Libertarianism vs. Liberty

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Obama Administration

When did the Mayans say the world would end, exactly? Before the Republican National Convention, I hope. It would really suck if we have to live through that first.

Anyway — I fear Glenn Greenwald finally jumped the shark with this post. Yes, there’s plenty to criticize about President Obama’s civil liberties record. But holding up Ron Paul as some paragon of virtue on civil liberties is nuts. See also Scott Lemieux.

And here is Tom Hilton:

Paul’s positions on civil liberties issues aren’t actually about civil liberties as we understand them; they’re about his opposition to Federal authority. (An opposition that is somewhat conditional, it should be noted.) For example, in talking about the death penalty, he makes clear that he opposes it only at the Federal level. His opposition to the PATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, and domestic surveillance come from the same root as his opposition to the Civil Rights Act. He has no real objection to states violating the rights of their citizens; it’s only a problem if the Feds do it.

The assumption underlying this is that people are freer when states (as opposed to the Federal government) have more power. Now, it may seem obvious to some of us that the distinction between one arbitrary administrative unit and another isn’t exactly a human rights issue, but let’s just consider for a moment: does state or local control actually translate to more liberty?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — modern libertarianism was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. That’s when President Eisenhower sent federal troops to enforce desegregation of the schools and protect nine African-American students from being torn apart by a howling mob for attempting to enter a school.

Ever since those years, white racists have embraced the argument that only the authority of the federal government is oppressive. Whatever the state does, is OK. The philosophical basis of this argument is that state governments are closer to the people and therefore more responsive to them.

Considering that Jim Crow laws were mostly state and local laws, the only way you could believe that is to assume that Jim Crow laws were not, in fact, oppressive, and that African Americans prior to the 1960s could have stood up for themselves at the state and local level if they had just tried harder. And anyone who really believes that is either an abject racist himself or utterly ignorant of American history.

Eventually the more literate elements of the Klan would join forces with the McCarthyite Right and march together under Ayn Rand’s banner to evolve into the libertarians we know and don’t love today. I watched this happen with my own tired eyes. These days I concede it may be possible to be a libertarian and not be a racist, although see comment above about ignorance of history. But no one should have been surprised at the recently uncovered connections between Ron Paul and white supremacy.

And we see once again that reproductive rights are a mere “chick” issue, not worthy of consideration, or at least not in the same league with other rights. Ron Paul is no supporter of reproductive rights, and any progressive woman with functional brain cells must realize that “returning the abortion issue to the states” is code for banning abortion in most of the nation (and all of it eventually).

If you’re a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy, the knowledge that your legal choices have been eliminated by a state legislature rather than a federal one is not a consolation.

Weirdly, Paul has compromised his own anti-government position where gay rights are concerned. He supports the Defense of Marriage Act and sponsored a Marriage Protection Act, which would have barred federal judges from hearing cases pertaining to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. If that’s not stomping on the constitution’s separation of powers, I don’t know what is. I would think a gay man like Glenn would be a little more sensitive to these things.

How people come to their conclusions is important. A lot of progressives gravitated to Paul when they heard he was against the Iraq War. But IMO there’s a big difference in being against the war because you could see it was a ham-handed and grossly counterproductive way to address U.S. interests in the Middle East, and being against the war because you’re an ignorant sot about the world and don’t care what goes on outside the U.S.A. Here’s Tom Hilton again:

The tipoff is in his opposition to foreign aid, and his anti-United Nations position: he’s anti-war because the rest of the world just isn’t worth it. His is not the pacifism of the anti-war movement but the nativist isolationism of the America-Firsters; Paul is “to the left of Obama” the way Lindbergh was to the left of Roosevelt. (That may be true in a fairly literal sense, although I wouldn’t trust anything from Big Government without further corroboration.)

Glenn writes,

Whatever else one wants to say, it is indisputably true that Ron Paul is the only political figure with any sort of a national platform — certainly the only major presidential candidate in either party — who advocates policy views on issues that liberals and progressives have long flamboyantly claimed are both compelling and crucial.

Paul is doing no such thing. His “advocacy” of civil liberties is a throwback to the days of Orval Faubus. Just because he manages to frame it in a non-racist context doesn’t change that. The notion that “liberty” depends on weakening the ability of the federal government to protect citizens from oppression by state government is dangerous. This is not at all a “compelling and crucial” policy view; it is idiocy.

