And The Butthurt Begins

John Scalzi:

Libertarians: Never got over the fact they weren’t the illegitimate children of Robert Heinlein and Ayn Rand; currently punishing the rest of us for it. Unusually smug for a political philosophy that’s never gotten anyone elected for anything above the local water board. All for legalized drugs and prostitution but probably wouldn’t want their kids blowing strangers for crack; all for slashing taxes for nearly every social service but don’t seem to understand why most people aren’t at all keen to trade in even the minimal safety net the US provides for 55-gallon barrels of beans and rice, a crossbow and a first-aid kit in the basement. Blissfully clueless that Libertarianism is just great as long as it doesn’t actually involve real live humans.

Libertarians blog with a frequency that makes one wonder if they’re actually employed somewhere or if they have loved ones who miss them. Libertarian blogs even more snide than conservative blogs, if that’s possible. Socially slow — will assume other people actually want to talk about legalizing hemp and the benefits of a polyamorous ethos when all these other folks really want is to drink beer and play Grand Theft Auto 3. Libertarianism the official political system of science fiction authors, which explains why science fiction is in such a rut these days. Libertarians often polyamorous (and hope you are too) but also somewhat out of shape, which takes a lot of the fun out of it.

Easily offended; Libertarians most likely to respond to this column. The author will attempt to engage subtle wit but will actually come across as a geeky whiner (Conservatives, more schooled in the art of poisonous replies, may actually achieve wit; liberals will reply that they don’t find any of this humorous at all). Libertarians secretly worried that ultimately someone will figure out the whole of their political philosophy boils down to “Get Off My Property.” News flash: This is not really a big secret to the rest of us.

Yesterday, I asked the following:

I’m really curious what the libertarian response is to the Governor of Michigan seizing a town, firing the elected officials, and then handing it over to private enterprise.

The reason I asked is because it seems to me to be precisely the kind of thing libertarians would rightly be up in arms about. It’s just a crazy, crazy situation. So, what do libertarians actually think:

John Cole asks what libertarians have to say about Benton Harbor, Michigan (Hint… he’s not “really curious.” He just says he is):

***

What I’d like to hear most in the comments is not how I, personally, am to blame — via some absurd mishmash of things I don’t believe anyway, derived, you’ll swear, from books you haven’t read anyway.

What I’d like to hear are people making the case for and against what’s happened in Benton Harbor. Yes, I’d really like to hear both! Reference to actual events, and to anticipated outcomes, will do much more to help me form a considered opinion than will reference to ideological judgments of any type. Oh, and please cite your sources. I’ll want to check those as closely as I can.

So one response is “He doesn’t really care, and don’t blame me, and sure it’s bad, but what do you think?”

Next up, the perpetually vexed and self-annointed defender of all things libertarian, Radley Balko:

John Cole commits the Balloon Juice fallacy once again. Jason Kuznicki responds here.

I’d add a couple things. First, to say that what’s happening in one town in Michigan is “light years more egregious” than the widespread eminent domain cases that gave rise to the Kelo v. New London case shows a pretty astonishing indifference to (or ignorance of) just how often eminent domain is abused, and who tends to get abused by it. Of course, the fact that libertarians have been leading the fight against government efforts to take property from low- and middle-income people and hand it over to rich developers tends to get in the way of Cole efforts to portray “glibertarians” as corporate whores who eat poor families’ babies for breakfast. So it’s in his interest to play down its significance.

By the way, a search of Balloon Juice archives shows just two mentions of “eminent domain” since 2005, about the time John Cole converted from warmongering Bush hugger to blogging cheerleader/fundraiser for Democrats. There hasn’t been a single mention of the Atlantic Yards, Port Chester, National City, or Montgomery eminent domain outrages, all covered by Reason, and all of which involved governments taking land from poor people to give to wealthy developers. Applying the Balloon Juice fallacy, I hereby declare this silence “suspicious”! And I wonder: Why do John Cole and his Balloon Juice co-bloggers hate poor people?

The deep answer is- “John Cole is a poopyhead for asking!” And for the record, Radley probably should have searched for “Kelo,” given that was the most widely given instance in the past few years since I was a “Bush hugger.” I was against it.

By the way, it looks like it was a hole in one again for Scalzi.

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98 replies
  1. 1
    4tehlulz says:

    Shorter Radley: If the Kochs don’t care, then no one should.

  2. 2
    growingdaisies says:

    I think this — “He doesn’t really care, and don’t blame me, and sure it’s bad, but what do you think?” — is actually too kind.

    What I get out of that response is: “I care so little I haven’t bothered to look into this, thus proving your point. Please do all of the research and work for me and then I might condescend to grace you with my honored opinion.”

    It’s a generous offer, but, uh … no.

  3. 3

    I “don’t really care”?

    That must be why I said the whole thing “stinks to high heaven,” and why I spent much of last night reading up on the issue, and why I invited people to comment on it, and why I’m getting ready to post yet again about it, this time with some better informed conclusions.

    The moment it came to my attention, I started educating myself. If that’s not really caring, then you have a funny definition of the term.

  4. 4
    JoyousMN says:

    I was a Libertarian at about the same age I was a Randian. Meaning from about 13-18.

    Then you get a life and all it entails, and you (hopefully) realize that those glib easy answers don’t match up to the real world.

    BTW I did love Heinlein too, but I also loved Aldous Huxley’s Island. So I was an equal opportunity dreamer.

