"Liberaltarianism" in the Age of Obama

The National Review's Jonah Goldberg takes a look at the stimulus/bailout/econ debate and is moved to ask, "Whatever happened to liberaltarianism?"

[I]t seems to me that the stimulus debate clearly puts the lie to the idea that liberals and libertarians can see eye to eye on the large questions of political economy, at least for the foreseeable future. The first principles simply aren't aligned. The theoretical arguments in favor of the stimulus amount to rubbing the libertarian cat's fur backwards. And the so-called "libertarian center" hardly seems to be decisive or even relevant to the public debate. In the most important and fundamental debate about the role of government in a generation, the libertarians are lining-up with, and even marching out in front of, the conservatives.

Though I might quibble on details, I think Goldberg is basically right here. Will Wilkinson rebuts:

I understand it is now politically expedient for Republicans to oppose whatever Obama is trying to do. But, frankly, the recent performance of the Republicans in Congress has been pathetic, managing to do little more than fight to get a bit more for their constituencies and a bit less for the majority's. I do not remember hearing a plausible, principled alternative powerfully articulated by the Congressional Republicans. Maybe that's because the great success of the GOP over the last eight years has been to destroy the reputation of free markets and limited government by deploying its rhetoric and then doing the opposite. Partisan Republicans choke on the truth that the emerging shape of the Obama era is the aftemath of the GOP's successful, if unwitting, campaign to destroy the political economy they proclaimed.

There's a lot of diversity within libertarianism. And the most common forms of libertarianism are, I think, still pretty well shot through with conservative reflexes bred by the long Cold War alliance between libertarians and the right. For many libertarians, hating the left just feels like home. So many libertarians will indeed come running home when called to service by the organs of partisan conservativism. Well, good luck to y'all, but I was never on the team, and I've never wanted less to be on it.

Though I might quibble on details, I think Wilkinson is basically right here.

The pivot in this debate is the word "team." Seems to me that if and when team-membership (or its yang, team-nonmembership) ceases to be of primary or even duodenary concern, a lot of this discussion, no matter how high-toned, begins to sound like what I imagine heated baseball arguments must sound like to a French woman.

Actually, that's not the right analogy. I have a vested interest in national politicians embracing limited-government principles, and so tend to be more happy than not on the rare occasions when I hear these ideas cited, but I hold out zero hope that either of the major parties would ever take them seriously once in power. In my blinkered view, libertarianism as an outlook is all at once oppositional, constructive, and optimistic. Oppositional to whatever 19th century political party is in power, because chances are near 100 percent that their overriding M.O. will be anathema to limited-government principles. Constructive because, hey, libertarians actually have some pretty helpful ideas about how to make tax dollars more effectively accomplish such tasks as building roads, educating poor people, and (to cite an Obama favorite) creating jobs. When the politicians run out of money (and they always do), we'll have some plausible suggestions. Optimistic because a large subset of l-worders don't take their mood cues from government, but rather the very tangible and even thrilling progress that humanity and liberalism are making across any number of fronts, even if domestic inter-bank lending is down 11 percent this quarter.

The focus on political teams blurs one central, overriding truth: When it comes to bailout/stimulus/econ, there is no significant break in policy between George W. Bush and Barack Obama, no matter how much it benefits enthusiasts and detractors from pretending there's a sharp break between the two. The biggest economic political* event last fall was not the election, it was the bipartisan, unpopular, panic-driven bailout. So yeah, Obamanomics from the outset precludes much of any warm embrace between liberals and libertarians. Much like Bushonomics did throughout his term. Hmmmm, what do the two presidents (and the congressional majorities that enabled them) have in common? Could it be that they're...politicians?

Political alignments and realignments and coalitions and clubs are all certainly interesting to read (and occasionally write!) about, and probably even to participate in, but I wonder if there's something naive and/or narcissistic about the whole exercise. It was 20 years ago today (more or less) that Lou Reed sang "Does anybody need another self-righteous rock singer // whose nose, he said, has led him straight to God?" So, does anybody need another libertarianesque commentator whose nose, he said, has led him to straight to Democrats or Republicans? Strawman!

