Why I am a Libertarian

Another historical piece from the archive. On rereading it, I remembered that I had used a little literary license in writing the piece.

The first time I heard the word ‘Libertarian’ was at the Texas State Capitol building, about ten days before the the Gulf War in ’91. During an anti-war protest there, I got to talking to Terry Liberty Parker, and he mentioned that Libertarians were against the war, unlike the Dems. I have since fallen out of friendship with Mr. Parker (and, in fact, his behavior is at the core of why I’ve become inactive in the party both times it’s happened) but I will always be in his debt for introducing me to the party.

I had said several times prior to that event, in discussions with ‘the wife’, if I was given a choice between socialism and fascism, I would choose socialism because you live longer (socialists just want your money, fascists want you to agree with them philosophically, or they shoot you. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time) but I could not understand how the Democrats (the party of Jefferson, the party that cast itself as the opposition to the Vietnam war) would be in support of a war that was not in our own interest. I was all for getting involved with a group that wanted to end the military adventurism that we’ve been involved in since the end of WWII, so I started looking for libertarian meetings and talking to libertarians when I found them.

I was already an Objectivist, I had read most of Rand by that time and found her philosophical outlook to be very much like my own, so I was already ‘in tune’ with the core of Libertarian thought. At some point I took the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz” and found that I was a dead center Libertarian (These days I’m nearly 100/100 on the chart) I spent a good bit of time in the old TCLP office on Middle Fiskville Rd. talking to Bruce Baechler, and I think he was the one who made me feel most comfortable with supporting Libertarians as more than just a protest vote.

Anyway, what follows was what I posted in response to a request for “Why I am a Libertarian” articles. The ‘Republicans coming to power’ was Reagan in ’80. I thought Carter was a great president at the time. ‘The wife’ still does; don’t hold it against her, though. She hates the current Democrats.


I am a libertarian because I believe, first and foremost, in the concept of limited government. Most people, when told this will exclaim “ah, you are a Republican”. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Before I discovered the Nolan chart (http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html) and through it the LP, I was a staunch yellow dog Democrat, like my parents and grandparents before them. I believed that government was there to help, and that social freedoms could be taken for granted under the Democrat’s benign rule. But I was at a loss to explain why the drug war persisted, why the term PC was ever created and why taxes were increased, even in the face of Democrat dominated legislatures and presidents.

When the Republicans came to power, they talked of reducing the size and expense of government. My fellow Democrats cried over this, but I could not understand how reducing government, and the tax burdens on the people, was necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. Strangely, the cost of government never got smaller. The Republicans did reduce taxes, but the debt burden passed on to the next generation went through the roof. I started to think that the politicians were not being truthful with us; and if they were lying to us about their intentions, then what else were they lying to us about?

It took eight years of a Democrat president to convince me of the truth that I know today: If a politician has words coming out of his mouth, he’s most likely lying. You well may laugh, but to an honest man, this was shocking. I discovered something else in the course of nearly 30 years of following politics: Government is a weapon. It is a loaded gun that you point at wrong doers to make them stop what they are doing. That is the only ‘help’ that government can give; and it doesn’t even do that cheaply. If you want government to do something for you, then you are employing force to get it done.

Everything that government does can be done by private industry better, faster and cheaper. The fewer government run programs, the less force that is present in our system; less force means more freedom. Jefferson and those who started the ball rolling way back when understood this. They were Democrats. Because of this, I was a Democrat. What I did not realize was that the allegiances of the parties have shifted over the course of 200+ years, which brings us back to the Nolan chart, and the LP.

Chart the beliefs of the founders, and nearly to a man they will turn up Libertarian; Jefferson was solidly so. When I took the test, I too charted as solidly Libertarian. It has been more than 10 years since I took the test, lodging protest votes against the two major parties, discussing issues with fellow libertarians; and it’s been only recently that I have come to the realization that I was indeed a Libertarian in belief, and not just a political misfit.

