Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Caveat About the Election for Libertarians

I know a lot of libertarians are still gaga over Ron Paul—an affliction which I don't understand considering Ron's regular ultra-conservative pronouncements, his inconsistencies, and his close affiliations with some extremely unsavory groups and individuals. People shouldn't forget that he endorsed the so-called Constitution Party in the last election—and they are nothing but a crazy Right party filled with racists, bigots, anti-Semites and theocrats. They openly proclaim they want to impose "God's law" on America.

But when Ron comes teetering out onto stage the saliva glands of some libertarians go into hyperdrive requiring many to attend his meetings with drool bibs securely attached to their Ron Paul shirts, as they wear their Ron Paul hates and cling to their Ron Paul action figure in the rumbled suit.

I personally consider Ron a paleoconservative, little different in policy matters from the odious Pat Buchanan. And some prominent Ron Paul advocates had previously prostituted themselves on behalf of Pat Buchanan. I don't mind people pimping themselves out, but I do criticize their lack of taste.

A lot of libertarian entertain the following utopian fantasy. In their dream Ron Paul will fight valiantly till the end, lose the Republican race, and then turn around and endorse Gary Johnson as the Libertarian Party candidate.

I'm not so sure. The grapevine told me that Gary Johnson went to let Ron know he was running in the Republican primary. This was long before Ron had even indicated a desire to run and was hinting that he wouldn't. Remember Gary had previously supported Ron and was paying a courtesy call, which was not necessary. I'm told that when Gary finished the sentence about running that Paul glared at him and stood up and walked out on him. Gary himself has never said anything negative about Paul, other than that they have some disagreements. Yes, they do. Gary is a libertarian, Paul is paleoconservative and those are some disagreements. Gary has been nothing but a gentleman and spent time praising Paul during his campaign. Paul has pretended that Johnson didn't exist.

While some libertarians think Paul is the messiah, I consider him a crafty politician who has held together a coalition of contradictory views by cleverly phrasing things so that both right-wing statists and conservative leaning libertarians hear what they want to hear. I fear his votes, for the most part, go to social conservatism and not to libertarianism, at least when those issue are up. And his votes on immigration and free trade also lean in the paleoconservative direction even while he spouts libertarian rhetoric. Libertarians have always got the words while paleoconservative got the votes—but that seems to be enough to buy off the libertarians.

The dream vision says Ron will fight to the end and then endorse Gary and that Gary will win a few percentage points pushing the libertarian idea.

I am not sure that Paul will not sabotage that vision. It is possible but I think it the least likely of four scenarios—though all are possible. Here are the possibilities.

1. Ron runs till the end, drops out, and then announces he is running a Libertarian and wants the LP to dump Johnson in favor of himself.

2. He may do this just prior to the LP nominating convention, thus not running to the end, and sucker punches Johnson at the very last second. I think the fund raising is just too damn good for Ron to want to put an end to the money bombs. And, under federal rules, his excess funds can be donated to any nonprofit of his choice and he happens to have a couple under his control.

3. Ron may have it in mind that he can get the VP nomination with Romney. Even the media has noted Ron's lack of criticism of Romney, even while he was dumping on the other Republican candidates. Romney has to pick someone. He can't pick Huntsman, that would look too much like a Mormon take-over. Santorum is far too repulsive and I doubt he wants Gingrich. I don't think he will go for the Blanche or Jane Hudson of the GOP: Bachmann or Palin. But, in spite of his own theocratic tendencies Ron doesn't appeal to the Christian appeal—though he has tried.

4. Ron could just let his true colors out and once again endorse the Constitution Party.

I think it less likely that Ron will graciously endorse Gary Johnson. I don't get that vibe from Ron. All you have to do is ask him a question he wants to avoid—and there are plenty of them—and you'll see how he glares at you and responds. While, I wouldn't care if he endorses Gary or not, I'm not expecting it. Nor am I confident that we want to attract a large number of the fringe right types that are rallying around Ron. But then, the LP seems riddled with them as is, so I'm not sure it would do any additional harm.

