Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mark Levin vs. Weekly Standard
Bozo Who Needs to STFU

(Note to self: Never argue with this guy.)
In the first sentence of his review [Bozo] asserts "Moderation ... is an essential political virtue and a quintessentially conservative virtue." This is the way forward for conservatism, he insists. At no time does he define "moderation" or any governing principles, other than to misapply moderation as prudence, when prudence is, in fact, about judgment. . . .
For the neo-Statist (or neo-Conservative), the problem is particularly acute when applied to international relations for he usually promotes a hawkish and interventionist foreign policy. If prudence is moderation per se, then how does [Bozo] square this circle? Is bombing Iran's nuclear sites, even as a last resort, a moderate or an immoderate act? Obviously, the question makes no sense. The test is whether it is prudent.
Thus, those, like [Bozo], who promote moderation (not prudence) as a principle, are actually promoting a tactic or process without any core.
Read the whole thing. Try not to slip on Bozo's entrails that Levin leaves scattered on the floor.

Note that Levin distinguishes himself from the neo-conservatives. One of the idiotic misfortunes of the Bush era was that the Left picked up the term "neocon" as shorthand for "Jewish hawk," with conspiratorial overtones of "stooge for the Zionist lobby." This was both unfair and inaccurate.

As my old friends know, I tend to roll more toward the paleo side of the neo/paleo divide, with a wide streak of libertarianism ("From My Cold Dead Hands!") and am also a hillbilly Bible-thumping Calvinist, if not a theocrat.

My position on the Iraq war was nuanced, as the liberals would say. Unlike Kerry, I was against the war before I was for it. Basically, from 2002 until the war started, I was very skeptical toward arguments for the invasion and conquest of Mesopotamia. However, the time for arguing ended when the first shot was fired. My attititude about war is, "If you're in it, win it."

No nation ever benefitted from losing a war. Military defeat tends to demoralize a nation and, if repeated, can result in absolute decadence. (Cf. France.)

A Peace Through Strength approach to foreign affairs doesn't make you a warmonger, an imperialist, or a "neocon." I could write a book about this, but I'm on deadline for the Spectator, so just read Mark Levin's article -- and remind me never to pick a fight with him.


  1. I don't really find either article convincing as to whether I should start, or stop, being a NEO-STATIST!!!1! or whatever. I mean, when I try to come up with what to do about the New Deal / Great Society programs, the question of what a Real Conservative would think to do doesn't enter into the equation. It's no good. I've known too many conservatives. They all disagree.

    That's probably why I've recently found Witness to be such a compelling read. Whittaker Chambers, of course, left National Review, saying that he was not a conservative, but rather a man of the Right who would vote the straight Republican ticket for the rest of his life. He saw the main thing to be done not as articulating first principles in the purest form possible, but rather as getting enough people to understand and oppose the Left's first principles. At least that's my interpretation...

    And that's the thing. The New Deal and Great Society passed because the American people rejected the Right (not the Republicans, the Right) to such an extent that the Left could pass the damn things. So it would seem to me that the imperative would be to make sure such devastating losses don't happen again.

  2. @Joe Marier:
    And that's the thing. The New Deal and Great Society passed because the American people rejected the Right (not the Republicans, the Right) to such an extent that the Left could pass the damn things. So it would seem to me that the imperative would be to make sure such devastating losses don't happen again.
    Progressiveism has been a fantastic sales pitch, but it's proving neither financially sustainable nor shenanigan-free as an alternative to the three-tier/three-branch government posited in the Constitution.

  3. Stacy,
    I rather disagree with the notion that the Nude Deal and it's spawn were passed as a result of active rejection of Classical Liberalism - "Right" thinking - and that the Left's view was found more favorable.

    The problem is that Authoritarianism... whether it's modern Statism, Monarchism, warlord Tribalism, Theocracy - these modes of social organization are intuitively easy to grasp. They are especially appealing to the insecure - to those who would gladly trade a little "freedom" to garner "security."

    The Ordered Society - Classical Liberalism, as it were, is emotionally and intellectually tough: It requires first moral self-restraint and self-governance. Just as at the Founding, not everyone understands it. Hardly the same as "rejection." To the contrary, as individuals mature they tend to advance towards intuitive if not cognitive mastery of many of Conservatism's core values.

    The Nude Deal was passed, partly because Government - especially Federal Government - was too small a dog in the neighbor's yard to pose much of an apparent threat, even if it was vicious. In a country that was mostly free, who knew what was coming, how that dog would grow?

    In any case, I'm with you: Don't pick a stupid fight with Levin. I'm reminded of Frum's swinging at Levin earlier... kept slugging Mark's knees, and Levin begging him to start a conversation. Frum was totally oblivious to how badly he was outclassed.

  4. Great use of the example of the French by the way. Shudder.

  5. @Smitty, no effing kidding. But how do you bring a program like Medicare into constitutional bounds? Only way I can think of is to pass a constitutional amendment as a patch, or spin it off and make it a private non-profit or corporation with both premium and plan flexibility a la the Blues. Good luck getting that through Congress.

    And thus, the paradox: it's hard to get back to a constitutional government through constitutional processes. The Ron Paul fans have the idea that his mighty veto pen will solve everything, but all that would happen in that case would be that the guys with the overriding supermajority vote would be the effective presidents. Not that Ron Paul could ever get elected president.

    So, we're back to doing the right thing, where we can, when we can.

  6. "the Left picked up the term "neocon" as shorthand for "Jewish hawk," with conspiratorial overtones of "stooge for the Zionist lobby."

    Uh, yeah. Nice try.
    That would in effect mean that the Left thought that Dick Cheney was a "Jewish hawk". Or that the rest of the characters involved in the "Middle East Project", namely ALL Republicans/Conservatives, were of the tribe. But don't let the facts stop you from trying to smear the Left with the "anti-semite" label. Let's face it, when it comes to anti-jewish sentiment, you don't have to look beyond your backyard yokels.
    As for Levin, he's another radio talk-show hack who on several occasions has had to clarify to his audience that he is in fact an "America First" proponent, while somehow maintaining that Israel's security is paramount to our own. I don't know about you guys, but there is something of disconnect there.Obviously, we stand with our allies and defend them through and through. But I am also a fan of reciprocal relations with our allies. The policy that Levin types defend is one where America provides for it's allies in return for some kind of abstract alliance with no teeth.
    Yeah, when you're in a war you play to win.
    But when your party has been hijacked by a group of characters who persuade you into a war that is not in your interest, it behooves you
    ( for the sake of your credibility,at least!) to call them out without throwing in some caveat to excuse them...

  7. No, calling Dick Cheney a neo-con just means you have no idea what you're talking about, considering that he's neither a Jewish hawk or an person who went from Democrat to Republican in the late '60s and '70s.

  8. Joe,
    you are either making my point, or you are saying that neo-cons ARE "Jewish hawks" or former Dems turned Cons. In which case YOU have no idea what you're talking about.
    Jeez, Stacy. Where do you find these guys?