Media

Podcast (and Praise!) of Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie Talking About Being Libertarian in the Age of Obama

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On January 21, Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch appeared at a Modernist Society happy hour to talk about being "Libertarian in the Age of Obama."

Go here for the podcast version.

The event was written up in a couple of places, including Fr33 Agents (where pictures are posted, including the one on this post).

It was also discussed at The Huffington Post, where Andrew Sargus Klein, a "to-the-hilt liberal," suggests "Put a Libertarian on the New York Times' Op-Ed Page":

What seemed like a very tiny showing turned into a boisterous crowd by 10 or so. There were ties and jeans and argyle and rectangular frames and a terrible bartender; the mood seemed joyous, and I thought to myself, "Libertarians are hipper than liberals? I dare say."

When the talk finally got started, Gillespie had the room gaffed on his style of wit: asked about Reason's relationship with the Libertarian Party, Gillespie replied, "We bring the party"; they "hate black presidents for all the same reasons they hate white presidents"; "crony capitalism is better than crony socialism"; "The Price is Right is a libertarian TV show, because the price is always right"; etc….

It is with confidence that I nominate both men as possible candidates to replace Bill Kristol as The New York Times' new op-ed columnist. Kristol, who cold not find it in himself to utter anything of worth for an entire year, left a legacy of boilerplate drivel and a hard-to-conceal erection for Sarah Palin. Good riddance.

As for his open position, we see a parallel in the tough choices governors must make in the appointing of a senator to fill a vacant seat. There are a lot of factors to consider, and chief among the Times' situation is the notion-gasp-of balance: "How do we present a diversity of opinion and thought that reflects the whole spectrum?" Surely we're not all Dowds and Kristols.

And while most of us are not libertarians, Gillespie and Welch have the presence of mind to keep the debate fresh and lively….

More here.

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  1. Nick looks like he should be holding a guitar.

  2. If people haven’t alreadyseen it, they might check out John Hasnas’ What it feels like to be a libertarian.

    An exerpt:

    Libertarians spend their lives accurately predicting the future effects of government policy. Their predictions are accurate because they are derived from Hayek’s insights into the limitations of human knowledge, from the recognition that the people who comprise the government respond to incentives just like anyone else and are not magically transformed to selfless agents of the good merely by accepting government employment, from the awareness that for government to provide a benefit to some, it must first take it from others, and from the knowledge that politicians cannot repeal the laws of economics. For the same reason, their predictions are usually negative and utterly inconsistent with the utopian wishful-thinking that lies at the heart of virtually all contemporary political advocacy. And because no one likes to hear that he cannot have his cake and eat it too or be told that his good intentions cannot be translated into reality either by waving a magic wand or by passing legislation, these predictions are greeted not merely with disbelief, but with derision.

    The funn thing, to me, is that almost every progressive I work with ‘knows’ all they need to know about libertarianism, namely that we want government to look out for the rich, and being white males (every one of us) we want to bring back racially based slavery.

    Ask if they’ve ever read anything by a libertarian, you get a blank look. Some have read Ayn Rand, but get surprised when I tell them that she hated libertarians.

  3. Does Nick ever take off that leather jacket, or is it permanently fused to his body? I think he’s wearing it in every Reason photo I’ve seen.

  4. And while most of us are not libertarians, Gillespie and Welch have the presence of mind to keep the debate fresh and lively. It’d be hard to pick one, but my gut is leaning toward Gillespie, mostly because he rocks a great leather jacket.

    NO! Goddamnit Andrew. Don’t say that. The rube has a big Fonzie blind spot. He doesn’t know you’re being sarcastic. He really thinks he looks good in that discarded cow hide.

  5. Yes! Bring it to the Times.

  6. “Libertarians are hipper than liberals? I dare say.”

    Shyea, where’s this guy been? Watch many bits of popular culture, and the token liberal is often (sometimes unwittingly so) portrayed as buzzkill, a sort-of christian fundamentalist, preachy, frowny and disapproving, only for issues such as the evironment or multicultural issues.

