Brian’s Column: Where Can I Do the Most Good? (Part 1 of 2)

Panic attack at a GOP county convention

republican_symbolNovi, Michigan. It came on suddenly, triggered I think by the invocation—in this WASPish crowd, always a nod to the Christian God—that meandered to an end by stating how we should always cherish our great friend, Israel. What?!

First—and I’ve felt this way about virtually all of the Republican meetings I’ve been to since becoming a precinct delegate roughly two years ago—what’s an invocation of faith in ‘God’ doing at a political meeting? This is America, where people’s religious beliefs are their own business so long as, “they neither break my bones or pick my pocket,” as our great sage and secular saint Thomas Jefferson put it.

Second, what is the state of Israel doing in a Christian invocation? Is the speaker trying to ward off accusations of excluding Jews?  If so, why not say, let’s be nice to Jews… not let’s be nice to Israel? Then if we’re invoking kindness toward Jews, why not Muslims, Buddhists, humanists, and Great Pumpkinists? Which leads to the obvious conclusion that it’s best to dispense with religious observances in secular gatherings of this nature. If you want to solemnize the occasion, lead a moment of silence. Continue reading

Brian’s Column: A New Strategy for Libertarians?

The first Michigan Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) convention

RLC_MICommerce Township, December 5, 2015. Roughly 50 members of the recently rejuvenated Michigan RLC met at its first convention today to elect a board of pro liberty directors and pass key resolutions. The stated mission of the organization: “to further the principles of limited government, individual liberty, and free markets within the Republican Party and throughout America.”

The following two resolutions also passed unanimously:

Resolution: Defending the 4th Amendment and Privacy Rights

Whereas: Our privacy rights should never under any circumstances be violated by the NSA or any other rogue spying agency operating lawlessly in Washington D.C., and it is unacceptable that Big Brother Republicans are shamefully complicit with these violations of our freedom.

Whereas: The state of Michigan must disavow any partnership or association with the NSA or any other federal agency working to facilitate the destruction of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution and the development of Big Brother and the national police state. Continue reading

Book Review: What to Think About (2015)

Philosophy for a thoughtful younger generation
by Chris Brockman

BrockmanLet’s see it would be somewhere in the late 1970s and early 1980s, during my life in the SE Michigan general liberty movement—which at that time still had a decidedly Libertarian Party component, at least for me—Chris and his wife Julie were welcome, sane voices in that not always august milieu. In 1978, Chris wrote a short book What about gods?, which became the modern standard for helping children think intelligently about the phantasmagoric world of deities and religion. [I would like gods? to be required reading for first graders in the government schools… but of course someone on the school board would jump up to shoot down such an ‘irreverent’ book for junior and his friends. “What about moral values!?” they’d exclaim.]

Exactly. Continue reading

Book Review: Dave Barry Slept Here (1989)

A sort of history of the United States
by Dave Barry

DaveBarryWhat can one say that hasn’t been said already about Dave Barry, who sprung on the humor scene nationally in the early 80s with a syndicated column via the Miami Herald. “Funniest man alive” isn’t too far off the mark… and of course the question is why. What draws us to his zany worldview? That’s probably it! Dave Barry has a brilliant way of juxtaposing subjects, verbs, and objects of English prose from different worlds… that yield relevant commentary to our own experience:

“The typical lifestyle in the early colonies was very harsh. There was no such thing as the modern supermarket, which meant that the hardy colonists had to get up before dawn and spend many hours engaging in tedious tasks such as churning butter. They would put some butter in a churn, and they would whack it for several hours, and then they’d mop their brows and say, ‘Why the hell don’t we get a modern supermarket around here!’ And then, because it was illegal to curse, they would be forced to stand in the stocks while the first tourists took pictures of them. Continue reading

Brian’s Column: Second Thoughts on Old Glory

Time to lay the nation-state to rest
by Brian Wright

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
— John Lennon Continue reading

Guest Column: Are You Libertarian Enough?

Time to man up for the Freedom Philosophy
Anthony Gregory

So-called political compromise is upheld as a high virtue. To be an ideologue is a great vice. The old mantra that the problem in American politics is everyone is an extremist and no one is willing to meet halfway persists, despite its transparent inapplicability in the real world. The distance between the two political parties is small enough to smother a gnat.

For many libertarians there is no worse a sin than to stick stubbornly to purity of principle, to make the perfect the enemy of the good. We never get anywhere because we refuse to budge. We want the whole loaf. This is an old theme. Continue reading

Brian’s Column: Here’s Ronnie

Ron Paul Takes Hollywood
by Brian Wright

Ron Paul on Jay Leno

What a thrill it was to be able to point with assuredness to the notice that small-l libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul would be appearing on the Jay Leno Show 12/16/2011 (which, fittingly, is Boston Tea Party Day). As a Boomer who remembers the NBC predecessor Tonight Show starring the inimitable Johnny Carson, I still hear the booming voice of Johnny’s announcer Ed McMahon opening the show: H-E-E-R-R-R-E-‘S JOHHNNNY! Well, on Friday Night, Johnny became Ronnie, Dr. Ron Paul that is. Continue reading