Ask any libertarian why they are what they are, and you will get a different story. Some are former Republicans and some, like me, are former Democrats. Most of them are of the younger generation, fresh out of college and worried about the future they face at the hands of an ever-expanding federal government. If there is a core libertarian belief, then that is a good portion of it; the requirement that government at least return to constitutional limits, and be responsive to the people who fund it. That force not be employed except in response to force. That we are all capable of governing ourselves, just as has been done throughout our history. We are the Libertarian Party, and we are here to stay.


Current date June 11, 2016.  The wife of the blowjob president is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic party and I support her.  It is a weird world we live in.  I still have libertarian delusions but I have medications that keep those in check.

I used this article as a template for a submission to a local newsletter. It became my definitive blog entry until superseded by this one.

I just took the quiz for isidewith.com and I’m apparently a Sanders supporter. Which is weird because I like Hillary Clinton better as a leader.  Proven track record as a leader.  I’m good with that. Still weird. Still liberal.

“Light up, Everybody…”

The smoking argument. A conversation with my ‘teen’, and some suggestions.

CATO’s regulation seems to enjoy beating dead horses as much as I do. They have offered a rebuttal to the ACSH article that calls them to task for belittling the health threat posed by cigarette smoke.

Quoting from the article:

We started that article with this declaration: “Truth was an early victim in the battle against tobacco.” We ended the article with this admonition: ““When that goal [i.e., truth] yields to politics, tainting science in order to advance predetermined ends, we are all at risk. Sadly, that is exactly what has transpired as our public officials fabricate evidence to promote their crusade against big tobacco.”

OK, granted. They spin some pretty good arguments for the CDC’s figures being exaggerated. But I think they are confused about who and what is motivating the witch hunt that the CDC is simply the public edifice for. It isn’t the gov’t that is after ‘big tobacco’, as referendum after referendum and ordinance after ordinance against public smoking is proposed and passes. It’s the average person on the street who doesn’t smoke himself (which is now the majority of the population, by the way) doesn’t want to have to smell someone elses cigarette smoke, and figures “there outta be a law”. Suddenly, there are laws. This is how ‘democracy‘ works.

[Yes, I know, we’re a Republic. The majority says we aren’t any more, apparently they don’t understand the meaning of the words in the pledge that they recited daily. I guess that’s what happens when you let socialists write documents for free thinking people]
The fact that there are serious health consequences to smokers, and costs that get passed on to the government as the guy left holding the tab at the end of the night, simply buttresses the argument against allowing people to smoke, at all. Facts that the regulation article itself admits:

Second, we are wrongly censured for stating that ““the hazards of smoking remain largely speculative. “What we actually said is quite different, indeed mostly contrary: “Evidence does suggest that cigarettes substantially increase the risk of lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema. The relationship between smoking and other diseases is not nearly so clear.””

Pretty much puts case closed on it for me. My point in bringing up the evidence against smoking was never to call attention to ‘how many’ deaths, and the obvious manipulation of statistics to ‘awfulize’ the outcome should be ridiculed; but the facts do show a connection between poorer health, shorter less healthy lives, and smoking tobacco. Since I have health problems already, it benefits me to choose non-smoking establishments when I do go out. Luckily for me Austin is a proper socialist paradise and has taken any need to think for myself, about where to go on a night out, out of my hands.

…Which is good, because if it was left to my anarchist/libertarian brethren I’d have no choice but to walk in and sniff the air before deciding if I wanted to actually ‘stop’ anywhere. Probably just stay home in that case (the recurring “what do you want to eat?” argument is hard enough on its own) which would be cheaper.

