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A libertarian panel hosted by Lucy Steigerwald, where ranting is encouraged, and smashing the state is mandatory.

-Lucy Steigerwald: Columnist for VICE.com, Antiwar.com, Rare.us, and Editor in Chief of The Stag Blog; @lucystag

-Joe Steigerwald: Publisher for The Stag Blog, technical dude; @steigerwaldino

-Michelle Montalvo: Perpetual intern, sci-fi enthusiast; @michelle7291

-David Lowenthal: blogger for The Forgotten Beard; @davidlowenthal1

For a special, America-themed Fourth of July show, our cranky, liberty-loving panel discussed nationalism, patriotism, immigration, the Constitution, and what makes America great besides Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay movies.

snowproblemIn case you didn’t get the memo, today is International Polar Bear Day. It’s a day filled with poorly-researched articles where “science” writers bemoan how evil humans will wipe out polar bears, and cry over spilt carbon.

Yahoo is running a “5 Weird Facts About Polar Bears” on its front page. A dubious list of four “weird” facts with a fifth that trumpets “Two-thirds of polar bears could disappear by 2050.

Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt, and studies predict that global warming could melt enough sea ice to lead to the disappearance of two-thirds of polar bears by 2050. The decline in sea ice has forced the bears to swim longer distances, consuming energy they cannot afford to use.

The United States listed polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in May 2008, and Canada and Russia have listed them as a species of special concern. Unless climate change slows, eventually there may not be any bears around to celebrate Polar Bear Day.

It’s an especially poor attempt by author Tanya Lewis at making a valid point about polar bears. She doesn’t even link to an article that supports her theory of polar bear disappearance other than they have to swim longer distances. The least she could do is try to make an effort — if she’s so concerned about the polar bears — to write a compelling article based on facts. The whole thing is just a way to drum up uninformed outrage.

Not that Tanya should be singled out.

Time has its own hysteria inducing “Save the Polar Bear, Especially Today.” Basically a rehashed, non-listacle version of the Yahoo article, (now with more hysteria!)

Many scientists and conservationists fear that there may be far fewer polar bears in even that single-decade time frame, thanks chiefly to the effects of climate change. Polar bears use sea ice as a platform to reach their prey, chiefly seals, and summer sea ice is melting fast. Despite a rebound from a record low in 2012, the extent of Arctic sea ice is generally trending downwards, often dramatically. As the ice vanishes, polar bears are forced to swim longer and longer distances to reach those hunting platforms, which is taking a toll on the species.

Once again, there’s no link, no data to back up his claim that swimming long distances is killing the species. It’s the standard global warming doomsdayers trope. The Time article also goes on to make various other wildly unsubstantiated claims like:

Still, most experts agree that there are about 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears alive, scattered around the Arctic—a perilously small number though some subpopulations have rebounded, in part because of restrictions on hunting.

So perilously small that some populations may have reached their carrying capacity.

In fact, research shows that polar bear populations have been increasing, to between 20,000-25,000 bears. Far more than the 12,000 estimated in the late ’60s before an international ban on hunting in the 1970s. What’s more, scientists still don’t even have sufficient data about eight of the 19 known polar bear habitats. But of course the lack of data won’t prevent a lot of people from spouting off about the imminent destruction of the polar bear.Polar Bear Map

(And don’t let the facts dissuade you from using these “sexy” beasts as the mascots for your climate change hysteria.)

Fortunately the truth is out there. Zach Unger, who originally set off to write “an elegy” for the certain destruction of the species, ended up writing “Never Look A Polar Bear in the Eye,” a chronicle of the massive success and rebirth polar bears have enjoyed in the past decades.

And then there’s this article about polar bears from Canadian Geographic that highlights two experts who view predictions of extinction as “joke”:

Consider Mitch Taylor’s story. He spent more than two decades as a polar bear researcher and manager for the Nunavut government and has published around 50 peer-reviewed papers. That should garner widespread respect. But Taylor has been highly vocal about his belief that polar bears are mostly doing fine, that cub mortality varies from year to year and that the much ballyhooed predictions of extinction by 2050 are “a joke.” He also alleges that a lot of the “exaggerated decline” is just a way to keep certain scientists well funded and to transfer control of the polar bear issue from territorial to federal hands.

