Monday, May 24, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

Did anybody notice that an ex-doctor named Paul just won the Republican senatorial primary in Kentucky? No, not Ron: his son, Rand (yes, named after you-know-who). So now there are two Libertarians named Paul working in politics under the Republican imprimatur. Libertarians who actually want to get elected usually do run as Republicans, because the Libertarian Party itself is a political debating society that doesn't know how to play politics, and doesn't do jacksh!t to get its candidates elected or even on the ballot. The Republican Party doesn't really like Libertarians, but is desperate enough to take them on. I wish Rand Paul, and his father, lots of luck.

The really interesting part is how the mainstream media (which carefully blacked out Ron Paul's campaign in the 2008 election), did its best to paint Rand Paul as a "racist" (the catch-all accusation these days, like "communist" in the '50s). IIRC, 'twas NBC that claimed Rand Paul wanted to repeal the Civil Rights Act -- even though he himself clearly said otherwise. The funny part is that within hours of NBC's claim there were videos up on YouTube showing Rand Paul's real statements, and comments by Black entertainers stoutly defending him. And a few hours after that, Rand Paul won the primary.

This reveals the growing influence of the Internet as a widespread news source, the almost desperate bias of the mainstream media, and the growth of the grassroots Libertarian movement which has both the media and the federal administration so worried.

It's also an eerie parallel to something that happened back in the '60s and '70s, when another grassroots movement took off. Back then it was the anti-Vietnam War movement, which collected such a galaxy of other pro-freedom causes around it: Civil Rights, Women's Lib, Gay Lib, and the whole Counterculture. The mainstream media then did the exact same things: first carefully ignored the Hippies, then slandered them. The Hippies responded with the "underground press", which was slower and less efficient than the Internet is today, but was adequate for getting the real news out to millions of people. The descendants of those underground press papers exist today, alas, in a decadent form: those "entertainment" papers -- like the NEW TIMES -- now staffed by bourgeois Parlor Pinks who moo patronizingly over "little brown people" and lie shamelessly about the immigration problem, any outbreak of the Libertarian movement, and anyone who proposes reducing our bloated government. Let's hope the Internet doesn't follow in their footsteps.

More to the point are the dirty tricks used by other political groups back then. The FBI did its best to infiltrate the "New Left" organizations and "CoIntelPro"/provocateer them. The Democrats sent hopeful candidates out to woo them. The Marxists infiltrated them and steered them (much to the FBI's delight) into crazy and clearly Communist positions. Between them, the Marxists and the FBI succeeded in bringing down the New Left and making the Hippies look obsolete -- but not before the New Left/Counterculture had managed to achieve a few things: ending the Vietnam War, getting voting-age reduced to draft-age, establishing the rights of Blacks, women and Gays. When the wave of '60s/'70s activism slid back down the beach, it left some permanent fixtures behind. (One of those was the Libertarian movement, which began in the late '60s and has been growing slowly but steadily ever since.)

And I'm seeing parallels to that now. When the Libertarian movement grew too big for the media to ignore (Ron Paul's candidacy, the Tea Party, the Downsize DC organizations), not only did the mainstream media start vigorously denouncing/slandering it, but the political opportunists moved in. Go to, say, any Tea Party rally and you'll find: provocateurs hanging around the edges waving badly-spelled signs with Nazi emblems and slogans, Republican candidates lying merrily as they woo votes, and Conservatives infiltrating and trying to take over.

Comparing this with the history of the '70s, I'd say that the Conservatives are the biggest threat. If they take over the grassroots Libertarian movement, they'll drag it down to ruin as surely as the Marxists did the New Left. There are ways to counter their tactics and keep them out (which also work well on the provocateurs, by the way), but first your Libertarian organization has to be able to identify them.

This isn't easy, since a lot of Conservative policies look, on the surface, much like Libertarian ones: reduced government, encouraging the growth of small businesses, encouraging the private sector to take up a lot of the services of government, and support of individual rights and responsibilities. It's only when you look deeper that the differences appear -- and by then your Conservative infiltrator may have already done damage, just as the Marxist infiltrators did back then.

