|April 16, 2012
This is what the conservative movement has amounted to? Proving its few,
early valid points by decaying and effectively dying with a whimper in the
early weeks of spring?
On April 10, Pennsylvania ex-U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum suspended his campaign
for the Republican presidential nomination.1 Santorum, essentially
the candidate for the GOP’s social conservative faction, outlasted by about
two weeks ex-U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, essentially the candidate
for the Trotskyite (“neoconservative”) faction,2 who’s essentially
conceded the race and scaled back his campaign.3 Gingrich had
enthused an Israeli friend of mine. “But is he good for the gentiles?” I asked.4
Combined with the latest purges from the roster of National Review,5 the flagship
opinion journal for conservatives since the 1950s, despite its dull prose
and usually increasing squishiness on the issues, it may be time to
write conservatism’s obituary for real.6
Electorally, the “movement conservatives” are bereft of representation
for the rest of the 2012 primaries, which have re-exposed deep ideological
fissures within the GOP. The Democrats have more divisions, but those are
about group identity, rather than about the size and scope of government.7
The Republican factions exist within the same party by historical happenstance,
rather than coherence.8 In a more sensible political climate,
these factions wouldn’t necessarily be in the GOP, jockeying for control.
The Republican establishment has retained its lock on the party after the
Reagan interregnum. It’s like the ‘80s
never happened.9 Just the other week on “Mad Men,” a fictional character was criticizing
GOP establishment type George Romney.10 Now, 46 years later,
his son “Mitt” can reasonably expect the party to nominate him for president.
He’d make a competent secretary of Commerce in the Eisenhower administration,11
but contemporary problems require a more radical approach than he’s capable
of. Even if he loses to Obama, the GOP establishment would rather lose the
election than lose control of the party.12
Movement conservatives don’t regard Ron Paul, the remaining alternative
to Romney, as one of them, which says more about the deterioration of movement
conservatives.13 Even for a political label, “conservatism”
always had a vague, shifting quality to it.14 The views
that are identified as “conservative” now aren’t the same as about 30-plus
years ago, when I first paid attention to politics. Then conservatism had
a stronger libertarian strain than it does today, apparently.15
Paul, of course, has a better, consistent message and mindset than Romney
for tackling today’s problems, but he’d be hampered by the shaky coalition
of his supporters and the GOP establishment, with all the attendant problems
I described in my June 16 analysis.
Nevertheless, we patriots shouldn’t regret the conservative crepuscule.
The movement tended to be a toothless or controlled opposition to the corporatist,
managerial-therapeutic warfare-welfare state, and it snookered and stultified
a lot of non-conservatives with real alternatives to the corporatist state,
that were squelched (“We’ve got to be realistic.”).16 I’ve
read speculation that conservatism as we used to know it was a CIA plot
perpetrated by deep cover agent William F. Buckley
Jr.17 If so, that would a remarkably subtle – and uncharacteristically
successful – agency operation.18
Effectively, then, only Obama can prevent himself from a second term. If
he can avoid actually saying anything and keep events from spinning out
of control until after Nov. 6, he’ll win re-election. Not by much, but good
enough for government work. Then he can resume ruining the country.19
Whither the LP?
The above should benefit the Libertarian Party. Except the LP’s own problems,
detailed here since they emerged at the Portland
convention six years ago, render it incapable of exploiting the situation.20
The fake faction has run the party without
serious opposition for six years. At Portland, they had an opportunity to
show what they could do in a setting without interference from statists.
What did they do? Fuck up everything. Since then, they’ve dug in their heels.
They can’t even demonstrate results that would blunt outside criticism.
