Tom Palmer Throws Down The Gauntlet

Tom Palmer, one of my intellectual heroes, throws down the gauntlet in his defense of David Boaz from dishonest smears posted on Lew Rockwell's blog by Walter Block and Tom DiLorenzo.

I still agree with the general thrust of Bryan Caplan's foundational essay, Purges and Schisms, though I might quibble with some of his arguments regarding marketing. When two or more sellers offer the same or similar ideological products, sharing the same name, they are in a sense fighting a zero-sum reputational game for the ownership of that label - what that label represents in the public's mind. So there is good reason to fight over what one believes to be the "best" version of libertarianism and the best way to communicate that vision.

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You mean to say that when

You mean to say that when someone expresses nostalgia for an earlier time, they don't necessarily mean to say that that past moment represents their political and social ideal in every respect? That they might have a more nuanced intention which it would be obtuse to mistake? You don't say! Next on the agenda: taking the plank out of one's own eye.

Boaz was specific about

Boaz was specific about which aspects of government policy he was (relatively) nostalgic for. Was Glenn Beck specific? O'Reilly? Buchanan? Or did they just express a general sense of nostalgia and generic fear of social change?

False dichotomy. Was Glenn

False dichotomy.

Was Glenn Beck specific? O'Reilly? Buchanan? Or did they just express a general sense of nostalgia and generic fear of social change?

You're comparing what Boaz did (be specific) with what you claim Beck felt (generic fear of social change). That's apples and oranges. You're doing this by a trick: "express ... generic fear", supposedly describing what Beck did (express), but the real content of your description concerns what Beck supposedly felt (generically fear social change). You're surreptitiously slipping in your own (unlikely) interpretation, your own mind-reading, into the description.

The real contrast is simply that Boaz was explicit and that Beck was not explicit, and you, being hostile, were happy imbue Beck with a stupid meaning. It's a cheap shot and a meaningless one, and you took it. Or rather, you endorsed a comedy show taking it. Comedians, they have some license to misinterpret other people. It can be very funny. You've doubtless seen clips of "unnecessary censorship", which by strategic bleeping makes innocent remarks sound dirty. Misinterpretation is fair game within comedy. But outside comedy, in a serious argument, misinterpretation is straw man and straw man is a waste of everybody's time.

The real contrast is simply

The real contrast is simply that Boaz was explicit and that Beck was not explicit, and you, being hostile, were happy imbue Beck with a stupid meaning.

You've admitted that you've never watched Beck. I have. He takes great joy in saying stupid shit, reveling in his own stupidity. He is a performer, and has admitted as much.

But the contrast you highlight is a real and important one. I don't necessarily have any problem with explicit forms of nostalgia, depending on the topic. It's the implicit, generic conservative nostalgia for the past and fear of social change which I object to here.

And since when does every blog post here have to rise to the level of academic-journal seriousness (and even that's a bad analogy, as even the driest journals often publish humorous comments and parodies).

He takes great joy in saying

He takes great joy in saying stupid shit, reveling in his own stupidity. He is a performer, and has admitted as much.

If you think so then you as good as admit that treating Beck as if he were an exemplar of conservatism is silly. As I said: Beck was cherry-picked. Similarly O'Reilly - conservatives hate him and say he's no conservative. Buchanan is a strange case. I've always considered him a poor example of a conservative. So to generalize from these three men to all of conservatism - it's just stupid.

Meanwhile I don't believe you've made a genuine attempt at understanding Beck. No, I have not watched more than a few minutes of Beck, but I watched the clip, and I didn't interpret him as wanting a past that never was.

If you think the Daily Show is misinterpreting Beck, O'Reilly, or Buchanan or in any way taking them out of context, please do provide the relevant context.

And how exactly am I supposed to do that? I see some severely edited clips embedded in another clip. How am I supposed to retrieve the relevant context?

I know that the interpretation is stupid not because I know the specific content, but because I know conservatism. I know the flavors of conservatism. And they are not generic nostalgia. That is not what they're made of. Any more than progressivism is generic progress. Conservatives will talk about conserving and progressives will talk about progress. They talk in a generic way about it. Both progressives and conservatives will use generic language. A progressive will indeed at points talk about "social progress", "social justice", and so on, very generic ways of speaking. But since I know progressivism as well as I know conservatism, I know that progressives have very specific directions of progress in mind, and not others. It is simply understood, left unstated but not left inchoate, left inexplicit but nevertheless tacitly specified, that progressives mean a specific thing by "progress", and similarly for conservatives. In neither case is it generic. Both of these names - conservatism and progressivism - are, then, not what a simple-minded application of their dictionary definitions might lead you to believe. There are different flavors of conservatism but Glenn Beck, so I've heard, is highly libertarian. Well, I can tell you some things about the US that are less libertarian today than they were in 1980.

