Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gregory Paul: Libertarian America

Libertarian America: What the Ayn-Rand-Paulian Wing of the Tea Party Really Wants the USA to Become
By Gregory Paul article link
June 5, 2010 | OpEdNews

There is a strong libertarian streak to the Tea Party crowd. In some recent elections where they have had an impact, such as the election of Ron Brown to the late Ted Kennedy's seat, the TPs held their noses as they voted for a nonlibertarian, moderate Republican in order to bump off one of them socialist Democrats. But TPs scored a big coup when they shot down the establishment Republican primary candidate for a Kentucky Senate seat and elected a full blown libertarian, Rand Paul, son of the equally fervent liberty ideologue Ron Paul. And a couple of days later Rachel Maddow put a great big Type-93 super torpedo into the ship that is libertarianism, the Tea Party, and Paul's candidacy by simply and repeatedly asking the latter whether or not he thinks it should be illegal for businesses to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex and so forth Paul had announced his candidacy on her show awhile back and had no idea tht he was sailing into such dangerous waters. It was fun in that cringy, squirmy way to watch the supposedly principled Paul devolve into the run of the mill politician who can taste the power if only he can get elected weave and dodge Maddow's question like he was a ship chasing salvos without actually answering with the plain truth.

Libertarianism manages to be both extremely conservative, extremely liberal, and solidly centrist all at the same time. This is achieved by running a single principle -- individual liberty -- into the ground of real world practicality. Actually libertarians are not really for total liberty, that's called anarchy in which government does not exist. But libertarians think that although government and regulations called laws are a necessary evil mainly to prevent basic criminal activities and slavery, as well as provide the basis for property rights and title recording -- they should and must be very, very minimalist. Socialism is -- with the exception of the military an intolerable moral evil. Also beyond the pale are government regulations of individual and mercantile activity. Taking a person's wealth via taxes upon penalty of the law beyond the very lowest amount needed to run a civilization is another ethical evil. It is all about personal responsibility, backed by private charity. In Libertarian World the main determinant of societal results is Darwinian selection of the free market as determined by the profit motive. Many libertarians are religious, usually in the Christian context which is rather odd in that the New Testament goes to lengths to describe the ideal Christian society as so socialist that a married couple that fails to turn over their property to the church is executed by God (it's in Acts). It is also ironic and rather inconsistent that the main opponents to Darwinian science are socioeconomic Darwinists. (And it is a major public education failure of progressives to better expose and exploit the hypocrisy of these amazing contradictions.) However a substantial portion of libertarians are god skeptics. Most of all the uberlibertarian Ayn Rand who has become an economic goddess to many theocons including Glen Beck, she was as hard core atheist as one can get.

By the way, lots of people call themselves libertarians including I see Muslim apostate and atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Real Time With Bill Maher as I write part of this -- who are not even close to meeting the definition of the term. If you think it is a good thing for government to intervene in a major way in personal or business affairs in a few regards -- such as preventing abortions, or regulating Wall Street, or preventing bigotry in private enterprise -- but not in most others, then you are not the libertarian you think you are. You are cherry picking your issues. Anybody can do that. It's like someone who endorses a degree of capitalism calling themselves a communist. Here are the labeling rules. If you are against the government interfering in personal and cultural affairs in any manner but think that state involvement in economic matters should be extensive then you can call yourself a SOCIAL libertarian. If on the other hand you think the government should keep hands off our financial liberties but want it to crack down on the culture then you qualify as an ECONOMIC libertarian. But only if you want the state pretty much entirely out of both spheres are you a real LIBERTARIAN.

The intention of this entertaining to write piece is to give those who oppose the Tea Party movement a whole lot information they can deploy against the cause. In the process those who do not know all that much about the ideology can get a much better sense of what America would be like if full blown libertarianism becomes the American paradigm which it won't as I explain later. Please note I am not selecting items in order to show libertarians in a consistently bad light. Heck, I as a semi-social libertarian and economic progressive favor some of the below ideas. But only some. So here we go.

In libertarian America all drugs will be openly legal, and you would be free to put anything into your sovereign body you like. This would effectively undermine the criminal drug industry the same way the repeal of prohibition damaged organized bootlegging. And the massive American prison gulag, which is large than that of China's, would be largely emptied.

Restrictions on sales of alcohol will be eliminated.

Receiving payment for sex would be legal across the country, making those Nevada counties the national norm.

There will be no restrictions on adult oriented porn.

Any form of sex between consenting adults of any sex will remain legal.

