Monthly Archives: February 2008

Pew Report: 1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars in 2008

A Pew report found that 1 in every 100 U.S. adults is now behind bars. The breakdown along racial and ethnic lines is even more disturbing. In the 18 and over age demographic for males, Pew found that 1 in 106 white males are behind bars compared to 1 in 36 for Hispanic males, and 1 in 15 for black males. The most incarcerated group of all is black males from the ages of 20 to 34 with 1 in 9 in this group behind bars.

Pew also found a large gender gap in incarcerations; 1 in 54 all males (18 and over) are behind bars compared to 1 in 265 of all women ages 35 to 69 (“all women 18 and over” must have been too small of a group to measure). The least incarcerated group of all is white women ages 35 to 39 with only 1 in 355.

One would think that based on an adult population of 230 million that with 1 in 100 in jail or prison that our country must be full of murderers, rapists, and thieves. How do we manage to leave our homes without being raped, robbed, or murdered?

Maybe the reason we have so many Americans behind bars has to do with something else: too many “crimes” which do not violate the rights of a non-consenting other. Maybe it is our laws that are the problem.

Gene Healy of the Cato Institute made the following observation in an article he wrote in 2005 called “Criminalization out of Control.”

Because Congress criminalizes unreflectively, the federal criminal code has become vast and incomprehensible. A research team led by professor John Baker of Louisiana State Law School recently estimated that there are more than 4,000 separate federal criminal offenses. That number, inexact as it is, vastly understates the breadth of the criminal law, because the federal criminal code, in turn, incorporates by reference tens of thousands of regulatory violations never voted on by Congress. [Emphasis mine]

And this burgeoning culture of criminalization reverberates down the law enforcement ladder as local police increasingly use handcuffs and jail to deal with situations that clearly don’t warrant it. In September, at a Washington, D.C., bus stop, a Metro transit officer forced a pregnant woman to the ground and handcuffed her for talking too loudly on her cell phone. In April, in St. Petersburg, Fla., police were called into an elementary school to handcuff an unruly 5-year-old girl.

One of our most destructive overcriminalization binges occurred during the “Just Say No” era, when Congress embraced mandatory minimum sentencing as a way to deal with the use of illicit drugs. Making prison the solution to drug abuse has had staggering social costs.

This Pew study bears this out as the study states:

In short, experts say, expanding prisons will accomplish less and cost more than it has in the past.


[W]ith one in 100 adults looking out at this country from behind an expensive wall of bars, the potential of new approaches cannot be ignored.

There is, however, some good news that perhaps some of these new approaches are not being ignored. The report also found that states are learning that incarceration is not always the best answer. Some states are taking another look at their mandatory minimum sentencing statutes and have begun to prioritize the limited space based on violent offenses vs. nonviolent offenses. More states are also giving “drug courts” and treatment programs for nonviolent drug offenders another look as an alternative to incarceration. This could be a big step in the right direction given that drug offenses account for 53.5% of the national prison population.

Still, there is much work to be done in reforming our broken criminal justice system due in large part to the war on (some) drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing.

Hat Tip: Cato Daily Dispatch for February 29, 2008


What Ron Paul Could Have Learned From Barry Goldwater And William F. Buckley

In what may well be one of the last published articles he wrote, William F. Buckley Jr. recalls the problems that arose when the John Birchers got too close to Barry Goldwater’s Presidential Campaign:

The society had been founded in 1958 by an earnest and capable entrepreneur named Robert Welch, a candy man, who brought together little clusters of American conservatives, most of them businessmen. He demanded two undistracted days in exchange for his willingness to give his seminar on the Communist menace to the United States, which he believed was more thoroughgoing and far-reaching than anyone else in America could have conceived. His influence was near-hypnotic, and his ideas wild. He said Dwight D. Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,” and that the government of the United States was “under operational control of the Communist party.” It was, he said in the summer of 1961, “50-70 percent” Communist-controlled.


The society became a national cause célèbre—so much so, that a few of those anxious to universalize a draft-Goldwater movement aiming at a nomination for President in 1964 thought it best to do a little conspiratorial organizing of their own against it.

So, in 1962, a meeting took place between Goldwater, Buckley, and Russell Kirk at which a crucial decision was made:

Time was given to the John Birch Society lasting through lunch, and the subject came up again the next morning. We resolved that conservative leaders should do something about the John Birch Society. An allocation of responsibilities crystallized.

