Friday, March 21, 2008

Mary Ruwart set to announce for Libertarian Presidential race today: Controversy swirling over her past support for worst LP Prez campaign ever

by Eric Dondero

Mary Ruwart is a longtime Libertarian Party stalwart dating back to the late 1970s. She has impeccable LP credentials having served in numerous capacities within the Party's leadership. She's also a Ph.D. Scientist/Researcher, and a former public officeholder in the State of Michigan. She now makes her home near Austin, Texas.

Dr. Ruwart is set to announce for President on the Libertarian ticket later today, on Libertarian Gary Nolan's Missouri-based drive time radio talk show - The Eagle 93.9

But questions have been raised about her ability to run a top-notch, professional, big media campaign.

Did Ruwart back David Bergland for President in 1983?

In the last few days, evidence has emerged indicating that Ruwart was not only a top supporter of the David Bergland for President campaign in 1984, but may have in fact, largely orchestrated his win for the LP nomination in 1983.

Robert Carpozzi, Editor of The Free Liberal, and a delegate to the 1983 Libertarian National Convention in NYC, recounts the following at

At the 1983 LP Prez nominating convention, she ran for president in a fairly crowded field, but it came down to Bergland, the (Murray) Rothbardian candidate; Earl Ravenal, the moderate candidate; and Ruwart. Ruwart threw her support to Bergland, killing any hope that the LP might build on its reasonably strong 1980 Ed Clark showing... I recall the moment quite distinctly, as it led to (Ed) Crane’s leaving the LP and put the Rothbardians in charge of the debating society/purity police force.

Thomas Knapp of "Knappster" Blog firmed up Carpozzi's account:

My recollection (from old newsletters, etc.) is that Ruwart was drafted from the floor to oppose Ravenal in 1983 after (Gene) Burns dropped out, that Bergland then arrived to oppose Ravenal as well, and that after extended balloting, Ruwart dropped out and her supporters went mostly to Bergland. Web Designer Eric Garris, also a delegate to the 1983 Convention, chimed in:

My understanding is the Mary Ruwart talked to both Bergland and Ravenal about being their VP running mate. Ravenal said he would not support her for VP. Bergland said he would support her for VP. Ruwart then endorsed Bergland.

David Bergland: Worst Libertarian Presidential campaign ever

Many will say, "Why does this matter? This was 25 years ago."

It's important to have an understanding of Libertarian Party history to really understand where it might be heading. In 1980, the LP ran its strongest campaign ever. Ed Clark was on the ballot in 50 states, and received nearly 1 million votes, 1.1 nationwide. In that same year nearly 100 Libertarians were elected to public offices nationwide including two state legislators in Alaska.

In 1984, the LP dropped down to 228,000 votes with David Bergland's effort. They only made the ballot in 39 states. LP membership even dipped below 4,000 for a few months post-Bergland in early 1985, from a former high of 15,000 in the early 1980s. More importantly, half the Party walked out. And it was the half of the Party with all the resources, know-how and money. David and Charles Koch have been called the Nation's 5th wealthiest family. David Koch was Clark's VP candidate in 1980, and dumped in over $3 million of his own money into the effort. Similarly, Ed Crane, now President of the Cato Institute, was a top LP leader at the time. The Kochs, Crane, and numerous other Party stalwarts literally walked out of the LP after hardline Bergland won the nomination, never to return.

Root versus Ruwart; Ravenal v. Bergland redux

This year an eerilie similar battle is starting to emerge within LP ranks. Wayne Root, "Mr. Big Media" has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business, Glenn Beck, Mancow and Michael Medved's show within the last few weeks as the frontrunner for the Libertarian nomination. Root is clearly the more mainstream Ed Clark or Earl Ravenal style candidate. He himself is a multi-millionaire. But more importantly, he has the ability to reach out for millions more from the gaming industry and other big money tycoons.

Ruwart has little if any of this ability. While she's viewed as the LP's "Sweetheart" in many circles, she's demonstrated no ability in past races to put together the resources or funds to run a first class campaign. It appears she has even less ability to attract big media.

If the LP goes the Ruwart route, we're very likely to see Bergland type vote totals in the Two-hundred thousands. With Root, we're likely to see a first class run professional campaign with big media. The result: The LP could likely see 2 to 3 million votes and hundreds of LP members elected to local offices.

It's the purists versus the pragmatists; those who want to grow the Party, versus those who want to keep it a small little philosophical debating society. Deja vu all over again.


Mary Ruwart officially announced her intentions to seek the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination at 5:05 pm est. on Gary Nolan's radio show (link above). She then took calls for the entire hour on a variety of topics such as drug legalization, and how the Libertarians usually take votes away from Republicans.


Scott said...

Ron Paul had a terrible media campaign and still had more coverage than any other libertarian candidate could ever dream of. The libertarian movement has proven it doesn't need the mainstream media to get it's message out. The template has been set.

Root is done, thankfully. It's not about purists versus the pragmatists, it's about right and wrong like it always has been. If the libertarian movement only accepted purists Ron Paul would have never been as widely accepted as he was. There's never a perfect candidate, but some candidates are so far out of the mainstream of libertarian thought that they're not acceptable. That's where Root was.

Eric Dondero said...

"Root is done."

I guess that's why he'll be appearing on Fox News next week, and Mary Ruwart will be on a local radio talk show in southern Missouri today.

No offense intended to Gary Nolan.

Scott said...

Fox News doesn't nominate the LP's candidate. I was speaking of his chances at winning, not his cartoon campaign.

Eric Dondero said...

Um, no. Fox News does not dominate the LP's nomination process. But it does dominate the vast majority of Americans who are essentially conservatives, but have a libertarian streak and an interest in libertarian politics.

The Glenn Beckies, Neal Boortzites, Larry Elder "Republitarians" and such will watch the LP proceedings or listen to recaps of it on those various shows.

If the LP nominates a leftwinger obscure candidate like Ruwart, they'll be scratching their heads, and just decide to go back to McCain.

If the LP nominates Root, these folks could very well vote LP en masse.

Obscurity, Bergland/Badnarik vs. Success with Root, ala Ed Clark. Simple choice.

Scott said...

The Libertarian Party isn't interested in nominating warmongers to pander to the warmonger vote.

stefan said...

