Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Monday, May 31, 2004


Islamic fundamentalists or the U.S. government?

On this general subject, readers may benefit from Murray Rothbard's "The Real Aggressor." Its relevance to the "War on Terror" is astonishing. Consider this:
Here I think one point should be made and made bluntly. Some people may prefer death to communism; and this is perfectly legitimate for them - although death may not often be a solution to any problem. But suppose they also try to impose their will on other people who might prefer life under communism to death in a "free world" cemetery. Is not forcing them into mortal combat a pure and simple case of murder? And is not anti-Communist murder as evil as murder committed by Communists?
Just replace "Communists" with "Islamic terrorists" and add water. The argument works. Even if Islamic fundamentalists were determined to kill you, it still doesn't follow under the principles of libertarianism that you should be forced to choose fighting for your life over death from terrorists. The anti-terrorist warmongers are merely imposing their preferences on the rest of society. This is not freedom. More:
Sinking ever deeper into a war psychosis, these conservatives have failed to perceive that our whole problem today, broadly speaking, is ideological rather than military! If we carefully examine the facts we will find that the most commonly feared threat to peace - the Communist bloc - has been fairly scrupulous about not committing military aggression. All the Communist successes since the end of World War II have been through internal Communist rebellions. Korea itself was a civil war, and there is even there considerable evidence that it was begun by the South. Russia did not intervene directly in that war, and China intervened not only after the United States did, but only when our troops reached her borders.

Patience, plus sponsoring of Communist parties and philosophy abroad, seems to be the Soviet plan. In brief the Russian military menace is for the most part a bogey; the Commies are probably truthful in their assertion that their arming is meant in defense. The statement of Defense Secretary Wilson recently that Russian air production has been concentrated on defensive jets rather than offensive heavy bombers (such as we are building) would tend to bear out this point.

As a long term threat as well, we should have no fear of military conquest by the Russians, or by the Chinese either. They began as backward countries and, since we know communism to be a relatively inefficient economic system, we need not worry about their offensive military might - provided we let our own industries grow without the hamperings of a garrison state.

What we really have to combat is all statism, and not just the Communist brand. To take up arms against one set of Socialists is not the way to stop socialism - indeed it is bound to increase socialism as all modern wars have done. (Emphasis added)
Again, the same arguments apply to "terrorists."

Rothbard's application of gang warfare to international conflict is absolutely brilliant and deserves far greater exposure from libertarians:
Yet no matter how evil states are, we must accept the fact that they do exist, and that there is no likely prospect of their imminent disappearance. In a world of states and statism, then, what should the libertarian conservatives' attitude be with regard to international discord?

Municipal police have one rather appealing principle: they look the other way during a gang war. If one set of gangsters "aggresses" against another set, the police do not participate. Why waste the taxpayers' money protecting one gangster against another?

The Status Quo Might Not Be Moral

It is a version of that principle, I think, that ought to be applied to foreign affairs. For if any world police force were to be set up to punish "aggressors," the only result would be increased bloodshed and real aggression all over the world in an attempt to freeze the existing status quo, which might be a status quo no more moral, and perhaps less just, than any other possible one.

We could hardly blame those states which came late into the struggle for territorial influence, if they turned a jaundiced eye on the hypocritical moralizing of the entrenched aggressor states who would invoke world law to forestall new depredations. States have always gained their territories by force, and any given land area has probably been fought over and changed hands many times. In almost every case of "aggression" each party to the dispute, and often many parties, have some sort of historical claim to the disputed territory. New territorial wars are no more "aggressive" than the present continuation of old conquests.

What is more, there always arises the difficulty of spotting the "real aggressor" in any particular war. When both sides are armed camps, when there are many provocations, secret treaties, deals and frontier incidents, the question of unraveling the actual starter of war, let alone who is the more morally wrong, becomes a matter for the careful research of future historians.


If the people of Korea are being oppressed, we will recognize that the oppressor state is vicious; but we will at the same time recognize that it would be immoral for the United States government as such to interfere in any way. For in so interfering, the American state would commit those of its citizens who have no wish to be committed, to battle for Korean citizens.

Interference, moreover, would in no way insure that the foreign people thus "liberated" would be any the better off for it. Had the North won a quick victory in the recent Korean War, the Koreans might well have, been left less unhappy and even economically better off under communism than they are now under Rhee. Millions have been slaughtered by the weapons of both sides, and those remaining have been left to contemplate the utter destruction of their property.

If some Americans wish to liberate the people of China or Poland, let them raise a private expeditionary force and private finances to go over and attempt liberation – but let them not try to commit the United States, and as a result, myself, to any such scheme. For a second wrong simply will not make a right; we should not add to oppression at home in a hope to effect some sort of "liberation" elsewhere.(Emphasis added)


Hint: "not our official military apparatus." Our "Memorial Day" offering is a lecture by Elaine Scarry (Click on "Audio Only"):
In her acclaimed new book, Who Defended the Country?, Elaine Scarry, Professor of English at Harvard University, looks at the security failures of September 11th, 2001, and their implications for our national safety and well-being. Scarry argues that the only people who successfully defended the country during the attacks were the citizens aboard the hijacked airliner that was forced down in a Pennsylvania field; she asks why Americans stand by while its leaders bypass laws regarding national defense and continue building more weapons of mass destruction.

Although the U.S. Constitution calls for congressional authorization before a declaration of war, this requirement has not been met since World War II. Recently, the events of September 11th precipitated unofficial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, justified by government officials calling for swift and decisive action. Yet, the security failures of 9/11 call into question the effectiveness of our national defense. Are citizens surrendering their constitutional right to take part in the defense of the country? Should the military, as the Constitution requires, be "held within a civilian frame?" Scarry details the events of 9/11 to explore these and other questions in this free public discussion.(Emphasis added)
In her lecture, Scarry recounts the events of September 11th and the inability of the Federal government to defend the United States of America from attack. In considering this interview, I've decided that the one positive development out of the "War on Terror" is the greater ease with which we can now distinguish fraudulent "libertarians" from the real proponents of the free society. True libertarians oppose the war and (at least) question the entire basis of "national defense" (historically as well as theoretically), as even the leftists in Cambridge appear to be doing. The fraudulent libertarians frantically cheer on the march of statist violence in Iraq and around the world as if freedom is flourishing.

