With Friends Like These…

Monday, February 9th, 2009

I’ve always found the “Republican Liberty Caucus” to be a little lacking in the “liberty” department. The gist of the group was to form a coalition of Republicans who differentiated themselves from the fundie wing of the party, and would nudge the party leadership in a direction less obsessed with the culture war.

Several years ago, I took myself off their mailing list after getting a letter from the then-chairman (can’t remember his name) that was mailed to me with an Ayn Rand postage stamp. The letter opened with an appreciate of Rand’s legacy and noted the irony of her being honored with a stamp by a government agency she’d likely have wanted to abolish. But the letter then spent a considerable amount of space denouncing Rand for her godlessness. I’m not a huge fan of Rand, nor do I expect everyone to share my views on religion. I just thought it was an odd way to use the organization’s funds, given its stated mission.

All of which is a roundabout way of pointing out this laughably over-the-top blog post from the RLC’s Illinois chapter website:

President Barack Hussein Obama Jr. continues to nominate persons of ill-repute to his Cabinet and Sub-Cabinet, including a pornography defender and a woman who covered up for her tax cheat husband by lying about the financial obligations to Congress. The lack of ethics of this budding administration is astounding — kind of like a 21st Century version of Roman Emperor Caligula. An orgy of spending, lying and strange sex.

David Ogden is the second person in command in the U.S. office of the Attorney General. Ogden must be confirmed by the Senate.

According to a number of reports, as an attorney in private practice, Ogden filed court briefs:

• Pushing for gays in the military.
• Defending obscenity and pornography cases on behalf of clients like Playboy, Penthouse, and the largest distributor of hardcore pornographic movies.

In various cases, he has also filed briefs opposing:

• Parental notification before a minor’s abortion
• Spousal notification before an abortion
• The military’s policy against public homosexuals serving in uniform
• The Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act.

This man is a cultural radical. Contrary to liberal dogma, pornography is not a free speech issue. Pornography is degrading to women, and child porno is a crime. Ogden should not be confirmed.

I don’t believe I read the report describing how Ogden wrote a brief in defense of “child porno.”

And Playboy? Really?

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42 Responses to “With Friends Like These…”

  1. #1 |  Brandon Bowers | 

    Very prolific today, Radley.

  2. #2 |  Zeb | 

    Are those supposed to be negative things he listed there?

    This seems to happen to me a lot. Someone lists a bunch of facts about some politician which I think are meant to be some sort of horrible smear, but they make me think “maybe this guy is not so bad after all.

    Another thing I wonder about, but have never had a satisfactory answer to: how is pornography not a free speech/press issue? I.e. how is it not protected?

  3. #3 |  Boston | 

    My guess is they are equating opposing The Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. with defending Child Pron. Odd. Also i like how Playboy et. al. get a mention though the largest distributor of hardcore pornographic movies. which would be Adam and Eve did not get mentioned. Also i didn’t know that he defended playboy, the only case i know of is the Adam and Eve case.

  4. #4 |  UCrawford | 

    Yup…got to say that I’m in complete agreement regarding the uselessness of the Republican Liberty Caucus. Frankly my (admittedly limited) exposure to it gave me the impression that it consisted primarily of neoconservative nutjobs who were marginally more “limited government” than the average neoconservative nutjob. Except when it comes to Jesus, gays, war and free speech, of course…on those topics they thump a Bible as well as the rest and they’re all about the government dictating moral behavior to and forcing it on the ignorant masses no matter how anti-liberty the means and ends.

  5. #5 |  Regarding Liberty | 

    It’s an issue I’ve faced a couple times as well. While I believe the particular path you take isn’t nearly as important as where the path leads, it can be depressing to find otherwise good arguments for liberty necessarily predicated (in the author’s opinion) on religious belief. I’d like to think that humans don’t need to believe in an imaginary creature in the sky in order to respect each other’s rights. Although if the majority are wired to need to believe in some central authority figure, better a make-believe god than a real government, right?

