Archive for the 'Popular Culture' Category

Legalizing Immorality

Posted by on Feb 21 2013 | Capitol Crazies, Civil Rights, Popular Culture, PPC

The Colorado Legislature is considering repealing a very old, unenforced law banning adultery and criminalizing innkeepers for renting rooms to unmarried couples. Looking for a trusted leader of morality and virtue in our community, the sponsor of the bill repealing the law asked me to testify for it.

Let me make very clear that the Independence Institute doesn’t wade into social issues and has no official stance on the bill. So allow me to speak solely for myself on this issue.

There are busloads of married women who wish to sleep with me but are prevented from doing so solely by this outdated law. Binders full of them. And no, this is not just bravado speaking. In some of their applications for restraining orders against me they have mentioned this law specifically.

Oh yes, there is a limited government argument here as well. Having laws on the books that are not enforced leaves them open to abuse, to be used for selective harassment. The law, and its enforcement, should apply to all, not just to a few. Inn-keepers shouldn’t have to worry that if they become crosswise with some government official, an obscure law can make them a criminal. And while this legislature is now passing similar harassment laws to be selectively used against gun owners, the least they can do is repeal some old ones.

But that’s not why I support its repeal.

Here is a partial list of the married women I plan to make time with should this bill pass:

Selma Hayek

Angelina Jolie

Halle Berry

Marcia Brady

Nicole Kidman

The young Sophia Loren

Faith Hill

The old Sophia Loren

Margaret Thatcher

That chick in the bikini from the “Tab” commercial when I was a kid

Blondie Bumstead (what’s she doing with Dagwood I’ll never understand)

Aunt Bea, but I’ve been in therapy for that.

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Mark Waller And “Commie Cowboys” On Devil’s Advocate This Week

Posted by on Jan 10 2013 | criminal justice, Idiot Box (TV Show), Popular Culture, PPC

Be sure and tune in to the Independence Institute’s public affairs television show Devil’s Advocate this week. First, Colorado House Minority Leader Mark Waller sits down with host Jon Caldara to talk about why it has been so hard to cut the Colorado corrections budget and close empty prisons, even as the prison population is steadily declining. Then local author Ryan McMaken comes by to discuss his new book “Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoise and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.” That’s this Friday night starting at 8:30 pm on Colorado public Television 12.

You can look up your local CPT12 channel by zip code here.

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South Park’s Top 10 Greatest Free-Market Hits

Posted by on Nov 28 2012 | Media, Politics, Popular Culture, PPC

One of the reasons Freedom is in retreat is that the Left creates the narrative. They tell the stories. They write the songs. They make the jokes. Our culture’s entertainment is almost solely the purview of the Left. And hidden inside those stories and tunes and jokes are the messages of collectivism and political correctness. Artists and entertainers have become the greatest sales force for command-and-control authoritarianism.

For the most part we on team Liberty just suck at entertainment. I mean we stink at it, and for a whole bunch of reasons: our team is prudish, stale, peevish and as easy to be offended as a Women’s Studies professor. We are great in communicating within our own team. We like to sing to our choir. News flash: our choir keeps getting smaller. And we keep losing.

But the biggest reason we can’t sell our message in entertainment is that when we try, we lead with the message and then attempt to make the entertainment fit around it. Think of the failed Fox News’ Half Hour News Hour or the comedy movie An American Carol. If you haven’t seen them or even heard of them, I rest my case.

The Left knows how to lead with entertainment first, not message. The humor and jokes, the compelling tale, and the great music come first. Then they slip in the message, insults and whiny lyrics. “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live” go for the yucks first. If that doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter what the message is;- no one will hear it. (By the way, I want to become Jack Donaghy. Damn Alec Baldwin.)

Freedom, however, has at least one outlet in Hollywood that makes people laugh and, maybe by no intentional way, weaves in pro-liberty messages – South Park.

This raunchy animated show on Comedy Central does what almost no one on the Right does: it reaches people who might not consider themselves limited-government fans, then convinces them that they just might be.

South Park‘s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, like me, survived the fascist political correctness and forced liberalism of the University of Colorado. That compelled me into politics. It drove them into show business. I’d submit they do a better job illustrating the danger of overly burdensome government than I do.

So, here it is, the list of all lists, the one you’ve been waiting for – the top 10 free market, limited government, stop-the-nanny-state episodes of South Park. WARNING: this show is immature, childish, highly offensive, and just plain gross. I wonder why I like it. Did I mention it’s offensive? Watch at your own risk.