For the sake of the public safety, I'll point out here what the big difference is; Conservatives are secretly addicted to their old religious, racial, class and sexual bigotries. Examples: Libertarians want religion kept out of public business, while Conservatives want laws to support their own particular religion. Libertarians consider labor unions to be "voluntary associations" and the "natural" check and balance on management, while Conservatives think they're all Corrupt and Evil. Libertarians could care less about anyone's race or ethnicity, while Conservatives (though they'll never say it in public) want "those people" kept at a safe and powerless distance. Libertarians consider everybody's sexuality to be their own business, completely neutral to law, while Conservatives will snarl about "disgusting perverts" and wail for laws to support "morality".

The simplest tactic I can think of is to bar anyone from Tea Party etc. meetings and rallies (as much as possible, anyway) who answers the wrong way on this one simple question: "What's your opinion of Gay Marriage?"

How will that work? Simple. A Libertarian will either shrug and say: "Let them marry if they want", or stand up on the nearest soapbox-equivalent and denounce government involvement in private contracts. A Conservative will either stammer and fumble and come up with laughably thin excuses about why Gays shouldn't marry, or else stand up at the nearest pulpit-equivalent and denounce Gays as "perverted", "immoral", "sick", etc. and claim that marriage is a "sacrament". That's how you can tell them apart.

I wonder how different the world would be today if the New Left/Counterculture had come up with a similar filtering system 'way back then.

--Leslie <;)))>< )O(


Mark Horning said...

Rand Paul won by a huge margin. I mean 30+ percentage points over the hand picked insider.

They are calling it the "Randslide".

It's not strictly correct to say that the Tea Party is Libertarian. Mostly they are pure Fiscal Conservatives. Of course, Fiscal Responsibility is a strong Libertarian position.

The tea partiers' positions on Social Conservative, or Defense/War Hawk type of Conservatism are generally all over the map. Their number one (#1) item on their "contract for America" is a balanced budget.

Also, a slight correction, Rand Paul is actually named Randall. he's not named after Ayn Rand, rather Rand is a nickname that stuck. (The Ayn Rand connection is of course nonetheless amusing)

Libertarians see unions as neither good nor bad per-se. They certainly see the "closed shop" as bad. At that point it's no longer voluntary association, and you are just trading union bosses for corporate bosses. I'll take the suits, in a closed shop the unions are just as likely to kill the Golden Goose as they are to actually work in the worker's interests. (see GM)

Anonymous said...

I think we can agree that the rush Limbaugh show is conservative. Just today, the guest host summed up the conservative position on gay marriage. It’s not in the constitution, so it’s a matter left to the states. Every state should be allowed to make their own laws.

The rule I’ve been using to differentiate libertarians from conservatives is the FDA. Libertarians, as I understand it, don’t just want to legalize illegal drugs, they want to legalize ALL drugs, medications, without a prescription. Conservatives will argue for legalizing some specific drugs, and keeping some drugs illegal based on their perceptions of harm to the community. I think Scalia once gave the definitive conservative position on the FDA.

Are you saying that conservatives are all secretly believing something they aren’t saying? Do you really want to play that game?

Aya Katz said...

Leslie, thanks for the news about Rand Paul. I don't follow regular news outlets, so I get my news where I can find it.

As for the marriage question, I'd prefer the state to stay completely out of private contracts. I'm always suspicious of people who support a conservative style marriage between two people (of whatever sex) and pretend that it's all for the sake of the children. Meanwhile, single parents are supposed to pay employment taxes for nannies they don't happen to be sleeping with.

Tucci said...

I'd amend that line "The Republican Party doesn't really like Libertarians..." to read:

"The Republican Party REALLY doesn't like libertarians."

Note the small "L" there.

Leslie is dead-on when it comes to the "What's your opinion of Gay Marriage?" test, though.

I've spent a merry time on "conservative" (actually Republican-rah-rah) Web sites like pounding the rabid traditionalists over that issue. If you want to make the religious whackjobs to twitch and froth and jump up and down, simply offer a reasoned "Get the government goons out of people's bedrooms" argument, or quote Jefferson's "neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg" line about whatever it is that consenting moral agents do to each other in private.

