Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Culture, Decision '08, General, History, Politics, Tenth Amendment, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 11:20 am

Another in my series of puny attempts to dissect what’s wrong with modern conservatism. Part II will appear tomorrow.

I debated whether or not to make this a piece about “some conservatives” eschewing reality for an alternate universe or if I should make it about much of modern conservatism’s disconnect from the reality of 21st century America.

In the end, I think it is more important to look at how conservatism as a philosophy has closed itself off so thoroughly from uncomfortable and inconvenient truths about America. The fringe players in the movement with their litmus tests and dreams of going bear hunting with Sarah Palin are not really the problem as I see it.

Their worldview, shaped as it is by wallowing in the echo chamber of conservative media, and warped by a naive and ultimately uninformed ideological prism through which they spout nonsensical, paranoid conspiracies, may be relevant to the political health of the right but has little to do with the breakdown of conservatism as a governing philosophy itself.

In this case, it is conservatism losing its ability to question itself in a rigorous and punishing manner, preferring to maintain a comfort zone in which certain shibboleths of the past rest easily on the mind and prevent the kind of examination of underlying assumptions that any set of philosophical principles needs to maintain touch with the real world.

One might argue that the problem is really with people who hold to those philosophical principles and their refusal to challenge their beliefs. I don’t think this is necessarily true. You can’t sneeze these days without tripping over someone on the right indulging in the kind of “Woe is us” pontificating. I should know. I do it often enough. One would think with all this angst, some truths about why conservatism is where it is today and how it got there would emerge. So far, I have been unimpressed.

There have been some valiant attempts, most notably after Sam Tannenhaus’s Death of Conservatism was published. Rejecting much of Tannenhaus’s critique (as most conservatives should), the author nevertheless wallops a couple of extra base hits while socking at least one, long home run in his analysis; that modern movement conservatism isn’t very conservative at all in that it seeks to overthrow the social order rather than conserve what is best about America while channeling change into productive venues consistent with tradition and the Constitution.

Tannenhaus refers to these right wingers as “revanchists.” Indeed, there is a strong impulse even among so called “reasonable conservatives” that FDR’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society need to be repealed or drastically curtailed. In it’s place? There things get kind of fuzzy but what emerges from many conservatives is some kind of “super federalism” where a souped up 10th Amendment would give us 50 different EPA’s or worse, where “market forces” would solve the problems of clean air and clean water.

That’s just one example, of course. And I should hasten to add that any good conservative supports a reasonable brand of federalism, not to mention a prudent regard for liberty and the taxpayer’s money that would force us to question the efficacy of hundreds if not thousands of federal programs. But, what many of the revanchists seek is not a “return” to first principles in the Constitution but rather a form of government more akin to an Articles of Confederation on steroids.

Another Tannenhaus point scored deals with the notion that movement conservatives positively hate government - government of any kind. It goes far beyond the healthy suspicion that all conservatives should possess of the positive impact government programs can have on society, and devolves into paranoia about any government program or effort to address stubborn national problems.

Here is where conservatism itself goes off the rails and feeds this paranoia, preventing conservative ideas from being brought to bear on national issues like health care, immigration, loss of industry, globalization, and adequate, sensible regulation of everything from financial institutions to the environment.

For it is not necessarily people who have become hostile to government but rather conservatism as a governing philosophy that has walled itself into a corner, refusing to confront a modern America that is less white, less agrarian, more urbanized, more technical, and developing a growing tolerance for government solutions to prickly, systemic problems experienced by ordinary Americans.

That last is the killer. Since the end of World War II and the rise of modern conservatism, it is been de rigueur for the right to promote the idea that government can be cut down to size, shrunk to an ill-defined outline that bears more of a resemblance to 19th century America than a modern society with all the miseries and challenges that reality entails.

The thrust of conservative critiques of the welfare state from Hayek to Kirk to Reagan has been that government is bigger than it should be as a result of it trying to do more than is necessary for the functioning of a constitutional republic. Indeed, a strict constructionist reading of the Constitution would cause anyone to question the manufactured justifications for everything from overly zealous government interference in commerce to the legislating of cultural issues from the bench. Conservatives rightly believe that “original intent” are not dirty words and that First Principles are in many ways as valid today as they were 220 years ago.

