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

Aston Villa and the Goals that did not Happen

Aston Villa

The Aston Villa futbol team is embroiled in an interesting situation that gives me the opportunity to speak about the ideas of Enlightened Self-Interest. Aston Villa was involved in two incidents, one last year and one recently and the way those situations played out brings interesting questions to mind in regards to what is best for the team. I’ve written about this before.

The incident a year ago involved Aston Villa and Leeds United. In that game Leeds United was fighting for promotion to the Premier League in English Futbol. I won’t go into details but each year the best finishers in the lower division move up to the Premier League while the worst finishers in that league move down. There are enormous financial interests at stake because being in the Premier League is far more lucrative than being in the lower level.

In any case, Leeds scored a goal while an Aston Villa player lay injured on the pitch. The Aston Villa team largely stopped playing after the injury assuming that game would be stopped. It was not and Leeds, as I’ve stated scored. There was a huge kerfuffle and the manager of the Leeds team, Marcelo Biesla, instructed his players to allow Aston Villa to score uncontested to make up for the situation.

This year Aston Villa is at the bottom of the Premier League and facing relegation. In their game against Sheffield United their goalkeeper fell back into the net while holding the ball. This is a goal. The Video Review team somehow managed not to see this despite it being readily visible to other cameras and almost every fan and player at the game. Play went on. The head coach of the Aston Villa team, Dean Smith, did not allow Sheffield to score a goal at the next stoppage in play.

This leads us to the idea of enlightened self-interest. It is easy to argue Leeds acted against their own interests by allowing Aston Villa to score while it’s equally easy to assume The Villa acted in their behalf by not conceding a goal. But, is this the case?

Leeds generated an enormous amount of goodwill by their gesture of sportsmanship. Their manager and the team as a whole are viewed upon as honorable and decent. Meanwhile, as you can well imagine, Dean Smith and his team are largely being vilified in the press and public forums.

Is the short-term gain of possibly getting to or staying in the Premier League worth the long-term loss of prestige and personal integrity? It’s not a question that has easy answer and different people will put forward reasonable conclusions on both sides. This is often the case when dealing with life, there are no simple answers, despite what pundits might tell you.

Now, of course, I’m no wall-flower. I’m not going to bury my head in the sand and not have an opinion here. I’m not that sort of fellow. If you read my blogs and my novels, you’ll know that I share my thoughts all too freely.

A pat on the back to Marcelo Biesla and Leeds United. You’ve got my support. A job well done. Dean Smith? Aston Villa? I won’t be cheering you on, ever. Not that you care.

Tom Liberman

Nadiya Hussain Misleading Headline

Nadiya Hussain

One of the subtleties of the Misleading Headline is demonstrated in this article about Nadiya Hussain who won the Great British Bake Off back in 2015. She was interviewed recently and spoke about an incident some thirty years ago in which she was discriminated against because of her race. Hussain did nothing to contribute to the Misleading Headline nor is the writer responsible. It’s just an issue with human nature.

Hussain relates an incident from the past in which she responded to a casting call for hands to display jewelry. She was told that because her skin is black, she was not eligible to participate. The exact words, as Hussain relates were, black hands don’t sell jewelry.

The problem with the headline is it unintentionally implicates the Great British Bake Off in the racist incident. I want to be clear, Hussain had nothing bad to say about the Great British Bake Off. The article’s writer didn’t implicate the show in any way. It is human nature that we associate the Great British Bake Off with the incident of racism because they appear together in the headline.

I feel relatively confident no one intended to impugn the show in any way. The reason the show is mentioned in the headline rather than just Hussain’s name is that the Great British Bake Off is how she came to the public’s attention and the headline probably wasn’t going to generate many clicks with just her name.

Those of us who enjoy the show were instantly drawn to the headline because of the proximity of the show name and the word racism. The burden is upon me, the reader, to comprehend the article and what it means. This is often the problem. People look at a headline or a particular paragraph in an article that aligns with their view of the world and then leap to their own conclusions without using critical thinking and reading comprehension skills.

This problem is what leads to a great deal of censorship or attempt to restrict what we can and cannot read. When we don’t draw logical conclusions, when we let misleading headlines drive our thinking, when outright lies meet with our approval, we create an atmosphere in which the censor feels justified in his or her actions. These people are far too stupid to think for themselves and therefore we, the overseers, must restrict what they can see.

