Monthly Archives: May 2008

You Can’t Believe In Limited Government And Want Barack Obama In The White House

Andrew Sullivan, who has been in the tank for Barack Obama ever since he realized that Ron Paul was pretty much a non-entity, posts about this critique of his support for Obama:

Sullivan, a Burkean by philosophy but a radical by temperament, is the most interesting critic of his former conservative allies, and I’ve learned a lot about conservatism agonistes from reading his blog. He says that conservatism isn’t about solving problems but about recognizing the limits of man’s ability to do so, especially in the form of organized activity called government. His breakdown can’t help stacking the deck: conservatism is modest, skeptical, narrowly focussed on what can be done; liberalism tries, promiscuously, to satisfy everyone’s needs. Sullivan believes that the Republican Party went astray when it forgot its philosophical principles and started throwing more feed at the hogs of the electorate than Democrats. He is, in the terms of my article, a purist rather than a reformist, but his unhappiness with the movement is so great that it’s driven him into the arms of his exact opposite, Barack Obama, who is philosophically liberal and temperamentally conservative.

Sullivan knows that his Oakeshottian version of conservatism is a very hard sell in a country that expects problems to come with solutions, and he seems to acknowledge that its future here belongs with the reformists like David Brooks, Ross Douthat, and Reihan Salam, who are readier than he is to accept that people have a right to want their government to improve their lives, not just to instruct them in the vanity of human effort. I read Sullivan every day, partly to find out how far his disenchantment will carry him in the very strange direction of Obama-style uplift—how long his temperament will win out over his ideas.

To which Sullivan responds:

It’s a little hard to know how to respond to such a perceptive critique. But, yeah, it’s true. Intellectually, I find so much of Obama’s substance domestically to be anathema. (This is not true of his tilt back toward realism and diplomacy in foreign policy, which could be seen as a return to conservative principles after Bush’s Wilsonianism). I haven’t sat through a single Obama speech without ideologically wincing at something. I fear that in the general election, his recourse to liberal tropes will begin to wear thin.

So why do I find myself still longing for him to win?

Because, I can’t see how domestic policy could become more statist and less responsible than the past eight years. Because I want to see such a record punished with electoral defeat for fear they still don’t know what they did wrong. Because I think Obama’s diplomatic skills and public relations brilliance could serve this country very well. And because of what Obama represents in our collective consciousness.

Umm, okay, let’s see how things could become more statist. Increased government involvement in health care to the point where individual choice becomes even more irrelevant than it is today. Increased “social welfare” spending. Increased subsidies to so-called distressed industries. And, oh yeah, let’s not forget the fact that he opposes a free trade agenda that has pretty much defined America since the end of World War II.

Sully goes on:

His candidacy is about renewing what America means to the world and to itself. It is about a collective cultural healing – especially on race. It is about representing the next generation and America’s less domineering but more inspiring place among nations. It is about transparency in government. It is about getting past this brutal cultural polarization for a while. It is about putting reason back into our discourse after the emotional manipulation of the Morris-Rove era. It is about ending torture, restoring Constitutional balance, and adding the power of words, of great words, to restore hope again.

This may sound lofty, but I do not think it is lofty in the way utopian liberalism suggests. It is lofty the way Reagan was lofty and Kennedy was lofty, which transcends ideology. Set apart from their actual achievements in office (on which scale Reagan dwarfs Kennedy), they both recast this country’s self-understanding – and the world’s understanding of America. This shift occurs in the heart, and it is not about promising heaven on earth. It is about being all we can be at this moment in history. It is about us – not policy; our self-understanding – not self-recreation.

Being all we can be ? Is this an advertisement for the United States Army or a debate on where America is headed over the next twenty years ?

Clearly, Sully’s still caught up in the Obama-mania that was sweeping the nation back in February.

Let’s be realistic about this. Barack Obama isn’t going to change the world and he isn’t going to make everything better. In fact, given the fact that he has absolutely no executive experience, it’s quite likely that his first two years in office would be something like the initial years of the Clinton Administration, only more incompetent.

I was with Sullivan when he support Obama as the best way to protect America from another four-to-eight years of Clintonism, but now we’re down to brass tacks.

It’s time to be logical here, folks. Barack Obama is a Democrat, and one brought up in the years when the Democratic Party drifted further and further to the left.

That’s the kind of President he’s going to be.

If you believe individual liberty and think that corporate profits are something other than a source of revenue for Barack and Michelle to launch their latest scheme, then even thinking about voting for him for a second is a tremendous mistake.

Open Thread Question of the Day: Will the Barr/Root Ticket Help or Hurt the Libertarian Party?

I think it’s too early to tell. There are some very legitimate concerns that many Libertarians have about Barr’s commitment to Libertarian principles. Barr defeated Ruwart 54% to 46% and I can tell you from being there that many of the delegates who supported Ruwart were very dissatisfied with the outcome. It’s very unclear to me whether Barr can win their support.

The main concerns Libertarians have (large L and small l) concern his congressional career, namely his support for the USA PATRIOT Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, and his work as a notable drug warrior. Barr has since denounced and apologized for these policies and is working toward their repeal.

The question Libertarians have to ask is whether or not this conversion is authentic or opportunistic. Personally, my approach is “trust but verify.” I am willing to take Barr at his word.

Why? He is a politician after all!

I truly think his conversion is authentic because people CAN and DO change. I have a great deal of respect for both Bob Barr and his running mate Wayne Allyn Root because they both admitted their mistakes and say they want to correct them rather than pretend that they were always staunch Libertarians all along. I’m sympathetic to this because I too have evolved a great deal in my thinking over the last year or so and have made a near 180 degree turn on certain critical issues (I’ll write a complete treatise on this someday soon).

