Republican Party

The Eternal Recurrence of Bush Conservatism

Can "conservatarians" save the GOP from itself?

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On page 31 of his popular The Conservatarian Manifesto, Charles C.W. Cooke makes a statement so satisfyingly true that I have ripped it off a half-dozen times on television.

"When was the last time you heard an aspiring conservative politician say, 'As George Bush said…' or 'I'm a George W. Bush conservative'?" asks Cooke, a witty political writer for National Review. "The mere thought is preposterous."

As Cooke notes, "During the Bush administration's turbulent eight years, the Republican Party steadily ruined its reputation, damaging the public conception of conservatism in the process. Republicans spent too much, subsidized too much, spied too much, and controlled too much." And yet here we are in spring 2015 and the top of the GOP presidential polls is haunted yet again by the most persistent four-letter word in American politics.

The noble aim of The Conservatarian Manifesto is to replace the big-government, interventionist, tax-cut-and-spend philosophy of Bush conservatism with something that leans more libertarian, particularly on spending (including on defense), drugs, nation building, and crony capitalism. So far, so great.

But political manifestos with catchy names tend to imply calls for group action and team spirit. If libertarians are going to attach themselves to a group of constitutional conservatives who reliably caucus Republican, those of us who are GOP skeptics must wonder: How can we trust that this bloc won't yet again yield to the temptations of Bushism?

I put that question to Cooke at a book talk he gave in March, and his answer was atypically unsatisfying: Basically, we have a two-party system, and Republican electoral politics are never going to be designed to please cranky libertarians. Sorry! In a Reason TV interview with Nick Gillespie the next week (see "Conservatarians Rising?," page 13), Cooke gave a more positive and generational answer to a similar question, suggesting that the new injection of libertarian energy on the broad right is significant enough to outlast the opportunism of the political moment.

Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review
Charles C.W. Cooke

It would be pretty to think so, and there are some reasons for optimism on that score. A majority of self-identified Republican supporters under the age of 50 are in favor of legalizing marijuana, for example, and more than half of those under 45 are also in favor of gay marriage. Regardless of age, the political right in the age of Obama has produced the most interesting major-party push for limited government in a generation, coughing up entire categories of politicians—Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.), Sen. Mike Lee (R–Utah), Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.), and Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.), among others—that just didn't exist prior to the Tea Party wave election of 2010.

Three of the upper-tier candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination (Paul, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas) ran against the party establishment in their first primary elections, and they all won by emphasizing a much more robust vision of restraining government. (For snapshots of the government-cutting records of 17 major-party candidates, see "Can They Stop Themselves?") All three participated in Paul's March 2013 filibuster when the Obama administration refused to say whether it felt it had the legal authority to drone U.S. citizens on American soil. And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is gaining traction within the party largely by running on his record as a fiscal conservative during a challenging post-recessionary period. (Read Senior Editor Peter Suderman's profile of Walker, "The Did-Something Candidate")

More importantly, broadly libertarian trends far outside the halls of power are producing such long-overdue developments as forcing meaningful criminal justice reform closer to the top of the nation's to-do list.

So you don't need to squint your eyes to see a salutary conservatarianism wafting over the land. But sadly, it doesn't take a pessimist to view that particular glass as not just half-empty, but potentially poisoned.

The 2016 Republican field, outside of Rand Paul, are not just hawks, they're hawk's hawks. Cooke, in his foreign policy chapter, defends America's role as the world's indispensable nation, but cautions against promiscuous war making and builds a withering case against the metaphorical no-fly zone that is the typical Republican approach toward scrutinizing military budgets. "Unfortunately, the military is blighted by the unholy combination of almost endless resources and a systemic culture of waste," he writes. "Conservatives should recognize that indulging this behavior damages their credibility as the champions of efficiency and good government, and undermines their military goals."

But Marco Rubio is running on a platform that foregrounds a reversal of what he describes as "devastating cuts to our military." Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says National Security Administration surveillance has been "the best part of the Obama administration." Scott Walker is campaigning on pre-emptive war: "I am going to take the fight to them before they bring the fight to us." An entire AAA team of presidential contenders focused on foreign policy—former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, perhaps even the blowhard Rep. Peter King (R–N.Y.)—has arisen with the singular goal of derailing the one candidate in the field who questions their assumptions, Rand Paul.

And as Senior Editor Brian Doherty reports ("Rand Paul's Strategic Ambiguity"), there are many libertarians and anti-interventionists who have expressed anxiety that the Kentucky senator will be whipsawed by the primary process into a more interventionist direction.

