The ACLU and the New Politics of Civil Libertarianism

A few months ago, I pointed to a number of wrongheaded criticisms of the ACLU coming from the right. The criticisms were unfounded mostly because they accused the ACLU of being absent on issues where the organization has actually been quite active.

Over at the Atlantic, Wendy Kaminer makes a much sounder criticism of the organization (and not just because she plugs Reason). Kaminer writes that the ACLU is offering a subscription to the Nation as a premium to new donors and wonders why that is, given that magazine's conditional support for free speech (Kaminer is referring to the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which the Nation angrily and aggressively opposes, and which the ACLU supports).

Kaminer argues—correctly, I think—that the ACLU is blowing an excellent opportunity to forge new alliances, and to tap into the small but growing civil liberties contingent on the right. She also argues that too much of the left has become so blinded by hate for free marketeers that they'd rather write off the civil liberties stuff than soil themselves by associating with Cato or Reason on those issues.

That's also a fair point. Think back to the TSA backlash, where the Nation's first reaction to growing concerns among libertarians about the organization's new pat down and scanner policies wasn't to support the critics, but to question their motives. When the Heritage Foundation started making some noise about criminal justice reform, the first reaction from the lefty twits at Media Matters was to accuse them of being soft on crime.

But I don't think this criticism applies to the ACLU. I've spoken at several ACLU events, and have found them helpful on a number of stories. Cato has both put out several publications with contributions from ACLU officials and hosted events with ACLU speakers. I'd imagine that when the ACLU is looking to raise money, they're inclined to turn to campaigns that have been successful in the past. And yes, most of their donors have traditionally come from the left.

That said, I think it's good that someone like Kaminer is prodding the organization to broaden its alliances. It's worth noting that the only U.S. senator who publicly spoke out against renewal of the PATRIOT Act was Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.), the Tea Party-backed Republican who generally elicits nothing but contempt from the left. If Rep. Jeff Flake can pull out a win in the race to replace retiring Arizona Sen. John Kyl, you could make a strong case that come 2012, two of the stronger civil libertarians in the Senate will be Republicans. (That's a steep curve, of course. The American Prospect's Adam Serwer I think strikes the right tone on Paul's civil liberties pluses and minuses here.) There's also a growing sentiment on the right in favor of prison and criminal justice reform.

The ACLU would do well not only to reach out to the libertarian-oriented politicians on the right, but to more actively promote the work it has done on issues that crowd cares about, like its criticism of TSA, its support for Citizens United and opposition to other restrictions on political speech, its involvement in opposing zero tolerance policies in public schools, its opposition to the PATRIOT Act, and its opposition to unfair asset forfeiture laws.

Part of the right will always hate the ACLU, just out of dumb, blind partisanship. And part of the left will always question the motives of civil libertarians who also happen to support free market policies—and for the same reason. But this renewed interest in civil liberties in some conservative circles is encouraging. Kaminer is right. Genuine civil liberties advocates on the left ought to embrace it, and figure out where they can work together to effect some positive reform.

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  • Tman||

    It's refreshing to watch Tea Party-supported candidates such as Rand Paul stand up for civil liberties. As Balko notes, the left has no use for civil liberties if they interfere with their big government agenda's.

    The right has no use for them either if they interfere with security boogie-man issues, but the dissention amongst those on the right who aren't comfortable with sacrificing liberty for security is far more apparent than on the left.

    Libertarian ideals will more likely be realized under conservative leadership at this point of our political cycle. The current crop of democratic legislators will ignore any and all civil liberty issues if it interferes with their larger goals of a nanny-state.

  • MNG||

    "Libertarian ideals will more likely be realized under conservative leadership at this point of our political cycle."

    If this is true it'snot due to the "larger goal of the nanny-state" but to the terror most liberals seem to feel of being cast as "soft on" national security, crime, whatever, charges the right have hurled for decades.

  • Tman||

    If this is true it's not due to the "larger goal of the nanny-state"

    Yes. It. Is. Obamacare is about to completely destroy any semblance of our government having "limited and enumerated powers" by pushing the Commerce Clause well beyond what the intent of our system of government has been. If the mandate is found constitutional then there is technically NOTHING that congress could not regulate under said clause.

    THAT is the goal of the nanny-state. I'm far more worried about this precendent from a civil liberties standpoint than what's in the Patriot Act.

  • ||

    Eh, I'm with MNG. It's about political calculus, not grand conspiracy. That doesn't excuse it, of course. But selfish pettiness seems much more likely than active malice.

  • Tman||

    Rhyader,

    I think we both agree that both the Patriot Act and Obamacare are horrible infringements on civil liberties, in varying degrees, depending on the issue.

    The Patriot Act legislation is beginning to fall apart on civil libertarian grounds mostly because it doesn't stand up to constitutional principles. If Obamacare gets fully implemented and SCOTUS rules the mandate is constitutional, there is ZERO chance it will ever be reversed or removed from our lives.

    Which do you think is more potentially damaging from civili libertarian perspective over the long term?

  • ||

    That's like picking between arsenic and cyanide. Not sure I could intelligently come down either way on that.

