Monthly Archives: April 2010

Feds Fighting War On Immigration Like War On Drugs

Idiocy. That’s all I can use to preface this:

The 26-page draft obtained by CNN attempts to woo GOP senators in part by calling for “concrete benchmarks” to secure the border before granting illegal immigrants the opportunity to gain legal status.

Those benchmarks include: increasing the number of border patrol officers and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, increasing the number of personnel available to inspect for drugs and contraband, and improving technology used to assist ICE agents.

At the same time, “high-tech ground sensors” would be installed across the Mexican border. Officers would be equipped with the “technological capability to respond to activation of the ground sensors in the area they are patrolling,” according to the draft.

Fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant biometric Social Security cards would be issued to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants. Fines for knowingly hiring someone not eligible for employment would be increased by 300 percent. Repeat offenders would face time in prison.

So paragraph 2 above is a huge new federal jobs program, and paragraph 3 is a huge new federal spending/procurement program. I’m sure the public sector unions and military-industrial complex are cheering.

The final paragraph is an enhanced version of e-Verify, a colossal failure of a program on many levels. In addition, as Doug says, it’s a bit too much like a national ID card for his liking.

The economic reality in this country is that we need the immigrant workforce we have today. The government’s creation (by making this immigration illegal) of a black market brings with it a host of unintended and completely unnecessary consequences. But this “secure the border first” approach is fundamentally backwards. As it was so eloquently said by Daniel Griswold of Cato:

It’s like saying, in 1932, that we can’t repeal the nationwide prohibition on alcohol consumption until we’ve drastically reduced the number of moonshine stills and bootleggers. But Prohibition itself created the conditions for the rise of those underground enterprises, and the repeal of Prohibition was necessary before the government could “get control” of its unintended consequences.

Much like the drug war, when you have demand, you will have supply, regardless of whether the product is legal or not. Much like the drug war, the Senate seems to think that if you merely step up enforcement, you can repeal the laws of supply and demand, instead of merely shifting the margins. Make no mistake — illegal immigration CAN be curtailed through enforcement, but it will require laws and penalties so draconian as to make what’s happening in Arizona look liberal. America will not (and should not have to) stomach it.

Liberal immigration policies and secure borders aren’t mutually exclusive. After all, the end of prohibition reduced all the associated unintended consequences of the moonshine & rum-running trade, and dramatically reduced the organized crime element to protect that trade. But notice that it was the end of prohibition, not the increase in enforcement actions, that solved the problem. Likewise, with immigration we need a way to get immigrants into this country legally in a way consistent with our economic needs, and then we can work on securing the borders from the trickle of attempted entries left over.

This immigration proposal shows Congress doing what they do best — spending lots and lots of money, growing the size and scope of government, and leaving the root causes of the problem pretty well untouched.

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Quote Of The Day

From Matt Welch, @ Reason:

I have also “knowingly employ[ed] an unauthorized alien,” and “intentionally employ[ed] unauthorized aliens” (or at least, I had a pretty good idea that the dudes in front of Home Depot had a non-trivial chance of being “unauthorized”). Speaking of which, “unauthorized” is my new favorite illegal/undocumented term of art.

“Unauthorized.”

I love it.

“Illegal” implies criminality, and as we all know, only unsavory characters break the law. Except for all the laws that we break daily — those don’t count. “Illegal” aliens are bad people, or they’d not be doing something illegal.

“Undocumented”, on the other hand, implies a paperwork snafu. Don’t worry, boss, we’ll get the contract signed once my secretary faxes it over. Gotta get the documents right, but we need to wait on the corporate signature-trail to come in line. Don’t worry, we’re all trying to get things done, but why wait on the paperwork when we need to make progress here?

But “unauthorized”?

No, nothing but “unauthorized” can correctly describe what we’ve got going on here. While “illegal” implies an impartial rule-making system under which we all fit, “authorized” implies an authority figure, an in-group, and an out-group. No term better signifies a society where your rights exist at the pleasure of the State, a society where you’d better fall in line, or your authorization might be terminated. An arbitrary and capricious regime who holds in its grasp the very ability to approve or deny your existence as an economic actor.