And sadly, it's not just on military matters that the 2015 GOP has drifted statist even since 2013. In March, the newly Republican-controlled Senate passed a budget that blew through the sequestration caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, in part by using an off-budget Overseas Contingency Operations mechanism to goose military spending. The only GOP senators to vote nay were Paul and Cruz.

Remember the 2011–13 fights over raising the debt ceiling, which led to some actually serious conversations about long-term entitlement reform and cutting defense? Those were artifacts of opposition; now that Republicans hold both branches, "We'll figure some way to handle that" without brinksmanship, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell assured the nation in March.

And as this issue of the magazine was heading to the printer, McConnell was trying to ram through a blanket five-year reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. Why, it's almost as if libertarianism is more politically useful when you're not in power!

Cooke is engaged in a longer-term project of helping the GOP recognize that its own philosophical traditions actually contain the wisest approach toward many of its most bedeviling issues. Namely, he calls for a renewed embrace of federalism.

"Federalism allows the secular hipsters of Portland and the devout Baptists of the Bible Belt to live as they wish, providing a framework in which neither feels threatened by the other, and in which those who are unhappy with the culture of either place may move to more appropriate climes without losing the protections of their flag," he observes. "Federalism allows Americans to say that if the residents of other states wish to smoke pot, 'so be it'; if they want higher taxes, 'so be it'; if they want to allow people to drink at 18, or to marry members of the same sex, or to carry loaded guns on their hips, or to drive at 75 miles per hour instead of 55, then 'so be it.'"

In Cooke's telling, the GOP set itself adrift when it "abandoned its core principle of federalism" under George W. Bush. "In those eight years," he writes, "Republicans passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and a federal takeover of education called No Child Left Behind, and the Bush administration authorized raids against patients who were using marijuana for medicinal reasons. As many of them do now, Republicans frequently called for a federal constitutional amendment against gay marriage…Meanwhile, apparently erstwhile defenders of federalism were happy to intervene in Florida to try to save the life of Terri Schiavo."

Libertarians will be nodding along vigorously to passages like that, even while wincing over the fact that the man who was Florida governor during the Schiavo mess is out there defending his record while amassing the party's biggest presidential war chest. But the best part of The Conservatarian Manifesto is not the bill of particulars against the Bush GOP, no matter how satisfying to some of us, but rather its full-throated explication and celebration of federalism as an organizing principle.

"Explaining happily that there is a strong federal role to play in the maintenance of essential liberties, but that Washington cannot be expected to effectively play a role much greater than that of referee, is the defining conservative challenge of the twenty-first century," he writes. "Ultimately, the instinct to fragment and return power is a liberating and an empowering one. It's time to make more use of it."

But before the states' rights crowd starts popping champagne corks, here's a cautionary tale: Ten years ago, there was a major American political bloc that began flirting heavily with federalism to solve both policy problems and ballot-box woes. It was called the Democratic Party.

In the wake of George W. Bush's convincing re-election, Paul Glastris, editor of the liberal Washington Monthly, wrote, "Why shouldn't the Democrats become the party of federalism?" On gay marriage, marijuana, even environmental regulation, progressives were getting in touch with their inner decentralist. Franklin Foer, then a senior editor of The New Republic, wrote a New York Times magazine feature in March 2005 titled "The Joy of Federalism."

Some Democrats then, as hard as it is to believe now, were even openly contemplating an embrace of the L-word. Generous liberal re-examinations of Barry Goldwater were populating the airwaves and bookshelves, progressive sites such as The Daily Kos were publishing "left-libertarian" manifestos, and lonely Democratic eyes began turning for the rougher-hewn philosophical pastures of the purple-state Mountain West.

We know how that story turned out, at least when translated into short-term two-party politics. Democrats tacked hard to the economic left, and their civil libertarian grassroots largely fell silent as President Barack Obama systematically abandoned much of what made him tentatively promising as a constitutionally cognizant candidate.

Is there reason to expect better from Republicans this time around? Who knows! Our job here at Reason, both in the print magazine and at reason.com, will be to give readers the tools to judge for themselves whether individual candidates, larger voting blocs, and even entire political parties will be worth a damn should they find themselves anywhere near the levers of power. It will not suffice to claim, as Mitt Romney did in 2012, that one's government-cutting bona fides can be demonstrated by supporting a balanced budget amendment. No: At a time when the federal government's debt service is poised to catch up with military spending within a handful of years (even in this artificially-low-interest-rate environment), the test is not what purely hypothetical parliamentary gimmick you might support, but what you're willing to cut right now.

