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Is The GOP Becoming More Libertarian?

Public opinion analyst Nate Silver argues that the Republican Party is turning libertarian:

Are Republicans turning into libertarians?

Last week's Tea Party protests had their origins in the libertarian movement. Although many conservative groups were eager to co-opt their purpose, the core of the message — anti-tax, anti-big government — was about as libertarian as it gets . . .

We can argue about the significance of the tea paries and we can argue about whether they represent the way forward for Republicans. But they are just one manifesation of what seems like an increasing drift toward libertariansim within the party. Consider also:

-- A new Gallup survey suggests that 80 percent of Republicans think that big government is a bigger threat to the government than big business, versus just 10 percent who think the opposite. This represents an enormous partisan split from Democrats, among whom a majority think that big business is the greater threat. Moreover, the partisan split has grown significantly since 2006; it has now become almost a definitional issue for Republicans.

-- The Republican alternative budget could be considered a somewhat radical experiment in libertarianism, dramatically slashing taxes while promising to balance budgets — an achievement that would only be possible if the size of the government were cut enormously. . .

-- Republican insiders are increasingly uncertain about whether gay marriage, which was such an important issue for the party over 2000-2004, is any longer a winning issue at all for them. Reaction to the Iowa Supreme Court decision was surprisingly muted in conservative circles. . .

-- If gay bashing is becoming less in vogue among Republicans, it's unclear which other cultural issues — areas where Republicans sometimes favor bigger, more statist government — might take its place. Yes, there's always abortion. But I'm surprised there hasn't been more anti-immigrant sentiment, as often happens when jobs are scarce; perhaps the Republicans' poor performance among Latino voters on November 4th might have scared them away from that issue. Marijuana legalization seems to be gaining some traction (although more among pundits than policymakers), but about half the conservative commentariat (see Glenn Beck, for instance, who calls himself a libertarian) seems to embrace it.

I welcome all of the above developments. But I'm less convinced than Silver that they signal a major move towards libertarianism by the GOP. Much of the GOP's current support for free markets is a function of the federal government's having come under the control of the Democrats. Both parties are far less enamored of big government if it's under the thumb of their opponents. When the Republicans themselves controlled the White House and Congress just a few years ago, they pushed through a massive expansion of federal spending and regulation. President George W. Bush presided over a highly statist administration, by almost any measure. It's possible that the GOP has definitively rejected the Bush-era model of big government conservatism. But it's too early to tell. The real test will be how the Republicans act when and if they regain a share of power at the federal level (e.g. - by controlling at least one house of Congress, or at least having a large enough minority to significantly influence the content of major legislation).

Silver's points on social issues are well taken, but I have a few caveats here. Many conservative pundits and intellectuals have long supported drug legalization, including such luminaries as the late William F. Buckley. But that hasn't had much effect on the GOP's actual policies. I am happy, as Silver seems to be, that many Republican insiders want the party to deemphasize its opposition to gay marriage. But this stance may be due to the fact that the issue has been overshadowed by more important concerns, such as the financial crisis. Whether the Party changes its long term orientation away from social conservatism remains to be seen. I suspect there will be strict limits to any such movement, because the GOP cannot afford to completely alienate its social conservative base.

In the meantime, however, there is certainly room for cooperation between GOP conservatives and libertarians, to the extent that both oppose the Democrats' massive expansion of government. Whether the two groups can agree on a positive program as well as a negative one remains to be seen.

IPLawyer:
How convenient. Where were these people between 2000 and 2008?

You'll have to excuse me if I get the impression that much of the current republican populism is more "astroturf" than ideological.

With that said, I would love to see the Republican party actually move in that direction. I just find it extremely unlikely.
4.23.2009 4:03pm
geokstr (mail):

Both parties are far less enamored of big government if it's under the thumb of their opponents.

I believe you are confusing the people who happen to identify as Republican and many who don't who voted for them because of the "evil of two lessers", and the formal Republican establishment, which would include the elected officials at all levels.

If you've followed the blogs closely for the last 5 years or so, you would have seen a growing disconnect between the Right on many levels and those who claim to speak for us. We fought Bush on amnesty for illegals, on the Harriet Myers fiasco, and a number of other major issues. Most conservatives held their nose when they voted for McCain, a neo-liberal who was selected for us by the media. We've only stuck around this long because many of us foresaw exactly what is happening now and hoped to stop it from taking power.

Well, it's too late for that now, so screw the Republican party as its now constituted.

For now the Democratic coalition is holding, but there will be conflicts coming in the relatively near future between its own power blocs.
4.23.2009 4:15pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
The Republican insiders want to de-emphasize opposition to gay marriage? No surprise. They want open borders, and some of them (like Bush's useless last Secretary of the Treasury) backed massive bailouts for Wall Street. Over the last few years, they have shown that they are just Democrat Lite. You'll notice that the Tea Parties are pretty emphatically Republican grassroots--the "insiders" are part of the problem.

There's nothing libertarian about the Republican "insiders." They're just whoring after the same media and political elite cooing that the Democrats do.

You may be confusing a belief that the federal government is too big with libertarianism. There are a lot of different perspectives (including just plain realism) that recognize that the federal government is too big and too powerful. They aren't necessarily libertarian.
4.23.2009 4:27pm
Jeff the Baptist (mail) (www):
No, Republicans are just returning to Reagan-esque conservative rhetoric and turning away from the spendthrift Bush administration economic policies of the last 8 years. Anti-tax and small-government are not exclusively libertarian ideas. Silver's "gay bashing" and "anti-immigrant" slights also seem to paint a picture of someone who is on the outside of conservatism looking in.

For most of Bush's second term his approval ratings were below the percentage of registered Republicans. Which means even his own party didn't like him. Ditto the Republicans in congress. A huge part of this was their spendthrift tendencies.
4.23.2009 4:29pm
Cityduck (mail):
Republican political strategists may recognize that the perils of becoming a religious party, but Republican candidates largely haven't. And its obvious why: The Republican Party, at the grass roots level, has been increasingly dominated by religious conservatives and values voters. "Mainstreet Republicans" are almost entirely squeezed out of the Party. While there are many Libertarian theorists, there are few Libertarian candidates. The end result is that the Republicans have moved Right, increasingly ceding the center to the Dems.
4.23.2009 4:32pm
rosetta's stones:
In the middle of the campaign last Fall, when McCain, Obama and Bush sat down to discuss the size of the bailouts, it put the lie to any premise that any of these guys were moving toward libertarian thought. They're not, and neither are their buddies.
4.23.2009 4:32pm
jvarisco (mail) (www):
Giving up on the values vote sounds like a great idea for the party.

Do these guys realize that 2/3 of the population as a whole (including Democrats!) opposes gay marriage? Taking positions that really annoy your base AND that are politically unpopular is clearly the way to win back Congress.
4.23.2009 4:34pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Reaction to the Iowa Supreme Court decision was surprisingly muted in conservative circles. . .
The first time that the dictators in black made up a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, we were outraged, as much by the process as the outcome. The second time, we were still upset. Now we're getting used to dictators in black making this stuff up.

The first time a state supreme court decides that there is a constitutional right to polygamy, we'll be outraged again. The third time, we'll just have gotten used to the game.

I should point out that there's nothing intrinsically libertarian about same-sex marriage. It's just that many people whose natural inclinations are conservative tend to end up libertarian if they don't buy into the theistic roots of American conservative thought.
4.23.2009 4:36pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):
Forget gay marriage. That ship has already sailed. California will have SMM within the next four years, and much of the Nation will have it in twelve (that's my prediction, and I'm sticking to it).

The core Republicans, at the moment, have a much more damaging issue to reckon with. They will have to reconcile their position on torture... oh, sorry, enhanced interrogation techniques, before they will start getting any new movement toward respectability and be able to increase the strength of the party. The latest developments are killing them.
4.23.2009 4:37pm
Losantiville:
Most movement conservatives opposed Bush's spending and big government orientation. The elected party has a bunch of wimp moderates that did (but fewer of those as their districts go to Dems).

On SSM, of course, the party took the libertarian anti-licensing position. Too bad they didn't expand the argument to OSM licensing.

No libertarian can logically support government licensing of any kind. We shouldn't need their permission for anything.
4.23.2009 4:38pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Do these guys realize that 2/3 of the population as a whole (including Democrats!) opposes gay marriage?
It doesn't matter. Nearly all members of the political elite either support gay marriage, or would do so if they had the courage of what passes for convictions.
4.23.2009 4:39pm
Observer:
The GOP is certainly more libertarian (perhaps even liberal) than ever on social issues, but it is also less libertarian than ever on economic issues. On balance, probably about the same as it was under Reagan.
4.23.2009 4:39pm
John Powell (mail):

Clayton E. Cramer said:

You'll notice that the Tea Parties are pretty emphatically Republican grassroots--the "insiders" are part of the problem.


