Patterico's Pontifications


Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom and an Upcoming Contest

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:00 am

My life changed for the better about three years ago, when I first ran across Tom Woods. I have read and enjoyed several of his books, including Meltdown (which explained that the 2008 financial crisis resulted from too much regulation), The Politically Incorrect Guide to History (the title speaks for itself), and my favorite: Rollback (a detailed broadside against big government).

My very favorite Tom Woods video is Interview With a Zombie, in which Tom discusses the concept of state nullification of federal laws with a zombie who repeatedly calls him a racist and a Neoconfederate for advocating this concept, which was pushed by such founding fathers as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The video is very funny as well as informative, and if you have not seen it before, it’s worth your time.

I love that video, and so did my kids. When I got a signed copy of Nullification in the mail, my son held it up and said “BOOOOK.” Watch the video and it will make sense.

Tom has an educational project called Liberty Classroom, which I first told you about in this post in April 2014. The site teaches real history and economics from a liberty perspective, taught by Tom and his colleagues. Here is a sample of one of the classes on Constitutional Law taught by Brion McClanahan, author of such books as The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution and 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America: And Four Who Tried to Save Her.

During Black Friday, Tom is running a huge discount at Liberty Classroom. After almost two years of paying for an annual subscription, I took the leap last November during the 2015 Black Friday sale, and became a lifetime member with Tom’s “Master Membership.” I have listened to hundreds and hundreds of the lectures available under such a membership. I counted them up and I have listened to some 450 lectures by Woods and his colleagues. No joke.

If you’re interested in joining Liberty Classroom, don’t do it yet. Steep, steep discounts are available for the four days beginning Black Friday, November 29. On that day, and throughout the Black Friday weekend, I’ll also be offering incentives and discounts to people who join Liberty Classroom through my affiliate link. That’s in addition to the discounts offered by Tom. You can get the chance to write guest posts here, or commission posts by me on a topic of your choice. And if you get a membership, you’ll be entered in a contest to win a free year of Amazon Prime from me.

I’ll have much more to say about Liberty Classroom in coming days. One of my favorite classes is a History of Economic Thought course taught by Bob Murphy, who regular readers will recognize as the author of a book about Mises’s Human Action that I started to summarize in several posts here.

He is also the zombie in the video above.

Full details concerning the incentives I am offering and the Amazon Prime contest can be read at this page.

16 Responses to “Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom and an Upcoming Contest”

  1. “Diversity!”

    BobStewartatHome (b2bab4)

  2. Good podcasts. Thanks!

    DRJ (15874d)

  3. That’s really quite good, Patrick. My family and I will start watching these.

    If the zombie kept saying “haaarvarrrdtrash” I would feel right at home.

    Simon Jester (c63397)

  4. Watched the video. I am profoundly unconvinced, and I continue to disagree with the nullification idea. There are other remedies available to the States under the Constitution, but that is not one of them.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  5. I believe I could make more cogent arguments than the zombie, by the way — that’s funny, but nothing like a real debating opponent. And there are constitutionally conservative responses that the zombie could have made. Let’s put it this way: I’d be happy to debate Woods on this point, and I can indeed manage to do better than mutter “racism!” in making my points.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  6. I am not necessarily convinced by the nullification idea myself but have not yet read the book.

    I think it’s not something to use casually. But Jefferson and Madison were especially incensed by the Sedition Act, and it’s not hard to see why.

    Patterico (4f098a)

  7. “Nullification” was what Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore tried to rely upon when he defied the un-appealed, un-stayed injunction of a federal district court demanding that he take down the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court building.

    The then-Attorney General of Alabama, Bill Pryor — now a sitting judge on the Eleventh Circuit, appointed by Bush-43 and confirmed only over fierce Democratic opposition through the McCain-led “Gang of Seven” deal with the Dems, and now back in the news because he’s one of the first two names Trump mentioned as a SCOTUS possibility and he’s on the List of 21 — had the responsibility under both the federal and state constitutions to bring Moore into compliance.

    The legal issues were indeed controversial: In parallel cases before the SCOTUS at about that same time, Ted Cruz won a five-four decision in Van Orden v. Perry upholding the display of the Ten Commandments on the Texas Capitol grounds, while on the very same day, the SCOTUS struck down (again 5/4) the display of those same Ten Commandments in a Kentucky county courthouse in McCreary County v. ACLU. Arguably Moore was right; yet unarguably, he and his proponents had failed to continue their appellate efforts to get SCOTUS review of the lower-court ruling against them; that is, they failed to do that which Ted Cruz had done with diligence and, ultimately, improbable success.