But over the decades, conservatism lost its flexibility in delineating a coarse ideology from this philosophy. By this I mean that conservatism has eschewed thoughtfulness for conformity. I’m not sure if you can actually pinpoint a moment where ideology trumped reason, although my personal line in the sand was the 1992 Republican convention and the rise of the culture warriors.

But that may have been the denouement to a decade or more of slow rot eating away at the foundations of a carefully nurtured worldview that fought for principle while recognizing that America was changing and that conservatism as a governing philosophy must change with it. The idea of reforming government - Reagan’s grand notion of a New Federalism, lower taxes, fewer regulations, and freer people - died in the fires of a cultural backlash that has come to define modern conservatism.

This is where conservatism lost touch with reality. The moment that the war itself became more important than the principles espoused, all semblance of rationality was tossed out the window and in its stead arose a mindless, knee jerk opposition to government and, of course, the left. As the living embodiment of Big Government, liberals became an enemy and not the political opposition. Rather than fighting to apply conservative principles to the art and artifice of government, the right chose to immolate reason, and turn its back on the reality of modern American in order to destroy their enemies.

As practiced by the most influential conservatives today, this is what passes for conservative thought. Tannenhaus correctly surmised that movement conservatism has won the battle against the pragmatists and now dominates the conservative discussion. I don’t agree with what he believes this fact necessarily portends for the future - a continued decline in influence and relevance of the right. In fact, as I will show tomorrow, there is cause for some hope that younger, more intellectually muscular conservatives who are questioning everything while searching for a new conservative paradigm that would re-integrate movement conservatives into a re-energized whole, may be the beginning of a conservative revival.

Tomorrow: Reports of the death of Culture 11 have been greatly exaggerated.


  1. Their worldview, shaped as it is by wallowing in the echo chamber of conservative media, and warped by a naive and ultimately uninformed ideological prism through which they spout nonsensical, paranoid conspiracies, may be relevant to the political health of the right but has little to do with the breakdown of conservatism as a governing philosophy itself.

    ‘Tis true.

    The conspiracy theories about President Obama’s executive order on Interpol are getting wilder by the day.

    Invoking no less an authority than Glenn Beck, movie tough guy (and political activist) Chuck Norris has taken aim at Obama’s Dec. 17 executive order extending certain “privileges, exemptions, and immunities” to Interpol, otherwise known as the International Police Organization, based in Lyon, France.

    (Never mind, as we pointed out, that contrary to the Man From U.N.C.L.E. fantasies of the blogosphere, Interpol officers actually don’t have the authority to arrest anybody on U.S. soil.

    Now Norris, famed for his expertise in the martial arts, attacks from a different direction. In a new column on World Net Daily, the right-wing Web site, he claims that Obama signed the executive order so that he can slyly, without anyone noticing, create a “secret vault” at Interpol’s New York office to conceal important records about the war on terror from the American public.

    “Is it merely coincidental that Obama signed this executive Interpol order, and that the feds want to try these 9/11 terrorists in civilian courts rather than military courts?” Norris asks in his bizarre and hard-to-follow rant.

    I had the U.N.C.L.E. gun when I was a kid. Best present ever after my Erector set. Anyway, great to hear Norris and his buddy John Voight sqwaking like loons to the Gelnn Beck wing of what used to be the Republican party.

    Comment by Richard bottoms — 1/12/2010 @ 1:30 pm

  2. You are totally on your game here, Rick. I look forward to Part Two.

    Comment by shaun — 1/12/2010 @ 1:47 pm

  3. They want to uproot the whole social order, or haven’t you been paying attention Which regulations like the CRA revision that mandated loans to those who couldn’t afford them, do immigration amnesties work, see 1987, that’s very
    arguable, do universal health care mandates work. Does releasing detainees back to the stalking ground, by misreading statutory precedents. You understand that the touchstone of the ‘92 convention was the Democrats endorsing the LA riots, that makes Buchanan’s inflammatory language maybe a little clearer. What is the good, the compromise that we are to make, because if the situation were reversed, they would be just as understanding

    What are you talking about? Democrats endorsed the 92 riots?

    Thank you for leaving a comment that proves my point about being totally divorced from reality.


    Comment by narciso — 1/12/2010 @ 2:49 pm

  4. Rick,

    This is a fantastic piece.

