The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 13, 2013 – Not All Libertarians Are Alike

Before I begin I must say that this post would not have been possible without the aid of a great website called The Political Compass. I intend to quote directly from their website both to promote the website itself and to help educate all of us (including myself.) I hope they don’t mind.

From the website:

There’s abundant evidence for the need of it. The old one-dimensional categories of ‘right’ and ‘left’, established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today’s complex political landscape. For example, who are the ‘conservatives’ in today’s Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher?

On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It’s not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can’t explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as ‘right-wingers’, yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.

Senator Randal Howard “Rand” Paul has been in the news lately because he hired someone who once made a living as a despicable character to work for him to be his director of new media. Senator Paul defended the hiring of Jack Hunter, saying that whether or not Hunter expressed white supremacist views in the past doesn’t matter because he himself (Paul) has never seen Hunter express any of those views. This is pretty weak because turning a blind eye to someone’s past is not something a United States Senator, who is, after all, a Public Servant, should do. Yes, what The Southern Avenger did was legal and constitutionally protected free speech, but that doesn’t mean you should reward him by giving him a job as an aide to a Senator. “The senator said he believed Hunter is ‘incredibly talented’ even if he doesn’t agree with things his aide wrote or said while working as a radio talk show host.” Tell us, Senator, were there equally qualified people out there who didn’t make public appearances wearing a mask emblazoned with the Confederate Flag (the flag of the army that killed more U.S. soldiers than all other armies combined), and who doesn’t think John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place, or who whine and complain that white people can’t freely express themselves (I don’t want to link to Hunter’s site, but you can find it from some of the other links)? Why hire this guy? Senator Paul and Jack Hunter both say he doesn’t express views like that anymore, but that’s as far as anybody knows. Hunter also claims to be embarrassed by some of his past statements, which he also claims actually contradicted his true feelings. Yeah, people often say stuff like that when their past racist views are exposed. It doesn’t mean it was morally okay to publicly express those views, especially since you were doing it to make a buck. I mean, really, how long can you go around saying things you really don’t believe? In Hunter’s case it was more than a decade. And before he quit that gig to work for the Senator last year, he help co-write a book for Paul. The Senator wants us all to think that Hunter’s “act” was something from his youth. Hunter is 39 years old.

In addition to all of that, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Senator’s views on the Civil Rights Act. The Senator claims he abhors racism, but somehow feels it’s okay for a private establishment, even if it is open to the public, should not be legally barred from practicing discrimination based on race. No, Senator. If you abhor racism, then you cannot be okay with other people practicing it. And if you don’t bar it legally, they will do it. Look how long it took for states to start changing their voting laws to make it harder for non-whites to vote once the Supreme Court (in its infinite stupidity) struck down part of the Voting Rights Act.

Which brings me back to the point of this post- not all Libertarians are alike. Senator Paul and his Director of New Media are conservative libertarians. People like Nelson Mandela and Mohandas K. Gandhi are liberal libertarians. When you take the test at Political Compass, you are given a score that tells you where you rank on the liberal/conservative scale (-10 to +10) as well as on the libertarian/authoritarian scale (-10 to +10).

Back to the Political Compass:

In the introduction, we explained the inadequacies of the traditional left-right line.

leftright

If we recognise that this is essentially an economic line it’s fine, as far as it goes. We can show, for example, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot, with their commitment to a totally controlled economy, on the hard left. Socialists like Mahatma Gandhi and Robert Mugabe would occupy a less extreme leftist position. Margaret Thatcher would be well over to the right, but further right still would be someone like that ultimate free marketeer, General Pinochet.