Or, hell, in public. If I stumble across a same-sex couple - or cluster - in mid-orgasm while walking my minor grandchildren about, I'll consider it "a teachable moment."

A traditionalist - might not want to use the term "conservative," really - will go apeshit.

Regarding doragoon's perception:

"Libertarians, as I understand it, don’t just want to legalize illegal drugs, they want to legalize ALL drugs, medications, without a prescription. Conservatives will argue for legalizing some specific drugs, and keeping some drugs illegal based on their perceptions of harm to the community."

Oh, it goes a HELLUVA lot further than that. Anent the FDA (which has so spectacularly trespassed - to what possible positive effect? - upon the regulatory turf of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with regard to products derived from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana), those of us in the sawbones racket have long been aware of the Friedmans' observation about how the FDA's Office of New Drugs' obstacles placed in the way of bringing medicinal pharmaceuticals to market KILLS hundreds of thousands of Americans without effectively preserving people from harm.

Jeez, no wonder the Pauls pere et fils are medical doctors. And neither of these guys has had the sorts of experience with those corrupt and incompetent goniffs in Rockville that this, your humble correspondent has.

On the matter of those psychoactive substances on Schedule I, the word isn't "legalize" but decriminalize. Just what the hell is there in the definition of "civil government" that has anything legitimate to do with whether the private citizen is sober or sozzled?

Per Heinlein, the word to focus upon lies between those two terms in the dictionary, and that concept (so alien to the sphincter-spasm'd normative traditionalist) is "sovereign."

- More -

Tucci said...

- Continuation -

Finally, to the best of my memory, the break between those of us in the libertarian moiety of the falsely-conceived political "right" and the traditionalist / "Rotarian socialist" bunch long adherent to the Republican Party came in the early seventies, during the reign of Richard Milhous Nixon.

Like Leslie, I was "there" during that time, sensible of the goings-on in Mordor-on-the-Potomac, and I watched that bastich inflict OSHA, the EPA, the "War on Drugs," the first peacetime wage-and-price controls, and the "Nixon shock" on this nation, not to mention the rest of the ex officio high crimes and misdemeanors he perpetrated.

Hell, I remember that night in 1971 when he uttered those words which puzzled me so: "...and I'm closing the gold window" and then rushed away from the podium, refusing to take questions.

I didn't know what that meant, and my dad - educated in Keynes and Samuelson's line of bullpuckey - said something about Bretton Woods that made zero sense to me at that time.

You want something to really piss off somebody who really doesn't give a flying goddam about "the New Left" and the rest of that blart-and-bonkus unconventional lifestyle crap?

Screw with the money, that vital facilitator of exchange necessary to the function of a division-of-labor economy.

That kind of institutionalized theft of value by fraud - "official" counterfeiting - is so pervasively and thoroughly pernicious that were pederasty to become an honored custom and no Cub Scout or altar boy in the nation could be found who did not demonstrate funneling and wasting of the gluteal fat around the anal opening, it would be better for those children - and all the rest of us - than that the Federal Reserve System be allowed to continue its existence.


Ori Pomerantz said...

That movements get taken over by the crazies makes perfect sense. Most sane people have better things to do than politics. Once they were sure they and their loved ones won't be conscripted to fight in Vietnam, most of the 60s activists probably settled down to the real work of working and keeping the economy running - leaving the Marxists to take over a mostly empty shell.

BTW, what portion of the tea party is libertarian, and what portion is socially conservative?

Oppen said...

Most libertarians would prefer the government just butted out of people's private relationships. Gay marriage, polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, group marriage---as far as we're concerned, draw up a contract that everybody involved likes, and as far as we're concerned, you're good-to-go and the government can stay OUT. If you want a church to bless your union(s), find one that you're theologically compatible with and go for it.

Tucci said...

Anent libertarianism and the concept of civil rights - and with the foofraw over Rand Paul's remarks about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 borne proximally in mind - do the readers here go with the "progressive" extension of the civil rights concept to cover interactions among private citizens acting as such?

