Archive for the ‘Politics’ category

Switching Labels on the Dog Food

May 27, 2008

Retiring Virginia Republican Congressman Tom Davis has compared the Republican “brand” to a dog food that ought to be taken off the shelves. GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, writing in NRO, doesn’t seem to realize that the problem with the brand extends beyond the label — there’s something wrong with the product itself.

Catellanos, though, gets a fuzzy feeling thinking about the recent recovery of the British Tories:

Conservatives do have something to say about this. Our British cohorts, as [David] Brooks notes, are expressing it: “They want voters to think of the Tories as the party of society while Labor is the party of the state. They want the country to see the Tories as the party of decentralized organic networks and the Laborites as the party of top-down mechanistic control.” But the “Conservative Revival” that Brooks has discovered in the Anglo motherland is new only in expression, not in principle or practice. Conservatives have always believed in bottom-up self-government, not top-down, state-imposed administration.

Try squaring that with the Iraq War is one obvious retort. Another is that Britain has been suffering under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown even longer than American has suffered under Bush. Conservative leader David Cameron looks good by comparison to old New Labour for the same reason Barack Obama looks good next to McBush.

A bit more Castellanos:

What we believe in is people-driven, choice-filled, dynamic, flexible, equal-opportunity self-government. We should call it organic government. Want to know what your government is going to look like 20 years from now? Ask your children. They will say it will look a lot less like General Motors and a lot more like MySpace.

Good grief — has this guy ever seen MySpace? I’m not sure anyone who has would compare it favorably even to a corporate dinosaur like General Motors.

Castellanos ends on this note:

Fellow conservatives, let’s learn to say it: We need more government, lots of it, but we need the kind that actually works: Bottom-up self-government by a mature people. And we need that government in our hands — because it is not natural, efficient, or beneficial to leave something so powerful in the hands of anyone else.

Well, I take back what I say up above. Castellanos is not simply slapping a new label on the same old dogfood. This is the same old label on the same old dogfood, though normally it has the good sense not to declare that the ingredients include “more government.” He contends that government and the state are different — and actually, Nock said the same thing, albeit in coherent terms — but his idea of government is loopy to say the least: “The PTA governs. The Chamber of Commerce governs. Facebook governs. The Invisible Hand governs.” I’d rather not be governed by the PTA or Chamber of Commerce, thank you very much, and I don’t think Facebook or the invisible hand needs any help from the GOP to do whatever governing either one does. (What are the Republicans going to do, ban gambling on Facebook, too?) How is this pitch meant to make me want to buy brand GOP? I wouldn’t feed it to my dog.

The Libertarian Party Debate

May 25, 2008

I missed most of the live broadcast, but here’s Daniel Larison’s write-up, and here’s Dylan Waco’s take at Left Conservative. I like what I’ve seen and heard of Steve Kubby. I might have to modify what I’ve said elsewhere about being for Barr or bust. A Barr-Kubby ticket might be ideal, especially since Kubby can compensate for Barr’s weakness on the drug war.

Addendum: Wayne Root made the worst impression on me of all the candidates. He tied with Ruwart and Barr in receiving the most tokens from delegates (candidates had to collect tokens to qualify for the debate), which suggests to me that Barr might court him as a running mate. I hope not, though — Root might as well be the poster child for ADHD.

In Print and Coming Your Way

May 22, 2008

Keep an eye out for the June 2 issue of The American Conservative, which went to press today. It includes my article on the battle for Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District, which pits Ron Paul-inspired Republican Amit Singh against Mark Ellmore, a candidate sometimes compared to Mike Huckabee. In Singh’s case, the race puts to the test the ability of a new generation of limited-government conservative to appeal to voters in a difficult (read: Democratic-leaning) district. After its recent special election losses in Mississippi, Illinois, and Louisiana, the GOP is in desperate need of a new brand. The Eighth District candidates offer two possibilities.

Now On-Line: The Ron Paul Evolution

April 28, 2008

My article on the Ron Paul campaign and the independent organizations and efforts springing up in its wake — including Young Americans for Liberty, Jonathan Bydlak’s Discover Scholars project, and a cadre of Ron Paul Republican candidates — is now on-line here.

I’m happy to report that one development since I wrote the piece is that Ron Paul has endorsed North Carolina congressional candidate B.J. Lawson, who certainly seems like a worthy contender to me. Here’s Dr. Paul’s statement:

Thanks for your tireless efforts to advance the cause of freedom. As the Revolution shifts into high gear, we’re beginning to identify strong candidates for federal office who can help us take back Washington in 2008. I am pleased to introduce a worthy challenger to the status quo, Dr. William (B.J.) Lawson, who is seeking the Fourth District’s Congressional seat in North Carolina.