Don't tell that to Jeb Bush, though. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, the would-be 45th president underlined that "Over time, we have to start being for things again." That scrambling noise was the sound of millions of taxpayers reaching for their wallets.

Which is partly why, much as I appreciate The Conservatarian Manifesto and root openly for its arguments to convince the GOP, I am ultimately not the target audience. It's not just because of Cooke's critique of libertarianism ("it can become unreasonably ideological and unmoored from reality"), but also because of his pre-philosophical urge to cobble large groups of political people together in the first place.

There can be great value in the reformation of major political blocs, and I for one have cheered lustily when the Tea Party has pushed the GOP in much more libertarian directions on various issues, including non-obvious ones like criminal justice. But as F.A. Hayek taught us (and Cooke approvingly cites), there is no one true way to produce positive change. Much, though certainly not all, of the best work comes outside the scope of traditional politics, among people happily unmoored from the reality of national elections.

So here's rooting for everyone—Republican or Democrat, politician or activist—to achieve more libertarian-flavored improvements to the government policies that keep us all down. Hopefully next time without a President Bush.

NEXT: Brickbat: TMI

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  1. Can “conservatarians” save the GOP from itself?

    No, but thanks for playing, Charles CW. Love ya, babe. “So be it.”

    Also

    DON’T TALK ABOUT THE WAR!

    1. Which war? War of Jenkins’ Ear? Utah War? The Pig War?

      1. Cattle raid of Cooley.

  2. the new injection of libertarian energy on the broad right is significant enough to outlast the opportunism of the political moment.

    Opportunism is eternal, idealism dies a rapid death.

  3. All nice. but in lieu of what’s happened – Stonecutters handshake – I think Americans need to deal with their little problem with freedom of speech.

    It’s, erm, problematic as it doesn’t jive with your prescribed philosophical rhetoric on liberty.

    You know, Jefferson, Madison et all. Then again, I’m beginning to believe John Adams was right that the experiment was already dead in his lifetime.

    1. *gives Rufus a furtive handshake…looks around nervously*

      Considering all the shit that is going down here, I don’t think Imma be posting much these days… IF EVER AGAIN.

      Great loss, I know.

      1. *gives Rufus a furtive ha….

        BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM!

    2. *bites lip*

      GodDAMNit, I hate myself, but – Rufus – I think you want “in light of what’s happened”.

      Although many things in lieu of what’s happened would be preferable….

      Sorry.

      /Mister English Person Channeling Ted S.

      1. An example of the proper use of “in lieu of” would be the following:

        “In lieu of a crowd funding site to provide financial support for its embattled members, the H&R commentariat decided on selling t-shirts with images of wood chippers to raise sufficient funds.”

        1. I’ll take a large.

          Do they come in form-fitting low-cut numbers for beauties like my wife?

            1. I’ll take five shirts in “Fat Bastard”, I’ll need one for each workday of the week. They should be different colors so my co-workers don’t think I’ve started wearing the same shirt every day.

    3. Jefferson is verboten, with that threatening stuff about trees and manure.

    4. You mean jibe. But at least we get to keep the cannoli.

  4. “Stonecutters Handshake”

    You a stonecutter, Rufus? My good buddy in Windsor, ON is heavily into it. Shriner and all that. You?

    1. Maybe a Simpsons reference?

      1. Dunno – never watched the Simpsons (I KNOW! Right! True story)

        Thought maybe he’s a Mason. Cause if he is, we could use The Secret Handshake? and chant certain incantations,. invoking th….AHEM! *cough*

        I mean….nothing….

        1. So you don’t know the real number for 911?

      2. The Ancient Order of NO HOMERS.

        1. BIN-GO!!!

    2. Proud member since 1995.

    3. Who controls the British pound? Who keeps the metric system down?
      WE DO! WE DO!

  5. While I know what you’re saying, Rufus — I think — there’s a broader current against free speech that’s spreading up here as well. Surely you heard about the law in Granby?

    The whole trend has me scared. I’m re-reading Nineteen Eighty-Four right now, for the first time since the early 90’s, and it is hitting unbelievably close to home.

    1. We’re ahead of that curve indeed up here.

      America is the last hold out among Canada, Australia and those losers in the UK.

    2. Strangely enough, I first read 1984 in 1984.

    3. I’m re-reading Nineteen Eighty-Four … and it is hitting unbelievably close to home.

      Take a(nother) gander at The Road to Serfdom for even more amusement.

