Teen Wolf and Gary Johnson (Opinion)

Teen Wolf and Gary Johnson

Teen Wolf & Gary Johnson: I hear a lot of people saying, “Gary Johnson ran in 2012 and got less than 1%. Why do you think he can win now?” For Libertarians, that’s a loaded question.

First, understand that we know the difference between who should win and who is likely to win. For a Libertarian who believes in limited government, it’s easy to say our guy (Johnson) should win. We believe it passionately. We’ve been keeping score on Republicans and Democrats for a long time and we see them both as growers of government.

Democrats want the government to be so big that they can say, “Hey! You’re too rich. I need to take more of what you earn so someone else will be better off. P.S. We’re not asking. We’re telling.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be rich some day. Like Mr. Deeds, I think I’d use my money for good, but I’m turned off by the idea that the more I make, the more they take.

Republicans want the government to be so big that they can tell you what bathroom to relieve yourself in. I think that’s a shitty position. But that’s neither here nor there.

When someone makes the argument that Gary Johnson’s shortcomings in 2012 (still about one million votes) should mean he can’t win in 2016 I say, “Consider Teen Wolf.”

Remember Teen Wolf? It was the 1985 comedy in which Michael J. Fox played Scott Howard, an angst filled teenager whose uncertainty on the basketball court and lack of confidence with the ladies made him a veritable nobody in high school. That is, until he discovered his family curse, which also turned out to be a blessing, which then turned out to be a curse, and then a blessing again. Still with me?

Now that you’ve been refreshed, replace Scott Howard with Gov. Gary Johnson in the thick of the Teen Wolf saga. First, forget about Scott’s time in the closet with Boof. Second, the wolf is irrelevant, so forget about that too. And finally, don’t think about Gov. Johnson backstage with Pamela during dress rehearsal.

As a matter of fact, let’s limit this analogy to Scott’s time on the basketball court. In the opening scene, the winning point comes down to Scott. Insert inaudible onlookers, amplify the sound of the ball being dribbled, highlight the immense amount of sweat dripping down Michael J. Fox’s forehead, and put it all in slow motion. But, despite the theatrics, Scott misses from the free throw line and falls short of victory, which was a metaphor (I think) for the whole of Scott’s story at the time.

For the record, had he been successful, it would have been a really short movie.

As the film progresses, Scott Howard realizes he’s a werewolf with extraordinary abilities. As the wolf, he’s a star on the basketball court. He’s invited to be in the school play and is arguably the most popular guy in high school. But he realizes (eventually) that all of his successes are cheapened because it’s not actually him that has fallen into social acceptance. It’s his alter ego, and he’s determined to turn the tables and win on his own.

Some think he’s crazy, like the invisible man opting out of invisibility and walking into the bank vault for a quick withdrawal. But, it’s what he wants.

Fast forward to the end of the film (and spoiler alert?). Scott (not the wolf) is back at the free throw line. The game winning shot is his to take yet again. But this time, after all of the theatrics have commenced, Scott makes the shot and wins the game. Everyone celebrates.

Why didn’t he win at the beginning of the film? He didn’t win because circumstances were different. Back then, he didn’t believe in himself. This time he knew what it was like to be a winner (thanks to the wolf), and it was his job to transition that from the wolf’s legacy, to his own.

Likewise, circumstances prevented a Gary Johnson victory in 2012. People weren’t ready for it. But after four years, the two term Governor of New Mexico has learned some valuable lessons, all of which have culminated at a time when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most unfavorable Republican and Democratic candidates ever, are offering little choice to fiscal conservatives and fans of less foreign conflict and intervention. And that could be Johnson’s golden ticket.

That, could be Johnson’s winning shot.

With another former Governor, William Weld at his side, 2016 could be the perfect storm, and at the very least the existence of a non-Trump/Clinton ticket will offer an option of conscience to more reasonable voters.

So, while he didn’t score the game winning shot in 2012, Gary Johnson’s final act is yet to be seen, and I for one want him to sink it.

 

 

 

Opinion: What is a Libertarian?

Today I listened to Jason Stapleton talk for 44 minutes on the topic, “What is a Libertarian?” Like Tom Woods during one of his recent podcasts, Jason agreed that a Libertarian “Is not ‘fiscally conservative and socially liberal,’ like Gary Johnson suggests. Rather, Libertarians have their own philosophy and operate on a standard of core libertarian principles. We are not a little of this party, a little of that party.” He then when on (for the next 40 minutes) to explain what a libertarian is/is not. Woods did something similar on his show (and at a luncheon during the Libertarian Party’s national convention).

But here’s my thing (whether it’s popular or not): If it takes 30-40 minutes to explain what a Libertarian is, then no Libertarian Party candidate for President will ever stand a chance at mass recruitment and/or a majority of votes.

People best absorb new ideas in bite sized portions.

While it might not be 100% accurate, Gary’s branding of the libertarian message works in only four words (fiscally conservative/socially liberal). It’s consumer friendly. It’s bite-sized. Non-libertarians can easily wrap their minds around it.

If I were pitching a movie to a Hollywood executive who hears (mostly bad) ideas all day and has minimal time in her schedule, I wouldn’t waste our time explaining every part of my script. She’d kick me out of her office before the second act. I would take two movies that she was already familiar with and use them to paint a picture. For instance, if I was pitching the ever-campy Sharknado series, I might say, “It’s Jaws meets Twister.” Or, if the film’s title was self-explanatory (Snakes on a Plane) I would use that. This level of brevity offers enough of the idea to generate interest and create understanding.

For libertarianism, the only other person I’ve heard make a succinct enough description is Matt Kibbe when he says, “Don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff.” But even that implies our beloved “taxation is theft” argument, which likely requires further explanation to people that don’t understand why government is bad for them.

So, because I want to win and see the Libertarian Party grow (with professionals, not naked dancing men)…

When I’m confronted with the opportunity to offer the Tom Woods/Jason Stapleton explanation of liberty vs. the Gary Johnson explanation, I’ll take Gary Johnson’s all day long.

If that’s what it takes to bring people in and make them comfortable digging deeper (perhaps getting to Woods/Stapleton), then by all means, I’m fiscally conservative, and socially liberal.

Update: I’ve also heard “social acceptance/fiscal responsibility.” That works for me too.

Song: Freedom – Election 2016

This was inspired by Dr. Marc Feldman’s rap at this year’s LP Convention and the Gary Johnson/William Weld nomination. I hope it is an encouraging hip-hop anthem for all libertarians during this year’s election season. If you like it, please consider making a donation to Gary Johnson’s campaign at GaryJohnson2016.com or to We Are Libertarians at WeAreLibertarians.com via Patreon. Or, you could donate to both! For Liberty – Joe Ruiz


Lyrics

Verse One

Look at this place we’re in. We could set the pace, Set our fates to win. Nobody demonstrates how they hate the kids like the status quo, debates, and the states that’s been. Thin – They say our chances are. We battling a beast that is so bizarre. We finally got a reach and the dance is ours. Now it’s time to unleash with our hands to stars. For this race is so staged whether red or blue. You can’t even believe what’s been fed to you. Are Republicans and Democrats dead to you? Because this year they’re dead to me too. I opt for freedom. I want to vote for me. We need to stand up for our rights to be. We need to stand up for some liberty. If we do, man, what a sight to see. I just need some (freedom).

Verse Two

Got our sights set on it. We finally got a moment now we can’t jet from it. We finally gotta own it. Be the champs – gotta want it. Put a stamp on the map. Show the people that they fronted when they told’em – only 2 choices in the U.S. We’ve been the voice, media just kept’em clue-less. Be for the truth, otherwise we keep it truthless. We the most authentic. I don’t know, that’s just my two cents. They called us wasted votes, but looking at it we’re the only sane ones to note. I say it’s time that everybody jumped on the boat. Are the other guys gonna get it done? Nope. They’ve just had too many chances – know the problems, not the answers. They the problem. That’s the stance if we really want to advance us. Let’s vote different cuz’ the same is outlandish. The way to be – for Liberty. Now everybody put your hands up.

Bridge

It’s a new day y’all. Either we choosin’ to change, or we choosin’ to fall. Either we choose to engage or we’ve rejected the call. Either we rippin’ down the system, or we buildin’ a wall. Either we askin’ for permission or we takin’ it all. Either we acceptin’ the mission or we droppin’ the ball. Either become an activist or be a fly on the wall but I just think that we should be involved.

This is for everybody this year that wants to be exceptional.
For everybody that’s brave enough to say “No More.”
For everybody that’s done with war, corruption, debt, and most importantly, for everybody that’s ready for some (freedom).

Political Parties: I Am Finished.

I am finished with political parties.

I am finished with political parties. I have been saying this for a while, but have not said it so publicly until now. In 2012, I was a hardcore advocate of the Libertarian Party. Before that, I was a Democrat.

Now, I am nothing. In my opinion, that makes me everything.

Why?

There a few reasons for this transformation.

  1. I do not need a name tag. I believe what I believe. While those views most closely align with the Libertarian Party, I may (from time to time) come by a Democrat that I enjoy, or even a Republican. I reserve the right to vote for any candidate, regardless of the letter next to their name. I do this without guilt or concern for the peer pressure that may accompany party affiliation. I have decided that this is the most pro-liberty position to take.
  2. Parties are unnecessary. What do you think parties do? Chances are you are wrong. Most likely, somebody else handles that. That begs the question (though): what is the party’s purpose? Is their purpose to run campaigns? When I ran for office, I thought there was a lack of “party support.” They nominated me (which was great). However, I thought (naively) that they were supposed to do so much more. To be fair, that was my fault, not theirs. My misconception was that the party was my campaign team. In my mind, they would be my volunteers, organizers, fundraisers, etc. The truth is that the team you create is your team – nobody else. Is their purpose to advance a message? Republican and Democratic parties change their messages regularly on the whims of their members and/or most likely voters. To quote Glenn Beck, they simply watch to see which direction the parade is moving in, and then jump out in front of it. In the liberty movement prominent authors, think tanks, personalities, and activist organizations are largely responsible for the evolution of thought. Therefore, you can check that off the list.
  3. Parties create the team sports mentality. Watch Republicans and Democrats for any period. In a recent debate, Hillary Clinton called Republicans her greatest enemies. In early Republican debates, moderators asked candidates, “Will you promise to support the Republican candidate no matter who he/she is?” When Donald Trump “no,” it was a huge story, and since he inevitably changed his mind you have to wonder what scrutiny his party applied. Do you think that means Republicans and Democrats have no ideological overlap? No. It just means priorities on the national stage are bad. Other parties are not much better. Every party wants control of the law. If the Libertarian Party took the reins tomorrow, human nature would eventually lead them down the same path. It might take a while, but ultimately the rhetoric of every party is that they are superior to the next, and so they should be given/stay in power.

Why do they exist?

It is easy. Parties exist to sustain themselves. All of their resources (time, money, nominations, etc.), are spent on winning – not for the betterment of our nation, but for the betterment of the party. They want to stay relevant. Moreover, I, for one, think we would be better off without it.

Without parties people would:

  1. Have no straight ticket option (and no desire for one).
  2. Be forced to think about each candidate on each issue.
  3. Vote for their favorite policies rather than simply voting against a label.
  4. Have a greater opportunity to advance education and persuasion (key for libertarians long hindered by the word “libertarian”). The winds of perception are real.
  5. Get a lot of the money out of the political process.

What do we do?

Whether you are a Libertarian, Green, Republican, Democrat, or anything else, let us all drop the labels and just be independents. Donate to the candidates that you agree with. Never donate to political parties. Rejecting a label does not mean compromising your values. I would even argue that it would advance them.

Let us disown all political parties. It is not a sport. There is no need for jerseys. A nation of independents will land closer to a nation of independence.

What Sucks About Ladies’ Night?

 

Be warned. This post is not political.


 

Do you know what sucks about Ladies’ Night?

I’m inebriated, and for all intents and purposes I have become a cliché – a mannish glassful of bourbon, distastefully paired with a disposable glass of Merlot. And why? Because it’s ladies night at the Ruiz house.

To be fair though, that’s not the only reason I’m smashed. I like to drink. It’s rare when you have children (if you’re responsible), to have a night when drinking doesn’t induce a significant degree of guilt. But since my kids are with my parents for the night temptation overrode my better senses.

Shouldn’t I be working? Absolutely. Are there better ways to spend my time? Well, that depends on the person. Brad Paisley had an entire album titled Time Well Wasted. I always liked that phrase. But being the night that it is, I’m currently a king who, though his rule is mighty, has been forced to retire to his chambers early, not by the threat of cold steel, but by feminine suggestion.


 

Weeks ago I found out that my wife was hosting a “Favorite Things” party. From what she tells me, Favorite Things is a tried and true tradition where each woman buys some of her favorite things and gifts them to another women in the group. Why? It (supposedly) causes women to consider new products, or to think about things that they haven’t tried before. I suspect (however), that it’s really just an excuse to eat, drink, and be merry beneath the guise of generosity.

By her side I’ve spent the better part of two days making sure that our home was pristine and void of any appearances which might suggest that a 4 year old and a 7 year old regularly thrash it. After all, and I say this from the outside looking in, female friendships don’t at all look like male relationships. They’re different.

All of my friendships are lukewarm. I mean, we enjoy each other’s company. I love our conversations. We occasionally make each other laugh and we have no short supply of favorable memories. But a lot of our conversations focus on politics and culture. We quote movies and “save the world” by complaining about the events of the day and suggesting how we’d do it better. Conversations about family are vague and kept somewhat under wraps.

That might actually be the biggest parallel that I see between men and women. While women make their things look well-taken care of and clean their houses so their friends think, “This is comfortable.” Or “She’s really got her shit together,” men say just enough about their families for their friends to assume, “Yeah, he’s got this.” Or “He’s got his shit together.” Notice the absence of the word “really” when I’m talking about men. With us there’s just not much of a need for emphasis.

Maybe it’s a societal thing. For centuries women have been pressured to become nurturers and good homemakers, so making good food and drink accessible to their friends and having a clean home helps to maintain that illusion. It’s an illusion that, even though women are increasingly more independent and free from their pre-feminist shackles, they seem to keep close. They don’t have to. Women know how hard they work. They know they deserve more breaks than they’re given and that the clean house and fresh baked goods bit is fiction beyond common courtesy. But they do it anyway.

