Megan McArdle vs. the rest of the Red Team

McArdle says it’s wrong to use armed force to defy the law. Why is she alone on the Red Team in doing so?

A previous post asked whether any “conservative” pundit or pol had criticized the armed mob that threatened federal officials carrying out a lawful court order in the Bundy Ranch confrontation. The answer to that question is a (qualified) “Yes.” Megan McArdle points out that Bundy was defying the law in the service of a claim to use resources he doesn’t own without paying for them, and that a civilized society depends on the rule that people “not take up arms to pursue their own self-interest against the rest of us.” She goes on to point out how much less tolerance there would be for parallel activities in an urban ghetto rather than in rural Nevada.

Now, Megan is a libertarian rather than a conservative; still, she clearly inhabits the Red side of the political spectrum. But what’s striking to me is that she seems to be unique. The default position on the Red team is that pointing guns at federal officials carrying out lawful court orders is just hunky-dory. The Republican sheriff of Clark County and the Republican governor of Nevada both backed the actions of an armed mob in defiance of the law.

Is there really no elected Republican, or right-leaning thinker or writer other than Megan McArdle, prepared to defend the rule of law? So far, apparently not. [Update: Yes there are. See below.] Unless and until that changes, it’s going to be hard to take seriously calls for “civility.” I’m prepared to stop saying that Republicans are a bunch of thugs and lunatics the moment they stop acting and speaking like a bunch of thugs and lunatics.

P.s. And where the hell are the national law enforcement associations in all this? Doesn’t the Fraternal Order of Police have anything to say about pointing rifles at cops?

A reader points to three more exceptions: all pundits, still no pols. Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review, Gracy Olmstead of The American Conservative (posting at The Federalist), and Glenn Beck (!)

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

12 thoughts on “Megan McArdle vs. the rest of the Red Team”

  1. i refuse to link directly to glenn beck's site but the blaze has an article about the standoff which basically calls bundy out as a deadbeat and a liar. judging by the comments there, his readers are not happy with him.

    1. I'm puzzled by your refusal. The link provided by Mark is to the Tea Party website. It is an article about Beck, with many quotes from Beck. Why would you refuse to read Beck directly, but instead read the Tea Party about Beck? More importantly, why would you refuse to read something written by a person of considerable influence whom you happen to disagree with, even if you think he's a total doofus?

      1. i didn't say i wouldn't read it, indeed i would have had no reason to mention it or be able to summarize the article in my commen had i not read it. i just said i didn't want to link to it. i had no desire to drive traffic to the blaze from this site. the article is easily findable by anyone who is interested in reading it. dr. kleiman is the one who linked to the article on the tea party site, not me. i regret any confusion my phraseology might have caused and hope i have explicated my rationale more clearly now.

  2. This once again demonstrates why the GOP of today is not really conservative, what is more fundamentally conservative than the rule of law.

    1. The rule of law is the one thing that conservatism can never tolerate. Conservatism is based on exactly one premise, which is that "The King can do no wrong". Conservatism has never had any other or further premise, at any time, in any place. The penumbra of impunity always extended from the King to his friends and supporters — but by the grace of the King, which could be withdrawn at any time. The only thing that has changed since Medieval times is the identity of the King. Today the King is a faction rather than an individual. The rest of the dynamic is unchanged. The rule of law is actually an *extremely* recent idea, which has never been put into practice and has not even yet been fully thought through.

  3. The comments on the McArdle piece are just crazy go nuts on a stick.

    Bundy is just like Rosa Parks! What Bundy is doing is OK because Obama refuses to deport all the illegal immigrants! The US govenment has no right to own land!

  4. Cooke, Olmstead, and Beck seem to me to be saying, "Bundy is right, but this is not a good place to make this stand." McArdle is the only one of them who says clearly that Bundy is wrong. That is, I think, a fairly considerable difference.

    1. I think you might change your terminology slightly. Beck isn't saying this isn't a good place to take a stand. Rather, I think, he's saying this isn't the right way to do it. Hence the comparison of Dr. King's success via peaceful resistance.

  5. And here was I thinking that property rights and rule of law were central to libertarianism. Another illusiion shattered. 🙁

    1. Remember, McArdle is basically a libertarian. The rest are (as nearly as I can tell) right-wing authoritarians, or were until that man moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Apparently being a right-wing authoritarian evaporates once a not-right-winger becomes the legal authority.

  6. Glenn Beck, when interviewing Bundy, mentioned that he (Beck) owned land and collected grazing fees on it. I'm reminded of a Daily Show episode in which Jon Stewart observes, "Now that [Fox News personaity] Megyn Kelly has had a baby, she realizes that women should get maternity leave. But Megyn Kelly still has a job, so the unemployed can go f**k themselves."

Comments are closed.