Eric carrying his flip-flop tradition: first he welcomed Ruwart as possible LP candidate, then he decides against her. Eric, the media can push up a candidate only to implode later, like your hero Rudy. Root's endorsement of McCain-Lieberman and 1k constribution to Lieberman and his flip-flop on the Iraq war is going to count heavily against him, until her has shown his colors, which he can only do after a few years in terms of things he has done for the principles of the party, and not merely for himself as a greedy gambling businessman. He will in any case never get any support from social conservatives, those that are unwilling to vote for McCain and social and fiscal conservatives would constitute a large potential of the LP.

A Barr-Ruwart ticket sounds very interesting...and will raise the bar and bar the imcompetent people.

BTW: I understand a certain politician has received the majority delegates and several important points has been accepted from a very libertarian state, a state that hates McCain for his resistance to oil drilling etc.

I think many were looking seriously into Root as a possibility, till they found out Eric's connection and the reason why he supports them. That surely blew Root's chances out of the water. Well done Eric, I am sure Root is not going to be so impressed with you.

AT reason the other day they mentioned a conservative/libertarian could get 20% in Texas, and thus could lead to a sure GOP loss in the state and also the precidency, should the GOP go ahead with McCain.

Eric Dondero said...

Hah! This is hilarious. Stefan, where did I "flip-flop" on Ruwart? I didn't "welcome her into the race." Where did I do that? I did say she has a somewhat impressive record in the LP. But that doesn't mean I "welcome her" into the race.

As for Root, you are completely ignorant of the facts.

Who do you think invited Wayne Root to run for President?

Check out late October 2006 for my editorial "Wayne Root for President." It was that op-ed at RedState that prompted Wayne to jump into the race. Though, I was originally hoping he'd run as a Republican.

And now you say - laughingly - that it's just been discovered that I've supported Root.

I've been supporting him since late 2006. Tom Knapp knows that. Stephen Gordon knows that. George Phillies knows that. Practically anyone who knows anything about the LP Prez race knows that.

stefan said...

Eric, as Andrew pointed out so nicely to us, Ed Clark would vote for Ron Paul if he had to choose. Of couse also Gary Nolan, Aaron Russo (when he was still alive) and Badnarik. I agree with you Russo would have been a far stronger candidate than Badnarik. Russo's "From Freedom to Fascism" helped a lot to convince many people to join Ron Paul. You like people with pizzaz, well there is a very qualified Indian American that is a RP Republican candidate... In fact Paul receives quite a lot of support of Chinese, Korean, Indian, Japanese, Black, Hispanic Americans as minority groups, more than any other GOP candidate. Among Hispanics JuanMcCain may have more, but since many of them are Catholics and McCain has been endorsed by John Hagee, he has problems...

Eric Dondero said...

You say that Root's chances have been "blown out of the water" for the LP Presidential nomination. I guess that explains why he's won just about every straw poll yet for the LP, including all-important California.

He'll have a tough fight against Ruwart. I'll admit that. I'd be particularly concerned for Root on a second or third ballot at the Convention. But I don't even think skeptics like Tom Knapp, certainly not Stephen Gordon, would deny at this point that he's the frontrunner for the nomination.

Eric Dondero said...

You know Stefan, I might even be persuaded to support a left-leaning Libertarian candidate for President, so long as they were not too far left, and had the all-important pizzaz. To me, the pizzaz factor trumps all. That's why I'm skeptical of McCain. Heck, I even think Mike Gravel would be a bit of a hoot as an LP candidate. And he's definitely left-libertarian.

I also like Mike Jingozian. He's more left-libertarian, though not crazy left-libertarian. I like him cause he's a good looking guy, with a great resume, and is a CEO of a major tech firm.

Pizzaz is most important in my mind. And in many respects trumps even ideology.

stefan said...

I was referring to your indication that you would support her or Root, but since you found out she possibly endorsed Bergland, you said you would never vote for a friend of Bergland. Note: there is a difference between endorse and to be a friend of someone. One example: Romney endorsed McCain, but do you think he will ever be his friend? Same with Huckabee and Romney, Huckabee disliked Romney since years. Thus if Ruwart endorsed Bergland, it does not necessarily means he is her friend as well.
Logic 101 lesson for the day.

Less Antman said...

I want to correct some faulty memories of 1983 (I wrote a few formal speeches for Bergland, although I was otherwise not involved in his campaign for various reasons). I'm pretty sure Knapp is misremembering the order of entry of the candidates (so did I, until I checked some old notes, so I'm not casting stones: 25 years ago is a LONG time, folks). Bergland entered the race a while before the convention, and Ruwart a couple days before it but after Bergland, meaning she was unhappy with BOTH Ravenal and Bergland as candidate choices. On the ballot after Ruwart dropped out, Bergland's vote total increased by 51 and Ravenal's by 45, virtually equal, and Bergland got the nomination by 40 votes over Ravenal (270 to 230). That was SOME orchestration by the Ruwart faction: her supporters were clearly not stalking horses for either Ravenal or Bergland, nor significant to the outcome. Like most of the delegates, Ruwart preferred Bergland to Ravenal, and said so. That is a far cry from being a big booster and even farther from being a master strategist who manipulated his selection. I'd like to think his brilliant convention speech got Bergland the nomination (now what was the name of his speech writer?), but it really boiled down to the choice between a known libertarian with solid credentials and someone who had openly expressed disagreement with libertarian views and was still learning. And Ravenal's membership in the Council on Foreign Relations was decisive for many people.

Rothbard nominated Jim Lewis for VP the next day, and he won. I supported Joe Fuhrig. I don't recall any significant support for Ruwart among the Bergland team for VP: frankly, I didn't know much about her because of her late entry, and only later discovered how knowledgeable and consistent a libertarian she was.

In any event, the supposed links between the Ruwart campaign and the Bergland campaign don't fit all the objective and verifiable evidence from the convention itself. Some rumors are true, and some AREN'T true. I won't pretend to know all the answers (I'm a Hayekian, and suspect this knowledge is dispersed among lots of people with no central authority aware of all the facts).

