Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Seavey on Radio Again. Plus Trump, Ailes, Milo, Anarchists!

Seventeen quick thoughts (each with a link) as we survey the end of the post-Cold War Republican Party.

•TRUMP: IN. This week might look like “anarchy” (in the loose colloquial sense) at the Republican National Convention, but yesterday, the day of Trump’s official nomination, was also the twentieth anniversary of an important (and schismatic) date in the history of real anarchism, as I’ll explain below. In this year when the presidential nominee of one major U.S. political party dabbles in conspiracy theorizing about Obama’s birth, 9/11, and the JFK assassination, while the nominee of the other major party promises UFO disclosure, anarchism should not be dismissed as the weirdest branch of U.S. politics anymore. It may prove a more fruitful avenue of future intellectual inquiry than were conservatism and liberalism, in any case.

•JOHNSON: SERIOUS. Meanwhile, the candidate of the Libertarian Party, which most years is seen as having a weirder candidate than the two major parties, avoids conspiracy theories and merely jokes that having been a successful two-term governor of New Mexico gave him a chance to see the “alien to work” program near Roswell. Obviously, if you’re voting, you have to vote for him.

•AILES: OUT. Speaking of twentieth anniversaries, we’re just a few months from the October 7 twentieth anniversary of Fox News’s launch, and it now appears that Roger Ailes may not be there to celebrate. Having worked there briefly, I’ll be very curious whether the culture at the place changes now.

•MILO: BANNED. Again, we libertarians are not necessarily inclined to conspiracy theory, but it’s an awfully odd coincidence that yesterday appeared to bring Trump’s triumph, Ailes’ possible end, and Trump-supporting Milo Yiannopoulos’s lifetime banning from Twitter. It was his mockery of actress Leslie Jones that did it, apparently, so he’s been taken down by the Ghostbusters, just like Gozer (or perhaps that just served as a timely excuse for the left/black/Muslim-sympathizing culture at Twitter). He now becomes only the second person, to my knowledge, who is banned for life from Twitter -- and I’m friends with the other one because I know good people.

•VIKINGS: BLACK. I wish people would just stay off the volatile topics of race and religion, but if you ask me, the real ethno-hubbub on the pop culture horizon is the portrayal of an honest to gosh Norse Valkyrie goddess by a black woman in next year’s Thor movie. That should be a real test of self-control for the pagan-leaning racist elements of the alt-right. You heard it here first: Ragnarok arrives Nov. 3, 2017.

•DAILY SHOW: ASSAULTING. But don’t assume it’s the Milos of the world who cause all the trouble. It was Daily Show staffers who were accused of shoving a reporter at a Milo-instigated gay party at the Republican National Convention, so who are the fascists, really?

•DENTON: BANKRUPT. Financially, I mean, not just morally. Or so the Gawker founder claims.

•ANARCHISTS: DIVIDED. Even Hausam, a libertarian, stumbled for a moment at the unfortunate, obscure label for libertarians of my specific philosophical type – “anarcho-capitalists” -- but the traditional, left-leaning anarchists know (and mostly hate) us, at least. In fact, because time flies, yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of An Anarchist FAQ, the first major stab at an official online explanation of anarchism, and it was largely created by old-fashioned anarchists to distance themselves from anarcho-capitalists like me who think libertarianism and capitalism are more logical expressions of anarchist sentiment than egalitarianism and socialism are. Nice to be noticed, though.

•PUNK: CONFUSING. You should also take note of the fact that the Anarchist FAQ founder, Iain McKay, is not the same person as Fugazi singer Ian MacKaye, though it'd be kinda cool if they were the same person, and I'm sure this has led to confusion at some point.

•SILVERSTEINS: COMMONPLACE. There’s also, by the way, both a Forbes writer and a Nation writer named Ken Silverstein, which must cause some confusion.

