Monthly Archives: October 2011

Ed Thompson, Requiem im Pacem

Ed Thompson may well have been the brother of former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson but he carved out his own political legacy over the past decade. It’s with great sadness that he recently died of cancer. Admitting such last year during the middle of a campaign cost him a state Senate seat but attested the honesty and decency of the man.

Thompson had quite live quite a life, from a Vegas card dealer to a prize fighter to a trucker to bar owner and even a jailbird, and he brought his real world experience to politics. Starting as the owner of a popular supper club in Tomah, Wisconsin all the way to mayor, he ran for governor in 2002 on the LP line and gained the most votes for a non-major party candidate in Wisconsin in more than half a century. Ed Thompson’s biggest political legacy is bringing decentralist ideals down from the academic and hipster and cosmo realm of most libertarians to the masses. He was a precursor of the Ron Paul campaign.

Rest in Peace to a good man who fought the good fight.

Mitt Romney’s Israel First foreign policy

Pandering to different groups is a standard operating practice of most politicians. Mitt Romney is as good as anyone at doing this which is why he is one of the top candidates in polls. But even Mitt’s pandering reached the level of pornographic when he stated in an interview in an Israeli newspaper that Israel should be the one to dictate what U.S. policy should be towards it.

So if Mitt becomes Commander-in-Chief of the world’s most powerful nation, one which for years has subsidized Israel’s economy and its military machine, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel will not be based on mutual interests, which is usually how foreign policy is made between nations, but one in which Israel itself determines what the relation ship is and how it should be conducted. Romney is proposing to give away U.S. control of its own policy to that of a foreign nation. So much for “American Exceptionalism” We give them money and they tell us what to do. That’s a strange policy.

Granted Romney is employing a fair number of neocons to his campaign team but I wonder if even they would say things so outlandish and outrageous about U.S.-Israeli relations (even if they believe the same in their hearts).  It makes one wonder who Romney is trying to impress but it also shows the desperate depths he’ll sink to in order to do so. Some Conservatives, who may well have been resigned to a Romney nomination, are beginning to wonder if just giving it to the next guy in line is such a good idea.

 

The Saudi connection

Not much has been discussed about the plot of an Iranian-American businessman to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Perhaps because it was so outlandish and the person involved so stupid it seems the Justice Department is taking its own sweet time with the investigation or best yet, let sleeping dog lie. While there’s speculation in some quarters about Israeli involvement behind the plot to try and frame the Iranians and cause a U.S. attack, given how sloppy this whole mess is and given the Mossad’s reputation, one can raise questions about their potential involvement. But one intelligence service which does not enjoy such a reputation but has every reason to get the U.S. to attack Iran  is not just Israel, but Saudi Arabia.

The Arab Spring protests may have seemed to pass by the Desert Kingdom but this is not entirely true. There have been revolts outside the eyes of the media and they’ve taken place in a very sensitive spot  of the country, the eastern provinces closest to the Persian Gulf and Iran. These places are predominately Shiite and the House of Saud has worried for years they may rise up in revolt ever since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. With revolts and unrest all over the region, the Saudis have cracked down in these provinces and in nearby Bahrain, where an unpopular Sunni tribal family rules over a Shiite majority with the assent of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet which ports there.

Alexander Cockburn has written a very good article on Saudi worries for Chronicles. Saudi worries are also U.S. worries because the east is where Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure is located. Any serious unrest here threatens the kingdom, threatens oil prices and U.S. interests in relation to Iran, who already has increased its influence with the U.S.’s war in Iraq. A dynasty ruled by old men with seething populations of youngsters and repressed Shiites is not exactly a stable situation as Cockburn points out:

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What Became of the Ralph Nader Primary Challenge Effort?

Dave Weigel addresses the Ralph Nader effort here.

Six weeks ago, word got out about a progressive project that could have Ralph Nader playing a familiar role: Electoral scold. He was the best-known member of a coalition to recruit five progressive candidates to run, as Democrats, against Barack Obama. At 4:30 p.m. today, the coalition was going to face its first deadline: qualifying to enter the New Hampshire primary.