* Thanks to commenter Kolohe for the edit.

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  • ||

    Fuck Jonah Goldberg.

  • Right Wing Realist||

    Outside of elected politicians, there is a big difference between the right-wing and left-wing: the right-wing actually likes us. Some right-wingers used to be libertarians, will be libertarians, or are libertarians. NRO is a movement right-wing magazine, and they just wrote a half-dozen blog posts saying "hey libertarians, we like you! Come to our side! I'm 90% libertarian myself."


    Can you picture something like that from a left-wing rag?

  • ||

    a libertarianism that isn't first and foremost about defending economic liberty isn't libertarianism so much as libertinism


    A libertanism that focuses primarily on civil rights is libertinism? So that would follow having the following as first principles would be:
    Habeus corpus = libertinism
    Free speech/religion/association = libertinism
    Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure = libertinism

    I'm with David.

    I'm not saying the left is the home of libertarians, but 8 years of rule from the right show that that's not the home either.

  • ||

    RWR,

    Just because the dude in the brown Astro van wants to give you candy, doesn't mean you're not going to get fucked.

  • economist||

    I'm 70% with RWR. The left will violate civil liberties (1st and 2nd amendment, anyone?) if it suits their purposes. There is, at least, a small-government strain of conservatism, even if it's no longer (or never has been) dominant. By contrast, there are no small-government liberals.

  • economist||

    Damn, I almost forgot the fourth amendment. And I'm sure the fifth could go if it stood in the way of something they considered important.

  • economist||

    And here, I don't think Goldberg said anything particularly out there. It's only when he's explaining why The Matrix is subtley fascist that I think he's full of shit.

  • ||

    Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko.

  • ||

    I'm not saying the left is the home of libertarians, but 8 years of rule from the right show that that's not the home either.

    Yeah, I'm all set as far as opinions as to which party I should be aligned with from a guy whose mouth is stretched out from fellating every Bush administration attack on civil liberties.

  • Kolohe||

    I agree with your overall thesis, but I feel this isn't accurate:
    The biggest economic event last fall was not the election, it was the bipartisan, unpopular, panic-driven bailout.

    First, it's pretty much an article of libertarian faith (an article I subscribe to) that the 'economy' is always larger than any government action, no matter how big.

    And in this specific case the government action is definitely smaller than some of the other economic tides that rolled in or out last year:

    a) the actual bailout bill at the time was 'only' 300 billion (for the first round of TARP)
    b) there was panic, but there was also some real problems: the credit markets had seized, defaults of Leaman, Freddie/Fannie and AIG created temporary vacancies on balance sheets that were measured in trillions of dollars until they could be 'safely' unwound
    c) there were bigger events that were not catastrophes, they were not even necessarily 'bad' - they just 'were': the run up then run down in oil, the multi trillion dollar drop in real estate asset prices, the 2 trillion dollar contraction in the equity markets, etc.

    You could, however, almost make a case that the bailout was the largest 'political' event of the year, in that it set the stage for where $300 billion is considered 'modest'. Obama's election, while no doubt historic, is tempered by the near inevitability of a Democrat getting elected after the legacy and approval ratings of George Bush.

  • ||

    Can you picture something like that from a left-wing rag?

    Yeah. It would probably be bullshit, just like it usually is when it comes from the Right, but yeah.

  • MJ||

    "The first principles simply aren't aligned."

    "For many libertarians, hating the left just feels like home."

    Wilkinson is not addressing the crux of Goldberg's argument, that libertarians and liberals are just too different in why they believe as they do to ever have more than an alliance of convenience. Wilkinson is saying that libertarian's opposition to liberal policies is a knee-jerk partisan reflex, not a clash of principles. Perhaps it is for him, but I suspect that means he's a liberal with some libertarian leanings, not an actual libertarian.

  • ||

    I'm pretty much with economist on this.

    The left isn't perfect on civil liberties either. They are largely okay with limitations on freedom of speech, and even engage in supression of dissenting speech fairly regularly, whenever they can get away with it.

