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Why Rhetoric Should be Celebrated

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use, Philosophy by Alice Salles Comments are off

Why Rhetoric Should be Celebrated

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

We often hear that persuasion is an obstacle to freedom. “Rhetoric,” they say, is why we’re in such trouble. After all, voters would make better decisions if they had been better educated about the issues facing the nation.

To Deirdre McCloskey, the celebrated Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, people who scapegoat persuasion are misguided.

PersuasionIn a video for the Learn Liberty series, McCloskey argues that while many people with different points of view on politics all agree that free speech is “sacred,” few agree that persuasion is just as important, if not a feature of a free society.

“Rhetoric,” she tells the viewer, “sounds like a bad word.” Media outlets are the first ones to accuse politicians and key figures of indulging in rhetoric, and never getting to the point. But McCloskey believes that this approach to persuasion is superficial, especially when considering the alternative.

She explains that, persuasion would be bad if the alternative to “sweet-talking” people into believing something or siding with someone wasn’t persuasion through force.

Because we are humans, McCloskey adds, we depend on language. But if we cannot use language, there is another way of persuading people into taking a particular stance: Violence. If I have a gun in hands while telling you to believe in economics and stop arguing with me if you want to stay alive, you will most certainly choose to agree with me, just so you may avoid getting shot in the head. But if there aren’t any guns involved, all we can do to make our point stick is to try to persuade folks by selling our idea the best way we can.

“In a society of free choice, free ideas, free consumption,” McCloskey adds, “you have persuasion as the only alternative to violence.”

Henry David Thoreau once said that “thaw, with her gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor, with his hammer.” The late, prolific author Gore Vidal once said that advertising is the only art form ever invented in the United States of America. To McCloskey, “a free society is an advertising society,” after all, a free society is where people debate and persuade, rather than threaten others into going along with their ideas. Americans should be proud of this very American tradition.

Instead of demonizing rhetoric by complaining that propaganda alone is the root of our problems, McCloskey seems to argue, we should celebrate the “speaking, rather than violent, society,” and take part in the activity, rather than decry it as the root of all evil.

US Gov’t Targets Public Employees With ‘Whistleblower-Like’ Characteristics

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

US Gov’t Targets Public Employees With ‘Whistleblower-Like’ Characteristics

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The United States government may be looking for the “next Chelsea Manning,” a report from The Guardian argues.

ManningAccording to documents obtained by the UK newspaper, disgruntled employees, egomaniacs, and the office “door mat” are all potential whistleblowers under the ever watchful eyes of the US government.

In what many call a witch-hunt, the US government is allegedly placing all public employees under surveillance in order to spot individuals with characteristics that match Chelsea Manning’s profile. According to the government’s own standards, individuals with motives of greed, too much ego, or who experience financial difficulties may become whistleblowers. Employees who are “disgruntled,” or who appear to have “an ideology,” or a “divided loyalty” are also potential risks to the government.

According to Manning’s article, even employees with “any family/personal issues” should be closely watched for potential problems.

As Manning pointed out, anybody holding a security clearance may, at some point, be labeled as a potential threat if officials are trained to single out individuals by looking for the characteristics listed above.

The 31-page document reviewed by The Guardian was originally obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request placed by Chelsea Manning, the former United States Army soldier-turned whistleblower who became famous for leaking information on the US government’s actions in Iraq.

A video leaked by Manning and released by WikiLeaks in 2010 shows two American helicopters firing on a group of ten men, including two Reuters employees who had ben photographing an American Humvee under attack. The footage also shows helicopters firing at a van that had stopped to help the victims of the previous attack. Children inside the van were injured while their father was killed.

Months after Manning was arrested over violations of the Espionage Act, the National Insider Threat Task Force was created, and officials involved with the agency were given the task of deterring threats to national security by anyone “who misuses or betrays, wittingly or unwittingly, his or her authorized access to any US Government resource.” According to Manning, this gives the task force broad powers, resulting in “total surveillance.”

