongst libertarians and their often conspiracy driven, popular base. While many prominent libertarians hint at having sympathies with various conspiracist arguments involving political assassinations, false flag operations, etc., most serious movement thinkers spend their time writing or discussing questions of economics, foreign policy or personal liberty. Their primary method of criticism regarding the State is in measuring its relative inefficiency by comparison to private enterprise.

Yet a very large segment of the libertarian grassroots are diehard conspiracy theorists. To them, the Austrian Theory of The Business Cycle is not only unknown, but irrelevant. They see a very real globalist coup that has already succeeded and curiously consider the State remarkably efficient, but only when it comes to doing dangerous and wildly immoral things. While it is fair to say there is overlap between these two camps, it is also fair to say that where they do not overlap, they are doomed to be engaged in an endless civil war. The conspiracists see the intellectuals as "gatekeepers" and the intellectuals see the "conspiracists" as "kooks." This is complicated by the fact that the "kooks" need the credibility of the "gatekeepers" to be heard at all, and the "gatekeepers" need the sheer numbers and enthusiasm of the "kooks" to stay relevant.

There are many other divisions that are not covered by the "comic" and "tragic" denotations. The large gap between libertarians who put decentralism first (as do I) and those that put raw economics first (most Misesians) immediately comes to mind. Though I have serious disagreements with Mr. Bramwell's assessment of monetary issues, his central contention may in fact be true. Libertarianism may not be a fully formed, mature, political movement or ideology. What is unclear is why this would be viewed as a negative thing in lieu of what the more organized philosophies have given us over the last hundred years.

Cross Posted at The Snipers Tower

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

TakiMag Podcast with Jack Hunter

I was fortunate enough to be a guest on the latest edition of TakiMag Radio with Jack Hunter today.

Naturally we discussed my latest TakiMag article on the truly awful Tony Blankley, but we also spent sometime discussing the new magazine Young American Revolution. I am lucky enough to be a contributing editor to YAR and must say that the first issue looks to be a great one. Those folks interested in securing a copy of the first issue should check out the Young Americans For Liberty site for details.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tony Blankley Stinks

I elaborate further in my newest piece for TakiMag.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

LRC feedback

I've gotten several notes on my LRC article advocating for the election of police officers by the citizens they patrol. I appreciate the feedback and want to thank everyone who has sent a note my way. I also want to expand on a couple of things that I left out of the article for the sake of brevity.

In writing the piece, I did not mean to suggest that the election of cops would solve all problems associated with criminal law enforcement. In fact I am quite certain there would still be problems, Electing policeman is not a "best case scenario" proposal, but rather a way to use existing tools to get us closer to where we should be.

A few former police officers responded and noted that some areas already elect constables and sheriffs, and in fact they are often the most corrupt people on the force. I don't doubt that. I do doubt that their positions are necessary, The election of cops on the beat would do much to undermine the bureaucratic structures currently in place, leaving those at the top of heap less able to wield any significant power.

More to the point, I believe the election of police would ultimately undermine the notion that the world would collapse into chaos absent constant government surveillance. Libertarians that prefer a private security arrangement and localists that prefer a citizen's militia might want to consider whether or not this system would help their cause or not. I believe it would and an impeachment mechanism-and None Of The Above option on the ballot-are certainly amendments that would help that process along.

Finally, my endorsement of the concept is not without an understanding of the logistical problems associated with it. I am aware of the sort of overhaul such a system would require, though I don't believe that disqualifies it from being treated seriously. The difficulties that might be involved with setting up elections, or drawing district lines, pale in comparison to the difficulties and problems we have right now.

It may be a "mild reform," but it's one worth serious consideration.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Elect The Cops!

That's the title of my new article up on

Check it out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Culture11 Dead

The online web magazine, Culture11 went out of business today. I have done some work with C11 before and was actually in the midst of touching up another submission, when a friend sent me a text message informing me that the site would soon be no more.

For conservatives of all stripes this is a serious blow. There are a very small number of outlets for young writers these days and C11 was something of a depot for a variety of rightists. Though the nature of much of the writing there was not something I found particularly interesting, the wide scope of opinion made it a truly unique place. It is hard to imagine it being replicated anytime soon.

The question of how a site that was rumored to have funds extending well into 2010 could fold so abruptly is one I can not answer. No doubt others will speculate, but for now I just hope all those affiliated (many of whom took great personal risks) can land on their feet.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kauffman on Vonnegut

I've always found Kurt Vonnegut the man, more interesting than Kurt Vonnegut the writer. Bill Kauffman's new essay for First Principles does little to change this.

Of course I do not mean that as a knock on Mr. Kauffman or Mr. Vonnegut. Quite to the contrary. In fact Kauffman does an excellent job showcasing the relevance of Vonnegut the character, even as he seems somewhat unsure of Vonnegut the novelist. It is nice to know that I am not alone in this assessment.

I remember reading Slapstick and Slaughter-House Five years ago and thinking they were perfectly suitable books, with wildly inflated reputations. That said, if a writer is to have an inflated reputation, I prefer it be one who abhors militarism and understands the importance of family and tradition. Socialist or not, I'd take a thousand Vonnegut's over one Phillip Roth, and on scale it is probably a good thing that young, angsty teens, still stumble into Barnes & Noble looking to pick up his books, even if they don't pay nearly as much attention to the far more interesting atheistic, cynic, Gore Vidal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Satan needs a blanket

Has hell frozen over?

I don't know but in post-inaguration coverage today Pat Buchanan referred to the rhetoric of Barrack Obama as more "Old Right" than "neoconservative."

One can only hope Pat. One can only hope.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No Defense

I'm quickly growing tired of paleocons and phony traditionalists couching their support for Israel's latest military misadventure in the sort of "defense of the West" rhetoric that is the fail safe of all justification-seeking imperialists.

Let's get real people.

Israel owes it's existence to the very worst expression of globalism on the face of the Earth, the United Nations. As is the case with most internationalist assaults on common sense, the UN giving birth to the state of Israel, has harmed exactly those people it was intended to help. In seeking to give the Jews a state of their own so that the unspeakable "it" would "never again" happen, the one-worlders planted an ethnically nationalist state in the middle of the Arab World and filled it with regional minorities. Given these realities about the origins of Israel, it seems far more honest to note that the state of European Jews on the Arabian Peninsula, is in fact a case of Western offense and incursion. You would think those folks most opposed to massive social engineering programs would be critical of such nonsense, but evidently that sort of consistency is too much to ask for these days.

"Defending" an artificial Western entity like the State of Israel should be of little concern to paleocons or traditionalists. It is high time the Israeli's justify their own existence and Americans start acting in our national interests. No more foreign aid, no more weapons, no more military pacts. If Israelis want to be covered by "Western" security pacts, move back to the West, or start lobbying for statehood.

The GOP: More Marx than Marx

Today I overheard a conversation at work between two hyper-partisan Republicans. Not surprisingly the tone of the conversation was the typical doom and gloom, "the Democrats are coming!," rhetoric one has come to expect from the Fox News-fed, Coulterites that make up much of the Republican base at this point. What was a bit different about this particular conversation was the casual nature in which the term "socialism" was tossed around and the ultimate conclusion reached by one of the gentleman who felt the need to note that Obama for all of his faults "wasn't a Socialist Party member like Bernie Sanders."

Of course Bernie Sanders is not a member of the Socialist Party either, but what was interesting about this outburst, was the amusing possibility that the Socialist Party is arguably more conservative than the GOP.

Don't believe me?

In 2004 the Socialist nominated, former Oregon State Legislature Walt Brown. Brown was a highly decorated military vet and lifelong pro-lifer. In keeping with recent Socialist Party tradition, Brown ran on a platform that called for a massive reduction in military spending and overseas commitments, the immediate withdrawal from NAFTA, IMF, and NATO and the abolition of the federal government sewage pit known as NASA.

The 2008 nominee Brian Moore, did not have the personal conservative traits one could find in Brown, but he ran on a similar platform.

Those quick to point to the SP's position on taxation and social engineering programs might want to look a little closer. In reality, even if one adjusts for the more deluded big government fantasies of the SP and its small coterie of followers, it would be difficult to argue that their welfare statism is any more or less attached to conservatism than the military statism of the modern GOP, and it is far less likely to endanger the lives of the average citizen.

