Mickey Kaus on the Blue Civil War

Walter Russell Mead- the strangely realistic yet (mostly) orthodox liberal- notes that in some places, for example California, Democrats have complete power and all conflict is intra-party. Mickey Kaus- a less realistic but verging on heresy liberal- makes note of the consequences of seeking reform from within.

I’ve got a lot of sympathy for realistic liberalism. In the old days- hell the old days as recently as 1990- realistic liberals were usually a kind of creature called a “conservative Democrat”. Realistic liberalism is a perfectly good way to run a white country, and pre-1965 I may well have been a conservative Democrat, before feminism, gay rights and civil rights took over. But since no mainstream political movement can cope with these, we have no realistic political mainstream.

Mead is more intellectual than Kaus- he is a liberal of the mind more than the heart- but is more optimistic that liberalism can reform itself and rule effectively. Kaus is more of an emotional liberal and has less intellectual loyalty, and sees the problem more clearly- that the problem is built into liberalism itself.

You can’t understand what a thing is unless you know what it is for. Here’s a scene from “Robocop” where the rising young executive, Bob Morton, has just triumphed in getting his project- Robocop- approved over the security robot project of his older competitor, Dick Jones. A little over halfway through Jones explains the real purpose of the project- not to work, but to make money-

This kind of criticism of military spending is offered by liberals all the time- it’s the obvious subtext of this scene- but they forbid this towards any of their pet projects.

Mead’s attitude is that liberalism should focus less on money transfer and more on its control mechanisms. Kaus believes that the control mechanisms need to be reformed. Kaus is less wrong than Mead, but he is still categorically wrong, in the same way that mainstream conservatives are categorically wrong, because they mistake the purpose of the control mechanisms.

Take the often-discussed Head Start. The stated purpose is to improve educational outcomes of poor children- by which we mean minorities. Conservatives say it doesn’t work, because numerous studies show any improvement in academic performance disappears after third grade. This assumes the purpose of Head Start is to improve academic performance. But its purpose is to employ poor minority women as Head Start teachers and middle-class minority women as administrators. A real critique of Head Start must take this into account, and will thus be dismissed as racist. Liberals won’t say what the true purpose is, and conservatives can’t say.

A few decades ago, Democrat and former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt suggested putting a means test on all government programs. This makes a lot of sense. If the government is going to give money to people, it should at least give it to those who actually need it. This went nowhere of course. It was and is suggested that the beneficiaries of government need to be spread across classes to maintain support, which is the closest to the truth anybody will get.

Direct beneficiaries of government spending are less important clients than individuals government employs and businesses government contracts with. The only reason that direct beneficiaries get anything is that employees and contractors are taken care of first.

Take what you can from the government, but expect and lobby for nothing.

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About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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14 Responses to Mickey Kaus on the Blue Civil War

  1. Ryu says:

    Great movie. I wonder if they would ever move all the blacks out of Detroit and do something like that. They moved all the negros and spics out of Manhattan with great effect.

    I don’t see it for the liberals. They’d have to cut the purse strings. PA thinks they might, but I disagree.

  2. robertpinkerton says:

    I think I know what you mean by Conservative Democrat, because I think my father (died in 1987 at age 71y1mo) was one up to the time I was in college. He also had been an Officer — a mustang — during World War Two. While he was all for social safety-net programs realistically administered, subsuming means test for intake, and for the concept of economic regulation, he was hard antipathetic to the Soviet Union — for the same set of reasons why he had been hard antipathetic to Nazi Germany. Interestingly, in the matter of child-rearing, his attitude was, Only the truth at all times, and if this leads to growing up fast, no loss — as counterposed to an academic-subculture relative who thought that truth was irrelevant to children, who should be led to think beautiful thoughts (A platonist, that bitch was).

  3. Bobbye says:

    I live in Illinois which has a super-majority Democrats in both houses as well as a democratic governor. They are absolutely incapable of solving any of the states problems because their belief system created the problems. Michigan is exactly the opposite.

  4. Matt says:

    I think Head Start’s purpose is more to provide free daycare for working and single mothers. I’ve even seen liberals acknowledge this.

  5. Brandon says:

    Head start=ass behind

  6. Heil Hizzle Mein Nizzle says:

    I know you mentioned Kaus before (in regards to Breitbart), and I think you have him pegged wrong (unless you’re using the “right liberal” model, a la Lawrence Auster to categorize him as a liberal). The Daily caller is a moderately conservative outlet for mainstream conservatives like Anne Coulter or Michelle Malkin. They’ll walk right up the line on immigration, but stop short of Vdare.

    Kaus would privately agree with the kind of premise of minorities forwarded by someone like Lee Atwater, but he would never be accepted on MSNBC (or even on CNN, I don’t think) and thus needs to be categorized in the heterogeneous zone of conservatism somewhere between the Tea Party and Derbyshire. The only thing he has in common with Meade, is, as you mentioned, the fact that he is capable of dealing with reality.

  7. maxsnafu says:

    Your take on Head Start and other Liberal programs of that ilk is dead-on accurate.

  8. robroysimmons says:

    In Illinois the white libs have basically defenestrated the black political machine, now left with some clowns where once blacks had real power, now they are pets. Blago and his allies spent their years crying over “racism” while at the same time section 8ing blacks out of chicago and keeping it from full Detroit.

    • Very interesting. One of my theories is that everything- absolutely everything- in urban, and thus to a great extent in liberal politics, is done for the benefit of real estate developers.

  9. bjk says:

    Mead is more philosophical? Interesting. I read one of Mead’s books, basically it was a certain kind of neoconnery: the US resolves all contradictions, whether between classes, or races, or religions. Lite Marx with no side-effects. Kaus is willing to stake out either or positions, Mead doesn’t ever do that.

  10. I’ve been a longtime reader of Kaus (something of an idol of mine) and, to a lesser extent, of Mead, whom I was introduced to through a Michael Lind compilation long ago.

    Mead is devastating on the “collapse of the Blue Social Model”, but he has a number of infuriating quirks that make it difficult for me to read him regularly. He has an almost New Age-y, Futurist tendency to wind up his jeremiads with a lot of hand-waving about how technology will save us all. He has strong “goo-goo” good-governance tendencies: even while with one hand he demolishes wishful liberal thinking, he’ll use the other to spread a lot of halfbaked, Lind-style Radical Centrist “we’ll have new thinking for new solutions” type mayonnaise. He is, bless his heart, *incredibly* supercilious about the slightest whiff of potential “anti-Semitism” and takes yogic postures of obeisance to “diversity”. –All of this may stem in part from his academic work, which makes for yet another bothersome quirk: a tendency to frame essays around what his students are thinking and doing, the idealistic little monkeys, who obviously do tug rhetorical tears from his eyes.

    That said, he writes admirable theological essays (a surprise vocation, but welcome). I think he struggles with the burden of his clearsighted purview of the devastating challenges ahead, and makes too many unforced swerves into silliness.

    As to Kaus: I’m pretty sure he must have some HBD tendencies. There’s a “Reason” interview from a number of years ago, where he’s mercilessly baited by the libertardian, a lot of stuff like “but Latin American countries are only poor because they have bad institutions”. Kaus, bless him, didn’t quite take the bait, but you can sense the awkwardness steaming in between the lines. I’m pretty sure Mickey appreciates Latin American poverty has something to do with the holistic mindset coursing through the mestizo genes. For that matter, I’m pretty sure “Reason” knows that Mickey believes this.

    Politically I’m now to Mickey’s right, of course, but I just all-round love the guy. A great contrarian personality. I never have qualms about reading Mickey.

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