Then Glenn writes,

As Matt Stoller argued in a genuinely brilliant essay on the history of progressivism and the Democratic Party which I cannot recommend highly enough: “the anger [Paul] inspires comes not from his positions, but from the tensions that modern American liberals bear within their own worldview.” Ron Paul’s candidacy is a mirror held up in front of the face of America’s Democratic Party and its progressive wing, and the image that is reflected is an ugly one; more to the point, it’s one they do not want to see because it so violently conflicts with their desired self-perception.

That is unmitigated crap on several levels. I am a lot older than both Glenn and Matt Stoller, and maybe they’re both too young to remember the days of desegregation, but there is no excuse for being ignorant of those things. The anger Paul inspires in me is that I recognize a real and present danger to my civil liberties when I see it. If Greenwald and Stoller are too blind to see it, then I can’t take anything else they write seriously.

By all means, continue to call out President Obama whenever he deserves to be called out. But, fellas, do try to avoid being drooling idiots about it in the future, OK? Thanks much.

Update: See also Steve M.

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30 Comments

  1. Bill Bush  •  Jan 1, 2012 @2:36 pm

    FWIW, the state’s rights argument is just a wedge to divide each issue off into smaller battles more winnable by a motivated core of true believer activists. It is not hard for a group of 50 or less to significantly influence a county or town, and only a couple of hundred are needed to be effective in many states. At the state level, it is easy to get access to legislators, less money goes into campaigns, and there are relatively few media outlets that have to be courted. Once you eliminate the oversight of a national government agency and weaken national affinity organizations, you can make things happen in your state with relative ease. Maybe this is just so obvious to everyone that it goes without saying, but I really don’t have much faith in the forward-thinking skills I possess, and I think I spend more time on forward-thinking than some do, based on the inadequate arguments that get repeated coverage in the press. Here in NC, we have Art Pope’s little conservative crew funded by Pope’s discount-store dollars. They get press out of all proportion to their connection to reality. They are nationally connected to the Koch crew. For NC progressives to battle this is tough. Issues tied to conservative strengths, such as sexuality and religion, are doubly demanding. We either fight now or get sliced up later.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 1, 2012 @3:01 pm

    Bill, I lived in three different extreme areas of NC in the 9 years I was there:
    Liberal and lovely Chapel Hill.
    Conservative and lovely Southern Pines.
    And Conservative and not at all lovely Fayetteville.

    By far, the most interesting was Fayetteville, mostly because of the Liberals and Progressives I met there. Talk about your embattled minorities! And those Pope people are a real work of art – and not good art.
    I wish you the best. Say hello to your lovely, but confused, state for me!

  3. Swami  •  Jan 1, 2012 @3:05 pm

    S

  4. Swami  •  Jan 1, 2012 @3:07 pm

    Damned computers!

  5. Swami  •  Jan 1, 2012 @3:36 pm

    What I was going to say before this cursed computer decided it knew better than I did what I wanted to say. I knew Satan could appear as an angel of light but, I didn’t expect him to appear as renegade ASCII code.

    Several weeks ago I goggled Jim Crow laws( wikipedia) for historical background on the Repug drive to disenfranchise minority voters with their recent set of hurdles. What I found was some shocking information on the effectivness in cutting blacks and minorities out of the democratic process..At the turn of the century North Carolina had absolutely no registered black voters, and I believe Mississippi had only one registered black voter. I’m pretty sure the Repugs/rascists won’t reestablish the strangle hold they had at the turn of the century in denying Americans participation in the political process…but they’re certainly trying like hell!

  6. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 1, 2012 @3:55 pm

    I commented on both Tom and Steve M’s posts, so I won’t repeat myself here.

    Glenn and Jane Hamsher seem to have nominated themselves to be some sort of “Purity Police” for the left.

    But, I’m begging you two, and others, don’t take my name and my political beliefs in vain.
    Stop it!

    If you want to play footsie with Grover Norquist, or think Ron Paul is superior to Obama on the issues of war and detention, all you prove is that you’re not just myopic – you’re f*cking blind.