    Still, even if I said Obamacare, I'm not clear on how that proves that there's some sort of malicious conspiracy on the left to eradicate civil liberties as an end unto itself. Again, I think cynical political selfishness is a much more likely motivation.

  • Tman||

    I'm not clear on how that proves that there's some sort of malicious conspiracy on the left to eradicate civil liberties as an end unto itself.

    It's not a conspiracy and the left sure as hell doesn't think it's malicious, they think IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. As Kagan said herself when asked if the government could make you eat broccoli "KAGAN: I think that the question about whether it is a dumb law is different from the question of whether it's constitutional. And I think the courts would be wrong to strike down laws that they think are senseless just because they're senseless."

    I agree that both sides exhibit cynical political selfishness, but the precedent that would be set if the mandate is ruled constitutional would essentially end the idea of individual liberties to treat our bodies as we see fit, as this would then become something the government would have a constitutional right to regulate.

    One is CLEARLY more potentially damaging to libertarianism than the other, regardless of the cynical political selfishness.

  • THE RIGHT||

    The left's main disagreement with libertarians is on private property. The left doesn't believe in the concept of the individual as that would suggest you "own yourself", a concept totally foreign and abhorrent to them.

  • ||

    @THE RIGHT: Yeah you guys aren't exactly big on that one either.

  • ||

    the terror most liberals seem to feel of being cast as "soft on" national security, crime, whatever, charges the right have hurled for decades.

    The analog on the right is the terror most conservatives seem to feel about cutting the size and scope of the welfare state because they will be cast as heartless bastards. It's a double-edged sword and it hurts as much coming out as it does going in.

  • Eric||

    Yes, the only leftist who comes to mind as consistent in his support of civil liberties is Gleen Greenwald (and even then, somewhat inadequately).

    While the right is atrocious on the 4th, 5th, and pretty much anything that has to do with the WoD and war, it's much better on other civil liberties like public expression*, the right of self-defense, and a general right to be left alone. The right's defense of civil liberties is quite imperfect and inadequate, but extant in at least a small form and not inherently in conflict with their ideology (such as it is). The left, with its claims on government suzerainty over any and all aspects of human existence, is in constant conflict with any and all liberties.

    *Exempting the religious right nuts who want to ban pornography and enforce "media standards", of course.

  • Nephilium||

    Eric... you can't just cut out the religious nuts that easily. Add to that the complaints about flag burning and such, and I'm not so certain I'd say that the right is better on public expression. Not to say that the left is good... more that both are bad on public expression.

  • Eric||

    At the risk of being called a TEAM RED flack by Epi or someone else, I don't think you're right about the power of the religious right: even in their "home" states in the South, I can't say that they've done nearly as much to restrict public expression as they'd like to, or as popular media would insist that they have. Bans on pornography, "media standards", "family viewing hour", battles against rap, etc simply are not part of the mainstream right in its current iteration, and haven't been since at least the 90s (and even during the 90s/late 80s, the battles against the "scourge" of rap and pornography were very much bipartisan affairs -- and in the case of porn, still is).

    OTOH, rants against advertising, commercial speech, Citizens United, "hate speech" and others with the legislation, regulation, pols and government officials to back them up are part and parcel of the modern left.

    The religious right can choke on a dick (enter shrike, stage left), but I just don't think they're all that powerful or persuasive, even in their home states, to really do anything.

  • ||

    That's probably true, although what you describe as "part and parcel of the modern left" is far from non-existent on the right. Or did we forget the Bush years already?

    And IIRC, it was the McCain-Feingold Financing Act that was struck down by CU, yes?

    Threats on the right aren't coming only from the fundies. They play to the statist center just as often as the left does.

  • Eric||

    Conservatives who support McCain-Feingold are a vanishing minority, and among conservatives, centrists, and liberals, are the group least likely to support the measure (or any other measure that curtails political and commercial speech).

    Conservatives are at their worst when it comes to liberty in two areas: first, support for ostensibly "temporary" removals of liberty of any kind in support of various foreign policy goals. The center-left shares this to a large (perhaps larger?) degree as well, see Clinton and Blair, and the far-left is damnable on this (and every other) issue, but the mainstream left tends to be somewhat better than conservatives on such issues. Second, in supporting the drug war: even the left is better on the WoD than ostensibly "liberty-minded" conservatives, and that's saying something.

    The right under Bush was terrible because it was carrying water for him on his God-awful domestic policy for the purposes of "supporting" his similarly God-awful foreign policy (which was a bizarre mix of conservative and center-left thought), and had very little to do with the religious nuts. Fundies are an easy target, but are more annoying than they are effective or mainstream.

  • THE RIGHT||

    McCain is on the "RIGHT"? That would be news to Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and pretty much ALL the RIGHT.

  • zoltan||

    Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill would be news to Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

  • Robert||

    We have chiefly one thing to credit for keeping the "left" much better on sexual liberty & expression than they would otherwise be: teh gays, and lesbians.

    Mainly sexual freedom is defended because we need it to procreate. As a source of mere hedonia, it would be belittled, like all other enjoyment. However, the "left" has been backed into defending sexual activity & expression for non-procreative purposes by homosexuals, so they have to proclaim some defense of purely hedonic sexual activity & expression. And the reason the "left" sides with homosexuals is as a wedge against the establishment.