Seems like the de facto sponsor of the Tea Parties was Fox News. Fox News (as a whole) has been historically anti-gay marriage, anit-legalization of Marijuana, and otherwise generally socially conservative, pro-Iraq war, etc.

Hard to call that grass-roots, Libertarian, or anything of the sort.
4.23.2009 4:42pm
sputnik (mail):
I hope that like the Communists in the USSR GOP will be banned .
4.23.2009 4:45pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

No libertarian can logically support government licensing of any kind. We shouldn't need their permission for anything.
And you don't. The SSM battle is about getting an official statement of approval for people that seem to need an official statement of approval to feel okay about themselves.

If the government chose to ignore my marriage of 29 years tomorrow, I could care less. But then again, I'm secure enough about my relationship with my wife--and about myself--that I don't need an official stamp of approval.

Worse than SSM itself is the really bad precedent it sets for judges to just pull stuff out of where the sun doesn't shine because they don't like what the majority decides. Unlike a lot of questions of constitutional law, where there's a bit of uncertainty as to where original public meaning was when the 14th Amendment was ratified, we know what the original public meaning about equal protection or due process was with respect to homosexuality in 1868: it was a felony, everywhere. It was a crime so unspeakable that laws prohibiting it used euphemisms such as "the crime against nature."

From a felony to a constitutional right, at the stroke of a judge's pen. What's next?
4.23.2009 4:47pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Seems like the de facto sponsor of the Tea Parties was Fox News.
Uh, no. This movement was underway before Fox paid attention to it. Sure, their coverage of it greatly helped. (I suppose that you will say that NBC and CNN were the "de facto sponsor" of the antiwar rallies as well.) But a lot of Republican politicians who showed up at these events found themselves on the pointy end of the boo machine, because they are part of the problem.
4.23.2009 4:50pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
The core Republicans, at the moment, have a much more damaging issue to reckon with. They will have to reconcile their position on torture... oh, sorry, enhanced interrogation techniques, before they will start getting any new movement toward respectability and be able to increase the strength of the party. The latest developments are killing them.
Sorry, this is wishful thinking.

First, it appears that these techniques may have helped prevent an attack on LA. Sure, most of us wouldn't miss the city, but.. then again, I am not a fan of NYC either, but was irate about it being hit on 9/11.

Secondly, the same Democratic leadership in Congress that is screaming right now KNEW about it all along.

Third, it will be impossible to keep this issue going for the next year and a half. Despite a lot of wishful thinking, no one is going to jail over this. Obama has stated that those actually doing the enhanced interrogation aren't, and the lawyers who gave the yellow light made more colorable arguments than many you see in court. Besides, in the end, the Obama lawyers won't want the possibility of jail time for their advice as precedent when the Republicans next take the White House. And those at the top will have Executive Privilege.

Get over it. Bush is no longer the President. In a year and a half, running against Bush will be a losing proposition for any Democrat in a swing or Red district.
4.23.2009 5:09pm
geokstr (mail):

Seems like the de facto sponsor of the Tea Parties was Fox News. Fox News (as a whole) has been historically anti-gay marriage, anit-legalization of Marijuana, and otherwise generally socially conservative, pro-Iraq war, etc.

Hard to call that grass-roots, Libertarian, or anything of the sort.

Seems like you've bought into the Democrat spin.

The "tea parties" started to take root in mid February, long before the ebil debbil Fox started getting behind them. They were begun by ordinary grass roots folks, many of whom had never even considered this kind of political action before, and then it spread through the blogosphere and took on a life of its own. After all, it's not like the right has a salaried professional protestor occupation like the Democrats developed with ACORN, the Black Liberation Army, the Weather Underground and the like.

Sure the Republican establishment tried to get in on it after the fact, but so what? A number of Republicans who tried to speak at them were roundly booed.

I know that the left would like to believe that there is no real opposition to the forced socialization of the entire economy with the mortgage crisis they were a big part of causing as the prime excuse. But it ain't so.
4.23.2009 5:09pm
Oren:

If the government chose to ignore my marriage of 29 years tomorrow, I could care less. But then again, I'm secure enough about my relationship with my wife--and about myself--that I don't need an official stamp of approval.

For someone that doesn't care about an official stamp, you seem to be pretty adamant that some people not get it.

Incidentally, I second your 14A argument -- SSM by legislature (as in VT and CT) is much preferable (and not counter-productive, as in CA).
4.23.2009 5:10pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
This is what I see as the result of the fight for the soul of the Republican party that is going on right now:
- fiscal conservatism
- smaller government
- clean government
- strong defense and foreign policy
- pro-business climate

Some additional possibilities
- Pro-life. This doesn't seem as burning an issue right now, but...
- immigration - protecting our borders

I think that some of these fit well into libertarianism, while others do not. But they fit a lot better than what the Democrats are supplying right now.
4.23.2009 5:14pm
geokstr (mail):

Third, it will be impossible to keep this issue (so-called torture) going for the next year and a half. Despite a lot of wishful thinking, no one is going to jail over this.

Perhaps not, but the personal and financial destruction of those they disagree with will be enough to satisfy the left for now (until the re-education camps can be set up.)

And the whole thing serves as a handy distraction while the economy is being radically restructured.
4.23.2009 5:16pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

For someone that doesn't care about an official stamp, you seem to be pretty adamant that some people not get it.
I actually care more about the destruction to judicial honesty that homosexuals are forcing than I care about the result.

Do I think SSM is good public policy? No, but that's one bad policy, and if a legislature passes it, they can revoke it later.

What worries is where this "any provision of the constitution means what a tiny minority wants it to mean" takes us. I want to think really, really hard, about what would happen if social conservatives ever gained control of the courts. (Admittedly, not likely to happen, as long as Republicans and Democrats do the appointing.)

Imagine a state supreme court that finds that there is a right to live in a society where homosexuals are required to be closeted. What? Absurd? Sure. But no more absurd than concluding that due process or equal protection clauses written at a time when homosexuality was a FELONY everywhere, now prohibit the voters from passing a uniform statewide law prohibiting local antidiscrimination ordinances.

Now, I'm sure that you can justify this because the ends justify the means--which is always the rationalization of tyrants. The cycle will turn, and some day you will regret this destruction of the constitution just so that you can feel normal.
4.23.2009 5:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hayden:

it appears that these techniques may have helped prevent an attack on LA


It appears that you believe in time travel.
4.23.2009 5:32pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Incidentally, I second your 14A argument -- SSM by legislature (as in VT and CT) is much preferable (and not counter-productive, as in CA).
I wasn't happy about either VT or CT, but the legislators did it; if the voters aren't happy about it, they can vote them out.
4.23.2009 5:33pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):

First, it appears that these techniques may have helped prevent an attack on LA. Sure, most of us wouldn't miss the city, but.. then again, I am not a fan of NYC either, but was irate about it being hit on 9/11.



We need much more evidence to support that claim.


Secondly, the same Democratic leadership in Congress that is screaming right now KNEW about it all along.



Well DUH! Did anyone wonder why they have been dragging their feet and wimping out on the prospect of prosecuting Bush? It wasn't because they had second thoughts. It was because they were as complicit as hell and tried to prolong this as much as possible. There is going to be plenty of collateral damage on the Dem side of the isle. It's going to be fun!

Signed Mike, The True(r) Libertarian.
4.23.2009 5:33pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Well DUH! Did anyone wonder why they have been dragging their feet and wimping out on the prospect of prosecuting Bush? It wasn't because they had second thoughts. It was because they were as complicit as hell and tried to prolong this as much as possible. There is going to be plenty of collateral damage on the Dem side of the isle. It's going to be fun!
Except that it won't be fun. The news media will almost entirely ignore Democrat involvement, and do their best to ignore the circumstances that led to it. For a generation who is too young to remember those events clearly, this will be more proof that Republicans are evil creatures that like to inflict suffering on innocent parties for no reason whatsoever.
4.23.2009 5:40pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Mr Cramer, would you miss things like intestate inheritance rules, spousal health care coverage, and other legal/economic incidents of marriage?
4.23.2009 5:42pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):
History clearly demonstrates that very few Republicans are actually "small government" believers. It's which parts of government get big that is the difference.
4.23.2009 5:46pm
geokstr (mail):

History clearly demonstrates that very few Republicans are actually "small government" believers. It's which parts of government get big that is the difference.