Meanwhile, guys are traditionally supposed to take care of their families and be responsible for a happy wife and well-protected kids. That can mean a lot of different things to different people, but in its simplest form it really means they’ve got a roof over their heads. It’s much more animalistic. It’s much more hunter/gatherer. So we don’t even try to prove ourselves. We just omit. Do we need to show each other how good we are at being manly? Not really. Even if we did, it might be unmanly of us to care.

When our friends come over to visit they see the roof. Our wives and kids are usually somewhere around. That’s plenty for them. Anything else that’s said is a bonus, so we’re free to solve the world’s problems again.

And then there’s this: In Prince’s song Future Baby Mama he has one of those moments where he steps away from the melody and starts talking to his person, whoever she is. He says, “I know what you want. (You want) what every good woman wants – a man so in love with you that he can’t help but flaunt you. Deep down I know what you want. You want your girlfriends to hate you.”

You might be thinking, “Really Prince?”

Two things about that: 1. Shut up. He’s Prince. He does what he wants. 2. He does beg the question: When women gather, are they really putting their best foot forward out of common courtesy; so they feel more secure in their womanhood? Or are they (like Prince says) really trying to make their friends jealous?

I don’t think it’s the latter. I think that’s probably a strong accusation. In my opinion it’s more of the former. But you could probably make different arguments based on each individual.


 

Now I’ve written myself sober, and while there’s been no great point or demand to my writing I’ve learned recently that I don’t need one. Writers can just write because they enjoy writing. In fact, if these three pages or so seem somewhat A.D.D, you now know a little more about me as a person. Honestly. I am, by my nature, all over the place.

I can hear the “favorite things” being passed out now. They all sound happy. They’re definitely entertained. And I’ll say this: If men could ever take anything away from women it’s that with women there’s always an undercurrent of support. You could speculate that there’s more gossip, drama, and backbiting in female circles… I guess. But I think that’s surface fodder. That’s more the stuff of prime time television. But if you ever accused them of that publicly I almost guarantee you’d be opening a fresh wound in a pool full of sharks.

Men aren’t that sensitive. If I told one of my friends I’ve been having a rough go of it lately, I might be invited to elaborate, but it would ultimately end in a quick “I’ll keep you in my prayers” or “I’m sure things will work out.” But with women it’s otherworldly.

When Woman A has had a rough go of it, Woman B is more than attentive. She feels it for herself. She relates to it, internalizes it, and processes it, in a way that we’re just not capable of doing. Woman B never helps Woman A fix her problems. Rather, Woman B is structural support. She’s not there to stare down the wind for blowing. She’s there to endure the wind; to make sure that if her friend flies away, she won’t land on the pavement alone. And I think that’s pretty special.

So do you know what sucks about Ladies’ Night? Not a damn thing. If anything it means your lady will come home more whole and even keel.

If I had to put a moral to the story, it’d be this: Men, whether we’d usually admit it or not, we’re needy. I’ve learned (over time) to resist the urge to call my lady home when it’s Ladies’ night. Don’t be a bitch baby. Embrace it. In the long run, it’s as good for you as it is for her.

 

 

 

Lee’s Chi-raq an Ode to Gun Control

Nobody wanted Chi-raq to be a good movie more than I did. I wanted it to be the best movie.

As an extra in the film – alternating between the roles of “Riot Police Officer,” “National Guard Soldier,” and “National Guard Dancer,” I was invested. Chi-raq was my first experience on the set of major film, and I gave 10 days of my summer – long days that ranged anywhere from 10 to 16 hours, to acting out my small parts.

And though they were small, I spent months hoping for an epic masterpiece. I hoped for a dark horse to ride in with a powerful message and spark an authentic change in the streets of Chicago.

I regularly checked the film’s IMDB page for a release date, shared updates as they appeared on social media, and pre-ordered the Blu-ray as soon as it was available.

Even as an extra, I could have been as proud of Chi-raq as its creator, Spike Lee.

And then I saw it…

First, I’ll offer the disclaimer that I knew gun control was (thematically) going to be a big part of the story. Still, it was a chance to be a part of a movie helmed by a well-known director, and since it was my first opportunity, I wasn’t about to turn it down.

Despite those themes Chi-raq had some very redeeming qualities. In theory it could have had a profound impact on its subject; Chicago neighborhoods driven by gang violence – burdened by black on black crime.

But the final product seemed to lose track of its audience. For every good point the film championed, something was said or done to negate it.

Chiraq 2

The Cons

  1. It lost focus. Chi-raq’s first ambition seemed to be telling a reckless and violent criminal class, “Enough is enough.” I support that. Making an emotional appeal against senseless killing and asking our brothers and sisters to consider how violence perpetuates more violence is cool, but the film strayed from that. After a while Spike’s political leanings bled through into the picture and left me asking, “Where’s this going?” Was Spike still speaking to the hood? It became unclear. Suddenly Chi-raq went from a cautionary tale set in Chicago to a cinematic treatise on racial inequality, income inequality, and the need for stricter gun laws. It even mentioned how these gangsters could buy guns with a fake ID at Indiana gun shows without a background check. To be clear, I doubt the subjects of the film frequent Indiana gun shows. Of the many other issues Chi-raq went on to address I sympathize with Black Lives Matter, I agree that private prisons are a mistake, and I understand that there have been far too many instances of bigotry and racism within the prison industrial complex, and with local and state police forces. But it seemed out of place. Because of these outside voices Chi-raq seemed to turn away from its original audience for the purpose of chewing out a larger, equally bad, yet still unrelated culture. I didn’t like that.
  1. Unnecessary commentary. Periodically Samuel L. Jackson’s character Dolmedes would interrupt with a third party observation about the events unfolding. Dolmedes didn’t belong anywhere else in the story. He was a narrator, and by no fault of Mr. Jackson’s, he should have been cut. Throughout the movie I understood what was happening just fine, and Dolmedes’ summaries didn’t contribute anything to better my experience.
  1. Comedy or Satire? There were several scenes that, as standalones, could have been very funny. I remember approaching Spike Lee one day as he thumbed through his text messages and telling him, “This is going to be hilarious.” Granted, as an extra I didn’t know the film’s synopsis. I didn’t know anything more than what other uninformed extras had told me on set. He gave me a kind of unamused look and asked, “Is it?” Of course he did. He knew his vision for the film. I didn’t. In the final edit the scenes that seemed really funny while filming were held back, diluted, and restrained. Since then Spike Lee has emphasized the difference between comedy and satire during promotional interviews, insisting that the humor in Chi-raq is about satire and not comedy. At the end of the day though, it just made me wish those scenes weren’t in the movie at all.
  1. The lyric. A majority of the dialogue had a kind of rhyme to it. Most of the verbal acting was in spoken word. Sometimes it was really effective, but most of it was just overdone and distracting.
  1. It failed women. Throughout the movie a battle of the sexes played out. The female characters in Chi-raq set out to abstain from sex until the men stopped killing each other. Okay. But despite gun violence being the central issue, Lysistrada’s strategy could have also worked in favor of feminism in a cinematic world where the female characters were very much objectified and mistreated. The male characters outwardly called female characters “bitches,” “wenches,” and “hos,” and even referred to their lady parts as “nappy pouches.” With all of the power Lysistrada’s army were able to demonstrate in Chi-raq, they could have changed the game and ended up with a more peaceful community AND a community of men that treated them with respect. Instead they embraced the sexism, almost as if to say, “You can treat me any way that you want as long as you stop shooting each other.” That was a shame.

Chiraq

The Pros

  1. Cinematography. The pictures were beautiful throughout. Kudos to Spike Lee for the quality of his visuals.
  1. Moments of brilliance. There were certain scenes – particularly those involving the daughter of Jennifer Hudson’s character Irene, which came across as sincere and powerful. I really found myself in it. I wish there had been more of that.
  1. It started a conversation. When the message was on point it was strong! I hope it reaches more than just the casual viewer, and hits those that are actually committing the acts of violence that Chi-raq
  1. Performances. All of the actors did a great job. Even with the spoken word that I disliked, all of the cast, but particularly Nick Cannon, Teyonnah Parris, Angela Bassett, and John Cusack, did a phenomenal job of interpreting the spirit of the dialogue. Their level of professionalism was evident.
  1. It explored a solution. While it’s unlikely that a sex strike will spark a revival in a very misguided and jaded culture, at least it makes a proposal. At the end of Chi-raq, no one should walk away demanding that sex be withheld. However, everyone should walk away asking, “If not sex, how can we fix this?” And for that, Chi-raq should be applauded.

Education: A Private Facebook Chat

You’ve probably heard it mentioned in past episodes of the We Are Libertarians podcast, that a secret Facebook thread exists for the podcast’s hosts. But what brand of villainy goes on there? I’ll never tell. However, I will share this, since it was a great conversation that happened within the thread before we could make it to the podcast. Thanks to Greg Lenz, for always asking intriguing questions, making compelling arguments, and being civil in his discourse. – Joe Ruiz


Greg Lenz: Do you think teachers and (more so) school administrators, have a responsibility to follow what skills are in demand now and will be in the future? Or is that too high of an expectation to hold them to?

Joe Ruiz: What do you mean?

Greg Lenz: Shouldn’t schools teach skills that children will need in the future? Or at least skills that will be a foundation to build upon?

Joe Ruiz: Yes, but…With the advent of Common Core, I feel like teachers don’t really have a choice in what they teach. They have to make sure their kids are prepared for the standardized tests that are forced on them, and in most cases the curriculum that is set for them is so stiff that they can’t even utilize alternative means of getting the info to the kids.

Greg Lenz: Agreed. I’m not asking them to teach it. I’m just asking them to consider what their purpose is.

Joe Ruiz: My daughter’s Kindergarten teacher believes wholeheartedly that kids their age should be moving around, staying active, getting engaged in the material and burning off energy while they learn about the world. But because of the standards she is held to (Dibels testing, sight words, etc.), having them do that means they’d spend all of their time at home doing the state’s worksheets. So she has to try to create a balance where they get some of the worksheets done in the classroom, and some of them done at home (usually averaging about 8 worksheets at home per week).

Greg Lenz: Sure, and I have no beef with that. My question is, “Is education desirable? Why?”

Joe Ruiz: Change the question. Is being uneducated desirable?

Greg Lenz: No

Chris Spangle: NO MEANS NO!

Joe Ruiz: Good. I absolutely think teachers should be teaching what kids need to know versus what they’re currently teaching. I just don’t think whether or not they do it is the teacher’s decision at this point.

Greg Lenz: Perfect

Joe Ruiz: If it were, the teachers who still find value in cursive could still teach it, if they could justify it to their peers (just using cursive as an example).

Greg Lenz: Should they have to justify that value to me as a taxpayer and parent?

Joe Ruiz: I’d say so. Isn’t that essentially how teachers would be held accountable in a libertarian utopia?

Greg Lenz: Yep

Joe Ruiz: That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’d have to change their curriculum at the whim of every parent, but they’d probably still need to have an explanation prepared.

Greg Lenz: Now, do I have a right to require my kid’s teacher to make a case in the defense of education? Many have never considered why education is valuable, or why we place such an emphasis on it.

Joe Ruiz: I’m not sure I understand? Do you mean: Do you have a right to require your kid’s teacher to be an advocate for education, in a better state than it currently exists, to the state and Department of Education?

Greg Lenz: No, fundamentally, why do we want every child to be educated? What is the purpose or end goal?

Joe Ruiz: The advancement of society. Progress.

Greg Lenz: Progress of what? Society is an aggregate measurement of individuals.

Joe Ruiz: Arts, sciences, medicine, engineering, etc.

Greg Lenz: How can we advance art? In science, engineering, and medicine there are empirical methods for measuring progress. Language is subjective, like art.

Joe Ruiz: By continuing to create it. If kids don’t understand language, grammar, etc. there will never be another Twain…or Hell, even a Rowling.

Greg Lenz: But popularity/name recognition/sales are not progress. Unless Fifty Shades is progress too.

Joe Ruiz: I might argue that it is in that it opens the door to conversations that may have otherwise been held behind closed doors (if had at all).

Greg Lenz: Ultimately education is about building the skill set of an individual, right? I include critical thinking a skill. It’s the only reason we have it. So why is a skill set desirable? To produce and live. So teaching a child cursive, unless it is an aid in the learning process for the child, is unimportant and not worth requiring. In addition, if the purpose of education is to provide skills for production, not keeping abreast of what skills will allow them to in the future is a crime.

Joe Ruiz: That makes sense. I’m not against the abolition of cursive. But I wish it was something that, should the teacher find time in the day, is allowed to be taught. We still teach Greek, Hebrew, and Latin in both college and preparatory schools. It doesn’t mean that just because they’re dead languages, that knowing them isn’t valuable to uncovering some historical secrets later on.

Greg Lenz: For sure, and you can make a living as a Greek translator, Rabbi, or Latin teacher.

Joe Ruiz: Yes, and 100 years from now if an important letter from a former President or other historical figure were uncovered and written in cursive, I would hope someone knew how to decipher it.

Greg Lenz: My original point was this: If teachers haven’t considered what their purpose is, they merely exist to follow orders.

Joe Ruiz: I agree with that.

Greg Lenz: Hence the testing trend…

Joe Ruiz: Yes. And someone should rage against it.

Greg Lenz: And ultimately educators exist to teach someone how to learn. The great ones create a passion for learning.

Joe Ruiz: Those are the Mr. Feeney’s of the world. LOL. But in all honesty though, educators are leaving the field faster than the state can train and hire new teachers because of the “orders” that they exist to follow.

Greg Lenz: Because the skills necessary today will be different than tomorrow and public teachers are actively fighting against that.

Joe Ruiz: But that’s not all. I hope not.

Greg Lenz: They are. Take the fight for cursive, for example, or the fight against allowing HTML as a foreign language credit. Over valuing English and grammar (which is art not science).

Joe Ruiz: Part of it has to be this though: If you handed Picasso a canvas that was entirely paint by number and told him, “Every painting that you do from here on out has to live within the parameters that we’ve set for you on the canvas,” he would have chosen to sculpt rather than paint. There’s never been a time where kids have needed to be met where they’re at more, and yet teachers are required to meet a bird’s eye view curriculum in an educational system that is crying for personal attention.

Greg Lenz: We can get a customized version of everything in this universe except public education. It’s an assembly line in a world of 3D printers. And the educators did it to themselves by not skating to where the puck going.

Joe Ruiz: That might be true. But “they did it to themselves” doesn’t make right what is wrong with the system.

