Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Neo-Con Repents

"We increased the size of government in the false hope that we could bribe the public into keeping us in office," sayeth non-neo-con John McCain today. But it sure works for the Democrats, so why not the GOP?

Adam Smith's wonderfully wise and sadly overlooked other book, The Theory of the Moral Sentiments (1759), tells us why:

We do not, therefore, thoroughly and heartily sympathize with the gratitude of one man towards another, merely because this other has been the cause of his good fortune, unless he has been the cause of it from motives which we entirely go along with. Our heart must adopt the principles of the agent, and go along with all the affections which influenced his conduct...If in the conduct of the benefactor there appears to have been no propriety, how beneficial soever its effects, it does not seem to demand, or necessarily to require, any proportionable recompense.

In other words, since the GOP is not known for "caring about people like me," as the pollsters so disingenuously put it (and a perception the Democrats spend a considerable amount of their time reinforcing), "compassionate conservatism" was playing a game it could not win. No matter how much largesse it spread around, no matter what good it achieved, no matter how many people it may have helped, it would and could never receive a whit of credit for it.

As a battered and bruised neo-con (if neo-conism still exists at all), I can say it was still worth a try, but I must defer to the wisdom of the ages, and the estimable Mr. Smith. The Theory of the Moral Sentiments is the Democrats' playbook, and stealing pages from it is folly, since they can get credit for doing absolutely nothing just by paying lipservice to "caring."

Strangely enough, the playbook for the party of Lincoln, evangelicals and others not bent toward materialist philosophy remains Adam Smith's second tome, An Inquiry into the Nature And Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), a far more worldly tract.

"[Americans] still prefer common sense conservatism to the alternative...Common sense conservatives believe that the government that governs least governs best, that government should do only those things individuals cannot do for themselves and do them efficiently," McCain addeth sagely, and hopefully.

Squabble by Dems

Democrats struggle to get House in order
Party's diversity will test its unity

is the head on p-1 Chi Trib, bottom left. Story by Zuckman reads well, has the Will Rogers item up front, reference to his

once-clever statement that he was not a member of any organized political party, he was a Democrat.

But to make their struggle the price paid for diversity, that shibboleth of contemporary socio-political talk, as in the head, is suspicious. We are used to newspapers talking this way about Dems. It's conventional wisdom. When splits occur among Republicans, however, it's a fight between conservatives and moderates, with sympathies in direction of the latter.

And of course, there's the admirable distance achieved in reporting Republican announcements or tactics. You can count on it: no reporter will be fooled by Karl Rove. With Dems, on the other hand, there's affection: there they go again, those lovable rascals.

So I see it. I could be wrong.

PlayStation 3 Revealed!

Everybody and her sister is lined up and literally (if not illiterally) camping outside the stores for the long-anticipated release of PS3 come midnight Friday.

And who can blame her or the occasional boy, either? PlayStation 3 is the most significant event of the 21st century, with the possible exeception of those planes flying into those New York City buildings and stuff.

But to properly appreciate the best new game of PS3, you need to know just a few pad commands first:

IaX1a=Up/Under/Left/Down/Over/Up, etc. and so forth

J74=Scratch My Nose
Za41=Play Metallica on my iPod
J92=Pop Cheez-Its in my Mouth
Ka7=Do My Homework
X89=Evacuate my Bladder/Bowels
(alt+ctrl+del)=Kill My Brother

Important Notes:

---Add a sysstat command to print things like number of clock cycles spent in the idle thread
---Add a psplink.ini option for a startup script, by specifying this a script will be run every time psplink is reset
---Add a uidinfo command to print some more info about a specific UID

(Well, duh!)

Safety Note: Do not use PS3 within 500 feet of lightning, water, a church or school, or a television.

That's about it. Here's a screenshot of the latest and greatest. It's called SuperDeathMatchUltraMegaSnoopDoggDisneySears Mark VII, for lack of a better term:
Enjoy, kids.

Thank God for PlayStation 3. Life is so much more fun now than it was in the olden days. This is a great time to be alive.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Democrats' New Age Conservatism—and the Viable Alternative

My recent National Review Online article on the political philosophy implications of the Republicans' loss in last week's elections has spurred a discussion about classical liberalism on my Karnick on Culture site, a discussion which I cordially invite all to join.

In my NR piece I brought up two relatively new notions: one is that today's Democrats are the real conservatives of our time--New Age Conservatives who want to preserve what there is to conserve today in American politics: "a high-taxing, high-spending welfare state; a political system in which incumbents have all the advantages; a flood of illegal immigration; increasing state-level socialism; a public education system that appears deliberately designed to keep people ignorant; the worst, most libertine aspects of the Sexual Revolution; a health-care system that is increasingly under government control; a new Cold War in which Islam and the West remain just short of open war; and so on."

My conclusion: "The Right lost because the Republicans failed to govern as classical liberals. Instead, in the economic sphere they ran up huge, unnecessary budget deficits attributable solely to massive spending increases. Small government went out the window as the Republicans massively increased federal control over elementary and secondary schools and passed numerous constraints on political freedom in the Homeland Security Act and the McCain-Feingold restrictions on political speech."