We’ve left the impersonal confines of appeal to law or appeal to process. Now we’re straight on to appeal to the king rule of men. You’d best make sure those men are your friends, not your enemies.

Supreme Court To Decide If California Can Ban Sale Of “Violent” Video Games To Minors

Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a California law that made it illegal to sell “violent” video games to minors. Today, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the State of California’s appeal in that case:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will decide whether free speech rights are more important than helping parents keep violent material away from children.

The justices agreed Monday to consider reinstating California’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, a law the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco threw out last year on grounds that it violated minors’ constitutional rights.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the law in 2005, said he was pleased the high court would review the appeals court decision. He said, ”We have a responsibility to our kids and our communities to protect against the effects of games that depict ultra-violent actions, just as we already do with movies.”

However, the judge who wrote the decision overturning the law said at the time that there was no research showing a connection between violent video games and psychological harm to young people.

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case comes only a week after the high court voted overwhelmingly to strike down a federal law banning videos showing animal cruelty. The California case poses similar free speech concerns, although the state law is aimed at protecting children, raising an additional issue

Yes, yes, it’s a familiar argument:

Of course, there already is someone thinking of the children, their parents:

Video games already are labeled with a rating system that lets parents decide what games their children can purchase and play.

Isn’t this a job for the parents, not the state ?

Given the lopsided outcome in the animal cruelty case, it seems that the law would have an uphill battle before the Justices, although its proponents don’t seem to think so:

Leland Yee, the California state senator who wrote the video game ban, said the Supreme Court obviously doesn’t think the animal cruelty video ban and the violent video game ban are comparable. If the justices thought that, he said, they would not be reviewing the 9th Circuit’s decision to throw out the video game ban.

”Clearly, the justices want to look specifically at our narrowly tailored law that simply limits sales of ultra-violent games to kids without prohibiting speech,” said Yee, a San Francisco Democrat.

Maybe, maybe not. Since it only takes four justices to agree to hear a case, that one fact is no indication of how the Court might rule on a case.

Personally, I am hoping they vote to sustain the 9th Circuit’s ruling.

A Modest Proposal For Immigration Reform

Via Twitter, I came up this 2007 Examiner article by Dan Riehl of Riehl World View that offers what seems like the beginning of a way out of what has been little more than three year long shouting match over the subject of immigration, illegal immigrants, and immigration reform:

As with current and past generations, future generations will comprise peoples from all over the globe. But there must be a traditional America to which they can emigrate, or we risk becoming more a reflection of various other nations, than one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Shoring up our borders, along with our institutions, is a good start, as is the enforcing of current immigration law as written. But then we should also allow for some compromise on decent, hard-working individuals who, while perhaps entering illegally, have honestly contributed to America in the best of ways.

As Americans, we’ve significantly benefited from their labors, whether we like to admit it, or not. And having secured said benefits through lower costs in goods and services, it would be hypocritical to turn our backs on them now.

That looks like a reasonable compromise from here.

And from here, too.

There are really too two different issues at play in the immigration debate, but they’ve become tangled together so much that it’s become impossible to have a reasonable discussion about the issue.

On the one hand, we’ve got the issue of border security. Even before September 11th, the idea that our southern and northern borders, along with the ports and the airports, should be secure was something that should have been self-evident. After 9/11, it’s a matter of national security. The idea that someone could walk across the border virtually undetected is something that everyone should be concerned about.

The other issue, though, is the fact that America has always been a nation of immigrants, and that immigration has, despite the social disruption it often causes when first-generation immigrants struggle, been a net-plus for our country socially and economically. Yes, there have always been those who have wanted to shut the door to immigrants, but the truth of the matter is that most of the things being said about immigrants from the south today were being said in the past about immigrants from Eastern Europe, Italy, Germany, and Ireland. Like those earlier immigrants, though, most of the people who come here do so to make a better life for themselves and their families, and that’s something we should welcome, not condemn.