The 2011 “Insider Threat” program that followed Manning’s arrest, or what many call “modern-day McCarthyism,” also teaches officers to spy employees presenting what they believe to be deviations of sexual orientation and gender identity, characteristics that match the government’s profile of Manning.

As the country watches in horror what is now unfolding in Brussels after the deadly terrorist attack that killed over 30 innocent civilians, this report gets buried by the news cycle. With both Republican and Democrat candidates competing to show the county who’s the toughest on foreign policy, liberty advocates like former congressman Ron Paul argue that the American voter will be much more likely to urge government to do more after the Brussels attack, putting both of our safety and liberty in jeopardy.

Under a hawkish administration whose plans include expanding our presence in the Middle East, programs like the “Insider Threat” will be the norm. But can increased surveillance bring us safety?

History shows that the answer is no.

VIDEO: Acclaimed Introduction to the Philosophy of Liberty

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

The Philosophy of Liberty is an eight-minute animated film by Kerry Pearson (aka Lux Lucre) based on the prologue of Ken Schoolland’s outstanding libertarian book The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible.

Millions of people have viewed the video. It’s online in English at YouTube and elsewhere, and it’s also available in about 40 other languages and several video formats at The Philosophy of Liberty website. There you can also learn more about the history of this remarkable video.

This is a great educational tool which we highly recommend. It offers an easy-to-understand introduction to the fundamentals of libertarianism. Many viewers praise it as extremely clear, rational and emotionally moving – a remarkable combination of responses. Share it online.

VIDEO: Remy Takes on the ISIS Crisis

in Communicating Liberty, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

How to deal with the ISIS crisis?

In this amazing video, the Obama administration’s ISIS Response Team — all roles played by the wonderful liberty-minded comedian Remy — ponders various options.

It’s a modern-day Dr. Strangelove, as they consider using some hideous all-new weapons of mass destruction that are… just too terrible to contemplate.

A minute and a half of political wisdom and super laughs from Reason TV. Share it with friends!

Click here to read the next article from this issue.

Click here to return to the newsletter.

VIDEO: Remy’s Tips for Improving the TSA

in Liberator Online, National Defense by James W. Harris Comments are off

The Transportation Molestation Administration — oops, we mean the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) — recently announced they were seeking suggestions from their victims — oops, we mean the public — for how to improve airport security lines. They even offered $15,000 in prizes for the best tips.

And that inspired the great liberty-minded comedian Remy to offer his suggestions — in the form of a song, no less.

Check out the video and see what Remy came up with. Let’s hope he wins!

Share with friends. Thanks once again to ReasonTV for a great video! Approximately 1:45 minutes.

VIDEO: Remy’s “What are the Chances? (An IRS Love Song)”

in Liberator Online, Taxes by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A new video by the great liberty-minded comic Remy is always a cause for celebration.

Here’s his latest: “What are the Chances? (An IRS Love Song)“.

Remy, decked out handsomely in country music duds, croons a country-flavored ode to the IRS scandal concerning alleged unjust and biased targeting of conservative and free market organizations — and the suspiciously convenient IRS hard-drive crashes and loss of electronic correspondence relevant to the case. Remy’s expressions and voice in the last 30 seconds or so are particularly hilarious.

It’s about two minutes long. Written and performed by Remy, via ReasonTV.

Watch, laugh… then share with friends.

VIDEO: “Isn’t it Ironic”: Remy Rips Feinstein on Spying

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Okay, admit it: you had to laugh when Senator Diane Feinstein — long one of the Senate’s biggest defenders of NSA spying — was suddenly filled with outrage when she found out that SHE, too, was being spied on. Hey! That’s going too far!

The irony is just too perfect. And who better to point this out than the great liberty-minded comedian Remy?

In this 2-minute video from our friends at Reason TV, Remy updates the Alanis Morissette hit “Isn’t it Ironic” …with Feinstein in mind.

