Category Archives: Activism

Is the End of Government Reefer Madness Near?

Referring back to my post I wrote last week about the “perfect storm” the Obama Administration has created regarding medical marijuana, Colorado in many ways seems to be in the eye of this storm. It seems that more and more people are starting to understand the insanity of declaring war on a substance which has never resulted in an overdose of any kind (much less a deadly overdose). In yesterday’s election, voters in Breckenridge, CO passed a measure by 71% which decriminalizes marijuana in amounts of an ounce or less for individuals 21 and over.

The Denver Post is having guest columnists who are staunchly pro-legalization write persuasive and articulate articles which could be mistaken for something you might read here at The Liberty Papers. Here’s an excerpt from an article written by Robert Cory Jr.

Today, not much about Colorado’s economy moves. The state is broke and releases prisoners because it cannot afford to keep them. The governor slashes the higher education budget 40 percent. People lose jobs, homes and financial security. Our leaders face serious issues.

And what keeps some politicians up at night? That sneaking suspicion that some suffering cancer patient may gain limited pain relief through medical marijuana, coupled with that gnawing certainty that someone, somewhere, actually grew the plant for that patient.

But government cannot repeal the laws of supply and demand, and cannot extinguish the spark of freedom in peoples’ hearts. Now, the marijuana distribution chain becomes legal. Responsible entrepreneurs open shops to supply a skyrocketing demand for medicine. These small businesses serve needy patients. They pay taxes. They hire employees. They lease space. They advertise. And the drug war industrial complex can’t stand it.

The article only gets better from there. I find it very encouraging that Colorado’s newspaper of record would print this and that citizens are pushing back against big government, if only on this issue.

The Institute for Justice Challenges Unjust Law Banning Compensation for Bone Marrow

In January 2008 I wrote a post calling for the repeal of the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984. As I mentioned in the post, many thousands of lives are being sacrificed because of the moral hang-ups of certain individuals who think its icky to sell organs to people who need them. How dare they.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, bone marrow is included as part of the ban. The act of paying an individual for his or her bone marrow is a felony which is punishable for up to five years in prison for everyone involved in the illegal transaction.

The Institute for Justice has decided to challenge this most absurd provision of this absurd bill. Below is a video from the organization explaining their lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General’s Office:

For the sake of the Flynn family, here’s hoping that the Institute for Justice wins the day.

Hat Tip: The Agitator

Civil Unions In Illinois

My best friend of 29 of the 31 years I’ve been aboard this rock is a work-in-progress. I think he currently falls far too close to the “bleeding-heart-liberal” mindset, but he’s smart enough to eventually make the transition to “steely-eyed pragmatic libertarian”. He sent this along to me, and asked me to pass it along to like-minded folks in Illinois, where we both grew up.

Yo,

State Representative Greg Harris had indicated he will call the civil union bill for a vote during this October’s veto session. Contact your legislator again and urge them to support the Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act.

Click here for a super-easy way to contact your state representative–> http://action.aclu.org/ilcivilunion

Thanks,
-Mark

I’m not sure the legislation goes far enough, as this is in the initial test:

Provides that 2 persons may form a civil union if they: are not related by adoption or blood in any manner that would bar a civil union; are not in another civil union or marriage with any other living person; and are not under 18 years of age.

I asked my friend whether it was just his DuPage County right-wing upbringing that wants to limit civil unions to only two participants, and I’m still waiting on the response to that one. Until the bleeding-hearts get behind polyamorous civil unions, I don’t consider them to be intellectually consistent.

But for those of you in my old home of Chicago, after you shovel a deep dish pizza into your face (oh, how I miss Pizzeria Uno!) and watch Jay Cutler implode like every Bears QB in the last 20 years, write to your representative and see if you can do a little good in your state. After all, you don’t want to fall behind Iowa, do you?

Babs Boxer Will Do Anything For Re-Election: Even Cosponsor S.604!

Back in July, I sent letters to Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein urging them to support or even cosponsor S.604, the Audit-The-Fed bill. I received the typical mealy-mouthed responses (posted below after the fold), and like a bad blogger I never actually mentioned the responses here. How mealy-mouthed was Boxer’s response? Well, THIS was the most substantive thing she said:

I believe that all citizens should become involved in the legislative process by letting their voices be heard, and I appreciate the time and effort that you took to share your thoughts with me. One of the most important aspects of my job is keeping informed about the views of my constituents, and I welcome your comments so that I may continue to represent California to the best of my ability. Should I have the opportunity to consider legislation on this or similar issues, I will keep your views in mind.

Great… You thank me for sharing my thoughts. I feel empowered!

What you don’t say is anything whatsoever regarding your opinion on the legislation (at least Feinstein gave me *something*). So how do I interpret your letter?

‘I’m gonna put my finger up in the air and see which way the wind blows, because I have a vulnerable seat in 2010 and I don’t want to piss anyone off. If I see any benefit to myself, I might at some point take a position on this legislation.’

So, today, when I was reading United Liberty, I was reminded of S.604, and decided to check to see if there were any surprises. And to my astonishment, there was! Barbara Boxer actually co-sponsored S.604!!

Do I think she’s really all that interested in an audit of the Federal Reserve? Not from the email response I received. But hey, she knows a populist wave when she sees one, and she’s gonna ride this one to Nov 2010.

There are a lot of forces assembling behind the Audit the Fed movement. Those forces are having traction. Enough traction, in fact, to get a California Democratic Senator to fall into line. It may be a political calculation, but if someone like Boxer has to make that calculation, it proves that there’s actually some real mojo here. Congratulations are due to Ron Paul, because without his tireless work in the House, we wouldn’t be this close to a serious review of what goes on at the Fed.
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Hollywood’s Incomprehensible Defense of the Child Rapist, Roman Polanski

From The LA Times:

More than 100 industry leaders and prominent authors — including directors Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Michael Mann, Mike Nichols, Woody Allen and Neil Jordan — have signed a petition asking that [Roman] Polanski be released from Swiss custody. “Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision,” the petition says.

On the television show “The View,” Goldberg said, “I think he’s sorry. I think he knows it was wrong. I don’t think he’s a danger to society.”

