The Running With Scissors Party

A good conservatism is a boring conservatism. That’s not what we have right now.

Dear Reader (Including those of you who got in early on the dogecoin craze),

Why aren’t Jews a lot richer?

That’s what I would wonder if I were one of these people convinced that the Joooooooz run everything.

A couple years ago we had this headline in the Washington Post:

“D.C. lawmaker says recent snowfall caused by ‘Rothschilds controlling the climate” 

In a Facebook video DC councilman Trayon White, declared, “Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation….And D.C. keep talking about, ‘We a resilient city.’ And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”

Then, of course, there’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, the newly minted Georgia congresswoman who, admittedly, is more than a few fries shy of a Happy Meal. In a 2018 Facebook post she floated the theory that a space-based laser owned by PG&E started the wildfires plaguing California at the time. A close textual analysis of the post suggests she doesn’t explicitly claim that the Jews were responsible. Just that they might have been investors or something, given that the vice chairman of PG&E’s board was Roger Kimmel of “Rothschild Inc, international investment banking firm.”

That’s just like those crafty Hebrews. They don’t want to do the real manly work required to make orbital death rays, but they’ll be happy to skim the profits to pay for their genetically modified ferret-gibbon hybrids and their homemade seltzer machines.

Which brings me back to my question: Why aren’t the Jews richer? Seriously? If the Jews can control the weather, destroy cities, shoot lasers from outer space—never mind make a nice sandwich, a nice sandwich—what exactly can’t they do? For starters, why is Israel still half desert? If you can make it rain benjamins by controlling the weather, presumably you can make it rain, well, rain on Israel.

Maybe it’s not the Jews, just some Jews, as Louis Farrakhan likes to say. After all, most of these theories single out the Rothschilds. And while that name has always been a handy shorthand for Jews qua Jews, it’s not outlandish to believe that these people really think it’s just one Jewish family raking the sky for filthy lucre. 

The thing is, I know a Rothschild. Nice guy. Smart guy. A few weeks ago, he offered to dog sit for me when I went on vacation. I don’t think he’d take offense if I said Dan doesn’t dress like he runs the world, unless faded brown corduroy sports jackets are the secret uniform of the bagel-snarfing cabal of international Jewry running the planet. (Had I known he lived in a palatial mansion, I might have taken him up on the dog-sitting, though I think Zoë wouldn’t get along with the ferret-gibbon hybrids.)

The two stupid parties.

John Stuart Mill famously called conservatives “the stupid party.” When John Pakington took offense, Mill clarified what he meant. “I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid,” Mill explained. “I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative.” About a century later, Irving Kristol entered the debate. He argued that “such a judgment need not be invidious or censorious. Conservative ‘stupidity,’ properly understood, is intimately connected with sentiments that are at the root of conservative virtues—e.g., a dogged loyalty to a traditional way of life, an instinctive aversion to innovation based on mere theoretical speculation, a sense of having a fiduciary relation to the whole nation, past, present and future.” He continued:

There is always a kind of immunity to fashionable political ideas which is associated with conservatism, and a country that does not have a goodly portion of it is incapable of stable and orderly government. No political or social system can endure without engendering, in a perfectly organic way, this kind of conservative "stupidity." It is the antibody of the body politic.

If stupidity is defined this way, I am happy to be part of the stupid party. I like the stupidity of “don’t just do something, sit there.” I like the stupidity of Calvin Coolidge, who said, "When you see 10 troubles rolling down the road, if you don't do anything, nine of them will roll into the ditch before they get to you." I like the stupidity of Abraham Lincoln, who said, “What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?”

This conservatism is inherently skeptical of new ideas, not because it is opposed to new ideas, but because as a simple matter of math, most new ideas are bad ideas. Every child is a new idea-spewing machine, and most of those ideas are going to be garbage. As a small child, I thought I could take a piece of heating coal I found on the street, put it on the stove, and then press down really hard on it with a fork to turn it into a diamond. That would’ve been a great idea if it worked. But most new ideas don’t work, so they aren’t great, as the man who thought he could win the Iditarod with a team of cats and basset hounds quickly learned.

Certain overeducated elites have an interest in making normal people feel stupid for not understanding what they’re talking about. For instance, here’s one of my favorite passages from Harvard’s Homi Bhabbha:

If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to "normalize" formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.

