Two-hundred Thousand Dead is Victory

Two-hundred Thousand Dead

Many people are denouncing that the United States has reached two-hundred thousand dead from Covid-19 or complications from the disease. I see it differently. Victory. Two-hundred thousand dead is a milestone in the triumph of faith over science, of the ends justify the means, of confirmation bias, and of blind obedience over critical thinking. Congratulations in your victory, I say to many of my friends. I concede, you win.

This victory was hard-fought and decades in the making. Perhaps you thought the lack of critical thinking, the bashing of science, having faith in what you wanted to believe was merely going to manifest itself in political victory but two-hundred thousand dead show how short sighted were your goals. You have attained a victory that most thought impossible. Little did you believe you could turn nearly fifty percent of the nation into cheerleaders for such a thing, wanting more, begging for policies that will certainly result in more deaths, more fire, more drought, but even you, with your lack of critical thinking, didn’t imagine it could result in such a triumph.

I congratulate you and admit defeat. Enough of you believe that taking vaccines is more harmful than not taking them. Enough people believe there is a Deep State conspiracy to enslave the children of our nation in pedophile rings led by the monsters of the other party. Enough of you believe GMO food is poison. Enough of you believe climate change is entirely without human cause. Enough of you believe that steel cannot melt in a fire. Enough of you believe aliens are guiding our lives. You have won and now you will be forced to partake in the fruits of your victory.

Rejoice, throw up your arms for two-hundred thousand dead is undeniable proof of your victory. The good news is that this is only the beginning. Decades from now you will laugh at the two-hundred thousand dead as merely a drop in the bucket as to what you will achieve by completely ignoring science, medical advice, climate advice, education, critical thinking.

Now, don’t get me wrong. In the end you will lose. Science will triumph and Utopia will arrive. The Roman Empire ended and scientific advances were stymied for nearly a thousand years in the western world, but they eventually came to fruition, it just took some time. So too will your triumph fade. Nothing is forever.

Enjoy it while you can. Rejoice in the carnage, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, no matter how small your part in it, even if just a lie filled meme now and again or an alien conspiracy earnestly told to friends in private. You contributed in your own small way, take comfort in that.

Tom Liberman

Does the POW/MIA Flag Flap Bother You?

Flag Flap

I can almost guarantee you the reason I’m bothered by the POW/MIA Flag Flap isn’t the same reason it bothers or does not bother you. Here’s the situation. Back in 1972 the flag was originally designed to recognize missing and imprisoned US service members, primarily associated with the Vietnam War. In 1990 a law was passed that it must be displayed on certain days. In 2019 the law was amended to insist that be displayed prominently every day.

It was originally displayed atop the Rotunda but was recently moved to a location dedicated to the purpose which can only be seen from select angles outside the White House. This move is being used for political purposes, largely by Democrats, to show how President Trump disrespects servicemembers. That’s the flag flap that bothers one group of people but not me.

I’m upset that legislation was enacted to force the flying of a flag in the first place. I’m not unsympathetic to the cause of missing and captured prisoners of war but the law and its update in 2019 are clearly the work of people who want you to think they are aligned with you. That’s the pattern of flag wavers in general. Look, I’m waving this flag really vigorously and that means I really care, that I’m really doing something.

Frankly, I find the entire need to show off your allegiance to a cause by making pledges, wearing lapel pins, and flying flags suspect from the beginning. The more you need to pretend you care, the more likely it is you simply don’t care at all. It’s a convenient and easy way to pretend and fool the easily duped, or more precisely, those who are willfully obtuse, who eagerly beg to be lied to in order to satisfy their view of the world.

Here’s the reality. Flying the POW/MIA flag is way for politicians to pretend they care. Another reality is that while there are technically 82,000 missing service members who this flag represents, all of them are dead. Countries like North Korea and Vietnam have large-scale scam operations designed to separate bereaved families from their money much like such operations fleece Christians in Turkey looking for Noah’s Ark.

This is a Flag Flap designed, from the beginning, to enflame political passions and achieves nothing else. The entire thing is a setup to gain support for one politician or another. There should be no laws regarding flags. If you want to display the flag, do so, I will use my constitutional rights to defend your freedom to do so. I understand you are passionate about the POW/MIA situation and you have every right to think the way you do.

Just remember; if the government can require flying a certain flag, you are ceding it the right to enforce it must not be flown. Both laws are wrong, the government should not have this power.

Tom Liberman

How to Answer a Bad Question

Bad Question

How do you answer a bad question? You don’t. Well, that’s this blog all wrapped up. See you next time. All right, all right, I’ll go into details because bad and unfair questions seem to be standard operating procedure in social media and live debates. The thing we must determine is how to spot a bad question and how to not answer it properly, this is actually fairly difficult.

Let’s start with a question I see a lot in the sports world. Would the champion of yesteryear be able to compete against the best players of the game in the world today? This is a bad question but it, like many of its ilk, has the seeds of a very good and interesting question. That is the key to dealing with bad questions, figure out where the good question is hiding.

The problem with the aforementioned question is it doesn’t define the parameters in a way that lends itself to a good answer. The bad question is actually two different questions but not defined as such. What you must do in these situations is attempt to reword or clarify the parameters of the question so that it can be properly and usefully answered.

So, I say, to the person who asked the question: if you are asking me could the athlete of yesteryear compete today without the benefit of knowledge, training methods, diet, computer aids, and other advantages that today’s players enjoy; the answer is no. They’d be crushed. However, if you’re asking me if the player of old were born recently and had all the advantages of the modern athlete; my answer is yes, they might be able to compete although size, speed, and other physical differences can be a factor depending on the sport.

