It’s Cardinal Nation … Win or Lose

Cardinal NationI was at the St. Louis Cardinal game on Friday night and we were defeated by the last place Cubs 7 – 2 in a game where we scored a couple of runs in the first inning and then stranded nine runners and looked pretty awful. During the game we had a “fan” behind us who seemed to only find enjoyment when the Cubs scored runs so he could tell us how awful our manager is and how awful our pitching is. I had a fellow next to me tell me there was no way we could make the playoffs with pitching like that.

On the other hand there were plenty of Cardinal fans cheering their team and upset with the loss. They talked about what was going wrong and what could possibly be done to make it better.

The next day they lost 5 – 1 to the Cubs punctuating what has been a frustrating season. Before the season started the Cardinals were the favorites to win the National League Central Division after having lost in the World Series the year before. Our starting pitching was solid and our young relievers looked good. There was some concern about our hitting but generally we were the favorites.

As the season has gone along we’ve had a number of injuries and the Milwaukee Brewers have played much better than expected. They’ve been leading the division almost since the first week of the season.

Expectations often drive our emotions when it comes to life. If the pundits predicted the Cardinals would finish in last place many people would have been happy to be just 1.5 games out of first place on August 30. But that was not the reality. We were supposed to win so expectations were high.

The players and coaching staff have talked about how tough this year has been and I would imagine expectations weigh as heavily, or even more so, upon them than they do on the fans. The miserable performances on Friday and Saturday afternoon led a lot of people to think the Cardinals were finished for the season. Perhaps they are. Maybe they won’t make it to the playoffs. Maybe if they make it to the playoffs they won’t win the World Series.

It doesn’t matter to me. I’m a member of Cardinal Nation win or lose.

There’s an interesting phenomenon in professional sports where some franchises seem to do well year after year. There is Packer Nation, Red Wing Nation, Laker Nation. I’m fortunate enough to have been a Cardinal fan since I can remember. Many of my best memories are from Cardinal victories and I’m not going to let a tough season make me forget those memories.

I love going to the games. I love rooting for my teams. I get mad when they lose. I’m willing to lay some blame. But I’m not willing to be happy when the team I love loses because it vindicates my prediction about a player or manager.

I’m of the opinion that a higher percentage of positive attitudes among fans helps build a Nation. Fans that root for their team, win or lose, that believe in them, that give them their support even in the tough times. With fans like that owners, managers, and players just want to win more than the other owners, managers, and players. And when you want to win more than the other guy, well, often times you do. Certainly not always, or even most of the time.

When it comes to my Rams I’m envious of the Packers, Steelers, and 49ers. When it comes to the Missouri Tigers I look with envy at the tradition and power of Alabama and Nebraska. When it come to the Blues I may hate the Red Wings but I get it. Their fans are proud and rightly so.

But, by golly, it’s nice to be a part of Cardinal Nation.

Oh, by the way, the Cards took the second game of that double-header and fought back from a 5 – 0 deficit to win today 9 – 6. We’re tied for first in the Central.

Here we go, Cardinals, here we go!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
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Michael Sam Reporting – Pandering to Gay Bashers

michael-sam-ramsAs many of you who read my blog know I’m a St. Louis resident and big sports fan. I consider the Cardinals, Rams, Blues, Billikins, and Missouri Tigers my home teams. I have season tickets to the Rams and I’ve observed without a lot of interest the stories revolving around Michael Sam.

For those who are not big sports fans this is a story simply because after he finished his college career but before the NFL draft Sam announced he was gay. At time he was generally considered to be someone who would be taken around the 5th round of the NFL draft. In the chaos of his life after the announcement he went to the NFL Combine and did poorly. Thus he slipped all the way to the 7th round and the Rams.

Since then there have been a plethora of stories about Sam. The Oprah network hoped to do a show about him during the Rams training camp but that didn’t seem like a good idea to anyone except the network and it was squashed.

As I said earlier, I’ve been pretty much ignoring the stories about Sam. They really don’t offer much. He’s certainly not the first homosexual in the NFL or college football. He has largely kept pretty quiet about the whole thing in his quest to make the team. The stories are almost completely fluff pieces without any substance and certainly no other 7th round pick has gotten near this publicity. It’s all about him being gay.

So why am I suddenly writing a blog about it? ESPN sent a reporter to Rams park the other day and she was all about Sam. I happened to catch the press conference after practice, called a Presser, and this woman was hounding coach Fisher about Sam to the point of annoying everyone. It wasn’t until later that I heard she went to the Rams players and started asking about Sam’s showering habits.

