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Woolley-headed about Dennis Prager: No mileage for libertarians

By Wayne Lusvardi
web posted December 6, 2004

Miles Woolley, a partially paralyzed Vietnam veteran, has written a woolly column posted at the increasingly leftist libertarian website LewRockwell.com ("Democrats Not Attuned?," Dec. 2, 2004). For anyone who listens to nationally syndicated talk radio show host Dennis Prager on a regular basis, Woolley's diatribe is mostly a non-sequitur. For libertarians Woolley's rant should be an embarrassment, as surely it is for this libertarian.

Woolley's online column is a response to Prager's article in the Nov. 21, 2004 issue of the Miami Herald entitled "Why Democrats are tagged as the party without values" (also posted at Townhall.com Nov. 9). Prager's column is a rejoinder to Arizona Democratic Party Governor Janet Napolitano's question:

“[H]ow did a party that is filled with people with values – and I am a person of values – get tagged as the party without values?”

Woolley states that he voted as a non-partisan for Bush most his adult life but swung into the Democratic fold due to "big oilman Bush" becoming a "warlord.”  A warlord by definition is military leader acting outside of government.  Putting hyperbole aside for the moment, the term warlord would certainly match many other actors on the world stage today, such as Osama bin Laden, but not a U.S. President who must share power with his political opposition. Bush might be criticized by libertarians for his pre-emptive war doctrine and his diversionary rationale for the Iraq War. But he is not a unilateral actor or the warlord over a tribe.  


Woolley takes Prager to task for making a contradictory statement that “the Democratic Party is not representative of the average Democrat’s values than the National Council of Churches is of the average Protestant’s values.”  Woolley asserts that this is a contradiction because political parties by definition are representative of the views of their members. But Woolley’s accusation is itself a non sequitur.  Prager wrote that the Democratic Party does not reflect its mainstream member’s values, not their interests. Ever since Max Weber, we know that a political party resides in the sphere of power, not values, which are more the domain of religion.


Prager’s statement that he is articulating the view of how most Democrats see things is characterized by Woolley as an "over-used generalization." Woolley says Prager’s repeated use of the term “most Americans” is misleading and his article should have been dubbed “How Prager Alone Sees It.” But if you can’t make some generalizations, you can’t have any public discourse; a point made repeatedly by Prager on his radio show.  Prager says he is an ex-Kennedy Democrat who became a Republican when the “party left him.” So in some sense Prager can speak for what he calls the Kennedy Democrats.  


Next, Woolley lambasts Prager for attacking Michael Moore as a “Marxist and a film propagandist who portrays the American military as callous buffoons.”  Woolley writes that Prager can’t prove that Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 film is propaganda or a lie, therefore Prager has told a lie himself.  If Woolley’s allegation isn’t an example of psychological projection, I don’t know what is. Anyone who wants to come to the defense of Michael Moore’s one-sided adolescent movie is himself involved in Orwellian doublespeak. Even antiwar libertarians should be better able to discern Moore’s filmography as nothing but pure propaganda, defined as emphasizing the good points of one's position and t! he bad points of your opponents position.


Woolley writes that “lying seems to be a common characteristic of Bush lovers.”  As a Viet Nam war veteran, Woolley ought to know better.  Is Woolley so politically immature as to be unable to distinguish between lying and political speech during wartime?  As George Friedman points out in his book America's Secret War (2004), Bush’s retincence about the larger geopolitical strategy of the war to encircle the terrorist states of Iran, Syria, and Pakistan, is to avoid a larger war with all of Islam and to avoid direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia, who was complicit in 9/11, from continuing to fund and support terrorists.  Or does Woolley not know the difference between a wartime diversion! and a lie? Has Woolley never heard of Plato’s concept of a “noble lie?”  By now most Americans know that WMD’s, democratization, or the removal of the tyrant Saddam are not the real reasons for the war. Surely, Prager can be taken to task for being a true believer about Bush’s stated reasons for the war. But unfortunately, Woolley merely emotes rather than challenges Prager on this key issue.  Parenthetically, Prager has repeatedly said on his radio program that the Iraq War may be moral (as to removing a dictator), but history will prove whether it was wise.  