What we did there was clarify a bad question with two responses and turned it into two reasonable queries, both with useful answers, to create the seeds of a good discussion. This is what you must do when confronted with a bad question. You must look at the question and try to find clarification as to what is really being asked.

I fully admit, particularly in social media debates, the question was formed badly with malice and the questioner has a predetermined position that cannot be changed. Still, give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Clarify the question, distill it down, and try to find an answer that is appropriate. If your fellow debater is unwilling to allow this, if they insist on answers to the badly worded or intended question without clarification, simply follow my original advice, don’t answer.

Refusing to answer a bad question is the best reply you can give.

Tom Liberman

Taking the Bing Quiz without Reading

Bing Quiz

One of my daily activities in retirement is to take the daily Bing Quiz. Essentially, the search engine Bing has a daily picture on the front page. There is a Bing Quiz associated with this picture if you click a link. It includes a small blurb about the picture and generally at least a few of the questions in the Bing Quiz are addressed in this blurb. I’ve noticed that a fairly high percentage of quiz takers answer such questions incorrectly and that intrigues me.

The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that people are clicking on the Bing Quiz and taking it without bothering to read the blurb. Now, there is an incentive to take the quiz whether or not you get answers correct, you get a small number of Microsoft Reward Points. It’s not much but it’s something.

Now, to the point of this blog. I want to get the answers right, there is a small feeling of pleasure I get from answering the question correctly. I also feel a sense of disappointment when I give a wrong answer. The blurb in question is usually just a couple of paragraphs and only takes a minute to read. Taking the time to read the blurb and answer the questions correctly is of value to me. It is clearly not of value to others, based on the percentage of people that get Bing Quiz answers wrong despite often being given the answer.

Is that a product of the way my brain works? I’m not a neurologist but I feel fairly confident everyone gets pleasure from answering correctly and feels some disappointment in not doing so. Some tiny chemical release generates this pleasure I’d guess. Anyway, I think it is universally human to enjoy being right and dislike being wrong.

Why do so many people trade being right for saving a minute of reading or doing a modicum of thinking? It’s not my place to judge anyone for this behavior and I’m not trying to put myself on some sort of pedestal because I choose to read the blurb and get the answer right more often than not. Whatever, take the Bing Quiz without studying first, none of my business.

I do find it interesting. Can we diagnose more important character traits based on such simple behavior? What about you? Would you take a quiz without studying first?

Would you take the Bing Quiz without reading the blurb first knowing it will result in more wrong answers?

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Tom Liberman

Ben Shapiro and the Social Divide

Ben Shapiro

There’s a lot of chatter on my social media feeds about Ben Shapiro and his comments regarding a song named WAP. I didn’t know much about it, and frankly didn’t care, but eventually I read the comments and it reminded me of when I first learned about the social divide that encompasses the racial divide.

Let me start by saying Ben Shapiro is a smart guy but in this case, he is letting the social divide of music influence his rational thinking which has turned him into, pardon my frankness, a fool. Ben Shapiro wrote: Fact, rap isn’t music. And if you think it is, you’re stupid.

When I read this moronic statement, a memory came to me from high school. I went to University City High School which was then a racially mixed school. There was a clear racial divide in a number of areas and I largely thought myself immune to this divide. There was Honky Hall where all the white kids had their lockers, I didn’t. There was the debate between Good Times and Happy Days as to which to watch, I liked them both. In other words, I basically thought, yeah, I’m white skinned, sure, but whatever, the color of my skin doesn’t mean I’m fundamentally different than black kids.

One day I was having a discussion with a black girl who was one of the social elites, why she was talking to me, a social outcast, I can’t remember. Anyway, I was waxing poetic about a band I liked, I think it was Journey, and she looked at me strangely and said, Who’s that? I was astonished. Who’s that, I replied. How can you not know Journey? Everyone listens to Journey. They are on the radio all day long.

She looked at me and said, Teddy Pendergrass. I replied, Who’s that? She smiled, as I had fallen neatly into her trap, and replied: How can you not know Teddy Pendergrass? That was probably the first time I realized there was more to the racial problems in this country and this world than simply the color of one’s skin. A little research led me to radio stations I had no idea existed. If only I had the internet back then, I would have been turned on to some of the best music ever made but, sadly, I had to wait years to learn about all that.

This is my point about Ben Shapiro and his comments regarding both the song WAP and rap music in general. This is the cultural divide that fuels the racial divide. Sure, we have different skin color but what keeps racism alive are comments like that of Ben Shapiro. Rap is music. I’m not a huge fan of most rap although I do think it provides valuable lessons about such topics as Funky Cold Medina. Ben Shapiro is, at least to some degree, perpetuating racism and misogyny with his remarks.

The mantra of the Libertarian did not begin to appeal to me until I was in my early thirties. If only had known about it back then in my conversation. People who like rap music should enjoy it. People who like Teddy Pendergrass should enjoy his work. People who like Journey should never stop believing. Some people like them all!

Ben Shapiro, enjoy what you enjoy and allow others to do the same without judgment. WAP never hurt you and it never hurt me either. The hate you spew is driven by fear. Decisions driven by fear are to be avoided. Why all the hate, brother?