I am rarely shocked by the hypocrisy of the Hollywood elites but I never dreamed that even these self-important hypocrites would come the defense of a child rapist. Though accused of drugging and forcibly raping his 13 year old victim, Polanski plead guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful sex with a minor. Yet Hollywood idiots such as Whoopi Goldberg go on national television and say things like “I think he’s sorry…I don’t think he’s a danger to society” and “it wasn’t ‘rape’ rape.”

If anyone has spent any time at all watching Dr. Phil, Oprah, To Catch a Predator, or virtually any other television program on the subject, one point that is often made is that pedophilia is “incurable” and are therefore offenders are always and forever a “danger to society.”*

Speaking of Oprah, where is she on this case? She spends a great deal of time and energy advocating stricter penalties for sex offenders and increasing budgets of local, state, and federal sex crimes task forces yet I have found nothing on her website or elsewhere about her thoughts on Polanski or the response of her Hollywood friends. Is she too afraid to offend her friends or does she also seem to believe that exceptions should be made for rich and famous celebrities?

Oprah, your silence is deafening.

My first thought was that this was another case of Hollywood exceptionalism but upon further inspection, this may not necessarily be the case. Had Roman Polanski committed a particularly heinous crime like voting for Bush, making a Jesus movie, or questioning Obama’s healthcare plan, these same people wouldn’t be signing petitions of solidarity or be so forgiving of him being a child rapist.

While the elites continue to point out that this crime occurred over 30 years ago and say we should forgive and forget, many thousands of individuals are required by law to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Some of these individuals’ crimes are actually quite tame** in comparison to what Polanski plead guilty to doing. In some extreme cases, registered offenders are forced to move if a school bus stop is moved closer to their home (yes, this means that even though the registered offender was already living there before the home was near a bus stop, s/he is required to move). Because no one wants to live near a sex offender, these individuals have great difficulty finding a place to live; some end up homeless living under bridges.

Just yesterday, Radley Balko reported at The Agitator that Georgia sex offenders were ordered to live in the woods…until the story broke and the public outcry forced them back out of the woods. Balko points out that they will have to once again notify the state of their new address even though they have nowhere to go (which is not an excuse; failure to notify the authorities could result in arrest).

If these sex offenders have to endure this sort of treatment, it only stands to reason that Polanski should endure the same. Sure, I suppose none of these other sex offenders directed Oscar winning movies but I’m sure that many of them made positive contributions to society as well, their sex offenses notwithstanding.

Whether its Roman Polanski, Roman Catholic priests, or any other individual who chooses to abuse children, justice demands that the criminal justice system treats them the same. Shame on the Hollywood hypocrites and Polanski sympathizers who demand anything less.

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Can The Country Survive?

Over at QandO, Dale Franks suggests that we’re careening towards a fork in the road. If we keep on at our current pace, we will reach that fork. Will we go left or right? Dale suggests both:

I’ve also said before–and every time I do, people like Oliver Willis call me crazy for saying it–we’re preparing this country to split apart. There are two political camps in this country: collectivists, and and indvidualists. (Forget party labels. The parties are, at best, loose approximations of those two camps.) It’s a fairly even split between the two camps. And the fundamental philosophies of those two camps have become irreconcilable, for a number of reasons, but primarily as a result of centralization of power in Washington.

Unfortunately, if the solons in Washington declare we must do X, there’s no way to escape the consequences of that decision. And so, every political decision is now fraught with national, rather than local consequences. As a result, the incompatibility between collectivists and individualists is reaching a boiling point. The centralization of power in Washington, and the nationalization of practically every domestic issue, has done nothing but poison our politics, and degraded our political discourse.

He goes on to point out that he doesn’t think we’re headed towards a violent civil war, but that we’re putting decisions on irreconcilable first principles in the hands of a central authority that will force one side to submit — and as we see with health care, they intend for the individualists to submit. Given an American cultural and historical opposition to authority, being forced even to do something we might have freely chosen is not something that we appreciate.

Dale focuses somewhat on federalism and the Red State / Blue State divide. I find that a bit odd, as we’re both living in Southern California, a state that might be worse than the Feds if they were given a free hand. I do see some advantages to federalism as a supporter of liberty; competition between state governments may drive ALL of them towards freedom to survive. But I think we’ve moved beyond a Founders-era conception where we thought of ourselves as citizens of a state first and the United States second. I am an American first and foremost, and a resident of California second.

The greater damage from centralization, though, is destroying the bond between a citizen and his government. The farther away a decision is made and the more competing voices one must overcome to affect policy, the more he feels that his government is completely out of his control. He doesn’t believe the government represents him, and he loses faith in that government. This is where the individualists are today. This is where I am today.

In California, Dale and I each have a vote. The Congressman of my district, John Campbell (R, CA-48) represents a population of roughly 640,000 people*. My vote is one for or against his party, and he is then a vote among 434 other Congressmen. The Senators of my state, Boxer and Feinstein, represent a state of 30M+ people. They are then two votes amongst 98 other Senators. The President is elected by the states, meaning that again my vote for President is one of 30M+, and this is for a state which controls over 10% of the nation’s electoral college votes, which is probably the largest voice I have.

When decisions are made in Washington, my voice as expressed by a vote is merely noise to those in power. I have therefore lost my belief that government has the ability to represent me. I am an American, but this is not MY government**.

Proponents of small government watched as Republicans spent us into record deficits when given the reins of power. We are now watching as Democrats pour gasoline on the spending fire. We individualists have nowhere to turn. We are not being represented and we are being forced into acquiescence with whatever Washington declares.

We have no control, we have no voice, and we are being forced into actions that we fundamentally — down to the core — believe are unfair, wrong, and illegitimate. We’re on simmer. We’ve boiled up a bit with the Tea Parties and now with these town hall meetings. But the government is continuing to turn up the heat, and it’s only a matter of time before we boil over.
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If This Be Un-American, Make The Most Of It

In what I can only call an extraordinarily disturbing Op-Ed in today’s USA Today, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer leveled an attack against those who are protesting the Democrats’ efforts to “reform” the health care system:

However, it is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted “Just say no!” drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.