Prior to the "stretch" of the expression back in the '60s, civil rights pertained to the private citizen's interactions with the agents of civil government.

A mechanism whereby the special positive and negative rights of the citizen in his interactions with the officers of that agency in our society charged with a functional monopoly on the management of retaliatory lethal force.

Very damned important to keep that under control, no? Why, if it weren't for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, horrible things like Ruby Ridge (1992) and Waco (1993) might happen.

Oh. They did happen, didn't they?


When private citizens deal with other private citizens, we've got tort law and contract law and criminal law to cover the bases. Does civil rights law really bear on such things at all?

And, if so, how the hell can such be enforced?

Ram Singh Whatever takes over the Kwicky-Mart. I don't mind Sikhs, they don't seem to mind my custom - but there are people who don't like "rag-heads" of any kind, and do not choose to purchase from this particular merchant, nor to otherwise do business with him.

Now, if a government thug takes some kind of malignant attitude (or evinces a specially favorable disposition) toward Ram Singh Whatever on the basis of the guy's beard and haircut and the fact that he keeps a digital version of the Guru Granth Sahib on his PDA, we got problems.

But a private citizen violating Ram Singh's civil rights?

What the hell?

Mark Horning said...

Ori, the Tea Party is neither Libertarian, Republican, nor Democratic, they are a particular subset of Republicanism known as Fiscal Conservatives.

Their 10-point "Contract FROM America" is 100% fiscal plus a dash of Libertarian style "leave us alone" thrown in, no mention at all of the other social stuff Republicans often seem to like:

1. Protect the Constitution
2. Reject Cap & Trade
3. Demand a Balanced Budget
4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government
6. End Runaway Government Spending
7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care
8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy
9. Stop the Pork
10. Stop the Tax Hikes

Tucci's recollection of the Libertarian/Republican split is about right. Once it was apparent that the party (and Nixon) had abandoned the principles of Barry Goldwater, the "Goldwater Republicans" met in Colorado and started their own party.

Tot his day think tanks like "The Goldwater Institute" are identified as Libertarian, rather than Republican.

Tucci said...

In 1969, I was a farm boy incarcerated in a Roman Catholic parochial high school, and far from politically active, so I have had to rely on the accounts of people like Jerome Tuccille and Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3) for an appreciation of the events that fractured the libertarians from the traditionalists on America's political right at that time.

From this recapture site I draw the following excerpt:

"If the Libertarian Movement has a golden age, it ran from August 1969 through around August 1974. The SDS convention split several ways, purging the anarchists before the other delegates even arrived. The Young Americans for Freedom began purging racist and Randist chapters in July, and both sides, libertarians and traditionalists or 'trads,' engaged in 'papering' their chapters with members to maximize delegate strength in St. Louis for the National Convention over the Labor Day Weekend. Assisting the libertarians was the proximity of the World Science Fiction convention, also that weekend in St. Louis, and the number of Heinlein fans who would be attending and available to accept delegate status.

"The trads, already in power, succeeded in stripping most of the libertarian delegates of credentials, but about 200 hard-core libertarians retained delegate status and many who came as trad supporters (such as the founding editor of NEW LIBERTARIAN) switched to the Libertarian Caucus when they saw the repressive treatment of the authoritarian trads. Agitating additionally was the small Anarchist Caucus of RLA and the Student Libertarian Action Movement, or SLAM. The AC peaked at about 30 delegates, and could not get more than that for self-styled 'philosophic anarchist' Michael Ingallinera. Karl Hess led a rally under the famous St. Louis arch which was dispersed by the police.

"Dana Rohrabacher, the 'Johnny Grass-Seed' of the Libertarian Caucus, could not get more than 220 votes and was most popular of the pure libertarians. Harvey Hukari of Stanford, running independent of both the 'National Office' trad slate and the LC, did better but still could not win. James Farley, claiming to be a libertarian running on the NO slate, on the other hand, received the highest delegate vote total (around 500 out of 800). Samuel Edward Konkin III, a Wisconsin delegate, and his anarchist friend Tony Warnock (both rightly suspected of having been won over by Rohrabacher and Rothbard) found they had been replaced by alternates when they had gone for a late breakfast, even though they arrived back an hour or more before their state’s votes were to be declared.

