Showing posts from 2016

Pain, Elections, Social Media, and The Blahs

By November 7, 2016, a swollen spinal cord was making it nearly impossible for me to sit, walk, drive, or even rest. The next morning, my wife managed to get me to the urgent care center at our physician's office. His staff called in the doctor, who sent me off to the emergency room.

Election day was spent with morphine, Percocet, an MRI, and a really bad reaction to the mix of painkillers and pain. My wife still stopped by the polling station on the way home from the ER that afternoon and we both voted. It was the most painful election ever.

Worse than the election has been the days following.

This is my own fault. I've been stuck in bed, on painkillers. Unable to type on my laptop, unable to sit and read for any sustained period of time, I have been consuming social media.

Normally, I would have been outside during the daylight hours (four more decorative grasses to plant) and watching movies for my MFA classes. Instead, my semi-lucid moments were spent reading the p…

Reaction to Hillary Clinton’s loss exposed the impotent elitism of liberalism

Donald Trump in February 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) You vowed to leave if Donald Trump won the White House. Leave. Please. Go. Be gone with you and all of your snobbery, your condescension, your identity politics.

The rest of us have work to do!

People from marginalized communities cannot pick up and leave the United States. And where would they go? Where would you go? France, where head coverings are banned? Germany, where anti-Semites are out in public again? Where is this mythical better place?

A progressive friend posted that people struggling should move from places like Youngstown, Ohio, or rural West Virginia. Let me understand how that works. You have no money. You lost your job, might be on public assistance, have minimal technical skills.... Surely you can move to an expensive city with no problem.

No. Most of us have to stick around. We have to gather up our resistance to a Pres. Trump and develop a more coherent strategy to salvange what moderates exist in two politica…

The End of Identity Liberalism - The New York Times

When you group people and make everything about race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and a checklist of other "differences" you are also creating and reinforcing the "Working-Class White Male Christian" grouping. That really is not helpful.

Even a few of the New York Times' writers are starting to understand this. Create groups at your own peril, progressives. You might find it doesn't help create a national identity or unity.
The End of Identity Liberalism - The New York Times:   By MARK LILLA — NOV. 18, 2016 The whitelash thesis is convenient because it absolves liberals of not recognizing how their own obsession with diversity has encouraged white, rural, religious Americans to think of themselves as a disadvantaged group whose identity is being threatened or ignored. Such people are not actually reacting against the reality of our diverse America (they tend, after all, to live in homogeneous areas of the country). But they are reacting against the…

Standing Up to the President-Elect

English: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Republicans in the House and Senate, especially the leadership of the GOP, must at least symbolically reject the president-elects choices for his inner circle of advisors. Though some of these posts do not require Senate confirmation, the Senate should and must demand that Donald Trump remove some members of his transition team and his "kitchen cabinet" of conspiracy nuts.

I never imagined as a libertarian that my worst nightmare might be a Republican president. The following individuals should be nowhere near the White House: Stephen K. Bannon and Frank Gaffney. This should not be open to debate. The Senate should refuse to confirm any cabinet secretary until these two men are shown the door.

Yes, I understand that Bannon and Roger Ailes advised and helped control Trump during the campaign. I don't care. These are not the sorts of people with whom the GOP should be associated.

The GOP - Stuck in the Middle

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students from the Kansas University School of Business (Photo credit: Wikipedia) "A review of the 20 richest Americans, as listed by Forbes Magazine, found that 60 percent affiliate with the Democratic Party, including the top three individuals: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison. Among the richest families, the Democratic advantage rises even higher, to 75 percent."

Just think about that and the paradox of the top of the top (the 0.1%) typically voting for and sometimes running for office as Democrats (FDR, JFK). The GOP holds the $75,000 to $187,000 range and starts to lose ground quickly at $200,000 -- the same line that marks most people with graduate or professional degrees.

The Democrats have been, since about 1948, the party of the elites and the poor. The GOP has had a narrow window of voters in the white, high-school graduate and non-elite university bachelor's degree holder categories.

It's al…

Election 2016 Thoughts

The election is over, thank goodness.
I see social media posts suggesting we "relax" - but that's not what anyone should do, no matter who is in office. Both parties need vigilant voters to ensure there are checks and balances.

