Archive for ‘strategy’

May 23, 2009

Against the Politics of Niceness

At the library Friday, I picked up Naftali Bendavid’s book, The Thumpin’: How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to Be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution.

It’s an excellent insider account of the 2006 congressional campaign, with DCCC chairman Rahm F—ing Emanuel as the protagonist. This outburst, from a May 2005 meeting between Emanuel, DSCC chairman Chuck Schumer and DNC chairman Howard Dean, is typical:

“You’re nowhere, Howard. Your field plan is not a field plan. That’s f—ing bulls—. . . . Look, Chuck comes from Brooklyn. I come from Chicago. It’s not Burlington, Vermont. . . . I know your field plan — it doesn’t exist. I’ve gone around the country with these races. I’ve seen your plan. There’s no plan, Howard.”

The old adage that nice guys finish last is quite true in politics. Some people have a 10th-grade civics class concept of “democracy” as something pure and noble, but if you’ve spent much time close to the process, you understand that “democracy” is a brutal, ugly business. It is not for fainthearts and starry-eyed dreamers.

So when Rod Dreher gets sniffy about Mark Levin or people act horrified by an implied slur in an RNC video, I just want to pound those weenies on the head and scream: “Wake the f— up, you clueless dingbats! The Democrats are eating Republican babies for breakfast, bankrupting our grandchildren, and giving major industrial corporations as gift-wrapped presents to their labor goon buddies! If you want to award gold stars for ‘plays well with others,’ go be a kindergarten teacher and leave politics the hell alone!”

Maybe when the grown-ups are through beating the Democrats, then we’ll have time to mind our manners like we were eating watercress-and-endive finger sandwiches at the Ladies Cotillion Society luncheon.

This is fight time, and the neurasthenic wussie-boys need to shut the f— up with their ceaseless whining. Meanwhile, anyone who’s interested in actually fighting the Democrats needs to read this book. We’ve got to find a way to reverse-engineer Emanuel’s take-no-prisoners approach to politics.

UPDATE: Stogie calls our attention to his post about Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, a book I read more than 10 years ago. It’s very insightful in terms of basic principles of political organizing.

I think Stogie would enjoy The Thumpin’ , because it gives excellent detailed accounts of various aspects of practical politics. One of the things I hate about intellectual-type pundits is their habit of “trendmongering,” where they’re always offering a “Big Picture” idea of where the country is going. But if you know anything about actual politics, you know that it doesn’t work that way.

Every “trend” is a function of mulitple distinct events. The objective of the political activist is to make those events happen or, as the case may be, to capitalize on events that happen beyond his control.

The defeatist attitude of Republicans toward MSM bias is an example of how people surrender the initiative because they see a “trend” — something beyond their control — rather than looking for ways they can make something happen to change the trend.

Another example is how Republicans allow themselves to believe that certain groups — minorities, women, gays, academics — are effectively off-limits to them as potential voters. Look, if only 4% of black voters are Republican, that’s still hundreds of thousands of voters. If you could identify those voters, organize and train them as activists, and support them in an effective outreach program, there’s no telling what you might achieve. But you’re never going to accomplish anything if you accept the “trend” and surrender the initiative.

A defeatist mentality guarantees defeat, because that mentality always counsels doing nothing and accepting the status quo. If the enemy is winning, and you do nothing, the enemy will continue to win. But even if you’re winning, if you content yourself with a do-nothing approach of defending the status quo, the enemy will sooner or later seize the initiative — as Rahm Emanuel did in 2006 — and then you’ll be forced to fight with an army grown weak and lazy by years of do-nothingism.

BTW, I also recommend Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms by veteran Republican campaign operative Ed Rollins. It gives you lots of detailed stories about individual campaigns, including the 1994 Senate campaign of Michael Huffington, where Rollins’ efforts were effectively sabotaged by Huffington’s idiot wife, Arianna. She’s typical of a certain type of dilettante who turns to politics as a fasiohable hobby, but can’t be taught anything because she is too arrogant to think she has anything to learn.

April 8, 2009

Paul Ryan: Looking Good!

“If you believe in freedom, liberty, self-determination, free enterprise, I don’t care if you’re a Muslim, Jewish, Agnostic, Christian, gay, straight, Latino, black, white, Irish, whatever. Join us.”
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Good Looking)

Yeah, it’s easy to see why Ryan’s a rising star for the GOP. C’mon, ladies: Those blue eyes? That thick hair? That aw-shucks grin?

A dude like that could tempt Cynthia Yockey. Oh, what the heck — he could tempt me.

This was one of my basic insights into the massive fail of Crazy Cousin John. Even without his RINO deviations, Maverick had the problem of being old, short, grumpy and, worst of all, bald.

When was the last time America elected a bald president? Ike. Welcome to the TV age. Therefore, when in doubt in a GOP primary, always vote for the guy with the best hair.

Unlike Mitt Romney, however, Ryan’s not only got great hair, he also seems to have conservative principles. He’s also very shrewd. I remember being in the press lounge at CPAC this year while Ryan was giving the keynote address. I was checking my e-mail and moderating comments, and the TV was on behind me, so I heard, rather than saw, Ryan’s speech, when I made this update:

In his keynote address, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) just called for “sound money” — evincing cheers from the Paulistas.

Ding! That impressed me, even before I turned around and saw this good-looking Irish kid who’s got “telegenic” like I’ve got “crazy.”

The Paulistas were a well-organized presence at CPAC this year, with young volunteers handing out fliers in the hotel corridors and various events scheduled throughout the conference. The phrase “sound money” is like magic with Paulistas and, whether it was pre-planned or ad-libbed, those two words were the smartest thing Ryan said.

