...And Then It's Springtime Again

Austin Dispatches No. 195 May 7, 2017


As if I don’t have enough disappointments, the woman with the best girlfriend potential is likely unsuitable. “Jacqueline Ferrera” turns out to be a committed anti-Trumper, an event organizer of four such groups in four different municipalities north of Highway 183 – serving Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock and Cedar Park. I wondered why I hadn’t seen her at salsa dances lately.


Fortunately, I found out her views by consulting meetup.com, rather than a devastating but more dramatically interesting account of her berating me at a social after I said the “wrong thing.”[1] Imagine if she inquired about my views. “I have this Webzine….”


A pity. She’s a Northeastern transplant, chic and smart, and even laughs at my jokes. Many love affairs have flimsier foundations. However, my sense is that a couple with starkly different worldviews only happens as a hackneyed romantic comedy trope.[2]


Everyone Else Gets It Wrong


Yet if we did date, and entered a political discussion, one idiosyncratic aggravation is that I’d be hindered in advocating libertarianism because nowadays the libertarian movement is insufficiently libertarian. Justin Raimondo recently summarized it perfectly:


Libertarianism today is a confused jumble of leftist "lifestylism," virtue-signaling, and emotional impulses disguised as a political program. You just have to take a look at the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld farrago to see this. On the one hand, the pro-drugs "live and let live" rhetoric, and on the other a declared adherence to a vague "centrism," brewed a counterintuitive amalgam of "rebelliousness" and pandering to the Establishment. Thus you had Johnson blathering on about the wonders of pot while Weld was endorsing Hillary Clinton. A more disgraceful campaign—in the name of "libertarianism"—would be hard to imagine.[3]


A greater pity. To contrast the realm of libertarianism from the early ‘90s, when the ideology represented the most consistent, coherent and optimistic counterforce to varieties of statism that were in rapid decline, discredited, on the defensive, or soon to reside in the dustbin of history,[4] to that of today, when libertarianism in aggregate has been slouching, and sometimes lurching, in the wrong direction since 9/11,[5] is to confront the realization that while we may be experiencing a “libertarian moment,” it’s a too-familiar one of declension instead of triumph, with the added frustration of being self-induced.[6]


During this same period, “libertarian” has gone from a term almost nobody else understood to a term self-proclaimed libertarians don’t understand. Worse, some libertarians – still too many at that – can’t distinguish their views from that of the corporatist, managerial-therapeutic, warfare-welfare state. That, or they’ve forgotten their own good insights.[7] These problems exist beyond the Libertarian Party, which I’ve addressed most intensively.[8] They also exist in other significant subgroups within libertarianism.


I believe the source of these weaknesses is a common misapplication of libertarianism from a political philosophy, dealing with the proper size and scope of civil government (short answer: as limited as possible) to social matters, where libertarians misapply critiques suited for the State against social arrangements that, among other benefits, serve as intermediary bulwarks for the individual against the State.[9] Or to put it more bluntly, too many libertarians have eschewed their natural constituency – the American bourgeoisie – to misemphasize fringe lifestyle fripperies, such as sodomy and sensimillia, as the foremost issues.[10] By doing so, they're helping to gnaw at the necessary sociocultural preconditions for libertarianism.[11]


Sublateral Move


I could discourse at length about the flaws of libertarians and psudeolibertarians, as further notes toward a reconstruction of libertarian politics, but I’m distracted by a pending move.


After 17 years’ residence in the same apartment, the landlord declined to renew my lease so it could remodel the unit to resemble a low-budget version of interior décor from luxury hotels about 20 years ago. Even my real estate brain trust had never heard of such a rationale.[12] As the best bad option, I should be moving into a similarly remodeled unit one building over later this month, but not before the leasing office had aggravated my worries with its miscommunication and incompetence.


Until the office finally offered a lease on a new apartment, with a $300 “concession” off the first month’s rent – that’s how much the property owner values my “loyalty” – I experienced an extended, simultaneous bout of two seemingly contradictory worries: being uprooted and dispossessed like a peasant or gypsy, and of remaining trapped in what was supposed to be a temporary abode, albeit the longest I’ve lived anywhere.[13] And after 17 years, I’m rusty at moving my worldly possessions, simultaneously too many and yet not enough. These anxieties derive from the threat of downward mobility.[14] As the barnburner once said, it’s as if every decision and achievement to date was nothing more than a set-up for your current predicament. At best, your previous success was just a fluke.[15]


The apartment manager told me the changes were necessary to compete with The Domain, though I couldn’t help but notice being competitive involves charging me more rent. Maybe that is the competition.[16] To think for years I dreaded the possibility my apartment complex would be converted into condominiums. Incidentally, I learned from a leasing consultant the manager is likely to lose her job after having enraged both the tenants, and not just the ones being forced from “classic” units – we were never properly notified – and the property owner management for botching the exterior remodeling project, beset with delays. Also, she has no people skills.


