Here Are My Biases

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I’ve gotten quite a few emails and blog comments lately expressing frustration or disappointment or outrage that I haven’t attacked the Obama campaign with the same frequency or thoroughness that I’ve gone after McCain. Of course, when I do attack Obama, I get email accusing me of being in the tank for McCain. But I won’t feign balance, here. I have been far more critical of McCain than I have Obama. No question.

One reason is that I’ve found McCain’s campaign to be nastier, more blatantly dishonest, and more insulting to the collective intelligence than the Obama campaign. When I see Obama campaign commercials lamenting that women make only 70 cents on the dollar of what men make, or that “all of our jobs are going oveseas,” I roll my eyes. But though Obama may be wrong, I at least think he believes his own bullshit. That isn’t nearly as insulting to my intelligence as claiming that because a mostly barren corner of Russia can be seen from a remote Alaskan island, Sarah Palin has the foreign policy cred to be president, or that she’s the foremost expert on energy in the country.

The people angry by my disproportionate attention to McCain’s campaign, though, mostly accuse me of being biased, to which I can only say . . . yes, I am. I don’t think I’ve ever really pretended otherwise. I’ve made it clear on this site that (1) I plan to vote for Bob Barr, and (2) I hope the Republicans get clobbered next month. I am very clearly biased. And not in favor of Obama so much as against McCain. I make no pretense to objectivity.

I’m not sure why, but I guess some people think that in order to prove my libertarian bona fides, I have to have an equal number of posts critical of or supportive of each campaign. I’m not USA Today. You’re reading the very opinionated blog of an openly opinionated journalist.

Obama is a seriously flawed candidate. And yes, Obama united with a Democratic Congress is a scary proposition. But on the issues I cover and that I think are most important this election, Obama is clearly the better choice. Will he disappoint, even on those issues? Almost assuredly.

But we’ve had eight years of a GOP administration, and before that eight years of a mostly GOP Congress. The result has been an explosion in the growth of government that by every measure has been the largest since at least the Johnson administration, and by some measures since FDR. I see no reason why a McCain administration would be any different, particularly given that he has made bipartisanship and deal-making the hallmark of his career (and let’s face it, “bipartisanship” is rarely a case where the parties come together to shrink the government–it almost always results in more government). In other words, the GOP has consistently been worse than the Dems even on the issues where they’re supposed to be better.

The only issue where I’m relatively confident McCain would be preferable to Obama is trade. From taxes to regulation to growth of government–on every other fiscal issue–McCain’s better only on the margins, if at all. This is the guy who teamed up with Ted Kennedy to expand federal coverage of children’s health insurance, who co-authored the worst attack on the First Amendment in my lifetime, and who once tried to ban mixed marital arts because he thought it was icky. There’s nothing in McCain’s record that suggests he’d be any better at promoting limited government policies than Bush. And Bush has been dreadful. I never thought I’d be nostalgic for Bill Clinton.

On criminal justice issues, Obama has at least expressed concern about the soaring incarceration rate, has promised to end federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, and come out in opposition to mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes. Even here, he’s far from perfect (as I’ll explain in an upcoming article for Slate).

Obama has also been critical of president Bush’s expansive view of executive power, his contempt for the separation of powers, and his rather callous treatment of civil liberties in wartime. Obama is also far less likely to get us bogged down in another pointless war. Oh, and he so far has managed to avoid making light of dropping bombs on another country.

Is Obama perfect on these issues? Not at all. He’s not even good on most of them. But again, he’s far better on them than McCain. Moreover, a thorough rebuke at the polls would also go along way toward diminishing the influence of neoconservatives and “national greatness” types from the GOP. The Weekly Standard crowd has been pushing McCain for the presidency since 2000. A McCain victory would give them a firmer grip on power than they already have, and only bolster their influence. A resounding McCain defeat would (hopefully) return the neocons to ivory towers and their offices at AEI, while reacquainting the GOP with its limited government roots. The neocon ascendancy has basically muted the Reagan-Goldwater wing of the GOP. Look at the op-ed pages of the two most influential papers in America–the New York Times and the Washington Post. Who’s still articulating the limited government position? As far as I can tell, only George Will. Maybe Anne Applebaum, but she rarely writes on domestic issues. Every other “right” oriented columnist is a big-government conservative, including Michael Gerson, Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, William Kristol, and the middle-right Fareed Zakaria.

I don’t think I’ve ever indicated that Obama would be good for libertarians or for limited government. I have no illusions about that. I just happen to think McCain would be a hell of a lot worse.

If that means I don’t fit your definition of a libertarian, or makes you never want to visit my site again, so be it. But spare me the comments and emails explaining how disappointed you are in me. A few of you are also treading perilously close to the line between critical and abusive. I realize tensions run high around the election, but I’m going to start deleting gratuitously insulting comments, and banning the people who write them.

The good news is, I’ve been impressed with Bob Barr, particularly his performance at the reason event a few weeks ago, where he responded in real time to the questions and answers at the first presidential debate. It’s the first time I’ll be voting in favor of a candidate for president instead of voting against all the others.

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141 Responses to “Here Are My Biases”

  1. #1 |  Steve Verdon | 

    But though Obama may be wrong, I at least think he believes his own bullshit.

    No he doesn’t and that is where you go wrong in my book.

  2. #2 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Since I’m not a libertarian, I don’t claim any allegiance to that kind of philosophy. But I do find it very amusing that a libertarian would support the most left-wing presidential candidate in decades over a moderate Republican.

  3. #3 |  Radley Balko | 

    You don’t think Obama believes his own economic policies will work?

  4. #4 |  Fay | 

    In my book, where Bob Barr goes wrong is on gay marriage. The man is no libertarian. He still says heterosexual marriage is the “preferred social unit,” which is just conservative code for “I think gayness is icky.”

  5. #5 |  Radley Balko | 

    Moderate? McCain wants to ban political speech that’s critical of incumbents. He’s the most war-hungry president since Teddy Roosevelt. McCain isn’t a moderate. He’s just doesn’t fit neatly on the left-right continuum. He’s the most stridently pro-authority, pro-government major party nominee we’ve had in a long time.

    That he wants to cut taxes for rich people (a policy that I support) hardly ameliorates all of that.

  6. #6 |  Eric | 

    Right on, Radley. It’s tiresome to read drive-by comments about how you are “in the tank” for Obama or a “closeted Dummycrat” or whatever.

    Hopefully we can count on those comments disappearing November 5.

  7. #7 |  Brandon Bowers | 

    You’re right that McCain doesn’t fit neatly on the left-right continuum. His descent into senility seems to have made him think “Maverick” means saying random crap and then accusing any media who quote it of a liberal bias. I also have to agree with you that while Obama is far, far from an ideal or even adequate candidate, the alternative, a year of McCain and 3 of a bad Disney movie (Hockey Mom in the White House) is a terrifying thought. I’ll be voting for Barr as well, because even if it is true that he prefers heterosexual relationships to gay marriage (not sure of the veracity), he recognizes that the government is not a tool to enforce his personal prejudices.

  8. #8 |  Nando | 

    <blockquote?#2 | Sydney Carton | October 6th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Since I’m not a libertarian, I don’t claim any allegiance to that kind of philosophy. But I do find it very amusing that a libertarian would support the most left-wing presidential candidate in decades over a moderate Republican.

    Er, libertarians are left-wingers on social issues and right-wingers on fiscal issues. McCain doesn’t fit in with either, while Obama at least fits in on the social issues part.

  9. #9 |  bob | 

    I frequently used to complain about the two-party duopoly, but now I’m not so sure it really exists.

    It’s looking more like a one-party system consisting of two superficially competing halves, each having an important stake in the others survival. For example, both look the other way one of them uses their state power to deny ballot access to a third party or independent candidate, and neither shy away from “bi-partisan” bailouts that mortgage our grandchildren’s future for a current economy that at best, only looks to be in better health than it actually is.

    Despite the polls, this looks to be another coin-toss election in which a pair of disingenuous opportunists will pimp superficial issues with the goal of swaying the politically apathetic with sound bites.

    The coin toss is rigged: Heads they win. Tails we lose.

    Happy Voting!

  10. #10 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Almost every politician wants to ban political speech critical of incumbents, including Mr. Truth Squad Obama. McCain believed his own spin about how it would cut down on corruption.

    I don’t think McCain is “war hungry.” He’d respond to threats, yes, but I don’t think he’d initiate them. It’s not his fault that Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb to kill millions of people. Meanhwhile, Biden said that Obama wants to invade the Sudan.

    I don’t think that McCain is more pro-government than Obama. Obama wants to make it mandatory for students to do community service, for instance. Additionally, Obama’s philosophy and associates with radical leftists suggests that he’s far more authoritarian than his public persona. He also actively cultivates his cult-leader image. McCain at least recognizes that he’s human.

  11. #11 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Nando,

    If you want to be left wing on social issues, fine. I don’t support abortion or homosexual “marriage”.

