Sunday, February 28, 2010

The fruit doesn't fall far from the loop

The libertarian movement's crazy old uncle has another screed up today, apparently attempting to provoke a spat with the Rockwellites. Though the theme is typical and predictable, i.e. scream that Rockwell is a "racist bigot homophobe" on the flimsiest of evidence, the timing is curiously atypical.

First the background. The post in question concerns a story about a young man named Marcus Epstein. Sometime circa 2007, Epstein went through a severe bout of mental depression and developed a drinking problem. While stammering home one night in a state of alcohol-induced incoherence, he allegedly said the dreaded n-word to a black lady he encountered on the street. The incident occurred in Washington D.C., which has one of those "hate crimes" laws and Epstein was charged with a violation. He eventually pleaded it away by declining to contest the charges. Those who knew him attested that the incident was clearly alcohol-induced, and out of character for him. He nonetheless tendered the expected round of apologies, which the world would have likely never even noticed save for the fact that Epstein was a staffer at the time for a Republican political action committee, which he then left to take the heat off his bosses. Again, note that the incident itself occurred in 2007 and the political fallout concluded around June 2009 when the legal case was closed and Epstein resigned.

It is now February 2010 and the story is old news. Enter Tom Palmer, who has almost certainly never done anything he regrets while intoxicated (not that he bothered to disclose the pertinent detail of alcohol in his retelling of Epstein's Mel Gibson moment). As readers of this blog (or the other blog) are sure to note, The Libertarian Thinker (tm) has been taking a beating as of late over his bizarre fixation on Rockwell. This fixation never really goes away with Palmer, as some things never do. But the Rockwell one has flared up in recent weeks. Hence him trotting out the Epstein case.

Why? Because in Palmerland, Epstein's impolitic outburst simply *must* be attributable to the tutelage of Lew Rockwell. His evidence, if it can even be called turns out that while he was an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary, Epstein posted a couple articles on Rockwell's voluminous web blog (including a glowing profile of the black libertarian poet Zora Neale Hurston). The most recent of them appeared in 2005, making Epstein the veritable Dauphin to Rockwell's blogging empire, no doubt.

But alcohol is not all Palmer declined to mention. Rockwell's site was not Epstein's primary publisher, or even his most recent. In fact, this kid published far more frequently with the typical run-of-the-mill op/ed factories that permeate the right-of-center press in this country.

Epstein wrote for such "racist fringe" periodicals as Human Events,, the Independent Review, and the Washington Examiner...or basically some of the very same outlets that Palmer himself routinely cavorts with...and conveniently uses to pad his shallow "Curriculum Vitae."

So why isn't Tom Palmer telling us that Epstein's nut doesn't fall far from the tree of the Independent Institute? Or that he's putting Human Events' secret racist ideas into practice? That he's proselytizing some spooky "racial collective" agenda that was hatched in a secret cabal by the Leadership Institute,, and National Review Online's John Derbyshire?

Or for that matter, why don't we simply tar Tom Palmer himself with Epstein's outburst? Palmer did, after all, publish, grant interviews to, and receive praise and favorable book reviews from many of those exact same sources. Hell, Palmer's current employer even hosts events with Epstein's former employer, which in turn hosted an event attended by racists according to some far left blog that carries banner ads for the Communist Party, thereby demonstrating once and for all that Palmer simply must have secret yearnings of his own to deliver crudely worded racial insults to the black people he encounters on the streets of Washington. And that he's also a secret communist.

Wait, that's not enough proof for ya? Well we don't need no stinkin' proof. Because this is exactly how these absurd Palmeresque guilt-by-association games work. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Reason Magazine Delusion

Why the Reason Foundation periodical does not represent the future of libertarianism.

First a disclaimer: Reason Magazine produces some top notch journalism. I say that as a long time reader and a fan of several of their writers. In the past I have also called for reconciliation between warring libertarian factions including the folks at Reason. The reasons for this are sensible and should be obvious for a political movement that already has enough trouble even getting a seat at the table.