- More -

Tucci said...

- Continued -

"The most spectacular moment at the St. Louis YAF convention of 1969 occurred when an AC member lit a xerox of his draft card in front of television cameras and was attacked by YAF trads football-style. Libertarians tried to form a line to protect him and the subsequent physical battle radicalized a lot of 'fusionist' libertarian-conservatives. Though some like Jared Lobdell tried to mollify libertarians with a strong anti-draft minority plank, and unopposed Chairman David Keene appealed to both sides for unity, the purges continued after the convention.

"That fall, the Libertarian Caucus and the Students for Rational Individualism merged into the Students for Individual Liberty, dually based in Pennsylvania and Maryland around Ernsberger/Walters and Wollstein/Childs. Rohrabacher and Steele, after their purge, formed the California Libertarian Alliance, and announced a huge convention in early 1970. Rothbard and Hess jumped the gun with a Left-Right Conference at the Hotel Diplomat in October 1969 (Columbus Day Weekend).

"The RLA conference did attract New Left individualists and former YAF anarchists, but the free-marketeers stayed to hear Rothbard and his Circle Bastiat brothers, Leonard Liggio and Joseph Peden, discuss economics and revisionist history, while Hess led a contingent to join the March on Fort Dix of New Leftists. When the latter returned pursued by FBI agents, the RLA collapsed and Rothbard swung right."

Sorry for the length of the quotation, but I think it's worthwhile. The cited Web site, after all, might not be around long. A lot of 'Net stuff associated with SEK3 has become directly inaccessible since his death.

I take the YAF split as a pathognomonic moment. The "trads" who engineered that takeover are, in fact, strongly representative of the senior neocons dominating the Republican faction of our big, bipartisan Boot-On-Your-Neck Party today.

Interesting, no?

- 30 -

Tucci said...

Mark Hornung had written:

"the Tea Party is neither Libertarian, Republican, nor Democratic, they are a particular subset of Republicanism known as Fiscal Conservatives."

...and then gone on to recapitulate the ten points of the Tea Party's "Contract FROM America."

But these are not Republican Party goals at all. Never have been. NEVER.

Look instead to the history of the Bourbon Democrats, which even Wiki-bloody-pedia characterizes as "classical liberal" in their political philosophy.

I submit that if the members of the Tea Party movement were historically literate (as the overwhelming majority of Americans are not), their choice for "favorite President" would be Grover Cleveland.

Ceteris paribus, he's mine. The best of a damned bad lot.

Ori Pomerantz said...

Mark Horning, thank you - that was pretty much my point. The Tea Party Movement is a coalition of Fiscal Conservatives. It is basically a one issue movement, existing to solve one issue, with the participation of people who don't want to do politics but believe they are compelled to by the current problems.

Fiscal Conservatives can be Libertarians or Social Conservatives. Both groups are represented in the Tea Party Movement. I was wondering what are the %-ages.

Mark Horning said...


When Goldwater was the candidate those basically WERE the goals of the GOP. Nixon pretty much abandoned all of them, and when we got Reagan some of them were certainly goals but never actually happened.

Once the Bushes (neoconservative/social conservative block) took over the party in 1988, yeah pretty much all of those goals were abandoned, though they occasionally paid lip-service to them to keep the fiscal side votes comming in.

Tucci said...

Regarding the ten elements of the Tea Party "Contract FROM America," Mark Horning writes:

"When Goldwater was the candidate those basically WERE the goals of the GOP. Nixon pretty much abandoned all of them, and when we got Reagan some of them were certainly goals but never actually happened."

On the bases of what I presently understand about American politics over the past half-century, the Goldwater coup (and I'd have to describe it as such) in 1964 did effectively nothing to change the "Rotarian socialist" nature of the Republican Party. Moreover, as events proved even from the first months of the Reagan Administration, the limited-government rule-of-law "goals" of which we're speaking were about as firmly rooted in real policy as Birnam Wood come to Dunsinane.

