Song birds are the sweetest

In Kentucky;

The thoroughbreds the fleetest in Kentucky;

Mountains tower proudest,

Thunder peals the loudest,

The landscape is the grandest – and

Politics – the damnedest

In Kentucky.

James Mulligan

There is a US Senate race going on here in the Bluegrass State to determine who will occupy the seat of soon-to-retire Jim Bunning.  Like many, my instinctive response to this fact is:  “So what?”  I am not silly enough to believe the leaders of either party will ever pay attention to anything I cherish, except when they actively try to destroy it.  As everyone who has not been living in a cave knows by now, the Democratic Party has turned its back on the common working man it once represented; the former party of farmers and laborers has long since morphed into the party of Hollywood celebrities and leftist activists.  Its first priority appears to be purging and cleansing the land of what little Western civilization still remains.

Meanwhile the Republican Party is, if anything, more reptilian and repellent than the Dems, who are at least open and aboveboard regarding their contempt for small-town America and what it represents.  For years, two-faced Republican demagogues have served up phony-baloney about how much they love little country churches, Norman Rockwell paintings, and old-fashioned American life, even while they were simultaneously encouraging government-subsidized corporations to steamroll Mom & Pop businesses and turn main streets into chain-store strip-malls.  But wait, it gets better:  They also invited China to flood our markets with slave-manufactured goods, and for a follow-up they collaborated with Democrats in brewing various illegal-immigration amnesty schemes, so that the GOP’s amoral corporate sponsors might continue to exploit their very own limitless supply of cheap and disposable labor.  Family values, indeed.

So I would just as soon pronounce a pox on both their houses and ignore the whole farce.

But this particular race has proved interesting, since an ophthalmologist named Rand Paul is in the lead for the Republican nomination.  A graduate of Baylor University and Duke Medical School, Paul is best-known in Bowling Green, KY for the private practice he opened there in the 90’s.  To the rest of us, though, he may be more familiar as the son of Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX).  Those familiar with Paul the Elder’s career recognize him as an anti-establishment gadfly who was none too popular with his own party during the Bush years.  Paul the Younger is stirring up a fracas here in the Commonwealth by running on a platform which echoes his father’s devotion to strict constitutionalism, individual liberties, and limited government.

Now, unlike their parasitic, faux-conservative Republican colleagues, the Pauls do not disgust me every single time they open their mouths.  Even so, I hardly see eye-to-eye with either Ron or Rand, and feel obligated to point out my differences with them before commenting on the race itself.

My foremost objection is their frequent invocation of “rights.”  As constitutionalists, both men passionately defend the right to bear arms, the right to free speech, the right to a trial by jury, and so on.  While I heartily approve of firearms, conversation, and law, I must bring up the observations of James Kalb, who argues cogently that the Enlightenment discourse of individuals and their rights is part of liberalized America’s root problem, not the solution.  It would be far better to outline society in terms of duties:  Who owes what to whom?  And as classicist Thomas Fleming has noted, the natural unit of political authority is not the isolated individual – no such abstraction has ever really existed — but rather the family.

Both Pauls appeal to the mountaineer tradition of not poking one’s nose into the affairs of others.  Certainly this resonates with the native Kentucky spirit, and would be good advice for the bossy, know-it-all ninnies who seem to have taken over the state.  But carried too far and too dogmatically, this mind-your-own-business ethos crashes up against the reality that everybody affects everybody else through the basic acts of living.  If you and I are confined together in an enclosed space and you are prone to flatulence – why, then, yes, in that case it really is my business if you choose to stuff yourself with beans, beans, the musical fruit.  Likewise, I take it as obvious that no man is entitled to parch an entire community by damming up a stream that runs through his land.  (I emphasize again that these points are meant to justify neither our omni-incompetent managerial regime, nor its attempt to regulate every aspect of society.)