    In fact, as I will show tomorrow, there is cause for some hope that younger, more intellectually muscular conservatives who are questioning everything while searching for a new conservative paradigm that would re-integrate movement conservatives into a re-energized whole, may be the beginning of a conservative revival.

    Do you believe that these younger more intellectually muscular conservatives will exist in the numbers required to bring about such a paradigm shift?

    It seems like young voters won’t be as susceptible to the same fears as the current Republican voting block. The word socialism doesn’t carry the same impact, and generate the same fear response as it once did.

    That is not to say that there isn’t something that can be found that will spur them into action. I’m not quite sure what that might be though.

    Comment by Chuck Tucson — 1/12/2010 @ 3:12 pm

  5. I don’t mean this to be facetious, but isn’t the short version: Conservatism is disconnected because conservatism was just plain wrong?

    Comment by michael reynolds — 1/12/2010 @ 3:36 pm

  6. Aren’t these fundamental Conservative premises:

    1. Government cannot be as efficient as free markets.

    2. Government can have advantages over free markets in some cases. Unfortunately, the oblique consequences of empowering government to respond to such events can have unforeseen, and very negative results.

    Compromise is not anathema to the conservative mind. Change is inevitable, but the Conservative is going to be skeptical of it. In those cases where Government has grown beyond it’s proper borders shouldn’t we strive to reign it in? Wasn’t the Conservatives re-privatization of much of England’s nationalized economy both admirable, from an idealogical standpoint, and beneficial from a National standpoint?

    Perhaps part 2 will help me to understand just what it is that you’re getting at. You did mention a handful of things that, apparently, Conservatives aren’t properly dealing with:
    “health care, immigration, loss of industry, globalization, and adequate, sensible regulation of everything from financial institutions to the environment”

    It seems to me that from the Conservative point of view there are sound reasons for vigorously opposing health care. Immigration (especially if you preface it with ‘illegal’, which I presume you implied) seems also to be an issue that Conservatives would naturally resist. “loss of industry”? Not sure how Conservatives might be fomenting that: thought at first you were harping against free markets, and resistance towards protectionism, but then Globalization was next on the list… Globalization? Yeah, I can see all kinds of reasons for Conservatives to be suspicious of Globalization: economic concerns, tradition, national identity, sovereignty under national law, on and on. Conservatives need to be extremely skeptical of certain aspect of globalization.

    God knows what you meant by “adequate, sensible regulation”. Conservatives don’t accept the need for regulation? Who are the notable Conservatives suggesting that regulation is universally bad? Everyone, besides Communists, will disagree just what it is that needs regulating and the degree to which it should be regulated. Liberals will tend to want more, Conservatives will want less. I can’t recall any Conservative calling for none.

    After looking at the examples you cite, with the exceptions/conditions I’ve noted, it seems obvious to me that the positions adopted by modern Conservatives are completely compatible with the positions that our conservative forefathers would have adopted. However, your claim is clear: modern conservatism has lost its way. Compared to what?

    I’ll close with two points:

    1. I don’t believe that Conservative positions on the issues that you have mentioned are unique to some sort of modern distortion of conservatism. Your implication that we have somehow lost our way , and should return to the conservatism of old, seems baseless.

    2. You make the point that Conservatism must change to adapt to new conditions or suffer the consequences (irrelevancy, political marginalization?). That may be true. However, if our conservatism is in keeping with our forefather’s conservatism, with respect to the issues that you have cited, then what you’re actually suggesting is that conservatism change into something altogether different.

    Comment by Frank — 1/12/2010 @ 6:24 pm

  7. “Government solutions,” huh? With today’s political class? Surely, you jest.

    Comment by Anon — 1/12/2010 @ 6:32 pm

  8. “Government solutions,” huh? With today’s political class? Surely, you jest.

    Who’s going to look out for your interests, Exxon? Aetna? Bank of America?

    Comment by Richard bottoms — 1/12/2010 @ 6:54 pm

  9. Exxon and Aetna provide jobs, goods, services, and tax income to the public coffers. Bank of America, with its billions in bailout money, is now part of that altruistic government you seem so enamored of, so, gosh, I certainly hope you find them with your “best interests” in mind…or was that a bad investment?

    What do Pelosi, Reid, and Obama provide? Thanks, though, for a good laugh. The political class “looking out for my interests.” That’s rich.