Recently, national chairman Mark Hinkle e-mailed a list of longtime luminaries
in the party to attend the “40th Anniversary National Convention” in Las
Vegas next month. That’s nice. What’ve these fossils been doing about
the party’s problems for the last six years – squatting on the toilet?21
The party choices for the 2008 presidential ticket
were a direct consequence of Portland. Then Bob Barr, the 2008 presidential
nominee, turned around and supported Gingrich in the GOP primaries.22
Running mate Wayne Allyn Schmuck – the party will take decades to live that
down, if it lasts that long – declared his support for Romney,23
then tried to back away from his words to play kingmaker at the convention.24
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the biggest-name contender, disqualified
himself for the presidency by his past cocaine use.25 Both the
American republic and American society are in peril. Both require, among
other aspects, clearheaded leadership to survive. In my thankfully limited
experience with former coke users, the white powder they used to drill holes
in their brains has hindered their ability to process new information. In
other words, recreational use of opiates renders someone more prone to status
quo thinking. One can observe the results in the past three presidents, besides
their deficiencies of character and ideology.26
If Johnson were still vacuuming fat rails of Peruvian flake up his nostrils
he’d at least have an excuse for his dimwitted grasp of libertarianism,
especially in foreign and economic policies.27 Unfortunately,
the other active choices aren’t much better, even if they can ace a urine
test. Of Johnson, Reason’s Brian Doherty wrote:
… [H]e seems to lack either the systematic thinking or moral
fervor that makes me trust him to reliably come to truly libertarian conclusions
on many issues. While his conclusions are frequently, even mostly, libertarian,
I'm not quite sure his natural instincts are.28
Austin Death Watch
The LP’s woes extend down to the county level. Nowadays I know if the Travis
County affiliate does anything only because I receive its weekly e-mail
newsletter. In fact, the newsletter’s about the only thing the TCLP does
now, in marked contrast to the high-profile activism before Portland. Thank
the influence of fake Rock Howard and his junior
flunkies, David Fried and Matt Finkel, who want
to cozy up to the local power elite instead of changing the county for the
better.29 Worse, we have the likes of Pat Dixon running for County
commissioner, Place 3.30
His behavior in Portland and since place
him definitively in the fake faction. Every time I’ve seen him the
past six years, he brings up Portland unprompted and tries to justify it
to me – the trait of someone with a guilty conscience. In fairness, Dixon’s
motivation is not malice, in the manner of the craven yet inept social climbing
of Howard or the alien contempt of Geoff Neale,
but weakness. Dixon is noticeably uncomfortable with his own professed
beliefs. That, combined with his tendency to go along to get along, would
make for just another reliable statist vote on the Commissioners Court should
he be elected.
For example, I had to read his Dec. 9 blog post three times before I figured
out he didn’t quite advocate raising taxes. If he’s joking or ironic
to make a point, he needs to work on his delivery.31 His likeability
only goes so far, especially when the Court jacks up your property taxes
again.32 As is, he needs to adhere to plumb-line libertarianism
to preserve what’s left of his credibility after Portland.33
To think that I, Miss KT, Angela Keaton, Rick McGinnis and others once regarded
him as an asset.34 Instead, he’s been a disappointment to
us all.35 Moreover, his two nonconsecutive terms on the
Lago Vista City Council demonstrated the limits of his approach.36
The punch line to all this is that the local papers, when they deign to
acknowledge Pat’s campaign, will denounce him as a “right-wing extremist.”
If only. Pat wants too much to be liked by people who regard him as a threat,
with good reason. They understand the implications of libertarianism for their
power and status, even if he doesn’t.
Ultimately, Pat’s problem – and that of the whole damned faction – is he
accepts the paradigmatic framework of his opponents. This is why the
fakes fight real libertarians or even flakes harder than they do their external
opponents.37 He may think he’s presenting himself as a middle-of-the-road
choice, seemingly unaware of where that leads.38
If he’d played high school football like this, the other team would’ve
chased him off the field. All he’s really doing is setting himself up to
be the next Jack Stick – and he knows what we did
to Jack Stick.
Besides, the local power elite wrecks Austin just fine without Dixon’s
The Chronicle concludes what Austin Dispatches did years ago: City policies are driving out lower income residents.