•SEAVEY: SPECIAL. Maybe I can’t quite call myself an anarchist without creating confusion, since I believe we need property rights, as explained in my book Libertarianism for Beginners. What I lack in willingness to ditch all moral and commercial rules alongside the eminently ditchable government, though, I make up for with a thoroughgoing skepticism useful against advertisers, priests, unreflective traditionalists, shallow fellow skeptics, and even you if you say something stupid.

•CAPITALISM: AMBIGUOUS. As if it weren’t confusing enough that people argue about who qualifies as an anarchist, anarchists in turn argue about how to define “capitalism” and whether that terminology in turn affects collaboration among anarchists. This article brought to my attention by Camilo Gomez is a fairer than usual summary of the “capitalism”/“markets” distinction that is important to some left-leaning anarcho-capitalists in particular (though in these situations, I usually urge just adopting new terms or agreeing upon clarified old ones instead of wallowing in the ambiguity and the linguistic tug-o-wars).

•DEMOCRATS: OVERRATED. To those of you too easily convinced that infighting among anarchists, libertarians, or Republicans proves the Democrats, who are gathering at their own convention next week, are the smart, sane ones, I will just note that despite the great job the Democrats do of convincing themselves that rational, well-educated people lean Democrat, the majority of college-educated whites (for whatever little it’s worth) haven’t voted Democrat for president in the sixty years since demographic polling of that sort started tracking such things, despite how things may look if you inhabit some lefty college town bubble. In fact, Bush was the first Republican presidential candidate to get a bigger share of the non-college-educated than Democratic rivals, not necessarily something to be proud of, and Trump may well lock up the downright-stupid vote this year -- to the Republicans’ long-term regret, I suspect.

•DEATH: AMERICAN. While we debate these nuances, of course, some of our most broadly shared, bipartisan policy ideas kill people overseas, reason enough to question whether either major party is worth keeping around.

•CONSCIOUSNESS: IN. Perhaps sanity will be easier to find at the science lectures I’m attending tonight at 7:30 at Union Hall in Brooklyn, hosted by my friend Lefty. And if you e-mail me RIGHT NOW, you could use that second ticket I’ll be carrying with me (or I’ll just read brainy Marc E. Fitch’s crime novel Dirty Water as I ride the subway alone).

•EVENTS: REAL. I swear I will also host real-world events of my own again very soon, as promised, even if it means I post stuff online much less often. Here’s a recent blog post by Kenneth Silber about one old bar debate I organized, which is still echoing in his mind and, for good or ill, echoing across the political spectrum in these troubled times. Sob. I will try to fix everything soon. It‘s what I do.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Stossel on Seavey Book (world on fire)

I’m pleased John Stossel, who wrote the foreword to my book Libertarianism for Beginners, also wrotea column about the book. (And remember that you can hear me talk about the book bylistening to my now-archived July 1, 2016 appearance on radio show Johnny Rocket Launch Pad.)

With so few non-leftist media outlets -- and the journalists of the future being trained by aptly-named groupslike IRE to hate guns and others things the left disdains as though hating is objective journalism -- I need all the allies I can get.

Not that I’m suggesting the right is much better than the left these days. If Clinton is basically a corrupt lawyer (“cleared” by the FBI only after her hubby’s meeting with the Attorney General that was never supposed to become public knowledge), then Trump is like a drunk, ornery uncle who knows he hates that lawyer but will never be able to articulate anything like a conservative or libertarian alternative to her. At least the UK, newly free of the EU, gets a female head of state and a coherent conservative in one fell swoop. Doesn’t solve all problems, but looks enviable from the U.S. perspective right about now.

Win or lose, I just hope that if people vote in November -- I say if -- they vote Libertarian, even if only in protest. Come on, don’t be a jerk. You’ve gotta.

As for how on Earth I maintained a slight hope for years that the Republican Party would become more libertarian, please recall that (for example) three years ago there was one senator who opposed the confirmation of Comey as FBI director, the confirmation that would enable Comey to let Clinton off the hook three years later, and thatone senator was libertarian-leaning Republican Rand Paul. He also opposed Loretta Lynch becoming attorney general due to her drug-warrior contempt for due process. Principled people have a way of ending up looking like prophets.

