Category Archive 'Conservatism'
19 May 2016

Why Trump Cannot Be Identified Ideologically

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19 May 2016

Reminding Trump Supporters: Trump Is Not a Conservative

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Gerard van der Leun yesterday reached down into a comment thread at to pull out this pearl of wisdom from artfldgr:

Remind me again where Trump, at least currently, is not a conservative?

Taxes, check.
Deficit, check.
Immigration, check.
Sanctuary cities, check.
Strong defense, check.
Supreme Court, check.
Veterans, check.
Common core, check.
Iran deal, check.
Israel, check.
Healthcare, check.
Pro-life, check….
Oh, yes, Planned Parenthood.

Taxes ? Healthcare? Trump is on the record on both sides on nearly all of these issues but, although he does talk about reducing some taxes on businesses and lowering the top tax rate, he has also been promising to raise taxes on the wealthy, and he has, more decisively than on any other issue than the Wall, come out for single-payer Universal Health Care. “I’m going to take care of everybody. … The government’s gonna pay for it.” (Breitbart)

Immigration? Well, Trump plans to build that ridiculous and symbolically-atrocious Wall, and I believe he would probably do that, but he also (unrealistically) has promised to deport 12 million people. The vision of weeping women and crying children being herded at bayonet-point to deportation cattle cars probably does please some of the Alt-Right Nativist crowd, but artfldgr is overlooking the fact that Trump has also, in the course of making those promises, repeatedly also promised that “the good ones,” i.e. the illegal immigrants lacking criminal records, would be allowed to return on “an expedited basis.” (Hot Air)

Pro-Life? Planned Parenthood? Well, the old, pre-presidential candidate Donald Trump was a basically religion-free, high-living playboy, who was, as of 1999, “very pro-choice” and probably a donor to Planned Parenthood. (On the Issues) What with running for the GOP nomination and all that The Donald “has evolved.” But he hasn’t evolved so much that he did not have five different positions on abortion in three days.

The argument that Trumpshirts most commonly employ in demanding that more discriminating conservatives should fall in line and start supporting Trump has to do with the alleged superiority of his Supreme Court appointments to Hillary’s, and just yesterday Trump released a list. That list was a good list, but… did that list really mean anything?

Ilya Somin, this morning, responded, pointing out that you just cannot trust Donald Trump about those appointments, any more than you can trust him on anything else:

I see little cause for rejoicing. That’s because there is little reason to believe that Trump will actually stick to the list. A list released as an obvious campaign ploy is a far less compelling indication of Trump’s intentions than his many years of commitment to using the power of government to censor his critics, and trampling on constitutional property rights. Just last week, he threatened to use the IRS to harass the owner of the Washington Post if that paper continues to cover him in ways he dislikes. Unlike on many other questions, on these two Trump has been remarkably consistent since long before he ran for president. Trump also plans to undermine the Constitution in numerous other ways.

When he discovers that most, if not all, the people on the list would be at odds with his longstanding commitments, a President Trump could decide to nominate other jurists, who are more in line with his own longstanding preferences. And he could easily find any number of excuses for deviating from the list.

Longstanding commitments count for more as an indication of Trump’s (or any candidate’s) real intentions than campaign ploys. Moreover, as co-blogger Orin Kerr points out, Trump admits that the list is not a true commitment but merely one that he plans to use as a “guide” because it is “representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value.” A “plan” to use the list as a “guide” is not the same thing as a commitment to choose only people whose names appear on the list.

In sum, we should not be fooled. Trump’s list is not a true commitment, and it does not outweigh a consistent record of opposing important constitutional rights and limitations on government power. There is still every reason for principled advocates of limited government to continue to oppose Trump.

Strong Defense? Under Trump, it’ll be Yuge. It’ll be the greatest, the absolutely best Defense. Trump will have a wonderful Defense. After all, he was sent as a teenager to military school, and he has the equivalent of combat experience, he has assured us:

Draft-dodger Donald Trump once said that the danger he faced from getting sexually transmitted diseases was his own “personal Vietnam.”

In a 1997 interview with shock jock Howard Stern, Trump talked about how he had been “lucky” not to have contracted diseases when he was sleeping around.

