Economics

In Your Heart You Know He Could Be Worse

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Nick Gillespie already mentioned Barack Obama's speech in Janesville, Wisconsin, but I want to highlight the candidate's awful proposals:

Democrat Barack Obama said Wednesday that as president he would spend $210 billion to create jobs in construction and environmental industries, as he tried to win over economically struggling voters.

Obama's investment would be over 10 years as part of two programs. The larger is $150 billion to create 5 million so-called "green collar" jobs to develop more environmentally friendly energy sources.

Sixty billion would go to a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to rebuild highways, bridges, airports and other public projects. Obama estimated that could generate nearly 2 million jobs, many of them in the construction industry that's been hit by the housing crisis.

I doubt I need to explain the problem with the idea that government can "create jobs," as opposed to redistributing activity from one part of the economy to another. The real question is whether Obama believes this himself or if he's simply pandering to work-hungry Wisconsin voters. I suspect he's a true believer: We're speaking of a man who co-sponsored a "comparable worth" bill, a sign of either severe statism or severe '70s nostalgia. You can make a reasonable case that Obama's economic intuitions are more libertarian than Hillary Clinton's. It's a lot harder to argue that they're remotely libertarian in themselves. (I should add that not everyone on the left will be enchanted with Obama's stimulus package if those "green collar" jobs turn out to be in the nuclear power industry.)

So why the kind words for the senator in libertarian circles, ranging from the restrained admiration of Ryan McMaken to the enthusiastic support of Joanne McNeil (and, for that matter, my own declaration that Obama is the "least unpalatable" frontrunner left standing)? Because neither Clinton nor McCain is exceptional on economics either, and Obama is clearly better on foreign policy and civil liberties. Not great on foreign policy and civil liberties—he's infamously open to a war with Iran, and his record on the Second Amendment is hardly inspiring. But he wants to withdraw from Iraq and he has attacked the most egregious provisions of the Patriot Act, which is more than you can say for his party's last nominee. I don't plan to vote for Obama, but on balance I prefer him to the leading alternatives.

A couple years ago I urged Democrats to "be good on the issues where the left is supposed to be good," meaning peace, privacy, and free expression. Unlike Kerry in 2004, unlike Gore in 2000, and unlike the other Clinton in '96 and '92, Obama's campaign rhetoric at least leans in that direction. That's worth half a cheer, especially when the GOP seems to have contempt for the positions where it's supposed to be good. It may say more about the quality of the party than the quality of the candidate, but even with the central-planning mentality that Obama displayed in Janesville, a Democratic Party that nominates him will be taking a step in the right direction. A Republican Party that nominates McCain, on the other hand…

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  1. This has to be the worst group of Presidential candidates since…

    Well, I guess since 2004.

    Dammit. Anyone know Ireland’s immigration and citizenship rules?

  2. …but even with the central-planning mentality that Obama displayed in Janesville…

    Oh Dang, for a second there I thought it was Jaynestown.
    Barkeep! Bring set us up with a round of milk.

  3. Oh Dang, for a second there I thought it was Jaynestown.

    Not that far off:

    He robbed from the rich/
    And he gave to the poor/
    Stood up to the man/
    And gave him what for

  4. One good thing about Obama beating Hillary Clinton like Rodney King is that it might end the Clinton triangulation strategy – the one where Democrats AREN’T “good where they’re supposed to be good”, and piss all over civil liberties to pander to soccer moms, in order to gain office.

  5. That’s worth at least half a cheer, especially when the GOP seems to have contempt for the positions where it’s supposed to be good.

    Well, McCain does have a perfect record from CATO on trade, unlike Obama who is awful on trade.

    And McCain is very good on spending in general, which I’d argue is a position where the GOP is “supposed to be good” and has been pretty awful recently.

    He’s also good on agricultural subsidies. He also went to Michigan and opposed the similar industrial planning proposals of Romney, and went to Florida and opposed the National Catastrophe Fund boondoggle.

    I certainly understand opposing McCain from the point of the view of war or civil liberties (though he’s good on the Second Amendment), but I think he’s clearly better on economics than either Democratic candidate, and has shown real strength on precisely some issues where the GOP is supposed to be good and has let down libertarians.

  6. Is he offering some sort of “New Deal”? Because I think we’ve already got one of those, and they tend to be tax hogs.

  7. I personally believe loss of economic freedoms are far worse than the perceived loss of other freedoms. If I have the right of self-protection and the right to trade voluntarily with others, I really don’t believe the other rights can go anywhere. Lose those two, though, and free speech makes zero difference to me. I don’t live my life to express myself. So Obama is as unacceptable as it gets, period.

  8. “he’s infamously open to a war with Iran”

    Doesn’t Iran get a vote in that or is it the case the only the US can start a war and is solely responsible for every war that happens?