More than a few folks over at Reason are not content with that though, hence a decision earlier today to publish a bizarre hatchet job on one of the exceedingly few libertarian-leaning voices in the entire U.S. government. And a softer backhanded insult to accompany it. The implication of this decision is regrettable but also unavoidable: there is something severely amiss over at Reason. And it's time to put it out in the open and name names.

One need not look very far to find them. In fact, Reason took care of that itself last election. I therefore submit the following as prime evidence of why Reason Magazine does not, and should not, represent the future of libertarianism in the United States of America, or anywhere else for that matter:

Reason Magazine, Presidential Poll 2008

Question 1. Who are you voting for in November?

"If the polls in my home state are close: Obama" - Peter Bagge, contributing editor

"Obama. The Republicans must be punished and punished hard." - Ronald Bailey, science correspondent

"I plan to vote for Obama mainly because he is not a Republican and not John McCain, who is temperamentally unfit to be president." - Bruce Bartlett, columnist

"For not a single "liberal" reason, I am voting not only for Obama, but for the GOP to be utterly spanked and sent into exile" - David Brin, columnist

"Barack Obama. All my life I've been waiting for a black president; Obama's not monumentally unqualified, and his solid-if-boring book at least had some unkind words for teachers unions. Also my kids like him." - Tim Cavanaugh, contributing editor

"Barack Obama, for two main reasons: The Republican Party, which has jettisoned its best inclinations and indulged its worst for the last eight years, richly deserves exile from the White House, and 2) because he shows an intelligence and temperament that suggest he will govern more pragmatically than ideologically—the best that can be hoped for from a Democratic president." - Steve Chapman, columnist

"Ralph Nader, because I never got the chance to vote for Gene Debs or Norman Thomas." - Bill Kauffman, columnist

"Barack Obama, since he's a genuine leader, with a good program for cleaning up Washington, and will be very good for business." - Craig Newmark, contributor

"Barack Obama, because he most exemplifies Reason and Free Minds" - Steven Pinker, contributor

"I really just want the Republicans to lose." - Damon W. Root, associate editor

"I am voting for Barack Obama, because I believe in hope and change and unicorns. Also, John McCain is dangerously mentally unfit to be president and has decided, with his choice of Sarah Palin, to complete the transformation of the GOP into a southern-centered party based on social division and cultural resentment." - Ryan Sager, columnist

"Living in the District of Columbia, I see little reason to mar my as- yet unblemished record of nonvoting. But if I lived in Virigina or Florida, I'd be ticking the box for Obama" - Julian Sanchez, contributing editor

"I'll be voting for Obama, because I think as a nation we're about to descend into a pile of hurt, and I want someone who is smart, pragmatic, and not prone to temper tantrums working to get us out of it as quickly as possible." - John Scalzi, contributor

"Barack Obama. I could give 100 reasons, but I'll just say civil liberties. He's not perfect, and yes, he sold out on warrantless wiretapping, but on the whole, he's been better in this area than any presidential candidate in my voting lifetime." - RU Sirius, nom-de-plume contributor

"I will vote for Obama on behalf of everyone watching in the world, because he’s the coolest to watch on television." - Doug Stanhope, contributor

"I’m voting for Barack Obama, the only remaining candidate whom I trust not to run the country (further) into the ground with stupid and erratic decisions, and who (miraculously for a Democrat) has run a less brain-dead, faux-populist campaign than the Republican." - David Weigel, associate editor

"I think an Obama victory would be the lesser of two evils overall, but I will probably vote for Bob Barr" - Cathy Young, contributing editor

Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, to their credit, broke with the Obamunistic trend of things over at Reason. It should be painfully obvious though just how far out of touch a large part of their editorial staff is with the libertarian movement - so far out of touch, in fact, that they embraced a closeted Marxist. It is also not difficult to speculate that the majority of the people on this same list would never consider a vote for Ron Paul. In fact, more than a few of them openly attacked him in his bid for the Republican nomination.

