Category Archives: Politics (theory, History, Now)

Facebook: Trust, but Verify!

Earlier today, I was invited by Facebook to complete a process of authentication that would secure my profile with a “verified badge,” such that people who read my posts on my Timeline can trust that the words come from me! A check mark now appears to the right of my name on my profile page and to the right of my name anywhere that I make a comment. Hovering over that check mark, you’ll see that “Facebook confirmed that this is the authentic profile for this public figure.” Public figure! Wow!

As Facebook explains:

The verified badge appears next to a Facebook Page or profile. It means Facebook has confirmed that the Page or profile is the authentic presence of the public figure or global brand it represents. We don’t use the verified badge to endorse or recognize public figures or brands. The verified badge is a tool to help people find public figures and brands’ real Pages and profiles. If a Page or profile has the verified badge, we’ve confirmed that it represents who it says it does. If the badge isn’t there, it may not be the real Page or profile. Posts, stories and other content from verified Pages and profiles aren’t verified by Facebook.

So rest assured, my Facebook account is not a sock account (or, more properly, a “sock puppet account“), and my page represents an “authentic,” “unique,” “complete,” and “notable” profile. Given all that’s happened on Facebook over the last few years, I don’t know if this is a plus or a minus. But there aren’t many other folks who would want to “own” the dialectical libertarian “brand” I represent. I knew who I was before this verification process. I know who I am today. And, now, apparently, so do you!

smh 🙂

WTC Remembrance: Tribute in Light Continues …

This week I published my essay, “Twenty Years Later: Remembrance and Rebirth“, which marks the twentieth anniversary, today, of the events of September 11, 2001.

In 2012, I published photos I had taken on the tenth anniversary of the tragedy, including the one below. The Tribute in Light has always been a poignant reminder of what happened on that date, “two beams, symbolic of Twin Towers, that have shown up every September 11th. In cloud cover, it appears like … a ghostly glow beamed upward toward the heavens from what was once called Ground Zero, a dual-apparition of the Twin Towers of memory, powered by the nearly 3,000 souls who lost their lives on that horrific day.”

The Tribute in Light continues tonight, to mark the twentieth anniversary. If you’re in or near NYC, it’s worth a look …


The World Trade Center Site:  A Tribute in Light.  At Night, 9-11-11.

And this year (courtesy of EarthCam):

September 11, 2021

Never forget. ❤

WTC Remembrance: Twenty Years Later

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Since 2001, I have been writing annual installments to a series that came to be known as “Remembering the World Trade Center.”

My 2021 installment encapsulates all of the previous entries in the series, revisiting my own personal reflections, pictorials, and interviews of people who were deeply affected by the events of that day. Folks can read the newest essay here:

Twenty Years Later: Remembrance and Rebirth

As I state in the conclusion of my essay:

I have always touted the importance of a dialectical method of understanding the world—a method that requires us to look at each issue, social problem, or event by situating it in the larger context of which it is a part.


In this series, however, I made a conscious decision not to focus on the “big picture” in which the events of 9/11 took place or their historical background. I have not examined the wider political, social, and cultural context that made 9/11—and its aftermath—possible. I have done that elsewhere. I was less interested in those larger questions and more interested in understanding the personal tragedies of that day, because all too often, it is the personal that gets lost when one looks at the sheer scope of the catastrophe that was 9/11, with its monstrous loss of human life. Over these last two decades, I was persuaded that something unique was to be gained by piecing together a tapestry of tragedy—and of hope—not only through my own reflections and pictorials, but through the voices of individual human beings, each of whom had their own contexts, their own lives, their own futures altered so fundamentally by the events that unfolded on that late summer morning.


