"We must learn to defend all our personal resources with reason, clarity and the kind of effective persuasion that wins friends, rather than alienating them. For this, no group is more helpful than the Advocates, which teaches independent thinking coupled with empathy and tolerance for others."
â€” Tonie Nathan, first Libertarian Party vice-presidential candidate (1972), and first woman in American
history to receive an electoral college vote
WELCOME to the Liberator Online!
In This Issue
* Great Libertarian Movie
* Marijuana Shockers Propel New Re-Legalization Effort
* SWAT Teams: We're Above the Law
* VIDEO: Reporters Openly Laugh at Obama State Dep't
* Best Libertarian Science Fiction/Fantasy of the Year Announced
THEY SAID IT: Rand Paul tells why we should minimize government.... P.J. O'Rourke on the problems with legislating personal morality.... Nick Gillespie wonders why we're headed back to Iraq.... How does the state hurt the poor? Let me count the ways.... David Letterman worries about the next U.S. target.... Jimmy Fallon raps CNN and Obama....
PERSUASION POWER POINT #372 by Michael Cloud
* George Bernard Shaw's Tailor
ASK DR. RUWART
* Ayn Rand and American Indians
ONE-MINUTE LIBERTY TIP by Sharon Harris
* Tip: Make Your OPH Booth a â€œPolitically Homeless Shelterâ€
WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE ADVOCATES
* Upcoming: Advocates communication workshops and speeches
* FREE OPH KITS for libertarian student groups!
* Join the Advocates on Twitter
* Join the Advocates on Facebook
by Sharon Harris
Great Libertarian Movie
"Still Mine" (2013) is one of the best libertarian-themed movies I've ever seen. It's based on a true story.
In 2007 Canadian Craig Morrison, 88 years old, set out to build a small home where he could care for his wife, who was suffering from Alzheimer's. He began building it himself, on his own land, with his own hands, using lumber he sawed himself â€” as he'd done other times in the past.
But this time he ran into trouble â€” from new restrictive building codes and oppressive bureaucrats who ultimately threatened to bulldoze his home and throw him into prison.
"I thought this was a free country, that we had liberties and freedoms like we used to have, but I was sadly mistaken," Morrison told
a local newspaper. "All I wanted to do is build a house, and I was treated as if I was some kind of outlaw."
This film is based on that story. It's a gripping tale of one fiercely independent man facing a soulless bureaucracy. It is more than a political story. It's about families, about ageing, about love, about responsibility.
"Still Mine" is marvelously done and has received rave reviews from critics. The Canadian Globe and Mail called it "a cautionary tale of the tremendous power of the state over the individual in an age of pervasive bureaucracy. It is, indeed, a profound parable of irretrievably lost independence and casually forgotten freedoms."
"Still Mine" stars James Cromwell, renowned for decades as a character actor, in his first lead role. His performance is wonderful (as are the other performances in the film). I was curious if he had more than a passing interest in the politics in the story.
Turns out he did. Cromwell's father, John Cromwell, was an award-winning actor and director â€” who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. That left a mark on his son. In the 1960s James Cromwell did guerrilla theatre protesting the Vietnam War and fought segregation in the South. He was part of the Committee To Defend The Black Panthers, which worked to free unjustly imprisoned members of that group.
In an interview
at RogerEbert.com, Cromwell said the following about the political message of "Still Mine."
"My watchword has always been 'Resist Authority' and I have been involved with radical politics since the sixties...
"Somebody wrote a review [of "Still Mine"] where they said 'Somebody who does not obey the law cannot be a sympathetic character.' What about Gandhi? What about Martin Luther King? What about the suffragettes or those for gay rights or the people who have always stood up to oppose unjust laws and regulations?
"They have always been our heroes and in that respect, I personally think that Craig [lead character in "Still Mine"] is a hero. It is on a small scale but he says that this does not stand and cannot stand. It is not human and it is not caring. Those are the politics of this film."
Although in one interview a few years ago he said he was a libertarian, in another more recent one he described himself as a progressive. Whatever his politics, he's always been an outspoken champion of the downtrodden and the underdog, and in interviews he frequently urges people to "question authority."
"Still Mine" is a beautiful film in many ways, and watching it is like seeing one of those great Institute for Justice
ads about citizens resisting unjust government come to life.
It's on DVD. I highly recommend it.
* * *
The purpose of the Liberator Online is to build a stronger movement for liberty. We do this by providing information about the libertarian movement and how to best communicate the ideas of liberty. Thank you for being a part of this!
