You’ll hear me (here) on Alan Nathan’s radio show for a few minutes at 5:06pm today [UPDATE: and the health panelists I briefly praised were Joseph Rago, Avik Roy, and Peter Suderman]. I’ll be talking to him from World Trade Center 7, since I’m attending a gathering there of writers affiliated with the conservative Phillips Foundation. I’ve also been in that building for gatherings of “skeptics” (in the anti-superstition sense).
The irony is that some people out there – including a few of my fellow Ron Paul fans – probably think it was people like my fellow Phillips Fellows who blew up the old World Trade Center 7 and probably whine that the skeptics movement too quickly dismisses conspiracy-theorizing “Truthers.” Apparently, there’s even a pro-Paul PAC run by a Truther. (Maybe some of the Truthers even think, like some post-Katrina conspiracy theorists, that the devastation occurred precisely so that establishment groups could take control of the rubble and party atop the graves of the dead.)
But Ron Paul himself has angrily dismissed the idea that the government destroyed the World Trade Center, as well he should. And with the likes of Romney and Santorum atop GOP polls, now would be a good time to start judging Paul by his actual views and not the views of some of his crankier fans. (Similarly, plenty of Klansmen have voted for Democrats and Republicans over the years, as you may recall, but that in itself doesn’t invalidate the two major parties.)
The important thing is not who politicians – glad-handers all – have had contact with over the years but what we really think they’ll do once elected. I don’t think anyone doubts that Ron Paul is on a real, decades-long mission to drastically shrink the government. By contrast, Gingrich, for instance, claims he was a Goldwater Republican in the mid-60s but was actually a Rockefeller Republican – and there’s some sweet irony in seeing him outed for it by controversial Ron Paul ex-staffer Lew Rockwell (on the now-canceled Paul-friendly show FreedomWatch).
If perchance the GOP is headed toward a brokered convention, I really hope the discipline and dedication of the Paulites wins out amidst the chaos.
Aside from the obvious political activists and operatives, among those rooting for Paul at one time or another have reportedly been: Juliette Lewis, Oliver Stone, the other guy from the Fugees, Julie Newmar, Kelly Clarkson, the bass player of the Allman Brothers, Joe Rogan, Babylon 5’s Jerry “Garibaldi” Doyle, fascinating comedian D.L. Hughley (who has a book coming out this summer), rappers KRS One and Prodigy and Snoop Dogg, Vince Vaughn, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Blues Travelers’ John Popper, that L.L. Bean heiress, Clint Eastwood (pre-auto-bailout ad, damn him), sort of Stephen Colbert (in a rare non-joking moment), and (the libertarian Katy Perry) Aimee Allen (as seen vividly here).
One disturbing thing about the complicated array of potential and actual GOP candidates this season is that we seem slowly but surely to have weeded out all the politicians who had libertarian leanings aside from Paul himself.
I mean, for all their flaws, Perry, Bachmann, Cain, Huntsman, Pawlenty, and Johnson all had at least some libertarian tendencies – more so than Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich, I think – and they’re all gone now (not to mention Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Palin, and a cast of what seems like hundreds). It’s just as well for Paul’s purposes, but it’s worrying if the primaries basically amount to winnowing the options down to (aside from Paul) the most authoritarian options.
My choice, noted before, is pretty clear at this point: Paul in the April NY primary, then Johnson in November if Paul is not the GOP nominee. Let the chips fall where they may. I’ll have voted Libertarian instead of Republican in half the presidential elections in which I’ve voted, and this is shaping up to be one of those years, much as I honestly wish otherwise. I don’t like being on the fringe, really. But the Republicans and Democrats don’t leave me much choice in the matter.
It is tantalizing, though – precisely because of Paul’s flaws – seeing just how well he’s doing this year (as one friend of mine said, imagine if he looked as good and spoke as clearly as Romney – and one might add, hadn’t published controversial newsletters).
I am reminded of my favorite moment from X-Files,which was the split second in which we suddenly understood why the old men who made up the Conspiracy had collaborated with the aliens: They simply thought they had no other hope of surviving. Once they realized the aliens were biologically vulnerable, one of the old men said with amazement, “Resistance is possible!” These geezers weren’t just sadists after all. They were merely cowards hoping to find a way out.