    But after a state judicial panel ordered Chief Justice Moore’s removal from office, in the subsequent proceedings to enforce that ruling, AG Pryor personally cross-examined Moore about his defiance of the federal injunction, and then personally delivered the final argument for Moore’s compelled removal from the bench. From his argument:

    [T]he judicial branch of our government, both our federal government and our state government, as human institutions, are imperfect. They sometimes make mistakes. Even terrible ones. We correct some of those mistakes on appeal. Sometimes the appeals court, even the Supreme Court gets it wrong, too. Fortunately, our Constitution gives us remedies.

    I stand by my remarks from 1997 that we’re called by God to do what is right. But we’re called to exercise our constitutional rights in fulfilling his will.

    We can elect lawmakers, legislatures, to change the law. We can elect presidents to appoint judges faithful to the law. We, the people, can even amend the Constitution itself. That is what our nation did when it abolished slavery with the 13th Amendment, which overruled the abominable decision of the Supreme Court in Dred Scott versus Sanford. But the refusal of a party to comply with a court order, whether the court order is right or wrong, is not a remedy provided by the Constitution.

    Because Chief Justice Roy Moore, despite his special responsibility as the highest judicial officer of our state, placed himself above the law, by refusing to abide by a final injunction entered against him, and by urging the public through the news media to support him, and because he is totally unrepentant, this court regrettably must remove Roy Moore from the office of Chief Justice of Alabama. The rule of law upon which our freedom depends, whether a judge, a police officer, or a citizen, demands no less.

    The nullification issue died with the Civil War. It ought to stay dead, because it’s a false beacon that might otherwise lure people who are searching for constitutionally permissible and effective means to reign in the un- and extra-constitutional abuses of the Democrats in federal legislative, executive, and judicial offices.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  8. Bah. “Rein in,” I meant.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  9. It will be very interesting to see whether or not the new AG maintains the current DoJ advisory regarding de-emphasis of seeking prosecutions under the Controlled Substance Act in states which have nullified the act through legalization of marijuana sale and use. I’m quite certain potheads will stridently argue the increase in heroin use and overdose deaths is, like, totally unrelated, man, but the body count just keeps rising, rather steeply.

    Rick Ballard (d17095)

  10. This could be a great opportunity to reduce the deficit, using the forfeiture laws, by seizing the assets of banks and other businesses which take marijuana money. The Colorado and Washington state treasuries too?

    nk (dbc370)

  11. The nullification issue died with the Civil War. It ought to stay dead, because it’s a false beacon that might otherwise lure people who are searching for constitutionally permissible and effective means to reign in the un- and extra-constitutional abuses of the Democrats in federal legislative, executive, and judicial offices.

    I am not terribly convinced by the admittedly prevalent idea that secession, or other states’ rights doctrines like nullification, ended with the Civil War. I suppose killing hundreds of thousands of people is one way to settle an argument, but I don’t think that makes the winner right. To take an extreme example, had Hitler won WWII, his ideas would still be wrong. (It’s an analogy, folks. I’m not saying Lincoln was Hitler but illustrating a broader point.)

    I like talk about Texit or Calexit, just because it reinforces the idea that the People of the States still have rights of self-determination in our federal system.

    Beldar has given an example of states’ rights being used in a manner that I think most of us would agree is inappropriate. I still haven’t made up my mind about nullification in general, but I am sympathetic to the idea in extreme cases like the Sedition Act. Not so much in Roy Moore’s case.

    The federal government has usurped power in many ways the Founding Fathers would never condone. I’m not sure we should give up a possible tool to fight back, which some of the Founding Fathers supported.

    Anyway, I never intended this post to be a debate about nullification, which is a very minor part of the Liberty Classroom curriculum. But since we’re having the discussion, those are some of my thoughts.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  12. There is much more money in it for Uncle Sugar via legalization while treating it like tobacco. Earmark all receipts “to be used only for the chirrun” with a special fund established to pay for funerals for heroin OD volunteers.

    Congress might want to look into charging cities (via subsidy elimination) for the privilege of declaring themselves Sanctuaries. A true Sanctuary should be able to live upon its own goodness, free from the taint of any money from that nasty Uncle Sugar and his mean laws.

    Rick Ballard (d17095)

  13. Well Beldar, the Declaration of Independence has a few encouraging words about nullification never being dead.

    Also, the constitution does have remedy for the government acting beyond their constitutional authority. The second amendment.

    The Fed’s have no more authority to tell a state how to decorate their buildings than the local dog catcher has to tell you what Christmas lights you can put on your house. If the dog catcher declares he has made such a law, are you bound to obey?

    Sounds to me like this fellow Moore is a patriot. He didn’t place himself above the law, he refused to comply with a law with no constitutional authority behind it. In fact, it was a law in conflict with the constitution.