    Take criticism of Islam for instance (see the Wilders case). Or, for example, the last month witnessed two events on campus here: A huge pro-Obama rally on inauguration day, and a protest display by an anti-abortion group. Guess which one resulted in numerous letters to the school newspaper demanding that students not be forced to look at objectionable political posters?

    Then there's forced reeducation (sensitivity training)... etc.

    Anyway, the fact remains that economics is still the central debate. There is still a small government free market conservative movement, but there is NO small-government free market liberal movement.

  • Matt Welch||

    Kolohe -- Good point. I agree with you.

  • ||

    "FWIW, I just ran the standard libertarian platform through four of those "choose your candidate" calculators. Each time it spit out Barr or Ron Paul (when Paul was available) and each time it rated McCain above Obama (sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot), and both far below Barr and Paul."

    I posted that a few days before the election and I think it's worth revisiting.

    It's a tough spot to be in. You know the Republicans are no friends of libertarianism, but looking at a broad range of issues they actually agree with you more often than Democrats. But then they actually have to act in a manner consistent with what they say they'll do. Factoring that in, who knows?

    It's a losing proposition every way you turn (Democrat, Republican, third party).

  • Matt Welch||

    Hey Voros -- You still in Phoenix? I'm heading that way March 1-7, and would love to meet up at a spring training game or something. Shoot me an e-mail when you have the chance.

  • Shannon Love||

    The basic problem with political parties or "teams" of any kind is that they trigger a seemingly genetic us-vs-them dynamic that makes most political process more about the struggle for status between team-A and team-B rather than a search for solutions.

    Once you sign up for a team you feel psychologically compelled to stick with your team even when you don't agree. Eventually, you become more interested in having your side win for the sake of winning. I don't join parties for that reason.

  • ||

    Will Wilkinson isn't addressing the crux of the argument? I'm shocked.

  • ||

    Shannon,

    I think that's certainly part of it, but I also think there's a "prime mover" dynamic. The "prime mover" behind the Republicans is their "social conservatism/national security" beliefs. As seen, they will go a long way to hurt themselves and their electoral chances over it.

    For the Democrats the "prime mover" is their "economic socialism" and as they're proving now, they will go to the mat over it, the electoral consequences be damned.

    Each will willingly sacrifice other parts of their platform to preserve that big part they actually do care about. The ironic thing is that these are among the least attractive parts of those parties to libertarians.

  • Right Wing Realist||

    Reagan was a fan of Hayek. The Cato Institute gets quoted at National Review. Radley Balko writes a regular article for Foxnews.com.

    Mention "Cato study" on a left-wing site and you might as well have said "Mein Kampf", as in "Mein Kampf shows that the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression".

    I know Democrat chicks are looser and have the nicer parties in the Imperial Capital. But when you potheads ride the orange line home, alone again, just in time for the afterparty with Mr. Hand, you remember that daddy GOP is the one that cares about you.

  • ||

    With which popular opinionated selfish girl in high school do I want to align myself when I don't believe in either of them?

    I remain a perfectly normal person if I reject them both. Unpopular, yes, but normal, which I'll take any day.

  • ||

    Great comments by Shannon Love and Voros McCracken. I agree with both.

    Although, I'm not convinced that Social Conservatism is a "prime mover" for the Republicans. National Security definitely is, especially after 9/11. The Bush administration would not budge on either Iraq or the War on Terror.

    By contrast, they made no serious attempt to ban abortion in 8 years.

  • JB||

    I'm not a big fan of genocide, but politicianocide is something I can believe in.

    Let's get rid of all the politicians and the lawyers.

  • Sir Meatgoggles||

    "There is, at least, a small-government strain of conservatism, even if it's no longer (or never has been) dominant. By contrast, there are no small-government liberals."

    But there are probably more liberals who are consistent civil libertarians than there are Republicans who are consistently anti-government. Of course, all of this depends on which way the wind blows. When Obama grows government by more than 50% AND turns out a disappointment as a president, and the Republicans get in power, let's see if they are really willing to reverse to pre-Obama, levels of spending and government. Below pre-Bush levels would be a godsend.