Abortion on demand (at least early term) would remain safe and legal.

The national day of prayer is an iffy proposition according to some libertarians.

On the grounds of free speech and free private association it would be legal for the owner of a restaurant to post a sign saying "Whites Only Niggers, Kikes, Wetbacks, and Redskins Not Allowed." Or, "Blacks Only Honkies, Kikes, Wetbacks, Redskins and Atheists Not Allowed." Restrooms in privately operated enterprises could be segregated. A major corporation could hire only one race, or one sex. Renters may be denied housing by a landlord on the basis of his or her bigotry. Real estate covenants banning "those people" could make a come back. You get the idea. It would remain acceptable for governmental discrimination to be banned, and most libertarians do back flips denying that they are racists, sexist and the like. They usually, and in many if not most cases sincerely, decry bigotry. A good number are pro-gay. They just think that others should be free to express their bigotry in ways that impact upon real people. Libertarians contend that the age of segregation is past, and few institutions would dare be so business foolish to exclude a portion of the population. It is plausible that wide spread business bigotry would not return, but there is every reason to expect that some proprietors would hang out exclusionary signs. Especially in the southeast. That would mean we would live in a country where walking down mainstreet on a nice sunny day to do a little shopping could result in coming across one or more grotesquely obscene signs. Children will see the bigot boards and have to be told what they mean. Good and decent people will fight back by reviving the civil rights movement, organizing sit down strikes in bigoted businesses. The police will have to evict the trespassers. The strife will be permanent. If a growing portion of the population decides a segregated society is a good idea, then there will be no legal means to prevent a return to a new Jim Crow. But the bigots will be free to pursue their liberty to be bigots.

No governmental budget deficits would be allowed.

Income and estate taxes will be eliminated. Maybe property taxes too. Libertarians debate exactly what types of taxes will be left over. But what you can count on is that what few taxes remain will be as little as is needed to run a bare bones government that runs the executive, legislative and court branches, plus the small military needed to directly defend American territory.

The United States will not engage in any wars on foreign soil. Overseas naval actions will be at best limited to fighting piracy, but regular payments to pirates may be used as an alternative. Whether the USN will oppose other nations trying to limit freedom of the seas is also up for grabs.

Israel will be on its own.

There will be no foreign alliances.

There would be no foreign aid.

The United States will withdraw from the United Nations which according to some is scheming to impose one world government (and will have to move its headquarters elsewhere if it still exists).

Disabled person would enjoy no governmental aid and protection when it comes to access to private facilities and workplace protection. They can take their business to those enterprises business savvy enough to satisfy their needs. If most don't that's a shame.

All roads that can be supported by tolls will be privatized. Those that cannot will be paid for by tax fees on those who travel on them, perhaps on fuel, or mileage. There will be no government support for passenger rail, or urban subways, trolleys and the like.

The FAA will be disbanded as the airlines are allowed to run their own affairs. Economic self-interest will ensure that the airlines keep their passenger safe while providing the best economically viable service. That's the theory.

NASA will not exist. If people want to go up to space then they can raise the capital needed for commercial extraterrestrial enterprises. The sending of probes to other planets, moons, asteroids comets etc will presumably cease due to their lack of commercial viability better than forcing unwilling citizens to pay for them via taxes.

No public works dams, canals, irrigation complexes, powerplants, airports, etc would be paid for by taxpayers, they would all be built and maintained by private interests. There would be no regulation of the process on environmental grounds.

They will be no minimum wage. Or government enforced maximum hours worked or over time. There will be no maximum limit on wages and bonuses.

A lender will be able to charge any interest rate on any terms that they find saleable and profitable.

There will be no Social Security.

All government funding for medical research will cease. The CDC is not likely to survive.

The government will have no role in providing health care to any American of any age. If you lack the resources to produce the massive funds for the procedure/s needed to save your life and cannot garner sufficient familial of charitable support then its your own failure of personal responsibility for not accumulating the wealth needed to ensure your well being. Don't expect the government to force others to cough up the money. You got a problem with that? Then move to France or Canada.

Governmental welfare of all types will be eliminated, so the governmental safety net will be entirely absent. Any person in need of any financial assistance at any age will have to rely entirely upon family or private charity. Note that faith-based charities shall receive no government assistance.

Governmental housing assistance will not exist. This includes the tax subsidies for middle and upper income mortgages.

