State of the Union

Two for America?

Although there is still speculation on whether Rep. Ron Paul will run for President in 2012 (Jim Antle had a recent article in the Guardian about this) this writer’s opinion is Paul will probably not run given his new committee chairmanship nor should he if his not willing sacrifice the time necessary to campaign in a GOP field once again made up of persons without day jobs (Romney, Palin, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Barbour). You cannot campaign for President on the weekends.

For Paul supporters, if he does not run, there are two potential candidates they would probably feel comfortable supporting: former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and current Indiana governor Mitch Daniels. However, neither Johnson or Daniels on their own could win the GOP nomination. So why not team up and win it together?

Of course they would have to figure out who would run for President and who would run as Vice-President, but announcing such a campaign pairing would not only be a big news splash for its uniqueness, it would also join together two wings of the party which need each other in order to hold back the neocons and the ideological flunkies of Conservative INC.: ordinary Main St. Republicans and the Paul-wing of the party which includes everyone and everything from paleos to libertarians to Greens and other independent sorts.

Daniels may not be popular with Right activists but that’s okay because they’ll splitting their votes into itsy-bitsy pieces anyway depending on how many candidates are in the field. The decisive votes in a Republican primary come your basic, Main St. Republican whether it be a businessman, a farmer, politically active housewife, the kinds of middle class persons who have been the backbone of the party for a long, long time. They are the kind of Republicans you find in a state like Indiana and Daniels popularity as governor is a sign he can be very strong with this group of voters, perhaps even rip them away from their standby candidate Mitt Romney. What Daniels lacks is an enthusiastic base of support. Sure, the pundits and the opinion writers have written glowing words about him, but they’re can’t organize Iowa or New Hampshire or Nevada or South Carolina for him. Johnson supporters could do this, however, if they team up together. Likewise, Johnson would certainly have support from the original Tea Partiers (as contrasted with post-Obama Inauguration types) but Johnson’s persona, the fact he comes from a small state and the fact he has taken controversial stands outside what would be considered the mainstream in Republican circles, would be a block on his campaign’s potential growth. But pairing up with Daniels would given Johnson Main St. credibility instead of being seen as an exotic, quirky candidate (as Paul was portrayed) on his own.

In fact I would say they are the perfect pairing: a Midwest Republican governor with inside ties who would get establishment backing if he was successful paired with a Western former governor more eclectic and more libertarian who could attract younger voters to the normal Republican base. The party could hardly go wrong with a ticket which a track record for sound fiscal policy and more personal freedom who both support a more “humble” foreign policy to quote Daniels’ former boss. It would be a ticket not tied down with interest group commitments which would make it attractive to independents. It’s a platform the party used to stand for and was successful with. Why not go back to it? Why not Two for America?

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Darwinian Debate on the Right (or not)

The most recent issue of Intercollegiate Review (Fall 2010) features a debate between a self-described “Darwinian conservative” Larry Arnhart and a critic of “dehumanizing” modern science, and particularly Darwinism, John G. West. The debaters are supposedly discussing whether or not Darwinian biology and its social implications produce “conservative” results. Although the two take dramatically different positions on the social utility of evolutionary theory and its English progenitor, it is not clear that either is taking a “conservative” position. Indeed the key term is never defined. What the discussants are disputing is whether or not evolutionary theory as currently understood should be acceptable to most Americans, given what they seem to believe about values. Not surprisingly, the debate focuses on whether or not the acceptance of Darwinian biology leads to moral relativism and even more importantly for the participants, whether Darwinism or its putative antithesis, what Arnhart styles “metaphysical conservatism,” is compatible with democratic equality.

West expresses the view that Darwinism leads ineluctably to social Darwinism, which in the past gave rise to eugenics. Darwinians, starting with Darwin himself, were eager to advance “the process of elimination” by which unfit human beings were sterilized or kept from reproducing. West also notes that random selection and an undirected life process are incompatible with the conception of a Deity “who actively supervise and directs the development of life.” West raises inter alia arguments about how the randomness of Darwinian evolution cannot explain, according to certain respected biochemists, the complexity of life forms or the “astonishing rarity of certain protein sequences” that allow organisms to function. West knows well the scientific arguments that can be marshaled on the side of intelligent design, and he is on target when he shows the bullying and ostracism to which those who try to reconcile evolution and conscious design are exposed among conventional scientists and journalists.

Arnhart may make a weaker argument than West because he is too busy fighting straw men. He sets out to prove that the Darwinists are nicer and more moral people than those yahoos who quote the Bible to their opponents. Bible-thumpers are blamed for that “form of social parasitism” known as slavery, since the Good Book does not condemn and in fact permits human bondage. Christians are naturally at fault for the evil of the antebellum South, and West goes after the explicitly non-rightist cultural historian Mark Malvasi for daring to suggest that Southern slavery was somehow Christianized. Are we to believe the Christian component made Southern slavery somehow worse than pagan slavery, an arrangement in which war captives were worked to death in galleys or in Athenian silver mines? Read More…

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Help Somali Children

This fine artwork is from Tom Blanton, the mastermind More fine art from Tom Blanton, the mastermind of the Project for a New American Revolution.   This is from his Flickr page here.

