The Libertarian Standard » Ryan McMaken http://libertarianstandard.com Property - Prosperity - Peace Mon, 18 Aug 2014 19:04:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 A new website and group blog of radical Austro-libertarians, shining the light of reason on truth and justice. The Libertarian Standard clean The Libertarian Standard thelibertarianstandard@gmail.com thelibertarianstandard@gmail.com (The Libertarian Standard) CC-BY Property - Prosperity - Peace libertarianism, anarchism, capitalism, free markets, liberty, private property, rights, Mises, Rothbard, Rand, antiwar, freedom The Libertarian Standard » Ryan McMaken http://libertarianstandard.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://libertarianstandard.com TV-G Two New Books on Pop Culture by Libertarians http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/12/11/two-new-books-on-pop-culture-by-libertarians/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/12/11/two-new-books-on-pop-culture-by-libertarians/#comments Tue, 11 Dec 2012 17:52:23 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=12090 In the past two weeks, both Paul Cantor and I have released new books on television, literature and film.

My new book, Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre is now available on Amazon. The book examines the relationship between the Western genre and the bourgeois liberalism of nineteenth-century America, and looks how at how post-war Westerns, which appealed to a generation of New Deal-loving, Cold War-enamored nationalists, teach us that capitalism is bad and the nation-state is good. It includes a forward by Paul Cantor.

Also newly available is Paul Cantor’s extensive study of television and film, The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV. If you read Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization (which I reviewed here.) you’ll remember that Cantor can take pretty much any television show, such as Gilligan’s Island, and dissect it using everything from Homer to Shakespeare to Marshall McLuhan, and entertain you while doing it.

In The Invisible Hand, Cantor provides a section on Westerns, and from there goes on to examine South Park, Mars Attacks! and more.

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“We Now Have Our Smallest Government in 45 Years” http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/08/08/we-now-have-our-smallest-government-in-45-years/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/08/08/we-now-have-our-smallest-government-in-45-years/#comments Wed, 08 Aug 2012 15:51:39 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=11446 Federal Net Outlays

That’s the absurd title to a blog post over at The Atlantic today. The writer claims that the U.S. government is now the smallest it’s been since LBJ was president. The article is making the rounds among leftists, who, against all reason and common sense, have managed to convince themselves that the US government is getting smaller.

The claim is based on a calculation of total government employment as a ratio of the total US population. Right off the bat we know that comparing these ratios from 1968 and today will be off. This is largely because in 1968, most people whose salaries were funded by taxpayer sweat actually worked for the government. There weren’t mercenaries shooting up foreigners back then, or an enormous government-funded non-profit sector or legions of “consultants” who are really just government employees making extra-large salaries.

On top of this is the fact that government size is not only measured in the number of government employees. Better measures would include the US prison population, or taxes paid, or pages of government regulations or the number of federal laws, or the number of people groped by TSA pedophiles. Needless to say, all of these things have exploded in recent decades. On top of that, you have the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on salt, fat, guns, raw milk, and a number of other things.

Yep, government sure is a shadow of its former self!

But, to make it simple, let’s just look at government spending. In 1968, the US government spent $883 dollars for every one of the 201 million Americans, or annual outlays totaling 178.1 billion. In 2011, the US government spent a whopping $11,493 for every one of the 313 million Americans for total outlays of 3.6 trillion. That’s an increase of 1,923 percent since 1968. The CPI over this period increased 545 percent, so we’re talking an enormous increase, even when adjusted for the official inflation rate.

We can also look at this another way. The amount of money taken from each American has increased almost 2,000 percent since 1968, which is more than triple the inflation rate.

Federal Net Outlays

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Wildfires: Government praised for ‘solving’ problem it started http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/07/10/wildfires-government-praised-for-solving-problem-it-started/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/07/10/wildfires-government-praised-for-solving-problem-it-started/#comments Wed, 11 Jul 2012 03:49:07 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=11360 As the wildfires raged, apologists for government thought they had a trump card against libertarians and triumphantly concluded this was the latest proof that the government and its firefighters remain that thin line between order and chaos. Unfortunately for them, however, history has now made it abundantly clear that the true driving force behind the increasingly large mega-fires that plague public lands are the product of decades of mismanagement by the forest service. That is, we can thank the government for putting out the fires it is responsible for.