  6. #6 |  UCrawford | 

    Although if the majority are wired to need to believe in some central authority figure, better a make-believe god than a real government, right?

    Only until they get to the point where they’ve decided that whatever they think their god is telling them is an inviolate dictate that everyone else must accept…willing or not, by force if necessary.

    Which is pretty much the description of neoconservative doctrine to me.

  7. #7 |  John | 

    I’m at odds with the RLC’s blog post to understand how it is wrong for a lawyer to take on clients and defend them in court. If he finds this conduct objectionable, then he’s basically finding the legal profession objectionable — and should just come out and say so.

  8. #8 |  Michael | 

    I thought the Libertarian ideals would be opposed to forcing religion down anyone’s throat! And, I think that was the idea, presupposed by the founding fathers, of the first amendment. No tyrannical rule and freedom to practice ones own religion. But, I guess the caucus still has an agenda that is, still, not inline with the First Amendment of the Constitution. It just doesn’t have the ring of “Freedom and Liberty” to me! Radically proclaiming a lawyer is promoting child porn, because he works for a client who is defending a pornography case, is really out in left field, is it not? You have revealed to me, I have to be real careful in which “Liberty” programs I support.

  9. #9 |  Jefferson | 

    w.t.f

    Can we all join and take that crap over? The concept is not bad.

  10. #10 |  grodless | 

    Radley,

    Why aren’t you a huge fan of Ayn Rand?

  11. #11 |  fishbane | 

    I’d like to think that humans don’t need to believe in an imaginary creature in the sky in order to respect each other’s rights. Although if the majority are wired to need to believe in some central authority figure, better a make-believe god than a real government, right?

    Unless, of course, your fellow travelers don’t, you know, respect other’s rights. Like to pr0n, or gay sex, or swearing.

    I know I differ with a lot of my erstwhile fellow travelers here, but liberty is more than just economic liberty, and bible throwing porch monkeys are not your friend.

  12. #12 |  Rimfax | 

    And on the economic side of things, the liberty-minded Republicans only seem to have found their voice for economic liberty now that a Democrat is in the White House. And in all of their contemporary complaints about “The Stimulus”, there is precious little mention of the damage done over the past 8 years. I’m having difficulty finding any use for them at all.

  13. #13 |  UCrawford | 

    By the way

    President Barack Hussein Obama Jr. continues to nominate persons of ill-repute to his Cabinet and Sub-Cabinet

    Who, politicians? I agree completely, but sadly I’ve yet to see the president, Democrat or Republican, who doesn’t fill his cabinet with plenty of those useless bastards. Obama’s appointments aren’t any worse than most that you’ll see and they’re a damn sight better than some of the morons that Bush put in charge.

  14. #14 |  NutellaonToast | 

    You mean the GOP has a crap load of completely out of touch lunatics who favor ridiculous dogmatism over actual thought? Man, glad I’m not one of those!

  15. #15 |  tim | 

    President Barack Hussein Obama Jr.

    I stopped reading right there. Its bad enough when they use the middle name but “jr”? Really? That’s all they got?

  16. #16 |  Robin | 

    Religion is a weapon for these people. It doesn’t inform their views or morals, but is just used to justify their repressed parochial little lives.

  17. #17 |  Bill Cooke | 

    I don’t understand this obsession with gays in the military. Didn’t the ancient Greeks and Romans fight well?

  18. #18 |  Lior | 

    As far as I understand the functioning of the US legal system, it is the job of a lawyer to argue in court for the position that is best for the client. The lawyer is not charged with arguing the best positions for society.

    Of course, in the RLC’s ideal universe, only those who are on the RLC’s good side deserve to be represented by lawyers. Everyone else is a “bad person” who has no rights whatsoever …

  19. #19 |  IB | 

    First it was gays in the military. Now child porn.

    What will be next? Commonplace bestiality?

    I blame gay marriage.

