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More Ron Paul Fallout:

Sensible comments, with which I largely agree, from David Boaz of Cato, former VC contributor Jacob Levy, Prof. Steven Horwitz, Prof. Glen Whitman, "Rightwatch", and Tim Sandefur.

The consensus is, basically, that libertarianism needs to more aggressively disassociate itself from right-wing fringe loonies who use libertarianism as a mask to disguise other agendas, or who support libertarianism only because they adhere to some bizarre conspiracy theory or other involving the federal government. Those of us who long ago (as I did) made a decision not to associate with the creepy-paleocons-disguising themselves-as-libertarians in the Lew Rockwell circle--Rockwell being, among other things, the primary suspect as the author of the offensive passages in Ron Paul's newsletters, though he denied it to the New Republic's James Kirchik--need to exert peer pressure on our libertarian friends to follow suit.

Speaking of which, why would otherwise respectable libertarians such as Doug Bandow and Alan Bock write for, and allow themselves to be listed as columnists for, Justin Raimondo's Antiwar.com? Raimondo, one might recall, is best-known for such illuminating commentary as, "If we observe how we were lied into war with Iraq, and by whom, the whole affair looks more like an Israeli covert operation by the day" (and read the whole thing, not to mention his bizarre book, to get the full flavor). Perhaps it's not just elements of the Left that became unhinged by the Iraq War.

UPDATE: The Economist's Democracy in America blog reports:

according to numerous veterans of the libertarian movement, it was an open secret during the late-80s and early-90s who was ghostwriting the portions of Mr Paul's newsletters not penned by the congressman himself: Lew Rockwell, founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and members of his staff, among them Jeffrey Tucker, now editorial vice president of the Institute. Mr Rockwell denied authorship to Jamie Kirchick, the reporter whose New Republic article published earlier this week reignited controversy over the newsletters. But both Mr Rockwell (who attacked the New Republic article on his site) and Mr Tucker refused to discuss the matter with Democracy in America.

Just Dropping By (mail):
Speaking of which, why would otherwise respectable libertarians such as Doug Bandow and Alan Bock write for, and allow themselves to be listed as columnists for, Justin Raimondo's Antiwar.com?

Because unlike a number of phony self-styled "libertarians", they actually support the non-agression principle?
1.11.2008 6:09pm
happylee:
Illuminating. I long ago decided not to associate with creepy neocons who believe we can bomb our way to lovability in the world, and especially in the middle east. And Lew Rockwell has done more for the advancement of libertarian ideas than Boaz or Cato ever has or will.
1.11.2008 6:14pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I didn't ask about why they are anti war (though I don't think libertarianism has much to say about foreign policy, beyond try to avoid war and encourage trade), but why they write for Antiwar.com.
1.11.2008 6:15pm
Anderson (mail):
And Lew Rockwell has done more for the advancement of libertarian ideas than Boaz or Cato ever has or will.

By associating them with racism and homophobia?

Guess it's all in how one defines "advancement."
1.11.2008 6:17pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Is it at least fair to argue that if America takes aggressive action against Iran that that too benefits Israel, just as it did taking out Saddam Hussein and committing American troops to the region indefinitely?

What was AIPAC's position on Saddam and his financing of Palestinian suicide bombers anyway?
1.11.2008 6:18pm
davidbernstein (mail):
GA, you don't see the differnce between arguing that Israel benefited from the taking out of Saddam (pretty clear, and perfectly respectable), arguing that Israel encouraged the U.S. to take out Saddam (debatable, because Israel gave mixed signals on this, but still respectable if argued in "normal" terms), and arguing that the U.S. was led into the Iraq War by "an Israeli covert operation?" And if you do see the difference, don't try to hijack the thread, please.

As for AIPAC, they were against Saddam financing Palestinian suicide bombers. So, I take it, was the entire American military and diplomatic establishment to the extent the issue reached their attention. Was there some sentiment in favor of this financing that AIPAC had to overcome? Or am I ruining your rhetorical tactic of switching between "Israel" and "AIPAC" as if they are one and the same, and implying that they collectively dominate U.S. policymaking?
1.11.2008 6:27pm
Waldensian (mail):

Perhaps it's not just elements of the Left that became unhinged by the Iraq War.

What was your first clue?
1.11.2008 6:33pm
Kazinski:
I think there is just a predilection of those that are prone to crazy conspiricy theories, to to latch onto anti-semeitc conspiricies as a matter of course. There is no doubt that Jews are more widely represented in the academic, and entertainment industries and at least used to be concentrated in finance, though I'm not sure that is true any longer. Why not come up with some conspiricies to fit the those facts?

If we invaded Pakistan, I'm sure some people would start blaming the motel lobby.
1.11.2008 6:48pm
Frater Plotter:
The question here seems to be:

Should we join with people who support our policy goals (limited government) but for reasons we don't like?

Or should we join with people who claim to share our principles (liberty) but oppose the policies that we consider necessary to enact those principles?

We can have an ideological circle-jerk with people who claim to like liberty but actually support big intrusive government ... or we can work with people who want to limit the size of government, even if their motives for doing so are not admirable.
1.11.2008 6:53pm
neurodoc:
Perhaps it's not just elements of the Left that became unhinged by the Iraq War.
On their way to becoming unhinged, and once they are there, do they differ according to their ideological starting points or do those starting points not matter much?

When it is antisemitism/anti-Zionism, I do think they go about it differently according to their ideological starting points and that they wind up in somewhat different places (e.g., more "racial" and screwball antisemitism on the Right, more "political" and calculated antisemitism on the Left, hence the claimed "anti-Zionist" distinction).
1.11.2008 7:02pm
talboito (mail) (www):
...or who support libertarianism only because they adhere to some bizarre conspiracy theory or other involving the federal government.


