Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Ethics, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 1:44 pm

What conservatives have yet to do is confront the large but inescapable truth that movement conservatism is exhausted and quite possibly dead. And yet they should, because the death of movement politics can only be a boon to the right, since it has been clear for some time the movement is profoundly and defiantly un-conservative—in its ideas, arguments, strategies, and above all its vision.
(Stan Tanenhaus writing in The New Republic)

Another in a series of conversations with myself about conservatism. Part I, Part II. See also this series of posts.

Tanenhaus decries the fact that ideology has dominated conservatism since the rise of Reagan which may be a satisfying position philosophically but I don’t know if it matters that much when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of politics.

Indeed, Tanenhaus’s complaint is reminiscent of arguments I’ve had with conservatives online for years; philosophy and reason vs. ideology and passion.


Chambers was not alone in seeing a divide between classic conservative thought and the polarizing politics of the movement. Indeed he seems to have been influenced by “The Politics of Nostalgia,” an essay by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. published in June 1955, five months before the first issue of National Review appeared. Schlesinger’s subject was the unexpected rise of “conservatism as a respectable social philosophy” in the postwar period. One book in particular, Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, a sumptuously written survey of the classic Anglo-American tradition of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, had attracted much attention. But, Schlesinger noted, there was a strange disconnect. Kirk and others genuinely revered traditional conservatism. And yet, once “they leave the stately field of rhetoric and get down to actual issues of social policy, they tend quietly to forget about Burke and Disraeli and to adopt the views of the American business community.” Kirk, for example, denounced federally sponsored school lunch programs as a “vehicle for totalitarianism” and Social Security as a form of “remorseless collectivism.”

Where in this, Schlesinger asked, was even a hint of classic conservatism, with its concern for the social and moral costs of unchecked industrial capitalism?

Disraeli with his legislation on behalf of trade unions, his demand for government intervention to improve working conditions, his belief in due process and civil freedom, his support for the extension of suffrage, his insistence on the principle of compulsory education! If there is anything in contemporary America that might win the instant sympathy of men like Shaftesbury and Disraeli, it could well be the school lunch program. But for all his talk of mutual responsibility and the organic character of society, Professor Kirk, when he gets down to cases, tends to become a roaring Manchester liberal of the Herbert Hoover school.

Schelsinger the elder, an old school progressive and a believer in materialism as the main determinant of history, was perhaps the greatest social historian of America in the 20th century having basically invented the genre. Arthur Jr., by contrast, eschewed some of his father’s beliefs regarding the insignificance of the individual’s contributions to historical progress and embraced a “man of action” liberalism first with Stevenson and then, reluctantly, with Kennedy who he didn’t see as much of a liberal at all. (His painfully beautiful prose in A Thousand Days won him a second Pulitzer but is peppered with “might have beens” if only Kennedy had been more a man of the left.)

I’m not sure that quoting a young Arthur Shlesinger’s opinion of Professor Kirk’s seminal work tells us anything about modern conservatism but rather what classic liberals would like modern conservatives to believe. Kirk may have used a little hyperbole to get his point across but to dismiss him as a “Manchester liberal” is nonsense. One of Kirk’s six “Canons of Conservatism” is a “belief in transcendant order” which infers some government regulation of the economy as well as government assistance to the poor. Kirk was disgusted with libertarians (and later in life, neoconservatives) and it stands to reason he would have rejected the charge that he believed in some kind of souped up laissez-faire capitalism.

But Schlesinger - and Tanenhaus’s - points are well taken regarding how far movement conservatism strayed from is Burkean roots. And the first principle of classic conservatism - that conservatives should reject excessive ideology in favor of reason - can be seen as modern conservatism’s greatest failing.

Now, politics is a game not conducive to breeding cool heads. If we accept the classic definition of politics as “the art of governing” then we can see that the “art” inherent in politics is finding ways to move vast numbers of people to agree with you and vote accordingly. The best way to appeal to the masses - or perhaps the way that has proven to have the most success - is to manipulate the emotions of the voter. This would appear to be the very definition of ideology in that its birthplace - the French Revolution - was a boiling cauldron of emotions and resentments that were expertly exploited by Robespierre and his gang of cutthroats on the Committee of Public Safety and led directly to “The Terror.”