    LBascom (1cae03)

  14. This is a noble discussion but people like us who are seriously interested in the American Constitution, the founding principles, and their relevance/application in 21st century America are becoming fewer and fewer. This is a terrible problem. I saw the following article this morning:

    America’s colleges and universities are so off the rails now that even history majors aren’t required to study about U.S. History. A new report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nonprofit group that advocates for accountability at schools, found that just 23 of the institutions among the 76 deemed to be the “best” by U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 rankings require history majors to take at least one U.S. history course.

    Many elite schools,… may require students to take courses about events from before 1750, or on East Asian and sub-Saharan African politics, without also demanding that they study the creation of the U.S. Constitution or the civil-rights movement.

    The association said in its report that the absence of mandates that history majors take U.S. history classes with chronological and thematic breadth is “a truly breathtaking abandonment of intellectual standards and professional judgment.”

    Rather, in the ongoing attempt to put “diversity” before actual learning, schools specify that students must take classes about areas outside the United States.

    Some of those classes are bizarre at best. At Williams college, students can take “Soccer and History in Latin America: Make the Beautiful Game” and students at Swarthmore may enroll in “Modern Addiction: Cigarette Smoking in the 20th Century” in order to fulfill history major requirements, CampusReform is reporting.

    “Hip-Hop, Politics, and Youth Culture in America” and “Mad Men and Man Women” are classes that fulfill the American history requirement at University of Connecticut and Middlebury College, respectively, instead of courses that cover subjects such as the Revolutionary War or the Emancipation Proclamation.

    “Historical illiteracy is the inevitable consequence of lax college requirements, and that ignorance leads to civic disempowerment,” said Michael Poliakoff, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s president-elect. “A democratic republic cannot thrive without well-informed citizens and leaders. Elite colleges and universities in particular let the nation down when the examples they set devalue the study of United States history.”

    This comes at a time when college students are woefully uneducated about American history and civics in general. A study done by ACTA shows that less than 20 percent of students could identify what the Emancipation Proclamation was and one-third were unaware that FDR introduced the New Deal. The group found in a 2014 survey that a majority of U.S. college graduates don’t know the length of a congressional term.

    This is the electorate and the office holders of the near future.

    elissa (cea08a)

  15. elissa,

    Absolutely correct, and very distressing.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  16. To my astonishment, I find myself in partial agreement with LBascom.

    If one can again today demonstrate — as the signers of the Declaration in July 1776 did through their list of detailed and extensive grievances against the British Crown — that you have sufficient grounds to justify a literal separation and withdrawal into political independence, one has grounds to ignore the Constitutional means for correcting the government.

    As you’ll recall, the Crown disagreed, and it took several years of Revolutionary War — as interlaced with a global war between Britain and its continental enemies — to settle that issue. But you and I today agree that the principles which justified their political separation from George III are still valid principles today.

    If you wish to suggest that as a nation, or as any sub-unit thereof, we’re at an appropriate time today, in November 2016, for the citizenry to mount an armed insurrection against the United States government, then we don’t agree at all.

    Sanctuary cities, by the way, are by definition an exercise of nullification at the local level. We got anyone in favor of that here?

    Short of another civil/revolutionary war, nullification is dead. I’m not interested in talking about it either, which is why I probably won’t buy the book being promoted in that first video, even though the zombie part was indeed clever.

    As for Texit: That might happen, but if so, it will be Texas quite literally buying its way out from a bankrupt federal government. Maybe Texas could cut a deal to buy its independence in exchange for taking over the debt from the California federal insolvency receivership: There’s diplomatic precedent for that kind of stuff. But it won’t happen through literal blood in the streets.

    Today, while re-reading my own blog posts about Bill Pryor from back at the time of his confirmation fight, it occurs to me that he ought to be considered a heavy favorite now as Trump’s nominee to take Justice Scalia’s seat. Pryor was one of Sessions’ top deputies when Sessions was the Alabama Attorney General, and on Sessions’ recommendation, then Gov. Fob James appointed Pryor to succeed him. At 34, he was the youngest state AG in the country. As his home-state senator, Sessions backed Pryor’s Eleventh Circuit nomination, which the Dems worked very, very hard to defeat: Pryor has already been run through the “you’re a racist!” wringer before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Pryor is now age 54, five years younger than the other nominee Trump mentioned by name at an early GOP primary debate, Judge Diane Sykes of the Seventh Circuit. One might expect that new Attorney-General nominee Sessions already has vouched for Pryor way back then; he’s likely to push for him now; and if anyone is more likely to be persuasive to Trump on this issue than Sessions right now, I’m hard pressed to imagine who it might be.

    Beldar (fa637a)

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