A Resource Site on Frank Pais

Over on my friend Ian’s blog,  I left a few comments with some information about Frank Pais in response to one of the posts.  Frank was the son of a Baptist pastor who fought in the early days of the Cuban Revolution. He is quite intriguing.

I’ve put up a small website to assemble some of the information I’ve gathered thus far.  My motivation for doing this lies mainly in putting it out there in case it might be helpful to others, and I also hope that having it out there may help me in gathering some more information about Frank Pais in the future.   The collection of information is sort of sparse, but I trust I’ll be able to expand it in due time.

The website is Frank Pais: A Research Collection

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Partisan Law Enforcement in the Palmer Raids

The following account describes how bickering partisanship played itself out during the ‘Red scare”. They raids were conducted on suspected radicals, communists, and anarchists.

“In the last days of December the plans were completed, and the warrants went out by the thousands to Department of Justice officials across the country. The target date for the raids was to be January 2.

In Chicago, when the Republican State Attorney Hoyne learned that the Democractic administration was planning a raid, he made ready for his own raid to steal the thunder of the administration. On January 1, state and local officials swooped down in Chicago in 300 separate raids, picking up 200 prisoners. Hoyne complained that they would have had more prisoners except that the Department of Justice tipped off the radicals that the state was raiding.”

from The Palmer Raids 1919-1920: An Attempt to Suppress Dissent by Edwin R. Hoyt

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A Harsh Reality Check for the Liberty Movement

I love the small resurgence in libertarianism that is surging through the U.S. in the form of renewed interest in causes such as the Ron Paul movement within the Republican party, the Libertarian party, the Tea Party, and also the Free State Project. This is great, and I hope it works out well.  I tip my hat to this movement and support it where I can.

However, I want to provide a reality check here.  Consider and compare these numbers:

  • Bob Barr (latest Libertarian Party candidate)  in 2008 Presidential Election: 523,686 votes – 0.4% of the vote
  • Ron Paul in the Republican Primaries: 1,160,403
  • The Socialist Party’s votes  in the 1912 Presidential Election: 901,551 votes – 6% of the popular vote

That’s right, there were about as voters for the Socialist Party of America in 1912 as were are Republicans in 2008 who supported Ron Paul. And from 1900-1932, the Socialist Party of America NEVER took a proportion of the presidential race equal or lower to that of the Libertarian candidate Bob Barr in 2008. In fact, Bob Barr has took under 1/12 of the proportion that the Socialist candidate took in 1912.

Don’t want to be a pessimist or anything, but I found this interesting. The Socialists Party of America had 6% of the country. The Libertarians rarely have gotten over 0.5% of the popular vote. Until they reach at least 3% of the popular vote (which is still half of what the Social Party of America attained to in 1912), the U.S. Libertarian Party should probably stop patting themselves on the back and recognize that they are still a very marginal party.

What explains this? No doubt the U.S. is more of a “two party” country now, with probably more things in place to marginalize “third parties”. But still, one would think the Libertarians could at least attain to the sort of popularity that the Socialists attained to 1912. After all, one would think America was not very Socialist-friendly in 1912. But perhaps there was more sympathy for Leftist ideas in America in the early 1900’s than a Gen-X-er might suppose.

So, I’m left wondering, what is a “harder sell”: Libertarianism in 2009 or Socialism in 1912?

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A Guevarista Rethinks Guevara

I found it interesting to read today something by Mark Rudd, who was a leader in the SDS in the 60s and the violent leftist Weather Underground in the 70s. The speech was made this month at Oregon State University.

Rudd seems to remain on a similar page politically (as far as I can tell), though he appears to have renounced the violent aspects of his strategy (although, existing forms of socialism imply a certain amount of violence, the violence of the state, and he appears to remain committed to that) .

He said (a few quotes from the full paper, Che and Me):

“I was a Guevarista, a member of the cult of Che.  That meant not only putting up multiple posters with Che’s image on the wall in my room during college, but whole-heartedly accepting the theory that a small armed group could spark revolution by actually beginning military action.”

