Posts Tagged ‘libertarian’

Country Life (and more) Midst COVID-19

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

Bob Gaydos

THE REPORT … emus, swans, secrecy and third parties

A couple of new neighbors. RJ photography

A couple of new neighbors.
RJ photography

  I’m a city boy. Bayonne, Binghamton, Annapolis, Middletown. Not big cities, but places where most stuff you need was in walking distance, there were downtowns, buses (in varying degrees), lots of kids, stickball, cats, dogs, and people you might nod and wave to. No emus.

      Today, I’m a country boy. Pine Bush. Burlingham actually. Slightly upstate New York (about 75 miles from the city), but definitely not urban or even suburban. It’s nice, except for the stuff you need not being in walking distance. The pandemic has made even that less of a nuisance since we’ve discovered that you can order anything online to be delivered to your door. It eliminates the human connection, but society has been working on that for some time now.

       Back to the emus. One of the pleasures of country living is the abundance of non-human neighbors. In the past I’ve commented on eagles, coyotes, owls, woodpeckers and the variety of visitors to our bird feeders (still just two cardinals). But that’s chicken feed compared to the menagerie we’ve seen on just one local road over the past few months.

       In the four-and-a-half miles under discussion, we have seen: Two stunning black swans, two emus, flocks of chickens, one beautiful white swan, one peacock (please get off the road)  a pig, two score of horses, herds of cows, four white, domesticated geese, Canada geese galore, a llama, several sheep (please stay off the road!), a blue heron, grazing herds of deer, a bull and one outspoken burro. A recent addition — a mare and her foal. Most of these are permanent residents we look forward to seeing regularly. Toto, we’re not in Bayonne anymore. By the way, I’ll give a shout out here to any reader who can identify this road.

       Hint: It’s in Orange County.

      — By the way … speaking of shouting out. Mitch McConnell is probably wishing he’d kept his mouth shut last week. The Senate majority leader first said that Barack Obama “should’ve kept his mouth shut” instead of criticizing the Dotard’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Classless,” McConnell suggested. He got mocked all over Twitter and Facebook for this absurd comment, given the lack of class demonstrated by the person he was defending. Then, McConnell had to eat crow by admitting that, contrary to what he and Dotard were saying, the Obama administration had indeed left a detailed playbook on how to handle future pandemics. Dotard got rid of it. That’s what happens when lying becomes so automatic you do it as naturally as breathing. McConnell is a disgrace.

       — By the way … Kentucky, the state represented by Republicans McConnell and the foolish Rand Paul, both of whom have objected to further stimulus funds for people who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19, is one of the states most economically impacted by the pandemic. This from the Lexington Herald-Leader: “Figures released Thursday show that another 103,548 Kentuckians filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total number of initial claims since the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak in mid-March to nearly 500,000, or 24 percent of the state’s total civilian workforce. Two analyses from financial technology companies show Kentucky is one of the most-impacted states when measuring the number of claims as a percentage of the workforce, and when measuring the percentage increase in unemployment claims from the start of the COVID-19 crisis.” But hey, Kentuckians, keep electing these yohos because, you know, they’re poking fingers in the eyes of The Man.  And you’re about to lose your old Kentucky home. 

        — By the way … A lot of state and local governments have used the pandemic as an excuse to make it difficult or impossible to get access to public records. Many are routinely denying Freedom of Information requests. Of course, at the same time, these governments are making major decisions and spending billions fighting COVID-19. Not a time when government secrecy should be encouraged. David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, a California-based nonprofit fighting this trend, says, “It’s just essential that the press and the public be able to dig in and see records that relate to how the government has responded to the crisis. That’s the only way really to avoid waste, fraud, abuse and to ensure that governments aren’t overstepping their bounds.” Or to find out if they even have a clue as to what they’re doing.

