Currently viewing the tag: "Ron Paul"

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld need help.

The two most qualified Libertarian Party candidates to come along in my lifetime are getting lots of mainstream media attention, but they are doing a horrible job of selling and explaining the great ideas and principles they represent.

Have they never watched John Stossel or read Frederic Bastiat or Milton Friedman?

Have they never checked to see what the late Harry Browne said in his speeches or interviews? He wasn’t as qualified as either of these ex-blue-state governors, but he knew how to sell freedom. So did Ron Paul in a far less smooth, but more endearing way.

But Jeeze.

With Trump and Hillary competing hourly to see who is the most evil, this is a golden chance for the LP to capture a double-digit percentage of voters and become part of what passes for the national political conversation. But so far they are blowing it.

These nice guys not just dull, they were apparently each born without a marketing gene. Did they ever run for office or were they both appointed?

They need to come up with a couple of campaign slogans or little “parables” — the kind of stuff libertarians use at bars to try to persuade our clueless liberal friends that we aren’t neo-Nazis.

Johnson has blurted out the line that the Libertarian Twins want government to “stay out of our bedrooms” and “out of our wallets.” That’s a good start — the old “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” one-two.

But he and Weld need to elaborate and expound and offer examples of what that phrase means in terms of privacy rights and tax bites.

How about something like “We libertarians are against all government wars at home and abroad — wars on drugs, wars on poverty, wars on illiteracy, wars on Iraq and all other countries that haven’t done anything to harm us.”

Or how about the campaign slogan Rand Paul should have used but J&W and the LP are actually more suited for — “Peace, Pot and Uber”?

It appeals to the young and the heartbroken ex-Sanders supporters by being against foreign intervention, and for decriminalization of marijuana and other drugs.

It appeals to libertarians for the same reason, plus Uber is a symbol of entrepreneurial innovation, deregulation, free markets, and market-based solutions to bad government-rigged stuff like the monopoly taxicab “service” that has robbed and ill-served our urban populations for eighty years.

Ignorance of Uber by J&W is especially galling to me.

Millions of city people use Uber in the USA every week. It’s the greatest thing to happen to cities since sewers and sidewalks. But every candidate so far has missed the Uber vote — which is under 30, 60 percent female, urban/suburban, and diverse as hell.

As an Uber driver in Pittsburgh with 3,000-plus trips and 5,000 to 6,000 riders in my career, I can attest that 99.7 percent of Uber users love it — despite the nonstop attack against it by a mainstream media that has no clue about what Uber has done to improve life in cities and why it’s a win-win-win deal for drivers, previously stranded females, and a more sober society.

So what if under-30s don’t vote that much. Appeal to them the right way — with Uber and decriminalized drugs — and they might cast their first vote for a libertarian.

Rand Paul has virtually disappeared from the media and the polls.

Even his die-hard supporters can’t tell you what the senator has been doing or saying for the last month.

But if the presidential wannabe from Kentucky wants to return to viability — and visibility — as a 2016 candidate, he has to separate himself from the GOP’s boring herd at tonight’s debate on CNBC.

Here’s some free advice for Rand Paul from a career libertarian newspaperman:

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Rand Paul needs to follow his father’s path.

First, rip off that ill-fitting Republican mask you’ve been wearing for five years and let people see your inner libertarian soul.

Then start sounding more like your father Dr. Ron, not less.

You need to start tapping more deeply into that young demographic that your father appealed to in 2012 merely by being his own lovable, Fed-bashing libertarian self.

For starters, and especially for early primary voters, Rand, tonight you need to begin branding yourself as an unabashed Pro Peace, Pro Pot and Pro Uber libertarian.

***

It’s probably already too late for Rand Paul.

But boldly pushing the principled libertarian angle on peace, pot, Uber and homeschooling in Iowa would have great appeal across both parties and independents and especially among college-age voters. Plus they are strong anti-establishment positions in a year when being against the establishment is no longer a strike against you but an asset.

Being for Peace, Pot and Uber for libertarian reasons would not just be more honest. It’d quickly bring Rand Paul the media attention he desperately needs before he mounts his next filibuster.