Nader’s group won’t make the deadline.

“[Secretary of State] Bill Gardner switched the days on us,” Nader says. “He threatened to change the primary date after Nevada moved up its caucuses, and in the process, he moved up the filing deadline. So he’s pulled the rug out from under us — you think it’s late November, and all of a sudden it’s October 28.”

Nader is annoyed, and understandably so. “You ought to have one federal standard for every state’s elections,” he says…

See more …

Interestingly, look how much hostility there is to Nader at DemocraticUnderground.com.

Above cross posted at IPR. My editorial opinion follows.

How can anyone be that hostile to Nader? I’m a Constitution Party supporting right-wing paleocon, and I can’t help but respect Nader as a principled voice of opposition. The Democratic Underground folks come off like a bunch of rabid partisan shills. So far I only see one comment even supportive of the idea of a primary challenge.

That said, when Nader said he was all but certain there would be a primary challenger, I assumed he knew something. I guess he didn’t. He shouldn’t have said that unless he already had someone lined up.

Darcy Richardson to Challenge Obama in Democrat Primary

First, unfortunately this likely means that a “big name” challenger is not going to materialize. Darcy even admits his frustration with this in his announcement. But this announcement is good news for a few reasons. Darcy is by and large the kind of left-wing populist who can challenge Establishmentarian Obama from his left and still articulate points that right-wing populists are (should be) making as well. Also, Darcy has a history of being friendly to third parties. In addition, Darcy was vocal in his opposition to the Korea Trade Deal. Hopefully he will make Obama’s trade treachery a highlight of his campaign, along with the fact that Obama’s foreign policy has been Bush’s third term, both charges the paleo-right will be glad to second.

Good luck Darcy.

HT: IPR

Update: Here is another story on Darcy’s candidacy. And another.

As of the last I heard, Obama and Richardson are the only two Democrat candidates who have officially filed paperwork in NH, and I think today is the filing deadline. I’ll look for confirmation of this.

Update II: Actually, there will now be 11 Democrats on the NH ballot. Obviously the others flooded in at the last minute.

Bachmann’s own little world

Some are calling for Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to get out of the race. And while I don’t think she will (at least not before Iowa), what should be a disqualifying factor in voting for her is the latest staff brouhaha where pretty much the entire top staff of her campaign in New Hampshire quit. Not because staffer left the campaign, it happens all the time (A bunch of Cain staffers left early and look who is leading in the polls). The fact their departure sincerely surprised her and she  pretended as if it didn’t happen or was made up by the media, is what is disturbing. One of the staffers said he quit the week before the announcement was made. Did her staff not bother to tell her the bad news? If so it doesn’t bode well for a potential Bachmann presidency. In many ways she basically operates  like walking Potemkin Village with her own facts and figures she touts even though they are easily debunked and disposition which makes one wonder if she thinks every day is a sunny day. The campaign has conducted itself in the same manner too, which probably why a lot of people no longer work for it.

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Articles for your consideration

“Living with David Duke and Louis Farrakhan”  by SARTRE at BATR

“From 9-9-9 to ?-?-?” by J.J. Jackson at Liberty Reborn

“Slaying the New York State Pork Dragon” also by SARTRE at BATR

“Freedom Lost” by Chuck Baldwin

“The Best Little Whore in Texas”  is great article by Matt Tabbi describing life in Texas under Rick Perry

“Immunity and Impunity in America” by Glenn Greenwald in TAC

“The Occupiers and the State”  by Anthony Gregory at Lew Rockwell.com

Jeffrey Lord Continues his Anti-Ron Paul Crusade

The man is obviously obsessed. Now he is raising the anti-Semitism charge again. Is he a hired gun? Just fixated? Can’t help but return to the scene of his past beatdowns hoping for a different outcome this time? He even mentions Tom Woods by name. You know how when a boxer shakes off a punch saying how it didn’t hurt you know it did? Likewise, Lord calling out Tom Woods by name means he felt the past wounds Woods inflicted on him. Below is one of my replies in the comment thread:

Wait a minute now. I have no use for arm chair theologians rambling about the Talmud or Jew obsessed conspiracy theories, but to deny that concerns about Israel play an inordinate role in shaping American foreign policy is willful ignorance. When the issue of ending foreign aid comes up, the defenders of foreign aid to Israel are quick with undisguised special pleadings for why it should be continued. When the issue of Iran getting nukes, which they obviously have no delivery method to get to the US, comes up it is always brought up that the nukes could be used against Israel, as if that is somehow automatically an American military concern. You cannot have it both ways. You can’t object to people complaining about the undue influence of Israel on US foreign policy considerations in one breath, and then plead “what about Israel” in the next. If you don’t want people to complain about the exaggerated importance of Israel then when the issue of Iran getting nukes comes up, don’t bring up Israel. When the issue of cutting foreign aid comes up (which any conservative worthy of the name should support reflexively) don’t say, “Well except Israel.” Do we have a deal Mr. Lord?

Also, it is disingenuous to ask why Paul’s campaign alone attracts the Jew obsessed and you know it. Who are the Jew obsessed supposed to support? Mitt Romney? Rick Perry? Paul is the only candidate who takes a neutral position toward Israel so therefore he is going to differentially attract those who are opposed to our obviously Israel deferential status quo foreign policy compared to a candidate who is openly supportive of it. Some of those people who oppose the status quo will be authentic conservatives and libertarians who support non-intervention. Some will be the Jew obsessed. This is not rocket science, so quit playing your Cultural Marxist games.

 

The West vs. the Third World, and the Vatican’s Hyper-Globalism

Regarding the Vatican’s recent call for a One World Government, Rod Dreher writes:

The conservative Catholic blogosphere is filling up with strong dissent from this document. Which makes sense — it is a radically utopian piece of work, one that rightly unnerves people of conservative conviction and instinct. Still, the ease with which conservative Catholics dismiss the statement calls into question how intellectually honest they are when it comes to criticizing Catholic liberals who do the same.

I’ve noticed the tendency of many Europeans and Diaspora Europeans (i.e. white folks) to think of such matters in the abstract terms of liberal or conservative.  (Perhaps this is a genetic trait whites evolved living in the barren escapes of Northern Europe, as others have argued.)    While in the past such abstract thinking has been beneficial  (such as the advances made during the Scientific Revolution), today it’s turned into a rather short-sighted view in a globalized world of people who think in more concrete terms, as non-Western people typically think in terms of in-group vs. out-group, not in such fanciful abstractions as liberal and conservative.

As John L. Allen notes about the heart of Catholicism moving from the West to the Global South:

One way of sizing up the note’s significance, therefore, is as an indication that the demographic transition long under way in Catholicism, with the center of gravity shifting from north to south, is being felt in Rome. … [T]o dismiss all this as nothing more than the rogue perceptions of an isolated Vatican department ignores the demographic and cultural realities of the church in the 21st century. This is not the dying echo of warmed-over European socialism. For better or worse, it’s the first ripple of a southern wave.

In short, the overwhelming majority of Catholics will soon be from the Global South / Third World (mostly Africans and the Mestizo / Amerindian populations from Latin America), and the Third World Catholics will support such a measure simply because they see it benefitting them, not because of some higher abstract principle. Flooding the West with the Third World and reallocating resources from the West is in their interest.  As Westerners we need to ask, what’s in our interest?

As noted by Pat Buchanan in his new book, Russian diplomat Dmitry Rogozin commented a few years ago:

“There is an enormous distance between Europe and the Third World. There is a new civilization emerging in the Third World that thinks that the white, northern hemisphere has always oppressed it and must therefore fall at its feet now. This is very serious.”

“If the northern civilization wants to protect itself, it must be united: America, the European Union, and Russia. If they are not together, they will be defeated one by one.”

In short, the Global South sees its self as adversary to the West, and the Catholic Church (as it becomes non-Western) is clearly positioning itself in the anti-Western camp.

Van Jones Wants Pat Buchanan Fired from MSNBC

Judson Phillips has the story. (Tea Party Nation no longer requires registration to view their articles.) Jones’ group The Color of Change (but of course Pat is the racist) is circulating a petition to have Buchanan fired. Here is what I wrote in the comments.

