Friday, December 31, 2010

Conservatism for Punks: The Tea Party/Velvet Underground Connection

As the year ends, let me end on a note of triumph.  Anyone who doubts the potential for punk and conservatism to work together should be reminded that the wheel of punk/conservative time came full circle this year when proto-punk progenitor Moe Tucker of Velvet Underground was seen -- and interviewed -- at a Tea Party rally.

And with Jerry Brown back in the governor's mansion, "California Uber Alles" never quite stops being relevant either.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stopping to Give Thanks for John Carney

CNBC was relentless in attacking Austrian economics ideas and the gold standard over the past couple months -- except for contributor John Carney, a reminder that one man can make a difference.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rock Notes

•I finally saw Ric Ocasek on the street, outside a guitar shop.  Sort of looked like the supervillain the Scarecrow.  "Unsettling," as a friend of mine put it.  I have to admit I once walked into the same guitar shop because I thought I saw Lou Reed in there.  I don’t think it was Reed, but I am now more convinced that it’s probably a good guitar shop.

•Weird-looking as Ocasek might be, it was Ozzy Osbourne who was declared a mutant last month, with scientists pointing out genetic abnormalities that may explain his tolerance for dangerous substances.  I think this warrants a cameo in next year's X-Men: First Class.

•Ronald Radosh -- best known for writing articles about politics (such as this one criticizing Glenn Beck) is also a music aficionado, and he reviewed a new book about Dylan for The American Interest.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Centrist Reflections

If my Tea Party endorsement yesterday seemed too extreme, let us pause today to think of the moderates.  Ali Kokmen e-mails:

Perhaps of interest, Esquire magazine gathered a group of former senators -- Bill Bradley, Bob Packwood, Gary Hart, and John Danforth -- under the chairmanship of MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell to devise an actionable plan to balance the federal budget. Freed from the politics that has legistlators always worrying about re-election, they did just that. Interesting read for anyone economics- or pragmatics-minded:

(I'm most intrigued by the idea of "medical courts" as part of medical malpractice reform, similar to the way bankruptcies are adjucated in courts. Plus, of course, I'm glad that some mention was made of the idea of transitioning health care from its current fee-for-service system toward a pay-for-performance system.)

I open-mindedly draw attention to the discussion above even though it was chaired by Lawrence O'Donnell, whose show took the facile Todd-mocking position on the C-SPAN2 controversy -- but, again, my detractors will get theirs during my "Month of Haters" blog entries, starting Saturday. 

Meanwhile, Jonathan Funke asked readers of his centrist blog to rank legislators according to their moderation and ended up giving the nod mostly to Democrats.  Moderation is not inherently good, of course: 

•Chuck Blake reminds me that The Daily Show nicely skewered national energy policies as something endorsed by both parties in almost the same language, leading nowhere

•David Broder is a well-known, long-respected moderate who nonetheless wrote an insane article two months ago suggesting that Obama pull us out of recession by waging war against Iran.

•And the goofballs interviewed in this funny video no doubt they thought they were defending civil discourse when they reacted with outrage to suggestions Obama is a Keynesian.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tea Party Reflections

A note from Tea Party Caucus leader Rep. Michele Bachmann's Wikipedia page that makes me like her more:

[Of her realization she was a conservative, she] told the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune that she was reading Gore Vidal's 1973 novel, Burr: "He was kind of mocking the Founding Fathers and I just thought, I just remember reading the book, putting it in my lap, looking out the window and thinking, 'You know what? I don't think I am a Democrat. I must be a Republican.'"

You know, with O'Donnell, Angle, Miller, and Paladino defeated -- yet the Tea Party movement clearly having energized Republicans and helped them take back the House -- really no one from the whole center-right coalition should be complaining about the outcome of the elections.  The candidates who seemed most outrageous lost, like frontline sacrifices, while their party soldiered on to victory. 

(As for me, remember that I'm at the home of the original Tea Party, Boston, this week -- not to mention cat-sitting for Pagan Kennedy -- and so may be slow to respond to e-mail and the like.  Back on New Year's.  And anyone who thinks today Tea Partiers are unphilosophical dopes, remember that I've been to three and yet am happily attending the American Philosophical Association convention as you read this.  When I get back, barring conversion to Marxism, I will resume defending property rights.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gifts Wrap-Up

What did you get as gifts this year? 

