The Swift Boat Liar’s Bluff

The Chicago Sun-Times sums up the recent exchange between John Kerry and T. Boone Pickens:

Calling his bluff

News Item: Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, a bankroller of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, offers $1 million to anyone who can disprove anything the group said about John Kerry.

News Item: John Kerry accepts the challenge, adding that the $1 million would go to the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

News Item: Pickens starts changing the conditions of his offer.

News Item: Pickens answers critics by saying that changing the conditions of an offer is only “like playing poker.”

QT Abridged Too Far Dictionary of the English Language:

poker player. n. 1. one who plays poker. 2. one who reneges. 3. one who chickens out. 4. one who weasels out. 5. one who worms out. 6. but what do you expect from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth [see: run, cut and].

Why I Have No Confidence Hillary Clinton Will Do Anything of Value To Change Things


The video shows Hillary Clinton answering a question about medical marijuana. It’s just one more example of why I don’t have much hope that Clinton will stand up for principle. Many of us have hoped since the Republicans have been taken over by the authoritarian warmongers that the Democratic Party might fight them on the side of freedom. There are some somewhat libertarian attitudes in some Democrats. Hillary Clinton is not one of them.

I’m still hoping that the conventional wisdom is wrong and Iowa or New Hampshire shake things up enough to give candidates such as Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd a chance. I might even take another look at Joe Biden after hearing him speak against mandates as part of his health care plan. However, if we are really limited to the three candidates now on top, there’s little choice other than Obama. There’s still a lot more I’d like to know about how Obama really views the issues, and there are areas where I disagree with him, but Hillary Clinton and, even more so, John Edwards, are unacceptable to those who want to move the country in a direction towards greater freedom after eight years of George Bush. Fortunately, while far too early to make any predictions, Obama appears to increasingly look like a the front runner while Edwards is in danger of a collapse.

Is Ron Paul Really Winning The Battle For The Republican Party?

Patrick Ruffini writes that Ron Paul has won, even if there is no chance he can win the Republican nomination:

In the past few months, Ron Paul has dramatically raised the profile of libertarianism inside the Republican Party. My small-l libertarian friends seem more comfortable describing themselves as such, even though they’ll go out of their way to disassociate themselves from Ron Paul and the big-L kind.

Libertarianism in the GOP took a big hit on 9/11, and it’s slowly coming back, with Ron Paul as the catalyst. Its underlying ideals still have appeal well beyond the cramped confines of the LP. If it’s possible to be known as a pro-life, pro-war, pro-wiretapping libertarian, then sign me up. Markos too brands himself a “libertarian Democrat,” though he’s never read Hayek and supports big government social programs.

Maybe libertarianism has won, but the word has become increasingly meaningless, as I recently discussed. In Ron Paul we already have a pro-life libertarian. I assume Ruffini is being sarcastic in signing up as a “pro-wiretapping libertarian” but the word is used in so many ways that this isn’t as absurd as it should be. Eric Dondero and I have disagreed over his support of the war and the Patriot Act for quite a while, but he does call himself a libertarian.

With the Republican Party dominated by neoconservatives and social conservatives a resurgence by its libertarian faction would be a welcome improvement. Unfortunately what we see with Ron Paul’s form of libertarianism isn’t so much libertarianism enlightening the GOP as far right conservative views corrupting libertarianism, and Ruffini wants to take this even further:

Assuming Paul loses, where does small-l libertarianism go from here? His movement already did the smart thing by making peace with social conservatism. Libertarianism is no longer aligned with libertine stances on abortion and gay rights.

To become the ascendant ideology within the GOP, I suspect they’ll have to find a way to do the same thing on national security. The war on terror writ large is the one big thing social and economic conservatives agree on, and Ron Paul is vocally aligned against both.

In other words, libertarianism under Paul has already adopted many of the views of social conservatives and Ruffini only really sees room for libertarianism in the GOP if Paul abandons his positions on the “war on terror.” Paul grants victory to the social conservatives who oppose abortion rights, deny the importance of separation of church and state, and claim that the founding fathers intended to form a Christian nation. The main thing Paul has going for him is seeing the dangers to our liberties in supporting a state of perpetual warfare against terrorism in the form promoted by the neoconservatives. If libertarians compromise on this there will be little difference between libertarianism and mainstream conservativism.

It sounds like libertarians are welcome in the Republican Party as long as they continue to drop all those libertarian ideas. John Cole agrees that there is not much of a home for libertarianism in the Republican Party:

The rise of Paul is not going to cause a surge in libertarianism in the Republican party. The rise of Ron Paul is due to his filling the void in a party filled with moralists, in-your-face social cons, warmongerers, and authoritarians. The only libertarians currently in the GOP are folks who are either too stupid or too cowardly to admit they are Bush dead-enders and think ‘libertarian’ sounds cool, or those hoping sometime the party will regain its sanity. Actual libertarians find their home in places that actually embrace libertarian ideals- the Libertarian party, as registered Independents, or as conservative Democrats.

Some of the Paul supporters who have enough grasp of reality to realize Paul is not going to win the Republican nomination see Paul as the Barry Goldwater for their generation. Just as Goldwater lost in a landslide only to see many of his ideas become victorious under Ronald Reagan, some Paul supporters think that Paul’s views will come to dominate the Republican Party in the future leading to a libertarian president.

There are two important differences between Ron Paul and Barry Goldwater. First of all, Goldwater was able to win a major party nomination and pick up a significant amount of the national vote, even if losing in a landslide. Paul remains stuck at around 5% in the polls without a serious chance of even winning the nomination as Goldwater did. Secondly, while Paul has adopted many of the views of the social conservatives, Goldwater rejected the religious right and even considered himself a liberal in his later years when he saw the Republicans become dominated by social conservatives. If even the libertarian challenge to the Republican mainstream has adopted the ideas of the social conservatives this looks far more like a victory for social conservatism than for libertarianism.

James Madison on Preserving Liberty During Time of War

Andrew Sullivan posted several quotations from James Madison which are particular relevant in light of the “war on terror” which the Republicans would turn into a perpetual state of warfare and use as rational to reduce liberty:

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

“It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

“The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”

“War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.”

“Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.”