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Find out how you can get Sharon to speak at your organization. Email Sharon now, or call her at 770-386-8372.
by James W. Harris
Marijuana Shockers Propel New Re-Legalization Effort
"The Uncovery" is a new online program by the American Civil Liberties Union designed to facilitate mass online activism in support of marijuana re-legalization.
The Uncovery website
lets users select facts about the failures of marijuana prohibition, both national and state by state, and convert these facts into customized graphic messages they can share on social media and send to legislators â€” all in sixty seconds or less.
Among the sobering facts offered by The Uncovery:
* Police in the U.S. make a marijuana arrest every 37 seconds.
* Police made over 8 million marijuana arrests total nationwide between 2001 and 2010.
* 88% of all marijuana arrests are for marijuana possession.
* States spent an estimated $496 million incarcerating people for marijuana possession in 2010.
* States spent an estimated $1.4 billion adjudicating marijuana possession cases in 2010.
* States spent an estimated $3.6 billion enforcing marijuana laws in 2010.
* States spent over $1.7 billion on police enforcement of marijuana laws in 2010.
* In 2010, police made 889,133 marijuana arrests â€” 300,000 more arrests than they made for all violent crimes.
* Between 2002 and 2011, the government spent billions enforcing marijuana laws. In that time, marijuana use increased from 6.2% to 7%.
* 9 out of 10 U.S. adults believe people who possess or use small amounts of marijuana should not face jail time.
* 52% of Americans support legalizing marijuana.
* Since legalizing marijuana in 2012, Washington State projects it will raise more than $500 million in marijuana-related revenues annually.
* More than 42% of all Americans report having tried marijuana in their lifetime.
* The world's largest jailer, the U.S. has only 5% of the world's population, but 25% of the world's prison population.
* Black people and white people use marijuana at similar rates, but Blacks are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
* In New York and Texas in 2010, 97% of all marijuana arrests were for possession.
* 62% of all marijuana arrests in 2010 were of people 24 years old or younger.
* Between 1995 and 2010, police increased the number of marijuana arrests they made nationwide by 51%.
* 52% of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana.
* If current trends continue, the government will spend almost $20 billion enforcing marijuana laws in the next five years.
Learn more at TheUncovery.org
SWAT Teams: We're Above the Law
From a recent Washington Post column by libertarian Randy Balko, entitled "Massachusetts
SWAT teams claim they're private corporations, immune from open records laws":
"[A] number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board ....
"Some of these LECs have also apparently incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations. And it's here that we run into problems. According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that the 501(c)(3) status means that they're private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they're immune from open records requests.
"Let's be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences.
"And yet they say that because they've incorporated, they're immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state's residents aren't permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they're used for, what sort of training they get or who they're primarily used against."
VIDEO: Reporters Openly Laugh at State Dep't Defense of Obama
"One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms," declared the great libertarian H.L. Mencken.
So when mainstream reporters start snickering publicly at the president, that's a very good sign.
Enjoy, then, this very short (one minute 36 seconds) video clip
from a State Department press conference in late May, in which amused reporters openly mock State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki's claim that Obama's foreign policy record is worthy.
Psaki says to the assembled reporters, "I would argue the president doesn't give himself enough credit for what he's done around the world, and that's how the Secretary feels tooâ€¦"
"Credit for what?" asks one bemused reporter, clearly astounded at the idea. Others join in, eventually laughing aloud at the idea that Obama has done anything deserving credit in recent foreign policy.
We could use far more such skepticism, but this is a great start.
(Thanks to Reason.com and Hotair.com)
Best Libertarian Science Fiction/Fantasy of the Year Announced
Want some great libertarian-oriented reading? The Libertarian Futurist Society
has some new recommendations for you.
For more than three decades, the Libertarian Futurist Society has given its coveted annual Prometheus Awards, which celebrate outstanding current and classic works of science fiction and fantasy that stress the importance of liberty as the foundation for civilization, peace, prosperity, progress and justice.
This year's Best Novel Award was a tie: Homeland by Cory Doctorow and Nexus by Ramez Naam.
Cory Doctorow has generously allowed readers to download Homeland â€” and some of his other works â€” for free here
Homeland, the sequel to Doctorow's 2009 Prometheus winner Little Brother, follows the continuing adventures of a government-brutalized young leader of a movement of tech-savvy hackers â€” who must decide whether to release an incendiary Wikileaks-style exposÃ© of massive government abuse and corruption as part of a struggle against the invasive national-security state.