  5. 5
    John Cole says:

    @Jason Kuznicki: I was just using the same standard you applied to me when you stated I’m not really curious.

  6. 6
    Chris says:

    Scalzi’s really good at those things.

    Although my personal favorite part of that article comes under “conservatives”:

    :The sort of people who would rather shit on a freshly baked apple pie than share it with someone not of their “tribe.”

  7. 7
    cathyx says:

    No, what I got out of the response was, “I know my libertarian stances aren’t consistent and don’t make sense, but I don’t care what you think.”

  8. 8
    anoNY says:

    The deep answer is- “John Cole is a poopyhead for asking!”

    Actually, his “deep” answer was to point out that libertarians are the ones leading the fight against this sort of abuse of eminent domain laws, but since this fact goes against Cole’s perception of libertarians, he (Cole) didn’t mention it.

    The second part of the post just points out that Cole has ignored similar eminent domain abuse, while Reason has covered that abuse.

  9. 9
    Silver says:

    Balko is a classic case of someone not sticking to his area of expertise. He really does great work documenting police misconduct and the related War on Drugs. Why that means I should give a fuck about what he thinks about anything related to economics is lost on me.

  10. 10
    birthmarker says:

    Conservatives, more schooled in the art of poisonous replies, may actually achieve wit

    JC, are you still secretly a conservative? Or is the wit just a fortuitous carryover?

  11. 11
    TheColourfield says:

    Balko is a clueless moron. Thinks that linking to a few cops and prosecutor abuse stories makes him some kind of hero.

    Meanwhile he’s outraged that anyone dare question him for defending retards like McSuderman.

    Oh and its obvious he spends half his day looking for any post that mentions him.

    A perfect Scalzi example.

  12. 12
    reflectionephemeral says:

    Libertarianism is just great as long as it doesn’t actually involve real live humans.

    That seems a bit too generous to libertarianism. After all, it doesnt work in theory, either. If we apply these lax standards, how are they ever going to learn to reason for themselves?

  13. 13
    Martin says:

    Who fucking cares what Reason has to say about these things. What do the actual libertarian leaning folks that have been elected to office say about these things? What’s Ryans and the Pauls’ stand on it? Radley would probably be quick to whip out the ‘Ryan is a conservative, not a libertarian’ card (along with the Pauls), but Ryan is unquestionably more libertarian leaning than most in the House.

    That’s part of the problem with the libertarian movement, every bit of incremental libertarianism we see in action is a disaster presumably because it was polluted by the conservative/neocon/liberal/whatever philosophies that make up the rest of the person’s outlook, yet we’re supposed to believe that if a little libertarianism is a disaster, and a bunch of libertarianism is a catastrophe, full-on libertarianism will be awesome. It’s bullshit. And it’s bullshit because even if you could somehow create John Galt from the random DNA you find in the Minnesota airport men’s room stall glory hole, unless he took over as supreme dictator, his pure libertarianism is always going to get fucked up by the other 100 senators and 400-odd house members, the president, the supreme court, governors, state legislators, corporations, and so on. If the only way for libertarianism to actually be implemented is to live in Narnia, can we please get these guys to stop running for office and barfing up the Sunday shows, and get them churning out novels instead? I’ll buy the fucking books if it means they would stop shitting on the rest of the process.

  14. 14
    John Cole says:

    Actually, his “deep” answer was to point out that libertarians are the ones leading the fight against this sort of abuse of eminent domain laws, but since this fact goes against Cole’s perception of libertarians, he (Cole) didn’t mention it.

    The second part of the post just points out that Cole has ignored similar eminent domain abuse, while Reason has covered that abuse.

    That’s one hell of a retort, considering my post EXPLICITLY NOTED that libertarians are rightly upset about eminent domain:

    Seems to me this is light years more egregious than Kelo v. the City of New London, which sparked much outrage.

    I mean, it is right there in the post. Libertarians were rightly outraged about eminent domain abuses. I’m on their side on the issue, and wanted to know why I haven’t read anything about the Benton Harbor situation.

    So his “deep” answer was to completely ignore the post I made in the first place?

  15. 15
    daveNYC says:

    John Cole commits the Balloon Juice fallacy once again.

    I am not aware of this internet tradition.

  16. 16
    TheColourfield says:

    Tried to correct a spelling mistake and double posted instead.

    Sorry

    FYWP

  17. 17

    @John Cole:

    Sure, you said you were really curious, but then, when you got an actual libertarian response — about how we should be suspicious whenever a local government is subverted by a state government — you didn’t even bother to mention it to your readers. Seems to me you’re doing them a disservice.

    That is, if you were really curious. If you just want to thump your chest about suspicious silences, I obviously can’t stop you.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Shorter libertarian answer: Shut up. Our team is winning.

  20. 20
    Chyron HR says:

    [L]ibertarians have been leading the fight against government efforts to take property from low- and middle-income people and hand it over to rich developers

    Are they leading the fight to defend the land of the overworld from the evil Prince By-Tor also, too?

  21. 21
    Tom Levenson says:

    I do love Scalzi’s description of my humble affiliation:
    Liberals are:

    Fractious and have no sense of loyalty; will publicly tear out the intestines of those closest to them at the most politically inopportune times. The attention spans of poultry; easily distracted from large, useful goals by pointless minutiae. Not only can’t see the forest for the trees, can’t see the trees for the pine needles. Deserve every bad thing that happens to them because they just can’t get their act together. Too bad those they presume to stand for get royally screwed as well.