I cannot disagree with Dondero's assertion that the loss of the Koch money hurt the campaign and party a great deal. The bottom line, though, is that Earl Ravenal was not a libertarian, only sympathetic to libertarianism, and a majority of the party was not ready to support him. There were several long-time and respected libertarians that the Crane/Koch wing could have selected to promote as their candidate, and I think the Kochs are the only ones who should be held responsible for Koch money leaving the LP as a result of their not getting their way. They walked out the day after Bergland's nomination, never to be seen again. And as Eric said, that really, really hurt.

Stephen Gordon said...

But I don't even think skeptics like Tom Knapp, certainly not Stephen Gordon, would deny at this point that he's the frontrunner for the nomination.

Before the Ruwart rumors stated, Root was, IMO, the frontrunner.

At this moment, similar to Fred Thompson right before he jumped into the GOP race, I'd call Ruwart the frontrunner. I'm basing this mostly on the survey work I did.

However, note how fast Thompson's support died. Mary hasn't yet had to deal with opposition.

However, Root's second vote support level is weak -- and Mary's is strong. But people are also warming up to Root as they get to know him better and his Iraq position has changed some.

It's a contest at the moment, and I'd place Ruwart and Root at the top of the pile, followed by Kubby and Phillies -- with Smith and Hess on a third tier behind them.

Hess and Smith are actually wild cards at this moment. Barry can deliver a good speech at times and that influences delegates. Smith hasn't had as much exposure as some of the other candidates, but she will certainly earn some votes at the convention.

If Barr jumps in, all bets are off, however.

The LP presidential race is just starting to turn interesting.

Eric Dondero said...

Yup, I agree 100% with Stephen's assessment here. He's right on.

You can have your preferred candidate, but one thing we can all agree on, is it's going to be very interesting, and even entertaining through Denver in late May.

Eric Dondero said...

Wow! Thanks Lee for taking the time to recount the events from your point of perspective. I am utterly fascinated with Libertarian Party history from 1983. It was the absolute turning point in the history of the Party and the entire movement. To think what would have happened if Gene Burns had stayed in, or Ravenal actually gotten the nomination. We'd be living in an entirely different United States right now.

Burns or Ravenal would have gotten 3 to 5 million votes easy with all that Koch money. Hundreds of Libertarians would have been elected that year, and the GOP would have likely responded by moving libertarian.

As it was we got the worst LP Presidential campaign of all time and decades of Libertarian Party obscurity.

One could almost say that David Bergland did more damage to the Libertarian Party than any other single individual.

I worked for Roger MacBride for a few years in Florida, the LP's 1976 Prez candidate. He absolutely hated Bergland. He would tell me over gin and tonics that Bergland was the very worst thing that ever happened to the LP, and after the Bergland dissaster the LP could never recover.

They have a shot this year with Root or Bob Barr of recovering. But it looks like they'll revert to their old Berglandista purist line.

(Joe Fuhrig? Now that's a name I hadn't heard in years. What ever became of him? He ran for NY Governor or something one year, right?)

Less Antman said...

Call me Less, as in the Less government, the better. Joe Fuhrig was the 1982 US Senate Candidate in California, and got a remarkable amount of radio coverage in his campaign, including the largest audience radio talk show in the Bay Area, where the host said "Joe, you're nuts" repeatedly when he first had him on because of his radical views, but enjoyed him so much that he kept having him back over and over until the night before the election, when he ended the show by telling his audience that he was voting for Fuhrig the next day.

Fuhrig was an anarcho-capitalist economics professor at Golden Gate University, is responsible for many of the libertarians floating around today in and out of the LP, but died a few years ago of a massive heart attack at much too young an age. There are today quite a few other libertarian economics professors around the country having an impact without being activists: politics isn't the only way to reach people.

Bergland had views on strategy with which I strongly disagreed, but to blame him for the petulance of the Kochs is unfair. I think you might be exaggerating the impact the campaign would have had with Koch money: that guy you despise (hereafter TGYD) made an enormously splash in 2007 and certainly got more attention than Ravenal would have gotten in the 3-network media world of 1984, but there aren't going to be hundreds of new libertarian-leaning Republicans elected this year. Ravenal did NOT do a good job of explaining libertarian views, since he didn't really accept them at the time (I don't know about since), so the attention he got as a result of the money wouldn't have translated into much success. The Kochs still had billions and still spent lots and lots of money, right up to this day. Forgetting the LP, it is clear that their money hasn't had the impact you think was possible on American society in general. But it's water under the bridge, and you're certainly entitled to your viewpoint.

Ruwart's style is best suited to reach the young people without strong party affiliation who are far more ripe for the picking right now, and 2008 should especially target the 20-somethings who were inspired last year by TGYD. I also have to say that Root's claims of a big outside constituency would be far more believable if his campaign contributions provided a shred of evidence of this (Kubby, too). Money talks, and you know the rest of the motto, so I won't walk you through it. I believe a well-run Ruwart campaign can best attract the people who have connected with each other via the Internet as a result of the campaign of TGYD, and who are now feeling politically homeless, and young blood enthused by a radical message would do wonders for the party.

I suspect we have very different strategic views, but I think this is an either/or fallacy. Radical abolitionists never were accepted by the mainstream public in the 1800s, and never achieved the slightest electoral success, but their ideas won the day. Same with the Socialist Party of 1920, whose platform then is our government today. You may know of the marketing trick called the decoy, and the behavioral economics concept of anchoring: radicals who call for a completely free society move the debate and make you look more mainstream and acceptable to the public, increasing the chance of a move in the direction of freedom in line with the distance you want to travel (which isn't as far as I want to travel). If we define libertarianism broadly as those who want to move in the direction of greater economic and personal liberty, the minarchists need the anarchists, the gradualists need the immediatists, and the moderates need the radicals. That's the way I see it.

By the way, Burns in 1984 WOULD have been great. His flaking out on us was very disappointing.

Eric Dondero said...

Alas, Burns didn't flake out as is commonly believed. I got the inside story on what actually took place from some super insiders - Pro-Defense Libertarians who were there in 1983. They told me that Burns had it out with some folks over the Defense issue. He was decidely more Pro-Defense than some in the LP and he couldn't see meshing his views with the largely Rothbardian Anti-War LP platform.

Additionally, there was a money dispute involved. The National LP HQ had promised to pay for his travel expenses and balked two weeks before the convention.

I agree, he would have been a great candidate.

Incidentally, Ron Paul and I visited Burns in Mass during the 1988 LP Presidential run. He had Ron on twice on WRKO. He was very gracious.