One of the premises of Buchanan’s new book is that an America that is no longer majority white (approx. 2040 +/- I think) will no longer be America as we know it. This is self-evidently true. Conservatives (since conservatives want to conserve things, go figure) will think this a bad thing. Liberals of color and their self-loathing white liberal brethren will think this a good thing. But the ironic thing is that the very name “The Color of Change” (think about it) implies and celebrates this demographic transformation. So if you are a liberal you get to celebrate the demographic demise of the white man as a great thing, but if the white man protests his own dispossession he is guilty of a vile thought crime, something called white supremacy whatever that even means. So the only way not to be a white supremacist is to think it is grand to turn your country over to third world immigrants. Nice trick Van, but fewer and fewer people are falling for it.

Jeffrey Lord vs. Ron Paul Round 10,000

Jeffrey Lord just doesn’t know when to quit. He keeps coming back for more and keeps getting brutal intellectual beat downs.

You’ve got to hand it to Lord though. He’s persistent. He reminds me of a Jack Russell Terrier. He keeps going after intellectual Great Danes, and doesn’t seem to realize he is a 15 lb lap dog. Whether that is more a demonstration of courage or stupidity, I’ll leave for others to decide.

Anyway here is my reply: (For the record, I’m not elevating myself to the status of intellectual Great Dane. His posts always draw responses from the likes of Tom Woods and Kevin Gutzman. You really don’t want to get in an argument with Tom Woods about much of anything.)

Surprise, surprise! Jeffrey Lord is demonstrating his anti-Ron Paul obsession (and ignorance) once again. AmSpec must need page views.

First, personally I wish Ron Paul would not pass on earmarks (on budgets that he ALWAYS votes against, btw) because it gives ammo to the Jeffrey Lords of the world. (I wish Mr. Lord would let us know which Congressman he thinks embodies fiscal restraint in comparison to Paul so we could all get a good laugh.) But it should be noted that earmarks DO NOT increase total spending. They simply direct spending that is already budgeted.

Second, as I have already schooled Mr. Lord, non-intervention is the foreign policy that flows naturally from the authentic conservative mindset. From a philosophical standpoint this is not a debatable point. Modern style non-interventionism, based as it is on a belief that America has some supranormal duty to maintain world stability, is inherently radical. It is modern day Jacobinism. Mr. Lord’s simple-minded non-interventionism must be leftism because McGovern believed it dichotomous thinking is quite pathetic, and he ought to quit embarrassing himself by displaying his utter lack of nuance.

Third, while I don’t think it is good politics for someone who is trying to get GOP primary votes to go after talk radio without qualification, (although Levin’s anti-Ron Paul hysteria borders on unhinged and is even worse than Lord’s), it is obviously true that the modern “conservative” movement, of which talk radio is one manifestation, has done a pretty lousy job of conserving anything. This is why Ron Paul is so beloved by constitutionalists. He is THE ONLY consistent constitutionalist elected at the national level, and is one of only a few significant spokesmen for constitutionalism. Most consistent constitutionalists are associated with third parties or with groups that “respectable conservatives” like Mr. Lord undoubtedly label fringe. Who, I would like to know, does Mr. Lord think epitomizes conservatism?

Catholic Church Calls for One World Government

 

Steve Sailer recently reviewed Charles C. Mann’s 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, wherein the author argues that the roots of historical globalization lie in the Catholic Church’s involvement in Latin America.  While the Catholic Church has long had globalist ambitions, it’s become worse in recent decades, as noted by a friend who said, “The Catholic Church has become globalism on steroids.”   And it has, as evidenced by the Vatican’s recent call for a one-world government:

The Vatican called for the establishment of “a supranational authority” with worldwide scope and “universal jurisdiction” to guide economic policies and decisions.

Such an authority should start with the United Nations as its reference point but later become independent and be endowed with the power to see to it that developed countries were not allowed to wield “excessive power over the weaker countries”.