It demonstrates no such thing. People who believe in small government, at least the ones who don't call themselves libertarians, are known as conservatives. We make up a reasonably large minority of those who vote Republican. But when it boils right down to it, most of us who vote for Republicans do so because the other side is just too awful to contemplate, as we are beginning to have confirmed for us. We are never a large enough bloc to actually influence many candidate selections though.

Conservatives were extremely disappointed with Reagan's failure to shut down a number of departments as he had promised in his campaign, and also in his failure to hold down spending. We also were extremely critical of Bush's spending, the huge increase in government under his watch, the prescription drug program, his amnesty for illegals and many other neo-liberal causes he espoused.

Compassionate conservatism was just that - neo-liberalism. I always wondered why Democrats had such pathological hatred for him, since he betrayed us as often as he did things they didn't like. Must have been his Selection in 2000 or something.

I'm hoping the tea parties actually lead to something, if not a shift in the Republican Party then a new party that I can at least believe in.
4.23.2009 6:07pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
jeff:

For most of Bush's second term his approval ratings were below the percentage of registered Republicans. Which means even his own party didn't like him.


At no time during Bush's first or second term did his approval rating among Republicans drop much below about 65%. So some in "his own party didn't like him" but most did. All the way until the bitter end.

=================
sonic:

We need much more evidence to support that claim.


That's putting it mildly. It's not that we need more evidence to support the claim. It's that the claim has been proven false.
4.23.2009 6:17pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

I want to think really, really hard, about what would happen if social conservatives ever gained control of the courts.

Bowers v. Hardwick

(Admittedly, not likely to happen, as long as Republicans and Democrats do the appointing.)

One only has to look at Palin's nominee for state AG. The only reason AK's SC isn't batshit insane is because she can only choose from a list from a nominating commission.
4.23.2009 6:18pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):
Failed nominee, I forgot to add, by a bipartisan vote.
4.23.2009 6:20pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Mr Cramer, would you miss things like intestate inheritance rules, spousal health care coverage, and other legal/economic incidents of marriage.
No. Wills solve the first problem (and are a good idea even if you are married).

Right now, my wife is covered under her employer, and I'm on COBRA continuation. My employer, back when I had a full-time job, provided domestic partners coverage, even though there was no legal requirement to do so.

I don't buy the argument that SSM is required. Nearly everything that married couples have, unmarried couples can have as well, with a slight increase in paperwork. The only significant difference is a slight income tax advantage--and I mean slight. Unless one party is staying home, and the other is working, the gain isn't dramatic.

If it wasn't for the desperate clawing need that homosexuals have for approval so that they don't feel so weird, they wouldn't be pushing this so hard that it offends and angers people that don't much care about homosexuality at all.
4.23.2009 6:24pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

The only significant difference is a slight income tax advantage--and I mean slight.

I presume you would be willing to donate into a fund to equalize this disparity?
4.23.2009 6:26pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):



I want to think really, really hard, about what would happen if social conservatives ever gained control of the courts.




Bowers v. Hardwick
How many Democratic appointees were on that Court?

They simply upheld what has been the status quo for CENTURIES: the authority of the government to pass laws regulating sexual behavior. Are such laws wise, necessary, or useful? I don't think so. But there has NEVER been any serious question as to whether the states had the authority to pass such laws until very, very recently.
4.23.2009 6:26pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

If it wasn't for the desperate clawing need that homosexuals have for approval so that they don't feel so weird, they wouldn't be pushing this so hard

Psst: the secret is lube, lots and lots of lube.
4.23.2009 6:27pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):


I'm trying to come up with a term, ala "astro-turf", for the sort of faux-libertarian posturing which i perceived in a bunch of the "tea-party-ers"; while referring to 'em as "tea-baggers" is amusing, in a sort of sophomoric way, I'll leave that stuff to P.J. O'Rourke, Rush, and Coltier.

. . . but I've noticed that strain of "libertarianism", going back to my law school days at USC, when and where it appeared to me to be largely a product of the objection of the affluent to the tax rates, and government interference in their God-given right to exploit. I began really to smell a rat when I noticed the predominance, in those days, of Libertarian Party candidates from big, often government subsidized business; my recollection is that the Libertarian candidate for governor, one year was an ARCO executive.

The most egregious example I remember, from later, was the ex-husband of a client of mine, who styled himself a "libertarian tax resister", and therefore didn't file tax returns.

EXCEPT he worked as an engineer for a major defense contractor.

Who, of course, duly filed a w-2 for him,

which the IRS duly took, and calculated the tax from, allowing him no deductions or exemptions, because he had claimed none,

and to which they then duly added the "failure to file" penalty,

and which they thereafter reduced to a lien, duly noting his house address from the "statement of home mortgage interest paid" from his mortgage lender. . .
4.23.2009 6:34pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I presume you would be willing to donate into a fund to equalize this disparity?
Why should I? Just because your homosexual doesn't mean that I have any obligation to make you feel better. I don't ask you to make me feel better.

When I was young, the argument that homosexuals advanced was that they had a privacy right to do what they wanted in private. I agreed with that, even though I now know that this "privacy right" was manufactured out of smoke and mirrors by Griswold (with the famous dictum about laws against homosexuality being unaffected).

Homosexuals used to want to be left alone. Now they want to oppress those who don't approve. You should have quit while you were ahead. But depravity can't ever leave well enough alone, and stay under its rock.
4.23.2009 6:34pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
History clearly demonstrates that very few Republicans are actually "small government" believers. It's which parts of government get big that is the difference
This may have been a viable point back when Defense was a big chunk of the budget. But any more?

I would ask you which non-defense programs in the government get even a 50% approval rating in the Republican party in general, and in particular with the "small government" branch thereof.
4.23.2009 6:38pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I presume you would be willing to donate into a fund to equalize this disparity?
Are you willing to donate into a fund to pay for the enormous increase in health care costs, research, and enhanced blood bank screening caused by homosexuals who changed sexual partner more often than they changed their socks?
4.23.2009 6:42pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

. . but I've noticed that strain of "libertarianism", going back to my law school days at USC, when and where it appeared to me to be largely a product of the objection of the affluent to the tax rates, and government interference in their God-given right to exploit.
As distinguished from that far more noble desire to exploit taxpayers for the benefit of Wall Street, that the Democrats are so big on.


I began really to smell a rat when I noticed the predominance, in those days, of Libertarian Party candidates from big, often government subsidized business; my recollection is that the Libertarian candidate for governor, one year was an ARCO executive.
If you mean Ed Clark, he was an attorney for them, not an executive.

Yes, you can find hypocrites almost everywhere, in every political movement. But you might want to spend some time actually talking to people at these tea parties. The one that I attended in Boise was quite startling. I suspect that if I wasn't the richest person there, I was almost certainly th second richest. If Democrats weren't the party of lawyers and Wall Street business chiselers like Madoff and Stanford, a lot of the crowd that showed up in Boise would be Democrats.
4.23.2009 6:46pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
The core Republicans, at the moment, have a much more damaging issue to reckon with. They will have to reconcile their position on torture... oh, sorry, enhanced interrogation techniques, before they will start getting any new movement toward respectability and be able to increase the strength of the party. The latest developments are killing them.
WSJ article today: Presidential Poison: His invitation to indict Bush officials will haunt Obama's Presidency. on why it would be hurt the Democrats in the end to pursue this vendetta against the Bush (43) attorneys and Administration.
4.23.2009 6:47pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
. . . but I've noticed that strain of "libertarianism", going back to my law school days at USC, when and where it appeared to me to be largely a product of the objection of the affluent to the tax rates, and government interference in their God-given right to exploit. I began really to smell a rat when I noticed the predominance, in those days, of Libertarian Party candidates from big, often government subsidized business; my recollection is that the Libertarian candidate for governor, one year was an ARCO executive.
Not "affluent", but higher salaried. Most of the rich have never paid what almost anyone would consider their fair share of taxes. Rather, the people who do pay those high taxes are mostly the ones who have W-2s so that the IRS can nail them regardless. And just because that engineer worked for a defense contractor doesn't mean that he was rich or a high wage earner. Indeed, your suggestion that it is illegitimate to protest paying taxes when you work for a defense contractor is extremely weak.
4.23.2009 6:52pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Indeed, your suggestion that it is illegitimate to protest paying taxes when you work for a defense contractor is extremely weak.
Protest is one thing; refusing to pay them is another. The first is free speech; refusing to pay taxes for your share of the society's legitimate expenses is not okay to me. (Admittedly, "legitimate expenses" are dramatically less than we are now spending to enrich Bush and Obama's Wall Street buddies.) But when you are getting money from the government, and refusing to pay taxes, my sympathy drops very quickly.

