Sunday Open Thread: Understanding The Bitterness

Mark at Publius Endures throws some questions to that sub-set of Ron Paul supporters who have reacted to any sign of disagreement as a personal afront — something we’ve seen here in comment threads like this one, this one, and this one:

As I and a number of other libertarian bloggers who question Ron Paul on some things have found out, there seems to be a mentality that if you don’t support every word that Ron Paul says, you are inherently anti-liberty and anti-freedom. Isn’t this exactly the kind of “you’re either with us or you’re against us” mentality that libertarianism seeks to avoid, and that would usually be defined as “collectivism”?


How does launching into ad hominems against any person who criticizes a Ron Paul position help the Ron Paul campaign? Shouldn’t your goal be to gain their support or at least encourage them to continue giving Ron Paul free publicity?

If your goal is to silence Ron Paul’s critics, then isn’t that quite the opposite of freedom? If your goal is to persuade them, then how does name-calling and baseless accusations about motive make a persuasive case?

I’ve often wondered the same thing myself. So, tell me, what do you think ?

  • Jeff Molby

    1. You frequently make elementary fallacies that you refuse to acknowledge. In fact, you usually get even more ridiculous trying to defend them.
    2. You happily pound on the horse’s decaying corpse
    3. You nitpick very minor points that would make for an interesting academic discussion if it weren’t for the fact that it’s currently showtime and most people don’t understand what it’s like to have such a conversation. Such disagreements can and will be used against us.
    4. You frequently make elementary fallacies that you refuse to acknowledge. Curiously, this only seems to happen in your Paul threads. You know, like confusing the word “many” with “all”.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Quite honestly, what it really seems to boil down to is that you disagree with me, or with Kevin when he posted about Paul’s appearance on Alex Jones’ fantasy hour, and can’t accept the fact that someone else has a different opinion of your favorite candidate.

  • KipEsquire

    My criticisms of Paul seem to invite the other response: that I am “letting the perfect be the enemy of the good” or that I’m engaging in a “Rand-Branden” version of purging the impure.

    I don’t see it that way. I remain convinced that Paul is simply not a libertarian by any reasonable definition of the word, no matter how expansive or restrictive.

    Paul is an anti-federalist (some call it neo-confederalism). He is not in any way, shape or form “anti-government.” He is only “anti-Congress” (with some “anti-Federal-Reserve” added for flavor).

    That’s simply not libertarianism. Reasonable libertarians can disagree about whether Paul’s positions are dangerously “not libertarianism” or innocuously “not libertarianism” — or about how much better or worse his version of “not libertarianism” is, compared to the modern conservative and liberal versions of “not libertarianism.”

    But that’s as far as it goes.

  • N. Pannbacker

    I agree that Ron Paul isn’t very libertarian, but I’m not voting libertarian this year. I’m voting anti-federalist this year. I think that the libertarian movement will have an easier time moving politics in the right direction if it has to move cities and states, rather than telling libertarians they must carry the monolithic federal government on their backs in the long trudge to political change.

    Ron Paul’s positions are innocuously “not libertarian”. They’re beneficient to libertarianism. I disagree with those who allege that Ron Paul is becoming a cult of personality amongst libertarians. There is simply too much internecine disagreement for that to happen. The Liberty Papers are a strong example of this.

    Ron Paul is anti-government in the sense of being anti-establishment. He is not an anarchist. I may even grant he that he is not a minarchist, though it would take better evidence than I’ve seen in the post. (Note: He has stated that he thinks the states have the right to duplicate many federal functions. That isn’t equivalent to stating he approves of them doing so.) He is certainly anti-establishment though. There are many people who “want a change” and care more about shaking up a “stale” Washington than the hows and whys of it being shaken up.

  • Jeff Molby

    Quite honestly, what it really seems to boil down to is that you disagree with me

    Yes, Doug. That definitely explains your inability to distinguish between the words “many” and “all”. It also explains why you’ve posted on the exact same subject more than a half a dozen times without adding any new insight.

    I could tolerate #3, but #1 and #2 are pure intellectual dishonesty. Seeing as how we claim to be better than the partisan hacks, I think your dishonesty does a hell of a lot more to damage the movement than any contrived “coalition” between Paul & Co. and unsavory persons.

    Seriously, you still have not even acknowledged that you (and the authors you cited) distorted the word “many” into “all”. It’s right there for all to see. If you can make your point without the distortion, amend that damn post and do so. If you can’t, post a mea culpa.

    Honest disagreement, my ass.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Quite frankly, I don’t think the distinction between “many” and “all” is as signficant as you think it is.

    The suggestion that the Federal Government is primarily responsible for racism, which is what that statement said, is absurd once you look at the history of Jim Crow — that wasn’t the Feds, that was the Good Ol’ Boys down south.

  • Doug Mataconis

    I agree that Ron Paul isn’t very libertarian, but I’m not voting libertarian this year. I’m voting anti-federalist this year. I think that the libertarian movement will have an easier time moving politics in the right direction if it has to move cities and states, rather than telling libertarians they must carry the monolithic federal government on their backs in the long trudge to political change.

    As Kip notes, there is a huge difference between libetarianism and anti-federalism, especially once you recognize that state and local governments can and do violate individual rights on a far more regular basis than the Feds (can anyone say Kelo ?)

    The idea that putting more power in the hands of the states is going to somehow promote liberty ignores history.

  • Jeff Molby

    Quite frankly, I don’t think the distinction between “many” and “all” is as signficant as you think it is.

    The distinction between the words is clear to anyone who has taken even a couple English classes. I’m nowhere near conversant in Spanish, yet even I know “mucho” and “todo” are not the same.

    Like I said, if it isn’t consequential to your thesis, amend the post and make your point sans strawman.

  • Doug Mataconis


    It doesn’t change my thesis and I don’t amend posts to clarify what is essentially a semantic dispute inconsequential to the subject at hand.

  • Jeff Molby

    That’s a convenient way to perpetuate a strawman.

    I can understand a TV show that isn’t going to spend airtime for trivial corrections.
    I can understand a newspaper that isn’t going to use space for trivial corrections.

    This is the internet. You have no excuse and you know better. 60 seconds of clicking and typing and it would be corrected for all of posterity. For all the time you’ve spend stubbornly arguing with me, you could have done it many times over.

    Instead, you invent a cute little policy to defend and maintain a clear error. None of colleagues would take such a ridiculous position. That is why you’ve lost the respect of your readers.

  • Doug Mataconis


    I changed “only” to “primarily” but my thesis remains the same, ok ?

    Now, let’s get back to actually answering the questions I asked, which is why do some of Ron Paul’s take every criticism of their candidates personally ?

  • Jeff Molby

    I changed “only” to “primarily” but my thesis remains the same, ok ?

    Thank you. Now that I’ve read the rest of the post, there are a few things I think you’ve missed, but I’ll wait a few days until you bring it up again.

    why do some of Ron Paul’s take every criticism of their candidates personally ?

    That’s a broad brush. Highlight some recent examples and I can give you definite answers. Otherwise, it’ll be a meaninglessly vague conversation.

  • Megs

    why do some of Ron Paul’s take every criticism of their candidates personally?

    my answer:
    In my opinion the reason I’m so touchy about criticism about Ron Paul is because it happens to me all day. I use google’s function to find news stories about Ron Paul and most of them contain a few jabs to me the reader. So while I’m giving them page hits and possibly money from their advertisers they insult me. Wouldn’t that put you at a defensive?

    Then to add insult to injury they insult my candidate who is just the messenger. They don’t even want to talk about the message just his “crazy/mean supporters” and the “flake/no chance of winning candidate” I’m so disappointed with the major media and now even more so with the independent bloggers. It seems like I can’t go anywhere without being attacked well except the actual streets where people thank me for getting his name out there.

    Why the discrepancy? Why is it that when I go to gun shows/sign waives/work/grocery store I get pats on the backs and thank yous and go Ron Paul but then when I read/watch the news I get called a terrorist/stupid/tin foil wearing conspiracy nut? I have never been insulted like this in my entire life but I become involved in politics it happens to me everyday. I’m now way more sympathetic to the “fringe” and the conspiracy people. If this is what they had to put up with and stay peaceful for all these years then they must be saints.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Seeing your candidate get criticized on a regular basis is part of politics that most people get used to after awhile.

    If you think what people are saying about Ron Paul is bad, you should do some research and see what they said about Thomas Jefferson back in 1800.

    Things have gotten pretty tame over the past 200 years.