Austin Death Watch


My preoccupation of the last month is an example of real estate at the heart of Austin’s problems. City plans for “affordable housing” keep stumbling over basic economic laws, to the Austin power elite’s consternation.[17] Moreover, a neighborhood advocate points out the schemes for increased density – now including mid-Atlantic-style townhouses – would exacerbate the cost of housing while destroying the neighborhoods.[18] By extension, that also destroys another part of Austin’s distinctiveness. Thus, we may witness Austin’s transformation into a generic Sunbelt city despite the local power elite’s professed intentions. It would be even more amusing if the rising cost of living didn’t affect the rest of us.


A new report confirms that development and dangerous street people threaten the continued existence of music clubs on Red River Street.[19] Similarly, Carmelo’s, one of the great restaurants in town, will be replaced by condominiums.[20]


In June, contractors will install two free, 24-hour public toilets downtown as part of a City pilot program.[21] The real question here is how long it will take City officials to cancel the program after the toilets become reeking magnets for bums, muggers, junkies and prostitutes. There’s a reason such commodes don’t exist in the States. Meanwhile, an audit finds the City’s massively behind on patching its crumbling roadways.[22]


State police cited a councilman for trespassing at a state office building.[23] Too bad his district’s voters didn’t block him from trespasses at City Hall.


Neighborhood News


Elsewhere in the neighborhood, an assistant police chief was stopped for speeding near MoPac Expressway and Braker Lane. The real story is that the chief could drive 92 mph on the uncompleted MoPac construction project.[24]


Austin police seek a rapist who posed as a rideshare driver at The Domain.[25] An investment bank’s study concludes Whole Foods is losing customers, probably run over in the parking lots by SUV-driving yupettes.[26] Five of the 25 breweries listed in the Business Journal’s Mar. 17 cover story operate in the neighborhood.[27] Three eateries have opened at The Domain.[28]


A motorcyclist fell to her death from the MoPac overpass at 183.[29] The Statesman’s Traffic Web page reported collisions at southbound MoPac and 183 on Mar. 30, at  Research Boulevard and United Drive on April 3, at Stonehollow Drive and Gracy Farms Lane on April 13, at Research and Burnet Road on April 17, at Metric and Cedar Bend Drive on April 21, and at Parmer Lane and MoPac on April 25.


On the Town


Mar. 21: The Old Quarry library branch experienced a nighttime power outage and had to close early.


Apr. 15: Nearly 20 years after I missed his last Austin performance because of a conflicting work schedule, I finally saw jazz saxophonist David Murray at Kick Butt Coffee off Airport Boulevard. His playing was worth the wait.[30]


Business Roundup


The head of the Austin Technology Council maligns the American worker in the April 28 Austin Business Journal.[31] Someone should replace her with cheap foreign labor.


Shockingly, the Chronicle praises something actually praiseworthy: a couple of cold brew coffee brands that I regularly buy at my neighborhood grocery.[32] The Chronicle staff must’ve suffering the flu to permit such a simpatico opinion to slip in the April 7 paper.


The Mar. 31 Business Journal reports San Antonio civic leaders fret that Austin is taking away tourists.[33] The April Esquire skeptically evaluates a number of companies formed for asteroid mining.[34]


Science Roundup


British newspapers report that researchers have concluded Tyrannosaurus rex was a sensitive lover.[35] However, this topic was adumbrated decades ago in a short story by John Updike.[36]


Cultural Canapés


Court TV plans to add a children’s show to its programming, “Captain Kangaroo Court.”[37]


Notes in the Margins


Don Rickles, an old balding hockey puck who could’ve written for Austin Dispatches if he’d ever focused, instead of wasting his time in Vegas, died April 6, age 90.[38]

Home Archives


[1] Gordon, Michael E. Trump University Entrepreneur 101: How to Turn Your Idea Into a Money Machine, rev. ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2010: 125.

[2] McDonald, Tamar Jeffers. Romantic Comedy: Boy Meets Girl Meets Genre. New York City: Columbia UP, 2007: 118.

[3] “Four Questions: Justin Raimondo.” Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture 16 Mar. 2017 <https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/four-questions-justin-raimondo/>.

[4] AD No. 44n1 (Dec. 10, 2002); Barr, Bob. The Meaning of Is: The Squandered Impeachment and Wasted Legacy of William Jefferson Clinton. Atlanta: Stroud & Hall Publishers, 2004; Buckley, William F. Jr. “Agenda for the Nineties.” NR 19 Feb. 1990: 34-43; Hayward, Steven F. The Age of Reagan, Vol. I: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980. Roseville, Calif.: Forum, 2001: Ch. 3; Johnson, Paul. Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties, rev. ed. New York City: HarperPerennial, 1992: 729, 758-763, 765-768, 781; O’Neil, Patrick H. Essentials of Comparative Politics. New York City: W.W. Norton and Co., 2010: 35-38; The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930-1980. Ed. Steve Fraser and Gary Gerstle. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1989: Ch. 7-8; Terhorst, Paul. “Why Argentina Stopped Crying for Evita.” Liberty Nov. 1992: 34-38; Schippers, David P., and Alan P. Henry. Sellout: The Inside Story of Clinton's Impeachment. Washington, D.C.: Henry Regnery, 2000; Varieties of Progressivism in America. Ed. Peter Berkowitz. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 2004; Woodward, Bob. Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1999: Pt. 5.