You are correct, however, that much of libertarian sentiment comes from people who, because they aren't obscenely rich Democrats, have to actually pay income taxes.
4.23.2009 7:19pm
hattio1:
A previous commenter says


One only has to look at Palin's nominee for state AG. The only reason AK's SC isn't batshit insane is because she can only choose from a list from a nominating commission.


Well,
Except the AG isn't on the Alaska Supreme Court and she is just now getting a first opportunity to pick a replacement on the Supreme Court. But, your point is taken.
4.23.2009 7:30pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):
But when it boils right down to it, most of us who vote for Republicans do so because the other side is just too awful to contemplate,


...which is why, even in the face of the obvious, that Bush and a majority of the Republican legislators in Congress were not by any means small government conservatives, you, instead of showing that you have any small govt / sound fiscal principles and not voting for them, you towed the party line and voted for them anyway. You justified it because they shared your moral values and supposed strong national defense.

In six years of Execu-Legislative control, Republicans couldn't find the will to cut anything, but they sure could find the will to wrestle themselves out of bed in the middle of the night and pass emergency legislation to interfere with the medical outcome of one single person, the brain dead Terri Schiavo. Face it, in the current Conservative movement. social issues flat out trump fiscal responsibility. Actions have spoken louder than words. Conservatives are at this point now because you cared more about rescuing a veggie girl than you did about balancing the budget. You're just beginning to get what you deserve.

And the Dems will have their day too.

PS. Yes, I'm a former Republican, and yes, I'm a bit bitter.
4.23.2009 7:58pm
BT:
Just to add to the list above, I never understood the left's hatred of Nixon. Afterall he gave us OSHA, The EPA, EEOC, price controls, etc. So much for small government beliefs. He falls into a long line of R presidents like Bush 2 that expanded the federal government.

Also where were the Tea Partiers the last 8 years? The sad fact is that neither party is for small government and neither will do what is takes to radically change and reduce Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Defense spending, which if I understand things correctly, make up the bulk of federal spending.
4.23.2009 8:00pm
josil (mail):
It is delusional to think that Republicans can win without social conservatives. Libertarians who favor open borders, same sex marriage,and on demand abortion are small in number...although well represented here. If you're looking for the mass of cultural liberals they can be located in the same party that believes government is the solution for almost every economic problem.
4.23.2009 8:09pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Also where were the Tea Partiers the last 8 years?
Annoyed that Congress kept spending money like drunken sailors--but compared to what has happened since last September, that was nothing!
4.23.2009 8:11pm
MCM (mail):
Same-sex marriage, at least, will probably decline in importance as old people die off.
4.23.2009 8:12pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
BT:

While I don't speak for "the left," especially the left before I was political, I would guess that back in the day, the left disliked Nixon because of his long history as a red-baiter, his unnecessary prolonging of the Vietnam war (including illegal expansion into Cambodia), the "enemies" list and related retaliation against domestic enemies, and the illegal and deeply disturbing and immoral acts that are lumped together under the term "Watergate." The fact that the Republican Party has turned much more right-wing since Nixon and Ford doesn't change any of that.
4.23.2009 8:33pm
Public_Defender (mail):

The Republican alternative budget could be considered a somewhat radical experiment in libertarianism, dramatically slashing taxes while promising to balance budgets — an achievement that would only be possible if the size of the government were cut enormously.

Wasn't this the plan of Ronald Reagan, George Bush I, and George Bush II? Didn't work out so well, did it?
4.23.2009 8:35pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
The Republican alternative budget could be considered a somewhat radical experiment in libertarianism, dramatically slashing taxes while promising to balance budgets — an achievement that would only be possible if the size of the government were cut enormously
Wasn't this the plan of Ronald Reagan, George Bush I, and George Bush II? Didn't work out so well, did it?
Obviously not GHWB (41), which is part of why he lost the support of a lot of Republicans. And his son didn't do much better - he cut taxes but raised spending and locked in another entitlement program that we didn't need.

You seem to be suggesting that since the two George Bushes failed here, that it was either impossible or not the right choice. But I would suggest that it was their selling out that was the problem.

The problem is that it is getting harder and harder to cut the size of the government very much, and Obama seems to be trying to make it even harder. This is because so much of the government spending is now locked in as entitlements.
4.23.2009 9:14pm
trad and anon (mail):
This may have been a viable point back when Defense was a big chunk of the budget. But any more?

In 2008, DoD and related agencies made up about 21% of the federal budget. That's not as much as it was during the Cold War, but it's still a big chunk.

The numbers change a bit if you include off-budget spending in the calculations, since the Iraq War and the various bailouts and stimulus packages have been funded entirely off-budget.
4.23.2009 9:15pm
Duracomm (mail):
IPLawyer said,

How convenient. Where were these people between 2000 and 2008?
A fair amount of them could be found at groups like the club for growth.

Club for Growth is a national network of thousands of Americans, from all walks of life, who believe that prosperity and opportunity come through economic freedom.

The primary tactic of the separate Club for Growth PAC is to provide financial support from Club members to viable pro-growth candidates to Congress, particularly in Republican primaries.
Thye work hard to get rid of the republican spending hypocrites by running candidates against them in the primaries. Jeff Flake and Tom Coburn are two of the candidates they supported.

They strongly opposed the bush spending binge including the medicare prescription drug entitlement.
4.23.2009 9:39pm
geokstr (mail):

sonicfrog:
But when it boils right down to it, most of us who vote for Republicans do so because the other side is just too awful to contemplate,

...which is why, even in the face of the obvious, that Bush and a majority of the Republican legislators in Congress were not by any means small government conservatives, you, instead of showing that you have any small govt / sound fiscal principles and not voting for them, you towed the party line and voted for them anyway. You justified it because they shared your moral values and supposed strong national defense.

Nice try but no cigar.

You must have ignored every friggin other thing I said in my comment to pull that one line out. Conservatives do not make up a majority of the Republican party, and generally do not get to pick the candidates. But we then have the choice to either sit out elections, handing the election to a party that we totally disagree with, or hold our noses and vote for "compassionate conservatives" - liberal lite, and hope for the best.

The benefit that the left has now is that leftism is basically a religion that everyone over there believes in, and so is more united. You even have the entire indoctrination machinery churning out new little leftists from the so-called educational system, and get those attitudes re-inforced by the acolytes in the media.

Nothing will change in this one way rachet to collectivism untile something cataclysmic happens.
4.23.2009 9:41pm
Strict:

The SSM battle is about getting an official statement of approval for people that seem to need an official statement of approval to feel okay about themselves.



Why should I? Just because your homosexual doesn't mean that I have any obligation to make you feel better. I don't ask you to make me feel better.


Clayton,

Just because you are ignorant of the benefits of SSM to the parties of such a marriage does not mean that there aren't benefits other than "feeling good."

Moreover, what do YOU have to do with any of this? No one is asking YOU to bless their same sex marriage. Just because the law allows something doesn't mean that every individual now has some "obligation." Your egocentricism is ridiculous. YOU don't have to do anything.

This is typical: SSM imposes some fictional "burden" on everyone, yet no one can explain what exactly that burden is.

I don't think this is necessary, but I'd like to include a disclosure - I'm not gay, and I used to be indifferent towards or mildly against gay marriage. I used to think it was a "fringe" political issue, and not really all that important. But I have yet to see any STRONG arguments against it, compared to the many strong arguments for it. Yours is typically weak ["SSM is bad because it's just about making gays feel good about themselves, and nothing more."].
4.23.2009 9:44pm
Loophole (mail):
It would be extremely difficult to be less libertarian than the statist regime of the prior 8 years.
4.23.2009 9:46pm
Allan Walstad (mail):

Much of the GOP's current support for free markets is a function of the federal government's having come under the control of the Democrats.

That nails it.

As for same sex marriage, the libertarian position all along would have been to keep government out of the business of defining marriage. Let the government enforce contracts, including those governing domestic relationships. Let people call their domestic relationships whatever they want. Instead, we have this distracting struggle between organized groups to control the government's definition of marriage. Very similar to the political struggle over what will be taught in schools, precisely because and to the extent that primary and secondary education are a socialist monopoly.
4.23.2009 9:48pm
rosetta's stones:
I have the one true moderate position. Let gay married couples live happily together, with a closetful of fully automatic weapons, a 4% flat tax, driving a full size SUV or two, with a new nuke plant on the other side of town powering their home.