You can read the lyrics here. Laugh along with lines like:

Senator, this may surprise you
and the irony bites
but Congresspeople ain’t the only ones
with 4th Amendment rights

…oh, and we really like the quick dig at the Great Interner, FDR, too.

Share it with friends!

Credits: Written and performed by Remy. Video and animation by Meredith Bragg. Music performed, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Ben Karlstrom.

Video: Hilarious Remy Take on “Working 9 to 5″

in Healthcare, Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The great liberty-minded comedian Remy sings about working “9 to… hey, wait a minute!”

See how Obamacare shakes up Remy’s employment situation. And he’s not the only one…

Watch it, laugh, then share with friends. PS: Lyrics, with helpful info links, are at the bottom of this page.

Who’s That Messing with Your Grill? (Video)

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The Fourth of July has come and gone, but it’s still summertime, the perfect time for grillin’ and chillin’ and celebrating our liberty and independence and… but, hey, who’s that lurking around the grill?

“Ain’t no party like a nanny state party…”

Reason TV presents “Up in My Grill: 4th of July Rap” — the perfect summer music video, written and performed by the great comedian Remy.

Just one minute and twenty seconds long, hilarious, with a strong libertarian message. Highly recommended. Share with friends!

Three More Reasons to Fear — and ABOLISH — the IRS (VIDEO)

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

In the wake of the recent IRS scandals, our friends at Reason TV have produced a fast, funny — and creepy – video that gives you “three good reasons to be scared as hell of the IRS.”

Reason’s Nick Gillespie points out that:

1. The IRS always been a political weapon.

John F Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon all sicked the IRS on enemies and dissenters. And they were just following in the footsteps of Franklin Roosevelt, whose own son said his father was “the originator of the concept of employing the IRS as a weapon of political retribution.”

2. IRS rulings are super-complicated and capricious.

The federal tax code is longer than Atlas Shrugged, Ulysses, and the Old Testament put together — and far less entertaining. And it’s so complex even former IRS commissioners need help preparing their returns.

3. Get ready, America: the IRS is… Obamacare’s enforcement mechanism.

Starting next year, the IRS will be the cop patrolling the Affordable Care Act’s mandates. Yes, you’ll be explaining to the IRS when, where, and how you bought health care.

Learn from this entertaining short video — just a minute and a half long — and share it with friends.

As for the solution, we agree with Libertarian Party Executive Director Carla Howell: abolish the IRS and the income tax — right now!

How NOT to Talk to People About Liberty (VIDEO)

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

One of the best ways to learn how to better communicate the ideas of liberty is to see someone doing it… the wrong way.

How NOT to Talk to People About Liberty by The Libertarienne Show is a fun, funny, short video that shows you exactly that.

In just a quick minute and a half, you’ll see a catalog of ways guaranteed to turn most listeners off to libertarian ideas — maybe forever.

In addition to laughing — this is some funny stuff — you might go, “Oops!” and blush with self-recognition once or twice. I know I did!

If you like this video be sure to also check out their Facebook page, which has lots more great stuff.

How NOT to Talk to People About Liberty stars Cathy Reisenwitz with special guest, Libertarian Girl.

“I, Pencil: The Movie” (VIDEO)

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

In the last issue of The Liberator Online, Advocates President Sharon Harris shared her love for Leonard Reed’s classic essay “I, Pencil.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has created a great six-minute “I, Pencil” video that explores that same message.

The video opens with a quote from G.K. Chesterton: “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

It then proceeds to open our eyes to some astounding, but generally unappreciated and ignored, wonders that surround us — beginning with the humble yellow pencil.

When you understand the story of “I, Pencil” you will never view a “simple pencil” — or any other manufactured object — the same way again. Your mind will be opened and you will see that there are indeed miracles and marvels all around you, every moment of every day.

The website hosting “I Pencil” has several other short films and written material that build further on the message of “I, Pencil.” CEI hopes this will enable teachers, professors and lecturers to make easy use of “I, Pencil” as a teaching tool. Share it with friends.