Lawrence O’Donnell Is a Twit

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Responding to that Matt Damon video, O’Donnell first calls Reason “right-wing” and “Republican,” then asks why Reason criticizes teachers, but never bothers to criticize cops.

Nick Gillespie responds.

MORE: Mediaite picks up O’Donnell’s rant. But not Gillespie’s response, of course. Nor did author Frances Martel bother to check the veracity of O’Donnell’s claims in the video before reiterating them. It really wouldn’t have taken long to check. Type “police” into the Reason search engine. That’s about it.

O’Donnell’s fact-free rant is also picking up steam on Twitter. Really aggravating. I would wager that Reason has dedicated more coverage to police and prosecutorial abuse over the last five years than any left-of-center magazine or website, save for the ACLU. And it’s not just the work I did when I was there. Tim Cavanaugh, Jacob Sullum, and now Mike Riggs all regularly write about police abuse. has thoroughly explored various police abuse of power issues.

O’Donnell thoroughly embarrassed himself here, and he owes Reason a correction and an apology.

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66 Responses to “Lawrence O’Donnell Is a Twit”

  1. #1 |  JSL | 

    Ok I made it to the line from Larry’s rant “kinda like wicked ironic”, about him hating writing then becoming a writer but I had to stop there. Like dude, lets go hang ten man. Bra, lets party! Teachers are kinda like saints dude, don’t question their motives ever man.

  2. #2 |  Buzz | 

    “O’Donnell thoroughly embarrassed himself here”. That’s pretty much his default position.

  3. #3 |  Highway | 

    Tom Allen, if things like ‘healthcare’ and ‘education’ are not prioritized by ability to pay, then they’ll be based on some other arbitrary decisionmaking process that could be characterized as just as ‘immoral’ or ‘unjust’.

    In fact, ability to pay may be the best proxy of determining a person’s worth to society, and thereby their worth to receive a scarce good like an expensive operation. Largely, people’s ability to pay is based on their income, which is based on their output, which is priced based on what other people in society view as value of that output. And people might disagree that certain individuals don’t ‘deserve’ as much as they make, or that other individuals ‘deserve’ more than they make, but absent government interference, people usually make what they’re worth to society overall. And in cases where people aren’t directly working, they are dependent on others who are and who determine that value by proxy (wives, children, elderly parents, etc).

    But it’s certainly not arbitrary, and it’s tough to argue that it’s not moral, when it’s an aggregation of everyone else’s valuation of that person.

  4. #4 |  New York Cynic | 

    Does O’Donnell realize that Conservatives hate Libertarians as much as they Liberals? I’m always amused when we are lumped together with conservatives, it’s such a joke.

  5. #5 |  Robert | 

    Addition to #45… they only work 9 months of the year, get a nice big Christmas vacation, and SPRING BREAK!!!

  6. #6 |  Brutusettu | 

    Did Balko passively admit that one of the true horrors for [i]Reasons[/i]’ side, is that LD called it Right-Wing?

    It looks like LD and his staff didn’t want the facts get in the way of a chance to lambast Republican supporters.

  7. #7 |  JMW | 

    “Does O’Donnell realize that Conservatives hate Libertarians as much as they Liberals? I’m always amused when we are lumped together with conservatives, it’s such a joke.”

    If he did either his head would implode or he’d do something he’ll loathe himself for later and join up with the conservatives in the libertarian hate-fest.

  8. #8 |  TomG | 

    #54 – no, he doesn’t realize that. Unfortunately, neither do most other Americans.

    Many Americans don’t even realize that having only 2 political parties dominating the discussion all the time (with occasional sops thrown to minor and barely effective 3rd parties for the sake of appearances) is NOT good for the country.

  9. #9 |  Pi Guy | 

    Good employees work long hours, more than their peers, in every field. The problem in teaching, as with any job protected by unionization, is that there’s no system for rewarding the ones that do or weeding out the ones that don’t after they’re tenured.

    Are there really dedicated teachers who grade papers watching the 11 o’clock news then wake up before dawn and start grading again? Sure. I did it but my impression was that plenty of teachers figured out a system where they just recycled old lessons and graded papers in class while kids did busy work. Are there teachers who stay late to help with struggling students or coach or otherwise continue to contribute to the community past the contractural work day? Sure. I did that too but I can tell you that, in both MD high schools where I taught in the late 90s, schools clear out pretty quickly at 2:45, when teachers were allowed to leave. The faculty lots were long since empty at 5:00.

    As for their education and advanced degrees – bullshit. I didn’t plan on teaching initially and earned a degree in Physics with no Ed coursework. Because of the dire need for Math and Science teachers (more on this), I was hired off the street anyway and throw to the wolves. I eventually did pretty well and took my certification courses during the school year and over the summers. I could do this with little stress except on my time because education classes are the _lamest, least challenging, and most useless_ classes that I ever took. They’re essentially pass/fail with an “A” being a pass. I can’t cite it because on of my Ed profs mentioned it in class but, at the time, this Education majors at my school received and “A” 90+% of the time. It’s almost like a union – there’s no way to distinguish between those who are any good and those who aren’t.

