Thursday, September 25, 2008

Palmer Censorship Redux

The Cato Institute's Tom Palmer loves censoring open comments on his blog, despite purporting to allow "open discussion" and an unfortunate habit of ridiculing other bloggers who he accuses of denying the same. The latest instance came earlier today when Palmer shut down an open discussion on his blog and removed several comments (or as some might say, shoved it "down the memory hole") containing documented evidence of Cato Institute hypocrisy. Shortly after this snippet appeared in its place:
This was filling up with lots of obnoxious comment spam from, well, an obsessed person with access to personal information (not about me, but about others), which he was spilling all over the site. So, unfortunately, I'm disabling comments
"Obnoxious," "spam," "obsession," spilling "personal" details all over the internet? The way Palmer tells it, it sounds as if this "person" was being downright abusive of his little blog.

Well, not really. Let us dissect.

1. "Obnoxious" - this is Palmer's term for a dialogue over the issue of the Cato Institute's relationship to Ron Paul. In response to Palmer's act of tooting Cato's own horn about the financial sector bailout fiasco, it was pointed out that Cato has generally shunned Rep. Paul despite Paul being the only voice of sanity in Congress on this issue. A frequent Palmer Peon responded in Cato's defense by asserting that Cato support for Paul would be "illegal" electioneering by a non-profit. In retort it was pointed out that (a) think tanks can and do legally lend intellectual support to idealogically aligned politicians much as the American Enterprise Institute does with the current Bush administration, and (b) think tank "scholars" can legally support politicians in their capacity as private individuals.

2. "Spam" - Palmer applied this term to several successive pieces of dialogue concerning the aforementioned means in which the Cato Institute could support Paul if it so chose. Noticeably absent from this dialogue was anything even remotely resembling the definition of internet spam, defined as a "commercial message posted on a computer network or sent as e-mail."

3. "Obsession" - this is Palmer's hypocritical term of choice for pretty much anybody who comments on the ill effects of something which he exhibits routinely on his own, viz. an obsession-driven feud with Lew Rockwell and the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

4. "Personal information" - Palmer's terminology in this case would have one believe that his blog comments section was utilized to spread something about the Cato Institute that was both private and difficult to come by through normal means. Far from it, the "personal information" in question consisted of nothing more than public campaign contribution disclosures from the Federal Elections Commission obtained through a quick public database search. This information is both widely published and publicly available as a matter of law. What displeased Palmer about this information is that it revealed many senior "scholars" at the self-described "libertarian" Cato Institute.

So what was all this embarassing public information to merit its censorship and removal under the four dishonest descriptors named above? Palmer did not want his readers to know that his "senior analyst" friends at the Cato Institute have donated hundreds or even thousands of dollars to anti-libertarian politicians including George W. Bush, William Weld, Rudy Giuliani, Evan Bayh, and Mike Huckabee, though not one of them has dropped a penny for Ron Paul.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jamie Kirchick: by the company he keeps

Jamie Kirchick of the Ron Paul newsletters story infamy may be described as many things, though libertarian is not among them. During the Republican primary he was a staunch supporter of crypto-fascist candidate Rudy Giuliani. His publicly discernable political agenda also reveals that he is little more than a shallow single-issue voter, that issue being what he describes as “gay rights” as Kirchick himself is a gay man…and a gay man with an ax to grind.

This blogger holds nothing in particular against Kirchick’s gayness, and frankly would prefer not to know about his bedroom happenings, and indeed would know nothing of them and care nothing of them if only Kirchick did not have the unfortunate habit of broadcasting them to the world as if they were some trophy of his pitiful existence. Vapid, shallow, whiny, superficial, overly obsessed with a single peripheral issue of overstated self-importance, and willing to support pure evil to obtain minor victories for that issue…all of these things describe Jamie Kirchick’s politics.

Needless to say, this political side is not one that would merit the sympathy (or even attention) of most sensible thinkers within the libertarian movement.

But Kirchick doesn’t need to be a libertarian to have the approval of the purported spokespersons of the libertarian movement in Washington. Hell, he doesn’t even have to be sympathetic to libertarianism in the slightest. To draw the approval of the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine, Kirchick need only run in their self-proclaimed trendy, hip, and cosmopolitan social circles. To the Cato and Reason regulars, it matters more that Kirchick is on the Adams-Morgan bar scene than what he thinks about Iraq, or how the Federal Reserve is mismanaging the housing crisis. And that is why the Cato/Reason crowd jumped to his defense when some very nasty facts were revealed about Kirchick and his journalistic methods back during the Ron Paul newsletter pseudo-scandal.