Whatever the faults of Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas may have been, both were men of towering intellects, local attachments and deeply committed to the notion that American interventionism was a serious detriment to life and liberty at home and abroad. Brian Moore, may not be as likable as the America First Committee approved Thomas- and he's certainly not as good a candidate for conservatives as were Chuck Baldwin and Ralph Nader- but it's hard to argue that America's ability to thwart the Socialist Party from being a major electoral threat has been a serious victory for American Conservatives.

From the party of Taft, to the party of government larger and more internationalist in character than the Socialists. And they say the Democrats have a monopoly on change...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Paleos and The Peculiar Institution

Kevin Gutzman's latest at TakiMag, features a somewhat unusual split in the Rockwellian ranks. The issues at stake are primarily related to the tone and function of history and will be largely uninteresting to most people.

Having said that, Mr. Gutzman does briefly touch on an important error that many paleoconservative historians and sympathetics have made. To be specific, Gutzman notes:

There have been a few critical accounts of Lincoln by hardy souls—certainly not untenured professors—in recent years. Charles Adams and, most notably, Thomas J. DiLorenzo have attracted attention with substantial criticisms. In general, DiLorenzo’s best-selling Lincoln books are mirror images of the run-of-the-mill; for example, where leading lights of Lincoln scholarship believe that Lincoln can do no wrong, DiLorenzo insists that American slavery would have ended peacefully soon after 1861 even in the absence of Lincoln’s efforts.

I know of no reason to believe that, and good reason to disbelieve it. American slaves reached their highest value ever in 1860. They had been appreciating for years. Their value helps to explain southern touchiness about the future of slavery in the Union.
But that does not mean that DiLorenzo’s criticisms are all ill-founded. And what DiLorenzo calls “the Lincoln cult,” centered in Claremont, California, among the students and other acolytes of Harry V. Jaffa, has fired back.

In my assessment Gutzman is a hundred percent correct regarding the issue of slavery. There is absolutely no evidence to support the argument that slavery was on the way out prior to the “Civil War” and a great deal of evidence to suggest that slavery was more entrenched than ever. One can say whatever they want about slavery withering away elsewhere, but in no other nation was the “peculiar institution” expanding at the clip it was in the United States. In fact, it is not unimaginable that some form of forced servitude could have gone on into the early part of the 20th Century, as evidenced by the course taken in Brazil.

It seems to me that arguments about the inevitable end of slavery presume that the planter class would have quickly discovered the economic inefficiencies involved in such a system and moved on to the wage model prevalent in the industrial North a the time. This sort of viewpoint is wishful thinking at best, and ignores the harsh, but very real moral problems associated with racial politics in antebellum America.

None of this should be read as an endorsement of the "Civil War." In fact it is my opinion that Northern abolitionists had it right back in the early 1830's when they seriously considered secession, primarily because it would end their responsibility to adhere to the Fugitive Slave Laws. Such a strategy, combined with an outbreak of slave rebellions in the South, would have saved thousands of lives and kept government reasonably decentralized. As it was we got the worst of both worlds.

I have said it before and will say it again. There was no just "side" in the "Civil War." Only just causes.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More on McGovern/What About The Neocons?

At the American Conservative blog, Dan McCarthy has responded to the arguments made by Paul Gottfried and myself relating to his TAC piece on George McGovern. As usual Dan offers much food for thought, expanding on the New Right/paleo connection I briefly made in my initial post and digging into the neocon angle as well.

The always interesting, paleoconservative writer, Sean Scallon has also entered the fray and made the following point in response to Dan's blog entry:

....Gottfried’s wrong about the communist angle and insultingly so. It’s true McGovern originally supported Henry Wallace and attended the Progressive Party convention of 1948. But what he doesn’t tell you is that McGovern switched his support to Truman when he realized the Stalinists were in control of the Progressive Party. If CREEP hacks didn’t think it was a big deal I don’t see why Gottfried does. Besides, if you use Gottfried’s logic then Murray Rothbard was a commie, everyone at LRC is a commie, and one could say Ron Paul is a commie too. In fact such crap has been said by the necons all last year.

And so long as we’re talking Commies here, why are we letting the neocons off the hook? Does Gottfried not remember than many of their number belonged to socialist political parties and groups? Did they get off easy because they were Trotskyests instead of Stalinists? Trotsky was a murderer too and had none of Stalin’s Russian patriotism. Why shouldn’t all of the gang at Alcove 6 at CCNY have gone in front of Sen. McCarthy’s committee and answered if THEY were members of the Communist Party? Hmmm? I sure we would have gotten some interesting answers from messrs. Kristol and Podheretz.

Of course the issue of why and how the neocons managed to crawl into the cracks of the conservative movement is a long debated issue that Prof. Gottfried himself has spent much of his time on over the years. I myself have discussed it some in the past, but Mr. Scallon's post was the perfect chance for me to expand on the subject a bit. Below is the response I posted to Sean and Dan at the TAC blog, which I expect may result in some unkind emails from those unable to discern the difference between criticism and contempt:

The neocons got off easy and snuck into the conservative movement because they shared the perspective of folks like Prof. Gottfried.

While it is true that there were large gaps between the New Right and the Neocons, both groups tended to view things through the prism of anti-communism and cultural liberalism. Much is made by paleoconservatives today about the "liberalism" of the neocons, but at the time of their ascension they were seen as allies because they were intellectuals, with interests in the hard sciences (interests that by their own account paleos did not have), who were openly opposed to the Great Society, Affirmative Action, et. To be more specific, the neoconservatives were opposed to the statist trends of the "Civil Rights Movement," which was to a large extent the primary enemy of the New Right.

The error made by the paleos/New Right was in assuming that eggheads of any variety were the friends of liberty or decentralized government.

Anyone with a passing interest in the work of Irving Kristol would know that he was an advocate of Universal Health Care, Social Security, expanded public education, and some sort of guaranteed annual income/family wage package. Kristol's gripe was not with the size or scope of government, but rather with government action that favored one group over the other for reasons of ethnic or gender identity alone. To Kristol social democracy was for everyone and "national greatness" was to be all inclusive.

On the other end of the neocon spectrum, the Commentary crowd was primarily opposed to this "second wave civil rights movement" for reasons that dare not be discussed without the charge of anti-semitism flowing freely (and needlessly). I will merely say that American blacks were not the preferred "victim" group with the Podhoretz clan, and leave it at that.

By focusing on decentralism rather than anti-communism, and community autonomy instead of cultural liberalism, the Ron Paul kids and their fellow travelers are promoting a much more "inclusive" form of anti-progressive politics. Though the paleoconservatives of old were right on most of the particulars, they were starting from a reference point that was a dead end and allowed for easy neocon takeover.

I don't blame the paleos for trying to make allies and build a coalition. That is the nature of politics. I do blame them for being hopelessly naive, and at times so dangerously preoccupied with certain ethnic dynamics, as to allow the worst of the worst within the "conservative umbrella."

Traditionalist conservatives and libertarians need not make enemies with a left that is increasingly allied with them on the most crucial issues of the day. An "alternative right" that has room for welfare statist "libertarians" like Charles Murray, or Israel-first White Nationalists like Larry Auster, ought not be shutting its doors to George McGovern, Ralph Nader, Gore Vidal or Robert should be embracing them.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

McGovern and The Right

Over at TakiMag, Paul Gottfried has a column criticizing Dan McCarthy's latest American Conservative essay, where McCarthy discusses the GOP's obsession with George McGovern, while painting a moderately sympathetic portrait of the former South Dakota Senator. Both pieces are well worth reading, not only because of the quality of the writing, but also because they illustrate the widening generational gap on the Alternative Right.

It was Prof. Gottfried himself who first alluded to this gap on the modern right in his essay on the "death of Paleoconservatism" entitled "A Paleo Epitaph." In that essay, Gottfried argued that the paleoconservatives were an outgrowth of sorts from a "movement conservatism" which is largely irrelevant to younger conservatives who have never had a home at National Review or seen a serious threat in the Soviet Union. Gottfried also correctly notes that these "post-paleo" youths are more libertarian than traditionalist and more "Old Right" of Nock and Mencken, than "New Right" of Weyrich and Viguerie.

