sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

December 31, 2011

Saving Libertarianism from Ron Paul

I know there are people out there, decent people, who really, really want to like the Texan OB Gyn because he made a name for himself championing libertarian economic ideas.  They want to like him to the point of denying his racism.  But come on.

Steve Horwitz who was around when Paul devised his “paleolibertarian” strategy in the 80s, thinks that Paul was pandering to the Neo-Nazis (via Dan Mitchell).  You see, he didn’t want hippies in his movement, so he went for the white supremacist demographic.  Which makes total sense, of course.  I mean, Neo-Nazis are vastly more admirable, and the choice between the two is not a false dilemma.  Certainly in the 80s when greed was good and Ronald Reagan was the President the American mainstream was not primed for Libertarian ideas.  And in the 1980 the Libertarian Clark/Koch ticket didn’t get over 1% of the popular vote, best performance by Libertarians in a presidential race ever.

And in any case, if Paul didn’t like hippies then, he certainly likes them now, parsing #Occupy and pledging to unite them with the Tea Party.

Ron Paul Neo-Nazi

Your Congressional creep from TX with Stormfront founder and Stormfront founder's son

Longtime Paul adviser Eric Dondredo contends that Paul is not anti-Semitic, merely anti-Israel.  How do you figure?  Consider that Paul invents all sorts of imaginable unimaginable excuses for Iranian nukes and HAMAS.  And oh, he also claimed that Israel was behind the World Trade Center bombing.  For an alleged not anti-Semite, Paul acts and sounds an awful lot like one.

Still, Paul tells Haaretz that he feels “a bit surpris[ed] and disappoint[ed]” at being left out of Republican Jewish coalition Presidential debate.  The Congressman’s innocence is truly disarming.  Or not.

As is usually the case with the “anti-Israel” types, Paul is anti-American.  Take a look at his campaign commercial:

Yep.  Terrorists shooting at our men are freedom fighters.  US is the source of evil.  That this kind of rhetoric is coming from a Texas Republican should give every Berkeley professor pause.

In September 19 issue of National Review, Kevin D. Williamson, who writes terrific libertarianish essays on economics and politics, did a delightful expose of Ron Paul.  In it, Paul is quoted saying that there is no way a libertarian could possibly be a racist because libertarians just don’t have it in them.  Williamson commented that somebody put racist crap in Ron Paul’s newsletter, and it was a libertarian.

What’s “paleolibertairan” anyway, and how does he forge an alliance with the Nazis?  Libertarians are supposed to be live-and-let-live kind of people — small government, personal freedom and all.  Nazis took “live and let live” literally and turned it on its head.  They built a big government killing machine that successfully exterminated the Jewish population of Western and central Europe — along with Poles, Gypsies, Belorussians and others.  Ron Paul is supposed to be the principled candidate but his pandering to the neo-Nazis doesn’t sound too awfully principled to me.

Neither does his asking for earmarks and then voting against the bill that contains them.  The supposed principled libertarian got to bring the pork home and claim to be a principled libertarian on the national stage.  His supporters don’t like hearing about it.  Speaking of which, I fail to see how Paul’s personality cult positively reflects on libertarian movement.

Even if, as Horwitz suggests, Paul’s alliance with white supremacists was a matter of strategy, not conviction, Paul should recognize that he outlived his usefulness (granted, if libertarian ideas are currently popular, it is despite and not because of Ron Paul and his “paleolibertarian” strategy), step aside and allow a new generation of Libertarian Republicans (preferably not related to the Congressman by blood) rise to prominence.  A decent libertarian-leaning Republican candidate should be able to gather momentum, if only Paul wasn’t sucking all the air out of the room.

So far the MSM has largely given Ron Paul a pass.  A few weeks ago Rush Limbaugh explained that the Republican establishment wants a large group of non-Romneys to split the vote, so they left the OB alone (just realized, Barack Obama is BO, and Ron Paul is an OB, which is kind of amusing, admit it).  Democrats for their part would love Ron Paul to prevail because he’s the only Republican in the race who can’t defeat Obama.  The media that went berserk on the occasion of Sarah Palin’s target signs and turned stones on Rick Perry’s property is, curiously enough, not too terribly interested in Ron Paul’s racism.  At least not yet.  They know they have him by the balls, so they can ignore him for the time being.

I don’t believe the creep will get the nomination, but if he does well in Iowa, he will generate enough attention to damage the Republican party and libertarian ideas that he’s supposed to champion.  We will be associated with his racism and put on the defensive on the subject of race:

“What do you mean the Tea Party is not racist?  Isn’t Ron Paul a Tea party darling?”

