The Ron Paul Question
"Look, Blumert," the lawyer told me. "There's nothing complex here. Ron Paul is a big problem for you people." So I responded:
BLUMERT: You can't imagine how strange that sounds. Ron is a problem only to the moribund political establishment, and their cowardly media. At LewRockwell.com (LRC) we revere Ron Paul and regard him as a modern day Thomas Jefferson. Indeed, Ron's even more principled than Jefferson, and he knows Austrian economics as well.
LAWYER: That's my point. In the past few months, too many articles and blogs at LRC have cast a positive light on Ron Paul, and therefore on his presidential candidacy. LRC, and its parent, the Center for Libertarian Studies, are non-profit entities, and you guys cannot be involved with political campaigns in any way, shape, or form.
BLUMERT: The Center for Libertarian Studies (CLS) was chartered in 1975, and we have never been involved with electoral politics. The same is true for LRC, which has been around since 1999.
Now, Ron Paul has been a champion for freedom for his entire career, and we have been proud to publish his articles and speeches as important libertarian documents. By doing so, we dramatically raised his internet profile. But that doesn't mean we are involved with any political campaign.
LAWYER: The fact remains that Ron Paul is now a real world candidate for president, and you guys are playing with fire every time you publish a positive article about him.
Sure, you might win the argument that you are not political, but you have some powerful enemies, the pro-war crowd, for example. They would love to destroy you, and if they can use the levers of power against you, they will.
And by the way, given the way you are legally structured now, you also can't run articles or blogs that are critical of other candidates. No going after Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Giuliani, Thompson, or McCain.
So here are your choices as I measure them: You can stop publishing articles and blogs on Ron Paul and other candidates (and cross your fingers), or you can shut down LRC immediately. Total closure is what I recommend, and right now.
BLUMERT: Abandon Ron Paul? Never.
Close down LRC? You might as well cut off Lew Rockwell's fingers.
I'll pretend I didn't hear either of your suggestions.
Look, LRC is too important to silence. It has become the most significant libertarian website in the world. Literally thousands of people, from all over the world, have told me that LRC has been key to their intellectual development, and a source of sanity in this Age of the Neocon.
Of course, we also get hatemail; we're "anti-Semites" for opposing endless Mideast wars; we're "traitors" for resisting the omnipotent executive; we're "pro-terrorist" for fighting the police state; we're "mean-spirited" for supporting the free market; we're "conspiracy nuts" for criticizing the Federal Reserve; and we're "anti-American" for working against the empire.
But even our enemies can't stay away; vast numbers of people visit the site every day, to learn, to cheer, or to boo, because this is where it's happening - for everyone dedicated (or opposed) to freedom and peace.
As to Ron Paul, we have some history here. In 1988 I was chairman of Ron's first presidential campaign. Lew has been his friend and associate since 1975, and served as Ron's chief of staff in Congress. We both know him very well, and, like all who know him, think the world of him, as a man of great integrity and as a leader. This is not political; it is supporting the ideas we have loved and promoted for decades.
Of course, it's no coincidence that Ron calls LRC his favorite website. Bail on him? Never. Lew and I have worked all our lives for this moment. And we will keep working.
As Ron himself has said, "More important than the man is the message for liberty." And after today's debates, primaries, and elections, are over, LRC will still be spreading that message.
LAWYER: Okay, okay, Blumert, I get the message. To protect both LRC and CLS, and you and Lew, you only have one prudent course of action. You must spin LRC off from CLS. The good news: CLS will stay as it is. The not-so-good news: donations to LRC will no longer be tax-deductible, though it still can be a non-profit educational effort.
There was a certain surrealism in dealing with this tax attorney; profit vs. non-profit; tax-exempt vs. non-tax-exempt. These are state-created categories, and libertarians should never have to deal with such distinctions. Some libertarian purists refuse to use a state driver's license. Others, on the fringe, don't want to travel a government built roadway. (And after Minneapolis, who can blame them?)
Still, Lew has sufficient challenge six days a week, every week of the year, without some bureaucrat peering over his shoulder determining whether an LRC article falls under regulation A (politically acceptable) or B (politically unacceptable).
So, on June 30, 2007, LRC seceded (an appropriate word for us!) from the Center for Libertarian Studies, which will carry on its scholarly work. LRC, now to become a 501(c)4, will continue as a popular educational endeavor, operating on a not-for-profit basis, but not tax-deductible.
That is, donations to LRC as of July 1, 2007 (Lew's 63rd birthday), are NOT tax-deductible.
Frankly, this worries me very much. (Of course, to know me is to know that everything worries me very much.) Can LRC survive under this new regime? Will people donate to LRC if they no longer can claim a deduction on their taxes? Some people tell me No. Lew says Yes, we can. Frankly, I don't know. What I do know is that our decision is the right one.
Our "Ron Paul Problem" has a price tag. It's going to cost us at least $15K to set-up our new non-profit entity. In addition, since we started suffering with the lawyers, and stopped fundraising given the uncertainty, we have consumed about $30K of our reserves. Then we need about $25,000 to keep going for the rest of the year, and I'd like to restore our reserve so we are not perpetually on the knife-edge. So that is $70,000 in total.
Will you help? You have never failed us. And now LRC needs you more than ever.
I know I don't have to remind you (but I will anyway!) that the neocons are smart, well-organized, and unscrupulous. They seem committed to one bloody war after another: Iraq today; Iran or Syria next; and then maybe China. They control wealthy foundations, powerful mass media, and part of the Bush administration. We have done them damage, so waving bye-bye to LRC as it sank beneath the waves would give them great pleasure.
After all, Lew has been fighting these "big-government conservatives," in one way or another, since the late 1960s. In the old days, they regarded him as a small dog nipping at their heels. Today, they fear him. And they really do want him to disappear. Especially now, thanks to Ron Paul.
In my 78 years, I have never seen a moment like this. The enemy has done serious damage. But their evil influence is vulnerable to a motivated, educated people in revolt, and using the ideas of Mises, Rothbard, and other great libertarians, Ron Paul has jump-started the revolution against all the statists who threaten us. And Lew Rockwell has been laying the groundwork for 40 years, to be ready for just this time.
I believe this is The Moment. Will LRC be able to play its essential role? Or will the neocons be toasting our demise? How I would hate to tell Ron we had to close our doors.
Please help. If you want us to keep fighting, please send your most generous donation. Keep LRC going. We have never needed it more.
PS: We owe it to the great men and women of our past, to Ron, and to the future, to never give in and never give up. Please help Lew keep fighting. How we need him.