On the bright side, watched a segment on Beyond Tomorrow tonight dealing with an ‘anti-smoking’ injection. Clinical study results are positive (success rates approaching 60 percent) which is good. Most people who try to quit ‘cold turkey’ fail (3 percent success rate) The various forms of nicotine replacement therapies fair only slightly better (30 percent success rate) So the drug manufacturer is obviously quite pleased with the results. I myself quit cold turkey, after three tries. I was able to apply an REBT technique to the nicotine craving; I would think of the smell that an empty bar has in the morning when you show up to clean it, every time I wanted a cigarette. It took a while, but I was able to beat it. I actually feel ill when I think about smoking these days. (I’m applying the technique to craving french fries now. I don’t know if that’s going to work or not. Love them fries)

I hear you saying “what if I just want to smoke?” Fine by me. Go do it somewhere else, though. Here, you can have my old supply of ‘coffin nails’, I’m not going to need them anymore.

Steve Kubby and the “Insane War on Drugs”

Actually, when you understand who Steve Kubby is and what he’s gone through then you pretty much have a picture of just how insane the War on Drugs really is. The Administration is willing to kill this man simply to prove that they have the right to kill him by denying him his medicine. Who voted for these nutjobs anyway?

Gonna crib some text from Knappster here:

Steve Kubby update on Brad Spangler’s blog

Update from Michele Kubby on Hammer of Truth

Let’s try to keep the focus where it belongs, folks: On saving Steve’s life.

Common Sense Alternatives

It’s my curse to see them, and then spend my time arguing with complete buffoons about them.

Like the smoking argument, the solution the the drinking and driving problem isn’t less alcohol consumption, or more expensive drinks; just as the solution to problems with second hand smoke isn’t keeping people from smoking. It’s architectural; or in this case, a zoning issue. If it was possible to set up neighborhood pubs or sidewalk cafes as they do in other places, it wouldn’t be necessary to drive down to the pub to get a pint, or to the cafe to get a taste. You could walk there.

De-stressing the forbidden nature of alcohol would go along way in stopping teenage drinking as well.

But I don’t expect anyone will listen to this argument any more than they have to the other ones I’ve offered.

Indirect Prohibition

I was sitting in the car with ‘the teenager’ the other day, listening to the latest news reports concerning a local bar being threatened with a revocation of their liquor license. They were accused of forcing a patron to drink to excess. As far as I know, they didn’t hold the guy down, so I’m not sure where ‘force’ comes into play.

Teenage question: “So why is the bar owner in trouble?”
Dad answer: “Because someone was stopped drunk, and he said he had been drinking at their bar.”
Teenage question: “But isn’t that what the customer went there for? Why should the bar owner care if his customers are drunk?”
Dad answer: “Well, the law says that the bar owner has to be responsible for not getting his customers drunk. If he thinks one of his customers is drunk, he has to stop serving him. It doesn’t stop there, either. He can’t let the drunk stay in the bar, because if the TABC comes in and checks the place out the bar can be cited just for having people in it that have drank too much alcohol. So he’s caught in a very bad position if he mistakenly serves someone too much.”
Teenage question: “Are they trying to make alcohol illegal?”
Dad answer: “No. They did that before and it didn’t work out.”

Teenage conclusion: “Well, they must be trying to make it impossible to drink without making it illegal then.”

Sharp as a tack, let me tell you. I hadn’t really thought about it that much, but it makes perfect sense. Smoking, as another example, is slowly trending that direction as well. Soon there will be alcohol and cigarettes available for purchase (if you can find them) but there won’t be anywhere you can indulge in them, except maybe inside your own house.

Fireworks are already that way, if you live in the city. You can buy them, but don’t even try to drive them back into town. It’s always struck me as ironic that the celebration of independence can’t be done in the traditional fashion anymore, because the state has laid down the law and excluded everyone but themselves from being able to indulge. I imagine they’ll soon be keeping all the smokes and drinks for themselves as well. It’ll be a regular animal farm then.