The problem with censorship is that, of course, it doesn’t really work all that well. People who want to find particularly loathsome and violent justifications for their distorted world view find them anyway. Meanwhile, the discerning mind is not allowed to peruse interesting articles that might legitimately sway an opinion.

The solution is not censorship, it is better critical thinking skills. The path to this solution is education in these matters, training the mind, from childhood to think critically. It is only then that the censors have no more justifications and we are truly free.

Like many things in life, the burden is upon our shoulders.

Tom Liberman

The Racist Statements that don’t Happen on Camera

Racist Statements

We’ve all seen apologies for racist statements caught on camera or posted on social media. That doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe is how they mostly start. Well, I don’t believe the apologies. I’m of the opinion the statements represent exactly who you are and what you think.

If you look at my picture you see an average looking white guy, that’s what friends of mine see, acquaintances, and people I don’t know that well. They see a guy just like them. White, racist, angry. Believe me, I’m sitting right next to you when you spew your racism, your anti-Semitism, your hate, your misguided fear. Yes, anti-Semitism, right to my face. I don’t look all that Jewish, I guess.

Believe me, I’ve heard you make racist statements plenty of times when the camera wasn’t on. That’s why I don’t believe you when you claim it was a slip and you don’t really think that. I’m quite certain you say things like that all the time when surrounded by people you imagine have the same opinion. I’m fairly certain you say much worse than what you got caught saying.

I’m not kidding when I tell you people have said, directly to me: Hitler had the right idea. If we’d let Hitler win, he’d have gotten around to the blacks eventually. It won’t take long to kill all the blacks. Interracial marriage is evil. I’ve heard it all because I was sitting right next to you when you said it. I sometimes even speak up, do you believe that? As soon as I start asking questions the mouths start shutting. Uh oh, he’s not like us. Better shut up. This is a conversation we only have surrounded by our friends.

The racist statements you’ve made about people thinking I’m with you. The conversations you’ve had about Libertarians not knowing I was one of them. The conversations you’ve had about Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, women, homosexuals, transgenders, you name it, I’ve heard them and that’s why I don’t believe you when you claim: That’s not me! I’m not like that. I don’t believe the things I just said loudly and clearly.

Now, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt when you say you’ll learn from your mistake. That you’ll try to do better. In reality, I’m sure what most of you will try to do is not to say those things when you’re on video. I doubt most of you will change at all but I’m willing to give you the chance to do so. Take the opportunity while it’s offered.

Tom Liberman

Afraid for my Friend

Afraid for my Friend

An old friend of mine makes incendiary comments on my Facebook wall and is fond of asking if I’m afraid to see the truth, no, but I am afraid for my friend. My friend is insane. I wrote about Trace Riff and how difficult it is to deal with a friend or family member in this situation so I recognize my limitations. That doesn’t stop me from being afraid for my friend.

My friend was a fantastic athlete and I played sports with him in high school. I was a bench warmer and he was a star. He went on to college at an elite level and injuries resulted in team doctors prescribing him serious pain medication. Perhaps this was the start of his descent into madness. Perhaps his brain was wired in such a way as he was prone to such. I’m not sure, I just know he’s insane and I’m afraid for my friend.

I’m afraid he’ll hurt someone in his madness. That he’ll walk into a pizza restaurant and shoot the floor but accidently kill some child. I’m afraid he’ll see a family on vacation and see them as some sort of bizarre existential threat to his existence and he’ll hurt or kill them. I’m afraid he’ll go on some drug-fueled rage and the police will kill him.

My friend is not the only one succumbing to a spiraling descent into madness with perceived enemies and conspiracy insanity at every corner. I have a relative who is the same. I suspect you have friends and relatives who are filled with confusion, rage, and insanity. I suspect all of us are afraid for my friend in one way or another. When I fear for my friend, I fear for yours as well.

I’m a Utopian. I believe someday none of us will have to work. That there will be no money, no want, no need. I believe in Post Scarcity. I think someday those who need mental help will get it. We have not yet reached that day. People are still in need, my friend is still insane, he is not going to get any help despite the efforts of my other friends and his family. He’s just going to continue raging and I’m afraid it will end in violence.

I wish I had some encouraging things to say in this post. I wish I saw a happy conclusion to the journey through life my friend is taking. I don’t.

I write my novels, I write my blogs, I promote freedom, liberty. That’s all I know how to do and it makes me sad I am incapable of doing more. Someday the utopia I envision will be here and your friend, my friend, will get the help she or he needs. Someday.