    As a man who I otherwise disagree with once said, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  • Megs

    “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

    You asked me why I was touchy I gave you a reason then you told me to get over it. Make up your mind. You disappoint me and now I know not to hit this button when it comes on the google search. Oh yeah, I’ll get out of the kitchen when it comes to this website.. now I’m leaving for the Dallas gun show where I’m going to smile, compliment people, and tell them about my candidate and they are going to say to me either Who? and what does he stand for? oh great job for spreading the message I’m on board!

  • Doug Mataconis


    That’s a broad brush. Highlight some recent examples and I can give you definite answers. Otherwise, it’ll be a meaninglessly vague conversation.

    Quite honestly, you only need to take a few minutes looking over the comment threads to the posts I linked to, or others on other blogs, to see what I mean.

  • Doug Mataconis


    The “kitchen” that I was referring to is American politics — which has been a rough-and-tumble world for more than 200 years.

    If you can’t accept a little criticism from a few bloggers about your candidate, then how in the world is this movement going to handle itself in the real world ?

  • Doug Mataconis


    I guess what I’m trying to say is this —- not everyone who doesn’t agree with you is evil.

  • Scott From Oregon

    I think what you are seeing is a backlash- “blowback” if you will- of the Ron Paul camapign not getting a fair shake in the press, in the debates, and in the after debate conversations.

    I will vote for Ron Paul this election as a lean over the fence liberal. My reasons are simple. I want no more “Deciders” having that much control and authority ever again.

    And as a non-passionate supporter, I too, have been aghast at the amount of downright dishonest reporting and criticism placed in the path of his campaign.

    It makes even a mellow guy like me angry.

    So, understandably, if you are critical of any or all of his views, you too, may encounter that anger from those who percieve attacks on his campaign as unjust and unbalanced.

  • Brad Warbiany


    The internet is full of people offering biased or poorly-constructed arguments. If you think it’s just the way that Doug presents it, why would other topics not do the same? After all, it’s only posts critical of Ron Paul that seem to consistently generate 80+ comments here. I think there is something particular to Ron Paul supporters that leads to the sort of behavior Doug is discussing. I don’t particularly understand it, but then again, while I plan to vote for Ron Paul, I don’t have time to go googling his name and blasting bloggers I’ve never heard of (which BTW is not what you do, but I’m sure you’ve seen the numerous “drive-by” comments we get here) as a result.


    When you google Ron Paul, are you expecting to only get pro-Paul messages? It seems that you’re actively searching for anyone talking about Paul, and then get personally insulted when someone says something about him you don’t like? If you know that the internet is just full of people criticizing Ron Paul, why do you keep clicking on these google searches?

    If you object to the things we’ve said about Paul, you should see some of the things we’ve said about Giuliani. Yet we don’t have Giuliani supporters coming here through Google (with the exception of one unhinged guy who thinks Giuliani is a libertarian) and filling up comment threads.

  • Akston

    The Ron Paul campaign taps into deeply held beliefs and principles. America was born amid discussion of these same issues. The current abuses of concentrated power have unearthed them again. In this climate, every argument perceived to be in support of those tyrannies will likely be met by highly emotional rebuttal. This is compounded by the composition of the most prominent demographic of this “revolutionary” movement: Young Voters. By their very nature, young voters are both enthusiastic and sympathetic to a message of freedom.

    A large and growing number of oppressed and dissenting voters are seeking government which better represents the liberties which founded this country. While not a purist Libertarian, Ron Paul’s constitutional platform plants a flag in the political terrain so opposed to the current abuses that many disparate groups and interests rally to it.

    When these disparate groups spontaneously form coalitions to support what can be their only common ground: liberty, clashes are inevitable. Whether the clash is between unseasoned enthusiasts exchanging personal epithets, or seasoned critics parsing doctrinal schisms, it can be very difficult for each faction to accept the beliefs of other factions when the topic strays from the common core of liberty.

    The debate over which factions should be allowed to contribute is a good example. One faction espouses intolerance of many groups outside themselves, but supports liberty (and therefore Paul’s platform) probably in the hope that liberty can free them from what they see as an oppressive government. An opposing faction ironically espouses intolerance of the first faction because of its intolerance. Both factions, given the opportunity, would happily exclude the voice of the other even though the common goal is ostensibly liberty.

    This is a primary challenge for any movement towards liberty. Forming a coalition of all those voices is inherently constraining, at least in terms of supporting the core goal. Constraints are not borne well by those selfsame libertarian advocates. In order for liberty to prevail, its supporters must keep their eye on the common goal of liberty, not on fringes that divide the coalition.

    As to methods, bear in mind that different tools are for different jobs.

    Fear works well in emergencies, but fades quickly. In order to use fear for extended periods, one must continuously focus on the threat. Even then, cumulative fatigue will work against the method. But it’s easy to understand how to use it and respond to it. Ridicule, anger, and ad hominem attacks – when actually used to attempt persuasion – are aspects of the fear method. The attempt is usually to invoke a fear of disagreeing with the presenter, i.e. intimidation. All of these methods are as short-termed as direct fear, and ineffective in the long term.

    Desire works over a much longer span, but is much harder to establish from outside the individual in question. To use desire, you have to know what the other person might want, and offer that. Pick the right topic, and the person may find motivation for a lifetime.

    Liberty can be such a topic.

  • Darel99


    So your defending your postion now? I think you have not connected with the readers of Liberty Papers at all. Instead most every article you have presented to the supports of Ron Paul has been supported by an 8:1 odds that eight out of ten times you have a negative view of Paul’s future.

    In fact you will offer issues which don’t matter at all such as Alex Jones. Alex, seems to be a wonderful American who has the right to quetion any topic he desire just as we all do.

    As far as Alex Jones if It wasn’t for Alex Jones I would have not became so active with political posiitons, built a web site that was and still is ranked in the top 5,000 ranks at Alexa, I would not have exposed my local city for increased taxes when they had another set of books with tons of cash.

    Alex, has top gov officals on his show and many wonderful guests who support Liberty. I have heard federal judges, gov and a whole host of topics. I do question the offical 9-11 story and still don’t understand many of the facts they want to represent as truth. If you begin to study 9-11 there are many questions with an answer. It’s confirmed Dick offered stand down orders on 9-11 which does not make since at all. If you fail to question the story then you have failed your own test of what it means to be an American.

    Why brand a small section of Paul supporters as nuets or wackos? the fact is those you deem as such most often have the facts whereas you lack an understanding of the details. Most of the time when someone is labled this way or that way it’s the person offering such labels are the very people that can’t defend his or her position and judging by the posts you offer I dare say you lack the background to determine the facts.

  • GeneG

    I’ve often wondered the same thing myself. So, tell me, what do you think ?

    Victimology 101

  • FSK

    There are people on the Ron Paul Forums who are there with an agenda of disrupting discussion, rather than being sincere contributors. These people are either representing other candidates, fools, or people being paid to spread misinformation.

    Whenever I see someone on the Ron Paul Forums aggressively defending the Federal Reserve, defending the IRS, or trashing the gold standard, they usually exhibit troll-like qualities.

  • Mark

    I am fascinated to hear people say that a former candidate for president of the United States for the Libertarian party is not, in fact, a Libertarian.

    Libertarianism, like all other political philosophies, supports a number of camps of different extremes, including limited-government minarchists, all the way to no-government anarcho-capitalists (or ‘freemarketeers’).

    At any rate, it seems a rather academic point – he is the most pro-freedom candidate we have seen in a long time and that’s good enough for me. Call him what you want.

  • Max

    Doug you still refuse to say who your voting for? Why?

    All you do is attack Ron Paul all day long on non issues, supposed racisism, alex jones it goes on and on, frankley you make me sick, this blog should be called the status quo papers.

    Doug your not going to get anymore “Liberty” by voting for McCain,Giuliani,Romney or any of the others correct me if im wrong

    Name one thing that George Dubya Bush and this corrupt establishment have done since Sept 11 to protect this country? Secure the borders? Nope

    Attack a country that never attacked us? Check

    can you even name one thing?

  • Doug Mataconis


    Who said I’m voting for McCain, Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, Tancredo, Hunter, Clinton, Obama, Edwards, or anyone else ?

    I’ve said before countless times — if Ron Paul is still in the race by the time Virginia’s primary comes around, I’ll vote for him.

    Come November, since I doubt he will be the nominee, I will either leave the Presidential ballot line blank or vote for the Libertarian Party candidate.

  • Doug Mataconis


    And you bet I will attack Alex Jones, Stromfront, David Duke or anyone else like them.

    They aren’t libertarians and they are doing more to hurt Ron Paul’s campaign than anything I say.

  • Max

    Who you voting for Doug?

  • Max

    Oh I see, LOL trying to have your cake and eat it too

  • Max

    Doug should we attack Iran?

    Whats your position on preemptive war?

  • Doug Mataconis


    I can’t say I understand what you’re talking about.

