April 11, 2003

Huffington -- War's Outcome...

Huffington -- War's Outcome 'Proves Everything Those of Us Who Were Against the War Said Was Right': That's what I just heard her say on Knia, but as a Greek who hated Clinton at the time....

Posted by at April 11, 2003 02:39 PM
Comments

I can't figure out this lady. She was a staunch anti-Clinton conservative commentator for a long time. Followed the party line.

Then she seemed to have a conversion, and during the Rep. primaries was a McCain evangelist. She started criticizing the Republicans and I was starting to admire her change of heart.

After that she went nuts, saying that SUV owners support terrorism. And every important topic that would come up during the week, she would release irrelevant articles about her favorite but tired topic of corporate scandals and the evilness of oil.

She was probably against the war in Kosovo because she was anti-Clinton then. Now, she's just nuts.

Posted by: ElCapitanAmerica at April 11, 2003 03:41 PM

She moved from Washington to Santa Monica, and hence from a Gingrichite peer-group to a Hollywood one. Her belief-system adjusted itself to order.

Posted by: Jesse Walker at April 11, 2003 06:18 PM

No, last I heard she lives in Brentwood Park area. Anyway, she's a vile, opportunistic, gold-digging bitch.

If you ask me, her change politically started when she befriended Al Franken (and I'm thinking he was shagging the hell out her -- but you didn't hear that from me).

She's also now an Episcopalian, since the Greek Orthodox Church kicked her out. They actually has standards on how many times you can divorce and remarry (and in her case remarry the old-fashioned way -- for money).

Posted by: Robert Light at April 11, 2003 06:38 PM

"They actually HAVE standards."

Sheesh!!

Posted by: Robert Light at April 11, 2003 06:39 PM

What about that whole John-Roger business? And I don't think she's a "bitch," though admittedly we're not the tightest of friends....

Posted by: Matt Welch at April 11, 2003 06:43 PM

They excomunnicated her?

Whoa!

Posted by: ElCapitanAmerica at April 11, 2003 06:44 PM

I'm sorry, what's the "John-Roger business"?

Posted by: Robert Light at April 11, 2003 06:47 PM

I said she was "kicked out"* -- but mulling it over for a moment it would seem that being kicked out of a denomination (and she wasn't just kicked out of a parish, mind you) would seem to imply excommunication! Christian denominations -- well, at least the "catholic" [Anglican, Coptic, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, etc.] and mainstream Protestant ones -- are houses of worship for all believers; so yes, being kicked out would, ipso facto, seem THE ultimate form of reprimand and would seem to be the equivalent of being excommunication.

*and just for the record, that info is based on a avery reliable first-hand source; an Opus Dei Roman-Catholic, my former boss, who informed me of this three years ago after he had lunch with Huffington.

Posted by: Robert Light at April 11, 2003 07:09 PM

"being excommunicatED"

Fucking hell -- my proof-reading sucks-ass!

Posted by: Robert Light at April 11, 2003 07:11 PM

She's approaching Michael Jackson levels of weirdness but another *weird* thing is/was her husband. (Don't know if they're still married). He was an empty suit who ran for the Senate as a Republican from California and spent millions of his own money, only to flop badly. Thereafter there was a scandal about his firm selling electric cattle-prods to the government of Indonesia (to be used during torture was the allegation) and then he came out as bisexual. For some reason he thought we were dying to hear about that. Thanks for sharing. Dunno what he's doing nowadays.

Posted by: dude at April 11, 2003 08:22 PM

Geez, can't anyone do research? "What prompted the transformation in my political thinking" has been on her site for at least a couple years.

John-Roger is some guru or cult leader or something that she followed or follows.

I know her home address and if anyone wants to go to the Kentner Coaster we could check it out. Maybe rev our SUVs at loud volume outside.

Posted by: Lonewacko at April 11, 2003 08:28 PM

Well, I haven't really cared enough about this woman in the past to venture visiting her website, but I visited the link you provided and read the article.

She makes some valid points and one couldn't say that her heart isn't in the right place.

But if she thinks as follows, "I recognize that the task of overcoming poverty is too monumental to be achieved without the raw power of annual government appropriations" [!!] then she is woefully mistaken. Moreover, her language, to the effect of getting beyond old left-right paradigms, is just so much banal horseshit that I'm continually dumbfounded that such slogans find a willing audience. What her statement betrays is the malarkey of somehow "getting beyond" politics -- as if THAT VERY statement isn't itself _political_.

To that end, Arianna and anyone else interested, would have a lot to gain by reading slim little book, Carl Schmitt's _The Concept of the Political_ (U. Chicago Press).

Posted by: Robert Light at April 11, 2003 08:51 PM

She has always been a political opportunist. Back in her early California days -- before she moved to Washington -- she dated Governer Jerry Brown, a Democrat. It was no secret among Californians that her dearest objective was to become First Lady of the United States. She obviously thought Jerry was her ticket to the White House. Unfortunately for her he dumped her for Linda Rondstadt and then ran his once-promising political career into the crapper. Now he is the obscure mayor of Oakland, California. She then hooked up with Huffington, a conservative Texas oil millionaire who was gay. She married him knowing full well that he was gay. What the hell, he was presentable-looking and he had the money to finance her ambitions and that was good enough for her. She thought HE was her ticket to the White House. They moved back to California and Huffington ran for the Senate on the Republican ticket. She spent a gazillion dollars of his money trying to win the Senate seat but Californians were totally turned off by their arrogant attitude and Huffington's carpetbagger status as a newly arrived Texan. They lost big time. She probably realized that he was NOT her ticket to the White House after all and then she dumped him.
Back before she married Huffington she was a writer of non-fiction books. She got into trouble after plagiarizing someone else's work for a biography of Picasso she "wrote." I believe some sort of settlement with the original author was involved.

