The Beer Belly Putsch: A Sign of Things to Come

Munich Marienplatz during the failed Beer Hall Putsch. Bundesarchiv, Bild 119-1486 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Munich Marienplatz during the failed Beer Hall Putsch. Bundesarchiv, Bild 119-1486 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

In a sign that 2021 may get even more darkly weird than 2020, a mob of Trump supporters pushed their way into the US Capitol on January 6, putting politicians to flight and delaying, for a few hours, Congress’s quadrennial ritual of counting electoral votes and blessing the enthronement of the next President of the United States.

Their goal was to, in words emblazoned on some of the signs they carried, “Stop The Steal.” They seemed to genuinely believe (in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary) that Donald Trump, rather than Joe Biden, was the rightful winner of the election.

If there’s anything more dangerous than believing something that isn’t true, it’s getting together with thousands of other people who believe the same thing to act on that belief. The IQ of a large group is inversely proportional to the number of people in that group.

The attempted putsch was never going to succeed. Not just because its shock troops seemed to be mostly even fatter and more out of shape than me, nor because they were obviously going to be out-gunned once the surprise wore off and the government’s law enforcement and military machinery responded. Even if those things hadn’t been true, grievance just isn’t a sound substitute for strategy. The putsch was doomed because it was stupid.

“Imagine,” talk radio host Aria DiMezzo tweeted as the news began to break,  “being so upset about not getting the tyrant you wanted that you storm the tyrants’ building and demand the tyrants break the tyrants’ own laws to change who the next tyrant is. Hope they brought tar and feathers, though.”

Can I get an amen?

Once the Capitol was cleared, the politicians returned to posture.

This disgraceful incident, some said, is something one expects to see in a banana republic, not in America, hoping the rest of us haven’t  noticed that they themselves spent the last three quarters of a century turning America into exactly such a banana republic.

We must carry out our sacred duties under the Constitution by completing this ritual, some said, hoping the rest of us haven’t noticed that they themselves squat over, and defecate upon, the Constitution, on a daily basis.

But we HAVE noticed, each in our own way. The “Stop The Steal” crowd and Black Lives Matter may seem like very different movements, but they’re both driven by growing recognition that America doesn’t work anymore, and probably never did work as well as its public relations department would have us believe.

As Lysander Spooner put it, the Constitution “has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

Nothing lasts forever. Not even the United States. Eventually, per Yeats, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”

Things are falling apart. The centre is not holding.

So, what comes next? I don’t know. But the Beer Belly Putsch is  evidence that whatever’s next, it’s at the door and knocking.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


Yes, Dr. Fauci, You DO Need to Have Some Humility Here

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

“When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,”  Dr.  Anthony Fauci, director of the US  National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and public face of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, told the New York Times in December. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.”

If you’re startled by Fauci’s admission that he lies to the public depending on what polls say, you shouldn’t be. It’s not the first time.

In March, he told CBS’s 60 Minutes “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” Months later, as mask mandates became the political establishment’s preferred “we gotta order people to do things” measure, he claimed he’d previously been lying so that people wouldn’t rush out and buy up masks needed by medical personnel.

In that case, he seems to have been lying ABOUT lying — scientific evidence for the efficacy of masks in preventing viral transmission still looks inconclusive at best — but the obvious motive was the same. Anthony Fauci, like most politicians and bureaucrats, is perfectly willing to lie to you if he thinks lying to you will get you to do as he demands.

In the Times interview, though, Fauci  points his finger at a real problem, probably not realizing that that finger points right back in his direction: “We need to have some humility here. We really don’t know what the real number is.”

Nearly a year into the pandemic, there’s still a lot we (including Dr. Fauci) don’t know about it and about how to get through it. But instead of having some humility about that, Fauci alternates between two approaches:

Approach One: Feign certainty, and use that certainty as an excuse to order you around.

Approach Two: Admit uncertainty, and use that uncertainty as an excuse to order you around.

Fauci’s far from alone in those approaches. Demands for authority, whatever the cost to those upon whom it’s inflicted, are the sacraments of the Cult of the Omnipotent State.