    Because Jane, if Grover has his way, women like you will be required to stay home, and be barefoot and pregnant whenever you serve your man dinner, wash and iron the clothing, or cast your vote only with his approval. At least until he decides to leave you for a younger model, Newt-style.
    And Glenn, as a gay man, do you think that the anti-war Ron Paul you seem to love won’t try to make a full-scale invasion on the hard-fought rights that gay people have worked to get for decades? He’ll go all Atilla on you folks in a nanosecond. And any sort of reticence he may have about involving us in foreign wars is more attributable to his particular brand of “Know Nothing” isolationism, than any other reason(s) like a love of peace. Besides, he won’t have time for foreign adventures, because he’ll be very busy warring here in this country on your ass, Jane’s, and every brown person who doesn’t pull a Cain Conversion the first time he looks at them funny.
    The problem with “Purity Police” Liberals, is that they are just as dogmatic as the right wing is. And, if you don’t agree with them on everything 100% of the time, you are a heretic, and must be excommunicated.
    Glenn and Jane prove that the right doesn’t have a monopoly on intolerant and dogmatic people who are f*cking nuts.

  7. Doug Hughes  •  Jan 1, 2012 @4:25 pm

    Assume for the moment that Ron Paul was elected and governed as president the same way he has in Congress. Ron Paul is known as ‘Doctor No’ because he votes ‘No’ on anything he doesn’t agree with 100%. That makes him a clownish figure on Capitol Hill, but imagine a president who vetos EVERY piece of legislation that doesn’t eviscerate the federal government.

    Reasonable people assume that as president, Ron Paul would sign necessary and essential legislation. WHY WOULD HE? President Paul would not attempt to compromise – he never has! NEVER! The veto power of the president is the ‘big stick’ he has to force the Congress to bow to dictatorial powers of the White House. What makes you think Paul would respect the co-equal legislative branch, when they don’t have anything he wants. Shutting down government is music to his ears.

    If you read ‘Atlas Shrugged’, the libertarian hero is secretly working to plunge the country into chaos from which a libertarian utopia will emerge. If you think. I exagerate, Google, ‘I will stop the motor of the world.’, you will get John Gault and ‘Atlas Shrugged’. Every time. This IS the philosophy of libertariansm – and it identifies an ACTIVE role by the hero and heroine that has its success, when the lights of New York City go out, symbolic of the demise and collapse of American society.

    Glenn has his head up his ass all the way to his shoulders if he thinks Ron Paul has an international platform worth what the libertarian philosophy would do to us at home. Nightmare and obscene don’t begin to describe a Ron Paul presidency. If GG was to reply to my comment (as if he will ever read it) I would request he draw from Ron Paul’s voting record and public statements to show why we can expect that Doctor No would govern as a moderate and not a Randian terrorist.

  8. The BPI Squirrel  •  Jan 1, 2012 @6:39 pm

    Excellent article.

    Libertarianism in five words: “Let the big dogs eat.”

    That is, government should get out of the way and let society’s most powerful actors – the wealthy, whites, males, Christians, etc. – dominate society. Libertarians say they aren’t aristocratic, racist, sexist, Dominionist, etc. They just want “freedom.” But the ‘freedom’ they propose is freedom for the big dogs. I wrote about it at more length here: http://bpicampus.com/2011/12/27/furthermore-ron-paul-in-the-spotlight/

    Good day and good nuts.

  9. John Holland  •  Jan 1, 2012 @11:01 pm

    It’s hilarious to watch Obamatons criticize Greenwald’s last couple of articles for what he says about Ron Paul, but they remain silent with regards to Greenwald’s criticism of Obama.

    It’s easy to argue that Greenwald is wrong about Paul. But he’s pretty much right about what he says about Obama, hence the recent recent hand waving from moderate conservative democrats: “don’t look at what Greenwald said about Obama, instead, laugh at what he said about Ron Paul!”

  10. maha  •  Jan 1, 2012 @11:34 pm

    It’s hilarious to watch Obamatons criticize Greenwald’s last couple of articles for what he says about Ron Paul, but they remain silent with regards to Greenwald’s criticism of Obama.

    I think a lot of Greenwald’s criticism of Obama is valid. My issue here is that the simple compare-and-contrast with Paul doesn’t work. Paul’s positions have nothing to do with Obama’s positions. He can criticize Obama all he likes, but the notion that Paul is a friend of civil liberties is dangerously wrong.