That deals with economics, but the social dimension is also important in politics. That’s the one that the mere left-right scale doesn’t adequately address. So we’ve added one, ranging in positions from extreme authoritarian to extreme libertarian.

bothaxes

Both an economic dimension and a social dimension are important factors for a proper political analysis. By adding the social dimension you can show that Stalin was an authoritarian leftist (ie the state is more important than the individual) and that Gandhi, believing in the supreme value of each individual, is a liberal leftist. While the former involves state-imposed arbitrary collectivism in the extreme top left, on the extreme bottom left is voluntary collectivism at regional level, with no state involved. Hundreds of such anarchist communities exisited (sic) in Spain during the civil war period

You can also put Pinochet, who was prepared to sanction mass killing for the sake of the free market, on the far right as well as in a hardcore authoritarian position. On the non-socialist side you can distinguish someone like Milton Friedman, who is anti-state for fiscal rather than social reasons, from Hitler, who wanted to make the state stronger, even if he wiped out half of humanity in the process.

The chart also makes clear that, despite popular perceptions, the opposite of fascism is not communism but anarchism (ie liberal socialism), and that the opposite of communism ( i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) is neo-liberalism (i.e. extreme deregulated economy)

axeswithnames

The usual understanding of anarchism as a left wing ideology does not take into account the neo-liberal “anarchism” championed by the likes of Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and America’s Libertarian Party, which couples social Darwinian right-wing economics with liberal positions on most social issues. Often their libertarian impulses stop short of opposition to strong law and order positions, and are more economic in substance (ie no taxes) so they are not as extremely libertarian as they are extremely right wing. On the other hand, the classical libertarian collectivism of anarcho-syndicalism ( libertarian socialism) belongs in the bottom left hand corner.

In our home page we demolished the myth that authoritarianism is necessarily “right wing”, with the examples of Robert Mugabe, Pol Pot and Stalin. Similarly Hitler, on an economic scale, was not an extreme right-winger. His economic policies were broadly Keynesian, and to the left of some of today’s Labour parties. If you could get Hitler and Stalin to sit down together and avoid economics, the two diehard authoritarians would find plenty of common ground.

Here’s where my scores ended up:
Economic Left/Right: -7.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.85

So, as you can see, I’m a Libertarian, but a Liberal one, not a Conservative one like Senator Paul or his co-author, The Southern Avenger, Jack Hunter. But what about other people? Here’s where it gets interesting. (Okay, that’s a tacit admission that it may not have been particularly interesting up to this point.) Many of us on the left have complained not simply that President Barack Obama is not as liberal as we had hoped he would be, but that he’s no better than Mitt Romney would have been. Technically this is not accurate, for Romney is more conservative and authoritarian than Obama (despite his talk about “freedom”), but only slightly so. Check where Political Compass rated the presidential candidates in the 2012 election. Romney’s scores appear to be about a +7/+6.5 while Obama’s are only a slightly better (in this author’s opinion) +6/+6. As you can see, nowhere near being either Liberal or Libertarian. If you think that’s bad, check out where the European Union countries fall. All of them are in the Conservative/Authoritarian quadrant.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss RW Libertarians or any other topic you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 17, 2012: Go Away, Mitt

It seems many in the Republican Party are not too happy with their most recent presidential nominee. A report in yesterday’s Washington Post, titled “Romney Sinks Quickly in Republicans’ Esteem,” quotes many prominent Republicans denouncing Governor Romney’s recently recorded comments to supporters in which he blamed his loss, in part, on President Obama’s “gifts” to his constituents. The comments were, of course, highly offensive, especially considering Romney was trying to win by promising “gifts” to what he viewed as his own constituency (such as tax breaks for people in his income class, people who make their money through unearned income and who pay a lower tax rate on that income than the people who work for them.)

Romney’s remarks, coupled with his “47%” comments, portray a man clearly out of touch with the average American. (Thousands of Americans have sent their own sons and daughters to compete in Olympic Games, but how many have sent their own horses?) By all accounts, he was actually shocked that he lost the election. This is only possible because of a failure on his part to recognize his lack of connection to average voters, and because of a character defect which made him believe the hundreds of lies he told throughout the campaign. But the one thing he never blamed was the fact that his message was rejected by a majority of American voters. You lost, Willard, fair and square.

