New on NewsReal – Why Do College Conservatives Seem to Be Lagging Behind the Paulestinian Fringe?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

We can’t expect to defeat the Left if we don’t take the time to reflect on the state of the Right. One of conservatism’s biggest inter-movement issues, the race between mainstream conservatives and the radical paleo-libertarian alliance represented by Ron Paul, recently caught the attention of Keith William Neely, a Vanderbilt University student who wrote a Huffington Post article identifying the “Radical Right” as the “real threat to conservatives on college campuses.”

Don’t let that headline fool you; it may sound like the start of another by-the-numbers HuffPo hit piece, but Neely’s piece is really a substantive take on a serious problem facing the Right:

Radical organizations on the right, in hopes of garnering more attention for their ideas, have resorted to increasingly provocative tactics to spread their message on America’s college campuses. And to some degree, it’s been effective. Polling at the latest CPAC suggests that nearly half of its attendees were between the ages of 18 and 25, temporarily dispelling the old political adage that a conservative at 25 has no heart and a liberal at 35 no brain […]

At Vanderbilt for example, a local chapter of the radical libertarian organization Young Americans for Liberty has found limited success in putting on large events like the one on March 26th, where they prominently displayed the ‘National Debt Clock’ alongside photocopied images of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to illustrate the need for disbanding the Federal Reserve. At public events, they wear Guy Fawkes masks to advertise their presence, and have even been known to target conservatives with their extremist ire. At the recent IMPACT Symposium, members of the organization passed out leaflets pejoratively branding both Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol as ‘neo-cons’.

Remember YAL? I had a run-in with them last year, in which YAL writer Wesley Messamore wrote a crappy rebuttal to one of my Ron Paul takedowns and couldn’t defend it, so he instead demanded a video debate and declared victory when I said I wasn’t interested. YAL also shills for anti-American cyber anarchist Julian Assange, dislikes copyright laws, and writes insipid, self-worshipping poetry, so I’m glad to see someone else calling out these pretenders to the conservative mantle. Neely’s examples are hit and miss, though—I’ve also noticed the Paulestinians’ creepy interest in Guy Fawkes imagery, but opposing the Federal Reserve, however misguided they may be (an issue I readily admit I haven’t studied enough to pontificate on) doesn’t strike me as manifestly insane.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

A Lump of Coal from YAL

Another reason not to join the dishonest, treason-loving frauds at “Young Americans for Liberty” (a name so wrong, it should never be reprinted without quotation marks): they really suck at writing poetry. On Christmas Day, Bonnie Kristian posted YAL’s own version of “The Night Before Christmas,” and…well, it’s special. A sample:

“YAL members are young, and they are eager too.
”They know what they believe and they don’t like you.
“With strong donor support and the winds at their backs,
“I can assure you, they’re planning attack.”

“This Fall they were training; they’re incredibly smart.
“They’ve turned liberty activism into a science and art.
“Many volunteered for campaigns to express their strong voices.
“And came Election Day, the results reflected their choices.”

“The TEA Party is real; don’t you know what this means?
“Say goodbye and good riddance to your printing machines.
“Ron Paul has a new job – and, oh, I’m sure you will care,
“He’s the new Domestic Monetary Policy chair.”

Bernanke’s jaw quivered, and fear filled his eyes.
He knew I was serious, that we had uncovered his lies.
And just then he noticed the snow was starting to stick,
His paper sleigh was melting; this was the end of his shtick.

The awkward flow and the hit-&-miss rhyming are amusing enough, but the self-congratulation and the Ron-Paul-as-savior nonsense – neither of which has been earned, by the way – make this a true classic of self-parody.

WikiLeaks and the Soul of the Libertarian Movement (UPDATED)

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This week, I’ve devoted several posts to libertarians shilling for Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning. But are these examples representative of the libertarian movement as a whole? Let’s take a look around the blogosphere:
So while, there are some voices of reason and conscience within the libertarian movement, there are lots of bad apples. I sympathize with those good-faith believers in individual liberty and limited government who’d genuinely like to see their house get back in order; it’s going to be a tough, messy battle, But it’s a battle they’ve got to undertake if libertarianism as a whole is going to deserve respect. The health & respectability of any movement can be judged by the degree to which it self-polices wrongdoing by its members. Chris Wysocki captures my thoughts perfectly:
Of course it’s all predicated on their belief that the public has a “right” to know everything which the government says or does; coupled with the assertion that no statement is exempt from the free speech protections embodied in the First Amendment. It’s about “trust”, as in the libertarians have absolutely no trust in the elected government.

