Patterico's Pontifications


Americans Face a Stark Choice This November: Supporting Hillary for President Edition

Filed under: General,Stark Choice — Patterico @ 10:26 pm

Americans have a clear choice in the upcoming presidential election.

Do you want the candidate who thought Hillary Clinton should be president in 2008? (Hillary, because she ran?)

Or the candidate who thought Hillary Clinton should be president in 2008? (Trump, because he donated to her.)

P.S. Thanks to DRJ for the link. I know, there is nothing new here. But it bears repeating.

P.P.S. This is Part Three of the ongoing Stark Choice series. A new semi-regular feature! Read them all!

Patterico Researches the Libertarian Candidates So You Don’t Have To

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:21 pm

Red State’s undying opponent of Trump (and Hillary) Leon Wolf sat down with libertarian candidate Austin Petersen today. (Well, “with” in the sense of they were on Skype together. It’s the Internet age, folks!) Here is their 15-minute interview:

I recently mentioned that I had a slightly negative memory of Petersen from a podcast. I found that podcast tonight and listened to it again as I walked around cleaning the house. It is over an hour and is embedded at the end of this post. My memory was not entirely accurate. The podcast was with my man Tom Woods, and on the second listen I was wildly entertained to listen to these two guys go at it. Tom Woods is a Rothbardian anarchist — but a reasonable one who rejects Rothbard’s more harebrained ideas (like his views on dealing with children). Petersen is a “minarchist” — essentially a limited government Founding Fathers type of guy with a libertarian perspective. Petersen is entertaining and explicitly adopts the Alinsky tactic of getting your opponent’s attention through aggression and ridicule — but he managed to do it in a respectful way. Basically, he told Woods that he loves Woods’s contributions to liberty but that he thinks Woods’s anarchist views are “stupid” — and he told him why he thought so.

I won’t go so far as to call Woods’s philosophy “stupid” — because I have a lot of respect for Woods, and he more than holds his own in this episode. And the bottom line is that both of these guys agree with almost all of us on easily 90%-plus of important issues. We believe in the most limited government possible. We’re against taxation for the purpose of redistribution. We’re for federalism: state control of all matters not explicitly entrusted to the central government. We’re for less regulation. Go down the line.

But these guys go at it hammer and tongs on issues like whether we need some minimal central authority to enforce life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I happen to agree with Petersen on this one, and he does a great (and entertaining) job of taking on Woods, who I believe is literally a genius and one of the most compelling public speakers I have ever heard. It was great listening to two smart people go at each other like this, knowing that in the end, we agree on so much.

As for the other libertarian candidate of note? Gary Johnson? Yeah, he says government should be able to force Jewish bakers to bake cakes for Nazis:

The issue arose when fellow Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen brought to the attention of moderator John Stossel that in an earlier debate in Oregon, Johnson declared that bakeries should be forced to bake wedding cakes for gay couples. Johnson affirmed the position, arguing that being able to discriminate on the basis of religion is a “black hole.” Petersen pushed Johnson on the issue and asked whether he felt Jewish bakers should be forced to bake wedding cakes for Nazi customers. Stossel directed the question to Johnson, who replied “that would be my contention, yes.”

So, Gary Johnson can pretty much go to hell. I’ll never vote for that guy.

Austin Petersen is never going to be President. No large-L libertarian (or probably even a small-l libertarian) will be in my lifetime.

But he has substantially the right principles, I think, and he would do just fine for a protest vote, if nothing better comes along. And by the way? He’s pro-life.

Here is that podcast. Do like I did, and find some time where you are driving around, or cleaning the house (like me), or whatever. Enjoy two smart, liberty-minded people just going at it. It’s great stuff.

Praise (But Only Qualified Praise) for the Gophers

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:46 pm

[guest post by JVW]

We have been cataloging the sad and ugly attempts at some universities to trample on the free speech rights of students all in the name of diversity and tolerance, or whatever trendy shibboleth is being bandied about on campus these days, so it is only fair that we acknowledge those institutions of higher education who are looking for ways to protect students from the censorious crybullies who wield all the power in Obama’s post-racial America. With that in mind, let’s put our hands together for the University of Minnesota where the faculty is working on adopting a statement of principles regarding free speech. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the statement codifies four important principles of free speech:

(1) A public university must be absolutely committed to protecting free speech, both for constitutional and academic reasons.

(2) Free speech includes protection for speech that some find offensive, uncivil, or even hateful.

(3) Free speech cannot be regulated on the ground that some speakers are thought to have more power or more access to the mediums of speech than others.

(4) Even when protecting free speech conflicts with other important University values, free speech must be paramount.

These are four excellent pillars for supporting the full protection guaranteed by the Constitution to all Golden Gopher students, even the ones who aren’t any good at hockey. This statement has been approved by a faculty committee and will next come to the entire faulty for a vote. Naturally a collective of mushminded graduate students finds the statement to be offensive as do the wannabe Stasi of the undergraduate senate, so this committee must be headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, due to the winding down of the academic year and the glacial pace at which university bureaucracies move, this initiative might wither on the vine until next fall.