Although he apparently looked with favor on the beginnings of the French Revolution, even prior to the terror Burke was calling for restraint and a return to honoring the “contract with society” that rejected the overwhelming passions aroused across the channel in favor of enlightened “national tradition.” Conserving the notion that well ordered societies depended on preserving what was handed down from those who went before was paramount. Change, while necessary, should be ordered by tradition and not carried out as a response to passions aroused in the ideological battles that erupt in political societies.


The story of postwar American conservatism is best understood as a continual replay of a single long-standing debate. On one side are those who have upheld the Burkean ideal of replenishing civil society by adjusting to changing conditions. On the other are those committed to a revanchist counterrevolution, the restoration of America’s pre-welfare state ancien regime. And, time and again, the counterrevolutionaries have won. The result is that modern American conservatism has dedicated itself not to fortifying and replenishing civil society but rather to weakening it through a politics of civil warfare.

One can see the basis for movement conservatism as well as where it went wrong in what Burke espoused. Modern conservatism went from being a coherent set of ideas set to compete with liberalsim in the marketplace of ideas to a counterrevolutionary riot of conceits with many internal contradictions.

It is those contradictions - the struggle for liberty with the need for order or capitalism versus stability - that have recently exposed conservatism’s weaknesses and, in my view, resulted in a paralysis of thought that has gripped many on the right and caused them to look inwards to a rigid, unyeilding, ideological framework that brooks no deviation from orthodoxy. Any breach in this wall of beliefs is resisted by purging those whose ideas might challenge them to think about these contradictions rather than paper them over with half baked ideological bromides and talking points.

Allan Lichtman wrote a book recently White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement that David Frum heavily criticized in his New York Times review as “self flattery.” (I see similar criticisms of Tanenhaus from conservatives on blogs.) But in something of an overwrought response to Frum, Lichtman nails some of modern conservatisms internal contradictions:

Ironically, George W. Bush’s former speechwriter fails to address the epilogue of White Protestant Nation which explains how conservatism has fallen victim to internal contradictions during the Bush years. (pp. 436-456) The analysis shows that today’s conservatives cannot reconcile their historic opposition to social engineering with their backing for one of the most expensive and ambitious social engineering ventures in US history: the reconstruction of Iraq. They cannot square their backing for states’ rights with their support for constitutional amendments on abortion and gay marriage and their opposition to vehicle emission standards set by California and other states. They cannot reconcile their advocacy of individual freedom with their support for warrantless wiretapping of U. S. citizens, stringent versions of the Patriot and Military Commissions Acts. They cannot reconcile their support for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and balanced budget with a president who has built the biggest, most expensive, and most intrusive government in U.S. history.

It is painfully obvious Mr. Lichtman doesn’t read much from the right these days. Or much for the past 8 years for that matter. Non-partisan conservatives have criticized most of those contradictions wafting up from Bushland at one time or another. But Lichtman’s point about the inability of many movement conservatives to reconcile their support of Bush era intrusions with classic conservatism’s reverence for tradition and limited government is a good one.

This is a major stumbling block to a conservative revival. A brutally honest appraisal of Bush and the right’s support for him must be at the top of any agenda that would deal with the question of conservatives returning to power. Without that, there will be no lessons learned, no adjustments to the reality of what kind of nation America has become in the 21st century and the proper role of government in that society. We cannot battle Obama and his cult like followers by spouting the same tired nostrums as if simply speaking them makes them true. There must be a period of introspection and self examination.

Beyond that, I like this quote from Whittaker Chambers in the Tanenhaus piece:

To Chambers, an avid student of history, this trend toward government reliance was a function of the unstoppable rise of industrial capitalism and the new technology it had brought forth. Chambers put the matter bluntly: “The machine has made the economy socialistic.” And the right had better adjust. “A conservatism that will not accept this situation, he wrote, “is not a political force, or even a twitch: it has become a literary whimsy.” It might well be “the duty of intellectuals … to preach reaction,” but only “from an absolute, an ideal standpoint. It is for books and posterity. It does not bear on tactics or daily life. … Those who remain in the world, if they will not surrender on its terms, must maneuver within its terms. That is what conservatives must decide: how much to give in order to survive at all; how much to give in order not to give up the basic principles.”

