Monday, July 16, 2012

Johnson, Obama, Romney, and Whedon

1. Gary Johnson

People are using the Twitter hashtag #BlackoutCNN today to urge CNN to include Gov. Gary Johnson in fall presidential debates.  He’s not only the Libertarian Party candidate and the man I plan to vote for – at the libertarian event FreedomFest, he was also referred to by my ex-boss Judge Andrew Napolitano as a man “whose sandal straps I am unworthy to fasten.”

2. Barack Obama

By contrast, Obama is now encouraging people to treat the election as a referendum on taxes and regulation, painting himself as the defender of these things.  And, of course, he wants to remind you that if you have a business, it’s not really yours.  Indeed, Ronald Radosh has been moved to argue with Milos Forman, defending the idea that Obama really is, roughly speaking, a socialist.  The fact he’s also a corporatist doesn’t change that. 

(I notice the Radosh piece has a stray line at the bottom that was meant to be a link to a story about Joss Whedon saying positive-sounding things about socialism at ComicCon, a politically-disappointing moment that should nonetheless surprise no one – more on Whedon below, though.)

3. Mitt Romney

Between Obama bashing business and Romney reportedly toying for a few days with the idea of arch-neocon Condi Rice as running mate, it’s almost like both major-party candidates are trying to avoid getting libertarian votes.  Well, fine, we have a perfectly respectable third option this year, whatever you may think about the relevance of the Libertarian Party in other years.  Looks like they – we – are on track to be spoilers this year, sending a message that must be loudly echoed by disappointed Republicans, disillusioned Democrats, intrigued Independents, and stirred-up Ron Paul fans for years to come. 

The Condi speculation was a particularly saddening sign that even after the Ron Paul 2012 campaign, the GOP has barely taken notice of libertarians.  If they had, they would know that – for good or ill – Condi is not merely a neutral figure to Ron Paul-style libertarians but a much-despised villain, a living reminder of military overreach in the Middle East and Bush-era emphasis on domestic security instead of markets.  Most Americans may need a reminder who she is.  Ron Paul-era libertarians remember, with hate.  I’m a bit more flexible than most of them, but I’m telling you, that’s how they feel.  Foolish to ignore it (mostly irrelevant, of course, if it’s going to be market-friendly but bland and weak-seeming Pawlenty). 

Look, for a decade I tried to get the mainstream conservatives and the libertarians on the same page when I could, but neither side wanted it.  Now Romney will probably be the one who suffers hardest because of it.  The libertarian vote, more than ever before, is there as a bloc to be claimed – but not by the likes of McCain in 2008, and only maybe by Romney (who is at least business-oriented) if he had done and said just the right things – but flirting with Condi is like having as your running mate a giant neon sign that says, “REMEMBER HOW LITTLE THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION CARED ABOUT LIBERTARIAN ISSUES?  WELL, THAT’S BACK, ESPECIALLY THE WAR PART!”

And no neon sign has ever won a presidential election.  (I am confident in making that generalization even if I’m not a political scientist or sociologist – but then, maybe those disciplines should be ended anyway, as suggested in this Freakonomics entry pointed out by Jacob Levy, who disagrees, at least with the polisci part.)

4. Joss Whedon

Rich Johnston on BleedingCool reports the following
from a San Diego ComicCon panel featuring Joss Whedon:

Joss was then asked to describe his economic philosophy in 30 seconds or less.  He responded that he was raised in Manhattan by people who thought socialism as a model was a beautiful concept.  Joss noted that we are now watching capitalism destroy itself.  Joss said that believes we’re creating a nation of serfs.  Since beginning of Reagan era, according to Joss, Americans’ ability to have a a goal and a life started to be taken away from them.  He indicated he was furious during e writers strike.  Joss thinks we are now in a political debate that isn’t democrats versus republicans or conservatives versus liberals.  Instead, it’s people who are trying to make it work because they remember personal dignity and people who have gone off the reservation and believe that (adopting Deliverance accent) “Jesus Christ came to America.”

I think that makes him vaguely pro-socialist and (perhaps inadvertently) vaguely anti-Mormon, so I suppose we can guess how he’s voting. 

But politics aside, I applaud his creative diversity – films of horror, Avengers, and (soon) Shakespeare all in one year, with hints he may next return to Dr. Horrible online musicals.  Like many a good strategist in Hollywood, he may just want to make clear to Disney that he’s busy enough that he doesn’t need to return to Avengers.  But you know – he really doesn’t need to return to Avengers.

Come to think of it: wouldn’t it be sorta cool if he lateraled and did Marvel’s 2014 film of Guardians of the Galaxy?  That might be even more up his alley (I’d like to hear his Rocket Raccoon dialogue).  In short, I support his next move regardless, I think.  I’ll forgive some of the duller bits of Doll House now (it had its moments). 

More about comics tomorrow – which may very well be the day that women’s studies major Whedon sees his Avengers movie strike a blow against nannyism by surpassing Mary Poppins in inflation-adjusted domestic box office, vaulting it into the top twenty-five movies of all time.  Congratulations (and take that, Poppins!).  

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