    I’d say that’s not funny, that politics is too important to joke like that…

    Oh, wait…

    Parody’s an art. You go, Scalzi.

  22. 22
    Paris says:

    Hint… he’s not “really curious.” He just says he is

    You can add mind reading to the vast number of skills libertarians possess.

    Deep down, they believe all property should be private so they should consider Benton Harbor a sign of progress.

  23. 23
    malraux says:

    @daveNYC: I believe the Balloon Juice fallacy is something like “because Alfred doesn’t have any public comments on the policy of space alien abduction, Alfred is actually in favor space alien abductions”. Its saying that because you haven’t publicly denounced a subject you must favor it.

    At one level, it is a fallacy. At another level it is worth asking why only certain subjects ever come up, even when they are remarkably similar.

  24. 24
    Jim Hulsey says:

    Libertarians often polyamorous (and hope you are too) but also somewhat out of shape, which takes a lot of the fun out of it.

    Funniest thing I’ve read in a while.

  25. 25
    different church-lady says:

    @John Cole: To be fair, I also took your statement as a diminishment of Kelo, not as an acknowledgment of its righteousness.

  26. 26
    JoyousMN says:

    What Martin said

    This search for perfection from humans is a big part of why this stuff just doesn’t work.

  27. 27
    mafisto says:

    @Tom Levenson: I was just about to quote that. Beautiful.

  28. 28
    NobodySpecial says:

    Is Reason a profit-making concern?

    If not, then they ARE ‘corporate whores’. SOMEONE’S put the money in Radley Balko’s pocket. Bet he doesn’t look too far down THAT rabbit hole, though.

  29. 29
    John Cole says:

    @Tom Levenson: It’s so true.

    Oh and its obvious he spends half his day looking for any post that mentions him.

    That’s not true, as I never even mentioned him. He must have seen the link at the League and decided to join the fun.

    I stopped reading the Agitator because I thought he was at the HuffPo, and I find that site simply unmanageable. It takes me ten minutes to find Froomkin. I could have sworn the Agitator was even down and no longer available, so I stopped even clicking it to check. Glad to know it is back up.

  30. 30
    different church-lady says:

    @Tom Levenson: But isn’t that a dead-nuts-on description of the Daily Kos Rec List?

  31. 31
    Paris says:

    @Martin: You’ll find that communism didn’t work because it wasn’t pure enough, also. Ideologies that don’t work in the real world are not worth a lot. Separating fantasy from reality is an important attribute of ‘adults’.

  32. 32
    Comrade Mary says:

    Tom, I remember when Scalzi posted this a few years ago that he got crap from several people about 1) Not being smart enough to understand libertarianism and 2) Obviously being too shallow and cynical to care about politics, despite having posted repeatedly on political issues.

    Why I love my iPhone, part 83: autocorrect tried to turn libertarians into loveseats.

  33. 33
    Martin says:

    @malraux:

    At another level it is worth asking why only certain subjects ever come up, even when they are remarkably similar.

    Well, it’s not like the Michigan law has gone unnoticed – I’ve read about it at no less than half a dozen sites including CNN. And this isn’t even a court case where we can blame it on the peculiarities of the individuals sitting on the bench. It’s legislation, passed in 2 chambers and signed by the governor.

    I’d think that people interested in eminent domain might notice legislature passed that can wipe out local government, particularly as it’s coming out of a movement that is very eager to share their ideas with other states.

  34. 34
    Martin says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Why I love my iPhone, part 83: autocorrect tried to turn libertarians into loveseats.

    I like that! Loveseats are useful.

  35. 35
    piratedan says:

    @Jason Kuznicki: well Jason, it’s been kicked around here by the commenters for about the last two months or so since Michigan passed the law that modified the powers of the governor and his appointees that allowed the State of Michigan to be turned into a feudal state as Baron Snyder appointed his castellans to perform the bidding of whichever corporate agreement had to be settled. TRMS has been crowing about it for three months. R’s keep running on small Conservative limited government platforms and then when elected are all up in your uterus making your decisions. Appears to be a small difference between what is said and what is done.

    Since this appears to fly directly in the face of what Libertarianism is supposed to stand for, it was asked politely since this was apparently in your wheelhouse. You whiffed and got defensive by trolling up Atlantic Yards which has been supported by D’s and R’s alike and Port Chester which from everything that I remember was a local dispute about a mayor and his handling of local zoning issues and if you wanna draw a parallel, please tell me how that equates to eviscerating local elected officials and turning them into parodies with no power to represent the people that elected them.

  36. 36
    New Yorker says:

    So, uh, did any of them actually answer your question, John? Are they against the seizure of Benton Harbor?

    All I saw was a long line of ad hominems. Also, the “Bush-lover” thing sounds suspiciously like “Robert Byrd was in the KKK!”

  37. 37
    different church-lady says:

    @Martin: Wait, I think I’ve got it: emanate eminent (god… no coffee yet…) domain is perceived as government taking away from private individuals, whereas Benton Harbor is perceived as government-on-government violence. Thus, the latter is far less likely to raise libertarian hackles.

  38. 38
    The Moar You Know says:

    Are they leading the fight to defend the land of the overworld from the evil Prince By-Tor also, too?

    @Chyron HR: Snow-Dpg is victorious. The land of the otherworld is safe again.

  39. 39
    Citizen Alan says:

    These comments have literally brightened my day (it’s raining heavily outside). Kuznicki how has TWO furious replies to a post which anticipates that Libertarians are the ones so touchy and thin-skinned that they are the political sect most likely to make furious replies to anyone who makes fun of them. Hilarious.

