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Let Me Teach You My Secret Beltway Handshake

January 17th, 2008 · 58 Comments

So, I’m getting plenty of nice feedback about Dave and my Reason piece about the Paul newsletters, but a quick scan of some of the comment threads out there makes clear that we’ve also made a lot of people very, very angry. Interestingly, they’re mostly not taking issue with the specific claims we make, but the very fact that we would write about the topic at all. A lot of this criticism is, frankly, pretty unhinged, and I doubt that many of the people airing it will be open to persuasion. But maybe some of them are. So briefly, some of the main points.

Old News? Some people seem to be under the impression it’s just beyond the pale to go digging up musty old scrolls from the antediluvian period of 1989-1996. This is odd. It seems to me perfectly normal, and perfectly justifiable, that when someone launches a presidential campaign, we begin looking into and scrutinizing their history. We do this even when elements of that history had already been published in local media, long before the candidate became nationally prominent. Is it irrelevant to bring up the Bernie Kerik scandal, even though politically engaged New Yorkers knew about it already? And, not to harp on the obvious, but is it actually “old news” when we’re breaking the story that the author of this stuff Paul repudiates so vehemently continues to be one of his close advisers? Because that seemed like new news to me, except, apparently, to a handful of longtime movement insiders.

For what it’s worth, I myself didn’t know anything about this stuff until Ryan Sager wrote about one of the newsletters last spring. I was disappointed that Paul had apparently defended the ugly language Sager cited, even if he himself hadn’t written it. But I was willing to take at face value the idea that it had really just been a couple comments in one or two newsletters, something written by a rogue staffer that had somehow slipped through the cracks. On net, I was willing to give him a pass. The full extent of the ugliness, the amount of it, and the long span of time over which it appeared were actually news to me when Jamie Kirchick’s article dropped. I figure that means they were probably news to some other people too. And I’m hearing from, and seeing blogs by, plenty of Paul supporters who find all this unsettling and want some better answers from the campaign. Which, incidentally, is all we’ve called for in a piece that strikes me as a hell of a lot easier on Paul than it could have been, or would have been had it run anywhere else.

But Paul’s Not a Racist! I know, I know. You’ve even got a genuine black guy who’ll say so. You can stop sending me the link. The thing is, it doesn’t matter. I’ve never thought it very likely that Paul was personally a racist, and I’ve said as much. But that’s not the point, is it? If you decide to get into the publishing business with a bunch of guys who are very loudly proclaiming their intention to drum up political and financial support by reaching out to racists, that’s just pretty bad in itself, isn’t it? Is it really a defense to say that, after all, Paul himself knew the views his colleagues were exploiting to be pernicious and wrong? Are we supposed to think that in addition to never reading the newsletter, Paul was totally in the dark about the well-publicized views, both substantive and strategic, of the Paleo intellectuals he handed his newsletter to? Views that had been the subject of ample controversy among libertarians, and a source of much criticism directed at Paul for being linked with them, well before the newsletters turned rancid? It doesn’t pass the straight face test. I’m glad Paul’s not personally a bigot, but stressing this over and over, as though we’d been centrally concerned with what lies deep in Paul’s heart, just seems like an attempt to change the subject.

Cosmolifestyleorangebeltwaytarian Conspiracy! There are a depressing number of variants of this one going around: Here is one of the saner versions, and it’s still pretty nuts. The gist of it is that a bunch of us nefarious “Beltway Libertarians” or “Cosmopolitan Libertarians” have a vendetta against Ron Paul or his paleo buddies, and are conspiring to destroy his campaign.

Slight tangent: I’ve even seen that we’re now “self-described” Cosmopolitan Libertarians. Who on earth would self-describe that way? Why not just call yourself a Douchebagatarian? As far as I can tell, the term was coined all of a month ago by The Nation‘s Chris Hayes, and I’ve sure never heard anyone self-apply it other than jokingly. But aside from the annoyingness of that particular term, this whole “there are two kinds of libertarians” frame is, if possible, even stupider than the average for bromides of the form “there are two kinds of X,” which is pretty low. There are lots of “kinds” of libertarians, with lots of different views.