If there is one lesson to take away from the 2008 campaign — besides the hopeless folly of running an old bald guy for president — it’s that Republicans can’t win unless they unite their base as the foundation of a broad coalition strategy.

Ron Paul got 1.2 million GOP primary votes and raised $35 million. Compare that to Rudy Giuliani, who spent $59 million to get fewer than 600,000 votes. Giuliani represented no constiuency that John McCain did not equally represent. Watching those two during the GOP debates was like watching Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

Given the current political realities, the Republican Party simply can’t afford to ignore the votes, the money and the grassroots energy that the Paulistas offer. And with two words — “sound money” — Ryan acknowledged that fact. Very smart.

Ryan’s a married Catholic father of three, so he can count on the family values vote. If he can sound like Peter Schiff on economics and sound like Mark Krikorian on immigration, he would have no problem getting the rest of the Reagan coalition on board for 2012.

Yes, I said 2012. This doesn’t mean I’m abandoning Sarah Palin. But tempus fugits, and if she doesn’t have time to attend CPAC or the GOP congressional fundraiser in 2009, then if she’s going to run for re-election as governor in 2010, it’s going to be hard for Palin to catch up with all the Republicans who are organizing 2012 presidential campaigns now.

If conservatives don’t want to be faced with a choice between Romney and Jeb Bush — No More Bushes! — we’re going to have to get behind somebody PDQ, and Ryan is definitely somebody. He’s extremely young (only 39), and he’s only a congressman, not a senator or a governor, but he’s from a Midwestern swing state (and attended college in Ohio), so he’s got that Electoral College factor going for him. Plus, the Heritage Foundation loves the guy.

Lots of Republican strategists harbor little hope for beating Obama in 2012, so if Palin wants to wait for 2016 or later . . . hey, why not let the Irish kid take a shot? You gotta admit: Ryan’s looking good.

April 7, 2009

Former Chris Dodd speechwriter to Republicans: ‘You’re doing it all wrong’

From PW Pub, I followed a link to this Politico column by Michael A. Cohen:

Over the years, the GOP scored political benefit by playing on the resentments and fears of voters, but after the wreckage of the Bush years, Americans seem more interested in solutions than scapegoats. Conspiracy-laden rhetoric is unlikely to resonate far beyond the party’s core base of supporters. . . .
Republicans need to make a decision: Are they going to cater to the paranoid fears of self-styled “truth tellers” like [Glenn] Beck, or are they going to present a substantive policy alternative to Democratic rule? For the good of the party, and the country, let’s hope it’s the latter.

“For the good of the party,” he says, which prompts me to Google up his biography:

Previously, Mr. Cohen served in the U.S. Department of State as chief speechwriter for U.S. Representative to the United Nations Bill Richardson and Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat. He has worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Foreign Policy magazine, and as chief speechwriter for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).

Yeah, buddy, when Republicans want lectures about “the good of the party,” you’re the go-to guy, ain’t ya?


It’s Easy to Call Someone a Conspiracy Theorist When You Can Just Make Up What They Believe

(Via Memeorandum.)

UPDATE II: “Isn’t it comforting to know that left wing Dems are looking out for conservatives?”

April 7, 2009

GOP ‘brand damage’ not repaired

Since I don’t want to be accused of existing inside an “echo chamber,” I feel obligated to link this item by Christopher Orr at TNR:

The latest New York Times poll is loaded with good news for the Obama administration and news that would be devastating for the GOP if it were ever able to penetrate the conservative-media echo chamber. . . .
Obama has a 66 percent approval rating, which is the highest this poll has recorded, while the GOP’s favorability is at 31 percent, the lowest the poll has recorded in 25 years of asking the question. Arguably more remarkable still is that, asked whether Obama or the GOP Congress would be more likely to make “the right decisions about the nation’s economy,” respondents broke for Obama 63 percent to 20 percent. That means that even within the 31 percent rump that holds a positive view of the GOP, at least a third trust Obama’s instincts on the economy equally or more.

Uh, “the GOP Congress”? Was this a “push poll”? But never mind that. What did the polls say about Bill Clinton in April 1993?

We are barely five months past the last election, the biggest Democratic victory since 1964, and Obama’s been in office less than 90 days. It would be truly startling if polls showed Republican Party voter ID surging in popularity at this point. More importantly, economics is not public relations:

Don’t you people understand that it doesn’t matter how “popular” you and your policies are, if what you are doing is the wrong thing to do? And that it doesn’t matter how clever and persuasive your arguments are, if your policies bring disaster?

As a question of electoral politics, it matters not a whit, in April 2009, whether a poll shows that people “trust Obama’s instincts on the economy,” if Obama’s instincts are wrong, and they are. It Won’t Work.

Opponents of Obamanomics ought not be worrying about polls at this point. Organize! Raise money! Identify and support promising candidates in promising districts. When the Dow is below 6,000 and unemployment is near double digits on Labor Day 2010, then we’ll see what the polls say about who’s been living in an “echo chamber.”

April 1, 2009

Team Spirit, Leadership and Success

“You can accomplish much if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
Ronald Reagan

In a series of rants over the past few weeks, I have tried to fire up my fellow conservatives, to give them “faith for the fight.” In the words of one of my heroes, Gen. George S. Patton, an army fights as a team, and team spirit — esprit de corps — is essential to success in any group endeavor.

Whether it is war or politics, business or sports, accomplishing great things requires teamwork, which begins with the committed belief that victory for the team is more important than who carries the ball into the end zone. Once the victory is gained, even the second-string left tackle will be able to boast that he was part of the championship team.

Many years ago when I worked in Georgia, it was my privilege to interview World War II veterans who had served under Patton, and though those men had led successful civilian lives for half a century, there was a special pride when they said, “I was with Patton.” You’ll see the same sort of pride if you ever have the pleasure of meeting someone who worked with Reagan (and I’ve interviewed a few of those, too).