  20. #20 |  billy-jay | 

    fishbane,

    Are you taking it back?

  21. #21 |  Scooby | 

    Defending obscenity and pornography cases on behalf of … the largest distributor of hardcore pornographic movies.

    Who is that? AT&T or Hughes Satellite?

  22. #22 |  Tom G | 

    Funny thing about Playboy…in 1964, they published an INTERVIEW with…yes, Ayn Rand !

  23. #23 |  chancelikely | 

    See, it’s not the Republican [Liberty Caucus], it’s the [Republican Liberty] Caucus. Their goal is defending Republican Liberty, specifically the liberty of Republicans to make vague race-bogeyman slurs against the president and just totally freak out about consensual sexual activity like pornography and homosexuality.

  24. #24 |  j.d. | 

    I think anyone who casually defines his or herself as a ‘republican’ ought to read more Rand, or at least begin by reading her. It would do the party well.

  25. #25 |  Lunchtime Links — FR33 Agents | 

    [...] Speaking of Radley, he finds the Republican Liberty Caucus to be more Republican and less liberty minded. [...]

  26. #26 |  Jake Witmer | 

    Thanks for the heads up on this one. Interestingly, I haven’t thought about the nonentity the RLC for months, and then today, I write them a long email about how the libertarian quadrant of their Nolan chart has been modified to include the word “Enterpriser”. How dorky is that? How many people out in the general public will read that, and say to themselves “Oh yes, politically I’m an Enterpriser! I’ve finally found my political home!”

    They couldn’t come up with “Freedom”, “Free Market”, or “Capitalist”? There’s a group called “Freedom Democrats”

    As far as understanding what’s going on in the general public’s minds, the RLC (like most State chapters of the LP) is utterly clueless. I had only clicked on the RLC’s link to check and see if they were doing anything in WY, since that’s where the book “Molon Labe” takes place. “Molon Labe” describes a reasonable plan to take over WY and make it a free state. Essentially the plan is identical to the NH plan, but the people involved just thought that NH’s demographics and numbers sucked.

    I agree, although I think they both stand a chance of working, and don’t want to pee on anyone’s parade (Even though I think that the NH project is unlikely to find the 202 electable libertarians that they need to achieve simple-majority control of their state legislature). I&R is incredibly restricted in WY, I have yet to check up on NH. Alaska has the best of all worlds, except that people don’t want to move there. (AK is also closer to the Free Man’s movement in the Yukon, and BC, that is outlined in the google video “The Magnificent Deception”, which I highly recommend if just for Robert Arthur Mendard’s speech.)

    Of course, if I had seen this post, it would have lowered my thoughts of the RLC even more. It’s completely not viable. Anyone with a philosophical clue is in the LP. I totally understand Rand’s opposition to religion, and even moreso after being a LP petitioner for years, and hearing everyone give religion as their reason for supporting tyranny.

    Religion is unreason, armed with force of authority. The number one illogical justification for tyranny? “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (…Never mind that “Caesar” stole it from you, or that the kingdom of heaven is imaginary, or that even if it weren’t, you’re not there yet!)

    Those are some of my thoughts of the day.

    Thanks for staying on top of the BS, Radley! (I don’t have the patience to.) Definitely check out http://www.thenewspaper.com for some heartening news though, about how traffic cameras keep getting destroyed in Europe, and in the few US states with balls.

    -Jake Witmer
    http://www.fija.org
    -Know your rights as a citizen and juror!

  27. #27 |  aaron | 

    Men in their 40s (and over) should not be talking about Ayn Rand.

  28. #28 |  livingpre911still | 

    You have to excuse the republicans (of which I was a part of for decades) they are searching for their soul… which was sold off to big goverment…

  29. #29 |  adam | 

    Just another in the closet republican trying to tell everyone else how to live. Doesn’t anyone else notice that whenever someone is really anti gay in public, they are usually gay in private? (Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, etc.) Whenever a politician or other public figure, especially a republican, raises hell about homosexuality, I just assume they are gay.