    I am of the Left and I think the problem with the left is not in their values or in their desire for more social and economic equality, but in their complete ignorance (or rejection) of market economics and their simplistic emotionocracy. (I just invented that word...awesome!) Unless the pro-government Left actually examines the real effects of their policies on poverty, small business entrepreneurship and development, I argue that they are no progressives. Government has historically been the oppressor of the poor, minorities and small businesses and protectionism is almost always the instigator of wars and creates more poverty for both parties. Why do progressives trust government again? It's not because their hearts are in the wrong place, but that corporatists have perverted the original idea by Adam Smith that a free market is the best force for social mobility for the lower and middle classes and that limiting government, especially the Federal government - which is far removed from the real problems of our communities, IS progressive.

  • ||

    Jonah
    Go fuck yourself. Seriously. Shut the fuck up you fascist fuck. Eat shit and die. You go to hell, you go to hell and you die.

    Warren

  • Curious George||

    Meat goggles:

    The value that the Left places on civil liberties and freedom is forever etched in my mind by the photos of Waco burning and Elian Gonzalez being seized at gunpoint by jackbooted thugs of Janet Reno.

    I recall also that those vaunted respecters of liberty and freedomlead by FDR placed the Japanese in concentration camps after first separting them from their worldly goods.

    Try as I might I try to recall how my civil liberties were violated by Bush but I can't remember how. Oh yeah thats right he unleashed the Cossacks on the peace marchers, and put Bill Ayers in a gulag, and had the NY Times shut down for publishing classified documents.

    Yeah the Left is a superb guardian of our rights. Their respect for the law is on display every day. The names Daschle, Reid, Obama come to mind.

  • Hazel Meade||

    Damn. I agree with Sir Meatgoggles too.

    However, the progressive's total ignorance (or rejection) of market-oriented econonomics is just too dangerous and stupid to overlook. At this point, I think they are locked into the "us vs. them" dynamic that Shannon Love brought up, as a result of the long history of the cold war. They got stuck on defending Marxism and socialism and they're unable to break away from it. We're still doing capitalism vs. communism (or socialism to be more accurate) 20 years after the cold war ended.

  • ||

    Since it's officially Coded Message Week in the blogosphere, let me fill you in on what Jonah Goldberg is saying. First of all, he is saying that ideologically, he is one of us. He is the one that got away, and he's rubbing our noses in it. Frankly, Jonah cannot stand the religious segment of conservatism, and he especially can't stand the NR-brand of political Catholicism. He can't stand the anti-immigrationists, and he can't stand the people who are so serious. He finds their chains and yanks incessantly. When the adults didn't want to hear about his dog Cosmo or his couch, he posted more and drove web hits up and up. What NR has given Jonah though, is stardom he'd never have achieved by going to a natural home for his style and his beliefs. He made a deal with the devil, and he constantly rubs our noses in it.

  • ||

    Outside of elected politicians, there is a big difference between the right-wing and left-wing: the right-wing actually likes us.

    Bullshit. I've been banned from left- and right-wing forums for the same reason. Libertarianism isn't compatible with statist attitudes, whether it's the commies wanting to take what we earn to waste on ineffective anti-poverty programs, or the fascists who think it's just dandy to rob us to feed the war machine.

  • ||

    The value that the Left places on civil liberties and freedom is forever etched in my mind by the photos of Waco burning and Elian Gonzalez being seized at gunpoint by jackbooted thugs of Janet Reno.

    Heh. How about the lefties who want to legislate Rush Limbaugh off the air?

    -jcr

  • ||

    Reagan was a fan of Hayek.

    Yeah, and Greenspan supported sound money before he sold out, too.

    Reagan capitulated to the Republican party machine by letting them shove Bush senior down his throat as the VP candidate. He paid a lot of lip service to smaller government, but what did he veto? He reneged on his campaign promise to end draft registraion, he never submitted a balanced budget to the congress, and the bureaucracy kept on growing while he was in office.