•Diana Fleischman recently told me about the Bangladeshi government trying to get people to pay taxes out of the kindness of their hearts, hosting festivals to show off the things taxes can pay for, in a country where only about 1% of the population pay their income taxes.  That system doesn't sound half bad. 

•Paul Krugman got a new bra this year.

•On a related note, Diana also told me of Pink's video for "Raise Your Glass," in which lady tatas are treated like cow teats.  You may recall that I half-jokingly predicted a Lady Gaga lactation video before Gaga wore meat.  My prophecies continue to come semi-true. 

•And Gaga continues to be unimpressive, unless I just underestimate my own creative powers.  I think I could easily run the House of Gaga fashion ideas department (coming up with extra ideas just in time for the holiday shopping season): She'll have shoes -- but they'll look like foxtraps!  She'll have an octopus-themed tux -- with eight arms!  I could keep this up all day, people.  Apparently Gaga got Anderson Cooper drunk or something, by the way.

•A far cooler bit of innovative rock gadgetry is this van der Graaf generator-powered electric guitar and electrical-bolt-resisting guitar-playing suit, here used to perform not a Tesla song (nor a song by Van Der Graaf Generator) but "Iron Man."  Now that's rock n' roll [UPDATE: Dammit, video was taken down, but Black Sabbath performing the original is unstoppable].

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Brief Reminder That There Is No God

There's nothing admirable about intellectual dishonesty, and thus nothing admirable about religion, which all of us -- atheists and believers alike -- know is maintained solely through the refusal to ask certain questions and draw certain reasonable conclusions.  It's a consensual conspiracy of silence in free countries, a non-consensual conspiracy of silence in unfree countries (parts of the Middle East today, Europe in centuries past, etc.).  Both achieve the effect of limiting thought, not the best foundation for reaching the truth. 

It is as wrong -- and indeed deeply shameful, not to mention rude -- for adults to engage in the perpetuation of god myths (or lies, if you will) as it would be for adults to insist that their invisible unicorn friends are constantly at their side, and rare is the religious believer smart enough to recognize that trotting out a list of emotional and moral rewards that will purportedly flow from holding such beliefs is hardly a reason to be less skeptical about the truth of those beliefs.  Too often, religious believers think they're making a strong case for the existence of God by saying, "But if there weren't a God, I'd go off my meds, start drinking alcohol again, beat up the neighbor kids, be unable to think of a reason to go on living, simultaneously be paralyzed by fear of death..."  And all this is supposed to make the believer a more credible witness?  Embarrassing.  Irresponsible.  Juvenile.  And manifestly evil.  A sane society does not build its morality upon foundations -- or psyches -- that shaky. 

Luckily, we have things like the controversial atheist billboard at the Lincoln Tunnel to remind us how easily religion's superstructure of lies is rattled and how quickly its defenders get nervous.  Ricky Gervais' recent summary of his atheist views in Wall Street Journal (pointed out to me by Ali Kokmen) doesn't hurt either.  About the staging of a Klingon version of A Christmas Carol (pointed out to me by Chuck Blake) I will reserve judgment, though.

And let no one doubt that all the good things religious people are trained to attribute to their religions (their fictional God continually hogging the credit for things) can just as easily be done by atheists.  By sheer coincidence, just hours before I hosted a debate on the moral effects of religion, I once found myself helping a retarded blind person across the street, whereas I would imagine many religious people would think I should logically have been engaged in cannibalism.  (I helped get medical attention for a reluctant homeless person recently, though, and was inclined by that experience to conclude that aiding the homeless is one of the most meaningless and unsatisfying things a person can do.  That may be a debate unrelated to religion, though.) 

With a sort of repressed self-loathing, religious believers often like to point out that the non-religious

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ten Nerd Things Before Christmas

•I don't know what you're getting for Christmas, but thanks to Bretigne Shaffer, I am now the proud owner of a foam space alien head from the actual set of X-Files: Fight the Future.  (It's sitting on a shelf above my refrigerator, next to a plaster head of Laocoon, the guy in Greek mythology who was killed, along with his sons, by snakes.) 

•At the risk of sounding insufficiently geeky, I would bet that we will never encounter any actual extraterrestrial life during my lifetime, but at least NASA found some microbes on Earth who like arsenic recently, so that'll have to do, I guess. 