    Oh, re: Kelo. Yes, it was a horrible outcome. But could anyone who disagrees with the reasoning of the opinion itself kindly direct me to a clause of the Constitution that forbids a city from using eminent domain in the manner it was applied in that case? Because my copy says that there shall be “no takings without just compensation” but is otherwise silent on the topic, and frankly, I’m not nearly as concerned about abuses of eminent domain as I am Supreme Court justices inventing a whole new way to interfere with the government’s ability to build new roads, new schools, new fire houses, etc. just because in one case a sympathetic plaintiff got screwed.

  40. 40
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @malraux:

    At one level, it is a fallacy. At another level it is worth asking why only certain subjects ever come up, even when they are remarkably similar.

    Agreed. And on one on level I get why based on his past history and ideological journey John has it in for the official house organs of Libertarianism and looks for opportunities to poke them with a sharp stick every chance he gets, but it seems to me that this particular flavor of hypocrisy (selective blindness) is a more or less universal part of the human condition, at least the last time I checked. What does it accomplish to throw rocks at people just for doing that?

    Look, we all know that as a rule of thumb power tends to corrupt, nicht wahr? Which means that every sort of ideological and structural flavor of concentrated power could use somebody who makes it their particular fetish to fight back against it and only it, even if they may be overly specialized from the point of view of the rest of the world. If Libertarians (so-called) want to spend all their time and energy fighting back against Left-wing governmental overreach, then God bless them and good luck as far as I’m concerned, so long as they STFU and stay out of the way of the rest of us who are engaged in fighting back against Right-wing governmental overreach, overreach by centers of power in the private sector, etc.

    I think Libertarians are much more deserving of criticism when they are actively supporting other forms of concentrated power. Perhaps it would make more sense for John to keep his powder dry for those occasions rather than saying “Nah, Nah, your hypocrisy is showing” every chance he gets.

  41. 41
    shortstop says:

    @Jason Kuznicki: “He doesn’t really care” is Cole’s summation of your summation of Cole. The quotation marks can help you derive meaning as you find your way through sentences.

  42. 42
    shortstop says:

    @Martin: I want loveseats. All I ever get are Liberians.

  43. 43
    Citizen_X says:

    @Tom Levenson: Bwaaahahaha! Also, too, ow! Ow! Owie!

  44. 44
    Citizen Alan says:

    Oh, and having given the matter a great deal of thought, I have decided that I would vote for a Republican before I ever vote for a Libertarian.

    And I will eat a bullet before I ever vote Republican.

  45. 45

    wow this is a lot of word to fail at saying the following:

    libertarians don’t care about black people;discuss.

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @cathyx:

    The thing is they’re not intelligent enough to realize that the inconsistency is what does them in as a serious intellectual movement.

    All this “mine mine MINE!” shit gets in the way of being taken seriously, because their fundamental problem is they don’t seem to realize that maximum liberty for all means they have to give up their personal maximum rights. It’s always a balance, and the self centered twits don’t get it. But then three year olds don’t get it, either.

  47. 47
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @John Cole: I warned you. Im fucking sick of playing Cassandra to you dumb juicers Troy.

    “Equo ne credite, Teucri. Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.”
    “Do not trust the horse, Trojans Juicers! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks Glibertarians, even bringing gifts.”

    The leading edge of the Wingularity is beginning to engulf the libertarian wing of the conservative movement. In the run up to the 2012 election all three legs of the conservative stool will fall to the Wingularity; socons, neocons, and fiscalcons aka freemarket “libertarians”.
    Like DougJ predicts… birtherism will be mainstreamed, and the LoOG is already mainstreaming Islamophobia with Tim Kowal and Elia Insquire.

    I think multiculturalism is fine until it bleeds into moral relativism; and yes I’m willing to admit to being a western chauvinist in so far as that I believe any cultural custom that is undergirded by superstition and misogyny can go suck a lemon.

  48. 48

    @piratedan:

    well Jason, it’s been kicked around here by the commenters for about the last two months or so since Michigan passed the law that modified the powers of the governor and his appointees….

    I don’t usually read the comments here. Usually I don’t even read the main site. From what I’ve read, however, the really troubling law was passed only a little over a month ago.

    R’s keep running on small Conservative limited government platforms and then when elected are all up in your uterus making your decisions. Appears to be a small difference between what is said and what is done.

    Yes! You’re quite right.

    Since this appears to fly directly in the face of what Libertarianism is supposed to stand for, it was asked politely…

    I was right with you until that last word. But anyhoo.

    You whiffed and got defensive by trolling up Atlantic Yards which has been supported by D’s and R’s alike and Port Chester which from everything that I remember was a local dispute about a mayor and his handling of local zoning issues and if you wanna draw a parallel, please tell me how that equates to eviscerating local elected officials and turning them into parodies with no power to represent the people that elected them.

    You’re thinking of Radley. I was the one who said:

    [O]ther things being equal, local governments deserve much more authority than remote ones…. In other words, what happened in Benton Harbor stinks to high heaven…. Yes, there are problems with devolution, and sometimes local governments horribly betray the cause of individual liberty…. But… if you want to talk about localism, let’s talk. I’m all about localism…. Yes, we can — and we should — argue about who gets what in the devolution process. Still, the principle is clear: In general, local governments will tend to be more responsive to local needs and concerns, at least if the citizens are more or less equal in civil rights and access to the political process.