Also, again in honor of the war dead, please take the time to listen to this lecture from Joe Stromberg on Rothbard's view on the warfare state. He provides lots of interesting background in telling the story of how Rothbard developed his increasingly radical views. One specific item that jumped out at me: Stromberg talks about Rothbard wrote a "technical" economic piece discussing -- from a free market perspective -- how a "necessary" war ought to be financed. Rothbard (as did Mises) pointed out that it should be financed through a tax increase, rather than government debt, for both reasons of economic efficiency as well as maintenance of a free society. Today, even the fake libertarians throw support behind the war without addressing these other important issues. Why should the government merely shift the burden to the debt markets or to future generations of Americans? Is a government which enjoys the ability to create (print) unlimited amounts of money to fund any program really consistent with a free society? I don't expect answers from the fake libertarians (or the attention of the coloring book conservatives) -- but it's interesting to consider when reading the garbage spewed all over the web by these clowns.

Finally, according to Stromberg, Rothbard categorized war and peace thusly:
Peace -- the State is only aggressing against its own people -- vertical violence.

War -- one political class using the State to aggress against another State, its political class and citizens -- horizontal violence.
Well now that you put it that way...


Political scientists love to talk about "stability." This obsession seems to mirror economists' blind devotion to the concept of "equilibrium." Stability is characterized -- as best I can decipher -- as a lack of change in the political regime. I am reminded of this as the CSM tell us that Putin provides Russia with stability. Clearly, stability is not an intrinsically positive characteristic, for one could easily imagine a stable equilibrium political situation (Russia) which is not necessarily rooted in the principles of a free society. In that case, the political scientists' focus on the importance of stability seems an incredibly dumb activity. Please extend this idea to politicians emphasizing the need for stability in Iraq.
"This moment in Iraq is a moment of truth," Kerry said. "Not just for this administration, the country, the Iraqi people, but for the world. This may be our last chance to get this right. We need to put pride aside to build a stable Iraq. We must reclaim our country's standing in the world by doing what has kept America safe and made it more secure before — leading in a way that brings others to us so that we are respected, not simply feared, around the globe."
Just for fun, take note of how many times you see the stability phrase repeated by politicians, intellectuals and the media (bloggers included, of course).



No democratic utopia. What the heck do you warmongers have left to hope for in Iraq?
President Bush has called Iraq the central front in the war on terror and his "world democratic revolution." He is now wagering the success of both causes on an Iraqi police and army that have yet to show any of the willingness to fight exhibited by the insurgents in Fallujah or the militia of Al Sadr.

The neoconservative dream was to create a pro-American, free-market democracy in Iraq to serve as a model and catalyst for Arab peoples and convert Iraq into a base camp of American Empire, flanking Iran and Syria. It was to bring to power an Iraqi DeGaulle named Ahmed Chalabi, who would recognize Israel, build a Mosul-to-Haifa oil pipeline and become the Simon Bolivar of the Middle East.

That utopian vision has vanished. President Bush has rejoined the realist camp. We are not going deeper in. We are on the way out.


The Libertarian Party nominates Michael Badnarik. Sadly, it seems very few LP Party members visit this site.

Sunday, May 30, 2004


Drudge reports! See my previous comments on the great Shrek 2. Down with the nutty watermelons (Walter Block's term for the enviro-commies, green on the outside and red on the inside...)!


I subscribe to the The New York Times Sunday edition. Contrary to many on "the right," I find it a delightful read for the most part. On a Sunday morning, armed with a cup of coffee, I sit at a little coffee shop across from the beach and quickly flip through to my favorite starting point -- the Magazine. William Safire's On Language column is always somewhat interesting, and today is no exception. He writes:
Thus, "brown is the new black," as used above, meant the culture of people with the brown skin color of South Asians is now as popular, or even "hotter," than that of the culture of black-skinned people -- in the estimation of with-it whites, especially in Britain.

Now to the fashion origin of the new black. Start with the universally accepted notion that black is basic. Hems may rise and fall (or do both asymmetrically), and feather boas may come into vogue or go out, but black -- optically destitute of any color -- just keeps rolling along. When its fashion dominance lasts too long, however, and the whole couture world looks as if it is on its way to a funeral, something new is desired. In 1983, Suzy Menkes, then of The Times of London, wrote, "Charcoal gray is used everywhere as the new black with occasional splashes of red and green." A year later, Nina Hyde of The Washington Post quoted the textile and color specialist Elaine Flowers: "There is a tremendous range to the color brown. It is the new black."

Reached in Paris, where she now holds sway as a columnist for The International Herald Tribune, Menkes says: "I didn't realize that I set off this neophiliac fashion trend! I think of the seminal moment as Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, known, like all Japanese designers, for her black shrouds, announcing, 'Red is the new black,' probably in the mid-1990's. Since then, it has become a fashion cliche." (I cannot let neophiliac go by: it is a useful word coined in 1942 for "one who believes that every change is an improvement.")
Friends, at this point, just let me point out that in So Cal, I've heard the new black used to refer to the new group to be persecuted (Mexicans, Asians, gays, ex-boy band members, etc.), so I found Safire's explanation of the term refreshing. Also, his brief comment on neophiliac provides another excuse to bash the many webbed libertarians who are fond of praising the "progress" and "innovations" of mankind and ask absurd questions like, "Are you in favor of stability or change?"

Saturday, May 29, 2004


There are things kids say that don't exactly disturb me now that I am 80, but things that make me wonder what they are learning. They use the word "like" all the time. My beloved teenagers can't say a sentence without saying "like."
teach his own kid how to string together a sentence before complaining about, like, the problems with the rest of the world. Like, totally.

Libertarianism in One Sentence

"Other people are not your property," writes Roderick Long:
In other words: They are not yours to boss around. Their lives are not yours to micromanage. The fruits of their labors are not yours to dispose of.

