Electoral Race

Just saw Rand Paul on Rachel Maddow’s show doing a not very good job of explaining his opposition to anti-discrimination laws.

Rand Paul

Paul did make a few good points – like the one about how the liberal case for forcibly desegregating private restaurants backfires by bolstering the conservative policy of forbidding private restaurants to ban guns – but obviously thought their application to the issue was so obvious that he didn’t explain that application clearly enough for viewers new to such ideas to grasp. (I’m not even sure that Maddow understood that Paul was against forbidding private restaurants to ban guns.)

Paul seemed like he was evading the issue, because he was. Saying that the north has been desegregated since the 1840s was ludicrous; and calling civil rights legislation an obscure issue from a long time ago was like putting a gun to his head (presumably in a consenting restaurant).

I’m not interested in giving Paul any advice, exactly; since seeing this video I don’t even feel like giving him the kind of well-wishing non-support I gave his father. All the same, what Paul should have done is to argue that voluntary efforts at fighting discrimination are more effective than governmental efforts.

But to do that, Paul would have had to talk about a) the indirect (not just the direct) discriminatory effects of government policies, and b) the nonviolent means of fighting discrimination. (And I’m not even talking about the possibility of raising Rothbardian doubts about the legitimate property titles of the segregated businesses of the south. Baby steps, etc.) But he said nothing about either (a) or (b), and I suspect hasn’t thought much about them.

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43 Responses to Electoral Race

  1. Brandon May 19, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    Chromium 6.0.409.0 Linux

    This reminds me of how the first generation Kennedy scions disagreed profoundly with the patriarch about many political and economic issues, but generally agreed with each other.

    I wonder if Paul is just pandering to typical right-wingers or if he really disagrees with his dad about foreign policy issues to this alarming degree. Still, if he wins, he’d probably be the best senator in these united states.

  2. Anon73 May 19, 2010 at 11:00 pm #

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    I don’t even feel like giving him the kind of well-wishing non-support I gave his father.

    Call me crazy but given how Ron Paul probably received “well-wishing non-support” I doubt his son will be devastated by your reaction. ;)

    • Roderick May 19, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

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      Are you kidding? He was desolated. That’s when he started wearing the black armband (underneath, you know, his regular sleeve).

  3. dennis May 19, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

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    Even many LRC commentators are less than thrilled with Rand Paul.

  4. Kevin Carson May 19, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

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    All the time he was talking to her about private discrimination, I was thinking of things like the Imolakee Indian Workers’ boycott of Taco Bell, the Wal-Mart Workers’ Association pickets, Frank Kernaghan vs. Kathie Lee Gifford, the global support network for the Zapatistas, etc. If it had been me, I’d have stressed the hell out of such examples of using public opinion like a magnifying glass on an anthill. Of course Paul probably isn’t real sympathetic to any of those efforts.

    • Rad Geek May 20, 2010 at 1:59 am #

      Chrome 4.1.249.1064 Windows XP

      Personally, I was thinking of Diane Nash, the NSM, SNCC, and the lunch-counter sit-ins. And getting progressively more angry (at both Maddow and Paul) every time she brought them up, and he meandered about a stupid gun rights case rather than pointing out that the lunch-counter sit-ins are a perfect example of non-governmental, grassroots victories against segregation in private businesses. The first big wave of sit-ins started in 1960 and the students repeatedly won the campaigns years before federal intervention was even legally possible. Greensboro’s Woolworth’s was desegregated in July 1960; the Nashville students had already gotten all the downtown merchants in the city to desegregate in May. Because the sit-ins demonstrated, without the help of Federal antidiscrimination bureaucrats, that segregation was immoral and socially unsustainable.

      If they sat around waiting for Title II to come along, they would have been waiting 4 more years. Actually, they would have been waiting a lot longer than that, because a greasy racist fuck like LBJ never would have gone for anything like the Civil Rights Act, except for the fact that the cresting social movement, of which the sit-ins were one of the most effective examples, politically cornered him into doing so.

      If Rand Paul were capable of answering a question honestly and forthrightly, it would be easy to point out that the sit-ins are a perfect example of what anti-racist libertarians ought to be for; and that invoking the sit-in movement while taking credit away from them and pretending like the federal government somehow gave them the Civil Rights that they bled and died to take for themselves, is an insult to the sit-in movement.

      Of course, Rand Paul’s not capable of answering a question honestly and forthrightly; as a political candidate, he answers questions politically.

      • MBH May 20, 2010 at 4:14 am #

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        If they sat around waiting for Title II to come along, they would have been waiting 4 more years.