    For one thing, who I’m voting for is really nobody’s business but my own. I gave you an answer, and that’s all you’re getting on that subject.

    Second, even if I vote for a candidate that doesn’t mean that they are immune from criticism.

    Nobody’s perfect. Not even Ron Paul.

  • Doug Mataconis


    I’m not playing a game of 20 questions with you. If you want to know what I think, read what I’ve written.

  • Max

    And Doug are you equating Alex Jones with racists? And why? I don’t agree with everything Alex Jones says, but he’s no racist.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Alex Jones isn’t a racist, he’s just a whacko.

  • Max

    “Nobody’s perfect. Not even Ron Paul”

    Compared to the rest of the establishment hacks


  • Max

    “whacko” I think he makes valid points

    Especially with all the think tanks and secret society’s who run policy in this country?

    Like the CFR, Bilderberg, Skull And Bones, Bohemian Grove the list goes on and on, do you think its ok for government officials, corporate chieftains to meet in secret?

  • Doug Mataconis


    Even Mother Teresa isn’t immune from criticism.

    Is this the way it would be if Paul wins the election ? Anyone who criticizes him gets denounced ?

    That’s not exactly the model of a free society.

    And frankly I don’t care about whatever tales you may spin about the Bilderbergers or anyone else. It all strikes me as nonsense and I tend to think less of anyone who believes in nonsense.

  • Max

    ROFL, the US and European Elite meeting behind closed doors in the dark making policy isn’t a big deal? For Sure

    If you wanna criticize one of his positions go for it? But if your gonna criticize citizens giving him money weather there racist or not it doesn’t matter they can donate to who ever they want, he doesn’t have to agree with them.And he can go on what ever radio show he want’s and he doesn’t have to agree with everything Alex Jones says, this isn’t about alex jones its about Ron Paul

  • Max

    Doug are you even familiar with the Anglo American Establishment? The Military Industrial Complex?

    These are the people who run the US and Europe.

  • Mark W.


    Anyone who supports another human being 100% without question is called a “parent”. If you are not a parent supporting your child, then you had better damn well question EVERYTHING said and done by another person. I am a Ron Paul supporter, and there is much about what he says that I don’t agree with. But there is MUCH MUCH more that I don’t agree with regarding his supporters. I’m not a truther (steel doesn’t have to melt to be structurally compromised), I’m not an Alex Jones man (though he talked about the Real ID before anyone…and was called a kook).

    I am an American with a Brain (which, unfortunately, is in short supply these days). Ron Paul is about the message of liberty…all liberty. The liberty for me to stand up, state my case, and be found to be a total moron, if such is the case.

    I will not engage in ad hominem attacks, I will only point out the …inconsistencies… of the other candidates (and their supporters). Discussion is the keystone of our REPRESENTATIVE REPUBLIC (*cough*). Jeff brings up some good points…It does NOT HELP OUR CAUSE if well-meaning, but over-zealous people react to “the Non-Paul campaign” with bitterness, anger, profanity, personal attacks, and outright ugliness.

    Ron Paul, the Gentleman from Texas, should be your example, and WE, his supporters, should behave like adult, intelligent people. Fight, but fight the GOOD fight. Be honorable, be informed, and be WINNERS. Good sports and all…don’t embarass Dr. Paul.

  • Mark W.

    err…Doug, not Jeff. Sorry.

    Oh, and for you Texans…Michael Badnarik for Senate, ’08. Let’s talk him into it.

  • Kevin Houston

    Please allow me to explain it to you Doug.

    If you look at the anti-Paul blogs with an open mind, they break down into 2 basic kinds:

    1) Honest disagreement with Paul’s positions. these people (usually Left-liberals) like social security, the Federal reserve, medicare, etc. (although, to be fair, there are some neocons who are pro-war, pro-big government as well) The pro-Paul comments are the usual re-hash of Liberal Vs Conservative (or Libertarian Vs Neocon) debate, and for the most part are reasoned, civil, and polite albeit few in number.

    Then there is the other kind….

    2) Smear and/or hit pieces that revolve around:
    a) Who is donating to the Ron Paul campaign or which radio show he is appearing on and what scumbags they are (and therefore so is Dr. Paul)
    b) What Paul did or didn’t write in a newsletter 15 years ago, and is he a closet racist or a closet anti-semite because he wants to stop giving aid to Israel.
    c) Some vote of Rep. Paul’s that seems at odds with his stated philosophy based solely on the title of the bill (but which, upon closer inspection really is a corporate welfare bill or regulates things the feds have no business regulating – Net neutrality bill comes to mind as prime example – but earmark issue falls in here too.)
    d) Are (gross or subtle) distortions of his campaign issues such as calling him an isolationist, saying he blamed America for 9/11, saying he wants to abolish the Federal reserve and put America back on the gold standard, saying he wants to end Social Security and kick the old people into the street, saying he wants to criminalize abortion nationwide, or saying he favors selling meth and crack to five-year old sex-workers.

    It is the second kind of blog article that attracts the nasty responses and I for one don’t blame them.

    Here is what I am talking about:

    from your first example:

    running less of a “libertarian” campaign than a pacifist, … appeal to the old paranoid, and racist pseudo-conservatives.

    ally with 9/11 and various other conspiracy theorists, southern secessionists, Nazis and fascists, anti-Semites and racists

    Second example:

    The Ron Paul campaign has unfortunately become a gathering place for 9/11 “Truther” morons, racists, neo-Nazis, Southern secessionists, fascists, conspiracy theorists, wannabe authoritarians, Birchers, and nativists that I do not want to be associated with. Worst of all, the candidate himself knows about these err….outside of the mainstream supporters and he refuses to publically repudiate them and refund the donations from the most high profile ones.

    (the “wannabe authoritarians” clause is laughable on it’s face. the rest of it makes sound as if ONLY these low-life people hang out with Ron Paul.)

    your third example:

    And that’s why anyone who considers themselves a libertarian or classical liberal should have nothing to do with Stormfront, David Duke, or anyone of their ilk.

    Each of these is an ad-hominem attack of the guilt-by-association variety (although the third one is more subtle, and is dressed up like a reasonably constructive criticism but the final paragraph makes it clear that the author is trying to put forth the meme that Ron Paul is associating with Nazis instead of the truth – which is that the Nazis are associating with him.)

    The neocon anti-Paul brigade is following the general template of: write something insulting and / or untrue about Ron Paul and then complain that Paul’s supporters descend in droves to call you names and “see how nasty and ill-tempered they are? Why, who could support a man with such people as these supporting him?” when, in fact, the author never really was a supporter of Dr. Paul’s (Redstate for example) and is nothing more than a shill (paid or volunteer – makes no difference) for some other candidate.

    Our goal is not to persuade, but to refute and discourage. These authors would never vote for Ron Paul in the first place, so who cares if we are turning them off.

  • Ben Kuipers

    My disagreement with you Doug is that you cannot substantively answer any of my objections in a consistent manner. I respect other’s views if they are arrived at through logical thought processes, and are defended rationally and logically. Your attacks on Congressman Paul though I find lacking these fundamental rational foundations.

    I certainly don’t take your criticism personally, I’m an attorney and a historian, and I happen to be blessed with abundant original historical sources at every-hand. I do however, dislike when individuals who clearly do not uphold the principles of some of our founders, in this case specifically, Patrick Henry, masquerade as classical liberals and American patriots when in fact they reject a great deal of the American classical liberal tradition.

    You are well aware of the realities of political campaigning…or you should be, and to consistently harp on things, including support from neo-nazis and that unsavory ilk, when you are well aware of the impossible task it would be to eliminate such “latching-on” demonstrates to me your desire to nit-pick.

    You may respond that you are attempting to preserve some pure ideological strain of what you in your wisdom perceive as true “classical liberalism”… the true inheritance of the founders, when you condemn Congressman Paul (which you do in a magnificently serendipitous manner) for supposed alliance with elements of society with a non-individual liberty political focus.

    You quote Bastiat, Jefferson, Madison, Henry, and a great many others in your blog title, and I appreciate those quotes… they keep me coming back here daily to read your posts and consider them, but I cannot but think that you are disingenuous with your treatment of Congressman Paul. You are doubtlessly aware of his consistency over the years. He an I were associated at the Foundation for Economic Education in New York, and with other Classical Liberal institutions for decades. You write that by accepting donations from anyone who wishes to donate, “than [you] have to question his conscience for aligning with these people at best and question his ability to lead at worst.”

    You know better sir. You know well that he does not refuse anyone’s support, yet neither does he make himself beholden to donors’ causes. He stands on his principles come what may, resoundingly grounded on Henry Clay’s old quip, “I’d rather be right than President.”

