Larry Flynt, Border Patroller

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On KPCC-FM in Pasadena just now, the avowed libertarian-bent Democratic candidate for governor made Mickey Kaus happy by identifying illegal immigration as one of California's most pressing problems. "I think the border should be shut down," Flynt said.

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  1. Everyone wants to be a libertarian without having to be a libertarian.

  2. Somehow, I think Larry is capable of shutting down the border. He seems to get away with just about anything!

  3. Can’t wait for the Shelly Malkin spread in Hustler, heh heh heh…

  4. There’s two types who want to be libertarians without being libertarians:

    1) Those who agree on one or two things and use the title libertarian
    2) Those who are libertarian on almost everything but have one or two exceptions

    If we demand a score of 100% on the purity test we might as well surrender now.

  5. thoreau,

    You forgot:
    3) Those who agree with the general principles of libertarianism, believe we should be moving in that direction, but do not believe in 100% absolutes (just a little bit of gov’t meddling, but a vast reduction of current levels)

    I agree with your statement. If the major parties threw out the non-purists, they would poll at the same levels that the LP does currently. They don’t so they win elections.

  6. Somehow I thought libertarians were for open borders?

  7. Interesting. What I heard earlier was that he wanted to legalize every illegal immigrant currently in California and then shut down the borders.

  8. How about those who believe in all or most libertarian positions, but would still like to get elected?

  9. dragoon,

    The US has already done this once, sort of, in the 1980s.

  10. BTW, “shutting down the borders” would likely be a fairly clear violation of NAFTA, and is about as “doable” as ending drug traffic.

  11. LINO? Lib in Name Only.

  12. Thoreau:

    I was thinking more along the lines of libertarian chic; like what’s-his-face from Vanity Fair et al.

    Frankly, I don’t think the LINOs (good one) do us any favors. It’s the closeted libertarians who use the republican/democrat(?) as a beard we should be gentle with (addressing Mr. Borok’s concern).

  13. Good point on LINO’s.

    OK, I guess my taxonomy of libertarians would be:

    1) LINO’s: agree on one or two things to give themselves a libertarian veneer, but otherwise very statist
    2) Pragmatic sympathizers: People who generally want smaller government overall, just not the nanogovernment favored by purists.
    3) Right-wing quasi-libertarians: They happen to agree with libertarians on a lot of things (taxes, guns, etc.) but they have so much contempt for anybody to the left of themselves. You have to wonder if they really believe smaller government is a good in its own right, or if they just associate Big Government with people they don’t like.
    4) So Close Yet So Far: They almost completely agree with the hard-core libertarian position, but they flunk one or two items on the purity test so they get torn to shreds.
    5) Purists (they tend to post here a lot)

    Put me in category #2.

  14. Dragoon — Right you are, but I didn’t get that exact quote. Essentially, Flynt would give a sort of amnesty to the existing illegals (he didn’t use that exact word), then try like heck to prevent any others from coming in.

  15. Okay, whoever’s made it in so far, close the door behind you!

  16. thoreau,

    Excellent breakdown, though I wonder how well it reconciles with David Boaz’s spectra on pages 20-22 of his primer, or if it even matters.

    I have a lot of trouble reconciling my post-New Deal baggage (I don’t remember a time when we had small government) with my intellectual identification with libertarianism. As a recovering liberal who loathes the socially normative right, wants puny (but perhaps not nano) government, and wants, when I can’t contribute to the solution, somebody, SOMEWHERE, to be on the lookout for the disadvantaged and poor, I think I fall into #2 in your clever list. But I fear that I am instead the fodder you characterize in #4.

    Doesn’t cause me much of a personal conflict, because the ideological prism is far richer and manifest than any reductive spectrum or list we can devise.

    But it’s fun to think about. Cheers!

  17. thoreau and Andrew: Is there another version of #3? The left wing quasi libertarian. Agree with libertarians on a lot of things (drugs, sex, privacy, free speech, free markets even) but just doesn’t trust the “right” enough to completely let go of statist impulses. (We gotta protect the family farm or gun control ain’t prohibition.)