From the Vatican document:

In the same spirit of Pacem in Terris, Benedict XVI himself expressed the need to create a world political authority. This seems obvious if we consider the fact that the agenda of questions to be dealt with globally is becoming ever longer. Think, for example, of peace and security; disarmament and arms control; promotion and protection of fundamental human rights; management of the economy and development policies; management of the migratory flows and food security, and protection of the environment. In all these areas, the growing interdependence between States and regions of the world becomes more and more obvious as well as the need for answers that are not just sectorial and isolated, but systematic and integrated, rich in solidarity and subsidiarity and geared to the universal common good.

Apparently, regarding migratory flows, the Vatican doesn’t like that Western countries have begun to restrict  Third World immigration. In the Camp of the Saints, Jean Rapsail envisioned an anti-Western Catholic Church supporting the Third World invasion of the West.  Eerily, this has come to pass, with priests and bishops supporting mass immigration into the West and the Pope siding against Europeans and with Africans on the African invasion of Europe.

HT:  RD

Updates:

Michael Brendan Dougherty: “WHOOPS! Vatican Lets Slip Plans For One World Government

Daily Paul:  ”Vatican Calls for ‘Central World Bank’ to Be Set Up

Richard Spencer:  ”The Vatican Calls for Global Usury

Rod Dreher:  ”Actually, the Pope wants global government too

Rod Dreher:  ”A deeper meaning of the Vatican document

Is Islam a Religion?

I published this article at Sharper Iron recently. Despite the title, it is really more about the nature of Christianity than it is the nature of Islam, although the latter serves to initiate the discussion. My thoughts are bound to be controversial. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I do hope it makes you think.

http://sharperiron.org/article/islam-religion

I’m a long time veteran of the intra-conservative interventionism vs. non-interventionism debate. I was a non-interventionist before Ron Paul made non-interventionism cool. So I have seen all the recycled arguments over and over and over and over … I say this not so as to debate interventionism vs. non-interventionism here. That is not the purpose of this essay. I say it to provide background as to what brings up the real subject of this essay.

As a veteran of these debates I have seen all the arguments, but one that I have seen increasingly recently is the contention that Islam is not a religion. The idea being that Islam is not “just” a religion but is instead an all-encompassing political ideology that impacts government, law, education, social organization and convention, etc. of which religion is only a part. The more maximalist proponents of this theory will add that establishment of a world Caliphate, domination of those who refuse to go along, intolerance of other religions, etc. is an inherent part of Islam. This “Islam is not a religion” argument is often seen in conjunction with concerns about the imposition of Sharia law at home.

While seldom directly stated, the implication of this line of reasoning is that Islam cannot be treated as simply another religion deserving of tolerance but must be treated as an alien ideology that threatens the very American way of life. (As I will illustrate below, this is a curious line of reasoning. Essentially the argument is that Islam is dangerous because it is illiberal and thus requires an illiberal response.) This argument seems mostly to imply that Islam is a potential problem domestically within our shores, but given that the argument is usually made within the context of debates over foreign policy, it usually has unstated but implied foreign policy implications as well; namely that since Islam is inherently aggressive and bent on world domination, it must be met with an aggressive and forward military response.

Actually, I do believe that there is much truth to the contention that Islam is a broadly encompassing worldview, but the facts of that are not what are in contention here. The issue is whether Islam’s ideological breadth disqualifies it from being a religion. I have two problems with this line of reasoning, the first semantic and the second much more profound.

First, semantics. Islam is a religion by any reasonable definition. It deals with a divine being, the afterlife, norms of behavior in this life; it has a holy text, etc. Stating that Islam is not a religion is simply semantic game-playing—and to what end? What difference does it make whether we call Islam a religion or not when we’re asking whether we should invade Syria or institute a burqa ban at home? Clearly the point is to rhetorically strip Islam of its protected status as a religion so as to justify illiberal measures toward it whether at home or abroad. But this presumes the righteousness of liberalism to begin with which leads me to my second point.

I should clarify at this point that when I speak of liberalism I am not talking about Obama- or Hillary-style government regulation, social programs and wealth redistribution. I am speaking of liberalism in its original sense, that post-Enlightenment philosophy that enshrines the virtues of individualism, free-choice, religious tolerance, pluralism, non-establishment, etc. When I speak of illiberalism I mean, roughly, religious particularism whether Islamic or Christian.