Pelosi and Hoyer — or, to put it more accurately, the staffer who wrote this drivel for Pelosi and Hoyer go on to claim that Americans strongly support health insurance reform, and more specifically support the plan currently being debated in Congress. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the protests themselves weren’t an indication of this, then all one has to do is look at the polls which show that, at best, the public is deeply divided when it comes to the specifics of HR 3200, that most Americans like the health insurance they have now, most do not agree with Pelosi’s recent characterization of insurance companies as “villains, and that a majority believes middle-class tax cuts are more important than health care reform.

The argument that there is a “consensus” on health care reform in general, or on the merits of HR 3200 specifically, is just a bald-faced lie.

Even worse then getting the facts wrong, though, is the fact that Pelosi and Hoyer have decided to characterize those who disagree with them as “un-American.” They and their supporters will, no doubt, claim that the label is only meant to apply to those who have been disruptive, however it’s worth noting that they never managed to find it necessary to say the same thing when the disruptive tactics were coming from the left, as demonstrated by this Pelosi town hall from January 2006:

Dozens of heckling, sign-toting anti-war protesters tried to take center stage at the congresswomen’s town hall forum on national security — calling for an immediate de-funding of the Iraq war and impeachment proceedings against President George Bush.

(…)

Pelosi never summoned help from police or security. She negotiated with the hecklers and at times even thanked the protesters for their advocacy and enthusiasm.

“It’s always exciting,” she told reporters after the meeting. “This is democracy in action. I’m energized by it, frankly.”

So, a town hall filled with disruptive Code Pink demonstrators is “democracy in action,” but a town hall filled with opponents of ObamaCare is Un-American. Or at least that’s how the calculus works in Nancy Pelosi’s universe.

Glenn Reynolds put it best in a piece yesterday in the Washington Examiner:

Funny how fast the worm — or maybe it’s the pitchfork — has turned. Now that we’re seeing genuine expressions of populist discontent, not put together by establishment packagers on behalf of an Officially Sanctioned Aggrieved Group, we’re suddenly hearing complaints of “mob rule” and demands for civility.

Civility is fine, but those who demand it should show it. The Obama administration — and its corps of willing supporters in the press and the punditry — has set the tone, and they are now in a poor position to complain.

Whether they like it or not — and the evidence increasingly tends toward “not” — President Obama and his handlers need to accept that this is a free country, one where expressions of popular discontent take place outside the electoral process, and always have. (Remember
Martin Luther King?)

What historians like Gordon Wood and Pauline Maier call “out-of-doors political activity” is an old American tradition, and in the past things have been far more “boisterous” than they are today.

Rather than demonizing today’s protesters, perhaps they might want to reflect on how flimflams and thuggishness have managed to squander Obama’s political capital in a few short months, and ponder what they might do to regain the trust of the millions of Americans who are no longer inclined to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt.

I’ve been critical over the past week of some of the more sensational of the town hall protesters tactics (see here and here specifically). I’ve denounced those like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and the folks at Americans for Prosperity who have decided that the way to fight HR 3200 is to lie about it. However, the fact that I think their tactics are wrong, or counter-productive, doesn’t mean they’re un-American, or that they should be compared to Nazis, or that they’re racist.

There’s a phrase that comes to mind, and it’s one that we should all be familiar with:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Hoyer should be ashamed of themselves for calling the exercise of a precious Constitutional right “Un-American.”

C/P: Below The Beltway

When You Ask AARP Members to Voice Their Opinions About Healthcare…

…you better be prepared to hear opinions which don’t necessarily support the Democrats proposed government takeover of healthcare. The speaker at this meeting (in the video below) made the mistake of saying “I think we can all agree…”. From there, the AARP members took over.

Really brings a smile to your face huh?

Hat Tip: Boortz

Letters To Boxer & Feinstein To Support S.604 On Auditing The Fed

Below is the text of a letter I’ve sent to Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. H.R. 1207 (introduced by Ron Paul) and S. 604 (introduced by Bernie Sanders) is a bill that requires the Comptroller General to audit the Fed and report back to Congress within the next 18 months. Given that the only oversight they undergo is occasionally having Bernanke lie and befuddle Congress with confusing non-answers, I think it makes sense.

The below letter should be read as a potential template for readers to use when writing to your own Senators and Congressmen. However, there are two caveats to this. First, there are a few points here about California, as we have had some special challenges throughout the tech crunch and the housing collapse. Second, the tone of the letters is geared towards Democrats. If you’re sending this to Republicans, it would make sense to change the language in certain areas.

Either way, I wanted to provide potential talking points for readers who want to contact their Senators and get this ball moving.

July 9, 2009

Dear Senator XXXXX,

Senate bill S.604, a bill to require the Comptroller General of the US to audit the Federal Reserve, is currently under review with the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. I am writing to urge your support for this bill.

California has been the epicenter of two asset bubbles over the last two decades: the high tech bubble and the housing bubble. Both brought the illusion of wealth to our state, and both caused much pain to our residents and our state government when they collapsed. There are many causes of asset bubbles, but chief among them are the loose monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. These policies cause malinvestment and excessive speculation, the hallmark of any bubble.

The Federal Reserve policies of Alan Greenspan and continued by Ben Bernanke are placing the financial system of the United States in jeopardy. These policies are largely undertaken without Congressional or Federal oversight, and benefit the interests of our financial sector at the expense of our citizens.

Most recently, the Fed has expanded their balance sheet to $2T buying securities, all the while engaging in a policy of “quantitative easing”, which is the euphemistic term for “printing money”. These policies are unprecedented in American history, and their long-term effects may be far worse than the problems they’re expected to address today.

S. 604’s sister bill in the House (H.R. 1207) has widespread bipartisan support, and over 250 cosponsors – including 25 from California. S. 604 is rapidly gaining sponsorship in the senate, with three additional cosponsors added in the last several days to a (now) total of 7 sponsors.

The Federal Reserve is adopting policies that affect every American at the core of their economic life – the value of our dollars and the value of our homes. They are making these decisions without meaningful Congressional oversight and without allowing anyone to “check the books”.

Congress has a duty to Americans to ensure that the Federal Reserve is acting in our interests, and the first step to doing so is to understand what they’ve already done. An audit is necessary. I hope that I’ve convinced you to support and possibly cosponsor S.604.