“Libertarian economics?  But you are Jewish!”

I can hear it in my ears.

Take heart, though, the Republican and Libertarian blogs and magazines that are doing the vetting of Ron Paul.  The push back is a grass roots phenomena.

Happy New Year and cheers!


December 29, 2011

My Adventures in Soviet Dentistry

Filed under: politics, society, Soviet Union, whatever — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:01 pm

Infidel de Manhattan’s comment a few posts ago reminded me of an essay I wrote a decade ago (am I that old?) for my satirical zine (old school, xerox copied).  So here it is, My Adventures in Soviet Dentistry:

Gone are the days when Americans were tough cowboys. You guys are nothing but a bunch of wimps! Something as mundane as a dental visit instills dread in your hearts. I understand, American dental chairs are a bit intimidating; they look too much like operating tables. Other than that, American dentistry is a piece of cake.
Back in the Soviet Union, a comrade had no reason to look forward to a dentist appointment. That’s why as a little girl I resented regular check-ups. By the way, since the Soviet dentists did not insist on personally cleaning and polishing Soviet teeth every half a year, a regular check-up was the visit that a comrade made when she felt that her teeth were beginning to rot. Once it happened, a Soviet dentist drilled the cavity and then filled it with something. Hopefully that something stayed in.
However, Politburo forbid, if the comrade left her teeth unattended, a root canal was indicated. Then the comrade had to make an emergency visit to a nearby dental clinic. While sitting for several hours in the reception area in an overcrowded dental facility and enduring the pain, the comrade was exposed to the shrieks of patients, young and old, male and female, who frequently emerged out of the office pale as plaster and with tears running down their cheeks. Finally, the comrade made it to an unimpressive Soviet dental chair.
Egalitarian Soviet dentists didn’t need any dental assistants or any x-ray shots these assistants could provide. Egalitarian Soviet dentists insisted that a simple mirror is enough to understand the problem. After inspecting the comrade’s teeth for a minute or two, they pronounced that they will drill. Not that this pronouncement wasn’t anticipated. I am convinced that no Soviet patients would ever voluntarily submit herself to drilling if not for the intolerable pain already present in the jaw.
You see, Soviet dentists had no use for painkillers of any kind. They just drilled and drilled and drilled. And patients just sat there in poorly equipped dental chairs and felt pain escalating to 11 on the scale of 10. That’s what comrade gets for not having regular check-ups. To redeem oneself and be rewarded with healthy teeth, the comrade had no choice but to live through this excruciating pain. Thankfully, where there is pain, there is hope; and if there is no hope, why even live?  As a little girl I was informed that if a root canal isn’t done on time, a comrade might die of an infection.  So yeah, it’s a life and death drama, love is also there, I get to it later.
Once the drilling was complete, the pain receded to a normal level and the dentist applied some arsenic to the nerve in the ill-fated tooth and patient left for the day. On account of the presence of poison in one’s mouth, eating was strictly forbidden for several hours. But few comrades wanted to eat in the first place. You see, the 2.5-3 hours following the insertion of arsenic, the comrade ran around in agony. The pain escalated and reached its high point about an hour after the appointment. Eventually though, the Soviet root canal nerve lost the battle to the Soviet arsenic, and perished. The next day, the happy comrade returned to the clinic where the arsenic and the nerve were removed and a filling was inserted. Depending on arrangements, the comrade may have presented the dentist with money and/or gifts upon the completion of the procedure. So don’t ever say that since Soviet dentistry was free, you got what you paid for.
…I remember once I had to get a baby tooth removed during a summer vacation in the countryside. I knew for months that I had a root canal, but being 6 and already familiar with the procedures, I simply refused to go to a clinic until it was too late.  Thankfully, there was no root canal and arsenic this time, only some country doctor pulling the tooth out. I think I screamed so hard that I passed out for a second. My mom says that it’s all nonsense and I couldn’t possibly pass out because I never stopped screaming. Thanks mom!
Former Soviet citizens living in the US are inspired by Western dentistry. I knew a girl who loved the dental appointments so much, she craved everything associated with them. She even contemplated getting these exotic devices called braces although she didn’t really need them. In part this desire originated because being an FOB in an American high school she didn’t quite get it yet. She saw all kinds of kids wearing braces, so she decided that it’s a cool thing to have.