I return to the theme of what possible relevance “limited government” has in a world that is governed by a federal entity with a budget of more than $3 trillion? What does it mean? Theodore H. White believed that you couldn’t think of the federal budget the same way you looked at your household budget. The US government budget was an existential expression of the hopes, the dreams, the desires, the needs, and the requirements of the people and as such, was not a document as much as it was an expression of national will. Yes, we can all find programs to cut, agencies to deep six, perhaps even cabinet departments to throw under the bus. But will doing that really “shrink” government? Not in any meaningful way. Not in any way that would have a tangible effect on the scope and reach of the national government. That’s because the government is as big as it is because it needs to be. In order to shrink it, you would have to eliminate modern society itself - a tall order even for The Gipper I would think.

The question for the right then must be how to fit in? Where can conservatism make a difference? Right now, we are Chambers’ “literary whimsy” - an irrelvant cacophony of clashing contradictions where many, perhaps most adherents believe it possible to return to a pre-Great Society America where the government’s footprint was small and the social changes that have been wrought can be rolled back. An exaggeration? Not by much. The social history of America these last 50 years shows conservatism on the wrong side of history more often than not. We may recall that while the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s would not have passed without the support of some conservatives, the fact is that many others on the right opposed the legislation on the principled grounds that it vastly expanded the power of the national government at the expense of federalism and would lead to unintended consequences.

That argument may have been proved right. But those who supported these landmark bills judged the nature of the problem correctly and voted for the expansion of government because it was, at bottom, a Burkean (non-ideological) response to the knotty problem of making the idea of equality before the law a reality rather than rhetoric. The huge social changes that accompanied the Great Society and subsequent agitation for the rights of women, gays, and Hispanics have required a reordering of society that some found frightening while others resented the intrusiveness of federal measures to right past wrongs. Playing to those fears and resentments became a staple of Republican party electoral operations and has led the GOP to its current status where the majority of people have accepted the changes and wish to move on, leaving many in the GOP base behind.

So in the end, modern conservatism has turned inward rather than facing the reasons for its falling back. I don’t know if conservatism has been discredited but I know that what people believe conservatism to be is in very bad odor right now. And until we can show we are making a serious effort to examine where we went wrong and embrace the world as it is and not as we wish it to be in some alternate reality, then it won’t matter what people believe about conservatism because we will have rejoined the national political conversation and our ideas are successfully competing.


  1. A terrific post, and the last two paragraphs should be required reading for Republicans who are looking for a glimmer of hope for the party to find its way out of the wilderness.

    There are contradictions in any school of political philosophy and conservatism is no exception. I do not believe for a moment that conservatism has been discredited, but rather hijacked.

    As long as people like Robert Stacy McCain and Rush Limbaugh dominate the discourse — and that they see the Republican Party’s re-emergence as being predicated on the further collapse of an economy bankrupted by the policies of the biggest discredited conservative of all — the party’s time in the wilderness will be very, very long.

    Comment by shaun — 2/15/2009 @ 4:37 pm

  2. Rick,

    I guess I may have found something to disagree with you here. Doesn’t happen much. It could be because this was a lot to soak in on a Sunday afternoon.

    But this:

    “That’s because the government is as big as it is because it needs to be. In order to shrink it, you would have to eliminate modern society itself”

    I would say yes, if we are affording the government we now have. But we aren’t. It’s like saying you own a home, but you don’t as long as the bank holds the mortgage. Our government is not in our control anymore, it grows without reason or thought; it’s not planned well. So I absolutely think it can and should be smaller, regardless of the size of our economy.

    If you truly don’t believe we can shrink the dreams, desires, needs and wants of society and thereby shrink the size of government, then really what can be our hope at all of making any tangible difference.