While one can quibble with certain aspects of Gottfried's argument, the basic points are solid. As a matter of priority the new generation of "Alternative" righties are decentralists and anti-imperialists first, and culture warriors second, if at all. To them the warfare state and erosion of civil liberties are vastly more important and relevant than the overturning of Roe v. Wade or the supposed "threat" of gay marriage. Furthermore, the primary cultural issue of interest to them is probably the decriminalization of marijuana, an issue where the paleo-friendly New Right of the 80's would have been unsympathetic at best.

In their respective takes on the former Senator from South Dakota, Gottfried and McCarthy are showcasing these differences in priorities, goals and influences that are currently playing out in the various disputes littering the conservative underground.

To McCarthy and the younger generation, the imperfect McGovern was at minimum a committed opponent to a horrific, unjust war. Though Gottfried seems unimpressed by his small town patriotism and dutiful military service, this sort of "real" background is a stark contrast to that of his 1972 Presidential opponent Richard Nixon. I do not agree with Dan, that McGovern was a "committed decentralist," but he surely wasn't a paranoid military statist and "federal government firster" like President Nixon. In a comparison of their records at the time, McGovern appears to have more admirable traits for paleos and libertarians than least if one is viewing things from a post-Cold War perspective.

Gottfried of course does not share that perspective. He views McGovern primarily through the prism of anti-communism and cultural liberalism. By casting McGovern as a symp for Soviet tyranny and an identity politics vanguardist, Gottfried is placing McGovern squarely within the tradition of Henry Wallace and other left-liberal useful idiots.

To Gottfried's generation the left will always be identified by these associations (assumed or otherwise) and the assumption is that their representatives are all agents of these causes. The Soviet Union may be dead by socialist ideology is not, and the usefulness of the label is good fodder to attack political figures like Barack Obama, who of course is significantly less "socialist" than much of the allegedly "conservative" party. Likewise Obama must be a "black nationalist" merely because he is black and nominally on the left. Considerations of how his policy proposals compare to figures like Marcus Garvey are never made. Furthermore there is never any discussion of why "black nationalism" is to remain a hated enemy, while "white nationalism" is at worst an exaggerated response to authentic grievances.

By breaking out of the Cold War prison, the youthful adherents to the cause of limited government and personal liberty are indeed more "libertarian" as Gottfried notes. What's odd is that they also appear to be more Kirkian.

To Russell Kirk conservatism was about protecting particulars, respecting localities, and most of all rejecting ideology. Though it is true that Prof. Gottfried and others of his generation are not wedded to the materialist philosophies of either the socialist left or the libertarian right, they are in fact wedded to a myopic political worldview that defines the left as an "enemy" regardless of the practical considerations of the moment. To decentralist conservatives my age, Obama isn't an enemy because he's a Marxist (he isn't). He's an enemy because he's a corporate liberal, and corporate liberalism is the sworn enemy of all things particular and all things local. That there is a growing segment of the American Left coming to similar conclusions should not be considered threatening, but rather a cause for excitement.

Though they share much in common, there are noticeable differences between the Ron Paul Revolutionaries and Buchanan Brigadiers. One can only hope those differences do not become senselessly magnified over time.

In the meantime conservatives all stripes would be better served to reconsider whether or not the "Silent Majority" of Nixon got it wrong and if so, how to avoid such errors in judgment from repeating themselves.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Israel and Ron Paul

Press TV: There has been a lot of speculation that Israel may act on its own and conduct an independent air strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Do you think that’s possible?

Paul: I don’t think there is such a thing as an independent Israel doing anything, because I think no matter what they do it’s our money, it’s our weapons, and they’re not going to do it without us approving it and if they get into trouble we’re going to bail them out, so there is no separation between the two.

I grabbed this excerpt from the new (and excellent) Young Americans For Liberty blog.

Though comments like these would be seen as impolite at worst in any other context, the state of Israel was discussed semi-critically, so one can be sure that Congressman Paul will be accused of "anti-semitism" yet again. The "misuse and abuse" of that term has a long history in American political life, but attaching it to the name of Ron Paul is nothing short of a disgrace.

For years now there have been conflicting views on Israel, with one group arguing that Israel and it's lobby wields an undue influence over U.S. policy in the Middle East and the other side arguing that the tiny Jewish state is essentialy the latest colonial outpost in the American Empire. The truth of that matter is that both are technically correct, with the point expressed by Congressman Paul being the particularly important one. Though the Israel lobby does in fact wield disproportionate influence in Washington, Israel itself is a state entirely beholden to U.S. money and power politics for its survival.

As someone generally predisposed to the notion that states don't have any rights and international institutions are criminal cartels, it is especially annoying to me to see a country of sixty years, that owes its existence to the UN, constantly invoking its "right to exist" as a welfare dependent of American taxpayers. The unwillingness of America's political class to cut off the spigots is partially related to campaign contributions, partially related to our hyper-PC culture of victimization, and partially related to cultural and religious identity politics. Still, regardless of why it happens, this endless flow of weapons and money is the reason Israel survives.

Ron Paul is correct. Israel is not an independent nation and ultimately this is to the detriment of its citizens. If Israel cannot protect itself or its people it ought not exist. The same can (and should) be said of any other country on the planet.

Back in 1981 when the Israeli's attacked a nuclear reactor in Iraq nearly every member of the U.S. legislative branch condemned the assault. Not Ron Paul. In fact he took the floor to defend Israel's right to act independently in the arena of foreign policy.

Leftists might point to this as evidence that Paul has flip-flopped on interventionism and preemption; they would be wrong. The lessons then are the same as they are now. To the Israeli's, sink or swim. To the US, "America First, Second and Third."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reason and Ron Paul Round 2 (or 3 or 4 or..?)

I'm reposting this old link dealing with newslettergate and Reason magazines PC thought policing as the issue has resurfaced over at TAC and the TakiMag blog.

If anything, the things I said back then have become more and more obvious as time has gone on.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Tale of Two Giants

Paul Weyrich died a few days ago, the second giant of American Conservatism to perish this year. Like Bill Buckley before him, Weyrich managed to maintain something of a balancing act between the principled conservatism of the heart and the "pragmatic" conservatism of the political mind. Unlike Bill Buckley however, Weyrich seemed to maintain close ties to the "Alternative Right" and was never easily shamed by the multiculturalist and PC-maniacs of the corporate liberal establishment.

Where Buckley was ultimately mau-maued into status quoism, Weyrich ended up an outsider within the movement he largely founded, advocating a prudent policy of cultural secession as the most reasonable approach for post-Cold War traditionalists to take in the uber-pornographic, consumerist empire that America had become. In a way it is sad that Weyrich will be remembered mostly for coining the term "Moral Majority" and launching the now abysmal Heritage Foundation. Buckley being remembered largely as the founder of the now thoroughly uninteresting National Review on the other hand, seems entirely appropriate.

Buckley ultimately came out against the misadventure in Iraq, and advocated drug decriminalization from the pages of National Review, but by the end he had come to symbolize a mainstreaming of militarism and me-tooism on American Exceptionalism that ultimately would bury the American Right. Weyrich may have senselessly endorsed Mitt Romney, but one never got the feeling that Weyrich was bought and paid for or advocating for a cause to maintain certain appearances. Where Buckley was an elitist masquerading as an aristocrat, Weyrich was a somewhat uncomfortable aristocrat forced into the clutches of elitism in order to keep a spot at the table he helped to set.

Unlike many who have eulogized him, I never met Mr. Weyrich and the institutions and causes he helped found had little direct influence on me. My path to conservatism has been very different from the majority of long time movement figures and my cultural outlook is quite different from that of the average man of the right. Still one can not help but salute a brave soul, who lived and operated in the belly of the beast, without ever totally succumbing to the temptations of the dark side.

By all accounts and all evidence, Paul Weyrich was a moral man, of great integrity. His instincts seem to have been nearly always "Right" in every sense of the term, even as his application of those instincts could occasionally wonder too far from the yard for my comfort. One does not have to agree with every political or social stand a man took, to come to the conclusion that the World or a cause may suffer from his loss.

In an era of potential realignment for the American Right, an elder statesman like Paul Weyrich would have been a wonderful asset. Alas, it was not to be.

RIP Mr. Weyrich.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A brief note on the evil of the neocons

Watching the replay of Harball tonight and seeing the truly contemptible neocon nutcase Frank Gaffney tell Chris Matthews "Americans had to die" because Saddam "gassed his own people" was a brief reminder that as bad as the liberal internationalist are likely to be, they cannot possibly be as bad the neocons.