There are people who think you’re stupid for not understanding that. These are people who don’t understand that themselves, but want you to think they do because they want to be seen as belonging to the club. To give a more concrete example, it is quite fashionable today to say things like “men can get pregnant too.” If, when you hear this, you raise your hand and say, “I don’t get it,” like Tom Hanks in Big when the skyscraper-robots are being pitched, you are declaring yourself to be in this kind of stupid party.

I’m not with stupid.

Now, I am no branding genius, but even I know that flying the banner of “Stupidity” high and hoping to have the best people flock to your cause is not the brightest idea. “Boring,” however, works for me. “Grown up” works for me. I want politics to be boring. I want reforms to be boring, not because they aren’t necessary or important, but because successful reforms tend to not be very interesting.

“Measure twice, cut once” is the boring, grown-up way to do carpentry. The exciting way to do carpentry is to get drunk on peach schnapps and high on airplane glue, cover yourself in baby oil—especially your hands so they’re super slippery—and then let the chainsaw guide you.

Similarly, the boring way to improve society—through government at least—is to study the facts carefully, hear a bunch of different experts debate the options, costs, and proposed benefits, and then launch a limited, reasonable reform, perhaps in a specific location, and then see how it works out before continuing. Another important part of good, boring conservatism—much like good, boring parenting—is to say “no” to bad ideas whenever you see them. “When change is unnecessary, it is necessary not to change,” and all that.

This stuffy, Disraelian approach to conservatism is the conservatism of people like retiring Sen. Rob Portman, ex-Gov. Mitch Daniels, and most conservative judges. And I am here for it.

But a lot of people who call themselves conservatives these days aren’t. It’s like they read Mill literally rather than figuratively, and decided that conservatives should be the Running With Scissors party. Jewish space lasers may be the funny tip of the spear of the new right-wing stupidity, but there’s so much more out there. 

The GOP should ditch the symbol of the elephant for a meme of the gasoline fight from Zoolander, with Matt Gaetz getting jiggy to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” After all, memes are so much cooler than a large, slow-moving pachyderm with a long memory. That’s why Rep. Madison Cawthorn has set up his shop to be ready with a tweet at a moment’s notice but has no plans to work on legislation. It’s why Gaetz thinks, “if you aren’t making news, you aren’t governing.”

Secession, like Hansel, is so hot right now. The Oregon GOP officially thinks the assault on the Capitol was a false flag operation by Antifa. A majority of House members endorsed a lawsuit that, if not rejected by the boring Supreme Court, would have not only stolen the election but completely overturned the Constitutional order. The president, who wanted people to put disinfectant inside their bodies, is a very stable statesman genius, and the Republicans who want to hold him accountable for inspiring an assault on the Capitol are traitors to the republic.

I get that these people think that hot-taking it on cable news is real work. And it may well take effort. But it reminds me of the story from Don Quixote when the performer beckons a large crowd to see the show. He takes out a tube and shoves it in a dog’s butt, puts the other end in his mouth, and proceeds to inflate the dog. He pulls the tube out and the dog flees as if powered by a flatulent-jet pack. And then turns to the crowd to say, "You think it's easy to inflate a dog with a tube?"

Just be normal.

Meanwhile, progressives in San Francisco have concluded that Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have  “dishonorable legacies.”California’s proposed new high school ethnic studies curriculum celebrates such “influential people of color” as the mass murderer Pol Pot, but not Martin Luther King Jr. or Thurgood Marshall. Scientists—government scientists!—have forthrightly declared that schools need to reopen immediately. Yet the “Believe in science!”, “Government is good!”, “Do it for the children!” party is spinning so hard to indulge the refusal of teachers unions to go back to work that it risks scrotal torsion. Democratic officials are insouciantly talking about destroying good jobs, largely—as John Kerry explained this week—to set a good example for other countries.

Against this backdrop, the GOP could be the party of, “I don’t get it.” Or even, “Are you frick’n kidding me!?” But it’s hard to position yourself in that way when you’re high on Newsmax TV’s green room farts.

Look, we can disagree about all manner of specific policies, from transgenderism to climate change to abortion. But, as a matter of rank political analysis, most Americans are members of the stupid party as Kristol described. These people aren’t dumb, and they’re not necessarily Republicans, but they do have strong antibodies against radical excess or excess radicalism.

The GOP and right-wing entertainers are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to keep conspiracy theorists, secessionists, buffalo-skin-clad insurrectionists, and the brave truth tellers willing to call out the Hebraic Meteorological Complex in their coalition. But they’re not lifting a finger to keep the boring, hardworking grown-ups like Rob Portman, who just want to govern responsibly.