    Comment by Anon — 1/12/2010 @ 8:11 pm

  10. Exxon and Aetna provide jobs, goods, services, and tax income to the public coffers.

    Two words:
    Exxon Valdez

    Two more words:
    Patient Rescission

    Two more words:
    Toxi Assets

    These conglomerates look out for nothing but the bottom line and were it not for the few restrictions the government is able to put in place your air would be dirtier, patients with pre-existing conditions would not be able to get any coverage at all, and the banks would be charging interest rates that would make Tony Soprano envious.

    No, I don’t have any sympathy for woes of the over-burdened multi-nationals as they race to the bottom for wages and working conditions.

    The GOP is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Fortune 500, the public be damned.

    Comment by Richard bottoms — 1/12/2010 @ 8:46 pm

  11. Another Tannenhaus point scored deals with the notion that movement conservatives positively hate government - government of any kind. It goes far beyond the healthy suspicion that all conservatives should possess of the positive impact government programs can have on society, and devolves into paranoia about any government program or effort to address stubborn national problems.

    Why is it that the United States Military is exempt from these discussions about the role of government? Here we have an institution, accused of being: oversized, inefficient, fecist-leaning, heavy-handed, unproductive (all with varying shades of truth to the respective charge); yet it remains an elephant in the room for Conservatives.

    These people sound very self-serving when their “hatred” of government turns into fawning over “the troops”. Do they not see that every marine, cadet, general, private, sailor, etc. is government personified? Why is it that those who proclaim: “love my country, hate my government” never have it in for the Pentagon; as if it’s somehow a Deity above and beyond their ridicule?

    Comment by Surabaya Stew — 1/12/2010 @ 8:51 pm

  12. To clarify, I don’t have it in for our troops and our military at all. I support them and the pentagon as much as I do any worthwhile government endeavor. Just wish there was less hypocrisy and more fairness when it comes to certain citizens “hating” their government.

    Comment by Surabaya Stew — 1/12/2010 @ 8:54 pm

  13. The extreme left is just as deranged as the right. As political moderate it’s like driving in a car with a couple of two year olds in the back seat screaming at each other about who did what to who first. My take is that people the extremes are the same type of people, righteous and inflexible in their views and completely incapable of rational thought when it comes to their ideology..

    Comment by grognard — 1/12/2010 @ 9:02 pm

  14. It would help your case when you write “a growing tolerance for government solutions to prickly, systemic problems experienced by ordinary Americans” if there were any empirical evidence to support this proposition (a claim you constantly make, as if repetition is an argument). As it is, there is none and this is your detachment from reality–and the inverse is precisely why conservatism remains the most widely held philosophical belief. If you want to criticize some for fantasy, and many do deserve the dig, it would help you if you weren’t totally delusional on this point or at least presented some proof. As all objective evidence shows, you are more whacked out on this particular point than Sarah Palin is on revisiting the 18th Century.

    Expansive government is why Obama and the Left are going down faster than a five dollar whore during sailor week. Why this escapes you is puzzling.

    Comment by obamathered — 1/12/2010 @ 10:06 pm

  15. [...] the case with today’s blog post at Moran’s blog, Right Wing Nuthouse. Entitled “Why Conservatism is Disconnected from Reality” he explains how conservatism in the United States has devolved into something it was never intended [...]

    Pingback by The Alternate Universe of American Conservatism | Republicans United. — 1/12/2010 @ 10:31 pm

  16. @Frank (#5):

    “1. Government cannot be as efficient as free markets.”

    I’m going back and forth with whether I agree with that statement, and my main concern is with what the word “efficient” means. It is an extremely emotionally laden word — who isn’t for efficiency? Who supports inefficiency?

    Pretty much by definition, any rules create inefficiency when compared to no rules in a micro sense. For example, EPA regulations limit and hamstring industry, forcing them to do what they do in a less-than-optimal (optimal for the industry)manner. So I guess its a fair statement.
    But from a macro perspective, the hamstringing of industry can create more efficiency than it destroys. As the OP pointed out, 50 sets (or more) of semi-local regulations would be far more complicated. No regulations at all and trying to fix any problems or issues after-the-fact would be a complex inefficient hassle for the nation. In that sense what is efficient for industry and the free market is not efficient for the country. Selling the Corvair knowing it would kill people was more efficient for business, but less efficient for America (deaths, lawsuits, etc.)