    I remember studying with my college girlfriend, an elementary ed major, one night. Once she’d finished cutting out the cupcakes and leaves and holiday markers for her classroom calendar project, she watched TV while I finished the 20 or so Differential Equations problems I had. She never understood why I’d take so long to study. Education coursework at the graduate level is the same. I submit, for comparison, my Writing Instrucional Rubricks grad class, which I was able to complete in 6 weeks, 3 days a week in a summer, and my grad-level Solid State Physics class. I was able to take the Rubrick class before I was certified and after my second year of teaching. I was a Teachher Nobody and could walk right in and pick it up (and got an “A”). By the end of the semester in Solid State, half of the 20 or so initial students had dropped the course. And they’d had entire 4-year degrees including boatloads of calculus and optics and E&M practice by then. And the point is this:

    Even the people who earned their full degree in, say, Social Studies, rather than shifting their coursework to mostly ed coursework in their junior and senior classes, can’t get work as Timeline Repairman. And they’re even _more_ qualified than their education-also peers. What I mean to say is, if they weren’t teaching, what the hell else are they qualified to do? Surely teaching art and music and US History and the ability to read and write and compute are all important. The question is, with regard to market value, unless your content area is chemistry or computer programming or something mathy, you’re not worth all that much to any employer outside of education. And even then, you’re still less educated in your own chosen field than those who didn’t pursue the education coursework so you’re still at a competitve disadvantage in the non-education marketplace. You’re essentially a lib arts major who dabbles in something else.

    Note that, while college grads, on average, make more than non-grads, amongst the grads, those with techinical backgrounds make more than the non-techies and are a prime mover in the wage-scale disparity b/w grads and non-grads. The liberal arts majors simply pull that average down. Teachers are getting paid pretty much in line with what others who are similarly-educated are bringing in.

    I think the bottom line is this: yes, some teachers want to teach, strive for excellence, and work long and hard because that’s who they are. But, as far as being able to get by without putting in your all, but still collecting all the perks of the dedicated teacher that, short of committing a crime against a student, teaching’s a lucrative liftime appointment for everyone. Even those that suck donkey balls.

    Not being my own blog, a thousand pardons for being so bloviated.

  10. #10 |  JOR | 


    It’s amazing how easily libertarians abandon individualism in the deepest way without even realizing it when engaging in the same old by-the-book apologism. You’ve just managed to paint government as the only defense of individuals and minorities against the tyranny of the majority. Bravo.

    And seriously, what’s with the magical view of ‘government intervention’? Government is just people in society expressing their values (that is to say, acting) in a particular way. It’s true that they do this by means other than market exchange, but a person chasing off a burglar with a pistol is not engaging in market exchange either.

    Of course I’m sure that my objections will be taken as an endorsement of state-run healthcare or whatever. They’re not in the slightest; whether healthcare is run directly by the state or through its favorites in the corporate-medical class (i.e. the “free market” solution) is a trifling issue as far as I’m concerned. I’m more concerned with the common libertarian tendency to throw away moral and political individualism whenever it’s inconvenient to defending private power (whether it’s the power of parents or the privilege of economic elites). Just world bias gets us all, I guess.

  11. #11 |  JOR | 

    “I don’t think you get what Market Value is . It includes all factors.”

    Precisely. If people use the government or collective bargaining or any other libertoidal boogieman to get higher pay, they’ve increased their market value.

    It’s because market value is everything, that it cannot be used as part of an argument for or against anything.

  12. #12 |  Highway | 

    JOR, what the heck are you talking about? I didn’t even mention government, or defense of minorities. And where do I talk about throwing away individualism?

    I don’t care about Just World theory. My comment at #53 was saying that pricing is a good way to deal with allocation of a scarce good, since ability to pay is just as good a way to determine that allocation as any other method.

    And by the by, it’s pretty common (even among libertarians) to think that government is *a* defender of the minority from the majority. Maybe you think ‘individual’ violence is better. But I have no idea where you get the crackpot idea that I think government is the ‘only’ defender.

  13. #13 |  More on Lawrence O’Donnell | The Agitator | 

    […] was thinking a bit more about that Lawrence O’Donnell rant from Tuesday night. And the more you think about it, the more wrong he gets. For example, over the […]

  14. #14 |  Luther Blissette | 

    I’m a Canadian leftist – I support unions, taxing corporations and staying out of imperialist military adventures.

    But I also have a deep respect for the work done by some libertarian outfits, specifically’s articles on the militarization of the police and’s chronicling of the ‘War of Terror’. And I’ll gladly add my voice to cursing the brain-dead corporate liberal pundits now clogging our airways.

  15. #15 |  Why Lawrence O’Donnell Is Not a Real Journalist Either | 

    […] Balko responds and then responds some […]

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