The Libertarian Menace

Is it me, or have there been an inordinate number of anti-libertarian diatribes in the media these days (sorry, no links)?  I realize that Ron Paul’s running for president again, but judging by all the soiled liberal drawers lying around you might think a horde of libertarians were marching on Washington as we speak.

Here’s another one, which posits that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy and is therefore a natural ally of right-wing autocracies because a few leading 20th-Century libertarians had good things to say about Mussolini and Pinochet, because libertarians tend to have elitist disdain for democracy, and because voters in modern democratic states overwhelming reject libertarian policies.  Okay.  Without getting into whether libertarianism is really right-wing, or whether Hayek and Milton Friedman are its most suitable representatives, or whether the voting results from Coke v. Pepsi democratic elections tell us much of anything about anything, I’d just say that finding an ideological hack or two willing to toss their supposed principles aside for a little taste of power isn’t exactly an argument against an entire political philosophy.  And if it is, then modern liberalism, which this piece implicitly defends, is in even worse shape than libertarianism.  And no, not because some liberals in the 1930s were apologists for Stalin, but because a lot of liberals in 2011 are apologists for Obama’s expansion of Bush’s “illegal wars,” his consolidation and expansion of Bush’s executive power grabs, his selling out to Bush’s Wall St. and Bush’s insurance companies and…so on.  Jonah Goldberg isn’t wrong about liberals.  He just forgot to mention that conservatives are fascists, too.

Then there’s this nugget:

But civil libertarian activists are found overwhelmingly on the left. Their right-wing brethren have been concerned with issues more important than civil rights, voting rights, abuses by police and the military, and the subordination of politics to religion — issues like the campaign to expand human freedom by turning highways over to toll-extracting private corporations and the crusade to funnel money from Social Security to Wall Street brokerage firms.

Really?  Who aside from Glenn Greenwald is writing about civil liberties issues from the left?  As for their “right-wing brethren,” what about Radley Balko, or Will Grigg, who writes regularly about police abuse for LewRockwell.com, which in a lot of ways comes pretty close to the right-wing caricature on parade here?  Just because they tend not to dress these issues up in the garb of identity politics doesn’t mean they’re not concerned with “civil rights.”  And libertarians are easily as good on anti-militarism as “the left.”

But this is the best:

Unfortunately for libertarians who, like Hayek, prefer libertarian dictatorships to welfare-state democracies, even modern authoritarians reject the small-government creed. The most successful authoritarian capitalist regimes, such as today’s China and South Korea and Taiwan before their recent transitions to democracy, have been highly interventionist in economics, promoting economic growth by means of state-controlled banking, state-owned enterprises, government promotion of cartels, suppression of wages and consumption, tariffs and nontariff barriers to imports, toleration of intellectual piracy, massive infrastructure projects to help industry, and subsidies to manufacturers in the form of artificially cheap raw materials, energy and land.

A liberal invoking China’s authoritarian state-capitalism as an argument for welfare-state democracy, and, even better, at the end of an article that attempts to discredit libertarianism in part by citing some of its adherents’ support for authoritarian regimes.  (Hey, I hear Kim Jong Il is no fan of libertarianism either.  You see?)  I wonder if it’s ever occurred to Lind that things like “government promotion of cartels,” “suppression of wages,” and “subsidies to manufacturers in the form of artificially cheap raw materials, energy and land” are what’s causing the problems that the welfare-state is designed to ameliorate.  The only question that remains to be settled is why anyone should pay attention to liberals.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat

Gaddafi hasn’t been gone a week and already we have our first protests against the new regime, alongside reports about human rights violations and reprisal killings carried out by the rebels.  It looks like the new government may have already squandered its legitimacy, before it even got into power.  I’m afraid the only solution is another NATO intervention.  Might as well do it while the jets are still warm from the last round of humanitarian bombings.  Unless you want to just sit back and watch these monsters kill their own people, that is.

YeeeeeeeeHawwwww!!

In case you haven’t heard, some guy named Rick Perry, who looks like Mitt Romney’s country fried half-cousin, has entered the race for the GOP presidential nomination, and apparently he’s even more of a “know-nothing” than George W. Bush and Michelle Bachmann!  Since when is knowing something a prerequisite for being president?  That’s what they hire advisors for.*  I mean, what does Barack Obama “know,” other than how to give a speech that sounds vaguely like some civil rights leader from back when and how to make self-satisfied liberals feel even better about themselves than they already do?  The only difference is that Rick Perry has to pander to religious yahoos, global warming heretics, and people who are skeptical of the diktats coming from Chairman Ben over at the Fed, instead of the Whole Foods set.  He knows all he needs to know.  As for how he would govern in the event that he somehow manages to bamboozle his way into the white house, I imagine it wouldn’t be much different than the way his predecessor did.

(*Phil Giraldi at Antiwar.com has a piece that also compares Perry to Bush, and also portrays Perry as a know-nothing—in this case, somebody who knows nothing about foreign policy and who is, therefore, an easy mark for those wily neocons who are grooming him so that in case he gets elected president he’ll be ready to…continue running U.S. foreign policy as it’s been run for the last, I don’t know, 40 years or so.  Again, I’m not sure what knowledge has to do with anything here.)

Our Standards are Poor

Much ado about S&P downgrading the United States’ credit rating.  Woo boy.  This might even rival the great debt ceiling debate in terms of sheer edge-of-the-seat excitement.  Apparently some of our friends in congress are wondering if S&P’s ratings are really credible, though, oddly enough, they didn’t think to question them when they were greasing the skids on the global housing Ponzi scheme.  And Obomber is apparently outraged, insisting that the USA is and “always will be a triple-A country,” like a 4.0 student refusing to accept the B+ he got on the math quiz.  But the best is the question of whether S&P could be wrong again.  Doesn’t “wrong” imply some kind of good-faith effort gone awry, as in, “Well, you see, we tried our best to put an honest rating on all of that worthless paper, but, oh well, we were just wrong”?  S&P was “wrong” about those mortgage backed securities the same way the CIA was “wrong” about the ever-elusive WMDs in Iraq.  The ratings just reflect what their clients on Wall Street want.  So the only question is what do the bankers want?  A little more “quantitative easing,” perhaps?  An even more compliant congress?  What?

How the Deal Went Down

Here’s the story, according to Richard Reeves at truth[sic]dig:

Taking a few moments away from their normal business of stopping progress, those dastardly teabaggers held speaker of the house John Boner hostage (presumably at musket-point) and “blackmailed their opponents” into accepting a debt deal that nobody in America, save for this gaggle of “know-nothings” nostalgic for the 18th century, wanted.  And Obama, president of the United States, most powerful man ever, just went along with it.  Why?  Because, poor trusting sap that he is, he believed Boner could “deal with the hostage-takers,” but tragically he was wrong.

I think some of the folks at truthdig need to keep digging.

Delusion

I had a nice laugh this morning when I pulled up behind a silver SUV and saw a bumper sticker on the back of it that read: “DEMOCRATS – Change that matters.”  I saw another one of these over the weekend (though I was too far away to read the second line, which is in smaller, lighter print–a hint of shame maybe?).  Must be the latest slogan for the upcoming WWE Donkey vs. Elephant smackdown.

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