    As you pointed out in your second point, government can have negative consequences, forseen and unforseen. But the same logic seems to apply equally to free markets as well — Enron and credit default swaps as examples.

    I agree with the logic of the statements . . . but I’m not sure how they get me to the Conservative conclusion.

    Comment by busboy33 — 1/12/2010 @ 10:36 pm

  17. Perhaps I live in a cloistered world, but even the Tea Baggers I know do not fit the thrust of your post. You have been ranting for months about marginal groups and crazies, not the bread and butter, middle-class conservatives that make up the majority of the “movement”.

    I think Frank’s comment above strikes at the same idea, that you are teeing off on the showboaters, the wannabees, and the nuts that gravitate to any movement, but at the same time, you are seemingly casting aspersions on the majority of good, solid conservatives, who do not understand our current liberal-controlled directions, and do not see the sense in them.

    What they do see, and are frightened about, is the national debt projected to top $37 Trillion in 10 years, and there appears to be little the average person can do about it, except to voice their objections by showing up at Tea Parties, writing their congressmen (which most think is ineffective anyway, except in very specific cases in VA now with two Dems as Senators)and talking up alterntives where they can. Their votes will show this year and next, I believe, out of fear for themselves and the nation.

    So my circle of conservative friends are looking for fiscal common sense, starting as soon as possible. They are looking for a better way to afford medical care, too, and they do not see emasculating the current triplex of entitlements, SS, Medicare, Medicaid, as a sensible solution either. If there is waste and fraud in these programs, and I know there is, that should be a major point of attack, and it should have been the target for a long, long time. That we have not landed feet-first into this fraud and abuse situation is a sin for both parties and many Presidents. Entitlements will be our downfall if we do not find the right coping strategies very soon!

    There is no question that we need sensible regulation of the financial world, but also including relief for the small businessman that is overloaded today with Federal paperwork to little end but losses. The ability of financial gurus to invent mechanisms to increase their profits is legendary, and they do need a braking mechanism, but not a killing one.

    Wht I see, then, are ordinary citizens, who are indeed conservative in outlook, wanting our leadership to apply understandable common sense to all of our situations, both domestic and foreign. They do not see it happening now, and dispair of any liberal government showing them such common sense. They are fed up with liberal ideology, the closed- door horsetrading, the say one thing and do the opposite tactics, and with the evils of political correctness.

    It is something of a miracle that there hasn’t been even greater protests in the streets, and wherever else it would matter. That some resort to overblown signs and rhetoric is a further indication of the frustration and fear that is besetting many citizens today that they are betrayed and in jeopardy of losing their country.

    Just maybe, a new set of conservative leaders could set a firmer course, and allay these fears. I hope they emerge real soon now! It is certain that what we have now is simply not up to the job.

    Comment by mannning — 1/12/2010 @ 11:07 pm

  18. Re Mannning:

    Yes, as a librul I too hope that a “new set” of conservative leaders emerges to challenge Obama, Reid, Pelosi et al on matters of substances by offering real alternatives.

    Sadly, I do not see that happen in the short term with the Republican Party in the thrall of the Palin-Beck-Limbaugh axis and Tea Partiers relentlessly banging their ideological purity pots and pans. Nor do I see it happening in the long term for precisely the reasons that Rick so persuasively lays out.

    I find a lot to not like about today’s Democrats, but the alternative is far worse and even with Main Street anger factored in 2010 and 2012 will be disasters for the Party Formerly Known As The Big Tent.

    Comment by Shaun Mullen — 1/13/2010 @ 5:35 am

  19. Off topic but…


    How cold is it?

    It was so cold that the other day I saw a democrat politician with his hands in his own pockets.

    Comment by CZ — 1/13/2010 @ 9:15 am

  20. bang on! looking forward to tomorrow (been awhile since I have said that)

    Comment by mike — 1/13/2010 @ 10:21 am

  21. I don’t know that I agree with the degree to which you believe that modern conservatives are out of touch. But I do agree that they are hostile toward ANY view that is less “conservative” than their own. And they have attempted to co-opt Reagan conservatism as their own. It is not.