I believe that describes Libertarianism itself.
1.11.2008 7:10pm
formerbeltway (mail):
I long ago decided not to associate with creepy neocons who believe we can bomb our way to lovability in the world, and especially in the middle east. And Lew Rockwell has done more for the advancement of libertarian ideas than Boaz or Cato ever has or will.

Well said. Rockwell promotes a consistent libertarian position, including property rights and freedom of association (thus, as with any real libertarian, opposing crucial portions of the 1964 "Civil Rights" Act) and non-aggression in foreign policy. That makes him a "racist", "homophobe", and "kook" in the minds of the politically correct empire builders who inhabit the Beltway area. As does his opposition to the income tax, which would cut off the food source of the Beltway paycheck vampires who dominate the social lives of the Volokh crew.

No suprise at all that Paul and Rockwell are on the receiving ends of these slanders from people claiming the cachet of the label "libertarians" who have imbibed far too much of the Beltway culture to actually be able to remember what liberty is.

To portray this as a Jewish vs. anti-Semite thing reflects some sort of paranoia or slanderous intention. This is a conflict between paycheck earners and paycheck vampires, and between warmongers and cannon fodder, and there are plenty of Jews and Gentiles on both sides.
1.11.2008 7:27pm
Kent G. Budge (mail) (www):
I think that if you're going to make a pragmatic argument, the better pragmatic argument is that Ron Paul and his fringier supporters do too much harm to the image of libertarianism to deserve support. I think that's much better than joining with nutballs who coincidentally share some of your short-term aims and will support your short-term means, in favor of sane people who share some of your long-term aims but disagree with you about the means.

Actually, when you look at it that way, you might see a clue that there is something wrong with the short-term means being proposed.
1.11.2008 7:28pm
Honyocker:
I've been sending money to the Paul campaign for several months now...what I can, when I can. I like browsing the internet a bit before I donate, to read the visceral dislike for Dr. Paul and his campaign for a limited and constitutional government among the enablers of Huge Government Conservatism and a fiscally irresponsibe GOP establishment (most of the writers at National Review, right wing news, etc.) because it makes hitting the send button all the sweeter. I guess I can add the (alleged)libertarian intellectuals at the VC to my pre-donation reading.
1.11.2008 7:36pm
hattio1:
Professor Bernstein,
Can you give a little bit more of the who, what and where in regards to suspecting Lew Rockwell of writing the offensive passages of Ron Paul's newsletter?
1.11.2008 7:55pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
For starters, you can follow the link in my "who wrote..." post, former Paul aide Eric Dondero alleges there and elsewhere Rockwell wrote most of the newsletters. Virginia Postrel also fingered Rockwell as the probable author, and others have stated or implied as much.

I don't have any inside knowledge of this, but I do remember many years ago seeing solicitations for the "Rockwell Rothbard Report" (or was it Rothbard-Rockwell) that went out their way to apologize for the fact that one of the authors (Rothbard) was a Jew (but a PRO-CHRISTIAN Jew, mind you!)
1.11.2008 8:03pm
jim47:
What is the deal with the Von Mises institute. It seems like everything I ever notice coming out of it is sketchy confederacy-loving stuff. Am I just seeing the wrong stuff? Am I somehow misinterpreting it? Or is there something about that place that is deeply anathema to libertarianism?
1.11.2008 8:44pm
Honyocker:
Just sent twenty five dollars to the Paul campaign....felt good.
1.11.2008 8:52pm
happylee:
jim47: check out www.mises.org and be amazed.
1.11.2008 9:00pm
LM (mail):

Perhaps it's not just elements of the Left that became unhinged by the Iraq War.


What was your first clue?

Better late than never.
1.11.2008 9:08pm
PersonFromPorlock:
DB, are you sure your mental image of libertarians outside your social circle isn't drawn from Doonsbury's character "Duke?"
1.11.2008 9:12pm
Steven Horwitz (mail) (www):
For what it's worth:

1. I oppose the war.
2. I live more than 500 miles away from the beltway
3. I do not work for a government institution or lobby group
4. And I still think the Paul-Rockwell-paleo crowd has done more damage to libertarianism than good.

Sorry to disappoint those who can only respond to David and others by engaging in ad hominems. Not only is that the last resort of those on the losing side, the particulars of the argument don't even apply.

There's nothing in it for me but my commitment to a peaceful, tolerant, and welcoming version of libertarianism.
1.11.2008 9:15pm
Cmon Now (mail) (www):
Thucydides didn't like democrats, Pharisees didn't like Jesus, Catholics didn't like St Francis, the Founding fathers didn't like Paine, GOP doesn't like Huckabee, etc. etc. Popularizing messengers are always too loose with the creed, too warty and earthy, too unschooled in the jargon to satisfy the self described keepers of ideological purity. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end

The academics certainly have their place, but as Prof. Becker wrote: "colleges and universities select for people who are comfortable in a quasi-socialistic working environment. Virtually all colleges and universities in the United States are either public or nonprofit, there is usually salary compression within fields, tenure shields professors from the rigors of labor-market competition, and professorial compensation substitutes fringe benefits (such as tenure), leisure, and other nonpecuniary income for high salaries." A person from that world just can't formulate a winning strategy in the ultra-competitive political fray or when they insert themselves into the sausage factory where policy is made. Ron Paul comes along and in a few months advances the libertarian standard more than 10,000 policy papers and blog posts, and the ivory tower's little echo chamber is in bedlam.

