Bill Weld

Gun Control is Not a Culture War Issue

But worrying about a vice presidential candidate's attitude vs. reasonable assumptions about presidential policy is privileging culture war over policy.

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Robert Tracinski at The Federalist has replied to my reply to his reply to Nick Gillespie's reply to him.

Whew. But wait, there's more!

Gage Skidmore/Foter

Tracinski's latest, under the bold title "Gary Johnson is a Left-Wing Candidate," does a good job showing that those who insist that the Libertarian Party is always and everywhere the "party of principle" about libertarianism compared to the tainted Republicans will have a lot of 'splaining to do after the Gary Johnson campaign. (Though those who believe in the existence of a state financed by taxation, which I'm pretty sure includes everyone voting for Donald Trump and nearly everyone reading The Federalist, have more arguing to do re: Johnson's willingness to countenance a "carbon fee" as something inherently "left-wing" than just pointing at it. It shows Johnson is a terrible anarchist, to be sure, but let those who don't believe in taxation at all throw the first stone.)

Tracinski in the course of his essay very much misunderstands a point I tried to make regarding William Weld's silly comments about guns, so I suppose I should clarify.

Tracinski says I:

redefines gun control as "a 'progs v. right-winger' culture war consideration"—something that will be news, no doubt, to Second Amendment advocates—and that this is his way of downgrading the issue to the realm of insignificance.

What I wrote:

Despite the obvious fact that Weld is less of a fan of, or less comfortable with, the widespread existence of guns in our culture than a Tracinski or a me, Weld did acknowledge to Nick Gillespie in an interview forReason that to try to ban them now would create an instant 30 million or so felons.

The context strongly implies he is not interested in creating those felons. So, seeing Weld on guns as a dealkiller is just a matter of one's sense of the personal stances and attitudes of the candidate, who as vice president clearly was not about to be passing legislation banning any kind of weapon or restricting American weapon rights in any manner anyway, not about what would actually happen to America if he were vice president.

I, too, am quite unhappy that a Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate says things like what bothered Tracinski about guns. But again, that's internal libertarian movement amour propre, not an actual worry about how a Johnson/Weld presidency would affect the country.

Certainly, Weld's comments were terrible. And if I thought there were any reason to believe a Johnson/Weld administration would try to ban AR-15s or handguns, I would say that's certainly a stellar reason for anyone devoted to liberty to eschew them. Despite Tracinski's misinterpretation of my point, I consider gun control an issue so significant it's the only policy issue I have written an entire book about, Gun Control on Trial.

What I was saying, and I just need to repeat myself I guess, is that Weld himself made it pretty clear in an interview with Reason's Nick Gillespie that he's aware that banning "assault rifles" now would be a bad idea. And the presidential candidate Gary Johnson has been pretty good on gun policy and gun culture questions, though I question his lack of desire to roll back any existing federal gun law.

Certainly good enough on guns that those not looking for reasons to walk away from the L.P. in favor of Trump (or non-voting, a noble option) should realize that fearing an assault weapon ban from a Libertarian administration is not warranted by evidence, and thus harping on Weld's stupid comments is not about governance, it's about the type of person you think Weld is.

That Weld has ignorant, bad, dangerous attitudes about guns is perfectly clear. To worry about that and not a reasonable expectation based on the full body of evidence of likely Johnson administration policy is looking for reasons to reject the ticket because of culture war and not policy.

No question the Libertarian Party ticket is not as libertarian as I or most libertarians would like. The question then, for those who feel obliged to vote, is now: are they less libertarian in ways that are likely to be effectuated in executive policy or action than the other choices?

NEXT: Can you legally consent to a head transplant?

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  1. See, because without guns it’s not a real war.

    1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do… http://goo.gl/D5iC10

  2. let those who don’t believe in taxation at all throw the first stone.

    *throws*

    1. well, taxation is legalized theft, right?

      or does all your property belong to the state?

      1. Are you asking me or Doherty?

    2. Wait, before you all start throwing stones, we have to invite Gary North over to watch.

    3. From my Aunt Judy (RIP):

      Jesus was walking through the streets when he saw a group of people harassing a young woman. They threw her to thee ground, and began picking up rocks to stone her.

      Jesus said, “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.”

      Most of the people looked at the ground, guiltily.

      But one old woman examined the ground, found a rock she liked, picked it up, and hurled it at the young woman.

      Jesus said, “DAMN it, mother!”

      I always liked that joke…

      1. Thanks, never heard that one before; forwarding to parish priest as I type.

  3. That [both candidates on the LP ticket] ha[ve] ignorant, bad, dangerous attitudes about [a variety of things] is perfectly clear.

    To worry about that and not a reasonable expectation based on the full body of evidence of likely Johnson administration policy is looking for reasons to reject the ticket because of culture war and not policy….

    The question then, for those who feel obliged to vote, is now: are they less libertarian in ways that are likely to be effectuated in executive policy or action than the other choices?

    I’ve mentioned this before –

    I think the argument Brian makes here (and has made before) simply doesn’t work. at all. Its conceptually flawed.

    Because it relies on the idea that “what johnson/weld say now” is less important than “what they’d theoretically do if they were elected”

    The problem with that approach is that *it presumes “Winning” is actually a possibility”.
    It pretends some future “Johnson/Weld administration” is ever going to happen

    People who vote for Johnson/Weld are not doing so because they’re confident that, in his inevitable victory, they will govern wisely and ‘more libertarian’ than their campaign rhetoric suggests.

    they’re doing so because they’re the “protest” vote. They’re the ones who are supposed to offer an option which reflects the minority of voters who care more about principles than power.