    As far as being good on civil liberties, good on civil liberties these days means requiring intelligence agencies to get a warrant based on probably cause to conduct surveillance on suspected foreign terrorist cells overseas if there is any reason to believe that those cells contain a US citizen. It further means that you need a FISA warrant to listen into a communication between two foreign sources both of which are outside of the US but the data happens to pass through a switch or a server on US soil. Why don’t we just be honest and advocate ending all US intelligence collection of any kind absent probable cause, because that is pretty much what that does. Yet Reason will spend every dime of its moral and intellectual capital ensuring that that happens. Reason is to intelligence law what MADD is to drunk driving law. Worse still, people talk about “warrantless surveillance” and then never explain what that means. I have never once in Reason seen those two scenarios explained and justified. It is always just Bush’s evil “warrrantless surveillance”. Spy satellites are warrantless surveillance. All forms of intelligence are warrantless surveillance. But that is generally not what people think of when they think of warrantless surveillance. They think it means letting the government listen to two Americans on American soil talking on the phone. That is not what it means in this context and Reason knows it. I defy anyone to go out to the general public and explain why it is that the US government should go and get a warrant to listen to the phone conversations of Hammas in Lebanon because there are Americans who may be talking. Yet, that is exactly what Reason is advocating but they never say that because they know how ridiculous their position is.

  9. Taktix?,

    The Animal Mother’s greatest work. I miss Firefly.

  10. John T.: McCain is good on some issues. In addition to his stance on spending, his health-care proposals, while imperfect, draw on the libertarian critique of the status quo. But he marks a break with the notion that limited government and free markets should be political ideals, something the Republicans have at least paid lip service to for the last three decades.

    Granted, I’d rather have a president who does some good while saying the wrong things than one whose actions are awful but says the right things. But while that might indicate a silver lining to a McCain presidency, it doesn’t say much for the party that put him in the White House. By picking McCain, the Republicans have chosen “national greatness” conservatism over the much-abused ideals of ’94.

  11. I think it’s funny how Reason keeps saying Obama is more libertarian than Hillary. Being less socialistic and less authoritarian doesn’t make one more libertarian. It just makes Obama less socialistic and less authoritarian. Hillary, Obama and McCain are probably the least libertarian bunch out of all the candidates who started out.

  12. “By picking McCain, the Republicans have chosen “national greatness” conservatism over the much-abused ideals of ’94.”

    I don’t think that is true. First the 94 Congress didn’t repudiate Reagan and interventionism. Clinton got plenty of support for Bosnia and Kosovo. Further outside of Ron Paul, no Republicans advocated withdrawing from Iraq. Romney or Huckabe were trying to be more Catholic than the pope on Iraq. I think most Republicans who voted for McCain voted for him because they want to win in Iraq and they like the guy, not because they wanted National Greatness whatever that is.

    Obama voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act. I honestly don’t think he has any good idea what the law should be beyond revoked a few rarely used but controversial things like scanning library records. Once in office, the responsibility of the job is going to hit him in the face. It is also going to hit the Democrats in Congress in the face as well. If something bad happened today, they could blame Bush and rightfully so, he is the President and he is in charge. If the President becomes a Dem and the Dems will think a lot differently about the Patriot Act. Further, they won’t have the media or the Republicans to check them. The biggest nightmare that keeps Democrats awake at night is another 9-11 or worse on their watch. I honestly don’t think the Patriot Act would change that much if a Democrat were elected President. If anything, pro surveillance reform would be easier to get through Congress because Democrats would want to show the country that they are just as tough on terror as the Republicans. Right now they are just talking to their base. In power, they would have to talk to the rest of the country.

  13. “We’re speaking of a man who co-sponsored a “comparable worth” bill, a sign of either severe statism or severe ’70s nostalgia”

    Agreed it’s stupid, but probably more of a sign he’s running for the Democratic nomination against a woman…

    I’m not sure his other plans are all that daft. Most people who participated in the CCC look back on those programs as saving them, and I’ve actually used their “products” (I’ve stayed at state parks created in part via CCC). And if I heard right Obama wanted to create construction jobs by funding infrastructure repair, and even the right-thinking freedom lovers here who have sworn to defy the Census have admitted that public infrastructure is something they ain’t gonna boycott any time soon!

  14. At least Obama is finally saying something substantive. His speeches are usually more along the lines of “We can believe in hope. Our future lies ahead. Our country is great. Yes we can!”

  15. Being less socialistic and less authoritarian doesn’t make one more libertarian.

    Sure it does. Being more libertarian doesn’t make you a libertarian. Mussolini was more libertarian than Stalin.

    I don’t think that is true. First the 94 Congress didn’t repudiate Reagan and interventionism. Clinton got plenty of support for Bosnia and Kosovo.

    And plenty of opposition, too. But I wasn’t referring to foreign policy.

    I honestly don’t think the Patriot Act would change that much if a Democrat were elected President.

    You could be right. But despite his reauthorization vote, I think the Patriot Act is more likely to be improved (though not repealed) under Obama than under Clinton or McCain. Even as he voted for it he called for further reforms.