This is Doctorow's third Prometheus Award for Best Novel. He won last year for his Pirate Cinema. All three are young-adult novels with strong libertarian themes.
Nexus by Ramez Naam is described as "a gripping exploration of politics and new extremes of both freedom and tyranny in a near future where emerging technology opens up unprecedented possibilities for mind control or personal liberation and interpersonal connection."
The other finalists:
* A Few Good Men by Sarah Hoyt
* Crux by Ramez Naam (sequel to his Best Novel-winning Nexus)
* Brilliance by Marcus Sakey
The Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) winner is Falling Free, a 1988 novel by Lois McMaster Bujold that explores free will and self-ownership by considering the legal and ethical implications of human genetic engineering.
The other 2014 Hall of Fame finalists: "As Easy as A.B.C.," a 1912 short story by Rudyard Kipling; "Sam Hall," a 1953 short story by Poul Anderson; "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," a 1965 short story by Harlan Ellison; and Courtship Rite, a 1982 novel by Donald M. Kingsbury.
In a separate awards ceremony, four-time-Prometheus Award-winning author Vernor Vinge will receive a Special Prometheus Lifetime Achievement Award.
Author-filksinger Leslie Fish â€” according to Prometheus "perhaps the most popular filk song writer of the past three decades and one who often includes pro-freedom themes in her songs" â€” will receive a Special Prometheus Award in 2014 for the combination of her 2013 libertarian-themed novella "Tower of Horses" and her related filk song, "The Horsetamer's Daughter." (No, that's not a misspelling. Filk songs are songs created from within science fiction and fantasy fandom, usually dealing with related subject matter.)
The Prometheus Award will be presented in a ceremony during the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in London, England August 14-18, 2014.
For further great libertarian fiction reading recommendations, see the list
of past Prometheus Award winners and nominees.
* * * * * * * *
Intellectual Ammunition is written by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, and he has been a Finalist for the Mencken Awards, given by the Free Press Association for "Outstanding Journalism in Support of Liberty."
THEY SAID IT...
RAND PAUL ON WHY WE SHOULD MINIMIZE GOV'T: "You want to minimize how much government we have because government frankly isn't good at anything." â€” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweet, July 19, 2014.
P.J. O'ROURKE ON LEGISLATING PERSONAL MORALITY:
"Imagine trying to make the Ten Commandments into laws. There goes Hollywood Buddhism, representative art, golf on Sunday, the language I use during golf on Sunday, most sex, Wall Street, fibbing to escape the Tupperware party next door, and envying your boss's Porsche. And we'd all be jailed for putting mom in the nursing home." â€” P.J. O'Rourke
, "Up To A Point: My Problem With People Who Agree With Me," The Daily Beast, July 20, 2007.
BACK TO IRAQ:
"[T]roops â€” well, advisers â€” are going back to Iraq, six years after this president was elected on a promise to get us out of there." â€” Nick Gillespie, "After Bipartisan Bush-Obama Blundering, Let's Try a Libertarian Foreign Policy," The Daily Beat, July 16, 2014.
GOV'T VS THE POOR:
"How do states harm poor people? Oh let me count the waysâ€¦ patent and copyright laws, which impede competition, immigration restrictions, which lock people out of opportunities, licenses, which prevent people from entering the market, regulation that is often originated in rent seeking, the money monopoly, which helps large banks and currency manipulators, credit laws, which crush small banks through capitalization requirements, tariffs, which protect large companies from foreign competition, transportation, which helps big box corporations through highway subsidies, urban sprawl policies, which enrich construction companies, research subsidies, which hook the public on risky investments, limited liability laws that protect large corporations from lawsuits, labor laws that restrict the ability of unions to defend their workers, bailouts that directly redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich, eminent domain, which rewards land to political donors, a tax code that can be gamed by the wealthy, the military industrial complex that enriches weapons manufacturers, and more." â€” Cory Massimino
, "The Conscience of an Anarchist: A Review," Center for a Stateless Society, May 30th, 2014.
"According to a new study, the largest producer of oil is now the United States. So you know what that means â€” any day now we'll be invading ourselves." â€” David Letterman, July 11, 2014.
REAL BREAKING NEWS:
"They want to make it so the president can instantly
interrupt TV broadcasts whenever there's breaking news. Then Obama said, 'And I mean REAL breaking news, not that CNN stuff.'" â€” Jimmy Fallon, July 15, 2014.
POWER OF THE PEN:
"House Speaker John Boehner is threatening to sue President Obama for using executive actions to create laws, instead of going through Congress first. Then Obama shrugged and made a new law that you can't sue the president." â€” Jimmy Fallon, July 7, 2014.