    1. – the quote i’ve cited before on this, which i still think sums the problem up well =

      your dilemma here is this: Do Johnson’s flirtations with the left make it impossible to vote for him, even though everyone understands that he’s never going to be in a position to act on those flirtations?

      If you’re thinking of casting a vote for a guy who can’t win, it doesn’t matter what his positions are, really. All that matters is whether he’s gone too far in muddling the message you want to send with that vote. Johnson is, in theory, the candidate of smaller government; in practice, if he’s willing to entertain the idea of appointing another Breyer to the Court, then maybe he isn’t. Is ideological purity unimportant in a protest vote or is it very important since, after all, you’re choosing to forfeit what tiny influence you have over the outcome of the election in order to cast that vote? I’m leaning towards writing in Harambe the dead gorilla for president at this point but it’s something to think about.

      1. Mostly I don’t take issue with that quote, but this:

        you’re choosing to forfeit what tiny influence you have

        is bullshit, no matter how many times it’s said.

        1. He’s simply summarizing the rationales that people make when *choosing* a protest vote.

          For people who want to “Send a message” with their vote, rather than simply feel like they’re nudging the “better side” into power…. the LP-candidacy fails.

          If you’re the kind of person who believes that the main purpose third parties serve is to *push an agenda*, to pull the mainstream parties in a given direction re: those policies, etc…. the “Demopublican Soft-Serve Swirl” that Johnson/Weld represent isn’t really giving any bang-per-buck.

          I’d be happier if Brian simply said, “They’re shooting for 5% so they can get federal matching $“. Its not about “principles” = its about utilitarian, political opportunism, and using this election in order to get a higher-profile in the *next* one.

          I don’t necessarily think that’s the most brilliant strategy *either*, but at least its an argument that makes sense. This appeal to “the theoretical Johnson Administration” … doesn’t, really.

          1. Yeah, I get that. But how many states are actually in play this election? Mine isn’t. Maryland is a winner takes all state that’s reliably Democrat. Isn’t every vote not for a Democrat a forfeit?

            1. how many states are actually in play this election?

              a handful. if the LP beats the spread in any of those states, it would be an interesting boost of the profile

              Isn’t every vote not for a Democrat a forfeit?

              Not sure what you mean. from the POV of the libertarian goal of getting “5% or better” of the total popular vote, any vote anywhere matters. Winning states isn’t really in the cards. (unless its like… alaska? someone once mentioned there was maybe a few states a libertarian might win, but i think its super unlikely)

              1. I’m just taking issue with one specific piece of what you quoted, not the entire argument. You don’t throw away your “influence” by not voting for a major party candidate any more than you do by voting for a major party candidate who’s not going to win your state.

                1. You don’t throw away your “influence” by not voting for a major party candidate

                  I don’t think so either, and i don’t think that’s entirely what was intended (tho the excerpt might suggest that.

                  (*my read is also based on a few other comments that the same guy has made re: the LP and its discontents)

                  i think the idea there is that if you DO vote for a 3rd party, you’re making a choice to try and influence the ‘major parties’ towards specific 3rd party positions on key policies. which – in theory – would be wholly distinct and differentiated from the positions that the major parties already take.

                  which is why a 3rd party that runs a centrist campaign would be seen as lacking that specific sort of policy influence. It doesn’t require that the major parties “co-opt you” in any way. It doesn’t ‘move the ball’ for any specific policy. Its just a different shade of vanilla.

          2. A footnote to this =

            i think there’s a legitimate argument (which i haven’t seen made anywhere, tho i assume someone has made it) that the LP is making a strategic error with the current “(mostly) pander to the left” approach.

            (choose a different name for it if you want – maybe its not ‘the left’ they’re pandering to so much as an nonideological ‘centrism’; a generic “economic conservative/socially liberal’ thing which exists in averages of polling data, but which imo doesn’t really reflect how people actually think)

            Its absolutely true that “the other two” candidates are so bloody awful that the LP stands to gain enormously well if they can pick up any ‘dissatisfied voters’ from either side.

            However, i’m not sure that picking up those people requires compromising on all the things they’re necessarily compromising on. I am not in a position to throw data around behind this, but would be interested in someone taking up the challenge.

            The question is = what is the real net-net of “who you lose vs. who you gain” when throwing any given principle out of the window? I suppose you can’t find out until voting day, and even then the #s are so thin that it would be difficult to tease out.

            But i’m instinctively unconvinced that – on Gun issues, since that’s the topic – the LP ticket gains anything by being squishy. I suspect its a net-loss. because there are a lot of these types of guys, and they will be unimpressed.

    2. Because it relies on the idea that “what johnson/weld say now” is less important than “what they’d theoretically do if they were elected”

      Isn’t that the same thing many Trump apologists have been accused of doing?

      It’s a hell of a drug, no?

      1. Fair point, but 1) “Trump supporter” isn’t a good look for anyone (least of all libertarians), and 2) Trump is actuually in a position to win, making that logic more tenable.

        Shorter: do we want “LP supporter = Trump supporter”?

        1. 1) “Trump supporter” isn’t a good look for anyone (least of all libertarians)

          I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of LRC readers suddenly cried out in utter rage…

          Anyway, the point is not to excuse them, but more of “a pox on both their houses” thing.

      2. Isn’t that the same thing many Trump apologists have been accused of doing?

        Of course. because he actually stands a chance of winning.