        Members of the sit-in movement might argue that they didn’t want to sit around until they magnified every single piece of racist private property. They were pleased with the Civil Rights Act.

      • Mike D. May 20, 2010 at 8:59 am #

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        I’m sure you have a well articulated answer for this already, Charles, but can you explain how sit-ins were not trespassing, and did not violate the NAP?

        • Anon73 May 20, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

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          I’m sure some of the sit-ins violated private property, but a lot of these businesses are “serve anybody” businesses, so there’s technically nothing wrong with each individual going in there and sitting down if the owner doesn’t tell them to leave. Maybe Charles can provide some background information on how the sit-ins were organized and implemented?

        • Mike May 20, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

          MSIE 8.0 Windows XP

          I can’t answer for someone else. But I so think the sit ins did violate private property, and I would still justify it by quoting MLK:

          In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

        • Roderick May 20, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

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          Mike D.:

          Charles, but can you explain how sit-ins were not trespassing, and did not violate the NAP?

          Charles can answer for himself, but for myself I would raise the issues I referred to in passing as “Rothbardian doubts about the legitimate property titles of the segregated businesses of the south.” The distribution of property in, e.g., North Carolina was the result of systematic government intervention on behalf of whites at the expense of blacks — not just during slavery but for a hundred years thereafter. I’d say this left blacks with some credible claims against white property.

          Of course I didn’t expect a Rand Paul to make that point. But there are more coherent things he could have said even short of making that point.

          Anon73:

          so there’s technically nothing wrong with each individual going in there and sitting down if the owner doesn’t tell them to leave.

          The (nominal) owners certainly did tell them to leave.

          Mike (non-D., quoting MLK):

          In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.

          If a law is just, then it is wrong to disobey it, even if one is willing to accept the penalty. (Being willing to accept the penalty doesn’t make it ok to commit murder, for example.) But if a law is unjust, then I see absolutely nothing wrong with “evading or defying” it. (Did runaway slaves, or the escapees from Sobibor, have an obligation to do so “openly,” and turn themselves in to “accept the penalty”?) If evading or defying unjust laws “would lead to anarchy” — well, as an anarchist I have a hard time shuddering at that prospect.

        • Rad Geek May 21, 2010 at 1:25 am #

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          Mike D:

          I’m sure you have a well articulated answer for this already, Charles, but can you explain how sit-ins were not trespassing, and did not violate the NAP?

          Well, what Roderick said.

          But also, even if we bracket the question about the legitimacy of ownership, I think that there’s a good case to be made that sit-ins are a legitimate form of social protest. There’s a long, complicated story about the various different moments of what was going on in a sit-in protest, and how this affects the rights of each of the parties concerned (business-owner, sit-in protestor, and the police called in to haul them off), all of which I’d like to take the time to work out in more detail, but for now, the tentative, short version is that I think what the sitters-in did was a form of de minimis trespass, like shoving ads under someone’s windshield wiper or smuggling your own gummi bears into a movie theater, which doesn’t count as an invasion of the rights of the owner unless you go on to use physical force to try to stay when the owner tries to make you leave.

          No matter what the form of trespass, the owner of the property has a right to demand that they leave, and they have a right to have the protestors forcibly removed (within limits of proportionality) if they won’t. But if the protestors aren’t causing any lasting damage to the facilities, aren’t trying to physically fight the owners or the police in order to stay where they are, etc., then I don’t think that there is any act of force that would give the owners a claim for anything beyond the simple removal of the protestor from the scene. So my view is that sit-in protestors weren’t violating rights or moral duties by sitting down, and that lunch-counter owners weren’t violating rights by evicting them, but were violating a moral duty (while evicting was within their rights, what they ought to have done is to take the opportunity to abandon their stupid racist lunch-counter policy).

          If the form of intrusion on the business’s property were more intrusive or destructive (e.g. by barging into closed shops or doing some kind of physical damage to the property or by physically blocking other patrons from sitting at the counter, or what have you), then my judgment on the matter might change. Of course, that wouldn’t change my view of the rest of the social movement (e.g. the organized boycotts and public pressure campaigns) that surrounded the sit-in movement.

        • Rad Geek May 21, 2010 at 1:36 am #

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          Besides movie theaters and windshield annoyances, I also ought to mention sitting in on APA talks without having paid the registration fee for the conference.

