Syria

Stuart Varney, on Syria: "The libertarians have significant power within the Republican Party these days….Public opinion is very strongly on your side"

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Yesterday morning I appeared on Fox Business Network's Varney & Co., during which the host—who is in favor of intervention, on the principle that "the lone super-power has a moral obligation to act when a rogue state uses weapons of mass destruction"—paid respect to the potency of the libertarian argument against war:

Matt Welch is with me. He's a libertarian. The libertarians are very much part of this debate, and you exercise considerable power within the Republican Party.

After hearing my version of the libertarians-in-Congress take (during which I inaccurately characterized their position as unanimously against war; Sen. Jeff Flake [R-Arizona], bewilderingly, voted yes), Varney said this:

Look, I think Matt that you have just wrapped up public opinion. I think public opinion is very strongly on your side, for all of the points you just raised….I do believe that you have significant—not you, but the libertarians—have significant power within the Republican Party these days, a great deal more influence and power than you had, say, a year ago, two years ago.

Watch the whole thing below:

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  1. I know, No True Scotsman and all… but can Flake really be classified as libertarian anymore?

    1. Eh, you could make an argument that a war vote is a matter for the entire Congress. I kind of want every single one of them on record on this one.

      I mean, remember when Ron Paul put forth a declaration of war in the House? Do you honestly think Ron Paul wanted that passed? Or was it a political move?

      Not saying Flake is Paul, just saying that the final vote is the important one in this case.

      1. Ok. We’ll consider maybe putting him back on probationary small l status if he votes the right way when/if the final vote comes.

        I don’t think that is gonna happen though. And until then, screw him.

        1. He doesn’t get probationary status when he issues crap like this:

          “As commander in chief, President Obama already has the authority to conduct a limited strike such as the one he has asked Congress to authorize. This president’s reasons for coming to Congress in this instance were political, not constitutional,” said Flake.

          “I believe in a strong commander in chief who takes actions as warranted and stands by them, which is why I voted in favor of the resolution in committee. After reviewing both the classified and unclassified evidence, I am convinced that the Syrian regime did launch a chemical-weapons attack, and it is in our national interest that it faces the consequences.”

          For crying out loud, the War Powers Resolution came from your branch. You’re not even going to try and enforce your branch’s prerogatives? He just gets to bomb who he wants, and he doesn’t need to prove why?

          Reason really has made some bad choices concerning ‘libertarian rising stars.’ Wonder how Mark Sanford’s doing?

          1. Mark Sanford is currently planning on voting against the Syrian War. He received the endorsements of Paul pere and Paul fils.

            So…what was your point again?

            1. Sanford cheated on his wife and therefore it’s irrelevant that he’s one of the better votes in Congress.

              HE CHEATED ON HIS WIFE, GODDAMMIT! NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!

              1. He made a Colbert cry. He can cheat on his wife with my mom and he’s still Da Man.

              2. He showed bad judgment, both in deciding to run to Argentina to cheat on his wife, on the state dime, and with some hilariously bad lying to try and cover for the above. None of which is a selling point when you’re running for the Presidency.

                Morally? I could give a shit: his marriage disintegration is between him and his family. As an indication of the kind of judgment he’d exhibit as Commander in Chief? Yeah, that I care about, despite any vote he’s made against this idiotic pinprick we’re going to give Assad. Good ideas aren’t enough when you’re campaigning to win the highest office in the land and in the process break a lot of crony rice bowls. And are doing it as a Republican with strong libertarian-ish tendencies.

                Bill Clinton can get away with fucking everything that walked (and some things that didn’t) in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion and still be competitive. Sanford couldn’t, and nearly got impeached out of his mansion for his silliness. I’m just irritated that God (or the entity of your choice) chose to strike him with love-sickness at about the worst possible time, leaving us with a choice between the Ebony Johnson and the Maverick. Great. I am glad he’s been able to reinvent himself politically in Congress, and do some good there.

                Of course, bad judgment and libertarian hopefuls have gone hand in hand in the past. Hopefully Rand Paul will break that cycle.

                1. Nice try, Gray Ghost, but your original post slagging reason’s choices in “libertarian rising stars” was clearly meant to imply, at least, that Sanford was not very good on libertarian issues. How do I know this? Because you juxtaposed Sanford with Flake and Flake’s terrible decision to vote for the War on Syria. You then switched your criteria to “bad judgment”, which is just rank goalpost-moving.