I have long believed that a future of more humane possibilities can only emerge when one does not disown memories, no matter how painful, sad, or tragic these might be. In the context of September 11, 2001, remembrance and rebirth entail one another. Remembrance has its therapeutic value, but it is also cathartic insofar as it makes possible our own ability to rise above the tragedy. Rebirth is itself an act of catharsis, of cleansing, almost by definition. It is my hope that this series of twenty-one installments has contributed to that project of remembrance and rebirth. It has been a tribute to those we have lost, and a paean—a song of praise, indeed—to those who survived, who demonstrated the life-affirming power of a community of individuals coming together to aid one another in the face of unimaginable horror. It is the power of life over death. It is the power of love over hate.

Though each of the previous installments is noted in the current piece, I provide below a convenient index to the entire series:

2001: As It Happened . . .

2002: New York, New York

2003: Remembering the World Trade Center: A Tribute

2004: My Friend Ray

2005: Patrick Burke, Educator

2006: Cousin Scott

2007: Charlie: To Build and Rebuild

2008: Eddie Mecner, Firefighter

2009: Lenny: Losses and Loves

2010: Tim Drinan, Student

2011: Ten Years Later

2012: A Memorial for the Ages: A Pictorial

2013: My Friend Matthew: A 9/11 Baby of a Different Stripe

2014: A Museum for the Ages: A Pictorial

2015: A New One World Trade Center Rises From the Ashes: A Pictorial

2016: Fifteen Years Ago: Through the Looking Glass of a Video Time Machine

2017: Sue Mayham: Not Business as Usual

2018: Anthony Schirripa, Architect

2019: Zack Fletcher: Twin Towers, Twin Memories

2020: Firefighter Gerard Gorman: Ultimate Survivor

2021: Twenty Years Later: Remembrance and Rebirth

Never forget. ❤


The Twin Towers, from the Staten Island Ferry, May 12, 2001
Photograph by Chris Matthew Sciabarra

“Kill the Mothers, That’ll Stop Them!”

This week, the United States Supreme Court refused to block a Texas law (Senate Bill 8) that went into effect on 1 September 2021, which effectively criminalized any abortions that take place six weeks into a pregnancy. But the bill goes a lot further. As Newsweek reported: “The law does not contain criminal penalties for illegal abortions but it empowers private individuals to enforce the regulations through lawsuits against doctors and anyone who ‘aids or abets’ in procuring a ‘criminal abortion.'”

This law allows any private individual in Texas to sue those who “aid or abet” the “murder” of the unborn, rewarding successful litigants “at least $10,000 in statutory damages for each illegal abortion aided by the defendant. … One potential target of lawsuits could be the person who gives a woman a ride to an abortion clinic. … ‘It even means you can sue an Uber driver who drives someone to an abortion clinic’.” That’s one way to get the state’s tentacles deeper into our lives: deputize the citizenry to carry out the moral law!

It occurs to me, however, that if folks in Texas really believe that the abortion of a fetus is akin to murder, why aren’t they taking care of this the ol’ fashioned Texas way? I mean, Texas has long led the United States in executions (since 1976, the state has executed well over 550 people). Granted, the rate of execution has slowed the last couple of years, but the state still far outstrips any other state in the country. So go ahead and criminalize the whole process!

It reminded me of a classic exchange of dialogue from the hilarious 1996 comedy, “The Birdcage“, between “Mother” Goldman (played by Nathan Lane) and conservative Senator Keeley (played by Gene Hackman):

Senator Keeley: Of course, it’s very wrong to kill an abortion doctor. Many pro-lifers feel … I don’t agree with them, but many of them sincerely feel that if you stop the doctors, you’ll stop the abortions.

Mother Goldman: Well, that’s ridiculous. The doctors are only doing their jobs. If you’re going to kill someone, kill the mothers, that’ll stop them! Oh, I know what you’re going to say: If you kill the mother, the fetus dies too. But the fetus is going to be aborted anyway, so why not let it go down with the ship?

Seems to me that the legislators in Texas ought to go all in on this and stop these half-hearted measures. Take a leaf out of Mother Goldman’s playbook and get this done!

