Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PJ on the Candidates

Funny as always.

Altruistic Conservatism

John McCain style:

[T]hose who claim their liberty but not their duty to the civilization that ensures it, live a half-life, having indulged their self-interest at the cost of their self-respect. The richest man or woman, the most successful and celebrated Americans, possess nothing of importance if their lives have no greater object than themselves. They may be masters of their own fate, but what a poor destiny it is that claims no higher cause than wealth or fame.

Should we claim our rights and leave to others the duty to the nation that protects them, whatever we gain for ourselves will be of little lasting value. It will build no monuments to virtue, claim no honored place in the memory of posterity, offer no worthy summons to other nations. Success, wealth, celebrity gained and kept for private interest is a small thing. It makes us comfortable, eases the material hardships our children will bear, purchases a fleeting regard for our lives, yet not the self-respect that in the end matters most. But sacrifice for a cause greater than your self-interest, and you invest your lives with the eminence of that cause, your self-respect assured.

Unbelievable. And this is this is the guy that the so-called, "limited government, freedom-loving" Republicans are going to nominate... I'm out.
Michael Tanner on "the Good, the Bad and the Ugly" McCain here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where the Babes Are


Monday, January 28, 2008

National Greatness Conservatism

Wil Wilkinson on the McCain philosophy here:

I am more and more coming to the conclusion that National Greatness Conservatism, like all quasi-fascist movements, is based on a weird romantic teenager’s fantasies about what it means to be a grown up. The fundamental moral decency of liberal individualism seems, to the unserious mind that thinks itself serious, completely insipid next to very exciting big boy ideas about shared struggle, sacrifice, duty, glory, virtue, and (most of all) power. And reading Aristotle in Greek.

I sometimes think that liberal individualism is something like the intellectual and moral equivalent of the best modernist design — spare, elegant, functional — but hard to grasp or truly appreciate without a cultivated sense of style, without a little discerning maturity. National Greatness Conservatism is like a grotesque wood-paneled den stuffed with animal heads, mounted swords, garish carpets, and a giant roaring fire. Only the most vulgar tuck in next to that fire, light a fat cigar, and think they’ve really got it all figured out.


Friday, January 25, 2008


The true-believers have been jumping the Bush ship for quite a while. It looks like Peggy Noonan, one of GW's most ardent apologists for so long, has finally seen the light as well:

George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Georgia's Own

Pundits, academics, and Republican activists in Georgia want to make this perfectly clear: Paul Broun is an accidental congressman.

Exactly why I like the guy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hillary the Decider

Absolutely terrifying. And I like Sullum's metaphor:

When it comes to fiscal policy, Clinton seems to see herself as a kindergarten teacher "fairly" doling out cupcakes, giving no thought to who baked them in the first place.

Ranking the Contenders

My preferences (for now)...

1. Ron Paul
2. Obama
3. Kucinich (it would be hilarious)

Consider leaving the country...

3. Dead rodent
4. Romney

5. McCain

House on market. Marry a Kiwi.

6. Edwards
7. Rudy

Self medicate beyond repair.

8. Clinton
9. Huckabee

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

To Be Governed

The best and brightest, indeed.

A Petition I Can Get Behind

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wyoming = Third World?

Cool map.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Free Trade 101

Excellent column in the NY Times by Steven Landsburg:

All economists know that when American jobs are outsourced, Americans as a group are net winners. What we lose through lower wages is more than offset by what we gain through lower prices. In other words, the winners can more than afford to compensate the losers. Does that mean they ought to? Does it create a moral mandate for the taxpayer-subsidized retraining programs proposed by Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney?


Romney Revealed

By Michael Tanner here:
[I]n Michigan, Romney pulled out all the big government stops with a call for $20 billion in corporate welfare to revive the state’s struggling auto industry. Romney, who called his proposal “a work-out, not a bail-out,” also promised that as president he would develop “a national policy to help automakers.”
George W. Bush once said, “When somebody hurts, government has got to move.” Mitt Romney echoes that, “A lot of Washington politicians are aware of it, aware of the pain, but they haven’t done anything about it. I will.”
Ronald Reagan must be spinning in his grave.
And Jerry Taylor adds:

What does it say about the Republican Party when the leading fusionist conservative in the field - Mitt Romney, darling of National Review and erstwhile heir to RonaldReagan - runs and wins a campaign arguing that the federal government is responsible for all of the ills facing the U.S. auto industry, that the taxpayer should pony up the corporate welfare checks going to Detroit and increase them by a factor of five, that the federal government can and should move heaven and earth to save “every job” at risk in this economy, and that economic recovery is best achieved by a sit-down involving auto industry CEOs, labor bosses, and government agents armed with Harvard MBAs to produce a well-coordinated strategic economic plan? That is, what explains the emergence of economic fascism (in a non-pejorative sense) in the Grand Old Party at the expense of free market capitalism?

