News and comment from the presidential race

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Bureaucrats in the tank for Hillary, Trump's policy wonks quitting, why Ron Paul isn't backing the Libertarian ticket -- after the jump.

Glenn Reynolds writes that the bureaucracy have proven that they won't act as a check on Hillary Clinton, and that reality has led him to a path out of the unpleasant dilemma of this presidential election:

So what to do? Well, the answer to me comes from a column by Bill McGurn in the Wall Street Journal, noting that the worst scandal in Hillary's email scandal isn't what Hillary did -- we expect her to act like a crook -- but rather that the supposedly professional, nonpartisan civil service rolled over for her, and even offered cover. As McGurn writes:
Even today her former department is still resisting efforts to make public the emails she tried to hide. Groups such as Judicial Watch have done yeoman's work in forcing the emails into the sunlight--but they have also had to get court orders to pry them out of an obstructionist State Department.

It's a disturbing pattern, and unfortunately it's not limited to State. There have been similar questions about the integrity and professionalism of the IRS ever since the American people learned in 2013 that it was unfairly targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Three years, many congressional hearings and disappearing hard drives later, there is still no evidence the IRS has ended the practice.

And the FBI and Department of Justice have seemed curiously uninterested in going after people for behavior that, in other circumstances, would be a surefire ticket to federal prison....

And, of course, the press is in the tank for the Democrats as usual. Bad news about Obama and Clinton has been soft-pedaled, with reporters sometimes admitting that they don't want to help Trump.

So if the choice in 2016 is between one bad candidate and another (and it is) the question is, which one will do the least harm. And, judging by the civil service's behavior, that's got to be Trump. If Trump tries to target his enemies with the IRS, you can bet that he'll get a lot of pushback -- and the press, instead of explaining it away, will make a huge stink. If Trump engages in influence-peddling, or abuses secrecy laws, you can bet that, even if Trump's appointees sit atop the DOJ or FBI, the civil service will ensure that things don't get swept under the rug. And if Trump wants to go to war, he'll get far more scrutiny than Hillary will get -- or, in cases like her disastrous Libya invasion, has gotten.

So the message is clear. If you want good government, vote for Trump -- he's the only one who will make this whole checks-and-balances thing work.

On the other hand, Trump's policy staff -- the group he assembled during the primaries to reassure conservatives he was serious about policy and listening to sound advice -- have been quitting, because they aren't getting paid and their candidate isn't interested in their work:

Since April, advisers never named in campaign press releases have been working in an Alexandria-based office, writing policy memos, organizing briefings, managing surrogates and placing op-eds. They put in long hours before and during the Republican National Convention to help the campaign look like a professional operation.

But in August, shortly after the convention, most of the policy shop's most active staffers quit. Although they signed non-disclosure agreements, several of them told me on background that the Trump policy effort has been a mess from start to finish.

"It's a complete disaster," one disgruntled former adviser told me. "They use and abuse people. The policy office fell apart in August when the promised checks weren't delivered."

Three former members, all of whom quit in August, told me that as early as April they were promised financial compensation but were later told that they would have to work as volunteers. They say the leaders of the shop, Rick Dearborn and John Mashburn, told many staffers that money was on the way but then were unable to deliver. Dearborn is Sen. Jeff Sessions's (R-Ala.) chief of staff, while Mashburn is the former chief of staff for Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C)....

The last straw for some came in early August, when the Washington policy shop held two marathon work sessions designed to plan out how to get Trump ready for the policy portions of the upcoming presidential debates. The Washington policy team came up with detailed plans about who would brief Trump on specific policy topics over the course of several weeks.

But after Dearborn worked his staff overtime to get the recommendations, the campaign leadership decided to go in a different direction. "The New York office realized that their candidate would not be receptive to that level of intense preparation," one former adviser said.

A diarist at RedState looks back to a 1990 article to explain why one-time Libertarian Party presidential nominee Ron Paul and his allies in the liberty movement aren't supporting the Gary Johnson / Bill Weld Libertarian Party ticket. In short, Johnson and Weld are really just social liberals and economic moderates who reject liberty in favor of libertinism:

I could write a very lengthy article on all of the instances Johnson and Weld have rejected libertarian principles. They do it almost as often as Donald Trump insults someone on Twitter. At best, Gary Johnson is a centrist (but moving left every day) with some libertarian leanings. He has close to zero intellectual understanding of the libertarian philosophy. Bill Weld is even worse, a classic Rockefeller Republican who wouldn't surprise anybody if he became a Democrat tomorrow.

Additionally, the two governors have staked out a place in the culture wars, labeling themselves "socially liberal." Johnson and Weld are no doubt sincere in their cultural stances, which are in line with the modern progressive movement: secularism, environmentalism, sexual revolution, and love of pot, with a smattering of political correctness thrown in for good measure.

I set all of this up to bring me to my point: why the preeminent libertarian of our time (Ron Paul), along with his intellectual and political allies, are refusing to give this ticket an ounce of support....

The diarist quotes at length a 1990 article by Lew Rockwell about libertarianism, conservatism, libertinism, and the Libertarian Party. You don't have to be a fan of Rockwell (I'm not) to agree that he draws some helpful distinctions here:

Conservatives have always argued that political freedom is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the good society, and they're right. Neither is it sufficient for the free society. We also need social institutions and standards that encourage public virtue, and protect the individual from the State.

Unfortunately, many libertarians - especially those in the Libertarian Party - see freedom as necessary and sufficient for all purposes. Worse, they equate freedom from State oppression with freedom from cultural norms, religion, bourgeois morality, and social authority....

Americans reject the national Democratic Party because they see it as disdaining bourgeois values. If they have ever heard of the LP, they rebuff it for similar reasons.

The Libertarian Party is probably irreformable - and irrelevant even if it weren't. Libertarianism is neither. But unless we cleanse libertarianism of its cultural image, our movement will fail as miserably as the LP has. We will continue to be seen as a sect that "resists authority" and not just statism, that endorses the behaviors it would legalize, and that rejects the standards of Western civilization.

Arguments against the drug war, no matter how intellectually compelling, are undermined when they come from the party of the stoned. When the LP nominates a prostitute for lieutenant governor of California and she becomes a much admired LP celebrity, how can regular Americans help but think that libertarianism is hostile to social norms, or that legalization of such acts as prostitution means moral approval? There could be no more politically suicidal or morally fallacious connection, but the LP has forged it.

Here in Tulsa, officials and activists who identified themselves as philosophically libertarian enthusiastically endorsed a measure that allows city government to impose the Sexual Revolution's view of sexual orientation and identity on individual Tulsans as the conduct business. To them, evidently, liberty means the freedom from private, social disapproval for any form of sexual expression. It's not enough for government to leave you alone; government must force your neighbors to applaud you.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 10, 2016 6:25 PM.

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