Sincerely,
Brad Warbiany

(Followed by contact info)

Give it a shot. I prefer to fax things to elected officials, as I believe there to be a more definitive tactical feel to actual paper. When they see that it’s printed out and faxed, I think it carries a little bit more significance than an email. I also emailed this to both of them, just in case their staffers are more likely to read one than the other.

Counterpoint: The Tea Parties Portend A Liberty Movement Ceasing Its Silence

This post is the second portion of a feature we offer here at The Liberty Papers called “Point-Counterpoint”. In this feature, Kevin argued the Point yesterday that Tea Parties are ultimately damaging to the libertarian movement. Today, Brad responds with the below.

My boss is a mainstream Republican in his mid-40’s. He’s got a small crush on Sarah Palin. He recently took the Political Compass and ended up with a score of (+7.00, -0.67). He’s an accountant by training and salesman by profession. He’s not a protester by nature. In short, he’s a part of Nixon’s “silent majority”, the group described by wikipedia as not having “the ability or the time to take an active part in politics other than to vote.” His wife falls under the same general heading. My boss couldn’t make it to the April 15th Tea Parties — work was more important at the time — but strongly wanted to attend. His wife was able to make it to a Tea Party. These are people who are NOT the type to protest the actions of the government publicly. They are, IMHO, much more representative of the types of people who attended these current protests than those who are protesters by nature.

This is not the protester you're looking for.

This is not the protester you're looking for.


Oh, you’ve heard of those groups, I’m sure. These are the types that Kevin alludes to when he says the anti-war protests became anti-Bush protests. These are professional protesters (by professional, I mean that they don’t have day jobs that get in the way). They get their protest groove on before they even know what they’re protesting. Anti-war? Go away, fascists! Anti-WTO? Fine, you dastardly multinational capitalists! Anti-GMO? Leave my food alone! Anti-Bush? Selected, not elected! Described in the movie PCU as “causeheads” by character Droz (Jeremy Piven), they’re the career protesters that you find more often on the left:

“These, Tom, are the Causeheads. They find a world-threatening issue and stick with it for about a week.”

The Tea Parties, at least traditionally, haven’t been dominated by Causeheads. They’ve been attended by regular people — like my boss’ wife — who see that in modern America, the train has derailed and they’re afraid of the carnage to come. It’s people who understand that something is very, very wrong — but they aren’t yet sure why or how to fix it. It is a protest movement in its infancy, and it’s largely populated by people who are more likely to eventually follow the side of someone like Ron Paul* than the “birthers”.

Yes, there are a lot of elements trying to grab hold of the Tea Party movement for their own purposes. But I believe that the modern Tea Party movement can largely ignore those elements, because the Tea Party movement is an effect, not a cause. It is not Joe the Plumber dragging people to Tea Parties; it is their own sense of morality and outrage at what is going on. It is a group of people who is sick and tired of government meddling, but endured in silence for several years while “their party” was in power. When Bush at the end of his term and Obama ever since have hit the throttle on government spending and control, they simply couldn’t take it in silence any more.

The Silent Majority is speaking up.

Stephen Gordon wrote a pretty expansive round-up of Tea Parties that he attended and that he had knowledge of for the Independence Day protests. Throughout that post, it’s clear that this is a grassroots movement, although that in some places it’s more dominated by the local GOP political establishment than in others. In many of these protests, elected officials were barred from speaking, allowing individual non-political Americans to speak.

That is a recipe for a true grass-roots movement. Of course, letting anyone with an opinion speak is also a recipe for a few of them to say things that you may not entirely support. Giving everyone who wants a microphone access to one makes for a bit of a messy message — just look at the blogosphere! When you get that many people together, you may not be 100% comfortable with everyone. Imagine if I’d attended a Tea Party protest. Would your typical mainstream Republican be happy being associated with a radical atheist anarchist who wants to legalize all drugs, let gays get married, and thinks Sarah Palin is the worst thing to happen to the Republican Party since the atrocious George W. Bush? I’d like to think of myself as a consistent advocate for liberty in the face of our government, but I would think that many mainstream republicans would be put off by the views I espouse.

But all that doesn’t change the fact that what is animating these protests is not birthers, or truthers, or Joe the Plumber. The animating force behind these protests is a latent hostility to big activist government that has been piqued by bailouts, stimulus, and the understanding that you must have confiscatory taxes or widespread inflation down the road to pay for it.

We are at a tipping point when it comes to these protests. April 15th was the first shot in a fight against obscene spending and painful taxes. The July 4 protests are a difficult case, however, because they were more of a protest to keep the fires stoked than anything else. On July 4, I think it was more about having a protest than it was about protesting a concrete action. That will soon change. There are strong rumors of a second stimulus**. We have seen the House pass Cap and Tax. We are watching Congress move forward on government health care. These are specific proposals that any advocate of limited government must fight vigorously.

Americans are seeing the Democrats move forward with the same big-government agenda and top-down central planning that we know does not work. We watch as the Republicans either compromise by only enacting the big-government agenda 80% as fast as the Democrats want, or by cutting pork-laden deals to get something in exchange for going with the flow. Nobody in this debate is standing up for the taxpayers, and that means that you can expect more of these Tea Parties in the future.

Will these Tea Parties be good for liberty? These Tea Parties are the effect of liberty-minded individuals expressing their ideals in concrete action, not a cause of those ideals. Thus, for all the efforts of Joe the Plumber, the birthers, or avaricious politicos to manipulate the Tea Parties for their own ends, the fact still stands: the Tea Parties aren’t about these sideshows. Their presence doesn’t change the ideals of those who attended, and in the grand scheme of things, will not materially affect the fight for liberty.

The Tea Parties have one benefit that hasn’t been discussed. If my account is accurate — that these protesters are the “silent majority” speaking up — the Tea Parties are working to mobilize and connect a group of people that largely exist below the political radar. The biggest difficulty I had as a libertarian prior to widespread internet activity was the feeling that maybe I was the outsider and that nobody else agreed. But through blogging (in general, and The Liberty Papers in particular) I am now connected to like-minded people and am building the networks and connections to make real change. The Tea Parties have the same affect on those who believe in small government. In these protests, friendships are made. Connections are forged. The on-the-ground networks that will one day help us to rein in the excesses of our leaders begin to take shape. This, above anything else, is what I hope we will see as the legacy of the Tea Party movement.

