Thursday, January 31, 2008

Super Duper Tuesday GOP primary picks

All right, I've got my mojo ... well, not back, but I've got it: My Florida primary predictions were exact as to the order of outcome, and within 2% for each of the candidates. Let's see if I can turn this into a roll.

For Super Duper Tuesday, there's just no way I can pick percentages, etc. on so many states in anything like a timely manner. For some -- most -- of the Super Duper Tuesday states, I haven't even seen polling data. Here's the basic picture, though:

McCain wins Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Romney wins Massachusetts (of which he is the former governor), Idaho and Utah (the Mormon vote).

Huckabee wins Arkansas with a combination of evangelical and favorite son votes.

Surprised / Not Surprised

- Surprised if I'm wrong and McCain wins Idaho or Utah. Not surprised if I'm wrong and McCain wins Massachusetts.

- Surprised if I'm wrong and Huckabee wins Georgia. Not surprised if I'm wrong and Huckabee wins Idaho or Kansas, or loses Arkansas. Not surprised if he wins nothing at all.

- Surprised if Paul carries any states. Not surprised if he picks up some delegates, especially in California, or if he places a respectable second in Alaska, New Mexico or Utah.

Bonus pick for tomorrow

Maine is McCain's.

Update policy

I won't change any of these picks between now and the vote (or, it goes without saying, after). They're written in virtual stone and I'll stand or fall with them. However, I may update with percentage predictions and such. I'll either do that down here at the bottom, or in this color if I place them inline in the original post.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Florida: GOP primary prediction

Running a little late here (I wanted to give Kubby's State of the Union address as much time up top as possible), but the usual format -- first my unrealistic October prediction, then my final call.

From October, pre-Huckabee-surge, etc.:

1st - McCain (~55%)
2nd - Romney (~30%)
3rd - Ghouliani (~10%)
4th - Paul (~5%)

My final call:

1st - McCain (~38%)
2nd - Romney (~30%)
3rd - Giuliani (~15%)
4th - Huckabee (~12%)
5th - Paul (~5%)

Surprised / Not Surprised

- Surprised if Romney beats 30%.
- Not surprised if Romney nosedives to 25% or less.

- Surprised if McCain garners an absolute majority.
- Not surprised if McCain breaks 40%.

- Surprised if either Giuliani or Huckabee beats 15%.
- Not surprised if they switch places from my prediction -- Hucks small base looks pretty solid, Giuliani's was built on sand and has completely shattered.

- Surprised if Paul hits 10% or falls below 2%.
- Not surprised if Paul gets as much as 8% or as little as 2%.

From here on out, McCain runs the big-state table. Super Tuesday is anti-climax -- Florida is where the deal is sealed.

I originally called Giuliani to win New York and New Jersey, but he's already disintegrating in both those states and after today their walk away from him will become a stampede. His smartest move would have been to drop out and cut a deal before today. After Florida, McCain doesn't need Giuliani and Giuliani doesn't bring anything with him that can save Romney. The GOP nomination fat lady is warming up. Concert's tonight.

Friday, January 25, 2008

State of the Union 2008

Instead of responding to President Bush's State of the Union Address this year, Libertarian presidential contender Steve Kubby decided to go first. Video up top; full text of the speech, if you prefer it that way, at the Kubby 2008 web site.

In other news:

- Former Reagan White House official -- and economist for the State Department and Congress -- Joe Cobb has endorsed Kubby and joined the campaign as Senior Economic Advisor.

- Kubby will attend and speak at the Libertarian State Leadership Alliance conference in Las Vegas, February 15th-17th, and at the California Libertarian Party state convention in San Diego, February 22nd-24th.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Seemed like a good idea at the time ...

... and what could possibly go wrong?

Yuwie is coming up on half a million members and it is bona fide social networking (friend lists, clubs -- including two which are specifically libertarian -- etc.). A little more advertising than MySpace, but not so much that it ruins it. On signup, you do get one of those annoying multi-screen SIGN UP FOR THESE OFFERS!!! sequences, but it's only a few screens.

Whether the whole "get paid" thing will work out or not, I can't say. But hey, it's free and if you're into that kind of thing you might want to check it out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Three things

Thing One.

Thing Two.

Thing Three.

Hey, that puts me one up on Doctor Seuss, doesn't it?

But seriously, folks: This whole thing has some complexities that bear further discussion.

I don't know if Chief Wana Dubie is the best possible candidate the Missouri Libertarian Party could hope to nominate. However, I've talked with him a few times and he seems like a decent, freedom-loving guy. He also performed better than any other Missouri LP candidate in a three-way race for public office last year, and got some good publicity (including a mention on Jay Leno). Seems like the obvious way through this would be to let Missouri's LP primary voters decide.

Unfortunately, we're in a bad situation of our own making. It all started with the Glenn Miller affair. I've come to regret my vote on the Missouri LP's executive committee to reject Miller's filing fee -- not because I like the idea of a neo-Nazi on the LP's ballot line, but because that rejection set a precedent which is now being abused by a couple of individuals in the MOLP's leadership for their own ends.

There are fundamental differences between Glenn Miller and Chief Wana Dubie in any case. As I previously wrote:

Glenn Miller is obviously not a partisan Libertarian -- he's apparently tried to file for office twice in the last week on other parties' tickets, and he maintains a web site for yet another party of his own. He's just making up his partisan affiliation as he goes along ...

Chief Wana Dubie, on the other hand, has run for office as a Libertarian before, and I happen to know that he is a member of both the Missouri and national Libertarian Parties (the former because he meets the definition under the MOLP's bylaws, the latter because I'm the one he called for help when he had problems getting the national LP's credit card server to take his dues). His platform is also not only far more libertarian than Miller's, but arguably more libertarian than the platforms of some other candidates who have run for office in Missouri on the LP ticket with nary a complaint from the MOLP as an organization.