Oh, and loser pays in all tort cases. ;-)
4.23.2009 10:28pm
Perseus (mail):
Just because you are ignorant of the benefits of SSM to the parties of such a marriage does not mean that there aren't benefits other than "feeling good."

Since it is unlikely that a majority of gays will get married during their lifetimes, SSM arguably is more about the struggle for recognition.

Just because the law allows something doesn't mean that every individual now has some "obligation."

The marriage contract imposes a long list of obligations on third parties (e.g., taxpayers, businesses, landlords, hospitals, etc.).

Whether the Party changes its long term orientation away from social conservatism remains to be seen. I suspect there will be strict limits to any such movement, because the GOP cannot afford to completely alienate its social conservative base.

Exactly. Libertarians have yet to demonstrate that they can become anything more than a modest faction in either major political party in the U.S.
4.24.2009 12:22am
Strict:

Just because you are ignorant of the benefits of SSM to the parties of such a marriage does not mean that there aren't benefits other than "feeling good."

Since it is unlikely that a majority of gays will get married during their lifetimes, SSM arguably is more about the struggle for recognition.


Why do you say it's unlikely? And why is the percentage of gays who would get married relevant anyway?

Are rights only important when a 50%+ majority exercises them?

It doesn't matter whether SSM is "more about" actual rights or symbolic recognition. SSM simply entails more benefits than "feeling good."
4.24.2009 12:55am
Randy R. (mail):
Clayton:"If it wasn't for the desperate clawing need that homosexuals have for approval so that they don't feel so weird, they wouldn't be pushing this so hard that it offends and angers people that don't much care about homosexuality at all."

Yeah, sorta like all those people who wanted interracial marriage. The Lovings could have just shacked up without marriage, but Noooooo! They clawed their way to SCOTUS just for their own ego. And they didn't care *who* they angered in the process!

But I am glad at least there is a dialogue within thee GOP--continue the gay bashing, or move on? It's clearer and clearer that all the gay-basing was just a technique to win votes, and certainly had little to do with principle. Young people are realizing that more and more, and this is one of the reason the GOP has lost an entire generation.

So, please Clayton and Perseus -- continue in your misinformation and keep up the fight! I hope that you are very influential within the GOP, because with supporters like you, the party is doomed for a generation.
4.24.2009 1:24am
sonicfrog (mail) (www):

But we then have the choice to either sit out elections, handing the election to a party that we totally disagree with, or hold our noses and vote for "compassionate conservatives" - liberal lite, and hope for the best.



By holding your noses and voting for liberal lite, you all but guaranteed an Obama victory, your worst nightmare (apparently). The correct choice is to sit out the election let the non-conservative conservatives lose, which opens the way for the "proper" type of conservative to rise and take their place.

Unless, of course, my theory is correct, and the "true conservative", the one you're so desperately looking for, is for the most part, not electable. That would certainly explain why no one has emerged so far that will fit the bill. And that is why you settle for damaging prospects like Bush, DeLay, Santorum, et al. and, like Rush, Hannity, and Levin, worship the myth of Ronald Reagan instead of the man.

(Looks like I'm throwin' down the gauntlet on this one)
4.24.2009 1:48am
bloodstar (mail) (www):
This would have been jvarisco in 1960:

Giving up on the values vote sounds like a great idea for the party.

Do these guys realize that 2/3 of the population as a whole (including Democrats!) opposes interracial marriage? Taking positions that really annoy your base AND that are politically unpopular is clearly the way to win back Congress.


I suppose you'll tell us that opening the door for interracial marriages was the gateway for the push for Same Sex Marriage? You need some make up, your Bigotry is showing
4.24.2009 2:24am
bloodstar (mail) (www):
And no, The Republican party will never get my vote until they stop drinking the Kool-aide. I'll drink Libertarian Kool-aide before I ever believe anything the Republicans claim again.

Start acting like real people and not like you're in an episode of 24 and maybe I'll listen.

Stop trying to demonize and maybe I'll listen. And you know I don't give a damn if some democrats did it, What is this? 3rd grade? if little johnny jumps off a cliff, would you do it too?

And last but not least, Shepard Smith Said it best on live TV. "I don't give a rat's ass if it helps. We are AMERICA! We do not fucking torture!!"

Until then, I'm done with the Republican Party.
4.24.2009 2:32am
Maureen001 (mail):
Wow. Silly me. I never thought of any political party being static on issues. I thought the members of the party formulated the positions of the party through the election of leaders and establishment of a party platform. All these posts have shown me how wrong I've been all this time, and that the parties' stances on issues were determined long ago and far away.

I also thought conservatives (and their extremes, reactionaries) favored small government, strong defense, and low taxes. I thought liberals (and their extremes, progressives) favored big government, dialog/mediation over strong defense, and taxes to pay for it all. I thought there were members of both parties who fell into both categories (that "big tent" President Reagan talked about). But all that seems to have changed in recent times with the emphasis on social issues. "Liberal" is now synonymous with "Democrat" and "conservative" is synonymous with "Republican". Of course that has left a huge number of us left out with no real political representation. What has happened, for example, to all those "Reagan Democrats"?

Libertarians, I also thought in my deluded state, were much more constitutionalists than either the Dem or Repub parties. The biggest problem I've seen with Libertarians is, although they are terrific at pointing out where we ought to be and how far we've strayed, they really have no feasible plan to get us back on track. But now I see from these posts that they are really just rabble-rousing Fox News viewing conservatives in disguise. I'm so glad this was made clear! I foolishly thought all those other 600 people at the Seal Beach tax day rally with me were just sick to death of the government at ALL levels sticking their hands into our pockets againandagainandagain ad nauseum. I was singing along, loud and clear in my ignorance "It ain't your money to spend!" when I should have been singing Hannity's theme song or something.

Such wisdom! Such an exchange of intellectual discourse!

Such name-calling. Such talking points. Such is the state of politics in this country, and what passes for sagacity.

People -- PEOPLE -- have been watching nonsense like this being passed off as political debate; for the most part people have kept themselves remote from the razor's slash of social engineering by government, popping in with a vote for or against using law as a force against religion (SSM vs. civil union) from time to time, or burning down the telephone lines to elected officials over for-and-against arguments for illegal immigration. But now it's pocketbook time. What's been going on in Washington for way too long has taken a giant leap down the socialist trail, and the price tag is staggering. Since government will not protect us and our offspring and our offspring's offspring, we're going to have to do it ourselves. So write off these grassroots tea parties at your own peril...or don't. We're looking out for ourselves, which is as it should be when government goes so very wrong.
4.24.2009 2:35am
Perseus (mail):
keep up the fight!

You betcha!
4.24.2009 3:21am
BGates:
It would be extremely difficult to be less libertarian than the statist regime of the prior 8 years.

Yet Obama makes it look so easy.

Start acting like real people and not like you're in an episode of 24

Wasn't that the show with the courageous, principled black president who worked tirelessly to save America?

Who thinks we're in an episode of that?
4.24.2009 5:12am
Arkady:
@Clayton


My employer, back when I had a full-time job


I was wondering why the quantity of CC's posts had gone up dramatically. Godspeed, Goddamnquicklyspeed, on getting a full-time gig, Clayton.
4.24.2009 6:37am
MCM (mail):
Giving up on the values vote sounds like a great idea for the party.

Do these guys realize that 2/3 of the population as a whole (including Democrats!) opposes gay marriage? Taking positions that really annoy your base AND that are politically unpopular is clearly the way to win back Congress.


That's a 2004 number. Opposition to same-sex marriage is under 50% in more recent polls.

Opposition to same-sex marriage is strongly correlated to age, as well, so you can expect opposition to drop further.
4.24.2009 7:40am
Public_Defender (mail):

You seem to be suggesting that since the two George Bushes failed here, that it was either impossible or not the right choice. But I would suggest that it was their selling out that was the problem.

The problem is that it is getting harder and harder to cut the size of the government very much, and Obama seems to be trying to make it even harder. This is because so much of the government spending is now locked in as entitlements.


They said that if we cut taxes revenue would magically increase, and then scoffed at the "static" models that said that lower taxes meant lower revenues.

