Libertarians And The Abandoment of George Bush

John Fund of The Wall Street Journal reviews the new book Radicals for Capitalism on libertarians. I haven’t read the book yet and therefore can’t comment on the value of this as a review. There is one paragraph which I do find worth commenting on:

Today, pollsters find only 2% of people refer to themselves as libertarians, but some 15% of voters hold broadly libertarian views and can be a swing factor. In the photo-finish presidential race of 2000, some 72% of libertarian-minded voters supported George W. Bush. Last November, many of them abandoned the GOP, disillusioned by its profligate ways, and helped hand control of Congress to Democrats.

I certainly agree with the start of the paragraph. I have often discussed the growing importance of socially liberal and fiscally conservative voters who “hold broadly libertarian views.” The loss of such libertarian minded voters was one factor in Bush’s loss, but I suspect Fund is projecting the viewpoint of the Wall Street Journal in this interpretation. Bush’s spending was a factor, but there were so many other actions from Republicans which should be intolerable to anyone with libertarian leanings. These include the war, his record on civil liberties, increased government secrecy, his erosion of checks and balances on executive power, his erosion of separation of church and state, increased government intrusion in private matters as highlighted in the Terri Schiavo case, use of gay marriage as a wedge issue, and his opposition to abortion rights.

For years many libertarians have concentrated on economic issues ignoring Republican views on other issues, and failing to recognize that Republican corporate welfare is a perversion of capitalism. Many are finally beginning to realize that modern conservativism is an authoritarian movement which has nothing to offer libertarians.

Related Stories:

The Delusion of Republican Libertarians
David Friedman on Libertarians vs. Big Government Republicans
James Watson Calls Bush a “Piece of Shit”
Libertarian Ideas and Liberals
Libertarians vs. Liberals on Taxation and Entitlements
Liberaltarians: Liberals and Libertarians Uniting
Reason’s Challenge to “Libertarian Democrats”
The Effect of Libertarian Voters
Libertarians as Swing Voters
Libertarian Democrats or Liberalism Reborn
Republicans and Big Government
Liberals, Classical Liberals, and Libertarians
South Park Republicans Rebelling Against GOP
Victory in Suburbia
Monkey in the Middle

Puritans Win Again–Playboy Model Demoted By Air Force

Last week we found that money form strippers wasn’t good enough for those raising money to fight cancer. Now we find that, despite a serious shortage of personnel willing to serve in the armed forces, posing for Playboy disqualifies an Air Force Sergeant. The BBC reports:

A US Air Force sergeant who posed nude for Playboy magazine has been removed from active duty and demoted.

The move reverts Michelle Manhart to air national guard status, a move which has prompted her resignation, she says.

“I’m disappointed in our system. They went too far with it,” she told the Associated Press news agency.

Ms Manhart appeared in the Playboy’s February edition in a range of poses, some in uniform and striking a military pose, others while naked.

Ms Manhart had been a member of the Iowa air national guard before going on extended active duty with the air force.

In January, Ms Manhart was suspended from duties while an investigation into the incident was carried out.

At the time the air force released a statement saying that her actions did not “meet the high standards we expect of our airmen”.

However, Ms Manhart defended her decision to pose for the magazine, pointing out that she had served her country since 1994.

So this did not “meet the high standards we expect of our airmen.” Something sounds wrong with that argument which would be apparent if they had looked at the pictures.

Posted in In The News. Tags: , . 2 Comments »

Republican Principles and The New Social Conservativism

Many Democratic observers of the Republican race have argued that Rudy Giuliani cannot win because he is a social liberal. While it is far too early to predict the ultimate winner, I would not write Giuliani off. Those who think that the Republicans are a pack of far right social conservative ideologues are, in a sense, giving the Republicans too much credit. They assume that the Republicans hold principles, when ultimately their real concerns are power and paying lower taxes.