Ah, well, but best I forget about Paul and other GOP gambits. Now we’re stuck with Trump and/or Clinton -- though some think Comey tried hisdarnedest to stealth-sink Clinton even as he was “exonerating” her. It‘s a complex world.

Law enforcers disappoint us at times (witness this animatedguide to cop-related killings, which is more educational than the selfie that Clinton-supporter Mischa Barton took showing herself in a bikini purportedly being sad about excessive police force). I do not quite qualify as a full-fledged anarchist in the traditional sense of the word, though, as I still prefer the orderly rule of law to chaos. Perhaps my all-time favorite instance of U.S. law having a long and long-delayed reach yet still being respected was the ratification of the constitutional amendment limiting congressional pay raises -- 202 years after it was proposed during the very first Congress, back in 1789. History will come for the real criminals eventually, and it’s sweet when it does.

In the meantime, to make clear I am no mere partisan, let me say clearly that cops get away with crimes, gangs get away with crimes, Clintons get away with crimes -- and similar groups overseas get away with even worse crimes. Be the kind of person who can be trusted to oppose all of it, consistently. And do check out that book of mine if you’re looking for a consistent set of principles to adopt.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Seavey Does Libertarianism Rockabilly Style

Celebrate July Fourth (at any time) the rockabilly way, by listening to me -- Todd Seavey, author of Libertarianism for Beginners -- interviewed by hosts Johnny Rocket, Heather Nixon, and Curt Nelson on the radio show Johnny Rocket Launch Pad. (From 44 minutes through 56 minutes in is the “lightning round” where you hear how quickly I can answer random questions, all the more reason to have me on your show/stage/campus/panel as well.)

You may also hear Cab Calloway, the Police, the Animals, Stray Cats, and Del Shannon, as I constantly do in my head. And yes, at 40 minutes in you’ll find my notorious and now recurring karaoke rendition of “Rainbow Connection.” I did Kermit for Gavin McInnes and Amy Schumer; it would be unfair not to do him for the legendary Johnny Rocket Launch Pad show.

P.S. Rock and roll addendum: you’ll also find me quoted about the David Bowie song “Oh! You Pretty Things” in this article by Robert Lurie on TheFederalist.

Friday, July 1, 2016

“Libertarianism for Later” by Todd Seavey on SpliceToday

In my final SpliceToday column (for now) after a full year of daily columns, I admit which parts of the contemporary libertarian movement I think are dumbest but also link to a fine Gary Johnson/William Weld 2016 campaign ad and to info on my appearance on the Johnny Rocket Launch Pad rockabilly libertarian radio show (on which I once more do “Rainbow Connection”).

Other cool things coming soon.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

“The Great Space Racism” by Todd Seavey on SpliceToday

From Star Trek’s Khan to Buck Rogers’ Kane to the Simpsons’ Kang, a lineage of racism has given us some fine science fiction, as I explain in today’s column.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

“Independence Day: Revisions” by Todd Seavey on SpliceToday

The pattern I’ve noted of Roland Emmerich’s film projects warning us that space aliens may be tied to climate change continues, even in a little bit of the spectacular-yet-slightly-bland Independence Day: Resurgence, as I write in today’s column.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

“Doomed Gatekeepers” by Todd Seavey on SpliceToday

For all its flaws, the twenty-first century is clearly an era in which no small handful of celebrities, politicians, or moguls can hope to maintain its monopoly on power for long, thank goodness, as I write in today’s column, optimistic even as new details on Michael Jackson’s crimes and politicians’ lies come to light.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

“Goofballs and Their Media” by Todd Seavey on SpliceToday

People will say dumb things, whether it’s Gersh Kuntzman fearing the experience of firing an AR-15 or NPR being baffled about why Venezuela’s economy is dying, but in today’s column I say I still prefer stupid squabbling to the impulse to censor.