"Ah See Freedom in the Ahhs of Wild Creatures!"

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The witty Michael Idov covered the Libertarian Party convention for The New Republic; I talked to him a bit there, a little bit jealous that he could collect notes and observations without the worry of filing every day. He needed only to file this monster-sized piece, rather innacurately subtitled "the tragicomic demise of the Libertarian Party." He provides some context by quoting reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty.

As Brian Doherty writes in his definitive 741-page tome, Radicals for Capitalism, being a libertarian means "sailing on seas of opposition and indifference with an often bizarre and difficult bunch of shipmates." The movement's embrace of personal freedom is wide enough to welcome a Wall Street wing concerned mostly with deregulation; a sci-fi contingent dreaming of space colonies and immortality; a sizable anarchist (or "minarchist") faction preaching dissolution of almost all federal agencies; and, in the last few years, a steady, surly influx of 9/11 "truthers."

But there's a little proof of why Denver wasn't a "demise." The "truthers" didn't win. I remember running around the convention hall after the fourth round of balloting when supporters of the final three candidates from one state caucused to make their case for their choice. A Mary Ruwart supporter explained that only her candidate would "look into the truth of 9/11." This was sold, by the way, as something that could popularize the party.

Never mind! Idov does a heckuva job capturing the drama of events like the Friday night "alternative debate."

A few doomed dabblers march across the stage, serving up a glimpse into the party's various now-endangered constituencies. Christine Smith, a New Age-y redhead with a musical twang, says things like "Ah see freedom in the ahhs of wild creatures." Alden Link is an older gentleman who talks exactly like Truman Capote, except about the Second Amendment.

And then something electrifying happens. A man from Las Vegas named Wayne Allyn Root saunters to the podium. A ruddy bookmaker and TV sports handicapper who once co-hosted a show with Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, Root looks like a cross between "SNL"'s Darrell Hammond-as-Bill Clinton and Biff from Back To the Future. He's been itching to diversify from odds-making and TV appearances, and recently wrote the book Millionaire Republican, about "creating personal wealth in the GOP-dominated era." (It came out in 2006.) Soon after, he had his own "Libertarian awakening," as he calls it. Root's brochure baldly paints his candidacy as a pure p.r. project. His detailed "sixteen-year plan" for the party has such milestones as "Wayne hits a local college nightspot and dances with the younger set. The video makes U Tube" and "Wayne becomes a frequent guest on 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos,' Wayne's Columbia University classmate." (Stephanopoulos on Root: "I definitely didn't know him.") His other Columbia classmate? "Barrack [sic] Obama." P.r. gold.

Is this what it looked like on C-SPAN?

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  1. You forgot to mention that it was titled “Freedom Freaks”. I guess that’s only fair, since I refer to those at TNR as “Statist Fucks”.

  2. a sizable anarchist (or “minarchist”) faction

    Um, dude, maybe you need to spend more time on your background research next time, and less on collecting humourous anecdotes.

  3. a siazable male (or “female”) faction

    Did the article include that line, too?

    Seriously, asking what TNR thinks of the Libertarian party is like asking Pat Robertson what he thinks of Kerry Howley. A) Who would give a shit? and B) Why would you link to it?

  4. I guess Wayne Allyn Root is what a vice president should be*. An eccentric, mascot-like fellow.

    *If you think VPs should be like rap hypemen.

  5. Doesn’t “demise” presuppose life? Not to belittle the crappiness of Bob Barr as a decoder-ring libertarian, but it’s not as if the LP has had a particularly enthusiastic candidate in quite a while (I’m too young to be sure about Paul, but I know none of his successors really generated happy-happy buzz, or significant vote tallies).

  6. I miss the great fiction Glass use to write for TNR…these new fiction writers are just not all that good.

  7. Seriously, asking what TNR thinks of the Libertarian party is like asking Pat Robertson what he thinks of Kerry Howley. A) Who would give a shit? and B) Why would you link to it?

    A – No one.

    B – but it is, on occasion, HI-larious.