But, as Danny Ocean said in the all-squirrel remake of Ocean’s 11 when he was explaining his plan to rip-off the Planter’s Peanut warehouse: “Wait, it gets nuttier.” As Erick Erickson notes, there’s very little evidence that the Georgians who voted for Marjorie Taylor Greene knew she was nuttier than squirrel George Clooney’s stool sample. But why take that chance? It’s like the GOP thought that trading the reliable suburban voters that the Portmans of the world attract for the Louie Gohmert fan club was a great bargain. Sure, we’ll lose votes, but we’ll make up for it in volume! You’d think losing two majority-making Senate seats in Georgia would lead grown ups to say, “It’s all fun and games until you lose an ‘aye’ for Majority Leader.” Nope.

If you think that distancing yourself from someone who believes in Jewish Space Lasers isn’t worth it for fear that the very conservative voters in her district—or elsewhere—will never forgive you, you don’t think much of those voters. Nor do you think you have even the slightest responsibility to be a leader.

Look, I get it. Our politics is so messed up, it may be true that drawing a bright line around the dregs and saying, “That’s not us” could actually alienate some decent Americans who’ve been deluded by cable- and Facebook-fueled culture war tribalism. But what choice do you have? Where does that thinking end? George H.W. Bush repudiated David Duke when he ran for office because it was the right thing to do, but also because a party that welcomes David Duke will be unwelcome to millions of Americans. Better Americans.

The rules state: If you create a monster, the responsibility for stopping the monster—not feeding it—falls to you.

A party of conspiracy theorists and would-be secessionists will be a failed party—I hope. A party merely perceived as a party of conspiracy theorists and would-be secessionists will be a failed party—I hope.

But let’s say I’m wrong. How is that good news? If a new GOP of gasoline-fighters, meme-warrior entertainers, grifters, and tinfoil hatters succeeds, the country will fail. You can debate all day where you should amputate a limb to keep gangrene from taking over. But the longer you wait to find the exact spot, the more likely it is that the rot will spread beyond it.

I’m down for a stupid party. But not this kind of stupid.

Various & Sundry

Animal update: I know I’ve been light on good canine content of late. The problem is that A) I’m an early riser; B) so is the Dingo; C) once I wake up past, say 5:30 a.m., I can’t get back to sleep; and D) Despite my repeated requests at the planning meetings, the Jews won’t make the sun go up earlier. Videos of dogs in the dark just don’t work. Still, we’ve had a grand time most mornings. And I try to make up for the dearth of waggle videos with wholesome at-home content.

Meanwhile, as some of you have probably heard already, our cat Ralph died this week. It was all very terrible and emotionally wrenching. The morning my wife and daughter landed after flying all night from Hawaii, I found Ralph in bad shape. His back legs wouldn’t work and he was obviously distraught. Jess and Lucy were obviously upset for all the normal reasons, but it was even worse because they were exhausted and felt that they were robbed of a chance of one more day with him. Jessica and I took him to the vet and said goodbye.

I know I always gave Ralph a hard time, calling him “my wife’s cat”  and Gracie the “good cat.”  But the truth is he was a very good cat, too. I don’t have it in me to write about remorse again. But I will say it’s amazing how these creatures burrow into your heart and your life in ways you can never fully appreciate until they're gone. I have no patience for people who say things like “It’s just a cat.” Yes, it was, but it was also a creature that was a beloved part of our lives. Animals aren’t children, but the love that you feel for a child is immense, and something can come far short of that and still fill you with enough loss to shed some tears. He had a good life. He was a good cat. Rest in peace, Ralph.  

ICYMI

Last week’s G-File

Last week’s super-spectacular 300th edition of TheRemnant with Jack Butler

Last weekend’s Ruminant

Come on, President Biden. Set some loftier COVID vaccination goals

The week’s first Remnant with A.B. Stoddard

Biden Plays Expectations Game on COVID Vaccine

Out-Memeing the Market

Listen to Jonah’s conversation with NPR’s Rachel Martin on the lingering influence of Trump on the GOP

The week’s second Remnant with Will Saletan

Impeachment Shows How Partisan Politics Have Swamped the Constitution

And now, the weird stuff

A complete timeline of the mystery-monolith appearances of 2020

The extremely perplexing “Dance Plague” of Strasbourg, 1518

The attempted recreation of the Clash of the Titans owl somehow looks even jankier than the original

The Chicago Teachers’ Union puts together some very offensive cringe material

Noam Chomsky is now unironically taking interviews from Russian propaganda outlets