•I will not be traveling to other planets between today and New Year's but will be in New England -- in part to attend the American Philosophical Association convention -- so bear with me if I'm out of touch during that time, though I expect to see e-mail occasionally.

•I was saddened during my blog's hibernation to hear of the passing of Irving Kirshner, director of what many regard as the best Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back.  I used to share their view, but I have belatedly come to think A New Hope is obviously the best, since it alone forms a perfect, self-contained fairy tale with a nice story arc one need not be an obsessive geek to care about -- and ends with the Death Star trench sequence, perhaps the best sequence in film history.  Boba Fett is wonderful but can't compare.  (And, though it barely needs restating, if we had all simply died after the Jabba sequence in Return of the Jedi, in retrospect we would have been spared decades of pain.)

•A film that strikes me as looking less child-friendly -- indeed, that looks like it may be the most child-traumatizing film since Silent Night, Deadly Night -- is Rare Exports, about the monstrous "real" Santa Claus being discovered and horror ensuing.  Nice.

•Not technically written by children -- but sounding almost as if it were -- is the recent Marvel Comics miniseries World War Hulks, at least if the unintentionally hilarious Wikipedia description of it is any indication.  Just in case the Plot Summary section gets edited, here's the first sentence of the entry as it was when I saw it: "While in a fantasy world where Bruce killed the Hulk and the smart heroes joined the smart villians [sic] in a machine to help the world and where General Thunderbolt Ross is still alive, Bruce is visited by Doctor Doom who gives him a robot arm."  Of course.  Of course.

•I kid Hulk because I love (and I recognize that he has accomplished a great deal for someone with his mental handicaps) -- and I note that the 28th will be the eighty-eighth birthday of Stan Lee.  Excelsior. 

•In other comics news (not that I collect them any more, you understand), I am alarmed to hear that Superman has now been referred to as a defender of "truth, justice, and all" not only in the most recent film but in the comics themselves -- and on Smallville has been referred to as a defender of "truth, justice, and the universal way."  Universal way??  Isn't that almost a contradiction in terms?  Why not just change his Kryptonian name to What-Ev while we're at it? 

•For a more concrete and local conception of justice -- street justice, baby -- I highly recommend the recent blaxploitation-parodying film Black Dynamite, pointed out to me by former DC Comics staffer Ivan Cohen.  A line about attacking the bad guys' HQ from one of the deleted scenes on the DVD: "Chart a course, brothers.  We gonna turn an island that's not supposed to be there but is into an island that's supposed to be there but isn't...anymore.  Yeah."

•I wonder if that Spanish woman who raises vexing property issues by claiming to own the sun would consider giving it away for Christmas?  Wasn't this a Simpsons episode almost?  Ever since they crawled out of the caves, Spanish women have been dreaming of owning the sun.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book Selections of the Month: Hitchens, Ridley, Narnia, and More

Ten recent or recently-pondered texts have left me with England and/or industrial progress on the brain:

•Christopher Hitchens' highly entertaining memoir Hitch-22 contains, I think, numerous veiled hints that he is capable of deceiving himself and others -- "keeping two sets of books," as he says more than once, though I do not doubt any substantive details of the tome.  Rather, it seems that he's long been suspicious of his own motivations. 

He's moved sort-of rightward politically while clearly still loving his leftist past and most of his old allies (though he never thought highly of Bill Clinton in their Oxford days -- and he mentions that a note he jotted by the phone at someone's apartment in those days saying "RING IRA," meaning hippie-era Brown alum and Clinton ally Ira Magaziner, led to some questioning by police worried about possible Irish terrorism links).  He may be hinting at an attraction to sadomasochism when he laments his early introduction via cruel British boys' schools to the strange connection between pain and pleasure (he's the man who correctly predicted that British conservative Paul Johnson would be found to be a sadomasochist, which I had taken to be disapproval, but he may still have been spotting one of his own -- and he admits at one point that O is one of his favorite fictional characters). 