P.S. My uncle met his future wife, a dentist, when he had to have a root canal done. Is that kinky or what?

December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas: The Run on Eggnog Edition

Filed under: local news — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:25 pm

We have the eve of the Christmas eve tradition of drinking eggnog and bourbon and watching Marx brothers movies.  Only this year we had hard time finding eggnog two days before Christmas.  For some reason most stores in our town sold out of eggnog, so we nearly had to go to Oakland.

Anywho, merry Christmas to my Christian friends and happy Festivus to everyone else.

We are going to LA tomorrow morning, but a comment by Infidel de Manhattan made me think of a little essay I wrote for a zine a had 10 years ago.  I think I might just find and post it.


December 22, 2011

Nancy Pelosi Spam

Filed under: politics, whatever — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:44 pm

Today I had an electronic communication from the former Speaker delivered to my mailbox.

pelosi spam

I don’t believe I previously contacted Mrs. Pelosi or signed up for her newsletter, nor do I reside in her District.  Did my Congressman Pete Stark surrender my email address to his boss?  Did someone else sold me out?

December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:41 pm

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah.  We went to the Union Square in San Francisco to see the lighting of the Bill Graham Menorah.

People light candles from the rabbi's torch

Historically we place our menorahs near a window for everyone to see.  We do it to celebrate our freedom to worship.  The tradition of public menorah lighting originated in San Francisco in 1975; it was underwritten by Bill Graham.  Now Chabad lights menorahs the world over.

Occupoids are no longer occupying Union Square; they were removed to put up the ice skating rink, but, alas, no party is without party poopers.  So we had a group of about a half a dozen old people billing themselves as Jews protesting religious celebrations on public property.

The blond woman in glasses on the bottom left is not affiliated. She is a nice Russian granny. The bottom line of the posters reads "NO GODS NO MASTERS NO MASTERS NO SLAVES"

Russian revelers, who are probably some sort of atheists, got sarcastic at their expense.  Quite a few non-Jews came over to check out the ceremony.  It’s a fun family-friendly tradition and a great way to celebrate freedom of religion in the US.

December 19, 2011

#Occupy Child Abuse Update: Mother of the Year and Mother of the Year Runners Up

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 1:53 pm

In the #Occupy high days, I posted quite a bit about the movement’s child abuse.  Since #Occupy is withering away and I was doing some family-related travel as well as making other adjustments, I dropped the ball.  But I guess as long as there is #Occupy, there is #Occupy child abuse.  First spotted on Rouge Operator is this most egregious example of all: A mother put her child on train tracks to shut down the Port of Portland.

Note that by her logic she is not endangering her child because no humane person would run over her child.  But wait, this means that occupiers know that their adversaries are humane, and that due diligence will be exercised to make sure that they are not hurt.  The movement, however, does not recognize the humanity of others, be it the 1%, a truck driver delivering goods to a port, a resident of Lower Manhattan or even their children.  Those are merely pawns in the grand game of redistribution.

Considering that Time magazine chose occupiers to be the person of the year, this woman must be our mother of the year.  Always on Watch has the runners up, Parents for Occupy Wall Street starring their founder Kirby Desmarais, the chick in a knit hat.  She tried so hard but failed to outdo her fellow #Occupier mom in Portland.  Anywho, you can see the whole video on AOW.

Parents for Occupy Wall Street got their children to chant slogans and cry for the cameras.  The later was accomplished by having the youngsters tape their handmade hearts to a fence at NYPD headquarters to protest what they saw as “police brutality”.  The policemen had to remove the art projects, and, sure enough, the kids cried.  Parents for OWS made somber faces and said “lets go”.

It’s one thing to take one’s children along to a protest, but quite another to make them a centerpiece of a protest.  Getting one’s children to weep to generate sympathy for one’s cause is more wicked still.

December 15, 2011

How Not to Raise a Global Kid

Parents magazine is reliably full of bad ideas.  The latest one is their take on multicultural education: How to Raise a Global Kid.  Lets take it from the top:

The names on the classroom door say it all: Saynab, Jexus, Victoria, Abdullahi.

That’s the author, Elizabeth Foy Larsen, gushing over something called “an authorized International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme”, or a non-profit multicultural education curriculum, which, according to Larsen, has “obvious” social benefits and prepares kids for “the global future”.   Larsen tries to suggest that the names  are cosmopolitan, but it really sound like an average day at an upper middle class Bay Area playground.  If we are to trust baby naming trends documented by the Social Security Administration (and I don’t see why not), it’s not just the Bay Area, it’s the whole country.  American parents give their kids exotic names.

