tales of the unexpected

Although I have Republican roots and there are things I am conservative about, there’s no way you could call me a “conservative” in the modern (Goldwater, 1964 and after) sense of the word.

Conservatism has failed too many times to face up to the big issues, starting with the civil rights movement and carrying through to today. And of course, I think what gets called conservative on talk radio is really home-grown radicalism. The free market absolutists and original intent-ists have much in common with the radical left of the early 70s – an unswerving belief they’re correct, a sense of persecution, a commitment to be pure at all costs.

Still, I read conservative writers because I’m also uncomfortable with what passes for liberal, and because some of them are willing to engage in the task of raising difficult questions.

Two examples from this morning’s reading:

– Pat Buchanan, writing for The American Conservative, has a piece called “Syria and the Danger of Moral Imperialism.” It might also have been called “What if Putin is right?” and it’s guaranteed to send most conservatives, neo-cons, neo-liberals, liberals, moderates into a rage. It takes as its jumping off point President Putin’s speech to the U.N., in which Putin argued we brought on ourselves the mess that is the middle east. Buchanan doesn’t go quite so far as to say “I agree,” but he buttresses Putin’s words this way:

“Fourteen years after we invaded Afghanistan, Afghan troops are once again fighting Taliban forces for control of Kunduz. Only 10,000 U.S. troops still in that ravaged country prevent the Taliban’s triumphal return to power.

A dozen years after George W. Bush invaded Iraq, ISIS occupies its second city, Mosul, controls its largest province, Anbar, and holds Anbar’s capital, Ramadi, as Baghdad turns away from us—to Tehran. The cost to Iraqis of their “liberation”? A hundred thousand dead, half a million widows and fatherless children, millions gone from the country and, still, unending war.

How has Libya fared since we “liberated” that land? A failed state, it is torn apart by a civil war between an Islamist “Libya Dawn” in Tripoli and a Tobruk regime backed by Egypt’s dictator.

Then there is Yemen. Since March, when Houthi rebels chased a Saudi sock puppet from power, Riyadh, backed by U.S. ordinance and intel, has been bombing that poorest of nations in the Arab world. Five thousand are dead and 25,000 wounded since March. And as the 25 million Yemeni depend on imports for food, which have been largely cut off, what is happening is described by one U.N. official as a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Read the entire thing here and marshal your arguments against Buchanan’s (and Putin’s) words, but set a condition for yourself – make your argument about the world as it is, not as you want it to be.

Even more surprisingly, I found myself agreeing with Laura Ingraham, about whom I’ll assume the reader already knows and has an opinion.

Ingraham wrote a column in which she calls out the Republican Party in detail about its down-on-both-knees obeisance to “the donor class.”

“Big givers stay close to their candidates through special apps, conference calls and intimate gatherings. The really big guns are treated to the holy grail of access — the cellphone number of the candidate.

Theresa Kostrzewa, a lobbyist who is also a Jeb Bush supporter, was refreshingly candid in summing up the dynamic.

“Donors are demanding a lot these days … (T)hey want answers and they want results, and a lot of them hit the panic button a lot,” she told the New York Times.

As for the rest of you sops who call the main House or Senate switchboards and expect to be heard? You have a better chance of hitting Lotto.”

Read the whole thing here. Of course, her bottom line, “The time has come for Republican politicians to quit letting others pull their strings and do a better job of representing the voters who put them in office,” would – if carried out – have interesting consequences for the GOP. The conventional wisdom is that paying attention to the actual Republican voter would mean another loss for President and probably losing the Senate as well. Probably, but I’m not entirely convinced.

(And for the record, this really is an issue on which the Democrats are as bad, though far subtler. They have largely abandoned the interests of middle class Americans over the last 30 years in the name of “free trade,” the “new economy” and the rest, all of which looks more and more like misdirection, while giving the donors what they want. Greed is not a party thing.)

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