I am not an egalitarian by nature or upbringing. Though I was raised on the Left, I have always been suspicious of the "you can be whatever you want to be" rhetoric that litters the American public education system courtesy of PC liberalism. That said the pie-in-the-sky utopianism of the American yuppie class does not allow for the level of callousness toward authentic human suffering shown by the Gaffney and his gang of imbeciles. Yes the urge for "humanitarian intervention" will be there and we must all fight against it. But I for one am glad that true evil was rejected by Americans, even if it was traded in for overwhelming idiocy and myopic feel-goodism.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gene Not Joe

Justin Raimondo has an interesting article up on McCarthyism and what the phenonomon really represented. I can't say I disagree with the crux of Justin's argument, and in fact Murray Rothbard himself made it many years ago. Still there was a lot of bad that came from the office of Joe and Eugene remains my favorite Midwestern Senator with the last name McCarthy.

The worst part thing about McCarthy was that he became the first in a long line of militaristic populist ideologues. Considering the fact that he took the mantle from the La Folletes and ran in the opposite direction (toward centralization), I think his presence should be seen as a “net loss.” The rise of McCarthy, the death of Robert Taft, and the disappearance of the Bricker Amendment from the conservative political agenda were really the major policy/political turning points of the takeover of the American Right. That so much importance has been attributed to the Cold War obsessed attitudes of the National Review crowd is not surprising, but it is very myopic. If anything NR simply tried to latch itself onto the populist themes of McCarthyism, while playing the “aristocratic” card needed to satisfy the elites that were ultimately as uncomfortable with “tailgunner Joe’s” tactics as they were with the commies.

It has always been of interest to me that post-war thinkers like Kirk and Weaver, traditionalist to their core, could have ever found an audience during this period.

I am aware of the criticisms the Rockwellians have of Kirk and I myself think Kirk’s conservative canon is a bit too broad (though the principles of Kirk are nearly perfect in expressions of paleoism in my view). Still, it is almost unimaginable that a man who loathed the automobile, voted for the America Firster Norman Thomas, and was above all else a Midwestern localist of the old school, could have ever found an audience amidst the nationalist fever of Cold War conservatism.

Weaver is even more puzzling. Yes he was a Lincoln cultist, but Weaver was arguably the most overtly radical political theorist of the period. Reading Weaver on specialization and categorization, one sees the seeds of anarcho-primitivism. Having just finished John Zerzan’s new book, I was reminded yet again that while Weaver was a civilizationist to the extreme, and Zerzan is the leader of the anti-civilization vanguard, the luddism and contempt for rationality found in both writers is nearly identical in tone and depth. Again, it is amazing that NR could have blossomed from an intellectual foundation so overt in its opposition to planning and management mindsets. It is even more amazing that Joe McCarthy could be seen as the most potent representative of the “movement.”

I understand the Rothbardian argument for McCarthy, and I myself apply similar logic toward fair taxers on the modern right, and Naderites on the modern left. What I can not understand, and likely never will, is how McCarthy and co. came to represent a right that’s tradition and culture have more in common with Gene, than Joe.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The newest issue of The American Conservative magazine, has an essay of mine on William Appleman Williams and Gabriel Kolko. If you sign up for a free trial subscription, you can read it in PDF online.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mike Paul v. Ron Paul via Pat Buchanan

This is a truly bizarre exchange.

Mike Paul says the GOP needs to reach out to minorities and listen to young, fresh ideas. Since the only young people with any sort of energy and fresh ideas in this years Republican race were the Ron Paul supporters one assume Mike would be on board for Gary Johnson in 2012. After all the former New Mexico Governor has been an advocate of drug decriminalization for years, which is one of the three or four biggest issues facing many young people and minorities in America today.

Instead Mike Paul is simply spitting out empty platitudes aimed at shutting down any "traditionalist" takeover. You see in the eyes of Mike Paul, David Brooks, and friends, these "traditionalists" are somehow most strongly represented in the person of Sean Hannity, a New Yorker, with a transparently phony interest in country music, and a look (and attitude) strikingly similar to an anti-hero in a Bret Ellis novel. Since those scary, nominally Christian folks are too dangerous to allow at the helm of the party, weirdos that believe in things like the gold standard or getting rid of federal departments, like Ron Paul, should have no say in the direction of the party post-blowout 08. After all, when the good doctor goes to Manhattan he's signing books for the plebes, not having cocktails with Maureen Dowd.

In fact the only thing worse to the neocons and Wall Street-firsters than Ron Paul and his supporters, might be Patrick J. Buchanan, who seems to offend Mike Paul in the clip above by asking him to "examine himself," a suggestion Mike ought to take to heart. Pat has been right about virtually every major issue facing the nation over the last fifteen years, and his call to bring the party back toward its conservative base makes more sense than the "big tent" strategy of trying to out liberal the liberals.

If the GOP cares about staying alive, not only should they listen to Mr. Buchanan, they should take a look at the recent history of their Democratic opponents.

The Democratic tide that has swept the country in the last two elections, has a lot to do with the fact that rank-and-file Dems had buyers remorse after the Kerry campaign, and put the 04 netroots Messiah, Howad Dean, at the front of their party. Dean had the good sense to run a fifty state strategy, that actually molded the parties branding to the whims, wants and needs of voters in each individual county. This is why Democrats likes Heath Shuler and Jon Tester got elected in the supposedly "liberal" party. Dean and the Dems understand the populist appeals that can be made to their base and use them effectively. That these appeals are sometimes dangerously statists, does not make them any less real or tangible.

The mess that is the GOP will likely leave the actual traditionalist right with some opportunities, but I have my doubts precisely because of squabbles like the one represented in the video above. Buchanan was right on every pressing issue of our time and he is still treated as if he is an aloof old man by those in the party who have the money, media monopoly and institutions in their grasp.

The Deanics seized control of a party that was running against the evil "other" and defined themselves as the anti-war party, of working class Bush victims. The Republicans refuse to allow anti-war officials to even have a voice, and are too busy bailing out Wall Street to care about Main Street.

The Democrats listened to their youth movement, followed the internet phenom, and created their own institutions, media personalities and political language from that framework. Insurgents in the GOP will be fighting against Brent Bozell, Tony Perkins and Fox News, as much or more than they are fighting against the remnants of the Bush Administration.

There isn't a vacuum in the GOP right now, there are a bunch of power mongers looking to take the whole table for themselves without offering any one else, ESPECIALLY the populists, a seat.

Which raises the question; why not make our own table?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama's Victory is the Best Thing for Conservatives

By Daniel Bein

Chuck Baldwin has a great article up at Renew America in which he argues that it was not Barack Obama who destroyed conservatism, but John McCain and George W. Bush. Baldwin couldn't be more right, and conservatives who thought a McCain victory would be preferable to an Obama couldn't have been more wrong. I understand the argument that Obama having a Democratic congress being bad news, but that simply is not enough to justify the quintessential neocon becoming George W. Bush's successor. This would have validated everything the neocons have done and given them the seal of approval of the American people.

As Baldwin points out, it was Bush and McCain who damaged the term "conservative" beyond repair-- they have destroyed it. Unfortunately those who wish to preserve the term as something to describe the small-government conservatism of men like Russel Kirk and Robert Taft will be fighting a losing battle.

This is not the work of men like Obama, who will deliver on their promises to enlarge government overseas and at home. This is the legacy of Bush and McCain, who have posed as small government conservatives, and all the while have done nothing but enlarge government and speed the conversion of the American Republic to the (already crumbling) American Empire. All who call themselves conservatives, but supported Bush even after the disastrous nature of his inventions became apparent share the blame. No matter how liberal Obama is, it is not he who is guilty of such treachery, and he is not the one who dealt the death blow.

With all the damage that Bush, McCain and the rest of the neocons have done to American conservatism and American prosperity, we should be thankful that Obama defeated McCain. A McCain victory would have rewarded the ego driven stupidity of the neoconservatives and given them the go ahead to continue destroying what better men have sought to build. Instead Barack Obama's win has repudiate the villains who so richly deserved it. Now conservatives are at a crossroads. Perhaps this is an opportunity for Ron Paul Republicans to take over the party- or perhaps, as Baldwin suggests, it is time for something new to emerge.