    Reagan is why I gave up on the Republicans until Ron Paul ran for president.

    -jcr

  • ||

    there are no small-government liberals.

    I would have to say that "liberal" is a term that's been distorted beyond all recognition, just like "conservative". These days, "Liberal" is a code word for communist, just as "conservative" has become a code word for "fascist."

    -jcr

  • Alan Vanneman||

    I was trying to get my head around the idea of Lou Reed making fun of self-rightuous rock singers, but, well, it just wasn't soft enough (my head). I'd rather listen to heated discussions of baseball. I think. Maybe not. Okay, none of the above. Don't read this post!

  • Winthorpe||

    Chaps,

    What's this Goldberg character like? They're plugging his book over here (UK) at the moment ' 'Liberal Facism' - and I was tempted to pick it up.

    Is he a bit of a nutsack?

  • ||

    Is he a bit of a nutsack?

    That's a nice way to put it, yes.

  • ||

    By contrast, there are no small-government liberals.

    Blind ignorance. There are Jeffersonian liberals like myself and there are even about 50 Blue Dog Democrats who advocate Paygo and fiscal restraint but got consistently steamrolled by the Bush Big Government Party at every turn.

    You and Jonah Goldberg keep sucking off the GOP while they repeatedly lie to you - but don't complain when when they coming in your mouth, Charlie Brown.

  • ||

    A pox, I say. A pox.

    Both want to steal our money; the only argument is as to what to waste it on.

  • Xeones||

    Both want to steal our money; the only argument is as to what to waste it on.

    This.

  • Ravac||

    Agreed with SF.

    Fuck both teams.

  • ||

    You know what you call a Republican politician advocating small government?

    A lying son of a bitch.

    Fuck the GOP! Dry fuck em up the ass with a fence post!

  • ||

    As long as it is splintered, I'm with Warren.

  • ||

    Winthorpe,
    Jonah thinks the War on Terro was agood idea. He thinks it isn't a big deal to run 300 or 400 billion dollar deficits. In spite of Bushes grand theft TARP plan...Jonah still acts like Bush and Cheney were good folks.

    Jonah mindlessly talks about Bushes great "tax cuts" while ignoring the tax increases that occurred during his term.

    Jonah is pro-empire and wants more military spending all the time, he sees nothing wrong with the federal reserve and thinks only a kook or anti-semite would want Congress to have the authority to audit or get rid of the FED.

  • Stretch||

    Let's not overlook the dischord between republican rhetoric and actions. If libertarians were more consistent and louder critics of the right, then maybe it would be harder for republicans to conflate the free market and their corporatist bullshit.

    It's no wonder liberals have a hard time with market economics...eveyone is full of shit except the libertarians, who obviously can't be trusted since they're just republicans who smoke pot, doncha know?

  • ||

    Interesting as always. I've been wondering for some weeks now whether any economist has figured out how many dollars of private enterprise revenue would be required to lead to the creation of 4 to 5 million new jobs. If so, it would be interesting to see that number. My guess is that it would have to be far, far less than $800 billion. And, if it is possible to calculate that number, wouldn't it make a strong argument in favor of taking steps to re-energize the private sector rather than throwing more tax-payer dollars into so-called "job creation" projects? Not that anyone in Washington would care. Just curious.

  • ||

    Both parties believe liberty is frightening and dangerous, and if you give the masses any more than a few choices of TV shows or mutual funds, they will destroy the planet, either with global warming, gay sex, or credit default swaps.
    Maybe they're right. Bring it on.

  • ||

    Will Wilkinson isn't addressing the crux of the argument? I'm shocked.

    You're just jealous.

  • T||

    there are even about 50 Blue Dog Democrats who advocate Paygo and fiscal restraint but got consistently steamrolled by the Bush Big Government Party at every turn.

    Where the fuck were these mythical Blue Dogs advocating fiscal restraint when it came time to vote on the stimulus? I count 11 donk votes against, so you're about 39 short. Oh, and, look, Bush isn't in office anymore. Bullshit Blue Dogs care about fiscal restraint.