Brad Warbiany, one of the co-bloggers at The Liberty Papers, summed it up quite well more than four years ago:

In all situations, the rationale is the same. We got ours, and now we’ll stop you from getting yours. I can’t live with that. By most accounts, I’m pretty privileged. I’m not the son of rich parents by American standards, but by world standards, I grew up in luxury. I was lucky enough to be born in America, and even luckier to be born to educated parents and live in a highly-regarded school district. But does that give me any more right to the American Dream than Francisco Patino? Does it give a Warbiany any more right to the American Dream than a Hernandez? Of course not.

Last, we do still have the security issue. But liberal immigration policies and secure borders are not mutually exclusive. We can secure the borders and still find to keep tabs on who is coming into this country and how. Perhaps that’s a guest worker program, perhaps that’s a new take on our INS and its goals. That may include a combination of things, with a guest worker program combined with restricted social services for a worker’s family. Either way, the nuts and bolts aren’t insurmountable. If we focused half the energy we spend screwing around with the tax code for special interests on developing coherent immigration and security policies, we could get it done and still have secure borders.

Immigration is a thorny issue. But when we stand around and say “we don’t want you here”, I have to break ranks. When they say “these immigrants are damaging our economy”, I have to break ranks. I don’t have all the answers as to how to fix the problem, but I know that I refuse to close our country to people who want to live the American Dream. We have to enforce our laws, but when our laws are contrary to the very fabric of America, those laws need to change.

So where does that leave us ?

Well, let me suggest these starting points:

  1. Secure the borders — From a national security perspective, this seems essential. We don’t need to put an Army on the border, and we sure as heck don’t need to build the Rio Grande Wall. But, there’s no reason we can’t develop a system of monitoring stations and drones to make sure that people aren’t slipping across the border, no matter what the reason.
  2. Commit a serious crime, get deported — Whether you’re here legally or illegally, if you break the law in such a way that you’re a threat to the rest of us, you’ve just lost permission to stay. You’ll serve your sentence in one of our comfortable prisons, but once it’s over, you’re going home. By “serious crime,” I mean any crime of violence; I don’t think we need to be deporting people who run a red light, or pass a bad check or two.
  3. Forget about deporting the peaceful “illegal” immigrants — Call it “amnesty” if you want, but the fact of the matter is that we’re never going to be able to deport everyone who’s here illegally. For one thing, some of them are married to, or parents of, people who are here legally, and breaking up families is not something Americans do. For another, if someone is here working an honest living then they need to be encouraged to come out of the underground economy, not scared into thinking that ICE could be knocking on their door at any moment.
  4. Make it easier to come here legally — Current American immigration law places absurdly low limits on the number of people who can come here legally, and places even more absurd quotas on how many people can come from specific countries. Additionally, the law makes it harder for someone who to come here and start a business to immigrate than it does for someone who just happens to be related to someone who’s already here legally. We should liberalize immigration procedures generally and, more specifically, make it easier for people from Mexico and Central America to come here as temporary workers. That alone would have a significant impact on illegal immigration.

Anyway, that’s just off the top of my head. It requires compromise on both sides.

Which, of course, means that it’s a non-starter in modern America.

Quote Of The Day

From Walter Block, Defending the Undefendable (pg 194 of the Mises printing):

Anything goes between consenting adults, and (implicitly) nothing goes but that which is between consenting adults.

Restraint and coercion are two sides of the same coin: the use of improper force on another.

Restraint of behavior between consenting adults is imprisonment, coercion to compel behavior of a non-consenting adult is slavery.

Tom Martino’s ‘Hot Button’ Earth Day Rant

I just happened to come across this wonderful rant from Tom Martino concerning Earth Day and environmentalism. For those of you who live outside the Denver media market, Tom Martino (a.k.a. ‘The Troubleshooter’) isn’t a political commentator per se but a consumer advocate with both a radio and TV show (similar to Clark Howard, but unlike Howard he does endorse products and services).

So what’s getting this apolitical consumer advocate so worked up concerning Earth Day?