This has been well documented in some research published by the Property and Environment Research Center here and here.

Briefly put, decades of fire suppression and bans on logging by the feds to protect obscure rodent species has doomed the forests to massive wildfires which thrive on forests where underbrush piles up and creates a “fuel ladder” which in turn ignites the trees.

More logging, more small, natural fires, and more decentralized management (including privatization) is the answer, but don’t expect the politics to line up behind any of these sensible solutions any time soon. Most Americans now have utterly unrealistic expectations for forests. Forest fires are going to happen, and short of an army of robots to clean out and manage forests constantly, lighting will ignite forest fires in even the most well managed environments. The idea is to let these fires happen. The politics is against this however since wealthy vacationers with second homes in forested lots think that they should be able to build mansions in the wilderness and not be subject to the basic laws of nature.

Thus, the forest service gets huge funding increases every year to badly manage forests, and when that fails, spend tens of millions on fire suppression.

But don’t worry, it turns out that forest service has spent the last eleven years developing a plan for the forests. They’ll be finished sometime before the end of the next decade.

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Government stats now eyed with suspicion http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/06/01/government-stats-now-eyed-with-suspicion/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/06/01/government-stats-now-eyed-with-suspicion/#comments Sat, 02 Jun 2012 04:28:44 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=11106 Another one of the positive side effects of the current economic crisis is that even the government’s statistics, once accepted uncritically by the media, are now faced with some skepticism. As someone who examines government statistics often, I can say that government stats definitely have their uses, assuming you consider the methods used, and take it all with a grain of salt. But for years, the stats had been accepted as gospel and as a reliable foundation for the practice of macro economics.

To be sure, this article at Fortune today doesn’t actually impugn the unemployment rate itself, but it does question its relevance. Titled “The increasingly irrelevant unemployment rate,” the article notes that the unemployment rate, touted for years by the government and the media as a reliable index of economic strength, doesn’t really give us a good picture of reality anymore – assuming it ever did.

With labor force participation at the lowest point in a generation, the addition of the few new jobs added in May hardly convinces us that the economy is improving, and indeed, as new jobs were added – some of those people who gave up on finding work rejoined the workforce and drove the unemployment rate up, not down.

So, the unemployment rate tells us nothing without an understanding of labor force participation, and that is a pretty iffy number. It’s now becoming well-known that the method used to generate the unemployment rate is fatally flawed. The survey method used in the Household Survey ignores all the underemployed and chronically unemployed people who would love to have a full-time job. The labor force then only really consists of recently unemployed and people who absolutely must have jobs now. This excludes recent college grads living in their basements and stay at home moms who would otherwise be wage earners, and earl-y retirees who can’t find another job.

This is a huge shadow inventory of unemployed people not picked up in the official unemployment rate. Who can take a politician seriously who quotes these stats as proof of anything?

And for that matter, who can take a macro economist seriously who attempts to manage the economy this way? The decline in the reputation of government stats also nicely follows the decline of faith in macro economists to manage the economy to perfection. Does anyone think that a macro economist feeding the unemployment rate into a computer model somewhere will know just what to do? That dream died in 2008.

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‘Hispanic’ vs. ‘White’ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/04/04/hispanic-vs-white/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/04/04/hispanic-vs-white/#comments Wed, 04 Apr 2012 14:52:18 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10808 As a Hispanic, watching the media’s use of terms like “white” and “Hispanic” and “Latino” in the Zimmerman-Martin case has been an occasion for much eye-rolling. The way the press uses these terms betrays just how completely ignorant most reporters and talking heads are about even the basics of ethnicity and race in this country. Also, it’s a fair bet that the “journalists” at CNN and NBC have never actually seen a Hispanic who wasn’t scrubbing toilets or peeling potatoes back at the reporters’ Chevy Chase estates, so they can be forgiven for being so clueless on this matter. Our media elite might have to leave Martha’s Vineyard to actually meet a Hispanic who didn’t fit their preconceived notions of race and ethnicity.