Anyway, theories differ on why we’re so fired up to sandbag Paul. One theory holds that it’s because of our commitment to war-mongering. The only problem with this theory is that most of the folks at Reason—myself included—were opposed to the Iraq war from the get-go, and said so loudly. Cato opposed it too, and their foreign policy analysts churned out plenty of op-eds and policy papers making that case. But there was one guy at Cato who did initially support it, and Reason had the gall to run a debate between him and a war opponent, which means we were all secretly for it.

Another theory is that while we profess libertarian views, we’re actually threatened by the growing likelihood that a future Paul Administration (yes, really) would usher in libertopia and deprive us of our cushy sinecures. Because libertarian print journalism is an awesome profit maximizing strategy, let me tell you. So we had to stop the R[EVOL]UTION before it was too late. I’m not sure what to say about this other than “well, that’s completely fucking insane.” But then, Charles Koch is probably handing me a brown paper sack stuffed with twenties to say so.

Speaking of the “Kochtopus,” theory three is that this actually all goes back to an old internecine squabble between Cato/Koch and the Paleo crew dating from the 80s. Paul was just collateral damage: We were really out to take down Lew Rockwell, and didn’t care if we took out a burgeoning pro-freedom movement in the process. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it, but I really couldn’t care less about some pissing match Ed Crane and Murray Rothbard had while I was in grammar school. Anyway, if you search through the archives at, say, Reason and LewRockwell.com, this rivalry really looks pretty one sided. The folk at the latter site practically define themselves by opposition to the evil sellout Beltway Libertarians, who are the subject of near-daily diatribes. But they basically seem to be having a fight with Tom Palmer; the rest of us were pretty much over it. Or never under it in the first place. In retrospect, though, maybe Tom was right to be pointing out some of this creepy stuff. Anyway, the idea that our goal was to “smear” Rockwell (and man am I seeing that word alot–apparently it now means “publish well-documented factual statements”) faces the niggling problem that we had to, you know, decide to start investigating the authorship question before we knew who did it. Unless we used our secret Jedi mind powers to make all our sources blame Rockwell and his staff. When I’d looked at LRC in the past, I’d found the conception of libertarianism they were peddling unappetizing, but that’s about it; I find fights about who’s the Real Libertarian and who needs to be Purged generally stupid and tedious. I think some folks are projecting their own obsessions onto us.

Libertarian Omerta Maybe the most common beef I’m hearing from sane-seeming people is that we shouldn’t be talking about this stuff. It reflects badly on libertarianism, and Paul is still great all things considered especially compared with the wretched alternatives.

All other considerations aside, this is just premised on a repulsive conception of how libertarian journalists ought to operate—essentially as though “libertarian” nullifies “journalist” any time we’re faced with a choice between reporting facts and cheerleading for our tribe. It’s an argument with terrible pedigree, and reminds me more than a bit of an old essay in which Noam Chomsky argues scholars shouldn’t write about the Killing Fields in Cambodia, because fighting capitalism was more important than, you know, facts.

That said, a couple pragmatic points. First, Paul was not going to be the next president, or even the next Republican nominee, in any parallel universe remotely close to ours. We have not deep-sixed the Paul Administration. The movement behind Paul is a good thing to the extent it raises awareness about our ideas, and demonstrates that there really is a constituency for a candidate who talks about peace and small government. And the best thing that could happen from that perspective, I think, is for Paul to come clean and ensure that people don’t start thinking of “property rights,” like “states rights,” as some kind of bad-faith codeword for racism.