Answer: the fact that the environment has become a Left/Right political issue. The Left uses the environment to ‘fear monger’ citizens into accepting bigger government while some on the Right dismiss the need to combat pollution altogether. Isn’t there a middle ground?

 

Martino hit on two main points about improving the environment which bear repeating: environmental education and technology. I know first hand that the construction industry’s big mantra right now is ‘sustainable design.’ Engineers, architects, MEP professionals, contractors, and designers at every level are receiving training for LEED certification to make their designs more energy efficient and better for the environment. Being LEED certified helps these individuals become more marketable in a very difficult economy (I’m considering receiving this training myself) and nearly every new building design has a LEED rating or some sort of sustainability rating.

The latest CAD and BIM software packages have better tools to calculate energy use, water use, emissions, and the overall carbon footprint of the building in the construction phase as well as the overall expected life of the building. There is definitely a market demand for efficiency in these designs; one does not have to buy into man made global warming or be of a particular political philosophy to realize the benefits (both from an economic and environmental standpoint).

The market plays a role and yes, sometimes reasonable government regulation does as well. Who among us would like to return to a time when automobiles had 12 mpg or less and belched giant black clouds of smoke? One only need spend a few minutes behind the tailpipe of one of these cars* to appreciate just how clean burning modern engines are. It’s in the auto industry’s best interests to make their vehicles even more fuel efficient and cleaner burning, not because government demands them but because consumers demand them.

Perhaps Earth Day is a political day but it doesn’t have to be. I tend to believe there are a good number of people out there who have a similar view of Earth Day, the environment, and environmental policy as Tom Martino who just happen to not be as outspoken as he is. It’s definitely nice to hear someone verbalize and broadcast what many of us are already thinking and is certainly a message worthy of recycling.

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Ron Paul And Rudy Giuliani Still Sparring Over 9/11

In one of the early Republican debates in the 2008 election cycle, Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani sparred over the September 11th attacks and the role that U.S. foreign policy choices may have played in inciting the attacks:

On Iraq, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the Libertarian candidate for president in 1988, stood alone in railing against the decision to go to war, comparing it to a quagmire he said engulfed U.S. troops in Vietnam a generation ago. “We don’t go to war like we did in Vietnam and Korea, because the wars never end,” he said.

When Paul later suggested that terrorists attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, because of what he described as America’s 10-year campaign of bombing in Iraq, an angry Giuliani demanded that he retract the statement.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11,” Giuliani said.

Paul refused to give in, saying that terrorists react to the United States’ actions in the world. “If we ignore that, we ignore that at our risk,” Paul said.

Here’s video of that exchange from nearly three years ago:

That Giuliani-Paul exchange figured prominently in an ad that Trey Grayson ran several weeks ago in an effort to paint Rand Paul as a 9/11 truther.

Now, the battle has been joined again.

Today, Giuliani endorsed Trey Grayson, and issued this statement:

“Trey Grayson is the candidate in this race who will make the right decisions necessary to keep America safe and prevent more attacks on our homeland. He is not part of the ‘blame America first’ crowd that wants to bestow the rights of U.S. citizens on terrorists and point fingers at America for somehow causing 9/11,” Giuliani said.

He continued, “Kentucky needs a Senator who understands the threat posed by our enemies abroad. I witnessed firsthand the destruction and loss of life our enemies can cause. Like me, Trey Grayson knows we must stay on offense against terrorism, and he supports using all the essential tools we have in that fight, including monitoring the conversations and activities of suspected foreign terrorists as allowed by the Patriot Act. He is a fresh face that Republicans can trust to best represent their values – both on national security and fiscal responsibility – in Washington. Kentuckians could not elect a better Senator than Trey Grayson.”

Congressman Paul responded with a statement of his own:

The Neo-Con establishment is pulling out all the stops to beat Rand.

First, Dick Cheney endorsed his opponent. Next, Rick Santorum. And today, Mr. Big Government Republican himself is slithering into the race.