NOTED AND REQUOTED
"The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence ('aggress') against another man's person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a non-aggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory." â€” Murray Rothbard
, from his classic 1963 essay "War, Peace and the State," recently requoted
by Sheldon Richman.
* * * * * * * * * *
"They Said It..." is compiled by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris.
Persuasion Power Point #372
by Michael Cloud
George Bernard Shaw's Tailor
"The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me," wrote George Bernard Shaw. "The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them."
Most of us aren't as wise as George Bernard Shaw's tailor.
We see people we haven't seen for years, and we tell them, "You haven't changed a bit!"
Or, "You're the same as you always were."
Are they really the same?
Or are we forgetting to take their measure anew?
Social psychology has a name for this: the High School Reunion Phenomenon.
At our 10th year reunion, or 20th year reunion, we see people we haven't seen since high school.
We talk about old times. We relive glory days. We reminisce.
Then we go home and say, "I've changed a lot, but they're the same as they ever were."
When we go to high school reunions, we're scanning for similarities. Our memories are primed to find people who look just like, sound just like, and act just like the kids we went to high school with. Only older. And wrinklier.
We're looking for similarities. So that's what we find.
We know that we've changed.
Or have we?
If we rode home with some of the people that we'd just seen for the first time in ten or twenty years, we'd hear them saying, "Boy, they haven't changed a bit... but I have."
We didn't take their measure anew. And they didn't take ours.
George Bernard Shaw's tailor was right. People do change. And unless we look for change, we'll miss it.
This is crucial to persuasion.
People change their values. People change themselves. And events change people.
Changed values and changed lives mean new opportunities for communicating libertarianism.
Changed values and changed lives mean new wants and needs. New situations.
New concerns and interests. New conversational openings.
If we assume that the person we were talking with "hasn't changed a bit," we might miss out on the fact that they just got audited by the IRS. Do you think that might make them more receptive to libertarian tax cut and tax repeal proposals?
If we forget to take the person's measure anew, we might never know that one of their close friends or family members has been sentenced to prison for a marijuana offense. They might be open to the idea of ending the War on Drugs.
If we overlook the fact that people are always changing, we might not hear about a friend being stalked or threatened. We might never know that they are ripe for a discussion of gun ownership and the right to protect themselves and their families.
If we neglect to look for how the person has changed, we might not learn that they are expecting a baby... and might be eager to hear about homeschooling. Or separating school and state.
What can George Bernard Shaw's tailor teach us?
1. Actively look for what's different when you meet people again. Actively ask what's different.
2. Seek and scan for changes in their lives. Explore the changes. Ask them to talk about the changes since you last got together.
3. What's new in their lives? New activities. New people. New events. New feelings and values. Invite people to talk about the novel and new.
4. Comment on and, where appropriate, compliment them for positive changes. Drop them notes mentioning how healthy and good they look since they've lost the weight. Or since they got their promotion. Send them notes and emails giving them warm feedback on the changes.
Change is opportunity. A new chance to build libertarian bridges to other people's lives.
And we might miss this opportunity.
Unless we emulate George Bernard Shaw's tailor.
Ask Dr. Ruwart
Dr. Mary Ruwart is a leading expert in libertarian communication. In this column she offers short answers to real questions about libertarianism. To submit questions to Dr. Ruwart, see end of column.
Ayn Rand and American Indians
QUESTION: How do libertarians feel about this Ayn Rand statement: "[The Native Americans] didn't have any rights to the land and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not usingâ€¦ [W]hat was it that they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence. Their right to keep part of the earth untouched, unused, and not even as property, but just keep everybody out, so that you can live practically like an animal, or maybe a few caves above it.... Any white person who could bring the element of civilization had the right to take over this country."
MY SHORT ANSWER: I've never seen this comment before; thanks for sharing! Most libertarians â€” myself included â€” would disagree with it.
Native Americans did conceive of, and recognize, property rights for scarce resources, such as fishing rights in rivers, which were generally held and passed down in families. Land property wasn't usually scarce; property rights usually aren't well-defined when a resource is abundant, since there is no competition for it. Consequently, Native Americans often did not establish land boundaries, homestead particular parcels, or recognize land claims. Some exceptions included an individual or family's farmed fields and tribal hunting grounds.
Although by European standards, the Native American existence might be considered primitive, the land wasn't untouched or unused. Native Americans used the land primarily to hunt, to fish, and to farm, but used sustainable practices to insure future sources of food. Natives living in our rainforests today are in a similar position as Native Americans were; libertarians often donate to a legal fund so that they can litigate for recognition of their homesteading claims.