Coronavirus (34): “Virtue Signaling” vs. Doing the Right Thing

On Facebook, I adopted a frame that put forth a very specific message:

I will state it for the record why I posted this because it is not the equivalent of “virtue signaling”. Given that I’m a self-described “dialectical libertarian” and that there has been an epidemic of COVID-denialism among too many libertarians, I thought it was important to make a public statement, beyond the 33 Coronavirus installments I’ve already written since the winter of 2020.

Let it be known far and wide that I am a libertarian who believes that it is indeed possible to be against the state and against coercion, and still voluntarily get myself vaccinated, despite the fact that the vaccine was developed by Big Pharma in league with Big Government. I believe in looking at the facts of reality as they are and making rational judgments based on the context of my own knowledge and experience. I’ve lived in a city that was, at one time, the epicenter of death and despair from this nightmarish virus. I’ve seen enough mass death for a lifetime and then some. I’ve lost family, friends, neighbors, and beloved neighborhood proprietors. And given my own medical preconditions and the health problems of my sister, for whom I am a primary caregiver, I made a reasonable decision to get vaccinated. My whole family is vaccinated. And my declaration of this is not an exercise in Virtue Signaling. We took the path of least risk, given that COVID could very well spell the difference between life and death for us.

And it needed to be said. I do not consider the posting of my own vaccination status to be the equivalent of posting about dental fillings, haircuts, STD tests, or prostate exams. Indeed, I’ve done all those things and not posted on them. If folks don’t see a qualitative difference between COVID and haircuts, and if folks don’t grasp the political and extra-political significance of this, all I can say is: We must be living on different planets.

So yep: I have a healthy distrust of authority and I’m vaccinated. I am a libertarian and I’m vaccinated.

In the discussion that followed my Facebook posting, I added:

I’m not going to “die” on this hill—I’ve been vaccinated, but I’m not indestructible, after all. That said, I’ve written thousands upon thousands of words on the COVID pandemic going back to March 2020. People can check it out on my blog and in my Notablog archives.

But I will say that one of the reasons I’ve been so disappointed with many of the typical libertarian responses to this is that it all was eerily familiar to what I saw in the HIV/AIDS debate back in the 1980s. The pattern seems to be, if a large-scale public health problem emerges, one that might suggest to some public policy wonks a greater role for government involvement, the immediate libertarian knee-jerk reaction has been to first, deny that the problem exists or call it a hoax, or second, to admit that if it exists, it’s affecting a very limited number of people and should have no public policy implications. In my blog post, “Coronavirus (21): Lockdowns, Libertarians, and Liberation“, I wrote:

Back in the 1980s, when HIV/AIDS was killing off a generation of gay men in the West (while ravaging a largely heterosexual population in Africa), some libertarians (including those influenced by Ayn Rand), ever fearful of those who proposed a growing governmental role in both medical research and in locking down bathhouses that were transmission belts for promiscuous, unsafe sex, grabbed onto the work of the molecular biologist Peter Duesberg, who played a major role in what became known as the AIDS denialism controversy. Duesberg was among those dissenting scientists who argued that there was no connection between HIV and AIDS, and that gay men were dying en masse because of recreational and pharmaceutical drug use, and then, later, by the use of AZT, an early antiviral treatment to combat those with symptoms of the disease.


If the scientific community had accepted Duesberg’s theories, hundreds of thousands of people would be dead today. The blood supply would never have been secured, since HIV screening of blood donors would never have become public policy, and countless thousands of people receiving blood transfusions would have been infected by HIV and would have subsequently died from opportunistic infections. A whole array of “cocktail” drugs were developed that have targeted HIV, the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, and they have been effective in keeping people alive, reducing their viral load down to undetectable levels, boosting their T-cell counts, and allowing them to go on to live normal, productive, and creative lives. Still, safe sex remains the mantra of the day.

So, while many libertarians have been at the forefront of rolling back the state’s interference in people’s personal lives, advocating the elimination of discriminatory anti-sodomy and marriage laws, there were some libertarians who, early on, in the AIDS epidemic, grabbed onto Duesberg’s theories as scientific proof that the whole HIV/AIDS thing was a pretext for the expansion of the state-science nexus. Confirmation bias is an especially strong urge for anyone with strong convictions. All the more reason to constantly check one’s premises, as Rand once urged.