      1. I have.
        *shudders*

  6. A necessary condition for the Republican Party to adopt the constitutional conservatism/libertarianism principles described in this book is to unmoor the party from the grip of the Chamber of Crony Capitalism, i.e., the Chamber of Commerce.

  7. No. Team Be Ruled will lie like a sieve to get elected, then back to business as usual. Did Charlie Brown ever actually get to kick the football?

    1. There was that really dark Peanuts strip where he brained she-who-should-not-be-named with a tire iron and then kicked…

      1. I suppose that will be published the minute the Libertarian Moment ? arrives.

      2. *nervously awaits DoJ subpoena seeking UnCiv’s personally identifying information for espousing “true threats” to a female cartoon character*

  8. So, the furst full h&r post following Gillespie’s gag order is one critical of the GOP? Undoubtably just a coincidence, but one with kind of unfortunate implications (in the TV Tropes sense).

    1. I have a feeling that when the subpoena was issued, Matt, Nick, and the other writers on the site made a giant conga line around the office as they were thrilled government fiat was finally going to clean up the “distasteful” culture of the H’nR commentariat.

      1. I feel kind of guilty about it but this made me laugh

      2. I’m sure they were just happy that the government has acknowledged Reason’s existence.

  9. Sorry, Matt. Bushism IS the GOP and the Ron Paul types just want to be liked by them someday. There won’t be a reshaping.

    1. Ah, the dipshit chimes in….

      1. Yes, the Team Red Defense League is on duty this morning.

        GO TEAM RED GO!

        1. Another razor-sharp observation from the dipshit. I’m so fucking team red. Just like a junior John. Do you even READ any of the shit in the comments, or just figure that your little delusions are reality.
          God, you are a sad asshole….

          1. PB isn’t partisan, he’s a true libertarian who just happens to become fully tumescent whenever he thinks of the Great Soros (PBUH) lovingly rounding up Hungarian Jews for the Nazis.

            1. I suspect, although I cannot prove, that PB has a bad case of Zackley disease.

              (Zackley disease, when your head and your ass, look, smell, sound, and work “zackley” the same)

              There is no known cure for zackley disease. Generally both ends grow and consume the middle until the poor victim is all ass. PB appears to be an advanced case.

        2. I’m all in favor of TEAM RED GOING! FAR FAR AWAY!

  10. Oh, and Good Morning Peanuts!

    1. *cough* wood chipper! *cough*

      1. I bet PB does look like Steve Buscemi.

          1. Every one of that guy’s teeth is in business for itself…

            1. +12 veneers

          2. I bet PB is a cheap cunt who doesn’t tip, like Mr. Pink.

        1. ….in Mr. Deeds.

    2. Hey ButtPlug. Knock Knock.

    3. Bag of dicks, PB. Eat ’em up.

    4. Good morning to you, Tulpa!

    5. Finished your rock and roll book yet, scumbag?

  11. The biggest problem facing this country is that everyone wants to back a winner. People are willing to go on being either oblivious to actual policy or ignore those that aren’t in their own interest for the sake of identifying with and being a part of a winning team. The fucktards on both sides know this and so, with no third or fourth parties threatening them electorally, they have little incentive to change. Those that do threaten actual change from within the party get the heretic treatment (see Paul, Rand and the rhetorical gangbang he is being subjected to).

    1. I vote Libertarian as well.

  12. I blame Bush.

  13. “Over time, we have to start being for things again.”

    Do you mean like free stuff? Everyone is for free stuff – unless they are the one’s being asked forced to pay for it.

    How about being for the enumerated powers and unlimited freedoms enshrined in our founding documents? Hmmmmmm?

  14. I am for eliminating every single person having Prescott Bush DNA.

    Clearly the DNA is a carrier for destructive impulses that lead to the increasing desire for power, stolen money, and fascist rhetoric.

  15. As always, good article Matt.

    Sadly, Cooke is right when he complains that libertarians can be unreasonably ideological and detached from reality, as evidenced by their lack of acceptance of science…see climate change. Just because they fear that government must have a role in solving this problem, they would rather embrace conspiracy theory over science. It allows them to be ideologically pure…and also detached from reality.

    1. Sorry Jackass, but consensus is not science.

      1. So, since every single major science organization says climate change is primary man made and a danger, is this clear majority of science just wrong or are they all bought off and perpetrating fraud?

        Go ahead, as always you will prove Cooke’s point.