Greg Lenz: The reason they didn’t is because they’ve never been forced to define or defend their purpose. What would make it right is if educators understood their purpose, not just to follow orders of social engineers in a bureaucracy. I don’t think any educator or DOE secretary considers why the founders wanted public education, or why being educated is preferable to being uneducated.

Step two: We’ve established its preference, but why? What do we hope to achieve?

Joe Ruiz: That might be true in the big picture. But as you’re presenting it, it sounds like you’re vilifying teachers…the individuals who are in the profession. Most of them get into the field because they like working with kids and want to help mold tomorrow’s leaders, the way it’s always been spun to us. When presenting an argument like that I don’t think we can shame anyone. We just have to empower them. “Teachers, knowing your purpose is the key to setting this thing right.”

Greg Lenz: Yes. And I don’t blame teachers. I blame myself, or parents for not making teachers defend their purpose before being hired or graduating from with a degree in education.

Joe Ruiz: That’s good. That said, I think you could, with something that basic, uplift an entirely new generation of educators, who might help to reform education in years to come. It would be good for a teacher to identify their purpose, and ardently defend it to the state. Then, they would have the courage to say, I am not a babysitter. I am not a social worker. I am not a parent. I am not a counselor. I am, in fact, an educator.”

Greg Lenz: Right. And in order to graduate, you have to define education, demonstrate its value, and defend it. They have a more important role than nearly any other person in each student’s life.

Joe Ruiz: It’s the second most important role, a parent being first.

Greg Lenz: Right.

Joe Ruiz: This should have been in an episode of the podcast.

Joe Ruiz: By the way, regarding your thoughts on English: You don’t think a consistent form of communication is important though? Regardless of profession.

Greg Lenz: No, not where we are going. If it prevents someone from understanding what you mean, then yes.

Joe Ruiz: That’s kind of assumptive. Even with coding, you’re still setting up platforms with which to communicate in a traditional language.

Greg Lenz: If it’s format is quirky, but still understandable, it’s no different than if you’re Shakespeare.

Joe Ruiz: It’s like when I read guest submissions for We Are Libertarians. Sometimes I have to read them multiple times to try to understand what the writer is trying to say, even if what was written made total sense to the writer. Sometimes their words are spelled correctly. It’s just the way certain writers speak and the words they use. It can make it really hard to find the point. Likewise, if I read Mises, the content is over my head and I get confused.

Greg Lenz: Language and grammar are not without vale. It’s a supply and demand thing. The STEM majors command higher wages because there is greater demand and fewer in possession of the skill set. English majors are lucky to find technical writing jobs for $10 an hour.

Joe Ruiz: Sure, I agree. But that’s because you don’t need a college degree to be a writer. You just need to know how to write. But to say that it’s not a vital part of a college education is different from saying it isn’t a vital part of education as a whole. For instance, a guy I knew in college was an English major because he wanted to be a writer. Now he works at Wal-Mart and spends his nights writing screenplays on First Draft while eating Taco Bell. I on the other hand, had no English education beyond high school and am now a paid writer, who writes for a world-renowned political commentary site with extraordinarily handsome podcast hosts. (j/k)

Greg Lenz: Unfortunately, that’s the norm. And Shakespeare, Rowling, Twain etc. weren’t great because of their technical proficiency. They were great because of their creativity, which isn’t taught enough.

Joe Ruiz: Can you teach creativity?

Greg Lenz: English instruction should be a tool that is used to express and develop creativity.

Joe Ruiz: I would accept that. A creative class that teaches writing among music, art, etc?

Greg Lenz: Yep. Because that’s where the value is, not in perfect grammar. Now creative abilities will vary, but you can teach frameworks. For example using metaphors to grasp a concept. This painting represents man’with meaning, use legos to build something a child struggles with in the day to day life of a child.

Joe Ruiz: Right, perfect grammar is not as important as conveying a thought in an understandable fashion. In that respect, I agree.

Greg Lenz: But schools overvalue proficiency and undervalue creativity. That hurts earning power.

Joe Ruiz: That’s probably true. But I wouldn’t endorse the idea that any form of communication is okay. There’s got to be a happy medium in what we accept.

Greg Lenz: The market determines that. English became the standard because people wanted to converse in it. Demand drives the medium. Any medium has to be okay because a medium has no value except the value that individuals attach to it. It’s a vessel for interaction, like currency. That’s why English replaced Latin.

Joe Ruiz: Right, but a more uniform “currency” of interaction helps to limit misunderstandings, at least across subsets of the culture.

Greg Lenz: Precisely, not because it’s better, because it’s easier to use due to more people understanding the messages encoded in it. It’s the Network effect. There’s more utility because of the number of users who understand it, which undermines any argument for cursive.

Joe Ruiz: I think I’m with you, but hear this first: If Doug crashes his car on vacation in Maryland and Dr. Jennifer requests his chart and health history from Dr. Rodriguez in Southern California, isn’t it necessary for them to be able to understand what’s written from peer-to-peer?

Greg Lenz: Enter the market for translation.

Joe Ruiz: ?

Greg Lenz: All professions have mutually agreed to jargon, not regulation requiring the rationalization of its value set by a governing body, which is what the cursive debate is…protectionism.

Joe Ruiz: But if they’re not entering medical school equipped with a capacity to understand it, they have to be retaught their identification of language before they can even receive training in their chosen field.

Greg Lenz: Right. You’re where I am.

Joe Ruiz: Maybe, I just haven’t figured out yet if I like that. LOL

Greg Lenz: Which is why educators training the next crop have to “predict and anticipate” where the world is going, or they’re useless. I would argue most hate it, because it’s change, which makes people uncomfortable. Like Spanish road signs. “Make them learn ENGLISH! This is Murica! It’s funny if you think about it. “In Murica we speak English. If you don’t like it, leave!”

Joe Ruiz: But that leads us right back to the beginning. If I were a hired teacher, even if I had my finger on the pulse of where things were going, I couldn’t (at this point) adjust my curriculum accordingly. Teachers are powerless, times two. Even if they could get past themselves, they have to get past the lawmakers.

Greg Lenz: Right, but if they don’t even know why education is good, and why their role in teaching skill sets to individuals to prepare them for the future, there isn’t hope, period. It would just be the continuing on of an increasingly irrelevant system. Change happens at the individual level. Show me a school system of teachers that can defend their purpose and role to a group of parents, and I’ll show you one given the freedom to teach in whatever fashion they feel helps learn best.

Joe Ruiz: So solution time. What do you, Greg Lenz, do with that?

Greg Lenz: I should ask each teacher that I encounter what education is? I should ask them why it’s preferable to ignorance. I should ask them to define education and tell me what its goal is, and hopefully that spreads. Like a liberty virus…

Joe Ruiz: Gotcha. Well, seems like a noble pursuit. Good talk, Russ!

Greg Lenz: LOL

The Libertarian Case for Rand Paul

On April 18th, 2015, renowned libertarian author Walter Block published his support for Rand Paul in the 2016 presidential race. Senator Paul announced his bid for president on April 7th. The following is Walter Block’s case for Rand Paul, as released via social media here:

Walter Block’s Facebook Post


 The libertarian case for Rand Paul

By Walter E. Block

block_2 (1)

I am a libertarian. I have been one for a long time; since about 1963. I like to think that my libertarian credentials are about as good, among the living, as anyone else’s on the planet. I support Rand Paul for president of the U.S.

Yet, even I must admit, thanks to the sterling work of Robert Wenzel, Justin Raimondo and many others, Rand’s claim to libertarian support has been somewhat tarnished of late in my mind.

Previously, I gave Rand a mark of 70 on my own personal libertarian-o-meter. For comparison purposes, I gave myself a 100 (hey, I have to do so, since this metric measures conformity with my own views), Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard 97s (since I disagree with each of them on only a very few issues), and Gary Johnson, the likely standard bearer of the Libertarian Party in 2016, also a 70. But, thanks to Rand’s changes of policy, typically in a direction away from libertarian purity, I have demoted him to a 60. By the way, no other Republican candidate gets more than a 30, and Hillary weighs in at 5 out of 100. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and the other Fox-ers do not break the 30 mark either despite the fact that they sometimes, rarely, have something nice to say about free enterprise.

Why, then, do I support Rand Paul for president of the U.S.? I cannot go as far in the defense of this man as Andrew Napolitano (“Rand Paul Is Every Bit As Libertarian As His Father”), but, I insist, there is a strong libertarian case for Rand’s candidacy. Let me count the reasons.

First of all, it is a matter of comparison; the choice for presidency is a relative matter, not an absolute one. Yes, Rand is no pure libertarian, but he is the best candidate with a reasonable shot at winning. When I mention the other likely Republican candidates, any fair-minded libertarian must acknowledge he stands head and shoulders above them all: Bush, Carson, Christie, Cruz, Huckabee, Jindal, Kasich, Perry, Rubio, Santorum, Walker. Some of them have done a few good things, many bad ones; none of them is in the same league as Rand Paul. It is not even close.

If the master allows his slaves to vote between Overseer Goodie (who beats them once per week) and Overseer Baddie (who does so hourly), and they choose the former, they are making a reasonable choice. Goodie is not great but Baddie is horrid. Rand Paul is no Murray Rothbard, he is no Ron Paul. But the other Republicans, from a libertarian point of view are vile, disgusting, despicable. There is simply no comparison, even fully acknowledging all of Rand’s flaws from a libertarian point of view.

Yet, some libertarians are so disappointed in Rand that they have publicly stated they would vote for Hillary rather than him. This, surely, is pique, not rationality. This is the case for preferring Baddie to Goodie. This is psychological perturbation, not sensible libertarian strategy. This is barking madness.

Secondly, thanks to Rand, the dreaded “L” word is continuously mentioned. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the major electronic media are continually using this nomenclature. There is hardly a day that goes by that the word “libertarian” is not bruited about. How are we to promote liberty when those with gigantic megaphones refuse to even utter our philosophical name? I don’t credit Rand with all of this publicity. I have not conducted any statistical study of the matter. However, it is my strong impression that before his candidacy the word was hardly used. I expect that if and when Rand Paul drops out of the race, the major media will go back to red and blue (states), left and right, and once again ignore libertarianism, which does not fall into either of these categories.

Third, against thanks to Rand Paul, the name Ron Paul is once again in the news. Again, this is just my subjective impression, but I am a news hound, the major media would dearly love to shove Ron Paul down the memory hole. But with Rand on the scene, they simply cannot. This story, the relationship between father and son, is just too good to be completely ignored. If Rand does nothing more than focus attention on his dad, his candidacy must be counted as a net benefit to our movement.

Fourth, the complaints emanating from libertarian quarters that Rand is not a libertarian are highly problematic. He never once said, to the best of my knowledge, that he was a libertarian. Yes, he characterized himself as a libertarian Republican, as a Republican libertarian, as a conservative libertarian, as a libertarian conservative, as a libertarian constitutionalist and as a constitutionalist libertarian, and several other variations on this theme. He did not, ever, declare himself as a libertarian, plain and simple. So, it is rather harsh for libertarian critics to use this as a measure of the man and to declare him not only wanting, but as a fraud. If his name was Paul Rand, not Rand Paul, and his dad had nothing to do with politics, I warrant that libertarians would be drooling all over him. For, clearly, with the exception of Gary Johnson, who I maintain is cheek by jowl with Rand Paul on any reasonable libertarian-o-meter, there is no one else who even comes close. And, consider Ron Paul’s experience running as a Libertarian in 1988, and then again as a Republican in 2008 and 2012. This shows that the one, in terms of garnering publicity is the major league, while the other is the minor league. Don’t we libertarians want publicity?

Fifth, if libertarians are so venomous toward Rand, they can have little or no influence on his future behavior, his future stances. He has already shown himself as flexible on the issues. If he changed once, or twice, ok, ok, more than that, he can do so even more. John Maynard Keynes famously wrote, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Perhaps the facts of a gigantic, stupendous unemployment rate for black male teens will convince him to come out not only against an increase in the minimum wage, but in total opposition to this pernicious legislation. Perhaps the facts of wildly disproportionate incarceration rates for African-Americans will turn Rand in the direction of favoring elimination of drug laws, at the very least those for marijuana. Perhaps his experience with his fellow senator from Kentucky will teach him not to rely so heavily on mainstream Republicans. Perhaps the vicious way he is now being treated by the neo-cons will bring him back closer to the libertarian fold on foreign policy. In these and all other such ways libertarians might possibly play a role, but not on the basis of this totally dismissive stance they have so far adopted.

Sixth, the longer Rand stays in the race, the more publicity garnered by libertarians; see above. The more money donated to his cause, the longer he can endure in this venture. So, I urge my fellow libertarians to not only financially contribute to his candidacy but to offer him any and all support they can. Suppose Rand Paul stays in until the bitter end. Even if he does not win the nomination, he will thereby increase his chances of being picked for vice-president. This would be yet another gigantic boost to our cause of publicizing liberty. And, happy day, suppose he somehow wrests the nomination away from his Republican competitors. I’d give my eye teeth to witness a series of debates between him and Hillary Clinton, wouldn’t you?

I stand with Rand, and I urge my fellow libertarians, particularly those who have been most dismissive of him, to reconsider their position on this man. The acorn has fallen too far from the tree in this case in my opinion. But, he is by far the best we have. The perfect is the enemy of the good. It cannot be denied that Rand is pretty darned good from a libertarian point of view – compared with the realistic alternatives.


 

What do you think of Dr. Block’s argument?

For more on Walter Block please listen to We Are Libertarians’ interview with Walter Block, here:

We Are Libertarians Interviews Walter Block

You can also read Walter Block’s recommended reading list for libertarians, here:

Walter Block’s Reading List

Gutter Maintenance and Revolt

I spent my entire day at a home and garden show. Lemons, meet lemonade.

Imagine this. An elderly woman looks down at her husband. They were both the same age, but time had taken a greater toll on his body over the years than it had hers. At this point in his life simple tasks like pulling weeds and mowing the lawn were too difficult. He had successfully rehabilitated after suffering a mild stroke some years back. Meanwhile, she had been fortunate, experiencing zero significant health issues and maintaining mobility despite the nearing scythe and hourglass of Father Time.

One day, while the two discussed the changing seasons outside of their Michigan home, it was agreed that it was once again time to clean their gutters. Concerned for her husband’s health but still confident in her body’s abilities, the elderly woman volunteered to take on the additional chore. She got dressed, hauled the wooden ladder from the garage, climbed to the top, and began cleaning the leaf debris which had accumulated.

And then…tragedy.