This line of questioning angered enough people that ESPN has had to apologize.

What is the reason ESPN sent this woman to talk to the Rams? What is the reason for all these stories? It’s not the Lesbian and Gay community and their supporters. It’s for the people who go apoplectic about lesbians and gays. They are the ones that drive the rage fueled comments about the lesbian and gay “agenda” of the story.

Do you hate gay and lesbian people? Are you sick of reading about them? Stop clicking on the stories and stop posting rage-comments. These stories are all about you! You are absolutely causing these stories to be written. ESPN sent this reporter in to ask these questions because they are pandering to gay and lesbian haters. And that’s disgusting in its own right, let alone the vile nature of the line of questioning to begin with. There are plenty of people angry about that, I won’t add to the chorus.

What makes me mad is all the people claiming ESPN is pandering to gays and lesbians. Look in the mirror. They are pandering to you.

Take a little responsibility. If you don’t want to read a story about Michael Sam because he’s gay, and that’s about the only reason he’s being written about, then don’t click on the story. Don’t write a comment. Every time you make that click and make that comment you ensure that another story will be written. And when you claim it is an “agenda” for the gay and lesbian community you’re simply wrong. It’s all about your and your clicks.

As Chris Long so succinctly tweeted, “Get over it.”

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
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Dorial Green-Beckham Can’t Play Football for a Year?

Dorial-Green-BeckhamI’ve been railing against the unjust system the NCAA has created in many posts over the years and now I’ve got another one to write. The NCAA has done something that I find not merely reprehensible but clearly illegal. I’m not a lawyer so this is merely a layman’s opinion.

So what has the NCAA done this time?

A fellow by the name of Dorial Green-Beckham was one of the mostly highly recruited high school athletes in the nation and it was a huge win for my Missouri Tigers when the agreed to attend the University of Missouri. He had two very productive seasons at Missouri and near the end of last year was particularly good. There were incredibly high hopes that he might be one of the best wide receivers in the nation this coming season.

He had several off field incidents which involved criminal activity and personal inadequacies. Such star players normally get multiple chances when lesser athletes would not and Green-Beckham was given these extra opportunities. He failed to pull himself together and eventually the University of Missouri kicked him off the football team. The NCAA has rules that sophomores are not allowed to enter into the NFL draft (I’ll save my objection to that for another day) and so he had to find somewhere to play his third season for before becoming eligible for the NFL.

The Oklahoma Sooners agreed to give him a scholarship and he joined the team. The NCAA has a transfer rule which says that if a player leaves one top-level school to go somewhere else they must sit out for a full season. I personally think even this rule borders on illegality. It equates to a non-compete clause in your contract where you must not take a job within a certain distance of your current job or with a competitor. The legality of these non-competes has been tested and they rarely stand up.

In this case Green-Beckham did not voluntarily leave the University of Missouri. He was kicked off the team. I can’t believe there is a non-compete in the world that would stand up if you were fired from your job. Once you’ve been fired you should be able to proceed in any direction you desire. I can possibly see a situation where someone behaves atrociously in the hopes of getting fired to avoid a non-compete but that’s not the case here. Beckham was happy at Missouri and not looking to transfer. He was kicked off.

However, the NCAA has decided that despite the fact that Green-Beckham was involuntarily removed from the team he is still subject to the transfer rule and must sit out a season. I’m no fan of Green-Beckham. He’s a good player but his behavior has been reprehensible, particularly those parts that were not criminal. I don’t want to get into that because it’s not part of the equation. He was fired from his job and the NCAA is insisting that his non-compete still applies.

I honestly don’t understand how any entity can prevent you from doing anything you want after you were fired from your current position. I’m shaking my head. I’m completely baffled. This can’t be legal, can it? Any lawyers out there that can help me out?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
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Mo’ne Davis Misleading Headline

Mo'ne Davis Misleading HeadlineAnd we have a winner in the Misleading Headline of the Week contest!

I usually find my Misleading Headline on Yahoo which conglomerates from other places but today the story is actually from the desk of Yahoo Sports.

Mo’ne Davis, and why no one should laugh at the idea of a woman in Major League Baseball screams the banner rolling across the top of the story about the young girl who is pitching well in the College World Series. She’s grabbed the attention of America and this was demonstrated the other night when my niece and mother were extolling how this girl was beating all the boys.