A Woman President

I’ve been watching Commander in Chief on the tube lately. Friends of mine who have been trying to get me to watch West Wing for years ask me “why are you watching that show?” Getting beyond the obvious political leanings of the star of West Wing, I just have to answer “If I want to watch a man play at being POTUS, I just have to turn on any news channel”. Talk about a bad actor.

I’ve always had a weakness for Geena Davis, I can’t help it. Ever since Earth Girls are Easy, I jump at the chance to see her in just about any role. When I heard she was going to play the President, I just had to watch. She’s been quite convincing in the role (even if some of the story lines are a bit far fetched) Hard edged without being brutal, skating the thin line between a leader and a tyrant.

Yes I’ve heard the rumors concerning Commander in Chief‘s creators. That’s why I’m not going to make an issue out of the obvious ‘liberal’ (more aptly labeled ‘socialist’) leanings of those involved with West Wing. I would like to say one thing on the subject, though. If indeed they are trying to prep us for a woman president, I think they got the wrong actress to play the part. Perhaps Nichelle Nichols would be better suited to the role; I think that Condi has a much better chance of ever being president than Hillary does.

Prediction? Not really. Let’s call it an educated guess.

Ideally There Would Be No Idealists

So I get a response from Mr. Bylund the other day to my Blog entry, and I keep meaning to write up my own reply, and just never get around to it. I am a man of many passions (as this blog should quite readily show) I once spent an (in hindsight) inordinate amount of time on politics and political thought, but those days are quickly receding into the past. Much like the message he sent me.

Then, lo and behold, I notice he’s added comments to the blog entry itself.

Hello Mr. Bylund, I’m not ignoring you, I just think that achieving the anarchist ideal ranks somewhere behind science fiction fandom and humor (and living in the here and now) on the importance list. I establish my own values, just like I know and uphold my own rights; I don’t look to government to maintain them for me, but to abstain from violating them in the process of doing it’s legitimate work.

I read your comments through several times. This is the paragraph which I feel the need to specifically address:

To minarchists, the anarchist position is utterly utopian, perhaps even idealistic, and they conclude it would not work. Such a society could quickly degenerate into chaos and misery since there is no final arbiter in conflicts and no power to leash or control the evils unavoidably existent in society. The reasoning is that there needs to be something larger, but external to the market, setting the basic rules and enforcing them. Without the enforcement of rights, there are no rights.

The key phrase here is final arbiter. Government is legitimate, in my estimation, when it:

  1. Violates no rights in maintaining its existence.
  2. Acts only as the final arbiter in a conflict.

While I don’t know of any government that meets this criteria that is currently in existence, I believe that it is possible to attain (I would, in fact, refer to Nozick’s state as Government; because that is the word that fits the purpose being served) What I do hear from Anarchists that argue with me on the necessity of government is that they have a plan to substitute the structure that is government for another structure which does essentially the same job, but isn’t government. My counter argument will always be “a rose by any other name”; it is still government no matter what it is called.

When I point out to them that Anarchy is chaos, by definition; and that political Anarchy, to be true to its definition, would require that there is no structure (which I will always call government) in order for it to be called Anarchy,that the resultant society would be chaotic and prone to instability, which most likely would lead (and has lead in the past) to more repressive forms of government taking root, I’m told that I just don’t get it.

But I do get it. The anarchists want to use the word anarchy to serve as a figurehead for something that isn’t anarchy but will be different from the current government structure; a tactic which has and most likely will backfire again when acted upon. Which is why I bother to argue about this in the first place.

Utopian and Idealist visions have lead to some of the worst hell holes on the planet. During the time of the Russian revolution, Anarchists and Socialists were brothers in the same cause; fighting to bring change to a Russian society that, without a doubt, desperately needed it. The idealist Anarchists of the time thought that if they could just get rid of the Czar the social utopia of Communism (which is a governmentless form of society, an anarchy; at least as Marx envisioned it) would soon follow. I think history will show it turned out differently.