          Also, in my previous comment I meant to add: whether you’re raising the Rothbardian worry that Roderick raises, or the kind of worry that I mentioned in my comments will have some effect on what you can say about the choice of tactics. If the considerations have to do with the claims created, or not created, by a de minimis trespass, then it matters that the students in the sit-in movement maintained disciplined nonviolence (e.g., they went limp when the cops came to pull them away; they didn’t try to fight with the owners in order to stay). If you’re appealing to the Rothbardian considerations (which I think are also legitimate, although I bracketed them for the sake of discussion), it’s not clear that even matters. If the nominal owner is not a real owner, and has no right to evict, then the protestors would have a right to physically fight off attempts to force them out. Make of that whatever you will.

        • martin May 21, 2010 at 6:40 am #

          Opera 10.53 Windows XP

          Roderick,

          Charles can answer for himself, but for myself I would raise the issues I referred to in passing as “Rothbardian doubts about the legitimate property titles of the segregated businesses of the south.” The distribution of property in, e.g., North Carolina was the result of systematic government intervention on behalf of whites at the expense of blacks — not just during slavery but for a hundred years thereafter. I’d say this left blacks with some credible claims against white property.

          Come on… does the distribution of property on behalf of philosophy professors at the expense of blacks in Alabama give those blacks a right to have a sit-ins in those professors’ living rooms?

        • Roderick May 21, 2010 at 8:09 am #

          Safari MacIntosh

          You really think that’s comparable to the virtual slavery of Jim Crow?

        • Mike D. May 21, 2010 at 8:10 am #

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          Roderick,

          Regarding the legitimacy of property owners in the Jim Crow south, I can certainly see a case being made for, say, former slave plantations and nominally “public” institutions like buses and libraries, but to extrapolate from that that private (perhaps nominally private) lunch counters are not legitimately owned by their occupiers would, I think, require stronger empirical evidence. I’m not saying the argument is false, necessarily, just that I don’t think I’ve really seen it presented yet.

          Charles,

          I’m not sure I buy the argument that de minimis trespass does not constitute a rights violation unless physical force is used in resistance. Simply staying put when the owner has made it clear he or she wished you to leave seems to me to be sufficient to constitute a violation, though I admit I need to think more on the matter. In any case, I obviously agree with your sympathies toward other, less invasive manners of direct action.

        • martin May 21, 2010 at 8:29 am #

          Opera 10.53 Windows XP

          Roderick

          You really think that’s comparable to the virtual slavery of Jim Crow?

          No, I think paying for philosophy professors by taxes makes for a better claim against those professors as Jim Crow laws make for claims against owners of lunch counters. See also Mike D.’s comment.

        • Roderick May 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

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          a) The relation between any particular taxpayer and any particular tax-recipient is rather vague — especially when both are taxpayers. When a clearly identifiable group is being systematically oppressed for the benefit of distinct clearly identifiable group, that’s a lot less vague.

          b) Plus, what one has a claim to goes up to the extent that the oppression involves more than just the extraction of money. The property system of the Jim Crow south was more like a prison for blacks than it was a mere robber of blacks.

        • Rad Geek May 23, 2010 at 1:16 am #

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          Mike D.:

          Simply staying put when the owner has made it clear he or she wished you to leave seems to me to be sufficient to constitute a violation, though I admit I need to think more on the matter.

          Well, I’ve held the same position as you on de minimis trespass before, so I’m sympathetic to the worry, although I’m no longer persuaded by it.

          Would help to think about some concrete cases? For example, do you think that people who slip into talks at conferences (say, the APA) without paying the registration fee are violating the rights of the conference organizers (who have stated clearly ahead of time that the sessions are only supposed to be open to those who register and pay up)? Or does the lack of an attempt to enforce mean that they have effectively abandoned claims against freeriding audience members?

          (Note that this is actually directly analogous to some of the sit-ins: many sit-ins ended without any arrests at all. The protesters were refused service, but police often weren’t called in to arrest them unless and until white thugs came in to terrorize or assault the protesters. At which point the black students would be arrested by the police, not for trespassing, but for “disorderly conduct.”)

        • Roderick May 23, 2010 at 1:36 am #

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          In the case of the APA, it’s also at least relevant (though not necessarily requisite) that it’s supposed to be a representative body serving the interests of its membership (who were never asked to approve the policy).

  5. Neil May 20, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTt_LLjF4XY

  6. Brad Spangler May 20, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

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    Rand Paul and Positive Law in a Stateless Society | http://bradspangler.com/blog/archives/1587

  7. laukarlueng May 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

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    Rand has never struck me as a very good communicator. I don’t know if it is a lack of ability or due to poorly thought out foundations of what he believes.