Tom Liberman

Thinking for Yourself in Chess and Life

Thinking for Yourself

I was on Lichess watching the Magnus Carlsen v. Hikaru Nakamura match of the Magnus Chess Tour Finals when an interesting example of thinking for yourself, and the benefits therein, presented itself. It is often suggested thinking for yourself is better; but if someone else does the thinking for you, and always gives you good answers, why not just do what she or he says? I’ll tell you why.

Many of those watching the games rely on the computer analysis to tell them who is winning at any particular moment and what is the best move to make for either player. Others of us watch without the computer engine analysis and discuss what might be the better move and which player seems to have the advantage at any given moment.

It is clear those using the engine to tell them the best move and who is winning are clearly correct far more often than those of us simply watching the game and relying on our own calculations. Therefore, they are better off, right? Wrong.

Thinking for yourself is not only a great deal more fun, it not only makes you a better chess player, but it also actually gives you greater insight into the game being played at that moment. Here is what happened twice during the match I watched yesterday. Warning, if you’re not a chess fan this might get a little dull.

Basically, during a game there are moments when you can sacrifice a piece in order to gain initiative through tactics. When you are thinking for yourself, you are looking for such tactics. When you are relying on the computer to tell you the best move you largely are not watching for such moments.

In two games there was a potential tactic available for several moves which covered perhaps ten minutes of time allowing time for analysis. Those of us in chat not using the computer mentioned the sacrifice possibility multiple times and eventually, in both cases it was made.

This leads me to the purpose of this entire blog. When the sacrifices were actually viable, the computer engine immediately suggested them as the best move and those relying on the engine began to speculate if the player might see it. These fans thought it was almost impossible to see such a move. When the player made the sacrifice, they were stunned by the astounding ability of the player.

Of course, those of us not relying on the computer had long been speculating on the move and didn’t see it as all that impossible at all.

I guess the point is, yes, if you rely on almost perfect machines and aren’t thinking for yourself, you will win every chess game but once those engines are off, you have no idea how to play at all. You get no enjoyment from predicting the move a Grand Master makes. No thrill of seeing a brilliant sacrifice on your own. Your life is both diminished in enjoyment and your ability to make good decisions without help is irreparably damaged.

Turn off the engine, stop listening to other people, think it through yourself. It’s harder, yes, but more rewarding.

Tom Liberman

Yale University Admissions show the Difficulty of Proving Discrimination

Yale University

The Department of Justice recently filed suit against Yale University for discriminating against Caucasian and Asian students. It’s going to be just as difficult to prove this discrimination as it is to prove against companies that refuse to hire black or homosexual candidates. This is where government intervention often appears to be a force of good but it really is not. Let me explain.

In a nutshell, the discriminating agency can deny the choice was made because of color of skin, sexual orientation, or any external factor. My father argued a Supreme Court case in the 1960s involving discrimination in housing. He won that case but, and this is important, doing so did not stop white people from preventing blacks moving into their neighborhoods. There are plenty of black people in St. Louis who can affirm the practice is still thriving.

In this case the shoe is on the other foot. Basically, kids from impoverished regions of the country who attend schools without the many academic advantages have no little or no chance to score as well on tests as kids from wealthy school districts, or beat them on the football field. The kids with a huge wealth gap advantage in tutors, trainers, equipment, study material, study time, and other things almost always do better on standardized tests.

Let me make this a little more personal so you can see the point of view of the school. Let’s imagine you are hiring for a position. You have two candidates. One candidate comes from an elite educational environment with all the advantages. The other comes from a poor district with no advantages. Now, you give them both a business-oriented test for which the average score is 50. The elite candidate scores 55 and the poor candidate scores 51. But you look in your database and candidates coming from the elite environment average 64 on the test while those from the poor section average 35. So, you’ve got a candidate who scored 16 points above average for their background and one that scored 9 below from their own. One is clearly an overachiever while the other is an underachiever. Who do you hire?

This is what Yale University and other elite educational schools face everyday when they must choose who to admit. Yale University often chooses the minority student despite having what appears to be a worse academic record. Now, it’s also entirely possible Yale University picks the minority student because the admission counselor hates Asians, but this is difficult to prove. People will always be able to come up with some rational as to why the black family can’t move into the neighborhood besides blatant discrimination. We see it all the time here in St. Louis and I’m sure in your part of the world also.

Now that I’ve explained the problem I’m finally getting to the point of this article. The government cannot fix this problem and often does more harm than good when they try. Let’s imagine the Justice Department is successful in forcing Yale University to admit students based solely on their test scores. Are we not removing the freedom of the school to pick who they want to be members? Is it not their school?

It’s also important to understand it was earlier rulings making discrimination illegal that allow the Justice Department to file this lawsuit against Yale University in the first place. If discrimination was not outlawed by the government, Yale is free to do as it will.

To me that’s the important point. Discrimination didn’t stop because government passed a law. People still speed, people still take drugs, people still discriminate, they just hide it better.

Yale University should be allowed to admit whomever it wants, if they refuse overachieving minority students who will undoubtedly succeed, that’s their loss.

Tom Liberman

Who Decides if there will be College Football?

College Football

Will there be college football is a question on the minds of many people these days but I have a different query. Who gets to decide if there will be college football? Coaches? Players? Politicians? The NCAA? Television networks? College administrations?

My question is not an easy one to answer because how far the tendrils of money spread from the game. If there is no college football it will affect a lot of people in a negative fashion and a lot of money won’t be made. In addition, my hatred of the NCAA as a whole undoubtedly clouds my vision. Nevertheless, I will attempt to come up with an answer.