The US Food and Drug Administration held up approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for seven months after Phase I trials had demonstrated that vaccine’s basic safety. Their uncertainty (and, more importantly, their authority) trumped your health.

Months after killing thousands with his order that nursing homes full of vulnerable seniors accept COVID-19 patients, New York governor Andrew Cuomo is back, threatening million-dollar fines on hospitals that administer vaccines to people not on a government-approved list rather than throw away vaccine which will expire if it isn’t used. What he lacks in competence, he tries to make up for with unshakable certainty of his right to run your life.

COVID-19 is certainly a terrible disease and has killed many Americans.

Fauci et al.’s cravings for authority and demands for obedience are likewise terrible diseases — diseases which have undoubtedly increased the COVID-19 death toll.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


Let the Twenties Roar Free

Rodents frolic in the 1925 Disney short Alice Rattled By Rats. Public domain.

New Year’s Eve partiers had good reason to celebrate at the stroke of midnight on January 1. If the end of 2020 felt like a farewell to the missteps of more than one previous year, in a way it truly was. The culture of the year 1925 broke free from shackles imposed in 1998.

That year’s Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act was far from the first of its kind. The United States Congress had reinterpreted its Constitutional mandate to grant an “exclusive Right” to creative works “for limited Times” to encompass increasingly longer periods of time. When George Washington signed the original Copyright Act into law, copyrights spanned at most 28 years. Bill Clinton’s pen bumped them from 75 years to 95.

What was unprecedented was that the additional decades didn’t just apply to new works whose creators might possibly be incentivized, but to Jazz Age classics already due to enter the public domain. A 1995 New York Times article quoted a representative of Houghton Mifflin on how they would “like to publish a successful book exclusively forever;” the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act was close enough, setting the precedent for further re-extensions in the future.

Copyrights with no effective end point might seem to be simply be the “intellectual property” equivalent of the physical kind. To the contrary, as Ayn Rand observed, they “would become a cumulative lien on the production of unborn generations, which would ultimately paralyze them.” If “Jack London fought as fiercely to control the copyright on his work as he fought for” the revolutionary socialism advocated in his writings (as noted by The Radical Jack London editor Jonah Raskin, who adds that the expiration of their copyrights that made the 2008 collection possible “would no doubt rankle him”), free-market radicals have fought to get copyrights under control.

Self-described “Ayn Rand freak” Michael S. Hart founded Project Gutenberg to give away royalty-free electronic books “for the most selfish of reasons — because I want a world that has Project Gutenberg in it.” James M. Buchanan and Milton Friedman were among the laissez-faire luminaries who detailed the economic losses of excessive copyright terms in a legal brief endorsing the overturn of the Copyright Term Extension Act.

This challenge, culminating in the the Supreme Court’s Eldred v. Ashcroft decision, was unsuccessful. Yet the absence of a follow-up Extended Extension Act has allowed some of the “limited Times” to eventually reach their limit. Publications from 1923 finally entered the public domain in 2019, and the rest of the Roaring Twenties are gradually following suit. Meanwhile, some creatives are releasing their copyrights early. This past October, Tom Lehrer waived copyright restrictions to his songs, so that nobody will have to wait until 2061 to update his satires of New Math and Hubert H. Humphrey.

The 2020s face many problems, but a failure to learn from the 1920s need not be one of them.

New Yorker Joel Schlosberg is a contributing editor at The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.


  1. “Let the Twenties roar free” by Joel Schlosberg, Anchorage, Alaska Press, January 2, 2021
  2. “Let the Twenties Roar Free” by Joel Schlosberg, Ventura County, California Citizens Journal, January 3, 2021
  3. “Let the twenties roar free” by Joel Schlosberg, The Lebanon, Indiana Reporter, January 5, 2021
  4. “Let the ’20s roar free” by Joel Schlosberg, Claremont, NH Eagle Times, January 6, 2021
  5. “Let the Twenties Roar Free” by Joel Schlosberg, Roundup, MT Record Tribune & Winnett Times, January 6, 2021
  6. “Let the Twenties Roar Free” by Joel Schlosberg, OpEdNews, January 7, 2021