That’s right. Rudy Giuliani has stuck his beak into Rand’s race, endorsing his opponent and blaming Rand for being part of the “blame America” crowd. Disgusting.

Especially since Giuiliani is still committing the same willful distortion that he was guilty of three years ago:

Did Paul really say that American foreign policy was to blame for 9/11 ? Personally, I don’t think so. What he said was that American foreign policy was a contributing factor to the formation of the forces that now seek to destroy us.

And Andrew Sullivan contends that Giuliani openly lied about what Paul said:

Giuliani, interestingly, openly lied about Ron Paul’s position on 9/11. Paul specifically did not make a statement, as Giuliani immediately claimed, that the U.S. invited 9/11. I rewound to double-check. It was the Fox questioner who ratcheted up the stakes on that question, not Paul. Paul demurred on a specific answer and switched the question to the general issue of blowback. As to who’s right, the answer is both. Bin Laden – still at large and operating within the territory of Pakistan, an alleged ally which Cheney recently visited – both justified the 9/11 attack on those grounds but has a theology that doesn’t require such a casus belli. But now he doesn’t even need the theology. We have, alas, made more terrorists by our bungling in Iraq than Bin Laden could have dreamed of just six years ago.

That, I think, is the point that Congressman Paul, somewhat inarticulately, was making last night. American intervention and adventure-ism in the Middle East, which has been marked mostly by a history of bungling and backing the wrong guy 9 times out of 10, has helped guys like bin Laden recruit from among the Arab masses.

Another Rudy-Ron battle ?

I know who I’m putting my money on.

Quote(s) Of The Day

First, Megan McArdle:

I am a big fan of roundabouts, and wish that America used more of them in place of intersections or interchanges. Unfortunately, because we don’t have a lot of roundabouts here, drivers don’t quite get them, and they tend to behave very aggressively–particularly, for some reason, those coming off of K Street.

Hmm, I wonder what that reason could be. Could it have to do with the attitudes of the type of people that spend most of their time there?

Next, The Big Picture, with the apt title “‘Recovery’ Bypassing Small Businesses”:

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released its monthly Small Business Economic Trends (SBET) survey, and the outlook for small businesses is still not good. The NFIB counts its membership at about 350,000 small businesses.

I think Ron Paul has the key to understanding that one.

Abortion Is Not Libertarian — Or Conservative Or Liberal

In libertarian circles, the abortion issue is a thorny one, for the same reason as in the general political spectrum: it depends on a priori beliefs outside those of a political philosophy.

It comes down to two different potential mutually exclusive beliefs:

  1. The intrinsic “human-ness” of a fetus begins at conception, or viability, or wherever you define — but nonetheless prior to birth.
  2. “Human-ness” begins at birth.

It’s a near-universal belief, whether libertarian, conservative, or liberal, that humans have certain rights. Libertarians nearly always define these as “negative rights”, i.e. freedom from external restraint or infringement. Liberals typically extend this significantly to “positive rights” or the common good, i.e. everyone has a right to an education, a square meal, health care, etc, and individuals may have some liberties restrained (i.e. income taxes, etc) in order to ensure provision of those positive rights for others. Conservatives, as far as I can tell, more define such positive rights as the ability to live in a stable, moral, traditional society, and are willing to curtail liberties (such as drug use, prostitution, etc) that threaten the wider societal “stability”.

But either way, they all believe that individuals have rights and murder is wrong.

If you believe the first proposition — i.e. that a fetus prior to birth has innate “human-ness” and thus human rights, to allow for that innocent “child” to be killed is murder. While there may be needs from time to time to balance rights of one against rights of another (i.e. when health of the mother is threatened, perhaps), one might side with the mother, but that would be considered a justified moral tragedy, not a dispassionate and lightly-considered “choice”. To someone who believes proposition 1, Roe v. Wade is an abomination, as no amount of privacy justifies murder.

If you believe the second proposition — that a fetus prior to birth has no innate rights, then you have no issue with abortion. At that point the fetus can be considered an invasive and unwanted growth inside ones body, and the removal of such is entirely at the discretion of the mother, as it is her body and thus her choice. To infringe on her personal privacy is thus immoral and not the purview of government.