With the Zimmerman-Martin case, Zimmerman is labeled as simply white, in spite of his claims of Hispanic heritage, because that’s what the media has determined will produce the most fertile ground for “racial” conflict. Had Zimmerman been the victim of a shooting, and the shooter were also white, then Zimmerman would of course then be labeled Latino, and the case would then be a national story on the oppression of Latino persons of color by whites in this country. In fact, Zimmerman is pretty obviously white or perhaps mestizo. What is not deniable however that he is also Hispanic. I don’t know why this is so hard for the media to grasp, but let’s just make this clear: According to anthropologists, ethnologists, historians, and census takers, “Hispanic” or “Latino” is not a racial designation. It is a term that denotes ethnicity.

Hispanics can be of any race. There are white Hispanics, black Hispanics, and even Asian Hispanics. Examples would be former Mexican president Vicente Fox, Cuban musician Ibrahim Ferrer, and former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, respectively. There are also, of course, mestizo Hispanics, such as Benito Juarez. White non-Hispanics are properly referred to as “non-Hispanic whites” in the technical jargon, and among us Hispanics, we simply refer to such people as “Anglos” for lack of another easy-to-use term. We all know, however, that only the mestizo Hispanics, who look like the stereotypical Latinos in the minds of many Americans, count as fully “Hispanic.” Indeed, my mother who is a dark-skinned Hispanic is often forced to have conversations like this with Anglos and other non-Hispanics:

Stranger: What are you? I mean racially? Mom: Uh, well, my parents came here from Mexico Stranger: Hmmm, you don’t look “Hispanic” Mom: Maybe if I donned a sombrero and put my hair in braids I would look Hispanic enough for you?

And so on.

Left liberals are often the worst about this. Being utterly parochial about race and ethnicity, as so many Anglo leftists are, they fancy themselves the arbiters of who is sufficiently Hispanic and who is not. Such is the case with the talking heads during the Zimmerman-Martin affair. Zimmerman, perhaps because of his German last name, is deemed white without any qualification because, well, that plays better as racial high-drama. And we all know that all Hispanics have Spanish surnames just like Nestor Kirchner, Salma Hayek and Bernardo O’Higgins, the George Washington of Chile.

Vicente Fox, Person of Color

Why should we refer to Zimmerman as a Hispanic? Well, because we know that he and his family claim that he is Hispanic. They know better than we do. A Hispanic is simply a person raised in a culture in which Hispanic cultural elements are a dominant or influential factor in one’s life. Such things include the Spanish language, a feeling of shared heritage and cultural solidarity with other Hispanics, and sometimes but not necessarily, Roman Catholicism. If someone has been raised in or lives in such an environment, such a person is probably Hispanic. It has nothing to do with race, and it has nothing to with the origins of one’s last name.

There is a reason that questionnaires with demographic information ask two questions to determine one’s status as a Hispanic or Latino: What race are you? and “Are you Hispanic or Latino?

NB: I don’t know if Zimmerman is a murderer or not. We have trials to sort those things out.

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The myth of high Muslim fertility rates, and the threat they pose http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/04/02/the-myth-of-high-muslim-fertility-rates-and-the-threat-they-pose/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/04/02/the-myth-of-high-muslim-fertility-rates-and-the-threat-they-pose/#comments Tue, 03 Apr 2012 02:57:19 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10799 Important to the anti-Muslim narrative is the idea that Muslims reproduce at prodigious rates, and that this poses an existential threat to the West. Specifically, Muslims are reproducing so quickly, that within a generation or two, they will overwhelm the entire Western world.

These predictions are usually muttered by brooding prophets of doom who predict the near-impossibility of Western civilization over triumphing over the implacable foe. This is a common theme at various “race realist” (i.e. racist) web sites and other nationalist web sites that forever repeat myths about American exceptionalism and the U.S. state’s duty to defeat the global threat of the foreign races.

Rick Santorum has more or less built his entire career on the idea that Muslims are the great threat of our age and that all of Western society must be reformed into militant soldiers against Islam. We must “wake up” to the threat, Santorum believes. Watching the anti-Muslim crowd alternate between violent screeching for Holy War and sombre brooding over the grave threat, it is difficult to not think of the anti-communists of the days of yore, like Whittaker Chambers and Frank Meyer, who, being ex-communists, were absolutely convinced that the world was but in the midst of a losing rear-guard action against the superhuman army of Stalinist Soldiers of the Millennium.