Also, Judge Posner wrote, "Despite their formal commitment to open debate, academics, like other people, do not like to be criticized or otherwise challenged." Paul is not the creedal libertarian the academics like, and so they have to reclaim ownership.

I think that professional bias is more in play than some concern over decades old paper that has been repeatedly rejected by Paul.
1.11.2008 9:17pm
Mark Bahner (www):
And Lew Rockwell has done more for the advancement of libertarian ideas than Boaz or Cato ever has or will.


Certainly not if he wrote those newsletters!

Ayn Rand was absolutely correct about bigotry. It's completely antithetical to libertarianism. Bigotry views people collectively, rather than individually.

The piece by David Boaz was excellent.
1.11.2008 9:19pm
Doc W (mail):
So--Ron Paul was publishing a newsletter years ago, one of many activities, and he had other people running it and writing for it and putting it out. And he didn't pay enough attention to what they were writing. And some truly objectionable stuff got in. That's regrettable.

But apparently he didn't write it. Nobody thinks it sounds like him. I heard him repudiate it on Wolf Blitzer. I doubt anybody who has followed Paul over the years thinks it reflects his attitudes, that he is remotely racist.

Then there's something else. There's this goddamned family feud among libertarians that's been going on for many years and long since descended into petty, personal ridicule--the term "nutballs" comes to mind as an example. In the words of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?" Argue substantive issues civilly.

Ron Paul has been elected to Congress time and again on a remarkably consistent libertarian platform. His presidential candidacy is drawing large numbers of liberty supporters into the political process. That's something to celebrate, and like Honyocker I'm cutting him another check.

As for Eric Dondero, he goes around leaving a variety of stick-in-the-eye posts about Ron Paul on various blogs/comment boards. I wouldn't give 2 cents for his speculation on who wrote the offending newsletters or anything else relating to the Paul campaign. Postrel I don't know much about except she favors the war.
1.11.2008 9:26pm
Kazinski:
Honyocker,
Did it ever occur to you that Paul is just the dupe of an neocon conspiracy to marginalize right thinking libertarians and divert their resources harmlessly so they can't affect the real presidential contest?
1.11.2008 9:38pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Ron Paul comes along and in a few months advances the libertarian standard more than 10,000 policy papers and blog posts, and the ivory tower's little echo chamber is in bedlam.
Really? In what way did Ron Paul advance the libertarian standard? You want to explain how it's helpful to libertarianism to demonstrate that it can't get more than about 10% of the vote even when running with the branding of a major political party behind it? After Tom Tancredo ran, most of the GOP candidates moved towards his view of immigration; has Paul managed to convince any of the candidates to move towards his views on any issue?

Really, the Paul supporters here doesn't help libertarianism by acting like cult members. Either you're pure or you're an evil outsider. If you criticize the cult leader, you're an evil outsider.
1.11.2008 9:39pm
Jam:
"In what way did Ron Paul advance the libertarian standard?"

What has the Libertarian Party accomplished thus far, or any other "Court Libertarian?"

The problem is that the GOP is under the control of conservative respectables. It is painfully obvious that now we have libertarian respectables.

As long as all that strict constitutionalism stuff remained in the rhetorical level and not anywhere close to implementation, all was well and we were tolerated.

By all means, respectability above principle, or accomplishing something.
1.11.2008 10:19pm
Mark Bahner (www):
Really? In what way did Ron Paul advance the libertarian standard? You want to explain how it's helpful to libertarianism to demonstrate that it can't get more than about 10% of the vote even when running with the branding of a major political party behind it?


Ron Paul has advanced libertarianism by introducing more young people to the ideas of libertarianism than any politician in the last 30+ years. (And the number is probably closer to 100+ years.)

He has proved that a candidate running on a libertarian platform can raise some serious money...and virtually all of that in small donations.
1.11.2008 10:20pm
Steven Horwitz (mail) (www):
It is not so clear to me that Paul's platform was "libertarian," which is part of the point the critics are raising. It had strong libertarian elements to it, but it also had some positions that were not so libertarian at all.
1.11.2008 10:23pm
Jam:
As to whether the war is a result of "Israeli covert operation." I have no idea but it's like it has never happened or been attempted before by governments other than Israel, right? And Israel is as pure as the white driven snow. Israel is morally incapable of doing such a deed, even if in their best interest! Israel would not even spy on us, would they?
1.11.2008 10:26pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Paul's CNN clip responding to the racism concerns was not very effective (hint: don't first claim to see all people as individuals, then refer several times to "the blacks"), but it was actually quite heartening to see him vigorously (and emotionally) denouncing the drug war. It's one of the few appearances of his in mainstream media that I've seen in which he sounded specifically libertarian, and not just like a Pat Buchanan conservative with a particular disdain for the IRS.
1.11.2008 10:30pm
Jam:
And when discussing Dr. Paul one must remember that he speaks from the context of Federal jurisdiction. That is where is accepts the libertarian moniker. What he would advance within a State's jurisdiction is a question for which I do not have an answer. I suspect that he is less than a pure liberatrian. I am OK with that since I am not a libertarian.

And yes, I support Dr. Paul.
1.11.2008 10:31pm
davidbernstein (mail):
As to whether the war is a result of "Israeli covert operation." I have no idea


Neither does Mr. Raimondo, but he knows that there is a segment of the public that is, shall we say, especially receptive to the charge, whether he has evidence or not, and he's happy to play to that constiuency.
1.11.2008 10:32pm
Mark Bahner (www):
By all means, respectability above principle, or accomplishing something.


