The Shotgun Blog
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Reason tv: Interview with Bob Barr
Former U.S. Congressman Bob Barr joined the U.S. Libertarian Party a while ago to try and make them a little more popular. To further this effort, he's running to become their presidential candidate. He faces a lot of competition, including former Alaska Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel (yeah, I know. What is he doing running as a Libertarian of all things...).
We chatted about the LP and their presidential candidates with Mike Munger, who is running for governor of North Carolina on the LP ticket, and will be speaking at their national convention, on our radio show yesterday. I said yesterday that the LP has a lot of "high-power" individuals involved at the moment. Not since Ron Paul represented the LP have they had a professional politician representing the party (I'd be inclined to put money on Barr winning the race).
Of course, it's also very likely that some large number of Paulistas will put their energy and amazing fund raising abilities behind Barr and the LP. If Barr manages to persuade the Paulians to join the LP and be boosters for his presidential bid, that could spell trouble for McCain and the Republicans who have been busy disenfranchising a lot of the new blood that Paul has pulled in. That leaves a much older demographic and war hawks as McCain's base. But I really, really don't like McCain, and would prefer Clinton or Obama to him, so maybe my thoughts on what constitutes McCain's base is coloured by my dislike of his policies and positions.
What follows (and I know it's too big, but I can't change it. So I'm putting it after the jump) is a reason.tv interview with Barr. He explains why he voted for the PATRIOT Act, the impact of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged on his political views, and why, in general, Barr wants to be president (note the choice of music for the questions... Toby Keith's "I love this bar"):
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He’s an articulate, sensible man with bonafides in conservative and libertarian circles. He will be a threat to McCain. McCain’s campaign is a one-legged stool – national security hawks. He doesn’t have the so-cons or the free marketers. The Reagan coalition is dead, which creates an opportunity for a libertarian spoiler. Barr can’t win, but he can cause McCain to lose and in doing so might actually save the Republican party from the statists currently running the show.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-05-13 1:15:15 PM
>"Barr can’t win, but he can cause McCain to lose and in doing so might actually save the Republican party from the statists currently running the show."
Matthew Johnston | 13-May-08 1:15:15 PM
And hand the Presidency to the statists in the Democrat race.
I don't know why these "Libertarians" can't be the spoilers in the Democrat race instead of the Republican one.
Radicals belong on the Left.
Sure, you've got to break eggs to make an omelet, but if you think Libertarians are going to be welcome in SoCon circles if this strategy plays out you've got another think coming.
The Libertarians are going to wear egg for a long time and they Progressive statists are going to run America for a long time.
Posted by: Speller | 2008-05-13 1:52:24 PM
Libertarians are for freedom, and both the left and right tend to be for big government in the end, which doesn't seem compatible with libertarianism. At least to my uneducated mind.
They are idealistic too, and it seems that you can get elected or you can be idealistic, so they will never get elected. We can only hope they do some day.
In the mean time, we will live with LP taking votes from the right more than the left. For good or bad.
Posted by: TM | 2008-05-13 2:24:34 PM
You like obama or hillary more than McCain, policy-wise?! Are you insane? I don't much care for McCain and a lot of his ideas but, my God man, he is far, far better than either of the leftists in the race, period.
Now I'm not a libertarian but it's painfully, painfully clear who is more in line with libertarian beliefs and it is *not* obama or clinton.
Posted by: ECM | 2008-05-13 2:28:17 PM
That's only if you focus on economics, ECM. But if you oppose big government on economic, civil, and military matters, then both of the Democrats begin to appear a little better than McCain. And if you also consider that a loss for McCain will give pro-liberty people a better argument for a more libertarian Republican candidate next time around, then that's another reason to go with anyone but McCain.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-05-13 2:38:50 PM
>"Libertarians are for freedom, and both the left and right tend to be for big government in the end, which doesn't seem compatible with libertarianism."
TM | 13-May-08 2:24:34 PM
Well TM, and Conservatives are for freedom too, they're just not insanely unrealistic about it, like Libertarians are, and Conservatives aren't fringe radical assholes like Libertarians are.
As well, Conservatives aren't suicidal about defense, which takes a big government in this modern world, and Libertarians have never established a national government EVER nor have they formed a significant portion of a government, although they like to get all righteous in their infantile assholeon way and PRETEND that they've done both.
(which they haven't)
Posted by: Speller | 2008-05-13 2:50:44 PM
>"And if you also consider that a loss for McCain will give pro-liberty people a better argument for a more libertarian Republican candidate next time around, then that's another reason to go with anyone but McCain."
