Ben Murnane wrote an article based on an email interview he did with me for a print zine in Ireland called “Totally Fushed”. Unfortunately, the internet edition of the mag is defunct, so I don’t have a way to link to Murnane’s article. However, I do have a copy of the original interview and I decided to put that up instead. Do keep in mind that this interview was conducted BEFORE the war in Iraq. The delay was because “Totally Fushed” is published bi-monthly and I told Ben I wouldn’t put anything up before the article came out. Of course, everything in it is still just as relevant today as it was before the war, so I don’t think the fact that it’s a bit old is a problem. Enjoy the interview!
Ben Murnane: How long has RWN been running for and where did the idea come from?
John Hawkins: I thought the press coverage of the 2000 elections was horribly biased against George W. Bush. It was clear as a bell that Bush has won the election and that Gore was trying to steal the election with the help of the ultra-liberal Florida State Supreme Court. As the controversy over the elections results dragged on and on, I became more and more disillusioned with how the media was covering it. The breaking point for me came when I was watching TV and a viewer commented that Bush should concede. Concede? Concede?!? The votes had been counted multiple times and he had never been behind! That was the moment I decided to create a Ccnservative website. In August of 2001, I got RWN up and running although things didn’t start to pick-up until I changed formats of April of 2002.
Ben Murnane: What’s good about running your own blog? Is there any aspect you find particularly rewarding?
John Hawkins: I really enjoy getting to interview writers whose work I admire like Mark Steyn, Victor Davis Hanson, & Walter Williams. It’s also gratifying to see my blog mentioned in WSJ’s Best of Web, National Review’s The Corner, or inAtlantic Monthly. Eventually I hope to make some real money off of this although I’m not at that point yet.
Ben Murnane: Are there any downsides?
John Hawkins: Yeah, if you run the show that means you’re responsible for putting up entertaining material and if it doesn’t measure up, it’s nobody’s fault but yours. There’s a lot of work involved and in the end it’s all on your shoulders.
Ben Murnane: Where did the idea for ACPOTI come from?
John Hawkins: I used to hang out in the Utopia Politics forums and some of the people there used to delight in finding off the wall forums with bizarre posts in them and I thought they were interesting as well. I mean intellectually on the one hand you know there are kooks and Nazis out there, but on the other hand, it’s sort of mind blowing to actually run across someone talking about what a hero Hitler was or how there are lizard people running half the planet.
Ben Murnane: Does updating the page every day (bar weekends) ever become tiresome?
John Hawkins: For the most part, no, because I enjoy what I do. Supposedly that’s the key to success, finding something you enjoy and making it your career. It’s not a career yet, but in another year or three I think it will be….
Ben Murnane: Have you any imminent or long-term plans for RWN?
John Hawkins: I intend to keep building my audience and milking it for revenue. Then as I get better known, I want to write columns and books and supplement my income. Down the line I intend to move to the beach the live off of what I make writing.
Ben Murnane: How is having ‘In God We Trust’ on every dollar bill not a violation of Church/State separation, and frankly, wasn’t ‘E Plurabis Unum’ a far cooler motto anyway?
John Hawkins: Actually, the relevant part of the 1st Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Putting ‘In God We Trust’ on a dollar bill does not establish a religion and thus, it is constitutional. The Constitution isn’t hostile to religion, it’s simply designed to make sure that people can worship freely without having to deal with an officially sanctioned religion. The phrase “separation of Church and state” comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote and it was actually meant to get across the same point as the language in the 1st Amendment. However, the language in Jefferson’s letter is less precise and therefore more susceptible to being deliberately misinterpreted by people with an anti-religious agenda. That’s why it has been so often referenced that people are more familiar with that phrase than what the Constitution actually says.
Ben Murnane: Do you think the nature of the world has changed since 9/11, and if so, how so?