The president campaigned on building up the middle class in part by asking those in the upper income brackets to pay a little more, and you campaigned on promising those in the upper income brackets that they would pay less at the expense of those in the middle class. The rich are not, no matter what any Republican tells you, “job creators.” It’s the rest of us in the lower incomes who create jobs. Why does an employer hire someone, anyway? Usually, it’s because business has picked up so much that the employer’s current staff can’t service the company’s customers. It’s not just for the sake of hiring someone, or as an excuse to spend some of his personal wealth. When you give lower income people a tax break (such as on their payroll tax), it puts extra money in their pockets that they can spend to meet their day-to-day living expenses. When middle income people have extra money in their pockets, they buy themselves things that they really need, like food, clothing, and shelter. That extra spending is what drives the economy. But when wealthy people get a tax break, the extra money is just that – extra money. They don’t need it to survive, and they don’t spend it. They put it trust funds or overseas tax havens, or they pass it on to their children and grandchildren. But Mitt Romney doesn’t understand this. And I doubt he ever will. Which is why he should just STFU and go away. The American people have had enough of his lies, and we’re not interested in anything he has to say.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Mitt Romney’s social cluelessness, or anything else that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: November 9 — Get a grip, Republicans

White People Mourning Romney

I mean really, people.  Drama Queen much?  That looks like a jewelry counter in there, I think y’all will be okay — unless potential customers just don’t like how friggin’ silly you’re being.

Hey, does anyone remember how you felt when George W. Bush won re-election in 2004?  I know I was stunned — and it was my BIRTHDAY!  Man, that stung!  I walked around in kind of an astonished daze for about a day, but I never thought this country had “died,” or was doomed for destruction (although GWB gave it one helluva try).

I shook it off, pulled up my big girl panties, and started informing myself.  I realized that, although I had always voted, I had never really been interested in politics and how or why they worked.  I got an internet connection and started looking for information — not knowing the first place to look.  I just had to read and read and read, knowing that because it’s on the internet, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Sometime in 2005, I found Eric Alterman’s blog, “Altercation.”  He seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, so I checked all his links.  By doing so, I found David Corn’s blog.  I liked him because he was smart and snarky.  I made my first comments online on Corn’s blog.  Then Alterman linked to a brand new blog called “ThinkProgress,” and shit got real!  In a pretty short time, TP went from one or two posts a day, and maybe ten comments, to eight or ten post a day, and hundreds of comments!  I met loads of wonderful people there, and learned SO MUCH from their comments and outlook on life.  I read so much information on so many topics that I’d never heard of before, and it was awesome.  Then, in 2007, when the troll shit got so deep it was over-topping our hip-waders, we left TP and created TheZoo.  I’m still learning today!

My point is this, Republicans and assorted tea-types:  Sure, you’re disappointed.  You had high hopes and dreams that Barack Obama would be a one term President, and it just didn’t work out.  I can’t say I’m sorry about that turn of events, but I understand the feeling.  Sorta.

Here’s a video that might help you start you own journey toward educating yourself about politics in this country, and an actual exploration of facts.  It’s not Fox, it’s Rachel Maddow, but stay with me here.  It might scare you, but it’s 16 minutes of your life.  You can still be furious and hurt, but please stop thinking this country is over.  I don’t know why you think we’re such a fragile country.  I mean really, come on.

Rachel just gave you a huge number of FACTS.  You probably don’t agree with that assessment, but your assignment is to make a list of all those facts and then confirm or debunk them.  You have to be discerning in your sources of information!  No Drudge or Fox, and to be fair, no MSNBC or ThinkProgress.

Remember:  Actions speak louder than words.  John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can stand in front of microphones and say they’re all about “jobs, jobs, jobs,” but check their voting record.  It’s up to you to educate yourself, because it sticks better that way.  Do it for YOU, okay?  This bitterness and anger is going to eat you alive, and no one wants that.