Jaworski | 13-May-08 2:38:50 PM
Libertarians are going to be spit out like a mouthful of cigarette butts, by SoCons, if they pull the radical shit that they are preparing to pull and the "next time" is going to be a long long time not the next time at all.
Conservatives love liberty but hate radicalism.
Radicalism is for Leftists, the world is a dangerous place, and Libertarians are insane when it comes to defence policy.
Posted by: Speller | 2008-05-13 2:56:48 PM
Speller, since I am new at this, maybe you can help me understand what the Libertarian defence policy is?
Posted by: TM | 2008-05-13 3:30:06 PM
If you say so, Speller. But why the hostility?
And why not just agree with libertarians when they claim that Republicans are in favour of big government and opposed to individual liberty? Why the hedge about not being "insane" about liberty? Why not just say something like "liberty isn't everything?"
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-05-13 3:32:32 PM
TM, here is the Libertarian defence policy in a nutshell.
(plus everyone and his dog get guns)
Posted by: Speller | 2008-05-13 3:34:51 PM
Speller, you seem a little upset. Maybe you need a nap.
Posted by: TM | 2008-05-13 3:53:38 PM
Jaws, while Liberty isn't everything, being alive is pretty important along with health , your own government isn't your worst enemy either.
The hostility comes as a reaction to the arrogance of Libertarians thinking that a minority can take over and institute radical change among Conservatives as well as the constant assertion that Libertarians have the market cornered on caring about liberty.
Start your own party, Libertarians, make it known you are separate from the Conservatives and stop trying to destroy Conservatism.
Wake up, Libertarians, to the fact that a sizable majority of Libertarians are Leftist/Anarchist Libertines who are glad to destroy Conservatism.
Purge those Leftist/Anarchist Libertines first, Libertarians, and we'll be glad to absorb what remains of you and have your influence.
Saying you're going to wreck everything because you can't have your way is a Leftist play.
And NO, Republicans aren't in favour of big government, as in socialist government, there are just a lot of unprincipled RINOs like McClain in the party, but he's still better than a dyed-in-the-wool America hating Democrat.
Yes, the Conservatives want to purge the RINOs in the U.S. or the CINOs in Canada, but it has to be done by degrees or the Socialists will continue to make things much worse than they are.
Jaws, have you even thought of what it will be like with the Dems as radical as they are and a Dem controlled Congress?
Posted by: Speller | 2008-05-13 3:55:13 PM
Speller: The best thing about the conservative movement is its libertarian strains, whatever they are. The entire history of conservatism is parasitic on libertarian philosophy and libertarian ideas. Who are your "conservative" heroes? Try to name five without naming a libertarian. Good luck.
Some libertarians have started a political party, the Libertarian Party. (That's why, incidentally, it matters whether you capitalize the "l" in "libertarian." I have no idea whether your attack is on the political philosophy or the political party, because you refuse to play according to the rules (you're such a spelling libertine, Speller...)
I'd be happy for the libertarians to leave the conservative movement. The conservative movement is intellectually bankrupt. There is nothing interesting or exciting going on there. "National greatness" conservatism? Occasionally, I'm tempted by the "paleo-conservatives" (especially in the Mises Institute camp) who call this outright fascism.
As for the nonsense about "living"... Please, Speller: You really should know better. What we have is a difference of opinion about what would happen if we pursued a non-interventionist vs. interventionist foreign policy. I'm on the side that says terrorism and aggressiveness towards the U.S. and Canada would decline if the U.S. pursued a more humble foreign policy. But reasonable people can reasonably disagree about this.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-05-13 6:50:05 PM
What about Winston Churchill? Or Chesterton?
I agree that it is liberalism (classical liberalism, libertarianism) that is at the intellectual heart of our movement.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-05-13 7:23:40 PM
The problem, P.M., is that you're looking to inflict an Obama or Clinton on us for up to eight years with a compliant congress--how much damage do you think they can muster in taht span of time?
And just economically? Obama and Clinton want bigger, more intrusive government *across the board*. When did libertarians decide they wanted much higher taxes, universsal healthcare and the government sticking its nose ever more deeply in our business?
The problem is that many, many libertarians (including Bob Barr now, it seems) suffer as acute a case of Bush Derangement Syndrome as the most foam-flecked leftist, and are willing to burn the whole place down in a misguided effort to 'start anew' (note: I, too, strongly dislike a huge array of the things GWB has done, but certainly not enough to take the worse of two evils to pay back a man that isn't actually running for office).