Nothing is more necessary to leadership than the leader’s concern for the morale of his followers, yet morale often suffers because many people who lack leadership capacity are also deficient in followership capacity. They’re always griping and grumbling about something, spouting negative criticism that tends to demoralize their comrades. The duty of the leader in such a situation is to rebuke the complainer and to tell him, if he doesn’t mend his ways, he’ll be kicked off the team. If a man is hurting the team, he needs to be told so bluntly.

The Coach and Joe Willie

Bear Bryant was arguably the greatest coach in college football history. (I say “arguably,” just to avoid bitter flame wars with deluded fans of other teams that are inferior to the Crimson Tide. Certainly, I would never question that Bryant was the greatest coach ever.) Coach Bryant called Joe Willie Namath the finest athlete he ever coached, but when Namath violated curfew, Bear benched him.

Despite protests in Tuscaloosa, where some Tide fans burnt Coach Bryant in effigy, he stuck by his decision, because a fundamental principle was involved: No one player was more important than the team, not even Joe Namath. And if you ever meet one of Bear’s former players, you’ll see that special gleam of pride in his eye when he tells you, “I played for Coach Bryant.” (Joe Namath himself has been known to get choked up a little when he talks about the coach.)

There has never been a great leader who was not the subject of complaints. Failure is easy, but success is hard. The leader must make hard decisions that provoke disagreement, that favor one team member over another, and that require some poor anonymous bastard to work his ass off, without credit, to help the team win. C’est la guerre.

Patton’s troops griped that their general’s nickname — “Old Blood ‘n’ Guts” — was the product of their blood and his guts, and they had a point. Yet somebody has to be the commanding general, and any victorious general owes his success to the sacrifices of his troops. And they are his troops. The reciprocal loyalty and common identification between a great general and his troops is like the relationship between Christ and the Christian. The loyal soldier takes pride in his service, he praises the name of his beloved commander, and when the commander says “go,” he goes.

Lessons From Nineteen
You ought to meet Pastor Sam Childers, “The Machine Gun Preacher,” if you want to know what I mean by real leadership. Like General Patton or President Reagan or Coach Bryant, Sam inspires intense loyalty. You’re either going to love him or hate him, and he doesn’t care either way, because Sam is serving God.

Let me tell you a little story: When I got over to Uganda in February 2008, I was about half-crazy from a bad reaction to the anti-malarial drugs that every traveler to Africa has to take.

OK, wait a minute, I take that back. Because I’m half-crazy all the time anyway, I was at least 75 percent crazy when I got off the British Airways jet at Entebbe International Airport south of Kampala. Plus, I’d had a bad experience during a long layover at Heathrow Airport in London (the Labour totalitarians had recently banned smoking in the airport), I was about to die from nicotine deprivation, and the airline lost my luggage, including a container of missionary supplies that Sam needed for his orphanage in Sudan.

Off on the wrong foot, and things just got worse from there, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. Uganda is beautiful and fascinating, the weather in February is lovely, and since this was my first trip outside of the United States, I wanted to see and learn as much as I could. My escort for these excursions was one of Sam’s soldiers, a guy called Nineteen.

Whatever his African name is, it sounds like the English word “Nineteen,” and so that’s what he’s called. He is a devout Christian who served in the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army during South Sudan’s long war against Khartoum, and he is utterly loyal to Pastor Sam. To see these two together when they’re relaxed and cheerful is like watching an older brother with his younger brother. Sam’s always doing little jokes with Nineteen, who knows the Pastor’s ways and puts up with the kidding because he knows Sam to be a mighty warrior for God.

Book-Shopping in Kampala
So, anyway, Sam had been telling me all about Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is to modern Uganda what DeGaulle was to post-WWII France or what Adenauer was to postwar West Germany. Museveni has often been criticized, but he took Uganda out from under the backward socialist anarchy of its post-colonial phase and turned it into one of the more prosperous, free and stable nations on a continent where prosperity, freedom and stability can never be taken for granted. Uganda easily could have gone the way or Rwanda or Somalia or Zimbabwe, if not for Museveni’s wise and determined leadership, and he will deserve honor in his nation’s history.

Having heard Sam’s praise for Museveni, I was very curious to learn more, so one day, I told Nineteen I wanted to get some books about the president and Ugandan history. Off we went into downtown Kampala. My thought was that we were going to bookstore, but for some reason that was never made clear, Nineteen took me to the street market in a section of Kampala known as Coaltown, where mine was the only white face on the crowded street.

Nineteen took me to a place where a sidewalk vendor had secondhand books spread out on a tarp and spoke to the vendor, who produced an old paperback. Not what I expected, but I paid the man, took the book and we left. Only later did I discover that for a few cents, I’d gotten a rarity: A volume of the writings of Museveni’s National Resistance Movement, published in the NRM’s underground newspaper during the war to overthrow the socialists, and collected into one volume published shortly after the NRM’s victory that put Museveni in power. (I can’t recall the title of the topof my head; I’ve searched through my bookshelves, and it seems my wife has packed the book away.)

Of course, at the time, our trip into Kampala was tremendously frustrating to me. In America, if you want a book, you go to a nice air-conditioned Borders, take your time browsing the bookshelves, maybe have a cup of coffee, chat with the clerks — a leisurely and enjoyable experience. Yet here I was hustled through the crowded streets, led to a rundown sort of flea-market operation, and given exactly one choice, take it or leave it, not knowing when I’d again have the chance to come to town. Frustrating, like I said, but Nineteen was a man under authority.