        1. No, he doesn’t. I’d be surprised if he carries a single swing state, and a few normally solid red states are in play. His new “strategy” of trying to eat his words on immigration is ironically making things even worse for him.

          1. “No, he doesn’t”

            He’s the candidate of one of the two major parties in the US, only a total ignoramus or someone out of touch reality would claim he has NO chance.

            1. Walter Mondale, Bob Dole, and John McCain were major party candidates too, and they were hopeless by September. Trump outdid them by being hopeless for the entire duration of the campaign, from the moment he clinched the nom, but it’s not unprecedented for a major party candidate to have no chance.

              Which states that went for Obama in 2012 does Trump have a chance of winning? He has to make up 62 electoral votes.

    3. Reminds me of when Clay Conrad was running as LP nominee for mayor of NYC, and in his statement on housing policies he didn’t come out against rent controls. I asked him why, and he said that with his other policies in place, vacancies would quickly rise to the threshold where state law required rent controls to be abolished.

  4. A: “Guns are not a culture war issue.”

    B: “They aren’t? Whoo.” B shoots gun into the air. “Can I join your bookclub?”

    A: “No.”

  5. So the idea here is that Team Johnson would be better at governing because of the constraints they’d be operating under…

    …which is a silly idea since they won’t be winning and thus this second approximation of “what they’d actually do” is pointless

    …and this thought experiment goes counter to the idea of an ideological vote anyways, which is to vote for someone who provides a clear picture of what it would look like if libertarians were in charge and a forceful rebuttal to the status quo

    So yes, Brian. Your reasoning makes sense for a party that’s going to win or is close to that. The LP is nowhere near that, and needs to be prominently ideological (and in a way that a large # of people can latch onto), before it becomes practical.

    I mean, you’ve got to have your Apostle Pauls and Peters and all the people who actually believe and painted a picture in the public mind of what they’re talking about?

    Before people will put up with and support the Pope Innocents and such who are far more about the practical implementation of having power and expanding your TEAM.

    Cuz if not, you’re basically just another asshole that wants to contribute to the shitstain that is status quo politics, instead of a guy who wants to wipe away the shitstain

    1. Hmm… good points. I’m back to voting for Trump, if he shows even half a chance to win Colorado, because, as I’ve said before, I absolutely loathe Hillary Clinton, rationally or not.

  6. “Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, or of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation. In such instances we must find some substitute for the regulation by the price mechanism.”

    —-Road to Serfdom by You Know Who.

    I went through this the other day. Suffice it to say that sales taxes aren’t coercive if they’re the least coercive method of taxation. They’re further vindicated by subjecting taxation itself to the discipline of markets and the “price mechanism”. The government can’t set the sales tax too high without cutting into their own revenue stream, and that is the beauty of markets.

    Other forms of taxation are immensely harmful for all the reasons socialism itself is harmful. Taxing income to redistribute it through government spending is obviously socialist, and so is taxing corporate profits, taxing dividends, and taxing capital gains. Those last three methods of taxation amount to nationalization and government ownership. If ownership doesn’t mean being entitled to a portion of the profits, dividends and capital gains, then it doesn’t mean anything.

    Sales taxes on carbon avoid all that socialist crap.

    1. Ken – you are making a large assumption that a sales tax will always be used by the state to maximize its profits. That incentive goes out the window when you start talking about a government that can print its own money and has constitutional forms of taxation otherwise.

      Example 1 – Opiates were initially banned with the power to tax. The taxes were set intentionally high. The lawmakers who passed explicitly said the purpose of this tax is not to raise revenue. The courts would allow this.
      Example 2 – Same done with marijuana.
      Example 3 – They attempted to do the same with child labor (but this was overturned initially).

      The courts have basically done away with any restriction on the federal governments ability to tax. In the 1940’s, the court outright stated that the power to tax could be used to circumvent restrictions placed on federal powers elsewhere (previously, they maintained a pretense that they could not, even if they had selectively allowed it such as for drugs).

      1. I’m sure those are all excellent examples.

        I can think of examples of the government cutting taxes to maximize their revenue.

        Certainly, getting signals from market prices every day gives the government a better idea of where they stand on tax rates than waiting once a quarter or once a year to see how corporations and individuals are faring.

        And I would reiterate that this proposal isn’t meant to suggest that all of the problems we have with government taxation will be solved by going to a sales tax that’s subjected to market pricing.

        It just needs to be better than the income tax, the corporate tax, and the capital gains tax, and being better than those taxes is so easy, it isn’t even a contest.

        Honestly, when we’re talking about socialism in this country, the income tax, the corporate tax, and the capital gains tax is most of what we’re talking about. We really shouldn’t have to try to persuade our fellow libertarians too hard that getting rid of socialism is a good thing by itself.

  7. Furthermore, sales taxes are as voluntary as taxation can be in that we make the choice of whether to pay them every time we choose whether to make a purchase. If all we had was a sales tax on carbon, rugged individualists could choose to not pay any taxes at all . . . and what’s more voluntary than that?

    So why tax carbon instead of something else?

    Because it’s the only thing that might get a significant portion of the left on board with dismantling our socialist taxation system.

    Anyone who isn’t willing to get rid of our authoritarian and socialist taxation system if doing so means leveraging the concerns of environmentalists shouldn’t call themselves capitalists–just like people on the left who aren’t willing to save the environment if doing so means getting rid of socialism should stop calling themselves “environmentalists”.

    Capitalism: Feel it. Know it. Live it.