Second, do people think this story wouldn’t have come out if we hadn’t run it? Jamie Kirchick was on exactly the same trail we were, and so was John Tabin at the Spectator, and so, probably, were others. The question was whether we’d break it, dispelling the impression that libertarians are happy to wink at racism, or whether someone far more hostile to Paul would.

I think that covers the major bases. I don’t know that this will change anyone’s mind if they’re determined to think we’re secret statists acting in bad faith, but at least I’ve put it out there.

Tags: Self Promotion



58 responses so far ↓

  • 1 shecky // Jan 17, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    It has been strange to see this episode unfold over the last couple weeks. I had, up until then, been pretty dismissive of the “Paulbot” charge. But I think perhaps this description may have fit better than I thought.

    I give Paul the benefit of the doubt over the charge of racism. But Yglesisas makes a good, if obvious, point that “To have the sort of indifference to the well-being and sentiments of black people that you’d have to have to be complicit in “a strategy of pandering to racists” in the way that Paul was, just is racism in my view.” Paul’s best defense is ignorance. How many of us really find that acceptable?

    These revlations on Paul reflect much more poorly on libertarianism than any of the recent in fighting. That people could deny such a thing is sheer nuttery.

  • 2 Cal Ulmann // Jan 17, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Recently I’ve posted on my blog about Ron Paul and the newsletters and received several identical comments stating that Paul is not a racist.

  • 3 fling93 // Jan 17, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve supported Ron Paul and donated to his campaign. I haven’t yet decided whether I still support him or not. Racism cuts a bit close to home for me.

    Either way, I thought you two did a great job, answering pretty much all of my lingering questions regarding the issue, and doing so in a way that was much more balanced and fair and informative than Kirchick’s piece.

  • 4 Ryan The Sea Lion // Jan 17, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    You, Sir, are in the right

    your and Dave’s article was realistic but respectful and gentle.. perhaps the Paul flag-wavers can learn from your example

  • 5 Nick // Jan 17, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I find it hilarious that there’s a “libertarian” movement spearheaded by someone anti-immigrant, anti-choice, and anti-net-neutrality.

    Libertarians need to cut Paul free. He’s never been one of you. He’s a crackpot who stumbled on a few good positions the way that a broken clock is right twice a day.

  • 6 Julian Sanchez // Jan 17, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Dear Paul folk: When you cut-and-paste your little dissertations on this topic, and it’s comically clear from their content that you haven’t read anything in the post above, I’m just going to treat them as comment spam.

  • 7 Alex // Jan 17, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Julian, well done on a important Reason article. You’re on the side of angels.

  • 8 LP // Jan 17, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Nick — you are right. I’ve never understood why libertarians, who seem on average to be younger and more educated that your average citizen, keep nominating old(er), distinguished-looking good ol’ boys.

  • 9 Concerned Libertarian // Jan 17, 2008 at 7:44 pm


    The following OPED article by James Harris represents the point of view that I happen to hold regarding this matter:


    Based on your characterization, of the the vast majority of the people, that have either emailed you or placed comments to your articles which criticize you, as being less than sane, I suspect you will either ignore or belittle Mr. Harris’ comments on the matter.

    But, I suggest that you read it in order to better understand where many of us are coming from regarding this matter.

    Julian, may I ask you another question?

    Since you believe this issue tarnishes Mr. Paul and taints everything else he has ever done in his life to advance libertarian governance in this country, would you care to go on record as to which candidate you support and are planning to cast your vote for in your state primary?

    I, for one, am very interested to know which of the remaining candidates, in your mind, could possibly represent the libertarian perspective?

  • 10 Eric the .5b // Jan 17, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Well, at least they’ve moved up to just linking the dissertations while showing no sign of reading the posts or articles…

  • 11 Observer773 // Jan 17, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    You could probably cut down on the Paul-spam by doing some automatic screening. “Smear” and “Kochtopus” are a couple of obvious triggers. Also, “Austin NAACP.” Oh, and “debunked.” They like that word, but I don’t think they know what it means.