Jim Fryar said...

Eric; I wasn't aware that you were involved with Roger MacBride, He came to Australia, and gave some addressed to our libertarians, known then as the Progress Party.

I attended one in Brisbane and he really made a great impression.

One of the greatest problems the Libertarian Party has, and one I think they are starting to address, is that the sort of people they put up are able to communicate really well to fellow libertarians, but don't seem to have much idea of getting across to the public at large.

This was a major weakness in the Paul campaign apart from his anti- defense, and reclusive America stances. Libertarians loved the guy, but he just didn't come across to the majority of the GOP.

This is the reason you find me here, as I really think that pushing libertarian leaning Republicans will do more to advance the cause of liberty in the short term.

stefan said...

Reclusive American politics and isolationism is the result of neoconservative interventionist policy, that is present in both major political parties. Would one expect "anti-defense" proponents/politicians to attract the majority of active military personnel contributions, more than any of the other candidates combined??
(The "pro-defense" wing in the GOP like Rumsfeld etc. should rather be called the pro-Military Industrial Complex wing).

Listen to Gary Naln's interview with Michael Scheuer:

Eric Dondero said...

Stefan, why does it always have to be "NeCon" this and "NeoCon" that?

Is everybody who is Pro-Defense a "NeoCon"? Do Defense Conservatives no longer exist in your book? Are there no longer any plain ole' Defense Hawks? No more Pro-Military Guys? No more Pro-Defense Libertarians?

Everybody who is in favor of fighting Al Qaeda and having a strong Military is labeled as a "NeoCon"?

Perhaps some of us support these policies not because we wish to go on some global crusade to build Nations as outlined in some Treastise by some dude with the same name as the inventor of Blue Jeans from the 1930s, but simply cause we support the Military and want America to be feared and respected?

Perhaps we just are motivated by the fact that we wish to protect our civil liberties here in the United States against the rising tide of Islamo-Fascism?

None of this has anything to do with some grand conspiracy from that blue jeans guy.

To me, "NeoConservative" means Religious Right: Pat Robertson, Bill Bennett, Howard Phillips, Richard Viguerie, I wish to have nothing to do with these folks. Sure, they may oppose Islamo-Fascism but only because they are Christian Right, and see it as a threat to their Christianity.

I oppose Islamo-Fascism for entirely different reasons: I see it as a threat to secularism - legalized marijuana, prostitution, gambling, nude beaches, smoking, drinking, free speech rights, ect...

Stop with this NeoCon crap will ya? If you want to debate NeoCons go to a NeoCon website. There's one I'm aware of called the "New NeoCons" or something to that affect. Have at it.

But here you will find only LIBERTARIANS OPPOSED TO ISLAMO-FASCISM with a few Defense Conservatives/Hawks sprinkled in.

Again, we do not follow any ethos of some blue jeans guy from the 1930s.

Eric Dondero said...

Holy Shit Jim!!!

We have a personal connection. I was working for Roger at the time he went to Australia. I remember it well. He came back bragging about having parachuted out of an airplane.

He went to Central Australia, some real backwoods country.

He was gone for weeks, and the RLC was put on hold until his return.

Sadly, he died a short time later. He was a massive alcoholic which did him in (actually he had a great many personal issues and habits.)

Don't tell me you met him on that trip?

Eric Dondero said...

BTW Jim, much of the reason why I'm such an expert on Libertarian Party history is because of Roger. We'd sit for hours and hours and hours at his mansion in South Miami Beach talking about the old days of the Libertarian Party from the 1970s and '80s. The stories I could tell you, many quite controversial, and some even shocking, of some of the personalities.

Roger died absolutely hating the Libertarian Party. He was vitriolic about the LP. He felt betrayed, and shunned by the Party he once led as Presidential candidate. He absolutely despised David Bergland and the whole Murray Rothbard crowd. He said they completely ruined the Party after Ed Clark.

I like to think that in some ways, I'm carrying on the torch for Roger's "mainstream libertarian" approach.

I sometimes feel his presence looking down at me, and urging me on. I worked for the guy for nearly 4 years, and was with him up until the very day he died.

Here's an eerie little story. Roger died of a massive intenstinal hemorrage in his mansion, 2 weeks after him and I had lobbied Congress for abolishing the Selective Service for 3 days up in DC.

Well, 2 years later one of the Bee Gees bought Roger's mansion in S. Miami Beach. He died 6 months later of a massive heart attack in the very same room.

Pretty wierd huh?

Eric Dondero said...

If Roger was alive today, I have no doubt he'd be supporting Wayne Root for President.

Root represents everything that Roger believed in - a mainstream approach that emphasizes capturing big media and expanding beyond the tiny Libertarian Party base.

It should be noted Roger's longtime friend and fellow Co-Founder of the LP Dr. John Hospers has endorsed Root.

stefan said...

Dear Eric:
The point I want to make is that I take exception for the description of conservative libertarians as being "anti-defense", which is totally inaccurate. We can agree that for left-wingers defense is quite a weak spot. Well, for authentic conservatives as well as conservative libertarians security and defense was, is and will always be a very important issue.
With the end of the Cold War the issue of military power for the US is not so important, being the only remaining superpower. Agreed?
The raise of militant Islamism (partly, not wholly as a result of interventionism since 35 years plus), has given the issue security importance indeed.
These issues cannot be solved by military power alone, as also certain US generals have stated, in their critique of Bush and McCain. Diplomacy is also important, while maintaining a strong military force. Diplomacy not out of weakness, but out of strength.