No, I’m not saying that Anarchists are Communists. The Wiki entry should plainly show, if nothing else, that Anarchists don’t even know what Anarchists are. Which is fitting, considering the definition of the word anarchy. Chaos is its own definition.

Every time I find myself butting heads with someone politically, I discover that the someone in question has some ‘ideal’ vision in his head concerning what should be the way things work; a Utopia for which they just won’t accept any substitutions. Unfortunately reality doesn’t consult with us concerning it’s inner workings. In an ideal world, there would be no idealists. That’s my idea of utopia. You can thank your lucky stars that I don’t believe in Utopias.

If we want structures to serve the purposes we intend for them, then we have to look at the constraints that reality places on us and design them to fit. Self-funding support bodies for essential government functions (i.e. the cost of police and fire departments being funded by the insurance companies and land owners that profit from their existence) is just one vein of thought on the subject. Government structures that don’t violate rights simply by existing in the first place.

Suffice it to say I’ve put some thought into this, and I doubt that there is much that can be said that will sway me from my opinion.

Teaching people to think

Hello, I’m Anthony. (Hi Anthony) …And I’m a Forum Addict. It all started years ago with CompuServe forums and Usenet. Not long after we got our first Internet account (way back in ’94, through the local university) I started looking for people to talk with. At first it seemed innocuous enough, just chatting with people who had shared interests. There was the occasional disagreement with the odd agitator who showed up just to argue, but all and all, a forum was a friendly place. I’m not quite sure when or how it happened, but as time progressed it seems that the forums became more about the disagreement, and less about the sharing of knowledge; perhaps we are all looking for that emotional high that comes from being in a ‘good argument’.

Actually, the tendency toward ‘forum addiction’ can be traced back much earlier than that. If you remember the charge you got the first time you knew something somebody else didn’t know, and you got to explain it to them, got to see their eyes light up with understanding, then you too are a potential forum addict. That’s where it starts. And then you discover the Internet, and how easy it is to share information. You join your first forum and you start posting. Before you know it you are spending days at a time trying to shove a few facts into another idiot’s brain, never realizing that you to are an idiot just for making the attempt.

Talk about a waste of effort.

At some point (if you are like me) you will probably also discover that you are in an adversarial relationship with everyone in your group (Personally I tend to agree with a friend who observed that “it’s the nature of the medium”. For some reason the impersonal nature of text communication seems to make people more prone to “misapprehend” the meaning of a statement. There’s a multi-million dollar government funded study in there somewhere) …and the one time that you can all pull together is when you are trying to single out some other agitator to get rid of.

More and more often these days, that agitator turns out to be me. It seems I have this disgusting habit of making people think about things they’d rather not. Call me weird, but it’s kind of a point of pride with me. I figure if I don’t make someone go “Hmmm?” with each post, then I might as well watch the boob cube with the rest of the couch potatoes. Therein lies the rub. If you can’t impart a few simple facts to the unwilling, how on earth can you make them think?

Once again, can we say Waste of Effort? I knew that you could.

…This is why government schools don’t teach, they indoctrinate. No one wants to sit in neat little rows and listen to someone else lecture; and rote learning is boring, to say the least. So we have schools full of the unwilling that can’t be taught even simple facts, much less be made to think for themselves. If it was understood that thinking for oneself was a blessing, and that school was a place where this was facilitated, you might actually find children wanting to go to school just to learn, instead of going just to escape from their parents.

…And that is why the Montessori method of teaching will always be superior to the typical attempt at teaching found in government schools. It stimulates the natural desire within the child to learn and to understand. This is also why you won’t find Montessori teaching in the ‘public’ (government) school system. Worse than getting children hooked on drugs, getting them to think.

