Send Out the Clowns

Austin Dispatches
No. 150
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.

e150fig1 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 help.

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

Neighborhood News

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 peace.

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

Cultural Canapés

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 be alive.64

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 

Media Indigest

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, Clears Path for Romney.” Boston Globe 11 Apr. 2012: A1+.
2 Alterman, Eric. “A ‘Worm’ in the Neocons’ War Plans?” The Nation 7 Feb. 2010: 10; EAD No. 9n20 (Oct. 23, 1999).
3 O’Connor, Patrick, Danny Yadron, and Janet Hook. “Gingrich Scales Back, Stays in Race.” WSJ 29 Mar. 2012, Eastern ed.: A6; Yadron and Nathan Hodge. “Path for Romney Getting Clearer.” WSJ 9 Apr. 2012, Eastern ed.: A1+.
4 Geller, Jonny. Yes, but Is It Good for the Jews?: A Beginner’s Guide, Vol. I. New York City: Bloomsbury USA, 2006.
5 Kurtagic, Alex. “When They Smell Blood.” Alternative Right 11 Apr. 2012 <>.
6 Francis, Samuel. Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism. Columbia, Mo.: U of Missouri P, 1993; Gottfried, Paul Edward. Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right. New York City: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007; Gottfried. The Conservative Movement, rev. ed. New York City: Twayne Publishers, 1993; Frum, David. Dead Right. New York City: Basic Books, 1994; Tyrrell, R. Emmett Jr. The Conservative Crack-Up. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
7 Sailer, Steve. “What’s Wrong With the Democrats?” TAC 31 Jul. 2006: 7-9.
8 Rothbard, Murray N. The Betrayal of the American Right. Ed. Thomas E. Woods Jr. Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2007: 23-28.
9 “The Eighties Never Happened.” Cast of Characters: The Rupert Holmes Songbook. Hip-O Select 4263, 2005.
10 “Tea Leaves.” Mad Men AMC 1 Apr. 2012.
11 Manly, Chesly. The Twenty-Year Revolution: From Roosevelt to Eisenhower. Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1954: Ch. 1.
12 Karp, Walter. Indispensable Enemies: The Poltics of Misrule in America. New York City: Saturday Review Press, 1973.
13 Gottfried, Conservatism in America, op. cit., 137; McCarthy, Daniel. “Ron Paul’s Party.” TAC 22 Sep. 2008: 19; Woods, Thomas E. Jr. “The Right State of Mind.” TAC 11 Feb. 2008: 33.
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, 2007:  8.
16 Courtwright, David T. No Right Turn: Conservative Politics in a Liberal America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2010: 6; Raimondo, Justin [Dennis Raimondo]. Reclaiming the American Right: the Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement. Burlingame, Calif: Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993.
17 Rothbard, op. cit., 160-162.
18 Trento, Joseph J. The Secret History of the CIA. New York City: Forum, 2001; Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, rev. ed. New York City: Anchor Books, 2008.
19 Ventura, Michael. “It Came From the White House.” AC 10 Feb. 2012: 22; Idem. “NDAA: Obama’s Betrayal.” 27 Jan. 2012: 22; Idem. “A Pattern of Subversion.” 6 Apr. 2012: 28.
20 AD No. 105 (Feb. 27, 2008); AD No. 113 (July 12, 2008); AD No. 119 (Dec. 7, 2008); AD No. 125 (June 20, 2009); AD No. 147 (Dec. 16, 2011).
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 <>.
23 “Wayne Allyn Root Tells Radio Audience to Vote for Romney.” Independent Political Report 6 Apr. 2012 <>.
24 “Key, Ayn R.” [Jason Gonella]. “An Open Letter to Gary Johnson.” Ayn R. Key 4 Feb. 2012 <>; “Wayne Root’s Clarification of Cunningham Show Comments.” Independent Political Report 7Apr. 2012 <>.
25 AD No. 142n1 (June 16, 2011).
26 AD No. 142n2.
27 Glaser, John. “Gary Johnson – “Libertarian” Candidate – Is Out of His Element.” 12 Apr. 2012 <>; “Key,” op cit.; Miller, Richard Laurence. The Encyclopedia of Addictive Drugs. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002: 96.
28 Doherty. “Gary Johnson’s Foreign Policy: Libertarian or ‘Strange’?” Reason 11 Apr. 2012 <>.
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 <>.
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 Keaton, 5 Dec. 2001; Eisler. “Good Ideas Whose Time Has Come.” E-mail to 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 Lake Travis Log 10 Jun. 2010: 1B+; Parker, Mike. “Bed Tax Repeal Fails.” North Lake Travis Log 23 Apr. 2009: 1A+.
37 Lakoff, George. The Political Mind: A Congitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics, rev. ed. New York City: Penguin Books, 2009.
38 Two Essays by Ludwig von Mises: Liberty and Property and Middle-of-the-Road Policy Leads to Socialism. Auburn, Ala.: The Ludwig 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.” CIN 30 Mar. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 1+; King, Michael. “A Taste for Apple.” AC 23 Mar. 2012: 13-14; King. “How Many Apples for $8.6 Million?” AC 23 Mar. 2012: 20.
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.” AAS 22 Feb. 2012, final ed.: A1+.
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 City Fines.” AAS 1 Mar. 2012, final ed.: A1+.
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.” AAS 9 Apr. 2012: A1+; Whittaker, Richard. “Downtown Bar Owners Face Federal Drug Charges.” AC 30 Mar. 2012: 20; Whittaker. “Mystery and Intrigue Grow in Yassine Case.” AC 6 Apr. 2012: 21.
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. 2012: B3.
56 AD No. 134n54.
57 “Impacts.” CIN Feb. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.
58 Garza. “N. Austin Music Venue Shushed.” ABJ 16 Mar. 2012: 3.
59 “Closing.” CIN Mar. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 5.
60 Novak, Shonda. “Domain Fulfills Great Expectations.” AAS 18 Mar. 2012: F1.
61 “Newest Domain Hotel Breaks Ground.” CIN Mar. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 11; Novak, Shonda. “Newest Hotel Planned for the Domain.” AAS 7 Mar. 2012: B5.
62 Block, Merv. AP. “Boom in Motels Brings Thievery.” Palm Beach Post 4 Aug. 1972: B4; Cooper, Courtney Ryley. “Camps of Crime.” American Magazine Feb. 1940: 14.
63 Behunek, Sara. “City Pinpoints $1.5B in Improvements.” CIN Mar. 2012, Northwest Austin ed.: 9.
64 Jones, Steve, and Ann Oldenburg. “Remembering Whitney Houston.” USAT 13 Feb. 2012: 1A; Material. “Memories.” One Down. Elektra Musician 60206-1, 1982.
65 Bode, Carl. Mencken. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois UP, 1969: 158-159.
66 AD No. 72n18 (Oct. 24, 2004); AD No. 128n18 (Nov. 7, 2009); “Theatre” [sic.]. AC 23 Mar. 2012: 55.
67 EAD No. 10n21 (1999); Rader, Peter. Mike Wallace: A Life. New York City: Thomas Dunne Books, 2012: 198-200; Weiner. “Fierce ’60 Minutes’ Interrogator Who Didn’t Blink.’ ” NYT 9 Apr. 2012, late ed.: A1.
68 Wallace, Mike, and Gary Paul Gates. Close Encounters. New York City: William Morrow and Co., 1984: 427-429.
69 “Obama Joins Martin Debate.” IBD 26 Mar. 2012: A2.
70 Bossie, David N. Hillary: The Politics of Personal Destruction. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2008: 95.