Welcome to the promise of a world governed by a cross between the pre-imperial Roman Senate and a typical New England town meeting. It’s one step above organized chaos, predicated on the notion that everyone is equally capable of governing himself.

And here I thought that only progressives dreamed of utopia […]

One could say the same about my libertarian interlocutors. They seek to destroy authority, and replace it with, well exactly what I’m not sure. It’s some sort of idealized leave-me-the-hell-alone universe where a subset of the Articles of Confederation are in effect and a never-ending supply of Founding Fathers (or a clone army comprised of Murray Rothbards and Friedrich Hayeks) stands at the ready to prevent deviation from The Path.

That in a nutshell is my beef with strong-form libertarianism. I believe in the Constitution, so much so that I an willing to work within its framework to effect the changes we so desparately need. The power of the ballot box should not be underestimated. In addition America has a long and noble history of peaceful protest, the massing of public opinion in a focused attempt to make our voices heard. We are America, hear us roar!
 UPDATE: The Classic Liberal responds in the comments:
The “prophetic” words were those of Russell Kirk, the undisputed godfather of the conservative movement who said “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace comes to pass in an era of Righteousness — that is, national or ideological self-righteousness in which the public is persuaded that ‘God is on our side,’ and that those who disagree should be brought here before the bar as war criminals.”

The quote that followed about Assange was not written by Lew Rockwell, but by retired USAF lieutenant colonel Karen Kwiatkowski. 

I apologize for my mistake.

Young Americans "for" Liberty Disgraces Themselves, as Expected

We already knew YAL was worthless thanks to the intellectual & moral caliber of Wesley Messamore’s attacks on me. Now YAL is honoring Judge Andrew Napolitano as their “Rebel of the Week” for defending Julian Assange. (They don’t, however, mention that Napolitano is a 9/11 Truther.) Between this, and YAL’s cult icon shilling for Assange, I guess we have the answer to the question I posed on Tuesday. Libertarianism is failing another basic moral test.

Why Shameless Ron Paul Apologist Wesley Messamore Isn’t Worth My Time

Last month, I wrote a NewsRealBlog post summarizing the case against Ron Paul. A Paul disciple named Wesley Messamore attempted to refute it at the Young Americans for Liberty blog. I responded in another NRB post, demonstrating that Wesley’s screed consisted almost entirely of dishonesty, misdirection, and simply ignoring information that was too inconvenient.

 
Curious to see how our apologist friend’s reaction, I gave him the link a couple weeks ago. No reply. Several days later, I wondered aloud if Wes was unwilling or unable to defend his conduct, to which he politely responded:
I’m a little jammed up presently with the election (timed perfectly to coincide with some other heavy lifting I’m doing for my non-political, commercial enterprises)… give me some time and I’ll respond. Or if you’re up for it, I propose we set up a debate to stream live.
Fair enough; we all have real lives beyond the blogosphere. I’d be happy to give him some time, but I wasn’t terribly interested in a live debate, given a) that my schedule is fairly “jammed up” as well, and b) the caliber of his arguments thus far made me doubt such a debate would be worth the time and effort. For politeness’s sake, I replied with the former explanation, and told him to take his time on a blog response. Simple, right?
 
Wrong. Wes turned around and decided that there was only one option after all, and that it had to be a video debate, because with columns, “it’s too easy to wiggle around, equivocate, ignore key arguments, misinterpret (deliberately or not) assertions, and just generally waste time.” For good measure, Wes also whined: “It’s just more time consuming for me to correct your evasions, obfuscations, and equivocations than it is for you to make them.”
 