Goldwater would seek out an opportunity to dissociate himself from the “findings” of the Society’s leader, without, however, casting any aspersions on the Society itself. I, in National Review and in my other writing, would continue to expose Welch and his thinking to scorn and derision. “You know how to do that,” said Jay Hall.

I volunteered to go further. Unless Welch himself disowned his operative fallacy, National Review would oppose any support for the society.

“How would you define the Birch fallacy?” Jay Hall asked.

“The fallacy,” I said, “is the assumption that you can infer subjective intention from objective consequence: we lost China to the Communists, therefore the President of the United States and the Secretary of State wished China to go to the Communists.”

“I like that,” Goldwater said.

What would Russell Kirk do? He was straightforward. “Me? I’ll just say, if anybody gets around to asking me, that the guy is loony and should be put away.”

“Put away in Alaska?” I asked, mock-seriously. The wisecrack traced to Robert Welch’s expressed conviction, a year or so earlier, that the state of Alaska was being prepared to house anyone who doubted his doctrine that fluoridated water was a Communist-backed plot to weaken the minds of the American public.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Goldwater didn’t win in 1964, but his candidacy created the political apparatus of a conservative movement that elected Ronald Reagan President sixteen years later.

Ron Paul could’ve done this. He could’ve explicitly disavowed Stormfront and denounced them as racists. He could have disowned Alex Jones and the 9/11 Truthers and scorned them as the kooks that they are. He could have outed the author of his newsletters by name instead of prevaricating.

But he didn’t. Apparently, the idea wasn’t even considered. And, because of that, his candidacy is going to be dismissed by history as part of the kook fringe rather than the beginning of a movement for freedom.

H/T: Hit & Run

Wake Up When The Alarm Clock Goes Off…

…or you just might find yourself supporting the American Socialist Party:

For years the masses have told you that if you snooze you lose. You never believed them. You held your head high and slept in whenever you wanted to, always without fear of loss. Well, dear friends, the times have changed. The ingenious sages at ThinkGeek Labs(TM) have finally created the Ultimate weapon against snoozing – the Sn?zNL?z(TM). People who enjoy sleeping in are cowering in fear all across the globe – it’s finally true, when you snooze, you lose!

ThinkGeek, it sounds great! But how does it really work?
Glad you asked….it’s quite simple actually. The Sn?zNL?z uses the very complex psychological phenomemon known as ‘HATRED’. Basically it’s human nature to wish harm upon your enemies. Similarly, it’s human nature not to give your enemies gobs of cash so that they can grow big and dominate the world with their totally wrong, stupid and invalid point of view. ThinkGeek realized that. That’s why everytime you hit the snooze button, the Sn?zNL?z will donate a specified amount of your real money to a non-profit you hate. The problem of sleeping in is solved.

And it’s easy to setup and use too! Just plug your Sn?zNL?z in and either connect it to your network via the RJ45 jack on the back, or via WiFi (WPA supported) if available. Then simply configure via the embedded web browser configuration utility. From here it’s a snap. Simply select your online banking institution from the list of supported banks (currently over 1600 are supported). Supply your login information and then select your favorite HATED charity or non-profit from the included lists (over 6200 currently supported). Then plug in your donation amount per snooze incident ($10 or more), set the time, and alarm, and voila, instant time profit!

I’ll admit, I’m usually guilty of the snooze button mentality. I compensate by setting the alarm earlier than necessary, so that I know I have extra snooze time in the morning. Some people, on the other hand, will hit snooze until they’re late for work (or whatever else they’re supposed to do in the morning). I’m sure this would be quite a good incentive to stop that behavior!

Memo To Ohio: It’s Not NAFTA’s Fault

In today’s New York Times, Daniel Leonhardt examines the logic behind the Democratic candidates’ NAFTA-bashing as they campaign in Ohio:

The first problem with what the candidates have been saying is that Ohio’s troubles haven’t really been caused by trade agreements. When Nafta took effect on Jan. 1, 1994, Ohio had 990,000 manufacturing jobs. Two years later, it had 1.03 million. The number remained above one million for the rest of the 1990s, before plummeting in this decade to just 775,000 today.

It’s hard to look at this history and conclude Nafta is the villain. In fact, Nafta did little to reduce tariffs on Mexican manufacturers, notes Matthew Slaughter, a Dartmouth economist. Those tariffs were already low before the agreement was signed.