Tom Liberman

Freedom is for Everyone

Freedom is for everyone

When you march for Freedom you are not marching just for your own freedom, freedom is for everyone. If you believe the government has no right to prevent you from getting your hair cut, if you believe the government has no right to kneel on your neck, if you believe the government has no right to send heavily-armed law enforcement officers to disperse you from assembling; well, you’re a Libertarian even if you don’t know it. Freedom is for everyone.

It’s important to realize this point because so many people out there marching for freedom see others marching for the same thing not as allies but as enemies. I wrote not long ago how Our Freedom is at stake, not your freedom and not my freedom. Freedom is for everyone.

When you stand up for freedom you are standing up for the people with whom you disagree. When you use your constitutionally guaranteed rights to refuse to be searched without a warrant, to practice your religion without restriction, to bear arms, to speak your mind in a blog; you are standing up for all the people who do the same thing even if not for the same cause.

I’m certain many people disagree with my Libertarian inspired, broad interpretation of freedom that includes open borders and the cessation of all economic sanctions but I hope to convince you when I stand up for my freedom, I do it with the full realization that I’m standing up for yours as well. When I write about issues important to me and demand freedom for them; I fully understand that I’m demanding freedom for the issues important to you. Freedom is for everyone.

You have the right to assemble. You have the right to speak your mind. You have the right to resist jackbooted thugs sent by officials in power to take away your freedom and you have the right to do it violently if threatened with violence. I condemn violence of all kinds but the most dangerous is that sponsored by the state and carried out by law-enforcement and military personnel. Many of whom, by the way, are strong proponents of freedom. They should be on the side of freedom and I encourage you who are so inclined to disobey unlawful orders, peacefully hopefully, but violently if necessary.

Freedom, my friends of all colors, all political ideologies, all religions, all genders, all sexual orientations, all ages, all ethnicities. Freedom is for all of us together, citizens, soldiers, law-enforcement officers, and all the rest. Together.

Brave citizens taught the world what freedom meant back in 1776. Let us teach the world what it means today.

Tom Liberman

Liability Immunity is Wrong in so Many Ways

Liability Immunity

Federal and State governments provide liability immunity for a number of people and businesses and every single bit of it is wrong. Wrong! The topic of liability immunity is being discussed a great deal lately because of Covid-19 and President Trump’s social media spats but the problem is far deeper and more insidious than that.

State governments have largely made individual law enforcement officers immune from lawsuits in regards to actions taken while performing their duties. Thus, the officer who threw a flash-bang grenade into a crib during a no-knock search warrant couldn’t be sued by the parents whose baby had half its face burned off.

Gun manufacturers are immune to liability. Volunteers working for the government are immune to liability. The government has protected all sorts of people and businesses from liability over the years including social media outlets. If someone harms another person through negligent actions, the place to determine liability is in the courts, not in the legislatures. This seems self-evident to me.

Why should anyone get blanket liability immunity? It makes no sense to me; we have a judicial system to sort out these problems. Certainly, individual cases might be decided in a fashion I think is unfair but the old expression we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water seems perfectly relevant to me.

It’s important to note the liability immunity extended to social media by Congress means, by default, that such liability immunity can be removed, or a threat to remove it can be made. This gives government power they should not have; it gives government the ability to influence what content we see or don’t see. When we give government the ability to extend liability immunity, we explicitly give government officials the right to selectively remove it. They should have no such ability whatsoever.

When the government offers to give businesses liability immunity in regards to Covid-19 they are essentially engaging in force against We the People. If you don’t go back to work in a dangerous environment, we will punish you. We are taking away your right to get redress for crimes committed against you.

I’m horrified by all this liability immunity. If you harm through negligence, or other means, you must face your day in court. Anything else is tyranny.

Tom Liberman

Amplifying the Bad on Holey Moley

Holey Moley

Producers of the miniature golf show Holey Moley decided that amplifying the bad segments from season one for the second year was a good idea. Sigh. I actually semi-enjoyed the first season which pairs miniature golf with obstacles. I hoped they would fix the issues and remove the problems for the second season. Wrong again, Tom. Wrong again.

I recently ranted about how Lego Masters was nearly unwatchable because of the format; at least it was the first season and, hopefully, they will make changes for next year. Holey Moley had that very opportunity and decided amplifying the bad segments of the show was the best way forward. If you enjoy my rant blogs then gear up. If not, well, move along, nothing to see here.

