Archive for Libertarians


The American dispirit

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The notion that “we’re all in this together” became popular during World War II as Americans on the home front sacrificed for the war effort. That snippet of information drifted in over the mental transom the other day, perhaps in reference to a video for students produced at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. “We’re All in This Together!” debuted last month. It focuses on how American families and kids “scrapped” and saved dimes to buy war bonds.

As it turns out, there is a recent Monopoly edition based on the theme. Monopoly: America’s WWII: We’re All in This Together features key corner spaces common to all Monopoly versions: Jail, free parking, collect $200 and go to jail, McClatchy reported:

Most of the rest, though, has a WWII theme. The game pieces are an airplane, combat boots, helmet, radio, ship and Sherman tank. Spaces on the board and corresponding deed cards feature significant WWII events. Railroads are replaced with supply routes, and houses and hotels became camps and headquarters.

The “Chance” and “Community Chest” cards are replaced with cards for allies and home front.

Historian Stephen Ambrose described how the war changed the country:

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Campus Crusade for Koch

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While some college students are being introduced to Nietzsche, Freud, and organic chemistry, Charles and David Koch want to introduce them to the Kochification Church, bless their hearts. The Koch Brothers (shouldn’t they just stick to cough drops?) are spending more than ever to “evangelize their gospel of economic freedom” on campuses, reports Al Jazeera.

“The [Koch] network is fully integrated,” Kevin Gentry told the annual Koch network meeting last summer. And not only with students, but also in “building state-based capabilities and election capabilities” into a “talent pipeline.” Sounds as if the cult of Ayn Rand has branched out into multi-level marketing. Oh, glory!

We knew their acolytes have been introducing students to the Randian gospel by bribing colleges endowing chairs in economic departments that will agree to teach “Atlas Shrugged” and instill a philosophy of “wealth maximization.” But as Charles ages, he seems to have redoubled his efforts, hoping to see the fruit of his evangelism in his lifetime.

Have you accepted Ayn Rand as your personal savior?

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Whistling towards Dixie

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A week ago I wrote about a suspected lynching under investigation along the coast in North Carolina. Eerie stuff. Up here in the mountains, we’ve got this Scot-Irish thing happening that defines local attitudes (the kind of thing Sara Robinson has written about for years). But things are hardly static. Inmigration is changing the South. In the wake of Michael Tomasky’s recent “dump Dixie” column, Chris Kromm at the Institute for Southern Studies counters with why that’s a bad idea.

Southern clout is expected to grow with population, he writes. “Southern states are projected to gain another five Congressional seats and Electoral College votes in 2020. Ignoring the South just isn’t an option if Democrats want to be relevant in national politics.”

And the South is not Democrats’ biggest problem. Democrats’ Senate candidates may have lost by an average of 18 points in the South, but they lost by an average of 26 points in the Great Plains. “But for some reason,” Kromm writes, “we’re never treated to post-Election Day screeds from Northern pundits about the Great Plains being a cesspool of ‘prejudice’ and ‘resentment.'”

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Are libertarians the real hippies?

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Photo credit: Paul Townsend via Creative Commons

Photo credit: Paul Townsend via Creative Commons

John Edward Terrell explores “Evolution and the American Myth of the Individual” in today’s New York Times. It’s an interesting read, as much as anything, for the comments section. He contrasts what he knows of Man from his background in anthropology with Enlightenment philosophy as it has spun out over the last couple of centuries:

Philosophers from Aristotle to Hegel have emphasized that human beings are essentially social creatures, that the idea of an isolated individual is a misleading abstraction. So it is not just ironic but instructive that modern evolutionary research, anthropology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience have come down on the side of the philosophers who have argued that the basic unit of human social life is not and never has been the selfish, self-serving individual. Contrary to libertarian and Tea Party rhetoric, evolution has made us a powerfully social species, so much so that the essential precondition of human survival is and always has been the individual plus his or her relationships with others.

Not either/or. Both/and. Terrell argues that Rousseau and others did not mean their speculations about Man’s natural state to be taken literally:

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How’s about a tepid, heaping helping of moderate?

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I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Rev 3:15-16

Sometimes the left just needs to get over itself and quote some King James Bible. Comedian John Fugelsang, for instance, wields scripture with the adroitness of Mackie Messer.

These particular lines from Revelation have hung around like an earworm since Tuesday. After polls closed, the woman ranked the “most moderate” senator, Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, narrowly lost her bid for reelection to North Carolina’s immoderate, Republican Speaker of the House, “Tholl Road Thom” Tillis. Democrats across the country who tried distancing themselves from the president and Obamacare lost as well.

