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Mark Levin’s Full-Throated Tribal Yell

Somebody will do a Ph.D thesis in political science one day on the psychology of this stuff. [1]Follow the link to hear the full clip. It’s delightful. Summary here, from that link:

Mark Levin went after NRO writer Patrick Brennan for taking cheap shots at Sarah Palin over her NRA speech this weekend.

“Here’s what you don’t understand pal,” Levin said to Brennan, who referred to Palin as “no longer a serious political contender.”

“She’s the most sought after endorsement around, period, in Republican circles…and she’s fighting like hell to save the country.”

Levin went on, “you may not agree with her — you may not agree with how she speaks or what she says but SCREW YOU! You do nothing.”

Levin then slammed Brennan by saying “you sit there on your ass and you type away at your keyboard and then you go to your little social circles and you’re proud of yourself, probably sending the link all over the place. Who have you helped? Who have you supported? What have you done?”

Next Levin took aim at Rod Dreher at The American Conservative, calling him a “nasty creep” for basically writing that Palin’s ‘baptism’ remark was blasphemy and suggesting she was comparing torture to a “holy sacrament of the Christian faith.”

“Everybody knows what she meant,” Levin said, “everybody knows it was a laugh line.” Levin continues, “But Sarah Palin is easy pickins so they pile on. Tough guy, huh?”

Levin points out that Sarah Palin is out there “breaking her neck trying to get conservatives elected and trying to keep the base strong” and she’s dismissed by people on “our side.”

“This is how “our side” treats “our side,”” Levin adds. “You’ll never seen the left or Democrats do that to a woman on their side ever!”

Imagine the kind of conservative bubble in which the thought of Sarah Palin as a “serious political contender” is considered incontestable. Imagine the kind of conservative bubble in which holding a female who once ran for vice president of the United States responsible for something she said in a public speech is considered an act of sexism and disloyalty.

To be clear, I’m not offended by this freakshow vulgarian in the least. But as an inveterate rubbernecker, I am amazed by the undying power of the Georgetown Cocktail Party meme on the populist right. They plainly believe that the only reason any conservative would question their dogmas is because of immoral reasons (disloyalty, cowardice, snobbery, a desire to suck up to the Enemy, etc.). This is not how you endure as a political movement, and not how you build up a party. Everybody on the outside of the bubble just looks in and marvels at the strange habits and exotic customs on display.

Note to Conservatism, Inc.: Mark Levin isn’t the future.

UPDATE: This just in my mailbox:

I’m a born-again Christian, Conservative, Tea Partier. I was not offended by Gov. Palin’s speech. I wish she would run for president! And, I wish that the Republican Party was lead by people who were like Mark Levin, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, etc. Maybe you should get your head out of the “Beltway” and listen to more of us in the middle part of America.

[Name edited to protect the guilty.]

Madam, if only I lived inside the Beltway and not in a town of 1,700 in the rural South, I wouldn’t have to commute so far to join the Georgetown cocktail party circuit.

246 Comments (Open | Close)

246 Comments To "Mark Levin’s Full-Throated Tribal Yell"

#1 Comment By simon94022 On May 1, 2014 @ 11:05 am

Levin and his the talk radio/FOX/MSNBC bleaters are to politics what advertising is to great art, E! is to serious film, ESPN is to sports, or MTV is to beautiful music.

But hey, isn’t this what we should expect from a society without theology or geometry, where “the gods of chaos, lunacy, and bad taste gained ascendancy”?

#2 Comment By KC On May 1, 2014 @ 11:07 am

After the humiliating, bankrupting failures of 2 wars & the financial collapse, I fully expected wailing, ranting, raging & heads on pikes. Instead not a peep! No one going to jail much less even facing charges!

But the ranting & raging ramped up, just not about any of the real debacles of our time. No accountability & no interest in it; just move on seems to be the sentiment.

#3 Comment By VikingLS On May 1, 2014 @ 11:08 am

BTW Why is it that people like Levine, Palin and their supporters are allowed to constantly trash elected officials from their own party as out of touch Washington insiders, but if someone so much as breathes a word against one of them suddenly that person is some kind of traitor undermining the noble fight to drive back the forces of Mordor aka the Democrats?

#4 Comment By Float the Boat On May 1, 2014 @ 11:13 am

Yeah, Palin is the perfect neocon tool. Dumb, malleable. Ready to have her foreign policy dictated to her by her intellectuatl betters in New York and Washington.

It’s no coincidence that Bill Kristol is an ven bigger Palinite than this Levin guy. Kristol may even be the original Palinite.

Tea Party Forever. Palin has nothing to do with it.

#5 Comment By Adam On May 1, 2014 @ 11:18 am

“I guess we have some work to do to rid ourselves of the liberal lite option.”

Might I suggest maybe some sort of re-education camp? Maybe we just torture everyone that doesn’t agree? I can think of some prime historical examples. Is that what this faction of “conservative” wants? I am not much into name calling but the commenters prior that mention the word “fascist” may be onto something.

#6 Comment By Matt On May 1, 2014 @ 11:23 am

One of Sarah Palin’s real talents (in my opinion) is her sense of comic timing. Most politicians don’t have anything approaching Mrs. Palin’s talent at one-liners. Unfortunately, sometimes jokes fall flat, even to an otherwise friendly audience. This is one of those instances. I don’t see how it does anybody any good to double down. What does it matter she’s an otherwise good conservative (or not)? What does it matter if the “other side” is worse? It was a bad joke – the best thing to do is to own up to that fact.