Posted by: Susan at April 11, 2003 10:18 PM

Good low-down of our Greek gold digger. I hadn't known some of these details, but just going on bits I knew about her ever since she and Mr. Huffington tried to bamboozle the voters of California, it's been pretty unmistakable that she embodies the near pure form of demagoguery.

As a clarification of my previous post (which was written in haste before I was out the door). I had mentioned that this notion of "getting beyond old left-right paradigm" is ridiculous. I certainly didn't mean to imply that getting beyond old or ossified political ideas is a bad thing. Quite the contrary. I just find shocking the notion that somebody, availing herself of such utterances as to how best end (how about mitigate??) poverty in this country -- that this horseshit somehow qualifies her as oh SO above the fray of politics and ideology! The hubris stinks to high heaven. And then she goes on a public supported pseudo-socialist radio show (which I listen to all the time, actually! ;) ) representing "the center" (the show being called "left Right and Center"). Christ, what does that make poor Bob Scheer, a raging Trotskyite? (Wait, he IS one).

Posted by: Robert Light at April 11, 2003 10:48 PM

Robert -- I think Matt Miller defines the "center," while Arianna is busy "floating above traditional political definitions."

Posted by: Matt Welch at April 11, 2003 11:01 PM

Brentwood Park, eh? I stand corrected -- on the specific point, anyway. My theory still fits the facts.

Posted by: Jesse Walker at April 12, 2003 12:33 AM

Just finished watching "Real Time" with Bill Maher on HBO -- and guess who was on it?

Also appearing was "Open Mike" Dyson who takes racial demagoguery to new levels (little wonder that he's friends with Al Sharpton). Listening to him speak was just lovely. Arianna and Dyson couldn't stop talking about American "imperialism" in the Middle East, yadda, yadda, yadda. These people are poison.

(I really hope the Ali G. Show is on tonight -- that shit's hilarious).

Posted by: Robert Light at April 12, 2003 12:35 AM

"floating above traditional political definitions."

Yeah, my white ass. (I mean, I don't think you think that -- but the show obviously thinks so; and I suppose unsuspecting members of the listening audience thinks so).

Her politics are unmistakeably left. There isn't a thing about her rhetoric substantively different from Progressive politics from a century ago (Herbert Croly, Walter Lippmann, John Dewey). And there's nothing coming out of her mouth I can't read at The Nation.

Her most stupid statement of the evening with Bill Maher:

"we need more government oversight of government."

Hugh??? Uh, no Arriana, we have far less democracy and far less freedom in this country -- an erosion that, most people aren't aware of, started a century ago -- *precisely* because of the politics you espouse. People, ordinary people, are far less able to shape and *guide* government because so much of policy making has been taken out of the control of voters and put into the hands of unelected "government experts" (who were, actually, intended to be the very "government" oversight you are talking about Arriana [a concept lifted, actually, straight from the Prussian model of governance -- think of it as Woodrow Wilson comes to the people of the United States, "Hey! I've got good news on how to run American democracy! Unfortunately -- it's all from Germany!]). Oh well.

Posted by: Robert Light at April 12, 2003 12:59 AM

"saying that SUV owners support terrorism"

That was a barb against the anti-drug commercials that were saying drug use supports terrorism.

"getting beyond old left-right paradigms, is just so much banal horseshit that I'm continually dumbfounded that such slogans"

The "left-right paradigms" are just as much banal horseshit sloganeering as the banal horseshit sloganeering about moving "beyond" them.

I don't have problems with the accusations of "political opportunist", though I wonder what the point is (aren't politics about grabbing opportunities?) though I don't see too much discrepancy in supporting McCain and then flipping out into far left field when the Evangelical wing of the Republican party took control. If McCain had been on the ballot I probably would have supported him rather than Nader, I think the core issue there was supporting somebody who would tackle corporate corruption in government and reform the electoral process; it's quite clear that this is what's at the heart of the matter for Huffington's "opportunistic behavior".

By "government oversite of government" she means creating more checks and balances on governmental powers, nevermind putting the ones we've lost in the past century back in. So:

"we have far less democracy and far less freedom in this country -- an erosion that, most people aren't aware of, started a century ago"

This is what she's been saying since at least her 'conversion', not that I'm some kind of avid Huffington reader but anybody listening to anything she's said knows she wants greater transparency in government and more restrictions on it's authority, not less. The idea that small government is weak government is stupid overgeneralized pseudo-libertarian rubbish: if our government had just one branch instead of three it would be "smaller", but it'd have more in common with Communist dictatorship than a liberal democracy.

And the stream of character assassination shit with respect to her sex life, nevermind her religion, is just as retarded here as it was against Clinton - or for that matter as it was against Norm Coleman (ala Keillor). It'd be more useful if you ad hominem junkies spent your time discrediting the ideas rather than attacking the person.

Posted by: buermann at April 12, 2003 02:05 AM

Jawohl, Herr Buermann! Und ich muss sagen dass was du schreibst, total ganz Kuehscheisse ist.

