Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blogging, Politics, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 6:16 am

Stacey McCain - The Other McCain - has a brilliant piece up on his site; a real tour de force that not only comments on my Glenn Beck piece yesterday, but also analyzes and dissects some of the systemic problems with conservatism and the GOP today.

I wish he’d write more about these issues. Stacey has a very sharp mind and clear writing style. And I want to be just like him when I grow up.

Don’t have time today to write a worthy response but I sent him this email this morning:

Your piece was a brilliant exposition of conservative philosophy and history of the Republican party. I have written quite a few similar tracts, making some of the same points you have about the GOP’s lack of a domestic policy and especially the crack up of the anti-Communist coalition that held the party together for so long. I have also commented in the past on your “Assistant Undersecretary” syndrome where appeals to authority appear more relevant to many in Washington than simply cracking good thinking and writing.

Given my long windedness, it would probably take me a couple of days to say everything you did in a few paragraphs. Well done.

Not exactly sure what you’re getting at with the elites vs.populists theme but some of it rings true. If you are trying to make the point that the conservative elite punditocracy places perception above principle, I would reluctantly agree to some extent but defend them by mentioning that even today with a myriad of news and information outlets, the big guns firing in the information wars are still liberal media and therefore, the perception shaped in the public’s mind does indeed matter. Accepting that as a fact of life, and recognizing that electoral success in the GOP depends at least partly on altering this perception of the party as a bunch of angry, southern white males who hate gays and blacks, love guns, and exhibit paranoia about government, it is understandable that some would seek to distance themselves from this perception.

I may be wrong in thinking this - and it certainly is winning me no friends - but there is an anti-intellectual strain in conservatism that bubbles to the surface every once in a while. Not talking about the fringe FEMA camp nonsense. I’m talking about a genuine resistance on the part of many conservatives today to the idea that there is more to the world than what the cotton candy conservatives say on the airwaves or write in their books. That nuance and subtlety are not always bad. That it’s OK to change your mind about an issue if the times change or you are exposed to new information. That allowing emotion to drive your thinking leads nowhere. And that there is a difference between ideology and philosophy.

I make no claims to being an intellectual or a deep thinker - never have. Don’t have the patience or the innate smarts for it. But like you, I have 5 decades of life experience and some common sense to apply to what our problems are. The fact that we fundamentally disagree about some things doesn’t mean we can’t agree on other issues.

Couple of things: I lived in the reddest county in Illinois for many years - rock ribbed Midwest Republicans in McHenry county.

I was thinking of Martin Anderson (Hoover Institution), not that blowhard John Anderson, who had a column in the 1980’s in WaPo and who wrote a couple of very interesting books including “Revolution” which some consider the most scholarly work on the Reagan years. He was a disciple of Rand, knew her personally, and attended many of her lectures.

And where I came up with “Fitzgerald” I will never know. I meant Jeanne Kirkpatrick (former IL sen. Patrick Fitzgerald?) who may not have been as conservative on domestic issues as many would like but no one can deny her brilliance or her passion.

I have read Road to Serfdom and have heard of Mises but have not read anything by him. I didn’t read Free to Choose until the 90’s (just never got around to it) but was a big fan of Friedman via the public TV series of the same name.

I am going to publish this email on my site as a response. Wish I had the time to do your piece justice. Perhaps on the weekend I will take a stab at a more in-depth critique.

Rick Moran


  1. Rick, you should add to your “must read” list Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. As history seems determined to repeat itself, Hazlitt’s writing become even more important today.

    Also, I have to wonder why you, who claims to be a “conservative” feels the need to constantly bash those who you seem to have a disagreement with: Limbaugh, Hannity and now, Glenn Beck. You have the freedom to not pay attention to what they say if you don’t agree with them. Don’t listen, don’t watch.

    What does it gain you to bash them? I can only think that you have adopted the “arrogance” that anyone who does not think exactly like you, must be wrong. Each one is entitled to their own style, and it enlightens just one person to what is going on with our government, then, no matter the style, or the method of the message, is wrong.