[5] Doherty, Brian. Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement. New York City: PublicAffairs, 2007: 608-610.

[6] Draper, Robert. “Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?” New York Times Sunday Magazine 10 Aug. 2014: MM24.

[7] Doherty, op. cit., 609-612.

[8] AD No. 93 (Oct. 15, 2006); AD No. 99 (Aug. 10, 2007); AD No. 108 (April 28, 2008); AD No. 111 (June 12, 2008); AD No. 125 (June 20, 2009); AD No. 142 (June 16, 2011); AD No. 150 (April 16, 2012); AD No. 151 (May 22, 2012); AD No. 152 (July 4, 2012); AD No. 156 (Sep. 22, 2012); AD No. 159 (Dec . 25, 2012).

[9] Doherty, op. cit., 598; Mitchell, Brian Patrick. Eight Ways to Run the Country: A New and Revealing Look at Left and Right. Wesport, Conn.: Praeger, 2007: 22-23, 63-66; Nisbet, Robert A. The Making of Modern Society. New York City: New York UP, 1986: 24-25.

[10] AD No. 151n14; Block, Walter. “Libertarianism and Libertinism.” Journal of Libertarian Studies Fall 1994: 117-128; D’Souza, Dinesh. The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, rev. ed. New York City: Broadway Books, 2008: 144, 164-165, 171; Mitchell, op. cit., 68-69.

[11] Hayek, Friedrich A. The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism. Ed. W.W. Bartley III. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1988: 63.

[12] AD No. 145n7 (Oct. 8, 2011).

[13] AD No. 17n1 (Jun. 10, 2000); AD No. 51 (Jun. 24, 2003); Caterine, Joseph. “The Cross Creek Shuffle.” AC 5 May 2017: 13.

[14] Newman, Katherine S. Falling From Grace: Downward Mobility in the Age of Affluence, rev. ed. Berkeley, Calif.: U of California P, 1999.

[15] EAD No. 8n1 (Oct. 3, 1999).

[16] Dinges, Gary. “Ten Years On, The Domain Proves the Skeptics Wrong.” AAS 12 Mar. 2017: F1.

[17] Barbaro, Nick. “More and Cheaper Housing.” AC 14 Apr. 2017: 10; King, Michael. “Prisoners of Success.” AC 21 Apr. 2017: 8+.

[18] Neely, Christopher. “Doubts Raised Over New City Housing Goal.” CIN 26 Apr. 2017, Northwest Austin ed.: 1+.

[19] “Red River Under Pressure.” ABJ 28 Apr. 2017: 10.

[20] “Arrivederci, Carmelo’s.” ABJ 21 Apr. 2017: 8.

[21] “City to Install Temporary Public Restrooms Around Downtown Austin in June as Part of Pilot Program.” CIN Apr. 2017, Northwest Austin ed.: 19.

[22] Wear, Ben. “Austin Road Crews Deluged by Temporary Patches to Replace.” AAS 29 Mar. 2017: B1.

[23] Walsh, Sean Collins. “18 Arrested Amid Sit-In Over SB 4.” AAS 2 May 2017: A1+.

[24] Plohetski, Tony. “Police Official Hits 92 mph, Gets Warning.” AAS 29 Mar. 2017: B1.

[25] Villalpando, Roberto. “Rapist Posed As Driver, Police Say.” AAS 4 May 2017: B3.

[26] “Analyst: Whole Foods Losing Customers.” ABJ 31 Mar. 2017: 12.

[27] Theis, Michael. “How to Make Big Bucks by Brewing Beer.” ABJ 17 Mar. 2017: 5-9.

[28] “Now Open.” CIN Apr. 2017, Northwest Austin ed.: 4.

[29] Hall, Katie. “EMS: Motorcyclist Falls to Her Death.” AAS 26 Apr. 2017: B6.

[30] “Recommended This Week.” Ed. David Hernandez. AC 14 Apr. 2017: 56.

[31] Cronin, Mike. “Tech Leader Takes Trump to Task.” ABJ 28 Apr. 2017: 3.

[32] Gentile, Dan. “The Ground Breakers.” AC 7 Apr. 2017: 36-37.

[33] “Austin’s Success Worries Some in San Antonio.” ABJ 31 Mar. 2017: 12.

[34] Pendle, George. “ ‘Roid Rage.” Esquire Apr. 2017: 100-103+.

[35] “Joy of T-Rex! King of Dinosaurs Was Sensitive Lover.” Daily Mail 31 Mar. 2017: 11.

[36] Updike, John. “During the Jurassic.” Collected Early Stories. Ed. Christopher Carduff. New York City: Library of America, 2013: 590-594.

[37] Good Morning Captain: 50 Wonderful Years With Bob Keeshan, TV’s Captain Kangaroo. Ed. Cathryn Long. Minneapolis: Fairview Press, 1996.

[38] McLellan, Dennis. “Comedian Made It an Honor to Be Insulted.” LAT 7 Apr. 2017: A1+.