We’ve already seen how little conservative principles mean when Republicans are in power. They talk of small government but cause the government to grow far more than it would under Democrats. They speak of getting the government off our backs while allowing the government to become more intrusive in individual’s lives. They claim to support the free market while pursuing a system of corporate welfare which Adam Smith would hardly recognize as capitalism. They claimed they would fight terrorism after 9/11 (ignoring their failure to respond earlier when urged by Democrats) and then ignored the real threats using 9/11 as an excuse to pursue the neoconservative agenda. Republicans claimed to support state’s rights but ignore this if it means overriding the Florida Supreme Court to prevent a recount which might have made Al Gore President, or if it means overriding a state’s decision to allow for the use of medicinal marijuana.

Republicans may appear to have some adherence to principle at times in economic matters but this is primarily in order to justify lowering their taxes. Any thinking Republican realizes that supply side economics is Voodo Economics. They don’t care as long as it means a lower tax bill. They don’t care any more than they care about the long term damage caused by their deficits.

Another example of how little principles mean to Republicans is seen in The American Spectator. Jennifer Rubin dispenses with the objections to Rudy Giuliani by proclaiming him to be a proponent of “new social conservativism.” She acknowledges where Giuliani differs from the traditional definition of social conservative, but argues that those who question his conservativism are asking the wrong questions:

The better, at least the more interesting, question is whether Giuliani can establish a new description of what it means to be “socially conservative.” Perhaps to be socially conservative means something more than just fidelity to pro-life and anti-gay marriage positions. Giuliani has a convincing argument that he is an ethical or cultural conservative who in the end will protect the values that most conservative Republicans hold dear.

Although Rudy Giuliani disagrees on the specific issues he “will protect the values that most conservative Republicans hold dear.” It was hard to read this without laughing, trying to imagine how Giuliani’s personal life shows him as the protector of any form of conservative values. Ruben avoids this issue by staying away from traditional discussion of values as she explains the section quoted above:

What does this mean? It means that he sees the world as a battle between good and evil, and politics as a struggle between decent hard working people and elites who have too little respect for their values — public safety, respect for religion and public virtue.

It may come as a surprise to readers that the Republicans see themselves as the defender of “decent hard working people” unless she means “hard working” in the sense that George Bush is doing “hard work.” The opposing side is liberal elitists. It comes as no surprise that, after being willing to ignore support for Giuliani’s liberal positions she is reduced to calling the other side “elites” without naming specific differences. This is because the differences between conservativism and liberalism don’t help their cause when spelled out. Modern conservatives back greater government intrusion in individual’s personal lives while liberals support individual liberties. Conservatives support unchecked power in the Executive branch while liberals desire to restore the checks and balances developed by the founding fathers. Conservatives oppose science where it doesn’t fit into their views while liberals are willing to adapt their political views to the real world as described by science. Conservatives claim to be the defenders of religion, but it is separation of church and state, which only liberals defend, which is essential to guarantee freedom of worship for all. Conservatives claim to be supporters of capitalism but erode the system while liberals support a free market system which will remain viable in the global market and preserve the middle class.

In recent years support for social conservative policies was the last remaining area where conservatives appeared to hold any principles (even if the wrong principles). If Giuliani is seen as the candidate most likely to win in a general election we will quickly see more agreeing that Giuliani is a “new social conservative.” Winning is more important and for many Republicans attracting the support of the religious right was simply a matter of political expediency. While I would be happy to see the Republicans abandon their support for conservative social issues, it is also harder to respect them as a party which believes in anything beyond increasing their power.

Olbermann’s Contract Extended Four Years

In 2003 Phil Donahue’s show was cancelled by MSNBC with many believing it was because of the atmosphere which was unfriendly to liberals. In recent years we’ve seen an unprecedented degree of conservative control over the news media, with a serious lack of both objective reporting and liberal commentary. Many feared that Keith Olbermann would not survive long due to the manner in which he has been speaking out against the Bush administration.

Fortunately the political climate has changed in the last few years. NBC News has extended Olbermann’s contract through 2011. MSNBC reports:

“It (Countdown) is obviously an incredibly import franchise for us,” NBC News President Steve Capus said.  “It is something that has really put MSNBC back on the map.”

In addition to his nightly newscast — which counts down the day’s top political and entertainment stories with Olbermman’s signature wit — the MSNBC host will contribute occasional “essays” to the “Nightly News with Brian Williams” and host two “Countdown” specials a year on NBC.