  • kbolino||

    The left was promoting sexual freedom well before the gay rights movement (feminists != lesbians), and even after Stonewall, support for gays on the left was tepid. It wasn't until the AIDS crisis that gays became a visible element on the left, and since then their votes and their money have kept them as a major constituency. Cohabitation, contraception, and abortion are all major freedoms primarily achieved by the left, and while there were gays involved in those movements, they were by no means the driving force.

  • Robert||

    I should've specified the time frame. Yeah, they did that, but that thrust was spent by over 30 years ago. Seems like the only thing now that keeps the "left" on the right side is teh gays; otherwise, they'd just be ashamed of wanting something seen as frivolous. Teh gays is to sexual liberty as medical marijuana is to consciousness freedom.

  • zoltan||

    However, the "left" has been backed into defending sexual activity & expression for non-procreative purposes by homosexuals, so they have to proclaim some defense of purely hedonic sexual activity & expression.

    ::Gasp:: Is someone, somewhere, having fun?

    What about sexual activity & expression for non-procreative purposes by heterosexuals?

  • Robert||

    Doesn't count, apparently, except as a byproduct.

  • ||

    Yes, the only leftist who comes to mind as consistent in his support of civil liberties is Gleen Greenwald (and even then, somewhat inadequately).

    Let me introduce you to Nat Hentoff.

  • Nat Hentoff||

    Ahem.

  • Robert||

    Let me introduce you to JW -- whoever that is.

  • Mo||

    The right has no use for them either if they interfere with security boogie-man issues, but the dissention amongst those on the right who aren't comfortable with sacrificing liberty for security is far more apparent than on the left.

    This is only true when a Blue is in charge. When one of their guys is in charge, they're totally cool with it. However, the opposite is true when Reds are in charge. Then the Blues are all about civil liberties. And then there's Joe Lieberman, who is terrible about civil liberties no matter who is in charge.

    Libertarian ideals will more likely be realized under conservative leadership at this point of our political cycle. The current crop of democratic legislators will ignore any and all civil liberty issues if it interferes with their larger goals of a nanny-state.

    Uh, last I checked, the PATRIOT Act was passed during the Bush administration. Not to mention suspension of habeus corpus and the indefinite detention of American citizens.

  • THE RIGHT||

    the left has no use for civil liberties if they interfere with their big government agenda's.

    ACLU? More like the GAY-CLU, amirite?

  • MNG||

    "Part of the right will always hate the ACLU, just out of dumb, blind partisanship."

    Hey, that's a good chunk of H&R...Don't bite the hand that feeds ;)

    The ACLU, and all groups, should look to make alliances. I don't think they should have to change their view on Citizens. The ACLU has actually been pretty good on corporate speech iirc, but they can honestly hold the view that corporate speech can be limited in ways that individual speech cannot without giving up free speech as an ideal.

  • ||

    they can honestly hold the view that corporate speech can be limited in ways that individual speech cannot without giving up free speech as an ideal.

    You use the term "free speech". It doesn't mean what you think it means.

  • ||

    The ACLU, and all groups, should look to make alliances.

    I think you miss the point of the ACLU. They don't make alliances because they try to represent American (and sometimes non-American's) civil liberties. Alliances would just get in the way. Better to make yourself a big-tent organization and risk the ire of representing neo-Nazis, homosexuals, and conservative Christians all at the same time.

  • ||

    Libertarian ideals will more likely be realized under conservative leadership at this point of our political cycle.

    Money, mouth, talks, bullshit, etc.

  • ||

    If the ACLU would get behind Radley and go after justice reform, I'd consider renewing my membership. But too much focus on fetus killing for me.

  • MNG||

    The ACLU needs to get behing criminal justice reform? Dude, have you been in a cave for 100 years? The majority of precedent favorable to the accused and prisoners in the past 80 years has been ACLU driven or at least heavily supported.

  • cynical||

    Which, aside from the religion thing, is one reason the right dislikes them -- they're seen as wanting to help obviously guilty criminals escape punishment by using technicalities to exclude damning evidence.

    I think, in pursuing mainstream right-wing support, they should really go full-bore on Constitution and quotes from the founders and so on. They won't sell everyone, but they'll get their foot in the door.

    I don't think there's much they can do on the religion issue except go aggressively after government overreach on 1A religion issues (against Christians, that is) and put a ton of effort into making sure mainstream GOP-land knows it.

  • John||

    I LIKE HAVING SEX WITH GIRLS!!!!!!!!!

  • Bf||

    Part of the left, center and center-right will always wonder why free-market libertarians can't latch onto somebody who isn't either a closet racist or an idiot.

  • Gregory Smith||

    This proves that conservatives are more pro-freedom than liberals. Good luck getting Harvard, Stanford, Northwestern, BU, or NYU to get rid of their speech codes.

    Arizona State University Eliminates Speech Code.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....nates.html

  • Law Student||

    Aren't those all PRIVATE schools?

    I'm not saying that their speech codes aren't hypocritical or that they don't receive far too much government money but in the end they are entitled to their own speech codes.