It doesn't matter how wise or marvelous or useful it would be for other people to do whatever it is you'd like them to do. It is none of your business whether they wear their seatbelts, worship the right god, have sex with the wrong people, or engage in market transactions that irritate you. Their choices are not yours to direct. They are human beings like yourself, your equals under Natural Law. You possess no legitimate authority over them. As long as they do not themselves step over the line and start treating other people as their property, you have no moral basis for initiating violence against them - or for authorizing anyone else to do so on your behalf.


I suggest that the phrase "Other people are not your property," and variations thereon, might be a more useful tool of intellectual debate than some of the other slogans we more commonly use. Why not meet every new proposal to force people to do this or that with the protest "But you don't own them," "But they're not your property"? At least this would reduce the issue to its essence.
I like the idea, except that I don't know if it slams the door -- once and for all -- on the pro-war "libertarians" who insist on using other people as property and other peoples' property to promote the idea that "others are not your property" in places like, say, Iraq (because Saddam was using other people as property).


I popped into Target the other day to pick up a few items. (Don't ask what "type" of items -- that's personal.) As I'm strolling down an aisle, I catch a glimpse of a lady scanning all of the prices into a mini-computer. She's wearing a shirt that reads: "Wal-Mart." (Remember, we are in Target.) So, of course, I go up to her:

: What are you doing?
LADY: What?
LJ: Are Wal-Mart's prices lower than Target's (in a really loud voice, attracting the attention of a Target employee and several fellow shoppers)
LADY: (Quietly) Well, they are already and they will be much lower by tomorrow.
LJ: (Loudly) Ha! Ha! That's brilliant! I didn't know Wal-Mart did this kind of market research. I'm off to Wal-Mart. Who is with me?

I left Target (after tempting several other shoppers to abandon ship as well) and went straight to the nearest Wal-Mart where I found the specific product I was looking for was 50 cents cheaper. Cha-ching! A penny saved is a penny earned, I always say. I'm happy with my purchase.


The father-in-law to Clarence Thomas can't fly his flag due to apartment restrictions. Score one for freedom!


One man's take: "And I don't think "slave" is too strong a word to describe someone who is not permitted to quit his job no matter how dangerous it becomes or how much he hates it."

Here's Goldberg's response. Certainly recruits enlist because of the alleged benefits -- education, money, fame, girls in every port, all, no doubt, sweetened up by the "recruiters" -- the problem is they get sent to places like Fallujah. I'm not sure what the "contract" says, but this brings up another interesting debate libertarians love to engage in: under libertarian principles, can you sell yourself into slavery? In a live debate format, I witnessed Walter Block argue "yes" and and Hans Hoppe argue "no." (Another question: if your boss decides to send you to Antartica for a year, can you dissent and quit your job? Can a military man do the same without severe penalty?)

Final note: I ran into a kid I knew in high school at Best Buy a few weeks back. He was being shipped out to Iraq and explained his reasons for enlisting: a) "to shoot f**king Iraqis in the f**king face" and b) "bring home their ears." Such a nice young man.

Thanks to Antiwar's Blog!

UPDATE: Another opinion on the slavery article: "As a general rule, if you're induced by a false representation to enter into a contract, you can get out of the contract. Should soldiers be entitled to ditch the military when they realize they've been sold a boat that doesn't float?"

Friday, May 28, 2004


This is not free trade.
After a very stupid decision to slap tariffs on imported steel, the Bush administration is actually promoting free trade with the Central America Free Trade Agreement. John Kerry, unions, environmentalists, and Pat Buchanan paleoconservatives will not be pleased.
It's politically managed trade. It's promoting more statism, not more freedom. Property owners do not need a massive government treaty and bureaucracy in order to facilitate mutually advantageous exchanges.


to Professor Beito at the Liberty & Power blog for noticing Liberty & Power is one of the best blogs out there so click on over daily if you don't already do so. Also, please note that the Libertarian Jackass is no longer "anonymous."


A middle school student received the "Crybaby" award from his coach for "always pleading to get into games." Of course, you can't call a kid a crybaby when he is, in fact, a crybaby. But, giving him an award for it? That takes guts. I never came off the bench during middle school, but I was just as annoyed as this coach with the tantrums thrown by inferior athletes. One more thing: parents should be banned from attending youth sporting events. Yes, banned. They ruin the experience.


"Our cartoons have learned to use violence to promote the greater good."
Little boys are aggressive, not because their cartoons make them so, but because their Creator saturated them in testosterone. Is ham-fisted state-sponsored nannying the only way to make citizens out of the little hooligans?
Learned? And what is the greater good?


When I lived outside of the U.S. a few years ago, I found it useful (especially in Northern Africa) to tell people that I was from Germany or Canada. This was before the Bush regime, so I imagine conditions have deteriorated a bit. So, for those of you headed abroad, here is a guide to insulting people around the world.


It's true. Gary Payton never stops running his mouth. Britney wants Luke Walton. Shaq thinks he should be the GM. Devean George rakes in 5 million a year to throw bad passes, hack players and then giggle about it for the cameras. Rick Fox has a perm. Why do we love the Lakers? Because it's not just a sport, it's entertainment. And in this article, what the heck is Gary thinking rambling on about how Kobe might go to jail? Hasn't he heard about the text messages the "accuser" sent out?

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Yeah, you know the story. He plays the final game of the year, sacks the quarterback and becomes a hero. Now he's answering questions on the White House Website. Here's one answer I thought was nice: "They had the experience of a lifetime and I got to feel the pride of giving it to them."


Thanks to Carl for another great find.


Someone help me out here: did the U.S. ever officially declare war? Please advise. Further, regarding the list of wars involving the United States, which were legitimate from a principled libertarian position? The War of Independence? Be sure to check the numbers on the crimes against humanity that made up the "War Between The States."


Are American (neo)conservatives projecting their own repressed homosexuality onto the Arabs they "love" to sexually abuse? Of course! Brian Whitaker explains in a look at "The Arab Mind." An exerpt:
There is a lot wrong with The Arab Mind apart from its racism: the title, for a start. Although the Arab countries certainly have their distinctive characteristics, the idea that 200 million people, from Morocco to the Gulf, living in rural villages, urban metropolises and (very rarely these days) desert tents, think with some sort of single, collective mind is utterly ridiculous.