The belief in the first or second proposition is not covered by any moral theory of libertarianism that I’ve come across. Thus, if you define your view of abortion as a logical outgrowth of the rights the fetus does or does not have, you can impart that a priori belief into libertarianism.

As with all beliefs, there are a lot of people who have gut instincts but have never put in the hard thinking to really boil this down to proposition 1 or 2, and then accept the consequences thereof. Most tend to choose a pro-life or pro-choice position and then try to work backwards to justify it in arguments… But then that’s true of most political debates — the average layman incorporates a lot of subconscious values into his/her belief system, and then chooses the political party that “feels” right based on those subconscious values.

But I personally think that the entire debate over abortion boils down to whether one believes proposition 1 or proposition 2. That is fundamentally not a libertarian, conservative, or liberal belief — regardless of the fact that there’s significant overlap between religions who believe proposition 1 and conservatives, and many secular and liberal folks who believe proposition 2. Believing proposition 1 and allowing abortion is philosophically inconsistent, and believing proposition 2 and disallowing abortion is a violation of individual freedom of the mother.

It’s as simple as that.
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Quote of the Day – Taken from “Government Brutality and Society’s Shadow”

This is an excerpt from a post from the blog Classical Liberal that was written in response to the post Doug wrote yesterday regarding the University of Maryland student police beating caught on tape.

As long as men and women in uniform (State-issued costumes) carry out these violent acts, we think it’s okay, because they’re “protecting us.” But the State gives a false sense of legitimacy to acts that if carried out under other circumstances, would be serial criminal activity.

The government doesn’t do this to us, however, because the truth of the matter, is that it’s merely a reflection of our collective shadow … when otherwise good men and women become agents of savage brutality … turning us all into sociopaths.

This is the price of identifying ourselves with the State.

Read the whole thing. It’s a sad commentary on just how far we as a people have allowed the state to carry out unjustified acts of violence in our name.

Flex Your Rights Presents: 10 Rules for Dealing with Police

The Bill of Rights provides citizens basic protections against unlawful searches and seizures via the Fourth Amendment, protections against self incrimination via the Fifth Amendment, and the right to an attorney via the Sixth Amendment. On a theoretical level, most people probably know this but what does this mean on a practical level?

If the police pull you over, are you required to answer the officer’s questions if he hasn’t informed you of your right to remain silent? What does “probable cause” and “reasonable suspicion” mean when a police officer wants to search your vehicle and do you have a right to refuse the search? Should you consent to the search if you know you have nothing to hide? If the police knock on your front door, are you legally required to let them in if they don’t have a warrant? Are the police legally required to tell the truth or can they make false promises or otherwise trick you into waiving your constitutionally protected civil rights?

If you are unsure about the answers to these questions, don’t feel bad; I wasn’t too sure myself. The 4 part video series 10 Rules for Dealing with Police from the group that calls itself Flex Your Rights answers these questions and more in terms a lay person like myself can easily understand. Some of the advice is common sense (see rules 1, 7, & 8 below) while others are more legal in nature.

Whether you are a “law abiding citizen” who almost never has an encounter with the police or a “cop magnet,” this advice not only could keep you from being in serious legal trouble but also keep you from being beaten, tazered, or shot (if you follow these rules and these things still happen, you have more legal recourse against offending officers).

If you don’t have time to watch these videos right away, here are the 10 Rules for Dealing with Police in brief:

1. Always be calm and cool. [Don’t give the police any reason to act aggressively; they do have a very dangerous job and if they feel threatened they are more likely to act aggressively].

2. You [always] have the right to remain silent. [The best way to assert this right, especially if the police insist on questioning you is by asserting your Sixth Amendment right to legal council and KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT until your lawyer advises you otherwise].

3. You have the right to refuse searches. [Assert this right by calmly and politely telling the police officer “I don’t consent to searches”].