BUT ... this isn't about how libertarian Chief Wana Dubie is, or about how un-libertarian Glenn Miller is, or about whether either of them have a legitimate connection to the party. It's about legality, it's about propriety and, sadly, it's about a petty internal power struggle in the Missouri LP.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Thanks, George!

As mentioned several times, I've been having virus/malware problems since going back to Windoze. The most tenacious of these problems has been the Virtumonde trojan and attendant popup-spamware-malware spawnings (the most annoying being something called "storageprotector").

Several helpful individuals have suggested remedies (and thanks to all of you!), but the one that finally seems to have worked is VirtuemondoBegone. It got the job done where Avira, Spybot - Search and Destroy, Vundofix and Glary Utilities failed.

Thanks to George Phillies for pointing me at it. Who says political opponents can't be friendly and helpful to each other?

Nevada and South Carolina: Hot washup

Summary: In my predictions, I nailed South Carolina in terms of ranking, but blew one aspect of percentages -- and completely blew Nevada.

I predicted a solid McCain win in Nevada, and he came in third with Romney really blowing the place out. Ron Paul performed exactly to my percentage prediction, but it was enough to put him in second place rather than the third place finish I had him pegged for. The conventional wisdom on the Romney win is "the Mormon vote got out." Makes as much sense as anything I can think of.

South Carolina: I predicted McCain in 1st place with 32%. He came in first place with 33%. I predicted Huckabee in 2nd place with 24%. He came in 2nd place with 29%. I had it too close to call for third, with Romney and Thompson both performing in the 15% range. With 96% of precincts reporting, they're at 15.07% and 15.75% respectively, with about 3,000 votes separating them. I predicted Paul in fourth place with 10%. He placed fourth, but with less than 4% of the vote. I continue to underestimate Huckabee v. Paul in states with a big social conservative vote.

Giuliani performed below even my low expectations of him: I had him at 8% in Nevada and 4% in South Carolina. He pulled 4% and 2% respectively. If I've been correct on very little else, I've had Giuliani pegged since before he announced -- he never had any chance of winning the GOP nomination. There's only room for one New York-based Il Duce clone in the top slot, and Hillary successfully called dibs on that candidate niche. I expected Giuliani to collapse before voting even began and was surprised that he didn't, but I never had any doubt he would go down. If he's smart, he'll cut a deal, abandon his "Florida strategy" before it abandons him on the 29th, and drop out.

Paul, on the other hand, is in better shape than he was last week. He's still not going to be the GOP nominee. He probably won't carry and single state and certainly won't carry the five states he needs to procure floor time at the national convention. However, his second place finish in Nevada probably means he'll be able to keep the skeer up, raise more money, and maintain momentum for whatever purpose he actually has in mind.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

We can Wirk it out

Check out Wirkman on the "paleos." Good stuff -- makes more sense out of the whole thing.

I also identify with his background perspective. Sez Wirkman:

I have never thought of myself as a conservative. When I was young, I thought I was a liberal ... right up until the moment I realized that modern liberals exhibited hardly the slightest interest in freedom. At least, the liberals I knew showed little support for liberty in the areas where they had proved that governments could grow and organize and tax and spend and regulate and prohibit and subsidize.

Bingo. I don't remember the exact date that I ceased being a (modern/Wilsonian/FDRian) "liberal" (actually, a little to the left of that) but I remember the exact context. It was some time between November of 1988 (when I cheerfully cast my first-ever vote in a presidential election, for Michael Dukakis) and September of 1990 (when I sat in a chair in a hospital room reading Atlas Shrugged while awaiting the birth of my daughter).

One day I was sitting around the house reading the Greenpeace magazine (yes, I was a member of Greenpeace). The article was about some kind of environmental outrage in Africa, and how there was a solution that seemed to be working, but which we must not trust in because it was ... well, a market solution, involving private companies rather than Greenpeace-approved bureaucrats. Something had to be done to get control of the situation. And at that very moment I thought to myself "this isn't about the environment. These bastards would burn that village to the ground and sow DDT in the earth where it once stood before they withdrew their claim to power over it."

I'd like to report that as my libertarian "on the road to Damascus" moment, but it wasn't. In exploring the political landscape, I worked my way from the Greenpeace Magazine Moment through William F. Buckley's Up From Liberalism, to an instant when I informed a Democratic canvasser that I was "to the right of Pat Buchanan," to a brief flirt with the Perot phenomenon and, as described elsewhere on this blog, back through the "paleoconservative" fad to libertarianism (with a lot of help, btw, from Liberty, the magazine that Wirkman Virkkala was working for at the time).

Friday, January 18, 2008

The neolibs strike out

Just so you know, I don't play favorites -- I try to point out instances of pure evil advertising itself as "libertarianism" whenever I notice them.

The "neolibs" and the "paleolibs" -- not to mention the batshit-insane "Giuliani or maybe Romney 'libertarians'" -- on the "right" seem to be doing their damnedest to destroy the very idea of libertarianism per se. Hopefully the libertarian left is up to seizing it from them and redeeming it.

Note: Please don't confuse "neolibertarian" with "New Libertarian". Never the twain shall meet, unless through deception on the part of the former (which has, in fact, happened before).

Nevada, South Carolina predictions

As of last October, I had Ron Paul picked to place second in South Carolina and first in Nevada.

Those picks were messed up for much bigger reasons than "the newsletter affair." If anything, that mini-scandal may help Paul in South Carolina ... but it's mostly a fringe teapot tempest (yes, I admit to being "fringe"). My main screw-ups were assuming that Thompson would not be a factor by this point, and that Huckabee wouldn't be a factor at all.