I have no answer. But it certainly explains the increasing migration of libertarians voters to the Democratic Party. They may be no better, but at least the Dems offer libertarians something in social and foreign policy circles that the Republicans don’t.

I renew my pledge to vote against any Republican nominee that is not Dr. Paul; provided, however, if the Dem. nominee is Hillary, I am just planning a frontal labotomy.

Exposing the Authors of the Ron Paul Newsletters

Julian Sanchez and David Weigel explore the history here and conclude:
[T]hose new supporters, many of whom are first encountering libertarian ideas through the Ron Paul Revolution, deserve a far more frank explanation than the campaign has as yet provided of how their candidate's name ended up atop so many ugly words. Ron Paul may not be a racist, but he became complicit in a strategy of pandering to racists and taking "moral responsibility" for that now means more than just uttering the phrase. It means openly grappling with his own past acknowledging who said what, and why. Otherwise he risks damaging not only his own reputation, but that of the philosophy to which he has committed his life.
Sounds right to me. I have believed for some time that Rockwell and the people at the Mises Institute seemed a bit too comfortable straddling the libertarian/class-based poplulist line, all to often directing their arguments to the base racial-insecurities of the right-leaning fringes of the libertarian movement. It all becomes so clear. Pathetic.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Global warming hysteria - a boon for the ethanol and other biofuel enterprises - has boosted demand for crop-based fuels worldwide. This now threatens to reverse a half century of gains not only against world hunger, but also in holding the line against conversion of undeveloped land.

The cost of food has jumped over 10 percent in India over the past year, and 6 percent in China, according to The Wall Street Journal. This is partly due to the diversion of corn to biofuels.

Meanwhile, European demand for biofuels to replace gasoline is fueling plans for massive clearing of rainforests for palm-oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Ironically, much of the hysteria over global warming is itself fueled by concerns that it may drive numerous species to extinction and increase hunger worldwide, especially in developing countries. Yet the biofuel solution would only make bad matters worse on both counts.

Law of the unintended strikes again.

Devilish Genius

Those Clintons:

All of a sudden, Obama is being reduced to "the black candidate" he never was before. Bill even called Al Sharpton's radio show to "apologize" for his remarks -- thus linking Sharpton's name with Obama for perhaps the first time ever. Indeed, it seems like every African-American politician is being called for comment, driving home the point that Obama is "one of them" rather than "one of us" (where us means all America).

And because the Clintons are being "forced" to apologize and clarify, it makes it look like Obama is playing the race card, something he'd gotten so much credit for not having done. (In the linked article Stephane Tubbs Jones makes this allegation). The fact that the stories of allegedly offended blacks appear to have originated with former Clinton advisor Donna Brazile is especially suspicious. And of course, the Clintons' remarks were so ambiguous that 1) they have total deniability and 2) Obama comes off as hypersensitive.


Sonny Thinks

My rather obese (in both mind and body) governor actually gets something right... Well done, Mr. Perdue. The NRA is clearly losing its mind. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the right of private citizens to own, possess and carry guns - hell, I don't even have a problem with the private ownership of heavy weaponry. But the 2nd Amendment does not trump other parts of the Constitution and should not triumph over private property rights.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Those Racially Progressive Democrats

...Tensions are reflected in this week’s polling data. Overall, Clinton and Obama are close nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll. But,among white voters, Clinton leads 41% to 27%. Among African-American voters, Obama leads 66% to 16%.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

JFK (the wannabe) Endroses Obama

Ahh, the drama. The glorious collision of ego's amongst those on the Potomac never ceases to amuse. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but politicians are, without question, a unique breed. Tag 'em. For the life of me, I cannot even begin to understand the ability of those alien creatures to psychologically withstand the daily, incessant and mostly cyclical alignments, realignments, backstabbing and equivocal double-speak that permeates throughout our political culture -- all amongst so-called party allies -- not even taking into account the unimaginable stress created by those on the opposing side. Yikes.
Anyway, I suppose it need not be stated, but James Madison was most definitely on to something in Federalist 51:
But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
Indeed, good sir.

The Dapper Madame

Steve Chapman on the ever-changing faces of Hillary:

New Hampshirites voted for a candidate who, confronting defeat, let herself look vulnerable and human, and thus more appealing. If she becomes president, they may come to realize what we have learned before: With Hillary Clinton, what you see isn't necessarily what you get.

Whole thing here.
BTW, "Sister Frigidaire?" Heh.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


John Samples on the candidacy.

Matt Welch's excellent expose.