What Kentucky needs more than “a return to constitutional principles” is a restored historical awareness, because even the Tea Partier’s sense of tradition stretches back only as far as 1776 — or at best, to the Magna Charta.  There are far older visions which should be taken into account.  We have lost things which should never have been forgotten, and have permitted ancient yet timeless insights to be obscured by the flash and glitter of our shallow, consumerist-proletarian pop-culture.   The (admittedly worthy) ideal of the Jeffersonian republic is relatively new.  As a body of thought, American constitutionalism is only one limb of a vast, organically-connected heritage which includes figures like Homer, Plato, Herodotus, Aristotle, Cicero, Plutarch, Virgil, Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Sir Thomas More, and Shakespeare.  The Western intellectual tradition rests upon the shoulders of such giants, and once upon a time this tradition defined the curriculum for aspiring gentlemen here in Kentucky.  (That was before education for civic leadership got displaced by Dead French Leftists on the one hand and career-training for the ant-hill on the other.)

Therefore I believe the typical Tea Party crusader and Constitution Party activist gives exaggerated and excessive importance to Jefferson and the other “Founding Fathers.”  The term “Founders” itself seems to assign the men a quasi-religious status, as if in setting up a new political organization they actually created ex nihilio the communities, families, and society of 18th-Century America.  Granted, those who framed the US Constitution did embody far more learning and intelligence than do the animatronic fatheads one now sees on C-SPAN.  But giving the framers the respect that is their due is a far cry from conceiving of them as a fraternal order of political messiahs.

In other words, though they assuredly were sagacious, impressive statesmen whose writings reward close study, the framers of the Constitution were neither prophets nor demigods, and the document they produced is not Holy Writ.  Many of the principles upon which they drew were bound up in the skewed, impious doctrines of the Enlightenment.  So although we should indeed take the framers’ opinions very seriously, we should not anoint them with an aura of infallibility.

Now that all those convoluted remarks are out on the table, I confess that I do hope Rand Paul wins.  In the first place, I would relish seeing both the Democratic and Republican party machines receive a well-deserved, long-overdue poke in the eye with a sharp stick.  Furthermore, there is no critique I might make of Paul that would not apply tenfold to any of his opponents.  The other candidates in the race have all the shortcomings of a dogmatic constitutionalist – who at least stands for something — yet none of his redeeming qualities.  Rand Paul is undoubtedly mistaken on a number of important philosophical questions, but he is greatly to be preferred over his opportunistic peers, who never even rise to the level of being wrong.

At least when Paul speaks of how much he cherishes the US Constitution, he is not lying through his teeth.  Generally speaking, Democrats and Republicans alike try to get away with riding roughshod over the Constitution whenever it is convenient for their own respective party agenda; then when the tables turn and the opposing party tries to pull the same tricks, we are treated to the spectacle of a Nancy Pelosi (or a Mitch McConnell) metamorphosing into a rigorist who is shocked, shocked to learn that anyone would dream of taking short-cuts around the law of the land.  At his best, Paul is a populist who authentically taps into the electorate’s increasing impatience with such hypocritical antics, one who channels voter frustration over bipartisan boondoggles such as the Wall Street bailout.

Paul’s Republican rival for the nomination, on the other hand, is sticking to the tried-and-true formula of Kentucky political-machine politics.  Per Secretary of State Trey Grayson, civic discourse on the public good is best served by a cycle composed of three steps:  Recite clichés, fling mud, hope something sticks.  Repeat cycle rapidly and continuously, until the possibility of anyone thinking intelligently about the status quo – much less questioning it — has been ruthlessly smothered.

One pet slogan of Grayson’s good ol’ boy network is that Paul is “too kooky for Kentucky”:  Paul supporters are all paranoid wack-jobs, Paul deviates too far from the wonderful Republican Party mainstream, etc.  Had they not become a bit addled by their own propaganda, Grayson’s spin-doctors might realize that Paul’s kookiness is the source of his super-powers rather than his Achilles’ heel.  Indeed, the “kook” meme may even have backfired against Grayson, as it resembles the Left’s demonization of conservatism in general and the Tea Party movement in particular:  Are Paul supporters “kooks who cling to Bibles and guns,” perhaps?  In any event, it is odd that those playing at Republican purity-police have no qualms about marketing Secretary Grayson, a former Democrat who voted for Clinton.