  12. #12 |  Marta Rose | 

    While, as we both know, I disagree with you about many many things, I think your position shows incredible intellectual integrity and I continue to admire you enormously for that.

    Best, Marta

  13. #13 |  Danno49 | 

    I know who I’m voting for now:

    http://www.tsgnet.com/pres.php?id=46832&altf=Sbemfz&altl=Cbmlp

  14. #14 |  jon | 

    Radley,
    I’m suprised you would vote for Bob Barr. As I understand it, he was quite the drug warrior in his day. Is there any chance you’ll interview him before the election?

  15. #15 |  solarjetman | 

    If you have such a clear preference for Obama over McCain, why are you voting for Barr instead of Obama?

  16. #16 |  Matt D | 

    That he wants to cut taxes for rich people (a policy that I support) hardly ameliorates all of that.

    Right. And if I remember correctly, his budget proposals are actually less balanced than Obama’s.

    Personally, I was never likely to support McCain, but I will say that the campaign he’s run has made me lose a lot of the respect I had for him previously. I also feel like, for all his talk of experience, he’s the one more or less flying by the seat of his pants.

  17. #17 |  John | 

    Radley, while I find nothing wrong with you showing a slight bias, I see Obama’s economic comments as instulting as well as McCain’s…Obama is educated, he knows that jobs aren’t “being lost” to China…he’s saying it bc it is a message that did well with the focus groups.

  18. #18 |  Abhishek | 

    A great post, and I agree wholeheartedly.

    Here is an old post of mine where I attempt to measure the fallout from each of them becoming President.

    Obama and McCain are both bad on limited government, but as you rightly point out, McCain is worse. But it is not just about the issues. Obama might have positions I strongly disagree with, but anyone who has followed his career closely or read his books will see that he posesses undoubted intelligence, a good temperament and above all an ability to see both sides of a question (more than McCain does, anyway). Also, as he has demonstrated with his stand on several issues, he prefers a ‘nudge’ to outright force in influencing behavior (see this post of mine). That’s much more than one can say about McCain, who epitomizes authoritarianism.

  19. #19 |  Radley Balko | 

    If you have such a clear preference for Obama over McCain, why are you voting for Barr instead of Obama?

    Because Barr is better than both of them.

    I’m suprised you would vote for Bob Barr. As I understand it, he was quite the drug warrior in his day. Is there any chance you’ll interview him before the election?

    I’ve talked to him several times, and we’ve interviewed on the record for reason a few times. Barr was quite the drug warrior in Congress. But he has completely changed his position, and can articulately explain why. Yeah, it’s a little late in the game. But I think it’s safe to believe him. I mean, why would someone who secretly wants to continue fighting the drug war carry the banner for the Libertarian Party?

  20. #20 |  Nando | 

    #11 | Sydney Carton | October 6th, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Nando,

    If you want to be left wing on social issues, fine. I don’t support abortion or homosexual “marriage”.

    I don’t support abortion, either, but I recognize that every person is an individual and (mostly) an adult and, thus are more than capable of making their own decisions, especially when it comes to their body and their family. Therefore, while I do not like or support abortion, I’m 100% for each individual being able to make their own choice.

    As for gay marriage, I have no problem with it. Why shouldn’t they be able to enjoy the same benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy (communal property, visitation rights, etc)? Are you religious? Maybe that’s why you oppose the word marriage (which comes from the Latin for motherhood, in case you’re wondering, and has nothing to do with the social contract we call marriage today). If your religion, or any other for that matter, don’t want to recognize same-sex marriage, then cool beans, that’s up to each religion. However, the government should allow same-sex couple contracts, otherwise known as marriage.

    I could care less if they don’t call it that. Call it a civil union or a gayapalooza, I don’t care, just give them the same rights under the law as I and other hetero couples enjoy.

  21. #21 |  Terrorific | 

    Radley, I think you’re wrongly attributing strong comments about you to doctrinaire libertarians when I’ve always had the impression that they’re coming from republicans/conservatives of the Bush/McCain Lesser of two evils variety.

    I’m not privy to your inbox, but even though I’m about as hardcore libertarian as it gets (wouldn’t vote for Barr with a ten foot pencil) I’ve always enjoyed your site and rarely think your comments are out of line.

    Some of the Cato-loving makes you look like a huge wimp, but I can accept it as a minor fault of yours :-)

  22. #22 |  ktc2 | 

    Very well said Radley.

    I just can’t understand how anyone can think McCain is better on much of anything.

    Obama is better on civil liberties, less war, taxes (for the non mega-wealthy).

    McCain is better on . . . what exactly? You say trade. Okay I can see that. Taxes (if your extremely wealthy)?

    On spending their both horrible. On growing government both horrible.

    Appears to me to be clear advantage Obama. Although he won’t get my vote, neither will McCain.

    If the Republicans are ever to reclaim the mantle of limited government, less spending and getting government out of the way they need to lose, and lose BIG TIME to realize that their bullshit isn’t working.

  23. #23 |  Wayne | 

    The way I read Obama, is he favors socialism-type economic policies moreso than McLame. Socialism or more war? Tough choice. I think if Obama believes his own bullshit and becomes president, we’re screwed.

    On another note, early on in the Obama/Hillary wars, Obama touted his inexperience as a plus. Too bad Palin can’t turn that around to her advantage, and too bad I can’t separate Palin from McLame. I’d rather vote for someone who has seen Russia than any of the other three involved. In my opinion, someone who has *run* a state would probably do better than anyone who has *run for legislative office* in a state. Ah, but the point is moot, I’ve already made up my mind to vote for the third party.

  24. #24 |  rox_publius | 

    this rawks.

    be aware, i intend to plagiarize it heavily.

  25. #25 |  Sydney Carton | 

    I don’t think it’s self-evident that Obama will bring “less war.” He is an appeaser and that mentality always invites more war in the long term.

    Nando, you misunderstand me. Abortion is murder.

  26. #26 |  Terrorific | 

    Also, I think our mutual hatred for McCain and the new Republicanism is rooted in their lack of intellectual curiosity and pandering to the lowest common denominator (not of people, but of thought, reason, and logic). Democrats and Liberals, as misguided as they are, are almost ALWAYS willing to discuss ideas and philosophy. You can’t convince them most of the time, but it’s evident that they’re actually thinking.

    Compare that to the “shut the hell up” attitude of the right, and it becomes more and more clear that the future of the libertarian movement will come from the Left……especially after Obama lets them down, their 401ks get wiped out, and government becomes the enemy again. The shift will come.

  27. #27 |  Dan Hill | 

    Radley, I’m disappointed with you. That sort of considered weighing up of the options instead of falling back on simplistic black and white analysis is simply un-American!

    Seriously, you’ve pretty much summed up my position. I disagree with Obama almost completely on economic policy – although I hold on to the hope that he’s smart enough to know better, he actually does NOT believe his BS and is pandering, and will moderate his positions in office.

    But even without that wishful thinking on my part, I believe there are actually bigger issues at play than whether GDP growth will average 1% or 3% over the next four years.

    This country is at a turning point in terms of not selling out the fundamental liberties that are the true source of American exceptionalism. And on that front I believe Obama was well ahead even before Palin joined the ticket but with her along for the ride on the “Straight Talk Express” I’m now in no doubt at all that a McCain / Palin administration would be every bit as bad as the current one in trashing the Bill of Rights.

    My only difference with you is that I think the stakes are sufficiently high that I’m going to make sure my vote keeps McCain out of office. The opportunity cost of a symbolic vote for Barr is too high.

  28. #28 |  Muse Free | 

    [...] often stated on this blog, is that McCain is clearly worse. Radley Balko, who shares that view, has a fine post explaining why. Obama is a seriously flawed candidate. And yes, Obama united with a Democratic [...]

  29. #29 |  Steve Verdon | 

    You don’t think Obama believes his own economic policies will work?

    No I don’t. He is smart. His advisors are smart. They know that these things are likely to have little to no impact. A president’s control/influence/etc. of the economy is limited and impercise at best. As such any policy he puts in place will, in the best of cases, do little or nothing for the problem the policy was designed for. If the reverse were the case then Bush I wouldn’t have lost to Clinton/Gore. This didn’t happen (well it did, but the NBER didn’t determine the recession was over until after the election).

    Now that is the best case scenario. Now look at the current situation we are in, the financial markets are a mess. Many institutions are carry toxic assets that they are scared shitless to try and sell. People who might buy them are scared shitless and so offer “fire sale” prices for them. So the solution? Buy these toxic assets at their “hold-to-term” value. That is buy these assets at very high prices. Why? To try and recapitalize these institutions. Great idea, but is this the best way?