Atheism alone does not a leftist make, obviously, but Hitchens, despite his increasing acceptance on the right, does take the time to denounce religious social conservatives, especially hypocritical ones, as in my favorite footnote in the book: "[W]henever I hear some bigmouth in Washington or the Christian heartland banging on about the evils of sodomy or whatever, I mentally enter his name in my notebook and contentedly set my watch.  Sooner rather than later, he will be discovered down on his weary and well-worn old knees in some dreary motel or latrine, with an expired Visa card, having tried to pay well over the odds to be peed upon by some Apache transvestite."

He surprised me with his two-page defense against charges of alcoholism, a defense that frankly is not all that convincing and is built largely around his assurance that he can stick to a regimen (one mid-morning drink, wine with lunch, no drinks in the afternoon, at least a half bottle of wine with dinner, and then drinks in the evening if conversation warrants -- but he gets a lot of work done, he stresses).  He also notes he is not fascinated by lesbianism or sports, but I think he's spent enough time in war zones to earn his traditional-male credentials anyway, even with his frequent references to slight bisexuality in youth. 

Unless you oppose humor, politics, history, and well-turned phrases, you'll have to read this book and follow Hitchens through his disillusioning trip to Cuba as a young socialist, his father's sound effects-based comedy routines, his literal spanking by Margaret Thatcher, his visits to authoritarian hellholes blessed by communists and Catholics alike, his discovery that he's Jewish, and his growing love affair with the U.S., where he now lives (for some time to come, we hope). 

As he describes his mutating and sometimes disappointing friendships with leftist intellectuals such as Edward Said, one interesting point he makes by way of defending his contact with neoconservatives is that, regardless of what one thinks of their handling of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the thinking of the neocons is not a mere continuation of the amoral foreign policy pragmatism of figures such as Henry Kissinger, of whom Hitchens has written harsh condemnations.  On the contrary, the neocons were really engaged in the moralization of a foreign policy long guided by mere national self-interest, elevating global concerns such as freedom and universal human rights in a way that greatly encouraged some of Hitchens' long-suffering pro-democracy colleagues in Iraq. 

You can question the practicality of military intervention but whether you are a neocon, libertarian, or Trotskyite, you should not fall into the leftist cultural-relativist trap of thinking that morality and rights stop at our own border.  Hitchens is too cosmopolitan to make that mistake.  He also mentions a Turkish joke, suitably creepy coming from the society that exterminated so many Armenians, which I think nicely captures the coldbloodedness of thinking that the murderous things a society does to its own members are merely an "internal affair": What did the trees say when the axe entered the forest?  At least the handle is one of us. 

•The fact that Hitchens' memoir (early on) features strange goings-on at school and frequent references to British class anxiety (which helped make him a Marxist) compensates somewhat for the lack of these things in the latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I, by the way.  I've never been a fanatical Potter fan -- I haven't read the later books -- but I've seen all the movies, and while it's neat that they get more "serious" and venture out into the real world as they go along, I missed

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blog n' Books

Thank you to everyone who inquired about the blog while it was down for two months -- with me juggling Fox changes and then post-Fox changes as well as heightened media attention -- and as you can see, you didn't miss any entries between Oct. 19 and Dec. 17. 

I do owe you some extra book-related notes for skipping November's Book of the Month entry, though, so on to Christopher Hitchens, Matt Ridley, the British industrial revolution, and more, tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What I'll Do for My Winter Vacation (also: odors)

One week from today, after a couple days in Connecticut with the parents, I'll be in Boston, not only visiting my (disproportionately libertarian) comedy-writing colleagues from college -- and catsitting -- but springing for the non-member admission fee to attend the four-day major annual conference of academic philosophers, the American Philosophical Association.  Other people vacation in Maui.  I attend philosophy conferences. 

It won't all be mind/body dualism or the problem of the speckled hen, either, because subsidiary gatherings will include meetings of the Ayn Rand Society and the (Austrian School economics-oriented) Molinari Society, so I have to show my support for those (the latter featuring the unfortunately-named libertarian feminists Rod Long and Charles Johnson, previously noted on this site).  I'll also see my former philosophy professor (from her Brown days, before Chicago) Martha Nussbaum, defending her book From Disgust to Humanity against a panel of critics.  It's about doing what's right even when it seems icky (long story short).

