State of the Union

What? There’s a big meeting and they didn’t invite us?

Apparently the high council of the conservative establishment is set to meet at some member’s Virginia home soon after election to discuss the state of the “movement.” 

I didn’t get an invitation and don’t know anyone else who did so unless I’m wrong no one from the alternative right is invited to this not-so-secret meeting. Here’s who IS attending:

“the meeting will include a “who’s who of conservative leaders — economic, national security and social,” said one attendee, who shared initial word of the secret session only on the basis of anonymity and with some details about the host and location redacted. [...]

It feels like being a member of the Orphans, the New York street gang that wasn’t invited to big gang pow-wow in the 1979 move The Warriors (directed by Walter Hill, a Chronicles reader by the way).

But then again, judging from the agenda, it doesn’t look like we’ll be missing much:

“There’s a sense that the Republican Party is broken, but the conservative movement is not,” said this source, suggesting that it was the betrayal of some conservative principles by Bush and congressional leaders that led to the party’s decline.”

Basically the meeting will be a half-day gripe session against the Bush II Administration and Republican leaders in Congress. Oh, and the McCain campaign I suppose.  And I figure they’ll be some Palin mashing in there as well

I’m not sure why they needed to meet to do that (or act in secret for that matter). Suffice to say they’re not going accomplish much other than agreeing that they need better PR and fewer incompetents.

Which is too bad. Had they invited us, they might have stimulated some conversation and ideas on where conservatism has gone wrong and what it needs to do fix itself or if can fix itself or whether we should stop thinking like ideologues with a cause and present ourselves as ordinary, decent citizens which would stand in marked contrast to any extremities coming out of an Obama Administration.

But the high order doesn’t think anything’s wrong, so I guess there’s no need for us tell them otherwise. Perhaps this meeting will eventually become the steering committee for the Palin 2012 campaign. That’s seems its likely course.

Serious reflection and discussion is being left to us I guess.

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Comments Are Now Live

Just to add to Phil’s post below: the TAC blog is indeed newly interactive. Readers may now post comments. (Be patient, though — there might be a few gremlins in the system.) Naturally, some common-sense rules apply: no profanity or inflammatory epithets. Also, try to keep comments relevant to the post that they’re appearing under. Comments will be moderated, albeit with as light a touch as is feasible.

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An Immodest Proposal

TAC is surely the only conservative magazine where an editor will receive hate mail for endorsing the GOP candidate—however backhandedly. I am at best a hypocrite, at worst—shiver to say it—a Republican.

My favorite response:

I was reading Kara Hopkins and had to stop. She said one thing that disturbed me highly, ‘a war we cannot win.’ There is no such thing as an un-winnable war. There is always a winner and a loser. Some people naively believe there are no winners in war. Tell that to the Sioux. The U.S can win a war in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. It will not for one reason alone. The political elite, like this writer that you’ve in your magazine, don’t know what it takes to win.

Let me explain it to you. Understanding the fundamentals of winning a war is quite easy. It means killing your enemies and those who help them. It means snuffing out towns, cities, and countries with nerve gas and nuclear weapons and then clearing out the scraps with flame throwing tanks. It means sticking bayonets into anyone and everyone that resists.

A war should be short and ruthless. General Sherman, Genghis Khan, General Patton, and Sun Tzu, understood this. The Russians and Chinese understand this. Even Saddam Hussein understood this. War is war. It isn’t monopoly. It has only one rule as does love, all is fair. Any illiterate gang-banger off the street understands this yet the educated cannot?

He goes on to say that he will deprive us of his subscription. (Whether or not he intends to liberate my house with a flame-throwing tank is an open question.)

Now allowing that Genghis Khan comes immediately to mind when recalling great men of the Right and leaving aside the moral component—since the cliché says “all’s fair” it must be true—one wonders whether my correspondent has considered what would happen after we finished “clearing out the scraps.” Surely the “scraps” (charming designation there) will leave behind no embittered relatives, and neighboring countries will be cowed by our brutal display rather than motivated to fortify their arsenals and ally against the aggressor. History argues otherwise, but apparently only “elites” read history.