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I have long been wary of the fetish among the business and political classes for efficiency. It’s a frequent rationale for bureaucratic decisions that seem to come at the expense of living, breathing people.

A Good Read

Thomas Frank (“What’s the Matter with Kansas?”) speaks with Barry Lynn at Salon on the reemergence of monopolies in America. Lynn describes how, rather than overturning laws on the books for decades, the Reagan administration changed the way the laws regulating monopolies were enforced.

Yes, that was what was so brilliant about what they did. The Department of Justice establishes guidelines that detail how regulators plan to interpret certain types of laws. So the Reagan people did not aim to change the antimonopoly laws themselves, because that would have sparked a real uproar. Instead they said they planned merely to change the guidelines that determine how the regulators and judiciary are supposed to interpret the law.

The Justice Dept. went from raising its eyebrows in the 1960s at mergers that concentrated a few percent of a market to waving though deals involving 80-90% of it.

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It seems that NC state Sen. Thom Goolsby isn’t the only one lashing out against the NAACP-led Moral Mondays protests in Raleigh against the legislature’s far-right tilt. The Institute for Southern Studies reports:

The John W. Pope Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank based in Raleigh, N.C., has launched a database targeting people who’ve been arrested as part of the Moral Monday nonviolent protests at the state legislature.

When you hear them squeal, you know you’ve hit a soft spot. Civitas is inviting retaliation against protestors, practically inviting extra scrutiny of their voting histories from the Voter Integrity Project in NC. The database includes “each protester’s name, city and county of residence, sex, race, age, arrest date, occupation, employer (and whether it’s in the public, private or nonprofit sector), interest group affiliations, and mugshot.” Writing for Facing South, Sue Sturgis draws a parallel with events of half a century ago.
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Paradise Lost and Unfounded

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Among the standard-issue slurs hurled by the right is that liberals engage in social engineering. That is, liberals want o use government to impose an impractical, unrealistic and costly utopian vision of society on down-to earth, sensible conservatives.

But in North Carolina, it’s conservatives pursuing a libertarian utopia doing the engineering. And since libertarians couldn’t get North Carolina to vote for a government that would do it, they had to buy one. Enter Art Pope, Gov. Pat McCrory’s new budget director.

Pope is, for all intents and purposes, North Carolina’s third, lesser known, Koch brother. In fact, he’s attended the Koch Brothers’ planning summits and considers himself their close ally.

In 2010, Pope’s organizations spent $2.2 million on 22 state legislature races, and won 18 of them. In fact, outside groups backed by Pope accounted for 75 percent of independent spending in those races. In 2012, Pope and his affiliated groups again spent more than $2 million on the election, leading to a Republican supermajority in the General Assembly, and putting McCrory in the governor’s mansion.

If it feels as if you’re no longer in Kansas, maybe it’s because you’re in Art Pope’s North Carolina. Welcome to Oz. (Mind the flying monkeys.)

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Because at this special time of year every all-American kid dreams of being an assassin.

Semiauto handgun? Check. Bushmaster? Check. (Picked it up at Walmart’s everyday low prices.) High-capacity magazines? Check. Silencers? Doh!!

Not to worry, though. The NRA — yes, Wayne LaPierre’s NRA — is hoping to get silencers deregulated as wholesome, kid-friendly, essential firearm accessories. As seen in Newtown! Salon reports:

In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, the gun lobby’s grand strategy rests grotesquely on fake concern for child hearing health. Among the opening shots in the campaign was a feature in the February 2011 issue of Gun World, “Silence is Golden,” penned by the veteran gun writer Jim Dickson. “One only has to look at children in the rest of the world learning to shoot with silencers, protecting their tender young ears, to see what an innocent safety device we are talking about here,” writes Dickson. “To use an overworked propaganda phrase, legalize silencers ‘for the sake of the children.’” [Emphasis Salon’s]

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WTVD: “The Tea Party in Asheville is being criticized for a fundraising raffle for two guns, including one similar to one used in the school shootings in Connecticut.”
“Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper says he’s surprised by the tea party’s timing, when the National Rifle Association took down its Facebook and Twitter accounts after the shooting.

Jane Bilello with the Asheville Tea Party says the fundraiser was planned before the shooting. But she stands by the group’s position that gun control does not work.

The raffle includes an AR15 semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a .22 Magnum pistol.”

Asheville Tea Party and Asheville Tea PAC Board Members’ email addresses:

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