Barrwatch: Arm Wrestling, Nader Envy, and Boehnergate


Some California newspaper is out with the latest profile of Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr. Faye Fiore kicks it off with a vignette from his Supreme Court presser.

Then he threw it open to questions from members of the Fourth Estate, whose average age looked to be about 19.

"Do you think the country is ready for a president with a mustache?"

"Do you think you could take Ron Paul in an arm-wrestling match?"

Yeah, I have no idea who that guy was. But I treasure my audiotape of Barr explaining that he and Paul talk about "issues of… substance." There's a lot of color here, plus the usual pondering about Barr's spoilage potential, plus some good scene-setting.

If Bob Barr is anything, it's focused. He acknowledges his campaign is a long shot, but at the very least he will bring attention to the values of freedom he learned growing up the son of a civil engineer in far-flung places such as Iran and Iraq. (The longest place he lived as a boy was Baghdad, for three years.)

It was that kind of focus—that and his love of the limelight—that powered him when he was the lone voice calling for impeachment and members of his own party dismissed him as foolhardy.

It's been a busy day, and Barr boards the evening shuttle from Washington back to Atlanta and his 12th-floor consulting offices, the temporary campaign headquarters.

All around are remnants of the substantial elephant collection—elephant bookends on a desk, a close-up of an elephant's trunk in the hallway. It's an awkward display, considering he now regards Republican lawmakers as wimps scared into submission by Bush. But as Barr is fond of saying, "I don't worry about it."

Also, Barr's campaign manager Russ Verney responded to John Boehner's comment about conservatives "wasting their votes" on Barr.

Rep. Boehner would rather coerce people into voting for someone they do not want through fear tactics so that the Republicans and Democrats do not have to change their runaway spending habits. After all if they have no dissent from the voters over a big spending Republican and a bigger spending Democrat, they are free to argue over whose special interests get the benefits of our hard earned tax dollars.

I think if the public is happy with the direction our country is headed then they should thank the Republicans and the Democrats. If they want a change, their only option is Bob Barr.

Also, Ralph Nader's campaign pestered reporters today with an exceptionally piqued press release about a Friday congressional hearing about impeachment. Bob Barr will be there. Ralph Nader was disinvited.

This is not the first time that I have been excluded from testifying on subjects both of us have been concerned about and have discussed. Remember your invitation to testify at your unofficial public hearing right after the 2004 elections regarding "irregularities" in Ohio? Within two days, your chief of staff, Perry Applebaum, persuaded you to disinvite me.

Applebaum has been a problem with my appearing before a Committee Chairman whom I have known, admired and worked with for nearly forty years. He has performed his exclusionary behavior on other occasions. It is time to make this public and to ascertain why he prevails again and again with his superior either not to invite or to deny requests to testify regarding subjects well within my knowledge, experience, and forthrightness.

You know, some people say that Nader is running a vanity campaign and soothing his Galactus-sized ego. I don't see it.

NEXT: 'I may be straight, but I'm not narrow'

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  1. Bob Barr answered my question about the War on Drugs in a rather disappointing way on video here

  2. lonewacko would be proud

  3. That LAT article is truly a gripping, breezy read. Espresso!

    Meanwhile, for those who want to know how much of a fake Bob Barr is, click the link.

    1. After their BigBloggerConferenceCall featuring three (3) bloggers, I sent an email and they said they’d let me know when the next is. No reply about a week later.
    2. I’ve sent several messages to the campaign pointing out problems with their ideas and asking for an interview or a clarification. I’ve received some replies basically thanking me for my interest.
    3. On a positive note, they did approve a comment I left here.

    So, when’s his next book come out?

  4. Lonewacko, I’ve noticed you haven’t produced your original birth certificate for verification by independent experts yet.

  5. Dude, comparing me to HeWhoShallNotBeNamed?

    Although I do agree with him that the best way to embarrass bad candidates is to ask them point blank questions on tape.

  6. . After their BigBloggerConferenceCall featuring three (3) bloggers, I sent an email and they said they’d let me know when the next is. No reply about a week later.