[…]

Yet by 1990, Ian Stirling — at the time, the senior research scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service and a professor of zoology at the University of Alberta; basically, one of the most respected polar bear scientists on the planet — felt comfortable answering the question as to whether polar bears are an endangered species by stating flatly: “They are not.” He went on to say that “the world population of polar bears is certainly greater than 20,000 and could be as high as 40,000 … I am inclined toward the upper end of that range.”

So next time you see a picture of some poor polar bear “trapped on an ice floe” or Leonardo DiCaprio Photoshopped into the arctic, ask yourself this: “Who benefits from all the polar bear hysteria?”

(It’s not the polar bears.)Vanity Fair and Knut

billofhannityControversy is raging in America. The First Amendment, long the bulwark of our country’s freedom, is under attack from the left and the right. Our freedom to say whatever we want, anytime we want, to whomever we want, is being threatened by the fascist forces in our government, hellbent on silencing the last true American patriots.

Wait, are you telling me this doesn’t have anything to do with the government?

You’re telling me it’s about a redneck duck?

Oh, not a redneck duck, a redneck on a show loosely based around ducks.

And who else?

From The Hunt for Red October?

That’s it?

Ah yes, the guy who wants Sarah Palin defecated on.

No America, the government isn’t trying to take away our rights to say moronic things. That freedom is very obviously still intact. In reality this matter has nothing to do with the government, and thus is completely unrelated to the First Amendment.

For  you see gentle readers, the government has absolutely no control over whether or not employees get fired by their employers. If you want to go on YouTube and make racist, sexist, or profane comments about your company, your boss, blacks, whites, Jews, Jamaicans, short people, women, men, cats, dogs, the blind, or the deaf you have every right, as granted by the First Amendment, to do so without fear of government repercussion.

But your ass is gonna get fired if you do. That’s because your First Amendment rights absolutely do not protect you from your place of work. You can rail all you like against the repressive policies arbitrarily placed on you by your employer, but guess what, if you want to go around airing your views, you better make damn sure you’re not going to offend the people in charge (and I’m not talking about Obama).

Therefore when Willie Robertson compares homosexuality to bestiality or Alec Baldwin uses offensive language or Martin Bashir hopes people shit on Sarah Palin they’re going to get fired. It may not be the “right” thing to do, but it sure as hell isn’t a First Amendment issue. So next time a mentally deficient, fake-constitutionalist like Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, or Bobby Jindal decides to bring up the First Amendment, you can politely point them to this: First Amendment to the Constitution. They obviously need a refresher.

simpsons-kodos-treehouseofhorrorStupid Point/Counterpoint is a new feature in which Stag Blog columnist Joe Steigerwald counters the worst editorials on the internet with a well-written and thought out rebuttal. Also: mockery and yelling.

How do you write a critique of libertarianism without doing any research into the subject of libertarianism? Join Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer as they answer that question, and more!

AMERICA, did you know there is a shadowy group of extremists whose only goal is bringing about the destruction of the state? This cadre of radicals operates under our very noses, advocating for less government and more personal freedom. If we allow them to succeed they will plunge the country into destruction. They must be eliminated.

I for one thank God that we have Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu to expose these monsters.

Are Libertarians the new Communists? The question, authored by Michael Bloomberg under the pen name Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu, would appear to have an obvious answer: no. Or, more appropriately: hell no, are you stupid? However, that is only because you have been brainwashed by the massive libertarian juggernaut. They of the 1 percent of the popular vote in the 2012 Presidential election and zero active members in the U.S. government.

The article posits that while communism and extreme libertarianism (a word so unpopular spell check doesn’t even recognize it) appear to be “polar opposites” they are actually “mirror images,” and the adoption of either would result in unchecked human misery, poverty, and tyranny.

I’d like to think (or at least pray) that most people would laugh when they read Hanauer and Liu’s anti-libertarian polemic appearing (ever so appropriately) at Bloomberg.com. I’d love to believe that most rational humans who read the article threw up their hands, closed down their browsers, got back into their beds, and pulled up the covers; vowing never again to leave their house. Those few people who actually finished the article probably fell into one of two camps: enraged libertarians and Michael Bloomberg worshiping authoritarians.