    What’s our purpose then?

    That’s just scary.

    Comment by sara in va — 2/15/2009 @ 7:37 pm

  3. Conservative Challenges

    You appear to have fallen into the trap of ignoring the social and individual changes that have afflicted our society over the past 50 years that are terribly damaging to conservative prospects.

    Rather than writing a book to support this thesis, I will cite just a few of the changes:

    1) Education has stultified and narrowed its scope drastically at the direction of the Dewey liberals and radical professors. We have not prepared whole generations for effective citizenship in a Republic that is fundamentally conservative in its Constitutional origin.

    2) Religion has become less and less influential in the lives of Americans, perhaps as the churches have changed their outlook radically in an effort to stay relevant to new generations of prospective parishioners that appear to be more hedonistic, more undisciplined, and more ignorant, or else, more activist and disruptive non-believers.

    3) The electorate has been decidedly augmented with minorities that are gaining significant political power and influence, quite often without a very strong orientation toward American values, language and mores.

    4) Liberals have been singing their laissez faire, hedonistic and anti-American song for the same 50 years, raising the ideas of the communist and socialist parties of the past with new verbiage, new financing, and new power. Progressives of today were spawned by those discredited ideologies, and are enchanted by the idea of a new international order. The attack on our moral fiber, the diminution of marriage, the sanctity of life, the explosion of porn, and the fact that 60% of our children are now born into a single-parent household, speaks to the, perhaps unintentional—perhaps not–, net effect of liberal consequences on the public. Look to the program of the ACLU for proof.

    5) Our courts have become the legislators of last resort, and have collectively decided to be the writers of the new constitution, word and sentence at a time.

    All of the above, and other aspects that I have not included, such as the influence of militant pacifism, leads me to believe that our public is losing its way under the serious challenges we face, so that they easily fall under the progressive spell. This is because of the attraction of a forgiving government—forgiving of taxes, forgiving of sexual mistakes; forgiving of killing babies; forgiving of the need to work; avoidance of war and death; and ever claiming to be the champion of the little man.

    Into this environment comes the conservative, who believes in self-reliance, individual responsibility, right-sized and efficient government, maximizing of freedom and liberty, and all the rest of conservative ideology. It is apparent that a large percentage of the citizenry will not be enamored of this litany, no matter how it is promoted. Where is the payoff to them for becoming more civilized and more disciplined? Why should they?

    For the conservative movement, does it have to run hard to catch up with this uncivilized crowd in order to lead it? What in the world does that mean? Should the movement throw its principles into the can in order to gain power? If so, the movement is becoming liberal-lite, and therefore irrelevant.

    It is very possible that we conservatives are indeed irrelevant to the majority body politic of today, because it isn’t a majority body politic that is amenable to conservatism. Our principles are a very hard sell to them.

    The question, then, is what must we do in such a situation?

    Comment by mannning — 2/15/2009 @ 9:59 pm

  4. Rick,

    Great post!

    I agree with this idea (if I understand you) that a larger government is an inevitable consequence of the complexities of modern life.

    As conservatives we must start addressing what is really happening in our complex world. Take the complexities and consequences of the modern mortgage industry. “Government IS the problem!” is not a political solution to something as complex and destructive as the global banking collapse.

    It is time to move beyond an ideology that has “resulted in a paralysis of thought that has gripped many on the right and caused them to look inwards to a rigid, unyielding, ideological framework that brooks no deviation from orthodoxy.” In other words, a bumper sticker ain’t gonna do it this time.

    Just to be clear, I am not advocating everyone go and join the Green Party. Instead, look at reality, acknowledge the problems you see, and generate NEW conservative solutions to these problems.

    It is time to stop looking at the shadows on the wall, leave the cave, and let our eyes adjust to the sunlight.

    Comment by bsjones — 2/16/2009 @ 12:02 am

  5. In asserting that liberals are anti-American, Manning sums up in a scant (and ignorant) few words exactly why the Republican Party has become so marginalized.