  • ||

    I agree with Warren about the GOP for the most part (though there is a minority that has been faithful to small govt even during the Bush years). But then again I thought this thread was about "liberaltarianism", wasn't it? If Republicans advocating small govt get General Sherman in the rectum, what do liberal Democrats doing so get?

  • ||

    Tulpa,

    Peals of laughter? The GOP does house a small number of true libertarians, who are trying (futilely) to work within a major party to foment change. Until Bush, they had occasional success. There aren't many true libertarians in the Democratic party, because, in the end, the Democrats want a powerful central government to achieve their ends. End of story.

    There's no theoretical reason why the GOP couldn't be a more libertarian party in outlook, but all that law and order/WoT crap makes them like centralized government, too. And, when in power, out liberaling the Democrats sometimes helps them retain power. Thus we get a Bush.

  • .||

    You're just jealous.

    If you really miss Howley and Wilkinson, maybe this will tide you over for a while.

  • economist||

    "Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko."

    Wait a minute, RWR is LoneWacko? And I partially agreed with him?

    Gad, now I'm unclean!

  • economist||

    Looking at RWR's later comments, I'm inclined to agree that he's Chris's sock puppet.

  • ||

    The basic problem with political parties or "teams" of any kind is that they trigger a seemingly genetic us-vs-them dynamic that makes most political process more about the struggle for status between team-A and team-B rather than a search for solutions.

    I'm on a computer-oriented listserve that is littered with old lefties and Democratic partisan hacks. There is a libertarian population of 2, out of about 500 subs; me and one other guy. I've been on the list for over a decade, but I usually ignore the bigger idiots on there.

    There has been a thread raging for about 2 weeks now over what started as a slam on the stimulus package and eventually turned into wide ranging discussion over ideology. I stayed out, becasue I realized long ago the futility of arguing with liberals. Life's too short and it just. ain't. worth. it. But, the other libertarian was duking it out and fisking mercilessly. No signs of stopping.

    The usual half-truths, myths and caricatures about libertarians were trotted out by the dimmer bulbs and I finally couldn't stand it any more and posted a very civil invitation to ask me or the other libertarian questions about libertarianism, since they clearly had no idea of what one was.

    I got crickets in return. Not one of them was interested in being anything other than a political bigot. Nope, self-rationalizing ignorance is the way to go when you're on the team. Don't bother us with facts that contradict the dogma. We got hatin' to do.

    Oh yeah, and fuck the GOP. Not gonna get fooled again.

  • ||

    Fiscal restraint for Dems and RINOs seems to consist entirely of opposing tax cuts and proposing tax increases, but never of opposing spending increases or proposing tax cuts. Their style of fiscal restraint is a one-way ratchet to greater and greater state dominance of the economy.

    I have no idea what counts as fiscal restraint for Repubs, but I'm sure its probably equally fraudulent.

  • ||

    I think that this article is beating a dead horse. I don't know many people who are defending the Republican party. They clearly didn't govern as conservatives when they controlled the federal government. They also never really had a conservative majority. Bush, with his "compassionate conservatism" drivel, was never a conservative. Even when Republicans had control of Congress they had to contend with Senators Collins, Snowe, Smith, Specter and Chafee who were left of center and made the pursuit of a conservative agenda all but impossible.

    Furthermore, Republicans and conservatives must contend with the pressure placed on them by the media, academia and pop culture. The entire conservative agenda is portrayed as bigoted, out of touch, cruel, jingoistic, etc. etc. I am not making excuses for them. I am merely acknowledging the fact that we have had an asymmetrical debate ever since the depression in which Democrats have benefitted from many advantages that conservatives don't have. I think it is relevant and valid to consider the fact that Democrats are driving this move to the left and Republicans are resisting it. They've been losing the battle but they aren't driving it. There is a difference in culpability between those advocating an increase in the size and scope of government as opposed to those who begrudgingly allow it to happen because they have been called bigots, etc.