The show pits twelve, eight for season two, golfers against each other in head to head competitions on holes which run a wide gamut of challenges. This is a problem. One hole consisted of a straightforward four-foot putt. Whomever took more strokes to finish was dumped from the platform into a pond. Another hole had competitors making long putts through a windmill which they then navigated themselves, risking being pushed into the pond. In other words, the challenges were completely different.

This leads to three problems. Sometimes a competitor in the first round ended up playing the same hole in her or his second or third round while their competitor had never played the hole before. This is obviously unfair. The second problem is some of the holes were so complex it took the players long minutes to navigate them. This meant not all the first-round matches could be shown completely. Finally, some of the holes were so difficult they required more physical ability than golfing skill giving an advantage to coordinated and fit competitors.

The same problem of too much time spent on skits and jokes seen on Lego Masters was present in Holey Moley, although not nearly as bad. Overly long introductions, explanations, and long periods spent where the hosts set up complicated and, largely, unfunny jokes took away from gameplay. So much so that some of the competitions were not shown at all.

What did they do for season two? The made the complicated and difficult holes longer and more physical so that is now almost an American Gladiator like contest. They spend even more time on promotion, skits, and nonsense. The essentially decided amplifying the bad was what people wanted. They might be right.

Maybe people want more hype, more dunking in water, more smashing into things, more stupid jokes, and less miniature golf. I am not one of those. It’s what I despise about most movie sequels. They spend time amplifying the bad things in the first movie, or even amplifying the good features until they are badly overused and boring.

I couldn’t even make it to the end of the first episode of season two of Holey Moley. Oh well.

Tom Liberman

Destroying Some People by Paying College Athletes

Destroying Some People

Reggie Bush says paying college athletes will result in destroying some people screams the rather misleading headline. The idea that athletes will soon be paid for their name, image, and likeness (NIL) is the basis for the article. While Bush’s statement is accurate, the gist of his point is about how young athletes coming into large amounts of money will attract those who hope to steal it.

The point here is the headline is completely misrepresenting what Bush is saying. The inference from the headline is Bush is against paying young college athletes based on the idea it will be destroying some people. In reality he is simply stating a fact. If young athletes, or any person, comes into a fairly large amount of money and they don’t have a solid financial background, unsavory people will attempt to steal that money and it has the potential to be damaging.

Now, I’d like to get a little deeper into an analysis of this simple fact. Many people, not Bush to be clear, will use this premise to argue against young athletes receiving money for their NIL. We are protecting this poor, helpless athlete from the terrible dangers of having her or his money stolen and life destroyed. Who is the we? That is the important question for me. The answer is simple enough, we isn’t the one being paid, it’s someone else on their self-righteous pedestal. That is really all you need to know.

The person to be paid needs to be protected by not paying them. We’ll take care of you because there is danger in being wealthy. You’re just not old enough, wise enough, careful enough, wary enough so we’ll watch out for you. This is the paternalistic nonsense that both politicians and those who want to control our lives spout almost continuously. We know what is better for you than you do yourself.

The danger lies in the fact they are sometimes quite correct. This destroying some people by the sudden accumulation of wealth is no idle fantasy. It happens. There are several options here and if you read Bush’s comments in full, he goes into them with great clarity.

His main suggestion is that young athletes be given a solid financial foundation from which they will be able to properly manage their newfound wealth. This is, without question, the best course of action. Another option is to simply give them the money and some percentage will fall victim to rogues. The final option is to tell them they just are not capable of managing the money and therefore you are doing them a favor by prohibiting them from having it.

When you examine these three options with a clear mind, it is obvious the third choice, withholding the money, is far and away the must unethical and disgusting. The terrible part is this is exactly what we’ve been doing for the last who knows how many years. Even worse, I’m sure you can find any number of people who will still argue it right now and they’ll think Bush was doing the same. He wasn’t.

Let people make their own mistakes while giving them as many tools as you can to make good decisions. This is the only correct answer.

Tom Liberman

My Freedom or Our Freedom?

Our Freedom

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has brought out a lot of calls for freedom but, as usual, it’s all my freedom and not our freedom. By my freedom, I don’t mean me personally, I mean the person who is calling for it and those who think as she or he does. Everyone is all about my freedom but doesn’t seem to give much thought to ours. By our, I mean everyone who doesn’t fit into the first category.

I have the right to work in a hobby store but we can be denied the same. My medical condition should be covered by company insurance but ours should not be. I can serve in the military but we cannot. I can tell a police officer no, you can’t search my car, but we cannot. I can protest government overreach, social injustice, but we cannot.