I am tempted to ask whether she thinks Leon Kass, the bioethicist who believes we should see disgust reactions as a moral guide (leading many people away from gays and biotech, for example), could be duped by an extremely rank act of flatulence into thinking he was in the presence of pure evil.  (This is slightly different than the question George once raised on Seinfeld about whether an odor on the subway could actually kill, assuming the subway smell lacks agency.)  Even public ice cream-licking apparently revolts Kass, so I can't imagine smelly people would fare well under a Kassian regime. 

If you're in Boston, have miraculously already noticed my blog's back up, and want to attempt a rally, just e-mail.  Otherwise, I will report my findings by blog -- or possibly Twitter (coming soon).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Neutron Bombs and Net Neutrality

Tonight, a toast to the inventor of the neutron bomb, recently deceased Sam Cohen!  Where, you ask?  Well, now that I'm not hosting Debates at Lolita Bar, you might consider attending the (unrelated) Manhattans Project bar gatherings I host -- more drinking, less listening -- now at Langan's bar-restaurant (on 47th just east of 7th, 7-10pm in the back).  Don't get me wrong, the Manhattans Project is more about alcohol than nukes, but if someone from the group that inspired our name passes away, we can at least show our respects.  We can't be any more sarcastic about it than Jello Biafra, who sang "Efficiency and progress is ours once more/ Now that we have the neutron bomb."

Speaking of rock and nukes, I have only recently learned that another influential mid-century physicist, Max Born, has a famous granddaughter as well: Olivia Newton-John.  So, all those "Olivia Neutron-Bomb" puns I recall from childhood weren't so far off the mark (and even if they were, the extra radiation would kill people without destroying the buildings).  Let's get physics-al!  Never mind.  By the way, sixty-two is barely old these days, but I must nonetheless say that Newton-John is holding up well, having started off with the unfair advantage of being the cutest person on the planet thirty years ago.

I learned of the Born/Newton-John connection from one of my Book Selections of the Month, incidentally: my signed copy (signed just before health problems forced him to end his book tour) of Christopher Hitchens' memoir Hitch-22.  More about that and several other texts in three days. 

And speaking of people who style themselves "contrarians," as Hitchens does, tonight is the final just-hanging-out Manhattans Project gathering before a bold new era begins, with January 17 seeing the start of a "Contrarian Guest of Honor" slot each month.  If my plan works, we'll hear uninterrupted for about five minutes from one person with shocking views each month, and then let people talk to the speaker or amongst themselves about those shocking views or whatever they like.  It's a conversation starter, anyway.  The January topic is likely to be the argument that we are still in terrible danger from global warming. 

All people interested in politics and/or media are welcome, so this may also be the start of increased ideological diversity for our little group, for good or ill.  If the mix shifts leftward far enough, though, the contrarian speeches can be conservative, so it's all good.  E-mail me at the address on my About/CONTACT page if you want monthly alerts about Manhattans Project in 2011. 

If you want to be against something, though, I recommend pushing hard against the stupid idea of "Net neutrality," of which the lame-duck Dems are now enamored.  Look, the reason big communications groups are starting to like the idea of outlawing differential pricing based on usage of the Net -- while ordinary joes like the Tea Party activists want pricing to be allowed -- is that despite all the claims of the pro-neutrality forces to be keeping the Net "free," what's going to happen is that you, the ordinary joe, are going to end up paying exactly the same amount to send your one e-mail per hour as the bandwidth-hogging business down the blog block or your geeky neighbor who downloads 5,000 bootlegged TV shows per day.  That's "neutral," all right -- like saying that you should pay the same annual "diamond tiara purchasing fee" as members of the Monaco royal family.  Let people pay what they actually owe.  Dragging us all down together is cyber-communism, and let no technically-savvy but economically-ignorant geek leftist tell you otherwise.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2010: The Year We Make Contracts (with special guest star Leslie Nielsen)

Many things changed near-simultaneously over the past several months (including the production schedule of a certain TV show), and it proved easiest to take down while sorting them out.  But in the end, here are ones worth noting:

•After getting the chance to work on a Tea Party-friendly TV show during its transition from an online show to a weekly cable show and now to a daily cable show -- at a very exciting time for such a thing, what with the historic mid-term elections -- I have now left Fox's FreedomWatch to do freelance and ghostwriting stuff that for the most part I won't mention on this site (sorry).