There is no conflict between respectability and principle. Bigotry is not just unrespectable, it goes against libertarian principles, because libertarianism views people as individuals.
1.11.2008 10:33pm
Mark Bahner (www):

It is not so clear to me that Paul's platform was "libertarian," which is part of the point the critics are raising. It had strong libertarian elements to it, but it also had some positions that were not so libertarian at all.


Which of Ron Paul's positions is "not so libertarian at all?"
1.11.2008 10:35pm
Jam:
"There is no conflict between respectability and principle"

Agree, but when respectability is above principle we get the current GOP establishment.
1.11.2008 10:37pm
frankcross (mail):
Ron Paul is not a libertarian. Not remotely. Any man who thinks the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states, thereby enabling them to suppress speech, take property, imprison without rights, cannot have standing as a libertarian, in my book.

He is a man who likes the world of the first have of the 19th Century. That overlaps with libertarianism, so he can spin it.
1.11.2008 10:46pm
Mark Bahner (www):
Agree, but when respectability is above principle we get the current GOP establishment.


Oh. I guess I didn't think the current GOP establishment had either respectability or principle. ;-) (I guess that's why I was a Libertarian...at least until North Carolina decertified the Libertarian Party.)
1.11.2008 10:48pm
Mark Bahner (www):
Ron Paul is not a libertarian. Not remotely. Any man who thinks the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states, thereby enabling them to suppress speech, take property, imprison without rights, cannot have standing as a libertarian, in my book.


The simple fact is that the Bill of Rights did NOT apply to the states. It is only through the Fourteenth Amendment that the Bill of Rights may apply to the states. And that is a really tough and debatable proposition, since many of the rights in the Bill of Rights are absolute...e.g., the First Amendment's requirement that "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech..."
1.11.2008 10:53pm
Mark Bahner (www):
Another thing about Ron Paul: He was the Presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 1988. I can pretty much guarantee you that all people who are nominated as Presidential candidates by the Libertarian Party are libertarians.
1.11.2008 11:08pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Frank, I think one can be a libertarian and think the BofR doesn't apply to the states, so long as you think that the rights protected by the BofR should be protected by the states. RP has been very cagey about whether, e.g., he thinks drugs should be legal, or he just takes a "constitutionalist" position that the federal drug war is unconstitutional, thereby appealing to both libertarians and states righters.
1.11.2008 11:18pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Impeach Earl Warren!'

What goes around comes around, I guess.

One thing I've always wondered about Libertarians -- how do they get home? It must hurt to have to drive on those public roads.
1.11.2008 11:20pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
The same way socialists buy bread.
1.11.2008 11:22pm
frankcross (mail):
David, I can't parse the details of what it means to be a libertarian. But abandoning legal protections in favor of thinking that a government should do something, doesn't strike me as a very libertarian position. I would think that libertarians mistrust government and would seek to put institutional barriers to their restriction on freedom.

Now, one could cobble together an argument that the 14th Amendment rightly understood, doesn't mean incorporation, and "I put the law above my libertarian policy preferences." Except (a) I agree with Randy Barnett that libertarianism should at least somewhat animate constitutional interpretation when straight legan answers are ambiguous and (b) I don't think Ron Paul is any sort of deep legal thinker who could analyze the incorporation doctrine carefully, addressing the various arguments. I think he just prefers states rights to individual rights.
1.11.2008 11:29pm
Mark Bahner (www):
One thing I've always wondered about Libertarians -- how do they get home? It must hurt to have to drive on those public roads.


Not if they drive in Boston. It's amazing what $15 billion (much of it federal money) can do, isn't it?

P.S. Oh...I guess they might indeed have been hurt if a ceiling panel fell on their car.
1.11.2008 11:34pm
SenatorX (mail):
There is a lot to like about Ron Paul, unfortunately there appears to be a lot to dislike too. While I will continue to enjoy watching him hound Bernanke I am afraid I have fallen into the camp of those who are seeing him as unelectable. Too bad.
1.11.2008 11:40pm
Doc W (mail):
"Paul's CNN clip responding to the racism concerns was not very effective"

When it comes to generating the politically most effective soundbite, Paul is not in the same league with the leading presidential candidates. Of course, there is little overlap between their impressive talent in that regard and any probability that they would promote liberty and limited government if elected.

"(hint: don't first claim to see all people as individuals, then refer several times to "the blacks")"

It is perfectly legitimate for Paul to point out that he has significant support from blacks, partly due to his opposition to the drug war, which has victimized blacks disproportionately. Similarly, he enjoys significant support from military personnel who are appalled by the Iraq war.

"Any man who thinks the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states, thereby enabling them to suppress speech, take property, imprison without rights, cannot have standing as a libertarian, in my book."

Look at Paul's campaign web site. He is absolutely for freedom of speech, property rights, individual rights to the max. The application of the Bill of Rights to the states is a historical, legal question. I think we should go with incorporation, but I can see his point that this is a double-edged sword. When federal courts are empowered to second-guess all state laws, there is an extent to which it undermines the whole concept of a strictly limited federal government, which was, after all, at the core of the Constitution. If a state guesses wrong, there are 49 more to choose from. If the feds guess wrong, there's no escape in this country.

As Paul himself has noted, there's a limit to what he could accomplish as president. He can bring home the troops, pardon non-violent drug offenders, veto spending bills. He can't do anything about incorporation. But if you look at how far strict constitutionalism would take us toward dismantling the welfare-warfare state, sniping at Paul's less-than-pure libertarianism is a prime example of making perfection the enemy of the very good.
1.11.2008 11:50pm
Mark Bahner (www):
But abandoning legal protections in favor of thinking that a government should do something, doesn't strike me as a very libertarian position. I would think that libertarians mistrust government and would seek to put institutional barriers to their restriction on freedom.


