Jason Gonella: An Open Letter to Gary Johnson

Posted to Mr. Gonella’s blog here

Although there are those who thought it would be a bad idea , you did go ahead and switch to the Libertarian Party in an effort to continue your presidential campaign. Now that you have gone ahead and moved in to the Libertarian Party race, hopefully you will run a better campaign than you have been running so far.

There are a few problems you will have to overcome. After the 2008 campaign there are a number of active libertarians who are burned out on the “endorse someone famous” tactic, sacrificing someone who could effectively represent libertarian ideas to their fullest. The ticket of Bob Barr and Wayne Root was a mistake that the party is still trying to live down, and even though you are better than either of them you are still campaigning in their shadow.

If you want to be an effective Libertarian Party candidate, you will have to come out of their shadow and prove that you are fully libertarian, much more so than those nominated the last time the Libertarian Party sacrificed purity for electoral gain.

And that means you will have to rethink a few of your associations within the Libertarian Party. Being seen as close to Wayne Root, who is almost bragging about how he is the one who brought you over, will never get you out of the shadow of the 2008 ticket. Those who seem the most pleased by your Libertarian Party candidacy are what people in the Libertarian Party call the “Reform Caucus.” They are the ones responsible for the 2008 ticket that you have to run against.

The first and foremost way to come out of the shadow of the 2008 ticket is to take the purist libertarian position on foreign policy, as that is what divides the Libertarian Party the most strongly. Wayne Root campaigned actively in 2008 about how he was the pro-war candidate until he discovered that was a losing strategy.

You currently advocate returning all United States troops and that is a good position. But you also support entangling alliances. Neither side of any conflict should have any expectation of United States support. You need to become a purist on this issue. It will alienate many of those who currently are your most ardent supporters but it is necessary if your campaign is to not be a repeat of the 2008 disaster .

The other area where you could improve is in economics. It would be refreshing, in an ironic sort of way, if the Libertarian Party were to have a candidate strong on both civil policy and foreign policy yet weak on economics, but the standard bearer should be as good as possible on all three. Your position on the Federal Reserve and the Fair Tax are not positions embraced by libertarians in general.

Perhaps you could be forgiven your economic short-comings, but you need to embrace a hard-core foreign policy on your campaign if you wish to do so. You were a great example of what a Republican could be when you ran, but as a Libertarian there is room for needed improvements. Your current associates will not appreciate those improvements either. So you need to ask what is more important – your race or the party you are running in?

 

Jason Gonella is a long-time Libertarian currently living in Lake Los Angeles, CA.  In June, 2010, he was elected to the city council in that town.

110 thoughts on “Jason Gonella: An Open Letter to Gary Johnson

  1. ATBAFT

    I think Gary should approach Lee Wrights about being his veep right now.
    The “purists” will always bitch about the candidate, whether it was MacBride, Clark,
    Marrou, etc. Maybe Bergland was the most “pure” in the early days and his vote results
    were disappointing considering Clark’s four years earlier and the big growth in the Party from 1980 to 1984.

  2. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    I invited Gary Johnson last month to read our blog. Perhaps he does, but I don’t believe he’s commented on anything yet.

  3. Less Antman

    Well said. I want to add one more item. Johnson is generally good on immigration, but still lists support of sanctions against employers who hire undocumented workers on his web site. This is a position neither radicals nor reformists support. Nor does either group support the “Fair Tax.” And the LP platform is quite explicit about opposition to military alliances. Free trade and non-intervention are the two pillars of a libertarian foreign policy: http://www.lp.org/issues/foreign-policy.

    Libertarianism is not just a bunch of desirable policy positions. It is a principle, and the only way to inspire people, especially young people, is with consistency and a willingness to challenge the status quo.

  4. Robert Capozzi

    jg: After the 2008 campaign there are a number of active libertarians who are burned out on the “endorse someone famous” tactic, sacrificing someone who could effectively represent libertarian ideas to their fullest.

    me: It may well be that “there are a number,” since, by my calculation, that could be 2. It could be that this 2 (or 2+) are “burned out,” but that seems irrelevant to me. If 2 Ls have allowed themselves to be burned out, that’s their issue, not the party’s, yes? If 2 Ls are burned out by one cycle, that seems to indicate that those 2 have little stamina. I have compassion for these 2, yet it seems odd to write an open letter to a candidate on behalf of 2+ people’s concerns.

    It’s important to note that Barr got in the race late, after RP did not bolt. You make it sound as if this desire to nominate “someone famous” is a longstanding, frequently repeated experiment that keeps failing. That implication is clearly false.

    If anything, the opposite is true. The LP generally nominates UNfamous people for prez. Perhaps THAT’s the burn out you speak of, perhaps unconsciously.

    Of course, I don’t think GJ is “famous.” He does have a reasonably strong political resume, extremely strong by LP standards.

    jg: Those who seem the most pleased by your Libertarian Party candidacy are what people in the Libertarian Party call the “Reform Caucus.” They are the ones responsible for the 2008 ticket that you have to run against.

    me: Perhaps due to their being burned out, the 2 or 2+ may well ascribe responsibility for the BB/WR ticket to the Reform Caucus, so I guess we can chalk that falsehood up to exhaustion leading to wrong-minded perception. The Reform Caucus didn’t support candidates; it sought to fix the platform and nix the pledge, with mixed results. To my knowledge, no one in the Reform Caucus leadership even endorsed or worked for Barr’s nomination. JG’s revisionism is simply not true.

    jg: The first and foremost way to come out of the shadow of the 2008 ticket is to take the purist libertarian position on foreign policy, as that is what divides the Libertarian Party the most strongly.

    me: It sounds as if you are confusing Barr with Root here. The critiques of Barr were much less about f.p. and much more about his legacy views on DOMA and the War on Drugs.

    But, more oddly, your sentence acknowledges a “division,” but then you claim that if GJ becomes a “purist,” he’ll someone win the hearts and minds of the LP’s rank and file. Perhaps he’ll win over the 2+ who’ve burned out over a non-existent syndrome?

    Yet another opportunity to check one’s premises, I’d say…

  5. Robert Capozzi

    4 jp: I invited Gary Johnson last month to read our blog. Perhaps he does, but I don’t believe he’s commented on anything yet.

    me: Read, sure. Comment, no. The candidate should leave such things to others. Mud wrestling can be exhausting.

    5 la: …the only way to inspire people, especially young people, is with consistency and a willingness to challenge the status quo.

    me: Red flag on “only.” I’d say Obama was quite inspirational, and he did none of those things.

    I’d say GJ is challenging the status quo BIG time. He’s as edgy as a candidate can get without being entirely dismissed as a crackpot.

  6. Chuck Moulton

    Great letter!

    I hope someone can educate Johnson about the Fair Tax long before the national convention. Johnson gave me a call Wednesday to ask for my support as a delegate (I assume he is working his way down the list of all potential delegates). I talked with him about problems with the Fair Tax for 10 minutes before I needed to leave to teach a class.

    A few hours later I wrote up an email to Johnson about problems with the Fair Tax. However, he doesn’t publicly post a direct email address and when I tried calling back his phone he didn’t return my voicemail (not returning phone calls is bad retail politics), so it’s still sitting in my draft folder. I might post this as an open letter if he doesn’t get back to me in the next couple days.

    The one thing I have to take issue with about Gonella’s letter is his portrayal of non-interventionism as a purist, radical libertarian position. The fact is non-intervention is a moderate, compromise position for libertarians which meets halfway between the unilateral total disarmament position advocated by Hummel to the platform committee in the early 1980’s and more hawkish foreign policy advocated by some others.