“Kooky” is sometimes interchangeable with zealous, and those who support Paul do so because they know a man would have to be more than a little kooky to pit himself against the entrenched Washington big dogs.  Paul and Grayson employ very similar rhetoric about limited-government and reduced-spending  — the difference is that Paul is just crazy enough to mean it.  If Grayson is calculating and practical rather than kooky, then we might ask how much of Grayson’s motivation comes from nothing more than a prosaic, self-interested itch for a better seat on the gravy-train.

No, Paul’s actual weakness lies elsewhere:  Having no productive property or capital of their own, many Kentuckians have by now become completely dependent upon the US government and its assorted economy-stimulating projects.  As a result, those of us no longer capable of independent living will quite naturally want to keep the federal pork flowing.  This largesse would be guaranteed by the victory of Grayson, who would almost certainly do whatever Mitch McConnell tells him.  (In addition to being the boss of the Kentucky GOP, Senator McConnell has long been acknowledged by allies and enemies alike as the maestro of bringin’ home the bacon.)

Paul, in contrast, explicitly threatens to cure the Commonwealth of its addiction to federal tax kickbacks.   Hence the Grayson campaign’s best shot is to simply warn voters of this, and then bribe as many of them as possible — though naturally the campaign managers would have to find a less blunt, more flattering way of putting it.  Perhaps they could field a close-up advertisement of Grayson clutching knife and fork, wearing a bib and grinning from ear-to-ear:  Trust Trey!  “Government Pork Tastes Sweet As Derby Pie.”

The question now is whether Paul’s grassroots Tea Party support can triumph over Grayson’s insider-connections and pork-potential.  At the moment the answer seems to be yes, which indicates that Kentucky conservatives are not as timid as the Republican National Committee might hope.  (One especially heartwarming quote I encountered was from a woman who said something like, “I don’t care about who’s the ‘real Republican.’  I care about who’s the real conservative.”)

So some Kentuckians on the right have grown increasingly alienated from business-as-usual politics, and are maybe even asking if any amount of federally-bestowed loot is worth the Commonwealth’s dignity, identity, independence, and future.  It turns out that all that delicious pork carries with it a Faustian price-tag.  Having admitted this, an increasing number of Kentucky conservatives no longer trust the Republican establishment to do anything about the national debt, about taxes, about utopian projects, or about busybody Washington bureaucrats telling us all how to run our businesses, our farms, and our families.

These Kentuckians are starting to suspect that the GOP-elite couldn’t care less about rolling back socialism, not really, and are just as invested in the corrupt system as the Democrats are.  The absurdities of modern American “democracy” have, in short, driven many citizens of the Bluegrass State … a little kooky.  One can hardly hold it against them.

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. Any hopes I had for Rand Paul being anything other than a typical politician were laid to rest when I saw a video of him talking about mountain top removal coal mining. In the video Paul claims he travelled to Eastern Kentucky to investigate the issue; however, his investigation consisted of being taken to a reclamation site by a coal company employee. Of course the site looks immaculate, all of the “overburden” and rocks have been covered in bright, green, hydro-seeded grasses; a little artificial stream filled with clear water trickles through the middle of the site; and for good measure, a few stocked bull Elk meander through the background. Paul immediately pronounces it a thing of beauty, and goes on to say he thinks, “MTR mining improves the land by producing flat spots for parks and sports fields.”

    As someone who has lived in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia, and whose family members have worked as miners for generations, I can assure Dr. Paul that he has fallen for the oldest trick in the coal companies’ arsenal. You see, the coal companies always have a few show and tell reclamation sites and mines around, so that when any pesky journalists or unfriendly politicians come snooping around they can say, “see, we ain’t hurtin nothin.” The majority of sites, on the other hand, the ones with toxic sludge filled impoundment pounds, rampant erosion, and streams covered with dirt and rock, are off limits to all but the most determined “tree huggers and enirowhackers.”