    It is a rare man in politics that kneels to the leviathan on occasion. Ron is one of those, but his son strikes me as one who will yield to the beast’s glamour. Prove me wrong Rand. I dare you.

  8. Anon73 May 20, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

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    Speaking of “Randian” issues, I came across this screed about Ayn Rand, blaming her for gushing and idealizing a child-killer: http://www.michaelprescott.net/hickman.htm

    I know the Administrator is not a Randian, but as a “fellow traveler” I’m curious what he thinks of the matter.

    • Roderick May 20, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

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      Funny how that case brought out the worst in two of my favourite writers — but in opposite directions. Edgar Rice Burroughs also wrote at length about the case, arguing that the defendant was so obviously heinous that any trial was superfluous and he should just be killed; ERB also suggested it might be a good idea if his relatives were sterilised.

      Rand retreated from this sort of thing over time, as a result of shifting from a Nietzschean to an Aristotelean ethic.

      ERB for his part may have retreated from his, but it’s hard to say. In his Venus books he presents a society that follows the eugenics policies he once recommended; on the one hand, the society is presented very positively, but on the other hand, the rulers find the hero and heroine genetically unfit and sentence them to death.

      • Black Bloke May 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

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        From the linked essay:

        No doubt defenders of Ayn Rand, and there are still a few left, would reply that the journal entry in question was written when she was only in her early twenties and still under the spell of Nietzsche, that as her thinking developed she discarded such Nietzschean elements and evolved a more rational outlook, and that the mature Rand should not be judged by the mistakes of her youth. And this might be a perfectly reasonable position to take. Unquestionably Rand’s outlook did change, and her point of view did become at least somewhat less hostile to what the average, normal person would regard as healthy values.

        But before we assume that her admiration of Mr. Hickman was merely a quirk of her salad days, let’s consider a few other quotes from Ayn Rand cited in Scott Ryan’s book.

        In her early notes for The Fountainhead: “One puts oneself above all and crushes everything in one’s way to get the best for oneself. Fine!” (Journals, p. 78.)

        Of The Fountainhead’s hero, Howard Roark: He “has learned long ago, with his first consciousness, two things which dominate his entire attitude toward life: his own superiority and the utter worthlessness of the world.” (Journals, p. 93.)

        In the original version of her first novel We the Living: “What are your masses [of humanity] but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?” (This declaration is made by the heroine Kira, Rand’s stand-in; it is quoted in The Ideas of Ayn Rand by Ronald Merrill, pp. 38 – 39; the passage was altered when the book was reissued years after its original publication.)

        On the value of human life: Man “is man only so long as he functions in accordance with the nature of a rational being. When he chooses to function otherwise, he is no longer man. There is no proper name for the thing which he then becomes … When a man chooses to act in a sub-human manner, it is no longer proper for him to survive nor to be happy.” ( Journals , pp. 253-254, 288.)

        As proof that her Nietzschean thinking persisted long after her admirers think she abandoned it, this journal entry from 1945, two years subsequent to the publication of The Fountainhead : “Perhaps we really are in the process of evolving from apes to Supermen — and the rational faculty is the dominant characteristic of the better species, the Superman.” ( Journals , p. 285.)

        So perhaps her thinking did not change quite so much, after all.

        • Roderick May 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

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          I don’t see how those quotes show that the Nietzschean period lasted longer than her admirers think. Maybe it depends which admirers (the Peikoffian high church tends to underrate the significance of her early Nietzschean phase). But the view I’ve usually seen (in the Hunt essay I linked, for example) is that it’s in the course of writing The Fountainhead that she transcends her Nietzschean roots — so there’s plenty of Nietzsche in what comes before, including Night of January16th, the first edition of We the Living, and the early notes for, as well as the early out-takes from, The Fountainhead. So these charges may be pushing against an open door.

          Her post-Fountainhead suggestion that irrationality is a transitional evolutionary phenomenon does get repeated in a quite late essay, “The Missing Link.” It’s hard to know what to make of it, since she continually stresses that rationality and irrationality are matters of free choice, and she was agnostic about evolution anyway. But that was an idea she picked up from Nock rather than Nietzsche in any case.

  9. Sheldon Richman May 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

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    Allow me to introduce a complicating factor, which I picked up from Richard Epstein. Pre-1964 if a southern restaurateur desegregated his business, it was quite likely his place would be firebombed that evening by the KKK, which often had an implicit sanction (if not worse) from the local and state authorities. Thus, Epstein says, at least some business owners welcomed the federal law because it promised protection against violence they were not getting back home.