Some articles with terrible headlines actually improve upon close reading. This isn’t one of them. It turns out the title is probably the most well thought-out part of the entire endeavor. It’s completely misleading, but it’s excellent link bait. The headline screams that juicy controversial content is inside — it begs to be clicked and shared– but the article can’t deliver upon that promise. It’s obviously unreasearched, blatantly misleading on every level, and poorly written. The writers have to strain the limits of belief to build their rather shaky case that a country run by “extremist” libertarians would develop the same problems that plague the communist-controlled China, Cuba, and North Korea.

By the second paragraph Hanauer and Liu have changed their entire premise: libertarians aren’t the problem, it’s the “extremist” or “radical” wing of the party that is the problem. Unfortunately the named are all Republicans, not libertarians, and certainly not part of the “extremist” wing of the party:

Some of the radical libertarians are Ayn Rand fans who divide their fellow citizens into makers, in the mold of John Galt, and takers, in the mold of anyone not John Galt.

Some, such as the Koch brothers, are economic royalists who repackage trickle-down economics as “libertarian populism.” Some are followers of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whose highest aspiration is to shut down government. Some resemble the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who has made a career out of trying to drown, stifle or strangle government.

Yes, liberty is a core American value, and an overweening state can be unhealthy. And there are plenty of self-described libertarians who have adopted the label mainly because they support same-sex marriage or decry government surveillance. These social libertarians aren’t the problem. It is the nihilist anti-state libertarians of the Koch-Cruz-Norquist-Paul (Ron and Rand alike) school who should worry us.

Liu and Hanauer round up the usual capitalist boogey men: Ayn Rand and her ever-pulsing mass of followers, the “sinister 6,” an evil group of superlibertarians featuring: The Koch brothers, AKA the Kochtopus, Rand “Republican Senator from Tennessee” Paul, Ron “Dr. No” Paul, Grover “The Tax Slayer” Norquist, and Ted “I’m not a libertarian, why am I on this list” Cruz. This band of evil anti-statist extremists want nothing more than to destroy the government and plunge America into freedom anarchy.

Lui and Hanauer make the usual mistake of equating anyone who wants to reduce the size of government (no matter how slight) to extremist libertarians. No self-respecting libertarian (must less a radical extremist) would ever include Rand Paul and Ted Cruz in their secret coven, even if they agree with some of their policies. This is where the authors betray their own statist ideology. Even the smallest notion of shrinking the government sends shockwaves through Lui and Hanauer’s entire being. Their reaction to a tiny faction of dedicated but hopelessly outnumbered ideologues is to go nuclear on an entire ideology. They don’t want to marginalize the radical libertarian movement, they want to annihilate anyone who dares think that government is growing too large. To them this means cobbling together a disparate group of politicians and advocates who loosely share a streak of libertarianism into a shadowy group of “extremists” and “radicals” and slandering the hell out of them.

Lui and Hanauer’s premise — which on its own is ridiculous — is quickly revealed to be merely a hit piece on Republican bigwigs and future presidential candidates  Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are almost a lock to run in 2016, and Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers receive nearly daily slandering from the left.

When you compare an ideology that has produced nearly 100 million victims to one that advocates personal freedom and extremely limited government you should probably introduce some evidence into the equation. Alas, there is little evidence to to be found in the article (though they have plenty of hearsay and conjecture. Which are “kinds of evidence.”)

We say the conditional “would” because radical libertarianism has a fatal flaw: It can’t be applied across a functioning society. What might radical libertarians do if they actually had power? A President Paul would rule by tantrum, shutting down the government in order to repeal laws already passed by Congress. A Secretary Norquist would eliminate the Internal Revenue Service and progressive taxation, so that the already wealthy could exponentially compound their advantage, as the programs that sustain a prosperous middle class are gutted. A Koch domestic policy would obliterate environmental standards for clean air and water, so that polluters could externalize all their costs onto other people.

Radical libertarians would be great at destroying. They would have little concept of creating or governing. It is in failed states such as Somalia that libertarianism finds its fullest actual expression.