If you believe that this conversion is opportunistic rather than authentic, then by all means I would urge you to not support Bob Barr. If, however; you do think this conversion is real and if you believe he does support the goals of less taxation, less government, and more freedom then I urge you to support Bob Barr in the general election.

Sure, many of Barr’s policies have been very destructive toward these ends but what do we gain by beating someone over the head for making mistakes one has apologized for and promises to make right. Isn’t the whole point of debate to persuade your opponents to your side? And who makes a better argument for a position than the converted?

Inflation Fears Pummel Cocaine Markets

The DEA assumes that if the street price of coke is rising, it is an indication that their interdiction efforts are successful. Well, the price is rising, but might one make another conclusion?

And it says it has spied one: The cost of pure coke rose 44 percent in the United States between January and September 2007. The dea credits its own efforts, of course, along with increased Mexican and Colombian cooperation, for the downturn in supply it says caused the price hike.

But the agency omits an important factor: the plummeting value of the dollar, especially as compared to the soaring euro. Even as the dea has made it more bothersome to bring coke into the United States, the sliding dollar has made importing it less profitable. Both the UN and dea note that a kilo of coke brings in two times as much in Europe as it does in America.

As with any commodity, producers look to maximize earnings by selling in markets with the strongest currencies. But unlike oil, for instance, the value of which is measured in dollars, the cocaine market is more fluid. “The euro has become the preferred currency for drug traffickers,” declared then-dea administrator Karen Tandy at an anti-drug conference last May. “We’re seeing a glut of euro notes throughout South America,” she said, adding that “9 of 10 travelers who carried the $1.7 billion euros that came into the United States during 2005 did not come from Europe…They came from Latin America.”

When many think of “drug dealers” and “drug traffickers”, the thought springs to people with no other options, who have no choice but to turn to illegal enterprises to survive. In reality, we’re talking about savvy, enterprising businessmen, who simple operate outside the established legal framework of industries. They deal with competition, “regulation”, supply chain management, and all the other minutiae of running a successful business and providing value to a customer. They just have a much higher risk tolerance than your average dot-commer (which is then rewarded by very high returns on investment).

They also– because they operate outside the legal framwork– have the ability to be much more agile than many traditional businesses. They don’t have to worry about a government invalidating their business license, or a trading partner closing their borders: they operate past closed borders to begin with. That agility makes it a fascinating market to study, and if they’re dropping the dollar in favor of the euro on a widespread level, what exactly does that say to us about the future of the dollar? If it’s not trustworthy to drug dealers, exactly why should I trust it?

And what exactly does it say about oil prices, a market which is currently captive to trading in dollar terms, that oil is rising in price far more than a typical supply-and-demand curve might justify? Might there be some inflation-related price pressures here?

The Euro: not just for supermodels anymore.

Hat Tip: Radley Balko

Concluding thoughts on the 2008 Libertarian National Convention

First of all, I would like to thank Andrew Davis, the Communications Director of the Libertarian Party for granting the new media in general and The Liberty Papers in-particular full access to the 2008 Libertarian National Convention. To say that attending this convention was a thrill would be an understatement. I had the opportunity to talk to some of the candidates, the delegates, fellow bloggers, and generally be in an atmosphere of people who value liberty (it was very strange to witness a presidential debate where I agreed with most of the statements about policy and philosophy).

Based on the comments we normally receive at The Liberty Papers, I always knew that libertarians (even within the Libertarian Party) are very diverse when it comes to particular views but generally agree on the Lockean principles that we at The Liberty Papers champion: Life, Liberty, and Property.

What I saw at the convention reinforces this belief. The MSM will likely show the, how should I say, the “more colorful” individuals who are part of the liberty movement. What I saw, however, were “normal” people, young and old of every background one could imagine who happen to want to reduce the role of government in all of our lives.

One of the readers asked me to ask the question (paraphrasing): “What has the Libertarian Party accomplished in recent years in advancing the cause of liberty?” Regretfully, I never got around to asking that question but I believe I have the answer. While it’s true that the Libertarian Party has not had a great deal of success at the national level, I discovered that grass-roots efforts of party activists have succeeded in electing Libertarian candidates and passing legislation at the local and state levels which truly advance liberty. During the nominating speeches, one state chairman after the next gave examples of how their efforts in their respective states fought the government and won. The cause of liberty is by no means a lost cause.

With Bob Barr representing the Libertarian Party in this election, I believe he will be a force that John McCain and Barack Obama are going to have to deal with (but especially McCain). No, I was not sold on Bob Barr prior to this convention and he was not my first choice. There were too many unanswered questions. Based on how he has answered those questions and admitted his past mistakes and has promised to correct them, I can honestly say that I can enthusiastically and in good conscious endorse Bob Barr for President of the United States*. This is not something you see everyday in politics or in life.

Will Barr be the next president? Not likely. But I will say that his mere presence, especially if he can get into the debates, will force the Republican Party to rethink their big government policies. They will live to regret nominating John McCain as their nominee as Barr takes votes away from him in November. They will have four years to live life in the minority wondering how they can regain the trust of the American people.

And as for the Democrats? The American people will see that Barack Obama will not have the answers to our problems. We will not be taxed and regulated into prosperity. We will once again be reminded why government is not the answer to all of life’s problems but only makes those problems worse.

The question then will be what are we going to do about it? Only time will tell.


The VP Results are as follows:

Vote 1
Root: 269 (49%)
Kubby: 209 (37%)
Williams: 40 (7%)

Vote 2
Root: 289 (51%) **WINNER**
Kubby: 255 (45%)
Williams: 14 (3%)
NOTA: 6 (1%)

Root was my preference but I think he will add a great deal of energy to the ticket (Energy? Root could solve the energy crisis by himself!)

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