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Posts Tagged ‘libertarian’

Not your father’s Republican Party

Posted by Richard on October 29, 2010

A month ago, Vice President Joe Biden, who always seems to know the wrong thing to say and then says it, uttered my favorite quote from this election season:

This is not your father’s Republican Party. This is the Republican Tea Party, no this is a different deal, guys. This is not Bob Dole. This is not Howard Baker.

No doubt the silver-tongued Biden intended that as a dire warning, a wake-up call to his troops. But I’ll bet that millions of Americans reacted with a grin and thought, “I sure hope he’s right!” I know I did.

Recently, Dick Morris affirmed Biden’s point and expanded on it (emphasis added):

A fundamental change is gripping the Republican grass roots as they animate the GOP surge to a major victory in the 2010 elections. No longer do evangelical or social issues dominate the Republican ground troops. Now economic and fiscal issues prevail. The Tea Party has made the Republican Party safe for libertarians.

There is still a litmus test for admission to the Republican Party. But no longer is it dominated by abortion, guns and gays. Now, keeping the economy free of government regulation, reducing taxation and curbing spending are the chemicals that turn the paper pink.

It is one of the fundamental planks in the Tea Party platform that the movement does not concern itself with social issues. At the Tea Parties, evangelical pro-lifers rub shoulders happily with gay libertarians. They are united by their anger at Obama’s economic policies, fear of his deficits and horror at his looming tax increases. Obama’s agenda has effectively removed the blocks that stopped tens of millions of social moderates from joining the GOP.

Read the whole thing. I sure hope he’s right!

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More conservatives ready to drop social issues

Posted by Richard on June 20, 2010

On Thursday, in an appearance on Fox News with Rep. Ron Paul, Sarah Palin described marijuana as a "minimal problem" that police shouldn't devote scarce resources to. Although opposing legalization because of "the kids," she said:

“If somebody's gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody any harm, then perhaps there are other things our cops should be looking at to engage in and try to clean up some of the other problems we have in society.”

On Friday, Power Line's Paul Mirengoff reported on some Washington appearances by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who Mirengoff thinks is "well worth a look" for the 2012 presidential nomination: 

Daniels is pitching the notion that we may need a truce in divisive culture war controversies in order to deal with "survival issues" such as terrorism and debt. But Michael Gerson argues that Daniels is being naïve here. He asks: "Just how would avoiding fights on unrelated social issues make Democratic legislators more likely to vote for broad budget cuts and drastic entitlement reforms?"

Clearly, avoiding such fights would not produce that result. But it might well enable Republicans to become and remain more popular with moderate voters. And this, in turn, might give Republicans the majorities necessary to implement budget cuts and entitlement reforms.

Fellow Power Line blogger John Hinderaker (who, like Mirengoff, seems far from libertarian) added this (emphasis added):

Over the last couple of decades, countless media/political voices have urged Republicans to abandon social conservatism on political grounds, i.e., the need to appeal to upscale suburbanites. This has always struck me as odd, since the social issues have consistently represented a net gain for Republicans–which is why, I assume, liberal commentators are so anxious for Republicans to abandon them. So in the past, my view has always been that Republican and conservative politicians should keep the social issues as one leg of the proverbial three-legged stool.

The present moment, however, represents a departure. It may well be that a consensus exists in favor of reduced federal spending and economic power that dwarfs any plurality on the social issues. So should conservative candidates forget about abortion, gay marriage and so on? The answer depends, obviously, on the particular district in question.

In general, though, it strikes me as a matter of emphasis. I do think that we are in a moment where conservatives should emphasize constitutional government and reduced spending first, and national security second; social issues third, if at all.

As we stare into the economic abyss described by Arthur Laffer, more and more conservatives seem willing to at least declare a "truce" on social issues. The Tea Party movement has deliberately and explicitly elected to set aside divisive social issues like abortion and gay marriage, and focus instead on the economic and fiscal crises facing our country. That's a good thing, I think.

I bet November proves me right. 