A more important cause of Ohio’s jobs exodus is the rise of China, India and the old Soviet bloc, which has brought hundreds of millions of workers into the global economy. New technology and better transportation have then made it easier for jobs to be done in those places and elsewhere. To put it in concrete terms, your credit card’s customer service center isn’t in Ireland because of a new trade deal.

All this global competition has brought some big benefits, too. Consider that cars, furniture, clothing, computers and televisions — which are all subject to global competition — have become more affordable, relative to everything else. Medical care, movie tickets and college tuition — all protected from such competition — have become more expensive.

In other words, more open trade is a net plus for all of us, including the people of Ohio.

There’s no doubt that Ohio has experienced economic dislocation, most recently thanks to the closing of several automobile plants, including a massive Ford plant near Cleveland’s Hopkins Airport, but that’s not because of free trade, it’s because Ford, GM, and Chrylser aren’t making cars that people want to buy.

Blaming free trade is both misplaced and unwise. Repealing NAFTA would be a huge mistake that would harm the economies of the three largest nations in North America. Of course, with Barack Obama’s campaign secretly telling Canada that his anti-NAFTA rhetoric is nothing to worry about, it’s fairly clear that what we’re hearing right now is really nothing more than demagoguery.

I Don’t Smoke — But ‘My Character’ Does!

Bars in Minnesota are finding interesting and creative ways to get around the state smoking ban:

What started as a quirky idea to get around the statewide smoking ban appears to be spreading like wildfire.

Dozens of bars are expected to stage “theater nights” this weekend in which patrons are dubbed actors. The law, which went into effect in October, permits performers to smoke during a theatrical production. “Two weeks ago, we had one bar doing this,” said Mark Benjamin, a criminal defense attorney who launched the theater-night idea. He estimates 50 to 100 bars could be on tap for theater nights this weekend based on phone calls, e-mails and requests for the how-to-stage-a-theater-night packet that he’s devised. And many bar owners are passing on the information quickly among themselves without getting in contact with him.

When people are this drawn to smoking, especially in a place so brutally cold as Minnesota, where it was -9 degrees F the last time I was there, is it any surprise that they’ll find *any* way to get around this nanny state idiocy, even if it eventually means blatant violations of the law?

I’d say that perhaps these advocates of a smoking ban should simply drop the veil, show their true colors, and declare that they wish to see smoking made illegal nationwide. I would hope that this would lead to widespread outrage among Americans in favor of individual freedom. But in modern times, where the Constitution and its protection on individual rights has been replaced by worship at the idol of democracy, I think there wouldn’t be much resistance at all. After all, I live in California, where I think there’s more social acceptance of marijuana than there is of tobacco. The biggest fight would not come from individual citizens, but from the beneficiaries of government largess paid for by cigarette taxes.

William F. Buckley, Jr. And The Libertarians

Robert Poole, former Editor-in-Chief at Reason comments on the passing of William F. Buckley and his role in what eventually became the American libertarian movement:

By creating National Review in 1955 as a serious, intellectually respectable conservative voice (challenging the New Deal consensus among thinking people), Buckley created space for the development of our movement. He kicked out the racists and conspiracy-mongers from conservatism and embraced Chicago and Austrian economists, introducing a new generation to Hayek, Mises, and Friedman. And thanks to the efforts of NR’s Frank Meyer to promote a “fusion” between economic (free-market) conservatives and social conservatives, Buckley and National Review fostered the growth of a large enough conservative movement to nominate Goldwater for president and ultimately to elect Ronald Reagan.


Some commentators dubbed Buckley a “libertarian conservative,” and in the broadest sense, I guess that was true. Though he seldom let National Review deviate from his own Catholic social issues positions (especially on banning abortion), Buckley courageously took a stance against drug prohibition, making common cause on that issue with Friedman and other libertarians. And that enlightened view seemed to survive Buckley’s retirement as the magazine’s editor in chief (as one hopes it will survive his demise).

Read the whole thing, it’s worth it.

William F. Buckley, Jr. Dies At 82

William F. Buckley, Jr., the founder of National Review and arguably the founder of the modern American conservative movement, died today at the age of 82:

William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn.

Mr Buckley, 82, suffered from diabetes and emphysema, his son Christopher said, although the exact cause of death was not immediately known. He was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said. “He might have been working on a column,” Mr. Buckley said.