#7 Comment By Squeaker Boehner On May 1, 2014 @ 11:32 am

These Levinite commenters are hysterical. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the belligerent stupidity of talk radio fans.

#8 Comment By charles cosimano On May 1, 2014 @ 11:42 am

“She has also been quick to exploit anti-Muslim bias and ignorance, anti-gay bigotry, and anti-immigrant animus, ensuring that Republicans will always have a home for cruelty. She’s fine with torture and war, not that she’d ever put on a uniform herself”

All good things and reason to vote for her. The only problem is that voice! And then there is the little matter of having no administrative skills, but when has that ever stopped anyone from being President.

#9 Comment By Sean Scallon On May 1, 2014 @ 11:52 am

“Levin then slammed Brennan by saying “you sit there on your ass and you type away at your keyboard.”

As opposed to sitting on his arse and shouting into a microphone for three hours. How is Levin any more productive “fighter for the cause” let alone being productive member of society? It amazes me to this day that some people (Left or Right) feel they need for someone to yell at them, heighten their fears and stoke their anger and outrage from the media to back up what they believe in. Isn’t just thinking and learning good enough?

#10 Comment By Bugg On May 1, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

When you coursen the culture, you no longer can claim the high retorical ground.

I’ve read Jose Rodriguez’s book about using enhanced interrogation. I support it, as he used it in specific limited circumstances. The wars themselves-no.Different thread, different day.

But to joke about it is really beyond the pale(and something a serious man like Rodriguez himself would never do). If torture is a basis for flippant humor, then so-called conservatives have made anything and everything potential joke material. Don’t complain about Palin being the subject of (more) pornography, and get ready for some wonderful Kermit Gosnell abortion jokes. No doubt all a hoot. So the next time Jon Stewart or Bill Maher defend something as only a joke, Palin choose the low road here,enjoy the mud.

#11 Comment By Dan Phillips On May 1, 2014 @ 12:29 pm

I have little use for Levin who is a warmonger, a Lincolnphile who misunderstands the Constitution and a ranter who attacks all the wrong people on the right – Paul, Woods, etc. But in a case like Palin, who even though she is wrong on several things has all the right enemies (liberals, atheists, elitist Blue State snobs, etc.) I do think you have to be careful and clear with your criticisms lest you sound like one of the right enemies. Her statement struck me as the kind of over-the-top thing you would say, like a tough on crime candidate might say about law enforcement, that you don’t really mean but is intended to send a general message of toughness. For that reason, I think some of the rightish criticism of Palin’s remarks have been overwrought. Just because she said baptism doesn’t make it sacriligious. I mean do we really want to sound like a bunch of left-wing PC hysterics who go nuts over every verbal miscue?

#12 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 1, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

— Isaac Asimov

We must take it seriously when someone displays her incompetence as clearly and openly as Palin (and others) has done.

We live in the (arguably) most challenging society in human history. We are called to an oath of citizenship most barely understand. We are called to not just tolerate, not just share space, but to respect as peers and partners people who represent identities for which in the past (and recent past) our predecessors held and practiced violent hostility.

Pluralism looks like chaos to the eyes of those whose identity, politics, ideology or religion demands them to take a stance of superiority over all others.

Ignore the “American Dream” for a moment. Join me in focusing on an American Ideal: a system and structure of government designed to facilitate non-violent transitions of power amongst political and ideological antagonists. The suggestion of a quick or automatic citation of violence against perceived external enemies is a very short step from having that same thought towards domestic adversaries.

I don’t hate Palin. I have antipathy towards her positions, strong disrespect for her apparent rational skills, and no expectation of her political integrity. I have no doubt she’d hold similar attitudes towards me. My personal view of my oath of citizenship means that I would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her to fight a direct attack on the US. I’d give her my last ammunition and share my last rations with her. Should we prevail, I’d go right back to opposing her in every way politically and ideologically.

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say: You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.

— “The American President”, by Aaron Sorkin

#13 Comment By Bagby On May 1, 2014 @ 12:47 pm


I suppose it depends on where you are coming from that determines if Dreher is addressing a “bubble” or “the conservatives.” If Dreher was talking about this, for instance, at a Baptist church in the South, they may assume he is some kind of liberal for not backing Palin on all things like Levin does. I do assume Dreher looks radical and alien to a crowd that gets its information and philosophy from Fox News, yet the Fox crowd looks more like an isolated and narrow-minded bubble to me than Dreher does.

If “conservative” means whatever the Republicans pitch or whatever Hannity or Levin blab about on the radio, I must say that this seems to be the definition of an echo-chamber or a bubble. If “conservative” means tradition, culture, stability, family, church, property, Weaver, and Lasch, I must say that Fox Media, Levin, and the others in the media bubble do not seem to represent these things to me. Fox talking heads are better at looking angry and indignant than at positive illustration or any positive connection in the mind. I understand why they rant and lament, but they are defined by their enemies, who they have pledged to fight to the death. They are better at the grotesque, like Palin’s torture baptisms, than at pointing towards solutions. Dreher, on the other hand, is a conservative writer for those who care for tradition, culture, literature, and how to survive as a traditionalist in a hostile political and cultural environment. He does not have much to offer, so far as I can tell, to those who enjoy that sick and disturbing pleasure of listening to talking heads wring their hands, spit invective, and lament. The division in style and substance seems as clear to me as the division between creation and destruction, or as clear as new growth versus purification and decay. Dreher defends the holy against the torturers. I can’t get that anywhere else.