So, first, my absurd and outdated October predictions:


1st - Paul (~40%)
2nd - McCain (~30%)
3rd - Romney (~20%)
4th - Giuliani (~10%)

South Carolina

1st - McCain (~35%)
2nd - Paul (~30%)
3rd - Romney (~25%)
4th - Giuliani (~10%)

Now my revised predictions (and yes, so far I've been about as wrong as it's possible to get -- I had also predicted McCain to win Michigan, and stuck by that one, but didn't blog on it).


1st - McCain (~30%)
2nd - Romney (~26%)
3rd - Paul (~14%)
4th - Huckabee (~12%)
5th - Thompson (~10%)
6th - Giuliani (~8%)

South Carolina:

1st - McCain (~32%)
2nd - Huckabee (~24%)
3rd and 4th - Too close to call, Romney and Thompson both in the 15% range
5th - Paul (~10%)
6th - Giuliani (~4%)

I won't be terribly surprised if Paul does better that I predict in either state, or if Romney upsets McCain in Nevada. I will be surprised if Thompson places better than a distant third in either state, or if Giuliani breaks out of single digits in either state.

I still don't expect Giuliani to make a comeback start in Florida. He'll do better there than he has so far, but he'll be struggling with Romney for a second place finish behind McCain, and almost certainly losing that struggle. Good riddance to bad rubbish. "Super Duper Tuesday" will effectively be a McCain/Romney showdown, advantage McCain. Giuliani might boost Romney a wee bit if he has the brains to cut a deal and do the "drop, endorse" routine, unwisely choosing Romney as his partner. But I'm still convinced that McCain will get the GOP nod.

Just sayin' ...

As I've previously noted, I passed the point some time ago of writing "the authorship question" off as not especially relevant: It's not so much about whether Ron Paul actually sat down with a legal pad or at a typewriter and wrote those newsletter passages himself, as it is about the fact that they were published -- over a period of years -- under his name, by a company in which he was a principal, and therefore presumably with his knowledge and consent.

And let's face it: We don't, and can't, know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the authorship. Paul has already lied about it. He admitted to writing the stuff, and defended it, in 1996; in 2001, he reversed himself on both authorship and sentiment. Barring the possibility that he possesses a time machine and is unaffected by paradox issues in its use, he couldn't have been telling the truth both times.

However, Paul's defenders continue to rally primarily to one flag: "Paul did not write those newsletter articles and is therefore not responsible for them." So, okay. Let me stipulate to that for the sake of argument, and ask his defenders a couple of questions about it:

Is Paul responsible for the legislation he has sponsored? How about the votes he has cast for legislation sponsored by others?

Odds are that Paul didn't write any of "his" legislation. That's what congressional staff is for. All he likely did with it was lend his good name to it and tout it, which is exactly what he did with the newsletters. Ditto and even more so for legislation proposed by others that he just supported and which didn't even have his name on it per se.

If Paul is not responsible for those newsletters because he didn't personally write their content, then neither is he responsible for much, maybe even any, of his own congressional record -- and with responsibility goes credit or discredit. If the newsletters don't tend to discredit him as a presidential candidate, neither does his record in Congress tend to credit him as one. So, I'll zip my yap about the former when Paul's supporters stop running their sucks about the latter.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Survey says ...

Up front, this isn't a sponsored post, nor is the link an affiliate/commission link (not that there's anything wrong with those, and I've done both before). I'm just passing the word on this one because it's good scoop.

Your2Cents is one of those "take an online survey and get paid" sites, and in my opinion it's the best of them (except that it doesn't have an affiliate/commission program, dammit!).

Here's the lowdown:

- Your2Cents members get a LOT of survey opportunities -- several per week.

- If you respond to a Your2Cents survey invitation and turn out not to be qualified based on the first few screening questions, you still get an entry in a $5,000 quarterly prize drawing.

- If you ARE qualified for a Your2Cents survey and complete it, you get paid. You receive anywhere from $1 to $5. I've seen it set up two ways: A flat fee (usually toward the $5 end of the scale), or a randomly determined fee of $1, $2 or $3.

- Speaking of screening, you are allowed to fill out various questionnaires for pre-screening on various subjects that keeps Your2Cents from referring you to surveys you aren't qualified for. When you fill out one of these screening questionnaires, you get paid an extra dollar the next time you complete a paid survey.

- Yes, they DO actually pay the fees. You can "cash out" any time you have more than $5 in your Your2Cents account. I waited to blog about this until after I had actually received and cashed a check from them (I wouldn't want you to get ripped off and blame me for it).

- There are also some "extended study" opportunities. For example, I completed a Your2Cents survey on skin care, got paid for that survey, and was subsequently offered (and accepted) and additional fee to receive a sample of a product, use that product, and complete another survey on it.

It's not huge money, but it's real money, and the surveys are well-constructed and easy enough to complete that you're probably beating minimum wage even if you draw the random $1 fee. If this kind of thing is your bag, I highly recommend Your2Cents.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The danger of the paleo flirtation

The New Republic posted a second batch of Ron Paul newsletter excerpts yesterday. A number of people, myself included, expected them to be more damning than the previous batch. A number of people, myself not included, ended up concluding that they aren't. I'll get to why they are in a moment, but first some context:

Julian Sanchez and David Weigel of Reason explore the authorship questions some more. I'm not as interested in authorship per se as I was at first [1], but the article does lay out some historical timeline material that goes in directions I am interested in. Namely, it explores why one might or might not have expected to find this kind of stuff in "libertarian" publications of the time.

During the period when the most incendiary items appeared -- roughly 1989 to 1994 -- Rockwell and the prominent libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard championed an open strategy of exploiting racial and class resentment to build a coalition with populist "paleoconservatives," producing a flurry of articles and manifestos whose racially charged talking points and vocabulary mirrored the controversial Paul newsletters recently unearthed by The New Republic.

