Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Was Wrong About Bob Barr

When Barr sought the 2008 nomination of the Libertarian Party, I backed him. Not aggressively, and not with my vote at the Convention, as I did not attend, the non-attendance being an indicator of how lukewarm my support was. I just searched this blog and found that I hadn't even written of him here until 4 months after his nomination. But, I backed him all the same.

As I recall my thinking at the time, I was of a mind to forgive his anti-liberty transgressions as a Republican congressman, as he recanted his former positions. We all change, not usually so late in life, but if he had his Come To Jesus moment and found libertarianism to be his genuine calling, what good would I do in dismissing it? What would that tell others I was trying to win over to my side? I want former Republicans and Democrats to come to the Libertarian Party, so I let his past not stand in the way, and judged him on his message and his plan to spread the message.

Well, I was duped. 'Patriot Paul' Wheeler emailed me today with a link to a story showing Bob Barr endorsed Newt Gingrich. Here's an excerpt from a different article on the same topic:
Bob Barr was the Presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party in 2008, having recently switched from the GOP. It was recently rumored that he was considering a Republican run for Congress in Georgia, but this still came as quite a shock. Bob Barr is one member of a large slate of public officials and former officeholders who endorsed Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign today.

Among the state and local officials announcing they are endorsing Newt Gingrich today are:

Georgia Congressmen Austin Scott, Lynn Westmoreland, Tom Price, Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey. Former Georgia Congressmen Mac Collins and Bob Barr.

My reaction was very similar to the first comment following the article. A lot of people at the Convention were very upset that he was even being considered, due to some of the legislation he advanced while a Republican member of Congress. I try not to get caught up in the 'fake libertarian/real libertarian' thing too much. I wasn't a pure libertarian when I was first
became interested in politics. I was a Democrat. But I came to be a libertarian, and I try to just work with others who show an interest in the moment. And really, during his campaign, I found Barr to be an excellent advocate for liberty. I was fairly sold on his conversion.

Now this.

It's impossible for me to square Barr on this, though. Ok, people change. He made a big to-do about having seen the light on the things Libertarians questioned him on from his past. Ok, good. But then a Gingrich endorsement? Gingrich has unfortunately showed himself very plainly not to have libertarian grounding. His foreign policy and takes on civil liberty are the antithesis of libertarian thinking, and freedom loving.

Sure, just as with any liberal or any conservative, libertarians will find occasional common ground on issues, but with Gingrich I'm convinced now that the common ground is accidental. That Barr can't discern this tells me that his seeking our nomination was insincere, because, yeah people change... but that's a flip-flop. A big one. I wouldn't have cared if he endorsed one of two other Republicans- Ron Paul or Gary Johnson- because they certainly are libertarian, and will advance policies I can largely be proud of. But Gingrich? I would sooner vote for Obama.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The 1% And Government Money

Interesting article, although with one large hole in it, from Reason, channeling Investors Business Daily:
John Merline of Investors Business Daily has published a fascinating analysis of $10 billion the government annually gives to the dreaded 1 percent:

Using IRS data, IBD found that the top 1% of income earners claimed approximately $7 billion in Social Security benefits in 2009. That year, the program paid super-rich seniors — those with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $10 million — an average of $33,000 each.

Medicare, meanwhile, paid roughly $2.6 billion in health care subsidies for the richest 1% of enrollees, based on calculations using Medicare enrollment, overall Medicare spending and premium data. (Medicare does not track spending by enrollee income.) And if you consider that 5% of Medicare enrollees have more than $1 million in savings, the amount taxpayers spend to subsidize retiree health benefits skyrockets.

The hole is that government funnels gobs of money to corporations in subsidies and bailouts, and these moneys in turn often go to the salaries and worse, bonuses, of top executives. That's a pretty large hole for Reason to miss. However, it is illuminating how our tax system and our entitlement programs, which most people seem to hold as sacrosanct and absolute do things they don't expect them to do.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Solemn Oaths

I've enjoyed watching some of my conservative friends squirm in cognitive dissonance over Newt Gingrich. These villagers were wielding clubs and pitchforks when Bill Clinton was getting hooted in the Oval Office, and making the connection between marriage vows and the ability to tell the truth.

So, I love that on the question of character, Ron Paul took the same argument forward, and applied it to the Constitution and the oath of office to uphold the Constitution during a recent Republican debate.

And I really love that what he said got solid applause. This gives me hope.