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
Matthew 8:8-10 (KJV)

Nineteen was not authorized to discuss with me whatever instructions he’d been given by Pastor Sam, and a crazy mzungu (“white man”) like me had no authority with Nineteen. Rather, Nineteen was under orders to make sure I returned safely from this expedition. There had been riots in Kampala the first three days I was in Uganda, and the streets were patrolled by police and soldiers with AK-47s, and being an American journalist in that kind of situation . . . Well, an American press credential is not carte blanche over there.

Whatever Nineteen did, he did so as a dutiful soldier, in accordance with his instructions from his commander, Pastor Sam, and if I didn’t get exactly the book I wanted, this was far less important than the fact that Ninenteen got me back from Kampala in one piece. (And speaking of books, you really ought to buy Sam’s book, Another Man’s War: The True Story of One Man’s Battle to Save Children in the Sudan. I promise you’ll get a blessing from it.)

Nineteen is a team player, and my discontent with our book-buying expedition was a trivial annoyance to him, compared to the seriousness of his mission, and his desire to do to his utmost what Pastor Sam had instructed him to do. Nineteen is a humble and taciturn person, not given to bragging or trying to tell you what he knows. He does his job and is content to let his work speak for itself. His trust in Pastor Sam is as unshakeable as his faith in God, and when Sam put me under Nineteen’s care, my safety became like a religious obligation to him. I was his cross to bear, so to speak.

Now, when I began writing this, my heart was troubled at learning of staff troubles surrounding Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. When I learned that her scheduled June speaking engagement at a Republican congressional campaign event had been canceled, I instinctively recognized that there was a problem of divided authority among her staff, a gut hunch immediately confirmed by research. (Rule 3!)

This divided authority among her staff is a harmful blemish on the Governor’s reputation as a leader, and she ought to take immediate action to end the division. She must either have a loyal, faithful, efficient and united team of staffers to do her business, or else her own leadership capabilities will be for naught.

Reagan and Team Victory
The saying “personnel is policy” became a byword in the Reagan administration, and if you’ve got the wrong personnel on your team, you’re doomed. More than once, Ronald Reagan had to act decisively to try to unify his team and sometimes he didn’t get it right. Sometimes the wrong man got promoted and the wrong man got fired, and Reagan would have to go back and fix the personnel mistake he’d made. But he trusted his old friends — his wife Nancy, Ed Meese, Judge Bill Clark and a few other close associates who’d stuck with him through thick and thin — and despite his own jokes about being lazy, he was both diligent and shrewd in evaluating his staff.

Few men in history will be recognized as Reagan’s equals, and fewer still his superiors, but the fact is that he gets credit for what was really a team victory. Reagan’s achievements were actually accomplished by a vast army of fellow conservatives, most of whose names are scarcely even mentioned in the footnotes of the history books about Reagan.

For instance, just think about the men whose contributions not only funded Reagan’s campaigns but also funded the many non-profit groups that have helped advance the cause that Reagan led. Ron Robinson’s recent book, Funding Fathers: The Unsung Heroes of the Conservative Movement is an excellent account of what was accomplished, and how it was accomplished, by these philanthropists whose names you’ve never even heard of before. (Also, don’t miss A Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater’s Presidential Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement, written by J. William Middendorf, who was Goldwater’s campaign treasurer.)

Now, I know what you regular readers are saying to yourselves. This is the part where I tell you, “Hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards.” Very smart readers around here and, based on personal observativion, the tip-jar hitters among you are not only smart but extraordinarily good-looking. (What praise can I withhold from you, The Few, The Proud, The Grateful Bastards?) Yet you remain nameless, and some of you have not yet even gotten an e-mail thank-you, an oversight entirely due to my habitual disorganization. Be sure, however, that I view your contributions as the answers to the prayers of a blogger whose wife is just now beginning to believe that maybe this blogging-as-a-career thing isn’t as crazy as it looks.

However, it is not (merely) to solicit your contributions that I make mention of the little-known conservative benefactors who funded, and who still fund, the cause Reagan believed in. Rather, I wish to call to your attention the spirit of cheerful teamwork that motivated their philanthropy.

These men were givers, not takers. They were generous because they were grateful. Their success they understood to be a blessing and, wishing others to benefit from their own blessings, they were generous in helping fund efforts to defend and strengthen the American way of life that had allowed them to enjoy their success.

Gratitude and generosity — this is the spirit of teamwork. Anybody who’s ever played football could tell you how grateful they were the first time they learned that they would be “first team,” in the starting lineup. It’s like your first Instalanche or your first front-page byline or your first . . . . Well, they say “you never forget the first time,” but it does tend to slip your mind after a while.

You take it for granted. You cease to be grateful for the blessing that once you cherished as the answer to earnest prayer. My wife is one of those blessings, a Proverbs 31 woman so wonderful that no man could truly be said to deserve her. To what shall my neglectfulness be likened? Well, think about all those Republicans who griped and grumbled their way through Reagan era, not realizing at the time that they were blessed for a few short years to be led by a man who — as we now look back — was one of the greatest leaders in human history.

Or how about this: A friend of mine had a great job, one that many people would love to have, but after a while, he and his boss didn’t get along so well. The boss was demanding and sometimes seemed capricious. My friend felt like he was being treated unfairly and he wasn’t doing the job he’d signed on to do. So after much soul-searching and prayer, he got another job that a lot of people would love to have. Guess what? His new boss was 10 times as demanding and capricious as the old boss. (I can’t tell you the names of my friend’s bosses, but trust me, you’d recognize them.)

Or how about this: When I worked at The Washington Times for Wes Pruden, there were people in the newsroom who hated the Old Man’s guts. There was a term, “Prudenizing,” which was used to describe what happened when Mr. Pruden personally edited a story. Well, then Mr. Pruden retired (which was when I decided to leave the paper) and I’m sometimes surprised to hear rumors of how many people in the newsroom nowadays find themselves pining for the Good Old Days when Wes was in charge.

