Exercises in Libertarian Uselessness

So apparently Ron Paul’s putting out his very own homeschooling curriculum, with the help of noted hack Tom Woods. Rather than reiterating my innate distrust of getting an education from anything either man is attached to (though parents really should ask themselves how much isolationism and secession apologetics they want for their kids), I’ll just stick to why this won’t be part of any successful ‘revolution”: the children of parents who not only home-school but are clued in to conservative or libertarian circles enough to even consider something like this are already going to get a classical education and comprehension of center-right philosophy one way or the other, and giving them more of the same just packaged differently or more conveniently isn’t going to transform the next generation. The far hard task – and the one nobody in any faction of the Right seems willing to tackle – is how to reform public education and reach the students still ensnared in it.

The Truth About the Wisconsin Jobs Picture

At National Review, Christian Schneider has an informative piece on why Wisconsin’s job numbers have yet to reach Scott Walker’s promised 250,000 new jobs during his first term, and the truth should challenge the assumptions of Walker’s liberal haters. In particular, he notes that Wisconsin still has the fifth worst business climate in America, thanks to high personal and corporate income taxes. In other words, Walker and the legislature haven’t gone far enough in the direction that liberals blame for our woes…not that they’ll adjust either their positions or their invective accordingly.

However, that’s not to say there isn’t criticism Walker deserves. For one thing, this is why politicians should be very wary of pledging to deliver certain numbers by a particular date. It doesn’t matter if some wonk worked it all out on paper for you; there are always variables you can’t foresee and intentions that won’t pan out. Aren’t conservatives supposed to be the ones with the Hayekian appreciation that economies are too dynamic for total centralized comprehension?

For another, this is also why if Walker thinks he can gain anything by moderating, as he’s been signaling, he’s dangerously mistaken. Not only have his foes not given Walker any credit for not being as hard-right on taxes as he could be, now he also has moderation’s negative policy fallout to deal with.

The Obnoxious Laziness of Pro-Gay Marriage "Conservatives"

If the facts that same-sex marriage is a profoundly un-conservative cause or that embracing it would devastate the Republican base aren’t enough to make the Right’s moderates and libertarian types think twice about jumping on the redefinition bandwagon, the caliber of redefiners’ arguments should be. At PJ Media, Roger Simon argues for conservatives to concede that same-sex marriage isn’t a big deal. But rather than being particularly original or insightful, his argument perfectly demonstrates his faction’s intellectual laziness on the subject and apparent disinterest in taking it seriously.
Nowhere does he even try to refute the actual arguments against same-sex marriage — primarily, that it would completely sever procreation from marriage’s meaning, leaving future generations with a flawed conception of the institution’s societal purpose, which is to bind men and women together for the sake of whatever future citizens they create.
Instead, Simon deploys straw man after straw man: “traditional lifestyle that conservatives normally admire and advocate” (leaving “traditional lifestyle” undefined in any useful way), “those heterosexuals deserting” marriage (which nobody’s disputing), and “I know that the Bible says this and that” (theology’s not the issue — marriage’s social purpose to maintaining a society capable of self-government is).

Most significantly, the straw men go from shoddy to shameful when he talks about how much he listens to his professed good friends Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt arguing against same-sex marriage. Here he is claiming to have substantial familiarity with the position he disagrees with, from people he respects and takes seriously, yet he still shadow-boxes with lazy caricatures of traditional marriage talking points rather than the arguments Prager and Hewitt actually make. 

Is it plausible that Simon could be that familiar with their arguments yet still sincerely believe that he’s fairly presented them in today’s post? Do true friends treat each other’s beliefs and the effort they put into advocating them with such dishonesty and disrespect? And is this the caliber of argument that conservatives are content to do battle against the Left with?

New from Prager University: Aznar on Europe, America and Israel

The latest from Prager University:

Do you want to know how Europeans think? Why not ask one of the most prominent Europeans in the world, former Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar? That’s what just we did. The conversation — his thoughts on Europe, America and Israel — is both fascinating and profound. 