    Suppose the government’s offer isn’t quite enough? The institution still fails. Ooops. Suppose it is enough, but just barely. The institution doesn’t start lending again. Oooops. Suppose the government doesn’t have enough and only the banks most heavily invested in these toxic assets are recapitalizied? These are the wankers who don’t really know what they are doing…but they are the ones we want to start lending again? Ooops. The current plan sucks shit. It might not be enough, it might not work, and it could end up rewarding the most imprudent out there who got us in the mess! Brilliant fucking plan. Keep in mind the very story you broke here on the Agitator about how the $700 billion is a number pulled out of someone’s ass.

    This is how government usually operates. Grab something that looks like it might work, screw all the incentive problems, and issues of whether it will actually work. People are scared and here is a chance to expand government’s power–Strike NOW while the iron is hot!!! Did you forget your Robert Higgs Radley? And if it doesn’t work, then say, “Oh its the right plan, just not enough of it…more money, more intervention, larger government!” The idea that careful analysis and data are driving things is just not true. Hence our current bailout.

    Obama will be absolutely no different. He is your typical politician. Tell people what they want to hear and give them what they want, even if it bad for them. Obama hasn’t talked about the Medicare shortfall which makes the current crisis look like chump change. Obama hasn’t talked about our unsustainable growth rates in health care expenditures. In fact, he wants to increase the growth rate with his health care plans. Is he a moron then, or an ignorant fool? One of his economic advisors is Jason Furman. Furman knows this stuff, he is not a moron nor is he ignorant. But telling the electorate, during an election, that things suck shit and we need to seriously look at cutting medicare and raising taxes to support those parts we haven’t cut isn’t going to win anyone an election.

    Obama is a liar. Like all politicians. That you like to think he believes his own bullshit just means he is a better liar than most.

  30. #30 |  Steve Verdon | 

    By the way, the above is not to be interpreted as a rousing endoresment for McCain. All of my comments apply equally to him.

  31. #31 |  Bill | 

    Radley, I appreciate how you’ve articulated a position that many libertarians hold. But I really have to thank you for a much-needed chuckle today:

    “…who once tried to ban mixed MARITAL arts because he thought it was icky.”

    That would be things like offering up your wife for a topless biker beauty pageant, right?

  32. #32 |  claude | 

    “Er, libertarians are left-wingers on social issues and right-wingers on fiscal issues”

    Not really. It could go either way. There r left-libertarians and right-libertarians. Left-libertarians (thats me) r socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Right-libertarians r socially and fiscally conservative.

  33. #33 |  Matt | 

    Life runs in cycles. Compare the economy and the Republicans. The economy will rebound in the long run and the small government conservatives will take back over. But the only way for that to happen is for the neo cons to get trounced. They have to get beat to get them out of the way. It’s going to be a rough time in future with democrats doing their damage, but we have to endure it if we want true limited government politicians to thrive in the future. Just like we have to edure the pain of bad financial companies going belly up to make room for new and better managed firms to take their place.

    As it has been said many times before, it’s always darkest before you see the light. Or something like that.

  34. #34 |  David | 

    Claude: If they’re socially and fiscally conservative, then wouldn’t that make them…conservative?

  35. #35 |  Bill | 

    Fay (#4),

    As far as I’ve heard, Barr may not like gay marriage, but I haven’t heard him say anything about keeping it illegal. I personally don’t “approve” of it, because it is against my own moral standards (though I also do plenty of things that are against my own moral standards, because nobody’s perfect).

    But I would NEVER presume to impose my own personal views on someone else by using the government to prevent them unless they were harming someone. I don’t plan on, nor do I advocate, smoking pot, either, but I absolutely think it should be legalized. Libertarianism is REAL tolerance for beliefs that we disagree with. I’d much rather elect someone who disagrees with my beliefs but won’t advocate laws to prevent me from practicing them than someone who agrees with me but will sell me out for votes or contributions.

  36. #36 |  nobahdi | 

    I’m surprised that you haven’t made more posts about Barr if you plan to vote for him. The only two I remember was when he might have already have won Texas, and then the one saying he didn’t.

  37. #37 |  Highway | 

    Bill, I thought it might be a sly reference to gay marriage… ;)

  38. #38 |  Captain Holly | 

    Well played, Balko, well played. I don’t agree with your conclusion, but I can understand the logic behind it.

    The trouble for us libertarian-minded conservatives is that McCain is not very libertarian (McCain-Feingold, anyone?) and other than on the issue of earmarks he’s a big-government cheerleader, his eagerness to carry the Bush Administration’s water on the bailout mess being the perfect example of his establishment instincts.

    I’m voting for him only because on the issue that makes the most difference to me — firearm ownership — he’s worlds ahead of Obama. And I strongly disagree that a McCain presidency would be only marginally better than an Obama one.

    But as I said before, I can understand why you’re not very excited about McCain. I just don’t think an Obama administration would be any better on the issues you strongly support, and given the dirigiste tendencies of today’s Democrat party would very likely be worse.

  39. #39 |  claude | 

    “If they’re socially and fiscally conservative, then wouldn’t that make them…conservative?”

    Right-libertarians r conservative both fiscally and socially, thus making them conservatives, yes. I thought that was what i was saying by “socially and fiscally conservative”. LOL

  40. #40 |  Bill | 

    Can we please stop trying to decide if libertarians are “left” or “right”? It’s about as useful as trying to decide if blue is more like red or yellow.

    Libertarianism is simply the belief that people should be left alone as long as they are not harming others. Neither conservatives nor liberals consistently believe that, by a long shot; it’s just that as different issues come to prominence, libertarians may appear similar to one or the other because of agreement on specific issues.

  41. #41 |  Christopher Monnier | 

    > Democrats and Liberals, as misguided as they are, are almost ALWAYS willing to discuss ideas and philosophy. You can’t convince them most of the time, but it’s evident that they’re actually thinking.

    To add to this, I think it’s clear that most [modern American] liberals have their “hearts in the right place” but just have a different interpretation of how to accomplish the goals we (libertarians and liberals) both seek. For example, some liberals might favor restrictions on trade because they want to improve the lives of poor people. Likewise, libertarians oppose restrictions on trade for the very same reason. Same goal, just different strategies for getting there.

  42. #42 |  JA3 | 

    Well said, Radley.

  43. #43 |  Aaron | 

    Don’t forget that during Obama’s term as an Illinois state senator, he pushed through a bill requiring that police videotape their interrogation of suspects, which should make a lot of abuse much harder to get away with.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/03/AR2008010303303.html

  44. #44 |  j.d | 

    Dan Hill: If this was teh turning point, the decision to get to such a junction was made years ago.

  45. #45 |  Marty | 

    great link Danno! I loved the Radley tramp stamp on the old woman!

    RADLEY RADLEY RADLEY RADLEY RADLEY RADLEY!!!!

    too funny.

  46. #46 |  dave smith | 

    Hi, Radley…One of the biggest things you have critized Bush for (and rightly so) is his expansion and abuse of excutive power.

    You praise Obama for also critizing Bush’s abuse of power and think this is one of the biggest reasons to vote for Obama.

    But here is a serious question…Why do you think Obama will reverse the trend? It is easy to be against excutive power when you are not the excutive.

  47. #47 |  TJA | 

    It would be wonderful to be able to vote for Bab Barr and see it an anything but a wasted vote. You are much better voting for the lesseor of two evils and have some potential impact on the election than vote for Barr and have none. It is the same as saying I won’t vote because I don’t like either.

    Of the two evils, I see McCain as very much the lessor primarily because we will need a counterweight against what will likely be a Democratically controlled Congress. The Democratics can do significant damage through expanding the government which will be extremely difficult to undo. IMHO a couple years of gridlock would be a much better thing than turing the keys over to a uber-liberal executive supported by a Democratic Congress.

  48. #48 |  Salvo | 

    This is exactly the reason I visit this blog Radley.

    As a true liberal, I disagree with you on just about all economic issues. However, I think you’re the best, bar-none when it comes to reporting on crime and civil liberty issues, and the work you’ve done on Hayne, Maye and Frederick has been spectacular.

    But whether I agree or disagree with you, you always make reasonable logical arguments that keep me coming back, without resorting to the “But…but…Ayers!” idiocy.

    I feel that you’re a person it’s possible to have reasonable disagreements with, and at best you force me to examine the weaknesses in my own positions. Bravo.

  49. #49 |  John | 

    The best reason to oppose the GOP in this election is because they’ve betrayed all the principles that attracted libertarians in the first place. I’m so tired of having to explain that capitalism is different from the corporatism the GOP favors. Maybe McCain is in favor of less regulation and free markets, but like Bush, he’s made it clear that he will spend his political capital furthering the war on terror, promoting national greatness, and other horrible policies that are difficult to be checked by a Democratic congress. At least Obama’s horrible policies require a complicit congress and some level of scrutiny. Should the GOP get clobbered, they may just return to campaigning on reigning in Obama’s efforts on his policies, and we can return to the halcyon days of divided government.

  50. #50 |  Ginger Dan | 

    First, great post Radley, although not necessary, but I understand your desire to keep your inbox free of nonsense. There is a little red “X” button everyone has and if they don’t like what you have to say, well, they are free to click that button any time they like.