    Actually, we could make this a game. Call it Paulbot Bingo.

  • 12 Julian Sanchez // Jan 17, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Actually, almost all the emails I’ve received have been very positive. The “crazy” commenters I’m referring to are the ones who imagine a cabal of “Beltway Libertarians” who secretly want to undermine libertarianism.

    Anyway… Harris goes to the question of whether Paul personally is a bigot. As I say above, I don’t care: I never thought he was, and it’s not really the issue. Also, somewhat tangentially, I am curious what you think Ron Paul has actually done to “advance libertarian governance in this country.” Can you think of significant freedom-enhancing bills that he has not merely sponsored, but managed to get passed?

    As for who to vote for, I don’t know, I suppose it might still be Paul, but I’d like to see him deal with this in a more forthcoming way. You will note that our article’s conclusion does not say it is time to disavow Paul, but rather that the broader picture we uncovered regarding these newsletters is genuinely disturbing, and that Paul really ought to explain more fully. Insofar as a vote for Paul is a symbolic vote, I would want to be confident that the “symbol” isn’t one that will end up associating libertarianism with racism in people’s minds.

    Among the more “mainstream” candidates, I was partial to Richardson, but he’s out so now… I don’t know that I have a favorite. I know who I dislike most: Giuliani, Huckabee, Edwards, and to a far lesser extent, McCain. I would probably vote more against any of them than in favor of an alternative. Frankly, I will probably end up supporting the Democratic nominee, presumably either Obama or Clinton, purely on the grounds that the Republican party has gone so far off the rails that it needs to suffer a corrective defeat.

  • 13 Mencius // Jan 17, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    How mature, respectable and polite of you to describe your opponents as deranged loons! Because, apparently, they are not mature, respectable, and polite. Hmm. I wonder why that might be.

    “At long last, sir, have you no decency?”

  • 14 Mencius // Jan 17, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Also, considering all this, I have to say I find your support for Mr. Obama a little rich.

    Consistency is certainly the hobgoblin of the little mind. But I’m afraid you have to walk before you can run.

  • 15 Jesse Walker // Jan 17, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Consistency is certainly the hobgoblin of the little mind.

    Julian said that he might vote for Paul despite the baggage in Paul’s past. Obviously, that is perfectly consistent with saying that he might vote for Obama, even if Obama has some similar baggage in his past.

    But don’t get hung up on that. Reading comprehension is the hobgoblin of the little mind.

  • 16 greenish // Jan 18, 2008 at 3:56 am

    “Douchebagatarian”? That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen all day.

  • 17 Patrick // Jan 18, 2008 at 9:49 am

    What can we do to get Ron Paul to take the right moral action on this issue before he leaves the race? I’d like to see him come out with the truth, apologize, and make an effort to undo the damage he did. I care about him since he has done a lot of good both for our country, and the ideas I support. I have looked to him as a hero long before he ran for President, even if he was not ‘pure libertarian’. I felt his campaign was heroic, if deeply flawed and unrealistic. This whole event is tragedy, one he knew was coming. This man needs help admitting the truth, and I feel sorry for him because he is in a difficult position. Maybe I shouldn’t, he did make a million off of selling his image to racists.

  • 18 jhupp // Jan 18, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Consistency is certainly the hobgoblin of the little mind.

    Goddammit! Has nobody seen Next Stop Wonderland? Look, people, when you put it this way, it makes you look like a total moron. Is brushing your teeth at the same time every day really a sign of intellectual weakness? How about waking up and going to work on a regular basis? The first two words in the sentence are “A” and “foolish” and they are pretty important. Being consistent for the sake of being consistent even when the facts say otherwise, now that is foolish. But being consistent when it makes sense is not.

    Has this become some sort of in-joke I’m not privy to? Because it happens all the time and it really drives me up a wall.

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” -RWE

    Phew. Much better. Sorry, tangential but necessary to remain sane.