        1. When you define “major science organization” as “an organization that says climate change is real,” then of course they’re all going to say climate change is real.

          1. National Academy of Science, American Geophysical Union, American Physical Society, American Meteorogical Society, Royal Society, all of them.

            Are they all wrong, or bought off? You know you believe the latter. Admit it and prove Cooke correct.

            1. Consensus is not science, Jackass. I don’t know if they are right, wrong, bought off, or what, but I do know that consensus is not science. A bunch of scientists agreeing on something is not science. Calling anyone who disagrees with the consensus a “denier” is not science. Heaping mockery and ridicule on anyone who disagrees with the consensus is not science. Consensus is a tool of politics, not science. Deriding anyone who goes against the consensus is what happens in politics, not science. They may truly believe that they are right, and that’s fine. They might even actually be right. I don’t know. But scientific fact is not something that is determined by a vote. That’s politics. Science is a method of open inquiry and repeatable experimentation, neither of which exist in the field of climate “science.” So it’s not science. It’s politics.

              1. Consensus isn’t science. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one. And there is a large one. That’s a fact. So believe what you want.

                1. A couple generations ago some dude took the scientific consensus of the day to its logical conclusion.

                  Do you know who I’m talking about?

                  I’ll give you a couple clues.

                  The scientific consensus of the day was that certain inferior people should be eliminated from the gene pool for the good of humanity, and the guy who took it to its logical conclusion had a funny mustache.

                  1. Brother. Cooke really nailed it. The inevitable comparison of American Geophysical Union to Hitler. Yikes. You do know, I hope, that the guy who first invokes the Hitler comparison loses? Enjoy your day

                    1. The inevitable comparison of American Geophysical Union to Hitler.

                      Um, no. Hitler was the politician who acted on the scientific consensus. No one has taken today’s scientific consensus to its logical conclusion, so there’s no one to compare to Hitler. Yet.

                      Now if some politician today were to take the current scientific consensus to its logical conclusion, and enforce a worldwide ban on the use of any fossil fuels, that politician would be responsible for more death than you can imagine.

                      But isn’t that what the environmental movement is all about? Substantially reducing the unsustainable growth of the human population on the planet?

                      But whatever. Run away like a little bitch. Run, Jackass! Run!

                    2. Sarcasmic – Jackass on climate change is like a dog with a chew toy, and when you respond to him you just make him want to pull on his toy even harder. Like annoying dogs or misbehaving children, he is best ignored.

                    3. I enjoy making him look like the ass that he is.

                    4. Yeah, but he does the lion’s share of that work himself. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he have some pretty epic anti-science derp on a GMO thread awhile ago? I might be thinking of someone else here…

        2. So you are all for privately funded geoengineering projects, the use of GMO’s and free market solutions to run-away climate change. Good for you Jack.

          1. Actually, I am for market solutions. First step is admitting what science tells you…do you?

            1. That’s good. Now you can start to actually state what free market solutions you endorse instead of just tossing around ad hom’s.

              1. Easy…a true price on carbon, and we would be on our way.

                1. I don’t see carbon taxes/subsidies as free market solution. Taxes are a government solution.

                  1. The market doesn’t reflect the cost of carbon. Tis you who wants a fantasy market.

                    1. I’ll tell you what Jack come back and talk to me once you have done some homework. Your posts really don’t have much to say on the subject, and I’m not going to waste my time on you until they do.

                    2. Outside of the improvement, I won’t ever notice the difference. Now that was an insult! Credit to Groucho Marx.

                    3. Co2 has been a net benefit to crop yields and overall biomass, so the cost is negative. Pay up, dumbass.

        3. You might want to look at the “Heath Monkey Study” to find out what kind of science the government can get when it is paying for it.

          1. Here we are! The libertarian conspiracy theorists arrive, and prove Cooke correct. Didn’t take long, did it?

            1. And now we are back to the insults.

              1. Please, Jp. Go back and look at all the names I have been called, including from you. Conspiracy theorist is not name calling at least not here. Jesse Walker writes articles about it all the time. Don’t be so defensive when you have cast the first stone.

                1. Knock Knock Jack.

            2. What EXPERIMENTS have been run to prove man-made global warming? I understand that the observable data shows the planet is slightly warmer today than a decade or so ago, but as far as I know, we haven’t proven causation, and we haven’t proven that the trend will continue. Computer models aren’t proof. A bunch of science organizations saying it is true isn’t proof.