Frank, you didn't address this to me, but to me an absolutely key aspect of libertarianism is that governments have to follow The Law. If governments have unlimited power for good, they also have unlimited power for evil. (Because unlimited power is unlimited power.)

The Constitution was set up with the Bill of Rights only applying to the federal government. It can easily be argued that the writers and the legislators who voted for the Fourteenth Amendment had some intention to have the Bill of Rights apply to states (because the southern state governments were continuing to deny rights to blacks that the southern state governments were protecting for whites).

But the problem is that the Bill of Rights is written in such absolute terms. Do you really think it's a good idea that state governments can pass NO law abridging freedom of speech? For example, that would essentially mean that any state laws against slander were unconstitutional. Does that promote libertarianism, to have no laws against deliberately false speech that ruins peoples' reputation?

Except (a) I agree with Randy Barnett that libertarianism should at least somewhat animate constitutional interpretation when straight legal answers are ambiguous and...


Well, I don't like to debate anything so nebulous. In general, I think that when legal answers are ambiguous, more attempt should be made to eliminate ambiguity (through historical research and logic). But it would be better, in my opinion, to look at specific instances...such as that free speech issue I just mentioned. Do you really think there should be absolutely NO state laws abridging freedom of speech (e.g. even deliberately false speech that destroys a person's reputation, or cheats a person out of money)?

In my opinion, the Fourteenth Amendment is a mess. It's obvious from reading the history of it (Akhil Reed Amar has done some great work on this, though he's a bit wordy ;-))...that the writers and legislators intended to make at least some of the Bill of Rights as limitations on state governments. But they didn't make it very clear.

(b) I don't think Ron Paul is any sort of deep legal thinker who could analyze the incorporation doctrine carefully, addressing the various arguments. I think he just prefers states rights to individual rights.


I certainly agree that Ron Paul is not any sort of deep legal thinker! (He has actually written that the Constitution contains many references to God...which leads me to wonder if he has actually read the Constitution...or whether his memory is deeply flawed?)

But I think Ron Paul does understand better than most people that it is the federal government that is most dangerous to freedom at present. I certainly agree with him there. With local or state governments, one can at least move out of the locality or state...with the federal government, one must actually leave the country.
1.12.2008 12:00am
Eric Anondson (mail):
What will be kept secret longer. The list of all modern members of the International Banking Cabal or the author of Ron Paul's newsletters? Which one does Ron Paul have the power to unveil?
1.12.2008 12:00am
Mark Bahner (www):
...I am afraid I have fallen into the camp of those who are seeing him as unelectable. Too bad.


Oh, my! I don't think there was ever any doubt that he won't be nominated by the Republicans. (Let alone elected President.)
1.12.2008 12:05am
SenatorX (mail):
Good point Mark. Better I should have said I can't support him in good faith anymore.
1.12.2008 12:18am
libertythor (mail):
Help expose the wave of political spamming on IRC. The problem and its evidence has been blogged. Digg away!

Mitt Romney Spambots Attack Chat Channels
1.12.2008 12:19am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Paul's CNN clip responding to the racism concerns was not very effective (hint: don't first claim to see all people as individuals, then refer several times to "the blacks"), but it was actually quite heartening to see him vigorously (and emotionally) denouncing the drug war. It's one of the few appearances of his in mainstream media that I've seen in which he sounded specifically libertarian, and not just like a Pat Buchanan conservative with a particular disdain for the IRS.
As Radley Balko points out, it would be awfully nice if he had done that before. He's the first pseudo-credible candidate who actually opposes the War on Drugs, and instead he spends his time promoting the gold standard.
1.12.2008 12:24am
Mark Bahner (www):
Good point Mark. Better I should have said I can't support him in good faith anymore.


Well, there's always the Libertarian Party candidate. She or he will be just as libertarian as Ron Paul. He or she won't have Ron Paul's experience in government, but hopefully also won't be associated with any vile published materials.
1.12.2008 12:48am
Thoughtful (mail):
The issue is less Paul himself--of course he was never electable, and of course he is not personally a bigot. And it is not even who really wrote the articles--the articles are loathsome independent of who wrote them, and the real author's potential continued influence on Paul is only of importance if Paul was realistically a likely winner of the Presidency.

Nor, though it is more pertinent, do I find it much worth talking about whether Paul's candidacy is a net plus or net minus for libertarianism. I don't find it worth spending much time on because I don't think there's an objective measure to determine the answer.

What I find most important to consider is why racists and homophobes find themselves so comfortable spouting libertarian-like principles. What is it about the idea that an individual should be free to live as he sees fit as long as he does not violate the rights of others that makes it so appealing to racists and misogynists? Does this tell us something about libertarianism, or about the larger society in which we live?

Is it merely that people dismissed and despised by the mainstream tend to find common cause, and libertarians today are as despised and dismissed as are homophobes and racists? Are there lots of homophobes and racists among the Socialist Worker's Party members?

This is especially disturbing as regards the issue of war and peace. With due respect to the Volokh Conspirators, none of whom are historians of intellectual thought, there is a strong link historically between the domestic ideals of civil liberties and limited government and the international ideals of free trade and a non-interventionist foreign policy. That was the real strength of the Paul campaign, to tie once again the ideas of lower taxes and less government domestically with the idea of a non-interventionist foreign policy which has been anathema to both parties since the beginning of the Cold War. Why in particular racists and homophobes find that vision particularly attractive is unclear. But if you're reading the blogs a lot of Paul supporters write in such a way that it becomes obvious why Paul's newsletter attracts them (or at least why they don't find it any big deal, or simply a PC matter).
1.12.2008 12:54am
Mark T (mail) (www):
A few pretty clear areas where I have a hard time considering Paul (or the Rockwellers in general) to be libertarian:

Strict immigration controls; amending the 14th Amendment to deny birthright citizenship (which is neither libertarian nor constitutionalist!)