    You doubtlessly disagree with Jefferson and Madison in the election of 1800, being vehemently opposed to the principles of ’98 on which they ran. Perhaps this explains your inability to resist latching onto the most unsavory supporters when characterizing the entire movement.

    The Birchers, the conspiracy theorists, even some of the hordes of racists you find under every-bed whenever you write… want to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. Why is it not appropriate to make league with those who will advance the freedom agenda? When the battles are returned to the States with the reversal of horrendous nationalizing Supreme Court decisions like Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board, the coalition will be naturally split at a local level. It is at that level that your discussions have merit, not in this maelstrom.

    Yet, I see in your writings a powerful “nationalist” sentiment… completely unrelated to Classical Liberalism. It appears to me rooted in the belief that the federal government is somehow less dangerous to individual liberty than State governments… something completely un-born-out by history.

    In essence Doug, I see you as a sometime snake-in-the-grass, an occasionally consistent poseur who mouths the freedom platform whenever it is uncontroversial (gun-rights, economy, welfare-state)… but who becomes absolutely craven when it comes to taking a principled stand for the most consistent Classical Liberal candidate for President since Grover Cleveland or Martin Van Buren.


  • Max

    Doug,Understanding The Bitterness

    Thats the title of this open thread, why is there so much bitterness, maby its because since 9/11 the day that change the world and what turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to the powers that be in this country, it gave them a black check,a get out of jail free card. And what have they done since 9/11?

    Passed Patriot Act, Real ID, Military Commissions Act(many more),preemptively attacked another country that never attacked us(most of the 9/11 hijackers where from Saudi Arabia)and are about to attack another(Iran), left our borders wide open even after 9/11, turning our country into a police state, putting surveillance cameras in public places watching the population like its fucking 1984 the list goes on and on doug and you wonder why people are pissed off and why Ron Paul just raised almost four and a half million dollars, its really not that hard to understand doug, people are pissed off and they want change whats so hard to understand about that

  • Paul

    I will agree that the average Ron Paul supporter needs to read “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

    On one Ron Paul forum, I started a thread saying that we should say something nice about each other GOP candidate, just as, you know, a reality check. And I ended up getting called a Giuliani supporter.

    One thing to consider:

    We don’t have the establishment behind us, or an army of PR consultants. The MSM’s dark horse darling is Mike Huckabee, a candidate who’s raised about a 1/5 that we have raised. Cute. I’m not condoning jackass Ron Paul supporters, but when you have a grassroots campaign, it’s inevitable that there will be a hell of a lot of people with no PR or Marketing skills. If Fred, or Rudy actually had that lofty thing known as genuine grassroots support instead of a few maxed out donors, I really don’t think they’d be the most diplomatic people either.

    Second, the collectivization that counts for bashing Ron Paul is downright *scary*. We’re just a bunch of spammer-pothead-conspiracy theorists and so forth. When people so easily resort to this kind of collectivization, it’s so unnerving that I don’t care how many times an angry Ron Paul supporter wrote “Fuck you, Neocon!” in an e-mail to someone.

    Lastly, yes, many Ron Paul supporters are guilty of “If you’re not with us, you’re against liberty!”. Quite annoying.

    But really… there’s still some truth to that ridiculous with/against us fallacy. Between getting rid of the income tax, ending the drug war, getting out of social security, and so on. I’m not saying this is a good thing, or a bad thing, but never the less, an individual will be a lot more empowered under a Paul administration.

  • Amir

    Hey Doug and others,

    The bias that supports smear tactics is obvious and you are often guilty of it on this site too.

    I have been working on a memetic analysis of this campaign on and the internet response. I am a party-line Libertarian with socially liberal Jewish ethics and view Ron Paul as a compromise. For the most part, I jive with the sentiment of the Liberty Papers, but I think you fall into many of the same logical traps that anti-RP types perpetuate.

    Ron Paul’s supporters lash out against stereotype accusations, guilt-by-assocation, logical fallacies, the “echo-chamber effect” and promotion of active ignorance–like people who would say “don’t google ron paul.” A lot of what I have read on Liberty Papers suffers from these same collectivist marginalization techniques.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the most virulent of the anti-RP types are posing as support to debunk him. Consider which was apparently set up by Paul supporters or any of the like blogs which perpetuate virulently stupid stereotypes about Paul’s support. I’ve been called a neo-Nazi, anti-semite when I’m an Israeli Jew and my family survived the Holocaust. I’ve been called illogical when I have a 3 degrees in Math and CS: it’s almost funny to be called illogical by people who probably haven’t studied logic. These sorts of things aren’t just hurtful, their stupid and damaging to a campaign that doesn’t deserve it.

    Anyway, you seem like reasonable people here. In general, I’ve found that Ron Paul’s supporters are not nearly as bored or mean as his detractors.

  • Max

    The only reason I vent my anger at you doug is because sometimes you sound like the assholes at redstate,Hot Air, and the many other scum bag neo con blogs that are out there, you try to sound like a patriot but I highly question that

  • Greg

    I like you Doug. Of all the Ron Paul skeptics, you atleast have the decency to argue against his positions or least point out when you’re differentiating between criticizing the man and criticizing the strategy to get him elected. People that compare you to redstate I feel haven’t compared the two enough. Thank you for your respectful criticism (atleast 90%) of the time and I will continue read your insights on thelibertypapers.

  • Max
  • Max

    Im gonna have to disagree with the 90% more like 60%

    If your a Ron Paul supporter which I dont think you are, I never see you disagree with the issues(I could be wrong), only the racism, alex jones etc things that have absolutely noting to do with ron paul or his position on extremely important issues we face

  • Kevin


    I clicked the link and I didn’t detect any smear. A brothel owner publically supporting a presidential candidate is always going to be a human interest story. The article points out that the brothel is in Nevada and prostitution is legal in Nevada.

  • Max

    “GOP presidential candidate Paul endorsed by Nevada brothel owner”

    Please dude there trying to equate Ron Paul with seedy people like this, its just like the Storm front thing, if ron paul’s supporters are racist and pimps then he must endorse those things.

  • Doug Mataconis


    There are some issues that I disagree with Ron Paul on.

    I think he’s wrong when he votes against things like NAFTA — yes, its not perfect but its the closest thing to free trade we’re likely to see under current circumstances. As the Club for Growth pointed out, in areas like this Cong. Paul lets the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    I think he’s wrong on immigration.

    Though I think it is a correct Constitutional position, I disagree with his emphasis on Federalism as a cure-all. As I’ve noted in other posts, state and local governments are as great a threat to liberty as the Feds are — handing them more power over my life is the last thing I want to see happen.

    I’ve also noted criticism of some of his positions on foreign policy, though I think he’s closer to being right than the other Republican candidates for President.

    I’ve written posts here about each of these issues and where I think Paul is wrong. And each time, there’s an element of supporters who come out of the woodwork to attack me (and other Contributors here) personally rather than bothering to debate the issues.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Your lengthy comment raises issues that deserve a serious response that I don’t have time to get into now. I will get back to them though.


  • Doug Mataconis


    I’ve got to agree with Kevin about the brothel article.

    What’s the big deal ? I could point you to worse stuff that’s been written about other candidates in this and other elections.

    As I said to Megs earlier today, part of the rough-and-tumble of politics is that people are going to say things about the candidate you support. Sometimes, you’ve just got to be able to take it with a sense of humor — which seems to be lacking among some Paul supporters that have made their way here.

  • Mark

    Doug- thanks for the link and the quote. I do wish that some of these folks would direct their anger at me more than you, since it’s mostly my comments they’re angry about. Still, I appreciate your valiant defense against all comers.

    To the commenter who claimed that all she sees is negative attacks on Paul, I have this to say:
    I have posted dozens of times in defense of Paul, yet have received perhaps five or six comments total to those posts, and relatively little traffic.

    Meanwhile, the posts I have made that have been critical of Paul in any way whatsoever have resulted in dozens of comments, including all sorts of ad hominems calling me “a smear on libertarianism,” an “idiot,” and many more.

    So when you say that the coverage of Paul is almost entirely negative, I would suggest that is because you and/or other Paul supporters are mostly seeking out negative coverage of Paul. Playing the role of victim is I suppose a terrific motivating factor; unfortunately, it is also antithetical to libertarian self-reliance.

    Also worth pointing out- Paul’s support is still only in the 5-10% range nationally. Moreover, in places like NH, his negatives are through the roof (largely because of his affiliation with hyperaggressive supporters with somewhat scary belief systems). When you have a candidate with negatives over 50%, it should hardly come as a surprise if more than 50% of the coverage is negative. This doesn’t mean the coverage is biased, or at least not any more biased than the average American voter.