    I am a liberal who fought in a war for my country, would bleed red, white and blue for my country whenever required, but I am an anti-American by Manning’s calculus because my political views differ from his/hers.

    Another sad lapel-pin Republican patriot. It is Manning who is trapped in the right-wing echo chamber, and worst yet has learned nothing from the recent past.

    Comment by shaun — 2/16/2009 @ 4:57 am

  6. Shaun,

    Where did you get that Manning called you Anti-American? Between the lines? Voices in your head?

    Your post was truly lame. Typical liberal: Are you dissin’ me? “Right-wing echo chamber?” Clever, haven’t heard that one before.

    Comment by sara in va — 2/16/2009 @ 7:16 am

  7. Shall we play patriot games? Was your war worse than mine? I doubt it. Want to have a medal contest, Shaun? You would lose.

    What makes one anti-American is not simply differing views, but those differing views that actually harm, or have serious potential for harm to the nation. Views such as making strained imterpretations of the Constitution to achieve some end, such as taking away guns from the public. or to prevent the Ten Commandments from being displayed, or the take “under God” from the Pledge, in order to further secularize the nation and underdcut and marginalize our Christian heritage to suit a few.

    Or to spend our tax dollars in wild and unwise ways (see Stumulus), or to influence directly the mortgage industry to go way out on a limb to finance subprime mortgages that has become the trigger for our current financial disaster, or, as Clinton did, to reduce the armed forces by about 40% in order to have money for pork projects, which left us terribly undermanned a few years later when we needed the power.

    Or, to diddle as a rank amateur with dangerous regimes such as Iran, even behind the President’s back, during tense times that will only grow worse now because of the show of what Islam considers to be weakness.

    Or, to furiously write new Executive Orders that are not transparent to the public and that materially change the policies of the nation in serious matters without open discussion as was promised.

    It is a long litany, and I have not really gotten started, but it adds up to a transformation of our nation into something other than was intended and fought for by generations of my ancestors and the entire citizenry. That is anti-American!

    This I resent deeply.

    I draw the line at “anti-American” for the simple reason that it implies a hatred of this country. Very few on the left actually hate America. As I have pointed out on several occassions (find the link around the 4th of July this year) the left loves America in a different way than the right. But America needs both the left’s loving America so much they wish to improve her and fix her faults with the right’s arguably more unquestioning love. We are two sides of the same coin and I wish more on both sides saw it that way.


    Comment by mannning — 2/16/2009 @ 1:43 pm

  8. Sara My Dear:

    Time to get your eyeglass prescription strenthen. Who was Manning talking about when he/she wrote:

    “Liberals have been singing their laissez faire, hedonistic and anti-American song for the same 50 years, raising the ideas of the communist and socialist parties of the past with new verbiage, new financing, and new power. Progressives of today were spawned by those discredited ideologies, and are enchanted by the idea of a new international order. The attack on our moral fiber, the diminution of marriage, the sanctity of life, the explosion of porn, and the fact that 60% of our children are now born into a single-parent household, speaks to the, perhaps unintentional—perhaps not—, net effect of liberal consequences on the public. Look to the program of the ACLU for proof.”

    So I can assume that you, like Manning, are smugly happy with the state of conservatism and the GOP? That CPAC is just the ticket for you? That you didn’t learn squat from what happened on November 4?

    Comment by shaun — 2/16/2009 @ 3:56 pm

  9. Shaun,

    My God you are full of assumptions.

    First, your assumption is that Manning implicated you personally. I still don’t see it. Unless you are a socialist or communist and then, well, I will disagree with Rick. People in that category are necessarily anti-American because our country wasn’t made that way.

    Second, if I were happy with the state of conservatism, dude, I’d be doing other things with my time than banging my freakin’ head against the wall day after day, reading blogs like this one, attempting to figure out what the hell is going on in this country. I have a busy life - but my concerns are overwhelming. A trillion dollars just left the building, Shaun. Do you have any idea how much money that is?

    Third, your jab that I might like CPAC is correct. I’d go, but frankly, I don’t have $750 to pay to bypass the long lines to hear Rush Limbaugh. Wish I did, but I’ve got college expenses coming up for my two kids.