Any proposal that says we will cut taxes and then find undetermined spending to cut is dishonest. It's perfectly fair to argue for less government, but Republicans have been too afraid to say what they want to cut, and then unwilling to make hard choices to cut things their constituents want.

When it comes to promises of cutting government, Republicans have lost the right not to provide specifics.
4.24.2009 8:18am
sonicfrog (mail) (www):
And BTW, Bobby Jindahl (sp) seems to be doing a pretty good job in LA. Would he be Presidential material? Don't know. He has a few more years of seasoning in office, and lets face it, the bar was set pretty darned low by his predecessor.
4.24.2009 9:14am
geokstr (mail):

Public_Defender:
They said that if we cut taxes revenue would magically increase, and then scoffed at the "static" models that said that lower taxes meant lower revenues.

Hey don't let the fact that lowering tax rates, every time it's been tried, has actually led to increased revenues in the medium term interfere with your beliefs. This is not to be confused with lowering taxes in the Obamamian sense, where you give money you don't even have to people who don't even pay taxes.

Any proposal that says we will cut taxes and then find undetermined spending to cut is dishonest. It's perfectly fair to argue for less government, but Republicans have been too afraid to say what they want to cut, and then unwilling to make hard choices to cut things their constituents want.

Agreed, but why do you suppose they're so afraid? Could it be that every time they did, the entire leftwing media PR machine would rise up against them, accusing them of being heartless Nazi bigots who want, for example, old people to choose between the prescriptions that keep them alive and starving to death?

Oh wait, I seem to have chosen the only instance where they didn't do that.


When it comes to promises of cutting government, Republicans have lost the right not to provide specifics.

Again, because any "specifics" will be met with howls of "Off with their heads" by you and everyone else on your team, which includes 98% of the media, all of academia, and all of HolyWood; in other words, the entire opinion making machinery in the country.

Instead of honest debate, we get a shouting match where we give our side and the left engages in the politics of personal destruction with the biggest megaphone on the planet.
4.24.2009 9:18am
geokstr (mail):

MCM:
Opposition to same-sex marriage is strongly correlated to age, as well, so you can expect opposition to drop further.

In the past, societal pressure caused most gays to stay in the closet, and it was difficult to find other gays. Many, if not most, denying their own preferences, actually tried to live the straight life, marrying and having children. Since the 1970's, increased acceptance has allowed them to be gay quite openly. Finding partners was made much easier, and the push for SSM began.

If there is a "gay gene", it would have been passed on in this way. Now that gays are pairing up together, there is no way to pass on any genetic traits. Perhaps as the opposition to same-sex marriage drops off due to the old intolerant fogeys dying off, the demand for SSM will begin to dry up as well as all the carriers of the gene go with them.

Unless of course, recruitment of pre-pubescents accelerates, where I think the resistance will go up a thousand-fold in that case, because it will then be proven that homosexuality is just a preference.

Be careful what you wish for; unintended consequences have a tendency to bite even the self-righteous in the ass.
4.24.2009 9:38am
Strict:

Instead of honest debate, we get a shouting match where we give our side and the left engages in the politics of personal destruction with the biggest megaphone on the planet.


BOTH major parties engage in personal attacks. I don't think we have to rehash the 2008 Presidential Election here, but if you don't remember the personal attacks on Obama [as opposed to attacks on his proposed policies], then you must have a very short memory.

Republicans aren't attacked for the very IDEA of wanting to cut government programs, they are attacked for WHICH programs they want to cut. It's about priorities. Republicans want to cut pre-school funding nationwide in order to purchase a single extra F-22, while Democrats may want to cut military spending in order to fund more schools [or raise or maintain taxes in order to buy that fighter and fund those schools].

The media can make the Republicans look bad. But when the Republicans are openly mocking environmentalism, civil rights, public education, and infrastructure development, what do you expect? People care about these things.

When Bobby Jindal says that the problem with Hurricane Katrina was that there was TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT involved, nobody can take that seriously. There was government negligence in allowing the levees to deteriorate, and there was a dangerous delay in the federal response in the rescue efforts. Nobody needs a left-wing media to make Jindal look bad on that issue.
4.24.2009 9:47am
Strict:

If there is a "gay gene", it would have been passed on in this way. Now that gays are pairing up together, there is no way to pass on any genetic traits.


This is amazing.

I guess this is the toll that the "Republican War on Science" has taken.
4.24.2009 9:52am
iowan (mail):
Those that I talk to that vote republican do so because we cant vote democrate. Anyway on abortion we want our elected to support life when voting on legislation, not spend anytime trying to change a SCOTUS decission, Just appoint good judges. We dont give a whit about gays getting married. We Care to the point of marching in protest to have gay marriage shoved down our throat by the courts. We Didn't much like GWB and desperatly want smaller govt
4.24.2009 10:01am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
geo:

because any "specifics" will be met with howls of "Off with their heads" by you and everyone else on your team, which includes 98% of the media, all of academia, and all of HolyWood; in other words, the entire opinion making machinery in the country.


You're basically admitting that the true positions of the GOP are positions that the GOP knows most Americans would not find appealing (and that's why the GOP is withholding "specifics"). If the GOP had confidence that their message (including "specifics") was generally appealing to voters, they would spell out that message, and trust that voters would embrace it. Because if the message was appealing to voters, it wouldn't matter what the (alleged) "opinion making machinery" thought of that message. And Fox, Rush, Sean, Bill et al certainly provide ample channels to spread the message.

You're basically admitting that the GOP has very low confidence in the appeal of their message. And/or you're admitting the GOP has a very low opinion of the public. They view the public as not being able to think for themselves, and instead just think what they are told to think by the "opinion making machinery."

Which is an ironic case of projection. Because there are signs that people who prefer to avoid thinking for themselves tend to be Republicans.
4.24.2009 10:12am
Stormy Dragon (mail) (www):
No. Wills solve the first problem (and are a good idea even if you are married).

You've obviously never seen what happens when someone writes a will giving everything to 'the wrong person' and the family decides to fight it.
4.24.2009 10:13am
iowan (mail):
Strict, you're right.

I do want to totaly eliminate ALL federal programs for pre-school. Reading scores have gone down since the inseption of Head Start. I want bad programs ended.

I believe the Federal govt should spend money for our defense.
4.24.2009 10:19am
Cornellian (mail):
Opposition to same-sex marriage is strongly correlated to age, as well, so you can expect opposition to drop further.

Nate Silver did some interesting number crunching on this issue recently. He said support for SSM bans was dropping by about 2% per year and calculated that the issue, once a vote winner for the Republicans, would pass a tipping point sometime, if I recall correctly, around 2010-2012 and become a vote loser for them. Obviously, the exact year will vary from one state to another.
4.24.2009 10:35am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Yeah, sorta like all those people who wanted interracial marriage. The Lovings could have just shacked up without marriage, but Noooooo! They clawed their way to SCOTUS just for their own ego. And they didn't care *who* they angered in the process!
Actually, no, the Lovings didn't have that option. And you know it. Virginia did not just refuse to recognize the Lovings marriage; it threatened them with prison if they didn't leave Virginia. If homosexuals get "married" the response of states like Idaho and California is...so what?

Loving was about the threat of imprisonment; your demand that the state recognize your marriage is about forcing the state (and third parties) to grant you benefits. Since the primary reason that the state cares about marriage (child custody) does not apply to homosexual marriages, there's no strong argument for the state recognizing such unions. And it isn't like SSM is a free rider on an institution that exists for the benefit of the majority of marriages that produce children.
4.24.2009 11:14am
Jam:
The problem is that in today's political definitions to require the Federal government that the Consitution be followed to the letter is to be called a libertarian.
4.24.2009 11:33am
Randy R. (mail):
Actually, Clayton, you keep forgetting (and yes, you know it), that many gay couples DO have children. Therefore, the state has an interest in recognizing their marriage.

And if Loving were just because of jail, then why did they actually get married in the end? I guess it was just about the benefits, and had nothing to do with two people getting married.

BTW, Mrs. Loving, shortly before she died, came out in favor of gay marriage,and said that her fight was the fight to marry the person that you love.

But what does she know about her own case? Clayton, obviously you needed to tell update her on her own intentions.....
4.24.2009 11:42am
ArthurKirkland:
Reading scores have gone down since the inseption of Head Start. I want bad programs ended.

Some good programs might be helpful.

At a broader level, I hope Republicans find their footing and become a contributing factor in our government, not only as a check on Democrats but also because the Republican Party has (or had) some good instincts.