This raises a serious question in my mind: "What the fuck were those guys thinking?"

Let me explain:

Although I began self-identifying as a libertarian in the early 1990s, I entered the libertarian movement from the paleoconservative side because that was where I found the opportunities to do so. My early movement involvements were with the militias and the Constitution Party (Aaron Russo's short-lived project, not the current abomination iteration). It took me less than a year to get deeply involved, recognize the racism, homophobia and other bizarre psychoses which permeated the "populist right wing" and the dangers those psychoses represented, and get the hell out of there (and I suspect that Russo was similarly motivated, although he cited his "Mad As Hell" project as the reason for his exit from the Constitution Party). By early 1996, I had gone over to ideological anarchism and politically to the Libertarian Party.

Less than a year for me to get shut of the "paleo" impulse. And for Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard? Much longer, if ever.

Now: I don't dispute the possibility that there might have been a point in time when the libertarian and paleoconservative ideological trains found themselves sharing a short section of political track. But that the putative heirs of Ludwig von Mises were possessed of such utter hubris as to attempt not only a long-term hitching together of those trains, but a fueling of the hypothetically resulting powerful locomotive with the worst material they could find ... well, that just creeps me out.

Now, to those newsletter excerpts. Why are the new ones even worse than the old ones?

The racism in the first batch of excerpts was explicit, but read just the right way it was possible -- barely possible, but possible nonetheless -- to write it off as a childish expression of rebellion against the excesses of identity politics and "political correctness." Yes, it was wrong and it was vile, but the possibility existed that we were seeing the results of poor judgment rather than of cold calculation.

In the newly released excerpts, that conclusion isn't available to us. These excerpts include:

- The second revealed instances of the newsletter lauding David Duke, and in a specifically racial context. The previous excerpt cited his "anti-establishment" cachet and wrote off racism as the important factor in his popularity. The new excerpt addresses Duke positively in a piece that refers to "the blacks" in vile collectivist terms multiple times. It's not plausible to write that off as mere coincidence.

- The first revealed instances of thes newsletter not only specifically and approvingly quoting/citing a publicly avowed "white separatist" (Jared Taylor) but offering subscription information for his magazine (American Renaissance) to the readers of the newsletter. This belies the possibilities mentioned in the previous paragraph as well. It bespeaks an informed interest in white identity politics rather than merely a knee-jerk reaction to black identity politics.

- The first revealed instance of the newsletter bemoaning not just the existence of black identity politics but the non-existence of a popular white equivalent. That the author subsequently quails from the obvious followup (a raised-hand chorus of "white power!") and instead segues to a stilted and weak-kneed plea that the reader work to preserve "western culture" makes it very clear that that author knew quite well what kind of fuse he was holding a match perilously close to ... and that he was resisting the urge to light it off.

These excerpts take the plausibility out of my hypothesis that this might have just been a case of a normal politician having temporarily fallen into some of the prejudices of a particular time and place, later to be embarrassed when that old failing was exposed. Rather, they point to a calculated intent to encourage and play on racist sentiments for political gain -- a plan that Rockwell and Rothbard had previously publicly advocated, a plan that was stump-stupid at best and indescribably evil at worst, and a plan that Ron Paul allowed to be (thankfully unsuccessfully) implemented in his name.

1. The authorship question is no longer of particular interest to me because Paul admitted to authoring at least some of the material, and defended it, in 1996, before denying authorship and repudiating the material from 2001 on. Apart from outing Paul as a liar at precisely the moment when he most needs to be perceived as honest, this establishes that Paul knew about, and was conversant with, the material in question. Ghosted or not, the material is Paul's baby.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thanks for the cigarette and my but isn't that blindfold rather ironic?

I'm I was in the dock!

The charge is was "siding with the state's thought control in the Ron Paul newsletter affair."

I find the charge interesting, given that the state per se hasn't weighed in on said affair, and that what I actually seem to stand have stood accused of is criticizing a personification of the state -- a member of the US House of Representatives, no less.

No doubt about the verdict [update: Had the court not adjourned back into the ether from whence it came], of course -- the self-appointed prosecutor, judge and jury is a devotee of the theory that the act of disagreeing with him constitutes irrefutable proof of his correctness. [1]

Dead man walking! Dead man walking here! Or maybe not.

1. Yes, that's a Hoppe-baiting oversimplification. Rather than try to explain "Argumentation Ethics," I'll defer to Kinsella himself, who identifies and links to the relevant sources in his defense of it.

Mystery solved

The author of at least some of the racist and/or homophobic material which appeared in Ron Paul's newsletters is: Ron Paul.

In 1996, Paul not only admitted to having written some of the stuff, but defended the material. Some pull quotes:

"Dr. Paul, who is running in Texas' 14th Congressional District, defended his writings in an interview Tuesday. He said they were being taken out of context. ... Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation. ... In the interview, he did not deny he made the statement about the swiftness of black men. ... " -- Dallas Morning News, 05/22/96

"Paul, an obstetrician from Surfside, Tex., denied he is a racist and charged Austin lawyer Charles 'Lefty' Morris, his Democratic opponent, with taking his 1992 writings out of context." -- Washington Post, 05/26/96

"Paul, who earlier this week said he still wrote the newsletter for subscribers, was unavailable for comment Thursday." -- Houston Chronicle, 10/11/96

So, mystery solved -- and I apologize to those at LewRockwell.Com and the Ludwig von Mises Institute who have perceived me as launching on them, and especially to one in particular who felt that I was tarring all those who write at those sites, even those who were completely uninvolved with Lew Rockwell and/or Dr. Paul at the time the newsletters were published, with an unjust brush. I didn't mean it that way. Mostly I was just astonished with LRC's inability or unwillingness to deal with the whole thing rationally instead of retaliating with irrelevant character assassination. They're a bit touchy over there, and they have reason to be. This is not the first time that Lew has been hit with allegations of coddling and abetting racists -- allegations that seem to have at least some basis in fact.