  30. #30 |  zeph | 

    Pornography is degrading to women? Presumably not to the satisfaction of those engaged in it but, I suppose, they should not be imagined to have rights, being women…? Is that the subtext?

    How is gay male pornography degrading to women, by the way?

  31. #31 |  billy-jay | 

    “Men in their 40s (and over) should not be talking about Ayn Rand.”

    Okay, aaron, I’ll bite. Why not?

  32. #32 |  Nick T | 

    Zeph,

    Seriously dude, it’s degrading to women because they said so, homey. And when things are degrading to women they deserve no access to the legal system or first amendment rights! duh!

    All sarcasm aside, any criticism levelled against any lawyer based on the clients he or she represented is completely illegitimate on its face. The only legitimate criticism that involves someone’s legal practice is unethical behavior within that practice. In other words, representing a rapist is a whole lot less questionable than knowingly ellicitting false testimony from a cop in order to convict that same rapist.

  33. #33 |  Rick Caldwell | 

    …Even though I think that the NH project is unlikely to find the 202 electable libertarians that they need to achieve simple-majority control of their state legislature…

    They don’t need 202 to change things in NH. They just need 25-30, in order to be the swing caucus in votes that split along party lines. Four Free State Project movers have been elected there this year, and they have some nine or ten allies who were in NH prior to the FSP, so they are already nearly there, and the moving has just barely started.

    I think the Free State Project is a great idea.

  34. #34 |  Kristen | 

    The whole McCarthy thing probably soured a lot of people on Ayn Rand. Definitely did so for me.

  35. #35 |  Elliot | 

    (#10) grodless: Radley, Why aren’t you a huge fan of Ayn Rand?

    Usually when a libertarian says things like that, it’s not because Rand didn’t follow her principles to their logical conclusion (i.e., she defended government). Rather, it’s because reactions like this:

    (#27) aaron: Men in their 40s (and over) should not be talking about Ayn Rand.

    It’s the ubiquitous attitude that only the idealistic neophyte gives Rand any serious attention. That attitude comes from ignorance, and from a fear that to cite Rand is to invite ridicule.

    Certainly, there are plenty of young people who idolize the Russian radical after reading her books, but who are not well-read or experienced enough to hold down their own in a more general discussion of politics, or who pick and choose from her, without the depth of principles necessary to realize why she is correct (when she is correct). So, when waterheads like aaron sneer about age, the implication is that everyone who is even talking about Ayn Rand is thus guilty of the sins of the most shallow, fresh-faced kids. (Think just how completely irrational and childish it is to stuff your fingers in your ears at the mere mention of a highly influential writer, screaming, “la la la la la!” What utter contempt for free thought.)

    Go look up Edward Cline’s postmortem for Buckley, and watch him discuss the disgusting treatment of Rand by religious conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr.. Or, look up Whittaker Chambers’ contemptible lie that “[f]rom almost every page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding, ‘To a gas chamber – go!’” Again, notice the urgency in such a condemnation, the utter fear that people might just pick up the book. actually read what she wrote, think for themselves, and thus discover that this anti-collectivist bulwark was anything but a fascist. When you consider that religion is most often just another form of collectivism, this shouldn’t be all that surprising, as disappointing as it might be that the supposed defenders of capitalism completely missed the basic principles of individualism which provide the ethical underpinning for the free market.

    But beyond this attitude borne of ignorance and fear, there is the killer of rational attempts to find common ground: pragmatism. Ironically, Rand herself was a pragmatist who rejected following the principles of individualism to their logical conclusion. Still, she went further than most self-described libertarians are willing to go. To give her credence is to risk revealing one’s own limited application of principles. In a similar vein, Republicans reacted in fear to Ron Paul–who is by no means the intellectual equivalent of Rand–because he dared to question so many of their sacred positions, like drug prohibition and foreign entanglements. Ron Paul became a YouTube inspiration to millions of people who recognized that there was something insane about the status quo, even though most (I would wager) had only a trivial understanding of politics–which is probably more than most American voters have.