Let’s work together on getting this country back in shape and working again.  Whadda ya say?

This is our daily open thread — And it’s FRIDAY!!!!

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 5th, 2012: Adelson’s “Newspaper”

In my post from Saturday, November 3rd, I promised (threatened?) forthcoming info regarding the view of our Presidential Election from overseas. So here’s a few recent articles – aka “newsletters” – from the Israel HaYom free daily newspaper**, owned by Mitt Romney’s biggest sugar-daddy, Sheldon Adelson:

November 2nd Newsletter: “Will Sandy save Obama?”
November 2nd Newsletter: “A stormy road to the White House – Uncle Sam’s Identity Crisis”
Another November 2nd Newsletter: “Where will the storm take voters?”
A third – and truly offensive – Newsletter/Opinion from November 2nd: “Obama’s ‘black power’ past and present”

Fourth: In this article from yesterday, it appears that there may not be any daylight between Bibi Netanyahu and President Obama, at least on one issue:

Two days after Abbas implied in a Channel 2 interview that he would be willing to abandon the demand for a Palestinian “right of return” in exchange for peace with Israel, Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting: “I saw the interview with Abbas over the weekend. I heard that he has since rescinded his remarks, but this proves how important it is to hold direct negotiations without preconditions.[Emphasis mine]

From the Fifth (and last) in the Israel HaYom’s election series: The following two (the only two) amusing excerpts from Boaz Bismuth’s “Two Days to Go”, reporting from Cambridge, Massachusetts, prefaced an article based mostly on the Obama “Messiah” myth:

“At least one thing is certain: The next American president will be a Harvard graduate. Out there, in the picturesque calm of the prestigious Ivy League institution…I watched the students passing in front of me and wondered whether any of them would choose to emulate the two famous alumni, Obama and Mitt Romney, and someday join the race to the White House.

“We’re not too excited by the fact that two of our alumni are running for president,” explains Sam, a business student. “Obama is a part of the ruling elite, just like Romney, and it is pretty clear that someone from the ruling elite will be sitting in the White House.”

I ask Sam to help me figure out the polls. “Look, it’s rather simple,” he says. “The people you see who are dressed up and wearing a tie, like me, will vote for Romney.”

“And what about the rest?” I ask.

“They’ll vote for Obama,” he replies.

“But I see very few ties,” I remark.

“It’s the weekend,” he explains.”

Bismuth’s next paragraph gave me a satisfying chuckle:

“Since Americans are unable to decipher the multitude of polls, Nate Silver has come to the rescue with his New York Times blog, FiveThirtyEight, named after the 538 electoral votes. Silver, 38, who accurately predicted the results in 48 states in the 2008 election, declares decisively: Obama is going to win on Tuesday. He projects that 300 electoral votes will go to Obama (30 more than he needs to win), and 50.5% of the popular vote. On the opposite side of the fence, senior Republican strategist Karl Rove predicts in the Wall Street Journal that Romney will win 279 electoral votes, making him the next president of the U.S.”

[Yeah, well we all know how Rovian Math worked out in 2008, right? It still brings me joy to remember the look on Karl’s face when, in the midst of his explanation of how, via Rovian Math, McCain could still win, Brit Hume next to him announced that Obama had won Ohio, and the election was over. Priceless.]

And just for fun (or at least a brief break from our election,) here’s a couple of IsraelHayom’s ‘newsletters’ regarding Iran:

From Friday, November 2nd: “Iran is near completing its nuclear activities in Fordo”; and today’s “Iran suspending uranium enrichment in effort to halt sanctions.”