Well, I can tell you some

Well, I can tell you some things about the US that are less libertarian today than they were in 1980.

I'm not sure why you think this is relevant. If citing three well known conservative pundits is too anecdotal for you, then certainly citing a handful of things about the US that are less libertarian today than they were in 1980 would fail the same test, wouldn't it?

Early on I pointed out that

Early on I pointed out that democracy can be expected to become less libertarian over time, and I find this confirmed in my experience of the actual thirty years between '80 and now, though I would be hard put to summarize thirty years of watching the government. So the point that we are worse off now than we were 30 years ago from a libertarian standpoint strikes me as being too obvious to bother mentioning. That Beck bothered to belabor the utterly obvious I suppose could count against him. But as you demonstrate by example, some people are unaware and do need to have it pointed out. Though as you also demonstrate, it is a wasted effort.

So the point that we are

So the point that we are worse off now than we were 30 years ago from a libertarian standpoint strikes me as being too obvious to bother mentioning.

This is not the same claim as the one you made earlier, that "some things about the US that are less libertarian today than they were in 1980."

"Some things" being less libertarian does not mean "overall, on net, things are worse off now from a libertarian standpoint."

Zero-sum contests are wasteful

When two or more sellers offer the same or similar ideological products, sharing the same name, they are in a sense fighting a zero-sum reputational game for the ownership of that label - what that label represents in the public's mind. So there is good reason to fight over what one believes to be the "best" version of libertarianism and the best way to communicate that vision.

If it's zero-sum, then from a broader perspective it's bad reason to fight.

True, zero-sum games are

True, zero-sum games are wasteful, but nevertheless sometimes necessary. Consider Coke and Pepsi advertising their products to each get a larger share of the soda market (assume that the size of market for soda is fixed and that the only effect of advertising is to get Coke drinkers to switch to Pepsi or Pepsi drinkers to switch to Coke.) This kind of advertising is a form of rent seeking - it is not producing new value but merely redistributing existing value from one owner to another. And yet it is still in both Coke and Pepsi's interest to engage in this form of advertising. And, arguably, in consumers' interest as well.

This merely reflects the

This merely reflects the fact that people value brand. It's possible for any player to stop advertising and produce a cheaper soda instead, and some firms do just that.

Isn't it NOT in either Coke

Isn't it NOT in either Coke or Pepsi's interest to engage in advertising? I mean, if they could agree that neither would advertise, wouldn't both be better off? I've always thought it was just the nature of oligopolistic markets that makes such agreements unstable, so even though advertising is in neither of their interests, they have to.

Yeah, the difficulty of

Yeah, the difficulty of collusion makes such an agreement unlikely. So, to extend the analogy back to the original topic, if different branches of libertarianism could agree to a mutual armistice, there would be less dead-weight loss, but once one branch starts up a reputational war, it's in the interests of the others to respond with tit-for-tat.

So what is it about Caplan's

So what is it about Caplan's "foundational" essay you agree with again?

Tom Palmer

"Tom Palmer, one of my intellectual heroes ..."

Yeah, well I think he is someone who goes out of his way to be intellectually dishonest in smearing others as racists.

[citation needed]

[citation needed]

Tom Palmer's Witch Hunts

Come on. I'm sure you are well aware of Tom Palmer's witch hunts regarding Mises.org, and LRC. I think, for example, that Gary North is a religious nut job who hates gays. That doesn't mean that everyone associated with it does, and yet Palmer tries to paint both organizations as if they were the KKK. Despite the fact that there are homosexuals who post on both.

I think that DiLorenzo has made a good case that Lincoln was a racist and mainly motivated in pursuing the Civil War based on tariffs. He could be wrong but there is a lot of hard evidence in that direction and he makes his case. Instead of accepting such arguments at face value Palmer uses this to paint the site as racist.

I take it a different way because of the other articles I've seen there. Like Ron Paul some of them are hyper isolationists, and extremely anti-war. For example, one article uncharitably compared the insurance paid to our soldiers with the rewards paid by Saudi Arabia to suicide bombers who target civilians. Others articles blame the US for the attack on Pearl Harbor, because we blockaded Japan (ignoring Japan's invasion of China).

Palmer is also on a crusade against antiwar.com so maybe he makes the same mistake there, although I have not been to that site.

I just take it as being in large part about their anti-US government stance. Lincoln wasn't exactly Gandhi. In fact he was one of our most murderous of presidents. If Bush is considered evil for the side effects of precise bombings, well Lincoln went out of his way to cause civilian casualties, and total destruction.

Palmer was also accusing them of being anti-semites when a hell of a lot of them were Jews, and spreading the ideas of Jewish thinkers. Funny that a bunch of anti-semites would set up a site promoting a Jew.