In the moments that followed, the elderly woman, healthy by all other standards, would lose her balance and fall from the ladder, breaking her neck as she hit the ground, and dying almost instantly.

Sure, they could have paid someone to do the work. There are plenty of companies which specialize in gutter cleaning. However, between her husband’s medical bills and other financial obligations, the couple decided that it wasn’t worth an additional payout from their already budgeted retirement checks. When their neighbor told me this story I was in awe of the irony. How many times prior must they have emptied their gutters and then moved on with their day? They were homeowners, after all.

But today things could have been different. Today a solution exists that could have prevented the old lady’s accident. Who knows how many years she would have otherwise had in front of her?

Gutter guards have since become an option for homeowners. Technically, they’ve existed in some form or another for a very long time, but newer models have shown much greater worth and value. Here’s how they work:

A flat surface guard, made from quality materials such as high grade surgical steel that doesn’t allow organic debris to move through it, snaps on to a home’s existing gutters. Then, voilà! From that moment on when the rains pour, water may bleed into the gutters as intended, but everything else that falls will be stopped by the guard and washed away.

Once again technology and innovation have created a great convenience for society. Now, money typically paid out to gutter cleaners may be saved (or used elsewhere). Seniors like the woman mentioned above will no longer need to scale dangerous ladders for routine maintenance. No one will (if they choose to take advantage).

This solution does not require purchasing new gutters and the price varies depending on the size of your project.

Also, some companies’ products are better than others, so do your research!

But the bottom line is that the market has spoken yet again, and in the future, gutter guards could potentially save a life. They probably already have!

The tyranny of gutters and gutter maintenance has finally come to an end. Freedom has once again emerged victorious.

Also posted at Liberty.me.

Jury Duty: The Complete Experience

Two days of jury duty inspired me to publish my exploits in the following piece:

Growing up we’re told that serving on a jury is our civic duty. It’s explained to us that our ability to be heard by a jury of our peers when charged with a criminal offense is foundational to our freedom. Though a weighty responsibility we’re told that answering our call to the bench is noble, necessary, and just downright American. Now, all of that may be true, but the older and more involved your life becomes, the more jury duty begins to mean different things.

As an adult jury duty means:

  1. A wrench in your schedule: Being selected means being pulled away from your work and family obligations. Need to pick your kids up by six? Make other plans. Have an important meeting at the office? Reschedule.
  2. Minimal pay: If you’re a salary employee who can get paid regardless of whether or not you’re present for a few days jury duty isn’t so bad. In my county the court pays $15 plus gas mileage for selection, and $40 plus mileage, per day if selected. However, if you work for commission or get paid by the hour you’re likely to lose money while you’re away from work.
  3. An indefinite end: If selected the judicial process can take time. The longest criminal trial in American history took 3 years to complete. And, while that’s the exception and not the rule, it’s not unheard of for jury duty to take anywhere from one to two weeks.
  4. No cell phones: If you’re dependent on technology like so many people in the modern day the courthouse’s ‘No phones in the building’ policy can be painful. It doesn’t take long before you go from feeling completely connected to everyone around you, to feeling lost, uninformed, and unglued.

Selection Day

When I was summoned to court this week I reported to the designated jurors’ section of my local courthouse. After signing in I noticed that there were 16 chairs in the hallway and several more in the juror’s room. Those 16 in the hallway were the executioner’s block (figuratively speaking). If you were assigned to one of those seats it meant that you would be first in the juror’s box, which increased the likelihood that you would be chosen to stay for the trial.

Fortunately the number next to my name was 23. I thought that meant that I was in the clear. I sat down in the juror’s room, made myself a Styrofoam cup of government coffee (instant coffee), and awaited further instruction.

When the bailiff entered the juror’s section she realized that several of the people assigned to seats 1-16 had not shown up. As such she began to randomly call on numbers from my section. With the sound of each number someone stood quietly with their head down as though they were being sentenced. I couldn’t help but feel like tributes in the Hunger Games. Suddenly my number was called.

The Tributes

It’s amazing how such a rag tag group of individuals can be roped together in a setting like jury selection. Aside from me, a libertarian/anarchist radio employee and former US Congressional candidate turned podcaster (all of which were things I thought I would be disqualified for), the following cast of characters would also appear:

  1. Indiana Stalin: A retired professor of archaeology who now lives in Mexico where he is helping the government to excavate artifacts from beneath their highways. Thus far in his effort he has unearthed items ranging from 500 B.C. to 1500 A.D. I call him Indiana Stalin because:
    1. When I met him he was seated quietly reading a book that I thought was in Russian. It was actually in German. I asked if he was fluent and he explained that his archeological profession has required him to be fluent in German, French, and Spanish.
    2. When one of the attorneys asked him, “Sir, do you think you will be able to collaborate with your peers and work together to come to a unanimous decision?” He volunteered his political beliefs stating, “As a socialist, I look forward to it.” I sat in the corner at this time thinking, “Socialist? Nobody asked you.”
  2. Grey’s Anatomy 2.0: A 23 year old ER worker and former equestrian who was finishing up her final year of studies. She lived only with her dog and a somewhat disgruntled disposition. She mumbled judgmental comments about our peers under her breath several times, always finishing her sentences with “I guess I just hold people to a higher standard.” “Ironic,” I thought.
  3. Cop Killa’ Construction Worker: This guy had NO interest in participating from the get go. Not only did he show up for selection in the kind of tight, grease-stained, denim pants meant to exaggerate the outline of his penis while simultaneously making the statement that he was a hard worker (no pun intended), but he then went out of his way during questioning to paint his self as a liability to the process. At one point he told the attorneys, “I’ve had a few run-ins with local police and I think they’re full of shit. I mean, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t be fair during the trial but if it involves a cop I’m likely going to put my vote on the opposite side. I pretty much just think cops should die.” Note: This is not an exaggeration.
  4. PTSD Mom: From the moment she entered the courtroom she began to cry. This woman, a very large woman, fully equipped with enlarged bi-focal lenses, a time traveling perm from the 1980’s and an oversized North Carolina Tar Heels t-shirt, shook nervously in the juror’s box. When confronted by one of the attorneys her words could barely break through her sobs. She then went on to explain how a relative of hers had been on trial and sentenced to prison in that very room. Being there again she was overwhelmed with all of the emotions of that trial. The attorneys questioned her objectivity immediately.
  5. Forearm Belly Dancer: He was a young auto mechanic from Elkhart County and the only smoker in the group. This gruff red head had a unique tattoo of a Japanese belly dancer positioned across his right forearm. It must have served him as a coping skill because at several points when the questioning had gone on too long I could see him staring at it, flexing his forearm muscle, and watching her hips sway.
  6. Truck Driver: Every group has a comedian and the kind of person who people seem to gravitate towards. That was this guy. As a semi driver he was supposed to be on his way down to Tennessee to deliver a shipment for his company, but jury selection had held him back in the Hoosier State. He hoped to be dismissed before the trial so he could make his next run to South Carolina. I suspect that, like many of us, he just wanted to get away from the cold. While we were waiting to be let into the courtroom he told us that he hated making runs to New Jersey and New York because one time, as he was turning a corner to drop off a shipment in New Jersey, a small Fiat was illegally parked and was blocking his progression. A nearby police officer saw what was happening and stopped by to give him further instruction. “Well, you can either back up and miss your drop off, or you can push through him. It’d be his fault for parking like an idiot.” The cop said. Unwilling to miss his drop off he kept driving. As his trailer turned the corner he could hear it shredding the side of the car, and in his mirrors he could see a frantic man screaming at him as he ran out to his car. “Having to damage a nice little car like that made me hate working in that area.” The truck driver said.
  7. Ethan Hawke Doppelganger: If you were take Ethan Hawke in Boyhood and refuse to give him any lines you’d have juror number seven. He was almost identical to the actor in his physical appearance, but was almost completely silent up until deliberation.
  8. Real Housewife of South Bend: You’ve heard the term trophy wife. Well, she wasn’t one. But she tried. This blond, 40 year old Mrs. Robinson entered the juror’s room dressed in all Coach everything. Her apricot cardigan just subtly off set the tone of her fake spray tan. 20 minutes after she’d described her husband in great detail we were let into the courtroom where we discovered that the case included a local police officer. She was quick to point out her bias as several of the men in her family had been uniformed officers. After verbally sparring with Cop Killa’ Construction Worker over his comments for several minutes the judge and both attorneys exchanged whispers and decided to dismiss them both.
  9. Sleepless in St. Joseph: Every dwarf tribe has its Sleepy. This woman definitely fit the bill. When I met her she was swigging coffee, complaining after each sip that she hadn’t added enough creamer. But the caffeine wasn’t enough. Throughout the selection process she warmed herself with her arms tucked inside of her hoodie and dozed off as though she hadn’t slept in days.
  10. Maintenance Emergency Man: Irritated and not excited about his required court appearance this gentleman explained to the court that he was the maintenance director at a senior living facility. The state was expected in the next couple of days for an audit and he was in the process of making sure everything was ship shape for inspection. Being on a jury would prevent him from doing his job and he wasn’t happy about it. After airing his grievances to the attorneys he was promptly dismissed.
  11. Disabled Veteran Guy: He rode into the juror’s room on an electric wheelchair. He sat in it a majority of the time but used a cane when needed to get around otherwise. Originally from Minnesota, this once military police officer was barely mobile and extremely overweight. He was friendly though. He claimed to be a Democrat but rattled on and on about jury nullification in the event that the law was deemed unfair by the jury. I was familiar with the concept and was happy that I didn’t have to be the one to bring it up.
  12. Conspiracy Theory Grandma: Imagine an elderly lady wearing a now vintage pair of JNCO jeans and rambling on about conspiracy theories. If you were the defendant in a criminal court case would you want her determining your fate? Me neither. Yet, she was one of the chosen. Before selection I heard her discuss everything from crop circles near Stonehenge to a real life Stargate portal (yes, like the film franchise). It apparently exists in or near Iran. According to Conspiracy Theory Grandma, this is why the U.S. has so many conflicts in that region. We all want control of the portal and access to the other dimensions that it allows us to teleport to. For a time she ranted about stockpiled jet fuel beneath the Denver International Airport and also told us a story about how she spent the night in Roswell, New Mexico when she was 19. Use your imagination. And then she saw my Freemason ring. To clarify she asked me, “Is that a Mason ring?” “Yes it is.” I replied. After that she became very quiet. For a majority of the hearing thereafter she stayed tightlipped, rocking back and forth in her chair during deliberation, and rubbing a blue handkerchief across her forehead whenever someone addressed her as though being vocal was suddenly hard work. I felt bad for her. Apparently the Freemason conspiracies had gone to her head and I don’t like to perpetuate those kinds of things. But I don’t think anything I could have said would have changed her mind since she seemed so invested in those kinds of things.
  13. Indifferent Annie: I call her this because it’s fitting. Her name was Annie, but that’s all we learned about her. She didn’t speak. She didn’t care. She didn’t have an opinion. She was absolutely indifferent to everything.

Juror’s 14 through 16 were fairly normal and there isn’t much to note about them. So naturally they were dismissed and didn’t have to serve. The final jurors selected for the trial were myself, Grey’s Anatomy 2.0, Forearm Belly Dancer, the Ethan Hawke Doppelganger, Disabled Veteran Guy, Conspiracy Theory Grandma, and Indifferent Annie.

The Case

When the case finally opened we learned that the defendant was being charged with intimidation on two counts as she had allegedly threatened a police officer both while being escorted to his police vehicle, and also once inside the vehicle while being transported to the station.

The judge made it clear on multiple occasions that those of us serving were to maintain a presumption of innocence on the defendant’s behalf, and that only if the State proved certain essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt were we to make the decision, during deliberation, to convict the defendant, after all evidence had been examined. I was glad he made such a point to repeat this over and over. If I were being charged with any sort of criminal accusation I would want the same courtesy extended my way.

The Prosecuting Attorney (The State)

The attorney who represented the state was a 46 year old man-boy draped in an oversized Brooks Brothers suit with thick, long hair, better suited for a Pantene commercial than the courtroom. I say man-boy because he looked a trial lawyer who was fresh out of his bar exams but claimed to have been born in 1969. Nevertheless, it was easy to see why he had the job. He was a silver-tongued craftsman of words who made even the weakest of arguments seem plausible. His spin was second to none and his vigor was unquestionable.

His responsibility throughout the case was to prove:

  1. The defendant (who I won’t name)
  2. Did communicate a threat to the officer (who I also won’t name)
  3. The threat was communicated to the officer because of an act taken by him within the scope of his profession.
  4. The officer was a law enforcement officer.

To prove #1 all he had to do was show that the defendant was present and establish that she was the person in question. To prove #4 all he had to do was ask the law enforcement officer his rank, employer, and establish that he was the arresting officer on the night of the incident. Those were easy enough, so the focus of the prosecution was really to prove numbers 2 and 3.

According to our instructions, “If the State failed to prove any one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you must find the defendant not guilty of Intimidation, a Level 6 Felony.”

The Public Defender

Harold Ramis

Let’s be honest. It’s common knowledge that if you’re going to be an attorney, the money is not in public defense. Public defenders are the guys (and gals) that represent those who can’t afford representation. And this guy looked the part.

Actually, the best description I could give is that he looked like Harold Ramis (RIP). That crossed my mind several times throughout the trial. He looked AND sounded like him, which at times made it feel like I was watching a movie.

The Defendant

The defendant was an older, African-American woman who was probably in her early 50s. At 6”4 inches tall it was easy to speculate how she could physically be perceived as intimidating. However, she had a very kind demeanor about her which helped to offset any pre-conceived notions that our natural instincts may have wanted to lend.

The Crime Scene

The prosecutor opened evidence with pictures of the crime scene on the night in question. The incident happened on Christmas Eve around 10pm. He showed the front door of an apartment building with droplets of what appeared to be blood covering the porch. He then showed a picture of the entry way to the defendant’s apartment inside where droplets of blood also covered the floor. More of the apartment saw blood on the walls, as well as her bedroom window. Her home lacked had in the way of decorating, with items thrown all over the floor in a very disheveled manner, and one poster on the wall which maintained a scripture from the Holy Bible.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” – Mark, 8:36

There was also a picture of the woman’s hand and a half inch cut across her pinky finger, which seemed to be the source of the bleeding.

The Evidence

Besides the photographs, the State opened evidence with a witness. He was the arresting officer and the defendant’s accuser, a Caucasian, male in his early 30s. After swearing in he began to describe the events of that night. But he was somewhat vague. All he (and the prosecutor) would say is that he approached the woman’s apartment, saw blood leading in from the doorstep to the entry way, and went in to check the scene.