I can tell you what to smoke, I can tell you who to marry, I can tell you what firearm to carry, I can tell you how to raise your children, what they can learn in schools, I can tell you if you can carry on your pregnancy. My freedom is of vital importance but yours is mine to control. I can dictate your ability to go into a restaurant during a pandemic. My freedom gives me the right to take away yours.

I accept this is the way the majority of people in the United States think. I accept someone will object to almost every one of the freedoms I listed above. You will come up with arguments to tell me why it’s so important one particular freedom is not really freedom at all and why you can have law enforcement assault me, imprison me, and take it away, ostensibly for the greater good.

That’s why Libertarians got a meager five percent of the vote in an election featuring an incompetent moron, incapable of stringing together a coherent sentence, and an out of touch elitist motivated largely by a sense of self-superiority.

You just don’t care about our freedom, and I despair you ever will.

Tom Liberman

You have been Buying Wine Properly All this Time

Buying Wine

Have you been buying wine properly? That’s the premise of a clickbait Facebook post from Naked Wines that’s circulating through my friends’ timeline. Lots of people are buying wine and there is certainly an interest in doing it properly. It’s not so much the article but the comments that interest me.

The premise of the article is that more expensive wines are largely the same as less expensive wine but you are paying for marketing, brand recognition, and overhead rather than the simply the wine in the bottle. The comment section was predictably filled with people who laughed at those fools who purchased expensive wine opposed to those who ridiculed bumpkins for their unsophisticated palate in cheap, sweet wines. What a surprise.

The reality of the situation is pretty clear. When buying wine, you should purchase what you want. While I might wax poetic that such is the mantra of the Libertarian, the reality is we all feel this way. We all, largely, buy the things we want to buy for a variety of different reason. Perhaps you like inexpensive wines, perhaps you don’t particularly like cheap wine but you lack the funds to purchase the wine you enjoy more, maybe you don’t have the money but want to treat yourself, maybe you find the taste of cheap wine vile and only purchase expensive bottles. In the immortal words of Tripper Harrison, it just doesn’t matter.

We can argue subjective versus objective but I’ve done that before. If you like the cheap wine then drink it. If you prefer buying wine of an expensive nature, for whatever reason, then do so. Most importantly, the kind of wines someone else purchases are their business and the only reason you are annoyed by that is feelings of inadequacy in yourself. Your underlying lack of self-worth is what drives you to criticize others in this regard, doing so makes you feel better. That’s the crime in all of this.

If you find yourself criticizing the choices of others; the wine they purchase, the sport they enjoy, their hobby, who they choose to ignore on Facebook, or any other choice, then you are the problem, not them. Look in the mirror.

If you find yourself constantly ridiculing those with different tastes than your own then you have a significant problem, not them. If you get enjoyment by putting others down, demeaning them, calling them names, it is you who is failing life.

If you want lead your life in this fashion, whatever. I’m happy with the way I am and I don’t really care all that much. Be a shit if you want but don’t expect me to care about your opinion.

As for buying wine and drinking it? My advice, enjoy.

Tom Liberman

Scot Peterson Misleading Headline

Scot Peterson Headline

Back in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Nikolas Cruz murdered seventeen young students and wounded seventeen others while the school’s resource officer, Scot Peterson, hid. A news story recently declared Scot Peterson has been reinstated and that part of the misleading headline is true, what isn’t is the picture of the Broward County Sheriff who announced it. The difference being that the sheriff pictured is a black man and Scot Peterson is a white man.

It’s entirely possible the person who chose to include the picture didn’t intend it to be misleading but there is no doubt it is just that. The picture presumably comes from the press conference in which Scot Peterson was reinstated but it seems pretty clear to me that posting a picture of someone who is not the primary person in the story is misleading at the least.

We live in an age where information is at our fingertips and those with particular agendas take advantage of this fact by putting out misleading information, twisted words, and simple lies in order to further their perceived goals. When we click on such stories, we help spread the misinformation.

I guarantee you right now, because of that picture, people think the person depicted is, in fact, Scot Peterson. I am also certain, for many people, opinions on his reinstatement is dependent on the color of his skin. If you were to show the headline with the accompanying image to people, some would demand he not be reinstated while others would insist upon doing so. However, if a picture of the real Scot Peterson was shown a percentage of those people would give the opposite answer. That’s how powerful a picture can be and that’s why it’s a Misleading Headline.