At this point, my suspicion of what a waste of time this “debate” would be was confirmed. Wes wanted to change the subject from his ineffectual propagandizing to my supposed unwillingness to accept his challenge (which didn’t start out as a challenge). Unsurprisingly, today he declared victory on YAL using that very spin.
 
But as I told him, my rebuttal’s currently the last word in the debate—the record shows that I’m the one who confronted my opponent’s challenge head-on, not him. My original claims remain intact, while his attempted rebuttal has been discredited. Anyone can read it, and he has done nothing to change the situation. Unless he comes up with a substantive defense of his words or a substantive criticism of mine, I have no need, reason, or obligation to pursue this further.
 
And anybody halfway familiar with the average cable news “debate” ought to recognize that there isn’t a huge difference between the two formats in the ease with which people can get away with rhetorical trickery. I don’t deny the value of direct real-time discussion, but it’s actually just as arguable that blogging provides the most accountability to audiences.
 
For one thing, spoken arguments are not fundamentally different from written ones—people make claims and state opinions, and audiences digest them and compare them to one another. For another, blogging offers the convenience of being able to directly link to sources, which audiences can evaluate for themselves with a single click.
 
Indeed, if you want to know whether or not this medium facilitates sufficient accountability—and, I suspect, the real reason Wes has a problem with it—look no further than the fact that I’ve already been quite able to expose Wes’s use of the very tactics he pretends to oppose (and shamefully attributes to me):
  • I pointed out that he repeatedly made wild, false accusations about what I and other Paul critics think about other issues, apparently without having made any effort to ascertain my actual views first, and without even trying to present evidence that Paul critics are driven by a broader lack of conservatism.
  • I pointed out that he completely ignored the supporting evidence for my claims about Paul’s fringe tendencies and his dishonesty about Israel and other national security & foreign policy issues. His most transparent attempts to change the subject were an astoundingly stupid analogy to David Horowitz and pretending that I criticized Paul for merely being against “Washington running our lives.”
These are specific examples not of Wes being mistaken (although I trounced him for that, too), but of Wes being dishonest. Examples of, to use his words, “evasion, obfuscation, equivocation, dropped context, (etc.).” That dishonesty comes so easily to him, and that he keeps it up even after he knows he’s been called out on it, makes it all the more pitiful when he pretends not to know why I call him dishonest: “Apparently in his eyes, if I say anything in disagreement with him, I’m not merely wrong, I’m lying.”
 
Wes, you know exactly what I’m referring to when I talk about dishonesty. And your conduct only proves I’m right not to expect a live debate with you to be worth the opportunity cost.
 
Lastly, a few words about the time aspect. In one of his trademark lame gotcha attempts, Wes claims the “lengthy” comments I’ve left on his blog take more time than his dream debate would, which is absurd—the small handful of comments I left there each took a minute or two at most. Granted, this post took considerably longer (and is arguably an exercise in futility), but I figured that if Wes can devote another blog post to spinning what went down, I can devote one to setting the record straight.
 
As I said, my daily life is “jammed up” with plenty of responsibilities, such as my senior-year academic duties at Hillsdale College, several extracurricular organizations, holding down an on-campus job, blogging daily for NewsRealBlog, and my own (admittedly-neglected lately) personal blog. Could I make time for a live debate with Wes in the near future? Probably. But again, it wouldn’t be worth the opportunity cost to me, given that I won the blog debate, and that Wes’s conduct has overwhelmingly demonstrated that he’s just not worth the effort.
 
(And please, spare me the absurdity of suggesting that a single live debate would “settle” anything. If you were a genuine seeker of truth, willing to change your opinion when presented with a better argument or contrary information, you would have done so already, and you certainly wouldn’t have engaged in as much blatant dishonesty. I highly doubt you’d concede much of anything, either about Ron Paul’s integrity or your own.)
 
But y’know what? When the holiday season rolls around, and I’ve got more time to kill, maybe I’ll take Wes up on his offer. It would be fun to see his smug propagandizing on full display, challenge him on his dubious idea of character, and watch him try to justify his blind devotion to the personality cult surrounding a single deranged politician.
 
We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m content with the fact that he badly lost this fight, and that he’s demonstrated that Young Americans for Liberty doesn’t deserve the support of serious conservatives.