I had to remind them that a thirteen-year old girl is often times bigger and stronger than her peers.

As is often the case with my Misleading Headline of the Week the story itself is very rational. It explains that girls of this age not infrequently excel against their male competition but then puberty hits. Mo’ne is likely not going to be getting bigger than her already 5′ 4″ frame. The boys she will be playing against will soon be well over six-feet tall and weigh 200 lbs.

It’s great that Mo’ne is doing well. It’s a neat story and I wish her the best. She’s may get invited to throw out the first pitch at a Phillies game this year but she won’t be taking the mound in a competitive game at the major league level. There are a few young women who throw a decent knuckleball and it’s just possible they’ll play in the minor leagues but I don’t see any conceivable way a woman is going to be a major league pitcher.

As I said, the article covers all these facts quite nicely. It’s a really well-written article. The headline used to generate interest? Not so much.

Go get ’em Mo’ne!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
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Misleading Headlines – Plunging Asteroid

One Story Two HeadlinesIn my ceaseless vigil to find my loyal audience misleading and amusing headlines I take a look at quite a few stories but I think this is a first for me. I’ve found a story in the Huffington Post and a story in the Inquisitr that are not only about the same subject but actually use the same graphic in their headline!

The two stories actually say pretty much the same thing and are fairly interesting to anyone who follows space news. The headlines; both in the Yahoo news aggregation and on the stories themselves, tell completely different stories.

The Inquisitr blares: Asteroid Hurtling To Earth: Could Lead To Human Extinction

Huffington says: Astronomers Think This Cosmic Rubble Pile May Show Us How To Avert An Asteroid Disaster

What’s interesting to me is the grasping headlines are in such stark contrast to the reasonably written stories. Anyway, take a look at both if you have time. It’s a good lesson in how much power the headline has over our perception of the story as a whole.

I’ll sum up in case you don’t have time. A large pile of rubble is heading towards the earth. It’s not a solid rock but a group of smaller pieces held together by both gravity and something called Van de Waals forces. It might prove quite simple to disrupt an asteroid conglomeration of this nature and doing so might teach us valuable lessons. If we can break up this relatively minor threat we are better equipped to understand how to do so in the future.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
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2014 PGA Championship and the Rules of Golf

PGA Wet ConditionsThis past weekend there was a very interesting situation in the 2014 PGA Golf Championship involving both Rory McIlroy and the rules of golf in general. The tournament at Valhalla Golf Club was plagued by inclement weather in the shape of rain, lots of rain. This played a major factor in a number of rules decision that both the players and fans of golf are questioning.

The major rules issue occurred because a long rain delay brought on the possibility that the last players on the course would not be able to finish their round. This was particularly important because the leader of the tournament on the 18th tee was in that last group. If McIlroy was unable to finish his round because of darkness he would have had to come back the next day and finish at that time.

The course officials allowed McIlroy and his partner to hit their balls before they would normally be allowed to do so. In this case when the two players in front of them were still playing the hole. In order for this to occur the players in the leading group must agree to allow it to happen. According to the players in the leading group they agreed on the tee shot of the trailing group but not the approach shot. There are some contradictory statements coming from rules officials who say the leading players did allow the second shot.

There was also a general issue of the course being extremely wet and muddy. This meant the players were often in what is called standing water and their balls were muddy making them difficult to control. There are several rules to deal with these situations.

In some cases players are allowed to play “preferred lies” where they pick up the ball after each shot, clean it, and place it close to its original position. A second rule covers two other situation. Players are allowed to move a ball that is in standing water to a drier area and drop it. In some cases the entire fairway was standing water and players had to move a fairly good distance to find a playable position. A clause of this rule involves balls embedded in the ground, in this case the rain soaked ground.under those conditions players are allowed to pick up, clean, and drop it nearby. This led to a situation where players were hoping for a plugged ball because it allowed them to clean it whereas a muddy ball just had to be played. It’s a huge disadvantage to play a muddy ball.

According to other players some rules were bent to attempt to get the round finished under very wet conditions.

What I want to talk about is why the PGA felt it so necessary to bend, if not break, rules to get the round finished. There were many people at the course on Sunday who would not be able to return on Monday but I suspect the real reason was that the number television viewers for a Monday round would ever equal those for a Sunday finish. Advertisers paid for Sunday time slots, not Monday time slots.