    As to the rest of Mencius’ comments, Jesse has the appropriate takedown, except to add that Obama’s history with “racism” Sailer cites is misinterpreted to a ludicrous extent. Perhaps Obama’s not a flawless writer and leaves himself open to such misinterpretation by someone absent any knowledge of the man publicly. But in the current context, it takes an awful lot of intentional self-deception to think him as a closet black nationalist.

  • 19 Jim Hu // Jan 18, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I get Cosmo, lifestyle, and beltway

    What’s the orange for?

  • 20 Julian Sanchez // Jan 18, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    The blogger I link to above has decided to “connect the dots” of the folks writing about this story by way of the DC Metro Orange Line. (This is actually a little off; I don’t think the Orange line passes that close to the offices of Reason or The Atlantic or Cato.)

  • 21 Tom G // Jan 18, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    The people who are lamenting “oh, who ELSE is there besides Dr. Paul” perhaps forget that in many states, the Libertarian Party does get on the ballot. If I vote at all, it’s likely to be on that line.

  • 22 Thursday // Jan 18, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Well, the big problem is that it seems an awful lot of those scary quotes were taken way, way, way out of context. Justin Raimondo has the goods:
    Your willingness to go along with Kirchick does not speak well of you.

  • 23 Mencius // Jan 18, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Um, Obama cut his own half-brother out of his life because he wasn’t enough of a black nationalist. Or, at least, that was Obama’s explanation.

    Of course, that was a few years ago. When he wasn’t running for President. What does Obama think now? Gee, has anyone bothered to ask? Here, or at TNR? Hm.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled doublethink.

  • 24 Megan McArdle // Jan 18, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Actually, technically, the orange line is our closest stop, but since I don’t live anywhere near it, I do not actually ride it. Indeed, I think I’ve ridden the orange line a grand total of once in my life.

    Your stupid DC trivia for the day . . .

  • 25 somedude // Jan 18, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Nowhere does Obama say he “cut his own half-brother out of his life because he wasn’t enough of a black nationalist.” That is Steve Sailer’s deluded interpretation. Yes, I’ve read the book and the story is MUCH more complicated (and apolitical) than iSteve would have you believe.

    You may now return to your regularly scheduled racism minimization.

  • 26 Reality Man // Jan 18, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Steve Sailer is a man who has dedicated his life to showing that blacks are genetically inferior to whites. He blamed Katrina on black inferiority. He belongs to an organization, VDare, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed a hate group for the opposition to immigration out of fear of race mixing and genetic impurity. This is a guy who after being adopted started wondering if he was Jewish due to fitting Jewish stereotypes like having an inquisitive mind. His whole life is dedicated to proving that blacks are inferior as human beings when they aren’t on a basketball court. Listening to Sailer on race is like listening to Mike Huckabee on science.

  • 27 Steve Sailer // Jan 18, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    It’s always funny seeing how hate-filled are the people who go around denouncing other people as an “angry white man.”

    One obvious example, is James Kirchick’s mentor Marty Peretz, who loathes Arabs with an endless passion, and who worries that Ron Paul doesn’t share his loathing.

  • 28 Steve Sailer // Jan 18, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    The more general issue is that as “Reason” got ever more politically correct under that last editor, it got, inevitably, ever more boring.

    The magazine is being left behind by the revolution in the human sciences. Look at the evolution of, say, Steven Pinker’s views in the exact opposite direction over the last 15 years.

  • 29 Liz // Jan 18, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Oh my — I just googled “kochtopus.” Sigh … You have introduced me to a whole new level of liberarian weirdness. Thanks. Thanks for that.

    P.S. Nice piece, by the way.

    P.P.S. Seriously, who even rides the orange line?

  • 30 Mencius // Jan 18, 2008 at 4:58 pm


    No, actually, it’s my interpretation.

    Care to share yours? If Barack isn’t criticizing Mark for his lack of racial consciousness, what exactly is his objection?