#14 Comment By Sean Scallon On May 1, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

“They are fascists. Out group to demonize-check; in favor of government when it represses out groups-check; in favor of no restraint on official power-check; uses powerful symbols of nationalism and religion-check; in favor of concentration of wealth and power with a sprinkling of bread and circuses for the masses that support their regime-check. Seeks to repress honest disagreement among allied beliefs-check. Effective propaganda techniquest-check.”

The term “fascism” gets abused a lot but there are some truths in your description. I would also add a veneration of marshal values i.e. the military when your “side” is in power or private militias when your side is not in power (Brownshirts, Blackshirts, Greenshirts, Arrow Cross are examples of such. Hatred of any kinds of elites and intellectuals and “snobs” identified by propagandists as their enemies (As Levine did with Rod) Any before anyone throws out Levine’s religion and Palin’s dispensationalist heresy about Israel, I would counter Jabotinsky and other within the current Israeli body politic which would also fit under a broad definition of fascism as well.

For all their talk of freedom and liberty, the reality is they have no tolerance for any kind of dissent or questioning as displayed by their comments to this thread and in their local communities would certainly try to quash it (we’re hurting the “team” apparently). Remember, when Palin became mayor of Wasilla one the first things she tried to do was to try and ban certain books from the town library. What they want is for the freedom from Feds to leave them alone so they can create communities of their own comformity, i.e the conformity they approve of. I see this too often in Wisconsin where Republican lawmakers in Madison, those champions of “local government” try to create laws that nullify local ordinances of cities, towns and villages and counties for the benefit of special interests. In the case of the “base”, however, it’s more of a case of the sum of all fears, some legit and some imagined, which drives their opinions or makes them fans of the propagandist. Once upon a time Mark Levin made fans talking about dogs. Now he makes them just like every other “conservative” talk show host: invective. Rod is just another apostate to hate.

That’s the danger of the “Benedict Option”. When you create your “drop out” community, makes sure there’s room for a question or two every now and then.

#15 Comment By jamie On May 1, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

Glaivester as always is very well spoken:

Currently, though, it seems to me the main issue for me is the rabid elite hatred for the historical American nation (yes, that does mean majority white).

This kinda leads into M_Young’s point that people are throwing around the “fascism” word a lot, in that fascist movements tend to have a sort of dualistic mentality about patriotism — they love their country, they just hate and despise who’s running it and who’s winning all the elections. They love the soul and hate the body, as these are separate things for some reason.

All I can say is that this country you’re in now, the one with Barack Obama and the NSA and the drones, the bombs pointed at Iran and the idiots on TV, the Mexicans clogging our streets and Queer studies majors clogging our universities, this is America. It is the only America that exists, there is no America to love apart from this one. It’s the same America that won World War II, the same one that tamed the West, the same one that wintered at Valley Forge, the same one that bombed Iraq. There is no “other” one, some better, ideal one, one we can go back to, there is no “historical” America apart from this one. Where we are now is not the result of a horrible accident, of the “wrong people” taking over, some hijacking of the American Dream led by Walter Benjamin and Earl Warren. Everything we are now is the fruit of the efforts of Real Americans, and that includes “elite” hatred of historical America. Elites have always hated historical America, our revolution was led by a bunch of elites that hated historical America.

This is not to say that you cannot argue for the things you want, that you can have a moral perspective and even wish to see people’s attitudes returned to an older way of seeing things, but that’s all that you’re going to change, the attitudes — the world will stay the same, the Mexicans will remain in their bodegas on Washington Blvd. despite the historical American nation. And further, it is so very wrong to say that a desire to culturally retrench is the only authentic or “historically American” perspective, or that some people “hate America” because they have certain beliefs about immigration, or multiculturalism, or economics. That’s a fascist attitude.

If offers some really marginal policy prescriptions — sentencing reform is great, but their really aren’t a lot of people in the penn for minor drug violations.

[2] If we’re going be people that have been locked up for non-violent drug crimes, that’s something like 30% of state prison admissions in 2011 and around 50% of federal prison admissions in 2012.

My friend’s daughter just defended her dissertation on the effects of anime on the state of women in the U.S. workplace.

Dave, all I can tell you is that the fetishization of the female form in anime and the prevalence of the “bridge bunny” character trope in the Macross Saga and Irresponsible Captain Tylor has done more than a little to warp the minds of my coworkers. (And we’re not even going to go into Revolution Girl Utena and Bubblegum Crisis, though an appreciation of Evangelion from an orthodox Christian perspective might be interesting.)

In short, you’ve got some stones to be offering dissertation critiques in a 200-word blog comment, let alone to use the mere fact as evidence of some sort of broad cultural development.

Bubbles are bubbles. Confirmation bias is confirmation bias.

And this argument, used as a defense, is solipsism. Words mean things, things happen in the real world, things that happen are available to us all, “worldviews” do not control us or condition objective reality.