Do things. Write. Blog. Create art. Criticize the powerful. Engage in dialogue with your neighbors and beyond. Get out of whatever bubbles you might be in, and we are all in bubbles, to find common ground with people of other ideologies.

When I read some of the claims about Pres. Obama, I remind friends I side with socialist Cornel West and libertarians against extra-judicial use of drones, expansion of wire-tapping, the selling military "surplus" to police forces, the highest rate of deportations in U.S. history, and many other policies we have had during this time. How many bankers went to prison?

I respect Pres. Obama more than I will ever respect a Trump or Pence. But I'm not going to waive my moral and ethical compass on issues …

Lousy Choices

Do we vote our consciouses? Do we vote pragmatically? Do we vote for our "cause" (party) even when the candidate falls short of our ideals? Why and how to vote are serious questions we should consider. Yet, I'm unconvinced there are "right" answers philosophically.

Myself, I cannot vote for a person with whom I disagree or distrust significantly. That's a moral centering I cannot violate, even when it proves to be less than pragmatic. And in this presidential year, I disagree with and distrust all four major-minor candidates. That's depressing.

David Frum offered "A Guide for Undecided Republicans⁠⁠: Choosing a president isn't easy in this election, but here are three ways a principled conservative might vote."

It isn't a satisfying read, if only because it reminds us how lost the Republican Party and the Libertarian Party are. It reminds us that we h…

Election Depression

One good sign from this election year: none of my close friends has made a stink and defriended me for not agreeing with X, Y, or Z and not being a vocal supporter of Candidate A, B, or C.

I never felt embarrassed to have this president and his family represent the United States, despite not agreeing with him on several core issues. For eight years we've had a president with whom I disagree but consider a decent father, good role model, and generally well-intentioned human. (Foreign affairs, generally disappointed by both parties since 2001.)

For eight years, the big change was health care. Did anything else change? I'm not sure. I wish we had seen some Big Bank CEOs in prison (capitalism without the rule of law doesn't work), a reworking of corporate and personal tax systems (simplify, close loopholes, end "targetted" breaks), and a willingness to confront long-term infrastructure issues while interest rates are low.

We need an educated, moral, persuasive,…

Petulant GOP Voters and Likely HRC Overreach

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C.
on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Republican candidates, and the GOP in general, lost many of us in the "almost classical" liberal and libertarian subset of voters since 1992. The 1996, 2000, and 2004 elections drove us further away as the GOP enabled candidates and voters with no cohesive loyalty to classical liberalism.

Some of us voted for George W. Bush in 2000, hoping for a return to the ideals of efficient (not non-existent) government and personal freedom. That hope quickly evaporated, as Bush was anything but fiscally responsible. Non-intervention went by the wayside, too. From the Patriot Act to No Child Left Behind, Bush was the president libertarian-leaning, local-government promoting voters feared. A Republican taking away rights, imposing federal mandates, and engaging in wars without end.

Our first votes for "W" were our last votes for W… and yet he won again (and with the popular vote) in 2004. We ha…

We Surrendered

For many of us who have studied, deeply, the works of Adam Smith, J.S. Mill, Hayek, von Mises, Sowell, Mankiw, Garrison, McCloskey, and others with Austrian and Classical Liberal theoretical underpinnings, the death of the intellectual movement began when intellectually skilled yet stupid people like Charles Murray (The Bell Curve) were given credence by the Republican and Libertarian Parties.

The Religious Right wasn't seeking religious liberty. It was, often, seeking a cover for hateful biases and a desire to legislate morality. Religious men and women led the Abolitionist movement and the Civil Rights movement, but those aren't the people of the modern religious GOP subset.

We let racists, nationalists, sexists, and worse claim the banner of "personal liberty" and "states rights" when we should have been and must today reject these people. Horrible people have used libertarian and classically liberal ideals to defend their twisted opinions and hatred…

How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday... and why - Lord Ashcroft Polls

What happened in the United Kingdom during the summer of 2016? The working class revolted, in fear and disgust.

How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday... and why - Lord Ashcroft Polls

The "Remain" side predicted collapse, which for two days was a self-fulfilling economic event… that ended quickly. The pound sterling is back to $1.35 and rising, the FTSE is up 2% for the last two days, and people are now realizing the EU, as a trade group, never finalized treaties with China, India, Australia, Canada, or even the United States. The only trade agreements were internal, and many of those ineffective due to internal politics (French farmers come to mind).