  8. Are you suggesting that an article in The New Republic was inaccurate?

  9. Yeah, this is what it looked like more or less on CSPAN and the various blogs covering it. As a rather radical libertarian myself (someone tell Idov that anarchist and “minarchist” are not the same thing), I was disappointed by the fact that the people I was most inclined to agree with, ideologically, were so batshit insane. Barr’s not perfect, but he’s honest, and I’ll take honest imperfection and coalition-building over dogmatic .4% radicalism with a side of crazy conspiracy theories any day, even if I’m a radical myself.

    And it’s a damn crying shame we didn’t get Barr/Kubby. Root is an abomination, aside from how unbalanced he left the ticket.

  10. The good thing, of course, is that no one except Libertarians actually watches the LNC on CSPAN. So none of this really damaged Barr going into the general election.

  11. Andy Craig

    6:10 post-What do you mean? Who was batshit insane? How do you know Barr is honest?

  12. This kind of “hey, look at the freaks!” journalism just perpetuates the BS that anyone that strays from the Dem-GOP talking points is worthy only of ridicule.

  13. He also got Barr’s wife’s name wrong. It’s Jeri, not Whitney.

  14. Again, why would any person take Weigel seriously?

  15. Alden Link is an older gentleman who talks exactly like Truman Capote, except about the Second Amendment.

    I like him already.

  16. The alternative debate wasn’t on C-SPAN. Good research.

    Good to see you gratuitously sticking up for the official government conspiracy theory of 9/11, though.

    Did you research that as much as the C-SPAN coverage?

  17. “What do you mean? Who was batshit insane?”

    Having an charlatan and liar like Hoagland speak at the Convention was unacceptable in my view. Ditto on pandering to the Troofer crowd. When you’ve got those kind of people around, of course no one is going to take you seriously. And they shouldn’t.

    Most importantly, though, I recognize the insanity of running a political party like a dogmatic church that excommunicates heretics. Ruwart is a nice person and all, but the LP will never be anything more than a sideshow if insists on ONLY being a radical party, particularly if that radicalism comes with the disconnect from reality the conspiracy theory crowd brings with it. There’s a good chunk of the electorate that leans libertarian- we need to be reaching out to them, not angrily denouncing them as authoritarians. Barr will do that.

  18. Hey, liberty mike, hungry? Because I think Andy Craig just ate your lunch…

  19. Mr. Nice Guy=

    Why would you phrase you post that way? I politely asked him to elaborate upon his prior post.

  20. Andy Craig and Mr. Nice Guy-

    What do you think of Michael Reagan’s demand that Mr. Dice be executed? What do you think the reaction would be if Mr. Dice or any of the truthers had beseeched their followers to take a chainsaw to Cheney?

  21. Andy Craig-

    In other words, in order for the libertarian party to have a future, it must ape the GOP and the dems? Become a “big tent?”

    If yes, that prescription has loser written all over it. Look at us, we are not radical. We just want a little bit more freedom than they do-come join us.

  22. If yes, that prescription has loser written all over it. Look at us, we are not radical. We just want a little bit more freedom than they do-come join us.

    Does not parse.

  23. Andy Craig-

    What conspiracy crowd? The one that buys the phantasmagoric conspiracy fable woven by the government that a handful of arabians with box cutters were responsible?

    Again, can any person here prove with absolute certainty that the government conspiracy theory is the truth?

    I have asked this question before. The burden is upon the proponent. My position is that I don’t know-but I certainly don’t buy the assertions of the state or any of its toadies.

  24. But liberty mike, by negating the “government-sponsored” viewpoint, you are making a statement.

  25. The libertarian party will never win with a me too philosophy. Why go for the cheap immitation when you can have the real statist thing?

    Andy Craig, is it your opinion that it would have been better had Henry and Jefferson been less radical?

  26. The point is that the burden is upon those who contend that the government conspiracy fable is true.

    Given the government’s historical propensity for prevarication, isn’t it just plain common sense to be most skeptical of its pronouncements?

    The truthers do not have the institutional record of deceit that the government has.

  27. liberty mike,

    Political parties are dynamic. There are some theses on which adherents to a libertarian philosophy should all agree on, but everything else is open for debate.

  28. The truthers do not have the institutional record of deceit that the government has.

    On the other hand, how many conspiracy theories would you say resemble a delusion a paranoid schizophrenic suffers from?