    I’m sure the answer is, indeed, “complicated.” Ever long and tangled is Occam’s beard. Don’t worry – I read fast.

  • 31 somedude // Jan 18, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Well, MM, your interpretation is exactly the same as Sailer’s . But if you read Obama’s words, while he may have disagreed with his brother’s opinions, he never says he “cut him out of his life” over it. He had never been in his life to begin with, for one thing. He and a half-sibling he barely knows promised to write, but then they didn’t. Gee, people never do that, do they, unless it’s for political reasons. All that “lack of black nationalism” is pure projection on your (and Sailer’s) part.
    But if it makes you feel better, keep telling yourself that story. Sailer’s probably got some IQ “data” that’ll warm your heart, too.

  • 32 Mencius // Jan 18, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Dear god! I agree with Steve Sailer! I’m off to confession at once. Oh, excuse me, diversity training. Sorry, wrong century.

    Didn’t it soil you to even read that link? Didn’t you just feel corrupt and polluted? Here’s another one you might enjoy.

  • 33 Steve Sailer // Jan 18, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Another thing that’s tedious about Kirchick’s article is its utter humorlessness. He dredges up what are mostly old wisecracks, then gasps in horror at them. How dare anyone say such a thing! Or even imagine it! And then the Reason crowd gasps along in horror with him.


    Talk about “moral panics” …

  • 34 somedude // Jan 18, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Hmmmm…. since you make no attemot to refute it, I’ll take that to mean that you concede that your interpretation of Obama’s words is unfounded. The fact that you agree with Steve Sailer is beside the point, though it’s not something I’d recommend as a general rule. You’re free to be as bigoted as you like, but if you put words in other people’s mouths, you should expect to be called on it.

  • 35 gob // Jan 19, 2008 at 9:20 am

    “And the best thing that could happen from that perspective, I think, is for Paul to come clean and ensure that people don’t start thinking of “property rights,” like “states rights,” as some kind of bad-faith codeword for racism.”

    Sorry, too late.

  • 36 ben tillman // Jan 19, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    No one ever bothers to explain why it’s wrong for Paul to be a “racist”, if that’s what he is. “Racism” (if it’s defined to include the making of the remarks made in the newsletter) doesn’t violate the non-aggression principle, so there’s nothing wrong with it from the standpoint of libertarian morality — or of any other principled moral system.

    Such “racism” can be wrong only from the standpoint of a particularistic morality that makes moral judgments according to what’s good or bad for the particular person or group.

    The comments at issue relate to persons and groups that have used (or have attempted to use) the State to commit aggression against the author. Expressions of resentment and hostility regarding those who victimize you are hardly objectionable.

    It’s not very difficult to figure out that those who object to self-defense tend to be the same people who benefit from aggression.

  • 37 Carl // Jan 19, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Why is this scandal so important? Answer:

    • Ron Paul is very unlikely to win.
    • If Ron Paul cannot clear the air on this, he definitely cannot win.
    • The importance of the Paul campaign is the movement it is spawning.
    • If that movement has even a tiny taint of racism, it is death for its longterm viability.

    For these reasons I demanded that the campaign come clean and out the writer of the ugly articles — if the campaign wanted my continued support.

    If the writer turns out to be Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard, or another writer of the same school, the taint of racism is gone. These writers flame just about everyone. It’s equal opportunity ugliness.

    Such ugliness stems logically from the a prioristic approach to libertarianism. If taxation is armed robbery, then the 99+% of the population that considers government to be necessary are felons.

  • 38 ben tillman // Jan 19, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Carl, you’re conflating government and “the State”. Of course, government is necessary, but government is morally defensible only to the extent it qualifies as self-government.

  • 39 ben tillman // Jan 19, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    That is to say, those who extract taxes without the consent of the taxed are felons.