        — By the way … Rep. Justin Amash, an independent Michigan congressman who had the guts and good sense to quit the Republican Party, has again come to his senses and given up his foolhardy and potentially damaging bid to run for president as a Libertarian. (You didn’t know?) Amash blamed COVID-19 (it’s become a handy multi-purpose excuse) for making it so difficult to campaign. Call it a mercy killing. He didn’t mention that maybe he had no shot at winning and the effort would mostly be an exercise in ego and spreading routinely rejected Libertarian views. He was running because of his dislike for Drumpf, which is commendable, but his candidacy would also have gotten votes from Republicans and others who don’t like Drumpf, but can’t find themselves voting for Joe Biden or another Democrat. Shades of Ralph Nader and Al Gore and Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein. This is no year for symbolic votes, people.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at


The Libertarian Conundrum

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Ron Paul: Can Republicans tolerate him?

By Bob Gaydos

One thing is certain about libertarians — or Libertarians, for the politically serious — at some time they will take a stand on an issue that is in perfect harmony with yours. And, just as inevitably, they will soon take another stand diametrically opposed to yours. It’s their hallmark and the overwhelming reason that a political party arguably more committed to a core philosophy than any other party has so much trouble expanding its base and, in America’s two-party system, finding a political partner with whom it can comfortably coexist.

Think about it. How do you deal with a candidate who opposes the death penalty and abortion, is strongly opposed to a military draft, has voted against an amendment to prohibit flag-burning but favors legalizing prostitution and medical marijuana and doing away with Social Security, the FBI and the IRS?

Well, if you are among the political activists who attended the recent gathering of the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, you make him the easy winner of a straw vote on potential Republican presidential candidates in 2012. In fact, Ron Paul, the man who won 39.7 percent of the votes in New Orleans, is an old hand at such victories having won a similar vote earlier this year at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Not bad for a 75-year-old doctor who was the Libertarian Party candidate for president in 2008. But Paul is a Republican congressman from Texas and, in fact, has always been a Republican, probably because he agrees with their no-tax-is-a-good-tax philosophy and their oft-repeated arguments against government involvement in people’s lives. But, see, Paul, who is a tea party guru, too, really believes that stuff, which means, while he’s against government regulations, he also opposes government snooping and denial of individual rights in the name of national security. And most conservative Republicans have a problem with that kind of, well, logical purity.

I think I’m like most Americans in that I don’t think much about libertarians most of the time. I tend to notice them when presidential politics resume and, honestly, most of the time it’s to wonder how the most ardent libertarians (or Libertarians) came to have such a negative view of the political system which has brought this country so far in a mere 235 years. Also, they have had some really strange leaders. What stirred this current interest is a public posting on Facebook by a former colleague of mine which suggests his dismay with the attitude of Republican conservatives to some of the statements of Paul.

My friend posted: “What divides libertarians from conservatives is the conservatives’ failure to realize, or their unwillingness to concede, that toleration is not equivalent to endorsement. It should be obvious that to tolerate something is not the same thing as to approve of it. If toleration required approval, toleration would not be a virtue. What value is there is being prepared to tolerate only those things of which you approve?”

Now, that’s why I “friended” this guy. He understands that in a diverse, democratic society like ours, the only way to coexist with a semblance of serenity, if not dignity, is to tolerate differences of opinion. That would seem to be a basic requirement for any political group that preaches about moral values all the time. My friend also dismisses my suggestion that libertarians might be more comfortable with Democrats, who are clearly more tolerant of diverse views and groups, because, he says, both political parties think libertarians are “crazy.” Which is probably true.

Still, there’s Ron Paul atop the straw polls, speaking his mind more unabashedly than any other Republican candidate dares, arguing against the war in Afghanistan and the Federal Reserve, opposing U.S. involvement in Libya and introducing a bill with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) to end the federal war on marijuana and let states legalize, regulate, tax, and control it without federal interference. Paul is against pre-emptive wars and being the world policeman. He opposed the Iraq war, wants all U.S. troops brought home, did not vote for George W. Bush, has opposed affirmative action for any group, thinks rights are individual, not collective, considers abortion to be murder, voted no on banning physician-assisted suicide and declaring gay-marriage unconstitutional, favors prayer in schools, opposes replacing oil and coal with alternative fuels, rejects letting illegal immigrants earn citizenship and strongly opposes free trade agreements. He’s all for owning guns, but thinks the Patriot Act has seriously harmed civil liberties.

It either makes no sense or is the most cohesive political philosophy around. Actually, it kind of reminds me of that beer commercial for “The most interesting man in the world.”

I wouldn’t vote for that guy either.

Bob can be reached at