  29. liberty mike –

    Have you done much research into the 9/11 conspiracy and the 9/11 truthers? After reading their arguments, which do seem fairly convincing, have you gone forward to read the many people who debunk their arguments by showing their quote cherrypicking and poor science? I was one of those people who was awed by Zeitgeist and started to feverishly research into 9/11 conspiracy theory. Then my sense of fairness got the best of me and I actually read up on the other side of the story, purported by independent scientists, not the government, and the more I read from both sides of the issue, the more it seems to show that the way they said things happened is probably the way they happened. Is that definitive? No, of course not, but to say that 9/11 truthers are a bit wacky is, in my opinion, right on the mark.

  30. the government also tells me it’s flooding in iowa. i refuse to believe it. those film clips are so fake.

  31. But there’s a little proof of why Denver wasn’t a “demise.” The “truthers” didn’t win.

    Did he claim that they “won”? The mere presence/prevalence of the goofballs at the convo would be enough for many to be like, “ah crap. can we not fill a hall without having these bozos?”

    Its depressing at the very least

  32. liberty mike | June 16, 2008, 8:25pm | #

    Andy Craig-

    In other words, in order for the libertarian party to have a future, it must ape the GOP and the dems? Become a “big tent?

    No, just laugh the assholes out of the medium sized tent, and loan them a small one near the landfill outside of town, where they all can fervently agree that The Evil Conspiracy Is What Makes Them Marginal And Generally Disliked

    Really, it will probably work out best for everyone that way

  33. liberty mike | June 16, 2008, 8:41pm | #

    The point is that the burden is upon those who contend that the government conspiracy fable is true.

    I suggest Karl Popper for a start.

    Before that, reread the whole thing about argumentum ad ignorantiam

    http://skepdic.com/ignorance.html

  34. “Ah See Freedom in the Ahhs of Wild Creatures!”

    Dave, bud, if you are trying to “speak Southern”, please stop it. You are hurting my ears/eyes.

    If you are making fun of that TNR fairbankser, then never mind my previous comment and well done.

  35. Wait, ‘liberty mike’ is asserting that the burden of proof is on the accusor, after his trolling the McCain/Vidal thread?

    Yes, joe does have a new handle.

  36. On the other hand, how many conspiracy theories would you say resemble a delusion a paranoid schizophrenic suffers from?

    But the Moon landings must be fake, since the only evidence we have of the moon being real is from the government.

    Don’t try to say you were not talking about the Moon landings either. You used the code of Moon landing believers.

  37. Yes, joe does have a new handle.

    My guess is the former Neil of the Freedom Swatch.

  38. My guess is the former Neil of the Freedom Swatch.

    Caesar?

    Perhaps, but they all seem so joeish.

  39. Guy, definitely not joe. But the Cesar idea is intriguing.

  40. Of course, if all these guys are Cesar it would mean he’d gone through some sort of fragmenting psychosis worthy of a Philip K. Dick character.

  41. Is this what it looked like on C-SPAN?

    Well, no, it looked less organized than that description on C-SPAN.

  42. So, it must have been the only time C-Span was watchable to somebody with ADHD.*

    *then again, maybe not.

  43. Of course, if all these guys are Cesar it would mean he’d gone through some sort of fragmenting psychosis worthy of a Philip K. Dick character.

    Not sure who that is, but it sounds creepy.

    BTW, you are missing “Rambo” on SPIKE*

    Not affiliated with ‘film’ maker, Mr. Spike Lee.

  44. In other words, in order for the libertarian party to have a future, it must ape the GOP and the dems? Become a “big tent?”

    Uh, yeah. Pretty much. You won’t make a difference in a democracy if you don’t win elections, and it takes a big tent to hold 50.1% of the voters.

    I think this year was a once in a century chance for a major political realignment, as in, one party dies and another takes its place. Maybe we’ll get another one in a few years. But the libs blew this one. Hard.

  45. Tchh, oh yeah, I remember that controversy. Mr. Spike Lee, you are a card*. The Rambo movies are aaight, Guy, but I’m waiting for the G.I. Joe film**!