First of all it would be very hard for a single, lone libertarian in the halls of Washington D.C. to do anything close to the kinds of things that Lui and Hanauer propose would happen. Apparently they have forgotten about the hundreds of Republicans and Democrats lining the aisles of Congress. Secondly, once again the authors fail to name a single libertarian. Thirdly, saying Somalia is the “fullest actual expression” of libertarianism is represents an alarming lack of knowledge about Somalia, libertarianism, world affairs, politics, war, culture, religion, federalism, constitutional law, economics, capitalism, rational arguments (etc. etc.). It’s a gross misrepresentation of libertarianism, and all too common from the statist left. (For future reference I do recommend at least wikipedia-ing “libertarian” before writing about it. Hint, hint)

Some libertarians will claim we are arguing against a straw man and that no serious adherent to their philosophy advocates the extreme positions we describe. The public record of extreme statements by the likes of Cruz, Norquist and the Pauls speaks for itself.

Citations? References? Links? A link to a Google search of “extreme statements by Ron Paul?” Something/Anything?  When you include “speaks for itself” in an article, it usually means, “I heard Ed Schulz bashing him on TV and it sounded pretty convincing.”

The rest of the article is a wan, inarticulate defense of government:  cooperation! Evolving blends of freedom! True citizenship! Buzzwords written for the Sesame Street crowd. Not even worth a copy and paste.

Even if  libertarianism isn’t your political ideology of choice it’s hard to imagine an article that does less to actually link libertarianism and communism together. If Liu and Hanauer had used the headline “radical libertarianism is bad” no one would have batted an eyelash. Even if they had written a well-reasoned, researched article about how they don’t believe libertarianism can work in this global climate, there would be little outrage. But they misrepresented their entire argument in the title, thus ensuring angry libertarians would comment/tweet/write blog rebuttals (wait a second…) and their article would go viral. However, this fails to identify this article’s raison d’etre: It’s a hit piece on the libertarian(ish) conservatives currently flexing their muscles in the House and Senate. Somehow the article paints the (slight) inclination to (possibly) reduce the size of government as a tenet of radical libertarianism. That’s not radical, that’s not even libertarian. That’s very basic conservative, small government-type views. (If you want radical libertarianism try Sheldon Richman on for size.)

Liu and Hanauer subscribe to the standard liberal trope: government is inherently a good and pure institution. All it takes is tinkering and fine-tuning to make it work. To all problems, the solution: more government. But the moment anyone wants to reduce or streamline the massive government bureaucracy, they are viewed as radicals. Liu and Hanauer’s piece is one published in fear and reaction to a growing  inclination amongst the plebeians that government might be growing too big and too powerful for its (or, rather, our) own good.

But all is not lost. When the radical libertarian Rand Paul is elected President in 2016 we, dedicated soldiers of libertarianism will descend on Liu, Hanauer and their ilk, and send them and all enemies of the revolution to prison camps, where they will starve and die. No wait, that’s communism. I’m sorry, I get them confused sometimes too.

If you’ve made it this far you already know; this article was written by Joe Steigerwald. Follow him on twitter @steigerwaldino. Don’t follow him on Facebook, but you can follow The Stag Blog. Look at the other stuff I’ve done: Steigerwald Post

1000992_10100888966231447_827789867_n1) Every knee-jerk patriot who so loves his loyalty to flag and country is celebrating treason right now. Yes, treason.

2) The Declaration of Independence is a dynamite piece of work, it really is.

3) Bill Pullman’s presidential speech before the final battle in Independence Day. Tell me he doesn’t give his all.

4) The X version of “Fourth of July”, which I played on my radio show yesterday afternoon. It’s such a gut-wrencher in many different ways. What a ridiculously great song. In order of quality of versions it goes 1) X 2) Drunk Matt Welch 3) Dave Alvin, for what that’s worth.

5) Maybe the bad-ass words of the Founders have melted into offensive hypocrisy, perhaps they did right away (or by the time John Adams rolled into office with his Sedition Act shenanigans), but again, that Deceleration is a kick-ass “fuck you” to people getting involved your business of living.

Hell, the World War I Christmas Truce failed, but I still think about and toast it every December 24. Maybe I could celebrate, if nothing else, the sheer audacity of people throwing off their King and saying, nah, we can do better. Henry David Thoreau wasn’t the perfect American woodsman, but his Civil Disobedience does the poetry of liberty better than anything. There’s a place for the pretty words of even the Founders. They knew. They knew so well the dangers of government tyranny and they still were all awful presidents — thereby proving their warnings that it’s the power that’s the problem.