So you'll toss McCain overboard because he isn't pro-choice, isn't for legalizing drugs, and isn't for getting out of Iraq (or foreign policy in general) in the belief that this will force the next challenger for the Republican party to think more libertarian? While throwing 4-5 USC seats to the 'freedom'-loving left while you're at it?
Let me stress that I do *not* like McCain (I don't know any true conservative that does), but I am not about to let the house burn down because a few of the rooms have been damaged--even severaly--in a fire.
Posted by: ECM | 2008-05-13 8:26:34 PM
Just to be clear: I don't represent "libertarianism" or the Libertarian Party, I am stating my personal opinion, which is informed by libertarianism.
A massively expanded government "across the board"? Is it going to be bigger than the one Bush is leaving behind? If all the Democrats accomplish is shrinking the warfare state, that might leave a smaller government even if they increased spending on almost all other things.
Bush was a disaster. Either genuine conservatives teach the GOP a lesson, or the GOP won't be worth voting for.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-05-13 8:33:16 PM
>"Who are your "conservative" heroes? Try to name five without naming a libertarian."
Phyllis Schlafly, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, William F. Buckley Jr., Rush Limbaugh, Stockwell Day, Russell Kirk, John Adams, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and if you say any of these are libertarians, you better be prepared to prove they deserve the moniker in absence pf the name Conservative, not simply because they favoured liberty, which Conservatives do love as much as anyone, in a few areas that are now proscribed by policy or law.
>"I have no idea whether your attack is on the political philosophy or the political party, because you refuse to play according to the rules (you're such a spelling libertine, Speller...)"
And yes, I sometimes take poetic licence in my spelling and jargon, but spelling isn't what my nic is about. Ponder that for a spell.
>"I'm on the side that says terrorism and aggressiveness towards the U.S. and Canada would decline if the U.S. pursued a more humble foreign policy. But reasonable people can reasonably disagree about this."
Is that why there is terrorism in the Philippines?
Because they have such interventionist foreign policy?
Or Hizb'allah is so aggressive towards the Lebanese government, because of Lebanon's interventionist policy?
How about the Islamic Brotherhoods assassination of Anwar Sadat?
Was that because of interventionist foreign policy?
You do know that the founder of the Islamic Brotherhood is/was Osama bin Laden's right hand man.
Islam wasn't spread with a butter knife, Jaws.
World hegemony is a core precept of Islam.
Jihad is the Sixth Pillar.
But the real threat is still Communism, because the Cold War never ended, the West simply declared victory and stopped fighting but the communists haven't stopped at all.
Posted by: Speller | 2008-05-14 4:16:13 AM
Do you really think an opportunistic "former conservative" can save us from the damage that the terrible mainstream candidates will do to our country? Not likely.
Posted by: Rob Diego | 2008-05-14 8:08:53 AM
Speller: Still, it would be nice to know where you are directing your attack--at the members of the LP, or at libertarians more broadly. Yours might be a fair criticism of party members, but it would be difficult to make the same case against libertarians, more broadly. People like Randy Barnett, for instance, are hawks, and are libertarian. There are plenty of other pro-war libertarians.
Spelling rules are conventional, and are upheld by each of us. If your intention is to communicate clearly, then you ought to follow the customs. Recall Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland, who insisted that when he said "glory" he meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you," and then changed the meaning later. Or have a look at The Onion's video on the Congressman who uses "plonk" as a verb, noun, adjective, and so on.
As for terrorism... Obviously there isn't one source or one reason for it. In the case of the U.S., however, I believe that non-interventionism would do a great deal to lessen terrorism in North America. In other parts of the world, like in Ireland, non-interventionism wouldn't do much of anything at all. But that's why my claim was about the U.S., and not about Lebanon or the Philipines or even Ireland.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-05-14 11:02:45 AM
>"Spelling rules are conventional, and are upheld by each of us."
>"Recall Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland, who insisted that when he said "glory" he meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you," and then changed the meaning later."
You're confusing semantics, the meaning of language, spoken or written, with spelling, which isn't the spoken word and has little to do with meaning.
Although I will grant that words like: to/too/two - course/coarse - red/read - weather/whether etc. have to be spelled according to convention to convey accurate meaning.
Still and all, Jaws, I don't want the thread diverted by grammar and spelling issues.
What do you think of my ability to come up with Conservative heroes?
I could have given you more.
Posted by: Speller | 2008-05-14 12:37:16 PM
Speller: I will give you a thumbs up on your conservative hero list. I don't know why Stockwell Day is on there, but that's your business. It is, after all, your list of heroes.