So my second objection is philosophical, historical and theological. What the “Islam is not a religion” crowd is doing, whether they realize it or not (and most don’t), is imposing on the definition of religion a philosophical concept that is relatively novel (historically speaking) and that potentially binds theology beforehand. Per their reasoning, in order to be a religion a religion must embrace modernist liberalism. This would have been news to anyone—Christians included—who lived, say, more than 300 years ago, give or take. One commenter I was debating with said that Islam is not a religion because it doesn’t embrace separation of church and state. Really? Are we that historically myopic? Neither did the whole of Christendom until a couple of centuries ago.

By their definition of religion, the Judaism of the Old Testament was not a religion. Was not the Judaism of the Old Testament an all-encompassing system that mixed church and state, had religion-based laws, had a social order dictated by the religion, frowned on pluralism, etc.? The Catholic Church, especially before Vatican II, is not a religion by this definition. Arguably, and it would be hard to argue otherwise, the Protestantism of Luther and Calvin wasn’t a religion either. Was Calvin’s Geneva a bastion of modernist liberalism? The Puritans certainly were not. One would have to look back no further than the Radical Reformation to find widespread Christian denominations that would meet the exacting liberal standards of the “Islam is not a religion” proponents. (And even some of the products of the Radical Reformation, such as the Mennonites, were quite illiberal in many ways internally.)

I hope you see the problem here. I would argue that liberalism is a modern philosophical concept that most modern Christians have read into the pages of the Bible (addressing this idea fully would require a separate essay). I do not think this liberalism is a theological concept that flows from a natural reading of Scripture. The Bible insinuates, if it doesn’t outright dictate, Christian particularism. Christianity should be the broadly encompassing worldview that Islam is accused of being (in type, not in detail of course) and it represents a failure of the modern Church that it is not.

A small but vocal group of Christians are coming around on this. There has been renewed debate in recent years, especially among Reformed believers, between “Two Kingdoms” advocates and those who reject the Two Kingdoms approach. The latter often refer to their opponents as “Radical Two Kingdoms” (R2K for short), although I have never been able to figure out myself what distinguishes Radical Two Kingdoms from plain ol’ Two Kingdoms since all Two Kingdoms advocates are generally referred to by their opponents with the Radical adjective.

This coming around is also occurring in a softer way among many evangelicals, whether they realize it or not, in their embrace of the concept of “Christian worldview” thinking. And the anti-Christian and secularist left has seized upon the rising menace to modernist liberalism that they see in Christian “Dominionism,” a theological term they don’t understand and almost always use incorrectly. (This too is a subject for another essay.)

This idea that Islam is incompatible with America and the West (what used to be called Christendom) because it is illiberal, implies that what truly distinguishes the West from the rest is its liberalism not its Christianity. This may be true and would go a long way toward explaining the sorry state of modern Christianity, but it is to be bemoaned if it is, not celebrated.

I believe modern Christianity is in desperate need of more illiberalism and more adherents who are willing to take it seriously enough that it becomes the broadly encompassing worldview for them that Islam is accused of being for Muslims. Likewise, the problem with Islam is not that it is illiberal. It will not be fixed by embracing liberalism. The problem with Islam is that it is false. It is not Christianity. The hope is not that Muslims will reject their illiberalism and assimilate to become good little liberal Westerners; it is that they will accept Christ. (Again to be clear, when I speak here of illiberalism I do not primarily mean fundamentalism vis-a-vis theological liberalism. I mean Christian particularism vis-a-vis pluralism.)

The implications of my argument are broad, and I plan to flesh them out, God willing, in future essays.

The super alpha Vladimir Putin

Regarding our recent discussions on Putin, Roissy writes:

It’s not often we get a photo with two super alphas — representing different male factions — squaring off in friendly admiration rather than combative distrust. But here we have it with Putin and the leader of a Russian motorcycle gang whose name is too long for me to bother spelling out, swapping war stories.