    Reagan’s philosophy was based on his belief in smaller, less intrusive government (NOT absence of government), fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, strong military, adherence to the Constitution and liberty. He did not believe that government should tell citizens how they must conduct themselves in their daily lives, but he did admonish Americans to be good citizens and to teach their children about what it means to BE American.

    That is the conservatism I believe in. It IS America — positive, optimistic, strong, responsible and free from unwarranted intrusion by government (foreign or domestic) OR my fellow-citizens.

    Comment by Linda — 1/13/2010 @ 1:04 pm

  22. Most commentators from the Right are apparently looking for the sensational, the appalling, and the frightening to report on about our condition here in the US. Those stories build audiences. The unfortunate thing is, they find such true and frustrating stories day after day when observing the throes of liberal government and the antics of other political animals in the DC zoo. The Left feeds the sensationalism!

    The picture they present is of a failing nation, and failing politicos, and then sometimes provide their version of a solution to this or that, which quite often does not ring true. Or, it rings true, but in the prevailing scene, their solution is virtually impossible to implement without a major revolution.

    If you integrate over their years of pontification, and filter out the over-the-top comments, some sense of a real conservative attitude and direction emerges, but to take their instant prescriptions as gospel is a schoolboy mistake.

    I claim that many, if not most, listeners use their common sense and their filters to come to rational conclusions about our problems, and I do not believe that all that many of them consider any of these commentators to be honest-to-God wise leaders of the conservative movement—merely entertaining spokesmen that do pinpoint quite well certain areas created by the Left that do need our serious attention. Thus leftist tempers rise!

    The meme that Rush leads the movement is a typical Leftist attempt to trivialize the Right, and, to be honest, it is somewhat effective. But, his audience of millions have not validated this meme, because they know his real status all too well, and Rush himself has rejected the meme as silly.

    Many that want to continue to trivialize the Right hammer away at Rush, Sean, and the other’s memes, for they believe it helps either the sensible Right, or the giddy Left to know the “truth”. Evidently, they resent the fact that these men have found an audience that listens avidly every day, even as these listeners readily discount in their minds that which is impossible and invalid from that which is possible and valid.

    We should have more faith in the citizenry on the Right, and some independents, to think things through. Sorry, I cannot say the same for citizens on the left that have helped to push us to the edge of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi–fostered financial cliff–and probably over!

    Comment by mannning — 1/13/2010 @ 1:25 pm

  23. While you and Michael Reynolds are calling the “time of death” of conservatism, Obama, Reid and Pelosi are vigorously (but inadvertently) performing CPR on the body. The results in Virginia and New Jersey weren’t enough for you, so I doubt that the special election in Mass. next week will hold much sway. So you keep on pronouncing it dead, and I’ll keep voting for the more conservative candidate. If by October, unemployment isn’t under 10%, the entire goddamn democratic congress may decide not to run for reelection.

    Maybe then, you’ll pen a poignant post about the death of liberalism.

    Comment by lionheart — 1/13/2010 @ 2:05 pm

  24. I’ll keep voting for the more conservative candidate. If by October, unemployment isn’t under 10%, the entire goddamn democratic congress may decide not to run for reelection.

    Spring will be a shock for how fast things improve. There’s so much pent up demand and the Fortune 500 has sliced things so much there’s no fat left. They can’t send all the jobs to India or work their present crews to death. Much as they’d like to.

    Comment by Richard bottoms — 1/13/2010 @ 5:05 pm

  25. What they do see, and are frightened about, is the national debt projected to top $37 Trillion in 10 years …. So my circle of conservative friends are looking for fiscal common sense


    The problem is that lots of us just do not believe this.

    I don’t believe it because I see many TBs as inconsistent supporters of fiscal responsibility. Specifically, I see many TBs as people whose concern for fiscal responsibility is greatly dependent on whether or not they like who is spending the money and what the money in question is being spent on.

    Comment by angullimala — 1/13/2010 @ 6:15 pm

  26. Yes, indeed, that is the problem! You don’t believe you are running the nation into the ground! But, there are those of us that do believe it with all our hearts.

    May God be kind to us all!