    1. As a FairTax supporter, I agree with your analysis RE: sales taxes. However, I have 2 issues with a carbon tax. First is that carbon dioxide is a natural emission caused by many processes. It’s not merely a product that is bought and sold. Why do you think that the tax would be on the marketplace instead of on the emissions sources? I really don’t want to have to pay the government to have a bonfire in my backyard.

      Second is that it’s a vice tax, which puts a red flag up almost immediately. It’s one thing to level a flat-rate sales tax. It’s completely different to start singling out certain products for vice taxes.

      1. “Why do you think that the tax would be on the marketplace instead of on the emissions sources?”

        We already tax things at multiple market points, and that’s not ideal, but it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to be better than, say, the income tax. If all those people who work for the IRS going through every penny every corporation and individual earns and spends now had to start looking at carbon intensive activity and where it’s distributed in the market, the government would be far less intrusive and coercive than it is now. No more 1040s? No more reporting and compliance?

        I believe ultimately we would be taxing at the souce of these emissions–and those taxes would be reflected in market prices. If carbon were taxed at the utility level, the price for electricity from more carbon intensive power would be reflected in the market price of manufactured goods using that more carbon intensive electricity. Trucking companies would pay for carbon intensive fuel at the pump–and the products they carried to market would reflect the cost of that carbon tax.

        I hope you see what I’m getting at. Market prices to consumers would reflect the cost of the tax at the source.

        1. I do see what you’re getting at, but I think this is where my second point comes in. Carbon taxes are vice taxes, and thus you can’t have a bunch of “wealthy individuals” running around burning carbon when the poor people are having to pay increased prices for goods due to the carbon tax. It becomes yet another battlefield for progressive v. regressive taxation. Only the wealthy can afford to harvest wood from their own trees to burn tax-free for heating their houses (ignoring that Wickard v. Filburn would probably get invoked there). Therefore, we need a tax on forestry or on wood-burning fireplaces or on something else, which is now getting away from the marketplace and into the personal choices of individuals.

          I guess my point is that a carbon tax is waaaaay too slippery of a slope, IMO. And that assumes that I even buy into the idea that carbon is an actual vice that needs to be regulated.

          1. ignoring that Wickard v. Filburn would probably get invoked there

            I should probably connect the dots on this. My thought is that the ability to harvest and burn your own wood would effectively be regulated out of existence under the Commerce Clause before a tax were passed on individual release of carbon.

            1. We already tax gasoline.

              It isn’t that controversial.

      2. A practical problem with “vice” taxes is that they almost always work, that is they reduce the (legal) incidence of the taxed activity. That generally leads to the tax rate getting ramped up to maintain the revenue.

        So if this tax replaces other forms of taxation, what does the government do when the revenue starts to dry up?

        1. Move to sales taxes on other things.

          Cut spending?

          In the meantime, we have the advantage with the environmentalists and the left. Believe them or not, according to their models, cutting the amount of CO2 emissions to a level necessary to avoid catastrophe might require them to tax carbon at a level that’s similar to our total level of taxation as a percentage of GDP now.

          Unless they’re willing to eliminate the income tax, corporate tax, and the capital gains tax to make room for a carbon tax big enough to save the earth from catastrophe (according to their models), then they’ll need to convince a majority of American voters to accept an economy crushing level of new taxation–and keep it in place through subsequent elections.

          We have them by the balls. All we gotta do is squeeze.

        2. They do drive consumers to untaxed countereconomic transactions. Consider how rampant smuggling cigarettes from low-tax to high tax states is.

          As for revenue drying up, they try to extend the base, such as taxing vaping products, which, from a public health perspective, if your goal were to encourage people to quit using tobacco, is criminally stupid.

    2. Say what? I don’t have to buy food or clothing or toiletries or gas? But I have to earn an income? Arguing for a consumption tax as being more moral over an income tax is what we call a distinction without a difference.

      1. Moreover, one of the problems with the sales tax (or carbon tax) as replacement for the income tax argument is that it pits the income tax system we actually have against the unicorn tax regime that is being proposed. Any tax regime can be gamed. If you can get enough agreement to get your fairy tale through Congress, why not just simplify the income tax code?

        1. I think the benefit of a consumption tax over an income tax is the ability to avoid it. There are relatively few professions that allow you to barter instead of being paid a wage, even if it were beneficial to do so. However, it’s much easier to DIY things that you would otherwise consume in order to avoid a tax. Especially with something like the fairtax, where used items aren’t taxed, you can truly minimize your tax burden by buying used and doing things yourself. It also incentivizes saving money rather than spending it, which is much healthier for the individuals rather than the consumption-based focus of the macro numbers.

        2. “If you can get enough agreement to get your fairy tale through Congress, why not just simplify the income tax code?”

          The complexity of the tax code is the least of my concerns.

          My problem with authoritarianism and socialism isn’t that they’re too complicated and confusing–it’s that they’re authoritarian and socialist.

          My biggest problems with the present tax code is that it’s authoritarian and it’s socialist. To get rid of that, we need to go to the most voluntary form of taxation possible–and that’s a sales tax.

          The reason we can’t get rid of the income tax and all those other god awful forms of taxation is because we don’t have the support we need to do so from the left. If only there were an issue that might galvanize their support behind reform–can you imagine what that issue might be?

          1. “If only there were an issue that might galvanize their support behind reform–can you imagine what that issue might be?”

            I can hear the late night dorm room discussions now.

            You don’t want to get rid of the income tax, the corporate tax, and the capital gains tax and replace it with a carbon tax?