As for whether the Tea Parties will ultimately be successful, I cannot be sure. There is a large contingent of this country that wants the government to be their nanny and has no problem forcing the rest of us to pay for it, and I’m not entirely sure that they can be stopped at this late stage. If that contingent is successful, we may someday point at the Tea Parties in hindsight and say “if only they did X, or Y, we might have won.” But as it stands today, they’re one of the only concrete ways for us to get Congress’ attention, they’re one of the ways that the movers and shakers of the future will forge their networks, and they’re serving their purpose despite Joe the Plumber and the “birthers”.
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Point: The Tea Parties Are Ultimately Bad For Liberty

This post is the opening salvo of a feature we occasionally offer here at The Liberty Papers called “Point-Counterpoint”. In this feature, Kevin is arguing the Point that Tea Parties are ultimately damaging to the libertarian movement. Tomorrow, Brad will respond to this argument with his Counterpoint (response here).

The so-called Tea Party movement has been upheld by some as a movement of Americans fed up with overtaxation and excessive spending by the Federal government. These supposedly disgruntled ordinary Americans have been having rallies all across the country to show their disgust with the fiscal shape of the country. However, there is more beneath the surface of the Tea Party movement. In reality, the Tea Party movement has become a platform for assorted kooks, Republican party operatives looking to regain credibility with the American people, and libertarian and conservative activists who frankly should know better than to associate with the above.

Many of the featured Tea Party speakers this weekend were either tax hiking, big government politicians themselves or can be safely classified as kooky.

One of the cases in point is none other than celebrity Joe the Plumber aka Samuel Wurzelbacher who turned an Austin Tea Party into an anti-immigration rant:

“I believe we need to spend a little more on illegal immigrants get them the (expletive) out of our (expletive) country, and close the borders down,” Wurzelbacher said. “We can do it.”

“We’ve got the greatest military in the world and you’re telling me we can’t close our borders- that’s just ridiculous.”

Another group of kooks gathered in Duval County, Florida at an event organized by the county’s Republican Party.

The Republican Party of Duval County is backing away from their promotion of an event that featured numerous controversial comparisons of President Barack Obama with German Dictator Adolf Hitler. The event, a Tea Party held at the Jacksonville Landing on July 2, was organized by the First Coast Tea Party. However, the Duval County Republican Party promoted the event with e-mails that stated “Paid by Republican Party of Duval County.” Duval Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry also broadcasted live from the event on the party’s weekly radio broadcast hosted by AM 1320.

The event, which was attended by Florida State Representatives Lake Ray, Charles McBurney and Mike Weinstein and Florida State Senator Stephen Wise, drew about 1,000 people to the Jacksonville Landing. Local party officials were on stage, along with numerous members of the Jacksonville business community.

While partisan rhetoric at any rally is expected, controversy has arisen over numerous signs that were prominently displayed at the gathering, including two that featured Barack Obama in Nazi garb. One sign, in fact, had altered Obama’s appearance to resemble Hitler. Other signs compared ACORN, the community organizing group accused of voter registration irregularities, with the SS—the Nazi organization responsible for enacting the Holocaust and the group responsible for most of the crimes against humanity committed by the Third Reich.

In short, the Tea Parties have become less about opposition to bailouts and reckless spending and instead have begun to resemble the “anti-war” rallies of the Bush years. The “anti-war” rallies were generally nothing more than “We Hate Bush” rallies and the Tea Parties have become “We Hate Obama” rallies where every phony outrage and faux scandal about Obama are aired to a country that is rejecting them. The Tea Parties have lost their original purpose of promoting fiscal responsibility in most of the country and the movement has come to the point where it harms the liberty movement by continuing to associate with them.

Plus, while original supporters of bailouts, higher taxes, and higher spending are being booed at some events, other tax and spend hypocrites are being welcomed as speakers and are cheered because they’re playing for the right team aka the GOP. By cheering on the same politicians who created the fiscal mess our country is in, the Tea Party movement continues the same fiscal mess they claim to oppose.

If the only purpose of the Tea Parties is to elect more Republicans then we have failed. Instead, we as libertarians must let this movement lose steam and fade away, like all populist movements do. Especially when we start seeing talk of the Tea Party movement nominating Sarah Palin, who is an enemy of everything classical liberalism stands for, to be its presidential candidate. If the point is to gain publicity for our causes, we are failing in this because the media is focusing on the fringe participation and the Republican party sponsorship of these events.

In short, libertarians and the Tea Party movement must divorce if the liberty movement is to survive. Or the Tea Party movement must clean its own house and get back to its core issues of fiscal responsibility.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

A few thoughts about last weekend’s Tea Parties

While I’ve not had enough time to take a comprehensive look at Tea Parties held around the nation on or around Independence Day, here are some quick observations from this full-time Tea Party enthusiast and part-time skeptic.

First of all, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) was booed when he spoke in Austin, Texas.  The key reason reason seems to be that he voted for the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bailout in order to protect “free market capitalism, with our civil liberties, [which are] are the foundation of American exceptionalism.”  In the hyperlinked explanation for his vote, he quoted Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in order to help spread the blame.  “This bill does not represent a new and sudden departure from free market principles…” explained Cornyn, who was quoting Coburn.

Coburn has also infuriated fiscal conservatives because, in his role as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he sided with “establishment candidate, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, in a Senate primary against young conservative leader, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio” in the Florida Senate race.

Coburn probably wasn’t the only Republican Party leader booed in Texas.  I’ve seen some video of Texas Governor Rick Perry speaking in San Antonio, but I’ve not seen any video with jeers from the audience from anywhere in Texas (he wasn’t allowed to speak at the major Dallas event).  However, there are multiple reports that he was booed for “his advocacy of toll roads to relieve traffic congestion.” I tried to obtain additional information on Twitter and it seems my suspicions were correct: He received some sporadic booing, not specifically because of toll roads, but that the road in question is the “NAFTA Superhighway” or “Trans-Texas Corridor”.  Based upon observations during my campaign work in east Texas in 2006, there are probably quite a few Birchers who still vehemently oppose this effort.