That S.O.B. in the Mirror
“You never know what you got ’til it’s gone,” they say, and a basic cause of failure in human endeavor is this ungrateful, selfish spirit that causes us to complain about what we don’t have, when we should instead be grateful for all we do have.

We look around for someone to blame for what they’ve done wrong, or what they haven’t done right, and we want to pin the blame for our unhappiness and our lack of success on that other son of a bitch. We love to blame that other son of bitch, when it’s really that son of bitch in the mirror who is to blame.

What have I done wrong? What have I failed to do? Am I really so perfect that I am blameless even for my own failure?

If you are really honest about yourself, if you have the courage to face your shortcomings and admit your failures, you will never blame others for your own lack of success or happiness. And the ironic thing is, you’ll be a much happier and more successful person that way. Ingratitude and selfishness are not attitudes conducive to success, and still less conducive to happiness.

Nobody likes a selfish ingrate. You probably know people who are like that. “Kharmic black holes,” I call them, who at first glance seem favored by fortune. They go through life taking, taking, taking, seldom saying “thank you,” never doing anything from motives of sincere generosity.

If you’re looking at them superficially, people like that seem justified in their apparent belief that they are entitled to succeed by pushing other people around. And if you don’t have any firm moral commitments, you might succumb to the temptation to emulate their ways. Yet let’s heed the wise words of Frequent Commenter Solomon:

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 14:12 (KJV)

How those words ring true as we ponder the sad fate of the conservative movement in this dark hour. Personnel is policy, and somehow the Human Resources Department of the movement failed to screen out the unprincipled people who joined up for the wrong reasons or who turned down the wrong road, people who were selfish and whose ingratitude for their opportunities led them to abuse the positions of trust they’d been given. We need not name names.

Yet who is really to blame? Jack Abramoff? Newt Gingrich? Tom DeLay? George Bush? Karl Rove? John McCain? Or is it that son of bitch in the mirror?

On Election Night, I filed an American Spectator column from the headquarters of the National Taxpayer Union with the title, “You Did Not Lose,” in which I tried to remind conservatives that John McCain had never been their champion, that in fact he’d only gotten 47 percent of the Republican primary vote. Crazy Cousin John’s defeat was not, and ought not to be, a cause for conservatives to become demoralized and lose faith in their cause.

Yet, in some sense, you did lose. Whatever you did for the conservative cause, you didn’t do enough, or otherwise, the movement would have been strong enough (and smart enough) to stop Crazy Cousin John from getting the GOP nomination. And even with that untrustworthy RINO at the top of the ticket, Obama might have been stopped had the conservative movement been strong enough to persuade Maverick against his disastrous blunder in jumping onto the Bush bailout bandwagon.

You failed. I failed. We failed. However much we did, we did not do enough. We weren’t smart enough or hard-working enough or well-organized enough. We failed to unite and work as a team, because we allowed ourselves to become divided, listening to “leaders” who did not deserve to be followed. So what can we do now? Let me call your attention to the words of Frequent Commenter Ben Franklin:

Experience is a hard school, but a fool will learn in no other.

Fools though we may be, we at least have the hard-won wisdom of our disastrous experience. Learn the lesson, and resolve to move forward as a team. Don’t complain and grumble, just work as hard as you can.

Today is April 1 — April Fool’s Day, appropriately enough — and we are now just two weeks away from the nationwide Tax Day Tea Party. If every friend of liberty will unite now, and resolve to do all they can do to make that event a success, it might just be a turning point on the road to a great victory. Like Patton’s veterans, you may one day proudly tell your children or grandchildren that you served in the Tea Party Army that fought and won this great battle for freedom.


March 29, 2009

Speedo Tea Parties? (A15 Minus 16)

Yesterday, Carol at No Sheeples Here e-mailed to say that she felt a bit uncomfortable participating in Rule 5 Sunday, but after careful examination of the Official Guidelines, she managed to find a suitably newsworthy angle in the attempt by the city government in Cape Coral, Fla., to shut down a Tea Party protest. And she supplied the appropriately sexy artwork:

That is the spirit, people! You will always do your best work if you do what you love, and love what you do. To quote my personal hero, Eric “Otter” Stratton, from one of my favorite movies:

Boon: I gotta work on my game.
Otter: No, no, no, don’t think of it as work. The whole point is just to enjoy yourself.

Conservatives must rid themselves of the Dean Vernon Wormer mindset (“No more fun of any kind!”) and instead try to put the “party” back into the Republican Party. Stop trying to be the uptight, respectable Omegas. Let’s bring a hell-raising, fun-loving Delta House mentality to the task at hand:

Bluto: What the fuck happened to the Delta I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you’re gonna let it be the worst. “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble.” Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this. Wormer, he’s a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer…
Otter: Dead! Bluto’s right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now, we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.
Bluto: And we’re just the guys to do it.

“Where’s the guts, huh?” And where’s the creative, fun-loving Spirit of ’94, when the American people rose up to smack the Clinton administration with a congressional mid-term election repudiation that changed history?

Amongst the Beltway GOP insiders, the current buzzword is about the need to “rebrand” the Republican Party. We know full well that if they had their way, the Establishment elite — the Crapweasel Coalition of whiny neurasthenic RINOs — would “rebrand” conservatism as a moderate, respectable, “center-right” Me-Tooism.

Fuck the elite, and fuck their ideas. We’re the right-wing “Animal House,” and this is homecoming at Faber.

Ordinary Americans need to think about the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party protests as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the grassroots to do their own “rebranding.” Thanks to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, conservatives have been handed a chance to demonstrate our solidarity on one of the few issues on which we all agree: Economic liberty, as opposed to the neo-Keynesian, central-planning agenda of Obamanomics. (It Won’t Work.)