            What’s the matter with you?

            Don’t you care about the polar bears?

            Don’t you care about anybody but yourself?

            Don’t you want to save the world?

      2. If you can’t see the difference between the government redistributing wealth through income taxes and spending, on the one hand, and not doing that, on the other, I don’t know what to say. The difference is socialism, and I’m against redistributing wealth through income taxes for the same reasons I’m against socialism.

        Another problem is that taxing income prices labor out of the market by making it arbitrarily more expensive to hire unemployed people. Realistically, people should be just as happy to work for their take home pay, but they’re not allowed to work for that–companies have to pay them their take home pay plus what they need to pay in income taxes.

        I’d rather pay more for consumer goods than be priced out of the labor market especially when you consider that not all foods, clothing, toiletries, and transportation options are equally carbon intensive. You might move closer to work to avoid paying the tax on gasoline.

        P.S. You’re already paying sales taxes at the pump, you know.

  8. Gun control is not a culture war issue. It is an issue of core principles. The politicians driving the gun control movement apparently have no interest in proposing a Constitutional Amendment taht would allow their hobbyhorse to be enacted. This makes them scofflaws and, in my view, unfit to hold pblic office.

    I do not own a gun. I have no plans to own one soon. But I hold in contempt all politicians who believe that their pet cause is justification for evading the Constitutional limits on the power of the State.

    This means that, at present, I despise the vast majority of both major parties. I am disappointed to add any members of the Libertarian party, but I will.

  9. The present median of the future intersects two monsters… one of which exists slightly more hideous than the opposing as a grandmother coyly baring marble fangs and wafting noxious perfume laced with the stink of dank narrow alleys flitting shadowy apparitions cast by festering apparatuses clacking and grinding betrayal and festering filigree far beneath the penetrating peering gleam of the noticing.

    The business of the fringe must lilt its tunes into the warbling breathless amazon of its shuffling nomads but nothing more clearer remains than avoiding the never return that lies beyond murky precipices of the Clinton Cliffs.

    1. What AC said

      1. word

  10. Will SMOD let me keep my guns?

    1. Gotta do it myself? OK then:
      “Only until he pries them out of your cold, dead hands”

  11. Robert Tracinski at The Federalist has replied to my reply to his reply to Nick Gillespie’s reply to him.

    Whew. But wait, there’s more!

    I can’t tell if you’re bashing the exchange of ideas here, but I’ve found this back and forth of articles much more engaging than most of the clickbait tripe that masquerades as modern journalism.

    1. agreed.

      i think direct tete-a-tete is a hell of a lot better than snooty sniping

  12. Did anyone bring up the new Obama hagiography Southside With You? It is a movie on Barack and Michelle’s first date. Written by a wide dude.

    1. Written by a wide dude

      ugh. fat shaming.

      1. Yesterday you asked people to name their greatest disappointment in Reason in one word.

        To answer: Gilmore.

        Obviously meant white.

        1. (affects teenage girl voice)

          uhm, like i totally obviously understood than and totally obviously was making a joke, duh, i mean, really.

        2. I thought maybe you meant wise. Robert’s been dead for a decade, however.

    2. I saw a trailer for it. Can’t they at least wait until he’s been out of office for awhile? Christ, they used to wait until people were dead for a few years before making such saccharine dreck about their lives.

      1. I color corrected that trailer.

        No further comment.

      2. Can’t they at least wait until he’s been out of office for awhile?

        Hollywood is controlled by liberals enamored with churning out uninspired reboots, and the less sense it makes in English, the better for foreign markets. Of course they’d love a prequel full of Obama dialogue.

  13. those who believe in the existence of a state financed by taxation, which I’m pretty sure includes everyone voting for Donald Trump

    Thousands and thousands of anarchists will be voting for Donald J Trump.

  14. “Though those who believe in the existence of a state financed by taxation, which I’m pretty sure includes everyone voting for Donald Trump and nearly everyone reading The Federalist, have more arguing to do re: Johnson’s willingness to countenance a “carbon fee” as something inherently “left-wing” than just pointing at it. It shows Johnson is a terrible anarchist, to be sure, but let those who don’t believe in taxation at all throw the first stone.”

    You can actually visit an anarchist society in southern Mexico. Don’t break their rules. They’ve got a free society, damn it, and what could be more coercion free than a bunch of masked men greeting you at the visitors’ center with guns?

    http://tinyurl.com/h67p3mr

    Make sure you get a shot for those mosquito borne worms.

    I remain unconvinced that an anarchist system based on contracts would be both completely free of coercion and sustainable.

    To me there are certain basic things you’ve got to be able to do if you’re going to have a society that protects people’s natural rights.

    1. To me there are certain basic things you’ve got to be able to do if you’re going to have a society that protects people’s natural rights.

      Like lynchings and other forms of vigilance

      1. Police arresting and holding suspects before they’re tried or convicted.

        Courts being able to compel testimony.

  15. For instance, the police need to be able to detain suspected criminals while gathering evidence to determine whether to lodge charges. Courts need to be able to compel testimony. These things may be coercive, but I believe they’re are fundamental to the sustainability of any society. Furthermore, someone needs to pay for these things, and if you’re going to deny protection for rights based on the inability or unwillingness to pay, you’re effectively condemning those people to slavery and death.

    From 10th century Iceland to the Old West of America, withholding the protection of the law was what it meant to be an outlaw. You’re going to deny that protection to the poor, the nonconformists, and the disenfranchised–and you think that’s going to be sustainable? The relatively free societies that did things like this seem to have collapsed and been subsumed in part because they did things like this.