6) Yes, six. I think under my libertarian anarchism there is some stupid, poetic core that wants America to be what its reputation says it is. You know, that wacky, anti-collectivist nation. The world’s cool Bohemian cousin who is kind of scary, but captivating. The life of the party. Can you imagine if we really were the bad-ass, individualist, cranky, cool nation of only Lysander Spooners and Rose Wilder Lanes? Who kept to ourselves, but always left the front door open to immigrants?

That’d be nice.

The fact that I have a lingering disappointment in America always surprises me. We’ve got such great geography, history, folklore, culture. We could have been a contender…We could have been the America that conservatives tell themselves that we always were and are and forever will be. (But better, cause we’d also have Mexicans and gay people.)

And now my patriotism for the year is done. Because again I’m wondering and worrying over where America’s trimmings of liberty are what keeps people from realizing how bad it is, and how much worse it can get. We have the amendments, we have that wonderful document of (mostly) negative liberties (God, what an awesome idea), and then we have a million tiny chips in each one. The Fourth is in particularly bad shape, but since it’s still there in law, are we going to notice if it becomes utterly meaningless, like my friend Bob’s sandals that were eventually held together only with duct tape?

Is it ever going to feel like a people in the street, this time it’s serious, this time we make a stand moment in a nation devoted to pretty words about being the freest place in the world? Are we just lulling ourselves to sleep by repeating what we were supposed to be as a country? What kind of shield is a piece of paper, anyway?

I am a real American,
Fight the rights of everyman
I am a real American,
Fight for what’s right, fight for your life!

Whatcha gonna do, brother, when Hannity-a-mania runs wild on you?

It’s really only a matter a time before Sean Hannity adopts Hulk Hogan’s entrance song “I Am A Real American” for his own show. After all, no one embodies the American spirit quite like Hannity. A beacon of freedom, he uses his pulpit as the host of “Hannity” shining his light of freedom across the land and Sniffing out anti-American sentiment like a young Joe McCarthy fresh out of the Marine Corps.

Hannity’s latest target is Adam Levine, the Obama-loving, angel-voiced judge of NBC’s “The Voice.” His crime? America Hating. Levine muttered “I hate this country” after two of his chosen singers were eliminated by popular vote and fortunately for the concerned denizens of America, his utterance was picked up by his microphone. Even worse, Levine said it a mere two days after Memorial Day, one of the more American holidays.

On Wednesday Sean Hannity took to the airwaves along with tag-team partner Michelle Fields to lay the smackdown on “heel” Tamara Holder and an absent Adam Levine playing the part of the Iron Sheihk

I’d love to say that only Hannity would make the ridiculous connection of an off-the-cuff remark made by Adam Levine out of frustration, to actually hating “America,” but when there are idiots like Todd Starnes afoot it’s safe to say that America noticed what Levine said, and they are pissed.

What’s worse, some of us have to watch Sean Hannity fake debate with Tamara Holder and Michelle Fields over who hates America more, conservatives or liberals. If it resembles pro wrestling, it’s no accident.

Unfortunately, instead of actually making a valid point — like maybe “this is stupid,” or “why are we doing this segment?” or “he was probably referring to the people of America who voted off his contestants and not a de facto statement about the country” “Fox “liberal” Tamara Holder starts off by saying it’s the conservatives who truly hate America. Michelle Fields counters by saying he shouldn’t have said it because of the “sons and daughters” and “mothers and fathers” that lost their lives. It looks like Holder will win the fight until…

My God, that’s Sean Hannity’s music!

If you can’t get past 1:25 of the video without proclaiming “I hate America!” I don’t blame you. By the end of the segment, Holder and Fields are arguing about the merits of MILF’s and Hannity is waving around a hundred dollar bill.

There is no plausible argument to make that would make Adam Levine out to be the bad guy in this situation. Attack him for making Overexposed or being a huge Obama backer, but his words were innocuous, misinterpreted, and not worthy of 2 seconds of debate.

Adam Levine doesn’t hate “this country” he just hates all the rotten tween voters who kicked off the ¨wrong¨ contestants.

As for Fox News and the rest of conservative America, lighten up, you have Benghazi, the IRS and the DOJ scandals to slam liberals about, leave poor Adam Levine alone.