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Friday, January 30, 2009

Challenging Sipos and Hogarth On Iraq

Susan Hogarth, if you're just awaking from a decade-long coma, then you'll be interested to know that the divisive antiwar questions in play here are:

1) Should the U.S. government have taken down a regime that continued to harbor the leadership of the group that killed a few thousand Americans on 2001-09-11?

2) In the wake of those thousands being killed in effect with just box cutters, should the U.S. government have taken down a regime that admitted its long-standing nuclear ambitions, supported terrorists that targeted Americans, defied nuclear disarmament mandates that it was treaty-bound to obey, invaded one sovereign neighbor, annexed another by force, fired ballistic missiles at two more, and used WMDs in both a war of aggression and in domestic genocide -- killing millions in the course of doing all of the above?

I invite you to say that anyone who answers "yes" to either question should be considered in violation of the LP oath and thus unfit to be an LP member.  And this time, spare us the complaint that I'm putting words in your mouth.  Either you believe that none of "the U.S. government's war(s)" can be justified by any such argument, or you don't.

"Taxation" is a conveniently low-precision braincrumb for you to toss around here.  Let's sharpen that up in two ways. 

1) The Platform used to say that "all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately". Do you think the Pledge leaves any room for a reasonable LP member to disagree with that position?

2) The only "taxation" I favor is a schedule of default contestable fines on monopolizing, consuming, polluting, or congesting the commons. Are you saying that no Libertarian candidate/officer/platform should advocate imposition of such fines by the State, or are you OK with them as long as we don't spell them t-a-x?

So yes, we all agree that all persons are entitled to keep all of the fruits of their non-aggressive labor.  But no, we don't all agree that the State should never require revenue from you without a trial verdict.  If your position is the latter, then please have the intellectual courage to distinguish it from the former, and to avoid piggybacking the latter onto the former.

Elizabeth is Public Affairs Coordinator at The Independent Institute in Oakland, and is still a mainstay in the local LP here in Silicon Valley.

Rob, I would love for Sipos to publish in CF my main essay on Iraq:  Of course, if he does so, he's sure to allocate himself as much or more space for an attempted rebuttal.  I challenge him (or you or anybody) to instead iterate with me on a pair of such essays of that length until we reach equilibrium, so that nobody gets the last-word advantage that an editor can always award to himself.

Tom Knapp, you know very well that not every part of the LP Platform c. 2003 had the same level of support among the membership -- or even among the delegates, who tend to be more radical than the membership.  This would be obvious even without my documenting it at  The Platform has for decades been unequivocal and absolutist about abortion, but it would be silly for you to say that internal divisiveness on abortion is something that was inflicted on an LP that in some earlier golden age had enjoyed a consensus on the issue.

It's pretty obvious that abortion, immigration, and intervention are the three great issue schisms of the LP, and that only the fundamental anarchism/minarchism division is deeper. (The three great issue schisms are all related to franchise, which is why Libertarians are so split on how to apply their anti-aggression principles.)  Sipos devoting almost 1/3 of LPCA newsletter space to his antiwar cause makes about as much sense as devoting another third to defending the LP's absolutism on abortion.  While Bush's Iraq war is winding down and free markets are under the most serious attack in generations, Sipos has run multiple antiwar stories in just about every CF issue he has produced, but so far he's only run two stories on the bailouts.  For most of his antiwar stories he simply runs recycled content that has no LPCA connection whatsoever, but he managed to completely ignore it when 18 LPCA candidates for Congress issued a detailed joint press release (written by me) against the bailouts:

I dispute your suggestion that I obfuscate or obstruct the LP's antiwar advocacy by pointing out Sipos's admitted obsession with it.   I recognize that we liberventionists are at best about one quarter of the LP's rank and file, and while rewriting the LP platform I made no attempt to put any liberventionism in it.  Indeed, my sample planks for my 2010 PlatCom application proposed the following new language: "Current U.S. military spending exceeds the rest of the world's military spending combined, causing an enormous burden on American taxpayers. Major savings can be realized by ending all nation-building efforts, ending U.S. defense of wealthy allies in Europe and Asia, withdrawing American troops to American soil, and focusing our resources on protecting our borders."

Thomas Sipos, I'm not bothered in the least by your personal antiwar outreach on behalf of the LP.  We already have a natural experiment in the 2000 and 2004 elections ( showing that antiwar won't grow the LP, and I've yet to hear of anyone who came from liberalism to libertarianism through the antiwar door.  So feel free to hurt me with the problem of new LP members recruited from the antiwar movement.

And after predicting in boldface that I'll "ignore the central point" that
LNC "persecuted" Angela for doing something that Barr did, thank you for ignoring my response that you selectively ignored the eight most serious charges against Angela in order to take a fact-impaired cheap shot at Barr.  I again challenge you assert that it's OK for a self-declared lame duck LNC member to keep her seat while advocating against joining or donating to the party.  If you can't assert that, then you haven't competently disagreed with the core case against Keaton -- despite all the LPCA ink the LPCA paid you to spill over the matter.