An Insider's Reaction

From Timoth Virkkala:

As a writer and editor working in the libertarian movement at the time of these "Ron Paul" newsletters, I have vague recollection of "common knowledge": it was known who wrote these newsletters, and why. It was money for Ron. It was money for the writers. And it was a way of keeping Ron's name in the minds of right wingers with money ... future donors.

It was designed to be entertaining writing. Provocative. It flirted with racism, like Mencken's did, and Mencken was indeed the model. But these writings went further than Mencken usually did (for publication) along the lines of annoying the racially sensitive; and they sometimes did veer into outright racism.

I was embarrassed by the implied racial hatred, for the general level of hate regardlesss of race ... and in part because the writing was so obviously not Ron's, and so obviously the product of the actual writers, with whom I had tangential relations — is my editor's* writer my writer? [...]

Most of us "old-time" libertarians have known about this sad period of Ron Paul's career from the get-go. We know that it was a lapse on his part. But we who opposed it (and not all of us did) put much of the blame on the writers involved, not on Paul, who was, after all, juggling family, medicine, politics, and continued study of actual economics. That Paul didn't realize what he was doing to his own moral stance is amazing. His style is one of earnest moralizing. That fits his character. The ugliness of this career move speaks a sad story.

It also says the harshest thing about Ron Paul as presidential timber: he let himself be so easily used and influenced. [...] Like Rodney King, one might prefer we all just get along, move along, and forget about this sorry story. But it is worth exploring. Racism is still a live issue in America. And, apparently, in libertarianism.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I Feel Sick

And disappointed, dismayed, betrayed and gut shot....

Newsletters in question here.

Reactions from each of Reason's Weigel, Gillespie, Jess Walker, Brian Doherty and Matt Welch.

Radley Balko pretty well captures my thoughts:

I'm disappointed in Paul and in his campaign.

First, a few caveats. I think Paul's prone to nutty conspiracy theories, but I don't think he's a racist, at least not today. Perhaps there was a time when he held views that I and many people reading this site would find repugnant. But I certainly don't think that's the case now. Paul's temperament and demeanor in public does not suggest he's the kind of person capable of writing the bile Kirchick quotes in his article. Paul's position on the drug war alone—which he has acknowledged disproportionately affects minorities—would do more for blacks in America than any proposal any of the other candidates currently has on the table. Paul has also recently rescinded his support for the federal death penalty, also due to its disproportionate impact on blacks. Those two positions alone certainly don't indicate a candidate who fears "animal" blacks from the urban jungle are coming to kill all the white people.

I also think the Paul phenomenon ought to be separated from any personal baggage Paul may have. Yes, there are some losers who support Paul's candidacy. Any time you're a fringe candidate cobbling together support from those who feel disaffected and left behind by the two-party system, you're going to end up bumping elbows with a few weirdos. But there's nothing bigoted about the thousands of college kids, mainstream libertarians, war opponents, drug war opponents, and hundreds-long threads on sites like Digg and Reddit where enthusiasm for Paul's candidacy is strong. This movement is about ideas. There's a vocal, enthusiastic minority of people out there, skewing young, that is excited about "the Constitution," limited government, and personal freedom. That's significant and heartening, and shouldn't be tainted by the fallout from Kirchick's article (though I fear it will—more on that in a bit).

I'd also point out that if we're going to clean house, here, we should go ahead and give it a thorough cleaning. When it comes to alleged sordid associations with neo-confederate organizations, Paul's in good company in the Republican Party (see Haley Barbour and John Ashcroft, among others). When it comes to anti-Semitism, one needn't look any farther than Al Sharpton, who still commands inexplicable respect from the Democratic establishment. None of this excuses what's in those newsletters, nor does it excuse Paul's association with them. It just means he has company, and I suspect the outrage we'll see in the coming days will be rather selective.

All of that said, let me get to the scolding. Like Nick Gillespie, I think the most disappointing thing about all of this is what Dave Weigel posted this afternoon from New Hampshire: Paul doesn't consider this worthy of a serious reaction. I was hoping for much, much more. If Paul didn't write these screeds, he should tell us who did, or assign someone from the campaign to do some research, and reveal the authors' identity. He should explain his relationship with the authors, and how it is they came to write for a newsletter that went out under his name. He should acknowledge which of these positions he at one time supported but now repudiates, which he has never supported, and which he still supports. If he's going to claim he merely lent his name to some people and causes he shouldn't have, and with whom he didn't at the time or doesn't now agree, he should say so, and explain how he could let a newsletter continue to be published under his name after first, fifth, tenth, or twentieth time it ran something he found offensive. Like Kirchick, I find the prospect that Paul never read the newsletter implausible.