    • Anon73 May 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

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      The CRA made the KKK or their activities illegal? Pardon me for saying so, but I don’t think it would be beyond the Federal Government to mandate behavior on the part of business owners that would result in them being firebombed and then ignore their complaints.

  10. MBH May 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

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    Brad DeLong posts some harsh words regarding Rand Paul.

  11. Sheldon Richman May 22, 2010 at 7:29 am #

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    Re boycotts, sit-ins, etc.: Those tactics were directed at racist operators of, say, luncheonettes and proved to be effective, at least sometimes. The goal was to make the owner’s life so unpleasant that he would relent and integrate. Fine. But are the tactics likely to be effective against someone who wants to integrate but fears for his life and property if he does so? Death and firebombing are more unpleasant than a boycott and sit-ins. I don’t approve of the CRA64, but there is a sense in which it “worked”; the culture changed relatively quickly, and it’s wrong to deny that the law had a hand in that. We should give the other side its best case before setting out to refute it.

    • Roderick May 22, 2010 at 10:46 am #

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      What the South really needed was an Antiklan.

      • Sheldon Richman May 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

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        You have me at a disadvantage, Roderick.

        • Sheldon Richman May 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

          Safari Unknown

          Oh! Where’s the hyphen?

        • Roderick May 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

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          The Antiklan is so edgy it doesn’t use a hyphen.

      • Sheldon Richman May 23, 2010 at 6:28 am #

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        Wasn’t that Darth Vader’s real name?

        • Roderick May 23, 2010 at 11:15 am #

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          There once was a clothing store mannequin
          who liked to eat lunch from a pannikin ….

    • Rad Geek May 22, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

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      **Sheldon,**

      The goal was to make the owner’s life so unpleasant that he would relent and integrate. Fine. But are the tactics likely to be effective against someone who wants to integrate but fears for his life and property if he does so?

      It’s hard to know how many store-owners were in that position, but briefly, I think the answer is yes. For two reasons. Firstly, because it’s not like the Civil Rights Act itself instantly changed local culture or eliminated the threat of retaliation from the Klan or WCC. (* In a lot of towns the threat of economic blackballing through the WCC was actually more of a threat to white business owners than the threat of physical retaliation from the KKK.) Death and firebombing are also a lot more unpleasant than a Title II lawsuit; at most, what Title II and Title VII did was to give intimidated closet integrationists a plausible excuse to tell the local terror groups — “Well, it’s not that I want to let black people in, you know; but I run a business and I need to follow the law to keep it” — which might make them less likely to retaliate, and also strength in numbers — if all businesses are moving to integrate at once, it’s harder to single any one out for retaliation. But the economic and social pressure created by the sit-in movement also created plausible excuses — “It’s these damn students; I can’t run a business if they’re taking up seats!” — and often allowed an opportunity for a lot of downtown merchants to buck Jim Crow at once — in Nashville, for example, the NSM protests led to an agreement from all the downtown business owners.

      Second:

      I don’t approve of the CRA64, but there is a sense in which it “worked”; the culture changed relatively quickly,

      I agree that the culture changed quickly, but I don’t think that the Civil Rights Act was the reason for that. There’s more than one way to change a culture, and I think the deliberate confrontation, the assertion of black dignity, the practice of social solidarity, and the firestorm of conversations that the grassroots movement provoked, were the social forces that actually brought about cultural change in Southern towns. (See, for example, the decisive role that the cultural pressure from the sit-in movement — and a single question posed by Diane Nash — played in desegregating downtown Nashville in 1960.) Not the Civil Rights Act, which was a late development and which only came about because of the huge cultural shift in progress, not vice versa.

      (If anything, tended to *stifle* efforts at cultural change, by redirecting the fight away from moral arguments in the streets and neighborhoods, into legalistic arguments in the federal courts and the Equal Opportunity bureaucracy.)

      • Sheldon Richman May 23, 2010 at 6:35 am #

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        I take the point. And thanks for the link.

      • Sheldon Richman May 23, 2010 at 6:44 am #

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        What concerns me is that much (most?) libertarian writing on this subject abstracts from the historical context and in essence says, “The free market would have taken care of it.” The problem, as Epstein stresses, is that there was no free market. Rather, there was a cartelized system supported by a racist cultural/social/political establishment (private and government) that was not about to let, say, a social liberal open a chain of hotels the restaurants to serve an integrated clientele. I don’t offer this in rebuttal to Rad’s excellent response here (I’m confident there was a moral and effective alternative to federal intervention), but to those who ignore this context and act as though entrepreneurship were a simple answer to a complex and ugly situation.

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