The result is a collection of outrageously broad - and often suspect - generalisations. Patai asserts, for example, that Arabs "hate" the west.

He backs up this claim with two quotations: one from a book published in the mid-50s ("Most westerners have simply no inkling of how deep and fierce is the hate, especially of the west, that has gripped the modernising Arab"), and another from Bernard Lewis - currently the neocons' favourite historian - referring to the mood of "many, if not most Arabs" in 1955 (just before the Suez crisis).

We are also informed (page 144) of "the Arab view that masturbation is far more shameful than visiting prostitutes".

Whether this is why Iraqi prisoners were forced to masturbate in front of cameras is unclear, but the only supporting evidence for Patai's claim is a survey of Arab and US students published in 1954: the US students admitted to masturbating twice as often as the Arabs, while 59% of the Arabs, but only 28% of the Americans, said they had visited a prostitute during the previous 12 months.

In "outlying areas", such as Siwa oasis in Egypt, Patai says, "homosexuality is the rule, and practised completely in the open". This unequivocal statement is based on accounts dating from 1935, 1936 and 1950, and, in a footnote, Patai concedes that they "need to be checked out by an anthropologically trained observer".

There is also a good deal of confusion in the book between the present and the past. An Arab man, Patai writes, even if he has four wives, "can have sexual relations with concubines (slave girls whom he owns)".

All this adds up to an overwhelmingly negative picture of the Arabs. Positive characteristics are mentioned, but are given relatively short shrift.

Hospitality and generosity - two highly regarded virtues in Arab societies - get three and one and a half pages respectively, compared with a whole chapter devoted to alleged sexual hang-ups.
Now we begin to see why the neoconservatives continue to push for extermination and social re-engineering in the Middle East...


I abandoned the web surfing for a bit to go real surfing with my brother yesterday afternoon. The conditions were horrible (1 to 3 ft.), but I enjoyed watching the sun dip below the ocean from out on the water. Isn't it great to live in, not only California, but the Land of the Free?


Sure, it sounds like a wonderful idea, Gregg, just raise the gas tax and reduce gasoline consumption, traffic congestion and environmental degradation! This article provides a few key lessons in public policy decision-making problems. Gregg insists that the country would be better off today if we had adopted a 50 cent per gallon tax that Kerry supported in 1994. Problem one: how do you measure "better off" and, more importantly, better off for whom? (He also admits that those industries affected by changes in demand for gas might be adversely impacted, but oh well!). Next, Gregg makes a flurry of wild, unsubstantiated claims about how world oil prices would now be lower, Persian Gulf states would have less of an influence on U.S. policies, global warming would be less of a threat, etc. Problem two: Proving such claims. Just because you jack up the gas prices, the rest do not necessarily follow.

At this point, Gregg asks the reader, "Don't all those things sound pretty good?" Quite frankly, Gregg, you sound like a jerk. But let's move on. He tries to pass this one off on the reader: "Ideally, proceeds from a revenue-neutral gasoline tax could be used to reduce income taxes and payroll taxes of the poor and lower middle class."

What does revenue-neutral mean? And what's so great about creating a tax on a consumption good, which means regressive taxation on the less fortunate members of society? Problem three: bad economic reasoning used to justify a public policy idea. We've tackled the economics of a general gas sales tax here before. In short, a sales tax does not simply mean the consumer pays 50 cents on top of the market price of gas at the pump. We trace out a summary of what is not seen in that previous post. There is nothing "neutral" about the tax. Ultimately, the tax is "paid" through the income of gasoline producers.

His last resort: telling us Greg Mankiw supported the policy. Who cares?

UPDATE: See also this previous post on Easterbrook.Calling Cards



Punch the Bag clown found an LJ post where we labeled him a clown. Yes, you are a clown if the best argument you can bring to the table is that the Democrats want to lose the War on Terror. Only Republican politicians really want to win the war! Of course!

As a pacifist, I don't think violence is ever an effective means to achieve a valued end. What's more, how can you fight a war on a metaphor? The potential for evil exists within each human being, and perpetuating more violence will certainly not erase this characteristic of human nature. See my most recent thoughts on the war on terrorism (bottom of the post).

Finally, please note that Punch still refuses to accept my invitation to enlist and fight in the war he feels is so important to the survival of our civilization. At the very least he could take a job inIraq "building democracy."


The LJ blogroll is undergoing a few changes. I use the blogroll (along with an aggregator) as a tool for tracking news and commentary, not necessarily as a service for the reader. So I've eliminated some blogs I don't get to enough and am in the process or re-organizing the list to better serve my needs. Still, if you do not appear on the blogroll and feel the desire to be listed in such fine company, email Ashley: RE-MOOVEashley at libertarianjackass dot com.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


An ex-conservative, that is. But, be honest, is the difference really so large, especially when we speak of the degenerate branch of neoconservatives? I think not. Even Milton Friedman doesn't want to be labeled a "conservative"! (Don't tell that to a certain right-wing think tank in the Swamp that boasts pictures of Friedman and Hayek on its walls!) But, Philip Gold, author of "Take Back the Right: How the Neo-Conservatives and Religious Right Have Hijacked the Conservative Movement," makes some great points:
Limited government? Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Big Jess Helms and the rest, for all their hyperventilated rhetoric, couldn't even defund the National Endowment for the Arts. George W. Bush used to speak of "growing the government responsibly." Now it just grows.

Civil liberties? Like limited government, this commitment now resides with the libertarians, a pert little faction composed mostly of people who, when told about something going on in the world, reply, "Yes, but how would it work in theory?" Blessings on the American Civil Liberties Union for its activism and its questioning, and on some right-libertarian single-issue groups. But that's just another way of saying that, like downsizing Leviathan, upgrading freedom is no longer a significant conservative concern.

Seriously lower, majorly simplified taxes? Ask Steve Forbes.

A foreign policy that does not presume the world is ours to remodel and redeem as we please, and that our resources of coercion and control are limitless? Conservatism once cherished a sense of modesty, disdaining attempts to root up societies and force people to be free. But now, according to the imperial conservatives, history begins again with us. The Beltway catchphrase du jour: "Hard Wilsonianism." Perhaps they should study Mr. Wilson, and the mess he made, a bit more closely.