  18. “Left-wing quasi-” could also include people who can’t go whole-hog for the L.P. platform because of a great suspicion of statist property creations—rights to copyright, patent, limited liability, land, the stuff in your pockets…. (The point of that last, exaggerated, point being that one person’s _obviously_ “natural” property can be another’s State Artifact.)

    And of course, I have to mention some Dominion Theologians who call themselves “Christian libertarians” because they want to reduce government to its obvious bare minimal functions of national defence, enforcing contracts and property rights, and stoning blasphemers, adulterers, homosexuals, and so on.

  19. The “Christian Libertarians” seem to overlap strongly with “Right-Wing-Quasi-Libertarians”.

    As for a leftist version of the right-wing-quasi-libertarians, I don’t notice as many. Look on the web and you’ll find a lot of people who describe themselves as libertarian, but also spew a ton of right-wing rhetoric. I don’t mean they think the GOP is the lesser evil (a very reasonable position), I mean they blame all that is bad in the world on “the left”, favor a very aggressive military policy (see recent issues of LP News for letters on why we need to systematically exterminate all non-Sufi Muslims), and basically believe this country is divided between “good salt-of-the-earth gun-owning rural Christians” and everybody else.

    In otherwords, right-wing loonies who profess some sympathy for Libertarians.

    Now, there are many, many left-wing loonies in the world. They probably out-number right-wing loonies. And some of them have anarchist views that verge on libertarian (at least on some issues) but they are less likely to profess sympathy for Libertarians. They’re hard to find on the web, anyway. Why? Probably because the right-wing loonies beat them to the punch and are already squatting on Libertarian soil.

  20. Dabney: Are you saying those particular “statist property creations” are not part of libertarian orthodoxy?

  21. With all the labeling and list addenda, it’s pretty clear that libertarianism supports political diversity in ways recovering ultra-liberals like myself never really understood (and ultra-conservatives, by definition, refuse to brook). As thoreau said, liberal libertarians are hard to find. Nonetheless, I am in constant search of them. Surely, I’m not an ideology of 1 (creepy!).

  22. A libertarian would be one who would maximize freedom. That means starting from where we are: taking in to account current conditions and taking pragmatic positions to make us ever more free. Idealized, absolute positions and demands are for dreamers and for those who truly want other than to maximize freedom.

    Libertarianism lost its way with the poppycock of anarchocapitalism and sneering, knee-jerk anti-statism.

  23. You’re not alone, Andrew. Perhaps a support group is in order.

  24. I think all of those I listed are part of libertarian (as the term is used by we, the Merkins) orthodoxy, which is one reason why left-libertarians distrust it. With the promising exception of some opposition to indefinite extension of intellectual property, libertarians seem to find any sort of property claim if not prima facie valid, then expedient to pretend it were lest the “property” in contention be mismanaged—sort of Straussian to my way of thinking in the latter case, though I’m sure many libertarians are completely sincere in all such cases. The Galambosians, for example, and people who might believe the Gum/Mint have illegally confiscated their ad coelum property rights to the sky.

    All a (characteristically) long-winded way of saying that there seems a definite bias in U.S. libertarians toward accepting all current forms of property, and taking them as equal.

  25. Of course, most liberals think everybody who posts here is a rabid right wing lunatic. As does Judge Guido Calabrese, father of the inimitable Steven Calabrese, to whom we all owe a great debt.

    Judge Calabrese recently spoke at the mildly left wing American Constitution Society annual convention. In the midst of making a few insults towards Republicans and conservatives generally, he waved around a copy of the pocket Constitution that Cato gives out, and said “some right wing group gave me this.” His comment was met with cheers, apparently in agreement with the snotty reference to Cato as some right wing group.

    While the hostility to the right/libertarians and outright conservatives is palpable on this message board, it’s interesting to see how a law disrespecting activist, statist liberal judge – views the libertarian community.

    I’m not sure that the folks on the left are the great friends that many libertarians imagine. A shared love of pot and porn may be as far as that particular love affair goes.