It turned out, however, that the communist ubermensch was more interested in blue jeans and Coca Cola than in immanentizing the eschaton.

What sort of apparel and soft drinks motivate Muslims, I can’t say, but it does seem they now have at least one more thing in common with the Westerners: collapsing birth rates. Notes one researcher:

“Of the three major monotheistic religions, all of which encourage fertility, Islam is the one that encourages procreation the least,” he explains. The factor that explains different fertility rates around the world continues to be, not religion, but education levels. In addition, there are other political and sociological factors that differ from country to country, and which the examples below illustrate.
In short, a demographic Homo Islamicus does not exist. And instead of clashing civilizations, the world is headed towards demographic convergence.

Meanwhile, according to John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, the Catholic population in Africa has increased 6,700 percent over the past century. Globally, there are not many more Muslims than the 1.1 billion Catholics, and when we add in other Christians, there are nearly twice as many Christians as Muslims.

But the the purveyors the Holy War will never be satisfied, and just as the anti-communists beat the drum for more and more government, more war, and more police statism, just as William F. Buckley called for a totalitarian bureaucracy in America to defeat communism, so it is for the anti-Muslims. Rick Santorum will not rest until the last American freedom has been extinguished in the name of killing a few more Muslims, but even if he fails, it seems likely that debt, bankruptcy, war, tyranny and societal dysfunction here at home are much bigger threats than a bunch of supposedly hyper-fertile Muslims.

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It’s Rothbard contra the conservatives this summer in Denver http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/03/27/its-rothbard-contra-the-conservatives-this-summer-in-denver/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/03/27/its-rothbard-contra-the-conservatives-this-summer-in-denver/#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2012 04:50:37 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10740 If you happen to be a University of Colorado student, or if you’d like to shell out lots of bucks as a non-degree student, join me this summer at the Denver campus for an upper-division, 3-credit-hour undergraduate seminar on the Conservative-Libertarian debate on the American right. We’ll consider the usual texts, but also the history of the movement through the writings of Murray Rothbard and Justin Raimondo.

See the class web site here.

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Speak English or Else http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/03/14/speak-english-or-else/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/03/14/speak-english-or-else/#comments Wed, 14 Mar 2012 05:36:10 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10627 In spite of global economic woes and sovereign debt crises and the run up to World War III in southwest Asia, there are some who still manage to find the time to call for English-only laws in communities across America. Most recently, areas of Minnesota and Maryland have been banging the drum to make English the only official language. The adoption of such measures, in these two places, as in most places in America, is meaningless in the practical sense because most local governments already do business in English only. But, such measures are symbolic measures designed to send a message to undesirables who are insufficiently nationalistic in their choice of language.

An obsession with forcing the citizenry to speak one government-approved language has long been central to the plans of nationalists everywhere. Nationalism, that ideology that one’s country is better than everyone else’s, and that every foreigner is just slightly less human that you, has long thrived on the completely false and unproven notion that multi-lingual societies always sit perched on the precipice of chaos. We hear this often from red-faced nationalist paranoiacs who claim that “balkanization,” which they define as the unspeakable horror of allowing people to speak languages other than the one preferred by the majority, is a road to destruction. This contention is easily proven false within seconds by simply providing counter examples. After all, we all know what war-torn hellholes Switzerland, Belgium and Canada are. The multi-lingual Austrian Empire, one of the richest and most prosperous societies in Europe for centuries, somehow survived centuries of the citizenry speaking German, Hungarian, and various Slavic languages. Unfortunately, it couldn’t survive Woodrow Wilson’s utopian meddling at Versailles.

But one doesn’t have to read tomes on European history to know what obvious nonsense is the claim that multi-lingual countries are unfeasible. Arguably, they’re much freer, because free countries allow variety that nationalist control-freak societies do not.In The Rise and Decline of the State, Martin Van Creveld notes that the idea of linguistic unity began to gain real currency toward the end of the 19th century. At that time, the ideology of the French Revolution, the idea that people in certain geographic areas should be forcibly unified under a strong state and coerced into adopting a single culture, gained a lasting foothold in Europe.