  16. Cesar
    I hear you, but maybe that meme is a bit unfair. Hasn’t Obama, and most of the candidates, had fairly detailed policy choices on their websites for a while? It’s not like they are hiding them…A lot of public speakers don’t go through the minutea of policy debate when speaking at rallys (I don’t blame them, they are called rallys).

  17. I’ve got hope,
    Yes, I do.
    I’ve got hope,
    How ’bout you?

  18. How many people seriously check the candidate’s website? Hillary and McCain at least give positions in their speeches. Obama gives HOPE(tm) when really all he stands on is standard liberal Democrat boilerplate. The question is will the voters realize this in a general, or will they be so starstruck they vote for him even when the country is still center-right.

  19. John, that’s a nice indignant ramble, but it does not address any of the substantive issues actually being debated with regard to the FISA bill.

    If the administration wanted merely a bill authorizing the intercept of foreign communications that happen to pass through a US switch, it could have it instantly and without debate.

    It’s the duplicitous way in which the administration has linked that issue to the unrelated matter of telecom immunity that has upset some people. Others have been upset because the language of the bill seems to allow surveillance without a warrant of anyone, anywhere, as long as the intelligence agency thinks that person is in contact with a person overseas.

    Get rid of those two elements of the FISA “reform”, and the bill would have passed long ago.

    Although I would also say that it’s quite understandable that people are hesitant to reform FISA on the President’s say-so when the President wasn’t willing to obey the previous law in the first place, broke it at will, and only went looking for a reform when news of his massive lawbreaking was leaked to the press. And it’s also quite understandable that many of us are hesitant to listen to lectures about FISA from people whose primary complaint when news that the administration simply ignored the law was leaked was the leak itself, and not the administration’s conduct. The existence of these two events in the history of the debate over this law makes any claim of good faith on the part of the administration or the proponents of FISA changes laughable.

  20. severe statism

    Obama’s form of statism is bad, no doubt, but McCain’s would be worse. Obama’s is sort of an “inept-at-basic-economic-principles-and-gonna-place-annoying-but-not-crippling-restrictions-on-the-flourishing-of-the-economy-nanny-statism” while McCain’s is a “gonna-do-some-of-those-Obama-nanny-things-especially-with-regard-to-campaign-finance-and-protectionism-but-will-add-on-top-some-scary-fascist-authoritarian-Rush-wrote-a-lot-of-songs-about-just-this” statism.

    The crimes of this country in the foreign policy arena are so egregious that we need to do whatever it takes to turn them around, even if it means libertarian principles taking a hit on the domestic front. Of the available candidates, Obama is the best choice for that. (If we take him at his word.)

  21. Ethan-

    I think McCain is better than Obama on trade.

    I’m afraid with a 60+ Democratic majority and President Obama this country could take a very nasty 1920s-style protectionist turn.

  22. Our only hope is the national head lines read on Nov 1st, McCain & Obama Caught in Threesome with Dead Hooker .

    One will expand the warfare state, the other clearly believes in National Industrial Policy despite all the proof of the twentieth century to the contrary.

    Even if the public pulls the lever for the Green candidate, the choice would likely be a more sensible one than what the DNC/RNC lover’s spat has to offer.

    (Notice how I tied love into the posts? The Valentine’s Day thematics are just icing on the cake)

  23. The inability of the libertarian movement to get behind Obama (or at least make any asserion that he isn’t by far the best of the remaining three) really destroys any moral authority the movement can claim, especially after so many years of being bedfellows with a Republican Party that eviscerates libertarianism. Don’t vote, fine. Support a Republican since oh, 2002, and you are a party shill in lamb’s clothing.

    Anyone concerned with Obama’s raising spending should remember that McCain advocates increasing a 100 billion a year (that we know about) expenditure.

    I would hope that, given the choice, you would set your wallet on fire instead of giving it to someone who promises to use it to continue his murder spree, given the choice.

    Given the tone of discussion around here (b-b-b-but healthcare) doesn’t make me that confident.

  24. BTW, how does this sound:

    Find a Green who is sensible and libertarian enough not to churn our stomachs. Get him nominated, and the left/right convergence has a strong chance to compete in November.

    Unless, too many Greens are soured with the Nader experience in 2000, and are likely going for Obama?

  25. I say just vote for a third party. Any third party at all. Tell your friends to do the same. That way, neither candidate can get 50% and claim a “mandate”.

  26. I think its a mistake to evaluate Obama’s purported “libertarian” impulses in isolation from the Democratic Congress.

    I have a really hard time imagining Obama vetoing anything that the Dems in Congress put on his desk.

    The likely results of his administration, then, are going to be driven by Congress. Does anyone believe for an instant that a Dem Congress, especially one with 60+ Dem Senators, is going to send him anything on domestic issues that doesn’t reduce liberty?