So let's take this apart piece by piece, since what you're writing is, if not specious, pretty uninformed:

First, your comment:

"The 'left-right paradigms' are just as much banal horseshit sloganeering as the banal horseshit sloganeering about moving 'beyond' them."

Well, no. You get it wrong. "Left" and "Right" are colloquial expressions that actually fairly accurately capture the "essences" of political proclivities. And those inclinations have, in a a broad sense, been with us pretty much since the time of French Revolution when these names, left and right, were generated. "Left" generally stands for egalitarianism, and adherents argue about wealth being unjustly distributed (but usually overlook the need to generate wealth) and advocate a larger government presence vis-a-vis civil society. **Government shouldn't stand apart from society but should be an extension of it.** The "right" on the other hand basically stands for tradition, church, heirarchy, and are preoccupied with wealth generation (but pay little attention to how it should be distributed) and a sharper division between state and society. There are other attributes, of course, I could go into, but these are the basic, normative ones.

However, I'lll add that a very salient difference, to which the "left right" paradigm of course fits, is the serious tension, in every polity, between liberty and equality. Today's Left seems to care more about equality (unqualified egalitarianism -- a societal leveling) than they do about liberty (such as the freedom of association).

So my point is, these political inclinations -- the "form" if you will (i.e. left and right) are constant. The "material" or matter (i.e. specific issues) may change and vary.

"(aren't politics about grabbing opportunities?)"

Well, yeah opportunities happen in politics -- but grabbing opportunities hardly constitute the _end_ (the goal) of politics. Perhaps you should read Aristotle's _Politics_ (Carnes Lord translation, to be sure).

"I don't see too much discrepancy in supporting McCain and then flipping out into far left field when the Evangelical wing of the Republican party took control."

There's a huge "discrepancy" between McCain and "flipping out into far left field." McCain and "far left field" are not even on the same page. The Evangelical wing does not "control" the Republican Party. Get over it. (Gee, I thought it was the Likkudniks and Straussians controlling the George Bush White House? -- so which is it?). I suppose you were freaked out by his visiting Bob Jones University. Well I was rather annoyed that Bill Bradley, Hillary, and Gore all visited Harlem to kiss Al Sharpten's ring. Besides, many of these loathesome Pat Roberston types never have emerged from the woodwork if Marcuse-Gramsci-Foucault-Heidegger stylized radicals hadn't radicalized essentially every fucking institution of moral instruction (education, art, academia, law-schools, non-profit orgs) in this country over the past 30 years.

"I think the core issue there was supporting somebody who would tackle corporate corruption in government and reform the electoral process."

As a conservative of heterodox taste, I basically hate big capitalism and big corporations - I hate big everything. (But I like big butts!) This is actually consistent with my Burkean/Kirkian leanings -- so I have no problem unleashing the furies the Ken Lays of the world.

The corruption in Washington is evident -- but if anything, I think the argument can be made that the campaign finance laws on the books for the past 30 years have unwittingly *worsened* the corruption in politics. As a reminder, politics must have a certain amount of "acceptable" corruption for it to even work anyway. Being a Kantian or, worse, a Robespierre about it -- demanding total purity abolition of all venality -- is a cure worse than the disease.

We need to repeal the campaign finance laws of the early 70s. To that end, I can't possibly improve on Tom West (professor of politics and philosophy at the University of Dallas) who put it thus:

"Let me give examples to explain in each case how this decline of democracy, equality, and rights is taking place.

Consider free speech. Conservatives today sometimes complain that we have an excess of free speech. But let us focus on the on Founders regarded as the most important purpose of free speech: enabling the public to make an informed decision about candidates for election. In 1971, for the first time in American history, government began to take this right away from a large class of Americans;those who cooperate or consult with candidates for public office. Such people are permitted to spend no more than $1,000 explaining to the public why their friends deserve to be elected. This campaign finance act was passed in order to limit the influence of people with money in elections. The idea behind this law was that since poor people can’t afford to publish their views, the wealthy should be severely limited in what they can publish.
What would the Founders have thought of a law punishing people for publishing their views on an election contest? This is what the Revolution was all about: government would not be permitted to say who would be permitted to publish and who forbidden. That had been the law in Old England. Such laws violate the right to liberty, and they are anti-democratic. John Adams wrote, “If the press is to be stopped and the people kept in ignorance, we had much better have the first magistrate and senators hereditary.”

The result of campaign finance laws is to “stop the press”—to cut down on public information about candidates who are not favored by the established media, the major networks and the leading daily newspapers. What candidates lose out under our campaign finance laws? Those who challenge the status quo, **who oppose big government**,--in many cases, conservatives."

You write:

"By 'government oversite of government' she means creating more checks and balances on governmental powers."

Well, the Constitution and the theory of republican democracy set forth in the Federalist Papers articulates an elaborate structure of checks and balances. That structure has been made war upon BY PROGRESSIVES over the last century. Again, I'll spare myself the time explaining this to you, but you should really avail yourself of Sidney Milkis's anthology of scholarly essays "Progressivism and the New Democracy" (UMass Press) and Sidney Pearson's intro to Herber Croly's book "Progressive Democracy" (Transaction Press).