  26. xray,

    A support group, indeed. As long as it doesn’t involve 12 steps, tithes, placard-bearers, or anyone who says, “I want small government, but I want national health insurance, too,” I am so there. ;>

    One artifact of liberalism I am happy to leave behind is the notion that personal responsibility is SECONDARY to federal intervention, that the latter tidily compensates for a lack of the former. As a New Deal casualty, however, I find it hard to subscribe to a clinical construct rife with theoretical civil society institutions that flourish in the absence of any government involvement. Which leads me to my next response…

    D Anghelone,

    I like the idea of “starting from where we are,” which is something I don’t see too often in libertarian policy rhetoric at the national level. Municipal and other local LP victories seem to be producing change at the atomic level, and maybe that’s the way to chip away at big government, instead of seeking to massively roll it back, or abolish it in huge chunks.

  27. Stephen Fetchet says, “While the hostility to the right/libertarians and outright conservatives is palpable on this message board…”

    Wow, I couldn’t disagree more. I find the hostility to come in heavy doses FROM the right. Amazing what our individual lenses reveal.

  28. As to whether the left can be an ally on more than porn and pot:

    It depends on the leftist. Some people (left or right) happen to agree with Libertarians on an issue because they think “this thing is OK and should be allowed” (e.g. gun ownership, drugs, porn, etc.) or “this thing is bad and shouldn’t exist (e.g. most government programs). They just happen to agree.

    Others, while not subscribing to the whole kit and kaboodle of the libertarian philosophy (include me on that list) nonetheless subscribe to the notion that a lot of things just shouldn’t be the job of the gov’t.

    Sometimes it’s because gov’t intervention will make this thing worse. The difference between “gov’t should stay out” and “this thing is bad, it shouldn’t exist” is that the first statement recognizes that gov’t action should be limited in general, the second just thinks that this particular thing done by the government is a problem. Subtle, but important.

    Other times the objection might be that the gov’t simply has no moral right to do something. A lot of “purist” libertarians prefer that approach. But whether you’re a purist or pragmatist, a person with bona fide libertarian sympathies (not just coincidental agreement on a particular issue) subscribes to the notion that some things just shouldn’t be under the authority of politicians and bureaucrats.

    So, a leftist who thinks “Pot should be allowed because it is actually OK” is different from the person who thinks “The gov’t is just creating more problems than it solves when it tries to ban pot” or the person who thinks “What I put in my body is nobody else’s business.” The first leftist thinks society should approve of something, the other two leftists think society should stay out of something.

  29. Mr. Lynch speaks of being a New Deal casualty. Unless he was born into money, Mr. Lynch should have a talk with his grandfather, who was of the first working class generation in history to be able to retire.

    When Libertarians quit their absolutely stupid, superstitious faith in corporate magic and start recognizing the legitimacy of an activist government to act in the interest of the common good, I’ll join up.

  30. “A support group, indeed. As long as it doesn’t involve 12 steps, tithes, placard-bearers, or anyone who says, “I want small government, but I want national health insurance, too,” I am so there. ;>”

    Um, Andrew, I think you just kicked out Matt Welch.

  31. “Prior to the New Deal, the elderly were the age group most likely to live in poverty. Today, they are the least likely.”

    Any hard data on this?

    My understanding of the effects of SS on the old is that it allowed their adult children to go AWOL in taking care of them, and helped further the breakdown of the extended family. Even Hillery has alluded to this “benifit” to the young.

  32. I don’t know why Flynt is wasting his time on politics. He should be working on a feature for Hustler, something like “Migras — Girls of the Border.” You know, glistening naked Mexican chicks climbing over tin fences, that kind of thing. They’d probably work cheaper than his domestic American slags, too.

  33. Well, the basic problem for libertarians is that government program is never going to be effecient, etc. enough for their ever increasing bar. Of course they tend not to look at the pivate sector with such a jaundiced eye.

    Of course what really pisses them off is when a government social program actually becomes popular or desired. 🙂

  34. Andrew,

    “Starting from where we are” is our only option. That has been the only option for every person who has ever lived.

    Whining about the world left to us ridiculous. Whining that precious me has been denied my “right” to be soaring the galaxies as some swashbuckling philosopher would be beyond ridiculous.

    For anyone who wants to improve anything there is no option but to accept that the world is what it is and to take things from there.

  35. Lefty,

    While our grandparents were indeed able to collect the miserly Social Security benefits you extoll, our parents may not collect, and we will almost certainly not. As for our children, the entire idea is laughable. (I am assuming you are in the Generation X or Generation Y category here).