  • ||

    They are, but several (I know NU for a fact) state that they will maintain speech codes in line with federal and state guidelines. Which they clearly don't.

  • Ted S.||

    If Title IX can be used to force private universities that receive federal aid for things like student loans to institue genital quotas in things like the number of student athletes it has, why can't there be a similar law making private universities adhere to the same First Amendment requirements as public universities?

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    A recent addition to the SCOTUS would disagree with you on such an assertion.

  • ||

    This just in: Public universities do a shitty job of adhering to First Amendment requirements as well. I work at and attended a public university and their way of allowing free speech was to have a few designated zones where people could meet, debate or perhaps just shout out their opinions. I understand the concerns of the university being overrun by organizations who have a message they feel needs delivery, but it's kind of a slap in the face of "freedom of speech."

    And yet all professors have academic freedom or some bullshit, so that they can't be hindered the way the students are.

  • Gregory Smith||

    They receive federal dollars, so as far as I'm concerned, they should honor both the First and the Second Amendment and allow military recruiters.

    http://libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com

  • ||

    I'm an NU alum who has consistently given money to them in the past. When they called just last night, I told them I would give no more money as long as their speech codes were blatantly unconstitutional. I think the poor kid I was talking to nearly had his head explode.

  • ||

    Wait, seritorship? Is that related to serutan?

  • ||

    Can't we leave a placeholder or something for deleted posts? Because some of our comments look crazier than usual when the comment we're commenting on vanishes.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    First response to the crazies should be something like HERCULE WAS HERE.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Oh, good.

  • Jim||

    THERE'S my hero. I hadn't seen him on any of the other stories yet today, and was beginning to get worried that agents in a black, nondescript van had paid him a visit.

  • Jim||

    ^^This was in response to a now-deleted Hercule rant.

  • ||

    Nooooo!!! They deleted Hercule but Rather is still allowed to post inanities? Where's the justice?

  • Pip||

    "[A PERIOD OF REFLECTION]"

    It was far, far too short.

  • ||

    I've never understood the attacks on the ACLU by the right or the left.

    I'm glad they're around, myself.

  • Bf||

    The ACLU is way too sane for you right-wing nutbars:

    "The ACLU agrees with the Supreme Court's long-standing interpretation
    of the Second Amendment [as set forth in the 1939 case, U.S. v. Miller]
    that the individual's right to bear arms applies only to the
    preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia. Except for
    lawful police and military purposes, the possession of weapons by
    individuals is not constitutionally protected. Therefore, there is no
    constitutional impediment to the regulation of firearms."

  • Colin||

    Many state ACLU branches, though, have stood up for individual gun rights.

    And the national office will eventually come around to the truth, too.

  • Bf||

    That's because in certain states lunatics actually constitute a majority of the population. IQ levels do not augur well for the future of the country. Dimwittedness and guns are a fatal combination.

  • Knutsack||

    Does Bf stand for "Buttfuck"? Because that's what you sound like now.

  • ||

    "That's because in certain states lunatics actually constitute a majority of the population. IQ levels do not augur well for the future of the country. Dimwittedness and guns are a fatal combination."

    If you look at my comment down below? I was talking about exactly that kind of thing...

    "On the left it's a little different. My gun rights and how much money we should be allowed to make, that should all be a popularity contest--unless the vote goes the wrong way! Then it should just be against the law despite what's in the Constitution--'cause everybody who doesn't agree is a bible-thumping hillbilly anyway."

    So you didn't call us bible-thumping hillbillies?!

    Same thing anyway, isn't it?

    It must be tiresome trying to keep up with the latest stereotypes all the time--is there a newsletter you subscribe to or somethin' that keeps you current?

  • kbolino||

    "Dimwittedness and guns are a fatal combination"

    A problem that solves itself.

  • JB||

    Bf = retarded fetus.

    Thankfully fuckers like you don't have guns.

  • Gregory Smith||

    And the militia is made out of what? The people, INDIVIDUALS with guns in their homes.

    By the way, if you can make me wait 48 hours to get a gun, can I make you wait 48 hours to get a book? Should there be a database of people who read controversial books?

  • ||

    "Think back to the TSA backlash, where the Nation's first reaction to growing concerns among libertarians about the organization's new pat down and scanner policies wasn't to support the critics, but to question their motives. When the Heritage Foundation started making some noise about criminal justice reform, the first reaction from the lefty twits at Media Matters was to accuse them of being soft on crime."

    Further support for the suggestion that the reason the right hates libertarians isn't because we're to the left of the Democrats on civil rights; it's because we're farther to the right than they are on economic issues.

    And the reason the left hates libertarians isn't because we're to the right of the Republicans on economic issues; it's because we're farther to the left than they are on civil rights.

    Can you imagine being such a self-conflicted, Republican jackass that you felt it necessary to question the motives of people who read the Constitution the way it was originally intended?

    ...or being on the left and feeling it necessary to encourage the right to be tougher on crime?!

    And the whole time, us libertarians are standing there, exposing both sides--pointing out how pathetic they both are. Why can't we libertarians just shut up and join the idiot chorus?!

    If I were a dolt, I suppose I'd hate us too.