  7. Less Antman

    A Gary Johnson who called for a foreign policy of free trade and non-intervention, didn’t propose a new tax scheme filled with unfairness, and welcomed rather than sanctioned people who came here to work, would not be viewed as a crackpot.

    Robert Cialdini’s book INFLUENCE is considered the classic in the field. Consistency is one of the strongest motivations to inspire people. I’d rather not quibble over the word only, but an LP candidate is different from an R or D, because the people who vote for us know they are not voting for the 2012 victor: they must believe they are voting to send a message, and inconsistent messages don’t inspire. I would agree that a libertarian running in a winnable race is more likely to get votes without consistency, but it is not a viable strategy for a presidential candidate in 2012. We aren’t going to win the presidency until 2016. ;)

  8. Robert Capozzi

    9 cm: The fact is non-intervention is a moderate, compromise position for libertarians which meets halfway between the unilateral total disarmament position advocated by Hummel to the platform committee in the early 1980?s and more hawkish foreign policy advocated by some others.

    me: I agree it is a fact that a compromise position is “moderate” in that context. However, a compromise between 2 far outside the mainstream positions is still far outside the mainstream, yes? The compromise could still be a “radical” compromise.

    Similarly, the LP SoP could be viewed as a “compromise” between Randians and Rothbardians. Both are still way outside the mainstream.

    I’m a dove myself, but unwinding the Leviathan is not a matter of waving a magic wand. I’m comfortable with GJ’s f.p., although I might tweak his messaging to aspire to a world without entangling alliances.

    Heck, even MNR himself reluctantly accepted the idea of having transitional programs.

  9. Robert Capozzi

    10 la, I’ve not read Cialdini but the idea makes sense to me.

    I’d say GJ IS consistent. He’s for increasing liberty across the board.

    Some might say that the ONLY “consistent” position is unilateral disarmament. I’d call that foolish consistency.

  10. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Chuck @ 9: I’d be happy to post that letter if you’d like. Send it to me at stone@altrionet.com.

    Mr. Johnson is scheduled for a debate tomorrow in Florida, so he might possibly have been travelling the last few days.

  11. Gene Berkman

    As a disclaimer, I oppose the “Fair Tax” and hope Gary Johnson drops it. Now to the real point.

    Libertarians saying it is a mistake to nominate “someone famous” clearly do not understand how politics works. The only hope for getting any media attention for libertarian ideas in the political process is to nominate someone who has some standing in the community or some record of achievement.

    Among LP candidates for President in the past, only Ron Paul in 1988 even approached that standard, and Gary Johnson still is not that famous. But other past nominees have been so obscure that journalists naturally treated them as curiosities of the campaign, rather than actual candidates.

    It is not clear if Gary Johnson is “famous” enough to be taken more seriously, but the verdict is in on all the other total unknowns seeking the LP nomination.

    Libertarians who think it is a mistake to nominate someone “famous” remind me of something I saw on tv news in Austin in 1982.
    There was an increase in marijuana growing in the region around Austin, so police warned realtors that if someone wanted to buy property, and “had a lot of money” they should report them to the police.

    Clearly, if someone wants to buy property, it takes alot of money. No realtor in his right mind seeks customers who want to buy property, but don’t have money.

    It makes no sense to hold it against a potential candidate the fact that someone may have heard of them.

  12. Robert Capozzi

    14 gb: Among LP candidates for President in the past, only Ron Paul in 1988 even approached that standard, and Gary Johnson still is not that famous.

    me: I agree with most of what you say, but not so much on this point. My ranking of public profile’d go like this:

    Bob Barr
    Gary Johnson
    Ron Paul (in 1988)

    Barr by far, given that he was in the leadership for several years. He’d be like a Mike Pence or a Paul Ryan or a Steny Hoyer or a Henry Waxman.

    GJ got a bit of coverage in this cycle. Prior to 2011, I’d say few knew GJ outside of NM and L circles.

    Very close to him would be RP in 1988, as he was a backbencher in the late 70s, early 80s, known in L circles only and in TX.

    The DC press corps will know who GJ is. He’ll get airtime. A no-namer might get a tiny fraction of GJ airtime, somewhere between Vermin Supreme, the Naked Cowboy and Jimmy McMillan.

  13. Brian Holtz

    Those who seem the most pleased by your Libertarian Party candidacy are what people in the Libertarian Party call the “Reform Caucus.” They are the ones responsible for the 2008 ticket that you have to run against.

    Uninformed. As Bob pointed out, the Reform Caucus was all about reforming the LP’s foundational documents, and scrupulously avoided endorsing candidates.

    foreign policy [...] is what divides the Libertarian Party the most strongly

    In the last couple years I’ve seen more debate among Libertarians about purity vs. pragmatism, outreach to Right vs. Left, anarchism, and tax policy than about foreign policy. And on PlatCom this cycle, there has been zero disputes about foreign policy, but plenty of debate about e.g. abortion.

    [opposing all alliances] will alienate many of those who currently are your most ardent supporters

    Totally disagree. Wayne Root is not at all representative of the modal LP delegate in this area.

    Re: economics, as I’ve said since GJ announced, the Fair Tax is the only speedbump between him and the nomination. His level of support for a Fair Tax should be no more than Bob Barr’s was in 2008.

    Jason’s earlier “Don’t Do It Gary” article said: Governor Johnson’s views on war are reported to be not as pure as those of Representative Paul’s views. It is true that Governor Johnson initially supported the war in Afghanistan, but does not currently do so.

    Does Jason not know that Ron Paul voted to authorize the U.S. attack on the Taliban?

  14. paulie

    I think Gary should approach Lee Wrights about being his veep right now.

    I’m betting against that happening, even if the mysterious zillionaire VP rumors are false. It’s conceivable Wrights could end up being the VP candidate, but probably not with Johnson’s help, and even if Johnson gets on board with that it’s extremely unlikely to happen before Wrights is eliminated in actual convention balloting.

    The “purists” will always bitch about the candidate, whether it was MacBride, Clark,
    Marrou, etc.

    In retrospect I am pretty happy with most of the past candidates, relatively speaking.

    I’m no fan of what Hospers was saying/writing in recent years, but I don’t know if he sounded the same kinds of pro-war themes as an LP candidate. I know little about MacBride’s campaign themes. many years after the campaign I read a lot of vitriol about Clark by Rothbard and friends; then I read Clark’s campaign book and was pleasantly surprised. Bergland literally helped put me to sleep when his infomercials came on the air late at night when he ran for president (usually back to back with LaRouche’s), but 8-10 years later his book Libertarianism in One Lesson helped me move from liberaltarian to libertarian, and from “LP as the least of four evils” voter to party member.

    I remember Ron Paul when he ran LP (the Mort Downey show sticks in my mind). He sounded good on the issues I cared most about at the time, such as the drug war, and did not shy away from them. I wasn’t on board with LP economic positions at that time though. By ’92 I was wavering about that, tending a lot more Libertarian. Marrou was the first LP presidential candidate I voted for, along with some other LP candidates that same year. I remember hearing him on NPR and he sounded libertarian down the line. I wasn’t a consistent or extreme libertarian at that time though; I still supported a minimum wage law, for example.

    I don’t see much of a problem with anything Harry Browne said during his campaigns, certainly not by the standards of today’s LP. I supported him for the nomination both times. It wasn’t until towards the end of his second run that I became more extreme than the mainstream/leadership of the LP, although I did back Kubby for VP in 2000. In 2004 I backed Russo for the nomination and Badnarik’s constitutionalism didn’t really excite me at that time, nor was I impressed by his coming from a distant third and getting to the convention on fumes without much of a resume. However, in retrospect he ran a pretty good campaign, especially given what he started out with in Atlanta. That’s his presidential campaign; the congressional campaign two years later is a different story.