No more government run and enforced do not call list. That's an outrageous violation of the right of telemarketers to their right to conduct commerce. Citizens may be able to sign up for voluntary do not call lists that telemarketers are not obliged to honor. If you don't like all the operator and robocalls then use caller ID to screen them or hang up.

All environmental laws will be repealed as the EPA is dismantled. Oil companies drilling off shore, for instance, will not be hampered by any government regulations. This should not concern Americans because for reasons of self-interest corporations will naturally strive to do everything possible to prevent major spills. BP, for example, will not wish to lose money if one their rigs is destroyed by explosions and fire. The ensuring loss of enormous quantities of oil is another monetary loss, as are lawsuits by those adversely impacted by the spill. Loss of sales due to bad publicity is another reason for the oil giants to run tight ships. However, as Rand Paul has noted, folks should not be unrealistic because -- as Elvis Costello noted -- accidents will happen. And as Paul is contending, those who dare criticize the corporations who are working hard to make our lives better for the occasional inevitable slip up are as un-American as the progressive socialist Obama. Likewise, competent ranchers will not overgraze their land in order to maintain its long term earning potential, and those foolish enough to ruin their property will pay the consequences.

There will be no farm subsidies.

All corporate welfare will cease to exist.

Don't even begin to think of stimulus programs, job programs, Wall Street bailouts, bank bailouts, FDIC bank deposit insurance or bank takeovers or anything along those lines.

There will be no subsidies or tax breaks for nuclear power or clean alternative energy sources. Nor for energy conservation. If clean alternative energy sources can prove themselves in the free market then great. If not them's the breaks.

The energy industry will be free to extract and burn all the fossil fuels they deem profitable in any manner they desire.

The national park system is pure socialism. Same for all government held lands. So they must all be sold to private interests. Consider the Grand Canyon. The progressive imperialist Republican Theodore Roosevelt objected to the construction of a hotel overhanging the Canyon Rim, so it is merely on the edge. In Libertarian America developers would be free to build high rise hotels and condos lining the rim of the canyon, as well as theme parks, the only factor determining their extent being their ability to generate profits for their capitalist investors. Similar facilities will crowd the floor of Yosemite Valley, visitors may enjoy the thrill of riding trams up the soaring face of El Capitan, and an extensive tollroad network can allow folks to experience the entire park by car. Yosemite and Yellowstone can be clear-cut, forests no longer being protected by the government. Some suggest such events can be prevented by land use restricting title covenants before the first sale to private owners. But true libertarians recognize that this is a form of never ending government regulation that grossly limits free enterprise. Private conservation organizations like Nature Conservancy who are highly dependent upon corporations for financial support -- can save those properties that they can scrape up the funds for.

Free speech will remain free. Go ahead and argue for progressive socioeconomic policies or a ban on prostitution and abortion all you want. The libertarians will be similarly free to denounce their critics as un-American. Bonus liberty -- you can use any profanity you prefer in any public space.

With the FCC liquidated the late George Carlin will finally win the broadcast radio and television profanity wars as networks become free to run any language, sexual and violent content at any time they wish. If you don't like what you are seeing and/or hearing then change channels or stations to those who internally ban such content to attract the priggish crowd if any do so. And no one is forcing you to own a radio or TV.

No limitations on campaign contributions by individuals or corporations.

There will be no laws or regulations preventing the formation of trusts and monopolies. In libertarian theory this will not be a problem because lower cost competition will always arise to bring down the trusts.

Except for outright fraudulent ponzi type pyramids, financers will be able to devise and promote any sort of investment scheme they wish. This is workable because economists have long assumed that humans as rational and well informed entities that normally make wise financial decisions that serve their best interests, not as emotion driven beings that tend to act on a combination of base greed and fears that cause them to act like herd animals following the latest financial fad or panicking when things go south. The market will sort it all out. Any severe boom-bust fluctuations in the economy that may periodically devastate lives are normal expressions of the "business cycle" and should be accepted without un-American complaint as the price of liberty.

Rent controls and constraints will be verboten. Nor will there be regulation of leases.

Public grade schools. Nyet. That'll get rid of the Department of Education and all state and local school boards. You got kids then pay out of pocket to send them to school, or find a charitable educational institution. Don't expect citizens to be forced to pay for the education of someone else's' tykes.

There shall be no government assistance for attending college.

Aside from military related subjects, all government support for science will be eliminated, and the NSF shut down.

After the Smithsonian is privatized the former "nation's attic" will charge admission.

No public funding for the arts. Either make money via sales of your work, and/or find a private patron. NPR and PBS shall rely on their corporate and listener/viewer donations.