Fiscal restraint, for example, is good, and is an issue on which Republicans once were a good influence. I hope Republicans return to a position from which they can contribute on that issue. The difference between Clinton's record and Bush Jr.'s record makes today's Republicans dubious sources of advice on this issue, however, at least for some time. Railing against inheritance taxes is not a sound fiscal position, either.

Strong defense is another good point on which Republicans once were leaders. Brittleness and bullying have replaced strength and wisdom in this context, however, making the GOP the party of torture and the Bush administration's misadventure in Iraq (misguided invasion, botched occupation, conduct unbecoming Americans). I don't fault Americans for concluding that Republicans have lost their way on this issue, too.

"Limited government/personal freedom" was once a prominent and proud feather in the Republican cap. The War On Drugs, warrantless surveillance, the War On Christmas, government secrecy, treatment of homosexuals, and similar issues have tattered that feather.

I don't know who will inspire the Republican Party to break its self-imposes shackles; it might be people yet to emerge on that national political landscape. But I am confident those people will emerge, and the Republican Party will regain its footing. Until then, it seems difficult to forecast the directions or degree of short-term lurches. In the medium-to-long term, however, I believe the Republican Party will get its mojo back.
4.24.2009 12:16pm
rosetta's stones:

When Bobby Jindal says that the problem with Hurricane Katrina was that there was TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT involved, nobody can take that seriously. There was government negligence in allowing the levees to deteriorate, and there was a dangerous delay in the federal response in the rescue efforts. Nobody needs a left-wing media to make Jindal look bad on that issue.


Jindal is probably just another LA crook, but in this case he's got it right. Having hundreds of thousands of people living 10-20 feet below sea level, using (borrowed) federal cash to be skimmed and passed around by corrupt LA levee boards, is a recipe for disaster.

The feds don't do disaster well, but most responsible locals can and do. No problems in FL... and that beehive hairdo mayor in Corpus Cristi sure took charge, didn't she? Not in New Orleans, LA, however... too busy scrambling for those federal subsidies, I guess.

It's a river delta, and absent flooding and sedimentary replenishment, it settles about 1" every year... and that's 1" further below sea level. AND, that land is located behind an equally subsiding levee, which is ALSO dropping 1" per year. I don't believe the ocean surface is currently falling, so we lost another 1" to the sea this year. Better fire up the dozers and spread that 1" everywhere, gang, and do it again next year... and the next... and....

Only fools would have developed that area as was done. We are governed by fools, and the only questions is, are they foolish enough to move 200,000 people BACK there?
4.24.2009 1:04pm
cmr:
Actually, Clayton, you keep forgetting (and yes, you know it), that many gay couples DO have children. Therefore, the state has an interest in recognizing their marriage.

And if Loving were just because of jail, then why did they actually get married in the end? I guess it was just about the benefits, and had nothing to do with two people getting married.


None of the children are from those gay couples, though. You're hinging support of gay marriage on an argument from potential. I don't know that there's a trend (or emerging trend) of gay individuals to have spouses and children that the government needs to recognize. You're saying there's the potential for one, but I'm pretty sure that would be fallacious ground on which to build policy.

[The Lovings] had already gotten married legally in another state. It was illegal in Virginia -- their home state -- which is why the issue wasn't so much about the ability to marry as much as it was the penalization of that marriage.
4.24.2009 1:16pm
PlugInMonster:
Keep up the demonization.
4.24.2009 1:17pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):

If there is a "gay gene", it would have been passed on in this way. Now that gays are pairing up together, there is no way to pass on any genetic traits. Perhaps as the opposition to same-sex marriage drops off due to the old intolerant fogeys dying off, the demand for SSM will begin to dry up as well as all the carriers of the gene go with them.

Unless of course, recruitment of pre-pubescents accelerates, where I think the resistance will go up a thousand-fold in that case, because it will then be proven that homosexuality is just a preference.

Be careful what you wish for; unintended consequences have a tendency to bite even the self-righteous in the ass.


Except genetic traits rarely rely on a single gene. Let examine perhaps the most commonly used example of genetic inheritance - eye color. This trait is one of the best examples of dominant and recessive traits, because you can easily track the occurrence of dominant brown or recessive blue iris in a family tree. Yet, even though eye color is one of the oldest known genetic traits, scientists still have not isolated a single gene that determines this trait. Current research suggests at least six different genes are involved in eye color, but nothing is set in stone at this point.

You must also take into account that eye color is limited to just brown or blue. There are unquantifiable variations in the hue and colorings of the iris. What color exactly is hazel?

This is the same with sexual orientation. No one knows exactly which gene controls this, or what external factors play a part in SO. And it's also is not black and white or brown or blue. It's variable. Also take into account that, unlike eye color, behavioral tendencies are not obvious until express. They can be suppressed. I know many a gay man who got married to a woman, even had kids, only to find ways to cheat, and inevidably have the marriage split. These marriages are not sustainable. You cannot suppress your orientation for ever. Ask Ted Haggard, Rock Hudson, Anthony Perkins, Jim McGeervey, Larry Craig, Michael Huffington, etc. etc. etc. Allowing gay marriage would at the very least decrease the incidence of these kind of marital disasters.
4.24.2009 1:22pm
Randy R. (mail):
cmr: "None of the children are from those gay couples, though. You're hinging support of gay marriage on an argument from potential. I don't know that there's a trend (or emerging trend) of gay individuals to have spouses and children that the government needs to recognize. You're saying there's the potential for one, but I'm pretty sure that would be fallacious ground on which to build policy. "

Gay couples can and do have children naturally. Lesbians can be artificially inseminated and produce a natural child. Or, one person in the partnership has a child from a previous (heterosexual) marriage, divorced, and remarried as a gay couple (not too frequent, but it does happen).

Regardless. There many gay couples that have children, however they got them, whether it is adoption or natural birth. Don't the children of gay parents deserve the same recognition that the children of straight have? If not, why not? They didn't choose their parents, so it seems bizarre to deny them the rights of married parents just because their parents are gay.

Or isn't it all that important that children have married parents? If so, then undermines the whole 'marriage is about children' meme.
4.24.2009 1:37pm
Barnacle Bill:

And last but not least, Shepard Smith Said it best on live TV. "I don't give a rat's ass if it helps. We are AMERICA! We do not fucking torture!!"


Not quite...

A big percentage of the swing vote in this country are "Jacksonians" as described by Walter Russel Meade. They completely don't care what happens to foriegn enemies who do not themselves fight according to the rules of civilized warfare (e.g. terrorists). A lot of them got angry at the Bush administration for excessive restraint in prosecuting the Iraq war ("kill 'em all now and let God sort 'em out" is pretty much the Jacksonian definition of counter-insurgency). The so-called "torture" issue is mostly preaching to the choir on the left.
4.24.2009 2:45pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):

A big percentage of the swing vote in this country are "Jacksonians" as described by Walter Russel Meade. They completely don't care what happens to foriegn enemies who do not themselves fight according to the rules of civilized warfare (e.g. terrorists)



Numbers. I want numbers. I have a feeling there aren't as many swing voting "Jacksonians" as you think, and the majority of them are likely to reside within the Rush, Hannity, Levin wing of the Republican party.
4.24.2009 3:09pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
If the SSM discussion hasn't quite petered out yet, I have a question: what about group marriage? In particular, for those who have been outspoken in support of SSM on this blog, do you support the freedom of a man and two women--or, say, three men--to get married?
4.24.2009 3:15pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Mr. Cramer writes: "I should point out that there's nothing intrinsically libertarian about same-sex marriage."

I am not sure what this means, but there is definitely something intrinsically unlibertarian about the state denying people the right to marry persons of the same sex.
4.24.2009 3:17pm
cmr:

Gay couples can and do have children naturally. Lesbians can be artificially inseminated and produce a natural child. Or, one person in the partnership has a child from a previous (heterosexual) marriage, divorced, and remarried as a gay couple (not too frequent, but it does happen).

Regardless. There many gay couples that have children, however they got them, whether it is adoption or natural birth. Don't the children of gay parents deserve the same recognition that the children of straight have? If not, why not? They didn't choose their parents, so it seems bizarre to deny them the rights of married parents just because their parents are gay.

Or isn't it all that important that children have married parents? If so, then undermines the whole 'marriage is about children' meme.


You're still relying on potential arguments. They "can" or "may" get kids from some alternative means. The government can't rely on gay couples to have the resources, the resolve, or the wherewithal to do this with any type of regularity (like they can with a heterosexual couple having kids the old fashioned way).