Maggie Thatcher once plunked down Hayek's "Constitution of Liberty" on the table and said, "This is what we believe!" Hayek, of course, was a libertarian. And I bet you Thatcher's heroes were Ron Reagan's heroes, who were--almost all of them--libertarian. Hayek, Friedman, Locke, Mill, and so on. They fit much easier in the libertarian camp than anywhere else.
But you get full credit.
The "l" vs. "L" discussion isn't merely about spelling, but precisely about meaning. If you use the one, you refer to something different than if you use the other. Capital "L" means the political party, while lower-case "l" refers to the philosophy. There are plenty of Libertarians who aren't libertarian and vice versa.
And language is conventional. The difference between English spelling and American spelling is still just a matter of convention. Except the two countries parted ways a while back with respect to some words.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-05-14 7:09:14 PM
Frédéric Bastiat is credited with the first known use of the a term which can be rendered as "libertarian" in 1847.
Therefore, any historic figure predating 1847 who is claimed to be a libertarian by Libertarians cannot rightly be claimed as a libertarian but only as a historic figure who shared libertarian views.
This includes John Locke, Patrick Henry, John Stuart Mill(although Mill's lifespan overlaps with this time frame), and a whole raft of others.
This is simply cherry picking. By this methodology one could rifle through the Holy Bible itself and claim Moses was a libertarian.
If any respectable historic personage evinced or evinces support of views which modern Libertarians falsely claim they hold a monopoly on today, Libertarians retroactively shoehorn this figure as one of their own.
Rubbish, says I.
It is only historic revisionism of the worst sort on the part of Libertarians.
"The "l" vs. "L" discussion isn't merely about spelling, but precisely about meaning. If you use the one, you refer to something different than if you use the other. Capital "L" means the political party, while lower-case "l" refers to the philosophy. There are plenty of Libertarians who aren't libertarian and vice versa."
I will now stipulate that the above, while unsupported by corroborative sources, is correct for the sake of furthering this argument, although I find it to be a tad disingenuous, overly convenient for you, and not just a little bit confusing.
Jaws, your little ditty from Alice in Wonderland 14-May-08 11:02:45 AM no more demonstrates the need for proper spelling, especially the case form beginning a word, than cabbages prove the existence of Kings.
>"And language is conventional. The difference between English spelling and American spelling is still just a matter of convention. Except the two countries parted ways a while back with respect to some words."
P.M. Jaworski | 14-May-08 7:09:14 PM
Language, especially the English language, evolves.
For example the original King James version of the Holy Bible does not contain the letter "S"among other startling differences.
Thus we get the parable of "the Prodigal Fonne" known today as "the Prodigal Son".
Not only is spelling fluid in the English language, semantic meaning also evolves. Old meaning becomes archaic and is lost while, if the word doesn't fall into disuse altogether, the word often becomes freighted with an entirely new meaning unrelated to the word's etymology.
>"The Reagan coalition is dead, which creates an opportunity for a libertarian spoiler. Barr can’t win, but he can cause McCain to lose and in doing so might actually save the Republican party from the statists currently running the show."
Matthew Johnston | 13-May-08 1:15:15 PM
>"That's only if you focus on economics, ECM. But if you oppose big government on economic, civil, and military matters, then both of the Democrats begin to appear a little better than McCain. And if you also consider that a loss for McCain will give pro-liberty people a better argument for a more libertarian Republican candidate next time around, then that's another reason to go with anyone but McCain."
P.M. Jaworski | 13-May-08 2:38:50 PM
I see here that you, Mr.Jaworski and Mr. Johnston, are agreed on the view that libertarians should back the Domocrats by wrecking the Republican bid.
>"And why not just agree with libertarians when they claim that Republicans are in favour of big government and opposed to individual liberty?"
P.M. Jaworski | 13-May-08 3:32:32 PM
"Republicans(not Conservatives) are in favoure of big government"?
Whatever are libertarians doing in the Republican party?
This is what chaps my hide.
That libertarians see Republicans as for bigger government and guilty of more domestic intrusiveness than Democrats, yet have insinuated themselves into the Republican party and the republican race and are determined to wreck it in order to bring the Democrats to power.
>"The best thing about the conservative movement is its libertarian strains, whatever they are. The entire history of conservatism is parasitic on libertarian philosophy and libertarian ideas."
P.M. Jaworski | 13-May-08 6:50:05 PM
It seems pretty clear that you have the above exactly backwards.
Posted by: Speller | 2008-05-15 8:11:50 AM
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