4. Don’t get tricked. [Yes, the police can legally lie to you and trick you into waiving your civil rights].

5. Determine if you are free to go. [Ask the officer: “Are you detaining me or am I free to go?”].

6. Don’t expose yourself. [Don’t do anything that might appear suspicious in public].

7. Don’t run. [Running from the police is never a good idea].

8. Never touch a cop. [The simplest touch of a police officer can be considered assault; don’t do it].

9. Report misconduct: be a good witness.

10. You don’t have to let them in. [You do not have to let the police in your home unless they have a search warrant or there is an emergency which requires immediate action on their part. If you allow them to enter, anything they might find that could incriminate you can be used against you because you unwittingly waived your Fourth Amendment rights].

Here’s the series in its entirety (parts 2-4 are below the fold).

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Quote Of The Day

Call this one the “MSM Edition”:

The law promises that people can keep coverage they like, largely unchanged. For members of Congress and their aides, the federal employees health program offers much to like. But, the report says, the men and women who wrote the law may find that the guarantee of stability does not apply to them.

Now, like most of Congress, I haven’t read the 2000+ pages of the health care bill. But I’d think it a fair bet to say that the “promises” and “guarantee” that this journalist refer to come from Obama’s statements, not the text of the legislation. Of course, I’d love to be proven wrong, but I’m guessing that’s not going to happen.

There’s some schadenfreude to hear that Congress’ health plan might have been invalidated by a law that none of them have read. But when you’re getting screwed, it’s only a minor consolation to know that everyone else is getting screwed too.

Video Captures Campus Police Beating University Of Maryland Student

It’s always a raucous time on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland after a basketball game, especially after a game against the Terrapins long-time ACC rival Duke, and March 5th was no exception as about 28 students ended up getting arrested for rowdy behavior and public intoxication. In turns out, though, that it was U of Md campus police who really got out of control:

Prince George’s prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation of three county police officers who beat an unarmed University of Maryland student with their batons after a basketball game last month in an incident that was caught on video and surfaced publicly Monday, authorities said.

County police also ordered an internal affairs investigation of the three officers, Maj. Andy Ellis said. Ellis said the inquiry would also focus on a county officer who filed official charging documents that are contradicted by the video.

“The video shows the charging documents were nothing more than a cover, a fairy tale they made up to cover for the officers’ misconduct,” said Christopher A. Griffiths, a lawyer for the student. “The video shows gratuitous violence against a defenseless individual.”

Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton said that one of the three officers had been identified and that his police powers have been suspended during the investigation. The other two officers will also be suspended as soon as they are identified, Hylton said.

“I’m outraged and disappointed after viewing the video,” Hylton said. “That’s not the type of professional conduct we promote. Any employee who uses excessive force will be held accountable.”

(…)

The video shows McKenna on the sidewalk as he skips and throws his arms in the air. He stops about five feet from an officer on horseback, the video shows. In the video, McKenna’s arms appear to be in front of him, but he does not appear to touch the officer or the horse. His hands are empty.

McKenna backs up, then two county police riot officers rush toward him from the street, the video shows. The officers slam McKenna against a wall and beat him with their batons. McKenna crumples to the ground.

As McKenna falls, a third county police riot officer strikes his legs and torso with his baton. The video shows the officers striking an unresisting McKenna about the head, torso and legs — more than a dozen blows in all.

Because they are wearing riot gear, the officers who hit McKenna are not easily identifiable.

In the video, county police officers and officers on horseback from the Maryland-National Capital Park Police are seen nearby. They do not intervene in the incident with McKenna. The officers form a line and move toward the students who had been milling about, the video shows, and the students move back.

The video also shows that the charges that were brought against this group of students were nothing more than a charade meant to cover up what is clearly a case of police mis-conduct.

Watch for yourself:

Fortunately for these students, someone was nearby with a video camera to record what really happened. If not for that, they’d be the ones facing charges right now

Happy Birthday, Mr. Jefferson

America’s Third President was born 267 years ago today.

