Category Archives: Books & Ideas


There Comes a Time



Dissenting Democrat Cited on Abby Martin’s Program

The Dissenting Democrat was pleased that Abby Martin cited a post on our web blog in her most recent program. If our regular readers haven’t seen the segment you may watch it here. We do encourage readers to watch the program regularly on RT. It is also available on Youtube at


Obama Is A Conservative

One of the sharp disputes I have had with friends and colleagues has been caused by my insistence that Barack Obama is a Conservative. I have been told to wait that Obama is merely biding his time so that he can spring forth as the liberal he wants to be. I’ve been reminded that the National Journal called Obama the most Liberal in the Senate. And I’ve been assured that his many well worded speeches evidence his true liberal bent.

Nevertheless, as the noted philosopher Forrest Gump has taught, “Stupid is as stupid does”, so too, to be a Liberal, or to be a Conservative, one must actually do something in pursuit of liberal or conservative objectives. Obama has not  sought to fulfill the hope he stimulated. He has governed as a moderate Republican. The reason the Right hates him so much is the same reason Birchers booed Rockefeller and Scranton in 1964, he and they are practical as distinct from doctrinaire Conservatives.

In support of the Dissenting Democrat’s thesis, I submit the following excerpt from an essay by Jeffrey Hart. Mr. Hart is in retirement but during his career was one of the brilliant young editors who made National Review worth reading. He served as a speechwriter for Reagan and Nixon and was selected to write the authorized history of National Review. His Conservative creds are beyond dispute and in 2008, he supported Obama. Hart voted for Obama over McCain and Palin because Obama was the Conservative candidate.

Jeffrey Hart, “Obama is The Real Conservative” —

It may be something of a surprise that, as a long time conservative, I now support Barack Obama. In 1968, I was a speechwriter first for Ronald Reagan, when Governor of California, then, as Richard Nixon became the presidential nominee, a speechwriter for Nixon, working at his home office at 450 Park Avenue. I became a senior editor at National Review in 1969, a position I held until recently.

There are common sense conservatives who are prudential, who try to match means with ends, and who calculate the probabilities of gains and risks. But there are philosophical (analytical) conservatives, the most useful being Edmund Burke, whose “Reflections on the Revolution in France” (1790) understood the great dangers in trying to change society through abstract (republican) theory. My first book that dealt with these matters was “English Political writers: From Locke to Burke” (Knopf, 1963).

One thing I know is that both Nixon and Reagan would have agreed with Obama’s speech against the Iraq War… But all the organs of the conservative movement followed Bush over the cliff—as did John McCain.

Republican President George W. Bush has not been a conservative at all, either in domestic policy or in foreign policy. He invaded Iraq on the basis of abstract theory, the very thing Burke warned against. Bush aimed to turn Iraq into a democracy, “a beacon of liberty in the Middle East,” as he explained in a radio address in April 2006.

I do not recall any “conservative” publication mentioning those now memorable words “Sunni,” “Shia,” or “Kurds.” Burke would have been appalled at the blindness to history and to social facts that characterized the writing of those so-called conservatives.

Obama did understand. In his now famous 2002 speech, while he was still a state senator in Illinois, he said: “I know that a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, of undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without international support will fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than the best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda. I’m not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”

Burke would have agreed entirely, and admired the cogency of so few words. And one thing I know is that both Nixon and Reagan would have agreed. Both were prudential and successful conservatives. But all the organs of the conservative movement followed Bush over the cliff—as did John McCain.

Obama was the true conservative, the Burkean.

Bill Moyers: The End of Democracy

We are so close to losing our democracy to the mercenary class, it’s as if we are leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon and all that’s needed is a swift kick in the pants. Look out below.

The predators in Washington are only this far from monopoly control of our government. They have bought the political system, lock, stock and pork barrel, making change from within impossible. That’s the real joke.
Sometimes I long for the wit of a Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. They treat this town as burlesque, and with satire and parody show it the disrespect it deserves. We laugh, and punch each other on the arm, and tweet that the rascals got their just dessert. Still, the last laugh always seems to go to the boldface names that populate this town. To them belong the spoils of a looted city. They get the tax breaks, the loopholes, the contracts, the payoffs.