    Beck dispelled the FEMA camp myth. Yet, you give him no credit for that. And yes, it is OK to change your mind as conditions change, but it is not OK to change your standards to go along with the herd. And if believing in the Constitution, and the timelessness of that document and how it is being thwarted by our current crop of “leaders” is being part of your “anti-intellectual strain”, then count me among them. You seem to think that only the “intellectual strain” can grasp the writing of Jefferson, Adams and Franklin. That attitude, in and of itself, places you among those, so prominent on the left, that looks at those of us in fly over country as the great unwashed masses.

    I used to enjoy your blog, but it seems you have jumped the vitriol shark. One has to wonder if it is not envy that drives you knowing that Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck have reached a level you seem not to be able to attain as a blogger.

    There is room in this nation for all points of view; yours, Beck’s, Limbaugh’s and Hannity’s. And I have to disagree with you that we have to work to going more left of center to be “inclusive”. Now before you jump my bones for that comment, I realize you have never said that in those exact words.

    We are conservatives. And as conservatives, we have certain standards and if we relinquish those standards, we are simply becoming that which we disagree with.

    When our nation was being formed, a number of states reserved the right to seceed if, and when, the federal government failed to represent them. When the state constitution for Texas was adopted, and accepted by the federal government in order to bring Texas into the union, Texas reserved the right to secession. At no time was that repealed, and it was not changed to grant re-admission to the Union after the Civil War. The only requirement of change to the constitution of Texas was the removal of the right to own slaves.

    There is a movement now, by at least 11 states, to reinforce their sovereignty rights. Those bills state that the state has right, not to seceed, but to refuse to abide by any law foisted on it by the federal government that does not meet Constitutional muster. It is about time.

    You also seem to feel the need to constantly remind people that you lived in one of the reddest of red areas of the nation, as if that gives your opinion some legitimacy. It does not.

    I fully expect you to come back with some profanity laced retort, as you seem wont to do on so many occassions. But I would point out that my twenty years on this earth longer than you has allowed me to see clearly the direction our nation is taking, and it is not toward Constitutionalism.

    I enjoy your writings, but please, stop representing yourself as a conservative when you are clearly a social liberal.

    Comment by retire05 — 4/9/2009 @ 11:42 am

  2. retire05……is this the same “retire05″ that used to post on AJStrata’s site? Long time-no read….I used to greatly enjoy the give and take between the two of you.

    Comment by Ad rem — 4/9/2009 @ 12:41 pm

  3. Ad rem, yes.

    But if you recall, I was banished from AJ’s site because when he was promoting the Shamnesty Bill, and I argued his logic (which living in a border state knew he was wrong). He could not handle the truth of the issue. He became especially upset when I pointed out that he had complained how illegals broke the rental property rules in his Virgina town, but yet, seemed to think that we in Texas should accept it.

    The final straw for AJ was went I took the time to publish the exact wording of the bill on his website that totally destroyed the claims about it he was making. With that, he banished me as if allowing me to comment on his site was some special privilege that my life would be worse without.

    AJ, like so many who claim the mantilla of “conservatism” is a former Democrat. And while he claims to have left that party, that party is still a very active part of his being.

    You see, Ad rem, rational thought always trumps emotion. And that is where so many go wrong.

    Thanks for remembering me.

    Comment by retire05 — 4/9/2009 @ 12:56 pm

  4. Using Stacey McCain to support your argument does not help your cause!

    I am constantly amazed by people who believe they don’t have to read what is being discussed in order to comment. Such stupidity is counterintuitive and only reveals the commenter to be an idiot.

    Um…McCain disagrees with me 10000000% - something you would have known if you had, like, you know, taken the time to read what both of us are arguing about.


    Comment by Chandler — 4/9/2009 @ 12:57 pm

  5. Stacey’s piece is brilliant. Anti-communism was the glue that held the conservative coalition together but….George W. Bush was elected twice after the Soviet Empire imploded. What to make of that point? Apparently
    conservatism is more than a muscular foreign policy, for a start, and that other quotient has appeal.