Afterwards he placed her in handcuffs and began to walk her out to his car. In a drunken stupor, he alleged that she spun around; hands cuffed behind her back and shouted, “I will fuck you up.” She also allegedly stated, “I know people you don’t know.” At that point the officer informed her that he would be filing a charge of Intimidation for her threat. He then stated that, while they were driving to the police station she made another threat while seated in the back of his patrol car.

The Tape

We were then shown a tape from the dashboard camera in the officer’s vehicle to support his claim of a second threat. This was a mess. White noise like the purr of his engine seemed to be prevalent over anything else that we could hear. Each time he turned the sound faded in and out. Also, when an announcement would come over the police radio everything else seemed to fade. The defendant’s voice could be heard mumbling something about missing Christmas and wanting to open presents with her family. The threat that was alleged was almost entirely inaudible. Each of us on the jury seemed to hear different things leaving the tape almost inadmissible as helpful evidence. If anything it proved to me that the dash cams in police cruisers suck, and whether they’re a tool used to protect the officer, or the civilian, or both, they did not help any party in this case.

Her Testimony

After the tape the prosecution rested their case and the defense introduced the defendant to the stand. This was an interesting move because the burden of proof rested entirely on the State. By that I mean, because the defendant had the presumption of innocence they weren’t responsible for presenting any evidence or witnesses. They could have just sat back and told the prosecution, “If we’re guilty, then prove it.”

The defendant had already plead “not guilty,” after all.

But I’m happy they chose to let her speak because she painted a more full picture of what had happened during the course of her day. According to her testimony, the events unfolded as such:

  1. Her boyfriend showed up with a carton of cigarettes and a bottle of vodka presenting it as an early Christmas gift. The two spent the next few hours drinking and smoking.
  2. Her ex-boyfriend from an on again, off again relationship with a history of abuse showed up and saw that she had another man in the apartment. He began to bang on the windows and walls outside, and attempted to break down the door.
  3. The new boyfriend called the cops while he held the door closed. The police showed up and the ex-boyfriend left before they could question him.
  4. Later she left to get more cigarettes and her new boyfriend remained in her apartment. The ex-boyfriend came back and called 911 citing an emergency at her apartment (trolling). Her new boyfriend, ignorant to the 2nd police call decided to leave. She returned from the store to find an ambulance, firemen, and police cars. She assumed it was for her upstairs neighbor who was a cancer patient who often had an ambulance show up to her apartment. When she discovered that the police were there for her she dismissed them claiming that she did not know why they were called.
  5. She left again only to return to find her apartment had been torn apart. Her window had been pushed out. Her TV was shattered. Items had been thrown all over her apartment (as shown in the pictures). She assumed her ex-boyfriend had come back while she was away, pulled out her window, climbed in, trashed her apartment, and left.
  6. When she attempted to put her window back in she cut her pinky and began to bleed all over the apartment. Still drunk she was having a hard time getting around the house. She used the walls to guide herself to the kitchen where she called the cops to file a police report.
  7. When she saw the police arrive she walked out of the apartment, still dripping blood all over, and let the officers in.
  8. At that time the officer (and her accuser) walked in asking, “Where’s the knife?” When she asked him what he was talking about he allegedly shouted at her, “If you don’t tell me where the knife is at I’m taking you in for intimidation.”
  9. She asked to get toilet paper for her finger from the bathroom and he would not allow her. He made her grab a rag that was seated on the table in front of her (which seemed fair). He then walked back to her bedroom with another officer and talked on the phone to his superior.
  10. According to the defendant, it was after the call that he walked back into the living room and informed her that she was under arrest. He handcuffed her, read her Miranda rights, and escorted her out to the police car.
  11. She stated that at no point did she threaten the officer, but said she was frustrated that she had called him for help and that he was suddenly arresting her on Christmas Eve.

Apparently her ex-boyfriend was at the hospital with the accusing officer’s superior claiming that he had been in fight with the defendant and that she cut him with a knife. That’s why the superior officer supposedly asked him to make the arrest. However, because no evidence suggested that the altercation actually took place they could only charge her with intimidation.

She suspected that the cut was actually from ripping up her apartment and breaking her TV.

The Closing

So what did we have for evidence? We had the officer’s testimony saying, “she threatened me.” We had the defendant’s testimony stating, “At no point did I threaten him.” We had photographs of a crime scene which couldn’t prove the threat that was allegedly communicated, and we had a tape from the officer’s dash cam which indecipherable.

The prosecutor then stated in confidence that he had proven the threat and asked us to make the conviction. He said, “You earlier swore in stating that if I could prove these essential elements you would make the conviction. I’m now asking you to do just that.”

The defense said a few words and thanked us for our time.

Deliberation

It was easy to come up with a unanimous decision. The only way that the prosecution could have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she had indeed made the threat would have been:

  1. She pleaded guilty.
  2. There were other witnesses to the threat.
  3. They actually got the threat on tape.

She may have made the threat, and in all actuality she probably did. But without any of those things to prove it all we had were two testimonies, both under oath, both giving different accounts of the incident. And so we declared, “Not guilty.”

Personal Speculation in the Aftermath

Was she the most clean cut, wholesome, seemingly trustworthy person we’d ever encountered? Absolutely not. However, I speculate that the cops probably got tired of being called out to her house on Christmas Eve, and since the ex-boyfriend was making a claim of assault, even though it lacked proof, they used it as an excuse to bring her in. At the very least it meant they wouldn’t spend the rest of their holiday going back and forth. And they could justify the arrest on paper citing probable cause.

And when I say she probably made the threat, what I’m saying is this:

If you called the cops for help (on Christmas Eve of all days), when you had been drinking in your own home (which isn’t against the law), and they proceeded to arrest you (compromising your family plans the next morning), wouldn’t you say something?

I’m not saying a threat is ever justifiable, but under those circumstances I think any typical drunk, wrongfully accused, and angry person would probably do something similar.

Not only that, but the officer admittedly had two firearms, a Taser, and pocket knife, and other officers within shouting distance. Meanwhile, she had her hands cuffed behind her back and was so drunk that she could barely walk. How intimidated could he have really been?

My Jury Duty Experience: Part 3 of 3

The Case

When the case finally opened we learned that the defendant was being charged with intimidation on two counts as she had allegedly threatened a police officer both while being escorted to his police vehicle, and also once inside the vehicle while being transported to the station.

The judge made it clear on multiple occasions that those of us serving were to maintain a presumption of innocence on the defendant’s behalf, and that only if the State proved certain essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt were we to make the decision, during deliberation, to convict the defendant, after all evidence had been examined. I was glad he made such a point to repeat this over and over. If I were being charged with any sort of criminal accusation I would want the same courtesy extended my way.

The Prosecuting Attorney (The State)

The attorney who represented the state was a 46 year old man-boy draped in an oversized Brooks Brothers suit with thick, long hair, better suited for a Pantene commercial than the courtroom. I say man-boy because he looked a trial lawyer who was fresh out of his bar exams but claimed to have been born in 1969. Nevertheless, it was easy to see why he had the job. He was a silver-tongued craftsman of words who made even the weakest of arguments seem plausible. His spin was second to none and his vigor was unquestionable.

His responsibility throughout the case was to prove:

  1. The defendant (who I won’t name)
  2. Did communicate a threat to the officer (who I also won’t name)
  3. The threat was communicated to the officer because of an act taken by him within the scope of his profession.
  4. The officer was a law enforcement officer.

To prove #1 all he had to do was show that the defendant was present and establish that she was the person in question. To prove #4 all he had to do was ask the law enforcement officer his rank, employer, and establish that he was the arresting officer on the night of the incident. Those were easy enough, so the focus of the prosecution was really to prove numbers 2 and 3.

According to our instructions, “If the State failed to prove any one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you must find the defendant not guilty of Intimidation, a Level 6 Felony.”

The Public Defender

Harold Ramis

Let’s be honest. It’s common knowledge that if you’re going to be an attorney, the money is not in public defense. Public defenders are the guys (and gals) that represent those who can’t afford representation. And this guy looked the part.

Actually, the best description I could give is that he looked like Harold Ramis (RIP). That crossed my mind several times throughout the trial. He looked AND sounded like him, which at times made it feel like I was watching a movie.

The Defendant

The defendant was an older, African-American woman who was probably in her early 50s. At 6”4 inches tall it was easy to speculate how she could physically be perceived as intimidating. However, she had a very kind demeanor about her which helped to offset any pre-conceived notions that our natural instincts may have wanted to lend.

The Crime Scene

The prosecutor opened evidence with pictures of the crime scene on the night in question. The incident happened on Christmas Eve around 10pm. He showed the front door of an apartment building with droplets of what appeared to be blood covering the porch. He then showed a picture of the entry way to the defendant’s apartment inside where droplets of blood also covered the floor. More of the apartment saw blood on the walls, as well as her bedroom window. Her home lacked had in the way of decorating, with items thrown all over the floor in a very disheveled manner, and one poster on the wall which maintained a scripture from the Holy Bible.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” – Mark, 8:36

There was also a picture of the woman’s hand and a half inch cut across her pinky finger, which seemed to be the source of the bleeding.

The Evidence

Besides the photographs, the State opened evidence with a witness. He was the arresting officer and the defendant’s accuser, a Caucasian, male in his early 30s. After swearing in he began to describe the events of that night. But he was somewhat vague. All he (and the prosecutor) would say is that he approached the woman’s apartment, saw blood leading in from the doorstep to the entry way, and went in to check the scene.

Afterwards he placed her in handcuffs and began to walk her out to his car. In a drunken stupor, he alleged that she spun around; hands cuffed behind her back and shouted, “I will fuck you up.” She also allegedly stated, “I know people you don’t know.” At that point the officer informed her that he would be filing a charge of Intimidation for her threat. He then stated that, while they were driving to the police station she made another threat while seated in the back of his patrol car.

The Tape

We were then shown a tape from the dashboard camera in the officer’s vehicle to support his claim of a second threat. This was a mess. White noise like the purr of his engine seemed to be prevalent over anything else that we could hear. Each time he turned the sound faded in and out. Also, when an announcement would come over the police radio everything else seemed to fade. The defendant’s voice could be heard mumbling something about missing Christmas and wanting to open presents with her family. The threat that was alleged was almost entirely inaudible. Each of us on the jury seemed to hear different things leaving the tape almost inadmissible as helpful evidence. If anything it proved to me that the dash cams in police cruisers suck, and whether they’re a tool used to protect the officer, or the civilian, or both, they did not help any party in this case.

Her Testimony

After the tape the prosecution rested their case and the defense introduced the defendant to the stand. This was an interesting move because the burden of proof rested entirely on the State. By that I mean, because the defendant had the presumption of innocence they weren’t responsible for presenting any evidence or witnesses. They could have just sat back and told the prosecution, “If we’re guilty, then prove it.”

The defendant had already plead “not guilty,” after all.

But I’m happy they chose to let her speak because she painted a more full picture of what had happened during the course of her day. According to her testimony, the events unfolded as such:

  1. Her boyfriend showed up with a carton of cigarettes and a bottle of vodka presenting it as an early Christmas gift. The two spent the next few hours drinking and smoking.
  2. Her ex-boyfriend from an on again, off again relationship with a history of abuse showed up and saw that she had another man in the apartment. He began to bang on the windows and walls outside, and attempted to break down the door.
  3. The new boyfriend called the cops while he held the door closed. The police showed up and the ex-boyfriend left before they could question him.
  4. Later she left to get more cigarettes and her new boyfriend remained in her apartment. The ex-boyfriend came back and called 911 citing an emergency at her apartment (trolling). Her new boyfriend, ignorant to the 2nd police call decided to leave. She returned from the store to find an ambulance, firemen, and police cars. She assumed it was for her upstairs neighbor who was a cancer patient who often had an ambulance show up to her apartment. When she discovered that the police were there for her she dismissed them claiming that she did not know why they were called.
  5. She left again only to return to find her apartment had been torn apart. Her window had been pushed out. Her TV was shattered. Items had been thrown all over her apartment (as shown in the pictures). She assumed her ex-boyfriend had come back while she was away, pulled out her window, climbed in, trashed her apartment, and left.
  6. When she attempted to put her window back in she cut her pinky and began to bleed all over the apartment. Still drunk she was having a hard time getting around the house. She used the walls to guide herself to the kitchen where she called the cops to file a police report.
  7. When she saw the police arrive she walked out of the apartment, still dripping blood all over, and let the officers in.
  8. At that time the officer (and her accuser) walked in asking, “Where’s the knife?” When she asked him what he was talking about he allegedly shouted at her, “If you don’t tell me where the knife is at I’m taking you in for intimidation.”
  9. She asked to get toilet paper for her finger from the bathroom and he would not allow her. He made her grab a rag that was seated on the table in front of her (which seemed fair). He then walked back to her bedroom with another officer and talked on the phone to his superior.
  10. According to the defendant, it was after the call that he walked back into the living room and informed her that she was under arrest. He handcuffed her, read her Miranda rights, and escorted her out to the police car.
  11. She stated that at no point did she threaten the officer, but said she was frustrated that she had called him for help and that he was suddenly arresting her on Christmas Eve.

Apparently her ex-boyfriend was at the hospital with the accusing officer’s superior claiming that he had been in fight with the defendant and that she cut him with a knife. That’s why the superior officer supposedly asked him to make the arrest. However, because no evidence suggested that the altercation actually took place they could only charge her with intimidation.

She suspected that the cut was actually from ripping up her apartment and breaking her TV.

The Closing

So what did we have for evidence? We had the officer’s testimony saying, “she threatened me.” We had the defendant’s testimony stating, “At no point did I threaten him.” We had photographs of a crime scene which couldn’t prove the threat that was allegedly communicated, and we had a tape from the officer’s dash cam which indecipherable.

The prosecutor then stated in confidence that he had proven the threat and asked us to make the conviction. He said, “You earlier swore in stating that if I could prove these essential elements you would make the conviction. I’m now asking you to do just that.”

The defense said a few words and thanked us for our time.

Deliberation

It was easy to come up with a unanimous decision. The only way that the prosecution could have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she had indeed made the threat would have been:

  1. She pleaded guilty.
  2. There were other witnesses to the threat.
  3. They actually got the threat on tape.

She may have made the threat, and in all actuality she probably did. But without any of those things to prove it all we had were two testimonies, both under oath, both giving different accounts of the incident. And so we declared, “Not guilty.”