Back to the task at hand…

The idiot that I am, got kicked off another forum the other day (you might notice that it disappeared from my sidebar) Miscued on a post by another, who miscued on a (poor) attempt at humor on my part. The peanut gallery pounced at that point, I’m sure; one can rack up a lot of negative feelings when he’s trying to pound a little sense into the opposition. They offered to let me stay on if I would agree to be moderated, but I’m not interested in letting someone else second guess what I should post. So I’m outta there…

I’ve alienated friends and family members with this stupid forum addiction, this blind belief that I can somehow impart a little understanding to the (as someone else called them) “unwashed masses” by “getting the information out there”. Silly, really. Or is it?

Over time I’ve progressed (?) from knowing everything, but understanding very little (typical teenager) to knowing nothing, but understanding a great deal (hello mid-life) more than I can express in a blog entry.

I wonder when I’ll learn to think…? And will it be before I hit ‘send’ the next time?


March 4, 2019. Coded language. How quaint. Government schools are not bad, per se. When they don’t indoctrinate. When they impart real life skills. They do just fine, then. So long as they get the job done that needs to be done government schools are just fine. It’s when the job they are doing is not serving the greater good, creating people who can think for themselves, critically. That’s when government schools and all schools, fail. Montessori fails to educate those students with special needs, and it fails because a good portion of Montessori instruction is based on belief/ideology and not on tried and true best methods. Finding a school that teaches critical thinking based on best methods. That is the really hard part.

ALD Basics; from Liberty Dollar Online

This is an introduction to the American Liberty Dollar that I wrote for the old Liberty Dollar Online forums. Sadly, those forums have been AWOL for several months now.


So, what is the Liberty Dollar? This is the forum where we hope to answer those types of questions. If you are new to ALD, take some time and read the many pages of information that can be found on the Liberty Dollar site. I’d start with the Introductory Essay. Don’t want to read about it? You might want to check out the History Channel special that is linked on the Libertydollar.org front page, or just click here.

Still too much information for you?

Short and sweet then. The Liberty dollar is money. Technically speaking, it is money based on one ounce of silver; a dollar value is attached to that ounce of silver that roughly equates to the FRN dollar value of 1 ounce silver numismatic items currently in circulation.

Huh? Too short? Sorry. Once upon a time…

There was a time in the not too distant past when the US dollar was based on an amount of real metal, and you could trade paper dollars and checkbook dollars for real silver dollars if you wanted. (If you really want to know more about that go here) Even before that time, US money was based on a quantity of metal. From the very beginning of the US as a nation, the dollar was represented as being worth a certain amount of silver (371 4/16 grains) and it remained that way through most of US history until the Federal Reserve was established to ‘regulate money’. Since that time, the number of dollars in circulation has been increased to the point that what was once a dollar worth of silver is now (at this writing) nearly 10 dollars. The Liberty Dollar was created as a way to combat this growing problem. The Liberty Dollar is first and foremost based on a unit of silver weight (1 ounce .999 fine silver) The ounce of silver is then divided into the number of dollars that current market price for silver dictates, based on a formula that can be found here. What it amounts to is that the dollar value increases as the silver value increases, providing a ‘store of value’ as money ought to be.

The liberty dollar is not just silver rounds, though. It is also available as certificates and as an online ‘electronic‘ currency, all fully backed by silver, and redeemable for silver.

Still have questions? Well, that is what we are here for. There are many other resources to tap at the liberty dollar site, including The Mother Lode of Information. Look around there, browse here; or just post a note. We’ll try to point you in the right direction.

Polluted Memories of Stage Fright

A friend sent me a link to a music and humor blog the other day thinking I would get a kick out of the references to days gone by, inside jokes that only us old people would find amusing. What they didn’t know was that the Janis Joplin  music that the blog was playing would remind me of Janis staring down on me from the wall of the Janis Room at Threadgill’s. Not a pleasant memory of my youth but of the location where we used to hold a weekly Libertarian Toastmasters (Politimasters) meeting and the terror I went through pretty much every week that I was expected to give a speech there. The kind of thing that should carry a trigger warning, if I believed in those kinds of things.

