Regarding Roger Pilon’s defense of the Police America Act (see my Legitimizing the State; also Karen’s Cato-Tarianism and DiLorenzo’s A Real Libertarian vs. Cato on the “Protect America Act”)–Reason magazine weighs in (on our side), with Kerry Howley’s post Spy if You Want. Even some Cato-ites are bothered by Pilon’s position on this.
From the Jan. 28 Baltimore Sun:
“RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL
Health officials began distributing millions of condoms yesterday” in preparation for “Brazil’s five-day Carnival. The government expects to hand out 19.5 million condoms by Carnival’s end,” along with “morning after pills.”
That the Cato Intitute still calls itself a “libertarian think tank” is increasingly becoming one huge farce. The latest example of this farce is Roger Pilon’s defense in the War Street Journal of the abolition of the Fourth Amendment protection against warrantless wiretaps, under Bush’s “Protect America Act.” In contrast to this Catotalitarian argument, here’s what a real libertarian, Judge Andrew Napolitano, has to say about it in his book, A Nation of Sheep (p. 175):
“As I write this, Congress has just voted . . . to change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) so as to purport to give the president the legal authority to spy on Americans by listening to our telephone conversations and monitoring our computer keystrokes when we communicate with persons outside the United States, without a warrant issued by a judge . . . . I wrote above ‘purport to give’ because Congress lacks the authority to enable the president to spy on Americans without a search warrant. The Constitution prohibits such behavior, and Congress canot change the Constitution. Period.”“The Fourth Amendment was written because the Founders were sick and tired of British soldiers writing their own search warrants as a pretext for coming onto the colonists’ property, even when there was no demonstrable evidence of criminal activity . . .”
“The Fourth Amendment puts a neutral judge between the government and its target . . . . The Constitution requires the government to demonstrate probable cause of a crime before a judge can authorize unleashing the government’s use of force. The Fourth Amendment regulates that monopoly. It is Fourth Amendment protections that have saved us and all past generations of Americans from the knock on the door in the middle of the night.”
Those who support the totalitarian “Protect America Act,” says Judge Napolitano, are simply corrupted by power, as Lord Acton warned. They do not seek power “to liberate or to preserve freedom, but for the internal gratification that its exercise affords . . .”
The Wall Street Journal carried a curious–nay, astonishing–column by a libertarian today. In “Listening to the Enemy,” Cato’s Roger Pilon urges Congress to make the ominously-titled “Protect America Act” permanent, to keep the temporary law from expiring this Friday. Yes, I did a double-take too: he is defending the “Protect America Act.” Libertarians have been opposed to this mis-named law for good reason. As one LRC columnist put it, the Act “authorizes open-ended surveillance of Americans’ overseas phone calls and e-mails without the need for a warrant or security justification. It is, as Aziz Huq writes in The Nation, ‘power without responsibility.’” See also Libertarian Party Says “No Way” to FISA Amendment; Sunset the “Protect America Act”; New Law Gives Government Six Months to Turn Internet and Phone Systems into Permanent Spying Architecture.
One must read Pilon’s arguments to believe it. This goes beyond mere libertarian centralism. Pilon’s argument seems to be that the Protect America Act needs to be extended or made permanent because otherwise, “the president’s statutory power to prevent terrorist attacks will be seriously compromised.” So here we have it: libertarians favoring secret government spying on citizens, more Executive Branch immunity from Congressional oversight, special immunity for private businesses cooperating with illegal government surveillance, all in the name of the War on Terror.
I’m (almost) speechless.
Some of the beltwaytarians have taken to calling themselves “cosmopolitans” as a way of distinguishing themselves from us un-hip advocates of peace, freedom, limited government, and free enterprise. After a little head scratching and internet searching, I think I have an idea of just what a “cosmopolitan” is, and why it is unequivocally not the same as a libertarian. The latter is an advocate of a free society, but not of any particular lifestyle that one chooses. The cosmopolitan, on the other hand, is one who advocates, endorses, and champions particular lifestyle choices. The December 2003 issue of the very cosmopolitan Reason magazine provides evidence of this with an article on “35 Heroes of Freedom.”
Included on the list are such well-known heroes of freedom as Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, Rose Wilder Lane, Ayn Rand, Julian Simon, Thomas Szasz, and Ron Paul (before he threatened to spread traditional libertarian ideas nationally by running for president). To be included one must have been alive in 1968, the year the magazine was founded. Ludwig von Mises, who died in 1973; Henry Hazlitt (1993); Leonard Read (1983); Baldy Harper (1973);and Murray Rothbard (1996) qualified in that regard, but were not included on Reason’s list of heroes of freedom.
Instead, we have novelist William Burroughs who “proved that you can abuse your body in every way imaginable and still outlive the entire universe.” Hugh Hefner gets an honorable mention for having “mainstreamed bohemian sexual mores,” but Reason’s real hero in this regard is Larry Flynt, who “brought tastelessness to new depths.”
Madonna is on the list for having “led a glorious parade of freaks, gender benders, and weirdos” on MTV. Tennis pro Martina Navratilova heroically “was the first superstar athlete to admit she’s gay.’