“I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era,” Trump said in a video that resurfaced Tuesday on Buzzfeed, “It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

Some may be uneasy, of course, entrusting Defense decisions to a guy who doesn’t actually know what the nuclear triad is.

Israel? Well, Trump has doubtless promised to be a friend to Israel. (He certainly is not going to offend Jewish voters in New York City.) But… Trump has also associated himself with Isolationism, and invoked the (thoroughly discredited) pre-WWII America First movement. There obviously a certain large quantity of historical illiteracy at work here, but that kind of talk was quite adequate to alarm a large number of US allies (Reuters) including Israel (Haaretz).

Basically, when you come right down to it, Trump has been on both sides of most issues. Trump has only the dimmest understanding of policy issues. Trump is poorly educated, not well-informed, and un-intellectual by temperament. Trump is unprincipled. He values fame, money, and success, and he is indifferent to ideology and ideas. Trump is very, very obviously extremely selfish and the crassest kind of pragmatist. He isn’t conservative, because he isn’t anything in the political ideology department. He is just for Trump. If he slipped into office, Donald Trump would have a great time. He’d bang more White House interns than Bill Clinton ever did, possibly occasionally on live television. He would feather his own nest, and he’d do things for people in a position to assist him or the Trump Empire.

He would probably forget everything on artfldgr’s list the morning after the Inauguration, and when it came time to appoint the next Supreme Court justice, he’d be about as likely to name his sister, former Apprentice Omarosa, Judge Judy, or Kim Kardashian as anybody on the list some right-wing expert drafted for him to release yesterday. By then, Trump will have forgotten all about that list and lost the original copy. He will have completely different fish to fry, and he will no longer need your vote. Once he no longer needs you, the Art of the Deal says you are irrelevant.

16 May 2016

Does Academia Discriminate Against Conservatives?

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William H. Simon, Columbia Law

Nicholas Kristof recently editorialized on liberal arrogance and the general absence of conservative opinion in Academia:

We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us. ..

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?” …

To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.

If anybody doubted that Kristof had a point, this particular letter-to-the-editor in response from a snotty self-complacent Columbia Law professor provides excellent confirmatory evidence. All you under-educated and wealthy out there take heed!

To the Editor: Nicholas Kristof exaggerates the problem of liberal bias in the academy. It is not the job of the university to represent all the views held in the surrounding society. The commitment to critical inquiry requires it to disfavor some views based on religious dogma, social convention or superstition. The goal of a community of mutual respect requires it to disfavor others, including those that are explicitly racist, misogynist or homophobic. Such views can be expressed in the university, but it is not a cause for concern that academics do not espouse them in their teaching and research. Much of the disparity between views in the academy and in the Republican Party is attributable to their varying social bases. Academics tend to be educated and middle class. The current Republican Party is constituted disproportionately of the undereducated and the wealthy.

That education leads people to different views is neither surprising nor, on its face, disturbing. And if it is a problem that the views of rich people are underrepresented in the academy, they have had little trouble making up for this disadvantage in the media and the political system.


Stanford, Calif.

The writer is a professor at Columbia Law School.

05 Mar 2016

When You Listen to Trump, You’re Hearing Roy Cohn Talking

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So, where did Donald Trump learn his distinctive and bizarre political style of crude, unlimited aggression? Who taught Donald to how to throw his opponents off their stride by confusing them by breaking all the rules?

Olivia Nuzzi says that The Donald learned how to win by being a complete ******* from the master, flamboyant attorney and anti-communist attack dog (who exposed commies with Joe McCarthy and sent Ethel Rosenberg to the chair) the Left’s all-time ultimate bête noire Roy Cohn.

Donald Trump’s brash and bullying style was learned at the heel of Roy Cohn, one of America’s most infamous lawyers.

They met at Le Club, a private disco on the Upper East Side frequented by Jackie Kennedy, Al Pacino, and Diana Ross, according to Trump: The Saga of America’s Most Powerful Real Estate Baron. Donald Trump, the young developer, quickly amassing a fortune in New York real estate and Roy Cohn, America’s most loathed yet socially successful defense attorney who had vaulted to infamy in the 1950s while serving as legal counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The friendship they forged would provide the foundation for Trump’s eventual presidential campaign. And in hindsight, it serves as a tool for understanding Donald Trump the Candidate, whose bumper sticker-averse declarations—undocumented Mexican immigrants are “criminals” and “rapists”; Senator John McCain is “not a war hero”—have both led him to the top of the Republican primary polls and mistakenly convinced many that he is a puzzle unworthy of solving. It may appear that way, but Trump isn’t just spouting off insults like a malfunctioning sprinkler system—he’s mimicking what he learned some 40 years ago.