Taking the Conservative Message Beyond the Blogosphere

Glenn Reynolds has a great New York Post editorial brainstorming how Republicans could make their money go further in reaching voters:
One of the groups with whom Romney did worst was female “low-information voters.” Those are women who don’t really follow politics, and vote based on a vague sense of who’s mean and who’s nice, who’s cool and who’s uncool.
Since, by definition, they don’t pay much attention to political news, they get this sense from what they do read. And for many, that’s traditional women’s magazines — Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, the Ladies Home Journal, etc. — and the newer women’s sites like YourTango, The Frisky, Yahoo! Shine, and the like. 
The thing is, those magazines and Web sites see themselves, pretty consciously, as a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. So while nine out of 10 articles may be the usual stuff on sex, diet and shopping, the 10th will always be either soft p.r. for the Democrats or soft — or sometimes not-so-soft — hits on Republicans.
When a flier about getting away with rape was found in a college men’s bathroom, the women’s site YourTango (“Your Best Love Life”) led with the fact that the college was Paul Ryan’s alma materin a transparent effort to advance the Democrats’ War on Women claim that Republicans are somehow pro-rape. A companion article was “12 Hot Older Men Who Endorse President Obama.” 
The solution:
For $150 million, you could buy or start a lot of women’s Web sites. And I’d hardly change a thing in the formula. The nine articles on sex, shopping and exercise could stay the same. The 10th would just be the reverse of what’s there now. 
For the pro-Republican stuff, well, just visit the “Real Mitt Romney” page at snopes.com, or look up the time Mitt Romney rescued a 14-year-old kidnap victim, to see the kind of feel-good stories that could have been running. For the others, well, it would run articles on whether Bill Clinton should get a pass on his affairs, whether it’s right that the Obama White House pays women less than men, and reports on how the tax system punishes women. 
This stuff writes itself, probably more easily than the Spin Sisters’ pabulum. And opening up a major beachhead in this section of the media is probably a lot cheaper than challenging major newspapers and TV networks head on. 
This is a great start, but it should be taken much further. 
God bless Fox News, the blogosphere, talk radio, and conservative magazines. I shudder to think of how bad things would be if we didn’t have so many people working round the clock to counter the mainstream media. 
But while the Right’s alternative media has dented the Left’s narrative, it still can’t outweigh it, and never will in its current form, for the simple fact that these outlets only reach people who proactively look for them, or are led there by someone else. That segment of the population is pretty much baked in to the country’s political makeup at this point – the people who really hunger for truth will find it one way or another, and there will always be a big segment of the population whose political information consumption, for various reasons, never extends far beyond their morning paper and the six-o’clock news. Such voters will never actively seek out Breitbart.com or National Review because they aren‘t interested in digging any deeper, and have no idea they shouldn’t be content with what they’ve got.

So if we can’t pin our hopes on getting more people to come to us, we have to figure out how to go to them – to get the key facts and our unfiltered ideas in the places they’re already going and seeing and watching. And though it might be heresy in this Internet-infatuated day and age, I think that means taking a hard, fresh look at traditional advertising.  
There are scores of bite-sized, eye-opening facts – like the terrifying words of Obama Administration officials, the more-thanfair share of the tax burden the rich really pay, the utter uselessness of Uncle Sam’s spending spree in alleviating poverty or improving education, or the astonishing waste and duplication in the federal bureaucracy, just to name a few – that many voters are completely unaware of, and would significantly change their political assumptions if only they knew. And outfits like Prager University and Learn Liberty expertly demonstrate how conservative principles can be explained in just a few minutes of airtime.
How different might things be if we made a real effort to expose the general public to this? Imagine debt warnings or liberty arguments during the commercial breaks of American Idol, 60 Minutes, or Monday Night Football. Quotes from Obama czars bluntly saying they want to run our lives posted on billboards an entire city sees on their way to work. Real reports on Benghazi or debunkings of media smears in full-page newspaper ads. 
I understand there are a lot of costs and hurdles associated with making such a project happen, but new thinking and new strategies are desperately needed to reach new audiences. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come, but if you go there, they will see.