    It’s easy to argue that Greenwald is wrong about Paul. But he’s pretty much right about what he says about Obama, hence the recent recent hand waving from moderate conservative democrats: “don’t look at what Greenwald said about Obama, instead, laugh at what he said about Ron Paul!”

    Did anyone ever explain to you that you’re a brainwashed, simple-minded idiot who sees everything in black and white and is utterly incapable of real critical thinking? Well, you are, and if I want to read idiocy I can go elsewhere. I don’t need to see it here. Good bye.

  11. biggerbox  •  Jan 2, 2012 @2:09 am

    I used to refer to Ron Paul’s positions using the “broken clock” metaphor, you know, that ‘even a broken clock is right twice a day.’ But as I paid more attention to him, I realized that’s not accurate, because Paul is more like a broken clock face on which the numbers are arranged out of order, some are repeated, and others aren’t even numbers. As you point out, Maha, even when his position appears to coincide with a sane position, it doesn’t really, because it’s based on a crazy, incoherent or worse, abhorrent, reasoning. Sure, he may say it’s ‘three o’clock’, but that doesn’t mean he thinks it’s between 2 and 4. Just as likely it’s somewhere between ‘our energy policy should be based on domestic supplies of phlogiston’, 47, and ‘you kids get off my lawn!’ Except that doesn’t even account for the ugly strain of racist, sexist thought that lies just below the surface.

    As you point out, Greenwald’s contention that it is ‘indisputable true’ that Paul is advocating policy views progressives find compelling and crucial is just flat-out wrong.

  12. paradoctor  •  Jan 2, 2012 @4:38 am

    Doctor Paul’s like that girl
    who had a little curl
    right in the middle of her forehead;
    for when he is good, he is very very good;
    but when he is bad, he is horrid.

  13. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 2, 2012 @10:16 am

    Here’s an interesting take from Mike Lupica, who’s not only the best sportswriter in the country, but also a very astute political observer in his downtime. In it, he compares the diversity of the Iowa voters to the diversity in the NHL;

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/white-bread-iowa-doesn-t-represent-america-diversity-article-1.999580

    The NY Daily News started letting him write about politics somewhere in the late 1990′s, and he’s far better than about 99% of the assclowns who are the paid “professionals” in the MSM.

    That may sound like thin praise, because, after all, aren’t we all?
    Seriously, read him when her writes about politics – and, as I said, he’s also the best sportswriter in the world. If he switched to political writing 100% of the time, sports fans would miss him, but he’d be a welcome voice talking about this country because “he gets it!”

  14. Doug Hughes  •  Jan 2, 2012 @10:39 am

    I’m convinced that John Holland has little interest in Ron Paul’s foreign policy. The intent of the comment is to promote division and disagreement. In his tactics, JH reminds me of the playground sneak who would tell lies to and about two other people to try to get them to fight so he could watch the bloodshed. John Holland is just as dishonest – he never takes a stand or identifies his agenda.

    Glenn Greenwald is a purist who seems to think the war against jihadism can be fought in the courtroom. Bin Laden was buried at sea before his buddies in the Pakistan military knew he was dead. The proper GG approach would have been to request extradition. Right. Quadafi was not read his rights by the angry mob that killed him. Tough. Check into the reasons the mob was angry and you will shed no tears for the tyrant. The US is using drones to assassinate when and where we find key members of jihadism groups. No arrest. No trial. And bystanders get blown up. When civilians were taken by pirates and Navy Seals took them out with head shots, my reaction was and is, ‘ Good job.’ With Glenn Greenwald or Ron Paul, none of these outcomes would have been.

    That doesn’t mean I agree with all Obama foreign policy decisions. In an honest and open discussion, I will gladly share my views. But not to satisfy a sneaky backstabber like JH whose only goal is to divide democrats in an election year. We are going to unite – despite our differences – and do our damndest to influence Obama in foreign policy where we disagree. AFTER OBAMA IS REELECTED. Kiss my ass, John Holand.

  15. erinyes  •  Jan 2, 2012 @11:00 am

    Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
    Re: Libertarianism, it is a strange concept. It implies that we should be free from rules and regulation. That would be a good thing if we humans were perfect and fair. To think people will always do what’s in the best interest of society is naive.
    Imagine a football game with no rules……..
    I’ll readily admit that I’m more than a bit gun-shy of Ron Paul, if only that he named his son for Ayn Rand.