    Keep up the good work!

    It would be wonderful to be able to vote for Bab Barr and see it an anything but a wasted vote. You are much better voting for the lesseor of two evils and have some potential impact on the election than vote for Barr and have none. It is the same as saying I won’t vote because I don’t like either./i>

    That is the worst logic in the world. Why would you vote for someone who doesn’t represent your interests. If I hate assaults on free speech and don’t like inteventionist wars, I should vote for McCain because legislative gridlock is a good thing? Voting is not about picking a winner, it’s about choosing the candidate who represents your views and beliefs, that’s how a representative republic should work. Of course, if McCain or Obama represents your views and beliefs then vote for one of them, but the lesser of two evils argument is a canard that has been perpetutated for far too long in America.

  51. #51 |  Ginger Dan | 

    sorry about not closing my tags….

  52. #52 |  Kwix | 

    I have to agree with Radley 100% here. My biggest gripe with the recent GOP and McCain in particular is the betrayal of our rights. Capt’n Holly mentions the RTKBA but it pales compared to free speech, press and assembly.

    Regardless of who is elected, the good news is they don’t actually make the laws, only sign them into legislation and given the current makeup of the SCOTUS and the findings in Heller, I don’t see the RTKBA being the hot-topic of the next administration. Presuming it was however, there is always the veto pen that GW hardly bothered to pick up.

  53. #53 |  Robert Guest | 

    Radley,

    I have a similar disdain for the current GOP. The contract with America came out when I was a teenager and I believed the GOP was going to change DC. I was shocked at how quickly the GOP abandoned the principles of limited government.

    That was then. Today, McCain embodies the big government hawkish conservatism that has destroyed the GOP’s libertarian support.

    At best, McCain does not understand the value of liberty and freedom. At worst, McCain has complete disdain for both principles. Obama may be slightly more socialist, but I can’t say he would be any worse a president.

    That’s why I hope McCain, and the GOP get slaughtered in the next election. They certainly don’t deserve any more power.

  54. #54 |  Kwix | 

    “It would be wonderful to be able to vote for Bab Barr and see it an anything but a wasted vote.”

    The beauty of being in a state that has voted Repug every election after the ill-fated Goldwater/Johnson race is that I KNOW that my vote for Barr is just as useless as a vote for Obama. Would you have that I vote for the sure winner or vote my conscience?

  55. #55 |  Ashton | 

    Well stated. I’m impressed at the intellectual honesty and researched opinion, and most of all, refusal to put up a pretense of fairness by being equally numerically critical of both candidates.

    Using equal scrutiny is not the same as tallying an equal number of critical posts. That sort of B.S. is polluting our mainstream media to the point of complete ineptitude.

    Your job is to dissent and call out the B.S. from all sides. Keep up the good work.

  56. #56 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Voting is state-sanctioned violence.

    Anyone who votes is contributing to an increase in violence in the world.

    It is impossible to reduce violence by committing violence.

    If one’s desire is to make the world more peaceful, not voting is a big first step.

    That being written, I believe it is human nature to be violent — nay, violence, in the form of environmental control, is the raison d’etre of human existence.

  57. #57 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Never has one side of the coin looked so much better than the other mavericky side.

    1. WAR: Obama wins. McCain and the Repubs are so far away from libertarian on foreign policy that they can scratch Stalin’s back–except Stalin would get creeped out by that because of our recent history. And to be honest, killing people really has to be weighted about 30x more than any other subject right now. Disclaimer: In no way am I saying US foreign policy contributes in any way, shape or form to anything bad that has happened to us. The Republicans tell me that would be silly.

    2. Economy: Obama wins by default. Republicans had to have a special kind of ineptness to mess this one up, but they have. How? Well, they are cutting endless blank checks in Iraq while also snuggling with corporate/statist welfare. If you want to be better for the economy, you have to actually be better for the economy (Clinton > Bush).

    3. Liberty (aka: Freedom): Obama wins even though Toby “Freedom Incarnate” Keith has been pitching for the Repubs since 9/12/2001–great career move. Although it is tempting to vote for McCain so we can replace “Freedom” with the new “Maverick” drinking game (thanks to SNL/Fey), the neocons hold on the Repub party gives the Dems a slamdunk on personal freedom. Heck, the Dems now even look better than the Repubs when you talk about economic freedom! I guess Freedom ain’t just another word for “wrap-myself-in-a-flag-so-no-one-can-question-my-motives”.

    4. Bi-Par-TAY: Luckily, you don’t have to choose. Everything gets to pass (after two revisions so that sweet, sweet pork can be added) with either candidate. We ALL win. Don’t worry your pretty little head. It is guaranteed that Government will be much, much bigger in 2012!

    5. Change: McCain is “4 more years”. Obama (yes, race plays a role here) wins by default.

    Now, I’ll still vote for Barr (an entirely different coin).

    PS: Maverick, maverick, maverick!

  58. #58 |  Jonathan Goff | 

    Radley,
    Great article! More or less agrees with the way I’ve been thinking about things, just better said than I could. I’m looking forward to throwing my vote away for Barr this November. As you put it, it’s nice being able to actually vote *for* someone, instead of just plugging your nose and voting against someone.

    Regarding the commenter earlier talking about throwing votes away for Barr, I live in California, which is almost 100% sure to go for Obama. My vote really doesn’t count anyway, so why shouldn’t I vote for the person I feel would be best for the job? Quite frankly, I doubt I’m going to see many candidates better than Barr on the ballot in my lifetime, so not voting for him would be the real waste. How can people complain about the lousy selection of candidates when they aren’t willing to vote for a good candidate when he does run just because he isn’t a Democrat or Republican?

    ~Jon

  59. #59 |  Kris | 

    One of the best things I have read here. I find it funny that people hate on Obama as much as they do and try and portray him as being just as bad as Mccain when there clearly is a lesser of the two evils and Obama may actually be better than Clinton, Reagan and both Bushes.

  60. #60 |  buzz | 

    “That isn’t nearly as insulting to my intelligence as claiming that because a mostly barren corner of Russia can be seen from a remote Alaskan island, Sarah Palin has the foreign policy cred to be president, or that she’s the foremost expert on energy in the country.”

    I would be ever so greatful for a cite for the above statement. The interview I saw did not use that statement to claim that.

    “Democrats and Liberals, as misguided as they are, are almost ALWAYS willing to discuss ideas and philosophy. You can’t convince them most of the time, but it’s evident that they’re actually thinking.
    Compare that to the “shut the hell up” attitude of the right, and it becomes more and more clear that the future of the libertarian movement will come from the Left”

    Where are these mythical Democrats and Liberals? All the ones I see are more than willing to discuss the issues, as long as you agree with them. Methinks you are discussing your minds eye caricatures of the two parties.

    That being said, I have to agree with everything else you wrote. 350 million in the country and it comes down to these two guys.
    The longer he is out of office, the more I miss Clinton. I never thought I was say that 8 years ago. I don’t trust Obama and while I am grateful for McCains service, I don’t necessarily think that entitles him to the Presidency.

  61. #61 |  Andrew Williams | 

    “Voting is state-sanctioned violence.”

    Explain.

  62. #62 |  Butler T. Reynolds | 

    Thanks, Radley. It’s nice to know that there’s one more person on the planet who feels this way.

    Given how much conservatives, especially those on talk radio, complain about the left, it always surprises me at how much of a free ride they’ve given Bush and other big government Republicans.

    The response that I give conservatives who express dismay at George W. Bush is, “So, what exactly did you think that he meant he said, ‘compassionate conservative’?”

    And likewise, what in the heck do conservatives think that John McCain means by “Country First”?

  63. #63 |  bob | 

    Here’s an interesting poll, given the likelihood that the coin toss will be decided by independents.

    UTICA, New York – More than half of likely voters nationwide – 55% – want Republican-turned-Libertarian Bob Barr to participate in presidential debates this fall, while nearly half – 46% – said they think Ralph Nader should be allowed into the on-stage fray, the latest Zogby Interactive polling shows.

    Among political independents, 69% said Barr should be at a lectern with Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, and a majority of Republicans and Democrats agreed. Among Democrats, 52% said they think Barr should participate, while 50% of Republicans agreed.

    Thirty-nine percent of Democrats and 41% of Republicans said they did not think Barr should be included in the debates.

    The poll results are broken down demographically in terms of age, sex, marital status, and residence (metro or rural) and showed little difference in opinion, except on the basis of age.

    The younger the respondent, the more likely they were to say that Barr should be included. Those at each end of the philosophical spectrum were more supportive of the idea of including Barr and Ralph Nader in the debates, while those in the middle were less supportive.

    I tend to think having “other than major party” opinions aired at the debates would challenge both parties to be more forthcoming about their plans, and be beneficial to the electoral process as well as the voters.

    Apparently, the major parties and the joke that is the “debate commission” agree with me. Cowards.

