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L. Neil Smith's
Number 624, June 19, 2011

"Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms should be a
convenience store—NOT a government agency."

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The Cougar and The Elephants
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

I woke up this morning intending to write my weekly harangue for The Libertarian Enterprise about Ann Coulter's distaste for Dr. Ron Paul. Just about the first thing Google turned up was a column on Lew Rockwell's website, by Ryan McMaken, and titled "Privatize Marriage Now".

McMaken's article was itself a review, more or less, of one of La Coulter's more egregious hit pieces, a vicious and untruthful attack on the good doctor in particular, and all those whom she understands—in her blond and statuesque ignorance—to be libertarians, although it becomes pretty clear within a few sentences that the woman wouldn't know what a libertarian is if one came up to her ... but then, what real libertarian would ever want to come up to her?

They know where she's been.

Now to be fair, there are one or two things I like about Coulter. She's bright and extremely funny. I deeply and sincerely admire her poisoned keyboard. I think she plays a lot to her imagined audience (old guys like her—she's the Angie Dickenson of politics) in a way I've never been tempted to; I don't believe for a instant, just to name an example, that she's actually stupid enough to reject two centuries of established scientific fact about evolution by natural selection.

Then again, I could be wrong. What's always disappointing, as I discover it over and over, is her tiny mindedness. It's like the shock of finding out, in 1977, that Murray Rothbard, whose intellect I had otherwise respected, believed that space exploration is a trivial distraction from whatever he thought his species should be doing, instead.

In the column in question, she accuses Dr. Paul of hypocrisy, of being a libertarian who wants to get rid of government (both of which are untrue) while at the same time wanting people to elect him President.

There are two (and only two) fundamental tenets that an individual must accept wholeheartedly and without reservation in order to call him- or herself a libertarian. As decent and likable a fellow as Dr. Paul happens to be, I have never heard him specifically endorse either one.

If I am wrong, please correct me; it would be good news.

First of all, you have to regard yourself—as well as each and every individual around you—as the sole proprietor of his or her own life and, for better or worse, all of the products of that life, including the fruits of your labor and, equally, the smoke from your chimney. The concept is called "absolute self-ownership"—accept no substitutes.

Second—and this is the social and political manifestation of absolute self-ownership—you have to agree never to initiate physical force against another human being for any reason whatever, nor to advocate this initiation, or delegate it to someone else. This concept is called the "Zero Aggression Principle" and it is the absolutely indispensable bedrock on which political libertarianism rests.

If anyone argues with you about that, it's because he (or she) wishes to reserve some right that he (or she) falsely imagines he (or she) has, to employ force against you whenever he (or she) feels it necessary or convenient. For the sake of national security. Or for the children.

Whatever you think of these ideas, they are unquestionably central to everything that is truly libertarian, and all proposed libertarian policies spring from them. Regrettably, the general freedom movement, as well as the Libertarian Party itself, are cluttered today with counterfeit libertarians—Nerfs and LINOs—who can't make the moral cut. Coulter claims she has one libertarian friend who is "not crazy", but if she regards him or her as "not crazy", it's certain that whoever she's talking about is not a libertarian at all. This is among the best reasons I can think of for defining libertarianism properly.

How can I be so sure that Coulter's friend is flying under false colors? Consider this statement of hers about libertarians: "They lure you in with talk of small government and then immediately start babbling about drug legalization or gay marriage." Once again, I have trouble believing that she can be so articulate and dumb at the same time.

Gay marriage is the issue covered by McMaken's excellent rejoinder to her, and although I disagree with him here and here, on one or two points, I'm going to let it go for the moment. What I most want to point out now is that the all-devouring state about which so many conservatives whimper, enjoyed its greatest growth spurt on account of the War on Drugs. If someone, say before 1960, had demanded that before you could take a job, you had to give your employer a sample of your urine, the demander would have received a punch in the mouth, instead.

This country is now overrun by infantile morons wearing Kevlar and ski-masks, toting machineguns and murdering innocent individuals, all in the name of the War on Drugs, or the newer, bigger, brighter War on Muslims Under the Bed, another evil and idiotic Crusade to which Coulter lends her wholehearted and half-brained support. She likes the idea of kidnapping and detaining individuals without due process, and of torturing them, setting human progress back a thousand years. I don't know if she agrees with Michelle Malkin, another conservative cyberharpy, that what was done to innocent Japanese-Americans during World War II was just super-peachy, but it wouldn't surprise me at all.

Nor would it surprise me to find that, although she and Paul seem to agree, superficially, on abortion—they're against it—the reasons for their positions are poles apart. Paul believes a fetus is an individual human being whose life and rights must be protected. I disagree with what I see as sloppy and religious thinking, but I understand it and, to a certain limited degree, even respect it. I'm betting Coulter simply doesn't want the state to run out of cannon fodder.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

She does think that anybody who disagrees with her desire to bring Stalinism to America is "crazy". Ron Paul is crazy for wanting to end the welfare/warfare state. I'd be crazy if she knew about me. So would you.