    On civil liberties, I guess there’s some chance that we might get a little something back on the domestic security state, but not much, since the Dems will be scared to death of handing the Repubs an issue.

  27. The inability of the libertarian movement to get behind Obama

    Why the fuck would I follow your path to madness, Whiskey? November is a life time away in political time, there is still time to come up with reasonable alternatives than the nonsense the Dem/pubs offer us.

  28. Doesn’t Iran get a vote in that or is it the case the only the US can start a war and is solely responsible for every war that happens?

    If the US pre-emptively starts the war based on false pretenses (e.g., Iraq war), then, the answer is yes the US is pretty much solely responsible.

  29. Hillary, Obama and McCain are probably the least libertarian bunch out of all the candidates who started out.

    Man what? We’re talking about candidates who started out including John Edwards and Mike Huckabee, right?

  30. November is a life time away in political time, there is still time to come up with reasonable alternatives than the nonsense the Dem/pubs offer us.

    haha no you’re delusional

  31. I mean seriously, if your plan to avoid a presidency of an overt neoconservative after the major shift war-ward from Bush’s pre-election rhetoric and his post-election policy is to rely on the Ron Paul Overlution, you’ve turned yourself into the equivalent of Noam Chomsky: loquacious and irrelevant.

  32. If the US pre-emptively starts the war based on false pretenses (e.g., Iraq war), then, the answer is yes the US is pretty much solely responsible.

    And so the invasion of Kuwait, the first round of fighting with Iraq, the truce, and all the violations of said truce by Iraq, just go straight down the memory hole.

  33. An Obama-McCain race is better than Clinton-Giuliani that everyone was expecting. Not by much, but better.

  34. RC Dean, the war wasn’t started on that premise and you know it.

  35. That way, neither candidate can get 50% and claim a “mandate”.

    Yeah, because the inability to claim a mandate will sure stop those pols in their tracks.

    Wait, what?

  36. Our only hope is the national head lines read on Nov 1st, McCain & Obama Caught in Threesome with Dead Hooker.

    Trifecta if that dead hooker is Hillary.

  37. That way, neither candidate can get 50% and claim a “mandate”.

    Didn’t stop Clinton in 92, or Clinton in 96, or Bush in 2000.

  38. Hey, you want all want to come up with a better strategy? It isn’t perfect but its the best I can think of given the circumstances. Better than giving your stamp of approval to either socialized medicene or Empire.

  39. As far as being good on civil liberties, good on civil liberties these days means requiring intelligence agencies to get a warrant based on probably cause to conduct surveillance on suspected foreign terrorist cells overseas if there is any reason to believe that those cells contain a US citizen.

    This is a good thing.

    It further means that you need a FISA warrant to listen into a communication between two foreign sources both of which are outside of the US but the data happens to pass through a switch or a server on US soil.

    This is a good thing.

    Why don’t we just be honest and advocate ending all US intelligence collection of any kind absent probable cause, because that is pretty much what that does.

    Since we seem to be turning away from spying on countries and instead want to spy on criminals, I would prefer to see probable cause enter the picture.

  40. Cesar,

    Here is the only way I can look at it:

    Since 1964, no Democrat President has been elected who was worse on small government issues of all kinds – civil, social, and economic – than George W. Bush.

    McCain is publicly committed to maintaining and advancing all of Bush’s policies.

    That ties McCain for the worst.

    If Obama is a run of the mill post-Johnson Democrat, I’ll take that over W or a crazy old coot who has committed to aping W.

  41. arguing that “socialized healthcare” (Obama’s cheaper private health insurance plus increased assistance to the poor, which is a far cry from UK’s NHS, slippery slope aside) is even comparable to fucking ten thousand years of war is god damned missing the forest for the trees.

    Hell, full blown single-payer/no private insurance health care plan is miles and miles better than McCain’s Warhammer 40K fantasies.

  42. Fluffy-

    If there was a Republican Congress, I might agree with you.

    But theres a good chance Democrats will have an overwhelming majority next year. Tax hikes, socialized medicene, protectionism, gun control. Thats not what I want.

  43. Whikey, the thought of having a protectionist, economic ignoramus like Sherrod Brown running our trade policy doesn’t scare you even a little bit?

  44. Ireland, huh? Is that the new Rainbow Puppy Island?

    I love Harp. It’s my favorite beer.

  45. Cesar: there’s not just sunlight between how scared I am of the two alternatives, it’s a fucking supernova.

    This idea of “kinda sorta semi-free markets but not really at the cost of basically any sort of moral superiority that libertarianism has left after not bolting the Republican Party in droves” head-in-the-sand attitude that you’re suggesting renders libertarianism functionally irrelevant, and frankly if you want kinda-but-not-really-free markets over free-from-warmongerng minds, well that’s your perogative but well you’re whoring yourself out pretty horribly.

  46. Whiskey I hear some of what your saying. But part of me thinks “A war ends someday, new government programs are forever”.