    I also might point something else out: the concept of “unbiased coverage” is a fallacy. Humans are largely incapable of escaping their own biases, whether they think they are or not. Complaining about those biases is thus futile; trying to rationally explain to people why you think their biases are wrong, however, is not. If Paul supporters would more often engage in the latter rather than the former, they’d be much more respected in the blogosphere.

  • Mark

    On the brothel article- I don’t detect any smear whatsoever. An endorsement by a brothel owner, for someone running on a libertarian-ish platform, is not something to be ashamed of, and may even be something worthy of being proud of. An endoresement by people like Alex Jones and Stormfront, who are the antithesis of libertarianism, is however not something to be proud of. It’s frankly even something to be embarrassed by.

    As a libertarian, if I were to ever run for office, I’d be quite accepting, even proud, of the Bunny Ranch dude’s endorsement. I would not be proud or accepting of Stormfront/Alex Jone’s endorsement, though.

  • Max

    It wasn’t the worst thats for sure, still a petty attempt to bring down paul.

    Doug ill debate NAFTA,immigration in a min but there’s two subjects that is first and foremost and this is to anyone reading this



  • Doug Mataconis


    1. It depends on how you define pre-emptive war. If you mean something like what happened in Iraq, then the answer is no.

    If you are asking me if I think there are ever times when it would be acceptable for the United States to strike first against an enemy before they attack us, then we’re engaged in a different debate.

    2. No.

  • Doug Mataconis


    I think your reaction to the brothel article is an example of the hypersensitivity that some Paul supporters seem to have.

    Were I a politician, I’d rather be endorsed by the Bunny Ranch than Alex Jones.

  • bgodley

    Doug’s point is that he should have the right to question Ron Paul. Guess what? The first amendment says he can.

    Does it mean his views are correct? Not necessarily. No he could be utterly, convincingly, soundly and all the other lys wrong but allowing him to communicate should be a cherished virtue.

    However, Doug should also be willing to admit that with the distrust over govt., the prospect of dismal economic times, the chopping of civil liberties like no other in times past, there will be a very very fervent call to turn the tide. That call may overstep the boundaries here and there and all sorts of manners may get abused but this in no way should blur the intent of the majority who are spending hours making signs, standing in the rain, blogging etc trying to push the issues.

    In the days when the country was founded you had individuals like Patrick Henry yelling emotionally stirring statements like “Give me liberty or give me death”. Why should such statements be considered so out of step in modern times? Are we so desensitized, dumb downed, drugged out that we are forgetting that we are not just debating a political race but are earnestly in campaign to win the hearts and minds of men? Maybe we don’t throw our bodies in front of police vehicles or take some other similar passionate action but don’t the desires spring from the same well?

    Do I agree with every position of Ron Paul? No.
    However, I think it would be wise to remember when questioning Paul supporters about their own inabiity to critically inspect the candidate that when a train is headed for a collision you may forget to mind your ps and qs while yelling at the engineer to pull the f’ing brake.

  • Max

    “If you mean something like what happened in Iraq, then the answer is no” Ya along those lines, do you think we should attack iran if they haven’t attacked us?

    “If you are asking me if I think there are ever times when it would be acceptable for the United States to strike first against an enemy before they attack us, then we’re engaged in a different debate.” The only way I would be in favor of attacking another country before they attacked us is if there navy, airfoce and army was on the way here if you think there’s another plausible scenario where we would have to attack first let me hear it

    “your reaction to the brothel article is an example of the hypersensitivity that some Paul supporters seem to have” If ya spout non sense like calling him an isolationist, anti semit/racist, etc im gonna call you out(not accusing you), stick to the issues not what a couple ron paul supporters do in there personal life, that is not the issue.

    “I’d rather be endorsed by the Bunny Ranch than Alex Jones” You seem the have an obsession with Alex Jones what gives?

  • Doug Mataconis


    Do you believe that America has national interests that extend beyond its borders ? Or that a nation can be a threat without its navy actually setting sail for San Francisco ?

    I’m not obsessed with Alex Jones, I just happen to think he’s a nutbar who likes to make money spinning conspiracy theories for the tin-foil hat crowd. Someone who wants to be taken seriously as a Presidential candidate shouldn’t bid him the time of day.

  • Kevin


    Are we so desensitized, dumb downed, drugged out that we are forgetting that we are not just debating a political race but are earnestly in campaign to win the hearts and minds of men?

    That’s the thing, at the end of the day; you are just debating a political race.

    What many Ron Paul supporters don’t understand is that the country is not going to be destroyed if Ron Paul is not elected president. The country has survived worst things than the political defeat of one man.

  • Brad

    This is such a useless canard that for some reason always gets trotted out everytime an argument between two sides that really believe they’re in the right breaks out.

    Doug’s point is that he should have the right to question Ron Paul. Guess what? The first amendment says he can.

    Who the hell here is “oppressing” Doug, Mark, or anybody else? They’re being argued against. Sometimes vehemently, sometimes, no doubt, in ways that “hurt their feelings”, sometimes in a genuinely distasteful and rude manner—though of course they choose to focus on that far more than the vast majority of comments I’ve seen in these threads, which are certainly vehement and in opposition but are perfectly reasonable, rational, even civil—but then again if 500 bucks from a neo-nazi is more important than 10 million from liberty-supporting enthusiasts, we ought to focus on the scandal of the former rather than the huge surge of positivity to the latter, so I guess I can see what their inclination is.

    In any event, it’s certainly nowhere close to a First Amendment issue. Please. When anybody here starts suggesting that Mark, Doug, or whoever else should be legally prevented from making a case against Ron Paul, then you can start bringing the First Amendment into it. Until then…stop. Just stop.

    Hell, Mark takes it a step further, and suggests that arguing with him in a fashion he finds disagreeable amounts to a violation of the libertarian maxim because it constitutes a use of force, an assertion which is so on-the-face-of-it forehead-smacking ridiculous that it’s hard to take the utterer of that kind of thing very seriously when he deigns to lecture the rest of us on “libertarian principles”.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Its not a First Amendment issue. Its an issue about people who seem to be developing a cult of personality around one man, whether he wants it or not.

    I said it earlier today and it still rings true… person is immune from criticism, not even Ron Paul. And yet, everytime that I or anyone else here (or Mark or any other number of libertarian-oriented bloggers I could name) has criticized the campaign or dared to disagree with the candidate…….

    They are subjected not so much to debate as to vitriol. It’s stupid, and it needs to stop.

  • Mark

    “What many Ron Paul supporters don’t understand is that the country is not going to be destroyed if Ron Paul is not elected president. The country has survived worst things than the political defeat of one man.”

    What you don’t understand is that many of us see the country as headed down a self-destructive path (self-destructive in the sense that we are destroying so much that helped make this country special). Ron Paul’s defeat would not mean immediate destruction, of course, just the loss of one of the best opportunities around to change this course.

  • Mark

    Brad- you need to get off this 500 dollar Stormfront donation thing: it’s just one of many reasons why some of us have a problem with the way the Paul campaign is being run. Hell, I’ve even said that I personally have no problem with him keeping that donation.

    Moreover, your straw man about my no force or fraud point is disingenuous to say the least. My argument was that trying to obtain someone’s mind by other than reason amounts to a violation of the libertarian force or fraud maxim. Arguments from emotion, arguments that contain implied (if unenforceable) threats, and arguments that resort to name-calling are most certainly fraudulent, and arguably forcible.

    And make no mistake about it- silencing criticism of Ron Paul, no matter how mild, is precisely the goal of these actions. As I said above- I have made numerous posts over the last few months defending Ron Paul on various topics and from various attacks that I believed were unfair/inaccurate. Rarely, if ever, did I get much traffic on those posts, much less comments. But on the handful of occasions where I have posted something agreeing with a criticism of Paul, or making a criticism of my own, my traffic has doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. While I certainly welcome the traffic, I find it interesting that on those posts I suddenly wind up getting plenty of comments, almost all of them negative and a sizable portion of them containing ad hominems. And my site is tiny! At larger sites, the problem is far, far worse since they are more visible to “trolls” whereas a disproportionate number of my readers (thankfully) are fellow bloggers who understand the consequences of launching ad hominems.

  • Mark

    Weird- another Mark posted at exactly the same time as me, but in a pro-panic button argument. Just wanted to clarify that one is not me.

  • Kevin

    Ron Paul’s defeat would not mean immediate destruction, of course, just the loss of one of the best opportunities around to change this course.

    There are just as good opportunities in 2012, 2016, etc.

  • Brad

    I don’t disagree with that, and I’ve certainly criticized aspects of the campaign where I see fit. However, just because “nobody is immune to criticism” is true does not make any criticism automatically valid.