The usual and customary bait-and-switch routine.

Let me again provide a link to Clyde Wilson's bitter and perceptive "The Republican Charade: Lincoln and His Party" (12 September 2006).

The essence of Republican Party policy has always been the "American System" of Henry Clay, and descends directly from Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists. Clyde Wilson speaks of them - accurately - as America's "court party," and no matter what coloration they may take on at any given moment for the sake of expediency, this is what they always have been and (unless something akin to what happened to the Democratic Party in the period 1892-1904 happens to them) what they always will be.

Bush pere did not "take over" the Republican Party in 1988. He was the Republican Party - in that he was the perfect human instantiation of what the Republican Party has been since the "court party" abandoned the appellations of "Whig" and "Federalist" in the 19th Century.

Reagan was a wholly superficial deviation from that persona, a religious traditionalist / populist false face designed to gain voter appeal among the hard-hat and "gimme"-cap wearing types to whom the Republican Party has been trying to appeal ever since the reign of FDR.

Aw, hell. Let me give you one of my favorite Menckenisms:

"In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for. As for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican."

Leslie Fish said...

Nice historical detail there. As for what the local Tea Party is up to, I'll have a report when I come back from a planned rally. Stay tuned!

--Leslie <;)))>< )O(

Anonymous said...

Rand Paul was heard to say (though he seems to have retracted it later) something along the lines of "Why's that mean old government picking on poor little B.P.? Everyone has accidents!"

You once sang "... for there's never a dollar of all your wealth, but marks the workers dead...."

Every since Rand Paul came out with the statement above, and I see what you wrote in the blog post above, I've been having a horrible time trying to reconcile the two.

Incidentally, the BP boss is coming across as about as oily as Tony Blair was, meaning, as oily as the Gulf of Mexico. He wants his life back. So do those 11 workers, their widows, and orphans. My $0.02.

Tucci said...

I'm looking for an online citation to support the contention of idiotgrrl to add some precision to her condemnation of Rand Paul for supporting BP against Barry Soetoro's literal "boot on their neck" (Salazar) public excoriation of the private sector people who had been working the Deepwater rig.

What I've found reads more like:

"I think it's part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen."

See for an Associated Press piece on this guy's take on this subject (from The Philadelphia Inquirer, 22 May).

And we all know how the Associated Press is so vehemently anti-Washington, pro-libertarian, and stuff.

Those guys on North Broad Street in Philly? They've got such a reputation as paragons of the objective, pro-freedom, rights-defending Fourth Estate that their big "Delaware Valley paper of record" is wallowing in bankruptcy because the average folk in their area of distribution all worship our Beloved Leader and the oily water he claims to walk upon.

If nothing else but the government-suckup media is considered, in the fashion of "Wiki-bloody-pedia," to be reliable source material, I tend to take their attack journalism as a mark of their targets' political and moral virtues more than anything else.

Rand Paul - not an "eye doctor" but an ophthalmologist, an eye cutter, a surgeon - has a proximal understanding of how "accidents happen" whenever anybody attempts to do anything whatsoever. Absolute error-less, accident-less perfection doesn't happen in the real world.

Who better to understand that than a guy who cuts eyeballs for a living?

Well, maybe his dad, who delivers babies. I think only the neurosurgeons have to pay higher rates for their professional liability insurance than obstetricians do.

I do not rank Rand Paul as a "libertarian." From what I've read of the guy, he doesn't consider himself such. Note that in this AP attack piece, the writer is using "libertarian" as a pejorative.

What do you think about people who use the word "libertarian" to condemn a political candidate, hm?

Think they're supportive of individual rights and individual responsibility?

As for the corporate Pointy-Haired Boss dorks at the top of the BP command structure, what the hell do you expect to find running humongous government-sucking companies that batten upon exclusionary monopolies for which they rely upon purchasing or renting corrupt politicians?

"Like the government, corporations must be bound with the chains of the Constitution, and especially of the Bill of Rights."

- L. Neil Smith ( )