A cultural commitment to tolerance, appreciation of difference and an inviolable private realm? Why are we even asking this question?
But, wait, there's more on the real problem with the conservative movement (neocon or otherwise):
After 30 years, I realized why. Deep down, these people - these people who can be so gracious and so decent in their personal lives - believe that they’ve been deprived of their proper place at the center of the universe. Deep down, they know that, were the world right, everyone would be like them, or at least aspire, or pretend to aspire, to be like them.

Or be compelled to be like them.

Some hate. Others stop at ressentiment. Many would deny that they feel either. But the bitterness of The Sneer too often belies them.

So what went wrong with conservatism? A complex question amenable to a simple answer. It went wrong because it failed and it succeeded. Culturally, it failed utterly to march the country back to an idealized past that never existed. Politically, it failed to implement its traditional agenda.

But it also succeeded. It became Important. Until Reagan, until Gingrich, until the big-money think tanks and media stars, conservatism saw itself as, and was, a minority movement. It still is. But that minority now disposes of a high-viz elite, serious cash and real power.

Power corrupts. It corrupts especially when you’ve got it, but can’t seem to accomplish what you set out to do, and you've jettisoned your ideals somewhere along the way, but can't quite face the fact.

So what's the future of conservatism? It's still fractionated, of course, but this time into sects and subsects of increasingly ugly demeanor. The Birchers and the militias were peripheral. These are not.

Intellectually, there's a two-tier star system. Call it the Senior Usuals and the Brat Pack, a mess of younger pundits and "public intellectuals" not nearly as profound or as clever as they like to think they are, but adept enough at telling the media and the funders what they want to hear the way they want to hear it.
The Brat Pack, a phrase we hereby adopt for use by Libertarian Jackass & Friends in deriding the young, "hip" conservatives: Goldberg, Lowry.

Finally, he claims that "Buchananism" (which attracted the Jackass from a young age after watching Pat take on Bush I) has the "right questions, wrong answers." Maybe, but I'll accept any questioning of the biggest government in the history of the world, something both the right and left fail to make an attempt at presently. Look at this hilarious post from Yglesias as evidence: "I, on the other hand, am quite sympathetic to the aims of the war, given a general description."


"There's millions of 'em?" Well, I don't know about millions, but I'm bored after reading Michelle Malkin's "outrage" over the most recent Swamp sex scandal. Malkin is right about one thing though, Wonkette and Cutler represent this strange breed of women we have to put up with, celebrating the fact that they are, well, sluts ("two vain, young, trash-mouthed skanks who couldn't care less about what their parents think of their sex-drenched infamy"). Is this all these women have to offer? It's the new cool I guess.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


FoxNews Channel prides itself on switching "suicide bombing" to "homicide bombing" in its news coverage. James Taranto points out the problems with this re-wording (scroll down):
So what's wrong with this? Well, as far as we know, Fox uses the term homicide bombing only in reference to bombings in which the bomber kills himself--in other words, as a dysphemism for suicide bombing. Yesterday's item is a case in point. Reporting on an FBI warning that suicide bombers--that is, bombers who take their own lives in the course of murdering others--may strike in the U.S., Fox changed the term to homicide bombers, which obscured the FBI's meaning. Only if you know that homicide is Foxspeak for suicide is Fox's report even comprehensible.

If homicide means "homicide," then homicide bombing is almost always redundant. Consider these three formulations:

1. A bombing killed four people.
2. A homicide bombing killed four people.
3. A suicide bombing killed four people.

The word homicide in version 2 is superfluous, whereas the word suicide in version 3 conveys additional information, namely the method of bombing. And this is the point: Suicide is a method of bombing, not the goal. It is a particularly horrific method, both because suicide is itself horrible and because the suicide bomber, as compared with the bomber who uses a remote control or timing device, can control where and when the bomb goes off and thereby maximize the carnage.

The idea that calling suicide bombing by its proper name somehow diminishes the victims or glorifies the bomber doesn't make sense. When someone murders people by blowing up a car, we call it a car bombing. That doesn't mean the car is more important than the people.


A dream come true for some Californians? Maybe. The movie is showing now in So Cal and the Libertarian Jackass & Friends will take a look at it this evening. More thoughts later on what might be an interesting look at the economic, political and cultural structure of society.


Read this article from Newsmax. Here is the justification for the United States government murdering more Iraqis:
"Keep in mind what we found at the site of the 'wedding party,'" Senor told Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly.

"We found Sudanese passports, we found Syrian currency, we found a stockpile of weapons," he explained. "We found individual phone numbers to Afghanistan, Syria and other countries that often serve as bases for terrorist operations."

Senor said the size of the "wedding party's" weapons cache was so large that it raised questions about whether the group was actually manning a "way station" for terrorists traveling into Iraq.
Syrian currency! Sudanese passports! A stockpile of weapons! Oh my!


on "class warfare" in (possible) interest rate hikes. Yglesias writes:
I think it's time to call "class warfare" here on Chairman Greenspan. The only rationale for the move is that he thinks it's important that inflation stay not very low, but very, very, very low. And the only reason to prefer very low inflation to very, very, very low inflation is a bias in favor of creditors against debtors. Since debtors outnumber creditors by a lot in today's USA, it's hard to construe this bias as operating in the interests of the nation, as opposed to Greenspan and his friends.
Granted inflation does favor the debtor over the creditor and the fact that Yglesias alludes to politics as merely one group imposing its interests on others is praiseworthy, he does not understand the complexity of the issue. "Greenspan and his friends" in the banking system also benefit from "inflation" -- the ability to create and act as the initial recipients of newly created money. Also, the real question here is on which "interests" should we focus? While debtors may benefit through inflation (they have to pay back less in real terms as the purchasing power of the currency falls), do the same debtors benefit through high consumer prices? Is there some optimal rate of inflation? If so, I'd like to see his defense of the rate.