You define "NeoConservative" as meaning
"Religious Right: Pat Robertson, Bill Bennett, Howard Phillips, Richard Viguerie, I wish to have nothing to do with these folks. Sure, they may oppose Islamo-Fascism but only because they are Christian Right, and see it as a threat to their Christianity".
I do disagree with your definition, in part. Bill Bennet can be described as a "neoconservative" indeed, he also supports McCain strongly. Some Christians do follow a strong military reaction in Iraq and Iran indeed. John Hagee (no Christian IMHO_ - endorsed McCain - calls for an aggressive attacking of Iran. This apocalyptic view is very dangerous indeed. The neoconservatives are actually a small think group, with a lot of influence from Leo Straus, and now the likes of Podhoretz (father and son), Kistrol (father and son), David Frum, Ari Fleischer etc. Most or all of them are actually atheists, but they use (misuse) the religious beliefs of certain "Religious Right" to gain support, otherwise they know their vies has NO potential of support.
Authentic conservatives - the core of the GOP - regard the neoconservatives as the "militarist social democrats". This aggressive interventionist policies are so dangerous and has lead to mistakes. You should learn from mistakes in foreign policy. The traditional/authentic conservatives argue that neoconservatives are an illegitimate addition to the conservative movement. Pat Buchanan calls neoconservatism "a globalist, interventionist, open borders ideology.
I would not consider Howard Phillips or Viquerie as neoconservative in any sense. Phillips did vote for Ron Paul in 1988. He may be associated with the CP currently. Ron Paul is a conservative libertarian, that is he believe in conservative values, but with his strict understanding of the constitution (constructionist), he believes the Federal Government cannot prescribe values to society. One could say there is a difference in the view of the relation of chruch and state. Atheists see a RADICAL difference between church and state, as it exists in France (in tradition of the French Revolution). Christian libertarians see a relative difference between church and state (like it exists in Germany, UK etc.). I agree with this view. And some Christian fundamentalists see not much difference between church and state (Huckabee, that want to change the constitution, and some on the religious right side).

True libertarians (Christians or not) believe in true liberty as a universal value, that should be encouraged, but not with violence. The right to life the the most basic liberty and human right. It is HIGHLY dangerous to see action against terrorism as a "war of Islam", e.g. ca. 20% of the world's population. Eric, there are those that are naive, that believe all will be heaven on earth and peaceful. We clearly disagree with this view. The danger of terrorism and extremism is now more realistic as ever. Iraq under Saddam, whatever dictator he was, was a strong force against Al Qaeda, they could never got a foothold, but now they have strong power base there. They are spread in over 60 countries now. So if they attack the US, which country is the US going to attack? The fact is they are "faceless".
Even Richard Perle is saying now on BBC there has been serious mistakes in Iraq. Neoconservatives like him has a lot of blame. Time will tell if Eric can be persuaded, like Wayne Root, who has already seen the light (apparently).

stefan said...

We, we agree! Can you believe it??? As a third party, the LP does absolutely need a candidate that can make a strong impression,, someone who has achieved a lot
and has a presence and that can represent the basic beliefs in a special way, a charismatic figure (you call it pizzaz). One needs someone that can appeal to not only fiscal conservatives, but to social conservatives as well as social moderates alike. A well know TV/media personality like an actor can also do the trick. Too bad US politics look superficially at a person in terms of celebrity
status and not intellectual abilities. And if 80-100 m can be raised with a very aggressive media campaign, a real shot at the presidency is possible, perhaps this year more than others with the four way/5 way race. If Nader and/or Greens can take a substantial part of the Democratic vote (if Clinton is the nominee, they can get even more_, say 5-10%
and if the LP can get 30% plus, there is a possibility.
But most would agree it would not be likely. The LP will already do very good if it can achieve 10-20% and would be record shaking. But if it goes not manage to get any congressional seats, the LP could make no lasting influence IMHO, unless the GOP totally implodes, in which case it has the potential of becoming a major party.

Eric Dondero said...

No Stefan, I do not agree. I see Islamo-Fascism as a far, far, far greater threat to America than the Soviets ever were.

I don't recall the Soviets ever attacking one of our major cities and killing 3000 of our citizens.

And one other point: If I ever hear the name "Leo Strauss" one more time, I'm gonna scream.


Why in the bloody hell do Leftwing Libertarians like you always bring up the name of this asshole Strauss?

Leave it alone. The guy is deceased. Nobody knows who the fuck he is. Enough already with this dude.

You wanna talk NeoConservatism. Fine, use names of people who are known, like Bill Bennett, Pat Robertson, Howard Phillips, Richard Viguerie, Paul Weyrich,

Stop bringing up some goddamned obscure philosopher that nobody cares about from the 1930s.


Eric Dondero said...


Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a "strong force against Al Qaeda"??????

Are you fucking kidding me?


He harbored at least two, possibly more Al Qaeda terrorist training camps: Ansar Al-Islam and Salman Pac. He invited Zarcawi "Mr. Al Qaeda" to live in Baghdad, and to receive medical treatment at Iraqi hospitals. He even set him up with a comfy pension and bought him a house in Tikrit.

Richard Miniter in his book "The Shadow War: How America is winning the War on Terror" documents 40 some instances of direct links between Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Saying Saddam Hussein was against Al Qaeda is about the most perverse insane thing you've ever said on this Blog, Stefan.

Andrew said...


Leo Strauss was an obscure philospher who wrote almost nothing about politics, his pbooks were about Plato, Aristole and so forth.

It is an absolute laugh riot that he his now used as some sort of puppet master from the grave in the Bush Administration.

Strauss was apolitical. In fact, I dug up on AEI website abouut one of their scholars, Walter Burns who is 88 years old and was fellow professor with Strauss in the 1950s. Burns said the ONLY political thing he could remember about Strauss was in 1952 or 1956, Strauss came by his office one day and said that he need to register to vote for the presidential election that year. He was going to vote for Adali Stevenson. His reasoning was "well, he is from Illinois"(Strauss and Burns taught at the University of Chicago).

To Burns knowledge that was the only election Strauss voted in until he died in 1973. So there you have the "imfamous" puppetmaster, voted one time in his life and for the reason that the guy was the former Governor of the state in which Strauss was a professor in.

Kn@ppster said...


"But I don't even think skeptics like Tom Knapp, certainly not Stephen Gordon, would deny at this point that he's the frontrunner for the nomination."

You're certainly wrong in thinking that about me. Root is not, and has never been, the frontrunner for the nomination.

I'm not talking about ideology here, I'm talking about numbers.

The last polling I saw had Root slightly ahead of the field in delegate suppport, but he was right at the maximum of his positives -- essentially everyone who had a somewhat or very positive view of Root was already supporting him. Root was only at 24%, and had nowhere to go but down, with nearly half the party undecided.

Meanwhile, other candidates who are more like each other than like Root, and who have higher positives and lower negatives, are splitting the rest of the vote.

In successive balloting, that means that eventually the party gravitates to one of those other candidates, and Root maxes out at less than 25%. And that was before Ruwart entered the race.