While I'm at it, consider this, from Pearson's intro to Croly's book (Croly, founder of The New Repubic, was, along with Woodrow Wilson, the main architect of America's "Second Founding" -- the legacy of progressivism and the administrative State we live with today):

"The realization of progressive democracy meant for Croly liberation from legalistic self-restraint. 'As democracy becomes alert, experienced, critical and self-confident, its attention becomes fastened on its own immediate needs and purposes.' Traditional culture was never able truly to liberate the human spirit because it was bound up by a legal culture of fixed virtues [imagine that!] that was inward-looking . . . What is required of the progressive-liberal is faith in democracy itself: 'Faith is the primary virtue demanded by the social education of democracy,' he wrote, and added, significantly, 'in case human nature is capable of salvation.' It would be a faith analogous to that of St. Paul, but with the difference that such salvation woud be, of course, self-salvation. And the faith, in its own terms, was faith in progress toward a future when not faith but democratic man would be the measure of justice [not anything "fixed" such as nature, i.e. the natural law implicit in the Constitution by way of the Declaration's "laws of nature and nature's god"]. In this secular notion of the subject and object [Hegelian language -- subjective will and objective will -- Croly, Wilson, all the Progressives, if the didn't study in Germany itself, were educated by Hegelians] of political faith, Croly's vision shared much in common with the positivism of Auguste Comte that had figured so prominently in the life of his parents . . . In Croly's version of secular humanism, the City of Man would replace the City of Go as the end of progress."

You write:

"if our government had just one branch instead of three it would be 'smaller', but it'd have more in common with Communist dictatorship than a liberal democracy."

Well, duh. However, again, progressives (called liberals today, those of primarily the Democratic party where progressives found their home long ago) have expressed a REITERATED animus toward checks and balances and the whole concept of limited and deliberative democracy ("limited" government is vocabulary totally alien to the left-liberal repitoire, because government's role is, essentially, ENDLESS by virtue of personal human problems being endless).

Just a question to Arriana and Mccain (other than on the issue of campaing finance, whom I greatly respect) -- once you get banish all the "special interests" from government in Washington, who is left to check the biggest special interest of all (government)? You mean to tell me government doesn't have its own interest in prosecuting it's own ends? Thos "special interests" that Huffington & Co carp about, the demonization of which is as old as the hills, are what the Founders called "factions." If you have many factions, they check each other. As they wrote "let ambition check ambition."

I'll close with a further note from Pearson's intro:

"[Croly and the Progressives] rejected the Founders' solution of institutional arrangements to prevent demagoguery and were forced, by default, to rely on the moral integrity of leaders, who in turn reflect the moral integrity of the many, not to engage in the corruption of democratic government . . . What, then, is the solution to political tyranny? For Croly it is reduced, ultimately TO PROGRESSIVE FAITH IN DEMOCRACY AS AN END IN ITSELF [{caps mine} -- well dandy, what first principles, what if *anything* is that "faith" based on? How can you have "faith" in democracy? It's either self-evidently good or its not] . . . Under the Founders' Constitution, with its separation of powers and checks and balances, democratic opinion was constantly frustrated [just like Clinton, always complaining of grid-lock] . . . but beneath the surface, he distrusted the Founders' argument that CONFLICT WAS A PERMANENT PART OF POLITICS AND THEIR POLITICAL SCIENCE THAT SOUGHT MERELY TO CONTROL THE EFFECTS OF FACTIONS . . . Presidents in the political tradition that Croly was constructing around a 'living Constitution' would find their powers outside the Constitution. In Croly's vision of a new model president the necessary energy was found in public opinion [not in say the Constitution]. The Founders' President WAS UNDER THE LAW; CROLY'S PRESIDENT WAS THE EMBODIMENT OF A PROGRESSIVE VERSION OF THE *GENERAL WILL* [think Rousseau and mob rule] of the national community.

Under this vision of progressive democracy, 'the words "majority" and "minority" would assume a somewhat different meaning from that which is attached to them in ordinary political discussion.' The public, in the act of deliberating actively on different policy options, would be continually debating the reasonableness of the plans being offered by a 'scientific analysis.' . . . Diversity was reduced to disagreement about how to most efficiently reach presumably *collective* ends . . . Demagoguery would be ruled out by the opennes of debate and popular judgement on the effectiveness of the policies. The resultant dialectic . . . would transform majorities and minorities from antagonists into supplementary educators of one another. Majorities and minorities would NOT BE DIVIDED BY PERMANENT INTERESTS. The unfolding rationality of political discussion would, Croly assumed, change people's minds on various issues, and the result would be that 'government would not be confined to one majority but to a succession of majorities."

So in a nut shell, people like Huffington mean well but they don't understand that government, through the Founders' intentions of checks and balances and separation of powers, the citizens can better guide their government. But with her prescriptions and other the advocacy of like-minded progressives you end up with a Constitution (and by extension a political order) which is like an empty bottle of wine into which you can empty out the old wine and put in whatever new wine of super-majorities accord with the "spirit of the time." But none of this is based in anything so constricting as first principles, such as natural rights, and natural right to property, etc. (the 'laws of nature and nature's god' of the founding).

Posted by: Robert Light at April 12, 2003 05:50 AM

She definitely works out.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at April 12, 2003 09:59 AM

"'Left' and 'Right' are colloquial expressions"

So you agree that they're as much the slogans that "moving beyond" left and right is, as that's nothing more than a colloquial expression about a political proclivity.