  16. Since first starting to pay attention to Libertarian Party politics in 1980, I have noticed that Libertarians tend to be elected to office in two main ways: 1) Via grass-roots campaigns in local and regional elections, which may or may not be officially partisan; 2) By getting elected to higher-level positions, first as a member of a “big two” party, and then switching affiliation to the LP while in office (a variation on this being getting co-endorsements from one of those parties while also running as a Libertarian). How many Libertarians have ever been elected to State legislature or higher, or any position in the Federal government, running only as partisan Libertarians? Even experienced, successful, popular, lower-level, local Libertarian office holders cannot seem to climb the ladder above the County level. That has been the situation for so long, I worry that Libertarians might never be able to break through to the the upper echelon by the often recommended approach of building from the bottom up, as long as their only option would be to climb up from the bottom. So I welcome the incumbent officeholders who defect from the major parties, as they, from their relatively loftier positions, can clear the way for lower-level Libertarians and even help pull the latter up, as necessary. (concluded in reply msg)

    1. (continued from parent message, above)

      Indeed, that project, of helping thoroughly libertarian grass-roots activists break through to the top steps of the ladder, would seem at least as important for party-switchers to pursue as that of libertarian-influenced governance and demonstrating to the public that the practice of same not only does not bring the sky crashing down, but in fact yields positive results.

      The deal breaker for many Libertarians is that incumbent party-switchers may not be “libertarian enough,” and that the Libertarian “brand” will be in peril of dilution or worse damage (perhaps beyond repair). I think, if they are sincerely aiming for the goal of putting libertarians in office up and down the ladder, Libertarians have to accept that risk and embrace those who come over to the side of liberty. A consciously pursued process of education and assimilation, by which newcomers can learn how to reliably answer the question, “how libertarian is it?,” as well as judge how libertarian they themselves are, and whether the LP is a good fit for them, would seem necessary. Perhaps Johnson and Weld would volunteer to beta-test such a program… 😉

      1. If anything, a pragmatic approach can be useful.

  17. Just wanted to point out that nothing I said the first time, and repeated here, is in any way at all based on the notion that they won’t/can’t win. It is very explicitly about what can reasonably be surmised based on the things I said and linked to about a Johnson admin 2nd Am. policy if such an administration existed. IF I were judging them strictly as ideological or protest warriors, I’d be much harder on them. I’m explicitly judging them, in Tracinski’s model, on what we can expect to happen to America if you vote for them and they win.

    1. Come on, Doherty, arguing with the Commentariat? Nobody even RTFA, they are replying to the voices in their heads. Or, at least, I am… Which makes you a voice in my head… congratulations, rent is $400 a month, American.

      1. Wait, Brian Doherty is a real person? I thought that, as with any other name that appears in place of “Reason Staff”, was a ceremonial term of abuse to be yelled by the commentariat whenever we’re angry or scared.

    2. 2016 is weird. Usually, the best the LP can hope for is to get good (minimally patronizing) media coverage while running an “educational campaign,” because the mood of the public doesn’t inspire much jumping over the two-party fence. But more than I have ever seen since starting to pay attention to the LP in 1980, the public is hungry for viable alternatives to the toxic slop that the two big parties are serving this year. Both words of that phrase are important The public wants “alternatives,” but the must also be “viable.” That is, the candidates need to be able to do the job if elected. So the LP has a chance to walk away with more than the customary, somewhat elevated awareness of itself and its platform. Millions of votes? Even an Electoral College vote or several? Its own lectern on the Official Presidential Debate stage? What else? Achieving any of these things could trigger an earthquake that would be capable of changing the political landscape. These are all prizes worth pursuing, not to mention the long-shot possibility of “winning the lottery” and taking the White House. But the LP stalwarts can’t yet play that game. And politicians of sufficient experience and track record aren’t ideologically rigorous enough to satisfy the LP stalwarts, nor will they submit themselves to being controlled mouthpieces for orthodox libertarians. (concluded nxt msg)

      1. (continued from immediate parent msg)

        So, should the LP pass on this fantastic opportunity to make a bigger splash than ever before and perhaps jumpstart a new chapter in its history? So many are criticizing Johnson and Weld for their ideological impurity, but I’ve been a long-suffering toiler in libertarian vineyards for decades, now, and if we want actually to elect candidates to higher State and any Federal offices, we are going to have to make those splashes and trigger those earthquakes if we can. As I said at the beginning, 2016 is weird. We may not get the chance to have a similar impact in my lifetime. So let’s take it, this one time. Chances are that, if either of the “Big Two” candidates win, we will be suffering under that one for eight years. To paraphrase Johnson, if, after this year, we decide that running educational campaigns is the better course for us, we can always return to that policy in 2020. But, because our ticket is credible, interest in the LP is high, and the voter mood seems right, let’s try seriously running to win, JUST TO SEE HOW FAR WE CAN GO!

        1. Right. Johnson’s wavering on fundamental freedoms is bugging the hell out of me, but I’ll take getting six percent of the vote with a guy who bugs me (and we can take back the ideological purity of the now more popular party in the nomination race later) to getting 0.5% of the vote with some Darryl Perry type.

    3. So it’s not based on reality?

  18. Weld himself made it pretty clear in an interview with Reason’s Nick Gillespie that he’s aware that banning “assault rifles” now would be a bad idea

    I can’t tell if you’re referring to the above quote or not. The above quote is talking about a complete ban on guns, which even Hillary isn’t going to publicly agree to. Perhaps I’m just missing the context that shows they were only talking about assault rifles.