    Gee, I wonder why…Perhaps word’s out about your nefarious scheme to ask EmbarrassingQuestions and upload them to YouTube to the tune of “Eye In The Sky” or whatever cracked-out bullshit you’re up to today.

    Or perhaps you’re not as important as you believe yourself to be. Your choice.

  7. One from the group has validated the thoughts of their nemesis… will the validator be ostracized? will this cause angst as the group questions its beliefs if one of their own can support something from the nemesis? Stay tuned to the NationalGeographicChannel to find out.

  8. Lonewacko – no, RC won’t be ostracized.

    It’s because we like him and we don’t like you. For good reasons.

    FWIW, I’ve thought that “your idea” was a good one for a while. I just don’t want to encourage you, because your heat/light ratio is through the damn roof…to the point where you’re full of it.

  9. One of these days I’ll understand what LW/OLS is talking about. And then I’ll have to join RC in the Arkham Sanitarium, because there are some things no sane man was not meant to know…

  10. I have it on good authority that LoneWacko is in fact VicenteFox.

    Think about it: Have any of you actually seen pictures of them in the same place at the same time?

  11. Gee, this is just a lot of irrelevant stuff that I don’t have the patience to read. But I do have a question for you libertarian magazine bloggers: where are your stories on the economic situation? You’d think Libertarians, who after all owe much of their ideology to Alan Greenspan, would take a little more interest in the massive changes in the economy undertaken by the Federal Reserve. Aren’t libertarians primarily economics-minded? Isn’t the crux of libertarian theory that government should stay out of a free market?

    What’s happening in 2008… The Feds might soon nationalize our $5 trillion mortgage companies and they’ve already bailed out numberless failing banks, to name just a few of their more explicit interventions. The White House is about to get the power to buy shares!

    And what is the Reason blog writing about in 2008… Someone named Barr, I didn’t bother to read this blog entry but I assume it’s some bitching about the totally irrelevant Libertarian candidate. But I loved your entry on Perez Hilton, which I also didn’t read.

    Libertarianism is dead.

  12. Libertarianism is dead…because one magazine’s blog failed to post enough about Penn’s (admittedly important) issue.

    Get a grip.

  13. If a vote for Barr is a vote for Obama, then isn’t a vote for Cynthia McKinney a vote for McCain? Maybe Bohner should be telling disgruntled conservatives to vote for her.

  14. Scroll through the blog and you’ll find several posts about the economic situation, Penn. Actual articles are in the works as well.

    But that’s not what’s roused me to post a comment here. I just wanted to say that in my 20 years in this movement, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered any libertarians who “owe much of their ideology to Alan Greenspan.”

  15. Yes,

    Aside from the essays and position papers being put out by the Mises Institute, Cato, The Distributed Republic, the economists at George Mason University, ISIL, FEE, and all 25 or so Libertarian blogs that my newsreader reads, there has been a notable silence on the actions of the Federal Reserve. 😛

    Mr Penn:

    Here’s some reading for you. It should take about 6 hours for you to slog though it. And, it will keep you from shitting yourself the next time you want to criticize libertarianism.

  16. Jesse:

    Alan Greenspan was a member of the Objectivist movement. He wrote for Ayn Rand’s newsletters and attended circles. He propounded Objectivist ideas in national lectures. That was the 50s.

    In the 80s he became a bigwig in Reagan’s Administration. That decade, Rand died; he was at the funeral. Greenspan still identifies himself as a libertarian Republican.

    The irony of Greenspan is that this anti-government/libertarian/50s intellectual became chairman of the most powerful government institution on fair Earth, the Federal Reserve. (Who says libertarians are powerless, or averse to government?) Also fascinating: his New-Millenium loosening of bank regulations, credit standards and interest rates might have brought on this recession that’s not a recession.

    Maybe I overstated when I said, “Libertarians owe much of their ideology to Alan Greenspan.” After all, libertarianism is an old, global ideology; Rand and her disciples were an American strain. (There were even self-identified libertarians at the Kronstadt Uprisings [1917, 1921] in the Soviet Union.) What I should have said is, “Libertarians owe most of their power to Greenspan.”