Strictly speaking, and in broad terms, Putin is undoubtedly the bigger alpha here. Putin ostensibly runs a country; Alexander the Biker runs a bike gang.

But alpha is often context dependent. Should he so choose, Putin has the fame and power and mystique to clean up with the ladies pretty much wherever he goes, but there are probably some biker bars where Alex is king of the hill and the girls will encircle him as aggressively or moreso than they will Putin. In the cramped quarters of a bar or street gathering, away from the media and cameras, these two men will be judged on more immediate male attractiveness criteria than their ability to pull off power moves in the Politburo.

With that in mind, this moment in time caught in a photo offers a rare glimpse of two fairly equal alphas in a pose-off. Putin, the shorter one, has a clear physical disadvantage in size that deflates some of his alpha allure. But Putin’s solid alpha body language — his ramrod posture, devious grin and straightforward gaze that avoids a betafying crane of the neck upward at the taller Alex — neutralizes his lesser stature.

 

 

Bill Still: Libertarian for President

This site is generally not libertarian, although we tend to be very friendly to Ron Paul, and we don’t necessarily follow Libertarian Party politics closely, but I decided to post this announcement by Bill Still because it highlights an important historical divide on the issue of money that many people may not be familiar with, but that seems to be arising again lately. Still’s candidacy is likely to bring it even more to the forefront.

Bill Still is a prominent “Greenbacker.” Some people in that camp consider the term derogatory. Some embrace it. It is not my intention to be derogatory. We just need to call them something and Greenbacker works and has a historical context. If they would like to suggest another term, I’ll be glad to use it.

Still and other Greenbackers, like Austrian “Gold Bugs,” oppose the Federal Reserve and fractional reserve banking. Like Austrians they will often speak of money “created out of thin air.” Thus some do not recognize the distinction between the two. Their solutions are, however, very different. Greenbackers do not like the gold standard. They see the gold standard and the current system of fractional reserve/Federal Reserve “debt money” as both benefiting the powerful elite, especially bankers, at the expense of the people. What they would like is true “fiat money” issued by the Treasury, instead of “debt money” created by the Fed and banks through fractional reserve lending (often also called fiat money by Austrians). Some will recognize the historic connection to the populist movement of the late 19th century and the Greenback Party of that era.

Still is a prominent and notable Greenbacker because he is responsible for two widely viewed documentaries on the history of money and banking, The Money Masters (1996) and The Secret of Oz (2010). He has also written a book, No More National Debt, on the subject.

What remains to be seen is how well this will play in the Libertarian Party. It is likely to have some market, but that market is likely limited. First, Greenbackers suggest that printing money is a proper function of government so this will turn off the anarchists who don’t concede there is any proper function of government right off the bat. Also, some Greenbackers speak of spending this fiat money into the economy when expansion of the monetary supply is necessary in the form of public works and infrastructure projects. This will offend a broad swath of libertarians. Some Greenbackers even oppose private banking altogether. This too is hardly a libertarian policy.

On the other hand, Still might appeal to certain leftist libertarians. And Greenbackism is subversive enough (it really amounts to a big huge screw you to the bankers) that it may appeal to the contrarian element of some libertarians. May hunch is that if Still is to win he will have to bring large numbers of his people to the convention which is not inconceivable but no easy task either.

There has already been a vigorous discussion about Still’s candidacy at Independent Political Report, but unfortunately it primarily turned into a discussion of the merits of fractional reserve banking from an Austrian perspective, instead of a discussion of the merits of Greenbackism. I would like our readers thoughts on the money issue. Please post them below.

Addendum: I actually think Still and Greenbackism could have some appeal among the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Historically Greenbackers were associated with the left (to the degree left and right apply to pre-WWII politics which is arguably not much) and the populist impulse. But they became increasingly associated with the right since WWII give or take. Still could emphasize the “private” nature of the Fed, how the current system enriches bankers, the need to nationalize the money creating process, the need to “spend” said money into the economy, etc. and resonate quite well with some of the OWS crowd. Establishment leftists will of course be horrified by Still because of the fundamental nature of his critique, but many of the OWS protestors who at this point have nothing to lose, might welcome a fundamental and wholesale critique.