I think the sad thing is that Gary Johnson, while clearly the best candidate in this round, is in the unenviable position of having to run as a Libertarian Party candidate. He would be the best candidate the LP has ever offered, perhaps with the exception of Ed Clark, but he is far too good for the vehicle he will be driving. The LP ceased to be a party of principle long ago. It sadly runs neocons and conservatives (like Wayne Root), racists and bigots and crazed conspiracy mongers. The party simple is so desperate for any help that it exercises poor judgment in who it allows into positions of influence. When Birthers, Truthers, and Birchers are welcomed with open arms, then the party has become a political toilet and needs a good flushing. Gary Johnson would just give them more credibility than they possibly deserve.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

God's Own Party Run Amok

South Carolina is one of those bizarre Bible-belt states. Normally it is as bat-shit crazy as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas but it can get nutty. Of course, this is most likely the case with God's Own Party (GOP).

The Lauren County Republican Party has decided to try to get candidates to sign morality pledges straight out of some back-woods tent revival, absent the handling of rattlesnakes. Their pledge was adopted unanimously by the local Republicans who, given the demographics of the country,probably couldn't unanimously spell unanimously. The county has a median family income well below normal. Unemployment is officially over 11%, and 1 in 7 are officially living below the poverty line. Next consider the ability of locals to complete high school. Compare this graph of US dropout rates to the rates in Laurens County.

If we look at the rates for the same years we find that the local yokels in Laurens are far more unlikely to be graduate high school—which means prime hunting territory for the GOP, maybe. You will see that almost 37% of Laurens students, who should have graduated during the 1994-1996 period, dropped out of high school instead. That is just over three times the national average during the same period. One out of ten white males, ages 25-34, didn't even go to high school and have less than a 9th grade education.

Of those who did complete high school 42.5% took the Scholastic Aptitude Test in the year 2000. The average Verbal score in Laurens was 466; it was 505 for the United States as a whole for the same year. The average Math score in Laurens was 436 while the US averaged 514. The county is poorer than the average county in South Carolina and has a higher suicide rate than the state. More people die in the county than are born there and two-thirds of "adherents" there are Southern Baptists.

And, apparently, the local GOP has confused their political party with a Southern Baptist Church. The local GOP executive committee, or 13 of the 20 members, held a secret meeting which lasted 30 minutes and then unanimously adopted a resolution which stated what kind of Republicans they felt should be allowed to run for office. They said that they didn't think any candidate should be allowed who was contrary to the state Republican Party platform. But here is how the local newspaper listed the qualifications "consistent" with the Republican Party:

You must favor, and live up to, abstinence before marriage.

You must be faithful to your spouse. Your spouse cannot be a person of the same gender, and you are not allowed to favor any government action that would ALLOW for civil unions of people of the same sex.

You cannot now, from the moment you sign this pledge, look at pornography.

The local paper was surprised and contacted the State Chairman of the Republican Party, Chad Connelly. Connelly seemed supportive. He said that technically the party can't stop someone from running for office but that the GOP has to be able to vet candidates to see if they "recognize our core values." Core values? The County resolution says that all candidates must present themselves to the Holy Inquisition for questioning, that is a committee from the GOP, "within 24 hours of the closing of the file period," to see if the candidate is qualified. Connelly said this is important "now that the Republican Party is in such a dominant position in state politics and government."

Apparently the purported, though rarely lived-up-to, morality lectures of your typical fundamentalist sect is now the core values of the Republican Party. Barry Goldwater warned what would happen if these religious kooks and preachers got their hands on the Republican Party, but he own party ignored him.