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Lady sings the news

Posted by Richard on April 30, 2009

Over 900,000 people have watched Anne McKinney's marvelous YouTube video, "Ballad of Timothy Geithner." If you haven't seen it, here's your chance. Enjoy!

"They're writing laws on income tax, but not for me…"


Here's McKinney's latest (only 12,000 views so far), "That's Pelosi!"

[YouTube link]

I think I'm in love.

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Unraveling Ron Paul

Posted by Richard on January 17, 2008

I subscribe to both The New Individualist and Reason. Each magazine features a cover story on Ron Paul in their latest issue. The former has a scathing critique (by blogger Stephen Green), while the latter's article is almost hagiographic. I thought about comparing and contrasting the two, but didn't get around to it. Had I done so, I'd have sided mostly with Green, although I thought he overstated the case against Paul a bit.

It no longer matters. Green's criticisms have pretty much taken a back seat to last week's New Republic story about the racist and hate-filled writings in a Ron Paul newsletter from 1989 through the early 90s. Really ugly stuff. Paul denied writing any of it, which is apparently true, and claimed he knew nothing about it, which is pretty hard to believe.

I guess I was just about the only libertarian who didn't know about Paul's long association with Llewellyn Rockwell, editor of that newsletter and probable author of much of the vile material (see this Reason article). Lew Rockwell is scum, IMHO, and crazy to boot — the libertarian movement's combination of David Duke and Lyndon LaRouche. Even though his Ludwig von Mises Institute hosts some useful resources, especially in the field of economics, I long ago stopped visiting either it or Rockwell's blog (I'm not going to link to them). 

For everything you need to know about the whole sordid tale, read the Reason article linked in the preceding paragraph and Bob Bidinotto's fine post about the controversy (which also gives you a chance to see the provocative TNI cover illustration of Paul). 

Also, read Bidinotto's earlier post about the TNI article, to which he's appended a very interesting short essay that explains why he holds candidates promoting a philosophy/ideology (like Paul or Kucinich) to a different standard than "pragmatic careerists."

I'm not entirely persuaded. Bidinotto argues that "Philosophical ideas are much more basic, powerful, and important" than the pragmatic policy proposals of most politicians, and thus can do much more good or harm. But isn't the rejection of principles/ideology and the embrace of pragmatism itself a powerful idea that does much harm?

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Libertarian BDS

Posted by Richard on October 25, 2007

Last week, I noted yet another bad case of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS): in the run-up to the SCHIP veto override vote, California Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark declared that we're sending troops to Iraq "to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement" and that "Bush just likes to blow things up."

A couple of days ago, under pressure from his own party and facing censure for violating House rules, Stark apologized. That greatly upset the anti-war crowd, including at least some libertarian elements. Megan McArdle noted that "anti-war libertarian flirtation with the Democratic party may be even shorter than I expected," to which commenter Paul Zrimsek replied wickedly: 

There's literally dozens of votes down the drain. And all to appease maybe a few million people who believe Congressmen shouldn't behave like jerks.

McArdle's post linked to an angry rant by Jim Henley at the libertarian Unqualified Offerings (emphasis added):

Here’s the thing to realize: Pete Stark is a powerful guy. I won’t argue that he’s one of the Secret Masters of the World or anything, but California’s most senior Congressman, ranking member on some powerful committees, has a lot more status and access than you or I do.

And his own party leadership joined their supposed minority opposition in rolling Pete Stark in his own shit. The message is clear. Whatever you want to call it – The War Party, the Beltway Consensus, the institutional structure of contemporary American politics, the Movement, whatever – will not brook consequential dissent. Individual congressmen aren’t that consequential, but they matter a lot more than anyone blogging.

“There are five thousand people in the world,” Mr. Van Arkady told Lauren Slaughter. The rest of the story is devoted to her discovery that she is not one of them. The last thing he tells her is, “You can still be killed.” Pete Stark probably isn’t one of the five thousand either. But he knows some of them. He’s too close to get away with loose talk. And he can still be killed, though it rarely comes to that, because it doesn’t have to.