                2. Morally? I could give a shit: his marriage disintegration is between him and his family. As an indication of the kind of judgment he’d exhibit as Commander in Chief? Yeah, that I care about, despite any vote he’s made against this idiotic pinprick we’re going to give Assad. Good ideas aren’t enough when you’re campaigning to win the highest office in the land and in the process break a lot of crony rice bowls. And are doing it as a Republican with strong libertarian-ish tendencies.

                  Who cares if he wouldn’t make a good president? The question is if he’s a good governor and a good vote in Congress. The answer to both is yes.

                  His judgement in regards to what he does with his dick isn’t of much relevance. I’d rather have him in the House than 95% of the other people who are there.

                  1. He was a rising star because he was running for the Presidency in 2008. Not solely because he was a good governor for SC. That’s why Reason was talking about him so often then.

                    I mentioned him in the same breath as Flake as yet another of Reason’s great Libertarian hopes that’ve disappointed us through actions entirely of their own making. See also: Paul, Ron. And Sarah Palin to some extent, though there I think she was just let down by her handlers. It’d be interesting what would have happened with four more years of seasoning before coming to the attention of the general public. Mitch Daniels too, depending on how much taffy-pulling you want to do to the definition of ‘libertarian.’ Maybe libertarian-leaning? And how much you want to attribute his wife’s issues to him.

                    It’s just frustrating. I don’t expect perfection from candidates, nor even a lot of congruence with my views. But I do expect them not to shoot themselves in the foot. Like, returning to Flake, to advocate ignoring the War Powers Resolution and basically let the President bomb who he wants.

                    If Sanford turns into an effective version of Representative Paul, I’ll be delighted. Still won’t bring back the opportunity he had in 2008, but I’ll be happy with another sympathetic voice in Congress. If he’s like Paul, he’ll indeed be better than just about anyone else there. Does his current record reflect that?

          2. Crap. You are right. Considered and Denied.

            1. Considered and Denied

              Flake that is. Sanford still seems OK.

    2. Yeah, that is a real surprise, and a disappointment.

  2. Use that enormous power for good Matt. For good. And to get some of those nice umbrellas for the cocktail parties, and maybe to throw a shindig up here in Boston some time soon.

  3. “the lone super-power has a moral obligation to act when a rogue state uses weapons of mass destruction”

    Nothing shows your principled opposition to indiscriminate mass killings than indiscriminate mass killing with a different technology.

    1. Lets not resort to false equivalence and other tendentious argument.

      1. Indeed. Instead, let us resort to tossing missiles, assorted small arms, and ammunition into a country currently divided between at least a dozen warring factions, each of which passionately dislike the U.S.

        1. False dichotomy and non-sequitor: also tendentious arguments.

          1. Where’s the false dichotomy?

          2. tendentious arguments

            Tendentious (adj): Marked by a tendency in favor of a particular point of view.

            Amazingly, most arguments people make are tendentious. If they weren’t, they’d be neutral statements on issues, not arguments.

            1. And, of course “describing what someone advocates in non-euphemistic terms” is neither a false dichotomy or a non sequitur.

          3. Do you just have a perpetual warboner? If it lasts for more than 10 years, you should consult a physician.

            (Now that’s a motherfucking non-sequitor.)

      2. The policy was set up to keep proxy wars from turning into full-scale launches of strategic NBC. It would be false equivalence to compare Syria gassing rebels in a civil war in 2013 with the Chinese backed North Korean Army launching chemical shells into Seoul in 1954.

        1. Then why were chemical weapons mentioned in 1925?

          1. Maybe because that’s the last time they were used by one government on the soldiers of another?

            1. Iran would question that.

              1. Ooh. Good point. I vividly remember how we cruise missled the shit out of Iraq for that.

              2. So would North Yemen.

                Though they really haven’t been used as much as you’d think. Certainly the Soviets made so much of the gunk, and practiced often enough with it, it’s surprising it didn’t make it’s way into Afghanistan beyond whispers and third-hand reports. I wonder if using them to reduce some of the knottier Japanese redoubts without significant civilian presence (Betio, Iwo, the bastions in SW Okinawa) during the end of WW2 would have been worth it?

            2. Maybe because that’s the last time they were used by one government on the soldiers of another?

              But you said the policy was to prevent nuclear escalation, which is not the case (imo).

