Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Two Peas in a Pod: Vladimir Nabokov and Ayn Rand

Gene H. Bell-Villada is a professor of romance languages at Williams College, having earned his doctorate in the field at Harvard.

He's written or edited eleven books, including Art for Art's Sake & Literary Life, a finalist for the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Pianist Who Liked Ayn Rand, a collection of essays and short fiction, including a novella that satirizes the Ayn Rand cult phenomenon.

Bell-Villada's latest book, On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind, returns to Rand, finding parallels between her life and philosophy, and that of Vladimir Nabokov.

Read what Bell-Villada has to say about Rand and Nabokov in this interview.

Monday, April 14, 2014

State Senator Ted Lieu Supports Accused Rather Than Police

California State Senator Ted Lieu (D - Westside) is running for Congress, hoping to replace retiring Congressman Henry Waxman.

Lieu's no libertarian. I'm sure he's taken many "progressive" positions. But he's currently sponsoring a bill that should please libertarians.

According to Gary Walker, writing for The Argonaut (April 2, 2014):

"Lieu's Senate Bill 980 would compel police departments to allow inmate defense teams to conduct DNA testing on biological case evidence and allow courts to act against law enforcement officials who destroy DNA evidence in violation of state code."

Especially noteworthy is the part I put in boldface. The article continues:

"Law enforcement agencies are currently allowed to destroy biological evidence six months after a conviction, but Lieu's proposal would extend the timeline to a full year. It would also mandate that DNA evidence be run through the FBI's Combined DNA Index System in cases where DNA evidence is found not to match a suspect or inmate.

" 'I think one of the greatest injustices that a government and a society can commit is to wrongly convict an innocent person,' said Lieu, a former Air Force Judge Advocate General prosecutor.

"Since 2000, there have been 244 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States, including eight in California, according to the California Innocence Project, which is co-sponsoring the bill with the Northern California Innocence Project."

You can read the full story here.

I don't know who I'll vote for in June, in California's current Top Two primary system. But Lieu's support of Senate Bill 980 is a consideration. Not just for the issue itself, but because it indicates his willingness to support the rights of the accused, in the interests of truth and justice.

Monday, April 07, 2014

California Libertarian Party Seeks 2014 Write-In Candidates

California LP activist Ted Brown has requested that libertarians "please forward this to all LP lists in California."

The Secretary of  State has posted the certified list of candidates for the June primary election:

There are only 6 Libertarian candidates:

Attorney General - Jonathan Jaech
CD 7 - Art Tuma
CD 25 - David Koster Bruce
CD 33 - Mark Matthew Herd
CD 51 - Michael Benoit
AD 8 - Janice Bonser

However, it turns out that there are 21 offices where only one candidate filed.  It is now easy to qualify and run as a write-in candidate.  Between April 7 and May 20, you just need to collect 40 valid signatures from any registered voter in the district, and you would become a certified write-in candidate.  There is no cost.  If you receive more write-in votes than any other write-in candidate, you become one of the "Top Two" and move on to the November election.  The Peace & Freedom Party qualified three candidates this way in 2012.  We tried it in two districts, but they were the same districts as P & F, and their candidates got more write-in votes.  

Anyway, here are the districts:

Board of Equalization, District 3 - most of Los Angeles County - Jose Castaneda is going to run for this one.

Congress, District 23 - Kevin McCarthy (R - House Majority Whip) - Kern, Tulare, and L. A. County (Lancaster)
Congress, District 44 - Janice Hahn (D) - Los Angeles County (San Pedro, Wilmington, Carson, Compton, Lynwood, South Gate, No. Long Beach)
(note:  Congressional candidates don't have to live in the district.)

State Senate, District 16 - Jean Fuller (R) - Kern, Tulare, San Bernardino County (rural)
State Senate, District 22 - Ed Hernandez (D) - Los Angeles County (Alhambra, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, Temple City, Arcadia, East Pasadena, Azusa, Covina, West Covina, La Puente)
State Senate, District 36 - Patricia Bates (R) - Orange County (Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point, San Clemente, Rancho Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, Coto de Caza); and San Diego County (Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, Encinitas)