Country music legend Willie Nelson made the list not for his music but for having “smoked dope” in the Carter White House. Former pro basketball player Dennis Rodman is feated not for his athletic accomplishments but for being “a cross-dressing, serially pierced, tatoo-laden” athlete who is know for his “flamboyant, frequently gay-ish antics.” Science fiction writer Robert Henlein heroically championed “really alternative sexual practices” (emphasis in original).
So there you have it. It’s not just “freedom” that “cosmopolitans” are interested in, but using that freedom in very specific ways, namely, the ways in which their “heroes” have used it. I think this explains some of the extreme hatred they tend to display toward those of us who simply have the attitude of “who cares?” about all of this and refuse to equate libertarianism with hedonism, illicit drug use, self mutiliation, libertinism. and various other juvenile fantasies.
Justin Raimondo on The Beltway Boys.
Brian Doherty has a post well worth reading,“of Possible Relevance to Some Recent Unpleasantness Regarding Tolerance and Libertarians.” He discusses how libertarians and other proponents of openness and diversity should perhaps, in the spirit of Voltaire, tolerate free speech, inquiry and open discourse, not just in the strictest sense of opposing prosecution for those with whom one disagrees or finds offensive, but also in a wider sense important to a healthy civil society. I recommend the whole entry, which contemplates the Voltairian proverb that “I disagree with what this man has said, but I defend to the death his right to say it.”
Doherty explains, “As ugly and embracing of intolerance as such an epigram may seem in practice, perhaps there are reasons, reasons vital to the flourishing of an interesting, varied, free world of expression, that those summing up the spirit of Enlightenment tolerance did not choose to express the appropriate attitude toward things said with which he disagreed—even strongly and passionately disagreed—like this: ‘I disagree with what this man has said, and I consider him evil for saying it; furthermore, I consider him having said it the most significant thing about him, and that it overshadows any other accomplishment or statement he has ever made. I fervently wish to have him driven from polite society, and consider that anyone who does not enthusiastically join me in so driving him to themselves be evil, or at least incredibly idiotic and not to be trusted—but don’t worry, I don’t think he should be arrested for saying it.’”
This relates somewhat to my LRC article a while back, “Tolerance, Acceptance and Civility,” in which I explained the difference between tolerance, narrowly defined — which libertarians categorically defend — and acceptance, something altogether different, while championing the middle ground of civility, which I indeed believe is most crucial to maintaining a free world of independent thinkers living in peace.
Earlier on this blog, Huebert and I noted that Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, Thomas Sowell, and Walter Williams, all supposedly revered by the Beltway libertine “libertarians,” or “cosmopolitans,” or whatever they’re calling themselves this week, endorsed policies that, when advocated by some of us on this web site, are deemed worthy of the fiercest denunciation. They portray us as nothing less than Public Enemies for agreeing with Friedman and the rest that open borders combined with a gigantic welfare state poses problems for society, for example.
They call us nasty names, rather like a junior high schooler would do. (A real libertarian who resides around the Beltway and is quite an accomplished intellectual informs me this morning that the CATO v.p./smearbund ringleader, who I used to know, is “incredibly immature” and “probably the most childish ‘major figure’ in the libertarian movement that I have met.” His writing “reeks of grade school antics’).
Well, Smearbund, here’s another target for you: Ludwig von Mises. In the chapter of Human Action on “The Economics of War,” Mises champions free trade and immigration as important deterrents of war, but with a reservation. It is not always possible, he wrote, “of appeasng the aggressors by removing migration barriers. As conditions are today, the Americans and Austrailia in admitting German, Italian, and Japanese immigrants would merely open their doors to the vanguards of hostile armies.”
Now go ahead, Smearbund,do your thing: explode with hatred directed at the great man himself. It’s what you do “best.”
Anthony, good points. Your argument rightly draws upon and displays a healthy appreciation for decentralism and federalism. And of course, that’s something the cosmotarian cosmotards cannot be expected to appreciate. They loooove it when big daddy federal government tells the bad ole states what to do.
I don’t hold that against him or Cato at all. But following our critics’ way of thinking, will this not lead some to associate his anti-immigration, pro-discrimination, anti-Lincoln, and pro-secession views with libertarianism?
Regarding the ridiculous assertion by The Smearbund that criticizing Lincoln = Defending Slavery, Edward T. writes:
“I’ve read your book “The Real Lincoln” and am currently reading “A Century of War” by [John] Denson [published by the Mises Institute], and there is not single word that suggests you or John support slavery. These people are beyond absurd and well into numbingly narrow-minded. It always has shocked me how people who claim to be academics can be so utterly devoid of honest thought.”
“[P]eople who claim to be academics” is a key word here: The CATO v.p. who is the ringleader of The Smearbund has never held a real, fulltime academic job at any university. (One of his fellow hate-bloggers repeated all the slavery/xenophopia/etc. slander yesterday, and then identified himself as someone who “lives” in three states plus “the former Soviet Union.” He sounds like he lives in his car and lists no place of employment).