First, I will dismiss the single party that absolutely should have no say whatsoever, despite their bleating to the contrary, politicians. There is no reason for politicians to get involved in this difficult decision in any shape, manner, or form. I tell all lawmakers, whether wanting a college football season to take place or against such, shut your miserable pie holes. Shut them now, stay out. Out!

The moneyed interests are significant. The NCAA makes a huge amount of money from the college football games. The colleges themselves, at least in the Power Five conferences, make enormous sums. The clothing manufacturers who give hundred million-dollar contracts to the schools to showcase their jerseys have a gargantuan financial interest. The television networks and all their employees have a stake. The coaches are paid to coach, not sit on the sidelines and their luxurious lifestyle is in jeopardy if there are no games. The star athletes get exposure and potentially lucrative professional contracts if they play.

The NCAA would certainly like there to be games but if the players intermingle with the regular student body they risk infection and transmission of Covid. The NCAA doesn’t have the luxury of creating a “bubble” like professional athletics. If the so-called student-athletes aren’t allowed to attend school; the entire façade of not paying the players falls apart. It becomes legally clear they are employees of the school, how this reality has evaded the courts for so long baffles me. I shall wax no further on that subject.

So, who decides? Everyone is tainted by financial gain or the potential of such. A clear decision in regards to the health of the players, coaches, and staff of the teams cannot easily be determined by people compromised so. It’s a mess, I readily admit as much, but I have an answer to my question at least.

Each university or college must be the final arbiters of the season as a whole. If a college is unwilling to open the doors to live, in-session classes, then it cannot expect athletes to perform. It is a decision for the boards and presidents of the schools in question. If one Big Ten school says no and another says yes, that’s fine. Schedule accordingly.

Likewise, participation is a choice for each player, coach, and staff member. There are consequences certainly, a player who refuses to play might be removed from the team or have their scholarship revoked. A player who participates, catches Covid, and suffers serious medical consequences has every right to sue for damages.

It’s a messy solution, I agree. It’s a solution that will result in some schools playing and other schools not doing so, I admit. It is, to my mind, the only solution that makes any sense.

Freedom is free, it just isn’t safe.

Tom Liberman

Comrade Trump does not Compute for Either Party

Comrade Trump

Comrade Trump made a statement the other day that was so outlandishly Communistic and Socialistic that neither party wants to talk about it at all. This pretty much sums up the state of the Democratic and Republican parties completely. Let me explain.

Apparently, Comrade Trump is angry at TikTok and there is speculation it is because one of its prominent members makes fun of Comrade Trump on a regular basis or that apparently users duped his campaign into overstating attendance at a rally. In any case, the fact that Comrade Trump is angry is indisputable. He is trying to force the Chinese owners of TikTok, ByteDance, to sell their U.S. operations to a company based in this country or he threatens to ban their services entirely, which is only the first part of the insanity.

If ByteDance manages to sell TikTok, Comrade Trump thinks that a significant percentage of the sale should be paid directly into the United States Treasury. His reasoning being that U.S. citizens by the tens of millions use TikTok and contribute to its profits and therefore its eventual sale price. Comrade Trump uses the wholly misguided National Emergencies Act to suggest almost anything he does is in the name of national security.

Here is where it gets, to use a term favorited by said president, pathetic. What Comrade Trump is suggesting is nothing short of communism. The all-powerful state can force a private company to sell its assets and take a portion of the price paid for that sale.

If Bernie Sanders was making this suggestion his many Socialist and Democratic supporters would cheer loudly and praise him for funneling corporate profits to the people upon whose backs those profits were reportedly earned. CNN would be trying to justify the madness in some sort of Constitutional twisting that makes a pretzel look like an arrow.

Likewise, if Sanders were to make said statement, my Republican, supposed business loving, friends would likely have some sort of apoplectic fit their screaming, ranting, and shouting would be so virulent as to cause dogs to flee and seek shelter under the bed. Fox news would be declaring the end of the world and you’d see pictures of the Constitution burning on their sensationalistic newscasts.

None of this is, of course, happening. Comrade Trump pretends to be a Republican so those aligned with him dare not express the outrage his turn to communism fully deserves. Meanwhile, those who support such misguided policies cannot, under any circumstances, suggest that he has at least one aim in alignment with their own goals.

Welcome to our failing country. Enjoy the comedy.

Tom Liberman

Why the President can Fire the CEO of the TVA

TVA

I just read a story about the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the fact President Trump fired its CEO and one board member. My first reaction was, what what what? How can a political entity fire the CEO of the TVA? It turns out the TVA is owned by the Federal Government although it receives no tax dollars and acts almost exclusively just like a private company. So, my second question is, what what what?

Where is my Time Travel Hat? I have to get to the bottom of this immediately. Did I leave it in the freezer again? No. In the tax document drawer? No. Ah, there it is in the Gloomhaven Box, how did it get there? Oh well, let’s see, still fits, spin three times, fancy colors, bright lights, dizzy spell, and, where am I?

Is that President Franklin Roosevelt over there? What is he saying, selfish purposes, let’s listen in: Never shall the federal government part with its sovereignty or with its control of its power resources while I’m president of the United States. Hmm, so he’s upset that public utilities are charging high prices. He wants the government to be in charge of electricity generation. Look at all the people applauding him including Republican Senator George Norris who just blocked Henry Ford from building a private dam and utility to modernize the Tennessee Valley.

