Saturday, September 18, 2010

Debbie Gibson, Dan Halloran, Carl Paladino, Will Wilkinson, God

•I met 80s pop star Debbie Gibson last night at an event celebrating the release of the documentary 3 Billion and Counting, about how the environmental movement killed tens of millions of people (and caused about 3 billion cases of illness) by getting the insecticide DDT banned and thus fostering the spread of malaria.

That’s not punk, but it’s an even more important topic (and something worth bringing up to the next fragile hippie girl — likely a folk music fan — who talks about the green movement as if it’s superior to Naziism). I did come out of the event with a cool “DDT” t-shirt that is both punkily badass and supportive of a good cause, not unlike the death’s head t-shirt I have that warns about the problem of landmines in Cambodia.

•Not every event combines scientific and economic reasoning in ways that are to my liking, of course: I am informed that today an event billed as Liberty Festival NYC is taking place from 3-11pm at Social Bar & Lounge (Eighth Ave. between 48th and 49th), full of libertarian and quasi-libertarian conservative speakers — including avowed pagan Republican city councilman Dan Halloran — but your twenty bucks cover charge goes to fight Ground Zero workers’ “9/11-related illnesses,” a category that has ballooned, like illnesses attributed to Agent Orange, to include every imaginary and unrelated malady to which any large cohort is vulnerable. Might still be a fun party, though.

•It’s exciting just to see that even in New York City, the believers in liberty are getting more open about it — something I suspected for a couple years just from the increased frequency with which I overhear anti-big-government conversations in bars and restaurants here, compared to a decade ago (and I mean bars and restaurants where the crowd wasn’t gathered by me).

•Likewise, the fact that a tough-talking anti-Albany firebrand, Carl Paladino, is now the Republican nominee for governor here is sort of exciting, even if he gets slaughtered by legacy loudmouth Andrew Cuomo in the general (and despite me knowing one or two people who worked for Paladino’s GOP rival Lazio). It’s exciting simply because I didn’t think New Yorkers had it in them to nominate such an ornery government-basher anymore.

From New York, sadly, I expect things more like the Daily News’s less-than-objective headline about Paladino’s primary victory, which was (roughly): “Meet Crazy Carl! Don’t Laugh — He Might Be Your Next Governor.” Yes, the Paladino campaign has been bizarrely amateurish and undiplomatic at times, but they did mass-e-mail this Buffalo News column that sums up why a bit of tactlessness perhaps shouldn’t matter at this juncture in New York government’s troubled history.

•As any movement broadens and becomes popular, I have long said, it’s bound to get a bit weirder and less ideologically consistent. You have to expect that. Indeed, it struck me years ago, after reading Paul Johnson’s History of the American People, that the first American Revolution, much as we all love it, resulted from such a feverish combo of quasi-libertarian, populist, and rabidly-religious sentiment (people thought King George was in league with Satan, etc.) that in a hypothetical second American Revolution, any movement urgent enough to get Americans off their sofas and out in the street railing against government spending would probably have to involve a certain amount of wild-eyedness.

Specifically, it occurred to me that tapping into explicit American Revolution imagery might be the only way to rouse complacent and statist-inclined New Englanders, my people before my move to New York, from their natural activities — leaf-raking, chowder consumption, and voting for Democrats. Now, everything seems to be going according to plan. Don’t expect it to be perfect. If it all works out slightly better than the Howard Stern campaign for New York governor in 1994, it’ll be a step forward, at least.

•Embracing imperfection means putting up with internal disagreements, of course, and on that front I hope Will Wilkinson will continue to accomplish great things even after reportedly having been scheduled to leave Cato this past week. I have my differences with the “liberaltarians,” but in the end, the only real enemy is government, and like various peoples of Middle Earth gathering against Mordor, we’ll need everything from paleos to liberaltarians in the fight ahead.

Speaking of Middle Earth, in fact, I just saw a cute dwarf couple in a new luchador-themed restaurant near my apartment, so maybe I should have recruited them, too. I wonder if they know Strong Bad.

•On the topic of people who are on my team but have some disagreements with me, I was not happy to see a prominent atheist writer (not Will) actually embracing the (false) view that without God there can be no morality — and he has the audacity to call his new, wholly amoral life philosophy “hard atheism.” Truth be told, though, the most self-consciously amoral person I’ve ever known well was religious, but that is a story for another time, my friends. In the meantime, I’ll just say, along with First Things blogger and former punk Sam Goldman (borrowing a slogan from Margaret Sanger, for good or ill): “No gods, no masters.”

•And speaking of atheists and apostate writers who don’t hew to the party line (of which, of course, we could use more, even at party-line magazines and thinktanks), Monday let us reflect upon Christopher Hitchens, for whom some kindhearted religious folk, knowing of his cancer, have declared September 20 a day of prayer. I was glad I got to see him — and get his autograph — before his illness cut his book tour for his memoir short a few months ago, and I hope he’ll still be with us and doing well in November, when that book, Hitch-22, will be one of my Book Selections of the Month. Pray for that outcome Monday, I guess, if you’re the sort who does that (and this weekend catch Freedom Watch, of course, on FBN).


Ali T. Kokmen said...

“80s Christian pop star turned regular pop star Debbie Gibson…”

Waitaminnit. When was Debbie Gibson a Christian pop star? I thought she started as a kid doing musical theatre/classical music choruses and that sort of thing…

Todd Seavey said...

I’ve now deleted that phrase. Not gonna lie to you. I got her confused with Amy Grant. She’s definitely not Tiffany, though. Sorry about that.

Ali T. Kokmen said...

If you’re prone to confuse Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, you probably want to straighten that out before the original SyFy network B-movie Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, starring them both. Surely, this is the pop-culture/pop-music apotheosis Generation X has been waiting for…