    I don’t even think your criticism, or at least the base of your criticism, on the neo-nazi/anti-semite/truther thing is invalid—I would like the rapid response of the Paul campaign on these things to be better. I think they’re not running a Perfect Campaign and probably never will. So it goes. But really, that’s more a quibble on my part with how the campaign is organized and how effective one can reasonably expect them to be. These guys aren’t pros. Frankly, there ARE no pros in running an effective national campaign on a liberty agenda, at least none that’s managed anything over >1% effectiveness. This is new territory.

    They’re going to make mistakes, and there’s nothing wrong with pointing those out (as you know, I’ve done so myself). But that’s different than throwing up your hands in despair at every small thing that isn’t handled perfectly, and declaring the whole thing a waste of time or counterproductive whenever they screw something up or don’t handle this or that mini-tempest in a way that you would consider ideal.

    There is a certain class of libertarian or liberty advocate who seems to ALWAYS drag their feet and cling to the idea of “the perfect is the enemy of the good” whenever an opportunity to advance the agenda present itself. Frankly, they’ve held the movement back FAR more than the crazies have (and, incidentally, the Libertarian Party has always had its fair share of crazies). They seem to just reflexively prefer sitting around endlessly navel gazing rather than throwing themselves towards mainstreaming the liberty message.

    In this case, you have a huge soapbox for liberty-minded audiences. And I think one reason you’re getting so much venom thrown your way on this is it DOES often seem like you’re using it in a strange way. Here we have, in Ron Paul, as close to a pure Libertarian having a real impact in a national political race as I’ve ever seen. For chrissakes, the man is getting 10% in the Republican primary for President of the United States of America while advocating an end to the drug war, a non-interventionist foreign policy, a reassertion of constitutionalism, and on and on. And you’re sympathetic of people jumping ship because of a radio show he appears on?

    That’s your prerogative, of course, but so it is mine to have my own opinions about that.

    We—and I feel comfortable including you in this as well—have waited YEARS for a liberty message mainstream candidate to emerge, for this kind of opportunity. To look at Ron Paul and say “meh, no, I don’t like the way he handled that $500 dollar contribution issue—I think I’ll pass and wait for someone better to come along” just strikes me as gob-smackingly ridiculous. If not Ron Paul, then WHO? Because I guarantee you whoever that person is, they’ll screw up stuff along the way too. They already have, most of them giving up far more in terms of liberty message opportunities than Ron Paul has, or ever likely will.

    If you go in looking for stuff to be negative about, you’ll always, ALWAYS find it. You’ll ALWAYS find reasons to criticize this or that campaign decision, this or that candidate, this or that philosophy. Always. A mature person doesn’t discount that, but doesn’t let it disproportionally overwhelm either. They keep it all in perspective. And just tacking on couched lanaguage to the beginning of posts doesn’t count.

    “I’m done with Ron Paul because he went on Alex Jones’ show again” isn’t exactly constructive criticism either.

    Criticism is fine, as far as it goes, but for chrissakes have a little gratitude too, instead of constantly being a wet blanket, or driven by nail-biting fear that around every turn everything is just going to blow up in our faces.

    But let’s explore that possibility. Say that does happen. What then?

    We’ll only garner less than 1% of the vote, will be lost in the political wilderness for 25 years, and mainstream America will think we’re all nutjobs?

    Tell me again how that isn’t the status quo already for libertarianism?

  • Brad

    Moreover, your straw man about my no force or fraud point is disingenuous to say the least. My argument was that trying to obtain someone’s mind by other than reason amounts to a violation of the libertarian force or fraud maxim. Arguments from emotion, arguments that contain implied (if unenforceable) threats, and arguments that resort to name-calling are most certainly fraudulent, and arguably forcible.

    I think I paraphrased it pretty well, actually. Your correction is just a paraphrase of exactly what I said.

    I also think it’s horseshit.

    Name-calling is not the use of force, period. PERIOD.

    To equate, say, rape, with being disagreeable, is flagrantly, patently ridiculous. To say that people who hold opinions contrary to yours represents some kind of fraud is the same.

    Would you, incidentally, then support laws in a libertarian society making it illegal for people to name-call, or use “emotional force” in making arguments, or otherwise being dickheads. Would resorting to emotional arguments you consider way off-base be justification for prosecution on charges of fraud?

    If so, then I don’t know how unwarranted those claims that you aren’t much of a libertarian actually are.

    If not, then drop this “it’s like using force or fraud” argument.

    That’s not to say that I don’t think people should try to be civil, rational, reasonable (of course they should), but that’s a helluva far cry from saying I think opinions contrary to mine are fraudulent in the libertarian maxim sense, or that being disagreeable constitutes a use of force. How can you say that with a straight face?

  • Mark

    I think that part of the issue is that the LP is only a tiny percentage of libertarians in this country (depending on the measures used, the actual percentage of libertarians nationally is between 9 and 21 percent). Libertarianism as a movement is rather disorganized, but has also managed to be surprisingly influential over the years. This level of influence is actually looking to peak next year thanks to the Republican Party’s general sell-out of the libertarian chunk of its base. That sell-out has left libertarians in a position to be a key swing vote next year, which means a sizable (though by no means dominant) amount of influence on policy in the next Administration.

    Now, if Paul could win, then that would be fantastic. But his recent actions have suggested to me in particular (and presumably Doug as well) that his campaign just isn’t ready for prime time, which means victory or even a credible third party run is unlikely.

    If those two outcomes are unlikely, then libertarians should want to maintain their status as potential kingmakers in order to moderate the eventual President, or even get some serious libertarian-ish reform put in place. Essentially, the imperative becomes making sure that libertarians have a seat at the table in a way that’s been missing for a long time.

    When Paul runs his campaign in a way that, in our opinion, marginalizes libertarianism by going out of his way to publicly and repeatedly associate with people like Jones, we risk losing that seat at the table.

    As for me, I am sincerely hoping that Paul does something to overcome his relationship with Jones, whether by virtue of a “Sista Souljah” moment or by virtue of proving my concerns wrong by getting a surprisingly large number of votes. If either of those two things happen, I will most likely jump back on the bandwagon and I will be happy to eat the resulting crow.

    I should also add that the Bernstein flap was a major factor in my jumping off the bus- Bernstein’s criticism was in no way inappropriate. Yet the response from the Rockwell Brigades (which I view as Paul’s unofficial mouthpiece) was to me absolutely horrifying. The LRC attack on Bernstein was worst of all, and was in my mind a deliberate misrepresentation of what Bernstein actually said. Given that LRC is something of an unofficial conduit between the campaign and the grassroots, I found the LRC actions to be particularly appalling. If that is how the grassroots campaign is to be run, well, I wanted no part of it. The Paul interview with Jones 36 hours later thus became just the last straw for me.

  • Mark

    Kevin, what opportunities in 2012, 2016 are you considering? Who on the national political scene can be compared with Paul?

  • Li


    Let me answer your question and give a few responses.

    1. First and foremost, many of the articles I have read attacking Paul are written in such a way as to aggravate the opposition. When an article contains comments suggesting Paul would make a good leader of Branch-Dividians, or that outright label him a kook, a crazy, or senile, it’s not going to promote civil discussion. If the article attacks the supporters directly–perhaps labeling them potheads, truthers, conspiracy nuts, racists, etc., it also is not going to promote civil conversation. The supporters of most candidates aren’t constantly insulted so directly, collectively, and so derisively by the actual sites and publications, so it is unfair to tell supporters “this is what all politically active people deal with”. Nonsense, I’ve come across very few articles that attack the actual supporters of specific candidates besides Paul.

    2. After reading these Nonsense postings, we then come to a site like the WSJ or Liberty Papers. Now you may not be as derisive as some of these others sites (Red State and Weekly Standard spring to mind), but you are echoing the same attacks, often sans discussion of policy, and often over obnoxious details (like expecting a candidate who campaigns on freedom to throw certain people you don’t like under the bus for purely political reasons). You therefore lump yourselves together with these other attackers, though you may feel you are on some higher intellectual ground (which may very well be true). The result is, again, often less then civil or intelligent, due to supporters just sick of dealing with low blows instead of actual discourse.

    3. All the normal problems with internet civility apply, for all the same reasons (age/maturity issues, anonymity, etc.)–and it doesn’t just afflict Paul supporters. I’ve come across some nasty Rudy supporters, Mitt supporters, Thompson, whoever you want to name in either party. Further, if Paul has the strongest internet presence, then he’s logically going to have the largest number of online “jerks” supporters him, merely due to the law of percentages. As an example I’ve come across a lot more obnoxious Clinton supporters then Biden supporters, but that’s probably because there are way, way more Clinton supporters in general. Paul, on the internet, likewise has higher percentages.