    Does anyone doubt that the majority of Americans now buy into the Democrat nonsense that government will take care of their every need if only we can control evil corporations and their Republican henchmen. I don't think it is really fair for people like Will to say that libertarians don't have much common ground with Republicans. I would be willing to bet that if libertarians had been in charge and they had been pummelled by a media that portrayed them as evil they would have caved into the pressure just like Republicans did.

  • jtuf||

    There is no way I'm switching to a major party, but I'll team up with politicians in other parties for specific debates or support an individual small l politician. In my town, that means working with Republicans. Here, the Democrates support blue laws and the Republicans oppose them. Democratic council members voted to keep a porn seller from opening a shop in our town.

  • ||

    jt007:

    Excellent comment.

    Warren, you're a psycho.

    The Democrats control the cultural monologue. Control the vertical, control the horizontal. What the fuck do you expect? It's all dumbed down to a three-year old's level of understanding (Bush lied, Republicans are mean-spirited, Palin is dumb...)

    And guess what? It works. Because we have a nation of idiots now. They are relentless, shameless and ruthless.

    Democracy no longer works. Ben Franklin's and DeTocqueville's caveats are now a reality.

    We need a benevolent dictatorship that will enforce our constitutional rights, keep a balanced budget and protect national sovereignty.

    How is this possible? Easy. We need the loosest gun rights laws possible so that the threat of violent revolution is a check on its powers. Then let a trusted, patriotic military leader be president for life (like a Petraeus.)

    This will work a hell of a lot better than what we have. Like in Russia, except better: autocracy with the consent of the governed.

  • ||

    "How is this possible? Easy. We need the loosest gun rights laws possible so that the threat of violent revolution is a check on its powers. Then let a trusted, patriotic military leader be president for life (like a Petraeus.)"

    How these so called Republicans long for the man on the white horse. Exactly the outcome our system of govt was set up to avoid.......... And the real reason for loose gun laws: so the right can mount a violent revolution if it so chooses. I really think conservatism is losing its marbles. We're headed for marginalization.

  • Sir Meatgoggles||

    "The value that the Left places on civil liberties and freedom is forever etched in my mind by the photos of Waco burning and Elian Gonzalez being seized at gunpoint by jackbooted thugs of Janet Reno."

    As opposed to Terry Schiavo, Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, waterboarding, etc.? Look, I didn't mean that the Democratic Party are a civilly libertarian party, and I'll be the first to protest in the streets if they resume the Fairness Doctrine. But I would be that more liberals would vote against the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine than Republicans who voted for the Iraq War or the Patriot Act. If I'm wrong, I'll eat my shirt.

    Yes, there were the principled few like Ron Paul, Jeff Flake and Jeb Hensarling who have all along seemed sincerely committed to reducing government, but they are the principled few, and I generally still disagree with them. Government needs to be shrunken progressively, impacting the poor the least - for example, making social security a needs-based program and cutting out people like Bill Gates who simply don't need it to live off of. Tax reform should always factor impacts on the lower and middle classes in first, considering the fact that every dollar makes up a higher and more important percentage of income for people with very little. If we ever want to sell libertarianism as a viable ideology, we should ditch the "every man for himself" rhetoric and show how cutting government is actually compassionate and helps the poor and small businesses.

    Just because the GOP looks comparatively good now as the minority party does not mean that their governmental, social and, yes, economic policies of the past 8 years weren't atrocious and that we should suddenly overlook this fact and jump back on their ship.

  • Anne Cleveland||

    How can one tell the difference in a Liberal and a Libertarian, a Right winger from a left winger, A conservative or a Liberal, a Democrat from a Republican?
    I must admit I really can!t. This is a label crazed era. With so much cross labeling,its lost its status symbol. Winding up in a mish mash of scrambling for recognition with labels, its lost its stinger.

    Anne Cleveland
    octogenariansblog.com

  • economist||

    "and I'll be the first to protest in the streets if they resume the Fairness Doctrine"

    What would that accomplish, exactly, besides obstructing traffic?