The rain was coming down extremely hard and the course was barely playable at best. If the tournament had not been so prestigious with so much television interest I strongly suspect they would have simply cancelled the round altogether. The conditions on Saturday were awful and got progressively worse on Sunday.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the PGA was under pressure from the networks to get that round finished, and they did. I think it’s also safe to say that fifty years ago when television money did not rule golf that the round itself would have been cancelled. There is big money in golf by the way. McIlroy got a paycheck of $1.8 million for his eventual victory.

I’m sympathetic to the PGA in some ways. The people paying the bills wanted the round finished. I’m also rather dismayed by their willingness to twist the rules to their advantage. The course itself also suffered serious damage from spectator and players.

However, I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to blogging so I’ll tell you what I think. I think they should have cancelled the round after the big rain. It might have cost them some money but it was the right thing to do, at least I think so. The best player probably won but we will never really know because of the various issues. Would McIlroy have played his second shot differently if he knew the results of the leading group? Did the very dark conditions on the last few holes alter scores for those players who had to deal with it? Did players gain advantages from rules decision involving embedded balls and standing water?

It’s not just about who won the tournament but who finished in 10th place. The decision to play was unfair to the players. The spectators probably were better served by getting to watch the tournament conclude but who knows what excitement might have occurred on a Monday finish?

I understand the influence of money and it’s not all bad. Good things come from major sponsors and the players earn a lot more money now than they did thirty years ago. I’m not saying that the PGA was wrong, just that I think they were wrong.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
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Misspelled Miley Cyrus Tattoo Misleading Headline

Miley Cyrus brain tattooMiley Cyrus is big news for reasons I can’t fully understand but whenever she does something there are a ton of stories about her. The latest is that she got a new tattoo which is misspelled. So, of course, I have to check this out and I see that the tattoo reads, “Love yer Brain“. Hmm, I’m thinking. Maybe it was meant to be love yer Brian? She’s dating someone named Brian?

No, it’s the “yer” part. Which isn’t really misspelled because that’s apparently the name of the song to which she is referencing. It would actually be misspelled if the tattoo read “Love your Brain” because that’s not they way the song is spelled.

I think it’s rather an awful tattoo. Apparently she did it herself but it’s not misspelled. That’s the way the song is spelled. It’s really just a blatant and misleading attempt to get your click. Did anyone else fall victim to the deceit?

Oh, and by the way, you should Love your Brain! I approve of that part of the message. I’m not so big on the tattoo and frankly I don’t know much about Miley but the words are good ones. I’m all about good words!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
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A Tale of Two Jews – Roy Cohn and Sidney Frank

Sidney-Frank-Roy-CohnThe wonder and glory of information that we have at our fingertips thanks to men like Tim Berners-Lee never ceases to amaze me and I experienced yet another magical moment when the simple act of watching an advertisement led me to what I’m going to write about today. My point today is that what is important about a person is not his or her religion (or lack thereof), race, sexuality, or any other superficial factor. What’s important is what he or she does with his or her life. Today I look at the amazing story of how Sidney Frank and Roy Cohn crossed paths.

I’d never heard of either until while watching cricket on ESPN3 I saw a commercial about Grey Goose Vodka. I thought, hmm. Let’s look up this Francois Thibault. He is certainly an interesting fellow but that led me to look up Grey Goose vodka. That led to the remarkable story of a great man named Sidney Frank. Frank was born to a Jewish family of no particular distinction or wealth and managed to save enough money to attend Brown University for one year. After that he had no money left and so went to work as an aircraft mechanic for Pratt and Whitney servicing engines in the South Pacific during World War II.

He married well and rose quickly in the ranks of his wife’s family distillery business. He was eventually forced out of the company in a family dispute and after his wife died started his own company. Through hard work and promotional genius he turned Jagermeister into a huge success and made himself a lot of money. That is when he approached Thibault about producing a fine French vodka made with the best ingredients. Grey Goose. He turned the company into a huge success and eventually sold it to Bacardi for a tidy $2 billion. He became a tremendous philanthropist who gave money to, among many others, Brown University so that no student would ever have to leave because of lack of funds again. He gave all the employees of his company large bonuses.


He had a heart attack at the age of 86 and as he lay dying on his bed a man named Roy Cohn came to visit him.

****** CORRECTION *****

Cohn did not visit Frank’s hospital room but another man named Lewis Rosensteil but the story is otherwise accurate as to Frank’s actions.