In this world of disinformation, it’s impossible to stop others from spreading their lies but you can do your best to tell the truth and point out Misleading Headlines where you can. That’s what I try to do.

Tom Liberman

Video Killed the Radio Star or Did it?

Video Killed the Radio Star

I was there the day video killed the radio star; watching in my neighbor’s room at Upham Dormitory at the University of Idaho. It was a glorious time to be alive when video killed the radio star. Momentous events that changed the world were going on all around me. Well, no, it’s all a bunch of hyperbolic nonsense, wistful memories, and wish fulfillment. Video didn’t kill the radio star and you’re not a special flower.

I’m reminded of the song Video Killed the Radio Star in relation to events going on in the world. People want to assign momentous meaning to anything and everything. This is the end! This is the beginning! Everything is different this time! It’s not. People are people and the answer to the question; did video kill the radio star is no, it didn’t.

If the radio star dies, it will be because people lose interest in the medium of radio. They listen to music on a music platform like Spotify or via internet. The musician lives on. Change is constant, nothing is the same as it was yesterday, at least if you view the world from anything other than a subatomic level, which we all do.

If the world changes it isn’t because of some external element, it’s because a whole bunch of individuals changed the way they go about their business. If the people of a country want a dictator who issues edicts with no checks and balances, no check and no balance will stop it from happening. If they believe in individual liberty with limited government control; by golly, we will have it.

The fight isn’t against a new technology but lazy minds that prefer comfort and safety over freedom. It’s just like Jonathon E told Ella in Rollerball: I’ve been thinking, Ella. Thinking a lot — and watching. It’s like people had a choice a long time ago between having all them nice things or freedom. Of course, they chose comfort.

The sky might well be falling but video didn’t kill the radio star, you did.

Tom Liberman

The Hays Code and its Effect on Strong Women in Hollywood

Strong Women in Hollywood

Way back in 1934 Hollywood Instituted the Hays Code which had a deleterious effect on the portrayal of Strong Women in Hollywood that seems to have lasted almost to present times. A while back, I wrote about the demise of the Hays Code but I didn’t examine its long-lasting negative impact on strong women at that time. My thoughts on the Hays Code and its correlation with the lack of strong women in Hollywood came to my attention last night when I was watched a Pre-Code movie called The Silver Cord.

In the Silver Cord a woman scientist, portrayed magnificently by Irene Dunn, is married to a young architect. He is offered a job at a prestigious New York architectural firm. She is, from the first moments of the film, a strong woman. She is a biologist working in a lab and clearly skilled and intelligent. When she makes it clear she will accompany her husband to New York and take a position at a laboratory that offered her a position some time ago, her boss laments her leaving but tells her she is the sort of woman who must have both a career and a marriage, that it is not a choice of one or the other.

I don’t want to get too wrapped up in the plot of the movie and how Christine, Dunn’s character, proves time and time again to be not only a strong woman but also a woman. She likes being married and very much cherishes the idea of motherhood. This is the sort of character long absent in Hollywood. She is not just a stereotypical male protagonist being portrayed by a female actor but she is a strong woman in every sense of the word.

Did the Hays Code destroy this sort of portrayal of women? It’s hard to argue against the idea. In 1933 a woman was being portrayed as a scientist, a wife, and a potential mother. She stands up to her husband and tells him if he cannot cut the Silver Cord of his overbearing mother, she will move on without him. That she cannot stand to see his career and life stifled, that is not the sort of man she can tolerate. Her soliloquy is bold, strong, and independent.

It was claimed the Hays Code was implemented to protect We the People from the degenerate influence of movies but one suspects it was fashioned, part and parcel, from the fear of white men that ideas, good ideas, were promulgating and influencing us. How often do we see that same mantra when it comes to censorship? We must be protected, like children, by the politicians.

If the Hays Code had not existed, how many movies portraying strong women might have been made in the ensuing eighty years? We will never know. We can only see the damage such paternalistic rules engender.

The Hays Code did far more damage than anyone can really calculate. Generations of strong women were not shown examples that might have fundamentally altered their lives. Generations of men did not learn of the sort of woman who makes a perfect and equal companion. What a terrible crime.

Tom Liberman

AMC Theaters versus Universal Films

AMC Theaters

AMC Theaters just announced they will no longer showcase Universal Film movies. Why are they doing it? Because Universal released Trolls World Tour directly to home viewers rather than offering it to theater chains first. Universal did this largely in response to the fact most theaters are closed because of the Covid-19 situation.