    Bob Barr was not really a disappointment, as my expectations were low and I did not back him on any ballot. His campaign was more boring and uneventful than disastrous though, other than the way the Ron Paul/Campaign for Liberty kickoff was handled. For the most part it was a non-event. Very few non-LP members at the time or since then have had anything at all to say about it to me one way or the other. The worst thing about it was that going into that cycle I felt a lot of untapped libertarian electricity among a noticeable minority of the general public, starting even before Ron Paul’s campaign started taking off, and especially after. The LP failed to capitalize on that, but it did not significantly split in two or crash and burn. It almost did, but then it didn’t. Most people in the LP – at least my side of the LP – as well as people in the general public that I talked to reacted to his LP run with a shrug. When people grasp for the name of a candidate they associate with the LP usually it’s Ron Paul. In fact I don’t have solid statistics, but as many or more people in the general public I have talked to think we ran Nader as think we ran Barr. Of the ones that accurately remember any past LP presidential candidates, I’ve run into fewer people in the last four years that mention they remember Barr was the LP candidate than remember that Badnarik, Browne, Paul and Clark were LP candidates. The few that remember him are mostly Ron Paul supporters and/or ex-LP members who dislike him, but even they rarely bring him up in any way, good or bad.

    Jeez, that was way longer than I meant it to be….

  15. paulie

    Read, sure. Comment, no. The candidate should leave such things to others. Mud wrestling can be exhausting.

    Agreed.

    I’m sure he has heard many of the concerns we voice here if he is lurking here and places like this and/or calling delegates. he has probably heard many of the same thoughts from state convention attendees, other candidates in, before and after debates, etc.

    I don’t know if his delegate list has my number. It’s 415-690-6352.

  16. paulie

    Red flag on “only.” I’d say Obama was quite inspirational, and he did none of those things.

    Obama’s inspiration had a lot to do with his perceived willingness to challenge the status quo.

    Consistency, not as much, but it’s much more important in a non-duopoly candidate.

  17. paulie

    John

    My vote goes to Lee Wrights.

    If you explain why, you may convince someone.

    An endorsement without a last name (much less one that people recognize) and without elucidation of reasons for support is probably not going to help your preferred candidate.

  18. paulie

    A Gary Johnson who called for a foreign policy of free trade and non-intervention, didn’t propose a new tax scheme filled with unfairness, and welcomed rather than sanctioned people who came here to work, would not be viewed as a crackpot.

    I completely agree.

  19. paulie

    Mr. Johnson is scheduled for a debate tomorrow in Florida, so he might possibly have been travelling the last few days.

    I posted an article that says he is going around to different events in Florida this week.

  20. paulie

    Libertarians who think it is a mistake to nominate someone “famous”

    I doubt any libertarians actually prefer an obscure candidate, at least not consciously.

    Some libertarians, however, prefer an obscure candidate that they consider libertarian enough to a better known one that they consider not to be. In fact I would say virtually all libertarians do, although where they draw the line and how much emphasis they place on either side of the scale differs.

  21. paulie

    My ranking of public profile’d go like this:

    Bob Barr
    Gary Johnson
    Ron Paul (in 1988)

    Barr’s public profile had considerably faded by 2008, which may have been a good thing for the LP in that more people did not end up associating us with stands Barr is best known for from his time as a Republican. Ron Paul was likewise still obscure to the overwhelmingly vast majority of people who were not LP members, political junkies, his medical patients or his congressional constituents from his previous stint in Congress. Johnson’s lack of support as a Republican candidate last year indicates that a near-decade out of public life has mostly quelled whatever limited waves in the public mind he made as Governor. I’d say it’s still higher than Barr’s was by 2008, and more associated with libertarian issue positions. It’s also probably higher than Ron Paul’s was back in 1988.

  22. Richard Winger

    This is a very interesting and good discussion. The Green Party will also be facing the question of nominating a celebrity or not, when that party gets down to deciding between Dr. Jill Stein and Roseanne Barr. I don’t mean to slight others who are running for the Green Party nomination, but to me the Green Party race seems like a two-woman race.

  23. Ayn R. Key

    BH @ 16

    “Uninformed. As Bob pointed out, the Reform Caucus was all about reforming the LP’s foundational documents, and scrupulously avoided endorsing candidates.”

    Just because the caucus avoided any official position doesn’t mean that the members didn’t generally agree on which candidates they preferred over others.

    For instance, the Libertarian Party takes no position on the Republican race, but all libertarians generally hope Paul wins it.

  24. paulie

    I don’t mean to slight others who are running for the Green Party nomination, but to me the Green Party race seems like a two-woman race.

    Agreed.

    However, I think Rocky Anderson could be a contender if he jumped to them for ballot access reasons.

    So far I haven’t seen/heard much of a Justice Party ballot access effort.

  25. Robert Capozzi

    27 ark, true enough. But we had no mechanism to count noses. I would not be surprised if Reformers didn’t vote for Ruwart on the first ballot, for ex., but there’s no way to know whether they did or not.

    Holtz, who if I recall correctly didn’t join the Caucus until late-ish, voted for Phillies. I didn’t go, but I thought Barr was the best choice. Milsted quit. Some early days Reformers went off to work for Paul. Some non-leadership Reformers were Root supporters.

    Fitting people into neat little (pejorative) caricatures may work for you, but I suggest you can leave your self-imposed Plato’s Cave any time you care to….

  26. Robert Capozzi

    27 ark: all libertarians generally hope Paul wins it.

    me: All…generally? Absolutist habits die hard, I guess… ;-)

  27. Jose C.

    @ 31,

    I agree. There are some (myself, George Phillies, and others) who do not generally hope Ron Paul “wins it.” We could care less.

  28. George Phillies

    I’m continuing to cheer for Angel-O’Donnell, unless Keyes-Duke is available. Mind you, Santorum/Gingrich might be adequate.

    But @31 is correct. I am not a Paul supporter, except in the sense he might be effective at blowing his party apart.

    Election laws give us a two-party system, and uniting the Republicans with the classical Whigs and the Federalists is a positive step for our party.

  29. Brian Holtz

    @27, I’m curious what evidence you think you have for your claim that members of the Reform Caucus were “responsible for the 2008 ticket”. Of the dozen people named on the reformthelp.org officers page in 2008, I see only 4 names that even showed up in Denver. Of those 4, I know that two of them (Moulton and me) voted against Barr on every ballot except perhaps the last. I don’t know how Aitken and Roland voted, but if they were Barr supporters they kept that secret well.

    Maybe I should just stop fighting the myth of how the Reform Caucus controlled the results of the 2006 and 2008 conventions. The myth would make a much better story to tell my grandchildren than the actual truth.

  30. Less Antman

    Gonella isn’t calling for Johnson to adopt unilateral disarmament nor expressing the desire to have our candidate be obscure as possible. He (and many others, including some who have already announced their support for Johnson) wants to be sure that the candidate we nominate doesn’t spend significant time contradicting the LP platform on foreign policy, taxation, and central banking. In fact, Johnson has made strategic military alliances and the “fair tax” key parts of his message SINCE joining the LP. That needs to stop.

    Brian Holtz is right, though: the libertarian foreign policy of free trade, non-intervention, and what might be termed “armed neutrality” is pretty settled at the moment and quite clear in the LP platform. Neither radicals for reformists support the Fair Tax. We actually have the potential to come out of the 2012 convention more united than we’ve been in many, many years. And Gonella’s Open Letter to Gary Johnson is pointing the way to that unity.

    I will be voting for Lee Wrights in Las Vegas, because I believe he best understands the centrality of foreign policy to the libertarian message. But if my choice doesn’t win, I want a candidate who has the united support of the LP and an appeal to disappointed Ron Paul supporters when Paul doesn’t get the Republican nomination.

