Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Professor Bell-Villada Links Nabokov with Ayn Rand

Gene H. Bell-Villada is a professor of romance languages at Williams College, having earned his doctorate in the field at Harvard.

He's written or edited eleven books, including Art for Art's Sake & Literary Life, a finalist for the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Pianist Who Liked Ayn Rand, a collection of essays and short fiction, including a novella that satirizes the Ayn Rand cult phenomenon.

Bell-Villada's latest book, On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind, returns to Rand, finding parallels between her life and philosophy, and that of Vladimir Nabokov.

Read what Bell-Villada has to say about Rand and Nabokov in this interview.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Libertarian Congressional Candidate Mark Matthew Herd Defends Muslims

Since 9/11, even Libertarians have engaged in lunatic, Islamophobic Muslim-bashing. It is therefore refreshing whenever a Libertarian candidate or party official disavows such blind hatred.

Mark Matthew Herd is running for Congress in California's 33rd C.D. Here's an excerpt of what Herd says about Muslims:

"Charles Kurzman notes in The Missing Martyrs that there are remarkably few Muslim terrorists: less than 1 Muslim in 15,000 has even gone as far as attending a terrorist training camp, let alone engages in terrorism. Muslims have often provided the tips to arrest terrorists, and the intelligence needed to prevent or punish terrorists would undoubtedly be greater in a world where the US government didn't build up so much ill will. That is another sense in which current policy is unintelligent.

"We cannot indulge the ignorant desire to blame anti-American terrorism on a 'hatred of freedom,' '72 virgins,' or other such nonsense. After a suicide truck bomber killed 241 US Marines stationed in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983, President Ronald Reagan wasn't justifying this massacre when he decided to withdraw American troops from the Middle East. He understood that people, all people, hate foreign armies on their soil.

"Unfortunately, his successor, George H.W. Bush, went back into the Middle East to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and his stationing of American troops in Saudi Arabia after that war was specifically cited as the primary reason for Al-Qaida's declaration of jihad against America. Since then, of course, the US military has undertaken attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya. If you were a Middle Eastern Muslim, might you think of some reason to hate Americans other than not liking freedom?

"The best form of anti-terrorism insurance is to remove all troops from the Middle East, stop attempts to either preserve or change their current governments, and end all government-to-government aid."

You can read the above text in full on Herd's website.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Tom Fox Challenges Neoconservatives in 33rd Congressional District Race

Tom Fox is running for Congress in the 33rd C.D. He's a former Democrat turned Independent.

Refreshingly, and unlike the New Agey Marianne Williamson, Fox does not shy away from using harsh terms like Neocon and Neoconservative.

From Fox's website:

"There is no shortage of Neoconservatives, or Neocons, that support American intervention at every turn. There has been support for American troops to invade Iran in order to destroy their nuclear research program. The cry for American military intervention in Syria has been going on for a couple of years now. Most recently, there has been an outcry for the American military to intercede in the Ukraine to stop the Russian advances in that region. There has been criticism for American troops withdrawing from Iraq as well as the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. Looking at the instability of those hot spots, there is no rational reason for us to use our military force. Our involvement won’t be able to bring stability to the region, nor will it promote our national interest of defending our country.

"I came of age in the early 1970's when America was drafting its young men and sending them off to the Vietnam War. At that time, the young of America were very involved in protesting that war because it had a direct impact on us, we were being drafted and forced to go fight a war that didn’t make any sense to many of us. I vividly recall experiencing those, then rights of passage for every young American man: registering for the draft and receiving a draft card on the 18th birthday, and being glued in front of the television set on that evening once a year when the draft lottery numbers were picked that determined, based upon that birth date, the order in which they would be drafted that year. Once drafted, a young man was sent to 8 weeks of basic training and then off to combat....
"Historically, these wars of choice seem to have a pattern and they never end well. In the Vietnam War, the drumbeat for war was advanced by Hawks, the Neocons of the day. The American people were told that an American destroyer had been fired upon in Vietnam's Gulf of Tonkin. That act of aggression became the basis for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that resulted in American’s going to war. After the escalation of that war and sometime during the death of over 58,000 American service members and over 1 million Vietnamese, we later learned that the “attack” never occurred....
"In Iraq, we were told various stories by our leadership; that Saddam Hussein had collaborated with Osama Bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda in the planning and implementation of the September 11 attacks. We were also told that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that he had used on his own countrymen, that he would use on us. We were told that the administration had proof, but it was classified and with that proof withheld from the American people, our country went to war.

"This time, however, Americans were encouraged to carry on their lives insulated from the horrors of war. Television cameras were banned by the administration from chronicling the caskets of our dead service members coming home. Their strategy was simple; keep the American people insulated from the financial, human and emotional costs of the war. The Iraq war lasted for about 9 years and has been the longest war in America's history. 

"While the American people were insulated from the financial realities and the horrors of that war from the outset, they are accountable for them now and those costs now play a major role in our dismal economy....

"We have had a lot of debate about the federal deficit, spending and the allocation of our resources. We have heard from our leaders the wisdom of further tax cuts; future tax increases and for the elimination of Medicare and Social Security as well as the dismantling of our social safety net for our most needy citizens. Yet there is no discussion about one of the fundamental facts is that these wars of choice have added trillions of dollars to out national debt and, in a major way, to our current financial predicament and the plight of our veterans is largely ignored."