Mr. Buckley’s winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater’s, hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine, National Review.


Mr. Buckley’s greatest achievement was making conservatism — not just electoral Republicanism, but conservatism as a system of ideas — respectable in liberal post-World War II America. He mobilized the young enthusiasts who helped nominate Barry Goldwater in 1964, and saw his dreams fulfilled when Reagan and the Bushes captured the Oval Office.

In remarks at National Review’s 30th anniversary in 1985, President Reagan joked that he picked up his first issue of the magazine in a plain brown wrapper and still anxiously awaited his biweekly edition — “without the wrapper.”

“You didn’t just part the Red Sea — you rolled it back, dried it up and left exposed, for all the world to see, the naked desert that is statism,” Mr. Reagan said.

“And then, as if that weren’t enough,” the president continued, “you gave the world something different, something in its weariness it desperately needed, the sound of laughter and the sight of the rich, green uplands of freedom.”

I cut my political teeth on much of what Buckley wrote, subscribing to National Review when I was in high school and watching Firing Line, which remains one of the most unique political talk shows ever produced and far more iintellectual and reasoned than what passes for commentary today on shows like Hannity & Colmes or The O’Reilly Factor. I didn’t always agree with what I read, but it was the starting path down a road that lead me to discover people like Milton Friedman, a Buckley favorite, and F.A. Hayek.

Buckley was also different from what passes for conservatism today. Much more rational, eloquent, and respectful of dissenting opinions. In the 1950s, he rejected any coalition with John Birchers or other anti-semites, realizing, correctly, that they would only marginalize the political goal he wanted to achieve:

“Bill was responsible or rejecting the John Birch Society and the other kooks who passed off anti-Semitism or some such as conservatism,” Hugh Kenner, a biographer of Ezra Pound and a frequent contributor to National Review told The Washington Post. “Without Bill — if he had decided to become an academic or a businessman or something else — without him, there probably would be no respectable conservative movement in this country.”

And, since the libertarian movement had it’s roots in the rebirth of conservatism, one could make the case that libertarianism wouldn’t exist as it does today.

Buckley also had his libertarian streak. Back in 1973, he took his yacht outside the territorial waters of the United States and smoked marijuana to “see what it was like.” In later years, he publicly called for reform of the drug laws. And, though he supported the Iraq War in the beginning, by 2006 he was one of the few people on the right willing to admit that it was a failure.

He was, in other words, a thoughtful conservative. And there aren’t many of those any more.

Dick Armey On Illegal Immigration

A great video from


“The biggest immigration problem we got in America is a government that’s not doing its job,” says Armey. “I don’t like illegal immigration, but I’ll tell you something: I don’t run stop lights. But you put me out on the road at two o’clock in the morning on the way to the all-night drugstore to get medicine for my babies, and you give me a stop light that is stuck on red, and no traffic in sight, and I’m gonna go through that red light.”

Why is it that politicians always make more sense after they leave office ?

The Relationship Between Immigration And Crime

The San Jose Mercury News reports on a study of California’s immigrant, including illegal immigrant, population:

Countering widespread belief, a new report shows California’s foreign-born population – including illegal immigrants – makes up only a sliver of the state’s population of inmates.

The report by the Public Policy Institute of California, released Monday, also suggests the foreign-born population, which makes up more than a third of the state’s adults, plays a disproportionately smaller role in serious crime.

“Crime, Corrections, and California: What Does Immigration Have to Do with It?” gives one of the clearest glimpses yet into the impact of immigrants and immigration on the state’s justice system.

It also aims to dispel the perception that cities with large foreign-born populations are criminal hot beds, with several California cities showing a dip in police activity amid recent immigration waves.

Among the study’s conclusions:

• Foreign-born men make up about 35 percent of the state’s adult male population, but they are roughly 17 percent of the state’s overall prison inmates.

• U.S.-born men are jailed in state prisons at a rate more than three times higher than foreign-born men and are 10 times more likely to land behind bars.

• Male Mexican nationals ages 18 to 40 – those more likely to have entered the country illegally – are more than eight times less likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to be imprisoned.

• Those who entered the country when they were 1 year old or younger make up about 0.8 percent of those institutionalized.

More from the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Our research indicates that limiting immigration, requiring higher educational levels to obtain visas or spending more money to increase penalties against criminal immigrants will have little impact on public safety,” [report co-author Kristen] Butcher said in a statement.