The stated problem for AMC Theaters and their CEO and President Adam Aron is simply the release of the movie in a way that bypasses the theaters. There is some truth in this but I suspect the bigger reason for the decision is that this particular release generated over $100 million in revenue. A number that is similar to the projected take for a widescreen release. This is a frightening confirmation of something the movie theater owners and operators have long feared, the end of their revenue stream.

More and more people watch their media at home and on their devices. This is undeniable. Hollywood revenue has remained relatively stable for the last eleven years after having nearly doubled in the same period prior to 2009.

Universal released Trolls World Tour directly to viewers and this is not particular strange. Plenty of content providers are doing the same but not for what are considered Blockbuster Movies. For companies like AMC Theaters the blockbuster has become the heart of their revenue stream. Independent movies continue to thrive but generate far less revenue than blockbusters. Meanwhile, streaming services like Netflix, HBO, and Amazon are taking a bigger and bigger bite out of their potential content.

AMC Theaters wants to stay in business. Universal Films wants to make as much money as possible and those two desires are now in conflict. Thus, the strongly worded letter from AMC Theaters. That letter, quite amusing if you read the whole thing, has this little gem within: Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way…. I chuckle. It is absolutely done out of pique and is punitive in nature. That boldfaced fib alone is enough to make me take Universal Film’s side in this issue.

AMC Theaters has legitimate concerns and they are desperately attempting to slow the movement of media consumption away from theaters and onto devices. Perhaps they will succeed. Maybe Universal, and other content providers, will ignore the fact they made as much from a non-theatrical release as they would have from putting the blockbuster in theaters.

Of course, if AMC Theaters goes through with this plan, they are also eliminating a major studio from their theaters and thus a large stream of revenue.

Personally, I think the steady decline of people viewing movies at the theater will continue and AMC Theaters will eventually go the way of Blockbuster Movie Rentals. Perhaps I’m wrong. Time will tell. What do you think?

Is AMC going to succeed in their threat to pull all Univeral Films?

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Tom Liberman

The Unwanted Shake Shack Government Loan

Shake Shack Government Loan

What does it tell you a Shake Shack Government Loan was returned? For a lot of people, it’s a gesture of goodwill by Shake Shack to the other small businesses that need the money more. That’s not the way this anti-government Libertarian sees it. The Shake Shack Government Loan was simply a way to make the company obligated to the government, the owners didn’t seek it, didn’t want it, didn’t ask for it, but got it anyway. Forcing them to return it.

I’m proud to say the Shake Shack founder is St. Louis hometown hero Danny Meyer. Yet another illustrious graduate of John Burroughs, a fine school my lack of academic prowess disqualified me from attending. That is not the point of today’s article.

Why would anyone get a loan they didn’t want or need? That’s a question you must ask yourself. Why would any entity be given a check they didn’t ask to receive? One of the main reasons is the United States Government is big on giving out loans, our entire financial system is largely based on giving out taxpayer money as loans, this money generally having to be repaid with interest that goes to friends of politicians.

The government is certainly using Covid-19 as an excuse to further entangle the interests of its patrons into every aspect of citizens life. This unwanted intrusion didn’t start with Covid-19. President Trump created a Welfarm State with ridiculous tariffs, the Post Office was intentionally bankrupted, the Airline Industry has been a government subsidy since its inception and resulted in the planned destruction of the highly successful passenger rail system, the entire horse meat industry was destroyed. This is how government operates in a Republic.

In a Republic there are limits to what government officials can do. There are Checks and Balances. This being the case, government officials must wile their insidious evil in different ways. One of the ways they do this is to make people and businesses their unwitting partners. The government is happy to loan you money, purchase your products at inflated prices, because they then become a partner in your enterprise. You owe them.

The Shake Shack government loan is just another in a long line of takeover attempts that have reduced the United States to a system of Crony Capitalism. At least Shake Shack saw through the subterfuge although many others do not.

We no longer have a capitalistic system here in the United States and I suspect we won’t have a Republic for much longer either.

Tom Liberman

The Daly Vodka Cure Misleading Headline

Daly Vodka Cure

Is the Daly Vodka Cure really what golfer Jon Daly was suggesting in his recent video? It’s an interesting Misleading Headline because Daly pretty much did say that his one drink a day, an entire bottle of Belvedere vodka, was the way to kill Covid-19. However, I don’t think he is really suggesting the Daly Vodka cure as a serious panacea.