  • ||

    +1

    I feel the same way more and more every day. People are less threatened by ideological opponents than they are by honest adherents.

  • ||

    We saw it with all the hate directed at libertarians coming out of CPAC. They hate us for our love of free market economic policies.

    And every time some loony goes off the deep end, the left goes on a rampage against civil rights.

    Libertarian make the left absolutely sputter when we talk about free speech and civil rights despite some loony going on a shooting spree.

    We make them all feel so ashamed of themselves. We're their conscience.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Well the ACLU has been AWOL on defending 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

    And they are nowhere on freedom of contract and private property rights -freedoms that are not one iota less important than the ginned up category of "civil liberties" that the left squawks about.

    There was never any Constitutional justification for compartmentalizing certain freedoms as "civil liberties" and treating them as if they were MORE important that economic type freedoms such as freedom of contract and private property rights.

    They are all equally important.

  • The Truth||

    Yeah, the "freedom" to be paid $2/hour by abolishing the minimum wage,the "freedom" to be screwed out of your pension and given a worthless 401 (K) that goes belly up in the next bubble, the "freedom" to have corporations market shit food to your kids so they can be "free" to grow up to be fatassses that need lipitor at age 30, so the phamecutical companies can be "free" to make billions more in profits.

    Poverty! Child labor! Obesity! Unsafe food! Exploitation!

    LIBERTY!

  • Gilbert Martin||

    You forgot to throw in Somalia!

  • ||

    We also strongly support the freedom of all Americans to peacefully pursue meth mouth.

  • Old Mexican||

    ROADS!

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: The Truth,

    Obesity!


    Wait - you think people should not be free to be fat?

  • robc||

    Not exactly AWOl, as Balko has pointed out, at least not at the state level.

    The national ACLU has been. And many state ACLUs too. I would like to see the national ACLU tell the NY State ACLU to file some damn 2nd amendment challenges already.

  • ||

    I think that's the basic difference between libertarians and non-libertarians. Everybody else is picking and choosing.

    The right doesn't want anybody voting on an individual's gun rights--but who you can marry or who can hire to mow your lawn? That's supposed to be determined by popular vote!

    On the left it's a little different. My gun rights and how much money we should be allowed to make, that should all be a popularity contest--unless the vote goes the wrong way! Then it should just be against the law despite what's in the Constitution--'cause everybody who doesn't agree is a bible-thumping hillbilly anyway.

  • Jim||

    Actually Gilbert, read the book, "Goverment Pirates". The ACLU has often defended private property rights.

  • The Truth||

    What "libertarians" never get is that government by private wealth and the big corporations is just as much of a threat as government tyranny, perhaps more.

    Microsoft and General Electric, and not to mention Koch Industries, have powers an 18th Century absolute monarch could only DREAM of.

  • ||

    And unlike Democrats, libertarians actually appear to have a problem with corporatism and rent-seeking. But why let details disturb narrative?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: The Truth,

    Microsoft and General Electric, and not to mention Koch Industries, have powers an 18th Century absolute monarch could only DREAM of.


    That's not true - Microsoft, GE and Koch Industries have killed many less people than monarchs of the 18th Century could only DREAM of.

  • ||

    "Microsoft and General Electric, and not to mention Koch Industries, have powers an 18th Century absolute monarch could only DREAM of."

    Yeah, I would have loved an MP3 Player and a dishwasher!

  • Colin||

    That's a pretty ironic name you've got.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Microsoft and General Electric, and not to mention Koch Industries, have powers an 18th Century absolute monarch could only DREAM of."

    What port is home base to the Microsoft Royal Navy?

    How many infantry divisions does the GE army have?

    How many stealth bombers does the Koch air force have deployed?

  • Jason||

    What port is home base to the Microsoft Royal Navy?

    You'd get a kick out of Max Barry's Jennifer Government...

  • ||

    "Microsoft and General Electric, and not to mention Koch Industries, have powers an 18th Century absolute monarch could only DREAM of."

    Is the price of software, light bulbs and paper destroying this country or something?!

    Windows 7 rocks.

    If only our federal government were as responsive to its constituents as Microsoft, General Electric and Koch Industries are to their customers?

    Oh what a wonderful world it would be!

  • Alex||

    Care to explain how these "corporations" are as much, or perhaps more, of a threat than government tyranny?

    I don't know of any corporation that can force me to buy their product (well, unless Obamacare remains constitutional). Are you really afraid that Microsoft is going to show up at your door and make you buy windows?

    Seriously, answer how microsoft is more of a threat than government tyranny.

  • Alex||

    Edit:

    I just read your response below.

    Yep, you're an idiot The Truth.

  • a||

    If Rep. Jeff Flake can pull out a win in the race to replace retiring Arizona Sen. John Kyl, you could make a strong case that come 2012, two of the stronger civil libertarians in the Senate will be Republicans.

    This is the same Jeff Flake who just voted to renew the PATRIOT Act, right? Yeah, nobody at Reason exaggerates this guy's libertarianism. Uh uh.

    http://reason.com/blog/2011/02.....nt_2126205

  • Robert||

    His vote wasn't going to stop it.