Don’t expect a conceptual breakthrough at the paper, though. The Chronicle
laments this because “families are practically becoming an endangered species
in Austin’s central neighborhoods, emptying schools of the students they
need to survive in a hostile public education climate.” Right, it’s
all about maintaining the statist quo.39 The Chronicle also gripes
about the City Council giving $8.6 million to Apple to expand its campus,
even though Apple is just benefiting from the logical extension of big
government policies the Chronicalistas favor.40
On March 2, the Austin City Council voted to ban bags, such as those you
carry your groceries in, after many years talking
about it. What’s next, a ban on toilet paper? The City also plans to
spend $2 million educating residents about the new law. It should take a
fraction of that to repeal it. Otherwise, expect confrontations at registers
and an uptick in purchases at stores outside City limits.41
As we might’ve guessed, the City lowballed the estimated cost of building
a 1-mile boardwalk extension on the south side of Lady Bird Lake. In 2010,
the City asked voters for $14.4 million to build it.42 Now,
the lowest bid is $20.7 million.43 The Capital Metropolitan
Transportation Authority plans rapid-bus routes for 2014, 10 years after the
original plan. Cap Metro thinks more buses on two routes with fewer stops
will actually travel faster and do something besides inconvenience motorists
stuck behind them.44
The Business Journal reports that the proposed Austin Energy rate increases
that small businesses and residents will experience the biggest bites.45
The Statesman reports that scofflaws have dodged $800,000 in municipal
fines for running red lights. Even though the City has cameras installed
to catch this, the other circumstances make it favorable to stiff the busybodies
on penalties lighter than those for parking violations. Other cities experience
the same. Officials admit they rely largely on “civic responsibility” to
collect the fines.46 As usual, their thinking is askew. If they
really believed in civic responsibility, they wouldn’t’ve installed the
cameras in the first place. Such approaches further stimulate decline in
civic responsibility. Also, civic responsibility suffers when the population
is too diverse.47 In a related matter, the Statesman reports
a rise in vehicle-pedestrian deaths.48
The Chronicle reports a white is challenging black incumbent Sheriff Greg
Hamilton in the Democratic primary for complying with the law and deporting
illegal browns.49 Federal agents arrested some local Arab bar
owners on matters involving guns, drugs, money laundering, murder, and international
terrorism. But if they had served high cholesterol food at their bars, they’d
face the death penalty.50
Unfortunately, thunderstorms ended by the third day of the South by Southwest
festival.51 Third Coast Music reports the City’s convoluted noise
ordinance is deployed by Austin officials to “thin out unofficial shows”
in competition with SXSW.52
Romeo’s, one of the best Italian restaurants in Austin and the setting
for my first real date with Miss KT,
has shut down.53 Manny Hattan’s also closed, leaving a metro area
of a million people without East Coast-style delicatessen food.54
On March 13, a fire alarm sounded through the building where I work while
I was halfway through a crap. I’ve been eating a bland diet lately, and
the alarm was just a drill besides. That is, besides the alarm drilling into
my eardrums. But that’s work for you: You can’t even void your bowels in
On Feb. 17, I witnessed the aftermath of collision at the Duval Road-MoPac
Boulevard intersection. On Feb. 15, the intersection lights conked out along
Burnet Road between Gault Lane and Palm Way. On March 5, a vehicle struck
and killed a bicyclist near North Lamar Boulevard and Kramer Lane.55
At the Stonehollow Place strip mall, a doughnut shop opened where a succession
of dry cleaners once operated.56 Probably explains why the owners
put extra starch in my shirts.
The RoomStore is going out of business at the Parmer Crossing shopping
plaza. A furniture store is relocating from The Domain to The Arboretum.
Yet another furniture store has moved to McKalla Place.57
All of them are among places where I spent my weekends in January looking
for a new recliner and dissatisfied with the selection.
The Business Journal reports Weirdo’s faces a price tag of $250,000 to
comply with City regulations to feature live, outdoor music.58
A mediocre buffet restaurant on Parmer Lane closed.59
Five years after The Domain’s grand opening, the bigwigs behind it proclaim
it a success in developing “Uptown Austin.”60 Construction continues
on Lone Star Court, which its developers intend as an upscale hotel with
a retro motor court feel.61 Except back then the motor court
couldn’t escape the low-class sleaze image.62 Now City
staff is considering asking taxpayers for $34.6 million in November to renovate
Burnet Road between Duval Road and U.S. Highway 183.63
Overlooked in the commentary about the late Whitney Houston is her early
‘80s participation on an avant-guard jazz-funk album by Material. If she’d
devoted more of her career to such challenging music, perhaps she’d still
On the Town
Feb. 26: I inadvertently watched the Oscars at Dallas Nite Club
while prowling for the next dance. I enticed new partners onto the dance
floor with expressions that Rudolph Valentino would’ve rejected as too hokey.65
Trouble was none of these chicks could dance.