"but grabbing opportunities hardly constitute the _end_ "

The end would be in achieving something - honest criticism would direct itself towards the means to the end or the end itself, but the use of "political opportunist" as a perjorative by itself is meaningless.

"McCain and 'far left field' are not even on the same page."

Tell me again which Republican senator it was that was co-signing all those radical bills with Feingold?

"The Evangelical wing does not 'control' tte that what we have now is not really acceptible, if for no other reason than owing to the century-long assaults on the Constitution, assaults which have actually and unwittingly had the OPPOSITE effect of what was intended. The social and institutional pathologies which you rightly deplore (child labor, etc.) is a straw-man: they could easily have been gotten over and mitigated by means other than resorting to creating a Hegelian Rational State, which is precisely what your man, quoted on your website, Walter Lippmann, along with Croly, Wilson, the philosopher John Dewey and others conspired to achieve -- and did achieve. Actually reading these people leaves you with the unmistakeable impression that what Arrianna, McCain and others advocate is really nothing new. There haven't been any new ideas in American liberalism, essentially, for the past 100 years. (But sustainable energy production I'm all fine and dandy about; I just want hybrid cars not to look like one needs a propeller hat to drive one).


{Rob Light} "who is left to check the biggest special interest of all (government)"

{Buermann answers} The public and the public institutions *they establish* to play watchdog on the government, which is what transparency reform and freedom of information is about. That should be obvious.

"They establish" -- who establishes them, government? Because it sure heck sounds like it would be government and the media who would be left with the only leverage of selecting who's and who's not kosher in organizing pressure groups (but then we're back to the dreaded "interest group"). "The pubic"? How about _private_ interest groups.

You write: "Freedom of speech in any meaningful sense requires the ability to be heard."

Yes, fine. But have a careful read of the quote I offered from Tom West. How on earth can you get your voice heard if you're not allowed to spend your money however you like, on whichever candidate you like?

In the McCain/Huffington universe, once self-interest is purged from politics, disinterested patriotism would supposedly bloom and "pure democracy" could be achieved. And what, exactly, would "pure democracy" do? Well, whatever.

Progressives and people like Huffington simply do not recognize that nowadays the national government itself is by far the largest and most dangerous special interest, WHOSE POWER OVER THE ELECTION OF ITS OWN MEMBERS* -- our representatives -- would be increased by their proposals ("transparency reform" etc.)

(* Gee, I thought we could all agree not to have such an order of events that would create, in your words, a government with "just one branch instead of three [such that]." Certainly "it would be 'smaller', but [it] would have more in common with Communist dictatorship than a liberal democracy." Well, thanks to progressive politics, this is *precisely* what, if anything, we're likely to approximate. Unwittingly, of course, because I don't entirely disagree with your and other progressive's diagnosis -- but the cure is worse than the disease. You need to study the etiology of the administrative State -- go back to the author's I recommend you read).

Moreoever, it's utopian to identify self-interestedness as an evil -- **which, let's face it, is THE animus behind all of Huffington's rhetoric** -- that self-interestedness must be expelled or eliminated if our politics is ever to be decent. **Republican democracy seeks to moderate and elevate self-interest to see how self-interest and duty coincide.** It does not war on self-interest in the name of disinterested virtue, because that would endanger freedom as well as decency and because, in fact, virtue is not completely disinterested: **Virtue is good for us.**

To wrap up our discussion I *strongly* commend to your discerning eyes a brilliant, penetrating essay by my professor, Charles Kesler, whose lively discussion goes to the heart of the disagreements on view in our little debate:

http://salvatori.research.claremontmckenna.edu/resources/crk1.htm

Posted by: Robert Light at April 12, 2003 02:42 PM

"who establishes them, government?"

What is it about "that the public establishes" that you don't understand?

"who's not kosher in organizing pressure groups"

The "interest group"s that are an actual problem are the lobbiests in Washington making sure their lacky congressmen do what they were paid for.

"How on earth can you get your voice heard if you're not allowed to spend your money however you like, on whichever candidate you like?"

I quite obviously disagreed with the reform described, so what are you talking about?

I don't know where you're pulling "pure democracy" from, as I didn't say anything about such a thing and you don't suggest anything coming from McCain or Huffington that refers to such an idea.

"Progressives and people like Huffington simply do not recognize that nowadays the national government itself is by far the largest and most dangerous special interest, WHOSE POWER OVER THE ELECTION OF ITS OWN MEMBERS* -- our representatives -- would be increased by their proposals ('transparency reform' etc.)"

Quite the nuanced straw argument. How would transparency in the redistricting process increase the power to abuse it on behalf of incubents? You're not making sense.

"it's utopian to identify self-interestedness as an evil"

Again, what the fuck are you talking about? It's not like Huffington is some kind of altruist saint blabbing about peace and love, her rhetoric is about how the war, the fossil fuels, and the hypercorruption in Washington work against our self-interest.

I'm not sure what I did to send you careening off into outerspace here, but you seem to be whipped up into a frenzy about something that I'm not actually talking about.

Posted by: buermann at April 12, 2003 08:46 PM

Interesting thread:

The initial piling on reminded me of LGF comments the day after one of Gore's speeches. Makes me want to go back and read her more closely now.

Next, Robert and buermann go all philosophical on each other (which is great, but what I'm really interested in...)

Does Robert's Opus Dei ex-boss wear a hair-shirt or one of those barbed-wire garters?