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Friends Needed in Islamabad

The story about the departure of the CIA Station Chief from Pakistan is interesting because it reveals that Washington has few friends there, only fair weather accomplices.  It is being reported that the Pakistani intelligence service ISI might have leaked the man’s name to get even for a court case in New York involving the service.  While it is possible that revenge was the motive, I would rather suggest that the Station Chief’s name was widely known and the leak could have come from just about anywhere and for any reason.  A Chief of Station is declared to the local government so he can share information openly, which means that his identity and affiliation are not secret.  There were probably hundreds of Pakistani officials who knew who he was and probably also a large number of journalists.  Also, the CIA station in the Embassy compound is reportedly located in an isolated and secure group of buildings, making it easy to identify those people going in and out.  There are hundreds of locals who work in the US Embassy and many of them regularly report to their own government on the activity there.  Some might also be reporting to journalists and even to the Taliban.  The identity of the Chief of Station might easily be deduced by any of the local employees within the Embassy based on Embassy records, behavior, and other factors.  So the theory that it had to be ISI has to be just speculation unless there is some documentary or other evidence, such as a phone intercept or something similar.

I also found the story interesting from a CIA point of view.  The man’s name is being reported in the Pakistani media but is being blacked out in the US because he is under cover.  The US media is reporting that he is 43 years old and had previously served in Stockholm and Baghdad.  Back in my time in the Agency, a major station like Islamabad is today would be run by a very senior officer with five or six tours behind him.  Stockholm was then, and probably is now, a backwater post and Baghdad is, by all accounts, a high security post where one does not actually get much experience going out and running agents because it is dangerous to do so. One recalls that the CIA Chief of Base who was killed in the suicide bombing in Khost Afghanistan last year was also relatively inexperienced.  Perhaps the reason why less experienced officers are managing operations is that there is little in the way of traditional spying tradecraft going on.  Running drone operations does not require a whole lot of agent handling skill and the emphasis on that kind of offensive operation might signify that CIA’s expertise as an intelligence gathering organization has been much eroded.

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The Left’s Secession Obsession

When a group called the Confederate Heritage Trust decided to hold a “Secession Ball” in Charleston, South Carolina, commemorating the 150th anniversary of South Carolina leaving the union, the event made national headlines. MSNBC host Ed Schultz said, “Conservatives in South Carolina are celebrating the destruction of the United States.” Schultz’s guest, civil rights activist Al Sharpton, said the event celebrated “treason.” Charleston NAACP president Dot Scott said “there’s nothing we can see where there should be a celebration of the Confederacy, not from our vantage point.”

Not surprisingly, each of these liberal critics assumed that only one vantage point need be considered–that of liberals.

The older I get, this “Southern Avenger” has come to recognize and accept that the War for Southern Independence means different things to different people. For generations, many Southerners remembered it with pride as a struggle for independence against a tyrannical government, similar to the American Revolution. Many other Southerners, and particularly black Southerners, consider it a reminder of slavery and the institutional racism that would linger for a century after. Both views contain much truth–and both are inadequate to tell the entire story.

And it is how the Confederacy’s story has been told–and the fact that those who’ve shaped the narrative have been almost entirely hostile to their subject–that continues to bother Southerners like me the most. Read More…

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Importing Unemployment

Buried in the Oct. 30 Washington Post was a bland headline: “Report Points to Faster Recovery in Jobs for Immigrants.”

The story, however, contained social dynamite that explains the rage of Americans who are smeared as nativists and xenophobes for demanding a timeout on immigration.

In the April-May-June quarter, foreign-born workers in the U.S. gained 656,000 jobs. And native-born Americans lost 1.2 million.

From July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, foreign-born Hispanics gained 98,000 construction jobs. Native-born Hispanics lost 133,000. Black and white U.S. construction workers lost 511,000 jobs.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, from Jan. 1, 2000, to Jan. 1, 2010, 13.1 million immigrants, legal and illegal, entered the United States, a decade in which America lost 1 million jobs.

From 2008 and 2009, the figures are startling. In 24 months, 2.4 million immigrants, legal and illegal, arrived, as U.S. citizens were losing 8.6 million jobs.

Query: Why are we importing a million-plus workers a year when 17 million Americans can’t find work? Whose country is this?

Why do we not declare a moratorium on all immigration, until our unemployment rate falls to 6 or 5 percent? Charity begins at home. Ought we not take care of our own jobless first before we invite in strangers to take their jobs?

