National Review Going to Pot

by Brad Nelson   1/5/14

The quest for a new base for the Republican Party (which wants to eschew conservative, let alone Republican, principles) continues. One of the vehicles for that is National Review Online.

Rush Limbaugh is of the mind that the party wants a new base. The thought is that the party is tired of being embarrassed by Christians and others who delve into those sticky “social issues” such as abortion, drugs, and gay marriage. The thought is, if the Republicans can dispense with this crowd, they can build a winning coalition.

That begs the question: Win what? For Republicans, winning means simply being in the majority, holding the committee chairmanships, raking in the cash, etc. It means having one’s hand on the tiller of Leviathan, but certainly not doing anything as impolite as reducing it.

National Review’s shift continues with “the editors” penning an article praising the legalization of pot. In it, you will find all the straw-men and lazy arguments of libertarians. I’ll leave it to Mr. Kung or Nahalkides to unpack that gibberish if they find the time. A more sensible discussion of this issue can be found in Peter Hitchens’ article, The Right’s Reefer Madness. Another good one by Hitchens is High and Violent.

Here’s a quote from that first article:

But what about this argument that drug legalization is a road to liberty, and that the individual’s right to fry his brains in his own home is equivalent to his freedom of speech, thought, or assembly (or even his freedom to bear arms)?

I find it odd that this claim should be made for a drug that tends to make its users passive and acquiescent, not to mention incoherent in speech.

My argument against the legalization of pot is based on the straightforward idea that a self-governing people cannot do so if they are stoned out of their minds. We don’t need more legalized drugs. We don’t need more disengagement from reality.

And the larger argument, or context, is one of which “the editors” are either ignorant, or are blinded from seeing by their disdain for “social” causes and the moral element itself: Pot is mostly a guy issue. And it is no secret that guys (I won’t use the word “men”) have been marginalized by “Progressive” society. Masculinity is demonized — even something that needs to be anesthetized with drugs — while the female traits are held up as the standard.

There are two choices in the face of this: Acquiesce and just get stoned, or push back. It’s sad to see that the male choice is more and more to just get stoned, to tune out of the vital questions of the day, to extend one’s adolescence, to  anesthetize oneself with the modern equivalent of Soma.

Another quote from Hitchens makes this point in reference to Aldous Huxley’s novel, “Brave New World”:

Yet these same people ignore, or even defend, a development in modern societies that is far more of an immediate menace to human freedom. It is the thing that Huxley warned against most particularly and wanted us to learn from Brave New World—the danger that we would come to embrace our own servitude. More specifically, it was his prediction that we would voluntarily drug ourselves into conformist contentment and artificial joy, so losing our curiosity and our free spirit.

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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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30 Responses to National Review Going to Pot

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I’ve never used illegal drugs (I had a roommate at Purdue who used marijuana, but he never used it in my presence and I wasn’t aware of it at the time), and I saw no reason to read the NRO editorial. But this isn’t all that new; Buckley was already supporting marijuana legalization a few decades ago.

    My own view of any law is that it should pass a triple test: Does it deal with an actual significant problem? Will it actually significantly ameliorate the problem? Will the unintended consequences be less than the benefits? Flag desecration bans are a good example of an idea that fails on the first question (and I’ve been very pleased that Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell has opposed them for over 20 years, ever since he saw the link between that and opposition to campaign finance “reform”). Drug bans do meet the first two tests, but I think at least some of them fail on the third one. So I tend to be skeptical of the laws, but more sympathetic to most of their supporters than to most of the opponents (since most simply want to legalize their own drug use).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      But this isn’t all that new; Buckley was already supporting marijuana legalization a few decades ago.

      That would be understandable, maybe even admirable, if National Review was following Buckley in most other things. But this is an accidental conjunction, at best.

      I like what Jed Babbin says in his article, So Many Intolerable Lies:

      The inauguration of ϋberliberal Bill de Blasio is another example of why states need not follow Colorado’s example and legalize marijuana. We’ve already lulled ourselves into a drug-like stupor.

      Ben Stein, in another article over at The American Spectator, says:

      I . . . opened my Sunday New York Times and there was the most perfectly horrifying front page combo ever. The lede (as we journalists call it) was about New York State moving slowly (maybe quickly) to legalize marijuana. The story next to it was about al Qaeda running wild throughout the Middle East and North Africa as Obama turns American attention away from the Middle East and North Africa.

      So… violent, sadistic, sick, twisted Islamic reaction is taking over a huge chunk of the world? What is the solution, Mr. President and Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea? Get high. This truly is foreign policy run by subhumans.

    • faba calculo says:

      An easier test, not sufficient in and of itself, but certainly necessary is the question whether or not the law is constitutional. To eliminate drinking at the federal level, we had an amendment. Assuming that they didn’t just pass an amendment for the fun of it even though they already had the relevant power, we have to assume that that amendment and ONLY that amendment gave the federal government the power to ban alcohol.