He’d be able to separate himself from the mangy crowd of GOP establishment candidates and their tired conservative ideas while allowing himself to proudly stick up for the principles and values libertarians love and want to implement.

Rand Paul should blast and shame Marco Rubio tonight for his awful prohibitionist stance on marijuana by sticking up for personal freedom; defending states rights comes second. Ditto for Christie’s horrible drug-czar position on drugs.

(Speaking of pot, our friend Matt Welch of Reason.org has a deeper, more substantive “Dear Rand” letter that urges Sen. Paul to separate himself from his fellow debaters this evening and foresquarely call for the legalization of marijuana.)

Rand Paul also should be mocking Rubio’s tough talk about using troops to fix the Middle East hell we made with our previous bloody foolish military interventions and regime toppling fiascos. Ditto for Fiorina’s sure-to-fail Mid-East foreign policy.

Trump, for all the dumb and dumber stuff he says, has done a huge favor for a libertarian like Rand.  Trump’s politically incorrect statements and ideas have lowered, or maybe raised, the bar on what radical things a candidate can say without being punished by the voting public or the media.

Because of Trump and his refreshing “so-what-if-I-said-something-politically-incorrect” attitude, the national liberal media, thankfully, has lost its power to destroy a candidate over a single gaffe at a coffee shop or something like Howard Dean’s scream in 2004.

Thanks to Trump, Rand Paul can take more radical libertarian positions on his natural issues without fear.

Homeschoolers, for  example, are often Christian evangelicals but they are almost all soft libertarians at heart; they deeply understand the importance of freedom from government and school choice and they have made sacrifices to practice it in their everyday lives. They should be Rand Paul’s natural constituency — not Rick Santorum’s.

Another issue tailor-made for Rand Paul is Uber.

I’m an Uber driver in Pittsburgh. I know from experience (1,700 trips, 3000-plus riders) that Uber is universally loved by young people.

It’s also a great libertarian issue because Uber’s ride-sharing business model — micro-transit at its best — is destroying the local government cab monopolies that have tortured the poor and carless citizens of every major city in North America for nearly 80 years with high fares and horrible service.

Only the bad guys hate Uber — existing taxi interests and their big-city political pals and protectors like NYC Mayor DeBlasio.

Uber is well established in Des Moines, for example. As far as I know, Rand Paul hasn’t publicized himself taking Uber rides in Des Moines or, better yet, becoming an Uber driver there for a weekend night.  Where are his campaign people sleeping?

Jeb Bush or Rubio should not be the Uber candidate; Rand Paul should be. He should own the Uber vote. Arguing with Hillary Clinton about the benefits of  the gig economy is not enough.

I’m sure others would like to see Rand Paul tear off his cheap Republican mask and unleash his inner libertarian.

He needs a unique brand. He needs to become the pro peace, pro pot and pro Uber candidate, not to mention the anti-war, anti-IRS, anti-Big Government, anti-Nanny State, anti-surveillance state candidate.

Coming out of his libertarian closet tonight won’t win Rand Paul the GOP nomination or the White House. It may even lose him his seat in the Senate. But it’ll make it a lot easier for him to stand out from his fellow Republicans in 2020, when he runs against President Clinton.

Ex-newspaperman Bill Steigerwald is a career libertarian and author of Dogging Steinbeck, which exposes the truth about “Travels With Charley” and celebrates Flyover America and its people. Blogs, photos, a 1960 Steinbeck/”Charley” trip timeline and more are at TruthAboutCharley.com.

 

A libertarian podcast where ranting is optional, and smashing the state is mandatory.

Our panel discussed two “great” (read: tedious) scandals from the elder Paul, and the curly-headed moppet semi-libertarian Paul Jr. We mused on how much the Washington Free Beacon sucks (or Lucy did). We moved onto chatting about American Sniper, even though Seavey is the only one who had seen it. Lucy had a side tangent about how humanizing Hitler makes for an amazing movie. We finished up with a talk about what non-political things we had been enjoying in the past week or so — sometimes a difficult task when it’s nerdy libertarians chatting.