With the Republican party ripe for a take-over, perhaps the Democrats will be next. They were elected in 2006 to end the war, and didn't. They have won the presidency and a majority in both houses for the same reason, and once again they will not end the wars they were elected to end. Perhaps this will erode confidence in the Democratic Party as the saviors of America to the point that a Republican party firmly planted on the small government/anti war right will be able to oust them. Or perhaps the Democrats can be taken over by their populist wing. (I can see how this point contradicts my previous posts-- perhaps my predictions are all a bit premature, as I'm already altering them).

Hopefully, the election of Barack Obama will expose the Democratic wing of the war party for what they truly are the way Bush exposed the Republicans. Either way, it has stopped the scoundrels who killed conservatism from picking the pockets of its corpse.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Emerging Cult of Obama

By Daniel Bein

I looks like I was right about the absolute elation most of my peers here in Charleston expressed when Obama was made President Elect. There were cheers, shouts and even tears as he gave his acceptance speech. There were parties at the bars downtown (I received a free glass of Champaign as I walked into one) and I couldn't walk down the street without hearing shouts of "Obama". Strangers patted me on the back and shook my hand, assuming that I was just as happy as they were, due to my age and my presence in the bar where 99% of the people were ecstatic over Obama's victory.

I must admit, I did feel a great surge of relief as the fear of another four years of Bush (under McCain) was put to rest. But it quickly faded as I realized that my prediction from November third may be all too true. From what I saw last night, Obama is going to get a free pass from most of the young people in America who hated Bush so viscerally.

Obama's speech sounded great. But will his deeds match his words? He said that government wasn't the solution to every problem, and that he would listen to those who disagreed with him. And I do believe that unlike Bush, Obama is a man who can be reasoned with and will not be completely unreachable once his mind is made up. But from the looks of it, Obama is gearing up to launch a new era of big government solutions that are going to cost billions, he also supported the vile Wall Street bailout that most Americans found abhorrent.

While it's true that Obama is no Bush, he's also no Ron Paul, and he's no Nader or Kucinich. He is not a peace candidate. He has been sliding closer and closer to the center when it comes to war and has pledged allegiance to AIPAC, has vowed that no option is off the table when it comes to Iran, and has informed us that he will pull the troops from Iraq, only to ship many of them to Afghanistan and possibly engage in military activities in Pakistan. In fact, the good Senator is even more hawkish on Pakistan than the hawk of hawks, John McCain.

So while this is a turning point and the end of a disgusting period in American politics, it is only the beginning of a new administration that is no less beholden to corporate greed, powerful special interest groups and the ideology of interventionism that has been slowly pushing America toward the edge since World War I. Is Obama better than Bush and McCain? You bet. But if we go by what the man has told us, he is not going to bring peace to the Middle East or curb the expansion of empire and runaway government.

Last night I had dream about Obama. In the dream and he was doing some sort of Q and A session that I had access to for some reason. I tried to ask him about foreign interventions and to plead the case for reconsidering further military action in the Middle East, but he wouldn't take my question. He seemed evasive. He spoke to me, but wouldn't let me get to the question. In the dream he seemed like a really good guy, but was unwilling to reconsider his position. I fear this may be the case in reality.

The youth have been the most vocal opponents of Bush's disastrous policies. There energy and enthusiasm is needed now more than ever. Will their anger now fade, converting the anti-Bush masses into the Cult of Obama?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Misplaced Priorities

A quicky cartoon whipped up by yours truly.

Obama and the Return of Apathy

By Daniel Bein

Lately there has been much debate as to which presidential candidate is the "lesser of two evils". Many on the paleo right claim that McCain is more desirable. To these folks Obama is a bogey man; a mysterious black nationalist with questionable associations, who, along with his democratic majority, will impose a socialistic new wold order on a vulnerable American public. Others argue (and I am among them) that McCain is the more repugnant of the two due to his role as neocon poster child, war monger extraordinaire, and emotionally unstable egomaniac. McCain is also no less of a socialist than Obama, since it was he who fought hardest for one the most massive socialistic swindles of all time, the Wall Street Bailout. Is not picking the pockets of American workers and giving the proceeds to corporate robber barons a clear example of "wealth redistribution"?

While I won't be voting for either mainstream candidate, I will be less horrified to see an Obama victory than to see the neocons cemented in place for four more years. That being said, I am left with one nagging fear should Obama prevail: the end of dissatisfaction with the executive and anti-war sentiment among 18-35 year olds. With Obama in the White House most of these young people will assume that the Candidate of Change will fix all of their woes. If he's true to his word he will pull the troops from Iraq and say the necessary things about defending a woman's right to choose and other social issues, and that will be enough for most of the people who are supporting him now.

Like Clinton, the liberal minded youth will love Obama. And like Clinton in Bosnia, most won't bat an eyelash over his disastrous foreign interventions. There won't be massive protests when he gets us bogged down in an even more disastrous situation in Afghanistan, and possibly Pakistan as he has pledged to do. The anger will fade when the perceived villains are no longer in office. This will be a sad testament to the fact that most people will ignore the degradation of our currency, a sinking economy and the spread of empire as long as the man in the White House agrees with them on their pet social issues.

When Obama most likely wins the White House tomorrow, there will be much celebration. Most of the people I know who are around my age will be ecstatic. They are going to go out and rock the vote, then celebrate like mad when Obama is chosen to succeed George W. Bush, who most of them consider to be the worst president of all time. I can relate, as I too won't be able to resist a slight sense of elation at bidding good riddance to that bad rubbish.

But there is not doubt that when Bush is out, apathy will set in. And without the energy of the young, we will be worse off in the fight against government excess. This is not enough to justify four more years of neocon rule under McCain, but it is still a frightening prospect. It's always easier to find allies when there's an easily recognizable villain to face. With Obama, they won't see the train coming until it's on top of them. The most dangerous bad guys don't always stroke their mustaches while tying you to the tracks, they smile to your face, then stab you in the back.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bill Kauffman endorses Nader

Chalk another paleoish, decentralist, vote up for Nader.

1. Who are you voting for in November and why? Ralph Nader, because I never got the chance to vote for Gene Debs or Norman Thomas.

Before any opponents of the "red menace" pop up to condemn that sort of language, remember that the father of American Conservatism, Russell Kirk, voted for Socialist Norman Thomas and it was our greatest (and last conservative) President, Warren Harding, who pardoned the anti-war thought criminal and bane of the Wilson administration, Eugene Debs.

Also worth noting, in 2004 I didn't vote, but my wife cast her lot with the Socialist Party candidate Walt Brown, possibly the only pro-life, military veteran (of three wars), with years of state legislature experience to run on an anti-NASA plank. Who can find fault with that? Certainly not those "holding their nose" to vote for McWar.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ralph Nader: The Left Conservative choice.

By Daniel Bein

During the 2008 election season I have often found myself fantasizing about a world in which the 2008 Presidential race is a heated contest between front runners Chuck Baldwin and Ralph Nader. If this pleasant fiction were instead reality, I could scarcely complain if either man took the White House. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and we are instead left with the same old choice between two utterly disastrous candidates.

John McCain, the hawk of all hawks, is easily the more revolting of the two, and despite Obama's liberalism and undying devotion to the big government war machine, he is far less dangerous than McCain. Even with a Democratic congress at his beck and call, Obama is not a neoconservative, and it is precisely this group (for which John McCain is the poster child) that must never be allowed to inhabit the White House again. McCain is also a narcissistic hot head who shouldn't be allowed to make decisions which effect the lives of millions.

So the principled voter is left with three choices: third party candidates, a write in which may or may not count, or abstaining. I will be at the polls on the fourth and will not refrain from casting a vote against the abysmal two party system, so abstaining is not an option. And since South Carolina doesn't count write ins, I won't make what would otherwise be the most satisfying choice and write in Ron Paul. So my only option is to choose the best third party candidate.

Bob Barr and Cynthia McKinney can be dismissed straight away. McKinney is wrong on far too much and Barr is both an egomaniac (and potential Republican mole) who has had an overwhelmingly negative effect on the Libertarian Pary. By selling out to him the Libertarians have ruined their chances of becoming a vehicle for the liberty movement that Ron Paul launched with his insurgent campaign for the Republican nomination.