B.J. is, like me, a graduate of Duke University Medical School. Also like me, his passion for public service stems from a deep concern for the economic imbalances facing our nation. While I spent most of my life as a practicing physician, B.J. left his neurosurgery residency at Duke to start a hospital software company in 2001, and experienced firsthand the challenges of entrepreneurship as well as the importance of succeeding by putting customers first. He shares my commitment to a constitutional federal government, individual liberty, private property rights, a foreign policy we can afford, and economic growth driven by successful businesses working to satisfy their customers.

I wish I could say B.J. is going to have an easy journey to Washington in November. We certainly need him here. But there is a vocal minority in the Republican party that has other plans. B.J. is battling a neoconservative establishment candidate right up to the primary next Tuesday. While he is leading based upon this weekend’s polling, there remain many undecided voters and he needs funds to finish his media and GOTV plan. As this recent debate footage shows, they are very different candidates indeed:

http://blog.lawsonforcongress.com/2008/02/15/the-great-debate/

After you support B.J. in the May 6th Republican primary, he will then take on Rep. David Price. Rep. Price is an 11-term incumbent who defines business as usual. With your help, B.J. can build the bridges necessary to take the freedom message across the Fourth District.

Please make a donation to help B.J.’s campaign today — fundraising is the MOST important thing we can do to help spread the message. Freedom isn’t free, but liberty is priceless!

In liberty,

Ron Paul

A Choice in November

April 26, 2008

Clueless GOP consultants Tony Fabrizio and Dave Carney tell Politico (referring to Ron Paul’s 16 percent showing in Pennsylvania’s Republican primary):

“A large portion of those Ron Paul supporters are anti-Bush, anti-war Republicans,” he said. “They’ll wind up back with McCain because, while they may disagree on the war or be mad at Bush, the prospect of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is more frightening.”

And, as Carney notes, there is no Paul-like third-party candidate around whom they can rally and vent their frustrations.

Politco’s Jonathan Martin notes that that might not be true if Bob Barr gets the Libertarian Party’s nomination. But it won’t be true even if Barr doesn’t get the LP nod, because Chuck Baldwin, who endorsed Paul in the Republican primaries, has now won the Constitution Party’s nomination. Baldwin, who is socially conservative, antiwar, for drastically smaller government (asked at the Constitution Party convention what his first executive order as president would be, he said he would first repeal almost all the executive orders going back to Reagan), and against federal snooping on American citizens. The rightist part of the Ron Paul movement might find him a very attractive candidate indeed.

In small ways, the 2008 election is starting to look up. There’s the prospect that my ballot in Virginia might have at least two candidates I can support: Baldwin and Barr. Neither is perfect. And between them, I’m not sure which is better: Baldwin is more radically conservative and anti-statist, as far as I can tell, which commends him. In Barr’s favor, I’d rather vote for a Libertarian Party candidate than a Constitution Party candidate. I attended the CP’s 2000 convention in St. Louis and wasn’t very impressed by the proceedings. A brawl almost broke out at one session between Catholics and Protestants baiting one another about who had persecuted whom more violently throughout history. (Catholics attributed anti-clerical violence in the Mexican Revolution to Protestantism — improbably enough — while Protestants shot back with equally poorly informed accusations about the Inquisition. A gathering of professional historians this was not.) Convention sessions juxtaposed a speaker who wanted to stone homosexuals next to a speaker who had survived being aborted. Disgust and sympathy don’t make a pleasant emotional cocktail. The party didn’t exactly win any points with me in 2004 either, when it nominated for president a man who had given his wife’s children away to be raised by the state of Maryland. (His wife insists that turning her daughters into wards of the state was her idea. Either way, the story belongs on Jerry Springer — or Phil Donahue, where in fact it did appear — not on the resume of a “family values” candidate.)

On the other hand, LP presidential contender and mooted vice presidential prospect Mary Ruwart is a defender of consensual kiddie porn. If she’s on the ticket, I won’t be voting for the Libertarians. I’m fairly sure neither Barr nor Wayne Allan Root, the other top LP presidential candidate, would have someone with those views on their ticket. I hope.

