“Same Old Wish-List”

Mark Steyn filled-in for Rush Limbaugh yesterday as Rush continues his cancer treatments. Steyn is always amusing and Monday he was insightful, meaning that he said something I’ve already thought for a long time.

The Left is always focused on its agenda, Mark said. No matter what the situation — good times, bad times, cataclysmic times or great victories — the Left always pushes for its goals. 

Now, we’ve heard this rant for decades. Conservatives crying about progressive relentlessness is what made Rahm Emanuel a household name before he became mayor of Chicago. How many times was his quote about never letting a crisis go to waste bewailed on talk radio, conservative TV and right-wing web-sites?

But rather than merely repeating that old impotent whine, Steyn correctly asked “Where’s the conservative wish list?” In other words, why is it that when a crisis occurs our side has no plan of action to push our agenda?

Or, as I’ve been saying for years, “When did NOT seizing opportunities become a virtue?

Yes, the new coronavirus stimulus bill put forward by the Democrats is the same old liberal wish-list, as Mitch McConnell called it; but that’s because they know where they’re going and are determined to get there. Where are nationalist and traditionalist conservatives going? 

If someone in the steering room knows where he wants the ship to go and the other guy in the room is happy just drifting, in what port do you think the ship will dock?  

Conservatism no longer means “leave us alone.” The time for that kind of libertarian nonsense is long past, thanks in part to its essential impotence, which allowed the Left to take power. (Power for libertarians is analogous to guns for progressives.) Day in and day out, conservatives of all stripes must push our legislators to enact our goals, especially when a crisis creates an opportunity to get things we wouldn’t normally be able to achieve. 

Zero immigration. An end to all affirmative action. Terminating PBS and selling its assets. Taxing the globalist rich. Bringing back prayer in public schools. Abolishing the Departments of Education, Labor and Energy. Making colleges co-sign all student loans. Raising the voting age to 26. Withdrawing from Afghanistan. We’ve all got our lists.

Let’s insist via direct action that our imperatives, not those of the donors, be prioritized every day by the officials our votes elect. You’re either on offense or on defense, and if you’re on defense you’re losing. 

Haven’t you had enough of that? Then stop arguing, debating and caviling. Get out the eggs and baseball bats instead. 

Your grandparents did.

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29 thoughts on ““Same Old Wish-List””

  1. Zero immigration. An end to all affirmative action. Terminating PBS and selling its assets. Taxing the globalist rich. Bringing back prayer in public schools. Abolishing the Departments of Education, Labor and Energy. Making colleges co-sign all student loans. Raising the voting age to 26. Withdrawing from Afghanistan.

    Make Lincoln Center a home for the homeless.   Heck, who are we kidding?  “Crush your enemies, drive them before you, hear the lamentation of their women.”

    [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyP6mWYtKIM[/embed]

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  2. You quip about libertarians is stupid and void of any historical context. Are you seriously going to say that the GOP was/is a libertarian Party? If you are you are ignorant of what libertarianism is. What, pray tell, are the libertarian policies OTHER THAN TAX CUTS that the GOP has ever championed, especially since Reagan? No, the problem was that the GOP never really cared about liberty, shrinking government, and “leaving us alone.” They were in it for their donors, no different than the Dems. They do know where they want the ship to go—more war and more friendly policy for the banker class. They just cannot be honest about it like the Dems are.

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  3. Please spare a compassionate thought for those benighted Republicans.

    The last time they had a Big Idea which they were prepared to go to the mat for it was — Ending Slavery.  So Republicans struggled, fought, died and eventually triumphed — they freed the slaves.  And now the descendants of those freed slaves overwhelmingly vote for the opposing political Party which fought to keep their ancestors in slavery!

    With a track record like that, is it surprising that Republicans no longer do Big Ideas?

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  4. [What, pray tell, are the libertarian policies OTHER THAN TAX CUTS that the GOP has ever championed, especially since Reagan?]

    Championed, co-championed or passively acquiesced to?

    How about: Free trade. Massive, unending immigration from the Third World. Business deregulation. No-fault divorce. Absolute separation of church and state. No restrictions on pornography. Gay marriage. Women in the workforce, in the military, in combat. 

    Are those positions libertarian or conservative? (Before answering, come up with exactly what those policies are attempting to conserve.)

    People speak of “the donors” and the “banker class” as if they are distinct from libertarians; but that group has long set “conservative” and Republican policy through its think tanks and publications. (Who thinks subscriptions keep National Review in business?) Most of them — Charles Koch, Cliff Asness, Paul Singer and Phil Anschutz — are strongly libertarian and have long urged the GOP to support — or not seriously oppose — all of the priorities listed above, which the GOP has.

    Now, they can’t be bothered explaining their reasons to us bubbas, but not to worry, they’ll have the famous conservative Jonah Goldberg do it for them, while sitting on his Asness Chair in Applied Liberty.

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  5. Freesmith:
    [What, pray tell, are the libertarian policies OTHER THAN TAX CUTS that the GOP has ever championed, especially since Reagan?]