    Yes, I’m a Rush Limbaugh fan. I’m proud of it too, I find him highly entertaining. That doesn’t mean I follow him blindly. Which is more than I can say for the cultists of Obama. What I learned on November 4th? I learned plenty, Shaun. What I learned changed my whole attitude about America. I used to take it for granted. Now I don’t.

    Comment by sara in va — 2/16/2009 @ 4:31 pm

  10. Sara in Va,
    Some thing tells me that liberals like Shaun will never respond to your reasonable arguments. Not happening.

    I’ve also noticed how they take personal insults rather easily. Manning was clearly referring to the Berkley communist types of the 60’s and never directly to Shaun - and yet Shaun felt that his patriotism was personally questioned. How wierd was that ?

    What I learned on the 4th of November is that the most heavily media promoted candidate in the history of American elections cannot possibly lose.

    Comment by Nagarajan Sivakumar — 2/16/2009 @ 7:31 pm

  11. Let us separate carefully those leftists that love our nation, however “differently”, and want an acceptable range of changes, from those that want to spark a revolution along Marxist lines, or to install socialism as an interim step, either of which is completely unacceptable.

    I believe the term anti-American is most correct for those who would destroy our Republic.

    Comment by mannning — 2/16/2009 @ 8:59 pm

  12. Does anyone remember the Democratic outcry for doing away with the Electorial College? I believe it was none other than Hillary Clinton that voiced this challenge to the Constitution, because she wanted direct elections that would favor the Dems.

    Does anyone remember Justice Kennedy’s remarks about seeking guidance from European legal practices in order to make decisions here in the US? I suppose he is now well-versed in Sharia Law…

    Has anyone here read the three Humanist Manifestos and parsed them line by line?
    Over 50 Congressmen, apparently all Democrats, have signed up to this Secular Humanism direction that strongly pushes for an international government and the relaxation of our sovereignty in favor of UN rule, among other less-well disguised intentions.

    How about reinstalling the so-called Fairness Doctrine to be the law? Feinstein, Pelosi and others have championed that idea in order to shut the rightwing talk shows down. Watch for it!

    It was Franklin that said…”you have a Republic, if you can keep it!”

    I do not see these ideas, and many more of similar intent from the left, to be simply “different” and acceptable kinds of change.

    Comment by mannning — 2/16/2009 @ 10:01 pm

  13. Manning,
    regarding post # 11.

    I run with an incredibly diverse group of people and I have never actually met anyone who wants to “spark a revolution along Marxist lines.”

    I bet the number of American citizens that want to destroy “our Republic” to be less than a tenth of a percent. Sometimes these nut jobs come from the right. Think Timothy Mcveigh.

    Read the novel “The Turner Diaries” and tell me those rightists love our nation.

    Comment by bsjones — 2/16/2009 @ 10:54 pm

  14. bsjones

    Well now, just how many of those nuts would run around saying that is what they want to do to all and sundry? If I were contemplating something drastic, it would be with people I trust and of like mind, not some incredible number of casual associates that I sometimes run with.

    Try going to some leftist websites and, if you can stand it, dwell there for a week or so, to pick up on just what these moonbats are contemplating. I can name off-hand about 25 of these by their nicknames, because I have debated them and drawn them out, despite the abuse that goes with that territory. Each of them had their own sites too. It is (or was) quite a network, that I would guess catered to many hundreds or thousands, which was a complete shock to me. Some of the names were: “justinj”, “JMF”, and “Anonymous”(of course!).

    One site of this ilk has shut down, because the owner seems to have run out of juice. This was Warblogging, owned by “George Paine”. His daily hits were in the hundreds, and a few allied sites such as “Truthout” hit over a thousand per day. It came out that Paine had a real job writing for the editorial page of the Christian Science Monitor at that time.

    Even allowing for the tendency for people to go overboard when they are protected by false names on the web, I still was totally convinced of their dedication to very radical change in the US.