Here is a county, dominated by Republicans, that can't even educate its own young people up to the pathetic levels of the rest of the country. When your school system is below average, and when you consider how bad is the actual average, then you have a real problem on your hands. But Republicans are pushing abstinence not education, and theology not science. These are people who think there is only one book, the Bible, and just as long as you can figure out what the verses say, you are educated. But, at least you would think they would worry about the poverty rates and the high-than-average unemployment in the country.

No, what inspires this Republican Party outfit isn't the horrible way they run their schools or the problems endemic in their county—what worries them is what someone might look at in their free time or whether or not they love someone of the same gender.

This is party that has their head so far stuck up their own ass, that the mistake the shit they are looking at for brains.

Sure, they might get the so-typical fake Southern Baptist wannbe politician who parades his high-haired clueless wife and butt-ugly children before them. Then he'll sneak out to the local rest stop to expose himself to some undercover cop. He'll swear by the Bible that he doesn't look at porn but will beat his children abusively, and later blame the fondling on too much booze. They will promise they don't love another man, and then for good measure try to prove how much they hate immigrants, gays and Muslims. They'll push their moralistic candidates who will get caught in some scandal.

But that's okay. He'll stand in the pulpit with Hollywood-style tears flowing down his cheeks. His numb-faced wife, clutching her Bible will stand silently and dutifully beside him, one step back, with her confused looking children at her side while he cries out, "I have sinned." He'll beg for forgiveness and the congregation, or is it the party, will yell, "Thank you, Jesus," and wave their hands in the air so God can see them. Everybody will have a good cry, pray a little, sing a little, and then return to their poverty stricken homes while the repentant sinner calls his secretary to tell her which hotel he rented for them.

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Charles Koch and His Threat to Libertarianism

This blog has previously defended Charles and David Koch from false allegations. There have simply been half truths told about them. This doesn't mean they are perfect individuals. In fact, they are currently up to something I consider very loathsome. And for that reason we give notice that we shall never bother to defend the Koch brothers again—even when we think the attack is unfair. We will not spread malicious and false accusations, we just won't defend these two men.

Now, to be fair, I think the main issue is Charles Koch, but David is going along with him in this endeavor so I include both of them in my libertarian version of a fatwa—which just means I think people should have nothing to do with these men.

Many years ago Charles Koch asked Ed Crane what sort organization was needed in the libertarian movement. Crane said a think tank that tackled hard policy questions was important. From that the Cato Institute was born. Charles, some years ago, had a hissy fit about something and took his toys and ran. But he remained a shareholder, as did his brother.

There were four shareholders: including the Kochs there was Ed Crane and Bill Niskanen, who recently died. Niskanen's shares went to his wife but Charles Koch has filed a lawsuit in Kansas, far from Cato's main offices, to redistribute Niskanen's shares to all existing stock holders, instead of to his widow, which would effectively mean a hostile takeover of Cato by Koch.

Cato is the largest and most effective libertarian organization in the world. After Charles had his hissy fit and went crying to Kansas, Ed Crane built Cato into a world class orgnization. Charles, who has actually done little but throw his money around, now wants to muscle in and take over Cato. Let me be clear, while I think the Kochs have libertarian sentiments, over conservative ones, they simply don't give a fuck about whole areas of human liberty. Koch is the ultimate "me-libertarian" who views liberty as something important to white, old rich dudes and doesn't care about others. He wouldn't deny other their freedom, he just doesn't care when it is denied to them, except on some academic level which has no real impact. Koch funds groups that help him, and doesn't care whether they help liberty in general. If the issue impacts Koch it gets funding. They throw a lot of money at conservative causes, not libertarian ones. Koch has been rather miserly with donations to genuine libertarian groups and quite generous to anti-liberty conservatives.

Now, let us assume for the sake of argument, that Koch is entirely in the right. What will his lawsuit accomplish? It will mean the effective destruction of Cato. This old fart from Kansas is willing to decimate the most influential libertarian organization in the world because he has a point to prove. This is the height of irrational greed. It is greed because Koch has had it in for Crane for years for whatever slight he felt and is doing this to feel good. It is irrational because he will destroy something he claims to value in order to seek that vengeance.