    As I said if this was a Republican Congress it would be a no-brainer to pick Obama. I fear he isn’t like the two post-Johnson Dems (Carter and Clinton). They were moderate, centrist governors of southern states. This guy has the most liberal voting record in the Senate and comes from one of the bluest states in the country.

    If you still want to vote for him to end the Iraq War, fine. But theres a pretty big trade-off involved, one I’m not sure I could make.

    One thing is for sure, if he picks a pro-gun, pro-free trade VP it will ease my fears.

  47. Seriously, “waah waah my fucking taxes” while your government is waging a wholly unjustifiable war is just morally bankrupt.

    This is the King George, this is the slavery, this is the Jim Crow of our times and you’re worried about your taxes?!?! Give me a break.

  48. I’d personally like to see what would happen with a democrat in the white house with a dem majority in congress. Would they finally get over themselves and do what they have been promising their voters that they want to do, or would they continue to look for a boogeyman?

  49. Reinmoose, best case scenario:

    President Obama and his Congressional super-majority move way too far to the left domestically for the country to stomach, leading to the Republican party dumping the theocrats and neocons and getting back to their roots in 2010, where they take back the majority.

    That moves Obama back to the center, and we basically are back in 1995-2000 without the scandals. Not libertopia but its probably the best we could hope for.

  50. I don’t know, Cesar. I don’t think moving too far left for the American public is something that the dems are willing to do. I do, however, think it would be comical to see what they would do in a situation of “Oh shit, now we have to make good on our promises! Oh shit, really!? You mean our promises were irresponsible this whole time!? Fuck!”

  51. I don’t think moving too far left for the American public is something that the dems are willing to do.

    They sure did it in 1993-1994 with their health care, gun bills, and tax hikes, and that was with a centrist Democratic President.

  52. But that was the American public of 1994, not of 2008. In 2008, even the republicans are talking about “making sure everyone is insured”(re: healthcare) and they spend more than anyone I’ve ever seen. Modern day republican voters are for more protectionist policies, or “level playing fields.” *gag*

  53. See what I mean about “b-b-b-but my taxes?”

    Pathetic.

  54. Its about the war stupid.

  55. Hey whiskey, if economic policy doesn’t matter at all to you don’t complain when we have a Nader-Buchannan style trade policy and 90% marginal tax rates dragging the entire economy into a depression.

  56. whiskey –

    Gov’t health care isn’t a money issue.

    Due to inefficiencies, when the gov’t runs the post office, your mail is late. Due to inefficiencies , when the gov’t runs health care, people will die.

    Please, before you retort with some smartass comment, just think about it.

  57. yes that’s exactly what I said

    my cunning plan to say that the war is far more important than whatever negatives exist in Obama’s proposed policies has bee foiled by your asking “but what if Obama was really like one of the
    lizardmen from that sci-fi television series V?”

    Guess I’ll just have to get bribed to agree with one-thousand-years glorious war against the rapacious musselman.

  58. well, there goes that whole “smartass comment” thing. oh well.

  59. Cesar, come on. The Bush tax cuts are not the Reagan tax cuts. Even if they were undone, we’re still talking about extremely minor marginal rate changes.

    You sure make the jump from rolling back Bush’s 3% cut, or duplicating Clinton’s minor increases, to “90% marginal tax rates” really fast.

    No reasonably possible election outcome in 2008 is going to get anybody any 90% marginal tax rates.

    Basically the tax issue being argued here is whether Bush’s miniscule rate reduction – entirely paid for by debt, which will eventually have to be repaid with interest – is a significant enough “economic libertarianism” issue that it outweighs his regime of torture, secrecy, hidden prisons and an open concentation camp, and massive surveillance. Oh, and that whole “refuse to retreat from an ambush because Rove told me it would be effete to do so” war policy thing.

  60. Whiskey,

    I get that you’re upset about the war, where are you getting your numbers from? 10,000 or 1,000 years of war? Also, economic issues have a greater impact than your ‘b-b-but my taxes’ caricature would suggest.

  61. Fluffy-

    I was engaging in some hyperbole to point out the absurdity of “but economic policies don’t matter anymore!”

    Nevertheless, certain left wing blogs and magazines have been agitating for the kind of economic policy I wrote above. Especially with regards to trade.

  62. TF: and when single-payer health care is on the table instead of what’s actually being proposed, noting that insofar as health care is like a million miles away from a free market as it stands today, you might convince me to give it the weight it deserves. Given the two possible end-points (and the Republican chattering on health care), Obama’s plan is comparatively a very minor shift. So no, health care and Iraq are on entirely different levels in American politics today.

  63. I disagree that it is a minor shift. It is a pretty major shift, in the wrong direction. If you think surveillance is bad now, wait until 50.1% of the population can vote to make you piss in a cup.

  64. From the libertarian perspective, we’re fucked regardless of who wins.

    The best thing you can say about Obama versus the other two is that he seems the most likely to be inept at getting new nanny-state crapola through the system.