    On the other hand( and I realize you have your scatter gun ready and loaded for buck, Maha ), I understand and agree with some of what Greenwald wrote.
    Would I choose Paul over Obama? Nope, but I would consider changing my party to Republican so I can vote in Florida’s primary to vote for Paul solely on the grounds that if one of the other candidates win, a war with Iran is nearly certain.
    If we have a war with Iran, all the other things won’t matter.There is already a covert war in play with Iran. The Chinese have stated they would side with Iran if attacked; that should make even the most deluded American exceptionalist scared shitless. Our wars over the past 50 years have been against small 3rd world nations.A war with Iran ( likely escallating to include China and Russia ) is more than a bit frightening.
    I was more than a bit pissed when I read the link several days ago (ABL), when she wrote something to the effect that killing muslim kids accidenty via drone attacks is a fair trade off to preserving the rights of her uterus and minorities.When I hear people say stuff like that, I am first shocked, then I realize that they know not of which they speak. A drone strike with mutilated civilian corpses, blood, urine, feces, body parts? A mistake worthy of her keeping her uterus safe from tampering,REALLY? Those are the choices ? No middle ground?Does she ACTULLLY think things would change that fast? How would this happen, executive order?
    I have a 19 year old daughter, so I have a bit of skin in this game, besides, ONCE again, this is going to boil down to Gays, guns, and abortion?
    I never claimed to be a constitutional scholar, and I’m ignorant of many things when it comes to how government works, but I don’t see how Ron Paul could effect much change in a four year term, especially since he is so maligned by both right and left, and will be seen as basically a third party entity if he was to be elected ( which is an extremely remote possibility, especially with his ambivilance towards Israel).
    To me, being thankful that Ron Paul does not want war with Iran because he is not interested or thinks it would cost too much is like refusing to be rescued from a burning building because the rescuerer has self serving motives.
    As far as Ron Paul and cutting foreign aid, I agree with some points;cutting foreign aid to Egypt would be a disaster.There are a number of countrys that depend on being fed by the US. To just cut them off would be heartless and counterproductive.
    The best I can hope for is Americans coming around to the notion that we can no longer police the globe and maintain a decent standard of living.Greenwald makes some valid points when he writes that there have been no prosecutions of the criminals in the Bush / Cheny administration OR of the bankers who caused our economic melt down. WTF??? In Florida, you can be convicted of A FELONY for taking ONE concrete block from a construction site; A f’in FELONY! Oh, the humanity…..
    This is possibly due to a system where the 1st 2 years of a term is spent lining things up for the campaign for the second term, and the second two years spent campaigning.
    I would hope that war criminals be prosecuted instead of being free to call for more killing on FOX news.I also agree with Ron Paul and Alan Grayson’s call for an audit of the Federal Reserve; something is deeply decayed there.
    Perhaps President Obama will persue those ideas in his second term. I can only hope, and perhaps Greenwald’s article will ignite some serious and civil discussion.
    It seems like we’re getting our nickers in a knot over the hypothetical.

    This morning on “Good Morning America”, it was reported that Americans purchased a record number of guns; “FOR CHRISTMAS!!!”
    Happy birthday, Jesus…………….

  16. Tom W  •  Jan 2, 2012 @11:05 am

    Barbara, great piece. Sums up the choice perfectly. Here’s my take:
    http://tomwatson.typepad.com/tom_watson/2011/12/ron-paul.html

  17. Doug Hughes  •  Jan 2, 2012 @12:04 pm

    Erinyes – here’s a moral ‘hypothetical’ that’s reality in terms of policy that has been decided. Decided well or decided badly… but it is policy. I’m curious how you would call it. Suppose you have identified the ‘general’ of an terror cell in Pakistan who is behind bombings of mosques in Afghanisran and the murder of Afghan women who don’t adhere to the most strict interpretation of Islam. This ‘general’ is taking over areas of Afghanistan to cash in on the cultivation of what will become heroin. So hypothetically, if you have identified who, and you get good information where, do you murder him with a drone strike and collateral civilian deaths or do you let him build his empire knowing that in time, he will (if he can) commit the mass murder of infidels – maybe where you live in much greater numbers than the drone strike will inflict.