              I remember when I was an elementary school kid getting warned the danger of global cooling and there was fear mongering about a new ice age.

              1. I remember when I was an elementary school kid getting warned the danger of global cooling and there was fear mongering about a new ice age.

                I remember that as well. And the prescription for fixing it was exactly the same as the prescription for saving the planet from global warming: Total government control over everything.

                1. You don’t fucking remember that because it never happened. You let right-wing memes become your thoughts, and even your memories, instead of actually thinking and reading. Stop being such a sad tribal moron. You can’t deny scientific fact forever and hang onto your dignity. Please, for your own sake, stop being such a fucking idiot.

              2. I remember when I was an elementary school kid getting warned the danger of global cooling and there was fear mongering about a new ice age.

                No you don’t.

                There was one article about this that the author has since recanted, but which right-wing denier interests have been beating a dead horse about for years. Probably even more than the nonexistent “hiatus.”

                Grasping at straws is not science either.

                1. Which is it? It didn’t happen and my memories are just “right-wing memes” or there was an article that was later retracted? Just because an article gets retracted doesn’t mean that it didn’t get published or there was popular news about the article.

                  It sounds like you’re trying to whitewash history.

                  Link me to one article that uses a repeatable experiment (you know the scientific method) to prove man-made global warming.

                  1. Broken – this is akin to the young earth creationists asking for people to ‘prove’ evolution. Do you only believe things you can prove in a laboratory? No use for hypotheses and corresponding field evidence? Pangea? Missoula flood? All hippy bs

        4. Organiz’ns are bull shit. Everyone in any field with an organiz’n that they more or less have to deal w knows this. The organiz’n people are not a true represent’n of what they claim to represent, because of the motiv’ns of people to be organiz’n people. The AMA is not doctors. The Teamsters is not truck drivers. The NAS is not scientists.

      2. Thomas Kuhn would likely disagree.

    2. Plant Food Up. Global temperatures not so much. SCIENCE!!11!!

    3. You are aware that phlogiston was once the consensus. As was Piltdown man.

      1. Thus every scientific consensus is always false. Or is it just the ones you don’t personally like?

        1. Consensus is not science. That statement does not question the validity of the consensus. It just means that it’s not science. The consensus could be correct. Or it could be incorrect. But it’s not science. Scientists taking a vote is not science. It’s consensus. They could be right. They could be wrong. But when they vote they’re not engaging in science. They’re engaging in politics.

          1. Nu-Uh Sarc. It’s political SCIENCE. See right there in the name.

            /Tony derp

          2. They’re not voting–they’re all coming to similar conclusions.

            1. No they are not Tony.

              http://www.climatedepot.com/20…..l-warming/

              1. Tony. You do not even keep up on your own “Leaders” opinions.

                You are a fraud.

                1. This is from your side of the debate.

        2. Tony – while your posts are often disingenuous in my opinion – they usually stir a lot of discussion and I find the responses to be fairly enlightening: often people giving you the ‘sevo’ response “something something shithead”. This is rather than just ignoring you or actually engaging in anything – which seems to highlight that they are either lazy or just don’t have a good counterargument.

          However on this topic it’s far worse – yourself and jackace are actually making entirely Reasonable (drinky sir) comments and receiving knee jerk responses that are based on the possible policy outcomes. Isn’t it possible to have a discussion on the two separately? If global warming truly is occurring – we’re going to need innovations and a deeper understanding so we can engineer solutions – that is really going to be the effective counter to the government power grabbers.

          1. Quokka the kid. They get the Sevo treatment because they are trolls, and bad ones at that. It does not matter how many times you utterly destroy their arguments, or what information you provide to them. They will always come back with the some old tired arguments.

          2. Yea, I wonder who is behind that account…

            If Tony repeating the same thing he’s said in hundreds of comment sections (merely that there is some consensus) is a reasoned argument, you either haven’t been reading this place that long or you are completely full of shit.

            There have been countless global warming arguments with Tony. His responses consist of repeating one of several lines over and over.

          3. Fuck off, Tulpa.

            1. Ha – dark you really gotta get your meter in for service – false detects left and right

              Look – all I’m noting here is that jack and tony are – at a distilled level -asking about the science of this itself – divorced from the policy aspects. That’s an entirely reasonable thing to discuss and an important thing. Whether or not they actually want to discuss it or are just being trolls is another question…..