  64. #64 |  Peter | 

    I haven’t left any comments, but I have been upset at what I see as overly critical coverage of McCain/Palin from you, if for no other reason than I see Obama/Biden as equally slimy, just on other issues.

    But you’ve taken the time to explain your motivations, and although I don’t necessarily agree with them, I now understand where you’re coming from.

    And perhaps your decision to support Bob Barr is a wasted vote; for sure my intention to vote for my Mom as a write-in candidate is.

    Slam away, and may God Bless.

  65. #65 |  Ginger Dan | 

    I think “Country First” means the Country is the First thing they’re going to destroy.

  66. #66 |  PSYOP | 

    I think comment #9 (Bob) kind of sums it up for me.

    I don’t know what the big fuss is about, really. This is the only political blog good enough, IMHO, that I can read it on a daily basis, so maybe I’m biased. I think Radley nails a lot of things I agree with and don’t see enough of on Reason Magazine’s website. They tend to be all over the spectrum…

    99% of my friends and family think both candidates suck, but Obama sucks a little less than McCain. To them, (and I hate this) it’s all about keeping McCain out to prevent 4 more years of Bush. Obama definitely comes off as more realistic in his approach to many issues.

    I am voting for Barr, but would have voted for Ron Paul had he made more gains on the campaign trail. Still, I try to let every Georgian I know that we do have an alternative – Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party. Though Bob’s from Georgia, once they hear he’s shifted his attitude, they won’t vote for him. They think the LP has no chance of winning. I guess as long as people believe that, nothing will change and we’ll get to enjoy 4 more years of being screwed by Dem’s and Repug’s.

  67. #67 |  MikeL | 

    “Whoever battles with monsters had better see that it does not turn him into a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

    -Nietzsche

  68. #68 |  Matt | 

    I push Bob in Georgia as well and my friends in other states do as well. And we all hear the “wasted vote” bullshit that people say. If you keep voting for Republicans and Democrats, then the Libertarians will never become viable and you only have yourself to blame for that.

    Vote true to you heart and you’d be suprised how many people would vote third party in this country. Voting for the major parties just encourages them to keep doing the same things that are wrong. Stop encouraging them!

  69. #69 |  Cynical In CA | 

    “Voting is state-sanctioned violence.”

    “Explain.”

    Glad to, Andrew. When one votes in a political election, one is attempting to force one’s personal preference on another. Voting determines which way the State’s guns are pointed.

    For example (and any old example will do, I’m just picking one for expedience not belief), one votes for a candidate who will authorize tax revenue to be spent subsidizing abortions. As a direct result, the government’s guns are turned on all citizens to extract the revenue to fund this program. Some of those citizens hold core beliefs that abortion is immoral, i.e. they would never voluntarily fund abortions. Yet, the voter has supported the government in forcing these citizens to be slaves whose work is stolen to support something they abhor.

    The voter, while not the primary initiator of violence in this example, has nonetheless aided and abetted the State in its crimes of involuntary servitude, armed robbery and extortion.

    Voting is a violent act — the only form of violence permitted by the State to its subjects, the sole purpose of which is to pacify the populace and provide “cover” for State crimes.

    QED

    As an interesting thought experiment, imagine that NO ONE voted. From whence does the validation of the State come then?

    Please keep the questions coming, Andrew. If this is not a satisfactory proof for you, I have volumes of reading material for you on this fascinating subject.

  70. #70 |  tim | 

    @ #11

    “homosexual “marriage”.”

    Nice use of quotes there. You would be interested to note that neither does Obama/Biden.

    When did the Republican party start sucking so bad? Personally I think it started when they started trying to tackle social issues.

    /voting for Obama because President Palin is a fate I never want to experience
    //and gay – so i wouldn’t mind that whole being able to get married thing…

  71. #71 |  FWB | 

    How do you know when a politician is lying? The lips are moving.

    Bush IS NOT the source of claims and overreachs to unconstitutional executive powers. Blame the democrats, including Obama and his chumps. Read Gene Healy’s _The_Cult_of_the_Presidency_ to obtain an overview of from where and how the unitary executive theory developed and progressed.

    Now is the time for the people to FIRE CONGRESS and EVERYONE in government. Will it happen? Probably not. Yes, we know those in Congress are crooks, BUT they are our crooks!

    Barr or Baldwin – draw your line in the sand and stand your ground.

    My fear of the Demosocialists is the tyranny of totalitarianism. My fear of the Stalipublicans is the tyranny of totalitarianism. We the People have hidden our heads in the sand for too long. Can we save the US? I don’t know.

    Should the men/women we elect to office have experience? Not if that experience is in politics. Political experience breeds comtempt of the People and a desire for more power. We have seen that power in action with Bush, having expanded through Wilson, FDR, Truman, Johnson, etc.

    Why is it that We the People want to line up behind one of two gangs and let them continue to rape us?

  72. #72 |  Phelps | 

    FWIW, it’s the extreme left tilt in the comments that bothers me, not the articles. I understand where you are coming from and simply come to the conclusion that Obama is the greater evil. As I see it, the greatest abuses come from personalizing things to the politician. McCain wants to limit the 1st Amendment as it comes to criticizing incumbents. Obama wants to abolish the 1st Amendment as it comes to him. That’s worse to me (and it’s hard to be worse.)

    And I still think that the voting thing makes the comment shenanigans worse.

  73. #73 |  Jefferson | 

    Listen, I’ve never thought I would vote with a mustache, but I’m definitely voting for Barr. I’m tired of voting against candidates or going for the lesser of two evils.

    He’s had quite a turnaround from being a full righty. He seems to really understand libertarianism. Not everyone is born libertarian – many start out on the left or the right before they figure it out.

    The way I see it, I agree with the following candidates about this amount of the time:

    Barr: 95%
    Obama: 35%
    McCain: 25%

    The choice seems pretty obvious.

  74. #74 |  Thomas Paine's Goiter | 

    Radley,

    I get upset that you actually seem to care this much about the election. No matter who wins – nothing will change. It never will until it all dies. People can rant and rave about corporations and military complexes, or unions and welfare queens, but when it comes down to it, nothing will ever change the inertial movements of the government complex. I don’t care if Hitler or Spongebob Squarepants is the president, the beast will take the exact same path.

    The only thing we can do is affect small changes and hope to help each other out and avoid getting involved with the government complex.

  75. #75 |  bumbleshea | 

    Danno – you are THE BEST!~

  76. #76 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    Watch out Radley, this post may invalidate your privilege of the press card ;)

  77. #77 |  Honeyko | 

    Radley, where you fail is that you simply cannot ever bring yourself to admit that you’ve been sold a bill of goods by some favorite lefty source on those occasions they do occur. You’ll leave some craptacular lie just sitting, odiously, on your blog stinking up the joint.

    Case in point: The Obama-Missouri business, where the cited article actually included a link to the television station video where the reporter said exactly what he said. Yet the “It’s all a big, fat lie!” type articles run all the way around the world on blogs near and far, when it was not a lie.

    Back when you were yacking about Iraq every day, the Left played you like a fish five days a week.

    — If you put half of the same due diligence into your cut-n-pasting of tidbits from other sites as you do into the various judicial outrages, there’d be a lot less of this.

    (And the fact that Boooosh is a fucking cretin has no bearing on any of it.)

  78. #78 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Obama.

    McCain.

    Barr.

    Whatever.

    Voters are dogs who carry their leashes to their masters.

  79. #79 |  Honeyko | 

    Case example of the Left playing you and the MSM like a fish: The Obama sex education to kindergartners thing, which you were all breathless to denounce as a McCain lie.

    Guess what? McCain’s ad wasn’t lying — the Left was.

  80. #80 |  Steve Verdon | 

    This thread is hilarious. My opening comment has a neg 23 so far, but my longer explanation has a +8 of the same point. Go figure.

    But here is a serious question…Why do you think Obama will reverse the trend? It is easy to be against excutive power when you are not the excutive.

    He wont. Anyone who has read Robert Higgs’ Crisis and Leviathan realizes this. Government uses a real or manufactured crisis to expand the size/scope of government. Usually under the claim that it is temporary, until the crisis passes you know. Crisis ends, but government never fully retreats. Nowadays we get crises that never really end. The War on Drugs anyone? The War on Terror? Terror is an excellent weapon for those who have little conventional power, so it will never really be defeated, hence the measures to combat will always be necessary.

    Obama, once he blops his posterior in the Oval Office, will look at all the wire tapping, snooping, and other spiffy things he can do, thanks to Bush et. al. and that will be that. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I hate to break it to people, but the Obamassiah is just a regular human being. He isn’t a pillar of great rectitude; he is a politician.

    A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

    A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

    If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

    When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before.
    –H. L. Mencken

    I imagine most people posting here believe this, except when it is their own preferred candidate.

    I’ll say one thing about this election, watching the cult of personality that surrounds Obama has been truly interesting to watch.