All these matters aside, the funniest part of all this is how much time is spent taking Greenspan and monetary policy seriously! Let me tell you what monetary policy (in the general sense) consists of: a) the production of money or b) imposition of price controls on money. Neither of these paths confer a net benefit to society. Printing paper tickets does not help create real wealth (except maybe accidentally, but then there would be no need for a coordinated policy) and price controls merely favor one interest group at the expense of another. (See this paper for an in-depth treatment of the subject.)

The fact that analysts, pundits and now bloggers are dreaming up posts on optimal monetary policy is beyond funny.


Just as Nader calls for the impeachment of President George W. Bush for sending thousands to their deaths based on "false pretenses," here's one idea for stirring up trouble in the 2004 Presidential election:
Why the Time is Ripe for an LP/Nader Anti-War Fusion Candidacy
Both for tactical and strategic reasons, Nader is the man to go to in 2004

With the approach of the Libertarian Party national convention Memorial Day weekend, the party has a chance to gain national influence and prominence in the 2004 presidential campaign. How? By nominating the only fiercely anti-war, pro-civil liberties candidate with national clout, Ralph Nader, as its 2004 presidential candidate. Mr. Nader for his part will have to agree that his running mate be selected by the LP. But it's a win-win situation. Nader gets what he wants, namely, access to a majority, if not all, state ballots. And the LP gets one of its own as the vice presidential candidate with national standing and odds-on access to the vice presidential debates. If the LP is to survive and thrive, it must orchestrate a campaign of tactical emphasis that puts the Libertarian Party in the thick of the fight for a sane foreign policy, by attracting the growing ranks of anti-war voters. Its candidate must have the national gravitas, and that is exactly what Ralph Nader would give the party in the 2004 election. Nominating Nader, who has already drawn the endorsement of the Reform Party, would result in a national political earthquake that would roil the war party.

Selection of the traditional LP presidential ticket from within the ranks, will guarantee the party an asterisk, relegated once again by the national media who will focus like lasers on Bush and Kerry. Like a crazed aunt, a traditional LP ticket without a national stage and its candidates extremely low on funds, will be assigned to the electoral basement, once again out of sight and out of mind of the vast majority of voters.

To be sure, in a fusion candidacy, that is sure to draw from independents, third party supporters, and undoubtedly attract the growing ranks of disaffected republican and democratic voters, Mr. Nader is no doctrinaire libertarian on every issue. He does not need to be, except where it counts on the most pressing national issues.

Mr. Nader is overwhelmingly libertarian when it comes to war and the debacle in Iraq. Nader is supremely libertarian, second to none, when it comes to civil liberties and the pathetic Patriot Acts. And Nader is superbly libertarian when it comes to the decades long and disastrous drug war and the corrosive effects upon personal responsibilities and freedoms.

Remarkably, Nader and the LP cross paths on the most important libertarian bedrock fundament, and already one of the most critical issues of the 2004 election, the War inIraq . With the war party gearing up for Syria and Iran it will of necessity have to gear up the draft, if it hopes to social engineer Damascus and Teheran. With no chance of the LP capturing the White House in 2004, the strategic LP political fight is about the totally unnecessaryIraq war and focusing the national debate through third party positioning and muscle flexing.

But more importantly for the LP, a Nader/LP ticket would generate immeasurable quantities of PR, translating into a surge of new interest, donations, energy and excitement, and respect, which could only serve to catapult the LP into a more viable and politically acceptable national party. A threshold of which the LP has never approached in its three decades existence.

To be sure, Team Bush is going to want Nader, like never before, in the presidential debates in hopes of splitting democratic voters and walking away with the election. With Bush tanking in the polls, it would amount to political suicide if they don't include Nader. And in the vice-presidential debates, a LP vice presidential candidate for the first time in history would be pitted against Cheney and the Democrat candidate.

If the Libertarian National Committee can embrace the pro-war, pro-Bush, nationally syndicated talk-show radio host, Neal Boortz, who identifies himself as an LP member, while daily urging his national radio audience to cast their vote for Bush, the LP could do no harm by embracing the fiercely anti-war, anti-Patriot Act, and anti-drug war, Ralph Nader as this year's presidential nominee. In this instance, any crying wolf about a LP sell-out ring cynically hollow.

Finally, after more than 30 years in the political wilderness, the LP has a singularly historic chance to vault itself into the ranks of national respectability. If the LP proceeds this election year as in years past, as just another exercise in voter education and outreach, then the party may very well be staring into its own abyss. The time for the LP to step out of the comfort zone of low national expectations is now.

Paul Farris
Austin, Tx

Mr. Farris, a long-haul Teamster by night, holds a masters degree in international relations form Boston U, is a veteran of Gulf War I, a Libertarian Party activist and was a LP Congressional candidate in 2002.
UDPATE: In response to a few reader emails, let me say that I am interested in this Nader scenario not as a political means to increasing freedom (economic or otherwise). I don't vote nor do I think meaningful change comes through politics. Also, those supporting Kerry only as a means to dethrone Bush, I think, are misguided. If nothing can be achieved politically, the best we can hope for is a) the entertainment value of watching the Establishment candidates (both pro-war) squirm and b) promoting an anti-war message, which I think is much more important in the long run than a simple anti-Bush message.

Monday, May 24, 2004


Sports fan or not, you need to check out this Hunter Thompson column, which has gained worldwide notoriety after a Drudge link exposed the original content. He identifies the real problem with the 2004 Lakers (Malone and Payton, not Kobe), creatively characterizes Denver police officers ("steroid-crazed brutes with badges") and declares, "Now I am really ashamed to carry an American passport," in response to the U.S.-sponsored Iraqi prison torture crimes. Criticizing the American empire is not just reserved for Hollywood movies anymore.


sliding, Bush goes on television to reassure the nation. I have no idea what the Bushites plan to accomplish with lines like this one: "History is moving, and it will tend toward hope or tend toward tragedy..."

Isn't that like saying, "Hell, anything could happen"? Here's an idea: If Bush's handlers had any clue at all, they'd simply (once again) declare victory inIraq, pull out all the U.S. troops and come home, taking the number campaign issue right off the table.

In honor of this brilliant Bush speech, I point the reader to a relatively new "The Top Ten Conservative Idiots" list, which I missed and you may have, too. We don't agree with the entire list, but it sure is fun to take shots at the current players in the conservative movement. Will Bush's speech writers make the list next time?


about big business.