So much for that canard, I suppose.

Apparently, The Ron Paul Newsletters Weren’t An Anomaly

This, apparently, is the crap that the Ron Paul for President campaign is putting in mailboxes all over Texas:

Yeah, that’s how libertarians people who pretend to be libertarians act. Pandering to the worst instincts in the American psyche.

Sorry, Ron, for me at least, it’s officially over. Frankly, at this point, I don’t even care if you lose the primary in TX-14 next Tuesday.

Update: For those who asked in the comments, the supposition that this is directed at Texas voters is based on the fact that the campaign said two weeks ago that it was concentrating all it’s efforts on the Texas primary. They haven’t spent money anywhere else since Super Tuesday.

Update # 2: Since there seem to be some people clinging to the idea that the ad is fake, I sent the following email to the campaign:

Can you please confirm or deny that the mailer discussed in this link:

Is in fact a piece of official campaign material.

Doug Mataconis (email address redacted)

Any response I receive will be posted here.

Georgia Senate committee reviews “No knock” warrants

Last week the Judiciary Committee in the Georgia Senate backed a measure that would make it tougher to obtain a “no-knock warrant”:

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Vincent Fort, (D) Atlanta, would require officers who want to use so-called “no-knock” search warrants to go to a judge and prove that there is probable cause to believe that the officers’ lives would be in danger if they knocked first, or that there is probable cause to believe that evidence inside the home would be destroyed — such as drugs being flushed down a toilet — if they knocked first.

“For the government to go into your house, they ought to be held to a higher standard,” Fort said. “To go into your house without knocking, they ought to be held to a real high standard.”

This comes in response to the death of Kathryn Johnston, who gunned down in her home in 2006 during a paramilitary police raid.

You can view the legislation here.

Ralph Nader: Jeffersonian ? I Don’t Think So

For reasons known only to him, Ralph Nader announced today that he’s running for President:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Ralph Nader is entering the presidential race as an independent, he announced Sunday, saying it is time for a “Jeffersonian revolution.”

“In the last few years, big money and the closing down of Washington against citizen groups prevent us from trying to improve our country. And I want everybody to have the right and opportunity to improve their country,” he told reporters after an appearance announcing his candidacy on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Asked why he should be president, the longtime consumer advocate said, “Because I got things done.” He cited a 40-year record, which he said includes saving “millions of lives,” bringing about stricter protection for food and water and fighting corporate control over Washington.

This marks his fourth straight White House bid — fifth if his 1992 write-in campaign is included.

Nader said Thomas Jefferson believed that “when you lose your government, you’ve got to go into the electoral arena.”

“A Jeffersonian revolution is needed in this country,” he said.

I’m not which upsets me more. The fact that this old gasbag is running again or that he’s appropriating the name of a true American hero.

Another Quote Of The Day: John McCain Is Right Edition

Some would say it’s tastless, but I’m not one of them:

Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain Friday said he hoped Fidel Castro’s resignation would be followed by his speedy demise, and rapped Democrat Barack Obama for offering talks with Cuba’s next leader.

“Fidel Castro announced that he would not remain as president — whatever that means,” McCain said in Indianapolis.

“And I hope that he has the opportunity to meet Karl Marx very soon.

Along with Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and Che Guevara.

What Would An Obama Presidency Look Like ?

The Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner takes a look in the crystal ball:

Barack Obama is now the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s risen high on his inspiring persona and uplifting rhetoric. At a time of prolonged war and economic uncertainty, he appeals to Americans’ hope for something better than the bitter partisan infighting that has paralyzed Washington. And Obama offers an opportunity for closing America’s racial divide. It is hard not to cheer his success.

Yet, politics is also about issues. And on this score, Sen. Obama represents less hope and change than a wish list for every conceivable liberal special interest group.

Tanner examines Obama’s record on a number of issues including taxes and spending and health care, but this comment about regulation of the economy stands out:

A health care mandate is not the only new regulation that Obama wants to impose. For example, he would require businesses to pay an undefined “living wage.” He would require paid “family and medical leave.” He would regulate mortgages and credit card interest rates. He would impose a host of environmental and labor restrictions. The net cost of this regulatory burden almost certainly will be higher unemployment and greater poverty.