    Of course, Dr. Paul has to get in a comment about property rights; else wise, someone might accuse him of not being a true Libertarian. Basically, he says the whole issue of MTR mining is a property rights issue. The argument, believe me; I have heard it repeated numerous times, goes as follows: If a coal company has a valid lease and permit, even though said lease and permit were likely obtained by “greasing” the government and courts, then it is nobody’s business what they do on their site. Naturally, anyone who questions the site’s impact on the surrounding community is denounced as a communistic, envirowhacker, and told to go sit in the dark and cold if they don’t like coal. Dr. Paul also goes on to say, “if a coal company’s activities are hurting anyone in the surrounding area then they are free to seek an injunction and fight for damages in the court system.” I guess this seems like a reasonable idea from 20,000 feet, but upon closer examination several problems arise. First, it is extremely expensive and time consuming to take an issue to court. Secondly, the companies buy the courts. And if you don’t believe me, go read about how much money Massey Energy’s CEO spent buying a seat on the WV Supreme Court of Appeals. Finally, there are just some things—clean water, old family home places and cemeteries, and mountains that are possibly the oldest in the world—which by their very nature are irreplaceable and thus incapable of being assigned a monetary value.

    And if all of this doesn’t convince you that Dr. Paul is the anathema to much of what we readers of FPR stand for, then there is also a video out there of him talking about how much he loves, loves, loves Ayn Rand.

    No, I am not saying the other candidates are better. I agree whole heartedly with the descriptions of the parties presented in the opening section of the article. I’m just saying I don’t think Dr. Paul is much different.

  2. While I value the Drs. Paul, the truth is that “libertarian” is an alternate spelling of “liberal.” Robert goes to the problem immediately: When push comes to shove, the libertarians will be on the side of the coporatists; Mountain Top Removal is a mere property right and a Potemkin Park solves the problem. They really believe, along with Ayn Rand, that the rich are rich because they are better than us. That’s why Rand has the name he has.

    Still, I would like to see him win, if only for the entertainment value. But I doubt that he will. The Tea Partiers have no real platform or program, so it was easy to subvert the movement into another neocon swindle, and every neocon is now a tea-o-con.

  3. Jerry, I get your objection to “rights” talk, but I have tried to have that conversation with otherwise intelligent and philosophically grounded conservatives and they look at me like I have three heads. I have concluded that with few exceptions (those who have drunk deep of paleoism) it isn’t a fruitful conversation. We have to live with rights talk for now.

    Conservatives don’t generally reject to the idea of legal rights. Rights that are hard won through the course of time. The Magna Carta, the rights of Englishmen etc. What they object to is the notion of “universal human rights” which are arrived at by man’s reason. (Whether God given inalienable rights are less problematic is open for debate.) One good thing about constitutionalism is that it is really defending legal rights, regardless of what other flowery language the constitutionalist might use. Also, defending the constitution as originally intended and invoking the “Founders” is inherently conservative. The most muddled headed libertarian Utopian sounds like a reactionary when he is calling for following the intent of the Founders against some new fangled interpretation.

  4. That Libertarianism equates to Facism is revealingly illustrated in this 1975 interview with Ronald Reagan where he tells us we should expect the strongest man on the block to run the neighborhood:-

    Naturally Reagan was a fan of Ayn Rand:

    Of course, it never occurred to Reagan, or Ayn Rand for that matter, that both collective sovereignty (democracy) and individual sovereignty should both co-exist in the world. This was an important point back then as it is now. Permit me to illustrate this with some history.

    Paul Volcker was appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve by Jimmy Carter in 1979 and re-appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1983. However, Volcker was a regulator and Reagan was a Libertarian, market fundamentalist de-regulator and when Reagan realized Volcker wasn’t going to do his bidding he got rid of him in 1987 and replaced him with a really big Ayn Rand fan and de-regulator Alan Greenspan. The era of serious Wall Street gambling then began with the lending of US banks to the financial sector, as opposed to the real economy of manufacturing and non-financial services, going from 60% of outstanding loan stock in 1980 to 80% in 2007. It had been 50% in the 1950’s as the big push for home ownership (homes fit for heroes) began but the ending of the trade embargo with China in 1972 by Richard Nixon (another de-regulator) meant reduced loan investment in American manufacturing as American capitalists rushed to invest in lower cost Chinese manufacturing plants. However, the house price inflation of the 1970’s, where in a decade the average new home more than doubled in price, showed the banks how house inflation pumping could make even more profit from capital growth than just plain old steady house prices with mortgage compound interest lending. This plus speculation in fancy financial products, commodities and the carry trade more than made up for the lower loan profits to be had from the real economy. Now the wheel has come full circle where Obama The Ditherer is backing off taking advice on bank regulation from Lawrence Summers his Director of the National Economic Council and supporting Paul Volcker the Chairman of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. It was Lawrence Summers who resisted advice to regulate the growth of the derivatives market when he was Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton’s Presidency. As a consequence the American tax payer has had to finance $180 billion’s worth of bail-out money to the insurance company AIG’s derivative counter parties who are mainly investment banks like Goldman Sachs as well as foreign banks. As Joseph Stilglitz, the former World Bank Chief Economist, has said to put this in perspective the $180 billion would have provided all of Africa’s foreign aid relief for the next twenty five years.