You're mistaking what you think should determine who the frontrunner is for what does determine who the frontrunner is. Of course, Root is happy to help you do this with things like press releases that claim he "won it all in Missouri" when in fact he came in second place 30% behind "uncommitted."

stefan said...

Paul Wolfowitzand William Kristol ring a bell? Well, they were both students of Leo Strauss.

"Leo Strauss (September 20, 1899 – October 18, 1973), was a German-born Jewish-American political philosopher who specialized in the study of classical political philosophy. He spent most of his career as a Political Science Professor at the University of Chicago, where he taught several generations of devoted students and published fifteen books. Since his death, he has come to be regarded as one of the intellectual fathers of neoconservatism in the United States"

Now there are always different ways an influential thinker can be interpreted in different ways, so the whole political dogma could not always be attributed to him, more a further development of certain ideas. Eric, as an Italian-Jewish mix, it should at least interest you that he was a German Jew? No? In any case, I have it more against his political students like Kristol and Wolfowitz than Strauss himself.

Eric, no wonder I have such problems educating you to understand and define political ideas and you falsely "classify" me a a "left libertarian"! Well, in any case seems to make some progress from being first described as an "infiltrator in the libertarian movement" to "left libertarian".

I know and understand not everybody can be a political philosopher...but if you really want to understand political principles and what drive political thought and parties, you have to study political philosophy, which often/mostly involved studying the thoughts of "dudes"- in your words - that have been dead long ago. It is called historical
knowledge and insight. If you do not want to talk about historical persons anymore, please never refer to Hitler, prophet Mohammed/Islam, Stalin,
FDR, LBJ, MLK, JFK, Nixon, Ford, Reagan etc. anymore, as they are not with us anymore...

Andrew: you statement that wrinting about Socrates, Plato and Aristoteles is apolitical, and implying their writings are also apolitical is about as funny and crazy I have ever heard...thanks for the laugh.

Now Eric, would you describe me as a "left libertarian" or as a "crazy left libertarian"? (BTW: Thanks for the laugh).


Just as funny as McCain's

You have obviously not done your homework and listened to the link and interview I provided from THE specialist on Bin Laden. Interview with Gary Nolan. He was on CNN also day or ago ago. BTW: Scheuer is a Republican, he said he has NEVER voted for any Democrat, so he cannot be left in any sense, in any case not in your sense. In fact, I consider big government nanny state a la Bush as social-democratic and "central-left wing" already.

Do you have skype?

Andrew said...

Stefan, well as you know the old saying, "never judge a master by his disciples"......that applies to Strauss as well as most thinkers. I am sure Ludwig Von Mises would not want to be judged by the actions of Lew Rockwell and Thomas Di Lorenzo.

Andrew said...

Maybe this will put the whole Strauss thing to bed.

"Known more for his absorption in the abstractions of ancient philosophy than for any personal political ambitions, Strauss could hardly be held responsible for U.S. foreign policy, according to his defenders. As Tarcov pointed out to his class, the occasions when Strauss spoke up about the political issues of his day could be counted on one hand, and what he did say rarely lent itself to easy interpretation or implementation. “One can’t simply quote a line and say therefore the tax rate should be x, or we should invade these three countries,” he declared.

"In fact, Tarcov guessed that Strauss would have advised against going to war in the Middle East. Tarcov himself had felt from the beginning that invading Iraq was a bad idea. As he told WGN radio host Milt Rosenberg in February, “Machiavelli says, in The Art of War, that Europe should never invade Parthia.” Tarcov was using the ancient name for the region that today comprises Iran and Iraq and invoking one of the classics that Strauss worked so hard to revive over the course of his career. “Rome couldn’t subdue Parthia.”

Eric Dondero said...

Like I said Andrew, if I hear the name "Leo Strauss" one more time in any context on this Blog or any other, I'm gonna scream. Even coming from a friend like you.

As far as I'm concerned if it has to do with a "Strauss" it concerns only one matter: The invention of Blue Jeans.

Eric Dondero said...

I am hereby declaring this Blog a "No Leo Strauss Zone."

Any and all comments in the comments section that even mention his name will be delected by the Management upon discovery.

If you want to talk about Blue Jeans and mention "Strauss" that's fine.

But there will be no further discussion whatsoever on this Blog about some obscure non-political nothing of a man supposed "philospher" from the 1930s, that NOBODY gives a flying fuck about.

You all wish to talk about "NeoConservativism" fine. Talk about modern NeoCons that people have heard of like Bill Bennett, Pat Robertson, Richard Viguerie, Howard Phillips, Paul Weyrich, and other New Right/Pro-Lifer types.

stefan said...

Sure Eric, I concur (for this thread). How about Claude Levi Strauss or Carl Schmitt.

On your list:Richard Viquerie iS NO neoconservative,
as a matter of fact he blamed the neoconservatives for the GOP loss in 2006:

also Howard Phillips is NO neoconservative, he is a traditional conservative. He founded the US Taxpayers Party, that was renamed the Constitution Party in 1999. They have rejected the war in Iraq as unconstitutional and they are against foreign entanglements.

About Pat Robertson I cannot really say...well he did endorse your favorite warmonger Rudy...
Bill Bennet is indeed one (ex Democrat, just like Kristol & Co,
David Horowitz was a communist, I think (oops, I should not reinvoke the name of Karl Marx...)
Christopher Hitchens used to be a liberal and changed to a neocon (an atheist). Andrew's hero?
The list goes on, do not want to bother more here.

Eric, I hope your heart is in a better condition now and not too upset....

Andrew: alas one cannot find any really influential political philosopher at the moment, in any case not the same stature. They were Europeans, where Philosophy still plays a major role. Eric will sensor us if we refer to any political philosopher that is not longer with us. He is not open to discuss Plato's "Politea" or Aristoteles's "Nichomachean Ethics"?

stefan said...

Eric, so I have "progressed" in your eyes from being an "infiltrator" in the "libertarian" movement to a "left libertarian"?

Well, the truth is you could call me a "conservative, rightwing libertarian"
and you could be described - cough - as a "liberal rightwing libertarian"

Fair description?

Andrew said...

I agree Eric,only reason I brought it up was to show how silly it was for some libertarians to blame a certain German Jewish philosopher for what is going on in the Bush Administration

stefan said...