A longtime friend of Trump’s who was introduced to the candidate by Cohn told me it’s a shame that Cohn’s not alive to see the chaos his protégé has wrought.

“He would have just loved what’s going on right now,” the friend said. “Roy liked upsetting the establishment.”

Read the whole thing.

Well, what do you know? Maybe Donald Trump really does have a certain kind of conservative roots, after all.

28 Feb 2016

Trump Not Only Is Not Conservative, You Can Tell What He Thinks of Us From His Impersonation of a Conservative

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Like Ace, I originally found Trump’s candidacy amusing, and I smiled with pleasure at just how much he would annoy the liberals and the sell-out professional GOP pols, but watching Trump in action, seeing his shameless mendacity, his infantile self-entitlement and narcissism, listening to his endlessly-repeated boasts and vacuous policy proposals has, in the end, scared the Bejesus out of me.

Trump is a vulgarian and a low-grade moron. Electing him actually could be worse than Obama, and that’s really saying something.

My problem with Trump is that he is a dealmaker trying to make a sale. Right now he’s trying to make a deal with conservatives — so this is the very most conservative we’ll ever see him.

If he gets the nomination, he now starts working on making the second part of the deal with the other party in the negotiations, the general public.

So this is the most conservative we’ll ever see Trump — this is the absolute most conservative he’ll ever be — and he’s not conservative at all, except, possibly, on immigration. He combines liberal policy impulses with frankly authoritarian or even fascist ones, which he thinks are “what conservatives want,” because, frankly, he conceives of us as ugly-minded, stupid dummies who get off on this shit.

That’s why he didn’t put the “Ban Muslims” line in a more palatable, persuasive form, like “Reduce immigration from Muslim-majority countries or countries with a terrorism problem to a level where we can vet each individual applicant.”

No, he put it in the most bigoted, ugly way he could think of, because that’s about his level, and because, also, that’s what he thinks “conservatives” are.

Even on issues like that, where I would like him to move the Overton Window so we can begin discussing a rational reduction of such immigration until this Jihadist Madness passes from history, I find he doesn’t move it at all, because he makes the issue much more toxic and alienating than it needs to be.

What does Trump actually know about conservatives? He seems to only know five things, which he repeats in such crude ways it’s preposterously insulting. Apparently we “love Jesus,” so he says he does too. He knows we love guns, so he’s so in love with the Second Amendment he wants to make out with it.

Does he ever explain the underpinnings of his belief in the Second Amendment, such that you get the impression if he’s challenged on it, he can break out chapter and verse on the amendment like Reagan would have and remained resolute in his position?

He senses we don’t like Mexicans or Muslims very much, so he wants to ban rapists and terrorists.

He knows we love babies and hate abortions, so he’s reversed himself from being “very, very pro-choice” and even supporting partial birth abortion to being so against abortion you couldn’t believe it. (But he’ll keep on funding Planned Parenthood because they’re a wonderful organization.)

He knows we love the military, so he proclaims himself, seriously, the most “militaristic” guy you’ve ever met. Then sometimes he talks about “bombing the shit” out of people to appease the hawks, and other times about a Ron Paul style isolationism, to appease his substantial Paulite wing.

Which is true? Who the fuck knows. I’m certain on this point he’s not lying, because I don’t think he knows what the fuck he thinks either.

23 Jan 2016

National Review Was Not Wrong

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Just because Trump is a populist does not mean that he is in any sense meaningfully conservative.