The least biased view of the Austin event which I’ve read comes from Robbie Cooper: » Read more

Independence 1776. Independence 201x?

From the time of 1765 forward, the American people, in fits and starts, began moving closer and closer to breaking ties with Britain and declaring independence. They grew increasingly angry at being dragged into [or paying for] the wars of the Crown. The King had largely held a hands-off approach with the colonies, who largely learned the self-governance necessary to carve a new nation out of wilderness. As the colonies became more prosperous, though, the King saw potential. He saw the potential to tax them as Englishmen but without giving them the full rights and representation of those in the home country. He tried to impose English hands-on governance upon a people who had learned to exist without such meddling. And this meddling was NOT appreciated.

We focus, and rightly so, a lot of energy and time on the Declaration of Independence and July 4, 1776. It is the watershed moment in our rise from loosely-joined colonies into a nation. But there’s more to the story.

For those who view today’s America as the culmination of the vision of the founders, it is right to view Independence Day as a day of remembrance of things past. For those of us who consider our current government (being the establishment since the New Deal and only accelerated by GWB and BHO) to be antithetical to the ideals that founded this nation and still rest latent within its people, it’s instructive to look at this from a far wider perspective.

July 4, 1776, and the Declaration of Independence, was one of the most important steps in the American Revolution. But it was only a step, and that step was squarely in the middle of the game, not the beginning. In fact, it occurred over a year after armed hostilities erupted at Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Bunker Hill took place the prior month. In terms of our nation, the Declaration of Independence is important because it marks the point at which our hostilities against the British became a struggle for independence, rather than a struggle for reparation. But in terms of the history of the struggle, the stage was truly set over the course of the prior decade.

There is not enough space to delve deeply into the history here. For reference, I heartily recommend A Leap In The Dark by John Ferling, and The Ideological Origins of The American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn. To summarize, one of the watershed moments of the lead-up was the Stamp Act of 1765. This was a tax on most paper products in use at the time, and it was a very visible and direct tax. It hit many colonists close to home, and was a new tax to these shores. The tax ignited protests a decade in advance of actual hostilities. For many, these protests were some of their first concrete actions in opposition to policies of their government.

But it was just a tax. Americans at the time considered it a piece of bad policy foisted upon them by the King, and when the King rescinded the tax, things simmered down. There had not yet developed an adversarial relationship between the colonists and the Crown. Over the next decade, though, a King who wanted to claim control over the colonies engaged in consistent escalation of his taxation and attempts to rein in what he considered improper actions of “his subjects”.

Throughout this decade, independence was never a foregone conclusion. Many in the colonies were not opposed to British rule, they simply wanted a hand in direction of that rule. Most people in the colonies viewed themselves as Englishmen first, citizens of their colony second, and Americans third. There was a very strong emotional connection to the Crown and to the people — many of them family — of the home country. The path to Independence was a jerking motion as the Crown bullied the populace, the populace resented the Crown, and all through that time voices towards independence helped frame the debate.

Samuel Adams was one of those key voices early on. In 1765, he was already advocating against Britain and — although difficult to speak out publicly for Independence — it is clear that he saw an American rift with Britain coming in the future. During the ensuing decade, Samuel Adams was a key instigator and key voice in framing the debate for Independence. He was instrumental during the “quiet period” of 1770-73, when the British somewhat reduced their acts of encroachment on the colonies. During this time, as anti-British sentiment waned, Samuel Adams was the key voice keeping the narrative of colonies vs. Crown in the minds of the people. It was never ONLY what the Crown did that led to independence; it was the voices of the rabble-rousers who saw the end game of subjugation to the crown who brought it to bear.

How did they bring it to bear? They changed the perception of the people. Prior to the Stamp Act, most colonists thought of themselves as Englishmen and saw the Crown as their legitimate government. Over that decade leading to July 4, 1776, that perception changed. The colonists increasingly saw the Crown as an arbitrary government willing to completely abrogate their rights in order to achieve its own ends. It saw the Crown treating the colonists in ways they believed it would never treat a true Englishman. They, as a people, ceased to give the government their consent.

This was a decade-long (and possibly extending farther back) effort. Few at the days of the first Stamp Act protests were likely envisioning a war of Independence brewing. Few are today.

In 2005, the Supreme Court found in Kelo that Americans could have their homes seized, at will, for nearly anything a local government claimed a “public use”, including handing it to developers who will build private-use structures. This hits every American in their homes. It makes every American understand that the whim of the government can take their highest-value, most cherished possession and give it to someone they think will make better use of it.

Since 2005, the United States Government has engaged in domestic wiretapping programs without judicial oversight, proving that the United States Government can listen in on your phone calls at the discretion of any civil-service bureaucrat who deems it necessary. It has created a terrorist watch-list of over 1,000,000 names, without any clear discussion of who is on that list, why, or how to have your name removed. If you’re on that list, you can expect to be hassled endlessly if you choose to engage in mundane civil activities such as air travel. During that time, it was learned that the United States Government has been engaged in “enhanced interrogation techniques” that — whether they’re technically defined torture or not — curl your hair to think about. Waterboarding is one that likely doesn’t sound as bad as it feels, but I defy anyone to support a government who engages in crucifixion.

In late 2008, in the midst of a financial crisis unlike any we’ve seen since the Depression, the United States Government decided that it could take $700B and simply hand it out to banks — more accurately, force banks to take it — and don’t have any real duty to the public regarding oversight of those funds. In the same time, the Federal Reserve and United States Treasury have either used or promised guarantees to over $14T in assets — larger than the GDP of the nation.

Since the election of Barack Obama, the United States Government passed a $787B stimulus bill not supported by a majority of Americans. The United States Government has de facto nationalized and illegally bankrupted two domestic automakers, rewriting the rules of bankruptcy in order to give out sweetheart deals to unions and the government. Most recently, the House Of Representatives has passed an enormous 1200-page Cap and Trade proposal (hidden tax) that included a 300-page amendment added only hours before the final vote. To believe that our “representatives” actually read this bill or its amendment is laughable. It is likely that over the next several months, the United States Government will pass a bill speeding us down the road to the nationalization of the healthcare industry, and to pay for it, enact a VAT to give them yet another revenue stream to extract the fruits of our labor.

