Monthly Archives: July 2013

The “L” Word

The Daily Kos describes Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) as a “selective libertarian.”  Chris Christie warns his party against “libertarian populism.”  Jeremiah wonders, what is this “L” word that has riled up a leftie blog and a Republican governor?  It must be good, if critics are saddling it with descriptions like these – selective, populist, phony.  The first thing you learn, when reading the news, is to question the adjectives.

The idea is clever political gamesmanship that enables the libertarians to walk on both sides of the fence at once.

Not to be outdone, The Huffington Post adds “extremist” and – their vilest insult – “tea party.”  The proximate cause of all this attention is the debate over government surveillance.  Jeremiah has previously anatomized the anti-privacy establishment.  It’s funny to see pundits on both sides warning against the libertarians.

Pundit Sanghoee’s remark, above, echoes the complaint of Jon Huntsman (R-UT) who said that Ron Paul “appeals to the extremes of both parties.”  You can see how this reveals a red versus blue mentality.  The privacy debate has people standing on principle – thinking for themselves, without party whips and talking points.  Clearly, a dangerous trend.

See also:  Free Minds and Free Markets


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Filed under Center Field

Cut Funding, Get Answers

At last, we have a bi-partisan effort to rein in the NSA.  This is encouraging, because the vote split the caucuses.  Not all Republicans are fascists, and not all Democrats will blindly follow their leader into a police state.  The Amash Amendment has given us a list of which congressmen respect our civil rights, and which do not.

The issue split each party down the middle, split members of the Black and Hispanic caucuses, and pitted both conservatives and liberals against one another.

Justin Amash (R-MI) and John Conyers (D-MI) sponsored this amendment to the defense spending bill.  The vote went narrowly against it, 205-217.  Supporters included Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Jared Polis (D-CO).  Details of the amendment are here, on Rep. Amash’s web site.  The roll call is here.   Please find your district, and vote accordingly in 2014.

This was a House vote.  We have previously identified pro-privacy senators here – Mark Udall (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).


Even though it failed, analysts were surprised the amendment did as well as it did.  The leadership of both parties was against it, including the White House.  Their position is that the NSA needs broad powers of surveillance in order to protect us from terrorism.  They want Congress, and public opinion, to have a more measured debate on the topic.

It’s not clear how we are supposed to have a measured debate, when the program is a state secret.  We would not be having any debate at all, if Edward Snowden had not “illegally” disclosed it.

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Filed under Civil Rights

America’s Star Chamber

image-512959-breitwandaufmacher-vdpfKafka would be amused.  It turns out that the NSA wiretapping program is, in fact, “legal.”  You just wouldn’t know it, because the relevant laws are secret.

That’s right.  The secret spy program is authorized by the secret orders of a secret court.  God help you if you unwittingly break one of the secret laws.  Then it’s off to the secret jails for some “enhanced interrogation.”

This secret court, with its secret body of law, makes a parallel judicial system outside the one given by the Constitution – you know, the one with those quaint notions about due process.

Can you say Stasi?  The German press can.  They have seen this movie before.  The image here is from Der Spiegel’s coverage of street protests in Berlin.  Germans are in the street, calling for Edward Snowden to be granted asylum.  How come no one is marching here in America?

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Filed under Liberty

Duty to Retreat

Many wanted George Zimmerman to be found guilty of something, at least manslaughter.  Jeremiah, on principle, must accept the jury’s verdict.  He does not have any special information that was overlooked by the judge and jury in Sanford, nor does he have any special claim to superior wisdom or objectivity.

This legislative language is so faux macho it makes you wonder whether Florida lawmakers meet in a school playground.

People express their frustration in different ways.  Some have resorted to violence.  Some are vilifying Florida and its self defense laws.  This article in the Financial Times refers to a “faux macho” law, written by playground bullies.  Jeremiah turned to an actual lawyer, and found this:

  • The “stand your ground”  clause was not used in the trial.
  • The more basic, “reasonable fear for your life” test was used.
  • The “fear for your life” test is part of all self defense statutes, not just Florida.
  • The “stand your ground” clause is part of the law in thirty states.

If you feel the Zimmerman verdict calls for a reexamination of self defense laws, you might think about a twelve person jury or a higher standard of evidence.  You should not incite people to violence, and you should not believe everything you read in the Financial Times.

See also:  Sharpton Crosses the Line

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Filed under Justice, Media

Fascism and the City

PoliceWe were going to let New York be, since Mayor Bloomberg is retiring anyway.  Now, we are obliged to examine the city’s record on civil rights, because Sen. Schumer has proposed New York’s police commissioner to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Stop and frisk – In New York, the police can search you without cause.  We can’t believe this happens in America.  Never mind the racial profiling – the whole program is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Bloomberg warned that drones would be able to peep into private residences

Banning big sodas – This was just the teaser.  First, they know better how to mind your health, then your security, then it’s “up against the wall.”

Surveillance – New York has implemented a citywide network of surveillance cameras.  The mayor openly scoffs at the idea of personal privacy.  They can watch you in all public spaces, many private ones, and the drones are coming.

In every policy, from soda to surveillance, Mayor Bloomberg has demonstrated his disregard for civil rights.  The policeman who has implemented these policies is not the kind of man we want running the DHS.

See also:  Stop Ray Kelly from leading DHS

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Filed under Civil Rights

Poder a Los Estudiantes

Dear President Bachelet, we read in The Economist about your plan to nationalize the universities and provide free education.  This is a laudable goal, and we are writing to you with some advice based on what we have seen in the United States.  Our educational system is very expensive, and it produces poor results.  This is confirmed by international surveys.

If your government supports the universities directly, then you will see quality go down and expenses go up.  In the U.S., we have seen this result in both primary education which is directly supported, and in universities which are supported through government loans.

The important thing is that the schools are paid only by the students.

If you want to provide a good education to your citizens, then the schools must be exposed to competition.  Through competition, the students themselves will enforce standards of quality and cost.  The way to do this is to provide financial assistance directly to the students.

Current payments are best.  If you use loans, and the loans are below a market rate, then the universities will game them as they have done here.

You may distribute aid to the students using any criteria you wish.  You may choose which taxes or efficiencies will fund it.  The important thing is that the schools are paid only by the students.   You might also want to encourage the development of vocational schools, like they have in Germany.

See also:  The Education-Industrial Complex

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Filed under Education

Abandon Ship!

jumping_shipWe had seen enough of the Zimmerman trial, and we pressed the channel button until Howard Kurtz appeared.  But, wait – that’s not CNN.  Our favorite media analyst has jumped ship.  Howard was on Fox News complaining, coincidentally, that CNN is spending too much time on the Zimmerman trial – and the Arias trial before that – soap opera, he said, to the exclusion of real news.

The next Bob Woodward is not going to come from CNN.

It is possible that CNN programmers have made a conscious decision to go after a larger and dumber audience, much as Rupert Murdoch likes to move his editorial down and to the right.  Another possibility is that CNN, a faithful supporter of the Obama administration, doesn’t have much to say.  CNN was strong while Bush was in office, and now they’ve gone soft.

To be a reporter, you have to dig, and you have to attack – no matter who is in the White House.  The next Bob Woodward is not going to come from CNN.  If you are a rising young reporter, like John King or Anderson Cooper, your only hope is to get a Republican target in 2016 – or else, follow Howard.

See also:  Elisabeth Hasselbeck Joining Fox News

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Filed under Media