State Assembly, District 5 - Frank Bigelow (R) - Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Madera, Mariposa, Mona, Tuolumne, Placer (Auburn & Newcastle)
State Assembly, District 14 - Susan Bonilla (D) - Contra Costa and Solano Counties
State Assembly, District 21 - Adam Gray (D) - Merced and Stanislaus Counties (Modesto, Newman, Patterson)
State Assembly, District 23 - Jim Patterson (R) - north part of Fresno, Clovis
State Assembly, District 26 - Rudy Mendoza (R) - Visalia, Tulare, Porterville, Sequoia Nat'l Park
State Assembly, District 31 - Henry Perea (D) - Fresno south and west, Selma
State Assembly, District 41 - Chris Holden (D) - Los Angeles County (Pasadena, So. Pasadena, Altadena, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Claremont, San Dimas); Upland in San Bernardino Co.
State Assembly, District 51 - Jimmy Gomez (D) - Los Angeles (Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Mt. Washington, Silver Lake, Echo Park, East L. A.)
State Assembly, District 58 - Cristina Garcia (D) - Los Angeles County (Artesia, Bellflower, Bell Gardens, Cerritos, Commerce, Downey, Montebello, Pico Rivera, Norwalk)
State Assembly, District 59 - Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D) - Los Angeles (USC, South from I-10 to 95th Street, between Western and Alameda)
State Assembly, District 60 - Eric Linder (R) - Riverside County (Corona, Norco, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, west end of Riverside)
State Assembly, District 67 - Melissa Melendez (R) - Riverside County (Murrieta, Wildomar, Menifee, Lake Elsinore)
State Assembly, District 75 - Maria Waldron (R) - Riverside County (Temecula); San Diego County (Escondido, Fallbrook, San Marcos)
State Assembly, District 76 - Rocky Chavez (R) - San Diego County (Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Vista)
State Assembly, District 79 - Shirley Weber (D) - San Diego County (various parts of City of San Diego - look at a map)
State Assembly, District 80 - Lorena Gonzalez (D) - San Diego County (National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, San Ysidro)

If you are interested in running for any of these offices, or know of someone who is interested, or if you have suggestions about who would be a good choice, please let me know.

For liberty,
Ted Brown

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Ben Pleasants, RIP

Sadly, longtime KHC attendee Ben Pleasants passed away on April 18, in Crescent City, CA, of a heart attack.

From the Los Angeles Times's obit:

"Born Aug. 6, 1940, in Weehawken, N.J., [Ben] Pleasants graduated from Hofstra University on New York's Long Island in 1962 and within a few years enrolled in graduate English courses at UCLA.

Beginning in the mid-1960s he wrote for the
Los Angeles Free Press and regularly contributed book and theater reviews to The Times from the late 1960s until the mid-1980s. He reviewed Bukowski's poetry in The Times at a time when few mainstream publications cast their eye on the gritty work, and in 2004 published Visceral Bukowski: Inside the Sniper Landscape of L.A. Writers, a memoir that had originally been intended as a biography. The book became controversial for Pleasants' assertions that Bukowski harbored Nazi sympathies.

Decades after Fante wrote Ask the Dust in the 1930s, Pleasants helped revive interest in the obscure Depression-era novel set in Los Angeles by urging its reissue by Black Sparrow Press in 1979 and paving the way for its eventual cult status.

Pleasants also became a playwright, penning The Hemingway/Dos Passos Wars and Contentious Minds: The Mary McCarthy/Lillian Hellman Affair, among other plays.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Don't Blame Me -- I Wrote-In Ron Paul in 2012

If you write-in Ron Paul's name for president in 2012, your vote WILL count -- at least in Alabama, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Maine (so far -- more states may yet be on the way).

That's according to an October 5, 2012 posting on The Daily Paul.

I live in California, and I cast my write-in vote for Ron Paul this past week!

Even if my vote didn't count, I'd still vote for Paul. A vote that's not counted is like not voting -- and not voting is better than voting for one of the lesser evils on the California ballot.

Politico.com quotes Libertarian Party candidate Gary "lesser of three evils" Johnson as saying that a write-in vote for Paul is "meaningless."

Thanks for the tip, Gary. But how "meaningful" would a vote be for your confused and contradictory message, including your support for wars.

Sure, Paul won't win. But neither will Johnson. It's likely that Johnson won't even get 1% of the vote. Contrary to the LP's big hopes and daydreams, Johnson didn't get into the debates, and the race tightening such that Romney looks to have a fighting chance of beating Obama.

Since this is "the most important election in history" and "too important to lose," Americans will once again be "going home" to the major parties that actually have a chance of winning.

If I'm going to vote for a candidate who can't win, I'd rather vote for someone who is uncompromisingly antiwar -- or even not vote at all -- than vote for Gary "lesser of three evils" Johnson.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Libertarian Recomendations for the 2012 California Ballot Propositions

Here's something from the LPLAC Yahoo Group:

I realize that Tom McClintock is not a big el Libertarian, but his philosophy is very close. Here is his take:

Prop 30: Your Wallet or Your Kids -- NO

Either approve $36 billion in higher sales and income taxes or else Gov. Brown threatens to shoot the schools. Don't worry, the income taxes are only on the "very wealthy," but it turns out the "very wealthy" include many small businesses filing under sub-chapter S, meaning lower wages, higher prices and fewer jobs. California already has one of the highest overall tax burdens in the country and yet has just approved a budget to spend $8 billion dollars more than it's taking in. Moral of the story: it's the spending stupid.