And it’s not just businesses that would feel the regulatory hand of an Obama presidency. Consumers too will have to pay, as he imposes new costs on products ranging from homes to automobiles and appliances. In almost everything we do, Obama sees a need for the government to intervene.

All in all, fairly distressing to anyone who believes in free markets and smaller government.

As I’ve been reminded more than once in the comment threads here, I did vote for Barack Obama in Virginia’s primary earlier this month. So, do I regret that vote ? Considering that I cast it with few illusions about what kind of policies Obama advocated, I’ve got to agree with Megan McArdle and say no:

Obama’s rhetoric about trade, and his insanely bad economic “patriot act” have certainly given me pause. But do I have buyer’s remorse? No. For starters, I clearly prefer Obama to Hillary as president; on the assumption that there’s a very good chance that Generic Democrat will win the election, the primary outcome suits me.

In the general? I might not vote for Obama; I will not vote for McCain. There are some things more important than the economy, and free speech is among them. Yes, I don’t like Obama’s stance on the Second Amendment, but the difference is, the president has little wiggle room right now on the second, while McCain might do serious further damage to the first, or the fourth. I dislike the steps Obama is willing to take in order to achieve his goals of economic equality. But these are as nothing to the notion that citizens have to be protected from information because Big Daddy John thinks we’ll get bad ideas in our heads.

For me, it’s more like I am fairly sure that I won’t vote for Obama and definitely won’t vote for McCain. If Hillary is the Democratic nominee, which I think is entirely unlikely at this point (reasons here and here), then I might consider McCain only to stop her, but someone would really have to convince me that it was worth sacrificing my principles to vote against her. If it comes to to McCain and Obama, then it looks like it will be another vote for the Libertarian Party from me.

Quote Of The Day: Robert Higgs On Immigration And Welfare

The Independent Institute’s Robert Higgs has a great essay out on the debate over illegal immigration as it applies to the welfare state:

Anti-immigrationists often say that the Mexicans come here only to go on welfare. Aside from this declaration’s manifest misrepresentation of the truth, one wonders why the obvious remedy for this alleged problem does not occur to them: get rid of welfare—after all, nobody, regardless of his place of birth, has a just right to live at other people’s coerced expense.

Others claim that the “illegals” crowd the public schools and hospitals, sucking resources away from the taxpayers. If so, then the answer is the same: get the government out of the business of schooling and healing; it ought never to have gone there in the first place.

Some Americans clothe their hatred with the charge that the foreigners who come here commit crimes, such as selling drugs and conducting businesses without a license. Of course, drug peddling and working without a government license ought never to have been criminalized in the first place, for anybody, because these acts violate no one’s just rights. If people are worried about real crimes, such as robbery and murder, they need to recall that laws against these crimes already exist, and no special “preemptive war” against potential immigrant offenders can be justified, any more than I can justify nuking Philadelphia today on the strength of my absolute conviction that some residents of that city will commit serious crimes tomorrow.


If we must choose—and indeed we must—between the world’s most powerful and aggressive state, on the one hand, and a man who wishes to move to Yakima to support his family by picking apples, on the other hand, which side does human decency dictate that we choose? Unfortunately, in this situation, it is all too plain that many Americans are choosing to worship the state and to make a fetish of the borders it has established by patently unjust means. As for this wandering Okie, I’d sooner prostrate myself before a golden calf.

What he said.

John Shadegg Will Run For Re-Election After All

Reversing a decision he announced two weeks ago, Arizona Congressman John Shaddegg has announced that he will run for re-election in November:

Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), who abruptly announced his retirement just 10 days ago, has changed his mind and will be running for reelection in his Phoenix-area congressional district.

Shadegg, who unsuccessfully sought the Republicans’ top House leadership post in 2006, has been one of the leading conservative voices in Congress. After he announced his intention to retire, 146 House Republicans signed a letter last Thursday urging him to reconsider his decision — advice which he accepted.

”My decision was made after deep reflection and consultation with my family. It was entirely a personal decision between me and my family. The reactions of my constituents and my friends now suggest there were implications far broader than we had contemplated,” Shadegg said in a statement released this evening.

“In deciding to leave Congress, I felt I could serve my country and continue to wage the battle for conservative principles just as effectively in private life. It turns out many others believe that would be a mistake.”

Oh the whole, this is good news. Shadegg is a solid fiscal conservative and was one of the few Republican voices dissenting from the spending practices of the party when it held power in Congress.