  • #10: ManBearPig – Former Vice-President, Al Gore, speaks to the students of South Park Elementary about a serious threat to the planet; Manbearpig. Gore enlists the boy’s help to search for the elusive creature and gets them all trapped in a cave-in.
  • #9: Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes – The Main Street of South Park starts looking like a ghost town when a giant Wall Mart lures all the townspeople to its newest store with all of its incredible bargains. Cartman becomes possessed by the power of Wall Mart and its low, low prices. In order to save South Park, Stan and Kyle have to find a way to destroy the ever-expanding superstore while keeping Cartman from stabbing them in the back.
  • #8: Follow that Egg! – Mrs. Garrison realizes that he still has feelings for Mr. Slave. But, Mr. Slave has moved on and plans to marry his new love as soon as the governor signs the same-sex marriage bill. Mrs. Garrison leads the charge against gay marriage.
  • #7: I’m a Little Bit Country – The boys join some anti-war protesters because it’s a free pass out of school for the day. Their simple plan to protest their way out of class goes south when they find themselves in the middle of the two opposing sides of the issue. Meanwhile, Cartman attempts a flashback to 1776 to avoid studying for his American History assignment.
  • #6: Death Camp of Tolerance – Mr. Garrison desperately tries to get fired from his new job as South Park Elementary’s 4th grade teacher and presents his assistant, Mr. Slave. Meanwhile, the boys get sent to the Deathcamp of Intolerance for not tolerating Mr. Garrison’s intolerable behavior. Lemmiwinks the gerbil guest-stars.
  • #5: Medicinal Fried Chicken – A new Colorado Law makes smoking marijuana legal, as long as you’ve got a physician’s reference. Randy’s first in line but is denied because of his pristine health record. Desperate to get a medical excuse, he takes some ballsy measures. Meanwhile, Cartman faces the ultimate crisis when all of his favorite fried chicken restaurants are replaced with medicinal marijuana shops.
  • #4: Butt Out – Representatives from the anti-smoking campaign rap about the dangers of smoking for the children of South Park. For fear of growing up to be giant nerds, the boys decide to take up the nasty habit.
  • #3: Reverse Cowgirl – One of the boys had been told time and time again about leaving the toilet seat up after he goes to the bathroom, but he didn’t listen. His actions have consequences and ultimately result in an unimaginable catastrophe.
  • #2: Gnomes – Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny are assigned to write a report with Tweek, the very nervous and highly caffeinated boy who insists gnomes are stealing his underpants. When they are unable to come up with a topic, Tweek’s father offers to write the paper, and uses this opportunity to vent his frustration at the corporate juggernaut Harbuck’s Coffee and its attempt to drive him out of business. Meanwhile, the boys try to stay awake to see if the underpants gnomes truly exist.
  • #1: Smug Alert – Kyle and his family are moving to San Francisco. The only way Stan can get his best friend back is to convince everyone to start driving hybrid cars. Just as everyone starts to feel really good about what they’re doing for the environment, scientists discover a stormy, dark mass accumulating over the town.
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    Reasons to Get High… No Really

    Posted by on Nov 21 2012 | Drug Policy, Economics, Polls, Popular Constitutionalism, Popular Culture, PPC, Public Opinion, Regulation, Tenth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

    There are some good reasons to get high on pot.

    The Independence Institute held no position on Amendment 64, legalizing recreational marijuana. And I know not everyone is thrilled about Colorado becoming the Amsterdam of America. But like it or not, it is in our state constitution.

    So let me throw out this idea – even if you hate pot being legal, there are some great victories for limited government hidden inside this issue.

    First, we finally have a state-rights issue that the Left can, must and will understand and fight to preserve.

    Marijuana is still very illegal by federal law, but now it’s protected by our state constitution. I am no legal expert on the U.S. Constitution, but I don’t see anything in it that gives the Feds power over Colorado on this one. But what the hell do I know? I didn’t see anything in it that could let the Feds tax us for not buying health insurance.

    Pardon me for stealing this phrase, but, this is a great teachable moment. This is a massive opportunity for those of us who fear the growing central authority in D.C. Some portion of the Left will now agree with us. We need to embrace this challenge and take a lead in educating Coloradans about the Tenth Amendment before the Left tries to pervert it somehow.

