Archive for May, 2010

Philosophy versus Reality

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

I’m a very independent thinker, but the label I most closely identify with is libertarian. I get a bit agitated at times, however, with purists who claim that only their position can reasonably be considered ‘libertarian’. I suppose you could say that I believe fundamentalists within any movement are by necessity out of touch with reality, but a specific spark is ignited when dealing with “my own”, so to speak.

Widely discussed this past week, was Rand Paul’s appearance on Rachel Maddow’s show after his defeat of Trey Grayson in the GOP Senate primary in Kentucky. In what in my opinion was an attempt to derail Rand’s discussion on relevant issues by putting the focus on a topic settled half a century ago, the Civil Rights Act, Maddow asked Rand what his thoughts on the mandatory service clause of the CRA were. See for yourself:

Ultimately, Paul states that he saw the need for the legislation overall, amidst stating multiple times how much he abhors discrimination. Frankly, I think it was naïve of him to trust her not to do exactly what she did, which was put words in his mouth at the end of the segment, and create a racial issue out of thin air. Frankly, I’m disgusted by the fact that she got away with it and am disappointed that Paul didn’t cut the conversation off, knowing what would happen. Predictably, and just as Maddow intended, given Paul’s hesitancy to give her a direct yes or no answer (likely because of how insufficient a one word answer would be and how irrelevant the questions were to any modern political discussion), Maddow’s audience utilized this segment to paint Paul as a racist – despite his philosophically consistent, reasonably libertarian response to Maddow’s inquiries, rooted in the defense of an individual’s right to association.

…. But unfortunately, this is where things get hairy.

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The Kentucky Case Study

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

The Republican primary for the race that will replace retiring Senator Jim Bunning is heating up in a major way. The tension between the moderate, if not liberal GOP Establishment and Outside-The-Beltway conservatives is on full display. This is an internal fight familiar to those of us who feel we have a stake in the fate of the GOP – and it’s a battle that’s been brewing intensely since George W. Bush and the Republican Congress under his leadership governed like intellectually dishonest, somewhat muted versions of the Democrats they claimed to oppose. Ever since the GOP was relegated to super-minority status in the 2008 elections, the epic battle for the intellectual heart of the Republican Party has been playing out in an intense manner – through everything from the the grassroots Tea Party movement to the polite but pointedly political battle between Senators like the conservative Jim DeMint and Establishment lackey Mitch McConnell; two men who have come to play a major role recently in this particular race.

Long before official candidacies were declared, I’ve had my eye on the Kentucky Senate race. This is largely because I’m a big fan of Rand Paul, and knew he was considering a run. I had the pleasure of meeting him on multiple occasions in 2007, and Rand was even kind enough to come to Boston to be the keynote speaker for an event I was the principal host of at Faneuil Hall. I’ve always thought that he had the talent, principles and political savvy to take the liberty movement mainstream. Turns out I was right.

Anyone who has been following the Kentucky Senate race has likely taken note of how unconventional the politics of this particular Republican primary have been. It’s no surprise, really. It’s not everyday that the Establishment is challenged by a strong, principled, liberty-minded conservative like Rand Paul; which is what makes this race a case study for those of us interested in the battle for the GOP’s heart. As we’ve seen via endorsements of Rand’s liberal opponent, former Democrat Trey Grayson, the Old Guard of the GOP is threatened; in a big way. Why else would they get involved in a primary race in Kentucky?

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Politicizing Disaster

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

As I write this, a story is developing about what appears to be a thwarted attempt at setting off a car bomb in the middle of Times Square. Luckily, no one was hurt, and an NYPD bomb squad seems to have successfully diffused whatever device was in the SUV.

…. And all over my twitter feed,  there are people who feel an immediate need, having no facts whatsoever regarding who did this or what their motive was, to blame Obama and his administration for their supposed incompetence when it comes to national security issues.

This type of unfounded, politicized assumption making coming from many on the right is just as unbecoming as what I saw from the left (for example, Fire Dog Lake), regarding the horrible oil rig accident that occurred on April 20th off the Gulf Coast. The unfortunate mishap killed 11 people, and dumped 200,000 gallons of oil into the ocean; and the folks at FDL seem to think it’s perfectly appropriate to use the tragedy as an excuse to throw around anti oil company rhetoric. While it’s quite possible that they have some valid points worth considering about the merits of conservation, why offshore drilling might be a bad thing, or the shady practices of companies like BP, I can’t help but find it cheap, if not insulting, to treat tragedy as a reason to push politics.

The exact same thing can be said of the claims that the right’s foreign policy hawks are making regarding Obama’s national security incompetence. While they might put forth claims worth considering about the President’s weaknesses on the issue, doing so as an immediate reaction to a bomb plot where the motive remains a mystery seems far too blindly ideological; weakening the potential strengths of any argument that could be made in favor of the hawk’s views. (Side-note: I’m also seeing tweets about MSNBC hosts speculating that the bomb plot relates to right-wing home grown terrorism; equally as inappropriate and factually weak as hawkish assumptions that it’s a Muslim jihad).

Why do so many people feel the need to both immediately and irrationally politicize disaster?

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