If you like that over-the-top expression of BDS, check out some of the 100 or so comments, including this gem from co-blogger Thoreau:

So what’s in the file that they showed him? Dead girl? Live boy? Or is it just surveillance footage of his family, followed by statistics on brake failures in the model car that his kid drives? Or a document showing some problems on a tax return, followed by data on prison rape?

These people are not just deranged, they're remarkably stupid, too. Why would the Republicans coerce Stark into apologizing? Crazed, offensive remarks like that by your opponents are a gift that keeps on giving — for fundraising, motivating your base, putting other Democrats on the spot, … Republicans were probably hoping that Stark would make more such outrageous statements.

Later, after feeling the wrath of McArdle's "minions," Thoreau (and then Henley) walked it back a bit, acknowledging that Stark's apology wasn't necessarily coerced by Republican physical threats or blackmail (heck, it could have been Democratic threats or blackmail — they're all part of the same "ruling consensus"). But in acknowledging that he may have been "too paranoid," Thoreau tossed off the phrase "if both parties view it as beyond the pale to call the Emperor for what he is" — thus asserting that Stark was "speaking truth to power" when he claimed that soldiers die and things are blown up for Bush's amusement.

If that's not a serious outbreak of BDS, I don't know what is. I don't even want to venture into the comments accompanying those two newer posts. 

I can certainly sympathize with the plight of Stephen Green, who tore up his Libertarian Party membership card without finding anything with which to replace it.

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GOP fundraising surprise

Posted by Richard on July 7, 2007

I haven't paid a lot of attention to the 2008 presidential race yet. Maybe I'm just being an old fuddy-duddy, but I think the 2008 election campaign belongs in 2008. So I've studiously avoided watching any of the already numerous "debates" the two major parties have held, and what I know of the various campaigns is pretty much limited to what I hear on a newscast or see when skimming the headline news stories.

But yesterday, Doug Mataconis at The Liberty Papers pointed out a bit of political news that caught my attention: The Ron Paul campaign has more money in the bank than John McCain. In terms of campaign cash, Paul is in third place (albeit a distant third) behind Giuliani and Romney.

It wasn't that long ago that many "experts" considered McCain practically a shoe-in for the nomination. Now, his campaign seems to be in free-fall. Good. I've never liked McCain, who's always struck me as an authoritarian at heart with a bullying and vindictive streak. And the Incumbency Protection Act, a.k.a. McCain-Feingold, is just one his many sins that I can't forgive. 

I have mixed feelings about Ron Paul's relative success. I'd sure like to see him promote a return to small-government Republicanism and spark a revival of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. But I'm afraid he's spending most of his time and money talking about Iraq, because that's what gets him news coverage and attracts eager volunteers.

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Ron Paul vs. sane libertarianism

Posted by Richard on May 18, 2007

I didn't watch the last Republican debate (or the first, for that matter), but I've seen the video of Ron Paul saying 9/11 was America's fault for bombing Iraq. I'd like to point out that although Paul's perspective is admired by quite a few libertarians (and quite a few 9/11 Truthers), there are also plenty of libertarians who dispute his explanation.

 I think Paul's "analysis" is shallow and ahistorical. It's rooted in ignorance of the origins and nature of the Islamists, and it's woefully ignorant of the breadth of Islamist violence. For a much deeper libertarian analysis of why the Islamic fascists hate us, I recommend Mark Humphrys. For a powerful statement of why we must fight, see anarchist libertarian Eric Raymond's Anti-Idiotarian Manifesto (also linked at right). For some evidence that Islamofascist rage is not just aimed at America and is not just about our intervention in Iraq, see here and here and here and here … and a score of other places I don't have time to link to.