    Oh, and Whiskey, if you really think that Obama is going to be much different/better on foreign policy issues, I think you are in for a big letdown.

  65. kohlrabi: straight from the horse’s ass: I’m just quoting McCain here.

    And I’m not dismissing economic issues, only sayibg they pale in importance by like a thousand-fold this election cycle.

    Cesar: fuck you, you strawmanned me and I called you on it.

  66. It is precisely this kind of thinking (that screwing with the economy only affects people insofar as what they pay on their taxes) that has lead to our current economic state. It’s a complete and total dismissal of the possibility of unintended consequences that arrogant pricks to be like “b-b-b-but my taxes” while mocking people with legit concerns.

    I most certainly am not going to vote for John McCain unless he takes me (or maybe another libertarian type) on as his running mate and then promptly resigns as president due to health reasons.

  67. whiskey,

    I honestly haven’t heard that quote. He said he’d support a 1-10,000 year war? I heard he’d be OK with troops in Iraq for that long, but that really is a different story. We have troops in a lot of places we aren’t at war with.

  68. not saying that’s great.

  69. Reinmoose: saying “oh but unintended consequences” is basically using the harm principle that is so rightly derided. Yes, Obama’s plans aren’t libertarian, but to try to say that they will be anywhere on par with the known consequences of Iraq really deserves more than just unintended consequences.

    kohlrabi: unlike, say South Korea, where we are ensuring that North Korea doesn’t invade (supposedly), Iraq is about supplying sucrity to Iraq against Iraqis, which carries the implication that we’re going to be fighting during that time because the only way that we would need to provide security for Iraqis against Iraqis would be if there’s still widespread violence, so we’d be in the same situation we’re in now, but for 10,000 years.

  70. When every candidate has some aspect that disgusts (and when isn’t that the case?), some ideal(s) will be sacrificed. So one chooses the lesser of the evils. Duh.

    Whiskey is abso-fucking-lutely right. All the other evils pale in comparison to WarHammer 40k.

    Get a grip, people.

  71. So one chooses the lesser of the evils. Duh.

    The lesser of two evils is still evil. Duh.

  72. Every frickin’ election it’s the same. Why is it, how can it be, that such a bunch of otherwise sophisticated people get so wadded up over what a political candidate promises?

    They’re lying! What the hell difference does it make what they say?

    Didn’t you see their mouths move?

  73. It’s not surprising that cosmotarians would support Obama, because he’s one of them.

  74. We’ve been giving billions upon billions in foreign aid for 45+ years now and you’re particularly upset because of that bill….why again?

  75. What Warhammer 40k Space Marine chapter would McCain lead? Or is he more of an Imperial Guard/Navy guy?

  76. Eldar, because he’s so old, get it

  77. November is a life time away in political time, there is still time to come up with reasonable alternatives than the nonsense the Dem/pubs offer us.

    haha no you’re delusional

    Not at all. The populist revolt of ’92 looked to be dead at the same time in the process as of this very moment when Buchanan fell to the way side by the Bush campaign, only to rise from the dead with the Perot campaign in the late Spring/Summer season. Of course, Perot shot his foot off when he quit the race, and later rejoined.

    As a model it is doable.

    It is in fact a good year for such a turn, as Bernanke primes the pump and inflation and artificial scarcities (the alternative energy bill) jack prices up even more (bags of wheat from 9 to 23 bucks, ouch). We shouldn’t let an establishmentarian Democrat take advantage the situation when all they have to offer is pie in the sky nonsense.

  78. The larger is $150 billion to create 5 million so-called “green collar” jobs to develop more environmentally friendly energy sources.

    Fifteen bucks an hour? Where does he plan on creating these jobs? India?

  79. You’re delusional if you think populism will be anything like libertarianism. Remember that the populist revolt of ’92 was lead by a guy who wanted to expand the war on drugs and end free trade. A balanced budget qua balanced budget doesn’t really mean anything standing alone. I mean, hell, if economics is your overriding concern (and if it is, don’t call yourself a libertarian; call yourself a fiscal conservative), populism is the last thing you want.

    Ron Paul was the biggest public face modern libertarianism has ever gotten, he offered a clear third way from politics as ordinary, and was roundly rejected by the public, and I don’t think it was for want of money. The idea that another libertarian candidate would fare any better in the general election in ’08 is totally wishful thinking.

    I mean seriously, who are you hoping for, Michael Bloomberg?

  80. Whiskey,

    Out of curiosity, why are you demanding that people support a would be thief like Obama as a price for preventing McCain from ascending to the throne?

    Instead of getting bent out of shape because people don’t want Obama, why don’t you just shoot John McCain? If you are willing to let McCain live, aren’t you also implicitly supporting Warhammer 40K?

    The point I am trying to make here is that there are certain lines even you won’t cross to prevent McCain from gaining the presidency. Don’t call other people names merely because their lines are drawn in different places.