But this thing remains squarely in Paul's court. As George Phillies has pointed out (at least privately to me -- if he's done so publicly, I'll link to it when I find it), the "ghostwriter" excuse was never worth much anyway. To paraphrase George, when you hire a ghostwriter his writing becomes yours. You paid good money for it, right?

Paul might have headed this off if he had been willing to take a ding on his vaunted "consistency" card and just say "yes, I wrote those things. They were actually fairly standard Republican rhetoric of the time and I was a politician riding that wave -- but it was wrong to do that, I apologize for it, and I hope you'll agree that my record in Congress and my message today reflect very different sentiments."

His unwillingness to do that got him the "consistency" ding anyway, and outed him as a liar to boot -- either he was lying in 1996, or he's lying now. Of course, a lot of politicians have survived such scandals, but Paul was marginal as a Republican presidential candidate in the first place. I suppose that white southerners could prove themselves guilty of the worst suspicions that "cosmopolitan" yankees have about them by voting for someone they perceive as "the sheet and hood lite" candidate in the GOP primary, but I'm optimistic and don't believe that will happen.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

"Caesar's wife must be above suspicion"

Quoth Eric Sundwall --

There seems to be an unwritten meme going around that Rockwell is responsible for the RP newsletters (Balko, Knapp, McArdle, now Holtz). The hope being that blatant racist sentiment will undo a hardcore message and the hip and/or 'trinity'crowd can assume the mantle.

Wide, wide of the mark. Where a conflict exists between LvMI or LRC on one hand and the "cosmopolitan" libertarians (Cato, Reason, et al) on "what it means to be a libertarian," the odds are better than even that I agree with the LRC/LvMI crowd.

Matter of fact, what I "hope" is that Lew Rockwell and other distinguished writers affiliated with LRC/LvMI had nothing whatsoever to do with that newsletter content. If they did, they won't be the only ones with a black eye. Every radical libertarian who has ever promoted, featured or cited their work -- including yours truly -- will have a shiner, too.

I am a radical libertarian. I acknowledge that LewRockwell.Com and the Ludwig von Mises Institute have stood at the forefront of the radical libertarian movement for many years, and for some good reasons.

To the extent that the radical libertarian movement has "leaders," a good case can be (and has been) made by the folks at LRC/LvMI that Ludwig von Mises, Murray N. Rothbard and Lew Rockwell constitute a "dynasty" of radical libertarian ideological Caesars, with Auburn, Alabama functioning as a radical libertarian Rome, the LRC/LvMI web sites as their empire's gladatorial arenas ... and Ron Paul as the political wife of that ideological dynasty's current scion.

This is not to say that Caesar should not defend his wife if she unjustly falls under suspicion. However, Rockwell and company haven't actually defended Paul. Rather, they have limited their response to fulminating against what they characterize as "smears" without offering any substantive rebuttal or criticism of the allegations at all, or any answers to the questions raised. The're free to do that, but they have only themselves to blame if observers then conclude that perhaps Caesar is just as suspect as Pompeia.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Speaking of smears ...

Over the months, I've tried to write off the stormtrooper-like, bullying attitude of some Ron Paul cultists. You know the ones I'm talking about:

Commenter: Ron Paul puts his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.

Cultist: Why do you want to SMEAR Ron Paul?

Commenter: I'm not trying to smear him, I'm just saying he wasn't born of a virgin or anything like that.

Cultist: SMEAR! SMEAR! That's all you're doing? How dare you imply that Ron Paul's mother ever had sex? Why, you goddamn godless socialist, I oughtta ...

At first, most of the worst of that kind of thing came from people I either didn't know at all, or already knew from prior experience to be marginal in the sanity department. My more sane acquaintances in the Ron Paul camp didn't go that far. Yeah, they twisted themselves into pretzels trying to make the real-life Ron Paul jibe with the uber-libertarian image of Ron Paul in their heads and hearts, but they didn't get all wild-eyed and frothy and hateful.

I sensed things were really going downhill a couple of weeks ago -- December 27th, as a matter of fact -- when an author whom I don't know well, but have always considered a reasonable guy and a fine libertarian writer, whipped out this bit of nonsense. Money quote:

In my view, the "Ron Paul question" constitutes a litmus test for libertarians. Simply put, the "Ron Paul question" consists of determining whether or not a person supports Dr. Paul. If so, as I see matters, he passes this test and can be constituted a libertarian; if not, his credentials are to that extent suspect.

After that eye-opener, I guess I shouldn't have been shocked by the reaction at the LewRockwell.Com blog to The New Republic's expose on Paul and accompanying newsletter excerpts.

But I was.

Substantive criticism of, or response to, the content? Nowhere to be found. Nothing but the cry of "SMEAR!" (the only time I checked, it appeared on the front page of the blog seven times) accompanied by some pretty vicious personal attacks on the TNR article's author. He's a pimply-faced youth. He's a Giuliani supporter. His education was financed by some commiesymp outfit. The rag he writes for has a sordid history. [1]

I have a feeling that much of this has to do with not wanting to answer what is quickly becoming the $64,000 question among libertarians: Who is the anonymous ghostwriter credited with the racist and homophobic vomit that went out under Paul's name?

Wendy McElroy has asked him to identify himself. Kevin Rollins and Robert Capozzi have asked Lew Rockwell to confirm or deny that he's the writer in question. [2] For which, of course, all three have been denounced for, you guessed it, "smearing" Paul, Rockwell or both.