    Since that’s obviously not happening in Benton Harbor, we have a pretty big problem here.

    I’m happy that Cole brought it to my attention. It annoys me that I apparently have to take his side on the issue, but at least the feeling is mutual.

  49. 49

    @Jason Kuznicki:

    I’m happy that Cole brought it to my attention. It annoys me that I apparently have to take his side on the issue, but at least the feeling is mutual.

    I like this guy.

    @Citizen Alan:

    I have decided that I would vote for a Republican before I ever vote for a Libertarian. And I will eat a bullet before I ever vote Republican.

    I don’t know about that. Say what you will about the tenets of libertarianism, at least it’s an ethos. Republicans believe in nothing.

  50. 50
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley:

    birtherism will be mainstreamed, and the LoOG is already mainstreaming Islamophobia

    How’s it go again?

    The attention spans of poultry; easily distracted from large, useful goals by pointless minutiae. Not only can’t see the forest for the trees, can’t see the trees for the pine needles.

  51. 51
    Tasty Curry says:

    Um. This all seems a bit odd.

    I am a libertarian and think that is going on in Benton Harbor is asinine. I have never heard of this blog before, and only heard of the Benton Harbor issue when a libertarian site noted the situation and decried it.

    Seems everyone thinks it sucks. Why the fuss and unnecessary calling out of people who agree with you? Seems a bit immature.

  52. 52
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal:

    libertarians don’t care about black people;discuss.

    libertarians don’t care about POOR people. It doesn’t matter what color they are.

  53. 53
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Sentient Puddle:

    I would direct your attention now to Tim Kowal and Notes from Babel. His intro post is here. Please welcome him to the League.

    Notes from Babel.
    Islamophobes R Us.

  54. 54
    Luthe says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    The problem with Kelo was not the “just compensation” clause. It was the “public use” clause. Roads, schools, firehouses, etc. all have demonstrable public use, are tangible, and have immediate benefits. Taking a property in order to turn it over to a private enterprise in the name of “economic development” is a different story. The property won’t be usable by the public, the effects are intangible, and the benefit is delayed (if it is ever realized in the first place).

    Suzette Kelo didn’t object to the amount of compensation she was going to receive. She objected to the fact that the City of New London was taking her house and handing it over to Pfizer (who subsequently left New London and the property in question).

  55. 55
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @reflectionephemeral:

    the tenets of libertarianism

    What exactly are those?
    I do not think true libertarianism exists in America.

  56. 56
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley: Yeah, stay fixated on those pine needles, mate.

  57. 57
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Martin:

    That’s part of the problem with the libertarian movement, every bit of incremental libertarianism we see in action is a disaster presumably because it was polluted by the conservative/neocon/liberal/whatever philosophies that make up the rest of the person’s outlook

    So it’s got the moral underpinnings of conservatism combined with the political cohesiveness of progressivism? :)

  58. 58
    Mark S. says:

    Shorter Radley Balko:

    I can’t be bothered to read an article or two about what’s happening in Michigan, but it is in no way more egregious than eminent domain.

    I can think of one way this case is worse than the usual eminent domain case: usually, if you don’t like your local officials seizing land and selling it to cronies, you can vote the crooks out. This isn’t an option when the governor appoints a fucking overseer and removes your local officials from power.

  59. 59
    Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac says:

    The point of all of this was to say that Libertarians, with the very basic libertarian stance that government has too much power and abuses that power, Benton Harbor should have been shouted from every serious libertarian blog ever since the law passed “nearly two months ago”

    From what I’ve read, however, the really troubling law was passed only a little over a month ago.

    Why are Libertarians usually annoyingly pedantic as well?

  60. 60
    Paul in KY says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley: Libertarians are Republicans who are too chickenshit to call themselves ‘Republicans’.

  61. 61
    Nerull says:

    @Jason Kuznicki: So…all the discussion, protests, etc. about this bill, and you, great defender of FREEDOM that you are, didn’t notice it until yesterday? Right.

  62. 62
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley: Ahhh, but it does matter. Just ask Dr. Ron Paul’s strongest supporters.

  63. 63
    Mac G says:

    Today is 4/20, big day for the reason crowd to care about decriminalization of drugs.

  64. 64
    HyperIon says:

    about the time John Cole converted from warmongering Bush hugger to blogging cheerleader/fundraiser for Democrats….

    and pets!
    don’t forget the pets.

  65. 65
    Jay C says:

    @Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac:

    Regarding the passage of the Michigan EFM law: wasn’t the Act passed in March (2011) some sort of revision or expansion of existing legislation? IIRC, MI has had some kind of EFM-appointment statute on the books for a while (one which had been very seldom used in the past): but when the Snyder regime took over this year, they revised the law to (I think) remove some level or another of accountability/oversight (?).

  66. 66
    HyperIon says:

    @reflectionephemeral wrote:

    Say what you will about the tenets of libertarianism, at least it’s an ethos…

    i can think of someone else who had an ethos….

  67. 67
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Sentient Puddle: you are mistaking pineneedles for old growth timber methinks.
    On empirical observation the LoOG has gone full frontal christian triumphalist.
    Don’t Blame Terry Jones, Blame the Religion of Misogyny and Murder.
    Kain Made Me Write This Quasi-retration But I’m Still Right

    The LoOG is mainstreaming/legitimizing islamophobia.
    The Wingularity is Near.
    ;)

  68. 68
    Jesse Ewiak says:

    @Jay C: Basically, yes. The old EFM law was your basic “parachute a state official in with general oversight measures if a locality is totally off the rails” law that most states have. Snyder and his allies basically beefed up the law with more power and less oversight.