The 1990s is not "ancient history." We were by then well past the point in American history where the kind of racism and bigotry present in those articles had any place in civil discourse. I simply can't imagine seeing any piece of paper go out under my name that included sympathetic words for David Duke. That a newsletter with Paul's name did just that demands an explanation from Paul. The "I've answered that in the past" reply isn't sufficient. You're running for president, now. You have a national platform. You've been an ambassador for libertarian ideas on Colbert, the Daily Show, Meet the Press, and Jay Leno. That you've provided a brief explanation for some of these passages a decade ago during a little-noticed congressional campaign doesn't cut it. No one was paying attention then. Just about everyone is now.

That Paul and his campaign don't consider this worthy of a serious reaction I'm afraid makes it all the more difficult to buy into the least damning spin on the story (and even that is still pretty damning). It suggests at the very least a certain obliviousness to the resonance and impact of racism and bigotry.

Of course, Paul was never going to win. So the real concern here is what happens to the momentum for the ideas his campaign has revived. The danger is that the ignorance in those newsletters becomes inextricably tethered to the ideas that have drawn people to Paul's campaign, and soils those ideas for years to come. You needn't be a gold bug or buy into conspiracies about Jewish bankers, for example, to see the merit in allowing for private, competing currencies (what PayPal once aspired to become). You needn't believe blacks are animals or savages or genetically inferior to believe that the welfare state's perverse incentives have done immeasurable damage to black families. You needn't be a confederate sympathizer to appreciate the wisdom of federalism. You needn't be an anti-Semite to wonder about the implications of the U.S.'s broad support for Israel.

Some of these ideas have always faced a certain hurdle in the national debate. To argue against welfare, hate crimes laws, and affirmative action, libertarians (and conservatives) always have to clear the racism card first. To argue for ending the drug war or knocking out huge federal agencies, we always have to clear the "'I'm not a kook" card. Today's news, combined with Paul's high profile, I think carries the potential to make all of that a little more difficult.

I also fear that newly-minted Paulites on sites like Reddit, Digg, Slashdot and the like—whose first exposure to libertarianism was Ron Paul—are going to click over to the New Republic piece in the coming days, become disillusioned, and assume that this is really what libertarianism is all about.

Paul's candidacy attracted broad support because he unabashedly embraced what the GOP claims to be on fiscal issues—low tax, limited government, pro-federalist—and what the Democrats claim to be on social issues—pro individual freedom and pro-privacy. Paul's campaign has essentially called both parties on their bullshit, and made them explain the gap between their stated principles and the way they've governed. Both sides I think were surprised at how strong he came on. So both sides dismissed him as a nut, and cited the kookiest fringes of libertarianism and dug up the most whacked-out Paul supporters to prove their point. Unfortunately, the quotes pulled from these newsletters will for many only confirm those worst stereotypes of what he represents. The good ideas Paul represents then get sullied by association. The Ann Althouses of the world, for example, are now only more certain that opponents of federal anti-discrimination laws should have to prove that they aren't racist before being taken seriously.

There have always been issues where I disagree pretty profoundly with Paul—immigration and the Fourteenth Amendment, to name two. Still, I've been encouraged by his campaign because it's been heartening to not only watch a candidate talk about limited government, humble foreign policy, and individual liberty over the last several months, but to see his support actually grow as he does.

Paul's success and media coverage have exposed a large portion of the country to libertarian ideas for the first time. Before yesterday, that was a good thing. But now I'm not so sure. If this new audience's first exposure to libertarianism now comes with all of this decidedly unlibertarian baggage—that many may now wrongly associate with libertarian ideas—maybe it would have been better if Paul's campaign had sputtered out months ago, and we waited a cycle or two for someone else to come along to tap the sentiment.
I am at a complete loss. Sure. We all knew that as Dr. Paul garnered attention and poll numbers, the political attacks would come - from all sides and concerning a number of topics. But this is different. This is ugly. It is damning and it is profoundly personal. And it speaks to the core of the man, and unfortunately, taints his message and credibility because of the subject matter involved. I feel as though we've lost a tremendous opportunity, as libertarians and Americans. To be sure, the campaign is toast. There is no going back and any momentum achieved to this point will certainly be lost; but, as Radley points out, my greatest regret is the longterm damage that may result from this unfortunate revelation. Cue Taps. Oh well, long live the rEVOLution.

So...., uh, "Let's go Obama....?"


What do these 5 conglomerates have in common:

Hugo Boss

Answer here.

Boaz on Huckabee

Frightening. And a Democrat's dream...

Mr. Will's Pithy Wrap-up of 2007

To the point, as always.

Dr. Paul on the Tonight Show (1-7-2008)

His second visit in the last 2 months:

Boycott FoxNews

I've been gravitating back to CNN over the last year or so; but, this is the final straw. Fair and balanced my arse.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Scenes from a Revolution

We're Back

As we enter the election season, I'm gonna gear this little puppy back into biz (for now)...

Here is Mr. Will, tearing into the Huckster.