•I largely ignored press inquiries (including ones from Fox shows, which was weird) about my October appearance sparring with an ex on C-SPAN2, and (merciful person that I am) I don't plan to go into any greater detail about all that (nor to respond to any further press inquiries on that topic if they occur, though I think that's unlikely).  However, as a former philosophy student, I am (for good or ill) sometimes more fascinated by my critics than by my far larger legion of loyal supporters, so (almost without naming the original target of my C-SPAN2 comments and without revealing more than the quite-tiny glimpse of her life and psyche I already brought to light in those artfully circumspect comments) I do plan to make January on this blog a "Month of Haters" in which I examine the minds of my online detractors.  So there's something to look forward to, right?

•I hope to add more social media to the mix within the next couple weeks, at long last.

•I won't be organizing Debates at Lolita Bar, at least not for now or in their old form and maybe not at all, for various reasons involving time, creative differences, etc., etc.  However, I'll still be organizing the unrelated monthly bar gatherings called the Manhattans Project -- which in fact meets at Langan's tomorrow night (Mon., Dec. 20, 7-10pm).  More about changes in those events tomorrow. 

And while I was juggling media stuff, bar gatherings, and election news, one of my favorite conservatives passed away last month, I should pause to say: Leslie Nielsen.  He was one of the funniest men ever to appear on film -- and Airplane! proves that even uttering a superficially dead-serious line of dialogue, he cannot help but generate an anticipatory smile on the face of the viewer.  He may have been the best deliverer of deadpan we have ever seen and an inspiration to people who like their humor simultaneously dry and ridiculous.  (I even saw his mediocre final film, the heavy-handedly conservative Zucker comedy An American Carol -- on a date, as I recall.)

He was beloved, but not enough people remember that he did a fine job as the wholly-serious sci-fi hero in the 1950s film Forbidden Planet (which some may be tempted to rent for camp value, only to discover that it's a genuinely excellent film that holds up perfectly well a half-century on -- and a more respected variation on The Tempest than Julie Taymor's new film with the lovely and sometimes gun-toting Helen Mirren, alas). 

People should also recall -- or discover -- that Nielsen starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom Police Squad! before that spawned the Naked Gun movies (the movies featured Priscilla Presley, who reminisces about Nielsen in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, and featured O.J. Simpson, presciently depicted as a man caught up in a murder plot at one point).  I would argue the show was even funnier than the films, leaving us with countless surreal moments such as Nielsen, as homicide detective Lt. Frank Drebin, launching into a sad reverie about his long-ago gay lover, concluding with the line "They ran him out of town like a common pygmy."  But then, check out some choice Drebin quotes for yourself.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rocking with the Judge

I'll keep my comments about the vital libertarian TV show FreedomWatch (now daily at 8pm Eastern on Fox Business Network, with host Judge Andrew Napolitano) to a minimum after today, since I don't want to imply that I'm still an official part of the team.  (I left for more money and creative flexibility just a couple weeks ago, freelancing and ghosting for clients who shall remain nameless, as if my year hadn't seen enough upheavals.)  I must at least note, though, as I look back upon my time with the show, the Top Five Cases of FreedomWatch Literally Rocking:

5.  Guest Gene Simmons, complete with the caption "Tea Party Ev-er-y Day"

4.  A Department of Transportation safety story with the caption "Here in my car, I feel safest of all" (inspired, of course, by pale, libertarian, Asperger's-suffering, sci-fi-influenced New Wave musician Gary Numan, which is to say, a near-perfect human being)

3.  Guest Kurt Loder of MTV News (who I went on to bump into two more times in about a two-week period, oddly enough, once coming out of a movie and once at last week's Reason-hosted, Weimar-like event at the burlesque club the Box, which featured more libertarians and fellow-travelers than you can shake a stick at -- including S.E. Cupp, Megan McArdle, NR's Kevin Williamson, and Greg Gutfeld, the man whose insightful words are now my blog epigram -- though for some mysterious reason Gawker decided to depict the event with photos of cute, scantily-clad female performers; the guest of honor, pornographer John "Buttman" Stagliano, had, honest to gosh, just won a heroic courtroom victory for free speech after an attempt to censor his film Milk Nymphos, leading to the "community standards" litmus test essentially being ruled obsolete, an important chapter in the anals of First Amendment law)

2.  Guest (and ex-MTV VJ) Kennedy -- who was not only on the same week as Loder but was on the same week I met Palin and saw my skeptical hero and inspiration James Randi speak at the New York Academy of Sciences (perhaps Kennedy should set to music her poem "Fishy fishy in the sewer/ How many doggies did manure?")