    Championed, co-championed or passively acquiesced to?

    How about: Free trade. Massive, unending immigration from the Third World. Business deregulation. No-fault divorce. Absolute separation of church and state. No restrictions on pornography. Gay marriage. Women in the workforce, in the military, in combat. 

    Are those positions libertarian or conservative? (Before answering, come up with exactly what those policies are attempting to conserve.)

    People speak of “the donors” and the “banker class” as if they are distinct from libertarians; but that group has long set “conservative” and Republican policy through its think tanks and publications. (Who thinks subscriptions keep National Review in business?) Most of them — Charles Koch, Cliff Asness, Paul Singer and Phil Anschutz — are strongly libertarian and have long urged the GOP to support — or not seriously oppose — all of the priorities listed above, which the GOP has.

    Now, they can’t be bothered explaining their reasons to us bubbas, but not to worry, they’ll have the famous conservative Jonah Goldberg do it for them, while sitting on his Asness Chair in Applied Liberty.

    This comment is part of the problem with people who are woefully ignorant of libertarianism. “Free market” is a nebulous term that has no real meaning without first examining the policies put in place in its name. For instance, if the U.S. at the behest of supposed libertarian politician X signs on to a “free trade” agreement that removes tariffs of goods coming into the U.S. while leaving in place tariffs on goods leaving the U.S. going into the trade partner, then how is this exactly “free trade”? How is it even remotely close to what libertarians define as “free trade”? Isn’t that what Trump was saying about China, that they have tariffs on our goods while we have no tariffs on theirs?

    Immigration is another good example but for slightly a different reason. Yes, from a philosophical perspective, immigration/open borders is a libertarian ideal. (I disagree with open borders, but that is beside the point.) The problem is that THERE HASN’T BEEN A LIBERTARIAN IN POWER TO IMPLEMENT IT!!! Name the libertarian member of the Senate’s gang of six? You remember them, the group headed by McCain (yeah Mr. Libertarian there) charged with shepherding a comprehensive immigration law through the Senate? Or was it Bush 43 in 2006 who was the epitome of libertarian pushing for open borders? As for the conservative aspect to this part of your comment, I agree. What exactly is it that conservatives want to conserve? But then I ask that about them on a whole host of issues.

    Now the real seductive part of your comment. Are there “libertarian” donors to politicians? Yes. Are those people actually libertarians in that they do not advocate for federal government protection from business risks? That is the real question I think. Has Koch Industries been a willful recipient of any type of bailout money going back to 2008? Are they bidders on government contracts? Dido the other names you mentioned. Another great question is, if they have advocated against bailouts, how much of those bailouts go to competitors of their companies? Libertarians do not believe in using the government in anyway to harm another, especially in the business world. I think the Kochs are pretty good in this regard, but I don’t know about the other names you mentioned. And mentioning Jonah “Bomb Third World Countries Every Ten Years” Goldberg is a laughable example of a “libertarian.” He whose think tank AEI is one of the biggest recipients of defense contractor donor money in Washington DC.

    Once again, having displayed your complete ignorance of the vast wealth of libertarian thought that is available, I will list a few here so that you might have more understanding beyond the Kochs and AEI.

    1) Mises Institute

    2) Prof. Tom Woods

    3) Prof. Robert Murphy

    4) Gene Epstein of the SoHo Forum

    5) Murray Rothbard (he will be a great source for you regarding bankers)

    6) Lew Rockwell

    Finally, I will say this: there is nothing about the GOP, particularly the leadership of that party, that is libertarian. They are protectors of the financial interests of the U.S. They are beholden to globalist entities. Of the few who could be named as libertarians, they hold absolutely zero sway in the direction of the party.

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  6. Robert A. McReynolds:
    Yes, from a philosophical perspective, immigration/open borders is a libertarian ideal. (I disagree with open borders, but that is beside the point.)

    The old joke was that if you put two libertarians in a room they’ll have three mutually contradictory opinions on any topic. Now we see that one libertarian in a comment holds two mutually contradictory opinions simultaneously.

    An alternative explanation is that Robert does not subscribe to libertarian ideals. He’s no true libertarian.

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  7. It is hard to tell because a lot of people are in the bleachers with libertarian uniforms on. They look the part and the tell us they are players.

    For some politicians they become conservatives before elections. They have binders full of promises.

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  8. drlorentz:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    Yes, from a philosophical perspective, immigration/open borders is a libertarian ideal. (I disagree with open borders, but that is beside the point.)

    The old joke was that if you put two libertarians in a room they’ll have three mutually contradictory opinions on any topic. Now we see that one libertarian in a comment holds two mutually contradictory opinions simultaneously.

    An alternative explanation is that Robert does not subscribe to libertarian ideals. He’s no true libertarian.

    I just think the open borders crowd tend to also be in the anarchy-capitalist crowd meaning they don’t want there to be a state. I find that to be fantasy. States will exist so long as there is man. So since states must exist, it is important that they have borders.