  • 40 hm // Jan 19, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Ah, a visit from Steve Sailor, the man whose epoch-defining intellect is so shining that he must attack any blog commenter who mentions his name. Truly a human of superior worth.

  • 41 sine // Jan 20, 2008 at 2:00 am

    Oh Julian, we already knew that you are one of the Kochtopus’s noodly appendages.

  • 42 Messy Mises // Jan 20, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Why didn’t Paul repudiate Rockwell? When he went on CNN during the height of the newsletter debacle, RP not only pretended not to know who wrote the things, but gave props to Austrian Economics. Paul might as well have been wearing a Stop Snitching shirt….

    Paul’s refusal to purge the racialists in his midst suggests a comfort with the bigotry of others, at the very least. If he can’t run a Newsletter, how could he run a White House?

  • 43 ben tillman // Jan 21, 2008 at 12:54 am

    All of Paul’s opponents take racial stances far more radical than anything printed in the newsletters. They all support the government’s policies of (1) importing non-whites and (2) granting those non-whites a privileged legal status above that of native whites. That combination is outrageous. Where are your cries of racism for that?

  • 44 chris matthews // Jan 21, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Nice write up. Very reasonable.

    Since you took the time to read and write up the Op-Ed piece I was hoping you could respond to Raimondo’s piece here.


    I thought it was better written.

  • 45 bob // Jan 21, 2008 at 9:06 am

    The best part of all this is watching pollyanna, pie in the sky, free market fairy dust believers in the idiocy that is Libertarianism fighting each other about the “moral” right to be assholes and what form of selfish assholery is to be considered the CORRECT form of selfish assholery. Hey, LIBERTARIANS. Don’t drive on my roads, don’t use my hospitals or schools or fire departments or libraries or parks or sports stadiums. You don’t want to pay for them, so DON’T FUCKING USE THEM. Oh, and you no longer have easement to cross my land. Get the fuck off before I blow off a little rock salt in your ass.

  • 46 Jon // Jan 21, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Welp, that guy above sure isn’t happy with us.

    I hate baseball, Bob.

  • 47 Meredith // Jan 21, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Just wanted to say that I liked your post. It’s a shame that the audience who needs to read it the most is least likely to appreciate the message.

  • 48 liberal // Jan 21, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    And the best thing that could happen from that perspective, I think, is for Paul to come clean and ensure that people don’t start thinking of “property rights,” like “states rights,” as some kind of bad-faith codeword for racism.

    But “property rights,” as construed by most people these days, is a code word for thuggish oppression, albeit not racism.

    Some libertarians understand this, but alas, many or most don’t, and thus are (perhaps unwittingly) great enemies of liberty.

  • 49 4jkb4ia // Jan 22, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Obama the secret black nationalist is almost equivalent to Obama the secret Muslim. Running as a black nationalist would have paid off for Obama when running for the state legislature, but he did not do that. MM must say that Obama always wanted to run for national office. Obama has not governed as a black nationalist. All of Obama’s rhetoric shows a strong belief in a universal public interest. Libertarians and public choice theorists may not believe there is such a thing, but that is then a sufficient reason not to vote for him.

  • 50 Less Antman // Jan 23, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Steve Horwitz self-referenced cosmopolitan values and their importance to libertarianism in a November 28 post on the Liberty & Power blog (http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/45044.html), and a couple of libertarians on that blog have since referred to themselves as cosmopolitan libertarians or cosmos without my sensing any irony or mockery in their use of the term. I don’t see it as being an insult, and I definitely have seen people using it to describe themselves.

    I don’t want to get in the middle of this unfortunate spat. I believe it would be better for us to move on, try to be effective personal spokespeople for libertarianism, and cease attacking others. If libertarianism is being associated in the minds of some with racism, the only effective solution is for non-racists to promote libertarianism as actively as possible. Neither condemning nor disassociating from others is a particularly useful strategy (indeed, if I had to cease friendships and associations with anyone who didn’t live up to my personal moral code, I would have to cut off contact with every person in the world, myself included). In any event, we’re all no more than six links away from Kevin Bacon, Osama bin Laden, and Dick Cheney.