Of course, they all ended up being burned to a crisp by another faction of aliens, but for a short time there, things were up in the air, in a good sense. It was inspiring. So is the current situation. Half the under-forty primary voters in Iowa picked Paul. And my younger anarcho-capitalist acquaintances seem as eager to sweep the existing conservative and libertarian establishments aside as they are to get rid of the government (go for it!). Big changes may yet be afoot.
And it looks increasingly likely Ron Paul actually won Maine, by the way. I now realize that the way these things sometimes work is that the state party will get more likely to acknowledge this if it looks like Romney’s fizzling elsewhere.
Assuming for the moment that Paul does not get the GOP nomination, there will be a very interesting lurch occurring in a few months, when a large portion of libertarians (who it appears the GOP really will need to win this time) switch their allegiances over to the Libertarian Party, likely to field Gary Johnson as its higher-profile-than-usual nominee (one poll last month showed voters split Obama 47/ Romney 40/ Johnson 7 in a hypothetical matchup, and Santorum alienates libertarians even more than Romney does).
Controversial veteran political activist Roger Stone has already announced his switch from GOP to LP after decades of loyalty, for what it’s worth.
Then again, the Johnson campaign touts an article arguing that Obama is the one who should worry about Johnson. I’ll be delighted if both major parties are worried. They deserve to be. Let’s make the summer and fall one big exercise in libertarian brand-reinforcement and then make the biggest dent possible in November. I hope the libertarian intellectuals are smart enough to play along by wasting no more time on subdivisions and narrower labels: an-cap, paleo, liberal-tarian, etc., etc. Enough with all that. Together we can take the fight to the enemy now.
And those still freaking out over the Paul faction’s paleo leanings might take some reassurance from this: A well-known moderately-conservatively black writer (John McWhorter, who favored Obama in 2008, as he explained at a bipartisan dinner discussion I went to before the election) here does an online chat about Ron Paul with a formerly-moderately-conservative but now religious-plus-progressive black econ prof from Brown – and they both basically like Paul and say the newsletters scandal is overblown (this clip is also the first time I’ve seen a Bloggingheads participant have to tell someone in his house to stop interrupting him while he does the chat).
I have to confess that the point at which I lost interest in the newsletters controversy was when I realized that, contrary to the impression anti-Paul writer Jamie Kirchick gave, there was a byline other than Ron Paul’s on at least one of the (small handful of) offending newsletter articles – and that furthermore, even hardcore libertarians seem confused about whether it was this James B. Powell, this James B. Powell, or New York’s own harmless and sarcastic Jim Powell (which I do not think is the case, but at some point I have better things to think about and keep track of). This Powell person is a factional dispute unto himself.
The fact that at least one of those three(?) people is more Cato than Mises Institute also muddies the whole “cosmopolitans vs. rednecks” narrative that usually heightens the internal divide in the movement and starts to make the offensive passages seem more Gawker than Klan in context, so to speak. Enough already.
Silly entertaining items:
•If the chat clip above is not entertaining enough, by the way, here’s someone doing a good Frank Sinatra impression with the lyrics of “New York, New York” rewritten to be about Ron Paul. The Paul fans seem especially prone to pranks and stunts. Perhaps as president he would help to foster a PWNership Society. Ha! (Speaking of ownership, intellectual property remains another divisive issue among libertarians, and they might be intrigued by the way in which shifting international standards about what’s in the public domain imperils things like anarchist Alan Moore’s eclectic/nostalgic comic book projects using public domain-ish characters.)
•Let us not forget that candidate Vermin Supreme is still out there.
•And though it’s actually less entertaining than Supreme, there is also a clip online of Austin’s own wildly popular libertarian conspiracy theorist Alex Jones joke-endorsing – and interviewing at great length – Cobra Commander, which probably pleases the producers of the upcoming film sequel greatly.
•I never even saw the first film, but I love the fact that the sequel has Cobra Commander, played by Jonathan Pryce, disguising himself as the President of the United States and using the military to kill virtually all of the Joes – aside from a small group led by Roadblock, played by the Rock, who in order to survive must find the original G.I. Joe himself, played by Bruce Willis.
And the trailer uses a cover of White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” the song that kept going through my head for about a decade. But that was before hearing the Aimee Allen song about Ron Paul, of course.
(And on the off-chance this entry sets off a firestorm of controversy, be warned I’ll be busy down at the Trade Center and probably won’t get a chance to respond.)