No extra sin taxes on alcohol and cigarettes.

No restrictions on gambling aside from fraud.

No workers comp. No need because freed of government restraint the economy will soar so high that there will be a worker shortage. That's the theory.

No business will have to accept union workers. Management will be able to hire strike breakers at will. The police will have to support management against labor. This social brew has the potential to revive the labor versus management violence common in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This could prove interesting because"..

Any adult can carry any firearms he can carry anywhere anytime, without license or back ground checks, as long as he is on the few public lands that exist, or has the approval of the owner of the property owner whose land he is on. The right to bear arms extends to airliners, where law abiding citizens bearing pistols shall ensure no plane will again be converted into a cruise missile. This actually leads to a conflict of the principle of liberty. Can't the owners of an airliner or an airport exclude guns from their planes and facilities? If a private corporation owns a toll highway, can't they entity ban those using their road from carrying weapons in the same manner as the operator or a road side bar? The result may be a patchwork nation where gun toters have can bear their arms on some roads and planes and not on others. Others propose that the 2nd Amendment trumps the right of those who don't want guns in their businesses. There is no need for undue concern, a Supreme Court packed with libertarians will justly and wisely settle this libertarian conundrum.

There will be no zoning laws and regulations. If you have the money to build a residence or business on your land then go right ahead and do it wherever it may be. If you own neighboring property and don't like the unregulated coal burning facility or landfill going in or up next door then move. If your property lost so much value because of the unpleasant new facility that you lost your retirement funds, or can't move, that's unfortunate. Capitalism is not a tea party well, actually it is these days.

There will be no workplace safety laws so bye-bye OSHA. The need to retain workers, fear of lawsuits and so forth will compel businesses to do what they can to protect their employees. If a worker is still not content with their safety then they can leave. If this is not practical for some reason or another, we do not live in a perfect world you know.

Consumer protection laws will be nonexistent. It's buyer beware. The pressure to maximize sales by offering safe and effective products will minimize the sale of substandard products. If you do not want to endanger your children then do not use, or move into a dwelling with, lead paint. If you prefer the vibrant colors offered by lead paints then who is to challenge your liberty to do so? The company that sells toxic meat with be in danger of losing business, so don't be overly concerned about you safety. Citizens can rely on investigative journalism rather than the defunct FDA to steer a safe course through life.

The socialist public fire department system will be replaced by privatized fire companies. If you wish to enjoy protection for your residence or place of business you will need to contract with a private operation. If you do not wish to do so you cannot be compelled to do so. If you cannot afford fire protection that is you (and perhaps your neighbor's) problem. This system was in effect a hundred years ago that's why many fire stations are called companies. It was abandoned because it proved impractical.

Despite being government socialism par excellence, many libertarians accept governmental police forces for legal reasons. But others wish to see a return to the more privatized security systems in place in the 1800s. The FBI is unlikely to survive Libertarian America.

A reminder that if you do not favor the developments outlined above as a whole, then you are at best libertarian light.

Some will quibble with some points, and numerous items could be added I never did get to the return of the gold standard -- but the above gives a pretty good overview of what true blue (or is it red) libertarianism involves. It is not my intent to get you all sacred and frightened that if we do not all join together to fight the evil that is wholesale libertarianism that our great nation will sink into a full blown libertarian hell. That's because it is as likely to happen as it is for American to go commie. Libertarianism and communism are both extreme ideologies occupying opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. Of the two the latter is less moral because of its suppression of democracy, but in pragmatic terms they are similarly impractical because neither allows for the compromises and fudging inherent to human affairs. Americans like the more about libertarianism than they do communism, and the US is the most libertarian 1st world country, but real libertarians make up a wee portion of the population. As much as Americans complain and whine about big government, the not so big secret is that most of the lower and middle class like a lot of what the state provides. Most support an active foreign policy backed by at least some degree of military power and action when deemed necessary, and they want to protect Israel. Social Security and Medicare remain the third rails of American politics, the majority want them fixed not eliminated -- all the more so after the latest financial debacle demonstrated the downside of libertarian economics. The communist turned libertarian Whitaker Chambers enjoyed how the conservative farmers he lived amidst denounced the growing government; until he realized that they not only happily cashed their subsidy checks, they denounced any who rude enough to point out the gross contradiction. Most think its great that the government makes sure blacks et al. can be served in any eatery. Americans especially like the do not call list. To put it another way, the mainstream does not really desire to live in the no hold barred cowboy, Wild West style nation the libertarians seem to think all good Americans should and do long for. Your typical Yank loves the national parks, does not want condos lining the rim of the Grand Canyon, or logging in Yellowstone. Many don't want to hear f*ck, sh*t and c-word on CBS and Fox in primetime, or daytime. The right also wants Big Brother to keep women from controlling their reproduction and promote abstinence only sex ed. Republican politicians love to decry government pork, but most of the same pols are skilled at bellying up to the federal trough that makes the voters back home happy, and the red states garner greater federal assistance than the liberal blue (, and here Pulling-Our-Legs-When-They-Say-Big-Government-is-Bad-for-America-and-Bad-for-Them). The left is openly for extensive government assistance for the population, and intrusion in economic affairs.