Since there isn’t anything to write about Jefferson that hasn’t already been said, it seems appropriate to let his words speak for themselves from the text of the two written documents that he was most proud of throughout his life.

First, from the Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom:

[Sec. 1] Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

[Sec. 2] Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

And secondly, of course, from the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security

A perfect man ? No.

A man who saw where the future was going ? Yes, I think absolutely.

Justice Stevens Announces Retirement From Supreme Court

After months of rumors and speculation, Justice John Paul Stevens officially announced today that he is retiring from the Supreme Court:

WASHINGTON — Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, the leader of the liberals on the Supreme Court, announced on Friday that he will retire at the end of this term, setting up a confirmation battle over his replacement that could dominate the political scene this summer.

In a brief letter to President Obama, whom he addressed as “my dear Mr. President,” Justice Stevens said he was announcing his retirement now because he had “concluded that it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court’s next term” in October.

The retirement by Justice Stevens, 89, had been widely expected, because he did not hire the usual number of clerks for next year’s term.

The White House has been quietly evaluating potential nominees for months. Among those rumored to be in contention for the nomination are Solicitor General Elena Kagan and several appeals court judges, including Diane Wood and Merrick Garland.

A soft-spoken Republican and former antitrust lawyer from Chicago, Justice Stevens has been the leader of the liberal wing of a court that has become increasingly conservative. He was appointed by President Gerald Ford in December 1975 to succeed Justice William O. Douglas, who had retired the month before. He is the longest-serving current justice by more than a decade.

No doubt the Obama Administration has been considering replacements for Stevens for months now given all the speculation, but it’s worth noting that three weeks elapsed last year between Justice Souter’s retirement announcement and President Obama’s selection of Sonia Sotomayor to replace him. This time around, Obama has even more time to consider the nomination so we may have to wait awhile to see what they do.

As I’ve noted before, Justice Stevens is perhaps the most liberal member of the Court. Given that, it’s unlikely that whoever Obama appoints to replace him will have a significant impact on the ideological balance on the Court, except perhaps in close cases where a particularly persuasive Justice might be able to persuade a swing vote to accept his argument.

Nonetheless, given the political climate, the fact that this is an election year, and the record we already have from the Sotomayor hearings last year, I think we can expect that this while be a very politically charged nomination process. Although I don’t think there’s been a Supreme Court nominee since Bork that wasn’t politically charged.

An Army Of Davids, With Video Cameras

Fox’s Neil Cavuto spoke last week with Adam Sharp, the blogger who posted a video of a Democratic Congressman saying he doesn’t worry about the Constitution:

Sharp is, of course, referring to a book by Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds titled An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths which I reviewed way back in March 2006.

If you haven’t read it, you should.

Update: Brad Warbiany also reviewed An Army of Davids right here at The Liberty Papers, you can read Brad’s review here.

The Census Open Thread

The census is a bit of a lightning rod for libertarians, largely due to the questions in addition to the actual enumeration. Fundamentally question #1 on the census is definitely Constitutional, and I’d say the additional questions asked are mostly harmless. But I didn’t fill those out.

I answered question #1, and only question #1. I crossed out the additional questions for all 4 residents of the house. I might have blown the whole thing off, but I have a feeling that it would have resulted in a personal visit from a census worker, which I suspect would have a) wasted taxpayer dollars and b) resulted in my wife giving them the answer to any question they asked. I hope that not answering the additional questions will make the census workers realize that I’m an ornery libertarian that doesn’t intend to comply, and they’ll not visit the house.

When it really comes down to it, I’d have no moral compunction about tossing the form in the trash, and feel no obligation to even fill out question 1. I don’t think anyone in Congress “represents” me, so I care little for apportionment, and I try to limit my exposure to federal pork, so I don’t care if my community gets their “fair share”. As an anarchist, I don’t consider myself bound by the Constitution, so the argument that it’s Constitutional holds little weight with me. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t consider themselves bound by the Constitution either, which is why we’re discussing our “fair share” at all.

So what did our readers do? Fill out the whole thing, partially respond, or nothing at all?

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