They fix the system so multimillionaire hedge fund managers and private equity tycoons pay less of a tax rate on their income than school teachers, police and fire fighters, secretaries and janitors. They give subsidies to rich corporate farms and cut food stamps for working people facing hunger. They remove oversight of the wall street casinos, bail out the bankers who torpedo the economy, fight the modest reforms of Dodd-Frank, prolong tax havens for multinationals, and stick it to consumers while rewarding corporations.

We pay. We pay at the grocery store. We pay at the gas pump. We pay the taxes they write off. Our low-wage workers pay with sweat and deprivation because this town – aloof, self-obsessed, bought off and doing very well, thank you – feels no pain.

The journalists who could tell us these things rarely do – and some, never. They aren’t blind, simply bedazzled. Watch the evening news – any evening news – or the Sunday talk shows. Listen to the chit-chat of the early risers on morning TV — and ask yourself if you are learning anything about how this town actually works.

William Greider, one of our craft’s finest reporters, fierce and unbought, despite a long life in Washington once said that no one can hope to understand what is driving political behavior without asking the kind of gut-level questions politicians ask themselves in private: “Who are the winners in this matter and who are the losers? Who gets the money and who has to pay? Who must be heard on this question and who can be safely ignored?”

Perhaps they don’t ask these questions because they fear banishment from the parties and perks, from the access that passes as seduction in this town.

Or perhaps they do not tell us these things because they fear that if the system were exposed for what it is, outraged citizens would descend on this town, and tear it apart with their bare hands.



Colin Wilson and Tom Laughlin R.I.P.

Two of the heroes of my youth passed away recently, COLIN WILSON (1931-2013) died December 5 and TOM LAUGHLIN, or BILLY JACK (1931-2013) died December 12.

Colin Wilson was known as one of the original “Angry Young Men” who dominated the British literary scene in the Fifties. His first book THE OUTSIDER was a brilliant exposition of the ideal of the artist or thinker who stood outside the mainstream in a pursuit of authenticity. For me, Wilson was an introduction to existentialism as well as mysticism. As a teen I went from the simple answers of Ayn Rand to the more complex questions of Wilson and came to intellectual maturity in so doing. In my late twenties I exchanged correspondence with Mr. Wilson and he advised me on a writing career, wise advice which I neglected to follow.

Tom Laughlin was an icon of the age having become the character he portrayed in film, Billy Jack, in real life as well. Billy Jack, the defender of the weak against bullies and mindless authority exemplified what a generation sought in its leaders but could never find. As the film ended, how many of us felt compelled to stand along with the young people in the film saluting the captured hero facing the consequences of his heroism.

It was nice to have someone to believe in.


Rome from Republic to Empire

“The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections.  Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”



MSNBC, the so-called “Left” network, has fired yet another commentator. MARTIN BASHIR has joined the MSNBC Alumni including KEITH OLBERMANN, DYLAN RATIGAN, CENK UYGER and ALEC BALDWIN. “Liberals” favor Free Speech in the abstract but should any right-winger become offended and the Liberals would rather turn on their own than stand up to the Right.

Bashir erred by saying that if SARAH PALIN thought the National Debt was the equivalent of Slavery, she should experience what slaves experienced. That was too much for the milquetoasts that run the MSNBC network.

It is the policy of the DISSENTING DEMOCRAT to be polite and mannerly with those who are themselves polite and mannerly. Those who choose to be rude and crude should be treated as they treat others.

TO-WIT, did you hear that the Government offered to confine Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter in Gitmo as comfort girls for the prisoners. The plan was abandoned, however, as the prisoners claimed that such cruel and unusual punishment was in violation of international law.

Yes, a crude joke and nothing we would ever tell using anyone other than Palin or Coulter. But these women have been so rude as to lose the cloak of courtesy one would normally extend.

Ann Coulter said that the U.S. should invade Islamic countries to kill the men, enslave the women and confine the children to Christian schools. She gets away with that. Rush Limbaugh calls the Pope a Communist and women seeking birth control “sluts”, and he continues unrestricted. Michael Savage opines that gays should be killed, and remains the # 3 wingnut broadcaster.

Liberals  must adhere to a higher standard than wingnuts and tea-baggers. This is one of the reasons why the DISSENTING DEMOCRAT is not Liberal. Liberals are obliged to behave as gentlemen and ladies even in the presence of bullies. We believe Bullies should be treated as such.