1.  Guests the Sons of Liberty actually singing rock songs about the Constitution.

Speaking of FreedomWatch guests, I should note in reply to one reader comment yesterday that while

Friday, December 17, 2010

Two Months Later...

As some of you know, since my last blog entry, two months ago, I've been helping to draw media attention to a loose woman who thinks pale, blonde, libertarian guys and Australians are sexy. 

I mean, of course, Tracy Quan, the call girl turned Daily Beast columnist (and 3 Quarks Daily semifinalist), who appeared on FreedomWatch while I worked for that show -- and who has now declared libertarianism-influenced, Australian political hacker Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, dangerously sexy (and I HEREBY DECLARE JULIAN ASSANGE THE TODDSEAVEY.COM MAN OF THE YEAR).  Quan notes that Jonah Goldberg almost sounds like he wants Assange dead for his leaking (info-wise, not condom-wise).  Given my purported resemblance to Assange (see photo #4 in the column about him linked above, for instance), I'd better duck Jonah for safety's sake until this scandal blows over.  (Speaking of political look-alikes: was it a bad sign, in retrospect, that Carl Paladino looks like his fellow offbeat Republican Dennis Hopper?)

Nowadays, I only know what I hear from the guests themselves or indirect sources, like any ordinary civilian, but I think you can catch Quan on FreedomWatch again this coming Monday (Dec. 20, 8pm Eastern, Fox Business Network), along with my friend Michael Malice, both of them talking about their body issues, by which I mean defending the legal right to do with your body as you choose, whether it's prostitution or "ultimate fighting" (about which Malice co-wrote a bestselling book).  Tonight's FreedomWatch sounds good, too: an hour-long talk with editors from Reason about the definition of libertarianism. 


And speaking of people who were on FreedomWatch while I was working there: yes, that's really Sarah Palin next to me in the photo above.  Plainly, I have upgraded to a whole new class of conservative female since my last entry.  (Much has changed for the better in the past two months, gentle reader.  Keep reading in the days ahead as I explain -- and as I resume cleaning up and enhancing this site.)  But if Palin isn't ideologically pure enough for you -- and if Christmas strikes you as an assault upon rationality -- click here and scroll down to see a photo of Dagny Taggart herself, standing on train tracks, from the upcoming film Atlas Shrugged: Part One.  In theatres April 15.  Really.  (And if you need something more nihilistically anarchist, Dimitri Cavalli draws my attention to the V for Vendetta symbol plainly visible in this week's footage of a suicidal -- and failed homicidal -- gunman in Florida.  Peaceful solutions, people, please.  And Dimitri himself may be Catholic but is not the Guy Fawkes type, I'm pretty sure.)

I'll begin giving more details tomorrow, but the past two months have given me chances to chat not only with Palin but also Kurt Loder, ex-VJ Kennedy, S.E. Cupp, NYPost crime reporter Phil Messing, parade-loving libertarian campaign advisor Roger Stone, and many more -- and to attend events such as a debate over Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs featuring Richard Sennett and Roberta Brandes Gratz (on the same night that I saw Pretty in Pink star Andy McCarthy hanging out at Lolita Bar, in fact), about which, more next week. 

Good times -- though the Palin FreedomWatch appearance shown above (during which she looked lovely in a black dress falsely identified as a tank top by HuffingtonPost) did make me nervous at one point: when host Judge Napolitano asked Palin if she shared Orwell's fear of new-fangled words deployed for political purposes.  I'd swear I detected just a hint of fear in her face, as though she were about to be asked about neologisms such as "refudiated" instead of terms such as "quantitative easing."  But she was stellar anyway -- and I dare think she's getting more libertarian as time goes by. 

Here's hoping the whole world does, starting with the maybe-redeemable Republican Party (that's why Human Rights Day last week saw me attending a dinner featuring libertarian Republican Gary Johnson, as I will again after I speak at the Republican Liberty Caucus on Feb. 12 -- but this mission to liberate the planet is just getting started, so I'll say more tomorrow and on many days thereafter).