John Hawkins: The world order that was built to deal the Cold War has now been rendered obsolete without a conflict between the US and the Soviets to hold it all together. The UN has been shown to be ineffective, NATO seems purposeless, and Europe and the US are drifting apart. Plus, we’re going to be stirring the pot for years to come while we’re fighting the war on terrorism. So in short, the old world order has been smashed and a replacement hasn’t been devised yet.
Ben Murnane: Why do you think, in general, Americans are more ‘patriotic’ than, say, Europeans?
John Hawkins: For one thing, Europeans tend to associate nationalism with war, imperialism, & colonialism in a way that Americans don’t because we’ve had different experiences. When we’re waving the flag around we’re thinking off Patrick Henry giving fiery speeches and American forces helping to save the world from the Axis. On the other hand, Europeans are thinking of Nazi parades and African countries their ancestors trampled under foot for the “glory of empire”. That’s the root of it, although killing nationalism is also a necessity if the “United States of Europe” that many European elites desire is ever going to come into being.
Ben Murnane: What is the American Dream?
John Hawkins: The dream varies from person to person. For some people it’s a wife, two kids, and a little house with a picket fence. For others it’s becoming a millionaire. For me it’s making a living off of my writing. In any case, if you have dream, America is probably best place to pursue it unless you want to become a dictator like Saddam or dream of being an impoverished peasant.
Ben Murnane: What annoys you most about the Left?
John Hawkins: If I were to pick one thing, it would be the fact that much of the left is dishonest about what it wants to do. Animal Rights kooks who want animals and humans to be equivalent under the law portray themselves as just being interested in taking care of fluffy animals — just like your pet. Environmental extremist luddites who’d like to ban nearly every new source of power other than windmills and solar panels say they just want clean water & air. They’re so far out of the mainstream that they can’t be honest about their agenda. That’s why the left seems so negative and bereft of ideas these days, they don’t dare tell you what they really want to do.
Ben Murnane: Who annoys you most on the Left?
John Hawkins: There are of course a lot of people to choose from, but Jimmy Carter would probably top the list. Here’s a guy who was perhaps the worst President of the century. He neglected the military, destroyed the economy, gave away the Panama Canal, & didn’t even have the most basic grasp of foreign affairs. Yet, now that we’re in a war on terrorism, he’s giving speeches left and right and telling the world what America should be doing. Carter should stick to things that he’s good at, building houses, gladhanding dictators, that sort of thing. He should leave the foreign policy to people who have better instincts for it than he does — which is just about everyone from the people working the cash registers at Walmart on up.
Ben Murnane: Is there anyone on the right who you find particularly infuriating?
John Hawkins: Pat Buchanan really gets on my nerves because of the unworkable 1930s style of Paleoconservatism that he advocates. He’s an isolationist, for protectionism, constantly uses anti-semitic rhetoric, and most of time you can’t tell the difference between him and Robert Fisk when he’s talking about the war. I can’t believe someone as far out of the Conservative mainstream as Buchanan still gets his own TV show.
Ben Murnane: You once said, I think, that politics shouldn’t be a career, and that there should be limits on how much time politicians can spend in office. Why do you feel this is important?
John Hawkins: Because of incumbency and gerrymandering, politics really can be a lifetime job — especially in the House. Theoretically, these people can be voted out of office, but it’s almost impossible to do that because some districts that are drawn so that they’re either 80%-90% Republican or Democrat. If you’re in a district like that and you vote the way the head honchos in the Party tell you too, you have an excellent chance of staying in Congress until you decide to retire or until you get so old that the vultures think you’re dead snatch you away from your aides. The longer you stay in office without really having to worry about reelection, the longer you have to become lazy, corrupt, and out of touch with the voters. That’s bad for Democracy.
Ben Murnane: Why do you take an interest in politics?
John Hawkins: Why do some people take an interest in doing crossword puzzles or reading Mystery novels? It’s just something I enjoy discussing.
Ben Murnane: What are the issues which you feel most strongly about and why?