Anyone who’s ever tried to speak in front of a large group of people can commiserate with me here, if not completely understand what I’m talking about. It wasn’t just fear that I felt, standing there trying to speak, and Stage fright is too dismissive to cover it. Perhaps Topophobia describes the feeling; and further might explain why Janis (and so many other performers) resorted to numbing herself before getting onstage. I know the meetings went better when alcohol was served beforehand (at least they seemed to) How can you be expected to be entertaining when you can’t shake the feeling that you’re going to melt (or explode) at any moment?

Public speaking is one of the most common human fears, and this was confirmed by my own experiences within the Politimasters group. The group itself died from a lack of participation. We just couldn’t get enough people. 10 people is what you need to run an effective Toastmasters training group, and we couldn’t even get 10 people interested in meeting every week to practice their speaking skills in front of an audience.

Toastmasters and stage fright in turn remind me of my high school speech class and the dreaded speech class project, another instance (and another trigger warning) of getting up in front of an audience and perform in front of other people. The teachers decided to do a mock version of The Gong Show, this was the 70’s after all, in front of the entire school body as well as guests. To make matters worse they decided we would determine in advance whether we were going to be gonged or not (I think they missed the point of audience participation a key feature of The Gong Show) A friend of mine convinced me that we should try and do Abbott & Costello’s routine Who’s on First, and we (she) decided that we didn’t want to be gonged. I went along with the plan lacking even the slightest idea what I could possibly do that an audience would find interesting. [I’ve written a piece more recently, Coping with Dysgraphia. It might shed light on why it was that I was convinced I couldn’t be interesting.]

Abbott & Costello – Who’s on First?

I memorized the routine. I read it every day for more than two weeks. Performed it in front of family a number of times. I could do it backward by the day of the show. When that curtain rose, I couldn’t remember word one of the entire thing. I am, to put it bluntly, speechless. Both of us end up reading the routine from cards that we carried on with us. There is no other way to describe it, it’s bad and we should be gonged for it. The audience wants us gonged, and can’t figure out why the judges don’t go along. I remember the feeling of thousands of people in the audience wanting my blood (although I’m sure the auditorium in Stinnett didn’t hold more than a few hundred; and ‘wanting blood’ is a bit of an exaggeration. Just a bit) when I walked off that stage I swore I would never do anything like that again.

…And Janis is looking at me from across the room. “You had a speech prepared for Toastmasters tonight, right?” Pure terror.


The reference that stimulated this trip down memory lane removed itself from public view a number of years ago, forcing me to rewrite the opening paragraph of this piece. Having embarked on a cleaning edit, I decided to do a few other wordsmithing edits while keeping the feeling of the piece that I had intended to communicate intact.

Well, that’s true as far as it goes. The real reason I’m editing today is because Chuck Barris died this week, and as much as I hate to admit it he had a real impact on my life, as is partially related above. My family watched The Gong Show every day if my memory serves me right. The show was on in the hour after we got out of school and since we only had one TV and two channels back then, I cringed my way through most of the stupid on it. There were occasional gems to be found but I don’t think love or like are words I would apply to The Gong Show. The show was more like an inoculation for stupid than anything that I might remember with affection.

If you haven’t seen Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and you are a Chuck Barris or Gong Show fan, you might want to give it a chance. It is a very strange film about a very strange man. I personally would rate the film as meh. I know that is what I thought because it made so little impression on me that I barely recall it. The vast majority of films that I’ve seen rate a meh; so while that’s not a glowing endorsement, at least I didn’t gong it and send it back unwatched. There have been quite a few of those over the years. Too little time, too much to watch. The Wife and I wanted to see it because Sam Rockwell plays Chuck Barris, and he does a credible job of channeling​ the man and the madness that was the 70’s as seen through the rearview mirror. Personally, I’d rather look at the 70’s through the lens of Barris’ eyes than mine. He was always more charitable to the stupid than I could ever be. It was his saving grace.