Let’s unite now, people! Put away your differences on foreign policy and social issues. Forget about Iraq and the Bush administration. If we can’t all come together in opposition against Obamanomics, not only is the conservative movement doomed, but the cause of freedom is doomed. We don’t know whether this particular Road to Serfdom is going to lead us to Carteresque stagflation, to the hyperinflation and shortages of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, or to the “Killing Fields” of Pol Pot’s Cambodia. We just know it’s the wrong road, and it’s time to tell Washington we’re not going to march it.

“But what about the media? The media are ignoring the Tea Party protests, Bluto!” Fuck the media, too. You pathetic losers can sit around whining about the lack of national MSM coverage all you want, but on April 15, we’re going to have a nationwide protest so huge, even those biased assholes won’t be able to ignore it. Stop whining, and start organizing:

  • Find the location of the Tea Party protest nearest you;
  • Make a list of all your neighbors, friends and family members who might share your opposition to Obamanomics;
  • Call them, e-mail them, Facebook them, talk to them in person at work or school or church, and urge them to attend the April 15 protest with you;
  • Check off the names on your list as “yes,” “no,” or “maybe”;
  • Follow up with the “yes” people on your list to plan your attendance, arrange transportation, come up with ideas for clever posters, etc; and
  • Follow up with the “maybe” people on your list to try to turn them into “yes” people; one way to do this is to apply positive peer pressure: “Man, you gotta be there! [Name a popular common friend] is going to be there, and afterwards, we’re all going for beer and pizza! C’mon, it will be lots of fun!”

Be an organizer, not a whiner. Never sit around whining and waiting for other people to do something, when you can do it yourself. Look at Suzanna Logan: Instead of whining about a lack of media coverage for the protests, she’s announced her willingness to strip jaybird naked at the big Virginia protest in Richmond. (We’re still trying to schedule the girl-on-girl Jello wrestling, depending on the availability of the lesbian referee.) You can “Go Galt” or “Go Godiva,” but either way, dammit: GO!

OK, so maybe you don’t look so hot in your birthday suit (or in a Speedo). Maybe you’re not as sexy as Jason “Big Sexy” Mattera. Stop thinking about “can’t.” As my late father used to say, “Can’t never could.”

Come up with something innovative, something personal and authentic you can contribute to the Tea Party movement. Bring your Boy Scout troop or your Little League team. Wear a costume. If you’re a nurse or doctor or fireman, show up in uniform. Ride a horse, ride a Harley, drive your semi-rig or your farm tractor to the protest.

“Oh, Bluto, there’s no point protesting! Congress doesn’t care about a bunch of people at a protest!” Fuck you, whiners. The commissars of the Soviet Union didn’t care about a bunch of Estonians singing tradtional songs, either. But I want you to watch this video trailer for The Singing Revolution, if you doubt the ability of ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things:

If that doesn’t inspire you, how about this: Michelle Malkin. Why is Michelle Malkin inspiring? Because she doesn’t worry about what she can’t do, she just does all she can. She was already a syndicated newspaper columnist and author when she started her blog waaay back when. And that wasn’t enough, so she started Hot Air, too. She isn’t content to be a “pundit” or a “commentator” or an “intellectual.” No, she’s a one-woman New Media empire, an ideological entrepreneur, and she’s pushing the Tea Party movement with all she’s got.

“But Bluto, I’m not a famous Fox News personality! I don’t even have a blog! What can I do?” You can do something, you sons of bitches, and don’t tell me what you can’t do until you’ve done everything you can.

“America loves a winner. America will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise a coward. Americans play to win.”
Gen. George S. Patton

The difference between success and failure, between defeat and victory, between a winner and a loser is this: A winner does everything he can do, and then says to himself, “I haven’t done enough. I need to do more.” He makes victory his goal and, by relentless effort, he makes victory his habit. He goes all-out, he gives it 110 percent, and even if his team doesn’t win, at least he knows he’s done his best.

“One of the basic principles of military strategy is to reinforce success. If you see a man who fights and wins, give him reinforcements, and bid others to emulate his success.”

A winner emulates success, a winner exemplifies success, and a winner encourages success. A winner is not a whiner. A winner does not envy or derogate the success of others. He does not demoralize others by a defeatist attitude. He does not take counsel of his fears. He is not a crapweasel. He gives his comrades faith for the fight.


Now hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards!

UPDATE: “What are you so afraid of? Are you going to be killed because you speak out against Obama? . . . The time for action is now.”

UPDATE II: Kathy Shaidle looks hot in a toga!

UPDATE III: Point of a Gun thinks this is a good direction!

UPDATE IV:A halftime speech that Knute Rockne would’ve cribbed.” — Troglopundit

UPDATE V:A Call to Arms” — Pundit & Pundette

UPDATE VI:I am pretty sure he just convinced me to ride my motorcycle to my local Tea Party. You won’t however see me in a speedo.” — Seymour Nuts
(No jokes about the name of his blog. None. You hear me?)

UPDATE VII:Still ‘Kinda Thinking’ About 4/15’s Tea Party? Stop your self-fumbling and GO!” — Dad 29

UPDATE VIII: A Pep Talk from R. Stacy McCain” — Little Miss Attila

UPDATE IX:In this time of darkness, Stacy reminds us of the immortal words of Otter.” — Dan Collins
(“Immortal words”? But you can’t hold a whole blog responsible for the behavior of a few sick, twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the entire blogospheric system? And if the whole blogosphere is guilty . . .)

March 24, 2009

Obama at 50-50

Jules Crittenden had this as a blog exclusive last night: New Zogby poll has the job approval numbers for Obama at 50 percent. See commentary by Jeff Goldstein, Pam Geller and Moe Lane.