So that leaves Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin and independent candidate Ralph Nader. A friend of mine has argued that principled conservatives should vote for Chuck Baldwin and principled leftists for Ralph Nader. While I agree with this logic, as a self professed "left conservative", I like aspects of both men and have had a very hard time choosing between them. Chuck Baldwin is right on the majority of the issues, and his commitment to small government is more to my liking that Nader's affinity for government solutions such as universal health care, whereas on social issues I lean towards Nader and am not a fan of Baldwin's fundamentalism. But Baldwin's decentralism almost negates this, and the decision remains difficult even after weighing the pros and cons.

So I must agree with Dylan that since Nader has access to more ballots (and with Justin Raimondo that he is the most vocal opponent of tyranny and empire in the race), a vote for Nader is the best way to make a statement against the American military-industrial empire. For this reason Nader just barely edges out Chuck Baldwin for me. In a saner world, where one of these two men had a chance of winning, I would not be unhappy with either. Both would be a good choice for those committed to sending the message that empire and excess will not be tolerated.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fleming on McCain

"a sick and evil man, whose only virtue is the fact that he served his country in a stupid pointless war."

Thomas Fleming on John McCain via the Chronicles website.

Fleming suggests that Obama and his supporters are intolerable and worse than McCain as well. I'm inclined to agree that Obama's supporters are intolerable, but the evidence that Obama will be worse than McCain is speculative at best. Still that quote is as strong an anti-McCain sentiment as I can remember seeing.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Libertarians for Nader

Justin Raimondo with a much more detailed endorsement of Nader than I offered.

Of course Justin made the same choice in 2004, an election I sat out of.

It turns out Joshua Snyder of The Western Confucian voted for Nader as well for circumstantial reasons (though as he notes it was hardly a qualified choice on his part).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ralph Nader For President

One year ago the political prospects for left conservatives looked great. The vast majority of the country had turned against our disastrous occupation of Iraq. Americans from all over the political spectrum were enraged at the jackbooted federal police raids on private consumers of medical marijuana and the Supreme Court's corporate welfare seal of approval via the Kelo decision. Discontent with illegal wiretapping and warrant less searches were on the rise and working class Americans were openly contemptuous of "free trade agreements," and other sovereignty busting, international institutions. Best of all those folks concerned about all of these issues had a real candidate, in a real party, with a real chance of building a movement around the principles of limited government, decentralized power, and individual liberty.

As I have said before the success of Ron Paul's campaign had less to do with any money bomb or internet trends than it had to do with with the fact that the Texas Congressmen represented REAL opposition. While the elite media and congressional pushovers rolled over and played dead for the neolibs and neocons, the average American was boiling over with rage at the cabal of power mongers and wealth addicts at the helm of the dying Republic. Dr. No gave a voice to this, the anti-political movement of all anti-political movements, and he took it as far as the duopoly would allow him to go.

Had Ron Paul chosen to run on a third party ticket, deciding who to vote for this year would be easy. There simply is no one like "Dr. No," for an anti-imperial, decentralist, voter.

But Dr. Paul did not run third party, and a man as unique as Ron Paul has no heir apparent. So what is a left conservative to do?

Some have argued for writing in Dr. Paul's name. I admit that I find this tempting. But the reality is that these votes will not be counted, nor will their impact be reported on by the media (assuming they have an impact at all). Furthermore the good doctor has gone out of his way to say he is not running at this point and I will respect his wishes.

Others have argued that we shouldn't vote as that non-act is the ultimate expression of discontent with our rigged system. Again I am somewhat sympathetic. But I will be at the polls pulling the lever for the very worthy Bob Conley in his U.S. Senate race against Lindsey Graham, and refusing to vote for President from inside the booth strikes me as contrarianism of the worst sort.

Of course I can not vote for either major party candidate. The Republicans have nominated a warmongering, military statist, with severe emotional problems. The Democrats have done no better, choosing a man without conviction, principle or even a passing sense of patriotism. That Obama is slightly preferable to McCain by virtue of his "moderation" is no reason to cast a vote for him. I cannot rubber stamp war for Darfur or government "growth for the sake of growth."

This leaves me with the "minors," of which four are serious candidates and only two are worth considering.

Cynthia McKinney and Bob Barr can be tossed on the woodpile almost immediately.

I am proud to say "I told you so" regarding Bob Barr. His coronation at the Libertarian National Convention was nothing short of a nightmare for champions of individual liberty or even for those looking for a serious alternative candidacy. Barr's campaign has been so poorly managed and so juvenile in its antics, that I must assume the intent all along was to sink the LP as a vehicle for disgruntled Paulites looking for a well organized Party to oppose McBama. That many of Barr's most outlandish statements took place shortly after the Palin VP choice was announced shouldn't be surprising. After all, Barr enthusiast and coup d'tet leader Richard Viguerie was mass emailing love letters to the GOP moments after the announcement. It is fair to assume the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, poisoned or not.

I actually rather like Cynthia McKinney, but I could never vote for her. Her quasi-black nationalism is definitely more attractive than the minstrel show version of Adlai Stevenson running on the Democratic ticket this year, but it's not the real thing either. Were she a Garveyite she would likely have my vote. Instead she thinks government is the solution to every problem and worries more about unprovable conspiracy theories than she does about getting her campaign visibility.

This leaves me with two choices. The man I voted for in 2000, Ralph Nader, and the man Ron Paul endorsed, Chuck Baldwin.

I will not make an argument against either man, though they surely do exist. There are no perfect candidates and flaws can be found with both to be sure. I am especially wary of certain fragments of the coalitions these men have built, but politics makes strange bedfellows and you must make allies where you can find them.

On the major issues it is a wash. Simply put I agree with both men more often than not, and where there are differences they are negligible.

At the end of the day this decision comes down to electoral realities and strategic possibilities. The anti-imperial, pro-civil liberties, pro-constitution base is not on the right. It is on the left. Chuck Baldwin is on fewer than 40 ballots. Ralph Nader is on 46. The cards that have been dealt may not be fair, but they are what they are.

In 2004 Patrick Buchanan senselessly "came home" to the Republican Party because George Bush was "right" on taxes and judges. I stayed home in 2004, but in 2008 I am coming home too, because Ralph Nader is right on war and empire and is the most likely magnet for the opposition to be seen and heard a week from today.

Eight years ago I cast my first ever ballot in an a Presidential election for Ralph Nader. I did it without regret or remorse. Eight years later I will do so once again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain v. Ayers

As something of a an amateur historian of the 1960's American Left, the corporate conservatives obsession with Bill Ayers and his alleged connection to Barack Obama has been quite amusing. Almost daily I am treated to a barrage of "conservative" talking heads and those that absorb their bizarre conspiracy theories regarding Obama's relationship with the former Weatherman. They are virtually always totally wrong headed and in the case of some of the propagandists, it is hard to imagine that they don't know the truth.

For instance just yesterday on CNN, I saw a McCain loyalist refer to Obama's "close friend" Bill Ayers as a "terrorist killer." One does not have to take Ayers at his word to come to the conclusion that this often repeated charge is nonsense. To my knowledge there is not a credible historian around who has ever argued that Ayers or The Weatherman successfully killed anyone other than themselves. Furthermore Ayers was not present at the infamous townhouse explosion that claimed the lives of several "Weather People." In fact the most successful "bombing" Ayers may have had some involvement with, consisted of "blowing up" a bathroom in the Pentagon, an act of avant garde budget cutting that would theoretically be appealing to opponents of big government and wasteful spending.

Even more interesting than the erroneous charges levied against Ayers is the suggestion that he was some sort of ultra-violent wing nut, exceptional in this regard even by the standards of the "anti-American" 60's Left. While it is not a stretch to place Ayers on the fringes of the movement, it ought to be clear to any serious observer that Ayers was not as wild eyed or as dangerous as the Symbionese Liberation Army, The Black Liberation Army or a litany of other groups that came out of the period (this is to say nothing of the far more violent European Left of the period). If anything Ayers is exceptional in comparison to someone like David Gilbert for example, because he ended up walking away from the revolutionary rhetoric, before it covered his hands in blood and landed him in prison.

One of the problems with neoconservative and nationalists accounts of the 60's left has always been the inconsistent logic that makes someone like Ayers a uniquely horrific figure, at the same time that they try to paint the broader left agents of a monolithic third world death cult hell bent on taking over the world. The reality is that there was much more nuance to the anti-war movement of the period, then David Horowitz and company would lead you to believe, though they have their reasons for keeping that quiet.