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  9. The bigger problem is laying at the feet of libertarianism a problem that is hardly the fault of libertarianism. How can it be the problem when there hasn’t been anyone espousing its ideas/ideals in power? That is the fallacy here.

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  10. Robert A. McReynolds:
    The bigger problem is laying at the feet of libertarianism a problem that is hardly the fault of libertarianism. How can it be the problem when there hasn’t been anyone espousing its ideas/ideals in power? That is the fallacy here.

    Robert, what if a person calling themselves a libertarian espouses these ideas? From the outside that looks like libertarianism. From the outside the heretic and the true believer gets lumped together. It really makes it hard to have a good discussion.

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  11. Robert A. McReynolds:

    drlorentz:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    Yes, from a philosophical perspective, immigration/open borders is a libertarian ideal. (I disagree with open borders, but that is beside the point.)

    The old joke was that if you put two libertarians in a room they’ll have three mutually contradictory opinions on any topic. Now we see that one libertarian in a comment holds two mutually contradictory opinions simultaneously.

    An alternative explanation is that Robert does not subscribe to libertarian ideals. He’s no true libertarian.

    I just think the open borders crowd tend to also be in the anarchy-capitalist crowd meaning they don’t want there to be a state. I find that to be fantasy. States will exist so long as there is man. So since states must exist, it is important that they have borders.

    Open borders, or at least relatively free movement of people, could work in an ideal libertarian state, i.e., one that had no welfare system. Since eliminating all welfare and safety nets is not a realizable option, open borders are insane.

    A further objection to open borders has nothing to do with financial considerations. The ideal, open-borders libertarian state with no government benefits relies upon Magic Dirt Theory, which holds that all newcomers become libertarians the moment they step on the magical soil of the libertarian land. The soil is so powerful that it can instantly transform dyed-in-the-wool socialists into libertarians.

    The usual riposte to this objection is that anyone who seeks to enter the libertarian utopia does so because he agrees with the ideology. The same argument is made for immigration to non-libertarian lands such as the US: they come here seeking freedom. While this is often true, people emigrate from the lands of their birth for many other reasons and may be hostile to the civic values of their adopted country.

    One often hears justified fears from Texans, Montanans, and other red-staters that Californians and similar leftists will move into their states and transform them into the leftist hellholes they abandoned. Ironically, some of these same CivNats will celebrate the wonders of immigration. Somehow, it hasn’t occurred to these folks that most of the world is an even worse leftist hellhole than California. Hard to believe, I know.

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  12. I see the left beating the right because they have a better narrative/story. They have framed the conservative wish list falsely so neutralizes it. The right needs to get the messaging better so the agenda can pass.

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  13. 10 Cents:
    Robert, what if a person calling themselves a libertarian espouses these ideas? From the outside that looks like libertarianism.

    Why should anybody expect people who consider themselves “libertarians” to agree on a consistent set of principles and policies?  Certainly nobody has such an expectation for other broad-based political terms such as “conservative” or “progressive”.  The Reagan White House was like a conservative all star team, but there was bitter infighting among the deficit hawks and tax cutters, the social conservatives, and the cold warriors for their pet priorities, which often conflicted with one another.

    Similarly, libertarians range all over the place: from anarcho-capitalists, those who put the non-aggression principle first, to classical liberals such as Richard Epstein who has a column and podcast called “The Libertarian”.  I don’t think there’s any wider a diversity of views among self-proclaimed libertarians than there are for other designations such as “conservative” or “Christian”.

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  14. John Walker:

    10 Cents:
    Robert, what if a person calling themselves a libertarian espouses these ideas? From the outside that looks like libertarianism.

    Why should anybody expect people who consider themselves “libertarians” to agree on a consistent set of principles and policies?  Certainly nobody has such an expectation for other broad-based political terms such as “conservative” or “progressive”.  The Reagan White House was like a conservative all star team, but there was bitter infighting among the deficit hawks and tax cutters, the social conservatives, and the cold warriors for their pet priorities, which often conflicted with one another.

    Similarly, libertarians range all over the place: from anarcho-capitalists, those who put the non-aggression principle first, to classical liberals such as Richard Epstein who has a column and podcast called “The Libertarian”.  I don’t think there’s any wider a diversity of views among self-proclaimed libertarians than there are for other designations such as “conservative” or “Christian”.

    The difference I see is there are many recognized “flavors” of Christians and conservatives but not for libertarians. No one expects agreement from a neo and a paleo.

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  15. 10 Cents:
    The difference I see is there are many recognized “flavors” of Christians and conservatives but not for libertarians.

    “Recognised” by whom?  Certainly libertarians understand the distinctions among the different flavours and who belongs to which.  That those who are ignorant of libertarian thought don’t understand the distinctions isn’t surprising.  (I was once lectured on the legacy podcast site by somebody who insisted Ayn Rand was a libertarian, despite having read neither Ayn Rand or any of the top ten libertarian books I cited.  Ayn Rand detested libertarians and devoted many words in her newsletter excoriating them.)

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