Here, I noted, is how the Democrats' New Age Conservatism played out: "The Democrats, for their part, ran as conservatives of the new kind — New Age conservatives. They presented themselves as against prolonging what they characterized as a failed Iraq adventure, against economic giveaways to the rich (meaning tax cuts), against Bush administration failures to reign in outlaws such as bin Laden and Kim Jong-Il, against immigration reform, against school reform, against Social Security reform, against anything that would challenge the current big-government system their Democrat forebears built (with all too much Republican cooperation)."

Reflecting on ideas I brought up six months ago in my article "The Crash of Big Government Conservatism," on Tech Central Station, I conclude in my NRO piece,

"The Republicans have been strongest when they have adhered to classical liberal principles and articulated them boldly, as in the Reagan years and Newt Gingrich's Republican revolution. They have been weakest when they have attempted to be New Age conservatives, as during the two Bush administrations when they have governed as Democrats Lite.

"The political right is well aware that the solution to economic and social problems is nearly always to unleash the creativity and intelligence of the American people and encourage representative government abroad without forcing it on anyone — not to place ever-greater restraints on initiative and economic freedom at home and attempt nation-building abroad before defeating the enemies of democracy. Yet the Republicans simply have not had the courage to defy the mainstream media and follow their principles.

"For the Republicans to have consistent electoral success and govern well, they must transform themselves from a Bush party of New Age conservatism to a Reagan party of true, classical liberalism."

I am trying in these articles to raise the idea that the Right is the true home of liberal thinking today, and that conserving the present situation is what the Left wants. I think that classical liberalism is the true center of American politics, and that if the Republicans embrace it, it will be all to the good both for them and for the country.

I've been discussing this further on my website, Karnick on Culture, and invite all to visit and leave comments and of course to discuss it here as well.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sharpening Up the National Razor

I'm wary of claims that one's own side is inherently more virtuous than their opponents. Some of my friends on the left are confident that the conduct of the people's business will be more civil under the Democrats. Just because Democrats and liberals are better human beings, y'know.

I allowed that the batch of Republicans who were just turned out did appear to be worse than the Democrats they themselves turned out, primarily (and exclusively, really, because they had a lot of gamesmanship in common) for the manipulation of the legislative process itself. Democrats were cordially uninvited to conference committees and reportedly sometimes the GOP didn't even give them copies of the bills they were supposed to vote on.

That's no good.

There may be another side to the story, however, altho I doubt it will be told in the media now. Democrats did misrepresent pending legislation to the press in attempts to build populist groundswell against it. So afterwhile the GOP said, screw that, we'll shut the bastards out completely.

I sympathize, but that's no way to run a democratic republic. And so, for this and many other sins, the GOP congressional majority was dumped, and few Republicans see that as unjust. I voted GOP this time around (no surprise there) only because I can't ever subscribe to the attitude that "things can't get any worse." I guess I've read too much history to believe that.

There are indications that aside from the Democrat half of The Gang of 14, there was a commitment on the Democrat side to pure obstructionism; certainly that was why Sen. McCain chided Sen. Obama when the latter caved in to pressure from his party and withdrew from a piece of joint legislation.

And if this is accurate:

Their sources claim that Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), a six-term member of Congress, who has cooperated with Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, will be a priority target for Pelosi's iron-fist approach to leadership.

"Nancy Pelosi wants total party discipline," a source in the Democratic Party leadership told Insight.

"If you played ball with the Republicans during this session, then you're not going to be given an important chair in the next session," said the source.

Apparently it was possible to work with the GOP, then, although it seems retroactively punishable by death.

I once ran across a comparison of liberal and conservative group ratings that had Jane Harman as one of the most centrist members of congress. Whether this bunch of Democrats is any "better" than the GOPers they turned out is not certain. Even before they have the chance to spill some GOP blood, they seem bent on a bloodletting of their own first.

We don't know if the electorate, in its disgust over the eventual "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" conduct of the Republican Class of '94, put statesmen or Jacobins in their place. The early returns on our latest revolution indicate that the guillotine, or the "National Razor," as they sardonically called it in France some 200-odd years ago, waits in the wings, at least metaphorically.

Aw, Steny, we hardly knew ya. But you should have known, after 67 years on this good earth and 25 years in congress in service to the Democratic Party, that the Revolution has no friends, only enemies.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Delicious, informative

Red Baron four-cheeze pizza deserves a huzzah or two or three.  The lady of our house and I just had it for Sat. night dinner after a hard day of shopping and reading — she did the former, I the latter (about blogging).  And we are ecstatic or at least well pleased.  Buy some today!

The reading was of a book I can also recommend, Blog Wild!: a Guide for Small Business Blogging, by Andy Wibbels, a Portfolio book from Penguin.  Even for the blogger of several years like me, it has good info, mainly so far, at p. 50 of 275, on technical aspects.  The author, “a blogging evangelist,” offers his GoBlogWild site for further reference.