Why is the question important? Two reasons:

First, Paul has been evasive on the subject. "Ghostwriter" and "former aide" are, I believe, the terms he's used. Those terms imply -- and no doubt intentionally so -- a long-severed relationship. If the ghostwriter is found among Paul's long-time friends and current advisors, the newsletters take on a whole new relevance vis a vis Paul's campaign, because now there's a live wire connecting that past to this present (actually, there's already one -- the lightbulb went on in Jim Henley's head before it did in mine).

Secondly, if Rockwell or another writer or writers associated with LewRockwell.Com and the Ludwig von Mises Institute wrote that trash, it casts the allegations of a racist orientation -- allegations which have been leveled at those institutions for years by folks like the Cato Institute's Tom G. Palmer -- in a whole new light. As someone who defended LRC/LvMI from those allegations for a long time, I'm mortified to discover that I may have been very, very wrong.

Speaking of which, this shitstorm represents a real problem for radical libertarians. The Mises Institute and LRC have, for all intents and purposes, been Radical Libertarian Central since the Internet came of age, and they've been damn good at it. If they've also been effectively a racist front organization, what we're looking at is the ideological equivalent of 9/11, with the planes bearing down on us piloted by those we thought were our own. It won't be a question of rescuing our betrayers, but rather of rescuing the principles those betrayers have besmirched.

There is, I suspect, little joy in Auburn right now. That the crew at LRC is responding to these events in much the same way that they've always mocked the Randroids for acting is telling. Hopefully that behavior is driven by genuine shock and confusion rather than by knowledge of their own culpability in what's fast turning into a combination black eye, broken jaw and diagnosis of venereal disease for the libertarian movement.

1. And yes, The New Republic does, in fact, have a sordid history. But last time I noticed, the owner of the publication hadn't publicly blamed that sordid history on unnamed ghost writers when confronted with it.

2. My guess -- and it's only a guest -- is that Rockwell edited the newsletters, and that the most offensive excerpts were authored by Gary North. But I repeat, that's just a guess.

Congressional pay: A modest proposal

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Members of Congress are getting a 2.5 percent pay raise this year, according to Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register. Lawmakers will receive salaries of $169,300, a boost of $4,100. Their last raise was in January 2006.

I've been kicking around a constitutional amendment proposal for many years. I drag it out now and again and tweak it a little. Not that it's important, since it would have to be passed by 2/3 of both houses of Congress and that's never going to happen. Anyway, here it is.

Section 1. The salary of members of the Senate and House of Representatives, prior to the taking of any federal taxes, shall henceforth be fixed for each each year in the amount of the average per capita income of citizens of the United States for the prior year, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less the average of total per capita federal taxes charged against said average income.

Section 2. No additional allowances or reimbursements shall be made for personal living expenses beyond the salary set pursuant to this article; however, military barracks space of the variety and in the per-person space allotment used for light infantry enlisted personnel, convenient to and within walking distance of Congress's meeting place, shall be set aside and maintained to accomodate such members as may decline to procure lodging in the capital at their own expense.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What's interesting about the TNR expose ...

... is its timing.

If The New Republic had published its article and excerpts from Ron Paul's newsletters a month ago, Duncan Hunter would have outpolled Paul in Iowa. If they had published those excerpts last Friday, Paul would have polled low single digits in New Hampshire today.

Why did TNR choose to run their story on the day when Paul is likely to turn in the best performance of his GOP presidential campaign before the dirt hits the public consciousness? Elementary, my dear Watson: It's not Paul they're after ... it's the Republican Party.

When Paul was still a "minor, bottom tier" candidate, this would have ended his campaign (assuming he has sense enough to pour piss out of a boot), but it wouldn't have hurt the GOP. But with a credible 10% performance in Iowa under his belt (hint: Bill Clinton polled 3% there in 1992) and a likely 2nd- or 3rd-place finish in New Hampshire tonight, he's fast becoming a credible representative of his party to the public ... and thus any damage to him is going to impact the whole Republican field. And hey, I'm down with that -- if Paul's campaign increases the GOP's drain-circling velocity, that's a good thing.

On the other hand, the GOP is big enough to absorb a certain amount of this. The Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement will take less damage, but we're also more fragile and less able to absorb and recover from it. And, well, it's disgusting to find a party and a movement I love dragged down into this muck.

Let's go ahead and get this out of the way: I told you so. You don't have to believe me when I say I'm not gloating, but I'm not gloating. I wish that my fellow libertarians had listened to me earlier, if for no other reason than that the necessary damage control would have been much less difficult if so many libertarians hadn't worked so hard to propel the Paul bandwagon down the road toward this, its ultimate destination.

For one thing, when I first brought up the problems with Paul, the Libertarian National Committee hadn't yet abandoned its fiduciary duty to the LP and violated the trust of the LP's members by endorsing Paul as a prospective LP presidential candidate. Now we have an official, if illicit, association that needs to be, um, dissociated. And that's not going to be easy, even if the LNC has the collective common sense to be teleconferencing right now on an emergency motion to withdraw its "invitation" to Paul.

Unfortunately, I'm not as good at repairing ships as I am at pointing out the goddamn icebergs before we hit them. I'll do what I can to help, but frankly I don't know what that is.

For those who have been sticking their fingers in their ears, screwing their eyes shut, and screaming "anything bad that might be said about Ron Paul is absolutely NOT true," well, I guess you'll probably continue to do so. Here's hoping you're good enough at it by now to not even notice how suddenly your victory parade float departed the roadway and rolled right over into the dustbin of history.

For those of you who are interested in the truth, I've plucked three teaser quotes from TNR's excerpts. Don't bitch at me about "context." I've already given you the link. If you don't believe me, go look at the source material for yourself already. You should anyway.

From the March 1990 issue [PDF] of Paul's newsletter:

Even absent Christianity (or AIDS), natural law proves that sexuality ought to be restricted to marriage (between a man and a woman, I guess I have to say these days.) Approval of anything else means societal disintegration.