Certainly this idea was not totally new. English nationalism has been around since at least the 16th century. Thomas More found out what happens to those who insist on a more internationalist view, as did others, but it was in the 19th century that states really began to insist on cultural conformity from their own citizens and the citizens of those living in their colonies and conquered territories.

After 1870, the Italians simply made up a language based on a Tuscan variety. The French began demanding that all citizens speak the version of French spoken in Paris. Down the memory hold went languages like Piedmontese, Occitan, Mozarabic, and others.

Since the time of Queen Isabella and the reconquista, the rulers of unified Spain had been shoving Castilian down the throats of all Spaniards, and everyone in their colonies. They saw Castilian as a tool to hold the Empire together. Practically speaking, it was a good theory.

Back when the United States was a free country, it was multi-lingual, and even a cursory look at 19th-century America reveals just how pervasive was the reality of a multi-lingual society:

Louisiana was largely a French-speaking state (General Beauregard, Union Officer and later Confederate General, for example, didn’t speak English until he was 11 years old); German was widely spoken, and until World War I, and the anti-German bigotry that came with it, German-language private schools were common throughout the United States; New Mexico did not have an English-speaking majority until the 20th century; The Amish spoke the Pennsylvania German language; Many Americans of the Maine and Vermont borderlands were French-speakers only.

The reality of a multi-lingual society has been written into state constitutions as well. The original Colorado Constitution of 1876, for example, specifically mandates that laws shall be reproduced in three languages:

“Article XVIII, sec 8 (1876):

“The general assembly shall provide for publication of the laws passed at each session thereof; and until the year 1900, they shall cause to be published in Spanish and German a sufficient number of copies of said laws to supply that portion of the inhabitants of the State who speak those languages and who may be unable to read and understand the English language.”

We can also note that the rules of naturalization were a bit looser. Note the requirements for becoming a voter:

Article VII section 1 (1876)

“[The voter] shall be a citizen of the United States, or not being a citizen of the United States, he shall have declared his intention, according to law, to become such citizen, not less than four months before he offers to vote.”

One can only imagine and hackles raised by right-wing populists if a state today tried to adopt an amendment calling for all laws to be published in three languages.

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Many Americans don’t pay income tax. Is this a bad thing? http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/02/24/many-americans-dont-pay-income-tax-is-this-a-bad-thing/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2012/02/24/many-americans-dont-pay-income-tax-is-this-a-bad-thing/#comments Fri, 24 Feb 2012 20:51:57 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10553 Last week, the Heritage Foundation published commentary on the number of Americans who pay income tax, and decried the fact that 49.5 percent of Americans are “not represented on a taxable return.” The Daily Mail then picked up the statistics and announced that “HALF of Americans don’t pay income tax despite crippling government debt.”

To its credit, the body of the Heritage post began with a reference to the “the sharp increase of Americans who rely on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid or other assistance.” The emphasis of the piece, however, and thus, the emphasis of the other news outlets and pundits who have picked up on the statistic, is that too few people pay taxes.

The increase in reliance on government assistance is the problem here, not a lack of people who pay income tax.

Yet, it has become something of a right-wing talking point to claim that a declining number of taxpayers among some income groups is a nefarious development in American history.

The emphasis on the lack of taxpayers is getting the whole issue backward. The problem is the increase of income from government transfer payments. There is nothing bad whatsoever about fewer people paying income taxes.

The Conservative obsession with getting people to pay more in taxes comes from a preoccupation with class warfare in which it is assumed that if middle-class and wealthy people are paying too much in taxes (which they are), then the solution is to punish low-income people by making them pay more in taxes. It’s allegedly not “fair” if everyone is not being extorted by the state in a similar fashion.

The just solution, however, is to greatly decrease the tax burden of those paying taxes now. In a recent NPR interview, Ron Paul nicely summed up what is actually “fair”:

MR. SIEGEL: This week’s release of Mitt Romney’s taxes and President Obama’s advocacy of a millionaire’s tax raise questions about fairness in funding the government. The first question: Do you believe that income derived from dividends interest or capital gains should be taxed at a lower rate than income earned from a salary or commissions?