    I think it’s possible to see that America’s problem is that it has allowed two rabid dogs to roam free. One dog is called Capitalism and the other is called Government. The first named dog dominates the latter and makes it do its bidding. The only way forward is for the American people to use their Collective Sovereignty to put both on a leash. Rand Paul is a long, long way from understanding this and that it is actually Libertarianism that allows these rabid dogs to roam free!

  5. The comments are all appreciated; although I am not inclined to emphasize the same angles as Robert or Mr. Medaille, I do appreciate where you all are coming from.

    I’m certainly not trying to campaign on behalf of Paul. But I do think his father has, on average, been a beneficial force, regardless of whatever ideological commitments he has made. It is quite possible I’m being naive, but I’m hoping the same might be the case with the younger Paul, should he become a senator.

    He might not admit the need to restrain corporations, but one can at least rest assured that he’s not going to actively subsidize them.

    The Pauls have been very vocal against NAIS, a significant issue in my mind. Paul also is the only candidate in the race who has expressed solidarity with the homeschooling movement, and has made an issue of reining in educrats.

    At best — and this is admittedly optimistic — Paul possibly represents an inclination to openly question the current order, and reconsider first principles.

    A fear of such questioning is, IMO, what is driving the “kook” meme — the same apparatchiks now spreading it would employ the exact same sophistry against Wendell Berry, in the unlikely event Berry’s writings ever began to be taken seriously in his native state.

    As to mountaintop removal, certainly this is a serious objection to Paul’s campaign — and one of the many reasons I felt obliged to compose a lengthy disclaimer.

    The video is almost humorous, like a Saturday Night Live sketch. I mean, “MTR mining improves the land by producing flat spots for parks and sports fields,” sounds like self-parody.

    Before simply labeling him a libertarian, however, I think it fair to point out that I very easily dug up a lot of libertarian criticism against both Pauls, due to their position on abortion.

  6. Thank God for Renaldo Magnus or the commie-Dems would have already made us Romania West.
    Just because a Republican is a goof-ball is no reason to vote Democrat.

  7. “That Libertarianism equates to Facism”

    Bruce, words mean things, and that is just absurd.

    Ron Paul is admittedly a philosophical libertarian, although he is a paleolibertarian. But his political program as expressed is pure dogmatic constitutionalism. I submit this is entirely conservative in effect. What part of strict constitutionalism would you gentlemen object to? And if there is some part of strict constitutionalism you would object to, wouldn’t you at least admit that it would require an amendment to change it.

  8. What part of strict constitutionalism would you gentlemen object to?

    Ah hum – we ain’t all gentlemen here ya know.

    The part I would object to is the is the “MTR mining improves the land by producing flat spots for parks and sports fields”. Seriously – if this guy really can’t figure why a remark like “this used to be a mountain and now it is a flat park” demonstrates a complete idiocy than I have serious doubts about entrusting him with protecting constitutional rights.

    One of the issues with the notion of framer worship (and strict constitutionalism) is that the framers did not have the technology to remove mountaintops at great profit to the mountain top remover whilst polluting the water, creating mudslides and in general doing little to improve the public well being (mercury poisoning anyone?). There are lots of things about our world today ( nucelar bombs for example) the framer’s could not imagine which makes 18th century notions re: property rights just a tad questionable within the 21st century context.

    I appreciate the temptation to poke a stick in both the dems and republicans eyes – something that might make them all notice we are thoroughly fed up with the lot of them has great merit. But isn’t Paul just another example of voting for a candidate not because they are worthy but because there isn’t anything better around?