    While I don’t find the degree of fault with you that Stacey did, Rick, I must note you have bought into two left-wing memes recently that were so absurd on their face one has imploded and the other soon will. The first was that Rush Limbaugh was somehow or another a Republican leader. The other was that Glen Beck was somehow or another the leader of the conservative movement. Both were and are demonstrably false yet you gave these absurdities greater weight than they deserved. You did note the left-wing smear machine backed away from the Limbaugh-bashing after it didn’t work and turned to bashing someone obscure to most folks, Beck. Yet you seemed to believe these were effective strategies when they plainly are not.

    The Left will have a true face attached to its electoral prospects in 2010, and it is Barack Obama. Democratic fortunes will be tied to Obama’s economic policies. It won’t be pretty for them unless basic economic principles can be suspended, i.e., hyper-inflation that is all but certain.

    So the Republicans don’t really have to put forward a face. I know you want programs advanced but that, as pure electoral strategy, isn’t necessary. “We’re not those guys” works. I don’t like it, either, but that’s how it goes. The Democrats learned long ago to appeal to the lowest common denominators. I have no problem if our side does so with effect, as well, although it makes me want to go into the bathroom and puke my fucking guts out.

    Comment by jackson1234 — 4/9/2009 @ 1:09 pm

  6. Retire05: I find it rather amusing how you prove Rick’s point by essentially calling him an RINO - like there is some kind of litmus test that he has to fit into in order to call himself a conservative. Essentially, you’re doing exactly what he is lamenting - tossing him out of the movement (at least in your own heart) because he disagrees with you.

    Also, anyone who pulls the “I’m older than you so I know better” generally doesn’t have anything better to back up his thoughts.

    I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with the meat of your comment, just making the point that the way you’re coming across is making Rick look right and you not so much.

    Comment by Russell Miller — 4/9/2009 @ 1:14 pm

  7. retire05….

    Yes, I know the entire saga….you see, upon your “banishing” I proceed to find and list the last five or so people he did the same thing to. This, of course, prompted further vitriol, and though I was not “told” I was banished….well,I was never able to log-in again…? (I still cry myself to sleep sometimes…..) :-) Nice to know you are alive and well!

    Comment by Ad rem — 4/9/2009 @ 1:18 pm

  8. Russell Miller, I have no problem with anyone who is a (as you put it) a RINO. What I do have a problem with is those who would kill the messenger then pretend that their own message is the only true message.

    Perhaps you should sharpen your reading comprehension skills. I clearly stated that all have a right to their their method of carrying their message, and as long as that message is consistantly conservative, it is not style that I have a problem with.

    I place no litums test on Rick other than his own stance on issues, which I find consistantly socially liberal.

    Why should I not remark on the fact that I am older, and hopefully wiser, than Rick? Does managing to stay alive for 69 years not grant me some consideration? Perhaps I should turn in my senior citizen card from Luby’s.

    Perhaps you should re-read what I posted. My problem is not that I consider Rick a social liberal, but that he seems to want to give credenced to his views by slamming the style of others. You cannot tout your belief in a “big tent” GOP and then put up a sign that says “Anyone who doesn’t think as I do is a moron.”

    Comment by retire05 — 4/9/2009 @ 1:43 pm

  9. Rick:
    I’ve been reading you for about quite some time now. I do not always agree with you, but I find myself re-evaluating my opinions many times after reading yours. To me, that is a good thing, which is why I continue reading you. Mental comfort does not equal being correct. Don’t stop making us think.

    Comment by JOElias — 4/9/2009 @ 2:30 pm

  10. retire05 said:

    You cannot tout your belief in a “big tent” GOP and then put up a sign that says “Anyone who doesn’t think as I do is a moron.”

    Lucky for you it’s ok to put up that sign if you don’t believe in a “big tent” GOP.

    Comment by Chuck Tucson — 4/9/2009 @ 2:35 pm

  11. McCain is clearly brilliant, and should be added to any conservatives daily “must-read” list, along with RWNH. A bit religious for me, but smart.