Host: Lucy Steigerwald, writer for Rare, Antiwar, and VICE, queen of The Stag Blog, co-host of Bourbon and Bitches; @LucyStag
Panel: Joe Steigerwald, technical wizard for The Stag Blog, myriad other sites, bassist for Act of Pardon; @steigerwaldino
Todd Seavey: ghostwriter, excellent and tragically infrequent blogger, sometimes podcaster, former cable news producer; @toddseavey
Jayel Aheram, writer, college student, Iraq war veteran, kick-as photographer; @aheram
Chris Morgan: New Jersey writer, formerly with Biopsy magazine; @CR_Morgan

A libertarian panel show hosted by Lucy Steigerwald, where ranting is encouraged, and smashing the state is mandatory.

This time around, we chatted about ebola, Rand Paul vs. Ron Paul, Ayn Rand, war, space aliens, and other vital libertarian topics. We did not chat about how my sopping wet hair made me look like a drowned rat, but we DID discuss the amazingness of my new t-shirt. We also talked about Bloom after he left, and made fun of him for having a blog url that nobody can say.

 Host: -Lucy Steigerwald: Columnist for VICE.com, Antiwar.com, Rare.us, and Editor in Chief of The Stag Blog; @lucystag

-Joe Steigerwald: Publisher for The Stag Blog, technical dude; guy in a band at www.actofpardon.com; @steigerwaldino

-Jordan Bloom: Opinions editor for the Daily Caller, previously at the American Conservative, blogs at The Mitrailleuse; @j_arthur_bloom

-Michelle Montalvo: Not an intern, sci-fi enthusiast, laconic individual; @michellemntlv

-Todd Seavey: New York human, libertarian writer and ghostwriter; blogs at ToddSeavey.com@toddseavey

Libertarians, those paranoid weirdos! Why do they believe that the government is out to get them? Well, it is, but libertarians are not thoughtless conspiracy theorists — we’re thoughtful ones! We know power is bad, and the state is the most powerful thing there is, so it is probably up to something. Join a delightful panel for a very special episodes of Politics for People Who Hate Politics, during which seven libertarians explore conspiracy theories, advocate for skepticism, but then get very distracted by how much they enjoy the stories for their sake.

Host: Lucy Steigerwald: Columnist for VICE.com, Antiwar.com, Rare.us, and Editor in Chief of The Stag Blog; @lucystag

-Jesse Walker: Books editor for Reason magazine and Reason.com, author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America and The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory; @notjessewalker

-Dan Bier: executive editor at the Skeptical Libertarian; @skepticaldan

-Franklin Harris: assistant metro editor for the Decatur Daily; @FranklinH3000

-Seth Wilson: blogger at cultwestern.com; @TheJackalopeTX

-Zach Fountain: songwriter, blogger at rushmorebeekeepers.com; @rbeekeepers

-Joe Steigerwald: Publisher for The Stag Blog, technical dude; @steigerwaldino

Further reading/listening/watching:

The United States of Paranoia by Jesse Walker

“The Greatest Fake Religion of All Time” by Jesse Walker

“In Defense of Paranoia” by Lucy Steigerwald

“The Alien” song by Zach Fountain

simpsons-kodos-treehouseofhorrorStupid Point/Counterpoint is a new feature in which Stag Blog columnist Joe Steigerwald counters the worst editorials on the internet with a well-written and thought out rebuttal. Also: mockery and yelling.

How do you write a critique of libertarianism without doing any research into the subject of libertarianism? Join Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer as they answer that question, and more!

AMERICA, did you know there is a shadowy group of extremists whose only goal is bringing about the destruction of the state? This cadre of radicals operates under our very noses, advocating for less government and more personal freedom. If we allow them to succeed they will plunge the country into destruction. They must be eliminated.

I for one thank God that we have Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu to expose these monsters.