    *Whatever that means
    **Ohhh yeah

  46. Uh, yeah. Pretty much. You won’t make a difference in a democracy if you don’t win elections, and it takes a big tent to hold 50.1% of the voters.

    Surrender monkeys, gold standard nuts and conspiracy freaks can’t take over the nation?

    Say it ain’t so RCD!

  47. Art,

    Mr. Spike Lee brought suit against the owners of SPIKE TV with the notion that they were playing off of his name and had several celebrities attest to the fact that they were confused by the name, thinking it had something to do with the ‘do you know do you know do you know?’ fellow.

  48. Ooops, misread your “you are a card” thingie and thought you were not familiar.

  49. Crazy fake gas pump scene coming up!

  50. For those of you not familiar, the “gas pump” is the portion above ground, that has the hose that goes into your car. When you run over them, the gas does not spew into the air like a geiser. All you have is a hole in the ground without any pump attached any more.

  51. Take our the sarcasm and the minor points he got wrong and I’d say it was a more balanced piece than anything I ead by Weigel. He does buy into the smear of Ruwart which takes one short section out a broader context. But that sort of thing aside it was relatively accurate and less biased than Mr. Weigel articles.

  52. Is this what it looked like on C-SPAN?

    Mostly, but on C-SPAN some nerd would come on the phone every once in a while and yammer on and on…

    Just kidding! Love, ya, Dave; and I really appreciated your various commentaries and your blogging.

    Well, I’ve been wearing my Libertarian decoder ring for more than two decades, so I am likely completely disqualified from judging how normal people would perceive things. Oops, normal people don’t watch C-SPAN, so… whatever they are.

    Certainly there were moments where there was slow-mo disorganization, but I think that’s standard fare for C-SPAN — think House floor vote totals cranking in, or professorish book author on the contribution of the women’s auxiliary during the Battle of Nashville before Civil War Buffs Anonymous.

    But it seemed exciting, and I even thought things like Christine Smith protesting how All Is Lost off stage gave it drama — in a kind of American Idol way — that would pique the interest of non-Libs who happened to tune in. (Again, if you can happen to tune in to C-SPAN.)
    (continued… damn browser can’t stand my long commentary; same way with my friends…

  53. There was the unavoidable oddness — Guy Fawkes, the neo-pagan delegation, Jingozian nominating his rival — but I thought it came off as, like, Northern Exposure / Gilmore Girls type quirky, not Twin Peaks / The Prisoner.

    And might I note that I see the nomination of Barr not as a sell-out to the right wing, but as a sell-out to the politically competent (which is probably a good thing).

    My point being: per the… I don’t know, “pure” libertarianism caucus, we have to reach out to the left wing. Very good point; however, if you couldn’t get left wing bodies into the convention hall BEFORE the vote, why the hell do you think you’ll succeed in that strategy in the general population in the 163 days until election day?

    It’s been pointed out other places on Reason blogs that Barr was vunerable for things he’s said and done in the last six months. Rather than focus an attack on that, the focus was on things he’s said and done that he now recants. It seemed to me that the Puritarians were on some weird dog whistle frequency that I could kinda hear but couldn’t figure out what it meant.

    I haven’t quite done the math, but it seems like if the “pures” had organized and united, they might have picked Barr off, or certainly gotten a balanced ticket with Kubby. Instead it seemed like they watched this slow motion train wreck unfold and scratched their heads, thinking, “what is it that those politician-type people do in these situations?”

    Finally, to the article itself, it was ignorant, mean, self-contradictory… and funny. But I think he really misses the mark in that it is probably much funnier to the l/Libertarian reader than the general public.

    Flip to a random page of It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand and start reading, and it is much, much funnier. And insightful, and true.

  54. In order to die you’ve got to be alive at one point or another

  55. Reason just links to TNR in gratitude for destroying Ron Paul.

  56. Typo. It’s “inaccurately” and not “innacurately”.

  57. I must have missed the post about the Al Gore circus last night. Did anybody watch it?

    The clips I saw, Mr. Gore sounded like that Priest who filled in for Rev. Wright after Sen. Obama left his last Church.