              1. Full scale launches of strategic NBC would also include lobbing IRBMs with chemical payloads into each others’ cities. Despite Iraq showering Iranian troops with a variety of chemical agents, and despite both sides gleefully exchanging Scuds at each other, for the most part, they didn’t get all the way to gassing each other’s large cities. Small towns, sometimes weren’t as lucky.

                As to nukes, for awhile, the only people with ’em weren’t shooting at each other. Pointing guns at each other, maybe. And when they did shoot at each other, neither chemicals nor nukes were needed to prove the points that both sides were trying to make.

                I think things’d be different if national survival was at stake. Like it was for Iran and Iraq. Anyone think they wouldn’t have used nukes on each other in 1980-1988 if either had any? Similarly, if the Warsaw Pact and NATO, or the PRC and Taiwan, or any other ‘big battle of survival’ took place, I don’t see any international pact stopping one or both of the parties from using chemicals, if they felt they’d cease to exist otherwise. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

  4. Nothing shows your principled opposition to indiscriminate mass killings more effectively than indiscriminate mass killing with a different technology.

  5. The libertarian takeover strategy of the GOP is now so obviously successful that only a fool would argue otherwise.

    1. You say that like it’s a bad thing.

      1. …I do? I didn’t mean to. I mean to say that we are getting the influence we want and should ignore the sad-sack emo-tarians that would have us do nothing or the LP deadenders that would have us vote for nothing but LP.

        1. What, exactly, is an emo-tarian? And please provide some examples.

          Between the paleo and cosmos I’m having a hard time keeping up. Are there any othertarians I need to be made aware of?

          1. They’re all othertarians, Francisco. Goes with the circular firing squad theme we libertarians are so good at.

            1. Goes with the circular firing squad theme we libertarians are so good at.

              Let’s take a page from the Bolsheviks: Win first, then purge.

          2. Maybe you should all just speak English.

            1. Da Comrade

          3. What, exactly, is an emo-tarian? And please provide some examples.

            Western Sect Kyfho.

    2. So successful that Amash lost his committee seats.

      Success!

    3. The libertarian takeover strategy of the GOP is now so obviously successful that only a fool would argue otherwise.

      We’ll see. It is easy to take libertarian stances when the other team is in power and acting on its authoritarian ideals.

    1. Yeah. I’m not clicking on a link to Mary’s YouTube channel.

  6. The libertarians are very much part of this debate, and you exercise considerable power within the Republican Party.

    HAHAHAHAHA HAHAHA HAHAHA

    1. Funny cuz it’s true apparently.

      1. Eh, I’ll be convinced of this when a significant number of Republicans join Paul and Amash in opposing a war started by a Republican president

      2. Boehner is still speaker, right?

        No takeover has happened.

          1. No takeover has happened, but if the House libertarians (or libertarian Republicans – whatever we choose to call them) gets a majority of Republicans to vote ‘no’, then their influence increases and Boehner is weakened. This is a good thing.

            1. I agree, I just think that our hurrahs are premature. Most Republicans are not going to want to look weak in face of [omg]Ismalmofascisterrorismgasattacks![/omg] or not want to throw a crony bone to the defense contractor/military base in the district or just don’t plain want to stroke their satiny warboners.

              A few might crossover just to spit in Obama’s eye, but that doesn’t make them libertarians.

              1. The fifty zintillion dollar deficit already told us that rumors of a libertarian takeover in Congress were premature.

  7. you exercise considerable power within the Republican Party.

    I thought FOX had rules about showing up to work drunk.

    1. Mandatory? Unless you’re in recovery like Glenn Beck.

    2. All the Fox news hosts and commenters just look evil to me. I think you can only spew hatred and fear for so many years before it wears you down and rewires your brain. Assuming they’re not already all lizard people or androids.

  8. If libertarians’ biggest concern is the federal budget deficit, one wonders why they would align with the party that is responsible for exploding it time and time again instead of the one that reduces it. You like a challenge?

    1. So you actually believe democrats are more fiscally conservative in general than republicans? I agree there isn’t much difference but to say the democrats don’t have the edge as far as spending more… I can’t help but wonder if you’re just some fake persona created by the Reason staff.

      1. (used to troll more hits from angry commentors)

      2. I think “Tony” is one of The Jacket’s personalities after sucking out what was left of the brain of Katrina Vandenhuvel (sp).

    2. If libertarians’ biggest concern is the federal budget deficit

      It’s not.

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