Inconvenient Truth: Romney Derangement Syndrome on the Right Helped Obama Win

From the outrages he let Barack Obama get away with to the stunning ineptitude of his campaign team, Mitt Romney holds plenty of blame for last week’s dispiriting presidential election. But he’s not the only one, and before we do something stupid like surrender on immigration in a shortsighted bid to woo Hispanics, the Right needs to have a little chat about another key voting bloc that should have been far easier to hold…but wasn’t, for reasons conservatives seem unwilling to discuss.

The single most shocking detail about the results was the pitiful Republican turnout, with Romney receiving 3 million fewer GOP votes than John McCain and 5 million fewer than George W. Bush — a difference that could have overcome Tuesday’s 3-million-person difference in the popular vote or made up the 333,000 additional votes necessary for an Electoral College win.

Yes, Romney’s conservatism was imperfect. But so was Bush’s. And McCain? He was so liberal that, to keep him away from the nomination and ensure a conservative made it on the ballot, the punditocracy told us we had to rally around…Mitt Romney.

So how could Romney — who, for all his flaws, took most of the right positions, had an appealing background, and didn’t share Bush or McCain’s zeal for amnesty — possibly be less palatable than either of his moderate predecessors? Especially while trying to unseat someone widely considered to be the worst, most left-wing president in US history?

A big part of the answer is because somewhere between GOP presidential primaries, half the Right flip-flopped on Romney, recasting their onetime conservative alternative as the new RINO boogeyman we needed an alternative from, with scores of pundits, activists, and bloggers ranting that an amorphous party “establishment” was trying to force Romney on the base. Yes, politics is a tough business and primaries are the place for aggressively vetting our candidates, but far too many of our own crossed the line from “Romney is weak in area x” to “Romney is our enemy.”

Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said they’d focus on congressional races because Romney wasn’t worth their members’ excitement. Sen. Rick Santorum suggested Romney might not be different enough from Obama to bother changing presidents. Talk radio host Mark Levin excoriated Romney daily, calling him a corporatist of questionable character who couldn’t be supported in the primary without compromising all of one’s principles. Blogger Dan Riehl considered organizing conservatives to oppose Romney in the general election. Free Republic banned all Romney supporters as “enemies of the Constitution.” Blogger John Hawkins warned that supporting Romney would require conservatives to “sell our souls.” RedState.com waged an all-out war against Romney and his sympathizers, the most hysterical examples of which being Erick Erickson’s claim that nominating the bad Mormon would kill conservatism and Thomas Crown’s accusation that National Review “alienated” itself from the conservative movement by preferring Romney to the alternatives. Conservative stalwarts like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan got torn apart as phonies in popular comment sections for backing Romney. And last month, Personhood USA used an unfair spin on Romney’s words as evidence that he was “insisting on maintaining the status quo of abortion on demand.”

Fast-forward to Election Day, and 5 million Republican voters decide to stay home.

Gee, who could have guessed? (I mean, besides me.)

Again, we shouldn’t completely absolve Romney of responsibility. As the candidate, it was his job to assure the base he could walk the walk. Nor should Romney’s shortcomings have gone ignored or unchallenged during the primary.

But with so many influential conservative voices doing everything they could to convince their audiences that Romney was just Diet Obama and that he posed an existential threat to their very philosophy, is it any wonder that so many of them decided not to vote? How is any post-primary coalescing supposed to fully heal divisions that deep? How are Republican candidates supposed to endure two-front wars against Democrats and their own base?

Rather than protect the integrity of the Republican ticket, Levin, Erickson, Perkins, and company served as useful idiots for the Left, dividing conservatives enough for a weak incumbent with indefensible ideas and hated policies to keep power for another four years. And now we’re all going to suffer for it.

It goes without saying that for 2016, we’ll need to find a candidate with bolder instincts, a deeper affinity for conservatism, and greater skill in articulating it. But by the time his own failings and impurities come to light, hopefully Obama’s second term will have taught our Purity Police that a little perspective can make a world of difference.