Mar. 24: I attended the live theater for the first time in far too
many years, at the Institution Theater (props to it spelling the latter
word the right way, instead of aping those limey toffs) to see actors improvise
in the style of David Mamet. I’m still laughing thinking about it. Their main
performance, suggested by a theatergoer, a take on “The Exorcist,” lost the
Mametian tone in the second act and turned into
a quipfest (“Maybe she’s not possessed. Maybe it’s an addiction to sugar.”).
I’m still laughing.66
Mike Wallace, a cynical, pushy East Coast bastard who afflicted people
for decades, in between swaggering through CBS offices, smacking women’s
rears and unhooking their bra straps, died April 7, age 93.67
His career survived a wisecrack about how blacks and browns got ripped off
on sales contracts because they couldn’t read them over the tacos and watermelons68
– nowadays the president would bay for his blood for saying something like
that, even in jest.69 His son Chris carries on the tradition,
notably irritating Bill Clinton in a 2006 interview.70
1 Levenson, Michael, and Matt Viser. “Santorum Suspends Bid,
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3 O’Connor, Patrick, Danny Yadron, and Janet Hook. “Gingrich
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Nathan Hodge. “Path for Romney Getting Clearer.” WSJ 9 Apr. 2012, Eastern
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7 Sailer, Steve. “What’s Wrong With the Democrats?” TAC 31 Jul.
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11 Manly, Chesly. The Twenty-Year Revolution: From Roosevelt
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12 Karp, Walter. Indispensable Enemies: The Poltics of Misrule
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13 Gottfried, Conservatism in America, op. cit., 137;
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14 Gottfried, op. cit., x-xviii.
15 Doherty, Brian. Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling
History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement. New York City: PublicAffairs,
16 Courtwright, David T. No Right Turn: Conservative Politics
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Justin [Dennis Raimondo]. Reclaiming the American Right: the Lost Legacy
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18 Trento, Joseph J. The Secret History of the CIA. New
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19 Ventura, Michael. “It Came From the White House.” AC 10 Feb.
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20 AD No. 105 (Feb. 27, 2008); AD No. 113 (July 12, 2008); AD
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21 Libertarian Party. "Mark Hinkle, Libertarian Party Chair,
has 4 Pieces of Great News You'll Absolutely, Positively Want to Hear About
the fast-approaching Libertarian National Convention." E-mail to Dan Eisler
et al., 29 Mar. 2012.
22 Nelson, Steve. “Bob Barr: Libertarians Should Vote for Gingrich.”
The Daily Caller 27 Feb. 2012 <http://dailycaller.com/2012/02/27/bob-barr-libertarians-should-vote-for-gingrich/>.
23 “Wayne Allyn Root Tells Radio Audience to Vote for Romney.”
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24 “Key, Ayn R.” [Jason Gonella]. “An Open Letter to Gary Johnson.”
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“Wayne Root’s Clarification of Cunningham Show Comments.” Independent
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25 AD No. 142n1 (June 16, 2011).
26 AD No. 142n2.
27 Glaser, John. “Gary Johnson – “Libertarian” Candidate – Is
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Drugs. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002: 96.
28 Doherty. “Gary Johnson’s Foreign Policy: Libertarian or ‘Strange’?”
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29 AD No. 134n14 (July 10, 2010); Eisler. “Re: Judge Arrested
for Treason: Banned by Government.” E-mail to Steve Adams, 12 Apr. 2011.
30 Dixon, Pat. “Follow Me!” AL 20 Nov. 2011; Kanin, Mike. “Precinct
3 Race Likely a Rematch.” AC 10 Feb. 2012: 14.
31 Dixon. “Taxes Are Too Low (Opinion).” Austin Post 9
Dec. 2011 < http://www.austinpost.org/community-topics/taxes-are-too-low-opinion>.