    Look at the state of politics in America today, as the Senate gets ready to pass the monstrosity of TARP 2009 (part 1). Then consider that a common criticism of Rand was that her villains were unrealistic caricatures. Perhaps to someone in 1980 or 1995 it might be easy to swallow that criticism. But today, her predictions have been shown to be tragically accurate. Just watch the crazed crowds at an Obama rally, or how the media and public figures have been swooning like ridiculous school girls (there simply is no way to parody those fools).

    So, stick your fingers in your ears if you like, but don’t pretend to have any intellectual integrity if you do so. And, keep her at arms length for fear of being a target of the attitude, but know that you are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

  36. #36 |  Elliot | 

    (#34) Kristen: The whole McCarthy thing probably soured a lot of people on Ayn Rand. Definitely did so for me.

    So Rand’s contempt for McCarthy bothered you? I mean, history has shown that many of the people that “leftists” defended as innocent victims of McCarthy did turn out to be actual Soviet agents, but McCarthy’s methods were often unethical, as Rand argued.

    I’m sure you’ve read http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/texts/huac.html

    Right?

  37. #37 |  Elliot | 

    A couple things you should notice at http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/texts/huac.html :

    1. Rand’s involvement was with the House Committee and her testimony predated Senator McCarthy’s infamous activities by three years. One must actively ignore this (as well as her public condemnations) to attach Ayn Rand to “[t]he whole McCarthy thing.” Yet another critic of Ayn Rand who just makes things up out of thin air. (There are valid criticisms, but if you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t dishonestly suggest you actually do. Keep quiet.)

    2. Nixon is mentioned once in the transcript, but he had no questions for Rand.

  38. #38 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » The Illinois RLC Gets Fightin’ Mad | 

    [...] I poked fun at a silly post on the website of the Illinois Republican Liberty [...]

  39. #39 |  Stephanie | 

    Just wanted to say that I also had my name removed from the RLC’s mailing list some time ago because I noticed the same questionable definition of liberty from both the state and national chapters. A year or two ago someone from this group ran for state legislator, and his campaign (from what I saw) emphasized the candidate’s opposition to gay marriage. It seems to me that any truly liberty-minded person could find another issue to center their campaign around (criminal justice reform, transportation issues, state spending, etc.).

  40. #40 |  Republican Liberty Caucus tries to expose the Agitator « Muse Free | 

    [...] libertarianism. For those unaware, the Republican Liberty Caucus (as Radley himself pointed out in this earlier post) opposes “strange sex”, claims that “pornography is not a free speech [...]

  41. #41 |  DBN | 

    Look at the state of politics in America today, as the Senate gets ready to pass the monstrosity of TARP 2009 (part 1). Then consider that a common criticism of Rand was that her villains were unrealistic caricatures.

    I always thought that the biggest criticism of Rand was that her PROTAGONISTS were unrealistic caricatures…

  42. #42 |  Jake Witmer | 

    @ #33 | Rick Caldwell | February 10th, 2009 at 11:52 am (responding to me at #26) “They don’t need 202 to change things in NH. They just need 25-30, in order to be the swing caucus in votes that split along party lines.”

    –This is what I hate about “libertarians” who both engage in party politics and disavow party politics: they know absolutely nothing about politics, and have not bothered to research the Libertarian Party’s successes and failures. They agree with one idea “anarcho-zionism”, and disregard the long, long history of broken bones and brutal failures.

    This is why you are totally and completely wrong: Libertarians do not become a “swing vote”. Since the Ds and Rs are both vastly more politically sophisticated in strategy than the Libertarians are, and neither opposes unlimited government, wht happens is this: the Libertarians get a few luke warm sympathizers, as long as they don’t do anything significantly radical. Yet, in order to do anything significant (such as “nullification to its final conclusion of armed resistance”), they’d need at least 51% of the State legislature. …Which is REALLY HARD, IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, SINCE NH has the largest State legislature of all, and the smallest legislative districts of all!