REP. PAUL: Well, I’d like to have everybody taxed at the same rate, and of course, my goal is to get as close to zero as possible, because there was a time in our history when we didn’t have income taxes. But when government takes it upon themselves to do so much, you have to have a tax code. But if you’re going to be the policemen of the world and run all these wars, you have to have a tax code. But as far as what the rates should be, I think it should be as low as possible for – for everybody.

It’s a safe bet that Siegel’s underlying assumption behind the question is that in order to make taxes fair, then anyone who is paying a tax bill that is too “low” should therefore have his taxes raised.

The opposite is true, as noted by Paul.

So, when Conservatives get bent out of shape about some people not paying tax, the response should be to demand lower taxes for everyone, not to complain that people aren’t paying their “fair share,” which seems to be the Conservative sentiment.

We might also note that this statistic apparently only applies to income taxes. It says nothing about payroll taxes, which for many middle-class people is by far the largest part of one’s monthly tax bill. Any teenager with his first job notices just how much those payroll taxes take out of one’s paycheck. So, to claim that people aren’t paying taxes simply because they’re not paying income tax is rather disingenuous. Since there’s no such thing as a Social Security or Medicare trust fund, payroll taxes are really just income taxes under another name.

Also, any demand for more taxation is really just a demand for increased government revenue. It’s a call for more money so government can bomb more people, bail out more banks and spread around more largesse to politically well-connected friends.

So, the focus on whether or not “enough” people are paying taxes completely misses the point. The larger point is that far too many Americans receive government benefits. Indeed, recent increases in income as measured by the BLS, reflect increases in government transfer payments, as I’ve shown here.

Ludwig von Mises wrote in Bureaucracy that a system in which a majority of the population is dependent on the government dole leads to an unstable political and economic situation, since a majority of the population then has a vested interest in increasing the power of government to redistribute wealth. While the Heritage article makes some comments in this vein, it nevertheless makes the claim that “The rapid growth of Americans who don’t pay income taxes is particularly alarming for the fate of the American form of government.” Really? By that logic, “the American form of government” would be in danger if the income tax were abolished. Oh, how did America ever survive prior to the 16th Amendment?

There is no doubt that the growth in dependency on government largesse is a serious problem, but that doesn’t mean that any American pays too little in taxes. It simply means that the government spends too much money.

The Conservative reaction to this statistic, however, seem to be: “Hey, those guys aren’t being taxed! Tax them!” This is hardly a phrase that should be uttered by anyone who claims to be for limited government.

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Newt has raised Cold War-style paranoia to an art form http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/12/15/newt-has-raised-cold-war-style-paranoia-to-an-art-form/ http://libertarianstandard.com/2011/12/15/newt-has-raised-cold-war-style-paranoia-to-an-art-form/#comments Thu, 15 Dec 2011 16:43:42 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=10107 Here’s a somewhat funny article from Gizmodo that points out Newt’s misplaced fear of a EMP attack from Iran, North Korea or some other member of the Axis of Evil. (Saudi Arabia, the brutal Islamist dictatorship, which recently began talking about getting nukes, doesn’t count since the dictators are BFFs with the Bush family.)

The theoretical possibility of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack will be familiar to people who keep a 1955 Chevy and a Faraday cage in the back yard “just in case”, although few people sit up nights about it since the actual threat is virtually non-existent. Except in the mind of Newt Gingrich.

Newt’s paranoia reminds me of a portion of Errol Flynn’s interview with Robert McNamara in The Fog of War. McNamara points out that the US in the early 1960s began to call for nuclear arms limitation deals. The US had a huge advantage in nuclear arms at the time (and still does), and the US figured it could keep that advantage by putting in place a limit or ban on the testing of nuclear arms. McNamara noted that the hawks in the administration were dead-set against any limitations because the Soviets would cheat by secretly testing nuclear bombs. Hiding nuclear explosions is somewhat difficult to do, so the hawks were asked just exactly HOW the Soviets would cheat.

Their response: “They’ll test nukes behind the moon.”

Even the warmonger McNamara found such a contention to be beyond the pale of Cutis LeMay-style nuclear paranoia. Newt, on the other hand, makes people like McNamara seem reasonable.

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