Are Libertarians the new Communists? The question, authored by Michael Bloomberg under the pen name Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu, would appear to have an obvious answer: no. Or, more appropriately: hell no, are you stupid? However, that is only because you have been brainwashed by the massive libertarian juggernaut. They of the 1 percent of the popular vote in the 2012 Presidential election and zero active members in the U.S. government.

The article posits that while communism and extreme libertarianism (a word so unpopular spell check doesn’t even recognize it) appear to be “polar opposites” they are actually “mirror images,” and the adoption of either would result in unchecked human misery, poverty, and tyranny.

I’d like to think (or at least pray) that most people would laugh when they read Hanauer and Liu’s anti-libertarian polemic appearing (ever so appropriately) at Bloomberg.com. I’d love to believe that most rational humans who read the article threw up their hands, closed down their browsers, got back into their beds, and pulled up the covers; vowing never again to leave their house. Those few people who actually finished the article probably fell into one of two camps: enraged libertarians and Michael Bloomberg worshiping authoritarians.

Some articles with terrible headlines actually improve upon close reading. This isn’t one of them. It turns out the title is probably the most well thought-out part of the entire endeavor. It’s completely misleading, but it’s excellent link bait. The headline screams that juicy controversial content is inside — it begs to be clicked and shared– but the article can’t deliver upon that promise. It’s obviously unreasearched, blatantly misleading on every level, and poorly written. The writers have to strain the limits of belief to build their rather shaky case that a country run by “extremist” libertarians would develop the same problems that plague the communist-controlled China, Cuba, and North Korea.

By the second paragraph Hanauer and Liu have changed their entire premise: libertarians aren’t the problem, it’s the “extremist” or “radical” wing of the party that is the problem. Unfortunately the named are all Republicans, not libertarians, and certainly not part of the “extremist” wing of the party:

Some of the radical libertarians are Ayn Rand fans who divide their fellow citizens into makers, in the mold of John Galt, and takers, in the mold of anyone not John Galt.

Some, such as the Koch brothers, are economic royalists who repackage trickle-down economics as “libertarian populism.” Some are followers of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whose highest aspiration is to shut down government. Some resemble the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who has made a career out of trying to drown, stifle or strangle government.

Yes, liberty is a core American value, and an overweening state can be unhealthy. And there are plenty of self-described libertarians who have adopted the label mainly because they support same-sex marriage or decry government surveillance. These social libertarians aren’t the problem. It is the nihilist anti-state libertarians of the Koch-Cruz-Norquist-Paul (Ron and Rand alike) school who should worry us.

Liu and Hanauer round up the usual capitalist boogey men: Ayn Rand and her ever-pulsing mass of followers, the “sinister 6,” an evil group of superlibertarians featuring: The Koch brothers, AKA the Kochtopus, Rand “Republican Senator from Tennessee” Paul, Ron “Dr. No” Paul, Grover “The Tax Slayer” Norquist, and Ted “I’m not a libertarian, why am I on this list” Cruz. This band of evil anti-statist extremists want nothing more than to destroy the government and plunge America into freedom anarchy.

Lui and Hanauer make the usual mistake of equating anyone who wants to reduce the size of government (no matter how slight) to extremist libertarians. No self-respecting libertarian (must less a radical extremist) would ever include Rand Paul and Ted Cruz in their secret coven, even if they agree with some of their policies. This is where the authors betray their own statist ideology. Even the smallest notion of shrinking the government sends shockwaves through Lui and Hanauer’s entire being. Their reaction to a tiny faction of dedicated but hopelessly outnumbered ideologues is to go nuclear on an entire ideology. They don’t want to marginalize the radical libertarian movement, they want to annihilate anyone who dares think that government is growing too large. To them this means cobbling together a disparate group of politicians and advocates who loosely share a streak of libertarianism into a shadowy group of “extremists” and “radicals” and slandering the hell out of them.

Lui and Hanauer’s premise — which on its own is ridiculous — is quickly revealed to be merely a hit piece on Republican bigwigs and future presidential candidates  Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are almost a lock to run in 2016, and Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers receive nearly daily slandering from the left.