  58. The mere presence/prevalence of the goofballs at the convo

    They will be at th big 2 conventions too. Apparently the Dems and GOP cant fill a convention hall without them.

  59. An example of my 9:38 post:

    Sure, the LP ran blue skinned guy. But he didnt win. The Dems actually voted Cynthia McKinney into office multiple times. Which is worse?

  60. robc,

    Waithing in the wings for one of the trolls to call you a racist for that 🙂

  61. Guy,

    For being anti-blue?

  62. Sure, the LP ran blue skinned guy. But he didnt win. The Dems actually voted Cynthia McKinney into office multiple times. Which is worse?

    Both represent a loss for the Forces of Good. Hard to say which is worse – a crackpot in Congress who probably didn’t really make much of a difference, or a crackpot not in the White House, who probably also didn’t make much of a difference.

  63. For being anti-blue?

    Hey, he was the one who said he was in need of a dye and in need of a dye I’m in need of a dye I’m in need of a need I’m in need of a dye.

  64. Giving the libertarian party a wider appeal isn’t necessarily “Me-too” statism. If you explain how your basic philosophy differs from the other parties’ philosophies and propose policies based on that philosophy, even if they are imperfect, you are not betraying your principles.
    That said, a system where the majority of voters are looking for a candidate who promises them low-cost gasoline, “free” health insurance, and (this kind of conflicts with the first one) zero carbon emissions by 2010, even a moderately libertarian candidate would lose.

  65. Cynthia McKinney got to have 1/435 of the vote in the House. That’s too much.

  66. “Reason just links to TNR in gratitude for destroying Ron Paul.”

    Do you actually believe things like this? Because it defies logic. 1) TNR did not “destroy” Ron Paul. He’s doing fine, and won about as much support as he could. Ron Paul did not respond to the newsletters in a very politically intelligent way. 2) The idea that Reason would want Ron Paul “destroyed” is just nonsense on stilts, except to people that think that any criticism of a person is de facto hatred.

  67. For being anti-blue?

    Only from the ‘sane’ Leftist trolls, if we ever get one.

    I probably waived off the likely suspects already.

  68. Robbie and others-

    Still, no person has proven the veracity of the government conspiracy fable. Instead, what most posters do is engage in ad hominem attack after ad hominem attack; if one questions the lunacy of the state sponsored conspiracy fable, one is met with sensational accusations of being a kook or a nut or a crackpot. Very telling.

    I do not proclaim to be an expert on 9/11; I suspect, though I do not know for sure, that no poster here is either. Thus, who has the stones to challenge David Ray Griffin to a public debate. I would love to see Mr. Weigel go against David Ray Griffin.

  69. Economist-your post at 10:06 a.m.

    The first two sentences of your post would appear to support the proposition that libertarians should stick to their principles in order to distinguish themselves from the parties of state.

  70. R C Dean-

    If you immitate the two parties of state, you have already lost. Who is interested in a “libertarian” party that is soft on statism, soft on eliminating entitlement programs, soft on assasinating the alphabet soup agencies andcomfy with the welfare state? Voters already have that option.

  71. People don’t like radicalism in their candidates. If your ultimate intent is to convince voters rather than to “remain ideologically pure” then you have to make concessions and compromises. If your want to remain “pure”, then you can stay irrelevant.

  72. If you asked Barr, I doubt he’d defend keeping the Dept. of Education, etc. One sign of a political candidate who knows what the hell he’s actually doing though is that he focuses on pushing the parts of his platform he thinks will be best received. That’s how you actually bring people in.

  73. The obtuseness of liberty mike is starting to bore, no?

    Question for the commetariat: liberty mike, idiot, or satirist?

  74. Question for the commetariat: liberty mike, idiot, or satirist?

    Can you reframe the question as a choice between joe or Caesar?

  75. Reality challenged.

  76. R C Dean | June 17, 2008, 12:18pm | #
    The obtuseness of liberty mike is starting to bore, no?

    Question for the commetariat: liberty mike, idiot, or satirist?

    He claimed to be real when I asked this, but I am leaning towards satirist.