I can’t believe I’m actually watching President Roosevelt signing the TVA Act which legally prevents competition in the valley. Only the government can build power plants and dams. Oh, I see, look there, in the back room, the politicians know the dams are going to flood out tens of thousands of residents, Native American sacred sites, so they are giving TVA Eminent Domain powers to simply kick people off who refuse to sell. Smart!

Oh, look there, is that Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan lambasting the power of the TVA and the fact government controls it instead of private industry, it sure is. Look there, they have their own police force! A net income of $1.12 billion in 2018. They’ve been profitable since 1977.

Uh oh, energy running low, flashing lights, and I’m back home. Whew. Another successful trip. What did we learn? The government shouldn’t own industries like the TVA for a number of reasons, one of them is politicians will feel free to intervene in business decisions for which they should have no authority whatsoever.

Why does President Trump have the authority to fire the CEO of the TVA? Because the government created a monopoly and crushed any chance for private industry competition.

How does the Supreme Court justify this Socialism? The Commerce Clause which allows the regulation of streams to keep them navigable and the War Powers Act because electricity is sometimes used in the creation of munitions. Seriously? I ask. Seriously?

Tom Liberman

Does Ammon Bundy Supporting Black Lives Matter Surprise You?

Ammon Bundy

There’s a little story in the news not getting much play concerning Ammon Bundy who led the Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The reason it isn’t getting much play is because Ammon Bundy is a bit of hero to the Republicans and a villain to the Democrats. His support of Black Lives Matter and the Defund the Police Movement doesn’t play well with either of those organizations. It doesn’t surprise this Libertarian in the slightest.

His protest back in 2016 was instigated by government’s treatment of ranchers along with a particular case involving Steve Hammond. As for supporting Black Lives Matter, Ammon Bundy had a few quotes that touch the heart of this Libertarian.

You must have a problem in your mind if you think that somehow the Black Lives Matter is more dangerous than the police. You must have a problem in your mind if you think that Antifa is the one going to take your freedom.

I’m not fully in agreement with Ammon Bundy on all issues and I talk about that in my original post on his occupation efforts. That’s not too surprising, it’s not easy to get three Libertarians to decide on a place to eat lunch. We’re an ornery and independent group by nature and we don’t like toeing the line. That’s probably why we have such a difficult time winning an election, but I’ll leave that alone to focus on my topic.

The question that I hope you’ll ask yourself is if you’re surprised by his stance on issues like Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police. We live in what is almost a Cult of Partyality. If you decide you are a Republican or a Democrat it seems actual issues, ideology, philosophy, and policy make little difference to you anymore. What is important is who is saying or doing something. Thus, it does not compute to the vast majority of people that Ammon Bundy might take a stance that appears to be diametrically opposite of what you’d think.

As I’ve said, it doesn’t shock me at all that Ammon Bundy feels the way he does. I’d urge you to read the article I linked for he doesn’t save his criticism or mince his words and that’s something that, you’ll not be surprised, resonates with me.

I’ve said it before, and I flatter myself to think Ammon Bundy would agree, I fear state sponsored violence by the police far more than mob violence by an angry population. We must allow people to protest what they consider unjust government, even if those protests are not completely peaceful. The solution is far worse than the problem.

Tom Liberman

The Government wants to be in the Business of Tech Censorship

Tech Censorship

The Congress of the United States is haranguing the CEOs of the top technology companies in an effort to justify the tech censorship itch of every politician. The very idea of government choosing what citizens get to read should hopefully make your skin crawl as much as mine. Tech censorship is a bad idea, read on and I’ll tell you why I think so.

Basically, the internet is filled with a bunch of crazy stuff. Go figure. Some idiots choose to believe this nonsense, again, go figure. Because some people are really stupid, the government has decided that I must be protected and the way to do this is to enforce tech censorship. Now, the government has any number of methods by which they can control content, including limited liability laws, which I railed against elsewhere. I’m not going to get into why limited government is vital but I want to focus on the inherent problems with tech censorship.

I think it’s pretty easy to make my case when we simply examine the words of the politicians as they verbally assaulted the CEOs. The tech companies have “too much power.” That’s a rich one coming from politicians who have brutalized the Constitution of the United States, designed largely to limit government power, into a scrap of tissue paper. It is clear politicians don’t want anyone else to have too much power, they find the thought frightening.

The tech companies are accused of, in the same breath, spreading fake news and censoring political speech. Well, when political speech is fake news, it seems irrefutable that we’ve got a Catch 22 on our hands. The proverbial police officer telling a suspect to freeze and raise her or his hands. Tech companies can’t defeat this line of questioning, which is exactly the point. There is nothing the tech companies can do to stop the spread of false information without also censoring political speech. The result of this is that whatever political party happens to be in power can, for all practical purposes, dictate what is “political speech” and what is “fake news”. Do you want politicians making that decision? I don’t.

The answer isn’t giving censorship power to government, the answer is to stop trying to censor at all, you can’t win. The politicians are hoping to trap tech companies by forcing them to censor fake news while calling them out for censoring political speech. The politicians want more power, they want the power to control what you read, what you see. The politicians will stop at nothing to get this power. They are the evil in this situation.

We must dispense with the idea of censorship altogether; despite the fact some people will post vile lies in an attempt to incite violence. We cannot trust government to keep us safe, we must trust ourselves, we must be personally responsible.

Government’s idea of safety is to put us in a dark cave with a plate of food and a bowl of water and then harangue us when we fail to lick its boot and thank it for doing so.