Nor do long-term trends favor a large segment of the libertarian cause. At the cultural end they are doing well, with the exception of the anti-choice movement that has gained some ground in law and popularity. The libertarian view on gun rights is thriving as gun adorers carry their heaters into Starbucks. Social conservatives like that. What the latter do not like is how societal liberty has enjoyed even greater success regarding issues that enrage SCs as the culture becomes increasingly less pious and socially liberal to the extent that gays are becoming mainstream ( For a few decades America also seemed to be on the path of libertarian economics as Reagan and the Bushes reigned aside from the awkward Clinton interruption. But with the recent reminders that libertarian economics repeatedly devolve into enormous and unstable pyramid schemes, the nation has tacked in the progressive economic direction the new reforms of Wall Street and the American health complex and are not at all where liberts wish to go, and once the latter variety of reforms are put in place they have proven hard to reverse. The enthusiasm with which the TPs used to chant "drill baby, drill" now look like clueless corporate lackeys, as does Paul when he chides Obama for being outside the American norm for criticizing BP. The Repub Louisiana Governor who enjoyed getting after Obama for socialist tendencies is on his knees begging to President for central government assistance. When all is said and done the reason the federal budget is in the area of 2.5 trillion is because of two centuries worth of pressure from the voters for bigger government, and any who thinks that is going to fundamentally change is a darn fool. All the more so because the population demographics look good for the Tea Partiers who represent the reactionary wing of the Baby Boomers, the millennials are not particularly interested. That helps explain why the right is going ballistic over what have actually been mild reforms that have left the left disappointed. As let down as liberals may feel, the right that not so long ago seemed to be winning the economic end of the cultural war is in danger of losing the nation as America becomes yet a little more like progressive western Europe.

That's a good thing. A successful modern libertarian nation has never existed. Libertarians contend that's because it has never been tried. They've got a point. It is often said that the Tea Partiers and the libertarians wish to repeal the New Deal, and return the country to the system it had before that. Actually that does not go back nearly far enough. Libertarianism will repeal the income taxes first begun to fund the Great War, as well as the trust busting and worker-consumer protections initiated by the first Roosevelt. The national parks date back to the post Civil War era, as do massive government subsidies as per the federal sponsoring of the transcontinental railroad. Come to think of it, that federal effort to prevent the succession of the southern states was against libertarian theory, as was the war against Mexico, the wars on AmerIndians, and the purchases of the Alaska and the LouisianaTerritories. We are talking about going back to 1800 here.

So basically what we are supposed to do is rewind the economic governance of these United States back to what it was before that taxpayer abusing progressive President Jefferson misappropriated the citizens hard earned dollars and bought a lot of land that Napoleon claimed to own. And then hope for the best. Fortunately we can get an idea of whether that's likely to turn out to be a good idea by comparing the performance of the advanced democracies. Those on the right often try to distort the debate by portraying the decision that America must make as a black and white choice between either full blown American free enterprise or wholesale Eurosocialism. The reality is that all 1st world nations have hybrid economies that combine extensive capitalism with considerable socialism there are lots of small businesses and big corporations in Sweden and Denmark -- with American Exceptionalism stemming from its emphasis on capital over socialism even thought the latter involves a few trillion dollars per annum. If the thesis that libertarian economics produce superior results are correct then the most liberty-based example should enjoy the greatest societal success while the progressive countries wallow in chaos and failure. For your convenience I have constructed the Successful Societies Scale, the most comprehensive comparison of socioeconomic conditions in the 1st world to date ( The results show that although America performs well in some regards, in most respects the most progressive countries enjoy the best societal conditions in history. One reason for the pattern is that truly universal health care systems (which do not need to be single payer) have proven far most cost effective than free market health care (saving each citizen a quarter of a million over a lifespan) while reducing adult and juvenile mortality below the American level (click here). So the data shows that the progressive mix of approximately equal doses of capitalism and socialism, not the extreme socioeconomic Darwinism of libertarianism, is the way to go.