You can read this text in full on Fox's website.

Fox is also running against Libertarian Mark Matthew Herd, who also has some positive remarks on his website.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Marianne Williamson, Democrat for Congress

Marianne Williamson is an "Independent" running for Congress in California's 33rd district.

She doesn't hide that she is a "progressive." She is proud of it.

Now, there are good things about progressives, but also much bad, at least from a libertarian perspective. But curiously, I get a sense that many libertarians feel good about Williamson's candidacy.

I specifically choose the word "feel," as opposed to something more cerebral. It's as if some libertarians want to believe in Williamson, much like others want to believe in UFOs.

Williamson does have some appealing factors: 1. She's running as an Independent; 2. She's a political outsider; 3. She's an attractive and charismatic woman.

That last factor, however shallow, is also a biggie. When presented with a politically blank slate (i.e., an independent outsider with no electoral history) -- but a slate that's attractive and charismatic -- then voters are inclined to project their political hopes and fantasies onto that slate.

But Williamson is far more of a Democrat than some libertarians may wish to acknowledge. We know this because Williamson says so.

I received a mailing from "Independent" Marianne Williamson wherein she says:

"I am also a lifelong Democrat, though I'm running for Congress as an Independent. Why? I can assure you it is not because I wish to make war on the Democratic Party. On the contrary, I do so in the hopes of contributing to the restoration of the principles that I've always thought -- and which many of us still believe -- are the party's backbone."

The mailer also says "Join Democrats You Trust in Supporting Marianne Williamson for Congress" and lists some of those people:

* Former Governor Jennifer Granholm.

* Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

* Congressman Keith Ellison.

* "Co-Chair, Obama 2012" Eva Longoria (yes, the actress).

For now, I am undecided as to who I'll vote for in the 33rd C.D. I'm not aware of any Libertarian Party member who has a chance, so, yes, I'll consider voting for a lesser evil. And while Kucinich's endorsement is a positive for Williamson, Ted Lieu's support of SB 980 is a positive in his favor.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Congressional Candidate Ted Lieu Skews Libertarian on Rights of the Accused

California State Senator Ted Lieu (Democrat) is running for Congress, hoping to replace retiring Congressman Henry Waxman.

I won't call Lieu a libertarian. I'm sure he's taken many "progressive" positions I dislike. But he's currently sponsoring a bill that should please libertarians.

According to Gary Walker, writing for The Argonaut (April 2, 2014):

"Lieu's Senate Bill 980 would compel police departments to allow inmate defense teams to conduct DNA testing on biological case evidence and allow courts to act against law enforcement officials who destroy DNA evidence in violation of state code."

I especially like the part I put in boldface. The article continues:

"Law enforcement agencies are currently allowed to destroy biological evidence six months after a conviction, but Lieu's proposal would extend the timeline to a full year. It would also mandate that DNA evidence be run through the FBI's Combined DNA Index System in cases where DNA evidence is found not to match a suspect or inmate.

" 'I think one of the greatest injustices that a government and a society can commit is to wrongly convict an innocent person,' said Lieu, a former Air Force Judge Advocate General prosecutor.

"Since 2000, there have been 244 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States, including eight in California, according to the California Innocence Project, which is co-sponsoring the bill with the Northern California Innocence Project."

You can read the full story here.

I don't know who I'll vote for in June, in California's current Top Two primary system. But Lieu's support of Senate Bill 980 is a consideration. Not just for the issue itself, but because it indicates his willingness to support the rights of the accused, in the interests of truth and justice.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Libertarian Party of California Attracts New Low in Delegate Count

The recently concluded Libertarian Party of California 2014 state convention has attracted a new low in delegate count -- 44 delegates (according to Independent Political Report).

I've previously reported on the declining numbers of delegates attending LPC conventions. Here are the numbers I have. If any are off, please let me know.

2005 ..... 134

2006 ..... 91

2007 ..... 101

2008 ..... 73

2009 ..... 77

2010 ..... 68

2011 ..... 52

2012 ..... 78

2013 ..... 68

2014 ..... 44

I find it noteworthy that while the LPC convention in 2009 and 2014 were both held in Visalia, there was a decline from 77 to 44. 

Ironically, while the LPC's delegate count is declining, its voter registration numbers are up. I suspect many of these new LP registrants are former Republicans who register LP as a protest against an ineffectual GOP that's unable to decrease state spending. Progressives disgusted with Democrats are less likely to re-register as LP.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Daily Show Punks Wayne Allyn Root

I've not been active in the libertarian party or movement lately -- that may or may not change -- so I've not been posting much. Nor have I been interested in libertarian embarrassment Wayne Allyn Root since he quite the LP in 2012.

But I stumbled across this clip from The Daily Show and had to share:
Root will gravitate to any camera or microphone, even in unfriendly (i.e., liberal) territory -- and that's why he ended up with egg on his face. Not because Root is a brave proponent of principles, but because he's a clueless media hog.
How clueless? Judging from his above appearance, it seems he actually thinks he came off well. That he actually made an "excellent point" in suggesting that rich, Republican businessmen are more persecuted in America than are blacks, Hispanics, or Muslims.
We also learn from the above interview that the IRS recently audited Root. I wonder what they found?