The move to more deeply involve Olbermann, labeled a “liberal hero,” with NBC comes at a time when the network has come under attack by conservatives, particularly Fox News and Bill O’Reilly, for advancing a “liberal” agenda.  Olbermann and O’Reilly, whose shows compete for the same audience at 8 p.m. ET, have been feuding for years.  Olbermann often names O’Reilly the “Worst Person in the World,” a nightly “Countdown” segment which Olbermann turned into a book.

More Blogs In The News

Yesterday I noted a Wall Street Journal article on the signficance of blogs. Blogs are in the news again today.

The most significant article is the New York Times reporting on Firedoglake’s coverage of the Libby Trial:

The perjury trial of I. Lewis Libby Jr., former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, has drawn every major news organization in the country to the federal courthouse in Washington. But none has fielded a bigger team — or was more openly crushed by the defense decision this week not to put Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby on the stand — than

Even the Web-savvy may ask, Fire dog what? A collective of liberal bloggers, fueled by online donations and a fanatical devotion to the intricacies of the Libby case, Firedoglake has offered intensive trial coverage, using some six contributors in rotation. They include a former prosecutor, a current defense lawyer, a Ph.D. business consultant and a movie producer, all of whom lodge at a Washington apartment rented for the duration of the trial.

All day long during the trial, one Firedoglake blogger is on duty to beam to the Web from the courthouse media room a rough, real-time transcript of the testimony. With no audio or video feed permitted, the Firedoglake “live blog” has offered the fullest, fastest public report available. Many mainstream journalists use it to check on the trial. reports on a panel discussion of the role of blogging in politics:

Five experts from the blogging community think their media is already playing a much larger part in swaying, and informing, the American public. The bloggers spoke on Tuesday night at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, located west of the Lied Center.

“They’re changing every aspect of our culture and society, even our politics,” said David D. Perlmutter, associate dean of graduate studies and research in the school of journalism.

The story quotes some of the bloggers, including Jerome Armstrong:

Armstrong said blog readership has already increased 100 times since the 2004 presidential election cycle.

“This time it’s the exact opposite,” Armstrong said. “It’s a much more competitive landscape.”

He said candidates had always tried to be where people are and blogs were a way for the general public to reach politicians and also provide a forum for politicians to gage public opinion.

Over in Great Britiain The Telegraph has a story about a blogger who has been threatened with being jailed unless he turns over his information on a left wing think tank which is accused of illegally having links to the Labour Party. The think tank is required to be free of such political affiliations.

Gore Promoting Concerts To Publicize Climate Change


The Washington Post has more information on the concerts to promote informatoin on climate change which I previously noted:

Al Gore’s next gig: concert promoter.

Using popular music to bring attention to his pet issue of global climate change, the former vice president is planning a single-day series of concerts modeled after Live 8.

Gore is scheduled to announce the concerts today in Los Angeles. He’s expected to be joined there by rock stars Jon Bon Jovi and Sting, rap musician Pharrell Williams and media executive Kevin Wall, who served as worldwide executive producer for Live 8, the 2005 concerts that drew attention to African debt relief.

The Gore-promoted event will be held July 7, according to published reports, with seven major concerts on seven continents. Producers are said to be considering Washington as the North American host city, but one likely venue — the Mall — might be unavailable to them, a National Park Service spokesman said yesterday.

A Gore representative declined to comment, as did Yusef Robb, a spokesman for the concerts.

Gore’s profile has been rising in the entertainment industry lately: He was a presenter at Sunday’s Grammy Awards, and “An Inconvenient Truth,” his movie about global warming, is nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the upcoming Academy Awards.

Details of the July 7 event have been guarded as closely as a National Intelligence Estimate. The event’s official name has not yet been announced (it will be either “Live Earth” or “Save Ourselves,” according to Advertising Age), and no performers or host cities have been publicly confirmed. A bare-bones Web site,, offered little beyond the 7/7/07 date and a logo of dots and dashes — Morse code for “SOS.”

The Financial Times, which reported the event last week, listed London; Shanghai; Rio de Janeiro; Cape Town, South Africa; Kyoto, Japan; and Washington among the host cities.

Gore’s relationship with the music industry was also seen in his recent appearance at the Grammy Awards–pictured above with Queen Latifah.