32 Scheibal, Stephen. “At Heart of City, County Squabbles: Tax
Revenue.” AAS 14 Sep. 2004: B1.
33 Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism, op. cit., 629n87.
34 Eisler. “Further Thoughts on ‘The Takeover.’ ” E-mail to Angela
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Keaton et al., 5 Jan. 2002.
35 AD No. 98n15 (June 11, 2007); Eisler. “Re: Remembrance
of Fonts Past.” E-mail to KT Hernandez Woods, 10 Mar. 2008; Keaton. “Re:
The Story You Are About to Read Is True...” E-mail to Eisler, 11 May 2008;
Woods. “Re: Pat Dixon for City Council.” E-mail to Eisler, 8 Mar. 2007.
36 McCombs, Max. “Ruled by Principles and Conduct.” North
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37 Lakoff, George. The Political Mind: A Congitive Scientist’s
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38 Two Essays by Ludwig von Mises: Liberty and Property and
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von Mises Institute, 1991.
39 Smith, Amy. “Through the Roof.” AC 23 Mar. 2012: 14.
40 Denney, Amy. “City Council Nod Paves Way for Apple Inc. Expansion.”
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AC 23 Mar. 2012: 13-14; King. “How Many Apples for $8.6 Million?” AC 23 Mar.
41 Coppola, Sarah. “Austin’s Ban on Single-Use Bags Missing Some
Details.” AAS 3 Mar. 2012, final ed.: A1+; King. “It’s Official: Bring Your
Own Bags.” AC 9 Mar. 2012: 22; Stelte, Mitzie. “City Officials Approve 2013
Bag Ban.” CIN Mar. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 10.
42 AD No. 136n23 (Aug. 10, 2010).
43 Wear, Ben. “Bids Run Up Price Tag of Proposed Boardwalk.”
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44 Denney. “Capital Metro Awaits Go-Ahead on Rapid-Bus Routes.”
CIN Feb. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 11.
45 Garza, Vicky. “Small Businesses to See Bigger Energy Bills.”
ABJ 24 Feb. 2012: A1+.
46 Plohetski, Tony, and Kelli Rabon. “Camera Scofflaws Dodging
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47 AD No. 134n26 (July 10, 2010).
48 Bell, Brenda. “Dangerous Crossings.” AAS 18 Mar. 2012: A1+.
49 Smith, Jordan. “Sheriff Over ICE.” AC 23 Mar. 2012: 22+.
50 Dinges, Gary, and Patrick George. “Questions Behind Club Empire.”
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51 “Headlines.” AC 16 Mar. 2012: 17.
52 “John the Revealator” 3CM Mar. 2012: 8.
53 Wood, Virginia B. “Food-o-File.” AC 9 Mar. 2012: 47.
54 “Closings.” CIN Feb. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 5.
55 “Police Identify Cyclist Killed on North Lamar.” AAS 6 Mar.
56 AD No. 134n54.
57 “Impacts.” CIN Feb. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.
58 Garza. “N. Austin Music Venue Shushed.” ABJ 16 Mar. 2012:
59 “Closing.” CIN Mar. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 5.
60 Novak, Shonda. “Domain Fulfills Great Expectations.” AAS 18
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61 “Newest Domain Hotel Breaks Ground.” CIN Mar. 2012, Northwest
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7 Mar. 2012: B5.
62 Block, Merv. AP. “Boom in Motels Brings Thievery.” Palm
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63 Behunek, Sara. “City Pinpoints $1.5B in Improvements.” CIN
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64 Jones, Steve, and Ann Oldenburg. “Remembering Whitney Houston.”
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65 Bode, Carl. Mencken. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois
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66 AD No. 72n18 (Oct. 24, 2004); AD No. 128n18
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67 EAD No. 10n21 (1999); Rader, Peter. Mike Wallace:
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69 “Obama Joins Martin Debate.” IBD 26 Mar. 2012: A2.
70 Bossie, David N. Hillary: The Politics of Personal Destruction.
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