It’s easy to dismiss my penpal as a brutish outlier. But he’s only repeating what he’s heard through official channels over the past six years. When radio bombardiers call for leveling the Sunni Triangle, conservative opinion-masters advocate nuking Mecca, and all the president’s men chastise him for not prosecuting his war with sufficient ferocity, why would the rank and file remain temperate?

It’s quite a feat to crash an economy, outspend Democrats, and lose two wars. But perhaps the greatest corruption of the Bush years—indeed, a component in all of these failures—is the notion that freedom, defined as an absence of limits, is conservatism’s highest end. A quieter understanding suggests instead that conservatism is a recognition of limits on human perfectability and governmental prerogative. But that’s much harder to set to music or wrap in bunting or stick on to a bumper. So damn the defeatists, full speed ahead!

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Different Viewpoints on the TAC Blog

We had an e-mail from a visitor to the TAC blog, which has made us think about what the purpose of the blog is and where we should be going with it. The e-mail is below followed by my comments on it.

Our visitor wrote:

I am a recent subscriber and have enjoyed a good many articles from your archive. I was just entering high school when Reagan was elected and became a “Reagan Republican” during the country’s resurgence in spirit during the 80′s. I have been disillusioned for many years at the direction the party has taken with huge government spending and national programs that left wingers from past generations would envy. However, I’m primarily a one-issue person in these times…as a conservative Catholic…and that is on the issue of life and mainly on abortion, euthanasia, and stem cell research. A society that fails to protect its young from premeditated killing, much less one that encourages it, is a dying society.

From reading the blog on your website, it appears to me that your magazine isn’t so much about putting forth a solid, real conservative message on current events as much as it is to snipe at neo-conservatives. Now, I have no use for the Sean Hannity’s of the world, either spiritually or intellectually, but your tone strikes me as pedantic at times and often fails to address current events from the “first principles” perspective of Russell Kirk. You seem instead to simply, like an 8th grader taunting one of his classmates, exult almost exclusively in the missteps and failings (real or perceived) of the group called the “neocons”, who would appear at times from the tone of your writing to be responsible for every wrong that exists in the world today. You also seem to have quite a following from a cadre of sneering adolescents who seem to be more “anti-neocon” than actual conversatives.

All of this leads me to my question. Is there a middle layer of thought that I was supposed to have to get all of this? I suppose I am a former “neocon” who tacitly rejected many practices over the years that led me to believe that I was either no longer conservative or that there was a different sort of conservative tradition. I found Russel Kirk and others and somehow found you. I suspect there are many hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people like me who need to hear that message so they don’t think that post-modern liberalism and libertarianism are the only viable vehicles for political expression in this country besides the dominant norms of those who currently control the “conversative brand”.

You might try to reach out a little bit to folks that are struggling with all of this and articulate that the “neocons” AND the liberals are wrong, and most importantly, WHY. And when they’re right, be respectful of the truth, as a good conservative is primarily interested in truth.

You seem to do this in your articles, though they can be needlessly shrill at times, but the blog…it’s like a silly inside joke in middle school that’s meant to keep everyone else out. Maybe some more of us want to embrace what you’re saying..and perhaps you could respond to my email with a reasonable explanation of what you’re trying to communicate.

I’m just asking because I care about what’s happening and what you have to say.

My response: Read More…

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Zane Starkewolf is Brilliant

A tip of the cap to TNR for bringing this candidate to our attention. Zane Starkwolf is the young Republican candidate for the California 1st District. He has gotten attention for a robo-call, usually a bad sign. Judge for yourself:

Yes for Zane

His statement on the controversial robo-call is beautifully vague and can be found on his campaign website.

I acknowledge that the idea behind the ad, and indeed the execution of the call, was not the safe route to take. And if my run for office was simply for personal gain, I would not have taken a risk.

In other words, the issues are too important not to use a porny-sounding ad. I have to take risks, people.

But Zane sounds like an appealing candidate on the issues. He opposes the Patriot Act and the bailout. And his plan for Iraq seems to be: declare victory and leave immediately. I endorse him.

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Diva for Vice-President?

