Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DEBATE AT LOLITA BAR: "Does Military Strength Create Peace?"

federman.jpg VS. carney.jpg

YES: Former Clinton White House intern (and soon, business consultant to the French) Sarah Federman.

NO: Former Pat Buchanan campaigner (and now Ron Paul sympathizer) John Carney.

The battle will be joined next week on Wednesday, Dec. 5 (at 8pm) on the basement level of Lolita Bar (266 Broome St. at Allen St., one block south and three west of the Delancey St. subway stop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side) — with Michel Evanchik moderating and Todd Seavey hosting.

What better way to celebrate the start of Hanukkah, the Annapolis peace conference on the Middle East, and the release of Pat Buchanan’s book announcing that the end has arrived for America and we are all doomed? Join us.

I always strive to maintain my host objectivity, and that’ll be relatively easy this time, since I’m genuinely torn on this topic. True, just this past weekend I ordered one of those t-shirts with the crossed-out picture of Hillary Clinton that says “Re-defeat Communism in 2008” and I plan to vote for Ron Paul if he makes it into the New York primary — but it is not Hillary’s hawkish tendencies nor Ron Paul’s dovish ones that push me away from her and toward him (indeed, it was reading the fairly hawkish Jonah Goldberg’s impending book Liberal Fascism that inspired the t-shirt purchase, but more on that at the end of next month). It’s their domestic policies — she tried to nationalize a seventh of the economy, and he wants to abolish most of government as we know it, liberating the more-productive, more-efficient, more-free, and more-individualistic portion of civilization from the oppressive, collectivist, unfree, and tragically-counterproductive portion.

But to get back to the topic at hand, the military stuff: Not only do I have both neocon and opposing paleolibertarian sympathies, to put rough labels on it, when it comes to foreign policy stuff, I freely admit to not knowing where to begin trying to settle the issue (which is why I — like you — must attend this debate). Like most libertarians, I know I want the end-goal of a global, peaceful, commerce-based world order — the very Empire that Italian communist, convicted murderer, and hero of the antiglobalization movement Antonio Negri denounced in a book by that title just before 9/11. But I do not pretend to know how much “policing” is necessary to safeguard that world order. A whole bunch? Or is it safer for the policers to stick to doing very little, maybe even next to nothing (like Switzerland, which seems to remain pretty free)?

My uncertainty about all this explains why — despite, for the record, not favoring going into Iraq prior to the start of the war — I was willing to put up with Bush (and the Republicans generally) when it seemed that things might go fairly well over there and that Bush was shifting his attention toward the domestic mission of an “Ownership Society” slew of initiatives that would include the all-important partial privatization of Social Security and so forth. Keep in mind that Bush’s second inaugural speech, stressing the Ownership Society, and the inspiring first democratic elections in Iraq took place within about two months of each other. Things were looking up. But Katrina, pork, Abramoff, congressional abandonment of Social Security reform, near civil war in Iraq, loss of GOP control of Congress, etc., etc., so on, what have you.

Anyway, long story short: my tolerance of Jesus and Ares didn’t get me a smaller government and, consistent fellow — and foreign-policy quasi-agnostic — that I am, just as I was willing to tolerate Bush’s over-reliance on the military in hopes of getting some market-based reforms, so too am I willing to tolerate what may be Ron Paul’s under-reliance on the military in hopes, this time for sure (if he actually won), of getting some market-based reforms. Just had to get that out there in case anyone thought there was something baffling or inconsistent about my tolerance for both Bush and Paul.

This also explains why in the past few months, you might well have glimpsed me at a local Ron Paul party but also — as my ex-boss John Stossel noticed — glimpsed me in an audience on CSPAN not really applauding during a speech by Judge Andrew Napolitano that likened Bush to a fascist, even though I agreed with many things he said (and am very grateful to the Reason Foundation folks for having me). I don’t get all enthused when Bush wants war, and I don’t get all enthused when his critics call him a monster and say the conspiracy is coming to put us all in Gitmo.

But I do want budget cuts — remember budget cuts? — and if this Ron Paul thing doesn’t go the distance, Rudy Giuliani had damn well better give them to me.

As for Hillary’s mushy position on war stuff, who knows, maybe it’s not that far from my own. Still gonna wear the t-shirt and vote for someone else, though. (Nothing against Ms. Federman, though, who I think sympathizes with many of my views and will no doubt do a bang-up job on Dec. 5 — come find out.)


Red Stapler said...

You wear t-shirts?

Todd Seavey said...

Only for the right cause: maybe at the debate I should wear the one that shows the Tazmanian Devil devouring a day-glo peace sign, the shirt Michael Malice denounced as my “rave shirt” in our _Style Court_ appearance.

Others, though, have included Kaplan medical test prep, a warning about landmines in Cambodia, “I think, therefore I cannot be a socialist,” “Nuke their ass and take the gas” (Dad found that one in a trash can for me, to use in a biker gang Halloween costume one year in college — a costume in which I briefly spoke to Martha Nussbaum, I now recall — but it works for any oil-related war), Reason, Reason.tv, “Have you talked to your kids about Free-Market.net,” Wisconsin (from the wedding of the guy who founded Free-Market.net), the Red Bank Film Festival, a now self-parodic freebie one for wacky Mel Gibson’s movie _Conspiracy Theory_, a Simpsons knockoff created by Brown University and future Clinton speech writer Jeff Shesol (who put up with my mass-e-mails while in the job, bless him), “Beth’s ACSH Hoodlums” (biker-gang-style, inspired by an insult directed at my workplace), Bureaucrash’s “Try Capitalism” Coke-parody shirt (you have to stop viewing that one when you reach an odd-numbered level of irony or it helps the enemy), Heineken (from the days when Dawn Eden hosted trivia contests instead of promoting chastity for a living), and most recently some videogame company that gave out t-shirts when Scott and I went to Kaiju Big Battel, though we both agree it would have been much cooler to just have Kaiju Big Battel t-shirts.

Brain said...

I’m considering getting drunk.

No. Better not. I’ll be sober.

Carney might be drunk. Don’t know about Miss Federman. Maybe we’ll get Mister Seavey drunk.

Brain said...

That or we’ll say seditious things.

Sarah Federman said...

Will be sober. Not a good idea to be drunk when one is carrying a big stick.

John Carney said...

I wish someone had told me that last night, Sarah.