Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Libertarian Electoral Stupidity

Chalk this one up to more self-defeating libertarian electoral stupidity. The morning brings news that Charles and David Koch, the benefactors of a dozen or so libertarian outfits in the DC region, are fund-raising for neoconservative U.S. Senate candidate Trey Grayson in Kentucky. Grayson, of course, is running behind in the polls for the Republican primary against Rand Paul, son of the Texas congressman.

Now I'm personally less inclined than the Rockwellites to doubt the Koch brothers' libertarian bona fides. Even at their weaker moments, the organizations in the Koch empire are generally very free market and for limited government. And as far as eccentric billionaires go, the Kochs are pretty damn good most of the time and deserve credit for that. They could be George Soroses after all, or any number of other statist left-leaning rich guys who use their money to fund pure evil. But the decision to back Grayson has Rockwell incensed, and legitimately so. It's in the same category as all those Reasonoids who endorsed Obama. Or the Cato scholars who donated to the likes of George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, and William Weld (hint hint, David Boaz). It's one of those moments where you simply have to say WTF.

Rand Paul is a rare thing in modern electoral politics. He has libertarian bona fides, funding, and most importantly of all the polls show he has electoral viability. Any thinking libertarian should embrace that, regardless of petty internal differences over his father. Instead we simply have another example of libertarians shooting their own. And yet we wonder why we're perpetually confined to the periphery of the American political system.

Of course the Koch revelation may have at least one more immediate implication for the Kentucky Senate campaign. It completely takes the wind out of Grayson's attack ads claiming that Paul's campaign is funded by "out of state libertarians." Or does Koch Industries get exempted from that label?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

On Rockwell and Rosa Parks

You can always tell when Tom Palmer's various medical afflictions are flaring up, because he invariably trots out his favorite piece of "evidence" of the secret racist bogeyman he sees constantly lurking around the Mises Institute: Rosa Parks.

To hear The Libertarian Thinker (tm) describe it, one would think that the Rockwellites must have performed some sort of virtual lynching on the well known civil rights movement icon. Here's Palmer's most recent attribution of this reported event:

Put this in context of the bilious hatred directed toward those who stood up for civil rights by, among others, his colleagues at the Mises Institute, Rockwell, DiLorenzo, and Huebert. Their remarks about...Rosa Parks, one of the most elegant advocates of American freedom in the past sixty years, give you a hint. (She wouldn’t “get off her fat lazy ass” was their interpretation of her motives for not giving up her seat to a white traveler when informed that it was required by “law.”) It’s a part of a very disturbing pattern.

Sounds pretty nasty, don't it? That's cause Palmer, as he is prone to do, intentionally and willfully misrepresented his attributed quote as an act of malicious racism. In reality, the Rockwellite "interpretation" was nothing of the sort. Rather, it was an inoccuous blog post that quoted a simple JOKE about Rosa Parks by comedian Cedric the Entertainer in the well known movie Barbershop. Palmer completely ignored this context, despite the fact that the Rockwell blog explicitly identified its author as Cedric in the part that he intentionally truncates from his oft-repeated "fat lazy ass" quotation. As may be readily seen, that context is everything. Without it the comment looks like a crude and racially charged insult (which is what Palmer intends). With that context and with its actual author identified though, it becomes a well known comedy bit. Again, hear it for yourself right here.

Palmer, of course, knows this, which makes his own repeated misrepresentations of it all the more malicious and deceitful in their own right. That is because Tom G. Palmer is a congenital liar who is so pent up with hatred against Rockwell that he can't even recognize a well known joke from a highly grossing movie. Not that Palmer would ever attack somebody else for failing to see the humor in a joke of his own telling...

Monday, March 1, 2010

What goes around...

Reason's erstwhile cub report David Weigel has an interesting couple of pieces up at the Washington Independent about his facebook pal Marcus Epstein, one and the same with yesterday's Palmer contrivance.

It seems that the far left has taken to using Epstein's name in a fashion very similar to Palmer, to wit: as a tool to beat their adversaries over the head by way of a guilt-by-association "racism" smear. In this particular case the target is not Lew Rockwell, but rather James O'Keefe - the fellow behind those ACORN prostitute scandal videos and, more recently, a bizarre incident that resulted in his arrest at Sen. Mary Landrieu's office. O'Keefe, it seems, was a former co-worker of Epstein at the Leadership Institute and, while there, attended a debate that Epstein organized between National Review's John Derbyshire and some silly self-important tool from the American Renaissance outfit. This, plus Epstein's Mel Gibson moment of course, make O'Keefe a closet Klansman...at least according to the logic employed by the likes of Tom Palmer, ACORN, and the People's World Daily.

Weigel, to his credit, actually puts up a very reasonable and measured defense of O'Keefe:

I’ve known campus conservative activists for a decade, and I know the people who put together the 2006 forum quite well. Extremism — theories about race, right-wing European politics, anti-immigration rhetoric — is seen in these circles as something of a lark. It’s forbidden knowledge. It terrifies liberals. But people like Marcus Epstein and James O’Keefe feel (or felt) like they can get away with playing around in these circles before getting down to serious politics. And once they make that leap — as Epstein did with Buchanan, or as O’Keefe did with his ACORN tapes — the idea of being brought down by controversy is laughable. They’d faced down the Southern Poverty Law Center and won, so what do they have to fear?

...[C]an the tactics conservatives used to attack Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings or Green Jobs Czar Van Jones–digging into their associations, reporting that they attended scary-sounding events, finding out-of-context, radical-sounding quotes from their earlier careers–be used against conservative activists?

That last sentence is the kicker, as it highlights the absurdity of these tactics. Unfortunately they are also tactics Weigel knows quite well, though he didn't seem to make that rather obvious connection.