John Hawkins: I believe we need to keep aggressively prosecuting the war on terrorism. Safeguarding our country from outside threats is the most important thing our government does. I’d also love to see a balanced budget amendment to force the government to get spending under control. Long-term, I’m not sure there’s another way to get that done. Then give me a flat tax to help keep our economy humming long term & school vouchers to get our schools up to snuff, and I think America would be in good shape for a long time to come.
Ben Murnane: Is there any aspect of Bush Administration policy that you disagree with?
John Hawkins: While I like what Bush has done overall, I do disagree with W. on more than a few issues. I thought steel tariffs were a mistake, I want the assault weapons ban lifted, & I’m strongly against amnesty for illegal aliens. Furthermore, I didn’t support the faith based initiative, expanding Americorp, and I was strongly against the unconstitutional Campaign Finance Reform that Bush signed. Because of the way it’s structured, the current “Roadmap to Peace” is a waste of time that can’t possibly succeed. There are probably more things I could come up with if necessary…
Ben Murnane: How do you feel the ‘War on Terror’ should proceed following the victory in Iraq?
John Hawkins: I’d like to see us help the Iranian people overthrow the mullahs while we simultaneously force Syria to round up Hizbollah. In North Korea, I believe we can cut a deal to get them out of the nuke business. However, under no circumstances should we allow them to start selling nuclear weapons to the highest bidder. Better war than that. We also need to force Saudi Arabia to crush the Al-Qaeda supporters they’re coddling as well as the mullahs who are exporting their radical agenda. Meanwhile, we have to go after Al-Qaeda all over the world and we need to be prepared to go to war again if necessary. We have a lot of balls in the air right now and it’s probably going to be that way for a few more years
Ben Murnane: Is there any Democrat who you feel might be a serious contender for the Presidency next year, or do you think it will be a walkover for Bush?
John Hawkins: Either Hillary Clinton or Al Gore could easily win the nomination if they chose to run and both of them have stepped aside. What does that tell you? Exactly, Bush is going to be tough to beat. Of course, he could still lose and I think Lieberman would be his toughest opponent. Lieberman is a hawk, he’s serious about the war on terrorism, and he comes across as moderate on Domestic issues. That doesn’t mean he would win, but he’d be much tougher than a certain loser like Howard Dean or John Kerry. Both of them are Michael Dukakis redux. Gephardt or Edwards would be tougher than either one of those guys, but I don’t think either man has what it takes to become President.
Ben Murnane: Are you a heart or a head person?
John Hawkins: I’m right out of the Mr. Spock school of Vulcan logic so I’d definitely be a head person.
Ben Murnane: Is the glass half full or half empty?
John Hawkins: I’d say half full for anyone who lives in America.
Ben Murnane: Who would you most like to have breakfast with?
John Hawkins: Mariah Carey as long it was breakfast in bed.
Ben Murnane: Who has influenced you the most?
John Hawkins: Other than the standard and boring answers (parents and grandparents), I’d say Rush Limbaugh. He definitely had a role in shaping the way I think and write.
Ben Murnane: Name a person (or persons) you admire. Why?
John Hawkins: Ron Reagan. When he came into office our military was weak, the Soviet Union was strong, our economy was a disaster, and some people thought the United States was in decline. By the time he left office, our military was incredibly powerful and growing stronger, the Soviets were on their last legs, our economy had started an almost two decade long growth spurt (with just a few blips) and we were about to become the only super power. If you look at the wealth America has, the dominance of the American military and all the free nations in Eastern Europe, Reagan deserves a good bit of the credit for that.
Ben Murnane: Name a favourite song. Why?
John Hawkins: ”Just Like Heaven” by the Cure. It’s a beautiful song from a beautiful album.
Ben Murnane: Name a favourite book. Why?
John Hawkins: I thoroughly enjoyed P.J. O’Rourke’s “All The Trouble In The World”. It was funny and more educational than you’d think. Too bad PJ isn’t cranking out the books like he used too.
Ben Murnane: Name a favourite film. Why?
John Hawkins: My personal fave is “Braveheart”. Gibson is my favorite actor, the battle scenes were excellent, and the plot was great.