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, each year between 300,000 and 400,000 “anchor babies” are born to illegal aliens. These newborns are entitled to citizenship, free health care and education, welfare and food stamps.

Their parents — almost all are poor or working class — rarely pay any state or federal income tax.

How long can we keep granting citizenship and full social welfare benefits to the children of people who break our laws and break into our country or overstay their visas? How long can we keep bringing in workers to take jobs when our unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent? Read More…

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WikiLeaks Fights Big Government

In 2008, when congressional Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program or “TARP,” government officials said the minor details or potential flaws of the legislation weren’t as important as the overall necessity of fixing the financial crisis. In 2010, when some in Congress pushed for an audit of the Federal Reserve, suggesting it might be culpable in the financial crisis–even citing the Fed’s inability to account for $9 trillion in off-sheet balances–government officials said the minor details or potential flaws of the Fed were less important than maintaining its secrecy.

Despite the many examples of fraud and abuse that would occur through TARP, this year its champions declared a victory of sorts, saying that the legislation had saved the economy and that the bailed-out banks had mostly repaid their loans, driving taxpayers’ loss down to only about $25 billion. Yet, CNN reported this month: “The Federal Reserve made $9 trillion in overnight loans to major banks and Wall Street firms during the financial crisis… The amount of cash being pumped out to the financial giants was not previously disclosed.”

One need not be an economist to figure out that a secret $9 trillion loan to corporate America is no minor detail, and it seriously calls into question the political establishment’s TARP narrative. One also need not be an economist to understand why government officials would want to keep backroom deals of this magnitude shrouded in secrecy.

Whether the flaws of TARP, the Fed’s murky policies, or even unpopular legislation like Obamacare-with its hidden mandates, costs, taxes, fines and regulations-the questionable details of government action are often buried in mountains of paperwork or revealed in off-the-record brokering (remember 2009′s “Cornhusker kickback” during the healthcare debate?). Would Americans have been better off not knowing this information? Should these not-so-minor details have remained secret? For our protection and security?

It’s hard to imagine many Americans believing this. Yet, this is largely the logic behind the attacks on Wikileaks. Read More…

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TAC Contributes to Obama’s Grassroots Problem

There is a burgeoning anti-Obama grassroots effort forming on the left and oddly enough, The American Conservative is providing some of the ammunition being levied against the current administration. TAC’s December 2010 cover story “Peace Out,” written by Justin Raimondo, is one of the stories linked in the “Open Letter to the Left Establishment” on ProtestObama.org.

Even before the tax-cut compromise with Republicans, members of the grassroots left were becoming disenchanted with the Obama presidency. Now it seems the president’s constant trampling of values the left holds dear has finally worn the veneer off Hope and Change(TM). Naturally, TAC and its readers can sympathize with disgruntled liberals. Having lived through eight years of Bush, we know what its like to witness beloved principles slowly drain from the minds of our leaders in Washington. It can be argued that the Bush years laid the groundwork for the recent resurgence of true fiscal conservatism. It’ll be interesting to see what, if any, new grassroots political movements form in the wake of the Obama administration.

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Democracy’s Downfall

For those who have read about or vaguely remember the stolid British tribe of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, which held out in its “finest hour,” last week brought a disgusting sight.

Mobs in Parliament Square set fire to the statue of 19th century statesman Lord Palmerston and urinated on the statue of Winston Churchill. Pink Floyd’s kid was swinging by a rope from the Cenotaph that memorializes the 700,000 British dead of the Great War.

At night, hundreds of these anarchists peeled off to appear on Regent Street as the Rolls-Royce carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker-Bowles, entered. The Rolls was pounded with boots, bottles, sticks, fists and paintballs, as the mob howled “Tory scum!” and “Off with their heads!”

A sign was pushed through an open window into Camilla’s side. So precarious was the situation, Charles’ security detail was close to drawing guns to protect the first in line to the throne.

What was the mob protesting? Tuition increases for students who pay less for college than the parents of American students. In Parliament, the ruling coalition’s 83-vote margin, after defections, was cut by three-fourths on the vote to raise the tuition fees.

And Europe is only at the beginning of this age of austerity. Read More…

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Kauffman for Christmas

Astute observers will see from our pop-up ad that supporters who donate $200 or more to The American Conservative this Christmas can get a signed copy of Bill Kauffman’s superb book Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism, a great gift for the season of peace and goodwill.

All contributions of any amount are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law, so this is also a useful way to adjust your year-end taxes while helping TAC continue to deliver the best in traditional conservatism (and much more). Even the smallest gift helps sustain the magazine and website and gives us the chance to bring you even more thought-provoking content in the New Year.

If you enjoyed Jack Hunter’s recent “Conservative Case for WikiLeaks” or Jim Bovard’s “Assassin Nation,” Jordan Smith’s recent essay on John Lennon or George Scialabba’s look at T.S. Eliot, make a gift to TAC so we can keep going strong.

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