  9. The simple truth is that the American economy is out of control because of the political and economic relationships within the country. An elite few direct much of the investment and over the last thirty years there has been a huge decline in productive investment matched by a massive rise in speculative investment. Much of the productive investment has also taken place overseas in low wage economies. The Financial Crash was the inevitable outcome of this great investment distortion but its true underlying cause was the pursuit of Libertarian ideas which are tantamount to Fascism. If you are not prepared to accept this analysis the onus is upon you to show how this distortion can be reversed by continuing with Libertarian ideas. I have seen no evidence that anybody can.

  10. Red Phillips. When the few dictate much of the investment in a country and indeed start to destroy the economy of that country through their investment decisions how can you not perceive this as covert Fascism masquerading as Libertarianism. No doubt you will tell me that this is the inevitable consequence of living in a democracy where the more able get to take the investment decisions but sometimes get it wrong. My counter-argument is that once you have allowed segregation into the more able from the less able you no longer have a democracy you have dictatorship. The whole point of having political and economic democratic machinery is to stop this segregative dictatorship and Libertarians fail to grasp this obvious truth.

  11. Cecelia, what does mountain top removal have to do with the Constitution? Under strict constitutionalism regulation of mining would be a state issue, and the good people of Kentucky could regulate it however they saw fit.

    And if you reject strict constitutionalism, what alternative theory of constitutional interpretation are you advancing? Because you can’t just ignore the thing or pretend it doesn’t exist. Do you advocate a “living and breathing” constitution? A broad interpretation of the commerce clause?

    The problems with conservative rejection of strict constitutionalism are so many they deserve their own essay.

  12. Red, I think Cecelia’s point is that if you have people who believe that MTR is a good thing, it doesn’t matter where you regulate it. Further, if the corporations control the political process, then the mountain will be removed. There are more things than “strict constitutionalism”; there are other institutional arrangements that are more important or at least as important.

  13. John, don’t elect libertarians who value property right uber alles at the state level. But the point is you can’t just ignore the Constitution and act as if it doesn’t exist without being part of the problem. (Of course that is what is happening now and has been pretty much since 1861, but it is profoundly wrong.) Either the Constitution is the law of the land or it isn’t. If it is, how is it to be interpreted? Strictly seems like the default answer, but what other theory are you advancing? Who are its theorists? What support can you find for it among the Founders? To the degree a case could be made against strict construction it would be made by Nationalists (misnamed Federalists) whose vision was entirely contrary to what folks at FPR stand for.

  14. It seems that everywhere I turn nowadays someone is repeating the so and so is going to shake up the political order meme. To me, this is perhaps the most nonsensical thing I have heard in my short thirty years on this here earth. I mean how exactly is anyone, whether it is Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, the Tea Partiers, or any other person du jour, going to shake up the political order when they are all operating under false assumptions and trying to achieve the same unachievable results.

    I don’t see a single major political figure in this country acknowledging the fact that a primary reason why the economy is in such bad shape is because the economy of the past sixty plus years was based on a fluke—cheap energy. Nor do I see anyone telling the public that there are limits—namely ecological—to economic growth. Rather, what I see is a bunch of people whom I assume (maybe incorrectly) are smart enough to know better, telling the public that as soon as you elect us all these problems will be over. The Democrats are going to save us by investing money in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and research, thus making America a leader in the “new economy.” The Republicans are going make the country number one by reducing regulations and taxes, and by going to war with anyone who stands in our way. And the Libertarians live in some fantasy world wherein these mythical entities called markets are going to save us, that is, as soon as we relinquish all control to them. The one thing all these ideologies (I suppose that’s what one calls them) have in common is that they all assume it is possible and/or desirable to have unlimited growth, and that there are indeed no limiting factors in the world.

    When I see a sober minded politician stand up and say, “Ladies and gentlemen, from this point forward we must acknowledge that there are limits to 1) how big the economy can grow, 2) how much money and things we can all have, and 3) what the planet is capable of sustaining,” I might be inclined to believe someone is indeed shaking up the political order. It might also be nice if this person or persons could see fit to add a few words in about finding meaning in something other than money, like you know—family, friendship, and community. Until then I suppose I will remain skeptical, and much like Kerouac, tend to wonder if all this talk about family values and community isn’t just that—talk.