This has got to scare Democrats to death, because the whole point of hitching their wagons to Obama’s star was that Obama was popular. In fact, one might say that Plouffe, Axelroad & Company developed a formula in which “popular” was an acceptable synonym for “successful.” But the gross incompetence of the Obama administration can’t be solved by P.R. gimmicks. Five weeks ago, when the polls were looking good for Obama, I said:

Idiots. Economics is not public relations. Don’t you people understand that it doesn’t matter how “popular” you and your policies are, if what you are doing is the wrong thing to do? And that it doesn’t matter how clever and persuasive your arguments are, if your policies bring disaster?

In three words: It Won’t Work. Or, in more words . . .

UPDATE: Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey reminds us that Rasmussen has been showing steady declines in Obama’s approval numbers.


P.S.: Be sure to check out MELTDOWN, Professor Thomas Wood’s new bestseller about the financial crash and why Obamanomics won’t work.

March 16, 2009

Obama’s new tactic

Be John McCain:

The administration’s reaction to any new economic news thus far seems to come from a list of four options:

  • 1) Panic.
  • 2) Spend a few hundred billion dollars.
  • 3) Blame Rush Limbaugh.
  • 4) Blame George Bush.

Go read every righteous word of it, and be sure to hit Jimmie’s tip jar, you ungrateful sons of bitches.

March 2, 2009

Dreher bashes Limbaugh


This is a comforting lie. It is Rousseau conservatism: the idea that man is born innocent, but corrupted by society, or government. Remove the chains of government, and man will return to his natural, good state, which is one of limitless possibility. This denies two bedrock truths of philosophical conservatism, which are that 1) human nature is fallen, and 2) man must learn to live within limits. A conservatism that is not founded on a conscious recognition of those two truths is a false conservatism, and has a shaky foundation from which to criticize liberal utopianism.”
Rod Dreher

My dear wife rearranged and cleaned my office while I was at CPAC, so that I can’t lay hands on Thucydides just now. But there was an occasion recounted by that historian in which (I believe) the Athenians(* see 3:30 p.m. update below – rsm) had compelled the surrender of a rebel colony, and it suited the Athenian commander to require of each captured man that he answer the question, what had he done to aid the Athenians and their allies in the ongoing Greek civil war. Obviously, none of the captives could give a satisfactory answer, and so they were all put to the sword. (Classical scholars will excuse whatever major or minor details I’ve misremembered. Blame my dear wife.)

Drastic and foolish example though this was, the Athenian commander boiled down to a deadly brevity the nature of loyalty in service: What have you done to aid the cause?

The recruit fresh from boot camp merits very little respect from veteran noncoms and officers, the rookie just called up to the major leagues doesn’t deserve deference from the three-time All-Star, and by an extension of this principle, sensible people should ask: Who is Rod Dreher to judge Rush Limbaugh?

This goes back to 2006, when everyone was rushing to denounce Ann Coulter for calling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a “raghead.” It so happened that Ann was introduced that day at CPAC by Monique Stuart, a former Washington Times intern. Monique described how she had been a liberal Democrat until the day Coulter showed up on her campus to debate a leftist professor whom Monique had previously admired. When Coulter was through with him, the professor looked like the clueless idiot he was, and Monique was a newborn conservative.

This is to say, Coulter has proven her value to the cause in years of effective service, and it will take a heckuva lot more than one unfortunate epithet for me to sign some idiot “open letter” petition demanding that she be purged from the movement. (You’d be more likely to get me to sign an open letter denouncing the petition signatories, though some of them I count as friends.)

More than two decades ago, Rush Limbaugh almost singlehandedly created a new medium of discourse in America. Anyone who knows anything about talk radio will tell you that it was Limbaugh who pioneered two distinct innovations: audio actualities (“sound bites”) and rock-music “bumpers” to intro each new programming segment. Limbaugh is the very best at what he does, so much better that there is no dispute over the title, and a vast gulf separates him from whoever is No. 2 in his profession.

Given all that, and given the tremendous influence he has exerted (so that he was named an honorary member of the congressional freshman class elected during the “Republican Revolution” of 1994), isn’t it the case that Rush ought to deserve some slight deference from those who call themselves “conservatives”? Rush was admired and praised by Buckley and Reagan, and is respected by other conservative leaders still vital and active. Whatever woes have befallen conservatism, these blunders have almost always been the work of those who have ignored or contradicted Limbaugh’s advice. (Recall, for example, that Rush backed Pat Buchanan’s 1992 primary challenge to George H.W. Bush, and did everything in his power to try to persuade Republicans not to nominate John McCain in 2008.)

This is not to say that Limbaugh is above criticism, or that his long duration in useful service has made him free from error. But whatever the philosophical merit of Dreher’s criticisms — and I share his skepticism toward the Whig-history univeralist rah-rah — it is nevertheless true that Limbaugh has accomplished vastly much more for conservatism, and suffered as a consequence the fury of liberal wrath. So enormous is the disparity of their value to conservatism as a political movement that Dreher’s criticism is like a fly perched on an elephant’s ass, complaining that the ride is too bumpy.

Good politics must be rooted in sound philosophy — in asserting this, Dreher is entirely correct. At the same time, a devotion to philosophical purity doesn’t count for anything in the real world of politics if your party is being crushed in every election, as has been true of Republicans in the past two cycles. I’m reminded of a point Bob Barr tried to make to Libertarian Party activists in 2008, namely the distinction between a political party and a political club.

If Rod and his “crunchy” cronies want to sit around and quote Russell Kirk to each other at the organic whole-grain clubhouse, no one is stopping them from indulging their little purity crusade. Rush Limbaugh has no such luxury, and deserves better than to be sniped at in the manner Dreher has chosen.