From the June 1990 issue [PDF]:

As Congressman Bill Dannemeyer (R-CA) noted, "it's a tragic message being sent," that normality and deviance are equal. I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.

From the November 1990 issue [PDF]:

[David] Duke carried baggage from his past, but the voters were willing to overlook that. And if he had been afforded the forgiveness an ex-communist gets, he might have won. Liberals like Richard Cohen of the Washington Post say he got so many votes because Louisianians were racist and ignorant. Baloney.

This last one does raise some interesting questions. It seems to imply that as of 1989, Paul (or Paul's ghostwriter) believed Duke to have abandoned his past as a neo-Nazi, Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, etc. and become "mainstream." But ... as of 1989-90, Duke continue to be (and so far as I know, remains to this very day) associated with the post-Klan racist organization he founded in 1980, the "National Association for the Advancement of White People." Was Paul (or Paul's ghostrwiter) naive, lacking in basic research skills, or c) knowingly deceptive on this point?

For some time (until I found evidence of Paul's voluntary positive interactions with at least one racist organization, as a matter of fact), I defended Paul against allegations of an association with Duke, using the "one-way street" argument, i.e. that just because Duke reprinted Paul's (free-for-the-reprinting) column, that didn't mean that Paul in any way condoned or endorsed Duke.

Part of the extension of that argument in the context of Paul's presidential campaign, of course, has been that Paul had no reason to publicly disavow Duke, since there was no evidence that he had ever condoned Duke. Oops.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New Hampshire primary picks

Back in October, I had New Hampshire called as follows:

1st - McCain (~35%)
2nd - Paul (~30%)
3rd - Romney (~25%)
4th - Giuliani (~20%)

With the rise of Huckabee, the fall of Giuliani, and the inexplicable staying power of the substanceless Thompson, I'm updating that prediction ... but it's not changing as much as you'd think:

1st - McCain (~30%)
2nd and 3rd - Paul and Romney in a close and unpredictable fight, (average 23% each)
4th - Thompson (~10%)
5th - Huckabee (~8%)
6th - Giuliani (5%)
7th - Hunter (~1%)

I originally had Romney picked in third, but I've got mixed feelings about him now. He wasn't able to buy victory in Iowa as I predicted he would do, and Thompson is cutting into his "let's vote safe and comfortable" market share. On the other hand, he's picking up some of Giuliani's lost "establishment" mojo, and I suspect that there's some Huckabee backlash brewing for Tuesday. Huck was the "real conservative protest vote" darling for a bit, but not many people are shithouse rat crazy enough to actually want him to win.

Democrat side: Clear win for Obama, Edwards in credible second, Clinton back in third and does not manage a "comeback kid" turnaround a la Bill.

Of course I'm 0 for 2 on the GOP side and 0 for 1 on the Democrat side so far, so I wouldn't advise running these picks and a fist full of cash over to your bookie.

Any way you cut it, my October picks are becoming less and less relevant. There's blood on the floor now and it's slippery all around, but I don't see Giuliani pulling anything like my October prediction in Michigan, or Paul doing as badly there as I initially predicted. How Romney does is largely up to how Thompson and Huckabee do in New Hampshire. I certainly won't be pulling for Romney, but I'll be honest: Huck scares me, and Giuliani would scare me if he was still a factor.

On the Democrat side, it's getting more and more interesting. I predict an anti-Obama backlash after New Hampshire, but Edwards rather than Clinton will be the beneficiary.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Wyoming Caucus: Romney 8, Paul 0

I picked Ron Paul to win the Wyoming GOP caucus today ... and it was a really stupid pick. Romney romped.

Mea culpa -- I didn't do my research. I assumed that the caucus was open to Republican voters in general (by registration or self-identification), like the Iowa caucus. I thought Paul had a chance because normal Wyomingans (Wyomingians? Wyomingites?) supposedly fall more toward the libertarian side of the political spectrum. Turns out that this "caucus" is merely a vote of ward heelers party officials, who could hardly be expected to go for an "anti-party-establishment" candidate like Paul.

Do the Wyoming results mean anything in the big picture? Not really. While neither Iowa nor New Hampshire can be considered snapshots of the American electorate, at least they're snapshots of their own electorates. Wyoming isn't even that. It's just a party-insider log roll, and whatever dissident elements exist in the Wyoming GOP machine apparently decided on a meaningless banzai charge for Duncan Hunter (one delegate) rather than for more credible "anti-establishmentarians" like Paul, Huckabee or McCain.

The Wyoming result does show that Rudy Giuliani has lost not only his mo with real voters (as Iowa demonstrated), but his darling status with the party elite as well. If Giuliani drops out before New Hampshire and throws his support to McCain, he might be able to get a sinecure. I doubt if he can draw the veep slot for it since he's obviously falling to tail-end Charlie anyway, but maybe some token secretaryship with good graft opportunities. Right up his alley.

[N.B. I'm sure some of you are asking yourself if Kn@ppster is going soft on Ron Paul. The answer? No, not really ... but I do hope he can break through the GOP's pro-big-government party machinery, appeal directly to those GOP voters who favor the smaller government their party promises but never delivers, and hasten the demise of the GOP -- which is, at this point, beyond being able to lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.]

Friday, January 04, 2008

Because They Can, Springfield edition

If you've never been inside Pythian Castle in Springfield, Missouri, take my word for it: It's a grand old building. It went up in the early 20th century, was taken over by the military in WWII, and as of the late 1980s it was used by my US Marine Corps Reserve unit for classes and other activities. At that time, it was much-neglected by the "public-private partnership" (read: taxpayer money hole) leasing it from the military, but you could tell that it had once been beautiful and could be again if someone cared to make it that way.