    In order for those who support pot to keep in legal in Colorado, they MUST embrace the Founders’ ideal of Federalism. And I believe we need to help them understand the power of this simple ideal, and why it applies to a whole lot more than weed.

    But if you hate Amendment 64 and wish it smothered out of existence, the only way that can happen now is if you embrace what the Left embraces: federal power trumping the expressed wishes of a sovereign state. Perhaps, like health insurance, the Feds can tax us for not purchasing dope, but they’ll have to pervert the Constitution (again) to override the vote in Colorado.

    Here’s the second little prize in Amendment 64. Legalized pot MIGHT force some on the Left to face their hypocrisies, like their confusion on property rights and freedom of association.

    In Colorado, it is illegal for an owner of a private establishment to allow tobacco smoking in their bar or restaurant. No one here is free to enjoy a cigar and a steak, or a cigarette and a cup of coffee, in the same place and time. Smokers cannot freely associate with other smokers, enjoying their legal product, in private establishments. Smokers are treated like lepers. My elitist hometown of Boulder is about ready to make smoking outdoors on the Pearl Street Mall illegal. Now that about 65% of Boulder voted for pot, will pot smokers and their business owners be treated like their tobacco-smoking brethren?

    Tobacco is taxed at an exorbitant rate, regulated to the point of making it a controlled substance. State cigarette tax windfalls are spent on childhood reading programs and building sidewalks. Will the state heap wild sin taxes on pot and spend that money in ways that have nothing to do it?

    I am looking forward to owners and customers of pot businesses opening their eyes (if they can pry their baked eyes open) to how abusive regulation destroys what they are trying to build.

    We have a problem getting our message of limited government outside of our own echo chamber. If you doubt that, I’ll remind you of the last election. Well, here’s an uncomfortable opportunity to try something different.

    Let’s channel our best Voltaire: I disagree with your decision to legalize pot, but I’ll defend to the death your state’s right to do it.

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    Primary Voting, Cartoonist Kenny Be on Devil’s Advocate

    Posted by on Feb 10 2012 | denver, Idiot Box (TV Show), Politics, Polls, Popular Culture, PPC

    Look, we already know how tonight’s blind date is going to turn out, so instead, stay in and watch the Independence Institute’s public affairs TV show Devil’s Advocate. First, syndicated columnist Jay Ambrose sits down with me to discuss the odds of Republican primary voters picking a candidate who can’t beat Barack Obama in a general election. Then Kenny Be swings by to talk about his many years as the editorial cartoonist for Westword; Denver’s alternative weekly newspaper. That’s Friday at 8:30 p.m. on Colorado Public Television 12.

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    Mercedes-Benz: The car for people who admire mass-murdering racist totalitarian thugs

    Posted by on Jan 11 2012 | Popular Culture, Racism, Thuggery, Uncategorized

    Mercedes-Benz’s latest marketing ploy is to associate itself with Che Guevera. Over at the Huffington Post, Michael Gonzalez (Heritage Foundation) supplies the details.

    It’s not surprising that a corporation which is currently pro-Che was pro-Hitler, far more so than many other German businesses during the Third Reich. As recounted in Cecil Adams’ “The Straight Dope”:

    Daimler-Benz . . . avidly supported Nazism and in return received arms contracts and tax breaks that enabled it to become one of the world’s leading industrial concerns. (Between 1932 and 1940 production grew by 830 percent.) During the war the company used thousands of slaves and forced laborers including Jews, foreigners, and POWs. According to historian Bernard Bellon (Mercedes in Peace and War, 1990), at least eight Jews were murdered by DB managers or SS men at a plant in occupied Poland.

    UPDATE: Regarding Eugene’s post, immediately above. My own view would be that a corporation is a collection of individuals (and, I agree with him, therefore entitled to free speech and other constitutional rights); in the same sense, a human body is a collection of cells. Over time, all of the individuals in a corporation may change; likewise, the collection of cells that constitute “David Kopel” is today very different from the collection that constituted “David Kopel” 45 years ago. Yet the corporate body, like the human body, has a continuing existence as the same entity. (That’s one of the benefits of incorporation.) Corporations sometimes have cultures or other enduring traits that distinguish them even while their individual members may be replaced. It would be accurate to say that Yale Law School is a corporation that places far higher value of scholarly prestige than on teaching ability, and this was true not only today, but also 40 years ago, even though the Yale faculty is now entirely different. (Yes, to be precise, Yale Law School is just a unit within the larger corporation of Yale University.) None of the original personnel at National Review magazine are still there, but one can find many similarities between the corporate culture and mission of NR in 1955 and 2011. That the various corporations of the Ivy League schools discriminated against Jews in the 1920s is, in my view, of some relevance in understanding their current discrimination against Asians. That Mercedes-Benz was, compared to other German corporations, unusually supportive to Hitler then, and is similarly unusual (compared to other German corporations) in its attitude towards Che today, suggests that the corporation may lack an internal self-regulator which recognizes the wrongfulness of extolling totalitarian thugs.