Plus the whole idea that one person must be guilty of some thought crime just because he blogs, or writes and article where another does is ridiculous, and Charles Johnson crazy.

You are all for polyamory and I don't think a single other person here is.

Guilt by Association

Also, I saw quite a few creationist articles at LRC and even got into some arguments about it in their comments. I don't however assume that every person associated with LRC and Mises is a creationist. Probably Lew is but that doesn't mean everyone is and I don't think the main purpose of that site is creationism.

Note that I don't at all mind criticism of individuals for what they say, but I do mind attempts at guilt by association.

Great.

The perennial Cato vs. Mises, Rockwell vs. Palmer, Beltway 'libertarian' vs. paleo merry-go-around. A pox on both their movementarian houses.

In Cato's defense, Palmer

In Cato's defense, Palmer seems to be the only one who reciprocates.

And in Palmer's defense, he

And in Palmer's defense, he doesn't tend to make shit up, misquote his opponents, take them out of context, nor grant them as little interpretive charity as possible. And barring his most recent post, which is an exception to the general rule and which disappointed me, Palmer generally links directly to the LRC posts he criticizes, whereas LRC does not observe this basic form of blog etiquette.

Uh

Actually Palmer *does* make shit up and misquote his opponents.

Including in the very same post you link to. He attributed words to DiLorenzo that DiLorenzo never uttered, regarding Boaz's PC opposition to the Mississippi flag. And in so doing he both altered the plain meaning of DiLorenzo's critique of Boaz and made it appear as if DiLorenzo had attacked Boaz unfairly.

Doubt me? Go look at Palmer's screed and compare what he quotes DiLorenzo saying to what DiLorenzo actually said. Pay particular attention to the important qualifier word "all."

And yes, Palmer *does* make up similar shit like this all the time.

Of Course, in the case of

Of Course, in the case of the one you reference as disappointing, Palmer linked to a screenshot of Rockwell's post, which he has done in the past. I think that's because they change their posts after they're exposed. So you could read what Rockwell actually wrote. That's an honest approach, certainly far more so than misquoting someone and not providing any link or any evidence at all. (And does anyone with any interest not know how to find Rockwell's site?)

That may be a good reason

That may be a good reason for Palmer to include a screenshot of the original post along with his comment, but not a good reason to exclude a link directly to the original post as well. It's not like HTML hyperlinks are a scare resource. If anything, providing both a link and a screenshot would help his case, for if LRC tried to change their original content after publishing, it would be even more obvious to all inlookers.

I find something of a double standard...

...at play in Palmer's screencap and linking antics.

Palmer routinely blasts lewrockwell.com for many things he is guilty of himself. He attacks them for not allowing comments on their blog, even though he heavily censors the comments section on his own blog (well within his property rights, but not exactly a consistent or ethical to do when you criticize somebody else for it). He is also not above editing old posts, and especially materials in the comments section that disprove his arguments make his positions look bad. He usually does it by labeling the deleted comment a "troll," but he uses this term very liberally and deletes stuff that is 100% factual and stated in a reasonably civil manner.

In another recent episode, Palmer attacked Stephen Kinsella, the editor of the Mises Institute blog (which does allow open comments), after an anonymous troll posted a vulgar references to his sexual orientation. Kinsella had no control over the troll and deleted the inappropriate posts, but Palmer posted screencaps of them anyway and attacked Kinsella for sending them "down the memory hole."

You simply can't use double standards like that and claim the ethical high ground.

The Mises Blog allows open comments?

I have to disagree with you there.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070103163931/www.no-treason.com/archives/2005/02/07/an-historic-moment-at-the-mises-blog/

Of course there's a simpler test

Just go to the Mises Institute Blog itself.

http://blog.mises.org/archives/011520.asp#comments

They do moderate the place to the effect of removing vulgarity and trolling (which Palmer both blames them for allowing and chastises them for "sending down the memory hole" when they remove it).

Of course you can also technically post comments over at Palmer land...but it gives you a little message in return:

"Your comment is awaiting moderation."

You didn't read the post I linked.

I've been banned from commenting there. See what for.

I read it

And I also respect their right to chose who posts there for whatever reason they desire. It's called private property - look it up.

Mr. Palmer has the same property rights over his blog, and he does indeed exercise them. He also imposes greater restrictions on the generic poster than does Mises, which generally allows posts to be made by any user who fills out the form and then screens them in retrospect. Palmer requires them to be moderated by himself first.

My issue is not with that though. It is with Palmer's hypocritical tendency to chastise Mises for their exercise of private property rights on their blog when he is guilty of many of the same things including censorship, editing posts, banning people without provocation for simply besting him in a discussion, and sending things he doesn't want seen "down the memory hole."

Sure, it's private property...

...it's just not "open comments" when you ban people for offering arguments you don't want to hear. If hypocrisy interests you I'm sure you took note of the way Kinsella conducted himself on my blog in the thread you read.

