State of the Union

Alan Jacobs Returns

After a brief sabbatical from blogging and getting a few book projects into shape ahead of a move to Waco, Texas (where he’s taking up a post as professor of humanities in Baylor’s Honors College), Alan Jacobs is back at TAC. You can find his blog in its customary place on the sidebar of the home page, or right here.

My own blog is still up—including a weekend post continuing a look at libertarianism and property rights—but for the time being I’ll be posting more here at State of the Union.

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Justin Raimondo vs. Jonathan Rauch on Same-Sex Marriage

TAC contributing editor Justin Raimondo will be discussing his essay “The Libertarian Case Against Gay Marriage” and debating Jonathan Rauch of Brookings on the subject next Tuesday, April 16, at American University in Washington, D.C. The debate begins at 8 pm and takes place in AU’s Mary Graydon Center, Rooms 4 & 5.

Here’s a sample of Justin’s argument:

Extending the authority of the state into territory previously untouched by its tender ministrations, legalizing relationships that had developed and been found rewarding entirely without this imprimatur, would wreak havoc where harmony once prevailed. Imagine a relationship of some duration in which one partner, the breadwinner, had supported his or her partner without much thought about the economics of the matter: one had stayed home and tended the house, while the other had been in the workforce, bringing home the bacon. This division of labor had prevailed for many years, not requiring any written contract or threat of legal action to enforce its provisions.

Then, suddenly, they are legally married—or, in certain states, considered married under the common law. This changes the relationship, and not for the better. For now the property of the breadwinner is not his or her own: half of it belongs to the stay-at-home. Before when they argued, money was never an issue: now, when the going gets rough, the threat of divorce—and the specter of alimony—hangs over the relationship, and the mere possibility casts its dark shadow over what had once been a sunlit field.

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W. James Antle’s Devouring Freedom

Longtime American Conservative contributing editor W. James Antle has an important new book out, Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped. Antle’s answer, regular readers will not be surprised to learn, is that it can only be stopped with great effort—and at great political cost:

Government programs are like weeds. If they are merely trimmed, they will grow back. They must be uprooted when possible.

But another lesson is that big government can be curtailed, even when it is not reversed. Not achieving all of your policy objectives doesn’t mean you haven’t accomplished anything important.

Success must also be measured by something more ambitious than prevailing at the ballot box. Of the three reforming Congresses we’ve looked at, the one that was least successful at getting itself reelected scored the most enduring victories against big government. Republicans controlled the Senate for six years under Reagan and the House for twelve years after Gingrich led them to victory in 1994. But they put a smaller dent in big government than the “do- nothing” Republicans of 1947–48, who lost their majority in 1948. By the time the Democrats retook the House in 2006, the congressional GOP was their partner in big government.

You can read a longer excerpt at Human Events, but that too gives only a hint of how carefully Antle has thought the case through—particularly the evidence provided by the suicidal but effective “Do-Nothing Congress” of the Truman era. (As Antle pointed out in an event for the book earlier this week, at the time Truman supported a national healthcare plan—not anything like Obamacare, but rather an outright government-run medical system similar to the British National Health Service. The “Do-Nothing Congress” actually did something quite significant in stopping that.)

Order the book here or through the link in the first paragraph of this post.

And speaking of books, you can support The American Conservative and get a signed (or even personalized) copy of Rod Dreher’s powerful new book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life, by making a donation here. Doing so will help us continue to bring you more of Rod Dreher, James Antle, and all the other incisive writers you’ve come to expect from TAC.

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Summer Interns Wanted

The American Conservative is now accepting applications for summer internships. Join a start-up team dedicated to reestablishing principled, reality-based conservatism in the United States. The tagline on the cover of the magazine best encapsulates the driving motivation behind our efforts: ideas over ideology, principles over party.

Editorial Intern

Editorial interns gain experience in all aspects of producing the website and print magazine. Our priority is intellectual honesty and we are dedicated to producing frank, original arguments based on substantive analysis. This internship offers real experience across all the moving parts of a media organization with exposure to both editorial and marketing.

Editorial Intern responsibilities include:

  • Preparing pieces for the web, writing headlines, curating images
  • Contributing headlines and story ideas
  • Proofreading, editing
  • Conducting research
  • Managing TAC’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr
  • Devising strategies for audience development and engagement
  • Participating in team meetings

Clerical duties, such as answering the phone and handling the mail, are also involved.

All candidates should possess:

  • Eagerness to work tirelessly in a small but ambitious team
  • Superb writing and editing ability
  • Strong communication and organizational skills
  • Love of considered, lengthy journalism as well as an appreciation of horse-race politics
  • Excellent news/culture/opinion judgment
  • A background in intellectual conservatism and keen understanding of The American Conservative’s sensibility.

Interns will join our growing team in Washington, DC, from May through August, and will receive a stipend. College students or recent graduates who would like to apply should send a résumé, cover letter, and two brief writing samples to mallison@theamericanconservative.com by April 5. We’ll post more information about our fall 2013 internships in the coming months.


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Unz on the Minimum Wage, McCarthy at CPAC

Readers in the D.C. area have an opportunity to see The American Conservative‘s publisher and editor this Friday, March 15.

At 10 am, editor Dan McCarthy is appearing on a panel at CPAC to discuss the work of sociologist and traditionalist conservative Robert Nisbet. It’s part of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s Conservative University constellation of events at CPAC, which this year is being held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. If you’re attending CPAC, plan to come to Dan’s panel. (The rest of the Conservative University roster looks impressive as well, with TAC regulars such as Jim Antle, Gerald Russello, and Doug Bandow taking part.)