    “Four Free State Project movers have been elected there this year, and they have some nine or ten allies who were in NH prior to the FSP, so they are already nearly there, and the moving has just barely started.”
    Blah, blah, blah, blah blah. NOTHING radical will happen until they have 51% of the legislature, and that WILL NOT HAPPEN.

    Now, don’t get me wrong: something is better than nothing. Good luck to them, and godspeed. They’ve made their choice, and they might as well follow through to the best of their ability. UNLESS THEY WANT TO MOVE AGAIN, AND MAKE THE FAR BETTER CHOICE OF ALASKA OR WYOMING.

    “I think the Free State Project is a great idea.” Me too. Concentration of resources should be done intelligently. Unfortunately, NH was not chosen intelligently. It was put to a vote of dilletantes who don’t really comprehend, nor value individual freedom. …Destination poorly chosen, fairly well executed, otherwise.

    But there is another benefit in NH: It is a good barometer of delusion. When NH gets serious, it might be time for the second attempt.

    On a scale of 1000, most libertarians are at around 850 in the realm of philiosophy.

    On a scale of 1000, most libertarians are at around 100 in the realm of strategy and tactics.

    There are many suggested reasons for why this is so. I think they are all true to some extent, some more true than others. In no particular order, here they are:
    1) People found it “hard going” to get to the right philosophy, and now they want everyone to recognize that “hard work”. They’re so proud to have philosophy figured out, that they like meeting with other people who have done the same, to pat themselves on the back: usually in monthly supper club meetings.
    2) People want to be recognized as being philosophically perfect, and think that entitles them to a leadership position in the LP. Yet, they have no idea how to get anyone elected, much less on a shoestring budget. So the leadership positions go to the writers and ponderers, and not to anyone willing to put on a suit and say something that makes sense to Joe Sixpack.
    3) Many people are in the libertarian movement because of one or two issues. When someone who is not clueless about getting elected wants to run as a libertarian, if that person is anti-liberty on any issue(s), as they inevitably are), they are told to “take a hike”. Had not Ron Paul run as a libertarian in 1988, and had he not called himself a libertarian for 30 years, his stances on abortion and immigration would have caused the libertarian leadership to oppose him. And, had he come to them as an unelected 30 year old, who told them he was “going to get elected” the party leadership in virtually every area of the USA would have chased him out of their local supper club meeting, or claimed to support him, and then not done so.
    4) Libertarians think that being an individualist means not working with a group. If they even subconsciously think this, then they are totally useless to any group effort. (collectivists out-organize us for a reason! They naturally view working as a group as constructive. As such they are wired to defeat us in electoral competitions even where we have a huge advantage.)
    5) Libertarians have not read the basic educational material on strategy: they are interested only in perfecting their philosophy, or are still newbies who find intellectual discussion more interesting than strategic planning.
    6) Libertarians are lazy, like all people. Getting elected is hard work. Moreover, it is hard work that other libertarians don’t respect.
    7) Since getting elected has no reward for competent libertarians (the pay is worse than what they are currently making), they don’t try their harderst to win elections.
    8) Libertarians think that other people can identify good ideas, so they campaign on the strength of good ideas. When they show up to speak, the good ideas are rejected for the more simplistic and irrelevant ideas of their opposition.
    9) Libertarians don’t think that image and social standing are the most important factors in a candidate, TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE CASTING THE VOTES. They are. …Get over it.
    10) Libertarians don’t place enough value on walking districts, and place too high a value on money and signage, etc… (They have the wrong ideas about “what works to overcome a shortfall of support”)

    So, those are 10 overlapping reasons why Libertarians fail to get elected. It’s too bad they’re all true. I could have refined them, and came up with more, but those are the elephants in the room ( …and, unfortunately, the elephants in the House.)

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