Throughout all this time, the United States Government pays lip service to the Constitution, but routinely acts contrary to both its letter and its spirit at every turn. It is therefore defying even its own supreme blueprint.

If the United States Government is willing to act against the will of Americans, and if our “representatives” are willing to pass bills that they cannot and have not read — bills often giving law-making ability to unelected bureaucracies like the EPA, how can we really believe that we are a representative democracy? If the United States Government engages in barbaric acts such as crucifixion, how can we support it? If we have truly reached, as I believe, a point where our government views us not as citizens but as subjects, we must denounce the United States Government as illegitimate.

On this anniversary of the date of American Independence, it is right to celebrate. It is right to remember the valiant and principled action of the Founding Fathers to take on the world’s great superpower and assert their rights — many lost their lives in the effort. We have a nation worth celebrating.

But in remembrance of those who we are celebrating, it is important to understand their significance in a historic context (again, see the books recommended above). It is important to remember that the principles they are fighting for are again in peril. And it important to realize that in order for those principles to be recovered, we must tirelessly call the United States Government for what it is — illegitimate.

The time between the Stamp Act and the Treaty of Paris was 18 years. Between the Stamp Act and the Declaration of Independence, it was only the efforts of those who were willing to call the actions of their government deplorable that ensured that the yoke of that government would be lifted. It is now time for those of us who love our country and despise the United States Government to stand up and do the same. The American people are an industrious people, and often have little time to devote to paying attention to the actions of our government. They have a media more focused on the daily lives of TV celebrities than the outcome of legislation that will affect everyone’s daily life. They have been educated quite literally by the state to see the United States Government as a trusted friend and helpful assistant. This must change, and it is the work of those of us who believe in liberty to keep the fires stoked and educate them to the truth. This is not going to be a small job, and won’t happen quickly. But if we do not continually work towards this goal, we are resigning ourselves to a future led by a government by the power brokers, of the power brokers, and for the power brokers.

Today is a remembrance of America’s Independence Day. It is also a day to remember that committed citizens, in the cause of freedom, can break the chains of the greatest superpower seen on earth and claim their rightful liberty. It is a day to remember and celebrate those who did it before, but it’s also a day to steel yourself — there’s work to be done again.

UPDATE: Welcome readers from Let A Thousand Nations Bloom, and of course the many thousands arriving from Google News.

UPDATE 2: Welcome Carolina Sons Of Liberty readers!

Symbolic Victories Are Often Real Losses

Judging from his statements and the note he left in his car, James von Brunn walked into the Holocaust Museum believing that he was about to strike a blow against Jewish world hegemony and Federal gun-control.  Even by his twisted standards, his actions were counterproductive. His plan was to massacre people visiting and working at the holocaust museum, and to symbolically harm Jews, whom he believed were looting non-Jewish people through their control of the government and the financial industry among others.

Let us examine, though, the effects of von Brunn’s attack.  He murdered a security guard, Stephen T. Johns (who, it should be noted, had courteously opened the door let in the man who would murder him).  Within hours, the security guards who shot von Brunn down were rightly being lionized, and by extension, the entire apparatus of security-guards-cum-metal-detectors that have come to characterize the modern U.S.   People started agitating for further limitations on weapons ownership, freedom of speech and against organizations that agitate for freeing people from government oversight.  There was a massive outpouring of sympathy for Jews.  Two days after von Brunn’s attack, about the time doctors were concluding that he would survive his wounds, the Holocaust museum was open for business. No doubt within a week they will have hired Stephen Johns’ replacement.

In other words, from von Brunn’s perspective he lost: he suffered life threatening wounds, incited in people a hatred of his movement, shot an easily replaced, ‘expendable’ guard and shut a museum down for one day while giving it lots of free publicity.

Much as we libertarians abhor murderous savages like von Brunn, we should take note of the effects of his attack.  His attack is one of many that all demonstrate an important rule of resistance against the state.  Like John Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry,  the assassination of McKinley, and countless other acts of symbolic violence, von Brunn’s attack discredited his movement and increased sympathy for his opponents.

Hardly a month goes by without some fellow libertarian radical posting a comment to the effect that the second amendment is what protects the other rights supposedly enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, or writing cliched statements containing the phrase “ballot box, soap box, ammo box”.  In the 2008 primary season, Ron Paul supporters reveled in their symbolic victory after they chased Rudy Giuliani off the weather-deck of a ferry.

While such chest-thumping is very satisfying, and satisfies a psychological need to feel powerful, it  is usually a losing strategy;  any action that swings sympathy towards our opponents will make us weaker.  The psychology of crowds is fairly well understood.  Crowds hate the weak.  Paradoxically, crowds also envy the powerful. They want security and to live free of fear and uncertainty.  They don’t care about philosophy, and their conception of justice and morality is a crude, instinctual one that is the product of human evolution.

Turning the mob in a pro-freedom direction requires a combination of the following:

  • Inciting in people a hatred and contempt of the political classes and the bureaucrat and police who do their bidding.
  • Making people aware of how badly the political classes are ripping them off.
  • Developing institutions that perform social functions that do not use coercion to acquire resources.
  • Encouraging people to rely on themselves and those institutions.

Most violent/semi-violent protests incite in people a fear of the protestors.  The people then turn to the government to protect them from the scary protestors.  When the protests or political actions or symbolic acts of vandalism don’t accomplish any meaningful change, the net result is a stronger, more powerful government that has been given permission to suppress the movement that the symbolic act was meant to promote.

Successful protest movements like the black civil rights movement succeeded precisely because the symbolic acts encouraged people to identify with the protesters.  When the police set german shepherds on black people walking in orderly columns, the people seeing the images and video saw the police as the dangerous mob and the protesters as being the civilized, non-threatening party to the conflict.