Views on SCOTUS decisions that protect individual rights vis-a-vis the states, such as Lawrence v. Texas. IIRC he also introduced legislation to overturn Lawrence.

Emphasis on national sovereignty (ie, opposition to free trade agreements, and obsession with the North American Union) over individual sovereignty

Emphasis on states' rights view of federalism- as many libertarians will be quick to point out, states don't have rights, individuals do. If you have a problem with applying the Bill of Rights against the state, then you are literally saying that those enumerated rights are subservient to the rights of the state. If that argument is simply a legal argument, then fine; but if it is a normative argument as well, then that's quite un-libertarian.

Support of flag-burning amendment.

Support of earmarks

I could probably think of plenty more. But his position on immigration alone should raise red flags- it both seeks to deny individual sovereignty and to limit the labor market.
1.12.2008 1:01am
Mark Bahner (www):
Strict immigration controls; amending the 14th Amendment to deny birthright citizenship (which is neither libertarian nor constitutionalist!)


It's denying birthright citizenship to children of women who entered the country illegally, isn't it?

If birthright citizenship is granted to the children of women who enter the country illegally, it certainly provides a big incentive to enter the country illegally! What do you say to the citizens of the states who have to foot the medical and education bills for those children?

Views on SCOTUS decisions that protect individual rights vis-a-vis the states, such as Lawrence v. Texas.


Well, that's a bit of a tough one. One could argue that laws against homosexual sodomy are very similar to what the Fourteenth Amendment was trying to do for blacks in the southern states after the Civil War. *However*, there is also the fact that writers of the Fourteenth Amendment clearly didn't have homosexuals in mind, since the states had anti-homosexual-sodomy laws at the time. (I assume. I doubt they were a 20th century invention!) So does one ignore that the writers and signers didn't have homosexuals in mind?

In this particular case, I'd say "Yes." I agree with you, opposition to Lawrence vs Kansas is somewhat unlibertarian. But I'd repeat my caution that giving the Supreme Court unlimited power to do good, also gives them unlimited power to do evil.

If you have a problem with applying the Bill of Rights against the state, then you are literally saying that those enumerated rights are subservient to the rights of the state.


No, that's not correct at all. As far as I know, all the state constitutions have bills of rights (in language similar to the federal constitution). So it's not like state governments have no limits to trample on the rights of their citizens. The question is whether the bills of rights in the state constitutions and the laws of the states are protective. When the 14th amendment was passed (and long afterward) it was clear that blacks weren't being equally protected.

But again, just how to implement the 14th amendment is a huge problem. It's possible to have an absolute prohibition against Congress restricting free speech. It's ridiculous to have an absolute prohibition on state legislatures restricting free speech. Again, that would make all state laws against slander unconstitutional.

Support of flag-burning amendment.


Ron Paul opposed the Flag Burning Amendment...at least per this webpage:

Ron Paul opposed Flag Burning Amendment

Support of earmarks


Can you name one person in Congress who has opposed all earmarks (especially all earmarks for his or her district or state)? The man's a libertarian politician...not a saint!
1.12.2008 2:04am
CLS (mail):
The Paul cult just won't face facts. This wasn't some one time incident but a pattern of hateful remarks over a period of years. Paul was the publisher, his campaign manager did the printing, his office handled the publication. If he was so inept a manager as to never look in an issue for years then we don't need another Bush in the White House.

It should be noted that antiwar.com is closely affliated with Rockwell.

It should also be noted that Rockwellians can't debate opponents on the virtues of Paul without jumping to assinine conclusions that one must be a "neocon" or "beltway libertarian" -- the latter term one Rockwell used to attack any libertarian not buying into is Far Right paleoconservative agenda.
1.12.2008 3:14am
American Patriot:
"What I find most important to consider is why racists and homophobes find themselves so comfortable spouting libertarian-like principles. What is it about the idea that an individual should be free to live as he sees fit as long as he does not violate the rights of others that makes it so appealing to racists and misogynists? Does this tell us something about libertarianism, or about the larger society in which we live?"

Easy answer. Whenever the government intervenes to limit people's rights in a non-libertarian way, it almost always does so in a liberal direction. A libertarian government may be very far from the ideal form of government for a monarchist, a feudalist, a theocrat, a white supremacist, or a fascist. However, from the perspective of a monarchist, a feudalist, a theocrat, a white supremacist or a fascist (or anyone having fringe views of any sort on what is the best form of government) it makes more sense to support a libertarian government than the politically correct welfare state that nearly all Republicans or Democrats consider to be the right form of government.
1.12.2008 4:34am
James B. (mail):
I went to a Ron Paul meet-up. I met an immigrant from the former Soviet Union who was looking forward to cast his first vote as a naturalized citizen for Ron Pal. He couldn't understand how everyone wasn't a Libertarian in this country. I also met a man who almost lost his farm to emminenet domain when the township wanted to build a golf course and a couple who were homeschooling their kids.

I also met a guy who said the NH results were fixed, that Obama's mother is now running CFR office in Chicago and have proof positive that David Rockefeller had portions of the Congressional record that he disagreed with excised. This guy fit right in with the guy who advised not to use ZIP Codes, because that causes you to "be under Federal Authority" and the head of the local John Birch Society.