The long knives are out for Sarah Palin and unsheathing them are members of McCain’s staff who are jumping the ship as soon as they can and trying to clear their records and clean their reputations before coming electoral tsunami (although I don’t think it will reach Carter-esque or Goldwater proportions. More like Clinton’s win over Dole or even Bush I’s win over Dukakis).

According to them, Palin is a “diva” or “doesn’t take advice from anyone” and has “gone rogue” or is basically worrying about making sure McCain’s defeat doesn’t take her down too. Of course,  when one uses a phrase like “diva”, they do so intentionally because it’s also tries to tie her back to $150,000 shopping spree for wardrobe, make-up and accessories. Being a “diva” generally one has the impression of a very pampered person and that’s idea these anonymous tipsters want you to have, that far from being a “hockey mom”, Sarah Palin acts like any normal person would act once they hit it big in the lottery or make a hit record or make the winning shot: diva-like. After all, the Spears family was once from a little town in Louisiana.

Putting the musing of losers aside (and after what the McCainiac Gulag guards did to Ron Paul and his delegates in St. Paul I must disclose that I have absolutely no sympathy for them and would shriek in delight if Paul draws off enough votes in Montana to give the state to Obama.) I have written in posts at my other blogsite Conservative Heritage Times that Palin needed to be set free of of the almost puppeteer control over her (as the Paulites would know) before they turned her into a Barbie Doll. If she had natural talents as a politican the U.S. voting populace needed to see them for better or worse otherwise the McCain campaign would look foolish in saying she was qualified being President. It’s good to see Palin hasn’t lost her independent mind being around a bunch of control freaks. If she is a “rogue,” as they say, more power to her. Or as the Divas would say “You go girl!” 

Read More…

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The Second Wave of Gulf War Illness

What really disgusts me about public figures and pols like Cindy McCain and Sarah Palin getting all righteous (and possessive) about the welfare of the troops because they have sons at war is their platitudes and admonishments are pathetically partisan, empty, and devoid of any authentic will for improving conditions in-theater. And for years, we’ve been spoon-fed this “maverick” gruel, when I have yet to see John McCain, the supposed “military candidate,” get his hands soiled addressing the war’s dirtiest little secret: that the military, by privatizing nearly every aspect of this war and blatantly ignoring basic guidelines of public health and environmental safety, have put our soldiers’ lives and long-term health very much at risk.

We’ve heard about contaminated water at the bases, we’ve heard about poorly rigged showers electrocuting soldiers, now we hear that they’ve been burning amputated limbs, Styrofoam, unexploded munitions, rubber, medical waste and other toxins in open air pits at Base Balad and other military installations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

From an excellent article by Kelly Kennedy at the Army Times (please read the entire piece for full impact, including the “plume crud” and other nasty symptoms plaguing men and women after they come home):

An open-air “burn pit” at the largest U.S. base in Iraq may have exposed tens of thousands of troops, contractors and Iraqis to cancer-causing dioxins, poisons such as arsenic and carbon monoxide, and hazardous medical waste, documentation gathered by Military Times shows.

The billowing black plume from the burn pit at 15-square-mile Joint Base Balad, the central logistics hub for U.S. forces in Iraq, wafts continually over living quarters and the base combat support hospital, sources say. (snip)

And even though the military now has three clean-burning incinerators operating there, officials acknowledged that as of midsummer, the burn pit still was taking in 147 tons of waste per day — significantly more than half the daily output at Balad, home to about 25,000 U.S. military personnel and several thousand contractors.

Balad’s average daily output of almost 250 tons of waste is three times higher than the average of 83 tons per day generated by the city of Juneau, Alaska, which has a comparable population. (snip)

The burn pit at Balad has consumed Styrofoam, unexploded ordnance, petroleum products, plastics, rubber, dining facility trash, paint and solvents, and medical waste, including amputated limbs, according to Curtis’ memo.

He said contaminants, many highly poisonous, that troops may have been exposed to include benzene, an aircraft fuel known to cause leukemia; arsenic; dichlorofluoromethane, or Freon; carbon monoxide; ethylbenzene; formaldehyde; hydrogen cyanide; nitrogen dioxide; sulfuric acid; and xylene.

“It is amazing that the burn pit has been able to operate without restrictions over the past few years,” Curtis wrote.

