Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

02/09/2012 (10:29 am)

Where the Republicans Can Win Big This Year

Barack Obama has made a serious, tactical error.

The attack on the Catholic Church in ObamaCare is deliberate and timed for the election. He hopes to use it to pretend that the Republican candidate, whoever that might be, is a big, scary religious fanatic who is against contraception. He believed his focus group data that said most people would side with an assault against the archaic, corrupt, fanatical, religious idiots.

His focus groups were wrong. It’s going to explode in his face.

America is still a religious nation, and most people are not so stupid as to think that this is really about contraception. It’s about religious liberty, everybody knows it, and nobody likes being told what to believe.

So here’s how the election stacks up:

Obama v Romney becomes “middle class v 1%.” Romney tries to make it “Democrat establishment v successful businessman,” but it won’t sell. Obama wins easily. (Oh, and Obama would run to Romney’s right, and would be believed. Seriously.)

Obama v Gingrich becomes “known, sane President v unstable loon,” while Gingrich tries to make it “big government v better ideas.” It’s a tossup. Gingrich would champion religious liberty correctly, but Obama wins this if Gingrich self-destructs, which is, unfortunately, frighteningly likely.

Obama v Santorum becomes “status quo v scary neanderthal,” but what the people will hear is “big, oppressive, anti-religious government v ordinary people just trying to live their lives.” THIS is where the Republican party wins big. Not only does Santorum win this match-up, he would have coattails. Santorum would play well among Northeast Catholics, in the Midwest Bible Belt, and even in black churches. Republican candidates should win across the board in this scenario.

Barack Obama has handed the Republican party the issue of individual, religious liberty on a gilt-edged platter. Rick Santorum is the correct candidate to take advantage of this.

We have an opportunity.

(A note to my readers about Newt Gingrich:

I have represented Gingrich consistently on this blog as the best thinker in the Republican party. I still believe that he is that. I think that any Republican administration would be stronger with Gingrich on the White House staff as a political strategist.

However, after watching him flail and toss out bizarre, speculative policy options and distasteful attacks as he was losing the Florida primary, I have had to face the fact that the man simply lacks the personal character to sustain a long campaign against the Democratic party machine, let alone run a country like the United States. I could be wrong about this, but I have decided to put my vote behind Rick Santorum as the most viable, “Not-Romney” conservative candidate left in the race.

To be frank, I’m relieved at the thought of not having to defend Gingrich’s mercurial character. Rick Santorum is an unambiguously good human being.)

01/23/2012 (10:05 am)

The Roar

At last, a political commentator who gets it right.

“The Roar” refers to the response to Newt Gingrich’s refusal to accept John King’s recitation of his ex-wife’s accusation in the national debate in South Carolina last Thursday, and to the mood among conservatives that that represents. It explains why Gingrich is doing so well at this point. C. Edmund Wright, a national columnist and real estate mogul, explains in the American Thinker today why Gingrich won — and why the political class missed the fact that he was going to.

The math is clear. While negative ads can be effective if run in huge numbers — as in Iowa — what the voters are craving in the debates and on the stump is someone who can look liberals squarely in the eye and tell them why we are right and they are wrong. The American conservative base has had to put up with being called stupid, racist, greedy and unfair for decades by not only the Democrats but the vast majority of the media. The pent up frustration of these decades is magnified by the fact that George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush and John McCain would not or perhaps could not confront this.

In fact, rare is the Republican candidate at any level who refuses to put up with this and fights back. When they do, they become sensations. Even Chris Christie and Donald Trump — neither one a real conservative — earned the love of the Republican base by simply deigning to fight back. Marco Rubio and Allen West are far more popular and well known than they have any right to be simply because they refuse to accept the argument on liberals’ terms. They fight. They elicit the roar…

The roar is passion. The roar is intensity. The roar is pent up frustration. The roar, put another way, is the national mood of conservatives. It is a roar that will demand a fighter. It will demand that those who want our votes must not cower in the face of the liberal template. If fact, it is a roar that demands that we do not accept any liberal templates.