LEARN MORE: Suggestions for further reading on this topic, from Liberator Online editor James W. Harris:
* "The most ignorant thing Ayn Rand ever said?" by Timothy Sandefur. Sandefur , a Pacific Legal Foundation attorney, Cato Institute adjunct scholar, author of several books, and Objectivist, thoughtfully examines the quote, Rand's fallacies on this issue, and the context of her remarks.
EXCERPT: "I consider myself an Objectivist; I think Ayn Rand's philosophical and political arguments are basically correct, and I enjoy her literature tremendously. But I think it's important for Objectivists to acknowledge when Rand was wrong about something, and there can be no doubt she was wrong [in this quote]â€¦ The Cherokee had property rights, as well as a written constitution, newspapers, a formal government, schools, and a capital city. Other tribes had similar institutionsâ€¦ I think it's safe to say that Ayn Rand knew virtually nothing about the history of American Indians. In part this is no fault of hers, since historiography and cultural anthropology at that time was pretty shabby, and because that was a period when the silly leftist romanticization of Indians was first reaching a height which is only now diminishing."
* "Dances With Myths" by Terry L. Anderson, Reason Magazine, February 1997. Anderson is executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) and a leading free market environmentalist. In this article he gives numerous examples of how, at times, American Indians established and defended property rights.
EXCERPT: "American Indian tribes produced and sustained abundant wealth because they had clear property rights to land, fishing and hunting territories, and personal property. Pre-Columbian Indian history is replete with examples of property rights conditioning humans' relations with the natural environment."
* * *
Got questions? Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you'd like answers to YOUR tough questions on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart
Due to volume, Dr. Ruwart can't personally acknowledge all emails. But we'll run the best questions and answers in upcoming issues.
Dr. Ruwart's previous Liberator Online answers are archived in searchable form.
Dr. Ruwart's latest book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her acclaimed classic Healing Our World.
One-Minute Liberty Tip
by Sharon Harris
Tip: Make Your OPH Booth a â€œPolitically Homeless Shelterâ€
I'm always on the lookout for ways to make OPH even more fun and successful than it already is.
(OPH is, of course, Operation Politically Homeless â€” the Advocatesâ€™ acclaimed "event in a kit," which uses the World's Smallest Political Quiz and other tools to transform an ordinary dull ho-hum outreach booth into a crowd-drawing, fun event.)
Danny Bedwell â€” Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Congress and former Chair of the Libertarian Party of Mississippi â€” has a neat tip I'm pleased to share with you.
On hot summer days, make your OPH booth even more attractive to passers-by: turn it into a â€œPolitically Homeless SHELTER.â€
The idea is simple, clever and easy. Just put those words â€” â€œPolitically Homeless Shelterâ€ â€” on a sign near your OPH booth, and prominently show that you have free iced water or soft drinks, snacks, and perhaps a shady place to pause and rest a moment.
If youâ€™re doing OPH outside on a hot day â€” at a fair, festival, concert, rally or other event â€” this is an easy way to make your OPH booth even more popular.
When your guests take the World's Smallest Political Quiz, they will discover where they fit on the political map. You'll be turning the "politically homeless" into people who have a true political home! And you'll discover lots of people who are thirsty for liberty (as well as that cold drink).
Learn more about OPH here.
Students: Weâ€™re giving free OPH kits to student liberty groups! Learn more here.
* * * * * *
Sharon Harris is president of the Advocates for Self-Government.
What's Happening with the Advocates
August 8-9: Advocates President Sharon Harris will be a featured speaker at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)'s "Communicating Liberty" conference in Atlanta.
Attendees will learn how to dramatically increase their effectiveness at communicating the ideas of liberty.
October and November: The Advocates will be at numerous Students For Liberty (SFL) regional conferences throughout the U.S. and Canada. We will announce which ones as soon as they are confirmed.
Email us now if you'd like us to send you further information on these events.
Email Sharon to find out how you can have a communication event near you.
FREE OPH KITS FOR LIBERTARIAN STUDENT GROUPS: Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we're giving our acclaimed OPH (Operation Political Homeless) outreach kits to libertarian student groups FREE â€” if they simply promise to use them a minimum of three times a year and send us photos documenting their OPH activity. OPH â€” praised as the best recruiting tool in the libertarian movement â€” normally sells for $50.00.
If you're in a student libertarian group, click here for more information on getting your free OPH kit.
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