    P.S. Yes, if my choice wins, I would still like the LP united. ;)

  31. ad hoc

    Brian, Robert and Jason;

    i don’t think you guy are talking about “Reform Caucus” in the same sense.

    Brian and Robert as Reform Caucus officers at the time are talking about official stances of the caucus and its officers.

    Jason is talking about something like “The side of the LP more apt to support candidates such as Barr and Root than to support candidates such as Ruwart and Kubby for the nomination” … a larger and more nebulously defined group of people. One way to put it might be “those in general agreement with the direction the Reform Caucus took the party in.” Even that may be too specific though. Maybe “right leaning and/or relatively moderate Libertarians.”

  32. Brian Holtz

    I’m not just talking about the Reform Caucus as a set of officers and official stances. I’m talking about the Reform Caucus as a caucus n. a group seeking to represent a specific interest or influence a particular area of policy.

    If Jason’s claim were merely that “The side of the LP more apt to support candidates such as Barr and Root” was “responsible for the 2008 ticket”, then that is a tautology.

    It’s likely that people who had been affiliated with the Reform Caucus in 2006 were more likely to support Root or Barr over Ruwart in 2008. But saying that the Reform Caucus was “responsible for the 2008 ticket” is like saying that the Radical Caucus missed nominating Ruwart by only a 24-delegate swing. The actual fact is that the organizations in question — or at least the Reform Caucus — had essentially nothing to do with the presidential nomination.

  33. just saying

    @15, Bob Barr was never in “the leadership” of the GOP caucus in Congress. His highest formal position was Vice-Chairman of the Government Reform Committee.

    Barr led an informal intraparty caucus against early versions of the PATRIOT Act put out by the Clinton Administration.

    Barr had cut his own high public profile as a reformer and critic of Clinton corruption and executive power; but he was never a Whip or Policy Caucus chair or anything in the leadership like Ryan, Hoyer, Waxman, or Pence.

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  35. Robert Capozzi

    36 ah: Maybe “right leaning and/or relatively moderate Libertarians.”

    me: As a radical moderate myself, using the term Reform Caucus to describe a subset of the LP incorrectly is poor myth making. As our friends in Auburn like to remind us, Lincoln didn’t set out to free the slaves…it’s a myth. Subscribing to false myths lead away from truth.

    Since the truth shall set you free, let’s move toward it. So, if there are only 2 camps, I’d say one is “NAP educationists.” The other might be “liberty advocates.”

    I submit that’s closer to the truth. Feedback welcome.

    38 js, thanks. My point was that Barr was someone one saw on the Sunday morning talking heads shows now and then. I wasn’t paying much attention to politics in the 90s, and I recalled him when he came into the L orbit in 06. I think he was tight with Newt back then, a consigliere.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    35 LA, while I’d like to see GJ walk back his FAIR Tax position, tell us why it’s contra LP platform. I just read 2.4 and it seems to line up.

    I also just read 3.1 and I see no specific requirement that a L must advocate an immediate end to all alliances. The word “avoid” is used.

    You say: “I will be voting for Lee Wrights in Las Vegas, because I believe he best understands the centrality of foreign policy to the libertarian message.”

    I do recall MNR making this centrality claim. And, yet, f.p. is last in the platform.

    While I am a dove, I’d say that at the moment, the anti-war, pro-peace message is losing a lot of its traction. Iraq is essentially over, and BHO is saying at least that Afg. will be over soon, too.

    In politics, one needs to be able to pivot to address the issues of the day. Rolling the State back requires that one be able to speak about the major issues of the day, which are driven by the newsflow.

    Now, if there’s a hot war with Iran in a few months, I would agree that f.p. becomes central. At a deeper level, the cost of empire might be central to the cause of liberty, but I would suggest that the desire for peace, domestically and internationally, is THE most central issue of our time and all time.

  37. Bill Woolsey

    I was a long time reformer and supported Barr.

    When I found out that Barr was supporting Gingrich this time, I was very dissapointed and regret my support. (On the other hand, none of the other LP candidates were tolerable in 2008.)

    This time, Johnson is the only acceptable candidate. I have no interest in any involvement with an LP that nominates any of the others. I’ll just wait.

    I have never supported the Fair tax. I support choice of a low, flat tax. But I also think it is better politically to leave it open a bit allowing for future determination (by our Libertarian administration) including the option of a low national sales tax. I really don’t like the prebate idea.

    I am not sure to what degree the LP could get the Fair tax activists on board for a 2008 campaign, but those starry eyed activists would be helpful. And so, I am willing to swallow my criticisms of the Fair Tax.

    I strongly oppose the “no alliance ever” foreign policy approach. On the other hand, I support an approach of, “fewer alliances than now” and “adding new alliances only when necessary.”

    I think a careful study of all alliances to determine if they currenty serve the national interest of the U.S., as well a high standard for future alliances would be the best approach.

    Given that our “ally” Israel has been talking about a preemptive war against Iran, the abtractions above are not enough today.

    Generally, I think an LP candidate should support negotiation with Iran. An LP candidate should oppose preemptive war in general and with Iran on the nuclear power/weapons issue in particular. An LP candidate should complete reject “nation building,” in general and with Iran in particular. That is the U.S. shouldn’t plan on occupying Iran and making it into a secular democracy or a pro-U.S. ally.

  38. Robert Capozzi

    42 bw, I’d say it’s quite easy to’ve supported Barr in 08 without regret today and yet to be disappointed with his support for NG in 12.

    That was then, this is now, after all.

    One can be disappointed that Barr backslid, especially given that on one of his weak points in 08 — DOMA — he seemed to see the light a year or two later.

    We supporters are simply not responsible for what Barr or any candidate does after we express our support. We’re simply exercising our best judgment at the time.

    If Barr becomes an axe murderer in three years, we’ll also be off the hook! ;-)

  39. Steven Wilson

    The concerns in the letter are valid, but I would not expect a response or solution in return. If Ron Paul doesn’t make it onto any ballot, those young voters will need a place to park.

    Johnson is best to wait and say nothing. Let the others hurt themselves.

  40. Bill Woolsey

    If the Republican doesn’t support the Fair tax in 2012, then an LP candidate that pushes it might be wise.

    Ideally, I would like a candidate to point out that the rates in the “official proposal” are too high. And also that the prebate idea is worrisome.

    Unfortunately, a position that some kind of national sales tax is better than what we have now, which is what is on Paul’issue page (and he calls it the Fair Tax) is probably not enough.

    Also, I think that form a narrowly political perspective, an LP candidate should more or less copy all of Paul’s campaign positions.

    Occassionally Paul sounds a bit like he has been reading Anti-war.com or LewRockwell.com on foreign policy. And then, he has to “clarify.” I think Paul’s clarified foreign policy positions would be better.

    On the other hand, I am not quite that narrowly focused, and on the whole, I prefer Johnson’s positions.

    Johnson is proposing very singificant change along on three legs of the libertarian table.

    He is proposing a 45% cut in military spending.

    He is proposing a 45% cut in domestic spending.

    He is generally very good on personal liberties. He certainly doesn’t come off as anything like a socially conservative Republican.

    Trying to claim that Johnson is too conservative or too Republican due to being too socially conservative or hawkish is absurd.

    Similarly, the deep cuts in domestic spending and a fair tax tax reform cannot be charaterized as “low tax liberal.”

    I think Cappozi is pretty much right when the issue is NAP educationists vs. Liberty advocates. A Johnson candidacy in my view would help the Libertarian brand. If Johnson were to run as a more or less single issue “fair taxer,” that would not be good. But that isn’t likely. He will be running on libertarian change on all three major fronts.