  15. Libertarians as Fascists? Thats a whopper. The average cross section of libertarians couldn’t put together the focused consensus needed to spring a decent Fascist Scam anywhere. It’s why we like the Gadsden Flag…going anywhere with the Libertarians is like trying to drive a two-headed snake. Libertarians will always and only be an opposition party, it is their niche.

    The great majority would rather be told what to do and think and folks that don’t buy the pedestrian myths ruffle too many feathers, thus firmly placing a governor on the flathead six of the libertarian movement.

    Something tells me that if the Libertarians were to actually achieve a majority in Washington, it would last about 3 days before we would see behavior that would make the South Korean Pugilistic Legislature look like a bunch of nancy boys.

  16. Red Phillps – my comment re: mountain top removal was as an example. Although I would suggest that anyone who could visit this staged removed mountain top and not recognize it was 1) staged and 2) not equal or better than the original mountain top is too clueless to be entrusted with constitutional protection. Such a candidate may not accept money from big corporations but it appears such a candidate can be rather easily bamboozled by big corporations.

    The constitution allowed for amendments – and this I would suggest is a sensible and practical notion. The framers could not have anticipated all the many developments and dilemnas that a people could face two hundred years later. Hence the need to recognize that the Constitution occasionally requires amendments – the amendments prohibiting slavery as an example. Would strict constituionalism require that we maintain slavery? If so than we have no need of such purity.

  17. Simply because the Libertarian ideology in its extremism can’t hold together coherently as an electable party doesn’t mean it can’t form an important component part of an electable party like the Republicans or a populist protest movement like the Tea-Baggers. The American academic Robert O. Paxton has spent many years studying Fascism and written several books on the subject. In his book “The Anatomy of Fascism” published in 2004 he makes two interesting points. Firstly, Fascism he argues is a Johnny-Come-Lately political movement which was a response to the mass widening of the political suffrage during the 19th century in Europe. Secondly, he states that in every “democracy” including the United States Fascism exists at the Stage of Level One formation (Paxton believes there are three Stages before full blown Fascism arrives). Any study of Fascism reveals that its financial backers were the usual suspects, rich industrialists and bankers. This was true of both German and Italian Fascism with even the notion it included a clique of New York businessmen, including representatives of the Ford Motor Company and the Rockefeller Chase Bank:-

    It would seem natural that the rich would feel threatened by the rise of mass universal suffrage and especially when in turn it gave birth to the idea that economic suffrage too was a legitimate cause. This latter sense of threat accelerated massively with the apparent success of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Little wonder there was a push by the rich to implement Fascism wherever possible. The failure of either Fascism or Communism to make headway in Britain despite the General Strike in 1926 was probably more due to the inherited collective wisdom of the majority of British people that the fight for parliamentary democracy had been long and hard against monarchs, religious despots and the rich and they weren’t going to easily surrender its potential fruits.

    In America today the right use three key arguments, firstly the Agency Theory that politicians will always run government in their own interests and especially spending deficits because they use popular spending programs to get themselves elected, secondly the Agency Theory that government bureaucrats will always pursue their own interests because they are not exposed to market forces and finally that only market forces can magically achieve General Equilibrium where demand is matched by supply. I will not engage in the counter reasoning to these three key arguments since this is not the point of my post but rather to point out that all three of them are core beliefs of Libertarianism. Co-opting these Libertarian beliefs by right-wingers serves the purpose of hypocritically under-mining universal suffrage which at the moment only finds the expression of its power through government action. The necessity of balancing political suffrage with economic suffrage is not yet a main stream belief. With elite capitalism revealing its true colors with the Financial Crash it is only natural the rich should try to divert attention from capitalism’s failings by attacking democracy. The manufactured populism of the Tea-Baggers movement, for example, has all the finger print marks of Libertarian sponsorship and infiltration by the extreme right:-

  18. Hi Jerry,

    Me hoping he keeps talking. It’s entertaining and likely to lead to Ross Perot syndrome. The more people hear from him, the less they will want to buy the product. But that is not always reliable in Kentucky. It’s our state that is kooky in embracing this fellow. Why couldn’t he be “from” somewhere else?


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