It is very important that we who advocate for freedom keep this in mind; disorderly or scary behavior turns people against us.  Freedom is civilized. Commerce is peaceful. Free markets are bountiful.  Let us  allow the government an uncontested claim on the mantle of civilization-threatening barbarity it has worked so hard to earn.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Charles Lynch Sentenced to 1 Year and 1 Day in Prison

Read the news story here and reason‘s coverage here. The video below is Lynch’s response:

While I’m not happy that Mr. Lynch is doing time for legally dispensing marijuana under California’s compassionate use law, he certainly could have received a much harsher sentence (up to 100 years). U.S. District Judge George Wu should be commended for finding an exception to the 5 year mandatory minimum sentence and reducing it to a relatively reasonable sentence of 1 year. That’s probably the best he could do under the circumstances.

There is however, one person who can correct this injustice perpetrated by the Bush Justice Department: President Obama. I urge all those who support the Tenth Amendment to join me in calling on President Obama to pardon Charles Lynch. Federalism is a much larger principle in this case than medical marijuana or even the war on (some) drugs. The State of California (whether one agrees or not with using marijuana for medicinal purposes), passed a law the federal government did not like. This law does not violate the U.S. Constitution and is, therefore, beyond the reach of the federal government according to the Tenth Amendment.*

Furthermore, President Obama and his Attorney General Holder have both said on several occasions that the federal raids on these dispensaries would end provided the operators are not violating both state and federal law. A full pardon of Charles Lynch would go a long way toward reversing a bad policy from the previous administration.

» Read more

Senator Feingold wants your input on health care

Senator Feingold is half of the team which brought us McCain-Feingold. His “Citizen Brief on Health Care” wants your input. It asks:

  1. How does the state of our current system affect you and your family?
  2. What reforms do you think are necessary to fix our health care crisis?
  3. Do you support the creation of a public plan option?

and then for some contact information.

Here’s the link.

Republican Senators busted trying to water down the “Audit the Fed” bill

The Senate version of The Federal Reserve Transparency Act (HR1207) is being watered down.  Not by Democrats, but by two ranking Republicans. The Huffington Post reports:

Thanks to an overlooked document posted on the website of Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, voters can virtually watch the water being dumped into the brew that Grassley had hoped to force the Fed to drink. (See the document at the bottom of this story.)

On page five of Grassley’s amendment, he intends to give the Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office power to audit “any action taken by the Board under…the third undesignated paragraph of section 13 of the Federal Reserve Act” — which would be almost everything that it has done on an emergency basis to address the financial crisis, encompassing its massive expansion of opaque buying and lending.

Handwritten into the margins, however, is the amendment that watered it down: “with respect to a single and specific partnership or corporation.” With that qualification, the Senate severely limited the scope of the oversight.

On the Senate floor, Grassley named the top Republican on the banking committee, Richard Shelby of Alabama, as the man pouring the water.

“Although I would have preferred to include all of the Fed’s emergency actions under 13(3), in consultation with Senator Shelby I agreed to limit my amendment to actions aimed at specific companies,” said Grassley.

The Federal Reserve has a considerable amount of influence over our fiscal status, but there is no tranparency of their actions.  It’s so vital that a full audit be conducted that 186 House members have co-sponsored the bill already. The way I see it, “partial audit” makes about as much sense as a “partial virgin”.

Please contact Senator Shelby and Senator Grassley and let them know we demand a full audit of the Federal Reserve.

Senator Grassley
(202) 224-3744
E-mail

Senator Shelby
(202) 224-5744
E-mail

Help put Freedom Watch on Fox News Channel

While I rarely simply cut-and-paste an entire campaign or party e-mail to a blog post, this one deserves to be an exception to the rule:

Help put a libertarian news program on the Fox News Channel!

Dear Libertarian activists,

Thank you so much! Because of your support, the show “Freedom Watch” is finally being considered for an open time slot on Fox news.

You know what that means? A Libertarian television show would be on mainstream media!

Finally a show that reflects the attitudes and opinions of people like you and I who care about personal and economic liberties.

Right now there is an open time slot and Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show, “Freedom Watch” has been put forth as a possible filler for it.

But, there’s one stipulation. I just got off the phone with the producer and I heard they will make the decision so we need to bump up the number of views on the show as much as we can, AND we need as many people as possible to write an email to Fox to request it get on air.

Can you please help?

Here’s the link to the show:

http://tinyurl.com/qcumjb

It’s time for the Libertarians to go MAINSTREAM!

Send them an email here and we can get this show on air!

yourcomments@foxnews.com

Here’s a sample email you can cut and paste:

To Whom it May concern:

I am writing today to request that Judge Napolitano’s “Freedom Watch” be given a chance to be aired on Fox News Channel.

There are so many people out there I believe that would watch it because there just aren’t any shows that really cater to independent minded people like me who care about things like personal and economic freedom.

Having a show like this on television would really be exciting and I would definitely watch it and get my friends and family to watch it too. Fox would be opening up a whole new market and bring in lots of new viewers! Please put it on air!

Thank you!

Again thank you all so much for all you do for liberty,

Sincerely,

Austin Petersen
Director of Outreach
Libertarian National Committee


Don’t Apologize For Funny

Comedy is hard. Really, really hard. Funny requires stepping outside the box — saying something a bit unexpected. There are a lot of ways to screw it up, and often what sounds funny in your head is not so funny when a listener hears it. There’s a reason why many actors say that comedy acting is a lot harder than drama acting.

Comedy and politics is even more difficult, because you have a pretty significant group of people just salivating over the chance to vilify and embarrass you if what you say is at the least bit unfunny.

So I’m not going to criticize Anderson Cooper for this. It’s funny.

Gergen: “They still haven’t found their voice, Anderson. This happens to a minority party after it’s lost a couple of bad elections, but they’re searching for their voice.”

Cooper: “It’s hard to talk when you’re teabagging.”

There are a lot of reasons why that’s funny, but key is that Mr Highbrow Serious Reporter-man Anderson Cooper went for a scrotum joke. If Bill Maher or Jon Stewart said it, it would be expected and might get a chuckle. To see that from Anderson Cooper, though, is priceless. And he deadpans it! It would be too easy to try to play it up, to try to emphasize the line. If it were Rachel Maddow, she’d have said it with that annoying smirk and ruined the joke.

This was funny. It’s a shame he apologized.

Video below:

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