Both campaigns relied on so much hyperbole that neither was believed by the general population. I listen to BBC WS, Bloomberg London, and CNBC International for hours daily (in the car) and all these sources are slowly agreeing the End of the World™might not happen after all.

The EU nations need the UK. Contrary to stories, th…

Election Uncertainty and Economics

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The economy is already rocky. This election won't bring a stable, growing economy, and it could bring disaster.

In business, I'd rather know what taxes and regulations are ahead of me. If you can plan for something, there's stability. You might not like the programs and proposals of Hillary Clinton (I don't), but you can plan for what she would pursue as president.

Donald Trump? His candidacy embodies the uncertainty businesses fear. It is like waiting for a natural disaster, but you don't know which type of disaster. Do we seek higher ground, to avoid a flood? Do we go into the basement to avoid a tornado? Trump is going to be something, but what will he be?

Don't assume Trump cannot win. He can and he might.

I'm not suggesting support for Hillary Clinton, either, but I am more concerned about Trump.

The world today needs free trade. We need open borders. We need e…

2016: Proof Our System is Broken

Our "choices" for the 2016 presidential election are very bad and extremely bad.

What, you say? There are more than two choices? Right. And I'll soon be running a Hollywood Studio.

The two-party system of the United States is not going to change this election cycle, though the cracks are showing. More likely, if the Republican Party does implode, a new party will rise. It has happened before and will happen again. But, overall, we remain a two-party nation. The parties flip ideologies, the parties change names, individual parties split. And we always end up with a duopoly.

Not that other nations really have multiple parties in the way romantically imagine. There are, generally, two central parties with minor parties trying to pull the major parties to the left or right. Because the parliamentary systems rely on coalitions, those minor parties have more influence than smaller parties can have in the United States.

The upside of the European model is that small par…

Response: Am I a Libertarian?

Because I've been cautioning that libertarians need to be pragmatic and we should avoid the caricatures of others that we are subjected to online and in the press, a few readers have asked why I consider myself an almost classical liberal and a libertarian.

My core values and my ideal economic and political models remain firmly grounded in the works of Austrian economic theorists and John Stuart Mill's theories on freedom. I value Adam Smith, Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, F. A. Hayek (a lot), early Murray Rothbard, Roger Garrison, Eugene Fama, Deidre McCloskey, and Milton Friedman.

I enjoy the views and historical grounding of Meagan McArdle, Robert J. Samuelson, and Amity Shlaes. I argue with other "libertarians" over Ayn Rand, while still respecting The Fountainhead for its emphasis on personal expression over greed.

The federal government of the United States is a tangled mess of departments, agencies, bureaus, and offices.

In order of Constitutional ra…

Political and Economic Realism

The Libertarian Party in the United States is no more (and maybe no less) realistic than the Democratic or Republican parties. The platforms of parties are not based on realistic legislative goals; they are the work of party ideologues with little to no hope of becoming legal realities. There are exceptions, but overall the party platforms are hopes and dreams, meant to reaffirm core values for base voters.

In the world of an Almost Classical Liberal, ideologues from across the political landscape represent the failure of pragmatism in our political discourse.

Let us admit to some basic realities, how things really are, and that might reduce the name calling and outlandish fallacies that dominate our political climate.

1) Every major nation in the world has a hybrid economic system. There are welfare state programs in most industrialized nations and those aren't going to be ending anytime soon. Also, there are markets in those nations, and the markets aren't going away, e…

Left-Leaning Libertarians

A supposed "tolerant progressive" wrote online that Libertarians are "invariably men with immature, selfish attitudes." When asked why she also invoked Ayn Rand on a regular basis when criticizing the "greedy libertarians" she posted that Rand "looked and acted like a man." At least the irony wasn't missed by those posting comments on Facebook. Reading this thread, which started on the site of a major online magazine, the generalities from all sides were disturbing.

Can we be any more insulting to people with different views than the approved urban-elitist progressivism? (See, I can generalize, too!)

Seriously, my wife is more "Libertarian" than I am, but I consider myself more "libertarian." The range from left-to-right within libertarianism is probably broader than the ranges within either major political party in the United States. What unifies libertarians is a distrust of the majority to protect the rights of the m…