Thursday, August 23, 2012


I don't like libertarianism -- apologies to that earnest-looking youth I saw in the "Google Ron Paul" shirt while I was away last week, but I think child labor laws and the Pure Food and Drug Act are actually good things, not tyrannical infringements on my liberties. But yes, I can conceive of an America in which libertarianism has a positive influence on our lives. I'd like more discussion of the excesses of the drug war. I'd like us to reconsider the bloated military budget.

But is that the way libertarianism is headed? It doesn't seem that way. It seems to me that the loudest libbies combine the worst of Ron Paul with the worst of Fox News Republicanism.

Take Frank Szabo:
A Republican candidate for Hillsborough County Sheriff said Wednesday that he believes elective abortions are unlawful and he wouldn't reject the use of deadly force to stop them.

... Szabo may have inflamed the issue further when asked if he would use deadly force to prevent an abortion.

"I would respond specifically by saying that if someone is under threat, a full-grown human being, if they're under threat, what should the sheriff do? Everything in their power to prevent them from being harmed," he said.

When pressed about what he would do if he learned that a doctor was about to perform an elective abortion, Szabo replied he would do what it took to prevent that from happening.

"Absolutely," he said. "Well, I would hope that it wouldn't come to that, as with any situation where someone is in danger, but again, specifically talking about elective abortions and late-term abortions, that is an act that needs to be stopped..."
Here's the political philosophy that leads Szabo to believe that this is reasonable, as stated in a guest post he wrote for the right-wing New Hampshire site Granite Grok:
Our government was created by the people, for the people. After the American Revolution, the Citizens became the sovereigns. As Sovereign Citizens, We The People created local and state governments to ensure peace and prosperity. The state governments then created the federal government to further ensure those goals. Nowhere in the formation documents (constitution) is there authority for the creature to direct -- or control -- its master. Also, the federal government was never intended to have any direct contact with Citizens....

Historical documents and court cases confirm that the Sheriff is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the county and has no superior. The Sheriff is elected by the people and is answerable to them alone. No federal or state agency has authority in the county unless the Sheriff permits it. If, in the Sheriff's opinion, a proposed action is unconstitutional, the Sheriff is duty-bound, and authorized, to block it.
(Emphasis in original.)

Here's Szabo in a campaign appearance last month:

... No federal agency can tell the county sheriff what to do. Day One, Sheriff Szabo: every single federal agency will be notified, "You do not come into Hillsborough County unless you come through the office of the county sheriff." And if I determine that it is unlawful, it will not happen. That is the authority of the county sheriff. Anybody here worried about Obamacare? It will not happen if you have a constitutional sheriff. They have that authority. Whether you're talking about the IRS, the ATF -- it doesn't matter. The county sheriff has that authority....
Go here to watch a video of Szabo (a Pennsylvania native) speaking in 2009 at a Tea Party rally in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In that video, he looks forward to something called the Continental Congress 2009, organized by the We the People Foundation. This foundation does believe -- yes, Glenn Greenwald -- that "The Iraq and Afghan wars are NOT authorized as mandated by the Constitution." It also opposes bailouts of big banks and the use of voting machines (hello, Brad Friedman).

But that's not what the group focuses on. That's not what Szabo focuses on. We the People was founded by Robert L. Schultz, a long-time tax protester who argues that the income tax is illegal. The foundation ran a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune in December 2008 arguing that Barack Obama is ineligible to be president because he was born in Kenya. And Szabo, in the video posted above, is identified as a believer in right-wing voter fraud theories. (In the Lancaster video, he talks approvingly of Glenn Beck's 9-12 movement.)

This is what we've got now -- a horrible hybrid of fringe wingnuttery, Fox News wingnuttery, and Paulbot wingnuttery. It takes the worst of all three and downplays or discards the rest.

It's weird to me that libertarians should even be anti-abortion -- you'd think that Ron and Rand Paul would be anomalous in that. But look at Szabo.

Charlie Pierce has more on the "sovereign citizens" notion here. As he says, believers think they can kill people who stand in the way of what they see as their liberties. And that's terrifying.


Victor said...

Uhm, does that mean that in Merry Old England, the Sheriff of Nottingham could overrule the King?

Libertarianism is the philosophy of the 5 year-old only child, pissed-off that Mommy and Daddy don't let him/her do whatever they want to do.
It is egotism written large, pure and simple.
Here's this moron's "tell:"

"And if I determine that it is unlawful, it will not happen. That is the authority of the county sheriff. Anybody here worried about Obamacare? It will not happen if you have a constitutional sheriff. They have that authority. Whether you're talking about the IRS, the ATF -- it doesn't matter. The county sheriff has that authority...."

"I!, I!!, I!!!"

'I don't wanna eat broccoli, broccoli ain't being eaten! That is the authority of the only child!'

Dude, you're the running for Sheriff of some podunk county in of one of the smallest states in the Union!

"Today, Hillsborough County - tomorrow - ZEE VORLD!!! Bwa-ha-ha!"

We sorely need sanity tests for candidates in the future.

Oh, and voters, too!

These assholes don't vote themselves into office alone!!!

Geov Parrish said...

Actually, Hillsborough County is the home of Tampa and has over a million people - it's not small at all. And it's also the largest of the five Florida Counties covered by the Voters Right Act, meaning that due to the county's history of past racial discrimination, the feds are preventing the state of Florida from implementing its racially based purges of the voter rolls there.

No wonder the guy is upset. TYRANNY!!!

Victor said...

Unless I read the article wrong, I believe this moron is running in NH, not FL.

Jeff said...

Victor is correct, it's Hillsborough county in New Hampshire. It has the two most populous cities in NH, Manchester and Nashua, so it's large by NH standards.

Philo Vaihinger said...

"Ah, heavenly Hillsborough!"

10 points if you remember who said that and in what film.

Great movie, too, though the ending was a bit squishy.

Philo Vaihinger said...

As for Szabo, we could get lucky.

He could get elected and then tell all those federal agencies where to get off, just as he says he will.

And then he might disappear.

Perhaps to Gitmo.

Or to some black hole in Uzbekistan, or somewhere.

Swept away in a black helicopter!

Steve M. said...

"Ah, heavenly Hillsborough!"

It's Hornbeck, the Mencken character in Inherit the Wind.

(I was in the play in high school. I practically have it memorized.)

Philo Vaihinger said...

Now that speaks well for both you and your high school.

A memory to be proud of.

BH said...

Indeed! Would that my high school had put on such a play.

The movie ending was squishy, I agree. It has Spencer Tracy's Darrow character (IIRC) getting all Frank Capra with Hornbeck/Mencken over H/M's cynicism about the common people, no? From what I've gathered of Darrow, by the 1920's when this film was set, he was certainly not under-supplied with healthy cynicism on that score himself. And for excellent reasons.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Exactly so.

Still, a fine play and a fine movie, IMHO.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Oh, if you''re interested, there's a book out of Mencken's dispatches during and after the trial.

Would the Baltimore Sun publish such a man today?


Philo Vaihinger said...

That was weird. Sorry.

: smintheus :: said...

Frank Szabo ran in 2008 in the Republican primary for Congress in PA-13. He was a Paulbot in good standing, blathering about liberties lost.

"The upcoming elections are no longer about partisan bickering or D versus R. It is literally about saving the United States of America. The real issues transcend party lines. From the North American Union, National ID Card, out of control Presidential Executive Orders, etc. our supposedly-protected civil liberties and national sovereignty are under attack."