It wasn’t so long ago that the Pentagon was forced to admit — five years after the end of the first Persian Gulf War, and amid controversial claims of “Gulf War Illness,” the chronic symptoms and origins of which are still being debated (while veterans of that war continue to be very much sick) — that it may have exposed tens of thousands to nerve gas during the destruction of the Kamisiyah weapons depot in 1991. Meanwhile, multiple studies have found that widespread exposure to chemicals, pesticides and even the innoculations and pills issued by the U.S military could have led to varying ailments among Gulf War vets. Now, frustrated sources inside the military tell me there is still institutional resistance to acknowledging the very real — and potentially massive — consequences of environmental exposures in this war.

John McCain has been in Washington for 26 years. To say in that time, “the maverick” couldn’t have challenged the Pentagon and made the safety of the troops fighting his wars a staple of his career is unreconcilable to me. If Barack Obama indeed wins this election, it is up to us, as responsible citizens and human beings, to insist he — and congress — address this issue with the commitment it deserves, for not just the current generation of veterans, but for any more, God forbid, to come.

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America Under President Obama

Undeniably, a powerful tide is running for the Democratic Party, with one week left to Election Day.

Bush’s approval rating is 27 percent, just above Richard Nixon’s Watergate nadir and almost down to Carter-Truman lows. After each of those presidents reached their floors — in 1952, 1974, 1980 — the opposition party captured the White House.

Moreover, 80 percent to 90 percent of Americans think the nation is on the wrong course, and since mid-September, when McCain was still slightly ahead, the Dow has lost 4,000 points — $5 trillion to $6 trillion in value.

Leading now by eight points in an average of national polls, Barack Obama has other advantages. Read More…

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If the groom-to-be doesn’t show up

Israeli political analyst Joseph Alpher speculates in the Washington Post today about the possible impact of the outcome of the American presidential election on the Israeli election early next year:

“The Israeli public wants a prime minister who gets along with the U.S. president,” he said. “If Obama wins, and goes ahead with his plan to open a dialogue with Iran and Syria, that could help [Tzipi] Livni. If McCain wins, that might help [Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

In fact, I share the view that the worst case scenario for the world would be a McCain win in the US and a Netanyahu win in Israel.

Kadima chair, Tzipi Livni, has failed to bring together a coalition government and will now be taking Israel to the polls when it is widely expected that the ultra right-wing Zionist Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party in cohorts with other ultra right-wing nationalist and expansionist groups will win government. Already the settlers in the occupied territories sense victory as they confront Israeli authorities over the removal of illegal outposts since they know that with Netanyahu they have a friend who shares their expansionist dreams.

But the most terrifying aspect of a McCain win in the US and a Netanyahu win in Israel is the very much enhanced likelihood of a final confrontation with Iran and the fallout, literally and metaphorically, that such a confrontation will have for the Middle East and the world. Netanyahu has in the past hinted at a ‘nuclear strike on Iran’. And, of course, who can forget McCain’s policy of ‘Bomb, bomb, bombing Iran’.

A global political marriage between a U.S. President McCain and a Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been the ultimate neocon wet dream. Thanks to American voters it seems that at least the groom-to-be will not be showing up for the wedding ceremony in the Weekly Standard/AEI  offices.

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The TAC Endorsement Issue

Our election symposium is on-line now and the new issue — which also includes essays by H.L. Mencken (on the trouble with democracy), Sheldon Richman (on nationalizing the banks), John Schwenkler (on secession), and much more — is winging its way into shops and subscribers’ mailboxes at the end of this week.

There’s no ideal choice for conservatives this election, so we asked 18 TAC contributors and public figures — conservatives, libertarians, independently minded liberals, and the others — for their perspectives on the choices before voters. Is there a lesser evil? Are the third parties the best choice? Should one even vote at all?

Contributions come from Peter Brimelow, Reid Buckley, John Patrick Diggins, Rod Dreher, Francis Fukuyama, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, Leonard Liggio, Declan McCullagh, Robert A. Pape, Lew Rockwell, Gerald Russello, Steve Sailer, John Schwenkler, Joe Sobran, and Peter Wood, as well as TAC editors Scott McConnell, Kara Hopkins, and myself.

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