Wright gets this exactly right. We’ve all been watching the ominous advance of Progressivism eating Western Civilization for our adult lives. We’re hoping to find a champion that can make their sound bites sound like the inchoate nonsense that they are, in spite of the complicity of the press with them. It doesn’t really matter who does it; when strong men and women face down the Progressives effectively, good sense wins, and sanity returns to government. Rudy Guiliani’s New York, Chris Christie’s New Jersey, Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana, and Scott Walker’s Wisconsin stand as examples. Anybody who does it well deserves some credibility.

The fact is that conservatives are not “stupid, racist, greedy and unfair.” We’re thoughtful, compassionate, ordinate in our desires, and stand for truth and liberty. It is Progressives who have lost their minds, who represent the worst of seething hatred, avarice, envy, lust, arrogance, self-righteousness, and dishonesty, while pretending to stand for the opposite. The contrast between the Tea Party and #Occupy demonstrates this amply. We’re looking for public champions to say so credibly.

It’s really a shame that Rudy Giuliani did not know how to make this sort of thing his staple when he was running; as Mayor of New York, he was the King of the Roar. Chris Christie’s got it. Paul Ryan’s got it. And Newt’s got it. It might be enough to win the nomination, and the election after that. Conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals by 2 to 1.

At least it will be an entertaining and satisfying election season.

04/03/2010 (9:20 am)

Strategic Plan

Those who read this blog regularly know that I believe the United States to be hopelessly divided between two incompatible philosophical/religious/moral systems, and that continuing to attempt to cooperate in this fashion will result in civil war or oppression. I have committed to partition as the only means to rescue some part of the experiment in human liberty that the American Constitution represents, without fighting a devastating civil war. And I’ve said repeatedly that there is absolutely no point in continuing to cooperate in a political system with an opponent that’s completely committed to breaking the system as soon as they gain enough control.

However, my point of view is a tiny minority view. The mainstream of conservative thought is still trying to produce sanity within the current system with the current participants. The most incisive of these, Newt Gingrich, has what I consider the soundest strategy to bury progressivism permanently without breaking up the nation. He observes correctly that what the progressives actually believe is believed by fewer than 20% of the people in this nation; the only reason they ever win an election anywhere is that they lie like carpets about what they intend.

Yes, I know, Gingrich at times cooperates with moderates in a way that infuriates and confuses conservatives. I didn’t get his agreement with the global warming alarmists, either. But that does not change the fact that there has been no strategist in the Republican party that has produced anywhere near the sort of success Gingrich has been producing for 3 decades, and that includes Karl Rove. If you want to win, listen to Gingrich.

Gingrich gave the following speech at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend back in November 2009. I recommend that you listen to the whole thing. If we’re going to crush the neo-fascist threat of progressivism without dividing the nation, this is how it will be done. I still think there’s little point in leaving the traitors inside the system, but I’m willing to go along with this if we commit to it for the long haul.

I found the speech on Kitman TV, http://kitmantv.blogspot.com. Watch it here, or watch it there. The whole thing is around 45 minutes.

03/04/2009 (8:54 pm)

Newt at CPAC: Let's Have It Out

What follows is Newt Gingrich’s complete speech from CPAC. I plucked this from Newt Gingrich’s web site. I was not at CPAC on Friday and did not hear his talk until I visited his site; this was better than any of the speeches I heard while I was there Saturday. Gingrich thinks very clearly, and presents the issues very clearly.

By the way: I would love to see the Democrats try to turn Newt Gingrich into the head of the Republican party. He’s not (neither is Rush Limbaugh); he’s actually trying so hard to remain non-partisan that he’s practically forming a third party. However, the Democrats won’t touch him, because they know that what he’s advocating is actually the preference of about 2/3 of the nation, and touching Gingrich would be like touching the third rail. They’d turn crispy.

The talk is 46 minutes long, and focuses on the clear distinction between the liberty of a free people, that works, and the clear attempt to create a European-style bureaucratic state here in America, that does not work. Enjoy.