    Disclaimer for the clue impaired: I am not in any way advocating the assassination of John McCain. As JFK, McKinley & Lincoln showed, when a destructive politician is assassinated, usually a more destructive one takes his place. This comment was made in the spirit of Robert Lois Stevenson’s “A Small Proposal”

  81. The lesser of two evils is still evil. Duh.

    No shit. If you pull your arm while keeping yourself from pitching forward and smashing your face on some concrete, that really does hurt, to.

    Unrelated: tarran, you’re being a schmuck. Read what you posted at 7:40pm and think real hard about it. You see, in “A Modest Proposal” by Swift, he was actually making a good point about British mistreatment of the Irish, not just using stupid hyperbole as a substitute for an argument.

  82. “John Thacker | February 14, 2008, 11:58am | #

    And McCain is very good on spending in general, which I’d argue is a position where the GOP is “supposed to be good” and has been pretty awful recently.”

    McCain wants to, and will, expand the size of the military significantly. If he cuts “pork” by $100 million and increases spending on the military by $100 billion, how is that “good on spending in general”?

  83. Because Obama’s positives outweigh his negatives which are shared among basically every candidate for the Presidency aside from Paul who has his own negatives (he’s fucking crazy and an advocate for pseudopopulist social puritanism dressed in libertarian clothing) that outweigh his positives (he won’t kill drug users)

    The whole “go back to the Constitution” schtick of his ignores the 14th Amendment (which is horribly misinterpreted these days), but the idea that federalism survived the 14th Amendment runs counter to that whole “original constitution” he’s so fond of (see Section 5 of the 14th Amendment and pages 60-68 of Restoring the Lost Constitution by Barnett, and tell me that that, say, the power to ban or legalize abortion is forbidden to Congress, because if a fetus has a natural right to not be killed, then banning abortion is clearly a federal matter under the 14th amendment, but if not, being able to make your own medical decisions is a natural right and then legalizing abortion is a federal matter under the 14th amendment; either way the Constitution clearly doesn’t command that it be left to the states but instead in fact commands a uniform federal policy one way or the other; I don’t see how natural law is different in California than in Texas.) unless he wants to repeal the 14th amendment (which, given his statements regarding birthright citizenship, I wouldn’t put past him). Huge digression, but it shows how his devotion to the Constitution is a sham in my eyes. (And don’t start quoting the Supreme Court at me because if you’re going to talk about the “original constitution,” they’re entirely irrelevant.)

    I mean hell, libertarianism has never been “if we just followed the constitution everything would be okay” because, for example, the invasion of Iraq that I hate so much was clearly authorized by Congress, and if “authorizing an invasion” doesn’t count as declaring war, then I’m not sure what would.

    And, as a corollary, I really can’t see an argument that a 50% marginal tax rate across the board on the local level is unconstitutional, but it’s a fucking dumb idea.

  84. Remember that the populist revolt of ’92 was lead by a guy who wanted to expand the war on drugs and end free trade. A balanced budget qua balanced budget doesn’t really mean anything standing alone.

    Meaningless tirade. My argument was clearly about political strategy not the nature of the populist revolt itself. The fact it was too nuanced for you goes a long way into explaining why you are drinking the Obama Kool-Aid.

    I mean, hell, if economics is your overriding concern (and if it is, don’t call yourself a libertarian; call yourself a fiscal conservative), populism is the last thing you want.

    Rhetorical padding that only wastes our time with semantics.

    (he’s fucking crazy and an advocate for pseudopopulist social puritanism dressed in libertarian clothing)

    Hell of a job you are doing persuading libertarians to go Obama in November. The best thing you could do for an Obama victory is shut the fuck up.

  85. “…and tell me that that, say, the power to ban or legalize abortion is forbidden to Congress, because if a fetus has a natural right to not be killed,…”

    Fetuses are not “persons,” so they have no rights at all under the Constitution or any of its amendments. The 14th amendment only applies to “persons.”

    “…being able to make your own medical decisions is a natural right and then legalizing abortion is a federal matter under the 14th amendment; either way the Constitution clearly doesn’t command that it be left to the states but instead in fact commands a uniform federal policy one way or the other;…”

    I hope that’s your opinion, and not Randy Barnett’s.

  86. I’d go further and say that even assuming a fetus has a right to life, it doesn’t have a right to the mother’s body’ so abortion can theoretically be made illegal once it is not necessary to evict the fetus, i.e. viability.

    As far as the whole “right to determine medical treatment” is concerned, I’m pretty sure that was what Abagail Alliance was about, and I’m pretty sure that was a solidly libertarian argument.

  87. if fetuses are people with a right to life, that is

  88. oh, and alan: gl hf nextmap it ain’t happening

  89. oh, and alan: gl hf nextmap it ain’t happening

    Next time, try English. I learned it, so can you.

  90. “Lose those two, though, and free speech makes zero difference to me. I don’t live my life to express myself. So Obama is as unacceptable as it gets, period.”