The end result of Koch's action will be to harm libertarianism in a significant way. I don't give a fuck about his motivation, I know what the result will be. And anyone willing to inflict that much damage on libertarians, for any reason, is not an ally, but an enemy, and a very dangerous one at that. So, libertarian friends, if you "liked" Koch Industries on Facebook, you might want to unlike them.

Libertarianism is strong, but endangered. There is a concerted effort to take the libertarian revival and turn it into something other than libertarian. We see it from the so-called paleolibertarians, that gaggle of bigoted, anarcho-fundamentalists who distort and twist the idea of Ludwig von Mises to try and bolster their right-wing agenda. We see it from conservatives who have flooded libertarianism pushing neoconservative foreign policies and social conservatism, while pretending they are actually libertarian. Certainly Koch has done a lot to fund these latter fakes. Now Charles Koch has gone on the offensive, and offensive describes his actions in every sense of the word. He is now actively working to destroy the most effective libertarian organization in the world. As I see it, that makes him the most potent enemy to libertarianism around. He is trying to do what many far left, and far right, groupls would love to do—take the Cato Institute out of the game. Charles Koch—you suck.

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

That Selfish, Greedy Ayn Rand Does It Again.

We all know what an evil woman Ayn Rand was—all we have to do is read the Internet. AlterNet gives us a two-minute hate period on Rand almost every day. They are obsessed with her. She may be no Emmanuel Goldstein, she was worse. Goldstein was a fictional character, Rand was real, and like Goldstein, her birth name, Rosenbaum, is sufficiently Jewish to give others additional reasons to hate her.

Rand wrote a screed to what she called individualism: The Fountainhead. In that novel her character tells a courtroom that the “mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought.” She also claimed, “No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred.”

Greed and selfishness exudes from every line. Recently, I discovered some lost passages from this speech, sections just as evil as the rest of it. They were perhaps a bit too redundant and edited out for that reason. But Randaphobes everywhere pay heed to the evil she expressed:

I am myself; you are yourself; we are two distinct persons, equal persons. What you are, I am. You are a man, and so am I. God created both, and made us separate beings. I am not by nature bound to you, or you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me, or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legs, or you upon mine. I cannot breathe for you, or you for me; I must breathe for myself, and you for yourself. We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary to our individual existence.

The sentiments are so clearly Randian in nature I’m surprised they sat unobserved for so long. But, now is the time to expose her and her selfish creed of individual rights. So let me make it clear, here and now….

Wait a second.

…Oh, dear, this doesn’t look good. Hold on why I clarify something.

Damn, Google sent me down the wrong path. That quote sounds pretty much vintage Rand—with her awful creed that no man should live for the sake of others. But, apparently someone else wrote it. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less selfish or greedy. No matter who says it, the morality that church and state have been telling us for centuries damns these ideas as rank immorality.

Anyway, it’s unlikely you heard of the author, unless you went to one of those greedy schools where education isn’t free. The author was some old guy, from the days of the Robber Barons. So what else do you expect?

His name was Frederick Douglass and this little tirade about being selfish was in a letter he wrote to Thomas Auld. Auld and Douglass had a difference of opinion. Douglas felt he should be allowed to live for his own sake. Auld felt Douglass should be required to live for the sake of others—in particular for Auld, who legally owned Mr. Douglass, and from whom Douglass escaped to freedom in the North.

Pardon my confusion. They just sounded so much alike. Who knew that Frederick Douglas was so selfish and greedy? Serving others as one's prime purpose in life, is so enriching the blacks of the American South must have been blessed and truly joyous—not a day didn't go by when they didn't live for the sake of others, putting their selfish, egotistical desires last, right up until those horrid Abolitionists got their way and destroyed one of the institution of American life totally dedicated to the service of others.

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