Shadegg may not be in Congress for long though; word on the Hill is that he will run for John McCain’s Senate seat if McCain is elected President.

UK Considering “Permit” To Buy Cigarettes

Let me ask, does this remind anyone of a marijuana tax stamp?

A ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone who does not pay for a government smoking permit has been proposed by Health England, a ministerial advisory board.

The idea is the brainchild of the board’s chairman, Julian Le Grand, who is a professor at the London School of Economics and was Tony Blair’s senior health adviser. In a paper being studied by Lord Darzi, the health minister appointed to oversee NHS reform, he says many smokers would be helped to break the habit if they had to make a decision whether to “opt in”.

The permit might cost as little as £10, but acquiring it could be made difficult if the forms were sufficiently complex, Le Grand said last night.

His paper says: “Suppose every individual who wanted to buy tobacco had to purchase a permit. And suppose further they had to do this every year. To get a permit would involve filling out a form and supplying a photograph, as well as paying the fee. Permits would only be issued to those over 18 and evidence of age would have to be provided. The money raised would go to the NHS.”

I’m sure that acquiring the permit would slowly become more and more difficult. Just think, the day comes that you apply for the permit and your voice is a bit hoarse from having a cold, or from cheering on your favorite “football” team, and they interpret the voice as an indication that you’re unhealthy and deny your permit.

In fact, it seems like this is one more step in the goal of eventually making smoking downright illegal. If they weren’t making enormous taxes off the sale of cigarettes, they’d already have done it. Of course, you may point out that if they make cigarettes illegal, only the criminals will have cigarettes. And I’d point out that you’re right, as high cigarette taxes have already created a black market that will only expand with a law like this:

The paper, written by Le Grand and Divya Srivastava, an LSE researcher, acknowledges: “Administratively it would require addressing the problem of the existing black markets and smuggling in tobacco; but this should probably be done anyway.”

Hell, if the government can’t stop bacon-wrapped hot dogs, how are they going to stop addictive drugs?

Hat Tip: Radley Balko

More on Obama’s Doublespeak

Last week I wrote a post about how Barack Obama was trying to have it both ways on the Second Amendment. Ken Blackwell at, however, believes that Obama’s doublespeak about the Second Amendment (among some of Obama’s other statements) reveals a disturbing pattern in his attitudes about individual rights and a host of other issues:

Yet while Mr. Obama says he supports your Second Amendment rights, he also says he supports that gun ban. He went on to say that local governments should be able to enact any gun control laws they consider necessary to end gun violence, and that any such measures are constitutional.
What kind of gun rights does he supposedly support? What kind of “right” do you have, when the government can completely rob you of 100% of the exercise of that right, anytime they decide they have a good reason?

That’s like saying you have the right to worship as you choose, but the government has the power to ban attending church. Or that you have the right to free speech, but that government has the power to stop you from speaking about any subject it wants. Or that you have the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, but that anything the government wants to search at your house is automatically reasonable.

A right that the government can completely take away at any time is no right at all.

So to say that the Second Amendment means you can own guns, but that the city where you live can ban all gun ownership, then you have no Second Amendment rights at all.

I truly hope that someone will have an opportunity to ask Obama if he really believes that local governments can toss aside the Constitution whenever convenient (though I have a hard time believing that Obama would restrict federal agents to the Constitution while giving local law enforcement carte blanche to violate basic civil liberties of citizens). As if doublespeak on the Constitution wasn’t enough, we can expect doublespeak on many other issues which concern such issues as the economy, terrorism, and growing government.

The article continues:

This is what Americans could expect from a President Obama. He’ll wax eloquent about your rights, but then say government can take away whatever part of them—or all of them—that it wants.

It’s the disturbing pattern that’s starting to emerge of Mr. Obama announcing a principle or a goal, then endorsing policies that are the exact opposite of what would promote that principle or goal. It’s political-doublespeak. It’s Orwellian. In fact, it’s Clintonian.

Look for this pattern across the board. This is how he’ll empower private markets, by increasing government control. He’ll preserve our private-market healthcare system, by having government take it over. He’ll lower taxes, by raising them. He’ll cut government, by increasing government spending. He’ll create jobs, by raising taxes and fees on business […]

I’m sure there will be even more Obama doublespeak as the campaign wears on. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he proposed a new cabinet level position such as The Ministry Department of Truth.

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