When you compare an ideology that has produced nearly 100 million victims to one that advocates personal freedom and extremely limited government you should probably introduce some evidence into the equation. Alas, there is little evidence to to be found in the article (though they have plenty of hearsay and conjecture. Which are “kinds of evidence.”)

We say the conditional “would” because radical libertarianism has a fatal flaw: It can’t be applied across a functioning society. What might radical libertarians do if they actually had power? A President Paul would rule by tantrum, shutting down the government in order to repeal laws already passed by Congress. A Secretary Norquist would eliminate the Internal Revenue Service and progressive taxation, so that the already wealthy could exponentially compound their advantage, as the programs that sustain a prosperous middle class are gutted. A Koch domestic policy would obliterate environmental standards for clean air and water, so that polluters could externalize all their costs onto other people.

Radical libertarians would be great at destroying. They would have little concept of creating or governing. It is in failed states such as Somalia that libertarianism finds its fullest actual expression.

First of all it would be very hard for a single, lone libertarian in the halls of Washington D.C. to do anything close to the kinds of things that Lui and Hanauer propose would happen. Apparently they have forgotten about the hundreds of Republicans and Democrats lining the aisles of Congress. Secondly, once again the authors fail to name a single libertarian. Thirdly, saying Somalia is the “fullest actual expression” of libertarianism is represents an alarming lack of knowledge about Somalia, libertarianism, world affairs, politics, war, culture, religion, federalism, constitutional law, economics, capitalism, rational arguments (etc. etc.). It’s a gross misrepresentation of libertarianism, and all too common from the statist left. (For future reference I do recommend at least wikipedia-ing “libertarian” before writing about it. Hint, hint)

Some libertarians will claim we are arguing against a straw man and that no serious adherent to their philosophy advocates the extreme positions we describe. The public record of extreme statements by the likes of Cruz, Norquist and the Pauls speaks for itself.

Citations? References? Links? A link to a Google search of “extreme statements by Ron Paul?” Something/Anything?  When you include “speaks for itself” in an article, it usually means, “I heard Ed Schulz bashing him on TV and it sounded pretty convincing.”

The rest of the article is a wan, inarticulate defense of government:  cooperation! Evolving blends of freedom! True citizenship! Buzzwords written for the Sesame Street crowd. Not even worth a copy and paste.

Even if  libertarianism isn’t your political ideology of choice it’s hard to imagine an article that does less to actually link libertarianism and communism together. If Liu and Hanauer had used the headline “radical libertarianism is bad” no one would have batted an eyelash. Even if they had written a well-reasoned, researched article about how they don’t believe libertarianism can work in this global climate, there would be little outrage. But they misrepresented their entire argument in the title, thus ensuring angry libertarians would comment/tweet/write blog rebuttals (wait a second…) and their article would go viral. However, this fails to identify this article’s raison d’etre: It’s a hit piece on the libertarian(ish) conservatives currently flexing their muscles in the House and Senate. Somehow the article paints the (slight) inclination to (possibly) reduce the size of government as a tenet of radical libertarianism. That’s not radical, that’s not even libertarian. That’s very basic conservative, small government-type views. (If you want radical libertarianism try Sheldon Richman on for size.)

Liu and Hanauer subscribe to the standard liberal trope: government is inherently a good and pure institution. All it takes is tinkering and fine-tuning to make it work. To all problems, the solution: more government. But the moment anyone wants to reduce or streamline the massive government bureaucracy, they are viewed as radicals. Liu and Hanauer’s piece is one published in fear and reaction to a growing  inclination amongst the plebeians that government might be growing too big and too powerful for its (or, rather, our) own good.

But all is not lost. When the radical libertarian Rand Paul is elected President in 2016 we, dedicated soldiers of libertarianism will descend on Liu, Hanauer and their ilk, and send them and all enemies of the revolution to prison camps, where they will starve and die. No wait, that’s communism. I’m sorry, I get them confused sometimes too.

If you’ve made it this far you already know; this article was written by Joe Steigerwald. Follow him on twitter @steigerwaldino. Don’t follow him on Facebook, but you can follow The Stag Blog. Look at the other stuff I’ve done: Steigerwald Post