#16 Comment By Tom T On May 1, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

To be honest, I had no idea who Mark Levin was. I googled him and my first reaction, as wrong as it may be, was “Oh, someone else with the angry Boomer schtick”.
I haven’t heard him but I’m going to guess; same childlike hyperbolic reactions as all the others, same completely un-nuanced view of the world, same underlying fear of anything new or different. Basically the same junk that’s been marketed as conservative talk radio for the past 20+ years.

#17 Comment By jamie On May 1, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

I googled him and my first reaction, as wrong as it may be, was “Oh, someone else with the angry Boomer schtick”.

Yeah but he’s really influential, mainly because he was Rush’s on-air law expert for many years and he got his first big break in the New York radio market in 2002, in a block right after Hannity — granted NYC is a long drive from Georgetown, but WABC still strikes me as a very white-shoe engagement as far as populist rabble go.

He’s big on the Islamofascist stuff and in NY after 9/11 you can imagine that sort of thing sold a lot of Doans.

Fun fact: Levin was chief of staff to Ed Meese in the second Reagan administration. I admire the conservative movement’s ability to keep its nomenklatura in circulation, the Democratic party just doesn’t work that way, not with paying gigs at least.

#18 Comment By Jake Lukas On May 1, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

Well, I have to admit that this little exercise was amusing, even if only appealed to my baser sensibilities. I hope you don’t do this again for at least a year. In the meantime, do you think ‘Noodle Boy’ will stick?

#19 Comment By Larry On May 1, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

I find the Levine folk commenting interesting.

They get upset about a conservative “attacking” a conservative just before they, in turn, attack a conservative.

They attack Rod for being in the “establishment” or Georgetown parties, etc yet their two heroes, Palin and Levin, make their money from various establishment entities like Fox News.

Their heroes consist of someone who quit her job because it was too hard and someone who has a radio show based out of a room in his house. I wonder if Levin’s mom brings him milk and cookies during commercial breaks. Levin’s show is so bad that he can’t even get higher ratings than Michael Savage. Is it any wonder he is so cranky?

#20 Comment By M_Young On May 1, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

“Ignore the “American Dream” for a moment. Join me in focusing on an American Ideal: a system and structure of government designed to facilitate non-violent transitions of power amongst political and ideological antagonists”

That ideal was specifically set in the context of people sharing an ethno-national identity (again, see Federalist 2, which as far as substance is the very first in that series.

Franklin Evans seems to think, like so many liberals, that his position is neutral. It is not. Forcing state recognition of SSM, for example, really is changing and institution — diluting its meaning just as surely as allowing Lodi wine to be included in the Napa appellation. Forcing people to sell or rent to people they would rather not is a cost to those forced to sell or rent against their will. Now, such actions may be just according to your lights, but others might disagree. Further, when it comes to immigration, there is a definite political cost to the receiving population. Immigrant (and first generation) groups stick together and elect their own. In California this is now eating into white, long time Democrats


And that is hardly the first time (ironically, a couple of well respected white Democrats who were vastly more qualified than there opponents have lost out to Republican Vietnamese block voting).

So no, ‘sharing’ is not a neutral value — the benefits to some groups, however just they might be reckoned, come at the cost to other groups, mostly the more vulnerable members of those other groups.

#21 Comment By Rusty On May 1, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

Noodle Boy. Damn.

No, seriously; clutching sides here.

Rod, I am waaaaay late to this sh*tshow. But the comments thus far compel me to say this: it’s no secret that you and I disagree on, well, most of the things you choose to write about. That I keep reading should tell you everything. You and your readers are interesting, thoughtful, sincere.

These TalkRadio yahoos? Please.

Noodle Boy. Damn.

#22 Comment By M_Young On May 1, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

“If we’re going be people that have been locked up for non-violent drug crimes, that’s something like 30% of state prison admissions in 2011 and around 50% of federal prison admissions in 2012.”

Uh, table 8 of your link shows that drug related incarcerations are about 25% of state prison admissions, and that drug possession admissions are under 10%. Now, you may want to legalize drug trafficking, but don’t pretend that simple possession is a significant part of the prison population. And that’s not taking into account the likely pleading down of trafficking or even some minor violent felonies to simple possession charges.

As the LA lawyer Susan Estrich put it in regard to the ‘non-violent’ parolee who killed Lily Burk five years ago

“The truth, for what it’s worth, is probably somewhere in between: What shows up on a person’s criminal record is generally the “bargained down for a guilty plea” version of what he’s actually done. The issue facing the system now is not who to hold longer, but who to let go. This guy, if the police are right, will be lucky to rot in hell. What we do with tens of thousands of others, one or more of whom could turn into him, depends on whether we’re willing to swallow hard and let out the white-collar scumbags who don’t threaten our kids in order to keep in the lowlifes who do.” [my emphasis]

#23 Comment By Peter H On May 1, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

Now if only we can get the Avett Brothers to write a song called “Noodle Boy” . . . .

#24 Comment By Dan Phillips On May 1, 2014 @ 5:53 pm

I wrote my comment above before I looked back at the past comments. Since it was my first time looking at the post, it’s hard to go back through 200+ comments. But this thread illustrates an important point I have tried to make before, especially with Daniel Larison.