  69. 69
    MattR says:

    From Balko:

    By the way, a search of Balloon Juice archives shows just two mentions of “eminent domain” since 2005, about the time John Cole converted from warmongering Bush hugger to blogging cheerleader/fundraiser for Democrats. There hasn’t been a single mention of the Atlantic Yards, Port Chester, National City, or Montgomery eminent domain outrages, all covered by Reason, and all of which involved governments taking land from poor people to give to wealthy developers. Applying the Balloon Juice fallacy, I hereby declare this silence “suspicious”! And I wonder: Why do John Cole and his Balloon Juice co-bloggers hate poor people?

    I would find John’s silence a whole lot more “suspicious” if his entire raison d’être was focusing on government encroachment into our private lives.

  70. 70
    HyperIon says:

    IIRC the last several times Cole has posted something about Radley Balko, it has been full of praise for RB’s reportage. When did the love affair end? Did i miss a memo?

  71. 71
    Linnaeus says:

    @Jay C:

    Regarding the passage of the Michigan EFM law: wasn’t the Act passed in March (2011) some sort of revision or expansion of existing legislation? IIRC, MI has had some kind of EFM-appointment statute on the books for a while (one which had been very seldom used in the past): but when the Snyder regime took over this year, they revised the law to (I think) remove some level or another of accountability/oversight (?).

    Yes. The original EFM law dates back to around 1990, IIRC, and that law gave EFMs considerable powers over finances (obviously) and also the ability to replace heads of local departments, etc. A few cities in Michigan, like Flint and Pontiac, got EFMs after that law.

    The revised law allows EFMs to do some things they couldn’t do under the previous law. The two main things that folks are focusing on is the power to strip elected officials of their authority (the previous law specifically exempted elected officials from being replaced by EFM) and to unilaterally modify or abrogate collective bargaining agreeements.

  72. 72
    pragmatism says:

    i don’t get the emo libertarian. i can’t reconcile the IGMFU stance with having their baby feelers hurt by mean old words. but as mistress ayn said, i need to check my premises.

  73. 73
    Jay C says:

    BTW, an interesting take on the Benton Harbor situation from a diary at Daily Kos (yeah, I know: ignore the source this time, and check out the facts) – nutshell version: it’s not the simplistic morality fable a lot of bloggers and commenters would like it to be.

    Apparently, Benton Harbor is a municipal basket case: and has been for quite a while – a situation where, apparently, an EFM was truly needed (and the guy in the job now was appointed last year, pre-Snyder).

    Not that makes Eminent-Domain-abusing property grabs right, of course; nor Republican attempts to make said process easier: but Benton Harbor MI may NOT be the “textbook” case; at least not in the way it has been painted in a lot of the blogosphere.

  74. 74
    Nick L says:

    I know it’s unfair to judge a blog by its comments, but Radley’s post had one fella with a great victimization complex:

    Why are libertarians wasting time responding to balloon juice? Their discussions of libertarians are about as rational as stormfront’s discussions of Jews.

    I’m not offended by being compared to a neo-nazi, but I am a bit offended that he/she compared libertarianism to a ethnic group. I guess that’s sort of a common thing. (both sides do it!)

  75. 75
    dollared says:

    @Martin:

    yet we’re supposed to believe that if a little libertarianism is a disaster, and a bunch of libertarianism is a catastrophe, full-on libertarianism will be awesome.

    Too long for a tag line, too short for a novel, and yet it is the exact political philosophy of John Stossel. Not one word more, not one less.

  76. 76
    Nick L says:

    @Jay C:

    Yo, did you actually read that post?

    The sad fact is, Benton Harbor has been in dire straits for over two decades…and because of that, the city itself was party to this golf course thing.

    In 2003 the city was literally on FIRE with race riots.

    […]
    It is not a story about how Rick Snyder is handing public land over to some golf course developer. I wish it were that simple. But it’s not.

    Here’s a sad fact about the Western Michigan Lakeshore…closer to the Lake it’s white and more prosperous, and on the other side of US-31 is African American and significantly less so.

    Muskegon Heights seperated from the lake by a highway: African American people and very little money.

    And I can’t count on my fingers how many public-private partnerships of questionable nature the cities have taken up to save themselves.

    There was nothing in there saying that Benton Harbor was in such a fiscal emergency that the state had destroy its city government – what it described was the epic nature in which Michigan has fucked over its black citizens. And now the Michigan government is doing it again by firing their democratically elected government (as a man said at a Benton Harbor city council meeting yesterday, “How can you just fire the mayor?”)

    I’m not disagreeing with you about the complicated and intractable nature of Benton Harbor’s troubles. And I know that the EFM was put there last year by a Democratic governor. But Snyder took it much further, declaring by fiat that the Benton Harbor government could no longer govern. That’s not a complicated situation – that’s denying people democratic representation. It shouldn’t happen in America.

  77. 77
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    The deep answer is- “John Cole is a poopyhead for asking!”

    You are interfering with the Kumbayah between liberals, neoliberals, libertarians and liberal-tarians, Cole.
    shut up is why.

  78. 78
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @dollared:

    yet we’re supposed to believe that if a little libertarianism is a disaster, and a bunch of libertarianism is a catastrophe, full-on libertarianism will be awesome

    .that is the exact philosophy of ALL libertarians.