Andrew: I do blame Kristol, Frum, Podhoretz, Perle especially. IMHO Bush is more naive/ignorent of the neocon, not so much a proponent of them, but he made the mistake of appointing them as his advisers and following that advice. One should put the issue into perspective also, the groundwork for the Iraq invasion was laid 10 years ago during the CLinton administration.
Did you read: An Obama adviser wrote in 2003 that one could stay 25 years in Iraq...good Obama does not have to follow his advice, but I do think Obama is also a hypocrit, he would not necessarily pull troops out of Iraq - Justin take notice. Originally he was like CLinton only for a withdrawal in 2013, and he and she changed later (under influence of Ron Paul?).

Andrew said...

stefan wrote,

"Christopher Hitchens used to be a liberal and changed to a neocon (an atheist). Andrew's hero?"

I think he was a democratic socialist until the 1990s but has since moved on from socialism and become a Thomas Paine libertarian, if that owuld be the correct terminology.

He gave an interview in Reason several years ago and stated that he had always been influenced by libertarian critique of government.

Several years ago in Canada, he gave a speech to a libertarian think tank titled, "The Busybody State" which was excellent. Here is the audio link

But yes he does like neoconservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz

Jim Fryar said...

Sorry it has taken a while to get back to you.

The Roger MacBride talk happened a long time ago and I have been trying to recall just what was said, but it is not coming back. I can remember the guy well, it was a small meeting, about 40 people and I was impressed by the similarity of the American views to ours.

We tended to be relatively moderate in our views, and his ideas were consistent with this.

I came away quite impressed, he was a very likable guy, and the sort of person I would have liked to see as a candidate. To reiterate the point I was making before, he knew how to talk in a way that got the message across.

I was not aware of the alcoholism or other issues you mentioned, there were no signs of them. The Central Australia thing could have been the Northern Territory as we were very strong there, pulling 10% of the vote in places.

I often wondered what he went on to afterwards and am really saddened at your news.

He was a great communicator, and Wayne Root strikes me as a very similar person.

You have gotten a lot or interest in this one.

Less Antman said...

Eric Dondero said:

Alas, Burns didn't flake out as is commonly believed. I got the inside story on what actually took place from some super insiders - Pro-Defense Libertarians who were there in 1983. They told me that Burns had it out with some folks over the Defense issue. He was decidely more Pro-Defense than some in the LP and he couldn't see meshing his views with the largely Rothbardian Anti-War LP platform.


I believe that is what they told you, but you were misinformed on that one, and I can prove it. In the February 1983 Libertarian Forum, Murray announced the entry of Gene Burns into the race with the following lines:

"I bring tidings of great joy, we have a presidential candidate. His name is Gene Burns, of Orlando, Florida." Murray then went on to gush for another page. Gene Burns also was one of the few Libertarians who switched from the DEMOCRATIC party.

Similarly, in the September-October 1983 edition, recapping the convention, Rothbard expressed his extreme disappointment at the withdrawal, noting that he had spent several months relaxed and delighted by the manner in which Burns was representing libertarianism to the public, and only concerned by rumors that the campaign wasn't raising as much money as Burns wanted (so the money part of what they told you was probably true). Of course, the influx of Koch money following the nomination ought to have been sufficient to allay that concern.

I'm sorry, but Burns flaked out on us, pure and simple, and you were given biased information: there was no ideological conflict, and as part of that wing you described, I can tell you that I was not concerned by Burns' representation of our party and was utterly shocked by his withdrawal. We were united behind Burns, as was the LP Radical Caucus, and he let us down.

By the way, although I don't want to defend the Bergland campaign strategy (since I didn't like it either), blaming him for everything that Burns and then the Kochs did is unfair. Bergland did NOT want the nomination: I lived in Orange County, California at the time, and was present when Bergland declared, and he said in his announcement, "If you can find someone better, do it, but do it QUICKLY."

Bergland did not want to be the nominee, was desperate to find someone who was a better communicator and had more celebrity, and would probably agree with you about the strategic deficiencies of his campaign (though not on your ideological criticisms, of course).

Burns flaked out on us and then the Kochs made us an offer we had to refuse, and the fact that we were left bleeding and seriously injured as a party was not the fault of Bergland. We started recovering under Browne, and I think prospects for broadening the party are strong. And as a Republican, you should be delighted if we start attracting support from the left.

Insider said...

Some of the information in this comment thread is quite mistaken.

To the extent that you can conflate Charles and David Koch into "the Kochs", their support of the LP ended in 1980. They gave no support to the LNC after that year.

Many of the libertarians who were in the Crane orbit hung on for several years but stopped even showing up for LNC meetings after December 1982.

The Kochs, long gone from the LP, probably didn't even know (or care) that Gene Burns was running.

The ex-Clark campaign staffers were paying very little attention to the LP during the summer of 1984. They had moved on.

When Burns dropped out shortly before the convention, Ed Crane had a renewed blip of interest in the LP, asked Ravenal to run, and a few (rather half-hearted) phone calls were made to see if some delegates could come to NYC at the very last minute. Some of the old crowd showed up, obviously facing long odds because they'd had nothing to do with the delegate selection process.

It's silly and insulting to accuse Charles Koch or David Koch or Ed Crane of leaving the party because they didn't get their way. They left the party, at different times, largely because they came to believe that a third party faced insuperable obstacles.

Had Ravenal won the nomination, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the Kochs would not have supported his candidacy. Even if they had, they would only have been able to contribute a few thousand dollars under FEC regulations, as opposed to 1980, when David Koch, as a candidate, was able to contribute as much as he chose of his own money.

It wasn't surprising that Ruwart didn't endorse Ravenal. Her endorsement of Bergland--as opposed to staying neutral--showed poor judgment. However, I don't think her endorsement can be blamed for the long decline and fall of the LP.

Less Antman said...

Last call, then I've had my say. Not being privy to the contribution list, I won't dispute the possibility that the Kochs would have done nothing to support Burns. Maybe that's true. It would make sense, since the assertion by the people who talked to Eric that Burns was having problems with the Rothbard wing was definitely untrue. So, Eric, maybe a Burns campaign wouldn't have been any better for the LP.