    4. The comment threads in MSM, respectful, arguably balanced articles tend to be much more muted. Smear pieces, or perceived smear pieces, get much worse treatment. This is a direct results of the issues I raised in point one, wherein articles that are disrespectful or uncivil promote incivility in the resulting comments.

    5. Paul seems to be attracting people who don’t normal get into the process. These people may be new to the political nonsense that happens. And since those bearing revolutionary ideas (at least for our time period) like Paul, this situation is worse. Therefore many of these new supporters may react a little more forcefully then average supporters. The fact that they care so much, and are getting involved, is a good thing. Hopefully they stay involved after this election, but there will be growing pains for all involved. I think in the end it is to Paul’s benefit that he is attracting them.

    6. There seems to be far more articles discussing all this peripheral flotsam (who his supporters are, whether he can win, the unique nature of his campaign, and how “kooky” he is) then actually discussing the policies, ideologies, and relevant legislation and history of Ron Paul the candidate (again this hasn’t necessarily been true of Liberty Papers, but you are, perhaps unfairly, getting some of the lashback from it).

    7. Last, but not least, Paul supporters DO need to toughen their (our) skin. There needs to be rational, self-controlled, civil responses. It would better promote our candidate and better promote ourselves. As a general rule, I don’t respond to smear pieces, or if I do I try to go out of my way ensuring it was rational and civil.
    But, on the same token, you bloggers and writers need to toughen YOUR skin. If all this is so typical of politics, as you say, then why are so many writers reacting to it so much? I have to conclude that much of this is, in fact, somewhat unusual. It is an unusual election, even for presidential elections, and it is generating an unusual amount of activity and discussion (or attacking, as it were).

    My conclusion is that any grassroots-focused effort, whether a campaign or otherwise, is going to have issues like this. People, especially on the internet, are disorganized and a little out of control at times. That’s fine, hopefully it grows into a more disciplined movement (and there have been many signs of that, such as the money bombs and Paul sites springing up of their own accord). So, on behalf my fellow Paul supporters, I apologize for those whose passion overcomes their civility, but I also condone those calling out smear attempts for what they are (which the related articles here were not, but they certainly echoed some of the smear articles in many ways and furthered some unwelcome and untrue stereotypes). And, of course, I encourage all involved to discuss actual policy more often then they discuss peripheral details (like who is allowed to support presidential candidates and who is, by heaven, not allowed to!). I hope this was almost insightful enough to warrant such a long post!

  • uhm

    I think Ron Paul supporters partially bring this on themselves. They get defensive and give too much attention to it, resulting in more attention directed at it. Then the “inside job” crowd comes and gives plenty of ammo to people who dislike Paul’s paleolibertarianism. I’ve never seen this site ask any another candidate to repudiate some wackjob supporters. It is clear Ron Paul isn’t the candidate for some here. I remember a contributor saying they preferred McCain awhile back. Who knows Libertarian may mean pretty much nothing like Conservative and Liberal.

  • Mark

    Of course I don’t think that such actions should be outright outlawed in a libertarian society.

    But the legality issue is really a matter of degrees, and there’s no clear dividing line between what should or should not be allowable. Hence the reason why common law would be retained in just about any libertopia short of pure anarchism. So, if the context involved sufficient self-detrimental action by the victim, combined with sufficiently severe (if unenforceable) threats, then yes, a claim of theft would most certainly exist. Think of the car salesman who pressures his customer to buy a defective car without allowing the customer to fully inspect the car.

    But even where a claim of theft would not lie, I don’t think these types of attacks are consistent with the libertarian force or fraud maxim; they are certainly “arguments from intimidation,” which Rand famously called a “confession of intellectual impotence.” They also amount to irrational commands to do something “because I said so,” which are the types of commands libertarianism hates most.

    I’ll put this another way. Two more of the most significant libertarian maxims I can think of are “Do what you think is right” and Emerson’s “whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.” Attempts to win an argument by threats, ad hominems, etc., are attempts to deny the victim their individuality; they are attempts to get the victim to conform (and thus deny them their humanity); and they are most importantly attempts to get the victim to act contrary to their perceived self-interest in order to benefit someone else’s perceived self-interest. Simply stated, they are a particularly ugly form of collectivism.

    Libertarianism is not just a political viewpoint. It is in my mind first and foremost a way of life. So while libertarianism would permit a tremendous amount of behavior, this doesn’t make all permitted behavior consistent with libertarianism.

  • Brad


    Some of that’s reasonable, however, a few things.

    1. I think you’re demanding perfection out of Ron Paul’s campaign, and not quite seeing the forest for the trees. Not ready for prime time as compared to what? He’s gone from being an obscure 1% non-factor to having raised probably 12 million plus this quarter and probably good for about 10% of the Republican vote nationally. Did you expect that going in? Because I sure didn’t.

    Ron’s campaign has exceeded expectations ALREADY to such a huge success that I find it hard to get too hung up on what is, at the end of the day, a pretty minor flap. On some level, my reaction to a lot of this navel-gazing about “he’s going to hurt the liberty message” to be “Geez, give him a friggin’ break.”

    2. I’m not going to bemoan the point, because you’re certainly hearing it from everybody else, but I think the substance of your criticism is wrong. For one, I think there’s nothing wrong with Paul’s appearances on Alex Jones. Him appearing on Sean Hannity certainly isn’t an endorsement of War with Iran. I also think you’re reading way too much into the stuff with (when you say “support” what you really mean is some random neo-nazis on an online forum having nice things to say about him). Nor do I think there’s anything inherently offensive about 9-11 Trutherism, but even if I did, his constant denouncements of it would certainly have satisfied me. Same with the charges of racism and anti-Semitism.

    3. More to the point, I think that you’re pitting some hypothetical future wave matched with a hypothetical future candidate/cause against a very real current candidate running a very real current campaign that, guess what, for better or worse is ALREADY leading the liberty movement into the mainstream. Again, he’s not perfect, but nobody is ever going to be, and at the end of the day, his “sins” are pretty damn small compared to not just most other advocates of the liberty agenda, but most other candidates currently running both parties. If this is a disqualifier for you, then I submit that you will never find a campaign you will be able to entirely get on board with.

    On the former point, forgive me if I don’t choose to let this bus pass and wait for the next one that’s not on the schedule and nobody’s ever seen before. I’ve been waiting for it to come for many, many years already, and it just never seems to materialize much. Libertarians CAN swing elections, and do, but never in a concerted way, more like “values voters” or “soccer moms” or whatever the hell that means, where our influence is only fudgy, and in retrospect, and defined by people other than us. We can continue to be satisfied with that, or we can start setting the terms of the debate ourselves. Ron’s doing it, and is well on his way to doing it to more of an effect than anybody in years. What’s your proposed alternative? “Wait and see” isn’t exactly something I’m going to be satisfied with.

    4. This is sort of one of those “grain of sand in the eyeball” issues as well. Mom and Pop in Iowa are not reading David Bernstein and changing their vote from Ron Paul to Mitt Romney based on a $500 contribution or Alex Jones appearances. It seems like a big deal to you (and me) because we spend all day online pouring over all the inside baseball Ron Paul chatter, but honestly, it’s not. I can understand your terror that this could be what gets out in front of him, and to a much lesser extent I share some of it (more like “mild trepidation”), but honestly, if this is going to sink the Ron Paul campaign, it was sunk long before these things came along. And it had nothing to do with how he ran his campaign, it had to do with the mainstream acceptance of our message.

    Because really, where’s it going to end? Bottom line is Ron’s always going to have crazy supporters. Bottom line really is that LIBERTARIANISM, both small and large L, are going to always have crazy supporters. What’s striking you now is this is just the first time you’ve ever seen so many of them coalesced.

    I made my peace about that in the liberty movement a long time ago. And, in fact, if anything this campaign has proved me wrong, and has given me a little more faith than I’ve had that we’re NOT all like that. I’ve gone out to these events and met a lot of these people, and I tell you what, I’ve never met a neo-nazi, I’ve met a fair few Truthers, most of whom have relieved whatever anxiety I might have had about them, but most importantly, the people I’ve met (and I’ve bet about a thousand) have been, by and large, people like you and me. Smart, articulate, committed to the larger message, sane.

    There is a cult of personality to some extent, but a big part of that is because Ron is succeeding where big L Libertarians have failed, which is to say, he’s bringing the message to people that haven’t heard it before, or people that have never heard it ring so far and wide, and they love him for it. This is not, in itself, a bad thing. What’s more, a fair bit of cult of personality is pretty natural for a political campaign (centered around a candidate)…it’s actually kind of a necessary condition for a dark horse candidacy.