    By the way, if Iran decides to close the straits of Hormuz, or worse, thinks that a surprise attack on U.S. naval forces in the Persian gulf will deliver a knock out blow, then the LP is just screwed.

    If Israel does it preemptive strike and Hezbollah and Iran begin missle attacks on Israel, I want an LP candidate who say the U.S. should stay out of it. (Last I heard Johnson says he would do that.)

    If Iran attacks U.S. forces in retaliation for a preemptive attack by Israel, then I think calling for an official declaration of war and defeat for the Iranian military is the least bad option. Still, occupation and nation building should be explicity off the table.

    If the U.S. takes part in a preemptive attack, an LP presidential candidates needs to speak out against it. It was wrong (particularly if the story is that the iranian nuclear power industry will soon be able to build nuclear weapons.) The candidate should call for a ceasefire and negotiations. That an official declaration of war is necessary by the Constitution should be important. But also, insist that occupation and nationbuilding should be off the table.

  41. Chuck Moulton

    Chuck Moulton wrote (@9):

    [On Wednesday] I wrote up an email to Johnson about problems with the Fair Tax. However, he doesn’t publicly post a direct email address and when I tried calling back his phone he didn’t return my voicemail (not returning phone calls is bad retail politics), so it’s still sitting in my draft folder. I might post this as an open letter if he doesn’t get back to me in the next couple days.

    Okay, if Johnson hasn’t returned my call by this point, it’s safe to say he’s not interested in dealing with this directly.

    I’m looking for a place to publish my open letter to Gary Johnson (hoping it can eventually be re-posted on IPR). Call me at 215-768-6812 if you’re interested.

    I’d like to get this out there this weekend so that Johnson will have to address it when he has Jeffrey Miron (his economics adviser) on the video chat with him Monday.

    Jill Pyeatt wrote (@13):

    Chuck @ 9: I’d be happy to post that letter if you’d like. Send it to me at stone@altrionet.com.

    I’ll email Jill.

  42. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    I’ll be away from the computer all day, but I’ll be happy to post the letter this evening, Chuck.

  43. Chuck Moulton

    Darryl W. Perry wrote (@48):

    Chuck – I’ll post your open letter on FreePatriot-Press.com and if space is available, will publish it in the March newsletter
    Email me editor@freepatriot-press.com

    Darryl, everyone (including you) has permission to re-post my open letter in part or in its entirety with attribution. I’ll email you the same thing I emailed IPR.

  44. Melty

    Johnson’s “Israel is an important ally” talk is a dealbreaker for me.
    (Incidently, I was active in the Reform Caucus I did not vote for Barr either.)

  45. matt cholko

    @52 – I’ve heard similar talk from a couple of other L’s I know. To be honest, I had focused on Johnson’s support of the (un)FairTax as my primary disagreement with him. I’m starting to think that some of our other areas of disagreement are just as important.

  46. 24/7 the T-Rex of Talk Radio

    NOW is the time to air things out ! We need to come out of Vegas fairly UNIFIED with all guns pointed at Obama and keep firing together until Nov. 7 ! Johnson is the REAL DEAL for a POTUS candidate. You need to sway him NOW if you can, His acceptance speech will be his “battle plan” for this cycle ! After that will be TOO late so OPEN talks up NOW before the convention.

    You or I will NEVER agree with a candidate 100%. Above Seventy-Five percent should be acceptable for a two-term Gov. to lead the LP ticket. Take advantage of the campaign and “educate” the new people who come in locally toward that elusive 100%!

    Remember the Video Chat Monday night with Gov. Johnson and BE THERE !!!!!

    https://www.facebook.com/events/319170208124849/

    Gary “IRONMAN” Johnson 2012: Defense = http://www.youtube.com/user/govgaryjohnson?feature=BF#p/u/12/tJKCWa22fHY

  47. paulie

    perhaps Dr. Phillies might make an appearance and ask a pertinent question or two !?

    Might be interesting, LOL.

    Has anyone reading been saving the videos of these townhalls (or are they posted somewhere)? What about the chats, anyone saving transcripts of those?

  48. paulie

    Lincoln didn’t set out to free the slaves…

    Yes and no. Saving the union was a far higher priority for him, and he would have preserved slavery to do it if he had to, but I think he did want to free the slaves – and ship them to Africa, along with free blacks, if I remember what I have read correctly.

    So, if there are only 2 camps, I’d say one is “NAP educationists.” The other might be “liberty advocates.”

    I’d like to think both of those describe me. What do you think?

    Barr was someone one saw on the Sunday morning talking heads shows now and then. I wasn’t paying much attention to politics in the 90s, and I recalled him when he came into the L orbit in 06. I think he was tight with Newt back then, a consigliere.

    Sunday shows, yes, but that kind of “fame” fades fast. I don’t think he was ever very close to Newt. In fact I’d venture that Newt and those closest to him considered Barr to be an embarrassment. I don’t remember my sources on that anymore.

  49. paulie

    tell us why it’s contra LP platform. I just read 2.4 and it seems to line up.

    Start with 1.0

    f.p. is last in the platform.

    I wasn’t aware that the platform was arranged in order of importance. Is it?

    While I am a dove, I’d say that at the moment, the anti-war, pro-peace message is losing a lot of its traction. Iraq is essentially over, and BHO is saying at least that Afg. will be over soon, too.

    Don’t believe the hype. Iraq is not really over at all, and Afghanistan will only be “over” if and when the US admits defeat (or declares victory and leaves), which I don’t think will be soon. Afghanis have been killing each other in wars and exhausting foreign invaders for millenia. Don’t look for that to change any time soon. Look for more/expanded wars in that general part of the world before too long instead.

  50. Robert Capozzi

    57 p: I’d like to think both of those describe me. What do you think?

    me: Yes, P, I’d agree you have both a NAP educationist and a liberty advocate side. That’s probably VERY difficult to be, but since you are co-chair of the Rodney King Caucus, those two conflicting positions seem to co-exist in one skin suit. Peaceniks can pull off stuff that regular folks can’t! ;-)

    Note that by my estimation a “liberty advocate” can also believe in the NAP, even in a absolutist sense. And, really, when I say NAP, I mean NAP absolutist. For ex., I personally think non-aggression is a wonderful sentiment and is something I do practice in daily life. Using the NAP as a judgmental bludgeon, however, is what I mean by the “educationist” come-from.

    The NAP educationist mindset will come up with things like: How many drug-law prisoners did GJ pardon while guv? As a liberty advocate, I would have never even thought to ask that question. It has a certain zealous religiosity to it. See what I mean? I’m more than satisfied that GJ gets that the drug war is counter-productive…he gets a check in that box.

    The NAP (absolutist) educationist want to press the “education” to the absolute limit, possibly as a negotiating tactic. A liberty advocate, OTOH, wants to roll back the State as much as possible, and is far more interested in finding allies while not alienating them. That’s a tricky proposition, too…no doubt.

    57 p: In fact I’d venture that Newt and those closest to him considered Barr to be an embarrassment.

    me: Could be. However, I assume that they had Barr take the point on the Clinton impeachment suggests otherwise. That seemed like a very important slot, not one left to an “embarrassment.”

    58 p: I wasn’t aware that the platform was arranged in order of importance. Is it?

    me: Dunno. Antman used MNR’s term “the centrality of foreign policy.” I see no evidence that the platform or SoP suggest f.p. is “central.” Personally, I think international peace is very important, and I prefer to see the L candidates being for bringing troops home and stopping the US being policeman of the world. Ending all alliances tomorrow is, again, an example of zealous religiosity in my book. Ending them eventually seems the more practical and attractive position.

    58 p: Don’t believe the hype. Iraq is not really over at all…

    me: It’s not a matter of what I personally believe. At the moment, I don’t see the wars as being especially strong issues for Ls EXCEPT as partial explanations for the US’s economic woes. That the US still is fighting over there is a fact, but the issue doesn’t have the traction it did say 2 years ago, in my estimation.