Posted by: John K. at April 12, 2003 11:27 PM

"What is it about 'that the public establishes' that you don't understand?"

Uh, no Buermann, what don't YOU understand? You don't seem to grasp the concept that the public, (or, rather private citizens) would not be able to freely get their views, opinions, wishes expressed in the event of public financing of campaigns -- it effectively abolishes the right of citizens to form whatever interest groups they feel most affect their "safety and happiness." The entire ideological edifice behind Progressive reform is brilliantly adumbrated in the paper by Charles Kesler for which I offered a link, above. You have a lot to gain by reading it. You would also have much to gain by looking at, say, Bradely Smith's book on campaing finance reform, _Unfree Speech_ (Princeton U. Press).

"who's not kosher in organizing pressure groups"


"The interest group's that are an actual problem are the lobbiests in Washington making sure their lacky congressmen do what they were paid for."

Yeah, that's part of democracy. Many people -- myself included -- think the right to own and bear arms is protected by the Constitution and that this right should continue to be protected. Many such people, myself not one of them -- though I'm partial to their cause -- support the NRA to protect this interest. There's nothing wrong with this in principle -- unless you just happen to not like firearms, which is of course a separate debate. Under a scenario of public funding of campaigns, conservative causes -- and, by the way, many leftist causes (hence many have seen the light and voted against CFR) -- lose out.

[Rob] "How on earth can you get your voice heard if you're not allowed to spend your money however you like, on whichever candidate you like?"

[Buermann] "I quite obviously disagreed with the reform described, so what are you talking about?"

I say this because you seemed of the opinion that campaign finance reform -- public financing of campaigns -- is a good idea, as does Ms. Huffington.

"I don't know where you're pulling 'pure democracy' from, as I didn't say anything about such a thing and you don't suggest anything coming from McCain or Huffington that refers to such an idea.

Well, you haven't really grasped the import of what McCain or Huffington espouse. And you have no familiarity with the ideological edifice behind progressivism, which is, very simply, the animus behind McCain, Huffington, and sundry others (progressivism has a long history on the Republican side as well, you'll be surprised to know -- noticeably Teddy Roosevelt whom Herbert Croly, himself a Rebublican, mentored). There's no mystery here. The only "standard" by which such progressives allow themselves to judge the decency of a society is how democratic the polity is _becoming_, not whether the polity in question accords with the principle of _good government_ of which our government allows for many of its ow institutions to be very non-democratic; of course, the concept of good government is a more abstract idea and gets into political theory, of which I'd be happy to indulge you. (But like most Epicureans of leftist/radical proclivities you expressed noticeable impatience for thinking and I like all good Epicureans you're more interested only in making).


[Rob] "Progressives and people like Huffington simply do not recognize that nowadays the national government itself is by far the largest and most dangerous special interest, WHOSE POWER OVER THE ELECTION OF ITS OWN MEMBERS* -- our representatives -- would be increased by their proposals ('transparency reform' etc.)"

[Buermann] "Quite the nuanced straw argument. How would transparency in the redistricting process increase the power to abuse it on behalf of incubents? You're not making sense."

Well, I'm actually more concerned about the chief issue, allowing citizens to spend their money on political speech how they see fit -- transparency in redistricting is another matter which I confess I'm not too familiar with.


[Rob] "it's utopian to identify self-interestedness as an evil"

[Buermann] "Again, what the fuck are you talking about? It's not like Huffington is some kind of altruist saint blabbing about peace and love, her rhetoric is about how the war, the fossil fuels, and the hypercorruption in Washington work against our self-interest.

I'm not sure what I did to send you careening off into outerspace here, but you seem to be whipped up into a frenzy about something that I'm not actually talking about."

CFR as invisioned by the likes of McCainiacs and the Huffingtons is ultimately an assault on our freedom of association -- people associate in "factions" througout civil society according to their interests. This factionalism is sown into the nature of man. No body of citizens is immune from partial, subjective notions of freedom. As Kesler puts it: "[for Progressives] a just or complete representation cannot be based on merely subjective freedom, on the right of each voter or interest group to pursue its own interest." So, yes, this is an assault on human being's _natural rights_ (which according to you, the empiricist, don't exist, or about which we have no insight -- ha!). CFR is just one effort -- one among many -- but a glaring one at that, to create a more effectively Rational State, an entity which I and many other sober-minded individuals consider tyrannical.

Consider the following article, written by one of my good friends. To wit:

The Supreme Court dealt another blow to free-speech rights late last month, ruling 5-to-4 in the case of Federal Election Commission v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Commission that the government may regulate how much money a state political party spends in support of its own political candidates. Memb>On the question of how political campaigns are funded today, many Republicans and Democrats — and a majority of the Supreme Court — seem to agree on two things: First, money equals corruption. Second, because there is an awful lot of money in politics today, our politics must be awfully corrupt. That's why they say government should further regulate how Americans speak and spend their money.

Of course, it is only political speech that is to be curbed. Licentious speech, including profanity and sexual exhibitionism, enjoys unprecedented freedom. As Justice Clarence Thomas remarked in his dissenting opinion to last week's decision,


I remain baffled that this Court has extended the most generous First Amendment safeguards to filing lawsuits, wearing profane jackets, and exhibiting drive-in movies with nudity, but has offered only tepid protection to the core speech and associational rights that the Founders sought to defend.