  81. #81 |  Danno49 | 

    OK Honeyko, I’ll bite – –

    How exactly did Radley get played by the left like a fish?

  82. #82 |  Danno49 | 

    Never mind.

    I think you’re stoned.

  83. #83 |  ktc2 | 

    Don’t waste your time Danno. I did. Just read the whole linked article. It proved nothing. The guy dissected the bill and despite the clear portion about all education being age and grade appropriate, still wants us to ignore that and find that Obama wanted to teach sexual whatever to kindergarden because other sections of the bill insist that all information be factually and medically acurate. You’d have to be stoned to say McCain wasn’t lying, or just trying really really hard to twist it (maybe he’s a lawyer?).

  84. #84 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    Well, I see where you’re coming from and I sympathize; but the problem with voting for Barr is that he isn’t going to win, and if he did by some miracle win he wouldn’t have the party infrastructure to do anything with it. The LP is chronically not ready for prime time and voting for Barr just encourages it to continue to ignore developing the low-level party structure (think Selectmen and envelope-stuffers) it needs.

  85. #85 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Voters are dogs who carry their leashes to their masters.

    This has never been more true. The nanny state is on the rise. It simply isn’t enough to say that transfats are bad, don’t eat them, no we have to have the violence of the State to keep us from eating transfats. It isn’t enough to say, wear your seat belt you’ll be much safer, we have to have State sanctioned coercion to make us wear them. I believe Radley posted a quote from Crispin Sartwell that read,

    “Noting that the policeman has a pistol, a club, a stun gun, a can of pepper spray, and a database that includes us, we feel happy and secure.

    Our submission is absolute: We want to be operated like puppets and provided for like pets.

    Terrorists hate our freedom. But we should be comfortable with that. We hate our freedom too.”

    Will Obama change any of this? No. For evidence see Obama’s proud stance on the Combat Meth Act of 2005. Protecting average americans form runny noses.

    Meh.

  86. #86 |  Honeyko | 

    Danno, if you’d visit the fucking link I provided and read the fucking article which contains the fucking text of the fucking Senate bill, you wouldn’t be playing bullshit games on the internet.

    (And ktc2 is either stoned as a bat, or a lying sack.)

    Is that so bloody goddamn hard? Apparently it is, because it didn’t take any more effort than that to verify the Missouri thing either.

    Jesus screechin’ weevils….
    Does everybody need everything spoon-fed to them now?

  87. #87 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Gracias, Steve. And +1 for quoting Mencken.

    I may be cynical, but I do believe that, like monkeys typing Shakespeare, if I were given an infinite amount of time, I would be able to persuade everyone to anarchism.

    The way things are going, it looks like the political establishment might just do the hard work for me.

  88. #88 |  ktc2 | 

    Yeah, the link which “proves” Obama wanted to teach sex to Kindergarden ends with the author asking one of the bills sponsors:

    So, I asked, you didn’t see it specifically as being about inappropriate touching?

    “Absolutely not.”

    Wow! Sounds damning no?

    Except that the bill wasn’t just about kindergarden! It was a bill about sex ed k-12. So of course the bill isn’t specifically “about inappropriate touching”! That would be moronic! Are you going to teach “good touch/bad touch” to high school seniors?

    It’s just another right wing twist the facts screw job.

  89. #89 |  Steve Verdon | 

    De nada Cynical, de nada.

  90. #90 |  Jefferson | 

    It’ll be okay sweetie, just show me on the doll where Honeyko touched you.

  91. #91 |  Ben | 

    >>You don’t think Obama believes his own economic policies will work?

    When you launch your political career in the house of man who has devoted his life to an organization whose stated goal is to overthrow capitalism by the use of violent coercive force; Yeah I think that he thinks his plan will work, but I don’t think we have the same definition of a working economic plan.

    Also I’m glad you are biased, whats a debate worth if we all fall in lockstep with each other. What’s Liberty if we all have to agree.

  92. #92 |  Danno49 | 

    Honeyko,

    Sorry, friend. It appears there is reality . . . and whatever it is you’re espousing. And ne’er the twixt shall meet.

    Peace to you.

  93. #93 |  Sydney Carton | 

    After a long day’s work, I just noticed that most of my comments are marked pretty darn negative. The one the least negative didn’t mention abortion at all.

    Is it all about sex to you guys? Abortion=freedom? Not, abortion=murder? Is there no such thing as a pro-life libertarian?

    I don’t mind reasonable disagreement, but sheesh.

  94. #94 |  Bill | 

    I actually am a pro-life libertarian, Sydney. Libertarian philosophy doesn’t resolve the question of abortion, unlike so many other issues.

    The problem is that if you apply libertarian principles to an underlying belife that human life begins somewhere between conception and birth, then abortion at that point or after is an initiation of force against another person, and voila, you become a pro-life libertarian (basically, pro-choice on everything except abortion).

    On the other hand, if you apply libertarian principles to a belief that human life doesn’t begin until birth, then forbidding abortion is an act of aggression against the pregnant woman, and you become a pro-choice (on the issue of abortion) libertarian.

  95. #95 |  robertl | 

    Well done post. Too bad we don’t have candidates who honestly lay out their opinions and then tell voters not to vote for them if they don’t agree.

  96. #96 |  annemg | 

    I’m at a loss. Even though I’m voting 3rd party, I can’t even begin to hope that one or the other wins. Obama is dreadful on the gun issue, I like my CCW thank you very much, and McCain is dreadful on 4th amendment issues. I think I’m going to be sick.

  97. #97 |  Jason | 

    Sums up my position perfectly Radley.

    I find some of the comments above absolutely dumbfounding. Have some of these people ever seen the word libertarian before? Did they bother reading your post before commenting on it? Why is it so hard to understand the concept of lesser of two evils? Or put it another way, Obama is less bad? And after all that they somehow think Radley is supporting Obama. After writing 8 paragraphs about how HE ISN’T SUPPORTING OBAMA. Jesus.

    It’s like sending an office wide email with important information. You are guaranteed to answer questions from half the office regarding information that was clearly provided in the email they’re referring to. It never fails and it’s unbelievable.

    Thank God we’re spending more money on government run schools, we clearly need it! (joke, people)

  98. #98 |  brooks | 

    Sydney Carton,

    you’ve said several times that you believe abortion is murder, but without saying how/why.

    “life” obviously started some 4 bya; human life … well, the cells that combine to make us are alive too, so there’s really no break in the development cycle.

    so, when does an actual person begin? is it murder to abort an anencephaplic fetus? if no, then who does it harm to abort an embryo (8 weeks, no nervous system), or an early fetus (no cortex)? how, exactly, is a first trimester abortion “murder”?

  99. #99 |  Aaron | 

    Bill: Exactly. It’s pretty hand to not look at a fetus that has gestated for 36 weeks and not think that there’s no real difference between it and a baby. On the other side it is pretty hard to think of an ovum that’s just merged with a sperm to be baby. Partisans on either side manage each of these, however, or at least claim to.

    Let me put forth a libertarian argument for on-demand abortions up to birth:
    I personally think that late abortions are clearly regrettable. I don’t think they’re necessarily murder though, even when we grant them personhood. There are cases of justifiable manslaughter. The easiest one is where the pregnancy puts the woman’s life in danger, but I don’t think it’s restricted to that. Forcing someone to be an incubator of a child they don’t want is a gross violation of bodily integrity and tantamount to slavery. I believe that women do actually own their bodies, and can deny life support even to those that need it.

    Now, can somebody come up with a libertarian argument for banning abortion from the minute sperm meets egg?

  100. #100 |  j.d | 

    one hundred.

  101. #101 |  Thomas | 

    I’d agree on the policy issues portion, but I think you are a bit off Radley on McCain having the nastier campaign. I have seen him actually call people off things and say this needs to stop, while Obama is either ignorant or gives tacit approval of dirtier plays by his supporters. They are building a cult of personality and Obama is going along for the ride. That frankly scares me.

    I do agree with Steve Verdon that I don’t believe he believes the story he is selling, he is just a politican like any other.

    Terrorific, I don’t know where you live, but having worked in the beltway I have experience with ‘Liberals and Democrats’ who have turned away and walked away from a conversation with me only based on where I worked. Without of finding out what my personal politics were. Granted I don’t say this is true of all of them, heck or even most folks I ever met, but I did have it happen on few different occasions. Prejudice exists on both sides of the aisle.

    In the end I’ll be voting Barr.

  102. #102 |  Bill | 

    Aaron, excellent post. Let me put forth an argument for a ban on abortion from conception that is consistent from libertarian principles. Not sure it’s exactly MY position, but you asked for one, so:

    If we can agree on the idea that human life begins somewhere between conception and birth, then we encounter the difficulty of determining just where on that continuum that life becomes “human”–and that is probably not possible, given that there are philosophical, scientific and religious components involved which we’ve been arguing about for decades.