Larsen  interviewed Jennifer Manise of another non-profit, the Longview Foundation.  Manise opined that “We are citizens of the world. To understand that is helpful.”  and gave her expert opinions on how to raise a “global kid”.

While I don’t think Manise used the word “citizens” to literally mean that we all have global citizenship, I second some of the suggestions, like pinning maps on walls or talking about foreign travel.  There are some cheesy ones, though.  Among them:

Find festivals.
From the Chinese New Year (on January 23 in 2012) to Italy’s Feast of San Gennaro (celebrated each September), the United States is packed with ethnic celebrations that welcome the general public, says Manise. “Having a chance to see arts and crafts and hear folktales, music, and language is a wonderful experience for the entire family.”

Those can be fun, but the educational value of such events is questionable because they are less authentic than the most touristy intersections of the home country they suppose to represent.  Festivals take a few traditions, rip them out of context and put them on display.  They don’t give the viewers an idea of what the life in the mother country is like and rarely introduce the viewer to the highest achievements of the civilization in question.

Make it personal.
“One of the unique aspects of American culture is that almost all of us came from somewhere else,” says Manise. Talking about your children’s background and your family’s journey to the United States helps kids connect to the concept of a larger world community.

Funny, a cousin of mine forwarded me a Russian chain email about a Russian immigrant whose American-born daughter wanted to see the country where, she says, she would had been born.  His first response was “Honey, if we’d stayed in Russia, you would not be born at all.  There is no way we could afford another child.”  While discussing family history is a good idea, an honest conversation will likely highlight something unflattering about the country of origin.  Just a word of warning to Parents readers who might incidentally find out that most people in this world are not citizens but subjects.

This one is a big don’t:

Embrace world music.
If you haven’t already, update your playlists to include music from around the world and watch international pop music on YouTube with your kids. “As kids become accustomed to musical diversity they adjust naturally to the various sounds, which in turn makes those sounds feel less ‘foreign,'” says Homa Sabet Tavangar, a global-business and education expert and mom of three daughters. She wrote her book, Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, as a way for families to incorporate an international outlook into their daily life.

For goodness sake, unless by “international pop music on YouTube” the experts mean 1960s French pop, stay away! And lay off American pop too.  Instead, try a little classical here and there.  Case in point: embrace the great American tradition of taking the kids to see Nutcracker in December.  It’s a Russian ballet based on a German story, a double bingo.  As for didgeridoo, sitar and other exotic instruments, the kids will figure out them out on their own — if they need to.

Use soccer to go global.
Tavangar suggests picking a team to follow based on your heritage, your child’s friend’s heritage, your family’s favorite type of food, or the language you want to learn to speak. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association website ( includes an interactive world map to help you learn about all the teams and member countries.

OMG, this is so white people!

Make birthday parties global.
When you can move beyond the princess and Star Wars themes, try ones from global celebrations including Bastille Day, Cinco de Mayo, Earth Day, Chinese New Year, the World Cup, and Olympic Games, suggests Tavangar.

Considering that Cinco de Mayo is not a major Mexican holiday, at least not in Mexico, and Earth Day is 1970s Americana, the list is a bit ethnocentric.  More troubling is the fact that the International Olympic Committee coddles dictators, from Nazi Germany to Communist China.  But at least our children are not invited to celebrate the Paris Commune.

Watch a foreign film.

“A 3-year-old can have a warm croissant and see the ‘star’ of The Red Balloon travel through Paris,” says Tavangar. A 7-year-old can watch The Cave of the Yellow Dog, from Mongolia. Other classics include Japan’s My Neighbor Totoro and The Secret of Roan Inish, from Ireland. Tavangar recommends renting subtitled movies instead of dubbed versions, if possible. “Read the movie to them as you would a book,” she says. “That way they are also hearing the language.”

Before popping in that DVD, a prudent parent probably needs to make sure that her child will not be bored senseless by The Cave of the Yellow Dog.  I recently wrote about a Soviet film I loved as a child.  While I still find it charming, on nostalgia grounds, I seriously doubt my American children would be smitten.

My alternative suggestion:

Learn American history.  One can not truly appreciate other cultures without knowing his own.  Foreigners will not respect us if we are unable to articulate what makes our society great.  And no, “multiculturalism” is not the correct answer — because it doesn’t explain why we are free and prosperous people and leaves the impression of insecurity and self-loathing.

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