    This is what you get when you create a Ponzi scheme instead of an investment program.

    Today you have the unbelievable spectacle of the AARP weilding their razor-tipped straws poised to plunge them into the bodies of their grandchildren and suck their life-blood yet anew with this absurd prescription drug boondoggle.

  36. Andrew, I salute your grandfather. A penny pinching, union organizing, rabble rouser is OK in my book. You’re probably alright, too.

  37. Prior to the New Deal, the elderly were the age group most likely to live in poverty. Today, they are the least likely. This has occurred, by the way, during the period that our nation rose to become the most economically dominant polity in human history.

    Judging by the popularity of 401ks and IRAs, I think the “no one saves for retirement anymore” theory doesn’t hold water.

  38. Hey Lefty, thanks for your comments. My grandfather, an active union organizer, survived the Depression as a young man. That instilled in him not an appeal for government support, but a strong sensibility for looking out for himself and his own. In other words, he was a fiscal conservative. When he died, he left my grandmother enough money to live comfortably, but not grandly, for thirty years. My grandmother, who raised her daughter (my mother) in the forties and fifties, realized by the sixties that she didn’t have to conserve as much as her husband had because the government was now a succulent teat. She passed this disregard for personal financial responsibility and codependence on government on to my momma, who passed it on to me. That’s what I mean by a New Deal casualty.

    Grandpa had it right when he resisted government influence by striving ever harder to make sure that he never needed to depend on it. It took me a few decades swimming in liberalism to figure that out.

    Do you think the generation that’ll be left penniless in old age because of its dependence on the expectation of social security will turn into grandpa without a vigorous realization of libertarian fiscal ideals? How many thirtysomethings do you know who intelligently and aggressively save for old age? Why should they, since they’ve never known anything but colossal government transfer programs?

    Oh, yeah, and Larry Flynt watches porn. ;>

  39. Lefty states: When Libertarians quit their absolutely stupid, superstitious faith in corporate magic and start recognizing the legitimacy of an activist government to act in the interest of the common good, I’ll join up.

    The thing I can’t see is why you need government in the equation to help people (or “corporate magic”, for that matter) “for the common good”. That strikes me as “putting all of one’s eggs in one basket”…

    Take a national health plan, for instance- why do we need another government beurocracy, more money sent into the coffiers of the congressional slush-fund to be mismanaged
    (spent on whatever war W or his successors have planned, or on various congressmen’s pet pork-barrels), plus adding yet another rationale for the government to get into our lives and tell us what’s “good for us”? Why can’t we, the people, form a national health-collective independent of any federal or state or local government, to provide for all of us, and even the idigent population?

    The government is the policing power in our society- why should those responsable for enforcing the contract between the health policy and the members be the one’s to hold the money? Wouldn’t you rather a separation of the funds from the policing power?

    With over 250 million average Americans contributing to such a national health-trust, we wouldn’t need Bill Gate’s billions (to pick a random example) to pull it off, and with the money in the bank, and collecting interest (rather than being spent in the congressional slush-fund) it would grow rather than shrink over time.

    It should also be a voluntary thing.

    There’s more alternatives to accomplish any goal for the “common good” than escalating the power of the government- simply because if power exists, it will eventually be mis-used.

    I’m not going to quote the old saw about “absolute power corrupting absolutely”, because I think it’s rubbish. Several Roman emperors who had total power were quite dedicated to the rights of citizens (Marcus Aurilius comes to mind) and the welfare of their people- however, I’m willing to bet that there’s at least 4 Nero’s for every one Marcus Aurilius.

  40. Libertarianism lost its way with the poppycock of anarchocapitalism and sneering, knee-jerk anti-statism.

    I don’t know. These are good ways to get libertarian ideas into the camps which would otherwise never hear them (or listen if they did). Such as the traditionally-leftist youth culture.

    As someone mentioned earlier- libertarians need to adopt a more “big tent” approach to their politics, if they’re going to make any real difference in society, and any real inroads into the political establishment.

    In-house purges of those not deemed “real libertarians” because they question idiology on some issues is as pointless (and idiologically unsound) as shooting one’s own foot. In the marketplace of free ideas, as in the marketplace of goods, the soundest product should triumph in the end.

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