    The bottom line though is I understand your trepidation, and anxiety, and to some extent your frustration. However, it’s all confined to the campaign handling a very minor and, substantively, fairly ridiculous issue. I can keep that in perspective. I’d ask that you give it an honest shot.

    Because it’s easy to say that the next big opportunity is probably right around the corner, and it’ll be perfect man, just perfect. But the truth is we’ve waited a long, long, long time for an opportunity this good.

    So as for me?

    I plan on getting on the bus.

    And I’ll not let anxiety or trepidation keep me standing in the rain forever.

  • Kevin

    Who on the national political scene can be compared with Paul?

    No one nationally, but there are some interesting politicians in Congress and on the state level. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is one. Congressman Jeff Flake from Arizona is another.

    But of course in 2004, I couldn’t see Ron Paul running for president, so we shall see.

    This won’t be the end of the country if he loses.

  • Chris Kachouroff

    Jeff Flake can’t be compared to Ron Paul but he would make a good running mate–a mormon VP. That would do a number on Romney.

  • Akston

    Complaining about harsh responses to repetitive and provocative posts about a single issue can present itself as slightly passive agressive, even if not intended that way. Is it so hard to see how frustration can build in an audience who’ve read the same argument again and again, disagree with it again and again, and see yet another post? Everyone’s patience has limits, yours and theirs.

    When choosing to repeatedly call Alex Jones or 9/11 theorists “nut jobs”, “Nazis”, “kooks” and “tin foil hat wearers”, one should probably expect critical feedback from their supporters. People making ad hominem posts should expect ad hominem feedback.

    As for ad hominem replies to civil posts about new issues, I’m completely with Doug on this one. Using personal attacks tends to undermine your credibility and nullify the point you’re attempting to make. No matter who’s making the personal attack against whom.

  • Brad

    This won’t be the end of the country if he loses.

    That’s a point I was going to add but forgot.

    No, of course it wouldn’t be. Trust me, I didn’t get into this because I thought Ron was going to win. I got into it because I thought he, at least, provided a huge opportunity to inject a critical message at a critical time into exactly the place it was being most lost. And, like I said, he’s already wildly exceeded expectations.

    He doesn’t have to win to be a success. I’d suggest that, by at least my initial metric, he already is, and then some. When Rudy Giuliani got directly confronted with a true foreign policy of freedom, to his face, in a Republican debate, by a guy on stage no less, that was as much as I’d ever hoped for in this Republican nomination race. Everything else has just been gravy.

    This “either he wins or he doesn’t matter” meme is pretty dumb, but I don’t get excised about it too much, because it’s also wrong, whether people know it or not.

    However, as somebody interested in injecting the liberty message into mainstream American discourse, I have a hard time trucking with fellow travelers who would rather he not run (or they not support him). I’m not a Libertarian, I’m a Republican, and I want MORE liberty-oriented folks finding voice in the party, not less.

    I have little patience for people who disagree on that point, or find themselves lulled into a weird “our Savior will come someday” attitude about it.

  • Mark

    First- I’m not the one making the arguments about Stormfront. To my knowledge, they really have just latched on to the campaign, and I have no problem with Paul keeping that stupid little donation. Others disagree with me, but on that one I am largely on your side.

    Second- I had initially thought that the problems with overzealous Paul supporters were limited to the internet. But then I saw how high Paul’s negatives are compared to his support even in NH. I can’t find the link right now, but it was one of the polls in the last two weeks. It showed Paul at his highest level of support yet; but it also showed that his name recognition was very high, and 60% of the voters had decided that they would not support him under any circumstances. While I’m sure those numbers would be somewhat better these days with Dems, it shows you how much his campaign has turned off voters in what is one of the most libertarian-spirited places in the country.

    Third- I’ve just decided he’s not right for me. I have explained why I came to that conclusion. If others were not persuaded by my explanation for themselves, then so be it- that is not my fight. I’m happy to be persuaded back into the camp, but without some changes that is not going to be easy.

    But please know- these aren’t “demands” I’m making. I’m in no position to make “demands,” and doing so would be pretty silly for a libertarian in the first place. However, I articulated why I couldn’t stick around any longer, and what I was hoping for to get me to come back. It’s a personal decision on my part. I’m not going to suddenly turn into an outright anti-Paul blogger but will instead continue to call things as I see them. However, it is my opinion (no more, no less) that as things stand now, Paul is going to hurt libertarianism. I sincerely hope I am wrong, and if I am I will gladly jump back on the bus.

    I should say one thing, though- I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to Jones. Until I did, I thought he was just a relatively benign conspiracy nut, and that his anti-semitic sentiments had been overblown by people like Dave Neiwert. Then I listened to the show. Believe me when I say that this is not a man someone should have a close professional relationship with if they want to be a politician with national appeal. I would go so far as to say that I can now understand (though I still vehemently disagree) why Neiwert argues that Paul is himself an anti-Semite.

    It’s a perception problem, but please know that it is a very understandable perception problem that can’t be explained away merely by saying people who bring it up are just smear artists.

  • Rob

    Gen. Washington could have easily become an authoritarian ruler. Many people wanted that to happen. Washington was humble and used discretion. Adams less so. Jefferson more so.

    The forms of government are irrelevant and never protect liberty alone. Only ethical and virtuous people do. Without honest, humble, and wise leaders leading by example with the support of an informed and vigilant populace possessing civic virtue, tyranny is inevitable.

    Discussions over the differences between proponents of various forms of political and economic organization are useless when the people themselves are largely ignorant, irrational, shallow, materialistic, lazy, and greedy. The politicians with the same weaknesses will always craft policies which are a reflection of the people, whether they are “constitutional” or not.

    Make no mistake, it is my opinion that there is still much virtue out there. The question is whether the small minority who possess it will have enough influence to change things. I believe they will not until after the complete crash of the current system, starting with the collapse of the dollar.

  • Max

    Lets get down to it Mark,

    Who are you voting for and why?

  • Jim

    Doug said: “And frankly I don’t care about whatever tales you may spin about the Bilderbergers or anyone else. It all strikes me as nonsense and I tend to think less of anyone who believes in nonsense.”

    That’s like saying that one doesn’t believe in those wild stories about IBM having a board of directors and a business plan.

    The world of business and the business of the world are far too important to a few people to leave to chance. They like to cover all of their bases even if that means taking away your life, liberty and property. Tyrants and their helpers have always operated in such a manner.

    A studied ignorance of those corrupt people that prey upon the rest of us helps tyrants and their assistants.

  • Mark

    I don’t know that is any of your business. But at the moment I am decidedly undecided.

    You do realize you’re not helping your case, right? I suppose the next thing you’ll say is that the New World Order is being driven by a bunch of Jewish, homosexual “Luciferians”?

  • Jim

    Mark sez: “You do realize you’re not helping your case, right?”

    I’m not here to convince kooky coincidence theorists of anything. My case has already been stated:

    “The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs nor a favored few booted
    and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately by the grace of God.”

    –Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman, 1826

    “I suppose the next thing you’ll say is that the New World Order is being driven by a bunch of Jewish, homosexual “Luciferians”?”

    The Same Old World Order is and always has been driven by the same old small-minded, small-hearted fuckheads that think they were born with the right to rule over others. Some are Jews, some are Mormons, some are Catholics, some are Muslims, some are non-denominational, some are Rotarians….

    There’s always a few of those bastards in every crowd and all of the bastards are equally open to criticism.

  • Jeff

    I think people can disagree with whatever they want concerning Ron Paul but just not the idea that there is any other candidate that would be better for liberty. I don’t understand those people but debate is always a good thing.

  • Max

    Oh mark, just ashamed to admit that you want 4 more years of the status quo.

    Oh and I love that the first thing that comes out of your mouth when you hear Bilderberg or New World Order is JEW LOL nice straw man you naive fool

  • Mark

    If you had actually read my comments you would have realized that I was referring to Jones’ specific statements during the show claiming that the New World Order is run by “Jews, homosexuals, and Luciferians.” That isn’t some strained conclusion I drew- it was Jones’ actual words. Sorry if I find that to be a little bit anti-semitic and homophobic.

    I just hope you realize that your continued ad hominems are making me less and less likely to ever return to the Paul camp. You are doing a damn good job exemplifying why I felt compelled to make my post in the first place.

  • Max

    Marc, first off i was never addressing you until my previous post,I was addressing Doug, now I will

    If your not voting or getting involved with Ron Paul’s campaign, then who are you voting for and why? And if your undecided who are you leaning towards and why?

    As for Alex Jones saying “Jews, homosexuals, and Luciferians” run the new world order, your gonna have to post a transcript or link