The really uncomfortable truth for Republican loyalists is that while Ayers arguably fits the definition of a terrorist and may have some sort of association with Senator Obama, the Republican Party has actually nominated a man who unquestionably qualifies as a terrorist if one is to judge by the standards of say the U.S. Army.

I am not interested in maligning the service of Senator McCain or any other American who has worn the uniform, but the facts are what they are. Sen. McCain flew 23 missions over North Vietnam, bombing areas that he no doubt knew housed civilians. Like with todays terrorists, the actions carried out by McCain were not a part of any declared war. When McCain's plane crashed, he was taken into custody and held captive at the equivalent of Gitmo, the "Hanoi Hilton." McCain was then subjected to "coercive interrogation techniques," tactics the civilized world regards as "torture."

The point here is not that John McCain is a terrorist unworthy of a vote. The point is that the term "terrorism" is a loaded one that has much to do with the eye of the beholder, or more accurately, the perspective of the victims. The spree of property destruction carried out by the Weather Underground may have been immoral and dangerous to public safety, but compared to the actions of Al Qaeda, or the bombing missions of John McCain, they can scarcely qualify as "violent." In other words if association with Ayers disqualifies one from Presidential consideration, McCain's bombing raids of a peasant society ought to as well.

Forty years removed, this is the second straight election where the Republicans have chosen to run on a Vietnam War Patriotism v. anti-war Radicalism theme. Combine this with the excommunication of the small government Paulites from the Party and the exclusion of other limited government advocates from the GOP leadership, and there can no longer be any debate: The Republican Party is the War Party.

That the Democrats are unwilling and unable to capitalize on this fact at a point in time when the majority of the nation is anti-war is troubling albeit not surprising.

Tell us future President Obama, friend of "anti-war" radical Bill Ayers; what will your excuse be when you and your Democratic Congress still have us engaged in a needless foreign war (or two) when you are up for re-election?

Friday, October 10, 2008

More posts to come

Starting this coming week, I'm hoping to spend some more time on the blog. It's been a busy month, but I've finished up some projects that needed completing, some of which will eventually end up on this blog.

In the meantime, here is an interesting thread on Sean Scallon's newest article for The American Conservative. The question he asks about the "MARs" of Sam Francis/Donald Warren fame is one I've been asking myself all election cycle long.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The "Bailout" has passed

It is a official. A bill with no constituency, and fierce opponents in virtually every active political camp in the country, has passed the Congress.

The fattened up, pork project now known as the "bailout" is the least popular bill I can remember passing in my life time. Working in both retail and restaurants, I get a chance to talk to those "men on the street" we always hear the corporate media yammering about: this bill is loathed across the board.

Liberals and lefties don't like the fact that is is a corporate welfare bill, passed by a Congress filled with folks who tightened up bankruptcy law for the "regular folks", just a few short years ago.

Conservatives and libertarians don't like it because it is another big government program, that depending on who you ask either unnecessarily intervenes in natural market occurrences, or incentivizes bad behavior..or both.

Though I was excited when the House shot the first attempt down a few days ago, I knew this would happen. The Senate is to the House as the Presidency is to the Senate, or to be more clear, it knows who the boss is and will always respond accordingly.

Bigness has done this to us. Collapse is now inevitable.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet

My review of the excellent new book by Bill Kauffman on the life of anti-federalist hero, Luther Martin, is now up on the Charleston City Paper website.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lesser of two evils? No thanks.

By Daniel Bein

I recently saw a comment online that traditional conservatism, as the negation of ideology, has always been open to compromise. The person who made this comment was suggesting that John McCain would be a good choice for conservatives in November and went on to suggest that since McCain would appoint better judges and is better on the right to life issue, he is a better choice than Obama, and that as the lesser of two evils, he is worthy of a conservative vote. I couldn't disagree more.

The minute we allow this corrupt system to convince us that the only choice we have is between two evils, we have lost all of our power. Conservatives and liberals alike are giving up everything they hold dear when they give in to this temptation. They are tempted because they don't want to see the other side win. Fear of what would essentially a third term for George W. Bush (which is exactly what John McCain represents) should not cause a single antiwar liberal to vote for Barack Obama when he is clearly not against war, and fear of the "radical" Barack Obama should not cause principled conservatives to vote for one of the worst neoconservative warmongers imaginable.

The only true option that anyone with principles has is to support third parties passionately and publicly. If we refuse to do this because we feel that third parties are not a viable option, then they never will be. We must support them so that they can become viable options, otherwise we will have to choose between the "lesser of two evils" every time, and we will be stuck with one of those evils every time. In this scenario whoever wins, we lose.

Decisions motivated by fear are seldom sound and are usually regretted. I wash my hands of both major parties and will continue to do so until one of them is actually pushed far enough to become significantly different from the other. This will only happen if they feel threatened, and as long as third parties have no power, there is no threat. As long as we refuse to support third parties, they will not have the power to threaten a system that leaves us with what we admit to be a choice between two evils, which is no choice at all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My review of The Obama Nation... now up over at the Charleston City Paper.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What's The Matter With (Ar)Kansas? The Perils of Palin and Conservative Myopia

The recent outpouring of admiration amongst conservatives for Sarah Palin isn't surprising. In a Republican Party where heretics are regularly threatened and excommunicated for the mildest deviations, the ascension of an independent-minded, cultural conservative from one of the most non-cosmopolitan places in the United States is a welcome sign indeed.

Though she has been criticized by politicians and pundits for her inexperience, the fact is that Palin has long been a principled advocate for her family, town and state. As a woman with tangible personal attachments to her hard right positions on God and guns, the Alaska Governor is arguably as good a public figure the Republican Party might find to represent the principled, small town conservatism of family, faith and flag.

Or is she?

During the Republican presidential primaries there was another candidate from a small town and from a state that could be defined as "middle American" with similar conservative credentials. Like Palin, he had an impeccable, consistent record on both right-to-life and Second Amendment issues. A former man of the cloth, he was a strong, folksy public speaker, with an outside-the-beltway mindset that appealed to the populist sensibilities of his Southern and Christian voting base. Nonetheless, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee garnered little support from traditionalists and virtually no support from paleoconservatives even when he was the last man standing in the way of a John McCain nomination.

The typical mainstream media portrayal of Huckabee was that of a dopey hick from the Ozarks who had stumbled his way into a high-stakes presidential race by virtue of his religiosity in a party popularly perceived as being dominated by a "religious Right." In reality, of course, Huckabee's public disavowal of the theory of evolution and his comparison of abortion to slavery were as embarrassing to the GOP as they were buffoonish to the New York Times.

While Huckabee's down-to-earth speaking style and status as a Christian leader were no doubt factors, his initial success had more to do with his attachment to the Fair Tax than it did to his position on the Virgin birth. In the lead-up to the Iowa Caucus, Huckabee was out of money and almost totally devoid of staff or advertising. His campaign adopted a "follow the leader" strategy as Huckabee followed the Fair Tax caravan to multiple events and meetings. Again, one can bet the Wall Street Journal crowd were not appreciative of Huckabee's populist sympathies and his Republican opponents spent more time dismissing the Fair Tax than not.

I am not a supporter a national sales tax nor did I support the campaign of Governor Huckabee in the Republican primaries. Nonetheless, the same anti-establishment, populist and grassroots themes that attracted Huckabee supporters are the same qualities the same crowd seems to admire in Sarah Palin.

In the words of an unidentified Robert Taft supporter, speaking of the 1952 primary season, these voters are "the vanishing Americans, pushed around by big business, big labor, big government and big military." The enemy is the bigness of the American Empire, and while they are not exactly opponents of it, they are not actively part of its machinery either.

What many see in Huckabee and now Palin is authenticity and a sense of place that other American political figures lack. The willingness of both candidates to buck the party elites in a direction that reflects the will of their constituencies and not the will of their donors is something that seems wholly unique in today's political culture. In large part, this explains the prior success of Huckabee, though it does not explain his failure to build a broad coalition, something Palin seems to have had no trouble doing.

To be fair, Huckabee had many disadvantages that Palin does not have. For starters he is not an attractive woman and mother of five. More importantly however, Huckabee had competition for the job he was seeking; Palin was given hers in large part because of who she is.

During the GOP primary campaign, the candidacies of Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo held more credibility with Christian conservatives worried about immigration and trade than anything Huckabee was offering. Tracking farther right (and farther into the grassroots) most anti-war, small government paleoconservatives rallied around the Ron Paul phenomenon, myself included.