According to Nathan Nelson at RedState, one libertarian — former Paul campaign coordinator Eric Dondero — was so disgusted by Paul's blame America riff that he decided to run against Paul for his congressional seat. Nelson approved:

Back when I was in the process of leaving the Democratic Party and deciding whether or not to become a Republican, Eric Dondero commented on my old blog and left me information about Republican libertarianism. This information was a major factor in my decision to indeed leave the Democratic Party and become a Republican. To this day, I consider myself a Republican who seeks to balance conservatism and libertarianism. I don't believe that these two ideological systems are mutually exclusive, nor do I believe that either system is incompatible with the Republican Party. I think that Republican libertarians are a valuable part of our coalition and will only become more valuable in the years to come, because libertarianism is growing and our party can grow with it.

With that said, Congressman Ron Paul is like a sore on the behind of Republican libertarianism. He makes it seem as though Republican libertarianism is nothing more than Buchananesque defeatism and isolationism. Eric Dondero is a positive alternative to Ron Paul: unabashedly Republican, unabashedly conservative, unabashedly libertarian, and unabashedly willing to balance these three systems. Perhaps most importantly, he is unabashedly willing to vote in favor of defending our country. He is a better choice for Texas' 14th District and for America.

Dondero is a founder of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has a website called Mainstream Libertarians and a blog called Libertarian Republican. Check them out.

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Paul takes plunge, Thompson touted

Posted by Richard on March 13, 2007

A couple of months ago, Representative Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican from Texas, set up an exploratory committee for a Presidential run. Apparently, the explorations unearthed quite a bit of money and support — enough to persuade him to go ahead:

HOUSTON – Ron Paul, a nine-term Texas congressman who describes himself as a lifelong libertarian, announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination Monday.

Appearing on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," Paul said he was at first reluctant to run, but that "a lot of people want to hear my message and I'm willing to deliver it."

Paul, who formed an exploratory committee in January, said he has raised more than $500,000 in the past month "with very little effort."

If Paul's campaign message is "Let's return the GOP to its limited-government roots," I'm on board. If I hear a lot of emphasis on "ending Yankee imperialism" and "opposing the BushHitler police state," so that he's virtually indistinguishable from the MoveOn nutroots crowd — then count me out. 

Meanwhile, former Senator Fred Thompson is merely thinking about exploring, but that's got a lot of conservative Republicans excited. Check out the enthusiastic comments on Doug Mataconis' post about a Thompson candidacy. 

If talk of Thompson entering the race suggests that McCain is fading, I think it's good news. The fact that Howard Baker and Bill Frist are promoting Thompson isn't exactly a plus in my book, but they're fellow Tennesseans with long-standing personal and professional relationships. It doesn't necessarily mean much policy-wise. My recollection of Thompson as a Senator is pretty vague, but fairly positive — likewise, his work as a prosecutor and role in Watergate.

I suspect that a lot of the grass-roots enthusiasm for a Thompson candidacy stems from one simple fact: Republicans remember how well they did the last time they nominated an actor. 

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New Stossel special tonight

Posted by Richard on November 30, 2006

Here’s a heads-up for fans of ABC News 20/20 host John Stossel (and if you’re not a fan yet, here’s an opportunity to become one): Stossel’s new 20/20 special, Cheap in America, is airing tonight at 10 PM Eastern Time (9 Central and Mountain, 8 Pacific) on your local ABC station:

John Stossel looks at the state of charity in the U.S. Who gives and who doesn’t? Some surprising answers, plus why doing good deeds can be good for your health.

Here’s a teaser from the findings: the average conservative-headed household earns 6% less, but gives 30% more than the average liberal-headed household.

By the way, a book or video by the informative, entertaining, and very libertarian Stossel would make a great Christmas gift for someone — maybe even yourself!

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New freedom quiz

Posted by Richard on June 23, 2006

The Orange County Register, America’s most libertarian general-circulation newspaper, came up with a new test you can take to determine how libertarian or authoritarian you are. They call it the freedom IQ test. It consists of 20 questions, and they’re more detailed, specific, and much more verbose than the 10 questions in the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, which the Advocates for Self-Government have been circulating for more than 20 years now.