We may not like the fact that modern American political discourse has come down to Red Team vs. Blue Team, but it has. So commentary has to take account of that lest you be misunderstood. As a paleocon, I don’t have much use for the entire Conservative Inc. establishment because I think they promote a largely inauthentic brand of conservatism, but on a public forum I’m not going to say “conservatives are a bunch of idiots” because it will be misunderstood and mainstream conservatives will be able to use it to mischaracterize me as some sort of liberal or RINO. Why would I want that? I am always very careful to make it clear that my criticism is from their right. Then it becomes a matter of who has the more authentic version of conservatism, which is the debate I want, rather than them accusing me of being a RINO, which is not the debate I want. Rightist critics of modern conservatism would do well to do the same, lest they sound like and get lumped in with the Brooks/Frum/etc. moderation chorus.

That said, I still think there is some feigned outrage and piling on going on here that is unbecoming. If a tough-on-crime candidate says he is going to lock the criminals up and “throw away the key,” does anyone actually believe he intends to throw away the key? Of course not. So does anyone really think Palin supports indiscriminate waterboarding or whatever? I hate to say it, but Levin is right about this. It was a throw away laugh line. An ill-advised one but a throw away line nontheless. Do we really want to act like a bunch of hysterics with our panties in a wad. We should just make a careful criticism and be done with it.

I am reminded of a stock line from Pat Buchanan’s stump speech where he said “lock and load” and “ride to the sound of the guns.” I remember at the time a bunch of liberal hysterics crying “Oh my God! He’s calling for armed insurrection.” Yeah whatever. Get a grip. Let’s not be one of those guys.

#25 Comment By GWJ On May 1, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

BD, you asked for response from Palin defenders, so here is mine.

Palin is “out there fighting” to help the conservative movement by – as you said – rallying support behind the candidates she believes will act to the benefit of the conservative movement. And contrary to what you think, two-thirds of the candidates Palin endorsed beat the Democrats. Keep in mind, Karl Rove and his organizations actively distributed opposition research on those candidates. I specifically remember Rove saying, “You got them through the primary, now you get them elected.” Also remember that one of her losses (I know of) was by less than 0.5% in a general election with a third party (former GOP) candidate.

If you dislike Cruz because he is “divisive,” then you and I (and Palin, probably) will probably never agree.

After all, Cruz has not done anything controversial or divisive. He is probably the most articulate and likable conservative in public office. The reason he is vilified by the Democrats and Republicans is because he is effective. What is your big complaint against Cruz? It seems that the only people who dislike him are the people who don’t care about actually accomplishing anything, but would prefer to hold onto their own power.

Anyway, Palin’s accomplishments are not being hidden from you. Others in this thread have posted more extensively on them, but you don’t seem like the kind of thoughtful conservative to care. You seem far too content bashing those who disagree with you on policy as “anti-Muslim,” “anti-immigrant” and “anti-gay bigot[s].” That sounds like the ranting of “a vile, inconsiderate, unintelligent thug of a person” more than anything Palin has said.

#26 Comment By GWJ On May 1, 2014 @ 6:30 pm


Whatever your opinion of which “bubble” you find more marginalized is interesting, but does not change the fact of my complaint against Mr. Dreher.

He feigns indignation at being called a RINO on the grounds it is wrong to call out thouse who disagree with you as “frauds” in under the conservative name while at the same time dismissing Levin (his listeners and the like) as frauds to conservatism and labeling them as “the populist right.” Regardless of what you believe, he is being hypocritical and seemingly hoping to non-substantively disregard his critics by arguing that their conservative credentials are not good so therefore their opinions are irrelevant to his conservatism.

I also disagree with your assessment that there is a clear “division between creation and destruction” represented by Dreher and Levin, at least as you have cast it.

From this, my first introduction, Dreher is on his third article bemoaning the “Sacrilegious Sarah Palin” for a joke. Rather than focus on anything of substance dealing with the degradation of the culture, Mr. Dreher seems pleased with destroying someone who is actually attempting to reach out and impact the culture – and more directly the laws.

On the other hand, Levin has pointed out problems with current law and offered his remedies. Whether or not you agree, he is at least attempting to create a positive change in the area of his expertise.

I’m not going to descend into bashing you or Mr. Dreher, because I think we are (generally) on the same “side” and shouldn’t waste our efforts trashing one another. Dreher is clearly more focused on influencing the culture, though his effectiveness and priorities I may disagree with, but by in large I think we want the same things.

[nfr: well, yes, if there’s one thing you can say about this blog, it’s that I never, ever have a word to say about cultural degradation. I must make amends. Alas, though, you are wrong to say that I fear being called a RINO. I am not a Republican. I changed my registration to independent in 2011. — rd]

#27 Comment By jamie On May 1, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

Franklin Evans seems to think, like so many liberals, that his position is neutral.

I’m not sure if that’s true, but even if it is, it’s hardly relevant.


Now, you may want to legalize drug trafficking, but don’t pretend that simple possession is a significant part of the prison population. And that’s not taking into account the likely pleading down of trafficking or even some minor violent felonies to simple possession charges.

A lot of possession charges go up to trafficking on account of the amount seized, without consideration of intent. I wouldn’t necessarily legalize all these acts, but I wouldn’t imprison them to the extent they are, either (I thought the TAC article made this distinction quite clearly).

Also what the heck kind of DA lets a perp plead a violent felony down to simple possession? Cite me something on this! Also, even if this does happen, doesn’t this argument imply that I should consider such people to be violent criminals, despite the fact that they have been formally acquitted of the violent crime? You can’t count someone who pleads a violent crime down to a non-violent one as a violent criminal, because, well, he’s innocent.