Even the pragmatic wing of the conservative movement failed to rally around Huckabee. Instead, they came out in favor of the quintessential Eastern elite candidacy of technocratic ex-governor Mitt Romney (who was both metropolitan and metrosexual). Though former pastor Huckabee did have supporters in certain religious circles and publications, he was never the choice of movement conservatives and even when they were despairing over the possibility of a McCain nomination, the Right showed little interest in rallying to Huckabee in the hopes of placing a roadblock before the "Straight Talk Express."

Now the same folks who attacked Huckabee as a "liberal" for promoting America First public works projects and showing Christian mercy in the commutation of criminals serving lengthy sentences in Arkansas prisons, are rallying to the cause of a woman who supported the "economic nationalist" Pat Buchanan for President, and has no known record on immigration or trade.

Though conservatism is non-ideological, it is intimately attached to the concept of "first principles" as a building block to all political, cultural and social action. First steps are good steps, but the fear of co-option is real, and must be guarded against at all costs.

The fact that someone as culturally conservative and politically unconventional as Mike Huckabee was able to get as far as he did in the race for the Republican nomination is undoubtedly a good sign for the traditionalist conservatives. So is the ascension of Sarah Palin.

But if one could not support Huckabee during the primary because he was wrong on the war, wishy-washy on immigration and soft on the welfare state - how can one now support the presidential candidacy of the archetypical neoconservative simply because his choice for vice president might be incrementally better than the average GOP representative?

Conservatives have long championed a return to "realism" in the foreign policy arena even as a misguided "realism" in the electoral arena has consistently left them with unsatisfying candidates and unfulfilled policy proposals. The Vice Presidential nomination of Sarah Palin is not a departure from this trend, but rather its most recent fulfillment.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Third Parties Are Our Only Hope

By Daniel Bein

When I heard about Ron Paul's idea to have the major third party candidates band together I thought it was a great idea. The third party candidates should be making as much noise as possible, touring together and debating each other, demanding equal time, and attempting to convince the American people that there is an alternative to the two major War Parties. Though I still feel Paul should have run as a third party candidate, I believe this is the next best thing. A left/right alliance against the empire is essential. Ron Paul proved this was possible with the grassroots coalition he built.

Many would claim that this is not possible because the differences between the left and right run too deep. Yet some of these same people claim that supporting Sarah Palin is somehow a good idea. It is foolish to believe that a supposed paleo VP candidate on a pro war ticket will change the fact that the differences between paleos and neocons are completely irreconcilable.

My mind has been wandering quite a bit since it became clear that Bob Barr is a treacherous scumbag who may well be a covert agent of the GOP. Since his intentional sabotage of Ron Paul's attempt to unite the third parties, I have realized that the GOP will stop at nothing to stay in power, and they may succeed. The idea of seeing another four years of the neo-cons running riot over our liberties and our Constitution is so frightening that I've even considered voting for Obama. Obama is in no way a peace candidate, but he's marginally better than McCain, and I still feel that a repudiation of the neocons is imperative. But it was pointed out to me earlier today that while McCain will attempt to go to war with Iran, and anyone else who opens their eyes at him, he will face opposition from a hostile congress, whereas if Obama chooses to go to war with Iran, or Pakistan or anyone else, he will face no opposition. One must not forget that the Democrats are internationalist hawks. They are not a true alternative to the neoconservative ideology of world domination. That only exists with the third party oppositiong. For this reason I will keep the faith, endure the sneers and taunts that come my way for my "mindless protest voting" and continue to support third party candidates.

With Barr's recent treachery and the damage he is doing to the chances of third parties running a successful opposition, continued support for third party options is even more important than ever. Whether it's Baldwin or Nader (but not Barr, because he's not a serious candidate), the choice is clear: we must support third party alternatives, because a vote for McCain or Obama is a vote for empire. Sarah Palin shouldn't cause anyone interested in peace and freedom to make the serious error of voting for McCain, and fear of the neocons shouldn't cause us to capitulate and vote for an interventionist Democrat. Third parties are the only option. We should not abstain and we should not capitulate, we should vote third party. The revolution is NOT over until we give up.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Review Up

My review of Thomas Frank's newest book, "The Wrecking Crew", is up on the Charleston City Paper website. Link.

Barr Sucks

I said something nice about Bob Barr the other day. I apologize.

Barr's political grandstanding and no-show of the Ron Paul press conference today confirms all of my worst fears about the man. Prior to this I figured a vote for Barr was at worst an anti-GOP protest vote. Now it just seems like a vote for GOP-lite.

Folks who are planning to vote for Barr because they think he is the third party candidate most likely to draw significant support, should seriously reevaluate the liklihood of that in light of todays actions. Barr's repudiation of the Paul movement for reasons that are suspect at best, may very well tank his chances at playing spoiler in states like Nevada, Montana, and Colorado.

A month ago I thought Barr might be able to pull 5% nationally. Then he started failing to get on ballots all over the country. Shortly thereafter one of this top money men and most prominent supporters, Richard Viguerie came out as a hardcore supporter of Sarah Palin. Now he's decided to snub the movement that is responsible for nearly all of his base support. At this point I think Barr would be lucky to get 5% in any state, and may not even set a Libertarian Party record in total votes (which would make the soul selling the LP engaged in to get Barr atop the ticket even more disgusting).

Barr may say he didn't want to appear on stage with folks like McKinney and Nader, but I don't buy it. Barr was upset that Ron Paul refused to endorse him or run as his VP, so he decided to take his ball and go home. I have said before that Barr is a terrible vehicle for "the Revolution" and if this isn't evidence of that I don't know what it is.

Of course it is true that all of this nonsense could have been avoided if Dr. Paul had run on a third party ticket. He should have and his announcement today makes his stated reasons for not doing so seem ridiculous. Nonetheless Barr's antics make him totally unacceptable, for both principled and pragmatic reasons.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Matthew Scully is Palin's speechwriter

The pious Christian and ariel hunter, Sarah Palin is taking her talking points from the weirdly neoconish, anti-gun, vegan, agnostic, Matthew Scully. Hmm..

As a long time vegetarian, I should note that I agree with the basic arguments presented in Scully's book "Dominion." Contrary to what is claimed in the link above, the book is NOT another animal rights treatise, but rather a book about human morality and what we owe to lesser creatures. Furthermore the nastier quotes in the piece are taken from parts of the book when Scully is railing against things like big game hunting and factory farming, things that I think are self-evidently immoral, if not dangerously close to evil.

Still the issue isn't Palin's lack of sincerity for aligning herself with someone with so many divergent views on things like religion and guns. The issue is that Palin has a former Bush speechwriter penning her lines, which means she is "going along, to get along", which is what many of us predicted would be the case from the beginning.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New American interviews Bob Conley and Bob Barr

Despite being awfully wrong about the depth of the actual communist threat during the Cold War years, I am a big fan of the John Birch Society. When it comes to combatting the global elite, they are one of the only existing grassroots enterprises left. While other so called conservatives were clamoring for enforcement of UN resolutions in Iraq (either to authorize force, or to search for weapons), JBS was virtually alone in its oppositional stance toward the internationalization of American law and public policy. As a one time quasi-member (long story), count me among those who are happy that JBS may be experiencing a bit of a revival thanks to the campaign of longtime JBS supporter, Ron Paul.

Getting all of that out of the way, the newest issue of the Society's magazine, The New American, is up online and it has a couple of really worthwhile interviews.

The first is called "The New Democrat" and is a one-on-one with South Carolina's Democrat Senate hopeful Bob Conley. As has been noted here before, Conley is running against the abysmal Lindsey Graham and not surprisingly the JBS folks are sympathetic to his cause. Bob does a good job in the interviewing lining himself up with a previous JBS Democrat, Larry McDonald, and also does a good job combatting some of the criticism of the Fair Tax (criticisms I share, though i think they are largely unimportant).

The second interview is with Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr. I am not a supporter of Barr's but it was nice to see him actually admit to being wrong about previous votes for once. I also enjoyed his candor on spending and the size of government; unlike most, Barr admits that in order to cut or get rid of any taxes, the hatchet has to be taken to the State first.

I will vote for Conley without hesitation. Barr is another matter. Regardless of that, The New American should be commended for covering two worthwhile candidates, despite the ideological differences both men may have with each other, and with JBS.