"Wal-Mart presents itself as an entrepreneurial success story, yet over a few decades it has made extensive use of tax breaks, free land, cash grants and other forms of public assistance," Philip Mattera, research director of Good Jobs First said in a statement.

The study, which is funded in part by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, found that 91 Wal-Mart stores have received individual subsidies ranging from $1 million to about $12 million, in the form of free or reduced-priced land, job training funds, sales tax rebates, tax credits and infrastructure assistance, including investment in roads.

In total, these subsidies amounted to $245 million, the report said.

Separately, the report found that 84 of Wal-Mart's distribution centers received an average of $7.4 million in subsidies, totaling about $624 million. Additionally, a database search for tax-exempt bonds issued by state and local authorities indicated that another 69 Wal-Mart stores received other low-cost financing of about $138 million

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams said the group was "shooting itself in the foot" with the report.



That's the rumor started here. Look for the June 7th edition of The American Conservative magazine, available on newsstands everywhere! Also, thanks to the fine folks at for linking to and plugging the TAC article!


Shrek 2 beats Shrek hands down, complete with (what else?) a "Knight" (police) brutality scene and a King (government) bent on killing the husband of the princess. The plot is a bit odd in my opinion (what's up with Antonio Banderas and his metrosexual Zoro/cat character?), but the jokes and the movie/music references easily make it a funnier movie than the original. But, without the original, do we have a Shrek 2? Ponder that question all day if you like. Strangely, the "Far, Far Away" kingdom in the movie also enjoys a well-developed economy: Starbucks Coffee shops, a Fairy God Mother with a factory producing magic spells for the masses and a burgeoning limo-sized horse-drawn carriage industry. Oh, and "Far, Far Away" Kingdom does not appear to be a democracy, which any sensible person knows is not a necessary condition for economic development.

Sunday, May 23, 2004


The New York Times magazine profiles Ryan Seacrest, providing an interesting look at one man's ambition, drive and work ethic. Favorite quote:
I haven't built a company," he said. "I haven't created television at the level I want. I want to reinvent. I want back-end ownership. I want the next big thing. I feel guilt if I sleep past 7'o clock. I think someone else is using those hours to hustle, and it should be me." And then: "Honestly, I worry about myself sometimes. I wonder what will ever be enough."

I feel the same way after 7am.

UPDATE: As if you needed another reason to hate American Idol and its 27 million loser viewers . . .


IS GOING TO MAKE ANOTHER prime-time television appearance to present made-up excuses for continuing U.S. involvement in the Iraq disaster. Bring popcorn and prepare for a few good laughs.


I gather from reading Mark Steyn's latest piece that, even though 95 percent of Iraq is problem-free, Iraqis aren't civilized enough to "govern themselves." Why is it that only the U.S. (and parts of "New Europe," of course) is capable of governing itself? Must be something in the water.

Newsflash: the Iraqis will never govern themselves. They are governed by others. You hear a similar phrase from the American yahoos praising the U.S. for it's right to "self-government." Oh yeah, what a great country we live in, I pulled myself over and issued two speeding tickets in the last six months alone! Plus, I kick myself out of bars at 1:30am here in LA. Oh, and can't forget the nearly 40 percent of income in taxes I contribute to my own "self-government." The whole concept is so ridiculous, anyone advancing such childish notions about the reality of the world should be sent to the room with padded walls. We don't rule ourselves, we are ruled by agents of a mafia-like regime. Regardless of the Iraqis right to raise their hands during a boring town hall meeting, they will be ruled by a similar regime.


My guess is that this website was built on the assumption that the lunatic bin Laden would vote for Kerry. With hundreds of thousands of troops and hundreds of millions of dollars diverted to the Iraq war, why can't we say that Bush is easy on bin Laden?


Check out Frank Rich's column in today's NYTimes. He talks about Michael Moore's new film -- Fahrenheit 911 -- and Bush's juvenile antics in the moments before addressing the nation about the war in Iraq. More:
In "Fahrenheit 9/11," we see the actual dying, of American troops and Iraqi civilians alike, with all the ripped flesh and spilled guts that the violence of war entails. (If Steven Spielberg can simulate World War II carnage in "Saving Private Ryan," it's hard to argue that the reality in a present-day war.) We also see some of the 4,000-plus American casualties: those troops hidden away in clinics at Walter Reed and at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital in Fort Campbell, Ky., where they try to cope with nerve damage and multiple severed limbs.
To the Moore critics: yes, the man is big and goofy, but if you can't stomach the reality of war from the comfort of your plush seats at the cinema complex, don't go around praising the U.S. role in Iraq. If Moore presents the footage of what's really going on, I'll be forced to label him "a hero."

Thursday, May 20, 2004



The U.S. is the new Saddam. And, more importantly as far as I'm concerned, what the hell is Paul Volcker doing running an "independent investigation" for the United Nations? Is the United Nations actually a separate organization or just another pawn in the U.S. government's global arsenal?


Yglesias has his best comment in months on the sarin discovery: "Besides, the mere fact that the right wing wants to talk about an artillery shell filled with nerve gas is the clearest sign of desperation."

Bingo, the discovery of WMDs -- weapons of minimal destruction -- marks another pathetic attempt to justify an invasion. Do Americans really buy these shifting excuses (liberation, democratization, weapons, anticipatory defense, etc)? The only mystery remaining is why observable support for the Bush regime still exists in such numbers.

Monday, May 17, 2004


The Libertarian Jackass "movement" continues to build momentum, as evidenced by this stunning endorsement from our friend at Functional Ambivalent: "OK, he's a libertarian, which is conservative but without the desire to round up homosexuals and put them in cages. More importantly, he's conservative without being either whiney about how discriminated against conservatives are or smug because conservatives pretty much rule the world."