  79. 79
    TheColourfield says:

    @John Cole:

    Think that was meant for me John. And I’ll stand by it. He’s particularly obsessed with BJ but I’ve seen him pounce on Edroso as well.

    We can agree to disagree.

  80. 80
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    Liberals…will publicly tear out the intestines of those closest to them at the most politically inopportune times.

    Looks like he hit a hole in one on the Balloon Juice comment section as well.

  81. 81
    Linnaeus says:

    @Nick L:

    I’m not disagreeing with you about the complicated and intractable nature of Benton Harbor’s troubles. And I know that the EFM was put there last year by a Democratic governor. But Snyder took it much further, declaring by fiat that the Benton Harbor government could no longer govern. That’s not a complicated situation – that’s denying people democratic representation. It shouldn’t happen in America.

    Agreed, and this is why I took issue with Muskegon Critic’s diary over at Daily Kos. It’s absolutely true that 1) Benton Harbor has been a community in considerable distress for years and 2) that EFMs aren’t a new thing and that even Democratic governors in Michigan have appointed them (the original law was passed when a Democrat was governor, by the way). What’s new is that EFMs now have powers they didn’t have before and that these powers allow them to cross a line that we typically regard as a very bright line. And that has significant ramifications that we should think about very seriously.

    I appreciate that MC was trying to demonstrate that Benton Harbor isn’t a simple case and that what’s going on there is indicative of processes and actions happening over several decades. He’s right. But even in complex situations, it’s possible to identify specific actions that are or could be detrimental.

  82. 82
    Bob L says:

    So flaming and defensiveness aside the Libertarians have no position on this?

  83. 83
    Rihilism says:

    Wow! Too many good posts to comment on them all.

    @Martin: @Tom Levenson: Comedy Gold!

    @Jay C: Can anyone confirm what I thought I heard on TRMS, namely that the person who actually wrote the Michigan law was/is heavily involved in the golf course (board of directors or something). If so, the use of this “law” in Benton Harbor is just a tad bit more than a coinkidink.

    @Jay C: “textbook”

    Not trying to be snippy, but exactly what is a “textbook case” supposed to look like? The towns affected by this law are the dregs, the towns with deep financial problems stuck in a vicious cycle (poverty, no tax base, mismanagement, crime, unemployment, drugs, ad nauseum).

    Now, I suppose you could find a town populated by sweet old ladies and adorable children who had their life savings and teddy bears pinched by Bernie Madoff, and as a result is slated for mountain-top removal by the local water-polluting and puppy-kicking concern, but that seems unlikely…

  84. 84
    Rihilism says:

    Moderation? Seriously? Have I exceeded my intertubes maximum for smarminess?

  85. 85
    Rihilism says:

    Was it drugs? It was drugs wasn’t it?

  86. 86
    sneezy says:

    “libertarians have been leading the fight against government efforts to take property from low- and middle-income people and hand it over to rich developers”

    I’d love to know what, precisely and in detail, this “leading the fight” consists of (blathering on the internet doesn’t count).

    (My guess: once blathering on the internet is excluded, this “leading the fight” consists of exactly nothing.)

  87. 87
    Rihilism says:

    Here’s the segment from Maddow (if you are one of those people who absolutely despises RM, tough shit, just watch it and come to your own conclusions).

  88. 88
    Marc says:

    Whenever I think of libertarians I think of this Jefferson quote:

    “Of Liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its existence, is unobstructed action according to our will. But Rightful Liberty is within limits drawn around us by the Equal Rights of others. And I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’, because the law is often but the Tyrants-will, and always so when it violates the Rights of an individual.”

    They don’t seem to get the second sentence – never have, and never will.

  89. 89

    @Nick L:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down here:

    Muskegon Heights seperated from the lake by a highway: African American people and very little money.

    Allow me to clarify a major difference between Benton Harbor and Muskegon Heights: Benton Harbor is actually on the lake. Muskegon (proper)- with no small African-American population- is also on the lake, as are its suburbs Norton Shores and North Muskegon.

    I’m not quite sure what the author’s intentions were in making the comparison. No one lives on the lake in Muskegon (proper) or Norton Shores, while there’s private lakeshore property in North Muskegon (separated from the bulk of the metro area by Muskegon Lake), on which are homes of the heirs of local lumber and steel barons. And I see more African-Americans at Pere Marquette Beach (Muskegon) than I see at any other beach on Lake Michigan.

    And here’s the strangest thing about the comparison: African-Americans moved eastward- out of Muskegon, away from Lake Michigan- to Muskegon Heights in the ’60s and 70’s as former residents of The Heights were moving to newer developments in Norton Shores and Roosevelt Park.

    In yesterday’s thread here, I mentioned that the entire lower, industrialized third of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula suffered from the same white ‘burbs vs. black core city phenomenon, and I’ll stand by that, but The Heights has a slightly different story- and one that isn’t really comparable to Benton Harbor’s.

  90. 90

    @Jay C:

    Not that makes Eminent-Domain-abusing property grabs right, of course; nor Republican attempts to make said process easier: but Benton Harbor MI may NOT be the “textbook” case; at least not in the way it has been painted in a lot of the blogosphere.

    I think it is textbook. This shit doesn’t and won’t happen to small, white failing (since the 1920s) communities in the U.P., even though it could- some of those people actually vote Republican as they become ghost towns.