      This amendment was subsequently overturned.

      So where now is the federal government supposed to be getting the authority to ban mind-altering substances? The left will tell you that it comes from the power to regulate interstate commerce, but if someone from the right buys into that, they might as well buy into the constitutionality of Obamacare and the rest of the progressive regulatory agenda. What someone (dumb enough to want to get high) wants to grow in their own backyard or buy from their neighbor is no more covered by the interstate commerce clause than is my decision to have or not have health insurance.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Good point. I suppose this is so automatic for me that I don’t need to mention it, but it’s certainly necessary when dealing with the ruling class.

        • faba calculo says:

          Yes. And I did mean to add something to say that I didn’t think that you yourself discounted this factor. It’s just that, in this case, the lack of a constitutional framework makes the question, at the federal level (and only at the federal level) that much simpler.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    As Deana mentioned in her recent article, “A great number of Americans today want freedom from consequences, freedom from responsibility, freedom from morality.”

    I think that describes this push for pot as well. That pot use has become common in our society is no more of a reason to make peace with it than to make peace with socialism because it is common. Both are destructive. Both are signs of a society that does not take its god-given freedoms (and responsibilities) seriously and is looking for some odd psychological utopia.

    This issue cannot, and should not, be broken down into mere libertarian terms. It should be understood as an attempt to anesthetize ourselves from our problems instead of engaging them. We can very easily increment ourselves into doing really stupid things if we never take a look at the big picture.

    That used to be one of the jobs of conservatives….and of National Review—seeing the big picture. But National Review has watered-down and otherwise obscured its raison d’être.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Those concerns are why, despite my skepticism about anti-drug laws, all my sympathies are with the anti-drug cause. I have little use for druggies.

      • faba calculo says:

        Well said!

        Supporting my neighbors right to be stupid in their own home in this regard isn’t the same thing as supporting them exercising this right.

    • faba calculo says:

      “This issue cannot, and should not, be broken down into mere libertarian terms. It should be understood as an attempt to anesthetize ourselves from our problems instead of engaging them.”

      It should absolutely be broken down in libertarian terms, and in constitutional terms, and, hell, in conservative terms. Vis a vis the latter, in what way is it the federal government’s job to keep us sober? Such overreach is itself the gateway drug to the nanny state.

      If this or that state wants to try prohibition in drugs, alcohol, or whatever, that’s a different matter entirely. But to any self-conceived conservative out there who supports federal drug laws, I issue this challenge: tell me where in the Constitution the federal government is given such powers.

  3. griffonn says:

    Speaking of NRO, are you guys watching the mysterious disappearance of Mark Steyn?

    I am wondering how long before NRO starts deleting comments that mention him. It’s really weird how they won’t just come out and say why he left.

    (Apologies for crashing in here and changing the subject).

    • griffonn says:

      This is what I’m talking about:

      Sorry to hijack Mr. Cooke’s very well written article, but I’ve been trying to piece together Steyn’s absence.

      The other day, I remembered that he had a trip to Florida planned, but that’s in February.

      Today, I went back to his website to poke around and found …

      • Timothy Lane says:

        There have been a number of references on NRO to Steyn’s absence in recent weeks, especially on the Friday night lead story that should be his. I should know; I’ve written several of them and commented on others. If he doesn’t come back, I’m sure there’ll be more tomorrow — unless they do decide to censor that.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          It’s very creepy the way NRO is silent about it. It reminds one of an old Soviet-style purge. Suddenly it’s if the person never existed.

        • griffonn says:

          Guess I need to spend more time here, instead of there.

          (though if I did that, there would be people on the internet being WRONG….

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            LOL. So true. After all, that seemed to be Andrew Breitbart’s motivation.

          • dagny says:

            Well, we need you on all the gay marriage and baby-killing threads, or who would I have to agree with?

            I’m not torn on the legalization of weed issue, but I am torn on the decriminalization of weed issue. Right now an out of hand statist court and police state are using its illegality to coerce money from the population at astounding levels. Some kid with a joint doesn’t need to be flattened, taken to the hospital, have blood tests, multiple court dates, community service classes costing thousands and funneled back through the politicians campaigns. I’m going to bet that those states that legalize it for adults are going to crack down on minors like they have with alcohol raking in even more money for themselves. I don’t particularly feel sorry for the miscreants, but I don’t see it as a one sided issue any longer. I think the statists try to figure out what gives them the most money and power.

            Also, if you do research on marijuana and follow the flow of information on sites dedicated to insisting that it’s a perfectly fine thing to do, you’ll find that most of the pro-weed information out there comes from one financial source. Yep, George Soros.

