Category Archives: politics

Libertarians vs. Corporatism [Updated]

Update: Matt Yglesias has a reponse essay at Cato Unbound linked in the sidebar. Better yet is a response to the response at Will Wilkinson’s blog. Reading the comments is pretty worthwhile, too.

Roderick Long (about whom I know nothing other than that he is “a left-libertarian market anarchist in social theory” as described on his about page) writes in Cato Unbound about how the Big Business Right is all about state protection of corporations as opposed to a free market, and how libertarians who yoke themselves into coalition with right wing statists betray their own principles.

Defenders of the free market are often accused of being apologists for big business and shills for the corporate elite. Is this a fair charge?

No and yes. Emphatically no—because corporate power and the free market are actually antithetical; genuine competition is big business’s worst nightmare. But also, in all too many cases, yes —because although liberty and plutocracy cannot coexist, simultaneous advocacy of both is all too possible.

Followed by a litany of how state power protects big business: favorable tax rates, regulatory barriers to entry by competitors, subsidy of transportation costs, and so forth.

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About That Palin Backstabbing…

Update: followup post here.

I’d assumed that the genesis of the “Sarah Palin thinks Africa is a country not a continent” story/smear was sour-grapes McCain staffers lashing out at anything but their boss for his electoral defeat.

Turns out it’s not even from a real McCain staffer, or actually even a real person at all.

The NYT:

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character. But under the circumstances, why should anyone believe a word they say?

“That’s a really good question,” one of the two, Eitan Gorlin, said with a laugh.

Indeed. Read the whole thing and all that.

What this tells us is that political campaigns in the future need to be much more cognizant of what’s going on in the extended blogosphere. In a properly-run campaign, this story would have been spotted by a real staffer who could have had the campaign manager say “we’ve never heard of this guy — whoever he is, he doesn’t work for us.”

It also tells us that when a story looks too good to be true — when it perfectly confirms our pre-existing bias notions — that maybe we should treat it skeptically until we can verify it independently. Remember, “unnamed sources say” is exactly equivalent to “I heard this juicy rumor.”

Politics as Substance Abuse

Two things happened yesterday that suddenly came together in my head this morning on my drive in to work.

The first was a conversation my wife and I had about someone we know, who is a recovering alcoholic. She said, “whatever is most advantageous to him at any particular moment, that’s what he thinks is true.” And I looked over at her and said, “well, substance abuser…”

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Musings on the Election: Followup

Clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks that the GOP needs to reorient toward the libertarian faction and away from the social con/religious right faction. How the Republican Party Can Create a New Winning Coalition

1. Religious Freedom. The religious right has held the reins of the Republican Party for far too long — and has driven it straight over a cliff. A fertilized egg is not a person. A woman has a right to get an abortion. Homosexuals deserve equal rights. The government should not subsidize religious institutions, fund religious education, or censor Biblically-incorrect expression.

At the same time, people have the right to worship as they see fit — so long as they respect the rights of others — or not to worship at all. People have the right to teach their children their values, whether at home or at privately funded religious schools. Religion must stay out of politics, and the state must stay out of religion.

Religious voters can remain a part of a winning GOP coalition, so long as their goal is to keep politics out of religion, not inject religion into politics. Abortion bans and fear mongering about homosexuals can no longer be the litmus tests of primaries. Republican candidates must clearly endorse the separation of church and state, a separation necessary for the protection of both church and state.

As for those who insist on imposing God’s alleged will on the rest of us, let them join their compatriots on the left — as many are already doing. They can only corrupt and impede a new liberty coalition.

Volokh Conspiracy: Return of the Conservative-Libertarian Coalition? A New Libertarian-Conservative Coalition?

I’m sure that more than ten minutes’ surfing would turn up a lot more such articles.

Let’s hope that the Republicans can finally turn away from legislating morality. Not only does it not work, it often provokes the very behavior it tries to quash.

Musings on the Election

Programming Note

As I get into this, I just want to state for the record that when I write “Democrats” or “Republicans” I mean the official establishment of the party apparatus and their elected politicians. I’ll make it clear in context if I mean individual voters of whichever affiliation. So if I write “the Democrats are full of shit,” I don’t mean my wife or the guy next door, I mean Obama/Pelosi/Reid/Dean/the Democratic Congressional caucus/the Democratic Party.


First off, let me say that it’s a testament to how far we’ve come as a nation that an African-American can even be nominated for the Presidency, much less elected to it. My congratulations to President-Elect Obama and all his supporters — not only did you win, but you won big enough that the legitimacy of our election system can’t be seriously attacked this time.

Jonah Goldberg:

[D]uring the debate over the financial crisis, Obama said that a president should be able to do more than one thing at a time. Well, I think we members of the loyal opposition should be able to make distinctions simultaneously. It is a wonderful thing to have the first African-American president. It is a wonderful thing that in a country where feelings are so intense that power can be transferred so peacefully. Let us hope that the Obama his most dedicated — and most sensible! — fans see turns out to be the real Obama. Let us hope that Obama succeeds and becomes a great president, for all the right reasons.

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