The most recent public health problem certainly has had broader public policy implications than the HIV/AIDS crisis but the pattern remained the same among too many self-described libertarians that I’ve known. So now, despite the development of what certainly appear to be several relatively safe vaccines, the statistics show that the overwhelming majority of people getting infected and dying of COVID are among the unvaccinated. A very small percentage of current cases are breakthrough (among those who have already been vaccinated).

I don’t and won’t control what choices others might make. I’ve made my choice and have taken my chances. I’m not an epidemiologist, but I did what I believed I needed to do. And I stand by that choice and by the profile frame I’ve also chosen to represent it—to separate myself from too many people for whom a healthy distrust of authority has become a barrier to getting vaccinated, if not for themselves, than for the benefit of those loved ones who might be prone to getting infected or becoming seriously ill should you become an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.

Make your own choice. Choose your own frame. And if you don’t like what I’ve had to say, unfriend me and get on your way. That is one thing which is not up for debate.

Pearls Before Swine: Health Insurance Redux

Pearls Before Swine (by Stephan Pastis) has given us some gems on U.S. health insurance problems in the past. So this one expands on that theme …

Courtesy of the New York Daily News (17 August 2021)

How NOT to Read an Article

It was really late last night, after a long, eventful day, and I decided to open up Friday’s copy of the New York Daily News (Friday the 13th, no less!), and was thumbing through the newspaper, and the Sicilian in me caught the headline on page 18: “119.8 degrees in Sicily is eyed as European record” (by Nelson Oliveira). Wow! — I said to myself.

I gravitated to the center of the article, where something odd caught my eye:

Lucifer was expected to bring more heat and dry weather to Italy and neighboring countries, possibly causing additional wildfires.

WTF?? The West coast is burning, Greece is on fire, and now Lucifer is in on the act “causing additional wildfires” in Italy and elsewhere.

This couldn’t be, I said to myself. “Must be a misprint,” I muttered aloud. Now I’m looking back through the article to see how it is that somehow, on top of pandemics and global unrest, Lucifer has made an appearance to make matters even worse! And I found the answer!

Sicilian authorities said the mind-boggling [temperature] reading was recorded in the town of Siracusa on Wednesday afternoon as the region was hit by a brutal heat wave and an anticyclone dubbed “Lucifer.”

Okay. So at the very least, could we put “Lucifer” in quotes next time!

Liberty Airlines!

Courtesy of Andrew Ginsburg, in a letter to the New York Daily NewsVoice of the People“:

Let freedom ring at 35,000 feet


Southport, Conn.: On behalf of our unvaccinated flight crew here at Liberty Airlines, we’d like to welcome you all aboard!
Here at Liberty, your personal freedoms will not be compromised by public health concerns, and we are proud to be the only airline that gives Americans the choice of wearing a mask. You may also choose whether or not to cover your mouth when you cough — or wash your hands after you poop.

If you enjoy a cigarette at 35,000 feet, one of our flight attendants will be happy to assist you with a complimentary Liberty lighter. If a loaded assault rifle on your lap brings you comfort, our new economy-plus seats will provide you and your “little friend” with a spacious in-flight experience.

We place no limit on carry-on luggage because, unlike our competitors, once the overhead bins are full, we line the center aisle with all remaining bags. Your electronic devices may be used at all times, but headphones are not recommended, as we encourage all passengers to express themselves with a complete disregard for those around them. There are no seatbelt signs, so feel free to roam the cabin and even interact with our pilots, who will be happy to let you fly the plane for up to 10 minutes.


Remember, here at Liberty, your freedom comes first, and we trust that your decisions will be the right ones. Thank you, and we hope you enjoy the flight.

I don’t care what your politics are… this is hilarious. And if you’re going to die on this hill and fight and argue about it, have at it!