Tom Liberman

We are a Nation of Bullies

Nation of Bullies

The United States has officially transitioned from a scrappy group of underdog colonists fighting for freedom to a nation of bullies, intent upon forcing their vision of the country and the world onto anyone who disagrees, preferably with violence and some sort of almost sexual pleasure in causing suffering onto others. It is, perhaps, time to try again.

When the Founding Fathers gathered for the Constitutional Convention and planned to enumerate the laws of their new country, they faced Great Britain. A nation of bullies whose government agent thought they knew better what was best for the people of the colonies and were happy to enforce it through violence. How times have changed.

We now see law enforcement agents assaulting citizens not even with the excuse of a duly authorized law, passed by a morally bankrupt Congress, but simply upon an Executive Order from the President of the United States. When another chief executive passed orders regarding immigrants one half of the nation was duly outraged and feared exactly the sort of behavior they now endorse. We are, as a whole, a nation of bullies.

It is not that Republicans want to enforce their will upon Democrats alone. When the shoe was on the other foot it was actually the same. The powers that be would have you believe they are on opposite sides of this issue when they are behaving in exactly the same totalitarian way. Democrats happily enforce their version of the nation upon unwilling citizens and Republicans, with glee and hate that crosses the line into evil, do the same to citizens opposed to their vision.

It is my opinion, sad as I am to conclude such, that we have crossed Rubicon. Too high a percentage of the people of our nation have forgotten human decency. The majority of our people do not care about freedom, about liberty, about individual choice. They relish imposing their will upon those they deem wrong. We are now a nation of bullies.

It is when government agents take to the streets to violently enforce the dictates of an executive that has been given far too much power by a complacent people and a weak Congress that We the People are forced to rectify matters.

Perhaps I am wrong, maybe we have not yet reached a point where too high a percentage of people care more about forcing others into compliance than they do about freedom and liberty, regardless of the political party. Hopefully, I am wrong. What I see is a nation of bullies. A nation of people gloating and preening in revolting pleasure as their political foes are assaulted and have their freedom stripped from them.

The gloaters, on all sides, are apparently not empathetic enough to see how a nation of bullies is also a nation of victims and, eventually, not a nation at all.

Tom Liberman

Why is Justin Amash not Running for Reelection?

Justin Amash

I posted a comment when Ben Shapiro noted on his Facebook page that Justin Amash would not run for reelection in Michigan’s 3rd District where he has served for ten years. As the only Libertarian in Congress, Amash has views that tend to align with my own and I expressed support for Amash and the decision he made but also sorrow that he would no longer represent my interests in Congress.

A number of replies to my comment suggested the reason for Amash not running was his political ideology no longer represented that of his district. I agree with this sentiment and that’s the entire purpose of elections. However, I disagree with the generally expressed hypothesis for the reason the two no longer aligned. This was Amash changed his political ideology starting in 2016 and fully in 2019 when he changed his party affiliation first to Independent and then a Libertarian.

While Amash listed himself as a Republican he has always been a Libertarian in sentiment at least. His voting record dating back to when he first entered Congress shows a great willingness to vote against the Republican party when his views did not align with it and along with the party when their views aligned.

For example, back in 2012, despite being a pro-life advocate, he voted against the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act which would have outlawed abortions because the parent did not like the gender of their fetus. He did so for the simple reason that it was ineffective, impossible to enforce, and that thought should not be illegal. At the time he stated, and I think still believes, all abortions should be illegal. It is clear he was always an independent thinker and believed the Constitution superseded any so-called moral authority. He was elected by his district multiple times after this vote.

You can examine his record thoroughly on his Wikipedia entry but even a cursory examination reveals a Libertarian who believes the Constitution is the law the land, not a political party or a person. He has exactly the same political ideology today as he had when first elected to Congress.

The hypothesis is that Amash suddenly changed in 2016 and that is why the voters of his district no longer want him. I reject this line of thought based on the evidence of his consistent voting record since arriving in Congress.

The political ideology that you held dear when you elected Amash, you now reject because those breaking the laws of our land now identify as Republicans instead of Democrats. Limited government, reduction of deficits, separation of powers, freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.

My hypothesis is that Amash did not change at all. You did.

Tom Liberman

Freedom with Rainbow and Confederate Flags

Rainbow and Confederate Flags

In this country there is a fairly hearty debate about the power of flags. The debate strikes this Libertarian close to home when we compare the Rainbow and Confederate flags. There is a general attitude in the population that flying one is freedom of speech but banning the other is acceptable.

Now, I am aware the “Confederate Flag” is really just the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia so it doesn’t have much heritage unless your ancestor fought for Northern Virginia during the four years of the Civil War but let’s dispense with pretext and accept the fact that all flags are merely symbolic of ideology. The Rainbow and Confederate Flags have meaning to those who choose to fly them from their homes, cars, or places of business.

Here is where my feelings are extremely ambivalent. On one hand I see a group of people who believes they have the right to display the flags as they see fit and that no one has the right to take that away from them, that’s a good thing. On the other hand; I see people perfectly willing to argue against the idea that others can choose not to fly such flags. If the owner of a business doesn’t want you to fly that particular flag at their location, that is their right, just as much as it is your right to fly the flag at your business or home.

This is where I see a breakdown in ideological thinking along the lines of freedom and autocracy. It is not surprising that people will fight desperately for their freedom while, in the same breath, argue against my freedom. Most of us are Libertarians when it comes to flying our flag on our property. Most of us are totalitarians when it comes to others telling me not to fly my flag on their property.