  • a||

    That's the dumbest response I could have imagined. So if the margin of victory on any vote is more than 1, we shouldn't care how a member of Congress votes? And you think Flake would have voted differently if he thought he was casting the deciding vote?

  • Robert||

    Maybe, and yes.

    Ever hear of strajety? Caginess?

    Libertarians need to fool authoritarians enough of the time to get some of what we want, by making them think they're getting more of what they want, because at some future time they'll be fooled into giving us more of what we want than they get of what they want. Libertarians know where Flake stands; we need to keep authoriarians in the dark as much and long as possible.

  • zoltan||

    You're in fantasy land.

  • Robert||

    So what do you do, just blurt out what you want? Then what do you do about all the people who want the opposite of what you want?

  • a||

    Yeah, I know exactly where he stands. On a ladder, to accommodate your head up his ass.

  • THE RIGHT||

    Flake is no more libertarian than Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)

  • Robert||

    Even if that's true, that's pretty damn good.

  • Radley Balko||

    Microsoft and General Electric, and not to mention Koch Industries, have powers an 18th Century absolute monarch could only DREAM of.

    Show your work. Name one thing any of those companies can force you to do without assistance from the government. Even at the height of the Microsoft monopoly, it was pretty easy to use another web browser.

  • robc||

    Not just web browser, other operating systems too.

  • The Truth||

    Oh, they can't do anything, except fire you from your job because they can get work done in India for 1/10th of the price, sending previously middle class workers into grinding poverty.

    And in libertopia we wouldn't even get unemployment benefits!

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: The Truth,

    Oh, they can't do anything, except fire you from your job because they can get work done in India for 1/10th of the price[...]


    Hold. The. Presses.

    "Employers can fire employees"

    WOW - What a headline!!! Thank you, The Truth!

    Fucking moron - people are not entitled to a job, much less YOU.

  • The Truth||

    Fuck you. The first human right is the right not to starve in poverty and be exploited.

    Your libertarian paradise existed once, it was called the Gilded Age.There's a reason the progressive movement came from that.

  • Colin||

    And this right is enumerated where, moron?

    In your head?

  • Tony||

    Being a slave to a piece of paper is freedom?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: The Truth,

    Fuck you. The first human right is the right not to starve in poverty and be exploited.


    FUCK YOU! There's no right not to starve, you idiot - tell that to the tree that won't give fruit in the middle of a deserted island: "I have a right not to starve! Gimme fruit!"

    You confuse "rights" with "entitlements". That indicates a lack of BRAINS!

    Your libertarian paradise existed once, it was called the Gilded Age[.]


    Yeah, whatever.

  • The Truth||

    "I've got MINE! Fuck YOU!"

    You summed up your sociopathic political cult very well with that.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: The Truth,

    You summed up your sociopathic political cult very well with that.


    "I make up stuff!"
    ^^ ^^
    Yours, in a nutshell.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Your wealth envy is showing. Truth.

  • Tony||

    You confuse "rights" with "entitlements". That indicates a lack of BRAINS!

    Actually, a lack of brains is indicated by magical thinking, such as thinking human rights come from the fabric of the universe. And it's just arrogance to think you alone know what the universe is thinking. Like a religion, only the small, isolated version: a cult.

  • ||

    Lot of hungry people in China. Many, many more than in the U.S.

  • ||

    "Your libertarian paradise existed once, it was called the Gilded Age.There's a reason the progressive movement came from that."

    There's a reason the middle class emerged during the Gilded Age (and sooner) for sure--a lot of it having to do with capitalism and industry, which has pulled billions of people all over the world out of poverty...

    I don't personally consider the Gilded Age to be especially emblematic of libertarianism, however. They had half the equation right--but there was another half of the equation to consider.

    The government failed to protect the civil and property rights of women, the civil and property rights of Native Americans, the civil and property rights of black people in the South, the civil and property rights of Chinese people, not to mention factor workers among others...

    Anybody who points to a time in history where the government systematically refused to protect the civil and property rights of millions of its citizens--and says, "A ha, that's libertarianism in action!"

    That's somebody that doesn't really know what libertarianism is.

  • ||

    Short version: One of libertarianism's core components is the idea that the only proper function of government is protecting people's rights.

    So, a time when the government refused to protect people's rights is in no way representative of libertarian government.

  • ||

    State regulation back then was no minor issue, either. Just maintaining a corporate charter required a lot of hoop-jumping.

  • oncogenesis||

    The first human right is the right not to starve in poverty and be exploited.

    That's just nonsense. Here's a simple test to determine whether something may constitute a human right: In order for the proposed right to be exercised, must a separate entity (e.g., another person) provide any of its resources (e.g., time, money, energy)? If the answer is yes, then it definitely is not a human right.

  • ||

    Yeah, I had a hell of a time firing William Pitt, Earl Of Chatham.

  • tarran||

    Because there's no way an insurance company would come up with the idea of selling unemployment insurance to individuals...

  • Truth||

    Wow. Just wow.

    Only a libertarian would look at our experiment in providing healthcare on the private market and think "you know what would be great? If we provided unemployment insurance the same way, because it's worked so well in the health sector!"

    WOW! Just..unbelieveable.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Truth,

    WOW! Just..unbelieveable.