Estrich’s argument is typical police-state logic: the police caught him, police just know who’s innocent and guilty, damn evidence, damn courts, damn rights. Anything less than making our perp “rot in hell” would be a sin.

#28 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 1, 2014 @ 9:23 pm

At last! A topic that attracts more comment than gay marriage! (And is even less critical to our survival as a nation, or a species).

#29 Comment By Tom D On May 1, 2014 @ 10:48 pm

“After all, Cruz has not done anything controversial or divisive. He is probably the most articulate and likable conservative in public office. The reason he is vilified by the Democrats and Republicans is because he is effective.”

Wow, really? Let’s start with that last part first, about Cruz being effective — if that’s the case, please cite something that he has actually accomplished besides self-promotion, ie some piece of legislation he has successfully gotten through? He prattles on about repealing Obamacare — in fact, that is his signature issue — but I notice it is still the law of the land.

As for the rest…articulate, yes. Not controversial or divisive…not a chance! Of course he’s both controversial and divisive — and he is both of these absolutely by his own intention, as being these things is the best way to promote himself.

As for how liberals feel about him, I’d say that is a mixed bag. On the one hand, he’s bad for the country as he makes it harder to govern. On the other hand, he’s good for the Democratic party by his efforts to stab his own party in the back. Since country should come before party, in the end he’s a net negative.

#30 Comment By Sean Scallon On May 1, 2014 @ 10:54 pm

“Palin is “out there fighting” to help the conservative movement.”

Yes, by endorsing candidates who take out actual conservatives like Walter Jones Jr. Color me unimpressed.

What it comes down to is this, in for actual, non-ideological conservatism to exist and be viable in 21st Century, the “movement” needs to go away. Because it is no longer a movement. It is a scam designed to separate people from their money to perpetuate the worthless careers of a lot of political operatives and media figures and campaign consultants and outright shysters who leach themselves to the very system they supposedly are opposed to.

#31 Comment By df On May 1, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

[NFR: you should see the Levin listener I’m not publishing. You are seeing the cream of the crop. — rd]

Rod, please, please PUBLISH IT ALL!!!!!!

[NFR: Not going to do it. People keep telling me that one thing they treasure about this site is the civility of the com boxes. I don’t want to threaten that, even for the sake of having a laugh at the crackpot Levin fans who come here and rant about how “douchey” (actual word, heard more than once) I am. — RD]

#32 Comment By Lord Karth On May 2, 2014 @ 2:17 am

Teapot, meet Tempest.

Tempest, meet Teapot.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

#33 Comment By Richard Parker On May 2, 2014 @ 3:17 am

@stillaninterestedobserver April 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm

“…they do this all day. When they should be working. But as they’re posting all this, they’re not.”

Ummm, because there are no jobs?

#34 Comment By Quiddity On May 2, 2014 @ 3:21 am

I can only imagine what Rod’s email Inbox is like following the tirade by Levin.

Plenty of ferocious, angry, insulting diatribes. I’d probably delete everything that comes in and not bother to see which are reasonable or not.

Rod’s made of sterner stuff than me if he can handle the abuse.

#35 Comment By GWJ On May 2, 2014 @ 10:28 am

Mr. Dreher, I was not saying that you do not address the culture just that the series of articles on Palin has not shown it. I also noted that it seems improvident to devote three articles to this one joke from Sarah Palin, even if you find it distasteful.

As for my “RINO comment,” I have to clarify. My use of the term RINO was merely as shorthand for explaining the hypocrisy I noticed from your article and many of these comments. To rephrase my point more accurately:

In this article you became defensive about being essentially labeled a “Georgetown Cocktail Party” conservative by Mr. Levin. And you rightfully note that it is wrong to dismiss the opinions of others by implying “immoral reasons” like “disloyalty, cowardice, snobbery, a desire to suck up to the Enemy, etc.” On the other hand, you non-substantively disregard Levin and the like as “the populist right.”

TomD, yes Ted Cruz really is effective and his is not nearly as controversial or divisive as you, the GOP establishment, and the left pretend.

To explain, Ted Cruz has been effective in the sense that he proposed the only method of reversing Obamacare that could work and making republicans take responsibility for wanting the debt increase.

That’s the reasons Republicans like McConnell, McCain, and Graham worked tirelessly to get in front of the cameras and paint Cruz as an extremist and his ideas as unworkable. You seem comfortable going along with their narrative, so I doubt my mentioning it will change your mind, but I had to try.

Your complaint that he “stab[s] his own party in the back” and is “bad for the country” seems completely backward. Cruz is the one who was willing to stand up for the good of the country as many of the politicians (apparently hoping to protect their own images) in the GOP were stabbing him in the back.

Sean Scallion, I am not very familiar with Jones, but it doesn’t change my point. It is all too easy to sit back and criticize. Palin, whether you like her choices or not, is trying to promote candidates who she believes will act based on conservative principles and thereby benefit the country.

[NFR: Ted Cruz, who led his party into a ditch by insisting on the shutdown, which was unpopular, is “effective”? If I were James Carville, I would try to encourage more and more Republicans to believe that. — RD]

#36 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 2, 2014 @ 10:49 am

M_Young: Your attempt at rebuttal to my “American Ideal” premise was asinine. Truly, and with sincere respect, I expect intellectual rigor from you on most things.

Citations of cultural sensibilities from 240 years ago are beyond the non sequitur outer limits.