            Soros wants the country stoned.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Many years ago, I read an article (it may have been in one of my grandmother’s old Reader’s Digests) discussing the Japanese use of drugs (opiates, presumably to effectively tranquilize the population of Manchuria and the occupied areas of China. No doubt Soros and his cohorts have a similar notion.

            • griffonn says:

              One thing I do NOT support: drug use as an excuse for cops to rob victims who haven’t been proven guilty of anything.

              I happened to see it in person. It was very ugly. The cops came, roughed up some guy, relieved him of all his money, and left. They didn’t charge him with anything.

              This is perfectly legal under a law that needs to be repealed. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ should not have this exception.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                There are various ways by which Our Enemy the State loots the public even aside from taxes, but that certainly is one of the worst, and not only from drugs. Confiscating money without a conviction for a crime for which such confiscation is the punishment is not only blatantly immoral but equally unconstitutional.

            • griffonn says:

              Well, I think I’ve been blacklisted from NRO.

              Not even an explanation as to why.

              I’ll try again later.

              They are truly a microcosm of the GOP: they understand in a very theoretical way that they need [readers/voters], but they don’t actually like those unwashed people, and they don’t know how to handle even basic moderation tasks.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                No, indeed, they do not seem to know how to handle simple moderating tasks. I’ve come to the conclusion that they consider their readers a mere annoyance, a entity to be looked down upon.

                Remember, there are many who split the difference not between Republicans and Democrats but between the ruling class and everybody else. Bill Buckley will never be confused with a pleb. But National Review has long ago lost the common touch.

                Griffonn, by “blacklisted” do you mean that your posts tend to disappear like one of Al Capone’s bookkeepers in the face of a grand jury?

              • griffonn says:

                Well, I am not blacklisted any more.

                Apparently I was down as being blacklisted and a moderator lifted it?

                By blacklisted I mean none of my comments would post at all, and I was redirected to a page that informed me that I was blacklisted.

                Apparently this happened because I referred to “Piss Christ” (the artwork aka hate crime by Andre Serrano) and it triggered something more than the usual comment being held, but put my whole person into the tank?

                I don’t know for sure – I’m guessing.

                But to me it is emblematic of what’s wrong with our entire political process. Honest voters are treated like trolls, while trolls are treated like honest voters.

  4. I happen to think legalization of pot is totally in tune with libertarian concepts as I understand them. It’s basically to allow one to make his own decisions of how to live his life if it doesn’t harm any one else. And to curb governments power over the individual and what he does or doesn’t do in the privacy of his own property. I have smoked pot, I grew out of it but know potheads and I find them for the most part worthless, but harmless. I would much rather have someone getting high and leaving me alone than demanding I follow his rules whatever they may be, whether I agree or not. I don’t see anything in the Constitution of the United States that gives the federal government power over these kinds of decisions anyway.
    If any legal body should have that right it should be the States.
    The framers of the Constitution were genius in their idea of having many small laboratories for hashing out these sorts of issues, and it is to the great discredit of ourcurrent system that we have abandoned this wisdom.
    Let Colorado lead the way, we will know soon enough if this is a model other states wish to follow or not.
    That’s the way it is designed to work.
    It sure makes sense to me.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Properly speaking, the only legitimate federal involvement in drug laws should be interstate or international drug shipments. Anything purely intrastate should be solely a state concern. Of course, this presupposes that the federal government respects constitutional limits.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    But to me it is emblematic of what’s wrong with our entire political process.

    Ditto, Griffonn. And that’s one reason I just had to leave National Review behind. Hell, we can do better than them. Here you may even retell old Bob Hope jokes without getting banned.

    The people I had come to know at the bottom of their articles were consistently smarter, more eloquent, and more conservative than their premier writers. So it takes merely a mere leap of ego to understand that the point is not trying to gain some gloss off of a renowned publication by posting at the bottom of its articles. The point is to have our say and hopefully make a difference by spreading conservative ideas.

    You have to start somewhere. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s over for National Review as any kind of meaningful vehicle for reform.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Mr. Kung brought this article to my attention: The terrible truth about cannabis:

    • One in six teenagers who regularly smoke the drug become dependent

    • It doubles risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia 

    • Heavy use in adolescence appears to impair intellectual development

    • Driving after smoking cannabis doubles risk of having a car crash 

    • Study’s author said: ‘If cannabis is not addictive then neither is heroin’ 

    • The drug is currently legal in two states – Washington and Colorado 

    • A further 21 states have allowed it to be used for medicinal purposes  

    • Obama said earlier this year cannabis is not as dangerous as alcohol

    It should also be added:

    • Makes libertarianism and Ron Paul seem like good ideas.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    As much as we often chide the conservative media for being little more than book-sellers or a means to rant, kudos to Thomas Lifson for his critique of National Review: National Review Goes to the Mattresses Against Trump:

    The most venerable and prestigious publication of the conservative movement is doing everything it can to discourage support for the candidacy of Donald Trump. I cannot remember anything like it in the last half century. The cover story, Conservatives Against Trump, features essays by 22 conservative notables ranging from libertarians to religious conservatives. The return fire is already withering.