Oh, PS: you’ll especially like the challenge he issues to Eric Holder. It’s somewhere around the 7 minute mark.

12/10/2008 (10:29 am)

Gingrich on the Government's Role in Energy

Newt Gingrich sent his American Solutions subscribers a link to this interview he did with Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria. I recommend it to you because of the depth of the discussion, which is what always happens when you give Newt Gingrich enough time to expound his ideas. Gingrich is a history professor by trade, and his knowledge of American economic history is prodigious.

I snatched the embed from the page source at Newt’s link, but I’d appreciate it if you would at least click on Newt’s link and visit his page yourself after you’ve read my comments, so his site gets the traffic statistics. Besides, his video window is a bit larger.

The talk is 36 minutes long.

The principles we can draw from the discussion are these:

1) If the government must create incentives, positive incentives work, negative ones don’t. We didn’t build the railroads by penalizing wagon transport, we didn’t build air transport by penalizing railroads, and we won’t build alternative energy strategies by penalizing fossil fuels.

2) Government agencies don’t produce answers, the people produce answers. Gingrich argues persuasively for prizes as incentives, because prizes allow anybody to play and reward the final product rather than the impressive credentials of the players.

The interview is troubling in the sense that Gingrich here argues for a robust governmental response to current energy problems, an approach which I don’t particularly like. He does have a point in that many historical economic advances have been fueled by smart government incentives, and it becomes clear that he’s actually basing his recommendations strictly on what’s worked in the past.

Zakarias, obviously a very bright man himself, owns Gingrich twice. In the first of these conflicts, Gingrich fails to answer Zakarias properly on the question of the difference between positive and negative incentives. Zakarias takes the position that economically speaking, there’s no difference between taxing behaviors you don’t want and rewarding behaviors you do want. Gingrich eventually gives the right answer, but it’s much later in the talk. There are two reasons. First, the carrot always works, but the stick never does; even in the Soviet Union with the KGB enforcing, people simply cheat on government disincentives, finding ways to do what they want without the government knowing. By contrast, people will invest huge amounts of energy to obtain the right positive incentive, but have to let the government know in order to claim the prize. And second, taxing to create a disincentive always lands on the backs of the poor and the elderly, particularly when you’re creating a disincentive for something everybody owns, like a gas-driven automobile. But Zacharias notes correctly that with incentives, you tend to limit the answers that will arise.

In the second of these, Zakarias charges that the difference between “bureaucracy” and “strong, lean government” is just a semantic game. He’s wrong, but Gingrich fumbles the answer a bit. The difference that Gingrich is after is the difference between government actually doing the work, and government farming the work out to the best private players in a fair contest system. His examples of successful government incentives from history come from a time period when the government was not large enough to do most major projects without private help (although he does use the Smithsonian’s abortive attempt to build a flying machine as an object lesson.)

Finally, I have to note an inconsistency. Gingrich claims to support “carrot” incentives over “stick” incentives, but late in the talk speaks favorably about Alexander Hamilton’s plan to pass tariffs in order to create an incentive to build manufacturing in the US, which was clearly a negative incentive on imported goods. Of course, the level of taxation then was much, much smaller than current plans, and thus did not land so heavily on the poor.

I’m still not on board for government planning, nor am I all that concerned about the increasing carbon load in the atmosphere which seems to be having minimal effect. Still, this is a worthwhile discussion.

05/07/2008 (10:59 am)

Republicans Need to Read This

Newt Gingrich laid out the bleak future for the Republican party in a sober analysis at Human Events yesterday. Every Republican needs to read this and take it seriously.

Beginning around 1980 and extending through 2006, Republicans were given the reins of government by the voting population, and told “Take us in the direction we want to go: smaller government, fewer taxes, less corruption.” The Republican brand is in serious trouble now because we did not deliver. Republicans, often by attempting to cooperate with Democrats rather than pursuing the Republican policies they were elected to pursue, allowed the government to grow, government oversight to grow, taxation to grow, and corruption and nest-feathering to continue unabated.  The public is sick of it; and while objectively the Democrats will produce more government, more tyranny, more taxes, and more corruption, the voters are looking at Republicans and saying “Not you.”