  51. Melty

    Our warmaking is as big an issue as ever to my notion. It ought to be a front & center issue for the LP, right up there with sex & drugs.

  52. Robert Capozzi

    60 M: Our warmaking is as big an issue as ever to my notion.

    me: OK, why?

    Note that I’m under the impression that most voters will view railing against the war is railing against the LAST war. I suspect most view both as largely over.

    If I’m correct, then our candidate has to make the case that they are NOT over, they are something else, something perhaps obscure. If that assessment is correct, then we have candidates making obscure points.

    Why do that?

  53. Robert Capozzi

    62 ah, they shouldn’t. But the withdrawal has been announced. The issue is on a glide path, making it less of an issue prior to the announcement.

    Could that change? Yes, unfortunately.

  54. Robert Capozzi

    more…

    IOW, how is it inspiring and attractive to advocate a somewhat faster exit?

    It feels tinny to me…

  55. Ad Hoc

    Antman said “centrality of foreign policy to the libertarian message,” which is different from advocating a somewhat faster exit from one particular theater of operation.

    It relates to the next war(s) as well as the long standing presence of US troops in many different parts of the world, some of them due to past wars, some due to possible future wars, etc.

    And yes, it does contribute to bankrupting us and saddling us with debt, to many domestic social problems, to the militarization of our police forces, and much else besides.

  56. Brian Holtz

    LA @39: the centrality of foreign policy to the libertarian message

    Note that foreign policy isn’t mentioned at all in the LP Statement of Principles, and that the official purpose of the LP is “to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles”.

    Note also:

  57. Brian Holtz

    P@58: Don’t believe the hype. Iraq is not really over at all

    David Hickman, killed Nov. 14, is already being called the last U.S. combat death of the war.

  58. Ad Hoc

    Many (in fact most) people killed, maimed, made homeless and destitute, etc., as a result of war are not battlefield deaths, and your image @67 is not showing up (at least on this computer).

  59. Ad Hoc

    Ah, now it is.

    Does your chart count:

    Deaths of Iraqis?

    US Spending?

    Deaths of Americans from war related injuries after they are no longer in Iraq?

    Lifelong costs of treatment of war related injuries and diseases?

    Mercenaries employed by the US and its allies through private contractors?

  60. Ad Hoc

    ….Debt payments as a result of past war spending?

    ….Acts of terrorism that may be inspired by US actions over the last 22 years in Iraq?

  61. Brian Holtz

    @69 When did, say, WWII “end” under your ad hoc criteria?

    The WWII status quo ante of Aug 1939 — viz., a Poland whose independence is guaranteed by treaty — wasn’t restored until 1999. Germany didn’t finish paying WWI reparations (technically, interest on Weimar Republic debt issued to pay reparations) until 2010.

    “End all wars!”

    “Wars never end!”

    Pick a slogan, and stick to it.

  62. Ad Hoc

    From the fact that the costs of war and even war-related premature deaths go on long after the after the wars end, it does not follow that we shouldn’t work to end wars, or that we should not make it an important issue; quite the opposite.

    Your chart @71 provides a much lower estimate of civilian deaths than the estimates of civilian deaths I have seen elsewhere, but at least it counts them, unlike those you provide @ 66 and @67.

    Still, lots of unanswered questions @69-70.

  63. Robert Capozzi

    65 ah: It relates to the next war(s) as well as the long standing presence of US troops in many different parts of the world, some of them due to past wars, some due to possible future wars, etc.

    me: Do you have a problem taking “yes” as an answer? I’ve indicated I’m a dove. While I’m not sure what Rothbard and Antman mean exactly by their “centrality” notion, as a matter of policy direction, I’m for undoing the US’s world policeman status.

    In this particular cycle, the issue of the “hot” wars has subsided as a campaign issue. Campaigns need to talk about the issues of the day. L campaigns should reframe the issues of the day to setup the case for maximizing liberty and minimizing government.

    So, if GJ is the nominee, if he rails against the existing US war effort in Afg., he’ll sound off, I’d say. Instead, if he makes the case that we should learn from the past decade that US foreign interventionism has been far too expensive, that’s a pretty relevant message. I would say it has less traction than even it did just a year ago, though.

    “Centrality” implies some sort of ability to rank government dysfunction. With the wars being wound down, I’d say f.p. has fallen in terms of its relevance.

    Is my position clearer for you now?

  64. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    BH @ 71: Your chart showing civilian deaths is so wrong that I can’t trust the rest of the data. I realize the chart stopped in 2009, but I believe deaths of civilians were over a million even at that time.

  65. Brian Holtz

    Jill, you won’t find a graph of civilian deaths in Iraq with a different shape. Here’s another, from iraqbodycount.org:

    Ad Hoc: it does not follow that we shouldn’t work to end wars

    Strawman.

  66. Ad Hoc

    Do you have a problem taking “yes” as an answer?

    No :-)

    if he makes the case that we should learn from the past decade that US foreign interventionism has been far too expensive, that’s a pretty relevant message.

    Yep.

    Is my position clearer for you now?

    It was clear before that.

    Antman said
    I will be voting for Lee Wrights in Las Vegas, because I believe he best understands the centrality of foreign policy to the libertarian message.

    I think that someone who believes that a non-interventionist foreign policy position is their key libertarian issue would logically conclude that Wrights is the candidate they like best because he emphasizes that issue the most.

    Different libertarians have different issues that they consider most important, and these differences in emphasis cause them to support different candidates for the nomination, among other factors.

  67. Ad Hoc

    Strawman.

    How so? Your response to the list of questions at 69-70 was “End all wars!”

    “Wars never end!”

    Pick a slogan, and stick to it.

    I believe “From the fact that the costs of war and even war-related premature deaths go on long after the after the wars end, it does not follow that we shouldn’t work to end wars, or that we should not make it an important issue; quite the opposite” is an accurate response that addresses the point you appear to be trying to make by presenting that choice and by pointing out some of the lingering aftereffects of WW2.

  68. Robert Capozzi

    79 ah: Different libertarians have different issues that they consider most important, and these differences in emphasis cause them to support different candidates for the nomination, among other factors.

    me: Yes, agreed. This L — me — doesn’t have a “most important” issue. Rather, I’m flexible on the means to advance toward an “end.” If I thought emphasizing the all-important legalization of bestiality issue ;-) would advance liberty on an across-the-board basis, then I’d say that’d be a great focus for this year’s campaign.

    If I thought that ending the Afg. War by say Dec. was our best lead, I’d propose that as a focus.

    Actually, though, I think the best theme is to focus on how the 2-party system is a failure. I’d illustrate that failure on say 10 fronts where the Rs and Ds are utterly corrupt and beholden to the special interests vs. the general interest.

    Of the 10, maybe 2 would be f.p. issues, with 5 being economics and 3 civil liberties matters.

    4 years ago, it might have been more heavily f.p., perhaps 4 or 5 points.

    If the US is at war with Iran this fall, I’d have a new line-up.

    Antman (and Rothbard) has not convinced me of their “centrality” argument. In fact, I’ve not heard an actual argument from them, only a bald assertion.

  69. paulie

    The scale doesn’t make it immediately obvious, but I notice that the civilian death rate Brian presents @76 is nowhere near being down to pre-war levels (look at the very beginning of the graph near the bottom, before the 2003 spike).

    BTW, what are the increments for the charts @ 71 and 76 – weeks or months? It’s obvious they are not years. I’m guessing 71 is in months and 76 is in weeks but I could be wrong.

