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Friday, May 16, 2008

Fact-Checking Eric Garris

Eric, I wasn't in New York, but I wasn't born yesterday either.  I know how the LP presidential balloting rules work, and I know that Rothbard wrote this:
MR) On the climactic fourth ballot, with 270 needed to nominate, Bergland picked up ten votes for 270, while Ravenal lost 13 to 230, with 24 sticking stubbornly to NOTA. We started screaming and shouting in triumph; Bergland was over the top, by one vote, although the flow of the voting made it certain that we would win handily on the next ballot. (Fortunately NOTA cannot hold up things forever; after the fifth ballot the low man-Ravenal-would have had to drop out and all would have been over.)  (MR
30 votes -- presumably radical, but Rothbard doesn't say -- may have swung with you to Ravenal, but the 270 votes for Bergland surely included the vast majority of radicals, and it seems just as intentionally misleading for you to say that "the LP Radical Caucus majority sided with the Cato candidate" as it is to say that "Bergland won by a single vote".  Yes, 4 of the 7-man RC Central Committee took part in what Rothbard called a shocking "stab in the back"  -- that's the language he used for his radical comrades, so readers can guess how he described his moderate enemies -- but I still don't hear you daring to claim that anything remotely like a "majority" of LP radicals voted for Ravenal over Bergland.  I didn't say 30 votes was "insignificant"; I just said "it seems misleading to suggest that a majority of radicals backed the Cato candidate".
Rothbard seems to dispute your claim that you and Raimondo "never attacked Ravenal".  He says: "My first, instinctive
reaction when I heard the news that the Machine had entered Ravenal as candidate was the same as that of a number of my friends, all of whom liked and admired the man whom Ed Crane affectionately refers to as "Earl the Pearl." That first instinctive reaction of each of us was: "But he's not a libertarian!" [...] Under hard-hitting questioning at a Radical Caucus (RC) candidates'
meeting Wednesday night, Ravenal insisted that he now admired the consistency of the LP platform [...] The Radical Caucus
Central Committee [of which you and Raimondo were members], then still pro-Bergland, issued a blue sheet of facts on Ravenal [...]"
Yes, Rothbard and Evers radicalized the Platform in the 1970s, and were allied with the Cato faction at the time. But you still seem to have your facts wrong when you claim (as you did today on my blog) that the pre-1984 platform was "far more radical than any subsequent version".  For example, the 1986 platform included both personal secession (i.e. anarchism) and an apparent endorsement of Rothbard's insistence that parents can allow their children to starve ("Whenever parents or other guardians are unable or unwilling to care for their children, those guardians have the right to seek other persons who are willing to assume guardianship, and children have the right to seek other guardians who place a higher value on their lives.")  Neither position was in the 1980 or 1976 platforms.  (I don't have copies of the 1978 or 1982 platforms.)
If you're going to mislead us on facts I can check, then why should we trust you on the alleged facts that I can't check?
The bottom line is that you have yet to dispute the core contention of my video: vicious personal attacks by Rothbard and his radical allies were crucial in helping to induce the Cato moderates to quit the LP, to which Rothbard said they "hopefully will never be heard from again".  He got his wish.
Maybe things have changed, but when Angela Keaton interviewed you in December you seem conflicted about all this.  You told her "I would criticize some of the things that the Radical Caucus did when I was involved in it."   You told her that the purpose of the Radical Caucus was "to keep the Party on course ideologically, to make sure that they stayed -- I don't like to use the word 'pure', but that they stayed firm to libertarian principles, and that internal education was as important as any other thing in terms of outreach in the Party."  But in the same interview you said that "I left the LP because I didn't see it accomplishing very much any more. It had turned inward on itself and wasn't reaching out to the masses."  Gee, I wonder why the LP had turned inward on itself?  David Boaz's essay above suggests an answer: because the Cato moderates who tried to make Libertarian ideas popular were savaged for their efforts.
Just as is happening in 2008.