    So, do we grant the benefit of the doubt to the woman seeking the abortion, or the fetus? You raise the issue of justifiable homicide, but the fetus has no intent to do harm to the woman, and of course it wouldn’t be homicide until the fetus reaches that undefined point at which it becomes human. And if the woman’s life is in danger, then it becomes a matter of balancing two lives; further, the intent of abortion when the mother’s life is in danger isn’t to harm the fetus, but to save the mother.

    But in an “optional” abortion, if the fetus is at the point of being human, it loses its life, whereas a woman who must carry the baby to term suffers inconvenience, discomfort and some risk (though abortion also carries risk). If you had to make the choice as to whether or not an abortion should be permitted, and then be placed in the position of either the fetus or the pregnant woman, without knowing which role you would play beforehand, which would you choose? Shouldn’t the one whose life is on the line be given the benefit of the doubt?

  103. #103 |  dsmallwood | 

    Sydney, #93
    i’m at a loss …

    abortion=murder
    reasonable disagreement

    i like political discourse, but if you say that people who have had an abortion are murders, you’re gonna need some thick skin. some of those people may not want to ‘debate’ with you.

  104. #104 |  brooks | 

    Thomas,

    don’t you remember the steady stream of lies the mcCain campaign ran in ads on campaign stops in september? even die-hard conservatives were calling them on it, to no avail. demonstrably false claims about obama’s “sex-ed” legislation implying he was a perv or worse, and the outright lies on the Bridge to Nowhere? obama’s obviously not the perfect candidate, but the distortions he ran here and there simply couldn’t compare.

    i’m voting barr myself come november, but i thought it was pretty obvious the mcCain camp got desperate after their palin ‘bump’ faded.

  105. #105 |  nobahdi | 

    I wonder what Radley’s record is for number of comments.

  106. #106 |  Danno49 | 

    For those of you libertarians who happen to be pro-life (I am also), I offer this website which I have offered here before:

    Libertarians for Life –> http://www.l4l.org/

    From the front page:

    To explain and defend our case, LFL argues that:

    1. Human offspring are human beings, persons from conception, whether that takes place as natural or artificial fertilization, by cloning, or by any other means.

    2. Abortion is homicide — the killing of one person by another.

    3. One’s right to control one’s own body does not allow violating the obligation not to aggress. There is never a right to kill an innocent person. Prenatally, we are all innocent persons.

    4. A prenatal child has the right to be in the mother’s body. Parents have no right to evict their children from the crib or from the womb and let them die. Instead both parents, the father as well as the mother, owe them support and protection from harm.

    5. No government, nor any individual, has a just power to legally “de-person” any one of us, born or preborn.

    6. The proper purpose of the law is to side with the innocent, not against them.

  107. #107 |  brooks | 

    Danno49,

    “persons from conception”? simply declaring it does not make it so. how would LFL argue that an undifferentiated embryo, for instance, meets any of the prerequisites for personhood? and — especially given your statement on cloning — how does this argument avoid the obvious reductio of granting rights to all healthy somatic cells in your average human being, all of which are potential persons given cloning technology? should blood donation or surgery be considered assault? specifics, please, and no hand-waving.

  108. #108 |  The Confabulum » Blog Archive » My Darn Maverick Tendencies | 

    [...] UPDATE — Radley Balko hits a related note: [...]

  109. #109 |  Big Chief | 

    I’m a voter in a Battleground state (Ohio). I’m voting for Barr. I don’t think Barr will win, but I certainly don’t believe it’s a wasted vote. A wasted vote is a vote for someone I don’t believe will follow the constitution.

    Aside from that, I am hoping the McCain wins. I think McCain would be a bad president. I think Obama will be even worse because he’ll have a Democrat led congress. One thing I think all Americans should have learned is that the best solution until we break the 2 party stranglehold is to have split government. Governmental gridlock is our only safeguard until the two party duopoly is broken.

  110. #110 |  Shamgar | 

    It’s the first time I’ll be voting in favor of a candidate for president instead of voting against all the others.

    Well – I think I’m too late to the game to really contribute to this discussion – but I’ll add my voice to those that are a bit incredulous that you’re buying Barr’s act. I dunno – maybe you’re right, but for my part I can’t swallow his line. I’ve heard a few too many speeches and interviews /since/ his announcement that to me seem to belie the libertarian claim.

    That said, I’m really shocked by the comment I quoted above. You couldn’t vote /for/ Browne? Or Badnarik? But you can vote for Barr? Or are you just a lot younger than I realized?

  111. #111 |  Shamgar | 


    Aside from that, I am hoping the McCain wins. I think McCain would be a bad president. I think Obama will be even worse because he’ll have a Democrat led congress. One thing I think all Americans should have learned is that the best solution until we break the 2 party stranglehold is to have split government. Governmental gridlock is our only safeguard until the two party duopoly is broken.

    I don’t think you’re paying attention. There is no gridlock with McCain and the Democrats. Most of his bills are co-sponsored by them. McCain in the whitehouse is the death of gridlock. Republicans will be made to toe the line, and democrats will willingly go along because they agree with him far more than republicans do.

    No, the best thing we can hope for (absent a miraculous third-party win) is to have obama/republican congress. The republicans will be unbelievably reactionary and everything will get bogged down.

  112. #112 |  supercat | 

    //As for gay marriage, I have no problem with it.//

    Can anyone identify for me any society of non-trivial size (say, over 1,000 people) that has lasted for a non-trivial duration (say, over 100 years), at any time in human history, which has NOT required every marriage to involve precisely one male?

    The requirement that marriage involve exactly one male is one of the most universal characteristics of human societies, and is consistently found even in societies which have never had any known contact with the outside world. It’s not just a “religion” thing–not by a long shot.

  113. #113 |  Elliot | 

    Radley: You don’t think Obama believes his own economic policies will work?

    Work for whom?

    I am certain that Obama knows that his policies will not work for most of the people who vote for him, if you consider “working for them” to be getting the results those voters expect (or, avoiding the problems those voters fear). I am certain he is cynically pandering to them, making vaguely-worded statements so those people will see what they want to see, knowing full well that he won’t (and doesn’t want to) work for their actual goals.

    He probably does think that his most collectivist policy ideas will work towards his class warfare goals, which his true-believer supporters also hold dear. He may even think that his plans, if implemented, will help the proles by lowering unemployment and raising their income. But I think that, for Obama, the latter is secondary to the former.

    “So what?” many here will ask, I expect. After all religious zealots and “right-wing” nationalists have murdered, tortured, and demolished freedom, so they are more scary than the leftists, correct? Well history shows those types are mere pikers compared to the leftist mega-murderers.

    So, I agree with you that McCain is corrupt and unprincipled, that Palin is a religious nut who is ridiculously unprepared. That they don’t believe their own propaganda doesn’t scare me one sliver of one percent as much as knowing that Obama believes his. That is the scariest thing about this whole campaign.

    When people try to compartmentalize social vs. economic issues, they overlook the fact that they are, ultimately, indistinguishable as both are of the realm of human action and both derive from the singular basis of freedom, self-ownership. And, the ridiculous “left” versus “right” false dichotomy should have been tossed out with powdered wigs. The real conflict is between individualism and collectivism. In that respect, anti-free-market egalitarianism and “country first” nonsense are both the enemy.

  114. #114 |  Mike | 

    The other reason I prefer Obama is that he has been in Washington for less time and is not as intellectually rigid as others. I think he might be persuadable on some issues.

    In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he stakes out a moderate Clinton-esque course on the economy. The horrible situation he’s being presented with will simply leave him little choice.

  115. #115 |  Big Chief | 

    It would take as much of a miracle to have a Republican congress as to have a 3rd party President. I don’t care what’s happened in congress, the President is on the big stage and other than Lieberman he’s going to find himself bereft of his “old friends.” Partisanship is too important at that level. Gridlock WILL exist. I would agree it would be at a higher level if it was reversed, but might as well talk about Nader being President as that happening.

  116. #116 |  Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Open Thread- Lost Dog Alert | 

    [...] This Radley Balko post was worth reading, explaining why, even though he believes Obama is a flawed candidate, he still supports him over McCain: [...]

  117. #117 |  Mike T | 

    On criminal justice issues, Obama has at least expressed concern about the soaring incarceration rate, has promised to end federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, and come out in opposition to mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes. Even here, he’s far from perfect (as I’ll explain in an upcoming article for Slate).

    Uh huh. Sure. I give him 24 hours before he caves in to political pressure and sends the DEA to deal with them.

  118. #118 |  Mike T | 

    You don’t think Obama believes his own economic policies will work?

    I don’t think he really cares, as he is clearly driven by ideology, and not results.

  119. #119 |  CTD | 

    You don’t think Obama believes his own economic policies will work?

    I think that Obama believes quasi-Marxist pandering will work to get him elected.

  120. #120 |  CTD | 

    Ok, Elliot said it much better than me.

    “That they don’t believe their own propaganda doesn’t scare me one sliver of one percent as much as knowing that Obama believes his.”

