Apr 30, 2013
Polls show that 38% of pro-lifers think highly of Planned Parenthood. Says Jim Geraghty:
I suppose we should be thankful that the public can still differentiate between Kermit Gosnell and Kermit the Frog.
That’s not all the news in the ignorance department, either. These people help choose our leaders. Unfortunately, this is what democracy looks like.
Apr 25, 2013
I linked to this article earlier, but I wanted to highlight a quote:
But the problem might be less with Obama and more with democracy itself. To be a citizen in a mass democracy is to live in a permanent state of political frustration. There are so many people in the country with so many different views, and the institutions of a mass democracy are inevitably so clunky, that the political process isn’t going to give you what you want very much of the time.
Like the people who founded this country, I’ve never been convinced that more democracy in government is always a good thing. The old saying that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner is cliche, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Our system was supposed to be a Constitutional Republic, with some democratic features, but with enough restraints placed on government that we could govern a large, diverse country without constantly being at each other’s throats. Unfortunately, the more democracy you add to the mix, the more it seems like those restrains don’t matter.
Apr 3, 2013
Like people everywhere who ride political hobby horses, big money is condemned when it’s coming from the right, but suddenly, they go silent when Bloomberg dumps millions of his own dollars into gun control. I think free speech is important enough that I would never argue government ought to be used to silence Bloomberg, anyone else, or even corporations, by restricting the money they can spend on hawking their message to the public. I’ll gladly help use our own speech to tie the gun control issue to an obnoxious, meddling, wealthy plutocrat who also happens to be Mayor of New York City and watch it sink like a stone in most of America.
I strongly disagree with the author on the matter of speech suppressing laws under the guise of campaign finance reform, but I at least hand it to him for being consistent.
Mar 29, 2013
ATF raids FPS Russia. Seems they are using a novel theory that if you take video of, say, shooting Tannerite, then make money off the YouTube videos, you need to have an explosives license because you’re “engaged in the business.” Sounds like bullshit to me. Sounds like his crime was having a high profile in a gun issue, and doing things that generally displease bureaucrats.
Mar 27, 2013
SayUncle is losing his coverage. This is going to be repeated a lot throughout the country. I’m not unconvinced the idea wasn’t to smash the existing system so that people would beg for single payer.
Mar 11, 2013
Over at Volokh, they are covering the high capacity soda ban being overturned by a New York judge. The grounds would seem to be that the power to do so was improperly usurped from City Council, and thus violated separation of powers. This pleases me, because I think the judicial weakening of the non-delegation doctrine was one of the greatest injuries to liberty undertaken by the courts. It’s a pretty simple concept: if someone thinks something ought to be illegal, the legislature should have to pass a law.
Mar 7, 2013
One key theme of Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster speeches was that the filibuster was about reinforcing the advise and consent function of the Senate against the Executive. There was quite a bit of discussion going on in my social media corners about how Congress should stand up to the President more – regardless of who is in power. In general, it got people talking about the limitations of government and how government should be effectively run. It was all rather refreshing to watch.
But that got me thinking about another nomination process issue that has been overlooked. The last couple of weeks, folks have been talking about the fact that unlocking your cell phone is now a felony with a penalty of up to 5 years in jail. Yes, 5 years in jail for wanting switch cell phone carriers. Who the hell made that decision? Well, the Librarian of Congress, James Hadley Billington, is ultimately charged with the task.
That got me looking up just who the hell the Librarian of Congress thinks he is if he is ultimately tasked with making regulatory decisions that make people who want to switch cell phone companies into felons. He was nominated in 1987, more than 10 years before the DMCA would even become law and leave such decisions up to the Library of Congress. He was approved on a voice vote, and the issue of his nomination has never been revisited again as far as I can tell in a few searches of Thomas. I would argue that once a man is given such power, it would probably be wise to haul him in for questions about how he plans to do with his new authority to make Americans using common technology into felons, and maybe revisit who should have this role.
Of course, some might argue that because I was using a pretty handy tool of the Library of Congress to do some digging on the Librarian of Congress, maybe the Library just stepped out of bounds on this one issue. Well, as Reason highlighted this week, a retired guy with just a high school diploma and some computers has created a database of historic newspapers with 22 million newspaper pages with just the expense of some equipment he bought himself and an internet connection. Meanwhile, the project to do the very same thing that Billington has created costs taxpayers $3 a page and only managed to archive 5 million newspaper pages. Even with the credibility of the Library of Congress behind it, Billington’s historic newspaper project sees less than half of the traffic of the archive of an amateur.
I guess with all of the enthusiasm that accompanied Rand Paul’s reminder of Senate checks and balances, I wonder if questioning past appointments who haven’t faced nomination scrutiny in more than a quarter of a century will ever be on the table. In the case of the Library of Congress, there are clearly questions about their copyright policies if Americans can become felons for wanting to unlock the cell phones they legally purchased and there are also clearly some questions about smart spending of resources. Maybe it’s time to again question the authority of someone who has been in power with little oversight for 26 years.
Mar 6, 2013
The ACLU would seem to be getting concerned about the increasing militarization of our police forces. I’m glad groups on the left are starting to notice what libertarian minded people have been worried about for years.
But personally, I’m OK with the police having cool toys to play with, as long as I can have the same toys myself to play with. If the military has all this surplus they want to get rid of, why not auction it off at bargain basement prices? Why should we reserve tanks to the 1%?
Feb 28, 2013
The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to possibly start moving gun control today, but they’ve decided to put it off for at least a week. They are waiting on a Tom Coburn/Chuck Schumer deal before they act. However, Sen. Grassley is saying that he thinks the universal background check bill could be passed without a deal. (Iowa, it sounds like you need to be making more phone calls…)
I’m happy with the delay since now it means I know I can go to the gun show this weekend and get lots of people signing postcards to Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey asking them to oppose gun control legislation. We’ll use the extra time to mobilize more people.