Personal Speculation in the Aftermath

Was she the most clean cut, wholesome, seemingly trustworthy person we’d ever encountered? Absolutely not. However, I speculate that the cops probably got tired of being called out to her house on Christmas Eve, and since the ex-boyfriend was making a claim of assault, even though it lacked proof, they used it as an excuse to bring her in. At the very least it meant they wouldn’t spend the rest of their holiday going back and forth. And they could justify the arrest on paper citing probable cause.

And when I say she probably made the threat, what I’m saying is this:

If you called the cops for help (on Christmas Eve of all days), when you had been drinking in your own home (which isn’t against the law), and they proceeded to arrest you (compromising your family plans the next morning), wouldn’t you say something?

I’m not saying a threat is ever justifiable, but under those circumstances I think any typical drunk, wrongfully accused, and angry person would probably do something similar.

Not only that, but the officer admittedly had two firearms, a Taser, and pocket knife, and other officers within shouting distance. Meanwhile, she had her hands cuffed behind her back and was so drunk that she could barely walk. How intimidated could he have really been?

My Jury Duty Experience: Part 2 of 3

The Tributes

It’s amazing how such a rag tag group of individuals can be roped together in a setting like jury selection. Aside from me, a libertarian/anarchist radio employee and former US Congressional candidate turned podcaster (all of which were things I thought I would be disqualified for), the following cast of characters would also appear:

  1. Indiana Stalin: A retired professor of archaeology who now lives in Mexico where he is helping the government to excavate artifacts from beneath their highways. Thus far in his effort he has unearthed items ranging from 500 B.C. to 1500 A.D. I call him Indiana Stalin because:
    1. When I met him he was seated quietly reading a book that I thought was in Russian. It was actually in German. I asked if he was fluent and he explained that his archeological profession has required him to be fluent in German, French, and Spanish.
    2. When one of the attorneys asked him, “Sir, do you think you will be able to collaborate with your peers and work together to come to a unanimous decision?” He volunteered his political beliefs stating, “As a socialist, I look forward to it.” I sat in the corner at this time thinking, “Socialist? Nobody asked you.”
  2. Grey’s Anatomy 2.0: A 23 year old ER worker and former equestrian who was finishing up her final year of studies. She lived only with her dog and a somewhat disgruntled disposition. She mumbled judgmental comments about our peers under her breath several times, always finishing her sentences with “I guess I just hold people to a higher standard.” “Ironic,” I thought.
  3. Cop Killa’ Construction Worker: This guy had NO interest in participating from the get go. Not only did he show up for selection in the kind of tight, grease-stained, denim pants meant to exaggerate the outline of his penis while simultaneously making the statement that he was a hard worker (no pun intended), but he then went out of his way during questioning to paint his self as a liability to the process. At one point he told the attorneys, “I’ve had a few run-ins with local police and I think they’re full of shit. I mean, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t be fair during the trial but if it involves a cop I’m likely going to put my vote on the opposite side. I pretty much just think cops should die.” Note: This is not an exaggeration.
  4. PTSD Mom: From the moment she entered the courtroom she began to cry. This woman, a very large woman, fully equipped with enlarged bi-focal lenses, a time traveling perm from the 1980’s and an oversized North Carolina Tar Heels t-shirt, shook nervously in the juror’s box. When confronted by one of the attorneys her words could barely break through her sobs. She then went on to explain how a relative of hers had been on trial and sentenced to prison in that very room. Being there again she was overwhelmed with all of the emotions of that trial. The attorneys questioned her objectivity immediately.
  5. Forearm Belly Dancer: He was a young auto mechanic from Elkhart County and the only smoker in the group. This gruff red head had a unique tattoo of a Japanese belly dancer positioned across his right forearm. It must have served him as a coping skill because at several points when the questioning had gone on too long I could see him staring at it, flexing his forearm muscle, and watching her hips sway.
  6. Truck Driver: Every group has a comedian and the kind of person who people seem to gravitate towards. That was this guy. As a semi driver he was supposed to be on his way down to Tennessee to deliver a shipment for his company, but jury selection had held him back in the Hoosier State. He hoped to be dismissed before the trial so he could make his next run to South Carolina. I suspect that, like many of us, he just wanted to get away from the cold. While we were waiting to be let into the courtroom he told us that he hated making runs to New Jersey and New York because one time, as he was turning a corner to drop off a shipment in New Jersey, a small Fiat was illegally parked and was blocking his progression. A nearby police officer saw what was happening and stopped by to give him further instruction. “Well, you can either back up and miss your drop off, or you can push through him. It’d be his fault for parking like an idiot.” The cop said. Unwilling to miss his drop off he kept driving. As his trailer turned the corner he could hear it shredding the side of the car, and in his mirrors he could see a frantic man screaming at him as he ran out to his car. “Having to damage a nice little car like that made me hate working in that area.” The truck driver said.
  7. Ethan Hawke Doppelganger: If you were take Ethan Hawke in Boyhood and refuse to give him any lines you’d have juror number seven. He was almost identical to the actor in his physical appearance, but was almost completely silent up until deliberation.
  8. Real Housewife of South Bend: You’ve heard the term trophy wife. Well, she wasn’t one. But she tried. This blond, 40 year old Mrs. Robinson entered the juror’s room dressed in all Coach everything. Her apricot cardigan just subtly off set the tone of her fake spray tan. 20 minutes after she’d described her husband in great detail we were let into the courtroom where we discovered that the case included a local police officer. She was quick to point out her bias as several of the men in her family had been uniformed officers. After verbally sparring with Cop Killa’ Construction Worker over his comments for several minutes the judge and both attorneys exchanged whispers and decided to dismiss them both.
  9. Sleepless in St. Joseph: Every dwarf tribe has its Sleepy. This woman definitely fit the bill. When I met her she was swigging coffee, complaining after each sip that she hadn’t added enough creamer. But the caffeine wasn’t enough. Throughout the selection process she warmed herself with her arms tucked inside of her hoodie and dozed off as though she hadn’t slept in days.
  10. Maintenance Emergency Man: Irritated and not excited about his required court appearance this gentleman explained to the court that he was the maintenance director at a senior living facility. The state was expected in the next couple of days for an audit and he was in the process of making sure everything was ship shape for inspection. Being on a jury would prevent him from doing his job and he wasn’t happy about it. After airing his grievances to the attorneys he was promptly dismissed.
  11. Disabled Veteran Guy: He rode into the juror’s room on an electric wheelchair. He sat in it a majority of the time but used a cane when needed to get around otherwise. Originally from Minnesota, this once military police officer was barely mobile and extremely overweight. He was friendly though. He claimed to be a Democrat but rattled on and on about jury nullification in the event that the law was deemed unfair by the jury. I was familiar with the concept and was happy that I didn’t have to be the one to bring it up.
  12. Conspiracy Theory Grandma: Imagine an elderly lady wearing a now vintage pair of JNCO jeans and rambling on about conspiracy theories. If you were the defendant in a criminal court case would you want her determining your fate? Me neither. Yet, she was one of the chosen. Before selection I heard her discuss everything from crop circles near Stonehenge to a real life Stargate portal (yes, like the film franchise). It apparently exists in or near Iran. According to Conspiracy Theory Grandma, this is why the U.S. has so many conflicts in that region. We all want control of the portal and access to the other dimensions that it allows us to teleport to. For a time she ranted about stockpiled jet fuel beneath the Denver International Airport and also told us a story about how she spent the night in Roswell, New Mexico when she was 19. Use your imagination. And then she saw my Freemason ring. To clarify she asked me, “Is that a Mason ring?” “Yes it is.” I replied. After that she became very quiet. For a majority of the hearing thereafter she stayed tightlipped, rocking back and forth in her chair during deliberation, and rubbing a blue handkerchief across her forehead whenever someone addressed her as though being vocal was suddenly hard work. I felt bad for her. Apparently the Freemason conspiracies had gone to her head and I don’t like to perpetuate those kinds of things. But I don’t think anything I could have said would have changed her mind since she seemed so invested in those kinds of things.
  13. Indifferent Annie: I call her this because it’s fitting. Her name was Annie, but that’s all we learned about her. She didn’t speak. She didn’t care. She didn’t have an opinion. She was absolutely indifferent to everything.

Juror’s 14 through 16 were fairly normal and there isn’t much to note about them. So naturally they were dismissed and didn’t have to serve. The final jurors selected for the trial were myself, Grey’s Anatomy 2.0, Forearm Belly Dancer, the Ethan Hawke Doppelganger, Disabled Veteran Guy, Conspiracy Theory Grandma, and Indifferent Annie.

To Be Continued…

My Jury Duty Experience: Part 1 of 3

Two days of jury duty inspired me to publish my exploits in the following piece:

Growing up we’re told that serving on a jury is our civic duty. It’s explained to us that our ability to be heard by a jury of our peers when charged with a criminal offense is foundational to our freedom. Though a weighty responsibility we’re told that answering our call to the bench is noble, necessary, and just downright American. Now, all of that may be true, but the older and more involved your life becomes, the more jury duty begins to mean different things.

As an adult jury duty means:

  1. A wrench in your schedule: Being selected means being pulled away from your work and family obligations. Need to pick your kids up by six? Make other plans. Have an important meeting at the office? Reschedule.
  2. Minimal pay: If you’re a salary employee who can get paid regardless of whether or not you’re present for a few days jury duty isn’t so bad. In my county the court pays $15 plus gas mileage for selection, and $40 plus mileage, per day if selected. However, if you work for commission or get paid by the hour you’re likely to lose money while you’re away from work.
  3. An indefinite end: If selected the judicial process can take time. The longest criminal trial in American history took 3 years to complete. And, while that’s the exception and not the rule, it’s not unheard of for jury duty to take anywhere from one to two weeks.
  4. No cell phones: If you’re dependent on technology like so many people in the modern day the courthouse’s ‘No phones in the building’ policy can be painful. It doesn’t take long before you go from feeling completely connected to everyone around you, to feeling lost, uninformed, and unglued.

Selection Day

When I was summoned to court this week I reported to the designated jurors’ section of my local courthouse. After signing in I noticed that there were 16 chairs in the hallway and several more in the juror’s room. Those 16 in the hallway were the executioner’s block (figuratively speaking). If you were assigned to one of those seats it meant that you would be first in the juror’s box, which increased the likelihood that you would be chosen to stay for the trial.

Fortunately the number next to my name was 23. I thought that meant that I was in the clear. I sat down in the juror’s room, made myself a Styrofoam cup of government coffee (instant coffee), and awaited further instruction.

When the bailiff entered the juror’s section she realized that several of the people assigned to seats 1-16 had not shown up. As such she began to randomly call on numbers from my section. With the sound of each number someone stood quietly with their head down as though they were being sentenced. I couldn’t help but feel like tributes in the Hunger Games. Suddenly my number was called.

To Be Continued…

Thank You Women of Liberty

If you’ve been on social media today you’ve probably noticed that the following topics have been trending:

#InternationalWomensDay

#IWD2015

#HappyWomensDay

As such, We Are Libertarians would like to take a moment to say “Thank you” to some of our favorite female voices in the liberty movement. Whether you’re new to the cause or have been a constant resource over the years, we appreciate your hard work, dedication, contributions, and efforts to inform and educate people about the message of liberty.

Here is a list of links. Feel free to add your favorite lady libertarians in the comments section.


 

Julie Borowski

Julie Borowski – YouTube Personality

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JulieBorowski/info?tab=page_info

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Libertarian Girl

Libertarian Girl – Social Media Personality and Liberty.Me Affiliate

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LibertyNerd – Social Media Personality

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Sarah Skwire

Sarah Skwire – Writer, Fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc.

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Whitney Davis

Whitney Davis – Activist

Twitter: @wmdavis1109


Sharon Harris

Sharon Harris – President/CEO of the Advocates for Self-Government

Website: www.theadvocates.org

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OG

Lauren Rumpler aka Objectivist Girl

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Pepper

Pepper Hulette Snyder – Host of the Liberty Talks Radio Program

Twitter: @wineandliberty

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Mary Ruwart

Dr. Mary Ruwart – Author, Healing Our World

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3 Ways Professional Wrestling is like Politics

Professional Wrestling

Wrestlers

Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Razor Ramon aka Scott Hall

Have you ever seen a professional wrestler? I’m not talking about the independents that run the ropes at their local Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs because they’re passionate about being entertainers. I’m talking about sold out stadiums, bright lights, grand entrances and pyrotechnics. I’m talking about 24-inch pythons, larger than life characters, and the timeless tale of good versus evil.

Whether you’re a fan or not, trust me it’s a sight to behold. Some of my favorites over the years have included Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig), and Razor Ramon (Scott Hall). As a young boy they were the titans of a counterculture, suspending the disbelief of jaded fans who knowingly watched something scripted and forcing them out of their better judgment, causing them to question what’s real.

But as the lights fade on their careers, these men (once monsters) weaken. Mr. Perfect has passed away (Rest in Peace), while Jake Roberts and Scott Hall have both tirelessly wrestled near fatal substance abuse issues to the edge of mortality.

As The Lights Fade

AUTOjakesnake

It’s Sad When the Mighty Fall

Eventually they begin to accept independent bookings in front of smaller crowds. The pyrotechnics are gone, the stadiums are exchanged for middle school gymnasiums, and the once chiseled specimens approach the ring as pale, overweight, and graying shells of their former selves.

As a fan it’s bittersweet. On the one hand it’s great to see the superstars of old up close and personal. It’s nostalgic and it’s wistful. On the other hand it’s depressing to see how far they’ve fallen. It’s a question of, would you rather remember them as they were, or get a chance to meet them in person, ultimately confronted by what they’ve become?

So how does professional wrestling relate to professional politics? Here are three ways:

One: Promoters

McMahon

Vincent Kennedy McMahon

At the helm of every great wrestling show is a great wrestling promoter. The most well-known in history has been World Wrestling Entertainment’s Vince McMahon. McMahon took his father’s already prominent wrestling territory and risked bankruptcy to bring his vision for WrestleMania to the world. And it paid off…big time. To this day his instincts drive the now publicly traded sports entertainment company, and while he hasn’t been flawless in his decision making over the years, McMahon’s fortune speaks for itself.

In politics it’s similar. Have you ever encountered a liberal who didn’t come equipped with an anti-Koch Brothers / anti-Fox News stock predisposition? What about a conservative who didn’t rail against the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) or Amnesty International? While some grassroots movements still exist (equivalent to the wrestling territories of old) these and a handful of other promoters provide the engine that propels the American political system for better or worse.