Cato Veep David Boaz, whose documented political history consists of little more than giving a $1,000 contribution to statist Massachusetts Gov. William Weld in 1996, immediately jumped to Kirchick’s defense and proclaimed his sketchy political past and muckraking methods off-limits . Reason Magazine’s Julian Sanchez, a Palmer-protégé with many Cato connections, paid lip service to Kirchick’s faults then flippantly dismissed them as “neither here nor there, really.” And so it was with virtually every Cato or Reason source that dealt with Kirchick’s article on Paul.

The double standard, of course, was palpable. Here were the Catoites and Reasonoids lining up to join Kirchick’s chorus of condemnation against Paul by way of his “guilty” associations to Lew Rockwell and a couple of junk mail newsletters written circa 1983…and yet to these same people the many fault-worthy present day associations of Jamie Kirchick, be they fascist Giuliani or the filthy underbelly of the white supremacist movement that he went trudging through in search of non-existent dirt on Ron Paul, were now out of bounds. It was okay to condemn Paul on the flimsiest evidence for something that happened over two decades ago, but the Kirchick’s current social circle was beyond reproach.

Why?

Because Kirchick’s current social circle is stock full of Catoites and Reasonoids, including the very same people who dishonestly insisted his own background was off limits in this sordid tale. You see, Jamie Kirchick is more than just a casual acquaintance of the Beltway Libertarian movement. He’s an inner member of their social network. He’s a guy that they call up to compare notes with when they think they’ve got a scoop, but also a lot more. He’s also the guy they join for latte after at Murky Coffee, the guy they’ll share an unpronounceable noodle dish with at Tara Thai, the guy they’ll sip a whisky with at Irish Times…wait, scratch that, Kirchick and the Cato crowd would get beat up at Irish Times…the guy they meet for a scoop of mangosteen-goji-parfait flavored ice cream at a DuPont dive next to the Human Rights Campaign, and the guy they'll chat with over a Zima at the latest trendy flourescified bar in Adams-Morgan. To them, Jamie Kirchick is everything that they see in themselves – a connoisseur of the hip young urban cosmopolitan DC social scene. And for that reason alone, their loyalty to Kirchick outranks any loyalty to the libertarian political convictions of a homely old country doctor from Texas like Ron Paul.

And where else could one find documented evidence of Kirchick’s a priori association with the Cato/Reason crowd than that venerable institution of urban yuppiness called Facebook?

Kirchick’s friends list says it all:

Jonathan Blanks, a Cato Institute writer/researcher

David Boaz, Cato Institute Veep

Nick Gillespie, Editor in Chief of Reason Magazine

Julian Sanchez, Reason magazine reporter/smear artist

David Weigel, Reason magazine reporter/smear artist

Will Wilkinson, Cato Institute Research Fellow

And that doesn't even include about a dozen or so peons of the Palmer brigade who inhabit the infrastructure of the Cato Institute's intern program.

In case you haven’t noticed a trend yet, allow me to reiterate. Kirchick is a real-life close friend of virtually every major “libertarian” movement blogger who led the attacks against Ron Paul over the newsletter pseudo-scandal. These are the guys who drove the story from where Kirchick left off. These are the guys who beat the newsletter drum from before Kirchick's story aired till...well...they're still beating the newsletter drum as of this week.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cato goes AWOL on Ron Paul

Tens of thousands of liberty-minded citizens are meeting today for Ron Paul's "Rally for the Republic." The event is the largest explicitly libertarian political gathering in recent history, and it's earned press coverage all over the nation as well as a live stream on C-Span.

The speaking lineup features an all-star cast of libertarian-minded personalities.

  • Tucker Carlson
  • Howard Phillips
  • Gov. Gary Johnson
  • Barry Goldwater, Jr.
  • Gov. Jesse Ventura
  • Grover Norquist
  • And yes, even the "dreaded" Lew Rockwell is there.

But you know who's not there? The Cato Institute, which bills itself as the "leading" libertarian policy organization in the country. Just like they're never there when it comes time to make political donations to libertarian-minded candidates. Instead they write checks to George Bush.

So where is Cato today?

David Boaz is off blogging about McCain, Palin, and Obama.

So is the official webblog of the Cato Institute, where not so much as a word has been said about the Paul rally.

And Tom G. Palmer, naturally, is off junketeering in the youth hostels and dormrooms of the Ukraine.

For one brief shining moment this evening, the nation will get a glimpse of the philosophy of liberty as Paul takes the stage in Minnesota. And yet the one organization that claims to be liberty's leading advocate is AWOL.