Woolley proceeds to criticize Prager for naming Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as “race- bating demogogues.”  Woolley says they are heroes to the Democratic Party.  This is certainly a strange position for a libertarian to take, since Jackson and Sharpton value racial groups over the individual. 


In another non sequitur, Woolley lambasts Prager as being concerned about unimportant issues such as the California Democratic Party’s sanctioning of cross-dressing and multiculturalism while Americans murder Iraqis.  But if the war is so important, Woolley doesn’t say why the Democratic Party is so worried about rights for cross dressers?  And again, when did libertarians embrace multiculturalism over the value of the individual? 


Prager’s moralizing about the Democratic Party’s use of obscenity at its major fund raisers and contemptuous trips to Cuba by leftist Hollywood stars are also singled out by Woolley as unimportant compared to sexual humiliation of prisoners at abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the carnage of the war on the TV.  Again, when did libertarians embrace Castro’s Cuba as a model of liberty?  Prager comes across as more of a libertarian than Woolley when he says that obscenity should be restricted to R-rated films or a Las Vegas comedy act, not public meetings attended by c! andidates for president of the United States. Libertarians are typically for the freedom to do things on private property or in the privacy of one's own home without government intrusion or censure. But Democratic Party fund raisers broadcast on TV are in the public, not private, domain.  Woolley does make a point however that the Republican’s exploitation of the Monica Lewinsky scandal during the Clinton presidency could also be seen as obscene.


Prager’s elevating of the American military as heroic and more important to safeguarding freedom that the ACLU, U.N., or some university (all Democratic-dominated institutions), also draws Woolley’s ire. Prager denounces the Democratic Party for viewing the military as a necessary evil.  Woolley retorts that as a war veteran and Democratic Party member, the military is a necessary evil.  It doesn’t follow, however, that the military is necessarily always evil as Woolley insinuates. The right to bear arms and self defense is a fundamental libertarian principle, not a necessary evil. .     


Woolley chides Prager's criticism of the Democratic Party doctrine “make love, not war” by retorting that this philosophy was uttered by another liberal who promoted love over violence; namely Jesus Christ. Woolley goes so far as to unequivocally state that “Jesus, was in all likelihood a registered Democrat, Himself.”  Sidestepping the religious idolatry issue raised by such a ludicrous statement, is Woolley talking about the same Democratic Party that initially got us involved in Viet Nam, lied about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and escalated the number of troops to 500,000?  


Woolley accusation that Prager plays the gay card by advocating traditional marriage is a canard.  Woolley defends activist Democratic judges rather than pointing out that libertarians traditionally have wanted the state to get out of sanctioning marriage. In any event, both Woolley and Prager are unaware that the whole same-sex marriage issue has less to do with morality or discrimination and more to do with whether gays have the right to pass their social security survivor benefits along to their partners whenever social security is "privatized."


Woolley is aghast at Prager’s views on abortion as immoral when Bush is murdering over 100,000 innocent Iraqis.  Leaving aside the contentious issue of abortion, Woolley’s 100,000 Iraqi casualty figure is wildly inflated. Even the independent non-profit Iraq Body County Project run by peace educators has estimated civilian casualties from 14,272 to 16,405 before the Fallujah battle, and this likely includes many civilians who have died as a result of the actions of the insurgents.  


Woolley has missed a golden opportunity to enter into a dialogue with Prager about the wisdom of the libertarian approach to the Iraq War and a host of other issues. Instead what we get is a highly emotional and woolly-headed invective that embraces leftist positions that are the furthest from libertarianism. 


John Stuart Mill was quoted as saying that “Conservatives…(were) by the law of existence the stupidest party.”  Dennis Prager has repeatedly stated on his radio program that Republicans are the stupid party, and the Democrats are the dangerous party.  Woolley's column is both dumb and dangerous, in that he can not discern the difference between libertarianism and Leftism. 

Wayne C. Lusvardi is a Vietnam War veteran in Pasadena, California. He served with the 25th Infantry Division in Cu Chi in 1968. He has been published in the Orange County Register, Privatization Watch (Reason Public Policy Institute), Public Utilities Fortnightly, and the USC Online Journal of Planning and Markets. He is active in the California Libertarian Party. The views expressed are his own. Contact him at wlusvardi@yahoo.com.

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