Boys and girls, please listen to what I’m trying to get across here: Welcome to the camp of the saints. We are at coffin corner here, encircled by a powerful “progressive” army that outnumbers us and is emboldened by fresh victories. To suffer a third consecutive humiliating defeat in 2010 could be all she wrote for the movement born at Sharon, Connecticut, four decades ago.

We are now a mere 18 months from Labor Day 2010, when that climactic political battle will be fully engaged. There a lot of important work to be done — and done now, over the next three to six months — if there is to be any hope of anything but the abomination of desolation. Our utter destruction is at hand unless good men rally to the colors, and we no longer have the luxury of indulging in these petty playground feuds and the children who enjoy them.

To the extent that conservatives need a philosopher now, I’d say we need to be studying Sun-Tzu.

If Rod Dreher wants to join Andrew Sullivan and David Brock (yes, I said “Brock,” not “Brooks”) in the ranks of the vaunting army outside the camp, let him go over and be gone. But don’t sit pouting inside the camp, giving aid and comfort to the adversary by your demoralizing pronouncements. If that stuff is going to be tolerated among conservatives, there won’t be enough left of a constitutional republic after Nov. 3 for anyone to bother trying to “conserve” it, and no hope at all that it might be restored.


UPDATE 2:04 A.M.: Andrew Breitbart:

A friend in Los Angeles e-mailed a one-liner: “Best speech I have ever seen.”
My urbane father-in-law, the first person I knew who copped to listening to Mr. Limbaugh and who has been witness to most of the big events of the modern age, called it the “most thrilling thing [he’s] seen on TV.”

What he said.

UPDATE 3:30 P.M.: In the comments, an anonymous homeschooling mom corrects my memory of Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War. However, she used her homeschooled teenagers as references, which is unfair. At any rate, the event I remember was the siege and surrender of Plataea (431-427). The merciless commander was not Athenian, but Spartan.

February 28, 2009

Tea Parties, Defeatism and Wolverines

Discussing Rick Moran’s criticisms of the Tea Party protests, Dan Riehl writes:

I remember when Rick pronounced the Iraq War lost and a humiliation for America. So this sort of thing from him doesn’t really surprise me. . . .The naysayers are always the least remembered voices when something succeeds or even when it fails. There’s good reason for that. America just doesn’t take kindly to losers, even if they turn out to have been on the right side of events.

Very harsh. I hesitate to judge Rick as harshly as I would judge David Brooks or George Will if they wrote the same thing — and perhaps I’m wrong to be more tolerant of bloggers than of Old Media pundits.

Friday, I had lunch with Tim Mooney of Save Our Secret Ballot and, in the course of discussing everyone’s favorite CPAC ’09 topic — what’s wrong with the GOP? — discussed the problem of the polluted information stream.

Among the ill effects of liberal bias in the media is that much political “news” amounts to thinly disguised DNC talking-points. The conservative must learn to think critically about news and politics, to filter out that which is misleading, or else he will internalize the funhouse-mirror distortions of reality that define the liberal weltanschauung.

This, I said to Mr. Mooney, is one of the major problems of the Republican Party, that so many of its supporters have unwittingly accepted liberal beliefs as political truths. Therefore, when those who present themselves as conservatives parrot the liberal line, the damage they do is far worse than if the same statements were made by Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. Why? Because this “conservative” echo tends to act as a hardening catalyst for the conventional wisdom.

I have never forgiven David Brooks for “National Greatness.” Brooks’s argument, that “anti-government” conservatism is both wrong as policy and doomed as politics, had a demoralizing effect on the Republican Party. The elegance of Brooks’s writing — whatever your opinion of the man, the elegance of his prose style is beyond dispute — was the spoonful of sugar to make that poisonous medicine go down. That was 12 years ago, and if the GOP now appears disastrously ill, Brooks and his erstwhile publishers at the Weekly Standard are heavily implicated in this perhaps fatal disease.

Rick Moran is not David Brooks. Moran’s influence is sufficiently limited that he can be wrong without inflicting much damage. But in such a desperate political crisis as conservatives now face, they can ill afford to let off-key voices lead the chorus. Moran and others are free to quarrel with the “Tea Party” tactics of opposing Obamanomics, but small-d democratic considerations will relegate them to the role of dogs barking at the passing caravan.

“The opposition party must oppose,” as Jennifer Rubin said. Since the Democratic majority is proposing a liberal economic monstrosity of epic scale, opposition ought to be easy. And just because it is so easy, conservatives should resist the temptation to be lazy or sloppy in tactics.

Constructive criticism of tactics is one thing; pronouncing the opposition as doomed from the outset is something else. Stephen Green is a good blog buddy (whom last I saw at 2 a.m. in the lobby of the Omni Shoreham), but when I heard Stephen arguing in essence that the GOP couldn’t possibly make a dent in Democratic hegemony before 2014 — hey, I called bullshit.

Friends don’t let friends peddle defeatist bullshit. You cannot organize opposition unless you first believe that opposition can be effective and meaningful. Telling conservatives that there is no point deploying an ambush on the road to serfdom? That’s defeatist bullshit. If Ho Chi Minh had thought that way, the French would still rule Indochina.

Conservatives are now a guerrilla resistance. Harassing the enemy — staging raids and ambushes that prevent him from enjoying his conquest at leisure — is basic to guerrilla resistance. If we are doomed to destruction, as least let it be said that we died fighting. But those who never fight, never win.

In a word: “Wolverines!”

UPDATE: Linked by Dan Riehl, who colorfully accuses me of being too nice to Rick.

2/25: Thoughts on strategy
2/23: Rick Moran takes counsel of his fears
12/21: But seriously, folks