    It is not sufficient justification to attack Paul or Paul’s friends that the attacks be true. It is also an editorial determination as to how to use limited resources. I really doubt that investigating these newsletters is at all the best way to promote libertarian values, regardless of the final conclusions drawn.

    My own modest contribution to this debate was posted somewhere (http://hnn.us/comments/117837.html). While it is hardly the last word on the subject, I wish it could be, as there are so many more useful things we could all be doing with our time to advance libertarianism.

    For my part, I intend to continue reading the output of Reason, CATO, lewrockwell.com, and antiwar.com. As Rodney King (yes, that Rodney King) once said, “Can we all get along?”

  • 51 Julian Sanchez // Jan 23, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Y’know, I know you mean well, but my head is going to explode if I hear one more person lament all this awful “infighting” because god forbid we ran one investigative article. We followed up on a significant story about a prominent libertarian candidate we had been covering heavily and mostly positively. I would do it again exactly the same way without an instant’s hesitation. It is not “infighting” just because the upshot of the investigation happens to reflect badly on people who have been bitching and ranting about evil “Beltway Libertarians” nonstop for years while their targets largely maintained a polite silence.

  • 52 Less Antman // Jan 23, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Well, that wasn’t the only point I tried to make in my post. I did lead with a correction I hadn’t seen earlier and hit other subjects.

    I do want to make clear that I thought the earlier nastiness to which you referred was extremely unhelpful and inappropriate, but I’m not inclined to treat the behavior of others as a standard for my own. And the reason I offered for objecting to the investigative article had nothing whatsoever to do with “infighting,” and everything to do with considering the most productive use of one’s limited resources. I also offered a take on the issue of libertarianism being associated with racism, and how best to deal with it.

    But I can understand a bit of crankiness at this point.

  • 53 Julian Sanchez // Jan 23, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Hm, maybe I am getting a bit cranky; sorry. I do still think it’s a justifiable use of resources. The Kirchick piece was at least a minor bombshell in libertarian circles, and my highly unscientific sample of libertarians I know suggested a lot of people had questions about the campaign’s rather minimal explanation, and found the question of authorship relevant. If this stuff had appeared in the John McCain Political Report, and then it came out that the author was still a top McCain adviser, it would be on the front page of the New York Times. This story isn’t getting that kind of traction because The New York Times doesn’t care about Ron Paul one way or another, but Reason readers do. They may not like the answers we found, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t news.

  • 54 Tim Starr // Jan 23, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Unfortunately, racism doesn’t necessarily doom political movements to failure. The South succeeded in reversing Reconstruction for about a century, from 1975 to 1965 or so. The most successful, longest-running terrorist movement in American history was the Ku Klux Klan.

  • 55 brendon // Jan 24, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    “Another thing that’s tedious about Kirchick’s article is its utter humorlessness. He dredges up what are mostly old wisecracks, then gasps in horror at them. How dare anyone say such a thing! Or even imagine it! And then the Reason crowd gasps along in horror with him.


    Talk about “moral panics” …”

    steve, this is fair — up to a point. Tastes may vary, but i think calling 1980s era new york ‘rapetown’ is funny, and calling barbara jordan a ‘half-educated race victimologist’ is fair-play. but saying that MLK ‘seduced underage girls and boys’ sounds more like a deranged allegation than a joke. and what about all the conspiratoid trilateral commission black helicopter nuttery? i mean, for god’s sakes, the newsletter was called the ron paul SURVIVAL report! doesn’t this play into the making-bombs-in-the-outhouse image most libertarians want to avoid?

  • 56 ISHMAel back // Feb 21, 2008 at 11:45 pm


  • 57 ISHMAel back // Feb 21, 2008 at 11:45 pm


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