In addition to the points made by Huebert about my old friend and colleague, the great Walter Williams, I should point out that he also wrote the Foreword to my book, The Real Lincoln. NONE of my critics has ever made peep about this fact, or addressed any of the arguments made by Walter with one exception: some guy from the Claremont Institute who accused him of being a traitor to his race. I believe it was the same guy — Japanese-American Ken Masugi — who has defended FDR’s unjust incarceration of his own people in concentration camps during WW II.
Below, Dr. DiLorenzo points out that Gary Becker, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell hold some of the same supposedly pernicious views attributed collectively to those of us who write for LRC and the Mises Institute.
This brings to mind someone else who holds virtually all of our supposedly offensive views: African-American economist Walter Williams. I have never seen the beltway libertarians personally attack him, as well they shouldn’t.
But as we run down the list of his views and statements he has made, many of them are essentially identical to what we are accused of being so vile for thinking: * The Civil War. In a piece titled “The Civil War Wasn’t About Slavery,” Williams writes, “By destroying the states’ right to secession, Abraham Lincoln opened the door to the kind of unconstrained, despotic, arrogant government we have today, something the framers of the Constitution could not have possibly imagined. States should again challenge Washington’s unconstitutional acts through nullification.” (Williams also endorses Dr. DiLorenzo’s book, The Real Lincoln, on its jacket.)
* Immigration. Writes Williams: “Our borders should be made secure both against illegal entry of persons and potential threats to national security.” And I’m glad Ron Paul’s newsletters didn’t say this: “For the most part, yesteryear’s immigrants came here legally. Because there was no welfare state, we were guaranteed that they’d work as opposed to living off the rest of us. Furthermore, they sought to assimilate and adopt our culture and become Americans. That’s not so true today, where Hispanic activists seek to impose their language and culture on the rest of us.” (The claim that people at this website or at the Mises Institute all share this view is false: I, for one, strongly disagree with Walter Williams and Ron Paul on this issue and favor open immigration.)
* Rodney King. The article is not online, but at the time Williams observed that the media distorted the public’s perception of the case by airing a selective portion of the videotaped beating.
* Race discrimination. When I had him as a professor at Grove City College, Dr. Williams pointed out that it would be entirely rational and proper to discriminate in favor of blacks (and against other races) when selecting a basketball team if one knew nothing else about the prospective players. He also said the same thing about Chinese in choosing a team for a mathematics competition. (As far as I know, no one here is accused of saying that… but you can well imagine they’d be dredging it up and giving it the least charitable interpretation possible if we had.)
I could also point out that in his college lectures, as in his guest-hosting stints for Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Williams seemed to go out of his way to be politically incorrect and offend the PC sensibilities of certain members of his audience — much like some of us at this site sometimes do.
The fact that Williams said these things above (and many others like them) does not make them correct, of course, and I certainly don’t agree with him on everything (especially foreign policy) or expect anyone else to. I only observe that he is never subjected to any scathing criticism — much less calls for him to be excommunicated from polite society — for holding the very same views that those of us on this site are accused of holding.
Here’s another one — homosexuality. For a 2003 column, Williams drew fire for citing statistics on homosexuals’ allegedly low life expectancy which came from the fiercely anti-homosexual psychologist Paul Cameron. (Again, I don’t know that anyone here has cited Cameron or made similar arguments — but you can imagine what we’d be hearing now if we had.)
That’s what certain Beltway “Libertarians,” who have recently named themselves after a popular martini (”cosmopolitans”), would call Nobel laureate economists Militon Friedman and Gary Becker, along with Thomas Sowell, because of their (the economists’) views on immigration policy. If they were consistent, that is.
That’s how they have hysterically reacted to a few people associated with this Web site who have expressed reservations about the combination of open borders and a giant welfare state. But Friedman unequivocally believed the two were incompatible; Becker has suggested imposing a $50,000 entrance fee for immigrants; and Sowell has called immigration “potentially dangerous” to the entire society.
I suspect one reason for the hysterically slanderous name calling for some, but not for these three scholars who make identical arguments, is that none of them was or is involved in running a think tank or academic organization that competes with any Inside-the-Beltway think tank.
Have you noticed that the only people who seem to really care about the newsletter story (apart from a handful of disgruntled former allies) are beltway libertarians? Apparently they’re more interested in acting indignant and attacking Ron Paul’s friends than in seeing an end to deadly big government at home and abroad. And that tells you all you need to know about them.
Of course, even as they feigned qualified support for Ron Paul over the past months, they eagerly anticipated (and collaborated in) this story. Indeed, they’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, working day and night to attack Lew Rockwell and writers for this website, not only with frivolous blog posts, but even through efforts to disrupt our work and personal lives. Too bad for them that more serious-minded people can see right through them and put substance over political correctness and petty internecine squabbles.
Ron Paul and his movement won’t be thrown off by this at all. We’ve rendered the DC libertarians’ attempts to join the Washington Establishment irrelevant. No wonder they’re fuming and grasping at straws.