I love debate. I love to learn. Attack my actual premise at its abstract level, and I’ll pay close attention and be grateful for it. Project the lexicon and cultural milieu from the Founders to the present, and you’ll get nothing but scorn in return.

#37 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 2, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

The guiding caution for anyone who invests strongly in their party affiliation should be a mantra one can find amongst the committed independents. My own phrasing:

The quicker I find agreement with a statement, the slower I should be to use it as a primary reason to give that candidate my vote.

That’s counter-intuitive, to be sure. There are two motivations for it, of equal importance and sometimes of equal validity.

1) Do I really know why? Am I fully informed (as much as one can be) of the details and consequences?

2) When was the last time I had that strong an agreement and the candidate actually followed through with it?

It’s very easy to be fooled on the first one. It’s very easy to take the second one as cynical.

In modern politics, the greatest enemy of any candidate is an informed electorate. Appealing to their emotions becomes proportionately more difficult the better they are informed.

Yeah, more cynicism. Think about it.

#38 Comment By jamie On May 2, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

[NFR: Not going to do it. People keep telling me that one thing they treasure about this site is the civility of the com boxes. I don’t want to threaten that, even for the sake of having a laugh at the crackpot Levin fans who come here and rant about how “douchey” (actual word, heard more than once) I am. — RD]

You could always upload them to some Google Doc somewhere where we can peruse at our leisure.

#39 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 2, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

To explain, Ted Cruz has been effective in the sense that he proposed the only method of reversing Obamacare that could work and making republicans take responsibility for wanting the debt increase.

Yes, and the poor man was probably sincere, but what he did was very nearly reveal that reversing Obamacare would be a disaster, for the country and for the GOP, the only method of doing so would do lasting damage quite apart from the damage of the reversal itself, and the debt is a much more complex problem that the GOP talking heads have admitted (although some of them know it and are cynically pretending).

And now we find that indeed, the sharp uptick in the debt over the past five years was directly related to being on the brink of Great Depression 2.0, as the economy begins to pick up the deficit is dropping rapidly, and we’re going to be able to handle it, also, the debt we took on probably did save us from another Depression with 30 percent unemployment.

#40 Comment By M_Young On May 3, 2014 @ 3:57 am

“Project the lexicon and cultural milieu from the Founders to the present, and you’ll get nothing but scorn in return.”

That’s a bizarre statement, since most of the folks touting an ‘American ideal’ quote, at the very least, Jefferson (selectively of course).

The Federalist papers are studied in just about every course on American political theory. They are seen, rightly or wrongly, as the blueprint for the stable polity that can handle transitions of government non-violently. (Why this is an ‘American’ ideal escapes me — what democracy doesn’t try to set up a stable method of transferring power?)

Now, if you hold that the ‘American Ideal’ is somehow embodied in the Constitution and the Federalist papers, you have to accept that 240 year old cultural milieu as being relevant. And that milieu included the prevalence of the thought embodied in Federalist 2 (and numerous other laws down through at least 3/4 of the polities history). The founders thought of the nation (which it was at the time) as having a very specific culture. The very reason for uniting the separate colonies was the cultural and of course ethnic similarities. This isn’t some side show, or mere sensibility. It was in the very first substantive Federalist. If you go on to praise Madison’s machinery in Federalist 10, you first have to take account of Federalist 2, the background against which he was working.

Of course, maybe you believe in an abstract, untethered from history, ‘Ideal’ that guides us. That may be correct, but in that case all bets are off.

#41 Comment By GWJ On May 3, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

Siarlys Jenkins, if you are supposed to be a conservative you are doing a poor job of acting like it. If not, you should like the Ted Cruz boogeyman you’ve created. Since you’ve accepted most of the liberal premises on most of these issues I suppose it doesn’t matter; I’ll just have to give a more thorough response.

You say, Ted Cruz “very nearly reveal that reversing Obamacare would be a disaster, for the country and for the GOP.” Well, if we accept your premise that “reversing Obamacare would be a disaster,” then shouldn’t you, as a citizen and truth-seeking conservative, be thankful that Ted Cruz quickly brought it to light? Are you so concerned with party politics that you would have the Republicans gain at the expense of the nation? That’s quite disappointing.

Then again, your assertion is baseless, at very least.

In what way could you possibly claim the repeal of a law that had not even been implemented would have been disastrous? Even today, with a few million people having signed up for Obamacare under penalty of law, I doubt you could convincingly argue that repealing Obamacare would be disastrous.

Next, you claim that even the very method Cruz proposed for reversal “would do lasting damage.” This assertion is not just unfounded but counterfactual. Even if you find every other program to be sacrosanct you should praise Cruz, since he reasonably proposed nothing be touched but Obamacare.

If not for the extremist progressive GOP senators (McCain, Graham, McConnell, etc.) rushing to join in support of Obamacare the “damaging” method would have quickly succeeded as it was clear that Democrats were receiving massive pressure for their obstinate unwillingness to compromise, just to defend the unpopular Obamacare.

Moving on, you also uncritically accept the liberal premise that our debt spending has prevented another great depression. This is historically untrue.

The biggest economic downturn in U.S. history, the Great Depression, happened alongside a major increase in debt spending. Up to that point almost every (relatively small) debt was related to a war. Do you really believe it was a coincidence that the first time we used debt spending to spur economic recovery happens to be the first time that we see a depression last for over a decade?

