Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ron Paul; Johnson is "best" alternative for president

Ron Paul says GOP will be more open to libertarian-minded nominee in 2012 | The Daily Caller - Breaking News, Opinion, Research, and Entertainment: "Asked to name other potential presidential candidates he could support, Paul replied, “I guess the best one would be Johnson from New Mexico — Gary Johnson.”"

Update, June 28: The above was my first attempt to use Google Chrome's Blog This! Feature. (For the lazy writer: you're reading another article, and see a quote you'd like preserved; so you highlight the text, click the Blog This! button, and voilà.

I may try to work this into an article. In the meantime, I should link to my earlier article that profiled Gary Johnson

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Look at "Freedom Watch" hits #1 on Chart

Lately I've posted two new articles on Nolan Chart, and made it back to #1. The article I posted on Friday (a look at the 1964 Civil Rights Act through the eyes of Prof. Anne Wortham) peaked over the weekend at #2 on the Most Popular chart, and #3 on the Libertarian and Most Visited charts; while Monday's article (a look at the cable TV launch of Judge Andrew Napolitano's libertarian talkshow "Freedom Watch") hit #1 on all three charts.

Civil Rights and Wrongs (I): Human Rights vs. the Civil Rights Act

Liberty Hits Primetime (I): "Freedom Watch"

Monday, June 14, 2010

Introducing "The 1,000 Club"

I'm pleased to announce the addition of a new Blog Page, "The 1,000 Club," on TPA.

Pages are a new feature recently added by Blogger. As Blogger explains: "Blogger pages let you [...] publish static information on stand-alone pages linked from your blog. For example, you can use pages to create an About This Blog page that discusses the evolution of your blog, or a Contact Me page that provides directions, a phone number, and a map to your location." As stand-alones, these pages do not disappear like normal blog posts; rather, they are always immediately accessible from the home page "via the new Pages widget. The Pages widget lets you add links to your pages as tabs at the top of your blog, or as links in your blog's sidebar." ("The 1,000 Club" is accessible as a tab at the top.)

I've been looking for a way to use Pages on this blog, and this looks like a good one. One of the purposes of  this blog was to be a portal to my other writing on the internet. 

"The 1,000 Club" is a listing of articles on my online column at Nolan Chart, "The continuing rEVOLution," that have gained at least 1,000 "reads" (or "hits" or "page views"). The intent is to provide a one-stop, quickly-accessible entry to all my most popular articles only. (All my articles are archived together at my columnist's page on Nolan Chart, but that includes everything regardless of popularity.)

I was pleasantly surprised to find almost 50 articles in the club already. Since the data used goes up to 2009 only, that does not include my two (so far) 2010 articles that have broken 1,000 reads, "Paul Surges to Leade in Senate Race" and "The Battle of Kentucky." Nor does it include a half-dozen articles that had less than 1,000 reads on Dec. 31 but have climbed over that figure in the half-year since.

I hope this portal becomes of value for those researching the various subjects, not to mention those who just want a good read. You can access "The 1,000 Club" by using the tab at the top of this page, or by using this link.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Civil Rights and Wrongs (I)

I really have to write more on this blog; few are reading it because little is being written on it. I need to get into the habit of recording whatever strikes me as notable in politics that day, no matter how consequential.

What's notable for me today is my publication of a new Nolan Chart article, "Civil Rights and Wrongs (I)", on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which is back in the news after a Rand Paul incident -- well, you can read about that in the article). Here's the link:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Defending Rand Paul (II) D.T. Strain

by George J. Dance

Rand Paul's views on Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act have been widely and fiercely condemned. Paul himself has been smeared as everything from a racist to a moron. However (as I noted yesterday) a few voices can be found defending him, if one looks for them, often from the most unlikely sources.

One of the most unlikely is D.T. Strain, a humanist minister from Texas and a writer for As Strain himself writes, "I am about the last person on the planet you might expect to defend Rand Paul, Libertarians, or Republican candidates... I am socially liberal....  I also view the kind of complete laissez-faire capitalism espoused by Libertarianism as unrealistic, logically misguided, and morally deficient as well."

Nevertheless, Strain adds, "above all of that I am firstly concerned with truth and its offspring: honesty, fairness, and accuracy."And he sees little of that in the depictions of Paul as a racist: "when you look more closely at what he's said, there isn't even good reason to suspect it.... Racism is a powerful charge to throw around and no thoughtful and moral person should do so lightly."