I’m always a Libertarian. The Rainbow and Confederate Flag are symbols, they are things, they are representations of ideology. If you choose to fly one or the other on your property then I fully support your right to do so even if I disagree with the ideology you espouse. However, I also fully support your neighbor’s right to tell you not to fly either on their property or at their place of business.

It is only when government becomes involved that it becomes a Freedom of Speech issue. If the government attempts to arrest you for flying either flag on your property then I will be there, using all the rights granted to me by the Constitution of the United States, to protect your rights, regardless of your ideology.

If the owner of a business or a property chooses to tell you not to fly either flag, that it’s against their private rules, then I support them as well.

When we believe in the freedom of those we oppose, we are truly free of dictatorial tendencies. It’s a shame most people seem to believe in their freedom but not those they dislike. The Rainbow and Confederate Flags illustrate both our Libertarian and Totalitarian nature.

Tom Liberman

Capitalism Changed the Name of the Washington Football Team

Capitalism Changed the Name

Make no mistake about it, capitalism changed the name of the Washington football team; not outraged Native Americans, not laws passed by politicians, not do-gooders. It was capitalism, pure and simple and that’s a good thing.

By now most sports fans, and plenty of those who are not, are aware Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington football team capitulated to capitalistic pressure from big money sponsors of the team and finally agreed to change the name. It’s about time. The thing to remember is that Native Americans, do-gooders, and politicians have been calling for the name change for decades. Snyder vowed he would never change the name. Never is now.

Everyone knows that capitalism changed the name when nothing else could convince Snyder. Money, pure and simple. The executives at FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and other sponsors told Daniel the money was ending. Nike did more than talk, the company pulled all Washington football gear from sale. That’s what it took. Not, mealy-mouthed things like: I’m going to stop selling your gear. Listen here, Snyder, your stuff is off sale. Go look at the website. It’s gone. Big round of applause for Nike.

That’s capitalism in action. Why did enterprise companies like FedEx suddenly choose now to make it clear the time had come? Because they feared people would stop purchasing their products and using their service. It’s likely the executives at those companies probably think the old nickname is offensive but they didn’t get an epiphany last week, they got a message from consumers. They passed that message along. The name changed. Follow the money.

This is the message of Economic Liberalism, the mantra of the Libertarian. You can pass as many laws as you want but people will find a way around them. People can scream and yell all they want but only when the purchasing patterns change do we see action. And action we see.

What can we learn from the fact capitalism changed the name? That capitalism works to ensure social justice if people want social justice. We rely on politicians but forget that most politicians are elected by a tiny fraction of the population. You want justice? Convince enough people to demand it with their money and you’ll get it. No politicians can do that for you. The power is yours.

Tom Liberman

Reopening Schools and why Federal Money does not Mean Federal Control

Reopening Schools

The issue of reopening schools is making a lot of headlines and parents all over the United States are hopefully learning a Libertarian lesson. Just because the Federal Government gives money to a particular organization does not mean they should write the rules governing it. Schools in this case. I’ve written on this topic before but from a State rather than Federal level. The lesson still applies.

Increasingly both Democrats and Republicans have used federal purse strings to influence how both state and local governments go about their business. Both Republicans and Democrats are not shy about using the money they provide to local government to rationalize said organizations must follow the directives of the federal government. Reopening schools is just the latest salvo in the battle.

Way back when I was a youngster of 19 at the University of Idaho, the drinking age was 19 and the federal government didn’t like that. The National Minimum Age Drinking Act basically withheld highway funds provided by the federal government for those states not instituting a higher age. Before that the government successfully coerced states into lowering their speed limits.

Today the federal government has a financial interest in almost every aspect of our country and federal politicians use this fact to coerce the states and local governments into doing the bidding of whatever party happens to be in power in Washington D.C.

Now President Trump with the full support of the Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, is attempting to coerce the various local municipalities by insisting students and teachers begin reopening schools. It goes without saying the various school districts across our nation are in vastly different circumstances. Some are in the midst of a Covid-19 crisis with cases rising and available respirators and emergency care beds available in hospitals dwindling or gone. Other districts have no cases whatsoever. If this situation does not illuminate to you the inherent problem with federal control, federal mandates, federal oversight, and federal oversteps then I suspect nothing will do so.

President Trump is threatening to cut of funding. Vice President Pence says explicitly: We’re going to be looking for ways to give states a strong incentive and encouragement to get kids back to school. This is coercion. This is the federal government telling all local communities they must handle the crisis in the exactly same way despite the obvious different circumstances. If you don’t find this insane, I suggest you might be a totalitarian fascist.

In our current situation the local community should decide if, when, and under what circumstances they will begin reopening schools. Anything else borders on tyranny.

Tom Liberman

The Taliban from Freedom Fighters to Bounty Hunters

Taliban

The Taliban of Afghanistan are in the news once again it gives me the opportunity to, once again, beg my fellow citizens to adopt a Libertarian stance toward involving ourselves in foreign conflicts. You see, my devoted readers, the Taliban was founded by Freedom Fighting Mujahedeen warriors largely assembled, funded, and trained by your tax dollars. A sordid tale that is, sadly, nothing more than a repeated refrain throughout the modern history of our nation.

The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan way back in 1978 and we’ve been heavily involved in the situation ever since. President Carter boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics, President Reagan funded and trained the Freedom Fighting Mujahedeen who coalesced into the Taliban after the Soviet Union was evicted. That’s the picture you’re looking at above.