As I said earlier, I'm a Hayekian and recognize that knowledge is dispersed among lots of different people, and I'm only a blind man who is trying to describe the elephant based on the part of the body I examined. But the Kochs weren't gone yet. David Koch was ON THE FLOOR of the convention in 1983, in the flesh, walking to every state delegation including mine along with Dick Randolph and Roger MacBride, asking us to support Ravenal, and telling us that he would pledge $300,000 to ballot drives if Ravenal were the nominee, and nothing if Bergland got it.

The vast majority of costs would have been for ballot drives for the LP to get the nominee on the ballot, and would not have been subject to the FEC limits on contributions to candidates. It was a credible "my candidate or I'm taking my marbles and going home" statement to all the delegates. Again, memories fade, but I've never used hallucinogenic drugs, and the Libertarian Forum's written summary of the convention includes a discussion of the Koch offer.

Additionally, because of the unfortunate LP policy that allowed understaffed delegations to add anyone, without residency requirements, and because Western states were underrepresented in New York, especially Alaska because of its unusually high Libertarian success, somewhere between 75 and 100 Ravenal people showed up, taking spots in states where they didn't reside, flying in after the convention was underway, and getting last minute hotel rooms and having to cover all their costs. Remembering that Ravenal declared just before the convention, the idea that these people were all independently so enthused by Earl Ravenal that they spontaneously arrived to spend so much of their own money to cast 1 vote is slightly hard to believe, and their mass disappearance the next day another amazing coincidence. That had to have cost a LOT of money, and I can think of few people who would bankroll such a maneuver other than the guy walking around the convention floor or his brother.

One of the funniest jokes going around the convention on the final day related to the Alaska delegation casting 30 votes for the presidential race, and only 9 the next day for VP. The head of the delegation was asked, "Where are all the Alaskans?" and he replied "They all flew back to Maryland."

As I said, it is certainly possible that the Kochs had no interest in Burns, and wouldn't have helped any on the ballot drives for him, but David Koch definitely showed up in New York and tried to get Ravenal the nomination with a big financial commitment. He wasn't doing it furtively or in back rooms, he wasn't ashamed of the offer: why should he be? It happened.

Memories fade: without referring to old notes, I certainly wouldn't have remembered all of the above, so I don't question the sincerity of people who remember it differently.

Okay, that's it for my trip down memory lane. I need to get back to other priorities.

Eric Dondero said...

Sorry Lee, but your account is in complete error. Burns did most certainly drop out over the Defense, and additionally, as I've noted, over a financial dispute over travel expenses with the National HQ.

I'm not suprised by Rothbard backing Burns. He may have disagree with him on the issues, but their styles were virtually identical.

Roger MacBride told me the whole story of 1983 in the months before his death.

He told me that Bergland had orchestrated the whole deal. He said that Bergland was behind the National HQ denying Burns the expense money, so that Bergland could jump in and be the Nominee.

I've confirmed this from numerous other sources, who have told me that Bergland showed up early in NYC, went to the convention hall, and immediately started shaking hands with delegates soliciting their support for his Presidential bid. That conflicts strongly with your contention that Bergland was somehow an "unwilling nominee."

David Bergland is an evil human being. He has single-handidly done more damage to the Libertarian Party and the entire libertarian movement than any other person.

He is the sole cause for the failure of the Libertarian Party even today.

Anyone associated with Bergland, even in the slightest way, is not fit to be the Presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party, and that certainly includes Ms. Ruwart.

Eric Dondero said...


I worked for Roger MacBride as Executive Director of the Republican Liberty Caucus for nearly 5 years. I spent numerous hours and days at his S. Miami Beach mansion recounting old Libertarian Party history over gin and tonics for hours on end.

Roger is the one who orchestrated the whole Ravenal deal, not Clark. It was Roger who was tied in with the Kochs, and Ed Crane, Bob Costello, Eric O'Keefe and that whole crew. It was Roger that was influential in getting Ravenal to run.

When Burns dropped out, Roger even put his name up in some circles if nobody else would run. He wanted to head off Bergland. Everyone knew that Bergland was planning to run months before the convention as the purist Rothbardian candidate to challenge Burns.

Roger wanted to do everything in his power to stop Bergland (and Bill Evers, Michael Emerling, that whole crew.)

The Kochs were definitely paying interest in the outcome of the convention through Roger.

After Ravenal lost, there was even efforts on behalf of Roger and a few other Koch types to take over the National Unity Party and run a Libertarian on that ticket. But the efforts soon failed.

Again, David Bergland is the sole reason for the enormous failure of the Libertarian Party in the last three decades. He is a horrible human being, and an even worse Libertarian. It was his selfish motives to run for President that has caused the LP so much heartache and misery these past few decades.

I curse the name of David Bergland, and I know that Roger looking down on us all right now, is damning him to hell.

Insider said...

Less, your account underscores my point. The group of people who were associated with Crane had decided that LP was a non-starter many months before the '83 nominating convention.

That's why so many states sent delegations with gaping big holes in them--the party was already in a steep decline. The last-minute Ravenal candidacy, to many of the people who decided to go to NYC after all (I was one of them) had a bit of the flavor of a lark.

David Koch didn't stroll over to my state's delegation to say he'd pay for ballot drives if Ravenal got the nomination, but I don't dispute your recollection.

I take it that he didn't say that he was going to pay for ballot drives if Bergland got the nomination, so there should have been no surprise or reason for resentment on that score.

Your assertion that someone must have bankrolled 75-100 Ravenal people to show up is laughable. Your sole source of support for this seems to be an old copy of Libertarian Forum. For the most part, LF was an outlet in which Murray displayed his issues with borderline rage. It was not even close to a reliable news source.

Insider said...

Eric, you were much more of an insider than I was.

The main thing I remember about Bergland was how people referred to him as "Dave 'speaking as an attorney' Bergland" apparently because he frequently prefaced his sentences with, "Speaking as an attorney."

Less Antman said...

Does that also apply to anyone with even the slightest historical association to Ron Paul? ;)

Anyway, Gene Burns is the only one who knows for certain why Gene Burns withdrew, and I won't claim any certainty on the matter.

Ruwarchy! said...

Mary Ruwart is an anarchist. She wrote this at Lew Rockwell: "I was easily won over to anarchy."

This means that she doesn't believe in laws or government. She would not have a law which says it is illegal to have sex with a young child because anarchists don't believe in laws.