The funniest part was when the CFR-conspiracy kook was trying to explain to the guy from Armenia how David Rockefeller and his band of International bankers had been working in concert with the old USSR.

Pretty sure I am not going back to any more meet-ups.
1.12.2008 8:16am
Mark Bahner (www):
Pretty sure I am not going back to any more meet-ups.


Well, that leaves all these people without another friend:

I met an immigrant from the former Soviet Union who was looking forward to cast his first vote as a naturalized citizen for Ron Pal. He couldn't understand how everyone wasn't a Libertarian in this country. I also met a man who almost lost his farm to eminent domain when the township wanted to build a golf course and a couple who were homeschooling their kids.


It would be a shame if the reasonable people came to Ron Paul meet-ups, and found a majority of wackos, and so wrote off libertarianism as simply a collection of wacky people.
1.12.2008 9:39am
Wondering Willy:
Libertarians get somewhere between 0 and 3 percent of the vote in every election. So yes, throwing out a significant portion of the party makes a lot of sense.
1.12.2008 9:44am
Doc W (mail):
(From Mark T, 1:01 am) "Strict immigration controls; amending the 14th Amendment to deny birthright citizenship (which is neither libertarian nor constitutionalist!)"

I don't think Paul is opposed to immigration, but there is a problem with large numbers of people coming across the southern border illegally and having access to tax-based social services. It's especially problematic in states like Texas where Paul lives. Ideally you wouldn't have the welfare state, government schools, etc, and borders wouldn't much matter, but that's not where we are. As for amending the Constitution: there is a Constitutional mechanism for doing so.


"Emphasis on states' rights view of federalism- as many libertarians will be quick to point out, states don't have rights, individuals do."

Under the rubric of the Constitution, governments have POWERS. The feds have a few enumerated powers; states have the rest of the powers of government. People have rights. "States rights" is a very unfortunate misuse of terminology, but the substantive point--that the federal govt is limited and state governments are otherwise sovereign within their borders--is simply a fact about how the Constitution was written. The Constitution is not anarcho-capitalist, but obedience to it would take us a long way in the right direction.


"Support of earmarks"

As I understand it, if a spending bill is passed and Paul has not requested earmarks, it will not decrease federal spending by $1. The money will have been appropriated. Someone else will decide how to spend it, probably not in Paul's district. Nor will Paul's constituents get a refund of any of their federal taxes. Requesting the earmarks is a way for them to get a little of their money back. Paul votes against the spending bills, but his vote is not enough to prevent their passage. If you had enough Ron Pauls in Congress, there would be no earmarks. By analogy, I'm opposed to Social Security, but I'm not a hypocrite if, having been forced to pay into the system all these years, I do cash the checks when I retire.
1.12.2008 10:42am
Doc W (mail):
(From Thoughtful, 12:54 am) "What is it about the idea that an individual should be free to live as he sees fit as long as he does not violate the rights of others that makes it so appealing to racists and misogynists?"

It's a fall-back position for them. Where they can get control of government, they use it to impose their will. Where government goes against them, they retreat behind their right to individual liberty. The ACLU (properly) defends freedom of speech for Klansmen and Nazis, but I doubt there'd be free speech if those elements got into power.
1.12.2008 11:31am
James B. (mail):
It would be a shame if the reasonable people came to Ron Paul meet-ups, and found a majority of wackos, and so wrote off libertarianism as simply a collection of wacky people.

I had been involved in Libertarian Politics back in the early 90s and ran for county level offices. My big issues were opposing the County purchase of an existing golf course, opposition to a new "Open Space Tax", eminent domain abuses and political patronage (each member of the county board Rep and Dem alike had a spouse also drawing a county salary).

One of my running mates was a Bircher. Voters that I had convinced to vote for me, donate money and volunteer, backed out once they found out about this running mate. One of his supporters showed me the map the UN was going to use to divide up the US into 10 zones of control.

I got tired of banging my head against the wall and dropped out of political activism. I thought maybe things had changed and that's why I went to the meet-up. Between the newsletters and my experience, I now know they haven't changed.
1.12.2008 11:57am
Jam:
I am no libertarian but I have seen videos and read description of the Libertarian Party national convention. And we who support Dr. Paul are called kooks? The kettle calling the pot black?
1.12.2008 1:09pm
Jam:
I am no libertarian but I have seen videos and read description of the Libertarian Party national convention. And we who support Dr. Paul are called kooks? The kettle calling the pot black?
1.12.2008 1:10pm
NickM (mail) (www):
It doesn't take a majority of wackos to scare normal people off; just a critical mass. Left unchecked, after a few iterations of this, you may have a majority of wackos left.

Nick
1.12.2008 3:23pm
Thoughtful (mail):
I asked: ""What I find most important to consider is why racists and homophobes find themselves so comfortable spouting libertarian-like principles. What is it about the idea that an individual should be free to live as he sees fit as long as he does not violate the rights of others that makes it so appealing to racists and misogynists? Does this tell us something about libertarianism, or about the larger society in which we live?"

And American Patriot replied, "Easy answer. Whenever the government intervenes to limit people's rights in a non-libertarian way, it almost always does so in a liberal direction. A libertarian government may be very far from the ideal form of government for a monarchist, a feudalist, a theocrat, a white supremacist, or a fascist. However, from the perspective of a monarchist, a feudalist, a theocrat, a white supremacist or a fascist (or anyone having fringe views of any sort on what is the best form of government) it makes more sense to support a libertarian government than the politically correct welfare state that nearly all Republicans or Democrats consider to be the right form of government."

First, I've read this response, verbatim, several times on the web in the last few days, so either the American Patriot gets around a lot and prefers cut&paste to rephrasing his arguments, or this is a "standard response line" being put out.