  17. tarran:

    You brought to my attention some libertarian thinktanks that I haven’t overlooked (to use that word in its other sense). Thanks for that.

    Also, you helpfully linked to a book on the Great Depression. Thank you for that, also. I’ll give it a skim-read. But on the Great Depression, I’m somewhat versed. This year I read The Great Crash: 1929, by Galbraith. The parallels between the 20s and our own are numerous.

    The 1929 crash starts with a real estate crash in Florida. Ooh, familiar. The panic on the stock market gets going when the investment trusts implode because of overleveraging. The trust were a pyramid scheme towering over the U.S. economy. They boasted of having intelligent managers at their helms, economists who had masters the science of money and stock market undulations.

    Nowadays, the hedge funds are leveraged at 30-1 ratios. People say: 1929 couldn’t happen again because of government regulation. But the most salient fact about hedge funds is that they’re wholly unregulated. That is, there is no regulation of hedge funds. And yet they account for up to a third of equity trading and sit on an estimated 3 trillion dollar stockpile. Nobody knows the real amount because they’re not regulated.

  18. I know about Greenspan’s Rand connection, but I don’t think his writings from that period were more than a minor influence on libertarians, even in the Randite sector of the movement.

    I also don’t think libertarians have much power to speak of. Otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing these proposals for bailouts and worse.

  19. Jesse:

    I can’t speak to Greenspan’s influence on the movement. But I think it’s fascinating that a Objectivist was chairman of the Federal Reserve for thirty years.

    I also can’t speak to the depth of Greenspan’s libertarian convictions. Maybe Objectivism was a phase for him?

    Anyway, there’s an argument to be made that Alan Greenspan precipitated the ‘credit crisis’ with lax, libertarian-style policies.

    As for the bailouts. You can take a principled stand against them. They’re going to rape the taxpayers, distort market forces, add titanically to the debt, and probably do nothing to prevent the coming implosion. But even if you’re against them in principle, you can’t rationally be against them in practice.

    If you look at the situation closely, it’s clear that ideological principles are no longer a guide. If Fannie and Freddie fail, the dolar will enter a death-spiral and the population of American population might even get a lesson in Weimar economics.

    The Dollar, as you prolly know, is a fiat currency; it’s valued according to trust in the government.

    A good example of a fiat currency: Germany, 1924. Hyperinflation ruins the Mark. On the urging of American bankers-cum-diplomats, the Reichsbank deletes the old currency, based on the gold standard, and introduces a whole new currency. This new currency is fiat. It’s backed up by Germany’s mortgage holdings.

    Same with the dollar today. We went fiat roughly in the 70s. Either Freddie or Fannie was created in that decade (I can’t remember which one, but it’s the much larger of the two.)


    This whole circuit is in danger of frying if Fannie and Freddie go under. They have five to six trillion dollars of our assets, and they fund 70% of the nation’s mortgages. Five trillion, 70%. Ideology is irrelevant now. The crisis is so acute that we must do whatever it takes to rescue Fannie and Freddie.

    If anything, this enigmatic and possibly endless economic crisis (which isn’t a crisis, but is one, but isn’t) heralds the end of ideologies as means of managing the economy. Hence, libertarianism is dead.

  20. The Crash of ’29 would not have led to the subsequent Great Depression had it not been for the Fed perversely contracting the money supply in the aftermath. Note that the bigger crash of ’87 didn’t lead to a similar “Depression”.

  21. Now, the beta males are all mimicking the idea of their disliked zookeeper and trying to claim the idea as their own. What’s that?! Another nemesis appears, an unknown from completely outside their system? That calls for a counter-attack, with even an elderly uncle joining in.

    Stay tuned…

  22. P.S. A few corrections… German hyperinflation happened in 1923, Freddie Mac was founded in the 60s, not the 70s, and Greenspan wasn’t chairman thirty years, but nineteen.