    Well, I do remember them doing a job on Newt Gingrich quite less than half a century ago. But point taken. Lifson quotes Trump’s remarks on the subject (from today):

    National Review is a failing publication that has lost it’s way. It’s circulation is way down w its influence being at an all time low. Sad!

    StubbornThings was founded, in part, as the bastard child of National Review Online. Your average reader can only guess at what is going on inside that publication. Certainly monied interests have pulled that publication toward Establishmentism and corrupted its writers. It sounds very grandiose for me to say to people such as Andrew McCarthy that they would be well served to disassociate themselves from that publication. But it is something I noted over a year ago. Get out! That ship is sinking from a thousand worm holes.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      A nice little piece from Mark Steyn about the National Review going off on Trump. It is the first piece, I have seen, in which Steyn is a little less than neutral with NR. NR depends on the money from wealthy donors to survive, so I don’t know if they will fold any time soon. But this insane move on their part has got hurt them badly. Unfortunately, I stopped reading NR or NRO once they screwed Steyn so I can’t cancel my subscription in protest.

      Steyn noted something which is not far from something I have long said, to wit, most of the so-called journalists who start out as rebels are actually phonies trying to get a seat at the table in order to make lots of easy money. I think Jonah Goldberg is a good case-in-point. Did anyone notice his change of direction once he started appearing on Fox?

      I think Steyn is a pearl among journalists. He sticks to his guns and writes unambiguously.

      The little experience I have had with journalists has taught me to distrust them. Those I have run into, and those friends have dealt with, have shown minimal respect for the truth if a few embellishments will help move the narrative. Rush Limbaugh says something like politics is Hollywood for ugly people. Well, I think many political journalists are politician wannabes who could not get elected dog-catcher.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Mr. Kung asked (rhetorically) in another thread, but I’ll put it here for the sake of tidiness:

    How stupid was it of the Republican party to push a plutocrat who looked and acted like a stereotypical plutocrat?

    There are a few articles now being written about NRO losing its mind. Even Andrew McCarthy joined the chorus of the Trump-obsessed. Jack Kerwick writes:

    For example, Glenn Beck suggests that Trump is no conservative because along with Barack Obama, Trump supported “the stimulus, the auto bailouts, and the bank bailouts.” 

    Yet Trump had neither authority nor power to make these ideas materialize.  That distinction is enjoyed by just those politicians who Beck supported. 

    For years, Beck ran cover for George W. Bush, the 43rd president who, along with such members of Congress as John McCain, who Beck also endorsed for President in 2008, brought us the bank bailouts. McCain also signed onto the auto bailouts and while he didn’t back Obama’s stimulus, he announced his own stimulus in 2008—months before the election in which he lost to Obama. 

    But Beck still endorsed him.

    Michael Medved was an even more enthusiastic champion of McCain than was McCain himself.  And in his critique of Trump he refers to Bush II as one of the two most “popular” of “conservative” presidents (the other being Ronald Reagan).  

    Beck makes a lot of money being a pundit. But I’ll put him down as a man who actually does care about his country and not just holding his position. Medved, on the other hand, is simply another member of the Gentleman’s Club of Conservative Pundits whose job is to sit inside their smoke-filled rooms and believe that they are superior to others without actually having to push back against Leftist culture.

    If NRO came out wholly and entirely in support of Cruz, I’d say they were serious about things. But when their passions are aroused it’s only to support a RINO such as Bush, McCain, Romney, or Bush — or, more particularly, to bash anyone who dares (by their mere existence and popularity) to take away their aura of superiority.

    When they are not surrendering in the culture wars (Jonah) they’re supporting RINOs and making excuses for doing nothing to push back against the Left. We are watching a meltdown of people who are living in a bubble of their own creation. It’s all well and good to go after Trump because he is supposedly not who we think he is. But it is a meaningless gesture when done by a cadre of people who are definitely not who they pretend to be.

    Sorry to see Andy McCarthy mixed up in that crowd. I thought he was smarter than that.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Sorry to see Andy McCarthy mixed up in that crowd. I thought he was smarter than that.

      the Gentleman’s Club of Conservative Pundits whose job is to sit inside their smoke-filled rooms and believe that they are superior to others without actually having to push back against Leftist culture.

      McCarthy is a member of the Gentleman’s Club and if one is a member of such a club, I believe it is extremely hard for a person to go against the club’s consensus.

      After all, one likely joins a club for one of the following reasons,

      1. One agrees with the members of the club
      2. One is in the club for personal gain

      In either case, it is hard to buck the club.

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