    Comment by lionheart — 4/9/2009 @ 3:35 pm

  12. Chuck Tucson, luck has nothing to do with it. I do not believe in haphazzard luck; I believe you make your own. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    And no, the philosphy of the “big tent” where those of all views are welcome is not my ideal of a “conservative” tent. If you hold liberal socialist views, you do not belong under the tent with those that don’t.

    Perhaps you believe in the Kumbaya philosphy, sorry, I don’t buy it. Since we were tribalist, beating our enemies with clubs, we have gathered in groups that thought alike and had the same goals and social standards.

    And I don’t hear a lot of grousing from the left wing of American politics how THEY should be inclusive. As a matter of fact, they are NOT inclusive. You either buy into the liberal view, or you will be driven from tribal lands. The left will eagerly grap their clubs, flog you in public, or apply Alinsky’s Rule #5 with rapid speed.

    Comment by retire05 — 4/9/2009 @ 4:23 pm

  13. I read you as often as I can. But, I think that you tend to buy too much of the left’s talking points about how to expand the Republican party. What will do that are several things. One, like it or not, it will be when more Americans realize that, as R.S. McCain writes, “IT WON’T WORK”-the statist economy President Obama is doing. People will turn to the tried and true. Two, the nanny state that the Democrats have sought in many areas that are totally irrelevant to government. Third, when the Obama foreign policy collapses, and it will, the American people will turn back to the Republican party. A cohesive, comprehensive easy to explain to the people approach will also help the GOP. Giving up on any bloc of the party will not help. Libertarians and Social Conservatives need each other and I do not believe that there is all that much that separates both groups. We need to work together, not against each other.

    Comment by Mark J. Goluskin — 4/9/2009 @ 5:05 pm

  14. Intelligent people like Stacy McCain go into their economic philosophies always, failing to realize that the world has changed. Did Milton Friedman comprehend outsourcing jobs, credit-default swaps, bundling mortgage backed securities? Conservatives always seem to stick to outdated philosophies, as the economic and cultural world morph into different entities that Reagan free market ideas can’t grasp anymore. No, socialism won’t work either, but unfettered free market capitalism is a dinosaur. You don’t have to believe me, just look at the electoral blowouts of 2006 and 2008. Plus, I don’t see a big gop swell in 2010. The proof (of ideas) is always in the pudding.

    Comment by Joe — 4/9/2009 @ 5:48 pm

  15. where you been retire05? You used to be a regular commenter, then nothing. Everything allright?

    Comment by busboy33 — 4/9/2009 @ 6:05 pm

  16. Linked you at The Other McCain.
    Cheers, mate.

    Comment by Smitty — 4/9/2009 @ 6:20 pm

  17. busboy33, I’m doing great, thanks for asking.

    I have been busy. Tea party planning (you know, the movement that Rick seems to ignore); the garden, flower beds and wondering why the hell global warming hasn’t come to Texas. It was 28 degrees in Austin the other night. Coldest April night ever recorded in Austin. Colder in my area outside of Austin.

    Oh, and working against Kay Bailey Hutchison in her bid for the Governor’s Mansion (that some damn fool burned down).

    Comment by retire05 — 4/9/2009 @ 8:58 pm

  18. Been annoyingly cold out here in L.A. lately too, but I’ll happily concede to your sub-freezing numbers. Might be moving (back) to upstate N.Y. — can’t say I’ve missed the whole “snowy hell” ambiance.
    Glad to hear things are going good, and good to see you back — now I can go back to disagreeing with everything you say by default. I likes me some consistency.

    Any guesstimate as to probable T-party numbers in Austin?

    Comment by busboy33 — 4/10/2009 @ 5:42 am

  19. Jeanne Kirkpatrick would have spit at the current crew running the government - even more so on domestic principles than foreign policy ones.

    Comment by MlR — 4/12/2009 @ 12:55 pm

  20. Hey Retire 05…you got what you wanted…a small tent GOP. With a minority party tag for the rest of our lives.

    Good job teabagger.

    Comment by Gayle — 4/12/2009 @ 10:41 pm

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