  • economist||

    "If we ever want to sell libertarianism as a viable ideology, we should ditch the 'every man for himself' rhetoric and show how cutting government is actually compassionate and helps the poor and small businesses"

    I hate to have to be brutally honest, but occasionally it does come down to "every man for himself". And some of the poor, at least, would probably be better off with an expansive welfare state, and that will probably always be the case. The question (from a rights-based perspective) is whether their increase in well-being gives them a right to other people's wealth. While I agree that that question can wait until after the destruction of the corporate welfare state, there's still no getting away from it.

  • economist||

    "Then let a trusted, patriotic military leader be president for life (like a Petraeus.)"

    JB, what did I tell you about skipping your meds?

  • economist||

    I'm seriously starting to wonder if JB is a spoof troll.

  • economist||

    "Warren, you're a psycho."
    Coming from JB, this is irony at its highest.

  • Warren||

    Meat goggles:

    Could you republish your comment after you come down off your high. Its incoherent. I realize you must have trouble seeing the keyboard but try and focus.

    Somehow I doubt that the GOP is in need of rats who jump off the ship, especially since you must have suffered horribly under the Patriot Act.

    So tell us how long were you a recruiter for Bin Laden and what was the food like at Gitmo. I hear its so bad that the average terrorist has gained 19 pounds. Must be really, really bad, especially if you are denied the wonderful food of Islam. Hmmm dates, boiled meat, goat, yum.....

  • ||

    "As opposed to Terry Schiavo"

    Yeah, 'cause we don't want the proof of a desire to be killed to be "beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt", just if it's convenient to the state.


    "Guantanamo"

    Prisoners of war who are illegal combatants should be glad their surrender was accepted.

    "the Patriot Act"

    Was way more restrained than what many administrations have done in history without benefit of any lawful authorization or even debate. To go by history, I thought it'd be way worse.

    "waterboarding"

    Nothing wrong with waterboarding the handful of cretins who got it--and it did make them give valuable intelligence, after all.

  • Sir Meatgoggles||

    Tom and Warren-
    If you are defending torture, heavy government monitoring, detention without trial and federal interference with family legal decisions, you are no libertarians in my book.

    Frankly, I'm all for putting suspected terrorists on trial, and if they are convicted, splitting them up and placing them with the worst federal prisoners in our system as their cellmates until they tell us what they know, after which they could be granted protective custody in return. Most would rather talk than be degraded in the shower or live in fear of being killed in their sleep. And guess what - the government wouldn't have to violate either our own laws or the international agreements we have signed, and we would have upheld habeus corpus at the same time.

    No, wait - I guess leaving them surrounded by each other and deepening their hatred/extracting false information via torture is a much better way to keep America safer.

  • Sir Meatgoggles||

    "What would that accomplish, exactly, besides obstructing traffic?"

    You're right - it's about as effective as posting angry comments on a chat board. As writing my Congresspeople wouldn't do any good since they are already against it, so what else am supposed to do? I could say I'd run for government, but I'd be running against people who already opposed the stimulus and the Fairness Doctrine - so that wouldn't help my cause either. Hell, why vote, as my vote is statistically next to impossible to determine the outcome of an election? Protesting is one of the last resorts of a disempowered populace.

    The stimulus and TARP were egregious growths of government, but the Federal Government explicitly regulating free speech crosses a line for me, even if it is very limited in scope. Keynesianism is bad economics, but those who advocate censorship of political opinions are authoritarians in any book.

  • Mike DeSoto||

    Well, good luck to y'all, but I was never on the team, and I've never wanted less to be on it.


    I think it's stretching things to even suggest that Wilkinson is on the libertarian team. The man seems to be a run-of-the-mill lefty. I can't understand why CATO is paying his salery.

  • Mike DeSoto||

    But there are probably more liberals who are consistent civil libertarians than there are Republicans who are consistently anti-government.

    I don't believe that for a nanaosecond. The left has spent the last eight years posing as defenders of civil liberties in order to depict Bush as Hitler. Now that Obama has indicated he intends to keep the exact same polices, the lefts concern for civil lberties has evaporated.

  • wizard of oz books||

    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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