Newt Gingrich is arguably the best strategic thinker in the Republican party (yes, better than that magnificent bastard, Karl Rove). His list of near-term initiatives was drawn from polling data showing policy changes that a vast majority of Americans support on both sides of the aisle. Republicans can save their brand — that is, rescue the reputation of “Republican” from strong negative ratings — by announcing solid plans to accomplish these items, and then accomplishing them. Gingrich is correct in noting that any other action will result in serious, long-term losses.

The alternative, sadly, is socialism. That’s what the Democratic party is offering; and not mild, European-style socialism, but neo-Marxist socialism, complete with government disapproval of productive private enterprise, confiscatory taxation, and laws banning opposing points of view. If the Democrats win the White House and Congress in November, expect US sovereignty to be ceded to the United Nations on several fronts, vast expansions of government power, and laws mirroring the speech codes that oppress college campuses all over America.

It’s time for sober action. Call your Congressmen, call your Senators, and log onto Gingrich’s public advocacy site, American Solutions, to discover ways that you can shape the cultural debate. It’s almost too late. Do it now.

Update: Politico shares Gingrich’s pessimism about the upcoming Congressional elections, and lists several younger Republicans who may make a bid for leadership in the party if the GOP takes a severe enough beating in the fall.

02/20/2008 (9:03 am)

Michelle's Mouth, a Window to Barak's Soul

The Democratic primary seems to be winding up with a clear winner, but not the one anybody expected, so now we have to gear up to understand candidate Obama. Lo! and Behold! this week, we’re getting much helpful assistance from his wife. Thank you, Michelle.

Michelle Obama is a major part of Obama’s campaign, and has garnered him plenty of positive press. She’s professional, educated, articulate, impressive, not a bit shy, and America likes young, good-looking, professional couples. (Want to hear some press fawning over her? CNN, WaPo, Vanity Fair…) This week, though, she’s made a couple of gaffes on the campaign trail, so now she’s the target of some political analysis.

The furor was over two particular speeches: one at UCLA, in which she exclaims that “America’s soul is broken, and only my husband can fix it,” and another in Milwaukee, where she exclaims how for the first time in her life, the hope inspired by her husband’s campaign makes her proud of her country. Hot Air has the video of the latter, and the standard reaction, along with Michelle Malkin. Captain’s Quarters treated the former thoroughly, and Malkin weighed in there, too.

It’s not all that unusual for the wife of a powerful man to boast about how powerful he is. However, this gives us a window into what the real Obama is made of, and what he intends.

“Soul-fixing” first. The nation is facing real crises: migration threatens the nation, and Islam threatens the West. Obama’s rhetoric does not address those, however. He’s addressing a different problem: the nation is divided. It’s not an imaginary problem, but he’s not addressing it in a realistic manner; the problem is competing philosophical systems with vastly different moral hierarchies. High-flown rhetoric offers no promise to unite those, and Sen. Obama’s voting record places him firmly on one side of the divide, not in the center between them; he’s not the right man to solve the problem.

The “proud of my country” gaffe illustrates why. The Obamas clearly belong to that small set of leftists who believe the Sweet Land of Liberty we all grew up in is an international disgrace. We’ve heard plenty of this sort of talk over the years, only seldom packaged as “hope.” It becomes clear, listening to Michelle, that the hope they’re expressing is the hope that the nation will finally abandon its defense of true liberty and human dignity, and join the quasi-Utopian international community of multiculturalists, who find America disgusting but allow the Sudan to sit on the UN’s Commission on Human Rights. It’s the hope of the radical few, not of traditional America.

The man who’s actually producing a realistic solution to the problem of the divided nation is Newt Gingrich. His American Solutions initiative is gathering local activism to focus on issues where most Americans agree, regardless of party. It’s pretty remarkable, actually — polls reveal super-majorities on a surprising number of issues, enough so that Gingrich says America is about 85% center-right, and only 15% hard-left. The Obamas fall into the 15% category. Obama is not going to unite a thing.