So why all the excitement on Capitol Hill for campaign finance reform, when in the end it simply limits the most important kind of speech, political speech? And why is it that for all the sanctimonious talk about "getting special interests out of politics," no one mentions the interest that will benefit moshilosophy that swept across America a century ago. Regulating how Americans participate in politics is just one of its legacies.

The brainchild of Darwinian thinkers and political leaders such as Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, John Dewey, and Herbert Croly, Progressivism sought to replace limited, constitutional government by consent with unlimited, bureaucratic government. Government-by-bureaucratic-fiat was regarded as an innovative government reform, because professional bureaucrats would be impartial in doling out justice. Unlike elected, partisan officials, professional bureaucrats would not be beholden to "special interests," or corrupted by money in politics. Sound familiar?

The one thing that has stood in the way of Progressive politics is the United States Constitution. The American Founders understood that, historically, governments more often than not have been the usurper of liberties. Thus they believed it important to protect individual rights by explicitly limiting the power of government in a written constitution.

For the Progressives, however, this is a problem. Limited government can neither regulate our lives nor redistribute our wealth in the name of "social justice." As Woodrow Wilson put it, the American Constitution is little more than "political witchcraft" from the past, and ought to be discarded so that we can get on with the Progressive project of building a "national state."

Progressivism made great strides with the stewardship of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. The New Deal and the Great Society were the means of enacting — and enshrining — many of the regulatory schemes that Wilson and the original Progressives only dreamed of.

Naturally, as government increasingly regulates how Americans do their business, Americans want to influence those regulations. And there is the rub.

Citizens respond to the over-regulation of Progressive government by speaking out and spending money to influence Progressive politics. Government, in turn, now says it needs to restrict how Americans engage in politics, further regulating our lives, because there is too much money in politics. But would all this money be spent on politics if government did not regulate and control so much of our lives?

It's no coincidence that every major campaign reform law in American history has followed a surge in the growth of government regulation. The Tillman Act of 1907 followed the Progressive Movement; the Hatch Act of 1939 followed the New Deal; and the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, and the 1974 FECA amendments — the most sweeping attempt yet to implement government control over campaign finance — followed the Great Society.

And so the Progressive cycle continues.

In the end, campaign finance reform is nothing more than a cover for increasing the size and scope of the federal government, a government that already exercises too much unconstitutional power over its citizens. Whether "reformers" identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans is unimportant.

They are above all Progressives, and they are enemies of what is left of constitutional government in America.

Posted by: Robert Light at April 12, 2003 11:40 PM

"Does Robert's Opus Dei ex-boss wear a hair-shirt or one of those barbed-wire garters?"

I never got that "close" to him; he actually kinda' gave me the creeps.

In my last post I had written: "(But like most Epicureans of leftist/radical proclivities you expressed noticeable impatience for thinking and I like all good Epicureans you're more interested only in making)." Correction, this should read "...impatience for thinking and like all good Epicureans." I simply don't care for Epicureanism (see especially Cicero's shelacking of it in De Finibus -- ah, but Herr Buermann, as he implies on his website, presides over such superior brilliance to anyone having written in ages long past. Another sad victim of radical historicism, which cheapens not only another's era but also one's own).

Posted by: Robert Light at April 12, 2003 11:56 PM

"Buermann, what don't YOU understand?"

I understand that the McCain-Feingold act - to actually discuss something specific - restricts all parties equally, etc. etc., and much of it I don't support. The restrictions on campaigning and TV ads vs. public financing of campaigns are two separate ideas, you seem to be confusing them.

In the attacks on a vague "ideological ediface" you're just veering of into a debate about something that really doesn't exist, the ACLU self-describes as "progressive" and opposed McCain-Feingold's "progressive" legislation. Attacking a broad political idea from whatever brand of historicism you happen to subscribe to isn't terribly useful outside the realm of writing pre-fab term papers, and in the process the baby is thrown out with the bath water. To wit:

"public financing of campaigns -- it effectively abolishes the right of citizens to form whatever interest groups they feel most affect their 'safety and happiness.'"

Publically financing campaigns by itself doesn't restrict the speech of citizen groups, restricting the speech of citizen groups restricts the speech of citizen groups. Making some effort to differentiate between money from voters and money from corporations would also be useful.

"You have a lot to gain by reading it."

Yes, 'Obviously, you haven't read somebody else's monograph on the subject, and I'm incapable of expressing their ideas without the extensive quoting of their material in a round about fashion irrespective of much of the material's relevance to the discussion.' Etc etc.

"Many people -- myself included -- think the right to own and bear arms is protected by the Constitution and that this right should continue to be protected."

That makes two of us, but I don't particularly think that the gun-abolition lobby or the gun-nut lobby should be spending their time stroking my congresspersons. If they've got a case to make they can make it to voters, who can then badger their representatives the old fashioned way.

"opinion that campaign finance reform -- public financing of campaigns -- is a good idea"

The 1971 act wasn't about publically financing elections, it was about restricting big donors, two separate issues that are only tied together by the question of how you replace the funds from capital interests with funds from citizen interests. And obviously niether that nor McCain-Feingold really put serious restrictions on 'soft money', and the restrictions on campaign ads in broadcast media have little to do with either.