Someone did, and that someone got lucky: The military put the building up for auction, and there were few bids. My recollection is that it sold for around $5,000 ... and that's when the problems started, with wailing and gnashing of teeth about how historic it was and how it needed to be "preserved." In politicalese, of course, this usually means something else. We'll talk about what in a minute.

The building was resold in 2003 to Tamara Finocchiaro and M. J. Page, who wanted to put it back to its historical uses: It had a ballroom that they wanted to operate as a ballroom. It had a theatre that they wanted to operate as a theatre. And they were not just willing, but intent upon, restoring it structurally and aesthetically, to its former glory.

Four years later, the new owners are still bogged down in the swamp that is Springfield, Missouri's city government.

There's a code violation. You have to fix it.

Wait, you can't fix that code violation without a permit! No, we won't give you one of those.

You're changing the use -- the last use was as a rat zoo for OACAC and as a classroom for teaching Marines about sexually transmitted diseases and how to jab themselves with atropine if Saddam opens a can of sarin on them. You'll have to get it rezoned if you want to use its ballroom as a ballroom or its theatre as a theatre. No, we won't rezone it.

The building is unsafe. How do we know it's unsafe? Why, because we want it to be unsafe, and because we say it's unsafe, and because we're the government, see? No, there's no way for you to make it safe, because to do that you'd have to satisfy us, and we're not going to be satisfied, see?

Now, for the translation from politicalese into English:

Someone in, or with strong connections to, Springfield's city bureaucracy either wants that building, or wants the land it's on, or doesn't want it competing with a business he owns, or has some grand political plan for it that little things like property rights are in the way of, or wants a bribe to break the logjam.

That kind of game isn't unusual in Springfield. When I lived there, I often heard it referred to as "The Carlson Pivot." That's not to say that the right honorable mayor is the grifter behind this particular obscenity, of course. It could be any of a dozen. But that's almost certainly what's going on here.

The best way to handle this kind of thing is to

- Mobilize some citizens to make an issue of it. Roaches scurry for the corner when you turn on a light in the room. Pythian Castle is probably not the only iron this swindler has in the fire, and he'll give up one thing before he'll risk having his whole gravyboat overturned.

- Get some organizations to publicly commit to holding events at Pythian Castle, when and if it's open for business. If the city council is publicly cast in the position of blocking convention and tourist dollars from coming into town, they'll trip over each other running to set things right. I suspect that Libertarian city councilman Doug Burlison is already all over this. Let's help the other council members see their way clear to getting behind him.

I'll get things started -- as a member of the Missouri Libertarian Party's executive committee, I'll be making (or supporting, if one of our Springfield-area members makes it) a motion at our next meeting to negotiate terms for holding a state convention at Pythian Castle when and if it is allowed to open for business.

Iowa caucus: Hot washup

So, how did I do with my predictions? Not very well. Here are the actual results.

I thought Romney would pull it out and beat Huckabee -- he completely tanked instead.

I didn't think that McCain would do well at all, seeing as how he has been an Iowa scoffer/semi-non-participant for two presidential campaigns in a row. But, with 96% of precincts reporting, he's in a dead heat with Thompson for third. I had McCain picked to be around where Giuliani actually ended up. I thought Thompson would be contesting 3rd/4th place with Ron Paul. Paul's firmly in 5th place at ~10%.

The biggest surprise for me was how poorly Giuliani fared. A lot of GOP pundits are going to be telling you "don't stick a fork in him ... he's not done." They're wrong. He is done.

Giuliani's plan was to lie low in Iowa and New Hampshire, coasting to third or fourth place finishes but showing a firm base of support -- 10-15%; then open up the can of whipass in Florida. He outsmarted himself: Florida might have waited around for him if he had remained in the top tier, but he's in Duncan Hunter low-single-digit territory now, and it's tough to come back from that when you were the alleged frontrunner. His Iowa outcome kills his already shaky New Hampshire third place prospects, and by January 29th the word in Florida is going to be "Rudy who?"

Florida is full of voters who, being older themselves, are unlikely to hold age against a candidate they otherwise respect. The big beneficiary of Giuliani's early breakdown will be John Mccain.

Speaking of which, I first (almost as a joke, but still) predicted that McCain would secure the GOP presidential nomination (and likely the presidency itself) on May 29th, 2007, when his campaign was at its lowest point, and have been seriously predicting that since at least as long ago as October. It's nice to see the pundits catching up with me the last week or so.

McCain will probably take 1st or 2nd place in New Hampshire (Romney's not dead yet, but he's lying on the ground twitching and bleeding -- New Hampshire will be his last hurrah). McCain will do well in South Carolina, and he'll friggin' romp in Michigan and Florida. He very well may run the table on Super Duper Tuesday (I had him picked to win several big states that day, but it turns out I was under- rather than over-estimating him). Knock off the brokered convention jabber. I predict that McCain will secure an absolute majority of convention delegates before Memorial Day at the latest, and possibly as early as February. Running mate? Colin Powell. And no, I'm not kidding.

On the Democratic side, I did poorly as well. I pegged Hillary's percentage, but didn't project that percentage putting her in third place, or Obama breaking out 8 points ahead of her. It's too early to call her dead in the water, but Obama and Edwards both get a big boost out of Iowa; she doesn't.

OK, back to the GOP side, because we have to talk about Ron Paul. He didn't do as well as I predicted, but he exceeded his polling numbers. He got 10% ... Bill Clinton polled 3% in the Iowa Democratic Caucus in 1992. No, I'm not saying Paul is going to pull it out and get the GOP nomination, but I think he did well enough to keep his activist base energized. He has a shot at coming in 2nd or 3rd in New Hampshire. After Super Duper Tuesday, he'll almost certainly be clearly out of the running ... for the GOP nomination. So, I'm adjusting the odds of his seeking (and getting) the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination up from 95% to 97%.