    Nitwit - It already EXISTS.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Are_.....fit_policy

  • ||

    There's a downside to public unemployment insurance too.

    ...ever notice that a lot of people don't really start looking for another job until their unemployment insurance is almost out?

    Moral hazards are everywhere in systems like that. Half the grandmas in this country wouldn't be in a nursing home if there weren't a government system pumping cash and encouraging people to ship grandma to the warehouse.

    Why should we assume any of that's qualitatively better than the alternative?

  • Tony||

    ever notice that a lot of people don't really start looking for another job until their unemployment insurance is almost out?

    Prove it, and who cares. 10% unemployment that wasn't the fault of any of the people who require benefits? Finding a job isn't just a matter of working hard. There actually aren't enough for everyone. So what makes better sense as policy, letting all those people go into dire poverty and bringing all the social problems that come with that, or keeping them afloat until a better economy comes along (something their not being in poverty will help with)?

  • ||

    But by moving the job to India they send Indians formerly living in grinding poverty into the middle class.
    Why aren't Indian jobs as important as American jobs? Is it their dark skin, the funny way they talk, or their silly religions?

  • ||

    Radley asked about the use of force, not the termination of consensual at-will contracts. Again, show your work.

  • kbolino||

    Software Developer in America loses job for $80k/year, has to work at Walmart for $20k/year.

    Indian man, who literally makes $0/year, gets a Software Development job for $10k/year.

    This is the greatest form of wealth redistribution known to the history of man.

  • ||

    Personally, I think the right jackboot and the left jackboot both land about equally on freedom of expression.

    From the right, of course, we have the war on porn, flag burning, and miscellaneous FCC tomfoolery. From the left, we have hate/thought crimes, "hostile environment" speech crimes, and the noxious "commercial speech" exception to the 1A. Not much to choose from, but if I had to, I would say the left has brought more speech under State purview than the right.

  • Jim||

    The right is better on civil liberties RIGHT NOW, because Team Blue is in charge. These guys were awfully silent when their own Team ran the show a few years ago. It's always just a reaction against the other Team, and has nothing to do with principals.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Jim,

    The right is better on civil liberties RIGHT NOW, because Team Blue is in charge.


    The Patriot Act being a never mind to you, right?

  • Jim||

    If you mean that all of them but a few voted for it (and in the senate, only one, ONE, dissenting (R)), yes, I'm quite aware. I was referencing the fact that at least the right is having this conversation ATM, which the left doesn't seem to be engaging in. Five years ago, the right wasn't even talking about this really.

    I'd say that's progress, but I have a feeling that if we get a Team Red elected captain in 2012, they'll go right back to the way they were.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Jim,

    I'd say that's progress, but I have a feeling that if we get a Team Red elected captain in 2012, they'll go right back to the way they were.


    Possibly - that just tells me that the Right and the Left are only lusting for power and put on pseudo-libertarian or civil libertarian hats whenever expediency dictates.

  • Jim||

    You'll get absolutely no argument from me there.

  • Old Mexican||

    Kaminer argues—correctly, I think—that the ACLU is blowing an excellent opportunity to forge new alliances, and to tap into the small but growing civil liberties contingent on the right.


    Buuuuuuuut..... They won't take the opportunity.

    You know why?

    Expediency!
    Expediency!
    Starts with an "E"!
    Ends with a "Y"!
    Why?
    Because I said so!

    The ACLU is not about civil liberties, my friend - it's about civil liberties that agree with them.

  • The Truth||

    Libertarian: somebody who has never worried about where their next meal is coming from.

  • Colin||

    Thank God it won't be coming from the government.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: The Truth,

    Libertarian: somebody who has never worried about where their next meal is coming from.


    You got that right - we don't rely on the tender mercies of government for our next meal. We instead work to get food.

  • David Koch||

    Not anymore! We're downsizing so I can buy my wife a Ferrari!

    Later, chump!

  • Old Mexican||

    Ha ha ha!
    Oh, man, you're pathetic! Not even an interesting troll, just a dull one!

  • The Truth||

    Alternalty,

    Libertarianism: I've go mine, so FUCK YOU!

  • ||

    Libertarianism: I've go mine, so FUCK YOU!

    Progressivism: I want yours, so FUCK YOU! With a nightstick.

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    And goons. Don't forget the goons.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: The Truth,

    Libertarianism: I've go mine, so FUCK YOU!


    Wasn't that actually Al Gore?
    "I got my brightly-lighted mansion, you have instead to sacrifice for Global Warming"?

  • The Truth||

    "AL GORE IS FAT! GLOBAL WARMING LOL!"

    Retard.

  • Old Mexican||

    Nice comeback, dimwit.

  • The Truth||

    The biggest cotributors to global warming aren't individuals, they're corporations, like Koch Industries.

    They make billions from burning things that are cooking us off the plaet, and regulating that might cut ito their profits, and we can't have that NO SIR!

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: The Truth,

    They make billions from burning things that are cooking us off[???] the plaet[sic]


    You know, for someone using the nick "The Truth", you sur exaggerate to the point of absurdity...

  • Jason||

    The biggest cotributors to global warming aren't individuals, they're corporations, like Koch Industries.