Then from 12 to 1:30 pm at the Aspen Institute, publisher Ron Unz will be part of a discussion on raising the minimum wage. The Aspen Institute is located at 1 Dupont Circle NW in Washington, DC.

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Jim Antle on ‘Up with Chris Hayes’

This weekend, Chris Hayes invited four conservatives to discuss the state of right-wing media and Breitbart’s ”Friends of Hamas” scoop. TAC’s own Jim Antle was among them, along with Liz Mair, Josh Barro, and Maddie Dupple. Check out the clips:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Read his latest and pre-order his forthcoming book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? here.

(h/t Buzzfeed)

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Spring Interns Wanted

[Re-posted from last week]

The American Conservative is now accepting applications for spring internships. Join a start-up team dedicated to reestablishing principled, reality-based conservatism in the United States. While much of the right-wing media is slanted toward whatever talking points the GOP is favoring that day, the tagline on our cover best encapsulates the driving motivation behind our efforts: ideas over ideology, principles over party.

Editorial Intern

Editorial interns gain experience in all aspects of producing the print magazine and website. Our priority is intellectual honesty and we are dedicated to producing frank, original arguments based on substantive analysis.

Editorial Intern responsibilities include:

  • Preparing pieces for the web, writing headlines, curating images
  • Contributing headlines and story ideas
  • Proofreading, editing
  • Conducting research
  • Participating in team meetings

Clerical duties, such as answering the phone and handling the mail, are also involved.

Social Media Intern

Social media interns will be committed to extending The American Conservative’s reach on the web. This internship offers real experience across all the moving parts of a media organization with exposure to both editorial and marketing.

Social Media Intern responsibilities include:

  • Managing TAC’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
  • Monitoring traffic statistics and staying on top of the latest trends in new media.
  • Devising strategies for audience development and engagement.

All candidates should possess:

  • Eagerness to work tirelessly in a small but ambitious team
  • Superb writing and editing ability
  • Strong communication and organizational skills
  • Love of considered, lengthy journalism as well as an appreciation of horse-race politics
  • Excellent news/culture/opinion judgment
  • A background in intellectual conservatism and keen understanding of The American Conservative’s sensibility.

Interns will join our growing team in Washington, DC, from January through May, and will receive a stipend. College students or recent graduates who would like to apply should send a résumé, cover letter, and two brief writing samples to mallison@theamericanconservative.com by November 16. We’ll post more information about our summer 2013 internships in the coming months.

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Michael Brendan Dougherty, Live at the Apollo

If you’re in New York, join us next Tuesday at the Apollo Theater’s presidential debate party, featuring live jazz and pre-town hall thoughts from our national correspondent Michael Brendan Dougherty:

[The] event will open with a panel discussion moderated by Fordham University Political Science Assistant Professor Christina Greer with political analysis from Michael Brendan Dougherty (The American Conservative), William Tucker (The American Spectator), Herb Boyd (New York Amsterdam News), Armstrong Williams (Sirius XM’s The Power), Esther Armah (WBAI-FM) and Mark Riley (WWRL 1600 AM).

Black Enterprise Business Report‘s Shannon LaNier will also lead an audience Q&A session followed by a viewing of the live televised debate. The night will kick off with live entertainment from Amateur Night at the Apollo soul/jazz violinist artist Charisa and music provided by RhythmAndSoulRadio.com’s The Legendary Chris Washington.

We’ll be on hand to distribute magazines and chat with readers. The event is free – register here.

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Daniel Larison on NPR’s Morning Edition

Senior editor Daniel Larison appeared on Morning Edition today along with Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center in a segment entitled “Where do Romney, Obama Stand on Foreign Policy?”

Here’s the clip:

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A Comment on Comments

An author recently asked me if I thought readers were unsympathetic to his work, judging from the number of critical comments it attracted. Not at all, I assured him: comments are distinctly unrepresentative of an omnibus site’s readership. In his case, the most recent piece he’d written had received ten times as many Facebook “likes” as critical comments, and the story’s overall readership was an order of magnitude greater still.

Most readers — 99 out of a 100 or more — don’t comment. And those who do comment are, often enough, apt to be those who dislike what they’re reading or have agendas of their own to promote. With websites dedicated to a single topic or personality, that’s not such a big problem: only a real troll would go to John Doe’s website just to complain about John Doe. But a site that covers many different interests may find that 1 percent or 5 percent of its readers like one particular niche but are most moved to comment on other topics — those where they find the author’s views least sympathetic. An objection always seems more urgent than a note of agreement.

Add to this a volume of partisans brought out by the election season the way rain brings snails, and you can see that a latitudinarian comments policy won’t do. So while the guidelines Wick Allison outlined awhile back remain in effect, enforcement will be a bit stricter. Fundamentally, comments should be germane, civil, and concise. They should suggest that the commenter is thinking his or her own thoughts — the operative words being not only “his or her own” but “thoughts.” Not attitudes, but ideas: things that deepen and enrich the conversation. Being concise, by the way, means not only keeping comments brief, but not barraging the site with several comments expressing variations on the same theme. Such redundancy is one of things we’ll be policing more closely. Another is the “me too” post that only recapitulates something that’s already been said. In general, the longer a thread gets, the higher we’d like to raise the bar for further comments.

These considerations won’t affect most long-time commenters (with a few exceptions) and they shouldn’t stifle independently minded, good-faith commenters of any sort, as long as their remarks add something new to the conversation. But it’s clear that a less rigorously moderated approach can lead to misunderstandings. And in an age of so much oversimplification and flattening of discourse, that’s something to be avoided even at some cost to participation.

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