    Thank you for at lest confirming in part, what I have always believed drives many Libertarians. Civil Liberties only seem to extend as far as the nearest cash register. You don’t plan on expressing yourself, so those liberties are boring to you? Brilliant.

    Abortion rights, human rights in general, war, a refusal to support religious cowboys, and so on, are merely cursory issues. Can I get a tax cut to but the new boat that I’ve been pining for?

    I’ve often felt that these Libertarian websites are full of finance geeks who are forever pissed that they can’t play Monopoly without any rules. Everything else is negotiable, which I find morally repugnant.

    I loathe them as much as I do the religious right. Both groups seem guided by an almost sociopathic interest in their own philosophy, regardless of any negative impact that it might have on anyone else’s rights.

    They would probably support a Holocaust party if they guaranteed them a tax cut. They’re certainly the easiest votes to buy.

  91. Obama: Tolerant and cosmopolitan. The choice of Cosmotarians!

  92. “Lose those two, though, and free speech makes zero difference to me. I don’t live my life to express myself. So Obama is as unacceptable as it gets, period.”

    It is not exactly the opinion I would express, but not I’m not about to go strap some bombs to my chest and blow up financeers and Randians out of some vague sense of hatred towards them.

    I don’t know if it in any way describes you, it seems quite possible you are just responding to something that got under your skin, but, that caveat aside, there are a lot of people who feel that they are only as good as the opinions they have or the opinions they express i.e. politics as a form of charity becomes the cornerstone of one’s own personal morality.

    When that is the case it is difficult to divorce your feelings from the validity of an arguement. It also leads to a tendency to deny to one you disagree his humanity.

  93. Obama is certainly better on civil liberties and foreign policy issues from a Fascist perspective. But there’s nothing remotely “libertarian” about him on both fronts.

    You can’t be Pro-Civil Liberties and support Al Qaeda. Being aligned with Fascists like Radical Muslims is anti-libertarian, not pro-libertarian.

    Jesse Walker seems to be engaging in Orwellian double-speak: “Fascism = libertarianism,” “opposition to Fascism = Fascism.”

  94. OK, I find that statement about not caring about liberty other than trade and guns pretty asinine too.

    In its defense I would only point out this: in libertopia, politics is [almost] irrelevant, because [nearly] all political decisions have essentially already been made. This would dramatically decrease the relevance of the various political or participatory liberties.

    But that’s a very minor defense, because a system with economic freedom and “gun” freedom but without civil liberties won’t stay partially free for very long. It’s not a stable arrangement.

  95. Here’s the thing, from my perspective. If the GOP retains just 41 senators, they can seriously stonewall new legislation against Obillary. New programs just won’t happen. However, if McCain wins, the Democrats won’t significantly reign in his military adventurism, and will bloat spending. A GOP president can’t provide a check on Democratic (or Republican, apparently) spending, but the GOP senatorial caucus can seriously reign in a spendthrift Democratic president, barring a Democratic legislative supermajority.

    So I still see Obama as better than McCain, because he’s likely to be more susceptible to checks and balances. Clinton(I) was damaging to the country in many ways, but the GOP in congress did keep spending growth to a duller roar than we’d seen for the previous 2 administrations, even during their minority years from ’92-’94.

    If the election goes to between Hillary and McCain, I’ll most likely vote Libertarian, unless H-dog really pisses me off.

  96. Here’s the thing, from my perspective. If the GOP retains just 41 senators, they can seriously stonewall new legislation against Obillary. New programs just won’t happen.

    Not sure that 41 would be enough, really, considering that senators like Arlen Specter aren’t among those up for re-election.

    The cycle features 23 Republicans and 12 Democrats up for re-election. It’s not out of the question at all that there would be 41 Republican senators after the election. If that happens, say goodbye to the secret ballot for union elections. We already have seen Specter’s vote on that issue, and we’ve already seen the Democratic Senators vote unanimously on the issue. I also strongly suspect that a national health care plan (at least along the lines of the Massachusetts plan) would be passed.

    I expect that the Democrats will hold both houses of Congress; they will certainly hold the Senate. For that reason, I still think that gridlock is a better result, and I can’t imagine favoring Obama.

    President Obama and his Congressional super-majority move way too far to the left domestically for the country to stomach, leading to the Republican party dumping the theocrats and neocons and getting back to their roots in 2010, where they take back the majority.

    Yeah, that’s the best case scenario. Want a worst case scenario? McCain’s loss, despite his dislike by professional libertarians, is taken as a sign that pro-trade, anti-spending politics have run their course, and that the public mood has shifted in favor of government spending, regulation, and protectionism. This would have a lot of support, since issue polls right now show that the American people have moved in that direction since 2006, whereas positions on things like guns and abortion are unchanged. Obama continues rejecting NAFTA, welfare reform, and the entire Clinton legacy, while Huckanomics becomes ascendant, and both parties become less libertarian.

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