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War I notice that there are indeed several
    sources – Lancet and Opinion Research Business survey, primarily – that put deaths at a million or more. And this was well after Madeleine Albright
    acknowledged that US policies had killed a million or more Iraqis, half or more of those being children, a decade earlier and said it was “worth it.”

    Scrolling down at the wikipedia link:

    The IBC site states: “it should be noted that many deaths will probably go unreported or unrecorded by officials and media.”

    Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted August 12–19, 2007, estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War. The range given was 946,000 to 1,120,000 deaths. A nationally representative sample of approximately 2,000 Iraqi adults answered whether any members of their household (living under their roof) were killed due to the Iraq War. 22% of the respondents had lost one or more household members. ORB reported that “48% died from a gunshot wound, 20% from the impact of a car bomb, 9% from aerial bombardment, 6% as a result of an accident and 6% from another blast/ordnance.”

    The Lancet study’s figure of 654,965 excess deaths through the end of June 2006 is based on household survey data. The estimate is for all excess violent and nonviolent deaths. That also includes those due to increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poorer healthcare, etc. 601,027 deaths (range of 426,369 to 793,663 using a 566% confidence interval) were estimated to be due to violence. 31% of those were attributed to the Coalition, 24% to others, 46% unknown. The causes of violent deaths were gunshot (56%), car bomb (13%), other explosion/ordnance (14%), airstrike (13%), accident (2%), unknown (2%). A copy of a death certificate was available for a high proportion of the reported deaths (92% of those households asked to produce one).

    As for the war being over, pro-US mercenary contractors are still there in large numbers, there is still fighting among Iraqi factions, and so on. There are also still quite a few US troops there, although they are not classified as combat troops.

  70. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@73,

    “‘Centrality’ implies some sort of ability to rank government dysfunction.”

    Not necessarily.

    Rothbardian “centrality of foreign policy” ideology doesn’t necessarily rank foreign policy “above” others in terms of dysfunction.

    Rather, it treats foreign policy as indicative of, and pivotal with respect to, all of the other dysfunctions.

    A dysfunctional foreign policy tends to have at least equally dysfunctional domestic effects.

    Wars have to be paid for meaning higher taxes (whether directly levied, hidden in inflation or deferred with debt).

    War spending distorts domestic economy. At the very least, it encourages capital investment in e.g. building bombs to sell to the government instead of producing consumer goods. At worst, a la WWII, the state actually says “you’re not going to be selling tires unless it’s to the Defense Department. But if there are enough eggs to stock all of the mess halls on all of the military bases, hey, you can spend some of your ration coupons on the surplus.”

    War also provides cover for the state to suppress civil liberties.

    And so on, and so forth.

    It’s not that trench warfare in France is “worse” per se than sticking Eugene Debs in prison, censoring the mail and telling grandpa he can’t buy that newfangled automobile he’s been saving up for until the war’s over. It’s that the former makes the latter possible.

  71. Robert Capozzi

    81 p: As for the war being over, pro-US mercenary contractors are still there in large numbers, there is still fighting among Iraqi factions, and so on. There are also still quite a few US troops there, although they are not classified as combat troops.

    me: Yes, I’d say that’s a big mistake, but an obscure point in the context of a soundbite campaign. Making obscure points makes the advocate seem, well, obscure. Being obscure on the Big Stage means less time on the Big Stage, meaning fewer eyeballs. Since politics is a numbers game, being obscure seems contra-indicated to me.

  72. Brian Holtz

    Ad Hoc: it does not follow that we shouldn’t work to end wars

    BH: Strawman.

    Ad Hoc: How so?

    Because nobody here is saying the LP shouldn’t work to end wars.

    Paulie, the statement I was disputing was “Iraq is not really over at all”. For about 5 years we were averaging 75 American combat deaths per month there. Now we’re averaging 0 per month. If you nevertheless think that Iraq still has as much political traction for an antiwar party as it used to, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  73. Robert Capozzi

    82 tk: War spending distorts domestic economy.

    me: Yes, agreed. But you’ve replaced “f.p.” with “war.”

    It could be that US foreign policy is a kind of lynchpin, disproportionately distorting the economy relative to domestic spending, for ex. Proving that is rather difficult, but it is possible, in theory.

    But I’d suggest that that which is ripe is that which is central to the cause of advancing liberty. Very large percentages of citizens are, for ex., anti-bailout, anti-crony capitalism. Very large percentages are pro gay marriage and pro medical marijuana. Very large percentages believe war is a last resort, and I suspect reasonably large percentages are at least open to the possibility that US bases in places like Germany, SK, etc., are unnecessary and prohibitively expensive. In fact, a reasonable percentage of the population would buy into ALL those points. And even if they did not, they would at least see the point as being reasonable, even if they disagreed.

    Very few believe that the safety net should be abolished. Very few believe that polygamy and heroin should be legal. And very few believe all alliances should end tomorrow.

    I’d say it’s “central” to make progress where progress can be made, where support is likely. Unripe ideas should be taled, at least in a political context.

    Advancing UNripe ideas backfire, making the advocate seem out of touch, kooky. It’s fine strategy if the goal is to build cadre, but I’m not interested in building cadre, mostly because I’m interested in advancing liberty, not producing converts.

    Rather than learning from Lenin, I’d say the Fabians were more on the mark…

  74. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    BH @ 77: You’re honestly taking the word of Wikipedia over Antiwar.com? Wow. Is your need to be right on these threads that strong?

  75. Brian Holtz

    Jill, you may be “taking the word” of antiwar.com, but I don’t take Wikipedia’s word on this subject — because Wikipedia doesn’t rely on “word”. The Wikipedia article has 182 citations and 35 references, which appear to be a strict superset of the sources used by antiwar.com. If you follow links from either site, you can read all about the huge discrepancies between the civilian bodycounts and some statistical estimates of “excess deaths” due to causes including “increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poor healthcare, etc.” If you think this is a Wikipedia vs. AntiWar question, then you apparently haven’t been following the bodycount controversy that has been roiling since the first Lancet survey in 2004 (and which, to my mind, was put to rest by the 2008 Word Health Organization Survey).

    At any rate, your objection about the absolute number of civilian casualties is a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring. The question I addressed above was whether “Iraq is not really over at all”. The trends in recorded civilian and combatant deaths give a clear answer to that question. If one of us has a “need to be right” here that leads to dismissing of evidence, it’s not me.

  76. Thomas L. Knapp

    Unless some likely POTUS is proposing to re-deploy US troops back into Iraq — and the only one I can think of who proposed that is no longer in the race — “the war” is, for all practical and most political purposes, over.

    That doesn’t mean Iraq won’t continue to be relevant in some ways, or that it won’t come back into the spotlight at some point (probably as it falls apart and the factions start pointing fingers and yelling “who lost Iraq?”), but any candidate who runs with “withdraw from Iraq” as a central campaign theme is dancing to a tune that hasn’t been playing for a few years now.

  77. paulie

    Yes, I’d say that’s a big mistake, but an obscure point in the context of a soundbite campaign. Making obscure points makes the advocate seem, well, obscure. Being obscure on the Big Stage means less time on the Big Stage, meaning fewer eyeballs. Since politics is a numbers game, being obscure seems contra-indicated to me.

    Nothing obscure about drawing lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan, among many other conflicts past and present, and applying them to US actions moving forward.

  78. paulie

    Ad Hoc: it does not follow that we shouldn’t work to end wars

    BH: Strawman.

    Ad Hoc: How so?

    Because nobody here is saying the LP shouldn’t work to end wars.

    Your characterization of that discussion seems to be missing quite a bit of context, and excluding that context completely changes the meaning of what was said.