**Check the ‘About Us‘ page’s claim that “… Israel Hayom has a 31.8 percent exposure rate, maintaining its position as the most read daily newspaper in Israel for the second year in a row.” I emailed a few of the above links to a Jewish co-worker, whose daughter has visited Israel several times and has close contacts there: her daughter had never heard of ‘Israel HaYom’, and was going to ask her Israeli friend about it. Haven’t heard anything yet, but IMO, this “newspaper” could be nothing more than one of those freebies you can grab on your way out of the grocery store. :)

This is our daily open thread–try to stay strong and sane!

Mitt Romney Lies About Bain Capital

Mitt Romney likes to say that “he can do that” or “that he can fix that” or “he fixed that in the past”.  This is always in relationship to the budget deficit.  Yet, it was tax payers money that saved Bain Capital not Mitt Romney.  He won’t talk about that.

Rolling Stone has the complete article which can be read here.

Excerpt:

In fact, government documents on the bailout obtained by Rolling Stone show that the legend crafted by Romney is basically a lie. The federal records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that Romney’s initial rescue attempt at Bain & Company was actually a disaster – leaving the firm so financially strapped that it had “no value as a going concern.” Even worse, the federal bailout ultimately engineered by Romney screwed the FDIC – the bank insurance system backed by taxpayers – out of at least $10 million. And in an added insult, Romney rewarded top executives at Bain with hefty bonuses at the very moment that he was demanding his handout from the feds.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-federal-bailout-that-saved-mitt-romney-20120829#ixzz2BGEstawA

President Obama vs Mitt Romney: HWOCV? (How Would Other Countries Vote?)

While I haven’t quite been ‘all over the map’ on the internets last night and this morning, I have spent several hours overseas.

Once again, I started at foreignpolicy.com, where “Blue Planet”, by Uri Friedman, caught my eye. For a brief moment I thought it was going to be about climate change, then I saw the subtitle: “What if the world could vote in the U.S. election?” Well, let’s see:

“In a recent UPI/C-Voter/WIN-Gallup International poll, which surveyed more than 26,000 men and women in 32 countries, 62 percent of respondents said that the U.S. president has a high or very high impact on their lives, and 42 percent felt they should have the right to vote in this year’s contest for that very reason. When you call yourself the leader of the free world, you’d better believe the world is going to take an interest in who you are.”

“Obama is preferred over Mitt Romney in 31 out of 32 countries in the UPI poll and 20 out of 21 countries in another BBC World Service/GlobeScan/PIPA survey. Fifty-one percent of respondents in the UPI poll said they would cast a ballot for Obama, with more people saying they wouldn’t vote for either candidate (18 percent) than would vote for the Republican nominee (12 percent). In the BBC survey, 50 percent of respondents chose Obama and only 9 percent selected Romney.” [NOTE: The BBC survey did NOT include Israel.]

Mr. Friedman’s article goes on to describe the (as he designated them) “Red States” and “Blue States.” As one would expect, “Blue States” include “…France…Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.” Under “Red States”, Mr Friedman writes:

“There is really only one red (foreign) state in this election, and it’s Israel. In a poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University last week, 52 percent of Israelis said a Romney win would be preferable for Israeli interests, compared with 25 percent who said the same about Obama. The divide was starker among Jewish Israelis, who backed Romney by a 57-22 margin, with support for the GOP candidate strongest among right-wingers. A plurality of Arab Israelis, by contrast, favored Obama (45 percent) over Romney (15 percent)…Benjamin Netanyahu hasn’t expressed a preference for Obama or Romney during his effort to get the United States to commit to clear “red lines” for Iran’s nuclear program, but the Israeli press** has speculated that the prime minister’s meddling in the race could invite U.S. payback if Obama is reelected.”

Keep in mind that these surveys were taken during September and October. I’d be curious to know whether there would be any changes if those polls were taken now, after Hurricane Sandy has drawn attention to the differences between a very Presidential President Obama and the out-and-out opportunism and phoniness of Willard Mitt Romney.

**I’ll have more on some of the “Israeli Press” in another post that I’m working on, probably for sometime tomorrow. Stay tuned…