Even in the current situation, with over $800 billion in stimulus, the best proponents of the Keynesian myth can argue is that without it (and over $8 trillion total debt spending) the official unemployment might have been higher than it’s already prolonged high.

Finally, it is an unreasonable assumption that repaying the debt should be of little concern because the economy is (ever so slowly) growing. Considering so much of the growth is tied into unsustainable inflationary policy of the Federal Reserve it is even more unreasonable to pretend that it will be easy to repay all this debt.

Rather than make a separate comment, I’d like to address a commentary, Mr. Dreher made to one of my previous points. You seem to listen too much to the spin from folks like Karl Rove if you believe Cruz “led his party into a ditch by insisting on the shutdown.”

First, take a look back at Ted Cruz own statements. He never advocated for a government shutdown and hoped the democrats would be more reasonable than to force a shut down for the sole purpose of protecting their unpopular Obamacare.

Then, look back on the polls. When the government shut down, public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of the Republicans and against Democrats. The longer the democrats refused to compromise, the greater the favorability of the Republicans grew. It was not until the entrenched interest wing of the party caved that Republicans began taking a beating in the polls. That was in spite of the long time GOPers quickly trashing their party and joining the Democrats in condemning Cruz for the shutdown.

#42 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 3, 2014 @ 6:54 pm

M_Young: You routinely make claims based on “facts” you cite from the past. There are two ways to look at it, and I invite you to clarify your intentions:

1) What was said and how it was said is true now as it was then, making it context independent.

2) What was said requires elevation to an abstract level before gaining relevance outside of its time and place.

I was rather clear in my original phrasing, solidly on #2. You, on the other hand, seem to me to be in #1 or maybe hovering between the two.

240 years of hindsight is vast, beyond the comprehension of the founders for many reasons not the least of which is the incredible acceleration in knowledge and technology of the last century.

I believe in learning the lessons of history, complete with how those lessons would have applied to the people who lived the events and how those lessons are relevant to my time, including how my time is different from their time and how the lesson is learned must also be different.

By the way, without looking it up, can you name a democracy prior to the US — one to which the US can be relevantly compared — that had non-violent transitions of power by design? I can’t. Non-violent transitions happened mostly because the power dynamic was so skewed in favor of the prior regime that they could dictate the terms of the transition.

#43 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 3, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

One more thing I should have included, with cynicism intended: an “ideal” that guides is dogma. An “ideal” that challenges is how I see our founders’ work.

#44 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 3, 2014 @ 11:56 pm

I have a copy of The Federalist Papers two feet away from me whenever I drop into check out Rod’s latest post and the discussions they engender. I cringe when purported civil libertarians dismiss the primacy of the constitution. Anyone who voted for the Affordable Care Act darn well should be able to explain what constitutional authority existed for them to do so (I can).

But I don’t find cultural homogeneity so weighty a matter as M_Young does. Certainly it helped, but one well documented feature of the nation’s first half century is that in almost every state, some things were legal or even promoted that in other states were illegal or disreputable. Slavery was only one such issue, although it became over several decades the most volatile.

The thirteen colonies who had already called themselves “The United States of America” in order to win a revolutionary war of independence, united because they had no viable alternative. Their borders were virtually indefensible if each had been a separate military power, their overlapping claims running west would have provoked constant guerilla warfare if not resolved in a unified way, none of them had the economic capacity to support a defense establishment that could have sustained an independent state.

As distinct polities, each would have been vulnerable to the sort of interference that plagued the Kingdom of Poland. Every neighboring empire promoted their candidate for any vacancy in the elective monarchy, by purchasing a number of the hereditary electors. Think of how corrupt our state legislators are even within the unified nation we have… now imagine them subject to no higher authority, and several European empires offering them bribes…

Texas clamored for annexation by the U.S. for two reasons: as an independent republic, it was financially bankrupt, and in constant danger of being over-run by the Mexican federal army. Also note that Vermont, denied admission to the union due to competing claims of New York and New Hampshire, bluntly informed President Washington that while Vermont really wanted to join the United States, if not allowed to do so, they would have to reach an accommodation with the British in Canada, because the little republic could not sustain a military establishment capable of beating off the British indefinitely. (Sir Guy Carleton was more than willing to sign a treaty with Vermont).

Finally, ethnic solidarity was constantly breached by inviting waves of immigration, whether democratic yeomen fleeing the failures of republican revolutions in Europe, or illiterate peasants to dig ditches, canals, and railway beds. Once they’re here, they’re here, and while all had to accommodate and assimilate to a great degree, all brought some new features, good, bad and ugly, which became part of the American culture we inherited.

#45 Comment By Junker On May 4, 2014 @ 2:16 pm

Perhaps it’s a waste of time to even bother to post that taking any ad hominem “Ya Big Dope” comments by any Neocon seriously is a waste of time, let alone bothering to listen to them at all. If Palin wants to resort to such hyperbole, I defend her right to be an idiot. Yet to waste our time complaining about the lack of reasoned discourse from such makes us idiots as well.

#46 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 7, 2014 @ 10:05 am

I just read that when the Fair Employment Practices Commission was created in 1941, President Roosevelt instructed the aides drafting the executive order to “put something in for the Polish.” It seems workers of Polish extraction had complained about discrimination in hiring. Thus did “national origin” enter the now well worn phrase “race, creed, color or national origin.”