"And you have no familiarity with the ideological edifice behind progressivism, which is, very simply, the animus behind McCain, Huffington, and sundry others (progressivism has a long history on the Republican side as well, you'll be surprised to know -- noticeably Teddy Roosevelt whom Herbert Croly, himself a Rebublican, mentored)."

I'm well aware of this, and far be it from me to accuse you of being unaware of why early progressives looked to government as the answer to the problems of their time, as you're presumably familiar with Roosevelt's comments on the matter:

"The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man's making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being."



"like most Epicureans of leftist/radical proclivities you expressed noticeable impatience for thinking"

My hedonism and my politics are largely seperate, thank you, and certainly doesn't render me impatient with thinking. I do get impatient with people who get into histrionics about their own over-generalizations of other people's thinking, which itself belies an impatience with thinking, as does the extensive quoting of whole paragraphs of other people's thinking to argue points against other peoples' thinking.

"Well, I'm actually more concerned about the chief issue, allowing citizens to spend their money on political speech how they see fit"

Differentiating between the breathing citizen and the corporate citizen would be a good place to start a discussion on this.

"CFR as invisioned by the likes of McCainiacs and the Huffingtons is ultimately an assault on our freedom of association"

The CFR being implemented is partial and incomplete, and includes policy that deals with serious problems by brute force, yes, but you are attacking one part of a program as though it represented its entirety (unless you actually have a logical argument for how advertising vouchers in broadcast media would 'restrict speech'), thus statements like this, which don't address the actual vision of "McCainiacs and the Huffingtons" in any logical manner but confound separate policies, have little substance.

"First, money equals corruption. Second, because there is an awful lot of money in politics today, our politics must be awfully corrupt."

Our political bodies being dependent upon the partisan funds of commercial entities for their continued participation in government should be considered a source of corruption. The dramatically insane rise in the costs of running a campaign at all should also be considered detrimental to our political bodies. Putting ceilings on campaign expenditures while at the same time creating alternative and more efficient means to inform the public on their range of choice in elections isn't, in and of itself, an attack on the political freedoms of the individual voter. Levelling the floor for canidacies by muzzling all of them, the only brand of 'CFR' that has made ground with the incubent class in Washginton because they can sell it to voters as CFR while protecting their own asses, is the problem you're rightfully attacking in your otherwise blanket dismissal of CFR. So far as I can tell.

"Progressivism sought to replace limited, constitutional government by consent with unlimited, bureaucratic government."

As already pointed out the vaunted purpose has always been to regulate how capital participates in politics, their answer to big capital was big government, an option that demonstratably protected elites while at the same time demonstratably restricting some of their more excessive abuses by balancing big capital with big regulation, a process that duly gets run into the ground by the compromised position of government officials whose positions in government are tied to the interests of big capital. You're only attacking one side of the problem, and I'm assuming we more or less agree on the answer to the basic historical question of 'which came first'.

"regulates how Americans do their business"

Progressivism came along well after the time most Americans had ceased being independent producers and had entered lives of wage slavery, thus how "Americans do their business" had already ceased being something most Americans regulated.

"Herr Buermann, as he implies on his website, presides over such superior brilliance to anyone having written in ages long past."

Having no idea which implication you refer to I can't really offer much of an answer to this, but it does sound more like an impatience for others' thinking than an example of honest criticism.

Posted by: buermann at April 14, 2003 12:48 AM

Haven't you guys heard of email?

Posted by: Scott Wickstein at April 14, 2003 08:10 AM

Peter McWilliams had Arianna huffington pegged in his book 'Life 102: What to Do When Your guru Sues You.'

McWilliams was part of the John-roger cult at the same time as her and his analysis was that she was an opportunist of the first order. She would change her claimed beliefs at the drop of a hat if she it as a means to her ends.

Posted by: Eric Pobirs at April 14, 2003 01:44 PM

During her "driving SUVs is supporting terrorism" campaign, she was asked about the fact that she flies in gas-guzzling private jets. Her response: "I have ridden private planes. They're not planes that I own. They're planes that were going somewhere in any case."

Well as long as the plane is going somewhere, screw your principles.

Posted by: HH at April 15, 2003 06:47 AM

http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030415.asp#4

Posted by: HH at April 15, 2003 01:09 PM

Here's another one of Arianna's articles.

Enjoy!

Posted by: John K. at April 17, 2003 07:59 AM

People,
Thanks for the lesson in government, past and present. Enjoy knowledgeable dialogue, even if
I don't always agree with the premises. At least it reflects well on the few Americans who take
their country seriously.

Re: Huffington; found this site looking for
material to rebut her wily, banal attempts to
appear informed. She should not be mentioned in the same sentence with McCain or many others who have proven credentials; such comparisons only serve to give her traction. Her sexual exploits are not the point. How she uses sex, however, to
exploit her social/political ambitions, to me,
represents cynicism to the max and gives
we liberated women a bad name. It's the world's
oldest profession.

If she is indeed interested in changing
corrupted government and uplifting the timbre of
our society, let her start with a little house cleaning and honesty at home. Stripped of all
the baggage described in her bio above, she is
still a puff piece and hardly in an intellectual
position to lecture we Americans regarding our
politics or state of governance.

Marilyn Frith

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corrupted government and uplifting the timbre of
our society, let her start with a little house cleaning and honesty at home. Stripped of all
the baggage described in her bio above, she is
still a puff piece and hardly in an intellectual
position to lecture we Americans regarding our
politics or state of governance.

Marilyn Frith

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