  79. paulie

    Paulie, the statement I was disputing was “Iraq is not really over at all”. For about 5 years we were averaging 75 American combat deaths per month there. Now we’re averaging 0 per month. If you nevertheless think that Iraq still has as much political traction for an antiwar party as it used to, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    I don’t think it has as much traction, and never said that.

    However, I don’t think American combat deaths are the sole measure of whether the war is over; it’s over in some ways but not others. In many ways it will go on for a long time even if it doesn’t flare up again, and it might.

    In the larger context of Afghanistan, Iran, and many other places, foreign policy is still a huge issue and will remain one for a long time.

  80. paulie

    To those who think war and “empire” are the reasons why government is so big in America, meet the O.E.C.D:

    The OECD’s figures don’t show how the ripple effects of war and empire impact many other aspects of government spending – health, social services, law enforcement, housing, prisons, debt, etc and so forth.

  81. paulie

    You’re honestly taking the word of Wikipedia over Antiwar.com? Wow. Is your need to be right on these threads that strong?

    I think the wikipedia article has a lot of good information; again,

    Scrolling down at the wikipedia link:

    The IBC site states: “it should be noted that many deaths will probably go unreported or unrecorded by officials and media.”

    Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted August 12–19, 2007, estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War. The range given was 946,000 to 1,120,000 deaths. A nationally representative sample of approximately 2,000 Iraqi adults answered whether any members of their household (living under their roof) were killed due to the Iraq War. 22% of the respondents had lost one or more household members. ORB reported that “48% died from a gunshot wound, 20% from the impact of a car bomb, 9% from aerial bombardment, 6% as a result of an accident and 6% from another blast/ordnance.”

    The Lancet study’s figure of 654,965 excess deaths through the end of June 2006 is based on household survey data. The estimate is for all excess violent and nonviolent deaths. That also includes those due to increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poorer healthcare, etc. 601,027 deaths (range of 426,369 to 793,663 using a 566% confidence interval) were estimated to be due to violence. 31% of those were attributed to the Coalition, 24% to others, 46% unknown. The causes of violent deaths were gunshot (56%), car bomb (13%), other explosion/ordnance (14%), airstrike (13%), accident (2%), unknown (2%). A copy of a death certificate was available for a high proportion of the reported deaths (92% of those households asked to produce one).

  82. paulie

    I don’t take Wikipedia’s word on this subject — because Wikipedia doesn’t rely on “word”. The Wikipedia article has 182 citations and 35 references, which appear to be a strict superset of the sources used by antiwar.com

    Agreed.

    If you follow links from either site, you can read all about the huge discrepancies between the civilian bodycounts and some statistical estimates of “excess deaths” due to causes including “increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poor healthcare, etc.

    As IBC notes, per wikipedia, “it should be noted that many deaths will probably go unreported or unrecorded by officials and media.”

    Lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poor healthcare and other problems caused by war should absolutely be counted as causing deaths as a result of war.

    However, Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted August 12–19, 2007, estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War. The range given was 946,000 to 1,120,000 deaths. A nationally representative sample of approximately 2,000 Iraqi adults answered whether any members of their household (living under their roof) were killed due to the Iraq War. 22% of the respondents had lost one or more household members. ORB reported that “48% died from a gunshot wound, 20% from the impact of a car bomb, 9% from aerial bombardment, 6% as a result of an accident and 6% from another blast/ordnance.”

    That’s not even counting degraded infrastructure, poor healthcare etc., although it may count lawlessness.

    As for Lancet, I note that “The causes of violent deaths were gunshot (56%), car bomb (13%), other explosion/ordnance (14%), airstrike (13%), accident (2%), unknown (2%). A copy of a death certificate was available for a high proportion of the reported deaths (92% of those households asked to produce one).” (emphasis added).

  83. paulie

    Unless some likely POTUS is proposing to re-deploy US troops back into Iraq

    If I am not mistaken, Romney, Gingrich and Santorum all sound like they might. Am I wrong about that?

  84. Brian Holtz

    @92 Recall that Ad Hoc wrote “it does not follow that X”. When one writes that, and nobody is advocating X, then one is arguing against a strawman. Period. No context can make that not be the case.

    @96 The 92% death certificate claim actually undermines the credibility of Lancet, whose defenders claim (in the article linked from antiwar.com) that so many death certificates are missing because most survivors don’t bother getting one. From Wikipedia: The very high reported rate of death certificates by the survey “implies that the official death certificate system has issued, but failed to record the issuance of, about 500,000 death certificates”.

    The true number of deaths is surely between the 110K names counted by IBC and the 1M estimated by Lancet. W.H.O. surveyed 5 times as many households as Lancet, and gave an estimate of 150K. Antiwar.com chooses to show an “estimate” of 1,455,590 that is derived by adding to the Lancet number a dozen new bodies for every name logged by IBC since the Lancet study. That methodology is ridiculous.

    Antiwar.com needs to learn the difference between having the truth on your side, and being on the side of truth. It’s close to indisputable that the invasion of Iraq led to at least 150K violent deaths of civilian Iraqis. Does Antiwar.com worry the invasion was justifiable if the truth is closer to 150K than to the ten-times-higher number they show on their web site? Perhaps truth is the first casualty of antiwar.

    The point of the OECD graph @85 was that OECD countries have big government sectors even without significant involvement in wars and “empire” — six of the top seven are Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Finland. 2 of the 3 with the smallest government GDP share are U.S. and South Korea, which are among the most militarized nations in the set.

    Government doesn’t need war or “empire” to be big. It just needs an electorate that has realized it can vote itself money.

  85. Robert Capozzi

    91 p: Nothing obscure about drawing lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan, among many other conflicts past and present, and applying them to US actions moving forward.

    me: What WOULD be obscure would be to say, well, actually, the US is still warring in Iraq with our contractors. Learning lessons from the failures that are Iraq and Afg. I’m all over.

    They are not as big issues as they were a year or two ago, though. In that sense, I think the Wrights campaign has miscalculated.

    I also think that some Ls are quick to conflate “war” with “foreign policy,” which are not the same. Surely a f.p. based on being the world’s policeman leads to more war than is justified, but in a soundbite game, rhetoric needs to be calculated for maximum impact.

    Ls have a propensity toward pedanticism in the politics, which I suggest is a suboptimal modality….

  86. Melty

    Now that Gary Johnson ia talking like an Israel firster, I encourage him to pursue the Americans Elect nomination.

  87. paulie

    I encourage him to pursue the Americans Elect nomination.

    Johnson is one of the top draft candidates for the AE nomination. I don’t think he’ll accept the draft – I think he needs to do that before the LP nomination. If it’s after, and if for some reason he loses the LP nomination, he might go for AE, but I doubt he would get it.

  88. paulie

    I agree with Capozzi’s last comment, except for “I think the Wrights campaign has miscalculated” – I don’t think it was a political calculation, except perhaps in a secondary way in the LP delegate niche vote sense. But primarily, I think it is just what it is, regardless of how popular or unpopular it proves to be.

    Holtz’s latest deserves a longer response than I want to write at the moment. I’ll try to get back to it later.

  89. Melty

    Americans Elect is sayin theyll narrow it down over April & May to six candidates, and down to one in June.

  90. paulie

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/opinion/this-war-is-not-over-yet.html

    http://www.moneytrendsresearch.com/tag/iraq-war-not-over/

    The American public has been told that the Iraq War is a thing of the past. Even still, the US Department of Defense is asking the federal government for almost $3 billion for “activities” in a country that they shouldn’t be in.

    The last US troops were supposedly withdrawn from Iraq just before 2012 began, but after years of a war that abruptly ended this past December, the Pentagon still wants billions to continue doing…something in Iraq. According to the latest budget request, the DoD think around $2.9 billion should cover the cost of “Post-Operation NEW DAWN (OND)/Iraq Activities.”

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