If you watch the short video, he advises people to be careful and to be safe and appears, at least to me, to be joking about his Vodka Cure. Here is where it gets fairly interesting for me besides the simple Misleading Headline. I do think Daly is kidding and I think the vast majority of people will agree with me. However, I well-understand people will believe pretty much anything, regardless of how ludicrous, as long as it aligns with what they want to believe.

It’s entirely possible that thousands of people will take the Daly Vodka cure seriously. They will begin to drink a bottle of vodka, washed down with a McDonal’s diet Coke apparently, as a way to ward off the illness. I’m frankly surprised that Daly didn’t suggest his two-pack a day cigarette habit isn’t actually the miracle that warded off Covid-19 but that’s not really the point today.

Daly is a self-destructive person and his habits have wrecked his health and curtailed what was once a promising golf career. People like Daly and in many ways, he is a likeable personality. They find him humorous and entertaining. They see his life and think, why not. It’s not so bad, sure, I’ll likely die young from cancer or cirrhosis of the liver but what the heck, have fun now. And, they are right. That is to say they are right for them. Not for me.

I love life and want more of it. I don’t want to curtail my ability to go hiking, meet fit women at the gym, go out with friends, and enjoy the occasional cocktail. Daly is not of that opinion and I’m sure he is not alone. That’s none of my business. If you think drinking an entire bottle of vodka is a good idea for you, have at it. If you think it’s going to cure your case of Covid-19 when all evidence suggests heavy drinking makes you more susceptible to the disease, again, that’s your decision to make.

I’ll even turn a blind eye, although my favorite mixologist over at Sub-Zero might see it differently, to the horror of blending Belvedere Vodka with Diet Coke, though doing so offends my sensibilities greatly.

Do remember one thing, in addition to the Daly Vodka cure, Daly suggests staying safe and taking care. If you want to destroy your own life, have at it, but if you’re going to risk getting Covid-19 through risky behavior, do the rest of us the favor of staying away.

Tom Liberman

Lori Loughlin is the Covid-19 Response from the United States

Lori Loughlin

Do you want to be Lori Loughlin and fight for a long time or Felicity Huffman and take your punishment up front and move on? Sometimes in life you have a choice between suffering today or delaying the pain until later in the hopes of avoiding it altogether. It’s an interesting decision from a Game Theory perspective and I like to examine it today.

In the case of Covid-19, the United States trod the Lori Loughlin path of delaying the pain in the hopes it would go away. It didn’t and now we’re paying the price. Meanwhile countries like Japan and South Korea went the Felicity Huffman rout and took the punishment early, avoiding more disastrous consequences later.

Is one choice better than the other? If you choose to avoid punishment today there is always the chance the pain will never come. Perhaps Lori Loughlin will have the charges against her dismissed or she will not face any prison time. Felicity Huffman, on the other hand, pled guilty and served a few weeks in a minimum-security prison. She has that on her record forever but she is basically living her best life now and has been for a while.

There are arguments both ways. It’s sort of like staying in place when a hurricane is forecast for your region. If you don’t leave and the disaster doesn’t come, you’ve saved a lot of time and effort. However, if it does come, you might well die, be horribly injured, lose family members, or otherwise suffer for a long period of time.

In this case, President Trump and many of his political allies decided Covid-19 wasn’t that big a risk. That it probably wouldn’t get bad and we shouldn’t risk economic pain today for the uncertain forecasts of its dire consequences tomorrow. Some of them maintain that position even today despite the dying going on all over the country.

To be honest, we still face that very same decision right now. We are currently avoiding public gatherings but people are still getting sick and dying. The question we cannot answer is how many might have died; how bad would the economic impact be if the disease spread more quickly and widely throughout the United States? How bad might it get if we give up on social distancing too early?

It’s not unreasonable to conclude that had people continued to congregate normally the eventual economic impact could have been far worse. If huge numbers of people got sick then everyone would isolate without prompting from the government, merely out of self-preservation. This would hurt the economy far worse than we are currently experiencing.

Of course, it might not have been that bad. That’s the risk you take when you decide to avoid pain today in hopes it won’t arrive, and be significantly worse, tomorrow. It’s the decision you face right now in regards to social distancing. Accept the suffering today? Put it off and hope it won’t be so bad tomorrow?

Perhaps Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman might give us cogent answers to these questions. As for me, I think it’s better to take the consequences today rather than suffer later, you may disagree.

Tom Liberman