    +1

  121. #121 |  TJA | 

    Quote

    “That is the worst logic in the world. Why would you vote for someone who doesn’t represent your interests. ….. Of course, if McCain or Obama represents your views and beliefs then vote for one of them, but the lesser of two evils argument is a canard that has been perpetutated for far too long in America.”

    Why would you buy a Chevy when you want to drive a BMW? Because it is the best option available to you.

    Voting is about influencing the outcome of an election. A vote for Barr will have the same influence on the election as not voting. Pick the one of the two viable cantidates which best represent your view and vote for them.

  122. #122 |  Cynical In CA | 

    “A vote for Barr will have the same influence on the election as not voting.”

    Any individual vote has the most negligible influence on an election.

    Aggregate votes influence elections, but no matter which candidate wins, the real winner is the State.

    As I have demonstrated above, voting is force, force is violence, violence is the State, and elections are the only State-sanctioned form of violence allowed to the citizenry. The franchise is the manifestation of the myth of popular sovereignty, a secular sacrament, without which the State’s violence would be naked in plain sight.

    Thus, if true change is desired, not merely changing the direction in which the guns are pointed, it is NOT VOTING in the aggregate that is the most effective.

    Emma Goldman said, “If voting could change anything, it would be illegal.”

    My corollary is, “If NOT voting could change anything, it would be illegal.”

    Many States have mandatory voting laws. Were my ideas ever to become popular, you bet your sweet ass the U.S. would enact mandatory voting laws.

  123. #123 |  Danno49 | 

    brooks,

    I learned a long time ago that an abortion debate is a waste of time and a cause of significant negative feelings and thoughts toward those who hold opposing sides. I was not trying to entice you or anyone else into a discourse about it. And I will never engage in such debate again. It is hopeless and while I do care about it very much, I care more about the well-being of the people that I speak with on a day-to-day basis, be it on the internet or in person. Be it friend or ‘foe’. :D

    I did not provide the link nor points from their page for you or anyone else who shares your opinion (the majority of Radley’s readers, I know – I’ve been here for a LONG time) so much as I put it there because someone asked if there was a libertarian stance on pro-life. I merely provided what was asked for. But if you find it informative one way or the other, I am pleased.

    It is futile to expect anyone with a modicum of intelligence to change their mind over one of the most polarizing subjects in human history. I know I can never do that and nor would I even try. Everyone has their opinion and is, of course, entitled to it. I respect all arguments on all sides now. I didn’t used to be that way. But I have learned a great deal from the people who post here and am now quite capable of living in harmony with differences of opinion like this. I kind of said what I am about to say before but it is important to me that I be understood on this point so I will reiterate it. As far as I am concerned, all an abortion debate does is cause bad feelings and negativity to rise up in people that would not have been there otherwise. So out of respect for my fellow human beings, I just can’t do it knowing how sensitive this subject is to folks. I have unknowingly said enough to hurt or upset people in my life without engaging in something I know will cause harm to one person or another.

    Good day.

  124. #124 |  Jefferson | 

    Obviously, Barr is not going to win. But a vote for Barr is not worthless.

    I couldn’t possibly vote for McCain or Obama. So, my choice is Barr or staying home. Staying home is easier, and what I often do, but this time I think a vote for Barr is important. If it’s tight, and Barr captures enough to votes to “Naderize” McCain, it will send a message to Republicans.

    I know that sending this message is not likely to change anything, but it still feels good. When someone cuts you off in traffic, they are asking for you to flip them the bird. If you don’t go ahead and send them the message, it feels like unfinished business.

    And don’t forget, here in the FLA, it doesn’t take many votes to fuck things all up!

  125. #125 |  Chris Brennan | 

    “I prefer Obama over McCain in much the way I prefer rancid milk over rancid milk regurgitated by a cat.”

    – Will Wilkinson, research fellow at the Cato Institute. (http://www.culture11.com/node/32425?page_art=2)

  126. #126 |  Cynical In CA | 

    “When someone cuts you off in traffic, they are asking for you to flip them the bird.”

    Jefferson, I interpret you voting as cutting me off in traffic. So let me flip you the bird (hopefully in a tactful way).

    A vote for Barr is more than worthless. It is supportive of the machinery of State. By voting, you increase the level of violence in the world and enable the State to amplify your violence exponentially.

    Staying home, while easier from a physical standpoint, is morally courageous, especially if done in principle and publicly.

    Think what you want — thinking is generally a worthwhile endeavor. But be honest with yourself as you enter that confessional booth on Election Day and commit your secret violence upon your fellow man.

  127. #127 |  Eric the .5b | 

    Radley, I think you’re wrongly attributing strong comments about you to doctrinaire libertarians when I’ve always had the impression that they’re coming from republicans/conservatives of the Bush/McCain Lesser of two evils variety.

    There are folks (your Eric Donderos, your Glenn Reynolds) who were once actual libertarians, but whose beliefs have morphed until they can cheerfully support the most big-government, socialistic, and anti-freedom policies of Team Red. Just like Bill O’Reilly, they try to set themselves apart from the political faction they obviously support in order to have extra credibility; he calls himself an “independent”, while they call themselves “libertarians”.

  128. #128 |  Eric the .5b | 

    Also, I just wanted to say – awesome post, Radley.

  129. #129 |  brooks | 

    Danno49,

    no problem.

    (i’ve since looked at the site.)

    i don’t begrudge you your opinion, and appreciate your considered response. i am not gung ho for/against, i just wonder about anyone who is satisfied with an all-or-nothing kind of stance. (nothing personal, of course.)

    thanks, and well said.

  130. #130 |  sebritt | 

    Radley –

    This is the first time I’ve heard any halfway logical argument for preferring Obama over McCain. I was debating whether to vote for Bob Barr or McCain for the last couple of months. I felt that McCain was the lesser of evils to a small degree until he came rushing in to vote for the bailout. After watching him once again side with big government, I decided I had to vote for Bob Barr – wasted vote (so they say) or not. I dread the thought of the combination of Obama and a democratic congress, but there has to be a wake up call.

  131. #131 |  Billy Beck | 

    “Obama is a seriously flawed candidate.”

    It’s been at least ten years since an old friend of mine expressed his regret that there is no way to properly express explosive laughter while writing on the internet.

    That’s fuckin’ precious.

  132. #132 |  Danno49 | 

    brooks,

    Thank you,/b> for being so gracious. I really appreciate it.

  133. #133 |  Danno49 | 

    aw crap – sorry ;)

    brooks,

    Thank you for being so gracious. As I hope you will continue to be with my lack of a proper close bold tag above! I really do appreciate it.

    Now where’s that damned coffee?

  134. #134 |  Danno49 | 

    OK – now I am just embarrassing myself. Move along, nothing to see here!

  135. #135 |  bobzbob | 

    “1. Human offspring are human beings, persons from conception, whether that takes place as natural or artificial fertilization, by cloning, or by any other means.”

    THis is a belief, not a fact. The FACT that 70% of all zygotes spontaneously abort within the first 4 weeks after conception strongly argues the opposite.

    Of course if you believe that zygotes are persons from conception then you must conclude that since 70% of americans die in the first four weeks after conception that this is by far the greatest health care crisis facing the nation. What have you done about it?

  136. #136 |  Danno49 | 

    bobzbob,

    I am truly sorry my earnestness wasn’t enough for you. But I did meant what I said about not engaging in an abortion debate. Nice try, though. +1 :D

    Good day.

  137. #137 |  Lynette | 

    “I’ve made it clear on this site that (1) I plan to vote for Bob Barr, and (2) I hope the Republicans get clobbered next month. I am very clearly biased. And not in favor of Obama so much as against McCain. I make no pretense to objectivity.”

    Whoa Radley, what happened to the love of gridlock you professed in 2004? Please don’t tell us that was just convenient cover….

  138. #138 |  Leaning Towards the Dark Side » Blog Archive » Randomness | 

    [...] Radley Balko had a great piece the other day on his biases, I have trouble disagreeing with much of it. Obama is a seriously flawed candidate. And yes, Obama united with a Democratic Congress is a scary proposition. But on the issues I cover and that I think are most important this election, Obama is clearly the better choice. Will he disappoint, even on those issues? Almost assuredly. [...]

  139. #139 |  anonymous | 

    As one of those (former regular) readers who’s been disappointed and frustrated by your bias over the past couple of months — and I do think you’ve been coy and less than forthright about it, even now — I suggest you put a link to this as a sticky at the top of your blog.

    It would at least save a lot of time and trouble of re-hashing this point over and over.

  140. #140 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » Morning Links | 

    [...] examining some Paleozoic specimen just hauled up from a trench in the sea floor. Here’s why I preferred Obama to McCain: The GOP gave up all pretense of any limited government principles. They’re no longer [...]

  141. #141 |  Aaron | 

    supercat: in tibet polyandry was fairly common ,and still is in some circumstances. One of the most common forms is fraternal polyandry, where two brothers share a wife.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyandry_in_Tibet

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