Part of this, Congressman Paul deserves, unfortunately, but it's specifically because he's not a libertarian, and "can't even scratch Social Security and Medicare off [the] list by taking the libertarian position that there should be no Social Security or Medicare." She scores a direct hit by describing him as "a run-of-the-mill government statist when it comes to the Ponzi-scheme entitlements bankrupting the country."

Sorry, Ron, she's right. You can't have either without initiating force.

What would a real libertarian tell those who've counted on Social Security and Medicare being there when they get old? What I've always told them: it's a hard, cruel world, but when you've allowed yourself to be conned out of your life's savings, your more intelligent, less gullible neighbors—not to mention your own grandchildren—have no obligation of any kind to make you whole again. Not out of their own pockets. Not through the sticky-fingered middleman of government bailouts.

Nonetheless, Paul—with whom I vehemently disagree on more than one issue—is a better human being on the worst day of his life than the average Republican could ever dream of being on the best day of his.

Or hers.

To demonstrate what kind of hairpin we're dealing with, here, consider that she accuses Paul of trying "to put eliminating official marriage above eliminating Social Security and Medicare", calling it "certifiable". She sets up another straw man by observing that "Sure, all good libertarians want to legalize drugs, but the question is whether that is more important than legalizing the ability to locate your widget factory where you want to put it. Even purists can have priorities."

Her assumption being, of course, that the libertarian movement consists of only one individual, Congressman Ron Paul, who has to choose which of a hundred thousand issues he will make central to his campaign, when, in fact, the freedom movement is just like the market system she pretends to endorse, in which thousands of individuals will each choose their own priorities, relying on the Invisible Hand to sort it all out. Either this woman has never heard of spontaneous order (not impossible given her other failings) or she just didn't get it.

But for a moment, I forgot: she's a lawyer.

It explains a lot.

"Most libertarians," Coulter concludes in an almost hysterical outburst, surprisingly devoid of evidence or logic, "are cowering frauds too afraid to upset anyone to take a stand on some of the most important cultural issues of our time. So they dodge the tough questions when it suits their purposes by pretending to be Randian purists ... If they could only resist sucking up to Rolling Stone-reading, status-obsessed losers, they'd probably be interesting to talk to."

Okay, some of what she alludes to is true, although I have no idea what she means by that crack about Objectivists. She describes the current leadership of the Libertarian Party perfectly, and I have always regarded the attempt by some pundits to court the Left as counterproductive.

To say the least.

The very least.

Coulter can't seem to decide if she wants us bland and timid, or radical and crazy. She'll attack either end of that particular spectrum with all the glee of the willfully, hopelessly misinformed. I think we're well-advised to ignore whatever she wants. She doesn't have our best interests—or those of individual liberty—in mind, and it's a much better tactic to make her wildest nightmares come true. As Rush Limbaugh often says (albeit, not about his own side), just listen, and they'll tell you what it is that they're most afraid of.

How about this for "crazy"? Just as decent individuals everywhere, beginning with Queen Isabella of Spain (yeah, that Queen Isabella), opposed chattel slavery for almost four centuries and vowed to see it abolished no matter how much time or effort it took, real libertarians are committed to abolishing all taxation. Anyone who says he isn't, and claims to be a libertarian, is a liar and a poseur, since taxation is theft, rooted in the threat of initiated force—and it's also slavery.

Republicans almost always stimulate my gag reflex sooner or later. I'll admit that Coulter has more and larger balls than most average Republicans. Even so, hers are very small and made of cream cheese. It isn't that they really hate Ron Paul and libertarians, they fear us, mostly because we won't salute their dilapidated empire or condone all the lies, fakery, and mass murder that it requires to keep it propped up.

In the interim, they have done absolutely nothing about the mess we're in and which they helped to spawn. They want to keep taxing, regulating, tightening the noose around our rights. They incontinently yearn to install electronic spy devices in our phones, computers, and now our cars. Preferring their Muslim Under the Bed mythology, they refuse to deal with the real threats that now confront America—like the personal army Barack Obama is building, or the evil scheming of the UN. They want the Internet shut down or gelded as much as any "progressive".

Happily, it's not entirely up to them any more. Go to my website Down With Power and read it; it'll be a dead tree book before you know it, but the time to act is now. Pay special attention to my essay "The Plan" because—spread widely enough, sent to every friend you have and enemy you know of—it will allow us to seize control of the national conversation and reset the bar for adequate political performance.

My advice to the GOP's pet cougar and the elephantine vermin she's well paid to apologize for is that they should learn—as quickly as possible—to treat with folks like Ron Paul, because if they won't, then sooner or later, they will wind up having to contend with real libertarians.

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