“One thing we hadn’t stopped to notice was that Che, in October, 1967, using precisely the same strategy that we proposed to use, had already been defeated and killed in Bolivia…Blinded by my love and admiration for ‘the Heroic Guerilla,’ as Fidel had dubbed Che, I didn’t want to see that there was a fatal flaw in the theory.  It didn’t work.”

“This is a tough thing to write, since it puts me close to the camp of right-wingers who have always attacked Che as a murderer and a terrorist, but I believe that by the end of his life, after the years of blood and to-the-death struggles of the Cuban revolution, Che had become both homicidal and suicidal.”

“…personally, I’ve long ago opted out of the cult of Che which I joined over forty years ago. It’s impossible for me to look on Che as the great revolutionary hero anymore;”

I find this interesting, because Mark Rudd was not your run-of-the-mill person who looked up to Che. He was trying to bring Che Guevara’s war to the U.S.A., he was an American Guevarista if there ever was one. The Cuban government even invited him over to visit as a delegate while he was with the SDS.

I’m certainly glad Mark Rudd’s vision was not imposed on America in the 1970s. I’m glad the Weather Underground was a failure and never got very far “off the ground” so to speak. Their case is a perfect example of  how out of touch with reality people can get in their own little subcultures.  Gee… Even the Black Panthers, Vietnam leaders, and Cuban leaders voiced major concerns and some of them warned the Weather Underground not to go ahead with this. And in the case of the Weather Underground, getting “out of touch” meant causing chaos, blowing up things, and becoming fugitives.

I’m also glad that Mark Rudd has lost his ‘rose colored’ glasses about Che Guevara. Now, if only he’d forsake socialism and its inherent violence and also stop dreaming that Obama is going to fix things!  If Arlo Guthrie became a Ron Paul fan, who’s to say Mark Rudd couldn’t come around some day and ditch socialism!

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Individual Rights and Group Rights

“There is a serious lack of concern for individual rights today. The concept of rights has been distorted to such a degree that the authors of the Constitution would not recognize what is today referred to as a “right.” Demands for unearned wealth, based on needs and desires, are now casually accepted as rights… Rights, as understood by the authors of the Constitution, are not an issue of current debate. Rights today are seen as collective and not something individual…groups are now thought to have rights, rather than individuals. The twentieth century has been characterized by the diminishing importance of the individual and the rising importance of the collective…It is commonplace for politicians and those desiring special privileges to refer to: black rights, Hispanic rights, handicap rights, employee rights, student rights, minority rights, women’s rights, gay rights, children’s rights, Asian-American rights, Jewish rights, AIDS victims’ rights, poverty rights, homeless rights, etc. Until all these terms are dropped and we recognize that only an individual has rights, the solution to the mess in which we find ourselves will not be found. The longer we lack a definition of rights, the worse economic and social problems will become.

…No longer are rights individual but they are based on demands, needs, and greed…When Lee Iaccoca came before the House Banking Committee on which I sat, he made the “right” of Chrysler workers to keep their jobs the issue, not government largesse for a failing corporation. He explained in his autobiography that the issue had to be workers’ needs or he could not obtain the bailout. Since the concept of rights is currently so inexact, he had no difficulty convincing the Congress. The rights of the small businessman who had his credit “stolen” and was forced into bankruptcy due to the Chrysler bailout was not easily identified and thus ignored.

Careless disregard for liberty allows politicians to promise anything in order to be reelected. Inevitably this leads to a steady increase in spending, forcing higher taxes, more borrowing, and inflation of the money supply.  Government by majority rule has replaced strict protection of the individual from government abuse. Right of property ownership has been replaced with the forced redistribution of wealth and property, without concern for the individual producing the wealth…The individual, throughout this century, has suffered greatly from this dramatic change in attitude. The individual who dares to demand to be left alone and to assume responsibility for himself becomes a criminal. Amish farmers have been arrested for not paying social security taxes, though they sought no aid from the government. Any independence from government welfare programs is deeply frowned upon. Those failing to keep financial records for the IRS are promptly imprisoned.