21 Dec 2015

Morning Laughfest: The (So-Called) American Conservative on the Triumphs of Obama’s Foreign Policy

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Pat Buchanan

The erudite Paul Rahe’s mind boggled when he read, in the September issue of American Conservative, a piece by Alfred W. McCoy, titled “The Quiet Grand Strategy of Barack Obama.” According to Mr. McCoy, the current president is a patriot and a far-seeing statesman:

In ways that have eluded Washington pundits and policymakers, President Barack Obama is deploying a subtle geopolitical strategy that, if successful, might give Washington a fighting chance to extend its global hegemony deep into the 21st century. After six years of silent, sometimes secret preparations, the Obama White House has recently unveiled some bold diplomatic initiatives whose sum is nothing less than a tri-continental strategy to check Beijing’s rise. As these moves unfold, Obama is revealing himself as one of those rare grandmasters who appear every generation or two with an ability to go beyond mere foreign policy and play that ruthless global game called geopolitics. …

But let’s give credit where it’s due. Without proclaiming a presumptuously labeled policy such as “triangulation,” “the Nixon Doctrine,” or even a “freedom agenda,” Obama has moved step-by-step to repair the damage caused by a plethora of Washington foreign policy debacles, old and new, and then maneuvered deftly to rebuild America’s fading global influence.

So what is this ridiculous hallucinatory liberal tripe doing in a journal of supposedly conservative opinion? Commenter Douglas (sixth comment down) nails it, and nails “The (So-Called) American Conservative” good and proper.

First off, there’s often little conservative about The American Conservative. No branch or tradition of conservatism is extolled there. It’s not conservative by old Tory standards, it’s not conservative by the standards of the old American Right, and it’s not conservative by the standards of the modern American Right. It’s “conservative” by the standards of people that argue progressivism is really a form of conservatism, and that Barack Obama is the most conservative president in generations. Mainly because he dislikes Israel as much as writers at AmCon do. The only virtues of the place anymore are admonishments to mind our own business and to be distrustful of the GOP.

While I’m sympathetic to much that Pat Buchanan argues, when he created that magazine, he surrounded himself with a bunch of nonsense-peddlers. They occasionally have the excellent article, but mostly are swamped by the nonsense these days.

So, the assertion in the article… that Obama is some kind of uber-wise, next level grandmaster at 3D chess really isn’t surprising. It’s right in keeping with the kind of stuff AmCon prints lately. The key to understanding most positions AmCon writers will take is “if it screws Israel, praise it, if it helps Israel, damn it”.

03 Oct 2015

Rara Avis: the Conservative at Harvard



The Crimson strokes its chin and wonders if diversity in politics should, or even could, be established at Harvard.

[T]hat conservatives come in small numbers at Harvard comes as no shock. For years, The Crimson’s freshman survey has found that liberals may outnumber conservatives in incoming classes by as much as five to one—65.1 percent of the 1,184 respondents to this fall’s Class of 2019 survey, for example, identify as somewhat liberal or very liberal, compared to just 12.2 percent who identify as somewhat conservative or very conservative. Last year, among survey respondents from the graduating College Class of 2015, former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton had a higher favorability rating than Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker—combined. A surveyed senior was almost 10 times more likely to have a favorable view of Bernie Sanders than Ted Cruz.

And the liberal bent—to put it mildly—is not limited to the student body. A Crimson data analysis last year found that nearly 84 percent of campaign contributions from a group of 614 University faculty, instructors, and researchers between 2011 and the third quarter of 2014 went to federal Democratic campaigns and political action committees. In the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, that number was closer to 96 percent. …

“Diversity? Political? Two words [that] can be put in the same sentence?” concludes freshman Sapna V. Rampersaud ’19, a registered Republican.

14 Sep 2015

John Wayne on Utopian Statism

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The Duke puts Claudette Colbert in her place in Without Reservations (1946).

08 Sep 2015

Stonewall Jackson’s Chaplain & Chief of Staff on American Conservatism After the Late Unpleasantness

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Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898), Chief of Staff to Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, later Professor of Moral Philosophy, author of The Life of General Thomas J. Jackson (1866).

Robert Lewis Dabney on Northern Conservatism in 1897:

It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent: Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. . . . Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always when about to enter a protest very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance: The only practical purpose which it now serves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy, from having nothing to whip. No doubt, after a few years, when women’s suffrage shall have become an accomplished fact, conservatism will tacitly admit it into its creed, and thenceforward plume itself upon its wise firmness in opposing with similar weapons the extreme of baby suffrage; and when that too shall have been won, it will be heard declaring that the integrity of the American Constitution requires at least the refusal of suffrage to asses. There it will assume, with great dignity, its final position.”