Prop 31: Rotting Mackerel by Moonlight -- NO

This one shines and stinks. On the shiny side, it moves us toward performance-based budgeting, restores certain powers to the governor to make mid-year spending reductions and requires new spending to be paid for. On the stinky side, it provides a two-year budget cycle that makes fiscal gimmickry all the easier and locks into the Constitution an incredibly anal process for local communities to adopt "Strategic Action Plans" serving such open-ended new age objectives as "community equity" and nudges them into establishing regional governments to push this agenda. The purpose of local governments is to provide basic services, not to pursue utopian four-year plans.

Prop 32: Cutting The Piggies Off From The Trough -- YES

In the "It's About Time" category, this measure would finally prohibit unions, corporations, government contractors, and state and local governments from deducting money from employees' paychecks for political purposes without their express written consent. As Jefferson wrote, "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." This puts an end to this despotic practice.

Prop 33: Rewarding Responsible Drivers -- YES

Here's a no-brainer: should car insurance companies be allowed to offer a discount to drivers who maintain continuous coverage? No, it's not a trick question. Under California's convoluted law, if you switch auto insurers you can't qualify for the continuous coverage discount. This measure says you can.

Prop 34: Lifetime Room and Board (and Sex-Change Operations, too) for Murderers -- NO

This abolishes the death penalty for first-degree murder. Enough said.

Prop 35: Red Light on Human Trafficking -- YES

Prop 35 greatly expands the definition of "Human Trafficking" (already illegal), and greatly increases existing penalties. The problem is real and growing and needs stronger sanctions, although there are some provisions in Prop 35 that make it ripe for prosecutorial abuse, including limiting the ability of defendants to cross-examine witnesses and broadening the definition of trafficking to include those who never had contact with the victim. On balance, though, the good outweighs the bad.

Prop 36: Gutting Three Strikes -- NO

After many years of rising crime rates, Californians finally struck back with the three-strikes law. It is actually a two-strikes law: after two serious or violent felonies -- in which one has murdered, assaulted, raped, robbed or pillaged his fellow citizens -- he is on notice that any further misconduct will remove him from polite society. Prop 36 would require that the third strike also be a serious or violent crime, giving dangerous criminals yet one more opportunity at atrocity. The Left predicted that "Three Strikes" would have no effect on crime -- in fact, crime rates have plummeted. When it ain't broke, don't try and fix it.

Prop 37: Spit it Out - NO

This is the latest effort of the Nanny Left to tell us what to eat. It requires foods that contain any ingredients resulting from biotechnology advances to carry the scary warning: "GENETICALLY ENGINEERED." There is not a shred of evidence that biotechnology is the least bit dangerous -- it often reduces the need for pesticides. To avoid branding their products with the Scarlet Warning, food processors would have to prove that every scrap and crumb in their fare is devoid of biotechnology or face crushing lawsuits. Grocery prices high enough yet?

Prop 38: Pay More, Get Less - NO

Not to be outdone by Prop. 30, this measure heaps $120 BILLION of new income taxes on those earning more than $7,316 (the new millionaires and billionaires of California's impoverished economy). It's for the schools, of course. No doubt these dollars (which families would just waste on necessities) will be as well spent as the staggering fortune that we're already shoveling into the sclerotic school system.

Prop 39: Tax Us Before We Hire Again - NO

This is a $1 billion per year tax increase on California businesses to subsidize a whole new generation of Solyndra scams. But remember, businesses don't pay business taxes; they only collect them from employees through lower wages, from consumers through higher prices, or from investors through lower earnings. Prop 39 might be bad news for California's employees, consumers and investors, but it's great news for the Nevada Chamber of Commerce.

Prop 40: Your GOP Donations At Work -- YES

This is a monument to the stupidity of some Republican Party leaders, who spent nearly $2 million of party funds to qualify -- and then drop -- this referendum to overturn the Senate reapportionment because several state senators didn't like their new districts. They had hoped to run in their old seats, but after qualifying the initiative found out they couldn't anyway. A "Yes" vote affirms that the new non-partisan Citizens Redistricting Commission works.



Los Angeles County Libertarian activist Ted Brown differs with some of McClintock's recommendations. Brown writes:

Prop 34 -- YES on getting rid of the death penalty; the government has no right to kill people, as far as I am concerned.

Prop 35 -- NO on the sex trafficking measure; this will pass with 75% but it still has many bad provisions; our own Cop to Call Girl author, Norma Jean Almodovar, is one of the opponents.

Prop 36 -- YES on modifying 3 strikes, so that the 3rd strike must be a serious or violent one.

Measure B on the L.A. County ballot should be a resounding NO -- especially since my wife and I wrote the argument against it. This measure would force adult film actors to wear condoms.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

2012 Presidential Debate Party in West Hollywood

Jay Jones, of the South Bay Libertarians, emailed me the following message from Taylor Peck:

"iSideWith is hosting a watch party for the first presidential debate next Wednesday in West Hollywood. We would be honored if you and any members of the Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County could attend."

iSideWith / Pink Taco
Presidential Debate Watch Party

Wednesday, October 3, 2012
5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Pink Taco West Hollywood
8225 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90046

(323) 380-7474