Rather, Strain sees Paul's objections to the act as being not racist but libertarian. "He is opposed to limiting individual freedoms, even if that means people will sometimes be bad to one another." He adds: "Paul is thinking of a private business like a home. A person owns a building and whether they live in it or decide to sell bread out of it, it's their property - and an individual should have the right to say who comes onto their property or who they do business with for any reason."

For those who don't understand how one can condemn both discrimination and laws against it (as libertarians do), Strain adds a helpful analogy:
Should lying be illegal? Given that enforcement would require a huge bureaucracy and expense, and that it would create a veritable police state given the amount of oversight and intrusion necessary to police it, most people would agree it should not be illegal. But does that mean those people are liars or that they condone lying? Certainly not. Many of them are honest people who abhor deceptive behavior, and yet they believe these things are better handled through social pressures and the like, rather than through law enforcement.
Strain's conclusion: "Those who are distorting [Rand Paul's] words, or framing his position to sound as though he is a racist or in favor of racism are acting immorally. Either they are reacting out of a well justified but misplaced anger regarding racism, or they are cunningly using the event for political gain."

Strain, who as he says is no libertarian, goes on to argue against that libertarian position. And here, of course, is where I disagree with him. For example, he undercuts his earlier analogy by saying that "Enforcing non-discrimination in places of business does not, in fact, require the same level of intrusiveness and bureaucracy as would laws against everyday lying." However, that is not true, not just in regard to Section II but even more so to Section VII of the CRA (which bans discrimination by race or sex in hiring). Precisely because dishonesty and racism are mental states, they cannot be seen but only inferred from objective conditions; and the bureaucracy that investigates the latter conditions has become large and intrusive indeed -- much larger than the average American (or Canadian) may think.

But refuting Strain's argument is not my objective here. In fact, I'd encourage readers to read his arguments against the libertarian view, and think it through for themselves. Giving a hearing to opposing views (even those we find repugnant), and the arguments for them, does not endanger our own views -- provided we have thought our own views through in the first place. It is indeed a pity that the voices mocking and distorting Rand Paul's coments do not understood that.

DT Strain, "In defense of Rand Paul,", June 2, 2010.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Defending Rand Paul (I) Lanny Davis

by George J. Dance

For two weeks now I have been following the flap over Rand Paul's interview with Rachel Maddow on Title II of the Civil Rights Act, making copious notes and getting little writing done. It just occurred to me that the TPA blog is the ideal place to put those notes: this is the place for rougher, immediate commentary, with the more polished, detailed work still appearing on the Nolan Chart pages.

One encouraging sign is those few voices, mostly drowned out in the widespread chorus of vilification but breaking through from time to time, that have been raised in Dr. Paul's defence. Not only his supporters, but some of his erstwhile political opponents have spoken up.

One early piece out was by former Clinton aide Lanny Davis, in a column called "The Paul-Maddow Interview: A Liberal's Second Thoughts" reprinted in both The Hill  and The Daily Caller.  Davis says that, while initially he enjoyed "the media and political piling-on of Paul," after a while he became uncomfortable with it and decided to do his own research. Which led him to the Libertarian Party platform, from which he quotes, “property rights are entitled to the same protection as all other human rights. The owners of property have the full right to control, use, dispose of, or in any manner enjoy, their property without interference,” as the root of Paul's opposition to Title II.

Davis also explains Paul's apparent contradiction -- his later statement that he would have voted for the Act, and supports it today -- by quoting from the platform section on racism: "We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should not deny or abridge any individual’s rights based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation.”

Davis gets some factual points wrong. For one thing, he calls Paul's father Ron the 2008 Libertarian presidential nominee (Paul ran for the Republican nomination that year; he was the Libertarian nominee in 1988.) For another, based on the LP platform, Davis concludes that Paul is pro-choice, when in fact, as a good Republican, he wants abortion almost completely outlawed. However, the article is a good one on balance which makes its points effectively. As well, it appears to have been influential: media commentary by and large has shifted from labelling Paul a racist and even a Klansman, to calling him a libertarian, and I conjecture Davis's article had much to do with that.

It is certainly worth noting, and quoting at length, Davis's conclusion: 
We liberals can and should strongly disagree with Rand Paul and libertarians on the positions they take on various issues, especially their belief in the lack of governmental power to ensure racial and economic justice in this country. But mocking him and trivializing a man who is so intellectually honest in applying his libertarian principles does not feel right to me anymore.
Maybe too many of us have grown so cynical with today’s political culture that we have a hard time coping with, much less believing in, someone who is running for political office who is actually authentic and sincere, even if it means he or she is taking positions that offend, at times, both the left and the right.