    Umm, how is Koch Industries' carbon emissions greater than the government's 50%?

  • Libertarians and Two-Year Olds||

    I've got MIIIIIIIIIIINE! IT MINE! MINE MINE MINE! I DON'T WANT TO SHARE! WAAAHA FUCK YOU!

  • ||

    Compulsory "sharing" is also called theft.

  • Truth||

    Taxation isn't theft, it's the price of admission to live in a civilized society that doesn't do things like throw children out on the street to starve or make grandma eat Alpo so a billionaire can buy a new Rolls Royce like we did before we had social programs and the income tax.

  • ||

    Uh, huh.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: The Truth,

    Taxation isn't theft


    Yes it is - the taking of property that does not belong to you by the use of force. Taxation. Theft.

    [...]it's the price of admission to live in a civilized society that doesn't do things like throw children out on the street to starve or make grandma eat Alpo so a billionaire can buy a new Rolls Royce like we did before we had social programs and the income tax.


    You mean unlike now?

  • The Truth||

    You're fucking MEXICAN, you of all people should realize what happens when wealth is concentrated at the top and there's no middle class, with masses of poverty at the bottom.

    That's what libertarinism leads to.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    It appears that your one brain cell is about to burn out.

    You'd better hustle off and see if you can scrounge up a new one.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: The Truth,

    You're fucking MEXICAN, you of all people[...]


    "No true Scotsman...!"

    should realize what happens when wealth is concentrated at the top and there's no middle class,


    There is a middle class in Mexico. You really live inside a shell, don't you? You know that things are different outside your mommy's basement, don't you?

  • Jim||

    I just can't make myself believe that The Truth is really trying to defend leftism. His comments are simply too stupid...HAS to be a (very poor) troll. I mean, there are progressives on here who regularly provide at least rational back-and-forth, but this...this is just awful.

  • Jason||

    Until recently, Mexico had been ruled by the PRI for 70 years.

    The PRI is a member of Socialist International, hardly a libertarian body.

  • Corporate Lobbyist||

    Taxation is the price of admission for us to keep jobs in the US and protect those profits, err, I mean jobs in the US.

  • oncogenesis||

    Taxation [is] the price of admission to live in a civilized society

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy

  • David Koch||

    Keep defending my "liberties" boys! That's what it's all about! Freedom for me to fuck you over for billions!

  • Jason||

    How exactly is selling me toilet paper "fucking me over"?

  • David Koch||

    The most important freedom to defend is the freedom for my sons to inherit billions just for being my sons! They should get it ALL, and the government needs to keep out!

  • ||

    Who else should get it?

    If the sons are good managers of the resources Koch acquired then there is no reason to find different managers simply because they are related to him.

    If they are bad managers then they will lose the resource to competing interests.

    Why do we need the government to stop or change that process?

  • MJ||

    Koch is free to leave his wealth to anyone he wants to (including his sons).

    Why should he not be, and why should the government get first claim to that wealth otherwise?

  • Tony||

    Because it keeps the unwashed masses from killing him with a knife?

  • Sandy||

    Ah, the good ol' ACLU.

    In favor of all constitutional rights except the Second Amendment, as always.

    I'll respect them when they stand in favor of ALL civil liberties, not just the ones their leftist backers like. Until then, they're no more libertarian than either Democrat or Republican.

    I swear they could attract REAL right-wing support if they admitted that Seond Amendment rights are no less important than First Amendment rights, or fourth, or fifth...etc.

    Sorry, it just pisses me off when someone claims to be in favor of civil liberties, yet fails to actually live up to that.

  • ||

    ACLU membership renewed yesterday: $40
    Just cancelled.
    I have been a member for over 30 years.

  • ||

    Just got the mail and some junk mail from The Nation with the slogan "If You are a Tea-bagger, DO NOT open this envelope!"
    What a classy outfit.

  • ||

    Got my SI swimsuit issue in the same batch of mail so it wasn't all bad. Though there was this ad for a free issue of The Nation Swimsuit issue featuring Katrina...

  • ||

    I quit giving them money about 7 years ago...and it was because after I donated to them for a couple of years I got all sorts of left wing bullshit in the mail.

  • ||

    Can't we leave a placeholder or something for deleted posts?

    ------

    NAME/DATE/TIME

    [Steaming pile of dogshit deleted]

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    You really should have a column here, P Brooks. You embody the adage, "Brevity is the soul of wit."

  • ||

    Yes, that would work.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    OT, but deserving its own thread:

    http://blogs.alternet.org/spea.....qus_thread

  • shrike||

    Cain deserves worse.

  • Right Wing Wacko||

    I canceled my ACLU membership over their advocacy for abortion rights and legal benefits for illegal immigrants. Neither of those things has much to do with defending the Bill of Rights as far as I can tell.

  • THE RIGHT||

    There's always the staunch ACLU support for racial quotas!

  • ||

    I disagree with them on school choice and told them that was why I was giving them so little money. They fill a void so I can overlook some things, but not this.
    Bring back Nadine Strossen!

  • JB||

    The Left doesn't care about reform; they just care about FEELINGS. Typically, their own.

    They, like OMG, care, and stuff.

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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