Right?

Still

it's more open than anything you will ever find on the Palmer blog. And last I checked, Palmer was the one who routinely accuses the Mises crowd of censoring their blog and sending stuff they don't like "down the memory hole." That makes the hypocrisy his.

Private property

If you're concerned about private property, does it make any impression on you to see legal scholar Stephan Kinsella do something like this:

http://web.archive.org/web/20070115062043/www.no-treason.com/archives/2006/09/18/no-insult-intended/

There you will see Kinsella, having been unequivocally reminded on 9/18/06 that I did not allow posting under multiple nyms, continue to troll my blog under multiple nyms. For instance on 9/23/06 he posted:

"I fucked my sister. But only because my mom wanted to watch."

and signed the comment as "John T. Kennedy" - me.

Is the way Stephan Kinsella treats private property making any impression on you at all?

Last I checked...

...the title of this posting was about some things that Tom Palmer claimed on his blog the other day - not what Stephen Kinsella supposedly said about you years ago on a site that no longer even exists.

In addressing the subject of this posting - what Tom Palmer said on his blog - I pointed out that Palmer was being both dishonest and hypocritical, and provided evidence of such

That evidence has not been refuted.

I was fairly certain...

...Kinsella's behavior would be of no interest to you. Good luck going after that double-standard thing.

Why should an attempt to change the subject...

...away from the embarrassing and dishonest behavior of Mr. Palmer be of interest to me?

Note that I have said nothing condoning Mr. Kinsella's alleged behavior towards you some four years ago. I simply do not see how it has any bearing on the present topic of Mr. Palmer's behavior a few days ago, except if it is being offered to provide a distraction away from Palmer.

So I reiterate: I pointed out that Palmer was being both dishonest and hypocritical, and provided evidence of such

That evidence has not been refuted.

Palmer is a Liar

Palmer also routinely lies about items supposedly being "censored" by Rockwell. Witness this post, where Palmer does one of his screencap rants about a lewrockwell.com blog that he claims "Magically Disappeared!"

Yet if you go over to lewrockwell.com, the post he is referring to is still there, intact as ever.

Palmer simply lied. And his lie has sat there uncorrected for over 4 months now, even though somebody pointed it out to him in the comments section the very next day.

Anonymous troll? Hmmm...

Francisco writes:

"In another recent episode, Palmer attacked Stephen Kinsella, the editor of the Mises Institute blog (which does allow open comments), after an anonymous troll posted a vulgar references to his sexual orientation. Kinsella had no control over the troll and deleted the inappropriate posts, but Palmer posted screencaps of them anyway and attacked Kinsella for sending them "down the memory hole.""

----

Are you *sure* Kinsella had no control over the troll? Because that's very much the kind of comment Kinsella himself has posted on my blog while attempting to conceal his identity. My best guess would be that Kinsella himself was the anonymous troll you're talking about - the behavior is entirely consistent with his net history.

What I find strikingly curious...

...about Mr. Palmer's little episode is his readiness to attribute malice, deception, and willful misrepresentation to his adversaries when he is guilty of the very same. The post you link to is illustrative.

Palmer chastises DiLorenzo and Block for critiquing Boaz's somewhat jestful affinity for the Clinton years. The next day he similarly attacked Rockwell for making similar inferences about Ed Crane's recent comments on Ben Bernanke. In both cases, Palmer was outright petty, delving into drawn out rants over small-minded matters of semantics.

Curiously, Palmer himself was simultaneously guilty of the VERY SAME OFFENSE he alleged, but in a far more glaring and consequential way. He battered DiLorenzo around for allegedly suggesting that Boaz had capitulated to PC-driven demands that the confederate flag be removed from "all public places," specifically emphasizing the word "all" as in "all places open to the public."

The problem? DiLorenzo never used the qualifier "all," and only accused Boaz of advocating PC flag removal from "public places," which Boaz most certainly did. Palmer simply made up an assertion otherwise and used it to attack and patently misrepresent his adversary...only paragraphs after he accused the very same adversary of a similar act of misrepresentation.

That's what happens when you allow years of built up anger and malice to blind you to reality. You become like Palmer and begin making things up without even realize it, simply because in all your hatred you think that the person you hate is the "bad guy" and therefore must necessarily be wrong, even when he is not. And that is why I consider people like Palmer a net detriment to the libertarian movement, their self-published collections of op-eds repackaged as "scholarship" notwithstanding.

Ok...

I'm not that familiar with Tom Palmer but I can sense that he has a great personality since you label him as one of your intellectual heroes. I'm gonna have to read his defense of David Boaz before I can say something based from my own opinion. So even though I don't really understand a thing about this post, I want to find out more so I'm gonna have to do some research right now.