Granted, homosexuals are free to enjoy themselves (and others as the case may be), but is LJ really a conservative? Gasp! In truth, during this site's creation, it was the intent of the Founders to spend plenty of time bashing so-called libertarians and other assorted right-wing weirdos. I think we provide a healthy dose of that diet for our readers, PLUS we easily out-flank all contenders on the freedom front. Most libertarians infesting the internet are libertarians for the same reason kids colored their hair or wore trench coats at your public high school--to rebel against other ridiculous groups and get attention. (Actually, in So Cal recently, I've noticed a new trend in the attention-whore department: girls carrying their little pet dogs around in handbags. Some even decorate their pets with jewelry. This is usually and indication of two things: a) that only a dog appreciates your personality and b) you didn't get to play enough with a Barbie Doll as a child, or, worse, you have the same intellectual capacity as a child. Grow up and get a life.)

I must confess. I am really a conservative. In order to be the most sanely radical, one must embrace a "permanent ideal."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


I love the fact that I ended up at this John Kerry donation page by clicking on a banner ad on Drudge. Who says Drudge has an agenda? Speaking of Kerry, how did I ever miss this clown's appearance in Los Angeles today?

The Kerry blog also wants to know: what happened to the "Winning the War on Terror" tour? I wish the Kerry blog would create a post titled: "How do you wage a war on terror?"


All but three surveillance requests approved? No rubber stamp here. Naturally, the government seeks to expand its grip on society. The U.S. government is already advancing its technological capabilities in order to keep tabs on us all. Of course, I'm sure one of you warmongers out there will have a brilliant post on "what the Constitution really means, " "Why do libertarians get so worked up over the PATRIOT Act?" or "the need to give up a few minor freedoms (i.e. our money and our lives) in order to protect our children and our future."


As you may or may not know, today is "Cinco de Mayo." In Southern California, that's basically the functional equivalent of St. Paddy's Day in terms of celebratory madness. In short, lots of people celebrate it without the slightest idea why. Here's our friend Christiana on this special holiday:
a) It's not mexican independence day and b) from what i know it was semi-fabricated to give the mex-american kids in LA schools something to celebrate because lots of other cultures had heritage related days (st. paddy's, etc). and the actual mex independence day was in september - already taken up by labor day. or, c) it was a brilliant move by the liquor and beer industry to get kids thinking about boozing holidays really early in life (st. paddy's day, etc).
Sound about right? Plus, she tells us that Los Angeles actually has a cultural life! I thought it was just Sunset Blvd.


Great post here on the struggles of the upstart radio network. If, by chance, any Air America execs are trolling the blogosphere, here's a suggestion: draft the Libertarian Jackass for a radio program.


A reader writes in to point to this article in the Washington Monthly. His comments:
Here's a link to an article that takes using the past to predict the future into a very silly territory, arguing that because of some mysterious Geist of history -- "elections are referenda on incumbents" or whatever -- that Bush will lose. Because some other incumbents lost before him. Actually, what little data the author provides suggests he may be right in his contention that the election will be a blow-out one way or another, but I suspect it'll be a Bush blowout, with the president winning by a large margin in the electoral college but only by a narrow margin of actual voters in contested states. (You see what I mean; he can win PA or FL by just a handful of votes and his electoral college total will swell quite nicely.) Why do I say this? Because Kerry is no Reagan or Clinton, both of whom were pretty good campaigners, and he's no Carter '76, either.


especially those in high places, but also those striving for high places--to grasp a simple truth: "The United States does not belong in Iraq." Howard Zinn rips to shreds the Iraqi occupation and also notes that John Kerry is not an alternative to Bush. "We need a peace President," writes Zinn.

UPDATE: "IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY?" Tim Sandefur (read through the entire post)questions a recent LJ post. Mr. Sandefur: It wasn't supposed to be funny, it was funny. Actually, it was just a pointer to his post, which basically says that Bush's crimes in Iraq (through his agents, the U.S. soldiers) are less evil than the crimes committed by Saddam and his agents. Unfortunately, I think that's a bit like tallying up a murderer's victims and pronouncing him "more evil" than the second place finisher. Whatever makes you happy. (Of course, remember the second murderer did it all in the name of "freedom" and "security").

Mr. Sandefur also commented in his original post: "Had we followed the doctrines laid down by Mr. Neale, and done nothing, Saddam Hussein would today still be torturing people into submission." First, the U.S. did "something" for many years: they supported the Iraqi regime. But, putting that aside, was Saddam a threat to American liberty or just a nasty dictator? Why should one government (the U.S.) coerce its people into overthrowing another government (Iraq)? Plenty of repressive regimes exist throughout the world, when will we take those down? Is it written in the sacred U.S. Constitution: "American people must sacrifice blood and treasure to free the world from dictators"?

Also, as I've alluded to above, Saddam was not the entire Iraqi regime. How did he ever commit all those acts of torture by himself? Must have been a busy guy. To say "we got rid of Saddam" and therefore the Iraqis are free of oppression is ridiculous. Thousands of willing participants made up Saddam's regime. A tyrant cannot rule through torture alone. Taking out "Saddam" did little to promote the freedom and security Mr. Sandefur so dearly cherishes. Remember, former Baathist leaders may be recruited for key roles in "stabilizing" Iraq.

More Sandefur: "And unthinking hostility to American military involvement is utterly irresponsible and dangerous to the security and liberty of the world's people. For example, the American military kept the world free from the domination of the greatest evil ever known to our species--Soviet communism. In the meantime it did some awful things."

Maybe you spent too much time listening to Rush Limbaugh in junior high (don't worry, I was listening, too), but "communism" is not a viable economic system! It did not need to be combatted by U.S. Cold War statism. It will always devolve into chaos and fail. More violence and statism is not the answer to every variant of evil statism.

Finally, contrary to Mr. Sandefur's passionate plea to support more violence in the world in defense of "our posterity," I think it's this type of undying love and devotion for the U.S. State (or any State) which is the greatest threat to human liberty and security.


You rightwing wackos need to get your story straight. On the one hand you tout the President's policies as helping the economy. Then, you say the President really has no power over the economy (a position I happen to endorse, for the most part). One more comment: what is the "economy"? Is this some sort of organism? In truth, there really is nothing more than a network of individual exchanges to which we lazily apply the metaphor, "economy."


Let's get something straight here, folks: this entire war is a form of torture. The war itself is a massive criminal enterprise. Don't get too caught up in the horrific details.

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