              Just think about how insanely complicated climate modelling is… You take many measurement s which all have errors associated with them, have to account for nearly infinite relationships – many of which we probably don’t understand yet or have a model for – this is all on a scale where resolution is important, and then calculate very small changes in temperature. Disengaging from the science on this – saying they are all hacks etc – is the wrong approach.

              1. Sarc not dark….. It’s hard to type with these quadruped digits….

                1. It’s pretty obvious this is a troll account.

                  Tony has been given detailed responses in the past on the actual science, and his only response ever is so all of the scientists are wrong. And if you have really been around here long enough, and weren’t just looking to stir up shit, you would know that.These aren’t new arguments, and there is nothing reasoned about what Tony posted.

                  There is nothing scientific about what tony posted. Tony NEVER actually argues the particulars of the science because Tony knows jack shit about the science. What Tony knows is that people who agree with his politics tell him science is settled on the matter, and the only possible solution is top men in government. And he rarely even gets into the particulars of that aspect, either. The science is settled, so the only solution he can conceive of is giving government more power. Which is the same damn solution he has to everything under the sun.

                  1. Brochetta – not a troll account. I’ve been a lurker for a long time – I generally really enjoy the humour and the insights that a lot of the posters here have (guys who know about law, guys who are tetchy programmers, guys who know about military equipment, etc) and I learn.

                    But one thing that annoys me is once someone is labelled a troll the level of thought in the responses drop to fecal zone 5 – regardless of what the person (evil robot? Sentient cat?) actually posted.

              2. Just think about how insanely complicated climate modelling is…

                I have. I do software for a living. From that perspective I’ve got one word to describe the models: bullshit.

                1. Ah well that wraps things up for me. Some guy who does ‘software’ says something is bullshit for unspecified reasons.

                  are you trying to say that they are too simplistic? That they use incorrect feedback relationships between certain elements? That they don’t include certain inputs?

                  1. You could start with every prediction they have made with the models has been wrong. Or, to put it more bluntly, if they had correctly weighted the impact of Co2 as they tell us, there would have been more warming (as they predicted).

                    A model that can’t predict anything has been falsified. Yet even when predictions are wrong, they double down. You disingenuous cunt.

                    1. That’s entirely the point – at a very basic level – you don’t have to understand the guts of the model to know it if is effective – just look at predictions.

                      However – are you then saying that increased co2 levels don’t impact planetary temperatures and/or they haven’t risen dramatically? There’s a good body of evidence that would refute that.

                      My opinion is that they models are still a work in progress – which makes sense to me given that they are so complex – we should push to understand them and have them be open to review and inspection – we shouldn’t just say that they are predicting these vary small changes correctly so therefore there is nothing to worry about. There’s lot of very good ice core data that I find to be relatively compelling.

                  2. are you trying to say that they are too simplistic? That they use incorrect feedback relationships between certain elements? That they don’t include certain inputs?

                    Yes.

                    The thing about computer models, or any software for that matter, is that you have to totally understand what it is you want the program to emulate. Writing computer models for something like, I dunno, artillery trajectories, is pretty straight forward. You factor in initial velocity, weight of the projectile, drag, gravity, (did I miss anything?) and the software can predict where it goes boom. You understand how it works, so you can model it.

                    The climate is not that well understood. You can’t model something unless you have a total and complete understanding of how it works.

                    If you do not have a total and complete understanding of what you are modeling, then the results will be nothing but bullshit.

                    1. That’s not true at all. I work with engineering models all the time. It’s standard practice to neglect things that have minor impacts on the system you are trying to model. Futher – maybe of the major drivers within a system might only be modelled empirically as we don’t have a true theoretical understanding of them. This is where further study, calibration, etc come into play. We don’t fully understand anything – hate to break it to you.

                    2. Comparing something that people engineer to the climate is idiotic.

                    3. So, you work with models where there are things discounted that have minor or negligible effects. How do you know they are negligible and not needed? Real world results. You know, what’s entirely lacking in climate change where the model in question is infinitely more complex.

                      I like you completely jumped from this point to the whole question of whether Co2 is a greenhouse gas at all. And the only actual real world result you kind of elude to is ‘ice core data.’ Their predictions aren’t just a little off – they have been completely wrong. So, how about you actually tell us what the real world predictions or results that you find convincing. So there can be an actual argument on the science, as you claim you want.

                      And they’ve said multiple times that we have passed imaginary and arbitrary thresholds of no return. Every time we miss a deadline to meet their demands, they set a new deadline. Yea, science alright…

                      we shouldn’t just say that they are predicting these vary small changes correctly so therefore there is nothing to worry about

                      No, apparently we should pump trillions of dollars just in case, though…

                    4. I’ve never advocated pumping trillions of dollars or increasing government control. And I do understand the thinking that this field of science is in line with the desires or profs to protect Gaia and control how others live.