And of course, Obama is better than McCain by far. I’d like to see him clobber McCain in November. So assuming these third parties qualify for the ballot in Virginia, I’ll have several choices in this presidential election. That’s an unaccustomed circumstance for me, and it feels kind of good. Now if only a third party will nominate someone decent for the Virginia Senate race…

Scattershot Notes

April 4, 2008

Contrary to my stated intention, @TAC actually has cut into Tory Anarchist blogging, at least a little bit. But then, this blog is more of a place for stray thoughts, so I don’t feel too shabby if I let it go for a few days. I don’t plan to let it go as long as I have sometimes done in the past, though. (Especially since I was a little intimidated — flattered, but intimidated — to see the Tory Anarchist quoted, at some length, in Bill Kauffman’s new book, Ain’t My America.)

Right now the stray thought on my mind is a theme: movement making. I have a post up at @TAC talking about the Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee movements, taking a few cues from Doug Wead. (And as an aside: while I identify Wead as an influential evangelical and former Bush I staffer, he also happens to have been the Arizona Republican congressional candidate whom Barry Goldwater famouly refused to endorse in 1992, was when BG was vociferously dissenting form the religious right’s influence on the Arizona party. BG endorsed Democrat Karan English instead.) I’m also at work on an article for the print magazine on post-campaign developments with the Ron Paul movement.

In my spare moments, I’ve been reading Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72. The Thompson cult is too hip for my tastes — and many a young writer has been ruined trying to emulate the godfather of gonzo — but I’m enjoying the book a great deal. George McGovern is the hero of the book, and since McGovern is also one of the good guys in Kauffman’s book (which I’ll eventually be reviewing, the fact that I’m quoted therein notwithstanding) means that I suppose Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail counts as research. My Ron Paul campaign colleague Jonathan Bydlak was the one who recommended the book to me — a good call.

The Abortion Wars in 2008

March 30, 2008

Jim Antle summarizes a few recent blog threads on abortion and the 2008 race here. Ross Douthat’s criticism of Andy Bacevich–Douthat thinks Bacevich doesn’t pay enough attention to abortion in making his case for Obama–is one of the threads Jim links to. My own response to Douthat is newly up at Taki’s Magazine.

About That Gravelanche…

March 28, 2008

Richard Spencer has a reaction to it up at Taki’s Magazine. I still think that the true believers in the LP will prevent Gravel from getting the nomination. But Gravel may be the second coming of Russell Means, the Indian-rights activist who was Ron Paul’s rival for the LP’s 1988 nomination. Means was also a fashionably outre lefty with questionable libertarian credentials. But he came rather close to getting the nomination. In fact, if he weren’t running against a serious contender like Paul, he would have won the nomination easily. So perhaps Gravel will do better than I expect.

I’m inclined to vote Libertarian in November no matter who they nominate. Gravel’s entry into the race might actually help Bob Barr if Barr decides to run. The main obstacle Barr would have faced were Gravel not in the race would have been questions about his libertarian orthodoxy — Barr was a drug warrior in Congress, after all, and also voted for the Patriot Act that he now campaigns against. Gravel might make Barr look more orthodox by contrast.

Apropos of nothing in particular, I feel like mentioning that one of the few flaws of Brian Doherty’s otherwise nigh comprehensive history of the libertarian movement, Radicals for Capitalism, is that it contains very little about the 1988 LP nomination fight, even though that fight and the bad blood that followed it had monumental consequences, spurring Murray Rothbard to break with the party and seek allies on the Buchananite Right instead. The present configuration of libertarianism, with a sharp division between the Beltway libertarians and Rothbard-inspired institutions like the Ludwig von Mises Institute, owes a great deal to the fallout from the 1988 race.

And apropos of everything, here’s David Weigel’s coverage at Reason of the Gravelanche (which I think David christened).

Update: Am I selling Means short?  His libertarian credentials were better than Gravel’s, at any rate.

Washington’s Good Doctor

March 28, 2008

The British libertarian Geoffrey Wheatcroft has a new article on Ron Paul in the Guardian. “No doubt this excellent man’s bid for the Republican nomination was by way of being a romantic gesture,” Wheatcroft writes, “But what about Ron Paul for secretary of state?”

Mike Gravel, Big-L Libertarian?

March 28, 2008

With his national health care plan and other big-government commitments, Mike Gravel is no small-l libertarian. But he’s seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination, which will be decided at the party’s national convention, May 22-26. Gravel has a chance, since there’s sure to be a contingent in the LP that would like to have a prominent candidate, but he’s going to need to retool his positions on quite a few issues to win over a majority of delegates. Also, as obscure as some of the current contenders for the LP nomination may be, Gravel is obviously not a name to conjure with himself, even if he is a former U.S. senator.

Still, it makes a for a livelier political scene. And Lord knows Gravel would be better than Clinton, Obama, or McCain.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.