  23. Well that crash in 1987 is still mysterious. It was the biggest in history, but it didn’t have any – real – consequences for the economy.

    There are many theories about that anomaly. Maybe yours is correct. I subscribe to Jean Baudrillard’s theory that the stock market and all its circulating trillions have gone virtual, and this virtual economy’s wild oscillations have little to no impact on the real economy anymore. The real and virtual economies are sealed off from each other.

    In his view, the same wasn’t true in 1929, when the apotheosis of the real economy was the stock market. Plus there were no virtual technologies in those days, unless you count tickers, telegraphs and radios. (One theory has it that the 1987 crash was caused by the market’s newfangled computer programs and algorithms.)

  24. economic retardation reigns supreme.
    depressions are a thing of the past.
    severe stagflation can and will occur.
    wage growth will stagnate under the present regime.
    the nanotech evolution will shift paradigms.
    the need for real labor will gradually disappear.
    what we know of economics will as well.

  25. Uh, yeah.

  26. Is it just me, or have the comment threads been going all to smurf lately? And not just the metastasizing of TheUsualProblem?

  27. You shouldn’t have encouraged him, Jesse.

  28. There are many theories about that anomaly. Maybe yours is correct. I subscribe to Jean Baudrillard’s theory that the stock market and all its circulating trillions have gone virtual, and this virtual economy’s wild oscillations have little to no impact on the real economy anymore. The real and virtual economies are sealed off from each other.

    Please, please, please do not attribute claims to people who did not make them or offer explanations of theories you do not understand.

    There is a mountain of difference between the “virtual” and the “hyperreal”, and Baudrillard was concerned with the second, not the first. And he certainly never claimed that the hyperreal was hermetically sealed off from the real; in point of fact he was concerned that the network of symbols that made up the hyperreal would become more potent as a causative force than the real, leaving the real metaphysically impoverished.

    “The Gulf War Did Not Take Place” was his primary vehicle for explaining the practical consequences of the dialectic of simulation and dissimulation in the production of hyperreal “simulacra”. He is clear that the Gulf War did in fact take place for the few who were in real contact with it, but the War itself lies in the public mind much more as the symbols and figures on television, and that network of symbols is more persistent, and thus eventually more real, than what actually happened.

    Furthermore, while ’87 was a relatively “soft landing” considering the drop size, real value was lost, and certain sectors of the economy were all but obliterated. Look at private and discretionary spending on art and art display before and after the crash, for but one example. Baudrillard was particularly aware of this, and many including him credit this moment as the decisive breaking point between postmodernism and hypermodernism in aesthetic and social arts, because of the changes that were wrought by the scarcity.

  29. Elemenope:

    I’m not oging to challenge on the points about Baudrillard’s theory – especially since this thread is obsolescent, like Washington Mutual will be soon. But I just have to correct this little bit of nonsense on your part:

    “There is a mountain of difference between the ‘virtual’ and the ‘hyperreal’, and Baudrillard was concerned with the second, not the first.”

    This is just so wrong I can’t believe it. To disprove you, I could open any of the six or seven Baudrillard books on my bookshelves, and turn to any of the chapters on virtual reality.

    But the Internet makes the task so much easier. Here are two articles by Baudrillard on the Virtual. If you’d like more corroboration of his obsession with Virtual Reality (especially in the 90s onward), contact me by email. I’d be happy to quote full passages from ‘the Perfect Crime’, where he calls the virtual the project of our time, at the end of which lies God.



    And I’ll conclude with some words from your own mouth:
    “Please, please, please do not attribute claims to people who did not make them or offer explanations of theories you do not understand.”

  30. The virtual becomes the hyperreal when it completely disconnects from the real. This only happens under certain conditions, and has little to do with virtuality *itself*. “Virtualization” is a process, not a class of entity, like the precession of simulacra, but more basic.

    As the two articles you post make clear.

    Good job using Google, though.

  31. Team Barr has a new video up:

    The Time for Liberty

  32. It was a very nice idea! Just wanna say thank you for the information you have shared. Just continue writing this kind of post. I will be your loyal reader. Thanks again.

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