Where do you fit?The Advocates’ quiz strikes me as the superior tool, though, in several respects. For one, it distinguishes between economic and personal liberty, and it places people on a two-dimensional political map (that’s it to the right) that’s far superior to the traditional one-dimensional left-right axis. For another, the Advocates’ quiz has many years of research and refinement of the questions behind it, and political scientists have demonstrated that it’s remarkably accurate.

Since 1985, when Marshall Fritz took David Nolan’s two-dimensional political map, added 10 questions to determine where you fit, and squeezed the whole thing onto the two sides of a business card, the Advocates have distributed over 7 million printed quizzes. More than 4 million people have taken the quiz on the web since it went on line in 1995.

But, hey — the OC Register’s freedom IQ test is fun and interesting, too. Check them both out.

(HT: LP Blog)

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Colorado LP jumps the shark

Posted by Richard on April 7, 2006

I was going through the past few days’ mail tonight, and there was the March Colorado Liberty. On page 5, I noticed an ad for a Denver event on March 31 — hmm, bad timing on somebody’s part — called Critical Analysis: 9-11. Well, shucks, I missed it. So I didn’t get to hear Morgan Reynolds of and Don Paul of present evidence that:

  • Airliners weren’t hijacked and flown into buildings on 9/11, and the government faked all those cell phone calls from people on the planes.
  • Autopsies (!) proved there were no Arabs on Flight 77 (you know — the plane that wasn’t hijacked and didn’t fly into the Pentagon).
  • The WTC towers were destroyed by professional demolition involving scores of people precisely placing thousands of explosive charges over a period of weeks.
  • Guiliani was in on it.
  • So were the CIA, MI6, Mossad, Bush, Cheney, the NY Port Authority, the Rockefeller family, international bankers and financiers, the handful of plutocrats who control all the oil and defense industry corporations — I could go on, but what’s the point?

Really, you ought to visit the Critical Analysis: 9-11 web site. Notice that they’re proud to have Ed Asner and Charlie Sheen on their side. Click some of the links they provide for additional information about the 9/11 conspiracy. You’ll discover more fascinating facts: Britain’s MI6 secretly controls and funds al Qaeda, the captured Saddam is a fake, the London bombings were staged by the Blair government, …

Then ponder this: Critical Analysis: 9-11 is a project organized and financed by Rand Fanshier and some of his Libertarian friends. Rand had a column in the Colorado Liberty adjacent to the ad. In it, he described how he became convinced there was a conspiracy:

Then I did the math. An elementary momentum analysis, using a spreadsheet and data and formulas I checked and double-checked with my own hand, proved beyond any doubt that the WTC towers could not have fallen by damage or fires alone—that they were demolished. The implications were obvious; regardless of how implausible, some alphabet agencies—or people in their employ—at the Federal, State and local levels actually were instrumental in the murders of all those people and the destruction of so much property.

But I have continued doing my job in the LP here at the state level, for years, pushing back here in Colorado at the misuse of government power in so many little ways. All the time also pushing back in my mind the reality that these little things make no difference in a country that has essentially just had a coup d’etat, where the leadership doesn’t protect the people but kills them for geo-political utility.

So, despite the hopelessness of it all, Rand’s still doing his job for the Colorado Libertarian Party. What is his job? Why, he’s on the Board of Directors. In fact, he’s the Outreach Director.

Ponder the irony of that for a moment. To promote the LP among the vast horde of Republican, Democratic, and independent Coloradans, to convince them to take the LP seriously and not dismiss us as fringe kooks, to persuade them to consider becoming Libertarians, the Colorado LP relies on Rand "there were no Muslim terrorists, Bush/Cheney did it" Fanshier.

I believe this is compelling evidence that the Colorado Libertarian Party has jumped the shark (definition 3).

UPDATE: Check out also Libercontrarian’s excellent remarks on this subject, which predate mine by 6 days. Apparently, Nick’s Colorado Liberty was delivered earlier than mine, and he read it right away. He’s already officially left the LP.

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