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    My “last” late night show tonight.

    Posted by on Jan 06 2012 | Politics, Popular Culture, PPC, Press, Purely Personal

    Tonight at 10 pm mountain I broadcast my last late night edition of my 850 KOA radio show. Sorry to disappoint you, but no, I am not leaving Denver radio. But I will be getting some sleep. I’ll still be filling in for all your favs like Boyles, Rosen, Caplis and gang. Also I be hosting my own show on 630 KHOW Sunday evenings. I’ll tell you all about it tonight.

    The important thing is that we stay in touch. My Facebook page is filled to the maximum 5000 friends, so PLEASE “like” my fan page by clicking here.

    Also please follow me on Twitter by clicking here.

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    Mary Katharine Ham – ATF Party 2011

    Posted by on Jul 27 2011 | Events, guns, Popular Culture, PPC

    If you were crazy enough to miss our 9th annual ATF Party this past Saturday, you missed the very funny and entertaining keynote speaker Mary Katharine Ham. But as always, we’ve got you covered. Below you will find the YouTube playlist of Mary Katharine’s remarks and the Q and A that followed.

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    NRA Convention report

    Posted by on May 17 2010 | guns, NRA Annual Meeting, Politics, Popular Culture

    (David Kopel)

    The NRA’s annual members meeting was held last weekend, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since I’ve been going to these events for the last two decades, I’d like to offer a report on how the Convention has changed over the years, and some thoughts about the NRA’s past and present.

    First of all, the annual meeting grown from “large” to “enormous.” This year’s convention drew 72,128 NRA members. It’s now so big that relatively few US cities have convention facilities that can accommodate it. The 2010 meeting was the largest event ever held in the city of Charlotte, and the people of Charlotte were very welcoming, and the facilities were well-run.

    The Exhibit Hall, where manufacturers of firearms, hunting gear, and related accessories show off their products to consumers, was a three mile walk, if you went through each row. The shooting industry’s annual trade show (SHOT — Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades) is even bigger, but you have to be a firearms retailer, or otherwise engaged in the firearms business, in order to be able to attend SHOT. So for most persons, the NRA exhibit hall is the best opportunity ever to examine products close up, talk to manufacturer’s representatives, and so on. As has become the norm in recent years, the exhibit hall was so full most of the day Saturday that it was difficult to walk at more than a slow space. (Friday and Sunday were easier.)

    Traditionally, the highlight (at least for me) has been the annual members’ banquet on Saturday evening. Last year in Phoenix, the banquet set the record as “the largest meal ever served in the state of Arizona.” Even then, there were many people who wanted to attend, but could not get tickets. So this year, the banquet was replaced by an evening event at the nearby basketball arena (the Time-Warner Cable Center), which drew 11,754 to hear a Charlie Daniels concert, plus speeches by Glenn Beck and Newt Gingrich, as well as by NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre.

    A notable addition in recent years is the Friday afternoon “Celebration of American Values” leadership forum. This too took place at the basketball arena. As Jim Geraghty of National Review Online reported, the event now serves as a cattle call for politicians who may have national ambitions.  Speakers this year included Sarah Palin, John Thune, Haley Barbour, and Mike Pence, plus North Carolina Democratic Congressman Heath Shuler. The CAV is a relatively recent addition to the Annual Meeting. Because the Saturday banquet can only accommodate one or two headline speakers, the CAV provides NRA with an additional opportunity to build relationships with leading political figures.

    New media were present, with NRA staff twittering the convention for the first time, plus the now-established events for the dozens of “gun bloggers” who attend. The most prominent “new media” at the convention was NRA News, the NRA’s satellite radio program which airs three hours every weekday on Sirius (and, starting today, also on XM) as well as on the Internet. NRA News had a studio on the convention floor, and broadcast nearly round the clock over the weekend. [For NRA News video of the weekend’s speeches, go the NRA News website, and then look in the video archives for May 14 or 15.]