***** END CORRECTION *****

Roy Cohn was also born to a Jewish family but the similarities to Frank end there. Cohn gained a law degree and used his family influence to get a good job immediately upon being granted his license. He gained prominence prosecuting accused Soviet spies during the Red Scare years using whatever methods necessary to gain convictions. He helped secure the conviction and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg apparently having convinced the brother of Julius to lie on stand, this done to prevent his and his wife’s reputations from being destroyed.

This bit of skulduggery got the attention of Eugene McCarthy and Cohn played a rather slimy roll in the McCarthy hearings that ended in disgrace for McCarthy largely because of the tactics used by Cohn against the army.  Later in life Cohn was accused of professional misconduct several times. He engineered a hostile take-over his grand-uncle’s Lionel Model Train company and ran the company into the ground before he was eventually removed.

He was involved in an extremely shady political deal that allowed John B. Anderson to get the New York nomination in the 1980 Presidential race. This was designed to split opposition to Reagan although the results allowed Anderson to become the last Independent Candidate for President to have a solid chance of winning. Still, it involved passing along money in an illegal fashion.


He walked into Lewis Rosenstiel’s hand hospital room. Both Jews. Both white men. In the eyes of many much the same.

Cohn took the hand of the comatose Rosensteil and forced it into signing a will that named Cohn as one of the primary executors of the will. A despicable act by a disgusting man.


Roger Stone, a friend of Cohn, said that the man’s final goal was to die absolutely bankrupt and owing millions of dollars to the IRS. He succeeded.

The next time you think something about someone because of the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, their sexual habits, their sex, their race, or any other superficial features; I’d like you to think about Frank and Cohn.

Tom Liberman

Drug Testing Policies – The Dustin Johnson Dilemma

Dustin JohnsonThere is a fairly big news breaking in the golf world about a young golfer named Dustin Johnson. Johnson is considered one of the rising young stars on the tour and additionally is dating the daughter of Wayne Gretzky. He recently announced that he is taking a leave of absence from the PGA tour and rumors are flying around. Most of them involve drug use.

What I’d like to examine in my post today is the different ways the various professional and college sports leagues handle recreational drug use. Because most leagues now do testing for Performance Enhancing Drugs they also find evidence of recreational drugs use. What should be the leagues response to a player who uses illegal recreational drugs or who is guilty of any disreputable behavior in general?

There’s a pretty wide variety of solutions out there. MLB doesn’t really care about recreational drug use whereas the NFL has a rather strict structure of suspensions when dealing with such things. College football and basketball have no real rules regarding events of this nature and generally leave discipline up to the coaches in question. This often results in star players being given more slack than those with less talent.

I think one important factor to consider is a leagues responsibility in dealing with criminal violations. Again the NFL is very aggressive in handing out suspensions for activities that have nothing to do with football while MLB and other sports are not so proactive. If a football player is charged with a crime he faces suspension even if he is later exonerated as happened with Ben Roethlisberger.

It is certainly within the purview of an employer to suspend or fire an employee for their non-company related activities; taking into account state laws. If Dustin Johnson used cocaine and the league found out about it through their drug testing program and then suggested he take of a leave of absence is that appropriate? John Daly certainly had more than a few incidents while he was using the legal drug of alcohol and the PGA never found a need to suspend him.

By not having a stated policy these events tend to get handled individually and the player’s value to the team or league becomes a deciding factor. Is this fair? Should a star player be allowed to use legal or illegal drugs when a less talented player faces suspension? It certainly seems unfair at face value but it is essentially the way real life works. If a strong employee makes a mistake they are given more chances. If a weak employee makes the same mistake they are fired. It’s really up to the individuals in charge to make such decisions.

But enough discussion. Where do I stand on all this? I think the PGA gets to make its own rules as does the NFL and all the other leagues. They are not law enforcement agencies. They are not in the position to arrest and criminally prosecute their members. Their responsibility is to their league, employees, and fans. If they decide that telling Dustin Johnson to get some help and take some time off is in the best interest of the PGA that’s their business. If they suspend a lesser player for the same violations that’s also their business. It’s not fair, it’s life.

When things like this are dealt with internally it has an effect on the league or company as a whole. If handling the Johnson situation reflects badly on the PGA they might lose sponsors, fans, and money. If people don’t really care then they will continue to do well. It’s the very nature of personally responsibility. When it comes to things like this people want a strict structure of rules so everyone is treated equally.