                      Yes – calibration and/or study of small segments of a system are how you learn about what is negligible and what is not. That’s a necessary part of building any model – no matter how complicated or simple. Modelling 101 is to start with as simple of a model as possible and then add additional components.

                      Nothing idiotic about comparing an engineering model to a climate model. I suppose you know that though or else you’d have said something actually meaningful. The level of complexity of the climate clearly makes the model much harder to develop and calibrate but the same principles apply to both.

                    5. I won’t claim to be any expert on climate modelling or corollary evidence. Part of my point in commenting was the hope that we could have this sort of discussion where we could learn rather that the useless ‘shithead’ responses. There are errors associated with historic temperature estimates (tree ring measurements) etc that are pretty significant in comparison to the temperature ranges we are talking about. However there appears to be a very strong colleration between co2 levels and temperature from Antarctic core data and there’s a pretty large data set (fair number of deep cores). We also know that co2 has greenhouse gas properties and can move impact the levels of water vapour – which is even more significant. The fact that we have assholes in government and models that aren’t predictive doesn’t change any of that.

                    6. I’ve never advocated pumping trillions of dollars or increasing government control. And I do understand the thinking that this field of science is in line with the desires or profs to protect Gaia and control how others live.

                      Yes – calibration and/or study of small segments of a system are how you learn about what is negligible and what is not. That’s a necessary part of building any model – no matter how complicated or simple. Modelling 101 is to start with as simple of a model as possible and then add additional components.

                      Nothing idiotic about comparing an engineering model to a climate model. I suppose you know that though or else you’d have said something actually meaningful. The level of complexity of the climate clearly makes the model much harder to develop and calibrate but the same principles apply to both.

        3. No. It just means that because some scientists agree on something, that we shouldn’t massively altar the entire fucking world’s economy on a bunch of government panzi schemes that all happen to coincidentally align with the progressive left’s vision of what a government should be doing regardless…

          1. Honestly this is what I object to. If they were into science they would be into current technological events. With Tony it’s always about politics, never about technological innovations.

      2. Well how the fuck else do things catch on fire? And also, magnets. Fucking miracles.

  16. The author appears to equate “constitutional conservatism” with Libertarianism, which is nonsense.

    Bush was conservative in all aspects other than spending too much (“compassionate conservatism”). While a few paleocons such as Buchanan are in favor of ignoring the outside world, historically conservatism in the US is not isolationist. LIkewise, conservatism has long beenfor law and order. Finally, the “spying” was primarily aimed at foreign threats, which is very consistent with the non-isolationist conservatism, and also, since it was largely held to be Constitutional, is consistent with constitutional conservatism – even if Libertarians don’t like it because of their overly absolutist view of the 4th Amendment.

  17. “Bush was conservative in all aspects other than spending too much (“compassionate conservatism”).”

    Mr. Moore. I think the term that is currently being tossed around is “Progressive Republican”

    Considering Bush the younger’s spending habits with other peoples money, it is nit totally innacurate

  18. Without repealing the 16th and 17th amendments the Federal government is only going to continue to acquire more power over the States and the people, further reducing and limiting their respective freedoms and liberty while increasing the indebtedness of all. We have become a collectivist ruled people where rights recognized to be inalienable by the Federal government are a result of the sum total of voting blocs they are able to accumulate by those who aspire to rule in our ‘best interests’ collectively. Freedom continues to exist only as a state of mind, while taking the liberty to exercise ones freedom can result in condemnation, arrest, or worse.

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  21. Libertarianism and Evangelicalism will NEVER exist in the same political party. “Bush conservatism” tried like hell to combine the two and we see how that turned out. Fighting the Wars on Women, Gays and Drugs has destroyed the GOP in the last 50 years.

    Let the religious right with their mind-everybody-else’s-business belief system have their GOP so they can continue fighting the social wars, and let the people who truly believe in personal freedom, the constitution and fiscal conservatism exist in the Libertarian Party. May the two never meet.

    “Conservatarian” is nothing but a ripoff! (I swear, sometimes I think Reason is nothing but a tool for the Bush machine.)

  22. Isn’t George W Bush the one who advertised himself as the “compassionate conservative” ?

    Implying all other conservatives weren’t ?

    I knew right then and there he was a moderate at best.

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