    1. I’m talking about what Weld said, quoting Johnson, between minute 7 and 8 of the video interview with Nick at that link, about the absurd impossibility inherent in trying to ban the AR-15. One could, if one were obdurate, assume that Weld really meant that despite what Johnson says, he’ll secretly make sure the administration will create those 30 million felons. But I think that would be an iffy read.

      1. Thanks for the clarification. I just wasn’t sure if you were referring to the below portion of your previous article or to another portion of the interview.

        Despite the obvious fact that Weld is less of a fan of, or less comfortable with, the widespread existence of guns in our culture than a Tracinski or a me, Weld did acknowledge to Nick Gillespie in an interview forReason that to try to ban them now would create an instant 30 million or so felons.

  19. The blunt raving madness burgeons mightily with the awol[left] group: http://bit.ly/2bR9VTW

  20. The “full body of evidence of likely Johnson administration policy” is that William Weld’s thousands of new federal jack booted thugs will, when they aren’t making prostitution and hard drug busts or going door-to-door seizing firearms, be stripping Muslim women in the streets in the name of freedom FROM religion.

  21. Tracinski says I:

    redefines gun control as “a ‘progs v. right-winger’ culture war consideration”?something that will be news, no doubt, to Second Amendment advocates?and that this is his way of downgrading the issue to the realm of insignificance.

    I’m pretty sure that Tracinski was referring to this, which was one paragraph beyond what you quoted in this article:

    So we have Tracinski very explicitly saying that merely knowing that these guys have attitudes about those two issues that are signficant “progs v. right-winger” culture war considerations that rub him the wrong way is more important to him than something that is actually a core part of the president’s role?proposing budgets

    I can certainly see where Tracinski gets the impression that you have lumped gun control into the culture war.

  22. “those not looking for reasons to walk away from the L.P. in favor of Trump (or non-voting, a noble option)”

    Again, they left out the possibility of voting for Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party.

    They mentioned Castle recently in reporting a semi-joke poll where Castle ran even with Harambe (almost as if Castle wasn’t getting a lot of exposure?)

    But it is simply not correct to say that all conservative freedom-fanciers must either vote LP or Johnson or nothing. (There will be some states where Castle is off the ballot, of course).

    As the the porn and sodomy parts of the Constitution Party platform, are they in Doherty’s words likely to be effectuated in executive policy or action?

    1. Yes. A hypothetical Castle administration wouldn’t have the Justice Department go against blatantly anti-1A state anti-porn laws.

  23. If Johnson’s carbon tax idea was part of a plan to put an end to the income and payroll taxes and go with consumption taxes instead, then I’d listen – but from the excerpt where I heard Johnson talking about it, his carbon tax was apparently to be placed *on top of* all the other taxes.

    “let those who don’t believe in taxation at all throw the first stone.”

    I actually used this as a reductio ad absurdam when some commenters were talking about “purity tests” on freedom of association. I replied that Johnson wasn’t simply leaving the Civil Rights Act in place, he was proposing to *expand*, and the analogy I used was if he advocated a tax increase. If Johnson called for a tax increase, I asked, would people wave it off as a “purity test” issue? Would people say that because we already have taxes, there’s no principled basis to resist *new* taxes, since the principle of taxation has already been conceded.

    I didn’t know that my *reductio ad absurdam* argument would actually be used with a straight face.

    1. Johnson was explicitly exploring a “revenue neutral” carbon tax. Quote from latimes: “I’m open also to the notion of a carbon tax. That it does have an impact, that it ends up being revenue-neutral. I’m not looking at this as a revenue generator, as much as there are costs associated with, there are health and safety issues with carbon.”

      I think all the hullabaloo about this is silly. Unless one is an anarchist (which is fine, but not relevant here), there is nothing automatically unlibertarian or impure about being “open to the notion” of internalizing some alleged externality. Whether a carbon tax is the best option overall is an empirical matter and not a matter of principle, unless one is an anarchist. Of course, the relevant empirical questions include not only the costs and benefits associated with various sorts of taxation in general and of carbon in particular but also the political realities regarding what actors might be mollified or emboldened by such a policy and whether such a tax would remain revenue neutral and lots of other issues. All the same it comes down to an empirical matter and not a matter of principle. There is not one deductively correct answer to this from a libertarian perspective. It is appropriate to be “open to the notion.”

      Johnson’s attitude on the CRA is less forgivable.

  24. Finally – can someone give me a definition of “culture war”?

    Specifically, can you give me a definition which includes (say) abortion and marriage, but not guns?

    1. Anything not specifically enumerated in the Constitution?

      1. “No person shall be…deprived of life…without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” – Fifth Amendment

        “nor shall any state deprive any person of life…without due process of law” – 14th Amendment

        1. oops…

          “No person shall be…deprived of life…without due process of law…” – Fifth Amendment

          “nor shall any state deprive any person of life…without due process of law” – 14th Amendment

          1. “No person shall be…deprived of life…without due process of law…”

            Right. That’s why we require issuance of a marriage license.

            1. I’m not for the secular state giving marriage licenses.

              Marriage – the union of 1 man and 1 woman – exists independently of the state. The state simply recognizes reality, rather than attempt to create its own reality.

              1. *throws hands up*

                Is this what HnR has become?

                A place where marriage jokes go to die?

                1. I laughed

        2. Technically only the 5th applies here (the state isn’t the one depriving the person of life)

          However, I was just making a joke, so don’t think too hard about my reply.