President George W. Bush and United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 in the oxymoronically named Operation Enduring Freedom. If by Enduring Freedom you mean creating an endless conflict that costs countless lives and brings limitless suffering to all parties involved then I suppose it’s not an oxymoron. Otherwise ….

Now the Russians are using the Freedom Fighting Taliban to hasten the eviction the United States after our failed occupation. We’re already in full retreat, make no mistake about that, as I wrote about another time. I’ve written about other failures of U.S. policy in this regard. Our abandonment of the Kurds, the creation of the Mexican Narcotic cartels, the overthrow of the legitimately elected Iranian government.

I humbly beseech you; friends, Romans, countrymen. Avoid foreign entanglements. The evidence is overwhelming. It leads to death. It leads to misery. It leads to pain. Stop bombing people with remote control toys. Stop trying to convince me to give up other people’s lives to ensure my own freedom when all you do is endanger me more. Stop! Just stop, please.

Every time a politician tries to scare you with threats about how dangerous is this group or that group, domestic or foreign, just give them a swift kick in the hind quarters, and by that, I mean don’t vote for that person. You control this country with your vote.

When you read about Russia and the Taliban just remember who created the Taliban and why.

Just give the Libertarians a chance. This is your chance, this is our chance, take it.

Tom Liberman

Why Racists Often think they are not

Racists

I just read what many people will find to be a horrific article about a group of racists who happen to be police officers. What struck me about it was that after being caught making virulently racist comments, the three racists claimed they were not racists. It’s a refrain I’ve heard many times from racists over the years.

I wrote about my experience sitting at the table with people who made racist comments right in front of me but I’d like to spend some time today discussing why these clearly racist people think they are not racists. It’s fairly simple, in their minds if they don’t hate every single person of a particular group; black, Muslim, Evangelical Christian, Jewish, Atheist, whatever, they are not racists or bigots.

This is what leads many racists to mention how they are friends with a black person. Being a racist is quite simple. Do you hate someone because of the color of their skin, the religion they practice or don’t practice, the circumstances of their birth? If you do, you’re a racist. If you believe every person is an individual and you cannot hate or have any feelings at all about a person before you know them, then it’s likely you have Libertarian leanings.

Racism is an interesting topic for Libertarians. It is an absolute foreign concept to the ideals of the philosophy. Each person is an individual and must be judged by their words and deeds. You can never make assumptions about a person based on meaningless external factors. However, racists are entitled to their stupid opinions and, if they want to express their idiocy for all to see, that’s their business.

What’s important to understand is the world is filled with people who pat themselves on the back thinking they are not racists, like the three officers in question, when they are quite clearly racist scum who have no business in any position of authority, let alone law enforcement. I’ve known any number of people exactly like this. I had a police chief say to my face that he had never met a racist police officer. Perhaps I should have asked him how he defined racism and pointed out how he was living in a world of self-delusion. I did not, blame me for that.

You might think you aren’t a racist. You might think you’re a good person. Your friends might like you. You might behave in largely kind and decent ways to your friends and family. That doesn’t mean you’re not a racist.

If you choose to acknowledge it or not is your business. I’m not going to tell you to wake up. If you want to face the reality of your beliefs and actions, that’s up to you. However, I do think you’re a piece of garbage and if you die tomorrow, the world will be a better place.

Tom Liberman

Small Turnout at the Trump Rally Shows Enlightened Self-Interest

Small Turnout at the Trump Rally

I wrote an article yesterday about Enlightened Self-Interest in regards to the Aston Villa futbol team and today I’m taking on the same topic in regards to the small turnout at the Trump Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

President Trump flaunted Covid-19 restrictions by holding a large, indoor, rally and it was poorly attended. This is going to be a major news story today in various outlets for all sorts of reasons but the underlying, and most vital, is the display of Enlightened Self-Interest by those who chose not to attend.

The small turnout at the Trump Rally is going to be cheered on by the left because they imagine it shows an erosion in his support. The small turnout at the Trump Rally is going to engender a million explanations from the right and particularly the president who will undoubtedly blame his perceived enemies as an excuse.

The libertarian community should be cheering on the small turnout at the Trump Rally as a triumph of enlightened self-interest. Trump still has many supporters, more than enough to fill BOK Center to capacity many times over. They didn’t show up and that is important but perhaps for reasons both of the mainstream political parties don’t understand.

President Trump in particular, certainly because he’s an absolute moron and viciously sadistic, doesn’t care about Covid-19. He doesn’t care about his supporter’s health and certainly enjoys the image of his many perceived enemies suffering. However, intelligent people are also against draconian restrictions in relation to Covid-19, not because they relish the suffering of enemies, as does Trump. Not because they don’t understand the nature of a highly infectious disease, but simply because they believe people have the ability to show their own Enlightened Self-Interest and should be trusted to do so because they are adults in charge of their own lives. Count me among such.

The small turnout at the Trump Rally displays our point. People care about their health and the safety of their loved ones more than any political figure. Trump supporters they certainly are; but they are people who are worried about their own safety and that is a wonderful thing. I applaud them for not showing up, not because they have abandoned Trump, but because they are acting like Libertarians. Good for you!

My hope, my dream, is that those who didn’t show up might consider the fact their chosen candidate doesn’t much care about their health, frankly, he doesn’t care much about anything other than himself and everyone is well-aware of it. You don’t have to vote for a Democrat, who have plenty of their own problems, there is another choice. Her name is Jo Jorgensen.

Tom Liberman