And, truth be told, there is at least one aspect to the faculty committee’s document as drafted that should cause a degree of heartburn to anyone who is tired of the shenanigans that go on in higher education. In one of the recommendations for how free speech can be protected on the UM campus, the committee makes the following suggestion: “Create a position of free-speech advocate or vest the powers of a free-speech advocate within the existing faculty governance structure.” Isn’t it just like the modern academic to suggest more bureaucratic positions, especially at a taxpayer-funded university? While it may be true that too many students have been hauled in front of campus kangaroo courts without the counsel of any supportive ally, how do we know that the free speech advocate position won’t be occupied by a Melissa Click-type character? After all, if an academic who held a joint appointment with the journalism school can seek to ban reporters from a public event, what guarantee does the Minnesota taxpayer have that the appointed free speech advocate will be a bona fide supporter of open expression instead of just another administrative empty suit in cahoots with the crybullies?

So let me see if I can help the UM bring about this free speech champion without sticking the Minnesota taxpayer or the tuition-paying student with the tab. The University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus has a student population of over 50,000 students, and it has an Office for Equity and Diversity which consists of nine — count ’em nine! — sub-offices, including the perennial favorites Conflict Resolution, Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, and of course Institute for Diversity, Equity and Advocacy. The OED office boasts of fourteen administrators with titles such as Vice President, Associate Vice Provost, Assistant Vice Provost, Associate Vice President, Assistant Vice President, and Assistant to the Vice President. That’s an awful lot of vice for a midwestern college campus. The Office for Diversity in Graduate Education, just to take but one example, has a staff of five, three of whom carry the title of “Director.” I am guessing that the Office of Equity and Diversity is often on the complainant side of these campus free speech kerfuffles, so how about we cut one position from that group for every free speech advocate that the UM finds it needs to hire? And since the current employment listings at the UM feature at least three open full-time regular positions in the OED, we can start by redlining those jobs and using the saved headcount for the new free speech advocates. Everybody wins in that scenario.

In closing, I would like to point out that once upon a time every college and university in this country had plenty of free speech advocates on staff. They were collectively known as the faculty.


Facebook Suppressing Conservative Stories

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:36 am

Surprise, surprise! Gizmodo:

Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News

Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.

. . . .

“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” said the former curator. This individual asked to remain anonymous, citing fear of retribution from the company. The former curator is politically conservative, one of a very small handful of curators with such views on the trending team. “I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.”

The former curator was so troubled by the omissions that they kept a running log of them at the time; this individual provided the notes to Gizmodo. Among the deep-sixed or suppressed topics on the list: former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was accused by Republicans of inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; popular conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report; Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was murdered in 2013; and former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder. “I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,” the former curator said.

We’ve seen similar things with Twitter and its ridiculous, pro-“social justice” “safety” commissions.

Issues like these raise an interesting question. It’s natural and appropriate, I think, to take note that a business like Facebook is trying to foist its leftist opinions on you. If you’re not a leftist — and maybe even if you are! — you might find this attempt to suppress certain political viewpoints an illiberal tendency.

But, of course, a private business has every right to promote particular viewpoints. And the natural response of a free marketeer to something like this is to encourage people to start their own competition.

One might whine that Facebook is a monopoly. To the extent that your complaint is that market forces have created a natural monopoly, I have no sympathy for your position. “Monopolies” are never as powerful in the long term as people perceive them to be. Competition always wins out in the end, if someone has a better product or service.

Here’s where it gets a little more difficult. What about the fact that Facebook certainly has several government-issued patents that make it difficult to compete with them? Is there anything of concern about the fact that a leftist government hands out patents to a leftist company — patents that have the effect of impeding conservatives’ ability to compete?

I ask the question to open a discussion. I can’t see this being a First Amendment violation, exactly — and there are slippery slope concerns about taking action to address it. (Am I to be deprived of copyright protection when I run a site that spouts free market and conservative ideas?)

But isn’t it worth discussing? When government protection of a business makes it difficult for competitors to spread ideas with which the government disagrees, something seems wrong.

UPDATE: My guess is that the official answer is: there’s no problem if government hands out the patents without regard to the company’s political viewpoint.

The next question is: do you believe that’s what they do?

The Constitutional Vanguard Has Launched

Filed under: Constitutional Vanguard,General — Patterico @ 6:30 am

The first email for the newsletter “The Constitutional Vanguard” went out this morning at 6 a.m. Pacific, to some 340 subscribers. It’s little more than an introductory message, setting forth where we are. It’s the first step on what I hope will be a long and interesting journey.

I hope all readers will consider joining. It’s been wonderful to read the emails I have received so far, in particular because I am meeting long-time lurkers I never knew were out there. It’s easy to think of the blog as reaching only the people who comment, but an exercise like this is a great reminder that there are many more people out there who are fully engaged, but simply don’t want to comment, for whatever reason.

My current conception for the list is to give people resources and ideas to spread intellectual support for the Constitution, liberty, and the free market. I already have letters planned about our mission statement, and about Mike Lee’s book The Lost Constitution, which provides a prescient blueprint for dealing with the dire situation we now face.

Along the way, we’ll probably discuss strategy, strengthen our ties to one another on social media, and hopefully have a little fun. As Larry Elder used to say on his radio show: we’ve got a country to save.

If you want to join, please note that I have created an automated sign-up form for the list. If you’re interested in joining, please use that signup form, available here.

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