Second, it makes absolutely no sense. A theocrat, a feudalist, a monarchist all want and need a powerful central state. The idea a theocrat would prefer to wither away the state to a night-watchman level or smaller simply because the current leviathan is not theocratic, rather than try to take over and modify the current state makes no logical sense and has no historical precedent. Are the current red-state Evangelicals calling for drastically limiting government to combat secularism? No, they are trying to get "their guy" elected so he can wield the power of the state as they would prefer. This "answer" does not begin to address my question.
1.12.2008 4:14pm
formerbeltwaywonk (mail):
Ron Paul has advanced libertarianism by introducing more young people to the ideas of libertarianism than any politician in the last 30+ years. (And the number is probably closer to 100+ years.)

Ron Paul has introduced more young people to libertarianism than anybody since Ayn Rand, but in a much shorter period of time than Rand. Granted, the Internet and its many young tech-savvy people that gravitate towards liberty had a lot to do with this. The ability of libertarians to route around the beltway-dominated mass media had a lot to do with this. And Lew Rockwell's excellent web site had much to do with this.

Imagine how much more quickly and widely Rand's circle would have spread its influence if it had been part of an Internet community rather than a tight social clique that could only publish a few books and newsletters to the outside world? Sigh...

Alas, today's libertarian intellects outside of Rockwell and a few more obscure souls are too enmeshed in beltway and mass media culture to drive any anti-beltway change. Indeed, as we have just seen with the simultanous anti-Paul posts by beltway "libertarians" on the very day of the New Hampshire primary, some of them have become an important part of the anti-libertarian political propaganda of the beltway.

Anybody with any actual sympathy with liberty would at least have had the decency to wait until the New Hampshire polls closed before starting the long discussion that is needed between old and new libertarians about the import of Paul's tawdry old newsletters. But no, the beltway "libertarians" had to outrace the mass media in spreading the smears ASAP, so that voters could be immediately spun by the smears. Paul plunged from 14% in the polls to 8% in the actual vote. Now our beltway "libertarians" can brag to their paycheck vampire friends that they helped deny delegates to Paul. Thus they can avoid being tarnished by the "kookiness" of libertarianism -- nominally by its "racism" and "homophobia", but actually by its hoped-for consequence of throwing most of these paycheck vampires out of their federal jobs and making them get real ones.
1.12.2008 4:37pm
American Patriot:
"Thoughtful" said:

"The idea a theocrat would prefer to wither away the state to a night-watchman level or smaller simply because the current leviathan is not theocratic, rather than try to take over and modify the current state makes no logical sense and has no historical precedent. Are the current red-state Evangelicals calling for drastically limiting government to combat secularism? "

But the current red-state Evangelicals are NOT theocrats. They are within the political mainstream and do not want to completely transform society like the fringe groups that I listed as having an incentive to support libertarian candidates. Theocrats in American society are the likes of the Christian Reconstructionists (Gary North, Rushdoony, etc.), who want to completely transform society to make it work in accordance with Biblical law. Unlike mainstream religious conservatives like Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and the late Jerry Falwell, the Christian Reconstructionists do in fact support Ron Paul and often work with libertarian groups like the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
1.12.2008 6:09pm
Mark Bahner (www):
I wrote:

Ron Paul has advanced libertarianism by introducing more young people to the ideas of libertarianism than any politician in the last 30+ years. (And the number is probably closer to 100+ years.)


Formerbeltwaywonk responded:

Ron Paul has introduced more young people to libertarianism than anybody since Ayn Rand, but in a much shorter period of time than Rand.


But what is even more amazing is that Ron Paul is a politician. And a federal politician, to boot! It's one thing for a private citizen to say the federal government should have less power. It's much more impressive for a federal politician to say so.

Ron Paul has obviously screwed up, big-time. But no one should claim that he hasn't also done significant good for libertarianism. It's less clear what the net balance is.
1.12.2008 8:13pm
OldBircherAndProud:
Ron Paul has obviously screwed up, big-time.

Mostly just in the minds of the insider wankers. In fact, he has done a great favor to the budding immune system of liberty by bringing the statist smear campaigners out of the closet in the new Internet age. Formerly the feds succeeded in these kinds of smears. Their lies about constitutional government types like the John Birch Society, for example, are now part of the consensus official history. But their attacks against uppity libertarians like Paul are now archived on the Internet and leave an unalterable trail which indicate exactly who said what and when. I no longer have to read history as written by their dishonest minds, I can Google it for myself. They can't rewrite history as they did with the reputation of the John Birch Society. The Birchers were in their time the strongest campaigners against bureaucracy. But they didn't have the Internet with which to defend their reputations. Instead the lies and smears of the mass media and the insiders have become the history "everybody knows".

The statists are playing out of a playbook that is evolving slower than the dinosaurs. The same charges they brought against the Birchers forty years ago are now being thrown at Paul -- those paleolibs are racist just like the Nazis, etc. The only thing they have added is to smear Paul by calling him a Bircher, which "everybody knows" now is such an awful thing to have been!

Hopefully this time the lovers of liberty will be able to use the Internet to preserve the truth against these statist liars.
1.12.2008 8:50pm
Ron Paul Will Pardon All Nonviolent Drug Offenders:
Allegedly racist Ron Paul has stated he will pardon all nonviolent drug offenders. Civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have campaigned against the fact that blacks face harsher penalties under the Amerikkkan justice system for small doses of drugs. More blacks are in jail than whites. What race will gain the biggest benefit from a Ron Paul presidency?
1.14.2008 2:42pm