In the NFL many are complaining that Ray Rice received a lesser punishment because of his star power. That it isn’t fair. Those critics are right. It isn’t fair. In our rush to make everything fair we remove personal responsibility from the equation. We have hard and fast rules and no exceptions are allowed. We have mandatory sentencing policies which are designed to create equality but end up doing more harm than good.

Life isn’t fair. Transgressions and perceived transgressions must be dealt with by the person who is charged with the job. Students might be suspended for pointing a toy gun or they might be warned. The person in charge must weigh the evidence and circumstances and make a difficult decision. If people don’t like the decision they can complain but when we remove decision making from people’s hands in an effort to treat everyone fairly we end up creating a system in which there is no personal responsibility and in which circumstance plays no role. This is unfair as well.

Dustin Johnson’s membership in the PGA tour is subject to its rules. If you don’t like their rules go to court. Organize a petition or boycott. The quest for fairness leads us down the path of complete abrogation of responsibility and this is a bad thing. Everyone becomes afraid to make a decision and we are paralyzed with fear. Nothing is accomplished.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
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I’m Going Home – The Eric Cantor Story

Eric CantorMy disgust with politics continues to rise today with a second story that makes my blood boil.

Congressman Eric Cantor was until recently the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. He took his district for granted and failed to put enough effort into his primary election campaign and was defeated. This means he won’t run in the general election and won’t represent his district for two more years. Because of this he gave up his position as Majority Leader to make way for another Republican to move into the position.

Now he’s decided to simply quit Congress altogether. He’s told the governor of Virginia to hold a special election, the winner of which will serve out the remainder of his term which expires in January. He’s basically leaving five months early to pursue other interests which he did not disclose. It’s fairly safe to say that he’ll be earning more money in this new endeavor likely being paid by the companies whose dollars influenced his vote while he was supposedly serving the people of Virginia.

In his resignation speech he has the nerve to claim he is doing it for those self-same constituents who voted him into office. Who spent their time and money on his campaign and election. We must remember that Cantor was elected to a two-year term. When he ran for election he promised to serve the people of his district for two years.

I want to make sure that the constituents in the Seventh District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session.

What a load of crap. He’s quitting so he can get a head start on whatever his lucrative new career will be while completely abandoning his constituents and costing them the considerable amount of money it will take to hold this special election. Then he tries to claim he’s doing it for them? This is a complete lack of personal responsibility. This is complete lack of honor. He was elected by people who believed him and now he’s fleeing when faced with adversity. Yes, losing your primary was tough. Yes, serving out the remainder of you term and trying to do your job instead of quitting and going for the money is hard. It requires something called integrity. You, former Congressman, apparently have none.

Why don’t you just quit today. No loss. I can’t imagine who is going to hire this man but I’m sure they are lined up and will give him a better paying job than the vast majority of honest and hardworking Americans, be they Republican or Democrat, make. He’ll peddle his influence and buy a bigger house, take more vacations, and go on lucrative speaking engagements.

I wouldn’t pay him a dime but I guess I’m in the minority.

Tom Liberman
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CIA Spies on Senators Investigating CIA

The_CIA_Is_Sorry_for-spyingSome months ago Senator Dianne Feinstein of California accused the CIA of spying on committee members conducting the investigation into CIA torture tactics against prisoners. The Director of the CIA denied the spying. It now turns out she was right and I’m disgusted although completely unsurprised.

The White House is finally set to release the information from that report although it is likely much will be redacted. We know, from pictures, that agents of our country, be they soldiers or intelligence operatives brutally tortured people who were at their mercy. The spin on this issue was so disgusting that a number of my friends argued that torture was a good thing. They thought we should be torturing people. My friends argued that torturing was a good and useful thing. That it was right to take someone who was completely at your mercy and physically and mentally torture them to get information they may or may not have.

Now we find out that the CIA spied on and impeded the investigation into the Senate’s investigation of this torture. That the director of the CIA lied in interview after interview about what they did and did not do.

What happened to honor? What happened to decency?

When you have a pet you don’t beat it because you can. When you have a child you don’t spy on them because you can. When you have a prisoner you don’t torture them because to do so reflects on who you are as a person and what you stand for as a nation.

During my debates on torture with friends I had a very intelligence and capable friend ask me if I would torture a prisoner if he knew where a nuclear bomb was placed that was set to go off in one hour. I told him no. He was astonished. Would you? What would be the outcome? Think about it for a second because a five year old knows the answer.