So to Gillespie and Welch, I offer the following in the spirit of Sarah Palin: How's that hopey-changey thing working out for ya? While you figure that out, get to work. You've got a house of your own to clean before you cast stones at Ron Paul.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tom Palmer's Confederate Problem

Tom Palmer is at war...with the Confederate States of America. You know, the short-lived country on the southern side of the Civil War that ceased to exist circa 1865. In fact, one could argue that Mr. Palmer's bizarre obsession with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and even his personal crusade to expunge it from the libertarian movement, is partially rooted in an unusual and deeply personal disdain for Dixie.

Exhibit #1: Palmer whines about the Confederacy all the time, even when it isn't even really material to his whine. Witness this post, where Palmer's hysterics were triggered by a Strangelove-esque quip about nuclear weaponry on the Lew Rockwell site. Though it had absolutely NOTHING to do with the Confederacy, Palmer migrated directly to that topic by the end of his first paragraph. Such behavior is surprisingly typical for him.

Exhibit #2: Palmer has a conniption about the Rockwellites prodding of David Boaz for his Clinton nostalgia (and a strangely hypocritical one at that). Again the topic has nothing even remotely connecting it to the Confederacy, but half way through the post Palmer's ranting about just that.

Exhibit #3: What better way to attack the Mises Crowd's take on the recent Russian invasion of Georgia than to trail off into a tangent about southern secessionism? (In fairness, perhaps Mr. Palmer simply confused the central Asian country of Georgia with its similarly-named counterpart on the Atlantic coast).

Exhibit #4: Palmer has a hissy fit after one of the Rockwellites pokes fun at the Cato Institute's activities in Russia. What counterargument could possibly be more timely than to go into a lengthy rant about the Confederacy?

Other examples abound including a decidedly un-libertarian embrace of Jesse Jackson-style political correctness, as well as a general tendency to trot out, and tred upon, the rebel flag pretty much whenever he crosses paths with the Mises folks no matter how unrelated the occasion of their encounter may be. He's even willing to embrace far-left wing freedom-hating bloggers and smear artists to satiate his anti-Confederate obsession.

Until recently I simply assumed that this was yet another quirk of the libertarian movement's crazy old uncle. But something else appeared in print this weekend to suggest another reason: Palmer appears to have a genuine (and genuinely elitist) disdain for sectors of American society that he considers "uncultured," that is to say the unwashed masses of the common man or, perhaps more colloquially stated, he despises "rednecks." And what could be more representative than the battle-flag emblazoned General Lee hopping over a a gulch in Hazard County? Hence the strange obsession. From yesterday's Washington Post:

Palmer is about as far from that stereotype as possible. He's a city dweller, gay, drives a Smart car, one of those little golf-cart-size numbers. "Can't you see it with a gun rack?" he jokes.

Wait! A vain, self-absorbed, cosmopolitan gay guy who drives one of those silly little Mr. Bean cars and makes sure to point it out to everybody he encounters while dropping snooty quips about the stereotypes he holds for people who own pickup trucks. Props to the Post for describing Palmer to a T. But let's continue...

He's careful to cultivate this professional image, which is why he sends a second text message, asking that a photographer not accompany him and a reporter to the gun range in Chantilly. "Photos are generally fine, but I'd rather not have any of me with a firearm," he writes. "I'd rather not give the wrong impression."

So, his portrait is made in his office, surrounded by his books.

Catch that? Palmer, who is currently involved in a lawsuit to protect the gun rights of D.C. dwellers (and to his rare credit), is afraid of being photographed with a gun in hand because it might convey the "wrong" might make him look, well, redneck.

Not to worry though. One of our intrepid photographers recently encountered him on a super-secret Cato junket to spread the message of "liberty" in the Pacific northwest.