  7. Damn, it would be nice to see a Libertarian on the Op-Ed page, but I fear they would be run out of town faster than Kristol on a Manishevitz bender.

    People don’t like being told their ideas are wrong, no matter how wrong their ideas are, and that’s it…

  8. NO! Goddamnit Andrew. Don’t say that. The rube has a big Fonzie blind spot. He doesn’t know you’re being sarcastic. He really thinks he looks good in that discarded cow hide.

    You could think of Nick as the Dick Clark of political pundits.

  9. but get surprised when I tell them that she hated libertarians.

    She hated Libertarians and their party, not libertarians.

  10. Ayn Rand was a cunt. Yet. A poor excuse for a man; she looked like one! You cannot have an extreme libertarian society built around a cult figure like Ms. Rand.

    Did she get laid often?

  11. “The Price is Right is a libertarian TV show, because the price is always right”; etc….”

    I guess Happy Gimore wasn’t a libertarian. Everyone knows “The Price Is Wrong Bitch!!”

  12. “it would be nice to see a Libertarian on the Op-Ed page, but I fear they would be run out of town faster than Kristol on a Manishevitz bender.”

    They will probably get a “libertarian” like Tyler Cowen…he’ll be relegated to talking about how a libertarian should pick restraunts…and when he finally weighs in on something important like “Bailout 1″…he’ll say that “something must be done and the Paulson plan is better than nothing”.

    When they need the guy to promote a new war like Iraq in 2003 or the global carbon tax war on CO2 or the new international currency…he will serve his masters.

  13. “They will probably get a “libertarian” like Tyler Cowen…”

    Either him or someone like Megan McCardle who also supported the bailout. Most Washington Libertarians have pretty weak personalities and want to get along with their lefty friends and colleagues in the media. None of them are real hell raisers or go too far against liberal conventional wisdom. I can’t really blame them. Libertarians are pretty friendless in the media. The far right publications won’t take them so they have to find a way to adapt and survive in the mainstream ones. That usually means adopting a form of libertarianism that gets pissed off about cops grabbing your stash and poo pooing big government while at the same time admitting that “at least things are not as bad as they were with the Republicans in charge”.

  14. good talk, but damn could they have maybe done a bit of gain on the .mp3?

  15. The fact that the would even want a spot on the New York Times says bad things about Libertarians. Fuck the New York Times. It is a granny paper written for out of touch Manhattanites with a dying business model. Stop sucking up to the old media and start helping with the old media’s demise.

  16. It is with confidence that I nominate both men as possible candidates to replace Bill Kristol as The New York Times’ new op-ed columnist.

    WHEN DONKEYS FLY!

  17. Ayn Rand hated small-L libertarians too. She was all for the free market, and thus tolerated Mises and even held her nose for Rothbard. But culturally she was an absolutist who despised social freedom.

  18. Luckily the NYT will continue to shrink because they suck. Their suckines will not be fixed by getting some pro-war, pro bailout, krugman suckoff puppet….every quarter that sees them with declining revenue is a cause for real celebration.

  19. Was not John Tierney on the op-ed page for a few years?

  20. She [Rand] hated Libertarians and their party, not libertarians.

    Correct. All objectivists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are objectivists.
    That’s the critical philosophical difference.

  21. “Was not John Tierney on the op-ed page for a few years?”

    Still is and is a smart writer, especially on science topics. The question is what are Libertarians doing to sell themselves to anyone but each other and other “in crowd” elites? The fact is that most of this country believes in God in one form or another. If Libertarians want to make any traction, they better drop all the talk about “fundies” and start figuring out how to talk to people who are religious without being condescending and in a way that appeals to them. Don’t think for a moment the big government left isn’t talking to those people. They may not like them, but they understand that they have to be dealt with.

  22. Nah, Ayn Rand hated libertarians too. She bitched constantly that they were plagiarizing her best ideas, and couldn’t stand the thought of any political movement that welcomed non-atheists and anarchists into its ranks.

    How much of that was a genuine philosophical dislike, and how much was sour grapes is up in the air.