    The Continuing Legal Education seminar at the Annual Meeting has been in operation for about a decade and half, a Friday program that provides hundreds of lawyers with eight hours of low-cost CLE, and greatly helps to expand the number of lawyers who have the knowledge to handle firearms cases–whether the case is an administrative law issue for a licensed firearms dealer, or a constitutional defense.

    Among the interesting presenters at the CLE was Stephen Halbrook, discussing his draft article for the Northeastern Law Review symposium, in which he commented on this passage in Chicago’s brief (p. 19, n. 9) in McDonald: incorporation “would raise questions whether a weapon generally in common use for lawful purposes in one locale (such as a high-powered hunting rifle with precision sighting equipment popular in rural Illinois) must be allowed elsewhere, precluding a ban on use by Chicago gangs seeking to assassinate rivals.”

    Stated another way, Chicago wants the legal option to ban ordinary rifles used for hunting deer and other big game. Rifles which, by the way, are currently owned by Chicago residents, and are lawfully used by them for hunting and target shooting. Chicago’s argument certainly refutes the notion that nobody in the gun control movement wishes to ban hunting long guns.

    Throughout the three days of the convention, there are seminars on all kinds of topics, from hunting to self-defense to firearms history. The one I attended was Sniper: Myths and the Media & Winning the Sniping War in Iraq. Major John Plaster gave a very interesting presentation on the sniper war in Iraq from 2004 to 2008, perhaps the most extended sniper conflict in the history of warfare. He explained how the Iraqi insurgents nearly won that conflict in 2005-06, and how the U.S. forces finally turned the tide by changing their tactics, and bringing in substantial additional resources, including forensics teams who could lift fingerprints from recovered insurgent guns.

    But the main reason I went was for the other speaker, Stephen Hunter, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun. Now retired from newspapers, Hunter is a novelist, and in his most recent mystery-adventure novel, I, Sniper, I am a very minor character. It’s the first time I have ever appeared in a novel, so like a Pirandello character in search of his author, I made sure to say hello to him, and get him to sign my book.

    In sum, the NRA Annual Meeting showcased an organization that is strong and getting stronger, largely because of its increasing ability to mobilize the grassroots. Twentyfive years ago, if you joined the NRA, you got a monthly magazine, plus direct mail requests for additional donations, and occasional legislative alerts. Now, the NRA is in touch with its members daily (at least the members who want daily updates) via NRA News, the website, e-mails, blogs, and so on. As the Annual Meeting continues to scale up, the organizers are doing a solid job of giving members the opportunity not only to be part of very large crowds, but also to participate in smaller events with one-on-one conversations.

    Throughout the meeting, at event after event, the key word was not “rifle” or “gun.” In Charlotte, as at every convention for at least the last ten years, the word was “American.” This is reflected in part in the genuine veneration which the NRA, at all levels, has for the American armed forces. The NRA membership and staff have a high proportion of military veterans, and at any convention event, a call-out to the active duty soldiers typically leads to a standing ovation.

    But more broadly, the NRA considers itself the embodiment of American patriotism, as the direct descendant of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. This isn’t a point about constitutional originalism, but it is a point about four million people who have never thought that it was uncool to be patriotic, and who very much see themselves as carrying forward the sacred flame of liberty that was lit in 1776, was fought for on the beaches at Normandy and Guadalcanal, and which is based on eternal truth.

    Like any social and political movement, the NRA at times defines itself as oppositional–as resisting “the anti-gun mainstream media,” or Bill Clinton, or Michael Bloomberg. But the National Rifle Association of America is incapable of being oppositional to America itself, or of imagining itself to be countercultural. Founded in 1871 by Union army officers, and led in its early days by bipartisan Union Generals (such as retired U.S. President U.S. Grant, a Republican; and Winfield Scott Hancock, “the hero of Gettysburg” and the 1884 Democratic presidential nominee), the NRA has always defined itself as the mainstream of America. Probably the only civic organization whose membership has included more U.S. Presidents than the NRA is the Boy Scouts–and that’s because the Boy Scouts make every U.S. President into their honorary President. In short, Whig history is alive and well at the NRA, and based on the present and past successes of NRA in shaping American culture as a gun culture, that view of history cannot be said to be inaccurate.


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