    This is reality.. I’m not comfortable with it – I hope I never am comfortable with it. But war is never antiseptic and clean. The drone war that we are conducting is the first war that puts the ‘general’ behind the conflict at greater risk than civilians and footsoldiers. In almost all of recorded history, the aggressors are insulated by layers of bureaucracy from the conflict.

  18. Davis X. Machina  •  Jan 2, 2012 @12:12 pm

    …perhaps Greenwald’s article will ignite some serious and civil discussion.

    If it’s either, it’ll be no thanks to him.

  19. Chief  •  Jan 2, 2012 @12:25 pm

    Greenwald argues his position just like a lawyer. I will say re: Paul & Greenwald, that while the simpler position of less gov’t and less regulation may sound appealing, like a siren song, the reality is that as one removes regulation the person/company making the product has less incentive to make a quality product and has a larger incentive to cut corners to increase products.

    Today we need a bigger, stronger FDA. A bigger, stronger USDA to inspect slaughter-houses. How often do we read/hear about recalls of ground beef sue to salmonella infestation?

  20. Tom Hilton  •  Jan 2, 2012 @2:27 pm

    I think a lot of Greenwald’s criticism of Obama is valid.

    I think this is overly generous to Greenwald. That is, there are grounds for criticism of the President on “civil liberties” (in the overly narrow way that Greenwald defines the term), but Greenwald’s criticism is worthless–because it mixes potentially legitimate issues (expansion of the security state) with fanciful pseudo-issues (the supposed illegality of killing bin Laden); treats open questions as settled issues, and potentially troubling actions as crimes against humanity (drone strikes; the killing of al-Awlaki); blames the President for problems that originate in Congress (Guantanamo; the NDAA; the AUMF, which is the real basis for most of the actions Greenwald criticizes); and, in support of these points, distorts opponents arguments and misrepresents the authorities it cites.

    Dahlia Lithwick’s criticism of the President on civil liberties issues are well worth considering. Greenwald’s are not.

  21. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 2, 2012 @2:34 pm

    Well said, Tom.

  22. Anniecat  •  Jan 2, 2012 @3:11 pm

    I believe that Glenn Greenwald lives in Brazil with his partner; if that is still the case nothing Ron Paul doe to American gay people will affect him.

  23. erinyes  •  Jan 2, 2012 @6:20 pm

    Doug,
    Being that I’m a peaceful former deep sea diver with no experience in matters like what you presented, I would not know unless I was in that position.Perhaps there is another solution or course of action.
    Why would I treat that any differently than an incident in Sub Saharan Africa or perhaps the Balkans. It seems to me that what you presented is in the sphere of Pakistan, not the U.S.A..Also, U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan for a decade, how much longer will it last? Until the last Pashtun tribesman is killed?What is the mission?
    Let’s remember that the Soviet Union fought a long and boody war (and lost) in Afghanistan while the Soviet Union had a border with Afghanistan.The price of fuel alone, due to the shipping costs is staggering.
    IMO, these drone wars are pure evil, and they will bite us in the ass in the long run.
    I have never been in war, but I have seen what an explosion does to a human body, up close and personal, and I have taken on numerous assignments where I wondered if I’d make it out alive.
    So I’ll pose a hypothetical question; suppose your daughter was raped and murdered, then her body posed in grotesque positions for photographs ( this actually happened in Gainsville Fl, a number of years ago). You know the killer; he is the son of a wealthy politican, and he will likely get off with a light sentence.It’s not the first time he has done something like this, it won’t be the last. You know where he lives. Do you get a hit man and take him out?
    What if the “hit man” decides to just blow up the whole block, cuz, you know, that would be easier. It might kill a bunch of innocents, but the job will be done.What if the hit man screws up and bombs the wrong block, killing a bunch of school kids?
    Does the end justify the means?
    I recommend reading “The War Prayer” by Mark Twain.

  24. Doug Hughes  •  Jan 2, 2012 @7:49 pm

    Erinyes – I have been reading your comments for months if not years, and I agree with you most of the time. I was delighted to see us out of Iraq. I would like to see us minimize our troop level in Afghanistan. Honestly, I have no way to evaluate the quality of the intelligence on terrorists operating across the Afghan/Pakistan border. Anybody who says they KNOW is either blowing smoke or divulging Top Secret stuff. If (& I said if) the quality of data is good, we are cutting off the head(s) of the terrorist groups almost as they are grown. We are making it risky and difficult for them to communicate or coordinate without revealing themselves. And we are identifying and disrupting sources of funds. Warfare or terrorism (same thing, different tactics) is expensive.