    After all, it doesn’t take a majority to effect major changes in a society. It doesn’t take even 10% if they can worm themselves into key positions while disguising their true intentions, which was the case in Russia.

    Comment by mannning — 2/17/2009 @ 11:20 am

  15. manning,
    I am sure there are a few revolutionaries somewhere in America (on the left and the right), but I don’t believe there are Marxists under every bed. These people are few and far between.

    I went to truthout.org. I did not see revolution. I did not see dangerous radical, extremist ideas. I saw well intentioned people who disagree with me on many issues.

    According to the website they want:

    to save the whales
    to get young people a piece of the stimulus bill
    to prevent new tax cuts
    to build schools with federal money

    They are Americans participating in political discourse, that have a different viewpoint than we do. That’s all.

    Here is an example of their reporting on the Iraq war:


    Is it slanted? Sure. Is it the Russian revolution of 1917? I think not.

    My point is that getting some exposure to how other people think and feel might lead to some shared understandings. I’ll get nervous when we start referring to people at Truthout.org as Marxist revolutionaries.

    Comment by bsjones — 2/18/2009 @ 12:08 am

  16. You most certainly used my first option–Marxism–while ignoring the second and larger problem of socialism I listed.

    It is larger because practically every step of our new President, and so many of his words are indicative of a socialist mind, and his staffing of compatriots from his former church into WH positions does not quiet the nagging fear that we actually have a socialist President. Stay tuned!

    A survey reported in the Reader’s Digest found that 2% of US responders to the question of whether they hated America or not, boldly answered YES.

    Not quite the fraction of a percent you suggested, and, yes, not up to the threat level of 10% yet, either, if you believe that none of the responders held back on the question.

    That still leaves about 6 million people in the US that really hate the nation and are willing to say so openly (given that the survey is sufficiently accurate).

    Does this not cause you any alarm? It does me.

    Comment by mannning — 2/19/2009 @ 12:29 am

  17. The other aspect, Truthout, and its past, is not what you see now, I suspect.

    There has been considerable moderation of the words and statements over the last few months and years in many of the leftist sites I have known, except perhaps at DU (Democratic Underground) and Daily Kos and the like.

    Some have simply shut down, and others have tempered their fervor, the reason for which might be traceable to the then coming demise of Bush and Co and BDS, on the one hand, and to simple exhaustion on the other. It is hard to maintain the high adrenaline rush these sites exhibited for so long, and the invective thay all pitched at the US, at Republicans, and, especially, Conservatives. That they have toned down, or gone, now, in no way says that they are less threatening to the US.

    Having said this, I have exactly no idea what can be done about it, if anything. Free speech is still operative, and it must remain so. We are trapped by our principles to allow hate speech to go unchecked.

    I still have a sample of a radical, revolutionary statement I captured on one site that was indicative of the genre, if you are interested in reading such. I used to have many pages of their stuff from many sites, collected with the idea of showing them to someone, say, in the FBI, but they went out with my old PC and its dead hard drive a year ago, and I turned, frustrated, to other things.

    Which reminds me: there was real fear expressed on Warblogging and on a few other sites that they were being monitored for possibly subversive activities. That just might explain some of the tamping down…

    Comment by mannning — 2/19/2009 @ 1:13 am

  18. A final comment on this. I agree with you that reading about alternatives is useful.

    However, I have not been talking about anything that I would call useful to anyone in their right mind. I am glad that you found Truthout innocuous now. It wasn’t earlier, I can assure you.

    Things change, I guess.

    Comment by mannning — 2/19/2009 @ 1:23 am

  19. Manning,

    Well said.

    One more thing. As you know, America has a mixed economy so some of our institutions are socialist already. The two most obvious being the post office and the military.

    Could they both be privatized? Sure. Must they be privatized? I, for one, say no.

    Comment by bsjones — 2/19/2009 @ 2:57 pm

  20. [...] "Is the Right Ready to Return to Power?" Originally published:  15 February 2009 Submitted by:  U.S. Common Sense Summary:  The losses in recent years have given the Republican Party a chance to examine their platform and identify their flaws as they drifted away from their core ideals. [...]

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