  77. Im leaning towards adding him to my filter. He bores me.

  78. The truthers do not have the institutional record of deceit that the government has.

    And the Gub’ment does not have the reputation of asylum escapees that the Troofers have.

    There is nothing so batshit insane that some Troofer will put up a website about it. Laser beams brought down the WTC! The buildings collapsed at free fall speeds! Fire can’t melt steel! Missile strike on Pentagon! They did it to hide the truth of the Amero!

  79. RC Dean-

    Do you have a problem with those who are demosnstrably more intelligent than you and can convey their thoughts in a more lucid manner than you?

  80. There are no so batshit insane as those who continue to cling to the PHANTASMAGORIC FANTASY that arabians armed with box cutters caused the problem. What lunacy.

  81. I see that none of the lunatics have the stones to debate David Ray Griffin. Probably becasue they know that Griffin would embarass their statist scrotum sucking asses.

  82. Missile strike on Pentagon!

    I am still waiting for that one to morph into a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, based on reports from TNR‘s Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp.

  83. robc,

    Im leaning towards adding him to my filter. He bores me.

    Way ahead of you brother!

  84. Ever notice that those who can not compete want to take their ball and go home. What winers.

    Guy and robc, that includes you as well as RC Dean. Intellectually inferior. One tell tale sign is the resort to adolescent sarcasm when confronted with facts and opinions that you cannot counter in a serious manner.

  85. You mean opposed to resorting to calling people “scrotum sucking asses” and referring to Arabs as “arabians”? But what do I know, you’re “demosnstrably” more intelligent than any of us.

    Filtered.

  86. Do you have a problem with those who are demosnstrably more intelligent than you and can convey their thoughts in a more lucid manner than you?

    This one goes in the joe’z law Hall of Fame. Never let it be said that you didn’t contribute to H & R, liberty mike.

  87. What winers.

    You see how clever this is? liberty mike lets the reader make up his or her own mind as to whether those he criticizes are “whiners” or “winners”. Top drawer stuff.

  88. So we’ve agree that the Libertarian Party attracts its share of nuts? Imagine that?

  89. So we’ve agree that the Libertarian Party attracts its share of nuts?

    Although I take great humour in pointing at the fringe “nuts” who glom onto the LP, I really do think that they get more than their share.

  90. There are no so batshit insane as those who continue to cling to the PHANTASMAGORIC FANTASY that arabians armed with box cutters caused the problem. What lunacy.

    Which one does the batshit lunatic choose? Terrorists or frickin laser beams? Terrorists hijacking a plane or the claim that flight 77 never crashed into the Pentagon? Terrorists armed with makeshift weapons or a massive conspiracy to cover up the theft of the gold reserves hidden underneath the WTC?

  91. I really do think that they get more than their share.

    Yeah, the nutcases in the two major parties seem to be well-concealed behind legions of “normal” people. No such luck in the LP.

  92. Yeah, the nutcases in the two major parties seem to be well-concealed behind legions of “normal” people. No such luck in the LP.

    Stop by Daily Kos or Free Republic some time (or LGF, Red State, etc.) They’re trainload-sized cases of Planters. Politics attracts nuts.

  93. Good point, Marcvs. The terrible truth becomes more evident on the internet.

  94. Back in my more right-wing days I posted on Free Republic, where I was one of the more libertarian posters. Some were normal, but quite a few were indeed fucking batshit insane. (Example: John Kerry wanting to establish his own national religion)

  95. My favorite Troofer “troof” is that no airplanes hit the WTC buildings. Un-freaking-believable. Thousands of witnesses and live broadcasts as they happened, yet this claim is still being made.

    Not all Troofers argue this. Most are still sane enough not to espouse this daffy belief in public. Yet notice that Troofers DO NOT DENY THIS claim! There is no infighting among the conspiratoids. They would rather laugh about boxcutters than to dare disagree with another Truther belief, no matter how bizarre.

    Most of the claims that Truthers say are “plants” to discredit the movement are in the Loose Change video. Yet that same video remains the central bible of the movement. The whole fire melting steel thing is mindbogglingly stupid, yet it’s still a core belief. Rosie O’Donnell is a hero to them for speaking the troof on television. Truthers have ceased to think for themselves.

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