  23. That’s me in the pink shirt. Great picture. I love being a Beltway libertarian.

  24. The Modernist society web site shows a lack of activity between (and before) January 2004 and the January 2009 Reason podcast.What is it? Somebody’s trust fund tax dodge?

  25. “Libertarians are hipper than liberals? I dare say.”

    You know someone’s not hip when they don’t even realize that people who reject authority are automatically cooler than them.

    Liberals sure can be amusing, but often not intentionally.

    Conservatives, on the other hand, are pretty much exclusively unintentionally amusing. So you have to give the liberals a few points there.

  26. See the skinny dweeb in the sweater vest, looking askance (NB: that’s a perfect illustration of “askance”) at Nick? He looks, to me, like the very embodiment of the liberal male. I mean, when I picture a NY/DC/SF/Madison bien-pensant liberal guy under 50, that’s what I picture.

    And yeah, Nick needs to update the jacket. Of course, my husband still wears his Members Only leather jacket.

  27. Stubby is wrong the jacket remains.

  28. Will someone with a HuffPo account throw a comment in there directing them to H&R’s coverage of their coverage of Reason?

    I’d like to see a few of them try to duke it out on the H&R blog… after all, to remain relevant, the tree of (a blog about) liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of socialist trolls…

  29. “It is with confidence that I nominate both men as possible candidates to replace Bill Kristol as The New York Times’ new op-ed columnist.”

    But why would Welch or Gillespie want to leave all this behind? He didn’t think about that, did he!

    The New York Times might be better than the LA Times (like getting a massage is better than getting kicked in the balls), but it’s still old media.

  30. “I’d like to see a few of them try to duke it out on the H&R blog… after all, to remain relevant, the tree of (a blog about) liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of socialist trolls…”

    I’m sure the Huffington Post is better than it used to be, but first impressions last a long time, and I guess I’ll always see ’em in light of Welch’s links to it from here when the Huffiana Post first started.

    It’s hard for me to even think about the site without laughing. …just like I still chuckle thinking about Matt’s piece on “death porn” every time I see George Will.

  31. I imagine that the Times would prefer to have somebody like Kristol for their opposing viewpoint. It was his job to sound like an idiot to help reinforce the prevailing editorial positions of the paper, and he was very good at his job. Somebody reasonable like Matt or Nick might actually get few people thinking outside the box.

  32. Hey Nick, do you insult people by telling them to “sit on it”?

  33. “Will someone with a HuffPo account…”

    Christ, who would admit to such a thing?

  34. “You cannot have an extreme libertarian society built around a cult figure like Ms. Rand.”

    But you can have a society built around a cult figure like Mr. Obama?

  35. “””””Did she get laid often?””””

    She would care how often, as long as it was with great purpose.

  36. I may be deluding myself, but I do think libertarians are going throguh a slightly hipper phase right now.

    Partly caused by the Ron Paul thing, and partly because the Barack Obama cult is embarassing to the hipper liberals.

  37. Ayn Rand hated small-L libertarians too. She was all for the free market, and thus tolerated Mises and even held her nose for Rothbard. But culturally she was an absolutist who despised social freedom.

    Not too far from the mark. All the objectivists I knew in college were zero-tolerance teetotalers. They didn’t drink, smoke, or do any drugs, and while they might theoretically tolerate the IDEA of drug use in others, when I told my objectivist boyfriend that I was experimenting with pot, he delivered an ultimatum that I choose between him and my curiosity.

  38. One thing I can say for them though … they are down with the kinky sex.

  39. Hazel,

    Did he smoke? If so, was it a rational brand?

  40. All the objectivists I knew in college were zero-tolerance teetotalers.

    Fuck that. final nail in the coffin for Ms. Rand.

  41. I should amends that. He didn’t smoke. He did drink sometimes a little. But it apparantly he felt guilty about it, because according to objectivist philosophy anything that interferes with your mind’s ability to think rationally is evil.
    Or something like that.

  42. That’s me in the pink shirt. Great picture. I love being a Beltway libertarian.

    A pink shirt pretty much screams “Beltway libertarian”, daaahhhlings!

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