    The main reasons we can’t just let the region go to hell is because Pakistan is unstable, and they have nukes. IMO, thats the mission, but you won’t hear it that way from the White House because we can’t spell out how close Pakistan is to being a rogue state with nukes hostile to the US. For now, Pakistan is the best friend money can buy. We hope.

    If that wasn’t the case (nukes) I’d pull back to a couple of carriers and watch for levels of organization that could be an intercontinental threat. As long as nuclear weapons are only a few hundred miles from potential terrorists in a ‘democracy’ hanging by a thread, you go after threats early rather than late. The drone program lets us go after the schemers rather than the infantry, and we don’t have to risk our soldiers (as much).

    Regarding your hypothetical, I have two daughters and in the scene you describe, I would not hire anyone. I’m not a nice person, and I believe in the second amendment. Yes, it’s entirely possible anyone there would get hurt if they were a threat (security guard) or a participant, or they were shielding a participant. Does this mean I think I am above the law? No, after the deed was done, I would submit to the authorities if I did not turn the gun on myself. But I wouldn’t farm the job out.

  25. khughes1963  •  Jan 2, 2012 @7:54 pm

    Maha, I agree with you about Glenn Greenwald. I agreed with a lot of his criticisms of Bush, and I would also agree with some of his criticisms of Obama, but he ignores the perils of Ron Paul and his fellow “libertarians.”

  26. stratplayer  •  Jan 2, 2012 @10:09 pm

    Anyone who thinks the right-wing “libertarian” movement bodes well for human rights ought to take a look at Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s startling endorsement of monarchy over democracy posted on the eponymous site of Dr. Paul’s longtime “libertarian” ally and former chief of staff Lew Rockwell:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/hoppe/hoppe4.html

    More libertarian monarchism:

    http://www.ilanamercer.com/phprunner/public_article_list_view.php?editid1=602

    http://www.libertarianmonarchy.com/whylibertarianmonarchy.htm

    http://www.royaltymonarchy.com/opinion/articles/yeager.html

    http://monarchists.blogspot.com/2008/06/libertarian-monarchist.html

    I wouldn’t trust a “libertarian” with my freedom as far as I could throw him. Anyone who does is a fool.

  27. erinyes  •  Jan 5, 2012 @5:23 am

    Doug,
    I have been reading your comments for quite some time also, along with those of other regulars and out gracious host. Never doubt I feel a strong kinship with you all.
    “However”, I strongly feel the reasons for U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is more about power projection and control of vast mineral / natural gas / and oil deposits; along with control of a major energy corridor. It seems to me that the nuke issue is something that could be resolved easily ( and is yet another “boogie Man”). Pakistan has been hammered by mother nature the past several years, and would have a very hard time without U.S assistance.

  28. erinyes  •  Jan 6, 2012 @7:41 am
  29. malcer  •  Jan 6, 2012 @1:43 pm

    RE: Back to the Back of the Bus

    It is incredibly bad style to CLOSE a comments section AFTER DISCUSSION HAS ALREADY STARTED and more importantly after you have already engaged in an argument. In doing that, you pretend that your questionable responses were the last word on the topic.

    If closing a comments section ever should be necessary, the very least would be to specifically acknowledge that fact and give a brief rationale either as an update to the post or as the last comment.

    It is hard to assume good faith in this case, which, considering the subject of the discussion, sort of speaks for itself. But I’m sure I’m just one of GG’s goons bullying you for not hopping on that great “Anti-Obama; in Paul we trust” – bandwagon.

  30. maha  •  Jan 6, 2012 @1:54 pm

    It is incredibly bad style to CLOSE a comments section AFTER DISCUSSION HAS ALREADY STARTED and more importantly after you have already engaged in an argument. In doing that, you pretend that your questionable responses were the last word on the topic.

    And it is incredibly rude to try to keep an argument going after I had closed it. See comment rules — discussions are over when I say they are over. I don’t have time to waste arguing with people who are miffed because I gored their sacred ox. Deal with it. And good-bye.

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