And these couples aren't being denied benefits that parents have. They may not get stuff like tax privileges given to married filing jointly couples, but it's not like the government is taking away parents' rights, and marriage in that context would still be for the couple and not the child's.
4.24.2009 5:07pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):

If the SSM discussion hasn't quite petered out yet, I have a question: what about group marriage? In particular, for those who have been outspoken in support of SSM on this blog, do you support the freedom of a man and two women--or, say, three men--to get married?


Ah, the good ol' slippery slope. The usual argument used when you basically have nothing left and are grasping for straws. If some group wants to advocate for 1 on 3's, or 4 on 4's, fine. But that's not what is being discussed in this case.
4.24.2009 5:07pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):
Heck, I support multiple-marriage ( I am in polyamorous relationship), and even I recognize that there is a vast difference between changing the law from man/woman to person/person, and making polygamy legal. There are legal issues that will take a lot more study and work to accomplish. Can anyone find anything in law that actually changes because gender is removed from marriage laws? Are there any laws anywhere in the US where one party is treated different because of gender?
4.24.2009 6:45pm
Allan Walstad (mail):

Ah, the good ol' slippery slope. The usual argument used when you basically have nothing left and are grasping for straws. If some group wants to advocate for 1 on 3's, or 4 on 4's, fine. But that's not what is being discussed in this case.

Ah, the good old sneer. The usual response when you don't have any arguments left (or perhaps didn't have any in the first place).

...and even I recognize that there is a vast difference between changing the law from man/woman to person/person, and making polygamy legal.

Yes, and I suspect 50 years ago a good many people would have seen the same vast gulf between inter-racial marriage and homosexual marriage. But what vast gulf is bridged when one additional adult is brought into the relationship? If "gender is removed" from marriage laws then the definition of marriage is changed from one man and one woman to something else. If polygamous marriage is recognized then the definition of marriage is changed from one man and one woman to something else. Rather than fight over definitions, the government could recognize contractual civil unions and people could call their unions whatever they want.
4.24.2009 9:52pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):

Ah, the good old sneer. The usual response when you don't have any arguments left (or perhaps didn't have any in the first place).


A sneer is as good as anything when you come to the table with weak slippery slope arguments. Face it, you simply don't have a convincing argument against one couple of the same sex getting married to each other, which is why you expand the argument to include polygamy, an option not being advocated for by any group on the pro SSM side.
4.25.2009 2:23am
Public_Defender (mail):

Me: When it comes to promises of cutting government, Republicans have lost the right not to provide specifics.


Response: Again, because any "specifics" will be met with howls of "Off with their heads" by you and everyone else on your team, which includes 98% of the media, all of academia, and all of HolyWood; in other words, the entire opinion making machinery in the country.

Instead of honest debate, we get a shouting match where we give our side and the left engages in the politics of personal destruction with the biggest megaphone on the planet.

Then I guess your specifics just have to be good enough to win the democratic argument.
4.25.2009 7:29am
rosetta's stones:
PD,

Problem there is, the Beltway bandits show up with their specifics stapled to a welfare handout, borrowed from the Chinese, and indebting future generations. Think that cash weighs their arguments any?

People of all types will use credit like cocaine, if you can get them hooked on it. The Beltway bandits use this to grow the government.
4.25.2009 9:45am
Allan Walstad (mail):
Sonicfrog, it is perfectly valid to raise similar or analogous cases in order to probe the consistency of people's positions. My raising the issue of polygamy is not all that different from those writing in support of SSM who referred back to public attitudes against inter-racial marriage from decades ago, and how that has changed, and how presumably public attitudes against SSM will also change. Of course, it is also perfectly valid to argue against the relevance or similarity of such cases, but you just want to dismiss the whole line of discussion instead, and I think the reason is because you're uncomfortable with the implications.

Slippery slope arguments are used all the time on issues that you and might agree on strongly. You say "weak" slippery slope arguments in referring to my comments, but that's nothing more than an assertion.

By the way, I'm not raising polygamy as some sort of "horror" waiting for us at the bottom of a slippery slope, if SSM becomes generally recognized. If more than two adults want to formalize a domestic relationship, that's fine with me. I don't think mutually consenting adults should be persecuted for their sexual orientation or choice of life-partners. But I have some sympathy for people who do not want to see the word "marriage" legally hijacked to mean something that it doesn't mean to them, that it didn't mean before, that thereby equates an activity they find repugnant with ancient institution that they cherish. That's why I have been promoting the idea of the government recognizing and enforcing contractual civil unions, which the parties thereto are free to call whatever they like.
4.25.2009 12:52pm
Public_Defender (mail):
rosetta's stones,
If your ideas can't pass democratic muster if presented honestly, you should revist them. That said, I do see your point. As Californians have shown, when given a choice in direct democracy, too many people will vote for both spending increases and tax cuts.

But the GOP has tried this cut-taxes-first-cut-spending-later approach, and they don't get to the later. They are willing to pass out candy, but not to make hard choices. Given their history, they must propose specific cuts to have any credibility.
4.25.2009 1:29pm
rosetta's stones:
PD,

I can't much distinguish between the two political parties on fiscal matters, as they all wind up at the same place, spending wildly.

No principled difference on taxes either, for that matter. Bill Clinton accepted most or all of what he inherited, with some minor tweaks here and there, and even went for some supply side capital gains tax cuts as I recall.

Going back a generation, the Kemp-Roth tax cuts were the supposed genesis of supply side efforts back in the late '70's. But if you notice, Lloyd Bentsen, who was Mike Dukasis' running mate in the 1988 presidential campaign, was also one of the spokesmen for this new style policy.... supply side economics.... sometimes known as "Reagonomics". Dukakis made ol' Lloyd swallow some of his words, for purposes of campaign boob bait, but his actions were quite clear for us to see.

That's why I refernce them as the Beltway bandits... they're playing the same game, as the government grows merrily on.
4.25.2009 2:29pm
Maureen001 (mail):
No doubt attitudes regarding SSM are changing, and that change is age-related. Schools have taken it upon themselves to make that change, and they have done so successfully. In days past it was the churches doing the education on this issue and the results were different. All of this pertains to social engineering and not facts of law.

There has been such a concerted effort to establish and enforce 'separation of church and state' (something that did not exist in the Constitution -establishment clause notwithstanding- or in law until Justice Black's authoring of Emerson v. Board of Education, in which he redefined Jefferson's 'wall of separation' to fit his terms), and this effort has resulted in the basis for argument over the legal definition of 'marriage' today. Those of you who believe that Thomas Jefferson, in his letter to the Reverend Danbury, was arguing for that separation of church and state entrenched by Justice Black, in spite of his track record of supporting churches with both federal and state funding and arguments both written and oral in support of the role of religion in a just society, will find support in the Constitution for SSM. But history does not support that.

However, as Allan Walstad said above, civil unions address equal protection under the law without distorting the historic basis of 'marriage' -- a religious institution fully recognized as such by the Founding Dads. Without the chestnut of 'separation of church and state' there is no conflict in defining 'marriage' as a union between one man and one woman and no denial of rights to others. I do not understand, especially in California where civil unions are already legal and recognized, why the effort to use the state to force a change on religious institutions does not violate that same unsupportable tenet of 'separation of church and state'. It's o.k. in one direction, but not the other?
4.25.2009 2:34pm
Randy R. (mail):
" I do not understand, especially in California where civil unions are already legal and recognized, why the effort to use the state to force a change on religious institutions does not violate that same unsupportable tenet of 'separation of church and state'. It's o.k. in one direction, but not the other?"

It's really quite simple -- only marriage affords all the same rights and responsibilities to both gay and striaght couples. Civil unions, although they give many rights, do not give any federal rights whatsoever, and that includes constitutional rights, such as the right of a spouse to not testify against the other.

Or let's put it this way -- if civil unions are absolutely equivelent to marriage, why aren't straight couples choosing civil unions?

" In days past it was the churches doing the education on this issue and the results were different. All of this pertains to social engineering and not facts of law."

Not quite. Schools teach that everyone is equal. That means that gays are no less a human being deserving of rights as another person. Today, kids learn that gays are not some evil disease waiting to prey upon them, as some churches falsly teach, but are just like other people. Once you realize that, it's a short jump to figure out that gays can love just as straight do, and that love can and should be recognized.

Furthermore, young people are not stupid. All these arguments that people make that SSM will destroy marriage and our society are not true, and they know that. Those are the facts, but if we rely on churches to teach us them, it will be long time before they choose to do so. Much easier to teach doctrine,however false it may be.
4.27.2009 12:33am

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