But I’m digressing into a lecture on why torture is bad and I refuse to be drawn more deeply into that debate. To torture someone over whom you hold absolute power is evil and wrong. That’s it.

We’re all aware that government agencies are spying on our phone conversations and email activity. People like to credit Edward Snowden with passing along that information but it’s been readily known since our Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Branches passed and allowed to stand various parts of the so-called Patriot Act. How I despise that name. How about the Pretend Feel-Good Name to justify the Taking Away of Our Constitutional Rights Act?

What did Senator Feinstein think was going to happen when she and her colleagues broadened the spying powers of the FBI and the CIA? That it would only go so far? That giving these agencies more power to spy on citizens without recourse would stop where she wanted it to stop? That the Director of the CIA would show good sense with barely a morsel of oversight?

This is why we have the Constitution. Power is dangerous. Accumulation of power is dangerous. This is why Congress is the only body that is supposedly allowed to declare war. This is why we have the Fourth Amendment which is under assault from all sides. This action by the CIA is not funny. It’s a serious crime.

The United States is no longer a nation that stands for freedom. We are a nation that hides in fear and is willing to sacrifice anyone and everyone for the illusion of greater safety. That is why people argue torture is acceptable. That is why people argue that our government needs more power to spy on us. That is why people argue our police force needs ever more power to stop us from doing things they deem illegal and the power to seize our property under the flimsiest of excuses.

Freedom isn’t free? I disagree. Freedom is completely free. Without government, without law enforcement, without restraint I am completely free.

Freedom isn’t safe. We give up Freedom for security. I give up the right to drive how I want and ignore traffic signs because that modicum of freedom isn’t worth the danger it entails. We’ve gotten to the point where we’d rather kill, torture, spy, and repress not just our enemies but even our own citizens for ever decreasing slivers of safety.

Yay ‘Merica.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
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We Are Alone – So Far …

GalaxiesI just read an article about the nature of movies in regards to the special qualities of Earth that seem to attract so many invaders. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek but there are some valid points. Why would an advanced alien civilization visit Earth?

The question I’m going to think about today is along the same line although from the opposite position. Why wouldn’t advanced aliens visit the Earth? Because that’s the real question if you believe the galaxy is teeming with technologically advanced civilizations. I’m one that finds it difficult to believe that such civilizations do not exist. The universe appears to be some 14 billion years old and current estimates have our galaxy clocking in at 13.6 billion years. There are some 200 billion stars in our galaxy and possibly a lot more. Recent evidence suggests that most stars form planets, that water is abundant in the universe., the buildings blocks of life are everywhere, and places where life might thrive seem common.

And yet, silence.

One common explanation is simply the massive distances involved. If the speed of light is the maximum then getting to our little world is no easy trick even for a race that’s been around millions of years. I find that explanation very appealing.

One of the main factor’s driving human exploration of space is simple curiosity. We want to know what’s out there and we particularly want to know if we are alone. What if the answer was an unequivocal no. What if there is microbial life on Mars, a thriving underwater community on Europa. What if life is, as I suspect, everywhere. What if almost every star system eventually allows for intelligent life? What if you know all about it? What if you are communications with tens of thousands of other species? Does this dim your curiosity? What interest is there in a young species just reaching out to the stars?

What if finding such a new species was common-place? What sort of regulations would you put in place around such a community. We certainly understand the idea of the Prime Directive of the Star Trek world. Don’t influence young races, don’t contaminate them. It’s a reasonable explanation.

Perhaps life is so abundant that such advanced races just don’t care until we get to a certain level of technology. We just have nothing to offer them.

I’m sure there are other explanations and any of them might or might not be true. There is just no way of knowing. The reality is that we have yet to have any credible contact with a species from another planet. Perhaps we are alone. Perhaps the aliens walk among us, studying or plotting. Perhaps they are out there keeping their hands off for the moment because of their own rules of conduct. Perhaps the distances are just too daunting.

Maybe someday we’ll learn the answers to these questions and that’s a good thing. We’re here, we’re striving to find more, to learn more, to explore our world, to understand the universe. What more is there to do?

I guess that’s my point. Don’t be daunted by the lack of information. Keep looking for more. Follow the facts, don’t be fooled by those theories you want to be true. It’s fun to speculate, to guess, but when it comes to reality, stick to the facts. I’d love the universe to be teeming with intelligent life but the evidence of such does not exist. Therefore I cannot argue that it does.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
See All my Books