The good of “society” has replaced the notion that the individual has a sacred right to live unmolested by government interference……Until it’s respectable once again to champion individual rights and government, we cannot expect to reverse the trend in which we as Americans find ourselves.    With confusion regarding rights, the end of constitutionally protected liberty cannot be far off.  Society is filled with competing interests demanding their “rights.” Since no serious attempt has been made to define rights and limit government’s power to masquerade as economic equality in equal rights, the confusion gets worse every year.  This is a serious flaw in today’s political philosophy and, unless the nature of the problem is identified, freedom in America cannot survive. A lack of a precise standards for describing individual rights will destroy the American way of life”

Ron Paul in Freedom Under Siege, 1988

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Scott Horton Interviews Ron Paul

AntiWar.com’s Podcast with Scott Horton had a fascinating interview with Dr. Ron Paul.  They talk about how Obama and Hillary are keeping the interventionist American foreign policy chugging.  He discusses how people paradoxically THINK Obama is cutting military spending, but it is not at all true overall. Also interesting are the discussions of his conversations with Hillary Clinton and the discussion of Obama’s definition of “leaving”.

Also, you might be interested to check out the Cato Institute’s recent episode by Benjamin Friedman on Robert Gates (the Secretary of Defense for Bush and Obama).

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Spooner on Voting

“the act of voting utterly fails to pledge any one to support the government. It utterly fails to prove that the government rests upon the voluntary support of anybody. On general principles of law and reason, it cannot be said that the government has any voluntary supporters at all, until it can be distinctly shown who its voluntary supporters are.”

— Lysander Spooner (in No Treason)

“A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years”

–Lysander Spooner (in No Treason)

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ArchLinux Adventures – Part 1

I have an Aspire One netbook, and thus far I’ve used the stock Linux distribution. Due to some persuasion from my nephew, I decided to give ArchLinux a spin.  My objective is to get going with a simple, quick, flexible, and hopefully not too bloated install of Linux.

Specs of the system

Processor: Intel Atom CPU N270 @ 1.60GHZ

1GB RAM

ArchLinux, is touted as a “simple, lightweight linux distribution”. And this seems generally true. It isn’t simple in the sense of being “dumbed down”, but rather in terms of being uncluttered and generally uncomplicated for a person of intermediate or advanced Linux experience. The installer is minimalistic, but rather effective. It could be a bit more usable and intuitive, but generally it is not at all hard to figure out.  I chose the “core” installer, which requires a network connection to fetch the packages you install.

ArchLinux uses pacman. I was not crazy about this to begin with, but now I find it to be a reasonably functional and handy package management system. I decided to use XFCE for my desktop environment, as I figured this would be the best desktop environment all things considered (the laptop only has 1GB of RAM). There were a concerning amount of loose ends after I retrived and installed the packages I wanted, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome with a bit of tinkering. I was able to get XFCE, my wireless network card, the built-in web cam, and what not working.

Some software I’ve installed:

Linux Kernel: 2.6.29

Desktop Environment: XFCE4

Web Browser: Firefox 3.0.8

Multimedia: Mplayer, Cheese (Web Cam) 2.26.0, Audacity 1.3.7, gimp 2.6.6

Office: AbiWord 2.6.8, GnuCash 2.2.9

Development: Python 2.6.1, GCC 4.3.3

Editor: vim/gvim 7.2

Other Software: FileZilla 3.2.3, Nmap 4.76, XPDF, Putty 0.60, freemind 0.8.1, sshfs 2.2

I’ve timed a few operations, and here are the findings:

From Reboot to Console Login Prompt : 25 seconds

XFCE Load: 11 seconds

Load GIMP: 7 seconds

Compile nmap 4.85BETA7 with GCC: 3.5 minutes

There are definately still some loose ends that need to be fixed up before I feel really comfortable with this setup, but so far so good! I’m having fun. I really haven’t experimented with other distros since I’ve settled on Ubuntu (which still is my distribution of choice for regularly-powered systems).  I will post some more about this in the future.

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