    Comment by mannning — 1/13/2010 @ 7:53 pm

  27. [...] I was cruising “The Moderate Voice” yesterday, a blog site dedicated to serving the illusion of mainstream Democrats that they’re “moderates,” when I was shocked and a little dismayed to see Rick Moran, proprietor of Right Wing Nuthouse and at one time editor for Pajamas Media, posting an opinion piece explaining why he believes conservatism is disconnected from reality. He cross-posted the piece at Right Wing Nuthouse. [...]

    Pingback by Plumb Bob Blog » Why Rick Moran is Disconnected From Reality — 1/13/2010 @ 8:44 pm

  28. Don’t you have that backwards, the media strove to find the dark cloud in every silver lining, if unenployment was low, they looked at the underemployed, or the income differential. every explosion in Iraq was treated like the Tet offensive. Katrina was treated as if Bush had blown up the levees himself. Everytime a terrorist plot was uncovered
    it was dismissed, and every Gitmo detainee was given the benefit of the doubt.

    Comment by narciso — 1/13/2010 @ 8:57 pm

  29. I have written a rebuttal to this article and published it here: http://www.plumbbobblog.com/?p=6417.

    With all due respect to Rick Moran, whom I believe to be a fine man and a solid conservative, I think rather than disconnecting from reality, the conservative movement is finally awakening to the harsh reality that we have ignored for a full century: that American liberty and the progressive movement are utterly incompatible, and that to accept any part of the progressive claim that governments exist to solve social problems is to accept all parts of it, to our destruction.

    Come visit and comment.

    Comment by Plumb Bob — 1/13/2010 @ 9:00 pm

  30. Kinda funny how there were no teaparty protest when the good ole boy conservative GWB was running up the deficit. Or wasting a trillion dollars invading and occupying Iraq. Nobody was crying “I want my country back” when he was president. But a liberal Democrat running up deficits,why, thats all together different,don’t ya know? All you people crying every day about Pelosi,Reid, and Obama, stop and think, how’d they get in power. Because Bush and the gop ran the country into the ground. And you supporters of him never said a word in opposition. So now, cry me a river. Rick is spot on in his blog post. Palin and crew have muddied the waters about the good points of conservatism. Now the modern day conservatism is just attack dogs. They just want to paint all Democrats as Marxists. Go ahead nominate Caribou Barbie, a woman who didn’t know their were 2 Koreas. What happened to intellectual conservatives like the late Jack Kemp? It just kills you people when Rick tells it like it is. The rightwing echo chamber doesn’t exist on this website. good.

    Comment by Joe — 1/13/2010 @ 10:23 pm

  31. Well said. I see you are vying to replace Sullivan or Johnson as the voice of the Beltway. You do sound as well informed and wise as those many, many denizens who live within the Beltway.

    Comment by Thomas Jackson — 1/13/2010 @ 11:03 pm

  32. Conservatism Today

    Perhaps I need to turn the crank much slower to recognize where some people declare that conservatism is “unhinged”. It seems to me that most of the criticism is about fringe groups and the strange positions a few that call themselves conservative take that are simply wrong, just as you will find in every movement of any size.

    The conservatives that I know closely hold to what I consider to be classical beliefs of conservatism, but those are rather nicely ameliorated by their understanding of today’s political scene and the state of the union.

    One criticism that I have heard a number of times is that of some conservatives insisting on smaller government. What they mean, I believe, is less government intrusion into our private lives, and more government concentration on its constitutional obligations.

    We do have far more agencies and such than anyone can understand, and they all vie to make their ideas of governance take hold, with ever bigger budgets and mission creep to match. This is quite often at cross purposes with one or more other government agencies, and the people are caught in between. So there is a need to examine very carefully each and every government organization in order to remove duplication of functions and decision powers, and to insist upon a valid and stable mission, while saving the taxpayer some money.

    It is a sad fact that much of the legislation of the past century carries the government beyond its mandated Constitutional functions and areas of responsibility, in order to meet what some insist is a crying need or even right. This creeping evolution of our government towards socialism or totalitarianism is not what our Fathers had in mind, and it is not what our middle of the road conservatives have in mind for “right-sized” government.

    There is little reason to insist that as our population grows and diversifies, the government should grow proportionately as well. It should grow only so far that it meets its constitutional obligations to the people.

    There is a right size for government that can cope with even a much larger population, especially when they employ modern tools of IT and automation.