          1. Ever since Magna Carta, outlawry – taking away state protection of someone’s life – has itself been considered a deprivation of life. The due process clause is the descendant of Magna Carta.

  25. …Johnson’s willingness to countenance a “carbon fee” as something inherently “left-wing” than just pointing at it. It shows Johnson is a terrible anarchist, to be sure, but let those who don’t believe in taxation at all throw the first stone.)

    Here’s my stone: taxes are necessary for the legitimate functions of government (see the Preamble to the Constitution).Taxes levied to pay the government for quackery like pretending to control the weather are statist bullshit.

  26. If you vote because you think your vote will determine the next President, vote for the least bad option, which is Johnson/Weld.

    If you vote because you want to send a ‘signal’ to someone out there, think over the options and if you conclude that not voting for Johnson/Weld will ‘punish’ the LP and prevent future sucky candidates, go ahead. But consider that a strongly worded letter to the party, one that mentions future financial contributions, will be much more effective at signaling your preferences than your single measly vote (which will be lost when the votes are rounded to the nearest thousand anyway).

    Us non-voters don’t really give a shiv.

    1. Us non-voters don’t really give a shiv.

      that would be a lot more believable but for all the stuff that immediately preceded it.

      1. I care for arguments, sir, not votes!

        1. I care for arguments, sir

          I hear you.

          I think the idea that the people currently complaining about GJ/Weld’s absence of Gun-Rights absolutism are all already LP-party donors (or even potential future ones) is maybe a bit of a stretch. As is the idea that the LP itself has much sway over the campaign rhetoric of the Dynamic Duo.

          *in particular i am thinking of the responses they gave to the question about whether prostitution was a victim-less crime ….which ranged from “its a federalism issue” to “i agree with the LP” (who thinks it should be entirely decriminalized) to “prostitutes are victims” to Weld’s “Of course its a crime” …. all in the space about about 30 seconds.

  27. Come on, Brian Doherty, you’re a distinguished historian of eccentric freedom movements, why not cover the Constitution Party?

    1. That’s the “Biblical Party”; they ignore the constitution from A-1
      Fuck off, eddie.

        1. No, I’m not wasting time on your ‘clever’ bullshit.
          Fuck off, edie

            1. The world is full of assholes, thought sevo, pursing his lips.

              Ignorant theocratic assholes. It made sevo mad just thinking about them.

              There was no avoiding them, they were everywhere, dumping their bullshit non-sequiturs and fallacies all over the Internet.

              Someday there would come a cleansing rain to wash all the filth out of the Internet.

              Crossing the street, sevo caught a whiff of…what? The smell was not necessarily unpleasant, and it was vaguely familiar, but he’d never experienced a scent of such intensity.

              It seemed to be coming from Agile’s place.

              Trying to recapture his line of thought, sevo reflected on the vast mass of stupidity and mendacity in the world. Mendacity…it’s like a whole city of…mendas.

              He definitely needed to men what was wrong with the world, that’s for sure, and the lavender dragon nodded all three of its heads in agreement.

  28. Do not fuck with my guns, motherfucker. I said, do not fuck with my guns, motherfucker!

  29. “Gun Control is Not a Culture War Issue
    But worrying about a vice presidential candidate’s attitude vs. reasonable assumptions about presidential policy is privileging culture war over policy.”

    Brian, I’m presuming you wrote that headline.
    What the fuck does it mean? I’d like it in English, please.

  30. Johnson sucks balls on the first amendment and second amendment and he apparently favors force to prevent people from hurting themselves. He’s a shitty candidate, not just by libertarian standards but by all standards. He’s just a democrat anyway, his positions are perfectly in line with the party.

    1. All true. But also very easily, 10X better than anything else on the ballot.

      1. The “lesser evil” game doesn’t really work when the lesser evil would be ecstatic to get 1.5% of the vote.

  31. And I swear I had something to say about this exact thing, but it seems Claire Wolfe beat me to it 20 years ago.

  32. Google can be your friend. Even though it probably is a Clintonian lapdog at this point in our political d-evolution…….”America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.” ? 101 Things to Do ‘Til the Revolution (1996)

  33. I wonder how Tracinski explains away his candidate’s expressed desire to support Feinstein’s attempt to deny constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties based on a secret government list? i.e., “No Fly, No buy.” It not only is a direct attack on the Second Amendment, but an attack on the entire Bill of Rights.

    1. “you shouldn’t have anybody who’s on a terrorist watch list be able to buy any gun at all.” – William Weld

  34. 2014 – New Yorks 1,000,000 new illegal gun owners..REFUSED TO REGISTER THEIR WEAPONS..

    One million plus new felons, all armed with scary, high capacity, MEDIA LABELED assault weapons!

    The deadline for New York residents to register their so called “Assault Weapons” and “High” (read standard) Capacity Magazines came and went.

    An estimated million plus, formerly law abiding, gun owners have refused to comply with Cuomo and down state Democrat’s naive belief that the NY Safe Act, passed in a so called emergency session of the New York legislature, could force free people to register their hard earned property.

    And who can blame these once lawful gun owners, with a president that picks and chooses which laws he will follow or enforce, as well as an Federal Attorney General that operates daily with a Contempt of Congress charge and gun running scandal, “Fast & Furious”, hanging over his head. Why should the average New York joe, bother to follow the law, especially when it is in direct conflict with the Constitution of the United States, the one true law of the land.

    http://www.ammoland.com/2014/0…..un-owners/

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