Which returns us to the practical point of this essay. In their Quixotic attempt to rule the nation libertarians have to get elected to office. And there's their problem. Not only are the bulk of Americans not libertarian, the TP movement is itself divided. A good many are all for the ideology across the board. But another big segment is the social conservatives who favor only the economic side of liberty. So when an ardent libertarian runs for office they are in a bad bind. Libertarians proudly proclaim themselves to be people of principle who disdain pragmatists who carefully adjust their views to suite the popular mood. So they should openly and proudly proclaim their libertarianism when they up for election. But they know if they do that they are electoral dead meat in nearly all the country. Outright libertarianism is not a barrier to office only in parts of the west, New Hampshire and Maine where the locals are conservative but tolerant of cultural free choice. That's a few percent of the national population, not nearly enough to take over the country. Even in most conservative districts the social conservatives will nail them. So they usually have to be stealth candidates, revealing only enough of their economic libertarianism to attract the conservative base, hoping the voters do not catch on to the rest of their agenda before the vote is tallied. When cornered they often try to avoid directly answering by posing "interesting" intellectual points, such as if liberals really think restaurateurs must by law accommodate all comers regardless of race and so forth don't they have to allow law abiding patrons to carry firearms, followed by a denouncement of bigotry, while not acknowledging that of course such laws violate individual liberty, duh. That is exactly what Rand Paul was hoping to pull off until Rachael Maddow launched her spread of verbal torpedoes and scored a direct hit.

So the mission for those opposed to the liberts and the TPs is to Maddow them. To expose them by asking the pertinent questions. One reason the right has been as successful as they have been since Obama took over is because of a failure of the mainstream press, and of liberal commentators, to better reveal what these good folks actually think. So ask the strategic questions and do the expository investigations. Make sure that the Tea Partiers know that the libertarian candidate they are supporting is pro-choice, favors access to contraceptives, the right to be a prostitute and use hard drugs, thinks networks should have the liberty to broadcast profanity and show people having sex and the like. That should peel off some of his TP and other conservative base. Also let the mainstream electorate know that the libertarian thinks Yosemite should be turned over the private interests, that there should be no minimum wage, that the part of the Civil Rights Act pertaining to private businesses ought to be repealed, that Wall Street needs to be free to do whatever they want and his access to the centrist vote is degraded. If the libertarian candidate openly admits to the more peculiar side of his beliefs then he shoots himself in the electoral foot. If he obfuscates like Paul did then he shoots himself in the other foot because he is now exposed as more calculating than principled, yet does not entirely manage to deny the oddity of his views. It's a lose-lose situation for the Tea Party crowd.

The Republican elite is smart enough to comprehend that the TP movement is a double-edged sword that for all its short term positives has the potential to do the party a lot of long term harm. That's why they did all they could to defeat Rand Paul and are diving for cover as the nation begins to learn more about his deep libertarianism. But it's too late, matters have gotten so out of hand that the GOP elite has actually lost control of their organization. It used to be said that FoxNews was an organ of the Republican Party but this has never been precisely accurate, and in the search for ratings based revenue the libertarian Murdoch's cable network and talk radio are setting the agenda for the Republican Party by persistently egging the GOP base further to the right, leaving the party's leaders increasingly lacking control. And it is hard to see how they can control back. Forced to resort to damage control, Republican pols and pundits are urgently trying to portray Tea Partiers as nothing more than run-of-the-mill patriots who merely desire smaller government and elimination of the deficits and their constitutional right to proudly bear their automatic weapons in coffee shops. The left has a golden opportunity to exploit this right wing weakness by merely informing everyone how wild, wacky and radical many of the views of a movement that has the support of about a fifth of the country and is largely limited to older folk really are.

Gregory Paul is an independent researcher interested in informing the public about little known yet important aspects of the complex interactions between religion, secularism, culture, economics, politics and societal conditions. His scholarly work has appeared in Evolutionary Psychology, Journal of Religion and Society, The Journal of Medical Ethics, Philosophy and Theology. Popular essays are at Wall Street Journal, Washington Post/On Faith and Edge. Coverage of Paul's research has appeared in Newsweek, USA Today, The Guardian, London Times, LA Times, MSNBC, FoxNews.

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