Two: It’s a Work

fake it

If you’re a politician, this is your mantra.

There was a time in professional wrestling when the industry operated off of a concept called kayfabe. You could compare kayfabe to method acting, or always staying in character. Bad guys, or as they were referred to in the industry, heels, would never be caught traveling with wrestlers who portrayed the good guy, or baby face, even though in many cases they got along just fine. So much effort went into preserving a fighter’s reputation as either the baddest man on the planet, or a pure and noble superhero of a man, that until the rise of the internet kayfabe remained code among those in the business.

Rowdy Roddy Piper

Piper

“I came here tonight to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And I’m all out of bubblegum.”

Wrestling icon Rowdy Roddy Piper once told a story about how much he was hated in Mexico at a time when audiences still believed that what they were watching was real. At that time he had a tremendous amount of heat with Mexican wrestling fans. He portrayed his character so well that they all wanted to see him die. With kayfabe, a bad guy character wasn’t doing his job if he wasn’t receiving legitimate threats from the viewers.

As he stepped in the ring and grabbed the microphone he politely asked that the audience rise for the playing of the Mexican National Anthem. The audience was confused. This was a change of pace for Piper, and paying tribute to the country’s national anthem was more like something a baby face wrestler, who was trying to win over the audience, would do. Regardless they stood in respect and the arena became silent. But as Piper lifted his microphone to perform the Mexican National Anthem, he instead swerved into a verse of La Cucaracha. Fans were livid. This move would cement his place as one of the most reviled bad guys of all time.

In Politics

Teleprompter

“How many times do I have to tell you guys? For the last time. He will read anything you put on the teleprompter!”

Politics is like that too. It’s not that a man (or woman) decides to run for office and simply files the paperwork to do so, giving all of his (or her) personal opinions on the issues, and speaking from his (or her) heart during interviews and debates.

Instead, devoted teams of debate coaches, publicists, fundraisers, campaign consultants, speech writers, and sample groups coalesce to train and coach a candidate on how he (or she) can best be presented to the public. These teams understand one of the most disappointing and yet, entirely true rules of communication. That is that candidates aren’t elected because of what they believe. Candidates are elected because of what people perceive.

In 2012 Newt Gingrich was chastised on the Presidential campaign trail for pandering to various audiences. He was accused of tailoring his speeches for the audience that he was speaking to, telling them what they wanted to hear rather than what he believed, in order to gain favor. In reality, all politicians do it. Ron Paul may have been the exception, but then again it’s no coincidence that he didn’t get elected either.

In professional wrestling a scripted outcome or set of circumstances designed to draw a specific reaction from an audience is called a “work.” Politics is a work too. It’s a fantastic work that the majority of Americans continue to buy into.

Three: It Takes a Toll

Scripted or not, wrestling comes with its fair share of injuries. These days wrestling promotions are more cautious. As society has learned more about concussions, promoters have hired traveling physicians as a means of protecting their investments. But there was a time as recent as the late 1990’s and early 2000’s when wrestlers masked their injuries with pain killers and other drugs in an attempt to persevere, continue making money, and continue paying their dues in an extremely competitive environment.

Now, aside from Rob Ford, it’s not that politicians get hooked on prescription pain killers and other substances. But you can definitely tell the difference between the vibrant energy of a campaigning politician, and an elected official who’s been dealing with the rigors of his profession. Just look at President Barack Obama in 2007 versus President Obama in 2015.

Obama Age

“I’m not just the hair club president. I’m also a member.”

Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson is another figure to note. When Gary Johnson ran as a Republican in the 2012 Republican primary process he seemed like one of the more youthful and animated candidates vying for a position in the debates. Yet, because politics is a work it was decided that he would not be included in more than two national debates and he soon left the Republican Party for a place of prominence in the Libertarian Party.

Johnson traveled as hard as he could and met as many people as possible, but at the end of the day walked away from the 2012 race with a mere 1%. That 1% wasn’t an awful showing for the Libertarian Party (historically speaking). But, as a man who holds himself to a high standard of success Gov. Johnson undoubtedly had higher hopes as for the election’s outcome.

CPAC 2015
The Huffington Post recently ran a piece titled “Gary Johnson At CPAC: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.” In it Gary Johnson was portrayed as a likable figure in the libertarian movement who, despite fighting mainstream practices for the past three years, still felt discouraged about how much traction he has been able to gain for the cause.

His battles have included lawsuits over equal time in debates, something that he was definitely not given during his 2012 campaign. He has also been serving as the Honorary Chairman of the Our America Initiative and has stated that he will likely seek the Presidential nomination for the Libertarian Party again in 2016.

But it’s quite noticeable to the naked eye that politics have taken a toll on Gov. Johnson as well. Look at this picture of Gary Johnson in 2012 next to a picture of him at this year’s CPAC. It’s evident that politics, like professional wrestling, has a way of aging its contenders.

Johnson Age

Perhaps it’s exaggerated by the fact that Gov. Johnson is slouched over faking a heart attack on stage, but the aging of a man in a stressful professional is still evident.

So there you have it, 3 ways professional politics are like professional wrestling.

P.S. It’s no secret that Gov. Johnson is a good friend to We Are Libertarians. Go back and listen to his appearance on We Are Libertarians here: https://wearelibertarians.com/interview-gary-johnson

A Thought For Election Day

I just saw an Americans For Prosperity ad that reads, “Freedom Isn’t Free: Vote.” Please don’t buy into the propaganda that as an American you must “do your part,” and that voting is the only way to do that. If you’ve looked at your options and all of the candidates are lame, maybe doing your part means opting out of the vote altogether. Your vote belongs to you. Do whatever you want with it. And definitely don’t give it to someone just because they suck less than the other guy.

Greg Lenz Tweets on Obama’s Speech

Last night, on the heels of President Obama’s address to our nation, We Are Libertarians’ own Greg Lenz took to Twitter with an epic analysis (formatted for Tweets) of where President Obama was at. For those of you who missed it, I have since taken said Tweets and packaged them as succinctly as possible for the purposes of this article. Greg’s Tweets were as follows: – Joe

“I think the President is in an impossible situation. He purposefully misled the American public by failing to distinguish between Sunnis and Shias. It was a calculated choice. Driving ISIL out of the Middle East will not happen. Where else could they go? In 10 years would you rather fight an expansionist global caliphate or a guy like Assad? That’s the unfortunate choice. Foreign policy doesn’t get the benefit of a clean slate. In my opinion only two options exist:

1) Non-Intervention

2) Total War, but no ground forces. #UnmannedDroneStrikes

ISIL is not like Hamas or Hezbollah. We know where they are and what they want.

As a libertarian, our goal should be for each human to achieve self-created liberty. That newly formed and democratically elected Iraqi government should be given a chance. We should not support them in any other way than to essentially provide a protective shell for it to germinate.

Here’s the fine line the President is trying to walk:

1) Like it or not the United States is responsible for the success of ISIL.

2) By removing Saddam we created the environment that exists in Iraq and Syria today.

3) ISIL’s equipment was paid for the American taxpayer and given to Iraq’s Army.

4) We trained ISIL, al-Nusra Front, and the Free Syrian Army in Jordan so that they could defeat Basher Al Assad; Syria’s dictator.

5) Who is Assad’s biggest ally? Russia (Vladimir Putin).

6) Why? The Arab Gas Pipeline which supplies much of the Middle East.

7) If Assad falls, so does Russia’s monopoly on supplying Middle Eastern oil. It’s the same root cause as the Ukrainian conflict. Russia supplies oil to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Putin wants to be able to control the flow.

8) President Obama can’t help Assad due to the fact he’s a tyrannical dictator who partners with Russia and gases his own citizens. So tonight he decides to fund and train the al-Nusra Front (Al Qaeda affiliate) and the Free Syrian Army; Freedom Fighters.

9) The hope they will defeat ISIL because they’ll be better funded and armed, but then they’ll turn their sights on Assad if they defeat ISIL with American backing as payback.

10) If this Hail Mary of Hail Mary’s works, the newly formed Iraqi government would hopefully turn into a semi-functioning inclusive democracy and Syria would follow suit after ousting Assad.

11) So Obama is praying that if this decision works, the Middle East would have two highly functioning democracies to pair with Turkey and Israel, and fundamental Islam is dealt a death blow via democracy building.

12) However, this doesn’t include the 3 major players in the region:

Saudi Arabia and Israel (Team America) vs. Iran… (Who are currently Team America but Russia and Syria’s allies). ISIL, if they had their way, would behead every Shi’ite Muslim (Iran) in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is already a Sharia State, but they aren’t expansionist like ISIL wants to be. In reality, there’s hardly any difference other than we made their leaders rich so they’re fat and happy.

13) If President Obama does not intervene, Sunni money will flood into the coffers of ISIL which will start an Islamic Civil War of epic proportions all over the world.

15) Inevitably Israel starts sweating just waiting for the two Muslim groups to set their sights on them. This triggers US involvement and draws us into war.

16) Keep in mind, ISIL is a movement, not a revolution.

17) Imagine a religiously fueled American Revolution with Southern Baptist Freedom Fighters and KKK members.

18) President Obama is betting the citizens of Iraq, predominantly Shia, will be willing to fight for self-governance and self-preservation.

19) ISIL is betting their religiously fueled movement will break the will of the Iraqi people.

20) So the President can sit it out and watch Russia gain more oil control and wait for Israel to draw us into a Muslim holy war.

21) He can drop bombs from the sky and do everything possible to help a fragile government develop in Iraq (outside of providing ground troops) and a dictator will be overthrown in Syria by backing rebels he’s praying won’t turn on him like ISIL did.

22) Total War: Total war is the best shot at human freedom in my opinion. We dropped 2 nuclear weapons on Japan. Last year 5.38 million Japanese cars were sold in the United States. We became the closest of allies because we broke the will of their people. 1.3 million German cars were sold in the US last year because we crushed the National Socialist Party in Germany. Again they became one of our closest allies because we decimated their very core beliefs.

These halfway wars are the least humane option and the worst for liberty. Either don’t intervene at all and pray to whatever you pray to that humans are in fact meant for self-governance. Or, pound someone so absolutely that they question their very existence and will to live.

If we were starting from scratch, I’d say non-intervention every time.

Alexander the Great defeated Darius so absolutely, the other tribes and monarchs in his path simply forfeited. It was also the last time Afghanistan was ruled.”

After reading Greg’s analysis, what do you think? Is he right? What should we do? Where should we go? Leave your opinions in the comments section below.

The Sheetz Report: Business & Politics, Issue 361

If you need a real world, financial example of socialism in these United States, it would be this:
Look at you last pay stub.  Look at your gross pay; now look at your net pay.  The difference is how much socialism costs you every paycheck.


This is a big story:

It wasn’t too long ago that Germany felt they wanted their gold back from other nations vaults (specifically England and the US), and demanded repatriation of their reserves:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-23/german-gold-stays-in-new-york-in-rebuff-to-euro-doubters.html
http://teapartyeconomist.com/2014/06/26/2013-germany-asked-stored-gold-hahahahaha/
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-23/germany-gives-trying-repatriate-its-gold-will-leave-it-feds-safe-hands
http://ncrenegade.com/editorial/germany-capitulates-to-the-fed/
http://libertycrier.com/germany-gives-trying-repatriate-gold-will-leave-feds-safe-hands/
I guess they’ve had a change of heart?  Or were they told the gold no longer exists in the vaults?  Hey, trust us!


PLEASE read this article written by Alecia Phonesavanh (she is the mother of 2-year-old Bou Bou, that was seriously injured during a middle of the night SWAT raid):

http://www.salon.com/2014/06/24/a_swat_team_blew_a_hole_in_my_2_year_old_son/
What should this family do about it?  What about the judge who signed the ‘no-knock’ warrant?  What about the SWAT team that was playing army with civilians?  What about the fact the person they were looking for didn’t even live at the address raided?  What about the fact NO drugs were found?
So many unanswered questions…


Not sure of all the details surrounding this 6 AM DHS raid of a Florida home, but if half of this story is true:

http://www.infowars.com/woman-says-dhs-forced-her-to-strip-naked-at-gunpoint-during-terrifying-dawn-raid/
Welcome to the police state!  We as citizens need to say STOP now, before this becomes an accepted practice (or has it already)?


Shhh!  Don’t tell anyone about inflation and maybe it’ll just go away?:

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/inflation-only-if-you-look-at-food-water-gas-electricity-and-everything-else
If the US measured inflation like they did 20 years ago, the rate would be over 10% annually.  Are your wages going up at that rate?  We’re getting poorer each year, figure it out yet?
 
How a country dies, article by Tyler Durden:
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-22/how-country-dies
This is a great companion piece to the above article.  I strongly suggest reading them both.


Well, this is interesting (2:11):

http://www.infowars.com/stand-down-u-s-border-gate-left-wide-open-unguarded/
Makes it awfully easy to enter the US if you leave the gate open and unattended, don’t you think?


In the continuing series about the erosion of our Constitutional rights, Ron Gibson focuses on vehicle titles and driver licenses (6:55):

http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/06/drivers-license-required-fraud-surrounding-vehicle-title-drivers-license/
If we only REALLY understood what’s happened to this country… 


 

SCOTUS does the job that congress has refused to do…kinda:
http://www.gopusa.com/news/2014/06/23/justices-limit-existing-epa-global-warming-rules/?subscriber=1
http://personalliberty.com/mixed-reactions-supreme-courts-ruling-epa-power-grab/
They actually told Obama his EPA can’t just change the rules without a law being written to cover it.


Do you believe the IRS when they said they lost all the emails?:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/06/21/Lost-Emails-The-IRS-Has-a-Contract-With-Email-Backup-Company
You shouldn’t, they had a contract with Sonasoft to avoid just such a situation…time for a new excuse.
….And here you go:
http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/06/bombshell-irs-fired-back-company-sonasoft-shortly-lois-lerners-computer-crashed/
This reminds me of Watergate and the 18 ½ minutes of silence.


The IRS scandal is so bad that Lois Lerner suggested the IRS audit senator Chuck Grassley:

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2014/06/25/lois-lerner-referred-senator-chuck-grassley-for-irs-targeting-n1855827?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl
After opening an email to Grassley that was accidently sent to Lerner.