I recommend a trip over to Gingrich’s site, at the link in the previous paragraph. Download his “Platform of the America People,” and gear up for local activism. This is where the real uniting is taking place. What Michelle Obama is illustrating is that Obama’s “fresh hope” is nothing but the same, tired leftist propaganda.

02/11/2008 (9:19 am)

McCain: What Next

Newt Gingrich has been busy. I wondered why he wasn’t running for President during the primary cycle, and it appears that the answer is that felt his time was better spent drawing up a conservative initiative. He presented it at CPAC (the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which I visited Saturday) to a huge, spellbound crowd.

Those who have been reading this site know that I’ve been pondering what to do now that McCain has practically sown up the Republican nomination. To a conservative, McCain is worse than merely imperfect. While some of his voting has been mainstream Republican, he’s made a career of mouthing DNC mantras for the past 7 years, saying exactly the wrong things about taxation (“tax cuts for the rich”), climate change (“cap and trade”), drug import policy (“drug companies want to keep prices high”), immigration (“jobs that Americans won’t do”), and several other issues. He sees government as a solution where most of us see it as a problem. McCain’s nomination positions the Republican party as the “slightly slower slide into socialism” party, leading me to believe I’m not a Republican anymore.

Gingrich addresses this in his recent book, “Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works,” and he presented his agenda at CPAC. His approach rides on the fact that Americans are nearly unanimous on a surprising number of positions, calling for changes that neither party has produced. Gingrich’s agenda lays out those changes and calls for legislators from both parties to sign a pledge to make these changes happen. It’s a bold and comprehensive initiative, and it’s been thought out carefully, as we’ve come to expect from Mr. Speaker Gingrich.

Here are some of Newt’s principles that address my concern about McCain and the Republican party:

  • We’re conservatives, not Republicans. We need to stop defending failed bureaucracies just because they’re supported by guys with an R by their name, to the extent that we’ve done that.
  • We need to stop obsessing over the Presidency. Political power flows from winning local and state elections, and after that, Congressional elections.
  • We shouldn’t waste our time on a third party. It’s a stupid idea. They don’t win.
  • Conservative bloggers tend to be pundits, where what we need are activists.

He’s right on all four counts.

So, here’s what I’m going to do:

1) I’ve volunteered to work on the campaign of a fellow named Jeff Beatty. Jeff is a former Delta Force guy who runs a security consulting firm, and he’s throwing his hat in the Senatorial ring to try to defeat John Kerry. A Zogby poll in July amazingly placed him a mere 3 percentage points behind Kerry here in Massachusetts. It’s a seat that the Democrats didn’t even consider threatened. We’re going to take him down.

2) I’m going to become familiar with the Massachusetts state house, and start making my voice heard here to champion sensible policies that most people will support. Massachusetts is a vastly Democratic state, but even here there will be support for common-sense initiatives like those Gingrich outlines.

3) I’ll hold my nose in the fall, and vote for McCain. I’m grinding my teeth about this, but it’s the sensible thing, and I know it. He’s bad, but by voting history he’s 70% conservative where Clinton and Obama are less than 10% conservative (my analysis of his voting record here, Snarky Bastards’ improved version here). Two Supreme Court seats will likely be filled by the next President, and McCain’s got Ted Olson on his staff for legal matters; we might get conservative judges, or at least moderate ones, where Hillobama will give us cultural radicals.

4) I’ll stop whining about the Republicans leaving me, and work my ass off to build a Republican party that’s responsive to sensible conservatism, from the ground up.

Gingrich was asked not long ago what chance the Republicans had for winning the Presidency in 2008. He answered, “Roughly the same chance as the New York Giants have of beating the New England Patriots in the Superbowl.” (!!) He points out that by that he never meant “No chance,” but rather “We’re the underdog, but if we prepare properly and do the right things, we’ll win.” For me, the presidential race has become second-tier. I’m going to win the local races for the Truth, and build a political party that will steer the nation in the right direction from the ground up. I invite everyone reading this to do the same.