  91. 91
    Jay C says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    Well, to explain a little, by “textbook case”, I meant the simplistic version I’ve seen bouncing around the Intertubes of late – shorthanded as “Hysterical Leftie Blogger” – which boils down to “OMG EVIL RETHUGLICANS TAKING OVER A TOWN TO SELL IT TO THE KOCH BROZ, OMG!!!11!!1!” : a fairly simplistic view, IMO and lacking in any cognizance of the nuances that real-life situations usually come with, as M.C. pointed out in my linked diary.

    This isn’t to say, mind you, that the HLB scenario can’t or won’t ever happen: though I wish I could say I thought it far-fetched and highly unlikely; given that GOP wingnuts in so many Statehouses have ramped up on the loony and seem intent on doing as much damage as they can (in the name of “fiscal responsibility”, of course) I’m no longer so sure.

  92. 92
    Kathy in St. Louis says:

    I love the characterization of whiny geeks trying to be witty for Libertarians. Jeez, some of them are worse than Teabaggers. My former son-in-law and his feeble friends thought one-upping each other on Libertarian principles was the height of party entertainment. It was so agonizingly lame that other guests just left, including my husband and I.

    Most of their “principles” are all about them keeping theirs and tough on you. It’s a movement that will never grow because it’s basically a little to boldly self-absorbed. No nuance whatsoever.

  93. 93

    @Jay C:

    …which boils down to “OMG EVIL RETHUGLICANS TAKING OVER A TOWN TO SELL IT TO THE KOCH BROZ, OMG11” : a fairly simplistic view, IMO and lacking in any cognizance of the nuances that real-life situations usually come with, as M.C. pointed out in my linked diary.

    Yeah, but that IS what’s happening, and it’s been happening for a while.

    Here in Grand Rapids we probably aren’t facing a takeover, at least not by the state, but by the same people who are financing Republican campaigns for our state government: Amway. Our city government created something called the Downtown Development Authority back in the ’90s that handed a lot of power- and tax cuts- to the DeVoses and Van Andels, who have a few big hotels and restaurants downtown- and now they’re working at squeezing a fucking casino in, too. Add to that that they get sweetheart concessions deals at the convention center- exclusive catering rights- and you can see where this is going. (Oh, and the Amway people chased out a MAJOR development opportunity involving a big Hollywood studio about 10 years ago, too, and have been behind ending the tax cuts to film makers in the state, effectively killing that industry’s prospects here for the forseeable future…)

    Had our city government not made these deals with the devil, we might well be facing the same sort of economic troubles, since manufacturing has been effectively outsourced…But, hey, we’ve got relatively neutral accents, so working phone banks for minimum wage is an option…Service industry my ass…

    Anyway…We’ve been trading well-paying manufacturing jobs
    for not-so-well-paying service jobs that give entrenched wealth more power and more wealth. It’s been happening statewide since Reagan. And the message being sent from the GOP in Lansing is that if we don’t submit, we will be crushed by any means necessary.

  94. 94
    les says:

    @Luthe:

    I’ve never understood the libertarian/conservative(?) objection to Kelo; the decision didn’t mandate eminent domain for economic development, it said it should be a local decision, not federal. Isn’t that the “right” answer for libertarians?

  95. 95

    @Jay C:

    Okay, I’m in moderation, but please check back Jay C. I have to go sweat for money.

  96. 96
    Rihilism says:

    @Jay C: From the diary, “But one thing it is NOT is a new concoction of the Snyder administration.”

    Again, it’s my understanding that the guy who introduced the law sat on the non-profit board trying to develop the golf course in Benton Harbor. Coincidence? Possibly, but it really smells funny. It’s not like the scenario, (whereby a developer, who spends years trying to implement a project the locals don’t want, circumvents the locals by getting their buddies in the statehouse to override local law) is unprecedented.

    Also, I’m very disappointed that the 2010 article quoted in the DKos diary (describing the anticipated economic nirvana the town of Benton Harbor would experience with their very own Jack Nicklaus golf resort) provided no link. Who wrote the article (the local Chamber of Commerce, some yokel reporter “reporting” golf board meeting minutes)? What exactly does Benton Harbor get out of the deal? Was there a referendum? How did the majority of Benton Harborers feel about the project? How do they feel about it now? How do the “facts” (this project has “been on the books”, Benton Harbor is a financial mess, this particular emergency manager was appointed by Granholm) change anything? Hell, if anything it seems to confirm the fundamental law of disaster capitalism: “when opportunity knocks…”

    I’m open to persuasion, it’s just that the DKos diary left me with just as many unanswered questions. The tell will probably be whether the emergency manager makes a move on the city park over the objections of the majority of townsfolk. Perhaps the EM will think twice about doing that given the publicity. Then we will be left with just a simple case of belligerent, steam-rolling disenfranchisement as if that weren’t bad enough….

  97. 97
    Jay C says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    No sweat, Andy (joke), I comb Balloon Juice often enough; I’ll wait. But anyway, you’re on the scene, so to speak, so I’ll take your analysis as having a bit more credibility than from someone (like me) here in our decadent enclave on the coast (NYC). Which, despite local economic problems, I can see is an enclave of relative prosperity compared to other places in the nation.

    Anyway, I agree with your analysis, but for one minor edit:

    Anyway…We’ve been trading well-paying manufacturing jobs for not-so-well-paying service jobs that give entrenched wealth more power and more wealth. It’s been happening statewide nationwide since Reagan.

  98. 98

    @Jay C:

    It’s been happening statewide nationwide since Reagan.

    True enough, but up here in the Rust Belt it started earlier.

    We’re number one! Woohoo!

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