Bipartisan Non-Leadership

Yesterday Paul Waldman asked why libertarians are not talking about Ferguson.

Senator Rand Paul, right now America’s most prominent libertarian (yes, I know, some don’t consider him a real libertarian), hasn’t said anything about the case — no public comments, no news releases, nothing on Twitter, nothing on Facebook. I contacted his office just to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything, and a press staffer told me they have no statement at this time. I also called the office of Rep. Justin Amash, known as the purest libertarian in the House, and got the same answer: he hasn’t said anything about it, and they have no statement to make. How about mustachioed libertarian TV personality John Stossel? Just a couple of weeks ago he was writing about the militarization of the police. He hasn’t said a peep about Ferguson.

Reason magazine defended Paul and Amash, thus: “Neither, it should be noted, represents Ferguson, Missouri, and neither is a member of the Libertarian Party.” So neither Paul nor Amash are real libertarians, then. And Nancy Pelosi hasn’t said anything about Ferguson, either; nyah nyah nyah. I assume that’s true, and there’s a good argument that politicians who don’t represent Ferguson have to be careful what they say about it.

The Blaze reported disgust that the President was at a party in Martha’s Vinyard as violence raged in Ferguson. The FBI is involved in the Michael Brown shooting investigation, so now the President has to maintain some distance, too, I would think. If he were to inject himself into the situation and the FBI investigation resulted in indictments against Ferguson police, many people could jump to many ugly conclusions, especially considering the President and Attorney General are black.

Another libertarian apologist, Ilya Somin, points out that libertarian spokespeople such as Radley Balko have been at the forefront of speaking out against the war on drugs. But I wasn’t aware the situation in Ferguson had any connection to drugs. Why does Somin reflexively connect “violence in a black community” to “drugs,” hmmm?

I realize the “war on drugs” has a connection to the militarization of the police, but so does the “war on terror.” Hysteria over foreign terrorism and illegal immigration probably has more to do with it than the war on drugs, actually. See Bill Moyers

The “war on terror” has come home — and it’s wreaking havoc on innocent American lives. The culprit is the militarization of the police.

The weapons that destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq have made their way to local law enforcement. While police forces across the country began a process of militarization — complete with SWAT teams and flash-bang grenades — when President Reagan intensified the “war on drugs,” the post-9/11 “war on terror” has added fuel to the fire.

Through laws and regulations like a provision in defense budgets that authorizes the Pentagon to transfer surplus military gear to police forces, local law enforcement agencies are using weapons found on the battlefields of South Asia and the Middle East.

But what about the politicians who do represent or govern Ferguson? It has to be said that the governor of Missouri, a Democrat, has been largely MIA about Ferguson. I don’t follow state politics any more and have no sense of where Gov. Jay Nixon is on anything. I see he is from DeSoto, in Jefferson County, which is very poor, rural and white, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I grew up in an adjacent county which was also rural and white, although slightly less poor. Also, Ferguson is represented in Congress by Lacy Clay, a Democrat, who from what I can see hasn’t said much about the violence either.

Missouri’s senators are Roy Blunt (R) and Claire McCaskill (D). Blunt has made vague noises supportive of the police. McCaskill has called for a fair investigation and is supposed to speak with the Attorney General about it today, so that’s something.

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a Democrat who represents Ferguson in Jefferson City, appears to be a little more proactive. She’s at least nudging Gov. Nixon to step up, and she’s been critical of the police. I don’t know anything about the politics of the mayor of Ferguson, James Knowles, who seems not to be in charge.

The larger point is that neither party gets bragging rights on this. However, I really would expect the fire-breathing libertarians in Congress to be a little more vocal. Just for consistency’s sake, you know.

8 thoughts on “Bipartisan Non-Leadership

  1. Our politicians, the whole lot of ’em – just a bunch of lily-livered ostriches, with their head’s in the sand, hoping everything will just blow over, or, at least, not affect them.

    I can understand the President and Holder withholding opinion and action, due to their race, and the race of the protesters.

    But, now about the Governor, sending in some National Guard troops?
    No “Profile in Courage,” he.
    Must be an election year, and he’s lying low.
    He was reelected in 2012.
    So, what’s your excuse, Governor Ostrich?

  2. A St. Louis alderman, Antonio French, has been there every night, tweeted and posting video to Vine. He was actually arrested last night – for getting out of his car when told not to, apparently. No charges filed. He’s black.

    Also, Senator Chappelle-Nadal was there last night. Saw some tweets she sent – someone tweeted that she had been arrested and she replied that she was still there, not arrested, was tear gased.

  3. Any potential GOP contender has three choices. He can make a reasonable plea for calm and moderation on the part of the police and protesters and request a complete and impartial investigation, condemn the arrests and harassment of journalists. He will sound a lot like the president did in his comments.

    If a candidate wants to please the base, he will attack the victim, defend the cop shooter, paint all protesters as criminal rioters and rioters as terrorists without rights. This stance will thrill the base and get a lot of air time by whatever opponent he has to face later. Play to the base and you give your opponent a lethal sound bite for the general election.

    The other approach is that of the three monkeys – see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing.

  4. First the cop blows it-then the community blows it, using this whole thing as excuse to destroy and loot. Roy Blunt is establishment Repub, I automatically discount anything he says; McCaskill has pretty good brains, all in all. This whole thing is completely FUBAR. Nobody’s doing *anything* well.

  5. I heard the woman who was a witness to the shooting. She was on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show. She was very credible. My guess is that we’ll see an obstruction of justice investigation along with civil rights violations.

    Community policing works. I’ll never understand why so many police departments have gone back to the centurion mode. Part of it is leadership and part of it involves police officers reaching higher ranks who never bought into the program in the first place. But this is 2014. We’ve got to get this stuff behind us. There’s too much stuff coming up fast to be held back by the past.

  6. There are no libertarians in Congress. Calling a few Republicans with minor libertarian leanings on a FEW issues libertarians is extremely dishonest. Doing so for the purpose of scoring political points on the backs of a community suffering a tragedy is beyond disgusting.

    • “There are no libertarians in Congress.” Yes, we know. Nobody in politics is ever pure enough to be a “real” libertarian. Sightings of real libertarians are rare and always prove to be false as soon as the sighted creature actually goes on record about anything.

      In short, son, bite me.

  7. There are more Sasquatches in Israel (Hi, Donald DouglASS!), than there are “real” Libertarians in Congress.

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