Oh, and visit Gingrich’s site, and sign up.

02/07/2008 (6:42 am)

The Core Republican Debate

John Hinderaker of Power Line posted what is likely to be the archetype of the debate that will engulf the Republican party for the coming months. He chastises conservatives over their unwillingness to accept John McCain as their candidate. The debate is raging.

I believe Hinderaker is wrong. What we’re seeing is a massive reassessment of what it means to be a Republican. A large number of us are recognizing that the Republican party does not stand for what we stand for, and are wondering what to do about it.

One particular comment on Hinderaker’s site, by a fellow calling himself Lestat72, expresses clearly what I believe to be the core objection to conservatives going along peacefully with a McCain candidacy. Though in fact I haven’t made up my mind what to do yet, I want to reproduce this thought. Lestat, take it away:

We’re not looking for perfection. Here’s the issue: Whenever we “moderate” our views, it leads to the same goals that the Left pursues, just more slowly. Creeping socialism. We want someone to take a strong stand against the statist tide that threatens to sweep our country into European-style malaise. They’re winning – again, slowly, but surely. Every inch we give them is another loss for the cause of freedom.

There it is. Personally, I believe that the end result of the leftward crawl is something far worse than mere malaise, but regardless of that, the goal is actually to reverse the direction of the crawl. Reagan accomplished the first steps. We thought the Congress that swept into power in 1994 would accomplish more. We were disappointed. We thought George W. Bush would accomplish still more. We were disappointed.

It feels like betrayal. We elected these men to effect a very specific change. They did not do it. They compromised with the enemy, and some enriched themselves, rather than fighting the battle we had appointed them to fight.

Now we’re examining ourselves and asking who we are, and some of us are facing this thought: if the Republican party stands for just a slower slide into socialism, do we really want to be Republicans? For me, that’s simple. If that’s the question, the answer is clearly “No.”

I’m considering the implications of that thought. Again, I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do, but anybody who takes this concern as mere childishness is belittling a genuine crisis of conscience.

Hinderaker and other moderating voices remind us that politics is compromise. The truth is, though, that on a surprising number of issues, most Americans agree, and the only necessary compromise is over the small details of the plan. Newt Gingrich has pointed this out in the opening chapter of his book, “Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works” (Regnery Publishing, 2008). Asked whether children should be permitted to pray in school, 94% agree. Asked whether English should be America’s official language, 87% agree. Asked whether it’s possible to negotiate with terrorist groups like al Qaeda, 79% say no. Asked whether it’s important for government to address the Social Security crisis, 96% say yes. Asked if they support a single income tax rate of 17% for everyone with standard deductions for self, spouse, and kids, 73% say yes. Eighty-seven percent say there should be work requirements for welfare. Seventy-two percent say government should support faith-based initiatives to help the poor. And so on.

Says Gingrich:

The media tell us America is divided between conservative red states and liberal blue states. They tell us red and blue are equally divided… But that’s simply not true. The reality is that the American people are united on almost every important issue facing our country. The real division is between red-white-and-blue America (about 85 percent of the country) and a fringe on the left (about 15 percent of the country.)

This divide shows up in elections. Rush Limbaugh has commented on this repeatedly; when candidates stand on solid conservative positions, they win. Lestat72 again:

The idea that we must moderate our positions to win elections is demonstrably false. Consider 1980, 1984, and 1994. When the GOP runs on strongly conservative platforms, it wins in landslides. When it moderates its message/record, as in 1976, 1996, and 2006, it loses badly.

We’ve waited 20 years for the Republican party to decide to stand for what we believe. Now we’re being told the Republican party doesn’t really believe that.

What we’re seeing is not a tantrum, it’s a reassessment. If the Republican party does not stand for the sensible culture most of us know is right, then who will stand for it? Certainly not the Democrats. And if not the Republicans, and not the Democrats, what do we do next?

What we cannot do next is simply sit back and let it happen. A small minority has taken over the culture. Neither party is willing to stand up to it. Somebody must. It’s that simple.