    There is also a right set of government responsibilities and duties, beyond which it is the states, the localities and the citizenry that must stand up and cope for themselves, and not turn to the federal government in every instance. This right set is first outlined in our Constitution, and that set is amplified by existing legislation and laws in force at several levels—federal, state and local—which should be examined for savings as well by their respective legislators and administrations.

    Each state has its own Constitution and laws that parallel the national set, but with some significant differences. There seems to be a movement to centralize all lawmaking in the federal government, and to downplay state and local legal preferences.

    This is not what the Constitution specifies, but it is what liberals appear to want, because it makes it easier to impose their kind of thinking on the entire nation and every person in it through congressional legislation or from legislation from the bench. This direction most conservatives object to very strongly.

    What are the guidelines or tenets that most conservatives sign up to? It is a simple set to write down, but far from simple to live by:
    1. Follow Natural Law and all of the moral obligations, duties and responsibilities that are inferred from this law, both for government and for citizens.
    2. Uphold the Constitution and the civil laws derived from it, from both inside and outside threats to its sanctity. Show faith in these prescriptions.
    3. Uphold State and Local Laws, but resist the temptation to legislate every aspect of society, which would create massively more difficulties than it would solve.
    4. Maintain Traditions, Customs, Conventions and Institutions that have been established over the 230-odd years of the nation’s existence, and not change them without just cause, and due deliberation by all concerned.
    5. Cope with Change, since change is inevitable, but truly needed changes must be carefully controlled and implemented so as to minimize later unpleasant and unforeseen effects on the people, the society, and the nation.
    6. Defense of the Nation. A strong defense is most necessary. It must be maintained to keep our sovereignty, and to survive and prosper in this imperfect world, populated as it is by imperfect men and imperfect nations.
    7. Maintain Law and Order, both nationally (such as for our borders), state-wise, and locally. Apply our laws evenly and fully.
    8. Promote Mixed Capitalism, largely free market based, but carefully and minimally regulated by the government to ensure fair play. It is apparent that the government must not be in competition with the private sector for business and profit.
    9. Fair Taxation, where every citizen makes a contribution. The definition of what is “fair” for all is not a simple challenge, but it is one that must be answered satisfactorily. Excessive taxation demotes business and promotes spending for pork projects.
    10. Maintain the Right to Private Property, since it has been shown that freedom and liberty are tremendously enhanced by private ownership.
    11. Fiscal Responsibility, which means careful budgeting, living within our means, control of spending, and fiscally responsible legislation to name a few aspects. This is needed more than ever to rein in the spending that is killing our economy. We must return to fiscal responsibility.
    12. Promote Science, Technology and Engineering, since our modern world is massively dependent upon these efforts to maintain and better our way of life. Conversely, we must reject fantasy science and unproven assertions from pseudo-scientists bent upon their own gain, either alone or in collusion with others.
    13. Assure American Cultural Goals, which must include assimilation of diverse cultures into our American society, integration by means of a common language–English–non-discrimination before the law, and proper education of all our people to assume their roles and responsibilities in the American Republic. Support to families and their values should be integral to our governance.
    14. Freedom Must be Preferred over Equality, because we must not legislate for equality, only to find that we have legislated against freedom and liberty, and thus have seriously damaged or destroyed our republic.

    Given the above tenets, which I believe most conservatives sign up to, even TP’ers, just where exactly is mainline conservatism going astray?

    Is it in ‘peripheral’ issues? Which ones?

    Comment by mannning — 1/13/2010 @ 11:13 pm

  33. [...] Rick Played OnPosted on | January 14, 2010 | No Commentsby SmittyAn inadvertantly funny title from Rick Moran: “WHY CONSERVATISM IS DISCONNECTED FROM REALITY”. Emphasis mine throughout.I debated [...]

    Pingback by And the Rick Played On : The Other McCain — 1/14/2010 @ 11:52 am


    Pingback by Right Wing Nut House » REPORTS ON THE DEATH OF CULTURE 11 HAVE BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED — 1/14/2010 @ 12:05 pm

  35. Rick,

    May I suggest you stop reading books by Tannenhaus, and instead spend some time learning economics.

    If you’re interested, send me an email and I’ll hook you up with some free books to help get you started.

    Economics is a social science, it’s not finance. It’ll give you a better grasp of how things work outside the political arena, in the real world.

    Comment by theCL — 1/14/2010 @ 11:33 pm

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