Now IRS commissioner (John Koskinen) being an arrogant SOB in front of the house committee responsible for finding out what abuse the IRS was responsible for (5:53 & 8:44):

http://conservativevideos.com/2014/06/trey-gowdy-absolutely-obliterate-irs-commissioner-lost-lerner-emails/
http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2014/06/23/Fireworks-Erupt-After%20GOP-Rep-Tells-IRS-Boss-His-Personal-Integrity-Is-in-Question?utm_source=e_breitbart_com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+June+24%2C+2014&utm_campaign=20140624_m121061409_Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+June+24%2C+2014&utm_term=More
I’m fed up with the IRS cover-up.  Let’s start with Obama and work backwards.


The IRS is required by law to report any loss of information, including emails (1:03):

http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/06/u-s-archivist-david-ferriero-irs-follow-law/
US Archivist David Ferriero testified that the IRS never notified him they lost any emails or files.


One would possibly come to the conclusion that the IRS may not be an impartial agency of government:

http://personalliberty.com/irs-chief-koskinen-history-donating-democrats/
When It is learned the commissioner has donated over $100K to democrats for the past 30 years.  Maybe that’s one of the reasons he got the job?


Well, OK.  Maybe there was JUST a smidgen of corruption in the IRS:

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2014/06/25/not-a-smidgen-irs-pays-50000-settlement-for-giving-conservative-tax-info-to-political-opponent-n1855580
IRS agrees to pay $50K to national organization for marriage for the illegal release of confidential tax information.  Sorry, but vindictive me wants someone to go to jail over this as well.


The last time a president tried to turn the IRS into his own personal goon squad:

http://personalliberty.com/impeaching-obama-imagine/
We impeached him.


Missing IRS emails; it’s not a conspiracy theory:

http://lastresistance.com/6208/democrats-call-lost-irs-emails-conspiracy-theory/
It’s called common sense.


I think I’ll end my IRS scandal information with this op-ed by Bob Livingston:

http://personalliberty.com/criminality-totalitarianism-u-s-government-evident-irs-scandal/
What’s it going to take for you to recognize the total criminality that the federal government has become?  I DO NOT CONSENT.


Want to promote global warming?  Just change the empirical data:

http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/noaanasa-dramatically-altered-us-temperatures-after-the-year-2000/
http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/environment/item/18556-more-proof-us-temperature-data-is-manipulated?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=38013ab0be-The_Editors_Top_Picks_3_12_143_12_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8ca494f2d2-38013ab0be-282941585
Voila, problem solved.  Special thanks to NASA, NOAA and the EPA for fudging the data.


NY state’s highest court has ruled ex-mayor Bloomberg’s large soda ban, stating the NYC health board exceeded their authority:

http://conservativebyte.com/2014/06/nanny-state-suffers-blow-ny-court-overturns-soda-ban/
A very small win for liberty.


Herman Cain states uninformed voters should stay home come election day.  Says stupid people are ruining America (1:37):

http://dailycaller.com/2014/06/20/herman-cain-urges-uninformed-voters-to-stay-home-stupid-people-are-ruining-america/#!
I’m not disagreeing, but this was probably not a wise thing for any politician to say.


Bill Maher’s ‘real time’ show last Friday featured an interesting exchange between Glenn Greenwald and Paul Rieckhoff (6:47):

http://libertycrier.com/bullsht-greenwald-iraq-vet-blow-real-time-snowden-leaks/
This was interesting…

 


Did anyone think that Obama would be such a war-hawk when he was elected?:

http://politicaloutcast.com/2014/06/wait-barack-obama-get-authority-bomb-syria/
I think it’s time congress reign in this wannabe king.

 


Hillary just can’t stop from making a fool of herself:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/some-democrats-fear-clintons-wealth-and-imperial-image-could-be-damaging-in-2016/2014/06/22/526746e6-f7eb-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html
She refuses to see herself as part of the .1%?  Maybe she should read this article.

 


 

Hillary is going after the alternative media along with the 1st and 2nd amendments (4:19):

http://www.infowars.com/hillary-clinton-drudge-report-independent-media-carry-bad-information/
We’ll all get along much better if we would just agree with her, after all.

 


Gary Franchi interview with William Binney (retired NSA official) on how long citizens spying has been going on (16:49):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzvB78hQHZU&feature=youtube_gdata
The NSA has been violating the Constitution since 2001.  Anyone remember when the NSA did overseas spying, not domestic surveillance of ordinary citizens?

 


Staff Sergeant Guthrie of the Lowndes Co (GA) sheriff’s department (6:12):

http://www.infowars.com/shock-video-cop-respects-constitutional-rights/
Why can’t all LEO’s be more like this?


Trey Gowdy as a standup comedian (2:49):

http://conservativevideos.com/2014/06/trey-gowdys-hilarious-dream-brings-house/
He ain’t bad…

 


Wal-Mart fires back at NYT columnist Timothy Egan for his recent piece on Wal-Mart:

http://dailycaller.com/2014/06/22/walmarts-response-to-the-new-york-times-is-great/#!
David Tovar is Wal-Mart’s director of corporate communications; good counterpoints are presented (and I’m not a Wal-Mart fan).


 

Another US manufacturer is moving out of the US due to our tax rate:

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/karajones/2014/06/23/another-american-company-goes-abroad-escaping-high-tax-rates-n1854843#!
Medtronic is moving to Ireland.  It’s purely a business decision; 35% of profit or 12.5% of profit confiscated by government…what would you choose?

 


Government revises Q1 economic numbers: it’s down 2.9% (not the .1% originally reported):

http://www.foxbusiness.com/economy-policy/2014/06/25/us-economy-shrinks-by-most-since-great-recession/
The largest since the great depression.  Just another lie, much like the one that tells us we’re in a recovery and have been for years.

 


Sacramento County sheriff Scott Jones doesn’t want to talk about the department’s stingray unit (5:39):

http://www.infowars.com/sacramento-sheriff-confronted-over-stingray-surveillance/
Stingray’s use without a warrant is a blatant violation of the 4th amendment.  What do you do when those paid to protect our rights are the ones guilty of abusing them?


Greta van Susteren let’s Obama have it regarding Andrew Tahmooressi (1:06):

http://conservativevideos.com/2014/06/furious-obama-best-blew-worst-doesnt-give-damn/
In a face to face meeting with Mexico’s president, the subject didn’t get brought up.


694 documented examples of Obama’s lies, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, etc:

http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/06/694-documented-examples-obamas-lies-lawbreaking-corruption-cronyism-etc/
Interesting reading, by Tim Brown.  And still we do nothing.

 


Judge Margaret Noe (MI) is not fit to be a judge (2:33):

http://conservativevideos.com/2014/06/judge-ordered-active-duty-sailor-risk-losing-custody-daughter-obscene/
This is ridiculous.


Ron Paul suggests you consider his curriculum as an alternative to the governments common core (4:34):

http://personalliberty.com/ron-paul-opt-common-core-opt-pro-liberty-curriculum/
Your children, your choice…for awhile yet.


Those doomsday preppers are a dangerous bunch (2:09):

http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/06/fbi-raids-home-of-martin-winters-dangerous-doomsday-prepper-agents-find-legally-owned-firearms-barrels-of-food/
This is what our government does to citizens, in this story Martin Winters.  Who’s next?

 


The ACLU has released a new report stating that police agencies have excessively militarized:

http://benswann.com/american-police-excessively-militarized-says-new-report/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=nl
Kind of states the obvious, don’t you think?

 


I’ve asked this question before and I’ll ask again:

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/18582-report-militarized-police-treating-citizens-as-wartime-enemies?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=b3d6eb3af8-The_Editors_Top_Picks_3_12_143_12_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8ca494f2d2-b3d6eb3af8-282941585
What will it take for Americans to say ‘enough’ and become a freedom fighter (or terrorist), depending on one’s point of view?


 

The anatomy of a great deception, a film that is the passion for Dave Hooper:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-anatomy-of-a-great-deception
One man’s quest for the truth regarding 9/11, you might want to read a little bit about this.


 

Just what is the export-import bank; explained in 1 minute (1:03):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_jfknO1YqA&feature=youtu.be

 


The white house finally relented on releasing the memo on drone killings:

http://dailycaller.com/2014/06/24/pentagon-official-the-obama-kill-memo-is-out-and-libertarians-were-right-its-murder/
It was murder, we no longer live in a Constitutional Republic.  US citizens were killed on orders from the king.


 

Sneak and Peek warrants, what the heck are they?:

http://www.policestateusa.com/2014/sneak-and-peek-warrants/
Excuse me; what country am I living in?  Obviously not one that believes in liberty, the Bill of Rights and the Rule of Law.

 


Ben Crystal has devised a political quiz to determine your liberty quotient:

http://personalliberty.com/take-liberty-quiz/
How’d you do?

 


The US should look to what’s happening in France right now before we repeat the same mistakes (4:43):

http://www.cbn.com/tv/3254023064001
Too much socialism will force our most gifted young people to leave the US as well.

 


Joe Guzzardi with 6 facts on the Obama flood of illegal immigrant minors that you may not know:

http://www.gopusa.com/commentary/2014/06/23/six-facts-you-should-know-about-obamas-flood-of-illegal-aliens/?subscriber=1
This will put a serious tax on this nation’s ability to care for these illegal’s, might want to change policy before it’s too late.

 


The most corrupt states; Mississippi tops the list:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1111/puar.12212/?isReportingDone=true&isReportingDone=true
http://dailysignal.com/2014/06/15/mississippi-named-corrupt-state-nation/?utm_source=heritagefoundation&utm_medium=email&utm_term=headline&utm_content=1400621&utm_campaign=saturday
http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/faith-and-morals/item/18549-mississippi-is-the-most-corrupt-state-says-a-new-study?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=fd21fefc47-The_Editors_Top_Picks_3_12_143_12_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8ca494f2d2-fd21fefc47-282941585
Illinois came in at number 4, I was surprised that NY wasn’t in the top ten.

 


As if Albuquerque police don’t have enough of a target on their backs for police brutality (1:50 & 2:35):

http://www.koat.com/news/protesters-post-photos-of-undercover-cops-online/26627628#!4vWqx
http://libertycrier.com/undercover-cops-embedded-anti-police-brutality-protest-outed-photos-posted-online/
APD embeds undercover cops in the anti-police brutality march and demonstration.  Wow, just wow.

 


Sean Kendall did a pretty good job in keeping himself together after finding out his dog had been killed (5:23):

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2672405/The-dramatic-moment-dog-owner-berates-officers-shooting-beloved-pet-dead-backyard.html
Salt Lake City, officer Olson should probably lose his or her job over this.

 


NEMLEC (a regional Massachusetts SWAT team) has refused an ACLU release for statistics on raids and other police information:

http://conservativebyte.com/2014/06/swat-team-refuses-public-records-request-says-government-agency/
NEMLEC states they are not subject to public records laws.  I would beg to differ, where do they get their funding from, the tooth fairy?


That’s what friends are for (2:19):

http://www.khou.com/news/local/Paperwork-mistake-leads-to-lesser-charge-for-Friendswood-police-officer-264849461.html
Brazoria County, Texas.  Ohhh, a letter of reprimand; I guess that’s better than getting fired.


 

The Thad Cochran/Chris McDaniel primary run-off in Mississippi was a complete farce when it comes to party politics:

And further strengthens my belief that there’s not a smidgen (like how I worked that in) of difference between D and R, even when it comes a one party’s primary.
A collection of stories detailing the events that took place this week in Mississippi:
http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/18580-gop-bigwigs-used-democrats-to-protect-mississippi-incumbent?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=56972b45b5-The_Editors_Top_Picks_3_12_143_12_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8ca494f2d2-56972b45b5-282941585
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/06/24/Cochran-McDaniel-Results-Legal-Challenges?utm_source=e_breitbart_com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+June+25%2C+2014&utm_campaign=20140625_m121079119_Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+June+25%2C+2014&utm_term=More
http://spectator.org/articles/59766/who-paid-race-baiting-flier-mississippi
http://lastresistance.com/6265/thad-cochrans-dirty-victory/
http://minutemennews.com/2014/06/shame-thad-cochran-low-road-doesnt-get-much-lower/
http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2014/06/25/CNNs-Bash-Cochran-Supporters-Admit-Dems-Made-the-Difference?utm_source=e_breitbart_com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+June+25%2C+2014&utm_campaign=20140625_m121079119_Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+June+25%2C+2014&utm_term=More
http://personalliberty.com/shame-mississippi/
http://conservativebyte.com/2014/06/thad-cochrans-coalition-lied/
http://minutemennews.com/2014/06/ruling-class-vs-rest-us/
http://benswann.com/desperate-cochran-literally-begs-democrats-to-vote-for-him-over-tea-partys-mcdaniel-in-runoff/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=nl
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/06/thad_cochran_took_the_low_road.html
http://ncrenegade.com/editorial/one-party-to-rule-them-all/
http://godfatherpolitics.com/16046/race-baiting-helps-republican-win-vote-democrats-aid/
http://conservativebyte.com/2014/06/mcdaniel-legal-path-victory-cochran/
http://ncrenegade.com/editorial/cochran-topples-tea-party/
http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/senate-races/210473-cochran-topples-tea-party-in-mississippi
http://patriotupdate.com/2014/06/corrupt-gop-employed-reprehensible-tactic-tea-party/
http://www.gopusa.com/news/2014/06/25/cochran-wins-ms-primary-with-the-help-of-democrat-voters/?subscriber=1
http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2014/06/27/Chris-McDaniel-Weve-Found-1000-Examples-of-Ineligible-Voters-in-One-County?utm_source=e_breitbart_com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+June+27%2C+2014&utm_campaign=20140627_m121111820_Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+June+27%2C+2014&utm_term=More
http://www.wakingtimes.com/2014/06/20/complete-history-monsanto-worlds-evil-corporation/

 


We all deserve a feel good story (1:45):

http://conservativevideos.com/2014/06/happened-marines-house-overseas-brought-tears-came-home/
Master Sergeant Jacinto Bernardo.

 


Just for fun, shooting JUJUBE CANDY through a 12 gauge shotgun (3:04):

http://bearingarms.com/jujube-buckshot-defense-gummi-bears/?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl

 


And I’ll end with this.  A PSA on gun safety that I found very funny (:30):

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2014/06/26/antigun-front-group-issues-psa-comparing-gun-storage-to-sex-toys-n1856061?utm_source=thdailypm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl_pm#!
Judging from the viewer comments, I’m in a minority.  MY WARNING: This is adult oriented content and should not be viewed by minors or those easily offended.