I caught a little of the Mark Levin show tonight, and he had a Ron Paul supporter on his show. He gave the gentleman a good deal of time – two segments in fact – and was actually gracious to the caller. The Paul supporter spent most of his time talking about the seminal issue of our day, the one issue that is truly on the mind of every American voter: the drug war.
There are legitimate reasons to oppose the prohibition on drugs. I don’t particularly agree with this philosophy, but it’s not outside the bounds of reasonable discourse. What baffles me is the attention that libertarians pay to what is a fairly minor issue. We are still suffering economically, with an unemployment rate that is hovering at about 8.5 percent, and a real unemployment rate that is significantly higher. Our national debt is out of control. Soon Obamacare will be fully implemented, thus making the debt problem and our health care even worse. Meanwhile, President Obama shrugs off the Constitution like it is some dusty old piece of parchment in making “recess” appointments, and has an Attorney General who continues to obfuscate about a horribly botched gun operation in Mexico. And yet this guy wanted to talk about the drug war.
Sometime ago I once watched a Libertarian convention, and watched speaker after speaker rail about the criminalization of marijuana. I had the same reaction then as I did this evening: this is really the hill you want to die on? Sure, if you want to make this a part of your platform, knock your socks off. But to make this one of the focal points of your outrage against the government? Really?
We all have issues that we care about more deeply than do other people. It just strikes me that libertarians would be better off focusing their attention on matters that are a tad more relevant to people living in the real world.
Jim Manzi, a conservative expert on climate change, recently reviewed Mark Levin’s coverage of the subject in his book Liberty and Tyranny. Mr. Manzi was unimpressed:
I’m not expert on many topics the book addresses, so I flipped to its treatment of a subject that I’ve spent some time studying – global warming – in order to see how it treated a controversy for which I’m at least familiar with the various viewpoints and some of the technical detail.
It was awful. It was so bad that it was like the proverbial clock that chimes 13 times – not only is it obviously wrong, but it is so wrong that it leads you to question every other piece of information it has ever provided.
Levin argues that human-caused global warming is nothing to worry about, and merely an excuse for the Enviro-Statist (capitalization in the original) to seize more power. It reads like a bunch of pasted-together quotes and stories based on some quick Google searches by somebody who knows very little about the topic, and can’t be bothered to learn. After pages devoted to talking about prior global cooling fears, and some ridiculous or cynical comments by advocates for emissions restrictions (and one quote from Richard Lindzen, a very serious climate scientist who disputes the estimated magnitude of the greenhouse effect, but not its existence), he gets to the key question on page 184 (eBook edition):
[D]oes carbon dioxide actually affect temperature levels?
Levin does not attempt to answer this question by making a fundamental argument that proceeds from evidence available for common inspection through a defined line of logic to a scientific view. Instead, he argues from authority by citing experts who believe that the answer to this question is pretty much ‘no’. Who are they? – An associate professor of astrophysics, a geologist and an astronaut.