Hat tip to Boy’s Own Paper via Counter-Currents and Vanderleun.

Stonewall Jackson and his staff, photograph of Dabney is at the upper right.

21 Jul 2015

Sherlock Holmes, Conservative

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Sherlock Holmes lecturing Dr. Watson, drawn by Sidney Paget

Christopher Sandford, writing in The (always dubiously conservative) American Conservative, concludes perfectly correctly that Sherlock Holmes was everything The American Conservative is not “a Victorian libertarian—and imperial conservative,” i.e. essentially an older version of that now vanishing American species, the Goldwater Conservative.

Holmes is an individualist. In the best sense of the words, he’s a confirmed loner and an inveterate free-thinker. Holmes is often the only man in the room with a contrary opinion, whether about someone’s character or a set of circumstances. Even in his latest BBC manifestation, it’s hard to imagine him carrying a sign or joining a picket line. Instead, the tell-tale signs of the libertarian are everywhere, from Holmes’s dress-code—essentially respectable but with just that touch of the haphazard to eschew the orthodox—to his famously bohemian lodgings, and erratic but long work hours.

He’s the epitome of the sort of self-sufficient, small-state, freelance operator Margaret Thatcher surely had in mind when she said that there was no such thing as “society” in Britain, merely millions of innately free-willed and aspirational men and women.

Holmes is also a precursor to James Bond—surely another neo-Thatcherite—in enjoying some of life’s more luxurious consumer goodies. He frequently accepts expensive presents from grateful clients in high places, invariably travels first-class, smokes custom-blended tobacco, and takes hits from a jewel-encrusted snuff box, one of numerous gifts from the nobility. …

Here’s how Holmes sets the scene of his retirement in The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane:

    [The case] occurred after my withdrawal to my little Sussex home, when I had given myself up entirely to that soothing life of Nature for which I had so often yearned during the long years spent amid the gloom of London. … My villa is situated upon the southern slope of the downs, commanding a great view of the Channel. … My house is lonely. I, my old housekeeper, and my bees have the estate all to ourselves.

Surely this retreat to the heart, then as now, of Tory England speaks to the deep vein of traditionalism that lies under Holmes’s bohemian façade. The final stories may include some of the most outlandish plots of the entire series, but alongside all the veiled lodgers and creeping professors, the obsessive moral theme becomes more than ever the urgent need to maintain a social order under threat both from within and without. There’s no need to look further for proof of Holmes’s profound sense of disquiet than when he’s left in old age with a feeling of having “failed both my clients and myself,” or when he contemplates the coming ruin of the “quiet, ordered, harmonious, well balanced” Britain personified by Queen Victoria and the rise of the “brash, smug, self-regarding generation” yapping impatiently at the old nation’s heels.

“Is not all life pathetic and futile?” Holmes inquires in his 60th and final appearance, The Adventure of the Retired Colourman. “We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow. Or worse than a shadow—misery.” There speaks the true voice of the British conservative.

14 Apr 2015

David Yeagley, Comanche Conservative

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David Yeagley, 1951-2014

Vanishing American, in the course of discussing the eagerness of so-many today to utilize the moral jiu-jitsu of victimhood to gain status and power, offers up a very interesting counter-example, whom I intend to learn more about.

The late Comanche patriot David Yeagley, who was an ethnopatriot towards his Comanche tribe, also acknowledged that their White foes won honorably. The two sides fought, and Whites prevailed. He was an exception, probably one of a kind, to take this attitude. It’s so much more profitable to whine about how one’s ancestors were wronged and oppressed by evil Whitey than to acknowledge that they simply were outmatched. It saves ‘face’, I suppose, to claim that the other side ‘cheated’ or ‘stole’ or ‘oppressed’ than to say that one’s side lost in a fair fight. There is always a winner and a loser. But the left has subverted this; it has almost made winning a mark of disgrace and infamy.

This is where the ‘narrative’ becomes unhealthy: this exaltation of weakness and ‘victimhood.’ It encourages people to don the ‘victim’ mantle to manipulate and gain power by insidious and dishonest means. It promotes deception and dishonesty. It is not a healthy thing.

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